One post at a time.
- Bless This Wifi Code -
Life in 2014:
I love everyone who visits our home.
But now tired of being asked for the Wi-fi code.
So, trying out this alternative to rooting round the back of the sofa.
It hasn't become normal etiquette yet, but it will do.
- Peace of Mind -
Always keen to get a bit of Inner Serenity.
So when companies offer me "Peace Of Mind", I am keen to catalogue them.
I will put the latest ones on this link.
Here's Norton 360 promising Ultimate Peace Of Mind.
The vague "next couple of years" from HSBC...
Whereas British Gas are super specific.
Peace Of Mind only up until May 2015.
This one is pledged by Arriva Buses:
The full collection of PEACE OF MIND offered by companies is here.
- How to drive past gritters -
I hate driving past gritting lorries on motorways.
Here is a video of how it usually goes:
They travel so slowly, so hanging back doesn't seem like an option.
But I never deciding if overtaking quickly is better... to get the damage to my bodywork and windscreen over as soon as possible...
...or if I should drive slower to reduce the velocity of the chunks hitting my car... but then the car gets hit by it for longer.
Either way feels wrong.
- Getting told off in WHSmith -
I got told off in WH Smith. For taking a picture on my phone.
"Excuse me sir..." - the member of staff was on me like a shot.
"You cannot take photographs in this store. I must ask you to stop."
Like an idiot I pathetically replied "But... it's just to show my wife--"
See, right there - the Wife reference came tumbling out.
Probably for the first time in our marriage - ahhh - it's a milestone.
Like implicating her is somehow going to mitigate my crime.
We're Bonnie and Clyde!
I don't think they were married.
Maybe they should've been.
"I was just robbing this bank... to show my wife."
I thought going pathetic would help, but it seemed enrage the WH Smith Man further.
"I don't care. You can look it up online. Do not take photographs inside the shop. It's company policy."
And in that moment I felt like a 12 year old.
On our school trip to East Germany where we were told not to take photographs in public, in case they captured "Working People" or "The Military" or anything else that was forbidden.
Except it's 2013. And this is a box of Dairy Milk.
That's not even in focus.
Thing is, I was only taking it to show my wife how stupid the WAS price was.
P.S. Hope I don't end up spaffing out some kind of snarky tweet.
@WHSmithcouk policy: Fone pics in store are forbidden. Per Holborn staff: "Check online instead". I did. Its cheaper there. Great policy!
- Wall Space in a Relationship -
I am now sure that the hardest part of living with someone is deciding on what to put up on the walls.
This is pretty much the only art my Wife and I have agreed on getting space.
A London Underground poster and some abstract pictures of coffee cups.
- Digital Box Update -
ADULT Playboy TV Chat
My digital box calls this "Progress".
- DVD Box Movie Reviews -
Per Happy Feet 2, Sky Movies listings now count as reviews
- This is exactly how men watch pornography -
This is exactly how men watch pornography.
In a suit. With a tortured expression.
Love the optimism of that QR code in the bottom corner.
I mean, what chump would be standing there, holding their phone up to take a picture and... Ah, balls.
- Blankety Blank Cheque Book And Pen -
For some reason, I thought the Blankety Blank Chequebook and Pen was a real cheque book that could be used to write cheques for anything you wanted.
TV didn't lie to me.
It just didn't fill in the gaps.
Robot High Street
Walking through town, with my son on my head, talking like robots.
This is what was destroyed...
Sofa Shop (Laura Ashley)
And these are the spared:
The 99p shop
Robert Dyas, because of the lava lamps.
- Train Table Hunting -
Love how men have the biological need to throw their paper down onto the table or seat on the train.
With a ‘thonk’.
It’s like they've hunted it.
It's either an active part of the hunting itself, or a moment of asserting their ownership over the table.
- Non-Japanese Japanese Speakers -
I don’t know why, but I love seeing people speaking Japanese who are clearly not Japanese.
(the clip is from the very addictive Pythagoras Switch)
- Lego Star Wars Food -
Life in 2014:
Baguettes in our house will henceforth be known as Lightsaber Bread.
