Friday 26 September 2008

Blogging In The Rain

The last two weeks have been strange in Manchester. Why? Because it has hardly rained. Here we are heading towards the end of September and hardly a drop of rain has fallen on the city.

In fact, as I type, I am staring out of the window onto a blue cloudless sky.

Those of you from within the UK are probably thinking “Yes that is indeed strange, Mr Plastic Mancunian”. Those of you from further away may be thinking “What’s so odd about two weeks without rain?”

Well let me tell you what’s strange about it. Manchester is perceived to be the rainiest city in Britain. Just watch a typical weather forecast.

The weatherman will say something like …

“Good news everybody, we have clear blue skies everywhere except …”

And I just know that there will be a tiny black cloud on the map. Furthermore, everybody will know exactly where I live because that cloud will be hovering directly above my house holding a huge amount of rainwater to drop on my head. The cloud will be saying "Come on - make my day".
Of course, if it is raining in the UK it will of course be raining in Manchester as well – that’s a given!

When I first moved to Manchester over twenty years ago, people told me to buy an umbrella “because I would need it”. And they were right. Apparently Mancunians spend £13million a year on umbrellas.

However, I have been doing my home city a disservice. Apparently Manchester is not the wettest city in Britain.

According to an article I recently read the following cities are wetter:

In fact Manchester is the ninth wettest city in Britain and the average rainfall is only marginally more than the average rainfall for the whole of England.

So if you are thinking "The Plastic Mancunian comes from Manchester. He must be blogging in the rain” – think again.
It's sunny up north!

I’m off to South Africa again tomorrow so I won’t be posting for a week or so. Let’s hope it doesn’t rain there.

Tuesday 23 September 2008

Bad Hair Day

Every single day is a proverbial bad hair day for me. I absolutely loathe my hair. In fact I’ve hated it ever since I can remember. Furthermore I am convinced that my hair is a sentient monster that hates me right back.

When I was a boy, my hair was platinum blond and wildly uncontrollable. Old women would grab it and pull it and utter squeaks of delight as they ran their fingers through my locks.

“Oh doesn’t he have gorgeous hair,” they would cry. My mother revelled in the attention for her first born and actually cut bits off for family and close friends. Somewhere in Walsall there is an old dusty chest with a lock of my hair in it.

Mercifully, my dad came to my rescue and dragged me down to the barber shop. He wasn’t happy about the blond jungle on my head and instructed the maniac with scissors to shave off every last lock.

I was too young to care but I do recall not being too perturbed about my appearance. The maniac didn’t remove every follicle; he left most of them extremely short. From a distance I appeared to be bald. Those were happy days.

My mother soon put a stop to my father’s exploits and allowed my hair to grow again. By now, we had left the sixties and entered the seventies, a decade resplendent with dreadful styles. I didn’t have a style as such. My hair took on a life of its own. As I passed through my teenage years, I rebelled and allowed my hair to take control.

“Get your hair cut,” my Mum would say.

“No,” I would reply. “It’s the fashion.”

Fashion? I was really stupid as a teenager.

At the age of seventeen my hair was huge. Unlike the rock stars I loved so much, my hair wasn’t just long. It defied gravity and stood on end as if I were a victim of a constant and relentless electric shock. One of my teachers hated it.

“Dunk your head in a bucket of water, boy,” he bellowed much to the amusement of the rest of the class. “You look like a chrysanthemum.”

That hurt! What if girls thought the same? Was this the reason why ladies didn’t appreciate my good looks?

I decided on a piece of radical action. I was ready to start university as the eighties approached. I decided to have it styled.

I remember the day as if it were yesterday. I walked into the stylist and noticed that there were no scissor-wielding maniacs in sight. The stylist screamed in terror.

“Boy this is going to be a challenge,” she said.

My hair was washed (or as I prefer to think of it – drowned) and once subdued, the stylist attacked it as if it were a mad beast. The stylist made me remove my glasses so I sat there in the chair staring at a very blurred image of myself being attacked. I had no idea what was going on; all I could see was blond hair cascading to the floor. By the time the stylist had finished two hours later, there was a mountain of blond curls.

