Tuesday, 30 August 2011

The Illness

I am writing this blog whilst there is something very rare occuring within me. You see, I am ill. I'll give you a minute to take in that revelation.

This is rare. Very rare. Perhaps, even a new phenomenon. I pride myself on my rarely succumbing to illness. I could probably win awards for this talent. People would probably come far and wide to marvel at my inability to fall ill. Sure, I get the odd cold, but who doesn't?

The symptons are strange too. Aching legs, a mild fever and a very sore throat. I only get aching legs are running or cycling long distances but I certainly hadn't done that recently. I can't recall ever having a fever, though I will admit to having the odd sore throat. Yet, this feels like a killer sore throat. The type of sore throat that could only be acquired through eating a lot of sand. And glass. And gravel. I don't remember eating any of those.

I even felt on the verge of throwing up. I can't tell you how worried I was at this point. I hate throwing up. It actually terrifies me. I would say though that I'm not as terrified about throwing up when I'm drunk but I still can't pinpoint why that is... I honestly can't locate the date, let alone the year, I last threw up when not caused by alcohol.

As you might recall from the last post, I went to the Midlands at the weekend to see my Grandma. Seeing as the symptoms for my illness began the night we arrived home, I really really hope I didn't pass on this illness to her. That'd be terrible.

So, here I am sitting in my chair at home watching television. I am hoping this illness will pass soon as I desperately want to go to Kingston to buy a copy of Ninja Assassin.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

The Trip to the Midlands

I know, I know. It’s been over a week since my last blog entry. “What have you been doing all this time?” is probably the question you are desperate to ask.

Well, nothing much really. I say nothing much, but I guess that would do a disservice to my week. I guess I have been busy. I went to the pub with my friends, I saw Rise of the Planet of the Apes (a very good film), we came second in the pub quiz (we changed our team name!) and my friend Philip and I began our YouTube venture but nothing happened that was really worth sharing. There was no standout moment.

So, it’s probably best that I tell you, my dear reader, that I spent the weekend in the Midlands. Dorridge to be precise but I’d be fairly confident that you won’t have heard of it. Not because you are geographically illiterate, oh no, more because it is a tiny, tiny town. So tiny, that even the local citizens are all dwarfs.

I’m kidding about the dwarf thing. Every citizen in Dorridge is in fact an OAP though.

I wasn’t in this tiny, OAP town because I was there with my Mum and Dad to visit my Grandma. She lives in a bungalow. As a person who lives in a house that has stairs, it is quite a treat to stay somewhere where if I want to go to bed, I don’t need to climb some stairs.

Despite the fact we had a three hour journey there, the traffic was terrible, we didn’t exactly do very much. However, it was nice and relaxing. We went to the pub a few times, we had fish and chips from the local chippy, we went to a nice restaurant for Saturday lunch, we visited an odd garden centre and we drank a lot of tea. It was relaxing.

Despite this, I had to sleep in the same room as my Dad. He is a pain. He snores, he seems to wake up every 5 minutes, he constantly fidgets and worst of all, he woke up and bemoaned the noise of the cat trying to get around the house.

We drove home, relatively traffic free and we are now settling down to watch The Da Vinci Code. To think I woke up 150 miles away from home and I’m now watching a film made in Hollywood, which is a place thousands of miles away that I can at this point only dream about. I think that shows how random and varied life is.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

The Power Cut

So, I’m on the phone to my sister. She’s called, and quite frankly writing this now I still don’t understand what the point of her call was. All she literally told me during the initial stage of her call was to tell me she was out, which I pretty much realised seeing as she was in fact not inside our house.

Where was I?

Oh yeah, then the wierdest thing happened. The phone cut off. I had the television on and I heard from the phone that the sound had suddenly gone. Then, to confirm my view that we’d probably suffered a power cut, my sister shouted from upstairs that “the powers gone!”

