Friday, 26 September 2008

Unlikely things

This happened this evening. Not made up.

I live on the first floor. The first unlikely thing this evening was seeing a man hanging from the balcony. He jumped down when I went out. "I was trying to get Barry" he said. I looked down and as I did so a parrot bit my toe. It actually really hurt. A woman from a couple of balconies along said, "pick it up. He doesn't like toes but he hardly ever bites fingers."
"No." I said. They're lucky I didn't tread on its stupid green head.

I asked the bloke to come and get it. He was something of a rough diamond (to use a quaint 1960s type expression that doesn't actually suit the many tattoos and gruff Yorkshire accent).
"T'parrot don't bite fingers. He 'ates toes though lad'

He came in gruffly. When he went to the balcony door though he changed: " Baarry..bazza..chirp chirp cheep..come on then, come here..." It's amazing how people forget themselves when talking to their pets. Beneath the junkie veneer was a soft bird loving bloke. It was actually quite re-assuring. I'm still going to look up parrot bites though- are they poisonous?

Good Luck Mate

Best mate Chrabisb is getting married tomorrow. Was hoping to be best man but I think he's smuggling his real best mate up from Bristol. It doesn't matter because Chrabisb said I could be best man at his next wedding. Anyway, here's the speech I haven't prepared; extemporised without alcoholic impediment.

Ladies and Gentleman...may I have your attention please.... We have been friends or more than 20 years...yadda yadda....

It's traditional to make fun of the groom on these occasions though, to be frank, there's little to ridicule. Apart from that which is ridiculously little of course.

Chrabisb, like me, is a Spurs man. Tonight he'll be hoping that he can do what Spurs, and he, managed last season for the first time in a long time: get beyond the semis. In fact his passion for the club is surprisingly strong. Just this morning he must have been watching the highlights of some game whilst getting ready: "Come on Bent boy... let's slot one in" I heard him shout from behind the door. I was surspised when that young page boy came out the room later though- he really doesn't look like a footy fan to me.

I'm told by his mother-in-law that Chrabisb has been involved in the planning of this wedding from the start. Apparently he chose the flowers and cake and even had a hand in the bridesmaids' dresses.

I have some telegrams here...Someone called Simon Binladen wishes you all the best and hopes you enjoyed his emissary's little joke during the service about the fiery pits and what you must do to avoid them! Friends from Pakistan have sent you what seems like a very cryptic message and a tiny balloon: 'To the best trek leader: please accept this to protect your mango'. Finally there's one here from Yakasumi Nakamoto's Tokyo Extravaganza bar which simply says: 'we're solly to lose our best customer'.

As you know Chrabisb is a rope access worker. He must be very good. You only have to ask and he's accessed a bit of rope in no time. On the rigs and at the refinery he's in charge of inspecting pipes- clearly this is a job for which he is eminently qualified. When it comes to fixing leaks and improving capacity he hands over to a colleague though.

Finally I just like to say that I hope his bride isn't too disappointed this evening when she discovers that all that "saving up" he's been doing wasn't actually money.

Right I got all that off my chest: bet you're glad it's not a cheesy traditional one mate. Me and my girl and the boy wish you both all the very best for the future.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Thou Spurs doth vex me

Without wanting to sound all arty farty I found these lines from Macbeth and thought they pretty well suited how I feel about Tottenham's start to the season.

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.

(Macbeth Act 5, scene 5, 19–28)

OK, granted, the comparison is pretentious claptrap really but in my defence:

a) there's no way I can find the words (other than four letter ones) to properly articulate my frustration and agitation after 3 defeats and a draw that leave us propping up the table.
b) if someone else said it better then why not?
c) Shakespeare was aware of 'Hotspur' though if I remember rightly he wasn't his most sympathetic character and dies an ugly death.
d) tomorrow etc... echoes so clearly of every Spurs fan 'next season, next season'
e) all our yesterdays have lighted fools... as much as it pains me to acknowledge, our last league championship was before I was born
f) walking shadow = Jermaine Jenas
g) a poor player... take your pick at the moment
h) struts and frets his hour...actually reminds me of Berba though 'heard of no more' is regrettably unlikely

