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» That's me on TV!

Da-duh, da-duh, da-duh-la-da..... BONG!
I haven't previously mentioned this on here (which is surprising - for some reason, I end up telling most people I meet), but a few years back, whilst at university, I appeared on Countdown*.

*For any non-UK b3tans, Countdown is a UK game show based on word and number games, mainly anagrams and the like - think spelling tests without the excitement.

The story begins (as all of my posts seem to) with a drunken wager - I bet two friends from my course that I could get on national TV before them. We thought our way through the daytime TV schedule (we were students - this was our lifeblood). Having briefly toyed with the idea of applying for a cameo role as Bouncer's stunt double in Neighbours, I decided on Countdown, whilst my mates settled on Supermarket Sweep*.

*Again, non-UKers - Supermarket Sweep was a gameshow set in, well... a supermarket. Think getting the groceries. In day-glo sweatshirts.

Although I do have a bit of a natural propensity for solving anagrams, this wasn't the main reason for attempting to get on the show. I had actually thought this through a little bit - at the time, I was at university in Leeds, and it was a mere 10-minute walk from my house, down Cardigan Road to the Countdown studio.

Who says students are lazy?

Anyway, I applied to the show, got called in for an audition... and then didn't hear anything for months. I decided that I probably hadn't been successful, and when Supermarket Sweep got cancelled (with my mates' application still outstanding), all thoughts of the bet left my mind.

Left my mind, that is, until a grey morning in the following November, when the phone disturbed my hungover sleep at about 10.30am;


"Hi, is that TheMagicDwarf?"* (They used my real name, but you get the picture)

*muffled grunts*

"Great, this is Lively McHyper*, production assistant at Countdown. We've had a cancellation for today's show, and was wondering if you could do us a MASSIVE favour and stand in today?"

*Probably not her actual name. She was Scottish though

"Ermmm... yeah, sure"

"Great! See you in half an hour!"

"Yeah, brillia... HALF AN HOUR?"

"OK, thanks, bye!"

And so I had drunkenly agreed to appear on national TV. Fucksocks. It's fair to say I was in no fit state to appear in MY living room, let alone a couple of million living rooms around the country.

I jumped into a very cold shower, and set off down the road, leaving the sort of note for my housemates I wish I could leave more often:

Gone out for a bit - going for a walk then appearing on national TV in front of millions of people. See you later.

Oh, and can you get some milk?


Memories from before the show are minimal. The only things I can remember is the make-up department worrying that I looked "a bit peaky" (the hangover was in full swing by this point), and leering a bit over mutton-as-lamb merchant Carol Vorderman. Also, when asked for my hobbies (to be used in one of Richard Whiteley's pun-laden intros), I couldn't think of anything else besides going to the pub with my mates. Nothing. As the researcher who had asked me walked off, I'm sure I heard her mutter under her breath: "yeah, it fucking smells like it, too"

As it happened, though, the hangover actually helped my performance on the show - probably taking the edge off any nerves the presence of the cameras might have prompted. A few rounds passed, and I was actually winning. I even got confident enough to throw a little wink to the camera when I got an 8-letter word (PAINTERS. My best mate's surname is Painter, and when he watched the show he thought the wink was for him. I hadn't even made the connection)

The PAINTERS round had almost ended in disaster - with 2 seconds left the only word I had was PENIS - 5 letters. I feared I was going to have to use the line "I've only got a small one, Richard" (fnarr, fnarr)

Towards the end of the show I was even trying to chat up Carol Vorderman. I had forgotten this until I saw it back on TV, but on one numbers round, I asked her to "give me two big ones from the top, and whatever you like from down below" (fnarrs all round again)

At the end of the show, I had somehow dragged my drunken shambolic arse across the finishing line and had won. This meant I had to do it all again, but this time sober. I went back to the studios a few days later (they film a week's worth of shows in a day, but my first show was aired on a Friday), and actually won two more shows before being eventually defeated by a particularly self-satisfied Geordie bloke (obviously the bitterness has passed. Sort of)

Edited highlights of the three other shows follow:

1. The producer coming to tell "Dictionary Corner" guest Pam Ayers that she should confer in a quieter voice, after I got the same word that they did 3 rounds in a row (never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, me)

