Thursday, January 31, 2008

When real life and Family Guy collide

Do you ever have a moment where something happens and you suddenly feel really self-conscious about where you are and what you're doing? I don't often, but yesterday I did.

To cut a long story short, I've started writing my book again. Well, actually that's a bit of a lie - I've started proof-reading my book so I can tighten things up and refresh my memory of what it's all about so I can THEN finish writing it, hand it over to Grum for illustration purposes, and then go buy myself a damned iPhone. Seriously, I'm blackmailing myself - no finito da story, no iPhone; capeche?

I don't quite know when I became a stereotypical ethnic minority gangster, but that's beside the point - that's how I'm rolling these days.

Anyway, let's set the scene: I'm in Secret Starbucks. It's comfortably busy, but I have a table all to myself. My grande misto is to my right, my iPod to my left; the latter is playing tunes that are thematically close in nature to the story I'm writing (I say 'the latter' because I'd hate for you to think that I had some sort of musical beverage). I'm armed with my trusty red proofing pen and I am in the zone. I'm more focused on this thing than a person with 20-20 vision looking through binoculars at a Ford Focus. I'm THAT focused. 

So there I am in my little writing bubble - content and, yes, just a little optimistic as to how this things is coming along. Then, out the corner of my eye I notice the people at the table next to me getting ready to leave. And that's when it happened.

I happened to sit back to take a mouthful of coffee as one of these guys went to walk by; he literally stopped, looked at the papers in front of me, and the red pen in my hand, and instantly my thoughts went to Family Guy.

Now, I don't know if you're familiar with the clip I'm talking about (and of course I can't show you because Family Guy has disappeared off youtube), but there's a moment in the episode 'Bill and Peter's Bogus Journey' that goes something like this:

Chris: Meg, you are so full of crap. You're like those people who sit in Starbucks and publicly write on their laptops. (Scene with two guys typing on their laptops in Starbucks)
Guy #2: Hey, getting some writing done there buddy?
Guy #1: Yeah, setting up in public so everybody can watch me type my big screenplay.
Guy #2: Me too. All real writers need to be seen writing otherwise what's the point, right?
Guy #1: You should totally write that down!
Guy #2: Okay, will you watch me?

I haven't felt that self-conscious since that first-year junior school swimming lesson when I pushed off a little too vigorously from the side and my swimming trunks almost came down. I suddenly had an overwhelming desire to either a) defend what I was doing, b) make an unexpected off-the-cuff remark to deflect attention (such as "I like cats!"), or c) tell him to "mind his own f**king business and f**k off."

Ultimately, I just plumped for looking a bit shifty and wrapping my arm around the page like I was a 10 year-old shielding my work in an exam.

If it happens again, I think I might have to resort to slapping him up a bit with the manuscript.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


My original idea for this post was to respond to IDV's tag-thing where I'm supposed to write about six seemingly unimportant facts or quirks about me. Unfortunately, I couldn't think of any - or at the very least any that wouldn't either a) bore you to tears, or b) make me sound like a borderline psycho.

With that in mind, I think I'll just plod on with the regular drivel. Unless, of course, there's anything you want to know about me? Heck, we could do another 'Ask Tim!' post, because that was such an unmitigated success first time round - maybe this time with more than about three questions though.


Moving on!


Good news everybody! I think I'm finally winning the war against the mutant cough from hell! It's certainly subsided a little bit since I last moaned about it, which gives me hope that I might be able to get back to my regular pastimes of running and, er, not coughing in the next couple of days. It is fighting back a little bit, though; in fact, about 10 minutes ago I coughed so much I literally vommed in my mouth a little bit. Fortunately I swallowed it back down - nice!

Helping me with the fight-back once again today was my friendly neighbourhood barista in Secret Starbucks. After upgrading me to a venti misto on Friday, he told me I should try honey and milk to ease my cough. I laughed, said "sounds like a plan," and didn't try it. Today, however, he asked if I'd tried it, and because I'm nothing if not honest I replied "um… yeeeeee- no." Damn my inability to lie spontaneously. He frowned at me disapprovingly, which made me feel about five years-old, then said "I've got some honey here, I'm going to make you some." "Oh, don't worry," I replied. "No problem," he replied. Shit, I thought.

A minute or so later I found myself with mug of coffee and a takeaway cup full of some wacky honey and milk concoction. "Knock it back in one," he said as I walked to a table, cursing the lack of plant pots in which I could dispose of it. With little other option than to - oops! - 'accidently' knock it over, I decided to just shut up and knock it back. It tasted … awesome. With all things awesome tasting, I can't believe it's actually going to do any good, but it was a freebie, so whatever.

