Monday, 30 May 2011

The One About the Fencing (June 2004)

So Mr T says to me he needs a hand getting new fencing from B&Q today. Fair enough I thought and off we go in the van to Purley Way.

Now I'm a really nervous passenger in a car since I was involved in an accident a few years back so not a great car partner on busy roads. Needless to say Purley Way was like Whacky Races as per usual and after a couple of near misses and cut-ups the old palms are sweating and the colour is draining from my face. Not helped by the fact that Mr T is effing and blinding at everyone and it's starting to feel like I'm in that runaway truck scene from Teminator 3.

We finally get to B&Q and I escape from the van. Breathing returns to normal by the time we enter the corrugated kingdom. Wandered around aimlessly for about ten minutes before approaching a B&Q assistant in ill-fitting black shorts exposing his blue legs. The chirpy chappy tells us I need to go to aisle 46 for a clothes airer and mate should go outside for fencing.

We go our seperate ways and forget to arrange a meeting place.....of course. Needless to say we spend the next half hour playing hide and seek up down the aisles. I finally bump into him by kitchen sinks and he's sweating buckets after dragging the fencing around the store looking for me. I get one of those 'where the hell have you been' looks. I decide it's best not to get into a barney and just smile and help him drag the trolley up to the checkout.

As we approach the van my heart sinks. I'm looking at the size of the fencing and thinking 'this lot is never gonna fit in there'. Mr T sees the panic on my face and tries to comfort me by saying 'Don't worry - we're gonna put it on the roof'.

OK so I'm thinking how the hell are we gonna fix this lot to the roof? He must have a plan.

We lift the 6 peices of fencing (6' square BTW) on to the roof of the van after much puffing and blowing and three splinters.

Mr T then produces an ancient washing line that looks as if it would snap under the weight of a pair of wet jeans and we proceed to lash the timber mass to the roof. My stress levels are rising again at the prospect of driving home with this lot wobbling around up there.

We start off on the journey home and after the 6th roundabout there is definitely something stirring above and a quick look back reveals the washing line is sagging. It's at this point we hit the busy road again and we're propelled onto the Purley Way with about a ton of fencing dancing on the roof.

I'm now visibly shaking and Mr T says 'Don't worry. It'll be fine'. The words had just left his mouth when a bloke on a motorbike pulls alongside waving frantically. I think I'm having a seizure. Mr T almost doesn't see the traffic lights changing and slams on the brakes. I grip the dashboard and shut my eyes. We're OK it's still there.

The motorcyclist is alongside again and shouting at us. The washing line is unravelling and trailing behind the van. I'm expecting Mr T to pull up and tighten the line. Instead he just waves back and starts humming the theme tune from Thunderbirds. I'm now fighting back tears of terror and too stressed to say anything. I just sit there with eyes closed and buttocks clenched thinking of ways to kill Mr T and dispose of the body.

I think he was beginning to panic too by this stage and we slowed to a snail pace for the remainder of the journey. Finally got home with the fencing in tact and blood pressure stabilising.

'That was fun' he says!

I've just finished putting his severed limbs in black bin bags and off down the local dump now!

Sunday, 29 May 2011

The One About the Trip to Liverpool (Oct 2007)

Another trip to Liverpool. I wonder what new treats lay in store on my Virgin voyage to the City of Culture. I should have seen the warning signs when I got a Polish cab driver who didn't know where East Croydon station was. He'd only been in the country for 3 days. The gangly Pole had bloodshot eyes and smelled of paint. He had a strange hairline on his neck. It looked like he'd had a haircut at sea during a typhoon. Can you get a boat from Poland to Dover?

He probably got here a lot faster than it took me to get up to Liverpool on that Sunday. Six and a half bloody hours it took. I think we went via Dundee! I wouldn't have minded really. I had a load of magazines and 12 hours of Podcasts to catch up on. Everything was quite peaceful as we eased gently through The Chilterns. However just as I was getting the hang of my new Bluetooth headphones the tranquility was shattered. We were invaded by a group of Eastern European fruit pickers who piled on at Milton Keynes Central. I've never seen such bright and colourful chunky knits since Wincey Willis left GMTV.

The podcasts almost blotted out the noise of the chattering Poles and I was just getting into the chill zone again when this woman with a glass eye and wearing what looked like a tambourine on her head started singing.

All this and the bloody shop was shut for stocktaking so I couldn't even have a stiff drink to calm my increasingly taught nerves.

I don't know what happened next but as we approached Crewe the whole lot of them went quiet and fell asleep. I've heard that Crewe is a really dull place but never seen it have such a dramatic affect on humans before. Crewe did the business and we had peace and blissful quiet for the rest of the trek North.

Arrived at my hotel feeling slightly weary with my jeans slipping down my arse. I'd forgotten to bring a belt. Thank God I had my nice Abercrombie & Fitch pants on!

