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POLAND – A JOURNEY OF SELF DISCOVERY, TOILETS, VODKA AND A WEDDING. (WITHOUT THE SELF DISCOVERY)

29 Nov

Need to get this warning out of the way so that we all know where we stand. If you’re expecting a detailed and organised journal of our recent trip to Poland with good information for the traveller and lists of places to go and to avoid then damn, you’re out of luck. You obviously don’t know me so how the hell did you find this place? Are you a spy, have you been following me? Who do you work for? Dammit, tell me the truth, which agency do you work for?

paranoid 1
Right, sorry about that, got a bit over-excited there for a moment. What I’m writing here is a very personal view of what those few days in Poland were like. Pros and Cons, Pluses and Minuses. Good and Bad. Positive and Negative. And just stuff in general with no real good or bad side to them.

TL:DR Went to Poland, had fun, came back from Poland.
The flight there. Yeah, what can I say about easyjet? Well, loads of things I suppose and all of them bad. We always knew that it was going to be a bad flight but I did hope that it would be slightly better than Ryan Air. Nope, not at all. Cramped, uncomfortable, loud and smelly. But you get what you pay for I guess so nothing unexpected there.

dont easy
We arrived in Krakow and the apartment we were staying at had arranged for a taxi to pick us up. Have to say that it was good to have someone standing at the airport holding up a little sign with your name on it. We’ve all seen it in the films and not thought much about it but when it happens to you, you can’t help but feel a little bit smug. Well, I did. Marta didn’t seem to think as much of it as I did but then my ego does like to be petted every now and then.
The apartment was very nice, smaller than I expected from the pictures on the website but still nice.

bed

And it was just 5 minutes walk away from the Old Town of Krakow and since we were officially tourists and only there for one night there was a law that said we had to spend most of our time in the central square. I’m sure it’s a law or it could have something to do with the number of bars and restaurants.
We’ll get back to the bars of Poland in a minute but I will say that Krakow Old Town looks great. Reminded me a lot of parts of Edinburgh but with more churches and horse drawn carriages. We met up with Adam, Amy and Mark there and did what tourists are expected to do, we went bar hunting.

krakow
So, told you we’d get back to the subject of bars. Right, first things first and need to say that the food and drink was cheap! Very cheap and very nice. Most expensive drinks we had there were about the same price as the cheapest drinks in Glasgow and the majority of places we drank in were half the price at most. And the next thing that has to be said is about the toilets. They stink, in every possible way. Dirty, small and not enough of them. A lot of the bars and restaurants we went to in Poland had a single cubicle for everyone. Not one each, but one cubicle for everyone that was in the bar. Not good, very not good.
The Beer Hall. This is where it all started to go wrong. Or get better depending on your point of view with these things. The brought 5 litre kegs of beer to your table and they had three nozzles where you were meant to pour your drinks.

keg

Or, or, or . . . if you were really foolish you could just put your head under the nozzle and hope for the best. Of course, no-one would be enough of a simpleton to do something like – nah, can’t even bring myself to say it. You know we did it and you know that the rest of the night was just a blur after that point. I have no idea how we all managed to get back to our separate places of rest but it was managed. Somehow.

 

Keg 2

The next day was not good for anyone. Hangovers were bad all round and having to leave the apartment in the morning and spend the next few hours sightseeing before heading to the town where the wedding was happening was not a good plan. But then, plans made before serious drinking never seem to work out in the aftermath of that drinking. Still, the drinking was fun though 
Got to the wedding town (yes, it does have a name and I have no hope of every pronouncing it let alone spelling it so from now until the end of time, in my head anyway, it will be known as the wedding town) on Friday evening and the apartment we were staying in there was terrible. I can’t find a single good thing to say about it. Oh, wait, yes I can. It was cheap. But it was absolutely nothing like the web site, small, cold, dirty and just generally unpleasant. But there were a very limited amount of options regarding places to stay in the wedding town so we were stuck with it.

Wedding Day! Wait, did I mention that we were there for a friend’s wedding? No? Ahh, probably a fairly important part of the trip. But you get the idea now anyway so no real problems. Where was I? Thanks.
Wedding Day! Was fantastic. Lots of Polish people with a handful of Scots scattered around and everyone was very friendly and welcoming. Great, couldn’t have felt more at home. And the food and vodka were endless. I do mean that literally and yes, I do know what the word literally means. As far as that day was concerned, the food and vodka was endless. Every time there was an empty plate or bottle more was brought to replace it by the waiting staff. All afternoon and evening there was food and vodka in front of you. Often you would go up to have a quick dance and when you came back there was more waiting for you.

Vodka

Congratulations to the happy couple, and to the bride and groom as well 

The next few days in the wedding town were pretty quiet. Some time looking around, some time relaxing, some time out eating and drinking. Travelled to the airport town – see above for the situation with names – to get the flight home and that was a pleasant surprise, If you get the chance, fly with Czech Airlines. Seriously, this isn’t an advert. For the same price as easyjet it was so much more comfortable and just better in every possible way. A long day of travelling before we finally got home but no raised tempers, no lost luggage, no uncomfortable silences. You all know the sort of tension that can build up with so much travelling over a few days. But, it passed uneventfully so I count that as win.

