Monday, 31 October 2011

Fancy a canapé? It's low-alcohol, you know.

Everyone generally has a favoured tipple - even if it's only a particularly sweet fruit juice, a piping hot cuppa or an ice-cold glass of water. Generally, I will drink tea., but I like to have, every now and then, a strong, smooth and dark ale. Julie, on the other hand, prefers a Coke but will sometimes treat herself to a bottle of wine. It's not usually drunk all in one evening, but that's just as well, since it doesn't take much to get her... squiffy, shall we say.
Of course, Julie doesn't generally need the excuse that alcohol provides for communicating a little less clearly than normal. If you find that hard to believe, then may I suggest you go and read the archives?
The other day, it seems as though Julie was pre-empting herself. Before even opening the bottle, my wife looked at the label and commented on the alcohol content...

To her credit, after she had said that, Julie did turn to me and add, "and that's before I've drunk any!"

Friday, 28 October 2011

Surely a Titanic tin of dog meat?

Fabulous Friday to you all!

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, the one I shall now plug with a final Trivial Pursuit-related Gem. Since this is technically 'Julie's Gems', I thought it best to return the spotlight to my darling wife. I had to choose between two Gems today, because there were two questions which Julie answered in her own inimitable style. The other may be posted tomorrow as a Saturday bonus... if the fancy takes you that way, that is.
Back to today. Here, I'm asking the question of Mum or Dad (I can't quite remember which), but Julie buts in with her own answer. To be honest, it's much better than the one on the card...

(a little note for our international friends; In case you didn't know, Pedigree Chum is a popular brand of dog food over here in Britain. Unfortunately, things change and it seems the company had the temerity to streamline their name to the mono-worded 'Pedigree'. Boo, hiss etc etc. There's a pic of one of the original cans below as proof.)

ps... the real answer, as you probably know, was 'Icebergs'.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Northern England; that last bastion of Communism...

Hello and welcome to Half-way Day!

Once again, we will be revisiting that weekend that was only a couple of days ago in reality but is already apparently a distant memory... Well, a distant memory to most, but we have a few reminders of a great little weekend, courtesy of Julie, Dad and a game or two of Trivial Pursuit. Julie isn't involved this time, it's just me, Dad and Nadia Comaneci. Stop it! It's nothing like that at all - in fact, I had to Google the name, just to make sure I had the right person in mind when I was typing this out. I'll tell you what; I know I had this mental image of her as a successful Olympic gymnast, but blimey - that's LOT of gold medals... (take a look at the Wiki page to see for yourself). Actually, some of the stuff Nadia has done more recently is more impressive to me, especially the charity work regarding muscular dystrophy.
Anyway. We're not interested in any of that are we? Of course not; all you lot care about is how such a talented woman fits in with me and my father... Hmm... I could have phrased that better, couldn't I? Oh well, the best thing to do is just jump right in with the Gem and see how we progress from there. I'll ask the question, shall I?

My reply to this was, "No, it wa.. wait, what??"
Obviously, Ms Comaneci was born in Romania. Well, I say 'obviously', but Dad seemed to have been a little confused. Or perhaps he was just being a little silly.

(by the way, I phrased the question as I did because the questions were printed in 1985 and I wasn't sure if Ms Comaneci had passed away since then.)

Monday, 24 October 2011

How the Dodo really went extinct.

We had my folks down to say this weekend gone and had a great time. Lots to catch up on, things to discus and talk about generally. Food was eaten, both at home and in a restaurant, and that too was very enjoyable.
However, all this pales into insignificance when we get the board games out.
Long-time followers of this site will know that the combination of Julie and the games Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit are particularly good for providing us with entertainment beyond the original intent. Then too, if you include my father AND alcohol... Well, now.
With that in mind, this week is going to be mining the rich vein of Gems found during the course of this weekend, and we'll begin with a question asked by my father.

Imagine the scene; Reading out questions can be thirsty work. I have just finished asking my mother a series of long questions and am rewarding myself with a nice long gulp of refreshing water (yes, water). It's my turn to be asked a question, so Dad pulls a card from the box and reads out the following...

