Friday, 28 February 2014

Fingers of a troll

The last time the two of us went to visit my family in Birmingham, it was for the Christmas break. Since then, I have been up there a few times, but Julie has had to stay behind. Partly due to work constraints, and partly because we couldn't take Roxy with us.

It's a long-standing joke, both between me and Julie and for my family as a whole, that no matter what pains any of us may take to remember everything we want to take on a journey, there will always be something forgotten. Normally, it's a minor thing, but I have been known to turn around to get my wallet...

On our Christmas visit, it was a decent enough journey. Even the infamous M25 was behaving itself.
The only problem with that, though, is that there is no traffic to moan about, and I have to concentrate that bit more.

I am very much a defensive driver; I assume that every other driver on the road is a idiot or a complete arsehole. After a fair amount of time driving since passing my own test, it seems to me that I have a pretty strong theory going, and as a result, I am forever looking around me and trying to second-guess cars that are two lanes away from me.

During these times of concentration, Julie's normal habit is to drift off to sleep. This time, however, was different.

It took a while, but I gradually became aware that Julie seemed to be repeatedly counting something off on both hands...

For miles afterwards, all I could think of was this scene from Bruce Almighty:

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Ewe have to be joking...

If you drive a particular journey often enough, it begins to feel like the distance has increased. Having the radio on, or music can help, as can sharing the journey with a companion. You can chat or play games such as I-spy or, as we often do, alphagames. However, even then, you will often find there are times when there is simply nothing to say and you just don't feel like playing any games. You're on a motorway, doing a steady 65mph, you and your companion have exhausted all the normal topics of conversation.

And you begin to zone out.

It's not the same as falling asleep, but it can be just as dangerous.

If I am on my own and I feel like I am slipping into The Zone, I make sure I have some upbeat music - rock, ska, pop, whatever - and crank up the volume to disguise my abysmal singing voice. If Julie is with me, then I try and come up with a speculative area for a conversation. Why? Because there is no way any answer my wife would come up with would be in any way dull. In fact, I will often be in danger of not being able to see because of laughing so hard...

On one journey, I felt my eyes unfocusing. Time to come up with a conversation starter. Hm. How about reincarnation?

Trust me when I say that the car was quiet for a little while following that - although that was mainly because I honestly couldn't think of anything to say...

This seems apt enough, though.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Born to be wheeled.

Neither me nor Julie can be described as being light on our feet. We're not hugely clumsy, but we are insufficiently agile that we don't like to invite disaster; skiing is right out, for example. The idea of throwing ourselves down the side of a mountain doesn't thrill us one bit. Even the relatively safer option of strapping wheels to our feet would be a bad idea. It's not that our sense of balance is poor - just our coordination. And luck.

Is no rat - is hamstaaaarrgh!

Living in Eastbourne, you will see quite a lot of people with roller blades, skateboards and scooters making their way up and down the prom. It's not so busy at this time of year (and the frankly pissy weather we have had for the last few months won't help), but when the warmer and drier months come round, you definitely need to keep an eye or two out for whizzing 'bladers.*

That said, some people make it look so easy and efficient as a means of getting around that we both have the occasional pang of envy and/or wistfulness. And then reality - and a strong dose of pragmatism - prevails.

* And then there are the cyclists, whom we have to be wary of all year round. They shouldn't be on the prom at all, and whiz right past and even over signs telling them not to, but it doesn't stop them. Not that anything is done about it.
Oh well. Have a video.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Pay (lots) to play

Anyone who knows me knows that I have an inordinate fondness for facts. Whether they be relevant to something in my life, or just useless trivia, I will usually read about it and think, "well I never." Among the Giles annuals and Pratchett books in my own personal library, there are a number of non-fiction books. Many are to do with natural history, but others will stray out into other sciences, language, history and even mathematics.

Yes, I am a word nerd.

For our wedding, we bucked a few trends; we made our own table centrepieces (with hedgehogs, of course), we insulted the registrar (link), and we made our own wedding favours, to be opened as the meal began. Intended to be something to help relative strangers strike up conversation with each other, we included, along with the ubiquitous sugared almonds, a few chocolate coins, a cheap toy such as you may find inside a Christmas cracker - and a folded piece of paper, upon which was written the following; a joke ("Two fish were in a tank. one said to the other, 'how do you drive this bloody thing?'") and a factoid, a little snippet to make people wonder.

To that end, books like this were invaluable.

Crammed with all sort of useless cra.. uh, information, this and others like it are fun reading. Especially when you are stuck in the smallest room in the house for a while...

I don't know which book it was, but one of my trivia books had a section on words that have been adopted into English from various other languages. And then proceeded to give us a literal translation of said word. For example...

Ba-dum TISH!

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

I thought our food bill was a tad large...

I was making us a cup of tea each the other day when I became aware that the fridge was making some impressive growling noises. It's not a patch on my mother's; we have often been confused  into thinking there is someone talking - or needs to find a toilet very, very soon. If not sooner.

It's obviously the cooling system at the back grumbling away, but I hope it doesn't mean trouble ahead.

