Dress for less? I doubt it…

Yesterday I had the joys of going dress shopping with my girlfriend to find something for tonight’s New Year celebrations.  To be honest, I didn’t really mind as I needed to buy a shirt for myself, or at least something smarter than a t-shirt and jeans.
Fortunately for us the entire town and surrounded villages had decided to do the same thing.  This made the experience all the more exciting and enjoyable.  Oh how we adore shopping with hundreds and hundreds of people.
There were a few things I observed whilst swimming through the crowds and punching my way through chavs, children and slow walking couples…
1. The January sales were most definitely on, with posters promising ‘Up To 70% off’, but in reality nothing seemed to be discounted more than 20%.  I know that legally these stores have to sell some items at 70% off, but I failed to find them.  Maybe I wasn’t looking in the right places, like maternity clothing or guns and ammo.
2. The sales areas seem to take up half the floor space of every clothes shop; festooned with posters and hanging boards offering massive discounts.  It’s only to be expected.  In fact, this is the reason why you couldn’t slide a credit card between people as they jostle and fight for discounted items you wouldn’t be seen dead in at regular prices.  That said, the menswear departments in these stores have a sale area as large as one rail.
Yes…ONE rail. 
In H&M the sales posters and livery stopped at the menswear section!  How is that fair?  To be honest, New Look did have two full rails of sale clothing, but there are only so many peach coloured paisley shirts and green jumpers with leather elbow patches a man can take.  And forget looking for a shirt in these stores; it’s all jumpers, jackets and t-shirts.  If you want a shirt you have go to somewhere like Burtons and buy a shirt at full price.
Which I did.
3. Finding a dress that my girlfriend liked was an undertaking as she isn’t built like a skinny 12 year old boy.  This means that 90% of dresses don’t fit.  She is in no way fat or unsightly, but instead is cursed with lovely curves and things called ‘boobs’ (which seems alien to most high street designers).  This meant that finding a dress that suited her figure was difficult.  Thankfully when she found a dress she liked it was in every size except hers.  Oh how we laughed each and every time that happened.  In fact, we were pretty much laughing all day long.
On the rare occasion we did find a dress she liked, AND it was the right size, we then ventured to the fitting rooms.  This in itself should be an easy affair, but the queues are longer than the Post Office on pension day and the location of these curtained cubicles are questionable.
You see, the fitting rooms are always located right next to the lingerie section of the store.  This means that, whilst my girlfriend is trying on her potential purchases, I’m stood amongst the bras and panties looking like some kind of dribbling pervert.  There’s nothing more awkward than having a woman say “excuse me” because I’m obscuring the intimate lingerie she’d like to look at, or getting those looks from women who clearly want to peruse the underwear  I’m sat next to.  I suppose they feel a bit self conscious about looking through the thongs and g-strings that are inches from my face.
Maybe I should’ve started thumbing through the bras, occasionally holding one up against me as if I’m buying them for myself.  Then again, I’d rather not be arrested this close to new year.
So instead I do the only thing I can do to disassociate myself from the whole debacle; pretend to be texting. 
Which leads me to my next point…
4.  It’s interesting to see what blokes do outside the fitting rooms whilst waiting for their other halves to appear wearing something they don’t want to be told their bum looks big in.  The activity of choice is play with their phones, be it Angry Birds, texting, surfing the web for Blu-rays or blogging about shopping with the missus.  A lot of us share that knowing look of camaraderie whilst stood there holding several shopping bags, a coat, scarf and a handbag; none of which belongs to us.  On one occasion I saw a guy sitting there, between the bras and the shoes, reading a Wolverine comic book.  Here’s a bloke who knows he’s there for the long haul.
5. Lastly, the in-store music.  It seems there is an agreement to play the same CD or radio station throughout every single shop in town.  No comedy comment here or smarmy quip.  Just stop it.
Stop it now.
So all in all, a long afternoon spent traipsing around hot and stuffy shops full of idiots and pushchairs.
Oh, and she didn’t buy anything; instead deciding to put something together with what she already has at home.  And then, upon returning home, remembering she’d bought a dress the week before that would be perfect.
C’est la vie.
I’m sure whatever she wears she’ll look fabulous in it.  And if she doesn’t, I’ll be too drunk tonight to care.
Have a great New Year people!!

Something dark is brewing

I’ve worked for my employer now for around 10 months, and in that time I’ve seen, and been responsible for, a lot of change.

In fact, one of my reasons for being here is to change the culture and working practices to be more customer focused.

So imagine my horror this morning when one of the customer service team slowly turned his chair to face me, looked me dead in the eyes and said, with a face of dread, that things are starting to ‘revert back to the dark ages’.

My heart sank.

The ‘dark ages’ is clearly a reference to the old management regime that caused so much grief and misery.  A regime that was responsible for tears, blood and the undercurrent of mutiny I felt when I first walked through the door almost a year ago.

But that regime ended months ago!  How could we be slipping back?  What could have possibly happened?  I’ve worked so hard to maintain a level of motivation and joy in the business and I can’t believe it’s starting to fall apart like an over-dunked custard cream.  This is disastrous!

I muster the strength and courage to ask the unaskable question; the question I feared the answer to the most in the world at this moment in time.  The only question I could ever ask….

“What do you mean?”

The world goes silent.  There’s only he and I now.  I can hear my own heartbeat and breath, which sounds to me like Darth Vader after a brisk jog.