-In the event of my death -
Convinced that my Other Half knows exactly what she would do next, were I to die.
In my head, I am actually impressed that she has worked this all out in quite minute detail.
- Running Past The 6th Form Girls On The Station -
This conversation totally did not take place.
I hate being late for the train. You know, running past the Sixth Form Girls in a sweaty old state...
So, you want to look good in front of the Sixth Form Girls.
No. No! I’m just saying, you know, hauling my sorry mess onto the platform is embarrassing.
I don’t understand - you’re trying to impress them?
No! I just mean biologically... statistically... they’re the ones most likely to mock me.
And so falls ever deeper, that self-dug hole I had no idea even existed.
- How I’m Leaving O2 -
Life in 2014:
They don’t teach this in school - how to break up with a supplier.
Here’s how suppliers work - we all know this - I’ve just never tried to articulate it.
They have a flash ad campaign - in this case with a weird-but-nice half-man half-unicorn and the best deal.
Then, months later, they creep the prices up. I haven’t found a word for it yet: that direct debit creep. Now, even though you now pay 10% more for the same thing, it’s a ballache to have to move or get it back down again. To go through every Direct Debit Creep™ where it’s “only” gone up by two or three quid a month.
So today I’m leaving O2, nine days after getting the email announcing a price increase. It’s taken me decades to get this, but the trick is to decide on the move and then do it.
Don’t waste time messing around trying to get them to offer a better deal - just go and find a better deal.
(In this case, Virgin Mobile at a monthly rate half of what I’m currently paying with double the data and 4 times the minutes. But that’ll creep up too.)
I’ll just take a look here (at my script)... Maybe we could offer you a better deal.”
No, that’s alright. Thanks - I just need a PAC code.
Of course. While my computer is generating that, may I ask why you’re thinking of leaving us today?
Ah, I just felt like it.
I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear a reply. I was just asking, why you’re thinking of leaving us today?
I just... know know... felt like it.
(PAUSE) Okay. I have your PAC code now, do you have a pen and paper?
(SINGING BADLY) Whatda-have to do, to make you love me...
SERIES OF STILLS: ALL THE GOOD TIMES O2 AND I HAD TOGETHER
- THE O2 STARTUP SCREEN ON MY PHONE;
- THE “HI THERE” WELCOME EMAIL;
- TEXT MESSAGE: “Charges since your last bill are £15.99 ex VAT”
- PULL IN SLOWLY ON: “You have 0 anytime any network mins”
(OFFSCREEN, SINGING BADLY) What'd I got to do, to be heard...
- SCREENGRAB: GUARDIAN: O2 TO CHALLENGE OFCOM OVER MID-CONTRACT PRICE INCREASES
- THE PRICE INCREASE EMAIL:
- CLOSE UP: “Hello Neil”
- CLOSE UP: “Important news about the price of your mobile tariff”
- CLOSE UP: DENSE TEXT WITH RPI AND DATE AND PRICE FIGURES
- CLOSE UP: “How do I know this is really from O2?”
- CLOSE UP: O2 “HELP” ICON
- SCREENGRAB: O2 HELP CHAT “Hello, I need a PAC code”
- CLOSE UP: “Session Aborted”
- CLOSE UP: “BE MORE DOG”
- TEXT MESSAGE: “HERE IS YOUR PAC. TO CLOSE YOUR ACCOUNT”
- PULL IN ON MY REPLY: “Goodbye...”
(SINGING BADLY) So sad, so sad, what a sad sad situation.
Always seems to me...
...sorry seems to be the hard- est- woorrrrrrrrrd.
FADE TO BLACK
FADE UP AGAIN:
An email tonight from O2 telling me they're billing me for the whole of the next month after leaving.
FADE TO BLACK.
- Ovary Predictions -
(Picture from my soon to be launched game: NHS Direct diagram or Star Wars fan art)
Friend claims she can tell from which side her egg is ovulating in any month.
It's like some kind of uterine party trick.
- Tescos Valentines -
I'm pretty much on board for Tesco's Valentine's Day.
