Friday, 27 February 2009

Thematic Photographic 38 - Winter (the end of)

I love Carmi's pictures, but this is the first time in ages that I've actually found myself with some free moments to go out with the ol' camera.

I think this counts as a winter shot, certainly it is still February, and therefore still winter in the northern hemisphere.

I know it's not very wintery, and I'll bet the thematic photographic purists will have me up against the wall when the revolution comes, but it made me feel lovely on a day when I was feeling low.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

There is nothing worse than...

A few years ago I ran an on-line survey titled "There is nothing worse than...". More recently I continued the theme on a blog, which I have now discontinued.

However this is the best of the list. Some of them are, well, a bit crazy. Hope you enjoy them, you may want to add to them, or you may just want to cry. I'll admit it, some of them were written by me (the really funny ones of course).


  1. ...being served fish and chips by a lady with 9 false nails. *Crunch*
  2. ...those word "verification" images that you have absolutely no chance of interpreting.
  3. ...being just beaten to the bar by people that then proceed to faff.
  4. ...telling the checkout lady that no, you don't need help packing, and then spending minutes fiddling with the plastic bag and being completely unable to open it.
  5. ...the sound of nail clippers. Is it just me, or is this one of the most terrible sounds?!
  6. ...being told I looked "lost" in Blockbuster. I wasn't lost, I was just browsing. Dagnammit.
  7. ...picking an apparently innocuous scab and nearly bleeding to death.
  8. ...finding that your banana and kiwi have been obliterated at the bottom of your bag.
  9. ...when people put library books upside down on the shelf.
  10. ...walking up and down the end-of-aisle lane in Sainsbury's trying to find the quickest-looking queue, and ignoring the "basket-only" queues because they are huge, and then watching the "basket-only" queue disappear within seconds as you are trapped behind fumblers and dawdlers.
  11. ...sharing a busy commuter carriage with a small child and his robin redbreast whistle, I mean, seriously, what kind of parent gives out robin redbreast whistles? It goes without saying that that little child was relentless in their whistle blowing. Relentless.
  12. ...people who hold up the commuters by standing IN the ticket barrier trying to find their ticket.
  13. ...discovering that you have been walking down the street flying low, and wondering how many people noticed.
  14. ... the 'toothpaste cough', the awful tickly cough you sometimes get after brushing your teeth at night.
  15. ...walking back and forth in front of an automatic door like a loony trying to get out the shop before being told by a staff worker that it is broken.
  16. ...forgetting on numerous shopping trips whether you have any toothpaste and ending up with 9 tubes in the bathroom cupboard.
  17. ...sneezing on a full bladder whilst pregnant and wearing light trousers.
  18. ...being pooped on by a pigeon, and knowing that the people behind on the platform observed it all. What could I do but stand there quietly, pretending nothing had happened, grimacing as I felt it trickling down the back of my head.
  19. ...hoovers. I hate the things in every way. The way they get caught on everything, the way the lead always runs out of length. The way they remind you how dusty everything gets in just a week. The way they always need emptying.
  20. ...losing my glasses and being unable to see clearly enough to find them, scrambling around the flat like a mole.
  21. ...battling in vain with a supermarket's self-service system as it fails to recognise every other item you throw at it, while a crowd of impatient customers wait behind you, grumbling and snorting with impatience and frustration.
  22. ...a bad Thursday.
  23. toilet paper in an expensive hotel (you'd expect quilted...).
  24. ...taking a bath mat to the gym (grabbed in a hurry because it looks like a towel) instead of a towel
  25. ...having to struggle through a minute and half of awkward polite conversation in a lift with someone just because you both know you're from the same office.
  26. ...heading down the local bakery to buy fresh croissants for breakfast, and then finding it closed because it is Good Friday.
  27. ...forking out 83 pence on a can of Coke and then finding you don't have quite enough change for the ticket machine. And why 83 pence?!
  28. ...going against your wife's advice that the 'large chips' was too large, and then failing miserably to finish the large chips.
  29. ...walking past an empty fish and chip shop on the way to a cash machine, heading back with some cash to find that it has filled up with tourists.
