Pack your bag, grab a coat and head off with me to a mystical place, a place where only the brave may date to enter and only the fiercest survive. If you have the courage then perhaps you will make it to the very peak of n’cle.
In all honesty, I’ve never been to n’cle. It’s clearly listed on a lot of signs around here but whenever I head in the general direction it disappears. It is as though n’cle is more of a concept than anything else, it’s a state of mind. You don’t go to n’cle because you’re either there or you’re not. You can’t get there if you’re already there. Yeah, something deep and meaningful like that.
I have dreamt of hiring a helicopter and flying closely over the terrain in the hope of finding a physical, tangible thing. Perhaps n’cle is so small that only the locals know where it is. Perhaps it’s a stump in the middle of a dell, or a well, or a part of Hadrian’s Wall with a bad smell.
These are all theories though and none of which get me closer to n’cle. I will forever be chasing it, desperate to taste it, smell its goods and embed myself within its warm embrace. Embed? Definitely embed.
Gather round children for I have a story to tell you.
The ratio of men to women is currently around 1:10 in my office. We used to have two gents toilets but it was decided to turn the smaller one into a ladies, for obvious reasons. The remaining gents toilet is umm quaint but not perfect: the light takes around 10 seconds to turn on (not ideal when you’re busting for a whizz wazz wongle), the hot water tap doesn’t work so they had to get an extra one with a heated unit and the dryer is so poor that it’d be quicker to blow on your hands yourself.
Due to the hand dryer being as effective as a car made of wet cheese, I started putting paper towels in the gents so that we had options. There was a small bundle stacked on top of the dryer and a spare lot in the (broken) cupboard above the urinal. I had started doing this before the Bovona virus took hold and every so often the same thing would happen; the paper towels would vanish completely. There one day and gone the next. I thought it was the cleaners moving them or something else. Baffled but thoroughly British, I said nothing and merely replaced the towels. This happened at least half a dozen times over a period of about twelve months.
When I came back from furlough, mainly working from the office, I did the same for what few men remained in the building. To my astonishment the same thing kept happening; a few weeks would pass and the half-used stack of paper towels would be gone with no explanation. I finally decided to do something about this so I mentioned it to the office manager, who was just as puzzled as I was. There was absolutely no reason for anyone to remove the towels. She said that she would mention it to the cleaners and get back to me.
The next day I entered the gents to put my contact lenses and smiled as there was a newly opened pack of paper towels waiting to dry my moistened paws. After putting the lenses in I walked over to the office manager’s office and thanked her for sorting it out. She looked confused, “sorted what out?” I mentioned the towels. “I haven’t spoken to the cleaners about it yet though.”
I asked if she was winding me up, an elaborate prank which I had completely fallen for. Given how grim the world is right now anything light-hearted is very welcome, even at my expense. She swore that she knew nothing about it. There was nobody else in the room when I asked her about it the day before. The towels re-appeared out of nowhere.
There is talk of a ghost who haunts the office at night. Colleagues working late have mentioned hearing noises and bumps after dark. The building is over a hundred years old so it has gone the rounds, so to speak. Do I think that a ghost is playing a trick on me? Do I think that this spectre is yanking my chain by throwing away paper towels?
I don’t have a foggy froggy fog fog fogey Phileas Fogg the foggiest idea.
Before I was about 22, I never wore slippers at all. Our house was a socks house. You took your shoes off and then you just went around in your socks until it was time to put your shoes back on and go outside somewhere. Just one pair of socks, though, not two at once. We weren’t savages.
But my student house was cold, and my housemates all wore slippers, and eventually the peer pressure got to me. On a trip to Next at the Trafford Centre I gave in and bought myself some suede slippers with a very jaunty orange liner. They were amazing, and I was an immediate convert. Now I’m a slipper person.
Since then I’ve spent many years working my way through successive pairs of black suede-effect slippers from Debenhams, but they don’t make them any more, and Debenhams is on its way to the wheely bin of corporate catastrophe, so they aren’t coming back. So now I don’t just need new slippers, I need to choose a whole new slipper type. Nightmare.
