Wednesday, 29 December 2010
As 2010 draws to a close, I thought that I would resurrect a meme that I audaciously stole this time last year in order to summarise my thoughts, feelings and activities of the past year.
Please feel free to steal it if you like.
1. What did you do in 2010 that you'd never done before?
Our holiday to the Canadian Rockies and Alaska provided a few new experiences:
(1) It was the first time I had been to Calgary, Jasper, Kamloops, Banff, Vancouver and Victoria in Canada and Seattle, Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway in the US. It was a shame that we only got to spend only a small amount of time, ranging from a couple of hours to a day or two, in each place.
(2) I saw a couple of wild bears in the mountains (thankfully from the safety of a coach).
(3) I walked on a glacier in snow in the middle of May.
(4) I went on a cruise for the first time.
It was a fabulous holiday that cost a fortune and the scenery was absolutely breath-taking.
We also visited Iceland for the first time and had a really fun time which also coughed up a couple of firsts:
(1) I had my first sauna (hard to believe but true).
(2) I went to the Blue Lagoon where I basked in a geothermal spa and covered my face in white silica mud.
(3) I ate whale for the first time (not a whole one obviously).
You can read about our trip here.
On a business trip to China, there were a few firsts, particularly in the work environment. But the highlight for me was the Stone Forest (which you can read about here)
2. Did you keep your New Years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Not really. I don’t make resolutions as such but at the beginning of this year I was determined to get fit and at least attempt to write a book of some sort.
I failed – spectacularly.
In January, I actually did make an effort to get fit and lost a little weight as a result. Sadly, it was all over by February and my determination to improve my fitness fizzled out like a dud firework. And I have put the weight back on.
I also had a go at writing a book but, thanks to some heavy defeats in my war against procrastination, that too stuttered to an embarrassing halt. The only vaguely literary achievement I enjoyed was the continued outpouring of codswallop on this blog.
So – what about 2011?
The same aims apply and I will try harder this time to have a go at writing that elusive book and making myself a little fitter.
Wish me luck – I’ll need it.
3. How will you be spending New Year's Eve?
We are going to see “The Drifters” at the Palace Hotel in Manchester. Ideally I would like to bring in the New Year with a bit of heavy metal or progressive rock – but you can’t win them all. And yes, I will be dressing up as a penguin again.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
Thankfully, nobody I know died this year. Sadly, workwise, my morale continues to suffer a slow death.
5. What countries did you visit?
I visited Canada, the United States, Iceland, Spain (Majorca) and China.
6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?
The answer to this question is exactly the same as last year; more money and a house that is 100% complete. Our house is a money pit and we have just finished redecorating the second bedroom. We also spent money on replacing the front door and painting the outside of the house. This year, it is the turn of the hall and landing and I can see my hard earned cash disappearing as I type. At the end of 2011 we may have completed the inside of the house.
The problem is that we then have to turn our attention to outside of the house including the garden and the drive at the front of the house.
AARRRGGHHH!!!! Find me more money – somebody – please!! I will take next week’s winning lottery numbers, though, if you have them.
7. What date from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
No dates particularly stand out.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
My continued ability to spout drivel on this blog and display crap photos on The Plastic Mancunian’s Eye.
9. What was your biggest failure?
I think I hinted about this above – my inability to write a book – AGAIN!!!
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
No. My only illness was a touch of man flu (it visits me once or twice a year usually).
11. What was the best thing you bought?
Without a shadow of a doubt, that has to be my new HTC Desire HD smartphone. I am still playing with it and it has become, almost, like a third limb.
Bizarrely I rarely use it for basic stuff like phoning people up and texting; I spend most of my time playing with the satellite navigation, writing notes, taking photos, surfing the internet and all of the other wonderful things it can do. One useful application might actually help me get fit. There is a cardiovascular workout measurement application that uses the GPS to work out how fast you have walked/run, how many calories you have burned etc.
I intend to make use of this on January 2nd, when my new exercise regime begins – maybe.
12. Where did most of your money go?
The house (as usual) – oh and paying for my eldest lad’s driving lessons.
13. What song will always remind you of 2010?
I am going to name three songs, none of which were actually released in 2010 but all of which came into my possession for the first time this year:
(1) Octavarium – by Dream Theater. This is a progressive rock masterpiece that has to be listened to appreciate it fully. At 24 minutes long, it may be a little extreme for some readers, but the opening and closing sections are simply breath-taking in their beauty. Of course, being a rock song, it has wonderful fist-clenching moments of metal majesty but the last five or six minutes of the song actually bring tears to my eyes. I implore you to listen to it – even if you don’t think progressive rock is your cup of tea.
(2) Fear Of A Blank Planet – Porcupine Tree. Last year I discovered Dream Theater and this year I discovered Porcupine Tree. Some of you may have heard of them but I would guess that most haven’t. This song is a great introduction to the band.
(3) Fatal Tragedy – Dream Theater. Yes – I’m afraid it is another Dream Theater song, this time from the concept album “Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From A Memory”. Again it is a masterpiece that starts of slowly and then cranks up so brilliantly that you have no choice but to grab your air guitar and leap around the room like a lunatic. A massively wonderful piece of progressive rock.
14. What do you wish you'd done more of?
The book again, I’m sorry to say. I also wish I had considered an alternative to the daily grind, which is seriously wearing me down. I think I might seriously consider my career options in 2011.
15. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Same answer as last year – procrastinating.
16. What was your favourite TV program?
There were several TV programmes that stood out this year:
(1) Dr Who – the new Doctor was surprisingly good.
(2) The Apprentice – how fantastic to see arrogant arses brought crashing down to earth.
