Monday, 28 September 2009

Boy's Home: Saving our sanity since 1997

Some friends of mine were discussing punishment techniques for their toddlers. This reminded me of my brother’s naughty years and one particular form of punishment that had him running scared.

When my brother was little, I’m talking like 2-3 years old. He had a tendency to misbehave and just plain ignore his parents. Granted he was copying his big sister but it’s not something a 3 year old should be doing.
“Kelton please finish the rest of your carrots.”
“You finish it!”
“Kelton Please pack up your toys.”
“You do it.”

We tried everything from taking away his toys to not giving him pudding to even ignoring him. Ignoring him was the least effective. Whenever we ignored him he would just break something and then clap his hands at his triumph.

One day he was doing something particularly naughty and his father came out with, “Stop that son or we’ll send you to the boy's home!” Kelton looked rather confused; he hadn’t heard this one before. Mum was quick to follow and explained that very naughty boys went to the boy’s home and often they never returned. Very quickly Kelton became a reformed child, too scared to even breathe in case he was sent to the boy's home. It got to the point that mum would only have to pick up the receiver of the phone and Kelton would her hug her leg in tears screaming “NO BOY'S HOME NO BOY'S HOME! I'LL BE GOOD! NO BOY'S HOME!”

The boy’s home threat worked marvellously and we though the problem was solved. One day mum took me and our now reformed little angle to the grocery store. Contentently munching on an unpaid apple we didn’t hear boo out of him as I pushed him in his stroller and mum pushed the trolley. We got to the checkout and Kelton was let out of his stroller to choose a MR. Men book. The boy in front of us in the queue was throwing a tantrum and a half. Kelton calmly put the books down and waddled up to him, “Be good or your mum will send you to the boy's home!” The whole queue went quite and stared at my mother who went a deep red colour as she strapped her darling angle back in his stroller.

The boy’s home threat was never used again.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Not a Happy Camper

It is a well known fact that I love to have a good moan. It is also a well known fact that I’m not a morning person. Knocking on my door at 10am on a Saturday is going to land you straight on my naughty list. Here’s the letter I just fired off to Southern Electric.

To whom it may concern,

I am very disappointed to see that Southern Electric has stooped to door to door sales of products to existing customers.

On Saturday 26th September, my partner and I were rudely disturbed by the account manager of our area, knocking on our front door. He was trying to sell us a telephone package, in which we would be switched from BT to Southern Electric. For doing this we would receive £30 off our next electric bill. In general I find door to door sales extremely intrusive, not at all constructive and down rite annoying.

What upset me even further was the way I was spoken too. Seeing as I was still in my pyjamas and half way through cooking my breakfast, I asked your representative if I may take a form to peruse and fill out in my own time. He proceeded to tell me that due to the reference number at the top he had to fill it out and he had to call all the details in. So in other words, I had to take this offer now or never be offered it again. This is not exactly outstanding customer care.

I asked him what information he would require. He showed me the form and some of the questions were quite personal. To answer those questions would be leaving myself vulnerable to all sorts of security risks. I don’t feel comfortable giving someone who is off the street such information.

All in all, I am not impressed that South Electric feel it is okay to intrude on someone’s weekend like that. Further more, to try and sell a product with no information pack and give the customer no time to read it is ridiculous. I am not impressed in the slightest by your sales techniques.

In future I wish to be only contacted via, letter, e-mail, telephone or pre-arrange meeting. I take the assumption that my concerns will be raised with a member of management.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Commuter Snoozer

London is one of those city’s that you can’t really describe in words. To understand London and what it’s about you need to be here and live it. The diversity is huge from 2year stay Aussies, to nutter South Africans, to over excitable Americans, to long term stayers like me, to long term stayers who are so comfortable with their surroundings and fellow Londoners they would make you cringe or laugh!

