Blog Relatives

Well, it’s now officially 2019 (not that anyone was claiming it was unofficially 2019 prior to midnight on 31st December, mind), and I would like to wish you all a Happy New Year.

I don’t have many wishes for the coming twelve months, but I would like to increase my audience, to edge me nearer to that lucrative book / film / YouTube / adult entertainment deal. Seriously, I’m not that fussy (except, perhaps, in the last category), just so long as I can earn enough to bid farewell to my shitty commute.

To put things into perspective, I now have nearly 700 followers on Facebook, so it would only require each of them to encourage 100,000 of their friends to sign up, and I would then have a fan base roughly equivalent to the population of the United Kingdom. I’d be content with that.

I am less popular on Twitter, however, where I have approximately one-tenth of the followers (so each would need to recruit 1,000,000 friends to achieve the same result, which I accept is a bit of an ask), and don’t even get me started on Instagram. No, seriously, I haven’t got started.

I wouldn’t mind so much, as I am hardly active on Twitter, but I’ve just checked and the three most followed people are seemingly Katy Perry, Justin Bieber and Barack Obama. Really? Sure, they can all dance, but two of them are as thick as mince (and if you can’t decide which is the odd-one-out, frankly, so are you).

Anyway, the main thing is, you are here – which makes you very special to me. And, until someone tells me otherwise, I’m still here too, so let’s crack on, shall we?

I have said before that my family – particularly our two boys – are an almost constant source of comedy material, and the Christmas period was no exception. If we add in my wife’s family (of which there are frankly dozens), it is no exaggeration to say our festive period was a smorgasbord of hilarity.

Here are my six comedic highlights of Christmas 2018:

Motherscrubber

With three adult children, two daughters-in-law, and three young grandchildren all invading her house for Christmas, it was inevitable that Mum was going to struggle to keep everything pristine for the few days were we there.

Our mum is so house-proud*, but she dealt with the shit-storm of wrapping paper with her usual aplomb (and massive bin bag); however, later in the evening, she was clearly agitated as she dashed to gather cleaning products from her kitchen.

*©Madness/Sony/ATV Music Publishing (not that they will read this)

It transpired that, in the corner of her lounge, there had been a spillage – which had lightened her beige carpet to a shade between ‘Barley Twist’ and ‘Desert Wind’ on the Dulux Paint Scale (the latter not to be confused with ‘Dessert Wind’, which is something I suffered with following my second helping of cheesecake an hour earlier).

As the scrubbing intensified throughout the evening (occasionally interspersed with brief periods of ‘letting it dry’), it became clear the stain was not shifting, and the carpet had apparently been bleached.

This, naturally, was terrible news to everyone (although it did at least mean Ollie, Isaac and I were innocent, as none of us possessed anything likely to cause such damage), and Mum was obviously upset. Christmas was on the brink of being ruined.

Enter my wife (wait, I’ll rephrase that), who nipped to the kitchen shortly afterwards, and on her return burst out laughing. It transpired that, when she placed her foot in a particular spot near to the affected carpet, the ‘stain’ vanished. Yes, mum had spent at least an hour – and several litres of Mr Muscle – scrubbing what was nothing more than a patch of light reflected off a nearby shiny gift.

Isaac: Child Genius?

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Christmas would not be complete (for us, at least) without a family quiz, and since I forgot to bring anything with me this year, I had to search online for something suitable instead.

Unfortunately, we were already well into my choice before I realised it was clearly created by – and aimed towards – Americans. I know this because:

  1. The ‘Football’ round referred solely to the NFL;
  2. The ‘England’ questions all related to our royal family and Harry Potter, as if we have nothing else;
  3. The ‘History’ round only dated back a couple of hundred years, and refused to acknowledge any major event outside the US.

Nevertheless, we persevered, and eventually stumbled across a geography section which featured countries other than America (and I’m talking actual Europe here, not just Canada and Mexico).

One of the questions was ‘Which country hosted the first Winter Olympics?’, and after a few mutterings around the room, Isaac burst in from the kitchen, shouted ‘France!’ and then buggered off again triumphantly. I still don’t know how he got it correct, but have a feeling it’s the only country he knows other than ours.

