Friday, December 24, 2004

Christmas Shopping

I can't believe I am writing this. I went shopping this morning at 5:00am. Yes at 5 o bloody clock this morning I was pushing a trolly around my local Tesco's in the folorn hope that they would have some mince pies. There seems to be a serious mince pie shortage in Plymouth. I am expecting the Prime Minister to make a statement later.

And no this wasn't last minute buying, we went out last night to do the shopping like normal people, but like in Honduras before the hurricane hit or like the GUM shop in Soviet Moscow, the shelves where bare, not only of Mince Pies but of every thing else ebible or christmas themed.

Not a sprout, not a satsuma, not a pack of pink sausage meat to be seen! And this wasn't just the local shop this was a stay open 24hours mega store on the outskirts of town. So we hardly did any shopping and we have guests for supper tonight and nothing to feed them. Hence the 5am trip to the shops. But surprise suprise the shelves were still empty.

So I have had to revert to the hunter gatherer mode of my brain. I have to provide for my family if it kills me or it means killing others who get in my way. I have searched my desk for suitable weapons and shortly I will be hitting the Jungle we call town on a mission. I have my stapler fully locked and loaded and strapped to my ankle I have the hole punch for emergencies. For close combat I have sharpened that thing you use to take staples out of the pages.

I'm like Arnie in Predator I'm going to get those mince pies and the makings of the meal tonight if its the last thing I do.

I may be gone sometime......

Thursday, December 23, 2004

The Perfect Sandwich - USA I take it all back!

Well I admit it I was tempted by American Culture today and finally succumbed. Yes friends I went into Subway and bought a sandwich. And I might say it wasn’t half bad.

Now as a veggie there’s not much can go wrong with a sandwich is there? Ha, you’re wrong. Buy any veggie (can only vouch for these) sandwich at a motorway services or any garage up and down the country (in the UK) and that will prove you wrong. These things are generally over powered with mayonnaise or some other chemical concoction purporting to be mayo and are 99% cheese based, well they call it cheese but it usually tastes like some bland effluent from a cow rendering plant that’s gone hard in the sun. The bread, well the limpid white hardened scum scrapings they call bread is enough to make you constipated for a week such is its relationship to that squirty foam that fills cavities in your house.

But at Subway they seem to have got that art of sandwich making right! All hail the American Dream, life, liberty and the pursuit of the perfect sandwich! It all starts with a choice of bread. I had the Veggie delite and chose a Parmesan and herb roll. Then onto the production line of foodstuffs – Fordism finally harnessed for the benefit of mankind! First cheese (tasted alright to me) then the layers of crisp fresh looking salad (probably an over kill of chlorine but I couldn’t taste it)then tomato, cucumber, various pickles and wait for it – chillies! What a sandwich, cut in half and bagged for the trot to the office. Perfect.

I can’t praise the ingenuity of the Yanks too highly here. I know I’ve been down on them in the past, but its Christmas and I’ve just had a good sandwich and my belly is full. The only problem I can see are the crumbs in the keyboard but I can’t blame them for that – can I?

10 New Years Resolutions I will NOT be making this year

10 New Years Resolutions I will NOT be making this year

This next year I will not be:

1. Invading the USA and overthrowing the legally elected Government (subject to change of mind)

2. Writing a best selling novel and then selling the blockbuster film rights – too busy blogging

3. Climbing Mount Everest without Oxygen

4. Mailing Mike Tyson with the threat ‘if he wants it one more time, I’ll be waiting…’

5. Sending my daughter for a weeks holiday at Michael Jackson’s Never Never Land

6. Spending my holidays doing charitable work in Iraq

7. Suggesting David Beckham for an Honorary Degree at this University – Luton can have him

8. Snogging Kylie and then turning over to snog Beyonce and then… (I promised the wife not to do it again)

9. Audition for the X Factor with a great song and dance routine I’ve been perfecting in the shower

10. Applying to go on ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire’ as I don’t want to show up all the other contestants and I can just as easily answer all the questions at home in the comfort of my chair with a beer or two

Happy Christmas one and all

I hope all your New Years Resolutions all come true.

Peace, Love and Happiness.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Rose Coloured Spectacles - yes that's Spectacles Thank you

I don’t know if it’s just me getting older but don’t the kids today look a state! There are loads of them about at the moment now that the teachers have given up the ghost for Christmas and are even now shacked up somewhere warm with a large bottle of duty free Bacardi and Mary from the 4th form. Yes the City is full of Chavs shoplifting to their hearts content and staring with wistful eyes at the cheap Jewellery in Argos.

What worries me though is how on earth the nylon track suit became the fashion icon it is. Top this off with the ubiquitous baseball cap and knock off Burberry scarf and it becomes a ludicrous statement of unfulfilled potential. For example, these kids all wear sports gear yet I bet I could probably beat most of them in the 100 metre dash. I bet even the fat bastards that are employed as security could catch them at a pinch. I mean these kids are never going to fulfil the promise of the tracksuit and become Olympic champions.

They are never going to go to New York City so why wear the baseball cap with NYC on the front, why wear the baseball cap at all is possibly a more apt question? I know it’s a fashion thing and as a sociologist I could go on all day about anomic youth and the intrinsic power of youth sub cultures, inclusion, exclusion and the influence and glamour of rap music but that’s boring.

