Thursday, August 26, 2010


On meeting a casual acquaintance in the beer garden:

Me: "Hi there, how's it going?"
Acquaintance: "Surviving."


What's that supposed to mean?

You've decided existence is meaningless and are only taking on enough sustenance to fend off death?
You're being hunted by hitmen, and move to a different safe house each night?
You have a potentially fatal illness and you take a cocktail of 32 different drugs up your arse every morning, just to get out of bed?
You were the only survivor of a coach crash on the M2, and watched all the other passengers,including your wife, burn to screaming death in front of your eyes as you battled to drag her to safety before you were beaten back from the flames, smouldering and weeping?
You were filmed on CCTV shutting a cat in a bin?

Seriously, help me out here!

I don't know you very well and your body language isn't telling me much.

Am I supposed to reply with a wry chuckle and say "Oh, tell me about it! Still, worse things happen in China!"

Or am I supposed to put a comforting arm around you and state meaningfully, "There there. I'm here for you. It's OK to cry. It's natural."

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Meeting a famous Australian

I was having dinner in the all-you-eat restaurant at the Sunshine Plaza.

I went up and got Vietnamese pork and roast spuds and gravy.

I could feel this bloke eyeing me from the next table, out of the corner of my eye. Suddenly he leans over and takes a handful of potatoes off my plate and transfers them to his and starts eating them.

'Hey' I said 'What's all this about buddy?'

I looked over at him. He seemed familiar.

'Don't I know you from somewhere?'

'Hi,' he replied. 'I'm Rhyce Shaw. I play for the Collingwood Magpies. I'm the son of former captain Ray Shaw, and brother of Heath Shaw. I'm also the nephew of premiership captain and Norm Smith Medallist, Tony Shaw and former Collingwood player Neville Shaw. My cousin, Brayden (son of Tony) was drafted to Collingwood, but failed to play a game before being delisted in 2005.

'Pleased to meet you,' he said, extending his hand.

I shook his hand warily and said, 'Why did you steal my spuds Rhyce? You've knocked half of them off my plate and spilt my gravy all over the table.'

'Sorry about that,' he said, eyeing the floor. 'I guess I was just hungry.'

'Rhyce mate, it's all you can eat! You've got your own plate! Didn't you pay your $10 at the door?'

'Yeah I did' said Rhyce. 'But you got the last of the roast spuds at the buffet table. And when I asked the waitress, she said it would be 10 minutes before the kitchen cooked some more.'

'Christ mate! Where's your self-control?' I spluttered. 'You could have had chips instead!'

Rhyce smiled shyly, still looking at the floor.

'Don't like chips, only roasties' he said quietly, shuffling his feet.

'Alright Rhyce, you have the roasties,' I sighed. 'And I'll have the chips.'

I got up and filled my plate.

When I returned, he'd gone to a different part of the restaurant. It looked like he'd stolen a piece of cheesecake off a little girl's plate and she was crying. Her dad was yelling at Rhyce and he was staring at the floor.

Later, I saw him put about $50 into one of those glass-fronted machines with the grabber arms, he was trying to win a stuffed Tasmanian Devil toy.

Unwanted Rescue

As mentioned in a previous entry, I've been doing a lot of sea swimming.

And having kept it up all summer, I'm now what is referred to as a 'strong swimmer.' I was out on one of my regular routes the other day, out to the buoy at the mouth of Ballyholme Bay, over to the edge of the reef at Ballmacormick Point and back to shore,
in triangular fashion.

The whole journey is about a kilometre and a bit and takes me about an hour.

As I was nearing the beach on my return, I could see a big orange speedboat heading straight for me from the west, out of the corner of my eye. I thought it might be one of the rib-boats the yacht club uses to lay its buoys, but my worst fears were confirmed as it closed on me.

It was filled with around a dozen serious-faced folks in yellow helmets and fluorescent life jackets. They were obviously bent on intercepting me.

Some bastid fool had called the Coastguard.

They came to a halt about ten foot away and bobbed in the water. The one at the prow took off her helmet and yelled "Are you alright?"

By this stage, I was nearly back at shore and swimming in about three feet of water. So I stood stock upright on my hind legs from the waves and answered,

"Yeah, I'm alright."

"It's just someone rang us about you, they said they lost sight of you in the water."

"I'm not in any trouble," I replied.

I think that was obvious.

I apologised profusely for wasting their time and putting them to this bother.

'Oh no no no,' she assured me. 'Better to be safe than sorry.'

Then the lifeguards sat in the boat with the engine idling.

I stood in the water.

For some little time.

To break the awkwardness, I said my goodbyes and swam back to shore.

They turned their craft around and sped off in the direction of Bangor.

At the beach, two more coastguards were waiting for me. They were middle aged, portly fellows who didn't look like they'd be much use at striding into the surf and plucking drownees to safety.

Once again, I was very apologetic, and once again they said no harm done, better safe than sorry, blah blah blah.

One produced a notepad and took my name, address and phone number. In retrospect, I should have told him to eff away off, but I meekly volunteered this information. Fool that I am.

