Sunday, May 20, 2007

Start spreading the news....da da dada da da

NYC tomorrow baby yeah!
I can’t wait. I’ve been practising my cut glass English accent to charm them’s Americanos and sound like Rex Harrison playing Jay Gatsby. “What an absolutely splendid resposte old sport”- just need to find a monicle.

Nerves are jangling slightly, but I think we’ve actually got everything ready now. As I write this I can hear Lisa in one of her many diversionary tactics scrubbing the oven to avoid the 4 hour ordeal of her packing. Always a highly stressful occasion.

We’re both feeling sadness too, as my favourite jumping shrunk in the wash yesterday.
“Have you checked the label Matt?” She asked beforehand.
“Yeah….mumble mumble” I lied.

That’s the forth favourite jumper of mine in the past 4 years to have caused genuine upset. The honour roll goes as thus:

My thick black jumper I left by the stage door of the London Garage Venue when we supported Cinerama. I left it in a pile by the door whilst I was moving our equipment out of the venue, and when I returned it was missing, but strangely my coat and bag –which both had beer bottles in (nicked from Dave Gedge’s rider) wasn’t touched. I didn’t feel too bad as a) it was the last night of a tiring three week tour and b) no doubt some homeless chap enjoyed the warmth it provided. It was a few days later when the pain of its loss hit me.

My famous, and all time favourite brown jumper with the suede patches on the elbows. Sound awful doesn’t it, but I loved it greatly. I lost it one night in Jimmy’s Nightclub in Harrogate one Christmas a few years back. I had it round my waist and the beginning of the night, when I was walking home with pizza in hand I realised it had gone. I phoned the cunts at Jimmy’s and they weren’t interested.
My mum gave me £20 to go and buy a new one as I was skint an cold. It’s replacement was a stripy jumper I didn’t really care for.

My new tope coloured thin jumper that shrank and bobbled hideously after only one wear and one wash last January.

The dark brown V-Necked jumper that shrank last night. Lisa said “Awww- I loved that jumper, it really suited you” only makes me feel worse.

Anyhow, holiday tomorrow.

NYC themed toonage:

They Might Be Giants- New York City

Thursday, May 17, 2007

taking the piss

Only a few days to go before we set sail for New York city and I'm burdened with the lethargy that ensues when one is so close to two weeks away from the hustle bustle of this office. I also had yesterday off as I had an appointment at a hospital in Runcorn who were going to examine my troublesome knee and it t'was a day blighted with confusion and embarrassment, but mostly satisfaction as no matter what unpleasantness I ever get embroiled into, I can say to myself "It could be worse, at least I'm not in work". I could be captured by Al Queda forced to go on Iranian television and beg Allah for forgiveness, subjected to hours of horrendous, evil and tear educing pain and torture but the mere notion that if I'm not at work then any alternative is less depressing and would keep me going until the bitter end when my head is ritualistically prized from my head by a rusted Swiss Army Knife.

So considering the alternative, I made the most of it. One of my greatest skills is my ability to wait patiently. I've been a master of this for years, and providing I have a book or magazine I actually quite enjoy a good wait or queue. In fact noted to Lisa last night as I regaled the details of the events of my day, that I would be quite happy to travel on trains going no where in particular for hours on end and enjoy myself as long as I have a good book, some money for a tea or beer and my Mp3 player. She made some remark along the lines that this was one of the saddest things she ever heard.

The night before I was a little anxious over the details of getting to this facility as I was not particularly familiar with the town of Runcorn, so I ensured that I would give myself an extra thirty minutes in order to avoid the usual comical mistakes I make on trips such as these. It worked perfectly though- much to my surprise and delight- and I arrived with 30 minutes to spare, so I acquired a sausage sandwich from the canteen. I would like to note that I was ultimately unsatisfied with this sandwich as I was initially enticed by the prospect of a sausage bap or roll, alas I was informed that the baps (barms, bread buns, tea cakes whatever your preference is)on display hadn't yet defrosted, and all she could offer me was bread or toast.

Five minutes before my appointment I went over and introduced myself to the receptionist. She was an elderly lady with an unpleasant skin condition but she had a kind face. She told me I was to go through immediately.
I was told to sit in a long corridor with several doors with the names of the consultants/surgeons/doctor's on them. I noted they were all foreign names and it read like a UN dinner party. Whilst I pondered the demise of the British Medical system and smiled at the nurses as they walked past, I remembered my urine sample....

