Feeling run down with life going off the rails

As I gripped my tickets I could feel my own heart beating faster as I looked up at the plasma screen display waiting and willing the information to appear. I’d spent a king’s ransom on these tickets and while the odds were stacked against me, every week I’d stood here hoping this week that it would be my turn.

As the time slowed to a crawl a dishevelled woman whose appearance and demeanour would have been more fitting at Woodstock appeared, and addressed the hordes of people, all like myself clutching their own tickets, each with his or her own dreams intertwined with what rested in their fingertips.

The dishevelled woman’s voice boomed over the PA but at the same time remained soft, calm and yet altogether quite apathetic.

“This evening, fortune favours those who live beside the sea, anyone who resides under the number 3 is also lucky. A man wearing a blue coat will however not be blessed…”

The very vague and generic message was then followed up by a series of numbers, as each was read out my heart sank.

19, 33, 11, 4, 45, 5

Sadly this wasn’t Mystic Meg reading out the lottery numbers, this was something far more risky. I had bought a ticket for travel on a London Midland trains and it turns out that the 19:33 from platform 11 to Four Oaks was being delayed by 45 minutes due to a man throwing himself in front a train at Five Ways. This meant my ticket I had just bought was now worth about as much as your average lottery ticket (which most of you have already seen how I’ve drawn parallels with it in an attempt to fool you) and I was once again left at the mercy of London Midland in some primitive backwater stuck in a sinkhole of delays.  There was only one thing I could, break out some of Adam Kay’s finest and start waxing lyrical

Some people might like to get a train to work,

Or drive in a Beamer or a Merc.

Some guys like to travel in by bus,

But I can’t be bothered with the fuss today,

I’m gonna take my bike,

‘Cause once again the tube’s on strike.

The greedy bastards want extra pay for sitting on their arse all day,

Even though they earn 30k,

So I’m standing here in the pouring rain.

Where the fuck’s my fucking train?

London Underground, London Underground!

They’re all lazy fucking useless cunts!

London Underground, London Underground!

They’re all greedy cunts,

I want to shoot them all with a rifle!

All they say is ‘please mind the doors!’

And they learn that on their two day course,

This job could be done by a four year old,

They just leave us freezing in the cold.

What you smell is what you get.

Burger King and piss and sweat,

You roast to death in the boiling heat,

With tourists treading on your feet,

And chewing gum on every seat!

So don’t tell me to mind the gap!

I want my fucking money back!

London Underground, London Underground!

They’re all lazy fucking useless cunts!

London Underground, London Undeground!

They’re all greedy cunts;

I want to shoot them all with a rifle!

lalalala

lalalala

The floors are sticky and the seats are damp,

Every platform has a fucking tramp!

But the drivers get the day off when,

We’re all late for work again!

London Underground, London Underground!

wa wa wankers,

They’re all wankers!

London Underground!

Take your Oyster card,

And shove it up your arse…hole!

Before you click the red X in the corner of the page thinking they have stumbled upon some strategic rail authority review website let me explain the reason for this bizarre opening. Given how shocking that London Midland’s service is becoming of late I’ve had lots of time (generally on broken down or overcrowded trains or worse still freezing platforms in far flung shitholes) to ponder the parallels between my dating life and London Midland’s poor excuse for a service.

  • On my dating life I’ve had short notice cancellations, the latest came in the form of a till jockey from Next thinks that 12 minutes’ notice is more than adequate for cancelling on me. He too apologised for the inconvenience this caused, although much like the trains, I wasn’t convinced of the sincerity of it though.
  • Delays on dates have also become a frequent pastime, standing waiting in the pissing rain and howling northern winds for someone who is “just two minutes away.” Excuses range from all the usual ones such as a lack of a driver, poor weather conditions, earlier “issues”. Yet to date no one has given the honest one of “I’m sorry I just couldn’t give a shit and didn’t bother to leave on time.”
  • Paying for an exciting ride on something advertised with photo evidence as 8 carriages in length that quite clearly is only 5 carriages in length when it arrives and hardly qualifies as a pleasant ride is another all too familiar occurrence.

I could carry on with these analogies getting all the more obvious and crude as I go, but you like me have drawn the parallels here as well now I take it. Such a shame really as I haven’t had a chance to do the old train into the tunnel pun yet, hang on in there as you can be sure that one is coming soon.

Anyway back on track, my love life being the disaster it is I figured that in combining it with my professional life of equal disaster ridden proportions could perhaps then see the two negatives cancelling each other out. In addition to this and as a way of hedging my bets I reckoned what better merging of the two worlds than in dating a man who has caused me more heartache, misery and bad luck than all my last 7 years of dating combined. More unpredictable than Adam “asshole” Gorski, ruder than Flower Boy and stupider than STI pub boy…..

Yes, I was off on a date with a London Midland train driver!

Like all my major life choices this one was equally ill conceived, with little to no planning beforehand much like ditching the local Metro service at a station for the express train that will overtake it, this choice was borne out of my latest train wreck of a love affair.

Picture the scene if you will people. I’m standing on a crowded platform, waiting for a Metro service, or rather the Hetro Metro service. There I am, mocha latte in one hand and heart and soul packed in my suitcase in the other at Limbo Fucking Central standing around waiting for that fucking Hetro Metro to roll in, pick me up and tell me that my ticket is still valid! That I may board this train! However I keep hearing the dulcet tones of the station announcer who keeps telling me that my Hetro Metro train has been delayed, due to the driver suffering a major panic attack and crisis of confidence in Indecision City and taking a diversion to the scheduled route at bisexual junction.  We suggest you make alternative transport plans.

If this wasn’t bad enough the replacement service I embarked upon was the Next till jockey who decided to stand me up at 12 minutes notice. More fucking delays. FML!! Time for a short notice, last minute intervention and improvisation….where’s Grindr gone.

I never judge a date by it’s advertisements, as much like a train service, they promise the earth and generally deliver sod all. I figured adopting the mind-set of total disappointment meant that like Yazz & The Plastic Population told us back in the 80s, The Only Way Is NOT Essex, but in fact “Up.”

Being greeted by anything even remotely linked to London Midland on time is enough to induce an aneurism from the shock alone, so plus points for Train Boy when he turned up when he said he would and without managing to run some member of the public over first subsequently throwing half the country into chaos in the process.

Pleasant surprise abounded as in addition to running to time, he lived up to his description and came with a well-stocked buffet carriage.

  • Would this date stay on track and get me where I was going?
  • Would my ride include an upgrade to first class service?
  • Would my train puns keep getting worse?

The answers await you in next week’s blog folks

The Art Of War (Or At Least How To Score)

**PREVIEW**

THE COMBATANTS

Your quarry:

After you this is the most important person in the endeavour, the person you are trying to open negotiations with, hopefully leading to diplomatic relations including trade agreements, perhaps even an exchange of ambassadors and in some cases maybe even and an ongoing peace treaty between you. All of these require a cunning linguist to skilfully negotiate and effectively pull off brokering a long lasting peace treaty, quite literally one slip of the tongue and you’re in the shit, and that’s perhaps not even a euphemism.

When selecting your quarry just be sure they follow the Triple S rule

SANE

SEXY

SINGLE

I’ve never ever found someone who ticked all three boxes, you can easily get two ticked but never the third, think I’m wrong, then cast your mind back over your own dating disasters…caught up now, good good!

 

N.A.I.L.(S): (Non Aligned Inconsequential Losers)

This acronym is given to those around you who have little to no impact on your war efforts. These people are generally located in the work place, as lets be honest, you wouldn’t willingly socialise with these people, you just have the misfortune to work in the same location as them and maintain the façade that you don’t actually despite them.

 

NAILS come in a variety of different types, they range from the overweight & unattractive to the criminally insane.

 

The most commonly observed sub species of NAIL is the lethargic lummox whose body frame is on a par with that of a great Panda bear, and like the Panda bear, their great oaf like body frame is powered by a brain the size of a walnut with one singular instinct that drives them and dictates their every action…. to consume food.

 

Keeping with the Panda bear analogy ever wondered why Pandas are just so stupid and lazy? With practically no protein or vitamins, bamboo being the only source of food the lazy simpletons feed on is hardly brain food and it certainly doesn’t provide pandas with enough energy to get up and go. That’s part of the reason they only mate once a year in the wild –they just don’t have the energy to do it more often than that.

