Friday, 28 March 2014

Verbal and Legal

It appears I missed Wednesday. Shame on me - especially as I had a Gem ready and waiting to go.


Last week, we went to a live show (as opposed to a dead one. That would have been boring). The band in question go by the name of The Illegal Eagles, so named because they are a tribute band to - well, it's obvious, really, isn't it? The show was excellent; all the musicians really know their stuff.

The Illegal Eagles

The band began eighteen years ago, started by the second and fourth gents in the picture. Over the years, there have been a lot of members, although some more permanent than others. The bass player on the right has been with them almost since the start. The newest - and youngest - member of the group is on the left. No, it's not Smallville's Lex Luthor, unless he has had a personality implant. He's a good addition to the band, contributing, as almost all of them do, to every section of the stage. Mind you, the real Mr. Diversity is chap #4, playing a variety of guitars, drums, vocals (including lead), and even saxophone for 'The Heat is on', played in the set's solo hits section. One each from Glenn Frey, Don Henley ('Boys of Summer'), and Joe Walsh ('Rocky Mountain Way'*).

You may have noticed that I haven't, until now, mention the third gent in the lineup. That's because he is the only one whose name I know off the top of my head; Keith Atack. Keith is the only reason that we were there. You see, Julie was massively into a band called Child when she was younger, and Child featured a couple of twins by the name of Tim and, yes, Keith Atack. Here's a picture of Keith (or is it Tim? Heck - they're twins...) to show why Julie was such an ardent fan.

Keith (or Tim) Atack from 70s band Child

Handsome, no? By the way, I had a little trouble searching for images, and I really hope Big Brother understands that my search term 'child singles' - in Images, no less - was innocent. After all, I really wasn't wanting results of Destiny's Child.

Back on track.

Some days later, we were out, taking Roxy for a walk and discussing the concert. I raised the point that TIE have been sanctioned by members of the original Eagles, in much the same way as Pink Floyd have approved The Australian Pink Floyd Show. It's something that has always made me smile to myself; I mean, 'The Illegal Eagles' can be a bit of a tongue twister on its own, without throwing anything else into the mix.

I have no idea if I did get it right, but it's as close as anyone would get. Julie herself admits there would be no way of repeating it.


* 'Rocky Mountain Way is good, but I prefer 'Life's Been Good'.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Surprise mutt-sex

Hmm. Out of all the trends we have seen on Julie's Gems, the one that appears to be forming at the moment is the most worrying. Not even the Platyposts concern me as much.

There is a meme going by the tagline of 'surprise buttsex'. It takes advantage (ahem) of previously innocuous photographs and then adds the caption of 'Surprise Buttsex'. Google it if you want, but be prepared for what you see. In the meantime, here's a prime example.

And now for the most awkward segue ever; let's talk about Roxy...

Being part Staffie, Roxy isn't the slightest of creatures, gorgeous as she is. She also fits in with the family very well, in that she has a stubborn streak wider than the mouth of the Amazon river. Combine that with your average doorway, and simple access to a room is suddenly a lot more difficult. Especially since neither me nor Julie are even remotely slim.

If I am cooking, Roxy likes to 'supervise' from the comfort of the kitchen doorway. Having spent so long in a rescue centre pen, she isn't too fond of uncarpeted surfaces. I can understand that. Unfortunately, she refuses to move from there until the last tiny chance of a dropped morsel has gone. Which tends to make it a problem for Julie when she decides to come and make herself a drink.

There are so many things wrong with that I have no idea where to begin... so I'll leave you with a final meme...

Saturday, 22 March 2014

A damp doggy?

Many apologies for missing yesterday's post. It was a tad busy, and I hadn't prepared anything for automatic release.


This morning was a bit of a non-starter for me, thanks to a headache and a hay-fever-induced cold. Unfortunately, Roxy decided that she wasn't going to do anything either: Every time Julie tried to get Roxy to go for a walk, the dog refused to go any further than the front gate. She even refused to eat her breakfast.

