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» The most cash I've ever carried

Last week...
...I went out with a big wad of Euros to buy eleven French impressionist paintings that I'd wanted for a long time. Afterwards, I noticed I had just 0.1 Euros left, but then I reflected that at least I had more Monet than cents.
(Sat 24th Jun 2006, 7:48, More)

» The most cash I've ever carried

Actually, it's funny you should ask about large sums of cash
as my late employer, Dr Adada Muhammadu, had received TWENTY-FIVE MILLION US DOLLARS in cash shortly before the US invasion of Iraq. He was accidentally killed in fighting last year and since then I have been the sole custodian of this money, every one of Dr Muhammadu's relatives having died five years ago in a bizarre tangerine-hurling accident. I now need urgently to move this money our of Iraq and know that you, trusted sir (or madam), will be able to help in return for 50% of the money. Please send me your contact details urgently, but keep this in absolute confidence until the transaction is complete.

With blessings on your doughnuts,

Dr Olembe Olembe, Baghdad.
(Sat 24th Jun 2006, 10:49, More)

» Scary Neighbours

The Pyramid Family
When at university in York we lived in a desparately rough and pikey area called Tang Hall. How rough was it? Within two weeks of moving in our house had been stormed by the riot police (and my very drunken housemate slept through it, but that's another story).

Anyway, our back garden joined onto several other people's back gardens with fairly high fences between them. The third house around was inhabited by the scariest bunch of inbred weirdos you can imagine. There were about 426 of them living in that house and not one of them had a job. So how did they keep themselves busy all day? Soap operas? No. Incest? No (well, actually, probably yes, but that's not the point of the story). In fact, they spent about 6 weeks one summer entertaining themselves by building a pyramid in their back garden.

Yes, a pyramid. Practically full-size. Out of mud.

As the days went by, we watched in disbelief as this family erected a three-metre-high ziggurat out of soil and paving slabs. It was like watching a termite colony in action as they swarmed unceasingly all over this mound. And when they'd finally finished the pyramid they embedded a bathtub in the top. As you do.

We never had the slightest idea why they did all this or what it was for, as having finished it they proceeded to act as if it wasn't there. They went back to their other favourite pastime of lobbing rocks into our garden when we were trying to barbeque. Seriously. Parents egging on their brood and everything.

There's a postscript to this story. Just before I moved out I was walking down the road to the shops when I was stopped by two Mormons (Mormen?), fresh off the plane from Utah with their silly short-sleeved white shirts and name badges. They asked me if I knew anyone who needed saving. Without hesitation, I turned and pointed to the Ziggurat House. Their faces lit up with righteous glee at the thought of bringing the word of their lord to an ungodly area of Yorkshire.

There was no sign of those Mormen ever again. I'd feel guilty, but then those white short-sleeved shirts really do irritate me.
(Thu 25th Aug 2005, 15:17, More)

» Ripped Off

Because I'm a Britisher...
...a few years ago I owned part of a national rail service that worked pretty well and took people where they wanted to go when they wanted to go there for a reasonable price.

Then, without anyone asking me what I thought, it all got sold off to a set of multinational banks and private companies who now offer me a worse service for far more money, in order that their shareholders and directors can enjoy big dividends and bonuses. I regularly have to endure computers telling me they are "VERY. sorry. for the. SEVERE. delay. to my service" and endure people who never travel on the trains they run telling me that overcrowding is good for me. I've been well and truely ripped-off like a bloody kipper.

This story isn't funny, I know, but then neither is handing over 15 to First Group every day for the privilige of travelling on the Chav Express.
(Fri 16th Feb 2007, 11:11, More)

» The Dirty Secrets of Your Trade

UHT/Sterilized milk
When I was doing my A-levels, I spent a long summer working for what was, at the time, a well-known milk producer whose name sounded an awful lot like 'Crazy Dairy'. They also produced milk for most of the big supermarkets as well, so nobody was safe.

The thing with sterilized and UHT milk - as well as the fact it tastes rank - is that the processing kills anything nasty in it. This single fact guided every activity in that factory. Because ANYTHING could go in that production line and come out the other end and be sold, anything did.

This batch of milk was overcooked and stinks of burnt feet? Throw it back in - nobody will notice by the time it's diluted.

This batch fell off the loading bay and is full of gravel? Ah, nobody will notice.

But what's this? A forklift collided with a pallet full of cartons? (This happened several times a day.) The pallet has been sat outside in the sun for four days? It's swarming with maggots? Chuck it all back in! Don't worry about the maggots, Olembe - we do strain it before it goes in the cartons, you know!

Me and the other student grunts used to spend days tipping punctured cartons into vats. When I say there were maggots, I mean it was like something from a horror film. After 30 minutes your boots were quite literally full of them so that you felt them squash between your toes; after 60 minutes your gloves were full too. After a week you give up caring. Not about the maggots: about life.

The really fun bit was when the supermarkets came to inspect. On those occasions we grunts, and all the foetid milk we were working with, would be locked in a small airless, windowless room where the activity couldn't be seen. Out of sight, out of mind, and all that.

You know that rancid bacterial stink that wafts from the back of refuse trucks when you walk nearby? Every time I smell that I'm transported right back to that factory in Oswaldtwistle.

Get your milk fresh, if at all. That's all I'm saying.

Edit: I've also worked as a waiter or kitchen worker in quite a few restaurants and contrary to many of the stories here, never saw anything untoward happening to food. The Aladdin's Cave takeaway, which used to exist in Padiham, though: that's a whole different story...
(Fri 28th Sep 2007, 17:36, More)
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