Archive for August, 2004


Tuesday, August 31st, 2004

Last night I was discussing nicknames with a couple of my Hospital Radio chums.

At school, Mark was known as “Olly”, becasue his middle name is Oliver, and Brian was called “Slim”, because he wasn’t. It sort of started me thinking about the nicknames I was at school with, and was surprised how few I could remember. Tony was called “Mavis”, after Mavis Cruet, the Little Fat Fairy in the Willo the Wisp cartoon, and we had a “Saggy” because his initials were S.A.G. For reasons I can’t now remember, my year had a “Runt”, a “Gerry Gerbil” a “Baby Face” and a “Baggy”.

The teachers didn’t escape either: There was a Charley Farley (the most inspiring teacher I ever met anywhere), two female teachers called “Squeak” and “Squawk”, and a pair of teachers with the same surname: One, because he taught Divinity, was “God” – amazingly I don’t remember us calling the other “Devil”.

I too had a nickname – in fact I had a few, but the one that seemed to stick was, for some reason, this one

Protect and Survive

Monday, August 30th, 2004

I used to have a copy of Jethro Tull’s seminal 1980 album “A”. Thanks to Amazon and their wonderful music department, I’ll soon be the owner of a copy once again, but that, as they say, is another story. My favourite track on the album is “Fylingdale Flyer”, which I’ve been wandering around singing all day, and when I get to Hospital Radio this evening I’ll be searching our collection there for it.

The album also contains a track called “Protect and Survive” – “They said ‘protect and you’ll survive’…but our postman didn’t call…dah dah dah DAH DAH!” The track was named after a government booklet, advising citizens what to do in the event of a nuclear attack. Basically it said “Hide under a table, then put your head between your legs and kiss your ostrich goodbye”. Rather more useful – though not much – is the current government booklet that many of you will have seen by now, as it’s being delivered to every household. It says things like “In the event of an emergency, phone 999″, and “If someone isn’t breathing, and if you know how, try to give them the kiss of life*”.

Much more entertaining, and indeed the whole point of this blog, is this spoof, which is only marginally less useful, and a lot more honest, than the original. Maximum respect to Rob (TV) for telling me about it.

*Not always the best advice, but if you were trained in the kiss of life you’d know when not to attempt it. Probably.

Clearing Up

Sunday, August 29th, 2004

Following my blog of a couple of weeks ago,in which I mentioned my successful career as an Ice Thespian, a few of you (well, one anyway) was kind enough to insist on a photo. OK, then, here you go.

The taller of these two annoying dweebs is me – the shorter one is my mate Steve, last heard of being a bus driver for Southampton City Transport. We were dressed as Eskimos (I believe “Inuit” is the current politically-correct term) for a sequence best described as a parade of nations. Unfortunately this one is much too far in the past for me to remember which year it was, or the name of the show, or anything, although it may conceivably have been the year we did “Showboat”. I may be able to dig out some more pictures of my other attempts to entertain the folks of Southampton – a city so short of amusement that we can’t even get Channel 5.

Today I was minibus man at church this morning: Most of this afternoon was spent doing more sorting out in the caravan after New Wine. And that’s about it, really.


Saturday, August 28th, 2004

I think I might be ill.

I’ve just come in from a very enjoyable evening down the pub, with my mate Mark the Buddhist. And no, no alcohol was consumed – I was driving. Anyway, as our discussion ranged over a vast miscellany of subjects, MtB slipped in the question “So what gadget are you going to buy next?” Do you know, readers, I was flummoxed.

A new computer? This one does the job just fine. A new GPS? Hardly, I think the six I’ve got are probably adequate for the time being. A new camera? No, got three of those. A PDA? OK, I’ve only got one of those, but how many does a man need?

Astonishingly, there are no gadgets I actually need. We considered a geocaching robot, which would go off and find the caches while I stayed in the pub, but decided that programming a robot to forge my signature in the cache log book was probably harder that actually doing the cache. I’d like a mountain bike, but I’ve got nowhere to keep one. I’d really like a boat, which has the potential to introduce all sorts of extra gadgets: Radios, radar, yet another GPS, etc. However, boats – or at least, boats big enough to accommodate all those gadgets – don’t come cheap, and since I haven’t got enough time for the hobbies I currently do, even I don’t think that would be a good value purchase.

So for the time being, there’s no gadget in my immediate buying-sights. Hence why I think I must be ill.

