Friday, October 29, 2004

Fishing around...

Flicking around the channels last night I happened upon a fishing programme on one of the obscure channels that no one watches. Well CJ is away.

Fishing programmes worry me, or I worry about the people watching them as watching a man catch a fish is almost as exciting as watching a man walk a dog isn't it? It's not football, let's face it.

You can probably tell that I'm not a fishing bod but I do appreciate that there is some real primitive skill involved in standing out of the water and tempting a fish out of it. What I worry about is when the fish learn to return the favour - you'll be walking down the high street one day and see a pork pie on the pavement, you pick it up and the next thing you know you are being dragged towards some water. Or you'll be enjoying a day on a boat and see a bar of chocolate on the deck, mmm you say as you grab it and are dragged off the deck towards some waiting sharks with a 'human' rod.

You may scoff but the day will come.

Anyway, I digress. Where was I? Fishing on tv. Oh yes. I do always stop though when I see a fishing programme presented by John Wilson, as he's always so jolly and makes me laugh, he literally giggles all the time. I actually only watch to see how soon it is before he giggles and how many times he does it and whether he can make me giggle, which he invariably does. The world is a brighter plaice for John Wilson. Plaice - place: geddit? Sorry.

A typical scene involving John Wilson would go along the lines of:

*picture man landing fish*

"Hoo hoo, that's a beautiful hee hee fish that is ha ha, he gave me a hee hee bit of a ha ha struggle before I managed to heee heee land it haa haaa. Beautiful. Hee hee."

Watching it last night reminded me of the time I joined a friend and his Dad on a fishing trip. We were about 16 at the time and he and his Dad were experienced weekend anglers with all the gear whereas I was the polar opposite. I was the archetypal fisher hanger on with my scruffy clothes on and no idea.

We went to his regular haunt which was a lake probably around 200m in circumference, he 'set' himself up before he turned on me. He gave me a rod and showed me how to put the bait on, taught me how to cast the bait in the water and told me to watch the float. When it flickered and went under then I was to 'strike' the rod. Striking was sharply pulling the rod upwards so that the hook caught. He then ushered me away to a quiet part of the lake where I was to keep quiet and out of the way.

A few hours passed boringly as I guess they do in fishing. I tried smoking, decided I didn't like it, then realised I needed it to satiate the boredom. I ate all my sandwiches before realising it was only 9am and I'd already been there 4 hours. I then contemplated the maggots, luncheon meat and sweetcorn. It's a toss up between maggots and sweetcorn for the worst choice I reckon.

Then my float flickered before going under, the reel made a 'zirring' noise as I could see the line shoot off to about 20-30 yards in front of me. I jumped up and forgot my decorum.

"Woo Hoo (which is maybe where John Wilson started), I've got one, i've got one"

"Strike it then!" my mate shouted

"Oh yes" I'd forgot about actually catching the fish in all the excitement of catching a fish.

I ran over to the rod, grabbed it and struck it for all my worth. The lake full of fisherman erupted in a chorus of fits and hysterical laughter as they watched the fish - still attached to the line, shoot out of the water, over my head and land in a tree behind me.

I'd struck too hard - the fish was only a couple of ounces in weight. I'd struck to land a whale.

It took me most of the rest of the day to untangle the kit from the branches.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Under Siege

Every couple of weeks or so it appears, on the doormat, in it's polybag wrapping, looking up at me, waving:

"Hello. I'm here again. Yes, we both know you dont want me here but what are you going to do about it?"

The Kleeneze brochure is here again.

And so starts my misery.

I've tried telling them that I have no need for a porcelain digging dog, a gourmet cheese mill or any of the other tat that I am being offered. I actually told the portly woman a good few months ago that I would have no further requirement for their brochure. She couldn't believe that I didn't want it, it came as a bombshell to her - as though I'd insulted her, all her family and nicked her Grandads walking stick. I could see the disappointment as she looked me in the eye. She believed in this stuff and believed that she was spreading the word and making the world a better place.

But I was insistent - she even wrote it down in her little notebook as I told her. I watched her do it. She wasn't going to write anything down - she just said 'ok love' when I asked her not to deliver. But I know that 'ok love' meant nothing and wouldn't stand up in a court of law.

I asked her how she would know not to deliver to me and she said that she'd remember. I wasn't so sure and asked her to make it a bit more official, anything would do - so she just wrote my house number on a blank page and put a cross next to it, then showed it to me. It was futile gesture that proved nothing but it made me feel better anyway.

The reappearance of the brochure though means that the big black cross against my house number in her notebook doesn't signify not to deliver to me. I wonder what it does mean then. Maybe I wont be getting a visit from Santa. Maybe it means carry on delivering with extra vigour and especially to this house. Maybe it means that this person isn't in during the day so please burgle his house.

