Always nice to get a positive review for one of my books and even better when it comes from another 'ex-pat' Burtonian! Carol post...
Monday, 18 November 2013
Continuing the story from Part 1
Now, where was I? I do seem to have wandered quite a way off my original point. Oh yes, what to buy the man in your life? Well, it could be Viagra, then you could get some life in your man (boom, boom, as Basil Brush would say) or, if I could make a humble suggestion, how about a high-visibility vest, a two-way radio and, if you really want to go the whole hog, a pair of reflective sunglasses. Let's take the rationale for each of these suggestions in turn.
Firstly, the high-vis (to quote the vernacular) vest. These items of clothing instantly convey power to the wearer, possibly even super-powers! A man with a high-vis vest can stop traffic, literally. Put him at the entrance to anything and he has the power to interrogate. "What are you here for today then, sir?" No-one ever questions his authority to do this, the high-vis vest is sufficient unto itself. Every man, secretly, wants a high-vis vest, and the best of it is, they are incredibly flattering. No matter how portly or scruffy the wearer, the donning of the magic vest renders all beneath it authoritative, commanding and superior.
Then there's the two-way radio. Am I alone in thinking that the vast majority of the conversations conducted via these are entirely superfluous? Such stuff as:
A: "Jim, come in, over"
B: Appallingly loud static noise, brief snatches of music, then faint but unintelligible sound that just might be speech of some form or another
A: (looking knowledgeable) "Roger that, Jim. Just checking that the radio is working, over"
B: Even worse static noise followed by a noise like a whale in distress, then something like a vacuum cleaner on reverse suction.
A: (chuckles knowlingly) "Yeah, 10-4 Jim. I can eyeball that for sure, for sure, over and out"
Even though it generates such inane rubbish as this, most blokes would give their eye-teeth (what are these, and why are they so valuable?) to have one. Well, two actually, one being of no use at all. I can speak with some authority on this as I'm currently on a cruise (bear with me, I'll explain). Quite a number of parents on board have taken the sensible precaution of purchasing two-way radios in order to keep in touch with their children, who could, of course, be anywhere on this vast ship (although the lifts are usually a good bet). All over the craft, you can see parents (and it's usually fathers) with these toy walkie-talkies (and that's showing my age) clamped to their ear, entirely oblivious to the fact that the apparatus is decorated in day-glo orange or Barbie pink. And they're having longer conversations with their offspring than they ever would have face-to-face. Although they're actually trying to find where little Cheyenne and Peyton are at this moment, in their mind's eye they are talking to Red Leader about bandits at six-o-clock, as they barrel over the White Cliffs of Dover.
The last element of the ensemble has to be the reflective sunglasses, by which I mean sunglasses coated with a mirrored surface on the outer surface. I suppose that's a statement of the blindingly obvious - having the mirrored surface on the inside would just give you an up close and personal view of the inside of each eyeball, which would be somewhat disconcerting. Armed with our sunglasses we are suddenly every American motorcycle cop we've ever seen on T.V. Miscreants pale at the image of themselves captured in our lenses and then, for added effect, we can whip the glasses off to pin them down with our steely glare.
There you have it, the ideal present. Cheap, easy to get hold of and guaranteed to deliver unlimited joy on the part of the recipient. You'll thank me for it one of these days but the happiness of my fellow man is thanks enough. Ok chaps, are you receiving, over?
This is an extract from the latest compilation of stories -
Friday, 15 November 2013
Around this time of year you will find that you're inundated with well-meaning advice from journalists and 'experts' about what to buy for Christmas...I thought that I might as well get in on the act!
If you are currently wondering what to get for the man in your life, for Christmas, birthday or any other significant occasion, then I'll let you in to a little secret. For a start off, you can forget all of your power tools. You can certainly forget them as far as I'm concerned. I have spent a good deal of my existence getting rid of tools, power-driven or otherwise, in the certain knowledge that I'm a lot safer without access to these. You see, if I have tools in my possession, then it's only a matter of time before I persuade myself, or someone persuades me (more likely) that "it's only a simple job, I'm sure you could manage it". If you don't have the necessary tools in the first place, then you can't do it and, hopefully, the evil moment will pass. Otherwise, you can finish up in the same position as someone I know who, during various spells of unemployment, has systematically demolished his own house from the inside.
Anyway, back to my original point. Forget power tools, forget also 'smellies'. We don't mind these but the problem is that we never wind up with a set of complementary products. We may start with such a set, of course, perhaps bought by some generous aunt or sister, but, in due course, various elements will run out whilst other, less useful, elements linger like a constant rebuke. Face Scrub, for instance, may prove to be surprisingly long-lasting, whereas anti-perspirant or shower gel will vanish like butter in the sun. The end result is that these are then replaced by various ad-hoc presents during the year which will, inevitably, be of an entirely different fragrance. This means that the average man, if he wears anything at all, is likely to be the olfactory equivalent of a contemporary jazz ensemble, with each player adding an entirely different tune.