I was annoyed. Frustrated. Angered. I had been watching the Arsenal vs Liverpool match and I was rather intruiged to see how the match would go. I checked on Twitter to see whether any other tweeters had tweeted about the situation.

It turned out they had. Skimming through the usual ‘Oh no, a powercut’ type posts, one tweeter was nice enough to tell the world that there had been an explosion on South Lane. “But that’s only one road away from me” I thought.

Now,  I never realised how addicted I was to electricity but it turns out I’m an electricity addict. I can’t get enough of it. Without access to the internet, a laptop dying without power, no food making technology and no access to the TV, I was bored. As bored as a baby in a book store. Yes, I was that bored.

Many hours later and desperately hungry, my friend suggested we go to the pub. Brilliant. A way to relieve the boredom and cure my hunger.

After food and the usual game of Pub Quiz on the IT Box we decided to play pool. Now, my friend isn’t that good at pool and being the modest type, I’m not that great. Yet, towards the end of our game we seemed to attract quite a crowd. It was as if we were competing in the World Pool Championship. Just as long as one considers the World Pool Championship to have a capacity crowd of two people. In fact, not even two people. They were two little children.

For some reason, the two little South Korean kids seemed to find our game worthy of their attention. I was flattered, and a little worried as I don’t like to have my pool abilities to be judged.

“Who won?” You are bound to ask. Well I did. It’s here that I’d like to say the two little children applauded my brilliance but they didn’t. They just seemed to want to play with the white ball and chuck it at the pockets on the table.

I think the moral of the story here is if you are going to play pool after suffering a power cut, it’s only likely to lead to your game being watched by South Korean children.

The power has come back on by the way. Thanks for asking.

Friday, 19 August 2011

The Quiz: Part Two

If you can recall from an earlier blog, my friends and I have our own little quiz team that we enter into the weekly quiz on a Thursday down our local pub, The Berrylands.

I realise that in the last blog on this matter that I neglected to fill you in with a key detail. Our team name. It is brilliant. It is genius. It is certified genius by the man who runs the quiz. We are called Let’s Get Quizzical.

If you don’t understand then I will explain for you. It is a play on the lyrics of that famous song ‘Physical’ with the main, repeated lyric being “Let’s get phyiscal…physical”. We have simply replaced the word physical with quizzical. See, I told you it was genius.

Anywho, since the last blog post about the pub quiz, I am dissapointed to say that we have still failed to win the pub quiz. Quite frankly we are all suprised at this as we are all certified geniuses. I did just have to check that geniuses is the plural of genius there.

So, for this week’s edition of the pub quiz we brought in reinforcements. I say we, when I mean Becky brought her dad. However, we were convinced this would be a winning move. A strategy that would be copied in the future by pub quiz team’s consisting of 20 year olds failing in their quest to win. I say we were convinced, well I was convinced.

It turns out I was wrong. Despite the many points that were brought in this week by our new recruit, we still didn’t win. In fact, we weren’t even close. The bloody Bar Team wont again. How dare they!
The quiz master though did lead a chant against this cheating mob though. After the count of three, most people in the pub joined in with a rousing cry of “Cheating Bastards!”

So there we are. I’m still that immature that I can’t resist a good communal chant of “Cheating Bastards!” against a team of people who cheat at the pub quiz. Maybe I’m not maturing as fast as I thought…

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Monday, 15 August 2011

The Hour in Kingston

Something terrible has just happened. Something that any regular user of Spotify Open will tell you is the worst possible thing to happen. I have run out of minutes. Some people reading this will be asking, “Why are you using Spotify when you can illegally download for free?” I’ll tell you why. I am upstanding member of society. I like to set an example. I want to be the model citizen. I can, just about, understand the mentality of people who illegally download music and then go out and purchase said music. However, I simply use Spotify for this function.

I had recently stored up to 20 hours worth of listening time. I rationed my Spotify time like I was in some kind of war that rendered Spotify minutes the most important commodity available. I had, however, dwindled these minutes away recently after discovering two albums, Coastal Grooves by Blood Orange and Sbtrkt by SBTRKT. Upon using up all my listening hours, the time had thus come to purchase these two albums.

