Some Like It Blog

You may have noticed that the UK has been enjoying some rather nice weather of late. Sure, it has been interspersed with our usual dark clouds, and downpours of heavy rain, but generally speaking it has been sunny, and, best of all, hot (well, hot by our standards).

This, folks, is summer (or was summer, if you happen to be reading this a few days after publication, by which time I feel certain we’ll be back to ‘overcast and chilly’).  Make the most of it, because soon it will be July, and then the following will happen:

  1. The schools break up;
  2. Glastonbury;
  3. Wimbledon;
  4. People start optimistically buying barbecues.

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Glastonbury: Shit

On their own, any of the above list would be sufficient to jeopardise our current nice weather, but since all four will happen in a relatively short period of time, there is no doubt that we will be cold and soaking by mid-July. Welcome to the British summer.

But is summer all it’s cracked up to be anyway?

Answer: no, not really.

Look, it’s not the worst of the seasons by a long shot (Autumn, I’m looking at you), but bearing in mind I am grumpy most of the time anyway, I can find fault in pretty much anything if the mood takes me (apart from perhaps Holly Willoughby).

So, on the basis there will be people reading this thinking, ‘go on, give me one good reason why summer is a bit shit’, I’ll do better than that – I’ll give you ten reasons (and that’s on top of the aforementioned Glastonbury and Wimbledon).

1. Suncream

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NB: Not my leg

I am well aware that the alternative to wearing suncream, is sunburn (or worse), so obviously I don’t think it should be avoided altogether, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it, either. It’s time-consuming to apply, leaves you greasy and/or sticky, attracts every insect and grain of sand within a five-mile radius, and more often than not it smells of fucking coconut. I hate coconut. If I wanted to smell of coconut, I’d take a bath in some Malibu, then stick a Bounty up my arse.

2. Wasps

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Vicious. Little. Bastards.

I don’t care if they are one of God’s creatures, and apparently do serve an actual purpose (in addition to bringing misery to millions of people, by spoiling their picnics and stinging them), they are evil, and should be exterminated.

We recently had a particularly aggressive wasp in the office, and my colleague berated me for trying to kill it – to the point she ‘rescued’ it from the toilet where it was trapped, and released it back into the wild. Let’s not forget, it was the wasp’s decision to actually fly under the toilet seat, then lie in wait for some poor unsuspecting butt cheeks to pierce; but, oh no, apparently I was the monster for trying to help it on it’s way with a gentle flush (oh, and I may have peed on it first for good measure).

I tried to argue that there was only room for one nasty looking prick in that bathroom, and it wasn’t the wasp’s, however my colleague still set it free (I sincerely hope the wasp then flew directly to her car, to wait for the drive home).

We have other insects for pollination, so wasps add absolutely nothing to society other than misery, so the sooner they become extinct the better.

3. Sleeping

Sleeping in the summer is a bloody nightmare. Ok, getting into a cold bed during the winter months can initially be a little unpleasant, but you quickly warm up, and that’s why we have electric blankets and hot water bottles (even if I don’t use either).

But in the summer, you get into bed all hot and sticky, and you remain that way, until you finally give up on sleeping and go back to work. Sure, you can leave some windows open for cooler air once it goes dark, but this invites every bug in the area to enter the room and attack you during the night.

4. Hayfever

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Arguably the shittest of all the debilitating inflictions, because it is essentially just itchy and streaming eyes and nose, interspersed with occasional sneezing, but if you don’t suffer with hayfever, you will never understand how truly fucking annoying it is, and how miserable it can make you.

Plus, you have to listen to every person over the age of fifty, when they explain to you their own personal guaranteed method for curing it: “get some local honey, and rub it on your scrotum on the second Tuesday of each month…”

5. Sunglasses

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Sunglasses generally make people look cool. I am not cool (you may have noticed).

