Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Still Dying

Apparently Princess Diana is dead again. She first died in 1997 and to this day is continuing to die on an almost weekly basis. Tonight she died in a tunnel in Paris and ITN News at Ten are on the story with Tom Bradbury who seems very upset about the whole thing. More upset, you could argue, than a reporter should be. I mean when she originally died, he had every right to shed a few tears even as a supposedly hardened journalist. But this must be the seven thousandth time she’s died and he really should be getting used to it by now. It’s always in the same place in the same city and it’s always everybody’s fault. Mine because I’ve watched television and read newspapers, yours because you were breathing on the same planet as the people’s princess. We've all got her blood on our hands.

Reporter Bradbury talks to camera in a solemn Captain Kirk manner. “The last thing she would have seen, would have been the flashes of the many cameras.” He looks for all the world like he’s trying to say something deeper and more profound than his clumsy words allow him. Only his mum understands. Then he talks as every member of the press does without irony, about how the excessive press-attention upsets “the princes”.

I remember when she died for the first time, everyone was told to be upset because it was Britain’s turn for a big out-pouring of emotion. Tony Blair looked serious and said something serious about the whole thing as did William Hague because he was looking serious as well. Radio 1 stopped playing rock and pop, replacing it with classical music. But that could only relieve the pain so much.

Princess Diana’s dead - all the time dead. Never to be alive again; like all those who fell before and Saturday morning kid’s television. Dribbling over her bloody dead body doesn't seem to make her breath again. The ghosts in the Paris tunnel are bored. They're hoping we may have finally realised.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A Christmas Carol Smillie - Part 1

Carol stared at her, concious she should not blink, “I wont turn out like you…”.

‘I thought I could do what ever TV show I liked and it would be OK….’ Anthea ran her hands slowly through her tired drunken hair, ‘now look at me… Stuck talking to you on Christmas Eve wearing yellow shorts.'

‘You‘re ok…you’re fine.’, Carol's eyes could no longer maintain an honest contact, they dropped blurring the vision of the washed up celebrity who stood before her.

‘It’s too late for me,' Anthea replied, she looked over to the empty marble fire place, 'Killing a colleague’s cat when I worked for GMTV because I had a hole in my coat and it was the right colour. It was wrong, I can see that now. Wrong fucking colour and the fat Irish twat loved that thing. I wish I hadn’t done it, I really do…and now…I don’t even remember the name of the TV show I work on Carol…It’s…it’s…something about me…It’s not important; only my mum watches it anyway and she doesn’t even realise I‘m in it. It’s got my name in the fucking title Carol, etched onto the BBC 3 Schedule; words on a digital tomb-stone.’

Carol stood up and walked towards her porcelain goat collection and gently stroked Handy Andy, ‘I’m not like that...I’m not…Those people asked for their houses to be decorated. I didn't use them, I didn't.’ Anthea rose steadily to her feet and smiled. She pulled her hair and twisted it tightly above her head.

‘Three ghosts you’ll be visited by tonight Smillie at the midnight hour.’


‘You’ll be visited by three ghosts at midnight. I’ll be honest it might all be a bit ambiguous and seem like a dream the next day, but go with it.’

‘But I don’t like…’, Carol turned to face Anthea but she was gone.

‘Fucking rug’, Anthea scrambled on the floor, pushing her feet down to try and regain an upright position. Carol tried to help her, but Anthea snatched her hand away, ‘I don’t need your help yer washed up Scottish... Remember Smillie, three ghooooooooooosts’, she held that word unconvincingly coughing as she ran out of air. Slowly she limped towards the thick oak front door and struggled to pull it open. 'You need a new door for fucks sake.'

'It's fine it's a..'

'Ghooooooooooooooosts'. And with that Anthea was gone into another night.

Carol looked down at her half finished cereal. ’It’s the Special K, that must be it. It’s the low fat content, delicious taste and my reliance on it for three of my three meals a day. It's making me see things.’ She sat back in her dark red arm-chair, her Scottish eyes softened and the day left her.

Carol woke with a start, she kept her head still, her eyes searching the room as best as they could. A still silhouette figure stood in the doorway. Her shaking body rattled her heavy brass bracelet. She had to slowly put the words in order in her mind before she could speak, “Are you the ghost of Christmas past?”

‘No I’m your husband Carol. Anthea’s been around again hasn’t she? You’re pissed.’


‘I can see clumps of her hair on the carpet. Where’s the cat? Is the cat ok?’

‘You’re not my husband…’

‘Don‘t be stupid….’

‘I’m not married.’

‘But it says in Wikipedia you’ve been married for sixteen years.’

‘I wrote that.'


'It’s what I believe sometimes.’

‘But not now?’

‘No…not now’

'Come with me...'

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Weeks and Trees

National days and weeks are very much the things or thing of the moment. Last week we missed National Tree week. I say we missed, maybe you didn’t, maybe last week was totally jam packed with tree related activities for you, and if it was, I hope they were both rewarding and spongy. National Tree Week did of course include Tree Dressing Day( December 3rd) where we were encouraged to “Decorate and celebrate a living tree in your street”…”show how much you value it.” I haven’t seen one living tree decorated, and I certainly have not witnessed anyone celebrating a living tree. People were throwing down beer at Birthdays, making vaguely witty comments in leaving cards and submerging babies heads in water at christenings; but I saw no body sharing a bottle of cheap red wine with a Birch.

National Non-Smoking day is one of my favourites. I’m sure the creator of this day had the best of intentions. But they didn’t really think it through in my opinion. And though my opinion isn’t important, like oxygen and eggs are, it is none the less here and available right now, and you can’t say that about oxygen or eggs. You can about oxygen and many people have eggs in the fridge, but are these people really that into eggs, or do they just buy them because the purchase of something with “free range” written on it eases the guilt of driving 400 000 miles a year in a 90 litre people carrier with built in machine guns.

The problem with Non-smoking day is that the only people who don’t smoke on it are non-smokers. And call me Shane Ritchie if you want, but I don’t think we (yes I’m an annoying, ‘you got no right to smoke in this pub while I drink my Stella’ non-smoker) were the intended targets of this event. Most smokers I know make it their mission to smoke more on National No Smoking day, like somehow by doing this they’re urinating over the fridge of the anti-smoking activists. But they’re not, they’re just smoking more.

There‘s “Real Nappy Week”, “Obesity awareness week”, “Hearing Dog Week”, “World Ocean Day”, “National Badger Day”, “International Turn of Television Week” and “Compost Awareness Week” to name but a few. So if you fancy abandoning those imaginary nappies, being aware of how fat you are, shunning deaf dogs, switching off you’re telly in an international manner or simply being aware that compost exists, there’s days and weeks available for you. And that’s lovely…

Thursday, November 30, 2006

This is QACA

Are A-Levels getting easier? That’s been the question that literally everybody in the entire world has been asking. Just to put a picture in your mind of the widespreadnessness of people asking that question; A seven year old boy from Brazil, in the middle of a conversation with his mum regarding Comfort Cooling, suddenly and spontaneously directly asked “Mum, Are A-Levels getting easier? Mum? Are they? Mum? Mum? Mum? Are they?“

Well the answer to this question has been given by the QCA (Qualifications and Curriculm Authority), another organisation that feels that the word “and” isn’t important enough for their acronym. I would sincerely like these anti-conjunction-recogniser snobs to survive without this word. “Can I have Fish Chips please?” What you want chips made out of fish? Get out of my Fish And Chips Shop (FACS) you food mutating perverts! Anyway they’ve been working on the problem of A-levels, which are now officially recognised in their level of being easier as “Than when I was a child and we used to have to amuse ourselves”. Their solution is simple, they are going to make the questions more “stretching”!

More important than stretching questions, which I assume means either doubling the amount of words in the question, or maybe just using a wider font; they are going to smack the bare arse of the problem that too many people get A-Grades. And to my great relief they’ve chosen the classic nonsensical national method of rectifying the 'too-easiness' of qualifications: They're creating a new higher grade by adding a "*" to the end of the current highest one.

It’s Spinal Tap at the QCA. I assume the fictional character Nigel Tufnel must already be working there, swapping his amp that went up to eleven with deciding how to stretch A-Levels. So if Marty DiBergi did his documentary on the QCA and not a fictional rock band, the classic conversation would have gone like this:

Nigel Tufnel: The A-levels all go to A*. Look, right across the board, A*, A*, A* and..
Marty DiBergi: Oh, I see. And the old A-Levels went up to A?
Nigel Tufnel: Exactly.
Marty DiBergi: Does that mean it's a higher grade? Is it any better?
Nigel Tufnel: Well, it's one better, isn't it? It's not A. You see, most blokes, you know, will be getting an A. You're on A* here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you're on A* on your A-Level. Where can you go from there? Where?
Marty DiBergi: I don't know.
Nigel Tufnel: Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is, if they get that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do?
Marty DiBergi: Give them an A*?
Nigel Tufnel: A*. Exactly. One better.
Marty DiBergi: Why don't you just make A better and make A be the top mark and make that a little harder?
Nigel Tufnel: [pause] These go to A*.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Doors

'I'll close the door then', the bloke working on the platform said as I didn't close the door behind me whilst getting onto a train, because I don't work there. Don't get me wrong, I have no real objection to closing train doors and would happily do it just for the pure orgasmic enjoyment only closing train doors can bring a person. The trouble is the last time I closed the door behind me after thinking I was last on, I got the guard ripping the door open with a 'that's my job' look in his eye and an old woman who smelt of goat wobbled on moaning about the 21st century like it was nothing to do with her.I've had 30 years of influence on the world, she had probably had about 70. Statistically all the problems in society are more likely to be her fault than mine. She’s had longer to stir her wooden spoon of contempt in the dirty fat cake of earthly affairs. I hadn’t closed the door in her dumb-folded face deliberately, but I remember that look of pure dirty vindaloo strength disapproval with out a cooling naan and I didn’t want it again and that is why I didn’t close the door and upset the Mr “Not part of my job”.