This morning on my way to work I found this guy.
Now you may look at this picture and think he is dead. I can assure you that he was not dead. Several clues lead me to believe the man had the gift of life still in him. Apart from drooling and his mouth moving in a goldfish motion, he was also snoring. When a man snores, at least you know air is getting in. Snoring is a good thing when it comes too passed out people.

When you find a snoring man on the tube you generally ignore him, this guy however was extremely hard to ignore when he started moving his tongue in and out of his mouth to the rhythm of his snore. As the journey went on, the snoring got louder and so did our giggles. When ever he did ‘the goldfish,’ I had to look away for fear of falling over from laughter. Truly it was a sight and the sounds he made were astonishing!

Judging by his attire I’m guessing he works somewhere in the city. He either had to get off at my stop or the stop after. I hope someone woke him but I highly doubt it. London is one of those cities where it doesn’t matter who you are, you’re on your own when it comes to embarrassing situations. See you at the end of line buddy.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

I'm a Twit: Outsmarted by a Bank Teller

I like to think that I’m a clever chicken. Not so much in the ‘Look at all my certificates’ sense but more in the, ‘You have 101 certificates and yet you still require help to boil an egg or get home in one piece.’ Some times, I have to laugh at how people go about their day to day business. I know it’s wrong to judge others and revel in my self proclaimed superior status but don’t worry, this morning I got my comeuppance. Think public, think embarrassing and think down right stupid. Yes, I made a complete tit of myself at the bank!

I had to go and pay the council tax. I’m pretty lucky and will admit that Justin takes care of most of the financial up keeping. I just give my 50% and he takes care of it all. The only thing we don’t spilt on is Council tax. We take this in turns to pay. Every second month I have to pay it in full. This month was my turn.

So off I clip clop to the bank in my black stilettos. With my unfilled out council tax book, I wait in the que for my turn. I get the front and I hand the book to the man, “I want to pay the council tax please.”
The man smiles, “You haven’t filled the slip out.”
I scratch my head, “I never fill it out. Not that I don’t know how but I don’t carry a pen with me and I don’t like using Bank pens. So many people touch those. Germs aren’t cool.”
Clearly unimpressed by my quick wit he replied, “I will fill it out this time but in future you need to do it yourself.”
Every time I have to pay something at the bank they tell me this. I’ve yet to fill anything out at the bank myself. Bank pens are horrible and I don’t see the point in carrying a pen in my bag just for banking purposes.

“Could you please put your card into the machine?” He didn’t make eye contact. Clearly he’s not a morning person and we’re never going to be friends.
I opened my purse and my card wasn’t there. Now this doesn’t surprise me. I quite often just through it in my bag and then play a game of ‘Where’s My Card’ the next time I want to use it. I start rummaging through the contents of my Mary Poppins Bag. Clearly I’m not going to find it with everything in the bag. I smile at the man in the hope he’s not going to throw my out for what I’m about to do. I pull out my make-up bag then my camera. Still can’t find my card. The que is building behind me… I need to find my card quick quick! I pull out my umbrella, tickets to Venice, tickets to a past football match, a rock (don’t ask!), pair of stockings, packet of panadol, a blue clothes peg, a bolt, a ruler, a green clothes peg and finally my ipod.

The man behind the counter huffs as I pile all my things back into the back. “How do I go about cancelling my card?”
He rolled his eyes, “Do you have your savings card on you?”
I opened my purse again and turned to the other section where I keep my other cards. SHIT!
“OH LOOK! I found my current account card! It was in my purse all along. How silly am I?”
His turn for a quick witted remark, “You carry a rock and clothes pegs in your handbag but don’t carry a pen. You emptied the entire contents of your bag onto the counter for you to find your card in your purse. Do really want me to answer that?”

“No you don’t have too. It was a rhetorical question.”

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Coleslaw on my Conscience

The other night we treated ourselves to KFC. We always order one large burger meal deal and one extra burger. It works out cheaper this way and we can share the chips, drink and side order. One slight problem is the size of the side order.