 

To make matters worse once the mother is pregnant, she’s hardly about to go out and win any mother of the year awards. The babies are so small and pregnancy has such a minimal impact on the pandas that the females often have no idea they’re pregnant and often give birth without even realising it. As a result, the mother often doesn’t recognise her cubs, which are usually born in pairs, and will then set about trying to kill the screaming babies. She might however not even notice them and just roll on top of them, crushing the cubs to death while she sleeps. If the mother actually does pay attention and decide to care for her young, she will then only choose the stronger of the two cubs and let the smaller one starve to death because her bamboo-exclusive diet ensures that she won’t have enough milk to sustain two babies.

 

You may have already been able to notice parallels between the lifestyle of the Panda and your bungling office co-workers, the only likely difference being that bamboo shoots are replaced by vending machines and the on site Starbucks, both of which offer many sugary treats for these slow witted single GCSE merchants. If you have made this connected and recognised this then these people in your workplace are most certainly NAILS, and while seemingly harmless, they are by no means the bedfellows of choice when embarking upon diplomatic negotiations or potential warfare.

TABLE FOR TWO PLEASE, I’LL HAVE THE RETRIBUTION WITH A SIDE ORDER OF IRONY

In a town with more bars than any other in England, Northampton folk can lay claim to being spoiled for choice for venues with which to wile away their afternoon with friends.  These venues range from the sublime to the kind of places you see on documentaries about Jeffrey Dahmer.

As a connoisseur of all things fine and dandy and someone who demands perfection from the service industry, (or at the very least 100% service when paying 100% of the price) I all too often find myself being let down and needing to communicate the failures in service.

This itself can be a full time job, internal bureaucracy at most national chains now means any complaint translates into several weeks of fighting your way through a gauntlet of minions, each one as inept as the last before actually having your complaint addressed by someone with enough seniority who can offer something more substantial than a free side of curly fries and a complimentary branded pen to offset your poor service.

Often viewing myself as being the world’s unluckiest customer and complaining as a defacto full time job, being offered the chance to become a mystery shopper seemed like a natural progression for me, as if nothing else at least now I could start drawing a wage from all my complaints and feedback forms that I find myself drowning in.

I take a certain amount of professional pride in my work, in so much as I never enter an establishment with preconceptions nor negatively mark down any visit based on prior visits. During the visit I may even overlook certain things if the overall service is good and team as a whole worked hard and don’t deserve the abject criticism. On the flip side however there is a threshold of my tolerance for poor service (some providers reach it far sooner than others) and when the experience is about as much fun as a terrorist attack you end up detailing every fault you can find and your report will, to quote Save The Last Dance “Lay all their shit bare!”

Writing one of these reports of awful service can be thoroughly enjoyable after the event as you detail every fault of your free meal, knowing that the fat single mother of seven who insulted your new hair colour when she thought you couldn’t hear would soon get her comeuppance once you clicked submit was a very cathartic experience. Such an experience was presented to me as a Christmas gift several weeks ago in the form of a restaurant visit. The establishment I went into shall however remain nameless as I’m not one to go for overkill when it comes to gossip (writing a blog about this place is bitchy enough no?) all I will say is that if I went their again I would need to order an extra meal, one for me and one for the man holding the gun to my head.

For anyone not in the know, the criteria for any visit is done on a very simple points chart and while the company employing you don’t give any clue as to how many points each section gives you and what the pass/fail ratio is, even the most basic simpleton can deduce that ticks – good, crosses – bad and more crosses than ticks and you’re likely in the shithouse with passing the report.

One of the first things an establishment can lose points on is not addressing their mystery diner in a certain time and not in a friendly manner. Standing at the bar of this unnamed establishment watching the minimum wage till jockey lethargically drag herself around the bar waiting to be acknowledged let alone served set the tone for the entire evening. Empires have risen and fallen in the time it took this girl to finally serve me, normally a simple apology and a bit of friendly conversation can quickly offset the wait. When the opening line however is bitching and moaning about how she has been on her own for hours and swearing about her team mates before even asking me what I want to drink (I was getting alcohol withdrawal symptoms at this point already) any chance of redemption pretty much went out the window.

As I ambled back to my table to greet my friend and mentally mark down the venue at the first stage, it was hard to conceal the unadulterated satisfaction I was feeling, if this blog gets made into a video I hope they do justice to the sound effects as if you stepped inside my head at that moment all you would be able to hear is http://youtu.be/lMYK91KmQ6g this Family Fortunes sound effect going off over and over again.

For anyone reading this and failing to understand why such a shit visit was generating such levels of joy from me then we need to travel back in time (cue wavey lines and marimba sound effects)

TWO MONTHS EARLIER

 

Onto the real reason you girls read my blogs – my dismal excuse of a lovelife. In keeping with that theme, I’ll answer a question posed by many of you.

My friends often question what motivates me to limit my dating to the 18-21 age range, the answer is an altogether quite simple one, I value brains above all else when dating someone, and sadly I’ve yet to meet anyone who even approached my standards brain wise so I have to fall back on looks, and if I’m going to limit myself to that then saggy jowls, receding hairlines and crows feet are off the agenda. I see enough of all that jazz in the mirror to last me thank you. My view is that if you’re going to get wet then you might as well go swimming so if I’m going to date someone based on looks, I should at least go for the fresher end of the market.

Often encouraged by friends to try dating people more my own age, some of the time I will break my rules if said date is good looking and can entertain me with banter. If you can picture the latest scene, I’ve gone on a date with a lad who is 28 years old, quite good looks and good physique but somewhat of a bungalow (10 life points if you get the reference there – Alex Dewey & Emma Gordon I’m counting on you two). Again I limit my bitching and they shall remain nameless. I merely paint the picture, it’s up for you the reader to pass judgement.

While I’m not tight by any means, I’m an investment banker at heart so it’s ingrained in me to make sure I get a good return on any investment. When you’ve pampered your date with a spa treatment, travelled 50 miles to a historic city, taken in some history and culture, visited the set of a TV show they like, gone for romantic meal for two, spent the night in a hotel and then visited the birthplace of Winston Churchill and had fun in a hedgemaze the following day and they only had to put their hand in their pocket to pay for petrol, it’s not too much to ask for clear feedback if they are interested or not and a token gesture of thanks.

We’ve all been there on both sides of this argument haven’t we, you’ve got the attention of someone and you are not that interested and have to have to the awkward conversation with them. Back in the 80s and early 90s this was a nightmare! All such conversations had to be done face to face and Glen Close’s antics in Fatal Attraction did nothing to ease any upcoming tension when such a conversation was on the cards. Nowadays it really is a piece of piss, with Facebook, e-mails, text messages and god knows how many instant messenger applications you can compose a really long and thought out message and with a single push of a touchscreen phone, send through a cyberspace the digital equivalent of a Nuclear Missile aimed on a trajectory of the other persons dreams and decimate it beyond any hope of recovery. I know how easy this is as I’ve initiated quite a few terrorist attacks and caused wide scale collateral damage myself after many a night out.

The point is sufficiently made though that when technology makes it is so easy to rebuff someone, to just ignore them all together rather than just tell them smacks of bad manners. Such an example of bad manners is someone sending you flowers inviting you out again and sending a text message reply answering with

“Your delivery has arrived – lol”

LOL??!! – What the fuck is funny about flowers being delivered?

While it irks me when people use lol and such phrases in conversation so much that I feel like I’m Batman messaging The Joker, to go on and ignore the invitation posed and to not even issue a thanks for the flowers will promote you to a high ranking spot on my shit list. Once the anger had subsided and calm and order had been restored, I analysed the situation and considered the bullet I had dodged with this buffoon, while this boy had looks and a good body, he was lacking in the most basic manners (even the crazy pole from last Valentines day had basic manners and brought me chocolates) but most importantly of all he had little to offer in the way of career prospects. While yes he was a “manager” in his field of employment, when working in a customer facing role as a till jockey the career path is limited. Companies simply fool you into believing you are more senior as you have graduated from taking the money from the customer to put in the till, to taking the money from the till and putting it into the safe. Amongst any establishment of those who jockey a till for minimum wage for a living, one jockey needs to be in charge of the other jockeys, being this more senior till jockey does not a career make. Career failings aside if this wasn’t enough reason, the fact his profile picture on various dating sites was self shot, taken on a mobile phone, looking in the mirror of a toilet at the pub where he worked should have set alarm bells ringing for me.

