Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Tibetan shit-flavoured tea??

I love tea. I also like to drink those infusions that people tend to call 'tea', despite the fact they don't consist of anything from the tea plant. Chamomile is an especial favourite. When it comes to the proper stuff though, you can't beat a cracking cup of normal tea - the sort usually referred  to as 'English Breakfast Tea'. I like it strong, with just a little milk to take the edge off it.* That said, there is a particular blend of tea of which I have a certain fondness. It's a strong flavour with a smokey hit to it.
I won't name the tea yet, just in case you can't think of the name right now.
What I will do, however, is turn to the subject of cheeses. Julie isn't a fan at all of cheese. She will have a little now and then, but otherwise, forget it. Me on the other hand - I love it and I can get away with it, because cheese tends to have a lower lactose content than milk. Again, I like flavours and when I was off on my travels, I met up with some friends in Ipswich and we went around and about looking various shops.
In one, I hit a jackpot of sorts. Not only did I manage to find Julie a birthday present, but I also got myself some smokey cheese.
Very smokey cheese.
Julie, when I showed it to her, was less than impressed.

Yes folks, Julie has managed to Gem the tea more commonly known as 'Lapsang Suchong'.

*Although I generally have to use soy milk as I have an intolerance for the real thing. I can cope with a little, but it's best avoided if I can help it.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Dusty Springfield sang jazz, you know

Everyone has some inclination towards music, whether they have any ability or not. They like listening to it, going to concerts, singing along to the radio or even just idly humming the time away.
If nothing else, that is the one thing that connects us all; we'll find something to occupy a small, bored corner of our mind while we're working at some larger task

Take last Saturday. We were getting ready to go out and Julie walked into the hallway, half humming, half singing...

I am sure you can imagine it; I'm tying my bootlaces, when Julie's internal soundtrack suddenly becomes audible to the outside world.
Oh, and by the way, the word 'wotnot' features quite heavily in Julie's vocabulary. Usually, it's because her mouth can't be bothered to wait for the brain to supply the word she needs and simply inserts 'wotnot' instead. It can be quite entertaining, but when she's trying to give someone necessary details (such as directions while travelling), a 'wotnot' or two in the wrong place can be very off-putting...


That's it for today. As with last week, I am out on the road and can't guarantee being able to provide an update on Wednesday.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Genetics by marriage

To round the week off, how about another two-hander featuring Julie and my father?
Seriously, I think the scientists could do far worse than start looking for a gene that deals with the ability to come up with stuff like this.

By the way, I'm hoping you have now got the hang of which typeface goes with which person. I use italics, Julie is the lighter, standard type and Dad is the heavier, darker font. I try and keep it standard across all the posts.

I'll tell you something. Sometimes, both Dad and Julie say things like this on purpose. Other times, it's pure mucked-up language and logic. Unfortunately, it's now got to the point I can't tell the difference between the two.
Ah well. Time to just sit back and enjoy the show then...

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

You can't square a circle (but can you triangulate a square?)

We may have another situation, folks, where Julie is making sense in the long run. As with much of what my wife says, though, it's all in the delivery.
Still...  I really am not too sure on this one. No matter what angle I put it on (pun completely intended), and no matter what face I put on it (ditto), it still makes as much sense as an orange Smurf standing on Big Ben's tower and bellowing "Smooth Criminal" in a Russian accent.
See what you think.

Am I right? Or am I nuts? I suppose it could always be both.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Intelligent is as intelligent does - or doesn't.

Just a quick bit from me today, I'm afraid (stop cheering, you sods).

No real background to this one, folks, it was just 'one of those days'. You know the type, where everyone is having a bit of a bad day. Nothing you do goes right, you can't seem to think straight and nothing you say comes out right. When I have a bad day, I tend to keep quiet. After all, as the phrase goes, "it is better by far to be silent and appear to be an idiot, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt."
Julie, as we all know, just happily plunges right in with both feet.

That's it for today, I'll try to post Wednesday, but I'm out and about this week, so the earliest definite date for a new post will be Friday.

