Friday, June 29, 2007

Things Abandoned on the Pavement Within 100 Yards of My Home That I Have Taken a Photograph of #4

What is it about this particular road? It must be the Spaghetti Junction of ley-lines, as just a few paces from where the bath mat spent its final weeks on earth, then was reincarnated as a snowman, this blue door has appeared. If this isn’t a portal into another dimension then I don’t know what is.

Has it fallen off a passing Tardis?

Is it an elaborate set-up for a “knock knock” joke?

Is it a trap door into a cave?

What is the meaning of the six, not-quite-evenly-spaced holes?

Dare I open The Door That Could Lead to Adventure?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Send in the Clowns

Clowns in Race Terror AttackThis is probably the best headline in the world ever. I have no idea whether the clowns were doing the attacking or were the victims. I didn't want to look at the newspaper because whatever had actually happened wouldn't be half as funny as the image in my head.

Though I suppose things might have got nasty if someone went for the juggler.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Older and Wiser?

Today is my birthday, the day that I stretch the definition of "mid-30s" ever closer to breaking point. I have been wished a happy birthday by my girlfriend and received cards and presents from her, from family and friends. My parents and niece rang me this morning to wish me a happy birthday. People I have never even met in real life have given me virtual presents on Facebook.

So why is it that when I needed to write the date on something I paused, thought about it, then looked at my watch to see what day it was? Whatever this is a sign of, it cannot be good.

(At least my watch is one of those that does actually tell me the date - it is not as though someone asked me the way to the station and I looked at my watch. I will save that particular insanity for my "late-mid-30s".)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I Am the Champion

On Sunday I went to the park with my girlfriend and her parents and we played with a Frisbee. I thought it might have been a bit boring, or even embarrassing, but this was actually the most fun I have ever had with my clothes on (that involved my girlfriend's parents). Not that I have ever attempted to have any fun with my clothes off that involved my girlfriend's parents. Though her Mum has shown interest.

I am pleased to report that Frisbee technology has improved since I was a kid, and this one had a special rubber edge which meant that it didn't hurt your hand when you tried to catch it. I never liked that and generally went indoors and played with my ZX Spectrum at that point, pretending not to be crying.

But not only did I not want to go indoors this time, I was easily the best at it, which has never happened before in any group of people with whom I have been doing any kind of sporting activity. The fact that I was playing against two pensioners (one of whom is recovering from an operation) and a pregnant woman had no bearing on my victory and will be expunged from the record books.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Property Ladder

I needed a ladder to fix a burglar alarm to the outside of the flat. But I do not own a ladder, so the burglar alarm just sat uninstalled on the table for several weeks. I was worried about this. Someone could break in and steal all our expensive electronic items – like the new burglar alarm for a start. But it would be a waste to buy a ladder to just use once, particularly as I have nowhere to store it.

I decided that I would ask to borrow my Dad’s ladder next time I go to see him, then try to find somewhere to keep it in the flat until I could take it back. Hardly ideal, but I emailed him to ask.

I then went to take the rubbish out and what did I find next to the bins but an old, paint-covered ladder. What are the chances? Imagine if I had asked to borrow a million pounds from my Dad. Or a naked Jenna Fischer. What would I have found by the bins then? Perhaps this could be the plot to a magical realism film like Being John Malkovich. A moderately successful children’s TV writer finds that when he emails his Dad asking to borrow something, the very thing that he asked to borrow appears next to his flat’s rubbish bins (albeit a bit covered in paint).

Even more serendipitous, the ladder was exactly tall enough for me to stand on the top step and reach up and drill the holes. And even more serendipitous still I didn't fall off the ladder and drill a hole through my skull as I hit the ground as I feared that I might.

I put the magic ladder back by the bins, ready for another adventure. (I know that leaving ladders out is a silly idea as they can be used by burglars, but obviously I have that covered now.)

I emailed my Dad again and said it’s OK – I’ve found a ladder. But if he’s finished with Ms Fischer...

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

We Are Not Afraid (Well, Maybe Just a Little Bit)

Here in London we are constantly being told to be alert. Apparently our country has a shortage of lerts. Haha. No, obviously it is the threat of bad people and their nasty bombs.

So when I spotted an abandoned rucksack on a bench at my local tube station I knew that despite once again being in a dilemma of not wanting to die horribly, but also not really wanting to make a fuss, I should really tell somebody about it.

