This morning at the train station I saw a young guy with a tattoo on his forearm that read “Live Free”.
He was also on his way to work.
Some people make this too easy.
There was confusion in Starbucks this morning. The woman who was calling out the finished beverages at the collection area had the loosest grasp of English.
“Vebbi capparan cheeno fomackle?”
There was no response. Instead we were all looking at each other baffled as this small woman held up a large paper cup full of mystery.
“Vebbi capparan cheeno fomackle?”
Still nothing from us. It didn’t help that we were all in need of coffee, which may or may not have been ready.
The small woman looked at the name scrawled on the cup and carefully shouted, “Mackle?”
The man next to me said “Michael?”
“Yes, dis is faryoo”.
“Is that a cappuccino?” he enquired.
“Yes, vebbi capparan cheeno”.
And as Michael picked up his not-so-hot-anymore cup of coffee and left, I realised that ‘Vebbi capparan cheeno fomackle’ meant ‘Venti cappuccino for Michael’.
It didn’t stop there.
“Gradday hansel nub skinnle latty foserra?” (Grande hazelnut skinny latte for Sarah)
“Smor mericano wiz is press shotten exta hor mik fomerry?” (Small Americano with an espresso shot and extra hot milk for Mary)
“Lar feeter coff foffipp?” (Large filter coffee for Phillip)
Actually, this was the easiest one to understand. After all, it was tea. It didn’t matter what words she murdered after saying ‘tea’, the owner (Madeline) knew it was for her.
There is always one who goes to an American coffee chain in England to have tea; the most English of hot drinks.
“Wozdee wul kuh mintoo?”
Occasionally something really grits my shit, but it’s such a small thing that I just deal with it and get on with life.
Well, I can take it no more.
Why create headphones that make it virtually impossible to distinguish left from right?
Every day I struggle to see which is which.
I look like an idiot, squinting like I’m having a difficult and painful shit; holding them at just the right angle in the light to make out the letters vaguely embossed at the depth of an atom.
How hard would this be to do?
You took the time to colour them purple, you bastards.
I’ve decided to start posting anything I see that defies common sense and logic.
There may only ever be a ‘Part 1’, but I seriously doubt it.
If truth be told, i’m a bit annoyed I didn’t think of doing this sooner because there are literally millions of examples of stupid out there that I’ve simply rolled my eyes at and done nothing with.
So here is the first (of many) that I saw on a candle in a supermarket yesterday.
I rest my case.
Whilst sat having lunch with my wife, we were overpowered by the loud plum voiced conversation being had at the next table.
It quickly became clear this ‘man’ (I use that term loosely) and woman worked in the film industry due to the number of names being dropped per second.
Seriously, there were more drops than a Dubstep album. They were almost trying to outdo each other over who has sucked more celebrity cock.
Then, during the mindless drivel and overenthusiastic nodding, the ‘man’ said something about his child.
I’m sorry, his what?
How did that happen?
Anyway, this prompted my favourite part of the conversation and the reason for today’s post.
“I’ve got a photo of him here”, he said pulling out a pink sequined purse* and producing a crumpled up photograph, “He’s 17 months, but he looks 22”
*not strictly true. It was lilac**
**also not true
On Sunday I decided to bite the bullet and buy a strimmer to tackle the garden again. It had been over a year since I’d last done it, and last week I swear I saw a man in a loincloth swing past on a vine.
For those who don’t know what a strimmer looks like, it’s one of these.
In fact, this is the exact model I bought.
I got it home, assembled it and ventured into the garden to kick Mother Nature in the vagina.
‘This is going to be fun’ I thought to myself as I pulled the trigger and the 350 watt engine roared into life. I felt manly and primal as I revved the engine in a threatening manner. The greenery in front of me was about to feel nylon death.
After 30 seconds of sheer and utter joyful destruction, the strimmer stopped cutting. I switched it off, checked underneath and saw that the spool of nylon cord had snapped.
Actually, if it had simply snapped I could’ve pressed the ‘manual feed’ button and pulled more thread through the holes, but this had snapped completely and gone inside the spool. The feeling was similar to noticing the cord on your joggers (sweat pants) had retracted inside the holes.
