Monday, 30 January 2012

Julie and the great platypus debate

Cyfarchion o Gymru! I'm in Cardiff today, on another part of the second Spikeyboy tour. And yet - I'm still managing to update, despite not having a laptop or smartphone. Ain't I good to you? Then too, there was the fact I really needed to get this Gem/set of Gems up and ready fairly quickly, or else they would lose relevance.

On Friday, Julie's Gems introduced you to a lateral-thinking young chap by the name of Scott. Apparently innocently, Scott likened the object of his friend's affections to a platypus, in that she too was unique. The thing is, what with all the different approaches by various people to this subject, all making their own Gems, I felt there wasn't room to add a photo of the poor animal, and instead gave a short description and a link to its Wiki-page.
As it turns out, this may have been a serious oversight on my part, as Julie only took away the sketchiest of ideas of what a platypus looks like. Then again, considering just how much material I came away with, it may have been the ultimate blessing in disguise. You see, Julie had read the post and was wondering about the platypus's appearance...

I mean, seriously. I'm sure I said 'mammal' when I described it last time... didn't I?

Er.. what? Time for a little comparison, methinks.

A giant tortoise - with a human for some scale.
Two platypuses - being held by a human. For scale.
So - what do you say to that, Julie?

Seriously?? Surely you can't get any worse..?

We were talking about all the above while I let my pen cool down, and as I was reading them out so Julie could also have a giggle (believe me, she does laugh at herself, too), Julie asked me what the difference in appearance was, and what I objected to, concerning her defining common point. When I said that while platypuses may be fairly low to the ground, a high-domed shell is one of the major features of a giant tortoise. Sadly, one of Julie's defining features is a general unwillingness to let go of an idea.

Uh... what? Um.. I suppose you have a point, love, but I think the animal protection societies might come down on you like a ton of bricks...
Back home, Julie was determined to make her point and was busy googling images of platypuses and tortoises. After a slight confusion thanks to a rogue picture of an echidna (also a monotreme), Julie felt satisfied she had been vindicated.

On the other side of the table, I gave her The Look and reached for my pen once more. When I went around to have a look, it turned out, Julie was mixing up tortoises for turtles. To avoid yet more animal-related shenanigans, I avoided the matter completely, by giving her a helpless look and walking away.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Admirable cross-species logic.

As the title implies, this Gem involves logic, rather than the lack of it. However, as you are probably well aware, logic, when applied by certain people (politicians, people who deal in statistics, children, Julie), can be equally off-putting. And, when applied expertly, completely baffling.
Today's Gem - or, I should say, the first part of it, comes courtesy of a conversation between two friends of the daughter of a friend of mine.
I'll try that again.
At school, one day, Scott and a friend of his were talking about a certain female acquaintance, one who was held in much high esteem by Scott's friend.

And Scott does have logic firmly on his side. In case you are unaware, the duck-billed platypus (or Ornithorhynchus anatinus) is an Australian mammal, but one with very curious attributes. It is one of very few animals classed as 'monotremes', while literally translates as 'one hole'. you see, unlike most mammals, monotremes have only one hole for evacuation of waste and reproductive processes. Not only that, but they also lay eggs, rather than giving birth to live young. This means that these odd creatures represent an extremely old part of mammalian evolution, showing us a spot somewhere between reptiles and true mammals. They're also somewhat venomous and are capable of giving an unwary human some real discomfort.
When this story was related to me, I laughed and immediately declared it worthy of appearing here. My young friend then spoke to Scott, giving him the good (?) news.

Pretty insistent, isn't he? Mind you, I'm not too sure about his life ambition. I wouldn't mind being there when he tells his careers master what he wants to be. The look on the guy's face ought to be worth the travel costs alone.
Of course, Julie agrees with Scott, expressing it in her own inimitable manner.

Logical, if not entirely eloquent, love.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

When you walk in the room

“I can see a new expression on my face
I can feel a strange sensation taking place
[blah, blah, blah]
Every time that you.. walk in the room

Well, I can guarantee there was a new expression on MY face when I walked into the kitchen only to hear my darling wife utter these words;

So very glad I had, moments before, heard the microwave *ping* as it announced Julie's meal had been cooked. Nevertheless, I still hastily assembled a carefully blank expression before discreetly making sure what the hell she was talking about.
Yes, it was  her food.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Stop making sense (part II)

Picture this - we're having a conversation, when Julie seamlessly slips into a logic-crunching ramble-a-thon. Silly me, I try and work out what she's saying and I begin to question what is being said. Unfortunately, the very definition of 'rambling' means that the flow is nigh-on unstoppable. Suddenly, I find I am saying things like "but...", "hang on..." and "you what?" at an increasing rate. Eventually, Julie becomes tired of my interruptions...