As previously mentioned I take professional pride in my work, and of late it seems dating morons is a second full time job that I also manage to hold down. With this in mind I cut my losses and moved on remaining confident that our paths would not cross in the future…..That was until an assignment for mystery dining at a local pub landed on my lap, this local pub only happened to be the very same pub flower boy worked at.

They say that revenge is a dish best served cold, they also say that revenge is sweet, however in keeping with the food analogy I’ve always found that revenge is all the more succulent when seasoned with irony, and what could be more ironic than flower boy pissing me off by failing to give me feedback after our handful of dates and me being presented with the opportunity to provide him with some quality feedback.

If you can fast forward back to the present and the start of my meal, the fact I’d adopted a mature attitude that I was not going to give an unfair review to flower boys pub meant this was all down to his team of till jockeys to determine how this evening played out, and from my point of view, they did not disappoint one bit.

The food was passable at best, but as with all assignments it was free and any discomfort over the food was offset by the pleasure of how this assignment was going;

The staff lazed about like they were all competing in a Homer Simpson lookalike contest, when serving me my food the waitress sounded as though she was phoning in a bomb threat ( I actually felt some mild intimidation about eating my food) the 2 minute checkback never came, the filthy plates adorned the table like ornamental fixtures for the entirety of my stay and the toilets looked like something out of a horror movie. The only redeeming quality has been that I’ve yet to be informed that my curry contained any horse meat, although the fact that Pedro the Mexican potwash boy had gone missing at the time gave me a slight concern.

Had I been paying for this I would have left feeling indignant at the shower of shit that so poorly served me and gone away a very unhappy customer, as it was I left overjoyed and went home to scribe my report while all the details were fresh in mind.

The moral of the story is probably that if you’re dating multiple people at once like flower boy was, at least have the balls to give someone feedback when you’re not interested in them rather than keeping them as a back up option in case your other date fails, and if you’re not going to do that and you’re aiming to piss people off, make sure it’s not someone like Roguetrader1980 who specialises in retribution in twisted and ironic ways.

So in conclusion while I don’t know the exact score that was handed down to the pub, I think it’s safe to say that flower boy won’t be getting a gold star from his area manager and could probably kiss goodbye to his quarterly bonus as well. What can I say beyond what has already been said? Well if you’re reading this flower boy, then please rest assured that I mean what I’m about to say from the bottom of my heart, as right now I am very much laughing out loud

LOL

Bon Appetite – My cookery date conclusion

For anyone reading this who has been on the edge of your seat since April awaiting the conclusion of the ménage a trios cookery date experiment, you’d be forgiven for thinking I bought the farm and did in fact end up dead in a ditch off the A45 after never penning the conclusion.

 

The sad truth is that I was evicted from my flat and have been forced into a lifestyle mirroring that of some form of Albanian cave sloth trading favours with people in exchange for use of spare rooms. While it is true that most of my calamities that I manage to find myself in are the result of going on dates with alcoholics, workaholics, commit phobes or general socially maladjusted emotional fuckwits, this latest disaster has nothing to do with my love life,

as let’s be honest here, how shit has your date got to be if it results in you losing your home?

 

The details of my enforced departure will be covered at some stage in the future with all the usual spin and over dramatised one liners, however at the moment the situation is being handled by the legal system whereby my opponent (a thoroughly unpleasant fat man aided by a technologically inept employee) see fit to quote various things they see in writing by me all over the internets not even related to the case. With those rules of engagement laid down can you then imagine the self gratification he would experience if there was actually a blog dedicated to him?

 

I have had to draw the a line in the sand somewhere with what I post as if he is to start stalking & quoting my blogs where would he go next, what if he was able to invade my thoughts and dreams, imagine the things he would be able to see, quote and pass judgement on in that lawless plane of existence? It doesn’t even bear thinking about does it??

 

All I will say is that arguing with this man is like playing chess with a pigeon (me being me, him being the pigeon) in that no matter how expert a player I am and no matter what master moves I pull off, the pigeon still proceeds to prance around the board, knocking over all the pieces as it goes, and then starts shiting all over the board before finally standing there looking victorious.

 

Anyway, one paragraph is more time and effort than I’d care to waste so back onto the subject matter at hand. The trio of dates.

 

The dessert, when last we left matters I was a pseudo cripple, trying to formulate an escape plan down a dark and deserted Abington street from the Polish boy who had just told me he had planned to stab me. Despite all my many skills and abilities of misdirection, apparently when faced with imminent death and no ability to escape it my supposed Poker face was by no means worthy of a Lady GaGa homage.

 

I know this as Polish boy suddenly got very angry asking why I thought he was being serious, his poor English and lack of understanding about English culture had lead him to believe that what he had just said and been saying over text (Asshole asshole asshole etc) was actually sarcasm or to quote him “You know, you English people you say the thing you not mean and is funny yes?”

 

So suffice to say after this revelation I was suddenly filled with hope, not only that I was not actually about to die, but moreso that perhaps I had got this one all wrong and any insults were merely a cross cultural misunderstanding?

Was his heart in the right place after all, or was this all a ruse and he just wanted to check what place my heart was in with his trusty knife later on in the night?? Only time would tell.

 

Despite my misgivings and warnings from the phone tree of friends I decided to finish the date round at mine. No ulterior motive for me for a change, more for Polish boy as he was so paranoid that if anyone saw him in a pub with a friend having a drink that their Sherlock Holmes esc detective skills would have them figuring out his sexual preference before you could start singing Tragedy (replete with all the Steps dance movements.)

 

This trend continued back at mine with him insisting we drew all the curtains before we sat down. I tried to explain to him that if any of my neighbours ever saw me getting down and dirty in my flat I’m pretty sure they would be the ones closing the curtains. He ended up leaving after a few drinks and returned the following night armed with a box of chocolates as he was genuinely concerned his sarcasm attempt had offended me. Never before had a date done such a complete 180 in this direction, as all my singleton friends will attest to, they only start off nice to only turn into total shits later on.

 

So with several mouthfuls of dessert to sufficiently whet your appetite I’ll swing back to the first course of the pub manager starter. Well in the story we’d left him in the pub during Millhouse’s birthday acting like a drunken mess, and believe me with hindsight leaving him in the pub a drunken mess there in the real world would have been the best option all round, it would have meant not letting Millhouse down for her birthday antics and actually being able to enjoy my night.

 

What transpired next was an act borne of immense manners and politeness, in a return to my apartment where he was staying the night, without me having to draw you a picture about how we arrived at it

the conversation turned to the subject matter of “protection”  not long after we arrived back, and by protection I’m not talking about some Comet extended cover plans at £100 in case you substandard DVD player made by an unskilled child in Korea who worked their fingers to the bone happens to break down after a week.

 

Northern pub boy quite confidently told me he had no need for protection, naturally I was curious about the whys and wherefores;

Did he posses some form of Captain Scarlet indestructible immune system and was immune to the most virulent plague?

Judging by what 3 pints did to him I was sceptical but I’d let him run with his theory before I became too judgemental. The story went along the lines of getting to know lads first before taking that big plunge. This all seemed to make sense to me as I recalled the many ups and downs of our deep meaningful relationship that was now an entire week old, and I thought back to the setting of when I first met him on the dance floor of a particularly salubrious nightclub while both of us were shall we say “three sheets to the wind.”

I couldn’t help but question his screening criteria and deem it as, shall we say not entirely robust.

Nonetheless he explained how there was a second part to his elaborate screening process, and this was to do with people’s income and profession. Apparently it transpired (on his planet he lived on at least) that once you earned over a certain salary threshold you were immune to certain infections, as his last significant other used to be an accountant and earned at least £30k. I’ve heard of incentives being provided to employees wishing to climb the career ladder but never before had an immunity to STI’s with your healthcare plan ever been made aware to me once you reach a certain level in a company??

 

After several hours of searching, the BUPA website also failed to mention this too. Could it be this drunken mess had actually stumbled upon the biggest conspiracy and underground society in the history of world medicine?

 

If so this boy was a genius and not a catch you’d want to throw back in a hurry.

