Mad MWF: The Road Warrior

The M5 slowed to a crawl as the cars filtered into the inside lane to pass a lorry standing still in the middle lane. In the outside lane was a car facing the wrong way, the driver side of the bonnet mangled, showing the cause of the delay.

Truck vs car.

Luckily all seemed unhurt and two other cars had stopped to help set up those high viz emergency triangle things.

We drove by and moved back into the middle lane, overtaking a black car on the inside.

The driver, a young bloke in his early twenties was on his phone. Not talking but actually typing on his phone as his passenger dozed next to him.

“That guy’s on his phone.” I commented. 

“What?” Asked MWF.

“That guy is using his phone. And we’ve literally just passed an acc-”

The rest of the sentence was drowned out by a loud blaring horn. The texting driver looked up in shock, his passenger jolted awake, startled and confused.

“GET OFF YOUR PHONE! YOU IDIOT!” Roared MWF.

That should have been it. Admonished for his wrongdoing, the driver should have put down his phone and thanked his lucky stars that we weren’t cops who would have handed him 6 points and a £1000 fine. 

But it wasn’t. Using the phone might have been a one off but he was about to prove that he was a bad driver.

He gunned after us, tailgating before overtaking and cutting us up.

It was a pathetic display of the male ego hurt, with the moron unable to accept he had been called out for doing something criminal and possibly dangerous. He doubled down on the danger by putting others at risk in what was clearly intended as intimidation.

And he wasn’t done.

Coming up to a junction he moved into the inside lane and we were passing alongside to carry on. As we were passing he swerved towards us and then took his turning heading for Penshore.

It’s a shame none of us got his number plate, but one hopes karma finds him and next time he uses his phone a copper spots him. 

It seems like him losing his licence would be the best outcome, as he clearly lacks the patience and maturity to handle the responsibility of driving. His pride hurt his response was to become more reckless and stupid.

Don’t be a dick at the wheel, someone could get hurt.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


One Man’s Treasure

I worked in a pawn shop for a couple of months. It was grim. My boss was an utter wanker, the days were long and tedious, and there was a constant stream of depressed looking “customers”.

The boss would buy stuff off people who were in desperate need of some cash, and if they didn’t buy it back within a month he would sell it on, making a profit.

We took a lot of stuff and most was generic stuff that nobody could form sentimental attachments with- TVs, kitchen appliances and so on. 

Others were a bit more personal and therefore more depressing. It’s hard not to be moved by the fact someone had to pawn their kid’s bike or their engagement ring just for some quick cash.

I found musical instruments fitted into this category. An untouched, unplayed guitar or keyboard has a forlorn air about them. They hint at potential unrealised or a dreams abandoned. Someone bought that guitar with aspirations and ambition, but those were abandoned because they were short on rent or needed to buy food. 

The guitars didn’t get plucked. Nobody shredded a mind blowing solo on them. They didn’t even gently weep. They just stood there, silent and untouched until the boss nagged at us to clean them.

Of course, they would get sold on. There was always some new dreamer who’d stroll in and rescue them, giving them another chance at musical glory.

But I saw one recently that I doubt will shift. I’d strolled into a shop in Barry for a new old game to replace FIFA as my obsession. About to leave I looked at a wall of guitars.

One stood out. It was unique to say the least.

Good sticker positioning.

It was so different and individual, and delightfully tacky.

MWF disagrees, seeing it as awful whereas I think that it’s one of those occasions where some thing’s badness is the charm. 

I quickly formed an image of the previous owner. I imagined that they were into ’80s and ’70s rock in a big way. This had probably played a Scorpions song or two, or some Van Halen riffs.

I was surprised that the store had bought it, unless they thought the guy (99% sure it would be a guy) would come back for it. They can’t have expected to sell it on.

I mean, it’s so different that the chance of finding someone else who will pick this one is slim. Tastes differ and I imagine this wouldn’t be to everyone’s.

A kid wanting to be the new Ed Sheeran won’t want something like that. A guy who plays in a wedding band will pass it over. No, this is an instrument which will only appeal to a select few. 

I went back in a short while later, and it’s still there. Part of me wants to keep going in to check on it. I imagine it will be there for a while until another hair metal fan wanders in and spots it.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO. 


Scribbles

I need a new winter coat. I have been saying this for some time and yet every month I find better ways to spend my money. But every time I wait for a bus or shiver on a walk to the shop I remind myself that I need a new coat. Of course, once back in the warm this is forgotten.

