Sunday, 25 January 2009

Iron Man

On Saturday evening a friend (who shall remain nameless due to fears of reprisals) started talking to me about ironing, in the misguided belief that I might be vaguely interested. She then joked that I could write a blog about it. 

Laugh? I creased up. 

But then my brain started ticking over and I thought to myself - now there's a gauntlet I'm going to pick up. I'm going to write a random blog about ironing.

So here it is. Hot off the press.

You'd be hard pressed to find someone who actually enjoys this tedious chore – but can I shock you?

I like ironing. 

Not to the extent that I would open my own parlour, or turn my nose up if someone offered to take a pile off my hands, but I do find it quite therapeutic – which may or may not strike you as being a bit weird. Much like it's cousin, vacuuming (no we don't call it hoovering as Hoover is a brand name) I find such tasks give me a mediocre sense of fulfilment.

It's not something I do for pleasure (like writing or watching TV) but if I had a list of household chores then ironing would be chosen over cleaning the toilet or plucking hairs from the bath plug hole. Saying that, I seldom spend much time ironing piles of clothes - I tend to just iron what's needed for the day. Even if I'm loafing around the house I like to loaf in a freshly pressed t-shirt. I like the warmth it generates when you first put it on - and the satisfaction that I've pressed it myself.

Yes, I'm slow at it, but what does that matter? If I was being paid ten pence per garment then I might up my game a little - but as I'm just ironing for personal use there's really no need to work at full steam.

Here's me at work:

Now if you'll excuse me, I have more pressing matters to attend to...

Friday, 23 January 2009

Tales of Mouse and Man

I began 2009 with a view to writing a new blog every two or three days. Sadly real life seldom permits such things. Though with this being my 7th entry of the year I'm not doing too badly... my previous attempt at blogging on was somewhat of a failure, notching up about two posts in a year. Fear not, I shall endeavor to maintain this blog with a little more vigour... even if it's informing you what I had for luncheon that day.

Today I just want to share my latest website with you. It's technically an ongoing work in progress (a bit like myself) so if you have the time and/or inclination it would be great if you could check back every week or so, as I'm constantly updating/improving my sites, even if it's a minor tweak here and there.

Here we have - which pretty much speaks for itself...

And here we have sister site,

Finally, we have which you can visit by clicking on my face to the top right of this page.

Not content with my three sites, I'm also working on a vast number of wedding websites for and have a fourth personal site in the pipeline.

So you'll have to forgive me if you happen to find tumbleweed passing through - but you'll know where to find me if my blog's a little quiet. I have a habit of being quiet. As quiet as a mouse...

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Attack of the Clones

Just a few years ago if someone wanted to steal your identity they'd have to get their hands dirty by rummaging around in your dustbin (or trash can, to my non-English speaking friends). But these days you don't have to trawl though soiled tissues or cat vomit in order defraud someone of their life savings - thanks to the Internet, you can do it from the comfort of your own home.

I too have been the victim of Identity Fraud - a crime so heinous that I gave it two capital letters.

On August 2nd 2007 I just happened to glance at my online bank details only to find three highly suspicious transactions. Two payments to 'Tesco Mobile Top-Up' at £30 each, and a payment to Vodafone for £50 (fraudulent transactions amassing £110 to those of you rubbish at maths (or math - to my non-English speaking friends).

The alarm bells went off when I saw the Tesco Mobile transactions as I don't have a Tesco mobile. I immediately yelled 'What? What? What?' like a madman as it slowly dawned on me that some wretched sod had dipped his or her grubby little thieving filthy paw into my pink piggy bank.

My bank cannot be faulted in their initial response to my call, as this was on the Thursday evening and I had received my new card along with the claim forms by the Saturday morning. But hello, there's more... another letter arrived, stating that my card was recently refused a transaction and informing me that had I not been aware of this then I should contact the fraud office... which I did with great swiftness.