He then went on to explain how his a former partner of his also used to work in a nightclub, but not any old position, no this man was the owner and manager of said nightclub in Leicester, which again apparently made him not just immune to disease but apparently far more refined in his choice of companion each night. Again his words seemed to have a ring of truth to them. Never before had I encountered a man in his 30s running a nightclub ever using his position, influence, money and access to booze to his advantage when it came to wooing all the teenage patrons. This man of whom he spoke would clearly have been no exception to this rule of what fine upstanding gentlemen that owners of nightclubs are. While this seafood starter clearly had confidence in his screening process, it seemed that if I chose this meal, salmonella and botulism would be the least of my illness worries as the crab claw in my seafood salad might be replaced by another form of crab altogether. The next morning we said our goodbyes as I bundled him out of my flat and quickly followed up with a template text:

 

Dear <<insert name>>

Thanks for a lovely time at <<insert venue>> on <<insert date>>, I just don’t think I’m in the right place to commit to a relationship/I’m still getting over my ex/It’s not you it’s me/I’m moving away to Libya/We want different things* 

I hope we can still be friends

*delete as applicable  

 

Might be the cowardly shits way out, but it’s more polite than just ignoring someone and far less shitty than I’m capable of.

 

So much like a goldilocks fairytale with one dish being too cold and falling foul of food hygiene laws, and the other dish now seeming to be too hot to handle the obvious answer would seem to be in the middle dish who, if the fairytale was correct would be just right?

Right?

Wrong!

This cockney curry proved to be a couple of poppadums short of a takeaway, no sooner had I been on a few dates with said boy when the incessant emails at work started and clingy needy behaviour that is oh so attractive (I can’t really criticise too much as I’m no doubt guilty of it at times myself)

 

On it’s own this would not be so bad however to make matters worse though someone who had joined my local gym and I had exchanged a few words with later transpired to be the boy’s former partner in crime. Much as I’m sure you would love to be bored with the grey drab details that add nothing to the overall story in the middle I’ll fast forward to the end when despite being split up and professing to hate one another and not speaking both boys were messaging me independently as they had clearly gotten wind I knew both of them (one has to question how they both knew this) and both thought I was involved in some kind of uber conspiracy to date them both with the potential benefits of doing such a scheme, are still to this day unknown to me.

 

Something that underpins any relationship I seek to be in is that of a reckonable level of intelligence, I appreciate that everyone is all at different levels on the IQ scale and we all want Mr. Right to be the most perfect person ever in every respect, but c’mon folks mix in a dash of pragmatism with those cooking recipes.

 

Being of an IQ of 138 and amongst the top 5% of the nation means generally in any social group I’m one of the smartest if not THE smartest in the group and find it hard to find someone who is my equal, (evidently telling this story places me as the most arrogant as well) even so I still have some standards I hope to be met.

 

When a guy cannot accept that in a small community of only a few hundred people all of whom date one another and all frequent the same establishments, some crossover and networking is no doubt bound to occur I am forced to question his overall raw intelligence and if he meets this standard.

 

My mind then spins theories about what would our future hold living with such a deranged conspiracy freak. I see a world, 10 years in the future we’re living together and the postman delivers a letter from E-ON about an electricity bill being high just as the toaster pops the breakfast toast up, is this the work of the mole people too, seeking to slash our electricity bills.

What if one cold morning the car didn’t start as he was on his way to an important meeting at work??

Was his boss out to screw him over?

If so how did he achieve this sabotage of the car?

Did it mean I was in on this too?

Who were my accomplices in this sabotage?

What else was I plotting?

 

OK so maybe I’m over-dramatising this but the these warning signs all serve a clear purpose and tell us when things are never going to work out, seeing as I ignore a great deal of the wise words my heads tells me I feel it’s only fair to listen to it once in a while. The end result with my main course was shifting the curry around the plate and then slyly feeding most of it to the dog at the first available opportunity.

 

With starters and main courses down and dessert being my only option remaining and my overall favourite from the start the odds would seem to be in my favour but like all games of chance things can change on the turn of a card.

 

The followings weeks with the Polish dessert were punctuated with events of insanity and unpredictability increasing in both frequency and intensity. A gathering at my house on a Friday evening with friends resulting in takeaways and family sized bottles of soft drinks will generally evolve into a Saturday morning of takeaway containers and leftovers adorning every table in my lounge. Now while I would never offer someone half eaten pizza the following day, mainly due to it serving as a perfectly adequate breakfast for me, the soft drinks all bottled with lids securely on are fair game for my future guests.

 

Words cannot truly describe the look of disgust on the Polish’s boy face when in his thirst driven state of mind he realised my only Diet Coke in the house had been stored for the past 24 hours on a table in my lounge flanked by brothers in arms of Dr. Pepper and Fanta Orange. It was an expression I have only seen reserved for movies where parents are asked to sacrifice their first born children. Not content with judging my arrangements for soft drinks post party and announcing he will have water instead, he then decides to open my cupboards (no that’s a euphemism for something else you foul minded people) and proceed to interrogate me on what he finds inside.

Why are my pickled onions and gherkins stored in a cupboard rather than the fridge??

 

Rhetoric was spouted and threats of illness were made if I did not abandon my haphazard wayward antics in this carefree method of food storage. The tirade of abuse continued demanding to know my motivations for my actions and the names of co-conspirators in this act of biological terrorism. I stood firm and refused to bow to pressure, the checkout lady at Morrisons, Dagmara who gave me a lift home to transport the pickles and many other patrons of my parties such as Hayley Jackon & Alexandra Dewey were able to sleep soundly thanks to my heroic silence as I was not about to grass my friends and colleagues up.

 

They all say that God loves a trier (is this even a word?) so I committed myself to see this thing through, if for no other reason than Polish boy was hot and out of my 3 chosen dates it would be nice to get some form of pay-off for all my efforts thus far with at least one of them.

This finally culminated by me being greeted with a text message invitation early on a Saturday morning that read more like a hostage demand. “You want to see movie – Battleship, you be at cinema 18.00 tonight?” to then be followed up ten minutes later by “?” and then followed an hour later by a torrent of abuse for ignoring him. After explaining that generally while sprinting at 20kph or climbing at 3000ft per hour at the gym I did not give full attention to my phone a date was nonetheless set.

 

The cinema date culminated in a handshake outside Sol Central at 9pm by which time I had to conclude that all my hard work and effort were not getting me a good return and if I was going to continue enduring his criticisms about my food storage I wanted a little more contact that a solitary handshake. I made the choice to cut my losses and fed the dessert to the dogs.

 

Looking back now several months after the trio of disasters can I honestly say I learned anything from my experiment, beyond simply whoever told these three just “be yourself” couldn’t have given worse advice if they tried. I like to end all bad experiences on a lesson learned so I take something away with me in the hopes of not repeating the mistake, given my track record of disaster dating you’d think I’d be the acknowledged master now.

 

After a long hard look at the hands I had been dealt and the cards I had ultimately played this was not simply a matter of chance as the law of averages says at least one of these dates should have ended better.

After listening to a classic 90s old skool tune of “Shake Your Head” & hearing a particularly poignant lyric of “you can’t drink lava from plastic glasses” and then looking deeper I’d become acutely aware that the theory itself was sound, my problem was the ingredients, no chef, not even the master Gordon Ramsey can produce a banquet for a king of Fortnum & Mason proportions when he is served with dregs from the bargain bucket at Poundland.

 

If I had to some up this whole debacle in a single phrase then I’m reminded of the words of wisdom from my good friend Simon England in Thailand.

 

You can’t Polish a teurd.

I sadly tried this and as you might expect ended up covered in shite for my trouble.

 

Bon fucking appetite indeed.

Dealing dice, dicing dates & dating deadbeats

In every endeavour in life, from cooking the perfect meal to getting the perfect hairstyle (www.octopus-hair.co.uk for me – shameless plug) you need to invest time into whatever it is you are doing with the hopes of getting something rewarding in return, the generally accepted mantra is the more time you invest the better your return.

Invariably though in any endeavour there is what time management experts call “dead time,” pockets of several minutes between moments of activity where you wait and do nothing, time these experts claim could & should be better used. Whether it’s catching up on emails on your blackberry while your colour foils develop at the salon or loading the dishwasher in the kitchen while your soufflé rises in the oven, we all have these pockets of time in life where we waste our time through being inactive and simply waiting.

To remain with our cooking analogy, time is also a key factor here as if you spend too much time (generally coupled with too much heat) on preparing a dish your food ends up burnt and not at all enjoyable, likewise spent too little time and your food is undercooked and ingredients are ruined. (there is however the small chance of being able to rescue your meal but hardly an ideal situation) When cooking the perfect three course meal there are these pockets of dead time in which we cannot do anything with the current dish so we aim to use this time by preparing another dish. These elementary cooking facts aside, this is basic time management that companies regularly dip into the coffers for to pay consultants ridiculous amounts in order for them to apply these most basic principles to their businesses.