What the hell is there I can say to that?? To be honest, I don't think even 'yes, dear' or 'no, dear' would work...

Friday, 20 January 2012

Spike, the lazy lovefool

It was a bit quiet at work today. Well, I say that, but I was was boxing posters for more than half the day. Yeah, thrilling, or what? At one point (don't ask me when, the day was all a blur), I decided to send my wife to tell her those three little words - with a small twist of humour.

Julie, however, was definitely on the ball.

Yes ma'am!
So much for romance! To be fair to Julie, though, she did soften the blow with a final 'lol!'.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Scrabble: a kind of kindly killing.

There are two board games that Julie and myself particularly enjoy playing together. One, as you well know from various (often alcohol-fuelled) posts on here, is Trivial Pursuit. The other one is that paragon of word games, Scrabble. There have been a few Scrabble-related posts on here, but not as many, and most of those are thanks in part at the very least to my father. If you feel the need to refresh your memory on these, then you can look in the tag/label list somewhere in that column on the right for 'Scrabble', 'Dad', or 'Dad and Julie'. I especially recommend having a look at the latter, because when those two get together, it's almost like spoken jazz - and often as unfathomable...

Dad wasn't around for the most recent game, sadly, but Julie did rather well all on her own - I managed to get down several Gems, but had to let a few of the more rambling ones slip by. Not only that, but Julie also managed to get a score of 70 points on one go - and that's not through putting all her letters down. It was just a good word in a good place.
My apologies to those of you who do not play the game, but those who do will know that that score is a decent little result.
However, the game was not without its tense moments...

I wouldn't mind, but she has the nerve to say I'm competitive.

Monday, 16 January 2012

A soupcon of soup and sun*

*Already, I have to admit to cheating a little with the title, all for the sake of a snappy tagline - read on for more details.
Oh yes, and while we're on the subject of cheating, judging by the viewing figures for my confessional bonus post yesterday, it would seem that a lot of you were expecting me to finally admit that I have been casting a great slur upon my wife's character and made up everything that I've posted.

So sorry to have disappointed you.

A few days ago, Julie was feeling hungry, but not hungry enough to be cooking a proper meal - and that's for the size as much as not being bothered with the hassle. After a brief rummage in the cupboard, she came out with a small microwaveable snack meal.

As you can see, it's most definitely NOT a soup.
In it went, and a short while later, PING! it was ready.
Julie must have been hungry, because, as I was putting some bread into the toaster, I heard her exclaim in pain.

That'll teach me to try and be sarcastic...

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Sunday Bonus - Spike's confession.

Hi folks; hope you're having a nice weekend so far. The weather here is bright and a little chilly, but not nearly as cold as it was yesterday. I know time's effect have been felt more in recent years, but for me to have a three-layer day? Unthinkable!

Anyhow. I imagine there are a lot of you that feel I'm poking far too much fun at my poor wife, and that Julie doesn't deserve all the flack I'm giving her. Well, sometimes, that may be true, but for by and large the vast majority of the time, any attention that she draws is entirely deserved. Those who were caught up in her little display last night on Facebook will gladly (and with great glee) testify to Julie's awesome ability to pep up a conversation. Admittedly, we had been rolling along at a swift pace with many a silly comment and/or pun. But then Julie suddenly arrives with this.

Of course, when you just arrive out of the blue and come up with a complete non sequitur like that, people will carry on for a moment before their brain suddenly twigs what was said.

And then it snowballed from there... As threads go, that one was pretty damn epic.
Back to me. Like I said, many folks think I am essentially picking on Julie.
Then too, many of the same people wonder just how I can cope with being married to her (yes, they're the less-kind people).
Simple. I'm completely nuts myself. Witness this conversation between myself and an inno... er... relatively innocent young friend.

