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Monday, May 29, 2006

LezzersWell in the end Lisa didn't get me Heather Mills' guide to a happy marriage. Come to think of it, she didn't get me anything at all. But I didn't let that put me off. I bought her a lesbian DVD. The cast are pictured opposite in their normal attire. Personally I can't see the attraction, but both Lisa and (interestingly enough) my Big Sis are fans. So much so that I've been forced out of Sis's living room in Texas on more than one occasion, just so they can watch it in peace. They seemed to find my gasps of moral outrage distracting.

But anyway, Lisa and I have now officially been together for two years. I've had pets that haven't lasted that long. We're planning to celebrate by threatening my brother with physical violence until he agrees to sign the contract on my Brighton flat.

Not that I'll need him after this week, as I seem to have developed the gift of second sight, and am now in possession of Wednesday's winning lottery numbers. They came to me in a dream at 6am this morning. Well, I say a dream; to be honest it was more of a portentous vision. A vision so powerful that I had to get out of bed immediately to write down the six numbers. And to go to the toilet.

I've checked the National Lottery website this morning, and if I'd played those six numbers in every one of the 50 or so draws to have taken place over the last six months, I'd have won a grand total of...


So they're clearly overdue for a win. I couldn't be more confident. And neither could Lisa. She lay there in bed on the morning of our second anniversary, took hold of my hand, looked lovingly into my eyes, and demanded I sign a pre-nuptial agreement guaranteeing her half.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Jesus of AsparagusBlimey, it's the face of Jesus in an asparagus root. Is there nothing God won't do to get us to eat five portions of fruit & veg a day?

But miracles aside, I'm a bit short of time here, because in an exciting twist of fate, Lisa's coming up for the weekend after all. She's hitch-hiking as far as Essex, and I'm picking her up from Chelmsford in two hours time. Although given her habit of getting Chelmsford mixed up with Cheltenham, I should probably be heading for Gloucestershire instead.

It's a momentous weekend though, because Monday is our two-year anniversary, and the government seem to have declared it a national holiday in our honour. It's difficult to know what to get your other half on an occasion like this, but top of my Amazon wish list is a book called Life Balance. It only came out in hardback yesterday, so it's hot off the press, and apparently it contains 'The Essential Keys to a Lifetime of Wellbeing', which sounds like just what I need. According to its author, "countless relationships - between nations and individuals - could be healed through proper communication".

I forget who wrote it, but I'm sure they know what they're talking about.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The trouble with Brighton is that you just don't get the same level of excitement as you do in the villages around Shotley Gate. The most dramatic moment of my final day on the south coast was when the checkout girl at Asda started abusing me for buying too many drinking straws (two packets clearly represented a dangerous obsession in her book, and she came close to calling the manager). So I left Brighton on Tuesday night, collected my cat from the babysitters shortly after midnight, successfully managing to wake them up in the process by slamming my car door too hard, and arrived home at 1:30am.

Lisa was supposed to be coming with me, but at the last minute she was forced to stay in Brighton due to tragic and unforeseen circumstances. Her boss refused to give her the time off work. I wasn't happy. Which is probably why I slammed the car door.

I shot the sheriff.But if there's one thing likely to cheer me up, it's quality late-night television on Channel 5, presented by bouffanted Americans with fake tan and too much make-up. Hence the gratuitous shot of Sheriff John Bunnell, the melodramatic ham at the forefront of one of my personal favourites, "World's Wildest Police Videos" (C5, 11:25pm, Sunday - don't miss it). Sheriff John (retired, possibly due to allegations about his sexuality) has introduced us on countless occasions to the 'stinger', a contraption involving metal spikes which can be flung across the road by police officers to puncture the tyres of a fleeing scum-mobile during high speed car chases usually involving helicopters, guns, and people from trailer parks.

Obviously spending most of my time in the quiet Dullsville which is Brighton, I've never actually seen anything like that in real life, but I've been back in Shotley Gate for almost 48 hours now, so it was only a matter of time...

I drove to Manningtree this afternoon to visit the bank, buy some courgettes, and check for bird flu amongst the local swan population, and on my way back, taking a short cut through the countryside between Brantham and Stutton, less than half a mile from Griff Rhys Jones's house, I rounded the corner and spotted a police car trying to hide itself in a grass verge. StungThe driver, who probably should have turned off his flashing lights before attempting any kind of camouflage, motioned to me to keep going, which I did, only to round the next corner and be confronted with a scene familiar to any fan of wild American police videos - a cop hiding in the bushes with a coiled stinger.