No problem; I’ll just open up the spool and manually feed it through. I soon discovered that threading the small red nylon cord through tiny aluminium holes in the ‘feeder’ was like trying to perform keyhole surgery with your elbows.
(not actual photo, but close enough)
After 3 or 4 minutes of silent rage and suppressed expletives I was back in business.
Tearing through the flora again made me feel alive; alive I tell you! I shredded through the overgrowth like an 80’s action hero with an Uzi.
It was short lived, however. Another 20 seconds and the same thing happened again.
I could see where this was going.
This time the nylon cord had not only snapped and retracted into the spool, but it had melted slightly and fused itself to both the spool and the coiled up nylon cord inside.
A further 5 or 6 minutes of keyhole surgery, and some less silent rage and expletives, and I was up and running again.
Feel nylon death you bastard garden!
Another 15 seconds and it happened again. This time I had to prise the melted cord away from the spool with a screwdriver.
This went on for a while. In fact, on the 8th time of doing this the nylon cord decided to unspool itself fully right before my eyes.
The strimmer now looks like this.
In its 20 minute working life it had one function.
Time to call a gardener.
One of the guys at work just proudly showed me his new big coffee mug.
It’s a monster.
The word ‘Phat’ was actually used, even now in the year 2014.
“If we were to ‘cheers’ right now” he said, holding up his mug to clink it against mine, “I would knock you through that wall and into the office behind you”
Here’s a little story…
A man walks into a busy restaurant on a Friday night and requests a table for himself and his wife who isn’t with him. He is shown to a table and handed a couple of menus. Before the waitress can ask what he’d like to drink, he asks “Is there anything you can do with these prices?”
The waitress looks at him a little confused; “I’m sorry sir?”
He points to the menu in his hand, “These prices, they’re a bit more than I wanted to pay. Can you do anything with them?”
“But these are the prices of our food sir”, the waitress replies, a little taken aback.
“It’s just that I didn’t want to pay more than £20 per person and I’ve seen cheaper prices at other restaurants. Can you do anything?”
“What do you mean sir?”
“I just want to know what your best possible price is”, persists the man.
“I’m sorry sir, but we can’t reduce the prices; these are our prices.”
The man pauses for a moment before continuing, “Ok, it’s just that I’ve had the price of £20 per person at another restaurant and if you can beat their price then my wife and I will eat here.”
The waitress, who relies heavily on tips, starts to get anxious because she has a lot of other tables to wait on and a very long queue of customers outside waiting to get in.
“What other restaurants have you had these prices with sir?” she asks, not that it matters.
“I’d rather not say” says the man, defensively.
“We would need to see a copy of their menus to make sure the dishes they’re offering are like for like.”
“They are” the man insists, “but I’d rather eat with you, so if there’s anything you can do on the price we’d seriously look at eating here”.
The waitress thinks about it for a second. “If you don’t have dessert after your meal it will reduce the price to £19 per person, how about that?” she asks.
The man thinks about it for a minute before he replies “No, we want to have dessert at the end of our meal. What if my wife and I choose not to have one of the sides, like chips or coleslaw; will that bring the price down any further?”
“I’m afraid not sir, they come as part of the meal”, replies the waitress, “but let me speak to my manager and see what we can do. Are you ok to wait for a couple of minutes?”
The man nods and she promptly disappears into the kitchen.
After a few minutes she returns, “I can offer to discount your meal by 10% if you eat with us right now”, she says triumphantly.
The man pauses again, “Ok, let me think about it. If I take your name I’ll go and speak to my wife and we’ll come back to you later on.”
The waitress, not wanting to lose a tipping customer, says “We are very busy tonight and this is the last table we have free. I can’t guarantee this table will be available later when you come back. Why don’t you give her a call now?”
“I can’t”, says the man, “she’s driving”.
“Ok”, replies the waitress “Tell you what; I’ll hold the table for you”
The waitress suddenly seems oblivious to the ever growing queue of hungry tipping diners eager to get a table.
The man smiles, “Thanks, I really appreciate that. If we decide to eat here we’ll come back later”
“Great” replies the waitress, “My name is Darcy. I look forward to seeing you later”
The man leaves the restaurant unfed.
This seems a bit unlikely, right?
