toxicsoup

Well, not toxic, exactly... maybe just a little bit rank. But in a nice way. With a garnish.

Monday, January 30, 2006

fatter stomach

I bought this book for Imp, it came today.
That's all it will take, 5 days. She's got a greyhound-stomach already.


I bought this book for me. It'll take months.
You could park a Greyhound Coach in the shadow of my stomach.

oops

Bet it's a long time till this bloke visits another museum...

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Sunday Game

For those of us who still live in the past, Lightning Pool is a godsend.

It's true that back in my student days I was a right hustler at pool.
This was due to the hours I spent in the refectory perfecting my shots. A lecture dodged, 20p for the first game, a paper cup shoved down each pocket to ensure hours of free play and it was well within my finances.

Now, I still think I'm good at pool but I haven't won a game for at least 6 years. The last time I played, Imp slaughtered me.. she cleaned up before I even had a chance to invent some excuses to explain away my crapness.

On my computer, however, I rule. She gets the sharp end of my elbow if she even casts a shadow near this keyboard. I am the best player ever at Lightning Pool and I daren't give her the opportunity of beating me.
Back off, sista.


The nice thing about this game is that if, like me, you have a pitifully short attention span, it shamelessly entertains. The table changes every time you clear it... to something even more improbable and a tiny bit more difficult. It becomes a pinball table, a golf course, a hovering disc in space. Collect coins for bonus levels.

The controls are easy - aim using your mouse and left-click to determine the power.

WARNING - Make sure you switch the sound off if you're at work (not that I think for one moment that any of you would be able to drag your eyes away from your spreadsheets) because the sound can be a bit loud at the beginning.

Click

Saturday, January 28, 2006

liar

The scales, they lie.

Are there no scales in the whole of Britain that can do their job properly?
I'm going to sulk.

it's a local shop for local people

For the next seven days only, you can listen to three hours of The League of Gentlemen on the 'listen again' facility on the BBC 7 website. Class comedy.


Follow the link and scroll down to 8pm. Enjoy.

tip the balance

We are like an old married couple.

Me, clutching the shopping list. Imp, pushing the trolley.
We mosey on around Tesco, catching a quick snog whenever no one's looking. We are trying to be quick because we've left TinyDog on her own, but Imp has a rule about going down every aisle in the entire building. Given that this is a massive Tesco, this could take hours.

We spend ages looking at the dvds because I'm addicted to films, then we spend ages looking at baskets.. because Imp thinks they are a good idea. I can't really understand baskets. They've got holes in them. Ah well.

We snog again and wander up the bathroom-stuff aisle.

Imp looks for a while at bathroom scales.
Her scales at home lie outrageously and then change their mind 30 seconds later. There's really no way of knowing whether you should be contemplating stomach stapling or if you are just perhaps a tiny bit porky. One minute you're a whopping 15 stone then step back on and you're back to a happy 9 1/2. Bastard things.

I test them out, around a corner. I weighed myself at home earlier so I know what to expect. I grit my teeth anyway.

These scales are brill!
They remove a whole 4 pounds from the awful truth and smile up at me, winningly.
We like these scales.

Satisfied, we chuck them in the trolley and head to the tills, 8 pounds lighter and only £3.59 poorer, between the two of us.

Friday, January 27, 2006

hooray for squirrels!

Go on, admit it... they're cute :)

zen and the art of motorcynical maintenance

Toby, my car, finally got his new radiator.

It had a hole and I’ve known about it for a month but haven’t done anything about it.

When it comes to car maintenance, it’s the law that you should put things off as long as possible. This is in the small print that comes with your driving licence.

There are actually 2 1/2* laws involving going to the garage.
The other law is that you should only go to a garage if the application of industrial amounts of WD-40 fails first.

*There is a third lesser-known law (therefore only half a law) that states that in the event of the failure of WD-40, it is acceptable to hit the offending car-part with a hammer. This sometimes works.

Toby needs a new exhaust, too, but as he doesn’t yet sound like a fully-fledged tractor, this can wait for a while longer. Logic states that Law 1 can get me through for a few more weeks. Law 2 can’t work and Law 3 would just be plain stupid on this occasion, so I'm gritting my teeth and dragging things out as long as possible.

Anyhow, radiators run on a different set of rules.

The problem with radiators is that if the hole gets too large… and the cooling system drains merrily while you’re cruising a cool 85mph on the motorway, you could end up with an engine in a slight state of blown-upness.

With this in mind I have kept my speed down to 80mph (in-between speed cameras) and have diligently topped the cooling system up, oh… every now and again. Well, twice actually, but that’s because I lead the high-powered life of a high-powered… er.... look, I just haven't got time, okay?

I do what I like and you can’t stop me.