Now when I was young we were much sharper. No baggy, nylon for us. It was the late 1960’s and me and my mates were skinheads. Now let’s get this straight before we even start. When the first skinhead fashion started in Britain it was about music, usually ska and reggae, especially the Trojan Label, dressing in a suave manner and not being racist or fascist in fact many skinheads were Jamaicans or 1st or 2nd generation because of the music. In fact despite being part of the skinhead ‘gang’ my mate and I had long hair and never had it cropped.

The clothes we wore were most important. If it was casual day wear for example I might wear a checked Ben Sherman or Brutus shirt. Levi jeans (turned up at the bottom) but not skin tight like the fashion is now (No braces for me) ox blood red Doc Martin Boots and a black Harrington Jacket. For the evening at the club/disco I might wear a two tone suit made to measure at Burton’s the tailors. Another Ben Sherman shirt (my favourite was an apple green colour which I see they are still using now) with button down collars, Black Brogue shoes (no steel caps) and a Crombie overcoat bought again at Burtons Tailors. This was topped off with a dress handkerchief in the top breast pocket.

Now I might be biased but doesn’t that sound a lot smarter than a scruffy baggy nylon track suit bought cheap off the market or even cheaper at JJB Sports? And as you might well guess this sort of clothing involved quite an investment from what was then a very light pay packet. I was an apprentice in a factory at the time so if I remember my pay packet at that time was something like £6 a week.

I still had my Lambretta scooter too and drove that around town with verve. How cool was that better than some souped up GTI I’m sure (although not when I fell off, which happened a few times)

I know, I know, rose coloured spectacles and all that. I know it’s in the sociological literature that all generations look back to times gone by and think they were better than what’s going on today. But come on you’ve got to agree with me. What are the chavs of today going to look back on with fond memories? I know it’s a bit sad but I still do wear Ben Sherman shirts and do have a Black Crombie overcoat (this time from M&S), I’ve forgone the two tone suits but I do get a flash of pleasure when I see one. I’ve even got some black brogues and if my jeans are a little too long I will turn them up and think, hey that looks good! And you still can’t beat a bit of Trojan Label Reggae.

I know the kids of today must do their own thing and I wouldn’t want to stop them, but this chav fashion just seems to be so soulless and joyless maybe it IS some statement about the life these kids are forced to live. Maybe it IS about unfulfilled potential when they have the TV and Media screaming at them 24/7 - have this life style - be like posh and becks, get some bling into your life, be someone, be a popstar, be like Wayne Rooney, come on its easy.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Cosmopolitan Hell

Now that I’m living the cosmopolitan life style I find its not so much fun. Clearly the wife and I are not fashionable enough to be living in such an environment – we look out of place set against the stark minimalist lines of our birch effect furniture. We need to have the angular body lines and good breeding of someone like Tara Palmer Tomkinson and Hugh Grant. It’s a sad fact but I’m afraid we clash with our furniture.

But that’s just not us is it. We made a mistake, sucked in by the Swedish design wizards who make all this stuff so available, so cheap, so life changingly, magnetically, headturningly full of wantability. I’m in marketing so I should have known the traps that lay ahead. I should have seen through the hype, I should have known! I may have to send my degrees back to my almer mater before I get court martialed by the sociology police.

The other thing about living in this minimalist hell is one needs to be really tidy. Anally tidy, not just your normal,’ O I’ll pick it up in a minute, tomorrow, sometimes this week (maybe the weekend if I feel up to it) tidy’. Tidy enough for a Freudian analyst to question you seriously about how your parent’s potty trained you.

I spent hours on Saturday and parts of Sunday using my furniture making skills assembling the flat packed jigsaw puzzles the Swedes call furniture. Amazingly it all went to plan without any major hiccups. We were lulled. The bookcases were attached to the wall, the seating assembled; the table took pride of place in the ‘eating area’; the fashionable knick knacks had been arrayed. We stepped back and gazed adoringly at our new lifestyle - soon we would be rich and famous.

That’s when we noticed it - the general untidiness of our lives. Where do you put all your stuff? Where does the ephemera of day to day living go? The bills, the tat picked up on holiday, the bits and pieces that you drag out of your pockets day after day after day, all the stuff you’ve nicked from work for example? You can put it on the table but then its untidy and immediately you’re living the life of a chav. Because one bit of stuff draws to it other bits of stuff. I bet Einstein had a theory about it, or it’s what he based his own theories on. That theory about equal and opposite attractions for example. Untidy stuff always attracts other untidy stuff – I bet they’ll find that in his long lost writings, stuffed in a book somewhere in Cambridge. Perhaps that’s why its lost, someone, probably his mum, had a tidy up. Come on admit it how much useful stuff has been lost after a tidy up?

Now we might have to move. It’s like living in one of Lawrence Llewellyn Bowens worst nightmares. We need to find somewhere more comfy, not the soulless birch desert we now inhabit having to move through the room like a herd of browsing cattle picking up each bit of litter, socks, coffee cups, pens, children etc as they make the place look untidy. Plus our three piece suite totally does not go. I’m sure the guys at DFS have already heard on the grapevine.

