Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Happiness is a worn pun

It all seems hazy and sepia-tinged like a old war documentary! Sit back and let me take you back in time through the medium of a poorly-punctuated weblog.

Friday night was a punishing night for my poor old liver. I finished work at half-five as normal, and I had to get a taxi home. I needed to eat and get ready to go out in one hour. This was going to be pushing it, and as eating was a purely beer-soaking measure it had to be a McDonalds. One Big Mac and a change of clothes later I am ready, the question was, 'is Shrewsbury ready for me?'. I got the train with Rob and we were there in no time. A walk down the riverside to meet up in the Shrewsbury Hotel followed. Its a Wetherspoons pub, with bland pints and interiors (not as striking as the chain's pubs in Stafford or Aber), but it is as inexpensive. My 60-second Big Mac was giving me a few reminders, so I took it fairly steady early doors.

When everyone had arrived (I think there was nine of us in all) we meandered like the Severn itself towards 'The Bedroom', a ghastly establishment buckling under its own sense of trendiness (if it were a Radio One DJ it'd be a cross between Jo Whiley and Dave Pearce, get me?). It was standing room only at the pokey bar at the front, and it was full upstairs where the seating (and bedding) was, and a neck-tied meathead was ensuring it was strictly one-down one-up. When I went to the toilet I had to walk through the downstairs dance-floor, which was like the second-class area, with seats arranged around the wall giving it a school disco feel (and not the oh-so-fashionable post-club culture school disco type neither). We left soon.

As the only other Shrewsbury resident, it was James' turn to pick the next drinking establishment. He had been expressing his unfavourable views on the trendy pub-clubs and their conversation-stifling music and mortgage-straining prices of weak, fizzy lager. So I was looking forward to his choice, to see the reactions of the others as much as anything. Well even I thought the Old Salopian was a bit of an eyeopener. Shit! It made the Crown look like the lounge-room of the Savoy. But the beer was alright, so I was happy. I decided to have a butcher's at the jukebox, which turned out to be the private record collection of Tommy Vance's even harder rocking brother. I did finally find a Clash track however and inserted my sweaty silvers. We left before it came on.

Rock on!

From there it was time to dance. So we headed off towards the impossibly exotic-sounding Club Med. However it seemed as if everyone was seduced by the idea of the temperate laid-back environs of southern Europe, and the queue was the length of the Greek coast-line, so it was off next door to Flares instead. Hah, now this is a good 'un, it is a seventies-themed club, complete with wigs, moustaches and a typically one-eyed view of the pop-cultures of an entire decade. Groovy baby, as I'm sure only people who got beaten-up often would have said in the aforementioned decade. My McIndigestion had finally worn off, and I must admit, I hammered the bar constantly. It got a little fuzzy after that. The next thing I remember is lying in a sleeping-bag on a sofa muttering "where am I?" at ten the next morning. I was at James' parents house it turned out. I came home on the train and slept most of the rest of the weekend.

On Monday I started my new role at work. For two weeks of every month I am working in the tax department doing accounts. I know nothing of accounts, so it is a steep learning curve (I couldn't balance one particular report by the not inconsiderable sum of 20 grand... oops!). I am quite enjoying it in a way, obviously it is quite dizzying when you've been doing the same things for three years and then suddenly its all new jobs and new clients and new skills. I suppose it is better than trying to look busy reading the sports news and waiting for 5:30 every day.

This week I have been mostly listening to: Bob Dylan, Super Furry Animals and the Manic Street Preachers.

I seemed to be coming down with a cold on Monday, and that night I was grumpy and tired and generally felt shitty. Tuesday I was a bit snotty, but I hadn't got the headache, and today I'm fine. A one-day cold, strange eh? Perhaps the alcohol in my blood means my immune system is always up for a fight.


Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Aradeg mae dal iar

As you know I updated on Saturday. I did this to the soundtrack of a street party outside that thumped, shouted and screamed from noon till ten. It was awful, I had my telly turned right up when I was trying to watch the Tri-nations rugby. I couldn't get any peace. It was a real spectacle too. All the roughest people were out there, it was like a Crimewatch Roadshow, the irony being that it was all in aid of raising funds for a neighbourhood watch scheme!

I went to the pub last night, just me, Fella and Fulla. Good yarn too, although I sank rather more than I intended to. One of the reasons for this mid-week excursion was to syphon Fulla's knowledge of a job going at his work in Shrewsbury. Quite fancy it really, I don't think it's a step up, rather a sideways step, but as anyone who grew up watching CITV's high-tech Knightmare show will know, sometimes sidesteps are the most effective steps.

