A day trip

Today I went to London. Just to see if it was real. I took a HUGE bag of Sandwich Spread sandwiches. Unfortunately the sandwiches were mostly gone by the time I got there. How did that happen? I wish I knew. Really. But it seems to happen almost every time I take home-made sandwiches with me. Bizarre. Anyway. It was an enjoyable trip; I do like the broadband WiFi on the journey.

Starbucks have taken the process of buying coffee, ripped the heart and soul out of the experience, burned the mortal remains until there is almost nothing left, liquidised the ashes in to a smoothie, fed the drink to a 23-year-old, lame, partially-sighted mule and then shot the mule. Twice. This afternoon I went in to a branch of Starbucks. The length of the queue should have put me off, but no, I stood in line with all the other lemons. As I slowly shuffled forwards, like a cold-war Babushka gradually taking root in a queue for half a loaf of mouldy bread in a Moscow bakers, I could hear the rat-a-tat interrogation of the guy behind the counter. All I wanted was a coffee. With every passing second, my desire to be *there*, in that queue, surrounded by tourists waiting for the inevitable ‘grande non-fat ice white mocha no whip rikki-tikki-tavi fellatio cunnilingus MOT-fail welding heinz 57 with extra giraffe and a side helping of kangaroo and brick catfood‘ interrogation at the cash till; my need to be *there* just unwrapped like the peel off an apple, and dropped away until all I had left was the word ‘coffee’. I turned and walked out.

Twitter is currently enduring my one-word-a-thon #twitterporn. I feel a bit sorry for it.

Chocolate is about to be taken, and accompanied by a mug of hot tea. Oh yes!

Losing it…

Children will always be children’, the television advert for the French dairy product said a few minutes ago. Do we need to write in, pointing out that children will not always be children? They will, in fact, grow up at some stage in their lives.

Speaking of growing up, I had an interview for a new contract on Thursday; there were two candidates. This evening I got the result. I am, apparently, just a little over-qualified. Hmmm…

Today the television has been on non-stop. With the sound off. Don’t ask me why, but it’s one of life’s little weirdnesses that I write better (and quicker) with the television on, but with the sound off. I compensate for the sound-offness by listening to music. I know! How weird? My brain has the temerity to produce better writing with the TV on but sound off, and needs to compensate by having the stereo on! Go figure. Three sets of reviews and a draft shooting script for the sitcom. Woo, go me. I have to big myself up, I’m a little bit put out at being denied a job because I am ‘just a little over-qualified’.

Soph’s gone kick-boxing with the lovely-but-slightly-loopy Gemma, this evening. It’s nice that they hang around together. I’m slightly fearful for the rest of us when two mentalists gather in such close proximity, though. I hope the world won’t spontaneously implode under the pressure of a hitherto uncatalogued physical pressure which will, in the future, be called ‘dark mentalism’.

Anyone who follows me on Twitter will know that I put out an update today that said I’m thinking of writing a TwitterPorn story. The idea is fairly simple, in a way it’s a kind of performance art: I’ll put out a single-word, once an hour, with the hashtag #pornstory. The words won’t make sentences, per se, but they will enable the reader to construct his/her own story around them. See what I’m doing? Getting the reader to introduce their own imagination as a component? Oh. Not impressed? I thought it was an interesting exercise in *reader* creativity. What do you reckon?

Yesterday, during an emergency visit to Tesco for milk (what the hell is it that we do with milk? Seriously! We go through gallons of the stuff), I *cough* accidentally picked up a jar of Sandwich Spread. Is there anyone else addicted to this wonder of the food world?

Apparently the television station Virgin 1 has been rebranded to ‘Channel One’. Such a shame that the on-air branding in the corner of the screen still says ‘Virgin 1’.

Allister and I are potentially recording the first of the ‘Unsigned World’ shows for UKHDRadio tomorrow morning. Scary stuff! Exciting, but scary.

What are you doing? You never call, you never write, you’re a constant worry to your poor old mother father sister brother friend…

Exclusive! Daily Mail staff in sex horror!