TGI Friday

Friday, August 27th, 2004

Well, yesterday’s blog got a good response…I must remember to tell more tales of how people abuse me – you lot obviously enjoy them. Funnily enough, tonight’s “Word of Mouth” on the radio was discussing schadenfreude (hope I’ve spelled that right, but I’m too lazy to check).

Anyway, I was listening to the above named radio programme while sitting in a traffic jam after work, heading for another geocache*. While I was on my holibobs, some sneaky devil planted a new multi-cache, Uncommon, within a mile of my house: It’s a set of three very well hidden clues leading to the final location. On Wednesday I got to the third clue before lack of time (and non-lack of rain)drove me to give up, so tonight I went back and finished it. Then I went to the gym and sat in the steam room for a while…and now I’m home. Ooh look, it’s nearly time for the Dressing Up Game!

*Did you see that smooth link between subjects? I’m good at this aren’t I?

Mistaken Identity

Thursday, August 26th, 2004

At work today I was hailed by a lost-looking lorry driver.

Him: ‘ere mate, where’s your Goods In department?
Me: That depends, we’ve got three…what are you delivering?
Him: Dunno, hang on…(checks paperwork)…something for the print shop.
Me: That’s odd, we haven’t got a print shop. Let me have a look.
(He gives me the paperwork)
Me: Ah, you want Jelly Incorporated up the road…we’re Jellies R Us.
Him: Are you sure?
Me: Yes, look…(turns around so he can read the company name printed on the back of my hi-viz waiscoat)
Him:That says “Fat W**ker”.
Me: What?

It did too. I must remember not to stand too near the Despatch guys when they’ve got permanent marker pens in their hands.

Educational Video part 3

Wednesday, August 25th, 2004

Hello again! You’ll know by now that I’m Paul and these are my friends Chris and Martin, and in this educational video we’re taking a break from Man-Shopping to bring you “Man-Gardening: Getting Ready for the Barbecue???. Obviously if you’re a proper bloke you won’t normally touch the garden with a long-handled something-or-other, but for special occasions like barbecues, building a new shed, or chopping down trees it’s allowed. As an aside we should mention that blokes who do gardening for a living are also exempt from the normal rule, partly because humping around with wheelbarrows and rotavators is a macho thing to do, but mainly because most of them are a lot bigger than me.

Anyway, here we are in Chris’s girlfriend’s garden, and as you can see, there’s a lot of preparation to do: for a start the lawn is covered in plums that have fallen off the tree. Chris’s girlfriend thinks we’re gathering these up and putting them in a dustbin bag, but it’s much more fun to hurl them over the back wall and listen for the splash as they fall into the canal. Two tips here: If instead of a splash, you get a bloke shouting “OI!!!???, it isn’t unblokeish to run away (actually it is, but survival takes precedence). And if the bloke shouting “OI!!!??? has a beard and has come off a boat called “Charlotte Rose???, you should run very fast.

With the lawn clear, it’s time to dig the barbecue out of the shed. Needless to say it’s packed right at the back, but that’s OK as we have to get things like the garden bench out anyway. Oh look, a bag of charcoal – we needn’t have bought that one in Asda this morning. Ooh, this one is self-igniting charcoal: Needless to say, no real bloke should use this stuff – not only is it an insult to your manhood to need to use it, it also stops you having fun with lighter fluid, petrol*, flamethrowers**, nitroglycerin*** etc.

So there we are: The barbie is nicely set up alongside next door’s wall, where we’ve got a good chance of setting the ivy on fire (like we did last year). The tinnies are chilling in a bucket of ice, and Martin is just putting the finishing touches to the garden lights. I hope he knows not to plug them in while he’s still standing on the ice bucket…

What was that bang? Martin? Speak to me, Martin?

Well that’s it for this time folks – look out for our next educational video, “Visiting your Mates in Hospital the Bloke Way???.

*Don’t try this at home. Note that we tried it at someone else’s home.
**Or this
***And definitely not this

n’Ice and Easy

Tuesday, August 24th, 2004

Earlier today I mentioned in the chatroom that I used to be an ice skater, and that in my heyday had appeared in a number of Christmas Shows organised by the skating club in Southampton. Since nobody took me up on it then (apart from some rather unkind comments by SimonG), you can all read about it now.