I can’t pretend it didn’t spoil the journey. I knew I could have been the one to close that door. To seal the carriage from the outside world. But I didn’t because of one look from an old women all those years ago. That's why they invented the automatic sliding doors, so there was no blame, no hate. The richness of human community could be unspoilt by convention to complicated for most of us. Next time I meet the old fashioned doors, I’m going to have to stand outside the carriage until just before the train is ready to leave, then jump on quickly and close the door as it starts moving. Neither side can attack me for that. I will be without guilt, set free. I can watch the broken buildings and empty fields fly pass as we slide along the tracks.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Ashes are ours Australia

We’re gonna six you all over the place you Rolf loving sun stealers. Anyway I reckon Rolf wants England to win cause we let him make Animal Hospital? Did you heh? All those animals and did you give the bearded hummer a tele-program where he could unsquash cats? No…you’re too busy tying kangaroos down onto your barbeques and squashing full cans of Fosters with your bare dirty hands, spilling that shit everywhere so your whole country stinks of dull tasting lager. We’re gonna whack yer twenty nil you Ramsey Street peepers! Then you’ll come back to us crying, asking if you can use our queen again. Well you can’t - Lizzy don't like your accent and Phillip reckons your eyes look funny.


Monday, November 20, 2006

Middle-Aged Men

A middle-aged colleague paying 10p to get a drink out of the vending machine that isn’t standard tea or coffee. Standard tea and coffee is free. His selection is made but the drink fails to fire into the cup properly. He pulls out the plastic cup, a look of disgust on his face as he surveys the brown sludge lodged to the bottom. He strolls with indignity around the whole office showing all he encounters the inside of the cup. “And I paid 10p” he says repeatedly. “Not on.” some reply. “Go get the money back off the bastards” says the one who has never smiled. And with that, a man who got nothing for his 10p storms off to find “the bastards“. And we may never see him again.

The middle aged man who put petrol in his Diesel Car. A sudden letting go of the pump trigger and he stares down, eyes pushing as hard as they can out of inadequate sockets. “Shit!” And then two desperate looks around: The first to see if there’s anything he can do to rectify this terrible mistake. The second when he realises there isn’t, to locate anything around that he can immediately lay the blame on and kick. There isn’t, all he can do is sit on the step and thump his fat legs.

A middle aged man sitting against Tesco Metro eyes on the cracks in the pavement. Asks me for change as I walk past. I look away and mutter something to ease my guilt whilst not parting with a penny. ‘Anything’ he calls after me, ‘10p?’


Tom Cruise has married Katie Holmes. It was somewhere in Italy, which is a European country. Tom and Katie wrote their own vows as is probably not required in Scientology. Here’s a transcript…

Tom Cruise: I Tom Cruise from Top Gun, Mission Impossible and in a more emotionally complex performance “Born on the Fourth of July”, in the name of Sam from Quantum Leap, Spock and Mr Spoon, wanna say how enthusiastic I am about my love for you, the Seventh lesbian satellite of Kron - Katie Holmes and you were in that thing on Channel 4. Normal people can only express love. I as Tom Cruise wish to express something more than love. Love is not a strong enough emotion for me, as I am Tom Cruise. My love for you is a gushing spurting tide of pure thick and sticky devotion, that in physical form would resemble a come covered hamster. I cry when I look in the mirror and realise how many years Tom Cruise has been denied such a deep and spongy vibrant emotion. Come to me…

Katie Holmes: I love you Tom Cruise from Top Gun.

Tom Cruise: And?

Katie Holmes: …and I think “Born on the Fourth of July” showed you to be an extremely versatile actor.

Tom Cruise: Yeah.

5th Space Funky Juice Minister: Do you Katie Holmes take Tom Cruise to be your lawful wedded Galactic Spunk horse?

Katie Holmes: I do.

5th Space Funky Juice Minister: Do you Tom Cruise from Top Gun and in a masterclass of disabled war-veteran empathy,“Born on the Fourth of July”, take Katie Holmes to be your lawful wedded Dazed and bewildered wife?

Tom Cruise:

(20 Second pause whilst Tom Cruise bends down and punches the floor shaking his head due to
the overwhelming emotion of being Tom Cruise in such a situation.)

You bet I do.

5th Space Funky Juice Minister: You may now high-five the bride

Tom Cruise: YEAH!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Day After

There’s a creeping sense of foreboding in the road outside my flat. A road hidden in the heart of Bristol - remote from chatter and coffee . There’s rain - a superficial cliché of the sinister.

The ice-cream van came past as usual. But the strong dull wind skewed it’s tune into a painful chiming scream. It didn’t stop - Ice cream today would be crass and unnecessary.

The cars are parked further onto the pavement than normal. Whatever’s coming shall be encouraged to pass through as quickly as possible.

Now all we can do is turn off the lights and wait. Close the widest of eyes and push our faces hard into the mattress. Hope that when a tired and useless sleep expires, the hangover’s gone for good.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Sleepy and Hollow

Today was a day when it was foggy. I wasn’t sure what it was at first, the funny foggy stuff that was obscuring my view. But then as I reached the motorway, and the electronic matrix signs started flashing the word “fog“. It all became clear.

The man who owns the paper-shop never looks at the headlines. The woman in the Post Office who never sends anything through the post. They might play cards together on a Wednesday afternoon, glance out a dirty window, and try and wake up the day with a dirty smile. But they already realise that it’s never going to change.

Up come the motorway road-works. I realise they’re road-works because a sign tells me I’m only allowed to go at 50mph and there’s a couple of cones on the side of the road…but that’s it. Motorway road-works never have works on road. Who’d want to hold a Stop/Go sign on the hard-shoulder of the M4 unless they were tanked up on Stella and their name had one-syllable.

‘You have to keep the floors clean in this job…’ says the man in the off-license chewing the end of a biro he’s no reason to ever use, ‘…you look in the eyes of everyone who walks through that door and they always fall down.”

I can see a speed camera on the left. These don’t have film, they’ve got satellites. Pictures of BMWs being spunked out into the heavens. Slowdown speedup and then slowdown again. Accelerate hard away when you’re out of the camera’s range. A smug smile at beating the system; even though it’s in a chronically sad and irrelevant way.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Answer your phone...

When your phone rings in the middle of the office answer it. Don’t stare at it grinning nodding your head in what you hope is shared amusement at what we can’t see. Flip it open, look slightly embarrassed by your ringtone of someone shouting “Answer the phone! Answer the phone!”. And if next time you don’t answer it quickly, I’m gonna shove it up your ass and continually ring it; watch your hopeless face as your insides muffle those dumb fucking words, with you having no hope of fulfilling this quest.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


“The future everyday“, the corporate slogan says. ‘Wireless, all wireless‘, he says, pointing upwards to something wireless. I nod and slowly look around. There I was wondering around a Transport technology exhibition in Berlin, because that‘s the kind of life YOU are envious of. Loads of companies each covered in disgusting corporate spunk. The half-smiles, empty eyes, rehearsed tightening of the ties, and shirts uncreased beyond the achievement of conventional ironing hardware.

‘So……..they’re………all…………..wireless?’ I ask.

‘All wireless,’ he nods, ‘everyone, even that one with the wires; completely wireless. That‘s the key you see, the lack of wires.’

I said something about wirelessness and then threatened to kill him if he didn’t leave me alone right that second. And he went over to talk to someone else, about wirelessness.

That’s what “The Future Everyday” is like you see, and I don’t want it yet. I don’t know how this company tangibly experiences the future everyday, I’m even slightly suspicious that they don’t and it’s just some completely bollocks, badly thought out, twat of a statement. But I’m cynical you see, and there’s nothing more fashionable than being tangled up in those wires if it‘s the right now everyday.

Monday, October 02, 2006


When I turn on my DVD player, the digital display says “HELLO”. I rarely reply, there’s no sense in it. Talking to DVD players brings little reward and if there are others in the room it pisses them off that you would rather engage in conversation with Japanese electronics with a two word vocabulary (It also says “GOODBYE”) than talk to them about cars or angels.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Bad Weather

It's the end of summer again. And people are already worried about its classification. Was it a good one, an OK one, or a bad one? If you can't really immediately judge it, does it really matter?

An old couple walking down the pavement in early September. Their every step heavy, weighed down by the worry of the day's weather. They ambled on neither hot or cold and definitely not wet. There was no sun in the sky, yet the clouds were not grey and the breeze was light and friendly.

"I bet you'll it'll rain any minute", he said looking upwards shaking his head.

"Typical" came a reply half smothered by a loud tut.

Yes it's typical; its England, and it isn't some kid breaking your wing-mirror. It's the weather, controlled by whatever controls the weather (probably a magic elf). It's not Tony Blair and Gordon Bran-flakes deciding that they should subject us to rain. The local council isn'tmeeting to discuss the possibility of raising council tax to give us a bit more sun. So stop moaning you sullen couple of scone lovers, be more content and have a conversation like this :

"I'm very much enjoying our walk along this street. The ambient temperature is pleasant, and the lack of an extreme high or low temperature allows my progress to be comfortable."

"I agree. Though the possibility of rain is of course always present, based on both the location of the island of Great Britain and past experience of the other seventy years I have been alive, this is to be expected."

"I agree dear. Shall we do some robotic dancing?"

"BOOM! - Them moves is so fresh baby!!!"

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Hat

“Why the hell are you wearing that hat Matt?” is not a question I was asked today as I was not wearing a hat. Also the fact that ‘hat’ and ‘Matt’ rhyme could make this sentence sound clumsy if the annunciation was not of a high standard. Tuesdays are rarely a day when people are really putting out their best work aurally, so none of the people I encountered today were willing to go near such a sentence. Even if they were feeling confident enough to say the words ‘hat’ and ‘Matt’ conjoined, the fact that I wasn’t wearing one would have catastrophically diminished any kudos gained from their competent use of verbal emphasis. It‘s also worth noting that if I was wearing a hat, it would have been of an adequate quality and worn in a suitable context, so as not to have attracted an enquiry punctuated with ’Why the hell’.