It transpires that on July 31st in the year of our Lord 2007, some nasty, thieving cockroach attempted to lift almost £850 from my account in one fell swoop.

So how do these venomous leeches go about such an act of pure evil? Well, as Toyah Wilcox might say "It's a mystery" (minus the lisp). I could have been the victim of a random attack, my card may have been cloned by an evil cashier in a petrol station or a 'modified' hole-in-the-wall at a bank... But maybe it was far more sinister...

This may be hard to fathom, but scum is on the prowl in social networking sites... I've not bothered to do any research for this blog, but my guess is that ID Fraud has soared since the advent of MySpace and Faceboo. All these low-lifers need are key details like your full name (my screen name may not help matters here) your date of birth and possibly your home address - which is probably easier to obtain than you may think.

I imagine these people also thrive on eBay, where they purchase very small packages, pay by cheque and Bob's your uncle... They have the home address and more than likely a daytime telephone number.

Surprise, surprise... The MySpace bulletins are also a breeding ground for criminals. You've all seen the daft bulletins asking you everything from what you had for breakfast to your favourite stuffed toy and what colour underwear you're wearing. It wouldn't take an evil genius long to piece together your life history over a short space of time.

I'm just warning my friends to be on their guard - be careful about revealing so much of your life to total strangers... I have 'friends' on MySpace that I've never even spoken to - 'friends' who could be criminal masterminds for all I know. You'll note I've not mentioned the name of my bank, my first stuffed toy or my mother's maiden name. Do I look stupid to you?

Returning to the matter of the £850... It was basically refused because my account was seriously overdrawn at the time.

Yes, I'm afraid if it was money they were after, the tea-leaves chose the wrong man to mess with. Have you seen the car I drive? John Major was still in power when it was first purchased - I kid ye not.

Attack of the Crazy Kiwi

I recently ventured to the West End of London, in the hope of a relaxed evening with friends. The plan was to meet up at a public house for 6pm and then take in the (now defunct) Spamalot musical at the Palace Theatre next door.

I arrived at the pub location rather early… around 1 hour 20 minutes early to be precise. But I knew it was highly likely that one or two of my friends might show up just after 5pm…

I sat down with my alcoholic beverage and a view to entertain myself with the aid of my iPhone (a portable device that gets me out of awkward social situations and makes it appear that I do indeed have friends when I’m drinking alone). No sooner had I sat down a woman materialized out of nowhere and asked if she could join me while she waited for friends (who would allegedly show up at 5pm). Fair enough, I thought. I’m sure I can take 20 minutes of tedious small talk.

The woman was of Kiwi origin and possibly in her mid to late thirties. I didn’t find her remotely attractive as she reminded me of a rather stern, drunk headmistress.

Our conversation seemed quite normal at first, though when 5pm came and went I thought I’d ask exactly whom she was waiting for and what time they may be arriving. It transpired that she’d been waiting for a man – for three hours. And had evidentially been drinking for the duration…

Whether or not this man was of fictional origin or not, he was a wise man for failing to show up – albeit at my own expense.

What followed was the most uncomfortable hour of my life. Not since a doctor examined my testis had I felt so unnerved.

The woman (who shall henceforth be known as ‘Susan’) started to touch my arm in a flirtatious manner, and then upon realizing I had red hair demanded to touch it. I recoiled slightly in horror, so she told me to stop being so ‘uptight’ and that I should relax.

Susan asked why I appeared to be so jumpy, nervous and distracted, as I kept glancing at my phone and looking at every face that walked through the door. I explained that I was just looking out for my friends, who would show up at ‘any minute’…

But events would soon take a turn for the worse…

After ascertaining that I didn’t have a girlfriend, She asked me if I had a ‘Honey bee’ (meaning a girl who I was attracted to). I said YES. A harem in fact.

She said that I should ‘go for it’ and that I should stop being so shy and nervous. “After all these years you still don’t get it do you?” she mumbled. Which was a rather odd thing to say if you ask me, considering I’d just met the woman.

