Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Karma's Gonna Getcha

Seven hours sitting on a plane next to a girl with a six-month old daughter does not a restful night’s sleep make. But that’s a whole other story and one best kept for a time when I’m awake enough to tpye proper on ths keybroad.

For now, let me just say that no sooner did I arrive home to wet and windy Scotland – all the while chortling about what a hoot it’d been waiting for, and then being disappointed by, the non arrival of Hurricane Rita – but I was greeted with this scene of carnage and destruction in my back garden.

I’m telling you, Mother Nature's out there watching, listening and checking off names of people who have gone and done her wrong; people with no respect for her standing and the awesome power (dude) she could unleash at any time; people, in other words, like me.

The ironic thing is that the back garden fence devastation almost landed on my recycling bins. GODDAMIT MOTHER NATURE, CAN’T YOU SEE I’M DOING MY BIT?

So I say to Mother Nature, I’ll see your back garden fence devastation tactics, and I’ll raise you a very funny joke sent to me my fabulous future sister-in-law Kathryn who in turn, received this shocking and gut wrenching photograph of the hurricane damage in Houston from her friend Paige who happens to live in Houston.

If you have young children with you in front of your monitor, steer them away from the screen now.

This is NOT pretty.

Have you braced yourself?

Scroll down at your peril.

And don’t sue me for any lingering trauma.

Call or fold Mother Nature… if you think you’re hard enough?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The Answer My Friend...

If you’ve been reading this blog during the last week or so you can probably - no make that definitely – skip over this column I wrote for the Daily Record today. Why not do something more constructive like visiting Amazon to buy the new Doves cd or checking out these fine specimens showcasing essential golfing attire for the fall season.

There is something immensely satisfying about packing a bag and flying off to a foreign land at the drop of a hat. Perhaps it’s the dizzying prospect of sitting next to a mysterious and available woman on the plane and charming her with my best chat up lines – both of them. Or maybe it’s got more to do with the fact that taking a week’s holiday abroad always ends up feeling more like a fortnight. (This, of course, is cancelled out by the law of nature that states that once you get back to work, it’s like you’ve never been away.)

Whatever the reason, this time last week I was shuffling around the house watching ‘Loose Women’ and tinkering with my light sabre - it’s a Star Wars toy not a pet name - but 24 hours and two phone calls later, I was on a flight heading to that most patriotic of American States, Texas.

On the surface, the plan for the week seemed perfect. Stay with my younger brother Keith at his palatial home on the outskirts of the State capital Austin. Kick his scrawny little butt over the course of a few keenly fought golf matches. Gorge myself silly on the delights of the numerous barbeque restaurants that populate the community. And render American women giddy and helpless with my exotic Scottish accent whilst pretending to be Ewan McGregor.

But as soon as I arrived at the palatial house, the grand plans were thrown into some confusion when Keith announced casually, “Em, it’s great to see you and thanks for coming but don’t know you know there’s a hurricane on the way?”

Sure enough, some sort of pesky weather front named Rita was brewing in the Gulf of Mexico and was on course to smash straight through our neighbourhood (and my plans for female seduction) some time over the weekend.

For two days we tracked the storm’s progress on television; not a difficult task given the saturation coverage by the media after the Hurricane Katrina debacle. President Bush appeared regularly to assure us he was monitoring the situation “pursnally” and local officials were swiftly off the mark to action their emergency plans.

Weekend sporting events were cancelled early, school closures were announced and shops and petrol stations were packed with anxious residents stocking up on essential supplies in case of disaster. Most remarkable of all was the sight of some three million people evacuating the coast and clogging up the highways in hundred mile traffic jams as they headed west towards safety and refuge in Austin.

Of course all of that meant that these self same evacuees managed to snap up all the available hotel rooms and unreserved tables at the barbeque restaurants as well as the attentions, no doubt, of the eligible Austin women on whom I’d had my eye. Talk about a disaster.