I wait for his answer; an answer I dread to hear but I know I must hear.
An eternity passes.

He looks me deep in the eyes now, his face contorted with apprehension.  This could potentially ruin my upcoming new year celebrations.

He clears his throat and opens his mouth to speak.  Here is comes…here comes the moment of truth.

“This may need to come from you rather than anyone else Dan”, he continues, delaying the moment.

Oh no, it’s serious.  It’s so serious that I’m going to have to be the one responsible for managing the consequential impact on the entire business.

“What is it Brandon?” I ask, holding back a mix of emotions.

He opens his mouth to speak again.  He we go….

“There are coffee granules starting to reappear in the sugar”

Mental mental chicken oriental

The young Japanese couple who have just sat down opposite me on the train are starting to get on my tits, and they’ve only been sat down for 10 minutes.

Firstly, they’re talking to each other in that baby style adopted by overly sugary couples who call each other honey bunny and cuddly bear, which I now realise is annoying in every language.

Secondly, they haven’t broken eye contact at all, not once; not even to blink.

Thirdly, she keeps flicking his ear, poking his cheeks, running her fingers through his ginger hair (yes, ginger), stroking his nose and grabbing his jaw with one hand so she can use her finger and thumb to force the corners of his mouth up to form a smile.

All of this while sharing a pair of headphones.

I’ve now realised the poor guy isn’t really enjoying his half of this relationship.

Interestingly, whilst writing this, she’d grabbed his hand and was rubbing her own hand with it affectionately.

It mildly suggests YOU WILL FUCKING LOVE ME!!

He pulled away for a second to scratch his nose (I guess from all the stroking) and her tone completely changed. It went icy cold and bitter. She’s now sat there, arms folded, with a face like a smacked arse. In fact, he’s having to lean in towards her just so he keeps his end of the headphones.

Oh, hang on…I think things are ok again as she’s pinching his nose and sticking her fingers up there repeatedly. He seems to be REALLY enjoying that! He threw her a smile that, in my opinion, had tones of “get the fuck off me woman” and she snarled at him. Yes, snarled!

Now she’s playing his overturned hand like a piano, making ‘ding dong’ noises for every finger she presses like a key.

We’re now back to the baby talk and sticky out bottom lip…and plucking an unshaved hair from his chin, or is she picking a spot?  All I know is she hasn’t left his face alone since they’ve sat down.

Oh, now shes taking his photo, tugging his earlobes, pulling the corners of his eyes like a western child pretending to be oriental before their understanding of racism,  pulling his bottom lip down, sticking her fingers in his mouth (go on, bite down hard!), pulling his bottom eyelid down and pinching his cheeks…

Faaaarkin’ hell!

Now I know why samurai warriors would fall on their swords.

Naughty or nice husband?

Someone’s phone rang on the train very loudly just now and it was a terrible, terrible ringtone. The guy looked at it and let it ring and ring for ages before figuring out he should maybe divert it to voicemail, mainly because he was getting the meerkat treatment from the rest of us.

The rubbernecking bloke sat opposite me at the table turned back from meerkatting to face me once again. I stupidly made a nanosecond’s eye contact with him which was apparemtly invite enough for him to try and engage me in mutual tutting and rolling of the eyes that says ‘bloody ringtones eh?’

Sorry, I’m not getting involved. You’re on your own twatboy.

The situation was exacerbated by the woman sat next to me across the aisle whose phone then rang and she proceeded to explain to her partner which train she was on and where exactly in the journey it was.

Cue more invites from King Tut.

She then spent several minutes looking out of every window with such exaggerated intensity it looked like she was on a rollercoaster without proper restraints. I guess this was to somehow demonstrate to her partner that she was really keen to explain where she was, despite the fact he can’t see her and It’s pitch black outside so all she actually saw was her stupid face reflected in the glass, jerking all over the place like a pervert with a live chicken up their arse.

Anyway, she managed to tell him which station we were at.

At least he now knows how long he’s got before he has to kick her sister out of bed.

He he…

Too dark?

Possibly…but consider this; he rang her a further 5 times for a location update whilst I was writing this blog.

Walk on the wild(ish) side?

I’ve just been out for a lunchtime walk into London town.  This was for 2 reasons really; firstly to get some fresh air and secondly to peruse the shops for any January Sales bargains….despite the fact it’s still December.

As I trotted along the street I approached a police car sat by the kerb with its engine running.  I quickly adopted my ‘I’m not up to anything suspicious so please don’t look at me’ walk.

And don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about.  We all have one.  We usually adopt it when walking through the ‘Nothing To Declare’ customs channel at the airport.

Anyway, as I get closer to the car the bright reflection of the sky on the windscreen subsides and I can see that the car is empty.  That’s right, I’m stood next to an empty police car idling by the kerb…with no sign of a police officer anywhere.

With this in mind, can someone please explain to me the sudden and overwhelming urge I had to get in the driver’s seat and drive off?

What the hell?

I’m a pretty law abiding citizen with a modicum of common sense, so I know that the moment I get into this car the owners will come running and most likely arrest me; yet I still found it incredibly hard to just walk by! 

Moreover, as I walked away I played this scenario over and over in my head and do you know what I concluded?  If it had been a private car I wouldn’t have even considered getting in and driving off.

What is wrong with me?