So I was just in the kitchen cooking one of my speciality snacks (you will notice I didn’t say ‘meals’), when I started wondering about cheese-graters.

If someone could please invent a cheese-grater that didn’t remove the skin from my fingertips, I’d buy it.

Anyway.

We were show-jumping this evening, a session with Owen.  At one stage Owen said, ‘What are you feeding Tom, Bren?’

Rocket fuel, obv.

Tom showed no sign that he had been out on Saturday (you’ve read the result, already, yes?) as he towed me all over the show-jumping course.

I honestly expected him to be a little laid back.

Ha!

I was back in control for our second lap and after the third, faultless journey over the course, we called it a day.

Owen had a good time at Broadway this weekend; 2nd, 7th and 8th, but even these results must be no consolation for his Badminton disappointment, one of his four-star horses being unwell, whilst the other didn’t make it off the wait list.

Meanwhile, in other news…

I’m at home tomorrow, but on Wednesday I’m off up to Worcester. It’s a work thing, not a pleasure thing. I have decided to be radical and let the train take the strain; Charlbury to Worcester Foregate Street and return. I’ve got a four-minute walk from the station in Worcester.

I had a really bad night’s sleep last night; less than two hours, and then I was up for five hours, then back to sleep for three more.

It’s safe to describe my state right now as ‘knackered’.

I’m going to use tomorrow to have a burst of activity on ‘Shelved’. I have done no work on the Sitcom for a couple of weeks, but I have done a massive amount of thinking about it.

The bottom line is that I want to rethink the first and last episodes. I think there is a way to make a visual gag in episode one, dovetail in to the last episode of season one, in such a way that the comedy ending of the season becomes lastingly bitter-sweet.

And the headline above?

Well, can you imagine having sex with Jan Moir?

*shudder*

Wide awake at 2am is not helpful, but…

Last night’s vegetarian food-fest (prepared, cooked, eaten – half of it anyway – and washed-up afterwards by me, lest there be any misunderstandings) was a little overplanned.

Overplanned to the point that I couldn’t get the final constituent on my plate.

I should add that we rarely use ‘proper’ plates, instead we use kind of shallow, flatish, wideish breakfast bowl things. They look like this:

Anyway, the thing is with eating from bowls like this instead of proper plates, is that they fill up with food quickly.

This is a win because it means we eat less. It can also be a loss though, because last night it meant I couldn’t add the baked beans to my ‘plate’.

But only to my ‘plate’ because Soph isn’t a fan of the ‘Shepherd’s Pie, mange tout, broccoli, baked potato, gravy *and* baked beans’ treatment.

Which is weird, obv, because who wouldn’t want a topping of baked beans on a combo like that?

So I left the baked beans in the sospan (look, it’s a Welsh word and I say it the Welsh way. Humour me) and we cracked on with our food-and-Buffy fest.

Having tottered downstairs at 1.30am, just half an hour ago, I put the kettle on and looked at the poor, sad, dejected and lonely-looking baked beans.

Then my eyes fell upon one of the familiar, pink-coloured tubes that often sits nearby.

Let me tell you about a food-match made in Heaven, my friend.

Cold baked beans, scooped out of the sospan by, and devoured with, Prawn Cocktail-flavoured Pringles.

And washed down with a mug of hot tea.

So it might be 2am and I might be grumpily awake but I am, nevertheless, feeling very satisfied, in a foodie kind of way.

I am cooking

I am cooking. In the kitchen, obv.

In fact I’ve just twittered that, with an accompanying photo. Because I’m weird. Obv.

Soph has declined my offer of cooked food. She is either clairvoyant or mad – because there is no middle ground with my cooking. It is either absolutely bloody brilliant or it is shit.

Tonight’s effort smells, I have to admit, of absolutely bloody brilliance.

However.

A short span of time passes…

I am no longer cooking. I am also no longer in the kitchen. My appetisingly-smellingly meal is cooling next to me.

I am in the lounge, on the couch (not the ouch, as I first typed. That’s something completely different of which we shall never speak here).

There is an episode of Friends on the TV.

It is approximately 18 years old. The episode of Friends, not the TV. The TV is less than four months old.

