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Archive for the ‘Misc humour’ Category

One green, 4ft high, plastic wheelie bin used for garden rubbish.

Answers to the name of ‘Bin’.

Bin was last seen yesterday lunchtime when left outside to be emptied by the local council garden refuse collection wagon. Usually Bin is quite happy sitting in the sunshine until being wheeled back into the garden.

Yesterday, however, after two hours Bin was gone, nowhere to be seen.

Neighbouring drives and gardens have been searched in a frantic effort to recover Bin, but to no avail. We therefore fear the worst. Wor ‘Bin’s’ bin nicked!

Ports, railway stations and bus depots have been alerted and people have been urged to be extra vigilant in the forlorn hope Bin is spotted. Reports that Bin is being held to ransom or merely gone away on holiday cannot be substantiated or ruled out.

Beggars belief that someone would actually steal it but they have, I kid you not. There doesn’t appear to be any other explanation.

PS – A phone call made to the council earlier today brought a promise of a new Bin which should be delivered and fully operational within the next 7 to 10 days. So feet up, no more gardening for a while!

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April 1st, April Fools’ Day or All Fools’ Day is the day for jokes and playing tricks on friends and family.

I bet there are few reading this who when young didn’t say to a friend ‘Hey, your shoelace is undone’, or pointed to their father’s trousers saying in a serious voice, ‘Dad, your flies are undone’.

But where does this strange custom originate? The origins are said to lie within Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, although the reasoning does seem a bit vague and obscure, and to be honest I don’t get it. Similarly another often cited source says we owe it to the French and the adoption of the Gregorian calendar when  New Year celebrations moved from the last week of March to 1 January. Thereby those still celebrating on 1 April were derided as ‘poisson d’Avril’.  It does sound feasible but the new calendar was introduced over the space of nearly a century, so perhaps not! However, the French do still pin paper fish on people’s backs and shout ‘poisson d’Avril’.

Whatever the origins April Fools’ Day has been with us for a long time and celebrated in many countries. In Scotland it’s known as ‘Hunt the gowk day’, gowk being a cuckoo or daftie, and here in England you have to get your April fool before midday or you become the fool yourself.

Television and the media have been responsible for some good April Fools gags over the years too, including:-

In 1957 the BBC reported on the bumper annual spaghetti harvest in Switzerland showing pictures of workers picking it from the trees.

BBC Radio reported in 1976 that the planet Pluto would be passing behind Jupiter and the resultant gravitational alignment would temporarily reduce Earth’s gravity, and for a while people might experience a floating sensation.

1998 saw Burger King’s newspaper advert announcing the new ‘Left-Handed Whopper Burger’ (same as the original but rotated through 180 degrees) for all left handed Americans.

In 1972 the body of the Loch Ness Monster was fond, and in 2008 a rare colony of flying penguins was discovered.

I am sure you have heard of many others, so whatever you do on April Fool’s Day, enjoy your jolly japes and jokes but be careful about what you see on the television or read in the newspapers!

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He stared at me, pupils dilated to the size of ink spots either side of a hideous, bloated bulbous nose. Daring me to hold his gaze. His lips parted in a wide grin revealed a mouth of undulating broken teeth. Wild, unruly and unkempt long hair flared out behind him. He was a throwback to the Neanderthals, right down to the rock clenched in one hand, the stick held menacingly high in the other.

It wasn’t the first time we had met and he had barred my path. But today was different. Before I had ignored him. Now I couldn’t. He just kept staring, and I just kept staring right back. No words passed between us, nothing was said. That was the problem, the cause of the trouble. No words.

He wasn’t going to speak. It was not his way. He just stared, standing there barefoot, eyes unblinking.

Usually we looked at each other for a while, then I would smile and move on. Not today. Today I wasn’t smiling, and he never did. Deadlock. I tried a few words. Nothing. I glanced away trying to think, a way of phrasing what I had in mind to say, but the right words wouldn’t come. That was the problem, my mind was empty. I looked up again and of course he was still there, the rock held firm, the stick pointing in my direction.

I bunched my hands into fists, nails digging into the palms and tried again. A few words sprung to the fore, no gushing torrent as there should have been. A slow sentence dribbled out. Not that it made any difference. I knew it wouldn’t. He was still staring. He knew I was drawn to his ugly physog. He was right. I was staring. This time I knew he was winning.

I knew it couldn’t continue. It made no difference to him, he had all the time in the world and would still be there tomorrow. But I needed to be somewhere else. There were plenty of places I should be in, I wanted to be in, not here staring at him. Relax, I tried to tell myself, just ignore him and look away, take a step back. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, rubbed the tension out of fingers and hands and slowly exhaled. I opened my eyes and instinctively knew the spell had been broken, that for now he was gone, out of sight and out of my way. And of course that’s when the right words sprung to mind.

Fuck it, don’t you just hate it when you can’t think what to write!

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“Deck the halls with boughs of holly, tis the season to be jolly.” OH, NO IT ISN’T, not if you’re a man and you still have your Christmas shopping to do.

