Thursday, September 30, 2004

The noticeboard has mysteriously reappeared!!!

It’s been given a nice new coat of paint. But if the fixers and spin doctors on the parish council think that that’s going to fool me then they are very na├»ve, oh yes.

Later on I will be checking it for drawing pin holes where there previously were none. We citizens cannot afford to let these things go. One minute everything is fine, the next minute the so-called powers-that-be have held a secret debate and the ordinary people’s bus shelter has been changed into a foundation bus shelter.

Unfortunately, I won’t be here to stand guard over our democratic rights for a few days – I’m off to Prague tomorrow for a romantic few days and the LTLP will get very cross if I spend it in Internet cafes. She will not understand that checking site stats is the best foreplay there is.

Until then – well, I guess you could read some old posts (not THAT old – they’re not very good). And it’s always very worth visiting The Mighty Crumb or Oeillade for the ‘Friday Fuckwit’ and ‘Friday Music Thing’ respectively.

Or you could click here and find a random British blog from the Blogging Brits webring. It’s better than Blogger’s ‘next blog’ link because there’s like – quality control.

Perhaps I am fooling myself that your lives will be empty without me.

Enjoy your weekends.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

I go to the village shop.

At the counter is a young lad of around (I’d guess) eleven or twelve, still in his school uniform.

“What can I get you?” asks the village shop lady.

“Some cheese, please,” is the reply. “A big bit.” He holds out his pocket money.

The village shop lady ascertains the quantity of cheese required, and cuts it for him. “Is this for you?” she asks. It is for him – a big wodge of cheddar. Posh cheddar. Keene’s, if you must know.

“That’ll be £3.11,” says the village shop lady. “Are you sure you have enough money?”

The lad does have enough money, and disappears off, happily, clutching his cheese. We watch him depart.

“You shouldn’t have sold him that,” I warn.

“What do you mean?”

“Under sixteen. Buying cheese. He might be going to sniff it.”

The village shop lady looks at me in bewilderment.

“Sniff it. Kids do that these days. Like glue.”

She goes slightly red. “You’re joking,” she says, with an enormous doubt in her voice that only the incomprehension between different generations can provide.

“That’s why you’re not allowed to sell it to under sixteens. Haven’t you seen them at the bus shelter in the evenings, hanging around with their cheese?”

“I don’t believe it,” she breathes, with a shake of her head. “I don’t believe it.”

“I’d just be a bit careful, that’s all,” I warn her kindly. I pay for my groceries and leave.

True story.

I must get a life.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

It was the wisps of smoke edging out from around the loft hatch that convinced me. The inauguration of the restored fireplace was clearly not going to be a one hundred percent success.

It wasn’t that cold, but we were both a bit sniffly. So I threw caution to the wind and set a match to the mound of paper, sticks and logs in the grate.

Fortunately, I then wandered upstairs to change my socks, noticed the unusual smokiness of the upstairs rooms and was able to leap into action, by grabbing a torch, looking up into the loft and saying ‘fuck’ a lot.

Heroically climbing up into the roof* wearing my specially adapted breathing apparatus (the neck of my t-shirt pulled up over my nose), I searched for the source of the smoke. It was coming from the chimney breast, which to be honest I could really have worked out in my head without needing to turn myself into the human smoked mackerel. My torch beam caught it as it billowed around the gable wall.

I said ‘fuck’ a few more times, to see if it had any effect.

The whole house now smells of smoke. The curtains smell of smoke. My clothes smell of smoke. The bedlinen smells of smoke.

I have called the Cheerful Builder.


(*In the interests of safety I should point out to readers that this was clearly wood smoke leaking from the chimney, NOT a house fire. In the event of a real fire you should leave the house immediately, unless you have really really valuable stuff that you need to rescue, or you need to put some pants on).

Monday, September 27, 2004

The LTLP has turned blue!!!

Saturday early evening. Preparing for the big party in the neighbouring village. Teeth-cleaning for him, a pre-party relaxing bath for her.

A Body Shop Bath Bomb Thing (Blue).

