Next week is everyone’s favourite religious occasion… Valentine’s Day… I mean St Valentine’s Day… I am only aware of it because of the adverts and emailed special offers I am seeing and receiving. Pizza Express sent me a voucher to that on this most romantic and loving occasion I will get my lover pizza for just £2.50 if I pay full price for mine… I could turn a profit if I was truly romantic and went Dutch. Also I have seen and advert for moonpig.com offering 2 dozen roses and a personalised card for just £35… if I played my cards right I could get through this for less than £100…
Ok I confess I am not a massive fan of this occasion and it’s over crowded restaurants and over priced set menus, not because I am not romantic… in fact the opposite, I believe that the romance should be the default and not saved for a special day… also the restaurant thing really bugs me, I feel barred from going out for dinner! I was once with my uncle, a catholic priest as he tried to book a table for 6 visiting priests at his local and very regular local restaurant on the following Tuesday. This just happened to be Valentine’s day and the mutual lack of understanding between priest and restaurateur was a joy to behold… the poor host trying to explain why six chubby Irish priests in his intimate restaurant might not create the mood he was hoping for on the evening. The whole thing does not make sense to me, we have anniversaries to celebrate the love we share with our significant others, we have birthdays to celebrate ourselves and we have Christmas to over eat and buy stuff… this seems like a waste of a holiday to me. If your relationship is needing propping up by £35 moonpig.com roses then you might as well open the night and make sweet love to the night for all the good it will do. That said it is better than ordering from mooncup.com
You should fill your lives together with little moments of nice, little flourishes of romance, a nice meal for two at an intimate restaurant on a Tuesday (hopefully not jam packed with catholic priests mind), send little suggestive suggestions* by email of text, turn off the telly and jump your partners bones instead of getting mad at Eastenders, go for a walk on a cold day and find a pub with an open fire, write bad poetry… actually you can borrow this poem ( you might have to alter it a little subject to appendage)…
I am not really allergic to girls
I am not intimidated by unfathomable curls
I am not really allergic to girls
I am not afraid and awkward as an evening unfurls
I am not really allergic to girls
I am partial to affection and romantic twirls
I am allergic to cats, dogs and feathers
I am excited by girls all done up in leathers
I am allergic to cat’s dogs and feathers
I am bound by girls free of tethers
I am allergic to cat’s dogs and feathers
I am intrigued by girls and their hidden treasures
So go home and love the one you love and ignore adverts and the badly priced set menus… BUT before you do come down and collect your expenses before 5.30 as I am off for dinner with the girl from six boats down before going to a pop concert. Have a loving weekend
*brilliant name for a band **
** terrible name for a band
I rarely watch telly these days, no telly on the boat, I watch the odd thing six boats down but mainly catch up on BBC4 music documentaries to help with hangovers and insomnia. I have however got hooked on ‘Three Good Things’… I say hooked I have watched it three of four times. For those of you who have not seen it Hugh Furniture Wittington (first rare breed organic mayor of London) cobbles together a lovely ‘supper’ out of three key ingredients (well three ingredients plus loads of expensive ingredients and a load of talent) and then has a cook off with one of his employees and a girl… it is good the food looks edible and I love a little bit of middle class smugness when I am tucking into my dinner (normally made of a couple of bad things smothered in one good thing to cover up the cracks). But it got me to thinking what else could we use this ‘Three Things’ model for…
A few years ago the pub marketing people tried to tap into this numerical simplification with signs outside of pubs with alluring simple instructions such as DINE-DRINK-DANCE or WINE-BEER-CHAT or other meaningless nonsense. I was always unsure what to do in these venues before the signs appeared back in 1999… I always thought a more honest approach would be appropriate for some establishments such as FLAT BEER-FIGHT-STD or OVERPRICED WINE-DISAPONTING FOOD-LEAVE ALONE AGAIN but maybe there was some decent business arguments for this not happening. I was thinking that it could be used for trivial things such as life itself… you could have boring combinations such as a mix of health, fun and hard work or love, peace and happiness. Using another numerical pattern famous for threes (this one is for people from Liverpool) you could have bad luck, no luck and rotten luck… or if you are a simple soul… DINE-DRINK-DANCE.
Anyways if you can get your expense forms to me by the close of play today unless you grab a dodgy story from my past from Cara and use it to blackmail me then you can have till Monday… or if you are David Ritsema and you flipped me the bird on your run into work today the deadline is yesterday.
This week I have undertaken a scholarly look at the history of the moustache and its place in the social fabric of this great nation and beyond. In the distant past the moustache was comic device much like the Fez or novelty tie. Hitler in an early attempt to be popular tried the fez and the novelty tie but settled on the moustache when things got heavy, as no man can invade a country wearing a ‘I love beer’ Homer Simpson tie.
With the exception of the late period Beatles and an artist with a fondness for melting clocks the moustache remained dormant in much of the civilised world. Outside the civilised world in places such as the north of England the moustache was still considered the key to the door of manhood… well getting served warm flat beer and impressing the girls down at the local pub or working man’s club. These pitiful patchy attempts at facial hair remained a largely unrecorded anachronism until David Beckham’s attempts at beard growing gave the movement a figurehead and role model.
