Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I hate you so much right now

I haven't written a particularly ranty post in a while, and I know we all like a good moan, so in an attempt to let off some steam please allow me to share with you the stories of four people that have massively pissed me off within the space of 24 hours recently.

Number 1: The Scrabble wench
As you might know, I do love a good game of Scrabble on Facebook. Well, I say 'good,' but my winning percentage of just 25% suggests I'm not particularly good per se. Moving swiftly on… So anyway, as a few of my regular players (I am resisting saying "word up, playa" in a high-pitched voice here) were taking their sweet time taking their turns, I thought I'd throw it down and take my chances with a random. I started a game, and was soon joined by a lady called … let's call her Clare. Because her name was Clare. So there we are, playing away quite merrily and, I'm pleased to report, I was beating her quite comfortably. All was well.

Until she, evidently being something of a bad loser and with nothing better to do than sit poised at her computer for 10 hours waiting for the clock to tick down, FORCE FORFEITED ME.

Don't believe me? Here's the game board.

All together now: WENCH.

Infuriated, I started another game with her just so I could leave an irate message berating her and her pitiful Scrabble skills. Needless to say, she did not rise to the challenge.

Number 2: Car bitch
Despite there being a tube strike in London yesterday, I breezed into work miraculously easily. Until I got to a roundabout a few minutes away from the office, where a woman in a silver VW Golf - with THREE CHILDREN in the car - zoomed straight out in front of me when it was my right of way, forcing me to slam my brakes on. I, of course, applied my hand to the centre of the steering wheel for a prolonged bit of horn action, but sadly, and somewhat annoyingly, I got no reaction whatsoever. Nothing. Nadda. Nischman.

Still, As I shifted into first gear and resumed my journey, I couldn't help but think that the bitch looked just like a live-action version of Fenella the Kettle Witch from Chorlton and the Wheelies.

Imagine this, slightly less green and sans fez, behind the wheel of a silver VW Golf and you get the general idea.

Number 3: Cock in an Audi
Just a few minutes after my encounter with a speeding Fenella I had another, potentially more life-threatening altercation with another motorist. I was driving down the road on which my office is located when, what should come shooting out of a side-road with scant disregard for the give-way line, and with the driver TOTALLY LOOKING THE OTHER WAY? An Audi A8.

Quick, all drivers with no understanding of the rules of the road - to the cock-mobile!

And as if an Audi driver wasn't enough of a cock to begin with, this one had decided to give his car a matte finish, which took him right up to a whole new level of cock-ish behaviour. I got to see this crappy matte finish quite close up as he eventually stopped about a foot away from my driver's door. At which point I opened my mouth and divulged a choice few colourful metaphors at a somewhat increased volume.

His reaction to this? An apology, you think? Of course not - this is an Audi driver we're talking about here. He extended his hand and gave me the 'V' sign, as if him nearly driving into my car was my fault, obviously.

Cock-o-meter readings are pretty much off the scale, captain.

On the plus side, I know where the guy lives, and if this cold snap we're having at the moment actually does follow through and dump a load of snow on London, I'm going to write 'COCK' on his windscreen in lovely big letters.

Number 4: Shabby cabby
First off, I apologise for that heading. It makes NO SENSE whatsoever, but I do like the fact that it rhymes *claps like a speshul*. Anyway, so shortly after leaving work yesterday evening I'm driving through Chiswick when I get caught at a particularly busy pedestrian crossing. I think I let about eight people across in total - and they weren't all in one group or holding hands like school children, so I actually ended up sitting there for the best part of a minute. Just as the last person is halfway across, though, the cab driver who had, moments earlier, been driving a bit close behind me, bips me. Yes, you read that right - he BIPS ME to encourage me to drive on!

Can you imagine that in court?

"So, just what motivated you to mow down the plaintiff on the evening in question?"

"Well the cabby behind me bipped so I thought it would be alright."

There wasn't really much I could do in retaliation, though, because it was dark so he wouldn't have been able to make out any irate gesticulations on my part, so I ended up just waiting for the lady to finish crossing and drove off.

