Monday, 26 January 2009

Ramblings of an Ageing Man-child

OK, so no developments on my bus adventures, but rest assured - I'll continue to sit in that middle seat and will post as soon as The Weirdo reappears with ensuing fracas.

Anyway, slowly but surely in recent months, I've come to accept the inevitable... In behaviour now as well as age, I am more man than boy.

Since turning 20 back in 2006 I've put up a hard fight against all the signs of aging, but I'm now resigned to my fate. I'm a man, just like my dad before me: the man who has a table of coastal tides for reference purposes, nose hair clippers, a very wide variety of ordinance survey maps and several purple jumpers. I'm half-way there.

I accepted this over the weekend, as Jennifer and I parked up at our new flat (with all magnolia decor) and transferred "documents" and misc. crap from one car to the other - a Peugot 406 to our brand new Vauxhall Vectra. The only way I could possibly be thinking more about what an old fart I'd grown into was if the precocious little kids-acting-as-men from the Zafira adverts had shown up:

Actually, it wasn't so much the fancy Vectra - with it's built-in screens, 4-CD changer and Bluetooth capabilities - that made me contemplate my predicament as it was a mysterious box inside.

"What is this?" I ask, carrying it carefully from one car's boot to the other.

"A dinner service."

It was fully 10 minutes before I even thought to question what particular dinner service it was, where it had come from and who had given it to us. I'm now so mature that I don't question my possession of a spare dinner service. Very worrying.

That, however, has got me thinking on how I can retain my youthfulness - what I like to think of as my "boyish charm" and what Jennifer would no doubt call my "unbelievable immaturity." And it occurred to me that, day to day, I'm already doing whatever possible to stave off the final steps of becoming a Fully-Fledged Man. Unconsciously, I'm doing everything in my power to remain a man-child.

On Thursday, two of our best pals became parents for the first time. We took them all manner of fancy baby presents and along with it, gave them a card that I picked out. The message on the front read:

"Congratulations! You've given birth to a baby boy, which is amazing and creative! The only amazing and creative thing I ever did was make a fruit salad at school."

Promptly displayed on the windowsill along with all the mature, pale blue cards they'd received, I felt strangely proud of my stupid card.

In fact, I've just now become aware of another childish thing I'm doing without thinking - as I type, I'm watching CBBC's "Dick and Dom's Diaries." This isn't research for my blog, oh no. This is just what I consider a morning's entertainment.

Perhaps the greatest example I can give you of this subconscious fight between childhood and manhood involves my trip to Amsterdam, of all places. Me and my best mate - the one with whom I once nearly got thrown out of a family restaurant because we could not stop laughing at a man with a monobrow - are all booked up to visit the capital of the Netherlands for a football trip in March.

We really should not be trusted to do this together.

All credit to her, my missus has not once questioned what I'll be up to on the trip. No interrogations about coffee shops or red lights, it's all taken on trust that I'll be on my best behaviour... The way it should obviously be between two mature adults in a serious relationship.

She did however frown with great concern when I told her that we might visit a fetish night club "for a laugh."

"Apparently men lead each other about on dog chains and folk run amok in gimp masks. It sounds brilliant! Me and Thomas just want to go in, order a pint at the bar and down them with the straightest faces possible, like it's A. N. Other bar. It'll be hilarious!"

In no way can she see what's funny about my and my straight mate visiting a kinky Dutch gay bar. And that, I'm pleased to report, probably means I'm not yet mature.

Fart bogies bum boobs fanny.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009


Hi readers. I come bearing bad news. Unfortunately, Graeme was tragically beaten to death with a bus timetable tonight.

Just kidding. Middle seat rapey weirdo didn't get on my bus today, but I strangely enjoyed sitting in his seat and anticipating him getting on all the same. Same again tomorrow!

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Wish me luck, readers

The very thought of the mission I'm about to undertake sends pangs of excitement and shudders of nervousness through me. I'm like James bloody Bond.

Tomorrow, I've decided, I'm going to get on the bus, go to the back row, and sit on the middle seat.

Yeah... The middle seat!