The information I was sent through the post had asked me to ask my local GP or pharmacist for a clear sample bottle and to bring it with me for my appointment and naturally I didn't make any endeavors to do so until the night before. Unbelievably, getting ones hands on a sample bottle proved a tad more difficult than I expected. Firstly, I ventured to the local pharmacists near to our old office and I was reliably informed that they were unable to sell me (sell me!!??) any as they've run out. They suggested I tried the doctors next door.
I did, but the voice on the intercom told me bluntly that they could only provide their patients with a bottle and as I wasn't on their books they wouldn’t be able to assist. They suggested I tried next door at the drug centre. These chaps were far more helpful and whilst one member of staff searched for an adequate bottle I made small talk about pigeons and their dialect and assured them that I wasn't a smack head but rather it was for my bloody knee. They laughed and said "sure it is..." in a jokey way.

I've had to give urine samples before so I knew what they looked like, but the bottle they gave to me was huge! It resembled a plastic jam jar and had a bright red lid the kind of thing a primary school child would use to mix his or her poster paint in. I was warned that it may be prudent to carry this container in a plastic bag as the lid wasn't too secure. I thanked them for their assistance and went on my way.

I'd decided that I would do my sample before I went to bed, so that it was fairly clear and not too smelly, after a couple of drinks the night before, your early morning dark yellow piss can smell a tad pungent like erm...pissy Sugar Puffs.

The whole journey I carried the Matchel (my man bag) with the utmost care and diligence so that the piss wouldn't leak. However, the frozen barms must have distracted me as I can now recall stupidly dropping my bag to the floor several times with care free abandon, so whilst sat outside the doctor’s office, remembering about the sample, feared the worse.

I picked up my bag and could feel it was slightly moist on the bottom. I cautiously opened it up knowing full what the inevitable outcome would be. It was wet through! I picked out the sample bottle in it Asda carrier bag and I could see the liquid squishing around noticing that the lid wasn’t shut properly. Eeeekkk! Literally the second that I realised the extent of this calamity, a door opened behind me and I heard my name being called.
I stood up, not sure if I should say something. I shut my bag and noticed liquid on the rubber covering of the chair I'd been sitting in.
I walked into the doctor's room in something of a daze and he stood up and thrust his hand out.
For a split second I recalled that episode of curb Your Enthusiasm when Larry refuses to shake someone's had after he sees them sneezing ("It was a DRY Sneeze!!") and I reluctantly shook hands with him. It was all very surreal, almost formulaic. I didn't have time to wipe my hands on my trousers or anything- it was one of those- everything-is-going-in-slow-motion type moments.
I took a seat, and tried to come to grips with this situation I had put myself in and panicked inwardly.
The doctor, a very nice man of Polish Nationality, wore a red Slyvester The Cat tie and asked me lots of questions about my knee but I found it very hard to concentrate on his words. A huge poster reminding staff to wash their hands at all time haunted from his office's wall.

After him poking and twisting my knee several times, he made his prognosis that not only was my cruciate ligament knackered but also the cartilage on the outside of the knee and he would recommend surgery, but he would need to do a MRI scan of my knee first. I was still fazed by the piss spillage. He also did seem too responsive, when I asked him if this qualified me for a disabled sticker.

I was escorted out of his room to another waiting room by the nurse. On route I asked her if there was a toilet nearby, and she assured me that there was one in the MRI waiting room.

I gave my name to the Australian receptionist who had one of those irritating accents that sounded like everything she said was a question and asked where the toilet was. She pointed out this door that was amongst all the chairs., of course it was a disabled toilet. I went in and locked the door behind me. I was very conscious that ever sound I made would be heard by the few people sat patiently only a few feet on the other side of the door so I very quietly tried to wash the inside of my bag, dispose of the sample and try and dry Mystic River; the book Lisa had leant to me (which is a jolly good read if your copy is piss soaked...c'mon I had to read something!). I remained in the toilet as long as I could without trying to raise any suspicions but eventually after stuffing the matchel with paper towels I had to sit with all the other bored looking patients.
I tried desperately to see if it smelled, and thank fuck that I decided to complete my sample the night before.

I wasn’t at all dispirited by this turn of events; it would be safe to say that it amused me greatly, and from that moment in I had a childish grin on my face.

