Avatar ‘Iansurance’

Modern life sucks. We all know this and it’s reached the point now where there’s no point saying it because everyone knows it. We all need a little humour in our lives to raise the spirits and keep the home fires burning. Given the recent decline in the state of the country, doctors are prescribing laughter more and more for curing most common ailments. I rubbed a chuckle on a bruise the other day and felt much better.

I have been toying around with ideas for sitcoms for years now. Chris and I even challenged each other to write pilots for sitcoms in unlikely places (remember that?) way way way back in the day. Now that I have taken the leap into a brand new place of employment it’s only right to use my skills to aid the rest of the human race. I need to show the world that even though things are pretty pants right now you can forget all your troubles for around 24/25 minutes each week with my sitcom, ‘Iansurance’.

The main character is some berk called Ian. He works as a service agent at the Clifford Makin Insurance company. He’s on the phone most days and, boy, does he get into some hysterical comical scrapes. The thing is that Ian daydreams so the time between phone calls his mind drifts into bizarre places: sometimes he’s a horse flying through the sky, sometimes he’s a clown handing out leaflets to cats about making sure they have a mouse pension for when they retire and sometimes he imagines that every time he speaks rainbows shoot out of his mouth and they explode into chocolate muffins when they collide with solid objects.

His boss, Gloria Cookiesnatcher, doesn’t know about Ian’s daydreaming and continually praises him as the best on his team even though he’s the most lackadaisical of the bunch. The times when he suddenly wakes up to take a call saying, “Eugh, I didn’t know peach trees were flammable!” are laughed off as part of his quirky personality. Tsk tsk, there goes Ian again, he’s such a zany character.

As a strange twist, the love interest is the coffee machine. Ian loves coffee a lot. It’s what powers him, gets him through the day, fuels his imagination. The machine in the corner of the kitchen area doesn’t have a name but he refers to her as Susan with two e’s i.e., Sueesan. He doesn’t remember why he started calling her that nor why he assigned gender to an inanimate object. Ian professes his love to Susan each and every morning for handing him the wake-up juice. She responds by handing him said wake-up juice.

We’ll fill the rest of the roster with some wacky office types, a snidely cleaner, a religious man, two cats that we can hear the thoughts of and, I don’t know, a wise old woman who lives in a cupboard.

I am in the process of writing the first few scripts and expect a lot of attention when I’m done. Best jump on the golden gravy train trip now, guys.

Avatar More London convenience

After meeting a terrific vending machine earlier this year, I was delighted to find another incredibly convenient retail experience in London’s bustling West End.

It has everything for the world of today: a cash machine, tobacco, something to do with medicine or adding numbers together, mobile phones, vaping supplies, and Internet Explorer.

Naturally, I went straight in, withdrew some cash, and spent it on an ounce of snuff, some medicine and/or maths, having a SIM card unlocked, a pint of blueberry sherbet vape juice, and a crap browser from 20 years ago. If you need me to pick up any of that for you, just shout.

Avatar Superhero sale

Good afternoon, sir. You must be here for our big sale. Yes, it’s been running for the last month or so and it has been very successful especially considering the downward turn in brick and mortar shop sales. I’ve barely had a moment’s rest these last few weeks, the staff have been rushed off their feet.

I feel as though I must admit that the majority of the shall we say more desirable super powers have already sold out. If you were hoping for the top tier stuff then you should have come on Black Friday. I still think we have a plethora of decent enough skills that you can wow your family, friends and work colleagues with should the case may be. Let me check out the back and I’ll be back in a moment.

Jeremy has picked out the three best of what is left for you, sir. There’s something for everyone. Let me see…

Flaming Onion Man

Feel the rage of a thousand suns. Feel the heat of a million barbecues. With this power you can generate onions from your hands, set them on fire and throw them at least six feet into the distance. Villains with quiver in fear at the sheer ferocity of the burning vegetables you can produce. They won’t know what hit them. They literally won’t know what hit them, you’ll throw them so fast. You’ll be pitching flaming onions as though they’re going out of fashion because, I don’t know about you, but I’ve never known a flaming onion to not be the hottest topic on the menu.

Here’s a Pen Man

Isn’t it annoying when you’re trying to look for something to write with and there’s nothing within reach? Here’s a Pen Man has two pockets in his trousers that will produce an infinite amount of pens. They’ll never run out. They will also never bleed from the temperature being too warm and will work upside-down in water in space for up to 500 feet. You will be everyone’s best friend in the bank, post office or whatever other environment has an obtuse lust for the use of pens.

Smell Time Man

What’s that smell? Can you smell it? No, right now you can’t because you don’t have the newest thing in town; the ability to smell time. Haven’t you always wondered what the past smelt of? Now you don’t need to wonder because for every photo and ye olde time show reel of people from the “before you” times you will be able to take in the smells of that era. Even better, you can smell time before it’s happened. You’ll always know when tomorrow is coming and when the day is coming to an end. The alluring scent of a new hour. It will all be at your fingertips or nostrils or something like that.

Avatar Batloholic

Dear Batman,

Hello, Mr Batman sir. I have heard a lot about you since I was a child. You’re the world’s greatest detective. You have lots and lots of gadgets. You’re in perfect physical shape and can do anything you set your mind to. You can beat any villain that turns up in Gotham City. When was the last time you ate?

