Saturday, July 31, 2010

I've got a hurty thumb

Today I have been mainly playing retro PS2 games with my younger brogher. This please me, not only because he is the only member of m family happy to bring me cups of tea but because I show significantly more prowess at Gran Turismo (not a game for old people as it sounds) than Crash Bandicoot.

I'm thrilled by this because it shows I pent my childhood learning real skills like go-karting rather than pig-rat herding. When we stopped to wikipedia bandicoots none of them were wearing jeans, which shows us that the game is factually inaccurate.

All of this gaming has led my thumb to hurt quite badly, I think it's the depserate cornering as my Fiat 500 goes flying off a dirt track. Somehow it seemes logical at the time to twist the controller and press the button harder so that it will have more effect. I think this may be a girl thing and if it reaches a point where I start shouting at the car then it's time to stop.

It's a fairly chilled weekend down here in the West Country (which I would shorten to WC but it sounds like I live in a toilet). So far this morning I've been frightened by mum waking me up and then apologising, and I've watched an episode of Lie To Me.

I think Lie To Me (along with House) is brilliant. But something about it baffles me slightly. Basically, for those who haven't seen it, it's about a team of people who can tell when you're lying by your body language. Brilliant. But is it the most annoying programme ever for actualy body language experts?

Do they have to have the creme de la creme of actors in this show so that the body language tey are showing is actually real? And, as a body language expert sitting at home watching it would the acting be all confused by the fact that these are actors and it's all sub a level?!

What if in an episode someone said

"I didn't murder him." And the characters in the show went,
"Yep, he's telling the tuth."

But a real live body language expert at home was watching it and said


and then they would have to have an investigation into whether the actor had murdeed the fictional person or a real person somewhere back in the past...what a scary thought.

Now potentially I'm reading too much into this and real body language experts wouldn't watch it in the same way real entertainers won't watch Britain's Got Talent - because it's sacrilege. It usually turns out that Britain doesn't have talent and that the famous people are famous for a reason. People who get famous via eality TV shows are called "ex-Big Brother contestants" and live in the pages of Heat magazine.

I've got approximately 4 1/2 days left until I head up to Edinburgh and every fibre of being is excited about it. If you're going up I strongly suggest you seek out the following people to go and see as they'll be very funny indeed - The Noise Next Door, Tiernan Douieb, Strong and Wrong, Helen Arney and, well maybe come see Quiz In My Pants if you have time.

Ciao for now from a very relaxed munchkin in her favourite place in the world. Sigh.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Would you like splash back with that?

Last night I got forcibly removed from a gents' toilet. For not a toilet owned by some old men in tweed who hold doors open for people, but a standard toilet for men to use in a restaurant.

I say forcibly, I mean a little waiter man put his head around the door and said 'Madam' and I instantly left. I was in the toilet because it contained the most amazing urinal I've ever seen. It was incredible. An entire wall of water - floor to ceiling waterfall for men to go to town on. What an amazing answer to the uncompromising childish stupidity of men folk. The inventor of this collosus must have sat down and thought through the usual problems of men peeing -

* They do it where they shouldn't,
* They cannot aim,
* No one uses the middle urinal,
* They like to compete...

And come up with this most perfect of all answers! Gone were the miniature white flower pots of widdly capture. And in their place stands a shrine to all interesting ways you could possibly want to splash your wang in public -

Do you want to see how high up a wall you can pee?
USE 'WALL TOILET' for only £9.99 from all Robert Dyas superstores...

Do you want to pretend you're spray painting your name in wee across a wall?
USE 'WALL TOILET' for complete flexibility in your reach and range...

Do you want to pretend you're Daniel Day Lewis in Last of the Mohicans?
USE 'WALL TOILET' but please refrain from jumping in afterwards.

Few things have ever excited me as much as this feat of engineering. Although, it does sadden me a lot that the equivalent for women just wouldn't work. It would have to be a sort of, mini paddling pool on the floor. Which would be very reminiscent of the toddlers area at a swimming pool. No one wants to see lots of middle aged women squatting ankle deep in an amber spa with their John Lewis skirt hitched up around the middle. It's much harder to write your name when peeing as a girl - it's not impossible but you do have to have pretty chipper hips.

Architecture and interior design have reached pretty phenomenal heights when we put this much effort and creativity into wizz recepticals. Will there be a point when men are so bored with their todgers, and marketers so desperate to please them, that urinals will come with attachments so you can choose the force of your spray?

Would you prefer a fine mist or a drizzle?

I can only imagine this leading to an uncomfortable point where it all goes a little too far and they begin giving us play dough shape cutters to make number 2s more interesting too. Children of the next generation will become so fussy that they'll be constipated on cue if mummy hasn't washed up the star shaped poop dispenser to drop the coco pops off at the pool.

Ok, so maybe my imagination runs away a little and we might be spared this rash of irrelevant ablution aids. But did we ever imagine 50 years ago there would be a day when we were addicted to Facebook status updates and children would be so wilfull over what they eat that they're obese at 6?