So, we've established what not to get? Well, almost. Clothes are also a no-no, because we will be inclined to wear them. Even after the first trial session, when you realise with a sinking heart that you have bought something for the shape that you would like him to have, not the shape he actually has. No amount of "I could change it if you don't like it" will make any difference. In fact, the likelihood of the man in your life holding on to it grimly and insisting that he absolutely loves it will be in direct inverse proportion to how unsuitable you now think it is. Thus, that skin-tight pullover that you now realise makes him look ten months pregnant, will be the best thing you've ever bought him because, when he looks in the mirror, he sees the shape that he thinks he has and that you remembered when you bought it. The impact of fish and chips, pints of beer and zero exercise is entirely and wondrously discounted by the magical stretching abilities of modern fabrics.
Just whilst we're on this topic, why do some women of a certain weight insist on wearing clothes that are bound to emphasise the avoirdupois? Amazingly, skin-tight leggings do not have a slimming effect and neither do horizontal stripes, crop-tops or min-skirts. I'm not saying 'wear a sack and have done with it'. It's perfectly possible to be a little short for your weight and still look elegant and attractive. I accept that, according to my weight, I should be 7' 2", mind you, I'm neither elegant nor attractive.
Thursday, 14 November 2013
You see! I should be available on the NHS ;-)
Sunday, 10 November 2013
The right colour, but not our car I'm afraid!
Continuing the story that began with An 'L' of a Time
The last time we were together, I was telling you about setting off on my first Driving Test and how delighted I was that we appeared to be heading for the area around my home in South Broadway Street, Burton.
I viewed this as a good omen. How could I go wrong? I knew, as the saying goes, every crook and nanny in the area (which wasn't too far from the truth). Accordingly, I sailed around the back streets of my neighbourhood with confidence. As far as I was concerned, everything was going swimmingly. The turning around in the road, the reversing around corners, the hill starts, even the emergency stop, all went as well as I could have hoped. On a little cloud of misplaced confidence, I drove back down Burton High Street heading for the Test Centre in Rosemount Road. With hindsight, it would have been a really good idea to have kept an eye out for people waiting to cross the zebra crossing leading over to, what was, Bargates. I didn't. Apparently somebody was waiting to cross and I didn't see them. As you might imagine, this was somewhat fatal to my hopes of passing first time. From the list provided, that was not my only discretion, but was certainly the icing on the cake as far as my Examiner was concerned.
Pat was decidedly unhappy that I hadn't delivered a First Time Pass and he drove us back to Burton chuntering about the mistakes I had apparently made, more in sorrow really than anger. Talking it over during my next lesson, Pat suggested that part of the problem might be that I had no driving practice between our lessons. He was, of course, absolutely correct and, as luck would have it, something came along to solve that problem.
Dad and I came into a little money. No great fortune but, inevitably, it burned a hole in both our pockets. Rather than see it vanish across the bar counter, which was always a strong possibility, we decided to invest in a second-hand car. Not unsurprisingly, my dad knew someone who had a car for sale, and before very long we were the joint owners of an ancient but respectable Morris 1100.
In many ways this was a good car in which to learn. It was basic, had no major problems that we could see and was reasonably forgiving. It did, however, mean that I had to spend some time learning with my dad. We all know that learning with a relative is fraught with problems and we were no exception. The only time that I could nag him to go out with me was on a Sunday afternoon, when he really wanted to sleep off Sunday lunch and the few pints before it. He was, therefore, not in the best of humours and this didn't improve as I crashed the gears and nervously tackled the considerably more primitive controls, in comparison to the Honda Civic I had so far spent my time driving. After a couple of sessions that largely consisted of us screaming at each other and ready to do violence at any moment, there was an unspoken agreement that we wouldn't do this again.
The outcome was that I decided that the only way to get in the additional driving practice I needed was to get Kevin to sit with me. Unfortunately, the only problem that the car had was that it was incapable of holding its charge. After a week of being used intermittently (we could only afford the petrol to run it from time to time), by Sunday the car would not start. The answer was to draft in all of my mates on a Sunday morning to push the car up and down South Broadway Street until we managed to bump-start the thing. This could be quite an arduous exercise and I will always remember one very sedentary friend being commandeered one week and having to sit down and recover for quite some time after the first abortive attempt.
I might not be able to drive yet, but I certainly wouldn't need a gym subscription.
TO BE CONTINUED
The latest collection of Philip's stories is A Kick at the Pantry Door
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