Sunday, 13 June 2010

The Penguin

Those of you with a nervous disposition should stop reading now.

Those brave fools who have chosen to continue, be warned: there is a photograph of me at the end of this post.

Why have I chosen to do this now, after a couple of year’s blogging?

Mrs PM thinks that the image you are about to see is “nice” and has encouraged me to share it with the world. I think she must have an ulterior motive.

Personally, I have a problem with the picture. It’s nothing to do with the fact that it might leave any readers distressed. The problem is that I look like James Bond – not the real James Bond, obviously.

Imagine if you will Daniel Craig’s version of James Bond, otherwise known as “James Blond”, a very good looking man (so Mrs PM says) with a lot of sex appeal and a “magnificent body”. I wouldn't know!

Consider what would happen if this James Bond caught a nasty virus that mutated his hair into an uncontrollable mop of straw.

Imagine him ageing twenty years and letting his superlative body transform into a blubbery mess.

Add into the mix a flock of rabid parrots bent on savaging his handsome countenance, followed by botched reconstructive surgery performed by an inebriated Z-list cosmetic surgeon who is high on crack.

Add a pair of spectacles stolen from Harry Hill.

Finally, imagine 007 giving up his vodka martinis in favour of several gallons of Monster Gut Wobbling Brown Ale and Guinness.

You now have “The Penguin”, i.e. me.

Why am I calling myself “The Penguin” (as opposed to an orang-utan in a suit)? Allow me to explain.

I’ve never understood why I certain functions demand that guests dress up like a dog’s dinner. In short, I have a problem with “dress codes”.

As a young buffoon in his twenties, I used to hate dressing up in order to enjoy a night club experience with my friends.

“Why can’t I just wear jeans?” I used to wail.

“Because the bouncers won’t allow you into The Ritz, you moron,” my friends would reply.

In the 80’s, we used to go to The Ritz, a cheesy night club where foolish young dolts like myself would end up on the odd Saturday night, the aim being to we could drink ourselves stupid, dance into the wee small hours and at the same time trying to attract the attentions of any female drunk enough to take an interest in us. Beer goggles were the order of the day and some of us had a modicum of success (even me). There were numerous other similar establishments whose doors were manned by Neanderthals with the IQ of a retarded slug. These creatures were known as bouncers and had one single instruction: “No jeans!”.

Most of them dressed in tuxedos and bow ties and, to me at least, looked like gorillas. None of them had necks and were blessed with the charm of an angry grizzly bear. Diplomacy was absent (most had never heard of the word let alone being able to spell it).

Being a bit of an anarchist, I used to challenge these people by purposely wearing jeans.

Meathead: You can’t come in.

PM: Why not?

Meathead: No jeans.

PM: Why can’t I wear jeans?

Meathead: No jeans.

PM: Hello! Is there anybody in that colossal bloody skull of yours? Why can’t I come into your establishment with jeans?

Meathead: No jeans.

PM: Do you think that jeans turn me into a hooligan who is going to destroy this crappy night club?

Meathead: No jeans.

PM: So if I go home and change into my best trousers and shirt and then return here, will you let me in?

Meathead: Yes

PM: Why?

Meathead: No jeans.

On one occasion, I actually went home, changed into clothes that satisfied the dress code and then returned. And the meathead bouncer refused to let me in, because I had had the nerve to question his mantra in the first place.

Looking back, I was an idiot because I could have ended up on the receiving end of a savage beating. My problem was that I simply wanted to challenge these idiotic rules; I was an anarchist and I hated bullies – I still do in fact.

Weddings and funerals had the same effect. There is an unwritten rule that all those attending weddings must wear suits and ties (apart from the ladies of course). I have complied simply because I respected the decisions of the bride and groom and didn’t want to offend them. When I got married way back in 1988, I actually suggested to my ex-wife that we defy tradition and turn up with jeans, trainers and T-shirts. You can imagine her response – suffice it to say that I almost ended up dumped before the wedding took place.

Funerals too are similar. Not only must you wear a suit, out of respect; you must also wear black. I hate funerals because they are such awfully depressing events. I can to a certain extent understand that we are mourning the loss of a loved one, but surely a funeral could be seen as a great way to celebrate the fabulous life of the person. Why wear black? Wouldn’t it be better to talk about how wonderful the dear departed was and enjoy great stories and memories? Of course, people will be sad but it would be nice to recall happier events and make the occasion a colourful one.

Maybe I am just weird in that respect, though I have heard of funeral attendees being urged not to wear black and to try to make the event a celebration of the person’s life. These days, particularly at football matches, when a famous icon dies, like Sir Bobby Robson for example, we no longer have a minute’s silence before football matches; instead we have a minute’s applause. I welcome such sentiments and I would love my funeral to be an event that involved laughter as well as the inevitable tears. Maybe some of my crazy blog posts could be read out by friends.
Another aspect of dress code that annoys me is the written rule that employees of companies must wear suits.

Why must we wear suits?

I am a software engineer, somebody who sits in front of a PC all day trying to persuade computers to behave themselves. I sometimes have exposure to customers but the majority of the time I am working like an angry beaver, swearing at my screen and pummelling my keyboard like a man possessed, cursing my own incompetence and questioning the parenthood of the software.

I feel comfortable in jeans and a T-shirt, as do most of my fellow employees; why should I have to wear a shirt and tie? Most of the time, I have absolutely nobody to impress. It is craziness personified. Recently, thankfully, my company has relaxed the dress code – but not sufficiently in my opinion. We are allowed to “dress down” on Fridays, paying a suitable sum to charity. However, there is a “dress down” dress code, which means that, for example, I cannot wear a football shirt and, strictly speaking, I am not allowed to wear a T shirt with the logo of a rock band on front, for example. Why not? It is utter madness. Sadly it is typical of the corporate nonsense that surrounds us all.

