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

Tuesday, February 28, 2006


I wrote the biggest report in the world, today.

The clock had just strained its way on to 10:30am when I began clock-watching. Sheets and sheets of tedious evaluation and scrawley notes were piled up to me at the desk and all I could think of was how long it was until lunchtime. And how I hoped that it didn’t snow today because I had a drum lesson and I didn’t want to be snowed in and not able to get to it and, blimey, that’s a splinter in my finger… how on earth did it get there?

I stuck my bottom lip out and carried on typing inane, boring reporty-things.
Everyone in the office avoided me so that I wouldn’t moan at them.

I finally emailed the biggest-report-in-the-world off at 5:30 tonight and allowed my aching, curled-up body the luxury of straightening out of my foetal in-front-of-computer crouch and walking the full 20 yards before folding myself back up again in front of the steering wheel.

I drove for 15 minutes, sat back down again, this time at a drum kit, did some dazzling riffs, climbed back into my car and drove the final 45 minutes back home.

Imp keeps making fun of me because I’m about 3 inches shorter than her.
I’m not short, you understand, just not tall. I fit neatly under her arm.

It occurred to me that maybe I’m not short at all, maybe it’s because I’m always sitting down.
I’ll try standing up when I can gather myself together and I’ll report back.
I wonder if it’s windy up there?

Anyway, at least I’ve finished the biggest-report-in-the-world and I might be tall.

see ya, matey

Linda Smith, goddess of radio comedy, died yesterday.
Just buggered off and left this coil of mortalness.

Don't tell Imp, she'll start wondering what terrible diseases her body might be harbouring right now, and then you'll be sorry.
And every time anyone mentions any kind of disease I think I've got it. I've currently got armpit cancer and also eyeball cancer. Don't talk to me about childbirth.

Anyway. I'm gonna miss her, that Linda.

Since John Peel popped his clogs just over a year ago there’s been a bit of a gap in my life that pizza and beer just can’t seem to fill.
It looks like I’ll have to have pizza, beer and cheesy Wotsits, now.

Monday, February 27, 2006

race against tide

We struggle down the little stony path onto the beach.

It would have been perfect if it had been a blazing hot day in July; seagulls calling, sun scorching, insects creaking. This beach is hidden away down an almost vertical scramble and once you reach the rocks and round the jutting cliff-face you’re hit by the most spectacular view in South Wales.
In the distance flat smooth sand lies waiting but, first you must clamber across the incredible limestone pavement arranged in layers, stretching before you like some bizarre giant crazy-paving accident.

Anyway, it isn’t.
A hot day in July, I mean.

It’s a freezing cold blustery day in February and the sun is shy... nipping behind a heavy sky-sized black cloud, only peeping out when the suspense becomes too much.
The wind rockets full-force into my mouth and up my nose and I gasp for air. Below me, TinyDog looks like she’s being blow-dried by a Jumbo Jet as she leans forward into the weather, tail straining to stay up.

It really is very strange.
The BBC Tide Table said that we would have another 3 hours before the tide come in, but the sea really is alarmingly close to the cliff. LittleImpA and LittleImpB are getting nervous.

“It’ll be fine”, I say, confidently. It’s the BBC, for goodness sake. They practically invented the tide, sometime after they invented Michael Buerk, I think.

Imp hangs onto her fluffy hat and I laugh at her. “I thought you’d have lost it by now!” She can’t get enough air to answer and TinyDog and I bound along the weird rock formations looking for fossils while she clasps her hat and chokes.

The sea is grey and huge, the waves are angry monsters, foaming at the mouth and hurling themselves towards the beach.

I turn around and, bracing myself against the wind I squint back at the sticking-out cliff and the racing-in sea in a wise weather-person kind of way.
I've seen lots of weather in my 33 years, which I think makes me almost a professional weather-assessor. It's a certainty that the BBC would give me Michael Fish's job if they could see the way I squint wisely.

My stomach twists in sudden fear as particularly large wave engulfs the shore and munches a few feet of beach, wetly... then sucks its way back, taking the rocks with it.
I wonder if (perhaps) the kids might be right?

“Looks like we should turn around, guys,” I say, and the four of us leg it back over rocks, chased by a tiny white dog with the wind up her arse and a bark that gets whisked away before we can hear it.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Sunday Game

When I sleep, I snore.

