Saturday, August 27, 2011

Alien Silence

Dear Readers,  I am experiencing technical difficulties with that icon of British business British Telecommunications, otherwise known as BT. If you do not hear from me for days, weeks or possibly months it is because BT contractors have cut the cable outside my house and I have no phone or broadband. I am currently writing this from the local tennis club.

Now the last time I had an issue with BT it took two whole months to sort. So, as you can imagine, I am not expecting this matter to be sorted imminently. Now I could bore you to death with my previous BT saga but frankly that would probably result in high blood pressure and early death for me and immense boredom for yourselves. However, I do have a few succinct words to say on this matter;

Thursday, August 25, 2011

I am not a Librarian! (Mrs T's Search for Employment 1)

Right folks, it's time for me to start a new aspect on my blog called Mrs T's Search for Employment. Yes, the time has come for Mrs T to return to work as life is just getting too expensive!

So, to set the scene. I haven't worked in the conventional sense since 1998. Right, stop that groaning now, Readers. I have been working very, very, hard, as you know, keeping my house clean, cooking delicious meals and picking the dead heads of the hanging baskets. There was the matter of the three children which has, on the odd occasion, caused a few sleepless nights. (Well, when I say a few sleepless nights I mean acute insomnia coupled with an addiction to non-prescription drugs and fine sherry. Still, it's made for an interesting life.)

Anyway, I haven't applied for a job for about 3 years. At that time, I had a little spate of applying for jobs and only got one interview at a local school which I didn't get. (So pretty successful really.) Apparently, the student panel at the school thought I was "too defensive" about their clever and subtle probing into my personal weaknesses. (What are your personal weaknesses?) From which I gather "chocolate" was the wrong answer. Hey ho. Interestingly, they gave the job to a woman who I'd never met but who stalked me on Facebook. Still, it's reassuring to know that someone at their school knows what a Facebook status is. I wonder if the lady in question stands at the front of the class and the kids pick up her instructions on their phones;

"Sit down! U r  interfering with my Wifi. Thx. Oh turn the pg we are doin' bit when Romeo tops himself.xx"

Anyway, I recently applied for a supervisory job at the library and I didn't get it. Now I don't want to brag but compared to my previous management jobs I think it would have been easy peasy. No disrespect to you folks who might work in a proper library (ie one in a city or one with those annoying academics who come in and ask for " Issue 32 of Remote Ancestry by Professor Unknown published somewhere between 1845 and 1910.") This is a small provincial library where the highlight of the day would probably be pinning a new notice to the noticeboard and getting your kicks by overcharging on the late books and pocketing the difference. And, let's face it, libraries are so PC these days you can't do anything controversial at all...

For example, in the days when I worked in retail management it was best practice to get the nutters out of the door as fast as possible. My record was about 30 seconds. Basically, nutters are always looking for something you know you don't have - so you must keep them moving because once they're sitting you're doomed for a minimum 3hr chat about their cat or some long lost relative or in the worse case scenario - their health.

Talking with a nutter about their health is the most serious issue for anyone working in the retail sector because you know you are in it for the long haul. These people will be back, time and time again, to give you the latest update on their big toe/bowels movements/voices in their head. So you must keep them moving  at all costs. Whilst nutters are talking, you must do lots of nodding and smiling (so they trust you) and pretend to search for whatever it is they want (usually a replica collectible teapot, an Irish whiskey glass or if they're really bonkers - a watch with 21 jewels) whilst you discreetly move them back towards the doorway. Then you open the door for them and say;

Well we don't appear to have one of those. I'm soooooo sorry. Mind you, I heard they sell them in Harvey Nichols. They are so wonderful! The last time I was there they even brought me a cup of tea whilst I was choosing an outfit. Marvellous! 

Then you point the nutter in the direction of Harvey Nichols, wave and relax. Job done. Finally, return to your post and congratulate yourself on screwing up the day for staff at the opposition.

Hmm, so where was I going with this? Oh yes. So in retail you aim to get rid of the nutters asap but in libraries you have to be PC - so all I would have done is shown them to the big print section (which hopefully would be tucked alongside the health section) thus keeping them occupied for hours, possibly even weeks.


