Week 52: Merry Christmas

Friday, 28 December 2018

Reading time 0 minutes 30 seconds 

So Long, & Thanks For All The Fish – Douglas Adams .

Hello, no tales of my stupidity this week just gushy gratitude.

Thank you for taking the time to read my stories during 2018 and for all the positive and funny comments. Myself and an encouraging and hardworking Editor are very grateful.

Share time with loved ones and you may learn as I did that you were conceived on the back seat of a Volkswagen by this man.

A Volkswagon? I thought I was better than that!


Picture: My Dad and Sister. The Funniest people I’m lucky enough to know

Week 51: I’m Tidy

Friday, 21 December 2018

Reading time 2 minutes 02 seconds 

“Clutter is the physical manifestation of unmade decisions fuelled by procrastination”

During the past 50 weeks I have publicly admitted I am a list maker, procrastinator, and have various other afflictions. You can add hoarding to the compendium.

Last year I read the book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”. The book explains the key to successful tidying is to tackle your home in the correct order, to keep only the things you really love and to do it all at once – and quickly. It told me that to find true happiness I should hold each of my possessions, give them thanks for serving me and then dispose of them. At this point I would feel more confident, become more successful, and have the courage to move on from the negative aspects of my life.

I felt as if the author wrote this book just for me. I’m a tidier upper, but it never seems to make a difference, so finally there was a path to my personal nirvana and if you followed the process the experience would be akin to man touching God in the Sistine Chapel.

My possessions were everywhere and had partly taken over my life, so I was keen to test the theory. Sadly, I wasn’t in my own home when I read the book but was staying at my Dads in Spain and Dad does not enjoy people messing with his stuff.

I started in his kitchen.

He was upstairs minding his own business lost in the internet world. I on the other hand was planning a heist and had become Danny Ocean. As in the cockney Danny Ocean who was missing 10 friends and a decent wardrobe.

The plan was to take one kitchen shelf at a time and create two piles, one for keeps and one for the bin, and guesstimated it would take about 20 minutes. The 20-minute rule has got me into trouble before and this was no exception. My Dad finally emerged from his own 20-minute internet time two hours later and at this point I learnt where I got the 20-minute concept from.

He looked at the floor, saw the bag of goods destined for the bin, and enquired as to its contents. I stared back at him somewhat sheepishly, told him about the book, and explained I was doing it for his own good.

My Dad was raised after the end of WWII when rationing was still in effect. Food, especially tinned food, should not be thrown away. Ever. Whereas I’ve been raised in a time where I can buy virtually anything I want from my local garage to the point that last week they were selling Dragon Fruit, which I had to Google before I bought it.

He grabbed a random tin from the bin pile. “This is good fish” he announced in astonishment. The expiry date was 2002, it was 2017. 

“Dad, you bought this in the previous decade and you haven’t eaten it in all this time, so it can’t be that good?!”.

He proclaimed that he’d been very busy. For 15 years.

I wasn’t going to win this particular battle so the fish tin went back on the shelf, but I did manage to sneak others to the bin. I did not feel as if I’d touched the hand of God, but I had upset my creator. Since then I’ve decided that I would never let my shelves be like my Dad’s as I would change my hoarding ways and follow the life changing magic of tidying up.

Until last week I believed I was making real progress but then a friend visited and wanted a cup of tea. As I have vast quantities of different types of tea I showcased them until my mate started to read out the expiry dates. Who knew tea had a shelf life?

Forget the herbal tea. How about a bowl of porridge? What do you mean Quaker Oats has an expir……

Once again, I had become my Dad. Only less successful.

Merry Christmas

Week 50: I’m Brahms & Lists

Friday, 14 December 2018

Reading time 02 minutes 22 seconds 

Sometimes our stop doing list needs to be bigger than our to do list – Patti Digh.Glazomania is an unusual fascination with making lists.

Hello, my name is Matthew and I am a Glazomaniac.

My list making varies from what films I should watch, to grocery lists, to things to do if I ever visit Guatemala. When I discovered the Wunderlist app it made me ponder that maybe there is a God. One list I am unable to write is the one of all the companies in the world who have wronged me as this list would take too long to construct, and I know I should be more forgiving.

One company, who shall not be named, cannot be forgiven and the incident that I’m about to share should not be read whilst eating.

A benefit of working in a city, with millions of others, is the lunchtime food options as you discover you don’t have variety when working from home. When I was a city worker, and as a creature of habit, Wednesday was curry day and I would order the same chicken for months, which had the right portion size, from a well know eatery.