I almost managed another month of head in sandness but I started noticing while queuing at roundabouts that there was a slight cloud of steam issuing from under the bonnet. Hard to ignore. This meant that I was forced to drive everywhere with my teeth clamped hard shut, to ward off explosions.

This is a well-known method of car maintenance. I’ve cheated the RAC of their rightful roadside pickings many a time, simply by clenching my jaw shut as hard as possible. Tell your friends, save them money.

Today, however, I bowed to inevitability and handed over the cheque. I’ve put my hammer back in the basement and the WD-40 is back under the sink. Hopefully a couple of sessions with a physiotherapist and my face should look normal again.


Thursday, January 26, 2006

one wheel


I can do it!

Ride a bike, that is.
For 6 metres.

This is the one that Imp bought for my birthday many months ago.
Someone forgot to include the second wheel and a set of handlebars, so I’ve been scratching my head since then, trying to work out where my front basket is supposed to go.

Thing is, if ever I should need to carry a baguette, a bottle of Pinot Grigio and a fluffy pussy cat, I’d be stuck for passenger space.

***

When I say ride, what I actually mean is hurl.

My foolproof method is this:
I cling onto the nearest fence, Bambi Amputee-esque…. and throw myself forward toward the ground, bizarrely enough. I then peddle like crazy in the wild hope that I can catch up with my body before I hit the ground. It’s all very elegant.

I’m not for one moment suggesting that I look at all strange; but if you see me, I will be wearing a certain amount of safety gear, it has to be said.

For the mushroom effect I sport my bike helmet and for the person-with-serious-burns-look I wear specialist unicycle gloves with wraparound wrist guards. Sexy.

I’m considering putting an order in to China for an adult nappy, which will solve the loose bowel problem.

Give me another couple of weeks and I expect I’ll be doing stuff like this.

Until then I will mostly be looking like this.

**************************

I know it's not time yet for Sunday Game, but have a shot before your boss notices, it'll keep you quiet for 5 minutes. It should get through Websense.

Cycle over the obstacles, carrying your goldfish bowl above your head. As you do.
Don't let the water level get too low. That's about it, really.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

drawers of drawers

While I’m still on the subject of underwear.

My pants fit into three categories. Sunday-best Pants, Granny Pants and Period Pants.
That’s probably more than you need to know, but there we go. Just being friendly.

There is, as it happens, a tiny sub-section of the ‘granny-pants’ that don’t get used at all. They are the cream coloured granny pants that came in a multipack many eons ago and have been rejected as ‘far too Pride and Prejudice’.

I’ve never been particularly worried about the opinions of ambulance drivers, should I ever be in a position where I am lying on the road under the front end of a bus while people study my pants.
However, I draw the line at giant cream-coloured granny pants.
These, truly are, Emergency Pants.

I would have to be marooned without access to a Tesco Extra (The Apocalypse, perhaps) and possibly having lost the use of ALL my limbs, to even consider donning those reject pants.
A frontal lobotomy would be another example of a time where perhaps I would let things slide enough for huge cream pants to be acceptable.

White pants are a different matter.
It seems to be physically impossible to keep anything white in my house. All my *white* things are actually a kind of pale bluey-grey.
But that’s okay, because I like bluey-grey. White is for girly-girls. White is for people with enough white stuff to put in a separate wash. Wimps.

I’ve got a whole drawer packed full of pants. I wear about 6 pairs and ignore the rest unless it’s a really special occasion. Some of them, the ones at the bottom of the drawer, I haven’t seen for months. I know they’re there because without them I’d have tons of space.
Don’t ask me why I hang on to all my Pariah Pants. All I know is that I can’t possibly get rid of them.

It’s an honour thing.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

diet

Today all my underwear is intact and facing outwards, I just checked. One of my socks is inside out, but I don’t think that counts.

***

Last night we went out for a meal at a friend’s house, EvilThing. She’s not evil and she’s not a thing; but there you go, life can be unfair sometimes.

EvilThing is great at cooking diet food so I had a vague idea that we would be eating posh diet stuff with pine nuts and fromage frais. Not so. One glance at the crisp-filled dish on the coffee table confirmed that it was a Non Diet Night.

I like Non Diet Nights. I can munch cheesy things till I puke and blame it on someone else. It wasn’t my fault, guv’ner, they made me do it.
So casting my diet aside I reluctantly set about the business of eating Naughty Things.

Imp and EvilThing chatted and sipped wine while I chomped through the crisps.
Nice. Not any old crisps… posh ones that come in a giant bag and come in flavours like ‘Red Pepper with a dash of Olive Oil and dusted with Smoked Cheese’. Or something.
Fine by me, I’ll put them away.

I did.