Having disposed of 95% of my hair, the stylist did something that I had yet to experience – she blow dried my hair. When I put on my glasses I was amazed. I looked human. Girls would love me. My hair was under control for the first time in my adolescent life.

Off I went to university and for three years I was happy with my haircut.

I left that establishment still in control and started work. And let my hair take control again (foolish bumpkin that I am). The eighties was the decade of the mullet – and I embraced it with gusto.

I let my hair grow at the back and explode on the top. At the sides I shaved it to within an inch of its life. I looked in the mirror and beamed with pride. I looked like a goon.

For three years I walked around proud that I had a celebrity hairstyle. People thought I was a fool. I loved that mullet. I used to blow dry it, comb it, fondle it and even use hairspray. That’s right, I used to use hairspray (I can’t believe that I have confessed to that – don’t laugh; I’m baring my soul here).

And then came that fateful day when I visited my stylist. She was on holiday and one of the young pretenders took her place. The year was 1988.

“Shall I square this off for you?” she said sweetly.

“Of course,” said I, having switched off my brain.

She took the scissors and destroyed my mullet. I stared in stupefied shock as my blond locks tumbled down onto the floor.

“How’s that?” she said.

I should have screamed “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?”

I squeaked “Yes, that’s terrific thanks”

It was a turning point. My hair became short and has stayed that way ever since.

Many men my age regard my hair with envious eyes. I have a full head of curly, unmanageable hair that has darkened with age. If I let it grow it literally explodes. One day it is short, the next it has become a blond afro. These days I have to go to get it cut so often that I simply go the barber who, for a small price, cuts it down to size with scissors and a razor. I am still in shock about the loss of my mullet, even though people tell me that she did me an enormous favour. I was happy with that mullet – it was like losing a pet.

I have said in a previous post that I will not use products, but Mrs PM insists that I use wax to placate my rampant locks. Hair wax is horrible stuff and I avoid it when I can, sneaking out of the house before Mrs PM can spot me unleashing my bushiness onto the world at large.

I have suffered because of my hair; cruel children and adults have called me a variety of names over the years – each one related to the shape, colour and sheer volume of my thick unmanageable hair. Here are some of them:

Hair Bear




Boggy (as in bog-brush head)

A couple of years ago I heard some of the young lads at the office humming the theme from Shaft whenever I walked past. One of them confessed that they called me “The White Shaft”.

Oh the shame.

Still, I have come to terms with my hair in recent years. I still hate it and it still hates me but we have a non-aggression pact between us. I have the upper hand. If it gets ideas above its station I just threaten to bring back the mullet.

Sunday 21 September 2008

The Things You Do For Love

I am going to do something I promised myself I wouldn’t do: show you a photo of the Plastic Mancunian.

I had decided not to do allow my ugly mug on this blog in case it scared the children. However, in this case I feel it is necessary to highlight the subject matter of the post.

It all started two or three years ago when Mrs PM decided to augment her self-taught amateur photography skills by joining a local evening class. Off she would go every Wednesday, armed with her digital SLR camera and a bucket of enthusiasm. She would return with a huge smile on her face and stories about the people on the course, the topics being covered and some of the new techniques she had learned. I would dutifully walk around with her as she wondered around taking photos of absolutely anything. And she was good – very good.

And then came that fateful day.

She returned home looking perplexed.

“What’s the matter?” I said.

“I have to take photos in the studio at the college.” she replied. “It has to be of a person with the theme Style With Attitude. I’m stuck.”

Being the devoted partner that I am we discussed how she could achieve this. Being into rock music in a big way, I suggested that as a theme. I picked up last month’s copy of “Classic Rock” magazine and said

“Take a look through this. Rock musicians have style and enough attitude to terrify an army of robots. You’ve got all sorts in there.”

In fact there was a picture of Gene Simmons from Kiss in his glory days of the seventies, full of make-up and showing the entire world how long his tongue was.

“What about him?” I said.

“Brilliant!” she replied.

And then it happened.

“Will you do it?” she squeaked.

“Absolutely not.” I replied. “There is absolutely no way that I am putting on makeup. There is absolutely no way that I am sitting in a studio looking like an arse. There is absolutely no way that I am allowing you to take photos of me covered in black and white paint to show your friends.”