So we’re standing at the counter and I placed the order, “No ice in the drink please but could you fill it all the way up? May I please have the cardboard chip packet instead of the paper one and may I please have extra mayo on both burgers.” I was a KFC bitch in a previous life. I know the secrets!

He gives my order and I look at the small tub of coleslaw. “Excuse me, I asked for a large meal but you’ve given me a small coleslaw.”
The chicken boy replied, “The large coleslaws are for family meals only.”
Justin left my side and took a seat. He knew what was coming and had to hide his smile.
“By law, we are a family and this is a meal we will share but that’s not the point. I paid an extra 30p for a large meal and for that I would expect anything that could be upsized would be upsized. The last time I ordered this I was given a large coleslaw.”
“I’m sorry mam.”
“That’s okay. Clearly someone has made a mistake in the past. Is a manager on site?”
He walked out the back and returned very quickly. “My manager said you could have a large coleslaw.“
“Oh wow! Really? Thank you!”

As we walked home Justin asked, “Have you got a large coleslaw with a burger meal before?”
“Don’t ask questions you won’t like the answer too.”
“I’ll take that as a no and that you lied to get it. That’s wrong! That is now tainted coleslaw. Let it hang on your conscience!”
“All the more coleslaw for me then.”
“I didn’t say I wouldn’t eat it…”

Monday, 7 September 2009

Fire Drills and High Heels

Can I just openly put this out there, fire drills and new high heels don’t mix.

I bought myself a new pair of work shoes on the weekend. Being the shorty I am, I like to try and elongate myself for the office. Much like braces and how they get tighter with time, every six months I go up half an inch. Today was my first day on 4.5inch heels. Now this may not sound impressive but frankly I’m not trying to impress. When you’re up and down from your desk all day, any sized stiletto can become a mammoth task. So today has been a day of blisters. I don’t mind really, once they’re broken in, they will become my comfy work/dancing shoes.

Having new shoes is fun. Having new shoes that are giving you blisters and being forced to stand in them for 45mins outside because of a fire drill, not so fun. The alarm went and I took off my shoes to change them for my flats. As I did so I got a dirty look from a trader. One of those, “I hate women and why on earth is she changing her shoes when the building is on fire.” He’s eyes scared me, so I put my high heels back on before he opened fire around the office with his hidden hand gun, like how they do it in America, “You ate my jello, NOW YOU DIE!”

So off I tottled but not before I packed my handbag up with all my vital organs (purse and phone.) I completely forgot about the 'no lift' rule during fire drills. I was rudely reminded when I was ushered to the stairwell. May I point out I have never used the stairwell. This building is like Hogwarts, magic stairwells everywhere that lead to secret passages outside! I followed the crowd and found a seat on the corner. I sat, I chatted I was then told to move onto the meeting point. Unfortunately, “But my feet are sore,” Doesn’t wash with HR when they’re trying to do a head count… on mass.

So I stood like a herded animal while some one with a megaphone mumbled something at us. BAAA and MOOO were the general responses from the crowd. During the 30-45mins of just standing around discussing how much company time we were wasting, we had gathered and audience. Everyone in the buildings around us all came to the windows to see the annual sceptical of mass confusion aka An Evacuation.

Now you may think this is bad enough. My afternoon has been rudely disrupted, my feet hurt like hell and to top it off we’re being looked at like animals in a zoo. I truly thought it couldn’t get any worse this. The next think we know, we’re being herded back into the building. My feet were at the point of no return. You know the point, cut them off before you slit your wrists from the pain. I get back inside and I’m told, “Lifts aren’t working, use the stairs.” I really felt like asking someone to carry me but I didn’t. Although what an entrance that would have been!

