Okay by now, if you have looked at part 1 or part 2, you should be beginning to work out that in real life I am actually a bit of an arse.
Not a bad person, you understand, just a bit prone to being a bit of an arse.
I was in Cambridge the other day, and of course I had to get a taxi to the station when it came time to going home, because of how stupidly uncooperative the City Planners are in that place.
Having paid, I got out and headed into the station. At the turnstiles I realised that I was missing something. My Annual train pass.
It contained my usual train ticket, as well as the specific ticket to Cambridge for that day. And the main place where it wasn’t was in my pocket.
I did some speedy detective work and realised it must have fallen out of my pocket when I pulled out my wallet to pay the taxi. I turned and looked but the car was long gone. I had to work fast.
I got straight onto the taxi company and told the lady what had happened and asked if the taxi could turn around. “I’ll ask him to have a look” came the reply. Now, I’m not being funny but if a cab driver gets a buzz over the radio saying some idiot has left their pass in his car, just how thoroughly do you think he will look? Do you, like me, suspect he won’t even get out of the driving seat?
So I waited.
When I called back it was to be told that she had contacted the driver, he had looked and the pass was not there. All I did next was ask if he could possibly come back so I could look myself. Seriously, at no point did I think this guy was trying to steal the pass or that he was lying, I just didn’t trust that he had looked properly for it. I knew it would be on his floor.
The lady went berserk. What was I accusing her driver of? If I felt he was a thief why didn’t I go to the police? No No No. That’s absolutely not what I was saying at all. I just knew he wouldn’t have searched his car thoroughly – that’s all.
We argued at length. I may, at some point, have told her what I thought of her attitude. She may, at some point, have offered to call the police herself.
Meanwhile, because I was on a mobile, I walked around in circles.
When I disconnected the call I must have been standing almost exactly where I had got out of the car because right there on the floor in front of me…
Quietly, I picked up my pass and made my way through to a train. I think I’ll use a different taxi firm next time…
Firstly, I just wanted to excitedly announce that I can now officially call myself a writer. Why? I hear you ask.
The reason I’ve decided to somewhat overconfidently class myself in this way is because I’ve been asked to write a weekly column for InThe Powder Room for actual pay, rather than occasional posts for free as I was doing. This is a massive moment for me. I should say that anyone who has investigated the In The Powder Room site, will already know – because they clearly say it – that the pay is only a token amount really, I won’t be giving work up just yet, but this is totally not the point.
Someone is willing to pay for my work.
And what is more – they came to me!
How class is that?
I, for one, am really excited to be joining them as one of their regular columnists.
The other thing I wanted to say is a request.
This asks for a small favour.
A while ago I entered yet another fiction writing competition, I do this a lot. Anyway, the gist of this one was that you had to write about Oxfordshire’s Diamond Light Synchrotron. You can find out what that is on their website if you like.
There were two competitions. One required a 3000 word story and one required a sub 500 word flash fiction. Both had to be somehow related to their facility.
I entered both competitions.
The long story competition is closed judging but the flash fiction competition is where you come in.
Please, if you have an email address that you don’t mind using on this kind of thing, can you register on the site and vote for me?
Luckily, I have taken the time to read the other flash fiction stories and can reveal that mine is by far the best – ahem – so you don’t need to read the others, just mine – cough cough!
To vote you do have to register, wait for a password to be emailed and then log in and vote. This is, of course, a pain. So I understand if you don’t, as I know exactly what it is like in your shoes – you can only apportion so much time to each blog you read and this is slightly going to go over my allocation.
So if you can, please vote for me by clicking here and following the instructions.
“The thing is… this trip. How long have we been planning it? Three years? We have dreamt of this for ten years at least, and been saving for a lifetime?”
“Sounds about right Dave – what’s wrong?”
“We really needed this trip didn’t we? I think things had got a bit distant between us and having this dream has focussed us. We have planned this so very carefully. Everything is perfect. Tomorrow will be our fifteenth anniversary and here we are, driving along Route 66 in this beautiful ’67 Mustang!
