Sunday, 9 December 2007

The Christmas Party

Dinner paraphernalia
Originally uploaded by A Simple Man

Just what is it about this annual event that makes people act so strangely? Ah, yes, the booze.

Had ours on Friday night and, as with so many parties across the country, as the alcohol increased, so did the strange events. I must confess that I am guilty of having a few too many (£2.80 for a double vodka and coke - seriously, you'd have to be mad not to make the most of that!)

However, the morning after always produces fine stories. Amongst our tales of woe, we had someone throwing mince pies across the car park, somebody else urinating in the middle of the same car park, without a care in the world, as traffic passed alongside, me singing Take That's 'Back For Good' as a duet with the hired singer (I bow my head in shame) and somebody else being dry-humped.

Come to think of it, I'm actually quite glad I can't remember much of it. If your party is coming up, enjoy!

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Livingstone's double bluff

I wanted to have a wander into the city today to make a start on my Christmas shopping. I thought I'd make the most of the much hyped traffic-free Oxford and Bond Street. Ken Livingstone's put a lot of effort into advertising and promoting the fact that these roads would be fully pedestrian just for Saturday, alongside street entertainers and music to make it a fun and enjoyable day for all. Use the tube and come on down to have a truely unique experience!

Then he decides to give the go-ahead for my local tube station to be closed this weekend for engineering works. Cheers.

Saturday, 24 November 2007

The waiting game

That's a lot of bags
Originally uploaded by
A Simple Man

I had the misfortune to be stuck in ladies fashion store 'Jane Norman' this afternoon. I don't particularly mind shopping with girls. It's not as bad as it's made out to be. Yes, it does involve waiting around outside changing rooms for a long time, but it provides quality thinking time which is a rarity. It also enables me to look at the other poor souls who are standing around playing the waiting game too.

Whilst I was standing around today, I created a game to keep me occupied. You can play it too, if you want. Here's what to do.

Next time you're sitting on one of those soft cube cushions in the waiting area, pick a man who looks suitably fed up.

Look carefully at his face. Study the look of boredom and frustration then take a bet (with yourself, not with him because he'll probably smack you) on the number of minutes before he has an outburst.

Then, sit back and watch as the look of sheer boredom grows and manifests itself into a fearsome beast, ready to explode at the next halterneck top that the unfortunate man's lady friend chooses to wave under his nose with the immortal line "What do you think?"

I bet seven minutes against one bloke today. He exploded in 3 minutes, 12 seconds. I lost the bet with myself. Highly enjoyable though.

Normal service will soon resume...

Sunbathing iguana
Originally uploaded by
A Simple Man

I'm just fiddling with a few bits to make my blogging life a tad easier for me.

If you haven't noticed, I'm not the most regular blogger due to the fiddly nature of this blogging site I'm on. Hopefully, by posting entries this way, I'll be able to comment on more nothingness a bit more frequently.

Monday, 13 August 2007


On Saturday, I went to the gym. However, due to the local council wishing to tear up the roads at a moment's notice, I was stuck in a load of traffic on the way to my normal gym. Having a reciprocal gym membership with this well known fitness chain, I decided to go to another of their branches instead.

I got to said establishment and pulled into a parking spot. I reversed out a little, with the intention of straightening and tidying the parking up. Nothing worse than being outside your polygon - there's no excuse. Anyway, as I was slowly reversing out, some pillock goes by at a ridiculously fast speed and honks his horn. He then pulls up a little further down and has the audacity to stick his head out of the window towards me and make, what can only be described as, a Shaw Taylor Police 5 'Keep 'Em Peeled' gesture with his fingers. (Ask your parents.)

He looked bigger than me so, even though I had really done nothing wrong, I kept my fingers to myself. This is Wembley. You can lose your fingers for just blinking at someone in a funny way.

It was then that the charade began. He parked up a little way down, but refused to get out of his car, instead opting to try and stare me out through his rear view mirror, knowing full well I'd have to pass his car to get into the gym. By this point, I'd got out, grabbed my gym bag from the boot and was about to make way towards my hour of sweat and tears. But I saw his eyes. They looked menacing.

