Monthly Archives: November 2015

Ah, the horn…

So, I’m in an underground bierkeller watching an oom-pah band wearing lederhosen playing Michael Jackson covers….

Brass…and the woman next to me says ‘I bet the trombonist gets way more sex than the others.’ (She actually said something far ruder, but fill in the blanks).

‘Why do you say that?’

‘Watch and learn my friend.’

Sure enough, at least once per song he’d wander out amongst the punters to flagellate his proboscis in someone’s face (always female). Once I realised what he was doing and how blatant it was it slightly cheapened the experience if I’m going to be honest.

…There then followed a segue onto discussing other band members via an argument over whether one of the songs was the theme tune from Fame or Danger mouse…

…It was agreed that we should get on to the guys at Freakonomics and ask them to investigate why there’s always a direct correlation between playing the tuba and being fat. Nothing against fat people (or tuba players), but I defy you to find a thin one. It’s as if they hear the dulcet boh-boh-boh-bom and immediately hang back for that extra piece of cake.

Convinced we were onto something we initiated ‘drunkwise’ – a practice whereby the structure of one’s sentences sounds clever, but under closer inspection is revealed to be utter drivel:

‘Maybe if we banned tuba playing we could solve the obesity crisis?’

‘Perhaps not a silver bullet, but certainly one ingredient in a smorgasbord of measures.’

‘Good god, you wouldn’t want to let a tuba player near a smorgasbord.’

‘Quite right – I chose poorly metaphorically speaking – a raft of measures.’

‘It’d probably sink…’

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Benevolence & Balzac

God westerners suck! Greedy, whining little brats banging on about their first-world problems. If our forefathers could see us skulking around posting trolly reviews about how our i-phones won’t pick up Wi-Fi or how the local coffee emporium used full-fat by mistake they’ve give us the hiding we so richly deserve.

Never has this been brought home to me so clearly than by the conversation I had with a work colleague yesterday.

That he’s Indian is relevant.

We were talking about the process of testing software. We meandered.  I asked what he did in his spare time.

‘My father left me some land. I get back whenever I can to check on the crops and oversee the harvest.’

‘How much land?’

’40 acres.’


’40 acres! If you owned 40 acres in England you’d be king.’ (I’m pretty sure that’s how it works).

‘In India it is not so big – We produce maybe 60,000 bags of rice per year – 50KG apiece – enough to support the 40 families who work for me.’

‘But you make a healthy profit?’

‘No, no profit, a small loss actually, but it is good to give back. When I am older I will travel home and become a farmer full-time. It is a divine trade. A doctor you need maybe once a year, but a farmer you need every day.’

I have two thoughts: 1. What a profound thing he is doing for his fellow man. 2. I want to beat him up. I am a whiny westerner and he’s making me feel bad. I must go and blog about my hurty tummy and have total strangers reassure me. (‘Cheer up! You are only part-turd’ MARTIN LIKES THIS).

‘You own land?’ he asks.

‘Yes,’ I reply, ‘not 40 acres, but a nice house, on a hill.’

‘And you live in this house with your wife and kids?’

‘No, I’m divorced – Not a pleasant experience – Gonna take a decade or so off.’

To do his response justice you need to imagine it spoken in a Punjabi accent: ‘That would be a mistake. You need to get a move on before the sperm shrivel up in your scrotum…’

