b3ta.com user silencer
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» Guilty Laughs

Unlucky in love
Since divorcing my mum, my dad – now in his fifties - hasn’t had much luck on the dating front. While this is in part down to his taste in unsuitable women – in short, anything with a pulse – he’s not been helped by a tendency to propose to anyone who can put up with him for three dates or more.

But last summer, Dad finally seemed to have struck lucky. He met a lovely lady (let’s call her Sharon) on the internet. They both liked motorbikes, shared a similar taste in appalling jokes, and generally got on like a house on fire.

Nevertheless, Dad decided to ‘take this one slow’. Sharon – just out of a rough relationship herself – agreed. However, they soon fell deeply in love. While Dad usually had little to say on the phone to me, now he was happy to talk about himself and Sharon and seemed truly content. Certain that she was the one, he bought a wedding ring and prepared to pop the question around Christmas time.

Sadly, he never got the chance. At the beginning of December, Sharon went to the doctor complaining of a pain in her stomach. Bowel cancer was diagnosed, and Sharon was operated on almost immediately. However, the disease had spread too far. Tragically, by the end of the month Sharon had passed away.

My dad takes most things in his stride, but he was genuinely heartbroken. One minute he had been thinking of marrying this woman – the next he was at her funeral.

The day after Sharon was laid to rest, I called to see how dad was getting on. He confessed that he didn’t really know where to turn now, not least as everything had happened so quickly.

“I can’t believe she’s gone,” he told me. “It was only about a month ago that we told each other that we’d like to spend the rest of our lives together.”

He paused for a second. And then, brightening somewhat, he added:

“Well, I suppose she did do that really.”

At which, I almost pissed myself.
(Tue 27th Jul 2010, 16:22, More)

» Family Holidays

Worst. Holiday. Ever.
Family decided to go and visit the grandparents. They lived in Sunderland. We lived in Dover.

After 8 hours on the M1, we arrive. Unfortunately, Dad hadn’t told them we were coming, and they weren’t in.

So we went home.
(Thu 2nd Aug 2007, 22:08, More)

» Failed

I failed to become James Bond...
...and it's all my Mum's fault.

After uni, jobs weren't as easy to come by as I imagined (who'd have thought an English Lit degree has no practical application?) So I spent several months at home applying for everything available and getting nowhere.

One position was with MI5's graduate program. Quite liking the idea of being seduced by feisty Eastern European double agents, I applied, without thinking I'd hear anything.

One day, upon coming home from my temp job my Mum pressed a large, serious-looking brown envelope into my hand, saying, "Open this - it looks important." So I went into my room and opened it up - turns out it's an invitation from MI5 to attend the initial test stage of their screening process. Awesome.

Then the letter says - and I'm paraphrasing here - "This is the first step towards a career in which you will have to keep important secrets - not only from people you don't know, but also from your friends, and even your family. So you should start now - don't tell anyone about the nature of this interview." Rightyho, I can do that.

On cue, in comes my Mum. "Is it an interview? Who's it with?"


"Son, tell me."

"Mum, it's not important."

"Look, I've been putting you up here since you left university and I need to know that you're doing the right things. What is in that letter?"

"Mum - I can't tell you..."

*Mum grabs the envelope out of my hands and reads the letter.*

Mum - "Oh my god! You're going to work for MI5! Wait here - I'm going to tell everyone!"

So, essentially, I failed the first (and only) task MI5 would ever attempt to give me in roughly 30 seconds. Either I'd be the worst spy ever, or my Mum is a criminal genius.

(I did go to the tests - it was all very odd. I didn't get in, and the country is doubtless safer for it.)
(Fri 5th Jan 2007, 22:47, More)

» Hotel Splendido

Pikmin porn
A couple of years ago my company, either as a reward or punishment, relocated me to Canada. While I tried to find somewhere to live, they paid for me to stay in a very average hotel out by the airport.

It was miles away from anything, and I had nothing to do in the evenings except read and watch telly, which got boring pretty quickly. Salvation came in the form of the in-room Gamecube, which cost about 5 bucks to play for half an hour; I got hooked by the game Pikmin and eventually racked up about $120 of room service charges.

Upon checking out, I sent the bill off to expenses, not realizing one thing; every single half-hour session of innocent Gamecube playing was itemized as "In-room entertainment charge." Or, to put it another way, exactly what it would have looked like if I'd been ordering new porno every half-hour.

This led to an 'interesting' conversation in which I had to try and convince the nice lady from HR that I'd actually been trying to help the spaceman get back to his home planet with the help of some magical flowers, rather than masturbating myself into a frenzy. I ended up paying the bill.
(Mon 21st Jan 2008, 20:47, More)

» Expensive Mistakes

I might win this one…
I’m a business journalist. A couple of months ago a company called me with a story about a project it’s developing in an unexplored region. It was a slow news day, so I did the interview.

This company was the junior partner in this project, so I called the other (much larger) firm involved to check out the rest of the story out. They gave me the same spiel, but did say “this is a pilot project that we’re looking forward to developing” – a quote I used in my article.

That, it turned out, was a bit of a mistake. Calling something a “pilot” project means you’re just trying something out, and to the larger company, this was technically true. However, for the smaller company, calling it a pilot accidentally gave this project the impression that it wouldn’t make any money, at least for a while – which wasn’t what they’d told their investors.

When my story came out the next day, using that one innocuous word caused the junior company’s stock to sell off by a third, leading to an ‘interesting’ discussion to say the least. Thankfully, I was able to prove it wasn’t my fault but theirs, as they hadn’t got their story straight with their partner and I had his quote on tape. However, they haven’t exactly beaten down my door to write about them again.

Total cost: $20 million, give or take...
(Thu 25th Oct 2007, 20:08, More)
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