One other basic idea that has been milked for all it’s worth is the gambling scene, more specifically casino table games. Despite all my bluster and bravado about my superior wits and ability to memorise numbers through card counting, virtually all of these casino games are games of chance.

We constantly subconsciously ask ourselves “Will the roulette ball land on black or red? Will the number be odd or even? Will the blackjack dealer produce a heart or a spade and will it be higher or lower than an eight?”

We all hope for the odds to go in our favour and to win at the game we’re playing, and while this is something we can’t accurately predict or control you can however hedge your bets by placing your chips over several numbers on the spin of a roulette wheel to increase the chances one of them will yield a return.

Having formally worked for a well known investment bank I can tell you that their risk management strategies are not that different really from casino ventures, just thrown your money (and by your I mean YOUR money, not theirs) in as many places as possible and hope for the best.

Investment banking critique aside, compare the dating game to both the above scenarios. Both dating and casino table games are somewhat games of chance that we delude ourselves into thinking we have control over. The dating game also shares parallels with cooking, large amounts of time invested nurturing a potential dish, followed by periods of leaving well alone, with the returns equivalent to the time invested, and thus we aim to invest the correct amounts of time for the best possible returns.

Now reading it all written down clinically like this with the emotion and the heat of the moment taken out if it seemed so simple to me, I needed to apply the rules of both the dice of the craps tables & the dicing at the chopping board to those of the dating game if I were to be a winner.  I needed to hedge my bets by spreading the risk with multiple wagers and use the dead time when your starter is cooking to prepare your main course and maybe even a dessert.

Was this where I had been going wrong for so long? Gambling all my chips on a single throw of a dice and wondering why I never won more than an apologetic smile. I decided that if I was going to win big I was going to have to bet big, and spread the risk.  I figured that if I increased my odds by a factor of three. One of these hands was bound to yield a result.

The answer was painfully obvious – I was going to have to turn into something of a slut to test my new found theory.

With my gambling plan in mind I then moved onto the cooking side of the venture and opted for preparing my three course meal. I hoped that the preparation time between one date could be maximised by focusing on the other two. With morals left at the door I embarked out on a shopping spree to harvest my ingredients, to buck my usual trend of freshly picked from the vine produce, I instead opted for suitably ripe and ready for cooking ingredients. For my starter I picked out a seemingly nice mature 26 year old blonde pub manager, the main course would consist of a 23 year old cockney co-worker from my current job, and finally for dessert I decided on a taste of Eastern Europe in the form of a 26 year old Polish dish.

And so my plate spinning, casino come cooking themed courtship experiment began in earnest with the starter of our pub manager. It became obvious from the onset, this was a food dish that needed constant attention while cooking it to ensure that it didn’t go off the boil. The attention was in the form of replying to every pointless text message of:

“hello, how are you?”

“OMG it’s so busy at work, how are you?”

“I’m off to an area meeting today, how are you?”

Generally speaking my mood doesn’t change much over the course of 3 days so there is little point in continually asking & checking, the exception to the rule however is getting spammed with birthday levels of text messages, each one more pointless than the last resulting in my mood deteriorating quite quickly. Ever the optimist though I persevered, as some of the best food dishes require a lot of effort in making but are worth it in the end. I resigned myself to carry on shelling metaphorical prawns & crab claws, stinking of rotten marine life& replying to his pointless messages in the hopes of the perfect seafood salad starter.

Somehow in-between all of this I managed to make a start on the main course. A product of London town and requiring much less attention was the main course of the co-worker. In truth this one I was able to juggle much easier due to the borderline abuse of communication tools in the work place. It has always amused me how offices frown upon people using mobiles to text their friends yet give each employee an Outlook account with which they use to gossip, bitch, backstab and flirt with co-workers all while appearing outwardly to be performing an Olympic amount of work at their computer terminals. I sadly am no exception to this rule and while fulfilling my all too easy minimum wage work quota I was also filling my boots by low level flirting & arranging a date. Several emails and phone calls later my main course of cockney curry was coming along nicely with a first date scheduled for the 2nd Saturday of the month.

While those of you who have read the previous entry about the crazy Polish and his antics may question if I was actually the insane one when you learn that I opted to embark upon a date with him, I worked on the logic another betting stake on the table would increase my overall odds of a winning hand. However if I ended up dead in a ditch off the A45 I am not sure how even I could spin it and be considered a winner. Therefore with much planning & strict timescales of when to call the police given to my friends should I not check in I arranged a meeting in The Eastgate pub with the patience deprived Pole on the 3rd Saturday of the month. Not exactly my ideal location for a first date but this location was apparently non-negotiable. Despite all the misgivings everyone else had and flashing neon warning signs of Las Vegas sized proportions, the Pole was the one I was actually most interested in, perhaps due to my penchant for Eastern Europeans looks and culture, perhaps it was the danger element that got my adrenaline running, or perhaps it was just the fact this situation was so unpredictable and different it was the most interesting.

However as children we are taught before you can have your desserts you must first finish your mains, and of course before you can eat your mains you should make a start on your starters and so after an initial meal in his pub an official date with the needy pub manager was arranged for the 1st Saturday of the month. Utilising the rules of the Blackjack table I opted to increase my chances of a winning hand even further by bringing some of the best minds I know into the mix to help me strategise. By bringing needy pub manager along to Millhouse’s return to the UK party I would have the girl power brains of Flissimo, Millhouse, Meadows & Miss Fiddly Fidler on hand, these shrewd dating veterans were guaranteed to help analyse my potential wager and advise on how to maximise my potential return.

As it turns out their input was totally not needed as needy pub manager very quickly demonstrated that he was the very epitome of over-promise and under-deliver without any need for debate. Firstly agreeing to spend the whole weekend with me and arranging to come to mine for 4pm for food and banter before heading to Millhouse’s party at 8pm. Him finally turning up at 7.15pm after multiple phone calls every half hour promising “I’ll be there in 30mins” resulted in a very hungry Roguetrader1980, and when my blood sugar gets low it takes my tolerance with it. Given my temper & razor sharp tongue are nudging tourettes afflicted psychopath at the best of times this really didn’t bode well.

We embarked upon our trip to the party so I could at least nurse my bad mood with a bottle of Crabbies. The 45 minutes and 2 pints between our arrival and that of the party guest’s arrival was punctuated with complaints about the pub being rough and how his Hungry Horse pub was far better, (anyone from Northampton who knows the Charles Bradlaugh will share my feelings of disagreement here) criticisms about my choice of drink along with several comments & stories that were the equal to any tranquilizer currently available on the drugs market. Were it not for his northern accent that was sufficiently grating on what few nerves I had left and keeping my adrenaline pumping, the lack of food and monosyllabic waffle would normally result in me being passed out in a heap.

Finally my friends arrived to me presenting them with my starter in this cooking experiment. Sadly it would appear this dish had been unwittingly over- marinated as during his 3rd pint of Guinness he was announcing to everyone how he was:

“Fookin steaming – ay oop t’mill”

Or potentially some other witless northern phrase – truth be told I wasn’t 100% sure as I’d fast learned how to zone most it out by now.

Critics say the first bite of a meal is with the eye, and at this point, this seafood salad starter was not looking appetising, anything but. I elected for the age old anorexics  trick of shuffling the food around the plate, or in this case, shuffling the drunken northern mess around the pub to each of my friends to deal with while I spoke to other friends at the opposite end of the pub in an attempt to salvage my night out.

Drawing on the casino logic my leading hand of Blackjack was not going well and didn’t look likely to end with a win, but such is the nature of the game when placing multiple wagers, not every hand can simultaneously win. We will return to the starter shortly to give a final verdict but for now I’d like to fast forward to the 2nd Saturday and the main course.

By comparison this dish appeared to be a far easier proposition. Meet for drinks and banter and see how it goes. This date would appear to be similar to preparing a curry, just throw a load of ingredients into a pot, stir regularly and leave to slow cook. Just the kind of dish I like in all senses of the word. This would have been a the perfect first date if not for dessert calling and texting “Asshole asshole asshole” so much during the evening that I had to turn my phone off. Clearly dessert warranted as much attention, if not more than the drunken northern mess that was the starter. Thank god the main course was simple enough to juggle with these two. Our main course was tended to for much of the following week as well, even culminating in a mid-week Wednesday date. On paper at this stage the main course seemed to be the most satisfying and best return on my time of them all.