So nobody said that to me.

Monday, July 31, 2006


Bristol is not meeting any of its recycling targets, so has put into action a new rubbish collecting plan.

What’s the brown bin for?
That’s for left over food.

And the green one?
That’s for garden waste.

What’s that one for?
That’s for cardboard and only carboard, nothing but cardboard. Do no place anything in it it……except cardboard. If you’re not sure it’s cardboard take it to our new ‘Is it Cardboard? Office’ in the main council building. They can tell you if the piece of cardboard you’re holding is suitable to be recycled as cardboard. They may decide it’s not cardboardy enough, in which case you need to take a long hard look at what you are doing to the environment of Bristol, in fact the United Kingdom. The whole world could very well be completely fucked because of your lack of care in discerning cardboard from very thick, cardboardy paper.

What about the black bucket?
For recyclable goods that aren’t cardboard. You put cardboard in there and we will kill you. Not a euphemism , you will face death.

And the Black Bins?
That’s for rubbish. And will be collected every seven years. I don’t think I need to explain what will happen if we find you’ve been putting cardboard in there? You will of course have your penis ripped off by an evil west-country goat. This penis must be disposed off in the yellow penis bin. (Please do not put cardboard in this bin.)

Sunday, July 30, 2006


I had a day off this week to catch up on some stuff. I may have accidentally switched on the television mid-morning and it may have been on ITV. And who was on the television?(Who am I asking this question too?) It was Jeremy Kyle, the Trisha replacement, talk-show host, goat-loving (unsubstantiated, in fact made up) over-opinionated, person I’d most like to punch.
Everybody always used to laugh and look down on people on American Talk-shows. But, I think they should be laughing at us. Laughing at people who’s lives are so fucked up they’ve decided to embarrass themselves, by washing their shit-stained laundry on television.

The episode I saw, I mean glimpsed at, I mean barely noticed, featured a man who was unsure about whether the child he had been raising was his. Actually…I think this was on the Jerry Springer in the UK show, not Jeremy Kyle. But is accuracy really necessary in the world today? How faithful was the film Lord of the Rings : The Two Towers to the events that really occurred in Bristol all those hundreds of years ago?( Apparently these questions are rhetorical, although as I‘m going to make no attempt to answer them, they are also something called ‘irrelevant‘. ) Where was I? (Bollocks!)

Yeah, this bloke thought maybe this kid was not his, so on comes the mother. When people make entrances to these type of shows they always, by convention I guess, have to spew out a ranting monologue to the person who’s been slagging them off. I think there must be a rule that under no circumstances must they pre-prepare these before entering, as it could inadvertently make them appear like they once went to school. On they come stand by the person sitting down and start shouting “YOU JUST NEED TO SHUT UP!”, “YOU AIN’T ALL THAT!”, “YOU’RE JUST JEALOUS!”, “WHAT YOU DOING WITH THAT GOAT KYLE?”
In this instance a genuinely fantastic exchange takes place. The mother is pissed-off. Annoyed and hurt by this hurtful ( hurt and hurtful in the same sentence can it be done? (Just accept it) ) accusation.

“I’ve only slept with you. What makes you think that she’s not your child anyway?” she says arms waving around like only someone that ugly can. Good question I think. She’s backed him into a corner. He’s now going to have to make a case, and we the public will judge if it’s good enough. And if it’s not, he will surely be killed by a pack of hunting dogs, who will be extra-specially hungry as they don‘t get no fox action these days.

“You told me it might not be my baby” came the reply. Ah..oh dear…So…..ehhh…. Well he might be lying because he’s on television? The outrage on the girl’s face certainly betrays the fact that she does not agree with his recollection of what she said. It’s still game-on. And then the girl, who I can’t remember the name of, but for the purposes of this story we’ll call her ’fucking stupid’ comes up with her argument to this supposed recollection. She delivers it in a tone and manner which displays such disgust at what the bloke, let’s call him ‘Fucking Stupid-To-Go-Anywhere-Near-Her’, has said that her whole body wobbles. With an accusing finger outstretched, she raises her ass from her chair, and shouts the immortal words.


I don’t know what this bloke’s problem is! How can he doubt it’s his baby if she only ever said he wasn’t the father once? Of course it’s his baby. If it hadn’t been, she would have told him there were doubts over the parentage the minimum three times, as required by British law.

Anyway I can’t remember what the DNA test said. It was definitely either not his child or his child. I’m off to get a pasty!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Noisy Streets

“I don’t fucking care anymore.” he shouted to noone in particular, dazed in a smart business suit in the midday sun. His zig-zag walk down the pavement of Gloucester Road in Bristol was slow and hampered by his substance intake. His head was pushed out in front of the rest of his body, so he had to stop himself from tipping over every ten seconds by stopping. “You don’t care about me, and I don’t care about you.” he continued.

Everyone carried on walking, lifting their heads up the minimum amount so they could observe him but not gain his attention. An old man with a bright orange coat and scruffy blue trousers walked past and offered “Just calm it down eh mate?”

“I am calm” he replied with massively exaggerated arm movements; movements of someone who wasn’t calm. Movements of someone who didn’t fucking care anymore, but might of just hours ago. Who might have cared more than anyone about something or someone, but was drowning under the glare of those that lived around him. People who he usually ignored, who usually ignored him, his neighbours. They watched him now, and he courted their attention.

An empty can of Carlsberg rested in the middle of the pavement. He quickened his approach and swung his right leg towards it. He stopped, everyone stopped; they watched the squashed green can, they watched it move through the air and bounce off the leg of a ten year old girl. The girl started crying, the mother comforted her, then walked towards the man with fire and long nails. The man pushed his hand into his face. “I’m sorry!” he shouted, but she continued her approach. He rested against the wall, the mother reached him.

“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” she shouted. He didn’t answer. She didn’t stop asking. He shook the more she shouted, scraping his head along the wall so it drew the sight of blood. She moved back, pulling her daughter who slipped to the pavement tears spilling, her hand covered her open mouth. The blood covered man pushed his hands hard against the wall, projecting himself backwards towards the road. The taxi was coming at pace as the man reached the curb. The taxi’s brakes were on full, the man continued backwards, his body convulsing as his panic took hold. The taxi skidded through and the man disappeared.

“I’m sorry." He sat on a traffic island, bouncing the back of his head against the blue circle with its white arrow.

The police came and slowly and somewhat ceremoniously walked the man to their car. As they did so a lowered Corsa drove by with its windows open, with two tiny, badly bearded 17 year olds sat in it and a song that looped the single word “Fuck” to a fast Garage drum-beat booming proudly from the stereo. The two police-man smiled, the bloodied taxi-dodger smiled, everyone smiled. A community finally, laughing at wankers in a purple car.

The police car drove off slowly, and as it moved from sight, the sound of busses and car-horns and motorbikes. Silence again.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


What was it with this sun that’s suddenly been doing its heat thing over the last few days. Has it warmed for a reason. To burn the St George’s Crosses from the sides of all the cars in England.

We’re all surprised again about how late it stays light in the evening. As if it’s never been this long before. Are we right to be suspicious? Is it the government bringing in longer nights and a hotter sun. A not so prudent chancellor raising the temperature by 2 degrees in his weather budget, putting 10% on the evening illumination.

Then today nothing but rain. Nothing but people in soaked summer clothing screwing up their eyes, running through supermarket car-parks with trolleys full of salads and ice-cream.

“It’s good for the garden” they nod, and close the door.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

News for the Girls

Though I can honestly say, I don't buy women's magazines.(Honestly, Reveal magazine was an accident. I thought it was a retrospective on Teletext)I do enjoy having a quick glance at the headlines as I walk past them in a newsagent. "I slept with my daughter's boyfriend ","My husband found out the baby wasn't his when he came out Welsh' and 'My partner stole my ankles' all being typical headlines.

The "I slept with my daughter's boyfriend' is a very popular headline. Such a story appeared in a Sunday tabloid's magazine a couple of weeks ago. The article ended with the woman, who was telling her story in this article, saying that 'I deeply regret what I've done, and hope that one day my daughter will forgive me.' This wasn't an anonymous telling of the story. The woman telling the story, proudly displayed herself looking sorrowful; a quote from the story "Don't make the same mistake as me" rested beside her.

I do slightly worry about the level of moral strength of the people these magazines are targeted at, if their genuine piece of advice to its readers is don't sleep with your daughter's boyfriend. But I hope the message does get through to other people before it's too late, as this mother only seemed to realise after the event that it may have been an unwise activity to take part in. "My daughter's reaction was not good. She was very upset when she found out". Really? She didn't take you shagging the love-of-her-life with the good grace you expected? It must have been so hard for you when she kicked up a fuss.

As for her explaining that she deeply regretted what she had done and Hoped that her daughter would forgive her; I'm not sure telling the story of how she banged the brains out of her bloke, using phrases like, 'the sex was amazing', in a magazine read by millions of people is going to help the forgiveness process. The poor daughter, who, as well as being upset, may have been slightly embarrassed by the whole thing and decided not to tell friends and work-colleagues the exact details of what happened, may have veered even further away from giving the gift of forgiveness after finding that her mother had obviously supplied the magazine with pictures of both her, herself and her ex-boyfriend to go with the article. Further suspicions on exactly how sorry the mother is, may be aroused by the fact that whilst her picture was taken with her wearing attractive clothing And make-up in a nicely lit studio, her daughter's photo; which was presumably supplied by the mother from the family photo album, had her slightly overweight in baggy pink shorts and sunburn with a smile that displayed more teeth than a pissed-off shark.