So there are my tales of woe. I feel a bit better for getting all that off my chest; it was quite therapeutic. Feel free to sound off in the comments if you've also wanted to thump someone recently.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


While enjoying my first cuppa of the day and surfing the interwebs before heading off to work this morning I came across a story on the BBC website that turned my mood from surprisingly chipper for a chilly Wednesday to deeply saddened - because I discovered that Ingrid Pitt, star of many classic Hammer Horror films, had died.

And the reason it saddened me? Because I have an Ingrid Pitt story that is one of my fondest memories.

My first job out of school was as a - as we liked to call ourselves - graphics monkey at Visual Imagination, the late lamented publisher of such science-fiction magazines as Starburst and TV Zone. I'd been working there just short of a year when, in November 1997, the news spread around the office that someone famous was going to be stopping by. That celebrity was Ingrid Pitt, and I can state the exact date with certainty because it was my birthday.

To be honest, I wasn't actually terribly familiar with Ingrid's work, having only seen a few Hammer Horror films in my time, and although I knew her name chances are she could've walked past me in the street and I wouldn't have recognised her. Still, a FAMOUS PERSON was coming to the office.

Ingrid was stopping by to meet with David, the editor of Shivers, another of VI's magazines and one that was devoted, as you might guess by the title, exclusively to horror. And because the graphics department was hidden away on the ground floor and all the editorial staff were upstairs, we would be the last to meet her. I remember distinctly getting a phone call from one of the other members of staff soon after she arrived saying something like "she's here!" so obviously I wasn't the only one who was a bit excited at the prospect.

So anyway, eventually we hear footsteps coming down the stairs, the door opens, and David ushers in this lovely, dare I say buxom lady with a warm smile on her face. Despite being somewhere around the age of 60 at the time she was still beautiful, and incredibly unassuming. I was immediately won over.

David introduced her to all of us in turn, with me being the third person to meet her. I watched out of the corner of my eyes with anticipation and mounting nerves as she said hello to my two colleagues closest to the door, and then before I knew it she was standing by my desk.

"This is Tim," said David. "It's his birthday today."

I mumbled "hello."

Ingrid looked at me and her already wonderful smile exploded. She held both hands out towards me and said in her softly accented voice "Oh, darling! You are so young - come to me!"

And like countless victims of her seductive vampiric Hammer Horror characters, I rose from my chair and stepped closer. From the way she held her hands out I expected something like the sort of birthday greeting you'd get from an aunt - y'know, a quick kiss on the cheek and a bit of a hug.

What I did not expect was for her to place one hand on either side of my head and quickly pull me down face-first into her delightfully ample bosom.

And then proceed to hold me there for the best part of a minute.

At one point I actually thought I might suffocate while wedged between the lovely boobs of this wonderful actress, but then I realised if I was going to go that would probably be the most magnificent end to my then 20 years on the planet, so I decided not to struggle and just give in to my fate.

Eventually, however, Ingrid released me, and I emerged smiling, red-faced, and a smidgeon embarrassed while all my colleagues - and Ingrid herself - erupted in laughter.

Ingrid had come to the office that day to discuss writing a monthly column for Shivers, which eventually resulted in the brilliantly entitled The Pitt of Horror, and while I never had the privilege of meeting her again after that day I often asked David how she was, to which he would often reply "oh, typical Ingrid!" before relating some witty story about her. And somehow, rather fortuitously for me, I always ended up working on the pictures for The Pitt of Horror which meant that I got to read - and always thoroughly enjoy - her column before everyone else.

So here's to Ingrid Pitt - a wonderful, larger than life lady who entertained millions of horror fans around the world, and gave a 20 year-old chap one of his most treasured and amusing memories.

*doffs cap*

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The bitch and the bell

I popped to Westfield last night for a spot of post-work shopping, ostensibly of the Christmas variety, but we all know I always have a hidden agenda geared towards treating myself to anything that takes my fancy so expectations for finding any presents for anyone but me were running spectacularly low. Surprisingly, however, I did actually find a something in one particular shop that I thought a certain person would like, so I decided to buy it. And this, in turn, led to a bit of an awkward situation.

