Volume 3 – Chapter 120: Awkward

Tonight, the bus home smelt of weed.

Not the smell of someone who had weed, but of weed.

I know this because a) the bus smelt of weed; and b) two girls got on and said “This bus fucking smells of weed. Someone on this bus has got weed. It fucking smells of weed.” So that pretty much cleared that up.

That was made a lot more fun by the fact that they were actually sitting next to the person on the bus who had the weed. And things because a little bit awkward for a while.

When I was at Uni, I was once in a computer lab. I was doing important work, I’m sure, and not just nobbing about on the internet chat rooms of old. Ok, I was just nobbing around on the internet chat rooms of old. Chat rooms which, incidentally, were all shut down shortly after two kids who used the chat rooms went on a murderous rampage in Columbine. They didn’t use our chat room, mind, because my friend Justin would have tried to chat them up…

So, I was in the computer lab and had the privilege of watching a man cutting the heads off pictures of female celebrities and gluing them onto naked bodies as though, somehow, that was then a picture of the celebrity in question naked and therefore marvelous to crack off some knuckle children to.

Being immensely cool – we were hanging out in the computer lab, after all – we drew attention to this man very loudly. Pointing out that what he was doing was quite sad, while continuing to chat with people we’d never met and typing things like *smile* and *sad face* because it was so long ago emoticons hadn’t even been invented! I know. Imagine that. *winky face*

We did this for quite some time, until it – like the smell of weed – became awkward and the man mountain who was putting his best Photoshop skills to the test air-brushing the join out of the newly naked Gillian Anderson’s neck started to get a bit stroppy. And he threw his bag over his shoulder, shut down his porn empire and stormed off, throwing some barb back at us about how we were quite sad as well sitting inside on a sunny day chatting on the internet to people in Canada about something-or-other.

And it was a bit like that with the weed on the bus, except that on a bus you can’t really storm off unless you are a) at your stop or b) are confident another bus is coming.

So instead, the weed man sat there, exuding the smell of weed, while the two girls continued to comment on the smell of weed. And it all got more and more awkward until, in a moment of throat-closing genius, the smell of weed was removed from the bus by an over-powering smell of lady spray (which I believe is the technical term for it).

I wanted to say something about that.

But I thought it might get awkward…



Volume 3 – Chapter 119: Twist And Shout

You may remember a while ago, maybe about a month or so, I sneezed quite violently and pulled a muscle in my side. Because that’s the cool way to pull a muscle. Most people pull a muscle doing some sort of athletic activity. I just sneezed quite violently and then was in quite considerable pain for a day or two.

And then it went away.

Well now it’s back.

In more or less the same place.

But I haven’t sneezed this time.

So I’ve done what any sane person wouldn’t do. I’ve diagnosed myself via the internet.

“IF YOU HAVE ANY KIND OF ABDOMINAL PAIN YOU SHOULD SEE A DOCTOR,” scream all the websites you could possibly want to look at it you enter “pain on right side” into Google. Some of them shout that at you and then add “if the pain doesn’t go away within two days.” So that’s cleared that up.

So, what have I done?

Well, first up on the list – it could be my appendix.

I’m fairly sure it isn’t, for a number of reasons. One is that my pain symptoms don’t fit the requirements. It didn’t start at my belly button and move around my body. Nor has the pain been so extreme that it has kept me awake. Carole, on the other hand, managed to keep me awake as, last night, she was partaking in a qualifying heat for the World Fidgeting Championships. I think, based on that performance, she should have made it through to at least the semi-finals with no real competition. Anyway, I wasn’t kept awake by the pain. I mean there was one moment where I rolled over and I had to whisper some swears, but other than that I think I’m fairly safe.

Also, I’m not bent over double with a face like the person in the painting “The Scream”, which is what the internet seems to suggest I would be doing. Which wouldn’t help, really, because yesterday the pain was at it’s best when I was bent over.

So what else could it be? Basically anything.

It could be trapped wind. This would be a new concept for me, I’ll be honest. As I have always been one of those people for whom the wind blows free. I’ve woken myself up with it, I’ve cleared rooms with it, I’ve embarrassed my family in a shopping centre with it.

It could be constipation.

It could be a combination of the two.

It could be a kidney infection.

It could be some kind of colon thing that I can’t remember.

It could be colic.

It could be countless things.

What I think it is, though, is that I’ve managed to better even the violent sneeze when it comes to damaging myself.

I think I’ve managed to twist myself in a funny way while reading a book.

Yeah, even reading a book I’m a danger to myself…


Volume 3 – Chapter 118: Pop Goes The Weasel

“I’m sorry, I won’t be in work tomorrow, I’ve just blown my hand off with the steam cleaner…”

In a parallel universe, that actually happened. If you subscribe to the theory that every decision cleaves off a different universe in which that option was explored then, somewhere out there in all the folds of reality, I have a bloody stump where my right-hand would be.

In this universe, however, I merely said the words “Jesus Fucking H Christ On A Bike!” much louder than I have ever said them in my life ever.