(3) True Blood – Vampires and ghouls – what more can you ask for?
(4) Fringe – continues to improve. It is a wonderful slice of science fiction.
(5) Dexter – We saw series 4 this year in the UK and it was wonderful and shocking at the same time. Can’t wait for series 5.
(6) 24 – Stupidly I watched series eight having never seen the programme before. It was magnificent. I need to watch the first seven series now I think.
17. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Absolutely not. There are people I dislike but “hate” is too strong a word.
18. What was the best book you read?
I’m going to list three:
(1) “I Am Ozzy” – Ozzy Osbourne – Ozzy is a legend and this is one of the funniest books I have read – not sure that it is meant to be though.
(2) “Patient Zero” – Jonathan Maberry – A cross between “Night of the Living Dead” and “24”. Fabulous.
(3) “Under the Dome” – Stephen King – A superb return to form for Mr King (after the disappointment of the Dark Tower series of novels).
19. What was your greatest musical discovery?
2010 has been a fabulous year for me in terms of music because I managed to complete my collection of Dream Theater CD’s.
However, on the way, I discovered a British progressive rock band that have also been around for a while, called Porcupine Tree. Check out “Fear Of A Blank Planet” and “In Absentia” – superb albums.
20. What was your favorite film of this year?
21. What did you do on your birthday?
Mrs PM took me for a lovely meal.
22. What kept you sane?
The usual – beer, music and writing this drivel.
23. Who did you miss?
24. Who was the best new person you met?
Again, I’ve met a few new people this year and I don’t want to single anybody out – that’s unfair.
25. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010:
It is better to get up an hour earlier than you have to when you are working in China in order to avoid using a squatter later in the day.
Wednesday, 22 December 2010
Well, folks, it’s that time of year again.
I’ve started a mini tradition on this blog at Christmas time – to take a well-loved Christmas tune and ruin it by changing the words into something stupid and inane.
My previous two efforts are here and here.
This year, I have decided to ruin a more modern song: Merry Christmas Everybody by Slade.
The lead singer of Slade, the fabulous Noddy Holder, was actually born in my home town of Walsall and although he doesn’t sing any more, his heartfelt cry of IT’S CHRISTMAAAASSSSSS is as ubiquitous in the UK as mince pies and turkey at this time of year.
I will take this opportunity to apologise to Noddy and the other boys in Slade for destroying their humorous lyrics with my own dreadful effort – but, as I said above, it is traditional.
And I would like to also take this opportunity to wish you, dear reader, wherever you may be, a Merry Christmas.
May Father Christmas bring you everything you desire and may your Yuletide celebrations be wonderful.
And now, I present to you my alternative lyrics:
Is your belly finally running out of space?
Have you drunk a pint of sherry washed down with a quart of ale?
Are you starting to look like a humpback whale?
So here it is Merry Christmas
And PM is having fun.
Eating lots and drinking beer
He’s only just begu – u- un.
Have you wasted lots of money on your gifts?
Were you tempted to give up and just shoplift?
Are you bored with Christmas carols sung by warblers at your door?
Are you tired enough to sleep upon the floor?
So here it is Merry Christmas
And PM is having fun.
Eating lots and drinking beer
He’s only just begu – u- un
What will Mrs PM do when she sees that PM's drunk and overweight? Ah ah!
Is there lots and lots of crap on the TV?
Are there lots of Christmas specials left to see?
Did you fall asleep while watching the Queen grumbling again?
Do you wish you were on a beach in sunny Spain?
So here it is Merry Christmas
And PM is having fun.
Eating lots and drinking beer
He’s only just begu – u- un
And for those of you who may not have heard the original – here it is:
Saturday, 18 December 2010
It’s been a week or two since I stole a meme from Sunday Stealing and as is typical of the situation, I find myself facing the second of a two part meme.
The only possible way forward is to attempt both parts.
Here we go.
1. What do you add to your coffee?
I usually add just milk. Occasionally, when there is no milk available or if the only milk available smells like the inside of a rugby player’s jock strap, I don’t bother and drink it black.
I have been known sometimes to add something alcoholic – purely for medicinal purposes you understand.
2. What are you reading now?
Apart from these questions?
If you are referring to my current book, it is “Under The Dome” by Stephen King. It’s a bit of a monster but is compelling and very enjoyable. I’ve almost finished. It will make a great film – it will be about eight hours long though.
3. Do you own a gun?
I own a water pistol to shoot invading cats. Apart from that I would never even consider owning a gun. This isn’t the kind of country where you need one to be fair. Besides, if I did own one, I would be tempted to emulate Elvis Presley and shoot the TV – particularly if Jeremy Kyle or Piers Morgan were on.
4. Are you registered to vote?
Of course I am. I live in England.
5. Do you get nervous before doctor appointments?
It depends what I am going to see the doctor for. So far, the answer is no – but you never know in future. I would imagine that having a boil in a very embarrassing place might make me nervous – particularly if the doctor were female.
6. What do you think of hot dogs?
I like them and I think they should be put on the endangered species list.
7. Favorite Christmas Song?
That has to be “Fairy Tale of New York” by the Pogues and Kirsty MacColl.
8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning?
I’m sure I’ve answered this one many times – a cup of tea and a glass of grapefruit juice.
9. Can you do push ups?
I’m not sure now. I’ve been able to do them in the past – it was a natural part of my gym routine a few years ago. Sadly, though, since my exercise now consists of walking around a bit and lifting a pint of beer, I may not be able to do as many as I used to be able to.
I will have a go in the New Year, when I try to become fit again.
10. What was the name of your first boyfriend/girlfriend?
That’s a great question. I think, really, it was probably Anita, who I went out with at the age of about nine. I can’t remember too much about her to be honest – she was probably crazy for being my girlfriend.