It may have been that Roxy 'knows' that Saturdays are for us to go somewhere as a family, and wanted to wait until I was fine to walk with the ladies. Or it may be that Roxy was picking up on the fact I was a little under the weather and preferred to stay near me and keep an eye on me. Sweet, but annoying for Julie, who wanted to get on and do things and go places.

Eventually, I managed to break the cycle of doze-wake with a sore head-drop off again, and the three of us went for a walk. As soon as it was clear we were all going out, Roxy was as amenable as anything, and Julie had no trouble handling her.

Hmm. I may have phrased that poorly.

You see, when we got back home, I decided to chance some toast, and to have another go at having a cup of tea - I had made one at six in the morning, and then promptly dropped off back to sleep.

While I was in the kitchen, Julie sat on the sofa, gently stroking Roxy, who was sat on the floor. When they saw me come in the living room, Roxy moved to the sofa and looked at me, waiting. When I smiled, she took that as her cue to get up onto the sofa and sit, leaning against Julie,  but hoping that I would lean over the back of the sofa to give her a little fuss too.

Of course I did.

I didn't sit down right away - I had a cup of tea stewing in the kitchen. Since I like strong tea, I don't mind leaving it for a little while, but chewing it would be too much, so I went back to remove the tea bag and to add milk.

Back in the living room, Julie was making a fuss of Roxy and talking to her. Generally, I couldn't hear exactly what was being said. Mostly, all I could make out was, "mumblemumblemumbleRoxymumblemumblemumble." However, one phrase made its way through nice and clear.

As it turned out, Julie was rubbing Roxy's belly (something the dog absolutely adores), and confused 'damp' with 'slightly cooler than the rest of Roxy's body'. That said, I couldn't help but imagine Roxy's face when she heard that...

OK, not Roxy, but the expression
should say it all.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Surprise butt-text!

I was talking to my mum on the phone the other day, catching up on the health matters of various family members. It was entirely inappropriate, then, to hear my sister in the background suddenly hooting with laughter. Bear in mind that I didn't even know she was there up until that point, either.

It turned out that my sister had received a random text message from a friend. A very bored friend.

To be honest, if I got that text, this would have been a little more like my reaction:

Monday, 17 March 2014

Dem bones

We have spoiled Roxy something rotten - but it's what you do, isn't it? Only this weekend, I suddenly found myself becoming a 'baby bore'; Julie had to nudge me sharply and tell me to stop showing this poor woman photographs of Roxy. I wouldn't have minded, but Julie had already shown people the pictures on her own phone...

Of all the toys that Roxy has available to play with, the one she is currently most enamoured with is a tatty orange football that somehow appeared in our back garden over the last winter. Nobody has laid claim to it, so I decided to let Roxy play with it. And play she does. Now partly deflated, it serves as a chew toy, a tugger and something to chase and fetch.

Apart from that, she has a tennis ball, a rope-pull, a long rubber tug-toy, and a vinyl bone shaped chew toy that is apparently bacon flavoured. I say apparently, as I have yet to have a nibble on it. Wait - that makes it sound like I want to... Nope. Nuh-uh. No way.

The bone looks a bit like this, and Roxy does like to have a chew on it now and then. The only problem is that her teeth appear to be a little delicate; We often see little specks of blood on it when the gums have had a little too much battering. Fortunately, Roxy does seem to know when to stop, so we are happy to let her keep it for the occasional chew.

The other day, we were all in the living room, and Roxy decided she wanted to chew on the bone for a bit. After a while, she stopped and began to smack her mouth and lick her lips. I knew what had happened, and a quick glance at the bone confirmed it.

I now have this image of a pig, snout down in its trough, oblivious to the fact Roxy is determinedly gnawing on its back leg...

Friday, 14 March 2014

The hills are alive with the sound of wotnot

It's nice to get out and about, especially since the weather has finally taken a turn for the better and the sky has given up on trying to completely dominate the land by water.

In Sussex, we have England's newest National Park, the Sussex Downs.* Rolling hills of chalk, dropping off (quite literally in the case of Birling Gap) to the sea, but stretching for miles inland. Topped with scrubland and grazing fields, it's a nice place to get away from it all.

