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 Serious Ian

Do you have a problem that needs fixing? Are you too silly to get it sorted yourself? Do you have a credit card and a strong desire to get the job done? Then what you need is Serious Ian.

Serious Ian can take all those chores that you can’t be bothered doing and he will get them done in the most serious fashion you’ve ever seen. His seriousness cannot be measured on a regular spectrum and scientists had to invent a new spectrum just to keep up. The only thing that came close to the same level of seriousness was BBC newsreader Huw Edwards or possibly Jeremy Paxman either duffing up politicians on ‘Newsnight’ (before he left) or duffing up students on ‘University Challenge’.

Here’s but a small muster of items that Serious Ian could help you (yes, YOU!) with:

  • Telling your dog or cat that you’re going on holiday and they have to stay with your smelly friend, Derek.
  • Pumping the waste out of your septic tank after years of neglect.
  • Doing the washing up after Sandra tells you she’s taking the job and there’s nothing you can do about it.
  • Ironing those shirts that need to look their best for Monday.
  • Driving slowly past your nemesis, with a pair of sunglasses on the tip of his nose, nodding his head sternly before driving off.
  • Informing the man in front of you in the queue that he has eleven items and needs to go to the regular checkout or till.
  • Taking little Billy for his first experience of death (possibly roadkill).
  • Asking Kev why he hides blankets inside pillows and querying when did he become such a sexual deviant.
  • And many more!

It may be a premium rate number but you’ve got to pay the best to get the best.

Serious Ian is also available in a multitude of colours to fit your mood and your situation. When times are hard choose that delicious charcoal Serious Ian to really hammer home the message. If you want something a bit lighter, yet just as serious, perhaps the clementine Serious Ian will be your catch of the day.

Whatever the job, task, role or message, you can guarantee nobody will take it more serious than Serious Ian.

Call now!

Avatar The Doctor will see you now

What do you mean you didn’t know I was a doctor?

What do you mean you didn’t know I spent seven years plus training? Do you mean all those times I was prescribing medication you weren’t paying attention?

Are you saying that every single time I swore the Hippocratic oath you didn’t listen? Every time I tore off someone’s leg and saved their life you didn’t notice?

Do you people even know anything about me?

Avatar Train announcement

Bing bong

Good evening ladies and gentlemen, and welcome aboard this 17.32 Trans Country Express service to London Central Station.

We’ll be calling at Picturesque Village, Windswept Halt, Dulltown West, Dulltown Central, Dulltown East, a station with seemingly nothing anywhere nearby, Large Commuter Suburb, Long Wait in the Countryside, Several Identical Places, Cheadle, Yemen, and London Central Station.

Our scheduled arrival time at London Central Station is 18.44 this evening.

Please note that some of our calling points today have short platforms and you will need to be in the correct part of the train if you wish to alight. Passengers for Dulltown East and Large Commuter Suburb will need to be in the front eight carriages. Passengers for Dulltown West will need to be in the front ten carriages. Passengers for Large Commuter Suburb will inexplicably need to be in either the front four or rear six carriages. I don’t make the rules.

As this service will be arriving in to London Central Station before 18.43 this evening, daily travelcards are not valid for travel, but commuter plus cards are valid, and ultra saver photocards are mandatory. First class accommodation is available in carriages 4 and 8, and passengers will need a first class ticket and a peerage or hereditary title in order to travel in the first class compartments.

A trolley service of drinks and light snacks will operate on this service from Dulltown Central onwards. If you do intend to buy something from the trolley please note that alcoholic drinks cannot be purchased once we leave Cheadle since beyond that point we enter the London Central Station duty free zone. However, on our final approach to London Central we will be pleased to offer discount cigarettes, perfumes and spirits.

A reminder to passengers that due to current Government regulations it is mandatory to wear spectacles while travelling on public transport unless you are medically exempt.

My name is Carmelita Delasquez, and I am your guard for this journey. If you require any assistance during your journey, you can currently find me in carriage six of this twelve coach train. If you see anything suspicious please don’t hesitate to inform myself or another member of railway staff, or call or text the Railway FBI on 64064. See it, say it, suck it and see.

On behalf of myself and the driver, I’d like to wish you a pleasant journey with Trans Country Express today. Our next station stop will be Picturesque Village, which I’ll begin announcing in about thirty seconds’ time. Thank you.

Avatar Drive-By Rapping

It’s important to remember that truth will always be stranger than fiction. I’m living proof of this.

When I first saw him, first heard him, I wasn’t really paying attention so his presence drifted past me without any kind of moment to speak of. It was only when I encountered him a second and third time that he began hard to ignore.

Picture this; a cool Autumn day, the leaves blowing through the streets, people hurry past clutching under their coats. There I am doing the same as everyone else. I’m not going anywhere in particular because I need a little fresh air on my lunch break before I head back into the jungle. The air is crisp and fresh, a lightness on my tongue. Coming towards me is a man on a bike so I make sure to keep to the far right so he can get past. He’s wearing a hi-vis jacket and his mask is covering the entirety of his face; were it not for COVID-19 you would swear he was some kind of thief. He doesn’t say anything as you approach, only when he’s cycled past you does it happen. He starts rapping.

When absurdity hits, it is quite disorientating. That’s why I brushed it off to begin with thinking that this guy was shouting at someone or something else in the street. Only when it happened again about a fortnight later did it stick in my mind. I can never make out what he’s saying or at least not yet anyway. Usually by the time I’ve realised who it is, he’s already starting cycling off in the opposite direction, spitting rhymes like the best of them.