It was at this point she asked; “You have testicles don’t you?”

I nodded with a mixture of confirmation and sheer astonishment.

Then she asked me back to her place.

I declined, without any kind of hesitation.

“Oh, I don’t mean for that!” she quickly responded. “We can just chill out, relax…”

The following moments felt like an eon. Susan asked if I wanted a beer, to which I politely declined. Upon her departure to the bar I received a text message from Mr Nick Grover, who was one of my party. “Will be 40-45 minutes late” read the message. By this point the fire exit or even an open window was looking mighty tempting, but then I turned to find my new-found crazy drunk friend had fallen to her knees while carrying two pints back to our table.

A gentleman would have helped her to her feet, so fortunately for her there was one nearby. I remained seated, being more concerned as to why she was carrying two pints when I made it distinctly clear that I didn’t want a drink.

Susan sat back down at the table, when an unknown woman approached to congratulate her for falling over without actually spilling any beer. At this point I wished that I’d mastered powers of ESP, as my eyes were crying out ‘Help… me’.

Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse she said “I’m really so glad I met you. I mean really glad. You’re such a lovely man. Really nice”

“Thanks for saying so” I replied, as I reached for my phone.

“You’re gorgeous. I just want to give you a big squeeze”

“Riighht” I squirmed…

“Come and sit next to me” she whispered. “I want a cuddle”

“No, I’m alright thanks” as I calmly tapped out a text message to my friend Jess…

“Are you close by? I’m FREAKING… “

And at that moment Jess entered the room like a ray of sunshine. I don’t recall ever being so pleased to see someone in my entire life.

Unfortunately Jess assumed that crazy woman was in fact my friend, Danielle.

“NO. This isn’t Danielle.” I informed her. “We’ve just met, I don’t know her”

At this point my friends began to trickle through the doors, as I explained to each one in turn that I was not in any way associated with the intoxicated bunny boiler.

It took a fair while, but after insulting one of my friends, sarcasticly applauding me and spilling more beer down her midriff, the crazy Kiwi upped and vanished into the night…

Friday, 9 January 2009

Happy New Year!

"Did you have a good Christmas?"

That's usually the first question you may be asked upon your return to work (unless you were a staunch Jehovah's Witness or druid). Although I've had this question posed to me as early as Boxing Day. Christmas Day isn't even cold in its grave and already people believe it's the cut-off date for Christmas itself!

Not on your Nelly.

My usual response is "Yes, I'm having a good Christmas, thanks". Which is often met with a frown or something of a similar ilk.

As a child, Christmas was always a major event – and the magic of Christmas hasn't faded for me over the years. Some people may thank God it's 'all over' at the stroke of midnight on Christmas Day, but certainly not in my case. Having spent over a month (and several pounds) preparing for the big day, I like to see Christmas through to its natural conclusion.

There are of course 12 days of Christmas (if the song is to be believed) so for me the celebrations expire on the 5th of January. That's when the tree comes down and the decs and faulty fairy lights are returned to the loft for eleven months...

Today (9th Jan) someone wished me a happy new year. Which got me thinking that there's still a handful of people I've yet to pass new year greetings to. But when is the cut-off date for wishing people a happy new year? Is mid-January too late? or is it still permissible to do so in early February??

I'd just like to wish you all a Happy and Healthy 2009. May it warm your cockles and bless you with untold riches... and maybe even that new car you've been thinking about...

Thursday, 8 January 2009

A Slice of Summertime

It's January. The bleak midwinter. People are either moaning about how cold it is, or how many pounds they've put on over Christmas. And if they're not moaning about either of those things, they're up in arms over a 'toddler' being cast as the next Doctor Who, or the distinct lack of celebrities in the Celebrity Big Brother household. Not to mention the fact that the country is in the midst of an economic meltdown, with job losses sinking to new depths. It would appear that the festive cheer has evaporated faster than the snow in Bedfordshire.

Oh, happy days...