Friday, 19 August 2011

I always thought he looked a bit thin

Julie is, now and then, quite baffling. 
Then again, there are occasions where she's razor-sharp and more pointed than a sharpened pin. If nothing else, the previous post will have proved that more than adequately.
When we play Trivial Pursuit, there is a rough split of 60:40 in favour of 'baffling' over 'zinger' However, it does have to be admitted that the alleged zingers here are a result of Julie not knowing the answer and opting for a pithy put-down. The balance between the two states is fairly well established, but it's a fragile state; with the addition of some wine the ratio of 'baffling' to 'zinger' rockets to a heady 95:5.

Obviously, things are never as clear-cut as the figures I'm guesstimating make out. Many things can conspire to alter the state of play and the biggest such factor is sheer, bloody-minded chance. I mean, when you're playing a quiz game, wine has been imbibed and Julie is asked a question in a topic with which she is unfamiliar, you're going to be expecting something along the lines of 'baffling'. Or, at the very least, utterly incomprehensible. What you DON'T expect is an answer that melds all that is best in both 'zinger' and baffling'.

Seriously, I was expecting Julie's answer to have been rather rude, crude and definitely unfit for reproduction in this blog.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Photoshop is now a surgical instrument

Two and a half years ago, Julie had an operation, one that has changed her life in so many ways. It's a common operation these days, but the really nice thing is that the team behind the procedure like to hold an annual get-together for all their patients, past and present, and their respective partners. It's a wonderful little do, supremely English, in that it's a garden party and serving little bite-sized nibbles instead of laying on the carbohydrates and drowning them in beer.
For everyone involved, it's a chance to put on a little finery and allow it to see sunlight instead of the sickly glow of a pub or nightclub....
...sorry, I think I need to disengage my cynicism circuits...
Joking apart, I have enjoyed it on both of the occasions we have gone, and I know Julie has too. It's a chance to meet up with people who have been in a similar position. More importantly though, people can get to meet once more the surgeons who have effectively saved their lives.
Admittedly, it is something of a PR stunt, in that there are photographers from a newspaper or a magazine there each time, but that only adds to the experience. Especially in view of the fact that the photographers allow people to grab hold of any photos they may be in and use them for themselves. Saves cramming yourselves into a photo booth, doesn't it?

Julie isn't the only one with a health problem. I have suffered from severe headaches and migraines since I was a wee lad of seven. Over the years, I have been from doctor to doctor and tried the gods know how many different types of medication and/or painkiller. I have tried Herbal remedies and a Chinese herbalist, neither of which achieved anything apart from a substantially lighter wallet. Of course, there can be and are many different triggers, all of which I try to avoid.
One such trigger, however, is light. My eyes are particularly weak and so, like U2's Bono (and for the same reason), I need to wear sunglasses of varying tints pretty much all of the time, regardless of whether I am outdoors or in.
It causes a few odd looks and jeers now and then, but sod 'em; I've avoided a headache. On the other hand, it can be a bone of contention between me and Julie on occasion.

Um. Thanks, love.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Julie and the demon drink

It's a subject that has been raised in the past. Mostly in conjunction with the game Trivial Pursuit, it has to be said, but last night was something of an exception. Last night, I was on the computer, trying to do some real work for a change. After a while, and feeling frustrated with a lack of progress, I decided to check into Facebook and see what was going on.
Meanwhile, downstairs, Julie was busy becoming acquainted with a half-bottle of red wine, although the first I knew of this was when the exchanges on a particular comment thread suddenly took a turn for the tipply. What followed was 150 comments of varying sobriety and increasing incredulity and admiration.

No, I'm not going to reproduce any of it here.
How about this instead?

Long-time followers will of course spot the similarity between this and this very early classic - also produced via the magic of alcohol.
The thing is, I know there will be a few people out there who will feel cheated by the above post. After all, anyone could come out with something like that when they were three sheets to the wind, couldn't they? Well, maybe they could and maybe they couldn't. The 'fingers' comments, however, were produced with no prompting, apropos of nothing, in a rather dreamy fashion.
How about this one, then?

Now, THAT'S more like it.
Nope. I haven't got a clue either.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Eyeballing the titles

As you know by now, my Dad visited us last weekend and brought Toby, their Jack Russell terrier with him. He's an incredibly intelligent and loyal dog but he has some funny habits - like deliberately wedging his throwing toy under something so he can't get it out. His face is also one of the most expressive I have ever seen on any animal - including a few (alleged) humans I know.