They are the ones that are supposed to fizz and effervesce as they dissolve, giving one a unique bathtime experience. And unique it certainly was. Due to some manufacturing defect, the interior of the Bath Bomb Thing seemed to consist of pure bright blue dye, which globuled and coagulated and made an instant bid to cling on to any bit of LTLP that it could.

She stood up slowly. Her arms, legs and body were mottled with patches and lines of vivid blue, which a quick rub only served to smear into the skin.

“I think you’d better have a shower,” I offered, sympathetically.

“I think you’re right,” replied Smurfette.

I make a mental note to put Anita Roddick on my list of death. Although we both saw the funny side (me almost instantly, as I have an advanced sense of humour), the fact is that we were off to a party and it wasn’t convenient for the LTLP to be blue.

I did this with great regret, as Ms Roddick set up the Body Shop not just to make shedloads of money but as a charitable foundation, helping people everywhere to obtain unimaginative birthday presents for women in their life that they don’t really know.

The LTLP scrubbed up OK. But there are still bright blue tide marks up the sides of the bath.

I contact Ms Roddick today.

Friday, September 24, 2004

The noticeboard has disappeared!!!

Opposite my house is a noticeboard, used to notify people of important village events. We have our own one at this end of the village, as we are important. But now it’s gone.

I stared at the space that had formerly been occupied by the noticeboard. It had definitely gone. There were two upright poles that it used to stand on, but now there was a large noticeboard-shaped rectangular gap between them.

I gazed, perplexed. I looked from several different angles, then squinted, then glanced away but very quickly looked back to try to catch it out. But it seemed like my first natural reaction - that this was yet another cheap publicity stunt by American magician David Blaine – was wrong.

I brooded on this as I walked back up the drive. If the noticeboard had genuinely disappeared then there would seem to be one explanation – that there is something going on in the village that they don’t want me to know about.

This turn of events is alarming. It is the sort of thing that happens in Putin’s Russia. And during the war they took down all the village noticeboards just in case the Germans invaded and were able to plan their moves around the country quickly using local bus services.

Co-incidentally, I’d been back for around half an hour when the village newsletter arrived. I scanned it thoroughly for clues. Nothing. But then I realised that they could have got a special one printed that didn’t include details of the mysterious forthcoming I-am-not-invited-to event, so I was back to square one.

Honestly. It is no fun living in this strange Kafkaesque nightmare.

I am determined to find out more over the weekend, and will let you know what happens.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Back tomorrow...

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

My London friends have arrived!!!

Salvadore and Unluckyman have come to stay for a couple of days.

This gave me a problem. I have only one spare bed, so had to make a tricky decision as to who had to sleep on the floor.

If they had been girls then they would have no problem – they’d be happy to sleep together, sharing the same double bed. This is because girls are much less insecure about their sexuality than men are, plus they are a lot softer to the touch so it is beautiful.

As it is, I was a bit stumped. I could not choose between the two reasonable options:

- I sleep in the big bed, Unluckyman has the spare bed, Sal sleeps on the floor, or

- I sleep in the big bed, Sal has the spare bed, Unluckyman sleeps on the floor.

After all, I did not want to be unfair, or a bad host.

I had a brainwave, and emailed the Wise Woman.

“Simple,” she said, brightly. (Except by email, but it read like it was said quite brightly). “You show them the spare bed, and say that it’s theirs to share for the night. Unless, you say, as an aside, one of them doesn’t mind sleeping on the floor?”

I was knocked down in the rush for volunteers to sleep on the floor.

I’m glad it was all sorted out fairly.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Kids say the funniest things.

Like: “Help! Help! Let me out of the cupboard!”

My brief daydream respite is shattered by Pootles and Tootles. “Jonny! Jonny! Read us another story!”

I sigh in defeat as LTLP and Friend snigger on the sofa. Again, there is no way out. Deep breath, storytelling voice.

“Call me Ishmael...” I begin.

There are frowns, and a book is thrust at me. Clearly I am not allowed a story of my choosing. And yes – here it is again – would you believe it - Mr. Fucking Cocksucking Nonsense.