I was so excited, I drove straight over the string he was about to pull to activate the thing, and headed around the bend, where a third policeman beckoned to me with the kind of hand gesture which said "Get a move on you idiot, there's a drug crazed lunatic coming up behind you at 100mph". Which is enough to make anyone put their foot down and speed past a roadblock. I attempted to give the waiting drivers on the other side of the barricade a friendly reassuring look, just in case they thought *I* was the criminal, but fortunately I drive a Skoda, so no one's likely to think it's stolen. Although to the untrained eye I do look quite common.

And that was about it really. I've checked the Ipswich Evening Star website this evening to find out just who was fleeing from the police at high speed through the Suffolk countryside, and whether the stinger successfully punctured their tyres, or merely forced them off the road and into the nearby executive barn conversion, but sadly the Evening Star seem to be going with "Fury Over Scaffolding Bungle" and "Dozens of Litterbugs Fined". So it's possible the police weren't trying to catch a runaway criminal after all. It might just have been the quickest way to stop Griff for an autograph.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

It's a team, Jim, but not as we know it.If you can name this football team, you could already have won a major prize. Unfortunately for our ragtag band of quizzing no-hopers at the Devil's Dyke last night, we couldn't. Which goes some way to explaining why we only came 4th out of five teams. We even failed to win the bottle of wine for best team name. But hey, that's what happens when you allow yourself to be persuaded that (a) 'Can't Buy Me Love' is a cool name for a quiz team, and (b) that everyone will get the satirical reference to Paul & Heather McCartney. Needless to say it wasn't and they didn't.

Personally though, I've always believed it's the taking part that counts. Although that was before I found out they were offering free ice cream for the winners of the picture round, at which point taking part went out the window, and winning became everything. So it was slightly galling when they proceeded to hand us twenty pictures of international football teams (the one above was number 11) and expected us to be able to name them. Naturally we went for all the obvious ones - England, Germany, France... unfortunately the compiler of the quiz chose Costa Rica, Paraguay & Iran. I know ice cream needs to be worked for, but frankly it was ridiculous. Although not as ridiculous as one of the neighbouring teams, who managed to get 20 out of 20. I'm sorry, but anyone who can regognise the Serbia & Montenegro national side without access to the internet is clearly cheating in my book. The country hasn't even existed since Sunday.

But anyhoo, despite our obvious failings, a good time was had by all. Lisa knew the name of Dannii Minogue's character in 'Home & Away', her mother knew that pilchards are a member of the herring family, and our friend L impressed us all by knowing that the dish Belle Helene contains pears. That was just before telling us about his latest adventures on Gaydar ("What you want, when you want it") (although if what you want isn't gay men, you could be disappointed). So he's an expert on more than one type of fruit.

My own personal highlight was the question "Cork comes from which tree?". We all looked blank, so I dived in and suggested the rubber tree. Which was greeted with a certain amount of laughter and derision. I immediately defended myself with the words "Well it's got to be some kind of light wood. It's not going to be oak, or anything like that". Sometimes I really should keep my mouth shut.

But in my defence, I did know the name of the second Carry On film, Steptoe & Son's horse, and that Peter Cook played Richard III in Blackadder, so I think I earned my place.

Anyhoo, we may have failed to win £100, a bottle of wine, and as much ice cream as we could eat, but we have pinpointed the recipe for future success: The winning team had seven members, 2nd had six, 3rd & 4th had four, and the last placed team had two. So next time we're booking a coach.

Monday, May 22, 2006

The good thing about an extended stay at Lisa's is that I get to visit "the best pub in Brighton" two days running. And having enjoyed a lunchtime Diet Coke there on both Thursday and Friday, I'm pleased to report that they're maintaining their consistently high standards. On top of not stocking Bacardi, getting their orange juice in cartons from the shop next door, putting ice cubes in the wine, refusing to repair the leaky roof, and only employing staff who are permanently stoned, they've now reprinted their lunchtime menu with the heading 'Main Caurses'. So presumably the chef's from the west country. We would have sampled one, but unfortunately the top of our table fell off the moment we sat down.

