Monday, January 31, 2005

Sound of the crowd


The sound stopped the conversation in it's tracks.

I'd answered the phone a couple of minutes earlier to be greeted with a recruitment agency who had 'just the perfect opportunity for me'.

He was just in the process of selling to me the benefits of using his agency when this sound brought a reality to the picture he was trying to paint.

It definitely wasn't me, I'd have been proud of it, wanting a round of applause or something. It was one of those really deep belly ones. I used to play football with a guy who could be heard for miles making this sound.

The sound definitely wasn't him too, although it did come from his end of the phone.

It threw him off guard, he started stuttering and spluttering and the sure, smooth orator of seconds before had turned into a verbal mess. He was very embarassed.

"I'm really ermm sorry about that Watski" he stuttered, and tried to continue as before. He couldn't.

Clearly riled, I could sense the need to say something building up in him.

"Just bear with me a minute" he eventually said, and put me on hold.

I had the mental image of him wringing someones neck before washing his hands, splashing his face with water, adjusting his tie, taking a deep breath and returning to the call a minute or so later.

"Sorry about that" he said, a minute or so later.

Almost immediately I heard the sound of an ambulance pass by at his end.

I'm sure it was just coincidence.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Black and White

The Football Association have binned thousands of DVD's celebrating the best 50 English players since the war after protestations that no black players were included.

They've finally gone mad.

Maybe there haven't been that many good black players since the war.

The only black players I can think of that could possibly be included are Paul Ince, Viv Andersen, John Barnes, Sol Campbell, Rio Ferdinand, Ashley Cole, Ian Wright and probably John Barnes. And the only player there that I could make a case for inclusion would have been John Barnes... and that's because he was the least rubbish. Maybe 5 or 10 more years for Ferdinand and Campbell.

It's like complaining of no white players being included in the Greatest West Indian cricketers of all time dvd.

They've now remade the dvd and included several black players. Surely that's worse.

The whole place is barmy.

Everyone's gone mad.

Except me.

Sorry for the football post.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

A sign

You know you need to start eating more healthily when you get recognised by the owners of the local Chinese restaurant whilst shopping in Asda.

'Oh thats the woman from the Chinese I thought to myself' as I walked round.

"Harro" she said to me.

I was in a dilemma. I wasn't sure whether her knowing me was a good or bad thing - if I was one of the faceless masses that frequented her establishment then fair enough, but she recognised me, which meant that I went in there far too much. It was a sign.

While I was thinking this my stomach was telling my mind to stop being soft and to think about the possibility of free prawn crackers.

"Hello, errr, hello..." I said, feeling sad that I didn't know what her name was, other than the woman from the Chinese.

If I was to rank all the Chinese people in order of how often I see them, she would be the first, her husband who pops his head around the kitchen door every now and again would be second, their daughter who is sometimes on the counter would be third. And my Grandma would be 4th.

Her face then dropped as her eyes moved from me to the things in the trolley. If faces could tell a story hers would have said: 'what does he need all this food for - surely he gets all his food from us, he shouldn't need to be in here at all'.

It must have been a dagger to her heart to know that I'm being unfaithful.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Hanging on the telephone

It's an experience that I so far haven't been subjected to, until yesterday. I didn't know how lucky I was.

"Hello, how may I help you?" came the heavily accented Indian voice after I rang my credit card company to pay an installment on my card.

Outsourced eh? I thought to myself.

"Err, I'd like to pay an installment on my credit card please" I shouted slowly, naturally falling into obnoxious Brit abroad mode. I must buy some Union Jack pants I thought.

"Can I have your credit card number please Sir?"

I gave it, slowly.

"Can I have your credit card number please Sir?"

I was just about to say that I'd just given it to her when I stopped and decided to just do as she asked, from the heavily accented voice I could tell that I needed to make sure I did as much of the talking as possible. I knew what she had said so I should stick with that whenever it happens.

I gave it again, slower. And louder. She had obviously got it this time as she then asked me for my credit card limit.

"I can't quite remember the exact number but it's around £xxx" I answered.

