Friday, March 30, 2007

Pissing In The Wind 

There are three urinals in the Gents on our floor at Company X.
They are equally spaced, and much too close to each other. You would never consider using a urinal if the one next to it was in use because, quite frankly, it would seem indecent.
It’s one thing for two men to be standing in the same room with their knobs hanging out, but its quite another matter if they are rubbing shoulders at the same time.

There is therefore an unspoken etiquette: if you find yourself alone in the toilets, you use either the one to the left or the right.

You absolutely do not choose the middle urinal, because if somebody else comes along they’ll have to wait until you’re finished. You are now under pressure to immediately produce a loud and lavish stream of waste - “Listen to that! Niagara Falls! There’s nothing dubious about my manliness!” - while the other bloke holds his fire at a respectable distance behind you, no doubt staring at the two perfectly functional but unusable urinals to your left and right.
You have created what psychologists refer to as ‘an awkward moment’.

If you are the other bloke, instead of waiting you could always have a piss in one of the toilet cubicles, but then you’ll look like a prude. You will become the boy at school who always wore swimming trunks in the showers. You don’t want to seem ashamed of your nakedness in the company of others, but neither do you want to appear excessively enthusiastic.

This morning, Creepy Keith from Accounts was stood for an eternity at the wrong urinal, bluetoothing Jeanette from the Introductions Agency about his latest disappointing date.
“I’m telling you Jeanette,” he yelled, the human equivalent of a dose of thrush, “in her photo she looked like Christina Aguilera. In the flesh she was more Chris Evans.”

I waited patiently for too long but then Mike came in for his 10:30, so I pretended that I’d only gone in to rinse out my mug then went to use the one upstairs instead.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Gran Turismo 

Like Sir Walter Raleigh returning from the New World with his cargo of cigarettes and duty free potatoes, Charlotte, Bill Surname CEO’s loyal PA, steered the Company X minibus safely back into port.

No sooner had she docked - mirror, signal, man overboard - she was surrounded by a cheering throng of salesmen all keen to get their hands on her bounty.
Bill Surname arrived and gave a short but solemn speech about the value of service and loyalty, then opened the minibus doors and handed out PS3s to the chosen few.

Poor Charlotte - it’s a difficult time for her, what with the markets in freefall and news from the front getting worse by the hour, and now this: forced to scour the land in search of Playstations, queuing outside HMV with the great unwashed, living on crisps and Lucozade, unable to return home until her mission was complete.
But what else could she do? Bill Surname - the only man she’s ever loved, if only he knew it - said his salesman must receive their Spring bonuses, and if it’s games consoles they want, then it’s games consoles they shall have.
While he was tucked up in his fireside armchair with his sausages and port and the FT singeing on his lap, she was sleeping on pavements and picking up Gran Turismo tips from a distressingly pierced youth of no discernable gender called Zog.

“Stupid cow,” said Mike as we looked down on the scene from our office window. Charlotte looked bleary eyed, tired to the point of sobbing, ready to sleep for a week.
“I could have got her them weeks ago.” He’s got a mate who drinks with a bloke who knows someone who can get you anything you want. “It’s not who you know, it’s what you’re prepared to give them.”

I said “Can he get me a new yoghurt? I seem to have spilled mine,” then went back to my book about tractors and thinking about cheese. Mmmm. I love cheese.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Sexy Boy 

I can now strike Air off the list of bands I’d love to see but haven’t yet.

Me and Girlfriend saw them in Manchester on Thursday. It was at the Academy where, if you choose, you can stand close enough to the artists to not only see the confident twinkle / fear in their eyes (a good thing) but also smell their breath (not so good).

I like Air a lot, the way they occupy the overlap between delicate abstract artiness and thumping disco-pop, and although they weren’t the most energetic of performers - not much banter between audience and band, hardly a crowd surfer in sight - it was still a really good show. They more than did themselves justice.

A very unusual thing happened during the encore: I think somebody tried to cop off with me.

A girl struck up a conversation in the gap before the encore, and was very excited and animated about how much she was enjoying the show so far, and how much she loved Air, and so on. And I chatted back because, you know, I like to think I’m a friendly sort of fellow.

When the group came back on, she seemed to be standing very close and I could feel her bare arm brushing against mine. But hey, it was a crowded gig and it goes with the territory.
I subtly shuffled away a few inches, but soon the brushing started again. Shuffle away, brush; shuffle away, brush. It wasn’t just once.
She spoke some more, now and then, moving in close to be heard above the noise. One time, for half a second, she rested her hand on my arm. I should mention here that she was young and rather attractive, and didn’t appear in the slightest way mental. She was with a lad who she pointed out was ‘her friend’.

Okay, so some people are more tactile than others and a little arm brushing don’t necessarily mean nothing, but she then started leaning in against me while recording videos on her phone - a keyboard was blocking her view - and I thought that’s quite enough, young lady.

I stepped forward to where Girlfriend was standing, rested my hand on her shoulder and said something into her ear. Brushing Girl must have missed this, because the pressing and the video recording continued unabated.
She was probably thinking, “For fuck’s sake, is this guy retarded or something? How many hints do I have to drop?”

After the next song, I spoke to Girlfriend again, and this time Brushing Girl twigged. She put her hand over her mouth in an embarrassed horror kind of way - which incidentally, I happen to find very becoming; Charlie does it too - and exclaimed “Oh, I’m so sorry!”