But fully refreshed, I spent Friday afternoon watching a Thomas the Tank Engine Singalong video, building a garage, playing with cars, and then getting in one and going to pick up Lisa's nephew from school. After which I abandoned the infantile activities of Nephew Number Two, and joined Nephew Number One in a violent game of castles, skeletons, and guns which shoot lava. The highlight of the afternoon, however, was the discovery that Nephew Number Two, who's still a good two months from his third birthday, can do a word-perfect rendition of the Ian Dury classic, 'Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick'. You haven't lived until you've seen a toddler walking down the street inviting complete strangers to hit him.

Saturday was a more muscially frustrating day, as I discovered on the internet that Finland had been backed in from 25-1 to win the Eurovision Song Contest, to just 8-1, and that Eurovision insiders were viewing them as a dead cert. So I logged in to my betting account to lay down the rent money, promptly found out what the Fins looked like, immediately got cold feet, and backed out of placing a bet. Needless to say I was not a happy bunny come Saturday night.

Sunday brought with it good news though. Apparently Brighton & Hove City Council are requesting that all the open-plan kitchens in the block of flats I'm hoping to move into, are closed off in the name of fire prevention. It's good to know they care. Unfortunately the kitchen in my flat-to-be looks like this...

... so if the council have their way, I'll be officially cooking in a cupboard. But on the bright side, more walls means more wall space to hang pictures of Lisa, which can only be a good thing.

Anyhoo, today's an exciting day, as we're heading back to the Devil's Dyke tonight to claim our rightful place amongst the pub quiz elite. After being robbed of victory two months ago by my refusal to listen to a word Lisa says, we've learned from our mistakes, and are going back full of confidence, and ready to claim the £100 prize. Possibly without cheating. Although Tecwen Whittock's not returning my calls, so we're taking the gay primary school teacher again.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Don't Mess With TexasWell we made it to Texas last night, as this dodgy photo completely fails to prove, and much like our last trip to Texas, I've come back tired, drained, and without nearly enough souvenirs. But the good news is that Lisa and I managed to continue our fine tradition of always being seated next to the nutters at the Brighton Centre. I knew we were going to get a good'un when Lisa looked at the empty seat next to us after the support act, and said "If no one arrives in the next two minutes, we can put our coats there". Which is what's called tempting fate. Thirty seconds later our new companion arrived, immediately dropped her mobile phone, and started crawling around on the floor between Lisa's knees, whilst announcing her determination to have a good time. Although personally I felt she didn't get going until three songs into the gig, when she started slapping her thighs in time to the music.

As it happened though, the woman faced stiff competition in the form of a couple of middle-aged lesbians two rows in front, who ingratiated themselves to the whole of the south balcony by doing an advanced aerobics routine throughout most of the concert. By the encore they were practically doing star jumps. Which makes their shared weight problem all the more surprising. They were in row E anyway, which was kind of appropriate as they'd clearly taken one that evening.

As for Texas, well as long as they stuck to the music, they were very good. Unfortunately Sharleen Spiteri, who's clearly let herself go, and was looking slightly podgy in black leggings and a pair of wellies, insisted on chatting to people in the front row between every song, and swearing like a trooper for no apparent reason. I don't mind a quick intro to a song, but after you've sat through five minutes of tedious chat about Scotland, football, and the keyboard player's love of Elton John for the tenth time that night, your patience does begin to wear a little thin. I've never heckled anyone in my life, but I was THIS close (yes, THAT close) to shouting "GET ON WITH IT!!!"

But putting aside my newfound personal hatred of Sharleen Spiteri, the evening was a success. Particularly thanks to the support act - The Upper Room (not to be confused with The Upper Room, who are slightly more religious), a local band from Brighton who are clearly destined for greatness (no, really). It reminded me of when I went to see to see Matchbox Twenty three years ago, only to see them completely outshone by the unknown support band - a certain Maroon 5. Six months later Maroon 5 were at the top of the album charts, and Matchbox Twenty were back doing the nightshift in Tescos (figuratively speaking).

Anyhoo, despite all looking like they were about 12 years old and really shouldn't have been up so late, The Upper Room were excellent. I particularly liked the song 'Kill, Kill, Kill'. It was a touching ballad. So when they're superstars in six months time, and chatting to June Sarpong on a regular basis, remember - you heard of them here first.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Well I ordered the blue strings online at 2pm yesterday afternoon, and they arrived at 7am this morning. You've gotta love the internet. Unfortunately I've just opened the box and found this leaflet inside:

Strings Attached
So they're extremely hardwearing and will last forever... but the colour's likely to wear off in two hours. Marvellous.