If we're not careful there will be some very poo filled children in years to come throwing a wobbly in ASDA because 'the one that makes it look like spaghetti' is at home in the dishwasher and he doesn't 'want to do a boring log one'.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

History of the Orange

Did you know that oranges used to be naked fruits?

True story.

Oranges used to be peel-less creatures in the same way that softer fruits are. They also verged on instinction between the years of 1872 to February 1884. The reason for this extinction was that they could no longer protect themselves adequately against bears and foreign objects thrown at them by angry ions in Celtic uniforms during football matches.

The founder of the orange peel as we know it today was an orange called Thomas. Thomas was an adventurous guy, tired of the constant bullying he suffered at the hands of the pears, and, more frequently, the bananas in the playground.

Bananas are self-righteous dickheads to be honest. Not only do they think size matters and that a slight bend is alright, they are also famously proud of their thick skin which allows them to keep out any form of emotion. The banana is, however, absolutely terrified of bruises - particularly the female bananas, as they are the most common cause of 'being left on the shelf.

Well Thomas the orange was getting some serious shit from the bananas one day when he bumped into a seal. Seals are notorious fans of fruit bowls and when given the choice they will choose to inhabit them rather than the sea. Well, Thomas was crying his pips out and there were stringy bits of weird shite stringy stuff weeping out of every orifice.

"What the hell?" Said the seal, kindly.
"I'm super sad today" Said Thomas (who spoke like Dale Winton)
"Why?" Said the seal (who had no distinguishing features about his voice).
"Because that freaking banana keeps picking on me. He's so proud of the thick skin and says I'm just a collection of wet nuggety bits that are full of juicy pods."
"Harsh." At this point it became apparent that the seal was very high, very high indeed.
"I just don't know what to do..." Said Thomas lamely. Lamer than a donkey with four missing hooves.
"Maybe you need a thicker skin?" suggested the seal in a sparkling jolt of enlightenment, not dissimilar to Jordan's decision to marry Alex Reid.

And so Thomas peeled the seal and climbed into his thick grey skin.

This posed a problem for the marketing guys down at orange HQ. A major feature of the orange is that it is orange, and now here was Thomas screwing this up by being slightly grey and baggy.

So they fed Thomas a hell of a lot of cream cheese until he had all over body cellulite and was a pretty rancid looking creature. Thomas was no longer a hit with the ladies but he had a unique skin appearance that the PR guys thought they could work with.

They then sent thomas for lunch with famous WAGs the world over, until Thomas became so paranoid about the paleness of his skin that he insisted on spraying ghastly chemicals all over his skin (but not his feet because that seemed to be the way they did it) until he was completely orange.

He instantly got a call from Ashley Cole asking if he fancied dinner. Thomas said no, loudly, and then called Cheryl to tell her about it before she read it in the News of the World.

"It didn't mean anything, Cheryl, I'm just an orange with a funky coat. I'd never do that to you."

She believed him and their friendship remained rock steady. Who cares about BeBop?

And that, is a concise history of how the orange got his peel. Eat your heart out Rudyard Kipling.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Zebras and measles on toast

I had a pretty weird experience yesterday, but it has opened my mind up to a whole new realm of possibilities for the world as I know it. I encountered a company that sell barcodes.

YEAH! Sell barcodes? If I was the sort of person that used abbreviations I might say 'wtf' at this point and revel in the few seconds that had saved me. Sell barcodes? To me, this is amazing.

It had never occurred to me in the month of afternoons that barcodes were something you could possibly be in the market for. Like you might be staring at the label on the new peanut butter you're selling, and think 'You know what this label needs? A tiny stripy box. Then, this peanut butter will fly off the shelves.' So you get on the interphone and text up some sales teams and all of a sudden there's someone sitting in front of you with a range of barcodes for you to choose from...

Do you prefer the thin bars or the thick bars, madam?
Would you like wiggly or straight lines?
Have you considered mauve?

How bored and pissed off must the designer for that company be when he got the job and found out exactly what his job description was.

"So, welcome to BarCodes R Us."
"Thanks, is this my desk?"
"Yes, and this is your ruler and black pen...get going."
"Great, I've got some brilliant ideas...I'm thinking purple, I'm thinking swirls..."
"We just like black and white mainly."
"Oh...ok, well, that's cool. People have done some lovely work in monochrome in the past. I can work with that. Maybe some sketching and some shading..."
"We just like straight lines mainly."
"Oh...ok, well, that's cool. There's a lot we can do there, throw in some horizontals and some short lines shooting out from the centre, maybe get a labyrinth thing going on..."
"No. I really don't think you're getting this, we just like up and down lines."
"It's really quite simple..."
"You look sad?"
"I just..."
"Tell you what, why don't you play around with the thickness?"
"Yeah, go on. I'll throw you a bone."

Are there barcode awards for most creative use of millimetres?

Is there an etiquette to bar code construction?

Has anyone ever barcoded a zebra?

Are barcodes like finger prints?

So many questions for the humble bar code. These rectangles of bi-tonal glory are one of the fundamental building blocks of retail as we know it, but how often do we stop to appreciate them?

