Wednesday, April 27, 2005

24 Hour Party People 

Job completed without hitches shocker.
It’s all in the preparation, you know. Which is just as well, because I’ve got shit for brains when it comes to having to think on the spot.
Tomorrow the user does some testing and I should get the all clear to go home again.

I’m bored with fancy hotel living. The waiter gives me that “Oh, you’re still here are you?” look when I present myself in his restaurant.
Still, it’s fertile ground for making up stories about the other guests.
I was very taken by the German in the obligatory leather waistcoat who oinked like a startled piglet when he laughed, which was virtually non-stop. I might use that.

It’s becoming all too clear how a man could easily turn into Alan Partridge and go wandering off to the 24 hour garage in a pathetic attempt to befriend the bloke behind the counter.
Perhaps it’s similar to the way that hypothermia victims become deranged with fevers, believing themselves to be burning up when the exact opposite is the case, abandoning their tents and their reason in the middle of the night and coming to sorry ends half naked in a frozen river in a desolate unforgiving landscape, millions of miles from the comforts of home and the safe, warm bosom of their family.

I watched The Apprentice and caught the last bit of Grand Designs before falling asleep with the radio on.

Dream 9
In my dream, there is a duck sitting on the sofa in my hotel room. I blink and it’s gone.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Mirror In The Bathroom 

The mirrors in my hotel bathroom are configured in such a way as to allow you to check out your own butt, if you want to. And let’s face it, you do want to, don’t you?
You’re alone in a town where nobody knows you, and there’s nothing or nobody to stop you from observing yourself naked from front, side and rear elevations should you so choose. If you turn off the bathroom light but leave the one in the bedroom on, you can observe yourself in a rather sultry silhouette.
It’s only human nature, so don’t be down on yourself if you do this once in a while.
Obviously, if you’re doing this on a more regular basis, like daily, you should be ashamed of yourself and should seek counselling from a professional in the field.

Needless to say, coming face to face with my own arse put me in a pissy frame of mind all day.
It was as if I’d suddenly become 3-Dimensional, and I’m more of a 2-Dimensional kind of guy at heart. It was unsettling. How long have I had that double chin?

The job’s going alright though.

Dream 8
In my dream, I’m playing ‘bee golf’ with Sir Paul McCartney. Bee golf is the same as normal golf, except that you use a dead bee instead of a ball, and instead of a hole you have to play the dead bee onto a ten pence piece.
Neither of us are much good at this game, although Paul claims that back in the sixties he scored a hole in one against George Harrison, who himself was a good player.

Monday, April 25, 2005

I Left My Bag In Newport Pagnell 

There is a white grand piano in the hotel restaurant. Like a streaker just before he takes to the hallowed pitch at The Oval, or Lords, or wherever, I contemplated my chances.
How much of my widely loved rendition of Hey Jude would I be able to get through before hotel security dragged me away, to work me over with a baby chair in a distant back room where no-one would hear my screams?

Stella has sent me Darn Sarf on a job. Today’s part of the operation went smoothly - getting here - although the bit after the toll booths on the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge was as hair raising as ever. X many lanes of post-toll booth traffic quickly merge into three lanes of motorway, and for about twenty seconds, high speed anarchy and recklessness prevails. It’s quite invigorating, in a blokey ‘I’m not arsed, this is just a hire car’ kind of way.

I’ve already made use of the hotel gym - 30 minutes on the running machine, 3.2 units of distance, miles I guess. My legs are still full of lactic acid from Thursday’s run, though it could be citric acid or sulphuric for all I know.
The bald headed bloke in the Status Quo T-shirt may not have realised I was engaging him in a battle of body and mind for the grand title of Man Who Can Stay On The Longest, but I was. Not only that, I won too. And that’s what counts.

The head waiter was business-like, authoritative, not overly matey. He didn’t crack a smile.
“Did you enjoy the main course, Sir? Very good, Sir. Would you be interested in dessert, Sir?”
A bit like what policemen might have been like in our grandparents’ day. Polite and respectful, but no soft touch. A Dixon of Dock Green for the dining room.
I could tell he knew what I was thinking - and I could also tell that he knew that I could tell he knew what I was thinking, and so on - so I resisted temptation and decided not to try and make a break for it.

