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Sunday, April 30, 2006

Dopy kids

I don't know whether they are dopy or just drugged up to their eyeballs on Ritalin to "cure" their ADHD, but we have some really dozy kids wandering into the sport centre sometimes (in addition to the even dozy more adults).

A recent example:

About 7 pm one evening last week, a girl of about 12 walked in on her own.
"I've come for the badminton".
Now normally when someone says "The Badminton", they are referring to one of the coaching classes. However, they had finished over an hour before.
"OK, who are you with?" I asked.
"My sister, but she's gone swimming".
"OK, have you booked a court?"
"No, I've been before with my mum and my sister".
"Are you with them tonight? What name have they booked under?"
"My sister is swimming"
She carried on staring at me in a sort of vacant way. I tried another tack.
"Do you have a court booked already?"
"No, my sister has gone swimming"
She waited expectantly.
"Do you have anyone to play with?" I asked.
"My sister. But she's gone swimming."
OK, her sister has gone swimming. I think we've established that.
"Have you come for one of the classes?" I tried.
"No. I've come to play badminton".
I was starting to struggle a bit here.
"So you are on your own?" she nodded in a vacant sort of way "and you don't have any one to play with?" she thought for a bit then nodded again.
"Then how are you going to play?" I asked as kindly as I could.
She looked at me like I'd sprouted two heads.
"You need a partner to play with, or you'll just be hitting it over the net then running to the other side".
"So you won't let me play then?" she looked a bit upset. I had to tread carefully now - if her mother was half as whacked out as she was, we ran the risk of a letter complaining about how we wouldn't let her daughter play. Probably because we are racist. After all, we are already "homophobic" because we wouldn't keep the centre open for another 15 minutes to let two gay men finish their game.
"I could let you play. But who would you play with? You need 2 people to play a game of badminton."
"Oh." and then she just stood there waiting expectantly.
"Why don't you go and watch your sister swimming" I suggested, wondering how the hell I could get rid of her. She had a bit of a think, then walked out the door.

To the best of my knowledge, there is no Badminton equivalent of swingball for people to play on their own. Probably just as well, you can't really market a game for families entitled "Swingcock" can you?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

What are you looking for?

Well, it's time again to post a list of the funniest, nastiest and scariest search terms that inadvertant visitors to my site were actually looking for. As always, I have simply copied and pasted the terms verbatim - so don't blame me for the spelling. Although, it should be noted that it is my own unique spelling, combined with theirs that sometimes pushes this site to the top of the search engine's rankings. Ahem.

As usual, the most searched after terms are the ever popular
"Rebecca Loos pig video" and "Paula Radcliffe pissing in the street". One particularly nasty individual wanted "Paula Radcliffe defecating in the street" - so a big Hello! to Gillian McKeith.

Falling into the "amusing but harmless" category, we have the following gems.

scientist haircut
gary glitter picture chasing kids funny pictures
scratching bollocks cartoon
3.2 nanogrammes cocaine (more than once, from different people bizarrely)
weird scientist birthday parties
Chris Martin Hate Club (sign me up!)
criminal offence cases by micheal jackson (Obviously a short list because, as we know MICHAEL JACKSON IS INNOCENT! Seriously, not a shadow of a doubt. No siree!)
flogging a dead horse" BBC 2005 (If the BBC don't commission it, ITV certainly will!)
Famous Scientist Wanted Poster
paranoid peppermint graph
how to lance a boil
noel edmonds hunting (I'd pay good money to do that).
"double-shit" experiment (I assume they actually want the famous "double-slit" physics experiment that proved light is both a wave and a particle. But I could be wrong!)
ratzinger heil papa
we cash cheques pigs arse we do
(I simply burst out laughing when I read that one!)
GREGGS VEGETABLE PASTIES ARE hoax (try telling that to my waistline)
reeves mortimer baseball bat (someone after my own heart)
tricia goddard t-shirt (all the Chav's have 'em!)
arsehole postdoc (Is someone on to me?)
snogging a bouncer
vaioni group jobs
(I wonder if I put anyone off?)
avoiding paying a taxi fare (who do they think I am?)