When cooking a three course meal, if the mains are simmering nicely and do not need anything further then your attention must be shifted to the dessert, and at this stage dessert was certainly demanding attention. So we fast forward again, this time to the 3rd Saturday of the month at the Eastgate. As I walked up the stairs with my pint of diet coke preparing to meet a potential psychopath I suddenly became very aware of how awkward the initial conversation would be, after all the majority of the texts thus far had cycled through just about every swear word, starting from his favourite of “Asshole” all the way through to “Good morning cunt”. I spotted him in the corner, handsome and unassuming, was this really the same lunatic? I went in for the kill with “hello asshole” and asked in a jokey way if he was going to keep up the banter by calling me asshole some more hoping to break the tension. The reaction was a nervous blank smirk and the next five minutes of conversation was like pulling teeth, I found out he worked at pets at home in the warehouse and hadn’t been to the gym for a while. I am not putting this in shorthand, it really was as simple and deadpan replies as

“So what do you do for a job then?” – Pets at home in warehouse!

“You haven’t been to the gym much lately?” – No!

He then abruptly stood up shook my hand and told me he didn’t think I was an asshole and how it was good to meet me and he would see me again soon and just walked off.

I sat in a state of disbelief for about 30 seconds questioning if a new record had been made for the shortest first date of my life. My look of awe was broken by a text from said date simply saying “Asshole” this was then followed up minutes later by a text inviting me to meet him outside and we could go elsewhere. At this stage alarm bells were ringing in my head, 8pm on a dark Saturday night, plenty of dark alleys near the pub to be dragged down and bludgeoned to death in. I duly texted my phone tree of friends of this development and how I was heading down to the cab rank to get a cab home in case I walked home and he followed me in order to drown me in the canal.

As I left the pub and checked the surrounding I couldn’t see anyone so opted to make a brisk walk to the cab rank, made all the more difficult by 3 hours worth of spin classes at the gym earlier that day. Out of the shadows this figured appeared shouting my name and began running after me down Abington Street. At this stage you cannot comprehend what was going through my mind, it was liking watching a classic movie like Titanic when you see the iceberg and know what is coming, you’ve seen all the pitfalls throughout the movie that will cause their demise and screamed at the movie screen. For me it’s like I was watching a horror movie of my life and I was about to become the latest victim. I started thinking how if I had not done the charity spinathon earlier I could likely outrun this killer down Abington Street (which by the way was the first time I have ever seen it so amazingly empty and absent of drunken partygoers). He duly caught up with me and asked why I was shaking and if I was scared, a question that will always serve to elicit an answer of yes when asked by a crazy person. When I started to frantically text the phone tree about this abrupt change of plans explaining to him what I was doing I was greeted with the chilling reply. “You think that I am going to kill you out here in the street?” Tapping his coat pocket and not offering a single shred of emotion as he kept his gaze locked on me he concluded his statement with “No I have knife that I kill you later with”……..

Would the seafood starter be worth the effort I had already invested in it, or would he prove to be a breeding ground for botulism & e-coli??

Would my main course of cockney curry be the dish I was looking for???

Would my Polish dessert actually kill me and prevent me from writing the conclusion to this blog entry?????

I’ll conclude this entry by leaving you on the same knife-edge I was apparently on as well, albeit with far less jeopardy for those of you sitting behind a computer screen, but I can promise these culinary questions and more will be answered in the second part of my blog next Saturday.

Wishes to Cupid, contractually binding? If so where does one complain?

Valentines day, a day filled with surprises and gestures of love, where two people share their love for one another by lavishing attention on the other.

This is hallmark version you see on a thousand cards in a thousand shops, if you’re me however it’s a day of monotony, dullness and having your blood sugar levels overload through watching other couples with sickeningly sweet gestures.

One of the many perks of being an overly intelligent cynic, is the ability to justify reasons for being single on this hallmark holiday by listing the flaws every man you meet has and how he could never hope to keep with a mind of such vast mental agility, even going so far as dumping an ex on Valentine’s day for the practical reason of the relationship not working. However as 2012 is supposedly the end of the world I endeavoured to buck this trend by telling myself that this Valentine’s day, I too would be lavished with attention, and it would be from someone shockingly hot, with the guts to stand up to me and challenge my views…and maybe eastern European if I’m lucky. I duly put forward my wish to the ambassador of Valentine’s day, that flying dwarf Cupid.

In hindsight perhaps I should have consulted my case law reference books for better wording on what I was wishing for because as it stands right now what I’m wishing for is to start legal proceedings against that little bastard Cupid for breach of contract.

I am going to put it to you, the people of the internet reading this blog to act as my jury. Read the facts, see through the spin, examine the evidence, deliberate on the merits of my argument and finally pass judgement.

On the morning of Saturday 11th February 2012 the chain on events innocently started with a Facebook poke of a mutual friend after he liked one of my comments. The boy in question was a member of the same gym and name implied Slavic descent, also said mutual friends were, like me, proud owners of the Steps Gold album so I opted to take a punt and poke away.

Six hours later we’re at the honeymoon stage of a new Facebook friendship, following the example set by so many friend collectors out there with psychological issues indiscriminately adding everyone they meet, I opened with the classic “Hello” followed by the equally classic “How’s you.” This bollocks went on for around about 20 minutes, by which time I had discovered this boy was Polish and while likely also owned the Steps album as well, his musical tastes were very much not deemed a topic of public conversation. Then suddenly without warning something quite unusual happened, I was told by said Pole that I was not attractive. While I am not so much of a narcissist that I am shocked to hear this, I cannot seem to recall being told this after being asked out for a drink. While most normal people would balk at this behaviour, sadly for me I work bloody hard at being abnormal so bizarre antics serve only to spur me on further.

While I was not able to meet the boy that night (I am a rules boy after all, no dates on a Saturday are accepted later than a Wednesday) the offensive comments increased in frequency and intensity all the way up to Valentine’s Eve. Since Valentine’s day I have been besieged with texts, phone calls, facebook wall posts and just about every other form of communication you can imagine in this modern day world.

The watch word is very much “Asshole” as my Polish provider of pesting and attention switches from calling me an Asshole to asking me out for coffee. It would seem from my own point of view that his Steps Gold album is very much hidden away in the deepest recesses of his musical collection, while he enjoys humming away to the songs, he is unsure about putting the CD on and listening to the music out loud.

So 1 week and 2 days after Valentine’s day, I’m still stuck on this merry go round of Asshole texts in the evening, followed up by how are you texts with kisses in the morning wanting to meet for coffee, culminating in more Asshole texts again that evening. In truth this is the longest I’ve ever had a man so undeniably hot pay me such consistent intense attention.

But if we’re looking at this objectively, (as I imagine that the coroner at my inquest will do when I am found dead in a ditch off the A45) then I think we need to label this type of attention as at best erratic and at worse, criminally insane.

So in summary it would appear that I did get all I asked for this Valentine’s day, an imensly hot Polish boy, lavishing me with attention wanting to meet me with no sign of letting up, he got the guts to stand up to me and put me in my place, and this isn’t just a flash in the pan as evidenced by the non stop messages I keep getting. Sadly he appears to be psychotic, something certainly NOT requested on my Cupid wish list cue my demand to be compensated for breach of contract.

However it seems in the case of Roguetrader1980 –V- Cupid the defendant has pointed out that there was no sanity clause worded into my Valentine’s day wish so I am quite literally up crazy creek without a supply of Prozac or Valium. So we have to ask ourselves, in all these elaborate rituals of deception that we embark upon to find love, when we wish for it, is sanity not a given trait we all want in our partners, or do we need to specifically word it into our wishes.

In the eternal words of the Monkey’s Paw proverb my fellow guys, girls and gays. Be careful what you wish for in love, be very careful… as you might just get it.

Snow White & The Seven Twats – My Disney fairytale

There comes a time, more often than not the start of a new year or a milestone birthday when one starts to self-assess one’s life and generally starts with the relationships or lack thereof. For any fellow singletons out there this moment is punctuated with self-doubt, fear and desperation to find anyone to ride out this temporary lull, more often than not it’s the wrong person, in my case it’s a whole bunch of wrong people in short succession as though there was a queue and all these losers have their ticket just waiting in the wings to ruin my day and my hairline.