11. What’s your favorite piece of jewelery?
I don’t wear jewellery. In fact I don’t think I actually possess any jewellery.
12. Favorite hobby?
I would say writing the drivel that you are reading now, i.e. blogging. Sorry about that, dear reader.
Cat baiting comes a close second.
13. Do you work with people who idolize you?
Absolutely! ALL of my work colleagues idolise me. I am a deity in their eyes and they all strive to be as brilliant as I am.
I am also a total and utter liar.
14. Do you have ADD?
Not as far as I know.
15. What’s one trait that you hate about yourself?
That has to be procrastination. I have declared war on this terrible evil nemesis of mine and am struggling to overcome it. I am improving but it is a bloody hard slog I can tell you.
In fact, I will tell you my strategy – tomorrow maybe.
16. What’s your Middle name?
My middle name is Adonis. Actually, no – it’s more embarrassing than that – it’s George.
17. Name 3 thoughts at this exact moment.
(1) I really love Metallica (I am currently listening to “The Day That never Comes”).
(2) I hate winter. Its bloody freezing and I hate the fact that Britain grounds to a halt when we get snow.
(3) Why did I take on this bloody meme?
18. Name 3 things you bought yesterday.
A pint of bitter, a glass of dry white wine, another pint of bitter. I was at the pub.
19. Name 3 beverages you regularly drink.
Tea, grapefruit juice and beer - not together of course.
20. Current worry right now?
Will the weather get worse overnight? We’re going to a wedding reception in Accrington tomorrow night and the journey might be a little scary. The news is full of stories of people being stuck in their cars for hours on end. We are really shit in this country when we get bad weather. Perhaps I said that before.
21. What side do you dress to?
That’s a bit personal but I will answer it anyway because that’s the kind of guy I am; the right side.
22. Favorite place to be?
At this current moment I would say in front of the fire because it is bloody freezing. Apart from that, probably Hong Kong as long as Mrs PM is there too.
23. How did you bring in the New Year?
I spent the last night of 2009 in the company of five lovely ladies, dancing to songs by “The Rat Pack”. You can read about it here.
24. Where would you like to go?
At the moment, anywhere warm. A fortnight in a wonderful warm place would be lovely.
25. Name three people who will see today.
Odd question. I imagine most people in the world will see today.
26. Whose responses to Stealing do you want to read the most?
I read a lot of them to be honest and all of them are fabulous. I particularly like funny ones.
27. What color shirt are you wearing?
I am wearing a black T-shirt.
28. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets?
With my hair? I would imagine that the friction would make me look like Einstein on crack.
29. Can you whistle?
Yes – as long as you aren’t asking me to do that whistle involving sticking fingers in my mouth. If I try that, I end up looking like a dribbling imbecile (as opposed to just an imbecile).
30. Favorite colors(s)?
Black and blue.
31. Could you be a pirate?
I would love to be a pirate – as long as it didn’t involve sailing, cutlasses and parrots. I just want the treasure.
32. What songs do you sing in the shower?
I sing all sorts of stuff. I try not to sing anything by Dream Theater though because the songs last so long.
33. Favorite girls name?
If I had had a baby girl I would have wanted her to be called Rachel – so I guess I will say that.
34. Favorite boy’s name?
Dave, of course. Dave is the greatest boy’s name in existence. Everybody loves Dave – we even have a TV channel named after us in England.
35. What’s in your pocket right now?
Nothing. I usually have a phone, keys and a wallet normally.
36. Last thing that made you laugh?
I watched last night’s “Peep Show” earlier today – and that made me laugh out loud.
37. Best bed sheets as a child?
I always had boring sheets. I would have wanted something involving space ships and aliens but my mother would never buy them.
38. Worst injury you’ve ever had?
I’ve never really been injured seriously. The worst injury was due to my monumental stupidity. At the age of fifteen I was riding on a bike down a hill with a friend on the back. He pushed my arms and we both went over the top of the handlebars.I landed face first on the road and he landed on top of me. I thought I had lost both of my front teeth but thankfully only managed to chip one of them. My lips came up like a couple of oranges and my glasses shattered. There was blood everywhere and my mother thought I had broken my nose – I hadn’t thankfully. I ended up with two black eyes and loads of scratches and looked like I had been fifteen rounds with Mohammed Ali.
39. Do you love where you live?
I love Manchester as a city – it is full of life and a very entertaining place to be. The only thing I don’t like is the weather.
40. How many TVs do you have in your house? How many HDTVs?
I have one 37 inch HDTV, an old TV that we use for the Wii and Playstation and a portable one upstairs.
41. Who is your loudest friend?
My friends would probably say that I am their loudest friend – compared to me they are all mice.
42. How many dogs do you have?
Sadly I don’t own a dog. I would dearly love one though but it isn’t exactly fair to keep one at the moment, with both of us working all the time. I am still hoping to persuade Mrs PM to get one when I retire, which may prove difficult because she is a cat person.
43. Does anyone have a crush on you?
I think that Mrs PM does (she has such bad taste in men). If there is anybody else, I don’t know about it.
44. What are the most fun things you ever did?
Too many to mention but all involve travelling abroad.
45. What are your favorite books?
I love horror, science fiction and action thrillers like those written by Robert Ludlum. I will name one in each genre for you.
Horror – “The Dark” by James Herbert.
Science Fiction – “The War of the Worlds” by H.G.Wells
Thrillers – “The Bourne Ultimatum” by Robert Ludlum.