- Washing up the recycling -
Life in 2014:
This is a picture of me doing the washing up, of something that’s going into the recycling.
(It's a jar of Simply M&S Peanut Butter. The hardest jar a man can rinse.)
I know it makes sense - we don’t want to get rats.
But here I am, washing up things that we’re throwing away.
I’ve tried starting a list of hates before, twice. Here goes for a third time.
My list of hates will go here:
DAD LESSONS FOR MY KIDS - Appendix I: These are my hates.
- Nighttime Midnight Plastic Crap Bin Bag Man -
Finally... on the floor of every room in our house, we have managed to achieve an even distribution of Lego bricks, Mega Bloks, batteries, plastic coins, letters and numbers.
I'm going to invent a folklore, to help everyone prepare for this.
Like the Tooth Fairy.
He will be known as Nighttime Midnight Plastic Crap Bin Bag Man.
- And I said yes you look wonderful tonight -
INT. KITCHEN - DAY
I'm doing the washing-up, and my Wife is cutting something. RADIO 2 is playing: Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton.
There's more to it than that.
She puts on her make-up. And brushes her long blonde hair. And "Yes", you look wonderful tonight.
Ah... yeah. Guess he's saying that she looks good, whatever.
Plucking. De-fuzzing everything.
(THEN) Hair straighteners. Putting on false eyelashes.
I go to say something.
Doing nails. Various serums and volume mousses.
Fake tan. (PAUSE) Moisturisers.
I wait to see if that's it.
You've just put on your makeup, and brushed your long blonde hair.
(Right) You look "wonderful" tonight.
She's seen right through Clapton's woman.
- New mobile phone weather overload -
Life in 2014:
Love how new mobiles are obsessed with giving me the latest weather.
Its like the most important thing to it. THE WEATHER.
Do you want it as a big box? Small? On the lock screen?
Here, have some more weather.
New York? Do you want to know the temperature in New York?
Not there? Where?
Where do you want it?
WHERE DO YOU WANT IT?
- Bathtime Song -
Socks in the basket, and
Pants in the basket and
Shorts in the basket and
T-shirt in the basket and
You are going into the bath...
...you're gonna be washing your hair.
The Dumb Choice Challenge
Had to do a list of questions for a “celebrity” for a thing.
Behold, the Dumb Choice Challenge:
Brown sauce, Ketchup, or Mayo?
Boys, Girls or Dogs?
Reading, Writing or Music?
Long shower, Short Bath, or Swim?
Manchester, Barcelona or LA?
Pink, Yellow, or Purple
Broken toe, Broken arm, or Broken nose?
New haircut, New tattoo, or New baby?
New shoes, New suit, or New underwear?
Sat Nav, Chauffeur, or Horseback?
Toffee, Chocolate, or Treacle sponge?
Wine, Beer or Cocktail?
Twilight, Harry Potter, or High School Musical?
Herbal Tea, Decaff coffee, or Soya Milk?
Chocolate, Vanilla, or Strawberry?
Sun, Sea or Sand?
Miss any others?
- World Book Day Costumes -
Happy World Book Day!
For an industry obsessed with copyright infringement, how wonderful that for one day it encourages abominations like this.
It's all about dressing up as something from your favourite book.
We're already trying out some designs inspired from the 2013 IKEA catalogue.
Email - A new dimension in communications
Turns out the web is 25 years old this week.
By weird coincidence, found this - article from the University of Kent Newsletter, from exactly 21 years ago this week:
"Email - A New Dimension In Communications...(Reproduced without permission. Another gift of the web.)
A message... sent using email will reach its destination in a matter of minutes...
Over 250 special interest discussion groups are already established..."
- Turning Off The Wi-fi At Night -
Life in 2014:
I turn off my wi-fi at night, like a Nan.
I'm so old, I remember putting the protective cover back on the keyboard when we’d finished typing.
- Twix -
The Twix is, at best, a Nan Biscuit.
It does not qualify for chocolate bar status.
- Weird Verbs -
My printer is a bit up itself.
It says "Please order more ink"
You boy! Please... order more ink.