Sidestep right, RIGHT. Oops! I meant left, sorry!

One of my favourite people at work is leaving tomorrow, bit sad really, but I should use it to spur me on to act about the above position. A by-product of Lauren's departure is a bender 'round Shrewsbury on Friday night. Should be a good 'un. I may have to meet Fulla at some point, he'll be in the county town and he wants me to check out his girlfriend, Sexy Sadie (who I'll be working with should I get this job). I'm not going to moan about work, because it seems thats all I ever do, I just want to say that there isn't enough work in that office for two full-time people, nevermind three. All I seem to do all day inbetween phone calls to a henpecked employee of a Wrexham factory, is try and look busy and post on BBC's cricket forum. Every day... all month. Arrrggghh!

Do you remember when I bid for half a dozen videos on eBay a few weeks ago, well I won four and was pretty happy. I was hoping they'd all arrive before I went on holiday. Well, one of them did. It was Truffaut's debut 'Les Quatre Cents Coups' (The 400 Blows). I opened it up on the Saturday morning before we left for Aber. Inside it wasn't Truffaut's first feature, inside it was Louis Malle's autobiographical 'Au Revoir les Enfants'! I finally got it sorted and received 'The 400 Blows' this morning. I've noticed that since writing this journal, simple acts involving my goods changing hands have somehow seemed more complicated than reading Virginia Woolfe while suffering from double-vision due to sleep deprivation and marijuana (ah, the old days!).

Slowly is the way to catch a chicken.

Saturday, July 19, 2003

Everybody's Happy Nowadays

Someone clever once said "a change is as good as a break", but since a break all I can think about is a change. Someone else once said "Well, you walk into the room/ Like a camel and then you frown/ You put your eyes in your pocket/ And your nose on the ground/ There ought to be a law against you comin' around/ You should be made to wear earphones", so I don't know what to think.

Anyway, on with the show, where were we? Ah yes. I'll try and do this chronologically, and in time-order aswell, if you're feeling plucky, punk.

Fri Jul 04
I spent most of the day trying to contact those wonderful people at IBM. Like oil from a tanker off the Spanish coast, time was running out. I was off to another country the following morning. Had my computer left Scotland yet? This was turning into an international drama. I was told it had, and I would hear from the courier that afternoon. Afternoon came and was on its way out, when I phoned again. Different person, different answer. It hadn't left Planet IBM® yet it. "It might be at Telford depot the following morning (Saturday) I could pick it up on my way to Aber. Probably, possibly, maybe, perhaps". Added to the missed pub-lunchtime opportunity, I was not in the best of moods. So I skated home on my bottom lip, to find sticking out of the letterbox a postcard from those lovely chaps at the courier service. They had tried to drop off my PC at 9.15 am, and could I collect it from the depot tomorrow morning! With that sorted, well in a sense, I was relieved.

It was time to drink. And that's just what I did, as we gave Dave G a send-off in Ironbridge. It must be humbling to have somewhere else to go, another place to call home. Even if it is Yorkshire.

Sat Jul 05
Saturday morning should have been a welcome moment. A time I had been envisaging all week. It was more hectic than an MDMA'd-up Wile E. Coyote (ever wondered what the 'E' stood for?). I had to pack my stuff, pick up my computer, restore everything back on it, and stave off an attention-seeking hangover. Once the road was hit, it was all better, especially after a buttie in Newtown that shut the hangover up. The caravan was a bit modern for my liking, but smart and homely. I got pissed that night on Brains SA from Safeway.

Sun Jul 06 - Tue Jul 08
Walked around town on Sunday, not a lot has changed. Still felt as if it should be home. Had a couple of pints in the new Wetherspoons on the Train Station. Very smart, though not a night-time pub I imagine. Sunday roast at Carlton too. Monday was hot, and Aberaeron looked a picture. If little had changed in Aberystwyth in two years since I was last there, time had stood still in Aberaeron. I hadn't been there for about five or six years. Can't remember what I did on Tuesday, I think it was just relaxing in the sunshine with a book and a shoulder free of weights.


Wed Jul 09
Martyn came up on the train. We waited for him in the Wetherspoons, his train was late so I was half-cut and hungry by the time he arrived. A huge lamb shank later and the world was mine for the taking. Well, the settee/bed in the living room as I drifted in and out of a sunshine and booze-fuelled kip all afternoon. Bliss.