Anyway, I didn't get the job at the library. I don't know why but it could be because I didn't have one of the listed criteria which was an ECDL or for those of you like me who'd never heard of it - European Computer Driving Licence - which is roughly equivalent to a GSCE in IT. Now I don't want to sound too bitter and twisted but I've seen the PCs in the library and they are so old they probably crank them up with a key like an old car...

Deirdre, Deirdre! It's nearly 9am. Get your gloves on. It's time to start up the engines - it looks like we've got a rush on returns!"  (Queue of 3 people outside entrance - one of whom is obviously a nutter as she is clasping a chipped floral teapot.)

Yeah, the computers are so old at the library I think I could work it out. In fact, I'd be pleasantly supervised if they had a keyboard.

You know, I think it would have been very, very amusing working at the library. Perfect fodder for my blog. Hmm... maybe they discovered my blog and thought the same!

No, actually I'm not admitting I write a blog on my CV so no one will know ever know! Unless of course, they stalk me on Facebook....

Friday, August 19, 2011

Opinions Please

I'm sure that most of you across the world have read of the recent rioting in the UK. It's been a few worrying weeks and many people have been musing over the possible causes of the terrible events; bad parenting, a weak penal system, economic crisis, political incompetence, poor education and so on. It is, of course, the result of many combining factors. It's a tragic situation and in the past, amongst my usual silly posts, I've written more serious articles on how the changes in society, particularly with respect to education during the Labour government, have caused me great concern.

I have, however, recently discovered another reason for the riots; one of my ladies from the Book Club sent me a truly shocking picture depicting a heinous crime. Apparently, the offending picture was taken on the opening night of the riots at a social event in Tottenham; I was gob smacked at the overt irresponsibility demonstrated in the picture - so much so, that bile gathered in my throat, my knees buckled and my hair stood on end. I just couldn't believe the sickening audacity of the crime.

You must brace yourself, Readers, for something truly shocking...

Now come on Readers, you have to admit it - if you were the mother-in law of the bride who chose this cake wouldn't you cause a riot?

Now where did I put my sunglasses....

Saturday, August 13, 2011

On Yer Bike!

So yesterday I'm driving merrily along in the car with young Master Benedict beside me in the passenger seat. You may have noticed from previous posts that this is the time when Master Benedict often startles me with his bold/sneaky/cunning questions. In fact, if it wasn't for the fact he's in the car with me I'd think he was trying to cause me to crash into the central reservation.  Take yesterday's question which was arguably one of his best yet...



Did you have one of those bikes with one big wheel and one small wheel?

Hmm. I know I've aged recently but not that much. Surely?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Jean Claude Van Damme's Pants Are Too Tight.

I apologise, Readers, but I must interrupt the current spate of stupidity on this blog with yet more stupidity.

I have just seen this advert, starring a weather beaten Jean Claude Van Damme:


What the hell is that all about?

His pants are frozen rock solid?

He's walking like a penguin?

Cripes, I am so perplexed about that advert I have no idea what lager he's advertising! But if it's frozen his assets it can't be good.

You know, on balance, I don't think that penguin walk has anything to do with lager. He's trying to put us of the scent:

I think he's had a vasectomy.

Story Time

Right, so I've written a really stupid story. However, I am not taking the blame for it. I know that makes me sound like a politician but at least I'm not charging anyone to read it or trying to claim for a cheese sandwich whilst I was writing it. Anyway, I am blaming my writing buddy, Gary Davison. You may remember that this is one of Gary's books...

Rumour has it Gary did the modelling for his book cover.  No comments about the small size of the star please.

