Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Going Down to Liverpool

We arrived at the Speke Marriot Hotel in Liverpool on Friday night to be met by a dazzling display of slightly over the top Art Deco. Blues clashed with golds swirling up spiral staircases to meet dazzling light fittings illuminating the whole sorry affair. I would advise you not to visit after taking any hallucinogenic drugs.

The hotel used to be an airport before it became John Lennon Airport and got a fancy new building. In the bedrooms we are treated to Aromatherapy everything including an Aromatherapy shower cap and sewing kit. I’m still trying to work out how a shower cap and sewing kit can be infused with aromatherapy oils. On going down for dinner I was asked by the manager if we were with the Saga Party. I feigned a little more disgust than I actually felt (finding it humorous in the extreme) and said how shocked I was that he had assumed me to be Saga age. It turned out that there was a large saga party in that weekend and the Manager was on automatic pilot assuming everyone to be with Saga. My dad at age 60 something has a very healthy fear of anything Saga so he was not best impressed. However the irony of this for me was that at the end of our meal we met up with some 80 – 90 year old family members and I couldn’t take the pace and had to go to bed several hours before they did. Maybe I would have been better off on the Saga Tour.

The morning of the wedding dawned and I was helping my grannie get ready.

“You know, I’m not sure I really like this outfit now” she said.

I advised her not to say anything to my mum who had spent a long and fretful day with her finding something which she appeared to be happy with at the time.

Then grannie happens to glance at the mirror.

“Why do I see such an old person’s face?” she sighs.

At the age of 93 I wonder just who she does expect to see.

Eventually we managed to make it to the church to wait with the groom and the rest of the family for the appearance of the bride.

Before entering the church, however, we were greeted by a group of lads singing Beatles songs in the graveyard of the church. Further investigation revealed that we were in the midst of a Beatles Convention and the lads were paying homage at the grave of Eleanor Rigby. I assume that it was that very song they were singing but one can never be too sure.

After this strange diversion we eventually made it into the church. The bride was in fact early and the mood of anticipation and suspense for the groom was ruined by the minister coming up the aisle and cheerily stating “She’s here”. That’s not how it is supposed to work is it?

I had bought a fascinator to wear, mainly because it’s not such a big commitment as buying a hat. However every time I bent down to speak to a small child or bent back to take a drink the blessed thing would fall off and I would spend the next five minutes scrambling about for it. If, like me, you have a small head, think twice before buying one.

The reception was lovely and gave me a chance to meet up with all my relations whom I rarely see nowadays. Sadly, however, the prize for the longest travelled didn’t belong to me, but to two couples coming from America and Canada respectively.

Young G aged almost 5 had a great time at the reception, spending most of it chasing older boys all over the room. His brother M. aged almost 2 took in most of the evening with an air of utter bafflement, only broken by the couple of occasions when G. returned to the bosom of his family to lovingly beat up his younger brother.

His favourite bit of the evening was “throwing the paper” (confetti). G. had in fact been given the highly important task of passing around the confetti from a wooden basket which he discovered was much more fun when balanced on his head.

Young G. eventually fell asleep around 11.30 followed soon after by his dad (an alcoholic beverage or three may have been involved). M. fought the onset of sleep all the way but eventually all the boys were in bed out for the count.

Did I manage to keep up with the drinking? Actually I think I may have done. I always had a glass in front of me anyway and can’t actually remember how much I had so I must have been doing well.

The scariest story of the weekend was finding out that a girl who only a few short years ago was a bridesmaid at another cousin’s wedding is now a mum at 18. That makes her father a grandfather at 40. Distinctly frightening as I’m sure that you will agree.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

How Clean is Your Liverpuddle?

Hi all

I will be away until the beginning of next week as I am off to a wedding in Liverpool at the weekend.

I am hoping to bring you back lots of stories about the wedding. At the advice of several friends I have been practising my alcohol drinking skills so that I will hopefully be able to consume more alcohol than I did at the last wedding I attended without feeling ill. I have certainly been trying and really pushed the boat out last night at a work do in Wakefield by having two glasses of wine and drinking the last one in 10 minutes flat as we had a train to catch. Ooh I’m such a wild one am I not!??!

