Thursday, January 20, 2011

Syringy lady

I can't make up my mind if syringey should be spelt 'syringey' or 'syringy.' Anyone got a clue? Ah, bugger it; I'm going to drop the 'e,' if only because it makes it easier to type.

Yeah, I'm *that* lazy. Whatevs.

SO! Longtime readers might remember about four and a bit years ago when I succumbed to waxy ear syndrome and had to go get them syringed. It was all good fun, and I found the whole experience of being syringed remarkably, some might say perversely, enjoyable. Back to the here and now, just before Christmas I noticed that my ears were a bit bunged up again, so I bought some Otex (almost bought Optrex, which would've been a CATASTROPHIC DISASTER; why aren't these things given more easily differentiated names? Like EYEtex and EARtex? And what the hell is 'tex'?!) and started popping drops in every day.

Now, I thought everything was going swimmingly with the drops; some weird shit kept coming out of my ears, which I believed to be a very encouraging sign. Last Tuesday, however, I woke up and was completely deaf in my left ear. And to make matters worse I had a pounding in my head that felt like a midget was trying to punch its way out. On the plus side, it did give me an excuse to selectively ignore various colleagues throughout the day, an excuse I am continuing to use even though normal service has been resumed (we'll get to that shortly). On the downside, however, I was meeting marvellous Lee for a quick post-work dinner that evening and I spent the entire time tugging down on my lobe, which temporarily restored some hearing ability but left me looking a bit like a slightly perplexed special ops person trying to receive orders through a faulty in-the-ear headset.

Post-dinner I raced home, hurled myself into a horizontal position, and pumped so much Otex into my head that I'm surprised it didn't start leaking out of my eyes and nose. Instead it fizzed away for about five minutes before an almighty POP restored my hearing, and I let out an orgasmic-sounding shriek that echoed around the leafy suburbs of West London for a good few minutes.

Sorry if that disturbed your tea.

But then on Sunday evening I developed a MASSIVE earache just as I was about to go to bed, which resulted in an utter failure to sleep. I survived most of Monday on coffee so strong you could stand the spoon upright in it, then foolishly went to yoga in the evening. Note to self: don't do a Bikram Yoga class when you've been awake for 33 hours straight.

Anyway, with a little bit of 'selective truth-telling' I managed to wangle myself an appointment for a good old syringing yesterday. I was very excited at the prospect, and subsequently divided the early part of the morning between editing an interview and spinning around in my office chair clapping like a speshul.

I arrived for my appointment almost bang on time, filled in a form, and then proceeded to sit in a waiting room with a crying child and some crusty old people. Reasonably quickly my name was called and I was taken to a small room by a jovial nurse. And by jovial I mean brilliant. From the word go we were firing witty banter back and forth at each other, and I liked her so much that I let it slide when she joked about shining her little medical torch in one ear and the light coming out the other; basically because it's pretty much true.

Bless her, she didn't even look perturbed when I stripped. Apparently you don't need to do that for a syringing.

Dressed once more, she fired up the little syringe machine, and by god I really need to get myself one of these things. I'm pretty sure it would be AWESOME for cleaning out my belly button (the one downside of having an 'inny'). Disappointingly, though, it turns out that the odious Otex had done a reasonably good job; my left ear was clear, with only a bit of wax wedged in the right. This leads me to suspect that I'll have a nasty brown surprise if I inspect my pillow a little too closely.

She fired it up anyway, quite possibly because I think she gets as much of a thrill out of using the syringe device as I did when she stuck it in my ear. She did it with cold water at first, which was a bit like someone shoving ice cubes down your pants and then giving everything a bit of a jiggle, but as soon as the warm water came through everything was good. I recommend it if you've never had it done, just for shits and giggles.

End of story, then? Loved nurse lady, hearing is restored, and I'm going to keep the little one-eared Space Hopper thingy that came with the Otex and use it to water my cacti (doing it with a watering can is a total bitch). All in all, everyone's a winner.