My guess obviously wasn't the exact number on her screen, I could tell this by the long silence and the 'errs'. I broke the silence:

"It's as good as you're going to get, I don't have my statement in front of me so I don't know it exactly. It's there or thereabouts. I can fire random numbers at you until I fluke it if you want, but that's as good as you're going to get"

I had visions of them putting me on hold and flicking through their English dictionaries for 'fluke', and then I contemplated throwing into the conversation as many regional or slang words that I could.

This must have done the trick as she 'erred' for another 20 or so seconds before asking my date of birth, the first 2 letters of my mothers maiden name, my postcode, my address, my home phone number and then my work phone number.

I was stuck here again as I've had the card a few years and changed jobs at least 4 times in this period, all with differing phone numbers.

"I'm sorry, the work phone number I have at the moment wont be the one on your system and I can't remember the other ones I've had"

Silence again.

"Are there going to be many more questions?" I asked. I was close to submitting and giving in.

'It's not her fault though' I thought, she's just doing her job - it's the companies who outsource these services that are at fault.

"I'm sorry Mr Watski, I'm afraid we can't help you today" came the voice eventually.

My sympathy vanished in a micro second.

"Look. All I want to do is pay some money off my credit card - how difficult can that be? I'm not going until it happens, either you make it happen or let me speak to someone who can. I don't know the answer to all these questions you're asking me"

"Oh, you want to pay some money Sir, certainly" she said

Then followed another period of silence

"Can I have your credit card limit please?"

They reason they outsource these places is because it's too far away to go round and bang their heads on the desk.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Leader of the pack

I was cleaning out the car at the back of the house on Saturday morning when I noticed young neighbour opposite wheeling his little bike around the corner. When I say little I mean sort of minute. It was tiny. He was almost bent double pushing it. I had to stop myself from laughing when I imagined his knees must be over his head when he rode it.

I was pleased though because it meant that I could use one of the 2 questions I ask bikers when forced against my will into conversation with them.

"How fast have you been on that?"

"Oh about 45 miles an hour"
he replied

He was obviously lying. The bike was tiny - almost a joke bike. I did think it was remote control for a minute. It can't go that fast surely.

"Really? Whereabouts do you go on it?"

That was it, I was done with my questions, I had no more - the conversation was destined to end soon. I really should use them more sparingly. I use these two questions because they are something that people know a little about - speed and places, anything else involving bikes and I'm lost. You could spray paint what I know about motorbikes on the inside of a crash helmet - these questions are my comfort blanket.

"Over there on the farmers fields"

This fitted in with the buzzing noise I had heard throughout the morning. Maybe he was telling the truth.

I then realised I had an opportune moment to re-introduce the only other question I know. The long banned 3rd one.

"Have you ever fallen off it?"

It was a question I asked before until the time that I got into a conversation I couldn't get out of with a biker who talked non-stop for 30 minutes about amputation, bolts, loss of life and various other nasty things before ending up crying into his beer. You just can't get out of a conversation like that easily.

Surely I was in safe territory to re-introduce this question though - he was only about 13, how emotional could he get? He hasn't lived enough to have scars - he's probably never even heard of The Smiths. He seemed to have all his limbs - and if by some fluke he did have sad and nasty stories I could just push him over and run away. It was a perfect opportunity.

"Oh yeah, loads of times" he said,

I was impressed, he didn't look upset about falling from bikes either so I threw caution to the wind.

"Have you? Does it hurt?"

"Nah" he said, then proceeded to give me a lesson on the fact that because the bike is so small and low that there is no impact when you fall because you just roll. It was sometimes more fun than riding it.

"Cool" I said.

And I was. I was down with the biking kids.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Let down by the police

I was driving home last night minding my own business - it may even have been that I was singing along to the radio now that I'm a karaoke superstar, well you've got to keep your eye in haven't you? - when out of a side street shot a lad on a bike, he was going so fast down the hill and round the corner that he almost lost control. Had he lost control he would have veered straight into my path - either still on the bike or on his arse. I made to swerve although he'd righted himself before I got to him. Note to self: try harder to maim cyclists in future.

