Avatar ABOFB 27: Through the Grey Hemisphere

We talked about forming a supergroup formed only of newsreaders, in the process we discuss:

  • All the newsreaders we could remember
  • The “Grey Hemisphere”
  • It all goes pervy
  • Ian’s creative process
A Breath of Fresh Beans
A Breath of Fresh Beans
ABOFB 27: Through the Grey Hemisphere
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Avatar Results Day

Don’t you hate it when things are about other people when really they should be about you?

Almost seventeen years ago I had a child and he got his GCSE results today. That took the focus away from me which never sits well with me. Technically he wouldn’t exist without parts of me so surely I should have been celebrated as well, it should have been my day as well but it wasn’t, it was all about him. So let’s turn back the clock and (try to) remember when I got my GCSE results all the way back in the year of mega panic, Y2K.

In my infinite wisdom I decided that I didn’t want to go to sleep and that I would stay up all night, and THEN go to school to pick up my results. In order to stay awake I drank at least half a dozen coffees to percolate the shizzels into my bloodstream, heavily peppered with a strong dose of sugar to sweeten the blow. This was the first time I had seriously started drinking coffee and I think it is probably the reason why I drink so much of the morning brown now.

Cup after cup I downed not knowing the repercussions to be felt two decades later. “This is a great idea,” I kept thinking, possibly whilst I shakily poured the next hot beverage.

But what would you do for those twelve or so hours, Ian, to keep your mind focused and stop from falling back into the blissful arms of sleep you may ask? I did the obvious thing, of course; I repeatedly listened to the song ‘History’ by the Verve to learn the lyrics. Then when I had reached an acceptable level of word learnery I then tried to learn the lyrics for the rest of the songs of the album ‘A Northern Soul’ because I was so cool and nobody could stop me.

In hindsight, everything about this was a stupid idea.

In the morning, bleary-eyed (not beary-eyed as I first typed) and groggy, I stumbled my way to school to pick up my magical envelope. Refusing to open it there and then I walked down to Tesco (where it was still situated in the old building opposite Barclays Bank) and revealed my results in the frozen food aisle. And there was much rejoicing.

Remembering is fun. That is, unless I’m mis-remembering and this is what I did the night before my A-Level results rather than my GCSEs.

Avatar The end of an era

Part of being an adult is knowing when to move on.

It can sometimes be a painstaking process because nobody wants things to end (that is unless it’s a certain house-esque particular room-based saga that will not be named for obvious reasons). An end is a sad time for all, a process which we are all prepared for at an early age and yet somehow still never manage to master it. What a sombre time to be alive.

Mr R. Brek died eleven years ago. I know this because it’s printed on his box. He has remained with me for all this time through now three job changes, two relationships and one pandemic (he was the emotional rock I needed when I was at my lowest). I don’t feel as though it is right to keep going though: he has served his purpose, he has provided a friendship that has never been in doubt and for all of this I think it is only fair that he is lain to rest. As in lain to rest for good now, properly. Over a decade and I’m still metaphorically flogging his corpse. This is not how you treat friends.

Goodbye Mr R. Brek, you will be missed.

Avatar The toolbox has arrived

It was my birthday, obviously, but as an adult man with his own bank account I very rarely have a list of gift-sized things that I want but don’t yet have. As a result, when Kev and Ian came knocking with birthday questions, the only thing I could think of was that I needed a toolbox because the house is littered with all sorts of DIY paraphernalia.

They sent me some money. I ordered the one I wanted. Yesterday it arrived.

It’s enormous.

In many ways, that’s great, because it has absorbed not just all the tools I own, but also a range of other miscellaneous things, including a set of 100 drill bits in its own heavy duty carry case, a picture hanging kit, several pairs of goggles, miscellaneous other items of workwear, and it still has room to spare. In other ways it’s a bit dispiriting because the measurements of this box match the measurements on the listing I chose (I checked them) and yet somehow I failed to appreciate that I was ordering a toolbox that is only marginally smaller than my car.

Still, there’s plenty of room to add more stuff in future, which is good, and if I ever go camping, I’ll just take this and sleep inside it. Win win. Thanks everyone.

Avatar Not number one

Occasionally, over the years, I’ve found myself in a conversation about what was at number one in the charts when I was born. These conversations come up from time to time, probably more often than they deserve to, usually prompted by a DJ on the radio talking about it.