“Take a sad song, and make it better. Remember - ouch! - to let her into your heart - get off me, fascist! - then you can start - not the face! Not the face! The cheesecake was excellent, by the way. Can I have the bill please? Ouch! - to make it better.”

Girlfriend would have been proud of me.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

If I Were A Linesman I Would Execute Defenders Who Applauded My Offsides 

Girlfriend, Elland Road, yesterday.

Book Of Dreams 

Dream 5
In my dream, Radiohead are eating Chinese takeaways in their rehearsal studio when a large dollop of bright red sweet and sour sauce drops down into Thom Yorke’s meal, as if from a leaking ceiling.

Thom carries on eating unperturbed.

Dream 6
In my dream, I have to attend an important meeting. Senior personnel from my company and the client company will be there, and I’m apprehensive as I may be asked to give a presentation.

As it happens, the meeting is exceptionally dull and most of the attendees pass the time reading newspapers.

Dream 7
In my dream, I’ve parked the car closer to the office than I normally would, because I need to drop off a ghetto blaster and some lighting equipment.
A woman tells me I can’t park there, but I’ve already cleared it with a security guard. They dispute the matter with some vigour. I wander off with the ghetto blaster, but get lost in the massive sprawling car park.

I wake up but soon drift off again, and I’m still walking round with the ghetto blaster.
I pass a mid-terrace sweet shop, like the ones you sometimes see near schools. They are running a promotion on some kind of jelly baby/wine gum hybrid, ‘with real wine!’. The alco-sweets are shaped not like jelly babies but nubile young men and women, and the posters show them in a number of lewd poses. They are being promoted as ‘sex sweets’ and I think about how inappropriate this is for a school sweet shop.
It also dawns on me that the statues on the front of Elbow’s Cast Of Thousands look a bit like jelly babies. Duh! - it’s obvious. Why have I never thought of this while awake?

I wake up, but in my next dream I’m still sodding wandering around lost with the ghetto blaster.
I bump into the guy who does Go Home Productions, and suggest that he could make a good mash up from Billy Bragg’s ‘Sexuality’ and any number of versions of ‘La Bamba’.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Book Of Dreams 

Dream 4
In my dream, I’m at a wedding reception or similar type of celebratory event. There is a buffet.

I’m sitting with Kirsty MacColl and we’re both in fine form, having lots of laughs.
“You’re my favourite person in the world,” I tell her. “I wish I could be you.”

I can occasionally make myself quite upset thinking about Kirsty, but this was a lovely, happy dream. It seemed very real.
And I wonder - I would stroke my beard at this point, if I had one - who is to say that it wasn’t real for the brief time that it lasted?

Is it foolish to miss somebody so badly that you never even met?

Friday, April 22, 2005

Born To Run 

Flat as a pancake. That’s the terrain around here, and not my bosoms, sadly.
Yesterday I went for my first run in months, and my, erm, breasts were spinning round like a pair of Zanussis at a Northern Soul night. Seriously - they hurt. Can’t something be done about it?

But thank goodness for jogging babes, hey? A honey in a Brazil shirt smiled at me by the flagpole, forcing me to adjust my stride while I waited for things to settle down again, but I still managed 7.2 miles in 1 hour 4 minutes 32 seconds, and that will do. I reckon I can shave a couple of seconds off that when I’m back at my best. I didn’t see her again and this morning I can hardly walk.

Creepy Keith has blu-tacked a large map of the British Isles to his wall, with red dots marking the location of those customers which have dumped us in the last year.
He said he was trying to spot a trend.
I suggested he might want to reconsider lime green corduroy cargo pants as a good look for 2005 and made my excuses.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Book Of Dreams 

Dream 2
In my dream there is a report on the evening news about military hardware. It discusses how modern equipment is frequently made with parts from the non-military sector.
“This mobile ground based rocket launcher,” the reporter tells us, “is made from spare Toyota parts.”

A uniformed army officer prepares a demonstration. The rocket is standing on an old wooden pallet, held in position with gaffer tape. It becomes apparent that they are filming in the rose gardens in Stanley Park, Blackpool.

The rocket is launched and wobbles precariously in flight.
The officer and film crew are so pre-occupied with recording the rocket launch that they are caught off guard when it crash lands only seconds later - with a thud and a cloud of black smoke - in the tennis courts, two hundred yards away.

