Friday, 27 March 2009

People should be seen and not heard

Everyone has a pet peeve.

Mine? Well, call me intolerant, but there is nothing more annoying than having to listen to some person’s inane conversation during the morning rush hour.

I really don’t care what you had for breakfast, what you’ve got scheduled at work, or what you’ll wear at the drinks do this evening. Just shut up and let me read my newspaper.

Ok so I’m only slightly sounding like I’ve got grumpy-old-man syndrome. I admit it. But seriously this is an invasion of my quiet zone and at 7.30 in the morning I’m rather protective of it. Sorry but that’s just how it is.

I just can’t quite understand why people have to talk so damn loudly in the confined space of public transport. Do they actually want other people to hear the intimate details of their lives?

I mean, it’s rather hypocritical isn’t it? This week there was the announcement about Facebook being able to store all wall posts so the British government could keep an eye out for criminals and terrorists. Well, the uproar over that was impressive – you know invasion of privacy and all. And yet, you can get the same information, only verbally, if you’re conveniently located on public transport.

Because the thing is you actually can’t help but listen in. Part of it is human nature – the perverted curiosity of what other people get up to. And the other part is, well, it is being publicly broadcast.

I for one have great difficulty not eavesdropping. Yes I feel a bit dirty but clearly it can’t be helped.

Though you do get to hear some interesting things. Like the time I overheard a guy trying to organise some weekend recreational drugs. His code words weren’t exactly genius – “leafy things”; use your imagination.

I suppose if people are going to talk so loud it’s not really my problem. But for some reason at morning rush hour it really grates – though that could just be coffee withdrawal.

But when someone imitates the barking of a Jack Russell Terrier, I’m sure I’m not alone in wanting to strangle the bejesus out of him.

Ok, so I’m a culprit myself. But only sometimes and I try not to be. I try to respect people’s quiet zones. Why can people not respect mine? Is it really that difficult to turn the volume down?

And before some wise arse points it out – yes I know, the solution is investing in an ipod.

People should be seen and not heard

Everyone has a pet peeve.

Mine? Well, call me intolerant, but there is nothing more annoying than having to listen to some person’s inane conversation during the morning rush hour.

I really don’t care what you had for breakfast, what you’ve got scheduled at work, or what you’ll wear at the drinks do this evening. Just shut up and let me read my newspaper.

Ok so I’m only slightly sounding like I’ve got grumpy-old-man syndrome. I admit it. But seriously this is an invasion of my quiet zone and at 7.30 in the morning I’m rather protective of it. Sorry but that’s just how it is.

I just can’t quite understand why people have to talk so damn loudly in the confined space of public transport. Do they actually want other people to hear the intimate details of their lives?

I mean, it’s rather hypocritical isn’t it? This week there was the announcement about Facebook being able to store all wall posts so the British government could keep an eye out for criminals and terrorists. Well, the uproar over that was impressive – you know invasion of privacy and all. And yet, you can get the same information, only verbally, if you’re conveniently located on public transport.

Because the thing is you actually can’t help but listen in. Part of it is human nature – the perverted curiosity of what other people get up to. And the other part is, well, it is being publicly broadcast.

I for one have great difficulty not eavesdropping. Yes I feel a bit dirty but clearly it can’t be helped.

Though you do get to hear some interesting things. Like the time I overheard a guy trying to organise some weekend recreational drugs. His code words weren’t exactly genius – “leafy things”; use your imagination.

I suppose if people are going to talk so loud it’s not really my problem. But for some reason at morning rush hour it really grates – though that could just be coffee withdrawal.

But when someone imitates the barking of a Jack Russell Terrier, I’m sure I’m not alone in wanting to strangle the bejesus out of him.

Ok, so I’m a culprit myself. But only sometimes and I try not to be. I try to respect people’s quiet zones. Why can people not respect mine? Is it really that difficult to turn the volume down?

And before some wise arse points it out – yes I know, the solution is investing in an ipod.

Friday, 20 March 2009

The art of a bad joke

The beauty of London is there is always the unexpected.