Other times I simply just place the brochure back outside the house, but this always seems to coincide with a turn in the weather and they are then reluctant to remove their paper mache belongings, so then I have to put it in the bin.

Not being in when they return doesn't help either, this just starts a whole new chain of little notes posted through the door saying 'sorry we missed you, we will return to collect your order soon', as though we are old friends. Trying to do the marketing thing on me now too eh? Play with my mind? I'm not falling for that old trick. I'm not surprised you missed me, I'm at work during the day - like the vast majority of the population.

So now I have a brochure in the house that I didn't want and can't get rid of, and a steady stream of notes being put through the door wanting it back.

I'm under siege.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Water Works

I'm beginning to wonder if I was born with all the bits I should have come packed with, or whether the bits that are there are beginning to malfunction. If I was a toy I'd be thinking about taking me back to the shop for a refund and writing a letter to the manufacturers complaining about sub-standard products. It's worrying at 31.

I say this because I think I've got some bits missing, or misfiring at least. The absence of a decent bladder seems to be the main cause for concern. Either that or I've had it removed totally whilst I wasn't looking. And replaced with a sponge. A full to capacity sponge.

My water retention, or lack of it, is getting a little concerning. I'm regular to say the least. Water goes through me as though my torso is empty of organs. It's getting to the point where I have to plan my fluid consumption so as to avoid putting myself in a compromising situation. Maybe I have the human equivalent of a washer that needs tightening.

A typical morning sees me having a drink then driving an hour or so to work before running through reception to the toilet. If there are any traffic hold ups then I'm jiggling in the seat trying to think of something a little less urgent. Anymore than an hours distance and I have to consider not drinking any fluid at all.

At work it's no different, I'll drink some water then have to go for a pee soon after. I have a drink of water before I go as I've convinced myself that it helps, the problem is that drinking before I go increases the urgency the more I drink - as though I'm topping it up. That can't be normal. People have started noticing.

I can't concentrate and I check exit routes thoroughly when in unfamiliar places. It's exactly the same at home except that I have to wind down drinking so as to avoid being woken up at night by an urge.

I do apologise for bringing this matter to your attention, but I feel better telling you.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004


Wind em up and watch em go..

Chart Attack

As far as I can remember, single is another word for 'one', couple means 'two' and few generally means more than two.

So therefore, if I am told that there is a 'couple' of something then I am well within my rights to expect there to be two of them, three at the most, allowing for a slight underestimation.

Clarifying that little conundrum I can now say with some justification: 'Couple' of charts my arse.

My boss has got some explaining to do, when he returns from hiding. He sent me a real hospital pass this morning, well it was sent last night but I didn't know until this morning how much of a hospital pass it was until I saw the flashing lights when I realised that the charts I had to talk about weren't stopping after the 'couple' that he said were there. There in fact, seems to be around 15 charts here - surely there's been some mistake. 15 has never been close to a 'couple', unless there are 7 couples....and a random single.

Last night he asked me last night if I would mind taking his place in presenting a 'couple' of charts of data to a group of about 25 people first thing this morning. I don't know the subject area well enough to answer lots of questions but I can decipher charts, blag with the best of them and wondered just how difficult it would be, hey it's only "a couple of charts" after all.

I'm not sure what's worse, having 15 charts to present on something that I know very little about or knowing that I've been scammed.

No wonder he's not about.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Things that go ring in the night...

Bzzzz, bzzzz, bzzzz.

My mobile phone, which also doubles up as my alarm clock was buzzing at the side of the bed. There were 2 problems with it buzzing, the first was that it was 2.19am and the alarm wasn't set to go off as it was Saturday morning, the second and far worse problem was that the display informed me that Watski Jnr was trying to make contact with me.

A missed call from Watski Jnr at 2.19am could normally only mean one of two things: 1 - he was drunk and was ringing to tell me how drunk he was, how drunk everyone he was out with was, how rubbish I was for not being drunk with him and how drunk he was again in case I didn't remember the first time he told me, or that he'd forgotten his key and that I'd locked him out.

Stop me if you've heard this one before, as Morrissey once said.

Well I'm guessing that's how the story went anyway, as I slept through the phone buzzing this time and if I had heard it and found that he was locked out then I couldn't do too much about it as I was at CJ's house. And I'm not Morrissey.

There was a third way apparently though. This missed call from Watski Jnr was telling me that the burglar alarm was going off at my house, that it had woken him up, that all the upstairs lights weren't working and that he couldn't switch it off. And it had been going off for 30 mins, probably waking the neighbours too.

Divine retribution works very quickly these days don't you think? It was only Thursday that i'd submitted the form to the man upstairs.