 ....which just in case you haven't got your glasses on it's about streaking. (It's a very subtle cover as you can see.) What I want to know is what the hell is Robin doing running across the cover? I hope Batman doesn't get jealous. (Could be the makings of a sequel there, Gary.) Anyway streaking is a novel choice for a novel (and Streakers is pretty funny) so maybe I shouldn't be surprised that Gary set me the almost insurmountable task of writing a story with the following instructions;

Man and woman in an office, sitting at their desks, perhaps discussing one of the following:
a) Tea or coffee?

b) Sun or skiing?

c) Playing the 'if you had to, which would you?' game. Using all people in the office. You know, if you had to would you do Linda or Mel? Chance to bring more people into the story. Can have plenty of characters walking in and out to add to story - maybe a bit of drama like someone left a shit in the toilet :)

d) A mouse.

Well, as you can see, it wasn't an easy task Gary had set - as I had to immediately scratch out the tea and coffee/sun and skiing scenarios. I mean how boring would those be?

Bob: Which do you like best: tea or coffee?

Jim: Coffee.

Bob: Black or white?

Jim: White. With two sugars.

Bob: I only have one.

Jim: Only one sugar? 

Bob: No, only one biscuit. For Dunking.

Jim: Oh.( Looks out of window, depressed) Where you going for you holiday?

Bob: Tenerife. (Looks out of window, depressed.) For the sunshine.

Jim: I'm going skiing. In December. 

Bob: Great.

Jim: Want to come?

Bob: No.

Jim: So... tea. How do you like your tea?

(Mrs T slowly takes gun to head...) 

Yes, it's fair to say I wasn't exactly inspired by the idea of a story of about tea and coffee. The potential scenario reminded of those horrendous "lets all bore each other senseless" conversations at the hairdressers where the hairdresser asks you if you want a coffee or tea (I won't go into detail for obvious reasons) and follows it by asking where you're going for your hols. Then she has the audacity to charge you an extra fiver for being friendly. (Consequently, as you can imagine, I don't talk much at the hairdressers. Just the occasional grunt if the girl is looking too enthusiastic with her scissors.)

Anyway, that sort of left the mouse, the shit and maybe some hanky panky going on. And this what I came up with. Brace yourselves folks - we're not looking at Nobel prize literature stuff here. However, I am thinking of offering myself as a ghost writer for Jordan (aka Katie Price.)

