This isn’t much of a day for making jolly blog posts, but I refuse to miss out on my August Bean, so here instead is a painted butterfly from the garden at the hospice.
What does disappointment look like to you? Is it a flaccid (easy now) aubergine that hasn’t managed to grow fully in your allotment? Is it a shiny new 50p coin with a huge dent in the edge? Is it learning that Claire Richards from Steps is coming back with a new solo album? It comes in many shapes and forms and sadly there is no escaping the silky, wet glove that is disappointment.
I recently went on a ship and sailed to a different part of the world. It was excellent all the time (whispers, “all the time”) and even though I must have eaten twice my weight in steak and burgers a good holiday was had by all. The ship was swimming in luxury. If you wanted to sit in a hot tub all day sipping champagne and eating tiny desserts you could. If you wanted to go to their cinema and watch four films back to back you could. If you wanted to watch a questionable stage production by one time flatmate of Robbie Williams, Jonathan Wilkes, then you could (the only time we went to the theatre was on the last day when we were leaving and there was no more time for japes).
Families with children were also catered for on a higher level. In addition to the various play rooms and activities there were pools, swimming pools, pools with pizza stations next to them and some kind of sports facility on the very top deck. I would have investigated however we all know I am allergic to 85% of sports in the general population. Did I mention the pools? They even had a night time nursery service so if you wanted to leave little Billy with a responsible adult so you could go get shit-faced in the bar and then return around 1am to pick him up then you could. You really, really could.
As two adults with no small people there was little chance that we could take advantage of any of these facilities. Not that we wanted to but, hey, nobody likes being left out. When the holiday was being booked there was the hint made by the company that some celebrities who would be onboard for a meet and greet. I heard ‘Wallace’ and ‘Gromit’ and I knew that I had to get involved in this kind of action. For four days there was no mention of them anywhere in the leaflets they left outside your day to inform you about the daily activities going on. Nothing whatsoever. Finally on Wednesday morning, cowering towards the bottom and wedged between something called ‘Jukebox Hero’ and ‘Pilates’, was the following:
“Wallace & Gromit Special Appearance – A special appearance from Wallace and Gromit. Come and say hello to the cheese-loving inventor and his faithful four-legged friend.”
We had to go. There was no way we could miss such an event as this. The queue was very long and started snaking through the whole of the atrium; clearly this was a big event for all. We decided to keep back and watch from afar rather than getting too close. Our location meant we could see everything. Like a couple of divas they were ten minutes late. What then happened can only be… well it needs… look at the damn photo:
Not even two people in suits. We’ve got a fully-sized Wallace and a tiny Gromit that he can fully pick up with one hand, no doubt sewn to his hand because he never put him down. I don’t know if the organisers of this even have ever seen ‘Wallace and Gromit’ but they’re fairly even in height due to the latter walking on his hind legs for a lot of the time. The kids that were hugging and posing for photos were fine with the arrangement; not a single one asked to speak to the manager or had some quiet words with a member of staff. It was clear that we were in the minority so we slipped away and discussed our respective disappointment over coffee and cake.
Being an irredeemable transport geek, I follow several blogs and social media accounts about both roads and public transport.
One of them recently linked me to an article about a new scheme on the Washington DC Metro system, where indicator lights are being installed outside some stations that tell bus drivers to wait. The idea is that buses will wait when a train has just come in, so people can make the connection from a train to a bus instead of emerging from the station to see their bus already driving away. It seems like quite a nice idea.
Anyway, I’m not writing this because I think you need to know about innovations in multimodal transport integration in the District of Colombia.
I’m writing this because the news article I was linked to is written by someone called Valerie Bonk.
That’s all. As you were.
Dearly beloved we are gathered here today to cast a keen eye over the mostly-absent third member of the Beans trio, Mr Kevin Hill.
Hill is not dead or missing after hiking through the foothills of Cheveley or anything suspicious like that. We know that he’s still flobbiting about somewhere, possibly in his lovely house or one of the many, many locations he has to drop and/or pick up his kids from.
He has a made-up job title (at least according to his Linked-In profile) and may or may not still be running some kind of poodle grooming business on the side. Is this what takes up all of his time? Are dogs the reason he doesn’t visit anymore? Expert analysists seem to suggest so.
The important thing is that we remember he is still a thing and remembering is fun. Though he may have abstained from posting anything for the last eight hundred years, though his track record of editing and uploading the podcasts is as sketchy as an afternoon with Vincent Van Gogh, Kevin is still a valuable edition to the team and we all look forward to seeing his cheery little face once again.
I use the “reminders” app on my phone quite a lot, because I am forgetful. It’s clever because you can get it to remind you about something at a particular time, and then once you tick the reminder to say you’ve done it, it just disappears. Poof! Gone.
Except it’s not gone, it seems. If you open up one of the menus and tell it to show you completed reminders, there they all are. All of them. Mine go right back to 2011.
I had a scroll through and most of them are very boring. Some of them are not. Here are some things I have been reminded to do in years gone by.
I don’t know what most of these mean.