47. Favorite Team?
I am sad to say that my favourite team is Walsall Football Club, currently languishing at the bottom of the third tier of the English football league. They stole my soul at the age of five and try as I might I simply cannot retrieve it – no matter how shit they are.
48. What songs do you want played at your funeral?
I definitely answered this a couple of weeks ago. For those of you who didn’t read that particular meme:
Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin
Home – Depeche Mode
49. What were you doing at 12 AM?
According to Mrs Pm I was snoring so loudly that the cats were trying to escape the house through the walls.
50. What was the first thing you thought of when you woke up?
What’s the bloody weather like today?
Monday, 13 December 2010
A while ago, somebody asked:
“What on earth are you doing, you stupid arse?”
That question made me start thinking, which is always a dangerous thing.
I didn’t ponder the question directly because I knew why it had been asked – I had spilled a cup of tea on my desk at work and it had flooded onto somebody else’s desk (his reaction was quite good, really).
Instead it made me consider the point of existence. I can almost hear you thinking “What the hell are you talking about?” Allow me to elaborate, dear reader.
I started to consider whether my mistake would make any difference in the global scheme of things.. Thousands of years into the future, my faux pas would be long forgotten. Both my work colleague and me would eventually both fade into oblivion and be lost in the mists of time. So why was he kicking up such a fuss?
Would anybody be even remotely interested in my antics in three thousand years’ time? Would anybody living in the year 5010 be even vaguely aware that a guy in Manchester had once pissed off a work colleague by soaking his desk in hot tea?
Can you imagine a future historian saying:
The man who calls himself The Plastic Mancunian wrote, what can be best described as drivel and exposed it the world for a good few years. However, the turning point came when he spilled hot tea over a colleague’s desk at work, resulting in a chain of events that ultimately led to World War Three. Thankfully, the hogwash he published has been lost.
The only reason that somebody like me might be remembered would be if I really had triggered World War Three eventually causing the violent destruction of humanity, all animal and plant life and possibly the Earth itself.
In the grand scheme of things, I am an insignificant moment in a vast infinite universe of time and space and my existence will not be remembered.
But I digress.
The original angry question rattled around my brain for a good few hours, teasing me, trying to stimulate my imagination and thought processes; in effect it tried to kick start the philosopher within. And it succeeded – to some extent.
In the past, I have had a bit of a problem with deep thinkers. I didn’t particularly mind them cogitating and filling their minds with nonsense – just as long as I didn’t have to listen to the bollocks that poured out of their mouths.
Also, I didn’t want them to think any less of me because I refused to engage with them about reason, conclusion and speculation. I’m sure that most philosophers are in fact very intelligent people; however, there are some that I have read about and some I have met who pour scorn on those refusing to enter their world, considering them to be idiots of the highest order. And that annoys me.
“I think therefore I am; you don’t think therefore you are a moron”.
I have questioned their intelligence because, quite simply, their minds tend to wander into crazy realms and, to me at least, the nonsense they talked about was just idiotic. For example, at university, I was once rummaging through some past mathematics papers in the library so that I could practice them for my forthcoming final exams. As I searched through the folders of old papers, I stumbled upon an old philosophy exam. I was curious about the subject and began to read the questions. There was a lot of stuff about famous philosophers, hidden meaning, thinking and other stuff that probably needed a level of understanding about various concepts in order to pass. To be honest, I would have been prepared to sit down and take a stab at the some of the questions. I wouldn’t have answered them in the way the examiners expected; my answers would have been facetious. I would have failed spectacularly and made an example of.
Some of the questions were absolutely ridiculous. Like this one:
There is a planet in existence that is identical to Earth, but populated only by unicorns. Discuss.
I read the question and within three minutes I was ejected from library, howling with laughter and struggling to maintain control of my bladder. Passers-by saw a demented science student, rolling around on the floor with tears in his eyes, clutching his groin, laughing maniacally and babbling “Unicorns! UNICORNS!”
These days, however, I have changed my opinion and I might even be tempted to have a go at answering the unicorn question, simply because I find it intriguing that somebody dreamt it up in the first place. And it also makes me wonder what other questions there are out there rattling around the minds of deep thinkers worldwide, like:
How do you know that you are not dreaming at the moment?
While you are pondering that, I have had a quick peek on the internet, looking for a few philosophical quotes some of which might make you chuckle but also might make you think.
Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.
A chocolate bar is better than nothing. Nothing is better than eternal happiness. Therefore a chocolate bar is better than eternal happiness.
Philosophy: unintelligible answers to insoluble problems.
To err is human. To forgive is unusual.
Only those who attempt the absurd can achieve the impossible.
Believe those who seek the truth. Doubt those who find it.
Even a clock that doesn’t work is right twice a day.
Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It's already tomorrow in Australia. [PM addendum: Unless of course you LIVE in Australia in which case you're screwed!]
I have a new philosophy. I'm only going to dread one day at a time.
Sometimes I lie awake at night, and I ask, "Where have I gone wrong?" Then a voice says to me, "This is going to take more than one night."
Being a philosopher, I have a problem for every solution.
Philosophy, like medicine, has plenty of drugs, few good remedies, and hardly any specific cures.
To ridicule philosophy is really to philosophize.
I was thrown out of college for cheating on the metaphysics exam: I looked into the soul of another boy.
Philosophy: A route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing.
The philosophy exam was a piece of cake -- which was a bit of a surprise, actually, because I was expecting some questions on a sheet of paper.
The point of philosophy is to start with something so simple as not to seem worth stating, and to end with something so paradoxical that no one will believe it.
My favourite is a story I heard about a philosophy exam question that simply said:
A candidate simply answered:
I love that!
Friday, 10 December 2010
Some things really make me cringe. I wince and want to curl up in a ball and scream. Such things make me want to run away, in some cases, making me feel quite ill in the process.