As he did his best to imply that it was my fault with his sign language I noticed that he didn't have any lights on his bike and it made him extremely difficult to see in the gloom. I would have struggled if I really wanted to hit him. Not that having lights on his bike would have saved him from my tyres going over him - unless they were clever life saving, car defying bike lights.

But it reminded me of the time I had a run in with the law over no lights on my bike. I seem to have some history with them.

I was riding home on my trusty BMX from my friends house - I would have been about 14 at the time. It was a bit dark, and cold I remember as I whizzed down the hill getting speed up for the up slope. A police car passed me, quickly stopped and signalled for me to stop - I was lucky that he'd obviously fought all the serious crime that he needed to that day and had time to give me the time of day.

He got out of the car and gave me a lecture on not having lights on my bike, he then knelt down to what I thought was inspect it. He wasn't inspecting.

He felt around the tyre and got hold of the tyre valve

"What's this?" he said in the way that parents ask you questions when they know what the answer is. I was less sarcastic and had no cyncism at all in me at the time and was definitely fully respectful of the nations 3rd favourite emergency service, I might have a few more choice replies given the same situation now, although I don't think I'd fit on my BMX anymore even if I did know where it was.

"The tyre valve" I replied.

"What would happen if I did this?" he said as he put his fingernail in the valve and proceeded to let all the air down in my front tyre

"Don't let me catch you without lights on your bike again" he said as he got back into his car and drove off leaving me to push the bike the rest of the way home.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The worlds gone mad.

CJ's sister - Little CJ is 14 years old, and a very old 14 years old at that.

She went to her school's fancy dress disco with her friends on Friday night. In training for later life they were all spending ages upstairs getting ready, giggling and playing loud music.

Eventually they came clumping down the stairs - for their fancy dress they had all dressed up as...... school girls.

I'm still trying to get my head around it.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Double Take

"Can't we just stay in and get a DVD and a takeaway. I'm really tired"

By the silence I could sense that this wasn't the reply CJ wanted to her suggestion of going out. She'd had her nails done, and as a consequence wanted to do what all girls do when endowed with something new: go out and show it off.

I say nails 'done' - apparently having nails done means having about 100 layers of nail varnish applied to each nail until they're hard enough to use as DIY tools.

"Ooooh you're really boring you are. We never go out" I was right, my suggestion hadn't met with her approval.

"We do, we went out last Saturday night, the Saturday night before that, the one before that and all over Christmas. We go out all the time" I retorted. We did too.

"Yes but we never go out just me and you"

This bit was fairly true, we generally go out with friends. I like having people about. I'm a sociable kinda guy. Having people around sort of makes a night out. But I was beginning to feel guilty and had to respond.

"Ok, get yourself ready and come over here. I'll book a table somewhere and we'll go out" I gave in. Beaten. It was either give in now or give in later, either way I was going to give in.

So she did and we did.

"Why do we never go out, you're getting really boring you are" Came the familiar cry of the hard done to woman. I thought I was having flashbacks.

It was the couple on the next table to us. Then followed the very same conversation that CJ and I had had an hour prior.

It must have been the night for it.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Daddy Cool

Young Watski is going to be a Dad. He works. Which is good news. This bombshell means that I am going to be an Uncle, which also means that I'm going to have to get my act together and become all sensible and conscientious and adopt a socially responsible string to my bow. It also means that my Mummy Duck is going to be a Grandma and my Dad will be a Grandad. I'm sure you know the basics of the family structure so I'll save us all the trouble and stop there.

Him being a father is perhaps the scariest thing to contemplate since....well, since the contemplating that went off around the time that my Dad became a Dad for the first time in 1973 - I'm pretty glad I wasn't around when that happened. Oh hang on.

So as a consequence, Young Watski has done something that all of us would be driven to do having been given this news. He's started his own blog: First timers. Why don't you pop over, have a look and tell him that I sent you.

But don't forget to come back here.

Friday, January 14, 2005


"Would you like a nice chocolate biscuit" my boss said to me, offering me a choice of the full tin.