Now, you know I have no qualms about naming and shaming any shops that I think disrec' me, but in this instance I'm going to have to keep schtum, if only because the certain person in question does have a habit of coming here as a result of Googling his beloved offspring - which quite frankly sounds like the sort of alarming statement that would usually have the authorities leaping into action.

So anyway, with item in hand I walked up to the counter, where there are a number of tills arranged side by side, each of which had a shiny bell in front of it that you could tap to call for service if all the staff were outside having a cheeky fag or boffing in the stockroom. In this instance, though, there was a member of staff at the till.

"Ooo, shiny bell!" I said (no, really, I actually did) as I walked towards her. "Can I ring it?"

She gave me a look of absolute disdain.

"No you cannot," she replied.

I chuckled, assuming she was being faux serious, and raised my hand to give it a jaunty tap. The assistant looked at me again, reached forward, and pulled the bell away.

"I said no."

I totally did the sad face bottom lip quiver to no avail, and completed my transaction without contributing any of my traditional flirtatious banter (her loss). Never one to give up without a fight, though, as she handed me my bag, I reached out once again to tap the bell.

"NO!" she said, yanking the shiny thing away from me. I glared at her, and walked out.

But mark my words: at some point I'll be back, and using all my ninja training I'll get to that counter and ring that bloody bell if it goddamn kills me (or security cart me out like a common criminal in a painful armlock).

I like a challenge.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

One reason why I would make a rubbish 19th century housemaid

There was a point this afternoon, a half hour period - somewhere between 14:15 and 14:45-ish, I'd guess - where everything went to hell in a handbag at Sparky Towers. Ironically immediately after a phone conversation with Sparky Ma where she told me she was having a terrible day and I replied by saying mine was going brilliantly. That'll be karma then.

You see, I own two pairs of jeans that came with instructions not to wash them for the first six months, and instead to bung them in the freezer for a couple of days. I was slightly dubious of this at first, but amazingly they come out smelling fresh and looking brand new. And as something of a bonus, I soon discovered that during the summer months there was nothing more pleasant than covering one's gentlemanly assets with trousers fresh from the arctic wastes of the poultry drawer.

Anyway, the freezer thing worked so well that I decided to keep doing it after the six month period was up - with one caveat: they would be washed if I dropped something on them. Lo and behold, while giddy on gingerbread latte last week I managed to drop milk froth on my leg. I can't remember why I decided the other pair needed a wash as well, but I guess I just decided to go all in.

Let me segue off on a tangent for a second here. A few months back I bought a top that came with the washing instructions 'handwash only.' In hindsight, you'd think I'd just bung it in the freezer, but no, I did as I was told and handwashed it in cold water before hanging it on the shower curtain rail to dry. It went marvellously.

Emboldened by my newfound washer-woman skills, for some reason today I decided I would handwash these two pairs of jeans, despite the fact I was putting the washing machine on anyway. This actually went quite well - until I made my fatal mistake. I decided to hang two sodden pairs of jeans on the shower curtain rail, just as I'd done with that top a few months ago.

And as Yazzle Dazzle later pointed out to me via a sarcasm-laced email:

top: light. Jeans: not. Nuff said!

I might've called her a bitch in my reply.

Another tangent: when I decorated my bathroom a few years ago I couldn't for the life of me get the shower curtain rail down, so I had to paint around where it connected to the wall. Experience now tells me that I should've weighted it down with two wet pairs of jeans, because let me tell you, that thing was ripped CLEAN OFF.

So there I am, moments after the curtain rail has bounced impressively off my head (lucky there's nothing to damage in there), leaving the curtain itself draped over me like the brightly-coloured cape of an inept superhero, with two pairs of jeans and a broken hanger in the bath, swearing like ranty old Mel Gibson despite the fact that no one is around to hear my admittedly creative and excessively colourful metaphors.