Well, it would be, if 'all' hadn't had the same idea and begun tromping and driving round the countryside in inappropriate clothing.

On the rare moments, however, when the sounds of traffic and/or screaming kids that would rather be watching TV are mercifully absent, it's a gloriously peaceful place to be. Close your eyes, and just listen. That's the wind in the grass, maybe an early cricket or grasshopper, the occasional sheep, and possibly one of the most defining sounds of the English open countryside, the song of the skylark.

A couple of weeks ago, we were driving to Seaford to take Roxy for a long walk along their promenade. For a change, I decided to take a route through the Beachy Head area of the South Downs National Park. The weather was warm, and I had the windows wound down a little, and I was thrilled to hear the skylarks singing away. Julie couldn't hear them, though.

Yes, she went there. Then claimed the cows were singing too, even though there weren't any nearby. I suggested their tune would be 'Udder the boardwalk'.

The conversation went absolutely nowhere after that.


* Why on earth are these hills called 'downs'? As far as most people are concerned, they should be 'ups'. I'm sure there is a logical, etymological reason.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

...and when they were only halfway up...

I try to be clever, honestly. I try to have a ready answer for every situation. Unfortunately, I don't have that spontaneous an imagination. Most of my humour comes from having thought about something and then editing it until it works. Or not - I'm no Terry Pratchett.

Julie, on the other hand, is almost the very epitome of spontaneity. Put her in a situation, and BAM! Out comes a cracking remark. Sometimes it is funny, other times, it is a keen observation on what has been going on.

Of course, these off-the-cuff remarks can arise from something only she was aware of; such as when other people are not looking in the same direction as her.

Such as when I am driving, and Julie has seen something off to one side - or even just inside her own head.

My father always got on famously with Julie; once those two started off on one of their bizarre dialogues, there was little chance of anyone keeping up to speed.

Dad approached this mindset from a slightly different direction to Julie. He had always been a fan of The Goons, and in later years began to have a fascination with abstract art and some of the more way-out types of jazz music.

I have pointed out many times before that our family - like many others, I imagine - have a lot of in-jokes, silly remarks that make absolutely no sense to other folk. Apple strudel, postboxes, burn rubber. Apparently random words and phrases, but they all are strong memory triggers for us.

Dad appeared to be something of a catchphrase generator, mostly when he was driving; I think it may have been a way of breaking up a silence and keeping himself awake. One of these phrases was a 'bloody obvious' comment - like most of them;
"It's uphill, this bit."
And yes, he would be driving up a hill at the time.

The thing is, it was catching. We now say these things ourselves, for pretty much the same reason. Of course, when Julie is involved, things can take on a new life of their own...

All I could think of was this...

Monday, 10 March 2014


Ready for a quick blast of Cute?

Baby badgers; so young their eyes have yet to open.

Julie found this delightful image somewhere, and I insisted she shared it with me - by private message on Facebook, so it wouldn't get lost in every other post I see.
I had an ulterior motive, though. Lovely as these badgers were,* it was Julie's comment that cracked me up.

Just to clarify; these are baby platypuses:

And these are baby badgers:

They're all cute, and they are all (roughly) mammalian. Other than that, nope. Not the same.


* By the way; baby badgers might look cute, but adult badgers are vicious buggers and are roughly the size of a Staffordshire Bull Terrier - and with roughly the same temperament when pissed off. Don't mess with them.

Friday, 7 March 2014

A lengthy problem

This one is old. And I mean 'before I met Julie' old.

I used to work in a warehouse that stocked and supplied electronic components. It was a pretty big warehouse, and at the time this took place, I was a shift team leader in the goods in department.

As anyone who has ordered multiple items at a single time knows, what you ordered isn't necessarily what you receive. One supplier even threatened to take us to court because we were refusing to pay for items we hadn't received - but they were adamant they had shipped. And then they found said items in a dark corner of their own warehouse. And two suppliers seemed to think it would be a jolly good wheeze to throw a load of components into a box with polystyrene chips (a fantastic idea, courtesy of static electricity), and then leave us to guess what each item may be.