Coolness is not the issue, however. My main problem with sunglasses, is that my eyesight is only marginally better than Stevie Wonder’s, so in order to wear them when it is bright and sunny outside, means one of the following:

  • Contact lenses – Except, I don’t wear contact lenses regularly, so it can take up to fifteen minutes to prod the sodding things into my eyes (by which point they are so red and sore, I regret my decision anyway). Plus, I suffer from hayfever – see above – so my eyes are already itchy as it is, and not particularly keen to have salty plastic discs stuck onto them;
  • Exchanging my normal glasses for sunglasses, then hoping I don’t walk into lampposts, other people, and dog shit. This usually means my wife guiding me around like, well, Stevie Wonder;
  • Wearing prescription sunglasses – because prescription sunglasses are almost like actual sunglasses (in the same way that Quorn is almost like actual meat). Almost.

These are all, however, better than the final option…

  • Wearing those ‘clip-on sunglasses’ last seen in 1989:

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I’m probably better off sticking to my normal specs, and just squinting a lot.

6. The Lack of Football

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Now, as far as my wife is concerned, having her husband and eldest son available on Saturdays again, even if only for a couple of months a year, is a bonus (although, the novelty usually wears off by mid-June); but for Ollie and I, losing our fortnightly fix of live football until the start of August is devastating.

We love our team (shit and perpetually disappointing though they are), and no amount of Russian World Cup can scratch that itch, I’m afraid.

7. Ice cream

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I quite like ice cream (despite my pathetically sensitive teeth), and there is nothing finer on a hot summer’s day, than enjoying an ice cream cone with your family.

For three minutes.

Then, after that fleeting moment of summery bliss, it becomes a battle against time, as you frantically try to stem the flow of melting dessert from trickling towards your hand. And, even if you manage to finish the ice cream before it reaches your fingers and makes you all sticky (not to mention irresistible to those fucking wasps), enough of it has escaped to soften the cone, which then collapses and covers you anyway.

The only thing worse than trying to successfully eat an ice cream yourself, is handing one to a child.

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8. Teachers

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I have to tread carefully here, as I’m married to a teacher, but my God they start to get smug by the end of May, and downright unbearable come July, as that colossal six week holiday approaches. Don’t get me wrong, teachers work very hard, and my wife is often marking and planning lessons beyond midnight, but all of the stress and abuse has to be at least worth considering, for six weeks off in the summer.

At least if I was a teacher too, we could go away for most of the summer (thereby avoiding the likes of Glastonbury and Wimbledon, and all the middle-class twats who attend them), but I get a very limited amount of annual leave, and when we do go away it has to be when the schools are off, which means paying twice as much.

9. Convertibles

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There are two types of convertible car owners.

The first, are those really smug drivers, who put the roof down in the middle of March, (when the sleet eases slightly, and the temperature creeps above freezing), to try and justify their ridiculous purchase. Then, when the weather genuinely turns nice around this time of year, they drive up and down the roads of Britain, wearing sunglasses, and laughing at the glorious world which surrounds them.

For three days a year, their car is perfect, and wonderful, and we’re all jealous. It matters not, that most convertible drivers are bald, middle-aged estate agents, with bugs firmly embedded between their teeth, because for once they are winning at life.

Then, we have the second category: those truly hopeless convertible car owners who, when faced with a gloriously sunny day (the one chance they have to finally enjoy their nearly-pointless automobile), they leave the top on. Why on earth would you buy a convertible car in this country, if you don’t fucking use it on a sunny day?

10. Roadworks

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For those of us who commute to work each day, roadworks are our enemy (together with cyclists), but at least during the winter, they are kept to a minimum (unlike cyclists).

However, as soon as the schools break up for summer, every Council in the country sees this as a green light to start digging up all the roads that they have been neglecting since the summer before.

I understand the reasoning behind this, as there are supposedly less cars travelling, so the disruption is minimised, but school holidays are the one chance we commuters get to enjoy a slightly easier journey to work, and yet we are denied this minor respite time and time again.

In fact, the only people who benefit from roadworks being delayed until the school holidays, are parents who don’t work, and teachers – and, frankly, we’ve already established that the summer holidays are the one time of year when teachers deserve bugger all.

