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» Horrible things I've done to a loved one

My mum...
lost her front two teeth when she was young; she cycled over a football that someone kicked, and unceremoniously flipped over the crossbar and kerb-stomped herself. As such, she has a plate which she can put in which clips onto her palette behind her teeth with two fake front teeth to replace her gap.

This tooth plate is usually left, when not in use, in a glass of water which is meant to keep the plate supple, or something like that. Anyway, it gave me hours of fun as a child to secretly pour things into it and watch her face as the liquid registered on her tongue. A particular favourite was to simply supersaturate the water with salt. It resulted in a response, but my mum loves salt, so it wasn't so funny in the end. I scoured the kitchen for things that I could mix with water that would remain clear. Saccharin was quite a good one, resulting in a painfully sweet flavour. That got a good reaction for a while, but nothing more than a screwed up face and a slap round the head...I wanted more of a spectacle.

The beginning of my eventual downfall came when I tried Tabasco sauce. The resulting chilli-water wasn't so transparent, so I was worried I'd get rumbled. On that day, she was due to go into town on the bus with me and my sister, and we were running super late. The bus stop was outside my house, and I ran out to stall it while the rest followed. We caught it just in time, with my mum popping her teeth in last minute. I had a big grin on my face, and I saw the chilli-heatwave slowly make itself apparent, as I stood in the doorway of the bus. As my mum finally ran to me, her face was screwing up, and her eyes were watering as she looked at me with the angriest stare. She just about bought the tickets from the driver and sat down before pulling the plate out and smacking me across the head. I didn't care, as I had been doubled over laughing since we stepped out the door. The whole rest of the day I watched her put in the plate in order to converse with shopspeople, red-faced, then come back to us, remove it, take a swig of Cola for the spice, and shout at me for being an idiot.

This event still hadn't quenched my thirst for mischief, and a few weeks later I planned my ultimate prank. The piece de resistance of fake-tooth guerilla warfare. I considered a few things...soap? No...that was too much...or was it? I even thought bleach at one point (being too young to really know that it was *that* bad), but I knew it smelt too strongly. I'd get caught for sure. While still planning, I did a small prank just to tide myself over, which inadvertently became the big one...the MOAP (mother of all pranks).

I replaced the water with white vinegar. Again, it smelt quite bad, but just the concept was making me laugh; thinking of my mum's face was funny enough. The teeth remained in the glass for the rest of the afternoon untouched...and then through the night...I woke up and had completely forgotten about it until I heard my mum shout, "What the HELL?!"

I ran into the kitchen smirking to catch my mum's face as the vinegar filled her mouth, but instead she stood there...angry and toothless. In one hand was a cup of opaque brown liquid, and a mangled lump of plastic attached two black tooth-shaped blobs in the other. She sniffed the glass, and shouted, "VINEGAR? You little shit!"

Alas, is didn't end well for me (dissolving a hundred pounds worth of orthodontic craftsmanship in vinegar rarely does). I bought myself a few seconds by pulling a chair over behind me as I fled, and I was spared a further few seconds as my mum went through the drawers to find a suitably hefty wooden spoon to hit me with...but the punishment was inevitable.
(Fri 17th Jun 2011, 13:36, More)

» Road Trip

Best way to move a barcalounger...
A fair few months ago now my friend moved out of his flat in Paddington, London to spend some time in America. He was originally from Spain and didn't have family here with which to store the crap he'd accumulated, so instead of putting it into storage, he just decided to flog it all on Gumtree. Before doing so, however, he decided to ask around the office if we wanted anything to save him listing everything online. One thing certainly took my eye - his reclining chair. The kind of barcalounger/la-z-boy in Friends. I foolishly agreed to take it, and even paid him that day, without even thinking about how I would get it all the way across and down to Clapham.

My crude solution was to borrow a cart-like contraption from work, wheel it all the way to Paddington, pick up the chair and wheel it back. Simple. I told my housemates the idea, and they decided we could make a day of it. Take a little break in Hyde Park, few beers/ciders, carry on down through Kensington, another break in Battersea Park, then down to Clapham. Maybe a break in Clapham Common too before the three-flight ascent to our flat.

The plan sounded fantastic, until we went to work to pick up the trolley/cart thing. Firstly it was blocked in behind a load of bikes, and lifting it over got our hands covered in axle grease. Not the best start. As we started pulling it along, the lack of suspension in any form caused it to rattle uneasily on the flattest of surfaces. This wasn't going to be as easy as I'd hoped.