Overall impression time. Awesome food and drink, both in price and quality. Hell, we were in a pub that had an actual saxophone as part of the pouring pump. And did I mention 5litre kegs at the table, I think it did. Tasty food mostly, although this obsession with putting things in jelly, and not the good strawberry kind, was a bit of a downer.

saxaphone
Accommodation was very much hit or miss but that was probably because we were in apartments rather than hotels. Next time we’ll be paying more and not letting ourselves be fooled by websites.
People we met were great, unless they were working. Very few people working in the bars and restaurants seemed to be happy and even less people in shops or taxis or anything like that would have a smile on their face. True, no one likes to be at work but this was taking it to extremes. But people we met socially were fantastic, both the people at the wedding and random strangers that we just started chatting to after a couple of drinks. The Dutch were great as well but that was in the Beer Hall and that was just a completely different world.

rob

Rob and Roy – can you tell which is which?

Have to say that there were a lot of very cute women in Poland, very cute indeed. Although I, being very happy in my relationship, would never notice that sort of thing unless I was doing it for research purposes, such as this blog. (And no, writing the blog is not just an excuse for perving on people! Probably).

 

marta necklace

So, that was it. Poland trip in a nutshell. Lots more happened but hell, who ever wants to hear about that sort of thing. Thanks for visiting, thanks for reading and remember to close the door on your way out. Last one to leave please switch off the lights.

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TRIP TO WARMTH AND BEACHES – OR “BLOODY RYAN AIR”

14 Nov

After saving money for about a year, Marta and I treated ourselves to a holiday in Fuerteventura, one of the less “touristy” Canary Islands although it was still just a tourist location. Lots of beaches, lots of sun, lots of all inclusive food and drink, apartment room with balcony. What could be better than that? Okay, lots of things could be better, but for the budget we were working with this seemed pretty damn good to me.

 

Beach 001

Day 1 : Bloody Ryan Air. The Ryan Air flight was part of the package deal and while I knew the company had a bad reputation they exceeded all my expectations. Queues, surly staff, on board luggage moved to hold with no explanation. And the plane itself, Oh My God, the plane! There is a reason that Ryan Air manages to fly so cheaply, well two reasons but the main one is that they pack people into the planes like a group of naked orgy enthusiasts in an elevator. If you have legs longer than about 18 inches, it’s going to be uncomfortable. If you have an ass with less padding than a sofa, then it’s going to be uncomfortable, and if you have a sense of hearing or smell, then it’s going to be unpleasant for you. Vomiting children, drunk, cackling witches, recycled farts. All the horror stories you hear about Ryan Air are true, all of them. Even the ones about gremlins on the plane wings and sharks in the toilet bowls. If you’ve heard it, it’s true.

 

Ryanair_aircraft_cabin
And the second reason they’re so cheap is that they’re not. Basic seat is cheap but they add extra charges on for everything. Expect to pay a lot more for the flight than you thought.
Anyway, got to the hotel and it looked fantastic. Apart from the ugly and miserable people that seemed to be everywhere. I’m not happy with the way I look, you’re not happy with the way you look, no-one is happy with the way they look. But, if you want to feel better, just go to somewhere hot where tourists abound and you will see that the world is a much brighter place than you thought. Inhibitions are lost on holiday (thanks in large part to copious amounts of alcohol) and people who would normally cover themselves up expose naked, pale, bulging flesh. Not just the spare tire around the middle or a bit of extra weight on the ass, I’m talking about people who inhabit two time zones at the same time, people who have their own zip code, people who bend space and time as they walk past. These are the people who will make you feel good about yourself. Don’t pity them, thank them. They make you feel like a better person just by the fact of their existence.
And so many miserable looking people. We saw some families who spent a week there without cracking a smile. Not an exaggeration, miserable the entire time. Why? Why not allow a bit of mirth and merriment into your life. Try it, you might like it.

Parents and children : I believe that children are our future. I am well aware that without children the human population would have a very limited lifespan. I know that parents have every right to be on holiday with their children. I know that you all deserve a break as much as, quite possibly more than, anyone else. However, having said that, if you take children on holiday with you, you are a total and utter Bastard! Screaming children, parents letting them run around without supervision, noise, smell, so much irritation for everyone around you. Do you not hear the groans and sighs as you sit your children down in the restaurant? Do you not notice people get up and move away from you when you go to the pool? Do you not see the way that people glare at you with barely concealed contempt and hatred? You come to relax but so do we and your children are stopping us from doing that!