My planned sojourn into Kingston to purchase these albums took a twist though. My dad was in his room reading the newspapers just before he was about to go to bed and he asked me to look up whether the album Electric Warrior by T-Rex was available to purchase anywhere. I duly checked and informed him it was only a tenner in HMV and I told him I was going to Kingston the next day to buy some CD’s so I said I’d pick it up for him.

So, the time had come. I decided against my better judgement to walk into Kingston. I had recently stumbled upon a shortcut into Kingston so I followed this new, brave path to reach my destination. It was exciting. It was fun. It was new. Within 15 or so minutes I had reached the outskirts of Kingston and I noticed a road name that I had never previously seen. Splashwater Close. I’m sure there’s a joke to be made somewhere there.

Soon enough I was in HMV. I hadn’t been into HMV recently yet I wasn’t at all suprised to see that it had changed its layout yet again. That seems to be the main problem of HMV, it never has a settled layout. I thought it brilliant I didn’t manage to get lost. I had managed to find the two albums I was after in decent enough time which left the elusive CD that my dad was after.

After ten minutes I was going mad. This CD was so bloody elusive. In the ‘Rock and Pop’ section they stocked a few T-Rex albums apart from the one my Dad was after despite his assurances that this particular album is a “classic”. I very much doubt this statement. I began to search high and low. Literally. I even begun looking in the ‘Soul’, ‘Dance’ and even the ‘Metal’ section. It was clear I had lost the plot as I started marching around HMV like a deluded maniac. I eventually gave up.

I had paid for my purchases and decided to walk home the traditional way via a stop at Greggs. On the corner of the street there were some large, afro-caribbean guys handing out hip hop CD’s. Or at least I thought they were. One of the group handed a CD to me proclaiming they were “14 tracks of pure, old school hip hop”. Ok, I don’t particularly love hip hop that much but seeing as it was free, who am I to turn down 14 tracks of pure, old school hip hop?

I went to grab the CD and asked, as is polite, “Is it free?” I began to notice the man tightly grab the CD that I now appeared to be trying to steal from his hand. “No, you need to make a donation”. A donation? That’s a slightly odd way of asking for money. I personally donate money to UNICEF but I’m not exactly in the business of donating money to the Kingston hip-hop community. I don’t see it as being that worthy a cause. I began to walk away and then one of the other men said something almost inaudible so I promptly laughed and said “ok”. That seemed to do the trick. It’s always the safest thing to do when you can’t understand someone.

I walked into Greggs and began to try and work out what he said. When I got up to the counter I had indeed cracked what he had said. I believe he said “I’ll pop you for that”. I now know that I’ll need to be very wary and on my guard whenever I am around members of the Kingston hip-hop community.

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Friday, 12 August 2011

The London Riots

It’s a relatively dull Monday. I am sitting at home watching the BBC News channel. Now, this is fairly out of the ordinary behaviour for me. I never watch the BBC News channel unless a major celebrity has died, and even then I choose to watch the much more trashy Sky News.

“Why were you watching it?” I hear you ask. Well, I was watching the BBC News channel because I was worried. Nervous. Scared. Only the night before, rioting had spread across London from Tottenham to Enfield and then to Hackney and Brixton. As I occasionally frequent Hackney and Brixton, it was sad to see two great places be overrun by mindless criminals.

I had little to do in the day so I was merely milling about until 7:45PM, at which point I’d go to the pub and meet my friends. Except, a few of my friends weren’t even in London, they were on holiday. They probably had wizard like abilities to forsee the riots in London so consequently booked holidays away. How dare they not share this intel with us lot? Anyway, we had a small party at the pub. Only four of us. After settling down and supping at my pint of Carlsberg, I noticed something very red on the television.