While shivering at the bus and unable to work out how long the next bus would be (Cardiff Bus don’t have a board up and their website isn’t the best) I looked for a way to distract myself.

Twitter was all innuendo about the next US President and Facebook had already been exhausted before leaving the house. I needed something to distract from the fact that the cold 

Thank the gods for the slack work of Barry Council. The bus stop down the road is used by a lot of school kids and as a result the lamppost there is like a time capsule of teenage expression through Tippex and marker pens.

I love stuff like this. I love that Beth’s scrawl from 2000 is still there, over sixteen years later. 

But don’t condemn Barry too much, in the late ’00s a wall in Briton Ferry was still calling for Thatcher to be removed. Perhaps it’s deliberate? A way of preserving history, and not idleness. Either way, I like this glimpse into who lived there and what was going on with them.

 I love the nostalgia of seeing phrases I scrawled myself again- Y2K and the other years similarly abbreviated, the deliberately poorly spelled “woz ‘ere” and the acronyms under the declarations of love. 

I haven’t seen it or thought about it in years but I instantly remembered that IDT meant “if destroyed true”, a sort of insurance policy should your vandalism be vandalised. Otherwise your love would die as soon as someone came along with a compass or their own Tippex.

I read the lamppost, the insults and slander, the marking of territories and the announcement of relationships. I always wonder what happened to these couples. Are any still together or have these all fallen by the wayside, living on only as faint memories and scruffy graffiti?

Michelle and Flowers saw fit to declare their love twice, were they more serious than the others? Or more insecure? Does either even pass the lampost and feel a tinge of regret, or the soft glow of nostalgia?

I know there’s graffiti carved on the walls of Pompeii and the Tower of London. This need to leave a mark on the places we go seems to run deep, and it makes you wonder if in a few centuries time whether “Buck Rogers woz ‘ere 24K19” will be scratched into some distant moon.

Personally I think keeping old graffiti up is quite interesting and a good thing, and not just because it distracted me from the fact my nipples were threatening to pierce my t-shirt.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Annoyed (5)

The other day I was seriously annoyed at work. In the morning I’d caught the bus in and grabbed a copy of the Metro thinking that the Rush Hour Crush, sudokus and crossword would help pass the time. 

It tends to be quite quiet at the start of the shift so I settled in with a cup of tea and started the crossword, having secured one of the few pens that were floating around. 

A few clues in I had to go do something, and set my paper down. A few minutes later having done whatever it was I returned and my paper was gone. I had a quick look about and it was nowhere to be seen. Not in the staff room, not in the office, not moved to somewhere else.
I was tamping.

The worst part was I knew I couldn’t go around raising a fuss because (a) I’ve been there a fortnight, so still need to hide my true self from my co-workers and (b) it’s the Metro I hadn’t bought it. I’d picked it up on the bus, and the whole way the paper makes it’s cash is that it gets picked up and passed on. You see a copy lying around and unless it’s right next to someone it’s fair game.

But still! It had a half done crossword in! Clearly I wasn’t done with it. For the rest of the day I was keeping a vague eye out for it but no joy.

It was seriously infuriating because it deprived me of entertainment and the satisfaction of completing it.

This is the kind of unfinished business which means had I died Thursday my ghost would have haunted work until it could finish the crossword and gain peace.

I was denied my triumph, my well earned joy at a puzzle solved. It’s not often I find myself feeling like Sherlock Holmes, especially since I gave up the morphine,  but when I’ve started working something out I get a little bit obsessed and want to see it through.

Being deprived of this choice was not a good conclusion and left me deeply unsatisfied, in the same way if someone had stolen the dancing men before Holmes had worked out what they meant.

It also left me annoyed with my new co-workers, all of whom I now viewed with suspicion, unable to confirm which one had stolen my paper.

What kind of place have I started to work in? What kind of monsters am I working with, who throws out someone’s incomplete puzzle, it’s just not cricket.
Oh, and the answer to the title clue? “Cross”.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO. 


Stop Sticking Giant Bows on Babies

The bow is too big. If you changed the scale no adult would wear a bow that big. Not by choice. Look at this poor model, look how unhappy she looks because of that stupid bow that some designer thought was a good idea. She knows it looks ridiculous.

But despite this I see them all the time. Babies forced to wear gigantic bows because of their mother’s insecurity and fear someone will misgender their daughter.