Rather embarrassingly, though, FNB later made me take the lid off the cup in front of a queue of other customers to prove that I'd drunk it all. They must have thought I was either a) a special, or b) that they'd happened upon the world's only fascist-run Starbucks ("You vill drink your beverage and you vill ENJOY IT! UNDERSTOOD?!"). I hate to think what he would've done if I hadn't…


Now, I'm not one to be seduced by advertising often (um, yeah, right!), but while in Sainsbury's last night I couldn't help but pick up a box of Tetley's new redbush tea. 


Redbush. Tee-hee!

Anyway, let it be known that I didn't buy this tea because of the adverts - I've actually liked redbu- tee-hee! -sh tea for a few years now. But, I will admit that I do love the advert nevertheless.

Isn't she just wonderful? It's awesome the way she just mouths off at that alligator and it turns round like a shot. I know who rules the plains of Africa my friends, and it ain't no overgrown lizard. Hell, she even gives a verbal beat-down to a lion last thing at night!

Respect to Mama Bimkubwa!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Cough, cough

I know I've harped on enough about being ill over the last couple of weeks, but the truth is I've still got this vile lurgy. I actually thought I'd gotten rid of it, but in some evil last hurrah it's struck me down with the world's worst cough. 

It kicked in last Saturday, although I miraculously managed to keep it under control during Alien Loves Predator. But it didn't like that, and fought back by getting continually worse over the days that followed. It's that horrible sort of cough - y'know, the one where you do a little cough, then it snowballs into a big badass one where you feeling like you're either going to vom massively or bring up a lung. And I'm not quite sure how I'd deal with a lung hanging out of my mouth; do I just pop it back down my throat, or seek medical attention?

On Tuesday it was pretty horrific, but, like Saturday evening at the cinema, I managed to restrain it for the most part during the Nada Surf gig; it was, however, one of the other factors for the wobbly camera action in my video clip for The Meow Meow Song. Next time I'll thing about taking a Steadicam with me.

Anyway, I thought I'd peaked about Tuesday, but no. For the rest of the week it's been pretty rubbish, to the point that my boss even asked if he could get me a glass of water while I was chatting to him. I wasn't actually sure water would help, but said yes anyway because having your boss do something for you is a rare occurrence that you should never turn down. 

Upon deciding that riding it out might not work, I accepted Sparky Ma's offer of a bottle of Tescos's Blackcurrant and Glycerin cough mixture. Tesco's Blackcurrant and Glycerin cough mixture is quite probably the most awesome tasting medicine in the world. I could, quite literally, neck it out the bottle on a regular basis. The only slight flaw, however, is that it doesn't work. With this in mind, I subsequently accepted Sparky Ma's offer of a bottle of Meltus, which sounds like the name you'd give an evil warlord in a trashy fantasy film, and tastes like what I'd imagine the under-boob sweat of an aged prozzie would taste like, but it actually works.

So I'm actually necking that out the bottle (in carefully measured 10ml shots).

I also made careful note of Sparky Pa's considerate advice, offered while I was in the midst of eating dinner, that I should "try to bring up as much phlegm as I could." While helpful, I quickly found myself putting my knife and fork together and declining the gracious offer of pudding.

Coughing fun had highs and lows yesterday. The high was that it got me the sympathy vote of my friendly neighbourhood barista in Secret Starbucks who upgraded me to a venti (which meant that I was not only off my tits on Meltus, but was also vibrating from excessive coffee), while the low came in the evening while enjoying pancakes at My Old Dutch with some friends. They're funny people, you see, so I was soon coughing quickly and heartilly, and at one point thought I was on the brink of vomming, which quite probably would've put everyone off their pancakes and seen my number of friends seriously diminished in one foul swoop.

So, onto the here and now: it's 22:20 on a Saturday night, my voice is so wrecked from coughing that I sound like Blanche from Coronation Street (who, if you don't know, is a gravel-voiced 800-year old biddy), and I've got a spasm of pain in my chest that makes me think I might collapse on the floor in a dramatic John Hurt stylee and unleash a snappish little alien on the world. 

I also think I need a haircut, but don't know what to have done.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Getting intimate with Nada Surf on a Tuesday lunchtime

Right, so today officially goes down as the most awesome day of 2008 so far. Admittedly we're not too far into it, but I'm pretty sure it's going to be hard to beat regardless.

