Avatar Cafetiere

I was given some free coffee so I bought a cafetiere to brew it up and enjoy the fresh taste of morning brown. The coffee was strong and rich so my taste buds, what little I had left, were in a joyful mood. Reuben tried some and instantly dismissed it. Now whenever he sees the cafetiere in the cupboard he refers to it as “middle class bullshit.”

There is a time for instant coffee and there’s a time to whip out the cafetiere. There’s also a time when you need to take a 600 million pound bag of tea and brew up some dirty black tea for you to enjoy, possibly whilst rocking back and forth in the corner of the room, but thankfully I haven’t quite reached that point yet.

Whilst musing on the wonders of life I came up with this playful little ditty. You can sing it or you can recite it like a spoken word poem:

Cafetiere, cafetiere,
Long of taste and long of flair
.
Cafetiere, your juice is fair,
Pour some for your closest frere.
Pour some for Jim, Danny or Claire.


Hint of peach or hint of pear,
Think there’s nothing going on in there?
Au contraire, my cafetiere
,
The savoir faire of cafetiere,
The savoir vivre of cafetiere
.

Yeah you’re right, I made it up on the spot and that’s what makes life so great. Next time you’re brewing some coffee perhaps you’ll come up with your own song.

Avatar Pointless Purchase of the Month – The Artist

Take a look around you right now and tell me what you can see. Can you see a shelf of shoes? Can you see a cat pawing at your conservatory door? Can you see two sailors quarrelling about figs? I expect that one or more of those things are within the reaches of your eyes (mental note: eye reach is a good thing) and I, for one, am very jealous that I cannot see them.

Jarrow does not have a lot of shops that one can peruse on a lunchtime. I have particular tastes so unless I’m in the mood for frozen food (Iceland) or ladies toiletries, or anyone’s toiletries really (Boots or Superdrug) I’m up a certain creek without a certain paddle. Thanks Jeebus then for Cash Convertors, peddling second-hand goods of a bizarre assortment and variety; it’s like having a carboot sale every day five minutes from work. Bliss.

I was most surprised then when, about to leave the shop, my noticing eyes noticed a peculiar sight. The stack of sad unloved DVDs and Blu-Rays sit on a shelf next to the cash register, close to the box of twelve inch vinyl records which I can guarantee have not been flicked through in years. There, in plain view for everyone to see, were copies of the film ‘The Artist’ on Blu-Ray. Not one, not two, not three but thirteen copies.

At that point I had never seen the film but remembered the Oscar buzz when it was originally released; a silent film about a silent film star struggling to cope with the transition to “talkies” after the advancements in technology and cinema but made in 2011. I left the shop however I returned a few days later. You may question my sanity and you would be right to do so. Why would one person need thirteen copies of the same movie? For 25p each I ask you, how could one person live with themselves knowing that they passed up on an opportunity to own thirteen copies of the same film? Exactly. I can’t justify it, deal with it.

As the member of staff scanned each Blu-Ray I was on the verge of asking how the store had come into possession of such a large quantity of the same film only he looked about as happy as a wet weekend in Bridlington so I came to the conclusion that it was better to not know. The reason would be lost in the sands of time. It was a blessing and I should not question it as such.

I watched the film and enjoyed it, it’s a lot darker than I expected it to be. There’s also a dog in it that’s way more impressive than most of the human cast because he’s clever and well-trained much like Eddie (or Moose if you will) from ‘Frasier’. Do I need thirteen copies of a great film? Of course not, yet I wouldn’t be able to write these words and possibly enrage Kevin by doing so without them. The best part is that eight of them are still sealed.

Happy trails!

Avatar The Craxford Diaries

A good few years passed with nothing much to take note of. Whatever he was expecting to happen in both his forties and his fifties did not happen, not a lot did. On the eve of his sixtieth birthday, McIver poured the boiling water from the kettle onto his Pot Noodle and decided now, five minutes before the deadline, he would put the lottery on one last time.

