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» The most childish thing you've done as an adult

Toilet Door.
For years I worked full-time(ish) at quite a large music venue, and inevitably developed a cubicle of choice for a sit-down-wee.

The favoured cubicle was the only cubicle in this particular gents, and had a big blue door. One day I was in there, and happened to have a biro in my pocket - a blue one, but slightly darker than the shade of the door.

I've never been too fond of graffiti but a moment of childish rebellion popped into my mind, and I wrote the phrase on the back of the door, about half way down so as to be perfect eye level for the person on the throne.

You would never have noticed it on another door - it was in small type - but when sitting down with nothing to stare at except for the back of the door, you would definitely see it. No-one ever commented on it, and every now and again I would forget about it with consequential giggling upon my next visit... but I like to think that it made at least one person laugh.

The phrase?

(Mon 21st Sep 2009, 16:48, More)

» School Projects

Do a project
When I was about 9, our class teacher had prepared something to keep us busy over the Easter holidays. A task that would expand our minds, promote independent thinking and encourage experiment.

Do a project.

Yes, that was the entirety of the brief. No guidance of what a "project" consisted of, no suggested topics... nothing. It took just three words to alleviate the miniscule weight of educational responsibility from her presumably aching shoulders.

Surprisingly, the thought of "doing a project" was actually quite exciting for me at the time - I relished the idea of creating something independently and on a topic of my own choosing... but beyond that I hadn't really thought any further. I was about 9, remember.

Enter to stage - my mother. A teacher (a good teacher) at the same school as I, charged with educating the children a couple of years below me - and seemingly well-versed in the "hands-off" teaching techniques of my form tutor. I didn't realise it at the time, but in the face of such a ridiculous task she took it upon herself to keep me focussed throughout the holiday. If my official teacher wasn't going to give me any direction, then she sure as hell would!

I chose my subject - ornithology - and set about documenting the birds in my garden with my mum's 35mm camera and a pair of binoculars. We bought a bird feeder to help lure them in, and a friend of my Aunt's gave me a small bird house that my dad nailed to the apple tree at the end of the garden.

We went to zoos and parks to snap flamingos and ducks, and everywhere we went I scanned the trees and skies for new additions to the project folder. Having developed all of the photos (in hindsight the very early nurturing of my eye for photography), I almost filled a Bart Simpson ring binder with photos and information of birds local and exotic.

Upon returning to school, it wasn't long before the projects were marked and ready to give back. I remember it vividly - we filed into class, sat down, and saw the projects piled up on the desk at the front. There were four piles in a neat row, left to right. She started at the top right pile with a one-page effort from one of my comrades. I almost laughed at his puny page... how could he even dare show his face?

After a few more projects had been summarised by the "teacher" and handed back, it soon became evident that she was doing them in order - from worst to best (this was still in the days when your report came with a mark for each subject, along with your position within the class). Pleased that I had spotted the pattern, I scanned the piles for Bart... and there he was... bottom left! The last one! I was so excited, and barely contained my glee as the other projects came and went, until it was my turn to bask in the glory of my diligence.

I was delighted - proud, excited and unafraid to show it. I had earned this!

It is only in later years that I think about just how ridiculous the phrase "do a project" is, and when recanting this story to my mother it is amusing to see that she is still fervent in her description of how she took my Easter education upon herself... mainly to give me some direction (I was about 9), but more mainly to show her colleague a thing or two about teaching. I doubt it put a dent in the unwitting form tutor's outrageous confidence, but despite the realisation that I actually could have done fuck all and got away with it... I'm glad it went the other way.
(Mon 17th Aug 2009, 11:54, More)

» Family codes and rituals

Christmas Day with my family is something I very much look forward to every year. My brother and I retreat back to our parents' house where we grew up, and promptly commence a well-deserved bout of lying around enjoying their hospitality (read: fridge full of booze and food). I usually bring back my laptop, PS3, and a crap-load of washing to do, while my brother will bring only his laptop for some decent online poker sessions.

However, these are not the rituals which deserve the most mention. There is one ritual which surmounts them all; one ritual that we partake in without fail, every year.

