Like a Blog With a Bone

Those of you who attend my weekly (virtual) pub nights at Ye Olde Cock & Balls each Friday evening will be aware that, for the past couple of weeks, I have been encountering some problems with the strength of our internet connection – particularly during the picture round of my quiz.

94627391_2690488437851661_3778786358156328960_n

Well, after trying to contact our broadband provider, Sky, for a fortnight now, including one ‘online chat’ session where, having waited for two hours, our connection was lost and it kicked me out (hey, irony, fuck you), I have finally resolved the situation.

And, by that, I mean I properly resolved the situation, rather than simply ripping all of the Sky equipment from the various sockets in our lounge, dousing it in lighter fluid, and then torching the entire lot in the back garden (which, believe me, was next on my list of potential solutions). Even more amazingly, I am still a Sky customer.

Look, I know I should probably have considered switching our various packages to an alternative provider, but the truth is my wife and I really like some of the Sky-specific channels, and would hate to be without them. Plus, the boys love the wide range of children’s shows available on our additional ‘Entertainment Package’.

download (3)

Finally, above all else, I hate change, and I am inherently lazy, so I often find it preferable to stay with a company rather than shop around for a better deal. Yes, I know I negotiate for a living, but please also bear in mind that I largely dislike my chosen career, and would rather not bring that aspect of it home. Besides, do chefs walk through the door after a busy day in the kitchen and instantly want to cook for the family? No. Do cleaners come back from work and immediately make a start scrubbing the oven? Unlikely. Do strippers arrive home and promptly undress seductively for their partners?…. Well, only in my dreams. You get the idea.

My point is, for various reasons, I didn’t want to actually leave Sky, but equally we could not continue as a family with such a piss-poor broadband connection – not least because we now have two adults working remotely, two children being home-schooled on laptops, and various other essential devices (such as phones and tablets) all draining our WiFi, which only had the strength of an asthmatic pensioner atop a mountain in the first place.

So, yesterday, I put my big boy pants on, picked up the phone, and dialled the Sky complaint line. The following is an entirely accurate* account of the events which followed (apart from the fact I have made up the names of the people I spoke to, partly to protect their anonymity, but mostly because I can’t for the life of me remember what they were called)….

*sort of.

***

Automated Message: “Hi. Thanks for contacting Sky. Sorry, but we’re experiencing a really high call volume at present, so we’re having to prioritise our customers and can only currently deal with customers who are aged seventy or over, suffering with ill-health, or are classified as being a ‘key worker’, which includes all medical staff and teachers. If you do not fall into any of these categories, please hang up and try again when this shit-storm is finally over….

….

Ok, before we connect you through to one of our advisers, we will need to take you through security. Do you know your Sky account password?”

Me: “No”

Automated Message: “Ok. No problem. Can we take your mother’s maiden name instead?”

Me: “ **** ”

Automated Message: “Sorry, that’s not correct either.”

Me: “It fucking is…. Oh, unless the account is in my wife’s name?”

Automated Message: “Please say your mother’s maiden name.”

Me: “ **** ”

Automated Message: “Please hold for the next adviser.”

Me: “I could’ve sworn the Sky account was in my name….”

6397a7a64fe4e27b8a36e6e5960e7e25--what-matters-most-what-is

***

Adolf: “Hi, you’re through to Adolf, thanks for holding.”

Me: “No problem. It’s marginally preferable to listening to my children screaming.”

Adolf: “Ha ha! I know what you mean, mate.”

Me: “I’m not your mate. Let’s get on with this.”

Adolf: “Sure thing, buddy. Before we begin, can I just check your mother’s maiden name for security?”

Me: “Well, I just gave my mother’s maiden name and it said that was incorrect, so apparently the account is in my wife’s name and her mother’s maiden name  is ‘ **** ‘.”

Adolf: “That’s not what I’ve got down here.”

Me: “But your system just let me through with that?”

Adolf: “Weird. So, what is your mother’s maiden name?”

Me: ” **** “

Adolf: “That’s the one.”

Me: “Fuck’s sake.”

Adolf: “Ok, then. I just need to check you fit into one of the categories of customer we can deal with at the moment. Are you over seventy?”