I was resolute. I was determined. My mind was made up. I would not do it.

Ten minutes later we were discussing how to apply the makeup to my face.

I don’t know what it is about females but they have this way of persuading men to do whatever they want. I don’t even recall saying “Okay – I’ll allow you to make a complete arse of me.”

As the fateful day approached, I discovered three things.

First, there was a former work colleague of mine, Martin, on her course. My attempt to keep this little project a secret would therefore be blown out of the water.

Second, I naively thought that if she had the studio for three hours we could apply the make up there, take the photos and then I could remove the makeup and go. Wrong again. She needed the full three hours to set up the lighting, familiarize herself with the equipment and take hundreds of photos, most of which would be discarded. I would have to have the makeup applied at home and get to the studio in full view of everybody.

Third, the studio session was booked for Wednesday night, which meant that the college would be full of students, and worse, my former work colleague would be there.

On the day, I left work early and arrived home in trepidation. Mrs PM sat there for almost an hour painting my face. I could hear the cats sniggering – treacherous felines that they are.

After she had finished, she was so proud that I couldn’t express my true feelings. I stared at myself in the mirror and almost passed out with embarrassment. When I put on the black wig, I almost frightened myself to death.

Thankfully, Mrs PM wouldn’t let me put on my glasses in case it smudged the makeup so on the journey to the college so I was oblivious to the stares I was getting. Mrs PM kept sniggering all the way there (a full fifteen minute journey) because people were openly laughing at me.

When we arrived at the college, Mrs PM led me through the crowded foyer and up three flights of stairs. We arrived at the studio and found the door locked. Mrs PM said

“Wait there – I need to get the key. I won’t be long.”

She left me standing there in a crowded corridor for ten minutes, with seemingly hundreds of people walking past and trying not to laugh. Some people actually spoke to me.

“Where’s the fancy dress party?”

“Are you the Joker?”

“Are you ill?”

“Very good. Is it Hallowe’en?”

After an eternity, she returned and said “Martin’s here. He wants to see you in your makeup.”

“Martin can f**k off” I snarled.

I discovered that we were actually sharing the studio with another female student whose idea of style with attitude was to photograph her friend in a variety of delightful poses. All that separated the two girls from Mrs PM and the monster was a black curtain. The other student peered around the curtain and said “Hiya” to Mrs PM before saying “Bloody Hell!” the instant she saw me. I must have scared her half to death.

For the next three hours. Mrs PM barked instructions at me, making me snarl, pose, headbang, grimace, leap up and down. The other two girls in the studio were laughing not so much at my face but at the way Mrs PM was saying “Snarl at me, baby. SNARL!! YOU’RE ANGRY – SHOW IT!!!”

At the end I grabbed Mrs PM’s bag of makeup remover and ran to the disabled toilets to remove the gunk from my face. There was no way I was going to let Martin see me like this.

Guys, have ever tried to remove makeup? It is impossible. I spent about half an hour scrubbing my face with goo. The black and white makeup blurred into a putrid grey colour that made me look like death warmed up. Mrs PM knocked on the door – “Are you OK in there?”

“Yes,” I grimaced, scrubbing my face with the toilet brush in desperation.

Finally I managed to get it all off – or so I thought.

I returned to Mrs PMs class and shook hands with Martin (who I hadn’t seen for a while). By this time, Mrs PM had shown the entire class the photos and they had been well received. Martin laughed, but only when I closed my eyes – I had left black makeup on my eyelids. Also my face was red raw where my attempts to get rid of the makeup had actually removed flesh.

Of course, now everybody has seen the photos. In fact, one of the photos was blown up to three feet square and hung up in the canteen. How embarrassing. The good news is that you cannot really tell that it is me in the photos. My hair is short and blond and I wear glasses. People have remarked “Is that really you?”

That’s another reason why I have decided to post the photos. Here are a couple of them (including the one that was blown up):

For those of you who have never seen Gene Simmons in his full glory, here he is:

Can you spot the difference?

Mrs PM has now given up the course but still takes lots of photographs – of other things thankfully.

I’m pleased with that – I have only just recovered. I’m sure there’s still makeup somewhere on my face.