The remainder of the day flew past, and aside from the obvious I had fun- well as much fun as someone can have as an outpatient. The MRI scan was not without it’s moments too but once more I have drifted into the realms of what ought to be a short sweet blog entry into a small essay/long boring ramble, but suffice to say that not only did I struggle to put on the gown they’d given me but I caused offence to the nurse who was operating the machine. I’m one hundred percent sure you’d have said the same thing as I did, i.e. respond with the words “piss off!” when offered headphones as the machine is extremely noisy whilst the thirty minute scan took place. Why this response, well when I asked her if there was any music being played through them (not expecting there to be) she said yes- “It’s The Feeling”, nuff said really.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

I'm disabled!? A blaggard's lament (Disabled toilet Part IV)

After what was probably the best birthday I’d ever had over the weekend I awoke on Tuesday feeling different. I felt a little more focused than I had previously. I felt that with the dawning of a new era I can at long last succumb to maturity and adulthood.

This didn’t last long and I was soon back to my old self when I read my work e-mails, or should I say e-mail. It had been sent to the entire building from the big boss, our Strategic Director, stating that colleagues should refrain from using the disabled toilets in future!

“Oh well, If I can’t use them, no one can” I reasoned.

It then occurred to me that I wasn’t supposed to be using them anyway, so why not carry on? After all there is nothing quite like a danger poo in clean and familiar surroundings?

Alas it was this foolhardy approach that almost cost me dearly!

At my usual 11ish bowel movements, I went discreetly to the disabled toilet and did my business. Whilst there I was bent over wiping my bum, when someone tried to open the door. I froze for a moment, worrying unnecessarily that I may have perhaps left the door unlocked and be caught as a 'standing up wiper'. Thankfully I had locked the door efficiently, so I continued and finished. Before exiting the toilet I waited a few minutes….silence. The coast was clear!

I opened the door gingerly and stood leaning against the wall was the Strategic Director looking thoroughly pissed off.


I tried to play it cool, and raised my eyebrows in what I felt was a friendly manner and I was taken aback when his demeanor changed drastically and he smiled back in my direction!! In these instances I have always felt that getting you excuse in first can make the difference between life and death.

"Hi Mike, erm....about your e-mail..."
"Don't worry about it" He said apologetically.
I was stunned.
"...of course you're okay to use it- I don't want you to think that I 'm excluding you! The Equalities Team would have my guts for garters!!" He smiled warmly and walked past me to the toilet, shutting the door behind him.

I was totally perplexed and my heart was beating like a fucked clock.

I walked back to my desk trying to fathom why he'd say that to me.

It then occurred to me that perhaps he thinks I’m disabled!

Thinking back this would make sense. I went out to purchase the cream cakes on Tuesday I was limping heavily and my back was hunched over so that I could breathe properly. I was really struggling and couldn’t help think that at the at the point of turning thirty I would have ever felt so damned old and decrepit.
As I hobbled along slowly, cakes in hand when a car pulled over and offered me a lift. It was my Departmental director, Alan.

I happily jumped into the back of his expensive Saab. In the front seat of his car was the big Boss, so I made sure I avoided saying anything too funny or interesting so that he wouldn’t remember me. I was introduced to him again and shook his hand. This was actually the forth time I’ve been introduced to him, it’s very similar to Homer and Mr. Burns. Despite him referring to me as a “hippy” once, he never remembers me.

We all made small talk about the forthcoming football match between Chelsea and Liverpool. When we stopped at the traffic lights near to our office, the big boss turned around and asked me
”Why did they (my colleagues) let you go and get the cakes? That’s a bit out of order isn’t it?”
“It’s no problem, I’m not ready for the knackers yard yet” I answered assuming he was referring to my milestone birthday.
“I admire your spirit” He said.
“Well you know…”
“Alan wouldn’t” he said it chuckling to himself.
“He gets more money than me!” I replied and they both burst into fits of laughter.

He laughed and we continued to talk football.

It was either that or the cream cakes?

So I’m now in the unfortunate position of having to limp heavily every time I’m in his company. I can foresee that this is going to get complicated especially as my boss Alan is actually disabled, but doesn’t like to consider himself to be. He always uses the regular toilets etc. I’m really worried that the big boss now thinks I’m a braver disabled fellow that Alan. Worse than that is that he now remembers me!

I just hope my back and knee stay bad so I don’t forget to limp; however I have the toilet all to myself.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Iron dash! (Disabled Toilets Part III)

I realised at 12.30pm today that I’d left the iron on in the flat and had to make a mad dash home on my lunch in order to prevent the house from burning down.
I’m going to decline from telling Lisa this as it won’t help anyone, though I’m sure that once I’ve had a drink, I’ll ‘fess up.

My brother’s coming to town for a weekend of festivities which ought to be good!