And it all started on Sunday evening…

I basically spent all of Sunday on my computer - writing, would you believe. But by around nine o'clock I was pretty much done for the day, and was just about to shut it all down when I thought I'd have a quick catch-up with some of my favourite bands on Myspace. And there, on Nada Surf's page, was the following message:

acoustic afternoon London show

Nada Surf will be playing a small intimate midday (1pm) show in London on tuesday the 22nd of jan. YES! Thats next tuesday! The show is invite only and we have some guestlist places for you.. just mail the following address (…) by Monday Jan 21, and we will confirm the lucky winners by email with details of times, venue etc

Ooo… I thought. Then I figured I'd never get tickets, then I figured "what the hell," and I fired off an email.

And on Monday afternoon I got an email back saying:

You are on the list with a +1.
Details below:

kick off 1pm.
its on denmark street

And at that point I pretty much wet my pants.

A few hurried emails and texts later and I had gig-pal Yaz on-side as my plus-one; my bro would've *loved* to have come, but he works waaaaaaaaay out of London, and couldn't get the time off work. Sucks to be him today, let me tell you.

Anyway, I got into work super early this morning (just after seven!) so I could take a half day, scurrying out of the office at around 11:45. As you might expect, I was pretty giddy with excitement. I actually got up town about 40 minutes before the gig was due to start, so I scoped out the location of the venue, then hung out in Borders and Foyles on the Charing Cross Road because I like hanging out in bookshops.

Yaz, of course, was later than she planned to be because she always is. Actually, truth be told it was because the tube was busier than she expected it to be, but we still made it to the venue a smidgeon before one. The gig was being held at the 12 Bar Club, which is so small you could literally not notice it as you walk past; it's tiny tiny, with a little cafe at the front, then a little bar, then a tiny back room that looks like it's been transplanted forward in time from the 1840s or something. Seriously, there's this low beam that runs parallel to the stage that you have to duck under to get onto the stage; it's padded so as not to violate all manner of health and safety regulations.

(If you look to the right of the pic, just outside the door and behind some woman, you can kinda see the lead singer of Nada Surf)

There was also a room with a pool table, and I half expected Yaz to suggest we rack up, but the sight of the three guys from Nada Surf mingling by the bar meant that we decided to, um, hang around the bar with the band like we were too cool for school. Oh, and the drinks were free too, which I think means I can legitimately say that Nada Surf bought me a coke. Hurrah!

Anyway, after lurking for about 10 minutes the band moved into the back room, and like the sheep we are we totally followed them. One of the guys was hanging out a back door smoking and Yaz kept saying things like "I'm gonna go spark up with him," but just as she worked up the guts they all clambered up onto the stage (avoiding the beam), and settled down. And it was a pretty tiny stage; Matthew, the singer was on the far side, with Ira the drummer wedged between him and Daniel on bass. Ira obviously didn't have room for a full drum kit, but managed to use what looked like an upended crate-slash-stool as a viable alternative.

And, of course, I totally pulled out my phone to record a good-times video clip.

To be honest, I kinda felt a bit self-conscious taking videos, because the band were literally about two metres away from me, and wondered if I was being a bit rude. But lots of people were doing it, and I literally couldn't believe I was seeing one of my favourite bands in such a small venue so I thought it best that I had something to remind me of it.

They played some songs off their last album (The Weight is a Gift, the CD that made me the fan that I am), and some stuff off their new album, which I'm pleased to say sounded every bit as good as their older tracks. They also played one of my very favourite songs EVAH - Blizzard of '77:

God, I love that song so much.

In fact, I love a lot of their songs so much. Here's another one (Always Love):

Towards the end of the gig things started to descend into hilarity; there was some discussion about how long they should keep playing, because apparently some people had to get back to work (heh, not me - play on chaps!), then Daniel, the bass player, jumped off-stage to go get a pint, and Matthew, started asking us what song we'd like to hear. We were asked to choose between Blankest Year, which has a chorus that includes the line "oh, f**k it, I'm going to have a party," which is awesome, or the "stupidity" of The Meow Meow Song which … well, listen for yourselves:

I remember them playing this when I saw them at the Shepherds Bush Empire a few years back, but I'd forgotten how hilarious it was. They kind of lost it towards the end, which just made it even funnier. I should actually apologise for the wobbly camera in this clip - I was laughing too much and couldn't help it.

Anyway, they also played Blankest Year, and insisted that we joined in on the chorus.

And then the gig was over - and Yaz and I headed out the doors into the alley behind the club where the band actually ended up hanging out. I even got to shake hands with Matthew, and mumbled something incoherent like "that was brilliant!" Yaz, slightly more chilled than me, said that we'd see them again at the Scala next month, and then I added "I hope you play The Meow Meow Song again there!" Matthew looked at me, probably wondering if I was a bit special, and replied "hmmm… I don't know about that."

