Avatar New beans, please

“One! Ha ha ha. Two! Ha ha ha. Three! Ha ha ha.” The immortal wisdom of the Count.

Here on the Beans, our counting is not done by a furry purple vampire, but by the Bean Counter, an ingenious piece of machinery made from old sofa springs and a second-hand nuclear reactor that we found in a car boot sale. For more than four years now it’s been faithfully counting up our posts and generating new genetically-modified beans and peas as a reward for our performance, while also disgorging between eight and twelve tons of a resinous toxic by-product into the picturesque River Swale each day.

The highly complicated algorithm by which it awards beans has remained the same since early 2014, so it’s no surprise that earlier this year there were calls for an overhaul of the system to better reflect the realities of blogging in the futuristic world of 2018.

The point of the Bean Counter was never to create a level playing field, but rather to produce a playing field with carefully chosen hills and crevices so that we all stand a chance of scoring a Bean each month according to our various blog posting habits. Critics of the existing system pointed out that it was far easier for Ian to score a Bean than anyone else, and that Kev’s time-consuming building projects meant that three posts in a month was an unattainably high bar for him to reach.

I am delighted to announce, as a result, that major engineering works have been completed and the Bean Counter is now operating a completely new set of rules.

  • Kev will now score a Bean if he makes two (2) posts in a month.
  • Ian will now score a Bean if he makes precisely three (3) or four (4) posts in a month.
  • Chris will continue to score a Bean if he makes four (4) or more posts in a month.

Some would say that these new rules should begin operation from this month onwards, and that existing scores should be left alone. Perhaps they should. But I had a go at that and it was really difficult, so the new rules now apply to all previous months as well, causing a major recasting of our historical Bean Counts.

  • Kev has gained six (6) additional beans for months in which he made two posts.
  • Ian has lost ten (10) beans for months in which he only made two posts.

This is deeply and inherently unfair, which is unfortunate but unavoidable without further major re-engineering work that will just be an absolute faff.

Your comments, detailed feedback and outright anger will be welcome in the comments section below, but may not amount to much.

Avatar What Kevin does

So, what have we learned this week? Or it may be longer than a week. We have learned that Kevin never finished school and must be unemployed. How does he afford such a lavish lifestyle? How can he pay for an extravagant house, life and all those inhaler cups? Where does the money come from?

Thankfully, with the help of our army of scientists, we have managed to work out the answers to these questions. I was going to invent an invention (and it would have been a GOOD invention) however this was not required.

In order for Kevin to keep up appearances he follows this very strict, very organised regime:

8:00am – has breakfast, takes a couple of handy puffs from his inhaler cup, says goodbye to his wife and puts the Changlet in his car.

8:20am – drops the Changlet at nursery, where he can learn about cows, bees and other helpful things.

8:55am – waits until Sarah has left for work then sneaks back into his mansion.

9:10am – takes out his massive sack of rocks, found on the beach, and starts drawing faces on them.

10:10am – stops for a tea break to refill his levels. Drawing hilarious faces really takes it out of you.

11:00am – adds googly eyes and pipe cleaners for limbs to his Kev Rocks. Stops for a moment to take in just how much he has achieved in a few hours.

11:15am – unwraps huge hidden quantities of milk, eggs, plain flour, vegetable oil, sugar, salt, baking powder and vanilla extract.

11:30am – bakes the world’s largest waffle in his humongous back garden.

12:00pm – loads his Kev Rocks into his boot and straps the waffle to the top of his car.

12:30pm – drives to the Corn Exchange to set up shop.

1:00pm – sells chunks of his gigantic waffle to hapless tourists for five quid per bite. If you’re looking for a Kev Rock it’s upwards of eight pounds depending on the size of rock.

4:00pm – gathers all his money up and laughs manically.

4:05pm – throws the last of the waffle at dirty pigeons or, providing there’s enough, sells it to a homeless person as a tasty, makeshift mattress.