Actually, on reflection, I've realised that you may not understand the enormity of what I'm going to do. Having never been on the bus I get home from work, I can in fact see how this looks to you: that I'm simply getting on a bus and sitting on the middle seat of the back row.

Jesus, if only it was that simple!

Let me explain. Night after night I board the 11, flash my Megarider (that's a seven day ticket by the way, not a name for my cock), head for the back and sit wherever's free. The iPod goes on, I pull out whatever book I'm in the middle of, and kick back for the 40 minute ride home.

I generally try to ignore the other punters - mostly old women, working class folk and junkies - and keep myself to myself. Then one day my eyes were drawn to someone... Someone who had broken the rule of the bus.

He'd sat on the seat next to a stranger whilst neighbourless seats were still available!

I could scarcely believe it the first time, but every night the last week he's done this - boarding at the same stop, same time, then proceeding to sit in the middle seat of the back row - regardless of whether he has people to his left and right, as though it was Buckingham Palace and this was his throne!

No-one with whom he lumbers his company can quite believe it, looking at him with a mixture of surprise and disgust.

Matters aren't helped by the fact that, frankly, he looks like a bit of a rapist.

So tomorrow night, for no reason other than curiosity as to what the hell he's going to do about it, I'm going to get on before him and sit on his seat.

Updates tomorrow night.

PS - If tomorrow night's blog isn't forthcoming then I've probably been raped and don't feel like talking about it.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

The greatest TV show of all time

Debate rages on as to the single best series ever to air on the box in the corner, and with this blog I intend to set the record straight.

The coveted title goes to an American drama of timeless genius. Not The Sopranos. Nope, not The Wire either. In fact, the greatest TV show of all time is Murder, She Wrote.

Brilliantly scripted, a masterclass in acting, air-tight plots that twist and weave with enviable grace... None of this describes Murder, She Wrote.

Angela Lansbury's Jessica Fletcher is without doubt the best character of all time and the plot itself is incredible - a fictional crime writer who in her spare time jets all around America and the world, always arriving the day before the murder of a friend or their associate and solving the case before her return journey.

It's a miracle she has friends left to visit and even more baffling that they accept her into their homes knowing the inevitable fate - I'd be inconveniently busy should she ever phone to arrange a holiday.

Quite how she's above suspicion from the law as she makes her way from crime scene to crime scene is anyone's guess. Her presence is the common denominator in deaths across all the states of America.

Some of my favourite things about M,SW:

-Jessica interrupting two characters amid suspicious conversation, revealing that she was outside the room the whole time. Equally, a conversation finishing and the camera panning to reveal her little shocked face pinned to the door frame.

-How police forces always give a woman with no law credentials absolute carte blanche in their crime scenes, often unsupervised and leading to key evidence disappearing into her pocket.

-Background extras in police stations, newspaper offices or pretty much any scene who are so determined not to break the "fourth wall" that they'll do anything to avoid looking at Jessica or the camera - usually by staring intently at bits of paper, examining bundles of paper, showing each other bits of paper and taking paper from one desk to an other.

-Finding modern day great actors as fresh-faced rising stars in old episodes, always playing their part with a look of slight embarassment.

-Jessica's icy and socially uncool "I don't believe you" face.

-The murderer's inevitable admission in great detail of how and why they did what they did, presumably saving a whole bunch of time in lengthy court proceedings.

-The ending. Wee bit of jovial chat, the sort of punchline that a Christmas cracker company would reject outright, Jessica's daft face - freeze. Credits.

One of my favourite things in the world is to be sat on a Sunday afternoon with my mum, a glass of Irn Bru and a double-header of Murder, She Wrote.

If you can watch it without outbursts of hilarity and the strange mixture of giddiness and rage, shouting angrily at Jessica and her meddlesome ways, then you do not deserve a telly box.

The brilliance of Murder, She Wrote is best seen in its finest episode, 1987's "It Runs In The Family". Set in Britain, its main character is one Emma McGill... Jessica Fletcher's identical cousin, played by Angela Lansbury.

Yes, identical cousin.