I'm totally gonna heckle for it.

All in all, then, an *awesome* afternoon - and on the tube home I totally set my iPod to only play Nada Surf tracks. Good times!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Coming to a cinema near you soon

Education and entertainment

I've been a busy little bee today. Firstly, because I actually managed to do what I'd planned to do last weekend and go to … a Mac workshop!

(And before someone makes the obvious comment, no I do not mean I went to a factory to make waterproof jackets)

No - I went to the Apple Store to take part in an iPhoto workshop. Since I got my new computer, y'see, I've been determined to learn and make use of every aspect of it, and I figured this would be a good way of getting to grips with the new version of iPhoto; the last version I had was pretty basic and I just used it as somewhere to dump pictures, while the new one is a bit more, well, intricate and I want to make proper use of it.

So off I toddled to the Apple Store in Kingston, where I joined an old couple and their crazy friend in some iPhoto-based tuition. Unfortunately, the workshop actually took place in the middle of the store so I was continually jostled by young chavs desperate to find a machine on which to check their Bebo accounts. Good times ahoy, though - a bunch of them were escorted out of the store by a security guard after being a bit too raucous. Anyway, it was a rather well-spent hour; the iDude leading the, um, class took us through the basic bits (which the old lady dutifully noted down in a little notepad), then on to the more complex elements like how to split photos off into events, and how to order photo books and other stuff like calendars and cards. This latter part was actually quite awesome, because I think technically I could use this to self-publish a copy of something Grum and I work on - maybe The Nightlies? OK, it'd be a rather expensive way of doing it, but it would be nice to actually have a physical copy - kind of like a calling card, I s'pose. We'll see - I know how to use iPhoto now, so it's a possibility at the very least.

And I can *finally* organise my photos properly.


In the evening I headed back to Kingston because my bro and I went to see Aliens Vs Predator: Requiem, or AVPR as we're supposed to call it - which I refuse to because it's just a bunch of random letters and doesn't look like it actually means anything.

So, what did we think? Well, overall I enjoyed it. It is a big dumb action film, and nowhere near as good as, say, Aliens, but it killed a couple of hours quite easily, and it was fun to watch lots of pretty young people being killed by having their brains punched out by the aliens' auxiliary mouths. There were a couple of bits that totally ripped off/paid homage to moments in the older films of the respective franchises - most notably a bit where an alien sniffs a young woman, which reminded me of a similar bit in Alien 3, and a bit where a hardcore military mom drove an armoured truck through town, which was like Ripley driving an armoured truck in Aliens. Come to think of it, the hardcore military mom also had a daughter, who I was hoping would say "they mostly come at night. Mostly." Sadly she just screamed a lot.

Just a couple of gripes: firstly - and this is non-spoilerific - some hobos get totally face-huggered-up. Now, we all now that the aliens take on certain attributes of the life forms they impregnate - hence the massive-headed, faintly-ridiculous looking Pred-alien that appears in the film. That being the case, don't you think the face huggers might have taken one look at a bunch of old, drunk hobos, recoiled from the smell, and gone "d'ya know what - I think we should keep looking. Y'know, just keep our options open a bit." Surely the aliens born as a result of huggering-up those wasters would be pretty rubbish. They'd just sit there on their slimy arses, stinking of booze and poo, knocking back Special Brew and singing incoherently. 

The other thing is that part of me – and this also stretches back to the first AVP movie - is kinda troubled by the contemporary setting of these movies. I think it kind of undermines the Alien franchise, which given the choice between the two is, in my opinion,the better of the two beasts. That said, I did like seeing aliens running amok through small-town America. I'm just not quite sure how to tie everything together in my brain. The predator in this movie was a bit of a doofus, though. He turns up on his own to deal with a shitload of aliens (Duuur, take some friends along, make a weekend of it), faffs about, can't aim his guns for toffee, and generally screws things up. Oh, and he's got this little vial of blue goo that destroys all evidence of the aliens; the first time he poured it on a body my immediate thought was "well, you're gonna need a ton more of that, buddy." And what does he do later? Drops it. The tit.

Anyway, one last observation: why is it that in all the films featuring predators they have to strip naked for the final confrontation? In this one, stupid predator's in the midst of a full-on beat down with a bunch of aliens when he takes a step back, drops his guns, takes off his belt, disconnects his air-hose, and whips off his helmet. And the freakin' aliens stand there and watch him do it! Anyway, once he's down to his bra and panties he goes back to proper 'bring-it' mode again. Those two definitely love each other. Anyway, it's crazy, but as I said, entertaining enough as long as you disengage your brain.