‘Calling all salesmen Calling all salesmen’

‘10/4 come back good buddy’

‘Fashion faux pas warning at No 25’
‘What’s that ducky?’

‘Brown Velour suite is clashing with new Ikea inspired minimalism’

‘O MY GOD!, I’ll send the leaflets immediately and contact Linda Barker – those poor poor people it must be hell!’

At least our bedroom is a haven of normality. I say normality, but after moving in at the end of November we are still living out of boxes and suitcases. Tonight the mirror fronted wardrobes are going up. Then it’ll be like living in a Fred Astaire movie in the 30’s all that glass (although methinks more like a Swedish Fred Astaire Movie, if you catch my drift). Then I’ll not be able to find my pants or socks. These things have so many storage options, I’ll have a senior moment and I’ll forget what I’m looking for. It’ll probably take me longer to get dressed in the morning, and then I’ll be late for work, get the sack and not be able to pay the mortgage and be homeless.

I blame it all on Ikea! Bastards!

Friday, December 17, 2004

Ikea 2 - Into the Pit

Ikea 2. Into the Pit

Far Far away in another Galaxy Ikea does not exist – what need of Bonj Seating in zero gravity? I ponder this as I pilot the Ford Transit out of the rental forecourt. It’s a bit beaten and it’s been around the Universe a few times, it’s no Millennium Falcon but its mine – at least for the next 24 hours.

My crew mutters to me in a strange language, I ignore it; after all it’s my wife who got me into this mess. Her with her post communist ways, I didn’t bring her here just to embrace capitalism with so much verve. She mutters to me again, this time in English, reminding me that this sector of Plymouth is peppered with speed cameras. I reassure her that I have no speed on me. Indeed I have never done any class A drug.

As we hit the M5 I push the old ship to warp factor 6 and boy does she go. I tap a few keys and confirm with my office that today I am ‘working from home’. I’ll assume that they know that I live in a tin cave that is nosier than an Apollo launch on a quiet Sunday in Florida.

Two hours is all it takes for us to reach the old haunt of my personal nemesis. We dock the smoking old ship and approach the grey haunting cliffs of Ikea on foot. As we reach the bottom of the cliff the great maws of the beast slide open with a deathless hiss. I am transfixed. My life flashes before me. I try to remember the moves from my old training manual. ‘The Captain Kirk Method of Restraining more Powerful and Bigger Aliens while only being a Mere Mortal with a tri-corder’. Damn, I’d also forgotten to wear my Girdle (guaranteed to make me more manly and irresistible to strange women just like Kirk)

We were drawn inside my crew and I, we were powerless, transfixed by the bright lights, the discounted products and the promise of strange alien meatballs.

‘Chekhov status report please’ I barked. I staggered as a huge force hit me. It was my wife reminding me her name was Tonya and not Chekhov. We made for the wardrobe sector.

Three hours later found us still wandering around the beasts cave for the third time, slightly hysterical and with no hope of escape. I had to admit it I had been beaten despite being braver than Han Solo. My wife however had gained the strength of a super being and seemed to be drugged - such was the strange frenzy of shopping madness that she found herself in.

Every strangely named item had to be caressed, investigated and logged just like a biologist on the Beagle investigating the New World but I am sure that the Captain of that ship (Robert Fitzroy) didn’t have to put up with the pleading, the moaning, the puppy dog eyes and the threats of contacting the Ukrainian Mafia if I didn’t comply when the requests were refused.

I couldn’t contain her the beast had consumed her mind and replaced it with that of a shopping robot. I knew I was safe ( re Asimov’s 1st Robot Law - A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm).

But what of Laws two and three?
Law 2 tells us a robot must obey orders given it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. Clearly this wasn’t happening.

‘No don’t put it in the trolley’ I’d say

She’d look at me with blank eyes, mutter something about it’s ‘only 2 pounds’ and completely disregard my orders.

I couldn’t stop her or 'it' as my wife had now become. The third law had come into force
A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law and as long as the shops are open.

I’m now worrying that she may be pregnant and in the throws of nest building such was the fury of her shopping. I knew I had to do something before this monster destroyed us.
First I distracted her by mentioning food and then God was on our side, she needed the toilet and they are ON THE OTHER SIDE of the checkouts.

We made it unscathed. Soon our holds were loaded with the plunder and my bank was lighter by about 30 million roubles! We left that hell hole behind us chomping down on the strange alien food purveyed at the exit. Strange finger like objects that purported to be Veggie hotdogs and pinkish rubbery Swedish hotdogs that looked like the meat had dropped in from Outer Space. But it was sustenance.

The old machine was soon cruising at warp speed and we sat back and reminisced about the old times. Ha! - how we laughed about forgetting to pay for the picture hangers that had slipped into a box by mistake. How disappointed we were that they were out of Rommsackee footstools and hell we didn’t need a Blaargh kitchen tool holder anyway.

We were just happy to have escaped with our lives and sanity intact (although I can’t vouch for my wife at this time).

O how I look forward to the weekend. Of putting my advanced furniture making skills to the test and then settling back into our new contemporary lifestyle. O how our friends well envy us.

Live Long and Prosper!