Milk returned to the fridge, I took the teas into the lounge and passed Julie hers. Roxy glanced up and sighed, happy that we were all in the same room. I sat down and warmed my hands on the mug and then mentioned the noisy fridge.

Needless to say, Julie had an interesting theory...

It's an unsettling thought at best, and one I hesitated to google, in case I found some equally unsettling images. Fortunately, no Kyle Rayner-related nastiness emerged, but this was funny to me...

Monday, 10 February 2014

Oooo - just there!

Roxy, our rescue dog, is a very friendly girl - if a little reserved. She does love to be close to the ones she loves, and it's a rare morning that I wake up without a dog on my bed that wasn't there when I fell asleep. And given that Roxy is a solid bit of doggie, that should tell you something about how deeply and soundly I sleep.

One of Roxy's favourite situations is for us to be both on the sofa, with her in between us and getting attention from us both. She especially likes belly rubs.

Belly rub, please!
One evening recently, the three of us were on the sofa, watching something on TV. Well, me and Julie were. Roxy was too busy drifting off to sleep in a state of attention-induced euphoria.
I had the task of giving Roxy a headrub, while Julie was in charge of the belly rubs. Every now and then, Roxy would shift position slightly, so as to provide us with access to a particular area that she felt was lacking attention. Unfortunately, in Julie's case, this meant that her hand strayed into what would be uncomfortable territory, if Roxy had been human...

Friday, 7 February 2014

I'd rather crawl inside a tauntaun.

In line with British law (as seen in this Gem), we are good dog owners and don't leave dog poo for people to step in etc.

However, with the weather of late, it's a tad difficult to pick up dog poo with a flimsy little bag when the wind is doing its level best to rip said bag out of your hands and send it to the next county. Or country. We are lucky in that Roxy doesn't generally pull and is happy to stay where she is while we deal with the nasty stuff.

Another thing is that it's a bit nippy when you have wind, rain, and low temperatures combined. Especially when you had been wearing gloves up to that particular moment and now have to remove at least one to get the finger mobility needed.

Julie has managed to find a bright side to this, though.


*Just in case you don't get the relevance of the title....

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Long and wrong

The weather in the southern parts of Britain have not been what you could call clement lately. In fact, to paraphrase Robin Williams' character in Good Morning Vietnam, it has been (and apparently will be for at least a couple of weeks more) "wet and pissy with outbreaks of increasingly windy, wet and pissy."

(Real quote:
[imitating Walter Cronkite]
Adrian Cronauer: I just want to begin by saying to Roosevelt E. Roosevelt, what it is, what it shall be, what it was. The weather out there today is hot and shitty with continued hot and shitty in the afternoon. Tomorrow a chance of continued crappy with a pissy weather front coming down from the north. Basically, it's hotter than a snake's ass in a wagon rut.)

If you haven't seen that film, do so.

Back in Eastbourne, the weather continues to be windy enough to go straight through you, rather than bothering to go around. And, because it's that time of year in the northern hemisphere,* it's a tad on the chilly side. That means that driving is a little cool on the hands - until the heating warms up enough that the steering wheel doesn't try and give you frostbite.

Yes, I have gloves. Yes, I have been wearing them. After a while, when things are a bit warmer, I take the gloves off and, if Julie is with me, pass them to her to look after while I do the driving.

Last night, we realised shopping was necessary - never mind us, the dog food was running low. Since Roxy enjoys going for a ride in the car, we took her with us and took the long way to Tesco. Eventually, the inside of the car reached a temperature that my fingers considered to be comfortable, so I doffed the gloves and gave them to Julie.

I may have been concentrating on driving, but I was vaguely aware that Julie was fiddling with my gloves; I never gave it much thought, to be honest.

After a moment of silence, just as I was about to drive us onto a junction, Julie announced this...

NOT what you want to hear as you attempt to negotiate a busy junction. I do have to admit, though, that I was most impressed with the way Julie managed to begin with a basic malapropism and then stutter her way into a snippet from Gilbert and Sullivan...

Again, many thanks to the internet, where almost any image you search for is but a few clicks away. Googling 'tentacles and testicles' yielded this beauty.


* by the way, please spare a thought for people in the southern hemisphere. While Britain is being blown about and drowned, and the US and Canada are having ridiculously low temperatures, places like Australia are suffering with forest fires and the like. And when they have fires, they don't muck about. Be safe, my antipodean friends.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Sanity soundbite

Every now and then, we fall back to discussing Julie's Gems - the acts, not the site. Usually, Julie will try to explain her way out of the situation. Unfortunately, the explanations tend hold about as much water as a colander. Made of rice paper.

Occasionally, Julie will examine herself, trying to work out what is going on in her head. As I have asserted on many occasions, my darling wife is not stupid nor in any way suffering from any mental disorder. She is highly intelligent, but just a little... erratic, shall we say. In fact, the only real difference between Julie and the rest of us is that the little filter between her personal world view and the real world is curiously absent. That, and the world's definition of 'normal' probably needs tweaking.

Actually, love, I would argue that you are a lot saner than many of the rest of us put together.