Why doesn’t anyone ever think of the lawyers?

Ok, don’t answer that.

Thanks for reading x

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It’s Cracking The Blogs

This week’s entry was meant to be about…. erm, hang on, it’ll come to me in a minute…. it was about…. damn it, I nearly had it then…. erm….

The truth is, I can’t think straight at the moment, because it is so frigging hot outside. Well, it is on the day I am writing this week’s entry, but such is the erratic nature of the British weather, you will most likely find yourself looking out of the nearest window, at the relentless rain / lightning / hailstones / snow (delete as applicable – or if applicable, because we could very well be experiencing all of those conditions simultaneously), and wondering what the fuck I am going on about.

Look, cast your mind back to the start of the week. Remember how hot and sunny it was? Yeah, well that was summer, hope you enjoyed it. If you’re upset that the weather is now crap again (as I predict it will be by the time you read this), then blame Glastonbury.

As Brits, we are almost always pissed off with the weather. When it’s cold and rainy outside, we just want some sunshine and warmth, but when that big ball of fire does eventually break through the clouds which cover our little island for most of the year, we get bored after a day, and want it to bugger off again.

There are two reasons for this.

Firstly, we Brits are never happy with our lot in life. Whether it’s our jobs, finances, cars, partners, or, in this case, the weather, we always want what we don’t have. Then, if we do eventually get what we want, we turn our attentions elsewhere, and the endless cycle of mindless coveting continues. We are greedy little shits, and we are never content.

Secondly, Brits are simply not built for this kind of weather, in the same way that some of our European friends (soon to be ex-friends) are.  If we adopt the analogy of food at a barbecue – which seems appropriate given the circumstances – then the likes of the Spanish, Portuguese, Italians and Greeks are glorious, meaty burgers. When the sun comes out, and everything gets hot, they look better, they smell better, hell, they probably even taste better. Pair them with an ice-cold beer, and that’s about as good as life gets. They look magnificent.

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NB: Not me

In contrast, we’re the salad. We shrivel up, go limp, and generally look pathetic in hot weather. And, frankly, who wants salad at a barbecue? No one, that’s who. Salad is only good for one thing, and that’s to go on top of the burgers occasionally – except none of those lovely continental burgers wants a feeble Brit on top of them, all limp and sweaty.

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NB: Also not me. But considerably closer.

My point is, we’re not physically designed to deal well with hot weather. We’re built for queuing, whinging, and drinking tea – and pretty much bugger all else.

Essentially, the range of temperature where we get even remotely close to being content with the weather, is laughably minuscule. It is the weather equivalent of getting the water right in a baby’s bath – a parameter of about 3 degrees – and any variation either side, can be potentially hazardous to our health.

I know there are people out there, who will argue that we should enjoy the nice weather, and make the most of our all-too-fleeting summer while we can, but these people tend to make that argument whilst sat in their garden, or outside a pub, with a nice cold pint of beer in their hand.

These people are not trapped in an office. An office which, to be honest, might as well be used as a tropical greenhouse. An office without any air-conditioning, and with just one small window which, if opened any more than an inch, will cause all loose paper within the room to go flying off in every direction (even though a cursory glance out of said window, will establish that there appears to be no breeze whatsoever outside – not even a gnat’s fart).

These people are not sat there, in a suit and tie, on a faux-leather office chair, with a case of swamp-ass so chronic, that they are currently experiencing the optimum conditions for growing mushrooms in their underpants.

These people do not suffer with hay fever – the most pathetic, yet utterly debilitating, of all the seasonal ailments. They are not sat there with their eyes streaming, so red and sore and itchy, that their work colleagues have been asked to hide all sharp implements, lest they attempt to relieve the incessant itching with a rusty fork. They are not sat there, in their sodding beer garden, sneezing into that delicious ice-cold pint of lager.