 

screaming_children_everywhere_by_starlight_arkaman-d50a0bg
But, on the plus side, did I mention that there was a much food and drink as you could possibly ask for. Free cocktails. I’ll say it again just to make the point as clearly as I can. Free cocktails! (Okay, I know they’re not really free, you pay for them as part of your all inclusive package, but don’t burst my bubble with this.)
We had a huge apartment with a balcony that was within 90 seconds walking distance of the pools and one of the bars, two TVs, two fridges, kitchen, all that sort of thing. Very comfortable, very nice, very spacious.

Days, The Rest : Beaches, seal lions, parrots, naked ugly men, boobies, cats, sun-block, posed photos, free draught beer by the pool, glass bottom boats, Frapollates, 80’s Polish cartoons, wandering through hotels other than our own, hunting geckos, watching Los Simpsons in Spanish, wondering if a nap and a siesta are the same thing, finding new shopping markets, more boobies, fishy pedicures, spending hours getting massages and sitting in the spa, singing along to the Hokey Cokey (don’t judge me – remember the free cocktails!), feral cats, camels, paddling in sea, paddling in pool, hunting for cockroaches, free mojito on draught, trying to take decent pictures with a crappy phone camera, pictures taken with hotel staff in “traditional costume”, Marta chasing cats to take their pictures, “A Polka and a Scot walk into an Irish Bar”, evening walks along the beach, Pina Coladas, non-alcoholic Pina Coladas, buffet after buffet after buffet, sun, heat, silly hats, mood rings, tourist shops, tourist stalls, tourist markets, more tourist shops, stalls and markets, shorts, batman t-shirts, batman under-wear, flip-flops, sand.

Day, The Last : See above for rant about Ryan Air. And then back to grey, wet and windy Glasgow.

 

Glasgow Rain

 

I could go into lots of tedious details about the holiday that would be of very little interest to anyone other than Marta and myself, but you get the general idea of it. A great holiday and while I would love to be able to say that it’s good to be home, well, I’d much rather be back there.

GEOGRAPHICALLY MISPLACED IN THE CITY OF VERY DAMP STREETS

8 Oct

This blog is a bit later than it should be. Okay, fine. This blog is very late, but good things come to those who wait and besides, it’s not as though you had a lot of choice in this. You had to wait patiently for me to write this because . . . well, just because. And stop complaining, no-one likes a whiner.

863px-Amsterdam_Cityscape
So, quite a while back Marta and I saw an offer for a mini-cruise to Amsterdam, overnight ferry from Newcastle and then another overnight ferry on the way back. At this point I’d like to say we didn’t look too closely at the time-frame involved other to check out connecting trains. This may not seem relevant now but all will be made clear later.
Train journey from Glasgow to Newcastle was surprisingly pleasant. Very little in the way of screaming children or giggling girls going to hen-parties or drunken rugby fans who believe that everyone should share in their exuberance. Instead the journey involved kindle and mps players. A good start.
We had some time to kill in Newcastle and went to a pub called the Dog and Duck, Pig and Whistle, Ferret and Trousers, Tom and Jerry, something like that anyway. When you looked at it from outside it seemed like an old mans’ local with dirty windows, cigarettes butts sitting all around the doorway and the steady drone of complaints about how things were so much better when “I were a lad!” That’s how it looked. Inside there was rock music blaring, wallpaper with Blues and Jazz images, a red pool table and absolutely no customers apart from us. Just shows that you can’t tell a pub from its name. (Hmm, wonder if that phrase will ever replace the one about books and covers? Maybe I should patent it.)

old-man
Simple bus trip to the ferry terminal later and everything was going smoothly. Quick check in, an upgrade so that all food was included in the price and then the customs. Customs. Yes. I have a shaved head and goatee, a scar that I have been told is pretty obvious although I think it’s just a little scratch and people are exaggerating and my default expression is a scowl. For some reason I often get picked out for “random” checks and this time was no exception. But I was innocent!
“What?” I hear you cry. “Surely you mean you didn’t get caught rather than you were innocent?” No, I was truly innocent. Besides, who would want to smuggle contraband going into Amsterdam?
I couldn’t keep the smug smile off my face as the customs official found nothing in my bag and walked up the gangway to the ferry with a cocky swagger. Yeah, that didn’t last long. I don’t know if you’ve ever been on a channel ferry or the ones that take you out to the local islands, but they tend to have very low doors going into the ship and plaster black and yellow tape all across it to warn people that it is a low roof and to mind their heads. Guess what happened?
Once I recovered from my concussion Marta and I went aboard, walked up the stairs to the main entrance deck and were greeted very cordially by a couple of the staff. I politely asked directions to our cabin and was met by a blank stare. After asking again I was told it was probably that way by a person pointing at half the ship. Helpful, very helpful. After only three full circuits of the entire ship we found the cabin. Cabin I say, perhaps broom cupboard would be more accurate. I hadn’t realised that we had bunk beds and then I remembered that Marta isn’t comfortable with heights. I looked at the top bunk with dismay and quickly came to the conclusion that it was time to head to the bar.