"Something must have tripped then" I said. Suddenly becoming an expert in electricity.

"Have a look at the fuse box and see if one of the switches is down" I was scaring myself. Where was this knowledge when the burglar alarm needed putting in in the first place?

"Yeah, one of them is down. Oh yeah, and now the alarm is working. Oh Good."

"Any other problems you need solving by the flick of a switch?"

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Something for the weekend...

According to today's regulators and bureaucrats, those of us who were kids in the 50's, 60's, 70's and early 80's probably shouldn't have survived, because Our baby cots were covered with brightly coloured lead-based paint which was promptly chewed and licked.

We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, or latches on doors or cabinets and it was fine to play with pans. When we rode our bikes, we wore no helmets, just flip flops and fluorescent 'spokey dokey's' on our wheels.

As children, we would Ride in cars with no seat belts or airbags - riding in the passenger seat was a treat. We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle and it tasted the same. We ate chips, bread and butter pudding and drank fizzy pop with sugar in it, but we were never overweight because we were always
outside playing. We shared one drink with four friends, from one bottle or can and no-one actually died from this.

We would spend hours building go-carts out of scraps and then went top speed down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into stinging nettles a few times, we learned to solve the problem.

We would leave home in the morning and could play all day, as long as we were back before it got dark. No one was able to reach us and no one minded.

We did not have Play Stations or X-Boxes, no video games at all. No 99 channels on TV, no videotape movies, no surround sound, no mobile phones, no personal computers, no Internet chat rooms. We had friends We went outside and found them.

We had skipping ropes, played elastics and street rounders, and sometimes that ball really hurt. We fell out of trees, got cut and broke bones but there were no law
suits. We had full on fist fights but no prosecution followed from other parents.

We played knock-and-run and were actually afraid of the owners catching us. We walked to friend's homes. We also, believe it or not, WALKED to school; we didn't rely on mummy or daddy to drive us to school, which was just round the corner.

We made up games with sticks and tennis balls. We played shops, doctors and nurses, mummies and daddies and it wasn't rude. We rode bikes in packs of 7 and wore our coats by only the hood. The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke a law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law.

This generation has produced some of the best risk-takers and problem solvers and inventors, ever. The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas.

We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all. And you're one of them. Congratulations!

The majority of students in universities today were born In 1985........They are called youth.

They have never heard of We are the World, We are the children, and the only Uptown Girl they know is by Westlife not Billy Joel. They have never heard of Rick Astley, Toyah Wilcox, Bananarama, Nena or Belinda Carlisle.

For them, there has always been only one Germany and one Vietnam.

AIDS has existed since they were born. CD's have existed since they were born.
Michael Jackson has always been white. To them John Travolta has always been round in shape and they can't imagine how this fat guy could be a god of dance. They believe that Charlie's Angels and Mission Impossible are films from last year. They can never imagine life before computers.

They'll never have pretended to be the A-Team, Red Hand Gang or the Famous Five. They'll never have applied to be on Jim'll Fix It or Why Don't You. They can't believe a black and white television ever existed and don't even know how to switch on a TV without a remote control. And they will never understand how we could leave the house without a mobile phone.

Now let's check if we're getting old...
1. You understand what was written above and you smile.
2. You need to sleep more, usually until the afternoon, after a night
3. Your friends are getting married/already married.
4. You are always surprised to see small children playing comfortably
with computers.
5. When you see teenagers with mobile phones, you shake your head.
6. You remember watching Dirty Den in Eastenders the first time around.

Friday, October 22, 2004


The flies have now gone. Hurray!

But they've left a legacy. Boo!

One that I'm not entirely comfortable with either. In fact, it's a little disturbing if I'm honest.

I now think that I'm seeing flies where there are none. The merest thing catches my eye and my head will swivel round immediately in it's direction to see what it is. It's nothing. I've started telling nothing to "F**k off" and "Go away".

Or is it nothing?

Are the flies still there and playing tricks on me? Catching my eye then darting behind the door before I have time to focus.

And worryingly I've started doing it when I'm not in the house. When I'm caught doing it at work I have to put my hands above my head and pretend that I'm stretching. Fortunately I haven't swore though.

I think I've seen what's happening with me. There's a sinister similarity there that I recognise. I'm turning into a street bloke aren't I? The bearded masses that wander around city centres shouting expletives to no one in particular and waving their arms around. Driven to drink and losing everything.

They are the me of the future, they have suffered with the flies and been sent mad eventually.

It's a slippery slope. But I'm on my way.

Thursday, October 21, 2004


It was a cold, foggy evening. The streetlights only just managing to peer through the gloom.

