Outside the newsagents sits an elderly lady in a wheelchair complete with crocheted blanket, no doubt a present from a concerned relative. It's one of those old fashioned wheelchairs, nothing like the motorised shopmobility scooters that seem to be everywhere these days; hurtling pensioners at hitherto unheard of speeds from post office to Aldi.
She's on her own, parked outside on the pavement looking forlornly at the door like a dog tied to a railing.
First of all - thanks for the suggestions Kirsten! Here's your goat.
Well, December is upon us, which means I've put the Christmas tree up. Whilst this is something that I generally look forward to, and indeed, get quite excited about - as with most things in life the reality does not live up to my idealised imaginings. For anyone who hasn't put there's up yet, here's a few pointers for you:
Drink heavily before attempting to put up a tree of any size. This doesn't make it any easier but at least you won't care as much, and the injuries that you will no doubt incur won't hurt until you sober up.
Make sure you put the base together correctly before attaching the tree. Crawling round on the floor with twigs poking you in the eye whilst the whole thing sways worryingly above you can be avoided this way.
Plan where you are going to put the tree in advance, considering sight lines to the TV, windows, each other etc.. Moving a fully decorated tree should only be attempted by someone experienced in disarming landmines.
Test the lights before putting them on the tree. This will help you avoid the frustration of finding out that they won't turn on because one shitting bulb has blown, and Christ alone knows how you're supposed to find out which of the little wankers it is. Or in severe cases (like the memorable Christmas of '98) the whole thing going up like a roman candle and second degree burns.
Don't expect anyone else to appreciate your efforts. Whilst you may decorate the tree with the all the care and attention to colour, design and space as Picasso, this won't stop your wife/husband/children/man come to read the gas meter saying it looks "ok" before moving everything around.
Small animals - especially those partial to shiny things, should be caged for the entire duration of Christmas to avoid the 'baubles everywhere and trying to untangle the cat from the tree' scenario.
So there you go. Follow these guidlines, and you should be ok.
My favourite day of the week rolls around yet again - and what's more I'm off work for a bit, so even more cause for celebration. I aim to be in the pub within the hour...
Though tonight is Children in Need night here in the UK, a worthy charity indeed, but it does mean that I will no doubt be accosted several times by people dressed in a variety of outfits asking for donations. I can only hope it's mostly girls in their 20's dressed as nurses and strippers, and not Prince Harry dressed as a Nazi (see above).
Also at this time of year, I start to think about Christmas presents. Not what I want, but what I should be buying for my various family and friends. I always find it quite tricky to buy for others when I have no idea what they want. My sister as usual has given me a list, which is appreciated, and my best friend Andy will be getting a book like he does every year, but as for everyone else, I'm somewhat adrift. I ask them, and say things like 'surprise me', or 'I don't really know'. If they don't know what they want, how am I supposed to guess? And as for a 'surprise'- you can take this 2 ways, and I've learnt through experience that exotic pets and severed goats head - whilst fulfilling the remit of being a surprise - are not necessarily appreciated.
So please let me know your suggestions for what I should buy my assorted family and friends - they cover a wide range of ages, genders, cultures and sexual orientations. The winner gets a severed goats head.
Well - still no 'proper' computer, but at least I've got the work laptop running on xp now.
That time of year is upon once more my friends where we moan about all the Christmas ads on TV, the shop window displays full of snow, and generally reminisce about how when we were kids no one motioned Christmas before 24th December and it's getting earlier every year.This years bunch of Christmas adds are quite a chilling affair, headed up by M&S who's adverts begin with Stephen Fry telling us to mince once a year. Oh M&S, you masters of the subtle double-entendre. My personal favourite is Mr Sansburys (that's Jamie Oliver to anyone who doesn't own a TV) giving out mince pies from the back of Sainsburys van parked in quaint villages. It has an unusual docu-drama feel which I assume is to lead us to believe that this is what Jamie likes to do in his spare time when he's not busy having a life.