You’ve probably seen them too. A baby with a giant bow. The only purpose to say “This is a baby GIRL! Don’t you even dare think about saying that she’s a ‘handsome little fella'”

Is it really that annoying? Most babies kinda look alike, bald and with big eyes. Cute but dress ten babies in white and I bet the successful gender guess rate would be quite low. 

If someone does make a mistake just correct them and go on with your day. It’s no big deal. Just be glad they didn’t say something like “why the hell have you got a dog in your pram? And what the hell happened to it?”

People want to say something nice about your baby and if they’re not sure they’ll guess if it’s a boy or a girl, and they might be wrong but they know that they can’t just call the little nipper “it” as that’s just plain rude.
Just accept the compliment, politely inform them that he is a she, or vice versa and everything is sorted. Don’t dress your girl like a damn birthday present!

The old fashioned “pink for girls, blue for boys” is silly enough, but the bow trend is frankly ridiculous.

It’s silly to get worked up over. So what if a stranger thinks Glenda is Glen? Does it effect them at all? Didn’t think so.

I find it weird there’s no male equivalent. Or are that what those knitted beard hats are for?

Not gonna lie. That is cuter than a whole box of buttons.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


The Old Man and the Horsea 

I was walking along when it appeared. Bursting out of nowhere, there it was before me. I was going to catch it, after all that is my real test.

A Horsea.

One throw and it was mine.
I resisted the urge to do a mini fist pump and walked on, the early evening still bright and warm as I dawdled through the park. On some level I could appreciate the lameness of it all. I’d taken a fairly long walk for no other reason but to catch imaginary monsters, but addiction does funny things to you.

And I am definitely addicted. Despite starting a week later than MWF I have almost caught up and racked up around 25km since downloading it. So at least I’m getting exercise out of it.

The intensity that I stared at my screen and my flicking gestures must have tipped them off and a pack of wild, chavvy youths appeared.

“You caught a Pikachu?” This delivered with the swaggering bravado of a teenage boy.
“Nope.” Not answering seems to irritate people, so I just kept walking.

“But you are playing Pokemon?” He asked.

“Yeah.” I said with a smile and slight shrug.

I walked on to hear one exclaim “that’s a grown man playing Pokemon” a fact adjudged to be “sad” by another and then there was some laughing.

A few years ago this would have mortified me, but now I felt nothing, a fact that I attribute to a few factors.

Firstly, I don’t actually care what a bunch of teenagers loitering in a park think. The second is that I have made peace with my uncool hobbies and childish enthusiasms. 

I like what I like, deal with it.

Is this what getting old is all about? Realising you’re not cool but realising that that’s okay? I hope so, because I wasted far too long worrying about what strangers thought of me.

I walked on, leaving them to laugh at the sad old guy, after all, there were more Pokemon to catch.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Welcome to the Hipster Museum

Selling or renting a property must be quite tricky. You have to trek back and forth, saying the same old stuff and popular you could wind up walking around the same house numerous times. It all seems dull, repetitive and time consuming. But people need to see the house, so what can you do?

I guess you could just book them all to come at once.

This is what happened to MWF and I yesterday, when we went to look at house that could be our first home together. We arrived early, and hung around outside, being eyeballed by the neighbour’s chihuahua. Then a car pulled up with a slightly chavvy couple in. The landlord, maybe? Nope, they were there for a viewing too.

And then another car pulled in. Two girls and a guy got out and for much of the rest I tried to work out what the dynamic was it could have been

  1. A solo girl with two friends
  2. A couple and their friend awkwardly third-wheeling
  3. A lesbian couple and a straight male friend
  4. A three person relationship
  5. Two female friends looking to share and one of their boyfriends along for support

Finally the landlord arrived and so began an experience which was like a guided museum tour at a very dull museum about the life of hipsters.

 There were signs of pretension all around- samurai swords, a Buddha statue with no other sign of religion and some arty fatty stuff.

The house wasn’t the biggest, and it felt smaller as eight people trudged through having a nose. It was very awkward, especially as some rooms meant we had to take turns going in. It was like a low budget National Trust property.

Normally when you look around it gives you a chance to ask questions, but you feel kind of odd asking what might be revealing questions in front of strangers. Luckily, the presence of a slightly put out cat answered our major query of whether Midnight would be welcome there.

While the house was nice and a strong contender to be the first home of our little family, there will have to be some decoration changes. The worst offender? A large, cheesy inspiration quote daubed on the bedroom wall.

I don’t mind cheesy quotes, they can sometimes give people a little boost or look on the bright side, and that’s a good thing, but to have it on a wall? As the first thing you see every day when you get out of bed? 