Almost never. So this blog is dedicated to barcodes. And all those who sail in them.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Minty Fresh Cows

I just had a milkshake that was mint and chocolate flavoured, on the surface this might not seem terribly weird. Mint choc chip is a well known and acceptable format for flavour to come in. But this mint was weird.

It tasted really real. Really real. I felt like I was the first cow ever to discover mint, just mosying around in my field when I came across a Wispa buried in a mint bush and naively took a bite of both of them togther. It wasn't that it was a bad taste - just a very strange experience for the mouth. But it whetted my appetite (not for milkshake that tasted like real mint and chocolate but for knowledge.)

It's a little known fact that cows actually discovered the mint was edible. Humans would have no gum, no toothpaste and no, other mint stuff if they hadn't tamed cows all those years ago and domesticated them as breath freshening assistants.

The first mint bush was discovered in Farmer Eric Bowes' field in 1723 at sometime between his dinner and his horlicks (not in a minty variety just yet although more about that next week). Eric Bowes was on pretty close terms with his herd, his wife had died over a decade ago and he'd struggled to find a new one because he didn't have teeth because he didn't have toothpaste because cows hadn't discovered it yet.

One day he was out milking them when he noticed a particularly large cow called Dave (female - names were different back then. This story is not a load of bullocks) didn't have the familiar musky smell that all the others did...he decided to investigate. He set up CCTV surveillance on the field Dave occupied with Martha (her sister) to see why Dave didn't smell like the rest of his ladies.

It seemed that Dave was a bit of an addict, standard grass wasn't good enough for her anymore. She needed something stronger for those 7 titanium stomachs. And she'd discovered mint. She ate it with everything. Well, she ate it with grass and more mint because that's all there was. But it still counted as a pretty big addiction.

Farmer Bowes knew he had to do something to wean Dave off before he started havign to choose new funky green packaging for his milk. So he started harvesting the mint, he thought long and hard for uses for the delectable plant and came up with the earliest form of toothpaste that we know of - 'Cowgate', followed by 'Arm and Udder'.

Dave was devastated at the lack of plant in her life and spiralled into a pit of depression. She was such a miserable bitch that she consequently also became the founder of the original beefburger.

Monday, Monday...

Exercise is like smoking -
* it can be highly addictive,
* It's definitely not something I'm addicted to,
* People do it socially to make new friends,
* Doctors talk about it all the time,
* EVERYBODY hates it the first few times they do it...

After my foray into the world of running this weekend I've come out with a curious assessment of my physiognomy - I must run like a complete special case. I was expecting to wake up with my legs feeling like iron bars had been attached to my bum. I thought my joints would ache and my calves would want to lie down for a month of mondays.

In fact, my legs are fine. What hurts is my ribs. My ribs? I can assure you I did not do the worm all the way round so I have no idea why this can be? Do I run in a wiggly, jiggly way? Squirming my torso all around the shot so that my stomach muscles get a mighty fine work out? I have no idea. I'm going to have to get a video replay of my run and see whether it looks as bad as I imagine. I imagine I look like a flaily small child looking for its mother. Brilliant.

Yesterday I attended my Grandfather's 80th birthday. Happy birthday to him. That is all on that one.

This evening I attempt the infamous King Gong at the Comedy Store - this is a barbaric night of epic proportions and may results in some comic and real death...real death may even be favourable. Yikes!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The great pink caterpillar of good...

I might currently be stuffing my face with hula hoops but don't panic because I definitely deserve it...

I just ran my Race for Life in 28 minutes and am feeling pretty pleased with myself. Thanks to everyone who put some sponsor money into the pot - I feel I've done you proud!

I was all prepared for today in the sense that I hadn't prepared at all and I thought I would probably die half way round. I was feeling quite relaxed about the whole thing until everybody I was going with started to ask questions which sounded like they'd have answers that might mean something.

"What are you going to have for breakfast?" Usually quite innocuous and the response might be "Tea and a jammy dodger." But today it seemed like I ought to say 'Wheat grass and Jif' just so that they knew I was properly thinking about balancing my energy level with my desperate desire not to do a little Paula Radcliffe part way round the track.

"Are you going to listen to your mp3player?" Well, probably not I was mp3 player is almost wall to wall Bob Dylan. While I love his work I'm not sure it's the best choice for keeping you motivated. I'd be pelting along the strauight telling anyone who'd listen where Maggie's Ma can shove the farm and then crying in the corner over the fact that I'll never have my own big brass bed... Potentially Dylan is only a really good running companion if he's on speakers behind you and you're trying to outrun him to catch up with someone more cheery. Probably not Morrissey.

When we actually got to the race track I wanted to cry. Not just because of the impending stitch and cellulite motivation (motivation is the new wobble) but because everybody there had the name of who they were running for on their back. Which, while beautiful, was quite difficult to stomach. It was eyes down on the course mainly to keep from blubbing rather than for any sort of 'It'll make me run better' reason. For every one who ran, another had gone. I'm not one to blub much over the death of elderly people - circle of life and over population and such...but it's harder to be so practical when the dates of a life span 2002-2006...