Me: “I feel like it, but no.”

Adolf: “Are you suffering with ill-health?”

Me: “I get knackered walking up the stairs. Does that count?”

Adolf: “Not really. Ok, last category, are you or anyone in your household a medical professional?”

Me: “Well, no, but your recorded message just now mentioned teachers, and my wife is a teacher.”

Adolf: “But neither of you are medical professionals?”

Me: “No. We tend to find being a lawyer and a teacher keeps us busy enough. Plus, I have a rather popular online quiz I do every Friday, and-”

Adolf: “Look, I’m afraid we have to prioritise our calls…”

Me: “Yes, but I’m telling you the recorded message just now specifically stated that teachers are key workers. Which they are. Go ahead and check after this call, if you like, but if you cut me off, I will find out where your office is, drive there, and cut you. Ok?”

Adolf: “Well, I guess you’re on the line now anyway. What’s the problem?”

Me: “Our broadband is slow. Like, properly shit, and I want it improving considering how much we pay each month.”

Adolf: “Ok, well, I’ve just checked, and you do qualify for superfast broadband in your area, which we could set up for you in around a week.”

Me: “Sounds expensive.”

Adolf: “It’s £32 a month, but for an extra £5 a month you can also get the broadband boost, which guarantees fast connection throughout the house.”

Me: “Wow, imagine if we could get a connection throughout the entire house.”

Adolf: “Are you being sarcastic?”

Me: “A little. The problem is, the other reason for my call was to complain about the fact our monthly cost has just shot up, so I don’t really want to be making things more expensive.”

Adolf: “Ok, I’ll transfer you to one of my colleagues and if you mention that you want the superfast broadband with the boost, they’ll set out your options for the TV package as well.”

Me: “Fine. Put me through.”

Game Of Sighs GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

***

Genghis: “Hi, you’ve been put through to Genghis. How can I help?”

Me: [sigh] “Right, I want to add the superfast broadband with the boost that I’ve just been told about, but I also want to know why our television package went up nearly £20 last month. When I phoned a couple of years ago, I agreed to remove the sports package to save some money, but now we’re paying more than we paid before only without the sports included.”

Genghis: “Do you want to add the sport back on?”

Me: “Fuck no. I’ve just complained about how high our bill is. I want to bring it down, not increase it.”

Genghis: “What do you want to keep?

Me: “Well, mainly Sky Movies and the Entertainment package for the kids.”

Genghis: “What about the F1 channel?”

Me: “We don’t have that.”

Genghis:  “Yes, you do.”

Me: “I beg your pardon? We’ve never requested that. Have we been paying for it?”

Genghis: “Not exactly. It came free with the entertainment package as an introductory offer, but then the package changed in December and it was then additional.”

Me: “So, I’ve been paying for an F1 channel I never asked for since December?!”

Genghis: “No, we only started charging you last month.”

Me: “Bless your generosity. Take it off, now. I don’t want it, and haven’t asked for it. You can’t just force it on me and then start charging me for it. Who do you think you are, fucking U2? Besides, there’s no F1 taking place right now anyway, so what are you even showing?”

Genghis: “Old clips and stuff.”

Me: “Well, as much as ‘old clips and stuff’ sounds awesome, get rid. How much is it, anyway?”

Genghis: “£18.”

Me: “For one fucking channel?! A channel dedicated to something that isn’t even happening right now? Have you got a channel dedicated to Euro 2020 and the fucking Olympics too?”

Genghis: “There’s no need to be like that.”

Me: “Right, if we ditch the F1 we didn’t ask for, don’t want and have never once turned on, and we add in the superfast broadband with the boost thingy, how does that affect our monthly bill?

Genghis: “Erm…… it will bring it down by £31 a month.”

Me: “£31 less?! Why the hell hasn’t this been offered to us sooner?!”

Genghis: “You didn’t phone.”

Me: “So you wait for people to get pissed off and threaten to leave, then offer them a deal?”

Genghis: “Pretty much.”

Me:  “Do it.”

Genghis: “Ok…. sorted. And, since you’re now paying much less, would you like some sport back?”