So, I began to do what many of us must have done at some point. In order to buy some time, I acted as if I'd lost something. On the surface, I was pretending to look for my gym card. In my head, I was thinking 'You look like a wally'. I opened the boot and rooted around. Looked up - he was still staring. I went to the passenger door and looked in the glove compartment - beady eyes still on me. I leafed through my pockets, 'sighed'. He hadn't moved an inch.

Buying time had failed. Only one option left for delicate folk like me. I got back in my car and drove home. It was the only sensible thing to do. I'm a realist. I like my face as it is. The muscles can wait a day, I'm just glad I still have a pair of eyes that point forwards, ta very much.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Time is but a passing fad...

See, I take my eye off the clock and it's August already. My last blog update was at the end of May. That's atrocious.

Although I must admit that a lot's happened during the intervening months. Work wise, my class received their Key Stage 2 SATs results and were, by and large, very pleased with themselves. And so they should be. They worked their socks off. Although it still seems some aren't happy. Alas, there will always be critics.

The kids performed their leavers performance, then waved goodbye to life at Primary School, taking their first steps along the long and winding road of adolescence and onto adulthood. Take your time, little ones, it's not as much fun as you think it is, when you finally get here...

As for me, my summer holidays are in full swing. Spent a few days in Cornwall last week. Never been before, but will certainly visit again. Being able to actually see the stars in the night sky was a real treat, as well as popping down to the beach for a spot of surfing as and when the need arose.

However, living there? Never. To me, the rolling green fields and lines of trees are all very well and good for a little visit, but I'm a city lad through and through. I like rude people around me. I like car fumes and noise. I like to sample the delights that international cuisine has to offer me simply by popping down to my local high street. I like to know that if I ever need a packet of Digestives at 3 in the morning, the Happy Shopper down the road will always be willing to serve me. I like broken slabs of pavement tiles - they add character. I like to be busy. I like to meet people from the farthest reaches of the planet on a single night out in Willesden. I like to play chicken with the buses. I like the dodgy London Underground system. I like being a part of the vast number of religious and international festivals that are celebrated here. I like to pay over the odds for anything and everything I buy. Well, maybe not the latter but that's the price you pay for the rest of it.

I'm probably in a minority, but I don't mind. Makes the feeling even more special.

Thursday, 31 May 2007

Off-road driving

Walking down the local high street today, I happened to encounter upon this huge BMW 4x4 conveniently parked on the pavement. Clearly, he didn't feel as though there was enough space on the road.

Which is fair enough. I mean, with a car that big, why should the driver use the road at all? No doubt he's more used to deep, treacherous ravines, rocky mountain terrain, miles of waterlogged stretches of paddy fields and awe-inspiringly steep hills for those 4x4 gears to be put to real work.

Oh sorry, no he's not. He's driving in Wembley.

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Facebook: Update

I'm addicted. It's official.

This must be what heroin feels like.

I find myself checking it every few hours for a mere snippet of a comment someone may have saved on my 'Wall'. As for the photos people leave of me in my youth, well, they're cringeworthy, yet strangely captivating.

There really, really must be more to life than this.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Getting to know you

I've joined Facebook. I don't understand it myself. I feel I was rallied into it by others and their overzealous comments on the sheer wonderfulness of its existence.

It just seems to be a place where one of two things happens.

Thing Number One
You happen to stumble across someone from your life whom you've spoken to for ages. Could be an old work colleague, maybe someone you were mates with at school. For this, I like Facebook.

Thing Number Two
Some nutter from your past manages to track you down. You've spent all these years trying to distance yourself/change your your name by depol in order to get away from this person, then in one click of a mouse, they're back with you again in all their inanely nerdy glory. For this, Facebook, I can never truely hold you dear to my heart.

Monday, 30 April 2007

Polite people

Went to the petrol station to top up the air in my car's tyres this afternoon.

I'm overly concious about this issue now as I went through a period of not checking the tyres at all, resulting in them quickly wearing down to well past the legal limit. Not big and not clever.

I went to a Texaco petrol station close to where I live. I pulled up beside the machine and then - being the precise keeno that I am - went around my tyres checking what pressure I should be filling up to.