As he struggled with the tiny buttons on his phone, he remembered a time when the dexterical simplicities of his youth came to him so naturally and fluidly. He could amble, he could frolic, he could dial a phone number without repeatedly pressing the wrong digits, not that phone numbers existed in 2043.

An odd calm came over him as he bought the ticket and took his seat next to the large window, his trusty foot stool by his side, his old man blanket covering the delicate parts of his frail frame. As the numbers popped up one by one a fire was lit beneath his amble behind, a warmth he hadn’t felt in decades. Six numbers in a row picked out like posies in a summer meadow. A cool one point five million was his and his alone because there were no other winners that night.

The first thing he did was hire a butler. Mackford showed up the next day at 8am sharp dressed in the finest attire that the North-East could throw up. Mackford was not his name but the butler would go by any name to assume the position that lottery bucks could afford.

He looked at his new master, the greying yet still handsome Mr McIver, a cheerful look on his face admonishing all the years that ageing had taken away from him. Why, he looked ten years younger already dressed in his usual checked shirt and jumbledown jeans. A cut-price squire, a Lidl lord, the dapper red snapper.

“Take me to Greggs, Mackford,” he announced, stepping into his Seat Ibiza, carefully making his way into the back over the passenger seat, “I’m in the mood for pasties.”

Away they sped through the mid-morning air. The traffic, low and humming, the streets empty because it was a Tuesday morning and everyone of purpose was already at work. He hadn’t felt this at ease in years.

Outside they stood, Mackford eager to take up the challenge of his master, McIver licking his lips in anticipation of the prizes that awaited him. The latter entered the hallowed premises, softly at first but picking up speed as he deftly nimbled past the sandwiches. It wasn’t too long before there was a tap on his shoulder and Mackford was back at his side. “Is there a problem?” asked McIver. Mackford looked forlornly at his feet and nodded. Only the worst could have happened, they must be out already. Some fat pie hogger has hogged all the pies!

“I won’t stand for this! Out of my way, Mackford, I must see the manager!”

“It’s not what you think, sir,” replied Mackford, “there’s plenty on the trays. I… I don’t know how to say this but due to inflation the cost of a cheese and onion pasty has shot up to one hundred pounds a pasty.”

“A pasty? That’s outrageous. I’ve never heard of such an absurd concept, Mackford. What kind of a world do we live in when a ludicrous lukewarm smear of dairy and vegetable costs that much? Damn and blast, I can’t leave here empty-handed. I’ll have to settle for a sausage roll instead.”

“It only gets worse, sir, the sausage rolls are fifty pounds each.”

McIver took a seat on the nearest bench before he toppled over in disgust. A cold sweat appeared on his brow, a fearful chill down his back. He was finally living his dream, the dream of all dreams, the life of luxury only it was too late. The economy had caught up, inflation had made devils of them all and there was no way around it. With his head in his hands, McIver wept the sweet weeping of a lifetime and all the yum yums in the world couldn’t raise a smile on those lips.

Avatar Inventing the Future

I, like you, have a pair of feet (that is unless you’re Chris and you have three legs, or maybe four, I forget about that conversation in and around his shoe poem) and there is nothing that I wouldn’t do to protect my feet.

Someone invented shoes and the world rejoiced. From then there was some protection from the tiny little stones on that the ground, the acorns, possibly broken glass and even if someone has been a bit careless with their muesli. Oh, what a happy time it was.

But there was a catch. Each shoe was a one-way street; there was never a chance that the left shoe could be put on the right foot and vice versa. If you lost one of them then you had to find another that would fit. The unique shape on the foot meant that only a lefty would fit the left. People should have the freedom to wear what they wanted and that would never be the case.

Do you remember the old expression, “the shoe is on the other foot”? I see that as the future.

