That wheely annoys me…

30 10 2013

If you travel on the Underground during the rush hour like me, we probably share a common enemy.

You hear it before you see it.

By the time you see it, it’s often too late.

It kills three people every day.

What is it?

The trolley case.

Ok, so I lied about killing three people every day.

Chances are you will agree that most people who commute in London turn into Zombies.

Zombies in their own little world.

Zombies who don’t care about those around them.

Now arm those Zombies with a handbag or manbag sized trolley case during the rush hour.

You know the ones – bags that would traditionally would be carried in your hand or over your shoulder.


With a go-go-Gadget flick of a telescopic handle these Chihuahua sized containers obediently follow their walking dead masters.

Unfortunately, this Decepticon-type transformation usually takes place at the most inappropriate of times during their journey, which cause most of the problems:

  • Stepping off a train or tube and immediately pausing to extend the handle creating a commuter volcano behind them
  • Walk right up to the bottom of an escalator, pause to retract the handle, creating a commuter volcano behind them
  • Extend the handle again at the top of an escalator, but only having taken one step off the top, creating a commuter volcano behind them

Other issues:

  • Walking with their trolley case to one side as if it was a prized Crufts Chihuahua being shown off to those around in a crowded space
  • Suddenly pausing at the most inappropriate times as if to contemplate life, the universe and everything, oblivious to the pile up behind them
  • Trying to walk quickly with their pitiful case skipping from side to side like a car travelling to fast towing a caravan

Unless you are carrying a small amount of neutron star, what stops you from carrying it normally in crowded areas?

(By the way that’s very heavy in case you wondered.)

I’m sure some people need to use these ankle biting weapons – bad back, sore shoulders, no arm strength.

Just please bear in mind when you use them, the poor zombies around you.

Here endeth the moan.


Such a plank…

18 10 2013

I’ve had a dodgy back for a long time.

Things came to a head a couple of years back when doing some sit ups at BMF and my back gave up on me.

I went through a short course of physio, NHS paid-for pilates and a lot of pain.

The injury is non-reversible unfortunately.

So for now, it’s all about building up some core strength to help support the afflicted area.

The physio at the time recommended the best way to develop the necessary core strength was pilates.

A long time afterwards, I eventually got my backside into gear and did something about it.

Walking into the room was like stepping of the plane in a hot country.

It was a hot pilates session.

The temperature went up even further as the strapping instructor walked in.

A man hillock (I would say mountain but he was a tad on the short side) who put myself and the only other chap in the room to shame.

Muscles on muscles but obviously no bones based on the way he could bend around the place.

About five minutes in and I was already resting on a sweat drenched towel.

Everyone around me seemed to be coping absolutely fine.

Bending and swaying in the same manner.

I could just about touch my knees bending over whilst everyone rested their hands on the floor.

The girl next to me was incredibly flexible.

I tried to hide my embarrassment at not being able to touch my toes by mouthing “bad back.”

A reassuring smile was given as her head went through her knees.


But I had a small moment of victory.

Or so I thought.

Whilst sitting down with legs raised in the air and slowly leaning back to achieve a 2:50pm angle, if you catch my drift (no idea what the proper name was), we had to hold the position.

Bendy lady could not hold it.

Absolutely no abdominal strength.

As supple as she was there was no hope in holding the position.

Try as she might, she kept collapsing.

This was my moment.

She looked over as I held the position with brute determination.

An impressed glance was given and a big smile.

Unbeknownst to me, the instructor was sitting right behind me helping someone and held the pose with perfect rigidity.

Meanwhile I was shaking like a shitting dog trying desperately to maintain the position, not breathing and slowly turning puce.

I collapsed into my towel just as I thought I was going to exhale air that was not part of the breathing techniques we’d been taught.

I made no further eye contact after that.

And so it was that on miserable Wednesday lunchtime, I found myself in the plank position.

Feeling like a plank.

My itch has finally been scratched…

11 10 2013

On the way back home after work, hunger pangs got the better of me.

Fortunately, I knew there were are a few posh concourse shops at St. Pancras that I can dive into to pick up a snack.

The shops are not for the faint of wallet.

So it’s a rare treat.

As a lot of people know, I love pork scratchings.

They are a weakness.

Love them.


I love them.

I’ve had plenty of different brands.

Even tried to cook them myself.

The result was almost a burnt down house.

You see the problem is that I haven’t found one brand  to which I can remain loyal.

There is too much variation in every pack.

A few dodgy scratchings that don’t taste too good.

Scratchings that a Tyrannosaurus Rex would have trouble biting through.

Too much flavouring.

Too little flavouring.

Pack size that only a small child would be happy with.

I’ve had scratchings from the posh concourse shops at St. Pancras before.

As Dave Gorman might say, they’re good-ish.

So I was very happy to see a new addition on the shelves.

Let me introduce to you, Mr Trotter’s Great British Pork Crackling.

The result.

Hunger pangs averted.

Very, very happy me.

Flippin’ awesome right down to the dust at the bottom of the pack.

They are “triple cooked for a crisper crunch.”

I cannot stress enough that if you are a lover of all things pig skin, this is for you.

I’ll have to try another pack just to make sure they match up to the first time.

And perhaps pair them up with a fine ale as I say goodnight to the week.


Crispy toenails. Delicious.

Crispy toenails. Dee-licious.
(image from Mr Trotter website)

Correct toilet etiquette…

8 10 2013

Today’s puzzle.