I sidled silently around to the back door of the house using the darkness as my cover. (It was night, I didn't have a heavy metal tribute band on at full volume in case you're wondering).

Fumbling in my pocket I found the key amongst the various receipts and coins, carefully placed it in the lock and turned it.

I opened the door quietly and let myself in. Immediately the burglar alarm started beeping - I'd forgotten all about that, pressing the buttons quickly I managed to turn it off without too much damage being caused.

Everything quiet, I closed the door and reached inside the carrier bag I was holding. It was total darkness but I knew what I was looking for and wanted to be ready. There were no second chances. I held it in my hand primed.

I put the carrier bag down and reached to turn the light switch on. Click.

The kitchen now bathed in light I started, catching them all by surprise, there was no escape. I was enjoying it now, they had no chance, they were trapped in the room, again and again I went. You could see the terror, they tried to get away but it was carnage - bodies were everywhere. Watski was the master.

Fly spray rules.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004


I came home the other day to find that the house is overrun with little black flies, they're into everything, flying around the kitchen and generally making a nuisance of themselves. I can't put anything down without one of them landing on it within seconds, including me.

I've done a bit of research and found that my new found buzzing friends are fruit flies: 'Attracted to over-ripe fruit and often found in the home at this time of year'. Oh good.

Their name leads me to assume that they have been in the house searching for fruit. I don't know what makes them think that the unhealthiest man in the world would have fruit in his house. Well he does apparently as they've found it. Maybe it was a lucky guess. How did they get in anyway? There's no sign of forced entry.

Because of their presence I now seem to have evolved a different walk to most humans, included within the conventional left and right foot steps I've now incorporated a swish of the hand around the head accompanied by an expletive. No doubt this will be referred to in the future as the Watski wave. I can't do anything without a buzzing accompaniament.

And these things just dont understand English. "F**k off" and "Go away" means F**k off and Go away. It doesn't mean fly around me some more and get your friends to do it as well. Apparently fruit flies share 60% of the human genes - not the hearing gene, the understanding when a person wants to kill you gene or the get out of my house and stop bothering me gene it would seem.

Where are your spiders to take advantage of this situation Watski you might ask. At any other time of the year there would be a plethora of spiders in the house for me to blog about. Now? Lazy buggers. They've gone. Fled. Unable to cope, they've flown the nest looking for an easier shift. One spider missed the evacuation, probably in the no mans land half way up the drain pipe. I caught him and and now he's working overtime in the kitchen window. Although he never need work again after this. I noticed he's put on a bit of weight, his web is even beginning to bow a bit in the middle.

My research also tells me that fruit flies are 'easy to rear and maintain'. Well I've found that out easy enough - I didn't mean to rear any of the buggers and I'm maintaining them somehow, and now they're plaguing me by way of thanks. Maybe they think I'm their Dad. Why would you want to rear them anyway? Because you like things buzzing around your eyes?

'So what's the drawback with fruit flies?' the research says. I'd have thought that was pretty easy to answer. Fruit flies are the drawback with fruit flies surely. Wrong. 'The little critters have wings' it answers. Flies? Wings? Get away with yourself. Who'd have thought it? Don't most flies have wings?

But they are right to differentiate because apparently there are 2 variants of fruit flies: one with wings and one without. The ones without are bred specially to feed fish. I don't mean that they actually feed the fish, can you imagine that? I mean that they are food for fish. Why couldn't I have got that variant? It would have been much easier to catch, or stamp on. Hardly a fly though is it? Being a fly without wings is not much fun I'd guess. Especially when there's a big salmon coming towards you with it's mouth open.

"Hey wait for me you guys - hey, what's the big.... where's my wings? Hey, how come you guys can fly?" Chomp.

So I'm now cleaning the kitchen from top to bottom.

And buying some fish.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Britney exposed

Britney Spears is taking a bit of a break after being 'naive and overexposed'.

What did I miss? I didn't see that.

Anybody tape it?

Monday, October 18, 2004

One moment of your time...

Those friendly sorts over at the Guardian newspaper took it upon themselves to 'buddy' up with Clark County, Ohio, USA in advance of the American Presidential elections.

They said that Clark County was:

"One of the most marginal areas in one of the most marginal states: at the last election, just 324 votes separated Democrats from Republicans. It's a place where a change of mind among just a few voters could make a real difference."

and that..

"..writing to a Clark County voter is a chance to explain how US policies effect you personally, and the rest of the world more generally, and who you hope they will send to the White House. It may even persuade someone to use their vote at all."

Here is all the thanks they got.

Just the two of us..

Phew, what a weekend!

No, not really.

What a weekend if lying on the settee and not doing a thing is your thing.