Not just a girly little snore. This would give the percussion section at Last Night at the Proms a run for their money. Imp's ears are often bleeding by the morning and the bed has vibrated its way across the room.
I once inhaled the contents of my wardrobe and didn't realise until I coughed up a clothes hanger...

But enough about me.

This game is similar to lemmings.

You guide the surprisingly silent sleepwalkers (did you see what I did, there?) safely from the land of nod, avoiding nightmares and steep falls. You can control their direction by dropping piles of sand in front of them.
As you do.

The nice thing about this game is that you can continue where you left off next time you play.
Oh, and you can turn the sound off, which as we office-workers know, is a bonus.

If you manage to get past level 9, let me know. I'm stuck.


Saturday, February 25, 2006

Say again?

"Where do you live? "

"Oh, half way up Nanny Farmer's Bottom."

That's what you'd have to say if you lived er.. well, half way up Nanny Farmer's Bottom.

If you don't believe me, go the the Ordnance Survey website, click on 'I want to get a map now!', and insert the following grid refernce: ST766922 .

I have come across a few elbow-nudging place names while walking around Britain but I think this is one of the best.

Obviously I get the mickey taken when I reveal that I live in Pantsarownd-yrancles in Cardiff but that's a different matter.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

In Action


Real Live Photo of FT.

I lied when I said I would spend the day sitting on my arse perfecting the art of Doing Nothing.

What I actually meant was that I would pick the snowiest day of the year to plod up a mountain. In the snow.
Snow that is still falling. (Just in case you missed that.)


I collected my brother, IckleBro, from his digs and we headed merrily to the Brecon Beacons. We had heard recently that there were two freshly dead walkers up there somewhere, forever to be frozen motionless in various comedy walking poses, like Arctic Egyptians. I don't know who could have sent them up into the treacherous Beacons at this time of year. Disgusting.
Anyhow, we thought we might track them down and nick their expensive-looking Berghaus outer shells.

The weather got whiter the further up the A470 we got, but as hardy North Waleans we spit at mild South Wales mountain weather. Pah! Up north we would count this as a 'bit chilly' and rummage around for an extra t-shirt. We might think about putting a radiator on, once the snow reaches 3 foot.

Pen-y-Fan, the tallest mountain in the South, was hiding under several inches of the white stuff. Nonchalently we tracked it down and slithered our way upwards into the blizzard, stopping only for a snowball fight and er.... oh yeah, another snowball fight. Oh. And a snowman.

The top was windy, even for a northern lass. The wind screeched past on its horizontal course through my underwear and howled into the whiteout that surrounded us. Good job I wear Big Pants.
Rumours of other lifeforms were left a few hundred metres downhill and IckleBro and I took full advantage by taking it in turns to do the Can-You-Stand-Up challenge. (pictured)

We're professionals. No sweat.


It has to be said, my washing up still remains in the washing up bowl. I'm very, very naughty, I know.

Tomorrow I tackle that one.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

time please, gentlemen

I’m on holiday!

Well, I’ve taken some time off work. I think they qualify as the same thing.

It’s ironic. When I’m at work I clock-watch all day in the vain hope that the extra pressure from my eyeballs will somehow push the fingers around more quickly. I know that this works because if I don’t look they slow down and sometimes almost stop completely.
I once didn’t look at the clock all day and found out that that particular Tuesday had taken 4 ½ days. No wonder I needed a haircut when I got home.

Anyway, now that I’ve got all this time on my hands, I’m not quite sure what to do with it. I don't want to waste it by being busy. I could go unicycling but that would involve having to move both my arms and legs and that really shouldn’t be a requirement when one’s on holiday.
I did consider tidying up a bit (I don’t have time when I’m at work) but again, that shouldn’t be a holiday-type activity.

I've decided to devote my few days off to Doing Nothing. With my favourite beer. It's quite time-consuming and takes a certain amount of skill. It takes a special kind of person to do it well.

I watched The Life of Brian the other evening on my computer and that’s about the most movement this flat has seen from me for days. I had to get up to insert the DVD and then get up again when it had finished. Sometimes my torso moved if I laughed. And then I sang along at the end, of course. Scandalous.