It cost a fortune to hire a car this special but it’s just wonderful. The buzz I’m getting driving it, with you sitting there looking so beautiful, is unbelievable and on Route 66! It just feels so unreal. The road signs, the Diners, it’s exactly how we thought it would be isn’t it? The radio station playing only Rock 'n' Roll from the 50’s and 60's just adds to the vibe. Even the flights over here were perfect, when the lady at Heathrow upgraded us, you nearly cried”
“Dave you sentimental bugger, where are you going with all this?”
“It took three months just to source this car alone, planning the route and booking all the hotels and stop overs took another four months. Finding the hotel for tomorrow, with the Jacuzzi and special ‘Honeymooner’s' Champagne package that just happens to be in Tulsa - which we are now 24 hours from, by the way - and then planning everything around that took a masterpiece of project management, way out of our normal depth.”
“Tell me about it, remember that time you planned the holiday in Brighton? We arrived there right in the middle of the Rainbow weekend!”
“Haha, yes! That was one of mine alright - hands up. Mind you, those boys could party!
That’s the thing though isn’t it? We’ve put so much into this; so much thought that everything should have been perfect. So what I really want to understand is, why did we think it would be okay to bring the kids?”
“Not now Johnny, I’m talking to your Father”
“But Mum, Shelley punched me”
“Johnny kicked me first Mum”
“I feel sick”
“Oh not again Johnny, just keep looking forward, I’ll open a … No Johnny. NO! GET A BAG! Oh Christ...”
On Sunday, we ran 2 miles through Oxford dressed as Santa Claus in aid of Helen & Douglas House. 2 miles may not sound so very far to you but I for one found it challenging. My wife, who is used to doing 5K runs, ran it easily enough but it is my boys I want to talk about.
Helen & Douglas House is a Hospice for children and young folk and a pretty damned amazing place. I am just in awe of the people who work in these places; they are true heroes as far as I’m concerned. This is why we immediately signed up for the Santa run when we saw it advertised. Raising cash for a cause that good, while running about surrounded by over 1200 Santas, was an opportunity too good to miss! I didn’t try and sponge off you lot because I’d only just taken the Movember link down and I was embarrassed enough about hassling my own family.
Santa in need of Weight Watchers
So we took the time to talk to the boys about what a hospice is and why we need them, before finding ourselves standing in the middle of Oxford dressed as Father Christmas on a cold December morning, looking a throng of identically dressed clones. I guess, as I walked up to the starting point, I felt a little like a Stormtrooper must feel on that first day on the Death Star. On arrival you are all proud of yourself and keep checking out your uniform in windows, only to walk down the ramp of the shuttle craft into a hangar and realise that absolutely everyone looks the same (except for one particularly bad apple).
What I actually looked like was the ‘before’ photo for the Lapland Gazette’s Slimmer of the Year competition. Especially as the super large 'one size fits all' outfit trousers were so tight that they split in the crotch before I made it to the car. Mental note: when I make my New Year’s declaration that I’m going to get fit and slim, I really must try and mean it this time.
We warmed up to Santa Zumba which was basically just the four of us dancing our own thing, because we couldn’t see the stage and the Zumba Leader – or whatever you call them – so we couldn’t quite keep up with the actual dance.
And then we were go!
May The Force be with you
Jo and Daniel went ahead, because they can run and we knew they would be the fastest. Jamie (my seven year old) and I followed on behind. We knew Jamie would struggle, not because he is unfit but because his legs are so little. What I hadn’t given him credit for, was just how determined he was! He ran and ran and ran, bless him. He nearly stopped a couple of times and was certainly finding it hard, he struggled with stitch as his little legs pumped along but he did it. He ran the whole 2 miles, as did his brother.
I love being part of this family; they never cease to impress me. I would never have even run 1 mile when I was 7 or even Daniel’s 10, yet they go and run 2.
Daniel was beginning to struggle towards the end, mainly due the ankle injury he had picked up the week before at rugby, and was beginning to moan about it but Jo told him to think about the kids who needed the Hospice. She said how much they would love to be able to run this race and what how much they are suffering instead. To his credit, and to my utter pride, Jo tells me that he really did understand and the moaning stopped. His head went down and he finished the race with a complete determination.