Sometimes there's nothing better than a few days chilling out time, some time on your own to just do as you please. I think I might take it a little far though. The only person I spoke to from 4pm on Saturday till when I got into work this morning was the woman in the Chinese. Unless you count telling the flies in the house to 'f**k off' as talking. I'll tell more about the flies later.

I didn't even unlock the doors to the house at all on Sunday.

Just me and junk food in our little bolt hole. For a whole weekend. It was great.

Yes, CJ's gone on holiday again.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

No food allowed...

I've been fiddling around with the links and stuff at the side.

It was meant to be a 5 minute job but turned into a much longer task due to the bits of fluff, food and assorted stuff that had accumulated in the mouse.

Bloody biscuits.

Note to self #1: Eating food at PC is not big nor clever - it will get you in the end.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Something for the weekend..


Golden Retriever: The sun is shining, the day is young, we've got our whole lives ahead of us and you're inside worrying about a stupid burned out bulb?

Border Collie: Just one. And then I'll replace any wiring that's not up to code.

Dachshund: You know I can't reach that stupid lamp!

Rottweiler: Make me.

Boxer: Who cares? I can still play with my squeaky toys in the dark.

Labrador: Oh, me, me!!!!! Pleeeeeeeeease let me change the light bulb! Can I? Can I? Huh? Huh? Huh? Can I? Pleeeeeeeeease, please, please, please!

German Shepherd: I'll change it as soon as I've led these people from the dark, check to make sure I haven't missed any, and make just one more perimeter patrol to see that no one has tried to take advantage of the situation.

Jack Russell Terrier: I'll just pop it in while I'm bouncing off the walls and furniture.

Old English Sheep Dog: Light bulb? I'm sorry, but I don't see a light bulb?

Cocker Spaniel: Why change it? I can still pee on the carpet in the dark.

Chihuahua: Yo quiero Taco Bulb.

Pointer: I see it, there it is, there it is, right there...

Greyhound: It isn't moving. Who cares?

Australian Shepherd: First, I'll put all the light bulbs in a little circle...

Poodle: "I'll just blow in the Border Collie's ear and he'll do it. By the time he finishes rewiring the house, my nails will be dry."

The Cat's Answer: Dogs do not change light bulbs. People change light bulbs. So, the real question is: How long will it be before I can expect some light, some dinner, and a massage?

Friday, October 15, 2004

The Blackpool Job..

Sorry, no updates this week as I've been on a work conference in Blackpool. **Yeah as if anyone's bothered Watski, it's just given us more time to read better blogs**

I'd totally forgotten what a hole Blackpool was. It took me about a minute of the place for my mind to regurgitate all those bad thoughts that it had kept from me for my own protection.

Blackpool is the kind of place where you do your 'first' things. I did many 'firsts' in Blackpool as a teenager on boozy weekends away, lads holidays and stag nights, which were consigned to a part of my life that was boxed up and labelled: 'teenage years - do not open'.

Although I am proud of doing another 'first' in Blackpool this week, I actually complained to someone. I'm a placid kind of guy normally, nothing really rattles me and I don't do complaining or shouting as, well I just can't be bothered getting worked up about something that's not life threatening. Except for this week. I'm definitely getting older.

I had to share a room with another guy from work, we got to the room about 4.00pm to find a double bed. Although he's a nice enough guy our relationship is purely business so thought that I'd better mention something to reception.

"Err hello, yes this is Room 420 - I'm sharing this room with a guy...*heart stops - what am I saying? Thought pops into head to either be a bit more specific about the reason for sharing or talk in a camp voice to eliminate any doubt*

...and although we're good friends I dont think our relationship has progressed enough to need the use of a double bed yet, thanks for the thought though. So can you either move us or get 2 singles put in the room.... *Thought pops into head wondering whether they think I mean 2 single people - I decide to let it ride*

...oh and can you bring an iron and ironing board please"

We then went to the bar.

The plan for the evening was a school disco party, we had to meet everyone in the bar at 7.30 to exchange laughs and comments about Britney Spears and all my stuff was still in all its packaging. I returned to the room about 6.50 to be greeted with nothing, well nothing that had changed anyway. No changed beds and no ironing stuff.

I rang reception to enquire.

"He's just on his way"

I thought about asking where it was he was coming from that would take him nearly 3 hours but decided not to. I regret it now, I might have brightened her day up with my wit and repartee. She probably would have just said 'tosser' after she put the phone down though, but I wouldn't have known and would have felt just as good.

7.10pm arrived and still no-one, 2 blokes had to both have showers and both iron clothes in 20 minutes. We could have saved time (and water) by showering together but felt that we didn't need the hassle that being caught might bring.

I decided to go and see what the problem was in person. Ably supported by about 5 pints.