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Ikea - The dark pit of hell

Today I will mainly be in Ikea.

As many of you know I have recently moved house to live in that great metropolis that is Plymouth. My wife is ecstatic because now instead of sheep there is Marks and Spencer, all manner of shoe shops, coffee bars, cinemas indeed all the money pits one might expect in this urban jungle.

Yes, we are now living the cosmopolitan life and to do this properly apparently we need furniture from Ikea. Admittedly one does get a little tired of living out of cardboard boxes and suitcases after a few weeks but like anything one can get used to it. My wife however, is not having any of it – maybe its because she’s a Ukrainian?

So I have booked the Transit Van, yes my friends this is serious. So serious in fact that I am considering ‘losing’ my chequebook and getting flu. But I know that this will be in vain, even the guy who rented me the van was sympathetic.

‘Where are you going?’ he asked.

‘Bristol’ I answered.


I nodded.

He shook his head. ‘Most of the rentals for Bristol are for Ikea’ he muttered looking at me with sympathy.

I grunted and looked embarrassed.

We only visited Ikea about 2 weeks ago for a recce, as, if you remember, I had to go to Cardiff. So I took the wife with me planning to have a quick whiz around the shop looking at the prices and stuff. It cost me 300 quid JUST LOOKING. (3 hours!) What did we buy? I DON’T KNOW!

That’s the beauty of this business. You have to trail through the shop past all this stuff and its all just so cheap and yes you just have to have the Smalk light and Tosvig pen holder and the Beork plastic tray etc etc and then at the till its 300 quid! (Ok I did buy a bed for Matilda as well)

This time though its serious – we need wardrobes, a ‘fitment’ (silently screaming inside) for the lounge, table, chairs and other stuff I’m too scared to write it down because the calculator in my head is working overtime (come on now I’m a sociologist, I don’t do maths!) and I’m scared that the total will make my head explode (and yes I do remember it’s a week before Christmas)

The thing that worries me though is none of this furniture is an investment like it was in the olden days. I mean back when furniture was furniture one would buy a Chippendale chair in Oak or Mahogany or a Rosewood whatnot or a Georgian chiffonier and now years later its being featured on Antiques Roadshow on TV with some guy from Eton salivating all over it and caressing it with more sensuality than he has ever done with his girlfriend. I can’t see any one doing that to our Bvalk wardrobes.

Indeed this furniture only has any value while on display in the shop. Once you walk it through the checkout it is basically worthless. Once you have struggled to put it all together and its there in your living room/bedroom, wherever - it is less than worthless because if it ever comes apart it'll never look the same. I mean no one in their right mind is going to buy it off you are they? Unless its to turn the chipboard into toilet paper.

And then due to the wonders of built in obsolescence which seems to be a feature of so many modern designs in a few years it’ll all look so old fashioned the wife will be unhappy and demand another trip to Ikea. It’s a bit like being brainwashed. I didn’t think the Swedes were so clever having being brought up in a time where the only Swedes I knew were the Swedish chef on the Muppets and some tennis player, o yes and ABBA.

So think of me today as I meander around the huge warehouse trying to direct the wife away from more things we don’t need, I can’t even look forward to the meatballs being a vegetarian and all. But on the positive side my house will soon be a palace of contemporary living what with me chipboard fitments and plastic trays that all have names.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Whiz Waz splish splash

I’ve just come across this website which is selling a product which allows women to pee standing up. It’s all well and good, I think, if you want to do that but to tell you the truth I hate having to have a pee standing up, especially in public it’s a minefield of unwritten protocols and laws.

You women may think that being able to pee standing up is some sort of sign of our advanced evolutionary development or something. That it is a power sign that we can sign our names in the snow and have competitions to see who can piss the highest up the wall. I can see the attraction but you might want to think again about the so called benefits of wanting to stand up to pee.

First and I am sure you women know this - male urinals are not the most savoury places in the world. In most cases they do not require signs as you can smell them a mile off. One you have found it you are usually required to wade through about a centimetre of stale piss to get to the actual urinal. The urinals are usually filled with a mixture of phlegm, pubic hair, cigarette butts, chewing gum and those blue things which try to mask the smell but just add another nauseating chemical whiff to the already sordid aroma.

The other thing about standing up to have a piss is that people will come and stand next to you to do the same.

There is generally a protocol in gent’s toilets that is well known. If the urinal has the porcelain ‘individual’ piss pots then the done thing is to choose one that is at least one away from any occupied pot. If it is the older gulley type where everyone just pisses into the half pipe the protocol is to stand as far a way as possible.

If the place is busy then often one is forced to stand next to someone already busy relieving themselves.

This opens up a nightmare of horrors. The worst horror is the guy busting for a piss with the two gallon bladder who pisses like a horse. This is a problem because of the splash back, there is nothing worse that being splashed by someone else’s piss (ok water sports fans I know you do but not me OK and this is not in the context of a loving relationship!)

Then there are the glancers and lookers. One of the key protocols of being in a male urinal, simply to take a leak, is to stand there facing the white tiles two inches away from your nose, not looking at the other guys cocks. But it’s not enough for some guys, no they come and stand next to you shower you with piss and cop a look at your cock. Then on top of it all that they might want to start a conversation! Now come on that’s a complete faux pas. I do not go to point percy at the porcelain to have a conversation with some guy covering me in piss, checking out percy and chatting about the price of fish!