2. Carol Vorderman: "Do you want two big ones again, TMD?"
TMD: "Like you wouldn't believe"
(That got cut from the show in the end, I was laughing too much)

3. Me, upon losing: "Thanks, I've had a lovely day" (attempting to use the classic gameshow loser's catchphrase)
Richard Whiteley, attempting to maintain the facade of a live show:
"Well, you've had a lovely four days!"
Me: "Yeah sure, ermm... whatever" (articulate to the last)

So, 3 victories on a national gameshow. Prizes galore and riches beyond my wildest dreams, you may think? Well, you'd be wrong. There was a t-shirt, mug, coaster, board game, electronic game and pen, all proudly bearing the Countdown insignia. There was also a big dictionary, and to top it all off, a Countdown teapot (which actually made a Christmas present for my Nan - I was a skint student, novelty freebies were the best I could do).

However, the real perks from victory and the minor celebrity it brought came when the shows were finally aired. I had already joked with my mates about the certain increase in sex appeal that my new-found stardom would bring, only to be told that the only action I would be getting would be with the blue-rinse brigade.

So you could imagine my delight and surprise when - out on town drinking to celebrate the airing of my third and final victory, and therefore my last day as "reigning champion" - I was accosted in a city centre bar by a shrieking Yorkshirewoman (who I later found to be called Lisa) and the words I'd been waiting to hear: "I recognise you off the telly"

Drinks were bought, studio anecdotes (mainly fictional) were regaled and, as they tend to in QOTW, one thing led to another. Before you could say 'improbable pulling technique', I was creeping upstairs in a mysterious house on the outskirts of Bradford, heeding Lisa's warnings to "keep the fooking noise down".

I had noticed a few children's toys on the way upstairs, and also that Lisa was, I reckoned, a few years older than me (for I was 19 at the time).

"Lisa, these toys - do they belong to your kid?"

"Nope, they're my housemates kids, don't worry - I've not got any nippers"

That question seemingly settled, we retired to her room and made wild, passionate love until the sun rose into the beautiful Yorkshire sky.

Well, either that or I drunkenly fumbled with her top before managing what could at best be described as a semi lob-on, and engaged in half an hour of an exercise best compared with trying to get toothpaste back in the tube.

When I awoke in the morning, I was gingerly redressing, and couldn't help but notice that Lisa looked a little older in the morning light than she had in the bar and taxi the night before. Too much of a gentleman(?) to ask her age outright, I tried to gauge from other factors:

"Lisa, how old's your housemate?"

"Erm, seventeen"

"Really? How old's her kid then?"

"18 months, she was 16 when she had him. Same as I was when I had her. I probably should have mentioned last night, but... my housemate? She's actually my daughter"

Countdown - Grannies love it. Even 34-year-old ones.
(Thu 11th Jun 2009, 19:15, More)

» Buses

With festival season getting fully underway this weekend, it's reminded me of an appropriate tale from yesteryear.

~~~~ wavy lines, about 4 years' worth, I reckon ~~~~

I'd got myself tickets to T in The Park, and having paid hideously over the odds through an online tout (scum of the Earth - don't get me started on those wankers), you can imagine my delight when my twunt of a boss told me that - due to "staffing shortages" (one other person with an unrelated job was off) - I wouldn't be able to get the time off.

This bloke was a monumental fuckstick of the highest order, and was basically just doing his usual thing of going out of his way to make other people's life worse, at no gain to himself.

Now, I was never that keen on the job anyway, so I thought to myself "fuck it, even if he knows I'm on a sickie he's not going to fire me just for that", and duly put on my best gravelly throat and called in sick on the Thursday, as we were making our way North of the border.

The weekend came and went in spectacular fashion - if you've never been to T in The Park, you should definitely try, the Scots know how to have a good time. We drove home on the Sunday night/Monday morning, meaning that when my alarm went off at 8, I did what seemed natural... and called in sick again.

Strolling into work on the Tuesday morning - having made the necessary preparations (i.e. cutting off my festival wristband, scrubbing the smell of Scottish field from my bodily crevices), I thought all would be fine - my boss might think that I've thrown a sickie, but he couldn't prove anything.

"TMD? Get your good-for-nothing arse in here!" bellowed the aforementioned fuckstick, the minute I set foot on our floor.

I walked in and fought my corner vigorously, explaining that my phone had been off so that "I could rest properly", and that I didn't have a doctor's note as "I was too ill to go", and "didn't think I needed one for only a few days".

"So, you were really ill, then?"

"Yes, and I resent the accusation that I wasn't"

At which point my boss leaned back, grabbed a remote, and pointed it at the TV in his office...

...revealing a video from the weekend's BBC coverage of the festival, showing me pissed up and lairy, sat astride my friend's shoulders singing along and proudly holding a banner with the words "My boss thinks I'm ill... what a cunt".

"I'll get my coat", quoth I.