"Hello, yes, over 3 hours ago I asked for the beds in the room to be changed and an iron and ironing board to be brought. Nothing has happened and now the ironing board at least is getting fairly urgent. Do you not understand me? Do I need to make myself clearer? Can I make it any easier for you? It's not hard is it? Please do it. Now."

I got back up to the room to find a man trying to break into it - I asked him what he was doing but he had a well rehearsed cover story - he said he was 'the porter', but I was still a little suspicious. He won me round by leaving an ironing board and promising to come back later to change the beds and stick my toothbrush into the toilet.

He didn't really say the second bit but thats what he would have done when I'd gone, so CJ said.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

When will I see you again?

"Can I borrow your I Pod to take with me on my work trip to Spain?" asked Watski Jnr

I nearly choked on my coffee.

"Why? What's up with yours?" I asked.

"I dropped mine in the sea in Cyprus and now it doesn't work"

"I'm not surprised. How do I know that you're not going to fill it full of your rubbish music or drop it in the water again?"

"Don't worry, I'll look after it like it's my own"

"That's what I'm worried about"

Ipod now playing "Don't let him take me" by Certain Death.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Mourning Sickness

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, the situtation with Ken Bigley is truly heart-breaking. It really is. I really feel for his family. I really felt for the situation he himself was in. It is totally unimaginable. It's difficult to comprehend the fear that both he and his family have been through in the past few weeks.

The news of both his capture and his death was deeply saddening. After actually seeing their son, father and brother slaughtered at the hands of these maniacs it would have been so easy to come out an hour later on Friday with all guns blazing, speaking with raw emotion and blaming everyone from here to kingdom come for his death. But they didn't. They were all very dignified. They spoke very eloquently and controlled. They are all better people than I am.

But I can't help but think we are going over the top as a nation about shocking events like this. We have done for a few years now, ever since Princess Di died. We can't go around having minutes silences and books of condolence for all the English people who get killed unlawfully abroad as much as they've suffered and as much as some people would like to. What about the young girl who was thrown off a bridge in Australia? The victims of the Austrian coach crashes? There are so many incidents to number.

Rushing around getting myself settled to watch the England - Wales game on Saturday I noticed among the hubbub that the players were taking part in a minutes silence. I stopped to listen, hoping that it wasn't for Ken Bigley. It was. It was a total knee-jerk reaction. I know I should feel fortunate to be alive to witness the game at all but there doesn't seem to be a week going by without a floor of floral tributes, a book of condolence, a minutes silence and black armbands for something. Where does it stop?

We know the first thing about Ken Bigley, but we don't know any more than that. We knew he was married to a Thai girl, was from Liverpool, had a family who cared about him and knew that he worked in Iraq. We don't know the kind of person he was. Take the basics of most of these things and they apply to all of us.

I find it disrespectful to both the soldiers currently in Iraq and the soldiers killed in Iraq that the powers that decide these things would rather have a minutes silence for Ken Bigley than for them, I find it a little strange that the government have spent more public time talking about Ken Bigley and his death than they probably have for all the 60 odd British soldiers killed in Iraq put together. How must their families feel?

Ken Bigley has been afforded the same honour as most true heroes get. Why? Yes, its extremely sad, despicable and sickening what has happened to him, but there needs to be some level-headedness about it. We have to remember that this guy chose to go to Iraq, chose to ignore all the warnings about the safety of foreigners.

He had a choice whereby the citizens of Iraq and the soldiers who guard their precarious freedom do not. Let's not make a saint out of him.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Pete McCarthy

I was really shocked today to hear of the death of Pete McCarthy.

I never met him or saw him live but have laughed until I ached at both of his books and his death is a really sad thing.

Anyone who hasn't read McCarthy's Bar or The Road to McCarthy really should do.

Things that go growl in the night...and day.

*Growwwwwlllllll, oooowaaaaaaghhhhhhh, eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee* said the house. Yes. The house.

The house has begun to talk to me. Which isn't as scary as it sounds, well not now anyway. I have a constant pipe based accompaniment - a fanfare which lets the whole world know when I'm having a shower or flushing the toilet, or when I use any water at all come to think of it. It's a big growl which literally shakes the whole house from it's foundations and only stops either when I put the cold water tap on or when its gets bored of it.

I initially thought that it was a new 'Save water' campaign by the government, that they were pumping noises through the pipes to dissuade you from using too much water, then I thought that the house was just a bit angry or cold or something and was just letting off steam.

Now, I'm positive that it's trying to tell me something, I'm sure among the different pitches of growls I can hear the subliminal messages:

'eeeewwwwgghhhttthe grass on the lawn is getting a bit long don't you thinkkkkeeeooooooaaaghhhhhhhheeeeee?' or

'gggraaahhhhhhhhow can you be sure that Watski Jnr isn't leaving the iron on all dayyyyyyeeeeooowww?'.