As it bumped along, I realised what absolute cunts Londoners can be. No-one ever gave way to us on the pavement. It was a Saturday, and people were still walking like they were late for a meeting. It was about this time we stopped off at Saino's for the first of our alcoholic purchases. Getting through Hyde Park on the way up was quite pleasant in fact, maybe the alcohol had kicked in, or there weren't so many dicks about. We all perched on the trolley, and let it crawl slowly down the minor decline while quoting from pirate films, and finishing our supplies. We'd run dry halfway through Hyde Park, followed by that line from Pirates of the Caribbean about the rum being gone...garrrr!!!

Eventually we got to my friend's house, and picked up the bounty, and restocked our hold with precious alcohol. Yar! We felt like real pirates now! We took it in turns sitting on the barcalounger at the helm as 'captain' of the 'ship' while the rest of us pulled the cart along singing sea shanties. More specifically, 'Drunken Sailor' over and over again. We got strange looks through Hyde Park, and through most of Kensington as four drunk, 20-somethings pushed a reclining chair through the richest part of London pretending to be pirates. It didn't help that we were being taught the lyrics to 'Good Ship Venus' by one of my housemates, which is a particularly fruity number. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLotX3HE-4c)

As we sailed south through Battersea, we found more favourable sea mates. A few homeless/mentally unstable people followed us briefly and helped us push, which was greatly welcomed. With a headwind, we made great progress. We missed Battersea Park by being too drunk to remember we vaguely planned to stop there, and before long we'd entered the north border of Clapham Common. Nearly home...

Alas...the seas around Clapham are not friendly waters - well that's what we'd convinced ourselves. It gets a bit fuzzy here, but my kiwi crew member had reminded me that Aussies and Saffers were commonplace here, and that they would try and steal our barcalounger at any cost, as they loved sitting down.

We wheeled the cart slowly through the common, weary of antipodal types. Our plan was to pretend to be Australian in the event of seeing Australians, and hopefully we'd blend in. It was seamless. Our Aussie accents were spot on! If anyone was listening to us they would have been entirely convinced that we were going to put another shrimp on our barbecue.

After another break we picked up final supplies, and delivered the swag to our flat. No one really remembers carrying the chair up the stairs, and in the morning the pristine cream chair was covered in horrible muddy/greasy hand marks, as were some walls.

In conclusion, this is a sound method to move a large item of furniture in theory. Recommendations would be to cut down on the drink, and try not to watch an influential movie about pirates/samurai/marines in the month leading up the the move.
(Fri 15th Jul 2011, 14:32, More)

» Caught!

It wasn't me, but a stranger on an old rickety bus in Spain...
that I was riding in with my friend. We were going through quite a dry, rural area, with dusty roads and some of the passengers holding chickens on their laps. You know the sort of thing.

One Spaniard was sat at the back chatting on his phone the whole way, really loudly, laughing and guffawing like a mentalist, and saying pretty much all of the Spanish swear words I knew at the time in every sentence. I could see all the old, grey haired wrinklies pulling the kind of frowns that could kill a small squirrel at 50 paces, and all the parents covering the ears of their young'uns. I couldn't even understand what he was saying, and he was pissing me off. Needless to say, he wasn't very popular with anyone on the bus.

About an hour into the journey, one of the old biddies at the front clasped her chest and keeled over. The bus driver stopped, and people crowded round to help. It was that point the driver asked if anyone had a phone. Considering that we were in the middle of nowhere, and this being a few years back, hardly anyone did. My friend took his out of his pocket, as did I, to find that we didn't have any reception. In fact, the handful of people on the bus who had phones had zero reception.

All eyes then looked to the back of the bus, where our noisy little friend was still nattering away, and hadn't even noticed that we'd stopped at all. The bus driver went over to ask him to use his phone to get help, where he sheepishly looked down the bus to find half the people staring at him, while the other half were attending to the suffering granny, before realising there was a problem.

He handed the phone over to reveal he didn't have any reception either...and had been conducting a conversation between himself and a 'friend' for seemingly the entire journey.
(Tue 8th Jun 2010, 18:06, More)

» Babysitters

One one summer holiday when I was between terms at uni...
I got a job for my mum's boss's daughter's husband (got that?) mowing a lawn. I thought this would be an easy few quid, so I accepted.

Unfortunately, the lawn I was supposed to mow was, without exaggeration, steeper than 45 degrees to the horizontal, and covered in clumps and bumps. I was then shown the lawnmower, which was in fact a petrol-driven hovermower, and instructed to tie a piece of rope around the handle, stand at the top of the hill, and slide the mower down and pull it back up. Also, I had to loop the rope round the safety lever to make sure the engine stayed running. Needless to say I was a little hesitant, but I persevered.

