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Funny walks, phantom parcels and the root cause of multicultural meltdown February 25, 2010

Posted by normanmonkey in Friends.
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There are people who have a good lunch, a walk to clear the head or who do something unspeakably bad such as yoga at lunchtimes to get them through the afternoon in an office. For others, certainly where I work, it is watching Matt Wilcock walking around the office looking like he’s had a Richard Gere moment with a gerbil, whinging and wincing as he went, because he’d ricked his legs by doing leg weights in the gym the night before.

Even better is to set up a call from the office manager informing Wilcock that there’s a package to collect two floors down in reception and being told as he protested and pleaded (“Awww, come on, look at me!”)that HE had to sign for it. His eventual return, in what seemed like an eternity later, was greeted with all the sympathy he could’ve expected

That was 24 hours earlier. Today in Village East he went and topped it. He was actually reciting a story I’d told him about an earlier incident some weeks before involving myself and a friend in conversation with another person who made a racially offensive comment.

My friend happened to be married to a woman of that race and, with a nod back to my friend, I took told the other chap so in a deadpan manner. This caused a pained ‘Groan’, huge embarrassment and much grovelling from him. Nevertheless, sensing the discomfort of the person concerned I couldn’t wait to relay it to Wilcock who has a dark sense of humour and also reveals in the social misfortune of others. Tonight he decided to recite the story in Village East.

Unfortunately for Wilcock as he pulled the trigger by loudly repeating the offensive comment, a man and with a girlfriend of that ethnic group (Chinese, to be precise) happened to be stood behind him. Believe me, the chances were slim. Lightning had struck twice.

According to sources (for it is my great regret that i wasn’t there to witness it) The Nordic looking boyfriend (who I hope for the sake of this anecdote was built like Conan the barbarian) asked him to move away from them. Wilcock spent the next 10 minutes slumped with his head in his hands. No doubt the Nord apologised to his girlfriend explaining that Bermondsey is unfortunately an area of disaffected white working class and there are one or two unsavoury idiot types around

I consoled Matt over the phone tonight that he wasn’t to know and he’ll probably be a hero to people who call in to Talksport and a poster-boy for the BNP. He’ll be on Question Time and spat at in the street before he knows it (as opposed to being spat at by a girl in Belushi’s on Borough High).

More to the point, this thing seems to be having a sort of viral snowball effect and works like a curse. It’s already struck twice after all, and we shouldn’t take any chances.

I’m almost to afraid to repeat this anecdote and about how a guy repeating an anecdote had caused great offence in a public place because you can bet your nelly that the same thing will happen again, then a friend witnessing it will repeat the story of my embarrassment to the same effect and it’ll be an endless chain, a spark to the touchpaper resulting in a race war and the end of civilisation by Christmas.

It could be the war to end all wars: Village East as Sarajevo; Matt Wilcock as Gavrilo Princip and his mouth the bloody pistol.

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‘Dam Taxis February 19, 2010

Posted by normanmonkey in Travel.
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Amsterdam, Netherlands

Now I know why I haven’t seen a single fat Dutch person. It’s not only because they walk and cycle everywhere, but in a move towards health and efficiency, even the taxi drivers refuse to take you back to your hotel on the grounds of it being ‘walking distance’ or a ‘few blocks’.

That’s all well and good, but walking distance is subjective and I don’t get in a taxi because I have a long distance to cover. I do so because I am invariably lost, desperate, incapacitated and may have actually spent thirty minutes ruefully walking around simply to find a taxi.

Finding the way back your hotel is one of the key predicaments of Amsterdam and one that flounders on so many levels. The first is because everything looks the same – canals and identical, albeit beautiful, architecture. Last night Jack was finding his way round the city simply by virtue of labels he’d given to women displaying their wares in various windows. Hansel and Gretl had a trail out of the wood, we had Delilah, Ronnie Wood lookalike annd Pamela Anderson’s Twin (we also saw a bloke on his own whom we christened Sinister Adrian Chiles)

Today after being turned away by numerous taxi drivers, all of whom were eager to offer me instruction on my walk, I felt the bubble of elation and self-congratulation of arriving at my hotel burst by realising it wasnt my hotel at all and was thrown back to square one. Even my eventual, eye=moistening arrival back at the hotel was tinged with defeat following an incident with a revolving door that I’ll be happy not to repeat in a hurry. In this city, it is difficult to keep one’s dignity intact.

