Sunday, 18 October 2009

Saves the day!

"Did you see the telly program last night?"

Idiot groans silently and wishes for another call to come through. Quickly.

"Oh my god! The man, when he said the words! I couldn't stop laughing!"

"Oh, I know! How awful for the girl though, when she did that thing, and the thing happened... how embarrassing..."

“Aw, yeah, the state of her thing after the thing was thinging…”

Half past four on a Thursday afternoon, Idiot checks his phone one more time – perhaps it’s on hold – no. Pity. To Idiot’s right, there’s a short, youngish girl with tightly pulled back hair, applying make-up into a small handheld mirror. Emma. She says something loudly back into the group of chatter behind. It comes out like a lawnmower, ‘RAA RAA RAA RAA!’ and gets lost in the whoops and cackles.

A hand pushes Idiot’s shoulder. Twice. It’s Mike, a tall, pale Scottish feller with a tiny head.

”What about you, eh? You see it last night?”

He’s only trying to be nice.

“Sorry, no, ‘fraid not.”

“Ach, man, it was facking hilarious, the girl she had these huge…” Or something.

Idiot raises his eyebrows, smiles, shrugs and says “heh” at all the right places, until Mike says something about ‘getting one for my car’, and turns back to the group. Not before slapping Idiot on the back. Idiot closes his eyes and breathes.

A quick check of the stats-board says that there have been 63 calls today. Now between 14 people, if you have the time to work it out, which you will, means that on average you will have received 4 and a half calls. In 6 hours. With each call lasting no more than 5 minutes. Idiot picks up his red biro and gets back to work on ‘Seven Stages of Man’, a scientific diagram, depicting a tall man growing ever twisted and decrepit with each step, culminating in a lonely, limbless torso lying naked on the floor, straining helplessly up towards a ringing phone. Idiot smiles each time he reaches this point in the drawing. Today, however, to mix it up a little, the torso is on some bathroom tiles, teeth pulling at a towel hanging from a door handle. It must be getting close to 5 o’clock now. And then only an hour.

From across the room comes a gargled call for Idiot to come for ‘a word’.

Michelle. Team Leader. A humourless oaf. One which qualifies each sentence with a ‘just kidding’, and a lower jaw so wide and aggressive you feel like you need to jump at it and strap it down, just to say that you have - and then perhaps put on a baseball cap and have your picture taken with it. Thumbs up.

Idiot looks up and Michelle gives a smile that involves too much of the nose than a smile should.

“Now, we really like the emails you send to the customers, we really love them, we do. They’re really personable and funny and helpful… and really in the ‘kooky’ spirit of the company, y’know? But perhaps we should maybe stick to the templates now?”

”Right” says Idiot, and waits a few seconds for Michelle to continue or elaborate. Nothing.

“Ah, sorry, did I go over the top on that one about the thermostat?”

“No, no, of course not, we’ve really enjoyed your emails, they’re really personable and funny and helpful… and y’know…. Sometimes we just feel that making things clear and simple usually works best. That sound ok?”

“Can I borrow your pen for a moment?”

”I said, are you ok with that?”

”Sure, can I just borrow your –“

Idiot stands suddenly, lifting his desk, and in one movement, lets out a sort of squeak and attempts to throw the desk at Michelle. The contents scatter and the desk barely tips over, but it makes enough of a racket for the room to turn around and Emma to try and grab Idiot’s arm.

“What the he –“

Idiot twists and shakes free of Emma’s grip, and with his left hand takes a hole-puncher and swings it blindly at Emma’s head. Not satisfied with it just glancing her brow, Idiot swings again and this time breaks her nose. From behind, Mike grabs Idiot and lifts him off his feet, but not wanting to miss his chance, Idiot takes one last kick at Emma and misses by inches. Not to worry, blood is already pouring from her crooked nose, all over her stupid stripy shirt. Legs in the air, Idiot gets a footing on a desk edge and launches himself backwards, sending he and Mike into a grey filing cabinet. The sharp steel corner finds a place in Mike’s spine and sends him straight to the carpet. People are running from the room now, crying and frantically piling out into the corridor and Idiot spots Michelle almost at the door. She looks back just in time to see Idiot throw a stapler at her head. The stapler - unfortunately - misses, but instead smashes into the frame of the door spraying staples into her face and eyes. Michelle lurches through the door screaming and coughing, clawing at her bloody face and stumbles to her knees.

The sky is beginning to darken into browns and purples and there’s a few spots of rain coming down now. Idiot sucks some cold air into his lungs and holds it for a few seconds. There’s no one around, just piles of golden brown leaves whispering their way up the side of the bus stop. The wind plays with Idiot’s hair and pulls his eyes towards a small single-deck bus turning on to the road, Idiot pulls his mobile phone from his bag and begins writing a text. ‘Finished early today honey, home soon. I love u x’. The bus pulls in and Idiot climbs onboard, says hello to the driver, and smiles.


On this occasion, I have been mostly drinking a Shiraz from Southern France.

It was quite lovely!

Friday, 18 September 2009

Wine is a Real Pain.

No sooner had I got into wine, did my nose pack in. A cruel fate indeed to have a nose like mine. I sometimes wish I'd never gotten into wine at all. There, I said it. Obviously each time I think this, I am wrong, but it goes some way to show just anguished I am in this situation.

My own fault of course. Substance abuse y'see. Just in this instance, my substance was Otrivine Nasal Decongestant.