Then they gave me their number. They told me to ring them EVERY TIME I go in and out of the water.

'Every time?' I queried.


Every beach?'

'Yes. Just to be on the safe side,' they said.

Well, I took the number and lost it. I'm not ringing them every time I go in and out of the water! It's still a free country, innit? We may as well chisel caves out of the White Cliffs of Dover and let the Talibans camp there like bearded puffins.

As I made my way home, an old man beckoned me over. He told me I'd drowned in the sea three months previous.

He'd seen it all: I'd suffered some sort of attack in the water and sank beneath the waves; a man in a kayak reached me and dragged me to shore, but too late; the ambulance crew arrived quickly but their efforts were in vain. He'd even seen my family scatter my ashes there, some days afterwards.

'That's why those people lost sight of you,' he said. 'You're a ghost now. Insubstantial. You blend in and out of the white surf and it scares people.

'Those weren't coastguard, they weren spirit watchers. They're here to keep an eye on you. They want you to stop going in the water and frightening the living.'

'Are you a spirit too?' I asked.

'I died the day I was born,' he laughed. 'I was a baby komodo dragon that got eaten by a seabird. It's taken me four thousand years to evolve into this form.'

'But you've evolved much quicker.'

Food for thought. I flew home, eating a starling I caught on the way.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Arsenal's Samir Nasri faces one month out after cheese incident

<span class=Samir Nasri in action for Arsenal at Liverpool.

Arsenal midfielder Samir Nasri has been ruled out for a month after eating ten kilograms of Red Leicester cheese in one sitting.

The 23-year-old Frenchman, who missed the first part of last season with a broken leg, was eating the snack while watching the movie 'Bladerunner' last Sunday evening.

It is understood that he became so engrossed in the action that he accidentally munched his way through ten kilograms of cheese.

Aresenal club doctor Paul Coughcoughcough estimates that it could take one month for the dairy produce to exit the midfielder's system.

'We knew Samir has a problem with this foodstuff,' a club spokesman confirmed. 'We are feeding him castor oil and monitoring the situation.'

It comes on the back of the Gunners being without midfielder Cesc Fabregas for that match because he is recreating the Battle of Bunker Hill in miniature figurines with some men he met online.

Meanwhile, Arsenal have been hit by an outbreak of self-absorbed existentialism.

Alex Song can't be bothered, Denilson doubts the relevance of football with so much suffering in the world and Aaron Ramsey wonders whether any further physical action is appropriate as all existence is futile.

Nasri, who missed out on a place in France's World Cup squad in the summer but played in the recent friendly against Norway, joined Arsenal when he parachuted into a game during the warm-up.


He signed papers immediately and scored after only four minutes of his airborne arrival in the stadium for the Gunners. He became a key player in his first season at the club, during which he made 44 appearances.

But his 2009-2010 campaign was almost over before it began after he became invisible and no-one could see him.

His latest injury could see him ruled out the start of Arsenal's Champions League campaign and also France's Euro 2012 qualifiers against Belarus and The Nation Of Sea Lions.

To the woman abusing the Romanian 'Big Issue' seller

To the woman abusing the Romanian 'Big Issue' seller on Bangor Main Street:

The woman who looked like a more masculine version of Shirley from 'Eastenders.'

The one who had the dyed red hair and the fag dripping from her mouth who berated the poor girl for ages calling her 'horrible' and 'disgusting' and that she should 'get back to her own country.'

Well, I've chatted to her and she's not horrible. She seems pretty dead on to me. I know who is horrible.

Not that I give money to the Romanian Big Issue sellers. As my friend DW said, being long term unemployed is their job. As is selling the Big Issue. Or 'Big Issues', as DW says they don't sell the official magazine.

They've been there for years now, day in and day out. Each girl/lady has her own pitch. At the end of the day, they pool their money, buy groceries and head back up to Belfast on the train. I think they live in Botanic.

OK, I admit I give them money sometimes, at Christmas or when it's raining. But it seems like a shiteful job to me. They must earn less than the minimum wage. They have to put up with dogs' abuse from many lovely charming Bangorians, the intelligentsia of the suburbs. And it must be boring and cold sitting there all day. I wonder if they have considered getting a proper job? Surely there must be something better paid & easier for them to do.

Anyway, I am magical now and can transform myself into a giant eagle. So I went behind the shops and metamorphosed into this graceful hawk, and flew up above Main Street. Then I swooped down and picked up the abusive woman in my claws. I was so quick no-one saw.

She screamed for me to put her down. I told her I would if she agreed not to be a racist.

She said she would stop being a racist and I let her down gently in Ward Park. But because I'm a magical eagle, I could see inside her heart. She was still racist.

So I caught her again and took her into a high conifer. I plucked her skin and bones with my talons and beak and ate her. I ate her all up but spat her bones beneath the tree. The police have begun an investigation but are baffled.