One unexpected surprise Simon and I got while waiting for the film to start was that we got chatting to some guy sitting along from us. He basically heard me talking to Simon about the Mac workshop, and asked me an Apple-based question. Turns out he was a filthy student, and although I couldn't answer his question, he gave me a 2 for 1 voucher valid in March (turns out Odeon were giving away calendars with vouchers attached at his uni, so he grabbed a load); I'm usually quite wary of strangers talking to me, but this dude was OK. Although I kind of think that his girlfriend was a bit pissed at him for taking her to see Aliens Vs Predator. So while I'm thankful for the voucher, I would, however, maybe suggest that next time he takes her to the flicks he picks a rom-com rather than a full-on monster beat-down movie…

Thursday, January 17, 2008


It's funny how a little thing can spark off a bit in your brain that makes you want to do things. I met up with Grum, Yaz, and some hobo for a coffee last night. It was just a quick thing, but lovely nevertheless, although for me at least the evening was dominated by Grum shoving his doodle book into my face (not literally, that would've been rude). A few years back we were so determined to try to get something published in a graphic novel vein, and for some reason it's just petered out a bit over the last couple of years. I blame myself, because he can't draw something if I haven't written it, and I haven't written, well, much of anything in the last year or so.

So what happened to the mighty book I was writing? Well, I wrote loads of it in February, then gave myself a bit of time off, partly as a treat, partly to compose myself before launching back into it a month or so later. Tragically, I didn't launch myself anywhere; I think I've unwittingly allowed myself to stray into 'lost weekend' territory. Most people who do this usually go on massive drink 'n drug benders; how rock and roll is it that I just stopped writing a book? I say: 'very.'

Anyway, Grum's doodle book, while not literally shoved in my face nevertheless had the unexpected and not altogether undesirable effect of subliminally slapping me in said face. It was like a wake-up call. Because while he's been waiting for me to crack my knuckles and get back to writing, he's returned to my old horror story The Nightlies - y'know, the one that Skillz* kindly put online for me. This time around he's given it more of a stylised, less of a comic-book look - a bit like old etchings - and it looks fantastic. And these were only thumbnails - lord knows what the finished ones will look like.  I'd love to show them to you, but blogger won't let me link to a doodle pad. This, of course, made me feel a little bit guilty, because I've not written anything since October, which is lame, especially as I have two new ideas I'd like to work up and an awesome new computer to write them on. 

So, here's the plan: writing February is back for 2008 - bigger and more badass than ever. I'm going to finish the long awaited book (hell, I've even thought of a proper title for it now!), and then I'm going to crack on with the new ideas. 

I might even get a new writing pad to jot notes in!

*Where is Skillz? 

Sunday, January 13, 2008


For reasons I shan't go into here (mainly because, all being well, I'll go into them next weekend), I found myself footloose and fancy-free in Kingston yesterday afternoon. This was a good thing because I actually had some bits and pieces I needed to pick up (pick up as in buy, not shoplift), and, well, I like going to Kingston. Incidentally, did anyone see Primeval on ITV last night? That shopping centre they were chasing a velociraptor round was the Bentalls Centre in Kingston - it's famous, good times!

Anyway, one of the things I needed to buy was a new 12-month subscription to Xbox Live - mine runs out on Wednesday, y'see. Having to renew this in January is always a bit of a pain because Amazon is the cheapest place to get it (about a fiver off), but of course the post-Christmas shopper is wise to this, and Amazon sells out pretty rapidly after the festive period, leaving doofy here either having to wait for them to restock and going without online play for however long, or stumping up a bit of extra cash so he can continue to play Halo 3 with the little Mexican dude who babbles away in Spanish and calls him "amigo."

Armed with that little bit of extra cash, I thus began scouring the shops of Kingston for the best deal, soon coming to the conclusion that Argos was my best bet. Argos, for those that don't know, is Britland's finest catalogue store; they don't have the items they sell on show - you choose them from a catalogue (or the "laminated book of dreams" as Bill Bailey once called it), then pay for them, then they bring them out from a mysterious warehouse for you.

Years ago, when I was a kid, there used to be something rather special about buying stuff from Argos. I think it came down to the fact that you could ogle what you wanted to buy in the catalogue while you saved your pocket money, then when you actually went to buy it the moment where the cashier did the stock check was a period of giddy excitement that could either make or break a young boy's dreams of completing his set of The Real Ghostbusters action figures. And then, of course, you had that brief wait while they brought your item out from the stock room and plonked it on the shelf behind the counter. Oh, the anticipation!