Friday, January 14, 2011

The mad hallucinatory lady story

So I found myself in Islington this evening; to be specific, at a party held by the lovely Marsha who is bidding farewell to London and is off to new and exciting things in Toronto (yes, that's CANADIALAND). It was a cracking bash, although events took a bit of a weird turn at one point.

About half an hour or so after arriving, y'see, Yazzle Dazzle decided she wanted to pop outside for a statutory ciggie break. On the way we picked up a couple of drinks, and then we head outside. The pub where Marsha was having her party has some of those lovely big picnic tables outside (my inner Yogi wants me to say pic-a-nic basket, but I shall resist), so I perched myself on one of them while my partner in crime headed off to the loo.

So there I am, minding my own business, when this reasonably well-dressed middle-aged lady with a Pomeranian on a lead in one hand and a glass of wine in the other comes walking up.

"Do you mind if I sit here?" she asks.

"By all means," I reply.

And so, despite the fact that the entire other side of the table is free, she proceeds to plonk herself down RIGHT NEXT TO ME. I have to shuffle up a bit because otherwise she's sitting right in my bubble, and uncomfortably close to my penis (I was sitting sideways on the bench). Unfortunately, after today's heavy downpour, shuffling up leaves me sitting in a damp patch (make your own jokes please). We sit there for a couple of seconds, and then she says:

"I should probably stop after this glass."

Now, I'm actually kind of OK talking to randoms on the street - I'd say a stranger is just a friend you've never met before, but that sounds well wanky - so I reply:

"Ah, it's Friday, enjoy yourself."

And then she says: "I can see my friends."

And I reply: "Is that them over there?" and point to a group of people on the corner.

"No," she says. "They're not really there. They're hallucinations. I'm totally hallucinating. They're so vivid and strong. I can see friends I knew in the Caribbean years ago. And my husband." She turns to look me straight in the eye. "He died 10 years ago, you know."

Funnily enough, I didn't.

I look down at her tiny fluffy dog. His name is Ollie, and he has the same wide-eyed look of terror on his little furry face that I now have descending upon my little beardy face, although unlike Ollie I'm not distracted from my terror and sent into a flurry of little angry barks every time a moped goes past. Which is often, as the pub is opposite a pizza delivery place.

At this point we are joined by the returning Yazzle Dazzle, who gives me the 'oh, yeah - you've pulled' look.

"Yeah, I can see my husband. And my daughter," she continues. "I'm having such strong hallucinations. I've been told I'm psychic. I think someone's slipped something in my drink. You look like David Beckham. Doesn't he look like David Beckham?" She looks me in the eye again. "You can shut up."

I swear: I said NOTHING.

Me and Dave. Apparently I look like him. I don't quite see it myself, but hey, if this publishing lark ever falls through it's good to know I can whore myself out as a David Beckham impersonator, right?

Now fearing every so slightly for my safety, I give Yazzle Dazzle THE EYEBROW thing that says 'we should go inside NOW,' before retreating subconsciously to my happy place. Lady's attention now transfers to Yazzle Dazzle.

"Don't think I'm weird, but I'm proper hallucinating. Do you think I'm weird?"

"I dunno what you're like normally," says Yazzle.

"This is my last drink," says lady, knocking back half a glass of wine in one mouthful. "Can I borrow a lighter?"

I give Yazzle the look that says 'don't give her the lighter, she will try to set fire to me,' but she hands it over anyway. Lady sparks up a ciggie, and for an instant I think she's going to immediately try to stub it out on my face, possibly as some sort of bizarre statement against masculine yet beautiful young chaps like me and Dave, but mostly because she's a complete mentalist.

Eventually we get up to go back inside. I'm confused and my arse is damp, but I'm otherwise remarkably unmolested and glad to be shot of lady.

"This is my last one!" she says as we head back in.

An hour and a half later as we decide it's time to make a move, we find lady still outside, another empty glass in her hand.

