Tuesday, 16 August 2011

The Balaclava

From my youth, the balaclava is inextricably linked to things like The Beano, snowmen and my brother’s acne (looking all the more dramatic framed by the ribs of beige wool). Even aged about five, I knew the balaclava was the ultimate in ‘uncool’. My hatred of the garment was only matched by those thick, slightly yellow vests, which caused angst in PE lessons, where the better off children had snowy white, thin ones.

Yes, generations of children have railed against an army of mothers pulling lovingly hand-knitted balaclavas firmly down over their ears on a chilly morning with the mantra, ‘you know you’ll get poorly if you don’t wear it’.

How times have changed. I’ve just read about a youth being in danger of being arrested for the wearing of a balaclava. In fact, the very last thing a mother wants her adolescent child to be seen in is, the balaclava.

What about all those rioters who have had grommets put in their ear-drums, problems with sinuses, toothache? Are the police in danger of being taken to the European Court of Human Rights for causing outbreaks of ear, nose and throat diseases by outlawing this, almost mythical, healing item of clothing?

Perhaps we can end the cycle of violence in our society by once again getting mums knitting with that thick, itchy wool and insisting their wayward teenager can’t go out without keeping their ears warm. This will quickly render the balaclava once again the item of dread, and our streets will be safe.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Working Lunch

Walking out of the office for lunch today, I regretted my decision to wear shoes with no socks as my feet were hurting with every step. ‘Another reason to complain about the sunshine’, I thought grumpily. I fancied a lasagne for lunch. First I thought I would buy a paper. It was too depressing in the newsagent with the front pages emblazoned with invitations to ‘shop a moron’. Yet another reason for it to start raining soon, it might stop all this rioting and looting.

With a more upmarket magazine, I winced my way to the café a bit further down the high street, where I had once enjoyed an excellent Italian lasagne. My heart sank when I saw an anaemic specimen plonked at the back of the counter, that looked like it had been languishing at the bottom of a vast deep freeze for millennia. My heart sank further when I heard the depressing beep as a microwave was pressed into action.

What I expected arrived on my plate, pale and soggy, sitting in a puddle of tepid fat.

I was so hungry, I’m ashamed to say I ate it anyway.

Leaving the café, I realised I needed something to wash the taste of gristle out of my mouth. I decided that the stall offering curried goat wasn’t likely to help, so hobbled into my local Superdrug for a Bounty. For once, I was pleased there was a queue that would give my sore feet a rest, and the opportunity to ponder the merchandise on the shelves. I spotted the perfect couple with perfect bodies, in perfectly white swimming costumes and perfect bronze skin with a backdrop of perfectly blue water on the advert for San Tropez suncream. She looked like she never had to hobble down high streets in badly fitting shoes for badly cooked café fare. Mind you, Coleen Rooney was looking a bit faded on her gift box of toiletries designed to help me marry a footballer. The box was torn and dusty, the plastic window to the designer life beyond sagged like the sales in JD Sports.

Back at my desk, I took my shoes off. I might not be about to marry a footballer or shop a moron, but I’ve got a cup of tea and a Bounty, so all is right with the world again.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Unwanted Guests for Dinner

I went for a meal in an upmarket restaurant last night. We decided to sit on the terrace to enjoy pre-dinner drinks.

I have to say my enjoyment was considerably lessened by seeing a rat scuttle happily along the edge of the terrace and bounce down the steps into the distance. The staff were very nice about it, said they were coming up the drains due to building work. If we saw another one, to let them know and they would help chase it away.

The menu seemed less tempting after that, I wasn't too sure about veal escalope, being rat coloured and the diameter of a well fed rat, but enjoyed it in the end. It does take quite a lot to put me off my food.

The ladies lavatory was situated very close to the terrace. It brought to mind something that happened to a friend's neighbour when the water board were digging up the road outside her house. She heard a strange knocking noise in the bathroom, went in and noticed the toilet seat rattling. On lifting the lid, saw, horror of horrors, a rat leaping around in the toilet bowl. It was difficult to use the facilities on offer before leaving the restaurant, but needs must as they say. On a scale of scary toilet visits, it did only come second to checking the bathroom for cobra, as I had to do in India.

I'm not going to name the establishment in question, because I hear they do good work for charity, but I don't think I'll be going back anytime soon.