~~~~ wavy lines bringing us back to the modern day ~~~~

"That's all well and good, TMD, but what the jiggery fuck has this got to do with buses", I hear you ask?

Well, I waited ages for a relevant QOTW in which to tell this story, then three came along together.

(Thu 25th Jun 2009, 14:24, More)

» Banks

I travel with work
and have to submit my bank statements with my expense claims (to prove the exchange rate I got when I'm claiming back the money I've spent overseas).

My friends know this, and so have taken to leaving little notes on my account for the finance team who review my claims to find, by depositing (very small) amounts into my account with inappropriate and/or offensive payment references.

Highlights so far include 20p paid in by one friend, ostensibly for a "Colossal Dildo", 10p for "Bum Fun", and a £1 total deposit (split over 10 instalments of 10p each), which explained in detail across the 10 payment references that the £1 was a loyalty discount from a local establishment that employed ladies "of ill repute" specialising in S&M - I believe he referred to it as a "frequent flayer discount".
(Thu 23rd Jul 2009, 11:13, More)

» Gambling

How I Met Monty
Stupid bets, you say? I've made a few of 'em. Most of these come about drunkenly between me and my friends, when my decision-making prowess (not great at the best of times) dwindles to Corbett-esque proportions.

The majority of these are normally settled through a text to our good friends at the Texperts, whose word is taken as gospel in drunken disputes, despite them having been subsequently proven wrong on numerous occasions.

The frequency of these bets has led to our group developing standard betting units; bets are not deemed valid unless they are for:

a) 80p (which must be referred to as "point eight of a sheet" for the bet to count);
b) A pie (filling and supplier decided at victor's discretion); or
c) £300

These units have been carefully developed over time, and no-one is really sure of the origins of most of them. The one time an exception was allowed was when I lost my skeleton in a bet regarding our local takeaway.

*makes mental note to update will accordingly*

Anywho, the story begins last summer in Dublin. When we're abroad we don't just like to do the usual sightseeing rubbish, we tend to try to immerse ourselves fully in the local culture. So, being Dublin, we'd decided to spend the entire weekend in the pub.
Usual apologies for casual racism

On the Saturday, we were working our way around the windy streets, before settling in a lovely little establishment called the Hairy Lemon (like my Grand National bets, I like to choose my pubs entirely based on how funny their name is). Imagine my delight to walk inside and find live coverage of a pre-season game of my footy team.

The conversation inevitably turned to football, and the upcoming season. Alcohol levels had reached the point where our confidence in our respective teams' chances for the forthcoming season had crossed from the realms of realism, sashayed obnoxiously through optimism, before settling into blind faith.

For those interested in football, I'm a Villa fan, whereas my friends support Bolton and Sunderland respectively - my blind faith was marginally saner.

Inevitably, drunken machismo took over, and the Boltonian (I shall call him Scott, for that is almost his name) and I were betting on whose team would finish higher in the forthcoming season. I was quite hungry by this point, and so started the betting reasonably, at a pie.

"Fook that, sunshine - it's three hundred or nowt".

With 8 pints of Dublin's finest inside me, and - albeit to a lesser extent - with logic on my side, I accepted.

Waking the next day to the realisation that the odds were stacked in my favour, I offered Scott the choice of either rescinding the bet, or lowering the stakes. However, his machismo hadn't left the same door by which his hangover entered, and he refused, letting me know I was "not getting away with it that easy, mate".