Let’s face it, MEN and Christmas shopping just don’t go together. Ask any woman. We lack the stamina for it and that special ability that you females have to browse and stalk the shop floor looking for that elusive present. We’re hunters not gatherers and need a specific target to home in on. Shopping malls and shops are in general an anathema to us. But once a year we do have to come down from our tree or out from behind that rock.

The other day ‘we’ visited one of these emporiums of plenty where the shop floor stretches to the horizon and is festooned with all manner of bounty and provender. I had managed to negotiate the first challenge, that of actually getting into the car park and locating an empty space. Sometimes it would be easier finding a dodo on an ostrich farm. You can almost hear the voice, “Welcome motorist, you have entered the Chrystal Maze, but take care to remember where you left your vehicle, for you may struggle to find it when you leave.”

The doors shooshed open and I tried to look back for a re-assuring landmark. Too late, they closed and I was inside that Aladin’s cave, a novice within the temple of merchandise and about to worship at the altar of commercialism. Yes, it’s all very pleasant, light and airy, warm and inviting; and if you like Christmas musak, large hanging baubles, lights and giant wrapped presents. Enchanting in a shoppy kind of way.

The trouble is I find these places so alike and soul-less. Chain store multi-retailing at its best, or should that be its worst. So much so you could be forgiven for wondering exactly which High Street or Shopping Mall you are actually in. And then I find myself daunted and baffled by the array of goods on offer. The book shop’s boring and I don’t want to buy the books they are desperately trying to sell, the electrical gagdet store is predictable, the CD and DVD shop completely uninspiring, the clothes shops and shoe shops, well I don’t need any. “You’re supposed to be looking at things to buy for others, not yourself”, is the exasperated response.

But there was one shop that kept my attention for ages; the toy and model shop. Train sets, cars, planes and soldiers. Now you are talking. Only it wasn’t as it used to be, not as I remembered. There was no atmosphere; it was completely devoid of any wonderment or wow factor. In fact it was more like a toy supermarket, shelves piled high with boxed merchandise, than a toy shop with individual toys you could actually touch and play with.

That aside I did manage to suggest a few ideas for presents for family, friends and relatives. I happily carried the bags and waited dutifully outside a few shops, sometimes there’s a strategically placed bench. I had just plopped onto the end of one with the bags, there was a chap doing likewise at the other end when a middle aged woman approached to sit down too. I smiled and gathered my bags up. “That’s ok,” she says, “plenty of room unless you suggesting I’ve got a big bum!”

And you will be pleased to know I did find my way out of the Chrystal Maze. Unfortunately, though, I do have to go shopping again tomorrow. You see, I, didn’t actually manage to buy any Christmas presents!

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The latest challenge at my local Writing Group this week was to write a short piece inspired by the lyrics to Pink Floyd’s ‘Another brick in the wall’. I’m afraid my inspiration came from a visit to the Baltic, the Art Gallery on the quayside at Gateshead, and an exhibit by Mark Wallinger. Here it is:

Bricks

“Morning Gilbert, another fine and sunny day beckons. I can feel the warmth seeping through me already.”

“Morning Elisha. It’s yet to reach me, I’m a few layers down from you and it’s still shady here.”

“Sorry, old chap. Still could be worse. You could be an engineering brick further down or even worse one of those white-washed basement Johnnies. Dank and dreary if ever was. At least we get to see a bit of life. Procession for the Royal Jubilee was rather well done don’t you think.”

“I was draped with a flag, old thing, but I remember the one before. The soldiers, the bands, the cheering crowds and the good queen herself.”

“Oooh, hark at you two. What about the Olympics celebration cavalcade. That really squeezed my mortar.”

“Ah, morning, Thaddeus.”

“Morning Gilbert, Elisha. Have you heard the good news? Maurice had his graffiti cleaned. Took them long enough, Banksy it most certainly wasn’t.”

“No, things are not like they used to be. Gone are the days of ‘Votes for women’ and ‘Kilroy was ‘ere’.”

“Chads, I liked the Chads. The big doleful eyes and that bulbous nose followed by ‘Wot, no sausages’. Sorry, where are my manners.  Morning Thaddeus, Gilbert, Elisha and Maurice if he’s listening.”

“Morning Winston.”

“’Ban the bomb’, ‘CND’, ‘Yanks Go Home’. That one got a bit sticky.”

“Yes, a few heads cracked that day. I don’t like it when they start throwing bricks. Could be someone you know. An awful way to go. Broken up and smashed, skittering along the road to end up in the gutter. Reduced to dust and swept away. Not everyone gets re-constituted you know.”

“Winston, are you getting re-pointed?”

“Next week, Maurice. It’ll be good to get some fresh joints. Hey, Elisha! Did you know you’re going to be shrouded in plastic for a while? That’ll spoil your view; stop some of your nocturnal habits, the velux windows opposite!”

“I bed your pardon. I’ll have you know there’s nothing untoward about my evening activities whatsoever, thank you very much.”

“Oh, pull the other one. We all know what you get up to from your lofty vantage point.”

“You should have more respect. Height has its disadvantages too you know. The 1940s, the Blitz. I still shudder when I hark back to those dark days. Fire and flames shooting into the night skies, the baking heat, then drenched in water, buckling timbers, collapsing roofs. Walls disappearing before your eyes. Dreadful times, simply dreadful.  Isn’t that so, Gilbert.”