Cometh on you Spurs

Friday, 12 September 2008


I thought it was a pain when we could only get restricted views at White Hart Lane. The big posts on the shelf side only count as a restricted view if they block the goal. We sat in these seats against Les Arses last year (see here). If I ever have to sit in one of those seats again I won't complain though. Pity the poor sods who have bought tickets for Spurs' forthcoming game against Krakow. This from the Spurs Website:

"Following a recent visit to the Wisla Stadium by Club officials in preparation for our UEFA Cup first round, second leg tie on October 2, we were alerted to some seating with severely restricted views of the pitch in the visitors section. The view of the pitch for a large number of seats within our allocation is severely obscured by security fencing along the segregation line and additional security fencing protecting the new media centre. "
It's more like a detention camp than a football stadium. It reminds me of the bad old, pre-Hillsborough days. I'm glad I'm not going to be honest. It's surprising really because Krakow itself is picturesque and apparently genteel.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Non verbal communication

Some of these are great (loads of signs). I have been to the one indicating the "secret nuclear bunker". it's disguised as a cottage and is a 1960s throwback. All the stuff in it is early 80s at best and the whole place is staffed by about three hippie weirdos. It was the place of refuge for MPs and other VIPs in the event of nuclear war. In its own way it was re-assuring because you could tell that any PM who'd seen it would not want to stay there and would thus do their best to avoid nuclear war for that reason alone. If Russia, Georgia, Ukraine et al. carry on in the same vein as they have been recently then they may well have to remove that road sign.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008


Luxembourg isn’t famous for much. It is the world’s last ‘Grand Duchy’ and, when I was working in Europe, was the place to go for cheap fags. It has no air force or navy and the army numbers a mere 800. I reckon I could take them on given the help of a few mates. It might be worth thinking about actually.

I ran the fuel right down whilst on the way up to Luxembourg so that I could take advantage of fuel prices that are a bit lower than France. I pulled into one of those massive motorway service stations where you fill up, get back into the car and then drive through a payment booth. Since I was on the wrong side we had got into a routine where my girl paid as I pulled up as close as I could so that she wouldn’t have to stretch her little arms too far.

I got out and waited for the fuel to be released and stood at the back of the car generally minding my own business. I was only vaguely aware of my girl getting out of the car and stooping down to pick up the squeegee in the bucket that Europeans actually fill up for drivers’ convenience. The next thing I heard was an ‘ooooh’ and went over to find my girl holding her hand and looking like she’d picked up some crap or something. “What’s up?” I asked, expecting her to say that she’d got a splinter from the handle. “Boooooooooooo Hooooooooooooooo waaaaaaaaaaaaaaa” was accompanied by lots of pointing and the phrase “Bastard wasp”.

Now, I know I should have sprung into first aid mode but the car was empty and we had to drive through the payment queue anyway so I figured that I ought to fill up and then sort it. That was my first mistake. My second mistake was to assume she’d be able to pay. “ How can I pay?” she cried, through gritted teeth and moans so loud that everyone around was sure we’d had a row and I’d hit her or something worse. I paid while she asked between sobs “Am I going to die?”

We went into the service area and I found the first aider. I tried to explain what had happened but my French doesn’t stretch to the word for 'wasp' or, for that matter to the word for ‘stung’. So there I was trying to explain that she’d been “hit on the hand by an insect which is yellow and black” but this was taking too long. “WASP,” rasped this person that I n o longer recognised “Fucking WASP….why don’t these people understand English?” The women started to pour vinegar on the sting while the patient sobbed uncontrollably.

A moment later I swear I saw a shaft of sunlight shine through a gap in the clouds as an indistinct but melodious choir of angels did that ‘aaaah haaa’ thing they do (supposedly). A woman appeared, trailing four angelic, almost identical blond children. She claimed to be Dutch but, of course, we know that she had come from a better place. “I have an anti wasp and sting removal kit,” she said. From her bag she produced this odd contraption and sucked the poison from the sting. “You are not going to die.” The sobbing subsided and my kudos rating improved as the day wore on and the pain wore off.

Luxembourg maybe an inconsequential anomaly but, for me and my girl, it is Europe’s seat of infamy, forever to be associated with pain and panic and an insect that is black and yellow.