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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Tuesday Twat(s)

Because it is the season of Goodwill to All Men, I have decided to lance a particularly nasty boil this week, and let the vitriol spill forth. Merry Fucking Christmas

No. 46. Chav parents.

Wayne and Waynetta Slob - icons of the modern parent.

Now those of you who read this blog regularly, may have gotten the erroneous impression that I have something against the "Chav" class ("Chav", for those who are unfamiliar, stands for Council House And Violent - I refer you this site for more information. Chav Scum). Nothing could be further from the truth. Chav's are an integral part of the food chain, fulfilling many vital roles in society. For example, they drown out the sound of people's IPods on Public Transport with their incessant arguing. They also keep the actors in Eastenders employed - they very obviously model their lives on the show, and pretty much form its core audience these days (not including the bedridden and educationally subnormal, obviously). They also ensure that Her Majesty's Constabulary get to waste spend their time chasing low-level, relatively safe, nuisance crime and filling in pointless paperwork, rather than risking life and limb chasing proper criminals (The ever excellent PC David Copperfield, a man who we cynical bloggers regard as something of a role model, can enlighten you more on that subject).

Nevertheless, despite my obvious love of all things Chavvy, there are some things that irk me ever so slightly about them. One of the most irritating being Chav parents.

So how does one go about recognising a Chav parent?

Well, the most obviously clue is the dress sense. Tracksuit, baseball cap and several respectable dowry's worth of cheap bling (sovereign rings being a particular favourite) are de rigeur of course. Burberry is a dead give away, seeing as Burberry's original clientele (the well-to-do labradoor, hunting and Landrover set) have now deserted the company in droves. Burberry almost exclusively means Chav these days. However, it has to be combined with spotless sporting gear (Nike/Adidas/Converse ideally - proof of purchase not required).

The second clue is that even in these health concious times, it is not frowned upon in Chav circles to smoke around your child. By this, I mean holding the baby's face so close to your dangling L&B it really ought to use its pocket money to go halves on the cost. Doing this with another one in the oven (as evidenced by the belly top that shows the world that yes, you can still have a pierced belly button when you are 8 months pregnant, and that no, exposure to sub-zero temperatures doesn't make the metal intolerably cold) is even better.

Even babies and toddlers can be incorporated into one's overall fashion ensemble. Now in all fairness, it should be pointed out that babies have always been used as fashion icons. Years ago, little girls were often dressed in so much Taffeta they were sometimes mistaken for cleaning utensils and used to dust the mantlepiece. Little boys would be forced to undergo cruel and unusual punishments, like washing behind their ears and combing their hair, before being paraded in front of their parent's peers at church on sunday. In that respect, things have changed only in the detail (and the cost). These days, the baby's clothing matches their parents. Despite them still mastering the complex arts of crawling, standing unaided and making sentences (an act not aided by the fact that their gobs are constantly filled with either dummies and nutritious snacks such as Walker's Cheesey Wotsits and Skittles and that the only verbal communication they are exposed to involves "shut up you little shit", "Where the fuck are my fags" and "turn the telly over, Emmerdale's on ITV"), these kids wear more sports gear than the average Premiership footballer. Sometimes they even wear the same kit as a Premiership Footballer.

But by far the most heinous abuse steeped upon them by their parent(s) is that of the ear piercing. Yup, despite proclaiming that they would "do anyfing for my kid. Seriously, I would. I'd do facking anyfing. And I'd facking kill anyone that hurts 'em", these pinacles of good parenting are willing to take their 6 month old child, and have holes needlessly punched through their ears. Even the boys.

And if that doesn't deserve a Twat Award, I don't know what does.


Monday, December 19, 2005

Blank screen puzzler

OK, I'm just sticking this out there to see if anyone else has suffered from a similar bug.

Earlier in the year, I purchased a plug in Digital TV decoder for my laptop (A Terratec Cynergy T2). It works pretty well in general, and I can use it to watch all of the freeview channels. However, I have noticed a really strange bug.