At times like these we all watch movies trying to look for inspiration and dating tips, well I say tips, insights, experience, loopholes anything that you can get at my age really, I can’t afford to be fussy. Some little pearl of wisdom, or failing that we try to fit them into our lives, identifying with the lead character’s flaws and strengths and wishing that life was like a Disney fairy-tale with a happy ending.

I guess all of you like me, self-identify and wish ourselves as the perfect lead character, perhaps you are sleeping beauty asleep in the castle, locked away waiting for our prince charming to come and rescue us with a kiss.

In my case sadly life is nothing like Disney and even if it was then going by my track record I’d be woken up by a piss rather than a kiss, a lovely streaming jet of stinking hot yellow waste product drenching me and rousing me from my hundred yearlong slumber before perhaps being bitten to death by Prince Charming in a drug induced frenzy on his 21st birthday. You may laugh thinking this is merely a play on words but I’ve been in situations where it has been a piss rather than a kiss that Prince Charming thought was the more romantic of the two. If this were just a temporary lull it wouldn’t be so bad but If we’re listing the alternate version that never saw print and all the myriad horrors in which Sleeping Beauty could have been woken there are a lot of options to choose, each as equally grim as the next.

There’s perhaps the scenario of being woken by the noises of farmyard animals made by the Prince Charming as he reaches climax, while entertaining it’s not exactly long term marriage material, however that’s nothing compared to the version of the story in which Prince Charming’s glass eye results in him going to the wrong castle through poor vision. That version might also include him wearing the Chinese dinner he is wooing you with due to impaired vision. The actions of a proud King this is not.

The version in which Prince Charming’s bed splinters into a thousand pieces may seem like a better option but any Prince Charming who can’t invest in decent bed ware, or worse has ruined it through overuse will also not give you your fairy-tale ending.

Currently the best I can hope for is the version where Prince Charming can’t bothered to rescue Sleeping Beauty unless he is pissed and there is nothing else better to do, in these cases it if and when Prince pissed up decides to come staggering in on his white charge he doesn’t so much create an image of two people having sex, but rather two people having a race to achieve orgasm, yet another Disney fairy-tale image they never thought to market, although they did get his image right with the immaculate Toni & Guy hair so at least the backdrop to this tragedy is faring a little better.

The eternal question looks to be something of a false hope that stays burning as you won’t ever be able to answer it, it would seem that life ISN’T like the movies or Disney films, at least not in the conventional sense.

Thumbing through many childhood books later to desperately disprove this notion it seems life can actually be like a fairy-tale if you look deeply enough, sadly in my case the joy of proving this trend wrong is bittersweet as the only author who writes me is Mary Shelley and it looks like I’m cast for life as the one track minded Fuckenstein as my relationship & sex stories are just something that are only fit to be shared on dark Halloween nights to scare young children about the disasters of adulthood.

At least this year I can save money on a Halloween outfit I guess……

HMV…Just delaying the inevitable

For those of you old enough to recall the start of the digital media frenzy around 2004 (from my own perspective) there were several key players on the plot.

Woolworths – The long standing corner shop of the high street, sold everything, but you never went in there for anything specific. Generally one of cheaper retailers with £9.99 prices for new VHS & CD releases. EXAMPLE – Friends VHS Video £9.99 -£11.99

WHSmiths – Another stalwart of the high street, this time being a little more savvy and specialising in books and stationary. Sometimes good deals like 2 for £15 on titles, but discreet prices increases on back titles normally only by a couple of pounds. EXAMPLE – Friends VHS Video £9.99 -£12.99

HMV – A large media chain who dominated the music and video scene with a vast array of back title and large numbers of new releases. You could always be sure of finding what you wanted at HMV, and you were always charge about 20% over the going rate for the privilege. The stores would also play all media on the screens before sealing them and generally refuse refunds with receipts claiming no item ever got damaged like that in store. EXAMPLE – Friends VHS Video (if new usually already watched in store) £16.49

Virgin Megastore (then Zavvi) – A carbon copy of HMV for over pricing and poor refund policies, although a little later on the playing field only popping up in the late 1990’s. EXAMPLE – Friends VHS Video £12.99 -£14.99

Our Price – A friend little local outfit aiming towards the more indie and vinyl scene although succumbing to mainstream pop and being a nice commercial store. Offered very good bargains at smaller outlets, generally selling items at a loss, prompting their joining forces with Virgin for their sins. EXAMPLE – Friends VHS Video £9.99 -£10.99

It was clear how media was going that not all of them were going to survive in this new market, the one constant of economics is that market competition is healthy and keeps retailers on their toes, however many of these morons failed to realise that this rule doesn’t apply when the competition is free. You cannot compete with free, even if the competition is selling items at 50p or £1, its still an open market with them losing money to do so. When your competition is your own customers using technology to give your products away for free then the battle is over. Once out it was impossible to put the genie back in the bottle and generations of children grew up getting music and video for free, it was as simple as bluetoothing a file from one friends phone to another, ask them to spend 2 weeks worth of their pocket money on an album they had never heard and they would tell you where to go.

As the years went on share prices tumbled for all concerned, the demise of many was inevitable however the financial crash of 2007 hastened the end for Woolworths whose shares tumbled over the course of 2 years from 35p a share all the way down to 2p before the administrators were called in closing down this 100 year old high street name who had failed to diversify. It wasn’t all bad news as Woolworths entertain UK arm managed to bring down Virgin Megastore or Zavvi as they were now called whose products were all purchased from Entertainment UK. Poor credit being available to them over the all important Xmas period managed to shut down this overpriced outfit.

Starting in 2009 the next remaining big player to take stock of this calamity was WHSmith who smartly opted to remove back catalogue products from their stores with only a handfull of stores holding new releases of DVDs and CD, instead opting for their online business to take the lead with deliveries available to be collected in store. Most likely the smartest move out of all the big players admitting this was a market whose heyday was long gone.

HMV’s options were quite the opposite, instead of scaling back operations, they expanded buying up many Virgin Stores and re-branding them as HMV stores, to the point where there were 3 stores in city centres with 3 lots of overheads and staffing costs all in competition with each other. Clearly HMV senior management’s opinion of the intelligence of the British public was that even in this day and age of internet bargains they could still rip us off with overpriced goods. Even their website priced goods some 20% over their rivals of play and amazon.

Fast forward 2 years to 2011 and you find HMV share price going the same as Woolworths, clinging on to a double figure balance, sales of Waterstones to raise capital to pay off its debts for seasonal agency staffing, stores closures in areas where (shock horror) 2 or 3 stores in close proximity wasn’t profitable, and yes despite all of this, they continued to fight against the trend. The latest brainwave, selling chocolates and sweets at the tills. I think its safe to say when your grasping at the pennies profit a twix and a can of monster make you need to call it a day. As of posting this HMV stand with a share price of 3.5p. Not even four English pennies and you can get a stake (although god knows why you would want it) in this once dominant high street business. They have diversified into Apple products (another business to be avoided at all costs) and headphones, chocolates and humorous mugs, T Shirts and other shite that is only suitable for office secret santa presents, in short nothing to run a business that would generate the profit that their earlier overpriced Friends videos got them. I personally give them until 15th January 2012 before a massive rebrand or notice of calling in the administrators. Will i shed a tear, maybe as they were a nice trip down memory lane when you wanted to look for old DVDs to watch, however given the immediate availability of digital media through internet shopping I welcome their demise as it has been a long time coming, if for no other reason than karma for ripping off Britain for years, failing to refund me scratched DVDs and generally being a blight on the high street through arrogant marketing thinking they were unbeatable.

Maybe my words are too harsh and maybe I’m completely wrong. Xmas 2012 I may come back and re-read this and see how things have panned out.

“I’m sorry, I can’t do that, I’m not technical you know….”

I’m not sure how the rest of you feel about these types of phrases (this one in particular), perhaps you all see them as perfectly innocuous honest accounts by people that some skills are beyond them and elicit some pity upon them and offer your support. Nothing more, nothing less. I however see a much more sinister world, where if you scratch beneath the surface you see chancers and charlatans using this and other get out of jail free cards to coast through their careers. I see a world with these bastards on cruise control the whole time and with Joe public like you and I taking up the slack for them.

To illustrate two scenarios, there is the person at work who has been asked to map a network drive by their colleague, a task they have never performed before so they utter the immortal get out of jail free card

“I’m sorry, I can’t do that, I’m not technical you know!”