"Just one more!" she says to some random group of people as she reaches for the door, poor little Ollie straining against his lead in a futile attempt to drag her away from the pub - that is until he's distracted by another moped, and all we can hear as we wander off to the tube station is a series of angry little barks.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Insert TECH

There's one thing, one silly little inconsequential fact that I've always loved about Star Trek scripts – and I literally mean the scripts, not the episodes. When the writers wanted to put in some bizarre technology or spatial anomaly, and before they'd had a chance to check in with the show's science consultants, they would literally write TECH in the script. Later on, of course, the word TECH would be replaced by something fancy like 'tetryon flux,' but I still chuckle when I'm fact-checking at work and I find something like:

"Captain, there's a TECH approaching fast off the starboard bow!"

Any-hoo, there is a purpose to me telling you that fact (which is incredibly dull now I read it back to myself, but bear with me) to cut a long story ever so slightly shorter, back around early December-ish when we had the first blast of apocalyptic snow, I decided to work from home, basically because I couldn't be arsed to drive to work. The next day was pretty much OK, though, so I decided to show my pretty face in the office. About 30 seconds into my drive a warning light flashed up on my dashboard. This alarming occurrence was almost enough to send me swerving off to the side of the road, screaming like a banshee, but as I was only doing about 12 miles per hour I thought that was a bit of overkill so just carried on driving. I did, however, call my dealer (handsfree, of course: DRIVE SAFE, KIDS!) to see if they could fit me in (*snigger*) if I drove over there immediately. They couldn't, but I had a lovely chat with the receptionist who agreed with my theory that it could just be the cold playing havoc with Clubbie's sensors.

I nevertheless booked it in for the following Friday.

The following Friday, after finding out that Clubbie also needed new brakes and my debit card subsequently needed a lie down in a darkened room, the service guy informed me that, basically, the warning light had come on as a result of an exhaust … valve … sole… solen- … a TECH error. Apparently it's not very common for a TECH to fail, so they had to order a new TECH in especially for me.

I think it might've been something to do with the … deuterium regulators…? Whatever it was, they promised me that Clubbie wouldn't explode in a cataclysmic fireball while I was merrily pootling around town, which is always nice to know.

I booked Clubbie in again for the following Monday.

Unfortunately, over the following weekend another heinous weather front dumped its load over London, and, having actually had to spend 20 minutes PUSHING Clubbie into my parking space on the Saturday, I was understandably loath to move it out again while I was still balls deep in the white stuff. I cancelled the appointment and made another one for the week after Christmas.

Good news: I actually made the next appointment and had the new TECH fitted. Bad news: on that first Friday I'd taken Clubbie in I noticed when I got it back that one of the rear doors was sticking when I opened it. It hadn't been like that when I'd dropped it off, so I asked them to take a look. Turns out someone broke something and didn't own up to it. Quite frankly I would've held the whole class back until someone took responsibility, but apparently that's not the done thing in swanky car service departments. Even more frustrating, they didn't have the TECH in stock to replace it, so I had to book another appointment.

So, today, I arranged to work from home and some jobsworth would come and pick my car up and take it to the dealership for round … three? Four…? Lord knows; I've literally lost count. Anyway, I'm up at the crack of dawn, but blokey doesn't turn up until gone 10, so already I'm moaning about the fact that I could've had a lie-in and after three cups of tea I was busting for a wee but didn't want to go in case he turned up while I was mid-stream. To make matters worse, when he asks if he can leave his car in my parking space, I then say the most innuendo-laden line I've ever spoken to a middle-aged man:

"Yeah, sure; if you just let me get mine out you can put yours in."

Inside, part of me dies, so I just quickly move my car, sign some random form he shoves at me (which probably gave him permission to do extravagant wheelies or leap through rings of fire), then watch him drive off in my pride and joy.

At around four o'clock the service guy phones up and starts asking if I need my car back today, and I'm all, like, well yes, yes I do. He sort of says "oh," then proceeds to tell me about the TECH and the TECH and how it might be the TECH but they don't have TECH in stock and TECH TECH TECH TECH ARRRRRRRRGHHHH!!! And I'm seriously all kinds of WTF?!

So in conclusion, rather like Humpty Dumpty they put Clubbie back together again and returned it to me, but I am going to have to book it in AGAIN. For two days *emo sigh and eye roll*. That being the case, I've asked for a loan car. And like Mr. Sulu, I'm counting on Excelsior. I mean, I hope I get a Countryman - now that would guarantee me clapping like a speshul.