Anyway, none of that matters anymore because I officially hate Argos now. According to my receipt, I paid for my Xbox Live 12-month pre-paid card at 15:33; I eventually received said item at 16:01, after numerous assurances from the stern east-european employee that "ve haf people loiking for your item."

Obviously not very hard.

In the best part of half an hour that I stood there, I saw a wide cross-section of people come and go, from little kids buying Nintendo games, to little old ladies buying wicker linen baskets, and chavs buying sovereign rings in the jewelry sale. Admittedly, when they did finally bring out my item I did get an apology, though it didn't stop me from saying "you just went and bought this from another shop, didn't you?" The lady laughed and said "no, but that's a good idea."

Another good idea is that I'll be buying my Xbox Live subscription from Amazon waaaaaaaaaay in advance of it expiring next time. And never going in Argos again.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Mummy's little trooper

So, after a crappy Tuesday, a crappier Wednesday, and a crappy Thursday, I finally felt well enough to go back to work today. And by 'well enough to go back to work' I actually mean 'well enough not to crash my car on the way to the office,' or 'well enough not to pebble-dash my colleagues with the acidic offerings of my under-nourished stomach.'

Now that I'm over the worst of the fever, aching body, sinus-induced headaches, free-flowing snot, and dry throat, I'd just like to thank gawd that I wasn't struck down by the other virus that's been sweeping the nation - the sinisterly-named norovirus. After waking ridiculously early on Wednesday and sitting through episodes of The Hoobs and Teletubbies because I was too cold to change the channel, I had the pleasure of catching This Morning with Phillip and Fern during which they interviewed Dr. Chris. Dr. Chris delightfully revealed that the key symptom of the norovirus is "projectile vomiting," and then gleefully added "extending to a distance of approximately three feet!" If he'd typed what he said, I'm pretty certain he would've added "LOL!" at the end, and possibly a smiley emoticon. 

That evening, while huddled up on the bathroom floor after actually feeling the first signs of nausea, I wondered if, were I to throw up, I could get it to land in the sink while sitting on the toilet. Fortunately (or sadly, depending on your vomiting point of view), I was not sick.

After hitting my lowest ebb on Wednesday, the remainder of which I spent watching Big Brother: Celebrity Hijack (an indication, if it were needed, that I was seriously off my face) and marveling at how many ads there are for fitness DVDs at this time of year, things picked up a bit on Thursday, helped considerably by two factors: a visit from Sparky Ma, and a day spent watching episodes of Family Guy. Sparky Ma had texted me the previous evening asking if I needed anything. I replied "a couple of cans of soup would be nice." Bless 'er, she arrived on Thursday morning bearing eight cans of soup, a pack of sugary yum-yums, two bottles of Lucozade, six pints of milk, and a copy of Autocar magazine. The woman's a saint ladened down with Tesco bags.

After she left (to look after Sparky Pa who is equally stricken), I settled down to watch various random episodes of Family Guy, including the one where Brian sells Rupert, and the one where Peter makes his own A-Team, which had me laughing/coughing my guts up thanks to the Bill Cosby aerobics routine (which admittedly would be funnier if youtube hadn't been told to remove all their Family Guy clips).

All-in-all, then, I think I'm clawing my way back to awesomeness. Which is good, because I was quite literally going insane zoning out on my bed all the time. Hurrah!


I don't usually touch on real-life news here, but a couple of stories over the last couple of days have piqued my interest. The first is the story of the separated-at-birth twins who were inexplicably drawn to one another and ended up getting - wait for it - married! That's gotta be deserving of an LOL! Anyway, once you get over the initial "EEEEUGH!" factor, there's some serious comedy gold to have here, like "what were you doing last night?" Answer: "my sister!" Hurrah! Seriously, though, what are the chances of meeting the twin you never knew you had and marrying them? Obviously not as astronomically insane as we thought they were. Still, it's definitely a fascinating story to tell the … um,  grand… children…?


Moving swiftly on… Now, you all know that I like cars, so it should come as no surprise that the other story I want to talk about is the introduction of the Tato Nano, the world's cheapest car! Hurrah! Now, a real car for about £1250 is an amazing achievement - hell, it's cheaper than my computer! That said, I'm pretty sure my computer looks better on my desk than the Tata Nano would. Still, a real car for a smidgeon over a grand?

