Saturday, March 29, 2008

From time to time I get the urge to add definitions to The Undictionary like :

Tortellini: n. Small Italian lawyers.

But then I go lay down for a bit and the temptation passes.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Sorry, but this one got a bit big, get out a telescope, click on it to see a bigger version, or download this handy dandy PDF of it:

...and I just went and put that in the wrong blog... Bum!
Lights! Camera! Cut! Paste!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

I won something! A couple of weeks ago I put together a poster for some tedious medical adminny thing of Merriol's. Today it came back from the conference it went to, having won first (possibly only) prize. First. Out of all the other posters and presentations put up from all over Scotland. As normal I had stuck in a load of jokes and, as it turned out, it was the only poster that had gone for the funny angle*. My prize? - a bottle of finest NHS Australian fizzy wine.

I don't drink.

Merriol is off work for a week. The kids are off for two. It's Easter. Hurray. Holidays! Merriol and I now get to play the great game Bed Chicken for a whole week. Bed Chicken is like regular Chicken in that it is a game of dare and bluff but, unlike the real thing, it doesn't involve souped-up motorcars, death, or Natalie Wood.

The way it is played goes like this:

Morning: the sun is up, and so are the kids. The birds are singing in the trees, and the girls are playing Pulling the Heads Off Each Other's Barbie Dolls.
Merriol and I lay in bed for as long as possible pretending to be asleep whilst willing the other to get out of bed first and deal with the increasingly noisy noises of destruction and mayhem coming from the kids' room.
The loser is the one who breaks, throws back the bed covers, and rushes, semi-naked, into the next room screaming:
"Will you two just bloody STOP it!".
The winner earns about fifteen seconds of guilt-ridden solitude before slowly climbing out to join in the melee, or make breakfast, whichever looks the safer.

Another of the Great Mysteries of Life

I am congenitally unable to pass a skip full of rubbish or heap of garbage without taking a look. After all you never know what you will find - actually that's a lie, you know exactly what you are going to find: a pile of garbage, but sometimes amid all that garbage you find interesting, useful, or floggable things. Dropping off one of the neighbour's kids at his house after a party the other day I noticed a skip in their driveway - by the time neighbour Mum had her darling son out of my passenger seat - I had the folding metal toolbox I found in it in the back of the car. The rest of it was just a pile of garbage.

Old tool boxes are great.


I have found many of these tool boxes in the hundreds of skips I have raked through in my life. Quite often they are rusted solid after having been left neglected for many years under a bench in a damp shed but they are never empty. In everyone of them (after a liberal application of WD40 and a few well placed whacks with a hammer) I have found all sorts of weird and wonderful things - quite often things I had been desperate for the week before I find them lying
around for free - after I had been forced to go out buy some - C'est la guerre. But in every one - every single sodding one of them - I have found a golf tee.

Why? No idea. I can't think of any reason why there should be a golf tee in a toolbox amongst all the rusty nuts, screws, nails etc.
I have been making things, fixing things, bodging things (sometimes for money), for decades now and never have I thought: "I know what I really need to do this job - I need a red plastic golf tee..." Never. Maybe they USED to be useful - but no longer are. I don't know. It worries me that I may be missing something very very obvious. If you know, please tell me.

* 37 degrees.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

There is is this bullshit idea out there in the world that women achieve more because they can 'Multi-task'. A statement which, whenever I encounter it, usually elicits from me the reply that men don't 'Multi-task' because we don't have to - we're organised; we finish things.

Today I found myself multi-tasking.

We have a little electric geyser thing in our kitchen. It's ancient, the sort of design any wanky interior decorating porn magazine would call "retro" - but it's too shabby to be retro, it's just ugly. But it works; it's not a design feature, or a statement, it's that unconsidered thing that sits on our kitchen wall and dispenses hot water when you turn the tap on the bottom - if you have remembered to turn it on twenty minutes beforehand - just like it has done for the sixteen years I've been living here and, for all I know, for a couple of decades before that. For a couple of weeks now it's been dripping water from the bottom. Not a disaster as it's over the sink but it was annoying. Holly went back to school this morning after having been off for a week with the generic P1 lurgi and today was first chance I had to tackle fixing anything. I got Daisy off to school in the afternoon, set to, and started unscrewing things...

It's a bit like this but much uglier.

Isn't British design wonderful?