And then there's the other girls' favourite, Heat magazine: It has a picture of Jane Goody in a car holding a mobile phone with the headline 'Jade Goody pictured texting, driving at 50mph'. Obviously the journalists at Heat magazine have seen Top Gear, and wanted to make their own Version of 'Star in a reasonably priced car.' And I'm all for harmless fun, but running a competition in which celebrities are invited to see how fast they can drive whilst operating their mobile phones does seem a tiny bit irresponsible. That said, I am looking forward to finding out the celebrity, make of car and model of phone of the eventual winner. Catherine Zeta-Jones in a Nissan Sunny with a Samsung E500, has got to be worth a bet.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Football Brain

"I think Sven is going to go 4-1-4-1", I mentioned to a work colleague of England's upcoming game against Ecuador. "He'll play Rooney up front and Hargreaves just behind the midfield."

He nodded his head solemnly."I think that's definitely what's going to happen" he replied, "What else can he do?"

Football gives you the opportunity to talk about something we know nothing about with a perceived legitmate confidence. There's no tone of irony in conversations in which bankers and bin-men discuss how a football manager with 30 years experience has no idea what he's doing, and here's how to make it all better. I, like I'm sure most others, am not actually even aware that I don't know what I'm talking about when I'm engaged in soccer chat.

The brain of the football-loving man has an extra section that modifies football related memories. It wont touch the normal brain functions such as that which deals with eating, drinking, shagging, working, complaining about Easter eggs being sold too early in supermarkets, dreaming, talking about feelings and of course punching walls. It will just mess about with the football stuff, which allows you to enter over-confidentially into soccer tactics discussions.

When Radio Five Live informed me England will probably be playing 4-1-4-1, with Rooney up front on his own and Hargreeves playing just behind the four-man midfield, my main brain would have processed this information normally. But a few seconds after, the Football Memory Modifier neural pathways would fire-up and do their work. This is how it would handle the knowledge I gleaned from the radio:

It would change my memory: "Radio 5 Live reckons Hargreaves will start. He'll play just behind the middle-four as the primary ball-winner." To "I, after analysing the position England have found themselves in, and based onall available facts, reckon that England need to play a ball-winner. Now I know Hargreaves has had more stick than No-More-Nails, but he would be perfect for this role, so that's what I have decided Sven should do. Me!"

And it would change my memory: "Radio 5 Live told me that England would probably play with the formation 4-1-4-1 against Ecuador; a formation which previously I had never heard of. I'm not even really sure what it means" to" I, after analysing the position England have found themselves in, and based on all available facts, have decided the old 4-1-4-1 formation (one which I have always advocated), is how Sven is going to get England to playing the next game. I have decided this on my own. Me! I know all about football yeah!"

Nobody really knows anything about football.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Importance of Cutting Out

I’ve always hated using scissors. I’ve also always liked using the excuse that I’m left-handed; although not in an American ‘I’m a persecuted member of society’ kind of way. Just that, whilst I don’t think it’s ruined my life, having to use right-handed scissors always gave me some kind of excuse at school for my badly cut out paper-cat-shapes.

To this day I think there was an over-concentration on cutting-out at my primary school and of course neat hand-writing. The children that could write neatly and then accurately cut out farm animals and stick them around their writing always got the A++s (Yes there were ++’s --’s and all sorts.) My highest mark was a story about a man called Jack who went to Mars in a spaceship and died because he didn’t pack enough lunch. This captivating tale earned me a B--, which in a funny kind of way looked more depressing than my usual C++. A happy ’C’ must be better than a depressed ’B’. I would of got a straight B if I hadn’t cut off Jack’s head before sticking him to the side of my story. But when I look back now, I think I was making a point about Man’s inability to accept their heads.

I often wonder how cutting-out skills have shaped the paths of various people in this country( This is a lie, I mean, who would really wonder this unless they were in jail or watching Ukraine V Switzerland, but how else would you introduce a paragraph, which, and here‘s a preview, is largely, if not complete nonsense.) Would Tony Blair have made it to Prime-Minister if he hadn’t made such a cracking job of cutting out a tank to stick on his ’When I grow up I’m going to war with Iraq’ essay? On the other hand, Jade Goody would probably just be some forgotten brain surgeon, if she hadn’t, as a seven year old, made such a hash with her scissors, of extracting a picture of Starlin to stick on her ’Is Starlin’s legacy relevant to the on-going struggle for equality for females in the work place?’ essay. Because of this bad moment of cutting-out Jade gave up on education and thus makes lots of money from thinking East Anglia is a foreign country. (Which apparently it isn’t. Sounds like it should be to me. Then again, I’m shit at cutting out.)

Monday, June 19, 2006

Computers of the Future VS Shane Ritchie

The best thing about pubs is the licence to engage in conversations that may seem a little out of place in the office, at a football match or in Devon. One such conversation a couple of nights ago brought up the concept of computer Artificial Intelligence.

Because of computer power doubling every two-years, it was speculated that in ten years they would be able to think like human-beings, even maybe surpass them.

I can’t buy this. I mean what makes us human? What makes us more than just micro-chips, RAM, and running around killing monsters with a laser cannon in a badly lit cave complex? For example, could a computer ten years in the future be better than Shane Ritchie?

I’m the first to admit that a PC of 2016 would be able to forge out a career as a light-entertainer, presenting shows similar to ‘Run the Risk’ and ‘The Shane Ritchie Experience’. It may need to be fitted with a dedicated ‘Cheeky Chappy’ processor card to handle the intense unrelenting glint in the eye, but with this admittedly expensive additional hardware, I am confident an effective Shane Ritchie like personality could be modelled. What I am less confident about is what it would do if its career took a sudden and shocking nose-dive.

Shane Ritchie took time off, relaxed, ate some fruit and decided to act in the hit BBC 1 soap-opera Eastenders. This was a good decision for Ritchie, who is now firmly one of the 10,000 most popular celebrities in the United Kingdom. His character Alfie Moon was taken into the hearts of many a horny-housewife and his romance with the character Kat Slater was personally the most convincing thing I have ever seen.

But I cannot conceive the processing power necessary for a Cheeky, fun, bouncy, slightly overweight, reasonably amusing PC to work out that appearing in a soap, where suicide is used to lighten the mood, could possibly be a good idea. Even if all the computers in the world in 2016 were networked together into a super computer named something like IAN, it would still probably decide that appearing in Pantomimes in Weymouth was the only way forward. So Shane Ritchie wins, there’s no doubt in my mind.

As for Elton John: I don’t think a computer in even 10,000 years time would have anywhere near the raw power needed to be able to change the words to ’Candle in the Wind’ to pay tribute to a dead Queen of Hearts. “Goodbye England’s rose.” are not the words of bits and bytes, but of pure and beautiful; unsynthesisable human over-sentimentality.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Do you want England to win Scotland?

“So will you be supporting England during the world cup?” asks yet another reporter to another uninterested Scottish person as if the answer would yield some great politically vital question.

“No” comes the answer. Occasionally, some Welsh or Scottish person might answer, “Yes I hope they do well.”, especially if they don’t like football and are a celebrity promoting an album or a film.

I presume all these reporters and interviewers are asking Scots and Welsh whether they will be supporting England in the World Cup for some reason, but I am at a complete loss to know what it is. Maybe I’m the only English person that doesn’t care what Charlotte Church thinks about England’s chances against Sweden. Maybe I’m the only one who doesn’t care what Rod Stewart thinks about Wayne’s Rooney stupid broken foot..

I love living in Bristol, but being a Saints fan I really don’t care if Bristol City or Bristol Rovers win or lose. So please various media people, stop asking uninterested people uninteresting questions. England doesn’t care whether the Scots or Welsh want England to win; just as Scotland wouldn’t care what England thought if Scotland were in the World Cup and England weren’t.

Which will never happen……….hopefully.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

I’m on my internet banking site. You have been pre-approved for a loan of £24,000. Click here to accept. Really? Have I? I don't remember ever asking for a loan of £24,000. Then I stopped talking out loud at my computer as it seemed uninterested in responding. If it had chosen to respond it may have pointed out that you don't have to ask for something to get it pre-approved. But it didn't answer so it didn't make that response so leave me alone…anyway…

'So what is the problem with this?' you might well ask, or you might not if ignorance is the road you're driving your soul down. The problem is the most dangerous combination of things since fire and flatulence; the internet and alcohol. It starts off innocently enough. With small-fry drunken use. You've had a sack-full of Stella and in through your front door you walk singing the last song you heard, and it may be Steps. Just maybe. Look I’m not saying it will be but it maybe.

You slap the PC while you re-warm your Kebab up in the washing machine(non-colourfast cycle) and start browsing the Belgium version of Amazon. "Tragedy, when the feeling‘s gone and you‘ve can‘t and go on Tragedy. Because it's lovely like the sun. What’s this? Steps Greatest Hits for £7.99 La la la hey Jude. La la. Click Click. I have bought it now. I have bought that album what I've just bought called Steps. Yes now. I want my foooooooood. Oh it’s soapy….but it has retained its colour "

And so I end up with a Steps album, which, to be honest, wouldn’t have happened if beer hadn’t done stuff. But to be fair it doesn't bankrupt me, just made me slightly less of a person.

But imagine if this happened: "Tragedy, when the feeling‘s gone and you‘ve can‘t and go on Tragedy. Because it's lovely like the sun. What’s this? Steps Greatest Hits for £7.99! Just a second…What's that? Claire and H from Steps will come and play in my back garden for £20,000? Pre-approved loan of £24,000! I could buy a second-hand speed boat too!. Click Click. "

This is why responsible internet businesses should be providing sobriety tests for anyone wishing to purchase or agree to anything on-line. You should have to do some kind of obstacle course with a mouse pointer or complete Doom 2 on ‘I’ve got the biggest in the world’ level. Or maybe a Web-cam should verify that you can stand on one leg.

