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» School Assemblies

It was still better than the Lord's Prayer
Back in the heady days of early 1991 I was a young first schooler with a terrible, terrible secret. I’d spent the previous summer on a couple of camping and caravanning holidays (that’s not it), often with extended family including aunts, uncles, grandparents & cousins. It was one of those cousins that I can now blame for planting the seed of my downfall.

Linda was 3 years older than me and to my eyes was probably one of the cooler people that I knew. The knowledge that over the summer holidays I would be able to hang out with someone older and cooler than me while hopefully learning something more about life filled me with joy. What I didn’t realise was that I was being unwittingly guided down a path that would lead to me to both embarrassment and debasement.

Time on those holidays was mostly spent playing some classic summer sports; swingball and boules, Scatch and Aerobie, interspersed with some casual sitting around on tree stumps listening to one of those new fangled Walkman devices. Linda had a canny little collection of cassettes to listen to on those long summer days as well! A mix of Top 40 recordings taken from Radio 1 on a Sunday night, NOW 19 featuring some early Massive Attack (I didn’t like them much aged 7) and the Holy Grail… Queen’s Greatest Hits 1 and 2!!
I’d never heard such wondrous singing in all my years, what with the looping harmonies and flat out hollering of Freddie, fat-bottomed girls left, right and centre, bicycle races ring ringing in my ears and the one from that sci-fi film with a booming Brian Blessed. However, it wasn’t any of those virtuous verses that captured my imagination at first but the incessant beat of We Will Rock You, the penultimate track on tape one. I could see how I might be that boy on the street; I probably did have mud on my face while kicking my can all over the place. And so it was that I started on my not so epic journey to stardom.

Once back home I dutifully sent a couple of blank cassettes over to Linda and asked her to tape me a copy of my new favourite albums. When returned, with the painstakingly handwritten track listings that used to be an art-form, I settled down to learning and transcribing the lyrics to We Will Rock You. For the remainder of the summer I was a one man Queen’s army ready to perform at any given opportunity. With some thigh drumming and overhead clapping providing the beat I’d sing/shout my heart out to anyone listening whenever I’d not already been given a clip around the lug and/or stern instructions to shut the hell up.
Obviously my parents grew weary of the warbling within a working week but there was still another week or two left of the summer holidays before back to school time. I hatched a plan and with the help of some willing and not so willing school friends I embarked on a series of gruelling rehearsals to form a new band; a more modern take on Queen, where the band members were more likely to be wearing a Gola shell-suit or some knackered Hi-Tec rather than the natty yellow get-up that Freddie seemed to favour.

We got back to school in early September and I was already itching to speak to my new teacher and ask how the school would feel about a break from the normal assembly structure. Would they really be willing to let a four strong band of 7 year olds perform without any teacher guidance or control?! Of course they would!! Looking back now I can see that I would’ve done exactly the same since I’m sure it gave the teachers enough mirth to last for the entire school year.
Both me and the rest of the band were excused from our lessons early and went to don our outfits for the big performance in what was a generally unheard of afternoon assembly. The clock ticked and the school hall PA system quietly hummed while the rest of the school excitedly filed into the hall to be greeted by a blank stage and a twitching curtain. The remaining four of us hidden behind the curtain holding our breath, this was going to be our/my big performance. We were going to nail it!

That was until the curtain pulled back, the drumming started and we saw the hall jam-packed with over 300 kids, teachers and some sneaky parents here for a laugh. My Brian May, my Roger Taylor and the other one all promptly scarpered, literally exiting stage right as fast as their little legs would take them. I was bereft but there was only one thing I could do and that was to go for it! (The show must go on etc.) I’ve got no idea how long the performance lasted but I’d say that it felt like a lot more than one lifetime. Overhead claps and slapping of thighs do not a good performance make even if my squeaky 7 year old’s voice is probably the closest I’ve ever sounded to Freddie Mercury. I’d also like to say that I left the stage to a standing ovation but that would be a bit of a fib. I was met with a generous smile from a friendly music teacher tucked behind his electric organ but apart from that, nothing, nothing but a sea of suppressed giggles and the general apathy of kids who’d rather be playing on the one and only school RM Nimbus!