I struggled up to my room with my trolley case, man bag, steam iron and ironing board. Every bloody door had a security lock on it and I had to drop the ironing board and iron to stick the stupid card in the slot. I thought I'd be clever and put the key card in my mouth as I made my way to my room. I was breathing hard now and had a bead of sweat tickling my left cheek as I clattered along the corridor.

At last I reached my room and bent down to stick the card in the door. The red light came on. Pulled it out with my teeth and tried again. Red. I was now pushing it in and out with my head bobbing up and down at the lock. Red, Red, Red. I was getting pissed off now and dropped the iron. I tried to catch it but lost my grip on the ironing board. I went with the momentum as it fell and stumbled back on top of my trolley case. Two old American women who were passing helped me up and it was then I realised that my jeans were now round my knees! I think I made their evening as I couldn't get rid of them as they tried to help me, my luggage and my A&F undies into the room.

I was too knackered to go out for dinner so I ordered room service. A spotty youth delivered a pizza that looked like it had been zapped by a death ray from the planet Mongo. To accompany this cheesy cow pat I had a dirty glass of Shiraz that tasted like boiled iron filings.

I crashed out on my bed to watch Michael Palin going round Europe. I'm sure I recognised a couple of people from the journey to Liverpool. I must have drifted off to sleep but was woken up by mobile ringing. I got up with a start and slammed my foot into the leg of the bed. As I hopped around the room swearing into my phone I realised I'd ripped part of my nail off and there was blood pouring from my little toe. I went to bed with my foot wrapped in an M&S napkin and a blood stained sock.

The journey home was pretty boring by my standards and my toe had recovered by the following weekend. The bruising had gone down just in time for me to squeeze into my new Paul Smith shoes for my mates birthday party.

There was six of us getting ready for the party at my place. It smelled like the House of Fraser perfumery department and there was lots of whooping and dancing around to 12" Hits of the 80s. We all agreed that A Flock of Seagulls were shit. As usual, the cab was late but we finally piled out and into a grey people carrier that stank of kebabs and ashtrays.

I told the driver where we were going. He looked at me blankly. Tapped his Tom Tom and this robot voice started giving him directions in Polish. Half an hour later we were on the M25. We shouldn't have been.............

Friday, 27 May 2011

The One About the Crooked Hotel (Sept 2006)

Friday and panic is setting in. I was frantically cleaning the estate as Mr T was returning from two weeks in Greece. I'm really not a lazy sod but a fortnight of dog sick and withering houseplants have taken their toll and generic dusting and laundry have taken a back seat

Half way up the hall, the Dyson finds a USB lead and decides to commit hoover hari-kari. It screams loudly before wheezing to a stand-still, with one careful owner stood there in a blue sarong looking flushed. I dunno what it is with household appliances. They must hate me. It's only been three weeks since I wrote off the VAX carpet cleaner. Got a bit too close to the stairs and it plunged to it's death down two flights to the basement. It was a bit like a car stunt on Emmerdale only more realistic.

I only have three hours left and nothing but a drawer full of Sainsbury's anti-bacterial wipes to whip this place into shape before I set off on my clubbing weekend. I used up four packs but the carpets and tiles came up a treat. The whole house smelled like Lemon Toilet Duck. Better than pooch puke and peanuts I guess.

Packed my trolley case, ordered the cab and headed off to the South Coast again to meet up with my mates. I'm expecting to look like Michael Foot after running a marathon by Sunday.

The hotel was something I wasn't expecting. It's in a lovely grand Georgian Square in Brighton but as the cab turned the corner I spotted a frenzy of scaffolding and just knew that it was crawling all over our hotel.

I stood ringing the doorbell on a damp maroon carpet with my heart sinking into my scrotum. As I peered through the greying glass I could see the interior decor was like a 1970's funeral parlour, only less tasteful.

Eventually a skinny bloke in a polyester suit from Mr ByRite poked his head round from next door. 'Did you not read the notice'? he sighed, pointing at a card the size of a fag packet stuck to the inside door at knee height. Plese knock next door it said. Yes it said Plese. That's not a typo!

I hauled my case up to reception. Well I say reception but it was really just an airing cupboard with a laptop. It was at this point I noticed the cracks in the walls and part of the ceiling bearing down on us like an Airtex ice flow. I imagined Charlton Heston leaping through the bay window to rescue me during the next after-shock. Skinny bloke was actually quite friendly and helpful and gave me a cheery smile as I headed up the stairs to my room to wait for my mates to arrive.

Up and up I went as the stairs got smaller and leaned further over to the left. The banister wasn't looking very solid either so I'm now worried about toppling over and landing up with a squished neck on the maroon marshland below.

I made it to my room. Threw open the door only to be confronted by an avacado toilet on a 32 degree slope! More en-chute than en-suite. There was another door on the other side of the toilet that was hanging off one hinges due to the subsidence. I edged across sloping floor and opened the door to reveal the place I would be staying for the weekend.