Trouble in the Office

A loud screech reverberated around the office.
“Oh my God!” screamed Cheryl, jumping up from her desk, her chair falling over behind her.
“What is it?” sighed Steve, looking up from his PC where he’d been looking at Trish from Essex with bigger than average breasts.
“It’s a mouse!”
“Is that all? I thought you’d stapled your fingers to the invoices,” said Steve, bookmarking the dating site for further investigation.
“It’s in my drawer!”
“Is that your drawer or your drawers?” said Steve, leaning back in his chair, hands clasped behind his head.
“Just get rid of it!”
“Yeah, do us a favour,” yelled Adrian from across the office. “Any more of Cheryl’s sagas and I’m gonna drown myself in the water butt.”
“It’s eating my rice cakes!”
Steve pushed his revolving chair back from his desk and slid over to Cheryl’s desk like a professional ice skater.
“So what do I get as a reward if I get rid of it? A date?” said Steve, eyeing up Cheryl’s bottom.
“Anything, anything! Just get rid of it or I’m going to faint.”
“Right, a date it is,” said Steve, winking at Adrian. What a beautiful set-up. For six months Steve had failed to date Cheryl and then, quite by chance, he discovered her phobia whilst they’d been having a cigarette by the bins and a mouse had scuttled passed. “Now where exactly is this mouse?”
“There,” said Cheryl, pointing at the little grey mouse ferretting amongst her stationery and nibbling her rice cakes.
“What a lovely little fella,” said Steve, picking up the mouse by the tail and dangling it in front of Cheryl’s face.
“Stop it, stop it!”
“A date then?”
“Yes, yes!”
“Okay then.” Steve cupped the mouse leaving a little gap between his fingers. A little soft face with brown eyes and long whiskers appeared. “He’s a beauty.”
“What are you going to do with it?” said Cheryl, throwing the rice cakes in the bin.
“Shred it,” yelled Adrian.
“You can’t do that!” said Cheryl. “It’s a mouse.”
“But you don’t like mice. So what does it matter?” said Steve.
“That doesn’t mean I want to kill it.”
“Women. So bloody difficult. I’ll take it outside and release it. Happy?”
“Yes. Here, take the rice cakes for it.” Cheryl picked the rice cakes back out of the bin and popped them in Steve’s jacket pocket. “He’s probably hungry.”
“You could put it on the factory floor. That’ll close us down for a week,” said Mike, sipping his lukewarm coffee and sauntering over from his desk by the photocopier. “I could do with a holiday.”
“Good point,” replied Steve. “I’d better get rid of it fast.”
Steve cupped his hands tight again and threaded his way out the office, stopping to show the little furry creature to everyone and taking pleasure in the murmurs of appreciation. Just as he was trying to negotiate the door with his shoulder, it flew open and in hurried Rich, red faced and flustered, waving a box file in the air.
“What you got there, mate?” said Rich, avoiding a collision with Steve and eyeing up his cupped hands.
“A mouse.”
“Christ. Get rid of it quick. That could shut us down for a week.”
“I know, I know. Right then, mousey. Say goodbye to the pretty lady.” Steve held up the mouse and squeaked, “Goodbye Cheryl, see you at Finnegan’s on Friday.”
The office rang out with laughter, even Cheryl giggled as she sat back down, picking up her invoices again.
“Hurry up, mate,” said Rich. “I’ve got an important announcement.”
Steve pushed past and hot-footed it towards the Gents at the end of the corridor.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” boomed Rich. “I have announcement. I, Richie the Rich, smart-arse Wokingham, have won over the MD.”
A whoop of delight and a round of applause rippled round the office.
“Hurrah,” said Adrian, flicking a paperclip across the room.
“Jolly good show, old bean,” said Darren, peering out from behind his spectacles whilst blowing up a battleship on his computer.
“Well, come on then. Tell us the astounding news, smart-arse,” said Mike, throwing his coffee cup in Cheryl’s bin and ambling back to his desk.
Rich opened up the box file and pulled out a pink cardboard box and held it up for display like a placard at a boxing match.
“Friends, Romans, plebs of the office, I, Richie the Rich, have today persuaded the managing director to change the Mrs Fanny’s fairy cake packaging to…PINK.”
An even bigger round of whooping and applause echoed around the office as Rich beamed and took a bow of thanks.
“And tell us, Rich,” said Adrian as the cheering subsided, “What colour was it before?”
“Umm… it was…it was…red,” said Rich, grimacing to the sound of a unanimous groan from his colleagues.
“Did you say ʽredʼ?” said Mike, grabbing the box file and pulling out an almost identical pink box. “So, you’ve got the box changed from this ʽredʼ…or should I say this ʽdark shade of pinkʼ to a ʽlighter shade of pink.ʼ Is that right?” Mike patted Rich on the back as Rich’s expression turned from elation to despair. “Well done, mate. There’s an award waiting for you.”
Rich sat down at the nearest empty desk, clasping his head in his hands. “God, I hate this job. Product development, my arse. My whole life wasted on cake packaging.”
“Cheer up,” said Adrian. “Remember your success with the flapjack? Sales went up twenty percent in one week when you changed the packaging from black to white.”
“And the italics on the chocolate chip cookies looked classy. My mum said so,” said Cheryl, looking up from her paperwork with a sympathetic smile.
Rich banged his head up and down on the desk in frustration. “I hate cakes. I hate cakes. I HATE cakes.”
The office door burst open again and Steve rushed back in. “You’ll never guess what I’ve just seen.” Everyone stopped laughing at Rich and looked at Steve with anticipation. “It’s the biggest floater I’ve ever seen. In the Gents. It’s massive!”
“I gotta see this,” said Adrian.
“Me too,” said Mike.
“Come on, come and have a look!” Steve glanced at Rich still sprawled over the desk. “And you too, mate. Looks like you’ve had another glorious success.”
“Oh, if I must,” said Rich, jumping up, revitalised by the thought of the world’s largest floater being discovered at Mrs Fanny’s cake factory.
“Unbelievable,” said Cheryl as the men rushed out of the office and down the corridor chatting and laughing.
“Fifteen grown men going to admire a floater,” said Babs, pulling out her nail file from her top drawer. “If only they worked as hard at work as they do at being idiots we’d double our output and get a bonus.”