Anyway we will wait until the weekend to see if my training has paid off.

Before I go I’d like to go back to the subject of dreams. I had a really funny one about Kim and Aggie (of “How much can we Criticise the Cleanliness of your House?” fame) last night. It was incredibly funny and I woke up in hysterics. The only problem is that now I can’t remember the full details. I think it had something to do with finding out that the one with the blond beehive (Aggie I think) was actually only in her twenties but that years of obsessive cleaning had led her features to deteriorate so much that she looked like she was in her 60s.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, my subconscious has a bit of a problem with reality sometimes, but it’s a wonderful feeling when you wake up laughing.

Well I must go because my trusty green packing case is calling and it’s not sounding very happy.

Have a lovely weekend whatever you do.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Exam Stress

I was out last night with friends of mine who have teenage kids. Talk turned to the exam results and one story really made me laugh.

A. is a very clever girl, expected to get 1s or at the very least 2s in her standard grades. She was away on holiday with her parents on the day the results came out and didn’t trust going onto the internet to find out how she had got on. Subsqeuently her gran had been despatched to her house and instructed to call her and tell her how she had done.

The fateful day arrived and A. was on tenterhooks. She had studied hard and just knew that all her friends would have done really well and she just couldn’t be seen to have done badly. Not only that but she was on holiday with two of her friends who had already found out that they had done well by accessing the internet on the previous day. As an aside I thought that everyone under the age of 25 was fully comfortable with the internet these days but it just goes to show.

The phone rang and A. dived for it, breathless and barely able to contain herself.

“So gran, how did I do?"

“You did really well dear you got, now let me see, I’ll just adjust my specs and, oh here we are, yes.”

“Come on gran, what did I get?”

“You did really well dear, like I said you got a 5 for everything.”

“WHAT!!!! A five! That’s a fail. How? That’s not possible, it can’t be."

By this time young A. was in hysterics.

“This can’t be happening. What will all my friends think? My life is over? All fives, and I studied so hard.”

“Well dear” continued her gran “That’s what it says here. I thought that a 6 must be the highest mark and so I thought that you had done really well."

“What, so as well as telling me how badly I have done you also think that I wouldn’t have got the highest mark. Just what are you trying to say here? Do you have any idea that my life is now officially over. I’ll have to leave school. I’ll be destitute. What am I going to do?"

By this point A. had got so hysterical that her mum intervened and a voice of a little more reason spoke to gran.

“So mum, not good news then? Can you read me out what it says exactly.”

“Gran starts to read from the sheet - French Standard 5, History Standard 5 etc etc.”

As she does so a little lightbulb had come on in A’s mums head.

“Are there any other numbers after the 5’s on the list?” she asked.

“Now you come to mention it, yes there are. Now let’s have a look, French Standard 5 and then there’s a little 1, History Standard 5 then a 2. Does that mean anything?”

“Well yes, it means the difference between my daughter consigning herself to the scrapheap or not. Those are her actual grades Mum. 5 refers to the Standard Grade Level she sat not the grade she got in the exam.”

“Oh dear” said Gran “I hope I haven’t upset her too much then.”

“No, nothing that the right information and some chocolate won’t cure. Thanks Mum. You’ve given me a good laugh today if nothing else. I’d better go and let A. know.

I believe that Gran’s now back in the good books, but come A’s highers she may not be asked to repeat the same “favour”.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

When Planning World Domination, Get Your Facts Straight First

In a series of very occasional pieces entitled Strange Dreams I Have Had (this only being the second in the series) I will relate an odd dream that I had last night.

There I was innocently checking my e-mails when a spam e-mail popped up and caught my attention.

The message was simple, direct, and to the point (and strangely had nothing to do with pulchritudinous ladies) “Phone this number now” it stated.

Perhaps in a rather ill-advised move (but it was a dream remember) I called the number and all at once, I found myself magically transported to a small untidy office wherein sat a man of indeterminate age (but probably about 60) and his lady wife. The lady wife had a non-speaking part and just sat behind her husband smiling benignly during the course of the scene.

