Saturday, 31 December 2011

2011: My Year in Review

It's been a funny old year this year......hang on, that is such a cliche - do I really mean that? That saying implies that the past twelve months have been weird, strange, or a bit odd - and I can assure you, that the past year has been none of those things. So let me start again:

It's been a perfectly normal mixture of ups and downs, good times and bad times, tears and laughter this year - much like the years before it, and the years to come.

The year started badly for me on the 1st January. I had made a monumental error of judgement based purely on emotions, and had driven home whilst under the influence of alcohol. It was another moment to be added to the long list I already have titled "Not to be Proud of", and I will never be that foolish again.
Shortly after the year began, I was ill for the only time this year (in terms of time off work). For two days I was confined to my bed, my voice stolen from me by my bad throat and cough, mucus pouring from my nostrils like there was no tomorrow, and my bedsheets soaked with my own sweat.

Nice!

Thankfully I recovered and was not ill again. The rest of January passed by without event.

February was a mixed bag somewhat: Valentines day brought mixed emotions - I received a Valentine (hurrah!) But also remembered the love I had thrown away previously (boo!). Later in February, I decided to do something I had always wanted to do, and learn Sign Language. I enrolled on an online course, and my journey into sign language had begun!

March was a great month for me - but less so for you lot. It was in March that someone inspired me to write a blog. Now I knew nothing about blogs, but did know a little about writing, so I decided to give it a go. On March 16th 2011, 'Larry - An Every Day Blog' was born, and straight away - like Frankenstein's Monster - destroyed everything it came into contact with. In choosing the title of the blog, I had unwittingly (or rather witlessly) condemned myself to a daily ritual of writing it. Throughout this year the quality has fluctuated greatly, and I now know that once I have written this blog for a year, it will be come an occasional blog - for my sanity as well as yours. March also saw a failed romantic interlude - a failure which cost me a great friend. That is on the list as well.

There's not much to say about April except I turned 40, and didn't celebrate it in any great style. This continued the standard of celebration for all my milestone birthdays - 18, 21, not 30 though, I had a big party on my 30th. So that was nice. I will endeavour to celebrate my 50th in style (friends take note and remind me). But 40 came with no fuss, no fanfare. I was a little disappointed.

May was fabulous. I went back to Scotland for the first time in about 7 years. I went with my best friend, his two brothers, his Sister and her husband, and my best friends son. Most of these people I hadn't seen in over 6 years so it was lovely to catch up with them. I won't tell you all that went on, but if you want to find out then check out my blogs from May 2011.

The summer months, June, July and August were a bit of a blur. I did have my first barbecue in my garden utilising my fire pit. I had it on the day that David Haye fought Vladimir Klitschko. It was a small gathering, but a quality gathering nonetheless. In August disaster struck my garden. My neighbour has an old Apple tree in his garden and one bough overhung my garden.
This year the crop of apples from this tree was so great that the bough snapped under the weight of the fruit and fell into my garden. In the end my neighbour had to get a specialist in to remove the fallen bough and tidy everything up. It was a terrible shame. On a positive note, I completed my online Sign Language Course, and registered for an evening class starting in September.

September came around all too soon, and I discovered that what I had learnt online wasn't strictly accurate when it came to Sign Language. But I loved my evening class.

October was busy. It was the busy period at work so I was doing longer days, and was more tired. I had started going walking after work but had overdone this to a degree and had nearly crippled my feet. I developed 'Black Nail' on two of my toes, and completely lost the nail on my big toe. It has grown back since, but the toe will never be the same.

November was even worse, work wise. For a 10 day period I was starting at 5am and not finishing until 7pm or later. This was all my own choice, but it was hard work. My blogging took a setback as my laptop broke. I was forced to write my blog using an App on my Android phone. This made blogging much harder to do and it took much longer. And did I get any sympathy from you lot? Not one bit.

Bastards.

December has been a great month. I got to finish work a week before Christmas, which allowed me to go to Essex and catch up with lots of old friends before staying with my sister and her family for Christmas. It really was the best Christmas I've had in a long time.

And that was my year. I've shed many tears this year, and have laughed loud and heartily too. I have caught up with some spectacularly wonderful people and have made new friends too. I have had some troubling times, and still have some ahead - but I look towards the new year with anticipation and excitement, not fear and dread.

And you dear reader who have been foolish enough to read this blog everyday for 75% of this year, may I just say that you have been a huge part of my year too. I am grateful for the time you have sacrificed to read the rubbish I write, and can only say that if I could give you back the time you have lost, I would.

So here is to 2012, and to all of you. May the coming year exceed your hopes and dreams, and bring you nothing but happiness and joy.

See you next year!

Friday, 30 December 2011

Alternative Medicine

Those of you who give a damn will be pleased to know that I am over my cold. I beat it by good old fashioned rest and some non-branded cold and flu lemon drink. What I didn't do was pay any attention to the old adage "Starve a fever, feed a cold" - because, let's face it, in the days when that saying came about medical science was in its infancy, and people were being declared witches if they could spell.

And who knows what other 'household remedies' might have existed at that time? Who is to say that for many centuries, the recommended cure for a temperature was a hard kick in the groin? That may sound ridiculous, but I have it on good authority (namely, I saw this on Q.I. last night) that long ago it was thought that the best way to deal with a snake bite was to suck out the poison using the arse of a pigeon.

It's true!

So why could it not be possible to think that the cure for a headache was to choke the person suffering - or that the quickest way to cure the hiccups was to stab the person hiccuping? It is true that a sudden shock can stop the hiccups, and being stabbed suddenly would be quite shocking.

To be honest, you could make up any old nonsense and pass it off as a medieval remedy:

Starve a fever, feed a cold. Stab a hiccup, throttle a headache. Gouge a nosebleed, Chinese Burn a Verruca. Amputation for Measles, impaling on a spike for piles.

And there are remedies for non-physical ailments too:

If your child wets the bed, drain two pints of blood from it. Suffering from nightmares? Smack yourself in the face twice with a chicken just before bed. Scared of heights? Tear open a sparrow and smear its innards on your head, then stick a feather in each orifice for a week.

That's the good thing about medieval remedies - almost anything was thought to cure almost everything (especially dung) - and if you couldn't be cured, you were burnt at the stake for witchcraft.

Which incidentally, was also a great cure for Exzema.

We have all heard the more "fashionable" old remedies - goose fat on the chest for pneumonia, seaweed on the head for migraine - but what about the others? What about having a weevil bury into your eyeball to cure a cataract? Or slapping your genitals with a Salmon to promote fertility? There are thousands of long forgotten remedies that are waiting to be revived, and if they were good enough for folk back in medieval times, they must be good enough for us?

Yes, the death rate was much much higher then - but I'm sure that is just coincidence.......

Thursday, 29 December 2011

No Man's Land

It might be just me, but the few days between Christmas and New Year seem to be a bit of a 'void'.
The shops are open, but the streets are empty; you don't quite know how to feel - Christmas is over, but its not New Years yet, and everywhere seems subdued.

I know that many people have to work during this time, and I also expect that many people who aren't working wish they were because it would break up the boredom that can be so prevalent at this time.

Some people choose to go away on holiday for these few days, either celebrating New Years while they are away, or coming back just in time to see in the New Year.

Whatever people do, there is a definite weird feeling to the days between Christmas and New Years. It's almost a feeling of limbo, where you just don't know what to do with yourself.

Well, I have always thought there is and I have spent this time with both family and alone over the years.

Maybe its just me. Maybe its just indigestion.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Ill

Nothing much to say today except that the cold I picked up in Essex - and let's face it, if that is all I picked up then I dodged a bullet - is developing nicely so I feel like poo.

Tomorrow I may have to stay in bed all day to hopefully get it out of my system.

bleurgghh....

Larry's Last Day Of Christmas: The Journey Home

All too soon the time had come for me to leave Essex and return home to Dorset. I had had a wonderful time, and was truly sad to leave. However, the fun wasn't over yet.....

The drive from my Sisters house to my house takes no more than 4hrs, which includes a stop at the half way point - Fleet services. It is a very easy, and direct route: A127;M25;M3;A303;Home.

At least it should have been.

For some reason, on this occasion, my Sat Nav decided to take me on a tour of the old North Circular Road. At first I didn't notice - we all trust our Sat Navs, just like we all trust our fridges - they are the only appliance we leave on when we go on holiday. Soon, however, I was becoming concerned as the landscape I was driving through became less familiar. I knew that I should have been on the M25 by now, and had no idea where I actually was. I repeatedly asked my Sat Nav if it knew where it was going, and it assured me it did. I had my doubts.