In the 80’s everything changed when men in tiny shorts from Liverpool conquered Europe wearing what looked like the sweepings from a Brazilian beauty parlour’s floor on their top lips. Also in Europe political change was stirring and in a helpful and simple visual device (moustache east- no moustache west) the moustache was thrown on to our TV news like never before. The exotic and macho imagery inspired a new generation of Brits to wear moustaches… the fad was short lived and superseded by lemon chinos and deck shoes (see Ben Varley).
In the 90’s the simple moustache was paired with its brother the ‘chin beard’ and the goatee was born adding that ‘certain something’ to grunge music fans and thirty something executives. Eventually the moustache went back into hibernation. Then in a warehouse in hackney an art student wearing a top shop Ramones T-Shirt and riding a unicycle invented the ‘Hoxton’. This moustache was a return to the comic moustache and brought much joy to the hard working people of East London.
Today the moustache is seasonal and used for raising money for good causes, much like the royal family and Simon Hutley. Some people dread November as their uniqueness as all year round moustache wearers is ruined. Instead of feeling isolated from society and cool they become part of the pack… they find themselves invited for after work drinks and worse still find themselves being patted on the back in the gym changing rooms for no reason.
So in short come and get your expenses before 5.30 or you will have to wait for Monday… I am not going to give an excuse to why I am leaving on time as non of you are my mother, priest or rabbi.
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Tonight I am going out with the girl from six boats down, we are going to her friends 30th, nice people, pretty cool people and in theory I should be looking forward to tonight… BUT! I have been sent a link to the club we are meant to be going to tonight and it contains a phrase that sends a chill through my entire being… STRICT DRESS CODE click for details … the ‘details’ start off with instructions to be both stylish and sexy… certain kinds of jeans are allowed certain kinds are not… I have had to abandon that because I am unfamiliar with most of the terms they use… worse still was to come ‘Strictly No Trainers’ I own 24 pairs of ‘non specific sports related’ trainers… I own one pair of shoes… I guess this makes that decision easier… perhaps I should be grateful! Why does this bug me so much? Well the answer is Three fold… firstly it means the place is going to be expensive and the music is going to be rubbish (I have looked at pictures, it looks like the inside of Jordan’s handbag*) Secondly putting a dress code guarantees ‘smart’ people in the same way putting the word honourable in front of an member of parliament’s name guarantees that they will be *STOPS, SO AS NOT TO BITE THE HAND THAT FEED US*… Thirdly it reminds me of home and all small towns… it is so bloody provincial not bloody Soho!
I have fallen victim to dress codes before, once on a night out in Watford (don’t ask it involved a girl… probably) I was denied entry to a Wetherspoons because I was wearing trainers… A BLOODY WETHERSPOONS! I was pretty annoyed and entertained the bouncers with a brilliant sheep impression/ interpretive dance** when they explained that it was because everyone else in Watford did it. I was very nearly turned away from the ESPN executive box at Ewood Park (the home of Blackburn Rovers) for wearing jeans even though the 4 tickets I had in my hand were worth a LOT of money, my trousers made the value of the tickets invalid in the eyes of the frustrated middle aged man with a non ironic or charitable moustache … In general when in London you are fine to go anywhere dressed how the hell you like so longs as your credit card has some juice on it, I have been to some very fine places looking like a badly dressed teenager with a hobo beard. Anyway I have borrowed some trousers from a neighbour dug out my good (only) shoes and will now await the inevitable humiliation of being turned away for failing to meet the first rule they stipulated… my cobbled together look is more ‘down on his luck geography teacher’ than ‘stylish and sexy’. I might try and hide behind the girl from six boats down…
Drop your expense forms to me by the close of play please so I can process them and get them paid next Friday so you can all go to the pub or give all your money to Simon Hutley!
*This is a toned down version of my thoughts
** This failed to impress them but did impress the girl.. probably
I am back from my holiday, initially fully refreshed and now back feeling the grind, but I am now a man on a mission. One of the few pictures from my trip depicts a man cooking a delicious Italian dish with his shirt off and his little pink belly hanging over his shorts… I look like a pregnant half shaved bear! I have taken this as a wakeup call! An opportunity! A sign! It is time for me to get fit!