The first show I was in, I was only knee high to a very short thing: I was a teddy bear and if the photos weren’t around to torment me, I wouldn’t remember a thing about it. In my long and enjoyable Ice Thespian career I progressed through being an eskimo, a weightlifter, Guy Fawkes, the number “6??? on a roulette wheel, the vicar in the “Flash Bang Wallop??? scene from “Half a Sixpence??? and a waiter (“Hello Dolly???). I was an American Sailor (“South Pacific???), a villager (“Fiddler on the Roof???) and a cowboy (“Oklahoma!???). The shows were all tremendous fun (although the 6 AM rehearsals on Sundays were a bit of a bugger), made even more so by the cameraderie between those taking part. The ages of the performers covered the whole range from “just old enough to stand up??? to “too old to stand up??? – I started when I was about seven, and I was 24 when we did our last show just before the Southampton Ice Rink closed its doors for the last time.

Needless to say, with all those sporty youngsters about, there was some bitchiness between the Mums as to whose little darling had the best roles, but that was business as usual, really. None of the adult skaters could be bothered with any of that nonsense really, which might explain why we had the rubbish parts.

And for some reason, the finale was always the Christmas scene from “Pickwick???, which might explain why all these years later I still know all the words to “That’s What I’d Like For Christmas???.

Educational Video Part 2

Monday, August 23rd, 2004

Smello chums: I’m Paul and these are my friends Chris and Martin, welcoming you to our latest educational video, “Man Shopping Part 2: At the DIY Store???.

Once again, our challenge has been provided by Chris’s girlfriend, and she’s asked us to get a paving slab, a spade, and a bag of assorted cable ties: Since the cable ties don’t appear to be related to the paving slab and the spade, we’re not sure what they’re for – maybe Chris is in for a surprise later. Anyway, time to start our challenge, so follow us into the store.

And straight away you can see the hardest part of this challenge: There are no power tools on our list, but here we are right inside the door faced with a complete armoury of them. Obviously we’re going to be in severe trouble if we go back with Power Tool City in the back of the car, so we’ve got to resist the temptation somehow, and here we’re using the method of “Reminding ourselves how much trouble we’re going to be in already when she sees how much booze we bought in Asda???. You may have your own favourite method, but whatever you do, have your tactics ready before you enter the store.

OK, we’re past the power tools: There’s another similar challenge for us later, though, so we need to stay alert. In the meantime, you can see Chris has found a spade, although he did it by asking a member of staff: We’ll have a word with him about using girly tactics later. And look, here are the cable ties – we weren’t told how many, or what size, to get, which gives us the opportunity to buy the biggest multipack in the store. Just the paving slab to go.

Yes, I know we haven’t got a trolley – if we were wusses we wouldn’t be presenting a video like this, would we?

You see what I meant about another challenge? They’ve put the paving slabs right next to the concrete mixers. I suppose if we went back with one of these we could use it as a mega-food mixer for the barbecue, but we’d be in so much trouble we really have to resist. So here we are with our paving slab, and all we’ve got to do is pay and go. You may have noticed that Chris’s nose is bleeding: He’ll remember next time not to go asking for directions, and the spade’ll clean up a treat.

So that’s another video made – break the tinnies out, Chris. And stop whinging about the bloodstains, it’s only a Swindon Town shirt for goodness’ sake.

Educational Video part 1

Sunday, August 22nd, 2004

Hi, I’m Paul and these are my friends Chris and Martin. In this video we’re going to show you how to shop in Asda the man’s way. As you can see, we have a shopping list – provided by Chris’s girlfriend – and you’ll also notice that our trolley is full of booze. Later in the video we’ll show you what Chris’s girlfriend did to us when we got home with this lot.

Of course, the best way to do man-shopping is buying stuff for a barbecue, as we are here today. Novice man-shoppers should practice on this easiest version of the art before moving on to the more difficult “bachelor” shop and the almost impossible “family” or “household” shop. This last, incidentally, is something you’ll be made to take part in on a regular basis, but you can abandon any thoughts of ever getting it right.

Anyway, back to the “barbecue” shop, and this is something that men are genetically programmed to be good at. Like the barbecue cooking itself, it appeals to the primeval caveman urge (incidentally, I’m writing this pile of pooh on the train, where a small child who wanted to watch what I was doing was dragged away by his mother with stern warnings about talking to strange men. I’m not strange…although given the shirt I’m wearing I suppose it’s an easy mistake). Where was I? Oh yes…shopping for a barbecue is easy, as long as you remember the key rules: Loads of booze, loads of meat, and none of that poncey salad rubbish. Extra-hot barbecue sauce is good, but it’s more macho to make your own: our approved recipe is a splash of tomato ketchup, the same amount of tabasco, and two “Scotch Bonnet” chillies. Put the whole lot in a liquidiser and thrash until it hurts.