This leads to the second horror of wanting to take a whiz but not being able to because we are now being psychologically terrorised by the guy stood next to us who can waz at will. This means having to stand there for two or three times longer than usual, which for the lurkers in the bog marks you out as someone who might be up for a trip into the cubicles for a bit of fun and games or a blow job at the least.

Then as you start to panic about the lurkers, the glancers and lookers your bladder will start to feel like and resemble the Kalahari Desert in the middle of August, dry dry dry. Not one drip will drop from the end of your knob! (poetic huh?) . This leads to the ultimate humiliation of having to zip up and saunter off like you have done the business back to your table or drink and then five minutes later have to go again and suffer the same horrors like a recurring nightmare or groundhog day.

Then there is the insufferable humiliation of the rogue drips and even unexpected spray back from your own member. This usually happens when you have on light coloured trousers and are at some gala evening or meeting with your girlfriend for the first time. What does one do? Hopefully the place will be empty and they have a multidirectional hand drier that’s not too high up on the wall, so you can dry it off. Another tip is to spray your groin area with water from the tap and blame the high power taps and laugh it off, or stay in the cubicles fending off the lurkers until you have dried out claiming on return a dodgy tummy.

Girls, I know standing up to have a pee is tough and manly and I guess even the peeing etiquette in the ladies toilets gets a little off sometime, but with you it’s much easier to aim, just sit and you hit the target 100% of the times. I guess it’s the hoverers that spray the seats or the transvestite males who use the ladies and still stand spraying the seats. But be warned peeing standing up will not be as much fun as you think it might be.

Old Old Old!!!

I think I’m getting old.

While I have been away from my office and thus unable to blog I have been planning two great blogs. Blogs which would have had you all roaring with laughter, and leaving multiple comments congratulating me on my wit and writing skills. The trouble is I have completely forgotten what I was going to write about. I fear to mention this but I think I have had what Terry Wogan calls a ‘senior moment’!

A ‘senior moment’ is, for example, one of those times when you enter a room with purpose, but the moment you are in the room you find you have forgotten why you came into the room in the first place – a senior moment!

Now I have passed fifty I guess I must get used to these things happening to me and come to terms with it. Like for example, the other day I went into town with 20 Euros in my pocket with the express purpose of exchanging them for real money. Now I know I didn’t change them and I know they were in the little change pocket of a pair of jeans I was wearing, but for the life of me I can’t find those jeans let alone the Euros.

My body seems to be in cahoots with my brain to let me down too. I have a none specific ache in my left foot, which seems to creak alarmingly when I flex it. This never happened when I was 20 or 30 and my legs seem to ache a lot and I am starting to crave Werthers Originals. Of course I have to have a different pair of glasses for every activity. Last time I went to the opticians he suggested bi-focals. I refused as they would be the first step on the slippery slope to old agedness and a sign to one and all that I was no longer at the peak of my powers.

Another thing that worries me is the fact that I can now get Car Insurance from SAGA. I know it would be cheaper but I know that if I were to buy it I could see myself 5 years in the future on a SAGA holiday, wearing my bi-focals, in a nice comfy beige crimpline ‘activity’ suit bought for 5 quid at Oxfam, wearing those plastic shoes you can buy in the newspapers, listening to some git who’s just won the X factor, drooling ice cream down my front as I power my electric scooter (watch this video for some cool scooters -click on Guns Don't Kill people) along the pavement.

It’s not a pretty thought I mean with me being a Doc and a Rev you would have thought that my powers of recollection would be as sharp as a knife. (Although I do buy into the American system where everybody has to wear a name badge as I can never remember names).

The sad thing is that in the UK we don’t even have the comfort of a pension to look forward to. As far as the Government is concerned we all have to work until we drop dead rather than they provide for us in our old age. I have a cunning plan though. I will work like a good boy building up my credit rating and then when I reach a time when I want to retire I’ll apply for as many credit cards and loans as I can hit them all for the limit and then scarper to the Costa del sol or South America or somewhere to live on my ill gotten gains. I mean why not, if they catch you it would only mean prison and really at that age it means you’ll get three meals a day, a bed and lots of time to read and watch TV. Better that than some old stinky home for the aged somewhere getting roughed up by the nurses.

I hope that somewhere in my decaying grey matter something will spark and I’ll remember my original blogs because they were just so good.

O well time for a spot of tea and a nice piece of cake….where’s me slippers?

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Dearly Beloved We are Gathered here Today

Now we are fast approaching the season of good will, that, if we remember, has some religious significance, it has occurred to me that not only am I Doc Rob but I am also the Rev Rob. I have been an ordained Minister of the Universal Life Church, Modesto, California since the 2nd April 2003. If you too wish to be ordained you can just by going to or click here – it’s free.

No I think its time for me to take my ministry seriously. I mean look where the Reverend Ian Paisley has got to in world politics, simply through being ordained into a similar Church. I too, one day, could become a great leader to my flock.

