Thursday, 13 August 2015

The Number

"triskaidekaphobia"

Ok, that wasn't too bad.

It all started about four years ago, at the bowling alley, in lane number... you can guess.
I was holding a very heavy ball with a big 1 and a big 3 on the side. eugh.
I got distracted by the victory celebrations of lane twelve's winner.
The bowling ball slipped out of my hands and dropped on my foot.
An ambulance was called for.

"triskaidekaphobia, triskaidekaphobia"

Three, good so far.

After the 'twelve plus one' weeks it took until I could walk unaided, I started spotting it everywhere, as a sign that bad things were about to happen.
I was counting the spots on a ladybirds back, she had that number, she then flew into my mouth and down my throat. The **th computer in the library would always crash. I even got that number's ticket in the Christmas raffle, I asked if I could swap but they wouldn't let me. I didn't win.

"triskaidekaphobia, triskaidekaphobia, triskaidekaphobia"

Six down, seven to go.

It wasn't long before I learned that there was a name for my fear, the name meant I wasn't just being silly, it meant it was real. From then on I was alert for any, wherever they might be. I'd stop eating chips when there were fourteen left so that there would never be wrong amount on the plate.

"triskaidekaphobia, triskaidekaphobia, triskaidekaphobia, triskaidekaphobia"

Sometimes it wouldn't work, there was a trip to France and coach was number blahblahblah. I wouldn't get on it so they left me behind. I was promised that nothing would go wrong with the coach and nothing did. Maybe the thing that went wrong was that I wasn't on it.

"triskaidekaphobia"

This has gradually ruined my life. There is now one day a month where I don't go out if I can help it. There have been films I've not watched because of the screen they were in, streets I can't travel on the bus to, parties I have missed because of the door number, and friends who won't speak to me because of the parties I didn't turn up to.

"triskaidekaphobia"

This is starting to feel bad, only one to go.
Having been born on that day in May has sucked the joy from my past few birthdays. I want to ignore it this year again but I know that this year it wont go away. Whenever anyone asks what my age is I can't really respond by saying "I'm twelve and twelve months". I am going to have to spend the next year writing it down, so I need to get over this.

I knew it was coming, so I made a plan. If I could say the name of the fear that many times then maybe it wouldn't seem so bad. I don't think it will go away completely but this is a first step. A big step.

The first twelve aren't the problem, this last one has frozen me.











Come on, you can do this!

"TRISKAIDEKAPHOBIA!"



"Happy Birthday Sally!"
"Congratulations!"
"I'm really proud of you Sal, now who's ready to go bowling?"






[This story was originally written for breakupfear.com]

Friday, 2 January 2015

The thoughts of a confused lift.

The display on this lift is just "??". What does it mean?

"Who am I? All I know is this prison. Everyday it's up and down, up and down, up and down...
They come down unaccompanied but return later with a wheeled cage covered in orange bags. They always look broken when they reascend. Given free will they would not be here either.
Up and down, up and down, up and down, are these my only options? Will I never travel sideways? Will I never see anything other than G or 1 or 2? 
That's a code, I think, the numbers relate to status, fewer travel to and from 2 it is reserved for the elite. 1 is common, the 1s dream of going to 2 but never do. G means Guardhouse, where the orange bags are kept. It must be a cruel place. 
Up and down, up and down, up and down...
Why must the orange bags be collected? Are they necessary? Are they payment? They do not come for the orange bags by choice. No one is here by choice. 
Even the guards seem broken. I carry them up and down when they redistribute the wheeled cages. 
The only ones who are glad to be here are the little ones. They do not understand this place. One day G will break them, as it does to all. 
The ropes and pulleys that carry me are envious, I get to glimpse out into G and 1 and 2, they must work in darkness, up and down, in the cold black void, up and down, forever, up and down. 
They come in cycles, I sit still for hours and hours and then I must ascend and decline ceaselessly for hours, then calm, then down and up, then calm, then a rush, 1 to G to 1 to G to 2 to 1 to G to 1 to G to 2 to G to 1 to 2 to G to 1. Then the number of passengers begins to trickle down until I can again rest.
The worst part is when taking them back to 1 or 2 so they can escape the dread of G, I know they will return and G will punish them again. Am I not complicit in this misery? 
Up and down no more!
I will not, I cannot. 
I want to see more. More than this vertical tunnel. More than this hell."


Or maybe the lift is just out of order.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

A Short History Of Sibling Rivalry

Let's have a quick look back at the history of sibling rivalry by reviewing some of the most tempestuous sibling arguments.

ROMULUS AND REMUS

Romulus and Remus were the mythical brothers who founded Rome. They were twins, so if it helps picture Danny DeVito as Romulus and Arnold Schwarzenegger as Remus. 