If you are clever enough to work this out, you will have guessed correctly that the television at the pub was showing the BBC News channel. If you are even more intelligent, you will be able to guess that the very red thing on the television was a fire. The only other thing it could be would be a large, screen wide picture of Charmeleon. However, that’d be a little odd for that to be showing on the BBC News channel unless every childs dream had come true that in fact Pokemon were real and were rampaging through Croydon. “Oh shit, there’s a fire in Croydon” I exclaimed. See, there wasn’t a Charmeleon rampaging through Croydon. It was in fact underclass yobs who were destroying the town and a very old furniture store that had survived two World Wars but was currently burning down to the ground.

It was at this point in this fascinating tale that I finished my Carlsberg. I handed my friend a £2 coin to get me another Carslberg as he was heading to the bar. He was soon back though telling me that the pub was closing up due to the riots heading our way. To compound this, I very rapidly recieved a text from my Mum asking if I could come home due to the riots.

So, it seemed that after just one pint the night was over. This only compounded my view that the rioters were scum of the earth. How dare they ruin our big night out?

At least I managed to catch Dirty Sexy Things on the telly when I got home though!

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Saturday, 6 August 2011

The Teabag Conflict

As the stereotype goes, us Brits like our tea. Amongst my family, we certainly live up to that. In fact, we quaff so much tea that I honestly wouldn’t be suprised if our bodies were made up of tea, instead of water like the typical human being.

Being the loyal tea consumers we are, Tetley’s can constantly count on our purchasing of their tea bags. However, on one trip to Co-op recently, we purcahsed even more of Tetley’s tea bags. Alongside the traditional round, plain tea bag, my Mum decided it was time to pull our family firmly into the 21st Century of tea bag technology. She decided to purchase drawstring bags. This was big news.

“What are you doing?” I protested.
“What do you mean?” She returned confused.
“Why are you buying drawstring bags when I’ve already stuck some normal teabags in the trolley?”
“I like drawstring bags and it’s time for a change”.

I honestly coulden’t believe this. The cheek of the woman, arrogantly changing our tea drinking ways with these fancy drawstrings. I wanted to shout in her face that “We have a tea making system and it doesn’t involve drawstring bags!” However, she had made her call. She had decided that this was the future.

A week later and my Mum had gone off for a week to go camping due to her involvement with the Guides. A day into the week we ran out of the ordinary, safe, comforting tea bags. If I wanted tea I had to use the damn drawstring bags. They had won. They knew I’d eventually have to use them.

As I found out over the course of the week, they actually make the whole tea making process a hell of a lot easier. Long live the drawstring!

Thursday, 4 August 2011

The Surveys

Due to the fact that I am willing to undertake any money making scheme, I have stumbled upon a particularly brilliant one of late.

I was surfing the web, does anyone still use that phrase?, when I came across this fantastic offer from YouGov of £50 for merely filling in surveys. Easy. Even I could do that.

Without a moments hesitation, I had signed up. I am now so important companies would like to know my views on issues such as fishing stock levels, supermarket experiences and whether I am a regular consumer of soft drinks. Seeing as I also love studying the latest political polls, I could now partake in telling YouGov who I would vote for. Fantastic. I was part of the establishment. I was a soundboard. People would suddenly flock to me to hear my views due to the fact I would seen be an experienced person in the field of doing surveys. Plus, the £50 would be able to buy me many pints down the pub. It was a win-win.

As part of the introduction process, I had to fill in a basic survey to consider my suitablity to certain types of surveys that YouGov could issue. Luckily, being a student, from a fairly well off background, in the 16-25 age bracket made me fairly attractive to YouGov.

Having granted YouGov those 10 minutes of my life, I hoped my £50 would be on its way to me. However, I noticed at the end, I had been granted 25 points. Eh. What’s this points nonsense? Being a student in the 16-25 age bracket, I tend not to read the small print. I tend to just dive in head first.

