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 Words of advice

William Cobbett knows more than you do. It’s a fact and there’s no getting round it. Lucky for you, though, he has written down what he knows so that you can benefit from it. He wrote it down in 1829 but I don’t see why that makes it any less relevant.

You’re still young, aren’t you? Good. Let’s see what advice he has for young men. I have divided the advice into five logical categories to keep things simple. Simply direct your attention to the heading that most closely relates to the area in which you need advice.

Trammels

In all situations of life, avoid the trammels of the law. Man’s nature must be changed before law-suits will cease… One good rule is to have as little as possible to do with any man who is fond of law-suits, and who, upon every slight occasion, talks of an appeal to the law. Such persons… are, therefore, companions peculiarly disgusting to men of sense.

Abatements

Nothing is much more discreditable than what is called hard dealing. They say of the Turks, that they know nothing of two prices for the same article; and that to ask an abatement of the lowest shopkeeper is to insult him.

Sotting

There is such a thing as your quiet ‘pipe-and-pot-companions,’ which are, perhaps, the most fatal of all. Nothing can be conceived more dull, more stupid, more the contrary of edification and rational amusement, than sitting, sotting, over a pot and a glass, sending out smoke from the head, and articulating, at intervals, nonsense about all sorts of things.

Divers

By reading the single Act of the 23rd year of EDWARD the THIRD, specifying the price of labour at that time; by reading an Act of Parliament passed in the 24th year of HENRY the EIGHTH; by reading these two Acts, and then reading the CHRONICON PRECIOSUM of BISHOP FLEETWOOD, which shows the price of food in the former reign, you come into full possession of the knowledge of what England was in former times. Divers books teach how the divisions of the country arose, and how its great institutions were established; and the result of this reading is a store of knowledge, which will afford you pleasure for the whole of your life.

Pimps

I hope that your taste would keep you aloof from the writings of those detestable villains, who employ the powers of their mind in debauching the minds of others, or in endeavours to do it. They present their poison in such captivating forms, that it requires great virtue and resolution to withstand their temptations; and, they have, perhaps, done a thousand times as much mischief in the world as all the infidels and atheists put together. These men ought to be called literary pimps: they ought to be held in universal abhorrence, and never spoken of but with execration.

Avatar Kevin Hill – Mega fan

Following the recent bombshell that our beloved Kev was a secret Lionel Ritchie fan, it prompted me to check if this was correct or more cranks from the rumour mill. That mill has a lot to answer for; it’s where all that speculation about me and the Duchess of Cornwall came from. You come off the London Eye together, rubbing your mouth and pulling up yours trousers and all of a sudden you’re having an affair, completely ridiculous.

I expect he thought he would get away with it but knowing there were cameras about he couldn’t quite help himself so, guard well and truly dropped, out come his pearly whites and cheeky grin. I’ll see if you can spot him in the crowd. It took me a few attempts to find him.

I don’t know why you didn’t tell us sooner, Kev, there’s nothing to be ashamed about secretly jiving to ‘All Night Long’ in the garage when the kids have gone to bed. In fact I’m a little gutted you didn’t invite me along. It’s questionable behaviour but not the reasons you think. Questionable friend behaviour.

I bet you had backstage passes too, didn’t you? I bet you and Lionel were sat drinking tea and talking about ferns for a couple of hours like two drinking buddies. What’s your problem? Worried we might get on better with him, huh? That I might say something silly like, “where do you keep your pasta, Ly-Ly?” then throw a woolly hat over the balcony?

You make me sick sometimes you really do.

Avatar Water faff

Where is your water meter?

In this post, likely to be the first of many where I talk about things to do with my new house, because that’s what my life is like these days, we’re going on a journey of discovery to find the water meter.

The electricity meter is easy. That has a special meter hutch in the hallway, so you can see it as soon as you walk in the door.

The gas meter is also not too difficult. Look under the stairs, where the boiler lives, and there’s the gas meter, sheltering underneath it. Excellent.

