Monthly Archives: August 2008

Chocolate snob Dad

Dad: Ooh, what’s this? A present?

Son: Open it! Open it!

Dad: Mmm, smells like Daddy’s favourite. Is it, could it be… chocolate?

Son: Yes, Daddy, yes!

Dad: Hold on a minute, though. This looks like milk chocolate.

That’s not strictly speaking Daddy’s favourite now, is it?

Son: All chocolate favourite, Daddy.

Dad: Yes, you’re right. Silly Daddy. Let’s have a look.

Oh. Thornton’s.

Son: Why Daddy look sad?

Dad: Well, you know how there are children at nursery and some are really special and you want to be their friend?

And some are quite naff and have horrible clothes?

Son: No, Daddy. I don’t understand.

Dad: Of course you don’t. These things don’t matter, do they?

Son: What’s not a matter?

Dad: If a chocolate is single estate or some mongrel mickey mouse mix jokily riding the waves of confectionary mediocrity.

It doesn’t matter at all.

Son: It’s Daddy’s birthday! Hurray!

Dad: Which is why I’m finding it quite hard to let this one go, my little monkey.

You’re really hoping for your family to go that extra mile on your big day.

Do you see what I’m saying?

Son: Daddy likes treats?

Dad: Yes. Daddy likes quality. It’s how he knows he’s loved.

Son: Daddy come and play?

Dad: Funny, but Daddy’s not in the mood anymore.

Might wait around in case your mother has wrapped me up a Lion bar.

Or maybe she’s pushed the boat out and bought me a Caramac.

Son: Why? Is it raining, Daddy?

Dad: Not in the garden, son. Not in the garden.


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It’s not pyramid selling

I have joined the network marketing fraternity.

(It’s not pyramid selling. It’s sharing an exciting opportunity with friends.)

The company is called Forever Living Products.

Let’s get one thing straight. They are by no means suggesting usage of their products will make you live forever. Just a very, very long time. My sponsor is 203.

At its crux, some chap in the States (who drives the car of his dreams and takes 5 holidays a year) has harnessed the magical properties of the Aloe plant to get rich- literally earning as he heals.

Everyone is a winner.

(It’s not pyramid selling. That left you ostracized and bankrupt at university. This is less hateful and more lucrative.)

Inside the business starter pack, featuring imagery of a blissed-out family, you expect to find literature about how the elderly in your family can euthanise themselves to ease the financial burden on their children:

You can only try not to look disappointed to find it housing products based around the Aloe plant instead.

However, as a short botanical lesson reveals it to be a wonder substance, I was persuaded to sign up, via the recommendation of a trusted friend (see how this works?)

Others in the promotional video had more compelling reasons:

‘All my projects had failed and I was at a point in my life where I thought I should start researching the right formula for an overdose. Then I discovered FLP and met lots of other people like me. I’ve never looked back. I always thought being on speaking terms with my family was overrated. Now my kids all go to private school and it’s not ridicule paying those fees!’

Inevitably some of the products are better than others but I’d have to sit you down in a hotel lobby and get you to look into my eyes, look into my eyes, to really sort the sheep from the wolves.

(It’s not pyramid selling. Someone has simply realized that my mother would rather write a cheque to her gormless youngest daughter than to the gormless school-leaver at Holland & Barratt, even if she is tipping her daily gel down the back of the sofa, while she smiles.)

When they diversify into Aloe kettles (2009) I might be stroking my chin but I’ve reigned in that cynicism for the Aloe Gel drink, the FLP star earner.

And so, dear reader, should you:


BENEFITS: Aloe vera is bactericidal, viricidal, fungicidal and everything else ‘idal that good. It penetrates tissue, relieves pain, hastens healing, improves circulation, breaks down dead tissue, moisturizes healthy tissue, reduces scarring, aids digestion, boosts the immune system, enhances skin quality, is nutritional and mostly tolerant of politicians.

The idea is that you drink it every day, so you absorb all the goodies and get less colds and digest food better, which makes your body use your food as fuel more efficiently, which gives you more energy and glow, which makes you A MORE SUCCESSFUL AND HAPPY PERSON.

Since imbibing it I, for one, have grown exponentially more popular- a welcome effect balancing the loss of friends I have experienced as a result of trying to get them to reap the same benefits. Cruel world.

If you still feel like a homicidal maniac with IBS and bad skin after 60 days you can get your money back.

I might be spending some of it in Barbados but I will definitely owe you.

BUMMERS: it tastes like sewage and is £18 a bottle, which makes a daily habit £36 a month.

But still cheaper than crack.


The Aloe Vera Gelly (£10.59) is also rather special. In fact, it is the 5th emergency service in a tube (ooh, that’s good. I might try and sell that back to them.)

You can use it on burns or skin conditions or athletes foot or apply it to your gums for gingivitis or put it on sunburn or rub it into the glasses of your bus driver, to make him more polite.

It even works on hemorrhoids, which the chap at Training Day will definitely be recommending to his wife, if the impressed eyebrows he raised in her direction when the subject was discussed, are anything to go by.

Ah, Training Day. I couldn’t get enough of it. It was so educational- not least from the viewpoint of the biodiversity of the attendees.