“I’m glad you came” the man started. “We want you to join us and help us to take over the world”.

“I’d really like to help you, but not today thank you” I told the evil genius (as I now supposed that he must be) “I’ve got a perfectly good job to go back to and lots to do there so I really don’t have much time for taking over the world. It’s nice to be asked though, but I had really better get going now, if, you know, there’s nothing else”.

“Well, that’s where you’re wrong” cackled the evil genius (well he is, isn’t he?). “I’ve contacted Mrs X in the Building Control Department of Inverclyde Council and handed in your resignation so you can’t ever go back. You’re stuck here with me! Ha Ha". (Imagine here an evil genius-like laugh if you will).

“Your plan is therefore thwarted” I countered “I haven’t worked in Inverclyde Council since 1999 and it wasn’t in the Building Control Department either. You may be an evil genius but you will have to work on your research gathering skills”.

At this the evil genius looked genuinely rather crestfallen and gave his wife a rather stern look. However, if you remember she didn’t have a speaking part so she could only give the evil genius a look that said “Whoops, sorry dear, I’ll be more careful next time”.

I did at that moment feel a little sorry for the evil genius. He looked genuinely distraught at the thought of this knockback to his career in world domination.

“So erm does that mean I’m free to go?” I asked.

“Well yes I suppose it does” he said looking a little confused. “I mean are you really sure that you don’t want to help me in my quest for world domination anyway”?

“No, not really I said. “The more I think about it the more I just don’t see the point, but, you know, best of luck and everything”.

And at that, as if by magic, I was transported back to my own bed where I had another strange dream about a cross dressing groom on his wedding day, his wife-to-be very put out that someone had turned up with the same outfit on, and then I woke up.

Feel free to analyse this rather strange concoction or, maybe just advise me not to drink so much before I go to bed of an evening.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Fawlty Towers

And you thought that the saga of the wedding was over, well here’s a strange little postscript.

About a year ago, when my friend the bride-to-be first announced her impending nuptials I decided to look into booking myself into a guest house for the night of the wedding as the journey back home takes a good 1 ½ - 2 hours. I called round a number of B&Bs and eventually settled on one which sounded nice and reasonably priced. I asked if they had any beds free for that night, they said that they had and sent me a brochure on the establishment. I left the situation to marinade but it would appear that it became a festering sore. Because I had been made redundant and had got the offer of a lift there and back I decided not to go ahead and book a room. I thought nothing more of the matter. Nothing more of the matter, that is, until I received a tersely worded letter from that establishment in tones of high moral umbridge.

It appears that they had assumed that I had booked a room, had waited up for me until 11.00pm (oh the horror!) and were now demanding that I pay for the room which I had booked but not had the decency to spend the night in.

I called the lady in question to see if I could explain my side of the story (ie I had no idea that I had booked a room) and see if I could dissipate her umbridge. It appears that umbridge dissipation is not my forte and she was as immovable as ever.

I then did something which proves that I am advancing in years. I wrote a strongly worded letter.

Having first checked the literature which she had sent on her B&B I stated that it clearly says that a deposit is required when booking and that the room will be held for 5 days to allow said deposit to reach their fine establishment.

As they had not heard from me in almost a year and no deposit had been received from me I felt that it was a reasonable assumption to make on their part that I had not in effect booked a room and was no longer interested in doing so.

Furthermore in our telephone call she stated that she only had a postal address for me and appeared quite put out that I had not provided her with a telephone number and an e mail address. I would imagine that the mere fact that I had not provided her with this information would again tend to indicate that I was not interested in booking a room. In the light of her attitude I am very glad that I did not give her any more contact details than were absolutely necessary. To be honest I am now regretting ever giving her my home address.

In an attempt to sweeten the bitter pill I was delivering I did state how much I regretted our “misunderstanding” but felt that in the circumstances it would be entirely inappropriate of me to send her a cheque. This especially in the light of her own literature which would tend to make real the assumption that I had in fact not booked anything.