(Incidentally, the Countryman demo car I drove back on the launch day is now for sale. Who's got a spare 30k and is happy to buy it for me. Don't be shy now)

Friday, January 07, 2011

Smart arse

As happens every now and then, I woke up this morning and thought 'do you known what? Let's make an effort today.' And by that I mean I actually dressed nice. How nice? I put on a freakin' tie, people.

All of which means I braced myself for the inevitable sarcastic comments from my work colleagues. Hell, let's call them my scruffy work colleagues because quite frankly I was a vision of jaunty awesomeness in comparison. An hour into the day - I know, I was surprised I had to wait so long - and the first comment came.

"You look … smart today."

I almost did a comedy double take. A compliment?! Mmmm, what you say?

"You look like…" - Here we go, I thought - "Brandon Flowers from The Killers."

Oh, hang on, that actually was a compliment. Shame, really, because I had some decent witty retorts prepped and ready to go. Shit. For once lost for words, I just sheepishly adjusted the knot of my tie; if I'd been wearing a cap I would've doffed it.

But then, of course, my boss turned up.

"Oh, Tim, you do look smart today, with the… [mimes tie adjustment]. What's the special occasion?"

"No special occasion," I reply. "I just felt like it."

But because he's that sort of person, bless him, he couldn't just stop there.

"You look like…" At which point I think 'oh, here we go,' and boss lady upstairs shouts down "just stop there!" Boss man ignores her and carries on regardless because, well, he's the boss and he can do whatever he likes.

"You look like you're in a boy band."

"Oh, um, thanks," I say, rolling my eyes.

"No, sorry, I didn't mean it like that - you look like you're a member of a reformed boy band."

Boss lady comes scurrying downstairs and shouts "WHEN YOU'RE IN A HOLE - STOP DIGGING!" Boss then wanders off, leaving me standing there thinking 'I'm not even A-grade boy band material, I'm desperate reforming-for-the-money-grade boy band.' Oh the shame.

On the plus side, at least no one snapped their fingers and yelled "GARCON!" at me.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

A sight for sore thighs

For someone who professes that one of the key elements of their fitness regime is running, I've been nothing less than a spectacular failure recently. And by 'recently' I actually mean 'the last three-and-a-bit-months' because the last time I did a run was the tail end of September, apparently. I don't know why I wrote 'apparently,' because I got the information off my Nike+ page and that wouldn't lie to me.

Would it?

Anyway, on just the second day of this glorious New Year I got the urge to go for a run, so instead of sitting on the sofa hurling champagne truffles down my throat (they made me dizzy - good times) while watching a bad movie, I decided to dig out my trainers and go pound the streets.

Amazingly, it was awesome. I mean, at the point I used to slow down, wheeze a bit, and decide to walk for a few minutes I just kept going. In fact, at the point where I did feel like I could do with a bit of a rest I was virtually home - so I kept going. I was on fire (not literally; I'm pretty sure there would've been something in the local paper if I was, and perhaps a trip to burns unit for me as well). What this all added up to then, was a 6.4km run in a pretty reasonable time. Of course, when I got home and contemplated the whole thing the slight cough I'd developed over Christmas decided to join the party and I felt like I was on the cusp of either being sick or regurgitating my stomach. But I managed to keep it all together, and hey, victory sick is nothing to be ashamed of.

The one thing I used to love about running was the achy thigh muscles I'd get the day after a good one. Not because I've got latent masochistic tendencies, mind, but rather because they served to remind me of how much of an awesome run I'd had. The feeling never used to last that long anyway.

The following day, then, when I spent most of the time crying brooding about the fact I had to go back to work the following day, I was cheered by the fact my legs felt like fatigued tree trunks. Awesomely fatigued manly tree trunks. And encouraged by my considerable physical prowess, I decided to go to yoga in the evening. At the very least it might stretch out some of the aches.

This is the point where Mr. T should pop up and and say something like "I pity the foo'!"