Your exploits have been turned into comics, television series’ and big film adaptations. There’s not a piece of merchandise in the world that doesn’t have your face on it. I bet in some countries there are even Batman rubber gloves and Batman condoms with some funny tagline: ‘The caped crus-lay-der’ or ‘for when you want to inspect her dynamic duo’. I’m not in marketing so I’m not very good at this. Yeah, they’re probably unlicensed and hidden away in the corner of Brazil or something. I doubt I’ll ever come across them.

Holy room-spinning debaucherously good fun, Batman!

What I will say is that I have never seen you on the booze. You may have at some point, I mean who doesn’t like a drink every now and then? You don’t have time to get wasted at your local, the Penguin has escaped and, I don’t know, unleashed an army of penguin explosives at an orphanage.

I can only presume that this was done without your say so and that you had no involvement whatsoever. I expect you will need to pass this to your lawyers (or bat lawyers, because everything is bat-related) to start the lawsuit. You don’t normally associated superheroes with hipflasks so lord knows what the company that made them was thinking. “Dads are heroes, dads like snifters of whisky when nobody is looking, let’s combine the two shall we?”.

Anyway, keep up the good work. I’ll drop by if I’m ever in the area.

All the best

Unspecified fan

Avatar Job interview questions

I’ve been asked to be on the panel for some job interviews tomorrow, which will be a first for me. (This is at work, not just randomly by some bloke in the street, you understand.) I will be one of three interviewers grilling prospective candidates for a job in my department.

Having never done this before, I thought it was best to prepare in advance, so I’ve spent some time researching interview techniques and writing questions. I thought I’d share them with you now. Obviously, if you’re one of the people who will be attending interview tomorrow, please don’t read them.

  1. Who the hell do you think you are?
    This question is about power. It destabilises the candidate immediately, and establishes my position as the “alpha”. Ideally I will not actually let them finish their answer before moving on.
  2. You think you’re good enough to work here do you?
    While the candidate attempts to answer this question I will avoid taking notes, and will instead attempt to stare them down.
  3. Imagine the Queen is on a state visit to our office. She approaches and asks you to make a custom mains cable for her in our workshop, which has a standard UK 13 amp plug at one end and a pair of crocodile clips at the other end. She says she’s going to use it on “traitors”. The cable will be double insulated but not earthed. What are the safety, legal and employment implications of this situation? How would you answer her?
    As a follow up question, ask whether the double insulation makes it a Class I or Class II device for PAT testing purposes. Ask also if their response would be any different if the Queen intended to use the cable on “horses”.
  4. As a new employee your most important task will be making drinks for everyone. Tell me about a situation where you had to take a large and complex drinks order, and what you did to ensure there were no mistakes.
    If the answer to this one is too confident, try slowly shaking head while the candidate speaks.
  5. Do you have any questions for us?
    Should the candidate attempt to actually ask us anything, sternly remind them that this was a yes or no question.

My approach to this process is based around the fact that, should anyone I interview get a job and then turn out to be a waste of space, I will be responsible. I will therefore be aiming to slam the door in everyone’s face to make sure none of them get in on my watch.

Good luck to everyone who has applied.

Avatar Convenience and style

This week, the trains are all having a well-earned holiday, which means that my commute has become almost impossible. I’m working nights all this week, so get around the travel problem, work have sent me on a well-earned holiday too, and have put me up in a three star hotel with approximately a billion rooms that is mostly filled with backpackers, tour parties of Americans in ill-advised shorts and enormous groups of schoolchildren.

My room is actually not too bad, but the hotel itself is intriguing for the industrial scale on which it operates and the odd things they have in reception. There’s a whole unstaffed supermarket, with fridges full of drinks and food and snacks, with self-service checkouts. There’s a whole range of middling bars and cafes. There’s an enormous soulless pub, facing on to the street outside, catering strictly to the foreign tourist market, that is literally called “London Pub”.

And just beside the lifts, there’s a vending machine for the essentials you might have forgotten when you packed your bag. Do you need to stock up on toothpaste or shampoo or painkillers or condoms or batteries or SIM cards or plug adapters or padlocks?

No? Well, perhaps what you’re missing is souvenirs to take back home, to give to your loved ones as a reminder of your wonderful time in London. Don’t worry, the amazing hotel reception vending machine has you covered there too. You can choose from a toy black London cab, a toy red London bus, a gold model of Big Ben or a gold model of Tower Bridge. Your nearest and dearest are sure to be thrilled.

I know you’re going to feel like you’re missing out, but don’t despair. I’m here until the end of the week, so if you send the money I’ll happily get vending on your behalf. Just let me know which classy souvenirs have caught your eye.

Avatar Mistakes in marketing

Let’s say you own a company. Let’s say you’re involved in JCBs and tipper trucks, shifting muck around. Let’s say you get yourself a nice white van for moving kit about and you get your company’s name written on the back, and maybe a nice photo of some JCBs and tipper trucks in action so everyone can tell what line of work you’re in.

For now we will overlook the fact that you name your company something daft like ”Kellands” when, if sense prevailed, you would clearly have called it something like ”John’s Diggers”.

You have space on the van for a slogan. Something positive and dynamic that tells everyone what your company is about and how great you are.

What slogan will you choose? Think carefully.

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.