Saturday 20 September 2008

Embarrassing Moments - Music

I love music. I love music so much that when I am listening to a favourite song I tend to drift into a tiny world of my own. This is absolutely fine when I am alone in the house because I can crank up the volume and engulf myself in sonorous rapture.

My favourite genre is rock music and heavy metal, although I do like less aggressive music also. When listening to a fast loud rock anthem I punch the air in delight, play the air guitar if I can and sing along. This is a big problem; especially if I am driving a car.

About a year ago I was driving to work as usual when an absolute classic rock anthem exploded onto my car stereo.

“Oh YES!” I cried in my mobile haven and immediately joined in with the song. I was captured by the pounding drums, mesmerized by the wailing guitars, enthralled by the screaming vocals. As I drove along I moved my head in time with the music, screamed as the vocalist reached his crescendo, howled with the guitars and, when I pulled up at a traffic light, hauled out my air guitar and joined in with the guitarist while waiting for the lights to change colour.

It was then I realized that the occupants of the car in front had turned around to watch the show. In the back seat of that car, there were two young girls who were openly laughing and pointing. And being stupid, for a second I couldn’t understand the source of their merriment. So I turned around myself, thinking that there was something funny going on outside the car or behind me. When I spotted nothing out of the ordinary, the cogs finally rotated and my brain got itself into gear; they were laughing at me! Trapped in my car, with the lights still on red, I could do nothing. I accepted my embarrassment and waved at the girls. They waved back and continued to laugh so much that their car was shaking.

I wouldn’t mind if this was a one off. Once I arrived at work and one of my colleagues came up to me and said “I was driving in front of you. Are you OK?”

“Of course,” I said. “Why do you ask?”

“Well you looked as if you were in pain,” he replied.

I realised then that I had been listening to a Judas Priest CD and my “pain” was probably me howling along with Rob Halford.

The embarrassment is not limited to just cars, though.

I loathe shopping, particularly grocery shopping in a supermarket. I hate it so much that I need a distraction. I use my mp3 player. I have a wonderful pair of headphones that mask out every decibel of external noise thus providing me with a totally untainted reproduction of all my music. I love them – but they conspire against me.

On one occasion, I was busily pushing a shopping trolley around my local Tesco while listening to Rammstein in my mp3 player. If you don’t know Rammstein, they are a German rock band who are very loud and very heavy; and they sing in German. And I know most of the words.

One of my favourite songs appeared as I approached the frozen food section and while I perused the various offerings, I was oblivious to my immediate environment. You can guess what happened.

It started with a hum.

Then a little muttering.

Then I broke into song.

There I was, rummaging through frozen vegetables in Tesco in South Manchester, singing (possibly at the top of my voice) - IN GERMAN:

Ich brauche Öl für Gasolin
explosiv wie Kerosin
mit viel Oktan und frei von Blei
einen Kraftstoff wie Benzin

I realized what was happening when I picked up my choice (frozen peas I think) and saw five or six people staring at me as if I had just arrived from Mars. I pulled off my headphones and, turning red, switched off my mp3 player and ran from the store in shame – no I didn’t really. I stupidly apologized and carried on shopping. I don’t know why I apologized actually – maybe for assaulting their eardrums.

I know I cannot sing; I once recorded myself singing a Rush song and instantly removed it. I sounded like a cat trying to sing Nessun Dorma while being strangled.

So why do I humiliate myself by singing in public? Of course I don’t mean to but I can’t help it. I need therapy, I think. I think I’ll go to see a specialist - but I must remember to leave my mp3 player at home.

Wednesday 17 September 2008

The Female Of The Species (Part Two) - Products

I am holding a tiny tube of goo that looks like toothpaste. On the tube it says “Exfoliant Visage Active Face Scrub”. The goo is white and it smells slightly of perfume. Mrs PM gave it to me a few months ago. I remember the conversation we had.

“What is it?” I said.

“A free sample I got when I bought some moisturiser,” she replied. “Take a closer look.”

I spotted two words that sent a shiver of dread through my entire body; “FOR MEN”

The fact that it was a free sample that came with moisturiser told me that it was a “product”; and Mrs PM thinks that it is time that I started using “products”.

At my age? Is she serious?