We moved through to the dining room where a delicious spread awaited. Vegetable lasagne with salad and coleslaw and funny delicious little oily bread things.

Imp and EvilThing chatted, sipping wine and eating polite little forkfuls of food.
I ploughed into my plate of food, adding liberal amounts of coleslaw. Wonderful. You have no idea how gorgeous bread is, when you’ve been eating 3 slices of crappy wholemeal Nimble every day.

I helped myself to seconds of everything and demolished it happily while Imp kept EvilThing regaled with witty stories and anecdotes.

Pudding? You bet. Tiramisu. Until I was ready to burst.

We retired back to the front room. Or at least, Imp and EvilThing retired, while I wobbled.
Plonking myself back on the sofa we resumed conversation, fortified with coffee. Fearful of losing my strength I made short work of some more of those gorgeous posh crisp-things while the conversation carried on around me.

Finally Imp and I drove home.

Imp curled up into a cute little ball under the duvet while I disappeared into the bathroom. Eyeing the bathroom scales suspiciously I scrubbed my teeth and then, holding my breath, I stepped on. I squinted at myself in the bathroom mirror and wondered to myself why I don’t seem to be any thinner yet…

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Sunday Game

This is another game loosely based on PacMan.
The old ones are the best, eh?

*Note for local government employees.... I don't think this will get past Websense, but the Pacman might.


The aim is to collect all the gold from the underground shafts, while avoiding getting your pipe eaten by monsters. The pipe has a little PacMan head on the end of it... don't let it bump into a bomb, it will be blown off.
The bombs can pass by the pipes without doing you any harm.

Eat the monsters and make the most of the timers (which will freeze everything for a few seconds) to reach the lower levels.

Good points: Inane, addictive and simple. Only ten levels which means I can justify having a quick go in my teabreak. (I haven't got past level 7 yet)

Bad points: I haven't found any way to turn the sound off... and you need both hands, so you can't fool the boss and you can't really eat a sandwich at the same time.

Click

Saturday, January 21, 2006

wrong way round

I'm not noted for being a morning person, in the same way that the Pope is not noted for being an unstoppable wild beast of a party animal.

Yesterday I got up in my usual morning haze, struggled into my clothes and made my way to work.

I'm also not noted for my ability to dress myself tidily. Imp regularly untwists my bra straps, straightens my collar, flicks dust. I just can't be arsed with all that stuff. I'm what's known as a 'scruffy git'.

She worries about what the ambulancemen would say if she ever had an accident and wasn't wearing matching bra and pants.. and if her collar wasn't straight. Oh, the shame!
I worry more about whether I would die horribly, but there we go, it takes all sorts.

Once safely installed at my desk I somehow got through the whole day, pulling off quite a good impersonation of someone who is awake.. fooled everyone and then drove home again.

It's a tradition of mine that I always have to sprint through the front door and leg it for the bathroom, my bladder having drip-fed itself full-to-bursting during the hour-long drive home. I expect the other people in my building must think I've got a constant dose of cystitis.. or that I really miss my own toilet.
I warn you, do NOT get in my way when I get home, if ever you should have the misfortune of being outside my house at the exact time I pull up. And especially do not make splashing noises or spill water in front of me.
- I'm telling you that for your own safety.

It was when I was hoiking my pants up post-wee, that I realised that something wasn't quite right.

I'd put my pants on sideways.

Not only had I put my pants on sideways, but I'd paid a couple of visits to the work-bog in the day and not even noticed.

Bloomin' heck.
Someone shoot me, now.

*Note for students: It's occurred to me since last night that if you sewed a gusset on each corner, you could wear your pants for three days, simply rotating them every morning, hence saving on laundrette bills.

For those without any shame, you could turn them inside out on day 4 and make them last for SIX days.

Remember folks, you read it here first.

Friday, January 20, 2006

look at the pretty pictures

Got clobbered by 30-Something. Thanks a big bloody bundle.

I've got to say, I hate these things... they are SOOOOO boring to read. Come on, admit it... you never read all of it, do you?
I mean, who gives a flying picket where you went on your hols last year? I certainly don't.

So, never liking to do anything the easy way (but not wanting to appear impolite), I instead have compiled a load of pictures.
Some of you I know, can't read. Sniffy, you'll be able to work it out from the pics.

What? I SAID, YOU'LL BE ABLE TO W-.... ahh yeah. Someone tell her for me.

For the rest of you who can read; cast your eye, wrinkle up your nose and tell me where I've gone wrong...............