(Note to Roger Hargreaves’s lawyers – I added the swear words above for effect, it is not an actual book that has been produced without Mr Hargreaves’s knowledge. Although if he is interested in following up the idea I would be happy to discuss licensing it).

“Fifteen minutes.” I say firmly, drawing from an undreamt-of well of resolve. “I’ll read you a story in fifteen minutes.”

I grab my mug of tea and scarper off upstairs to snatch some quiet contemplation.

Ten minutes later, and they crash through the door of my private retreat.

“Jesus Christ!” I exclaim. “I don’t think...”

“Jonny! Jonny! Whatya doing?”

“Girls, I really think...”

They start playing with the hand towels.

“Are you doing a wee wee or a poo?” enquires Tootles.

“A poo,” I reply, desperate to end this interaction there and then. “Now...”

“Do you want to meet Mr. Monkey?”

Despair and desolation settle over me, as I slump helplessly on the seat, my pants round my ankles, waiting for Social Services to burst in and put an end to this nightmare for good. Mr. Monkey turns out to be a moth-eaten glove puppet.

“Mr. Monkey’ll give you the toilet paper,” she announced, as the thing wrestled, emu-like, with the bogroll.

Miserably, I accepted three sheets of toilet paper from Mr. Monkey. I’m sure I have been in less dignified situations. I can’t remember when.

Monday, September 20, 2004

To a town in the North, to stay with the LTLP’s ‘best-but-only-see-her-every-three-years’ friend.

I have my appendage’s hat firmly on, and have rehearsed my smalltalk. We park the car (I make sure to lock it as we are in the north) and go in.

Within about three nanoseconds, my role in the weekend becomes apparent. Friend has two little girls, aged about four, and I am clearly expected to keep them entertained whilst LTLP and Friend do adult conversation.

I gaze in horror as Pootles and Tootles sprint towards me to investigate. They’re still at that age when having a visitor (even a celebrity visitor like me) is a source of excitement and wonder rather than something that needlessly and rudely interrupts the Saturday newspapers.

I am very scared of kids. I am scared of their energy, and of the fact that they climb on you, and of the fact that they ask so many questions and won’t be fobbed off. Honestly. If they’d sacked the old fool and put two four-year-olds in charge of the Hutton Enquiry then Mr Campbell really wouldn’t have got off so lightly.

Being with four-year olds is like being sober when everybody else is drunk.

“Why don’t you ask Jonny to read you a story?” enquires the LTLP, sweetly.

I shoot her a WMD glance.

“Yayyy!!! Story!!! Read us a story!!!”

I am not entirely sure about the proffered book. I glance through it, frowning. “Are you sure you want me to read them this one?” I ask Friend. “The central character seems to have an entirely irresponsible attitude to life, and appears to exist solely on benefits.”

The children were insistent.

I read them ‘Mr Nonsense’.

I glanced at my watch.

Thirty minutes down. Only around twenty-two hours to go.

Friday, September 17, 2004

I realise that two posts a day probably goes against some form of blog rule, but this is not Jonny. This is the LTLP. Jonny may not be able to post anything tomorrow, or the day after. Apparently it can be difficult from UNDER THE PATIO.

Marriage is great. For starters, you know someone so well that you can guess their ridiculously easy passwords and post something on their blog.

The sherade is over Jonny. I know about the cleaner (for new readers see the past few days posts).

Of course in retrospect, like all deceptions, there were the tell tale signs. Like the fact that things had been cleaned properly, and in a reasonable time scale rather than the 12 hours it takes Jonny to vacumn one room.

The other thing about being married is that you try to take an interest in your other halfs life. That was of course my down fall. You see, normally I don't have time to catch up on Jonny's blogging activity. What with me having a NORMAL JOB and all that. In case this doesn't apply to you or you can't remember what one's like, this usually equates to working 12 hours a day, half of which can't be spent fucking about with virtual friends on the internet. But today I thought I would throw caution to the wind and log on.