pampanitoBunksBatt
The rest of the day was pleasant enough even though there was some confusion when we realised that the moment the ship undocked they went onto mainland Europe time. I think there was an announcement made over the public address system but if you’ve every tried to make sense of one of those I’m sure you understand why we missed it. We had our meal booked for 6pm or so I thought. So when we turned up at 6 o’clock we were informed that we were an hour late and that our table was due to be used by another couple shortly. Hilarity ensued, as I’m sure you can imagine.
A few more drinks in the evening and then it was time for bed. After a wobbly trip back to the cabin and I swear it was the motion of the boat rather than the alcohol in my system, I stood there looking up at the top bunk. It seemed like a very long way off and when I did make my way up there I discovered that the ceiling, or whatever it’s called on a ship, was about 4 inches from my nose. Yes, my nose may be relatively long and pointy, but even so it was quite disconcerting.
Next morning was getting ready for docking in Amsterdam. Breakfast, preparations and then standing in line for a very long time while everyone went through customs again. This time I was singled out because my passport is quite old and the picture in it may look slightly different to the person I see in the mirror. The passport shows a young man in his prime with hair, a sparkle in his eye and no beard.

Perian New

The person standing in front of the customs officer was bald, had a dark ginger goatee with a spattering of grey in it, dull and listless eyes and a small bruise on his forehead from where he sat up too quickly before remembering the size of the bunk bed. Thankfully, I was able to charm my way through the customs and set foot on foreign soil.
A quick bus journey from the ferry terminal into Amsterdam – if you can call an hour quick – and we were finally there. A city of culture, of history, of canals and of drugs. First thing we did, naturally, was the canal tour. Hah – I know what you were thinking there. Fooled you, tourist thing first. Besides, we could see where the canal boats were and after all that time sitting what we needed was . . more sitting. Yeah, thinking about that now I can see the flaw in the logic. But never mind, canal tour it was. Very scenic and picturesque and I’m glad we took the tour, but it’s not something you would want to do more than once. You can only look as so many flats that used to be warehouses before they begin to blur into one.
We survived the trip – despite the families with screaming children. It’s strange how your thoughts can wander to the possibility of throwing children out of boat windows when they refuse to shut up. The parent find it easy to ignore them – everyone else in the world not so much. On a side note to parents – you can tune your kids out, you want to ignore them for a while so you can relax. IT SPOILS IT FOR EVERYONE ELSE! Ahem, sorry, got carried away there.
Back on dry land it was time to explore. First stop was a small coffee shop for a Muffin. Very pleasant, moist with decent sized chocolate chips. I’m sure there was some other flavour to it, possibly pecan or almonds but not absolutely. You know the sort of thing, you can almost tell what it is but not certain. Some strange and exotic addition to the muffin that makes it all so much better. So good that it makes the world a happier place.

muffin
Refreshed and ready to face the world we went off to explore the streets of Amsterdam. Yup, not much different from any other decent sized city really. After a while the streets seemed to become even more similar to one another and it became difficult to judge distances. Almost as if we couldn’t tell how much time had passed and our sense of direction wasn’t quite what it normally was. I began to get suspicious about our exact location when I realised that we passed the same bar three times even though I was certain that we hadn’t turned any corners. Either time and space was being distorted by a nearby black hole or we had some kind of bizarre food poisoning. Both would explain what was going on and I can’t think of anything else that would.
I knew deep in my heart that we were close to where the bus was going to pick us up to take us back to the ferry. I knew that we hadn’t walked that far. I knew that the bus would be somewhere close to a bar and a canal and how many places like that could there be in Amsterdam. You may not believe this but there are quite a few. It’s full of damn canals and bars and they all look identical to one another. It’s a conspiracy by the locals to confuse tourists, they do it deliberately and they go around counting the bloated and floating corpses of those desperate enough to throw themselves into the canals after wandering lost for weeks.
Maybe.
It’s surprising how long you can be convinced that your destination is just round the next corner before you begin to doubt yourself. I think it was four times I said that the bus was definitely, certainly with no shadow of a doubt just on the next street, that we would be there any second and that there was nothing to worry about. Marta, for some reason, seemed to be a bit paranoid, worrying that the bus would leave without us, that we were never going to find the place and that we should possibly have another Muffin just to make sure that we had the strength to carry on with our long and dangerous trek.
But either the gods or fate was on our side and finally, after much worry and wrong turns and seeing other lost and confused tourists we were back where we should be and the bus was there waiting to take us back to the ferry. It had been a long and tiring time in Amsterdam, surely we must have been there for at least three days, maybe even longer. Time had distorted so much that the clocks on our phones must have been affected because there was no possible way that they could be correct.