So the mass of pink ladies all gathered at the start line and their respective fellas mooched off to find the burger van. It did make me wonder whether this sort of thing would work for men? Women of all shapes, sizes, ages and backgrounds (over 2,000 of them) were at this one race. Would men do the same thing? I think it would probably be a lot more competitive - I don't think men in general are as ok to put themselves out of their comfort zone for a communal good will. Maybe I'm wrong. I hope so.

And we were off...the huge pink caterpillar began stretching round the fields. I took my first step...and immediately thought about stopping. I don't know what it is about running but it confuses my body.If there had been a medal today for person who kicked themself in the back of the leg the most, it would have gone to me. I get wibbly head like one of those sunflower toys that moves to music, my arms flail about in a desperate attempt to grab the nearest person and ask them to put me out of my misery.

My approach to running was that if I didn't stop then I wouldn't stop. Now, on paper this might sound ridiculous. But to someone who hates running, never runs and generally doesn't understand the appeal - the entire time you are running your body and brain are suggesting

"Stop running" And this needs to be countered constantly with -
"No, we don't want to."
"Who is this 'we'? Because I'm your body and I certainly want to.""And I'm your brain and I'm pretty sure I sent a memo advising against this months ago."
"Well, maybe this is our soul."
"Nope, we sold that for those Tim Minchin tickets..."
"Then I don't know who I am," (and I genuinely don't know...if my body and brain both want to not be doing something but there's a blind will to carry on, WHO THE HELL IS THAT?!) "But, we're running."
"But, I'm tired."
"And I was told that if I did well at school it wouldn't matter that we were a bit podgy and couldn't hit a ball. No offense..."
"None taken. Fair's fair."
"Yeah ok, maybe we'll stop."
"It said we could stop..."
"So...why aren't you stopping?"
"HAHAHHAHA Because whatever the bloody hell I am is the glue keeping this show on the...grass track! You two can badger on as much as you like about needing water and the fact that the woman in front has hungry bum and did Paula Radcliffe have anything to wipe with and whether we need to stop to see what this pain in the ribs is and should we be doing this with a severe back injury and will we be skinnier if we run slower for longer or faster but shorter... but if I just keep putting one foot in front of the other while we're debating how rubbish this is,then we're going to cross the finish line."

"We crossed it a while back"

Friday, July 23, 2010

Miraculous Inception

Well...I went to the cinema last night. Went to the very epic Screen on the Green in Islington, which, along with the All Star Bowling, is one of the truly cool places to go and do something which might be quite standard elsewhere. Not that last night was standard in any way.

For starters, I was meeting a very good friend and excellent comedian Mr Tiernan Douieb. I don't know if you've ever tried hanging out with someone who is paid to be funny but it's quite difficult as you want to laugh a lot, and then you do, and then you can't stop. I'm not syaing this is a massive problem, I'd certainly rather live with this issue than...famine for example, but it does make holding a normal conversation quite difficult.

He is well worth a read of or a watch of if you can -

Yesterday was the end of a long day sat still for me, which meant by the time I met poor old Tiernan I was really quite ready to let off some steam. Add to that the fact that I'd just had a mocha frappucino in a Starbucks that smelt like feet. (Even though everyone near me had shoes on, and I checkec...) So all in all I was a small bundle of sugary enthusiasm. And I was armed with a cross word. Not an angry chiding for anyone who came into my path, but a word puzzle. I love a good cross word.

So by the time we had downed a quick cider and bought retro candy (rubbish) and pop corn (brilliant) I was finding it quite tricksy to sit still and watch the fillum. Happily, Inception was literally designed for people who struggle to concentrate. Every time the plot gets a bit heavy or complicated (which is most of the time) they show you a beautiful graphic or change the scenery completely so that your brain has gone 'Oooh shiny...!' instead of 'Oooh, massive potential plot flaw...'

I thoroughly enjoyed the film. See my review at if you want summat more serious.

But maaaaan alive does it mess with your brain ever so slightly...the idea that reality isn't reality but it might be someone else's reality if they're asleep in your dream reality that was created by a pregnant teenager but only if you have a small dreidle in your dream reality on the third's quite hard to process. It sort of left me in a slight brain haze.

Not helped in any way that I was sat on the train home that night and noticed that the man opposite me had exacatly the same paper, same articles, same contents, same back page, same date...different front covers and headlines. That's not what you need when you've just found out that Leonardo DiCaprio might be smuggling diamonds up your nose in a goat into your brain.

But a brilliant evening overall - go and see Inception. Then eat some cheese and try and nod off with an identical evil twin copy of a paper that may or may not exist inside Michael Caine's ever dependable face.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Nissle Tapples



Well, let's face it I was never going to have a rip roaring time was I? Let's start with the good wasn't a class so I didn't have to learn any dances myself.