Imagine a shoe that could slip onto either foot. You’re no longer held captive by these prehistoric methods of yore. You’re so engrossed in that three bean salad podcast that you’re not even paying attention to what goes on where and, you know what? It doesn’t matter. My invention, the Neutral Shoe (no trademarks yet, please don’t steal my ideas), is pertinent enough to adapt to its surroundings, namely your foot. I haven’t drawn up the blueprints yet however I imagine the same sleek design from the heel to the long bit in the middle. At the end though, that’s when things get interesting.

It curves around so it’s wide enough to fit either the left or right foot. Your toes are free to wiggle about yet it’s still snug enough to not feel as though you’re walking around in a pair of flipflops (nobody wants that). The Neutral Shoe will be a thing of beauty; not necessarily solving any of life’s major problems but there to offer a helping hand (or foot) when you need it most. Putting on a pair of shoes will be different and new at the same time.

All I need is five hundred thousand pounds and I can get to work. You have my bank details, gentlemen, and I look forward to seeing you all at the champagne launch ceremony in six to nine months time.

Avatar Floor “saga”

Not a saga, not really. I tried to think of the right word and all I could come up with was ‘ragu’ and that’s definitely not the right one. Nobody wants a floor ragu.

Here it is in all its sexy glory. My new hallway flooring, floor hall. Look at it as it stretches off into the distance because, yes, it is quite a long hallway. It would take a few strides to get up and down there, even with Kev and his gigantic pair of legs.

The original planning phase begin in November of last year. Me being the ultimate slob I am decided to wait until Christmas was done before commencing any work. Then I temporary lost my hearing in one ear and had to wait until Boots was ready to suck out the various globules of wax hiding in my ear canal. Then some other things happened that stopped me from doing it. Then my installer got covid. It’s been one hell of a ride.

Don’t look too closely at the edges though because Council architecture, like most things, is not infallible and after sixty years there has been a bit of movement. How do I know this? Because when we were laying the floor from the front door down towards the living room the wall seemed to bend slightly to the right meaning the perfect symmetry we had going on at the beginning wasn’t present anymore. The further in we went a thin section remained uncovered along the edge. It wasn’t even a straight line too, the git. This then meant that muggins here had to use all the offcuts to try and wallpaper over the cracks (so to speak) to avoid spoiling the illusion of goodness.

Patience is a virtue. In my post-covid blues state, off work and with not much else to be getting on with, I cut the remaining pieces needed to finish the job. Similar to all great works of art, from a distance the integrity and the beauty remains intact. Get close though, dangerously close, and all its shortcomings will become apparent. I therefore ask that you only inspect the floor using your regular eyes, possibly from six feet away, wearing a pair of sunglasses and being distracted by genies.

I don’t think that’s asking too much?

When is a saga not a saga? When it’s a… ragu. No, it’s still not coming to me.

Avatar BIG BA… NANAS

(Yes, it’s another stuck at home, covid post)

The virus hit me unexpectedly so much so that my cupboard wasn’t entirely brimming with food. The freezer was, thankfully, yet those perishables and little things you take for granted were already gone. I had to rely on the kindness of friends to drop shopping at my door. They could have flung it through my bedroom window and I would have been fine with that as long as I didn’t clock 4 pints of milk right between the eyes.

I asked for bananas and this is what I received:

Fruit fist

My hands are tiny anyway, they’re not the best for sizing up another item accordingly. These were the biggest, longest, fattest bananas I have ever had the pleasure of being in the company of. Sexual jokes aside (phwoar mate, get your lips round that, that’s the kind of girth ma missus would die for, someone’s gonna be happy tonight, are you sticking with the one or is the full bunch going up there etc. etc.) I found it easier to bite them along the side rather than trying to cut off a full disc. Is that the right expression? A banana disc? Let’s go with that.

Before they were fully ripened, because they turned up solid and green, you could have built a shed with one. You could have someone’s eye out with that. The option to beat a man to death with one was on the cards, if only I hadn’t been self-isolating the possibilities would have been endless.