I am considering my options for revenge. Apparently it can be very sweet.

The LTLP

A welcome to the sudden influx of police enthusiasts from here.

I was in London for the big demonstration on Wednesday, but unfortunately got my dates completely mixed up and got laughed out of Parliament Square dressed in my Batman costume.

No. That was a joke. I was there for business reasons. Honest.

I saw on Newsround that some protesters were having a go at so-called ‘Police Brutality’. Whilst I live in a rural area, I have to say that this is just typical of the way some countryside dwellers are completely out of touch with the needs and traditions of the Metropolitan Police.

The Metropolitan Police have been hitting people on the heads with truncheons for hundreds of years. It is not just a sport – it is a whole way of life.

In fact, it has been shown that the only really efficient way of keeping the number of protesters down is by hitting them on the head with truncheons. Other ways – laying traps, shooting them etc – are far crueler and lead to unnecessary suffering..

We saw on the news protesters cheerfully being interviewed with blood pouring down their faces. Proof, indeed, that the experience is not particularly traumatic – indeed, there is no evidence at all that protesters feel any pain or fear when being hit on the head with a truncheon.

By stopping the police hitting protesters on the head with truncheons, the ‘do-gooders’ will be condemning a whole economy to ruin. Thousands of people depend on this activity for their livelihood – bandage-makers, paramedics – lawyers, etc.

What’s more, if hitting people on the head with truncheons was banned, the police would immediately have to shoot all their police dogs. They wouldn’t enjoy doing that, but it would make a point so that would be all right.

This politically-correct nonsense must stop. I, for one, will be arranging some sort of Rik Mayall-like student direct action protest in order to change the world.

Memo – must think of something to actually DO once I break into the chamber, and perhaps bring along some people who the average man in the street might have some sympathy with.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

continued from yesterday

A short precis for new readers: An act of subterfuge has led me to employ a cleaner whilst pretending I’m not employing a cleaner. As most people know, this is a dead-cert way to get a shag. However, I’ve locked myself out and all normal means of entry would involve exposure and ignominy and not getting a shag.

And here’s where I get my first stroke of luck.

The bathroom window is slightly ajar. I have forgotten my keys, but have left a downstairs window open. It is just as they say. If you lead a truthful, blameless life then the Gods will smile upon you.

“I can get through the window!!!”

She shoots me a withering glance.

“Stop messing about. Just come next door to Short Tony’s with me.”

By this time I am examining the window. Apart from a few tomato plants it is accessible enough. It is quite tall, and about the width of an amorous and slightly overweight blogger, but high enough off the ground to allow reasonable ‘head first’ access.

“It’s late and their kids will be in bed. Nothing for it. I’m going to try the window.”

“It’s only just gone... for fuck’s sake!”

I have wriggled through the window. At least – I have half wriggled through the window. My front half is there, my back half definitely is not. I do not know it, but my belt is caught on the window fastening.

Some sort of poky thing is pressing into my stomach, making it difficult to breathe properly. Beneath me is the bath, still slightly damp from earlier, and a large fake olde-worlde painful-looking-to-land-on tap/shower combo.

My legs thrash about helplessly.

“What the FUCK are you doing?” I hear.

I feel my ankles being grabbed, and then something is tugging at my shoes. This pulls me back and forth across the fastening, painfully. I cry out, and knock over some shampoo.

“If you’re going to fuck around doing that then you can at least take your shoes off,” comes the explanation. I feel them wrenched off my feet and then – crash! – I am face down in the bath.

A face appears at the window.

“You really are a cretin,” she says.

“Now unlock the door. I’ve got a long day tomorrow.”

No shag.

*

That was last Thursday. Since then, the secret cleaner has remained secret.

JONNY’S FINAL THOUGHT

You know – maybe it’s time to reflect on the nature of white lies and how they get out of hand.

Sometimes you tell a little tiny jokey sort of lie of no consequence at all. (Random example: ‘it was me who cleaned the kitchen, not a professional cleaner’.) And you think that you’ll be found out straight away, or own up later on, and you’ll both laugh yourself silly about it.