Whenever I am watching one of the Channel 4 family of channels (C4, E4, E4+1 and the new More4), and it switches to adverts, the TV screen goes black and the picture disappears. The remainder of the desktop remains fine, and I can still hear the TV. The picture won't return, even when I switch channels, resize the window or toggle the display on and off. It can only be restored if I close the program and reload it. It only affects the channel 4 channels and happens pretty much every ad break.

It's getting bloody annoying! It doesn't appear to affect recorded programs, but does affect timeshifted (paused) shows.

Logically, it would seem that C4 broadcasts some sort of signal to signify the start of an ad break (perhaps to stop people skipping them?). However, it seems to kill the display.

So, anyone else noticed a similar problem with digital telly?

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Random musings

First off a little update about our smelly friend from last week's Tuesday Twat post. I popped in to the supermarket tonight on the way back from work. As I walked through the door, I was confronted by a familiar stench. The security guard was cowering in the furthest possible corner from the till. I quickly joined him.
"He took 30 minutes and kept on asking me where the oxo cubes were. And no he hasn't had a bath since last time. But the beard has gone. Must be trying to impress the ladies."

I noticed he was right. I only wanted to buy some diet coke and a loaf of bread, but decided that it would be wise to loiter for a bit. The old boy was actually being served, so I figured I could get away with waiting for a few minutes. Fifteen minutes later he was still there! He kept on patting his pockets and mumbling. The poor lad on the till was frantic by this point, he kept on ringing for assistance, but none of the managers would come over. It was quite fascinating really. The lad serving is asian, with dark brown skin. But he had turned a pale dusky colour and looked as if he was about to start crying. I have to say, funny as it was, I really felt for him.

Finally, one of the managers came over - and opened the furthest till. Immediately, a rush of customers, who had obviously been loitering like me descended on the newly opened till. I decided enough was enough, and joined the queue. I have never seen behaviour like it. After being served, you would normally have to walk past the old man, but every single customer, even girls in impossibly short skirts just buying ciggies before going to the pub, grabbed their shopping after paying and clambered over the barrier. Normally, this would get them a rebuke from the security guard, but he was refusing to leave the biscuit aisle at the other end of the shop.

When I left he was still there mumbling and patting his pockets and the poor server was leaning against the cigarette counter, trying to catch the store manager's eye.

Whilst we are on the subject of smelliness - Chav's have their own aftershave! Burberry "live from London" - whatever the fuck that means - is being advertised on bus shelters everywhere.
"Burberry - the smell of the council estate!"

And continuing the theme still further - I have suddenly lost all respect for Nicole Kidman. Up until now, I regarded her as one of the most beautiful and talented actresses in the world. Not now. Have you seen the new Chanel No 5 ad (or Canal No 5 as I used to call it as a kid)? It is toe-curlingly bad. Really bad. Nicky (as I like to call her) is awful. She delivers her line in a voice that manages to be both breathless and wooden at the same time. Imagine a female Kevin Costner after a half-marathon. Is it sloppy editing, or is she one of those actresses that need a top-notch director and script to get the best out of her? She has seriously let herself down with this.

And finally, tomorrow is the sport centre's christmas do. When I asked what the plan was, I was met with blank stares.
"We're going to get pissed".
A night on the tiles with a gang of over-grown PE teachers - could be a laugh...

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Tuesday Twat(s)

No. 45. Virgin Rail

"Christmas is coming,
Branson's getting fat,
All I want is a ticket home,
You irritating Twat!"

I feel a bit of a cheat doing Virgin Rail, given that I have already done Despite the protestations of the telephone operators, and are actually one and the same. Nevertheless, Virgin have earned this one all on their own.