And that is what I did with my umbridge. The letter is now sent – second class post of course as I’m not spending good first class money on this one. It will be interesting to hear what she says. Will she bring down on my the full weight of her lawyers, or will she just invoke fire flood and pestilence on my wicked soul? Who knows. Over the next few days we may surely find out.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Too Much Champagne

Most of my friends are married. I attended the wedding of one of the last of our little group of old school chums at the weekend. She walked down the aisle, a vision in sparkling tulle to “The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba”. It seems to be a pretty popular choice for brides these days and I suppose that the Kaiser Chiefs might not go down so well with the grannies.

The bride herself was, of course, late. Brides are meant to be late but this one has never been early for anything so she was very very late. Her mum called across the church to reassure the grooms’ parents that she was on her way, although they didn’t appear to be too concerned. It turned out that her dress had come adrift and her dad had had to take a needle and thread to it and sew her back in. It was a bit of a revelation to us (and perhaps him) that he was so nifty with a needle and thread.

Weddings always make me cry. This has got nothing to do with still being single (honest!) but more to do with the overall emotion of the whole thing. So of course we were midway through the first hymn when little droplets of water started in the corners of my eyes, quickly becoming rivulets and then small floods. My attempts to stem the flow were watched avidly by one of the bridesmaids. A look of extreme puzzlement crept over her six year old face and continued for the rest of the evening whenever she saw me. I may have put one small child off ever getting married. I do hope not.

Later on in the evening another single friend got very drunk (well I’m assuming that that was the reason) and made me make a pact with her that if we were both single at 40, we would each buy a cat, move in together and embrace a life of eternal spinsterhood. I reminded her that 40 was not such a long way away for either of us (although I will be getting their first) and tried to dissuade her from any such foolish notions. Sadly she was not for having it. I just hope that she was drunk and forgets because it is not a pact that I have any intention of following through on although cats are quite pleasant creatures…..

I thought that weddings were supposed to be joyous occasions. Granted, most of the guests appeared to have permagrins on the whole time but one chap was in quite a maudlin mood.

“Well” he said “That’s most of the weddings out of the way, so the next time you (myself and my old school friends) see each other again it will be at a funeral.”

“Thanks a lot” I almost spat “I think it will be quite a while before there will be any funerals involving any of us”. I mean, honestly, we are only in our 30’s. What a terrible thing to say and especially at a wedding. I will just have to assume that it was a spectacularly bad attempt at humour or that, again, drink was involved.

Speaking of drink, I had hoped to speak to a former primary school teacher of mine, but unfortunately she had one glass of champagne which proved a bit too much for her and she spent the rest of the night recovering in her hotel room.

She’s not the only one who has a problem with holding her drink. I myself just can’t seem to drink as much as I used to be able to do. I was hoping to hit that just slightly nice, woozy feeling but after one glass of champagne and half a glass of wine the only thing I was feeling was queasy. I drank a glass of water to stop any potential hangovers in the morning and gave up the alcohol as a bad job. Gone are my wild drinking days it would seem.

And then it was all over. The bride and groom slipped off into the night, the dancers kept on dancing and I headed off home to recuperate and prepare myself for another wedding which I will be going to in a fortnight. Perhaps I should work on my drinking technique between then and now.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Edinburgh Festival 2007 - A Tale of Two T-Shirts

Part Two – "Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me. Aren't you?"

Fortunately we weren’t blown apart by either my rucksack or by terrorists and were able to stagger to our feet at some point in the next day to see Robin Ince.

When I was younger I was given a book on dinosaurs. I was devastated as it immediately ruined any street cred that I might have had. One can imagine Robin Ince being given the same book and clutching it to him, atremble with anticipation at the knowledge bestowed upon him and the comedy potential just waiting to be unleashed on an unsuspecting world.

The idea of a comedy set revolving around science sounds to me (who failed every science subject possible) like a contradiction in terms but he was actually very funny although I might have got a little lost around molecules and atoms. I wish my science teacher had been more like him. I might have actually passed something.

