Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Premature anticipation

A couple of weeks ago, we went to Canterbury for the day. It's a very impressive place, with many a fine building to admire. Obviously, there is the cathedral, but that is soooo passée. No, we took far more enjoyment from the old, old buildings that are still around. By far the most interesting of them was this one.

Tucked away, but only a short walk from the cathedral is this little gem. How perfectly bizarre and yet quintessentially English, wot?

For us, though, Canterbury is quite a drive away. With that in mind, it was decided that we would have to leave pretty early in the morning to make a decent day of it.
I'm not a morning person.
With that in mind, then, when Julie felt like being playful, I was not what you could call receptive...

Monday, 25 February 2013

The gall of the woman...

A few months ago, my mum visited one of her sisters, partly just to drop by, but also partly because of health issues. Last year wasn't a good one for our family when it came to health, what with one thing and another. Compared to a lot of the family, I am fairly distant, both physically and emotionally, so it was during a phone conversation with my mother a few days later that this came to light for me.

For British people in general and our family in particular (as a running joke), the weather is a strong topic for discussion. Therefore, most conversation openings between me and Mum will run along the lines of greeting, weather, health.
"Hi, Mum, what's the weather like up by you? How're you feeling today?"
Scintillating stuff, I know.

Now, I don't know about you, but I find that when you have chats with people you know very well and have done for a long time, you tend to develop a sort of conversational shorthand. You will also take verbal shortcuts which will baffle outsiders, yet will be patently clear to anyone in the know.
However, there is a subtle danger here.
If either or both of the people in the conversation are feeling a little tired or are being distracted by something or other, then even long-established cues may be missed and confusion will reign.
Take, for example, this snippet from my mother as she tells me of her visit to her sister.

Now, if you did the same as me, you read straight through that without blinking and then thought, "hang on a minute..."
Of course, my aunt wasn't suffering from a meteorological disorder, it was just that I had heard two separate elements of the conversation as one sentence. As it turned out, Jackie was only in for a check-up - she wasn't about to have a weather vane installed...

Saturday, 23 February 2013

World Book Night 2013 - teaser

Well, then. This is all rather nice. Yours truly is involved once more in that event promoting reading known as World Book Night.

That's all for now.

You wanted details?
That's a shame isn't it... hehehehe...

Friday, 22 February 2013

A brush with litigation

A quiet Sunday afternoon. The weather is dry but chilly and the wind isn't helping. Julie has to go to work in a couple of hours' time, so it's not worth going anywhere.
Sat in the front room, we have the gas fire going. However, since our house isn't what you could call well-insulated, we also have blankets over our legs. In addition to this, we are both drinking tea, in an attempt to warm up from the inside out. It's working, but only just.

I'm bunched up in my armchair, trying but failing to read a Philippa Gregory novel for my book club. If we have to read another novel set in the Tudor period, I'm going to cause serious harm to someone.
Julie, in her armchair, is poring over a sudoku puzzle, but she's getting bored. It doesn't help the chill of the room is getting to her, and she's shifting constantly beneath her blanket. Every now and then, Julie settles down and fills in another number or two on the grid, but then breaks off and stares vacantly out of the window.

There was a CD playing, some Seth Lakeman, but the album finished a while ago and neither of us can be bothered to get up and change or replay the disc. There is a hum coming from the compact disc player, but other than that, there is no sound in the room, apart from the occasion papery rustle from a book.

Into this comparative silence, Julie clears her throat and speaks.

(Dulux, obviously, being the paint manufacturer)

Uh... really? Well, thanks for letting me know...

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

No, no, yes-yes, no

Every now and then, Julie seems to go into Gem overdrive. Or, as she puts it, "I'm having a mad five minutes."
Most of the time, these 'MFMs' happen at home, towards the end of the day. Tiredness does play a large part, it has to be said, but there is also a strong case for arguing the side of 'winding down after work'. I can understand that. I mean, if you've been on the go all day, then you want to put your feet up, both literally and metaphorically.