Whilst we're on the subject of things that are just plane wrong - there's a poster at Chancery Lane tube station for the new twilight movie - you know, Mills&Boon for teenage girls - with a great big picture of the moody looking Robert Pattinson. Since it's gone up, there is an increasing amount of lipstick appearing on his face as passers-by, presumably teenage girls or the mentally ill have been kissing it. Now I know that the cleaning team in our capitals underground transport system do a wonderful and often under appreciated job, but I still can't believe that advertising posters put up by an elderly man called Arthur who looks like he could use a shower and smells like piss are safe to lick. I expect an outbreak of hepatitis any day now.
Since I've been away for a while, I thought I'd treat you all to this little gem. Lady GaGa's poker face as you've never heard it before. All worship the hair....
Or more accurately, boom. My computer had an 'episode' yesterday. It's been coming for a while, but it finally kicked the bucket around dinner time. I've tried changing the graphics card, and both hard drives, but no luck. I think it's the motherboard (or rather, hoping it is as my hard drive contains all my music, films, bank account details, entire life etc...), but as I built the thing about 2 years ago - and chip designers seem intent on changing how many pins their processors have every 2 days - it's proving harder than I imagined trying to get a new one. It's time like these that you realise just how much you rely on the interweb. Back when I was at school, we had these weird things called 'books' instead, though to be honest, they did have some advantages like being able to work in a power cut. But now, I find myself pacing the room and foaming at the mouth occasionally. No longer can I type in my postcode on google streetmaps and see what the outside of my flat looks like, no longer can I while away the hours looking up facts of dubious authenticity on Wikipedia. In fact, about only entertainment I have is to try one of these.
Still got my work laptop at least, it's one of those 'take anywhere as long as you don't mind lifting 40 pounds and a battery life of 23 seconds' jobbies that they found at the back of a store room, Better than nothing I suppose, and it does stop me from sitting naked and rocking in the corner of a dark room like Robert Downey Jnr did for most of the 90s.
For those of you who are unaware of Sainsburys, it's a large grocery chain in the UK, a bit like Tesco or Walmart.
I wrote this from bitter experience of the one near me for part of the novel I'm still writing. The central character is a bit more bitter and twisted than me, so it's a bit more scathing. It's also just a first draft, so still a bit rough...
I hate this place. It's an asylum, a place where the lost and confused get dumped by uncaring relatives so that they can forget them. Pensioners wonder aimlessly through the aisles, attached to their trolleys like a life support. Single men squeezing melons to find a ripe one, confused looks on their faces. A woman holds a coconut next to her ear and shakes it, God knows why.
The refrigerated aisle is littered with half empty cages of steel wire whilst a man in an orange fleece slowly puts chicken madras for one on an empty shelf, one by one, occasionally checking use by dates and shuffling them around.
That's the worst thing about this place. Worse than the lost pensioners who've been trapped in here for days - zig zagging at a glacial pace in search of an exit, worse than the mothers with their screaming children parking their trolleys sideways across the aisles by the cheese; worse than all of these is the atrocious stock management. Around every corner and down every aisle it's littered with steel cages half full of whatever. People in orange fleeces taking things out one by one, blocking the aisle so only one trolley pushed by a moron with no sense of urgency or the passage of time can meander at their own pace past them. And despite this, the place has the feel of communist Russia; half empty spaces where the bread should be, a drastic shortage of semi-skimmed milk but an abundance of sterilised. I don't know how they manage it, people stocking shelves all day but there's never any food. It's like an episode of the twilight zone, some shelve stacker's own personal nightmare I've somehow been trapped in.
A sign where the eggs should be lies to me. If there's a country-wide shortage of free range, then where are Asda getting there's from? Well?
And we'll end with a funky choon. This just makes me want to jump around the living room:
I was lurking around the interweb yesterday, when I came across a good article on the common mistakes new authors make. I think it's aimed primarily at fantasy writers, but as a non-fantasy writer, I think it's got some good pointers. It's a series of 10 articles, 5 in each, so 50 altogether just here I've been writing a bit more lately - still plugging away at that multi-million bestseller that's gonna be ready as soon as I get off my arse and get writing more.
Went up to Nottingham at the weekend - Mrs Block was running the half-marathon (and no, I didn't before you ask). Just under 2 hours, so she's pretty chuffed. This week's looking bright for a change. I feel like there's a light at the end of the tunnel - here's hoping it not a man walking the other way with a flame thrower...