Eventually I did get back onto the M25 - but not until I had popped over to see the M4 briefly. I don't know why my Sat Nav took me that way - perhaps it thought it knew a short cut. For whatever the reason, I was glad when I eventually reached Fleet services - even though it was HEAVING with travellers.

Not those sort of travellers - there wasn't lucky heather strewn across the car park, and thousands of cross-eyed toddlers with their ears pierced running around saying "Do you like dags?"

But there was lot of people at those services.

I fought my way through the hordes and got myself a Cappuccino and a Muffin. I thought there was a Costa at these services, but could only see a Starbucks. It wasn't the same. It was spelt differently for a start.

One cappuccino and muffin later, I was back on the road and looking forward to a much easier 2nd half of my journey home. However, it wasn't easy.

As worryingly diverse as the first half of my journey had been, the second half would be frustratingly slow. I was beset by delays almost as soon as I rejoined the M3. I am only on the M3 for a few miles before I take the A303, but today those few miles would take an age. I can't even tell you why we were queuing for ages, trickling along at a Snails pace. I passed no obvious scene of an accident, and there were no roadworks.

Eventually, I escaped the M3 and hit the A303. Now I could get moving!

No, I couldn't.

The A303 runs through Salisbury plain, where Stonehenge is. The stretch of road that runs past Stonehenge is notorious for queues and delays because apparently, this pile of ancient stones is so mystical that drivers have to slow down to gawp at it. Yet it is not that mystical to warrant actually visiting the site, paying the entrance fee and actually walking round it.

So a queue of slow driving, Stonehenge gawping idiots hampered my journey home. By the time I got home, I had been in the car for five and a half hours, and had angrily munched my way through one packet of Mr Tickle Jelly Chews, such was my frustration.

However, I had made it home - and the journey could not detract from what had been a wonderful week in Essex.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Now That's What I Call Christmas - Vol. 2011

I've said it before, but I'll say it again: this has been a really really great Christmas.
I have so loved catching up with very special friends. It really has proved that true friendships are not restricted by time or distance.

The time I have spent with my Sister and Brother in Law, my Nephew and my Brother has also been very special. I will be very sad to leave them tomorrow.

But that is tomorrow.

Today has been another great day - inspite of me walking past a Facebook friend I used to go to School with - even though I thought it was her. Sorry Louise!

So, I drive back to Dorset tomorrow to catch up with my friends. I am looking forward to that too.

This has been a truly great Christmas!

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Bursting, Opening, Stuffing, and Roasting

Christmas Day started late in terms of the tradition of opening the presents. Usually my nephew Joseph wakes up at 6am (or earlier) and within an hour has the rest of us up to start the unwrapping process. However, this year turned out to be an exercise in caution for young Master Hopkinson, because we wouldn't all be here until about 11am. My Sister's husband, Russell was going to see his Brother, and I had to go and pick my Brother up from Basildon. Now, to me and you waiting until 11am to open your presents isn't too long - but to an excited Twelve year old, it is absolute torture. By the time Russell and I had both returned from our trips, Joseph was like a coiled spring. He couldn't sit still, and was pacing up and down constantly. When we were finally ready, Joseph nearly burst with excitement.

I was really lucky this year with the presents I got. For starters, I was wearing the first Christmas present I got this year - a pair of MC Hammer boxer shorts. They were a gift from a friend a few days ago. Well, the quality of gifts received continued today; I got some Blu-ray DVDs, a beautiful framed collage of photos of my Brother, Sister and I when we were children, a sign language book, a set of mugs, and some Bathroom scales (to help me manage my weight). Not a bad haul, I think you'll agree!

There's not much I can say about the Christmas dinner we had except.......IT. WAS. FAB. I ate loads, and then continued to eat loads throughout the day.

And now, I'm sat in my Sister's lounge with the film "Armageddon" on TV. And right now, I am boiling. The heating is off, but I am really hot. I don't know if it is all the food I've eaten (I don't know why it would be, but you never know), or the fact that there have been five people in one room for a long time.

Inspite of the heat, I am in a really good mood. I have had a wonderful day - the best Christmas I've had for the past few years.

I hope you have had a great day too.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

From Me To You

I don't know about all of you lot, but for me, Christmas is a time of varying emotions.
Firstly there is the joy and happiness I feel from being around my family and friends. This year more than ever before has this been true as I have been lucky enough to catch up with some very special people that I hadn't seen for a long time. Jackie, Aaron, Sarah, Alicia, the gang from Phoenix Futures, Tony, Lee, Paul, Em, and Elvis - you all made my heart soar when I saw you again. Tomorrow, I will have my Brother, my Sister and Brother in-law, and my Nephew around me - which will be beautiful.
Friends and family like mine, are all the presents I will ever need.

I still want presents tomorrow though, okay Santa?

Along with the happiness, there will also be some sadness when I think about the friends that I will not get to see purely because it didn't work out that way. And I will also be sad for the people that have passed on, because as humans we never stop missing them. The sadness is for their absence from our tables, and from sharing the joy that this time of year brings. We will raise a glass and remember them with love.

And for me, still, there will be some regret. Regret at the mistakes I have made, and the people that those mistakes have taken from me. Regret is a wasted emotion, because you cannot change what has been. Nonetheless, I still have regrets.

Fortunately, I also have love - heaps of love. Love for my family and my friends. If you are reading this, then it is likely that you fall into one of those two categories. If by some strange chance you are reading this and are neither a family member or a friend then........what the heck - you can have some love as well. It costs me nothing to give it, and if the thought of some tall, handsome, charming, funny guy ( just in case you are female, attractive, and single) sending you his love puts even the slightest smile on your face, then I give it freely.

There is also hope. Hope that I may, in some way, carry the feeling of love and goodwill with me each and everyday in the coming year. I use the word hope because I know it is a difficult thing to promise. We all get caught up in the everyday struggles of life, and it is much easier to walk away than stop and help; it is easier to think the worst based on face value rather than find out what is really underneath. It's fairly safe to say that I have a reputation for being a joker, always being silly and funny etc. Well let me tell you, it isn't easy, but I'll let you into a little secret: it feels great.
Admittedly you have to be open to the concept of getting pleasure from making others laugh, and that isn't something you can force, you have to work on it - but if you start small, like holding a door open for someone, then you can work your way upwards.

Now, I am not trying to sell myself as some sort of angel. I am selfish, rude, unfeeling, critical, sarcastic, cruel, and horrible at times - I know, It's hard to believe how someone this attractive could ever be so flawed. Well I am, I've more flaws than the blueprints of a block of flats drawn up by an Architect who couldn't spell.
But I believe that you have to fight the doom and gloom of existence anyway you can. For me, that means silly, childish, sometimes inspired humour. That is how I get through each day - well, that and chocolate.

So I urge you all to keep the feeling of good that you will get in your hearts this Christmas and pass it on to others - it doesn't matter how you do it, a kind act or just a smile may be enough. What matters is, that you do it. Yes, you may get looked at funny, yes some people might think you are weird. That comes with the task, and is in direct ratio to the bizarreness of the thing you are doing. Remember, not everyone will think that poking four cucumbers through the vicar's letterbox and shouting "the aliens have landed!" will put a smile on his face.

Someone much wiser than me said, "That Larry Lagrue? Thick as pigshit."

However, someone much nicer and wiser than me said that no matter what we believe in, or the colour of our skin, we all bleed the same red blood.
Well, we also all smile the same way, and a smile is universal - it knows no boundaries. So spread the mirth as much as possible I say, just to see what happens. A few days ago I held a door open for a few
people of (I think) middle eastern origin, and was ignored. In fact, they deliberately chose a different door. Will that experience make me think twice about holding a door open for someone else of that or similar origin?

Never.

People are like fingerprints - no two are exactly the same. So bear that in mind, and keep the mirth going.

Merry Christmas, and much love xxx

Friday, 23 December 2011

Larry's Fourth Day of Christmas: We Like Harry - He's A Hippo

To put it plainly; four days in, four wonderful reunions with fabulous people. Today was the fourth and last of my planned reunions - but what a way to finish off!

I was going to visit my good friend Paul and his spectacularly fabulous wife Em. I've known Paul since 1982 at least, and met him again when I started playing football about 9 years ago. We had lost touch for a while when he did the whole University thing, and I did the whole festering in a job that was going nowhere thing. By the time we got back in touch, Paul had met Em, so I have known Em for much less time than I have known Paul.

That's just how unlucky I am I guess.