seasick
The journey back on the ferry was a bit more . . turbulent . . . than the calm trip over and it was then that I realised that Marta is really not a good sailor and that green is not her colour, at least not when it’s shading her cheeks. She spent most of the trip back in the cabin while I spent it in the bar. By the end of the day we seemed to be as unsteady as each other. And I still had to deal with that damned bunk bed. Everyone should have at least one arch enemy in their life, a nemesis that they have to deal with, a villain that is there to thwart them at every opportunity and that bunk bed is mine. Or at least it was for those couple of nights. I would like to say that I vanquished it and good triumphed over evil, but it kicked my ass to the extent of another concussion and a twisted ankle. And no, don’t say that good did triumph over evil by it beating me. It’s not big and it’s not clever to be mean to me like that.
Once we got home, put our feet up and relaxed I did a little bit of counting and calculation. I figured out that we spent just over 40 hours travelling (although a lot of that time was spent asleep on the ferry) for six hours in Amsterdam. Six Hours! Six bloody hours and most of that time had been spent geographically misplaced. I doubted my own calculations, there was no way that we had been there for just six hours, but it was true. Time outside the city must have been passing at a different rate than what we experienced because the world may say that only six hours passed, but I know it was much, much longer than that.
Can I just say that again? Thank you. Forty hours travelling for six hours of tourist stuff! Admittedly, the travelling was part of the tourist part of the trip but it sounds much more dramatic if I can complain about 40 hours and then put exclamation marks at the end of the six hours comments. Six Hours! See, looks much better that way.

Six cloxk
It’s a break away that I’m glad we did, first trip to Amsterdam for either of us but it’s not something we would be in a hurry to do again. Unless of course it could happen without bunk beds.

Skynet – My Bad!

11 Jun

SKYNET – My fault, sorry about that!

 

droid-guy-live-wallpaper-6-3-s-307x512

 

I have an Android Phone – wait, there’s more to the story than this, please don’t change the channel yet.

For a while now I’ve had an Android phone and fairly much all I’ve done with it is text, call, check my Facebook and take pictures that I probably shouldn’t have mentioned in polite company, or either with you guys. I’m a simple sort of person, I don’t ask for much out of life so this was more than enough for me. Until recently.

I was bored one day and while sitting on the sofa I looked at the phone and came up with the most chilling phrase that has ever entered the mind of a self-respecting sentient being (of which class I almost belong) “I wonder . . . .” And in this case the “I wonder” was followed almost immediately by the thought of “what else this phone can do?” I’ll admit, part of this desire to know more was because I had been watching “Castle” and his phone seemed to be the cleverest thing I had ever seen.

I’m not the sort of person who will sit down and read an instruction manual, unless there is no other option available. I don’t ponder the rights and wrongs of something, I seldom look too far ahead regarding the possible consequences of my actions and I’ve always considered myself a pretty lucky person so, what was the worst that could happen? And yes, that is another one of those horrendous phrases that should instantly put you on Defcon 2 – Red Alert.

With a cheerful overabundance of confidence I picked up the phone and started speaking to it. I known that I could do this for a while but it was something that I hadn’t considered actually doing. After all, I don’t feel comfortable having a conversation on my mobile with someone while out and about – who wants people around you to hear half of what is going on? So actually having a conversation with the phone rather than on it has got to be even worse.

“Okay Google”, I said. “Tell me what you can do!”

Yeah, you can see where this is going, can’t you. It’s true, I was about to be outwitted by my phone. The brand name “Android” should have given me a bit of a clue about this but I have never claimed to be the most intuitive person on the planet.

Anyway, the phone started talking back to me and then gave me a list of all the possible commands (Hah! Commands? More like possible suggestions that it may or may not follow depending on how it felt at the time!), commands that I could give it. Some of these looked pretty good, I could use my phone to keep me up to date with all sorts of things that were going on in the world, make me feel knowledgeable about the topics of the day. Some of them were things that while not world shaking tasks would be handy for me, keeping and giving little reminders to myself about things I was meant to be doing. Okay, usually the reminder would come up just after I was meant to do that chore, but it was the thought that counted.

Then the phone asked me, very politely, if I wanted notification of events happening around me. “Why not?” I thought to myself and pressed the button that set all this in motion. It should have been a Big Red Button. It should have had a sign beside it telling me to break glass in case of emergency. It should have told me to go get an adult before doing something as reckless as this. But it didn’t, it didn’t say any of these things, it just smirked and went silent.

At this point I was quite please with myself. I had climbed out of what was the modern stone age and moved forward into the new and exciting civilisation that was awaiting me. Little did I know what horrors were now lying in wait for me. Horrors that were biding their time, horrors that were lulling me into that famous false sense of security. Horrors that knew they had me just where they wanted me.

Next day I went to see a film and just after I left the cinema I got a message alert on the phone. Just assuming it was a text or Whatsapp or something equally innocuous I opened it up, while still on the escalator going down from the fifth floor and read it.

“It will take you 59 minutes to walk home,” the message told me. The message that my phone had sent me. The message that did not come from any outside source. The message that the phone itself thought that I might want to hear.

My first thought was that I didn’t bloody well want to walk home. It was raining. Why on Earth would I want to do a thing like that? Then the realisation struck me that I didn’t tell my phone where I lived or where I might be at this time. I might want to go to the pub, or go shopping, or go to the pub. Yes, I mentioned pub twice but it’s twice as likely that I would do that rather than go shopping. Why would the phone make assumptions about what I wanted to do or where I was going next.