It didn't help that the term MICROelectronics was often a very salient term to describe the parts. While some items had the device code printed on them somewhere, others were too small to fit the entire code, no matter how small the print.

As team leader, it fell to me to contact the sales department in question and ask them to iron out any problems. Cue this conversation (and yes, Mary was Irish)...

All around me, people were either laughing or demanding to know what the laughter was about. All I could think of was that I had just well and truly scuppered my chances of asking Mary out...

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Not to be sniffed at

As I write this, I have not long returned from an evening of playing Magic: The Gathering. In what proved to be our group's largest meeting yet, we took over the pub completely, and had lots of fun in doing so. I'm especially pleased, as I actually won more than half of my games for a change.

I forget who my opponent was at the time of this Gem, but I do know that, just to my right, Josh was playing James. Earlier in the evening, me and Josh had been swapping a couple of off-colour gags (none of which I will be repeating here), which set us both up nicely for an night of feeling rather silly.

James was puffing away on his cigarette - his E-cigarette, I should say. A subtle blueberry flavour, which was also pleasing to the nose. It was the odour which prompted a little discussion on our table about the varying smells of tobacco and the electronic alternatives, and that in turn reminded me of how my father used to smoke a pipe.

Pipes are definitely an acquired taste - The lounge always wound up looking like a fire had broken out in a pile of soggy wood. However, to me, the fragrance of pipe tobacco being smoked was quite nice; earthy and comforting.

Considering my predilection for wordplay, you would have thought I should have chosen my words a lot more carefully when reminiscing about pipe smoke to this lot...

Yes. Yes, I did...

Monday, 3 March 2014

Rear-view cycling


Some years ago, I used to work in a dairy. It was a fair journey, 27 miles each way - more, if there was some kind of trouble en route. When you factor in the fact we worked twelve-hour shifts, four days a week, it got to be rather tiring. In fact, not all our partners understood why we never felt up to doing much when we got home and invariable ended up in bed before 9pm.

One of my colleagues became fed up with his girlfriend moaning about just this issue, so he issued her the challenge of getting up when he did and doing things all the time and not really resting until he did at the end of the day. Two days in, she folded.

Another colleague, very much single, was one of those wiry men that seemed to have loads of energy - right up to the point a can of beer magically appeared in his hand. I nicknamed this one 'Skippy', since he had had a dodgy hip and then an operation to have a new one implanted.

Skippy lived in the next town up from us, so it made sense for me to act as a taxi service for those times our shift patterns overlapped. It was handy for me, too; on far too many occasions, I parked up at the dairy and sat there in the realisation that I had absolutely no recollection of the journey. I don't do mornings too well. You can have me up early or bright, but not normally both.

The drive home, during the warmer months, was usually quite pleasant. Music on, windows down and a nice chat. And nice views; especially if it was warm enough that ladies decided to shed a layer or two of clothing.

For my part, my normal reaction would be pursed lips and an appreciative nod.

Well, it was.

Skippy, for his sins, introduced me to the practice of uttering the word 'sausage' with varying volume upon seeing a nice pair of.. legs...

The idea was that it's a relatively safe thing to call out, since it seems like a random word. I mean, to anyone hearing it, you might as well be shouting 'billiards'.

Unless you shout it at a man. It becomes a lot less subtle at that point. Not that Skippy nor I did this. Nope, this was all Julie.

The first time she did it, she shouted it at a cyclist as we were overtaking him. It didn't help that Julie had forgotten her window was wound down... Mind you, it didn't help me, either; I was laughing so hard I could barely see to drive.

I know, I know - we're childish, aren't we?


Skip forward some years and a veritable string of sausages to the Saturday just gone.

We had been out for a nice long walk with Roxy, and were taking a scenic route home. We were moving slowly, since there was a cyclist up ahead. As we drew up behind him, we saw that his clothing could have benefited with being a size or two larger. He was wearing a pair of shorts which were doing their job adequately, but his t-shirt was riding up to reveal a pale expanse of lower back.

If that's all she wanted, she could just go to one of those special events that take place occasionally...