"Your use of the word 'nice' would imply that there are chocolate biscuits around that aren't nice. I don't believe I've ever come across that problem" I replied.

"Only I forgot I had them in my desk, they're from Christmas" She said, ignoring me and turning to the other people in my area.

"You don't understand the implications of me having one of those chocolate biscuits do you?" I said "Having one of those chocolate biscuits will bring my healthy eating regime crashing down around my ears and would thereby deny me the opportunity of looking down my nose at everyone and pontificating about how unhealthy you all are. And I can't allow that to happen"

She'd already walked away by this time. I was going to have one too.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Idiot alert

Running through the car park at work at 8.59am this morning I was relieved that I was going to be just about on time for our 9.00 team meeting rather than the 10 or 20 minutes late that it could have been.

Why, no matter what time you set off do you always need another 10 minutes? I do anyway.

I waited for the gap in the revolving door (I wasn't getting caught out by that again no matter how late I was) and ran up the stairs 2 steps at a time, I fumbled for my access card, threw my things down at my desk, picked my samples up from the fridge and ran back down stairs to the meeting room.

It was our regular monthly team meeting, the first part of which is a competitor review where we bring samples of other suppliers products in and talk about them. I was pleased because a) I'd actually done it for the first time in months and b) I'd picked some decent stuff up.

The meeting door was closed as I walked down the corridor, I opened it and walked through. The room was full of around 15-20 people all sat down chatting to each other.

Total silence fell as I sat down and fumbled around in my carrier bag on the floor. I pulled the samples out, plonked them on the table and started talking about them, looking round the room and catching people's eyes as I was talking.

A minute or so later I was rudely stopped in my tracks:

"Watski, that's all err very nice, but, err your meeting has been cancelled - this is the budget meeting"

As I was being told this the reality hit me that there were only a few members of my team in the meeting but that there were also a lot of people who aren't in my team that were sat around the table. I'd only seen the people I'd expected to be there when I was talking.

Then proceeded the longest 30 seconds of my life as I sheepishly put my things together and shuffled out of the room, looking forward to being the object of office amusement for the foreseeable future.

The things people search for #2

After the revelation yesterday that people are visiting this site seeking assistance for Bonjela based problems comes a new, weird installment in the 'things people search for' series.

I really don't know what to say to the person landing at this site after searching for the heartbreaking subject of: 'husbands a transvestite'.

Except to apologise for seemingly being the only source of assistance for this type of issue on the interweb.

I can't believe it either.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Medical Emergency

I would like to apologise the person(s) searching for 'bonjela applied to eye by mistake' for this blog showing up on your google results search last night.

I have no idea why I'm ranked 3rd for this search either and if I could give you back the valuable seconds you wasted by clicking on me then I would. I hope this didn't delay your recovery in what must have been an emergency situation.

But lets make it clear that I have no liability for any delay in the injury being treated - I didn't force you to click on here. It was your choice. It's got to be fairly obvious that this place is going to be no help at all in any medical emergency. It's not much help at anything at all if I'm honest. It's positively a hinderance in most cases.

I do hope you found that the information and thought provoking insight provided by this blog eased your pain and anguish somewhat before massaging your shoulders and running a hot bath. It's a little bit like that. And if you would like to pop back when you have all eyes fully functioning then I'm sure you would enjoy it much more - although there is no truth to the rumour that this blog is best read with both eyes closed.

I do hope you now have the situation under control. It's always better in the morning.

But it does beg the question:

In the eye?

How the hell?

Monday, January 10, 2005

Small fry

If this web page was the universe, then our earth in it would be 100 times smaller than this dot: . . (the first dot, not the second one - the second one was a full stop which I used for punctuationary purposes). I'm not even sure that punctuationary is a word, maybe I should have used grammatical instead of punctuationary but I like punctuationary better even if it isn't a word.

Anyway, I digress. Back to the full stop and our earth being 100 times smaller than it. It's not an exact measurement - I'm estimating. You'd probably gathered that. I copied it if I'm truly honest. I planned to measure it but was let down by the size of tape measures in B&Q and the absence of a return phonecall from NASA. So I looked on the interweb instead. How am I meant to achieve perfection with so many people uncommitted to the cause?