I thought, for a bit of fun, I would share them with you. However, when I started the list, it grew and grew and grew, which leads me to conclude that it is surprisingly easy to make me cringe.
I have therefore cut down the list, dear reader, for your benefit (and mine if I'm honest). Here it is:
Men with long hair who are bald.
Old men who wear thongs.
Fat people who wear tight clothes.
Young men who snog pensioners
Two intertwined forks (they make my teeth itch)
Men who urinate on the toilet seat
People who don’t flush the toilet
Old women with enormous breasts who insist on sunbathing topless
Fingernails on a blackboard
Rolf Harris singing “Stairway to Heaven”
Every single “Just For Men” advert I have ever seen.
Watching operations on TV – even if they are not real.
Boy bands who call themselves “musicians”
People who clack spoons and forks on their teeth
People who crack their knuckles
The Bon Jovi lyric where he sings about “French kissing the morning”
People who think they can sing and clearly can’t.
Women who wear so much make-up they look like clowns
Large insects with hundreds of legs
A dentist drilling a tooth
That bloody Nokia ring tone that gives me mobile phone twitch.
Gordon Brown smiling
People who shout with food in their mouths
People who clap when the aircraft lands
David Brent’s antics in “The Office”
Reading something embarrassing – particularly if I wrote it
Women asking me deeply personal questions
People who say “nucular” instead of nuclear
That fracking “Go Compare” Advert on TV
British people who shout at foreigners because they think it makes them understand English.
Chewing gum stuck in somebody’s hair
Anything to do with touching eyes, bloodshot eyes, eyes popping out of sockets etc.
Old women who wear revealing dresses
Watching needles going into people’s arms
Whenever Boris Johnson opens his mouth
Footballers who are injured in their groin area
That fracking “BOGOF” advert
People throwing up
Bald men who comb their hair over
Slugs and snails
Men with long fingernails
People touching my PC monitor at work
Stepping into cat vomit
People who slap their mouths
The Christmas Coca Cola “Holidays are coming” advert.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. I will save the rest for a future post - perhaps.
And now, over to you, dear reader.
What makes you cringe?
Sunday, 5 December 2010
There is compelling evidence that the world is a stupid place and it worries me, dear reader.
I am fully aware that I have momentary lapses when, without thinking, I say something daft. Unlike some people, however, it is usually due to me not noticing my surroundings rather than genuinely being thick.
Take, for example, the time when I climbed on my soapbox at work after one too many comments on a document I had written. An anal commentator pulled me up for using a compressed font in in just one sentence. I don’t know how it happened and I don’t particularly care.
The problem was that it was unnoticeable to the naked eye. The person who spotted it was one of those guys who comments on really minor things that make absolutely no difference.
“How can he tell this sentence is in a compressed font?” I asked.
“He’s searched the document for it?” said a colleague.
“He’s done WHAT???” I yelled.
It was the last straw. This was an internal document and I had violated a minor quality law and was being pulled up about it by a man who clearly suffered from some weird form of OCD. I hauled my soapbox out and started ranting.
I ranted about quality. I ranted about how pointless it was and how it made my job so much more difficult. I targeted my tirade of abuse at a bunch of graduates, who had only been at the company a year. I insulted the very core of the quality procedures. I tore strips of the company’s quality policy. I verbally annihilated the quality department.
“And what is the bloody point of the Quality Manager? That’s money for old rope,” I bellowed.
Somebody behind me said “Can I have a word, Dave?”
“What?” I shouted, whirling around, still agitated and wound up.
I stared into the eyes of the company Quality Manager.
“Oh shit,” I said.
That’s how stupid I can be, dear reader. I was stupid enough to start a rant about a department in our company unaware that the Quality Manager was standing behind me listening to every word I was saying.
So, yes, I can be stupid. But there are people in the world who take stupidity to new uncharted depths. These people are totally unaware of their own idiocy and genuinely ask the most bizarre questions, expecting people to not only answer them, but also simply cannot see why the questions are stupid.
The internet, as you can imagine, is a vast database of examples of idiocy and is full of stupid questions. To save you searching yourself, dear reader, I have trawled the worldwide web to find some of the most stupid questions ever asked. I ask myself whether these people are actually sentient or just ill-educated. Judge for yourself:
“Windsor Castle is very nice but why did they build it so close to an airport?”
“Do they have Christmas in Australia?”
“Which direction is North in South Africa?”
“Where can I download a good webcam for free?”
“Are there any lakes in the Lake District?”
“Does Wales close in the winter?”
“What’s the capital of Africa?”
“Do you have dogs in Germany?”
“Do you celebrate 4th July in England?”
“How do you know what day of the week it is if you are blind?”
“I want to walk from Durban to Johannesburg. Can I follow the railway track?”
“Why did they build so many ruined castles in England?”
“What’s the right age to start teaching my dog about sex?”
“Who feeds the Loch Ness Monster?”
“What’s the difference between Asian and Chinese people?”
“Will I get wet if I go snorkelling?”
“Can your baby get pregnant if you have sex while pregnant?”
“HOW DO I TURN OFF CAPS LOCK?”
“What do you do with the ice carvings after they have melted?”
“Can I wear high heels in Australia?”
“I made Jesus-shaped pancakes but I burnt them. Am I going to Hell?”
“Which universities play Quidditch?”
“Was the Grand Canyon man-made?”
“What language do they speak in England?”
“Can I get pregnant from a kiss?”
“Is this island surrounded by water?”
“Would it be cheaper to fly or take a train to Hawaii?”
“What time does the 2 o’clock show start?”