  30. ...waiting (starving) in the supermarket queue for 10 minutes just buy a Mars, while surrounded by posters boasting at being the first self-service supermarket in Britain (neglecting to explain why it is not self-service enabled now, or why there are so few till staff).
  31. ...washing up sieves, the way tiny pieces of food grip stubbornly to the tiny holes. Who would have thought that such a useful tool as the sieve would be such a stressful thing to clean? I simply refuse to wash them up anymore.
  32. ...being repeatedly rung up by a kitchen company because you got a quote 6 months ago, even though you have repeatedly told them that you now have a kitchen (which you are very pleased with), and even though you have repeatedly demanded that they ring you no more.
  33. ...babysitting a hyperactive child with a tin whistle.
  34. ...being chased barefooted across a field of upturned plugs by a mad dog.
  35. ...trying to read a broadsheet in an overcrowded train.
  36. ...burning my last chicken and mushroom pie to a cinder whilst browsing this website...
  37. ...having to replace your torch batteries on a dark night.
  38. ...asking someone to repeat the question for the third time.
  39. ...eating ash for dinner after cooking a microwave meal for half as long as it said on the pack.
  40. ...a screaming child in the quiet coach on the train home on a Friday.
  41. ...being unable to check you're "clean" after a nose blow in a public place.
  42. ...finding on Monday that you didn't empty your lunch box of yoghurt, over ripe fruit, and cheese on Friday.
  43. ...minding your own business on your bike and crashing and burning in front 200 school girls. (this story is actually covered here)
  44. ...feeling "that" pang in your bowels.
  45. ...having an over-active, needy, and huggy child be in your way when you're desperate to empty your bladder.
  46. ... trying to find oyster sauce in a supermarket.
  47. ...trying to explain what "refined kidney beans" are to a confused local shop owner who first and second languages aren't English.
  48. ...ever-so-slightly-off coleslaw.
  49. ...splash back.
  50. ...brushing your shoulders...straightening your tie...doing up your jacket...and then tripping over a loose paving slab.
  51. ... lots of wee on the seat of a public loo.
  52. ...getting a nose bleed while rushing to leave the house and wearing a white jumper.
  53. ...losing my glasses and being unable to see clearly enough to find them.
  54. ...trying to find a pen in a hurry.
  55. ...being desperate for the loo in town, and knowing that most public loos will be closed due to vandals or tomfoolery, and any that aren't closed should be for hygiene and safety reasons - as we all know there is nothing worse than British public loos anyway, except Ukrainian public loos, but that is another story...
  56. ...walking up a steep stony beach.
  57. ...walking into locked 'push' doors in full view of other people.
  58. ...grit under a contact lens.
  59. ...being bitten by a gerbil.
  60. ...supermarket gift card selections.
  61. ...Gym membership.
  62. ...eating spaghetti bolognese at other people's houses.
  63. shops that don't order their CDs by genre.
  64. ... the piercing and reverberating sound of small children squealing in a subway.
  65. ...getting soap on my toothbrush and not realising till its too late.
  66. ... idiots on public transport that have nothing better to do than cycle through their polyphonic (bling - init) ring tones.
  67. ...trying to get melted cheese off a towel.
  68. ...a) catastrophically stubbing your bare vulnerable toe on a brutish hard metal object while getting ready. b) knowing that you'll sound lame if you say that's the reason why you're late.
  69. ... people who think the narrow staircases and walkways of the tube were made for them and their slow, meandering, walking pace.
  70. ...people who can't comprehend that the sound of an arriving tube might provoke some in the crowd behind them to want to hurry.
  71. ...being snotted on in public due to someone else's over zealous sneeze! and them not realising the trauma they've created! (actually happened)
  72. ...finding a pube on your desert at a friend's house.
  73. ...riding a bus to college in the early hours of the morning whist having to put up with loud, hyperactive children who are eating cheese and chives crisps.
  74. ... getting stuck in the bathroom in someone else's house.
  75. ...taking a bite of a fantastic steak and tomato sandwich, and then spilling tomato all down your front.
  76. ...trying to cut a well-cooked steak with a butter knife.
  77. ...dropping a bag containing 6 cartons of stinking UHT milk, which then splits, turning the kitchen floor into a foul lake of off milk.
  78. ...constantly almost sneezing, but never quite making it, a sort of sneezing constipation.