While it’s accurate in some sense of the word, its blurted out with all the gusto of someone being asked to perform sorcery during the dark ages, an act which at that time was punishable by death. People seem to want to make it clear they have no knowledge of technology nor inclination to learn and by uttering this phrase absolve themselves of any responsibility in completing the task, instead cuntybollocks here who once connected a USB device and implemented a drop down box in an Excel spread sheet is hailed as a mystical shaman with powers beyond that of mortal men is expected to perform this task while said person pisses off to the vending machine. Imagine my joy when she walks back with a steaming cup of elephant piss from the fairtrade machine that masquerades itself as coffee.

“is that coffee for me, oh only got one for yourself while you were there, no no don’t worry I’ll just die of thirst here while you fanny about not being technical!”

Believe it or not this is the scenario I’m more sympathetic about, if for no other reason than said person doesn’t know what they are doing and has at least asked for help and it’s a task they are not likely to perform again. Despite all this I’d rather they be upfront and honest and just say “I don’t know how to do that!”

Flip this situation on it’s head to a senior ops manager type role, picture the type a women, cmon we’ve all worked with this women in all her many forms and career moves over the years. With an office the size of a small supermarket and an ego to boost, and usually being a trendsetter for the chronically unfashionable. She’s got just enough peripheral involvement in enough projects to seem extremely busy, but she alsso just distant enough from everything she’s involved in to not really be that culpable when the shit hits the fan or knowledgeable to be worthwhile asking any questions too directly. When said women comes to moving desk or computer she discovers she needs to re-map her outlook personal folders (she’s discovered this herself…another hidden nugget of info displaying she knows more than she’s letting on), the remapping folder task is identical to adding a new outlook personal folder, a task we all do regularly when we have a stupidly small email inbox, however her standard follow up without even catching a breath is.

“I’m sorry, I can’t do that, I’m not technical you know!”

I’m sorry but you might as well have just said,

“I’m sorry I don’t know how to do that, I’m just fucking stupid you know, oh and I don’t bother committing actions I perform on a regular basis to memory either titter titter snigger.”

What’s even worse about this is the stupid accompanying giggle that this form of amnesia come fuckwittedness that she’s been overcome with generates that seems to imply that this is by some means an endearing trait and one we should all be aspiring towards.

For someone so inept at using technology and fooling us all into doing her donkey work while she sups her skinny latte with cinnamon sprinkles I guarantee you that this non-technical this caffeine powered career cow is the equal of Bill Gates when it comes to navigating her way around oulook with enough ease to partake in all the latest office gossip before its ever filtered down to ground level and turns from low-level technophobe into rain-man at the mere sniff of an on-line discount sale on jimmy choos, navigating her way around some of the most complex internet encryption since the WWII enigma code, signing up to a paypal account and setting her delivery address to work before the froth on her skinny latte has dissolved off her upper lip.

In short I get wound up by these people using this line of non-technical because they are actual inept morons, worse still they appear to be in positions of power in the workplace begging the question.

HOW THE FUCK DID YOU EVER GET THERE AND HOW THE HELL TO DO YOU MAINTAIN YOUR TENANCY IN YOUR IVORY TOWER?

Thoughts, insults, opinions, loopholes? I’d welcome anything at this point.

Pedestrians, Poles & Policemen…Peachy or Pica

As the title implies words starting with the letter P have been a heavy influence on the themes running through my day today. I’ll go through them on my scale of peachy to peachy(pica).

Poles as in Polish people.
Anyone who knows me will often know of my dual heritage of both English & Polish families, and while my language skills are limited to a smattering of phrases (mainly insults) and the fact I’ve never actually visited the mother land I find it good to keep in touch with this side of myself as being the proud owner of a race card brings with it many benefits and can open up multiple opportunities & advantages if used correctly.

Those of you who however know me really well also know of my penchant for central Europeans such as Polish or Slovaks. A common misconception amongst us limeys is that Poland and everything in “greater Polandshire” such as Latvia, Lithuania, and Slovakia etc. are Eastern Europe, when in fact they are geographically classed as central Europe. Geography lesson aside, I’ve started chatting a Polish denizen who has the potential to be a future ex and subject of much scorn and ridicule by me in the coming months, either way this internet fraternising with a Pole is an excuse for me to finish learning my Slovak that I started so I can at least make an attempt at offensive comments about people in public to someone who understands and can partake in my cynical spite. Certainly peachy

Police
Not a great point worthy of comment but nothing inherently negative, but then perhaps that sums up the police as a whole. This relates to my meeting a police officer on Bridge Street in the summer and engaging a little friendly banter at which comments about handcuffs and statements were made. Possessing an eidetic memory, an internet connection and a high blood-alcohol level it was relatively simple when I arrived home to trace this officer on Facebook and send the obligatory drunken message and poke, I’ve learned to restrain myself from friend requests now before they even reply.

After a few days of silence I began to lose hope, after a few weeks I lost all interest, after four and a half months I’d lost any recollection of this and had to read my original message to understand who this person was messaging me. It seems all their criticism is well deserved, a police response time of four and a half months to reply to my opening line is a little lacking, but at least they came proving the police don’t ignore their calls, just take a while to answer them, I’ve yet to get a crime number much less a phone number. I figure that if I’m 31 now, then by the time I get a phone number from this boy in blue then I’ll be round about…dead. Still in addition to the European angle it perked my morning up so mustn’t grumble, that’s for the final topic… So this I guess counts as peachy

Pedestrians
Jesus Christ, something needs to be done, whether it’s an act of parliament to legislate these bastards, or an act of god to wipe them out I welcome either at this stage. The reason for this is that we all have to use the same pieces of path to go about our business, if you were in a car you’d be aware of other motorists and take steps to share the road with them, so why then do these rules go out the windows when on foot??

I left the canteen at my place of employment after eating my lunch and decided to walk back to my desk. Now in your mind’s eye visualise the place in which I work, 4 floors highs with a mezzanine level on each floor, with the top floor being the canteen and my desk being on the ground floor level. Today I opted as per usual to use the stairs to walk back down to my desk on the ground floor after lunch, so too did someone else, someone who looks as though they dodge their fair share of salads however in all fairness they didn’t get the lift to go down like others so some points for that.

My rage generally sets in at the failure by said pedestrian to acknowledge their width and that with such width placing yourself dead centre while going down the stairs inhibits my ability to pass you easily, when I however attempt to pass you on your left, you have this ability that without ever turning your head you appear to sense my need and immediately bank left blocking my path, when I repeat this pattern on the right your response time is almost instantaneous and you again set about moving right and blocking my path. We repeat this performance many times with me seeming to randomise my movements, even dashing left to right then back left again to fool you, but oh no, for over two and half flight of stairs you manage to block my path with the regularity and precision of an atomic clock! It’s almost as though all the vast fat cells in your well-padded rump act as some sort of advanced sonar come radar detecting fluctuations in the air and subsequently my movements and steer you accordingly.

If that alone were all that happened I could probably keep my stress levels from rising, but when you move at a speed so slow I could build my own staircase and traverse it, well it…frustrates me to put it mildly! Now that alone is bad enough but to add insult to injury not content with causing a tailback from the canteen and causing me to age so much my clothes look out of fashion you then bump into one of your coffin dodger friends on the way up the stairs and come to a complete stop and begin to begin to idly gossip about and exchange details of the minutia of your day.

Totally oblivious to the angry mob that is forming behind you all the while both of you causing a blockade on the staircase. God forbid you should use the 30sq feet of empty landing space on any of the three floors nearby or even perhaps the instant messaging tools of Microsoft Outlook no your conversation about the coffee machine running out of brown cups is best suited to in person on a staircase side by side during a busy lunch hour.

Not only am I being trapped by the ever expanding queue behind me but also being forced to listen to the kind of drivel which Outlook was invented for, for me at this stage it’s like a neutron bomb going off in my stomach, all of you reading this must have gotten in a rage like this before? I find I just want to rip out all these pair of bastard’s pubic hairs, knit a scarf and strangle them both to death with it if only to get past them! Only when i finally say excuse me in a rushed and angry tone does it occur to cunty and cunty on the stairs they might actually be in the way and the shock at where all the people around them appeared from…..For the love of god…save me!!!!

This final part of the day most certainly counts as Pica (pronounced peachy)

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