However, before you start dispatching food parcels and an endless list of internet dating sites let me reassure you that Hurricane Rita took a swift turn to the north on Friday and easily missed Austin by a few hundred miles.

We managed to muddle through the crisis with the help of a healthy supply of ice cold beer and a fantastic take away pizza place just down the street. We even managed to squeeze in a few of rounds of golf where Keith’s scrawny little butt got royally kicked. And when the President arrived in town on Saturday afternoon, we sighed with relief, exchanged a couple of brotherly hugs and knew everything was going to be just fine.

But the next time I head to the airport on a whim I’ll make sure I’ve packed my emergency survival kit – at least four chat up lines.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

If It's Sunday, It's Gotta Be...


Austin’s Zilker Park today hosted the final day of one of the country’s biggest live music festivals and oh my sweet Lord was it hot. I don’t mean pleasant-but-better-take-a-wee-jumper-for-later hot, but rather 108-freakin’-degrees-with-sweat-oozing-from-your-eyeballs-and-dustclouds-turning-your-boogers-to-black hot.

I shit you not, the crowded scene at sunset was like one of those famine-ravaged Ethiopian desert plains; an endless ocean of humanity of biblical proportions… although there was obviously a bit more Abercrombie & Fitch on show than is normally found in the fields outside Addis Ababa.

Despite the trying conditions though the music, on the whole, was excellent so here’s my truncated review.

Doves: Absolutely brilliant. In my humble opinion they have no weak songs and they can certainly deliver on stage despite playing to a lethargic, dehydrated, mid-afternoon audience. Should be much bigger than they already are.

The Bravery: Heard them in the distance and frankly nothing much to write ho….

Kaiser Chiefs: That ‘riot’ song is a pretty catchy number so it is. My toe was a-tappin’.

Arcade Fire: With their eclectic mix of genders and instruments, Chris Martin claims they’re the best band in the world. I couldn’t disagree more.

Franz Ferdinand: I’ve never understood the appeal of this band – just don’t get it at all. However, I’ve been told in the past that I should really see them play live so I was looking forward to the experience. Sure enough, I was surprised to discover that they are, in fact, even more unremarkable than I first thought. They’re just… I dunno… very, very ordinary and the singer (and I use that term loosely) must be tone deaf if the number of bum notes is anything to go by. Sorry, but they completely escape me. Answers on a postcard please.

Coldplay: Great songs, professionally delivered. Have evolved into the perfect stadium band whether they like it or not.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

If It's Saturday, It's Gotta Be...


Actually, not so much. Because according to the reputable television news agencies, the so-called hurricane made a swift detour north towards Louisiana last night and we haven’t had the merest hint of wind never mind a drop of rain.

If the truth be told, we’re all a little disappointed not to have seen some exciting hurricane action. So much so in fact that my fabulous, glamorous and esteemed future sister-in-law Kathryn is starting to doubt whether a hurricane even existed in the first place.

She’s starting to put forward various theories of government conspiracies which seem to get more animated in direct proportion to the amounts of Pinot Grigio that are consumed. Funny thing is that I find her rationale more credible with every bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon (NOT Merlot!) that passes my lips. We’ve all seen ‘Capricorn One’ so we know that kind of shit can be arranged at the drop of a hat.

The President has been monitoring the situation for the past day or so from the safe haven of a Colorado mountain but arrived here in Austin with a flurry this afternoon to see the situation first hand. (The situation is 300 miles to the east, allegedly.) He also walked that funny walk of his which always makes me think that his arms are wooden and he missed his calling as a character on ‘Thunderbirds’.

Poor guy though – he’s damned if he does nothing and damned if he’s seen as making political capital out of the situation. If he’d only admit the ‘situation’ is a ruse to enable him to return to his native Texas and finish his ranch vacation, we’d all thank him for his honesty, think no more about it and go on with our lives queuing at gas stations.

Nighty night, y’all.