Today has been all about much needed r&r. The night on the town with jack was a modest affair by some standards, though probably a wild one according to conventional opinion from Daily Mail readers and my mother.

Some swift thought and exchange of readies with the concierge had sorted two tickets for Ajax at home to Juventus. In the 70’s Ajax was famed for it;s brand of Total Football.

That ethic has been replaced by Crazy Football – namely fans sorted into the right gate by riot police and horses, a barrage of noise, chanting and the half-time entertainment by an Old Dear in a ball dress who could’ve been Barbara Windor’s mother singing a popular folk tune (whilst being booed mercilessly) and then the main show on the PA of a Bob Marley selection and some very loud gabba that set the place off.

The football was sublime, and watching Del Piero and Diego made a change from Peter Ramage falling over his own head, but as far as I was concerned, secondary to that. In a crowd of 60,000, in typical English fashion, Jack and I appeared to be the first and only people to leave the stadium (prompting glares and filthy looks of contempt) on 82 minutes ‘to beat the rush’.

The evening we headed to the bars of the red light. Our route took us past a number of women who looked like Ronnie Wood, though mostly of a fuller figure, prompting lots of ‘Bloody hell’s’ and ‘Good god!’, so it proved to be a winning feeling to have made itback to the hotel without incident or regret.

I suppose the highlight of the trip has been actually rooted in Bermondsey and recalling the human head made of fruit that was ordered as the decorative centrepiece for an important client meeting.

Picture it’s unveiling if you will. It claimed to be focal and edible though turned out to be neither. Not that anyone had briefed for the centrepiece to be a human head made of fruit, but that’s what we got and I think Cow is better for it.

Now, believe it or not, I need to get a taxi

Blog abandoned due to worklogged week February 17, 2010

Posted by normanmonkey in QPR.
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Where once there was expectation and optimism in the array of talent at our disposal, it takes a torrent of rain and an abandonment to lift the mood when arriving at White City tube before a QPR match the days.

The good mood was buoyed by the realisation that the W12 restaurant and bar was still going to be open for the duration. This, in turn, meaning we wouldn’t have to leave the warmth, comfort and waitress service of vino and edibles to spend an interminable time watching young men who earn the average annual wage in just a fortnight fall over themselves and scream at a team mate as the opposition interrupted their latest spit roast to tap the ball into the net whilst laughing.

Louise the Vegan obviously couldn’t eat meat nor dairy so consumed all the available gravadlax West London (and I include Acton in that) had to offer. Yes, that famous dairy free vegetable gravadlax. As grown in on Scottish shores near the salmon farms. Life is full of so many contradictions these days (obese people in sportswear, someone with John Terry’s face being the subject of a national sex scandal etc) that I’m happy not to ask.

It was her first football match, but she doesn’t know what fate she was had been led to nor her reprieve – a bit like a Christian in Ancient Rome shackled on their way to the Colosseum declaring ‘Ooh, I’ve never been to one of these lion shows before!’.

A night at the Rangers is hardly Roy of the Rovers or the stuff you see packaged up for public consumption by producers with degrees in Film Studies and Propaganda at Sky.

Here it’s all vitriol, bitterness, despair. At present you are far more liable to be pounced on for smiling or witness Dads beating their hapless, shivering offspring for clapping a bad pass in what was intended as a pacifying act to win his approval than witness a goal.

This, of course, is the phlegm soaked reality at most football grounds. Men on their uppers, shabby shoes, broken noses, beaten down by a lifetime of endless failure and hotdogs that are liable to bite back. You can see it in their eyes. These are the guys who got the wrong number, the wrong woman and the wrong team. It doesn’t make for a good atmosphere when their side are 2-0 down after 25 minutes and temperatures hovering around zero in the stands.