And since when has colorizing been a word?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Fantastic news! I failed to win so much as a penny on the Monday Lottery last night. Standing OvationAnd not only that, but I proved surprisingly lacking in good fortune when it came to the 'Draw for the Unlucky' too. Who'd have thought it. So that's me £5 nearer the poorhouse, and sufferers of hideous skin diseases 30p nearer a cure. I know who I feel more sorry for.

But to cheer myself up I've just been browsing for guitar strings on the internet, and in news of the most exciting kind, I've found that Strings Direct are now stocking a new brand of wiry thing. To explain the significance of this discovery, you need to know that my current guitar looks like this...

Strapping... and the strap I subsequently bought for it (£5.99 from Music World in Ipswich - bargain), looks like this. Notice the startling colour similarity.

So imagine my delightNo Strings Attached (no, go on, try) to discover that it's now possible to buy guitar strings which look like this. They're called 'Extra Life Peacock Blue', and last longer than the average string, presumably because no one in their right mind would take them out of the packet. But naturally that hasn't stopped me ordering a set.

On the downside, wearing jeans and playing my guitar outside on a clear day could now result in me disappearing altogether, but on the plus side [very bad pun coming up] they'll be perfect for playing the blues. It's just a shame my favourite colour's red. Oh, and anyone who says they look more turquoise than blue will find themselves immediately struck off my Christmas card list.

Anyhoo, despite having been home for less than a week, I'm back down to Brighton tomorrow to pick up Lisa for our second trip to Texas this year. Unfortunately this one features less transatlantic flying, and more catching a bus to the Brighton Centre. It might not be so glamorous, but there should be fewer people with guns.

And on the subject of music, it's a well known fact that I'm down with the kids, so I happened to see the first showing of Fatboy Slim's new video just after midnight on Channel 4 last night. I couldn't tell you the name of the song, or even hum a line from the chorus, but I have to say it's just about the most jaw-dropping four minutes of television you're ever likely to see. Unless they show a repeat of that penis enlargement programme from a couple of months ago.

It features a man and his three balls, which is typical late-night Channel 4, but it's what he did with them that was amazing. Fortunately I've tracked him down, and his name's Chris Bliss. More intriguing still is that judging by this link, it appears the video was only filmed last Wednesday, so Channel 4 did well to get hold of it so quickly. Mind you, I don't suppose there was a lot of post-production to do - the whole thing looks like it was shot on a budget of about £2.50.

But anyway... if, like me, the thought of sitting through an hour of June Sarpong on a Saturday morning just to see a Fatboy Slim video fills you with uncontrollable dread, you can see the same remarkable act performed here. It's enough to inspire me to get out my balls and start tossing.

Monday, May 15, 2006

I take it all back about those local children. They're currently rolling a Tigger on wheels back and forth along the path outside my living room window, and making enough noise to drown out Joe Pasquale on The Price is Right (which, to be fair, isn't entirely unwelcome). I wouldn't mind, but Tiggers are meant to bounce, not travel by go-kart. They need to study the source text more carefully.

But that aside, I've just received one of my regular e-mails from the Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich, informing me of their latest upcoming productions, and generously inviting me to attend one of them in exchange for some money. They've just finished a bit of Arthur Miller starring Dr Legg from Eastenders, so I was naturally excited to see what they have planned next, and let's just say I wasn't disappointed. Starting Friday, they're offering the residents of rural Suffolk the chance to see 'Life of a B-Boy', which may sound like the biography of a young apiarist, but is in fact "an exciting collaboration between Hip Hop theatre visionary Benji Reid, leading UK scratch DJ G Kut and top UK B-boys Mouse, Steady and Chimp."

I wonder if those are their given names? Funnily enough, I've never liked the name Benji, but it still seems better than being called Mouse, Steady or Chimp. Especially Chimp. Lisa would have nothing to do with me.*

Being down with the kids, I happen to know that a B-boy is a breakdancer. Not, perhaps, the most popular pastime in Suffolk. Or, as the Wolsey Theatre website puts it, "ticket availability is good".

In other news, I completed a fine hat-trick on Saturday night by failing to get any numbers whatsoever in the National Lottery for the third week running. Which wouldn't be so bad were it not for the fact that I only started playing three weeks ago. So as of this afternoon, I've diversified, and have now registered to play the new Monday Lottery, as advertised by the bloke who sounds like Harry H Corbett in Steptoe & Son.