Last year 14,000 people bought Steps CDs while drunk. 345 people hired Claire and H for private musical performances under the influence and ITV commissioned Celebrity Wrestling.

Next time you decide you want a drink, leave the mouse in its house.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Beards and Bins at the BAFTAs

Sort of got the BAFTAs on in the background on the television for it is a program that can only ever be on in the background. Foreground watching it is not.

If there’s one thing actors are always desperate to do, is to make it clear that they are not actually anything like the characters they play.

David Tennant (Doctor Who), proves he is not really a time-traveller, pissing about the universe in a Police Box by sporting a rather embarrassing beard. He’s probably getting back to the theatre (which he really loves) appearing in a play written by a cat from Hull who has turned its life of fish-eating, bird-killing and looking peeved around into a successful playwright.

Worst of all is Martin Fowler from Eastenders who has decided to wear thick-framed glasses. Every shot of him, he’s there beaming away as if to say “Don’t be stupid, I’m not really Martin Fowler and here I prove it by wearing these glasses. Glasses that actors wear, not people from the East-End.”

And on the subject of award ceremonies, please stop nominating Catherine Tate if you’re never gonna let her win. It’s like they’re picking on her, winding her up. Next year they’ll invent an award called “Outstanding Contribution to Entertainment by Someone Named Catherine Tate”, and award it to Jonathon Ross.

Ross will afterwards comment that Tate was unlucky not to win.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Remains of Ribena

"They just decided they didn’t want them and dumped them there.” the mid-forties checkout-girl who must have been called Sue replied to the Security Guard in a voice so exasperated it made me want to take out a notebook and rewrite the definition of the word exasperated. The subject of this lady’s distress? Three big bottles of Ribena sitting just in front of the conveyer belt of her checkout.

The bizarre parallel universe that is the Sommerfield Convenience store near my flat continues.

The security guard who was quite rightly named Steve, himself unbelieving of the scene of, I repeat three bottles of Ribeena cordial sitting on the end of a shop check-out slowly shook his head. “I don‘t understand why someone would do that.” he solemly enparted as if he was looking at the body of a kitten that had been set alight by teenangers.

There then followed a long pause. Steve and Sue stared at the bottles unsure what their next move should be. They hadn’t signed up for this, this is not why they had joined the Sommerfield family. And because they never envisaged something like this would happen, they were ill-prepared to handle it when it did.

Finally Steve decided the only thing he could do was to take action. “I’ll take them back and put them on the shelf.” he said.

Sue shook her head once more, “You shouldn’t have to.” Her eyes rose up from the bottles and met Steve’s. Before Steve was just someone who threw out drunks or chased people that stole cheese. Now he was a more than that, he was a man that dealt with the horror of Ribena abandoning, and that made Steve a man Sue respected.

“When you’ve put them back Steve”, she whispered, provocatively playing with her dusty sticky hair, "...maybe we could get married, start a family. We could be happy, you and me Steve. Happy like other people are.”

Steve reached out his arms slowly but confidently and picked up two of the Ribena bastards. He winked at Sue and off he went to find the bottles home.

But because this was Sommerfield, Steve never could find where the Ribena belonged. Noone can ever find anything in a shop so randomly organised as to put yoghurts next to James Blunt Cds. Because of his dedication to Sue, he never stopped looking. His unwavering resolve to finish his mission of returning those boys home, ended in the only way it could.

Steve’s body was found in the Socks, Cat Food and fruits of a light green colour isle with a jar of Colmon’s mustard lying beside him. Steve had finally succumbed to starvation on day forty-two of his mission. How he had starved in a food-store noone knows, especially me who hadn’t thought of that till now, but fuck it. With his last lonely breaths, he had pushed his finger into the mustard and smeared the simple, although not quite simple enough to be believable “I’ll take your love with me Sue” in the peppy yellow sauce on the cold blue floor.

Sue continues to work hard, serving the people of Bristol with kind words and a cheery smile. But the bottle Steve never picked up still stands at the end of her checkout and when she catches sight of it as she swipes yet another tin of karma-sutra spaghetti shapes over the bar-code reader, a lonely tear falls onto the conveyer belt; and it sparkles in the artificial light until it disappears at the end of the line.

Monday, April 24, 2006


I was sitting in the launderette watching my pants dancing inappropriately with my socks in the washer. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted a discarded copy of Hello magazine, the classic launderette better life aspiring read. The cover had a picture of Charles and Camilla, with the headline “Charles and Camilla : What you really think about their marriage“.

And I don’t know what kind of witch-craft those Hello magazine journalists using to find out this information, but the underlining of the word ’you’ left me in no doubt that they had been rifling through my sub-conscious with a fine-tooth comb.

At first I felt violated, but then slightly excited. Finally I would have a my random thoughts on the future monarch and his thoroughbred woman thing put into coherent sentences. I read on.

Apparently I felt that Camilla could never replace Diana, and that I would never accept her as the queen. I tried to look into my thoughts, to see if I could verify the words on the page, but it’s all a little cloudy in there.

I decided I should just accept that what it said was the truth. After all loads of people read Hello. And the magazine comes out every week. This means by this time next year I could have collected fifty-two different subjects of which I will know what I really think about them( I’ve given up making this sentence make any sense) . Granted it will be things about Jordan’s breasts and the Duchess Of Kent’s Lavender Jacket but that’s OK. I don’t think I really want to know what I think about anything important; I don't want any nasty suprises.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Death of a Queue Jumper

This queue, my queue( I‘d taken responsibility cause I was at the front. ), had a certain level of complexity in that it was a single feeder queue for two basket checkouts. And as it was in We-really-couldn’t-be-arsed-to-put-any-thought-into-the-shop-layout-Sommerfield the pressure to hold order was palpable ( No idea what palpable means!)

But then, a figure not unlike Ob-wan Kenobi, stumbled to the second basket checkout, ignoring ‘The Queue’ and muttering something about ‘the force’. This incredibly rude and unexpected turn-taking violating movement, meant, by my approximation, a further 40 second wait in the queue, for me and each of my bitches (members of the queue)

Should I say something? I mean, would I really miss those forty seconds anyway? There's nothing I could really do with them.

I admit that well within a forty second time limit Michael Johnson has run 400m to win an Olympic gold-medal, Isaac Newton has conceived the notion of Gravity after seeing an apple fall form a tree and Boris Becker has impregnated some dodgy burd he'd just met, in a cupboard in a London Restaurant (with 37 seconds to spare).

But would any of them have achieved these things if they were standing in a checkout queue in Sommerfield holding a basket full of vegetables, scones and Muller Lite Yoghurts?

Newton might have realised the existence of gravity watching the hung-over ginger student dropping a four-pack of Stella on his toe and Boris Becker would still have found somewhere to let his German juices fly. But Micheal Johnson would have struggled to have run 400m around the cramped, inconsistently stocked aisles in under forty seconds. Even if he did, he would probably have lost a couple of Sommerfield Suitable for Baking Potatoes from his basket. And them potatoes is mighty fine.

Anyway, to justify not challenging the queue indifferent Jedi Knight, I decided I would, after going to bed, delay my going to sleep by a minute, thus not only ensuring this man had not made any negative impact on my waking day, but also taking the piss by extending it by 20 party-like seconds.

But then I heard disgruntled murmurings from behind. Those in the queue…my queue…who had followed and trusted me over cold and hard years, were not so forgiving as me of this new development. They had admired my queuing, I think some of them may have even started to fall in love with me. But now like most Gods, I had let them down; undermined their faith. And so, I was motivated to act.

"Excuse me", I called out, "There is a queue."

Though saying 'There is a queue' is not technically telling someone to join the back of it, more informing them that such a thing exists; the expected behaviour of the recipient of these words is to turn around, see the line of people, then look embarrassed and quickly walk away mumbling something sounding like "untseeitorry".

But this man was not playing by the rules. He turned around darted his eyes sideways then turned back in clear defiance of convenience store etiquette.

So we killed him. It wasn't excessively violent, more of an execution. He looked over sixty, so he probably wasn't contributing anything to society anyway.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Where we're going we don't need roads...

We're going forward an hour this weekend. That means it's lighter in the mornings, or darker, or something. Anyway it will definitely mean there's a change in light at some point in your brand new reorganised Sunday.

What the Lionel Ritchie are they going to do with my hour anyway? Store it in some huge warehouse in Kent? Logistically it must be quite a tough operation thieving sixty minutes from each one of us ’victims’ around the country.

They justify it by reminding us that they give it back in October, deliver it at some stupid time in the morning. But they don’t always get the right hour back to the right person. October 2004, I got given the hour of a middle-aged lady from Staffordshire who was obsessed with Shane Ritchie. Even though I slept through the hour, I really shouldn't have had to have those Ritchie thoughts in my head affecting what would otherwise have been a dream about that dark haired girl from Watchdog.

Anyway, to solve this problem, I'm not going to let the bastards take my hour tomorrow. I'm going to hide it under my bed next to my self-respect. Of course I will not be letting onto anyone that I have done this, as technically it's time theft. This in Science-Fiction terms will most probably rip a whole in the fabric of space that can only be mended by me renouncing my stolen hour, whilst concurrently firing some miscellaneous white beam into the rift from my spaceship.

I don’t have a spaceship, it’s impractical for someone living in a small flat without a launch-pad. But I don’t think it’ll be much of problem being just the one hour behind everyone. They’ve go TV channels to cater for people in my position like E4 + 1 and More 4 + 1.

If the heat gets too much I’ll make use of the inevitable, soon to be announced ‘Hour Amnesty', where everyone can hand their stolen hours into their local police station anonymously. An HTV report will feature an interview with Bristol's Chief Superintendant stood next to a big table covered with people's handed-in hours neatly laid out in rows. He'll comment on what a big success it's been and how the streets of Bristol are safer with more people than ever living in the correct time-zone. A moderately interested reporter will nod his head and hand it back to the studio where they'll talk wheelie bins and non-league football until they're out of time again.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Moving Music

I thought it would be easy. Wearing an MP3 player. Thought I could still be a normal member of society, fit in like everyone else does.

