Total Recall

In many respects, I am a forgetful person. I am particularly bad when it comes to things-you’re-not-supposed-to-talk-about. In the presence of emotionally charged friends and family, I’ve found that taboo subjects rise to my lips like bubbles in a soda glass, and are often popped only just in time.

But I’m good with anniversaries. I mean really good. I plan for them weeks, sometimes months in advance. I can recall the specifics of the day we’re remembering and tailor the anniversary to suit. Emily and I went to the movies on the day we met and this was something we used to do every May bank holiday, although these days we’re more likely to rent a DVD. For a while, we would celebrate the day we met (5th May) and the day we became engaged (5th November, six months later) until she said this was overkill. Now we mark the day, but no longer send cards. An exception is made our wedding anniversary, which is still fussed over appropriately, regardless of how we actually celebrate it.

My sense of recall is very much long-sighted. I can’t remember dentist appointments or things I was supposed to do in town that afternoon. If Emily sends me to the supermarket I can use a list but can never remember if we usually buy salted or unsalted butter, or whether the soy sauce should be dark or light. If there is a day I need to book as annual leave, she has to remind me at least three times. The only way I can prep for the school run is from a printed list that I have to go over again and again, and when leaving the house I can never remember if I’ve locked the door, to the extent that I’ll frequently hang a U at the end of the road so that I can come back and check. I am hopeless. On the other hand I can remember exact conversations from over a decade ago, along with what song was playing and what the other person was wearing. Without having to look it up, I know that we saw Moonwalker in the summer of 1989 and not in 1988, as my mother insists. I can recollect chalet numbers from holidays we took before I hit puberty. Like Rob Fleming / Gordon in High Fidelity I have tinkered with ordering my album collection autobiographically, and I can recall where I was when we bought childhood toys and books I gave away long ago. My inner geek knows no bounds, and Emily has, over the years, come to accept that I’m better at this than she is.

My ability to remember on what day certain things happened – and how they happened – is a handy one, but sometimes even I make mistakes. It was last Friday evening, and although I can no longer remember why, everything was going wrong. We had reached the end of a long, hard week: tempers were frayed, children were tired, adults on the verge of tears. I can’t remember if it was just me who was upset, or whether Emily was mirroring my emotional state, but at a given point she disappeared from the house announcing “Going to the shops”.

I resumed washing up. Five minutes later she was back, standing at the kitchen door, carrying a large gift bag. I opened it: inside, a bottle of red wine and a large box of Cadbury’s Milk Tray. She was smiling.

“For our special day,” she said.

Emily tells me that my face at this point was a mixture of surprised pleasure and utter bewilderment: a rabbit trapped in headlights that don’t come from a car but from an enormous golf buggy driven by other rabbits. I looked from her to the bag and back again and tried to steal a glance at the wall calendar.

“23rd November?” I stammered, after a moment, frantically trying to recall what had obviously slipped my mind.

“Yes,” came the reply. “The day you will always remember as the day you nearly suffered a heart attack because you thought you’d forgotten an anniversary.”

Evil. Lovely gesture, but evil.

Terms of endearment

The Daily Mail have run a story this morning about a Facebook page set up in tribute to Dale Cregan, who is currently under arrest for the murder of a couple of policewomen.

Idolatory like this is sickening – I’m in no doubt about that – but this is what stuck out for me.

And, later on –

To which I’d reply No, no, no, no.

This is not trolling. Trolling is – if we’re going with the Wikipedia definition – “someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as a forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion”.

You see? Chucking random abuse at people online isn’t trolling. Trolling is where you go into a discussion and deliberately post stuff you don’t really mean for the sole purpose of winding people up. You go into a holocaust discussion, for example, and post a lot of stuff about exaggeration theories or Zionist conspiracy. You know such arguments aren’t exactly airtight, but if anyone points that out you’ll just ignore them and post the same responses over and over again, purely to watch them steam. Or you enter a Doctor Who chat and say how much the show sucks and you can’t believe that people enjoy this garbage, offering no expansion to support your opinion. These people are annoying, but such trolling is rarely done out of genuine hatred, and is instead a timewasting activity by those who want to purport malicious mischief. Still, that’s all it is.