“No chance,” said Maureen, glancing up from her keyboard and pushing her glasses back up her nose. “I’ve been here twenty-five years and there’s not a day goes by without talk of flatulence or women. I don’t know how I’ve put up with it.”
“How do you think that mouse got in your desk, Cheryl?” said Babs.
“I’ve no idea.”
“Do you think somebody put it there?”
“Why would they?”
“Because of your phobia.”
“Nobody knows about it.”
“Except Steve. Remember that day we saw the mouse by the bins?”
“Oh, it’ll definitely be that Steve,” said Maureen, interrupting. “He’s got the eyes for you, Cheryl. Any excuse to talk to you and he’s there. Now he’s got a date out of you.”
“I thought you fancied him. Why haven’t you gone out with him yet?” said Babs.
“I’ve seen him looking at women’s pictures on the net,” said Cheryl, despondently.
“That’s just men’s stuff,” said Maureen. “Doesn’t mean a thing.”
“Let’s have a look at his PC,” giggled Babs.
“Why not?” said Maureen, heaving her buxom frame out of her chair and bustling over to Steve’s desk. “Let’s see what the naughty fellow has been up to.”
Babs and Cheryl got up from their desks and peered over Maureen’s shoulder.
“We shouldn’t really be doing this,” said Cheryl.
“Oh, stuff and nonsense,” said Maureen, tapping away on Steve’s keyboard. “Right, what’s he got in his bookmarks? Hmm…Trish from Essex...Sharon from Doncaster…Kylie from London.”
“See, I told you. How could I date a bloke like that?” said Cheryl as Maureen flicked through pages of dating sites featuring big-busted blondes.
“What a perv. Let’s see what he’s got in his pictures,” said Babs.
Maureen clicked open Steve’s pictures. The three women looked at the one picture and then at each other in amazement.
“It’s me,” said Cheryl, “at last year’s Christmas party.”
“Blimey, he must be smitten. He’s even painted a love heart in the corner,” said Babs in awe.
“Take it from me,” said Maureen. “I’ve got five sons. These other girls are just fantasy stuff. It’s you he wants.”
“Do you think so?” said Cheryl.
“Definitely. Now back to work, girls,” said Maureen as footsteps and laughter reverberated down the corridor again. “I hear the motley crew returning.”
“Ladies, ladies, ladies. What do I have for you?” said Rich, entering the office just as the women were getting seated. “Only the world’s largest floater.” Rich held up his phone for everyone to see. “Yes, captured on film for all eternity - the world’s one and only, supersized, cake-induced floater!”
“You’re disgusting,” said Babs, wrinkling her nose at the distant sight of the floater. “I don’t want to see it.”
“Me neither,” said Maureen. “I’ve seen enough number twos in my time. The plumber practically lives at my house.”
Rich rushed over to Cheryl’s desk. “What about you, Cheryl? Isn’t it a beauty?”
“That’s revolting,” said Cheryl, grimacing at the close-up on Rich’s phone.
“It’s champion,” said Rich. “What d’you reckon, Steve?”
“Quality, quality,” said Steve. “Any man would be proud of that.”
“No one’s admitting to it though,” said Rich. “What a spoil sport. And it’s an historic floater.”
“I reckon it’s the MD’s. I always said he was a big turd,” said Steve.
“How right you are,” said Rich, grinning. “And now, the only thing left to do is…to email it to all the company!”
Rich and Steve huddled over Rich’s PC, chuckling as they downloaded the photo.
“Hmm…there’s something missing,” said Steve, standing back to admire the picture from another angle. “Paint some candles on it.”
“I’ll put a frill around it as well. And a ribbon at the front,” said Rich with the enthusiasm of a schoolboy.
“And put a couple of Smarties either side of the candles,” said Steve.
“Perfect,” said Rich, admiring their handiwork. “And now to send it.”
“I’ve got it!” cried Darren.
“Crikey, that was quick,” said Rich. “My email’s slow today.”
“Not the floater, Rich. The Class A Russian spy sub. Finally found the little fucker. Blown it to smithereens.”
“Good job, Darren. Now find my desk will you? I haven’t seen it under all this shite for a week,” said Rich, chuckling at his own repartee.
“Hey, Steve,” said Cheryl, leaning towards Steve who was now back at his desk. “Thanks again for getting rid of the mouse. It was alright, wasn’t it?”
“Yes, it was fine.”
“I was just wondering…well, I’m free tonight. If you wanted to bring that date forward?”
“Well, okay,” said Steve. “That would be…fantas…nice.”
Steve and Cheryl broke off their conversation as Mike ran into the office brushing cigarette ash off his jacket. “Mr Johnson’s coming!” he shouted.
“Quick, everyone. Back to work,” cried Rich. “The Führer is on his way.”
A deathly hush crept over the room as the door opened and in marched Mr Johnson, the managing director.
“Who sent this out?” demanded Mr Johnson, waving a picture of the floater. Reluctantly, Rich and Steve raised their hands whilst their colleagues smirked. “Wokingham? I might have known it would be you. And you too Smith? Get down to my office. Both of you. We need to talk.”
Rich and Steve rose from their chairs and with hunched shoulders followed Mr Johnson out of the office, a host of whispers and giggles bursting out behind them. They walked in silence, giving each other miserable glances, until they were standing before the managing director’s desk.
“Before we get down to business,” said Mr Johnson, making himself comfortable in his plush chair. “Do either of you know about that caged mouse in the Gents? It could put us out of business for a week.”
“Um…it’s mine, sir,” said Steve.
“For heaven’s sake, Smith. What were you thinking of?”
“Just a scheme to get Cheryl on a date, sir.”
“Christ, you’re not still trying to get your leg over? Well, I’ve got to admire your inventiveness. Next time avoid mice though, will you? I’ve got a business to run.”
“Yes, sir,” replied Steve, standing to attention.
“Now about this cake,” said Mr Johnson, picking up his printed email.
“Cake?” replied Rich. “What cake?”
“The chocolate log, Wokingham. It’s a brilliant idea. Why didn’t you tell me this morning, when you were here with the packaging?”
“Um…I…we were still working on it,” said Rich, searching for an excuse.
“We wanted to canvas opinions, sir,” said Steve, coming to the rescue. “With the email.”
“Well, it’s brilliant,” said Mr Johnson, beaming profusely. “I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before. “Mrs Fanny’s Birthday Chocolate Log.” It’ll sell millions. Put it into production immediately!”