Am I alone with these anarchistic views?

Anyway, back to the Penguin.

In the past couple of years I have been invited to a couple of events that require “black tie”. The first was a New Year’s Eve ball and when Mrs PM mentioned it to me, I said (like a total idiot):

“I’ve got a black tie, I think. If not I’ll pop out and buy one.”

After Mrs PM had stopped laughing, she explained to me, as if I were a five year old child, that “black tie” meant a tuxedo, bow tie, frilly shirt, cufflinks, cummerbund and trousers with silk braids.

“What the hell is a cummerbund?” I asked.

“One of those pleated black sashes that blokes wear around their waists.”

I had never heard of one and I simply do not see the point of them - unless it disguises beer guts.

I wanted to just wear a normal suit but Mrs PM forced me to dress up like a fat penguin for the first time. Rather than buying a suit, I rented one, convinced that this would be a one off.
It took me ages to get ready for this ball; I was so slow that Mrs PM beat me by a good hour and sat there tutting as I struggled with my bloody cummerbund and bow tie.

Unfortunately, I have been invited to several more of these balls since, the last one being on our recent cruise. This particular formal night was worse because had I refused to wear black tie for the formal evening I would probably have been forced to eat burgers on the deck because the dining rooms were instructed to only allow penguins.

Rather than renting a tuxedo for such formal evenings, I have invested in a penguin suit complete with all the trimmings and can now dress up like a slob in a tuxedo whenever I want to. I’m not happy about it but it is cost effective and Mrs PM insists that we continue to attend these formal events.

Consequently, my anarchistic tendencies are much less powerful these days, thanks to Mrs PM savaging any attempts at non-conformity and revolution by threatening to reshape my head with a cricket bat. I abhor violence so I tend to submit to her wishes.

Anyway, below is a picture of me, wearing a tuxedo on the cruise and once again I apologise to those of a nervous disposition. If you have nightmares you can blame Mrs PM.

Assuming you have returned from the toilet and are still reading, I can tell you that, while I do look like a fat and decrepit version of 007 in the picture, I did try to make a stand by wearing an Iron Maiden T-shirt under my shirt until Mrs PM spotted Eddie’s insane face staring out and made me take it off.

Foiled once more by my missus! I would have got away with it had it not been for that pesky Mrs PM.

Thankfully she didn’t spot my Deep Purple underpants – so the moral victory is mine.

Bring on Batman – the Penguin is ready for anarchy!!


Mind Of Mine said...

I could not agree with your remarks regarding formal wear occassions. I have actually avoided social events/birthdays etc because the venue had a strict dress code.

I was a grooms man at my brothers wedding and as soon the reception was started I ran back upto my room and got dressed in to my civies.

My funeral will have a strict NO dress code.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Mind of Mine,

I have been known to get changed during weddings too - for me, comfort is the key and I still feel like a berk when dressed up.




River said...

You do yourself an injustice Plasman. That photo shows a nice looking man, not at all fat.
I agree that people who don't interact with the public should not have to wear suits and ties to work. I worked for many years in factories where we could wear what we liked, now I'm at Coles, it's uniform everyday.
How is it that you've never heard of a cummerband before?

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi River,

I'm not fat - I am simply fatter than James Bond. What's more, I am fatter now than when that photo was taken (the first day of the cruise just before I gorged myself stupid).

I had never heard of a cummerband because before then I had never had to wear a tux before.

Despite my so-called "intelligence" I can sometimes be very naively stupid.




Anonymous said...

Okay The first thing I did before reading is scrolled to the end of the post because I'm v-e-r-y curious. And you know what? As I read your blog I thought you're long, thin-faced skeleton with horrible middle-sized yellow hair. In fact you seem to have a nice figure for your age - not that fat and not that thin and your hair are done well too. Oh and tuxedo suits you nicely too. Sorry if that was too honest.
In fact I hate formal clothes too including costumes of any type. Oh and to make tit worse - here's how I looked at my wedding:

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Aluajala,

My hair is under strict control at the moment because I keep it short. If I were to let it grow unchecked, you would see that your initial thoughts were true.

As I said to River, I am kind of okay in size for my age but the problem is too much food piles on the pounds exponentially.

Plus, you have no idea how diificult it is to keep the gut sucked in for the duration of a photo...




bingkee said...

At last you posted a photo of yourself. I always envisioned you as one looking like your avatar with a huge tummy---because you kept saying you are "fat."

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Bingkee,

I'm not exactly "fat" but definitely overweight. My Wii tells me ...




Kath Lockett said...

Not too shabby, PlasMan, not too shabby at all!

Plastic Mancunian said...

G'Day Kath,

I should hope not - that's my best suit.




Cat J B said...

I could possibly mistake you for 007 if I squnich my eyes shut and peer through my lashes. Not too bad.

My hubby is a software engineer too and has similar issues with formal wear.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Cat,

I'm not sure it is a trait of software engineers to hate formal wear because I know one or two who positively relish the prospect of becoming a penguin.

When I look at that photo with my eyes closed I can see 007 - in my mind's eye ...




An Eerie Tapestry said...

Agree with you about the pointless need to dress up for various things. I've also got a black suit that very rarely gets worn. Fortunately, I've not got a cummerband, which judging by the picture makes it look like your trousers are up way too high.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Mark,

I think Simon Cowell must have worn a cummerband ...