You get to choose which charity you support, so I'm proud to announce that I'm now personally funding research into Epidermolysis Bullosa. Which I think is the beef equivalent of pork crackling. A worthy cause if ever I saw one.

But the best news is that the Monday Lottery features a 'Draw for the Unlucky'. If you support all five charity lotteries in one week and fail to win a prize (something I've demonstrated a bit of a flair for), you're automatically entered into an extra draw for the chance to win 26 grand. That money's as good as mine.

* She has an irrational fear of monkeys. No, seriously. Apparently it's all down to being accosted on Brighton seafront as a child by a photographer with a couple of primates in kipper ties. Or something.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Things I'll Miss About Shotley Gate When I Move to Brighton, #3:

The fact that less than half an hour after a major downpour, complete with thunder and hailstones, the local children are out there at the back of my flat, drawing a big smiley face in the wet blossom.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Wildlife CorridorIt's all very well building one, but can wildlife even use a corridor?? How do they open the firedoors? And do they know you're meant to walk on the left to avoid collisions? It's political correctness gone mad.

But anyhoo, I went for a walk yesterday down by the river (I'm back in Shotley Gate by the way, before anyone starts wondering which river flows through Brighton), and the area now seems to be plastered with signs declaring that it's taking part in "the DEFRA Entry Level Stewardship Scheme". Which makes it sound like it's doing an Open University course. I've no idea what it means (and I can't be bothered to find out), but the important thing is that nobody saw me clambering all over the wildlife corridor in an attempt to take that photo.

BedfellowsIn other, more important news, it's my Big Sis's birthday today, so to celebrate, here's a photo of us in bed together. It was taken on our cruise in February, which is why there's a slight look of pain and despair in my eyes, but I'd just got back from the all-you-can-eat buffet, so I was putting a brave face on it. I couldn't possibly reveal Sis's age here, but suffice it to say she's now officially mid thirties. As is Lisa. Unlike myself, who's still very much early thirties, and planning to stay that way for a good while yet. Although judging by the reaction of one of Sis's work colleagues when I told him I'm younger than she is, that grey hair and haggard look is doing me no good at all.

Anyway, HAPPY BIRTHDAY BIG SIS! I've bought you a hammock. Unfortunately it weighs more than the maximum baggage allowance on British Airways, so you can't actually take it home with you. But hey, it's the thought that counts.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The trouble with having parents is that they keep things, wait until you've forgotten about them, and then present them to you sixteen years later in return for looking after your cat. Which explains why I'm now in possession of this newspaper clipping from page 9 of the Basildon Evening Echo (one of Fleet Street's finest), dated Friday, March 16th, 1990. The irony is that I can remember being very pleased with that photo. I'm slightly less pleased with it now.

But anyhoo, the concise, informative, and wholly inaccurate accompanying article poses a number of questions...

The first three I didn't know the answers to then, and I still don't now. But the main one is why Mr Gregory, a tracksuited P.E. teacher who I'd never even spoken to, let alone been taught by, was claiming to be an English master in the local press. And having made it to the dizzy heights of official quiz show spokesman, he then completely failed in his job by stating that we'd been nominated by the school, when in reality they'd asked the whole sixth form, and only found half a dozen people stupid enough to volunteer. Which explains why I made the shortlist, despite being someone who'd always hated geography, didn't do it at GCSE, and barely knew the capital of France. Which in turn explains why we lost.

But still, you know you went to a good school when they start boasting to the papers that Anglia TV have "laid on a bus" to take you to Norwich.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Sunday in Brighton was warm, still and sunny. Monday, in contrast, was grey, cold and drizzly. So guess which day I chose to throw a surprise picnic for Lisa (that's if it's possible to throw a picnic, surprise or otherwise)? Let's just say it wasn't Sunday. But the good thing about buying picnic supplies from Asda in the pouring rain is that there's no competition for the sausage rolls. It might also explain why they'd reduced their 20-piece plastic picnic sets to just £2.43, which is a bargain in anyone's book. I spent more than that on the scotch eggs. Well ok, I didn't. But I wanted to.