And that doesn’t happen for whatever reason, and you idly wonder for how long you can keep it going. And then you absent-mindedly tell a few more lies to support your story, and other people find out, and you laugh about it with virtual internet people who do not exist in the real world. And suddenly, it’s perhaps more of a bigger deception than you initially planned.

But there’s one thing that can’t be avoided – sooner or later you have to come out with the truth. It might be difficult. It might be unpleasant. But if you truly love one another, then there’s no other option to take.

Jonny will return on Friday.

Until then... take care of yourselves – and each other.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Continued from yesterday

Thursday evening.

I have supposedly spent ages cleaning the house, taken the LTLP out for a nice meal and melted her with my new man-ness.

Picture us. Back at the cottage, locking the car, the first nip of a new autumn as we crunch up the gravel drive in the crisp darkness.

And the sudden realisation that I don’t have my front door keys.

Several pats of the pockets later and they are still most definitely not there.

“What’s the problem?” offers the LTLP. “I’ll just grab the spare set.”

We keep a spare set in a secret place. (Not the place that you are thinking of, Mr. Burglar.blogspot.com). But there is a problem. A big problem. The problem being that I have given the spare set to the cleaner that does not exist.

“They’re not there,” I blurt.

“What do you mean they’re not there?!?”

“They’re not... there.” And then – stroke of genius – “I think a bird took them.”

She looks at me as if I’d just started hurling cheese at the upstairs windows.

“Don’t be so stupid. I’m going to look for the spare keys.”

“They’re really, definitely not there!” I plead, truthfully. “I looked earlier, when it was light.”

Honestly. I know she’s desperate to get me into bed, but if she would just keep still for a moment and trust me.

“It happened before – remember? Because they’re shiny. A bird took them.”

Much as you may scoff, my story wasn’t that implausible. They had been moved before, to a nearby ‘nest in progress’.

She pauses, then drops a bombshell.

“We’ll go next door to Short Tony’s,” reasons the LTLP. Short Tony also has a spare key. Their lights are on, they are at home. No problem.

But there is a problem. A big problem. Again.

Because the Short Tonies know very well why the spare keys aren’t there. But I haven’t had time to prime them about my small and innocent act of subterfuge. They will immediately give the game away.

She heads off purposefully towards the gap in the fence.

I am but moments away from discovery.

Concluded tomorrow

Monday, September 13, 2004

Continued from last week

To recap, for readers who haven’t read Friday’s post, or who had a particularly heavy weekend, I have secretly employed a cleaner in order to appear that I am a ‘new man’. I will then get more sex from the LTLP.

Thursday morning.

My illicit secret cleaner arrived!!!

Mrs. Cleaner had only half her usual time, and we spent a lot of that on administrative matters, but she managed to do a sterling job on the kitchen. It’s white.

I squirreled her away, and even managed to get in a round of pitch and putt with Short Tony before the LTLP arrived home. I bathed, making sure to carefully wash my sex areas.

“Gosh! You’ve cleaned the kitchen!” she exclaimed.

I nodded modestly, mixing her a strong drink.

“And the cooker as well,” she observed.

“You’re home so early today,” I said. “Why don’t we go out to eat tonight? I’ll drive, so you can have another drink.”

Continued tomorrow

Friday, September 10, 2004

The week just gone, the cleaner and the window.

“Let me repeat that. If you have not telephoned the cleaner before I get back then I am not speaking to you. Get it?”

I quailed on the end of the line. If holding the receiver six inches away from your ear wasn’t something that just worked in cartoons then I would have done it.

I pondered the LTLP’s words. There was definitely some ambiguity there. I thought I ought to check with her on her return before telephoning the cleaner.

As I have intimated before, we differ on the precise definition of the phrase ‘a clean house’. But shouldn’t we be celebrating our different points of view? She says ‘tomato’, I say ‘tomayto’. She says ‘potarto’, I say ‘turning green and going manky at the back of the larder... and who's ever called it a “potarto” anyway?’ She then says ‘stop changing the subject, get a cleaner’, and I have to think through a strategy.