When the concert finished she shook my hand and thanked me for chatting with her and apologised if she’d been a nuisance, and that was it. All very polite and proper. She seemed nice.
Leaving the venue, Girlfriend asked “Have you just pulled?” and I replied that I wasn’t 100% sure, but thought I might have.
She continued grinning the whole way home, even when I couldn’t see her because it was dark and I was driving. You can just tell, can’t you? The episode had clearly amused.

If you’re attractive and young, and especially if you’re female, I suppose little semi-encounters like this happen every couple of days. Once a week at least. I’m none of the above, and they occur to me precisely hardly ever in a lifetime.
What with those damned waitresses flirting with me all last week, and now this - I don’t know what to think.
Obviously, I’m not going to let it go to my head, or cloud my judgement in any way; yet at the same, I know I’m bound to be disappointed if, next time I’m out somewhere, attractive young women who aren’t mental don’t constantly sidle up and rub themselves against me. But it’s not a big deal.

Right. I’m off to look at sports cars now.

Friday, March 16, 2007

We Are The World 

Don't go to the pub tonight. There are people dying NOW! So please, stay in and give Mike the fucking money!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Best In Show 

I was on a course last week.
It was something to do with computers, I think. Concentrating was difficult because the trainer talked exactly like the stumpy one out of Mitchell and Webb, but I’m sure it was IT related, otherwise why had I been sent there?
He spent the first two days explaining where the fire exits were, how to use the coffee machines, what the lunch arrangements were, asking about our journeys in and how those of us staying in hotels liked our rooms, regaling us with amusing anecdotes from his career, and so on. I became convinced that he was stalling, that he’d lost his nerve, but the training began in earnest on Wednesday morning, which only goes to show what I know.

I dined in a different restaurant each night, for obvious reasons, but still managed to attract the unwanted attentions of several predatory waitresses, all mistakenly believing that because I was alone, but for a paperback about tractors, I’d be susceptible to their feminine charms. I could deflect for England.
In one place, where our friend Charlie worked as a student, I drank a margarita the size of a football on her recommendation, and thought of her fondly as I did so. She has told us all about waitresses and their wily ways, so I’m nobody’s fool.

Back in my pitiful hotel room I laid out fresh pants and socks every night, and the telly was only capable of receiving Crufts.

On Friday afternoon, when it was all over, I went to Oxford to visit Joella and her other half M, who was alone in the house and extremely hung over when I arrived.
“Hello, you must be M,” I said, proffering a bottle of something red and quite pricey by my standards. “I’m Tim. I’m from the internet.”
He made some tea and looked like he might throw up over me at any moment.

Later on the three of us went to a hardcore folk club - which I quite enjoyed in an “Isn’t it interesting what some people are into?” kind of way - but Joella and M didn’t, so we nipped out again after half an hour.
M went home to nurse his hangover, leaving me and Joella to continue our “Morse Country” pub crawl, which ended in Tesco at midnight to buy sausages, then we sat up until three drinking vodka and listening to Billy and Kirsty. She went to great lengths to tell me which particular denomination of feminism she subscribes to - Radical Feminism? Political? Deep House Happy Hardcore Feminism? - but now I can’t remember which. She said she used to be quite good at explaining it.

I awoke with a raging “I think I’ll skip breakfast, thanks” headache, then they took me on a whistle stop tour of Oxford’s funky Eastside - kebab shops, sex shops, junkies in churchyards, university rowing clubs beside the Isis (that’s the Thames to you and me), and more litter than I’ve ever seen anywhere in my life. It was great to see them both. They clearly love where they live, and, you know, it’s good to see that, and I’d have liked to stick around longer, but I was keen to get home.

I’d been away for six nights and, judging from the phone calls, emails and texts I’d exchanged with Girlfriend, she seemed to be positively thriving without me. I had to return to Lancashire post-haste to put a stop to it, so went on the M6 toll road and didn’t spare the horses.


I admire a man with gumption and Mike Troubled Diva seems to have it in spades. He’s putting together a blog-book which you can buy in paperback form for money in aid of Red Nose Relief. Check it out here.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

A Walk Across The Rooftops 

Radio One has announced it will be staging a Big Weekend in Preston in May.

I suspect I’m on the wrong side of the perimeter fence that is Radio One’s target demographic, but the news has caused a frisson of excitement amongst Company X’s more youthful inmates.

Stella, my eighties style yuppie witch of a team leader, a woman for whom profile is everything, is pleased too. She’s always had a vague notion that somebody should, in some unspecified manner, be making more of an effort to put Preston on the map.
“We’ve got a perennially under achieving football team,” she said, “and that’s it. Most people will have no reason to have even heard of Preston.”

"You're right. Someone should be doing something," I agreed, before returning to gazing out of the window and drizzling yoghurt down my jumper.

It’s been a week of early starts and “Is this going to work?” breakfast meetings.
Girlfriend, never happier than when up to her elbows in polythene sleeves and post-it notes, is facing her greatest challenge to date. I’m predicting a run on fluorescent marker pens. Buy now before it’s too late.

It feels like yonks since last Sunday, when we met up with Joella - blogging’s number one plumbing chick, unless anyone would like to contest that title - for beer and meringue. That girl knows our pipes better than we do.

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