Thankfully she has forgotten about the tube of goo and it has gathered dust at the back of the bathroom cabinet safely hidden behind the million other “products” owned by Mrs PM. I have not used it yet and I have no intention of doing so. I am risking life and limb to write this post; if Mrs PM comes back and catches me holding the goo she will make me use it.

Anyway, the goo comes with a leaflet that tells me how to use it. I mean COME ON! It’s goo that, presumably, you rub on your face. How do I know? Because the name of the goo has the word “Face” in its description. As for the other words …

“Exfoliating” – I don’t even know what that word means. Hang on – I’ll look it up. Here we go. The verb “exfoliate” means “to remove in flakes or scales; to peel”. So this stuff is used to help me peel layers of skin from my face? And the stuff is described as “Face Scrub”? So does that mean that if I use it I will end up scrubbing layer after layer of flesh from my face? If I sit in the sun for three hours I can burn skin off my face – albeit two days later.

There is obviously some confusion on my part. Thankfully the tube of goo has a user guide for ignorant men like myself (because after all we are all thick aren’t we?). Here’s what it says:

(1) WHY? To give skin a fresh “new” feeling. Double action resurfacing and polishing microspheres lift impurities while Grindelia extract helps restore its natural balance.

What on earth are “polishing microspheres”? I feel like I’m reading the instructions for removing barnacles from the bottom of a boat. And what the hell is “Grindelia”? This is what Wikipedia says:

Grindelia is a genus of plants native to the Americas with bright yellow flowers indigenous to much of the United States. It is commonly called curlycup gumweed.

Curlycup Gumweed? Are they serious????

(2) WHEN? Use once or twice a week for clear healthy-looking skin. For all skin types.

I don’t even know what my skin type is. Pale white and a little wrinkly

(3) HOW? Apply to damp skin, avoiding the eye area. Gently smooth across skin without pulling. Rinse with warm water.

There is no way I would allow “polishing microspheres” to come within a foot of my eyes thank you very much.

Mrs PM’s bathroom cabinet most of our bedroom in fact are full of “products” and contraptions for applying the “products”. There are tweezers, scissors, plastic blobs, huge quantities of cotton wool and tons of makeup. There are bottles of liquids, tubes of gunk and all manner of sponges and even rocks (Yes guys – ROCKS!). Here is a small list of the gunk in our house:

Facial scrub, deep cleansing lotion, some kind of weird rock, shampoo, conditioner, mineral bath, body scrub, revitalising smoothing masque, deep cleansing clay masque, bath soak, baby lotion, eye make-up solvent, alcohol-free toner, body lotion, toning cream, lip balm, complete care day cream, moisture surge treatment, turnaround cream, deodorants (plural!), all-in-one face base, face brush, blush, make-up base, eye shadow, eye liner, mascara, various odd sized and shaped sponges, lipsticks (hundreds of them), cream shadow, sun cream, perfume (again hundreds of them), styling mousse, energising body spray, firming cream, bust beauty lotion, hair gel, hair wax, hair spray and a mud mask.

And that's only a partial list!

What's worse is that I can't even begin to tell you what most of these things are actually for. What on earth would you use turnaround cream for? Whenever I think about it my imagination runs amok.

If Mrs PM had her way she would have me using the new “products” that cosmetic companies are trying to shame men into using.

But I don’t want to. I don’t want to exfoliate my face with scrubbing cream. I don’t want to moisturize my crow’s feet with a rock. I don’t want to use turnaround cream or expose my flesh to a moisture surge. I have survived 45 years without them and I plan to do so for the next 45 years, by which time I will no longer care whether my face looks like an explosion in a wrinkle factory.

Anyway, I’d better go and hide this goo before Mrs PM gets back, otherwise I may be posting next time with an exfoliated face, in which case you probably won’t recognise me.

Monday 15 September 2008

We're All Living In America

I have a question: Is there some kind of election going on in the United States at the moment? I’m just curious because British news has now relegated the trials and tribulations of our Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, to a supporting slot. Instead, headline news in the United Kingdom seems to consist of four people from America making speech after speech after speech after speech.

Who are these people? Why should I, as a resident of England, need to listen to their petty political bickering?

Well I shall answer these questions in this post for the benefit of my fellow countrymen.