It has been six years almost since I left Essex to follow my heart to Dorset and - because I am a rubbish friend - consequently, I haven't seen Paul and Em in that time.

But today I was off to see them, and some new folk that had come along while I was away. I was going early in the morning because I knew that Paul and Em had plans for late morning, so like a pair of translucent soiled underpants in front of a bright light, I didn't want to hold them up.

I got to their house, and was greeted by an old friend licking my face. No, it wasn't Em or Paul (though I live in hope) - it was their dog, Elvis. Elvis is a cross between......erm..........is a cross between a very intelligent dog, and a very handsome dog (I forget which exact make of dog he is) and he was as pleased to see me as I was him. Although I didn't lick his face.

Or anywhere else.

Of course, just behind Elvis was the lovely Em who invited me in and offered me a seat. We had a wee natter while we waited for Paul to come down. Except that it wasn't just Paul that walked down the stairs......
Apparently, my leaving Essex created such a void in their lives, that Paul and Em decided to compensate for this by having two children. They had two boys - Thomas (Tommy) who is four, and Samuel (Sam) who is three. These two gorgeous little monsters walked up to me as bold as brass and shook my hands as if they had known me all their lives.

Now, one of the great ironies of my life is the fact that although my ability to attract a member of the opposite sex, is as successful as my ability to retain a full head of hair - and subsequently my chances of having children are about as slim as the chances of me being voted miss universe next year - I am quite good at amusing young children. Having a very silly sense of humour helps I am sure. Whatever the reason, me and Tommy and Sam hit it off straight away.

Paul and Em were going to take the boys to the Zoo, and they very kindly asked if I wanted to come along. Having not been to a Zoo in many a long year I accepted, and pretty soon we were on our way. We arrived at Colchester Zoo soon after and spent the rest of the afternoon looking round.

I was touched to discover that Sam and Tommy both felt comfortable enough with me to walk with me round the Zoo holding my hand. Not both at the same time - at different times.
We saw the Chimps in the Chimp House (doing something very disgusting), and we saw snakes and Crocodiles, and a Leopard, and Piranhas, and a "Jungle Bells" party that was rubbish, and a Pantomime with a surprisingly attractive Little Miss Muffett in it, and lots of other things. We didn't get to see the Hippos though, which was a shame because Sam kept calling me Harry, and said that I looked like a Hippo. We did however get to meet Father Christmas in his Grotto, and Tommy and Sam both got Christmas presents early - although Sam managed to get his hands on Santa's mobile phone, which he obviously knew would have a higher street value.
When we came out of the Pantomime it was raining heavily, and we all got soaked. We squelched back to the car and drove home.

Unfortunately, I had to go back to my Sister's house as soon as we got back to Paul and Em's home - so it was literally get out of one car and into another.
There was time for a hug and a kiss goodbye from Tommy and Sam - and a bottle of Bell's Whiskey from Paul and Em. I took the Whisky with me - I didn't drink it there and then.

It was a really lovely day. I so enjoyed catching up with Paul and Em, it was fab to see Elvis again, and Tommy and Sam were just a joy to behold. I will definitely be seeing these lovely lovely people more often.  :-)

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Larry's Third Day of Christmas: Chips, Cards, Chopped Down In His Prime....and Certainly The Best Catch Up Yet!

Ok, I must be brief as it is 2:05am.

CHIPS - Took a walk this morning with my Nephew along the Seafront, which is about a mile from his house. By the time we reached the Seafront, he was complaining about his legs aching and being hungry. We stopped at a cafe, but the only food that my Nephew wanted was the one thing not available - Chips. So instead of seeing the bigger picture and getting something else to eat there and then, my Nephew decided that he would rather walk a further quarter of a mile (with his aching legs) to the next food place and get chips there. Luckily for him, they did.

CARDS - On our way back from the Seafront, we bought a pack of playing cards with the intention of making a house of cards. As it turned out, my Nephew decided that he wanted to learn some card tricks instead - so I spent all afternoon being suitably amazed and ignoring the fact that I could see my nephew holding two cards etc....

CUT DOWN IN HIS PRIME - Now, anyone who knows anything about football will admit that Robin Van Persie is in incredible form for Arsenal at the moment, having scored something like 31 goals in 36 games for the Gunners. So it can be of no surprise that I chose to play as Arsenal when my Nephew challenged me to a football match on the Wii video games console. I was Arsenal, and my Nephew had a team made up of the Mii characters you can create for yourself and friends/family. Although looking 'cartoony' and amusing, these Mii players were vicious. In one game they targeted poor Robin Van Persie, and he ended up being stretchered off for treatment three times in one game. He would get fouled, be stretchered off to receive treatment, come back on, and then get promptly hacked down again. I suppose I could have substituted him - but my Nephew found the repeated scything down of RVP so funny, that I didn't want to spoil his fun.

CERTAINLY THE BEST CATCH UP YET - I drove to the outskirts of London to meet up with someone very special. This is a person who was a massive part of my life way back when I was young and naive (younger and naive), and we haven't seen each other for 14 years. I won't go into detail, but we spent 6 hours catching up, reminiscing, bringing each other up to speed on what had been happening with our lives, and of course laughing. We had quite a long chat about relationships and being both wise and beautiful, my friend's viewpoint on certain aspects struck a chord with me. The whole evening was just wonderful, and it was the measure of our friendship that it soon became just like old times.

I will make sure that it will not be 14 years before I see her again!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Larry's Second Day of Christmas - They Took Away My Starbucks

Day two of my Christmas holiday to Essex started relatively early - 8am. That is early when you consider that I didn't go to bed until 1am this morning.

I was up because I had to get the 9:15am train into London as I was visiting my old work place - the place I left almost 6 years ago when love took me to Dorset.
The journey into London was a Somewhat nostalgic one for me. I had forgotten what it was like to travel on those trains and although they were comparatively empty, memories of having to stand in crowded carriages, or sit for ages on a train in the middle of nowhere (so it seemed) because of some delay or another came flooding back.
As soon as I got off the train at London Fenchurch Street, I remembered why I am glad I live and work in Dorset.

A wave of noise hit me as I left the station; traffic and thousands of people rushing through the streets - each one far more important that any of the others. And the number of people using their mobile phones whilst rushing around! If they weren't having very loud conversations, they were texting or emailing something very important - and all the time not looking where they were going.
It's a good two miles from Fenchurch Street Station to my old workplace, and I had forgotten how long the walk was. And to make matters worse, the Starbucks coffee shop that was kind of halfway between the two - and would be frequented by me every pay day - had been replaced by another wine bar. Like there aren't enough of those already in London?!

Fortunately, my dampened mood was soon to be hung out in the summer sun, then ironed, folded, and placed back in my soul all cheery and lovely, as I reached my destination: Phoenix Futures, Asra House, 1 Long Lane, London SE1 4PG.

Although not all the people that I knew when I worked there were still there, a select few were still there. It was amazing to see them again, and I was very touched to find how pleased they all were to see me. I was given a tour of the office - which looks nothing like how it used to - and met up with old friends and was introduced to some of the current staff. It soon became apparent that I am something of a legend still in that company.

To be honest, I'm not surprised - I am fab after all.

Talking of fab, I had picked the best day to visit apparently. Today was "Bring your kids to work" day, AND they had arranged for a special visit from Father Christmas himself to hand out presents to the children and to the grown ups.

Well wrap me in tinsle and tie a bow round me - when it came to giving out the presents for the grown ups, my name was called out first! Remember that I haven't worked there for 6 years! I was genuinely touched by this lovely gesture. My present from Santa was a joke a day notepad - a perfect gift for me!

After all the presents had been given out (some children got some cool LEGO sets), there was a small buffet of party food to enjoy. I sat with a small plate of sausage roll, mini pork pie, pringles, ham sandwich and cheese (not that small a plate) and chatted with some very good friends.

All too soon I had to go. I said my goodbyes with a heavy heart - because I don't know when I will see these people again. They were a massive part of my life for a long time, and I know I will never forget them.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Larry's First Day of Christmas

Today saw the official start of my Christmas Holiday - in terms of me.enjoying myself. And what a way to start!

My day started with my drive from Dorset to Essex. I set off at just after 9am with my chosen "Road Trip" music on standby. This time it would be the Haynes Dad's Guide To Rock - a 3 CD compilation including the hits of such rock legends as Journey, Toto, REO Speedwagon, Europe, and Alice Cooper. I didn't treat myself to this audio feast until I hit the A303, when I knew I would have relatively straight roads and could enjoy both the driving and the music.

