As you probably know, for the time being I am shacked up in a different flat a long way from home. There are many things about these temporary arrangements that are new and different, but probably the newest and differentest is the windowsill by the front door.
In this little block of flats, you see, there’s a windowsill next to the main door leading out to the car park, and the residents here seem to use it as a kind of informal swap shop. Unwanted items occasionally appear here, with no indication of their origin, and disappear a day or two later.
In the past week, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of items up for grabs, including a whole host of cook books, a coffee table book of photographs of chocolate, and one of those books that only really existed in the late 1980s and early 1990s that had a beige front cover and was specifically about microwaving things.
Here’s the current offer as I write this.
Four dishwasher tablets
Three potatoes in a basket
Three packs of lard, one of which is in a sandwich bag
A small Breville slow cooker
A CD compilation of traditional Christmas songs
The bad news, though, is that this week’s real bounty has already been taken. Here is what the windowsill held yesterday.
Yes, it’s hard to hear, I know, but the Ricky Martin album has already gone. I’ve missed my chance. Someone else in another flat is now Livin’ the Vida Loca, and I’m left slow-cooking my lard and potatoes in silence.
Good news! For decades now, the rise of the computer age has seen the machines slowly automating one tedious task after another, freeing up the human race for higher and nobler pursuits, like watching reality TV or arguing about which Pokemon is best.
I said I’d bring you good news in these dark times and I jolly well will. The “jolly good” series continues with a tale of more free food.
It wasn’t a good easter for supermarkets and other food retailers. Near where I work, the food hall of a big department store remained open throughout the present mess, because it sold essential groceries, but as it wasn’t being visited by tourists and families any more, and as its customers were mainly just trying to buy food to help them survive, they didn’t sell all the chocolate they’d ordered in.
Now, if you go there, they are literally giving away chocolate at the exit, in an effort to shift it before it goes off.
Today, one of my colleagues headed out from work, explained that my department are all still working in central London, and that we’d be happy to help out with their problem. The food hall’s delighted manager couldn’t load him up with free chocolates fast enough.
We now have this.
The “this” in question is, at a rough estimate, more than 500 Cadbury’s Creme Eggs, plus a random assortment of whatever other Easter eggs and other things were lying around the storeroom.
I have eaten several Creme Eggs today, and I feel a bit sick. But in a good way.
Newsboost is going to be 11 years old this year. I watched it again recently and I’m still pretty pleased with it now, but back when we made it, it’s fair to say it was the crowning achievement of my life.
Obviously we wanted to do another one, and for a while there was a short-lived plan to follow up the news bulletin Newsboost with a late night current affairs programme called Newsboostnight.
It was going to be a special programme looking in depth at a scandal surrounding The Papples. This was when the only Papples album was “Masterpiece”, and we’d realised that all the songs on that album basically had the same tune.
Since there’s nothing in my life at the moment, and I have nothing much to write about, I thought I’d post the three pages of script that were written for Newsboostnight so you can enjoy them.
We’re all trapped indoors these days, since the prime minister lost everybody’s house keys and we all found that the front door wouldn’t open any more. I’m sure that’ll all be sorted out soon, of course, and I’ll be able to take the bins out, but for the time being I’m not getting around much and neither is anyone else.
While I’m being kept inside, like a neglected dog, I find myself missing the north. I usually go north regularly and now I can’t, and it’s only when I can’t go that I suddenly find how important it is to me to immerse myself, on a regular basis, in its rich culture and its even richer gravies.
So, as a consolation in these difficult times, I’ve created this moving ode to the north. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do, and that your cockles are warmed.
Are you a fan of Our Cheryl? I have to admit I didn’t know much about her before 3 Words, her debut solo album from 2009, plopped onto my doormat in a padded envelope. Cheryl Cole (previously Cheryl Tweedy, now Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, future changes of surname TBC) started out in Girls Aloud, a band created by the ITV series “Popstars”. She then went solo and is now an X Factor judge.
In these trying times, we’re all hearing more than enough that worries, frightens or discombobulates us. To ease your worries, calm your nerves and recombobulate your addled mind, I’ve decided to make a regular habit of posting good news.
Here’s the first hit of happy headlines. Strap in.
I was in Greggs this morning to get some breakfast, having spent the night away from home. After I placed my order, the barista (being from London I assume the people behind the counter are baristas, like in Cafe Nero) asked me “do you like gingerbread?”
That’s not a difficult question. “I do”, I replied.
He put a gingerbread man in a little bag and put it on the counter with my order. “Here you go,” he said. “That’s free.”
When I asked about this gingerbread generosity, he explained that head office had – for no reason he could see – sent him about 200 extra gingerbread men and he’d never be able to sell them all. So he was just handing them out to anyone who wanted one.
Admittedly my free gingerbread man has distressingly fat legs, and has been given icing and smarties in a particularly slapdash way, almost as though the person adding his buttons had 200 of them to do and thought they might all end up in the bin, but all in all this is an absolute win. Hurrah!