There is a point to this drivel by the way for all of you just about to switch over. Although I like to think that most of you are intrigued as to where I'm going with this. Never let it be said that you dont get your recommended daily allowance of information as well as thought provoking insight from this blog.

My point takes the form of a question:

Why in a universe so big are so many people trying to get to Leeds at the same time as me in the morning?

Friday, January 07, 2005


Everyone has an imaginary version of what they look like. For those times when you imagine yourself in a situation and there are no mirrors around to check. Do it yourself: Imagine yourself in a situation, then look in the mirror and see how far you are from the truth.

The perception of myself that I currently have in my mental image gallery is somewhere around that of an athletic teenager from 10 or so years ago. When I was in my prime.

I'm fooling no-one. Perception does not equal reality.

Not even close.

I am now becoming what is technically known as 'a fat git'. Or at least I think I am. I haven't done any real exercise for a few months now. My idea of exercise at the moment is to move the chocolate out of arms reach so that I have sit up and move more than my hands to get at it.

I used to fight it, but I don't even try to do that anymore. I was asked whether I go to the gym the other day - I used to answer 'well I try and do what I can' whenever anybody talked to me about exercise. This time I said 'do I look like I do?'. The next step from denial is self deprecation obviously.

But the downside of acceptance is that you actually do accept it and it becomes the norm. I must now be at the see saw of life - I can accept it forever, or I can do something about it.

I realised all of this the other night when I was lazing on the settee and caught myself attempting to use my belly as a balancing object for spare pieces of chocolate so that I didn't have to keep reaching across for it all the time.

It's wake up time.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Slap and unwrap

'Tap and unwrap'.

Surely one of the most misleading phrases ever to grace the English language.

I've never tapped it, unwrapped it and seen the segments of the Terrys Chocolate Orange fall apart symmetrically awaiting my delectation like it does on the adverts.

What do you have to tap it with? A hammer?

Maybe it should be: 'run over with car then unwrap'.

After the fifth smack with the fist I'm resorting to pulling the thing apart with fingers, teeth, pens, anything I can lay my hands on. There's chocolate all over my hands, shards all over the floor, people are leaving the room for their own safety. The thing is almost ruined.

The picture is of pure desperation, anyone entering the room at the exact time that I'm throwing the chocolate orange against the wall could be excused for thinking that I've just emerged from chocolate cold turkey with a bang.

It's just not worth the effort. Buy me something easier and less frustrating to get at next year please. I mean buy CJ something easier and less frustrating for me to get at next year.

As you can tell, I'm selflessy working my way through the Christmas snackfood on behalf of the rest of the family awaiting the big health extravaganza starting next week.

It's a tough job but someones got to do it.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Karaoke King

What turns a seasoned karaoke hater with avoidance tendencies to turn turtle?

New Years Eve, friends, a microphone, a karaoke CD and no choice. That's what. All mixed together with lashings of beer.

I hate karaoke.

Or did.

I would rather have stuck pins in my eyes than do karaoke.

Before now.

When Young Watski said that he was bringing his karoake cd to the New Years Eve party at my friend Jakes house, I tutted and moaned and cast varying aspersions on the sexuality and sanity of people willing to make a fool of themselves on this entertainment of the devil.

The fact that I have a terrible singing voice is one of countless reasons to sit at the back of any room where the karaoke disease is present and shrink into a chair muttering and wondering about the future of the world.

It's just not normal is it? Why would people with bad voices promote that fact in a room full of people?

By the end of the night they were dragging the microphone from me. I'd sang the whole lot. Spandau Ballet, George Michael, Buggles. You name it, I had a go.

Not Elton John though. A bridge too far.

It was 4am before I was finally stopped. I was giving it the whole arm movements and dancing, the shirt was unbuttoned and the chest was out. Bill Withers' backing band happened to be walking by the house and had to double check that it wasn't the man himself on the mic.

I have now turned into an embarassing older relative.