"Take a picture of me, will you? Hah! I blow raspberries in your general direction..."
On one day, Julie was playing with Toby, when she stopped and looked into his eyes.

Indecisive much? Well, it's either that or Toby's eyes are chameleonic.
Shortly after that, we settled down to watch a film. We had asked Dad what he fancied watching, but he decided to leave it up to us. However, when it came to setting things up for it, he did ask which it was we had settled on.

Now, at the end of this week, can you see just why it is Julie and my father get on so well?

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Playing games with votes and letters

As a family, we're a little different to many. Yes, there is a television, we have a computer and even an Xbox (an original one, second-hand. We're not made of money, you know). However, when we get together, our favourite pastime centres around a couple of board games. Followers of this site will already know that these games are Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit. There are a couple of others, but we always return to these tried and trusted friends.
In the case of me and Julie specifically, Trivial Pursuit is always a good choice on several levels. First and foremost is the fact it's not Scrabble. I'm not doing down Scrabble in the slightest, but it does have to be said that it's not exactly fully interactive; one person has a think, plays a word and a score is jotted down before the next player takes their turn. Only one person is involved at any one point in the game. Sure, it stretches our vocabularies nicely, but for getting everyone involved and interested, there's nothing like a good old question-and-answers session for stimulating discussion - all the more so when you have questions that sound vaguely risqué. Here's an example;
"What sport are you playing if your balls are black and blue?"
The answer, of course(!), is Croquet(OK, gents, you can uncross your legs now.)
Naturally, when alcohol is introduced, the daft questions magically become utterly hilarious, as do the answers given. Especially when people get so caught up in the game they forget just whose turn it is. Don't they, Julie?

That was a good night; I only managed to get the one Gem out of the two games. Partly because I couldn't keep up with the free-associating banter between my wife and my father. Mind you, the three large glasses of red wine may have had something to do with it to. Oh gods... never again (please bear in mind my alcohol intake is generally limited to a pint a month. If that).

Well, I say 'never again', but it was totally worth it. Especially since Dad won the second game - it made up for him not winning a single game of Scrabble in the days he stayed with us. He's no slouch when it comes to words, not by any stretch of the imagination. However, when the opposition is my mother, he's fairly used to 'winning silver' as he puts it. It's now a family in-joke that he begins each game with "Bagsy coming last!"
Mind you, it doesn't help that he has a rather desperate approach to making words up. At least the rest of us tend to apply a certain logic when we consider alternatives. Another regular feature of family games is Dad playing a word which is met with the chorus of, "What? What the hell's that?" Another problem is that a certain leaning toward jazz-inspired music and comedy may be all well and good when it comes to listening to Stan Getz or The Goons, or meeting Julie on her own ground, but it's not hugely useful when it comes to using the alphabet. That said, it is useful when it comes to describing his inability to make a word out of the (admittedly awful set of) letters on his rack.

See? Witty, knowing and superbly pithy. Shame he came last again though...

Monday, 8 August 2011

Going nutty in a Nissan

Oh, what a weekend.
Over the course of the last few days, I have learned a few things. 'Let sleeping dogs lie' isn't a warning, more a mission statement. Seriously, Toby the Jack Russell is very fond of the easy life. Also, 'fight fire with fire' is all well and good, but you are definitely going to get your fingers burned - in a purely metaphorical (but nonetheless painful) sense. Never again will I attempt to drink in order to attain a state similar to that which Julie and my Dad seem to inhabit at times.

Yes, we had a visitor this weekend. Two, if you count the dog. My dad decided to brave the traffic and come all the way down to the coast to stay with us, lose completely and continually at Scrabble* and to join forces with Julie against me and the forces of logic and sanity. It didn't take long for them to settle into a routine.
By the time I got home from work on Friday, Julie and Dad were already in and settled with a cuppa. I was desperate for one myself, but put it off until I'd helped Dad unload his car. Lovely looking thing, it is; a bright red Nissan something-or-other (can you tell I'm not a car person?).

