Thursday, June 30, 2005

The Only Way Is Up 

Mike asked Stella if it was OK to take the afternoon off. He had a doctors appointment and wanted to go home and have a bath first.
“Why do you need to do that?” she asked.
A hushed silence fell upon the office.
“Because I’m going to get naked and I want to be clean.”
Everybody shuddered.
“Yeeughh!” replied Stella, one of the rare occasions when she speaks on behalf of all of us. “Sorry I asked,” and she returned to filing her nails and reading up on orgasms in Cosmopolitan.

Later on I asked Mike if he was sure about doing this half marathon, what with him being a tubby lad who likes his food, not to mention being the kind of bloke that doctors need to see naked before they can be certain.
“Are you trying to wimp out?” he asked.
“Sod off,” I said. “I went for a run last night. I’m fighting fit,” and I hopped up and down a bit on my good leg to prove it.
“Me too,” he said. “Seven miles.”
“Bloody hell! Really?”
“You sound surprised,” he said. “How far did you run?”
“Same as you, seven miles. How long did it take you?”
“How long did it take you?” he countered. Don’t you hate that?
“One hour, one minute, fifty eight seconds,” I said, trying not to sound like I was boasting. “Since you ask. PB”

He wouldn’t say what his time was. He just sat there grinning, which was really annoying.
I was also slightly thrown because this was possibly the longest and most mature conversation anybody’s ever had with Mike.
Then he said something about how my seven miles will have been on the flat, whereas it’s hilly around Blackburn, and that he also ran four miles on Saturday and Monday, and any fool can see where this is heading.

Just like violence, competitiveness can only escalate and I refuse to be beaten in a half marathon by a greasy Neanderthal who eats crisps and Mars bars all day, except at 10:30 and 3:30 when he skulks off to the toilets for his twice daily wank - regular as clockwork - comes back looking red faced thinking nobody noticed, when in fact everybody on the ground floor knows about it, frequently hears it too.

We spent the afternoon speculating why he’d need to take off all his clothes at the doctors. Terry suggested he was having Bionic Man implants shoved up his ass, which got the best laugh, but I’m not really sure how that would work and besides, I’m worried that it won’t be the last.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Sailing By 

There’s a sweet spot in the bathroom.
The vectors, trajectories and uneven floorboards all point towards a great confluence, and placing the scales in precise alignment with the radiator and the shower door makes me slightly less susceptible to gravity than I would be elsewhere in the room. Should I follow this reading or that?

I’ve been charting calories consumed and burned in my little logbook, trying to shove my heaving BMI out of the red and into the black.
I’m getting there but this isn’t travelling by Concorde, it’s a long haul across the ocean in a leaky boat and my nights are filled with creaks and dark rumblings and the temptation to jump ship and swim for peanut buttery shores is hard to resist.

I sit in my cabin all day biting my nails, thinking “I’m so hungry, I’m so hungry. This is much harder than I thought it would be, and boring too,” while all around me colleagues are diving into bacon sandwiches and cream cakes - Come on in, the fat’s lovely! - and this morning, Mike the big tubby biffer said he was running a half marathon in September and I looked at him and said “Yeah right, and my name’s Haile Gebrselassie” and now I’m running it as well, which only adds injury to insult. I don’t want to do it but I’ve given my word so what can I do?

It’s cold and dark here in my little rowing boat and the waters are murky and beset with immense danger. Peril lurks in every cupboard. I sleep with the radio on.

And now the shipping forecast issued by the Met Office, on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency at 0015 on Monday 27 June 2005.
The general synopsis at 1300: High Humber 1029 slow moving, declining 1025 by 1300 tomorrow. New loaf expected Fitzroy 1016 by same time.

The area forecasts for the next 24 hours:
Viking North Utsire, west or southwest veering northwest 4 or 5, but cakes first in the fridge. Moderate or good.
South Utsire, west or northwest 4 or 5, occasionally wine in fridge door. Guinness later.
Forth Tyne Hot Dogs, variable 3 or 4. Delicious. Moderate or good.
German bite to eat, west or northwest, variable 3 or 4.
Hunger Thames Dover, 4 or 5 donuts expected later.
Hebrides, thunder expected. Baileys on ice.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

I Could Drink A Case Of You And I Would Still Be On My Feet 

Long tall Wanda was in the pub on Friday night. She was a singer back in the eighties, making a packet on the “Maggie Maggie Maggie! Out Out Out!” circuit, but that’s all but dried up now, so instead she heads the Department of Good Manners at the University of Central Lancashire here in Preston.