With all this in mind I'm delving into my blog archives to bring you a slice of summertime. This blog, as with a few of the blogs you'll read here, was originally published on my MySpace page a couple of years ago.


I'm back from my five day stay in the county of Suffolk, staying in a reputable B&B in Kessingland.

"Where?" I hear you cry.

It's located near Lowestoft (Britain's most easterly point) so look on the map, you'll find it.

OK, so not a lot happens in Kessingland (actually a tortoise went missing while I was there) but I've been visiting the place on and off since 1976, so you could almost say it's like my second home. I really go there for the peace and quiet, and often end up reflecting upon my life during a walk over the Benacre Nature Reserve. It's also a nice place to stay as it's cheap (without being cheap) and located directly between two towns - rough and ready Lowestoft, and quaint little Southwold - so getting around is not a problem. The spectacular Dunwich Heath is also situated nearby, which is a great place to walk, ponder, and take photographs.

The B&B is a great place to stay, but I can't say that I'm the 'number one' fan of the place, as I met the holder of that title during my stay. He REALLY loves the place and is jealous of anyone who lives in Kessingland. "I have your number on speed dial!" he told the landlady with sheer orgasmic delight.

While staying at the B&B I also met a chap called Ralph, a German fella who spoke very limited English. He was a nice chap, but it was very difficult to hold anything that resembled a conversation with him. You'd get so far, but once you asked awkward questions like "How long you stay here for?" he'd reply with "Please?" meaning 'Could you please repeat the question. I don't understand'.

So you'd repeat the question, he'd give you a vacant look, and turn up his nose as if to say 'Nah. I haven't a clue what you're talking about. Let's just forget it, this isn't going anywhere.' That's when the conversation would dissolve and we'd go our separate ways.

Although Ralph and I did have one thing in common. It appeared that Southwold was one of our favourite places to visit. I bumped into him not once, not twice, not three times... but FOUR times during my visit. Once I bumped into him in the street, and on two separate occasions at different locations I'd be sitting there having a quiet pint and I'd look up to see him standing by the doorway... looking at me. Both resulted in awkward conversations about the most random things.

Don't get me wrong, I liked Ralph, it's just that I couldn't communicate with him. He was telling me about a trip to London and I spent a fair while trying to explain what the 'London Eye' was and even tried doing a circular motion with my hands... but I was just going round in circles and the conversation wasn't going anywhere (much like the London Eye itself really). He'd just look at me as if to say 'What?! You mad, English fool!'

Then there was the old chap who crossed the street to greet me with his little dog. I didn't catch his name (the man or the dog), but he seemed under the impression that mine was 'Steven'.

"Is that you, Steven?" he said as he approached. I explained that I wasn't (Steven) and he said that he'd met this 'Steven' character on a previous occasion and that 'Steven' had told him to say hello if ever their paths crossed again. Nice chap, but it was a case of mistaken identity. I do hope he finds Steven though.

I have to say the highlight of my trip has to be Southwold. Here's a pretty picture I took there:

The locals always greet you with a smile and actually remember you when you go back (not like London, where you're lost in a sea of faces, many of them ravaged by inner pain and despair). I also revisited a cafe I first discovered in 2004. There's a young lady in there who must win the 'waitress of the year' award 2004 - present, as she always greets you with a warm smile and has such a friendly, glowing nature that it's always a pleasure to go in and order a coffee and scone (with or without jam). I know, I know - a total cynic might say that that's her job - to smile at you in order to get tips, but I'm not as much of a cynic as I used to be. Either way, I still think she's quite a star.

I didn't ask her out for a drink though. I did that on my previous visit - which I must add is something I certainly don't make a habit of. In fact I could probably count on one hand the number of girls I've asked out in my lifetime - so I'm by far a serial dater (or asker-outer). I tend to only ask a girl out if I'm 90% sure the answer will be a yes - as then I don't have to deal with rejection issues. But you don't care about that, you want to know what her answer was don't you?

It was a no.