Has humanity not witnessed enough suffering?

Must the TV companies continue to inflict the third-rate comedy, made marginally amusing only by virtue of the canned and all-too-fake laughter, on us?

Do we have to endure this sadly dated and socially irrelevant garbage for much longer?

If I write to my MP asking him to put a Bill before the House to remove this (and I hesitate to use the word) ‘entertainment’ from our screens will he thank me for stating the blindingly obvious?

Another short span of time passes…

Did you know there’s a character in Glee with the name ‘Sandy Ryerson’? And did you know that he’s played by the same actor (Stephen Tobolowsky) who played the character ‘Ned Ryerson’ in Groundhog Day?

Did you?

Did you also know that Buffaloes don’t actually have wings?

And while I’m pointing out strangely true but ridiculous things…

Did you know that the leader of one of the worst sects ever – the Roman Catholic Church – who goes under an assumed name of Pope Benedict XVI, has called on his ‘followers’ to fight the Equality Bill that is currently going through Parliament.

His reason for encouraging his minions to take a public stance against the bill?

Because (and I quote) ‘In some respects it actually violates the natural law upon which the equality of all human beings is grounded and by which it is guaranteed’.

Don’t believe me? Source.

So this guy wants his sect to be exempt from equality legislation whilst proclaiming that his sect doesn’t discriminate, when it plainly does? How deliciously oxymoronic!

And what a total twat.

The sooner *all* of these nutcase sects are stripped of *any* exemption from equality legislation, the better; they’re all as bad as each other.

Dinosaurs.

Anyway, getting back on to my original track…

Cooking for one – which I have done this evening, because Soph was on lates – is such a pain in the arse, isn’t it?

So how – if you do it – do you do it?

‘Cos for me, cooking for one is a chore – and one best avoided through the dubious application of junk food.

But I don’t *want* to eat junk food, I want to eat the good shit.

So how do you do it? Huh?

Vegemite & Toast, Gurgles, Horses and Halloween

It is 08.30 Saturday morning and the Joneses are abed, but not asleep.

Soph is watching BBC News whilst eating Vegemite on Toast; Bren is tapping away on his laptop having exhausted all of his Bloglines feeds. A quick cruise through The Daily Mail Online might be in order soon, just to raise the blood pressure a little.

We are going away today. Not for long, just an overnighter. But we will soon be travelling northwards to The Land That Time Forgot; to a place where Magicks and Cavemen and Demons dwell. No, I’m not being all ‘halloweenish’, it’s just how life is in Worcestershire.

We’ll be coming back tomorrow.

So I (Bren) should get up really. There’s a yard to get to and at least one horse that should be exercised before we make the trip and it should be Tom.

Yesterday I took Vin out for a hack through a couple of villages. We explored lanes that neither of us had been down and discovered a couple of gorgeous hamlets tucked away in a little valley.

It really was too cute for words; incredibly pretty scenes – in a chocolate box kind of way; little clumps of centuries-old cottages framed by the many-shades-of-brown Autumnal range of colouring that London-based fashion designers just don’t get.

Vin didn’t get it either. Oh he looked and gawped and stared, but he didn’t get it. Vin’s due for a clip this week, Tom is going to need a second clip if the current warm spell continues.

I schooled Tom in the indoor arena after I’d put Vin to bed. These two horses are like chalk and cheese, but Tom is good for me. Were Vin has taught me to be defensive, Tom says ‘go!’.

We should jump today, Tom and me; a little course of 3′, maybe eight or nine fences. We need to practice rhythm and balance in the canter (Tom has a minor tendency to lean inwards on the right rein, and I need to get the fold right over the fence).

Anyway.

Lying here in bed, listening to Sophie’s stomach gurgling away as it digests the Vegemite (and/or the toast) I’ve been half thinking about the Halloween thing.

I nipped over to the font of all bad knowledge, Wikipedia, and the website didn’t fail to disappoint me once again.

Unbelievably Wikipedia calls Halloween ‘a holiday’.

What? Really? When did that happen?

Because in my language ‘a holiday’ is a special event for which one gets time off work.