So the thing is, you see, I keep looking at the clock to see if it’s any closer having to go back to work again. The clock still rules, from habit. I'm hoping that my constant checking will slow the hour hand down.
The good news is that Doing Nothing seems to take a long time.

Tomorrow I might do some washing up.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Super Mario Kill Bill

I get as squeemish as the next person but if every film had Super Mario sound effects I'd cope.
Not sure I'd be too happy if they did it to ER, though.

I've never seen Kill Bill, but I get the idea.

Turn your sound up and grin.

3 min 28 sec.

(ifilm play a quick advert at the beginning to pay for their filmy-goodness..)

Monday, February 20, 2006


"Yeah, go on, it'll be a great walk!", I said to the English couple sat at the table opposite.

It was breakfast time and I had decided to bestow upon them the benefits of my superior knowledge of the ins and outs of the South Wales mountains.

Pointing out the intricacies of this 9 1/2 mile trek around four of the main peaks in the range, they nodded, excited. Satisfied, I went back to my toast and marmalade.

Across the room from us (innocent, enthused) I listened to them as they planned and chatted.

Outside the wind raged and cloud gathered conspiratorially.
The temperature dropped into minus degrees and ice gathered on the peaks...

I smiled to myself.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Sunday Game

Turn your sound off before you attempt this one in the office.

This is one of Imp's favourite games... because she gets to shoot things.
I like to think that it keeps her dark side under control, but who knows when she'll turn up with a .22 rifle and pepper me with rounds? For the moment I sit her in front of Dukz when she gets that shifty look - and we've been okay so far.

This is a good old target game.. and you haven't got a dodgy bloke on a stall charging you £3.50 a go, with a rifle that doesn't shoot straight. Satisfying and quite funny.


Thursday, February 16, 2006

angels and demons

Bumpy, blistered and smelly, we squeezed into the tent.

The wind howled outside and the sides of the tent lifted violently. Outside the river raged and roared. We lay still, petrified we were going to be blown away or drowned… or worse, blown away and then drowned.

Naomi suggested we pray.
The rest of us froze… terrified. Trapped in a tent in the middle of bloody nowhere with someone who wanted to pray to angels.
Thus a major flaw in our research came to light. We hadn’t screened for Mormons.

Coincidently we somehow ‘simultaneously’ all fell asleep right that second. A miracle, indeed.

The morning arrived, brisk and blowy and lifting its skirts, flashing a bit of ankle. The sun blinked blearily as we scrambled across some scree and somewhere below, an old man walking his dog got nutted by a rolling rock.

Our trek was due to end some time soon, but not without first allowing me to plonk my face neatly into the carcass of a dead sheep.

It’s not something I’ve always wanted to do, let me make that clear. In fact if I had thought of it beforehand, it would be high up on the list of things that I would choose not to do. But I didn’t, so I hadn’t.

We slithered and slipped across a particularly slithery, slippy stretch of scree… and by now, under the weight of our waterlogged rucksacks and our leaden legs, we resembled a group of comedy rambling junkies. If there had been walls, we would have been bouncing off them.

Lurching forward as a cheeky bit of rock disappeared southbound from under my feet, I astonished, noticed a woolly corpse rushing upwards to cushion my fall.
I landed in perfect face-down-ness in its busily buzzing, rotting side.

Bronze bloody medal, my arse. I deserved a knighthood.

The Duke of Edinburgh wasn’t there to cheer us in as we arrived back, finally at our finishing point. I hold him personally responsible for my experiences and I still bear a grudge to this day.
If you see him, be sure to give him a sound beating for me.


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

the torture continued..

Trying very hard not to say ‘I told you so’ I stomped off in front, no longer caring if the other girls followed me or not.

Bollox to the lot of them.

Quiet, they followed.
We climbed back up the now-familiar slope and staggered wetter, miserabler and 5 hours later, back onto the mountainside.

Dusk threatened as we plodded gloomily through cloud and mist.
So much for D of E being character-building – I swore to myself that I would never do anything community-spirited again in my life. The Duke of Edinburgh himself could beg me on bended knees… those old ladies can find their own bloody way across the bloody roads.

HairyTim was understandably getting worried. His moustache wobbled a lot and he did some angry-looking pointing at his watch. I wondered if the RAF was on standby to begin a Search and Rescue operation... and just then, a helicopter rattled by, just beyond our line of sight.
We mumbled a few excuses and rushed off in search of our campsite.

