January 2005 Archives - wibbler.com

A few words before I leave home

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It kinda hit tonight.
In the past few days, I’ve been in a haze of busyness, running around and putting everything movable into large boxes, readying them for the move to Guildford. Plans (well, “ideas” at any rate) have been formed for the first few days in our new house, and companies have been informed of the new address. All, in short, is sorted, and tomorrow is the big day.
But as I look around me tonight – at all my worldly possessions, piled high and battling to escape from their cardboard prisons – it’s suddenly sunk in. I’m leaving behind my formative years with my parents – the happy childhood, the uninhibited teenage years and the challenging responsibility of the last half-decade. No longer will my mother wish me goodnight, hoping “that the bugs don’t bite”. No longer will I see my dad come home full of the joys of life, making us laugh despite the rocky road life has dealt him and my mum in recent times. Never again will my mother be able to fuss over and protect me – and never again will my dad try his best to show me the way of life over a lavish meal cooked as only my mother can.
These and many, many others, are the things I shall miss. But I have a load of memories of life growing up. I distinctly remember one Christmas Eve, I was eagerly waiting for Santa to appear. My mum had helped me fill the sherry glasses by the chimney (for some reason, Santa needed a lot of sherry) and I had crept into bed, losing the will to stay awake a few minutes later. The morning came, and miraculously the huge Christmas stocking was by the end of the bed, full of presents. I woke my parents up and rushed downstairs to find something that made me more excited than ever – several perfect snowy footprints leading from the chimney to the stairs, all expertly formed and evidently from Santa’s snowy foot. Although I now know the effort dad had gone to the create the perfect Christmas – the snow was in fact polystyrene, can you believe – the moment made that and many further Christmasses all the more real and magical for me.
Another time, I was looking for a cricket ball and my dad had an idea. He had won a special cricket ball at his school, which had been given for some magnificent cricketing feat and he was very proud of it, keeping it up until that day. And yet here he was, prising off the plaque commemorating his great feat – just so that his son could play cricket for the day.
And all the while, in amongst these many amazing memories of my dad, I have countless wonderful memories of my mother, comforting and caring, being the mum she was born to be, while my dad was out earning a crust. She managed to have an in-built common sense that allowed me to always be looked after and sent in the right direction. After I left home for the first time to go to boarding school, she cried for three days, wishing I could come home but knowing it was for the best. Even to this day, it seems as if she has so much love to give, but not enough time to give it. She really was born to be a mother, and I couldn’t have wished for more.
I suppose all children think that their parents are the best in the world – but despite the ups and the downs, I can safely say that my parents, to me, are the best in the world. There are so many more memories that I could describe, but I’d be here for a goodly while. I know that they have always done their best for me, put me first, worried, comforted and helped – even if as a rebellious teenager I couldn’t always see it.
So this post is for my parents. Thank you both for everything. I know that in moving away to an exciting new stage in my life things will be different – but I shall always be there to help, as you have helped me.
And, let’s face it, I’ll only be 26 miles down the road…