This type of job has its bonuses too. Only work one day a week - on a Sunday. That’s not too onerous is it? And even then it’s not all day. Just Morning Service, and Even Song. Time to get down the pub midday and be invited back for lunch by one of my parishioners.

Then there are the perks, like weddings, christenings and funerals. Not only would I get paid for doing these things I even get invited back for the party afterwards. So it’d be on with the party cassock and lead me to the finger buffet and whiskey. (I think I’m sort of modeling myself on the typical job description of an Irish priest here – they seem to have much more fun that your typical Protestant priests – although the celibacy no sex except with choirboy’s rule seems a bit harsh! Perhaps I can mix n match.)

I’d probably get upgrades when I go on airlines what with being a Doc and a Rev and of course be first in the queue when it comes to the pearly gates. I mean, just being a Rev guarantees being first in line and VIP entry doesn’t it? My theology is not so good in this area so I’m not sure which side of God I’ll be sitting, the right or left-hand side. Perhaps I can seek advice from my readers in this, which is the best side of God to be on, I think its something I need to know. I’d defiantly have a cloud to myself I guess with some foxy angel strumming my harp! I don’t need the thirteen virgin’s thanks very much; the Muslim martyrs can have them. No just one foxy angelic angel’ll do for me.

And of course there’s the TV work. I will probably have a show of my own, on cable or satellite where I’d have to do a few shouty bits of course. Mention fire and brimstone. Have some mates in the audience who can leap up and down a bit and then fall on the floor writhing about a bit making strange sounds like speaking in tongues or klingon or something. One or two could leap up and throw away their crutches, burn their wheelchair or see again. Of course I’d have to have a full gospel choir full of foxy chicks like Beyonce and Aretha and a big haired blonde sidekick like Tammy Faye Bakker (although I promise not to invest all of my money into the arms industry – unless there’s a good return of course)

I guess the workload is rising a bit here isn’t it. But hey didn’t Bobby Dylan once say Gods On My Side? He will Provide.

I suppose once you get into this career the sky’s the limit. I know the Rev Paisley has stalled a bit and has left it a bit late in Northern Ireland, but the Pope’s still going strong. Look at the career path here. If I worked at it I could become a bishop, then Archbishop of Canterbury and then Pope. Why Not? It can’t be that hard. I mean the Pope has been a sick man for the last 20 years and yet he only has to make it to that balcony in Rome mumble a few intelligible words, wave his hands around and the crowd love it.

Although when I become Pope I’d probably not want to live in Rome. I’d probably move. I’ve heard Rome’s not so nice, a bit fuggy, full of nuns, Italians, Japanese photographers and stuff. Can’t be that much fun. I guess as I’m ordained into an American Church I could be Pope in Vegas, I’m sure we have a branch there. And didn’t Jesus hang out with moneylenders and money changers? Yes he went to Jerusalem to the Court of the Gentiles and he had it out with those bad guys. And lo when Jesus arrived with the mass of pilgrims, He overturned the tables and called it a den of thieves and a house of merchandise. Just like Argos or Woolworth’s or Macy's.

See a bit of preaching there, not a bad start. And relevant at this time of year, decrying the houses of merchandise for their money grabbing ways.

Yes so its time for me to mend my ways and take my Reverendship seriously.

God Bless You All

I’ll be attaching my PayPal link shortly so you can make your donations to my Ministry!


Wednesday, December 08, 2004

10 Christmas No No's

10 Christmas No No’s

1. Angelic choirs or young boys with extremely high voices singing popular hits – the Ace of Spades by Motorhead comes to mind
2. Marzipan – why?
3. Mechanical Santa’s, Snowmen, Bing Crosby’s screeching out some unintelligible carol or song because 1. The batteries are flat/cheap, 2. The whole machine is cheap, 3. They remind me of some horrendous horror film not Christmas
4. Nasty cheese based snacks sold in jumbo tubs (cheesy footballs come to mind). These only appear at Christmas. Do they make them all through out the year? So your box could have been in storage since last January – thank god for preservatives
5. The Office Christmas Party/Lunch (mentioned before)
6. Processed Vegetarian Christmas fayre which is the usual sludge but with cranberries added and put in a festive box to make it Christmassy
7. Compilation CD’s with every crap tune you’ve ever heard from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s finding it’s way into your stocking. Especially grating is Noddy Holder of Slade screaming IIITTTSSS CHRIIIISTTTMASS, and that John Lennon Song.
8. Wife mis-reading the signs and buying you an aquarium because once in a garden centre you admired one (this really happened I took it back and bought some Doc Martens Boots with the proceeds – she was not amused, we separated shortly after!)
9. The sad Christmas outdoor light based competitions going on in many streets. (I blame the Americans for this - but recommend National Lampoons Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase as Christmas viewing). Have you seen the cost of some of these lights, let alone the electricity bill!
10. Processed Turkeys filled with preservative, growth hormones and other chemicals with breasts that put Pamela Anderson or Jordan to shame. But hey it’s traditional. I think I’ll have the salad this year thanks.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Rebel Yell - Teeeeaa Yaaah

While I have be driving around this wonderful country of ours taking in the delightful autumn scenes of the trees showing their glorious colours, the fantastic sunsets, the rurality of it all, one thing has jarred. Can somebody please tell me why the tea caravans and huts on the side of the road fly the Confederate Flag?