That’s the end of this video: I know we haven’t told you much, but if you can’t do a bit of barbecue shopping you probably aren’t a man – go and buy our companion video “Man-shopping for Wusses:-The Bluffer’s Guide”.

Anyway, I spent this weekend in Nottingham at me mate Jenny’s birthday barbecue. As well as the shopping we sneaked off and did the geocache Risley Glebe, but don’t tell Jenny as she thinks we spent all the time in Asda.

The Man from UNCLE

Thursday, August 19th, 2004

I really don’t like it when people I’m not related to make their children call me “Uncle Paul???.

I’m not their uncle…the parents wouldn’t make them call me Steve, or Geoff, or Bob, so why “Uncle???? It’s been suggested that it’s to do with teaching respect for elders, but I don’t buy that – if I deserve the child’s respect I’ll get it, regardless of what they call me. And if I don’t deserve it, a false name won’t help.

My ickle Godson’s Mum takes a delight in making her boys call me “Uncle Paul???, not because she believes in it but because she likes to tease me. Daniel’s still a bit young to join in, but his big brother takes great delight in bouncing round the room chanting “Uncle Paul, Uncle Paul, Uncle Paul???. He doesn’t really know he’s winding me up, but he understands that it’s part of a game between me and his Mum.

Why don’t I like it? Don’t know really. When I was a kid I had to call my cousins (who are all rather older than me) “Uncle??? and “Auntie???, and I remember when I reached a certain age being very embarrassed at not being sure whether I was yet old enough to call them by their given names or not, and a year or so later, the same with the other adults in whose circles I moved. When I was about 12 I had a friend whose parents insisted that everyone, regardless of age, call them Pete and Phillis, and it seemed so much more natural.

There’s also the whole “pretend uncle??? thing, which always reminds me of those films they used to show us at primary school, about not getting into cars with strange men (oddly, those films all said something like “If you’re worried, ask a lady for help???, in spite of the fact that they were made within a few years after Myra Hindley was prosecuted).

So, my friends’ children all call me “Paul???, which is after all my name. Except for Alice and Elizabeth (Gill and Geoff’s girls), who for some reason call me “the Short Fat Bald Bloke???

The Games People Play

Wednesday, August 18th, 2004

I had to be at work ridiculously early this morning – not early for some, but a lot earlier than I normally start. The reason was that I had to meet my lift to the ferry terminal for a meeting on the Isle of Wight, after which I had to go to Chichester for another meeting. That’s a fair amount of buzzing about, but the fact that I was a passenger did give me a chance to think about the games people play to help long car journeys pass.

The first one of these I ever learned as a little lad was “Public Houses”. This is a game for two players, each of whom takes a side of the road, and every time a pub is passed on “your” side, the number of legs in the pub’s name counts as points. For example, “The Black Pig” would score four (because the pig has four legs), “The King and Queen” is also four, and the “Coach and Horses” gets a massive sixteen (four horses with four legs each). There’s also a version of this played to cricket rules.

Consecutive Number Plate Spotting, of course, is already well known, and needs no further description from me.

Car Snooker is another good one. You need to spot a red car, followd by a yellow, brown, green, blue, pink or black one, then another red one, and so on. A white car means the end of your turn and the other player then starts scoring with the next red. It may or may not be an urban myth that bored traffic police sometimes play a version of this where they have to stop-check cars of the appropriate colours.

But a current favourite of mine – which you can really only play as a passenger – is to wait until you’re overtaking a car. Stare fixedly at the offside front wheel until you attract the driver’s attention, then look shocked. If you’ve played it right, you should be just far enough ahead that he can’t see what you do next, and will spend the next thirty miles worrying.


Tuesday, August 17th, 2004

Well, at last I’ve achieved a few things: I’ve finished a letter to my friend Mark the Buddhist (which I might remember to post tomorrow), I’ve got the caravan sorted out after my holiday (although the fridge is still a bit of a biohazard zone), and my holiday blog is ready for you all to read. There’s a link over there on the top left.

I still haven’t found the postcards I bought while I was away, which is a pity…there was a nice aerial view of last year’s event, and if you looked really carefully you could just see my caravan in the bottom right hand corner. My Mum has one (which I posted to her) stuck to her fridge, but I really wanted one of my own for the office wall. Ah well, I can always scan hers.

Something else that’s still to be located is the source ofthe odd smell in the car. Can postcards go manky? If so, that might kill two birds with one stone, although it seems a bit far fetched doesn’t it. That’ll have to wait however…I’ve got an early start in the morning so I think I’ve done enough for one day.