“23rd December 1941. I remember it as if yesterday. One minute a terrace, next an exposed gable end. But we pulled through, survived. Didn’t lose a single brick. We all clung together, held firm. Every last one of us.  Dust and smoke swirling everywhere. Do you remember?  We had a full roll call that night, basement east corner to apex top, each brick shouting out in turn, name, number, level. Never been a night like it. Individually we may be just a block of clay, a brick in a wall but together, collectively, en masse and in unison, we’re a structure, an edifice, a monument….”

“Oh well said, Gilbert, well said. We’ll make an old brick of you yet.”

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Some days you can go from ‘what the….’ to ‘did you see that’ in the merest blink of an eye.

We were out for the morning in the autumn sunshine driving along one of those twisty up and down roads in the Yorkshire Dales bounded on both sides by a narrow grass verge and the characteristic dry stone walls. The sun was in my eyes as we approached the brow of a hill. And there, just below the summit a Peugeot 206 was pulled half onto the verge, hazard lights flashing, the rear door open on the passenger side.

“What a stupid place to stop!”

There was a car coming the other way too. I slowed down even more as we approached. Two ladies of later middle years were by the open door, one standing, and the other bent over and bending down.

“An accident, one of them caught short or perhaps ill? What?

Then I noticed there was something on the ground. One of the ladies was trying to lift it.

“What’s that, a child, a sack, a bag?”

Then I was tucked in behind their Peugeot as the oncoming car drew level, and in the blink of an eye all was revealed before you could utter a “I don’t believe it!”

Both ladies straightened up, one holding the front legs, one the rear of a small deer and proceeded to quickly shove the animal onto the back seat of the car.

I couldn’t stop to ask, so I’m sorry, I simply don’t know. But it’s my guess that somewhere in the Dales tonight there’s a pan of venison sausages sizzling on the stove!

PS – perhaps someone else travelling on the B6265 Pateley Bridge to Grassington road knows more.

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Yes, I was well and truly jammed in with the doughnuts, squeezed by the meringues and almost spread thinly across the bread counter today. All because I had gone into the local baker’s for a bag of doughnuts. It’s a typical high street bakers, a nice little shop, the emphasis being on little and with one of those rope barriers just inside the door to hold back the queue. And therein lay the problem.

Some woman in what can only be described as a monster mobility scooter, more 4 x 4 than ‘scooter’, came in for her loaf and cream cakes. Only just able to negotiate the width of the doorway in her tractor she came to an abrupt stop. The shop was busy, there was nowhere for her tank to trundle. Result, not so much a traffic jam (another reference to doughnuts, I do like doughnuts), as a complete blockage, a standstill. A stalemate, which is not good in a bread shop, no one in and no one out. Not that is until she was served and with large white safely stowed could set her cart to reverse which she then proceeded to do in a cacophony of beeps, ‘vehicle reversing’ and flashing lights.

Consideration, madame. You may well be disabled, suffer from some illness that makes getting around difficult or simply too lazy to walk, I don’t know. What I do know is that there is no need to behave like that and ride roughshod over one and all, bulldoze pedestrians into the nearest gutter, or in this case ‘kettle’ shoppers in the bread queue.

It’s getting to the point where you stand more chance of being mown down and injured actually on the pavement than you do crossing the road. Time to bring back the man with the red flag to walk in front of these ‘mobility scooters’.  Always the same, the minority tarnish the reputation of the majority.

One small mercy, she didn’t smash and grab all the doughnuts!

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That’s it, it’s so easy, my new book. An instant hit, an ‘International Best-Seller’ and I don’t even have to write a word. A work of pure genius, a plot unsurpassed and a story to top all others and it’s as long or as short as you like. Available NOW, just send your cheque to….

At this point you are probably thinking, “What on earth is he rattling on about!”

There’s a new art exhibition at the Hayward gallery in London entitled ‘Invisible’ where visitors will be asked to “look beyond material objects” and “find that there is plenty to see and experience in this exhibition of invisible art”. Yes, I kid you not. It’s an exhibition of invisible art! Pay the £8 admission fee and you too can wander through empty rooms admiring empty plinths and empty canvasses.

Exhibits include ‘Invisible Sculpture’ by Andy Warhol, an empty plinth upon which he once fleetingly stood. Another ‘1000 Hours of Staring’, a blank piece of paper stared at over a period of 5 years by artist Tom Friedman. And ‘Invisible Labyrinth’ by Jeppe Heine where you can negotiate your way round an invisible maze wearing headsets activated by infra-red beams.

According to the gallery blurb, “works invoke invisibility to underscore the limits of our perceptual capacities or to emphasise the role of our imagination in responding to works of art.”

There’s probably more to it than that, there surely has to be, but that seems to be the gist of it. You can call me a philistine where Modern Art is concerned, I don’t mind.  I just don’t get it.

But it did get me thinking. I am a writer, so by taking the concept a step further…. As I said at the beginning, I have this great idea for a new book!

If only it was that simple.

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