Monday 27 October 2014

I Did it My Way

My girlfriend is visiting from Seattle. One of her favourite passtimes is drunk dive-bar karaoke. On Friday we went out and did exactly that. It was a night full of unlikely surprises. The first was that I enjoyed myself (I sing very poorly but I have learned to shout-sing an old punk song – it only has five notes in the entire vocal melody, there are long gaps to breathe, and it's forgiving of poor tuning, poor tempo, and poor annunciation). Bewildering surprise number two was "competitive karaoke". We weren't allowed to sing for an hour while there was a competition taking place, but we weren't too worried because my girlfriend is a professional musician and the two women we were with are skilled singers who rehearse and perform together in choirs and bands. Bewildering surprise number three was a crazy old local nutter in a smock, dreadlock wig, and slippers singing faux African chants. Number four was a crazy old lady singing very poorly and threatening to take her clothes off. Number five was a video clip of the same crazy old lady doing exactly the same thing on The X Factor. Number six was that the worst our table had to offer was considerably better than the best of the "competition". Seven was the woman who got up without a backing track and sang Japanese opera.

My favourite bit of the evening was the DJ roundly taking the piss out of Wonkey Eye for being too good and too earnest. At least the girls had the decency to sing popular songs that they barely knew and to make a few mistakes.

Richard "reflected glory" B

Wednesday 22 October 2014


This weekend I stayed with one of my friends in Guildford. He has a beautifully appointed bathroom with a perfectly useable toilet. I once stayed with him after he had stripped out the old bathroom and before he put in the new one. So that the house was still "habitable" he had left a toilet plumbed in. It was the most dangerous toilet in Surrey. At your knee was an unsupported and temporarily capped gas pipe. At your feet an unterminated live mains cable. The toilet itself wasn’t stable or attached to the fabric of the building, it was resting temporarily on wooden wedges to bring it up to the height where the new floor would eventually be. If you moved it or knocked it over you could have fractured the water pipe and the soil pipe and so flooded the flat with both fresh water and sewage, or electrocuted yourself, or gassed yourself, or exploded the house. I paid close attention to the safety briefing and operator instructions, the two most important points were 1) no smoking, 2) no fidgeting.

Richard "I think I can wait" B

Tuesday 14 October 2014

Disability Discrimination

This weekend I did very poorly in an impromptu game of charades. I was in a pub with a band and a deaf mute asked me to hand him a chair. It was abundantly clear that he wanted something, he wanted one of something, and it was just behind me.

You want to talk to me for a minute just over there?
You want one of our guitars?
You could knock me out with one punch?
Hold on, start again. Is it a book a play or a film?

Richard "speak up man" B

Tuesday 7 October 2014


The phrase "make yourself at home" sounds encouraging, but it doesn’t have enough information in it.

The tea is in the cupboard above the kettle. Normal teabags are in the blue caddy, homosexualherbal teabags are in the red caddy.

The coffee is in the fridge, there's an aeropress and a small cafetière in the cupboard next to the fridge.

To light the gas turn a knob to the 3 o'clock position and then push the knob to run the igniter. 12 o'clock is the lowest flame, 3 o'clock is the highest.

Left hand knob two clicks clockwise. Right hand knob controls the temperature. The middle control doesn't do anything, it's a mechanical process timer which rings a little bell.

Left hand knob one click anticlockwise. Right hand knob fully clockwise.

The control is black and silver and says Toshiba. Press the "source" button to select what it displays. HDMI1 is the dvd player.

The control is black all over and says Toshiba on it. Feature films are on the shelves in the hallway. Comedies and series's in the seagrass chest on the landing.

The control is grey and says Yamaha. It only works from about three feet away. No it doesn't need new batteries, I've tried that. The top row of black buttons selects CD, ipod or radio.

The key to the patio door is in the left hand drawer of the drinks cabinet. Key one full turn clockwise, then lift the black lever, then slide the door.

Help yourself but please don't take the piss with long international calls.

The wifi network is called __________ the password is ___________

Either press "browse as guest" or "add user" and use the email address and password for your google account. It'll download your profile picture and all your favourites.

Press "boost" on the Drayton control in the kitchen by the blackboard. The temperature control is in the sitting room next to the mirror.

Hot Water
There is hot water all day but it takes a few minutes to run though. Turn on a hot tap and wait.

The inner control sets the temperature, it shouldn't need to be moved far. The outer control starts and stops the flow. There is a blue "spanner" hanging up if you can't turn the control with your hands. Put the curtain inside the bath, turn on the flow, wait a minute for the water to run hot, then step in.

Towels/linen/loo roll
In the cupboard on the landing

Shops/pub/cache machine
Turn left out of the front door. Left onto Redacted Close. Past the garages onto Redacted Park Road and turn right towards the roundabout. The pub is by the roundabout, the shops are next to the pub.

On Mondays you might be disturbed by a little old lady hoovering and polishing. She has her own key. She's very friendly.

Richard “Holiday Inn” B