5:00pm – picks the Changlet up from nursery, dusting the shards of waffle off his hands.

5:30pm – drives home as though he’s been at a real job all day. Puts the child down and he’s straight back to the inhaler cup.

There’s not a lot to say after reading all that other than, well, maybe I should chuck my job in and do the same thing? Maybe I could take it a step further and build houses out of waffles.

Waffle house.

That is all.

Avatar How to name a company

You will probably remember that, some years ago now, Ian and myself decided that the best way to name a company was to use the name of the person followed by the thing their company did. That way, everyone knew where they stood and there could be no uncertainty. “Peter’s Window Cleaning” is a good company name. “Lucy’s Cafe” is another.

You can see the problem of badly named companies everywhere. “Boots”, for example, is a bad company name because it’s actually a chemist and doesn’t sell any kind of footwear. Having been founded by a man called John Boot, its name should obviously be “John’s Medicines”.

I bring this up because I would like to share with you the worst company name in the world. It’s a hair salon I pass every day on the way to the station. It’s called “www.comb”.

I find it hard to understand how anyone thought this was a good idea. “www.comb” sounds stupid when you try to say it out loud. It’s not actually the web address for the company (that’s www.comb.org.uk, itself pretty misguided because “.org.uk” is meant for non-profit organisations, but whatever). The name is, however, specifically designed to look like a web address, so for some reason the company has deliberately been given a name that is formatted as a web address but which isn’t the web address of the company. The only way you can use the company’s services is by physically going into a shop, and there is no sense in which this is an online company, so having the abbreviation for “world wide web” in its name is meaningless. And of course if you go into a hair salon, you would hope that using a comb is not the pinnacle of their skills. You’d hope they’re good at scissors, and hairdryers, and styling tongs, and that sort of thing. Being good at combs shouldn’t be their big sell.

Let’s be clear: the name of this business should probably be “Helen and Lisa’s Hair Salon”. Choosing a different name would be sub-optimal but acceptable. Choosing the name “www.comb”, though,  is madness and must be stopped.

Avatar What is a Pound Minute?

We may have invented wireless communications, put sailors on the moon and shortened the English language to within an inch of its life, but what is a Pound Minute?

The Pound Minute is a way of working out whether doing something is actually worth your while. It measures the cost received for the action being carried out and confirms whether you should or should not do it. The Pound Minute has been alive for several decades but is only now receiving the attention it so rightly deserves.

Say, for instance, you were asked to paint your friend’s fence. They provide you with the paint and overalls, and maybe even lunch if you play your cards right. The fence will take approximately three hours to paint, both front and back, and you have to apply at least two coats of paint for it to be considered a worthwhile job. Your friend will pay you £10.00 per hour of painting that you do.

If you choose to carry out the smallest amount of the painting required, which is six hours, you will earn £60.00. This equates to six Pound Minutes. This is a good use of your time but will make your friend think twice about asking for your services again.

If you choose to carry out the right amount of painting required, which is nine hours, you will earn £90.00. This equates to nine Pound Minutes. This is a bad use of your time, but it will make your friend think of you in a new light because you are going the extra mile to ensure that fence is gleaming like grandma’s keys.

Those of an indecisive nature can also utilise the ‘Wheel of Thrusting (TM)’. Future versions may be able to calculate Pound Minutes on your behalf.

Avatar Tea kitty

As you know, we operate a tea kitty for the communal kitchen area here at the Beans. This operates on a trust system which has, unfortunately, been abused. The big catering bags of sugar cubes have gone missing several times lately – presumed stolen – and now dirty mugs are being left in the sink without being washed up.

This is clearly unacceptable so, to make sure everyone understands their responsibilities, here are the rules for the kitchen area in full.