The thing is, I really didn’t want to get a cleaner. Three reasons:

a) I work at home, the cottage is small. I won’t be able to concentrate whilst a cleaner's pottering around, and I’ll have to make smalltalk and stuff about disinfectant.

b) It’s a small village, and I do not want intimate details about my pants discussed in whispers at the school gates. Or anything else she might hypothetically find in my bedroom.

c) I am very tight. It would seem bad economics to employ a cleaner when for free we could continue with a homely and comforting layer of dust. I would be happy to squirt Toilet Duck once in a while. (Or its supermarket own-brand equivalent, which is much cheaper and probably made by the same people and out of the same breeds of duck).

But were these reasons sufficient to win this particular argument?

I was doubtful. My reasons rarely are.

And it was at this point that I came up with an extremely, almighty, exceedingly, ALARMINGLY cunning plan.

I would tell the LTLP that I had turned over a new leaf, seen the error of my ways etc., and would now make a regular point of cleaning the house myself until it was as spotless as spotless can be.

But I would secretly engage a cleaner forthwith, having junked my objections (see a, b and c above).

There were three really good bits about my EAEA-cunning plan.

i) I wasn’t going to win the argument anyway.
ii) But she would think that I had backed down, and that my objections (see a, b and c above) were silly and frivolous, where as really I would come out on top and the joke would be on her.
iii) She would be really really impressed by my cleaning endeavours and general New Leaf, and I would get lots of shags.

Continued on Monday.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

I forgot to mention one thing about the van.

I REVERSED IT INTO MY DRIVE. First time. No messing.

Using my wing mirrors and everything.

It was exceptionally disappointing to find that nobody was watching. I was going to rush inside to get everybody, then pull out into the road and repeat the procedure. But I thought this might be pushing it a bit, and summoning everybody just to watch me knock over the gatepost would make me look foolish.

As every bloke knows, doing a good bit of parking is the best feeling in the world. Better even than when you’re in a pub, you ask the barman for a half and he gives you three-quarters in your pint glass.

Look. Get this. Let me go off at a tangent.

I used to go up to Edinburgh every year. For the festival. The showcase for the world's best live acts. I’ve seen, at close hand, the cream, the pinnacle, the absolute DBs of human entertainment endeavour.

Sean Cullen. Daniel Kitson.

The glory days of Lee and Herring, then Stewart Lee’s intense solo ‘sex with a pig’ period, and Richard Herring’s superb ‘Christ on a Bike’.

The League of Gentlemen's first stage shows. Their families were in the audience to see what the kids had been up to. Dave Gorman’s routines were totally new, fresh and original.

Johnny Vegas (alternately heroic and terrible) and Emo Philips (desperately, heart-breakingly disappointing). The was-quite-good-in-its-original-format Garth Marenghi.

Take my word for it. I know good entertainment when I see it. I’m not easily impressed. (Even by all those comedy names I've just sadly dropped and who I'm in thrall to like some stupid teenage girl). (Although I would not sleep with them after the shows, even if I was quite drunk and they begged me really really hard).

In all those years, let me tell you what the best thing I ever saw was. The event that sticks in my memory and I still look back on with awe.

We were standing, queuing for a show. And a bloke drove up, spotted an incredibly tight parking place on the other side of the road, and in one movement swerved across, hit reverse and backed in at a rate of knots.

It was the most perfect bit of parallel parking I’d ever seen. It was so perfect that – get this – people in the street broke into a spontaneous round of applause.

That’s how good it was.

So forget your synchronised diving shit. Forget, even, your four by one hundred metres.

Parking is where it’s at. It’s the future.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

For various reasons, mainly to do with an impractical loft hole, a lot of my ‘stuff’ had been in storage for a year.

I’d bought a new hole and the Cheerful Builder had fitted it for me. It was a really good hole, with an integral foldy ladder and a patent pole device to open and shut the cover.

Thus it was that I found myself hurtling down the cramped roads to Norwich in a rented Luton van.