The religion jokes went down well but, Comedians Beware! In Scotland, never mention the words Catholic or Protestant, especially not in the same sentence as previously mild mannered atheist catholics and mild mannered atheist protestants could come to blows down some dark alleyway after the gig.

However, for all Mr Ince seems to know about science, he knows very little about the potential of the common or garden sweat gland. He wore a light grey T-Shirt which was a bad move as it steadily darkened in the requisite areas until he looked like he was wearing a map of the world. Not a good look. He would do well to follow the example of Mr Herring and wear a dark T-shirt. I do hope that Mr Ince has a good change of clothing strategy and decent washing facilities.

I would however recommend going to see Robin Ince. Just don’t sit upwind of him – or Richard Herring for that matter!

The mayhem however didn’t end there. Oh no, it continued until 6am the following morning, although for most of that I was out for the count…………………….

The evening progressed (as these things tend to do) into somewhat of a pub crawl, and after a few hours in this vein, picking up a very drunk Irishman on the way, I decided to head off on my own back to L’s house. After a struggle to get in the front door (not the drink – honest it is a bit stiff after all) I gingerly lowered myself onto the bed. The gingerliness was again not to do with the drink but down to the fact that a couple of years ago L’s ex boyfriend had, on being dumped, decided to take his rage out on the scene of their intimate trysts. As a result the bed was in constant danger of collapse and the slightest movement could have sent it, and its occupant, plummeting to the ground. (OK it’s not six feet in the air but I like plummeting in this context.) After some careful manoeuvring and exhortations to myself not to turn over in the night, I drifted off into blissful sleep.

L and R’s night was however not over by any means. After a much longer pub crawl during which time they managed to lose the Irishman, who by this time was, I believe, paralytic, they headed off home. As they got off the bus at L’s house they realised that they had a new friend. A young lad of 22 stepped off the bus at the same time as them and engaged them in conversation. Neither R nor L have been 22 for quite some time, and maybe he had seen The Graduate, but when asked he was more than keen to give R a piggy back into L’s house in return for a massage. He then produced a video camera and filmed the ensuing action but it was all totally innocent I was assured when I heard the gory details the next morning. The climax (?) was reached when L. suggested that she go and get her camera and take a picture of him. R. advised him to get out while the going was good, and, perhaps not surprisingly, he did.

The next morning (actually mid way towards the afternoon) a very weary R. and L. surfaced.

“Oh you really missed yourself last night”

“Well at least I had a good night’s sleep, and I was very careful not to let the bed collapse”


“Well, you know, the slightest movement and I would have been pitched off with broken bits of wood flying around me.”

“I doubt it” said L. once she had finished laughing at me. “That bed won’t be collapsing any time soon. It’s a new bed”!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Edinburgh Festival 2007 - A Tale of Two T-Shirts

Part One – Is That a Rucksack on your back or ………..

Risking life and limb by travelling through so many railway turnstiles with a rucksack on my back, I made my merry way to Edinburgh for the festival. I pitched up with L. at a small pavement cafĂ© on Cockburn Street eating pasta and breathing in the heady scent of flowers in baskets hanging precariously above us, mingled with cigarette smoke wafting over from other pavement diners. After a leisurely pasta and smoke avoidance in the drizzle (because we are trying to pretend that it’s summer round here) we headed off to see Richard Herring, but not before R. had called to inform us that we were late and in danger of not getting in. (Note: we are always disgustingly late for everything but always seem to get in.)

Richard Herring did not disappoint. Perhaps the paedophile joke was teetering on the edge but he didn’t fall in to the muck and the Chris Langham reference was hysterical and got an excellent response from the audience. The sperm joke was surprisingly profound but perhaps that was just me.

I felt also that he was surprisingly restrained when two people walked out to the toilet right across his stage. He said absolutely nothing and said nothing again when they walked back in. It would seem that he’s a well brought up boy.