Proper Blog

Monday, August 16th, 2004

Well, I’m not sure about Proper Blog, but it’s as good as you’re getting tonight…

It’s been a bit of a strange day really…of course, the fact that my holiday has left me about as tired as it’s possible to be without being dead hasn’t helped. I made the effort to be at work early to get a head start on the day, and then the person I’d left my office keys with (in case they needed access to my files) didn’t come in until late. My post in-tray was full to overflowing (I threw half of it away unread), and several things that should have been dealt with as soon as they cropped up, had been left for me. Oh, and the mega-boss is visiting on Friday and expects a presentation.

Anyway, on to subjects you lot might be interested in, I’ve done some more work on preparing the holiday blog for publication, just some pictures to sort out and you can all have a look at it. That may happen tomorrow, altlough I do have the caravan to sort out: among other things the bed linen I’ve slept in for two weeks is in there, and I need to at least get some air to it before it glutenises into a SimonG-esque mess. And I really do need to locate the source of an odd smell in the car…

Homeward Bound

Sunday, August 15th, 2004

I’m homefrom my hols. I’m very tired, I’ve just had my first proper shower for two weeks, and the washing machine may well go on strike in the next 24 hours (as indeed the fridge did while I was away).

If you’re lucky there’ll be a proper blog tomorro, and the holiday blog should go on lne Tuesday evening.


(Heads off, Omally-style, to the Chinese takeaway)

Meat is Murder

Tuesday, August 10th, 2004

Don’t worry, I’ve not gone all pinko-liberal on you (no offence to any genuine vegetarians out there, it was only a joke). I heard someone the other day describe themselves as “almost completely a vegetarian” How the wombat does that work? I reckon that, excluding preparation time etc, I spend about 45 minutes a day eating. That means that for 97% of my time, I’m not eating, and 97% should be enough “almost completely” for anyone. That means that I’m not only almost completely vegetarian (in spite of eating meat three times a day), I infact almost never eat. Quite how I stay at 18 stone is beyond me.

And in other news, I did 5 geocaches today, but I’ll have to wait and log them when I get home, as the Internet cafe is so popular that on-line time is being rationed.

I’ve Got The Power

Friday, August 6th, 2004

Last night I had the best shower I’ve ever had at New Wine.

Rather than showering in the gents, like I usually do, I investigated the power showers in the portakabin round the back. Hot water, loads of pressure…it was great! Also there was no queue, although the fact that it was midnight might have had something to do with that.

Most people are packing up to go home today, but some of us are lucky enough to be doing another week…in fact we’ve already been given our application forms to work on team next year! I’ve filled mine in, needless to say. Only 50 weeks to wait, and I’ve got another week here yet!

A Little Bit of Soap

Wednesday, August 4th, 2004

I’m not a major consumer in the “gentlemen’s grooming products” market.

For shampoo and shower gel, I normally use either what’s in the free dispensers at the gym, or if I’m at home, whatever free samples the gym have been giving away. If I do need to buy anything it’s whatever’s on offer in Tesco, or better still, Superdrug, and I haven’t used either mouthwash or aftershave since one horrible morning when I splashed on one and gargled with the other rather than vice-versa.

But when I come down to New Wine, the showers and washing facilities are so awful that I always treat myself to something a bit special, some nice shower gel and decent shampoo. I’m a great fan of Timotei’s Orange flavour shampoo, but I couldn’t find that this year so I bought some Tea Tree and Mint instead.

First evening here, and after a sweaty day of caravan rigging and medical centre cleaning, I was looking forward to a shower. I hadn’t reckoned with the effects of mint flavoured shampoo on an almost bald, sunburned head.

Let’s just say…don’t do it.

By the way, I’m keeping a holiday diary on the PDA so if you’re lucky, the day I get home I’ll upload it all in one lump, to keep you busy for a while…

Holiday Blog 1

Monday, August 2nd, 2004

Well, I found the on-site internet cafe, but at a quid for fifteen minutes you’re not getting much…

So far so good…weather is nice, and I’ve been geocaching twice…OK, it was two fail-to-finds, but at least I got some exercise. Actually, one of the ftfs was a “failed to find anywhere in Glastonbury to park”, which doesn’t really count.

In reply to various comments received: MarcB, I haven’t got a white van, but I’ve got a white 4×4. Did you see me somewhere?

Mark the Buddhist: Received your letter just before I left, I’m getting through it. The tracker isn’t working at the moment, I’ll explain in a letter.

I was going to blog about cereal Variety Packs today, but I can remember the whole story except the punchline. Maybe another time.

Bysey-bye for now.