Yet somehow it seems to be completely acceptable to do this when buying other things like cars, houses and heroin…HOLIDAYS, I meant holidays.
I work in travel and believe me; customers try this on all the time.
What they’re essentially saying to the sales agent is “I don’t believe you. I think you’re trying to rob me with overly inflated prices. You sound nice but we all know, deep down, you’re a thieving bastard; give me more free shit now!”
We wouldn’t do this when buying clothing, or getting a haircut, or at the supermarket checkout, or with a pimp.
I would love the waitress to say something like: “If you’ve had such a great price elsewhere, then please feel free to fuck completely off to some shitpit and do that. Clearly there’s something about the other restaurant that’s stopping you because you’re sat here, in front of me, giving me shit about our prices.
“So no, you can’t have a discount. This is the price of our food; deal with it.
“Look at the queue at the door.
“Check out the lack of empty tables.
“If you want to eat here and find out what good food is really all about, pay the price we’ve printed on the menu and shut the fuck up.
“Now, what would you like to drink, sir?”
It doesn’t work in the travel industry.
Last weekend my wife and I took a trip to Paris. To many it is an opportunity to visit landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and the Louvre, but for us it was all about visiting Jim Morrison’s grave as my wife is a massive fan of The Doors.
As a city, I’ve never really been a big fan of Paris. Years ago I worked for Eurostar which meant I had been to Paris a lot and the more exposure I had, the worse it got; a lot like toxic radiation.
Aside from the smelly sewers, unruly traffic, overpriced dining and poorly signposted Metro system; my main gripe with Paris is the people.
It’s no secret that the French and the English aren’t particularly fond of each other, but I’m not referring to the French in general; just the Parisians. They can be summed up in words like Contemptuous, Unfriendly, Nasty, Terrible and Smug.
I’m sure I’ll think of an easy to remember acronym but one escapes me right now.
Let me tell you why I’m not particularly keen on these people.
Firstly, not a single one of them looks like this.
That in itself just goes to show their lack of respect for tradition.
Secondly, the attitude they have towards anyone who isn’t French is abysmal, particularly if you’ve ever attempted to dine in Paris; it’s an experience that soon becomes a chore.
Forget a cute little café owned by a friendly fat Frenchman called Gustav; Paris is monopolised by McDonalds, Quick (France’s answer to McDonalds, even though the question was never asked), kebab shops, grills and bistros.
Lots and lots of fucking bloody bistros.
I think the word ‘Bistro’ means ‘to add 80% to the price’
Jacques – “François, ow can we put ze prices of our mediocre food up wizout upsetting all ze people?”
François – “Oh Jacques, zis is eezy peezy, just put ze word ‘Bistro’ on ze sign.
Jacques – “Oh François you are ze clever boy, no?”
Here is a dining experience my wife and I had on Sunday.
It was a summer’s day in Paris, so naturally it was freezing cold and pissing with rain. My wife and I had decided to give up walking to Notre Dame and instead looked for somewhere to eat.
Eventually, amongst all the bistros, we found (oh look) another fucking bistro.
We walked in and were greeted by a smiling waiter, “Bonjour Monsieur”.
I replied with “Bonjour”.
His smile quickly dropped at the sound of my accent and he curtly replied, “Table for two? Zis way please” with less enthusiasm than he started with.
He sat us down at the smallest table in existence, thrust menus at us and walked away.
After literally (and I mean literally) ten seconds he returned; “What would you like Monsieur?”
Holy shit, I hadn’t even found the drinks section of the menu yet!
I flipped through the menu frantically and then scanned the drinks in a panic, choosing the first beer I recognised. It was 9 Euros for a pint. Nine Euros! My wife ordered the cheapest red wine at 13 Euros for a glass.
Just a glass, NOT a bottle.
He wrote down the order, snatched away our menus and disappeared.
After thirty seconds he returned with our drinks on a tray and the bill which he placed face down on the table. This was because he preferred us to look at it after he was gone so he didn’t have to deal with “Twenty two fucking Euros for two drinks??”
I asked, “We’d like to order some food please” which was met with a scowl that said, ‘why didn’t you order ze food with your drinks you stupid Eeenglish?’ followed by a very audible sigh.
I really felt sorry for this guy, having to go the whole 6 or 7 metres back to the entrance of the restaurant to retrieve our menus.