Let us all say a psalm and remember, if you’re going to start a fight make sure your opponent isn’t in possession of a banana that’s greener than a Ninja Turtle and tougher than Chuck Norris.

Avatar The smart man cometh

Welcome to a story that starts off well, gets a bit bad and then goes all grand mal on your ass before you realise what’s happening.

I’m a nerd. I’m sorry to hit you with that reality but I’m not the cool guy you thought I was. I know that I dazzle you all with my endless tales of motorcycles, bar fights, chicks and umm cool stuff however in reality it is the complete opposite. My nerdity stretches to almost all levels of nerdom (although I’ve yet to play a proper game of D & D and I’m not ready to quite drop my trousers and start collecting Magic: The Gathering cards) although recently, and for the last few years, it has settled in v. game town.

I collect for a huge range of systems. The Sony PSP, the slightly older, less attractive handheld cousin of the PS Vita, has a large library and currently most of the games are dirt cheap. We’re talking cup of coffee and a toffee crisp prices here, people. We’re talking a day ticket on the bus with all the trimmings (you know, some have TVs that don’t work and some have a USB port so you can charge your phone because it’s an electric bus and it’s the FUTURE). There will always be rarer titles as there is for every console and it is here we find me with an idea.

The PSP isn’t region locked meaning you can buy a game from the other side of the world and it will run on your machine. There’s a game I’ve had my eye on that only ever keeps going up in price in the UK so, in a flash of brilliance, I check a used video game website in the US that I’ve used previously. Lo and behold there it is, in stock and about twenty quid cheaper overall. I know there’ll be postage and import tax to pay yet it’s too enticing to ignore. Surely this is a good idea and nothing can go wrong. This is the loophole that will see me through to the good side of the fence. I go to the basket only to be told that the website doesn’t post to the UK anymore.

Sniff sniff, can you smell that? If you can, it’s probably Brexit.

Foiled and a little crestfallen I mull over this for a day or two. Then it hits me, a second brainwave. Twice in one lifetime? When you’re hot, you’re hot! There’s a website where you can order anything from the US and have it sent to a shipping depot in the US, they’ll then reroute it to your address in the UK and sort out the tax and everything else at the same time. This is too good to be true, right? Right?

My fingers are already going, it’s ordered and paid for. I get the notification that my parcel is on its way to the depot. I am the Thriftmaster. Thrifting is my middle name. Bow before me, peasants, for I am both the king of the Co-op and king of the thrift.

I go to create the shipping request. Duties and tax are reasonable, of course there’s VAT and… the shipping method. The cheapest option available is a little over thirty dollars. Taking into account the aforementioned other charges, this will now put the total cost of getting the fucker to my address in the UK ten dollars more than I actually paid for the game.

I wanted to believe that this was a good idea. This will be the last time I try to be clever. For now, I will be sitting in the corner wearing the dunce hat and counting up to ten only missing the seven out every single time I try. I await your lambasting.

Avatar Time to shape up or ship out

Do you have poorly-raised pork? Are you in receipt of rude chops or maladjusted mince? Are you berated by bad bacon and lazy lamb cutlets? What you need is the best in the business to teach them a lesson they’ll never forget.

Manners for Meat will take your ill-educated meat products and transform them into something you can show to mother and father at the next boating ceremony.

Leave your meat with us and we will put them through an intense yet fair training regime to whip them into shape.

No more crossed words. No more mumbling under their breath. No more ill-advised comments during luncheons and dinner parties. No slouching, no passing wind, no loud burps the likes of which could shake the top of Ben Nevis and drip snow on all the surrounding villages.

Manners maketh the man but they also maketh the meat.

Give us two weeks and we will put them through their paces and leave a lasting effect that will be seen for generations to come (or until your next Sunday dinner).

Come for the manners, stay for the meat.