A little after 10 minutes from starting, my mum's boss's daughter came out to check on me, before asking if I wouldn't mind looking after her two young kids while she went to the shops. I couldn't really say no, and hoped they'd just sit inside playing. Instead, they decided to run around playing games in the garden, below the slope. I repeatedly told them to play somewhere else, and they did...for all of a minute...before playing exactly where they were before. On numerous occasions the lawnmower flipped over, and sat upside-down on the floor with the mighty metal blade flailing wildly, which just enticed the kids. They started throwing their toys, sticks and windfall apples on the spinning disc while I desperately scrambled down the slope while telling them to get the hell away from it.

Furthermore, I found myself swearing uncontrollably whenever the mower got stuck, or was about to flip over, which the kids delightedly repeated in my same, exasperated tone.

Over two hours later, I'd finished. Almost every toy that was throwable was lying in shreds on the lawn, alongside splinters of twigs and mouldy apple smoosh. The kids were running round thumping each other calling each other 'fuckers', and I was nearly collapsed from a combination of stress, exhaustion and likely heat stroke. I wandered into the house wondering how the kid's mother could have taken so long at the shops, to find she'd finished long over an hour ago, and was enjoying 'a little bit of piece and quiet' while I was out 'playing' with the kids.
(Thu 28th Oct 2010, 18:43, More)

» Conspicuous Consumption

Twasn't but a month ago...
that I attended a conference in Paris. It was the first day and I'd just presented earlier just after lunch; Needless to say I was feeling pretty fecking chilled out after the months of work leading up to it.

The evening event was a meal on a boat going up and down the Seine, and I sat on the end of a long table with my three colleagues and a bunch of strangers from the conference that I'd just met. I knew it was off to a good start when the guy next to me slid his glass of wine over to me.

"You don't want that?" I enquired.

"Oh...no. I don't drink. Please. Take." He replied in slightly broken English. It turned out he was Iranian, and didn't drink on religious grounds. For some reason he was too polite to decline a refilling, or to move the glass away from him, and it seems I was too kind (read: stupid) to refuse more drink.

Then the starter came - Foie Gras. Starving, I polished mine off smartish. Mid-munching, my Singaporean friend then turned to me and asked what the starter was. I told him is was a goose liver. He remarked on the colour, and I then explained in great detail the cruel and laborious task of overfeeding a goose to make foie gras. He looked a little uneasy, but tried it.

About five minutes in, I got a tap on the shoulder from the Iranian.

"Hello...please? Would you like?" He said, offering me his starter. He'd eaten half his bread roll, and that's it.

I looked at the plate. "Are you sure you don't want it?"

"No," he replied, patting his tummy, "I'm not good with new things."

Not one to turn down food, I snaffled myself another plateful of goose innards. The Singaporean, noticing my ability to eat offal, offered me his, as he wasn't too keen on it. He also offered me his glass of sparkling rosé, as he didn't like the bubbles.

Half an hour in, the boat hadn't even left the docking, and I was well on my way to some horrible Mr. Creosote-eqsue explosion. I thought it wise to pace myself. This was a marathon...not a sprint. I took the set-menu listing, and enquired with the Iranian what he liked to eat. I was genuinely interested, and also I wanted to gauge how much of the remaining meal he'd eat. Main course - Sea Bass. It turns out he loved fish. This was good, as I didn't want the poor guy to starve, and I didn't want to be sick on the first day of the conference. We chatted about Iran, and his travels through Europe, and he showed me pictures of himself and his family. He was a bloody nice guy, as well as the perfect person to sit next to at a French banquet.

The main course passed smoothly, with nothing but wine passed to me.

Then pudding - some ice-cream, meringue and strawberry...thing. Like Eton mess or some such. It was topped, rather banally, with a cherry. Not just any cherry though...presumably soaked in paraffin...the thing tasted like I'd frenched a petrol-pump. Unfortunately, it was the first thing my Iranian friend tasted. He spat it out immediately, and pushed the plate away.

"It's not all alcohol, just that cherry!" I assured him.

"No...it's good. I am full. Please. Take." He said offering me his pudding. I'd barely started mine, so I declined...

Well...until I'd finished mine at least. What the hell! I didn't have to be up in the morning. Well...not really. I could miss the first few talks. What's an additional pudding going to do? It's not like I'm on a diet. I'll just not eat the next day. It's cool...it's just a one-off...

The next morning I woke at 10am, unaware of how I got back to the hotel, feeling like I'd already eaten two hearty breakfasts. Dear God...I've never eaten like that in my life...I felt like a Mediaeval King...a pregnant one...
(Thu 28th Jul 2011, 19:17, More)
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