This did mean I had to sit and watch a show. It's going to be difficult to describe last night without coming across as either -
a) Bitchy through feminine rivalry
b) As uptight as a Daily Mail reader caught stroking a fox and bewilderdedly admitting 'Wild animals are...not tame?!'
c) A mean puce that looks down on people. goes. Now, these girls had a lot of balls. Not literally, otherwise this would have been a very different Burlesque show. But they were very brave - and had some good moves. Unfortunately, the first half was a little bit like watching the popular girls at your school doing their new dance to 'Toxic' at every school assembly you were ever made to suffer...

It wasn't that anything about it was poor - it was just nakey dancing. Although with added sequins. Being not the sort of person that particularly enjoys watching female strippers I was mildly uncomfortable...but ploughed on in the name of research. Ah, the blessedv excuse used by many a married man over time.

The second half was where it all picked up! One of the dancers sang us a song and boy could she dance...hells yeah! Was freaking amazing. And really nice not to end the number with a man walking roudn the stage gathering feathers and stockings. The problem is, once you've seen one girl put a long glove off with her sort of know how it works. If she were to take the glove off, pull a rabbit out of it, catapult the rabbit off into space using her G string and then wink at me with bright red lipstick, I'd be more impressed.

The definite highlight was Miss Laurie Hagen who was a guest star of the show. A delightful mix of mime, Chaplin-esque dancing and the sort of strip tease that was cheeky without vulgarity. Definitely something I'd watch again. Like Liza Minelli's less crazy, more spunky love child.

The bit that really got me was the finale. A great number, lots of fun songs and lots of good costumes. But, at the end...we have our heroines all lined up front of stage with tassles galore and lovely pants on. And then they start what I can only describe as a 'boob shimmy' and all these boobs are suddenly revolving like a Rolex on speed. All perfectly in time, all spinning in lovely concentric circles.

I panicked.

This is definitely not something I'll ever be able to do. Is this something I should be able to do? I can't help but think if I even attempted to do that one of my boobs would be heading for Tescos and the other would be raising it's (metaphorical) eyebrow at me as if to say 'what the hell are we trying to do now?'...

"Well, Lefty," I would reply, "We're supposed to be able to do this's what we do with you's a spin class for mammaries!"

And Lefty would sigh, resign himself to my latest hare brained scheme and begin fervently hoping that one day I reproduce so he'll have a half decent purpose in life.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Burlesque Lexx

I am going to a Burlesque dancing class this evening. If I don’t have a stomach ulcer before I get there through worry. I understand I’m a comedian and I’m supposed to be brave with no fear of audiences or people laughing, but dancing...
I have a deep rooted fear of dancing in public. At school I was never formally dance trained – dance classes consisted of the teacher putting on some Enya and then us just moving wildly about the room in a way that felt good and was reminiscent of...nothing. I imagine the results were similar to the result if you were to put everyone at Glastonbury in a leotard and tell them to express themselves after drinking their body weight in cider.
Not pretty.
So why am I going? Good question. Well, I’m trying to make the most of London. (Cue Dawson’s Creek music) I live in one of the most vibrant cities in the world and I bet half the people here only ever go to their office and their home. Being a comedian I get to see a lot of very funky places and meet some uber cool people – but there must be more to it?
But there must be more to it than wearing a corset and pouting, I hear you say. Well, yes. There must. But I didn’t get invited to any of that stuff so I’m going to do this instead.
How does one even go about doing Burlesque?
I went to a Bollywood dance class a few weeks ago (I really need to get some less dance based friends) and I would have enjoyed that had it not been for the tendency of my hips to decide to go elsewhere other than their sockets. This is less than helpful. It’s a little bit like my joint saw the hip of the person next to me and thought if it took a giant leap of faith it could go on holiday. It results in me standing stock still while everyone else is shimmying, with a pained expression on my face, trying to put my leg back out of right angles.
I’m fairly certain Burlesque will involve less hip shimmying? I imagine it’s more cleavage thrusting? And I’m pretty sure my boobs won’t attempt to leap off my chest. If they do then I can potentially think of an alternative career lending them to people considering breast enhancement surgery. A sort of, Velcro ‘try before you buy’ option.
So I will update you tomorrow on the fruits of my endeavour. But don’t get your hopes up that I’ll have become all Moulin Rouge in any way. I think it’s far more likely to be Nicole Kiddingmyself than Ewan MacGregor...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Old Folks' Town

Well, my travels have certainly taken me travelling this week!

I spent the weekend in deepest, darkest Somerset chilling out with my family. This was excellent for many reasons –
1. I got to eat my mother’s roast dinner. My mother’s roast dinner is certainly not to be spat at – it’s not a spit roast.
2. My now 1 year old nephew was freely available for hugs and games and dribbling. Hmmm, saliva seems to be coming up a lot in this blog already. I’ll try and keep a lid on that. Otherwise it will leak onto the keyboard and I might get an electric shock.
3. There is nothing like watching Disney films curled up on the sofa with your Dad (and your little sister if she’s about). I don’t think it matters how old you get to be, a cuddle from your dad will instantly make you want to put your hair in pig tails and suck your thumb. And if you’re my little sister you’ll probably be doing that anyway. Bless her, she’s only 18. Possibly my favourite moment of the weekend was turning to look at her during Nany McPhee 2 to see that she was crying. Actually crying. Big fat tears running down her face at the plight of the poor swimming pigs. Well, ok, to be fair she was just misting up at the poor kid with no dad to put his hair into pig tails for but my version is much better.