For a long time my answer has been “Hello” by Lionel Ritchie, number one in the UK charts in early May 1984. That’s quite a fun song to be at the top when I was born and usually gets a laugh. Great. Everyone’s happy.

Yesterday I looked it up to see what else was in the charts that week, and was dismayed to find that I had somehow got it wrong.

“Hello” was a UK number one single, and Lionel Ritchie with his blind student making a creepy clay head had a run of six weeks at the top of the charts in spring 1984. But that run ended in April, and by Sunday 5 May Lionel’s informal greeting based ballad was only just in the top ten. The number one single when I was born was actually “The Reflex” by Duran Duran, which is nowhere near as much fun. As you can imagine, I was distraught.

To cheer myself up, I decided to see if my birthday number one was better than yours.

Kev

Let’s hope Kev is a fan of Frankie Goes to Hollywood because they were apparently everywhere in late July 1984. They were at number one with “Two Tribes”, and also at number three with the famously banned orgasm themed classic “Relax”. The rest of the top ten is mostly forgettable; at number two is a novelty single spin-off from The Young Ones, and the rest include Tina Turner, Cyndi Lauper and Shakatak. I feel like I’m on safe ground here.

Ian

Well, this is disappointing. Number one in mid-November 1983 was “Uptown Girl” by Billy Joel, a massive singalong smash hit. Adding insult to injury is the rest of the top ten, which contains at least another five stone cold hits: “Say Say Say” by Paul McCartney (and Jacko, but we’ll skim over that); “Love Cats” by the Cure; Men Without Hats’ ridiculous “Safety Dance”; “Karma Chameleon”; and even “All Night Long” by the very same Lionel Ritchie who callously abandoned me on my birthday.

In summary, then, I am disappointed that my birthday number one turns out to be a Duran Duran single, and not a very good one at that, and thanks to the fact that he basically cheated by being born in 1983, Ian wins.

Avatar New slippers

Before I was about 22, I never wore slippers at all. Our house was a socks house. You took your shoes off and then you just went around in your socks until it was time to put your shoes back on and go outside somewhere. Just one pair of socks, though, not two at once. We weren’t savages.

But my student house was cold, and my housemates all wore slippers, and eventually the peer pressure got to me. On a trip to Next at the Trafford Centre I gave in and bought myself some suede slippers with a very jaunty orange liner. They were amazing, and I was an immediate convert. Now I’m a slipper person.

Since then I’ve spent many years working my way through successive pairs of black suede-effect slippers from Debenhams, but they don’t make them any more, and Debenhams is on its way to the wheely bin of corporate catastrophe, so they aren’t coming back. So now I don’t just need new slippers, I need to choose a whole new slipper type. Nightmare.

I spent several weeks not doing anything about it, because whenever I looked I wouldn’t find anything I liked. But my hand has been forced by the very cold floors in the new house and I made an emergency purchase of some fairly cheap ones that have stripes on the inside, just to keep my feet warm.

You can probably guess the punchline. My stripey slipper snobbery was ill-founded. The new slippers are warm, snug and everything I require. There’s no looking back now. It’s these bad boys all the way.

Please do share your own slipper stories here, unless they’re about wearing two pairs of socks at once. Nobody wants that.

Avatar Eternal (not the pop group)

How will you be remembered? What will be your legacy?

What small nugget of nonsense will you leave the world so they know that you were once here, plugging away through all of life’s shambles like everyone else? Most people think it’s easy enough to pop out of a couple of kids and job done, right?

While my legacy is currently encroaching on my status as ‘tallest person in my family’ and ruffling through cupboards looking for chocolate cereal, there is another way that I will be “fondly” (?) remembered for years to come.

My nieces have all collectively lost their minds, which is nice when you think about it; they could have lost them one by one but they chose to do it all at the same time like sisters. together as a family. Adorable. I’m so proud of them. They then decided to write a song, which is clearly inspired by me, and John sent me a video of them performing it. The internet doesn’t deserve that but what I will do is show you the lyrics to this timeless masterpiece. It’s so poignant that if that rumoured Papples reunion ever happens they may have to croon a cover of it.

Now all I need is someone to paint my beautiful visage next to a newly-commissioned big-chinned, bollock-necked MaGee with the lyrics surrounding me in a halo of light and my voyage to immortality will be complete.