Funnily enough I’ve not been much of a performer since those days and We Will Rock You is no longer my favourite Queen song…I do still remember the words though!

tldr; Dancing queen ruins assembly
(Tue 18th Jun 2013, 12:07, More)

» Ignored Advice

It's your own bloody fault
Sometimes, on occasion, it's not necessarily the advice of your elders or your peers that you fail to heed. It's amazing to think that despite nobody knowing you better than you know yourself, it can be absolutely impossible to listen to the voice screaming at you from within your own mind.

"Don't go around there tonight. You'll only end up regretting it!"

And so it was that after 3 days of merriment and copious amounts of booze imbibed that I sat and considered my Sunday evening options. The Grand Prix was finished, X Factor's as gash as it ever was and QOTW was turning over at such a slow rate that I feared it might've gone into reverse. What other options does a man have other than an early night?
Until you're faced with that familiar call? "Are you coming out for a pint?" Just a quiet end to the weekend. Something to help quicken the journey to the land of nod before another manic Monday.

Then before you know it, a cheeky pint to close out the weekend turns into five or six pints that would normally serve as a non-hangover inducing sup. At that point having already ignored my own advice to have a quiet night I decided that there's nothing quite like a whiskey night-cap to close out the frivolities. Fast forward half a bottle of whiskey later, a couple of the finest hippy ciggies and it's time to call a taxi home which arrives at the very reasonable hour of 4:15am. Home by half past and then two and a half hours kip before the spectre of work looms large and the snooze button becomes both your best friend and a mortal enemy.

I've just started to come to my senses now having been at work for over 5 hours already. The sum total of my efforts have been 1x Sausage&Hash Brown sarnie, 3x cup of tea, 1x unreasonably long trip to the traps for a wee snooze and 1x entry to B3ta so it at least sounds like I'm typing something that could pass as real work.

It's certainly not the first time that this has happened but as I've advised myself many a time before, it'll definitely be the last...honestly Guv, it will!

tl;dr man has hangover at work, visits B3ta instead of working...who'd have thought it?!
(Mon 19th Nov 2012, 13:39, More)

» Spoilers

If you don't want to know the scores, please...

go fuck your own face! Cos you haven't got a cat in hells chance of managing to find the remote, change the channel or make yourself both deaf and blind in the split second before the BBC News bell-end takes an unestimable amount of pleasure in ruining it for you.
(Thu 6th Jun 2013, 14:35, More)

» Made me laugh

Wind Power
This little tale is kind of a follow-up to something that I didn't post from last week's QOTW. However, I do know for certain that laughing really shouldn't be this painful.

It was only a matter of 2 weeks ago when these events occurred but I'm sincerely hoping that I don't get an attack of the crazies in old age that wipes this from my memory...

Working in an office you're always likely to be subjected to those types that you'd hope never to meet in the real world. Unfortunately my most recent desk "buddy" had already started to lose her shine well before moving into the vacant desk directly opposite me. Balls!! This woman was ripe for the picking for last week's QOTW but I guess seeing my scowl while typing up stories about her might have made my day even longer. Happily she's gone home for the day so it's time to type...

(Names changed and all that) Belinda is just a good old fashioned pain in the arse. If there's something to complain about; she'll complain. If there's something of no consequence to talk about; she'll talk. If I've not paid her any attention for 20 mins; she'll make a deal of stretching, forcing her saggy puplets upwards and flashing a bit of belly which is more akin to an uncooked Gregg's sausage roll than anything resembling a human stomach (I'm saying it ain't pretty, right). On this fateful day a couple of weeks ago, Belinda was away from her desk slowly wafting around the office without a care in the world when Diane approached Belinda's desk. I'm quite friendly with Diane who is a slightly worn, middle aged woman with a hint of deafness but apart from that, is a jolly nice lady. Well, so I thought.