The correct toilet etiquette in a new work place.

I stepped into the gents which is a ‘trap’ only toilet.

Two were engaged and being destroyed judging by the sounds that emanated.

The final option had recently been vacated by someone currently washing his hands.

As I walked towards trap three, the smell hit me like the 10.23 out of Kings Cross.

It was like struggling against a hurricane, forcing myself to advance and close the door behind me.

All that without being sick.

So what should I have done in the first instance?

Should I:

a) Just run for the door screaming “EVERYBODY, VACATE THE OFFICE NOW” and risk mortally embarrassing the person who had just opened the gates of hell?

b) Grimace, walk nonchalantly towards the trap, breathing in the smell of death as quickly as possible so as to get used to the smell?

c) Say something like “haven’t you heard of air freshener / a good diet?”

d) Go to a basin wash my hands, hold my breath, and walk straight out?

e) Force some witty banter, cover my nose and mouth with a hand towel whilst mumbling “I’m going in.”

Well I chose ‘b’ and even 30 minutes later I still felt riddled with his filth and mildly nauseous.

Is there a correct etiquette in that scenario?

Is there another option I should have considered?

Whatever the answer, I need a shower.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Good Morning!…

7 10 2013

The photo challenge this week is about capturing something that says “Good Morning!”

My OCD nature means that my morning journey to work is very precise and ordered.

By the way, when I refer to my OCD, we’re not talking Rain Man or hell-to-live-with-nutter.

(Perhaps Wifey might disagree there.)

Things just have to be done in a certain way.

Patterns and routine must be adhered to.

Any change can cause a glitch in the matrix.

And that would ruin my morning.

Part of this routine is to play Solitaire on my phone but only when I get on the tube.

Reading a book is reserved for the mainline train, where 33 pages are always read.


It’s 31.

When I get on the crowded Tube and pull my phone out of my pocket like an escapologist escaping the confines of a straitjacket, I’m greeted with a picture on my screen.

It tends to be of JJ because when I see the little fella, it makes everything in the world seem that bit better.

My latest image of him feels like a happy greeting from JJ.

Granted it was taken last night but it’s as if he’s saying, “Morning Daddy!”


He wasn’t really posing for a smile at the time.

At the time, JJ was doing his impression of a dinosaur.

JJ good morning

Mr. Tickle visits the American Football…

4 10 2013

The weekend gone saw an amazing spectacle.

No, not my new glasses.

The NFL landed on our plates with a great big mound of American razzamatazz and a side of English reserve.

Now in its 7th year, it was the turn of the Minnesota Vikings to host the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Accompanied by my brother-in-law in traditional fashion, we ventured into London to begin our weekend of football.

Saturday morning took us to the Fan Forum at the Landmark Hotel where Daunte Culpepper, Meril Hoge and Ahmad Rashad fielded questions from some hardcore fans.

One thing that always surprises these NFL dudes is the level of knowledge that UK fans have.

Surprisingly, people outside of the US watch American ‘Football’.

After a little dig at Culpepper about the infamous Love Boat scandal and an invite to a Thames boat cruise, we were shipped off to Regent Street.

The powers that be had closed the street down between the circuses of Piccadilly and Oxford so they had plenty of space for their own clowns.

There were loads of events to take part in, watch and experience.

Be a Quarter Back, Kicker or Centre (grrrr don’t care if it should be Center) in various games.

Run against a mate whilst connected to a bungee chord (which I broke) to grab a football.

Watch the main stage which featured players, cheerleaders and various forms of entertainment.

And more.

We experienced as much as possible adorned in our respective team shirts and were even interviewed by The New York Times.

I gave my opinions and thoughts that have consequently not been featured in any article.

Sunday was game day.

Wembley played host to a tailgate party from 12pm through to kick-off.

Those powers that be had picked up everything from Regent Street, sprinkled it over Wembley and added lots of American themed food and drink vans

And like bees to honey, all the fans buzzed and busied about collecting freebies, cheerleader autographs and memorabilia.

Or just got drunk.

It was a great party atmosphere aided by scantily clad cheerleaders, a drummer crew and lots of big beats courtesy of various DJs.

We escaped briefly to a pub called the Green Man pub, which played host to fans in the know.

There were incredibly few people not in their team shirts, which made for maelstrom of colour, support and banter.

I teamed up with my brother-in-law for a game of Beer Pong against a fellow Bears fan and a Steelers fan, losing out on the last cup.


But we got chatting to the Bears fan who was from Chicago and have a laugh together.

And that summed up for me what is one of the reasons I love going back every year.

The fans are great.

Everyone gets on well (apart from the chap who I annoyed in a queue to the tube by tickling his ear with a flag, but that’s another story).

There is no hostility just a bit of friendly banter (apart from the chap who I annoyed in a queue to the tube by tickling his ear with a flag).

You could just go up to anyone and start talking to them (but I think I burned my bridges in the ticklegate episode).

The atmosphere during the game was electric, best to date.

Everything kicked off with a young man who apparently had a tiny temper.

The game was in full flow as were the beers and we sat back and watched a fantastic game.

Plenty of great plays, big scores and even bigger cheers.

JJ has even benefitted from a mini American football and a mini helmet.

A great weekend and I look forward to the next one in about five weeks.

And I’ll be sure to avoid tickling any fans ears next time.