And next, how did it know where I lived? I didn’t tell it this, did it just guess or had it been watching me and taking notes while I wasn’t paying attention? Then I had to ask myself how it knew which route I wanted to take, even if I was going to walk home, which I most definitely wasn’t. But a worse thought was to come. How did it know how quickly I walked? Had it been measuring my strides or was it controlling the pace I moved at? Both were scary options and I didn’t really want to considered either too closely.

Putting this strange occurrence out of my mind, or at least as much as I could, I went home. Not by walking I hasten to add. I was just a couple of hundred yards from my flat when I got another message from the phone.

“There is a KFC nearby, you have been there before. Would you like to go again?”

With a small, girly scream of panic I switched off the phone, hurried home, threw the demonic creation into a drawer and barricaded myself into the bathroom. This may be the hysteria talking but I’m certain that even from that distance away I could hear Google chuckling to itself and muttering about everything down here floating.

Since this time I haven’t been able to turn on the phone without there being someone else in the room and I’ve been checking the phone book to see if there are any Sarah Connors living in the area.

I cannot say how bad I feel about this. When Skynet takes over everything and flesh clad machine start hunting us down for both sport and pleasure, feel free to blame me. You won’t be able to make me feel any worse than I do already. Just remember that the last thing the Terminator will hear me scream out is as it tells me that I’m going to die even if I do go with it is . .

 

“I didn’t know, how could I possibly know?”

 

My bad world, my bad.

Curse you Hollywood!

25 Oct

I’ve learned a lot from Hollywood during my short but eventful time on this planet.

 

I’ve learned that most people can be knocked out with one punch. I’ve learned that henchmen are terrible shots. I’ve learned that most comedy actors have a very limited lifespan before they’re just not funny anymore. I’ve learned that we should all bow down and worship John Malkovitch. I’ve learned that Morgan Freeman is everywhere – there can’t be only one of him. And I’ve learned that all romances always work out in the end, no matter what whacky high-jinx may befall,

 

And I’ve also learned the correct way to shave.

 

You see, when I get the foam off my face after shaving I use a face-cloth full of water and splash and rinse the foam off, and there have been times when I’ve been a bit too enthusiastic about this. Said enthusiasm can result in a soaked neck, chest and at times even feet. This is never a good way to start the day.

 

In films, however (or moovees to my barbaric friends across the water) when you see someone shaving, they simply pat their face with a small, dry towel and all the foam miraculously disappears, including the bits that always end up behind your ears despite the fact you know you never put foam anywhere near that high.  This has always struck me as being a much less messy and more efficient way of doing things, so, knowing that Hollywood wouldn’t lie to me and being the naïve and impressionable sort of person that I am, this morning I decided I would try it out.

 Image

After shaving I dabbed at my face with a towel and while it may have taken a bit longer than expected to clear the foam, especially those bits behind the ears, I was pleasantly surprised by the results.  First, my feet were still dry and second there was a pleasant faint smell left behind by the foam.  ‘Ahah’, I thought to myself. ‘Once more Hollywood has proven its worth!’

 

So, with this happy thought ringing in my head I finished my morning ablutions and went into town to go about my normal day to day tasks. And within about forty-five minutes my cheeks were bright red and I had to stuff my hands into my pockets to stop myself from tearing the skin off my face to stop the itching.

 

Damn you Hollywood, you lied to me once more. When will I learn? Wet feet would be far preferably to the itching rash I now have all across my face. Hell, no feet would be preferable to this. Okay, that may be an exaggeration but you get where I’m coming from.

 

I used to have a Love / Hate relationship with Hollywood, but it’s gone far beyond that now. Hollywood, you and me, outside now! One at a time or all together, I don’t care! I will have my vengeance!

 

And could someone please pass the Calamine Lotion,

Aww, they’re just like people . . . .

27 Jun

For most of my life I haven’t considered myself to be an animal sort of person. Yes, when I was younger I had pets and yes, I’ve done a bit of horse-riding and things like that, but for the last 15 to 20 years, pets have been something that other people have had and generally they’ve been an annoyance.

They are smelly, they are demanding, normally they are hairy, they restrict what you can and can’t do, they cost money in so many different ways and, well, when you get right down to, what are they good for? They produce nothing of value, they pay no rent, they don’t even make you a cup of coffee in the mornings. Hell, given half a chance they’ll knock over your coffee and then steal your chair while you’re cleaning it up.

But, things have changed. Sort of.

I now live in a house surrounded by animals. There is one dog – Biscuit. We have two cats – Tetley and Kenco. And then there is the bearded dragon – Porkie. There is probably a spider or two kicking around as well and the occasional moth, but for the purposes of this conversation we won’t consider them as pets and class them as uninvited guests instead. Although don’t tell Bekae that – she has a thing about moths. She seems to believe that moths were created with the one simple purpose of trying to kill her. I’ve tried to explain that the odds are on her side in any fair fight that she may have with a moth, but she doesn’t listen. Anyway, that’s not the point.