Anyhoo, I spent the morning loading up on supplies whilst simultaneously praying for sunshine, and eventually came away from Asda at 11:45am with enough food to hold a buffet for ten, and the most important component of any picnic - lashings of ginger beer. Which I don't actually like. But I like the idea of it. Along with potted meat and hard boiled eggs. Which I didn't buy. I was, however, tempted to knock on the door of a nearby farm, and ask the farmer's wife for some milk. But in the end I thought of Fred Barras, and decided against it.

Fortunately, by the time I met Lisa from work at midday, the rain had stopped, and I'm sure the biting north wind had died down a little. Or maybe my face was just numb by that point. I could tell Lisa was both surprised and bitterly disappointed not to be heading to the pub for her lunch hour, but I didn't let that put me off, and besides, she hadn't seen the ginger beer at that point.I didn't take this photo.
So I confidently drove her to the pitch & putt course overlooking Roedean Girl's School, which always reminds me of Mallory Towers. What better place for a picnic (if you ignore the threat posed by flying golf balls).

I'm pretty sure Lisa's excitement was growing as I took out a load of napkins and started sweeping the large pools of water off the bench at the top of the hill, but just to be sure, I pointed out that the seat bore a plaque dedicating it to a dead pensioner who used to sit there. It was the icing on an already perfect cake.

So we spent an enjoyable 45 minutes looking at the view and eating sausages with our coats on, whilst wondering what the driver of a nearby coach was doing wandering about in the bushes. It took me approximately half that time to get into a packet of goat's cheese with a blunt plastic knife, and open a bottle of low-alcohol wine with a 47p Smart-Price corkscrew, but I successfully distracted Lisa with a Cadbury's Flake dessert, so I don't think she really noticed.

A close encounter with a grass-cutting tractor later, and I brushed the flies from the goat's cheese, picked a beetle out of my wine, and returned Lisa to work, another romantic surprise successfully accomplished. Although next time I think we'll just go to the pub.

Monday, May 08, 2006

The artist John Constable claimed this to be "the grandest view in the world". But let's face it, he spent half his life painting wooden carts near Shotley Gate, so he probably had low standards. But this is where Lisa and I spent yesterday afternoon - the Devil's Dyke. Near Fulking. The signs to which have been noticeably defaced. Let's just say they no longer contain the letter L. But anyhoo, having visited the Devil's Dyke three times before - twice in the dark and once in thick fog - I'm finally able to say at the fourth attempt that the view is very nice. Apparently on a clear day you can see the Isle of Wight. Well you can if you don't follow Lisa's example and just lie there with your eyes shut for two hours.

Anyhoo, needless to say I'm back in Brighton, and the breaking news is that the flat next door to the one my brother's trying to buy has added window boxes to every sill, and planted pretty flowers, thereby brightening up the whole block. Which will make it all the more annoying when the sale falls through. So with that in mind, my mother came down on Saturday, and the three of us toured another five flats looking for a viable alternative. It would have been seven, but properties in Brighton are currently selling approximately five minutes after coming onto the market, so two appointments were cancelled within hours of being made.

But the five flats we saw were nice. If you're a midget with agoraphobia. If however you're of average size, with a dislike of living in a cupboard, and you'd quite like to be able to park your car within half a mile of your home, you might have one or two problems. But that said, we did see one flat we liked, of a reasonable size, and in a good location. It's just a shame the owners accepted someone else's offer about an hour before we got there.

So following an afternoon of hapless estate agents struggling to get keys to work, and trying to show ten people around a shoebox at the same time, Lisa and I retired to The Katarina at Brighton Marina, where we relaxed whilst watching a drunk attack the barman with a chair. Fortunately his girlfriend stepped in, and the chair which flew across the bar in my general direction, missed both me and the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire machine, so I didn't let it stop me ordering an ice cream dessert. The barman looked like he was about to burst into tears, but that might just have been a reaction to the amount of food I was ordering.

From there we made our way up onto the balcony opposite, where we watched the same drunk taking his revenge by attempting to steal all the patio furniture from outside the Beefeater. He was last seen walking off into the sunset with a table in one hand and a chair in the other. So at least he'd be welcome at a barbecue.

Sunday afternoon was far more relaxing though, admiring the views over the Sussex countryside, and trying to avoid being hit by a stunt kite. It was so nice, in fact, that Lisa suggested we buy a tent and never leave. Which if things continue the same way on the flat-buying front, might be our only option.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

I do like an amusing shop name. Even if I don't like coffee. I was going to suggest this one for inclusion in the next edition of Shop Horror, but having scrolled through the message board, I've realised I can't compete with fish & chip shops called 'Salt n Battery' and 'Wholly Mackerel', so I haven't bothered. I think I'll return instead to my campaign to persuade the canine clothing shop in Brighton to rename themselves 'Doggy Style'.