Problem is I don’t want to eat or drink less and have serious concerns about most kinds of exercise… Firstly I have a problem with jogging, well not jogging but joggers, obviously not the joggers here as I am sure you are all good people but the people who jog by my boat are strange, aggressive and rude… I have seen them swear at old people and kids for not getting out of their way… They have jumped on the side of my boat to get past a group of tourists, they have put super glue in the gate locks so we can’t close the mooring at night AND worst of all, they flick sweat at you as they run past and you are sat having a nice glass of wine in the sunshine AND subject me and my lovely children to some truly horrific lycra related crimes… basically I can’t be a Tow Path jogger! Yoga has been suggested but to me Yoga is little more than barely synchronised farting in terrible clothes on camping mats. Cycling in London is not for me as I take enough risks with my health
This leaves swimming and the gym… at first all looks well, there is a good deal with market sports and I really really enjoy swimming, I also actually quite like the cross trainer as it is just a faster form of the dancing I used to do at dub parties as a younger man. The problem is a recentish one and a problem born out of living on a boat. The boat has a loo that needs emptying, I have to empty the loo so basically end up dealing with stuff twice… So you work around ways of filling your loo too quickly… One very common way is a cheeky pee in the shower, a victimless crime and much better than the ill fated magic bucket plan. My problem is that this may have become an automatic reaction like the way my eyes light up at the sound of wine being uncorked or the way my eyes moisten at the sound of the theme tune to ‘Who Do You Think You Are’ and I am not sure how well this would play with the other gym and pool users… I may have to go off peak and try my luck but for now I will stick to careful beard management and well fitting polo shirts and leave the exercise to Peter Garret and David Ritsema.
Anyway please can you drop your expenses off with me by the close of play to collect next week if I am not at my desk please leave them in an untidy pile on my untidy pile increasing the chances of me loosing it…
Yesterday a found whiteboard provoked a little email conversation about the popular music groups Squeeze and The Wedding Present amongst a couple of folk by email. I am a bit of a fan of music… when I say a bit of a fan…. I mean massive music geek. I have seen both Squeeze and the Wedding Present, both those gigs stick in the memory for very different reasons.
My first gig on November 10th 1989 was The Wedding Present at King Georges Hall in Blackburn, I went along with my girlfriend Annie Blinkhorn. I was very excited, even a few digs about my Stone Roses T-Shirt did not dampen my spirits. The support band was Cud who were brilliant resplendent with a dancer in a gold lamè tracksuit (these garments are in the news a lot at the moment for terrible sordid reasons). After they finished I was happily nursing my half pint of Thwaites when Annie said ‘we need to talk’… My girlfriend dumped me between the support and main act at my first ever gig! The reason she gave was that ‘I was too immature’ I had to concede this might be true as I was fourteen.
Me and Annie have remained good friends over the years, she went on to write some pretty rude books before going into corporate and trade magazines. I managed to extract a little revenge when earlier this year I told the story on BBC 6 Music, it prompted a feature that went on for a couple of weeks and she got a fair bit of stick over it… ‘Revenge is a dish best served cold’ probably should have been on the last week email but in this case it did ring true.
I went to the Camden Crawl last year, I was in some grubby pub and there was a lot of people going upstairs, intrigued I went upstairs to find out what was going on. I took ages and I nearly fell out with several pissed up blokes with overflowing beer cups. I managed to push into the upstairs bar and I could not see the band playing… I recognised the song and asked out loud ‘why the hell is everyone up here watching a bloody covers band’ and fought my way downstairs to the bar. The song was Tempted, it transpired half an hour later when I was smoking next to an A board with the line up on ,that in fact it was not a covers band but Squeeze playing in the tiny room above the Hawley Arms. I felt a little daft but then remembered that I don’t like Squeeze that much.
For those of you who have no idea about the bands in question…Squeeze were the post punk band for the teenager who grew to be Mondeo Man* and The Wedding Present were Smiths fans second favourite band.
Anyway if any of you so wish please come and collect you expenses from me before three as there is no afterschool club today so I have to break my kids out of school early today
*Sorry Mike and Robert
I just read a little thing on the BBC website about Friday being added to the weekend, an extra day of rest, an extra day of leisure… it is a nice idea, the things you could do and the things you could finish! A weekend in Madrid without having to rush too much, no one will mind if you are in the office at 11on Monday right? If we took away the longer lunches, the online shopping and the occasional arse scratching and maybe stuck an hour on each end of the day we could get everything done… right? Trouble is… who would facilitate our leisure? Who would cater for our shopping needs and keep our golf greens clean and playable so Aaron and Brett can walk around in shocking trousers and weirdly coordinated knit wear? It just won’t work, childcare, productivity, not being able to call the French and the Spanish lazy… we are just not built for leisure… right? It breaks my heart… because I am built for leisure, I like to read I love to listen to music, I love to daytime drink*, I am a fan of watching old films…. And I am a fan of spending days with my kids, my friends and the girl from six boats down. Come on Britain you truly international group of islands let’s embrace leisure, let’s not have jobs that facilitate leisure let’s go out and find out what we can really do with our time that would not mean some poor soul on minimum wage has to stand there with a forced smile… climb a mountain, make something, learn to cook, learn to speak an exotic language, read a book that is difficult, watch a film without explosions or gratuitous nudity or a guy from the telly…. Take a boat trip… I don’t know. Weekends are not what they used to be… we are all too busy… It would be really really Great!. What’s my point… It is raining it is cold and the girl from six boats down just sent me a picture of an orange tree outside her bedroom window (she is in Israel saying hello to family) and I want to be chilling out not ranting at you poor folks about nonsense in the vague hope it will get you to bring your expenses down please by the end of the day I want to be freeeeeeeeeeee**.
*I realise that for some this is part of a ‘working’ Friday
**I don’t I just fancied a lie in today and I am a bitter bitter man