So today I am no longer in Somerset but I have travelled to a different Shire, today I am in the Cambridge Shire. Or to be precise, Ely. Now, you know you’ve come to a hip hop and happening place when the first thing the person you are meeting there says ‘I don’t live here, I just work here’. A good sign. And at first I couldn’t see what she meant – it’s a very lovely city with a cathedral and pretty stuff and cobbles...and HUNDREDS OF OLD PEOPLE!

Old people. Everywhere. Collectives of them. A gaggle of old people, herds, troupes, armies, flocks, shoals, shawls...
The thing’s got me wondering – why do old people all congregate in the same places? You very rarely get an even spread of olds. I’m not talking old people spread eagled evenly, or nicely pasted in I can’t Believe It’s Butter...I mean, you always get Old People living in specially designated habitats. It’s like one pioneering hobbler finds a city with an Edinburgh Woollen Mill and a Clarks shoes and then sends a smoke signal to every other cardigan sporter in a 5 mile radius and they all go there for a cream tea.
Within this old people metropolis you then get different sub types of old people cropping up. There’s the olds that have faded a bit – their hair skin and clothes have all blended into one toneless entity. There’s the olds that haven’t died inside and are wearing brightly coloured summer dresses with leathery crinkle skin on show – advertising to the world that there’s life after 40, and 50, and potentially 90 too. Brilliant sub species. But then there are the smaller sub sects – like the old men that stare at you like they can’t think of a conceivable reason why you should be on the planet, or what you might be to begin with. The middle aged women that got bored of waiting for retirement and pensions and weeing in ASDA and just gave up the ghost early to blend in...they are the weirdest!

Why do you not get this kind of generation concentration with any other ages? I very rarely visit a town purely populated with babies. No baby has ever travelled to somewhere suitable like Liverpool and thought, “This is a great place to grow up – I’ll call all the other babies and we’ll do it together” so that you have a town populated by scouse babies serving you coffee and selling you ironing boards.
It seems obvious therefore, that the older generation have in built homing devices which tell them where their true calling, and a bingo hall, lies and they just get the wind in their hair one day and set off out the front gate. Well, Ely, I salute you. 70 years on the planet obviously gives you very good taste in cities – I don’t think it’s too far fetched to believe in 40 years time I’ll be trotting up and down these streets with my pink and white hair (I would like my Grandchildren to call me Grandma Flump) buying toffee and feeding it to my beagle.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Tobogganing all the way to the X-Ray machine...

Cripes, apologies for the lack of blogoloy yesterday for those of you that sit at home sucking tissues until I update you with the illuminating progressions of my life. It's been a funny couple of days. start with the trip to see the back doctor. I was already vaguely dreading the visit as not only was I going to have to explain that I have ceremoniously avoided getting my spinal damage medically checked for 7 months, but I was also going to have to explain that I incurred the damage whilst dressed as an elf, tobogganing in Lapland. Not the easiest thing to do whilst trying to encourage someone to take you seriously enough to give you morphine. But I actually encountered something I had not expected.

Have you ever had to explain to someone from a very hot country what tobogganing is?

It turned out my doctor was fairly new in the country from Africa, and while eager to help me out of my misery she hadn't the faintest idea what toboganning was and so needed some more information. I was trying desperately not to ask her if she'd ever seen the film 'Cool Runnings'. It turns out tobogganing isn't really that easy to explain.

"You know, when you sit on a tray and go down a hill?"
"A bit like skiing but sat down?"
"Well, I was working as an elf...and we had some time off. So we went tobogganing."
"Which is fun, I promise. You sort of sit in a plastic box and gooooooooo."
"It's very safe, usually."
"Except, it's always dark in Lapland, so I couldn't see where I was going."
Disapproving frown.
"And it was quite icy, so I went a bit faster than we expected."
Raised eyebrows.
"Ok, a lot faster"
"There's a video if it helps...?"
"It probably won't help...but it's pretty funny."
"So it was dark, and I was tobogganing. Which is sort of like go karting but with snow and no wheels...and no steering. And it was dark. And someone had left a mound of snow at the bottom of the toboggan run..."
"Well, I say 'left', I mean it was a safety precaution because there's a main road at the bottom of the toboggan run."
Raised eyebrows.
"But, it's perfectly safe - tobogganing's a bit like surfing but you can't usually drown."
"Only, the mound of snow didn't stop me - it just sort of taught me to fly. But I haven't grasped landing yet. Which really it ought to have taught me first. And that is why I'm here."
"Because my back hurts. Here...(at which point I pointed to my back, pointedly). Ow."

She wasn't mightily impressed and suggested I take pain killers.

"It's sort of like skateboarding but you don't have to wear a baseball cap..."

I implied that I'd been taking pain killers for the last 7 months, and while I enjoyed the debate as to whether aspirin was extending my life or not, I'd prefer a cure to a cocktail.