The next few are the inevitable consequence of using the word "Twat" at least once a week...

biggest twats in hollywood (how long have you got?)
"Vernon Kaye" twat (Definately... but not as much as...)
noel edmonds twat (the undisputed king, I'm sure you'll agree)
smelly twat (I had hoped that they were looking for the Tuesday Twat Award I gave to Smelly People a few months ago)
tangy twat (But this next search term suggests not. Lovely)

The final batch are a selection of the (often quite detailed) sexual fetishes that folks type into Google to get their jollies.
Firstly, the "traditional"
sarah beeney nude (MadDog gets loads of hits a week looking for her and he admits that he isn't quite sure who she is).
implausibly large mammaries
katie price wearing no knickers (probably on the same page as the previous pictures)
kylie minogue bum papparazzi (So many to choose from...)
jade goody big brother drunken kebab video (if you don't understand, probably best not to ask)

Next the faintly disturbing - try not to think about these too much.

boys forced into skirts
bones mccoy's erection
germain greer underwear

The rather specific
she wanked him off in the cinema seat

And the really disgusting
defecation movies
vomit blowjobs

Finally, my favourite.
fine girl scientist naked

Of course, I'll have to enlist help for the last one. If anybody would like to email me an appropriate picture, I promise I'll forward it on without peeking. Honest.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Tuesday Twat(s)

No. 60. Orange women.

OK, what gives? Every where I go, there are bright orange women clinging to their summer tan tighter than Paul McCartney to his Scouse accent. Surely, as science marches forward the chemicals that they use are supposed to get better, not worse? Yet this year's latest shade seems more fake than ever before. Perhaps there is a new budget brand that you can buy from the Pound shop? Or perhaps they are all being sponsored by a certain well-known Mobile phone company? In these skin-cancer concious times the bright pink of T-Mobile or the dangerous red of Vodafone is out obviously. Not quite sure where that leaves the blue of O2 though.

Maybe skin colouration is subject to the whims of fashion
"This season, Judith Chalmers is the new David Dickinson".

Living in a multi-cultural city as I do, I have met people with pretty much every skin shade evolution has come up with, yet this peculiar shade of orange still seems wierd. Now I know how remote tribes must have felt centuries ago, upon seeing the first white Missionaries as they came ashore bringing their gifts of christian fundamentalism, sexual repression and measles.


Saturday, April 22, 2006

A bookish Dilemma

OK then, so when is it right to give up on a book?

For reasons that I've never really understood, I've always felt very guilty when contemplating not finishing a novel. Whilst it is understandable that I struggled manfully through Andy Remic's "Spiral" (badly written, unrealistic, facile nonsense), having paid the princely sum of £6.99 for it, why do I find myself struggling to finish books borrowed on my library ticket?

Surely the point of a library ticket is that you can fill it up each trip with anything that looks in the slightest bit interesting, safe in the knowledge that you can discard it halfway through having expended little more than the effort required to carry it home? Yet every time I go to the library, I find myself agonising over what to read as much as I would in Waterstones. It is akin to forcing myself to finish everything on the plate before I can have my dessert. On those very rare occassions where I do decide that I have better things to do with my life, I feel almost a failure.

I can't understand where this compulsion comes from. Was it being forced to read and analyse turgid crap like "Love on the Dole" or "Cider with Rosie" for GCSE English? That seems unlikely, since I felt guilt before then. And it is unlikely to be my parent's influence, who drove my sister and I to the library each week from a very young age and would help us stagger out with our little arms so full of books we could barely see where we were going. The source is truly a mystery.

And at what point can it be said that you have given a book a fair chance? "The Lord of the Rings" got the heave-ho after about 100 pages with very little feeling of regret. It was obvious to me that Mr Tolkien was not going to drastically change his writing style to entertain me any time soon (something that the films proved admirably 15 years later), whilst perservering past those slow first 100 pages resulted in a very enjoyable experience with David Zeman's "The Pinocchio Syndrome".

The most recent book that has put me in such a quandry is Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason's "The Rule of Four", billed as "The Da Vinci code for people with brains" by the Independent. Having rather enjoyed the far-fetched nonsense of "The Da Vinci Code" and its (better) prequel "Angels and Demons" as well as other similar tales of Vatican naughtiness, I was quite looking forward to it. Well, I'm sorry to say that by page 99 (the end of chapter 6), bugger-all has happened. I simply can't face the remaining 422 pages and so it has been consigned to the "return to library" pile. A fact made somewhat easier by the presence of Patricia Cornwell's "Blowfly" in my "to read" pile. Rest assured that the speed at which I'm flying through that book will ensure a speedy return to the library for a replacement for "The Rule of Four".