I know bugger all about plumbing and even less about electrics and so I have a healthy fear of both. But if I was designing a piece of kit that did involve both, and was to be used anywhere where gravity might be a consideration, I think I might have the wit to make sure that the place most likely to leak water wasn't right over the little junction box where the wires are all screwed in. Opening up the casing and watching water dripping off the live wire onto my nice stainless steel sink was an alarming start. This thing is insane. Water and electric come in (and out) at the bottom. There's no way any leak isn't going to fall onto electrics. My healthy fear being what it was, I had remembered to turn the thing off, remove the fuse, and write myself a note not to switch it on again before I started.
As it turned out, what I hoped was a 'take the plate off, tighten a nut, put the plate back on again' job ended up with me having more plumbing tools than I remember owning scattered around the kitchen and the whole geyser in bits in all the spaces between.

Then my phone went 'weebleweeebleweeble'.

Which meant it was time to go pick up the kids - and drive them to The Fort for their six-monthly, thirty-five second session with the dentist - and back again. We got to The Fort early and on the way to the dentists we dived into a charity shop which I knew had a huge pile of kids videos they were selling for pennies. I let them select one each to watch when they got home: "IF THEY WERE GOOD!" (the fact that they would get to watch them as soon as we got home just to keep them out of my hair for half an hour, even if they bit the nurse and set fire to the dentist, wasn't something I was going to tell them*).
An hour later as the kids crashed around upstairs destroying things while following the on-screen antics of the Barbie Dancercise Workout Video Holly had chosen (it had seemed like such a good idea at the time) I cooked a meal while simultaneously re-assembling the geyser and loading the dishwasher. The geyser worked and the food wasn't that horrible. To my eternal shame I had multi-tasked.

All of which is not disguising the fact that, during a diligent tidying up of the office the other day, I seem to have put away somewhere the notebook with all the gags I had worked up for a 10 minute play/thing I said I would write for Ilona and haven't. Yet. Another thing I haven't finished. I'll get round to it soon - and service a chainsaw at the same time.

*Dear, Future Holly and Future Daisy dudes - we lied. A lot.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

I had a moment of clarity tonight about my bad movie habit. I suspect, in part, it is because like everyone else who loves movies to bits, I am secretly in my heart of hearts a wanabee film maker, a film maker manqué. Every time I watch a film a part of me is so jealous of everyone who was involved in making it. Even if it is a total stinker I find the whole process of making a movie so fascinating that I would have loved to have been there, been involved somehow. I love movies. I really do and, my short and not very brilliant career in Hollywood aside, I have come to realise I will never be involved in any shape or form in creating any meaningful contribution to the world's collective filmic experience*. Furthmore, if I ever did suddenly find myself in possession of a several sesquillion dollars and indulged my heartfelt fantasy of directing a movie - there is this deep deep fear that I will end up producing something so irredeemably, stenchingly godawful that I will go down in the history books of crap - along with the gods like Ed Wood Jr., Ray Dennis Steckler, Edward G Ulmer, W. Lee Wilder, and all the rest of the pantheon of demented underachievers who so fascinate me.

Part of me is sitting there laughing at the ineptitude and frustrated ambition on display, part of me, I now realise, is peeking from behind my internal sofa at the horror that might have been if I had actually ever been given / taken / made the chance to put my 'vision' (not that I ever had one) on the screen. Cheap, back of an envelope psychology I know, but if we are all truly fascinated by what we fear most then my deepest fear must be that I will turn into a bad film director. And I thought it was swimming pools - you live and learn.

*the film rights to this blog ARE still available...

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

I haven't blogged for ages. I know. My fault, but to tell you truth - and why would I lie to you?* nothing blogworthy has really happened recently. It rains, the sun comes out for five minutes and it rains again. Sometimes horizontally. Usually when it's time to take the kids to school. I tell them it's character building. They tell me it's horrible. I agree with them.

I cook. I clean. The kids eat, and make a mess. I watch a brain-dead movie and go to bed and read brain-dead SF books. Sometimes I watch the book and read the movie - but it's not as much fun.

Tonight I bashed off four cartoons to illustrate a poster / presentation the surgery has to give at some high-powered meeting somewhere detailing the benefits and implementation of waiting time reduction techniques, showing measurable outcomes and blah blah blah blahdy - yawn - blah.

They have known about this for six weeks down at the surgery and sod all had been done with it till Merriol dragged it off the desk of whoever was supposed to be dealing with it and bought it home and tried to explain it to me. She failed, but I did some doodles of rabbits wearing stethoscopes which seemed to amuse her (though it might have been hysteria) and I have trying to make sense of the notes I made to myself and work out some way of making what is essentially a stupendously dull management / admin paper-shuffling exercise fun.

I have till Thursday.

*apart for comic effect?

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