With Christmas and New Year approaching, I have been forced to join the mad scramble for the last remaining, mythical, cheap rail tickets. Fortunately, I have managed to avoid having to buy tickets back to Mum and Dad's on the 23rd by persuading an obliging sibling to drive me home. This is probably just as well, considering that I have just ordered Mum and Dad's christmas present - a brand new computer printer. A few years ago I tried to catch the train with a foot spa for Mum's birthday. By the time I got back, the wrapping paper looked like it had been mauled by an angry poodle with overgrown toenails.

However, I am going down south to see in the New Year with a bunch of old uni mates. I logged on to VirginRail to try and find a return ticket. £70 was the cheapest on offer. Since I have started working at the Sports Centre, I have taken to measuring everything in terms of daily wages and I'm buggered if I am paying 2 days wages for a 2 hour train journey. So following the "buy single tickets option" I split the ticket up. £58 down and £11 back. Yup that's right, it costs five times as much to travel there than back. An identical route and timing. WTF?

OK, I thought. How about the bus? The round trip for the bus was a cheaper £48 - but the catch was that it was 4 hours down - and 8 hours back. I've said before, that me and long road journeys don't get on terribly well, and the thought of 8 hours (possibly with hangover) really doesn't do it for me. So I decided. Go for the trip there on the bus (£32) and catch the train back (£11). Expensive, but given the money I've saved by coming home in the car, I'll swallow it.

Now the fun begins...
I log on to VirginRail. In order just to check times, I needed to create a user account (why? I suspect its just so that they can flog my email address to spammers - does anyone believe that privacy statement? No, thought not). after going through all of that bullshit, I logged in. Clicking through several pages of options, I chose my ticket. A Virgin Value C. There was also a Virgin Value B for a fiver more - then everything else was £50.
This is what I am met with.

So I decide to phone. After 14 minutes 38 seconds (yes I did look at the call timer) listening to the same recorded message telling me "For your added convenience you can now by tickets online at..." (Why "added" is emphasised I have no idea), I finally get through.
Now, over the years I have lived all over the country. Because of this, any one who meets me describes my accent as "neutral English". Very few people can guess where I am from. It isn't BBC English, but when I speak on the phone I have very little regional bias (I've been told this by both native and non-native english speakers). Nevertheless, the voice recognition software had garbled my details beyond recognition, and I had to start again. I swear that they only include that option to give you something to do whilst the sole operator in the call centre finishes their cup of coffee.
"I'm sorry, sir. I can't book the ticket either. There appears to be a technical hitch. I'll log it. Try again in 1/2 an hour." It's a sunday, no way will it be fixed in half an hour, and I have things to do.
Two hours later, I try again. I repeat the whole rigamarole all over again, only to be met at the final stage with the same screen again. Sod, it I think. I'll phone again. According to the clock on my phone, it takes almost exactly the same time again to get through (coincidence? I'll let you decide).
This time the operator (different one - must have been a shift change) is a bit more honest.
"They haven't released those tickets for sale"
"Then why are they listed on the website?"
He ignores my question.
"Try again in a few days time"
"When will they be released - I'm not paying £50, I want the cheap tickets."
"I don't know, sir"
I'll bet you bloody don't. I am convinced that they don't really exist, and that even though I will try to buy them at 9am and again at 10pm every day they will magically sell out, leaving me with no choice but to pay full fare.
Virgin Rail - money grabbing twats. Bet the train is cancelled, as well.


Thursday, December 08, 2005

Mop Chop

I hate having my hair cut. Unfortunately as I rather prefer a short and neat (if somewhat boring) style, this presents a slight dilemma.

Truth be told, I had avoided the barber's shop since June. The excuse was always that I'll save it for a special occassion (a job interview would be nice!). Nevertheless, with the Christmas party season nearly upon us (and the thought of disaproving stares from mum over the turkey) tonight I decided to give the ladies a little treat, and go for the chop.