But anyhoo, I had a property inspection yesterday morning by my never-less-than-useless letting agents, so naturally I vacated my flat for five hours in an attempt to avoid having to answer any awkward questions about the brown stain on the ceiling. Which is what led me to Felixstowe and the Froffee Coffee encounter. Whilst there, I took the opportunity to trawl the charity shops for bargains, and ended up spending a pound on the Bruce Willis film 'Unbreakable', primarily because the video case was broken. It's little things like that which make me laugh.

I'm also on the verge of being nominated for a community service award, after impressing the staff of the Red Cross Shop with an outstanding display of honesty. They were selling videos for £1.30, buy one get one free, so I chose two ('The Best of Frasier', and 'Signs', coincidentally by the same writer/director as 'Unbreakable', so if that's not a sign, I don't know what is), plus the PC game Max Payne for £3. Unfortunately the two old dears on the counter, who were somewhat distracted by their quest to inform all the customers that the weather was indeed lovely, and that Thursday would be even hotter, failed to spot the difference between a video and a PC game, and told me to go and get another one, as they were buy one get one free.

I pointed out their mistake, and the ladies (who are clearly used to being fleeced on a daily basis) were so taken aback that they began to declare me the most honest man they'd ever met. This level of awe then increased dramatically when they saw the price of the PC game, and couldn't believe I was actually willing to pay an extra £1.70, rather than keeping quiet and pocketing the difference. Although to be fair, it did cross my mind.

On the downside, I was forced to stand there for a good two minutes while they sang my praises (not literally, although it was touch and go at one point), and told me that these days everyone rips off charity shops, and I'm basically a living saint, and the natural successor to Mother Theresa. To be honest, they were probably just hoping I'd let them keep the 70p change. Which was their first mistake. I may be a living saint, but I'm not stupid.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

As it turns out, those shaven pussy pictures (oh the search engine hits I'll get for that) constituted my 800th blog post, and I didn't even realise. Possibly because I was distracted by an e-mail I've just received through my website, which poses two important questions. The first is a simple "How u doing?", but the second is altogether deeper:

"I have moved here from a large town and I think this place is fucked up. U agree?"

Personally I think it's hard to say. It's true that the village has come out as homosexual in the past year, and there are a lot of hoes and hores in the area, not to mention talented playwrights. But I think I'd describe the place as loved up, rather than... um... anything else. Although it's true I'm trying to leave as soon as possible.

Anyway, the author of this e-mail concludes with a P.S.: "I am currently drunk so ignore the content of this Email". Which is great, because it means I don't have to reply. If only everyone who gets in touch could follow that example.

But back to his first question - "How u doing?". As it happens, I'm slightly frazzled at the moment, due to a triple-pronged attack of stress-inducing pressures (or a quadruple-pronged attack, if you count the fact that The Matrix clashed with Wife Swap last night, and I couldn't decide which one to watch). I've spent the bank holiday weekend attempting to create a 23-page website in 48 hours, due to the fact that I only had a 2-day subscription to Wordtracker, and I fundamentally objected to spending another £4.20 on a further 24 hours of keyword research. So I worked a 14 hour day on Sunday instead. (Isn't Sunday supposed to be a day of rest?). It made sense at the time.

Added to that is the fact that the purchase of my new flat in Brighton has unexpectedly stalled, and is currently threatening to fall through altogether. Meaning I'm all packed up with nowhere to go, and the Texas concert at the Brighton Centre on May 17th, which I naturally assumed would, by then, be taking place in my home town, now doesn't fit in with mine and Lisa's regular weekends together.

And neither does June 3rd, for which I also assumed I'd be living in Brighton. It wouldn't matter, were it not for the fact that I've had a secret 2-year anniversary surprise booked for June 3rd since the middle of February. Well, I say secret. It was a secret until Lisa suggested on Sunday night that we don't see each other on June 3rd, thus forcing me to reveal that I have plans.

Which brings me to stress-inducing attack number three: I'm being badgered on an hourly basis by an over-excited Lisa, desperate to know what we're doing on June 3rd. And I've got another month of this. I may have to stop answering the phone.