After a couple of mins idle chat with Diane, the subject of Belinda came up and we talked of her ability to wind people up with minimal effort. She does this to the point where the office is full of soundless screams, day after day! After taking exception to Belinda's recent behaviour Diane decided that she deserved a little payback of her own and she could do it right now and get away with it. There'd be no need for preparation. Diane glanced at me with a glint in her eye and a certain poise which belied the true devil in her plans and quietly said "What do you think she'll make of this, Band of Rain?" At which point it was too late to answer. In the space of the next 2.5 seconds the following happened:

*Diane squatted above Belinda's desk chair
*Belinda approached her desk (and Diane) from a cheeky blind-spot around the corner
*Belinda let rip with a sound like a lightsaber in reverse
*I sprayed a recently gulped mouthful of scalding hot tea out of my nose across my laptop and half my desk!

Although only 2 weeks ago it seems as though my nose still burns, Belinda is still seething with righteous fury and Diane...well she is still a hero!
(Thu 6th Dec 2012, 17:15, More)


It's a shoe-in
Well over a decade of summers ago I used to have a part-time job in a kids’ shoe shop. This place was a sweaty little dungeon at the best of times but during the summer in question the temperature was soaring. Shirts were sticking to backs, armpits were leaking like Ed Snowden with a bladder infection and the smell…let’s just say it could singe your nasal hairs at ten paces!

I used to have the unenviable job of measuring up the plates of meat on these little toe rags day in-day out. You could be talking about 40+ pairs of sweaty feet in a day which really wasn’t the way I imagined my summer progressing just after I’d finished my GCSE’s. While the rest of my mates were out and about variously smoking themselves into an early grave or terrorising local golfers, I was alone in my shoe shop purgatory. But hey, I was learning how to be self-sufficient and at least it earned me a bit of extra beer money.

Occasionally there were the good days though. It could be a rewarding job to those who are lucky enough to be serving a mother with their 4 year old itching to get their very first pair of school shoes. The proud look on their face soon turning to horror as little Billy proudly proclaims that he really likes the shiny (patent leather) ones. There’s nothing you can do but let the little fella get on with it or failing that, start a screaming match which would likely set off the umpteen other little’uns impatiently waiting to stick their feet into the foot measuring machine of doom.

On this particular occasion (the one that relates to QOTW) I was serving a young family with their two children aged around 4 and 6. I’d fitted the 4 year olds’ shoes without fuss and now it was onto the 6 year old cheeky chappy who’d patiently waited his turn. It was at this point his mother quietly beckoned me to one side to inform me that her eldest was autistic and could sometimes be a little “difficult”. “That’s no problem at all, madam” I said confidently, easing her nerves which in turn appeared to calm the lad as well.

The whole foot measuring, shoe fitting exercise went like a dream. The 6 year old was now the proud owner of some brand new Bootleg school shoes (it was a brand, honestly). Anyone that remembers them would know that these things were generally quite bulky shoes, built for the sturdier sole/soul. Anyone paying attention earlier will also remember me mentioning the autism factor which hitherto had not been a problem.

It was now in his moment of glory, new shoes boxed up and with a smile on his face as wide as your mam that he decided to strike. I’d just bent over to pick up the unwanted boxes of shoes to return them to the stock room. With the boxes neatly stacked and ready to pick up, the next thing I realised is that the boxes were strewn across the shop floor. As was I!

Now apparently I’d not been knocked completely cold although I definitely hadn’t seen the blow coming. Nor could I really remember it happening. What I did know is that I’d just been walloped across the bonce by a 6 year old with the superhuman strength that only autism can seem to give. As a profusely apologising mother assisted me to my feet, another drop of sweat (probably a tear) rolled down my face and dropped pathetically to the floor.

As far as I can remember afterwards, I finished the sale then went to the stock room for a cup of tea and a lie down. Such a damn shame that the pretty shop girls that I worked with didn’t seem to think it raised me up in the manliness rankings!
(Fri 2nd Aug 2013, 16:03, More)
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