Again, in my days of laxness, even when I did get around to filling air up, I'd just fill up without checking anything. I must have often filled up the car with the air that the push-bike in front had used. This probably was a secondary factor to the tyres going bald.

Anyway, as I was being safety concious and checking the tyres, a man pulled up behind me and asked if he could jump in. I was just about to begin the process myself but he had greasy hands (like a mechanic) and looked bigger than me so I let him cut in front.

I kept my distance throughout in case he turned nasty.

However, when he was done, he politely turned round and, with a cheeky little glint in his eye, said that there was still quite a bit of time left in the machine and that I was welcome to quickly make the most of it.

I did just what he said. And there was still time left after that for the next chap who had pulled up.

Our mechanic friend must have put at least a quid in. It's good to know that polite people still exist.

Even if he did have very greasy hands.

Thursday, 26 April 2007


As you may have read earlier, I try my hardest to get to the gym. When I can be arsed.

I dream of a set of abs tight enough to grate cheese on, arms that Popeye would be envious of, a chest that would need doorways to be widened to allow me to pass through.

In reality, my abs are hidden under an ever increasing podgy belly, arms that even Olive Oyl would snigger at and a chest that's more sparrow than Schwarzenneger.

Nevertheless, I persist. However, it seems to me that all rules regarding politeness and manners seem to go out the window as soon as you enter the house of pain.

For example, I'm actually surprised that I haven't yet caught any kind of fungal infection from other folk who use equipment in there, then wander off without wiping down, leaving a gloriously glistening damp patch on the seat that my rear end is about to advance on.

Then, there's the grunting. In any normal situation, a man (and more women now I've noticed too) groaning and roaring like a lot of them in there do would raise a few eyebrows. But, no. In there, you can be as loud as you want and no-one bats an eyelid. Except me. I'm always fascinated by the people making that much noise.

They also pull unattractive faces as they do their lifting. I often wonder if that's their sex face too.

Today, though, I encountered a new phenomenon. I was getting changed after a bit of a workout (I'd much rather have watched Deal Or No Deal) and was getting my bits from the locker I was occupying. As I was kneeling down, a middle aged gentleman then approached and opened the locker directly above mine.

As he started to get his things out, something fell to the floor from his locker. Now, in any other circumstances, I'd have picked it up and offered it back to the person who'd dropped it. Dummy - here you go little chap. Papers - there you are, busy office person. Glove - don't want to lose that, it's chilly today.

He'd dropped his underpants.

Now, call me rude, but I didn't even offer. I took a quick glance, realised what they were and looked away. I shouldn't have done that. By looking away, I turned to face his flacid penis in my face.

I suppose that's a lesson for us all. Always be kind and considerate to others, or else you too could end up with a floppy willy waving at you.

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Safety concious motorists

Haven't been on here for a while. A month exactly to be precise. Clearly nothing of merit has occurred.

Actually, it probably has but I've been too lazy to find photos or link things up. All far too technical and wasting valuable 'Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em' time on UK Gold.

Anyway, driving back from work today, I happened to meet possibly the most safety concious motorcyclist in existence. To get to and from work, I have to go down a particularly tricky road due to the way its set up.

Now, I've tried to explain this in my head before I type it, but it's confused me so I'm going to go through it step by step:

1) Drive to end of road.
2) Meet junction with traffic coming from the right (obviously).
3) I want to go over the junction, but can't, as the local council have built a barrier preventing this from happening.
4) Don't know why the barrier is there.
5) To get over to the other side of the junction I can either:
5i) Go left and do an illegal u-turn or
5ii) Go left, turn up a side street, do a 3-point turn (legally), rejoin the road on the other side, then turn and continue on the road I want to be on.

I gave one of my colleagues a lift home a few times and the first time I did this, he thought I was going up the side street to take advantage of him or something. I didn't.

Anyway, back to my story, on the way back from work today (just realised I've written the instructions for my drive to work. Hmmm, read the above and reverse it), I'd just done my 3-point turn and was about to turn onto the main road again.

Now, I say I was about to turn back onto the main road but I was approaching it at about 2mph, preparing myself to get to a complete stop in order to check traffic in both directions (look, look and look again) before going over.