She wasn't very tasty. Nasty people never are.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Valse efter tor lohne Pt1

Restaurant Review: Red Panda

I ate out last night at the Red Panda, and thoroughly enjoyed it, despite being surrounded by people and staff.

When we got there it was packed to the gills, so they sent us to the bar and told us to hang tight for ten. But they called us back in five.

We had no starters. There was soup and that, if you like starters.

I had beef in oyster sauce. A bit bland in truth, I was scared off the Sizzling Szechaun Beef as it was described as 'very hot and spicy' in the menu. I should have taken it. My beef would have been better with a bit of mustard and some bread, for to make a sandwich. The sauce was nothingy.

The egg fried rice was good, but was £2.50 extra. I think they should include it for free, but it's a dog eat dog world. Hardest business in the world, the restaurant trade.

Vegetables were included. Stir fried tiny corn and beans and beansprouts. It was crunchy but I like that. You don't want soggy old vegetables, not while your teeth are healthy.

Three tattooed, scowling bald headed men in light coloured polo shirts & jeans sat on one table to the next of me. They barely spoke to each other. They were drinking Tiger lager.

A bloke with a terrible stutter was on the other side, he elongated his words so every sentence took a minute. Such as, to give you an example, instead of saying 'Dinner' he said 'DDDDDIIIIINNNNNNEEEEERRR.' I didn't mind. If anything, I enjoyed it. Life's rich tapestry and that.

His girlfriend/companion was pretty quiet. My mum said she was older than him but I didn't crane my neck to look.

They were all eating fatty red pork. It looked lovely. I was tempted to ask if I could have some, or thieve it. I'll get that next time. There was heaps of it.

I drank one Guinness, one Tennants and one Irish Coffee. They filled the coffee with whiskey, I was a bit tipsy by the end.

My companion (my mum) had some awful caramelised prawn shite, the sort of confectionery-based, over sweet sauce she favours in such establishments. Prawns in sugary goo, it was called. Probably.

She had three scoops of soft-served ice cream for dessert like a big wain. But it looked good. She also had a straw made from biscuits. She ate that first.

I didn't have dessert. What's the point of dessert? You never really enjoy it, you just feel guilty for being such a glutton guts. I said that to the waitress but she just smiled.

I left a £5 tip and took a little mint from a dish.

The toilets were OK, quiet enough and clean. Bit dark though.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Alex Higgins' Funeral

I couldn't decide whether to go to Alex Higgins funeral or not.
It's not as if I knew him or particularly liked his public persona.
So I dithered and left it too late.
So instead of heading to Alex Higgins funeral, I've been to the butchers and bought fourteen rashers of streaky bacon and half a pint of cream. It's for a quiche lorraine. Some bacon will be left, for sandwiches.
Then I'm off to Marks and Spencers. I'm picking up two pairs of Leather Whip Stitch Brown Loafers I ordered online. They didn't have size 9 1/2 so I bought a pair in size 9 and a pair in size 10. Hopefully one will fit and I'll get a refund on the other. I'll try them on in the shop.
I'm also picking up a checked shirt for my brother.
Oh, and I'll drop off my latest entry for the HMV competition in the local paper. Every week they offer £15 worth of vouchers, and no-one else must enter because I've won two out of the last three weeks.
I put my entry on a 'Princess Diana Queen of Hearts' postcard every week, but this will be my last one as I've run out. I got a load of cards free years ago with the Belfast Telegraph. They've proved lucky. She's cradling a little African AIDS victim in this one. Last week she was getting married in a horse wagon.
I just bought some new postcards on Ebay. They're artistic black and white tourist board photos for the British Isles. They were taken by a Swede.
It's what Alex Higgins would have wanted.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Lord Jebus came to me

Lord Jebus came to me.

He said 'Son, when you were eighteen years old you were as horny as a dog with two dicks. But I cursed you. Even though you were attractive enough to some girls, I made you tongue-tied and awkward. So if you ever came close to any women you became a crimson-faced blubbering mess.'

'True, Lord Jebus,' I replied. 'But now that I am thirty six years old you have cursed me again. For now I am still attractive to some women, indeed more women than I used to be. For now I am big and strong, and have a way about me. I am not like most other men. And let's face it Lord, women of my age group can hardly afford to be choosy.'

'True, my son' said Lord Jebus. 'And since I am Lord Jebus, I know what you are going to say next. Let me save your tongue and say it for you.

'Even though you are more attractive to the opposite sex, I have cursed you by taking away one quarter of your sex drive. And you have taken away another two quarters with all the drink and drugs.

'And then I have cursed you with the dawning realisation that sleeping with strange women doesn't make you any happier in the long run. You'd rather be home watching an extended version of 'Have I Got News for You,' even though you feel like you should be doing something else on a Saturday night.'

'Except on that one Saturday in five when you have a raging bone-on.'

'True, true Lord Jebus,' I admitted. 'But now that you've shown me this desire for strange women is hollow, why can't you take away my desire for strong drink?'

'I can't do that,' laughed Lord Jebus. 'I need to answer the prayers of the publicans and victuallers too, you know!'