Friday, April 21, 2006


Todays post will be about bums and was triggered by two derriere related incidents in the same day.

The first was rather amusing. The sport centre was having a holiday session for local kids. Completely gratis, it attracted loads of kids and at least three parents, siblings, cousins and parole officers per child. One of the parents was, unquestionably, a Yummy Mummy. Definately. Accompanying said YM, was her partner (to use today's politically correct, non-assuming, no wish to cause offence term). As they left the desk after registering, I noticed his hand cupping her rather shapely left buttock. For the next 90 minutes, every time I passed them, I noticed his hand hadn't moved. Insecure? Yeah I think so.

The second is just freaky and this condition must have a latin name. I was standing at the bus stop and a young black woman came past. About 5'4", of apparently average build, it wasn't until she passed me that I noticed something rather odd. I am a pretty big bloke no question, with a build that suggests gatherer rather than hunter shall we say. Without a hint of exageration, you could fit TWO of me inside her jeans, and they still wouldn't fit nearly as snugly as they fit her. It was as if they had taken the top half of a normal-sized woman and stuck it to the top of one of those amazing 45 stone American women you see in documentaries about Texas. Remarkable. On the grounds of taste, I won't describe what happened when she ran for the bus. Suffice to say that no one at that bus stop will forget the sight...

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Tuesday Twat(s)

Apologies for last week's absence. Normal service shall be resumed.

No. 59. "Veteran" soap actors.

Last week, I'm told, a long-standing character in the soap drama Coronation Street died. Johnny Briggs played some character or other for thirty years before being bumped off (no doubt through some convoluted plot-line) . This momentous event, which I am reliably informed was "all over the news", somehow didn't make it on to Newsnight. Nevertheless the subsequent tributes to the actor's "genius" from all and sundry triggered a memory from a few years back.

Another (still alive, I believe) actor in the same show, William Roache, passed the forty year mark back in 2000. Again, he was feted as a genius by the sort of masturbatory documentary that only self-indulgent telly-types are shameless enough to appear in. This got me thinking,

"Are long-standing soap stars worthy of the title actor?" and even more dubiously, "great actors?"

I humbly submit that they are, at best, rather shit actors. A perusal of the careers of both men on Wikipedia and the Internet Movie Database (which also lists TV work), reveals two one-trick ponies. Bill Roache has basically done nothing since 1960 except Corrie. Similarly, whilst Briggs was a jobbing actor for a few years before he joined the street in 1976, he too has done two-thirds of bugger all else. Surely, if they were half as good as their mates would have you believe, they would have done some more, you know, acting? Why has nobody else offered them a meaty role? Look at the CVs of many of the other similarly aged actors who have appeared (briefly) in Corrie and you might see a hundred roles in dozens of different shows. Surely, that's what acting is about?

At what stage does acting a part move from acting to just doing the day job? Pretty much everybody is an actor at work. We all put on personas in the workplace to a greater or lesser extent, particularly in the service sector. I've spent the last few months acting like I give two-shits when the local Chav community are unhappy about the level of service in the sport centre. I don't, but for the most part I appear to have been successful. Occassionally I even get thanked for my concern after sorting a (normally) self-inflicted problem. I play the role of a professional service provider - Briggs plays the role of a middle-aged man. Sure, his role involves him pretending to cry or get angry, but I pretend to care when the manifestly perfectly healthy complain about how they've been threatened with the loss of their "Disability" benefits if they don't get a job. The woman in question (who walks a mile each way every day to bring her daughter to badminton) is so fooled by my Lawrence Olivier-like acting that she whinges at me daily. I've even fooled her into thinking, by means of an occassional "Uh huh" and "Oh, dear", that I am not reading the Metro newspaper and actually listening to her.