I made good time - I have discovered that I can get 90mph out of my little car - although at that speed, the whole car was rattling so much I was finding it difficult to see. Still I was genuinely surprised when I reached the halfway point of my journey - Fleet Services. It didn't feel like I had been driving for that long.

One 90% foam Cappuccino (Costa is SO much better) and a skinny Blueberry muffin later, I was back on the road.

Side note: as I walked out of the building at the Services to the car park, I held the door open for three foreign gentlemen who were approaching. I cannot be certain of their heritage, but wherever they were from, ignorance is rife. They saw me holding the door open for them, and blatantly ignored me, opening a door to my left for themselves. Unfortunately, people like that do nothing to help change the perception of many people in this country towards those of different ethnic origins. I wasn't expecting these men to come through the door just because I was holding it open, but a small amount of acknowledgment - even if followed with a no thankyou - wouldn't have hurt.
Anyway, I was soon back on my way and 90 minutes later I reached my first destination.

To my eternal shame, I have not visited the cemetery where my parents are buried, since I moved to Dorset. Today I stopped off, and said hello again. I was worried that I wouldn't remember where they are buried - but as soon as I got there I knew. It's been 24 years since my mum died, and 12 years since dad passed away. The headstone is faded in parts (the lettering for my mum is coming off - or at least the dark bits of it are), and as I read the inscriptions for both mum and dad the realisation that I still need their guidance washed over me. I asked them to watch over those people that are dear to me - both in my life now, and those who have been a part of my life in recent years. I also.asked them to help me make the right decisions - or at least steady me when I make the wrong ones. As always, I told them that I loved them and missed them, and that I always will.

I stayed a little while and then headed on to my sisters. On the way, I saw a strange warning sign. It was a traffic sign - one of those triangular ones, but it was strange because of what it said. It simply said "WILD ANIMALS!".
Now I've seen traffic warning signs about animals before, but they are generally quite specific. They either have a picture of an animal (airated stag is common in Dorset) or they might actually name the animal e.g. 'Horses'. However, just having "Wild Animals!" is both rather vague and worrying. What was I to expect? A Bengal Tiger to leap out onto the bonnet - or a Killer Whale to breach over the barrier right in front of me? They definitely need to clarify what they mean on that sign!

Nonetheless, I made it to my sisters - but I wasn't there long. I had made plans to catch up with some very important and dear old friends. In fact a whole family of wonderful people. It was an old flame of mine and her three children. I hadn't seen them for 12 years near enough, and they had all grown up so much. The youngest daughter had a child of her own, and both girls (the daughters) were in relationships. The son, was also doing well - working for the local council, and moonlighting as a magician. He showed me a few tricks, and they were amazing. I had no idea how he did them.
I had a truly wonderful night with these people - and even had a snog with my old flame when I said goodbye. Circumstance took our lives on seperate paths, but there is still a lot of love there. And I have a lot of love for her children too. It was so lovely to see them all again, they will always have a special place in my heart.

And now I am back at my sisters house, writing this blog. It is 12:52am and I should be in bed. Tomorrow I go up to London to catch up with my old work mates. I'm fairly sure I won't get a snog there - but you live in hope.

This is already a wonderful Christmas.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Distance = Time / Mood,.....and Another Good Day

Have you ever noticed how the distance you have travelled varies depending on how you are feeling?
For example: I went to Yeovil yesterday (a journey of some 20 miles) to go shopping. I'm my mind, I was 'nipping' to Yeovil as it is relatively close. However, when I got back from shopping and discovered that I would have to go back to Yeovil, in my mind the journey was a much longer one. Instead of 'nipping' back, I would be going 'all the way back'.
But this change in attitude to the distance can happen anywhere. You might happily 'pop' upstairs for something for someone, but if you bring the wrong item down, you are reluctant to have to go all that way back upstairs.

When its easy, distance is no issue. When it is difficult, or inconvenient, the journey is a long and arduous one.....and don't we love complaining about it?

My Christmas holiday has started off fabulously. I received my first two presents today: The first came in two parts - one practical, one novelty but practical also. It was very fabulous. The second was definitely practical, but also useful and much appreciated.

As I type this blog I should be asleep as I have the long trip to Essex tomorrow. I have arranged to meet up with lots of friends this week, and am looking forward to it immensely.

No doubt, details of these reunions will appear on my blog......

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Not Getting What I Paid For, and Getting Something I Didn't

It is true what they say: You can't get the staff.

This morning I went to Yeovil to buy the final few Christmas presents on my list. Not MY list - if I have my own Christmas list then something has gone very wrong.
One of the presents was a video game, and I made it my mission to get this present first. Being fabulous, this was achieved easily. Feeling smug, I carried on and finished the rest of my shopping, and went home. The whole shopping trip was completed in two hours.

I always go to Yeovil early in the day. I do this for a number of reasons: the availability of car parking spaces, the reduced number of other shoppers getting in the way, and the ability to do something else with my day other than shop.

So you can imagine how pleased I was when I got home and discovered that the stupid girl in the shop had given me an empty display case rather than the game I paid for.

No, I was much less pleased than that.

My second trip to Yeovil was much less fun. The world and his wife, his wife's sister, her four kids, and their annoyingly yappy dog were out in force. I couldn't find a car parking space for ages, and when I did find one the car next to me was obviously parked by a driver with a Passion for parking at odd angles.

I went back to the shop, and well stuff my turkey if they didn't remember me. Apparently, they laughed quite a lot when they realised their innocent mistake. Just like I would laugh as I punched them repeatedly in the face. Luckily (for them) I kept my temper, and got the game. After a short wait in the car park while a 4X4 driver struggled to drive into a car parking space, I escaped the madness and drove home.

However, my luck was not about to change.

I popped to my local Co-op to get.some bits, and when I went to pay, the cashier very helpfully packed the carrier bag for me.
When I got home, however, I found that the cashier had also packed and old, dirty, snot filled handkerchief in my carrier bag.
I have no idea if it was the cashiers handkerchief, or if it belonged to an elderly confused shopper who had taken it to the till to pay for it, only to be told that it was a handkerchief - and then left it in the carrier bag and walked out.

Whoever it belonged to, I didn't want it, so it went in the bin.

Gross!

It's Not Over Til It's Over

Again, I must apologise; this is the blog I should have written yesterday but I didn't get round to it. This is becoming a bit of a habit, and if it continues I may have rename my blog 'Larry - Yesterday's Blog'.

But never mind that. Yesterday was another good day. I had arranged to meet up with my mate Steve in the pub at 9pm for a quick beer, so naturally we ended up staying in the pub til closing time. It was a very good night however, because I saw a woman I know from the local beauty treatment shop (and yes that is all I am saying) in the pub with her friend, and we all sat and chatted together.

But more importantly, this woman from the beauty shop just happens to be best friends with a woman I met a couple of months earlier when out with my friends Jay and Ali. At the time me and this woman hit it off quite well, and I gave her an open invitation to go see a movie some time, but I never heard anything more (I get that a lot). It appears that Holly (the beauty shop woman) was talking to her best friend and her friend mentioned me, but they never got to finish their conversation. So (get on with it Larry), I have instructed Holly to speak to her Best Friend and see whether she might want to go see a movie with me. So a possible new romance that I thought was thwarted before it even started might live again....

But there is more! Holly's friend last night Nadine, lives in the same street as the very lovely Emma that I spent three hours chatting to in the pub a few weeks back. So she might drop a good word in there for me too.

But there's even more more! I bumped into the very lovely Emma herself yesterday in the street, and said I was away this coming week, but hoped we might meet up for a drink when I get back, and she was up for that idea too!

So it is all good.

As the saying goes, it's not what you know, it's who you know!

Friday, 16 December 2011

Vaginal Prolapse, Sex Toys For Horses, and A Lovely Warm Feeling

Tonight didn't go exactly as planned.

I had hoped to enjoy an evening out with my friends Alyn, Emma and their baby daughter Fern. Unfortunately, Emma and Fern would only appear later on to collect Alyn and myself from the pub.

That being said, an evening with Alyn in the pub is not to be missed. Not only is he articulate, but he is also intelligent, knowledgeable, and silly enough to be perfect company.

Tonight we discussed many things, including; Vaginal and Anal Prolapse - what they were, and how they could hinder a long car journey; The Ann Summer's range of sexual bridles for the adventurous couples - and whether horses ever used human paraphernalia to heighten sexual pleasure e.g. shoes or ties etc.

Our conversation wasn't all sexually biased. I also discovered that any allergic reaction that affects the breathing or the throat is called an Analphalactic reaction - and is not limited to reactions from bee or wasps stings.