I’m also in a pleasant mood as before the Iron dash- I was in the office kitchen making a round of drinks when The Big Boss came in. I smiled polietlly at him, and he grunted some form of ackowledgement at me.

This was weird. I’d never seen him in the kitchen ever before, I assumed being so bleedin’ high and mighty this form of domestic duty would be left to one of his two P.A’s, yet low and behold there he was.

He walked straight over to our fridge (there are several- each for a different Department) and took out the two remaining cream cakes that I had bought on Tuesday.

He turned to me and smiled polietly.
“I’ve had my eye on these for the past few days” He boasted.
“Help yourself” I said nervously.
He looked stunned.
“Are they yours?”
“Yeah, I bought them on Tuesday, take both if you like, they’ll only get binned by the cleaners if not”
He beamed a smile of gratitude my way.
“what a break” I thought to myself
“Cheers- I’ll have one now and t’other later”.
He looked genuinely chuffed. Perhaps it was guilt that he’d been busted, either way it couldn’t do my career prospects any harm.

As I made the seven teas/coffees for my team, he leaned against a work surface slowly eating the strawberry and cream tart. He snoted whilst he ate. I finished and carried the tray of piping hot beverages towards the door. As I was doing so two colleagues from a different department came in mid conversation and held the door open for me. Their timing was impeccable as if a corny sit-com writing had engineered such a perfect moment of coincendence.

“….yeah but the toilets bloody stink. It’s f**king disgusting”
“tell me about it- that’s why we all use the disbaled toilets”

I heard a strawberry get lodged in his throat as the door swung shut behind me and beat a hasty retreat. I could hear muffled shouting through the walls and sniggered to myself.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Schmuck toilet thief -Generosity never helped anyone.

My back was in a bad way at the weekend after a trip up to Scarborough to see my mum and grandparents, mum’s dog, cousins aunt & uncle, and my bloody knee wasn’t helping either. On the Sunday night my back hurt so much so I couldn't breathe properly when I was in bed and didn’t manage to get to sleep until after 5am. As soon as I mentioned I was having breathing difficulties to Lisa the following morning she insisted I visit to the doctors (the second time in a week- my knee was my last ailment). The Quacks reassured that I would live so I called work, laid on thick took the day off and tried to get some rest (ISS Pro Evolution & Seinfeld). Despite the pain it was a bloody good day.

Upon my return to work on my birthday I ventured out to purchased the customary cream cakes for my department, ensuring there was enough for all. £12!!!! Infact there are two spare ones in the kitchen still and should no one lay claim to them, I shall consume them both myself. I was a tad disheartened when in the midst of my pain and suffering I was sent out to buy the cakes myself. No doubt my colleagues watched me from the window hobbling down Stanley Road, hunched over walking like an 80 year old and having a good laugh at my expense. Luckily my boss drove past on my way back to the office and gave me a lift. Funnily, he was giving the Strategic Director a lift too, and I'm pretty sure he didn't recognise me as the guy who failed to warn him about the lack of toilet paper in the disabled toilet. I was dying to ask him if he ever found that copy of The Metro I stashed.

My back is now easing up slightly though my knee is still causing trouble. I now have a hospital appointment in two weeks in which I hope is the first step towards an operation and finally getting it sorted. I received a pack in the post from the hospital asking me to bring a urine sample with me. This had me confused somewhat as I'm convinced that the knee and the bladder are not connected- anyway Kelly, a nurse friend of mine brought me some ultra strong painkillers that she 'borrowed' from the hospital on Tuesday night. I haven't had any yet though should my back pain return or dull ache that plagues my left knee worsen I have suitable provisions. They're now safely out of children's reach in our ever growing medicine cabinet- which until two moths ago only consisted of a packet of paracetamol and now resembles a small chemist.

Along with a new sense of maturity, a new spirit of generosity has washed over me too- but alas once more my pleasantness and generosity has been plagued with disaster.