It took me about 15 minutes to work out how to hang the shower curtain rail back up again (yes, I'm simple, move on), at which point I thought "I wonder if it would stay up if I hung one pair of jeans at each end…?

The answer, dear reader, is an emphatic NO.

After hanging the shower curtain rail up for a second time, I decided to hang the jeans on either side of the bathroom door. This worked. Unfortunately, they were dripping quite a lot of slightly dye-y water. I'll put some newspaper underneath, I thought! But wait - I don't buy newspapers. I read that sort of tosh on my iPad, and I certainly wasn't going to pop that under them.

And so, of course, I unfurled a leftover roll of birthday wrapping paper and popped that beneath them. That works, I reassured myself, and would also be a super nice surprise in the morning when it actually is my birthday. It'd be like the floor was wishing me a happy birthday.

Then I jumped on a train and headed up down for a bite to eat with Lee who, after I'd related this tale of woe to him, looked at me like I was an utter special. Thus, to cut a long story slightly shorter, as soon as I got home I tutted, rolled my eyes, and bunged both pairs in the washing machine, which quite frankly is exactly what anyone with the merest sliver of sense would've done in the first place.

Let's chalk it up to my imminently advancing years and never speak of it again, yes?

Thursday, November 04, 2010

'Tis the season

Now, I *hate* the early arrival of Christmas. The sight of a Christmas tree in a shop in October or November makes my blood boil. You don't know how often I've had to suppress the urge to pick it up and beat it against something like Basil Fawlty. The one aspect of early Christmas that I do enjoy, though, is the arrival of Starbucks' festive beverages - specifically gingerbread lattes.

During one of my daily visits to Secret Starbucks last week I was given a sneak preview of this year's red cup (nice) and promised that I could have a gingerbread latte one day ahead of all the regular civilians that frequent the store. This gave me a happy, which I openly displayed with some special clapping and excited jumping. Sadly, however, upon swinging by on the day of promised advance gingerbread latte, the member of staff who'd made the offer was nowhere to be seen and no one else would honour her promise, so I had to make do with a misto and a massive sulk.

But then, yesterday: UNMITIGATED JOY.

Basically I got into work ridiculously early in a surprisingly successful attempt to miss the maddening traffic that would undoubtedly ensue as a result of a tube strike, so I was in Hammersmith just before eight. The thought of actually starting work that early was utterly terrifying, so instead of going to the office I carried straight on down to Hammersmith high street and into a Starbucks.

"Can I have a gingerbread latte," I asked the lovely barista.

"No," she said, before smiling and saying "ha ha, of course you can."

I was *this* close to saying something along the lines of "bitch, please; you do not joke about that sort of thing," but I behaved myself and just chuckled along with her.

Anyway, because it was the first day of festive beverages, I decided to treat myself and go venti, and so, two minutes later I'm confronted with a towering vat of fresh coffee, sickeningly overpowering gingerbread syrup, and whipped cream. I almost needed to sit down to let my visible arousal subside gather myself, but instead, and much to the horror of the other customers, I jauntily wished the barista a Merry Christmas and skipped out the door.

Cutting to the chase, it was awesomely amazing. And I love this year's cup design (although maybe not so much when Yazzle Dazzle reads the words on it out to me in a patronising fashion that makes me look like a complete and utter speshul).

I am slightly curious as to why Starbucks chose to put Joey's massive porcelain dog from Friends on the new red cup, though.

Any-hoo, so one thing I'd not banked on was the slightly odd effect my first syrup-fuelled latte in 12 months would have on me. Basically I had a bit of a funny turn, put the cardboard sleeve that goes around the cup on my wrist…

…and started strutting around the office, crossing my arms and shouting "WONDER WOMAAAAAAAN!" a bit like Darth Vader Stewie in Something, Something, Something, Dark Side.

You'd think I would've learnt my lesson after that, dear friends, but alas no; I had another gingerbread latte at lunchtime, and another one at around nine o'clock in the evening. I was turfed out of Starbucks in Westfield when they closed, at which point I staggered about like a drunk demanding to be let back into a pub. Oh, the shame.