There is no run of the mill in this big city – prepare for the unpredictable, the bizarre and downright unimaginable.

Like last weekend when I went to a comedy show.

Ok, so when you think comedy, you think guy standing in front of a microphone trying to be funny. You, sitting in the audience, feel compelled to laugh. And if you’re lucky it’s not the wine giving you the giggles.

But at no point do you expect the comedian to suddenly drop his trousers, stuff his hand into his pearly white Y-fronts and proceed to… well, you know.

Ah ha, yep. I’m not lying. Three minutes.

Three minutes where this camp American comedian is standing there, trousers down at his ankles, skinny white chicken legs on show and a hand in his pants.

And I’m thinking, wow that is an interesting spot on the back wall. Is it a fly? No, couldn’t possible be a fly, it’s far too big for a fly. Maybe a squirt of ketchup…

This was unconventional comedy for sure – I mean who else has a comedy routine where two fingers have sex? (Sound effects included and a microphone practically swallowed).

Now I had not walked into an erotica show by accident; this really was stand-up comedy, only it had an 18+ sticker attached to it (that I’d somehow missed) and clearly small print saying small minds should not proceed. Fortunately I’m rather open-minded yet a large dose of courage was still required.

So there I am trying not to laugh – because I am a person of good moral character – praying he won’t pick on me – think sheep shagging jokes more than likely. And all the time that spot is getting more interesting. But how does ketchup get on a wall…

At least, the girls from Sheffield enjoyed it.

The art of a bad joke

The beauty of London is there is always the unexpected.

There is no run of the mill in this big city – prepare for the unpredictable, the bizarre and downright unimaginable.

Like last weekend when I went to a comedy show.

Ok, so when you think comedy, you think guy standing in front of a microphone trying to be funny. You, sitting in the audience, feel compelled to laugh. And if you’re lucky it’s not the wine giving you the giggles.

But at no point do you expect the comedian to suddenly drop his trousers, stuff his hand into his pearly white Y-fronts and proceed to… well, you know.

Ah ha, yep. I’m not lying. Three minutes.

Three minutes where this camp American comedian is standing there, trousers down at his ankles, skinny white chicken legs on show and a hand in his pants.

And I’m thinking, wow that is an interesting spot on the back wall. Is it a fly? No, couldn’t possible be a fly, it’s far too big for a fly. Maybe a squirt of ketchup…

This was unconventional comedy for sure – I mean who else has a comedy routine where two fingers have sex? (Sound effects included and a microphone practically swallowed).

Now I had not walked into an erotica show by accident; this really was stand-up comedy, only it had an 18+ sticker attached to it (that I’d somehow missed) and clearly small print saying small minds should not proceed. Fortunately I’m rather open-minded yet a large dose of courage was still required.

So there I am trying not to laugh – because I am a person of good moral character – praying he won’t pick on me – think sheep shagging jokes more than likely. And all the time that spot is getting more interesting. But how does ketchup get on a wall…

At least, the girls from Sheffield enjoyed it.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Winter blues and the gas bill

A sure-fire way to have a heart attack in your 20s is to get your winter gas bill.

The nice people at British Gas sent ours last week - £319.13

That’s three-hundred and nineteen pounds and thirteen pence. For me, that’s a lot.

It’s not an estimate. There’s no computer glitch, no mistake with the decimal point. It’s so exact I can’t even complain they’ve added an extra zero by accident.

Yes I feel hard done by. The winter was particularly cold. London had its best snow (or worst, depending how you look at it) in 18 years. I even tried my best at reducing energy consumption by wearing five layers and hugging a hot water bottle. I have a right to be warm, don’t I? I feel I should get brownie points and pay less for finding alternative means to keep warm, like alcohol imbibing (quite effective that).

Now I’m sure some of you received bills much bigger than mine and I’m genuinely sorry for you, but for me £319.13 (which, when divided between three flatmates equates to £106.38 each) is just downright exorbitant. I feel exploited and ripped off. I mean here we are in a middle of a recession, and I’m forking out this money as if it grows on trees, only to have it go towards some executive’s nice fat juicy bonus – albeit £319.13 won’t get him that far, but you get what I mean.