  79. ... going sky-diving and, when you pull the parachute cord, watching nothing but your brother's maths textbooks spill out of the opening in your back-pack.
  80. ...buying a new toothbrush and finding its handle is slightly wider than standard, and so doesn't fit in the bathroom's toothbrush holder...why oh why?
  81. ...waking up and thinking "I feel unusually refreshed for a Thursday morning...wait a second, it's far sunnier than usual, is this a Saturday? Wait, it is definitely not a Saturday, oh pants, I recognise that sinking feeling in my gut, I've overslept..."
  82. ...having a video project urgently due to be handed in and having the misfortune of asking technical assistance from a complete nincompoop who, after admitting that he has no idea how to use the editing program that you need help with, insists on spending half an hour trying to figure it out ON YOUR COMPUTER, masterfully humming and hawing his way through everything you've already tried while you sit there writhing and nodding your way through valuable minutes as you try and deduce a strategy to politely recapture your ravaged machine.
  83. ... subtitles that are just slightly too small to read without squinting.
  84. ...headaches caused by squinting to read small subtitles.
  85. ...attempting to drop some chewed gum into your bin, watching it miss and role out into the walkway in front of a passing colleague.
  86. ... taking your squash stuff down from the train luggage rack in the crowded rush hour and watching your spare boxers fall out into the aisle.
  87. ...taking a bite of an egg-mayonnaise sandwich and crunching a piece of egg shell.
  88. ...pedestrians that walk in front of you just as the light turns green.
  89. ...spitting while jogging and getting the spit back in your face.
  90. ...after-leak in summer trousers.
  91. ...getting the first part of a span text, then getting a message with 'Text missing'...
  92. ...jeans that chafe.
  93. ...itchy clothes labels.
  94. ...slow dramas with Robert Redford in.
  95. ...loos that not only have the light switch outside, but on a timer that is set for an unreasonably short time.
  96. ...trying to get women somewhere on time.
  97. mugs with handles so small you can't even use them properly.
  98. ...taking your jumper off in a public place and displaying your tummy.
  99. ...nails on the blackboard.
  100. ...trying to have a private and personal conversation with someone in a slightly-too-quiet-for-comfort cafe.
  101. ...being Humpty Dumpty.
  102. ...accidentally using someone else's toothbrush.
  103. ...forms that don't leave even close to enough space in the gaps.
  104. ...Martin Creed's exhibit which is a recording of Martin blowing raspberries into a microphone for 9 minutes at a volume loud enough to be heard around the entire floor of the Tate gallery and then repeated on circular.
  105. ... being unable to read the paper because of a loud argument about popodoms in the background.
  106. ...someone who has poor spacial awareness wearing a giant rucksack trying to navigate round a small and crowded coffee shop.
  107. ...getting my work pass tangled up in my keys every day
  108. ...being asked if you want anything else with your coffee when you only ordered a coffee because you only wanted a coffee!
  109. ...jumping out of your skin because an old man has crept up behind you and sung loudly in your ear.
  110. ...going to the bank to cash a cheque and getting served by a trainee on his first day on the job.
  111. ...running out of loo paper, and then finding that you have managed to buy kitchen roll at the local shop instead of loo paper!
  112. ...people that don't understand the concept of the queue, and who form a split in the queue causing all manner of confusion, and then seem to convince themselves that their queue is the right one.
  113. ...trying to find a tea spoon in a strange kitchen.
  114. ... a loo holder so far behind the loo that you have to swivel every time you need more.
  115. ...being unable to stop giggling in church after you bit into an orange piece and squirted the people in front of you.
  116. ...being unable to get the whole yoghurt lid off.
  117. ...being unable to wash your hands in the cinema toilets because the three basins are taken up by three chaps washing their feet (you don't believe me?!)
  118. ...people who chat to cashiers when there is a huge queue behind them.
  119. ...being made to feel stupid by a colleague for a tiny decision made under pressure in a week when the only staff with the required knowledge were on holiday and when any sane person would have made the same decision under the circumstances.
  120. ...leaving the house and then needing to go.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Mission Impossible (thanks Cactus)