I should have used a Chamois

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There are things we take for granted. Yes, yes, there’s life, money, friends, family and all that stuff – but something equally relied on buy the lazier folk amongst us (or the “time-poor” as The Guardian might call us) is the carwash.
I was driving back from Michelle’s this morning down the A3, when I decided the car could really do with a clean. The wet weather and heavily-gritted roads had taken their toll on the 407’s cracking form, and a brief stop at the nearest car-washing garage would allow me to get the Sunday newspapers and a drink.
There was a small queue of cars at the carwash – three in total – when I arrived. But, in the way that only car queues can, the queue length had multiplied to 6 cars in the short time it had taken to get a carwash ticket. No matter, I thought, I have time on my side. For the first day in a while, I had no plans, so I joined the back of the queue. And waited. My thoughts wandered in and out of radio commercials, now I feel quite strongly that 2017 Avalon lease rates are trully remarkable and that I should tune in next week for the car auction about to take place.
After five minutes of stationary inaction, I began to think something was amiss. Leaning over and peering out of the passenger window, I could make out a small collection of people by the entrance. There seemed to be some confusion over how to operate the carwash. With no visual means of escape – a couple of eager punters had joined the queue behind me – I wondered whether I could be of any help. As I approached, I could tell that most of the group was of “uncertain” origin (although the Bangladeshi-English dictionary on the back seat of their car may have given a clue), and it seemed that they had never seen a carwash in their lives. A stern-looking man was patiently explaining what to do with the aid of some comical arm movements (his visual representation of the sprays of water, accompanied by a loud series of “whooOOOSH!”s, would have won several plaudits at the World Charade Championships*). I ambled back to my car, happy that the situation would soon be resolved.
After another five minutes, the car and it’s Bangladeshi cargo were inside the carwash, enduring something that must have felt very much liek they were sinking. Some further coaxing later and they were out. “Let’s get the show on the road!” I muttered cheerily, thankful that the blockage was cleared.
“Hold up,” I exclaimed mere moments later, as again there seemed to be no progress at the front of the queue. To my utter horror, there was ANOTHER car full of Bangladeshi adventure-seekers, all eager to have a go in this fun contraption but with not a clue between them as to how to use it. “Christ Alive” passed my lips several times as the stern man, by now an expert at this, again became the carwash tutor. A further agonising 10 minutes later and they were in, to sarcastic cheers from the rest the queue – which had now grown to a healthy 12 cars.
During the whole hour-long episode, those drivers who had the good sense to use the handhead jetwash just next door were gliding past, waving and grinning like Cheshire cats as one by one they cleaned their cars for free and in a tenth of the time we had been waiting. But a full hour and 10 minutes after I had joined the queue, my car was pleasingly clean too.
There’s something to be said for a little elbow-grease.
*There is, of course, no such thing.

Blogging isn’t just for geeks – honest.

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I’ve been putting down stuff on wibbler.com for four years now. It’s a quirk that has its perks – through it I’ve met and helped politicians, become a consultant (albeit free, damnit) for other blog enthusiasts and turned into something of an unofficial mouthpiece for the software behind the site.
Of course, blogging is only just emerging as a New Thing – and with it comes the questions. Why do people blog? Isn’t it a bit… geeky? For me, it’s a chance to get all the great and not-so-great things recorded for posterity. But in the last few days I’ve come across two weblogs that really capture the reasons for doing it.
One is Ivan Noble’s Tumour Diary, hosted on the BBC News site. I’ve dipped in and out of his regular updates on life after developing cancer, charting the highs and lows that he goes through. And then, just the other day, he published this entry – telling the world that he is soon to die. Just like that. It really hits you when someone who’s typed those words and who has held your attention for so long is about to leave the mortal coil. The blog’s really worth a read.
The second blog, you’ll be pleased to know, is less morbid. It’s called karmagrrrl, and she’s an American documentary filmmaker. She started the blog as a way of keeping in touch with people she moved away from and her’s is actually a Video Blog – instead of words, she posts videos. And those videos are extremely good, giving a unique insight into her life and American life in general.
See? It’s not just for geeks, I promise.

Forwarding Fun

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These last two weeks have been a bumper ones for email forwards. Here are three of the highlights all stored in the wibbler.com Files directory:
– The controversial Suicide Bomber advertisement from Volkswagen (denied by VW, and in the news everywhere).
– The redeem themselves, the absolutely SUPERB Gene Kelly/VW Golf GTi advertisement.
– A very sweary but very funny song about the London Underground, by a band called Amateur Transplants. The rest of the album is here, and if you buy it the money goes to charity.
UPDATE: So, I innocently forward the London Underground song it to Tim over at bloggerheads.com, which was apparently enough to spur him on and make a flash video of the song in under a day! Here’s the story behind the video, and here’s the main event – The London Underground Web Video, including all those naughty words…