Now forgive me if I am wrong but I thought that the Confederate forces in the American Civil War fought in support of slavery and segregation and in these latter days the flag was a symbol used by the Ku Klux Klan and other right wing groups as a symbol of race hate. So why do our purveyors of the cup of tea fly this tainted symbol?

Ok let’s go with the idea that they link it more with the notion of being a rebel. What are these bacon butty and burger fryers rebelling against? The price of Bourbon biscuits (named interestingly after another rebel prince!) or even Garibaldi biscuits (another rebel). Perhaps they are trying to empathise with all the truck drivers here in the UK who seem to all come from deepest Alabama as they too fly the Confederate Flag and probably have air horns that play ‘Dixie’ too.

What is it with this fixation with the American Civil War and especially with the Confederate side? I can just about accept that some Americans may feel that it is suitable to fly the Confederate Flag and whistle Dixie now and again at home, in much the same way as some individuals here in the UK feel the need to go and play at being Roundheads and Cavaliers, but in the main we have got over our Civil War, but then again it was quite a long time ago. But I can’t understand why our tea vendors and our truck drivers feel the need to ally themselves to this shameful flag.

Maybe they are all racists - that could be the simplest answer or they just haven’t got over watching the Dukes of Hazzard. Or maybe it was the sight of Daisy Duke in those tight – o so tight hot pants that really twisted their minds. Maybe that’s it, the flags are a sign that the sad individual selling hot coffee has never got over seeing Daisy Duke in all her glory during his formative years and now as a sign of their undying love and in the off chance that Daisy, on a tour of the UK, should need a bacon butty they fly the Southern Cross.

Maybe they need our pity rather than our scorn. Yeee Haaar!

Monday, December 06, 2004

Moving Day - prologue

I wrote this prior to moving but for some reason Blogspot wouldn't upload it, but now we have broadband... The sky's the limit.

For the last two weeks I have been careering around the countryside working, driving too far and too fast, eating too many garage sandwiches. Today I am moving home. I have got up early and am currently sitting amongst the detrius of my life. The room I'm in looks like an extremely high tide has risen and fallen in the room leaving random items strewn across the floor. I'm knackered already and its not yet 8 o clock in the morning. Of course the rest of the family, wife and two teenage boys are still in bed in denial of the work that looms ahead.

Last night I played my last game of squash with the Hatherleigh Squash Club (sob). This club consists of four of us who play squash every Friday night and then limp off to the pub to discuss how well we have done and other world shattering bits of men's gossip over a Guinness or three. Now of course the membership is reduced and I will sorely miss the comradeship will try to get back, as every other week I have my daughter Matilda for the weekend as she lives locally. I am planning to come up on Friday evening, play squash and pick her up Saturday morning. This seems like a good idea but her mum, in an attempt to put a spanner in the works - she is quite an expert at this, is insisting that I pick Matilda up on the Friday. I am resisting but I think my resolve is fast dissolving, just like the anti acid treatment of the same name. (Breaking News as of this weekend, I have been told since I wrote this that my beloved daughter Matilda will be moving with her mum and brother to Sussex! I am naturally devastated. It is over 6 hours away by car, I'll hardly see my beautiful daughter)

I can't believe that I have so much stuff!

Now first off one can't have too many books! I have loads. I have culled them and sold three boxes to a guy in the village who is opening a coffee shop come book and bric a brac shop. But I still have boxes and boxes. Books I have read three or four times - old friends so I can't get rifd of them. Books I have read once, but are now waiting for that long bout of flu that I am due so I can be snuggled up in bed reading ( How I dream of having some none specific, non life threatening illness that would put me in hospital for about 6 weeks. Lying in bed reading with food being bought to me by sympathetic nurses, a bottle of lucazade and a bag of grapes by the bed - bliss. If not that perhaps a short prison sentence - O the amount of reading one could get done!) And books I haven't even read yet but am planning to in a couple of years or so. So books don't count when moving.

There's stuff I can't remember even buying or acquiring. Perhaps someone just dumped it here when I wasn't looking. Of course my Ukrainian wife is very supportive and has set about throwing away as much of my stuff as she can get away with.

Apparently when we move into the new house she wants a 'fitment' in the lounge. Has it come to this I ask my self? Whereas I was once windswept and interesting (but in a different way to Billy Connelly who seems to have become a rabid, homophobic rightwinger) and slightly dangerous (self assessment) I am now in danger of owning a 'fitment'. She says we must have a place to store our glasses and best china for when we have guests (what's wrong with the kitchen cupboards I ask myself? - silently). I think Ukrainians and Russians in general are very big on 'fitments' all the people I have visited in Ukraine have them. Maybe after the current revolution, after Ikea and Tesco's have taken over the country they might change their minds. I am hopeful. I am sure that the current slogans we see bandied about in Liberation Square in Kiev every night are 'we want freedom, democracy and fitments'. But then I don't speak Ukrainian.