Alyn learnt the Sign Language sign for "Cauliflower".

All too soon it was time to go home. The very lovely Emma came to pick us up, and shortly afterwards dropped me off near home.

Alyn and Emma have been so very kind to me this last year or so, and they are very special to me. I'm not afraid to say that I love them very much.

The Tale of Bad Larry.....

Whoever says that television doesn't influence people, obviously hasn't met my boss. After watching an episode of "Life's Too Short", my boss decided that what I needed more than anything, was an image makeover.

He's kind and helpful like that.

Mark (my boss) decided that being a nice guy wasn't getting me anywhere. My thoughts on the matter were inconsequential apparently, and it was decided that I should from now on be both "bad" and "dangerous" - and should introduce myself from now on as such.

In fact my boss is so thoughtful, that he offered to introduce me to people (especially female people) himself. If we were in a pub for example, I would be sitting a little way away in my leather jacket with the collar turned up. Mark would be talking to a couple of women (safety in numbers), and when he would point me out, saying "That's Larry - he's bad.", I would simply raise my glass looking mean, moody and magnificent. And then the women would not be able to resist.

Well that is the theory anyway. When Mark demonstrated how I should look when I raise my glass, he looked like he'd had a stroke.

So last night was our Works Christmas bash. A simple affair, we went to the pub, then to an Indian Restaurant, and then back to the pub. There were seven of us in total - Mark and his partner Petra, Mark's daughter Tiffany, one of our suppliers Neil, two people from our Packing House Gail and David, and me.

Now my boss has been known -on rare occasions- to take the mickey out of people. With the addition of alcohol to the equation, the frequency of Mark's 'boyish humour' increases substantially. So for pretty much the entire night, each of us was given the benefit of Marks wit.
The subjects covered included: whether David was gay, whether Gail fancied me, and of course my new image re-branding. These topics would be revisited time and again as the evening wore on.

However let me say that Mark took a fair bit of stick himself, and paid for the whole night - drinks, meal everything. He is very generous like that.

But you have to expect the mickey taking too.

So Mark thinks I should be a bad boy - or at least have a bad boy image. I'm not sure I could quite carry it off with the panache that Mark suggests I would need.

Bad Larry........what do you think?

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Just For You, Cain Bennett

Apparently, I now write this blog "on demand". Obviously, because my life is a dull, empty void, I just sit around all day waiting for something to write about.

Well hurrah! today my prayers have been answered. A young man by the name of Cain Bennett has expressed his disappointment at my intention to not write my blog tonight (for Social reasons) and, as I never like to disappoint anyone - except during sex, and I can't really help that - I thought I should appease my young friend, and write the bloody blog to shut him up. But what to write about?......


I first met Cain Bennett in the Spring of 1996 when he was a mere babe in arms. His vacant expression and constant aroma of vomit and poo are as clear today as they were back then - but that's just how he has turned out I guess. Although usually shy around "new" folk (being his dad's Best Friend wasn't enough, apparently), Cain and I surprisingly hit it off. Soon we became good friends, and Cain used to have me read stories to him. He was a demanding little bugger even then.
It was a joy to watch Cain grow - and painful sometimes. I shall never forget the time he dropped a Matchbox car from the landing upstairs on to the top of my head.

Actually that is not true. I have lost all memory of the event and 5 minutes either side, due to the damage caused by the tiny falling Ford Mondeo. I have to rely on the eyewitness accounts of Cain's parents (once they have stopped laughing).

Apart from that incident, me and Cain have become good friends. I don't get to see him very often, but through the magic of Facebook the little sod is never far away - erm, I mean I am able to keep in touch with the delightful child regularly.


I last saw Cain earlier this year up in Scotland with his Dad, his Uncles and his Aunt. In fact I seemed to be the only non-Bennett person on that Holiday - apart from Cain's Aunt Leigh's Husband Jim. But he lives in Scotland, so technically wasn't on holiday.

So what else can I say about Cain? He's clever, funny, and a pleasure to be around. He's also a cheeky little bugger that tries to give his poor mother the run around, and if I ever catch him doing that in my presence, I'll beat the living crap out of him.

So, this blog has been written for Cain, at his request.

I hope he likes it. It's tough if he doesn't.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Right Up There With Repeated Kicks To The Groin.

We all have lists - good lists and bad lists. Good lists are lists of things we like - favourite holiday destinations, the best films we've seen, celebrities we find attractive, etc. etc. and bad lists are the same (but with bad things). We can have specific lists for different types of things, but all our lists can be combined into a super list - one for good, and one for bad.

Much like the way the Power Rangers used to combine to form a super Power Ranger....thingy.

Throughout life, we amend these lists through our experiences; we add things, and remove things; and sometimes certain things swap lists even.

Today, I added something to one of my lists: Emmental Cheese.

And it didn't go on a good list.

I had bought some grated Emmental the day before on the spur of the moment (way to go, implusiveness!). I had never tried it before, and as it was on "special" I thought I would give it a go. It looked quite innocent as it sat in the fridge waiting to be used.

Today, I decided to come home for lunch and have some cheese on toast, using the Emmental. While the bread was toasting, I opened the Emmental. This was my first mistake. The aroma that met my sense of smell was unique to say the least. Whilst I definitely got the cheesy part of it, there was also something else - lurking menacingly beneath. The description on the packet described the aroma as having a 'hint of nut' to it, and although this may of been psychosomatic, I thought the additional smell reminded me of water chestnuts - like the ones you get in Chinese cooking.

Wary, but willing to carry on, I put some grated Emmental on the toasted bread and put it under the grill to melt. That was my second mistake.

Soon enough, it was ready. I put it on a plate (I'm not a slob) and sat down to eat it. The first few mouthfulls were okay - my tastebuds were saying to me "okay, we are not really sure about this but we will give you the benefit of the doubt" - but I still wasn't convinced.

Then, a few mouthfulls later, I was convinced - very quickly - that this wasn't a good idea. I had a mouth full of the melted Emmental and toast when suddenly, my tastebuds all shouted "NO!!" and at the same time my gag reflex said "you try to swallow that, and me and you will fall out - and so will the contents of your stomach".
Without hesitation, I got up, went into the kitchen and spat my food into the bin. The uneaten remainder of my lunch followed it.

I already know that the smell of that cheese will from now on make me gag, so I will not be eating that cheese ever again. It really was unpleasant, and has rightly earned its place amongst other unpleasant experiences I have had such as going to the dentists as a child, being high up, and thinking about my ex wife.

I hope to have a pleasant experience soon to counter act today's events.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Absorbent Earrings, Overly Conscious About My Jeans, and If You Want To See My Best Driving - Don't Be In The Car

Firstly, this question popped into my head when I noticed the earrings that a colleague of mine was wearing. In truth, the question that SHOULD have popped into my mind was 'why is Mark wearing earrings?'

I jest of course - it was Mark's daughter that was wearing the earrings, earrings in the shape of a rose. I don't know what they were made of, but it wasn't Gold or Silver.

So I thought, why could you not have earrings for people with sensitive skin that could absorb perfume, rather than have to dab it behind the ears as many women do?

Some women dab it behind their knees - but that's another story.

You wouldn't be able to do it with Gold or Silver earrings as it would affect the metal - unless there was a small piece of absorbent material on the earrings that could have the perfume applied.

But would that not work? There must be women out there who cannot wear perfume normally? This could be the answer.

A Nobel prize? For me? Thankyou!.....

Now, my work jeans - they have a hard life really. At work, I don't really care what happens to them. I spill stuff on them, kneel on the warehouse floor in them, scrape them against pallets and boxes etc. At home it is not much better; they get washed on the coolest temperature so not all the stains come out, are never ironed, and only get a cursory folding when I can remember. They are, after all, my work jeans - not my best jeans (which live in a jewel encrusted cabinet with an engraved sign that reads "Are the people you are seeing tonight really worth wearing these for?")

So my jeans have it rough. As a result of this, however (and my expanding waistline) , the zip on my jeans now doesn't stay up for very long. Subsequently, I have now got into the habit of checking their height on a regular basis and restoring them to their official starting position.

Megan Lagrue - I have a memory of you sending me a link to a webpage with a cunning way of solving this problem. Was that as a result of a previous blog on this subject (and am I therefore repeating myself), or one of my random status updates on Facebook?

Whilst I can happily perform these checks at work, in the relative privacy of the warehouse, it is far more difficult to do so out in public. Now my flies are not falling open every few minutes, but there have been occasions when a gentle breeze has been felt whilst out and about. The trouble is, that I cannot just reach down and remedy the situation the moment I notice because if I am anywhere near another living soul, I assume that they will assume that I am touching myself, and will call the police.