It's begininng to get a bit embarassing too and affecting my standing on the street "Sorry about that, it's just the house." I said to my neighbour the other evening when our paths crossed on the drive at just the time the house let out a little sigh. He now thinks I'm mad.

And it's not just during the day, it also likes letting the neighbours know when I'm visiting the loo for my mid-sleep pee. It also uses this time to ask me:

'eeeeeooooooowwwdid you leave the laptop in the carrrrrrroooooowwwwlll?' or

'eeeeggggrrrraaaaaare you sure you locked the dooorrrrrreeeeeoooooowwwww?'

And I have to run downstairs to check these things. No I didnt, if you're wondering.

I wouldn't mind so much if it answered the question, but it doesn't - it just puts thoughts in my head.

Now I'm wondering whether the lawn does in fact need cutting and I've got this nagging thought that Watski Jnr has left the iron on.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Things that go grump in the night

Bzzzz, bzzzz, bzzzz.

My mobile phone, which also doubles up as my alarm clock was buzzing at the side of my bed.

There were 2 problems with it buzzing, the first was that it was 1.30am and the alarm wasn't set to go off for another 5 hours, the second and far worse problem was that the display informed me that Watski Jnr was trying to make contact with me.

Watski Jnr ringing at 1.30am could only mean one of two things: 1 - he was drunk and was ringing to tell me how drunk he was, how drunk everyone he was out with was, how rubbish I was for not being drunk with him and how drunk he was again in case I didn't remember the first time he told me. I was actually hoping it was that option.

I was hoping it was that option because the 2nd reason could only be that he'd forgotten his key and that I'd locked him out. And I didn't want to get up from my nice, warm pit to let him in.

"Can you let me in?" asked the sheepish voice on the other end of the line.

My hope had been rejected by the big hope rejector in the sky - I'd obviously reached my hope limit and was therefore all hoped out. It sounds like a song Alison Moyet should have sung. I'd have bought it.

"Haven't you got your key?" I grumpily replied.

If I were him I would have been dying to say 'yes I have my key, that's why I've got you up at 1.30am to let me into the house'

All credit to him, he managed to resist the open goal.

It was a small sacrifice to make when faced with a night in the shed though.

I am destined to be woken up in the small hours by hungry mammals.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Sold down the river

For Sale.
1 ex-Navy submarine, taxed and tested, 1 previous owner, genuine ocean miles, no battle scars, all usual refinements, metallic paintwork, leather interior, periscope, shark proofing, full Royal Navy Service History (RNSH), electrics need a little work but lovely runabout, bargain at the price, genuine reason for sale. First to see will buy. No timewasters.

*Ring Ring, Ring Ring, Ring Ring*

"Hello Subs R Us, Your first choice for Ocean going vessels. How may I help you?"

"Err, yes. I wonder if you can help me. I bought a submarine from you the other day, I just get it out of the harbour and it breaks down on me"

"Sorry mate, read the small print - sold as seen. Have a nice day"

Not a Bob

In an interview last night on the excellent 5live, Juliet Melby from the Christian Aid charity was talking about Tony Blair’s visit to Ethiopia as part of his 'Commission for Africa' tour.

She was asked how Bob Geldof, the shaggy haired famine trumpet blower extraordinaire, co-founder of Live Aid and instigator of millions of pounds of relief pouring Africa’s way in the mid-80's, was thought of in Africa.

She replied with the bombshell (to Bob anyway) that not that many people had really heard of him and he was much less famous than someone like, say, David Beckham.

Well, you go and do a good turn and what do you get in return? Nothing. Not even a thank you. What’s Beckham ever done for Ethiopia? Ungrateful buggers.

You'd have thought that there would at least have been a Geldof Avenue in Abbas Ababa or something, possibly a plane or a wind named after him, maybe a plethora of young lads now aged about 20 could have been christened Bob or Midge in tribute.

Would it have been too much trouble to ask that 'Banana Republic' or 'I Don’t Like Mondays' were a permanent fixture on the Ethiopia FM playlist? Or do they now conform to the 'Music from the 80's, 90's and today'?

I know 'Do they Know it's Christmas' was a bit rubbish and grated after a while but I bet Bob’s now wondering whether the time and effort could have been better spent on his marriage

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Teeth stop play

"Stop being such a baby, let me have a look" CJ says for the hundredth time.

"No, you'll hurt it. I just want to lie down here in peace until it goes away. I might sleep." I counter.

Suddenly a third voice joins the fray.

*No you wont, the last thing you'll be doing is sleeping - and I'm not going anywhere, not until I've made your life hell anyway*

My toothache had joined the conversation.