So to all of those long-standing soap actors - get over yourselves. You have spent a career doing a low-level, essential job, and have brought many people a certain amount of pleasure. That is to be applauded. But then so has Stelios the owner of the chippie near my parents. Please accept one more award, "The Tuesday Twat Award" - put it in front of the others, you've actually earned this one.


Friday, April 07, 2006

RIP Dixons

So, Dixons the electronics retailer is to disappear from Britain's High Street, absorbed into its sister company Currys.

No great loss.

It has always made me laugh when people (such as the Financial Times) talk about its reputation for employing too many spotty youths who sneer at customer's ignorance. The irony being that the sales staff in Dixons are usually more ignorant than their customers.

In the past twelve months I have popped into Dixons twice, since it is the most convenient electrical retailer for me to get to.

On the first occassion, I was looking for some replacement plugs for a standard coaxial ariel cable (the bit you plug into the telly or ariel socket in the wall). I have somehow aquired about 15 metres of cable, but the attached plastic plugs were broken. Being pressed for time, I grabbed the first sales assistant I could find. It took several moments of explanation, during which time he looked at me like I was speaking a long dead language understood only by a handful of medieval scholars. Finally he led me to a shelf full of 3 pin mains plugs. Fortunately, at the other end of the shelf I spotted what I was looking for. Being the ever helpful sort, I pointed them out, figuring that he might be grateful for my filling in this gap in his knowledge. He gave a Vicky Pollard-like scowl and walked away without another word.

The second time, I was simply looking to see how much Dixons charged for Dual-Layer blank DVDs. I left the store empty handed, with a nagging suspicion that the sales "adviser" thought I was winding him up.

Of course, this is nothing new.
Back in 1994 I was in the market for a PC. Deciding that it might be worth checking out the Dixons sale, I walked into my local branch. There was a nice looking PC that fell within my price range. Unfortunately, the only information the promotional poster gave was
"Pentium 100. 800Mb Hard Disk. £899" (Hey, I said it was 1994!).
Grabbing the guy manning the computer section of the shop, I asked for some more specifications.
First question:
"How much memory does it have?"
"800Mb, sir" he said looking at me as if I was illiterate.
"No, that's the size of the Hard Disk," I explained "How many megabytes of RAM does it have?" "800" he replied more slowly, patronisingly pointing at the sign.
I declined to ask any more questions, thanked him for his time and vowed to never, ever buy a computer from Dixons.

Now, I will never, ever buy a computer from Currys.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Tuesday Twat(s)

No. 58. IKEA

I first visited IKEA 5 years ago. I vowed it would never happen again. Unfortunately, little Sis has just bought her first house and big brother was drafted into helping fetch furniture from the local IKEA.

"But they have a website, and they deliver" I whined. I even offered to sit in her house and wait for it whilst she went to work (one advantage of working nights).

To no avail. So off we trek. On a Saturday afternoon.

Several things struck me immediately.

1) It was busy.
The first clue came from the fact that it took us 15 minutes (I'm not exagerating I swear) to park. The second clue was that just going up the escalator into the store required us to stand so close together that we just might have broken a few rules about familial proximity.

2) It was hot. Despite it being 2 degrees below outside, the 14 year old sale assistants in their yellow and blue shirts had damp patches, and their hair had gone limp.

3) It was like a maternity ward. Seriously, there were more bumps than a traffic calming zone outside a primary school for disabled kids. Is the nesting instinct in pregnant women so strong that they are compelled to go to IKEA on a saturday? I was worried that if they started playing whale music over the speakers, there wouldn't be enough towels in the linen dept to go around.

4) People will buy any old shite if it has IKEA stamped on it and a vaguely rude sounding Swedish name.
Shoehorns? WTF? Who the hell buys shoehorns? And who the hell names a dining chair "Roger". A chair that could be bullied at school! (BTW - with the aid of an electric screwdriver, I can build a "Roger" in 17 minutes).

5)It is really easy to get separated from your loved ones (or failing that, the fuckers that dragged you to IKEA).
As described above, people will buy anything if it has IKEA stamped on it. One moment little Sis is yammering on about matching door handles, the next I am distracted by someone actually paying money for a bag of coloured sand. When I turn around I find I am alone (or at least as much as anyone can be in IKEA on a saturday). Once upon a time, I would have burst into tears and caused a scene. Now I am older and wiser and my first thought is great, I can have a sit down on that comfy looking futon and play Solitaire on my phone until they call me. Just how did IKEA shoppers survive before the days of mobile telephony?