So whilst I am out and about in my work jeans, I sneakily check the height of my zip with my index finger every few minutes to see if it is moving down (because a man pointing at his groin is much less weird.....). If so, I take an executive decision to 'sort myself out' as quickly as discreetly as possible.

But still, I am ever conscious of the fact that at any given time out in the street on a workday, I may be "flying low".

Finally - I've not been driving very long, and while I am confident driving, I appear to get worse when someone else is in the car with me.
And I know why; its because I am trying so hard to give my passenger a smooth ride. In fact, I try too hard and make a pigs ear of it.
On my own, I am a lazy driver - my gear changes are jerky, and my braking and acceleration is not smooth. It's not terrible, but it could be better. The trouble is, I try too hard to correct my lazy habits, and that just makes me appear worse than I actually am.

I will endeavour to tighten up on my driving skills whilst I am alone in the car, so that my next passenger has an enjoyably smooth journey.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Short Term Memory Loss Resulting In Foot In Mouth

Tonight was Sign Language night and, allowing for the bad weather (wind and rain), I left a bit early. Typically I arrived early. It was still raining hard, so I ran to the entrance to the place - which was locked. Fortunately, some other people on the course - David and his wife Loreta - were parked nearby, and they let me sit in their car while we waited for the tutor to arrive and let us in.

So, while we are waiting we get chatting about Christmas etc. It turned out to be a very short conversation, because David and Loreta don't celebrate Christmas, because they are Jehovah's Witnesses. This also meant that they wouldn't be attending next weeks lesson (the last before Christmas) as we would be learning the 12 days of Christmas, and having a "party".

So, I was in possession of quite important information, given the time of year. And yet, at the end of the night when we came to say goodnight and go our seperate ways, what did I say?

"Happy Christmas!"

And then, when I realised what I had said I tried:
"Have a good time !"

Whatever that meant.

Honestly, sometimes I just don't know what goes on in that empty head of mine.........

Sunday, 11 December 2011

In Case Of (Insert Word Here) Break Glass........And Hypnotism on Children - The Answer all Parents Seek?

Be warned - I've been thinking.

Whoever invented the cabinet with axe in with the words "In Case Of Emergancy, Break Glass" on the glass is, without doubt, a genius and has undoubtedly saved countless lives.
But hasn't the time come to incorporate this technology into other areas of our lives? I don't mean the fire axe; whilst it has been proven to be a life saving object, its usefulness is not automatically transferable to other life issues. However, have a cabinet or box that says "In Case of Emergancy......" is.

Before I go any further, let me state for the record that a cabinet that just says "In Case of Emergancy......", and nothing else,  IS useless. Unless of course you are a fan of puzzles, as well as a fan of wasting potentially vital seconds.

But in general, there are innumerable variations that can be applied to this idea. You just have to change the word "Emergancy" for whatever situation applies.

Surely there is an opportunity here in the novelty gift market where you could buy a personalised "In Case Of....." case for a friend or loved one? Whatever the situation, there is something that could be as vital as a fire axe in a fire.

A beer for a stressful day at work; a box of chocolates for heartbreak (or a fire axe, depending on how they took it); a takeaway menu for when you are too tired to cook; a toilet roll for someone who loves Curry - the possibilities are endless.

The examples I've just given aren't the best I know, but you get the idea. It could catch on - and at the same time would subconsciously be training folk to instinctively sound the alarm in the event of a fire by breaking the glass. They might not have taken notice of that little box on the wall at their workplace before, but now they would automatically know where it is. So you see, this novelty idea saves lives too.

Dragons Den here I come.......

Talking of monsters - children. I'm talking little children here, between the ages of two and four. You know that age - when they need to be watched every second of the day because all they do is fall over, run into things, push other children over or into things, put things in their mouths, nose, or ears - or other childrens - and just scream all the time.
I was privileged enough today to be invited to the third birthday party of my friends son. It was very nice, but the volume of sugar consumed by the birthday boy and his friend - which is impossible to avoid, and is in no way a slur against his parents - meant that these two children were quite "full on" if you know what I mean.
Again, I'm not saying it was a bad thing, but the addition of hard tiled floors and furniture at head height was a recipe for disaster. I know for a fact that the birthday boy's parents were worn out after the party, just from the amount of time and energy they spent keeping an eye on them.

So, could Hypnotism be the answer? Now bear with me on this; from what I understand, in order for hypnotism to work, the subject has to be "open" to the concept of being hyonotised. If they are sceptical or don't believe, then they cannot be hyonotised.
Young children are like sponges - very good for soaking up spillages (especially the fat ones). Actually that's not what I meant. I mean that they are "open" to everything. They have no preconceptions about anything because they are just learning machines. This makes them the perfect candidates for hypnotism.

But how to hypnotise them? At a young age, children can't sit still for very long, so having a professional hyponotist (are they a profession?) try to do it just wouldn't work. You would need to find a way to keep the child's attention whilst hypnotising them.

The answer? Hand puppets.

Most hypnotists use the hands when hypnotising people, so a hand puppet is the perfect way to hypnotise the child. You can make the puppet as colourful and appealing to the child as possible, which in turn will make it easier to work on them.

And I'm not talking about making the children fall asleep straight away - that isn't necessary. All you would do is implant a trigger word, that when said would invoke the reaction required - be it the need to read quietly, or the desire to take a nap.
And of course there would be a way to cancel the effects - clicking your fingers is a popular one.

So there you have it - hypnotising hand puppets for children. The answer to every parents prayers.


Saturday, 10 December 2011

You'll Never Find Me In The Pit Lane At The Grand Prix

Today was a bit of a learning curve for me.

In just over a  week I am driving back to Essex for Christmas, and I decided that this weekend I should check my car for oil and fill up the windscreen washer fluid reservoir etc.

The windscreen washer filling up was easy. Next came the oil - which proved much more difficult. I checked the level on the Dipstick, and found that it was at the minimum level and would need topping up. The oil filler cap was easy to find - it was bright yellow with the picture of an oil can on it. What wasn't so easy was getting the yellow cap off.
I twisted it and pulled it, but it wouldn't budge. Was I looking at the right thing? I started to doubt myself, and for a moment wondered if you topped up the oil by pouring it down the hole you pull the dipstick out of. In the end I sought clarification from a friend - by texting him a picture of the oil filler cap with the message "oil goes in here, yeah?".
Once confirmation had been given, I decided that the cap must be stuck and would need prising off. I nipped home to get a screw driver, and then returned and started working away at the cap. Infuriated, oily and no closer to topping up my oil, I was getting nowhere. In a fit of rage I grasped the whole thing in one hand and shook it violently.

Imagine my surprise as I accidentally lifted the whole cap off revealing the tube in which to pour the oil.

It turns out that the yellow cap wasn't a yellow cap after all. It was fixed to the black top that covered the oil filling tube, and only had to be lifted off (which takes no effort at all, I have discovered) to allow oil to be poured in.

I was so pleased with myself for getting the top off that I got a bit carried away and overfilled my oil. When I checked the dipstick again the oil came to about an inch above the 'Max' mark. Apparently this could be quite bad. At the very least it will make my car smoke a lot. I hope that is all that happens.

But in the end I got there, and I learnt a few things along the way.

Mainly, that there are two dipsticks in my car.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Consider Me A One-Armed Waiter

What's this? Today's blog being written earlier than normal? Well, I'm home from work early and the two MASSIVE jacket potatoes that I'm cooking for tea will not be ready for another 90 minutes, so I'll have just enough time to write this blog.

I know that sounds a long time, but remember - I'm writing this blog using the app on my phone and the buttons are small and my fingers are big. The next time you text somebody, try using a sausage and you'll get some idea of the trouble I have. Although to be fair, you'll end up with sausage meat all over your phone, and I've never had that problem. Officer.

Anyway, I have come to a terrible conclusion. I've sort of known this for a long time (known what the conclusion is I mean, not known for a long time that I am coming to a conclusion), but have been denying it for many years. I guess that I have been worried that my acceptance of this conclusion, and my admittance of it publicly may cost me many friends.

Ah, but I haven't admitted anything yet, so all my friendships are still safe..........well that's all for today's blog - goodbye!



Oh, alright I'll tell you. I'm humour elitist, a comedy snob if you will. And by that I mean that I genuinely struggle to laugh at other peoples jokes. Partly because most of the time I already know the joke. You see a large part of my brain has been set aside for remembering jokes I have heard over the years. As a result I have heard most jokes. And have some problems with motor functions and bladder control.