You shouldn’t listen to the Ricky Gervais podcast in Tesco’s. Because it’s funny, and funny can bring on laughter. Seemingly spontaneous bouts of laughter in the frozen goods isle, brings on confused looks and derision by those that hang around such places. I just needed frozen chips for those moments when only frozen chips will do. And with them in my hands, Gervais springs a funny in my ears and I fall into laughter. People stare at a man seemingly laughing at a packet of frozen chips, so I drop them and shake my head. I pick up another packet of chips, and look around with a solemn face that tells people that unlike the previous packet, this one holds little or no comedic value. They seem to understand.

But it’s music that’s the real danger. It has far too much say in how you walk and generally move. That’s ok when music’s coming from big speakers, out in the open. Then we can all be affected by the same rhythm together. No, it’s when you’re the only one with it in your ears. One lapse of concentration…you forget the rest of the world isn’t listening to ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, and you’re the only one Boots banging your head up and down.

Or the slow sad reflective ballad. Where every body movement is slowed down. Taking a tin of beans off a shelf in Tesco’s becomes an unusually profound experience. The memories start to flow, “I once fell in love with a can of baked beans, and it left me for a Pot Noodle. And this same-branded tin reminds me so much of the can I loved, with its beautiful blue labelling and equivalency to a single portion of the five recommended fruit and vegetables portions per-day .”

For me though, it has to be jogging where music through headphones becomes most unhelpful. I find it impossible not to be infected by the rhythm in the song. For example, there’s a run that would normally take about forty minutes around the Downs. If I’m listening to Pink Floyd at the time, it can take me up to six days. This leads to malnutrition and the feeling of being isolated from society, like I'm behind some metaphorical wall. Then there’s the Prodigy. With this on the jog will only take twenty seconds, though unfortunately it‘s a twenty second sprint that only gets me to the first tree before I collapse vowing to smack my bitch up.

The only way to listen to music and jog at a suitable speed is to get some, not too angry, not too relaxing, not to fast, not too slow, not too anything music. Thankyou for dedicating your entire career to making people run at a manageable tempo Phil Collins.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Twelve Quid Mate!

Taxis you either hate them or you're odd. When you're not a passenger they'll weave and swerve with psychotic purpose, when you are a passenger they'll give-way to a dead slug in a bucket.

A well known taxi driver hobbie involves driving to a mini-roundabout and performing a seemingly pointless U-turn. Taxi drivers record every mini-roundabout they’ve U-turned in a little notebook, detailing the location of the roundabout and how close someone came to crashing into them whilst they performed the manoeuvre. Champion George (53) from Bedford has U-turned on 2156 mini-roundabouts and has no friends.

Driving up a road with cars parked either side so there's only room for one car, you may notice a taxi parked slap bang in the middle blocking you way. So you flash your lights. No response. So you beep your horn, and finally they take action. On come the hazard-lights. In the taxi drivers mind, they are now blocking England with legitimacy.

The hazard-lights are a special Highway Code exemption scheme only available to taxi drivers. With this they are allowed to do what ever the hell they want to do. And your anger at their actions when the hazard lights are on, is just your pathetic ignorance of Taxi Law. With the hazards flashing, a taxi driver can go the wrong way up a one way street, park on your lawn, reverse over your dog, urinate out of his window into your Soda-Stream, shoot at milk-floats and even listen to 70's Progressive Rock on a medium-wave radio station. And there’s nothing you can do about it.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Cat on the Bonnet

It was cold this morning leaving my flat, probably any other flat would have been the same. And the cat was sat on my car bonnet, keen not to be disturbed.

I said hello, and he/she said nothing. He/she/it is a cat, but still they could have made the effort. “You’re gonna have to move, I need to go to work.” I stated shrugging apologetically.

Maybe the cat didn’t understand me, maybe because it’s a cat, but that excuse was wearing thin. A push of the button on my key and the locks unlocked and finally the cat stirred, stretching like a cat does. A slow rotation of its head, and the cat’s eyes made the welcome effort of catching mine. With a confused and irritated cat like look, it asked me what I thought I was doing.

“Get off my car, I have to drive to work.”

The unimpressed cat looked unimpressed and told me how unimpressed it was. “I’m unimpressed” it said.

“Why are you unimpressed?”, I said talking to a cat.

Carefully, with the speed of a sleepy cat, the sleepy cat rose to its feet and sat down upright on the cold bonnet surveying the countless parked cars parked on the street in which it mainly slept. “Why do you have to use this one, there’s all those other ones I’m not resting on.”

“You wouldn’t understand, you’re a cat.”, and I sat down in the drivers seat and started the engine.

The cat stood and looked at me through the windscreen. “I will leave this car now. Not because I want to, and not because you want me to, but because I have a dignity as a cat that you as not a cat will never understand or enjoy.”

“Get the f*** off my car!”, I shouted beeping the horn; and slowly the cat dismounted and wandered off to find a Vauxhall.

Monday, February 20, 2006

At Least with Tennis You Use a Racquet

“Football’s just eleven men running around a field chasing a white sphere, what‘s interesting about that?”, she said reading an article about Posh Spice’s breasts.

“It’s not eleven men, it’s twenty two men as there‘s two teams. Then of course there’s the referee, who doesn’t specifically chase the ball but has to remain in its approximate vicinity.” I replied boring even myself.

“It’s not as if there’s any real point to it.”, she continued flicking the page over to an article on coloured contact lenses. “I mean at least with tennis you use a racquet.” I ignored this comment, partly because I was sure I saw the point in football, and partly because I didn’t understand the relevance of the racquet.

And a couple of days later I settled down in the pub to watch the not so mighty Southampton take on a team, though not as mighty as a mighty team, considerably higher up the ladder of mightiness than Southampton; who‘s position on the mighty ladder is at the bottom holding it while every other team climbs up. The whistle blew, and the game started.

Southampton attacked, and I quickly got caught up in the excitement. Matt Oakley (Southampton midfielder) held onto the ball for what I felt was too long. “Pass it!”, I screamed at the television assuming it was fitted with a microphone that would relay my message to the relevant party. Oakley was easily tackled and my suspicions that no direct method of communication existed between me in a pub in Bristol and players on a pitch in Southampton was given more credence.

I sat back down, jiggling my feet, ready to shout again. Then I moved the pint glass to my lips, drank a little, and flicked my eyes back up to the screen and I saw it for the first time. Football really is just twenty-two men chasing a white sphere around a field. I glanced around the room; a hundred people sitting in smoke, inhibiting their higher brain functions with fermented chemical shite.

I put down my beer. I saw the Emperor’s New Clothes fade away leaving an ugly fat spotty truth. There’s a billion billion planets in the universe and the only one I can see is just a small spot of light in the night sky.

Then Southampton got the ball. Dyer had it on the edge of the area, he paused. “Shoot” I shouted, “Hit it!”. He was soon tackled and I held my head in my hands, picked up my pint and thought about what could have been.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Blood-Mobile comes to Work

There's always a moment of pride. The Iron content test. Before you go into the main session they take you aside into a little room prick your finger and extract a drop of blood in a little transparent straw-like thing. This drop of blood is then dropped into the test-tube, and the nurse times the amount of time it takes to reach the bottom of the test tube.

My drops of blood throughout my doning career have always performed incredibly well, thrashing the specified time-limit.. The various nurses have always exclaimed or faked a slightly surprised compliment as it bangs into the bottom of the tube such as "Well there's definitely no problem there" or "That was very quick.". I always try to look like I'm not bothered by their praise, not surprised by this further indication of me possibly being a close relation of God or Daley Thompson. But a little self-satisfied grin is always bubbling just under the surface.

All was going as normal, and a single drop of my championship blood was dropped into the test-tube by a nurse I'd never seen before. Down it went, with speed and with grace. I looked on proudly, then up to the nurse, who quickly glanced at the test-tube then back to her notes. "Just hold that over your finger while I get a plaster" she said and then with the plaster on, "If you'd like to come with me Mr Gracie."

"What?" I said unable to hide my outrage at her apathy to my Premier League blood drop performance.

"You can come through now." She said slightly raising her eyebrows.


"Is there a problem Mr...ehhhh?" she said walking out into the main doning area so all my work colleagues could hear, then she looked at me with a ’It’s ok to be scared of the needle, you don’t have to go through with it look’

“No, I’m definitely not scared of the needle, I was just disappointed with your reaction to my excellent Iron test result” is what I, thank god, stopped myself from staying instead I went, a little too enthusiastically, with “No I’m fine.”

An elder colleague was on the bed opposite, “It’s ok”, he nodded, “it doesn’t really hurt.”
“I know,” I replied ,”This is my fifteenth time.”

“Well this is my forty second time, but who’s counting” replied, a man who was clearly counting, but was annoyed at my overly short and sharp answer.

“I didn’t mean that was anything special, I just…..” and a new nurse arrived before I could dig myself further in yet another hole. I was relieved she hadn’t brought me over the cuddly blood toy.

“Hi, I’ve never inserted the needle before, do you mind if I…?”

I looked around, caught the eye of 42-times-Bob, who smiled at me in a ‘you aren’t scared are you manner?’

“Not a problem”, I nod and as she calls over another nurse to supervise. I can’t watch, I stare out of the window, and watch a bird peck at Vauxhall Corsa while they take the blood away

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Asking the Question

I was in a hotel, I was tired and I wanted to make a phone-call. I was passing reception which was completely empty except for the receptionist. "Do you have to dial a '9' to get an outside line from my room?" I asked.