Me: “Well, my son would love to watch Premier League matches, but there’s no games at the moment. How much is it, for future reference?”

Genghis: “That’s £18 a month, too.”

Me: “For how many channels?”

Genghis: “Just Sky Sports Premier League, so one.”

Me: “Jesus wept. At least Dick Turpin wore a mask when he robbed people. Besides, my son and I support a lower league side who you never feature, so it’s really not worth adding any football channels. It’d be cheaper for me to take him down the pub to watch matches. At least that way I can spend the £18 on beer.”

Genghis: “Fair enough. But, you mentioned lower league football, and we do feature some games. How low down the leagues are we talking?”

Me: “Stockport County.”

Genghis: “Ouch.”

Me: “Fuck off.”

Angry The Office GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

***

Thanks for reading x

Standard

Blog Marley and the Wailers

I have said it before – and I am about to say it again – I love crappy TV.

I think this is, in part, due to the fact my job tends to be quite serious and stressful at times, and raising two children isn’t always a barrel of laughs, either (particularly when one of those children happens to be Isaac), but I also think my love of terrible TV is helped by the joy I get from laughing at stupid people.

Now, in the interests of keeping the peace, I should stress that I don’t like to make fun of the clinically dense in real life (unless they really bring it on themselves), because it would not be fair to mock anyone whose elevator perhaps doesn’t go all the way to the top floor, but as soon as said thicko chooses to appear on television, particularly where their inadequacies in the brain department are likely to be exposed, it’s open season as far as I am concerned. Joey Essex, I’m looking at you (not that he would be able to read this, even in the unlikely event he stumbled across my blog).

Image result for joey essex gif

As a result, there are certain television programmes I particularly enjoy winding down with after a busy day/week (although I should stress, having just mentioned Joey Essex, I have never seen a single episode of TOWIE), sometimes with a glass of wine or two, in order that I can sit and feel smug about having all of my batteries included. The fact I am knitting with both needles. That all the lights are still twinkling on my Christmas tree. Ok, you get the idea.

Consequently, I’ll freely admit that I like The X Factor (but only in the early stages, when they have the dreadful singers who genuinely think they are the next big recording artist), and, in March 2016 – [gulp] was it really that long ago? – I wrote an entire blog entry about one of the finest programmes to come from these shores in recent years, Take Me Out (https://middlerageddad.com/2016/03/11/let-the-blog-see-the-rabbit/), so you get an idea of my level when it comes to watching TV. Essentially, my standards in choosing something to watch of a weekend, are on a par with the United States standards in electing a president.

1800

You might think, therefore, that the latest crappy singing competition to grace our screens for 2020, The Masked Singer, would be right up my street, and in some respects you would be right (as I’ve watched three shows now, and I will have to finish the series to find out who everyone is), but I cannot deny even I am struggling to tolerate it, and there are certain aspects which are now getting on my usually-very-tolerant nerves (oh, shut up, I’m a fucking delight and you know it).

If you have mercifully dodged The Masked Singer thus far (and, if that is the case, please don’t start watching it now on my account, as I don’t want to be responsible for any of my followers slipping into a catatonic state, or, worse, doing something stupid with a machete in a shopping centre), let me explain the concept: Twelve celebrities (and, I should immediately stress here, only three singers have been revealed so far as I write this week’s entry, and the word ‘celebrity’ has never been more abused), dress up in overly-comical costumes to sing for a panel of four judges, who then have to try and work out who the singer is from their voice and the clues supplied to them.

Honestly, it’s like the bastard love-child of Stars in Their Eyes and Through the Keyhole.

To give you an idea of the costumes the viewing public are treated to, the twelve ‘contestants’ are: Butterfly, Chameleon, Daisy, Duck, Fox, Hedgehog, Monster, Octopus, Pharaoh, Queen Bee, Tree and Unicorn. And here they are:

Of course, when selecting twelve overly-elaborate outfits for someone famous to disguise their identity and sing for the viewing nation, a tree is a natural (excuse the pun) choice, isn’t it? Oh, how I would dearly love to have been at that production meeting:

“Ok, so we’ve got a butterfly, a unicorn and a hedgehog. Any other ideas?”