Friday, September 23, 2005

If It's Friday, It's Gotta Be...


And golf and then some major napping. Oh, and I bumped into Chris Robinson, lead singer of the Black Crowes and husband to Kate Hudson, in a downtown record store today. (Waterloo Records for you Austin aficionados.) Nice guy I suppose, but the dude was bugging me something awful about when The Signals would be getting back on the road and whether we would let them support us.

“Queue starts back there man,” I informed him in a rubbish Texan accent. “Just grab yourself a number and stand behind Bono.”

Thursday, September 22, 2005

If It's Thursday, It's Gotta Be...

…AUSTIN baby!!!

This is the gorgeous view from my bedroom window as the sun was coming up around 7.15 this morning. Actually, to be more accurate, this is the view from the upstairs balcony beside my bedroom where I sat from 4.45am, bright, breezy and wide awake waiting for the sun to come up.

Jet lag is such a funny thing; not ‘funny-ha-ha’ but more ‘where-the fuck-am-I-and-how-did-I get-here-funny’, which, if you think about it (and I had a lot of hours to think about it this morning) isn’t particularly funny at all.

Stepping out on to the balcony at 4.45am, I was greeted with a blast of warm air (I... eh… had double pepperoni pizza last night) and a crescendo of crickets or grasshoppers doing their Beastie Boys no-sleep-till-dawn chorus. It struck me as a shame that they all whistle or click or sing exactly the same note (C#, I think it is) because if they were a bit more organised they could belt out a pretty spectacular acappella tune. I can just picture them on a street corner huddled around a glowing fire in a trash can debating what their next number will be…

Cricket 1: “Right guys, ‘Goodnight Sweetheart’ in G major. All together now, one, two, three…”
Cricket 2: “Woah, woah, hold on a minute man. We, like, totally did that last night AND the night before and its just, like, SO old. What about something that’s, like, more... now?”
Cricket 3: “I agree dude. Some Snoop or some Diddy would be, like, awesome man!”
Cricket 1: “Oh really. So you two’ve been talking about changes to the set without me and cricket 4 have you?”
Cricket 4: “Hey, leave me outta it man. I only sing bass so, like… whatever.”
Cricket 2: “Chill cricket 1 dude. We just thought…”
Cricket 1: “WE? WE? I started this band. And I was the one who got us the gigs and drove the van and packed up the gear and…”
Cricket 2: “Yeah but that was when we was happening man. Look at us now. Stuck on this street corner at four in the freaking morning freezing our li’l cricket balls off. It’s a change of direction or me and cricket 3 are outta here man.
Cricket 3: “Totally dude.”
Cricket 1: “I can’t believe what I’m hearing. After everything I’ve done. I… I…”
Cricket 2: “It’s just time to move on man. But I tell you what… for old times sake, just one more rendition of New York singer-songwriter Billy Joel’s ‘For The Longest Time’. Take it away cricket 4. One, two, a-one…”
Cricket 4: “Dum, dum, dum...”
Cricket 3: “Woah-Oh-Oh-Oh…”
Cricket 2: “…the longest…”
Cricket 3: “…for the longest time…”

As I was saying… jet lag is a funny thing.

Anyway, today my brother Keith and I played the gorgeous golf course above in temperatures of almost 100 degrees and very pleasant it was too. The cart girl and her ice cold Powerade… eh... I mean… beer, visited us regularly and the course was virtually empty.

That may change in the next couple of days however, because as I type, I’m watching three million people on television clogging up the highways as they head this way from Houston and the gulf coast. Not far behind them is Hurricane Rita and the whole thing is like a scene from ‘The Day After Tomorrow’.

It’s hard to believe a hurricane is on its way and none of the television ‘experts’ seem too sure as to where it’s going to hit or how big an impact it’ll have here in Austin. A lot of sporting events have been cancelled this weekend but we’re all waiting to find out whether Austin City Limits (think ‘T In The Park’ x 2) will go ahead. We’ve got tickets to go and see Coldplay, Franz Ferdinand et al on Sunday so fingers crossed.