And with that question the grey mid-forties man, name-tagged 'Lloyd' slowly tapped his favourite chin and decided on giving me an answer more useless than saying "I have no idea"; more rude than saying "Why don't you just F*** off"; and more irritating than Carol Vorderman crying over Richard Whitely dying.
"Let me answer your question, with a question?"

Why? I thought to myself, have I jumped too far ahead in the whole concept of telecommunications? Do we need to discuss something else more fundamental first before getting on to the fun bits? But from the smug grin on this man's face, it was apparent that some cutting and unnecessary remark was about to pop its ugly head out of his ugly head.

"What button would you normally press to get an external-line in a hotel?"

I can only identify the following as possible reasons for him asking this question:

a) He didn't know how to access an outside line.

b) He was genuinely interested in the different ways people access outside lines in hotels around
the world and was researching for his website he had set-up for the subject.

c) He had misheard my question, "Do I have to dial a '9' to get an outside line from my room?" as "Can you ask me a pub-quiz style question on Hotel facilities?"

d) He was a being a sarcastic cock.
After no thought on the subject, I found myself drawn to option 'd'.

"Nine" I said, almost apologetically.

"Correct" he replied and turned away happy that he'd taught me the valuable lesson that it is unreasonable to ask questions at hotel receptions.

I slowly started to amble off, a beaten and tired person. But with one last ounce of energy I turned and faced the receptionist again, staring straight into his cold self-satisfied eyes.

"So do I have to dial a '9' to get an outside line my hotel room?"

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Hello, The scone has moved. Here of all places. Below are my previous postings from the other place. Cold there.
"Well you only live once." was the final argument put to me. But what does it really have to do with buying an overpriced car? I had all but claimed victory in an argument with someone about a car they bought that they really couldn't afford. My argument incidentally was that they really couldn't afford it and just as I had beaten them into submission they threw this last five word punch. My brain told me that this was indeed a valid statement and as such I felt I had lost the argument.
But by this logic it would only be a problem buying something out of your financial means if you believed in reincarnation, that you had multiple lives. And of course you couldn’t buy an overpriced car if you were a cat, who would have been stuck with the financial burden throughout all of its nine lives. How many other arguments have I lost by someone throwing in "you only live once", which with further analysis I would have realised was irrelevant to the argument?
There's plenty of other irrelevant clichés people throw into arguments like the slightly shorter "might as well." Not quite as strong as "Well you only live once", but it can be used for those easier to win arguments that you just want to kill off or to soften your opponent before bringing out the big guns.
There was poor old George W, dead against the war. Then Rumsfeld comes along with his lethal word combinations.
George W : Do you really think we should be invading countries?
Rumsfeld : Might as well.
George W: Yeah, but, it's really gonna stir up shit. I don't know if I can be bothered.
Rumsfeld : I know, but, at the end of the day, when it comes down to it, you only live once.
George W: f*** it, let's have Ireland.
Rumsfeld : Iraq Mr President Iraq.
George W : Yes Iraq. (PICKS UP PHONE) Hey Tony, do you British folks wanna come along with us and invade Poland?
Rumsfeld : Iraq!
George W : Iraq.
Tony B : Nahhhhh, they wont like it.
George W: Come on…
Tony B : I don’t know…it could be trouble.
Rumsfeld : Say to him “You know yer wanna.”
George W : Mr Prime minister Tony. You know yer wanna.
Tony B : Go on then…
05 January
Listening to Movie Stars
“It’s so much bigger than all of us” said some actor off some film on , talking about this some film on the radio on my way home from work. The some film was called “Brokeback Mountain” and it’s about Gay Cowboys. Which is ground-breaking apparently, as there’s never been a film about Gay Cowboys before. But there’s probably never been a film about gay toothpaste factory operatives or gay goat murderers, but noones crying into their Cornflakes.
I shouldn’t really joke about it. I mean obviously Movie-stars are the most intelligent people in the known universe. Who else can make millions of dollars out of pretending to be angry.
In fact thank god this actor made that statement about the film, or my brain would have just been constantly running over the possibilities of exactly how big the film was. “I wonder if this film is smaller than me or bigger than me,” it would have been contemplating, ” or it might actually be bigger than a large amount of people, even all of the people in the world? In fact maybe it is of such a size it could be described as being sooooo much bigger than all of us?" I would never have known.
Movie Stars are here to guide us. Not all listen though. Last year, the silly and I would say irresponsible Brooke Shields was taking anti-depressants and receiving therapy because of her post-natal depression. How stupid was she? Did her doctor ask Tom Cruise if this was a good idea before he/she decided to prescribe this course of action? No obviously they didn’t, because Tom, who was speaking well within his area of competency quite rightly took his opportunity in an interview about the film 'War of the Worlds'( which was all most definitely also “bigger than all of us”) to discuss Brooke Shields condition, stating “I know that-- psychiatry is-- is a pseudo science.” and on anti-depressants “it masks the problem. That's what it does. That's all it does. // There is no such thing as a chemical imbalance.”
There’s some arrogant fully trained Doctor running rough-shot over medical advice of Tom ‘Top-Gun’ Cruise.
I only hope Brooke heard Tom’s warning before it was too late, and that medical professionals in this country do a little less studying medicine and a little more listening to Movie Stars.
22 December
"I've got some very exciting projects in the pipeline... hopefully, please!"
The newspapers, and those people that read them nodding their head( often named Geoff ), are always saying that there are too many celebrities around today (and that they get headaches when they read). Apparently Former Big Brother contestants will go along to the opening of an envelope. Not even interesting envelopes, just boring normal brown envelopes that contain bank statements or letters written in blood.

In the old days, it was easy to tell who a Celebrity was, they appeared on Wogan. Wogan grinned at them entranced as they wheeled off tedious details of their latest film ( normally filmed on location but set in LA) or a book about their life (which they‘d written themselves with a tiny bit of help from someone who bothered to learn reading and writing skills and wasn‘t addicted to pain killers), with a few shite anecdotes tagged on about when they tripped over a cat at Bruce Willis’s house.
But today? Well, I have come to the conclusion that even I am a celebrity. Not for any particular tangible reason, but looking at those in 'I'm a Celebrity, Get me out of Here', I think by those standards I must qualify. I did once appear in Dixons.
So I am going to the premiere of tonight’s episode of ITV’s' The Bill' . Yes it'll be held in my house, and no I don't have a red carpet. But I’ve found an orange rug and gone to the trouble of decorating the flat with 'Police Incident' tape I nicked from some kind of ‘Serious Incident’ along Gloucester Road.
I’ve got to go and face the press now. They’ll probably ask me if I’d go to the opening of an envelope. I probably will while I‘ve got the chance. I know how quickly fame can fade away.

Happy Christmas!
20 December
Christmas Classical Music Shopping
Walk into Virgin Megastore and it's just crammed with DVD Boxsets of Doctor Who and Desperate Housewives. Oasis are snarling loudly from invisible speakers, and the place is full of middle-aged men that shop only once a year. One of them goes to walk out, his plastic Virgin bag swinging back and forth with very over-confident stride. But as he passes the detectors, the sort of high pitched, sort of low-pitched alarm decides it needs to express itself. Teri Hatcher and Billie Piper look up from there respective Box Sets tutting. The man stops and returns their stares. A thick irritated grin punctuates his smug face as he waits for some kid in a 'Virgin Megastore' T-Shirt to give him the wave of ‘I don’t think you’re a thief’.
I make my way over towards the far corner of the store, in search of some 'Classical Music' for Christmas present buying purposes. It has its own separate room. I open the door and enter, letting it slowly close behind me.
Silence. Eddie Izzard sits behind the till and nods at me as he strokes his long newly grown white beard. He looks back down at his turkey, poking it with his index finger. I pick up a candle and begin my search for 'The Best of Classical Music 2006' CD, whose title, to me, sounds just a little premature.
I cross hard stony ground for a good couple of hours. Tiring I stop to catch my breath and look around to get my bearings. "Me and Pincess Di used to come here a lot" says a voice from behind me. I turn and see a short man in his fifties wearing a big pink bola hat. He slowly lifts off his sunglasses. "You be careful here. It's not safe here." He continues, unnecessarily using the word 'here' twice in just two sentences.
"Do you know where I can find 'The Best of Classical Music 2006?" I ask hopefully.
"You don't need to know who I am." He repiles.
"I didn't ask who you.."
"I'm Elton John." And with that a single violin can be heard, slowly crying the tune of 'Candle in the Wind' round the echoey damp cavern. Elton slides his sunglasses back on. "Ahh there you are Trevor."
"Finally" comes a deeper voice, and Sir Trevor McDonald walks around wearing a Green bola to stand next to Elton. "Well that's about it for now". Elton nods then gestures me away and starts singing as I leave, Trevor shouts at Elton furiously trying to make him stop but to no avail.
"The candle burned out long ago", the last words I hear as they go out of earshot, and my tired source of light and warmth flickers for the final time. The ’Virgin Classical Music Department’ sky is totally black and I’m left in a sinister darkness. A faint white light appears on the horizon and wearily I head in its direction. Getting closer I can see it's an old Victorian looking building, a public house, Its sign blows around violently, even though I can feel only a breeze. 'The End Inn'.
I open the heavy oak door and walk in. The lighting all comes from little yellow candles and it’s so bright I have to squint to see where I going. I stumble clumsily towards the bar and manage to slide onto a stool. The music is loud; a harsh mixture of Violins and shotguns, crashing symbols and piercing strings. My eyes adjust gradually and I see that the pub is packed with solemn faces all wearing orange bolas. Playing with beer glasses full of what looks like milk, none of them speak, but sway gently to the thunderous score.
A barman sees me and walks over "Can I help you?"
"I don't know."
"Are you sure your meant to be here? I don‘t think you‘re supposed to be here yet."
"I was looking for 'The Best of Classical Music 2006'?"
I'm handed a CD. “Go quickly.”
"This says 'The Best of Classical Music 2012'??."
"Give it here." He scrambles for another CD, "There, now go. "
I turn to walk out. But patrons block my way. I turn around looking for another way out but notice everyone is now standing up, all of them holding the candles above their heads. "I told you" the barman covers his eyes as he speaks. "I can't do anything for you now".
The figure in front of me, who looks exactly like Tim Henman's Tennis career, screams "Time at the bar!" and with that they pick up their pints of milk and pour them over the candles. The room quickly fades to black and I'm left with the sound of cows milk dripping on the slate floor.
"What about the extended Licensing laws?" I shout, but a fist makes contact with my skull and I fall helplessly to the floor.
"This is a residential area" comes a voice that sounds very much like the future career of Shane Ritchie when he leaves Eastenders. "It's time for you to join us."
I hear new music, "I predict a Riot" by Kaisers invading the classical roar. I see a oblong of light as the pub door is opened. Billie Piper and Teri Hatcher are waving at me, “Quick over here!“, shouts Billie, I look up and see Donna Air holding a Vauxhall Corsa above my head. I just manage to roll out of the way as she brings it tumbling down. I push myself to my feet and run towards the light. I don't look round, just keep my eyes fixed on freedom. I make it to the doorway and trip crashing straight into World Music. The door closes loudly behind me.
I stand up, holding 'The Best of Classical Music 2006' above my head. "You might want to pay for it in there”, says an assistant pointing back behind me, “there’s a huge queue out here'
“I don't mind queuing." I reply glancing over my shoulder. That‘s classical music shopping over for another year.
05 December
That’s the trouble with catching trains in this country. ‘What is?’ you might ask, irritated by the fact I started off this entry as if I had already told you. Well the fact they’re fucking useless, is at the very least mildly irritating.
And when whichever one you’re waiting for is inevitably late (because if it was on time it would only confuse people), you get a nice women saying “I’m sorry, but the 18:22 to London Paddington is delayed by seventeen minutes.” Except the nice women is a recording controlled by a computer.
In fact she always seems slightly amused by the whole situation. Maybe someone had told her a knob joke just before the recording, and much as she knew her voice would become a symbol of commuter misery, was unable to hide her amusement and indifference.
They could have recorded it again, given it one last shot at conveying a single ounce of regret. But they didn’t have enough time as she had to record her “I’m very sorry” version of the message for those trains over twenty minutes late and the “I am personally devastated” version for those cancelled at birth.
But she pays for it now. Every statement she makes is believed insincere. “I’ve heard it all before.”, they would say to her. “They’re just empty words, you don’t mean it.”
And so she sits alone, in an empty, dirty flat, with only a bottle for company, wishing that on that day in the recording studio, she’d cared just a little bit more.
Being Smug on a Bus