2 Miles later - just about alive
For me, I just call that ‘job done’.
I think my kids are going to be pretty cool.
I think my wife is pretty cool too, for coming up with these crazy ideas in the first place. She brings these things into our lives; all I do is go along with them.
My company’s Easter / Christmas party 2011 is done and, so far, I have not been sacked. I call that a result.
I’m afraid I did get somewhat wobbly towards the end. I know I found it a struggle to drink my last pint and though I can clearly remember drinking it and then going to bed, I struggle to remember any clear detail, I certainly can’t remember what I was talking about. Actually I can. I wasn’t saying anything because speech had left me. When I opened my mouth I was just saying “habbblefloodlywobblesmudge” or something very like that. Mind you it was four in the morning by that point and we had started drinking almost 12 hours earlier, so I think a little uncoordinated mouth action is to be expected really.
I remember a tale an old mate told me about a drinking session he had been on with his brother. It got to the point where Stan (my mate) could no longer speak properly and his brother could talk but had lost the use of his legs. So they resolved the issue of not being able to fetch more beers by Stan carrying his brother to the bar so that he could do the ordering for them.Well I felt pretty much like that but without the aid of a mouthpiece, so I forced back the last dregs of whatever lager it was and bounced off to my hotel bed.
It really was a very good night.
After last year’s event being held in a Soho Transsexual bar, it came as no surprise to find that our party was held somewhere like TheCircus in Covent Garden. I’d worked out from the website that it might be a little racy but I was wrong. It was very racy.
My photos, taken on my trusty Nokia with its 3 pixel camera (no I didn’t say MegaPixel) and no flash, don’t really work too well, but just about shows you the direction it went in. It was a little more burlesque than I’d imagined. For me the highlight was definitely the fire-eaterespecially when she whipped her bra off to reveal a shiny set of Nipple Tassels (Pasties?) that she promptly set light to and spun around in various directions – now that is talent.
The beers and vodkas and cocktails flowed. Nibbles came and went. I laughed at other people and I laughed at me, because I know for a fact that I am comedy gold when I’m a touch inebriated. Well I do at the time anyway; it wears off after a day or two and I suddenly wake up thinking – “I said what?!”
One thing that did catch me out were the toilets, as they were a bit ‘Ally McBeal’. They had a communal bit where you wash your hands in this bizarre fountain thing, at least I think you were supposed to wash your hands in the fountain – it’s possible that I completely walked past the sinks. Anyway , this section was joint and there were a couple of doors through to the actual toilets. Now I eventually figured it all out but the first time I used them I wasn’t totally up to speed, so I wasn’t 100% sure that the actual toilets weren’t mixed as well. Which is why when I came out I coughed and informed the ladies standing around the fountain that they should “give that a couple of minutes”.Oddly they chose instead just to walk out. I’ll never understand women.
Still, I lived.I hope you do as well. If you have a party to go to this year, just drink your way through it is my advice.
Well it might seem a little early – mainly because it is – but the Christmas Season is here. Certainly it is for me because it is my work’s Christmas party tonight!
Personally, I’ve been calling it our Easter party, because it feels closer to last Easter than it does to Christmas but never mind.
My work does have a tradition of coming up with some novel settings for our party. A couple of years ago we held it in The London Dungeon. Last year – well – you should click here and read about last year’s party. All I’m saying is Ronnie Wood cleaning out fire damaged toilets and a group of transsexual mime artists. Seriously, go read it.
So what will it be this year?
What completely inappropriate remark will I be heard saying to completely the wrong person? Will I make it back to the hotel without being carried? Precedence has certainly been set for both of those before. To be honest, I’m sorely tempted to try doing the old ‘photocopying your arse’ classic this year, the only problem is I’d need to do that in the office BEFORE we go out and this does tend to get some funny looks.
I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes – all I know is the venue is called The Circus and apparently involves scantily clad acrobats. What could possibly go wrong?