Subscriptions Are Go

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The eagle-eyed amongst you may notice that a new feature has bounded onto wibbler.com – Subscriptions. If you want to subscribe to the blog, there’s a little form on the left of the page, just below Search. And if you’d like to be kept up to date with individual entries, there’s a link under each one on the main page, and a form at the bottom of each entry page.
There, I really look after you…

Crazy Frog and Suicide Bombers

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Viral marketing – a type of marketing that is made to spread through hearsay, gossip and email – seems to have the public by the gullet at the moment. Firstly, there’s that infernally annoying Crazy Frog “best ringtone in the world” – that the keen geeks amongst you may know originated from an impersonation of Murray Walker. Then, there’s the Volkswagen suicide bomber “advert” that has been doing the rounds since last week on email and websites. When I emailed it to friends last week, I knew it would kick off – and lo and behold newspapers are up in arms and VW are looking to sue – or at least pretend they never commissioned it.
I’d go into more depth – but Tim and Bloggerheads.com has beaten me to it, thrashing through the facts more throughly than I could ever manage. So, without further ado, here is Tim’s analysis on:
The VW Polo ‘suicide bomber’ non-ad
The Evolution of Crazy Frog – from Deng Deng to Ringtone

Heaven is triangular-shaped.

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This afternoon, heaven has arrived in our office, in the form of a 4KG Toblerone bar. The sheer scale of it is immense, and so overwhelmed its owner that it’s been standing unattended since its arrival, a focal point for all who pass.
It has 22,673 calories, and 2,340g of fat. It is simply superb.
Rest assured I have already ordered my own, and I suggest you do too, from Woolworths Online.

Right, I need boxes.

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If there’s one thing you can be certain of in life, it is that you can never be certain. In amongst the japes and downright fun, there’ve been many opportunities to learn the finer art of disappointment in my twenty six long years in this world. There was the certainty that as the top athlete in my year I would win most of the athletic events in my school Sports Day – only for me to sprain my ankle the day before my one big chance of sporting glory, by jumping a tad recklessly over the net upon winning a game of tennis. There was the momentous occasion where I was certain to score the highest mark in the school history of Latin exams, only to find that I had forgotten to turn the exam paper over and finish the remaining 15 questions. And of course there was the unerring belief in my early years, along with around ninety percent of boys, that I would be a rock star by the age of twenty-one.
And what have I learnt? I’ve learnt that I should never assume anything – especially if it involve becoming a rock star. And why am I droning on about this? Because despite positive rumblings all week, it’s only now we’ve put pen to dotted line that I can bring myself to announce that I’m moving into my own flat. That’s right – fleeing the nest, out of my mum and dad’s coveting wing and into the big bad world. Not only that, but in the most ambitious step since I popped out of my mother one fine October day, I’m moving in with Michelle, my long-suffering but wonderful girlfriend. We’re settling in St Luke’s Square, Guildford, from the 1st February, and feathering our nest before we host a suitably grown-up
housewarming party.
To be honest, I’ve been threatening to move out for the past year, so it’s come as no surprise to my nearest and dearest. But it’s a big step, the largest of many big steps Michelle and I have made in our lives during the past year and its one we’re definitely looking forward to. My commitment phobia seems to have abated, and for that I’m eternally grateful. She is, frankly, a lucky girl.
The next few weeks will be a blur of packing boxes, phone calls and joint bank accounts, before I finally bid farewell to one part of my life and welcome in the next. There’ll be a lot of people to thank, and a lot to invite round. I’ll have to learn how to work a washing machine, for goodness sake.
But, frankly, it’s probably about time.

