Avatar Thank you

So, what was 2020 to you? Was it a unique opportunity to develop your skills in a new working environment? Was it a chance to take some time off, away from the humdrum 9 to 5, by sitting at home and scratching yourself in places you forgot were there whilst being paid 80% of your usual wage? Could you remember a time before this when standing in line at the cinema or your train being ten minutes late was the biggest inconvenience in your life (or 30 seconds late for some people given that they don’t exist in the real world)?

Let me pull back the blistering skin burn that we call this year to highlight the people and mostly inanimate objects that have helped this bag of meat and bones get through the last twelve months:

  1. Wappy the robo puppy – if bowing and slightly turning your head to the right was a skill then Wappy would win 2020 paws down. With his sleek futuristic blue and white design, his blank expression and limited move set have seen me through some difficult times.
  2. Flat (Tiger) Kitty – the fun-loving prankster has been up to all kinds of hijinks. For the last few months he has remained perfectly still wearing a baseball cap and pointing his Nerf gun at the door to the living room, ready to protect my flat at any costs. That crazy orange and black stuffed animal.
  3. Mr R. Brek – despite expiring four years ago (wait, no, five years ago… ten years ago?!), Mr Brek still continues to fill my life with warmth and love. He’s the first thing I see when I wake up in the morning and last thing before the lights go out at night. A constant inspiration to prolonging a joke that was never funny in the first place, there will always be a place for him in my heart.
  4. Bri4n – a recent addition to the crew, the novelty robot has spent his time staring out the window at various passers-by. Whether raising his hand to salute dog walkers or keeping his arms aloft like a raging looney, there is still a lot of mileage left for this gimmick of gimmicks.
  5. Ted – though his physical presence was a hundred miles away, Ted was the only person (from memory) who actually sent me a letter this year. I also got some socks which was a cheeky bonus. I may still be puzzled as to whom Messy Monster is, and why I should share my socks with them, nonetheless his heartfelt message was one of the best things this year. Hopefully 2021 will provide the means of sending sausage rolls though the post safely.

Runners Up: Daisy the cow, the small collection of toys in the corner of my kitchen (who may have been acquiesced by a spider now they’re covered in webs), my tattoo of Archie the Badger from ‘Grandville’, my Pop Vinyl of Bob Ross and a tiny raccoon.

Oh and some other guys whose names I forget, Keith Harrup and Chas Millington maybe? You know who I mean.

Avatar Bank holidays

There’s a serious problem that we have all been completely failing to address, and it’s been going on for too long now. I have decided to fix it. The arrangement of bank holidays across the year is inconsistent, unfair and stupid.

Just look at this chart showing where all the bank holidays fell in 2020. What a mess.

Just spacing them out evenly wouldn’t bring an end to this madness, because there’s only seven of them. That would mean a wait of 52 days between free days off work, a barely acceptable waiting time.

The solution is obvious. More bank holidays, sprinkled evenly throughout the year, so we get one about every two weeks. That’s a massive win. Here’s my suggested list.

  1. New Year’s Day
  2. Blue Monday
  3. Pancake Day
  4. Box Set Thursday
  5. Spring Cleaning Day
  6. St Patrick’s Heavy Drinking Day
  7. Good Friday
  8. Easter Monday
  9. First T-Shirt Day of the Year
  10. Eurovision Day
  11. The Other May Bank Holiday
  12. Boxing Day (relocated)
  13. Wimbledon Finals Day
  14. Beer Garden Friday
  15. Barbecue Day
  16. Holiday Packing Day
  17. Summer Bank Holiday
  18. DFS Sale Day
  19. Steak Pie and Mash Day
  20. Winter Coat Day
  21. Wellies and Leaf Crunching Day
  22. Bonfire Night
  23. Pyjama Wednesday
  24. Christmas Shopping Day
  25. Christmas Day
  26. New Year’s Eve

This results in a much better spread of bank holidays through the year, as shown below.

Please consider this the start of my campaign to enshrine these new bank holidays in law, and also the start of my campaign to be Prime Minister. Thank you.

Avatar Posh Outrage

You can imagine the scene, can’t you?

There I was, minding my own business, asking for a very simple birthday present when I was told, of all people, me, yes I know, that I wasn’t posh enough. The present in question was an afternoon with the very lovely Jeany Spark, an actress so lovely that I lost several pairs of eyes when watching her on my recent re-run of hilarious chortle-fest ‘Man Down’ because the loveliness overwhelmingly blinded me. I take eyes very seriously but I was willing to lose them for her.