Does he do this all day? Is this his job, drive-by rapper? Is he practising for some kind of poetry slam tournament, one held where the people are on bikes and constantly move about? It wouldn’t make it any less interesting than your usual poetry slam tournament but hey it’s a little bit different. Does he only do it at me or does everyone feel the brunt of his lyrical wordplay? I can’t imagine he’s saying nice things, nobody ever walks past me and says a nice thing. The last time that happened was only a fortnight ago; a friend and I were walking back to his house and some kids on the corner, who were using their time wisely to twat a metal fence with a stick, voiced, “Melons!” as we walked past. Then they started laughing. I don’t have any melons so I can only imagine what kind of voracious insult that youth was hurling in my general direction.

It’s unlikely that you’ll ever be wandering around where I work however if you do and you see a tall, gangling-looking youth in bright yellow and navy blue tracksuit bottoms riding towards you, make sure you’re listening to what he has to say.

Avatar Where is Chris?

Back in 2018, on a website called Beans, a young man named Chris informed the world that if you ever needed to find where he was all you needed to do was write for a free factsheet to the following address:

Where is Chris now?
PO Box 100
Pouring Beans
The Internet

As he has recently changed addresses and disappeared somewhere where horses and drinks cabinets litter the streets and, quite possibly, the stables and corner shops too, I do wonder if this is still correct when trying to look at him?

The only reason I ask is because a recent internet quiz asked me if he was still “marketable” and I decided that the only way was to look at him and thus the only way to find him was using this fool proof method listed as a throwaway comment on a post three years ago.

If anyone can help then do let me know. I tried rigging up a GPS using a pulley system and very surprisingly it didn’t work.

I’ve got geese to feed.

Avatar Trips Outside – Jarrow

Out in Covid Town, they still don’t like you moving around too much. If you ever think of crossing county lines or hopping on a plane to go and record an album with Jimmy Buffett, because he wants to write a follow-up to his wonderful ‘Cheeseburger in Paradise’ song, then eyes are most certainly raised. Thankfully, having recently changed jobs, I now have a brand new section of the North-East to explore on my lunch breaks.

I would like to welcome everyone to the breath of fresh air that is Jarrow.

I have only been within the vicinity for approximately two weeks and yet since then I have accumulated a wealth of knowledge that would put some locals to shame. Some may call that pitiful boasting, some may call it an outright lie and to those people I ignore anything they say and hand them a banana in the hope that they drop their line of questioning.

There are lots of things to know but given the time and my limited word count there are only four things you (that’s YOU) need to know about Jarrow in case you ever want to take a trip there:

  • Vikings – when the world was young and wireless abbabs were but the stuff of dreams, a large collective of Norse warriors decided they wanted a piece of Britain, hopped on some boats and decimated the coastline of North England for several years. Their only opposition was effeminate priests using gold crosses for weapons. These murderous heroes have been encapsulated in a statue displayed proudly in the town centre. They also got a shopping centre named after them to commemorate all the blood spilled.
  • Shopping – if you want shops, you’re going to get them. There’s a Viking centre full of them and, boy, are you going to be spoilt for choice. There’s a Wilko, a Morrisons, a B & M, a Home Bargains, Greggs, Boots, charity shops, butchers, more bakers, some kind of cafe I haven’t gone in yet but takes up a lot of space, I think a shop that fixes phones or laptops or maybe both and hiding towards the back a Dominos. They have a lovely PA system that forces you to listen to music as you shop so whether or not you want to listen to ‘Livin’ La Vida Loca’ by Ricky Martin is not up for debate, it’s happening baby.
  • Pronunciation – look at the name, it all looks so very simple, doesn’t it? Don’t be wandering into Jarrow thinking that it’s pronounced, “JAR-ROW” though, that’s wrong. Grit your teeth. From the back of your throat, it’s, “JAR-RAH”. If you get it wrong, you’ll be thrown out and never allowed back in. I once worked with a posh lash who said, “PRUD-HOE” instead of, “PRUDDA” and where is she now? I’ve no idea, probably sitting on a throne barking orders at lowly cronies. Or in jail.
  • Walking – there are several monuments around the town explaining about the contribution to the war effort back in 1917. The most famous thing Jarrow is famous for though is when, famously, 200 men marched from Jarrow to London to protest against unemployment and poverty because The Man had closed down the primary place of employment, Palmer’s Shipyard, and things were all bad. This is almost a three hundred mile trek. They would have had to trundle down the A1 which would have been very hazardous given all the long haul lorries driving down to London to drop off soaps or whatever it is people down South eat. There wasn’t even a Little Chef on the way that they could stop in for drinks and snacks. It’s bravery like this that makes me feel inspired.

Even though you may have never, and possibly may never, visit the sacred grounds betwixt the Tyne Tunnel, Hebburn and the tunnel under the Tyne that leads back to Willington Quay where I used to live, I hope this very brief tour is enough to explain and display the majesty of the South Tyneside town.

Avatar The Ballad of Johnny Bobbins

The time is ticking on,
The passengers rustle and bustle,
The late-night hustle is winding down,
In his box he makes no sound.

There he sits, poised and ready,
A ticket machine in hand,
For those that missed the conductor,
He’s always in demand.

They queue up for his gains,
Without it no exit they have,
The gated gates where heaven waits
A ticket takes for “thems the breaks”.

The punters don’t appreciate
What Johnny does for them.
The abuse he gets for helping,
A champion among men.

No parade is held for him,
No day to cheer and smile.
A lone warrior with a barrier,
Our humble, faithful terrier.