Monthly Archives: September 2012

John sat in the bar. Would she ever come?

John sat in the bar. Would she ever come?

No, he decided. Of course she wouldn’t. Why did they actually bother to arrange the date if they weren’t going to come? Because she was cheating the system, wasn’t she? If John had accepted a date on one day then he wouldn’t accept any more – no way. But John knew her way, she would ask for dates from loads of guys and then only keep the date with the best one.

“Um, Hi… Is that John?”

It was her. He couldn’t help but be pleased, he knew that what he had just been thinking about was his own ridiculous defence mechanism, but at the same time he also smiled to himself – maybe he was the best one. He didn’t even entertain the phrase that momentarily drifted in, “the best of a bunch of losers”, no way he thought. He was the best.

“Yeah,” John said, “Hi”.

They kissed on the cheek, reaching across the table. John for a second worried about her necklace draping in the candle flame. It’s her necklace, I’m sure she knows about it.

Kate sat down at the table. Was he going to be another loser? She was done with that. Or was she? She had dated some guys who had looked exciting, or had thought they were exciting, but all they wanted to talk about was themselves, and really how exciting can a chef be? For “dangerous” read “self-centered”, she had said to herself, and decided to go the other way for a while. I hope he’s not too interested in me though, those guys are so wet, and I’m bored of me, that’s the point.

A ridiculously dressed woman walked past the table, John’s head turned and Kate thought, “maybe this can work”, and she didn’t even hate herself for it. Bad expectations of Prince Charming were her problem. She kept having to remind herself – Prince Charming was a bell end.

“Yes, Kate?”
“Do you actually like dating?”
“No Kate, I don’t.”
“So why do you do it?”
“Same reason you do. I want to be going out with somebody.”
“So let’s just cut the crap and be together.”
“What does that mean Kate?”
“Well you would stop bothering to use my name, I’ll just assume it’s me you at talking to. Just think about your last relationship, like that”
“Last but one, not the last one, the last one was bad all the way through.”
Kate laughs, John reciprocates.

There is a pause while they both try and find their bearings.

John speaks first, “So have we been to bed together already in this make believe world?”
“Of course,” says Kate, “it’s been lovely so far, but it’s time for something more exciting.”
“That’s some pressure, can’t we just have been going out for ages but finally be having it off for the first time, that’s exciting anyway isn’t it?”
“Do we have to be having the same fantasy?”
“No, I guess not, but if they don’t line up, how will we know if we’re both being kept happy?”
“Would we have to talk about it?” said Kate.
“Well only as long as we thought the other one was interested in listening. Right now I think that seems easy. Let’s not keep any pressure on keeping that going.”
“So you think it would be ok to talk about what we both want before it happens? And you are a man?”
“Oh yeah, the most manly kind of man in my opinion is one who isn’t insecure about asking what a woman wants.”
“That sounds like crap to me.”
“Well it’s not supposed to be. I just suddenly found you being much more direct with me than I was expecting at this stage in the date and so I kind of reciprocated to keep up. I don’t think I had time to come up with anything sly, I think that was probably my real thought on it.”
“Ok,” said Kate, “I think… I think, I think this could work.”
“Good,” said John, “it’s so crazy it might just.”

If you were a superhero what superpower would you have?

If you were a superhero what superpower would you have?

I would go for the power of persuasion.

“No, don’t steal that thing!”
“Um, ok.”

It’s the ultimate superpower. But now you can’t have that, what would you have?

I do beg your pardon, were you using that lamppost?

The other day I published a reason to be cheerful article containing the concept that dogs watching dogs on old tv programs might find their forms of speech outmoded. Of course not only is it a lovely concept but it is a wonderful area of study that scientists are looking into right now.

I like the idea that dogs these days are all streetwise and drop their rrr’s before their Woofs and so while dogs these days are all, “wotcha” and “awight” when they see movies from the 60s it sounds like two dogs passing on the street might say to one another, “I do beg your pardon, were you using that lamppost?”

There has been recent research showing that cows and birds have different accents depending on the region they are from. In birds, there is also a variation between city dwellers and country dwellers, even when they are geographically quite close.

There has been much more research into bird song, so we know a little bit more about how bird songs are learned. Some birds acquire imitations throughout their lives, but others learn a set of songs early in life that they then build on and vary. To learn these songs these birds use something called subsong. This is most often seen in birds when they are very young, or when they are in the late stages of courting. This involves the birds singing with their beaks closed, and allows the birds to practice without attracting attention to themselves (like me singing in the shower!). I like to imagine them as embarrassed teenagers worried about singing off key.