Today's post is destined for disaster. My task, as outlined by San Diego Momma, and as set by Cactus Petunia, is to write a post "about Elvis, and a pink dressing gown, referencing Election Day 2012 and Madison Square Garden in NYC".

So in short, a recipe for disaster. Whatever follows (as I write, I don't yet know what will follow) will almost certainly be complete tosh, lack any ounce of sagacity, and If I get any points it will be simply for insanity.


It is Election Day 2012 (doesn't time fly!) already. Special Agent James Ostrich sped through New York on his mini-scooter, a man of the nicest scruples, but a man born with an inbuilt disposition towards the mismanagement of time.

It may not be his fault. I can offer a number of plausible explanations. Maybe he grew up in a house with no clocks. Maybe his house is resident to a mischievous poltergeist who perpetually sets the clocks back. Maybe he belongs to a strange cult that teaches that watches are "of the Devil". Most likely of all he simply is incapable of managing time. Twenty years on the job, twenty years of being late for work, why do such people torture themselves like that?

Anyway, he was late again.

Unfortunate enough to have the surname of Ostrich, he was even more unfortunate to have the general deportment of an ostrich. An ostrich in a mini-scooter race.

His latest assignment was to monitor an expected rendezvous in Madison Square Garden. Not that there was a rendezvous expected. It was merely a ploy by his superiors to get him out of the way during the election. The last thing Obama needs on the day of his re-election is to be knocked over by an ostrich on a mini-scooter. Actually, the last thing Obama needs is chronic diarrhea, but there was nothing Ostrich's superiors could do to prevent that.

Across town in an apartment overlooking Madison Square Garden, Elvis was preparing his escape. He had planning his escape for the last year, a tortuous year to say the least. A daily subjection to Hound Dog had almost driven him insane. Almost. Gathering together his last remaining threads of clarity, he forced open the door of his cage and hopped out. Though a small hamster, a strict exercise regime and healthy diet had given him an unnatural strength.

Snatching his owner's pink dressing gown, he ran and leaped out the window, the dressing gown functioning as a bright, towely parachute. Elvis had learnt that one from Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible 3. As he sailed out the window Elvis' owner ran into the room.


Ostrich, Elvis, the mini-scooter and the pink dressing gown tangled together in an unholy mess. Ostrich picked up the limp hamster and examined the name tag (yep, this little critter had a collar).

"My gosh," he said, "the King is dead."

Friday, 20 February 2009

The Old Lady's Death Grip

When I got onto the train the old lady was yakking. She had cornered the ticket inspector and was subjecting him to the most deadly form of torture known to man. Verbiage. Arguably I am subjecting you to that now, but never mind.

The poor chap was supposed to be walking down the train checking tickets. Instead, the old lady had him in a death grip, and out of her mouth came a relentless barrage of yak. She wasn't angry at him, she wasn't really angry at anyone, she was just spilling out a continual stream verbiage at an astonishing rate and intensity. For twenty minutes she continued. The poor inspector had the look of a man that is caught in the death grip of a merciless old lady and longs for only one thing, a quiet beer down his local.

The facts are simple. On Tuesday there was a suicide on the railway in London. On Wednesday there were two more. On both days the South-East ground to a halt. You can hardly blame the train companies, what were they supposed to do, pretend it didn't happen and plough over the corpse?

The old lady was caught in one of those infinite mental loops. Who committed suicide? Why? Why did it disrupt the trains? Who committed suicide? Why? What about CCTV? Who committed...

You know the type. Some people just get stuck in a loop. Their brain fuses and the result is an unbreakable grind of destructive proportions. She was able to keep speaking without even the slightest pause for breath (just like this woman). The only way to escape such loops is to run. If there had been a herd of donkeys nearby all their legs would have dropped off (just the hind ones of course).