As well as dribbling luke-warm coffee down my top from my slim stainless-steel flask (I knew I’d have an occasion to use it) I drank eagerly from the company cup, as served by motivational speakers, jazzed up on conspicuous slugs of the Aloe Gel.

And I don’t mind saying I would do so again over a day at Chessington World of Adventures, in a heartbeat.

I am this in any forum:

So it was a matter of time before I dropped the big one: ‘Is it pyramid selling?’

Whereupon loud sirens and flashing lights as I was pinned to the back of my seat by a Patrick-Swayze-possessing-Whoopi-Goldberg G-force of denial.

Of course, nothing so sinister took place. It’s not pyramid selling- let’s just leave it at that.

An afternoon of Aloe evangilism followed, lost souls united in their submergence in Forever Living lore, their fondness for Charity shop sartorial steals, their eagerness to share cold-calling commandments: Never engage in personal banter, Every contact is a potential client, Stick to the script.

This means that the call should go something exactly like this:

‘Hello Dad. I know we’ve been estranged for 20 years and I’d love to get together some time. But what I’m really calling for today is to share an exciting business opportunity. Of course, it may not be for you- only you can decide that- but I’m quite sure that when you’ve heard what I’ve got to say you’ll be psyched.’

and should not continue anything like this:

‘No, it’s not pyramid selling, you ignorant arsehole. You just can’t stand it that I’m making a success of my life, can you? First you walk out, now you won’t even buy green toothgel and ‘Gentleman’s Pride’ aftershave from me…’

Each impassioned pitch made perfect sense. Only when the practice group chanting of the telephone script began, did I start to have Utah flashbacks.

By the end of the day, the group was buzzing with images of the family tree of network earning potential, like a fully-charged Ann Summers vibrator (that’s not pyramid selling either, it’s pissed parties at girlfriends’ houses.)

I could barely wait to draw up my action plan. In retrospect, I should have told the class leader, as it would have saved the messy stalking court injunction I had to take out against her afterwards.

We may have been numbing our bums on hard chairs in the dingy Fulham HQ basement but we were all dreaming of the Chicago Profit Share Achievement weekend.

Do I want to catch my dreams? Yes! Yes!

Do I want to be a winner? You bet I do!

Do I want to keep my friends? Yes! No! Whatever! Show me the money!

Spare yourself The Call and email me for a carton of the good stuff.

It’s bloody brilliant.


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Why: update

Yesterday, the clouds stopped conferring and accidentally let a ray of sun through. While they were panicking around, trying to close the gaps, Bru and I raced to a pick-your-own farm and ate our own bodyweight in raspberries.

Although not quite as conspicuous as an Eastern European woman stalking around Kew Gardens in stilletos, I wasn’t dressed for the activity, and looked like a toxic, urban mother trying to show her child that fruit doesn’t grow in Waitrose refrigerators. Which I’m not, because he knows full well it rots in plastic Morrison punnets.

Incidentally, if there is a more spiritual way to spend 20 minutes, I have yet to find it.

At the end of our romp there was somehow a surfeit. Who, I mused, could be the deserving recipient?

Of course, the ideal candidates took less than 30 seconds to suggest themselves, after which I repaired to my parents’, where I decanted the booty into a vitamin pot, cleverly wrapped in dyed-green pipe cleaners.

I then fashioned beetles from the peeled labels of Bonne Maman apricot jars and attached them at right angles, with the wire twists from a cornflakes packet.

Finally, I cut around a picture of Chelsy Davy, from a Mail on Sunday magazine and stuck an unsuccessful lottery ticket on the back of it.

This provided a suitable background for the following missive, endorsed by the counterfeit signature of my mother:

Pretty things in paper

Put a big smile on my face

If you could just send up a five pound note instead

That would be ace.

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PC Selby visits his therapist

Therapist: You look different today, Arthur.

PC Selby: I trimmed my moustache.

Therapist: Have you got a date?

PC Selby: Yes. No. There’s a talk at the village hall tonight.

I thought if I went along I might bump into Dr. Gilbertson.

Therapist: You’ve heard she’s going?

PC Selby: So I believe. She’s giving it.

It’s about STD’s and how we can try to avoid them as a community.

Therapist: Has she been giving you signals?

PC Selby: No, I take care of all the traffic regulations in Greendale.

Therapist: I meant romantic signals?

PC Selby: She was very nice about my little problem, when I went to see her. Told me to get a more padded seat on the bicycle.

Plus, I can’t deny it would be nice for young Lucy to see someone else in heels around the house, in the evening.

Therapist: Have you had any more dreams?

PC Selby: As a matter of fact, yes.

At the week-end I dreamt Pat was standing on the railway tracks, waving at Julian, and the Greendale Rocket smashed into him.

Then yesterday, let’s see… Oh, I dreamt Pat was hooked up to Ted’s icecream machine and was pumped with strawberry icecream until he burst.

Then…that’s right, last night I dreamt one of the kites at the kite festival wound around Pat’s neck and sliced his head off.

Therapist: Do you see a pattern here at all?

PC Selby: I knew it. It’s my mother fixation again.