Unlike most other things, the young birds learn their songs from their father rather than their mother. But here’s where it gets a bit weirder. Dogs are actually quite a bit more sophisticated than these other animals (even if they don’t seem it). Dogs don’t copy their biological father, they copy the pack leader. And guess who that is in their mind? It’s you. According to some recent studies*, there is a correlation between the tone and timbre of the owners voices and the dog’s barks leading to the concept of Geordie pups as well as Scottie dogs.

So there you go, be careful what you casually say on twitter, some of it might turn out to be true.

*All the info up until this point has come from peer reviewed scientific papers, including the concept of dogs mimicking their owners, the last part was from a large study that was a pilot study, but hasn’t yet been extended or peer reviewed.

The Ambient Appreciation Society of Stoke Newington – Part 2

Time to visit the Ambient Appreciation Society of Stoke Newington. Or AASSN.

“Okay everyone, settle down now please, settle down”, Veronica managed to say this, shrug her shoulders as though she wanted to convey that she couldn’t believe that she was having to be in charge again, and sound like she was totally in charge at the same time.

“Excuse me,” said Sarah gently, and then more insistently, “STEVE!”

Sarah was holoprojecting her presence into the Non Denomination Shared Community Space in association with PepsiMax Main Room today, and Steve had just accidentally placed his didgeridoo through her midriff.

“Sorry Sarah, keep your eyebrows* on.”

Veronica actually stood up, “please would everyone try and keep calm, we are supposed to be here to create relaxing music, not winding each other up”.

“Misnomer”, mumbled Malcolm.
“What was that Malcolm?” asked Veronica.
“I… Look… I was just saying that it was a misnomer to suggest that all ambient music was relaxing.”
“Yes,” added Steve, “that is to conflate ambient music with that stuff you get in a massage parlour”.
“Indeed,” said Malcolm, “and although clearly an influence on such music, the root of the…”
“I. DONT. CARE.”, Veronica shouted. “Just shut up, and then we can actually get started.”
“I don’t think…”, Malcolm started, but then tailed off under Veronica’s glare. But then he decided that he better start up again, “… I just don’t think we’ve actually decided what we are actually going to play”. He looked worried for a second and then added, “that’s right, isn’t it?”
Sarah came to his rescue, “well that is actually right, sorry V”.

*The phrase “to keep your hair on” had been phased out after baldness had been cured. For some reason once baldness disappeared the phrase seems to have slowly transferred to eyebrows rather than hair. Some scholars have speculated that this may be related to raising of eyebrows when surprised.

Reasons to be cheerful – Part 9

This edition of comes from the wonderful world of Twitter:

David Quantick (@quantick)

When dogs see other dogs in old films on TV, do they laugh at their accents and outmoded forms of speech?

Moose Allain (@MooseAllain)

@quantick Do dogs ever stumble over their barks? Do birds ever get their songs wrong? Do whales ever mishear each other?

That’s why I love Twitter. Somebody says something ridiculous and then you have a sudden realisation of an important truth.

Swanky Swankersons

I’ve come up with a business idea. The business will be called Swanky Swankersons. It will be located right up there in Central ‘That London’. When you arrive at the concierge desk, they check your reservation and that you’ve already paid for entry. The concierge then asks you to follow him to a lounge area. On your way, you walk through an area where we waft a seasonal smell at you, be it freshly-cut grass in spring or aromatic burning logs in winter.

In the lounge area, you are asked to sit in a leather armchair. You sit here for ten minutes. Then the concierge is back and asks you to take the elevator to the first floor. A completely glass elevator opens at your touch and the doors swish as you enter the lift. When you arrive at the top floor, you realise that there is only a viewing platform which has attached to it a really long escalator for you to come back down.

At the bottom of the escalator you get your shoes polished and then you are sent on your way into the night. If, at any time, you ask what on earth is going on, then you get barred.

I think it might catch on.

The invariably poor advice of Isaac Newton – Part 2

It is little known that Isaac Newton, in addition to discovering gravity and describing the laws of motion, worked for the Cambridge Advertiser as an agony uncle. His column was feared lost until recent research discovered this trove of material in Steven Hawking’s fridge.


