b3ta.com user godstar
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» Look! It's me in the Local Paper

It's a risky business, being in the paper
Thirty one years ago, I was pictured in the Kentish Gazette in my cub scout uniform (aged 7) having been snapped while helping on our charity cake stall at the county show. The accompanying article gave my full name and the town where I lived. I recall being slightly excited and considerably embarrassed, with some trepidation regarding the inevitable kicking I would get from my classmates.

The next morning - a saturday - the phone rang and my mum called me, saying it's "Akela", the scoutmaster. I thought he sounded odd, but believed it was really him - after all, mum had said it was. The chap on the phone then proceeded to ask me about the newspaper photo, and so on - then veered off into unfamiliar territory - had I ever been photographed naked, and would I like to be. I was baffled and very uncomfortable, but at seven, didn't know how to deal with an authority figure being weird. He then wanted to know if I'd ever sucked another boys penis, and whether I had any particularly strong views on anal sex. I had no idea what he was on about and stayed on the line in the vain hope that I was misunderstanding and it would all suddenly make sense.

Eventually, his breathing became rather loud, and, with a grunt or two, he rang off. Bemused, I recounted this to mum, who called the police. Eventually, it turned out that there was a repeated problem with this - the perv would see a kids pic in the paper (school sports and scouts being his favourites) and work his way through all the families with the same surname in the phone book, asking to speak to the relevant kid (pretending to be a teacher or some such)until, after several "Sorry, wrong number" calls, he hit the jackpot. They never caught him. And I have tried to stay out of the local rag ever since. Now, of course, we have the internet, and he wouldn't need to go to so much trouble - just pop into a chat room and let them come to you.

Sadly, although I was barely upset by this, I never felt comfortable with the poor scoutmaster who had been impersonated and soon hung up my woggle for ever.
(Thu 10th Feb 2005, 18:36, More)

» Things you've done when you've had no money.

In my chaotic and directionless life,
I have been unemployed and/or homeless on a number of occasions - manageable in good weather, when young and in decent mental health.

In London, while living in a shed in the garden of a derelict house in Hackney in the late 80's, I used to keep a decent outfit clean in several layers of bin-bags and would wear it to visit every art gallery opening I could get to for free wine and food. In Los Angeles, where I stranded myself for three months between the end of a contract and my pre-paid, unchangeable return flight, I ate my fill of fruit (avocados, endless citrus, figs, prickly pear - all grown for display, so not really stealing) from the gardens of the moderately wealthy, and did even more galleries - generally slept on or near the beach, and a few nights in the drunk tank when pulled by the polis (not allowed to sleep on the beach, you see - not quite sure why).

Mostly, an adjustment of expectations allows an adequate diet on very little money - no meat, limited alcohol/narcotics, lots of pulses and cheap carbs. Scavenging in markets is a good way to pick up discarded fruit and veg that is perfectly edible when washed and trimmed. I used to get the newsagent to put a card in his window (will do any odd job for cash), and take messages for me - painted a lot of walls and did shopping for housebound old people for 25p a time. Eventually, someone was kind enought to let me use their postal address, so I could get a normal job and rejoin the mainstream. I am not sure that I feel any happier, but I do have more things.

Reading back, this isn't funny and doesn't fit with the "poor student, ketchup sarnie" nature of the responses, but sod it, I don't have access to image manipulation software this week, so this my only reasonable means of self-expression.
(Mon 11th Oct 2004, 17:50, More)

» Shoddy Presents

I have had the usual run of birthday crap from demented relatives,
but if you want truly useless gifts, you need to get married.

I am 37, once divorced, and re-married last year. Despite having lived with Mrs Godstar for 7 years and owning everything we need and then some, we decided to spoil it all and actually wed. (When I say "we", you understand......).

Did a list. A sensible list of affordable items that would actually be used and thus stir fond thoughts of donors. Spoke to all guests individually. Put a reminder with the invites. And the travel directions. Invited those who didn't want to use the list to donate to the charity of our or their choice.

We still received some fucking unbelievable tat. China figurines of hideous ugliness. Several sets of poorly designed glassware that would destroy the flavour and bouquet of any wine (I am a renowned foodie, and have all the glasses I will ever need from working in retail) - including a set of "goblets" that cannot be drunk from as they are square and do not fit the human mouth. Pewter cruet set that rusts at the mere thought of salt. Picture frames - at least they can be recycled as gifts to distant relatives - except the 12" high china ormolu one, which I am keeping to frighten future offspring with. Best of all - the wrought iron THING. We don't know what it is. Nor do the people who gave it - I called them up and asked what the fuck it was supposed to be, and was it something from their recent wedding that they were dumping on us - no, they bought it from a trendy shop thinking it was artistic. It has gone into my mother-in-laws basement and is staying there until the world ends.

I should also make it clear that we live in London, but got married in Ottawa as my wife is half Canadian, half Italian. The iron THING alone weighs more than our combined baggage allowance.

As with most things in life, I draw the conclusion that people mean well, but are daft cunts at heart.
(Thu 23rd Sep 2004, 12:21, More)

» Shit Stories

As I sit crying with laughter...
....you really can't beat a good poo story....I have an indelible mental image of my colleague R******, on a skiing holiday, after two days of tequila and beer, with little or no food - feeling the birth pangs turn into the two second warning, he lagged behind the group and stopped, dropped his ski-pants and released.

Without removing his skis first. We had paused for him to catch up, unaware of why he had stopped, as he appeared over a small ridge, scuds round his ankles, bereft of ski poles, still crouching, leaving a thin brown trickle behind. I have never seen anyone look so horrified with embarrasment. He was quite proud of it later, though.
(Thu 6th May 2004, 12:01, More)

» Strange things you've been paid to do

Collecting poo
Years ago, I was working for a pharmaceutical company developing anti-parasitic drugs for veterinary purposes. The drugs had to be tested on the appropriate parasites, which needed to be extracted from excrement. Most of this came from sheep - this involved coaxing them into a narrow stall and doing a nappy change on them, then dissolving the stools in warm water and sieving the parasitic worms out - not really unpleasant for me or the sheep apart from being slightly undignified.

Unfortunately, there was a requirement for another worm to be tested which could only be readily obtained from cats. You can't put a nappy on a cat (and I would love to see someone try) and the need for fresh and on demand shit meant extracting a cat from its luxurious living quarters and putting in a plastic dustbin, then turning a hose on it, to "persuade" it to dump. This is horrible for the cat, and not fun for me, as I got thoroughly scratched and bitten. But the best bit was that cat shit does not dissolve easily, so had to be blasted through a sieve with hot water to extract the worms. The resulting miasma of cat intestinal bacteria was measurable in the air several corridors away, and stank like only hot cat shit can do.

18 years on, I still cannot resolve the conflict of cruelty to a few cats to try and relieve millions of other domesticated animals from suffering, but I can still smell the air in the lab complex.
(Thu 30th Sep 2004, 16:15, More)
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