Oh, wait… That's not it…

That's it. Right, so 1250 quid gets you one of these. I think you'll agree that's pretty amazing value for money. Unless it's powered by a donkey or a child slave, of course. I'm a little torn, though; part of me thinks it's a pretty neat little car that looks waaaaaay better than some motors that cost, well, more than five times it's value, while the other half thinks it's an egg-like abomination on four tiny, tiny wheels. And that's where the problem stems from, I think - just look at the size of those wheels! If they're of a decent size, that car stands about three stories tall. One gust of wind and it'll fall over. It could challenge the Smart ForTwo as the vehicle most suited to the modern-day equivalent of cow-tipping.


Right, those are 12 inch wheels propping it up, which officially makes the Tata Nano about nine feet tall. That definitely means you could drive it standing up. Good times.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


To steal a turn of phrase: I'b ill.

I woke up this morning at 6:30 to find that, as I feared, the tingle in the throat had developed significantly, and I'm now the poster boy for mucus-awareness week (it's pretty much between me and the Alien Queen as to who leaks more). That being the case, I rolled over and went back to sleep.

At about 10-ish I called into work to tell them that they wouldn't have the pleasure of seeing my pale, snot-covered face sitting in the office today. On the plus side, of all the times to be ill this is probably the best (if such a thing could be said) because I'm not horrendously busy and so can afford to take a day off. Still sucks massively though. I also have the worst bed-head hair ever, which quite frankly I couldn't be bothered to deal with; I have, however, spent the day in fear that someone would ring the doorbell and I'd have to answer it looking like *this*.

I think this is the first time I've taken a sick day since I moved into Sparky Towers, so altogether the experience has been a bit bizarre. In days gone by I had Sparky Ma to look after me, but now my wearied moaning falls on deaf ears, and I have to get my own drinks. The thing that's most weird, though, is the fact that I don't have the family sick blanket to rely on.

Rather like Linus with his security blanket in Peanuts, my family has a massive wooly blanket that only sees service when a member of the family is ill. Bearing in mind how much action that thing's seen over the years, it's probably rife with disease; I'm pretty sure if Sparky Ma was to give it a shake in the garden to freshen it up everyone in a half-mile radius would contract plague. But it was always reassuring to know that if you could survive a couple of days smothered under that thing, you were pretty much sitting pretty alongside cockroaches and potato waffles as the only things that would survive global thermonuclear war.

In the absence of Sparky Ma and the legendary yellow blanket, I've spent my day thus:

• Inhaling Vick's vapour rub.
• Watching South Park (there's bugger all on daytime TV).
• Asleep, until rudely awoken by someone ringing the doorbell at 17:00. I ignored it.

Riveting stuff I think you'll agree. A word of warning, though; don't get Vick's vapour rub smeared across your hands while trying to flick it into a bowl of steamy water. It gets everywhere and is a complete bugger to get off.

So there you have it; I am the living, breathing personification of at least three of the seven dwarves - Sleepy, Sneezy, and Snotty. Roll on Doc's arrival, I say.

Monday, January 07, 2008


Whuppah! Yes, it’s me - did you think I’d gone somewhere? Did anyone care? Whatever. So it’s been almost a week since I last blogged, which seems like a ridiculously long time and yes, I’ve been feeling a bit guilty about it; while I may very well be adhering to the Shatner command of being better, obviously that hasn’t extended to blogging. And now I’ve finally gotten round to writing something blogger appears to have gone a bit wonky and fallen over, so I’m having to tap this out in Pages on mah Mac, which is admittedly a lovely word processor, but a bit strange when you’re used to the usual blogger window.

Let’s press on regardless, though. What troopers we are.

Well, the days since my last post have been dominated by two extremes - crazily enthusiastic bouts of exercise and couch-potato-esque Xbox marathons. The latter have seen me complete the awesome space epic Mass Effect (though I’ve started it again because apparently although I completed it I did so without opening up over half the game), and being freaked out by the incredibly atmospheric Bioshock, which I refuse to play at night because it scares the tits off me. The exercise has been good because I seem to be imbued by some kind of mystical new year energy where I actually want to go out for a run rather than feel like I should. How long it’ll last is anyone’s guess.

One benefit of this hardcore exercise thing is that I’m feeling super confident in my running abilities right now, which is cool because I’m due to meet up with Sweatband for a run soon. Sweatband and I haven’t done a run in ages, y’see, and the last time we did I totally whupped her on the run up Richmond Hill; I think it kind of surprised her, and I’m hoping to repeat that because there’s nothing I like more than to boost my own ego by beating someone who ran the London Marathon last year. All being well, I might try pushing this a little further, not only by laughing and pointing at her as she staggers along behind me, but by employing certain underhanded tactics; I don’t think she’s done a run since before Christmas, so if I’m feeling particularly evil I could look at her and say something like “well *someone* had a good Christmas,” then puff my cheeks out and cross my eyes.