The only space left on the bus was on the back seat next to Vicky Pollard’s ugly sister who was busy on her phone to someone who obviously liked being shouted at. I went to sit down and was told “My boyfriend’s sitting there!” I looked around to see evidence of someone ugly enough, but noone looked likely so I sat down. “He’s getting on at the next stop.” she mumbled.
“Oh” I said smugly and loudly, “So, My boyfriend SHALL be sitting there.” I leaned back, happy with my semantic correctional performance. And everyone looked at me laughing, clearly also enjoying my….Oh..
29 November
Southampton were playing at 12:30pm, which is far too early for pub-visiting, but what with the new 24 hour licenses, it is our responsibility as British citizens to now drink in pubs at inappropriate times, because we can. Anyway, I could have just drunk coke.
Arriving at the ‘Walkabout’ pub slightly past 12:30, the game had already started. I walked in still wearing my woolie hat that I had just bought, enjoying the feeling of having hair. I don't mean my hat felt or looked like hair. It’s just that to the outside world, whilst I wear the hat, people are unable to identify me as a de-haired person, thus, I allows me to enjoy brief moments as a person of hair.
I walked to the bar to order my beer or coke, I forget now. The screen above the bar was showing the football, but it meant I had to slightly arch back from the bar to see what was going on. As there was a rather competitive queue, each arch back to catch the exciting action lost me valuable 'It's my turn to order' authority.
I decided to place more priority on the bar and take the risk missing vital football action. I didn't want to waste too much time so I leant right forward on the bar. The bloke next to me, who looked like a cross between Noel Edmonds and H from Steps, also leaned forward in a somewhat aggressive manner, unmistakably signalling his intention to take me on in a ‘Serve-Off!’
I rotate my head quickly to the barmaid and smile and nod in an appreciative praising way with regard to her pint pouring (Should have taken off my hat)
Noel Edmounds does that glance at watch and look like he’s been waiting for years move. (Aggressive opening play. A serious competitor)
Under pressure I place my elbow on the bar with my hand pointing up in a my-turn manner. (Simple, elegant)
Noel mirrors my move but has a fiver in his up stretched hand. (Showing currency at this stage could really pay off for Noel.)
Noel’s elbow slips on the bar slightly and moves back, I edge towards him, thus slightly blocking his return. This gives him 18% less leaning forward range. (A knock out punch?)
The barmaid looks up, but my last move has really taken it out of me. Noel reacts first and shouts ‘I’m next’. (Desperate, no dignity, but ultimately effective in this contest, His pint is poured).

Finally I get my pint and find a suitable television to watch the game. There are about 30 Tvs in the pub and about three of them have the game on. A group of about fifteen of us gather around the best option and start watching the game.
The second half thunders on, but then the football disappears and on comes a picture of a bald ex-rugby player talking about the England V Western Somoa game that will start in about 30 minutes. With the sound turned off and Wonderwall playing on the stereo, his message is somewhat lost.
Bemused, the Fellowship of the Saints fans wander off to seek a new TV. Another one is found, but five minutes later the picture changes to the same bald ex-rugby player appears, (he really should consider wearing a woolly hat.)
21 November
Sommerfield Loving
You have to love Sommerfield Supermarkets, not because there's some kind of law enforcing your love for them, just because they ignore any innovations/standards of competitors and tread their own directionless path through the murky retail jungle.
Whilst the uninspired Tesco and her friends will try and place goods in some kind of logical order, allowing shoppers to get a picture in their mind of where the next object on their list might be, Sommerfield are much more artistic, randomly spreading goods into every nook and cranny with aisles that seem to have categories like "Yellow things" and "Stuff that's boring". For example, one day you may come across a jar of mustard. If you are a mustard fan, buy as many jars as will fit in your basket, because you'll probably never bump into them again unless you form some special mustard locating task-force. In fact fire a flare in the air to tell your fellow shoppers that mustard has been found and that you were the dude that found it.
On my last visit, I picked up my out of shape basket and noticed they had started placing corporate slogans on the insides. This one enthused the simplicity of Sommerfields shopping experience with the slogan, "Shop, Pay, Go!' Exactly what kind of revolution in shopping this is I am unsure? I suppose Sommerfield must see this as a simplification of their old system, and thus they must have rid themself of some bizarre fourth stage of supermarket shopping. Previously you may have had to 'Shop, Pay, Shake it like a Poloroid Picture and Go', Although alternatively it could be that the contempt they have for their customers means they have no confidence in their ability to complete the shopping process with out these instructions. Sommerfield may have mistakenly believed that thieves were just nice normal people, unaware of the second stage of supermarket shopping.
Then there's the till staff. It's unfair to say they are all bad, but you have at least a 50% chance of being served by someone who: A) Doesn't really like people. B) Will never truly get to grips with the whole bar code scanning process and must rotate each item 5 times to find it. Then after finding it and finding the bar-code reader, that wont, for some reason read this bar-code, they will give it a further forty attempts, before realising it's not going to happen. They'll let out a big painful sigh and give you a look as if to say 'I can't believe you've wasted my time and everybody else's in the queue, by not visually checking the bar code before you brought it to my altar! Go shop in Tesco you novice.'
I sound old and grumpy. I still love Sommerfield...
13 November
Kelly Clarkson Kelly Clarkson Kelly Clarkson
‘Everybody’s talking about Kelly Clarkson’ says the TV advert advertising an album by Kelly Clarkson, and I’m not actually sure who she is. But everybody’s talking about her. Look at me now, just another person on the all encompassing list of everyone talking about Kelly Clarkson. No work is being done, no papers delivered, no bread baked. Nobodies playing football or cleaning their teeth, arguing about sofas, videoing firework displays or driving Volvos. No one can eat because a mouth full of food would block the flow of Kelly Clarkson related words escaping from their gob. The two minutes Armistice Day silence, utterly ruined by constant Kelly chat. You’re not reading this now because YOU are unable to shut up about Kelly Clarkson. And because of this, there is no future for this planet or you or anybody. I hope you’re happy Kelly Clarkson.
08 November
Firework Displays
Fireworks exploding, children excitedly pointing to the skies open mouthed as sharp and fevered colours light up the sky. An old couple look on, smiles on their faces with the comfort of knowledge that some things don‘t need to change.
Then there’s a bloke in his mid-forties, with his Sports-Action fleece, eye firmly fixed on the view finder screen of his skywards pointed Sony Cam-Corder. His wife reaches into her bum-bag and brings her Oakley Sunglasses sliding them onto her overly tanned face.
Then suddenly silence. Four seconds of it as people turn their heads from the skies to each other, with a look that asks ‘Is it finished?’ It is, and everyone cheers then walk away happy with what they’ve seen. Except mid-forties guy, who replays a short excerpt of his recording, smiles, nods his head and flips the screen back into the camera. He smiles at his wife as if to say ‘A job well done’.
But when, will this video ever be used? How bad would television have to get before, your best choice would be to watch a video of the 2004 Fireworks on the Downs?
I’m sure as soon as he got home he carefully burned it onto a DVD. Then created an animated menu system, with Director’s Commentary and trailers for his other features such as “Decorating the Lounge” and “Assembling Ikea Furniture”.
He sits watching fireworks on a 60 inch television, never contemplating it would have been better in a million light-year sky.