I should point out at this point, that my friend is a member of an archery club, and they frequently have meets where they have early-morning breakfast bonanzas, with roaring log fires in the forest and eat lots of bacon and/or sausage buns (or baps). Being a vegetarian (that eats eggs, go figure), Maddeh has a bap filled with eggs - hence the 'eggybap'.The 'shooting part should be obvious.
My twisted mind just took the odd word and took it places it shouldn't be allowed. For that, I apologise to Maddeh.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Saturday Bonus: Julie writes the Gems

Ah, Facebook, that repository of the weird and wonderful. As a good example, here's an exchange between myself, Julie and her cousin, Les - with our commencing commenter, Pierre. The original post has absolutely no bearing on the comment stream, oddly enough, except that at one point it mentioned this site..
Take it away, Pierre!

In one sense, love, you were never on this planet, but I'm so very glad you are still here.
By the way - that bit where I was 'literally raging'? That was because I was frustrated I had no way to get down all the amazing and hilarious stuff that was coming from the talk. I am definitely saving up for that voice recorder..

Friday, 13 January 2012

Clearly in the dark about lightships.

Julie was on form today. Seriously; it was one of those days where I was really wishing I had a voice recorder to get all those little bits I couldn't quite hear properly (even though I heard enough to get the gist of it).
Things were slow at work, so I decided to take a half-day. As it turned out, Julie had finished work and arrived home a couple of minutes before me, so, after a spot of lunch and a natter, we thought we would go for a stroll, seeing as how it was such a nice day. Really nice, in fact. Cold, but really nice. Beautiful blue sky with just a few wispy clouds and not much of a breeze. Like I said, though - bloomin' cold.

Following a spot of tea and a bite to eat in one of our favourite cafés, we wandered up the road towards the seafront. After we crossed the road,* the wind was a tad stronger and the chill bit a little more, so we zipped up our coats to the top. While Julie was sorting herself out, I looked out to sea and saw something that made me realise just how clear the weather was.

This is the woman who has lived in Eastbourne all her life. Mind you, it turns out I was a little incorrect in my terminology. Until today, I had no need to research the lightship. Julie had told me it was out there, and that was all I needed to know. However, a search for images of an 'Eastbourne lightship' turned up precious little, and much of that seemed to have very little to do with the sea, let alone big lights that warn shipping of dangerous areas. I mean come on - what the hell was a picture of a cricket pitch doing in that lot? Eventually, I found something that seemed to fit what I had been seeing from a distance, but found it was a lighthouse.
Eh? Oh yes. A renewed search found a plethora of pictures of the lighthouse - here's one such photo.

Yep - that's Eastbourne & Beachy Head in the distance.
As it turns out, the lightship had been retired back in the 1970s and been replaced by this thing.
Anyhow, back to Julie, whose eyes (and memory) had suddenly decided to work. I suppose it helps if you're looking the right way...

My glasses??
Erm... yes, dear.

That's it - have a great weekend, folks!


Considering it's Friday 13th, we had some brilliant timing every time we needed to cross a road - not once did we even have to pause before crossing a previously busy road.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

My prerogative... to have a sex change.

On Monday, Julie asked me what particular Gem I would be posting. I expressed some surprise, as I had already told her it was going to be the one about the buddleja 'buddleing again'. Julie passed off this lapse of memory with an airy wave of her hand and suggested I could post something different.
I protested this - after all, I had partway written the script for it in my head. Julie, however, was not to be deterred.

That is Wednesday sorted indeed.
Tata for now and see you all on Friday!

Monday, 9 January 2012

Oh, that bloody buddleja

We have a buddleja (or buddleia, if you prefer) in our front garden. It self-seeded, which was quite handy - as far as I'm concerned, that is. There's something of a difference of opinion regarding this 'butterfly bush' (so known because its blooms attract insects and butterflies in abundance). I'm all for it - helping butterflies and other pollinating insects is a good thing as far as I'm concerned - plus, I think it's really quite an attractive plant.

It's a hardy plant too - we've cut it down at the start of a winter season and it manages to grow back the following spring. This year, however, health matters have got in the way of gardening and both front and back (which is now a shrine to cat waste, sadly) are in fairly desperate need of attention. This has meant that the buddleja in the front, while I managed to lop off some of the main stems, has been allowed to carry on doing what it does best.

Annoying Julie.