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These people do not have embarrassing bodies. Not necessarily what society considers an amazing body (because they are, after all, British), but sufficiently toned that they can comfortably strip down to very little, despite being in public, and flaunt what they are so very lucky to have.

They need not worry about any unfortunate sweat stains, whether underneath or nestling on top of the embarrassing mound they call a stomach; on the backs of their damp, clinging shirts; or, worst of all, on their sagging posterior when they rise from a seat. You will never accidentally walk in on them, while they perform lunges in their office, hoping to sufficiently aerate their clothes before meeting another human being.

These people have wonderful, care-free temperaments, largely because they are the sort of person who can be sat in a beer garden on a glorious day. They have no need for angry outbursts, whether in response to irrational / ungrateful / unreasonable clients, or simply because their damn stapler has run out of staples again.

Never will you hear them scream the phrase: ‘Well, why didn’t you tell me you were nearly out of staples, you useless fucking excuse for office equipment?’ They live a perfectly care-free (and stress-free) existence, and will never find their already sour mood exacerbated by the heat, to the point they cannot even tolerate their own children anymore.

These people tan beautifully, sat there in their fucking beer garden, as they sip that delicious ice-cold nectar, and smile at the other beautiful people around them. They require no more than a minute, to delicately (and erotically) apply a small blob of sun cream to the 92% of their attractive bodies currently exposed to the sun. They need not concern themselves with the triviality of adequate protection and coverage, because they will inevitably turn an alluring golden-brown colour, in just a few hours, regardless of what factor sun cream (and how much) they use.

Never will they feel the need to spend an hour and a half, liberally slapping vastly excessive quantities of factor 50 sun cream to every single nook and cranny of their pasty, flabby bodies, until they look like they have been the victim of an explosion in a mayonnaise factory. They will never have to leave the house so plastered in sun cream, that any physical contact with another human being over the course of the next week, will see that person slip away from them, like a wet bar of soap.

Never will these people stand in front of a mirror, after just twenty minutes of exposure to sunshine, wondering why the nose they lathered in sun cream a short while earlier, now resembles the conk of someone with a heavy drinking problem. Never will they stand in a tepid shower, crying because the water hurts so damn badly, and wondering how their feet managed to get burnt when they were wearing socks all day.

These people are everything I am not. I hate these people. May their beer always go flat and warm, and may a fly take a shit in it.

Still, at least I’m not Scottish or Irish. I feel really sorry for those poor bastards right now.

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Four Seasons In One Blog

As we approach the end of November, we once again wave goodbye to autumn, (or ‘fall’ if you happen to be of the American persuasion), and I for one won’t be sorry to see the back of it.

I know some people are really fond of autumn, with all its pretty colours, but I can’t help thinking that there are nice colours in the other three seasons too, and they have a lot more going for them besides. If pretty colours are all you’re after, you can pop along to your nearest B&Q at any time of year, and check out a Dulux paint chart. That way, you’ll get all the colours your heart desires (and even some that it doesn’t), without the added risk of slipping on wet leaves or, worse still, dog shit that has been hidden by wet leaves (unless B&Q have really let their standards slip – pun intended – since the last time I paid them a visit).

Autumn is by far and away my least favourite season. Admittedly, I haven’t ever given much thought to what my favourite season is (until now), but certainly autumn comes in last. I don’t suppose anyone reading this will really care what order of preference I would place the seasons into, as it seems a rather pointless exercise (and I’m not entirely sure I even care myself), but damn it I’ve come up with the title now and I’m determined to see it through. Besides, I spent that long in my youth trying to work out the order in which I would sleep with Girls Aloud, I feel like I’ve already scraped the bottom of the ‘ranking’ barrel anyway.

So, here comes my month by month analysis of the four seasons, to determine which is my favourite…

SPRING

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Spring has a lot going for it. The weather is starting to pick up and get warmer, the football season reaches its exciting/disappointing climax, and fans of autumn get their pretty colour fix, as lots of lovely flowers starts to appear.