Wednesday night was for more drinking. So we tried the bar on the caravan site. Not an experience I would recommend to anyone. As we walked in everyone stopped talking (I don't think anyone had been talking anyway, but we weren't to know) and stared. I expected some duelling banjos. It seemed as if it were full of people who had just come in to watch the TV in the bar. People were sitting next to each other, but never a word was uttered. There were about eight of these silent partnerships, all dotted around the fringes of the establishment. To add to my despair, there was no Brains on, or even any premium lager. That pint was swift. But with the taste of alcohol on our lips and a feeling of superiority in our minds there was only one thing for it. We would walk in to town, over the bridge and catch the last couple of hours in Rummers, a cosy pub by the riverside that had been a favourite of mine from student days. This we did, and me and Mart got well plastered, drinking in the trusted 'pint-double gin-pint-double gin' formation. I can't remember getting home.

Thu Jul 10
Wandered around Borth in this morning. It may not be the prettiest of seaside villages, but it has bags of character in its peeling paint and ramshackles. And I discovered the best non-alcoholic cure for a hangover: a walk along a desterted beach in the slight summer drizzle and bracing (but warm) winds. Absoultely perfect. I felt refreshed, invigourated, revitalised. I went home and went to sleep! Thursday night was the pub crawl me and our kid had been talking about for the last few months. We managed the walk up the hill and over the bridge, and down Mill Street and along Alexandra Road to the Cambrian Hotel. This place is [in]famous for its bizarre cocktails. A particular favourite being the 'Ewok', which I have tried to recreate at home many times with varying rates of success. Sitting in a half-empty Cambrian just the two of you drinking a cocktail with a straw, with not a student to be seen, made us feel... well gay! So we necked them and after the brain-freeze that half a pint of ice gives you we stepped out once more. We sauntered down North Parade and Queens Road to Scholars. It was pleasant but too warm in there, but we sank a few and lost track of time. It was half-ten. That meant only one more pub, before Rummers (we had decided to finish off there as it was open till one and was halfway home). So it was right up Eastgate to the Acadamy, which is one of the best looking pubs you will ever fall over in. Hosted inside a former Methodist church, with ornate ceilings and windows (and a huge screen showing MTV Dance, not sure if that was an original Presbyterian feature or not). Also, it was £1.50 a pint... bingo! So off we staggered towards Rummers. It was pretty busy in there, busier than the night before, and probably not wholly unassociated there was a band playing. A loud band. A loud band doing spot-on covers with show-offy guitar solos. They were great actually, especially the Jimi Hendrix covers, he couldn't hold a note in a bucket mind, but he didn't care and we didn't care he was an axe-man of the highest calibre. I mean ROCK, man, ROCK! I can't remember much after that, apart from the fact that the river was still.

Fri Jul 11
Didn't do much this day. Had a chinese and some beer and some wine. I was thinking about whether I was staying in Aber after Saturday or not. The original plan was to stay in a B&B for a few more days after Mom and Mart had gone home. I also saw a pretty girl on the site. Didn't know where she was from, she seemed to speak an Eastern European language, and she had a nice smile.

Sat Jul 12
Packed and emptied the caravan. Walked around town looking for accommodation. Couldn't find any. Went to the Varsity to think it over out of the heat. I decided to go home with the family. I had a couple of pints, and with Mart commented on every single person who walked past the goldfish-bowl like windows of the pub. Fell asleep in the car on the way home. That was it, break over. Much needed and thoroughly appreciated, and I had the next five days off work aswell.

Sun Jul 13 - Wed Jul 16
Probably the laziest few days I have ever had. The weather didn't help, it was just too hot to even think about doing anything. I did download some music (Gorky's, Dylan and Goldfrapp if yer interested) and wathced a film (Le Souffle au Coeur - one of those great French coming-of-age films where incest is never far from the surface).

Thu Jul 17
Went down the Crown for the first time since being back. Only me, our kid, Fella and Fulla. Uneventful but rewarding in its own way. Got drunk. Went home.

Fri Jul 18
Went down the Crown for the second time since being back! Got more drunk than Thursday night. I won 35 pence playing cards with Archie and Mart (who says vices don't reap rewards!). Had a chinese again. I like them now.

And there we go, fifteen days in the life of your humble host. Like a under-worked locum, thanks for your patience. Ta-ra


Thursday, July 03, 2003

Sick, Sober and Sorry

Another day over, another day closer to two weeks off. I didn't think I was going to last all day, I reckon I did a total of an hour's work (as long as I get paid for seven-and-a-half I don't care). Its hard to get motivated in these expecting days, all I have is my wit and imagination to see me through the days (I think I'm doomed then!).