Every commuter in the carriage was rolling their eyes. I swear I saw several disembodied eyeballs cruise down the aisle. I swear. Some were waiting to buy tickets. Commuters, not the eyeballs.

Twenty minutes later, at my destination, the old lady was still looping, wherever you looked eyeballs were escaping, it was like a jailbreak in a zombie movie. In one bold movie the ticket inspector broke free.

"I'll love you and leave you," he said, and literally ran away. The old lady alighted on the platform, and as I walked away I saw her corner the nearest member of station staff and the verbiage continued.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Who farts like THAT on a crowded train?

Munching through a steak and mushroom pie, a pint in one hand and a pen on the other, it doesn't seem so bad now and I've calmed down a bit. Everything is right with the world when you have a pie and a pint as companions.

I'll set the scene for you. Crowded commuter train on its way out of London. Packed with disgruntled commuters who have once again had their days ruined by the worst public transport system in Europe. Someone farts, a silent, potent, corrosive cloud of poisonous gas fills the carriage, helped to no end by the air conditioning system.

Seriously, who farts on a crowded train? Ruling out kids and elderly folk as there were none on board, one commuter must have broken the most golden of golden rules. YOU JUST DON'T FART. The trains are bad enough as it is, the last thing we need is for someone to let rip with all the gusto of a greedy piglet that has gorged itself on its mother's milk, and is now rolling around polluting the farmyard, angering the chickens and upsetting the geese.

OK, I ran away with that one, my literary flow has clearly been stunted by the stench. Either that or I'm just as mad as a coot.

There is nothing worse than a killer fart on a crowded train. Actually, splash back from a urinal minutes before an important meeting is worse, but that's a tale for another day.

It really was potent, permeating my brain and corroding my synapses with the precision of a master surgeon performing keyhole surgery on a stick insect. Passengers throughout the carriage were fanning themselves, shaking their heads in disbelief. One gentleman had pulled his coat over his face in an attempt to block out the fumes. There was an overwhelming sense of collective annoyance.

You would normally attribute such a smell to a flock of flatulent sheep, or a tribe of guffing Visigoths. I could see neither on the train. It is entirely possible that the Visigoths were disguised as London bankers, or the flock of sheep were hidden in the luggage rack, but I was unable to spot either.

Chances are some poor soul just ate too many dried apricots.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Surf + Beer (Wordless Monday)

I found this photo from last summer. A guy sailed by on his surfboard on the way to a BBQ carrying a crate of Carling.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Culinary Hooligans

I was on my way to the Robin Hood to celebrate a friend's birthday. My wife was already there. I had been working late and hadn't eaten. I did what every man does when left to fend for himself. I went for a burger. I went to Grubbs.

Grubbs is Brighton's best burger bar, England's best burger bar, the World's best burger bar. I would be inclined to suggest that it is the Universe's best burger bar. I went for a triple blue cheese burger. Seriously, why does "triple" only have one "p" but "nipple" have two? I blame the moles for that one.

Grubbs' window had been smashed the night before, and I walked to the Robin Hood seething with fury. I expressed this fury in conversation with a chap named Olly. I don't remember the exact contents of the rant, but it went something like this.

"What sort of culinary hooligan would smash the window of the greatest burger bar in town? It is nauseating to imagine the monumentally incognizant lunatic that would do such a thing. The mental gymnastics required to empathise with that behaviour are impossible. I tried a mental triple back flip across a balance bar and it just made my brain hurt. The perpetrator deserves to have their feet encased in a gigantic concrete burger and subjected to a series of brutal coordinated gherkin-throwing attacks."

"I do apologise," said Olly. "We had a drunken shopping trolley race last night and one of the trolleys went through the window."

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Conspiracy Theories that will Blow Your Mind

Most people don't know it, but I am a bit of a Sherlock when it comes to unravelling conspiracies. I have long been puzzled (well, not really puzzled, just momentarily perplexed) by the following theories.

1) The Infinite Grape Theory

The Infinite Grape Theory states that no matter how full you are you can always eat an infinite number of grapes.