My first time it felt so good. So good. For some time, the only way I could get a full nose of air was by pushing up the tip of my nose to look like a pig-snout, either by hand, by sellotape or by wife. And I had to wait for her to go to sleep for that. I'm not sure how it had gotten quite so blocked - apparently often caused by misgrowth or trauma or just sheer bad vibes. Man. Either way, I'd sort of had enough. Not enough to go to the doctors or speak to anyone at all, but enough to squirt dangerous chemicals up there. Why not? So my first snort of Otrivine.

We fast forward probably two years and I'm steaming through a bottle every couple of days. My inner nasal wallpaper stripped down to plasterboarding, and the Rebound Effect swelling that plasterboarding back up within minutes of each spray. Hooray Henry.

I'm clean now though. But what I'm left with is something more horrific, more devastating and frankly just more disappointing than you ever could have dreamt. Every glass of wine you have now, you can physically feel your nose and sinuses begin to beat and swell. I don't know what it is. Especially the red. The tannins and general thick beauty of each glass just manage to suck all remaining moisture from your nose, and leave it like a crap air-bed showroom (kingsize), in your cousin's dark and miserable attic. If there was a god, which there isn't, I could easily begin to resent the man. And his little dog too.

Tonight though, I'm trying this nice wee Bardolino from the shop down the street. It was hidden away from the main selection of wine, obviously a sign of something special. Where better to display your best wine than on a wooden bookshelf usually displaying Quavers and cat food? Nowhere better is the answer. And the price? £2.99, with the numbers glaring at you in pink marker from the off-yellow paper. Blu-tacked to the shelf I might add.

The wine, it's really really good. A rubber cork and ruby red. It's dry and soft and without any hint of the acid, off-tang that often accompanies such price brackets. I think I may have found a one to keep hold of. I've seen it in the shop before but never gone for it. The label all sunburn orange with swirling dark hills, it wouldn't look out of place in that wine whore Marks's - something we all aspire to.

Even though I know almost nothing about these things, I think you can almost tell it's a massively mixed bag of grapes. It rolls down really easily without an awful lot of fuss and you can just about taste some sort of fruit floralness before it disappears in nothingness. But it's good, perhaps some seasoning wouldn't go amiss, bit o' salt and pepper, but I'm definite I will grab it again if it's still hiding amongst the pig snacks next time.

We don't have a digital camera so I've scanned the bottle in instead. This is much better. Arty.

My nose ain't good for much, but I'll be damned if it can't still sniff out a bargain.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Paper Bag Waiter

Ah, a blog about wine.

I'm going to be writing about wine. Real wine. None of your Supermarket Wine, or your Wrapped in Lilac Tissue Paper From Oddbins Wine. Not even your Half Price From the Garage Wine. I want to write about the holy grail of lonely evenings and bored mornings, Cornershop Wine.

Cornershop Wine is a wonderful thing, so mysterious yet so alluring. I've always found expensive wine stressful, the umm-ing and aah-ing of which to choose, the "Oh God it's so expensive, but it's bound to be great, this one has a lovely colour-scheme on the label, they must have had a good design team, if I just buy this Cabernet I'm gonna get laughed out of the shop, they're probably talking about me now, in French, I wish I could speak another language, they always said I had good potential in French class, I just never pushed myself, I never push myself at anything, I wish I had passion, why don't I have passion, I'm weird and odd looking, freakishly tall and yellow yet can't even talk about a serious issue without cracking a joke or cracking up, I should at least have a fucking passion, I'll just get the Cabernet."

It's not worth it.

And what's more, is that when you finally do get your beautiful, expensive wine home and slip a little bit onto your tongue, it's great. It's really great. But you knew it was going to be great, it was £10.98. You knew it. There's little acidity, full tasting berries and chocolates, just like it said on the label. Lovely.

But there's no challenge, no thrill of chase, alarms or surprises etc. It's like browsing Amazon and reading the reviews of each album, listening to the samples and clicking through to your email confirmation. It just doesn't seem as fulfilling as pawing through a box of second hand records and pulling out a daft old Chimney Sweep covers album for £1.99 and giving it go. It's probably going to be rubbish, it is called 'Soot Yourself' after all, but it's satisfying.

Cornershop Wine forever walks that fine line between brilliance and stomach ache. Especially the cheap stuff. Oh, cheap stuff, how you taunt me! You can barely read the label, no-one can! So no chance of any finely stubbled bow-tie coming up to you and pronouncing loudly, the grape type and its qualities, alerting all and sundry to just how out of your depth you are. Just you. And four other baggy-eyed types circling the '2 for £5' basket.

I think these writings will concentrate solely on this end of the Fine Wine spectrum. The £2.99 or 2 for £5 price bracket. Most often, these will be horrendous and tart enough to turn the roof of your mouth into velcro, and very much a last ditch attempt at hitting that pissed satisfaction threshold. But sometimes, not often, in fact not at all, they turn out to be something quite wonderful. And this is when you can pull that 10 pound note out, and blow it on a couple of lost days of satisfaction.

A quote:

"Well, to be honest, after years of smoking and drinking, you do sometimes look at yourself and think...You know, just sometimes, in between the first cigarette with coffee in the morning to that four hundredth glass of cornershop piss at 3am, you do sometimes look at yourself and think...this is fantastic. I'm in heaven."
Bernard Black