Seeing the question has provoked an entirely unexpected response, Dad breaks off. By this time though, I am having serious trouble breathing, let alone actually swallowing the water in my mouth, my mother is laughing hysterically at me (so much for sympathy there...). Julie, on the other hand isn't quite sure what's going on. Something's not quite right, but she can't put her finger on it...
Eventually, I manage to swallow the water and, after some deep breathing, establish that Dad had actually meant to read out 'much-lamented'.
Who'd have thought that the poor Dodo hadn't been hunted to extinction after all, be had been mass-killed by a fleet of steam rollers?

Mind out for that stea... oh...never mind...

Friday, 21 October 2011

Julie vs the telesales people.

You know them. The people who call at awkward times, initially claiming they don't want any money from you - but that they have a fantastic opportunity for you if you just sign away your souls...
Bugger off, will you? I've only just walked through the door. What I want is a nice hot cup of tea and a comfy chair with a little light music to help me out of my workplace-induced foul mood. What I've apparently got is you. Bugger off, will you?

If this is familiar to you, then today's Gem should warm the heart quite nicely. Like the example above, Julie had not long walked through the front door yesterday when the phone rang. She picked it up and said, "Hello?" only to hear a busy silence in return. This, as we know very well, is the sure sign of an unwelcome call-centre. Sure enough, there was a hurried clatter, and Julie was hailed by the unwelcome sound of an American telesales woman, keen on earning her bonus. Sorry dear, but you're not getting any bonuses from this house. In fact, all you're getting from Julie is a delightfully off-the-wall Gem to confuse the bejaysus out of you.

Let me clarify something here; right Julie's reply, there was a brief moment of wordless confusion. Followed by the click-burrrr as the freshly baffled telesales woman ended the call.
I don't know about anyone else, but I reckon we should get Julie to run for some parliamentary position, if not make her President-for-life of the whole world.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Slightly unsightly kitty-cats.

Today is a guest spot courtesy of the youngest daughter of one of my friends - you haven't met this young lady before, but I'm wondering if today is an indication of Gems to come...

Most of us have visited an optician in the last year or so. Isn't it amazing how the test seems to incorporate another new aspect, either some new, dazzling gadget or something that will cause you great discomfort (I'm sure there is no real need for those damn puffs of air, despite what that berk in the lab coat says...). For children, the test is set up a little differently. After all, the average child can't be expected to sit still for ages and put up with the indignities that we adults have been used to since we started working. Even the eye chart is more interesting. All we get are some random letters that decrease in size to eye-wateringly small lines. No, our darling kiddies get this instead.

Isn't that a lot more interesting? If you think I'm making this up, take a look at this optician's site.
Even more interesting - entertaining, even - is the following exchange between the optician and my friend's youngest daughter.

Well, yes. That would do it.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Where's the whatnot?

Hello and welcome to another working week. Yeah, it's been that kind of day. Anyway, shall we have another little shuffle through the teetering stack of paper on my desk? If nothing else, I can start throwing away some of the ones that have been used. Now, what shall we do, what will we find... hmmm searching, seeking, looking and hunti.. aha - this one appears to be particularly apt...

This one is dedicated to everyone in a long-term relationship. In fact I would go so far as to say this applies to parents and children too. You see, when you live with someone for a long time, you get used to them and vice-versa. Invariably, this will lead to a certain relaxed approach to things, including language. As comedian Lee Evans once noted, women seem to have a mysterious place, the knowledge of which is prohibited to men and boys. This place is called 'Side'. His argument runs thus, if a husband calls to his wife asking where the car keys are, she will say, "they're on the side". Which (bleep) side? There's dozens of them!
However, if two women have the same exchange, the answer is normally, "oh, so they are, thanks." In the meantime, the husband is stood there like a lemon wondering what the hell just happened.*

Julie is even more exclusive. Not only am I not permitted to know where something is hidden, I'm not even allowed to know what it is I'm supposed to be helping her find...

Um, no love. I don't think I do.