I love driving vans. I could quite happily be a delivery driver, zipping from town to town in my big delivery van. (Obviously I would employ someone else to do the heavy carrying bits, or only deliver very light stuff, although I’d need to investigate whether the latter is a sustainable business plan).

You sit really high up and have a great view of the road, apart from behind you, which, let’s face it, is somebody else’s problem anyway. Honestly, you feel like a king. I can see why lorry drivers are constantly getting shagged by randy female hitchhikers.

Driving a van really nails the great 4x4 weasel lie. You know – posh mum explaining that she needs a huge great fuck-off BMW shed-on-wheels for the school run because quote it makes me and my family feel really safe unquote. Well, love, if you really want to feel safe, trade it in for a ten year old bashed up Transit Luton with the words ‘Self Drive’ in big letters all over it, and people certainly get out of your way pronto then.

I pondered this as I hurtled down the single track road at 45 mph. Vans are really safe, as 45mph actually feels like Mach 3 when you’re in the cab, although to be fair the brakes seem to have been nicked off my old Raleigh Grifter.

And what’s more, when I got there I got to play on the taillift.

Monday, September 06, 2004

The cheese knife went missing!!!

It was not in the drawer where the cheese knife lives. I checked twice. Clearly, somebody had misfiled it.

It is the most annoying thing in the world. Somebody else uses your kitchen and puts things away in the wrong place. Like – I have a particular system for filing the coffee mugs (all to do with their relative shapes and the fact that you can stack some on top of others, but not vice versa). But so many times when we have had visitors and they have ‘helped’, chaos has ensued. The coffee mug shelf has been full, but there have still been mugs left over. All to do with INEFFICIENT STACKING.

Anyway. They were due to arrive in an hour. How the hell were my guests supposed to cut their cheese???

I had a particularly tasty platter lined up, as well. Montgomery’s Cheddar – one of the best. Beaufort – stunningly nutty and strong. Shropshire Blue, Old Amsterdam and some unpasteurised Brie that even the Cess Pit Emptying Man would have treated with a certain professional caution.

All wasted, however, in the absence of the cheese knife. I have gone to all this trouble and they will think I am some sort of uncultured peasant. Honestly. I may as well dress up in Burberry and change my name to Darren.

I looked all round the kitchen then back in the cheese knife drawer. It had magically reappeared, even though it was definitely not there when I looked before. Clearly, something inexplicable was going on.

I removed Schrodinger’s Cheese Knife with wonder. It seemed normal enough, so I placed it lovingly on the platter.

My cheese board was complete.

I started to rehearse my polite conversation.
Hullo regular readers.

I'm also writing some odd things over on Bridget Who this week.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Friends are coming to stay at the weekend. From London.

I have been left a list of instructions, the main one being that by the end of the day the cottage must be spotless. Thus, I have been getting in touch with my feminine side by doing some dusting.

What is this dust thing all about? Where does it come from? What purpose does it serve? It’s extremely irritating, and also causes arguments – mainly over the level of dust that needs to be reached before the house needs a full clean.

Her: “There is a speck of dust on here. Clean the whole house immediately.”
Me: “I can write the word ‘bum’ in the dust with my finger. I’ll make some time to run the hoover round at the end of the month.’

I protest that dusting too much is bad for the furniture. Sooner or later my dusting will wear it down to nothing. But this falls on deaf ears.

So I whizz round with the Mr Sheen. I am getting quite proficient at this now, gliding from surface to surface.

Dust! Dust! Dust!

Honestly, I am like Edward Dusterhands.

Like in a car wash, there are various levels of service you can order. I do the equivalent of gold programme extra shine wax long life protection foam polish, and move the ornaments instead of dusting round them. If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth... etc. (every other time).

The place is now shining and spotless. No hospital superbug here!!!

They arrive this evening. And better bloody comment on the state of the house.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

An open letter to Mr Brian Richards, Director of Customer Development, Norwich Union, and hopefully a man who Googles himself.

Dear Mr Richards,

Thank you for your recent ‘quote me happy’ communication regarding car insurance.