The point is that there are a lot of animals in the house. Something that I would have run screaming from in the past, but now, for the majority of the time, I accept it and even like it. However, this is not the time to talk about the good points of the animals, this is the time to talk about how much they drive me absolutely insane and in so many different ways.

Let’s start with the dog shall we. Man’s best friend they say. Hmm, I have my doubts about that one. For one thing, the dog has a habit of following me into the bathroom when I’m shaving and then, just when I’m concentrating the most on not slicing assorted parts of my face off, she either barks or bangs into my leg. Roy screams, blood flows and the dog looks up at me with a big grin as though she doesn’t understand why I don’t appreciate the joke.

Then there’s the times when I’m sitting at this PC either writing, playing a game, watching a film, something that is taking up a lot of my attention. The dog will sidle up to me and sit beside me, dropping her had onto my lap. “What’s wrong that that?” I hear you ask, well, not really, but I can imagine that you’re saying that. And the answer is nothing, nothing wrong with that at all. But, that’s not where it ends, oh no. So, the dog is there with her head on my lap and I will, for the first couple of minutes, reach down to pet her and give her some attention. Admittedly, this does sometimes mean that I poke her in the eye with my finger or stick a thumb into her nose because I’m not looking at her, but the way I figure it is that this is her fault.

But, I tend to let my attention drift back to the computer screen pretty quickly and forgot that she’s there. This does not go down well with the dog. I should know better than this, I should know that she is the centre of the universe and when she wants attention she wants my undivided attention and she wants it now. Her next stage in this campaign, if I stop petting her, is to wait until I forget about her and, normally just as I’ve picked up a mug of coffee, the hotter the better, she barks.

As barks go, the dog has quite a quiet, almost camp bark. However, when you’re not expecting it and it comes from right beside you, it does nothing for your inner karma, your peace of mind or any clothing you may be wearing that isn’t coffee coloured. And again, the dog seems to derive huge amounts of pleasure from my screams of pain and anger and fear.

But let’s not forget about the cats. Cute, furry, placid little things that they are. At least, that’s the way they are for the majority of the time. When the mood takes them they seem to forget that I’m not actually some kind of mouse or other small furry rodent for them to stalk, attack and torture. I can be sitting there, minding my own business, nose in a Kindle, watching TV, doing whatever it is that my rock and roll lifestyle demands when suddenly, from out of the blue, a cat is clinging to my ankle and making a serious effort to eat my shoe.

Both cats have decided that the most fun they can have is playing with my shoe laces, normally while I’m trying to tie said shoes. They do this first thing in the morning, their way of wishing me the joy of the day I guess, but they will also do it ninja-style when I’m not paying attention. First thing I know about it is when I get up, stand on one lot of laces, try to step forward and end up flat on my face. Up to this point I haven’t landed on a cat during the fall, but I am determined that it’s going to happen.

Now, I spend a lot of time writing one thing or another. And this means that the keys on the keyboard making that little clicking sound a lot. And the cats have a certain fascination with this sound. Not the kind of fascination that involves them sitting there listening to it calmly and intently. Oh no, this is the sort of fascination that involves them creeping across the room, sneaking up on me, hiding behind the monitor and then leaping out to attack my fingers – the things that are obviously the source of this strange and threatening noise.

This does nothing for my typing skills and it manages to seriously confuse the spell-checker as well.

Of course, this winds the dog up and she starts barking at the cats who react by digging their claws into me. Yes, I know that this hardly seems fair and I have tried, at length, to explain to the animals that I’m am the innocent victim in all of this but they seem unable to follow my logic in this matter.

And we can’t forget the bearded dragon. It sits in a tank by my desk, basking under the sun lamp and eating crickets. How can a creature like that possibly cause you any harm. Simple. IT STARES! I don’t mean it looks at me, I mean it sits there for hours at a time, not moving, not blinking, simply staring through the glass at me and no doubt plotting my horrible demise. Sometimes, I can ignore this, forgetting that the creature is there. But there are other times when I catch it out of the corner of my eye and then our eyes lock. My amiable, warm, friendly blue eyes staring into its cold, orange, maniacal eyes. When I was a kid I used to have staring competitions with my goldfish, this was before I learned that fish don’t blink. Don’t laugh, I didn’t know! And I thought I had a decent stare, but this damn dragon is the champ. The more it stares at me the harder it is for me to think for myself. I’m being mesmerized, the Hypno-Toad has had its day – Porkie the Lizard is the new champion hypnotist on the block.

I can’t turn away, if I break the gaze first something horrible will happen, I know it. The dragon is waiting for me to look away, it’s daring me to ignore it. It wants me to feel secure because there is a thin pane of glass between us but I know better. If I turn away from this evil creature, just for a moment, all will be lost.