I spent several weeks not doing anything about it, because whenever I looked I wouldn’t find anything I liked. But my hand has been forced by the very cold floors in the new house and I made an emergency purchase of some fairly cheap ones that have stripes on the inside, just to keep my feet warm.
You can probably guess the punchline. My stripey slipper snobbery was ill-founded. The new slippers are warm, snug and everything I require. There’s no looking back now. It’s these bad boys all the way.
Please do share your own slipper stories here, unless they’re about wearing two pairs of socks at once. Nobody wants that.
It would be quite fair to comment that I have done a bit of everything in my time on earth. Everything from washing machine repair man to fashion guru, I’ve been there, I’ve certainly done that and quite frankly I not only bought the damn t-shirt but procured the whole rack of clothes and displayed them in front of a multi-national crowd full of bigwigs and industry types.
So, what now? Where can someone with my set of skills possibly go except into space? It truly is the final frontier. I don’t know, it seems a bit too final to be shooting myself off into the unknown in the hope of finding a line of employment that could possibly compete with my bustling CV of “endless success”.
Last night I was trying to think about what else I could do, something that was within my grasps on planet earth which would negate the requirement for interstellar space travel (I’ve seen the figures and it is a smidgen too costly for me coppers) and do you know what my best idea was? What surged to the front of my mind to take centre stage, all my attention?
I was going to use my tiny man hands to fix tiny ant vehicles. I would put those years of “experience” fixing washing machines to help our friends, the ants, to get back on the road after serious accidents and engine failures. I’ve got discounts and payment plans set up for regular customers. There’s Bonbon in the back, he’s good with people and ants, and looks after the place when I have to make deliveries. Running a successful garage isn’t just about fixing stuff after all, it’s about customer service, a friendly face and lashings of car air fresheners.
I can’t tell what’s a good idea anymore. I may have finally *finally* gone over the edge in a barrel. That is, unless one of you could suggest something new that I could try?
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.
How will you be remembered? What will be your legacy?
What small nugget of nonsense will you leave the world so they know that you were once here, plugging away through all of life’s shambles like everyone else? Most people think it’s easy enough to pop out of a couple of kids and job done, right?
While my legacy is currently encroaching on my status as ‘tallest person in my family’ and ruffling through cupboards looking for chocolate cereal, there is another way that I will be “fondly” (?) remembered for years to come.
My nieces have all collectively lost their minds, which is nice when you think about it; they could have lost them one by one but they chose to do it all at the same time like sisters. together as a family. Adorable. I’m so proud of them. They then decided to write a song, which is clearly inspired by me, and John sent me a video of them performing it. The internet doesn’t deserve that but what I will do is show you the lyrics to this timeless masterpiece. It’s so poignant that if that rumoured Papples reunion ever happens they may have to croon a cover of it.
Now all I need is someone to paint my beautiful visage next to a newly-commissioned big-chinned, bollock-necked MaGee with the lyrics surrounding me in a halo of light and my voyage to immortality will be complete.
There will, I expect, be more posts from me on this subject in the near future, because it has become a very large part of my life. But for now, it is probably enough to say that getting yourself a house is an enormous process that takes up a lot of your time and energy, and has far reaching consequences for the whole of your life. It is difficult and tiring.
On the other hand, though, it’s one of the best things ever, and it has made us this happy.
Normal service will resume in February. In the meantime, if you need me, I’ll be trying to find something in a box that is under three other boxes at the back of a room full of boxes.
Last month, Mariah Carey was cruelly denied the Christmas Number One yet again. In 1994, “All I Want for Christmas is You” was kept off the top spot by East 17’s “Stay Another Day”; in 2021 it actually reached number one the week before Christmas but was then bumped into second place by Ladbaby, whoever the hell they are. Hang in there, Mariah. You’ll do it one day. Until then, let’s set aside the best Christmas song ever recorded to spend some time with Music Box, Mariah’s third studio album, released in 1993.
I don’t think I need to introduce Mariah Carey. She’s one of the best selling female artists of all time, has a net worth in the vicinity of half a billion dollars, arguably influenced most of the vocalists you hear in the charts and every single person who has ever appeared on a TV talent show, and still retains such an air of mystery that Wikipedia doesn’t know what year she was born in.