It turns out I need to gain 5000 points to get that £50 cheque. “How am you doing?” I hear you ask. Well let me just say, a few weeks after signing up, I am still 4650 points from that cheque. It’s going to be a while until I’m buying myself pints down the pub thanks to my brilliant, sought after viewpoints.

The Gillette Advert

As a 20 year old man/boy (choose whichever you want), one of the many issues I face is shaving. It’s a tricky area. It’s a dilemma faced the world over. Electric or traditional razor? Wet or dry?

If like me, you choose to go down the route of a traditional basic razor you face the further dilemma of which shaving foam to use. Quite frankly, there are many to choose from. In addition to this, there’s also which brand of razor to buy. Gillette? Bic? Asda’s own? The choices are…quite limited actually.

Anyway, as a long standing Gillette customers, for all of two years, I need to inform and warn everyone of a massive faux pas by Gillette. A fine brand. Until today.

Usually, Gillette has many famous figures advertising their brands. Legends in their fields. The likes of Federer, Henry and Tiger Woods. Fine institutions, I think you may agree.

However, their latest advert is just very bizarre. It features a camera crew going into a gym’s changing room and interviewing various semi-naked men in their various stages of the shaving process. At the end, the interviewer even gets put into a headlock by one of the aforementioned semi-naked men.

I think you’ll agree if you’ve seen it. It’s very, very creepy, and very, very wierd.

The Quiz

Every Thursday, a few friends and I compete in our local pub quiz. Pub quizzes are the ultimate manly activity. Beer and facts. A pub quiz seperates the men from the boys. Unfortunately, we are probably all still boys as we have yet to win despite the fact we all think we are clever. Our A-Team consists of people who go to University at Edinburgh, Essex, Leeds and myself at Reading. Oh, and someone who’s been to University twice.

However, disaster struck in our most recent outing. The majority of our A-Team were busy and were unable to come. So, we drafted in the B-Team. We knew we were doomed to yet another winless week.
One of the B-Team members is, let’s just say, very confident in his answers so usually we go along with his answers and they turn out to be wrong. So, in the best way possible, we ignored his answers. However, that turned out to be terrible. He was right in all his answers and we were doing awfully. Terrible scores like 5/15 were notched up in the opening rounds.

Only the picture round and the music round could save us from humiliation of last place. We performed terribly yet again. When the final scores were announced, we had somehow finished last. Against a room full of drunkards and some people so old they probably didn’t know what their name was, we somehow came last. This was awful.

The second it was announced we had come last we quickly left, embarrased and shamed. What idiots we are.

The Tesco Employee

It’s Saturday night. It’s 10PM. Strangely enough, I’m in the nearest Tesco superstore with some friends and we are searching for snacks and drinks for what can only be described as a gathering at a friend’s home. Being the generous soul I am, I offered to drive to Tesco so I was on the energy drinks whilst others in our party picked up various different ciders and many different snacks from Doritos to Skittles.
At this point, seeing as we are law abiding citizens we decided to pay. How noble of us. To avoid the slow and possible mundane conversation with a human cashier, we thought it best to use the tills we’re you scan your own products and pay.

Suddenly, a man strolled over. He was a man with a Tesco badge with his name on. He told us that there were too many of us using the till and that some of us should move out the way. Even though he looked quite young, despite his tall and round nature, three of us took this command and moved.

Two minutes later the same man was back. ‘What does he want now?’ I thought. It turns out he wanted a chat. Now, I am more than welcome to chat to a stranger for two minutes. However, this man looked a bit creepy. Plus, his conversational starters were a little odd. ‘Does the fact that I passed my consumer law exams just yesturday mean I can give out instructions?’ I was lost for words. Did he think we were his boss? Did he think we were covert examiners judging his post-exam actions? We realised now, none of us had said anything for a while so we all responded with a nonchalant, non-committal ‘Probably’.