“Tree?”

“Excuse me?”

“A tree…. oooh, and a Pharaoh.”

“Fuck off, Dave.”

It would be fair to say ITV have pulled out all the stops with the judging panel, too (yes, this is sarcasm), as they comprise the following ‘A-listers’: Jonathan Ross, Davina McCall, Rita Ora, and ‘head judge’ Kim Jeong (who, if you aren’t familiar with the name, played Leslie Chow in the Hangover trilogy). A strange choice, perhaps, but if it helps to explain his particular involvement, he has already appeared on the US version of The Masked Singer, and it is our cousins from across the pond that we have to ‘thank’ for the format reaching our screens.

download (13)

Now, the judging panel should give you some idea of the calibre of celebrity behind the masks, but just in case you had an inkling the budget was perhaps spent on persuading movie stars to get dressed up incognito and belt out a show tune or two, there have been three ‘celebrities’ unmasked so far, and they were, in order of fame:

The Chameleon….

download (10)

Justin Hawkins from ‘The Darkness’ (yes, this IS in order of fame)

the Butterfly….

download (11)

Patsy Palmer (who, for the unitiated, played Bianca in Eastenders)

And the Pharaoh….

download (12)

Alan Johnson (Former Home Secretary). Yes, honestly.

I mean, fuck me.

What makes the first three reveals even more incredible, is that the panel genuinely offered guesses including Tom Cruise and Lady Gaga, only to be thoroughly disappointed when Alan fucking Johnson, a man who might not be recognised by his own children, was paraded around like the Dalai Lama.

Now, perhaps it is pure coincidence that the first three singers to be revealed (i.e. those deemed to have the worst voices), are simultaneously the three least famous among the characters, and we can only dream that the remaining nine participants are the real budget-stretchers, but I fear not. After all, would Tom Cruise really have a better voice than the fella from The Darkness?

Nevertheless, in the interest (and I have never used the term more loosely), of maintaining some, erm…. interest in the rest of the series, I have decided to come up with my own wild predictions of who might be behind the nine remaining masks. However, unlike the majority of those still watching this utter pish, and the British press for that matter, I am not going to take my guesses too seriously (as should become immediately apparent).

So, in alphabetical order, I have now determined (based on the pointless clues provided thus far), the remaining nine masked singers are as follows:

Daisy = Pope Francis

Argument For: His Holiness probably likes flowers

Argument Against: Daisy is clearly female

 

Duck = Bob Marley

Argument For: It justifies my use of this week’s blog title

Argument Against: He’s slightly dead

 

Fox = George Clooney

Argument For: George once played the lead in ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’

Argument Against: Would probably demand a higher appearance fee than, say, Former Home Secretary, Alan Johnson

 

Hedgehog = Pep Guardiola

Argument For: As the manager of Manchester City, he is used to being surrounded by pricks (I thank you)

Argument Against: Notoriously allergic to striped trousers

 

Monster = Vladimir Putin

Argument For: Requires little acting, as he is already a monster

Argument Against: Ol’ Vlad isn’t exactly known for embracing campness, is he? Well, not deliberately

 

Octopus = Prince Andrew

Argument For: Known to be ‘handsy’; diary is currently empty

Argument Against: Claims he cannot sweat, so would undoubtedly struggle in a heavy costume under studio lighting

 

Queen Bee = Beyonce

Argument For: Well, it’s her nickname, isn’t it? Plus, the bee can actually sing

Argument Against: Obsessed with Jonathan Ross, and not allowed within fifty feet of him

 

Tree = Tom Hanks

Argument For: Plays ‘Woody’ in the Toy Story films (woody = tree, geddit?)

Argument Against: Famous for his sense of humour, but even he has limits.

 

Unicorn = John Barrowman

Argument For: It’s clearly John Barrowman

Argument Against: None. Did you not here me? It’s clearly John Barrowman

 

Disclaimer: The Middle-Raged Dad accepts no legal liability whatsoever, should someone reading this week’s entry choose to place a bet on any or all of the above predictions. If, however, aforementioned bet pays out at ridiculous odds, said reader is obliged to provide Middle-Raged Dad a ‘prediction fee’ of 35% of the sum paid, within 14 days of being placed in receipt of funds. Cash, or the equivalent value in Jaffa Cakes, are the only acceptable methods of payment. This does not affect your statutory rights. 