6) The signs lie.
Barefaced, whopping great lies on a par with the Tooth Fairy and Intelligent Design. Take the one marked exit for example. Load of bollocks. When I was finally phoned and told to get my lazy arse downstairs to do some lifting, I dutifully followed the signs marked "Exit - you will miss Kids IKEA". Good. I don't want Kids IKEA, I might catch something nasty off them. I want to go straight out and into the self-service area. Now lets be honest, despite the funny names - most IKEA stuff looks identical, so it wasn't until I saw the same sign again that I started to suspect that I had gone around in a circle. I followed it again looking for another sign that would break me out of the loop. 5 minutes later - the same bloody sign! Naturally, there were no sales assistants to ask for advice, and everyone else looked as pissed off as me, so I ignored the sign and headed into Kids IKEA. I realised my error immediately. Instead of sitting on a futon playing solitaire, I should have come straight here - they had an XBox with the Simpsons! Unfortunately, I was expected downstairs and the sooner I got there, the sooner I could leave. By simply going in the opposite direction indicated on every exit sign, I soon made my way downstairs.

7) No wonder Mr Ikea is so rich - his customers do all of his work for him.
No overheads. First of all how many "assistants" are there on the floor in IKEA? I saw none that weren't at a till point or selling store cards. Second - warehouses that require a lot of heavy lifting have a high turnover of staff and pay a lot of sick pay and compensation to workers who injure themselves. No such problem in IKEA. Your customers can do all of that shite, whilst your workers are all under 21 and cost you minimum wage. Bonus!

So in summary. I hate fucking IKEA. Next time, we do it on line.


Sunday, April 02, 2006

Money, Money, Money....

A couple of grumbles here about the source of all mankind's woes (allegedly)

The Taxman giveth... The Taxman taketh away.

It's coming up to the start of the new financial year, and we all know what that means boys and girls... the Tax Office get the chance to implement new and exciting revenue-generating exercises. One of the latest ideas, is the removal of the so-called Travel Advantage scheme.

Basically, it works like this. My agency deducts the princely sum of £10 from my wages each week. In return for this, they declare a portion of my wages non-taxable. This includes a daily "Subsistence Allowance" (about £4 plus change if I work over 5 hours or a little under £10 if I work more than 10 hours) and a "Travel Allowance" based on distance as the crow flies between my postcode and work's postcode. In a typical week, this isn't very much. I am about £3 better off than if the whole whack had been taxed at normal rate. My agency are good enough not to deduct the tenner if I have taken a couple of days off and I would be worse off.
However, until Easter I shall be working full days on the weekend and covering someone else's shifts during the week as well as my own. My reward for working 13 hour days was going to be an extra £20-£30 in my pay packet from Travel Allowance.

Not any more. Tossers.

On a related note, I am finding it increasingly difficult to sympathise with one of our regular customers who has finally been tracked down by the Taxman and ordered to pay a lump sum for undeclared earnings. He freely admits that he hasn't paid a penny of tax since 1983. The sum that they have billed him with is about £1,000 less than someone on a Postdoc's salary pays in a single year. Awww Diddums.

The Postdocs are revolting.

Much has been made of the main academic unions' dismissal of a 6% pay offer (split over two years mind) and recent industrial action. Nowhere in the various news articles that I have read, has it been mentioned that many universities still haven't implemented the 2004 pay agreement yet!

My old university still hasn't moved staff over to the newly agreed national pay structure. I am awaiting this development with baited breath, since despite leaving at the end of July, I am still waiting for the backdated pay increase. Assuming the University follows the "Memorandum of Understanding" (The union's interpretation of what the new deal will mean), I am owed a whopping £1,100 after deductions. This coincidentally is almost exactly what I owe on my overdraft, which LLoyds-TSB has recently started charging interest on.

Were I still at the University, I would be owed an even more impressive £3,000 by now, a position that many former colleagues find themselves in. Assuming that the University stops dragging its heels and finally pays up (I'll bet they'll keep the interest though), look out for my former colleagues in car showrooms and travel agents up and down the country...



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