She gave me a pink slip to take to the hospital and ask for an x-ray.

I'm taking the video with me to the hospital - just for safe measure.

"It's sort of like a death slide on a Zoom lolly?"
"Please get off the bed now."

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Fruit pastilles.

So I had a slightly later start this morning - and this pleases me for two reasons.

1. I get to listen to a different variant of the Breakfast Show on Radio 2. I'm a big fan of the radio but when you're commuting it is difficult to listen to it conveniently on a train with little reception. I usually catch the very first hour and then the last hour before moving on to sampling the delights of Ken Bruce a little later with Popmaster. My daily text message to my Dad is then emitted revealing just how badly I failed at answering the questions...

2. The school children are out. This is exciting for a couple of reasons, which I will turn into subclauses of this already established list -
a) I get to smile to myself at the hierachy and oh so important politics of the schooling years. Who's wearing what uniform and who's spending their lunch money on Dr Pepper in the morning.
b) LOLLIPOP LADIES. What a joy it is to have these luminous oestrogen goddesses back in my life. Who knew they still helped you cross the road when you're 23?! There is simply nothing better than approaching a road that you cross several times a day and being assisted across it just because it is between 8:30 and 9:30 when they are charged with the safety of this little patch of tarmac. Phenomenal. They will always ask how you are and wish you a nice day - which is frankly as much good cheer as you're likely to get all week with Londoners. What a brilliant start to the day.

I am off back to the West Country this weekend and the timing just couldn't be better quite frankly. I've found London to be a cruel mistress, the sort that shows you a fruit pastille and then whips it away before you've licked it. Or promises you a fruit pastille but then gives you a green one. Bastard. That's not to say she's not fun, she has fruit pastilles, she's just not always willing to hand them out willy nilly.

What on earth does willy-nilly mean?

Perhaps I'll give up all this working nonsense and become the world's first stand-up comedian lollipop lady? Only with fruit pastilles. I wasn't allowed fruit pastilles for a large portion of my childhood due to the sugar content. IT's now abundantly clear that this was probably a very good idea. VEry good indeed.

Folks I'm off to the doctors tonight to see about getting my back fixed - the old lapland injury just hasn't fixed itself. If it turns out I have been shrinking all this time because of it then prepare for giant Laura to reappear tomorrow all guns blazing. Or just happier with no pain and some fruit pastilles. Do doctors give out fruit pastilles?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Chris Evans as a life guru?

Well, the thing is I'm a massive Radio 2 addict - always have been and always will be. I was as upset as the next die hard fan when Terry Wogan decided to move on to greener pasture and yet I now find myself in the curious position of adoring Chris Evans...there is very little not to like. I like him so much I've found myself reading his book. He is th emost delightfully upbeat and enthusiastic person I've read in a long time. While it's difficult not to notice the slight 'faddish' nature of his obsessions throughout his life, I've found myself reading the book with a smile on my face and a feeling that everything will be ok.

Ok so it's not particularly intellectual and some could argue the guy's a bit opf a muppet (hell, I think he'd argue he's a bit of a muppet) and could have avoided some seriously stupid decisions had he thought about it. But it's impossible to argue with his positivity and for this reason I'm slightly adoring of him. He has joined my list of men in 2010 that I would like to have dinner and a cuddle with. This list includes but is not limited to -

Dr Who
Matt Smith
Chris Evans
My Dad
David Attenborough
Ronnie Corbett
Ricky Gervais
Gregory Peck

Some of these have rolled over from previous years I should also add.

I am a bit frazzled at the moment, what with work commitments, moving house, comedying and the post break-up blues my head is so far out of the game that Zac Efron would tut at me. My head is so far out of the game that 9:35 am this morning I found myself at Paddington station looking for the train that departed to Grantham at 9:48...the announcement was blazing away in neon yellow, only it was doing so at London Kings X because I was at the wrong station. There is no subtle way to back away from an arrivals board and then leg it to the circle line. Man up Lexx, there are things to be done and a world to be conquered in a slightly ambivalent but nonetheless determined way.

Yesterday, upon leaving my local station I was quite surprised to see Michael Portillo standing on the street. I'm sure Michael Portillo doesn't often frequent Charlton. I'm not sure anybody voluntarily frequents Charlton - particularly not the bottom end. My experience of Charlton has generally been dog pooh and chicken which both litter the pavements in equal amounts. The Michael Portillo incident would barely have been an incident had it not been for the highly amusing woman behind me who was absolutely baffled by his presence there.

"But what's he doing here?!" She asked her disinterested husband who failed to reply. "What's he doing in Charlton?" She's shaking her head and sighing in disbelief, "What would Michael Portillo be doing in Charlton?" She's moving up the pavement again now with the pace of a trauma patient. "And wearing a pink shirt too - I didn't even know he was gay!"

Brilliant. I didn't have the heart to point out it was salmon...

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Lounge on The Farm

Well..what a beautiful weekend! And just what the doctor ordered - if, of course, the doctor had ordered me to make my ongoing back pain even worse and to roll in a lot of dusty mud. The South East of England has been blessed with some beautiful blazing weather this weekend and I can safely say I've made the most of it!