*Lee Evans tells it much better, naturally.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Say hello to Aggie Beeblebrox

I have a stack of paper scraps here on my desk - all containing hastily-scribbled comments and observations from my lovely wife. The thing is, as the stack implies, Julie does tend to come out with a lot of Gems, far too many to keep up with unless we post daily (and that's not happening, unless Julie posts one or two herself. Yeah. Not happening). Unfortunately, such an embarrassment of riches means that, unless I've managed to capture a few details at the time, all we have is a random comment with zero context.
We all know that any innocent phrase taken out of context can appear to be inappropriate at the least. With a Gem, it seems that the reverse is true. I now have a load of what were at the time wildly odd and hilarious comments - sadly now merely odd.
So, here I was, leafing through a load of near-indecipherable scribbles (my handwriting is appalling at the best of times, and trying to jot something down while I'm laughing is an exercise in futility), when I came across this following exchange:

Oh, and if you don't know who Zaphod Beeblebrox is - shame on you! Read Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy NOW! Alternatively, have a look at this pic and click the link.

Have a great weekend, folks!


ps - In case you didn't understand this post's title, click on THIS LINK about marbles.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Bonus post: Some customers are... "special"...

I like trawling the web for fun stuff and there are a few sites I go back to quite regularly. High on the list is Not Always Right. I have featured a post from the site before - just click on the tab 'not always right' at the bottom of this post and it'll show you all the so-tabbed posts.

Today, we have someone who doesn't seem to be able to make the connection between certain deals and the appropriate days of the week...

Oh deary me.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Blackpool has a secret...

If you're British, you will have heard of Blackpool. If nothing else, you will know if for one or two specific reasons; Blackpool Tower and Blackpool Illuminations, both of which can be seen below.

While vaguely reminiscent of Las Vegas (which it so badly would like to be), it is a tad more down-market than that famous city. Mostly, Blackpool is visited by the less affluent members of British society and now has a bit of a reputation for being the holiday destination for chavs and their extended families. Mostly so they can get absolutely hammered and not remember anything of the few days they stay in the town. Needless to say, it's not first on my list for places to go and relax for a long weekend.
There are a few other important details to remember about Blackpool. One is its population. For a seaside town and holiday resort in the North of England, Blackpool is BIG. I mean, while it still is not classed as a city by British standards, the population density is amazing. According to Wikipedia, there are currently 142,900 people living there, in an area which makes it the fourth most densely populated area in England and Wales.
For more information, read the Wiki.

Oh, yes; I nearly forgot. Another important thing to remember is that Blackpool is on the West coast of England. Isn't that right, Julie?

You mean, when did the 4th most densely populated town in England and Wales move itself brick-by-brick 150 miles across The Peak District (popularly known as The Spine of England - for good reason) to be a little closer to Ireland?
Oh, right.

Monday, 10 October 2011

It's not me, it's you. And you, you, you and you.

In those conversations that follow moments of complete Julie-related bafflement, we're often found to be discussing the very nature of those moments. Yeah, I know; not exactly a sensible thing to do, exposing myself once more to the madness... The thing is, I am one of those people that likes to know the origins of things. How did that word or phrase come about? Who first came up with the idea of milking a cow and what did he think he was doing? Why the hell did a fossilised sea creature end up half-way up a mountain?

Of course, I realise that such knowledge brings its own risks, and delving into the raison d'être behind any of Julie's Gems carries the possible result of further headf... er... confusion. Certainly, you wind up facing a brick wall and unable to go any further...

Well, that stopped it dead...

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Saturday bonus - Outnumbered special

There's something I've been meaning to do for a while now. A little while ago, we posted a guest slot featuring the daughters of a friend (have a look HERE for more) and I used a picture of a cute girl to illustrate the Gems. What some of you may not be aware of though, is that the girl is not a complete unknown...
Read on...

For non-Brits, there is a TV programme known as Outnumbered, a sit-com featuring a family of two parents and their three kids. The thing is, the kids are young. OK, so one is a teenaged lad (15), but the other two are only eleven (boy) and nine (girl). The nine year old girl, Karen is the source of most of the show's appeal, being a little too young to take in trivial things like scripts... Then again, that was pretty much the idea when the show was created. There is some scripting, but otherwise, there is a strong improvisational element - and this is just as well, because sometimes, the kids - especially the young girl - will do or say something that isn't strictly what had been rehearsed. Take, for example, this conversation between Karen and her mother about the differences between men and women...

ps - The ages I gave for the children were correct for the first series. What? You thought I was under the impression the girl in the picture was nine? Gimme a break.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Thank Frunchie it's Criday!