Thanks for reading, folks x

 

Standard

Mince Pies and EggBlog

Well, it’s December, and that can mean only one thing – it is now acceptable to discuss Christmas.

I know some people begin getting all festive before the embers have fully died out on the bonfire, but for me you need to wait until midnight has ticked by on 30th November before you scoff that first mince pie, or even consider braving the loft to retrieve those decorations (which, incidentally, I am convinced I only shoved back up there about a month ago).

We all know Christmas is a magical time, particularly for the kids, but the real magic of Christmas, is that it is the one time of year when anything goes. You will eat, and drink, and behave like a totally different person from now until Boxing Day, all with one simple excuse – it’s Christmas. Christmas is like a month-long ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card. In short, at Christmas time, the unacceptable suddenly becomes acceptable.

Here are seven examples of unacceptable Christmas behaviour, that no right-minded person would even contemplate at any other time of the year….

1. Fancy Dress

 

There are only two categories of adult human being who consider fancy dress as normal acceptable behaviour – actors, and the medically unstable.

Look, I am willing to turn a blind eye when it comes to Halloween, because I get that some parents will dress up for their kids, and I suppose the occasional stag/hen party is permissible, so long as they show some imagination (although, the last hen party I encountered – in Stockport – had clearly opted for the theme ‘drunken slags’), but for the remainder of the year fancy dress should be restricted to children only.

Not at Christmas though. Oh no. Once 1st December arrives, all bets are off, and you won’t make it through a twenty-four-hour period without encountering a Santa Claus, a ‘Mrs Santa’ (note for the ladies, not all of you can actually carry off a ‘sexy’ Mrs Santa outfit, so proceed with caution), a snowman or an elf.

I should know, because I hate fancy dress, but if you are reading this on the day of publication (Friday 7th December), then I am currently dressed like this for the Alzheimer’s Society’s ‘National Elf Day’ (which I’m pretty convinced my colleague made up, to make me look like a twat in front of clients):

47578685_2281710365396139_8000811120761765888_n

As you can see, I’m delighted about this. Ah well, it is Christmas, I suppose.

And I guess some festive fancy dress is ok…..

women-christmas-fancy-dress-category-image

2. Sprouts

No one in their right mind would consume these evil little balls of foulness at any other time of the year, so why do we allow them to infiltrate our dinner plates come Christmas? They smell of fart, they taste of fart, and they make you fart.

And, before you pipe up with ‘I honestly like them!’, no, you fucking don’t. You’re either lying to yourself (and the rest of us); or, worse, you honestly believe you like them, in which case you are a danger to society, and should be quarantined post-haste. See also: granola, kippers, olives (black and green).

Sprouts are awful, and disgusting, and my dinner plate come Christmas Day will be absolutely crawling with them. Because I wouldn’t have it any other way.

brussels-sprouts1

3. Christmas Songs

26th December to 30th November:

“Shall we put some Mariah Carey on?”

“Fuck off.”

 

1st December to 25th December:

“Shall we put some Mariah Carey on?”

“I-I-I DON’T WANT A LOT FOR CHRISTMAS, THERE IS JUST ONE THING I NEEEEEED!”

4. Breakfast

For eleven months of the year, I will hazard a guess that your daily breakfast consists of something like cereal, or toast, or fruit. Now and again, you may treat yourself to sausages, or bacon, or eggs – or even all of the above, in that most glorious of treats, the full English breakfast.

Then, December begins, and any sense of self-restraint goes straight out of the window. You will justify that third bacon sandwich of the week, because it’s nearly Christmas. You might even scoff a mince pie, or a chocolate bar, before the school run, because it’s nearly Christmas.

But this is nothing, and I do mean nothing, compared to Christmas Day itself. On Christmas Day, all sense of decency vanishes, and sheer, unadulterated gluttony takes over, as you devour an entire Terry’s Chocolate Orange, or half a tin of Quality Street (orange creme, thanks for asking) before 7am.