To say it was small and cramped would be like saying Wayne Rooney is not a good role model for young Hobbits. The photo here doesn't really do it justice but I think you'll get a feel for my disappointment. I'm sure the inmates of Wormwood Scrubs would be having rooftop demonstrations if they were moved here. Does anyone care about my human rights?

The tiny built-in wardrobe had been cut in half and the right hand section converted (botched) into a shower. I haven't seen such a small shower since the time when I was persuaded to try a caravan holiday on the Isle of Wight during Scout week. Every morning we were knocked up early and often by relentless, spotty youths asking if we wanted anything done for a pound. A 'bob' was a fecking shilling in my day but I guess that's inflation for you.

I finally managed to lift my case, sideways, into the room but took out the bedside lamp on the way in with the retractable handle. As I collapsed onto the Baby Prince size bed my mobile started ringing. As I swung round to answer it my knees hit the dressing table and my leg was gouged by a lethal looking drawer handle. I drop-kicked my chipboard nemesis and the mini kettle fell off the shelf and soaked my new Paul Smith shoes.

Travel Lodge....all is forgiven.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

The One About IKEA (April 2007)

I was happily listening to Iain Lee on LBC when Mr T asks if I'd like to go for a spin to IKEA. My immediate response was 'F'off. I'd rather stick my testicles in a juice machine'. After a bit of grovelling I relented, as usual, and pulled on some combats and a beanie hat and headed off to the Croydon Twin Towers. We left Iain chatting to some demented OAP from Watford.

Mr T had to get a refund for some bits of laminated chip board that were attempting to pass themselves off as kitchen cupboard doors. He'd bought them earlier for the kitchen area at his work and somehow managed to pick up the wrong doors and fittings. It's easy done in that breeze block warehouse when faced with a sea of cardboard boxes and bar codes.

Even as we approached the main entrance I could feel my chest tightening. By the time I stepped onto the escalators I was hyper-ventilating and my ankles swelled up like a pregnant rhino. The dizziness hit as we glided past a display of red, yellow and green plastic that was posing as a home office.

I sat down at the edge of the restaurant and composed myself whilst two fat women in leggins and flip flops, spoon-fed Swedish meatballs to their equally rotund children. Breathing and heart rate stabilised we ventured off into the rainbow maze.

We tried to be clever and found what we thought was a shortcut through to Kitchens but landed up back at the restaurant, twice. In the end we gave up and just got in line and followed everyone else along the designated path as they scooped up colourful crap into their yellow plastic bags.

At last we got to Kitchens and a lovely IKEA chap with a small afro did something on the computer screen and handed Mr T a little ticket with the number 424 on it. We were ushered off to the Returns department. Afro man told us to 'give it half an hour'. That should have started alarms bells ringing but by now we were suckered into the whole IKEA 'experience' and wandered off to Market Place to while away 30 minutes amongst the candles, ice cube trays and plastic fish slices.

I finally succumbed and picked up 2 packets of voile window drapes (that's net curtains for my straight readers). Mr T nearly became a serious casualty as he was diverted by a teak stained, pine steamer in garden furniture. I managed to prise him away eventually after reminding him that we'd been foraging for 25 minutes and had an appointment in Returns. I now have a thumping headache.

The tills were empty so I parted with my £6.98 very quickly. Left turn into Returns to be greeted by a sea of trolleys and a big digital display flashing the number 401!

40 minutes later and I'm started to get agitated again. My growing anxiety is made worse when a small child decides to whizz round the place on those stupid roller trainers. It was making really annoying sound effects every time it sped by and after about 10 minutes I was planning on hurling an empty tolley at him on his next circuit. I could feel my palms sweating as I gripped the handle and rocked gently on the bench. That kid would have been roadkill if Mr T hadn't interrupted my concentration with an ice cream.

This was only a temporary respite as said kid then decides to stop in front of us and stare while we struggle in vain to prevent the ice cream from dripping all over the floor. Foolishly Mr T decides the best approach is to enter into a dialogue with the brat. The evil child just shrieks, laughs and speeds off after dropping a very smelly fart.

Finally, after an hour, Mr T is called to till number 5. I decided to stay put and fiddle with my voiles while he's being interrogated.

20 minutes later and I'm chewing the skin round my nails. He's now got 3 IKEA staff round his till and they're all fiddling with bits of paper and scowling at the PC screen. It took another half an hour for the 3 of them to work out what the correct order should have been and how much of a refund Mr T was due.

I guess when you employ muppets whose primary skills are being able to swipe bar codes, you can't really expect them to be good at adding and subtracting too.

As I head for the exit I'm hit on my blind side by a overloaded trolley and it slices a chunk of flesh off my heel. It's the two fat meatball women and they glare at me as though I deliberately put my ankle in the way of their trolley. They look a bit fierce so I decide against a confrontation and limp off bleeding to the car.

I have now taken a blood oath that I will never venture into that soul-sucking warehouse ever again. Al Quieda chose the wrong Twin Towers


The voile window drapes stayed up for approx 80 minutes and have spent the rest of the weekend on the bedroom floor.