It was a field. Next to a farm. Next to a river. Full off cow-shit. (The field, not the river.)

After much grappling and swearing at the tent, we eventually got it up.
It was one of those ridge tents that they had before they invented the terms ‘light-weight’ or 'waterproof'.
The poles resembled the girders used to support the Millennium Dome, and the fabric absorbed water as efficiently as a very dry, sun-baked sponge, with extra-big holes.
We squeezed what water we could from our sleeping bags and set about the business of making tea, shouting to each other above the roar of the river.
There’s nothing like food cooked outdoors, especially when you’ve just walked 28,384,00000000 miles in weather classed as ‘a bit naughty’ even in Alaska.
Tins of beans and pork sausages.
We waited with anticipation.

The midges didn’t, though.
Bastard bloody millions of midges, the size of small cats, each and every one of them.

No one had ever told us not to camp near a river. Now we found out why they would have, if they had bothered (except they hadn't).

After much screeching and bleeding and blood-curdling yelping we grabbed the corners of the tent and, hoiking it out of the ground we ran for our lives, like a strange pointy wobbly green beast to the other end of the field…

Still the rain.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

D of E

We tramped up the hill and in a few paces, left civilisation behind and entered the wood.
25 sweaty minutes later we emerged onto the exposed, rock-strewn mountainside and in a huddle, stared at the map.

We had 7 miles to go to reach the campsite.
Not far, unless you happen to be carrying the world’s heaviest tent between you (5 teenage girls) and about ¾ ton of tinned food.

Somewhere in the woodland about 5 miles away was our NCO, HairyTim, lurking in his RAF-issue greatcoat, walking boots and dubious moustache, looking like a slightly dodgy war criminal.
The plan was that we would successfully navigate our way across the open ground, check in with HairyTim and then complete the final leg to the campsite where we would camp out for the night before beginning the second day of aimless wandering. It was hoped that we would eventually find our way back to the starting point where we would be heralded heroes and immediately awarded our Duke of Edinburgh awards, along with probably a Victoria Cross or two.

This is an old tradition in Britland.
In some cultures they send their young out to fight wild animals before they become men. We, however, pack our young in massive ill-fitting cagoules and arm them with tinned peaches, telling them not to come back until they can recite the hierarchy of the police force and have helped at least 5 old ladies across the road, whether they wanted to go or not.
This, apparently, stops them from becoming hooligans (the young people, not the old ladies).

So. Miles from anywhere, wind howling, rain slicing, we gathered around our only map and squinted at where we thought the sun was. Our only compass swung drunkenly side to side and decided to have a nap.

An argument ensued in true teenage girl-style. I insisted that we should go in that direction because that’s where the map said we should go… everyone else sulked and sided with Elspeth, who was the most beautiful and therefore must be right.
Outnumbered I agreed to follow them and hauling my rucksack back onto my back, staggered along behind them, huffing moodily.

We climbed over fences and waded through bogs and eventually began our descent from the mountainside. A large expanse of forest loomed up ahead. There was no path to speak of so Elspeth pointed in the direction that she decided we should be heading and we pushed our way through the ferns and undergrowth, collecting scars and minor ankle injuries as we went.

I had one last attempt at arguing my cause and pointed urgently in the other direction like some kind of manic, mud-covered catalogue model, whinging as loudly as I could without collapsing into full-blown tantrum. Seeing their scorn, I gave up.

The forest was hard-going but at least it was downhill. By now we were soaked right through. Our faces were smeared with all sorts of crap and our trendy Eighties hairdos had long gone, to be replaced with slimy worm-like mush.
The rain cranked it up another notch. Misery ruled, socks squelched, blisters grew.

An hour later the trees thinned out and we emerged triumphantly…

….only to discover that we had spent 4 ½ hours walking in one huge, damp circle and as in all good black comedies we were 100 yards away from where we had begun.
No one laughed…

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Sunday Game

This is the updated version of James Bomb.

I've got to say, I think I prefer the original game... the graphics look more professional and the character, James, is much easier to control.