Meanwhile, Matt Wilcock, who is showing all my tendencies at a young age, was ensconced in the W12 making mischievous gestures and inappropriate comments at the side of his mouth that provoked mirth but would most definitely have him strung up by News of the World readers had anyone else picked up his signal.

Tomorrow Amsterdam beckons with work. There’s a city that’s been known to take no prisoners. I’m taking a day off after a day-long meeting on Thursday so fellow-Cow Jack Clothier and I intend to hit the town. I don’t mind admitting that provokes an intake of breath. He’s up for a big one, considerably younger than me and mentioned going through the night. In a contest of experience over youthful exuberance there’s hope I may come out of it relatively unscathed, but stats and appearances don’t stack in my favour.

With full blond beard, long blond hair and a manly girth that has seen off many an ale that thought it couldn’t be beaten, he looks like a viking short of a pillage. With every intention to do the trip in style, I asked Jack where he intended staying and he repled ‘The hostel’.

I’ve insisted upon booking a five star hotel in one of the better rooms for us both and we’ll do it properly. Choosing was not diffifult. Any management who offer the likes of Clothier and I a complimentary mini-bar are to be both lauded and reprimanded at the same time. Are they mad? I Keith Moon, he John Bonham. The last of the rock and roll Titans unleashed. Amsterdam watch out!

That or we’ll sat in some bar with football pendants listening to reggae, stagger around like every other hopeless idiot saying ‘Wahey’ a lot, get mugged and one of us will end up fished out of the canal in tears.

This is the first entry for a while and can only apologise to the solitary person who contacted me to complain for not having installed earlier. It comes down to this: in the last seven days there has been nothing but long working hours, commuting, gym, fatigue, sleep, and parading around a London Bridge flat with fellow colleagues and all wearing crash helmets.

All that combined or the latter alone should be sufficient explanation and if not heaven knows what is.

Coffin and wheezing February 8, 2010

Posted by normanmonkey in Food, Friends.
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So much for a return to personal training. One session on Friday rendered me handicapped by Sunday as my arms seized up to the extent I would’ve not even made a convincing cast member of Thunderbirds This was unfortunate as my friend Lucie was coming over to West Byfleet for Sunday lunch.

She’s not been having the best of times and hasn’t so much been burning the candle at both ends but thrown it on the incinerator. Only the other morning she was walking down the road and saw something padded and enticing in the corner of her eye in a shop window and thought ‘Ooh, that looks comfy, I could settle in that’. Upon further inspection it transpires her eyes had been drawn to a coffin at a funeral directors.

Yet, instead of being looked after, Lulu had to adopt the role of nurse, especially after my driving for 15 minutes meant my arms had locked into an outreaching position and I entered the Running Mare in Cobham like an unlubricated robot, also requiring assistance removing my coat (and putting it back on when I required a cigarette).

However, she did concur that the pub does the best Sunday roast bar none (a mixed roast of lamb, pork and beef with home made potatoes and Yorkshire pudding is a rare find and to be celebrated), even if it did also involve performing arm stretches for me across the dining table, resulting in the occasional agonised scream from me and offended stares from other patrons.

So much for personal training. Another few sessions like that and I’ll be in that coffin and it won’t be for a snooze.*

*My personal trainer has just contacted to tell me that I’ve got microtrauma, stop whinging and it’s a good thing. Could’ve fooled me. Since when was any form of trauma a good thing? Trauma was me being trapped in the gents cubicle in the pub when it stuck and having to hold part of the lock and do the twist with my body because there was no strength in my arms

Rolanda, Mayor of Bucket February 5, 2010

Posted by normanmonkey in Blogging and social media, Friends.
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According to academic research in the news this week the internet and social media is actually a cause of depression. Just the mere thought of Foursquare (which sounds uncannily like the useless piece of flesh at the end of a penis) depresses me without even having to go on it, so I concur. The internet is now clogged-up with people in sensible shoes selflessly updating us on their latest frapuccino and fajita discoveries. Who said the age of exploration and new frontiers was dead. Bully for them. I really do mean that. A bully for them. Please.

The huge issue we face is that the world is largely populated by idiots with unspeakably bad taste. Anyone with any sense of style has discretion. If you should happen upon some refuge from the blathering masses the last thing one wants to do is share it so they can clutter up the space telling even more idiots to come and join in the scrum.