“Do these steps go up or down?”
“Which religion has the best hats”?
“How do you get You Tube to come and film you?”
“What time do they turn the Northern Lights on?”
“Can I take my frozen turkey into my sauna to thaw I faster?”
“Does it go dark at night where you live?”
And a couple I have been asked:
“Do they have microwave ovens in England?”
“I’ve been to England. I met a guy called John Smith in London. Do you know him?”
“How many times have you met the Queen”?
There are many more stupid questions that have been asked and many more stupid people to ask such questions in future.
It’s scary isn’t it?
Monday, 29 November 2010
I am aware that I am not getting any younger and I realise that I can’t do anything about Father Time’s obsession with transforming me into a shrivelled old prune.
I know that many people cannot accept their fate and the inevitable consequences of living for decades. Some people go to extraordinary lengths to do battle with the inexorable slide into old age and look even more ridiculous as a result.
I have chosen to embrace the mutation into a withered old wreck. After all, I can’t fight it – why bother?
Many people say that I look young for my age and while that is true, the signs are there for all to see (if you are brave enough to get close enough to me that is).
Let’s look at the evidence.
Baggy Face: My face is beginning to droop like a sack of sludge with a couple of holes. I have compared my face with that of a younger more vibrant version of myself and it is quite shocking to see the difference. My cheeks look like I have stuffed cotton wool into them and I somehow seem to have acquired more skin. I would say that my skin is growing but I know that isn’t true. If I didn’t know any better, I would say that my face is slowly melting. I am beginning to look like John McCain with a wig:
Grey Hair: My lovely blond locks have darkened to a dirty brown and the pigment is marching towards boring old grey. I could persuade it to reverse I suppose by applying liberal amounts of a product like “Just For Men” that is supposed to turn an old fart into a dark haired Adonis (but in reality makes them look ridiculous). I will let my hair change colour and, I guess, ultimately I will look like a grey owl:
Actually that may not be the case: people with blond hair tend to turn white. So maybe I will end up looking like a white owl:
Moobs: I can’t deny it - I have small moobs (or moobies if you prefer). Purely in the name of research, I have just, stupidly been cupping them in my hands as Mrs PM walked in and now I feel like a right berk!
“What the hell are you doing?” she has just asked.
“Research for a blog post!”
Now Mrs PM thinks I am even more of a weirdo and I have some explaining to do (“Read the post” doesn’t seem to have worked).
Thankfully my moobs really are tiny and only visible if I am stupid enough to wear a tight T-Shirt. But they are there, dear reader. I can see them and soon they will announce themselves to the world despite my attempts to hide them. I will have to start investing in baggy T shirts.
Double chin: Under a certain light I can see that I have a fledgling second chin. I can’t possibly see the use for an extra chin and I imagine if it gets any bigger it will make shaving a right pain in the arse. I fear that unless I deflate it somehow it might become the first of many. My chin is spawning, dear reader!
Hair sprouting everywhere: Regular readers will know that I have a problem with my hair. It is an unmanageable mess at the best of times. Now, the rest of my body has decided to join in, thrusting hair out of all sorts of weird orifices.
Why on earth would I want monster clumps of hair hanging out of my nose?
What possible purpose can they achieve?
Worse, when I go to get my hair cut, the poor woman who battles my monstrous locks now has to shave my ears.
MY EARS for Pete's sake.
Why at the age of forty does Mother Nature decide to cover my ears with hair? I’m turning into a yeti:
Eyesight: I’ve always been as blind as a bat and now my eyes have decided to kick me in the teeth by making me long-sighted as well as short-sighted. I have to wear varifocals now which means that I have to peer through the bottom of the lenses when reading. Why would Mother Nature do that to me? It’s bad enough having to wear glasses since the age of eight without them suddenly becoming useless at the age of forty five.
Mother Nature certainly has a sick sense of humour.
Wrinkles: My fair complexion is fine and from a distance my face looks as smooth as a baby’s backside. Get closer and you begin to see the flaws. Crevices, fissures and ravines are beginning to appear. And they are getting worse. Mrs PM keeps telling me to stop frowning because my forehead has deepening cracks. It could be worse but I know that it won’t get any better. If my hair decides to throw in the towel I could end up looking like one giant wrinkle.
It is inevitable that I will probably end up looking like this any one of these three guys:
As I said, I’m not Benjamin Button and neither is anybody else, so why would growing old worry anybody? I don't like it but it is inevitable, dear reader. I will live with it and get some blogging mileage out of it too.
I know that I am not suddenly going to become a heart throb with features so handsome that women swoon when they see me - in fact, women have NEVER swooned over me so why would growing old be any different?
Mind you, I guess it is possible that older women might find me attractive, simply because they will be as blind as I am.
Besides, who would want to become younger? Crikey – we would have to go through puberty again and the thought of that makes me cringe – it was bad enough the first time.And yes, dear reader, I HAVE gone through puberty (despite what you may think).
Tuesday, 23 November 2010
Every year in the UK we are treated to a charity telethon called “Children In Need” where people basically do stupid stuff to raise money for children’s charities.
The show on TV is dreadful but the sentiment is admirable.
Last year my company decided to participate for the first time and organised a whole bunch of ideas for fund raising, involving raffles selling home-made food and, most importantly, a fancy dress day at work.
Sadly, last year I was a coward and opted not to dress up, choosing instead to sit and laugh at my work colleagues in their silly costumes.
However, this year, I decided to join in. I was tempted to resurrect my Gene Simmons look but thought that it would be too much hassle for Mrs PM to paint my face first thing on a Friday morning. Besides, I would have had to drive to work with my glasses on, risking smudging the make up and running the whole effect.