However the new game has got its advantages.
It's harder to control (!) and there are a whole load more monsters to get to grips with. It also has some new features... you can nip through exits into other gardens, plus occasionally you can teleport to another part of the screen.
Select the Union Flag at the beginning if you need to read the instructions (unless you are confident in French).


The controls are easy - arrow keys and space bar to drop bombs. I can't find any way of controlling the sound other than turning your speakers off. Keep that in mind if you decide to have a quick go at work :)

Click - James Bomb 2
Click - James Bomb 1

Friday, February 10, 2006


Now I'm not one to moan or whinge.

Well apart from when I'm having a good old moan or a whinge, but that's another story.
Today however, is a particularly difficult day for me.
I apologise in advance for my inability to stay away from the subject of bodily discharges, but that's because of my *background.

*You too would talk endlessly on this subject if you had been brought up living on the backseat of a Datsun with nothing more to keep you warm than a thin cotton shirt, two flatulant younger brothers, a pet goat (kept for purposes of milk and waste disposal) and an Etch-a-Sketch.
Fortunately I honed my design skills on the Etch-a-Sketch in the long, dark evenings deemed too parky to go out on the game; became a child prodigy, got a degree and now (as you know) live the heady life of fame, fortune and A-list celebrityness.
Don't talk to me about discharges.

Anyhow, I digress.

My period started this morning, five minutes before our fortnightly team meeting.
Boys, feel free to leave at this point.
Girls, you know how I feel.

Having dealt with the resulting fall-out, a colleague offered me some Nurofen.
After scrutinising the ingredients and checking that Shellac didn't come from crushed beetle-shells, I downed the drugs and soldiered on. It's a complicated life being a vegetarian and a victim.

It got me thinking. One week in four, I'm in a constant state of leakage. Not only that, but my bowels join in, presumeably to celebrate their neighbourliness.

That means that by the time I am 50 (projected age of freedom) I will have been bleeding for
3,192 days. That's a lot of pain and a hell of a lot of blood. About a skip-full, by my reckoning.

So far I'm up to 1,932 days and I still haven't had a letter from Bob Geldof.


Thursday, February 09, 2006


Eating lots of fruit seems to be the key to losing weight. Something to do with the fact that while my face is busy with a slice of melon, it can't be accidently falling into a bag of 'Cool Original' Doritos or a Star Bar.

I'm eating tons (of fruit) at the moment... all that water content means I'm visiting the bog every 15 minutes. Seriously - my bladder is on overtime, it's incredible.

It has other side-effects too, mind. Good job I haven't got a cough.

Let's not talk about that. It's not ladylike.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

breakfast meeting

I’m sitting in the kitchen of the local gangster, ScaryNigel.

Well, actually he’s local gangster turned do-gooder, with just a bit of armed robbery on the side now. A kind of ‘Nip down to the Spar after tea to rip off a few packets of fags and intimidate a granny’, type-gangster.

The rumours were that he was going down (which would have scuppered my meeting) but it’s fine, he’s not. Luckily it’s his son that’s about to be banged up instead.

Across the table from me is a local councillor.
I see through the curtain of fag-smoke that’s pouring out of his head, that he’s got an alarming hand-knitted, bright purple jumper on, stretched across his ample frontage.
Maybe it’s a tactic to distract his opponents.
One glance at that jumper and you’ve got after-image burned on your retinas for the next 10 minutes. Who knows what wily, political manoeuvre you could pull in the ten minutes that your enemies stand blinded?

ScaryNigel reclines in his flimsy kitchen chair, huge belly wobbling crazily in time to his jaw, complaining loudly about the lack of government grants to the area. In the background his wife flits around, half chewing a Benson & Hedges and making endless cups of coffee; somehow without choking, or dropping ash in the cups.

I wonder if I should get up and help, but I’m trapped in the corner, boxed in and partially dazed by the woolly jumper. I decide not to, in case I fall over in the haze, or talk posh or something.

Purple Councillor Man says something angry and unintelligible and ScaryNigel joins in being more angry and unintelligible.

Nodding wildly at all the complaining I mutter the odd sound in the roughest accent I can muster and try to look like I’ve got a black eye or a big knife scar or something.
Fortunately I’ve only got one and a half eyebrows, which I can see they are impressed with. I bet I look like I’ve just won a fight.