A first and last visit to Foursquare lasted no more than ten seconds. Being informed that someone called Jeff in Beaverton (I kid you not) had unlocked the Bender badge told me all I needed to know. If the research is proven to be true it’s only a matter of time before we get endorsements of padded cells and suicide spots and I defy anyone to become Mayor of Beachey Head.

Far more interesting are real people who have greater depth than becoming the Sheriff of Nandos in Uxbridge. I know at least a dozen Presidents of Village East but we don’t go round shouting about it (though I concede Wilcock and Gloria may go around shouting in it) . Nor do we feel the need to proclaim that we are in Belushi’s on Borough High St. Really, we don’t. Like life in Wolverhampton, it shouldn’t happen but it does. It did last night and I don’t see myself becoming a Sheriff of that establishment – not even with the temptation of Dane Bowers DJ’ing there in a fortnight. Actually, that could be worth seeing. Not hearing, but definitely seeing.

It was here a newly single and excitable colleague was chatting up a bewildered American tourist at the end of a lively Cow PR bonding session (which included a group rendition of Glitter’s ‘I’m the Leader of the Gang’ on Bermondsey High St). Having avoided any offer of B52’s and tequila slammers due to a meeting this morning with a Trinidadian chef, I was in a far better position that most and was surprised when he responded to my question of how it was going by his reply that he couldn’t see her. ‘What do you mean?’ I asked. ‘I mean I can’t see!’ he replied. If there’s beer goggles, then he had the slammer shades.

The same colleague mentioned matter of factly earlier in the week as I was trying to write a new biz document ‘I had a pet rat at university…it lived in a KFC bucket…its name was Rolanda’. Where do you go from there? And, more to the point, did Rolanda update her status to become Mayor?

In need of looking after February 1, 2010

Posted by normanmonkey in Single London.
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Today a colleague whose husband is an astrologer asked for my birth details and forwarded them on. It turns out that, as an Aries born on March 26 at 5am, I’m stubborn, outspoken and in need of looking after. As much as there desire to dispute astrology, the runes, tea leaves, coffee dregs and fag ash patterns, it’s difficult to do so. Women have been saying it to me for years.

Recently, my eight year old goddaughter, Jessica, when informed of my duties as a godparent to step in to raise her and tutor her in the ways of righteousness looked appalled and responded, ‘But you can’t even look after yourself!’. Call that female intuition. Years ago at a previous PR agency, in my days as an account exec, I was voted by the women there as the person they’d most like to mother. Not sleep with. Mother. The boy they help get across the road and read a bedtime story to to prevent me having nightmares (finding myself living in the Midlands is a recurring one). It’s a start I suppose but they obviously aren’t well versed in the Oedipal complex.

Shuffling around Waitrose tonight with the ingredients of a chilli con carne for one and a bottle of Valpolicella (also for one – there simply isn’t enough to share) there was the pertinent reminder that it is Valentine’s Day in a fortnight. Teddy bears clutching hearts with surgical precision like a scene from Holby City, chocolates and rather a lot of pink going on.

For the first time in five or six years it’s the first one I find myself single and I’m hugely thankful for it. Certainly the gym and swimming pool with be quiet on the 14th and you can be sure there will be many a discarded tear-soaked teddy in the gutter, most likely minus the heart from its outstretched arms, all over town come the 15th.

Recently there seems to be a desire on other people’s part to pair me off and set me up like a piece of livestock. That is like handing some poor girl a grenade and pulling out the pin. I wouldn’t wish that on anybody. Relationships make me tense up and I’d be permanently ensconced in Village East in order to avoid nights at the theatre, gallery visits and other aesthetic moments. I’m sure there’s someone out there for me somewhere who I’m compatible with but at this present time they are less likely on the West Byfleet – Waterloo train or Village East and more likely in The Priory

So you don’t need to study the stars that have been drifting in the ether for billions of years. Simply ask the exes, they’ve only been around for a couple of decades but they are far more accurate. And that;s the annoying thing about almost all women – they have a far better grip on reality and are almost always right.