The protagonists are:

Barack Obama, Joe Biden, John McCain and Sarah Palin.

So who are they?

Barack Obama is the first ever African American to be nominated for president. He is the Democrat party presidential candidate and has a smile that could blind an entire Republican convention. At the tender age of 47 he is considered by many to be the new JFK – that doesn’t mean he is taking over an airport in New York. He seems to have a thing for pigs that wear lipstick.

John McCain is the Republican party candidate. He is a little older than Barack Obama and he is of course white. That’s wrong – he is much older than Obama. And you’ll never guess what – he is a war hero. That’s right, he was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam for five and a half years, something he doesn’t like to talk about at all and in no way would he use this for political gain. He should be enjoying his retirement.

Joe Biden is Barack Obama’s running mate and he is not Hilary Clinton. Who is he then? He comes from Scranton, the town famous (at least in the UK) for “The Office: An American Workplace” – for my fellow Brits, that is the American equivalent of our very own “The Office” – it is very funny.

Sarah Palin is from Alaska. She is 44 years of age and is John McCain’s running mate. Apparently she thinks that she is a pit bull with lipstick. She likes hunting and is a creationist. She’s not bad looking actually and I’m sure that John McCain hasn’t selected her just for that reason. He did, after all, meet her once.

Why should I as a resident of England listen to their political bickering?

I do not know why the BBC and ITV media choose to make these people headline news. Not content with listening to Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton tearing strips out of each other for most of 2008, we now have to suffer Barack Obama and John McCain with the other two chipping in.

I just want to hear the outcome. Why not just let us know in November? I know that Americans are fiercely patriotic and this comes to the fore when American politicians rally support. In the UK we are more subtle about it. In America we hear quotes like:

Barack Obama: “My friends we live in the greatest nation in the history of the world. I hope you’ll join with me as we try to change it”

John McCain: “I'm going to fight to make sure every American has every reason to thank God, as I thank Him: that I'm an American, a proud citizen of the greatest country on earth.”

Personally I prefer the fun quotes when these guys are caught off guard:

Barack Obama: “I’ve now been in 57 states – I think one left to go”

John McCain: “Thanks for the question, you little jerk” (when asked by a student if he was too old to be president).

John McCain: "[Sarah Palin] knows more about energy than probably anyone else in the United States of America. ... And, uh, she also happens to represent, be governor of a state that's right next to Russia.”

Barack Obama: "Let me introduce to you the next President -- the next Vice President of the United States of America, Joe Biden."

In the UK, we mock our politicians mercilessly. I would like to hope that Americans do as well. From what I’ve seen of the speeches, there is enough material to keep satirists busy for the years to come.

From my own standpoint, I would vote for Barack Obama if I were American simply because I fear more of the same from John McCain. George W Bush is not popular in the UK. But despite being elected twice (what were you thinking guys?) I will miss him as president – but only because of his flawless ability to make gaffe after gaffe after gaffe when speaking. It is very scary that this man has been so powerful for the last eight years.

Here are some of my favourites:

"We spent a lot of time talking about Africa, as we should. Africa is a nation that suffers from incredible disease."

“You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test.''

"I know what I believe. I will continue to articulate what I believe and what I believe — I believe what I believe is right."

"I wish you'd have given me this written question ahead of time so I could plan for it…I'm sure something will pop into my head here in the midst of this press conference, with all the pressure of trying to come up with answer, but it hadn't yet….I don't want to sound like I have made no mistakes. I'm confident I have. I just haven't — you just put me under the spot here, and maybe I'm not as quick on my feet as I should be in coming up with one."

"There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again."

And my all time favourite:

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."

I will finish off by saying that I love America. I have visited the country many times.

New York is a fabulous city and my heart went out to the US on September 11th 2001. Mrs PM and I spent a delightful New Year there in 1999 and my only regret was not going to the top of the incredible World Trade Center. My fear of heights got the better of me on that occasion, sadly. I’ve been to New Orleans, Washington DC, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta, Miami, Orlando, Williamsburg and of course, the centre of the gambling universe, Las Vegas itself. I have loved every place, including less obvious cities like Tulsa and Cleveland.

I will visit America again – Hawaii is on my list and I would love to go to places like Boston and Seattle.