One normal Wednesday, and half way through a normal curry, I chewed into a piece of chicken which was a bit gristly. This was not normal, but it happens from time to time, so I just chowed down as my South African friends would say. I was eating at my desk, and distracted by an email, when I realised I’d been chowing down on this lump of chicken for a few minutes. Another email arrived so I decided to try and get my monies worth and kept on going. I even spooned on more curry sauce to help it on its way.

One finished email later I admitted defeat and carried out the undignified action of removal. As I spat it out I had a cheeky peek (don’t pretend you wouldn’t do the same). The horror slowly hit my eyes, and then my brain. This wasn’t a tough lump of chicken nor was it chicken gristle.

I gazed upon a blue plaster.

This type of plaster is used in the food industry, so they can be easily identified during food preparation if they fall off as not much food is blue you see.

I felt unwell as my mind worked out the chain of events. Someone had cut themselves, probably their finger, they administered a plaster, then lovingly prepared my food, the plaster fell off into my grub and before you know it I’m spitting it out thinking it’s chicken fat. My brain scanned my memories, was this the worst food event that had ever happened? The answer was No.

Flashback to a Curry I was eating on another Wednesday this time in Bangkok.

I found a hair in my mouth and as I pulled it just kept coming like a clown’s handkerchief. I felt something move inside me and then felt a lump in my throat and as I continued to yank the lump finally reached my mouth and I discovered the incredibly long hair was wrapped around a piece of chicken that I’d already swallowed.

So ‘Blue Plaster Wednesday’ wasn’t actually that bad.

Did I complain to the company? No of course not. Did I put on them on an unwritten list in my head of places never to visit again. You’re damn right I did!

Picture: How young was I here and can you guess the location?

Week 49: I’m An Unnatural Born Killer

Friday, 7 December 2018

Reading time 2 minutes 2 seconds 

The worst job I ever had – Derek & Clive

The TV show Auf Wiedersehen Pet was about the life of English workers in Dusseldorf. I loved that programme and when some friends of mine mentioned they were going to live and work in Germany I asked if I could tag along because I wanted to live the life of Wayne, Neville, Barry and Dennis.

At the time Germany was the promised land and I found a job within 2 hours despite the fact that I didn’t speak any German. Luckily their superior education system meant that everybody spoke English, most of them better than what I does, and it enabled me to get my dream job as the head of the dishwashing department in a family run hotel.

The hotel was located by a gorgeous glacial lake in the Schwartzwald , aka the Black Forest. A few years later when served Black Forest Gateaux at my birthday I suddenly realised its origin which proved to me that I was less bright than the match that had just been blown out to light the candles.

Like all jobs it had its ups and downs and one of the downs in this job involved murdering fish.

Chef demonstrated for me. He would grab a fish from the tank hit it over the head with this little German baseball bat and end its life in one simple efficient blow. The first time I was shown this I was horrified as I thought fish came from P. Callafrancesco chip shop in Manor Park. 

When the order came in the Chef would shout “Herr Wills fisch bitte” which roughly translated meant, “Oi Willsy it’s clobbering time, fish please”. 

I trudged down the stairs of doom to the cellar and thought if our customers knew what was going to happen they would have ordered the steak. The fish tank was about the size of an old school TV and the poor creatures behind the glass became very frenzied as I approached. It was the opposite of the claw machine in Toy Story. 

The trick was to commit murder as quickly as possible causing the fish no stress, thereby reducing its adrenalin which alters the taste. I failed at this every single time as I should have been like Vanilla Ice – a one hit wonder [I should watch Top Of The Pops on Thursday night to be more up to date with music]. Their desire to live was strong and they would wriggle a lot and were as slippery as a cockney car dealer. They would end up on the cellar floor jumping all over the place but eventually I would catch one and end up straddled across it with my knee on its chest beating its poor little brains out with multiple hits, unlike Vanilla Ice . 
In those few moments I turned into Bob Hoskins in the Long Good Friday.

I’d return to Chef filthy dirty and he would look at me and smile. He was ruthless and, like the fish, I was gutless. Fish adrenalin, mixed with East London tears, didn’t last long on the menu and soon I was gone. 

Auf Wiedersehen Mat.

Picture: I was gifted this “Stein” by a friend from those murdering days. How I’ve not managed to break it in 30 years is a minor miracle. I’m naked from the waist down in this photo. I’m guessing you didn’t need to know that.