March – ok, it’s still pretty nippy out, and definitely too early for shorts (unless you’re one of those people), but the chance of snow is now pretty remote, and you can finally start to forget winter and look ahead to Easter – which either falls at the end of this month, or the start of the next one. In 2016, Easter will be in March, and that means two bank holidays and a shit load of chocolate. And if that’s not sufficient reason to give March a good score, I don’t know what is.

Score – 7/10

April – the weather is picking up nicely now, so it’s acceptable to dig out your shorts/skirts from the bottom of the wardrobe, and give those pasty white British legs some much-needed sunshine. Also, since my beloved Stockport County plummeted into obscurity, April is now the end of our football season, which is both exciting and disappointing in equal measure. Disappointing because it means no football for the next few months (aside from having to suffer England being embarrassed at a major tournament every other year), but also because, well, County’s seasons tend to end badly of late. This, unfortunately, lets an otherwise splendid month down.

Score – 7/10

May – Ah, the jewel in spring’s crown. May has a lot of good things going for it. It is often far nicer weather-wise than the disappointing summer months which follow, and it’s now light much later into the evening, so you can spend some lazy Sunday afternoons sat outside a country pub. Also, there are two bank-holidays, as well as two very important birthdays – my boys. May will always hold a special place in my heart, as it’s the month that gave me two of the best things in my life: Ollie and Isaac.

Score – 8/10

Total score for Spring: 22/30

SUMMER

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I suspect my wife would choose summer as her favourite season, but that’s because she is a teacher, and all teachers like summer because it means a wonderful respite from the evil little twats they encounter on a daily basis. Summer is also festival season, but I am now far too old and far too sensible to sit in a wet tent for a few days, surviving on fast food and hoping to God I don’t need to go for a shit any time soon.

June – Make the most of this nicer weather, folks, because no matter how much you expect July and August to be hot, unless you’re travelling abroad on holiday, they sure-as-hell won’t be. For a while now, I’ve thought that we should call April to June ‘summer’, because July and August have had plenty of opportunities to deliver nice weather and never do, so I’ve lost all faith in them. On the down side, there’s no domestic football in June (although next year will see the European championships in France to make up for this) and, just as you’ve become accustomed to having a couple of extra days off, June offers no bank holidays whatsoever. What gives, June? To make matters worse, two of the most detestable events in the British calendar take place this month: Glastonbury and Wimbledon.

Score – 7/10

July – Although it’s the teachers who enjoy the school holidays more than anyone else (more so, even, than the children themselves), the rest of us can at least enjoy lighter traffic during rush hour for a while. That is, until the local Council (and this applies wherever you are in the country) choose this precise moment to carry out all the roadworks they have been planning for the first six months of the year. I get the reasoning – if they do the roadworks now, it affects less people – but those of us who commute have been looking forward to a quieter journey to and from work for ages, and the only thing that changes is that we’re now sat at temporary traffic lights instead (which are pre-programmed to malfunction every other week). July had the potential to be a great month, but the weather and the councils have ruined it. Bah.

Score – 6/10

August – August is expected to be hot, and sometimes it is, but only for a few days. For the remainder of the month, we have to endure not only terrible weather but, even worse, we have to suffer the tabloids bitching about it. Yes, we all know the British summer is shit, and because we all know this, you don’t need to remind us and make us feel worse every year. Then, just when you’re feeling really despondent, the latest series of X-Factor starts. Well, that’s it, isn’t it? It’s nearly fucking Christmas now. Fortunately, August has one redeeming factor – the football season begins. Oh football, how we have missed you for the past few weeks. Don’t ever leave us again (until next April / May).

Score – 6/10

Total score for Summer: 19/30

AUTUMN

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I think I’ve already made my feelings towards autumn quite clear, so let’s make this as quick and painless as possible (unlike autumn).

September – in fairness, September isn’t that bad. Again, the teachers will all disagree, but it’s nice to have the kids back at school where they belong, rather than running around everywhere like escaped lab rats. The weather often picks up a bit too, following another rubbish summer, so I get to wear shorts to the football, much to the delight of the ladyfolk of Stockport. Make the most of these long evenings though, because October is about to fuck everything right up.