Go to bloody Richmond FFS
Post Ian a picture of a fist
Go go go
Listen to the thing
Look for workman
Brioche and food
Family pictures sending please
Ask about onion soup
The Hoodie Problem
Mike is going to phone you at 4
Remind Steve to freeze three (3) breaded chicken breast fillets and retain one (1) chicken breast steak in the refridgerator
Clean crap out of headphone jack
Tinsel, silver: six metresworth
Hello! Sorry for the slow reply, I was at work and then I was very, very asleep.
Make some decisions
Give Joe ten pounds Sterling
Post to the Beans
Plans were unveiled today that will shape the face of mash for the future.
While it is unlikely that there would ever be a shortage, experts today have explained the plan that will be implemented should the worst ever happen. It has taken six months for the problems to be ironed out. We spoke with demi-goth soothsayer Wordell Numbstruck.
“The most agonising part was the font size,” explains Wordell, “as we had a split divide between those wanting to use size 11 font and those who preferred size 12. For an entire month neither side would budge and it was only when some bright spark decided to order in two dozen Danish pastries did the lines of communication open once more. That was a good day.
“We were originally going to use a kind of Doomsday clock however it was put to a vote and a more traditional American Defcon-style gauge was chosen. Counting down the days wasn’t quite the right image for mash. We’re still finalising the official art so we will have to make do with some of my crude sketches:
Level 5 – Mash common state
The world stock of potatoes is plump and bountiful. Mash is commonly available and nobody has any problems trying to get any.
Level 4 – Minus mash
One of the leading potato suppliers (China, India or the Ukraine) is facing difficulties due to a poor harvest or bad stock. Mash can be still be obtained albeit for a slightly higher price.
Level 3 – Mashtronomical
All three leading potato suppliers cannot cough up the goods. Russian, the USA, Bangladesh and Germany are overwhelmed with demands and struggle to keep up. Mash is slightly rarer and prices have skyrocketed.
Level 2 – Mash hysteria
The world is begging for mash and nobody is having any of it. Stocks are gradually diminishing in every single country. You cannot find a potato for love nor money. Black market trading is rife and the other, less popular potato products (chips, boiled and new potatoes, croquettes etc.) are also suffering.
Level 1 – None shall mash!
There are no more potatoes left in the world. Mash is gone forever.
“We want everyone to understand that this is in no way likely to be something that happens in our lifetime or the next at that,” continues Mr Numbstruck, “only that a crisis could happen and should it happen we want to be able to sort it out. This system we’ve created will explain to the powers that be just how severe or negligible the situation is. I am confident that the work we have put into this today will benefit others at the appropriate time. We also have t-shirts available in the gift shop and on our website should anyone be interested.”
I like those biscuits that are actually just a big slab of chocolate with a bit of biscuit loitering on the back. That’s the correct ratio of chocolate to biscuit.
Anyway, in the midst of battering my way through a delicious packet of them, I paused briefly to turn one over and have a look at the biscuit side. It had a message for me.
I have decided to start using this as a slightly condescending pet name for people.
- “Hey, slow down there, butter keks.”
- “Right you are, butter keks.”
- “Alright, butter keks, you and whose army?”
If you have other suggestions for slightly patronising ways to use this as a mild pejorative, please post them below.
The sun was out. The weather was fine. What a lovely day for a drive (and various other old man things).
As I pondered these thoughts my eyes started scanning the horizon line for something to catch my attention. There’s always something out there:
- Simply Dutch – the home furniture shop in Northallerton that I always see when driving home to Leeds and still in 2023 have yet to visit (possibly always has a sale)
- The Amazon Depot (around the County Durham area on the A1) – you can see it a mile away, the greyest, dullest building you’ve ever seen. It’s about as fun-looking as a machete through the face
- Any sign with the village name ‘Shilbottle’ on it – if you know, you know
I was almost home driving North on the A1 when I came across a sign that I hadn’t seen before. There was no chance for me to take a photo so I made a mental note of the name and decided to come back to it later.
When later came about, after putting it to the back of my mind, I decided to see if I could find it. I expected to have it buried under a bunch of similar-sounding business names or other things. It shows what I know. Top o’ the list it was:
Chair Finder is an antiques store in Durham (and to a lessor extent London). They believe every chair as its own character and story to tell. They also have a range of curated interior pieces that they find along the way and simply cannot resist. Not only can you peruse a bunch of chairs but you can also get your nose into a other acquisitions such as stone owls and paintings of men riding donkeys. It’s a plethora of things to delight the senses. No wait, the donkey rider has sold. You’ll have to make do with the ‘Portrait of an English gentleman’ instead.
Now whenever I hear the name I can’t help but add ‘general’ to the end of it so it sounds more like Witchfinder General. There are a bunch of dangerous, drooling men scouring the world, ready to offer you good money for your chairs. They’ll take them away and make them look better or whatever it is antique people do. Something involving Pledge? Maybe.
If Chris had looked on Chair Finder maybe he wouldn’t have spent seven hundred years trying to find the foot rest, foot stool, foot hanger (?) that he needed to match his chair. They would have sent him one in a few hours. He could have saved himself a boatload of trouble.
Perhaps you’re in need of some chairs. Perhaps you need the guidance of a more experienced pair of hands. If you have a problem, if no-one else can help and if you can find them maybe you can hire the Chair Finder.