I set to work on my second mug of coffee, slightly worried that I’ve got to report back to my boss and I really haven’t got the faintest idea what I’ve agreed to.
I hope I haven’t just offered my services as a getaway driver.

I wipe my steaming eyes of smoke and consider it carefully, hoping they don’t expect me to use my car.

They might get fag-ash on the upholstery and then it'll smell nasty and it will force me to buy a dangley scented pine tree thingy and it will make me sneeze all the time and anyway, they're both so massive they might wreck my suspension.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Is it?... It is!

There's nothing brightens up my day more than a few naked ladies caked in paint. A fashion statement, apparently.
As an ex-art student I take this very seriously and of course, I would try it out myself if it weren't for the British weather. It's probably a bit chilly right now for this and the rain could be a bit of a pain.
Well, that's my excuse.

New York and its outrageous catwalks alway keep us interested. Well, kind of, sort of. I've never been interested before but believe me, my eyes are RIGHT up close now. (Don't tell Imp...)

Well there we go then. It's like women's naked mud-wrestling for posh people.

Hoorah for posh people.

Monday, February 06, 2006

No 1 and No 2

I've got about 5 zillion nephews and nieces as my sister is a very fertile young lady and her husband obviously eats his spinach.

This I feel, qualifies me as Incredibly Knowledgeable when it comes to things like potty training. I mean, I personally use a toilet daily so I can honestly say I'm no stranger to the bog. In fact, I consider myself quite an expert.

My incredible talent and self-control seems to have rubbed off and enabled my many n&ns to learn toilet-talent with almost no problems at all. This is amazing as I live more than two hundred miles away from them but it must be a family thing.

I'm sure their parents must be very grateful to me for being such a help.

There are still two mini-ns to be trained but I don't suppose they'll need help identifying a Number One or a Number Two. However if they do, it's fortunate that I stumbled across these little darlings just waiting to be bought.

So. If anyone wants to buy me one... er.. I mean the kids... then here's the link. Ta very much.
I thank you.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Sunday Game

This is the most addictive game in the world!

Click on groups of two or more matching blocks to remove them from the board.
Remaining blocks sink downwards and if an empty column is formed, they all shift to the left.
You can reach the next level if you have 4 or less blocks remaining.

It's that simple!


*For the Daddy of all challenges, try the original game on - you have to clear the board of all blocks in order to progress. I've never made it past level 7.

Friday, February 03, 2006


When I'm thinking really, really hard, I fiddle with my face.

It's such a habit that I do it without thinking... of the consequences.

Picking at any facial hair is a favourite. My eyelashes are usually the first target.
If I've had 'itchy eyelashes' then I know that there's a whole load waiting to drop out. A bit of essential eyelash maintenance and I can save them the bother. A good root around, a few minutes of pruning and I can often relieve my eyelids of around twenty eyelashes of weight each.

Normally I save eyelash pruning for my morning drive to work. Kills time, if nothing else.


Last night I was working on a report for work.
This involved lots of thinking.

About 3 pages into my report I vaguely noticed that I had just yanked a fair old clump of eyebrow hairs away from my face.
Ah well... if they were loose, they needed to come out. No room for dead wood.

Another page and a few more eyebrow hairs.

I dragged my attention from my report and focussed on the little bundle of hairs I had clenched between my finger* and thumb.

*(I haven't got just one finger.. I've got four fingers on that hand. I was only using the one finger at the time. Thought I'd better clear that one up).

Come to think of it, my left eyebrow was stinging a little bit too......

....... in blind panic I sprinted to the bathroom to examine the damage.....
Hopefully my brow would look a tiny bit thinner but not noticeably abused.

Thinner, my arse.
A huge, finger-width bald bit sat staring back at me in a shiny, white, bald, shiny white way.

Bald as in NO HAIR.
Not thin hair, NO hair.
Bang in the middle of my left eyebrow, a humongous bit of smooth skin, covered by loads and loads of NO HAIR.

I stared at it for a while. I tried squinting at it.
If you looked at it through half-closed eyes, you could hardly see it at all.

I'm sure no one will notice..

Thursday, February 02, 2006

killing time

Something terrible has happened.

The road to work has collapsed.

What’s worse is that it’s only collapsed on one side… the going-home side. This means that my passage to the office remains unaffected, while my passage home has become a queuing, rerouted nightmare.

butt hole

Not quite, but almost.