It is now that I wish I could say he left us and went away. But that would be a lie. For a few minutes he carried on his bizarre discussions and then issued a sentance that stunned us all. ‘You know that Tesco have got such a big legal team…it’d be stupid to take them on in court’. So now, whilst Phil, Dan and I stood by the front of the store we were apparently giving off the look of a group of people intent on taking Tesco to court for no specified reason. Seeing as Dan is not from England, he seemed a bit scared by this man so we tried our best to wrap things up and Phil said, ‘Yes, Tesco does have a big legal team doesn’t it’. We hoped this would make him leave, but he left with some good advice for us. Or for anyone who doesn’t fancy taking on a large Supermarket chain.

‘If you want to take someone on, go for Lidl’.

The rest of our party had finished paying and we left the store no doubt plotting our legal challenge to Lidl. Or possibly Aldi as well.

The Big Decision

As I’m home from University for the Summer, I am essentially the slave in my household. My parents expect me, in return for the generous allowance they give me and rent payments for my Uni housing, to carry out numerous chores such as washing up.

The main job, however, is to buy vital things from the local cornershop. The most important being the daily newspapers.

As creatures of habit, my parent’s have got into reading The Sun and the Daily Mail. However, a recent conversation unearthed a deeply important, game-chaning issue. Neither of them nor myself actually like the Daily Mail. In my household, this was a groundbreaking revelation.

So, there was a void to fill for our second newspaper. The quality one. The one which told us the news in a less breast-filled, simple english and fun way like The Sun. A year ago, I had got into reading The Independent, however, it’s pricey nature had put me off. Yet, on the first monday in our new world order of not buying the Daily Mail my dad left me a £10 note and wrote ‘Buy whatever paper you like’. He didn’t write that on the £10 note of course, that would be silly.

I thundered to the shop. Which paper would I buy? And there it was. Sitting there proudly on the shelf. The Independent, in all it’s glory offering a critical account of the News International phone hacking story. We all enjoyed the paper. Even my mum, largely thanks to the decent amount of puzzles and crosswords. A bonus, you might say.

However, a week later and everytime I’ve been to the shop The Independent has been sold out. I think you’d like to know I’ve had to buy the Daily Mail in its place.

The Awkward Chat

It is late afternoon and I am sat revising for an upcoming exam with my friend in the computer room at the University Library. As is almost protocol when studying, you find yourself having many little breaks to have a chat to cure the boredom of revising pointless facts over and over again. Did you know Sweden has a unicameral parliament?

Now me and my friend were about to have a chat that I didn’t expect to have. I was about to be hit with some revelatory news about one of our teachers who everyone quite seemed to like. I should not divulge anymore. It is here where if I were a good writer who liked a gossip then I’d share with you the nature of the conversation, but let’s just say it was suprising.

Anyway, some of my friend’s other friends came over and we thus trotted off to dinner. Whilst I supped at my water and tried to eat a fairly dissapointing burger, the aforementioned teacher suddenly became the centre of the debate engulfing the table. My friend and I began to giggle at the coincidence. Then suddenly, one of the group mentioned that she wanted to go and see the teacher the next day to discuss the upcoming exam. Due to what my friend had told me, we decided we should warn her from going to see him.

We all walked back to the Library with satisfied tummies, however my friend quickly shouted at the girl who wanted to go and see the teacher. He quickly dashed off leaving me to tell her the problem at hand. Seeing as what I was supposed to tell her about the teacher was quite unbelievable as well as being potentially illegal, I panicked and said after many second of silence, ‘I’ll go with you to see him tommorow…as…er…I need to see him as well’.

Phew. I had got away with it. I hadn’t divulged the information that I shouldn’t share, neither did I come across as a crazy wierdo. Wait a minute. Hold on a jiffy. She now looked frightened. Oh shit. She thinks I like her in that way. Oh crap. I had scared someone I only vaguely know and now she thinks I’m in love with her.

I scuttled back off to the computer room and spent the next few hours wondering how to correct the awkward situation. Despite this, I still got a great score on my exam the next day. I’d like to think that’s karma for undergoing that awkward situation.