I have tested this myself, gorging on a large bunch after a roast dinner fit for The Queen. I wasn't able to prove the theory - while I could have eaten more grapes, the discomfort in my abdomen put me off.

2) The Judy Dench Theory

The Judy Dench Theory states that there is ONLY one actor/actress in this world and that is Dame Judy Dench.

I developed this theory with my pal Mokney, a sage of extraordinary wisdom (Solomon didn't come up with this did he?). The conversation went as follows.

Stoneskin: Judy Dench is in EVERY movie these days.

Mokney: I can think of a million movies that she isn't in.

Stoneskin: She's in every one, she's just a master of disguise. She plays every part.

Mokney: What, even in those martial art films where you have a billion black belts doing all their stuff?

Stoneskin: Yep, the ol' Dame is incredibly fit and eternally nubile.

You can't argue against this theory can you?

3) The Missing Sock Theory

I owe this one to Mokney, and remember it every morning as I fossick about for a matching pair of socks.

The Missing Sock Theory states that our socks go "missing" because they are stolen by moles (the small furry creatures, not the abnormal collections of pigment cells that we all know and love) and used as snug little sleeping bags.

As a literally minded individual with almost no common sense I feel that the link between these three theories is obvious, my conclusion is unavoidable and I dare you to challenge it.

The moles are after one thing and one thing alone. World domination. Oh, and a good night's sleep thanks to our socks.

In order to achieve this they have genetically engineered grapes in the hope that we will eat ourselves to death while watching movies, acted in their entirety by Judy Dench. The Dame is merely an unsuspecting puppet in all this, a distraction tactic coined by the mole strategists, whom I suspect wear driving gloves and tiny little moustaches.

Either that or I'm just a dullard who has got hold of the wrong end of the stick.

I'll let the masses decide.
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Bruised Anal Glands

Firstly, let me thank Thistle for giving me a superior scribbler award (see that beautiful award in my *cough cough* overcrowded trophy cabinet to the right hand side). The lovely Thistle speculated that being a Spartan, I might not display the award.

Give a dog a bone.

Spartan? I'm certainly not an ancient Greek (contrary to public opinion), neither am I particularly self-disciplined or have a predilection for brevity of speech (yup, I consulted the online dictionary on that one).

Maybe it's because I like to run races naked.

I think I'm supposed to award this to five other bloggers, but as I'm not a Spartan, I really can't be bothered...tell you what, I'll have a think about it and pick out the other five in a few days time. I have far more important things to write about.

Ladies and gentlemen, train services are subject to severe delays and cancellations due to the adverse weather conditions. Rail staff are working very hard to restore the normal service...please be patient during this difficult time.

The automated station announcement read something like that, although with a stunted flow and no punctuation. Not that I'd be one to complain, as my own grammar sounds like the plaintive wail of a gerbil that has bruised his anal glands in a freak yachting accident.

If "normal" meant trains running on time, a reliable, punctual service that didn't charge criminal fares then yeah, that would be great. At the best of times travelling on our trains is like being charged a tenner for a pint of Guinness and then knocking it over. I feel like I've knocked over a ten pound pint every day.

But they are right, it has been a "difficult time". A couple of flakes of snow and the entire country grinds to a halt. One half works from home, the other half has a snowball fight. I worked from home and then had a snowball fight, hitting a mate cleanly on the ear. I suppose that made up for it all.

My wireless card committed suicide just when I needed it most, so I had to run a 15m Ethernet cable across the flat just so I could continue remoting. And coding over a remote connection is excruciatingly painful, as frustrating as repeatedly dropping one of those teeny weeny flat pack screws under the sofa.

If it wasn't bad enough, I also busted my back, played the worst game of football in my life - enough to make me want to throw in the towel - and got stuck behind some popinjay doing 20 in a 40 zone.

Fortunately one thing did make me smile. There was a bloke on the train with his shirt buttoned so low it made Simon Cowell look like a priest. A priest with a ridiculous hair cut and monstrous ego.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Why I'm working from home!

Why I'm working from home today!

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device
As I have quite a few new readers since I became a "Jelly Biter" I've put this up here again. To understand the context you must read this post!