There is a sound of muffled laughter from the film crew.
“Aah!” says the officer, grinning sheepishly. “Terribly sorry about that!”

Dream 3
In my dream, a group of hard looking Liverpudlian women is standing around discussing Dream 2.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Bright Future In Sales 

Terry and Tabs didn’t win the Aintree Supermodel competition. They fell at the first fence.

On a positive note, however, Tabs was assured of a bright future in sales by a shiny rotund man wearing slip on shoes. He said he was going to be the next big thing in garden ornaments and gave her several saucy winks as an indication of what to expect if she decided to come and work for him.
She managed to wangle a pay rise out of Bill Surname as a consequence, proving that it is possible to come out in profit after a day at the races.

Yesterday, Creepy Keith from accounts tipped us off in a panic stricken tone that Garden Gnome Man won’t be renewing his support contract with us. Apparently, a rival IT firm in Oswaldtwistle is coming up fast on the rails.

Creepy Keith also assured Tabs of a bright future in a bijou maisonette a stone’s throw away from Grange over Sands, as he does most days, but she declined as always.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

A Rush Of Blood To The Head 

Nothing much beats receiving a food parcel from distant lands.

On Friday, a box turned up at our door containing:
two green tea flavoured Kit Kats
a passion fruit Kit Kat
a white Kit Kat
adzuki-bean and milk chocolate mushrooms

and a paper cup urging me to “Have a break time! hot drink tea coffee support your thirsty”

It came from my friend Toki. We used to work together.
Over the years we sat in many a drizzly car park on the dark perimeter of some God forsaken industrial town, solemnly munching sandwiches and making snidey remarks about salesmen. We’d discuss logical volume management and wonder if better times were around the corner.
He was my pre-Diana lunch buddy, but considerably less pretty.

Last year Toki had a rush of blood to the head and landed himself a job in Tokyo. Now he sends me emails chock full of entertaining observations on life in Japan - slightly Douglas Coupland-ish to my mind - and I’ve been mithering him to start a blog.

He’s finally got round to it.
He’s gone for one of those minimalist concept blogs, publishing photos of odd Japanese foodstuffs and places he’s been, but not actually writing much.
I like it, but can't help thinking it's a bit of a shame, considering he’s funny, eloquent and sitting on an absolute blogging goldmine.
I’ve broken Unspoken Rule Number One by saying I wish he’d change the way he blogs, that it should be more like his emails.
I dunno, maybe I shouldn’t have. We’ll see. I’m hoping he’ll guest blog for me here sometime.

In the meantime, please would you pop over to Our Man In Tokyo, say hello and politely ask him to pull his finger out.

Me and Girlfriend tried a green tea flavoured Kit Kat on Sunday, during a break from sitting in the mud pulling up weeds. It was nice, a bit like Caramac.
Please don’t anybody spoil it for me by saying you can get them from Sainsburys.

Monday, April 18, 2005

My Book Of Dreams 

Dream 1.
In my dream I’m listening on the telephone to a recording of my former boss giving me some extensive advice just before I left to go and work for a different boss.
In real life, I never got on much with this boss, he never had that much to say to me in all the time I worked for him.
The advice goes on and on, and at the time I thought it was dull, but as I’m re-listening to it now in the dream, I’m thinking “This is good advice. I’m glad he took the time to tell me this. He didn’t have to do that.”

Of course, I can’t remember what any of it was.

Suddenly the scene changes to a church yard in Shropshire that I haven’t seen in over twenty years.
The boss is having a discussion with a scientist (a woman) about a new breed of bat/bird that has been seen nearby.
The bird excrement is highly toxic, bio-hazardous and poses a serious threat to humans.
One of the reasons to be alarmed is that the species of bat/bird is “Once wed, always wed.”
This is a scientific technical term, meaning that the bat/birds mate for life and with the same frequency years into their relationship that they did when they first began mating.

I wake up. It’s one o’clock. I write this down in my new Book Of Dreams. I’m unable to get back to sleep until at least after three o’clock. I hear the milkman making his delivery.

How can the scientist know about the mating behaviour of this animal years on into it’s relationship if it's a new breed?

I’ve no idea what this dream means.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Is There Anyone Else Who Has Slightly Mysterious Bruises? 

“Morning Homer,” chirruped Stella as she bounced into the office.
“Aha!” I said. “It’s Sideshow Bob, actually.”