However, Julie will sometimes have an MFM while we're out and about. These are the occasions when I have to be very quick about writing stuff down, because the Gems come out so fast, they almost pile into the back of each other.
Naturally, Julie gets a bit miffed about having to stop every few feet just so I can jot down the latest Gem, so when I called our walk to a halt last week, my darling wife decided to make a comment. Unfortunately, she got a tad confused and it sort of backfired...

To tell the truth, I'm not all that sure myself...

Monday, 18 February 2013

The price of prostitution

The other week, Julie alerted me to a bizarre little story in our local paper. Apparently, one of the care homes in our town, was reported to be allowing prostitutes in to... erm... allow the elderly gents some relief.

Wilfred Bramble as old man Steptoe.
(if you don't know Steptoe & Son, you should do)

It seems that the council-run Chasely home gets the ladies of the night in to service the ex-servicemen. It's a surprising story on many levels, not the least that it appears that the council is footing the bill for this. One thing I do know - after this, the waiting list is going to be hideously long. I wonder how many applicants will once again be lying about their age to enlist...

Julie, naturally enough, had her own questions. Given her understandably different viewpoint, she felt the need to ask questions about the prostitutes themselves.

Heh - nice one, love.
For more information on this story, read here.

Friday, 15 February 2013

The Birds of Time

(heh - sounds like a Doctor Who adventure, doesn't it?)

We have a nice pier in Eastbourne. In fact, considering the fiery fates of the pier in Hastings and West Pier in Brighton, the town and city either side of Eastbourne, it's doing rather well.

Yes, it needs a coat of paint, but it still has that essential Victorian seaside charm. Having said that, when we went past it last time, I noticed something wrong...

No, even Julie didn't know what that meant, either. However, as she said, "it sounds good, though, doesn't it?"

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Drink and drive responsibly

Walking home one day, I noticed a van parked by the pavement bearing this logo:

I thought (and still think) that this was an excellent idea. If you go out for the night and suddenly realise you have had a tad too much of the jolly juice, then you don't really want to be risking life, limb and licence by getting behind the wheel. Which is where this lot come in.

Naturally, this sparked off a conversation between Julie and myself about alcohol and the dangers of Driving Under the Influence.Normally, you would have the standard joke, "don't drink and drive, you'll only spill it." Not when Julie's around you won't...

No, Julie wasn't talking about making a phone call.

This is so very wrong on so many levels, it's hard to know where to begin...


Obviously, we don't condone drink-driving. If you're going to drink, don't drive, that's it. However, if you go out somewhere (in the UK) and find your night is suddenly full of alcohol, then please make use of Chauffeur Monkey.

Monday, 11 February 2013

A positively Pythonesque love life

It was a wet and windy winter afternoon. It's very possible that there is nothing as soul-sapping as living in a seaside town during the out-of-season months. Those few people that do venture out either dash everywhere, trying to stay dry. Or they shuffle along in a resigned manner, knowing that they're wet and likely to become even wetter.
In such weather, getting to work is unpleasant. If you don't have you're own transport, you have to hope that the bus shelter can protect you from the worst of the elements. And then you have to spend your shift in damp, uncomfortable clothing.

Yeah, we have a car.

I dashed to the car, pressing the button on the key on my way. Wet as it was, I just hoped I hadn't hit the button that locked it.
Behind me, Julie locked the front door. Turning to leave, she hesitated. The damn gutter was overflowing, sending a steady stream of rainwater onto the front path. Easy enough to dodge most times, but the wind was blowing the water back and forth. No matter which way you went, you just knew you were going to get a lump of water down the back of your neck.
Sure enough, as I dived into the driver's seat, I heard my wife make a sound of disgust, closely followed by a clang as the gate was hurriedly closed after her.

We sat in the car for a moment, looking out at the rain coursing down the windscreen. What a nasty day.
I hit the ignition, and the car rumbled into life. We reached for our seatbelts, and fumbled for the clasps at our sides; our coats kept getting in the way.
As we moved off, we reflected silently that it was a bloody miserable day to be going anywhere. But even then, going to work wasn't a pleasant thought.