I have been made welcome in every single place and had deep and meaningful conversations with many Americans, when on business and on holiday, sorry, vacation.

That said, I do dislike the hype that surrounds the American elections. It is more like a stage performance than an election. I will be glad when it is over and when we can begin to see British stories when the news starts again. As a proud British citizen I regard my own country as the greatest in the world - mainly because we have the ability to laugh at ourselves, we have silly town names like Sheepscar, Catbrain, Netherwallop and Wetwang and we do not take ourselves seriously.

Good luck to all US candidates and let’s hope Barack Obama makes history. I will see you on my next visit across the pond.

I’m off to watch the news now to learn more about the cosmetics used by pigs and pit bulls.

Sunday 14 September 2008

The Curse Of Libra

Many people ask me, “Why are you such an arse?”

I ignore that question.

Other people ask me, “Why can’t you make a decision?”

Mrs PM usually answers that for me: “Because he’s a Libran”.

Personally I have always struggled with astrology because I find it difficult to believe that every day one twelfth of the population suffer the exact same trauma.

Here’s my horoscope for today (snatched from a random internet astrology site):

"It may be difficult to find employment now; perhaps you are ill"

How mad is that? What does it mean exactly? Who the hell cares?

Mrs PM believes in this nonsense and reads my horoscope to me every day, interpreting the phrase “No, I do not want to know my horoscope” as “Yes please. Tell me what fate has in store for me today”.

She also believes that I am a typical Libran.

Here are some of the personality traits of every human being born between September 24th and October 23rd:

(1) Librans are diplomatic – I suppose I am diplomatic. For example, when introduced to a truly ugly person, I don’t say “AARRGGHH! Phone the zoo – one of their gorillas has escaped”.

(2) Librans are polite– I suppose I am polite. I don’t lick gravy off the plate and I don’t eat steak with a chisel.

(3) Librans are charming – Mrs PM might disagree with this one. I can be charming but I can also be downright anti-social, particularly to humans.

(4) Librans are romantic – I am romantic, although when I buy flowers for Mrs PM, she usually says “What have you done?”

(5) Librans are easygoing – This is true. I do like to take a chilled out approach to life.

(6) Librans love art – I positively HATE art – well modern art anyway (read about it here).

(7) Librans appreciate beauty – I love beauty, particularly female beauty. I’ve had to cut down on commenting on this though, particularly in front of Mrs PM. I don’t like pain.

(8) Librans are sensitive – I am sensitive. I’ve lost count of the number of films I’ve cried at. Now don’t laugh because I am baring my soul here – I blubbed like a baby when I first saw Star Trek II – The Wrath Of Khan. And I cry every single time. Imagine what I am like when I see films like Titanic and Ghost?

I also admit to being indecisive. I really have to weigh up the consequences of every single choice because I hate making the wrong decision. I hate upsetting people and tear my soul apart trying to find the right choice to please everybody.

I have just returned from a business trip in South Africa, with a female colleague. At the end of a hard day, we returned to our hotel and met up for our evening meal. There was a choice of restaurants. The conversation went something like this:

ME: What do you fancy eating?

MY COLLEAGE: I don’t know. What do you fancy eating?

ME: I don’t know. It’s up to you. What would you like?

MY COLLEAGUE: I’ll have whatever you choose. What would you like?

ME: I don’t know. What do you think?

MY COLLEAGUE: I’ll have whatever you prefer. What do you prefer?

ME: I don’t know. By the way, are you Libran?


In fact, that is just a snippet of the conversation. We stood outside three or four restaurants for a good twenty minutes being totally indecisive. When we finally made a decision, we sat in the restaurant for a further hour, deciding what to eat. I pointed out that Librans were supposed to be indecisive and she agreed that she was. In fact, our personalities were very similar, uncannily so.

So it may be that I am a typical Libran. And that disturbs me. Why? Because if all Librans are the same then I share the same personality traits as a politician that I positively despise: Margaret Thatcher.

Yes, I share the same personality traits as Attila the Hen; a woman famous for being selfish, having no compassion and ruling the country with a rod of steel. She would be my nemesis.

So given the evidence, I’ll leave you to decide whether I am a true Libran or not. I can’t.