I won't buy it on Amazon, or shoplift it from a Maplin.
No, I will “order” the ink.
Like it's a fine wine. Or food in a restaurant.
I will "order" the ink.
Before I "dump" the printer.
Because it "bust" the bank.
TV programmes do it as well. They use a really weird verb.
The voice at the end goes "For more behind the scenes footage, just “log-on” to the website".
"Log-on" - "Log-on to our website!"
Because "log-on" sounds so much more active, and sexy, than "look at".
Or “please manually type this URL into your computer so you can watch exactly the same kind of stuff that you're watching on the telly. Over there”.
- Forgetting that you are in a public place -
My wife’s greatest fear for me is probably that I will forget where I am.
I don’t know what I do specifically, that she fears most that will be revealed - though I can take a guess, and don’t need to type it here. But we all have those things that we do at home, because we are at home. (We do though, right, don't we?)
Is it me? Is it getting over the 40 hillock? Is it being in London during the day? Or is it because it’s 2014 that people forget where they are when they are in public places?
In the Royal Festival Hall - in the middle of the day - in the middle of the lobby - the 30-something who takes his shoes and socks off - to inspect and clean his feet. This is happens regularly. Not an emergency piece of chiropody. It's his daily routine.
Or the 50-something who opens up the Daily Mail and on turning every page, lets out a loud gaffaw.
I was talking this over with my writing partner Tim Dann at the top of my voice while lotus-sitting on a table.
No, not really. That would be annoying for the people around us.
But it's weird that we’ve moved away from the Victorian public disapproval, so we don’t ostracise the man with some soup on his tie... or the lady with ladder in her stockings. And yet, you know, is it... better?
If there’s a completely empty train carriage - you don’t have to sit right opposite me to trough your 2 litre bottle of Pepsi.
And the tube isn’t the place to assemble a Naan.
Here's the thing that worries me though - it isn't about people forgetting themselves in public... Think it's about being oblivious to it in the first place.
Who's going to tell me?
- My tweets from the scene of a train crash -
Usually when this happens, I’m at the back of the delays trying to get some information on how likely it was that the trains would get moving again.
But this time, I was in the front carriage. So I thought I’d be generous, and help anyone at the back looking for news with what was causing them to be a couple of hours late home tonight.
Then it became clear that the thud I’d heard wasn’t a log or debris. It was a person.
We’d come to rest long beyond where it’d happened, but I tweeted pictures of the view to give an idea of where everyone was tweeting about.
I was very careful to not show any faces... it was just to paint a picture of the delay.
I started getting replies, questions even. Turns out there were maybe hundreds, even thousands back at the blocked terminus who, like me, were curious about what was going on and when we might be likely to get moving again. They are stranded, and they want to get home, to their families.
And it was with that voice that I passed on what was happening. Train driver and guards tweeted me insights to the procedures, and even what replacement schedules were being planned for when we started moving again.
Whoop we’re moving again! I honked - knowing this would be helpful for those gauging whether it was worth staying at their station or passing on an ETA to those expecting them at home.
The guard was incredibly helpful in passing on details to the train of what would happen next, and I felt for the driver who was currently going though a terrible moment in his life (while we were just trying to get home).
But that night I was contacted by someone asking for any more detail about the afternoon. Turns out - after a healthy chunk of suspicion and paranoia - that it was someone close to the victim, probably trying to make sense of the events that I had tweeted about in real time by going through the delay's official hashtag.
Suddenly, I realised the tweets that were meant to be helpful and on the side of the struggling commuter - my tribe - now, through someone else's POV, seem just oafish and dumb.
Whoop! We’re on the move again!
To thousands of people - the moment they could celebrate.
To one person though...
And the thing with The Great Disruption is... all of us are just that little bit closer now...
Hates - People who deliberately hold their glasses to pose for photos like Martin Sorrell.
It’s not fair, and it’s not right, and I don’t believe in violence, but this picture really winds me up.
For some reason, I have a primal hatred of people who deliberately hold their glasses to pose for photos.
And I think this man started the whole thing.
