Avatar Bamse Mums

Hey kid, are you hungry? Do you need something to snack on before dinner?

What you need is a bag of Bamse Mums.

Joyful in every sense of the word

We take the finest things that sugar can produce and fashion them into someone that would make even a Smurf squint with glee.

Hidden beneath a veil of chocolate is something that up until writing this post I wasn’t quite sure what it was. It tasted like milk but it’s actually a marshmallow. Yeah, one of them covered in chocolate but also tasting a bit like a Kinder Egg. In the shape of a bear. Sort of shaped like a bear. In your mouth.

Trust me, with a packet full of these in your pocket, well, they’d melt obviously because it’s summer. They would melt into the sexiest confectionary you have ever seen or maybe not because they’re made in France but my sister sent some over from Sweden. Also nobody is impressed with melted chocolate unless they’ve got a hoover bag covered in holes for a brain.

English people probably don’t know what they are. They’re Bamse Mums.

Import some today and wonder why you bothered to do so in the first place.

Avatar Everybody wants to rule the world… or do they?

In 1985 Tears for Fears released a song called ‘Everybody wants to rule the world’. It was a fearless, techno-infused death metal hybrid about the merits of being in charge of everything. That’s a big lie; it was a endlessly catchy pop song about the perils of being in charge. It does beg the question as to what would be the point in having the biggest chair of all chairs?

Lots of comic book supervillains are always desperate to take it over: Magneto, Dr. Doom, Lex Luthor and Darkseid to name a few. Looking at the state of the planet now, I’d say that it would be more of a chore than anything else to run the world. Earth isn’t fun anymore. It’s a dried up husk of a planet filled with dangerous morons outnumbering the sane, level-headed people by about fifty to one. We’re running low on resources, running out of space and now apparently plastic has been found in people’s blood. I don’t remember eating plastic, it must have been in a frenzy the last time someone put a box of Malteasers in front of me and I swallowed them whole, box, cellophane and all.

This all sounds very serious so before I completely step into my ‘Serious Ian’ shoes, let’s take a step back.

Imagine the paperwork involved; you would never leave your desk and certainly don’t even think about taking a full hour lunchbreak. You’d be running around 195 countries each with their own way of doing things. Sure, you’re the one with the big boots and flashy sash but you can guarantee someone is going to have a problem with your agenda or, even worse, your face.

“China wants a bouncy castle for its ten thousandth birthday!” shouts your secretary. Just before you pick up the phone to check what St John’s Community Hall can offer there’s an email in your inbox because Brazil called Peru a naughty name and now its sulking off the gulf of Mexico and it has to hand over the figures regarding its GDP before the end of the day. France has been in jail for nine days and no matter how many times you shock it with electricity it won’t tell you where your car keys are.

There’s a splat at the window. Poland is throwing eggs again. You’ve already cut off its pocket money and it still won’t respect your decision to hold the next Olympics in Australia.

Just when you think Thailand, Singapore and Qatar have their harmonies fashioned for your board meeting on Friday, Thailand sleeps in and misses the final dress rehearsal. Now you’ve got to go crawling on your hands and knees to Saudi Arabia in the hope that your fourth choice will forget the fact that you let them go in favour of the country with the slightly better baritone.

Even if you had superpowers and you could crush people with the weight of your toxic masculinity, where’s the thrill of being king or queen of the world? It’s not even something that would impress people anymore. The general public is impressed when a monkey rides a tortoise and someone films it. That’s an eight million hit on YouTube. Bragging rights for ownership of the planet Earth? Nothing. I bet all the other planets are always giggling about us because we still haven’t mastered space travel and Kanye West has now released eleven albums and still shows no sign of stopping.

No, I’m afraid if I was handed the keys to the globe I would turn and walk away. It’s just not for me. I’m out.

Avatar Strong words

Reviews are very useful when deciding if the thing that you think that you want is actually the thing that you want. Human beings are idiots, we want everything. See that patch of grass? You want that. I want it too. Let’s have a fight about it to decide who gets to have it. Whilst we’re fighting, someone comes along and takes it. They measure up the merits of the patch and review it on grasspatches.com. I read the review over your shoulder, holding a bag of frozen peas on my black eye and decide perhaps that wasn’t the right grass patch for me.

Everything gets reviewed these days from people and services to goods and refreshments. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a one star review of me somewhere with the words “could have done better but I did like his soft hair” painted around a picture of myself looking confused.

Some days I’m very interested in reading reviews and researching before deciding to purchase and other days I’m straight in there, balls deep, putting my card details straight away like a mega boss. I’m buying games and films, I’m not purchasing helicopters and hovercrafts like Kev. Those you have to take your time with because you don’t want to end up with a hovercraft that doesn’t hover or a helicopter that smells of wee.

This review made me laugh so much I had to take a screenshot and keep it for posterity. It’s for a Nintendo Wii U game called ‘Game and Wario’, a collection of strange and funny minigames that nobody really bought (because it was on a bobbins console) so now it’s commands a tall price. I’m not sure what the person thought they were doing but it was approved by the website and not only have three people confirmed it as ‘helpful’ but it’s also top of the list of ‘most relevant’ in the ten reviews the game has.

Further proof that the human race has completely lost the plot.

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.