For me if you want a quote on the wall you need more than a twee platitude about making the best of life. No, you need a mantra to help you through the day. You need words of wisdom from the greats.

You need Cool Runnings.

Now that is the kind of quote you need as you get out of bed in the morning.

Having looked around the bedroom we wandered back downstairs where the landlord asked us if we were working and then left. He’d got three viewings done in quarter of an hour , which is pretty good. For him, anyway.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Don’t Ask, Don’t Get: Leap Year Thoughts

I’m going to tell you a story about my mum and dad. The seventies were coming to an end, and they’d been together for a while. Marriage was on the cards but my dad was dragging his feet.

1980 was a leap year. My mum, being a strong willed, independent woman told my father that if he hadn’t popped the question by the 28th of February that she would on the 29th, when tradition allows women to propose.

My dad, being an old fashioned kinda man, couldn’t stand this idea and so he asked first. They got married in ’81 and thirty five years later are still happily married.

My dad and I are similar in a few ways (crap at DIY, fond of bad jokes and Clint Eastwood movies) but this is one way we differ, as I would have either (a) called her bluff or (b) waited until the 28th and then asked.

Personally I think that as it’s 2016 we should ditch the idea that women have to wait four years for a window of opportunity to ask, and should be able to propose anytime they want.

I suppose some women do propose now, thanks to marriage equality. Or do lesbians hold that tradition as well and both wait four years to propose?

What struck me as odd is that there’s still an issue around it and that women proposing is still viewed in a weird way?

Sure, we’ve come a long way from when Leap Day was seen as when women would “trap” men into marriage, as though no man could have said no.

image

The idea of the man proposing seems to be tied in with all these other traditions and ideas which are a bit sexist.

Firstly, I think nowadays some would view it as a bit desperate. The stereotype being that women are all chasing a diamond ring and don’t want to ask lest they appear too eager and scare off the man.

I think, generally speaking, women think about weddings more, but I think that’s because the wedding industry is geared to them.

As a groom-to-be I’ve noticed that people are surprised I take an interest and should just sit back and let MWF sort stuff until I have to put on the suit, tidy my hair and say “I do”. The idea that I have a say and am involved seems to genuinely surprise people and some have even said that I shouldn’t “butt in” as it’s MWF’s wedding.

The second reason I think people have a problem with it is because of warped ideas of masculinity, that somehow the woman asking is her taking control and “wearing the trousers”, which sees both halves of the couple mocked.

I always find this idea that one partner bosses things a bit weird, as surely it’s a team thing and you alternate calling the shots? In our relationship the metaphorical trousers are like my t-shirts and hoodies, in that both of us wear them (seriously, being in a relationship is like living with a clothes thief). And if the woman is calling the shots is that a bad thing?

I’d take the mockery over being proposed to, as it means I get to forego asking. Even though marriage had been discussed and I was fairly sure of the answer, I was still nervous last August when I popped the question.

What if switching it from a hypothetical to a real question changed MWF’s view? What if actually, seriously thinking about being Mrs Page freaked her out? You can never be 100% sure.

And it’s not just the answer, it’s working out how to phrase it, or if the ring is okay. Proposing is not without stress.

Maybe that’s why so many women want to keep the tradition? They don’t have to put themselves out there and risk rejection? The tradition leaves them free of stress and nobody expects them to drop a month’s wage on a ring (seriously, a whole month’s?!)

The ring is another guy thing. He gets it for the girl who wears it while he goes around with bare fingers, it seems a bit like showing the woman is “taken” and its taken on far too much significance and there are some daft perspectives on the whole ring thing, but that’s a whole other blog.

When a woman proposes does she get a male engagement ring? Or just bring one for herself to put on if she’s successful?

I wouldn’t mind if I’d been proposed to. I could have heard a short speech about how much I was loved. I wouldn’t have felt bad or less manly because doing so would seem a bit stupid.

Ladies, if you want to propose to your fella, go ahead. Ask him to be your husband, guys are wimps and have to psyche themselves up to do it. If you’re tired of waiting, take the bull by the horns.

If he gets uptight about it that’s his problem, and he needs to get over his issues about masculinity and get busy wedding planning. And anyone gives you grief can go hang. What have you done? Taken control of your life? How dare you?!

Thanks for reading and congratulations to anyone who got engaged today or in the last few weeks.

image

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


How about no? Valentine’s day and kids

Prompt: How to make Valentine’s Day fun/meaningful for kids.