Stockport: Capital of Indulgence

I was born in Stockport, have spent half my life living and working in the area, and I’m an avid supporter of Stockport County – all of which makes me suitably-qualified (and perfectly entitled) to admit certain parts of Stockport are rough.

For example, Edgeley (the home of Stockport County), does have some nicer areas, but these are largely surrounded by a desert of shit (not to be confused with a dessert of shit, which is also something I suffered with following my second helping of cheesecake).

Castle Street, the main shopping area in Edgeley, is honestly so run down and nasty, you could be mistaken for assuming the American military had recently swept through looking for WMDs.

To illustrate my point, here is a picture of war-torn Iraq:

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And here is a picture of Castle Street, in Edgeley:

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See?

Anyway, whilst walking down Castle Street on Boxing Day, prior to County’s victory over neighbours Altrincham (which, conversely, makes Kensington look a bit dodgy), I encountered the greatest vision of couldn’t-give-a-fuck indulgence I have ever seen.

A young-ish woman (I say young-ish, because it’s often hard to tell in Edgeley on account of the fact most women are grandparents by their late thirties), resplendent in fluffy white dressing down and slippers – which she presumably received from one of the fathers to her children at Christmas – was drinking, I shit you not, a large pot of double cream like it was a can of coke.

Bearing in mind this was around 2pm, and she appeared to still be in possession of her senses, there is no other explanation than she had effectively abandoned what little etiquette remained – and couldn’t care less. I had to applaud her (albeit mentally, as she was probably armed under that fluffy exterior).

‘Explicit Cooking and Other Stories’

This Christmas my wife and her siblings (together with the three of us daft enough to marry them), agreed to swap gift ‘hampers’ per couple, rather than individual presents.

However, when it came to exchanging them a few days after Christmas, my direct sister-in-law (by which I mean my wife’s sister, as opposed my wife’s brother’s wife, who is my wife’s sister-in-law, but I still refer to as my sister-in-law too – clear?) immediately apologised for one of the gifts in our hamper, warning that it was intended for me, and should not be opened in front of the children.

Here it is:

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As a keen cook, and purveyor of all innuendo, this book is a joyous gift to me, and I very much look forward to gobbling…. nope, can’t do it, sorry.

However, the anecdote does not end there. Whilst discussing the book between us all a few hours later, and immediately after someone had joked “I do enjoy a bit of cock”, my mother-in-law entered the room (following an entirely unrelated conversation she had just finished with my father-in-law in the kitchen), and announced ‘….to quote your father….’

I laughed so much, I swear a little sherry escaped out of my nose.

Isaac: Child Model?

Whilst shopping in Norwich’s Chapelfield Mall a few days after Christmas, Isaac asked whether he could go into the Norwich City FC store; and so (despite the fact he has no interest in football – and if he did I would far rather he support Stockport County) my wife took him in while the rest of us waited outside.

A few moments later, we all heard the tapping of glass, and turned round to see that Isaac had somehow managed to break into the window display, and was proudly stood with all the mannequins waving at passing shoppers. He, naturally, found this hilarious.

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The Unorthodox Mixer

Shortly before midnight on New Year’s Eve, I announced to the room that I was going to the kitchen, should anyone want their glass filling ready for Big Ben.

My mother-in-law, having initially declined, then decided she would like a glass of port – in a particular glass (which was kept in the conservatory), with a splash of the ‘cloudy lemonade’ she informed me was in the fridge in the utility room.

Already on my way to inebriation, and conscious that my in-laws have a tendency of using the words ‘conservatory’, ‘dining room’, ‘kitchen’ and ‘utility room’ interchangeably, I tried to memorise my instructions and set off, like a shit episode of Challenge Anneka.

Having located the glass and port, I then searched both fridges for the ‘cloudy lemonade’, and having found nothing more accurate based on that description, returned triumphantly with this jug:

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In hindsight, I can see this is less ‘cloudy lemonade’, and more ‘you’ll be needing a course of antibiotics’, but bear in mind I was slightly drunk, in a hurry to make it back to the lounge for midnight, and I only had the light of the fridge to guide me at the time, you can hopefully understand my error.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is that lesser-known mixer, ‘gammon fat’.

