Here we are again, starting a whole new year with the unnerving feeling that if we go outdoors for any length of time we will cause the immediate and irreversible end of all life on earth. Staying in and doing nothing has its charms of course, not least the fact that I can wear the same pair of pyjamas all day long for a whole week. But there’s not much to write about.
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.
It’s almost two years since we all joined hands and took an emotional journey underneath my car. Two years of laughter, tears and general wear and tear. Two years of usage in all weathers.
There has, naturally, been a clamour from people of all nationalities and faiths to know what’s become of the underside of my vehicle in the intervening time. And who am I to stand in their way? So a couple of weeks ago, I returned my car to the same garage who made the first weird video and asked them for a full service.
Service completed, another weird video of the underside of my car was duly texted to my phone, and I have spent an afternoon trying to download it from a website that has been very specifically and cleverly designed to prevent videos being downloaded. I then set it to stupid music.
Here we are then. Join me once more as we go… underneath my car one more time.
Underneath Chris’s Car 2020 FAQ
Q. The tread depth looks a bit low on the front tyres, is that OK?
A. Yes, I know. But they have at least another half a year on them so it’s fine. I’ll get them sorted later.
Q. Why was there no Underneath My Car video in late 2019/early 2020?
A. I don’t know. My car had a service but they didn’t make me a video. I was genuinely a bit disappointed about it.
Q. How did the MOT go? This was its first MOT wasn’t it?
A. Yes it was. You’ll be pleased to know that my car passed with flying colours.
It occurred to me the other day, when Kev trademarked the name “Metal Horse™”, that we’ve trademarked quite a few terms over the years, and the terms that make up our intellectual property must now be quite substantial.
I have, therefore, conducted several exhausting days* of research to discover just how wide-ranging our various trademarks are, and I can present the results to you now for the first time. So here are all of the Pouring Beans trademarked terms, every last one, in chronological order.
This is something I thought about a while ago, and may also have mentioned, but also may not have. Anyway, whether I mentioned it or not, it has now changed from “a thing I was thinking about” to “a thing I did”.
We’ve all got lots of photos from all the times we’ve met up and done stupid things. All mine are just sitting around on my phone or in folders somewhere on my laptop. That’s useless, when they should really be here on the Beans, in our shrine to three lifetimes misspent doing pointless things that nobody but us find funny.
So I’ve done a bit of faffing and made a photo gallery thing. You can find it by clicking Photos in the menu, or by clicking on these words here.
If you’re like me, and you have photos, then you should also add them, and together we will have lots of photos, which we can look at occasionally, and the rest of the time we will ignore them, just like everything else on this website.
How do I add photos to the things?
In the admin interface, go to FooGallery > Galleries, and either create a new one or edit an existing one. If you’re making a new one, give it a name.
Click “add media”. This opens the same interface you use to add photos to blog posts. You can upload pictures or select them from the media library here. Select all the pictures you want to include.
In the sidebar, select how you want them sorted. You can try it by date or by title, depending what works best. You don’t need to change any other settings.
Click publish (if it’s new) or update (if it’s not).
If you made a new gallery, you now need to add it to the album list so it turns up on the photos page. This is easy.
Go to FooGallery > Albums.
Click “edit” on the album “Photos”.
Click the new gallery you created, so it gets a blue tick on it like all the others. You can drag it to another place if the galleries are in the wrong order.
I know what you’re both thinking and, no, it’s not another one of my much-loved, imitated and lauded best-selling novels. Calm down my precious fans, you haven’t missed a pre-order for another first edition that you can keep your families warm with over those long winter months. This is something completely different.
Prior to being hoisted back into clothes and into the general population by work, I was having yet another sort out in order to try and fit a large amount of THINGS into the same space they’ve been living in for six months now. This requires a meticulous amount of opening boxes, sighing loudly and then trying to squish something else into it in the hope that the top will still stay on once I’ve pushed a large rectangle into a tiny triangular slot. Most of the time it works. Soon I may have to invest in some more shelves and possibly some hammocks for the corners.
I unearthed yet another pile of gibberish, which is what I refer to anything I was scribbling in prior to this post. I have a lot of it, notebooks and notebooks of word guff hastily wangled around early attempts by post-modern hedonistic oober artist, Reuben. Sandwiched in-between my original lyrics for ’10 out of 10 out of 10 (out of 10 out of 10)’ and Reuben’s sketches for something called ‘Pirate Chicken and Son’ (spoiler: you don’t need pants to be cool), there was a couple of pages you may recognise:
It’s important for a number of reasons:
It features Chris’s disgusting scrodsack of change (or was it Kev’s?);
There are a number of facts including Marshall can sense mums with his crotch, that mushrooms come last and that I am an eager-maniac;
The original appearance of cult favourite Wexford and his cheese-polishing adventures;
The height chart to explain how tall Kevin is.
I would donate the entire thing to Chris’ archives but there some boring old Christmas lists and some other questionable songs I wrote that take up the majority of the book so it would be a fool’s errand. I may carefully rip the pages out and send them via special courier so that they reach you in one piece now that Steve “Steady on, now” Steveingtons has finally given up on his restraining order and let you back in your flat.
Childhood, ah, such a bewildering time to be alive. For one, you have no responsibility and so much potential. You have no money but everything you actually need is provided to you for free. If you want to spend the entire weekend sat with your face in the television with a mouth full of marshmallows then you can, or at least until one or more of your parents objects to this. The point is that, as everyone is aware, life is so very different as a child.
I could bore you to tears with stories of my time as a tiny Ian. You may or may not have heard them already and the ones you haven’t heard are just as tedious. Believe me, I am doing you a favour by keeping my mouth shut. I haven’t quite reached the age of telling every single person I meet in the street (not that they would given how bovona has given everyone carte blanche to ignore you even if you have a leg hanging off or knife at your throat) of the time I found £1.10 in the front garden in the snow and became so excited you would have thought I had discovered the Turin Shroud hanging off the bin.
Do you remember those… things that you used to make? I want to remember the name and I don’t want to have to Google it like everything else. The power of words (Words!) don’t fail me now. You folded it up and asked someone to say a number. Then you would use your hands to move it the appropriate number of times and ask for another number, repeat, and then open one of the panels to reveal some mystifying piece of knowledge. It looked a little like this:
No, I haven’t lost my mind and made one I did something much more reasonable; I found one on the floor and brought it home. A scruff I may be and nothing more because there is no other way of finishing that sentence. I wanted to remember a time that was much more innocent, of whistle pops and candy whistles, running around the park until your lungs bled with Tizer (you know, before they changed the formula and made it taste like a shark’s coldsore). I am not clever enough to make a fully functioning version of this, nor an interactive snazzy one on a computer. I do want you to know this though:
If you pick 0 or 1: You are a banana If you pick 2 or 3: I am in love with you If you pick 4 or 5: You are in love with me If you pick 6 or 7:
It’s hard to know what to say, these days, when you talk to people, because nobody has any news. What do you talk about when nobody has anything to talk about? How do you fill a blog post when you haven’t done anything worth remembering?
Luckily for me, I am now quite old, so what I’ve decided to do is go back and see what past Chris was doing on this day years ago.