She still does the singing though, and next week she’s off on tour around the folk clubs and bohemian hotspots of the West Midlands, where there is still much to protest about.
Most of her audience either wish it was still the sixties or are so far gone that they don’t realise it isn’t any more.
The high spot of her set is the Joni Mitchell medley, and when she sings “Oh I am a lonely painter, I live in a box of paints. I’m frightened by the devil and I’m drawn to those ones that ain’t afraid” there’s not a dry eye in the house, hippies young and old sobbing into their bandanas, coming up to her afterward to tell her how beautiful she is, and would she like to drop by for tea the next time she’s in town and does she know anybody who’d like some kittens and is it true you can remove red lentil stains by dabbing them with green lentils?
There’s an aura around her which speaks of wisdom and kindness and truth, and because she’s the goddess of the gently strummed 12 string people assume she’s also a public advice service, and given half a chance would have her helping them with their housing benefit forms and dubious insurance claims.
Show me a folk music audience and I’ll show you the emotionally needy.

Charlie was also out, which is always a treat. She’s very excited because she’s bought a new motorbike. It has alphachromatic pistons and orthopaedic brakes - yeah Charlie, like I understood every word you said - and it won best of breed in 1976 and is a classic of it’s generation, just like it's new owner.
One of her Hell’s Angel friends she used to ride with in San Francisco tipped her off about it, and it’s being shipped over as we speak.
She has a part time job in the University library and although she’s as comfortable with the metaphysical poets as she is with neurosciences or modern economic theory, it’s the automotive section that she thinks of as home. There’s not a Haynes manual from 1982 to the present day that she doesn’t know inside out.

In the winter months she teaches motorcycle maintenance evening classes, which to nobody’s great surprise attract a disproportionate number of students who’ve never been near a bike in their life, but she doesn’t seem to mind and the post-class pub sessions are the stuff of folklore.
She’s a legend in her own postal district.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


Question: What are the three most critical factors in Problem Management?
Answer: Communication. Communication. Communication.

It’s enough to make you want to slit your wrists, isn’t it?
Stella beamed at us, happy and proud like she’d just discovered radium or successfully used a potty for the first time.

I said, “That’s wrong. The correct answer is snappy stationary. Load up on gel grip pens and spiral bound notebooks with chunky rubberised covers. And while I’m at it – don’t skip breakfast. It’s the most important meal of the day.”

Of course her answer is also right. I just find it difficult to accept moronic platitudes from a jumped up junior manager in a Teflon power suit, waving the answer to all the world’s problems on a single sheet of A4 like she was Neville Chamberlain.

She was on a management seminar yesterday and spent this morning downwardly cascading the key points to an indifferent audience of Terry, Mike, Ash, Zippy and me.
When she wasn’t downwardly cascading, she was in the toilets upwardly disseminating the contents of her stomach. She wasn’t the only manager to turn up worse for drink.

Even Bill Surname, Chief Executive Officer, normally the epitome of sobriety, showed up looking green and sweaty, the human equivalent of a bag of old grass cuttings.
He knocked out a half-hearted email about fighting the good fight and never surrendering and was spotted twenty minutes later being helped into a taxi by Charlotte, his loyal PA, a big woman with a loose grip.

Poor Charlotte: a life long sufferer from irony deficiency, fifty years young and never intentionally kissed, nobody to wash her milk bottles last thing at night or butter her toast in the morning.

An odour of wine breath prevails throughout and rumour is we might finally be getting a new air conditioning system. The last one gave up the ghost six years ago with end of the century anxiety issues.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Time, Time, Time. See What’s Become Of Me. 

“Where were you?” asked Diana, Head of Marketing. She seemed bemused, I think.
“Where was I?”
“Yesterday? It was raining, remember?”
I must have looked even more blank than usual.
“Erm, give me a clue,” I said. “I was here. Wasn’t I?”
“Think. Think with your little Tim brain. For all it’s worth. Yesterday? After work? You said…”
“…that I’d give you a lift to the garage to pick up your car?”
“I sent you an email. I thought you’d forgotten,” she said.
We don’t have much time.
“Yes, but without the italics,” she said. “I got a lift from someone dependable instead.”

Creepy Keith from accounts popped his head round the door.
“I’m just telling him now,” said Diana.
He rolled his eyes, tutted and walked off again.
I don’t know which is worse: when he's in verbose twat mode, or passive smarmy mode. Both make me want to commit Keithicide.

Note to self: Stop forgetting stuff.

“He took me all the way home to Blackrod.” She slapped me playfully across the head with a pamphlet about exciting new solutions in data warehousing. “Because the garage was shut by the time we got there, wasn’t it? Thank goodness Keith was there to bail me out. What a nice man. Very dependable.”

It must be worse than I’d thought. Wasn’t that a fortnight ago?

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Mr. Charles Darwin Had The Balls To Ask. 