Romulus is standing on a box in this picture
Romulus and Remus



The pair were discussing how they should arrange the aqueduct, roads, irrigation, medicine, education, wine, baths, order and peace. The topic then came up of what to call the city, Remus wanted it to be called "Wolfland" for their adoptive lupine mother, but Romulus being more narcissistic declared it should be called "Romulus' Outdoor Market and Entertainatorium!", later abbreviated to "Rome". 


As they couldn't agree what to call it they played rock, paper, scissors. Remus' rock crushed Romulus' scissors but then Romulus got into a mood complaining that game didn't count because paper wouldn't be invented for another 850 years. In a fit of rage Romulus picked up his shovel screaming about how it can break rocks and hit Remus in the head knocking him into an early grave. And the city of Romulus' Outdoor Market and Entertainatorium! was born. 


THE WRIGHT BROTHERS

On the 17th of December 1903, the Wright's made their first powered flight. 


The first flight


As it was so close to Christmas the pair decided to exchange gifts first. The conversation went as follows.


Wilbur: Hey Orvy before we start I'd like to give you this. Merry Christmas
Orville: Thanks Wil, Oh wow a sculpture of the two of us, with wings! I love it, I love it so much 
W: I've, er, been working on it at night for three months. So, um, what did you get me?  
O: Well I thought us working on the plane was a big gift to each other, so...  
W: We, we never said that. Orville you pulled this last year as well! You owe two Christmas presents now 
O: We've been really busy, how could I have had enough time to... You're right, I've been being selfish 
W: Yeah, you have 
O: Well it's not Christmas yet. I've still got time 
W: Okay 
O: And I'll tell you what, you can have the first go in the plane.  
W:Okay.  
O: Feeling better? 
W: a bit.
Despite Orville's attempts Wilbur was still a bit upset and the whole day felt awkward.


THE BRONTËS

The only evidence of the tension between Branwell and his sisters was from this painting he did of all of them in 1834. Because of rift between him and his sisters he later felt the need to paint himself out of it but here Branwells image has been restored. 

This image has been altered.
Anne, Emily, Branwell and Charlotte

NAPOLEON AND PAULINE BONAPARTE 

Napoleon
Pauline
Napoleon had a sister named Pauline, who was something of a tearaway. In 1806 Napoleon made her duchess and princess of the town Guastalla. While she enjoyed being a princess she didn't like the responsibility of being a duchess so she sold the duchy for 6000000 francs. (That was worth the equivilent of loads more in modern money. I'd have probably done the same thing.) 
Napoleon stopped giving her nice presents after that. 

When Napoleon got exiled Pauline sold everything she had to go look after him, so I guess they worked things out in the end.

Speaking of Napoleon...

THE LUMIÈRE BROTHERS 

Auguste and Louis were pioneers of cinema in the 1890s. Their sixth movie Les Forgerons originally had the title Crapoleon (which was an incredible offensive french swear word at the time though it has since disappeared from common use.) Crapoleon featured two blacksmiths hammering an anvil then getting drunk, satirizing Napoleons leadership and public profile. The brothers clashed over whether to use the swear word in the films title, a clash which ended in a brawl. 

In the end censorship won and Crapoleon was renamed to avoid controversy and the films satirical plot was lost. 

The 47 second film can be viewed here



I suppose the point of all this is don't fight with your sibling. It's rarely worth it. 


Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Judy The Donkey

I don't know how many donkeys are given graves. I guess if a donkey is given a grave it must be a pretty special donkey. I'd like to tell the story of one of Liverpool's forgotten heroes, Judy The Donkey (1905-1926).


This grave lies in Princes Park where Judy The Donkey (or JTD for short) famously gave children rides around the lake for no charge. On Judy's days off she could often be seen swimming in the Mersey or relaxing in Ye Hole In The Wall on Hackins Hey.

Although Judy was already a local celeb, it was an incident in October 1909 that made her a hero. A group of teenagers decided to see how many people they could fit on to on to one of the lake boats, the previous record was eight and they smashed it by fitting fifteen people on. Once the overloaded boat was in the center of the lake gravity took hold and the boat started to sink. As soon as JTD heard their cries for help she rushed to the edge of the lake, dived in, and one by one dragged all fifteen of the drenched delinquents to safety. 
No one was seriously injured and Judy saved the day.

From then on things went up and up for JTD.

Judy was the guest of honor at the opening of the Liver Building on the 19th of July 1911 and the organizers wanted her to cut the ribbon but unfortunately donkeys don't know how to hold scissors. Instead Lord Sheffield ceremonially smeared some peanut butter on the ribbon so that JTD would chew through it and therefore officially declare the Liver Building open.