You see, Julie is all for the bush looking pretty and attracting pretty things, but she's not so fond of it being so
close to the house - the windows in particular. Unfortunately, the front garden is not large, so there's not much option for the poor thing there. It doesn't help that the window cleaner uses it as an excuse to not clean that part of the window.
Julie likes things neat and tidy and in their own place.
I like nature to generally run its course and show its own beauty. Apart from the damn cats. They can take their own aspect of nature and let it run elsewhere. Preferably in their owners' gardens.
So, you see, there is a small conflict of interest.

With that in mind, may I present this particular exchange, one which took place as we were just leaving the house to go shopping. One which begins with me offering a gentle, humorous warning to Julie.

Out came the notepad...

Saturday, 7 January 2012

You are locked out of Reality. Please try again.

These days, many of us seem to spend far too much of our time surfing the web. And yes, I do include myself in that. What with social sites, MMRPGs (online games where you play with and against other people - such as World of Warcraft), and... er... pictures <coughs uneasily>,  more and more of us are becoming apparently addicted to the internet.
With that in mind, I'd like to share with you, if I may, a conversation between myself and two friends, one of which is the daughter of another friend. Both spend a lot of their time on computers, although the daughter seems to have lost the link between the internet and the real world...

Just a hint. The password is usually "doorknob". Use that and you'll be amazed how many times the door will open.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Partial intelligence, partial calming.

Once upon a time, we used to have a car - only a 1 litre Vauxhall Corsa, but it did the trick. I had it from new and eventually had to give it up for scrap after over 100,000 miles, when the cost of repairing it finally became too much.
I still miss ol' Voxy.

Anyway, enough of the nostalgia.
Well, not quite. Julie has a friend, Sue, who she used to work with. The thing is, Sue had/has a reputation for being a bit dappy. She's forgotten her keys so many times, we've lost count and I can assure you that she has a most ... inventive place to store her false teeth (not a complete set - just a plate with a few which replace some lost in an accident). I can also assure you that not many women can lay claim to have accidentally bitten their own boobs.

Yes, you read that right. don't ask.

Moving swiftly on, there were a few times we were in the position of being able to give Sue a lift to one place or another. On this particular occasion, she wanted to visit a friend in Bexhill [On-Sea], so we offered to drive her there. As you can imagine, having Julie and someone like Sue in the same car should be a sure-fire way of hearing a humdinger of a conversation. I was not disappointed.

As we drove along a straight stretch of road, Sue noted the fact that the road seemed to be a little on the rough side. "Here we go," I thought.
However, Sue caught me out, "perhaps it's a traffic calming measure?" she wondered. "It's a long, straight road and maybe they wanted people to go slower."
"OK," I thought, "that wasn't too bad, after all."
If only Sue had left it at that.

You know you're in trouble when Julie starts howling with laughter at your silliness....

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

One of these things is/isn't/is like the other (huh?) - PART 2.

Every family - or, indeed, any group of people - has them. In-jokes. You know the ones; the merest hint of the punchline will cause a cheers and a laugh from other family members, but only confusion from outsiders. For example, when we're out, we may see a postbox and it's almost a race to to joyfully call out "Postbox!" first.
See what I mean? You're all sitting there thinking, "WTF? What's so funny about a postbox??" Well, as with every other in-joke, the answer is simply, 'you had to be there'.

One other example, and it's something of a family classic, dating back to when I was just a kid, is the 'Apple Strudel incident'.
I'll cut the story short - very short: When we were on a family holiday, I finally got around to asking my mother a question that had been bugging me for some time, "Mum - what's apple strudel?" For the next ten minutes or so, my mum set off on a rambling description of a foodstuff. Since I had no idea what a strudel was, she was trying to use a physical description. Every now and then, my mum paused, looked at me, and asked, "You have that [pictured in your head]?" and waited for me to nod before continuing.
Eventually, she finished describing this foodstuff and I had it crystal clear in my head what she had been trying to get across. Unfortunately, she ended all this with, "You've got that in your head, yes?" nod "Well, it's nothing like that!"
Well, thanks, Mum.
Ever since then, any situation where we've tried to describe something and have failed miserably is met with a joyful cry of "Apple strudel!"
>ahem< I guess you had to be there.... (shuffles feet, all embarrassed).

OK - time to change the subject.
As you may have gathered from our Xmas message video, we have a fondness for hedgehogs and have collected a few 'hog-related nick-nacks and cuddly toys. We're usually on the look-out for a new one, but only if it's different from any of the hundred or so we already have, so when we're out and about, we'll often make scouting for hedgehogs our priority.
One day, Julie spotted one in a shop and called me over to have a look. Unfortunately, as I pointed out, it may have been very cute, but we had one that was very similar to it. Julie objected, in her own inimitable fashion.