Fortunately, I queried my decision before pouring a healthy splash into the port, and was promptly ridiculed by all in attendance.

Thanks for reading x

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Hootie and the Blogfish

I’d like to introduce you to some friends of mine.

Well, I say ‘friends’, but I’ve never actually met any of them. Nor have we spoken. In fact, we’ve not communicated in any way whatsoever (so that rules out ‘weird internet group’ – which I know is what you were thinking) and, here’s the real kicker, they almost certainly don’t know who I am.

I better explain, before you think I’ve completely lost the plot.

You may recall that, around a year ago, my little office in Sandbach – which was just a few minutes’ walk from home – was closed down, and I am now required to commute fifty miles a day instead.

As you might imagine, doing the same journey twice a day, for five days a week, can start to get rather tedious after a while, so I have developed a couple of ways of preserving what little sanity I have left, as I crawl along in traffic for a large part of my day.

Unfortunately, one of these methods – which involves me trying to reach certain ‘landmarks’ on my journey by set times (and I use the term ‘landmark’ very loosely, since although Jodrell Bank could be considered of interest, I suspect ‘the Shell garage in Chelford’ wouldn’t quite make the top 50 attractions in Cheshire) – has limited entertainment value; and the other – pretending I am in an ‘air rock band’ – can not only be considered quite hazardous (particularly when it’s my turn to be on drums) but also more-or-less undermines the whole ‘preserving my sanity’ objective. I am fucking awesome on air drums, though.

Anyway, after a while I realised that I was encountering the same people on my commute every day, and although I don’t really like all of them (which will become clear shortly), it got reassuring to see them, and they became my ‘commuting buddies’. It has now got to the stage where I become uncomfortable if, for whatever reason, our paths don’t cross. I mean, just because I don’t like some of them, it doesn’t mean I wish them any harm. Well, maybe ‘Crazy Toyota Dwarf Bitch’.

Let me introduce you to a few of them.

Mr Always Late

No matter what time I happen to drive through Alderley Edge in the morning, I usually pass Mr Always Late, and give him a little smile as he hurriedly speed-walks down the road, purple-faced and panting. Unlike most Alderley-Edgers seen speed-walking of a morning, he’s apparently heading somewhere, in a suit, and isn’t just doing it for ‘fun’ (with a couple of ludicrously coloured dumbbells pumping up and down at his sides).

Where he is going, I do not know, but it’s always in the general direction of the train station, so that’s probably a safe bet, and would explain his need to rush. The weird thing is, the time that I drive through Alderley Edge each morning can fluctuate by up to fifteen minutes – depending on the level of traffic I have encountered up to that point, and whether my air-drumming has caused me to accidentally accelerate faster than I should (that damn foot pedal always gets me) – yet, despite this, I always pass Mr Always Late on the same stretch of pavement. Weird.

Crazy Toyota Dwarf Bitch

My nemesis.

The first time I encountered her crappy Y-reg Toyota Celica just under a year ago, which was as it dangerously overtook me and two other cars on a blind bend near Holmes Chapel, I thought it was being driven by a ghost – since there appeared to be no one at the wheel. I don’t necessarily believe in ghosts, but it struck me that only the deceased would perform such a suicidal manoeuvre, safe in the knowledge that their state of health could not really get any worse.

Then, when I inevitably caught up with the car at the next bout of congestion, I looked closer and noticed the faintest slither of a female head peeking out above the window. Certainly not at a height where the driver could see the road ahead of her or any other motorists, but I was at least reassured that I wasn’t encountering an apparition.

Amazingly, her reckless overtaking manoeuvre wasn’t a one-off lapse of concentration either, and for the remainder of the journey that we shared before I turned off, she continued to drive like a fucking lunatic, weaving in and out of traffic, and tail-gating whichever poor motorist was unfortunate enough to be in front of her at the time.