On Friday morning I permanent marker penned a blue stripe across my face, put in an early shift at the coalface and buggered off at lunchtime.
Me and Girlfriend and a bewildering profusion of her mates and their mates and their sisters and their sisters’ boyfriends and canoeing buddies went to see REM at Lancashire County Cricket ground. It was really good.
The weather just about stayed dry. It was very warm and muggy. I queued for three quarters of an hour to buy beers and missed what didn’t sound like a terribly thrilling set from Feeder.

I love REM and I guess by association that means I love Michael Stipe. Fair enough. Around The Sun doesn’t make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck like the earlier albums do, but they’ve still got that indefinable ‘it’.
I love the way they’ve kept the faith and stuck to their principals; it’s good to have constants in your life and for me - and a few hundred thousand others - REM is one of them.
They did loads of the hits and some less familiar stuff, and Stipe projected like his very existence depended on it. I thought they were great.
That said, I’m not keen on stadium sized gigs - is anybody? - and if you’ve seen the band at close quarters in a small venue then you can count yourself very lucky. I’m envious.

Back at Leanne’s a modest gathering played CDs and drank vodka and sat up late talking nonsense, then in the morning she took us to see the llamas. She still lives close by to the house where she grew up, and pointed out places where she used to play with her friends as small kids. Maybe it’s my time of the month or something, but I found that quite poignant and moving.

I haven’t been back to the town where I grew up in twenty years or so, and don’t imagine I ever will. It makes me feel rootless and a bit sad.
Likewise, when Girlfriend shacked up with me, in doing so she left the place she’d lived all her life, a place she really loved, and that seems to me a huge sacrifice to make.

On Friday night there was a funny moment when a girl who was new to that circle was asked where she worked. She’s a very bonny girl and seemed really nice too, and when she said she worked for one of the well known international charities, there was a split second of silent awe and Lisa Simpson style “Wowww!!!”
It seems that working for a well known international charity is the embodiment of sexy cool right now, in a ‘Make Trade Fair, Motherfuckers’ Chris Martin kind of way. After she left it was agreed that everybody fancied her - I was the only male present at the time - and in the highly unlikely chance that you’re reading this Natalie, erm, Hi, I hope this is less embarrassing for you than it is for me.

Oh, and Leanne showed me how to send text messages properly, so there’ll be no stppng me now.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

A Heart That’s Full Up Like A Landfill, A Job That Slowly Kills You, Bruises That Won’t Heal 

Back to work. My heart sank.

Outside our office door there was an A3 sized photo of Stella, my boss, on a recent night out. She was wearing a low cut top and had a Bacardi Breezer firmly wedged into her cleavage. She was straddled across a terrified studenty looking lad who was drinking from a straw in the bottle.

“He had to go to casualty later,” said Tabs (receptionist, superstar general admin person, really nice bum) as she rushed by carrying twice her own bodyweight in photocopying.
“She does that every time she goes out. Mad cow.”

I started up my PC and went to put the kettle on. Sodding creepy Keith from accounts grabbed me by the digestives and I had to endure ten minutes of his fetid opinions.
“Ah, Britain and Italy,” he laughed repulsively. “Two countries separated by different languages. Lambrettas, women drivers, tanks with more gears for reverse than forward, the Pope smokes dope, priests, altar boys and blowjobs, jokes about nuns in the shower, blah blah blah, I really am the most boring twat you’ll ever meet, blah blah.”
Then he began singing the tune from the Cornetto advert.
“Just one Cornetto! Give it to me!” - STFU - “Delicious ice cream from Italy!” He could not have looked more pleased with himself. “Luciano Pavarotti.”

I poured boiling water onto his feet, said “The cliché is the handrail for the crippled mind. Spike Milligan,” and left him jitterbugging up and down the kitchenette.

I took a few calls and tried to keep my head low.
Outside my window I could see Neil, my former team leader, loitering near the car park entrance. He was still there when I went out to the sandwich lady at lunchtime. I walked over for a chat, but he was busy making a call.

“Yeah, that’s right man. I got midget gems, jelly beans, wine gums.”
I could hardly hear him above the sound of gangsta rap blasting from his Mondeo. He was wearing a Burberry baseball cap, Adidas tracksuit bottoms and a Skirtlifter T-shirt.
“Dolly mixtures? You fucking shitting me, motherfucker? I got your freakin’ dolly mixtures. Did I ever let you down, man, did I? Meet me by the fucking gates, bitch. Yeah, I’ll be here all day.”

His head was stuck in the iron railings.

It began to rain. I scored a quarter of Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls then went back inside to eat my lunch.
The rain fell harder, on and on through the afternoon, turning the sky black, thick sheets of rain hammering against my window, washing away the dust and the dirt.
Flakes of dried bird shit slid slowly down the glass, leaving smeary yellow trails in their wake, breaking away from the main dollop.
The ice caps are melting.