He ‘gently’ handed our menus back to us, rolled his eyes and disappeared for approximately eight seconds before returning with “What would you like Monsieur?”; standing right over us while we perused the menu at a pace he was clearly not happy with.
The word ‘Waiter’ suddenly made a lot more sense.
My wife indicated she wanted me to order for us so I asked for the Caesar salad in my best attempted broken French and pointed to the ‘Vienna’ club sandwich for myself.
I assumed he understood.
He nodded a bit.
Then, as he took the menus away for the second time, I said “Merci”. This cheeky bastard – who resembled a shaved giraffe with bad hair – let out a small chuckle under his breath; his stupid French breath.
He then picked up our drinks bill, still face down, and disappeared again.
As we sat there sipping our life savings away and chatting, we admiring the view of the Seine river through the heavy traffic, beggars and tourists.
Ah, Paris; The city of romance and love.
Eventually the waiter returned with my wife’s salad and a ‘Vienna’ pizza.
A whole pizza.
A whole pizza that I hadn’t ordered and yet cost twice that of the 10 Euro sandwich I’d actually asked for.
Did I dispute this?
Did I fuck.
I wasn’t even going to attempt to take on this guy. Besides, the pizza did look good.
“Thank you” I said, in English this time as he placed the original drinks bill face down on the table with the food bill now stapled to it. I noticed he had crudely scrawled the total on the back in red pen, or blood.
Either way it looked angry. The paper was slightly torn along the ink lines.
(I have to say at this point that the food was very good).
(I also have to say at this point that, at those prices, a shit sandwich would have been very good).
Whilst we were eating I noticed our waiter walking back and forth behind us like a big cat stalking its prey. It soon becomes evident he was checking to see if we’d paid yet.
Hold your horses Pierre, we hadn’t even finished eating yet!
Furthermore, what if we’d want to order more drinks? I fear the stapler would have to come out again.
Eventually we finished eating and the waiter leapt like a…like a….hmm, I want to say ‘frog’ but I’m pushing my luck with this post as it is.
He leapt like a….like a toad. Yes, like a toad; clearing our plates before we’d even finished chewing.
I picked up the only thing he’d coincidentally left on the table (other than our overpriced drinks) which was the two page bill.
The total came to 53.90 Euros.
Jesus. We’d only ‘popped in’ for a light lunch.
Aside from feeling like we were being mugged slowly and in comfort, this created a dilemma; I only had notes. No coins.
I could either pay 55 Euros and come across as a cheapskate, or pay 60 Euros and then risk not getting change. I’m not a light tipper, but I will be damned if this pompous prick was getting over 6 Euros for his ‘service’. Also, in all honesty, I was a bit scared to ask him for change.
So I bit the bullet and went with the 60 Euro option.
The moment the notes touched the surface of the table at a microscopic level our toad was there, scooping up his loot, er, I mean the payment for lunch with a smug “Merci Monsieur”.
He disappeared for about four and a half seconds before returning to give us our change.
‘This will be interesting’, I thought.
He fumbled around in his pockets for a bit, jangling change and eventually dug out his wallet. He opened it, peered inside, tutted loudly and then went back to rummaging around in his pockets.
After an eternity he pulled out a small selection of coins.
“Ok, zere is one…two….”
This performance of a poor and desolate waiter was worthy of an Academy Award as he picked through the pathetic collection of small coins held in his hand.
Any minute now I expected him to drag his elderly sick mother from the back of the restaurant or a homeless beggar from the street to help him pay the evil fat cat English pigs that were extorting money from him.
It was like watching a charity appeal advert on TV.
“Every day a poor Parisian waiter has to give change to tourists following an overpriced meal with underwhelming service. Please call or text to donate 5 Euros a month so we can provide these [insert acronym here] with the simple things in life like striped shirts, berets, bicycles and bad manners”.
Once he began crying I folded and waived him away.
“Keep the change”
“Oh Merci Monsieur!”
Yes, Mercy indeed mate. Be thankful I resisted my urge to slap you, you pompously arrogant twat.
We finished drinking up next month’s mortgage payment and left. By the time we got outside and walked past the window we had been sat by, another Eeenglish couple were already sat in our seats having a drink, holding the bill in their hands and sobbing gently.