  1. All Beans colleagues must pay one London pound or fifty Newcastle pounds into the kitty per month. This money will be used to buy tea, coffee, sugar and milk.
  2. All colleagues must take it in turns to buy biscuits.
    1. Ian may not eat all the biscuits.
    2. If Jaffa Cakes are bought, there must be at least one full pack per person to avoid fights.
    3. Chris will not eat Hob Nobs and this matter is not for debate.
    4. Kev requires at least one type of biscuit suitable for dunking.
    5. Tunnocks Teacakes qualify as a “biscuit” for the purpose of buying biscuits and may be eaten in one mouthful at the discretion of the individual.
    6. Opened packets of biscuits are not to be removed from the kitchen. The smell of biscuits or the presence of stray crumbs can cause loud and distressing banging noises from the Character Hatch.
  3. Pouring Beans branded mugs may not be taken home.
  4. Do not drink milk from the bottle.
  5. A microwave (800W) is provided for colleagues to heat up food that they have brought from home.
    1. The microwave may not be used as a makeshift bed when Changlet visits.
    2. The microwave may not be used to dry Ian’s fluffy pants, and no exception will be made regardless of the way in which they became damp.
  6. Wash up your own cups.
  7. Regardless of your views on their worth, Ian’s Mangapap Jap Crap may not be used to wipe down the work surfaces.
  8. Do not use the kettle to heat up soup again.
  9. Please consider other users of the kitchen when using the Soda Stream. Do not clog it up by attempting to add bubbles to custard, gravy or other viscous liquids.
  10. Ian’s cask of Cheeky Dragon must be kept in the locked metal case at all times when not in use. A second Beans colleague must agree before any quantity of Cheeky Dragon may be decanted for consumption.
  11. Don’t make Kev coffee, even as a joke. He will become violent.
  12. When making jelly please use a bowl or other crockery. It is not acceptable to tilt the fridge onto its back and pour the jelly directly into it, especially if this results in Chris’s sandwiches being set into the middle of it.
  13. Wash it, dry it, put it away. Excuses that rely upon “washing up monsters” are not acceptable.
  14. Guests are entitled to one (1) hot beverage per visit or per week, whichever is less frequent. Guests may not drink any of Kev’s selection of real ales.
  15. Do not leave teaspoons in the sink.

Obviously if the perpetrator of the sugar theft and dirty mugs is discovered, that person will suffer a suitable punishment.

Thank you.

Avatar Baby advice

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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. 

Avatar Current Investigations

Have you seen this man?


The relevant authorities are currently looking for the suspect due to his possible involvement in the recent fires at the Jerry Loinsford Memorial Publishing house.

Referred to only as Kevindo Menendez to both friends and work colleagues, the suspect has on occasion, which is putting it lightly, been known to undertake various lengthy and overwhelming construction work to his current accommodation.

Even though his poodle grooming salon failed and ultimately closed several years ago, Mr Menendez, pictured here enjoying the benefits of traffic light jelly, has had recent success with his line of baked beans.

The suspect has not had any prior involvement in any incidents of arson, however several comments regarding the owner of the publishing house and his award-winning books and personality have placed him directly at the front of the authorities’ enquiries.

If you know the whereabouts of this reprobate, please contact someone wearing shoes.

Avatar An introduction to marking

Today I learned how to mark children’s schoolbooks. This is an important skill, so for your benefit, here are the basics I picked up.

  1. Use a red pen. Marking is red. Green highlighters highlight some bits of red pen writing. You will be told which bits.
  2. Tick everything.
  3. If everything was right, put on a sticker that says “brilliant”.
  4. If it was mostly right, put on a sticker that says “good”.
  5. If the kid is clearly a bit dim use a sticker that says “target” and tells them to buck their ideas up.
  6. If you’ve run out of “good” stickers, cut the word “brilliant” off a “brilliant” sticker with scissors and that will probably do.
  7. Don’t mess up the piles. The piles were sorted by someone who knows more about it than you do and are not to be disturbed.

Good luck with your marking. Feel free to practice by marking this post in the comments below.