Apologies for the title - it's a spoonerism of a popular advertisement catchphrase - courtesy of Julie, naturally. However, it's not purely because today happens to be that glorious day (yes, it HAS been a rough week at work - could you tell?).

One day last week, Julie and me had been shopping and were crossing the car park, discussing whether to catch a bus or to walk. From the car park, we had a good view of the road and therefore of the bus that passed along it - accompanied by a choice oath from my beloved.
"Never mind," I said, "we didn't want that bus anyway. It was a double decker and they're usually the 51, the one that turns off partway down the road."
"The 55 is sometimes a double decker," Julie pointed out.

However, all this talk of double deckers gave me an idea for a quick joke. As you'll see, quick as I may have been, I was positively lethargic compared to Julie's reply.

You may notice I wasn't too upset by Julie's one-upping of me. As far as I am concerned it was a brilliant comeback, and far swifter in its conception than my original, terribly unsubtle gag.
We were talking about it a short while later, while waiting for a (different) bus...

Gah! She did it again!!


An apology
It occurs to me that this may be a rather Brit-centric joke, so in the interest of international understanding, here is a picture of some of the chocolate bars made by Cadbury.

Hopefully, in that stack, you can see the bars Flake, Wispa and - of course - Double Decker.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

It's not the cow that's mad.

Happy Half-way Day, folks! Two more days left to the weekend, and it's never seemed so far away... Ah well.

Julie's taking a break today. Instead, I have a Gem from a friend's mother. J's mum generally denies this ever happening, but it's one of those silly little things that has passed into family legend that is generally never as funny to people not in the know or there at the time (just don't ask me about apple strudel, OK?). This one is different - it's pretty damn hilarious despite not knowing J's mum or the precise details.
This is not to say I do not have any background for you.

It seems that, while at a country show, J, her mum and family were passing through the area set aside for cattle. They had passed a few breeds, when J's mother saw one she recognised. Although her criteria for breed identification seems to be somewhat on the shaky side...

Uh... yes. Because all the other ones looked like chickens and horses...

Apparently, J dropped back a few paces out of sheer embarrassment, while the farmer to whom the cow belonged simply stared at her mother in utter disbelief.
I wonder why?

Monday, 3 October 2011

A meaty slice of carrot cake.

Julie, by her own admission, isn't an adventurous cook. Much of it is down to her upbringing; her family always went for burgers and potatoes, sausages and chips, etc etc. The exception to this was a massive fondness for a roast dinner and a penchant for fruit cakes. Julie has picked this up brilliantly and makes a fruit cake which is requested whenever my folks come to visit. Considering my Mum's cooking and baking skills, this is high praise indeed.
Mum's cooking isn't haute cuisine, nouvelle cuisine or even Gordon Ramsay (for which we are all grateful), but she likes to have a go at most things. In her time, she has cooked everything from steaks all the way to a full Chinese banquet in lieu of a traditional Christmas dinner. Well, everyone gets fed up with turkey after a while, don't they? My mum's specialities are a corking sherry trifle and a lasagne that is so popular, my sister requested two dishes of it as part of her day-after-the-wedding party. I would have said it was funny to see everyone not in the know watching the scrum for a piece of it, but I wouldn't know. I was too busy elbowing someone out of the way.

Back to Julie. As I say, I do like a roast meal cooked by her; the roast spuds are usually pretty damn good. And the cake? Well, you know of that already. However, don't bother asking for herbs or spices in anything. That side of things will be down to me. While Julie likes the taste of them, she doesn't quite have the confidence to experiment herself; the best she will usually manage is a healthy dose of Worcestershire Sauce. Usually this is great - but not in porridge (don't ask). If you ask Julie about her culinary skills, she will usually sum it up this way...

In other words, don't bother asking Julie to get with the fussy green bits and wotnot. Let her bake a cake - she's happy then. (Admittedly, sausages aren't that difficult, but when I do them, I like to get a decent sausage, not a meat-flavoured loaf. My fussiness throws her off)