Over Christmas dinner, the men of the household take a bet... namely: "how long will it take for mum to fall asleep on the sofa after Christmas dinner?"

Years ago we would be guessing somewhere in the region of "1 hour!" or "1 and a half hours!" or "45 minutes!" from someone who had surreptitiously been plying her with alcohol all morning. Unfortunately the variables (mainly age and the increasing affordability of Christmas champers) have now brought this time down to a matter of a few minutes, thus decreasing the margin for error substantially. This year I may even put a bet on her falling asleep at the table, using a leftover spud as a makeshift pillow.

The bet is an honourable one - there is no prize other than the smug sense of a well-deserved win, and there are no sabotage attempts to keep her awake. We just sit quietly watching TV and digesting the turkey 'n spuds, all the while waiting for the beginning stages of her heavy breathing - and the official state of slumber.

At this point the men smile and look at their watches to declare the victor. "YES!" will be the cry from one of us, which startles mother awake and into an embarrassed laugh - there's always an element of annoyance in her being subject to this bet, but she has to laugh as she resigns herself to the futility of staying awake... she just needs a nap.
(Fri 21st Nov 2008, 11:57, More)

» Lies that went on too long

That's not my name
Over the years I’ve done quite a bit of work in music venues, mainly in London but a few festivals here and there too. It started off with bar work but after a few years I moved on to box office stuff – credit card collections, guest list, stuff like that. Here I liaised a lot with security, all of whom knew me from when I had been running around changing beer barrels and cleaning up puke. Perhaps if I had changed fewer barrels I would have dealt with less puke, but I suppose it’s best not to dwell on these things.

Anyway, one of them wasn’t sure of my name, and one day tentatively called me Andy (my name is not Andy). I could tell he was being a bit cautious as he sort of mumbled it, so obviously I did what any normal Englishman would do in this situation - take the bull by the horns and pretend I didn’t quite hear it - therefore missing the opportunity to nip it in the bud.

Unfortunately my mischievous box office colleague cottoned onto this and immediately made a point of blaring out my new name while in front of said security.

“ANDY! Security need some envelopes. Get them some envelopes ANDY!” And so on...

So now he is confident that my name is Andy... and this was about 5 years ago. I still frequent the venue and he still works there, so now I have to answer to the name Andy whenever I’m there, hoping he doesn’t say it in front of anyone else who actually does know my name. Miraculously the staff who still remain from my box office days all seem to have a nickname for me, so the lie has been maintained successfully thus far.

Do you know how hard it is to answer someone who calls you a different name? Especially when you see them infrequently! There’s a bloody reason why undercover cops in movies keep the same first name. I have to admit I do find this situation amusing, but what the hell am I going to do if I get rumbled?! I’VE BEEN ANSWERING TO THE NAME FOR YEARS!
(Tue 13th Mar 2012, 12:22, More)

» Cheap Tat

A couple of summers ago I was working at a load of festivals - long hours, good pay, free bands and hotels right next to the festival sites. We'd bought booze to consume while in the hotel but a few minutes before jumping in the van from London I realised that we didn't have a corkscrew. Knowing the area, I immediately shunned suggestions of picking one up from a small off-license or pound shop, instead choosing to run around the corner to a more reputable chain of large elastic pound stores.

The corkscrew was 99p, shiny and looked eager to get some action - despite its slight frame and quivering arms. It was a good price though - it'll probably get lost in the festival carnage and as long as it opens a couple of bottles of plonk then its time on this earth will have been fruitful.

Imagine my disappointment: the corkscrew was released from the packaging only to buckle while opening the very first bottle. As I neared that delightful pop of the cork, the frail virgin screw bent to just shy of a 90 degree angle... ashamed and embarrassed that its manhood should fail so catastrophically on its very first outing.

Adding to this awful turn of events was the fact that we had managed to find the only bar in the world that didn't have a corkscrew. Thus the wine went untapped, unlike our wallets at the festival bars.
(Tue 8th Jan 2008, 17:36, More)
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