The news last month was that profits at British Gas dropped 34% to £379 million – a result of wholesale gas price hikes and despite already raising the British consumers’ gas price by 35%.

But hello – the company still made a whopping profit. A big £379 million. Unless I’m mistaken, that seems an awful lot of money.

You know, I suppose I should be grateful the company has now cut its prices by 10%. Only, if you do the maths, you would see that prices are still 25% higher.

So then my last gripe is that not only do I have to pay this ridiculously expensive bill but the nice people at British Gas expect me to be able to pay this within a week of receiving the bill. Are they trying to take the piss?

It becomes dire when the thought of pimping yourself out is a viable option to pay the bill.

Well, the nice people at British Gas should be happy; I paid the bill in full and on time – and by legitimate means. All I can say now is bring on summer.

Winter blues and the gas bill

A sure-fire way to have a heart attack in your 20s is to get your winter gas bill.

The nice people at British Gas sent ours last week - £319.13

That’s three-hundred and nineteen pounds and thirteen pence. For me, that’s a lot.

It’s not an estimate. There’s no computer glitch, no mistake with the decimal point. It’s so exact I can’t even complain they’ve added an extra zero by accident.

Yes I feel hard done by. The winter was particularly cold. London had its best snow (or worst, depending how you look at it) in 18 years. I even tried my best at reducing energy consumption by wearing five layers and hugging a hot water bottle. I have a right to be warm, don’t I? I feel I should get brownie points and pay less for finding alternative means to keep warm, like alcohol imbibing (quite effective that).

Now I’m sure some of you received bills much bigger than mine and I’m genuinely sorry for you, but for me £319.13 (which, when divided between three flatmates equates to £106.38 each) is just downright exorbitant. I feel exploited and ripped off. I mean here we are in a middle of a recession, and I’m forking out this money as if it grows on trees, only to have it go towards some executive’s nice fat juicy bonus – albeit £319.13 won’t get him that far, but you get what I mean.

The news last month was that profits at British Gas dropped 34% to £379 million – a result of wholesale gas price hikes and despite already raising the British consumers’ gas price by 35%.

But hello – the company still made a whopping profit. A big £379 million. Unless I’m mistaken, that seems an awful lot of money.

You know, I suppose I should be grateful the company has now cut its prices by 10%. Only, if you do the maths, you would see that prices are still 25% higher.

So then my last gripe is that not only do I have to pay this ridiculously expensive bill but the nice people at British Gas expect me to be able to pay this within a week of receiving the bill. Are they trying to take the piss?

It becomes dire when the thought of pimping yourself out is a viable option to pay the bill.

Well, the nice people at British Gas should be happy; I paid the bill in full and on time – and by legitimate means. All I can say now is bring on summer.

Friday, 6 March 2009

The adventure that is public transport

I got asked to take my clothes off on the tube last weekend.

Well, theoretically the whole carriage got asked – by a rather drunk man with a particularly bad five-o’clock shadow, who decided to bless me by sitting in the seat adjacent. After asking the woman opposite where he needed to get off, he then informed those in the immediate vicinity, and then the wider carriage, that we should all take our clothes off and have a bit of fun. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

You could tell he was drunk – other than the slurring – as in his mind he thought it was clearly possible to coerce a carriage full of people to take their clothes off and have an orgy between the stops of Elephant & Castle and Kennington – a journey of three minutes.

Of course, he got a lack lustre response; a few weird looks, others who imagined a giant black hole had swallowed him up.

Me? Well, I busied myself in my book, taking on that aloof air of someone far too engrossed to be interrupted. (Take home message for visiting London – always carry a book if travelling on the underground, especially late on a Saturday night. Also helps with take home message no. 2 – avoid making eye contact with other people).