Yesterday I was in the kitchen assisting my colleague Tony in the making of a round of drinks. Usually of course it doesn't require two people to make the brews, however I was in the kitchen and felt guilty about leaving there to make them on his own. Tony brought up in conversation his discontent with the new building's toilet facilities. Although there is now a massive pile of paper towels and a limitless supply of soap, the general unpleasantness of their condition was making him wait until he gets home before he did his business.
"You wait all day!?"
"Ohhh Matt, I'd rather do permanent damage to by kidneys and bowels than have to go to here but I'm nearly fifty four- there's no way I can wait all day- why do you think I set up so many Goddamned external meetings?"
"Because you're our Finance Manager?"
"God no! It's so I can 'drop the kids off at the pool' during the day without wanting to have a bath in Detol afterwards"

I've always liked Tony and his extreme reactions to everything. In many ways he's been something of a wake up call to me, as there are many of his personality traits I seem to share with him, and as much as I like the guy, I'd hate to end up so highly strung. I decided that a man of his age shouldn't be having to set up meeting with some of the organisations so he can take a dump- so I gave him the nugget of information that is the disabled toilets.
At first he looked worried as if he would be trespassing on private property or committing some heinous act of deviance. After reassuring him that thus far I think only myself and the Strategic Director use them and that it'll be okay his reservations and fear melted.
"Thanks Matt! Would you do me favour and finish making the tea, I'm dying to go!" He said hurriedly.
I just smiled and nodded my head, patting him on the back as he rushed past me and out of the door.

I felt smug.

Tony reemerged into the office looking at least two stone lighter and had a light bead of sweat on his top lip like the Thunderbird puppets. He gave me a wink.
I felt even smugger.

That night I felt content. I slept well dreaming of my beautiful banjo (note:- this isn't a double-entendre _ i was bought by my chums for my birthday- a beautiful banjo)

The next day I arrived at work with the same positive attitude and vigour as I had the day before. The usual trivialities didn't burden me. I even smiled and said hello to Geronimo- who although she didn't smile back at me or acknowledge my existence didn't hit me- so things were really on the up.

At 11 o'clock after several cups of tea, I tottered over to the toilets. I did my usual checking around to make sure the coast was clear. I pushed the door only to find it was locked. I looked at it bemused and noticed the little red plastic square that indicates that it was engaged.

I shrugged my shoulders and went back to my desk.
"Another 10 minutes won't do me any harm" I thought.

After ten or so minutes elapsed I once more waddled over to the toilets and once more I noticed it was locked.
This time round I wasn't so patient so I walked to the third floor to use their disabled toilets.
of course, the risk is much higher using these as I was in unfamiliar territory. Alas these toilets were locked too.

I debated whether or not I should venture to the second floor or retreat back upstairs. The communal toilets were not an option. I decided to wait upstairs, and investigate who was using my own personal throne.

I waited by the lift pretending to use my phone for what seemed an eon until the schmuck toilet thief showed his face. I’d never seen this guy before and he had the type of face you’d remember and a moustash; and I never forget a moustash. Once the coast was clear- I entered with caution and did what I do.

I was reasonably annoyed that some other able bodied person would have the outrage to use a disabled toilet.

This thought stayed with me throughout the day and was heightened when I tried to go again (obviously the stress of this ordeal had prevented me from going properly the first time around) and I was greeted with the alarming sight of the red plastic again.

I was raging.

Once more I pretended to be on the phone until the culprit showed his face. This time around it was a face I recognized from the kitchen. It was the cheeky cunt who asked if I was a student the other week. I smiled politely and once more ventured in unsure as to what state it would be in. It wasn’t in the pristine condition I had come to expect. I was unhappy and this reflected in my lack of ‘passing’.

I spent the next day constenstly checking the disabled loo. It was engaged nearly all day. When I did get enterance it was disgusting. A weaker man would have shed a tear, I just let out the longest dissatisfied sigh I could muster.

At luch time Tony thanked me again for my little tit bit of toilet information. I smiled and wished that I hadn’t. I boached the subject with him delicately.

“Thanks again Matt for the toilet tip” He beamed.
I just smiled pathetically.
“You wouldn’t believe how many people have thanked me for passing it on…”
“What, you told people..” I replied
“Oh was I not supposed to- I’m sorry I told Peter in Technical Services…”
He looked genuinely apologetic and suitably guilty and I did my best not to convey the rage that was building up from within.
“…and Dave in Admin…”
“You’d have been good in the war!” I quipped stopping him from regaling the list of people he’d shed this informational nugget with.
“Perhaps if everyone is using the disabled toilets then the normal facilities might improve” he suggested optimistically.
“Hmmm.” I grunted.
It wasn’t his fault it was my own.

My utopia was banished.
Generosity never helped anyone.

I better start arranging some meetings myself!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


I've only been 30 a few hours now and the wheels are coming loose already.

Bad back,
Swore knee,
unpleasant disposition.

A new era cometh, one of further ailments and hypochondria no doubt.


The Ramones - Happy Birthday Burnsie

The Madrigals - My impending death

Neil Young -Old Man

The Beach Boys- Old Folks at Home-Ol' Man River