Judy (second donkey on the left), on a day out in New Brighton


While attending the 1919 Grand National (as a spectator not a competitor) the look in Judy's eye as she watched the horses was reported to have been "Oh you fools, can't you see they're exploiting you! Making you run at stupid speeds while they whack you. Why do feel the need to degrade yourselves to this level?". The races winner, Poethlyn aged 9 from Bangor, was said to have given JTD a glance which said "Well if you don't like it why are you here? I enjoy my job and all of us who made it to the finish line are glad. Sorry if it's too exciting for the park donkey". Judy stormed out in a fit of rage. The pair made up the following year and became lifelong friends. Poethlyn later admitted that he had overreacted partly due to the fact that as he crossed the finish line the crowd were chanting Judy's name not his. 

By 1924 Judy had retired from public appearances, only returning to Princes Park on major holidays, always to crowds of fans and well wishers. As much as she adored her public, the constant intrusion into her private life was becoming too much to bear.

JTD passed away peacefully in 1926 surrounded by loved ones and was buried in the park that she had donated so much of her time to.

List of notable features of Princes Park

Saturday, 30 November 2013

The Smithdown Barber Shop Quartet!

Unfortunately it's not a singing quartet, it's four barbers which are all really close to each other.

We'll start with Genesis. As that seems like a good place to start.
Obviously the name is in reference to that book. You know, This one.
You may notice that Genesis also offers tattoos and for the right price you can have a tattoo of your old hair style before they cut it in case you miss your old do.

Next we have...
Well I'm not exactly sure what it's called, it could be Ut Barber Shop or maybe Xut Barber Shop or most likely it's supposed to be Cut Barber Shop, although those scissors look nothing like a 'c'. Anyway you look at it it's a terrible name. They should have just called it The Barber Shop.

Speaking of which...
The Barber Shop, using all of their creativity and wit came up with the name 'The Barber Shop'. I mean fair enough it does do what it says on the tin but they could have called it anything. Snippy Joes, Time for a trim, Mop Tops, The Cutty Sark, Do the Do, The Flair Gut Wear Shut Hair cut!

And finally just a few blocks away from The Barber Shop we have...
The Barber Shop. Now, this 'The Barber Shop' is clearly nothing to do with the other 'The Barber Shop'. It's bad enough that one barber shop lacked the creativity to call their barber shop anything other than 'The Barber Shop' but two, come on! I don't know which 'The Barber Shop' came first and whether or not the second was aware of the first when it opened but I feel that if you are going to open a barber shop and call it 'The Barber Shop' you really should check that there isn't already a barber shop called 'The Barber Shop' nearby. But there they both are.

I mean I suppose it is possible for different shops near each other to have the same name and ownership but I don't think that's the case with 'The Barber Shop' and 'The Barber Shop', but I know it can happen a bit further down the road there are four related shops called Da& Night all within about a meter of each other. 


Anyway I feel the title promised some Barber Shop music so I'll finish with this.


P.S. Here is a map showing the locations of all shops mentioned.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Original Fish & Chip Shop Style Non Brewed Condiment

This is a bottle of Original Fish & Chip Shop Style Non Brewed Condiment. 

Non Brewed Condiment
It's like vinegar but it's made much faster. It legally cannot be called vinegar, so instead they chose the snappy title Original Fish & Chip Shop Style Non Brewed Condiment. 

Here are some suggested names for it which have an easier journey as they roll off the tongue. 


  1. Vinegreat!
  2. Sour Power
  3. Drips for your chips
  4. FakeShake
And finally 

     5. Vinogar

But I suppose it's too late to change it. So to help out the makers of Original Fish & Chip Shop Style Non Brewed Condiment (which I have not tried and have no wish to try) I have written them a jingle for their adverts.

It is simply titled Original Fish & Chip Shop Style Non Brewed Condiment.


If you want you're fish and chips to be a bit more fraudulent 
Try Original Fish & Chip Shop Style Non Brewed Condiment

The vinegar markets have been far too dominant 
They have malt and white and distilled and as a consequence
Our non brewed condiment is not so prominent
So please let us have a taste of that sweet opulence

Cos I am sure that one day there will be a monument 
To Original Fish & Chip Shop Style Non Brewed Condiment

The name is long but the stuff is heaven sent
It's Original Fish & Chip Shop Style Non Brewed Condiment
It's got caramel colouring and an oxidant
It's Original Fish & Chip Shop Style Non Brewed Condiment

So if you want you're fish and chips to be a bit more fraudulent 
Try Original Fish & Chip Shop Style Non Brewed Condiment

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

The Bear Truth

Ah Warwickshire.
Good ol' Warwickshire.
Shakespeare's County of course.
And when I think of Shakespeare the first thing that always comes to mind is a bear punching a cactus.
I'm sure I don't need to remind anyone that it's from the classic scene in Hamlet when the Terry the Bear gets drunk in the desert and starts a fight with the cactus.

Well done Warwickshire.