So I opted to become Ozzy Osbourne.
It was a relatively easy thing to achieve and it cost next to nothing. The hardest part was drawing
O Z Z Y
in blue biro on my left hand. I certainly didn’t want to emulate the man by reproducing ALL of his tattoos.
To enhance the magic, and unlike some of the other participants, I could actually do a pretty good impersonation of the person I was dressed up as.
You see, Ozzy Osbourne grew up about six miles away from where I was born and it’s not too difficult for me to revisit my old accent for the enjoyment of my colleagues.
I even took some music from my Black Sabbath and Ozzy collection and played it sporadically on my PC throughout the day peppering the tunes with cries of “SHAAARRRROONNN!!!”
Here are some photos:
And here is the man himself for comparison:
The worst thing about the day, apart from looking daft, was wearing the bloody wig. Not only did it drive me crazy causing my head to itch, I also ended up eating most of it when I tried to have lunch and snacks. It was a right pain in the arse.
Nevertheless I stuck at it.
Of course, I didn’t win the competition– but that wasn’t the plan. The plan was to look like a goon and play heavy metal at work – oh and pay the entrance fee to help charity.
I think I might just have pulled it off.
Saturday, 20 November 2010
Time for another strange meme from Sunday Stealing . Theft, in some cases, can be good.
1. What was the last thing you put in your mouth?
The last thing I put in my mouth would have been a piece of fusilli, cooked to perfection and smothered in a fabulous mushroom sauce, with a hint of tuna.
Yup – I bashed together a quick pasta for tea again.
2. How late did you stay up last night and why?
I went to bed at approximately 11:30 pm. I would have stayed up later but I had fallen asleep on the couch and Mrs PM said that I was scaring the cats.
3. If you could move somewhere else, would you?
I would seriously consider a move to Hong Kong. My problem is that I would miss Britain too much so I really can’t decide whether my desire to live in Hong Kong would be stronger than the desire to stay in Britain. I would quite happily consider travelling between the two though; summer in Britain and winter in Hong Kong.
Now there’s a thought.
4. Have you ever been kissed under fireworks?
I’ve been kissed in a lot of places and I am certain that fireworks were going off at some point.
5. Do you believe ex’s can be friends?
That’s a really tricky one. I do know of people who are friends with ex’s simply because when they were in a relationship with each other they could not live together.
I think it would be a struggle to be honest.
6. When was the last time you cried really hard?
I can’t remember. Probably ten years ago when a football pranged me in the groin.
7. What items could you not go without during the day?
A cup of tea, a dose of decent music and a computer/laptop/notepad to transform my weird thoughts to a different media so I can remember to inflict them on you, dear reader.
8. Who was the last person you visited in the hospital?
I think it was probably my mum a few years ago.
9. How do you feel about your life right now?
If you take work out of the equation, life is absolutely peachy.
10. If we were to look in your facebook inbox, what would we find?
A message from Facebook saying “We miss you. Why don’t you log on very often?”
11. Say you were given a drug test right now, would you pass?
12. Has anyone ever called you perfect before?
Yes. Megan Fox keeps ringing me up and saying “We’re perfect for each other.” I have to fight the woman off. Have you ever been stalked by a pest before? It’s not pleasant. I shouldn’t have given her my phone number.
13. Someone knocks on your window at 2:00 a.m.: who do you want it to be?
I know who I DON’T want it to be. I still remember being scared shitless by “’Salem’s Lot” when the floating vampire kid scraped the window. Since there is a good chance of me being asleep in my bedroom on the first floor, such a knock would probably make me wet the bed.
And that would really annoy Mrs PM.
14. Do you think too much or too little?
I definitely think too much. Even when I am in bed, I replay weird thoughts over and over and end up having crazy dreams.
15. Do you believe in fairy tales?
No. I do believe in science fiction though.
16. Have you ever licked the back of a CD to try to get it to work?
What kind of pervert would do that? I’ve tried licking the back of a stamp to make it work but I don’t always succeed. I would love to do something to destroy one of Mrs PM’s CD’s though. The only problem is that I have so many more than her and my music is precious – and her revenge would know no bounds.
17. What’s the largest age difference between yourself and someone you’ve dated?
I think, actually, that might be the age difference between myself and Mrs PM. We are almost eight years apart.
18. Have you ever been on a blind date?
Yes – and she loved me. We danced the night away and I kissed here sweetly on the cheek when we parted. I was thirteen years old and her name was Tracy.
My dad set up the date.
19. Do you have any friends that you’ve known for 10 years or more?
Crikey – yes! Lots. And I feel very old.
20. Have you ever had a crush on a teacher?
Absolutely! At the tender age of nine in my junior school we had a delightful teacher called Miss Thomas. She was probably in her twenties and I adored her, so much so that I fawned over her like a lost kitten. I still think of her when I hear the Abba song “When I Kissed the Teacher” – which sadly I never managed to pluck up the courage to do. I reckon she must be sixty five years old now – at least.
21. What song do you want played at your funeral?
A choice of two:
Stairway To Heaven – Led Zeppelin
Home – Depeche Mode
22. Would you tell your parents if you were gay?
I would have to. I would hope that they would support me.
23. What would your last meal be before getting executed?
I think I would go for fifteen pints of bitter, so that the pain was nulled.
24. Do you walk around the house naked?
I have been known to but since the cats starting complaining, Mrs PM has urged me not to.
25. What do you do as soon as you walk in the house?
Throw my keys onto the table, throw my wallet and change into a dish, throw my coat onto the chair and sit down with a huge sigh of relief.
26. Who is the person you can count on the most?
Mrs PM. No contest (musical taste apart that is).