Her driving was so bad, and so dangerous, that I found myself memorising her number plate in case she did end up causing a major accident (which I felt sure she would unfairly – and obliviously – drive away from), but I didn’t realise I would be seeing her regularly for the next year.

I’m not sure whether the ‘Napoleon Complex’ (the theory that short people try to compensate for their diminutive stature by displaying overly-aggressive social behaviour) becomes more concentrated the shorter someone gets, but she cannot be much over four foot in height, and has an awful lot of anger stashed away.

I don’t know why she doesn’t just buy a booster seat and chill-out a bit.

The Nice-bottomed Jogger

Don’t judge me, or label me a pervert, ok?

I’ve already explained that my journey to and from work is boring (remember the Shell garage in Chelford?), and I have needs, so excuse me if I take some comfort and enjoyment from watching the very pertest of derrières, as it gleefully bounces along the pavements of Alderley Edge each morning.

Besides, if you are out jogging during rush hour, in shorts so tight they must surely be cutting off the blood supply to your legs, you are a shameful exhibitionist who clearly yearns for their posterior to be adored by passing motorists. I am merely giving your glorious gluteus the attention it craves.

I often wonder what he does for a living.

The Angry Cyclist

You might think this one is nothing unique, since there are thousands of cyclists up and down the country during rush hour, and each – without exception – is a quivering, sweating, bundle of furious rage. All cyclists are angry, primarily at those fellow commuters who are ostentatious enough to be travelling on four wheels rather than two, but this particular helmeted sociopath takes road rage to another level. He is white-hot angry at everything, and everyone.

I suspect that, as with many cyclists, he’s actually quite reasonable in real life. He most likely leaves the house each morning, fondly kissing his wife and children goodbye and wishing them a nice day, before going to retrieve his bicycle from the garage. On the way, he might encounter his neighbour, and jovially greet him over their boundary hedge:

“Morning Bob.”

“Hey there, Mental Dave! Off to shout at cars?”

“Sure am. Might even kick one if I can reach. Have a great day!”

Then, as he lowers the cycling helmet over his head, a dark cloud forms in his mind, a twitch begins in one eye, and the sides of his mouth sink lower on his increasingly-haggard face. All he can focus on is getting to work, and distributing as much misery to any occupants of motorised transport as possible.

He starts off slowly down his road, but by the time he reaches the main junction, he has already spat at the postman (he used to like the postman when he too had a bicycle, but now he has a fucking van) and has kicked a child in a go-kart. Close enough.

The remainder of his journey to work is an endless torrent of abuse, vitriol and spite, directed towards anyone unfortunate enough to be travelling in or on something that is not powered by strangely-misshapen and entirely hairless legs.

I thought I got angry on the road sometimes, but this guy is something else. Hopefully one of these days, the kisses that I blow at him as I zoom past from my warm, dry car, will soften his mood and cause him to re-think his ridiculous lifestyle choices.

Fiat Fitty

Oh how she brightens my morning.

Strangely, I have seen only slightly more of her than I have Crazy Toyota Dwarf Bitch, because for some reason I am always travelling directly behind her red Fiat 500 (I’m not stalking her, honest), and so I can only base what I believe to be her astonishing good looks, on the big brown eyes that I gaze adoringly into, when she checks her rear-view mirror occasionally.

I’ve tried driving a little too close to her at times, in the hope she might glance back for longer and notice me properly but, alas, I fear that our love is to be forever separated by two bumpers (and, potentially, a restraining order if this carries on).

I bloody hate Fiat 500s, as well, so she must be special.

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And there you have it.

I hope you enjoyed meeting some of my commute friends. They’re like a second family to me, and I dream that one day we might all get together for a drink (I’d need to give Crazy Toyota Dwarf Bitch a leg up onto the bar stool though). Or, better still, maybe I am unwittingly part of a different commuter’s ‘second family’, and it comforts them to see me each day, as I air-drum my way past them travelling to/from work? I might be known as ‘Handsome VW Air-Drummer’. I’d like that.

Addendum: I’ve just read this entry back before publishing it, and I am now acutely aware that I am in desperate need of a holiday.

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