More updates, like, later dude. Totally.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

You'll never believe who was on my plane from Glasgow to Chicago today? Go on, guess? Go on. Go on, go on, go on, go on, go on. Give up?

Only George Wendt who played Norm in 'Cheers', the greatest tv comedy of all time. When I saw him sitting sweating and out of breath in first class, I had to physically restrain myself from shouting "NORM!" at the top of my masculine Scottish voice, realising just in time that he probably hears that 100 times a day.

Then I couldn't remember if his surname is pronounced 'Went' or 'Vent' so I got too self conscious to tell him I'm a big fan. Poor guy though, his face looked grey and ashen (can it be both?) and he looked like a heart attack waiting to happen. If I read tomorrow that he's passed away peacefully in his sleep I'm gonna physically kick myself.

Oh and apparently there's some kind of troublesome weather front heading towards me here in Texas. I really must read the newspaper I write for now and again.

If It's Wednesday, It's Gotta Be...

…CHICAGO baby!

Pizza, gangsters, jazz clubs, comedy clubs, pizza, the Cubbies, the Bears, the Bulls, the White Sox, pizza, skyscrapers, Dr Abby Lockhart, the ‘L’ and pizza are just a few of the city attractions I won’t have time to see during my 115 minute stopover at Chicago’s O’Hare International airport.

I’ll be too busy charming the security staff and filling out ten sets of immigration forms before rushing to another terminal to catch an onward flight to a more southern State; a BIG State with steers and beers and oil and golf galore. Can you tell where it is yet?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

If It's Tuesday, It's Gotta Be...???

I'm only slightly ashamed to admit that I indulged in a bit more self-plagiarisation this week (will it make me go blind?) when putting together my column. In my defence, I got up at 5.00am on Sunday and drove 400 miles in six and a half hours to meet up with family before finishing the writing so I was a tad weary.

Mind you, if this pattern of trawling the blog archives for potential newspaper material continues, Daily Record readers could soon be getting the full scoop on the antics in my garden or my large white baps. Maybe then I'd make page 3? Maybe not.

By the time you read these words over your nutritious, Tuesday morning breakfast or during a lull in the five hour excitement that is queuing at a petrol station, I shall be doing one of the following.

1. Sipping espresso in a stylish European city eyeing up elegant European women as they zip along on the backs of their sleek European scooters.

2. Cruising along the fairways of a sun kissed American golf course in my little motorised buggy hoping it won’t be long until the attractive American girl and her cart load of ice cold, American beer make a welcome appearance on the horizon.

3. Lying on a paradise island beach pretending to read ‘The Da Vinci Code’ whilst keeping an eye out for any bikini-clad supermodels in distress among the crashing waves.

4. Shuffling around the house in my dressing gown and slippers waiting for “Loose Women” to come on the telly, wishing I’d thought of something more productive and exciting to do with my week long holiday from work.

Not that I’m implying that watching “Loose Women” is in any way a waste of my precious leisure time. On the contrary, it is one of the most illuminating and educational television programmes around and should be compulsory viewing for all men. Seriously guys, it’s like being a fly on the wall in the girls’ common room where women say what they really think instead of all the confusing feminine double talk we usually encounter. And that Kaye Adams? Beauty and brains personified. And Claire Sweeney. And Terri Dwyer. I could go on and on but I digress.

You see, as I write these words it’s Saturday morning and I haven’t got a single, solitary idea as to what I’m going to do with my week’s holiday. Sure, I could catch up with all those annoying little household chores and half-hearted projects that are crying out to be completed – things like essential nose hair trimming or putting the final flourishes to my Star Trek-themed West End musical, ‘We Will Spock You’. But I’ve got the urge to travel, especially since I have to run my brother to the airport on Monday morning.