1. Four jobs you've had in your life:

2. Four movies you could watch over and over:

3. Four places you've lived:

4. Four TV shows you love to watch:

5. Four places you've been on holiday:

6. Four websites you visit (almost) daily:

7. Four of your favorite foods:

8. Four places you'd rather be:

9. Four albums you can't live without:

10. Four to pass this meme along to:

I wouldn't want to inflict this upon anyone else.
If you like this kind of thing, have a shot. Preferably without telling me about it so that I don't have to pretend to be interested.

*grumble, mutter*

Thursday, January 19, 2006

got it covered....

Sensible sign. I'll have to suggest that Cardiff Council take this on board. I expect they'll thank me...

while the cat's away...

Today I'm tired.

I didn't get enough sleep and to make it worse, I'm working late tonight so can't take the afternoon off and go home to bed, which is what I want to do..

The office is empty... everyone is out and about and there is only me and two administrators to cover the office.
I like it when there's no one here; I can work better when I'm not being distracted.

I surf the web while eating my lunch and make an exciting discovery.
Websense is having a day off! We can watch Sky News!

Fantastic.

I ring through to the room next door, too lazy to get off my ample arse.. and in they scurry, like excited little kids. We know we're being naughty and it's great.

We line up in comfy twirly chairs, feet up on the computer benching and, fielding phonecalls, we settle back to watch the news headlines.

We catch up on the Ruth Kelly situation... discover that cold Russian temperatures of minus 30 are heading our way. We get angry about an arson attack and debate over the fact that CRB checks do not need to be renewed.
We marvel over the sheer numbers of teenage girls queuing the streets, waiting to be auditioned for the next Harry Potter movie.
Would they notice that we are in our 30s and 40s if we go and join them?
Probably.
It was a funny thought though... and we can all do with the money.

Joking about whether we should go and make coffees all round we come across this story:

This bloke lost half his head and survived.

Click to watch news report.

First we are laughing and then we stop.
Blimey. He's one lucky bloke.
Or maybe he's not. I'd be pretty pissed off if I'd had half my head blown off. It's a situation I'll be trying to avoid.
Amazing though.

Sobered now, we stop.
Playtime over, we get back to work.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

seven steps


Apparently you can connect every person on the planet within 7 steps. I don’t know who came up with that one, or how… but it’s an interesting thought.
I like a challenge.

Not having the resources to ask everyone in the world who they know, who they are related to etc. etc., I started testing it out in blogland.

Because I’m such a lazy person, I quite often will try to get back to my own blog while blog-surfing, by clicking on links and trying to find names of blogs that I recognise… and ultimately blogs that have links to me.
Anything to save myself the bother of actually typing my URL - by hand, the old-fashioned way.. painstaking letter by painstaking letter - or looking for it in History or Favourites. Of course, it usually takes me ages and I often have to er.. type my URL, or look for it in History or Favourites.

Clearly this is unreasonable and I feel I should be able to reach my blog by a lucky series of clicks.


Blogs seem to interconnect like a series of Venn Diagrams.. we’ve all got our varying lists of favourite links and a few of them overlap.

That’s a tiny bit of genius from me to you, free of charge.

I’ve been trying to find a route back from this site for a while, haven’t managed it yet. I've no idea if it's possible or not. Maybe I should cheat and ask Davezilla to link to me and then I'll be able to get to sleep at night...

It’s not at all important in any way but I’m busy nurturing a tiny little obsession about this one. Humour me.

Imp will tell me off if she finds out, as I’m just minutely anal about things in other areas of my life. Just a little-ickle bit. Like having all my books and films catalogued and cross-referenced.
She thinks I’m up my own arse, which clearly I’m not, as ultimately I can pinpoint
anything within… well… it would work if I tidied them all up. Bad example.

But anyway, that’s just a minor point.
(Don’t tell her)

If you have nothing better to do, please give it a shot and let me know how you did it and in how many moves. Or just tell me about the amazing things you find.

You'll get to see loads of other sites, loads of sights. You'll love it. Treat it like a day out... pack some sandwiches, have an argument with someone. Lose your wallet. Report back.

Thanks.

Start here


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

killing bagpuss

If I wasn’t quite so lazy I would probably be a famous drummer by now, waving my arms around and sweating a lot behind a famous band.

Being the drummer in Killing Bagpuss didn’t make me rich or famous, even if you stretched the meanings of the words ‘rich’ and ‘famous’ to mean ‘not earned a pigging penny’ and ‘my Mum thinks I’m in Oasis’.

We played in SkankyAndy’s bedroom mostly and then, when our hearing started feeling the effects, we moved to the back of a church hall where the sound had further to travel before it bounced back at our poor, bleeding eardrums.

Ambition nipped apathetically at my ankles. I ignored it mostly. I vaguely wanted to be Lars Ulrich until I realised that the position was already filled, so I shrugged and wondered about becoming a marine biologist (I like penguins).