It’s late in the day. Diana, Head of Marketing (good skin, hair, teeth, lovely smile; reads this blog) sent me an email. It said “We don’t have much time.”

Saturday, June 04, 2005

I Dreamed I Saw A Silver Spaceship Flying In The Yellow Haze Of The Sun, There Were Children Crying And Colours Flying All Around The Chosen Ones 

All in a dream, all in a dream the loading had begun, flying Mother Nature's silver seed to a new home in the sun.

Dream 11
In my dream me, Girlfriend and my Mum are visiting a hilly town or village in the north of England, checking the place out with a view to possibly moving there. A local is showing us round. It seems like a nice place.
It’s getting dark and he takes us to see the cathedral, where evensong is about to begin. A choir is singing, which wows my Mum, as she loves cathedrals and choirs and all that sort of stuff.
We walk around the cathedral. Everybody there is dressed in grand, opulent costumes, and I’m conscious that there is a cinematic single shot quality to the way we swoop around the building. We seem to have transported ourselves into an English version of Russian Ark.

There is a mad old woman among the cast, played by Liz Smith. She is wearing a light, flimsy dress, very fey, and her face has a faraway expression. There is a kitten in each of her bra cups. They miaow frequently to everybody’s amusement, but she flatly refuses to admit that they are there.

There is also a big chubby man, a rosy cheeked fellow with cherry lips and a small ‘o’ shaped mouth. He appears to have stepped out from a saucy seaside postcard. He has a puppy concealed down the front of his trousers. You can see quite clearly when the puppy is wagging it’s tail.


Sincerest thanks to all the guest bloggers who took part in this little dream blog thing. I don’t know about you, but I think all the dreams are fascinating. Really brilliant, and very much in the spirit of what I’d hoped for.

Most of my dreams are gone in the blink of an eye. For instance, riding back from the airport I was dozing off in the taxi, and between two points not much more than a few hundred yards apart I knew that I’d nodded off, woken up again and had a dream in between. Couldn’t remember what it was.

I call them micro-dreams. I wish I had more of the really convoluted and involved dreams, with bizarre twists and turns and people coming and going all over the shop. I’m envious of those who can do that. I don’t seem to have the attention span.

Anyways. It’s been quite an ego boost having you here, a very flattering experience and I feel rather honoured and not just a teensy bit moist. You’ve made an old fart very happy.

Cheers, big love and that,

Friday, June 03, 2005

In my dream, I answer the phone. Mum is on the other end, crying.

My stepfather is in a heap at the foot of the stairs, dead. None of us were there when it happened.

In my dream, I try to twist her words, turn them round so that it's my stepfather who has found a grandmother, dead.

In my dream, I try to restore a natural order to the events, to bring my stepfather back.

In my dream, I can wiggle this bit, move that bit and make some sense of it. He laughs at us all for being silly.

I wake up. The phone is ringing, Mum is crying, and we have to take some clothes to the funeral director's for him.

[posted by Silver Lining]


In my dream I am standing in a glass booth.

Unable to escape because I am tethered to a room full of machines all bleeping and humming and recording, I look down and see that I am in nothing but pajama bottoms. I need not feel exposed though as I am covered in a myriad patches and probes.

My desire to flee from all this testing and prodding is only exacerbated by the fact that all round me, peering in through the glass booth are various friends and family. My beloved boyfriend.

Help me I mouth. At the top of my voice, but for some reason, no sound emanates from my parched lips.

And then, the bloodletting begins. The doctors/scientists/torturers beging to harvest pints and pints of blood from me, tubes coming from every available vein on my upper body. As my life flow starts to ebb and wane from my body I feel weak and every thing takes on a slow-mo effect as my knees begin to slowly buckle. And just as I slip into unconsciousness I see them all with looks of concern, whispering 'it's for your own good'.

I am reminded of the teen slasher movies where the promqueen always gets it. Thank heaven for the irony of my moniker...these days it seems that the only dreams I remember are ones that take on a twist of the macabre.

posted by ParanoidPromQueen

Wednesday, June 01, 2005


In my dream, there is a narrow, humpback bridge at the bottom of a hill. The track is white and dusty, it is almost five o’clock and the temperature is in the high eighties. We are ten minutes away from our hotel, it is the last day of the holiday. As I reach the bridge I can see it is quite badly potholed and I will need to take evasive action. As I do this, a blue fiat appears alongside me. Time stops. Time starts, but moves very, v e r y s l o w l y. Badly drawn boy is singing ‘soleil, all over me…warm sun…’. The blue fiat, the heat, the gravel surface of the track and the pain in my shoulder and hand are inextricably linked.

I wake up and there is some drool. Badly drawn boy is still singing.

Sorry about the one-handed typing. The cast will be on for a couple of weeks at least.

[posted by Beth]

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