Don’t.

Kids don’t care about Valentine’s day. And that’s the way it should be.

I always find it kinda creepy when kids are pushed to do “romantic” stuff, like those You’ve Been Framed clips where tots have clearly been told to kiss.

Romantic love is something that comes later. Kids’ idea of romance is based on movies and stories, and rather superficial. They don’t care that Snow White and the Prince barely know each other, or see that as a problem for them getting hitched.

Some kids have boyfriends and girlfriends but these aren’t like proper relationships, they’re just a name they give to a male or female friend. I remember a mate of mine in primary being the boyfriend of a girl in our class. He seemed confused by this development and all it involved was them holding hands briefly at break.

My little sister had a couple of these, although her allegiances were fickle. A Valentine’s card from one boy earned him the boyfriend tag, but he was dropped when another boy, who’d been ill on V-day, presented her with chocolates. You can pull that at 7, but in a real relationship? No dice.

Valentine’s Day in primary is weird. I get that for teachers its an easy way to pass the time, getting the kids to make cards or whatever, and there are probably morons parents who think it’s cute for Junior to give a card to a girl in his class.

The problem is that kids might be upset when they don’t get a card and others do, which may happen when they’re older in secondary, but you’re slightly better prepared then. As a kid that rejection would sting.

image

The alternative is that everyone gives everyone else a card, but this is bollocks too. For one, it devalues the whole exercise, and it also could make some kids think more is going on than there is, like when Ralph got a card from Lisa.

image

The main reason this “cards for all” idea fails is because Valentine’s Day teaches us about rejection and that’s important, if painful. It ain’t always gonna be sunshine and rainbows, and you need to know that.

Cue the violins.

I didn’t get a Valentine’s until I was 22. Twenty two!!!

Did I enjoy going through my teens without getting any? No. Did it destroy me? No, it just taught me that you’re not going to be everybody’s cup of tea. Sometimes you won’t be anyone’s, but when you finally are it feels all the better.

image

How I felt during my teens

Don’t try to make Valentine’s fun or meaningful to kids because it’s not meaningful and it won’t always be fun. You hear parents whinging about kids growing up too fast, but then they push Valentine’s Day on them.

Maybe it’s the parents who need to have it made meaningful for them? So that they understand it’s about longing and romantic love. About exchanging tokens of affection or confessing your love.

That has nothing to with kids. Well, I guess it leads to making kids, but that’s it.

Let kids enjoy the time before crushes, rejection, awkward first dates and all that jazz. That time will come, there’s no need to bring it forward.

Oh, and parents who get their own kids cards? I find that weird as all hell too.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Why I might have to get a misspelt tattoo

Not long after I started my current job I was on break and one of my coworkers had a new tattoo poking out from her sleeve. Conversation turned to tattoos and people compared theirs. I showed off my own ink, and the girl showed a couple of hers.

On her upper arm was a text piece which looked a bit off. It turned out to be a drunken tattoo done on holiday and meant to be “Hakuna Matata” from The Lion King.

image

Words to live by

The only problem was that it actually says “Hahuna Matata”. She explained that she knew this and, to be fair, she was pretty cool with it, so lived up to the motto she’d wanted.

I’d half forgotten about this when I caught sight of another coworker’s ink, and it was more writing. This time I couldn’t see the whole thing just the last word, and I tried to guess what language it was.

Luckily, they moved just as I was about to ask about it, and I saw the rest, which was in a language I recognised.

It was Welsh.

I hadn’t recognised it because it was misspelt, with two of the letters the wrong way around. I wondered if he knew this. Should I tell him?

I decided not to. I don’t know the guy that well and I didn’t want to embarrass the dude.

But really, this is Wales, wouldn’t someone have seen the error? If you don’t speak Welsh why go for the language, when the same idea is expressed in other languages? A Spanish or French misspelling would be bad on holidays but lots of Welsh folks could pick up on the error now.

Or couldn’t he or the artist have Googled the spelling? When I decided to get a tattoo that included a foreign language (Latin) I made sure to properly research it so that (a) it was spelt right and (b) meant what I wanted it to mean.

But as spelling errors in tats are such a trend at work maybe I shouldn’t have bothered? I’d fit in better, or should I just go get someone to mess up a new one?

Hmm, maybe not, my inner pedant means I would drive myself nuts glaring at the offending artwork.

People will want foreign phrases tattooed but you have to make sure you get it right, although it’s more embarrassing to cock up some ink in your native tongue.

image

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.