Monday, December 29, 2008


The road less travelled

Leon and I went up to Manchester for a Saturday night reunion piss-up with Real Osaka team mates Mark Bailey (back from Osaka for a Xmas visit) and Tom Dylan (now a local councillor, although I'm a little unclear as to the locale.)

The journey up was frustratingly slow, but not too fraught as we were in fine spirits. I didn't much fancy the prospect of the M6 on the way home, though. Therefore, I dug out my slightly-damp atlas from the boot of the car, entrusted it to Leon, and bade him navigate us a route back.

"Dan, I thought you said this atlas was damp? It's soaking."

He did a good job getting us home, though: we came back on winding roads through the Peak District, which took hours upon hours, but was a great deal more soothing for the soul than going through Staffordshire at 25 mph on a three-lane motorway.

Somewhere up a hill in the peak district
Somewhere up a hill in the Peak District

photo of Leon looking gormless
Leon glad to be wearing his coat inside the car

view of god-forsaken hills
A view that bests that of the RAC centre, as seen from the M6

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Katelyn- you've redeemed yourself

Note to all those of you who like to flaunt your individuality: time and a place.

My sister, Kate, had a bit of a run of poor form over festive seasons by choosing for me presents which expressed her individuality, rather than conforming to any kind of reasonable expectation of criteria for being something I might actually want.

The nadir of this sequence was when, standing there with some kind of ethnic bottle-top rattle in my hand and Kate to one side with a hopeful "does-he-like-it?" expression on her face, I was unable to come up with anything more diplomatic than:

"Katelyn, you've ruined Christmas."

Years went by and the situation improved, although I was a little worried about this year's gift as Kate had broken a fine streak of form in recent years by getting me an Indiana Jones-themed Mr Potato HeadTM for my 30th birthday.

Mr Potato Head- well worth flying back to the UK for

As it turned out, I got a lovely Dandy mug-and-keyring set and a set of toiletries. Joe got toiletries likewise.

"Well done for getting Dan some too- now he can keep his filthy, thieving hands off mine."

I was about to protest the injustice of this when Kate beat me to it:

"Actually, Joe, I got both of you toiletries so you could keep your filthy, thieving hands off his."

Joe was outraged:

"What?! I'm outraged."

My Christmas was complete.

NOTE: At time of posting, Joe is wearing my Christmas boxer shorts, despite having been given a pack of five pairs of boxers of his own.



I am frequently given to wondering how- and how much- my years spent away have changed me

Flamineo: this duke's service,
I visited the court, whence I return'd
More courteous, more lecherous by far,
But not a suit the richer.

The White Devil

John Webster


Thursday, December 25, 2008


Just in case you're wondering how your house burnt down this Christmas

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Some 7,000 jumbo-sized snow globes were recalled by Hallmark Cards Inc. because the holiday decorations can act as a magnifying glass when exposed to sunlight and ignite nearby combustible materials, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said on Tuesday.

The snowman-shaped snow globes were sold in October and November at Hallmark Gold Crown stores nationwide for about $100 each.

The consumer agency said Hallmark has received two reports of the snow globes igniting nearby materials but no injuries have been reported.

Jumbo snow globes + sunlight = consumer hazard


Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Ebeneezer Scrooge has added you as a friend

According to Facebook, I'm not really entering into the spirit of things:

You have no more group invitations.
You have no more snowball fight! requests.
You have no more council estate gifts requests.
You have no more event invitations.

You will not be attending Christmas.


Thursday, December 18, 2008


The significance of the Christmas decs

When last I spent Christmas in the UK, the mum had a trip to Barcelona booked midway through December.

While she was away, I went round her house and decorated it for the festive season as a surprise for her return, earning myself much goodwill: so much, in fact, that six years later on the mum still remembers it fondly, even though I initially drew a complete blank when she mentioned it to me the other day.

It just goes to show: a judicious tenner in Wilkinsons at Christmas can take the sting off many a missed Mother's Day.

Another time, another house: it fell upon me to put the decs up in the back room this year. I was equipped with twelve baubles and five gaudy scroll thingies which were to be suspended from the ceiling by various lengths of cotton.

I made a big production of allocating each bauble a sign of the Chinese zodiac, and arranging them with the five scrolls representing the five elements. (That's right: I said five.)

I think Joe and Mum cottoned on to the fact that I was just sticking the things up any old how, but it didn't hurt to weave a little myth making into the process.

As usual, our levity bordered somewhat on the rancorous:

JOE: You've only stuck that pin halfway in, you weakling!

ME: I'll stick my ---- all the way up your ---- in a minute.

MUM: Daniel!!!

Judging by Joe's delighted reaction, I'd say he's had worse offers.

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Saturday, December 13, 2008


Peace and goodwill to *all* mankind

The mum is participating in Amnesty International's thing about sending Christmas cards to people in Guantanamo Bay.

Very worthy: unfortunately, Amnesty has sent her a list of three people to send to and she is a card short, she sighs.

I cannot imagine the festive season being vastly improved for an inmate by a non-religious card from the mum, given the whole incarceration business and whatnot, but I offer her my last card.

"Would you like to write it?" she offers.

"Sure," I say, "what's the enemy of freedom's name?"

She says something that sounds like "Bin Yam-Yam" but I'm sure there's a "Mohamad" in there somewhere as well. Suddenly, it seems like hard work.

"He's your suicide bomber", I sigh, tossing her my last card. "You write the bloody thing."


Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Of pork, pickle and pillocks

Had to cart the mum off to the doctor's this morning. She has some kind of virus that makes her walk like a zombie; possibly an immature strain of whatever it is that crops up in Dawn of the dead. I don't know.

I did my Christmas cards in the waiting room, then went to do some shopping while the mum was waiting to have her prescription filled in the chemists.

"Large pork pie, please."

"Would you like the pork, or the pork and pickle?"

I gave this undue consideration.

"Hmmm. What's the difference?"

"Well," he began, shortly prior to continuing.

For a second I was back in Japan. He having fully explained the difference to me, I neglected to explain irony to him; the mum was waiting.


Thursday, December 04, 2008


Small victories

Went off to a pub quiz last night with Joe, Tel and Lewis in tow. We were going to join forces with the dad, but, as he had a bunch of mates already with him, this would have meant a stupidly large team. We set ourselves up in opposition, in spite of his threats and blandishments.

In honour of the dad, I chose our team name.

"Fin's round?" queried the quizmaster.

"No, Fin's round," I insisted.

On to the first half of the quiz and we were an absolute nightmare, scoring zero for the sports round (oh, the shame.) The dad loved that one.

"Showing your inexperience, lads," he chortled as I screwed up which British PM was nicknamed "the Grocer."

I gnashed my teeth.

We got to the last round, which coincided with last orders at the bar. We took our paper up to the bar with us, so we could fill out answers and order booze at the same time. First question, for four points: name all four members of the Fantastic Four. Easy: Reed Richards, Sue Storm, Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm.

The quizmaster made it easier still by announcing that all that was required was their superhero names. I shook my head.

Over came Tel.

"I think your dad's team may struggle with this one: I just heard them putting down Wolverine."

We all had a good snigger at this, although it later transpired that they'd had Mr Incredible down on the sheet at one point.

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008


Werdz once more

In his eighteenth year, Heracles left the cattle ranch and set out to destroy the lion of Cithaeron, which was havocking the herds of Amphitryon...

The Greek Myths
Robert Graves


Havoc as a verb: I'm already using it more often; next, I'm going to start doing it more often.


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