But the main reason I don't find another person's jokes funny is because the egotistical part of me thinks that the joke would sound much better coming from me than it does coming from the person telling it at the time. Now the rational side of me knows that this is not true; there are people who are just as funny if not more so than me who, thanks to their personality and timing could make the worst joke hilarious. However, the irrational side of me thinks everyone else is rubbish, and no-one is funnier than me.

I have tried to laugh - sincerely I have - but I just can't seem to manage it. So I fake laugh, but I'm sure that it's not very convincing.

And tonight, this hypocricy (is that spelt correctly?) Manifested itself in a new way. I was in my local Co-op (good with food - not so good at hiring staff that don't look like they were grown from a petri dish) buying some emergancy bits and pieces - bread, Cadbury's Fingers, pizza - and I could hear one of the cashiers ringing for more cashiers to come out. The bell they use to ring for more staff, or for assistance, or for someone to wipe the drool from their chin is just a normal doorbell type but with one tone (Ding, not dong). Whichever cashier was ringing was obviously fed up or taking grief because they were ringing time after time after time. It was sounding like an old fashioned telephone ringing.

So I'm walking past the freezer section with the repeated ringing still going on. Ahead of me is another shopper - an elderly lady - so I think to myself that I'll make her laugh with one of my hilariously funny witty comments. So as I walk past her, with the ringing still going on, I say:
"I wish someone would answer that telephone!"
I keep walking, but turn to see the joy on her little old face.

Except there isn't any.

The elderly woman is just looking at me, without a smile on her face. If you had seen her face, you would have been forgiven for thinking that I had gone up to her and asked if I could have pooed in her handbag.
I was just about to open my mouth to apologise, when the elderly lady said:
"Why don't you answer it and pretend to be a celebrity?"</p>

Well, this threw me completely. As an automatic defense mechanism, I backed away, looking at the floor. I could feel the woman staring at me, so as I backed round the corner I replied
"I can't think who though!?"

Once safe, I started to think about what had just happened. And the more I thought about it, the angrier I became. Not only had that woman dared to try and be funny in my presence when she knew that her role was to play the recipient of the humour, but what she had said made no sense at all! I couldn't possibly answer the telephone because it wasn't a real telephone. It was some hunchback on a cash register with a door bell fixation!
The silly old woman had failed to grasp the comic irony of my original comment, and had effectively ruined what would have been another sublime example of my comedy genius.

And that is why I don't laugh at other peoples jokes.

And the title of this blog? I'm a one-armed waiter; I can dish it out, but I can't take it.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Best Behaviour - For a While....

A young person I know was telling me about her upcoming evening out this evening with a young man she has recently met. She was stuck for ideas as to what to do, but when I suggested eating somewhere she recoiled in horror, stating that she "wasn't ready to eat in front of him yet".

Although ridiculous, I have come across this concept before. It is just one of many rules that we humans impose on ourselves when it comes to starting a new relationship. For the first few weeks, or dates (whichever takes longer) we are all on our best behaviour, and take great pride in looking our best. In fact, we often look better when we start dating someone than on the night we actually met that person. If you met whilst out with your mates, there's no doubt you looked nice - but if you are getting ready to go out on a date, you take things up a notch.

Nowadays, both sexes take an age getting ready. Every individual hair on the head is put into place. Eyebrows, legs, armpits, backs, bikini lines, speedo lines and anything else that needs it is waxed. Enough make-up is applied to re-paint the Cistine chapel, and at the same time enough volume of aftershave to make a corpse smell nice is applied to all areas of the body. We brush our teeth at 7:30pm, and gargle mouthwash like there is no tomorrow. Any blemish that may exist is disguised or made to look like part of an exquisite tattoo.

The transformation is not just a physical one. We also transform ourselves into perfect ladies and gentlemen. We say "please" and "thankyou", and laugh at each others jokes. The first kiss of greeting is always on the cheek because you are both chewing 8 - 10 fresh mints or chewing gum that would choke the other person to death if you snogged.

And you fight yourself for control of your own bodily functions. How many times have you sat somewhere with terrible stomach cramps from holding in a fart for too long? And eventually when the pain is too much and you have to excuse yourself, you have to try to do that awful, weird walk whilst keeping your sphincter and buttocks clenched tight for fear of letting anything out. And god help you if you have to go downstairs, cos you can't clench and walk downstairs at the same time. No matter how hard you try, you fart your way down those stairs as if every stair was a whoopee cushion.

How many times have you had to stifle a burp with your mouth closed behind a napkin. Of course, we don't fool anyone, because our cheeks puff out when we burp secretly - like the explosion that happens in cartoons when someone swallows a stick of ACME dynamite.

So we put ourselves through all this discomfort and effort in order to impress the other person with the hope of having sex with them. Make no mistake; this is a primal thing.

The ironic thing is, that once we have got to have sex with a person in a relationship, we stop trying. Somewhere in our subconscious is the rational thought that once we have been seen at our fleshy, pimply worst, there is no need to pretend. We fart, belch, scratch ourselves, pick our feet, noses and scabs, cough, wheeze, pick our teeth, pull wax from our ears and then examine it - or eat it even. And all in front of our other half.

It's as if we are saying "I have nothing to fear - this person has seen me naked; they can sink no lower"

It is true what they say - Familiarity breeds contempt. So perhaps we should try the dating process in reverse. Maybe we should try to meet people when we are at our worst; dirty clothes, greasy hair, bad breath, bad teeth, farting and burping all over the place. If you can hit it off with someone looking like that at least you can say:

"Sure, I look bad now - but things can only get better!"

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Container Chaos

I don't work in the shipping industry - I never have. But I can't possibly imagine that it is as complicated as it is made out to be by the shipping company we use at work. From the little I do know, I have patched together this rough estimate of how the system works:

Container arrives at the port (its arrival can be tracked online upto 24 hrs before it is due to dock)

The container is unloaded from the ship and waits for clearance - this involves Bills of Lading etc.

Occasionally the Container gets pulled for customs inspection.

The Container "clears" and transport is arranged.

Delivery of the container is made to the intended recipient.

Generally, the time from docking to clearance for transport is 2-3 days, and you would expect that by the time the container is put on a lorry for transport that the difficult part was over.

Well, you'd be wrong.

We had a container booked for delivery today at 1:30pm. This was the time advised by our clearing agent. The container was on a ship that docked at 7pm on Monday, so we knew delivery today was possible.
However, something went wrong. At 11:30 this morning we were advised that delivery would be at 2:30. When I phoned at 2pm to check that delivery was still on schedule, I was told that 2:30 was still the delivery time.
But then, we must have slipped into a black hole, or maybe torn the very fabric of time itself because 5 minutes later (2:05pm) the clearing agent called to say that the container was leaving now and delivery would be between 3:30pm and 4:00pm.

We asked how this could be possible - but no-one seemed to know. At one point we were struggling to get confirmation as to whether the container was actually in transit to us, or whether it was still at the port. We asked for the number of the transport company, but even this was difficult to obtain.

Eventually we were given an ETA of 4pm for the container. So of course, we were not surprised when it arrived at 4:45pm.

I genuinely cannot see how it could be that difficult to get that Container from Southampton docks to Sturminster Newton. The port knew when it was arriving, the clearing agent knew when it was cleared, and we knew how long it should take to drive from the port to the delivery destination.

The clearing agent has the attitude (or appears to have) that there is no rush to get these containers to their destinations. There is a rush, because the stock they hold is needed to be despatched to our customers on a timely basis. The consequences of a late or failed delivery could be disastrous. Because of the lateness of the delivery to us today, we now have a major headache tomorrow in terms of delivering to our customer.

But hey, its only a job.......

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Fingers Crossed

Just a short post tonight, about how much I am looking forward to catching up with friends in the week leading up to Christmas.
I'm going to stay with my sister, but will spend the first few days out and about seeing some very high quality people indeed.
One catch up is already set in stone, a couple of others just need the details finalising, and I am hopeful that I can get a few others under my belt.

Here's hoping!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Needy Coasters, Cupcakes of Death, and Things You Don't Expect To Be Asked At A Sign Language Class.

It really is quite sad really - how lonely the average Coaster can be. You would have thought that they would have been content, what with being used regularly - but apparently this is not enough.