I believe he is a “marketing expert”.
This stupid photo, by itself, is already having me imagining that he’s deliberately applying a theory that holding your glasses in photos will deliver some “key messaging” that this will make you look ‘pro-active’. ‘Engaged’.
It’s not an accident. He’s got form.
It's his 'thing'.
It’s like you can’t look at me without being distracted.
Why do I know deep down that you are about to speak very slowly.
(WHILE DOING MEDIA TRAINING HAND GESTURES)
With some finger-jab half-points to punctuate your politician hand jiving while you emphasise your one-way conversation.
You don't neeed to touch them.
I promise you, they'll stay on your face even without your surefooted Alpha guidance...
No! Stop it. Everyone's at it!
I need to calm down.
Let me pause for a moment while I just hold my pen and stare into middle distance while I gather my great thoughts.
[INSERT AFFECTED SELFIE HERE]
"I need to add this to my list of hates."
- Where the term “It’s a bit nippy” came from -
Went out with a girl once who, when trying on clothes in shops, knew exactly what to buy.
"I can tell, because when I try something on, I know it's right if I can tell that my nipples have gone hard."
How great are nipples.
Not only can they sustain the newborn,
they can also guide you through the sales at H&M.
(And that is where we got the term “a bit nippy”.
Because this is what the cold weather does to them.)
- 2 Night Minimum Stay Hotel Hilarity -
Had this conversation with a hotel a few weeks ago.
I need to book a hotel room for a night, which happens to be a Saturday night.
It’s a popular town, and good hotel rooms are at a premium.
So hardly any hotels rent out their rooms for the Saturday only - they insist on a 2 night minimum.
I completely understand that - that they’d want to maximise their profit.
(ON THE PHONE)
So I’m checking availability for April 5th.
(ON THE PHONE)
Yes, we have only one room available that night - it’s our Queensize double.
Great, can I book it please?
No, we have a policy of a 2 night minimum at weekends.
AT THIS POINT I’M THINKING I MIGHT BOOK IT FOR 2 NIGHTS.
Right, so is it available on the Friday or Sunday?
No. You’d have to move to a different room on either day.
But the room’s available on Saturday though, right?
So can I book it?
Only if you book another room for a second night. It’s our policy, to fill the hotel.
Sorry, I’m confused - I have to book for 2 nights, but the room isn’t available for 2 nights?
No, you’ll have to move rooms on the second night. It’s our policy.
One month on, and still can't think of an hilarious way to end this conversation with them.
- Why White 4x4 Drivers Are The Worst People In The World -
It was an earlier lesson that white 4x4s (or SUV’s) are the rudest cars on the road.
It only just hit me why we are pre-programmed to hate them.
They look like Stormtroopers.
Or maybe George Lucas modelled the Stormtrooper on your typical white 4x4 car and occupant.
[INSERT VIDEO OF ME WALKING PAST A WHITE 4X5 IN A CARPARK OVERDUBBED WITH MY SON SINGING "THE DARTH VADER MARCH FROM STAR WARS BY JOHN WILLIAMS"]
- Explaining the concept of the United Kingdom to a 5 year old -
I’ve fielded questions from my 5 year old on everything, from why do you always only see half of the moon through to asking if Darth Vader knows God
(because apparently, you know, they both made stars).
But the hardest thing I've had to explain is his nationality.
We live in Britain. You’re British.
Is what I want to say.
“Great Britain” is correct, but it sounds showy.
And no-one else calls it that.
It’s the United Kingdom, but I’m told that doesn’t cover all of it, and it’s useless anyway because you can’t say you’re UK’ish.
And then everyone else in the UK (or British Isles) wants to call us English.
Which is balls - because that’s not even a country.
(I’ve tried, but crosses on pasty-faced white van men in red facepaint doesn’t yet make a regional administrative district a nationality.)
So now we’re up to 5 ways of describing what we are, and not one of them does the job.
I know the problem lies with me... I can’t explain it to my toddler.
Good luck on your vote, Scotland!
The full Dad Lessons For My Kids from previous years are here.