So now I sit at my desk with minuets to go before knock-off time. My toes are numb and oh, I have ear plugs in because they can’t work out how to turn the alarm off.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Raggy Dolls: Helping ugly people feel good about themselves since the 1980s

This was a show I used to watch when I was a little girl. Don't get me wrong, I'm not taking the piss here. I understand that the show was teaching kids not to make fun of the rejects. Just because they belong in the reject bin doesn't mean they are sitting ducks for school yard taunting... or something like that maybe I missed the point.

One part of this song had me asking questions when I knee high to grasshopper:
So if you got a bump on your nose or a lump on your toes, do not despair.
Be like the Raggy Dolls, and say I just don't care!

Yes you could say, "I just don't care." Or you could go see a doctor and get the lump on your toes checked out. It could be this. Lets be honest, what sane person wouldn't see a doctor if they had a random lump on their toes? Any person not seeing a doctor when such symptoms occur, really do belong in the reject bin.

And as for the singer going on about "Dolls like you and me," I think he should really be a little more careful about which children he's referring too. If I found my child singing along to, “don't be scared if you don't fit in. Look who's in the reject bin!” I would be mortified. I would like to think that my spawn will at least try to fit in or failing that, make like their mother and slip out of the country while the goings good!

So all together now, big it for the Raggy Dolls and their message of; it's cool to have your head on backwards, be a transvestite princess (Listen to her voice,) have a name like Sad Sack and be friends with an obnoxious French person/doll!

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Memories: Sportacus Does Karate

About two years ago my housemate came across this video on Youtube while looking for Karate videos. It was shocking, it was hilarious and it became a standing joke between us.

Years on, I stumbled on this cracker once again. The best part is I still think it’s the funniest thing in the world! (Apart from Chimpanzee Riding A Segway.)

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

A Weekend In Budapest

The boyfriend and I hooked up with some good friends of ours and made the epic journey to Budapest. Flight time is only 2hrs and I know this hardly constitutes the description of 'epic' but you weren’t in the car with us on our way to Heathrow. Trust me when I say that the drive south west from our house was nothing short of 'epic'. There was enough 'epicness' in that single journey to cover both the car ride and the flight.

Once we were finally there and had our feet safely on ex-soviet ground, we made our way to the baggage collection. In the time it took for our bags to arrive we had all had a toilet break, Justin had eaten a ham and cheese roll I smuggled off the plane and Sam and I had been put in our place by an old lady who clearly preferred the ‘old ways’ over westernised tourist asking silly questions about transportation to the hotel. Did I mention the old lady worked in the Information booth? Bored already with the airport, Morven kept us amused as he too got a stern telling off from the Information Lady.

Finally our bags arrived and we were on our way to the hotel. Being the young, sober, excited folk we are, Sam asked the taxi driver if he could recommend any particular beer to try. He literally turned around in his seat and proceeded to answer with, “Beer, drink, yes, beer, good. Music?” clearly English wasn’t a second language to him, but what concerned Morv was his ability to drive at 100miles an hour while talking to us girls in the back seat.
“I think if we want to get to this hotel in one piece we should stop asking Jackie Chan questions.” We all giggled and agreed.

The hotel was clearly build in the 70s. The 70s of which century we’re not sure of. It had character and a 4star rating. We very quickly came to the conclusion this was a 4star Soviet Union rating not westernised-chocolates-on-your-pillow 4star rating. But really, so it was advertised wrong… very wrong. We didn’t complain. We were there to enjoy the culture and get away from Western Europe and experience something new. The something new was clearly in the wardrobe that was missing door handles and screwed shut. We came to the conclusion this was where they used to hide the video camera. What also surprised us about the hotel was the suspicious fire alarm that went off at 8.30am. Me being me, I laid in bed while Justin ran out into the hallway to investigate. No fire, just the hotel manager trying to drum up some clientele for breakfast down stairs.