So you can imagine my predicament, mainly because I have just explained the whole thing. I am not the kind of person who will take a glove slap in the face and walk away from it. With my trusty photographer in tow (that’ll be Master Reuben), I set out to show the world how posh I really am and when you see the results I expect you will know exactly what I mean.

Rather than clog the whole post up, I’ve used the modern facilities and supped the photos into an album which you should (should!) be able to view whenever you want.

Avatar No radio

Yesterday at work, we were having a quiet afternoon, so I went off to find something useful to do. I ended up at the workbench in one of our upstairs rooms, where I made myself a coffee and spent a few hours fixing up some old PCs that were sitting around awaiting repair.

My plan had been to listen to the radio while I did this. The workbench has a little audio monitoring panel, with green LEDs bouncing up and down like on your dad’s 80s hi-fi, so I turned up the volume and found it playing Radio 1. There were no other controls.

With some difficulty I traced the cables out of the back and found they disappeared, unlabelled, into a hole in the floor. I went to the audio router at the other end of the room and tried switching stations on anything I could find tuned to Radio 1, but none of them were right.

No problem, I thought. It’s the 21st century. I’ll use my phone. So I opened my TuneIn radio app and selected 6music.

The app informed me that this station wasn’t available in my territory due to geographical restrictions. I looked around to confirm my surroundings, and yes, I was indeed sitting in Broadcasting House where 6music is assembled and broadcast, and my phone was connected to the building wi-fi. It was, therefore, legal to listen to that station in my present geographical territory.

Nothing I did would persuade TuneIn radio of that, though, and my coffee was going cold, and the PCs weren’t getting fixed. Sometimes, even when it’s your job to make the radio work, you can’t make the radio work. So I listened to Absolute 80s instead.

Avatar Bad planning

Here we are, then. The end of June. I moved out of my home, the penthouse apartment above the exploding mattress shop, on 24 March, meaning I’ve now been Of No Fixed Abode for over three months.

Packing is tricky when you don’t know how long you’re packing for. Thankfully, some of the decisions I took when I moved out were good ones. I didn’t bring my coat, for example. It would have used up space and it wasn’t cold for long after I left. I brought what felt like too many books, but in hindsight was enough to keep me going even now.

Other things I could have done with more of, but there wasn’t much room. The same three work shirts in rotation are feeling a bit dull now. The same ten pairs of socks are getting pretty worn. I wish I’d packed at least one more pair of jeans.

Here’s the decision I regret the most, though. When I picked up some treasured sentimental objects, I chose a photograph of my sisters and my Pouring Beans 2020 Calendar. Then I looked at the envelope containing the calendar pages for July to December and I thought… no, surely not. I’ll be back before July. July is forever away.

Now my calendar is running out, and while you will simply turn the page tomorrow morning, I will have nothing. Nothing but regret, and a need to look at my phone to see what day it is.

Avatar Now, more than ever

These are strange times, I know, and presumably the creative people who come up with ideas for adverts are a bit stuck for inspiration. (Not that they were brilliant at it before.) That might be why they’ve all come up with the same four words to use in their adverts.

Now, more than ever, companies are telling us that now, more than ever, is the time to buy their stuff, whatever it is. Once you notice it you can’t ignore it any more. It’s everywhere.

Here are just some of the now-more-than-everers:

  • Tesco, who tell us that now, more than ever, every little helps.
  • Nespresso, because now, more than ever, their coffee machine pods are technically recyclable (but not in your council recycling).
  • Barclays, where now, more than ever, their “digital eagles” will show you how to use the Internet.
  • Every single charity with a fundraising campaign right now.
  • Country Walking Magazine, who are running very strange adverts to tell us that now, more than ever, is the time to buy a magazine about something that has literally been illegal for the last two months.

There is no solution to this ongoing crisis. The only coping mechanism I’ve found so far is to repeat the words “now, more than ever” back at the TV whenever one of these adverts comes on.

That doesn’t help, obviously. It’s just something to do. But maybe that’s enough – because now, more than ever, we need a way to cope with this unimaginative catchphrase.

Avatar Crazy Religos: Who Really Rules The World?

In the second installment of Crazy Religos, I’ve decided to bring you the wonderfully insightful pamphlet, “Who Really Rules the World?” from the Jehovah’s Witnesses. If you didn’t think they were a bit odd for spending time going and bothering folks on their doorstep to talk about their imaginary friends then maybe you’ll be fine with the conculsions in here, but for the rest of us…

Its not who you think…

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