Luckily I was already the best teenage drummer in North Wales. Doubly fortunate, as my folks wouldn’t let me have lessons.

Killing Bagpuss was genius.

We called it Killing Bagpuss because we knew it would upset people.

Happily it worked – people were upset. It was amazing how much negative response you can get from suggesting the needless and violent murder of a fluffy toy.
The other benefit was that it was one of those names where people don’t expect much. Like Stryker or Armageddon… you know that it’s going to be a whole lot of noise and not necessarily a lot in the way of talent.
Or maybe we were really talented, who knows? Hard to say through all the feedback and internal-organ-busting screeches that came from SkankyAndy’s guitar.

We produced enthusiastic ear-splitting amounts of noise for a few months and practiced our growls. I got really good at sneering and glaring at the same time while SkankyAndy’s voice broke and the growls just got better and better.

Sadly for the nation, Killing Bagpuss broke up before the talent scout found us.

The neighbours complained and we both stropped off artistically, knowing that in a few years time these short-sighted philistines would switch on Radio One and faced with some crappy band that was "All noise – you can’t hear the words...", they would mourn the loss of the best Death Metal band that almost was.

Monday, January 16, 2006

making holes

Today is job-day.

I have a list of things to do: put up some shelves, put up some hooks, paint the upstairs landing, insulate the floorboards, put tyres on Imp’s bike, put up some candle-holders, box out a recess, chop wood, put up curtain rails.

I like doing jobs… especially those that involve power tools.
I also like using power tools and impressing Imp with my power-tool-abilities. Today is going to be a triumph of powertoolness.

I decide to start upstairs and work down.
The most upstairs of the jobs is to put up some coat hooks.
This will be a nice easy job because the bloke who lived here before had already put them up… but he didn’t put Rawl Plugs in so they fell out.

Easy-peasy. Re-drill the holes, pop some plugs in, screw the hooks to the wall. 30-second job.
Whistling cockily and jauntily assuming that 'don’t-mess-with-me' drill stance I whizz the trigger and grin.
I love power tools.

The drill hits something hard. Harder than wall.

I remember I haven’t got a cable detector and worry that I might drill into an electric cable.
I like drilling but I don’t like dying. Or at least, not as far as I know.

I check the other side of the wall.

There’s a shower there. I don’t want to drill into the shower.

I go downstairs.

***

Putting up shelves.
There are 2 of them.. the third is already up.

I balance on the step ladder and blast away at the wall with the hammer-drill. It’s easy for about 4mm and then I hit something hard.

Bastard wall.
There is ABSOLUTELY no way I’m giving up on this job. I push a bit harder.

The drill is starting to smell alarmingly hot.

Suddenly it lurches forward through whatever it is that is hard and, driven by my bodyweight the drill bit and the bit-holder punch a hole into the wall.
A hole the size of a 10 pence piece.

Bugger-bugger-bugger-BUGGER!

It’s going to take quite a few matchsticks to pack that hole.

Checking quickly that no one has seen, I give up and head toward the kitchen in search of coffee.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Sunday Game

If you can get past level 5, I lift my hat off to you.

Erik vs Erik is a cute little game with great hand-drawn effect graphics that'll keep you glued to your seat until you have a bad case of RSI in your right hand.

Remember Pac Man? Erik vs Erik is like a cross between Pac Man and Pixel Panic... get the dots, surround the squares, avoid the other Eriks (Speedy-Pumpkin Erik, Zombie Erik, Baby Erik, Bad Complexion Erik, and Monday Morning Erik).


Collect all the dots around a rectangular section of the play field to fill that section and score points. If any of the other Eriks are around a rectangle when it's filled, they are sent home.
Fantastic! More exciting than Ludo, that's for sure.

I've got to prepare a lesson for tomorrow morning.
I need to be doing that next or I'll turn up at 9:30 with nothing to teach and a fearful, haunted look on my face, then the students will revolt and I'll be dejected and unemployed all at once... quite possibly my car will break down, I'll put on a stone and a half in unexplained weight and I'll break out in spots (and we all know what happens when I break out in spots)... Spar will have run out of toothpaste, I'll become hideously unnattractive, Imp will leave me and I'll become allergic to beer and pizza.

So you see, I really should go and write this lesson.

After just one more go.....

Friday, January 13, 2006

Brokeback Mountain

Imp and I went to see Brokeback Mountain tonight.

Me: 7.5/10 The scenery was great.
Imp: 7/10 "It wasn't exactly fast-moving!"

We went because we hoped that it would be groundbreaking as regards gay interest films; especially as it was Hollywood, so in that way I suppose it was. However, it wasn't the most exciting film ever... and certainly not explicit in British terms. I suppose those poor Americans need protecting from us naughty shirt/skirt-lifters.

