Tuesday, 8 May 2012

A spare pair of arms

Here's something that's been on my mind for a while; if you're at an occasion when you have to join hands with the next person, if you're at the end of the line what do you do with your spare hand?

For instance, let's say you're a big-shot politician and you're sharing a great election victory with your colleagues in front of the cameras. The person next to you grabs your hand and raises it in the manner of marking your victory. You don't resist - and it would be strange if you didn't grab the hand of the person on your other side and raise that one too. So this ripples down the row until everyone has their hands gripped to their neighbour's and is waving them in the air.

But what do the people on the end do? Should they wave their unconnected hand in the air and look a bit of a twit (see the photo above for proof)? Or allow their one arm to be raised by their neighbour but leave their other arm dangling by their side (and risk looking a bit embarrassed with the whole thing)?

In any event, don't even think about putting your spare hand in your pocket.

Or if it's New Year and you find yourself obliged to join in the torture of a communal 'Auld Lang Syne'. When everyone's done that arm-crossing business you're safe if a complete circle has formed. If it hasn't and you find yourself at the end of the row, you're in trouble. Not only will you have a spare arm but it'll be the arm on your wrong side!

So what do you do? Leave it dangle (between you and your neighbour; weird) or act as if there's an imaginary person beside you and imagine you're holding this imaginary person's hand and move your loose arm up and down with all the others. Weird.

By the way, ever seen the Queen and Prince Philip doing 'Auld Lang Syne'? They're hopeless at it - don't cross their arms. Can't imagine what they're like earlier in the evening when everyone's doing the Hoky Coky.

Friday, 27 April 2012

I know the face...

Top left: Phil Vicary; Bottom left: Jason Leonard; Right: Phil Vicary again
Great at identifying English rugby props? Nor me, it seems.

Here are two of them: 75-times capped Phil Vicary and 114-times capped Jason Leonard.

And alongside the mugshots is another photo of Mr Vicary (also the BBC's Celebrity MasterChef 2011) posing with a light aperitif in front of the paw-things gazebo at the Vale Country Fair in Andoversford, near Cheltenham.

I thought I did pretty well to get a photo at all, given that the conversation where I was going to ask him to pose began with me saying: "Excuse me, it is Mr Leonard, isn't it?".


MacDonald's on the up!

Got dispatched by Daughter No. 2 to MacDonald's this afternoon (usual order - large plain cheeseburger meal, a Coke and a Smarties MacFlurry).

Stopped by that pole which speaks to you and a real-live voice said: "Welcome to Cardiff Gate MacDonald's" and the nice polite young man from whom the voice emerged proceeded to most courteously take my order.

Very good.

On to the collection window. Wonder upon wonders! The MacFlurry was pleasingly full!; for possibly in my experience the first time ever! (Usually have to debate how much ice-cream constitutes 'enough' until an extra squeeze is reluctantly splodged on top of the Smarties.)

MacDonald's - moving on up! Well done!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

The same old, the same old

Would have thought I'd learnt my lesson by now.

Don't do any shows before Crufts.

It'll be cold and wet and miserable. You'll be cold and wet and miserable. Don't do it.

So last weekend (the weekend before Crufts) off I went to the Shugborough Hall Game Fair.

And what a surprise! It was cold and wet and miserable.

The photo shows our aisle - doesn't look very well-trod, does it! - at 4.00pm on Saturday. Peak-time for homeward-bound shopping. Not.

The tents to the left and right have already shut up shop; the chappie in the middle is battling with a reluctant frame as he dismantles his fox caller stand. (We didn't see him on the Sunday.) (Wise man.)

So next year too you can expect pre-Crufts shows to be cold and wet and miserable.

Don't do them...

Road rage

You know how it is when you ask for directions.

"Carrying on to the traffic lights then take a left. It's sign-posted 'A467'. Follow that road for about a mile or so then when you come to the roundabout take the B285. Keep going straight on and you'll come to a fork in the road; take the B2252."

