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Rocking Rickshaws

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I woke up at 6.30am, as usual, and demanded my presents. I was now 28, after all, and the frightening closeness to the big 3-0 had to have a silver lining somewhere. Michelle had been teasing me for the best part of two weeks about her plans, and as it turned out she’d pulled out all the stops and get us tickets to the We Will Rock You musical in London. This was doubly brave for her, as she’s not keen on visiting London these days in case she gets blown up….
Naturally, I was excited. We travelled up just after lunch, and ambled round the sights of central London. After initially thinking the Dominion Theatre was in Leicester Square – which was entirely wrong but did enable us to get a meal meal at TGI Fridays into the bargain – we found the theatre, with its huge gold statue of Freddie Mercury glistening outside the entrance. There was a real buzz outside, and inside people we rushing upstairs, downstairs and across the foyer, bundled with sweets, drinks and lightsticks to wave during the performance. We forced our way through to the main theatre – past the poor souls queueing for ages to get their tickets – sat in a seat at the back middle of the auditorium.
And, from there, we sat – increasingly mesmerised at the antics on stage. Michelle and I had forgotten how good musicals were – and this one is no exception. It’s not your standard musical – and it doesn’t chart the musical life of Queen or Freddie Mercury either. It has it’s own imaginary story, based around Queen songs. And it is VERY good indeed. On a chilly Thursday night, after 6 years of twice-daily performances, they still managed to get the entire audience on their feet, chanted, laughing, dancing and singing along with the cast.
I can’t imagine how the cast manage to do the same thing every day for years like that. One of the cast had been there since it first started in 2000 – although I later learned that they do swop roles, which I suppose is something. And I imagine the cash incentive is a bit of a factor…
Anyway, after these musings, Michelle and I stepped out into the chilly night, eagerly peering round for a taxi. But there, shining it in eccentric brilliance, was a far better form of transport. Ladies and Gentleman, before us was a rickshaw. With a man on the front, eager searching for punters. Most people stayed clear, not wishing to be seen on a glorified bicycle – but it was exactly what I was after. I dragged Michelle into the two-seater “cab”, and sat down. The “driver” peered in and took a long look at me. I was wondering whether I’d have to pay a surcharge for my ample frame, but he relented, hoped on and cycled for all he was worth to Waterloo train station. Luckily, there were no hills, and he managed to get there with the minimum of fuss – although we had time to wave to astonished onlookers and text most of my phone book with the words, “Currently on a rickshaw”. Sorry about that…
So, another cracking birthday, thanks to Michelle. When I got to work the following Monday to boast it turned out my boss had seen it four time “and counting”. Show off.

Stuffed as a Turkey

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Merry Christmas all – did you get so many good presents that you’ve no idea which to use first? Did you eat so much that your overriding resolution is to diet as soon as possible? Did you drink so much that your head is pleading for mercy? If yes, your last three days were striking similar to mine and you are now researching the effects of garcinia cambogia. Christmas Eve was filled with a visit to Annie’s house and then Wetherspoons in Haslemere with Elli, Mel, David B and others. Michelle, meanwhile was getting on very well with her sister, friends and no small amount of alcohol in Guildford.
Christmas morning was filled with excited ripping open of presents, although Michelle needed a bit more sleep and a couple more paracetamol before she was fully excited about her presents. Christmas afternoon was spent giving presents to parents and relatives, listening to the Queen’s speech (and slagging off Jamie Oliver for giving an Alternative Message), eating turkey and cake and generally catching up with family news. One downside to living away from my mum and dad means there’s always news to catch up on…
And then there was the visit to Nick’s house on Boxing Day. His girlfriend Sarah’s parents are well-known for their enormous spreads at special occasions, and this turned out to be no different. We started by exchanging presents – and were immediately shamed by Nick and Sarah’s generosity. Then it was the turn of our second Christmas lunch. It was a whopper. The plate was heaving with turkey, sprouts, carrots, mashed potatoes, roast potato, stuffing and many more things, piled high. Even more astonishingly, I almost finished it, albeit after thirty minutes of munching…
Michelle, bless her, has been working solidly all through Christmas, and the day after Boxing Day was no exception. Actually, it was a slight exception – she was due to start work at 4.30am. Next‘s Christmas sales are renowned, and as she works there as Office Manager she needed to be there early to count the money. Amazingly, as we arrived at the store at 4.15am in temperatures on -2c, there were PEOPLE QUEUEING. I’ve no idea why they thought getting up early in the freezing cold after a weekend of debauchery was a good idea… although it cheered me up to point and laugh as I drove by in my warm car.
And finally yesterday was Michelle’s family Christmas. Another truckload of delicious food and millions (well, three) children running around having Christmas-based fun. We were all exhausted by the end, and as we arrived him Michelle crept into bed. Even I didn’t manage to stay up much past eleven.
So, I’m fit to burst. In an attempt to eat less and more healthily, I’ve brought my breakfast cereal in to have for lunch. unfortunately, there’s a large box of Terry’s Chocolate Orange Sensations on my desk – and it would be a waste to ignore them, wouldn’t it?