If I was brave enough I’d pack a bag and fly off to the first exotic destination that takes my fancy without any thought of accommodation or currency or insurance. However I’d have to spend an inordinate amount of time inside the airport and if there’s one thing I can’t stand in this world its airports. More specifically, the idiotic people who frequent airports.

Why is it that some people instantly lose the ability to read signs, tell time, follow instructions and communicate coherently when they enter an airport. Everywhere you go you see them gazing up at the roof as if they’ve just woken from an unsuccessful lobotomy.

At the check-in desk after queuing for twenty minutes… “Oh, you want to see my passport? I’m sure I have it here somewhere.”

At the security checkpoint… “Oh, I need to take my laptop OUT of its case? Because I thought that all the signs and verbal instructions to take my laptop out of its case meant that I should actually stand here with it IN its case so I can set off the metal detector as I crush through at the same time as all five of my feuding family.”

At the departure gate… “A boarding card? What’s that?”


If it’s all the same to you, I think I’ll resort to reading The Da Vinci Code with a fridge full of cold Belgian beer whilst enjoying the company of loose women in the comfort of my own home.

Monday, September 19, 2005

If It's Monday, It's Gotta Be...

…the M6; a long, LONG and very dark road where I spend most of the evening driving home clutching a piece of paper with potential flight reservations. Dun, dun dun!!!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

If It's Sunday, It's Gotta Be...

…Kennington; a small village just south of Oxford (no doubt twinned with equally quaint villages like Flipping Norflap, Piddle on the Wrye and Ooh Vicar What Lovely Crumpets in the neighbouring shires) where my siblings are gathered for an afternoon filled with cups of tea, bacon sandwiches and watching nephews run amok.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Fatal Distraction

One of the best things about having a blog AND a newspaper column is that when you’re stuck in the house on a Sunday facing a 5pm deadline and the sports channels are showing some of the most dramatic action of the year, you can trawl through your archives, pull a ‘journalistic’ rabbit out of the proverbial hat, trim off the excess fur and pop it in the creative pot of boiling water. Leave to simmer for 30 minutes, add a couple of 100-word side dishes and hey presto, you’re back in front of the riveting Solheim Cup action before you can say “self-plagiarisation”.

So here’s this week’s effort which first appeared here back in March with all of its Thumper-like fur and cute little floppy ears. Let me assure the orphan Bambis among you that no real bunnies were harmed in this process but sometimes in the night I can still hear the hypothetical screaming as the flapping little legs descended slowly through the fictitious steam. Oh, and if you’ve time (rather than household pets) to kill, you can find the official version here at these red words that are underlined.

One of the best things about going back to work after a career break is finding out you’re still entitled to some days off before the year end. So next week I’m on holiday and am considering flying to Texas to visit the majestic golf course adjacent to my brother’s house. However, negotiating admittance into the United States is an experience that never fails to turn me into a quivering wreck, full of unexplainable guilt and involuntary bowel movements. My visit to Florida last year is the perfect example.

The trauma began on the plane when the ever-patient cabin crew distributed two Visa and Customs forms to complete in readiness for the immigration interview. The first was form DIAL911/RUSMUGGLIN, a fairly straightforward Customs query, which asked if I was bringing in any perishable goods/livestock/class-A drugs etc. With no pet or haggis to declare, I ticked “No” to all questions.

The second form was Visa Waiver Form I-94WHOTHEHELLRU and this is where the trouble started. Despite having helpful boxes for each character of my name, address, passport no. etc., I managed to write my date of birth in the wrong section. After pestering the cabin crew for a replacement form, I was concentrating so hard on using capital letters and not going over the lines with my pen (blue or black only), that I completely forgot how to spell my own name.

As I congratulated myself on successfully completing my details on a third form, I realised that my neighbour was now filling in the reverse side. Here, a series of probing questions are listed, designed to check your eligibility for entry but instead, end up making you feel like you really don’t get out enough.

“Have you ever sold drugs, been arrested, been a prostitute or procurer of prostitutes?”
Arrested? Nope!

