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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Take your lump of grapes and put them back in the fridge. Stop enjoying them. Do you realise you could be putting your life at risk by eating them at the wrong time?
I know that grapes may look very harmless but that’s what they want you to think. Vicious killers they are. Well, maybe not killers; vicious little things they are. If you start pushing them down your face hole then all manner of things could go wrong. Let me ease you into the potential minefield of grape eating by telling you what you need to know. Here’s a helpful guide:
Make sure you run them under some rubbing alcohol, or possibly some chlorine, before putting them in your mouth.
Only eat even numbers of grapes.
Do not eat them after 8:30pm. The optimum grape eating time is between 7:30 and 8:00pm, with a tiny window of opportunity available shortly thereafter. If you try to eat grapes after this then no matter how much you chew them they will reform in your stomach and come out whole, like sweetcorn but bigger. Unless you want to start pooing out little green nuggets you check the time first, young ‘un.
Do not eat grapes in the morning. You will look weird and wrong.
When you are done eating the grapes put the stalk in the microwave for thirty seconds then throw it out the nearest window. This will appease the Grape Apes and they will not lay siege to your house.
Please listen to my advice as I have been studying grapes for years now, almost decades, and I know what I’m talking about. I am currently a ‘Food Botherer’ however it has come to my attention that certain people may be doing it wrong and I take great care in handing out useful information when I can.
Many of us will be aware that Mr Chang, one of the regular Beans dwellers (you may take “regular” to be a fairly loose term in this case), has recently made a baby. At this early stage we should assume its name is “Changlet” until there is firm evidence to the contrary.
I have never made a baby, or looked after one for any significant length of time, so I am ideally placed to dish out some useful advice on the upkeep and maintenance of this new baby.
Try to keep the baby upright. Babies held upside-down for long periods can begin to leak and will not fit baby seats properly. The correct end to keep at the top is the one that makes most of the noise.
Feed your baby regularly. New babies do not come with skills for foraging, hunting or microwaving pre-installed. Until your baby reaches an age where it becomes compatible with these modules you will need to manually carry out these tedious tasks.
Involve your baby in family life. Babies are small and warm and it is tempting to use them in place of a hot water bottle or book-end. As much as this may seem a good idea, it can cause your baby to get the wrong ideas in later life, and nobody wants an adult man trying to climb into their bookshelves in thirty years’ time.
Do not offer your baby hot drinks. Most people in your household will appreciate the polite and civilised question “tea or coffee?” when they are ready for a drink. However, babies will not develop a taste for the finer things in life for the first fifteen or twenty years, and offering a baby a hot drink in this manner may cause offence.
Buy elastic clothes for your baby. Babies are famously indecisive about their size and will change their physical proportions almost continuously. Procuring clothes of a fixed size will, therefore, be a costly mistake and a source of regret and bitterness for years to come. A stretchy but stylish Lycra garment that will fit your baby now, and when it is a fully grown adult, will avoid that problem.
Do not overestimate the taste of modern children. Your baby probably passed most of its time before it was born playing with a tablet computer or games console. Today’s children are seldom interested in old-fashioned toys that do not have touchscreen interfaces and copious simulated bloodshed. Do not waste your money buying toys such as Lego for your baby – they will not appreciate it. Keep these toys for yourself instead.
I believe that’s more or less everything there is to know about babies, but in case I’ve missed anything out, I’d like to invite other Beans contributors to suggest their own baby maintenance tips below.
I was all set. All on track to get my full bean on the Bean Counter for May. Three in the bag, one post still to make on the 31st to bring me up to the requisite number. Had my topic lined up and everything.
All on track, that is, until I got a text to say that there was a free screening of Labyrinth, the David Bowie goblin king spectacular, in a park near me and did I want to go? Well of course I wanted to go, and go I did, forgetting all about my post and my perilously low post count for May.
I’m not telling you I didn’t enjoy Labyrinth. I did. I enjoyed every moment of it. I cheered along with the crowd whenever Bowie’s leggings were on screen (seriously, he might as well be naked from the waist down) and waved my arms in the air through the voodoo song. I shouted “double yellow lorry” at an appropriate moment. It was great. I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy it at all.
I’m just saying that waking up this morning and realising that another pea would be permanently added to my record on the Beans has soured it for me, just a little bit. That’s all.