Therefore, sending abusive messages like this isn’t trolling. It’s hating. If the originator of this page had gone into an online discussion and started making random comments like this, that might arguably be interpreted as trolling. But that’s not the point – the point here seems to be to say horrible things simply because you can. As it stands – and I do wish the Mail would stop with this inappropriate terminology – this person isn’t a troll. Simply a twat.

It’s time to play the music

With Emily, in the middle of a campsite.

“I was a bit confused by the beginning.”
“Well, there’s Gary and Walter, see, and -”
“Yes, but how did they come to be brothers?”
“They just were.”
“Despite the obvious genetic differences.”
“I suspect they were probably half brothers. I imagine it was never talked about.”
“Yes. Because basically, at some point in history their mother shagged a Muppet.”

Meanwhile, back on planet reality

I did a charity shop run over lunch, which involved visiting my local Oxfam. The customers were milling around enquiring on dress prices and their policy on electrical items, but one voice was dominant. I turned and noticed a chap sporting a bright red shirt, Man-from-Del-Monte headpiece, cream slacks and the most amazing moustache you’ll see outside a Victorian melodrama. He was shopping for clothes with a woman who couldn’t possibly have been his partner. I say shopping; I think ‘gallivanting’ might be more appropriate.

As I browsed through the children’s books, he sauntered over to the entrance to the stock room, where pensioners in blouses and cardigans priced up handbags and Dan Brown novels.

“I say!” he called out in an enunciated theatrical voice that was worthy at least of fringe theatre. “You’ve got a veritable Aladdin’s cave in here, ladies. Can I rub your lamp?”

I swear, I didn’t know where to look.

This was not him. But it gives you an idea.

Happy Pasty

My other half gets creative with ketchup, Slimbridge Beer Festival, June 2012.

Red Ed

The stuff people ask on Google scares me.

The Facebook Lyric Game (i)

First, here’s how to do it. Flashback to September 2010, and a friend of mine who was logged on far too early on a Sunday morning…

Stuart: wonders.

Ian: Wa wa wa wa wonders.

Jennifer: Why.. a wa wa wa wa why she went away.

Kit: And I wooooonder, where she will stayeeyay…

James: My little RUNaway, a-RUN RUN RUN RUN, a-RUNaway…

On the lawn

I should probably have fed the cat this morning.

PC McGarry, Number 452

The other week, I parked the car outside the school before a meeting. It was just after lunchtime but the only spot was right by a drive. Thinking about it now, the car was overlapping the flattened kerb by about an inch and a half. It’s possible that the owner of the house might have had difficulty getting into the drive if they’d been driving a tank, or perhaps one of those military landrovers that seem to be fairly common in semi-urban Oxfordshire (situated as we are in close proximity to an army barracks). I mean, I know I stood there and walked up and down the drive three times to measure whether you could get a car in and out, but that’s hardly the point. In any case, if they’d answered their door, upon which I knocked in order to check, I could have moved the damned thing.

But the PCSO around our way is a zealous sort, cycling round the school playground on his bicycle, determined to reach his quota. Technically, I suppose I was in the wrong. At a stretch. If you’re going to quibble. Or, you know, if you have to meet targets.

Anyway, I’ve paid the fine now and ranted about it on Facebook – see below…

Me: Introducing the Police Community Support Officer. The milk monitor of local law enforcement: someone who’s given a little bit of responsibility and lets it go completely to their heads. Wanker.

Matt [brother-in-law]: Have you had a bad experience?

Lisa [friend]: LOL That’s all we have in the village now, as much use as a chocolate teapot, can’t detain anyone even if they do catch them doing something wrong.

Me: There was plenty of room to get in and out of that drive. Unnecessary obstruction my arse.

Emily [spouse]: Oh, I thought it was the car that was causing the obstruction, not your arse. That makes sense now!

Jess [old friend]: Oh dear, I’ve only had positive interactions with our local pcso! But then he was rather good looking and I may have shamelessly flirted…a tip for the future?! 🙂

Me: Good idea. Next time I shall wait for him to come back, and then flash him my tits.

Homer Simpson, eat your heart out

As observed in the local pound shop.

(If any of you are wondering about the Simpsons reference, have a look here.)

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