“Have you ever participated in persecutions directed by the Nazi government of Germany; or have you ever participated in genocide?”
Nope! But would I really tick “Yes” if I had?

After landing, I inched my way forward in the queue towards the robust Immigration Official, trying desperately to think of the most appropriate demeanor to make the inquisition as smooth as possible.

“Right Neil, be cool. Informative but not too chatty. Smile but don’t try and tell any jokes. Avoid twitching, rapid gum chewing or suggestive winking. And whatever you do, don’t mention the fact that you’re in America to become an au pair to a friend who has two young sons and is going to slip you some cash-in-hand dollars every week.”

Eventually I was given permission to approach Roberta, my official interviewer. I swaggered forward in a manner that was meant to exude James Bond-like poise but instead, managed a passable impression of Mr. Bean on speed.

Roberta flicked through my passport and without looking up or changing expression asked, “So, Neil Sutherland? Any relation to Kiefer or Donald?”

I grinned inanely and shook my head not certain whether this was a genuine attempt at affability or a trick question. I knew her next query was going to be, “Are you here for business or pleasure?” and I had my one word answer all prepared when she threw me yet another verbal curve ball.

“So what’s the purpose of your visit to the United States?”

Instantly losing the ability to construct a coherent sentence, I transformed into Yoda and mumbled something like “stopover brief friend help out writing holiday I am thanks.” Roberta frowned quizzically, clearly mesmerised by my charming accent, and completed the remainder of her form-checking and passport-stamping without any additional flurry.

So next week I think I’ll go and visit the majestic golf course adjacent to my parents’ house. After all, they live in St. Andrews.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Scotland 1, England Didnae

What a week; what an absolutely incredible week (as Gregory would say) to be a Scotland football supporter. We won a game! Away from home! Against a no bad Norwegian side from Norway. And England got beat in Northern Ireland.

So while the going is good (i.e. till the next game in October) can I just say to my (half Scottish) cousins down south… if you’re feeling like the little boy in the joke below, click on these proud navy blue words that are underlined to tap into your lost national heritage. And any time you want to come back over from the Dark Side, you’ll be welcomed with open arms and a big (Glasgow?) kiss. Just don’t bring that pishy cider or Carling that you call alcohol - know what I mean pal?

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Scotland 1, England -1

An English family of football supporters head out one Saturday to do their shopping. While in the sports shop the son picks up a Scotland football shirt and says to his sister, "I've decided to be a Scotland supporter and I would like this for my birthday".

His sister is outraged by this and promptly whacks him round the head and says, "Go talk to your mother". So off goes the little lad with the navy blue football shirt in hand and finds his mother.

"Yes son?"
"I've decided I'm going to be a Scotland supporter and I would like this shirt for my birthday".
The mother is outraged at this, promptly whacks him around the head and says, "Go talk to your father".

Off he goes with the football shirt in hand and finds his father.

"Yes son?"
"I've decided I'm going to be a Scotland supporter and I would like this shirt for my birthday".
The father is outraged and promptly whacks his son around the head and says, "No son of mine is ever going to be seen in THAT!"

About half an hour later they're all back in the car and heading towards home; the father turns to his son and says "Son, I hope you've learned something today?"

The son says, "Yes dad I have."

"Good son, what is it?"

The son replies, "I've only been a Scotland supporter for an hour and already I hate you English b*****ds!"

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

More Questions Of The Week

Why doesn’t Tarzan have a beard?
Why do Kamikaze pilots wear helmets?
If people evolved from apes, why are there still apes?
If it’s true that we’re here to help others, what are others doing here?
Whose idea was it to put an ‘s’ in the word lisp?

©Peter Kay

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

You Know I Can't Smile Without You

Well the votes on last week’s market research consumer survey type thing are in and I’ve spent the last three days counting them all. Thanks to all who took part and thanks also to those who thought about taking part but managed to spoil their voting paper, such was their excitement at being part of a truly democratic process.