I used the steam cleaner yesterday to give Peppa’s room a blast of steam, to kill fleas and generally sanitise her environment a little bit. While I was doing it, it was noted that – to quote Carole – “the steam smelled funny”. I had dismissed that as being the after-effects of blasting the now-empty cat litter tray with steam and that had merely conjured up every single atom of cat wee smell in the known universe.

It might have been that, or it might have been water and steam slowly buggering up the internal workings of the steam cleaner so that, today, when I plugged it in and turned it on it a) didn’t work and then b) blew up. It’s not the first time something like this has happened – at my parents once, I went for a shower and for some reason it didn’t work so I ended up having a bath. While I was relaxing in the bath the shower blew up with an almighty bang, possibly large enough to start its own universe.

Both of these incidents could be categorised as “brown-trouser” events. However, in one of them I was naked and in the bath, so you can imagine how that went.

I text Carole when the incident occurred, as she was out and about.

She text back. “Ooops. Did it trip the electrics?”

Not, “oh my god, are you alright?”.

Not “Are you ok?”.

Nothing like that.

Just whether it had tripped the electrics. Something that can be fixed by just flicking the switch back up. Whereas my hand, should I have lost it, would have been a bit more of an issue.

It was like the time that I cut my foot and was bleeding and she came to my aid and immediately started washing blood from the carpet or off the kitchen lino while I sat on the couch trying to stop Pumpkin from drinking my blood and thus acquiring a taste for humans…



Volume 3 – Chapter 117: Not Stopping

It’s my dad’s birthday today, so we’ve done the dutiful thing and gone over and seen him and given him a suitably offensive card (because that’s how you express any kind of affection in our family – with insults. It’s also, curiously, how we express any kind of insult as well so, to the untrained eye, it can be hard to tell which is which. But we know) and a present. And on the way back we swung in to see Carole’s family and drop off a card for Natalie.

“If they are in we’ll tell them we’re not stopping long,” says Carole as we pull up onto the drive. This is because we have decided that now the weather has settled down a bit and seems to be settled on some kind of sunny but a bit nippy mix, we could spend a couple of hours in the garden before tea just generally tidying up and getting this straightened out. This is, in part, due to our own pride, but it’s also to due with new-next-door being quite proud of her garden (she spent about three hours mowing her small patch of grass the other day) despite owning the tackiest garden ornaments in the known universe.
“Okay,” says I, just going along with things, as I generally do. Because it’s easier.

So we get there, we go into the house, we drop off the card.

“Would you like a coffee,” asks Carole’s dad. You have not met a man who enjoys the act of making a coffee more.
“We can’t really Dad,” says Carole. “We’re not really stopping, we want to get back and make a start on the garden.”
“Ok, how about an ice cream?”

Oh yeah, we’ll have an ice cream. We’re not stopping. We have that garden thing that we’ve discussed. We need to crack on with that. We’re not stopping long enough for a coffee. But we can have an ice cream. You know the song – Just one Cornetto. Give it to me. We’re  not stopping. We have things to do.

Needless to say, we didn’t get any gardening done.

The ice cream was lovely though.

Although I can’t help thinking it would have been much better with a coffee.



Volume 3 – Chapter 116: Hello, Is It Me You’re Looking For?

The other night I said “hi” to someone I didn’t even know.

I wasn’t being overly polite or anything, I didn’t know them from Adam (or Eve, technically, as it was a girl)  but I thought she said “hello” to me, and because of that I assumed that maybe she was someone who lived on our street who I didn’t recognise, or someone I had known from work, or something like that.

It was none of that.

She was talking on her phone, hands free.

There’s no coming back from that, really.

It’s not like when you run for a bus and miss it and you can pretend that you were running past the bus stop, or stop as if you’ve got a stitch or whatever else you do. I don’t know because it’s only on a very, very rare occasion that I will run for public transport. Generally I find that I’m not that bothered to get where I’m going that I need to run for it. In fact, I’ve said that if anyone ever catches me running for the train home, like one of the seething mass of people you see in Leeds station, that they’re to take me to one side and slap me hard.

Or when you fall asleep on public transport and your head lolls forward, jolting you awake, and to cover up the fact that you’ve just done that you pretend that your neck has a crick in it and you’re stretching it like Danny Glover in a Lethal Weapon film. Obviously this technique doesn’t work if, as you jolt awake, you have thrown a hardback book across the train aisle, but you can still give it a go.

You can even pull it back if you’ve accidentally waved at someone who you didn’t know. You can pretend you were stretching, or reaching to scratch an itch or whatever. Something convincingly limb-related and you’ve got away with that. Maybe waving away a wasp. There possibilities are endless.

But actually speaking to someone… there’s not really any way you can palm that off as never having happened.  You’ve basically just talked to someone who said hi, but wasn’t actually talking to you they were just chatting on the phone. All you can do is ignore the funny look the give you and walk past them incredibly fast while trying not to a) die of shame or b) laugh at yourself too much.

I suppose you could always pretend to be on a phone call of your own…

I’ve just thought of that now.

That’s annoying.