This morning I was looking forward to watching something on my phone. As a result I carefully selected a seat on the train that was perfectly shielded from the remarkably low, and spectacularly bright, bastard sun.
As the train departed I smugly looked around at everyone else who hadn’t prepared themselves.
Whereas I was feeling great.
However, at the next stop, some bint wielding an iPad sat across the aisle and successfully bounced a laser beam of sunlight right in my eyes like an ant under a microscope.
On the upside, I got a bit of a tan.
We Brits hate our weather.
Let’s be honest, it’s a constant battle to try and second guess what clothes would be best to wear for the day.
“But it’s supposed to be nice later”, you’ve said whilst looking out of the window in your pyjamas at the thunderstorm destroying half of your garden.
The warmth of your house feels so lovely compared to the cold touch of the glass, and the fact that half of the neighbourhood’s kids have just flown past your window (being chased by frantic parents) only reinforces the belief that maybe, just maybe, the weathermen are wrong.
Yet, by 2pm, it is glorious sunshine and the massive chunky knit jumper you’re wearing suddenly seems like a bad idea. You’re slowly shrivelling to a sweaty little raisin under the sheer depth of insulation you stupidly decided to don. Luckily you didn’t wear anything underneath so there’s no chance of beating the heat by shedding a layer without the possibility of getting arrested.
This is why we Brits talk about the weather, a lot. It is unpredictable and ever changing, so of course it becomes the focal point of most conversations.
We hate it. We long for consistency in our weather; preferably involving a lot of sun, plenty of sand and an assortment of brightly coloured fruity beverages with umbrellas in them.
The irony of the umbrellas is often lost on us.
It is because of all these things that we love to travel. We love to go to faraway places and do nothing but eat, drink, shop and tan. In fact, the quality of our holiday is often judged on just how dark we can go.
Also, the colour of choice is brown; the darker the brown, the more awesome the holiday. Dark pink, on the other hand, is as welcomed as it is on a chicken leg at a barbeque. Burning and peeling is deemed a sign of a bad holiday and, by the laws of British conversational etiquette, usurps weather as the prominent topic of which to moan.
“I was so burned I had to have an ice bath”
“I can’t stop peeling. George A. Romero called me to see if I wanted a job as an extra”
So off we fly, to faraway lands and the limitless experiences that await us. We eat, we drink (and being British, we DRINK) and we meet lots of different people, cultures and customs. We also take plenty of photos and videos to ensure we keep Facebook, Twitter and Instagram on their toes; buying bigger data servers to accommodate our overwhelming need to show off
‘Point of view’ shot of your feet by the pool?
Don’t mind if I do.
You see, these holidays are a necessity for us. We manage to sleep better than we have in years and we allow the stresses of everyday life to dissipate in the bubbles of our in-room Jacuzzi. In fact, whilst having a massage in the spa, all we have to worry about is whether we’ll be having white wine or a cocktail with dinner.
Obviously it depends if we go for the Lobster or the Sirloin.
But we’ve earned it. We’ve worked hard for this. Day in, day out we’ve endured deadlines, emails, phone calls and everything in between. We’ve saved our pennies and now it’s time to cash in and treat ourselves to a little luxury. This is what life is all about, right?
We simply love our holidays.
Then, when it’s all over and we arrive back in good old Blighty, there’s an odd part of us that looks forward to going back to work. We look forward to others commenting on how brown we are in our carefully chosen white shirt.
That is unless we’re the type, guide book in hand, running around at breakneck speed to ensure we’re getting in as much culture and sights as possible.
Can’t miss a thing!
We end up spending more time inside buildings than outside them, resulting in us returning home almost the same colour as when we left.
The upside is we have a lot of photos to show you in a well prepared four hour slide presentation.
“Here’s Bob next to a tree”.
“Here’s Bob inside the cathedral”.
“Here’s Bob eating an ice cream”.
“Here’s Bob next to a tree”.
And after all is done, as we commute to work in the rain, we think about where we were this time yesterday and where we want to go to next.
Yes, we Brits hate our weather sometimes, but without it we wouldn’t have the desire to go out into the world and explore what’s on offer.
Mind you, our summers can be pretty damn good!