The season progressed, and my team built a comfortable lead, to the point where I stopped worrying about that bet, and started making other bets (all to be settled by the Texperts). I won't go into too much detail about those, but the findings can be summarised as:

- Oasis' The Masterplan does count as a studio album
- penguins grow to a maximum of 3 feet tall, NOT 6 feet (I lost that one); and
- a badger would win a fight with a dwarf, unless the dwarf had a weapon

We had always said that the football bet would be paid up in full when it became mathematically certain. Despite a prolonged attempt by my team to throw away the lead, this moment came when I was away from home on a business trip.

Obviously, I took the opportunity to ring home and celebrate graciously. I think I probably pushed it a bit far by demanding the money in crisp £5 notes - "it'll look like more that way". How wrong I was...

A week or so later, I get back from a (heavily delayed) flight at 7 in the morning, and walk into my room. Expecting nothing more than maybe some post and my beautiful, comfortable bed, I was instead greeted by...

A 6-foot penguin, literally pissing money on my floor.

*rubs eyes, squints a bit*

Actually, it was a 6-foot cardboard cutout of a penguin, pissing 1p coins onto my floor. As a way of gaining revenge for losing the bet, Scott had decided to pay me in 1p coins (30,000 of the fuckers), as "it'll look like more that way".

The 6-foot penguin (with penny-pissing genitalia attached) were simply an added extra "for the aesthetics".

A couple of weeks on, and there's still 30,000 1p coins sitting on my floor. I've counted £50 of them into bags, but I think it's going to take the best part of the summer to count them all.

The penguin - which has since been christened Monty - now stands in the corner of my room, as an eternal reminder that when gambling, even when you win, you sometimes lose.

That said, I reckon I've got a sound basis to argue my point on my earlier penguin bet. Now, what pie to choose...

PS If you look at the replies (and - more pertinently - if I can get it to work), you can meet Monty too...
(Thu 7th May 2009, 13:06, More)

» Schadenfreude

Karma Police
The M69. You'd think from being numerically blessed with the most mutually generous of sexual positions, it would be a motorway that couldn't fail to take you to a happy place. Well, you'd be wrong - in one direction it takes you to Leicester, and in the other it takes you to Coventry.

I can only imagine that when the motorway was first opened, the inhabitants of both cities flocked onto it, desperate to escape for a better life elsewhere, only to end up bitterly disappointed at the other end. It's the road that proves that the grass isn't always greener on the other side.

Anyhow, the one benefit of having a road with no enticing destinations is that it's usually quite traffic-free, allowing for some speedy East-West Midlands migration.

Usually, that is, except for the one day you want to get somewhere. Back when I worked in Birmingham, one day I needed urgently to get to a client in Leicester (why the fuck anyone would urgently need to get to Leicester is unfortunately lost in the haze of time now). I was therefore disappointed to see queues of traffic as I joined the M69. I can only assume the "M" on the sign was obscured, and everyone was blindly following a promise of mutual oral satisfaction.

Evenutally, the traffic changed from a total standstill to gradual movement. This should have improved things, but it actually just played into the hands of the true cunts of the motorway - lane-weavers.

You know the sort - the dicks who believe that their journey has higher priority over those of everyone around them, and so will happily cut you up with inches to spare, in order to get them to their destination two seconds earlier. I'm sure there's a special place in hell reserved for them, just between people who ruin the endings of films you haven't seen yet and whoever was responsible for commissioning Horne & Corden.

After about five of these twunts had swerved across the front of me, getting closer and closer to the bumper of my car, I was starting to get a bit pissed off, so when the traffic started to pick up pace, I was happily thinking it was over. At this point, a sixth fuckstick hove into view, seemingly from nowhere, causing me to hit the brakes and give him a blast on the horn.

Had I realised that said fuckstick was an undercover policeman, I probably wouldn't have been quite as vociferous in my reaction. I didn't realise, however, until he pulled across into the next lane, slowed down until I was level with him, and then showed me his warrant card and beckoned towards the hard shoulder with a look of pure smug satisfaction on his face.

Thankfully, that look was quickly wiped off his face. Whilst concentrating on searching for his warrant card and looking smugly sideways, he failed to notice that the traffic in his lane had come to a stop, and he casually drove slowly into the car in front of him.

Laugh? I almost shat a kidney.
(Fri 18th Dec 2009, 10:46, More)
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