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!

Fancy Dress party

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Last weekend, Jac, Nick and I popped up to see some friends in London. Simon H, unfortunately, was “unavailable” (those inverted commas are purely for the overinformed). It was initially a fancy dress get-together, but, scared by the mere thought of what Jac and I might concoct, the ‘fancy dress’ aspect was duly cancelled 3 days before the event. This was like a red rag to a bull. After calming the hosts’ fears, and assuring them that we were just arriving in normal clothes, we rolled up on the mauve doorstep in Balham, South London, with the most stupid outfits we could find. Jac went so far as to buy a costume, while I had dressed so fancily that no one could recognise me when the door eventually opened. As I presented myself at the door of the living room, the whole place went as quiet as the Queen Mother, as 22 normally-dressed people stared. In retrospect, I should have waited for Jac before entering, being only a minute behind me, waddling up the road dressed as an elf.
I tell you, trying to have a conversation with Elvis glasses, a huge afro wig and a bushy moustache is no easily flippable pancake. Remarkably hard. As the evening wore on, and the initial raucous laughter had died down, I wondered what on earth possessed me to slip into this overly hot rubbish. I duly changed, and as I poked my head out of the bathroom, I could make out the shape of Jac (don’t even ask me what shape Jac is…), suctioned heartily to Mel, hostess for the night. Again.
So, a jolly good night was had. I got drunk and was challenged to a wrestle (humble apologies to the opponent for his shredded boxer shorts…); Jac lost some more of his short-term memory (“I’ll have some garlic… what’s it called?” “Bread, Jac” “Oh yes, garlic bread”); and we all unfortunately confused the word “pansies” with the word “panties”, consequently thinking that Elli’s panties always face the sun, and must be watered at least once a day.

The Queens Royal Jubilee

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The Queen’s Golden Jubilee in the UK – did anyone see it? If you were in the UK, it’s likely you would have seen at least some of the amazing celebrations of the Royal Family – four days of partying, including a huge pop/rock concert with loads of famous names, a classical concert, pomp and pagentry in a 4 ton gold chariot and a huge carnival drew 14 million TV viewers a night, and millions more went to see the royal knees-up, knocking the royal critics for six. Even Ozzy Osbourne sang a number, bless him. The final royal flypast rounded off the most amazing scenes I’ve ever seen.
Ooooh, I LOVE England…

Socks

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What is it with socks? I’ve always complained in the past that I never have enough socks, and these (not so) subtle hints result in sock replenishments every now and then. So tonight I decided to turn my sock drawer out (yes, it’s been a slow day…). And i’m shocked. 74 socks. An ENORMOUS amount. But here’s the problem: only 24 of them match. 12 pairs. That’s it. Where do the other socks go? Is there a sock fairy? Do they all end up, washed out and craggy, in a small retirement home for socks in Wiltshire? I’ve taken to wearing odd socks now, mainly because early mornings aren’t the best sock-searching times, but mostly to fill in those awkward pauses in conversation. “So, Queen Mother’s died then. “Yes.” (awkward pause) “But hey, look at my socks!”

Just when I thought my

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Just when I thought my day couldn’t get any duller, along came this gem of a story from my friend David B. It seems he was sitting at his computer, looking for something to do one night. David takes up the story…

“…well I was looking for music on Limewire [internet file-sharing software like Napster, used to illegally download copyrighted songs] (i think ‘queen good old fashioned lover boy’ – bad string to put into the internet I know) and came up with songs etc – i think as i clicked to download a song the list got bigger and I ended up not noticing that I had started to download child porn – at this point I had a problem: could delete it, but was concerned about how these things are traced and can stay on computer – so I ended up speaking to a friend who does law and they said I should tell police. So… phoned up this unit and, a bit nervous, sort of didn’t say what i meant and made it sound like i had been LOOKING FOR CHILD PORN TO DOWNLOAD – fortunately copper asked me to be careful with what i say and re-word it. Unfortunately the rewording ended up being a large explanation of me downloading copyrighted material (luckily cop didn’t seem too worried about this). So anyway end of it is okay I hope – but careful what you put on limewire from now on as had to tell him service I was using.”

Excellent. 😉