You’ll be glad to learn that the result does not require referral to (or overturning by) the Supreme Court and by a landslide majority you’ve voted to keep my Daily Record articles here in their spiritual home. If you’ve got extra time on your hands or you’ve simply called in sick to work, you can also read it (and others) by clicking here on these red words that are underlined.

So without any further ado, here’s this week’s effort… can you tell I was struggling to hit a deadline?

Hi. My name is Neil and I (cough) used to own a Barry Manilow album. In my defence, let me just say that it was Christmas 1980 and I received the LP as a present from my then girlfriend. Although confused with the choice of gift, I smiled enthusiastically (love is blind after all) and promised to play it continuously as soon as I got home. Three days later I got a phone call telling me I was chucked*.

I should have seen it coming of course. I’d never previously expressed any desire to add Barry to my vinyl collection and the album, ironically enough, was entitled Bermuda Triangle – it really DID make people disappear.

I was reminded of this sorrowful little tale last week when I literally stumbled across a book that was lying around the house waiting to be tidied away. Doubly ironic this time because not only was the book called “Household Management For Men”, it too had been a gift from a former partner who was clearly trying to tell me something.

Resisting the urge to throw the offending publication on top of a pile of clothes that have been waiting a month to be ironed, I decided to give it the once over to see if it could teach me anything new. And what a fascinating read it turned out to be.

I knew immediately I was on shaky ground when I took the initial “do you know it all already” multiple choice quiz.

“How often should you clean the bath?” asked question 1.
“Surely it gets cleaned every time I have a bath,” I pondered as I ticked the “didn’t know you had to” option.

“How often should you launder the bed linen?” continued question 2.
“Oh that’s an easy one,” I sniggered as I ticked the option that read “whenever I have a ‘sleepover’”. Incredibly, the correct answer was once a fortnight.

“Why should you remove dust regularly from surfaces?”
“Because it spoils the view on the television screen.” Obviously.

After failing the quiz spectacularly, I moved on to the introduction which warned, “Mess attracts mess. Three lonely and unwashed plates will quickly be joined by three potential mates. They reproduce and soon you have a little family of unwashed dishes. But what if a potential romantic interest pops round unannounced?”

“Well,” I snorted. “If that ever happens, the first room they visit will NOT be on the ground floor.

The book’s chapters were organised logically, each one covering the requirements for a different room in the house. Particularly helpful was the “yes/no” flow chart designed for men who are not sure what room it is they’re occupying.

“Is there a bath in the room?” asked the book in an increasingly sarcastic tone. “If yes, go to chapter 2, ‘The Bathroom’.”

Here I discovered how to properly unblock a toilet (a skill I can well imagine using in the future) and also how to clean mirrors with a solution of water and vinegar. “Once polished, admire your reflection,” encouraged the book. No problem, I think can handle that one.

The book was full of little hints about which household management chores should be done daily, weekly, monthly etc. and these were summarised perfectly in a handy, detachable chore chart. Disappointingly, the book’s editors had failed to correct an obvious printing error as “buy food” (weekly) and “personal hygiene” (daily) had clearly been placed in each other’s columns.

That aside, the book was excellent and I look forward to bringing you more riveting insights when I finish the last five chapters. Tune in next week gents when we’ll talk about how to carve a chicken (who knew you needed cutlery to eat chicken?) and we’ll discuss laundry labels made easy.

*Chuck v.
1. To throw or fling in a haphazard manner.
2. Scottish colloquialism for ending a relationship, often carried out in a haphazard manner, e.g. “My pal’s just telt me to tell ye that yir chucked!”

Sunday, September 04, 2005

And On A Lighter Note... Hallelujah Brother!

Someone sent me this ecclesiastical joke recently and it made me snort tea down my nostrils so I thought it appropriate to resurrect, so to speak, on a Sunday.