Steve and Rich glanced at each other and grinned; perhaps Mr Johnson wasn’t such a big turd after all.


See, I told you it was daft.  Now if anyone wants to set me a scenario which has the potential for explosive literary drama please do so. I love a good challenge and nothing can be harder than that last one!

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Shock Treatment

It's early morning. It's the school holidays and I'm under serious pressure. If you have three sons you'll know what I mean. Therefore, when I get up in the morning and do my quick surf of the news sites I do not want to see pictures that make me feel ill such as this one:

That, my friends, is VAL KILMER.

Yes. Val Kilmer! Look, I know getting old ain't good to any of us, particularly if you've eaten too many pies, but let's be honest here Val Kilmer used to be hot, hot, hot. Now he looks like Ken Dodd's younger brother. Yeah, you know who Ken Dodd is - the comedian with the tickling brush and the Diddy Men.

What can I say? I hope it's a temporary thing for Val but after having a (very) bad day yesterday and scoffing 2 slices of pizza, 2 flapjacks, a shortbread and a consolatory bar of chocolate from the good Mr T and now today, after seeing that piccy of Val, I am definitely back on the straight and narrow. Strictly bread and water. I do not want to look like Ken's younger sister. Even if I have got a tickling brush.

A short story coming soon. Why not? I have to inflict in someone it might as well be you lot!

My Nominees for the US and UK Elections and Other Waffle

It's the early hours of the morning, and I have had a large gin... Late-night alcohol is always a good recipe for writing gibberish. And...