Day one was spent wondering the streets and taking in the sights, smells and tastes of Hungary’s biggest holiday. I would compare it to America’s 4th July. It was huge! What were they celebrating? I don’t know, missed that part, I was too busy stuffing my face with food and washing it down with £1 pints. The Red Bull air race was on and in the evening we were treated with a huge fire works display. It was really beautiful. Once the fire works were over we decided to head back to the hotel. Morven and Justin were in charge of the map. (Bit like they were in charge of the map going to Heathrow… but that’s another story all on its own!) Who knew where they were leading us. Eventually after walking in the wrong direction for close on 15mins Sam took control and took the map. Within minutes we were back on track and walking the other way up the road. We gave the map back to the boys who examined it and then proclaimed that THEY now had us walking the right way. Sam and I consulted the map a few more times (while they held it) and eventually we got back to the hotel. The boys made it up to us the following day, when they treated us to a day at the spa. The hotel manager was a funny fellow who could give me a run for my money in the cunning department. He told us that he could sell us the tickets to the Spa. Only 3800HUF, the same price as it would be at the Spa. We kept this in mind but we wanted to wonder around first and not be tied down to only one location, so we made the decision to buy our tickets at the spa. Upon arrival we took a look at the price board. Same price hey Mr. Hotel Manger? You are a naughty, lying, cheating, hotel manager! The price was in fact only 3000HUF!

The Spa was amazing!! Over 20 different pools all different temperatures, saunas and steam rooms! The boys even got to see some granny boobs!! We spent over 3hrs there taking it all in and toping up on some much needed sunshine. Only in Hungary can you order a beer poolside!

After the spa we ate some mustard with a sausage. No really, not sausage with mustard, this was a paper plate filled with mustard and sausage for scooping the mustard into your mouth. It was good! With our mustard swimming in our tummies we made our way back to the city centre to find a beer consumption house. Instead we found a back alley restaurant and ordered wine. Okay, we didn’t order just wine, we ordered Absence as well! So now quite merry, we made our way to the next bar where us girls had a bottle between us and the boys drank god knows how many pints. From there we found an English pub and drank some more there. It’s usually at this point I’m close to done but seeing as we were on holiday we decided that some dancing was in order. Don’t ask how and please don’t ask why… we found ourselves in some club-thing-amu-do. Just as we thought this night couldn’t get any better, we found a karaoke room! KEN LEE!!! (Youtube it, now imagine it live, my tummy hurt from laughing!) Doubling over in fits of laughter after hearing "Rike a Wirgin", Sam and I went and chose a song for us to sing. We didn’t tell the boys until it was our turn. All four of us took centre stage and belted out the best rendition of ‘We Are the Champions,’ that you’ve ever heard. The crowd. Went. Nuts! They had their lighters out and waving them above their heads, they were all singing and dancing and wrapping their arms over each other shoulders. We truly rocked their world! The night went on and didn’t stop. Not even when Morven broke a cigar cutter – the funny part was the four of us trying to keep a straight face while watching the bar tender try and fix it! After 2 more Absence, some Unicum and a Flaming Lamborghini we were well and truly done. Pit stop by the local kebab shop (they’re called Gyros) and we were slowly but surely on our way back to the hotel but not before Morven took a wiz off the bridge.

We got back to the hotel to find Mr. Hotel Manager behind the desk. Morven proceed to tell him, “Guess what! The spa gave us special deal because I’m so good looking. (He blew a kiss) Only paid 3000HUF. COOL!”
Sam and I quickly bound the pair of them in the lift before they could blow anyone else kisses.

The following day was a quieter affair. Nursing hangovers, we walked the city and took in the sights that we had missed in our drunken shambles the nights before. Budapest is truly a remarkable city filled with both modern sights you would expect to see but it also carries an undertone of history. There is something very touching about the buildings that still have bullet holes in them and also the memorials to all those who perished. Hungary has been torn every which way. Most countries have a wanted a piece of it at some point or another. The locals are mostly friendly and happy to help and even have a chat with you over a shot of Unicum.

The morning we flew out, we were sad to say good bye. It was a weekend that we will laugh about for years to come!

*All photos taken by Sam Brocklehurst*