Yeah, well, clearly reading a book does not act as a deterrent in the eyes of a drunk as he lent over and said, “Good book? Do you want to get naked?” I attempted to ignore him but the invasion of personal space got too much, so I looked at him incredulously and, as politely as possible, said, "that's alright, I'm more interested in the book thank you". Two-seconds later and crest-fallen he got off at his stop.

But this was not the only weird encounter I had that weekend.

While on an overground train, I caught sight of a rather nice looking chap sitting just down from me. Typically I checked him out – as you do. He didn’t notice me as he was completely immersed in a book – probably a classic; he did carry an old-school leather satchel and wore a scarf – you know, the “cultured type”.

But then, as if to entertain me, he started to pick his nose. And I’m not talking about a little flick to stop a tickle, nor a quick surreptitious in-out job. I mean, this was right up there; excavation-to-the-centre-of-the-earth type pick. And he was damned determined to get that booger too.

My estimation of him quickly changed. So much for cultured.

Not once did he look up from his book; not once did he think people might be watching. He was in his own little world enjoying some author’s literary achievements while investigating the inner depths of his nostril.

After foraging for – seriously – about a minute, he gave up. Whether he was bored or had achieved success, I don’t know (didn’t want to know).

And then, he licked his fingers. Now I know kids do this all the time after picking their nose. I remember doing it myself. But childhood snot is a little different to travelling-on-public-transport-in-London snot. For starters the latter is no longer green when you get off your ride. And quite frankly consuming that, even if we are in a recession, is just not cricket.

So, I wonder what little gems will greet me this weekend.

The adventure that is public transport

I got asked to take my clothes off on the tube last weekend.

Well, theoretically the whole carriage got asked – by a rather drunk man with a particularly bad five-o’clock shadow, who decided to bless me by sitting in the seat adjacent. After asking the woman opposite where he needed to get off, he then informed those in the immediate vicinity, and then the wider carriage, that we should all take our clothes off and have a bit of fun. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

You could tell he was drunk – other than the slurring – as in his mind he thought it was clearly possible to coerce a carriage full of people to take their clothes off and have an orgy between the stops of Elephant & Castle and Kennington – a journey of three minutes.

Of course, he got a lack lustre response; a few weird looks, others who imagined a giant black hole had swallowed him up.

Me? Well, I busied myself in my book, taking on that aloof air of someone far too engrossed to be interrupted. (Take home message for visiting London – always carry a book if travelling on the underground, especially late on a Saturday night. Also helps with take home message no. 2 – avoid making eye contact with other people).

Yeah, well, clearly reading a book does not act as a deterrent in the eyes of a drunk as he lent over and said, “Good book? Do you want to get naked?” I attempted to ignore him but the invasion of personal space got too much, so I looked at him incredulously and, as politely as possible, said, "that's alright, I'm more interested in the book thank you". Two-seconds later and crest-fallen he got off at his stop.

But this was not the only weird encounter I had that weekend.

While on an overground train, I caught sight of a rather nice looking chap sitting just down from me. Typically I checked him out – as you do. He didn’t notice me as he was completely immersed in a book – probably a classic; he did carry an old-school leather satchel and wore a scarf – you know, the “cultured type”.

But then, as if to entertain me, he started to pick his nose. And I’m not talking about a little flick to stop a tickle, nor a quick surreptitious in-out job. I mean, this was right up there; excavation-to-the-centre-of-the-earth type pick. And he was damned determined to get that booger too.

My estimation of him quickly changed. So much for cultured.

Not once did he look up from his book; not once did he think people might be watching. He was in his own little world enjoying some author’s literary achievements while investigating the inner depths of his nostril.

After foraging for – seriously – about a minute, he gave up. Whether he was bored or had achieved success, I don’t know (didn’t want to know).

And then, he licked his fingers. Now I know kids do this all the time after picking their nose. I remember doing it myself. But childhood snot is a little different to travelling-on-public-transport-in-London snot. For starters the latter is no longer green when you get off your ride. And quite frankly consuming that, even if we are in a recession, is just not cricket.

So, I wonder what little gems will greet me this weekend.