Actually it wasn't a no - it was more a 'I'm sorry, I already have a boyfriend' which is fair enough really. It wasn't like a 'Go for a drink? With you? A ginger? You must be joking! Ha!" it was a 'no' delivered with a warm smile that almost made me feel happy inside - while at the same time feeling empty and desolate.

So I went for a walk again to reflect upon my life... Feeling a little sullen and despondent, yet ready for further punishment.

Despite this setback I hope to return to Suffolk in the not too distant future, and the chances are high that I'll pop into that cafe for another slice of coffee, scone and warm smile.

You never know I might bump into Ralph again. Or maybe even Steven...

The Long Road From Silent Hill

It's common knowledge that I'm a rather peculiar individual – although more in the quirky sense (characterized by peculiar or unexpected traits) than the downright weird sense (although some of you may beg to differ). For example I'm notorious for taking holidays by myself; which strikes many people as a somewhat odd thing to do. But I enjoy my own company and like to do things at my own pace once in a while. It's probably why I'm so happy doing the job that I do – working from home, designing websites, writing, photography – they all require extended periods of solitude. I do my best work when I'm alone. Although with my writing I'm always more inspired when I'm around other people beforehand.

One of the main things you'll notice about me is that I don't talk much. In fact my lack of verbal communication has earned me the nicknames Silent Hill, Snake Eyes (the mute from the Action Force comics) and Quiet Dave (the chap who thought up this one was obviously attending a call of nature when inspiration was given out).

My social aloofness could be mistaken for sheer ruddy rudeness on my part. But the genuine truth is that half the time I just don't know what to say to people. Small talk infuriates me, but then so do people who try to over compensate my quietness by hogging the conversation and not letting me get a word in. Time and time again I've been in a three-way conversation when suddenly it happens – I become invisible. All eye contact is lost, my opinion isn't requested and I become the silent observer. Watching. Thinking… walking off, unnoticed…

There are people who no longer even approach me in social circles as they just expect any kind of conversation to quickly evaporate, and they'd be left in an awkward social situation with no means of escape. Of course this is complete balderdash. Given the opportunity, there are times when I can hold something resembling a conversation. I'm far better at one-on-one conversations than groups. If I'm placed in a group of people the chances are that I could vanish in a puff of smoke mid-way through and no one would batter an eyelid. But take me for a Mocha, a Latte or a pint and you could be in for a surprise…

I recall a college coach trip back in 1992. I can't recall the destination or even what we did when we got there – only the first few moments before boarding the coach. I was with two other students, a girl and a boy, one of whom I'd most likely be seated next to on the journey. Let's call these individuals… Rupert and Sally (in order to protect their identities and protect me from reprisals). Rupert suddenly became agitated and said that he'd left his wallet in the classroom, so he dashed off to fetch it. Sally suddenly looked at me, went pale and ran off after him... leaving me to board the coach alone. So I sat down on the coach and waited for them to join me. Needless to say that upon their return they both opted to sit next to each other, leaving me to sit alone.

I knew at the time that Sally had only fled the scene because she was quite frankly terrified at the prospect of being seated next to me for the entire duration of the coach trip. Fair play to her really. If I faced the prospect of sitting next to someone who spoke three words an hour I'd have probably taken desperate measures to evade the situation too. But it has to be said that I've changed over the years… and possibly only in the last few days that I'm finding myself getting bolder and taking risks.

Going for a meal with the Dave of old was probably quite an ordeal. The conversation would have dried up before the starter arrived and you'd spend the evening listening to the clinking of cutlery and drinking copious amounts of water between eating in order distract yourself from the tumbleweed floating past your feet…

Thankfully it's not like that anymore. Given the right company and providing we (my co-eater and I) share some common ground I could waffle on all night. It's just a matter of being given that opportunity. When your closet friends have known you to be a mouse like creature for so many years it's difficult for their mindset to change. But it's safe to say that going for a drink with David C Hill isn't what it used to be.