Thanks Mr. T. Evidently the 'T' stands for 'timely.'

Anyway, everything went fine at first, no doubt because the first two postures just require you to stand there, which is pretty easy when that's all your legs want to do. But then we got to Awkward pose - specifically the third part - at which point I thought my thighs were going to explode and I'd have to apologise profusely while wiping bloody thigh meat off the mirror at the front of the studio, and possibly the lovely people to either side of me, with my slightly sweaty Batman towel. It took every fibre of my being to stop me from screaming in agony. And when the teacher said "time for second set!" I almost burst into tears. I would've done anything to have a note from my mum excusing me.

So here we are, several days later: I can still feel the burn in my thighs, and every time I stand in front of a mirror in my pants (something that doesn't actually happen as much as you might think it would) I can't help but feel like I'm in the process of turning into the cyclist from Belleville Rendezvous, albeit, thankfully, without the honking great hooter.

That said, I will be giving this running lark another bash soon.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Shoe woes

I was a bit miffed to discover last week that some stitching had come undone on my favourite pair of shoes. It was nothing major - in fact it's purely decorative stitching - but still, you don't particularly want loose stitching to be on show if you find your self attending a social function (not that I am, but I do like to be prepared).

So, on this, the odious first day back at work after my extended Christmas break, I dropped my beloved shoe into a plastic bag and resolved to pop into a reasonably well know chain of high street shops who do shoe repairs. I shan't name them (*cough, cough: AHEM*) but I'm sure you know who I mean.

I've actually only had one experience dealing with this shop before, and it wasn't exactly an encouraging one; a couple of months back the sole of one of my awesome boots began to come away (evidently it was made in a sweatshop where the pre-teen workforce was equipped only with a spent pritt-stick and a complete disregard for the task at hand), so I scurried along thinking I could get it resoled, or simply repaired. Handing my boot to the chap behind the counter I was dismayed to see him pull the sole further away from the leather, before handing it back to me and saying "ah, you just want to dab a bit of super glue in there - that'll do the trick."

I couldn't help but feel like it was the equivalent of me taking a pair of smart trousers to a tailer and being told to hem the legs with a stapler.

Still, with the stitching coming undone on my shoe, I could see no other option but to return to this particular shop, where I was sure they'd say something along the lines of "yeah, we can sort that for you." Upon arrival, I once again handed one of my favourite items of footwear to the grubby assistant. He looked at it a bit like an orangutan looks at a banana he's chewed and then regurgitated into his hand.

"Yeah, see, it's not actually coming apart - it's just fancy stitching, like."

"OK," I said. "But you can repair it, yes?"

He handed the shoe back to me. "Nah, what you wanna do is just run a lighter along it mate - that'll sort it out."

Yes, he advised me to TORCH MY SHOE with a disposable lighter like it was a crack pipe.

I subsequently dropped my shoe back in the bag and stormed off. Then, purely by coincidence, on the walk back to the office I discovered that a local independent dry cleaners does shoe repairs. I explained the problem to the lady and she said "yeah, we can do that. How does seven pounds sound?"

I pick it up Thursday.


Several hours later I undertook a particularly fruitless expedition to Westfield in an attempt to buy a) a new wallet as mine's falling apart, b) a t-shirt I'd seen that I liked, and c) a new pair of tracksuit bottoms that are sweat-proof, have zipped pockets, and non-elasticated ankles. Apparently none of these things exist in Westfield, so I decided WHAT THE HELL! I'd treat myself to a new pair of boots I'd previously seen and tried on last week.

When I tried them last week I was a bit concerned that my regular shoe size was a bit on the large side (as they're slip-on boots), so I asked the delightful assistant if she could get me the next size down. She returned a short while later only to inform me they didn't have the next size down, but they did have the one below that. I scrunched my face up and said something along the lines of "I like the flow of blood to my toes, thanks."

Then she said "oh, but we've got this in all sizes."

I looked at her condescendingly and replied "Yes, but that's a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT TYPE OF SHOE."

At which point she looked at the shoe in her hand as if seeing it for the first time and said "oh, yeah…"