I’m not that bothered by junk mail. I register with the various bodies to keep my name off marketing lists, but I accept the fact that UK legislation is so piss-poor that you are allowed to send me anything you wish just because five years ago I met someone at a party whose brother knew a man who once cleaned the windows of a house insured by you.

Besides, I live in a rural area, and junk mail keeps the Post Lady in a job.

I’m merely bemused at the tone of it. I just cannot comprehend what sort of idiot you think I am.

Brian, can I go through your letter piece by piece?

Firstly, printing the words ‘Norwich Union Direct Motor Insurance’ over and over again in very faint watermark-style wavy lines does not make your letter into an important certificate.

And likewise, the urgent ‘Please Keep This Document Safe’ line at the top does seem unnecessary. It’s not a document. It’s a piece of junk mail. I will throw it away. So nya nya to you.

‘I have been specially selected’ is flattering, but perhaps exaggerates somewhat my specialness. I would imagine you have sent this to thousands of people. If you haven’t, and it’s just for me, then I am going to change the locks and take out an injunction.

Your offer of a free mini radio is tempting. Perhaps printing ‘Free Gift of a Mini Radio – APPROVED’ as if it had been rubber-stamped in red ink over the margin was over-egging, somewhat. I refuse to believe there is a man in your office with a rubber stamp whose sole job is to check each recipient to see if they are worthy of a crappy mini radio. That would be unusual business practise, even in Norwich.

Likewise, ‘Please note that this offer is not transferable’ in big capital letters is impressive, but I don’t tend to swap car insurance free radio offers with my friends. They have a life. I’m not even going to mention the terribly important ‘NOTE TO UNDERWRITERS – ALLOW MAXIMUM DISCOUNT’ flash. Do your underwriters go through my recycling or something? I’ve told you before (see above) – stop stalking me.

And finally, the urgent reminder to take out a policy before the offer close date would be helpful, if the offer close date wasn’t in five months time. On a scale of ‘urgent’ to ‘really, really not that urgent at all, I’ll get round to it after I’ve next cleaned the oven’ I’m afraid it scores rather badly.

All in all, I can’t really say that you’ve sold me in.

Brian, I’m sure you’re an intelligent man, having got so high up in such a big company and all that.

If I’ve misjudged you, then please let me know via the comments box.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

I’ve been stressed for the past couple of weeks.

A combination of things, mainly busy. So much work to do, so little time to do it in.

It’s been getting to me a bit. Things hanging over me that simply MUST be done. Clients who CAN’T be fobbed off any more.

Short Tony sticks his head over the fence.

“Fancy a game of golf?”

“Not half!” I reply.

The LTLP and I retire to discuss tactics. Short Tony is a very competitive man, and clearly we will need a well-thought-out plan to defeat him.

I have my Nike trainers, but they are especially formulated for running, so may actually have a negative effect on a sport so sedate as golf. In the end, we decide to zip in to Fakenham to buy Isotonic drinks.

Isotonic drinks are what championship sportspeople have. They are cunningly and scientifically formulated to balance all the fluid you use whilst you exert yourself, their main ingredients being water, sugar, salt, sweat and piss. Short Tony will regret his arrogant challenge.

We run out of time so stop outside the chocolate factory shop instead.

(Note – a factory that makes chocolate. Not a factory made of chocolate. That would be foolish. Not even the Three Little Pigs knew that little about modern construction techniques.)

It isn’t like those fake factory outlet villages that have all sprung up recently, but a genuine broom cupboard-sized room at the back of the chocolate factory. You can pick up wodges of stuff for next-to-nothing. We wander in, dodging crowds of Oompa-Loompas.

They don’t make Lucozade, so we buy some Isotonic chocolate instead.

By the time we tee off, my lost bodily fluids have been thoroughly replaced and I am, in fact, 16% cocoa solid. We agree that if Short Tony insists on a drugs test we will say that the LTLP administered it to me without my knowledge and/or I fell off my bike and can’t take it.

The plan works and I cruise to victory.

You yanks better watch out in the Ryder cup.