The water meter? Last time I had to find one it lived on the outside of the building, mounted quite low on the wall. Must be around here somewhere. The water company tell me it’s electronic so it can be read by a water meter detecting robot passing within fifty metres or some such futuristic nonsense.

One place it definitely can’t be is underground, because I’ve checked all the manhole covers and other gratings and none of them are either watery or metery. One is a big inspection hatch for the drains. Another is a smaller inspection chamber where a drain turns a corner. Some are gratings into the drains. And the other is labelled SEW, presumably short for SEWER, and I’m damned if I’m going in there. It sounds gross. So that stuff is all drains.

Lucky for me, after making further inquiries it turns out SEW doesn’t stand for sewer, even though that is completely logical. No, SEW stands for South East Water. Underneath the SEW manhole cover is a foam block covered in mud, and under the foam block is four inches of freezing cold stagnant water, and under the four inches of freezing cold stagnant water is my electronic bluetooth enabled water meter.

Let’s hope it’s waterproof.

Avatar State of the Beans Address – 2020: The Write-Off

Friends. Now is a time of crisis and uncertainty, of complications and sullenness the likes of which have not been seen for half a century or possibly longer.

The Bovona Virus has a name. It also has a face. The face that it has does not have as many eyes as I do but they look upon all as a mess to clear up. Not one of those easy messes where you sort of sweep everything into your hands and throw it in the bin. I am talking one of those adolescent messes, a mix of beans and PVA glue, scattered all over your carpet, trodden into the fabric repeatedly and then somehow heated up into a solid, disgusting mass. Human beings are that mass. Bovona wants you and your family hiding in a bin or worse.

The good news is that there are people out there, much smarter people, who are desperately trying to find a cure to this madness. There is one somewhere and they will find it. Like a some cache of Cadbury’s Creme Eggs hidden under a nut bush, these men and woman, these scientists of the modern era, will sniff out these eggs and distribute them amongst the population. When we finally get our eggs there will be great rejoicing and celebration. I personally will be setting aside at least three weeks to sit in a tree and marvel at the outside world. I may have to grow feathers and adopt the mannerisms of an owl, possibly have myself adopted into an owl or owl-like family, in order to survive and I will do. We will all survive. Myself and my owls will ensure it.

So the question remains: what should we do with the rest of 2020? Should we give it a little more time, like the great one-eyed songstress Gabrielle, and hope that the Summer, Autumn and Winter months redeem it? Should we remain patient in the face of adversity? Or, as I would recommend, should we bin the rest of the year, go into suspended animation and all wake up in 2021 to start afresh? Given that all manner of festivals, gigs and other events have been postponed indefinitely until further notice we could have a slew of everything at the same time. We could gorge on tasty morsels of this and that. Perhaps the whole world should take a week off and indulge like chubby beavers trapped in an Oak Furniture Land, in a relentless barrage of hedonistic behaviour and uncompromising lust. How fruity.

I have spoken. We shall prevail.

We need three and, thank Bobby Costanzo, we are three.

Avatar Flexible workspace

We’re all on the lookout for a flexible workspace these days. Somewhere you can just sit down, maybe order a latte, open your laptop and, I don’t know, edit a podcast or grow a hipster beard or something.

The other day, while exploring an area I hadn’t visited before down in the sub-basement of the 1930s part of the building at work, I found an excellent flexible workspace and wanted to share my find with you. Here it is.

As you can see, it’s pleasingly raised above the general floor level, offering a sense of superiority and a view over all the people working nearby (or water heating machinery; I think it was mostly water heating machinery and sewage pipes you could see from here). It also has many useful features:

  • A light, so the workspace has excellent all-over lighting levels
  • A railing, so it’s very safe
  • A calming white/grey colour scheme
  • A red pipe

Obviously I’m claiming first dibs on this, and will be moving in there first thing Monday with my laptop to grow a podcast and edit my beard. But if you want to book a slot yourself, just get in touch.