Mike, Terry, Ash and Zippy looked up from their screens and stared at me.

“I’ve had my people look into this, and it’s Sideshow Bob in the rake scene. Not Homer. So there! Ha ha ha ha!”
“You have people?” asked Stella, looking bemused.
“Yes I do.”
“You have people constantly on hand to research Simpsons episodes for you?”
“That’s right, Stella. Friendly little people who live inside my computer at home. They put me right on all sorts of matters. Sometimes they just chat amongst themselves. They know their shit. It was the Cape Fear episode, since you ask.”

By now, everybody was giving me that look. It wasn’t a look of pity and barely (bearly?) suppressed laughter. Not by any means. It was one of silent awe and respect.

Feeling somewhat vindicated, I spun round on my swivelly chair to face my PC with a theatrical flourish, catching my leg painfully on a set of drawers, knocking over two cold mugs of coffee and deleting the previous hour’s work in so doing.

Last night, me and Girlfriend went to see the fabulously now Rufus Wainwright at the rather groovy Lowry in Manchester. What a memorable encore.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

So Tonight That I May See 

You must have seen the episode of The Simpsons where there are a load of garden rakes lying on the ground - I forget why - and Homer stands on one, gets whacked in the face by the handle, stands on another, gets whacked again, stands on another, gets whacked, and so on for a number of whacks.

The joke is not so much the sight of a man whacking himself in the face with a garden rake, which is in itself very funny, but his inability to learn not to get whacked again. Homer is locked into a grim cycle of self-inflicted pain, too stupefied to break out of the loop, too numb to begin to understand why the bad thing keeps happening. He accepts his fate with unquestioning gloom.

But apart from my boss comparing me to Homer Simpson, I had a fairly good annual appraisal. Stella seemed quite pleased with my efforts in what has been a difficult year - has it? I hadn’t even noticed - and was impressed with the way I took over the reins when she was away recently.
She’s more amused than annoyed by my tendency to send private emails out to the whole company or parts of it. Not everybody sees it that way, she said, nodding in the direction of Upstairs, but she doesn’t give a stuff. So that’s alright then.

I was distracted to see that my old ‘To Do’ list - the one that went missing - was on top of a pile of papers on her desk. There was a post it attached to it, ‘DRINK PROBLEM?’ written in capitalised scrawl, but clear enough for me to be able read it upside down. The note was upside down. I was the right way up.
I was waiting for her to mention it, but when the appraisal finished and she hadn’t so much as glanced at the note, I decided to let it lie. Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory is my normal way of operating, so I’m pleased for now that I didn’t screw up a reasonably decent appraisal. All the same, it made me wonder.

On Friday night me and Girlfriend finally went to see our punk rock plumber’s band. Pretty good.
The support band were good too. We weren’t sure if mini-punks between 11 and 15 are actually allowed to play pub gigs, but who cares? They already have appearances at London’s famous Marquee Club and on Blue Peter under they’re belts. I'm wondering now if I should have got them to sign the CD one of the punk-moms sold me.

And finally, the Continental Market - a sort of travelling circus with bratwursts, Breton biscuits and real foreign stallholders, not just chancers from Skelmersdale in stripy jumpers and funny hats - came to town.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Collective Dreamwish Of Upper Class Elegance 

Every year on Ladies Day at Aintree, Bill Surname CEO invites a dozen or so customer CEOs to a corporate schmooze in his hospitality tent. They spend the day guzzling champagne, exhibiting their trophy spouses, arranging to hot tub sometime, blowing a fortune on the horses and kidding themselves that they’re living the high life.

All the directors attend, and a couple of employees are asked to go along to be drinks assistants. In return for keeping everyone’s glasses full and helping the show run smoothly, you get a day away from the office and some spending money for the racing.
Needless to say I’ve never been invited, but apparently it’s a good laugh so long as you don’t mind having your arse pinched repeatedly.

This year’s golden couple are Company X’s very own Posh’n’Becks, Terry and Tabs.
They’re both dreading it. The notion of Terry being a smooth talking hospitality facilitator is preposterous, although I can imagine Tabs being great value after a few glasses of Confidence Builder 1997.
Somebody thought it would be funny to enter them into the Looking Good Style Contest. They’ve already got their numbers - that’s where I nicked the blurb from for the previous post - and they’re not looking forward to this much either.
Tabs scrubs up very nicely and I’m sure she’ll be gorgeous, but Terry - on a catwalk? The mind boggles.