I've got toothache, or gum ache to be more specific. And it's sore. It's about the third time this year that it's happened and it's becoming increasingly regular. I've self diagnosed it and the prognosis is to avoid the dentists.

I haven't been to the dentist for quite a few years anyway, since late teens to be precise, for reasons that I actually don't really know. I think I just missed an appointment and then never re-booked it. I suppose it's one of those things that you never get round to, and because nothing adverse has happened in the meantime then there's no real reason to get round to it. Maybe it is just me blessed with this special type of apathy.

I dont really know if I'm afraid of dentists as I haven't been in such a while.

But now it's different - I have a need to go but it's a vicious circle - I dont go because I dont want them to tell me that there's something seriously wrong, but the longer I leave it the more likely it is that something serious will happen. And the more likely it is that I will develop a serious fear of them. So for the moment, I'm not so much afraid of dentists, I'm afraid of what they might tell me.

If I can go in, they sort it there and then in total silence then I could just about bear it, but I dont want the lecture and I dont want the long drawn out repeat treatments.

So I'm not going, I'm going to sit this bugger out. Come hell, high water, sleep deprivation or painful death. Bonjela and paracetamol will see me through the long nights.

It needs to go soon though as I'm rapidly using up all my reserves of goodwill. I can't be grumpy for a second night running or there's a chance that CJ will trap my head in the door.

And if there are any horror stories in the comments box then I'll send Shrub round to do some random shooting.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Things that go munch in the night..

'Rustle, rustle, rustle' went the Tesco carrier bag. Why was I dreaming of a carrier bag rustling?

'Rustle, rustle, rustle, RUSTLE!, RUSTLE!!' it went again. This time louder.

I woke up with a start, so did CJ. It rustled again, it wasnt in my dreams, it was really happening.

We were both asleep in the tent, the tent was inside the caravan awning. Also inside the awning was a ground sheet, some shoes and a Tesco carrier bag.

"What's that noise?" CJ said sleepily.

"I dont know" I replied.

"You'd better find out, it sounds like someone is in the awning"

"I'd better find out?" Couldn't you have just stopped talking after 'what's that noise'? At least then I didn't feel inclined to check for bogey men in the vicinity"

Being a man is no fun sometimes.

"Ssssh, you'll wake my parents up"

"There's potentially a bogey man in the awning and you're worried about waking your parents up? I'm guessing that the screaming and flashing lights of the ambulance might do it if we dont"

It took me about 2 minutes before I'd quietly undone the two zips on the tent door, silently projected myself head first out of it, rolled around on the floor and then been in a position where I was in control of my balance. Enough time for any resident bogey man to have had a wander round the camp site, picked 4 or 5 clubbing options and then finalised his selection of a very big stick (with a silencer) to hit me over the head with, either that or be long gone.

The third option was that there was a slight chance of me overpowering him whilst he was bent double laughing at my camping pyjamas: Ron Hill jogging bottoms, a stripy jumper and a bobble hat.

I was secretly hoping for the long gone alternative though. Just as long as he was quiet about whatever he did.

I switched the torch on and shone it round the tent. The rustling had stopped a few minutes before, at about the time our voices had started.

"Can you see anything?" Came the cry from inside the tent.

The bag was still in the position it had been left. Other than a slightly disturbed ground sheet there was nothing untoward at all.

"Not really"

I switched the torch off, nipped outside for a pee and had a think. A rustling carrier bag and a slightly disturbed ground sheet? What would Morse do? Hmmm... I'd better check the carrier bag.

I went inside and shone the torch in the carrier bag.

"CJ, come and have a look at this"

Inside the carrier bag of bread rolls I could make out the spiky back third of a hedgehog. Not that I'm not very familiar with a hedgehogs anatomy but it's what I imagine the back third of a hedgehog would be like.

It looked like it had heard us coming and thought 'right, stay very, very still. If I cant see them, they can't see me'. Almost like a young child in a really rubbish hiding place in hide and seek.

"Aaah, he must be hibernating" said CJ.

"Well he cant have picked a much worse place if he is. Can't he go and sleep under the big bonfire like the rest of them?"

I left him where he was, straightened the ground sheet out and began the process of getting myself back inside the tent. Quietly.

About 10 minutes later the rustling started again, only for about 20 seconds, the followed the tip, tapping of tiny footsteps on the ground sheet, then the heavier material sound of the awning sides being moved.

We peered out of the tent and shone the torch. Nothing was different except for a large mousehole shape gap in the bottom of the awning where the intrepid explorer had made his escape.

The trail of crumbs suggested that he'd had one last big munch of what he could and then made a mad dash for it.