Now, I must bring up my concern with the T-Shirt that he was wearing. The T-Shirt in question was an intrinsic and funny part of his set and must have got pretty sweaty during the course of it. I am therefore seriously hoping that he has a few identical T-Shirts to wear during the course of his run so that he can perform the same joke without knocking his audience senseless with layers of built up sweat. Can you imagine the stink if he were to wear the same T-shirt for his whole run. I don’t wish to put anyone off going to see him, but you might wish to check with his agent about his T-Shirt strategy and cleaning facilities. You might also want to ask a similar thing of Robin Ince’s agent but that’s for the next instalment.

Despite this, go and see Richard Herring. He will not disappoint.

And then we were off into the city with its drinking potential stretched out before us and we certainly didn’t waste any of that potential. We pitched helplessly, from one bar of heaving humanity to another until we were part of that heaving humanity. We finally ended up squashed into the corner of a large bar with a beer garden where it would appear that half the lost souls of Edinburgh had chosen as their home for the evening. Despite the rain, people spilled out of the bar into the beer garden to watch helplessly as the rain plopped into their pints.

More people kept coming into the bar. It was standing room only as they squashed and crushed their way in, leaving barely room to breath, never mind drink. And drink they did, copious amounts disappeared down throats and into cavernous bellies. I kept banging into people with my blessed rucksack and those people were giving me some very strange looks in return.

The smile on R.’s face broadened and a wicked gleam came into her eyes.

“This would be a good place for the bombers” she said.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

It's Edinburgh Time

It’s that time of the year again. I won’t be blogging for a few days now as it’s time to make my annual pilgrimage to The Edinburgh Festival (Hooray). Among the highlights for us this year will be Richard Herring and Robin Ince. I’m not sure what my friends have chosen for us to see, but that adds to the general excitement of not knowing quite what to expect.

What you can expect however, is a full round up of the Festival goings on on my return at the beginning of next week. Have a lovely weekend whatever you do.

I will leave you with Shower Protocol (not my own work but doing the e mail rounds at the moment and sent to me by R.) Enjoy!

Shower Protocol
How To Shower Like a Woman

Take off clothes and place them sectioned in laundry basket according to lights and darks.
Walk to bathroom wearing long dressing gown.
If you see husband along the way, cover up any exposed areas.
Look at your womanly physique in the mirror - make mental note to do more sit-ups/leg-lifts, etc.
Get in the shower.
Use face cloth, arm cloth, leg cloth, long loofah, wide loofah and pumice stone.
Wash your hair once with cucumber and sage shampoo with 43 added vitamins.
Wash your hair again to make sure it's clean.
Condition your hair with grapefruit mint conditioner enhanced.
Wash your face with crushed apricot facial scrub for 10 minutes until red.

Wash entire rest of body with ginger nut and jaffa cake body wash.
Rinse conditioner off hair.
Shave armpits and legs.
Turn off shower.
Squeegee off all wet surfaces in shower.
Spray mould spots with Tile cleaner.

Get out of shower.

Dry with towel the size of a small country.
Wrap hair in super absorbent towel.
Return to bedroom wearing long dressing gown and towel on head.
If you see husband along the way, cover up any exposed areas.
How To Shower Like a Man

Take off clothes while sitting on the edge of the bed and leave them in a pile.
Walk naked to the bathroom.
If you see wife along the way, shake willy at her making the 'woo-woo' sound.
Look at your manly physique in the mirror.
Admire the size of your willy and scratch your bum.
Get in the shower.

Wash your face.
Wash your armpits.
Blow your nose in your hands and let the water rinse them off.
Fart and laugh at how loud it sounds in the shower.

Spend majority of time washing privates and surrounding area.
Wash your bum, leaving those coarse bum hairs stuck on the soap.
Wash your hair.
Make a Shampoo Mohawk.
Rinse off and get out of shower.

Partially dry off.
Fail to notice water on floor because curtain was hanging out of bath the whole time.
Admire willy size in mirror again.

Leave shower curtain open, wet mat on floor, light and fan on.
Return to bedroom with towel around waist.

If you pass wife, pull off towel, shake willy at her and make the 'woo-woo' sound again.
Throw wet towel on bed.

Is it just me or is it easier and more fun for men?