Truth be told, I started to seriously contemplate a trimming a few weeks ago after my shower. I was unsuccessfully trying to come my hair into a vaguely neat style, but it wasn't having any of it. Frankly, I couldn't give two shits whether my hair was "tidy" or not - being the only person in the sports centre not allowed to wear a scruffy tracksuit, I figure that I am still the smartest person there regardless of my hair "style". No, what really gave me pause for thought was what was happenning at the nape of my neck. I realised that if action wasn't taken within the next few weeks, then combing my hair back would result in a rather respectable Mullet!

So tonight I was let out of work early because there were no customers and the DM was happy to sit on the reception desk where he can see the footie on SKY. Figuring it was an omen, I decided to go to the late-night barbers shop that is normally just closing up when I go past on the bus after work.

I've had some pretty good haircuts there in the past, but it is always a little nerve-wracking. Whilst it is important to note that the lads who run it speak better English than I speak Arabic, it is also important to point out that I only speak 2 phrases in Arabic (Inshallah and Eid Mubarak, in case you were wondering. Useful for saying goodbye to someone after wishing them a happy Eid, but not a lot else).

Anyways, after 20 minutes watching Syria's answer to Eastenders, it was my turn in the big chair.
"I want a short haircut on the top, nice and neat. No parting, I want it forward." I waved my hands in the air expressively. He nodded sagely.
"And I want the back trimmed to a number 3 and blended in."
I am a creature of habit, and this has given me a decade worth of neat if uninspiring haircuts.
"You want number 3 all over?", he said firing up the clippers.
"No!" I yelped in panic. I don't want to look like a skinhead advised to grow his hair a week before his first court appearance.
"I want the back and sides done number 3 and the top cut with scissors".
"Ahhh. Like mine".
He had a quite smart hairstyle, just a bit longer than I was looking for.
"Yeah, that'll do".
Out came the clippers again.
Nervously, I watched in the mirror - thank god! They were being used to trim off the sides and back.

Now, have you ever thought to yourself "This would possibly be the worst time imaginable for a fire alarm"?
After the back and sides had been done, I had just such a moment. In order to make a neat job of it, he had fluffed the hair on the top of my head up a bit, to get it out of the way. I suddenly realised that I bore more than a passing resemblance to Gary Glitter. I couldn't think what would be worse, being stranded on the street during a fire alarm being swamped by dozens of 12 year olds wanting to sleep with me, or being chased by loads of Vietnamese immigrants wanting to cut my bollocks off for kiddy-fiddling in their home country. Allegedly. Fortunately, despite the best efforts of the crowd of smokers under the smoke detector, the alarm didn't sound.

The remainder of the haircut went pretty much as planned. Admittedly, the small cowlick curl at the front had to go (when I said that I wanted a haircut similar to his, I didn't mean identical...), but the only other complaints I had were that my grey hair (note the singular) which appeared about 4 years ago appears to have returned after a long absence, and I feel he has made it more prominent. What was most scary though, was that he shaved my ears. Yes that's right I am 28 years old and he seems to feel that I need my ears shaving. Not only was the buzzing of the electic razor deafeningly loud, I resent the implication that I am some sort of Hobbit. Obviously, after he shaved the right one I had to let him shave the left one in case people ask why one ear is smoother than the other.

All in all, the whole operation took 20 minutes and cost the princely sum of £6. That's about £12/year by my maths. Bargain!

Whilst we are talking about hair, I saw the weirdest thing on the bus tonight.

A young black lad about 16 years old got on. He was dressed in jeans, and a Basketball style white top. His hair was quite thick and wiry. Were this the late 70's he could have grown a very respectable Afro, however since he wasn't born until the late 80's he had settled for a neat all-over trim, about a centimetre in length. So far so normal. Nothing unusual in that, just a regular kid catching the bus who wouldn't stand out in a crowd. What drew my attention however (and the rest of the bus - although being British we were far too polite to stare, we all just gazed out of the window or at our feet) was the extremely large old-fashioned comb that jutted out of his hair. Just like those combs that old ladies with buns leave in their hair to keep it in shape. But about three times the size and poking forward. In fact, I thought it was just the brim of a cap at first glance.