Therapist: Or perhaps some unresolved resentment towards Pat?

PC Selby: Because he’s round every effing corner like ‘Where’s Wally?’, poking his nose in, even though I’m the village authority figure?

No, I like Pat. He’s a top bloke.

Therapist: We’ll explore that more next session, then.

Is there anything else on your mind, Arthur?

PC Selby: Yes, in fact. Is it wrong to pray for a homocide in the village?

Therapist: What do you think?

PC Selby: I think if I have to rescue another cat I’m going to commit one myself.

I’ve been watching NYPD re-runs, that’s all. I’m itching for some action.

Therapist: Look, I don’t want to abuse my priviliged position by betraying patient confidentiality but Neesha did a 7 year stretch inside, has 3 prior convictions, some GBH form and is planning a job on the station cafe.

If I can’t reach her first, of course.

PC Selby: ‘ello, ‘ello, ‘ello!

Therapist: Mum’s the word now, Arthur. Not yours, mind.

PC Selby: Right you are, doc.

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I’m planning on laying into old people quite soon. So tonight the higher order of cosmic justice passed something under my radar, to re-arrange my smug face.

My parents live at the top of an old people block of flats, in a seaside town with the highest proportion of old people in the universe.

My father likes it because the residents call him ‘Sonny’ and my mother likes it because they remark on her peachy skin, in the 25 minutes it takes the lift to reach the ground floor, from the dizzy heights of the fifth.

Recently, a bad back and other encyclopeadic illnesses have rudely rendered her housebound.

A neighbouring couple have since taken it upon themselves to bring up all manner of flowers, gifts and poems, to speed her recovery.

These acts of kindness originate from an unspeakable aesthetic sensibility, being confusingly constructed from amnesiac objects, in an expression of workmanship patented by octogenarian present-givers: a melange of cherries and biscuits, bedded down in a cleaned Flora carton, wrapped in very old silk ribbon that no longer curls, and so on.

Just as my family were contemplating the next well-intentioned Frankenstein offering, the doorbell rang, whereupon a sweet soul made the drop.

It was a tiny antique glass, filled with delicate, white, garden flowers and foliage, with a faded lily-of-the-valley notelet.

On the back- penned in the shaky but painstakingly precise hand of a seriously decent old person, framed by two wiggly ‘V’s, representing flying birds- was this:

You ask me why I bring you flowers

Make things the way I do?

It’s just that you like pretty things

And appreciate them too

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Beer mat wisdom 3

Artists are people who find real life dull.

It’s why they are fun on public occasions and difficult in private ones.

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Postman Pat visits his therapist

Therapist: How are you today?

Pat: Oh, grand. Late with the mail again, you know, but folk’ll help.

Therapist: This is a safe place, Pat. Tell me how you really feel.

Pat: I don’t like rushing, is the thing. I make mistakes.

But there’s always some crisis and I’m bang in the middle. Good old Pat- he’ll help you out.

Therapist: That’s because you’re a protagonist. These are your stories.

Pat: Well, I’m fed up.

‘Can you tell Ajay this?’ ‘Can you play in the five-a-side football match?’ ‘Can you deliver sugar and bloody calamine lotion to the whole poxy village?’

I’m a postman, not a a jack-of-all-flaming-trades. Sod off!

Therapist: It’s good to vocalise that anger, Pat. Try also to understand that Greendale is a tight community and you are the voice of the people.

They value you.

Pat: They think I’m a prat.

Therapist: Why would you say such a thing? Might you be projecting?

Pat: I ate the sardine ice-cream meant for Jess.

Therapist: Oh, I see. That is incredibly foolish.

But Jess makes no judgments. She’s always by your side. Tell me more about her.

Pat: Miaow!

Therapist: I’m sorry?

Pat: You and me both. That’s all she ever bleeding well says. Means different things, mind, but it gets on your tits after a while.

Excuse my language.

Therapist: She’s a very loyal cat. A right hand man, even.

Pat: She’s the sister we couldn’t give Julian, is what she is.

Sara wanted a pot-bellied pig but I use my bicycle a lot and I’m not that steady as it is.

Therapist: How are things with Sara?

Pat: Hard to say. She’s distant sometimes. Spends most days in the station cafe.

She wears a lot of polo neck jumpers. Sometimes I wonder if…

Therapist: ..she’s shagging Reverend Timms?

Pat: No. I wonder if she’s too hot.

Although now you come to mention it, Jeff Pringle wears a lot of them too.

Therapist: Jeff is your friend, Pat. We talked about this paranoia last time, when you thought Mrs Goggins was putting anthrax into the letters.

Pat: Maybe I need a break. The van’s knackered and no-one wants me to buy a Smart car.

Therapist: That’s the conclusion I’ve been coming to as well.

Pat: They’re great, aren’t they? You can park them sideways with no bother and there’s stacks of room in the boot.

Therapist: No, I meant having some time off. I think you need to be just Pat for a while.

Pat: Aye. Reckon I’ll look into the village history while I’m at it. We’ve all got the same noses and only four fingers on each hand.

Therapist: You do that, Pat. And get your uniform dry-cleaned.


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