I had my feet eaten by fish...yes...yes I did. I partook in an amazing little thing where you put your feet in the tank and these blessed little creatures come along and nibble all the crappy skin off them for you. Was one of the weirdest experiences of my life! A bit like putting your feet into very fizzy lemonade...but with gobbly slimers in there too. It's apparently the latest celebrity beauty therapy and while I can't vouch that it actually achieved anything remarkable, it was certainly very lovely and I'm always happy to feed fish if it'll help the whales somewhere along the line.

I attempted a Bollywood dance lesson this morning - not something I'd recommend for people whose hips are keen on vacationing from their sockets - but it was highly amusing. There's nothing like being half way through a shimmy when your leg refuses to do any more of the, well, leg work.

I then attended a deep breathing workshop where I was asked to imagine I was sitting in a field...bearing in mind I was at a festival called Lounge on the FARM in Kent...this was not tricky and I lost faith in my well meaning but slightly odd teacher. He explained that we were to breath in and out whilst blocking one nostril at a time. This separated breathing allows us to balance the flow of oxygen going to our brains and bring the two sides of our personalities into balance...riiiiight. But hell I did it and I did well.

Now, I'm not intending to make this blog whiny in any way but it's worth pointing out at this point that my attempt to enjoy this festival comes in a week when I have just been 'released' by my significant other. I prefer released to dumped because it makes me feel more dove than pigeon.

So this was very much a break away and a chance to try and get my head sorted into the single life again. Something I'm not much looking forward to doing. I've decided a split from someone you love but cannot be with anymore is very much like getting out of bed on a cold morning. You know that if you jump straight in the shower you will be happier much quicker and the day will be much more prodcutive...but the temptation to have 'just 5 more minutes' is very strong despite it only being a stay of execution for the inevitable.

All was going well in my festival of new starts until the 24 hour shop (which came equipped with 24 hour music blaring...) seemed to get stuck on reggae. Reggae going to sleep, reggae waking up, reggae with my tea...reggae reggae reggae. Now I really quite like reggae, but this only due to the absolute love affair my ex has with it. So I have spent the entire weekend with the tantalising soundtrack to 18 months permeating my sub conscious. Was much like waking up in the past only to find out I wasn't blissfully reunited - I had a blow up doll bearing a slight resemblance that was insisting on poking me in the eye with my hairbrush.

I think the first few weeks are the hardest - like trying not to itch a scab or think about the game (apologies the world over...!). But I've lain in the sun, performed a good hour of my finest material, sat and talked with very good friends and done it all without the merest sniff of the comfort blanket man. And if I can do all that then I can do tomorrow, and that's all I need to do for now.

But I have survived - feeling very tanned, very grubby and very delicate, I'm back in the real world. And the wintry bed is still tempting, but the shower is most certainly the way forward for now...

So apologies for the more 'thinky' than 'funny' approach, but I've balanced my brain through nostril relocation and this appears to have been the resulted. Having expelled all of this tripe I've now moved on to being concerned as to the balance of folks like Daniella Westbrook who must very much struggle...

Friday, July 9, 2010

Essex and trains

I spend a lot of time on trains - today I'm in Essex and have just come back through a place called Calvedon. Of course this has now resulted in me singing this to the tune of Glaveston in my la la Galveston oh Calvedon...that is neither a modern nor a particularly tuneful reference but I'm the one that's stuck with it so it's not harming anybody.

I've just been to Colchester, where I met some incredible people. I'm appealing to the general public for help in translating this info - I was sitting, minding my own business on a train platform in the sun when some one shouted 'Oi Yoshy'. I looked around for a small mario player, perhaps in a cart of some kind but there was none. I then heard 'Oi Yoshy howdja get ta Cowchesda?' and I looked towards the source of the noise.

Do you know what a guttersnipe is? Now I wasn't sure. But there the word was popping into my head, just like Galveston. Upon googling it now I see that it means;
1. A street urchin.
2. A person of the lowest class.
And while I'm not one to throw stones in glass houses, I can safely say that there are more innapropriate words for the source of the noise than the one my faithful brain threw my way.

The source of the noise was apparently talking to me so I replied that the next train to Colchester was in 20 minutes and it silenced itself. Once silenced it stopped the pram it was pushing in time to light a cigarette and moan that it wasn't allowed to smoke it on the platform - which it proceeded to do anyway.

C'est La Essex thinks I and got on the train.

Trains have been troubling me lately with their forceful terminology. The latest in a long line of bothering phrases is 'this train terminates here' which I think is a ghastly way to inform people that the train doesn't go any further along the country. Makes it sound as though anyone left in the carriage after 15 seconds is going to be gassed to death or strapped to the line for the train to perform some sort of highway abortion on it. Horrible.

I can only hope that language like that wasn't around in the times of Thomas The Tank Engine for I can think of nothing worse than some poor child being informed that -

'Henry pops his clogs here' or 'Gordon will scissor kick you 'til you die here'