The scenery was fantastic and if, like me, you're a mountain fan then you will be planning your next expedition during the drawn-out panoramic shots.

We had been told that we would probably both end up in tears at some point.
So we both spent the entire film wondering when the emotional bit would happen. When the emotional bit did happen we both shrugged, dusted ourselves off and waited for a sadder bit... which never came.

Without giving too much away, we both know people who live daily in these circumstances or have lived it ourselves... and so to us queers, a bit of heartache is par for the course.

If you want gay interest, dust off your copies of Queer As Folk. If you want deviancy, watch Withnail And I. If you want scenery, tune into UK Gold and grab a few episodes of All Creatures Great and Small.

Ah well.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

buying a camera


Everyone gets zits.

I thought that I would stop getting them once I reached the magical age of 20 but they kept on coming like the proverbial buses… none for a while and then a whole gaggle of them all at once.
My face, Friends Reunited for spots.

When I was about 16 I heard a rumour about Oxy10 being 50% alcohol and drinkable in the bargain.... so I tried that, but it seemed that the manufacturers had heard the same rumours and got there before me, emptying a vat of stoat-sweat into the mixture.

By my early 20’s however, various creams and potions had been smeared over my epidermis. My skin was probably worth about the same as Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream’ after it had been nicked, but easier to track down and much more disturbing.

It was the weekend and I was pottering around, experimenting with toothpaste. Apparently, toothpaste blobbed on a spot and left for a few hours, would dry the spot out. Well, that was the theory and I was the (by now) white-blobbed guinea pig, being the proud owner of about 10 spots..

***

Harry rang, from down the road.

Did I want to buy the camera we’d been talking about? He was definitely going to get rid of it and it was mine for a fair price.

I liked living in Bristol. The people were friendly (even if they did all talk like Wurzel Gummage) and didn't seem to hate students much. I was even friends with Shirley, down the fruit and veg shop around the corner, which was great for scoring free spuds.

Harry and Aggie lived in a terrace house the opposite side of the road and down a bit. It was your classic Old People’s House – packed full of absolute crap. If ever you needed a hat stand or a painting of dogs playing cards, Harry and Aggie would have a spare one.

I knocked on the door, and Aggie let me in, beaming away. She was so friendly, was Aggie.
Harry hovered just behind her.
Smiling widely, delighted to see me, he shook my hand and showed me into the dining room where the camera was out ready for my inspection.

Obviously I am practically a professional photographer but I listened patiently while he showed me around the apparatus, explaining about f-stops and the like. We talked wisely about the ins and outs of photography while Aggie buzzed around attentively, providing tea and biscuits and looking happy.

They were such a cheerful couple, I was fortunate to have a good rapport with the older members of my community.
In fact, it must have made their day, having a visit from me, judging by their smiles.

I smiled back.

I suppose most of the time they stared out of the window and guarded the wheelie bin.

Shaking hands over our newly-struck deal I said goodbye and crossing the road, turned and saw that they were both stood at the front door, waving energetically.

They really were so friendly.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Pie. Sky.

I hope you don't think I'm being extravagant, but I thought I might buy an island (maybe Robertson Island in the Antarctic), build myself a luxury house, a jungle paradise around the back and perhaps a mini-mountain or two.


Don't worry that I'll get a bit chilly.. this is all off the coast in Dubai and my nearest neighbours will be a boat-ride away. I hope they're not too posh.

Actually, you can live anywhere in the world, but still be browner than a chestnut.

I'm checking down the back of my sofa in a mo to see if I've maybe dropped a few hundred million.. I'll check Imp's sofas when I get round there later...

Click and dream

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

social gathering

It was gone midnight and fuelled by a few pints of beer and some cheap draught cream sherry from the local off licence; my friends and I were on the search for mischief.

There was a skip on our street, now adorned with a comprehensive selection of dated Old Lady Furniture. Prime pickings of studenty prankness, we thought admiringly.

As students go, my mates and I were relatively well-behaved… we were practically respectable. Not too late to change, though.

***

The Hen and Chicken pub on the corner of our street was the local watering hole for couples… the kind of place where you would go if you’d managed to get a babysitter for the evening. Blokes put on their shiniest shirts and women donned high heels. Bouncers sneered at the doorway and expensive alcohol made ladies' cheeks glow.

A pint there was out of the question for us paupers… we went to the Star, where the clientele was generally much rougher and the beverages were affordable.

Perfect place to take the piss, then.
If we couldn’t afford to drink inside the Hen and Chicken, we’d drink outside instead. Well that was our reasoning, even if it was well after closing time.