As I waited, I saw a motorcycle coming from the left. Although motorcycle may be an overly glamorous word for the contraption. It was one of those hairdryers on wheels that always seem to have a little box at the back for the (invariably elderly) rider's lunch. He saw me and proceeded to beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep and beep again. Then he gave me the evil eye.

I'm in a red car. It's a sunny day. I'm glad he saw me because I'd be worried if he didn't.

I clearly saw him as I heard the faint 'put-putting' sound of his motor from quite a way away before he tootled past.

But the beeping? There was no chance of running him over. I'd have had to have stopped laughing in order to do that.

I'm now interested to know if he approaches each and every junction with his diligent series of beeps to warn other drivers of his position.

I hope to see him again. He's a prime example of road safety in action.

Sunday, 25 March 2007

How the others live

A mate from work invited some of us round to his girlfriend's parents house on Friday night to celebrate his birthday.

All very grown up with nibbles, drinks, meal and even tea and coffee at the end. Anywhere that serves tea and coffee at the end of a meal is quite fancy for me. I don't get out much.

Anyhow, his girlfriend's parents are vets. My thoughts on vets extend as far as 'Animal Hospital' with Rolf Harris. I think of a vet and I see Rolf's face cheerily nattering away as a budgie's put down or something. Rolf's happy ways neglected to mention that vets are rich. Very. No wonder he was so happy to hang around them for so long. I'd do the same thing.

The house was stunning, leaving all the guests in awe, making us think long and hard about our own pathetic shoeboxes that we live in. Indoor swimming pool? Check. Floor level lighting? Check. Beds with metal leaves overhanging? Obviously.

I'm now incredibly jealous. If only I'd thought longer about sticking my hand up a cow's jacksy during the careers advice sessions at school...

Sunday, 18 March 2007

Wembley Stadium

Went to the new Wembley Stadium yesterday. Obviously, it isn't properly opened yet. I 'won' the chance after the local council offered tickets to local residents (ie me) to come and be the first to see and experience the new stadium.

We were to "help the organisers test facilities such as the turnstiles, escalators and toilets". In other words, we were to be human lemmings. If anything went wrong, we would be sacrificed to the Gods of Multiplex who would sprinkle our ashes over the newly laid turf.

Well, all things considered, the place is magnificent. Climbing the stairs and catching the first glimpse of the all red-seated bowl is breath taking. Once inside the bowl shaped stadium, it's hard not to be taken away by the sheer size and feeling of awe at what is before you. Even though the atmosphere from the crowd consisted of one man and his dog, there were a few moments when the sounds quietly reverberated around the cauldron we were seated in. When it's full, the noise will be deafening.

I was sat high up at the back but the view was still very, very impressive. There isn't a spot where view is impeded (unless you're sat behind a very big headed person). However, the climb up to my seat was quite tiring. At one point, I'd got so high that I was worried the oxygen was actually getting very thin in the air. Old biddies and those afraid of heights should take note - the climb up to the back is VERY steep and VERY high.

'Entertainment' was provided by the usual Z-list celebrities wanting to be footballers. Again. Yawn. Please, give up the ghost Ralph Little. We've seen you. Over. And. Over. Again. Yes, you can kick a ball. Hoo-rah. Weighing it up, in the grand scheme of things, your ability to do so ranks about as highly as me buttoning my shirt up. The only solace that we, as a crowd had, was that Robbie Williams' fecking shadow, Jonathan "Just What Is It I Do Exactly?" Wilkes wasn't there.

As for the facilities that we were testing:
1) Turnstiles - Opened 15 minutes late. Made a clackety sound as we went through.
2) Escalators - 3 sets up to the main concourse. One of them broke.
3) Toilets - Very dark in colour. You can see the girls washing their hands from outside. The hand-dryer is strong enough to power a jet engine.

Along with flat beer and soft drinks, and extortionately priced snacks, it feels as though Wembley's never been away

Sunday, 25 February 2007

Gym and I

Sunday morning = my newly found gym class. I'm not one for the gym in general. I first started going at university about seven years ago. A nice butch lady gave me a program to help me 'bulk up' (whatever that means) and I went for a few months. Then, I stopped going. I got bored.