Visibility was poor, what with the wind driving the rain straight onto my window - I could hardly see if there was traffic coming or not.
After driving for a while without speaking, Julie muttered, "horrible weather," and lapsed into silence once more. I laughed to myself, thinking of the Monty Python song 'Always look on the bright side of life'. I began singing an appropriate snippet, only to be interrupted by Julie.

...cheers, love.
(she was joking, by the way.)

Friday, 8 February 2013

The Weekly Wotnot Club

There's a pub near us that advertises a 'Monday Club'. Now, given that this pub isn't the most salubrious of drinking establishments, I would really rather not know what this club entailed. I wouldn't mind betting, however, that it doesn't involve a nice game of shove ha'penny. Shove broken bottle, perhaps.

Putting that aside, it's perhaps just as well we don't really want to go, as I'm not sure just when it takes place.
Well, I was.
But that was before Julie decided to put logic and sentence structure into a drug-crazed TARDIS and send the schedule bouncing around the space/time continuum like a rubber ball on steroids.

My head hurts...

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

The epitome of 'sickly sweet'

Humans are weird.
I know about the whaling industry. I know that certain cultures enjoy eating whale meat. I also know that the blubber is used for cosmetic purposes. What I  didn't  realise was that there was another whale product used in the cosmetic industry. Now, if you read the title above, then you've probably got an uneasy feeling what I might be referring to.
Yep. Whale vomit. Apparently, it's quite the thing for providing a nice, gentle scent to a perfume.

Great gobs of whale sick. Lovely.

Feeling nauseous yet?
Here's something else to tickle your gag reflex. Not only is cetacean puke (allegedly) nice to spray on your lady's face, it's also pretty damn expensive too. With a nickname of 'floating gold', you can imagine how much people are willing to pay for such a seemingly wondrous thing.
How fortunate, then, that Ken Wilman's dog has a good nose.

Having unearthed what they both thought to be a rock, they soon realised was something completely different. Here's the story.
When we were reading about this, me and Julie were both bemused at the lengths people will go to for vanity's sake. And then we found out that Mr Wilman had been offered 50,000 Euros for his find by a French company.
Really? How much??
And of course, it set Julie to thinking...

Blech... Please never bring that up... I mean, raise the topic again.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Deep doors

Generally, the main theme of this blog is one of gentle laughter at my wife's funny ways of discussing whatever happens to be on her mind. That's not to say, however, that she isn't capable of other 'mental settings'. Check, for instance, those posts I have tagged as 'zingers', 'win' and - just to prove that I'm not perfect - those labelled 'Spike's Slips'.
Not everything has to be about being witty, scathing or simply dappy, though. Julie and me do like to have sensible conversations, intelligent arguments and heartfelt discussions. Admittedly, they do often end up taking a verbal stumble, but the point remains that we do try our best.

Take yesterday. Sunday afternoon, sat in armchairs and reading. Occasionally looking out at the grotty weather and drinking tea. Julie put her book down and, putting her head to one side slightly, stared into space. After a moment, I asked her what she was thinking about...

That one deserved a smile and a hug.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Bog-standard listing

I love animals.
Well, apart from cats.
Unfortunately, a combination of lack of money, time to give the pet and our tenancy agreement's 'no-pets' clause means our house is animal-free.

Having spent some time recently with my mother and her Jack Russell, Toby, my desire for a permanent (non-human) companion has increased dramatically. It didn't help that a recent walk along the seafront in a rare day of dry winter sun featured a veritable horde of people - and their dogs. A lot were horrible mop-alikes with teeth, but there were enough of the sort that trigger my 'd'awwww' button.
After a while, and making sure there was nobody in earshot, I wailed out my desire to Julie.

OK. Forget the dogs. What on earth did that mean? Surely my wishlist isn't that full of shitty ideas?
No - it seems that Julie was imagining writing out the list on toilet paper, unravelling the roll as we add more desires to the list.
Now there's an image for you.