There was a handy little mini roundabout just outside the Hen and Chicken. Nice views of the shops, plenty of warning in each direction of oncoming coppers. A gentle breeze, quite warm for the time of
year, not too much traffic… all it needed was a gathering of seats and some pintage..

We scrambled up into the skip, scavenging diligently between fits of laughter. I laughed so hard my face ached and my legs were at times strategically crossed.

Presently the mini roundabout was transformed into something that looked like your Auntie Betty’s living room… floral armchair and mismatched settee, standard lamp, little coffee table. Lovely.

We settled down, armed with cold cans from the fridge for a civilised but slightly pissed chat, grinning at passing taxis and toasting late night staggerers, before legging it like crazy when someone finally called the police…….

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Sunday Game

Fantastic! It's Sunday again, which means that it's a legal requirement of being British that we should ignore the housework and play computer games.
It's a grim fact that failure to do so could result in prosecution or even the death penalty.

With this in mind, I bring to you Robobug Blaster.
It's a nice little vertical platform shooter.. the aim being to protect the boxes from the bugs before they reach the quality control man.

The animation is great (watch the bloke at the bottom) and the controls are easy-peasy.

You can switch the sound off, which is a must for playing on a Monday morning in the office. Not that I'm suggesting that anyone would dream of playing games in the office.
I, for one, would much rather do filing or speadsheets, but that's because I'm a model employee with absolutely no character flaws whatsoever.

Also, an update for people who liked Zuma or who have completed all the levels (Imp, I'm talking to you!) and want another challenge.

This is a weirdy Japanese (I think) version called Bear and Cat. It takes AGES to load (open another browser window and surf... or do some work while you're waiting...?! Nah, only joking) but it's worth it just for the trippy music.
You can turn the sound off by clicking 'pause' and moving the volume dial down.

I'm not entirely sure of the rules... my Japanese is a bit rusty so I couldn't read the instructions. However, just keep shooting and growl occasionally and you can't go wrong.

Cool, though.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Boob Tube

How to make millions - part 2

You could plaster your breasts (or man-boobs, if you are male) with paint and create breast-prints.

I went to art college for 3 years and somehow gained a degree without learning about this lucrative art-from. I may have to sue my ex-tutors.
Take a look.. aren't they impressive? (the prints, I mean)

And don't give me that crap about your 3 year old being able to do that... your 3 year old hasn't got tits.

So these are the results of M.Briquette of California's years of training.

Funnily enough it seems that if there's a bandwagon rolling, people hurl themselves at it. Take a look at this bird from Oz and her work...

Di Peel is flogging them at about forty quid a time now.

I really am missing something, I could be making a fortune.

Says Di, on ABC.net.au:

"They're more like abstract flowers," says Di."But my latest piece, people say, looks like the earth from space. My son named it 'earthquake' because he thinks it looks like an earthquake."

Er... yeah.... right.

Friday, January 06, 2006

till tussle

I went shopping.

All I wanted was a jar of coffee and a bottle of bitter lemon but it seemed to be turning into something more sinister.

Tesco Metro is less than 5 minutes walk from my house which is handy... but they never have more than around half the tills open... and always queues and queues of students laden down with cheap plastic bread and cartons of orange juice. Generally the queuing time is around a quarter of a millimetre growth of leg stubble.

I don't know what happened to the 'One in Front' policy, they seem to be ignoring it. 'One person in front of you? We'll open another till!'
Another till, my arse.
Someone should tell Prunella Scales.

I picked what looked like the shortest queue and, stepping over the basket left in the aisle, joined the back of it.
As a recent Argos customer, I am now a professional queuer. I assumed my Queuing Face and switched my brain to tickover.

Er....

I became aware of someone rejoining their basket and edging their way into my personal space. WAY into my personal space. Elbow-pressed-in-ribs kind of intrusion. While pretending not to.
It was EvilQueuePushing Woman.

I could feel the glares. In the same way you can feel your insides cooking if you stand too close to the microwave. Pulsing waves of glares.
I think the side of my neck became the most despised side-of-neck in the building.

I pretended not to notice.

THERE IS NO WAY I WILL LET HER IN FRONT OF ME THIS POSITION IS MINE I WAS HERE FIRST SHE CHOSE TO LEAVE HER BASKET I WILL BE TRIUMPHANT, I thought nonchalently.

I edged half a shoe-length forward.

EvilQueuePushing Woman tried to cut me up by kicking her basket forward and pressing into my arm.

I stared in an unconcerned way at the ceiling and looked thoughtful.

We continued in this weirdy siamese-nemesis shuffle, inch by inch. Me, pretending not to have noticed her. Her, trying to outwit me and push in at every available basket-skidding dirty look.