Monday, 12 January 2009

The Subway Incident

Let me start off by admitting that our motley Scots crew have had so many drunken nights in so many English cities that I can't actually remember where this particular story is set - but like all tales of legend, the setting isn't as important as the cast of characters and the events that took place that night.

Our story begins in a Subway restaurant, as our jolly band of rogues procure some pre-booze subs to line their stomachs for the inevitable rough ride. Visions of our disreputable Glasgwegian friend Barbour crying his "Eating's cheating!" motto in outrage spring to mind but his advice is always best followed in the opposite direction.

Myself, Gav, Kel and Jen have all chosen, a tantalising mix of Meatball Marinaras, BMTs and Spicy Italians being cooked to order.

Yvonne, after some deliberation, steps up and produces a conversation so bafflingly stupid that it serves to test both the Subway employee's patience and the nerve of her friends, who begin to flash red in embarassment and shuffle awkwardly from one foot to the other, at one point wondering if it's too late to pretend she's a stranger who followed us in.

She makes choosing between 6" bread and 12" bread look like deciding on a child's name, while toasted or not-toasted seems an alien concept and the list of salad options could just as well be an astrophysics lecture in Arabic. As the guy asks her if she'd like some sauce you'd be forgiven for thinking he was Chris Tarrant and that her only remaining option was to phone a fucking friend.

Just as we're ready to make our apologies to the understandably annoyed guy, Yvonne utters a line that no-one who witnessed it will ever forget: "You'll have to excuse me, I don't usually come to Subway. I have someone who does this for me..."

I've decided that the best thing about the whole amazing farce was the face of the boy serving us. It was a thing of beauty, the way gleeful hope that he was serving a celebrity gave way to the dawning realisation that the woman in front of him was in fact an idiot.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Careful now

I found a new hobby today. Walking home from work a couple of joggers raced by me and as I saw more approaching, I realised there was obviously a group. In passing I quickly asked one: "What run are you doing?"

As the woman continued running and turned over her shoulder to hurriedly explain that it was just a running club out on their training route, she very nearly ran face-first into a lamppost. She literally turned, faced it and reacted with some sort of super-cat reflexes to narrowly dance round it.

Before the week is out, I will make one of them hit that lamppost.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Confessions of a Cross-Dresser

As I'm sat here reflecting on my current predicament, which I can do little but, I've come to the conclusion that it's best out in the open.

See, I love nothing more of an evening than getting in to an old pair of Reebok joggy bottoms. As I relax after a hard day's work, a gruelling football match or while battling a cold or sickness bug, the comfort they provide is perfect for lounging in front of the TV and sinking a beer or two.

Tonight, however, I was faced with a strange dilemma - earlier I'd put my ever-present joggies in for a rare wash, their first in years, and so they were still wet. Coming in from minus 6 degree temperatures, all I wanted was to get the joggies on, into bed, stick a Family Guy on and munch some grub. Instead, I was faced with the horrible prospect of climbing into the freezing cold sheets with nothing but my boxers.

So to cut to the chase: I am currently wearing women's clothes.

Jen offered me a pair of her pyjama bottoms and as the goosebumps ran up my leg, I begrudgingly decided it was for the best. You might ask why any man would confess to wearing a 5ft3 woman's Winnie The Pooh trousers which don't even reach the top of their sports socks, but there's sound logic behind this.

Surely it's better to wear women's clothes and confess as much than to wear women's clothes in secret.

With that conclusion in mind, I should also tell you that I once wore tights. As a kid, my mum refused point blank one match day to take me on the journey up north with them for Aberdeen v Killie in freezing conditions unless I had a ridiculous amount of layers on.

She was weirdly insistent that this included wearing a pair of her tights under my trousers, an idea I refused so thoroughly as to end up in tears, before relenting upon the realisation that it was the only way I was getting to my game of football.

As I type this, I've just realised why I hate the winter so much. I'm forced to fucking cross-dress.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

I spy with my little eye, something beginning with N...

Neighbours. Sorry to go all James Stewart on you, but spying on your neighbours CAN be fun and not at all pervy.