It turns out that the town is riddled with underground culverts, tunnels and old mines. Every few years something collapses without trace, which makes living in the valleys a lottery.
California? Earthquakes? Pah! That’s nothing. We’ve got Monster Holes. Remember Dune? Giant worms leaping out of the ground and killing everything in sight? Yeah, happens all the time here.
Sleep in your beds at night? Yeah, if your house isn’t swallowed up by the fuming, angry earth.

So a hole 14 metres deep (yep, FOURTEEN METRES) appeared in the going-home side of the road and understandably, after much chin-rubbing and standing around of tubby, balding men in high-vis jackets, the going-home side of the road was closed.

hole in road

Oh, I wish... I wish!

For about 5 minutes I was delighted, until I realised that all the hold-ups are in the wrong direction for me. I can’t lie in until 11 and then stroll in at midday saying, “I left Cardiff at 6 o’clock this morning, but unfortunately there’s a fourteen metre hole in the road which meant that it was impossible to get to work on time, sorry. I tried, I really did….”

I’m more likely to be sitting in an extra hours-worth of traffic at the end of the day.
I’ve spent the last couple of days trying to think of reasons why this means I should leave work at lunchtime, but haven’t managed it yet.

A memo appeared at work today saying that it would take 6 weeks to repair, if it doesn’t rain too heavily.
Rain? In Wales?
It’ll rain, believe me.

That will mean that I spend an extra hour a day sitting in traffic for the next two months. On top of the hour I already do, going home. That’s 40 extra hours.
I could knit about twelve cardigans in that time. (If I could knit). I could read Ulysses, learn to speak Spanish.

Suggestions will be greeted with suspicion and, if you’re lucky, a half-hearted pissed-off-looking smile…

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

better out than in

I squeeze through the crowd of people at the door, hoping that it will be obvious where to go next.

I’ve never been here before, but it’s about time. This is the Community Education Centre in the next valley along from where I work. I know all the staff by voice but not by sight. As I have the most rubbish memory on the planet, this will not necessarily change much by meeting them.

Closely behind my memory is my concentration span.
Usually when I am introduced to someone, within around a 12th of a second my mind has wandered and I’ll be thinking about how complicated hats are, or rates of precipitation in forests or something equally unconnected.

I think about many interesting things, as it happens, but rarely what I’m supposed to be thinking about at the time.

This is a huge disadvantage in my attempts to come across as ‘on the ball’ in my job. Luckily my boss doesn’t seem to mind much.

The group turns out to be a class of adults with Special Needs and they enthusiastically shake my hand and ask me how old I am.
After delivering a quick summary of my life, a very tall man with no teeth and a lumpy nose decides he approves of me and directs me up the stairs.
Grinning at him I nip up to the next floor and hesitate, not knowing where to go next. I can see that one of the rooms is a kitchen and I guess that my meeting won’t be in there.
No flies on me.

Eventually I find a classroom buried under a lorry-load of files and general classroom crap…. somewhere under the debris I can hear a one-sided conversation.
With lightening-speed deduction I realise that either she’s on the phone, or she’s lost all her marbles since our telephone conversation yesterday and I should call a doctor or undertaker or someone.

Politely waiting outside the room I deliberate…

I can see that there are all sorts of lessons going on around me and fascinated, I watch.
All the students have Special Needs and all are looking intensely happy or conversely, intensely pissed off. This is normal for me, too, and I immediately feel right at home.

There’s a bloke, sitting at a table on his own and I wonder if he’s supposed to be somewhere. He’s probably in his 40’s and looks a little bit like Inspector Frost, anorak and all.
Just at that moment, he leans back and lets out the most enormous belch you ever heard.

Even 20 feet away I end up with an extra parting.

I burst out laughing.
‘Wow, that’s a corker!’ I say admiringly, and he looks at me curiously. Obviously pleased to have an audience he again lets out an ear-splitting burp that resounds grandly around the room.
Delighted, I regale him with cheers and applause and we immediately become soul-mates.

Belching again; furniture shaking, windows rattling, he gets up and shuffles off in the direction of his next class.

Chuckling to myself I pick up my bag and go to my grown-up burp-free meeting.