We reached the checkout and I dumped my shopping firmly on the conveyor belt, claiming my position as rightful ruler and heir of er.. The World. That'll teach her.
Like stone, she refused to let me by so clambering over her basket I paid for my wares and chatted cheerfully to the bloke on the checkout.
He was Somali or Algerian or something and barely spoke a word of English... plus it destroyed my record of being the most grumpy customer in the history of Tesco Metro... but this particular battle could not be lost.
I chatted like my life depended on it.

By now EvilQueuePushing Woman was scowling so loudly I could feel my skin crawling. I packed my shopping and chatted some more.

Then she did it. She hurled herself at me as I turned to leave, knocking me sideways and catching me off-guard.
Bitch!
I ignored her once again.

I limped out the shop trying to look cool and frantically thinking of loads of clever, witty and disarming things I wished I'd said to her...

Thursday, January 05, 2006

beg, borrow or steal?

I swore a little bit more under my breath as Imp drove as fast as she could without being arrested for melting the road surface.

It takes about half an hour to drive from Barry to Cardiff, allowing for the fact that the roads were built when people drove pit ponies and also the fact that the council seems to consider it fair sport to place traffic lights at every junction or hint of a junction.

This is to stop joyriders from joyriding. I would offer up Rocket Launchers as a more effective deterrent, but no one seems to listen to me.

Red light, red light, swear, swear, swear.

(I’m great company when I’m stressed)

Imp pulled a handbrake turn onto the link road and we hurtled at the speed of light towards the city centre, performing stunts that The Dukes of Hazard would have paid good money to see.
Go, girl.

I reminded myself to only make friends from now on with sensible people who wear beige and who would rather eat their own arms than do something as daring as even drink coffee with caffeine in. People who borrow tatty paperbacks and then lose sleep over the responsibility until finally they break under the pressure and return it complete with a bottle of whiskey and the keys to their house...

We drove....
All the while my 12-string acoustic Yamaha guitar, worth several unmentionable bundles of poundness sat unconcerned on my doorstep in deepest, darkest Cardiff.
My lovely guitar; exposed, begging to be nicked, unsupervised, returned (in a fashion).

Nearing collapse, my blood stream filling with dangerous levels of adrenaline, my heart weakly fluttering gamely on.
Buggery bollox.

This is the same guitar that Jesus used when he composed ‘Kumbaya, M’Lord’ before he went to the Garden of Gethsemane for a chicken chow mein and some prawn crackers.

Bad people walked by; robbers, Scousers, muggers, confidence tricksters, and still my priceless guitar sat incredibly (divinely) unnoticed and untouched.

Meanwhile, pressed back in my seat by the G-force produced by Imp’s road-hugging manoeuvres, we sped guitarwards, dodging sluggish sportscars and stationary police vehicles.

I vowed never to lend anyone an item of worth again.

Or at least, never to ask for it back without first securing a written agreement of time and place for handover and asking for a deposit of, for example, a kidney or maybe a small sculpture by Rodin.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Backache

Why my body hurts. Part 1.

I pranced like a ten-year old, feet moving quicker than the speed of light, my football skills astounding everyone.

"Wow" they cried, "you’re amazing.."

Smugly I nipped past a pair of legs, doubled back, flipped the ball over my knees, twisted 90 degrees to the side and mid-air, whacked the ball straight into the goal.

"GOAL!!!" I screeched, running a lap of honour around the 7, 8 and 9 year old that made up my opposition.

It’s worth noting that add them up and I still have a 9 year old to spare. Too old? Not on your nelly.

The ball headed back my way and I swiftly dodged LittlePerson1 and intercepting, whipped around and dribbled with foot sure talent and immense skill back along the beach towards the discarded jumpers that marked the makeshift goal.

Inexplicably at that moment my legs were encased by light-particles heavier than lead and hanging on like some insidious invisible rugby player, they floored me, unfairly passing the advantage to the opposition and pinning me down.
Evidently evil forces were at work, intent on ruining my street cred.

Checking for witches or people in druid outfits, I squinted toward the prom and hauled my weighty body upright.


Why my body hurts. Part 2.

"Watch this!" I croaked, hurling my wobbling form toward the farm gate, my one wheel changing its mind about cooperating and naughtily changing direction without further warning.

My audience winced, saving me the trouble, while 2 feet further on I crashed into the metal bars and declared myself an almost-competent unicyclist.


Why my body hurts. Part 3.

Imp and I squeezed our way into the single bed and hung on to each other, enjoying the proximity.

"Do you mind if you move a little bit closer to the wall?" she whispered, torso overhanging the mattress.

"Course not" I mumbled and pressed myself against the wall, head pressed up to the wallpaper, shoulders twisted impossibly perpendicular to each other.

Together we clung for dear life, dozing occasionally.