We, for instance, live across from the Star Wars Kid.

Obviously as someone who has access to the internet you know who the Star Wars Kid is but just in case you've been living under a rock, take a look.

It's 2am and we've just entertained 14 family and friends for New Year's Day dinner, the first proper shindig we've thrown in our new flat. Absolutely cream crackered, I'm ready for my pit and some Z's. Just as I climb into bed, however, I hear Jen letting out a squeal from the next room - "Come see this, you have to come see this!" she howls.

Knowing that our PC wasn't pointed at my blog or indeed on, I wondered what could be so hilarious - only to be greeted, as we huddled together in the dark and she pointed at a flat opposite, with a sight that I will take to my grave.

Not the slightest of men, our neighbour clumsily flashed around his front room in a fury, frantically fighting off what for all we know could be invisible zombies. Then it dawns - he's playing a Nintendo Wii.

In the wee hours of the morning and oblivious to watching eyes, alone with the lights off, jiggled our neighbour and his man breasts throwing an enthusiastic gamer's fit.

Wearing nothing but his massive underwear.

I love watching my neighbours.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Claire Smiles

I've had a response from my good mates at ASDA and all I can say is that I hope Claire Smiles did smile when she read my email.

Good Morning,

Thanks for telling us about the bananabix you recently bought at your local store.

It's always a pleasure to hear one of our products has hit the spot. We want you to enjoy everything you buy from us, so thank you for taking the time to tell us what you thought. We like to know we're getting things right.

I hope you'll continue to enjoy the things you buy from us in the future.

Kind Regards
Claire Smiles

Friday, 2 January 2009

My beloved has returned to me...

OK, I'm not going to lie to you. November wasn't great on the old blogs front. December had some incoherent ramblings on the Queen being struck with diarrhea, which I've seen fit to delete, and nothing else. Admittedly, I've let you all down and yes, we're probably never going to enjoy heady days like October with her 14 blogs once more.

But with my festival done and dusted, Christmas out the way and my internet connection back, I promise I'll try to bring the funny more often.

So to business and if I may, I'll start 2009 on a serious note. I've sent my love to the customer services team at the mighty bastion of retail that is ASDA, and have pasted the email below. I'm still awaiting a reply to this one...

To whom it may concern,

I feel moved to contact you with my eternal gratitude. You've brought joy back into my life.

Let me explain. This has been a dark period for me, almost unbearable. I've hardly slept these last few years, not eaten right, not been acting myself. Sometimes I prowl the streets at night, eating out of bins and chasing stray cats.

Everyone around me has been so concerned by my behaviour, but I just snap back at them and cry, full of rage. They don't understand. They don't know what it is to lose a loved one.

But then one day, there they were... Could it be? I reached out a hand, almost expecting my sight to blur and the visions to clear - but no, it really was. I held it in my hands, confused. Yes, it was! Mini Banana Wheat Bisks, the reincarnation of my dearly beloved and long-gone Bananabix. I'd mourned so long, so painfully, but now we were together as one.

Sure, it wasn't the Weetabix brand and yes, the name could do with a little sharpening up, but it was real - I clutched the packet to my chest, letting out a little tear of joy.

I felt like her off of Dallas when Bobby stuck his head out the shower - like the crew of Star Trek when Spock's spirit lived on in III - or like the cast of Jurassic Park: The Lost World when they discovered there was actually a whole other island full of dinosaurs unimaginatively called Site B. How could it be that my loved one had returned to me?

Then I saw the name it bore - ASDA. At that I felt a deep pang of gratitude. My dear friends at ASDA had worked painstakingly, often into the night I imagined, to recreate and resurrect this forgotten cereal, the very pinnacle of British cuisine. Here it was once again, standing proud on the shelf with lesser cereals like Sugar Puffs and Coco Pops, its little yellow box all aglow.

Thank you, ASDA. Thank you for reminding me how to smile.

Yours always,

This wonderful lady appeared after I'd filled in their email form, thanking me for contacting ASDA. Was it this blonde gem who brought my Banana Bisks back to me? Time will tell!