April 1721

Dear Sir Isaac,

I am writing to you for your most wonderful and educated advice. I am but a humble farmer and I am uneducated in your scientific ways, but this farm which has been producing apples in abundant quantity for generations appears to have been on the wane from a yield point of view ever since you invented gravity.

My family is destitute, and I’ve had to eat my pet pig, please let me know what you are going to do about this,


Jonathan Kirkwood



You give me too much credit, His Holiness himself invented gravity, I merely discovered it,




Sir Isaac,

I have spoken to the vicar and he says he ain’t done nuffink,

And in the meantime I’m down a pig and three bushels of apples,





You misunderstand me, I was talking about the almighty himself. He invented gravity, and he also sent you a bad crop, but never fear, if it’s money you’re after perhaps I can interest you in the wonderful world of Alchemy?

It is well known that if you float sufficient apples over a waterfall then a pot of gold will appear at the bottom.





You are a git,


How do you take your Coffee in the morning?

How do you take your Coffee in the morning?

I take mine with a kiss…

But seriously how do you like Coffee and or Tea? Please let me know in the comments.

My mum introduced me to tea when I was a kid, and I would have very weak tea with Milk, which eventually over time became stronger and stronger. But my Dad used to drink Coffee at home (I’m sure as now they both drank both, but in my head as a kid this was the way that it was). My Mum takes both tea and coffee white and my Dad takes both tea and coffee black, so subsequently I drink tea white and coffee black (except for any tea which isn’t English Breakfast / Builder’s tea eg. Earl Grey which I take black because that is THE LAW).

It’s funny how much your own way seems totally natural and everyone else seems mad. The French often drink coffee black and white in the same person depending on the time of day!

My friend Antonia has a list of how everyone takes their tea and coffee and so she only ever has to be told once for you to be on there for the rest of your life. Perhaps, if I’m organised, this blog post could be that for me! So how do you take them?

Stop over thinking everything

I saw something on the internet the other day by the wonderful stand-up comic Sarah Millican. She called it the 11 O’clock Rule or Millican’s Law

The gist is that by 11 O’clock the next morning you have to let yourself off from your bad gig the night before. But for me the key part of the rule is that it works the other way around as well:

Equally, if you nail it, slam it, destroy it, whatever, you can only be smug about it until 11am the next day (in the past, I have set an alarm so I could get up and gloat for an extra half hour) as if you go into the next gig thinking you are God’s gift to comedy, you will die.

I am an optimist, so forgetting the negative was built into me from day one. I know that skill and use it a lot. (I’m not saying I don’t get depressed, I do regularly, but that means I know how to get myself out of that hole because I’ve been in it a lot.) The danger for me is the, “Oh my god, I’m amazing at this”.

My first painting / drawing, while not amazing, was so much better than I was expecting and I should have known better but I then drew some pretty poor paintings / drawings one of which I included last week despite being told, “that looks like a child drew it”. I included it to re-enforce Millican’s Law. I thought I had it nailed, but I really worked at that first picture because I knew I was hadn’t practiced, then I rushed off the second one because I thought – I just happened to be amazing at painting.

Don’t put yourself down too much, but don’t big yourself up too much.

One thing that isn’t included in the article but is also important is this, “keep going, and do the next gig/project/bit”. Keep going.

Fauxbituary #2 – Sir Bernard Catchpole Worthingtonberg

Sir Bernard Catchpole Worthingtonberg
1943 – 2012

Sir Bernard Catchpole Worthingtonberg, entrepreneur, died yesterday. With his campaigning mantra, “the rich deserve a break”, Sir Bernard was a polarising figure on the international business scene. From humble beginnings, Sir Bernard was born in Club Class on a flight to Monaco for the Grand Prix, a fact that he fought to keep secret for more than twenty years, before then admitting the truth in his Autobiography, “Why I’m rich, and you’re not”. From the book: “For years I wanted to hide that I hadn’t been born in First Class on this flight, but then I began to realise that the reason I was wealthy was the same as my father’s, I made everyone who wasn’t me slum it in the back”.

Sir Bernard was known for many years to have been a campaigner for rights for the rich. In perhaps his most controversial suggestion, in a speech at the Lord Mayor’s banquet, he advocated the reintroduction of child chimney sweeps, claiming that they added, “a certain ambiance that was lacking these days, and also it was useful to have them around the house as their small arms made stuffing the swans with smaller birds much easier”.

Sir Bernard died yesterday, after a long illness of the brain, surrounded by his money.

Sir Bernard Catchpole Worthingtonberg is survived.