51KaS9A2yhL._SX450_

Even at Easter, a religious holiday now seemingly devoted to chocolate (amazing how the chocolatiers – and, to a lesser extent, the bunny community – managed to wrangle control of that one), most sensible adults wouldn’t dream of scoffing every last bite of a giant Toberlone before sunrise, yet at Christmas we seemingly think nothing of it.

And, best of all, we get to wash it all down with…..

5. Weird Alcohol

Assuming you are not an alcoholic, then aside from Christmas, there are only two other occasions when drinking alcohol first thing in the morning is considered acceptable: when you are at an airport about to fly away on holiday, and on your wedding day (when the bride may have a glass of champagne with her Maid of Honour, and any bridesmaids of sufficient maturity, and the groom will neck something a little stronger, to numb the pain of the horrible mistake he is about to make*).

*joke, dear.

However, it is not the timing of the alcohol consumption which really worries me about Christmas, it’s what we drink. For example, at no other point throughout the year, would I even entertain the notion of sipping a glass of sherry of an evening, but I can easily clear a bottle by myself during Christmas week alone.

Look, I know it’s not a manly drink in the slightest, but I don’t think downing a litre of Harvey’s Bristol Cream in the last week of the year is going to make me seem any camper than I already am, so I’m not overly concerned.

2083e

Then, ladies and gentlemen, we have eggnog. What in the name of all things sacred is eggnog? And don’t say ‘Advocaat’, because we both know full well you haven’t got a fucking clue what that is either. You can’t explain one mysterious drink with another mysterious drink.

Even the name concerns me, because no alcoholic beverage should ever feature the word ‘egg’ (or, for that matter, the word ‘nog’). A nog, for those unaware, is a small block of wood. Nowhere else in the off licence would we accept a drink with a name formed from a dairy product and a small block of wood. Anyone fancy a quick cheese-peg or cream-wedge? No, didn’t think so.

And don’t even get me started on mulled wine.

6. Rubbish TV

I don’t watch soap operas, apart from with my mother-in-law at Christmas. I don’t tend to watch reality shows, except at Christmas. And even though I don’t mind the Queen, if someone offered me the option of watching a woman in her 90s give a meaningless speech in June, or July, or even on any other day in December, I’d politely decline or make up an excuse not to.

But this is Christmas, and so help me God I need to find out who shot so-and-so on Corrie.

2015 Rita.JPG

7. Christmas Shopping

Christmas has been almost entirely commercialised, whether you agree with that or not, but for someone who has never been a huge fan of shopping anyway, schlepping around stores looking for gifts at the same time as the rest of the country is not my idea of fun. In fact, I would far sooner drizzle my gentleman’s area with honey, then dangle it in front of a bear’s face.

Yet people seem to tolerate, no, love, pushing their way from one shop to the next in the build up to Christmas, fighting to grab those last minute gifts for relatives you don’t even like, and won’t see again until the same time next year (if any of my relatives are reading this, I don’t me you, obviously).

Even my wife, who treats Christmas shopping as her all-time favourite sport, and who once spent three days in the Trafford Centre buying gifts (honestly, we had to set up a ‘base camp’ outside Clintons), now avoids the place once December starts. It’s ridiculous. The Trafford Centre is so vast that it is twinned with Luxembourg, but if you visit on a Saturday throughout December, you won’t find a spare parking space among the 47,000 available if you don’t arrive before 9am.

article-2054568-0E8FDFD500000578-799_634x401

No, I much prefer to do my Christmas shopping in my underwear*, and since the Trafford Centre kicked me out the last time I tried it there, I now purchase nearly all of my gifts online. Not that I have many to buy, as my wife takes control of purchasing for most of our family.

*no picture available.

Of course, nowadays we also have the ‘Christmas Markets’ to contend with, where cities and towns have taken the concept of crowded shopping, and moved it outdoors into the freezing cold.

Never mind, at least we can all stay warm with a steaming cup of disgusting hot wine.

giphy.gif

Thanks for reading x

Standard