We arrived at his stop, he thanked the driver, and got off, leaving a bus full of bewildered passengers. I got off at the next stop, by which time no one had yet voiced the question that we were all thinking...

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Tuesday Twat(s)

No. 44. Smelly People

This Twat Award is dedicated to the man who sat beside me on the bus today and to the gentleman who shops in my local Sainsbury but can be smelt as far away as Morrisons down the road.

There are individuals on this planet who seriously stink. I don't mean they need to eat a little less spicy food, or perhaps wear less cologne. I mean they smell of dead, rotting, festering shite. The idea for this Twat Award was triggered by an unfortunate encounter with two individuals within the last few days.

The first was on the bus to the sport centre. Now it has to be acknowledged that the centre does not lie in the most salubrious of neighbourhoods. Pretty much every house has a satellite dish on the wall. According to the Sanescientist law of spotting Chavvy neighbourhoods, the percentage of houses with satellite dishes is indirectly proportional to the income level of the area. This combined with the number of burberry-clad single Mums allows one to distinguish between merely low-income areas (which have more dishes) and areas that are full of Chavs. Chavs, as we know, attract other types of low-life, many of whom may be hygienically challenged. However, this was beyond that. It is hard to categorise this particular person's odour. If I was forced to describe it, I would classify it as predominantly dead wet dog, with overtones of stale puke and just a hint of festive pee. I wonder if he notices that even the most crowded pavements or buses magically part to let him by, or if he just puts this down to him being an undiscovered Neo locked in the Matrix, and that any minute now he will be forced to fight Agent Smiths armed cans of air freshner.

The second brought tears to my eyes and bile to my throat. He was pretty bad the first time I encountered him and - unlike a bottle of 2003 Jacobs Creek Shiraz Cabernet - he hasn't improved with age. The following has not been exagerated for comic effect. Seriously, he is that bad. He comes into the shop at about 10 pm (I often do my shopping then as I have just returned from work). Dressed in a stained grey overcoat with furry hood, he is about 60 with a matted grey beard and stringy, sticky looking hair. The smell hits you first. The till in this store is quite close to the door. When the door swooshes open, the smell literally gusts in. Stale piss, faeces and vomit are the least of the odours. His stale sweat appears to over-power both those smells if you can imagine that (actually try not to, conjuring up the memory just made my stomach flip). The security guard by the door, the tellers and the customers in line - as one - turn wretching. I am not exagerating. He strides in oblivious. Wandering up the aisle, he doesn't seem to notice that other customers are running out of the way. I genuinely thought that one girl was going to be sick, she was leaning against a shelf, breathing deeply, covering her nose with her hand. Thank god she wasn't because if there is one thing guaranteed to trigger me off, it is someone else revisiting their lunch. As he potters around the shop, you can see people debating with themselves - is it better to jump in the queue now and finish another day, or simply steer clear of him until he is done and then go to the till? Because nobody is getting in that queue with him, and when he joins people literally climb over the barrier to avoid him. You can feel the sympathy for the coralled checkout staff radiating from the customers. Nobody risks asking him if he has a loyalty card.

I suppose I feel angry actually. Not at him, but the social services or "carers" that are supposed to look after people like him. For him to have got in that state is not normal. He is plainly incapable of looking after himself. The customers and myself are not being rude, either. It is self preservation, pure and simple. If I get within 5 paces of him I will be sick. No question. So perhaps this Twat Award should not go to him, but social services - or our society as a whole - for caring so little that we let people get into that state.

That being said, the filthy little bastard in my first year at University, who turned up on day one in a suit and tie, but was forcibly stripped naked by his flatmates and shoved in the shower in december because things were moving in his hair, still gets one.




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