I suppose that I was expecting armed police, bomb disposal experts, a sniffer dog at the very least. What actually happened was that a female member of London Underground staff prodded the bag a bit, opened it, and said, “Yeah, it’s just got some clothes in it”.

I suppose that this must be a common occurrence for them, and that they have to judge each case on its merits before calling out the emergency services. I can see that 99 times out of 100 simply prodding and opening the bag would produce a quick, simple answer to the question of what was in the bag, but I couldn’t help thinking that on that hundredth occasion... No, actually it would always produce a quick, simple answer as to what was in the bag.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Car Trouble

It has been a long search for the perfect car. I have been reading surveys, browsing magazines and scouring price guides. I have registered with websites, and automated emails have filled my inbox with likely candidates. I have spent days going to look at these, only to find each one fall at hurdles such as not having been serviced at the correct intervals, having a rather worrying sticker on the dashboard warning me that the mileage might not be accurate, or having more scratches than a flea-ridden dog.

Finally, we have found The One. It is the right make, model, age, condition and price. It has the correct stamps in the service history, and my detailed multi-part mechanical inspection has confirmed that it does indeed have four wheels.

My girlfriend goes to find a salesman just as I decide to perform one last check.

She returns, the salesman taking one look at me and instantly upgrading his monthly bonus expectation.

“Actually, I’ve changed my mind”, I say, as I sprawl casually against the side of the car.

“What?” asks my girlfriend.

“Yes. There’s a problem with the...” Damn, the car is perfect. “The colour.”

“But you’re the one who wanted silver.”

“It looks different in this light.”

The salesman looks around, confused, as there has not been an unexpected eclipse in the last two minutes. I lean further back, desperately trying to mime something to my girlfriend.

“We’ll keep looking”, I say, sending the salesman back to mentally cancel his foreign holiday.

“What was wrong this time?” my girlfriend asks with a sigh. It is true that I have been dragging her around lots of garages when, to be honest, we could have already been driving around in something perfectly suitable for the past month.

“I wanted to see if it had a lock on the petrol cap, and this came off in my hand”, I say, showing her part of the fuel filler flap that I had only managed to hold in place by nonchalently leaning against it.

I sort of wedge it back on, and we continue the search.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Education, Education... What Was the Other Thing?

I have spent the last few weeks having great fun working on a children's quiz show. I was just going through some of the footage yesterday when I came across this damning indictment of Labour's record on education:

QUIZMASTER: I'm going to ask you some general knowledge questions...

11-YEAR-OLD BOY: What's general knowledge?

What makes it worse is that he was the eventual winner.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Flaking It

Mocking advertisements and pointing out the inane lies behind them is like shooting fish in a barrel. And not lots of little fish that are swimming around quickly, making them a bit difficult to aim at, what with water refracting light and giving a false perception of depth, but one fat fish that is so big it’s pretty much wedged into the barrel. A fish that has also been genetically modified to grow a series of concentric circles on its back like an archery target with a big flashing neon arrow saying “AIM HERE ->”.

It’s unsatisfyingly easy, but I was intrigued by the latest advert from Head and Shoulders that promised to leave me “up to 100% flake-free”. That “up to” is worryingly non-specific, isn’t it? By its very definition, percent goes from 0 “up to” 100, so what they’re really saying is “anything could happen”.

On that basis anyone could claim anything:

“Werthers Originals – make you up to 100% immortal.”

(I don’t have dandruff by the way – just healthy-looking hair.)

Friday, June 01, 2007

After the Flood, the Rainbow

The flat is almost back to normal. Worse things happen, I think to myself as I relax on the sofa for the first time in weeks as it is no longer covered in books. And if our upstairs neighbours had never flooded us (twice) then I’d never have met the man who came to clean the carpets, and he’d never have been able to go home and tell his two autistic sons about how he met one of the people who wrote their very favourite CBeebies show. Perhaps someone has been moving in mysterious ways.

I give a contemplative glance heavenwards. Where I am reminded that I still need to get all the bloody ceilings repainted. Truly there is no God, I rage, as I storm off to chase up painters and decorators.

Except... That brown water stain above the bookcase – it looks a bit like... It can’t be. The Virgin Mary? This is fantastic – not only do I not need to paint over it, I can charge admission.