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Adventures in Pedantry

I ordered something called a Hero Burger. The nice lady asked if I would you like to supersize?
‘Isn’t it already heroic?’ I inquired.
‘It is, but you get more of everything on the next one up.’
‘What’s that one called?’
‘We don’t have a name for that one yet sir.’
‘Shouldn’t that one be called the Hero Burger?’
The nice lady gave me the special look she reserves for vermin. ‘I guess so!’
With shades of my father I added ‘Might I suggest The Super-Fluous?’
Where on earth did that mustard fart of indignation come from? On ninety-nine days out of a hundred I would have let something so inconsequential go by the by, but today my Hero (now demoted to Side-kick) Burger was presumably going to arrive laced with various bodily fluids and interfered with beyond words. Such is the price of perfection.
Back at Castle Cororan (still surprising peckish) I found a package waiting for me. I opened it. It contained three bottles of peroxide. I am a bald man. As such I was perplexed. The invoice revealed that I share my address (different postcode) with a hairdresser across town. Ah, irony abounds. When I contacted them to arrange a pick up their manager was so impressed with my honesty that he left a gift on the doorstep – two bottles of luxury exfoliant. How delightful. I used one and the skin proceeded to melt from my face. Picture the bald man running around in just his pants, howling like a child who has touched a nettle. By Jove I demanded satisfaction.
But what’s the protocol for complaining about free stuff? There isn’t one is there? I’ve found a gaping hole in British (and possibly world) etiquette. I must write to someone. This is marvellous / unacceptable (delete as appropriate).
Scarred for life, but ebullient with my newfound revelation I set off for a corporate shindig. There an old colleague reminded me of an incident that completes the triumvirate of pedantry.
We both worked with a young man for whom English was not his first language (For the sake of anonymity we’ll call him Tim). Tim would’ve spoken perfectly good English had he paid attention in the lessons that had been paid for by the company (i.e. he’s fair game).
As well a possessing poor grammar Tim was also a prolific skiver – both in the amount of days took as sick-leave and in the amount of time he spent asleep in the toilets. Every two weeks or so his line manager and I would get an email explaining why he was absent. Because his English was terrible he would make attempts to describe the symptoms rather than succinctly state the ailment – the most memorable of which was: ‘I not be work now – big stomach – much pooh – also puke.’
A few days after his various misdemeanours had been tackled in a performance review he took me aside and asked for my help. ‘You tell me how to say this?’ he asked, and then proceeded to graphically described diarrhoea. Even in the midst of a bollocking you could see the cogs turning; setting up the next bout of absence. I told him he was giving too much information and provided a shorter syntax for the condition. He thanked me.
Sure enough – a few weeks later the glorious email arrived: ‘I cannot come to work today as I have Ass Mayhem.’


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Last House On The Left…

My brother-in-law was in the garage tinkering when he heard the sounds of kids’ scooters skidding to a halt by the front door. His wife / my sister had informed him that her two sons were out playing in the village. Hearing them return he relayed the information he’d been given about their Halloween treats.
‘Hello boys, there are some ghost cakes for you in the back room. Don’t forget to take your shoes off and lock the door behind you.’
When no one replied he looked up to see two entirely different boys, presumably trick-or-treaters, peddling away from the property for all they were worth, screaming at the top of their lungs. I later pointed out to him that:
  1. For the next twenty years a rumour will morph and proliferate around the village as to their alleged sexual deviancy
  2. He and my sister genuinely live in ‘the last house on the left’ (an old Wes Craven horror flick)
  3. Arguably this is the best thing that could’ve happened to the kids. Isn’t Halloween supposed to be scary? (I am an AMAZING uncle)…
This last point subsequently became the night’s overarching theme.
Five eleven year old boys stayed the night, each in full fancy dress. Three were disguised as skeletons, one as santa (because he already had the costume), but the third came dressed as a girl – blue wig, pink boob-tube and a mini-skirt – his rationale: he thought is would be frightening, and he was right. Turns out there’s nothing boys fear more than other boys in drag.
Ten minutes into a carefully chosen and heavily vetted horror film boy X confidentially announced to a crowded (and jet black) room  that boy Y had ‘shit his pants’. The allegation was denied and a heated discussion ensued. As others calmed the waters I found myself overcome with nostalgia. How I yearned for those distant childhood days when the most pressing matter was ensuring others knew I had definitely not soiled myself.
Boy Z was dispatched to the kitchen to retrieve conciliatory cakes. When asked upon his return why they were glistening he replied ‘Because I licked them all.’
Not funny, but arguably the most disturbing event happened the next morning when the sleep-deprived, post-sugar-rush kids were being jettisoned from the house. I learned that everyone was going to another Halloween party.
‘Bit late now isn’t it, and in daylight?’
‘It was supposed to be a christening, but at the last minute the biological mother decided to keep the child. They’d already booked a venue so thought they’d go ahead with a different theme.’
‘How does she feel?’
‘She’s a foster mum. It happens…’
‘How do you feel about going?’
‘Yeah, it’s a little creepy…’

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