Recently I've noticed that whenever I pick up a cup of tea or coffee off the coffee table (why don't we have tea tables?), the coaster always wants to come with the drink, rather than stay on the table. I can only assume that it takes comfort from the warmth of the mug sat upon it, and inevitably makes some kind of emotional bond with it. Sadly this bond is not reciprocated, and the hot drink soon grows cold leaving the coaster emotionally void.
Perhaps it is a self confidence thing; the coaster might not realise its worth, preventing those awful mug rings from ruining the surface of the table. Maybe if it was shown a bit of gratitude once in a while, it wouldn't feel the need to be so clingy.
Let's have a "Cuddle a Coaster" day, and eradicate needy Coasters once and for all.

So I was at work today, and one of my colleagues brought in some Chocolate Cupcakes. They were delicious, but very dry and prone to crumbling apart. I had devised a
Plan to solve this problem - take as big a bite as possible out of the cupcake, and then add a mouthful of coffee to moisten it and make it easier to eat.
So far, this plan had worked. Of the three cupcakes given to me, two had been successfully consumed. However, when I took a large bite out of the third and final cupcake, the piece in my mouth broke apart suddenly and I started to choke on it. A split second later my body's defence mechanisms kicked in, and with an almighty cough I sprayed cupcake all over my desk and blinds. To make matters worse, my mouth had started producing saliva so the crumbs of cupcake that showered my office were damp enough to stick to whatever surface they made contact with and leave a stain.

They never tell you of the hidden dangers these types of cakes possess....

I've been to Sign Language class tonight, and as part of the learning process we often have to pair up and Sign to each other. Well tonight there was an odd number of us, and for a moment I was without a partner. The tutor then said I could join an existing pair and make a triple conversation.
I turned to the nearest pair - who happened to be ladies - and was promptly asked by one of them if I wanted a threesome.
Well, I was lost for words. She was bright red with embarrassment, and the other lady was crying with laughter. That clearly wasn't what she meant to say, but it did make us all laugh.

I can't wait to go back next week!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Woodpigeon Domination

It turns out that my bird feeder stand/table/thing is actually working. Just not in the way I hoped.
Today I saw a bird at my bird feeder for the first time. Sadly it wasn't a Goldfinch, or a Robin, or a Bluetit, or a Golden Eagle (that would be SO cool). Instead it was a very fat, very common Woodpigeon.

As it sat there, fat and feathery, pecking at the piece of bread, I couldn't help but loathe it a little, and think about all the little birds that might not be getting a look in because this bloated Avian bully had staked its claim on my bird feeder stand.

I hope I'm wrong, and hope that the Woodpigeon I saw today was just a passing opportunist.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

2 for 1 blog part two: Saturday; Uncomfortable Wrapping, Unpopular Food, and Saving Myself £10, but wasting £4

I must be quick as the battery is going on my mobile.

I started wrapping Christmas presents today. I was kneeling on the floor in my lounge, and I found it really uncomfortable! I don't know if it is was my knackered old knees, or if it was kneeling on the denim seam of my jeans, or if I kneeling on fossilised nuggets of chocolate dropped from previous munchings. Whatever the reason, it was painfully uncomfortable.

I don't know why, but the new bird feeder stand I got recently doesn't appear to be that popular. I know that someone is eating the bread I put out (probably the fat kid down the road), but I'm yet to see any birds actually on there. I did think that perhaps it was too out of birds eye view in the corner of my garden, so I moved it into a more central position. I'll just have to wait and see...

I had a bizarre issue with my sky remote control earlier. It simply wouldn't work. I changed the batteries from another remote, but that didn't work. I looked on-line for a solution, but all the official fixes didn't work. To order a replacement remote control would cost me £14, so I thought I would try brand new batteries. £4 later, and still the remote wouldn't work.
In desperation, I checked online one more time. I found an unofficial solution which involved removing one battery, holding down the "select" button for 60 seconds and then replacing the battery and trying again.

Bugger me if it only went and worked.

What are the chances of that happening?

2 for 1 blog part one - Friday: Tomatoes, and Great Conversation

It's funny how life works. Many people say that you only get out of life what you put in, and while I do agree with that, I also believe that every now and then, the cards fall in your favour, and you get something out of the blue.

But more on that later. Now: Cherry Tomatoes.

I visit my elderly friends once a week, and they very kindly give me some locally grown vegetables. Amongst the veg I got this week was a punnet of cherry tomatoes. The punnet was not sealed, and was sat at the top of the bag of vegetables. As I was going to drive home (well it would be stupid to drive to my friends and then walk home), I foresaw a potential cherry related disaster.
However, being a rather clever (and handsome) chap I devised a cunning plan: I would put the punnet on my passenger seat. Genius!

No, not really.

You see, I couldn't help but taste one of those cherry tomatoes. But not only one - all of them. By the time I was half way home, I had eaten the entire punnet, and for that first half of the journey I was pretty much driving one handed with a mouthful of cherry tomatoes.

I was so tomato focused that I even thought that one had escaped from the punnet, leapt across the gap between the seats, and had been crushed by my left buttock. Once I'd eaten all the tomatoes, I continued to drive one handed as I felt under my leg and buttock for the phantom squashed tomato. Of course, it wasn't there but in my tomato infused mental state I was imagining them.

So last night there was a boxing match on Sky Sports 1. I had made plans to meet with friends for one drink (remember that, ONE drink) in the pub and then all go back to my friends place to watch the fight.

However, I didn't plan on meeting Emma.

She was at the bar when we walked into the pub, tall, blonde and attractive (her, not me - I'm not blonde). We got our drinks, and moved down the other end of the bar.
So far, it was all going to plan.

Soon it was my turn to get a round in, so I went to the bar. As I was waiting at the middle of the bar, Emma appeared at the far end.
For a while, there was no staff behind the bar for some reason, so when the barman finally arrived, I remembered my manners and let the lady order first.

And that one act sparked an evening of conversation. Initially we chatted while our drinks were poured, but I jokingly told her that I would meet her back at the bar, and next time she could buy me a drink.

I kept an eye out for her returning to the bar, and when she did I cheekily went over and "demanded" my drink. To her credit, she took it in good humour and bought me a pint. And we stayed at the bar for the next two hours pretty much and had a really nice conversation.
The time when we should have left to go and watch the fight came and went, and to their undeniable loveliness, when I looked over to my friends to check if we were going, they said no.
All too soon the time came for Emma to go home. I didn't ask for her number, or ask if I could take her out. All I said was that I hoped I would see her again in the pub at some point. Some people might think that I should have taken her number, or given her mine. Some might even think that I should have tried to get her into bed. Well, that isn't how I work. For me, the company and good conversation of a beautiful woman was enough. I'd had more than the one pint I had planned, but it was an unexpected but really enjoyable evening.

If I see her again, then who knows?

Thursday, 1 December 2011

This Isn't The Blog I Wanted To Write..

I don't mean overall - just in terms of tonights offering. Overall, I love writing this blog, although it is very time consuming and has subsequently hampered my efforts to find love.

Yeah, this blog is the reason I can't find a woman. Really.

Once I have completed a years blogging, this blog will become an "every now and then" blog which will mean (hopefully) that the quality will improve. Those of you who just thought 'it couldn't get any worse' are officially off my Christmas card list.

Anyway, to get back to what I was saying, I didn't intend to write what am writing now erm....now. You see, I started writing tonights blog on my pc at work, as I didn't think I'd have time tonight as I am going out later. However, I ran out of time and for some reason all the typing I had done wasn't saved so even my thoughts of completing the blog at home later using the app on my phone were thwarted. I tell you, sometimes I'm thwarted at every turn - thwart, thwart, thwart....that's all it seems to be.

So here I am led on my bed writing this blog which I never thought I would be doing. I have got stuff to say - but it is stuff originally intended for the blog I started writing earlier, so I will save it for another day. It is a shame, because there was some good stuff in that earlier draft - you would have loved it. I did save my earlier draft, but for some reason it didn't appear on the version on my phone, so I'll probably never see it again.

And neither will you. Sorry.

So, here we are - me typing and you reading this blog about nothing really. The rain is falling against my window (and the rest of the house - its not an isolated shower) as I type, and I hope it will stop before I go out. I've only got to walk to the pub which will take a minute at most - I say that, but if I walk dragging one leg behind me that is bound to affect the journey time - but I still don't want to get wet.

Well look at that - the rain sounds like it is easing off, I wonder if anything else I type will happen. Just then there was a knock at the door - it was Cameron Diaz, wearing nothing but three strategically placed first class stamps, and holding a cheque for one million pounds and a bar of Cadbury's Whole Nut.

Apparently, the rain thing was just coincidence.

Bugger.

Well, I'd better go and get ready - I'm only going out with work, but it doesn't hurt to make an effort.....