I had a few bevvies last night, but I was drinking like a budgie all night. I don't see that as a responsible act, being as it was, a week night. Oh no, I see it as a wasted opportunity. I should have got trolleyed. No excuses, I've let you all down, I'm so very sorry. I did stay away from the kebab house though. Mind you, having runny faeces may have made my day more exciting, the thrill of the last-minute toilet dash. The 'will I-won't I make it' factor would have been the most welcome of entertainments.

I'm going to get all topical on your asses now (donkeys just don't seem to stay out my witterings for too long do they?). I'm as pleased as a clichéd alcoholic mix that 'Tiger' Tim has been knocked out of Wimbledon. I can't stand tennis. It's a smug, sterile, mono-cultural, quasi-fascist, casually racist, elitist, snob-ridden, blazer-buggered, apartheid-crippled disaster area of a sport. I also hate the 'Henmaniacs'. These are a frightfully irrelevant bunch of people who think the tennis season lasts two weeks in July, and comes with complimentory Pimms and Union Jack hat. They probably think Roland Garros is designer tennis-wear. And Tim himself, he's just the sort of barratt home-counties mummy's boy loser who represents everything bad about this country.

He's also called Tim, and herein lies my other problem with him. Nobody called Tim has ever won anything. Ever. If Pelé had been called Tim, Brazil would have been rubbish. Imagine that you're a top boxer and you've just been told that your next opponent is Iron Tim Tyson. How scrotum-shrinkingly terrifying would that be? Answer - not very. Put it this way, if Tim Churchill had been prime minister during the Battle of Britain then today our national dish would be bratwurst mit sauerkraut. With no pudding.

For me at least, Wimbledon will always mean one thing, and one thing only. A mad, hard-as-nails football team, that went from playing against Telford and Aldershot to top flight football in about half-an-hour. And that flukey FA Cup Final win in 1989, when Aldridge missed a penalty for Liverpool and 'Welsh' 'Hollywood' 'star', Vinnie Jones went on to pick up the cup along with that taxi-driver's favourite Dennis Wise and terminal OAP 'keeper Dave Beasant. All that, and no strawberries, or pathetic house-wifey cries of 'GO ON TIM!'. Yes, go on Tim, home's that way mate!


Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Haven't had a dream in a long time

Its quieter than a sulking monk at work today. I just can't get motivated. I lied in the subtitle, I did have a dream last night, that I was shacked-up with a bird from work. I rarely have dreams about people, so I find it very odd talking to those that star in them. Especially when the said-person distracts me from a day-dream with the offer of a plum. Hopefully I'll be back to normal tonight and dreaming about non-personal subjects like an extroverted elk-based talk show, and the day the photocopiers wreaked their long-due revenge on humanity.

Oh yeah, I heard from Planet IBM® today. They have fitted a new speaker and replaced the screen. I asked if that had solved the problem they so blatently ignored previously, he said "probably". Its humbling to know that there is employment out there for such assertive and direct people. The crux of the matter is that I should have my PC back by Friday, which means I'll have it for my holidays. Thats only six and a half weeks after I reported the problem (in that time I have paid a paltry £98.74 for the priviledge of having a PC, a bargain I think you will all agree). I'm not holding my breath though, merely breathing economically.

I've just thought... I might go to the pub tonight. And on that whistle-wetting note, I'm off to think of buckets and spades and ice-cream (and donkeys, but that's nothing new). See you,


Tuesday, July 01, 2003

I'm Chairman of the Bored

The days drag on but the months fly by. I got over my dodgy cacks (to coin a medical phrase) by Friday night, alas too late to entertain the thought of a few beers. Saturday was 'family-day'. Oh good, I thought not exactly truthfully, but luckily there was enough free wine to keep me interested. I basically slept the rest of the weekend, in a way I will undoubtedly look back in envy when I am thirty-odd and have wife, children, a fence to creosote and a bald patch.

Today though, I am plain bored. L'ennui, to use a French word and make me sound very educated (see kids, GCSE's are useful, its also the name of a film I saw once that starred an, erm, none-too-shy girl with a big arse). Work is dull and uninspiring, I would be having a more fulfilling day if I were a sloth watching Big Brother, while stuck in a small, otherwise empty box... in Rhyl.

To add to my feeling of uselessness my PC is still on Planet IBM®, and I'll probably be without it for my holibobs, and also, its raining in Leeds, which means that there is no cricket being played so I have nothing but work and inactive mammals in boxes in delapidated North Wales seaside resorts to think about. It's gonna be a long day...