And then the dog barks, one cat attacks my shoes and the other goes for my fingers. As I scream I can hear the faint ghost of a chuckle coming from the lizard which is no doubt the mastermind behind this conspiracy against me. It relishes my anguish, my pain is like the finest wine to it. It is evil, pure and simple. I’ve got nothing against evil, evil is good in it’s place. But not when all the evil is being directed against me!

So, yeah. Aww, they’re just like people really . . . . yes, yes they are, People that should be locked up in padded cells and on a strict regime of medical tranquilisers. The sort of people who have reports written up about them in the papers, the ones where their neighbours say “she was such a quiet person, kept herself to herself, who would have though that she even had that many knives!”

Damn animals!

But no, I wouldn’t swap them for the world.

TRUTH IS BEAUTY. Yeah, right!

10 Feb

SPOILER ALERT – May Get Philosophical. Possibly. Or it may not, who can tell what’s going to happen.

So, I was sat in the pub the other day and got into a discussion with a friend of a friend about the nature of truth and whether it was, or was not, the best policy. The discussion grew heated and while we could both see the other person’s point of view we were still adamant that we had the right of it. Voices were raised, knuckles whitened and the next thing you know tables are being knocked over, glasses are shattering and the fists start to fly. I have no idea who through the first punch, but I do know that it wasn’t me that slugged the bouncer who rushed over to break things up.

It was like something out of an old western as everyone else in the pub got involved. Whether it was just them struggling to get out of the way or fighting back when their pint was spilled, I don’t know. But the table next to ours was knocked over and the two couple sitting at it started screaming and yelling. More bouncers came in, someone grabbed me by the arms and the last thing that I remember is yelling at this guy I was arguing with.

“There is no truth, there is only opinion!”

Okay, I admit it, none of that really happened. What did happen is that I got into a very brief discussion on Facebook after a posting by a friend about whether it was better to be brutally honest or not. But, you have to admit that the first version of the story is much more interesting, so would it have been better for me to be brutally honest right at the start or did I do the right thing by getting you interested and then moving onto my point?

I firmly believe that Truth is a completely subjective thing. What I believe to be true may be something very different from what you believe to be true. The obvious example of this that springs to mind is religion. Some people know that God, or Gods, exist while other people know that there is no God. Both groups know this to be the absolute truth. Another less blatant example is that I know that I looked good in my old purple shirt but the rest of the world disagreed. What was the truth behind that one?

Another aspect of being honest, as you see it, is why are you doing it? Part of the Facebook discussion was the difference between what you want to hear and what you need to hear. If I was to ask how I looked in that purple shirt (yeah, I really liked that shirt, deal with it!) it wouldn’t have made any difference to whether I wore it or not. But if I was told, “No, you look ridiculous,” then I would have got annoyed with the person telling me and that would have put me in a bad mood for the rest of the day. They were just being honest as they saw it, telling me something that they thought I needed to hear, but it wouldn’t have stopped me from wearing it and would have ended up with both of us in a bad mood. So, did I really need to hear that?

Or should they have avoided being honest and gone for the silent approach?

Yes, there are times when you have to be honest and say things which are going to be hard for the other person to take, but you need to take into account that “The Truth” is just your opinion of the situation.

“What do you think of my new boyfriend?” she asks.

There are a few possible answers that flash through my head at that point. The first being “The guy is a prat, what do you see in him?” Next is “Does his mum know that he’s out this late – I mean, he is a bit young for you.” Then comes “I was told he looks a lot like me, don’t see it myself though.”

All of those would have been honest replies but none of them would have done anything useful or productive. So I keep quiet and mutter something along the lines of “as long as he makes you happy.”

Should I have been brutally honest in that situation? Or would my honesty only reflect the fact that I don’t like the new boyfriend for personal reasons that should have no affect what-so-ever on their relationship?

The point being that honesty is just your opinion on a matter. And brutal honesty is your just opinion put over in a rude manner. Of course, that’s just my opinion on the matter. I’m not for one second suggesting that people shouldn’t have opinions or should be afraid to air them, but you should be aware that you could be completely wrong about what you are about to say. And, whether you are right or not, is the honesty worth the consequences that it is likely to cause?

Another thing to consider is the old saying – “Honesty is the best policy?” Really? So how does that CV look when you don’t embellish it in any way? And sticking with the job theme, when was the last time you called in sick saying “I just can’t be bothered getting out of bed today?”

Everyone lies. And everyone wants to be lied to. We all have our self-deceptions that we don’t want to lose. Lies make the world go round. Fiction of any kind – lies. This means books, films, TV. We know that it’s lies and we love it because of that. Even TV that is touted as reality comes with that little disclaimer that states that some scenes have been created for entertainment value. Another way of saying that they’re lying to make it better.

Everyone lies and the world is a better place for it. Don’t believe me? Try being brutally honest for a week and see how many friends you have left at the end of it? I’m certain that you have a couple of people in your life who would appreciate the honesty, up to a point. But the majority of people you have any kind of communication with will see you as being nothing more than rude and opinionated.

Trust me about this, I’m only being honest.