It was a recent acquisition, a 'nice little runabout', as Dad called it. I remarked, though, that it was a tad on the large side to be a  'little runabout'. He agreed with this, but explained that the smaller car posed a certain problem for him. Being rather on the short side (only just hitting five feet on a good day), he needs to have the seat as close to the pedals as is possible. Unfortunately, the smallest car had a gearstick that was positioned so that is would have been right by his hip - obviously no good. The next size up had a gearstick that was halfway up the dashboard, which made it to the front of my Dad's driving position.
Julie, however, reckoned there should have been a complete overhaul of the car's design...

(Note for people used to the USA way of referring to cars; for 'bonnet', read 'hood'. You know, that bit of the car just in front of the windscreen.)

Not to be outdone, Dad and me were talking about walking into town the next day. I did wonder if he was up to it, considering his health problems, but he poo-poohed my concerns and said he'd be perfectly fine, as long as he took it easy and remembered to take his inhaler with him (yes he did, FYI). It's not that far to town, so I wasn't too worried. We were going to be stopping frequently, after all and having a drink or two to keep the fluid levels up. Mind you, he thought to be cheeky about the size of our town and said:

(A 'park and ride', for those not familiar with the concept, is an idea whereby a large car park is built on the edge of a town or city, and a dedicated bus service runs people between there and the town centre. By and large, it's a decent, successful idea. It's just a pity that not many towns or cities are agreeable to, or are capable of supporting such a service.)

And that was just the start of the weekend. My notepad very rarely left my side and I had a second one ready in case I mislaid the first. I also lost track of the times I rued not having a dictaphone. So much stuff was lost because I was simply unable to keep up with the pair of them.

*More on the Scrabble Wednesday. And on my inability to keep up with Dad and Julie. See you then!

Friday, 5 August 2011

Einstein gets a headache.

During a working, week, our habit is to sit down quietly for a while when we get home. Sometimes, it's on our own, sometimes we sit together and have a cup of tea and a chat on how our days have been. For me, this normally doesn't take long, as work in a warehouse doesn't lend itself to stimulating conversation. Julie works in a more dynamic environment and there's usually plenty to talk about; she's always busy and there's plenty of idiots to laugh/moan about.
One day, we sat in the lounge and Julie was rather subdued. Concerned, I asked if she was alright. She was fine, but it appears that she'd had something of a hectic day and was pretty knackered. Then again, as Julie put it....

Julie saw me giving her The Look and said, "What? That makes sense, doesn't it?"
No, love, I'm afraid it doesn't. I mean, I know Einstein said that time was relative, but I don't think he meant it that way...
Besides which, hasn't some clever set of scientists just proved that time travel is impossible? Spoilsports...

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

An economy of speech

I'm often to be found feverishly trying to scribble down something Julie has said. Either that or trying to decipher my crabbed scrawl.
The other day, Julie saw the notepad in which I write her various verbal meanderings and felt a little put-out at the quantity of Gems I have collected. I'm not sure why; she usually laughs harder than anyone else when she reads them back. This time, Julie felt compelled to defend herself.

There wasn't much I could say to that. Well done, love.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Of elbows and ears

I would hope it's abundantly clear by now that I find Julie's little quirks highly entertaining.
This is true.
Once in a while though, there is a Gem that floors me, sometimes literally...

Recently, I have been suffering from what felt like blocked ears, even though there was nothing to be found. Julie has had this herself. It's an annoying condition known as 'glue ear'. An apt name, if ever there was. It feels all bunged up and everything sounds like it's coming via a swimming pool. It can take some time to shift, as Julie can confirm. Until the doctor told her what it was, she thought she'd just had a persistent head cold. One lasting for a few months.
So, when it seemed like I was starting to 'glue up' as I called it, I was not happy.
On Saturday, Julie and myself went into town, and I happened to mention how my ears were feeling - it must have rung bells* with Julie, because she immediately came up with this:

Well, I just fell about the place. Literally, Julie had to pull at my arm to stop me from wandering into the road as I had hysterics. I mean, how the hell can you get from ear to elbow, apart from the initial letter? Seriously, that's right up there with her Bullring/Doughnut classic...
It didn't help that Julie tried to justify it by saying that the tennis player could have accidentally elbowed himself in the ear....

Yes, dear.

* No, not tinnitus. Wrong bells.