...yes dear.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Sing the song, but PETA and the RSPCA have been informed.

Just a quick bonus Gem for you today; I'm back at work tomorrow, which means we'll probably be back on the standard posting rate of Monday/Wednesday/Friday. There will be occasional bonus posts, but nothing like the frequency we've had over the last couple of weeks.

Once again, Julie has been singing to herself. Once again, Julie hasn't been sticking to the lyrics.

The awful thing is that the second line actually scans perfectly for the song and has thus now replaced the real one in my head. I just hope to hell nobody asks me to sing it, because I know which version I'm likely to sing if I'm not concentrating too much...

Monday, 2 January 2012

Personal put-downs on public personalities

Hello and happy 2012 to you!
How did your New Year celebration go? Did you have a good time? Can you even remember?
If you're like us, you gave up going out for a celebration, because it's so damn expensive - especially the post-midnight taxis. Instead, we curled up on the sofa with a drink or two and watched Jools Holland's Hootenanny. If you're not familiar with the show, allow me to elucidate. Basically, it follows a similar pattern to the root programme [Later.... with Jools Holland], in that there is usually a wide variety of musical artists taking turns in playing songs. Like I said, variety is the key, the programme is noted for showcasing rock, RnB, folk, pop, jazz, blues and even world music - often all in the same show. Another feature of the programme is that artists are encouraged to leave their comfort zones and sing/play something completely different to them. For example, this year's Hootenanny had Cyndi Lauper performing her hit, 'Time after time' in a gentle folk manner, having earlier sang 'Girls just want to have fun' in a completely over-the-top reggae-fied fashion. Very entertaining.

Other acts this year included Aloe Blacc, The Vaccines, Sandie Shaw, Buddy Greco, Jessie J, Imelda may and the wonderfully named Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three. On top of all that, you still have Jools Holland's Rhythm and Blues Band, featuring the huge-voiced Ruby Turner and Ska trombone legend Rico Rodriguez.* Go on, Google or Youtube any of them and watch some clips - especially of the Hootenanny itself if you can. I can guarantee there'll be some thing for you there.
Of course, with such a wide variety of people to watch, Julie had a field day with her Gems. Are you ready? There's a major hit of Gems coming your way right now. Sit back, read and enjoy.
First up was Betty Wright, an amazing singer of superb pedigree, and not a small amount of experience in the business. Then too, there was her hair. Wow. That's a LOT of hair, isn't it, Julie?

Yes, that's Betty in the picture, but I swear the 'fro was even larger on New Year's Eve.
Then came Aloe Blacc. I love his voice, but - like many, I imagine - I wondered about the spelling of his surname. Julie was also wondering about his name, as it turned out. Although, not in quite the same way as me...

Ba-boom tish.
Sheesh. I have to admit, that one got her The Look. Not that she was abashed or ashamed at all. In fact all it did was make her laugh even harder and inspire her to new heights/depths. Take this next Gem, where Jools was introducing Mr Blacc by saying how well things have been going for him.

Some way into the programme, after some excellent sets (Aloe Blacc) , a couple of mediocre ones (The Vaccines) and an utterly WTF performance from Sandie Shaw (Still barefoot after all these years!), there finally came one of the performers I had been waiting for - Caro Emerald. Seriously, if you haven't heard her, you need to do so immediately. Stop reading his now and go find something by her. This will still be here.
Welcome back. She's good, isn't she? Looks good too. I need to have a cold bath after watching her for too long. It's nice to see someone who doesn't think that the best look for a woman is stick thin, but has a bit of shapely meat on their bones (see also Adele). Julie, of course, put it a little differently.

So... all the rough bits have been smoothed out. Is that what you're saying, love? Yes... I can go along with that.
After all this, I can't very well leave you without a clip from the show, can I? To be honest, the main reason I hadn't before now is that I'm all-too aware that many of our international friends won't be able to watch the clips due to licencing issues. Tell you what - have a gander at the afore-mentioned Pokey Lafarge. They were this year's 'fun oddity that's still great entertainment' band.

*I'll be honest here - It's great to see Rico is still alive and willing to perform, but he's really struggling now, and the trombone isn't the lightest or easiest of instruments to play - and it showed.