27. What is your favourite Holiday?
Anywhere nice in the summer – or Christmas.
28. Would you ever get plastic surgery?
Not at all. I am more scared of the pain than I am of being ugly.
29. Have you ever caught a fish?
I once caught a fish breaking into my house.
No – seriously, I haven’t. Fishing is tedium personified.
30. What is the first thing you notice about people?
If it’s a woman then definitely her boobs. I am a man and I can’t help it.
31. What is the farthest you’ve been from home?
That would have to be Sydney, Australia – 10553 miles or 16983 kilometres.
32. How did you meet your spouse or significant other (or most recent one)?
We got together on a business trip to Hong Kong.
33. Where was the last place you drove (other than home/school/work)?
I drove to the cinema today with my two lads, to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part One).
Tuesday, 16 November 2010
Wednesday night is a good night to rant at the moment.
We are well into the new series of The Apprentice, a reality show that pits the (supposedly) greatest young entrepreneurs of Britain with Alan Sugar, aka Sir Alan Sugar, aka Lord Sugar.
It seems like he gains a new title every time they film a new series. What next? King Alan the First?
Anyway, I digress. I used to rant about Alan Sugar, the founder of Amstrad but I have warmed to him over the years. He is famous now for being Britain’s most belligerent boss, a man who is almost impossible to please and who does not suffers fools at all.
The Apprentice is compelling viewing. Lord Sugar takes a handful of young arseholes and puts them through a terrible ordeal with the dubious prize of being able to work for him for a six figure salary.
The candidates are all young and have one thing in common: their arrogance is breath-taking.
I watch the show hurling abuse at how cocky these fools are. They claim to be expert sales people, fantastic marketing gurus who will make loads of money for Lord Sugar. Yet most of them are absolute idiots who have a massive ego but little else.
And Lord Sugar delights in exposing them and shooting them down in flames – and he delights me too.
A week or two ago, one contestant made me reach a new level of anger when watching the show. To my amazement, Mrs PM also let rip and our TV almost buckled under the assault from the two of us.
Lord Sugar sent the candidates from London up to the Trafford Centre in Manchester to sell the latest London fashions to Mancunians. I was already irritated by the phrase latest London fashions when one of the candidates said something that enraged the two of us.
“Manchester is two years behind London.”
“TWO YEARS BEHIND LONDON?” I yelled.
“THE CHEEKY BUGGER!” screamed Mrs PM.
Can you believe that?
To be honest, I wasn’t surprised at this sweeping and wholly inaccurate slur on my adopted city. A few people in the South of England pour scorn on the North.
When I say “South” I really mean “Greater London” because in reality quite a few people of that city and the surrounding towns look down on Northerners. I am not joking when I say that there are some from the London area who don’t actually know anything about life north of Watford.
Many years ago, I was visiting friends in London and we found ourselves in a night club near Camden Town. At the end of the evening, a young woman asked me where I was from. The conversation went something like this:
Southern Belle: So where are you from?
Plastic Mancunian: Manchester.
Southern Belle: Manchester? Where’s that then?
Plastic Mancunian: You are joking, right?
Southern Belle: No. Whereabouts in London is Manchester?
Plastic Mancunian: It’s not in London. Its 250 miles away.
Southern Belle: Oh! Are you getting home in a taxi?
I swear I am not making that up. I have had similar conversations with people who have said, quite seriously:
“Manchester? That’s north of Watford innit? Why would anybody live north of Watford?”
It makes you feel like punching them.
It is this perception of the North that really annoys me. I love London as a city but some of its residents are bizarrely arrogant. When questioned about life north of Watford they consider us all to wear cloth caps, breed whippets and pigeons and say things like:
“EEH BAR GUM!!”
Let me aim this post at that minority of Southerners and just say this.
We are not stupid.
We are not two years behind London.
We are friendly.
We do not say “ECKY THUMP!”
I could go on. I could dismiss everything that these people think but it is not worth it. Some of them would never travel out of earshot of Bow Bells – unless they were to move into the Home Counties of course.
Actually, to be honest, I suffer at the hands of both Northerners and Southerners.
I was born in Walsall, near Birmingham, i.e. I am from the Midlands. I am regarded as a pariah by both Northerners and Southerners. Northerners call me a Southern Jessie. Southerners call me a Northern Arse.
I reckon now, in the North, I have been accepted because I have lived in Manchester for longer than I lived in the Midlands and these days I even count myself as a Northerner.
And to any Southerners who feel that travelling North of Watford is like stepping back into the Stone Age, I think you should pay us a visit. We might not be able to understand what you say but we are a friendly bunch and we do have interpreters.
I am joking of course. The regional accents in England can change dramatically within a few miles. Sometimes though, it can be difficult to understand the cockney accent or even the Greater London accent.
I remember meeting a lad at university who was from the south of England. I understood everything he said until he told me where he was from.
“EMOO” he said.
“EMOO! You know. EMOO EMSTID!”
“Where? Spell it!”
“OH! Hemel Hempstead!”
“That’s what I said. Where are you from?”
“Warsaw? Are you Polish?”
So my accent in those days was just as difficult to understand.
I will finish off by saying that I actually like cockneys and Southerners but I will add that if you are a Southerner reading this who thinks that Northerners are Neanderthals who worry sheep then think again. The North of England is beautiful – so is the Midlands.
And there IS life outside London and particularly north of Watford.
It most certainly is not “GRIM OOP NORTH!!”.
We do not have “RAINBOWS IN BLACK AND WHITE!”
I will leave you with an ode to Southerners everywhere:
Alexei Sayle’s “'Ullo John! Gotta New Motor!”
We don’t think all Southerners are like that!