I swear it’s all out of proportion

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On Saturday, I went to my second live football match. This, for anyone who knows me, is an astounding revelation and one that should be rightly yelled from the rooftops – or at least here on wibbler.com. However, there has been a piece of news that over the past few days has astounded me so much that instead I’m doing a little story splicing – and show why I think the world and its media are edging toward insanity.
So, the match. I’d never been to a football ground before, mainly because I have always had a passionate dislike of the over-promoted, money-leeching game. However, after four years of a football-loving girlfriend, I felt that it was about time I tried to understand it. Oli, the boyfriend of Michelle’s sister, managed to get us tickets for Queen’s Park Rangers, and off we all trotted up to White City yesterday afternoon to watch them play Nottingham Forest.
White City was the home of the QPR stadium – and my first impressions allowed me to put another area of London on my “Never Willingly Visit” list. The area is named after the neverending Prisoner-Cell-Block-H-style housing estate that stretches for miles. It is also the home of the BBC, and as I emerged from the tube station, as I was approached by a number of leafleters. “Want to protest against the Jerry Springer opera?” they asked. “No”, I muttered, thinking that they must be individual nutcases, intent on being the David to the BBC’s Goliath. I hurried past.
After visiting a local pub, we entered the ground, settling into our seats half an hour before the game began. The match was enjoyable – despite QPR being the wrong side of the 3-0 scoreline – but it is in the crowd’s reaction that my main thrust lies. For throughout the ninety minutes, abuse was hurled at any player who didn’t perform perfectly every time, and further abuse was dealt to those in the crowd who didn’t agree totally with the abusers point of view. Kids the age of 5 and 6 were at the ground, swearing their heads off because they thought it was the thing to do. Players were booed by the opposing supporters for anything they did and any player who dared to venture into a corner was attacked from both sides by the crowd. I can almost understand why footballers are paid so much. At least they can afford counselling.
However, it was an enjoyable day, full of tension, despair, fun with friends and a temperature that successfully kicked off round two of my neverending cold.
While yesterday’s match was in progress, the BBC was being hauled over the public coals for broadcasting an opera based on the Jerry Springer Show. A clever operatic idea, i thought – combine televisual guff with high-minded opera and cross a wide spectrum of viewers. Plus, the schedulers can wallow in being “edgy”. But the media and religious groups have been up in arms about the swearing and blasphemy – and true, there was substantial numbers of both, as I noticed when I watched the thing last night to see what all the fuss was about. It was, in reality, a clever spoof on the whole genre of chat shows, and remarkably funny in some parts. I also watched news coverage of the protests on ITV News just as it was being screened. A female protester was detailing how appalling the opera was, how no one should see it. And then the reporter asked if the protester had already seen it. The protester paused – and then said that she hadn’t. I’ll wager the majority of the protesters hadn’t seen even a second of it.
The media weren’t to be abated though and focused on the swear words, while the religious groups thrust their intimidating vective on the blasphemy. The Sun, of all people, managed to convey their disgust – this from a paper that dismisses the topless Page 3 girls as a “bit of harmless fun“. Which, of course, they are. Protests outside BBC studios ensued, BBC employees addresses and phone numbers were published on websites, causing them to go into hiding (“would these religious fanatics consider that Godly behaviour?” I wondered sarcastically) and the papers were all over the story like a rash.
So, how many swear words are we talking here? The Daily Mail announces, in an increasingly self-righteous tone, that it “has 8000 swear words”. That, firstly, is utter tosh. The number was miraculously reached, says the Mail, by “multiplying the number of profanities by the amount of people singing them”. In reality, and ignoring the fact that there’s a load of backing singers, the Mail on Sunday admits today that the real number is “under 300”.
And that’s considerably fewer than the number I and many seven year old children heard in just one of the football stands yesterday afternoon. And this happens up and down the country, every weekend. Not that I condemn it, of course – all that’s needed is a little perspective from those blinkered protesters.
So, if you want to stop your children swearing, as at least four protesters contended in their interviews yesterday, don’t protest in the freezing cold against a late night, once-shown programme. Just leave your kids at home when you next go to a football match.
UPDATE: Bloggerheads has some comments here, here and here. You go, Tim!