The parish priest went on a fishing trip. On the last day of his trip he hooked a monster fish and proceeded to reel it in. The guide, holding a net, yelled, "Father, look at the size of that Son of a Bitch!"
"Son, I'm a priest. Your language is uncalled for!"
"No, Father, that's what kind of fish it is-a Son of a Bitch fish!"
"Really? Well then, help me land this Son of a Bitch!"

Elated, the priest headed home to the rectory. While unloading his gear and his prize catch, Sister Mary inquired about his trip. "Take a look at this big Son of a Bitch I caught!"
Sister Mary gasped and clutched her rosary, "Father!"
"It's OK, Sister. That's what kind of fish it is-a Son of a Bitch fish!"
"Oh, well then, what are you going to do with that big Son of a Bitch?"
"Why, eat it of course. The guide said nothing compares to the taste of a Son of a Bitch."

Sister Mary informed the priest that the new Bishop was scheduled to visit in a few days and that they should fix the Son of a Bitch for his dinner.
"I'll even clean the Son of a Bitch", she said. As she was cleaning the huge fish, the Friar walked in. "What are you doing Sister?"
"Father wants me to clean this big Son of a Bitch for the new Bishops' dinner."
"Sister! I'll clean it if you're so upset! Please watch your language!"
"No, no, no, it's called a Son of a Bitch fish."
"Really? Well, in that case, I'll fix up a great meal to go with it, and that Son of a Bitch can be the main course! Let me know when you've finished cleaning that Son of a Bitch."

On the night of the new Bishop's visit, everything was perfect. The Friar had prepared an excellent meal. The wine was fine, and the fish was excellent. The new Bishop said, "This is great fish, where did you get it?"
"I caught that Son of a Bitch!" proclaimed the proud priest. The Bishop's eyes opened wide, but he said nothing.
"And I cleaned the Son of a Bitch!" exclaimed the Sister, as the Bishop's eyes widened even more. The Bishop sat silent in disbelief.
The Friar added, "And I prepared the Son of a Bitch, using a special recipe!
The new Bishop looked around at each of them. Slowly a big smile crept across his face as he said, "You fuckers are my kind of people!"

Friday, September 02, 2005

What The F...?

There are some things you should probably never do drunk. Texting ex partners with garbled words of undying devotion is probably one. Agreeing with your pal’s encouraging noises to climb into a field full of farm animals is probably another. Blogging when you can’t coherent a sentence type is a definite no-no but what the hell. It’s late on a Friday, I’ve staggered home from the pub after a busy working week and frankly, I don’t give a flying fuck so tell me this… what the hell is going on New Orleans???

How the hell can people die when they know a hurricane is heading their way?

How can a President drop in the words “worse than 9/11” in a rare television interview when talking about a “natural” disaster? (I might have missed it but I’m pretty sure he was keen to avoid using the phrase “act of God” in case the majority of his voters shifted even further to the right.)

Please, PLEASE tell me you’re not so insular a country that you haven’t heard of a place called Florida where hurricanes have been known to cause an incident or two in the past? I’m thousands of miles away and even I know they had four big hits last year.

I ask you again. What the FUCK were you doing in a city (a city that sits BELOW sea level and is surrounded by flood barriers) waiting for a hurricane to come? What were the authorities doing to alert you?

All of this escapes me. I’m at a loss for words. You have a Weather Channel. You have News Channels. I know for a fact that as a nation you like watching television. If you had an Al Qaeda Channel and for three or four days beforehand you could track the progress of a hijacked plane heading to your neighbourhood, would you stay in that neighbourhood? I’m sorry but I just don’t get it. It doesn’t compute.

I loved my visit to N’awlins last year. Granted, I stayed in the touristy bits most of the time but nevertheless, it was a very memorable three days or so. As I said, I’m a bit too drunk to rationalise any sensible thoughts about it but perhaps that’s because it makes no sense at all to me. If I’m missing anything obvious please let me know.

Night (hic) Night!