On the other hand…

I think I’m coming down with something. It’s been bang on a year since I was ill last with full-on man flu, and over Christmas damn-well everyone I know has come down with something. I was hoping to escape it, but I detected the first inkling of a tickle in the throat around midday today, and now my nose is leaking, which runs the risk of making me look particularly gross because I’m a bit beardy at the mo’ and a snot-infused ‘tache could be a disaster of epic proportions. I better be careful not to turn my head quickly, either; I wouldn’t want to unleash a huge snotty-strand in a Spider-Man web-slinging-stylee. We’ll see how this pans out, but I think I’ve got it covered either way; I took immediate action to try to head it off at the pass by downing an entire massive bottle of Lucozade in the office, which might help nip it in the bud, but if I’m really ill I’ll just take the day off work tomorrow and watch the entire South Park Season Five boxset I got for Christmas - it’s the one where Cartman accuses Kyle of having sand in his vagina - LOL!

Actually, I just want to touch on the whole Lucozade thing. It’s long been established in my family that if you’re feeling as rough as a badger’s arse you just drink Lucozade and orange juice (alternately, not at the same time, weirdo). The Lucozade has the twin effect of making you want to wee a lot, but also puts you on a massive sugar high, so you literally forget you’re ill. The whole weeing thing is a bit odd, though, because I noticed today while reading the ingredients that Lucozade is pumped full of what I can only assume is a naturally-occuring colouring given that it’s called ‘sunset orange.’ So I’ve ingested two litres of sunset orange and pure sugar, yet my pee is as clear as a mountain stream. How the hell did that happen? I bet it’s all backed up in my gut; my bladder’s probably glowing flourescent orange or something. I could probably hit a solid radioactive high if someone waved a geiger counter in front of my groin. Either way, the real test will be tomorrow morning when I wake up. I hope I feel awesome, although chances are I could still be on a sugar high.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Be better

Well, here we are in 2008 and it feels pretty much the same as the end of 2007, which is a tad disappointing. Seriously, every year I sit there on New Years Eve expecting there to be some sort of mighty flash, then suddenly 'the future' arrives and everything's like something out of a science-fiction movie. But no; instead I'm just left sitting there half-wrapped in bacofoil while everyone looks at me like I should be sectioned under the mental health act.


So today was the first day back at work after my incredibly long, incredibly relaxing Christmas holiday. I think everything went OK. I say 'think,' because I kind of just sat there with a blank expression on my face looking a bit dazed and confused (kind of like when I realise that no one else is wearing bacofoil). I smiled when people spoke to me, but in more of a special way than a 'look at me - I'm super-happy' way. Fortunately it's not been as traumatic as I feared it might be, so I think I'll probably go back tomorrow. Unless it snows; there are reports that it's going to snow tomorrow, and I really don't think I can be bothered dealing with snow-covered roads. I wonder if "I'm sorry but it's snowing" is a valid excuse for not going into work? Maybe I should get a doctor's note?

Anyway, what I really wanted to talk about was New Years Resolutions. I think I come up with one every year, but they're usually reasonably lame, like "I'm going to run more," which is stupid because I've been pretty good at keeping up with my running, aside from the beginning of last year when I had full-on man-flu, a bit in the middle when one of my knees went a bit wonky, and the rest of the year after my birthday when I just couldn't be bothered that much. That being the case, I genuinely am going to run more this year. I'm actually going to go out tonight, pending-snow be damned, although I might see if I've got some gloves to wear because I don't want my fingers to turn blue and fall off. 

I digress.

Right, my real New Years Resolution is, I think, a rather good one. Unfortunately, I can't claim it as a resolution of my own creation, because I was inspired, as I often am, by the mighty mighty William Shatner. He did a little seasonal video clip, which I strongly urge you to watch HERE, where he was superimposed against a shockingly bad living room interior. That's nothing to do with the resolution, I jut wanted to point it out. I don't know why they superimposed him into the living room and didn't just put him in a real living room, but I'm sure they had their reasons. They did a really poor job, though; the matte-lines are shocking. Anyway, Shatner's resolution, the one I loved so much I stole it, is this: 

Be better.

That's it. Pure and simple: Be better. 

I love it. I think it's a really honest, good guideline for how to live your life. I'm going to endeavour to be better at everything I do this year. It might be a bit of a tall order, but when Shatner demands it of you, you simply have to rise to the challenge.