One minute's driving later: 'What did he say? The A476? The B467? The A225?'

We've all been there.

So how easy must life be for the residents of Stoke. And Newcastle-under-Lyme. The A500. You don't mess about with a name like that, do you. The A500. Slap-bang in the middle of your brain. The A500. What's to confuse with that? The A505? The A005? The A050? I don't think so.

The A500. Great name for a road.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Congratulations! You've won a holiday!

You've met them, these canvassers. At a show... in the high street...

They work on commission and their sole purpose is to get phone numbers. The owners of these numbers are then harangued into buying time-shares or similar - 'holiday clubs' seem to be the flavour of the month.

The process of getting that all-important phone number has evolved into something quite sophisticated. The target might find that a free holiday has been won by just being there at the right time (what amazing luck!). Marginally more tediously, the target might tear open a coupon to discover - surprise, surprise! - the three symbols line up and they've won a holiday. Whichever, the target gives up their contact details and is then phoned incessantly until they agree to attend a two-hour 'presentation' to receive their prize. At the same 'presentation' they will also be pressurised into buying a time-share or 'holiday club' membership.

The free holiday, by the way, will be next to useless. It's accommodation-only (ie, excludes the cost of flights) and at a place and a time of year that are completely unsuitable. These sales people aren't stupid, you know.

In their single-minded quest for phone numbers - and commission - the canvassers have absolutely no respect for anyone or anything, invading the space of both traders and visitors in an effort to chase down unsuspecting victims. ('Chase' being the operative word - I've seen targets actually being chased down aisles for that all-important phone number!) Of course, many visitors already know the score and see the canvassers on the prowl with their clip-boards. In an attempt to avoid them the visitors speed up and take a wide detour, or perhaps even turn around. Adjacent traders have an altogether miserable time. Ask the canvassers to show a degree of restraint and you'll be met with, at best, blank looks and, at worst, abuse.

Many of the more responsible shows are now recognising the nuisance and distress caused to both traders and the public and are banning time-share/holiday club exhibitors.


Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Oh, that's sooo amusing! (Not.)

You'll recognise the paw-things stand at a show - it's the one with a dog (mannequin) in a life jacket suspended from the roof.

"Aw, mum, look! Can we get a life jacket for Fido?" (There's a thought: when did you last hear of a dog called 'Fido'?)

However, the suspended pooch is also widely commented on by passing humorists (which is almost always the senior male in a group*) to demonstrate their ready wit. Although the witticism - which almost certainly will be one of a limited number of derivations of the same basic comment - is addressed to his party, the humorist will always cast an eye towards me, presumably to assess from my reaction how amazingly witty he's just been.

If I'm feeling chippy (which is generally the case if I've taken a reasonable amount of money, and always the case if the party in question has contributed to it) then I'll respond positively and may even join in with a little easy banter; on a poor day and/or when the party clearly has no intention of buying anything from me I'll just vacantly gaze into the mid-distance and pretend I haven't heard; that way no-one ends up getting hurt.

Of course, each humorist thinks he's the first person to have thought of the line. Be assured he most certainly is not. For the record, here is the line:

"That's the best sort of dog to have -" followed by any one of the following appendages:

"...doesn't cost much to keep",

"...doesn't need feeding",

"...doesn't need walking"

etcetera, etcetera.

Less frequent (and addressed to me although it's for the benefit of the children in tow) but worth recording here is the rather more challenging:

"I'm going to report you to the RSPCA."

I know it's for the kids (who, of course, never understand it), but there's something vaguely uncomfortable about that one; it rarely gets a response.

So, if you want to see me roaring with laughter at a line which I've heard thousands of times before, here's a tip: spend some money first!

I'm a misery, aren't I.

* Sometimes it's subsequently developed upon by one of the kids, straggling behind after their group has wandered on and not understanding the social nuances of such adult/adult adult/child situations. It's often all I can do not to give them a clip to help them on their way.