So when did Halloween become ‘a holiday’? And in which country is Halloween ‘a holiday’?

Please?

When I lived in the United States, Halloween sure as hell wasn’t ‘a holiday’, so has it happened since?

Or is this another of Wikipedia’s many ‘black holes of information’, where good data is automatically sucked in to some kind of Good Information Wormhole, leaving just the crud and the ridiculous behind for people to read?

But the point of this small diatribe is to mention that I’m considering a Get Halloween Back To Basics Campaign; what do you think?

Halloween used to go like this for me:

1. Apple-bobbing in the kitchen
2. A trip to the fun-fair (if it was in town, but if it wasn’t))
3. Home-made toffee apples
4. Erm…

Knocking on doors and Trick or Treating didn’t happen. The thought of tip-toeing up Grumpy Mr Garner’s footpath, knocking on his door and asking for a trick or treat is too scary to contemplate; he would have set his dogs on us.

And also, Deaf Old Mrs Baker would (had anyone been so bold) have wielded that broom handle that she kept by her door and would have caused many bruises and contusions on our skin.

So why, I wonder, are GMG and DOMB expected to be all sweetness and light these days?

Surely (and don’t call me Shirley) they are entitled to remain isolated in their homes being as grumpy and as surly as they want to be?

Who has given the chavs of today the right to go disturbing people in the comfort and security of their own miserableness?

I really don’t care too much because when the snot-nosed, glue-sniffing, OAP-botherers come around this evening we won’t be here.

Ha ha!

Happy holiday!

Saturday

Hasn’t it been a brilliant day?

The weather has been very warm and sunny. We had a session with Relate first thing and then walked in to the centre of Oxford which was fantastic and filled with colourful, exciting, vibrant people.

The Braserie we choose to eat in served excellent food via happy, smiling, charming staff.

Then we went to the cinema and watched the new Star Trek. A good film but one where the special effects outweighed the plot.

Then we came home, set up the studio and recorded episode 65 of  This Reality Podcast. We’ve changed the format to make it leaner and punchier, Soph chose the music this week.

And now it’s Britain’s Got Talent with some soon-to-be served baked potatoes, quiche and salad.

A brilliant day.

Except, of course, for the centre of Oxford which wasn’t as described above. Actually it seemed to have more than its fair share of weirdly-dressed, cleavage-sporting, pavement-meandering people.

Not sinning today

Yesterday’s slip in to the fiery pit of hellfirefood could only have been drug-related. It was the sun (or something in it). The serotonin or keratin or paraffin or whatever.

How else can you explain today?

Because today I am in the office in Southwark where, less than 86 paces from the front door of the building, is a Pie and Mash shop.

I have walked past this Temptress of Food twice four times today and succumbed not a single time.

So I think all the gasps and finger-pointing that I was subjected to yesterday should be withdrawn.

Immediately.

Or this plate of Mash and Liquor gets it.

Bwahahahaha!

(only joking! i really haven’t been in there)

Sinning (slightly)

I know you’re busy and I’m sorry to take up a precious few seconds of your time with this – to you – trivial nonsense, but it’s important to me and that (believe it or not) has value. In my world anyway.

Yes, it has value to me, especially in these times of significant financial difficulty (unless one is an MP of course – in which case the phrase is: especially in these times of significant moral difficulty).

And that, really, is at the heart of my problem.

Morals.

Because…

[deep breath]

Today I have sinned.

On my way from a meeting at one end of Westminster to my office at the other end of Westminster I had cause to pass a [pauses] McDonalds.

I don’t know what occurred – I don’t know which of my moral values wobbled – but minutes later I found myself deposited back on to the pavement clutching a large banana milkshake, a large fries and a pot of Heinz tomato ketchup.

It all occurred so quickly, my mind is still in a bit of a whirl.

One moment I was enjoying the feeling of the sun on my shoulders, the next I was clutching The Devil’s Food.

Anyway, sanity (you’ll be pleased to know) reigned. I did the only sensible thing that a rational human being could.

I drank the milkshake.

But the fries?

I ate them.