It’s tomorrow. Stella’s bringing a telly in so we can wave if we see them, and Mike, who was born and bred in a branch of William Hill, is planning to turn the office into a betting shop.

My money’s on a promising young filly from County Cork who responds well to the whip and likes it when the going is firm.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Up On The Catwalk 

“This is your pre-register unique identification number (UIN). On the day, proceed to the Winner’s Enclosure following signs for pre-registered entrants.
You will be invited by the Style Contest organisers to present yourself in front of the judges.
You will be advised when to step onto and when to leave the catwalk.

You have been allocated your UIN. This MUST be kept with you at all times, including after you have left the catwalk.

The finalists will be announced by their UIN via the public address system, CCTV and displayed in the Winner’s Enclosure between 1.15pm and 1.30pm.

The finalists will be asked to return to the Winner’s Enclosure by 2.00pm and MUST have their UIN.

The winner will be judged to be “The Most Stylish Racegoer for Racing at Aintree” at 4.30pm.

Good luck!!!”

Monday, April 04, 2005

Flying Dream 143: Stretched Out My Arms And My Feet Left The Floor And How All Fifteen Stone Flew To You I Don’t Know 

Email from Diana, Head of Marketing:
04/04/2005 12:18

Lighten up, Fatso. It was just a joke and you knew it.
Stop being such an air sucker. Please.

Sorry :-(

Reply to Unix Engineering Department:
04/04/2005 15:41

Air sucker yourself.

Alright then, but pull another stunt like that and you’re off Team Tim. Understood?
Control freak head-fuckery doesn’t become you.

And I’m not fat.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

What Goes On 

“You fucking ass hole,” said Diana as we sat down for coffee on Friday morning.
I’d gone for two slices of white toast and a regular coffee - which I’d later spill all over the place - while Diana had chosen the hot cross bun and cappuccino combo, £1.20.
Through the hatch, lovely Kath in the kitchen raised an eyebrow towards me in a “somebody’s in trouble” kind of way. I went over to fetch a fork - why a fork? - and said “Nah. You watch. April Fool's day. She’s putting it on.”
There was nobody else around.

“I don’t like what you wrote about me yesterday,” Diana said. “You’re trying to paint me as stupid and naïve. I’m not having that. And you make me sound slutty.”
“I so do not!”
“You do actually. People must think I’m some sleazy bimbo at large in the world and your role is to fret about me and play the hero.”
“But I am the hero. It’s my blog,” I said. “Nobody thinks bad things about you.”
“And I don’t like what you wrote about my Aunt and Uncle.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“You heard.”
“You are not Mike and Sue Cosgrove’s niece,” I laughed. “Absolutely not. I’m sorry. No way. Otherwise you’d have mentioned it before. Like yesterday, for instance, when I was spouting off about them.”

Diana looked me in the eye, paused a moment, then told me that Sue is her Mum’s sister. Diana and her brothers used to stay with Sue and Mike when her Mum was ill and her Dad needed a break from looking after them all. She’s never told anyone because she doesn’t want people thinking she only got her job because she’s related to two of the directors, that she didn’t win it on merit.

I mulled this over for a minute or so, then told her she was talking bollocks.
“You’re twisting my melon, man,” I said. “Nice try, but that’s bullshit. April Fool's.”

This was a mistake. Something snapped and for a second I thought she was going to go ape. Instead she just went really quiet. It wasn’t good. I’m not sure, there may have been a tear, she wouldn’t look at me.

It was round about this point that her mobile rang and I jumped up as if it was gunfire or something and sent coffee flying everywhere, and she spent ages talking to someone about print runs or brochures or whatever and it dawned on me that I don’t actually know anything about what a Head of Marketing does. She’s my only ally in this place and I know nothing about her job, how she spends her days here, what goes on in her head, not much about her at all.

I mopped up the mess with some kitchen towels, then sat around and waited for her to finish, but the call went on and on and eventually I had to get back to my desk for a conference call. So I sort of gestured at my watch, shrugged lamely and mimed putting on an imaginary headset, all of which is international sign language for saying look, I’m sorry, I’ve got to go now, I’ll catch you later, I really am sorry, whatever it is we can sort this out.

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