Score – 7/10

October – ah, the month when the clocks go back and it all goes wrong. Thanks to October, I will now be seeing considerably less daylight for the next few months, because it will be dark when I get to work, and darker still when I leave, so unless I venture out of the office on my lunch break, I am essentially nocturnal. And don’t give me any of that ‘one hour extra in bed’ crap either, because that only means one additional hour of being kicked black and blue by Isaac, so it’s hardly sufficient compensation.

Then there’s Halloween. Having young children of my own, I don’t mind the concept of Halloween if it’s for the kids, but I cannot abide adults getting dressed up because they think it makes them quirky and more fun (it doesn’t, and a middle-aged woman dressed as a ‘slutty’ devil/cat is not sexy in the slightest). Even worse, it gives thuggish teenagers the opportunity to go door-to-door and hold pensioners ransom for a few sweets or cash.

Score – 5/10

November – Oh, if you thought October was bleak, wait until November starts. I quite like Bonfire Night, huddled with the family around a bonfire, because we’re all dangerously close to losing limbs to frostbite, but since Ollie is scared of fireworks, and they appear to be the only thing the dog can still hear and get scared by (as he sure as hell can’t hear his own farts anymore), we end up staying indoors.

November, as far as I can tell, only has two redeeming features. Firstly, my mum’s and wife’s birthdays, which always mean a family get-together, and secondly it tends to be the month the latest Bond film is released. Spectre, incidentally, is brilliant.

Other than that, November is even worse than October, and it can piss right off. If I want something dark, cold and wet, I’ll have a Guinness.

Score – 4/10

Total score for Autumn: 16/30

WINTER

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Where autumn got cold and dark, winter gets colder and darker. But, for one very good reason, we don’t seem to mind as much….

December – Christmas. You have to be dead inside to hate Christmas. Ok, having young children makes it all the more special, but everything about Christmas is great, and all of a sudden the things that would normally annoy you throughout the rest of the year are acceptable. Rain, as we all know, is rubbish, yet we get excited about its colder, fluffier cousin, snow (until it melts, then it’s shit again). Crowded shops are horrendous, but if you can hear someone singing carols in the distance, it’s mysteriously not as bad. Even Noddy Holder’s voice is somehow tolerable.

Eat, drink, and be merry, because another crappy year is just around the corner.

Score – 8/10

January – ok, New Year’s Eve is very squarely in December, I know that, but I still think January needs to share some of the blame for this abomination. After all, if it wasn’t for January, December would just carry on endlessly, we wouldn’t need New Year’s Eve, and it would be Christmas forever.

New Year’s Eve is overrated, overpriced (if you go out), and more often than not a total disappointment, which sets your mood up quite nicely for the pile of garbage that is January. All the terrible weather, but with the added bonus that Christmas is over, there’s nothing to look forward to, and you’re skint. Fuck off January.

Score – 4/10

February – my birthday month, so I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I get nice presents, go out for a meal, and generally celebrate life, but then it dawns on me that I am now one year older and slightly more decrepit than I was the day before. Also, there is more chance of seeing snow in February than in December (I have certainly ‘enjoyed’ more white birthdays than Christmases), but it holds none of the magical charm that it does at Christmas. By February we are so over snow, that it is met with utter disgust, rather than childlike excitement. Still, it’s a short month, and things start to look up again in March.

Score – 6/10

Total score for Winter: 18/30

Conclusions

I told you autumn is shit, and I think the above proves me right, but winter wasn’t far behind and, had it not been for a fat man in a red coat, some mince pies, and enough alcohol to slay a horse, the outcome would have been very different.

The winner, perhaps surprisingly, is spring, but then it does have four bank holidays….

…oh, and its Kimberley first, then Cheryl, Nadine, Nicola and finally Sarah (but only if I had to).

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