I joined another gym a few months later. I thought this place might be more interesting. Another nice lady did another program for me. But this lady made me feel a bit ill as she insisted on standing over me whilst I did bits of her program. I think she thought I'd cheat. I'd had a cheese sandwich and a packet of salt and vinegar crisps before going to see her which probably didn't help.

Since then, I've stayed with the gym but have made practically no progress. Why? I get bored. Very easily. Where's the fun in lifting up a bar of metal attached to a couple of circley bits of metal at the end over and over again? I don't see the fascination with it. There are people in there who are always there. Whenever I go in, they're there grunting away. Now, there could be one of three possible reasons for this:

Reason Number One As To Why The Same People Might Always Be In The Gym - They have adjusted their body clocks in time with mine and we all decide to go and work out on the same days. I've heard that this often happens with girls who live together and their menstrual cycles. I don't have a menstrual cycle though.

Reason Number Two As To Why The Same People Might Always Be In The Gym - The gym has provided them with a little cupboard that they sneak in and out of. They live their lives in the gym. In the cupboard, they have all the necessities of life - bed, cooker, Sainsburys. However, they can only stay there with the agreement that any time not sleeping, cooking or in Sainsburys must be spent in the gym. This entire reason isn't very likely.

Reason Number Three As To Why The Same People Might Always Be In The Gym - They're more dedicated than me. This entire reason is most likely.

I've been trying to make more of an effort recently but - thankfully - work's been busy so I can pretend that I don't really have a lot of time to go. However, everytime I see my bank statement, I realise that the £42 I send into the coffers of Fitness First plc every month needs to be justified in some way.

So, behold the Body Power class. Basically, I go along and a man in a red T-shirt shouts things and we follow his instructions. Kind of like big bipedal dogs. It's better than working out on my own because we all do the same things together. However, most of the girls lift heavier weights than I do. I don't let that put me off.

Strangely, when 'Shouty-Shouty Man' tells us what to do and how quickly to do it, I'm always the one who's out of time with the others. So, when everybody else squats, I'm standing. When they stand, I squat. I try to correct myself but end up out of sync again. I try not to let others see that this bothers me though. I just put on a pretend 'Typical!' smirk on my face and shrug my shoulders, in case anyone's looking. Inside, I'm crying.

'Shouty-Shouty Man' called me 'Young Man' today. I call my kids at school that. I think he might have been patronising me because I was being very slow at picking up my weights. I didn't mean to be slow. Actually, I did. I was tired. But there was no need for his comment. I don't call him 'Shouty-Shouty Man' to his face, so he doesn't need to call me 'Young Man' to mine. I can't really say anything to his face though as he's taller than me so it's physically impossible.

Saturday, 24 February 2007


People often do strange things when they reach certain ages. I say 'people', I actually mean 'middle aged men'. And I say 'strange things', I actually mean buy flash cars and chase much younger girls than their wives.

I turned 28 on Wednesday. Not middle-aged by a long shot. But I got there and over the last few days it's dawned on me that I have very little to show of my years between the ages of about 16 and now.

When I was really young, mum and dad took lots of photos of me as I was growing up. That's evidence of my existence on this planet. However, since then, I've got lots of bits of paper that say I did things - GCSE certificates, A-Levels, Degree, P45's - but the photos have stopped. Largely my own fault as I can't be arsed with putting cameras in my jeans. Even worse, now that I do a proper grown up job, I have no reason to even write anything for any real purpose other than work.

That's wrong. Very wrong.

Years have clearly passed by me when, okay, not a lot happened but I still had a lot to say about it. But those words are now lost. Uttered once and blown away by the breeze. I read that in a poem once. Quite liked it so suitably changed it so as to avoid any accusations of plagiarism. Things have to change or else I'll end up at 65 without a flippin' thing to my name.

So, armed with my phone - as that fits in my jeans, takes photos and doesn't annoy me - I aim to jot down as much rubbish here as I can be bothered to put down. I'll even decorate it with my photos. If I can figure it out, I'll go so far as linking to my photos on Flickr too. But, to be honest, that's given me a headache just thinking about it...