Another bad thing about moving home is the lose of the telephone line and thus the internet connection. BT offered a 30 day wait before they could connect the line at the new address. Telewest offered a week to connect and include broadband. The teenage boys have already got cold turkey and can be seen shivering with twitchy fingers at the thought of not being connected for the next seven days. Why does it take so long? They say an engineer must check the line. Surely in this day and age the line either works or it doesn't, so flick a switch and if it doesn't work I'll call you on my mobile to report it. Or what about a pulse of electricity down the line, wouldn't that work? Why does it take a week to switch a line on when it was only switched off as the old occupier moved out a few hours before? How can I maintain my eBay empire without access?

Yes moving day. At least we have the goodbye party to look forward to tonight. Our friends will be coming around to stand in our empty rooms looking at the empty walls and pointing out the dust and the spiders webs we have missed. But I will reward them with bottles of Stella (two boxes for 20 quid at Tesco's - bargain) and pizzas. I will miss them.

Ah moving day. Can I go back to bed with a book please miss?

Moving House

Birds flyin' high you know how I feel
Sun in the sky you know how I feel
Breeze driftin' on by you know how I feel
Its a new dawn, its a new day,
its a new life for me yeah,
its a new dawn its a new day
its a new life for me ooooooooh

Phew what two weeks can do to a battered old git like me. I've been on the road working and just to make things a little easier have moved house during the weekend in between! So now I live in the great metropolis that is sunny Plymouth instead of the middle of rural Devon. I'll miss the sheep!

Now moving isn't so bad if its all arranged and prepared for. So on the given day the removal firm turn up, pack everything safely into boxes, drive to the new place, whilst we are taking a relaxing lunch somewhere and then they place all the boxes into their correct room ready for unpacking, some companies, I believe, even unpack for you, so you can just walk in and continue living.

Of course we didn't do that. After all we have two strapping teenagers so why should we pay grown men, experts in their field to do our removals? So I ordered the van, the LARGE ford Transit woke them up at the crack of Saturday and away we went, plans? Ha! I laugh in the face of plans.

Now can someone please explain this to me. When I first moved into my flat as a foot loose and fancy free divorcee, I used my Peugeot 205 to move myself in. A couple of trips and that was it. This weekend it took three, yes 3! trips to Plymouth in our large Transit Van. Where did all this stuff come from? Ok I know I got married, but as my family is from Ukraine all they could bring was what they could carry on the plane - 22 kilos each. My wife is amazed at the stuff I have and that's not including what she threw away when she thought I wasn't looking.

The strapping teenagers worked well but had to be whipped to keep moving, their stamina for moving seemed to last for about an hour. They were constantly hiding, thinking that in the frenzy of moving I would forget them and move all the heavy things on my own. They had to stop and have rests, coke and pizza at regular intervals, I, of course, had to keep going as the Van had to be back Sunday evening.

I say I laugh at plans but I know well enough to label the boxes, unfortunately no one took any notice, and the boxes my wife labeled were in Ukrainian so that was useful! So all the boxes were placed willy-nilly into the new house and yes one week later boxes are still strewn around the place awaiting unpacking.

We had to buy a new fridge freezer. So on the Sunday I took my wife around the large barns they call shops on the outskirts of Plymouth. Fortunately both Comet and Curry's are right next to each other so it was easy to do the price comparisons! We found the fridge freezer that would fit into the hole in the wall in the kitchen and resolved to come back on Monday after we had moved some more boxes.

The next day we returned to said barn and searched for the sales person. Its a bit like hunting dinosaurs - they're extinct. Eventually we found someone who thought they might like to serve us. So I pointed out the said fridge freezer to the salesperson and he boredly (this was 9:30 in the morning) tapped a few numbers into the computer. 'Sorry sir, we don't have that model! Now this really gets me mad. I walk into a store, with cash in my pocket, cash which I really do want to spend, look at all they have on display, spend time choosing said article and then they say they don't have any! 'Why is it on display then'? Is the question I posed to the salesman. Of course he didn't know. He didn't know when they would have more, he knew nothing! He even told me they didn't have any in their smaller store in town. LIAR LIAR PANTS ON FIRE! Because even as I speak the freezer is icing up nicely. But even that purchase wasn't without its drama.

So we go to the store in town and yes they had the same model and even a better one which was frost free and BONUS it had 40 pounds off making it the same price as the one which presumably gets frosty. So yes please we tell the aged salesperson we'll have that one with 40 pounds off. 'Ahh have you got an old fridge we can pick up then he asks'. 'No, I say, because as responsible citizens we took both the old fridge and freezer to the responsible allocated fridge and freezer tipping place rather than dumping it in the local ditch where eventually all the gases would leak out and kill us all, we are more responsible than that'. 'Ahh he says then you cannot have the 40 quid off as you need to give us your old fridge or freezer' NOBODY TOLD ME! Damn. Ok we'll still have the frost free option for 40 quid more, plus 18 quid delivery he says WHAT! Then he has the temerity to try to sell me a fridge thermometer I tried to get one for free as I was paying cash but not in this day and age! I warned him against trying to sell me an extended warranty!

Anyway we have our fridge freezer, have been to Ikea, bought nothing which seemed to have cost us 300 quid, that's a great business to be in isn't it. And today, which is Monday, I am trying to have a quiet day, not going into work by cashing in my lieu hours and trying not to look into the boxes!

More soon.