Hot Food, Cold Food

June 23rd  2006

It took me longer at the garden centre than I had bargained for, it had got way past my lunchtime, and driving home from Chesterfield to New Mills I began to feel decidedly peckish. This countryside route is not short of hostelries offering pub grub, a Chef & Brewer, a Beefeater and a Happy Eater amongst them, but these places invariably promise more than they deliver, as I’ve found to my cost in the past. Apart from that it always seems to take for ever for your food to arrive and I wanted a quick fix (a tip – avoid like the plague any pub that advertises ‘fayre’. If they can’t spell the word ‘fare’ there’s a very good chance they can’t cook either).

Getting hungrier by the minute I was almost tempted to turn round and try a Happy Eater I’d just passed, even though I suspected that if it had been called an Unhappy Eater instead my expectations of it would be much more likely to be fulfilled, when I saw a sign at the side of the road, ‘100 yards ahead, Hot Food, Cold Food’. I slowed down. It was a mobile snack bar parked up at a lay-by, the sort of thing that lorries pull up at, although none had pulled up there at the moment. Just the ticket, I thought, and pulled in.

The proprietor was at the hatch, and not scratching his belly or picking his nose or anything, always a good sign. There was no menu so I asked him what he had to offer.

“Bacon barmcake, egg barmcake, sausage barmcake, bacon, egg and sausage barmcake.”

“I was looking for something cold,” I ventured.

“Sorry, I haven’t got anything cold.”

“Your sign says ‘Hot Food, Cold Food'” I pointed out.

“Yeh, ham barmcake, cheese barmcake, cheese and ham barmcake, but I’ve run out. The bacon, egg and sausage barmcake is very nice,” he added, temptingly.  

“I don’t doubt it is,” I said, “But it isn’t cold, is it.”

“You can wait for it to go cold,” he suggested.

What enterprise! What ingenuity! I certainly wouldn’t have got such a response if a branch of Chef & Brewer had run out of cold food. “Sorry sir, there’s nothing I can do about it” would have been the very best I could have expected, but more probably I’d have got a silent and disinterested shrug of the shoulders. Not from this man though. His entrepreneurial skills had kicked in immediately the problem had presented itself, and he had overcome it with ease. Britain could do with more men like this, I said to myself, they were people to be encouraged. I encouraged him. “A bacon, egg and sausage barmcake, please.”

Not a second over two minutes later he slid a fried egg onto the bacon and sausage he had already placed on the bottom half of the barmcake, then joined the two halves together. Two minutes, mind. It would have taken at least half-an-hour at a Happy Eater.
“Don’t blow on it,” I admonished him.

“I was helping it to go cold,” he explained, a little hurt.

Helping it to go cold! Surely we have another
Richard Branson or Alan Sugar in the making here!
“That’s all right, I’ll have it hot,” I said.

It was quite delicious too.


Along with Atkins Down The Road I now help out at one of the local charity shops every Thursday morning and have been doing so for the last three weeks. It was Atkins who saw the note in their window asking for volunteer counter staff and recognised it as the golden opportunity it represented, for we now get first pick of all the clothes that are donated rather than have to take our chances with the rest of the shop’s clientele. Not only is this useful for kitting ourselves out in fine style but it will be an absolute boon when it comes to  dressing our inflatable rubber women, once we get our artificial car passenger scheme up and running. So, it must be admitted, our reasons for helping out at the charity shop are not entirely charitable. 

When we volunteered our services to the manageress, Mrs Peasegood, she wanted us to work on separate days. However we explained to her that we come as a team. “Like Ant and Dec then,” she said. If Atkins hadn’t been anxious for us to get the jobs I swear he would have hit her as his opinion of Ant and Dec is lower than mine, if that’s possible, but he just managed to restrain himself. Anyway the upshot was that Mrs Peasegood moved one of the Thursday ladies to Tuesday to accommodate our wishes.

It was Atkins who first identified what Mrs Peasegood subsequently told us were known to the charity shop staff as ‘Flogiteers’. These are apparently people who nowadays frequent charity shops in ever increasing numbers and who are devotees of the TV antiques programme ‘Flog It!’ And what they are seeking is a bargain. “They very rarely buy anything,” explained Mrs Peasegood, “They just go through all the bric-a-brac like a dose of salts and leave it in a right mess, they’re a dashed nuisance.”

A dashed nuisance was not the expression used by Atkins about the Flogiteer who had him get all the items of pottery out of both front windows so he could give them a closer inspection. The windows are about six feet deep and to remove any pottery at the front involves getting in the window on your hands and knees and negotiating your way through an assault course of silver teapots and cut glass decanters and suchlike to get at the said pottery, then making your way back with it item by item until the window is cleared of pottery. You can take it that by the end of his exertions Atkins was not best pleased.

The Flogiteer’s idea of a closer inspection was simply to turn the piece upside down and look for a manufacturer’s name. I know a bit about pottery, being an occasional viewer of Flog It myself, and the names he would have been looking for are Clarice Cliffe, Moorcroft, Troika, Coalport, and others currently in vogue.

The very same Flogiteer called in the following Thursday morning too, last Thursday in fact. This time it fell upon me to get all the pottery out of both windows for his perusal. I was about as pleased as Atkins had been. Again the Flogiteer went through his routine and bought nothing, leaving me to put all the pieces of pottery back in the windows. Mrs Peasegood said he comes in most Thursday mornings, has been doing so for over a year, and has yet to buy a single thing.

Something will have to be done about it if he continues with this behaviour.

Swimming Lesson 3

June 20th 2006

The system employed by the local leisure centre to teach ten-year-olds to swim is to first kit out him or her with inflatable arm and leg bands. Having been made buoyant little Brad or Jennifer is then fitted with a shoulder harness attached to a long length of rope. The child then gets in the water and is gently towed across the width of the pool by the instructor whilst simulating the arm and leg movements of the breast stroke. The idea is that over a period of time the child will become less and less dependant on the arm and leg bands, and the harness and tow rope, and will eventually be able to swim unaided.

This is the system now being employed by our swimming instructor, Miss Hobday, to instruct our dwarf, Mr Leeson. Naturally while she is towing Mr Leeson to and fro across the pool she can’t be instructing the seven non-dwarfs in her class, who are left to their own devices. Miss Hobday apologised in advance for this but said there was nothing she could do about it, that another instructor couldn’t be spared, they didn’t grow on trees, and that she had been told by her superiors to devote half her time to teaching Mr Leeson to swim by the ten-year-olds method, and the other half to teaching the rest of us to swim by the normal method.

One of the normal method men, Mr Hall, said that this was patently unfair as there were seven non-dwarfs in our group and only one dwarf, and that to be fair our hour’s instruction should be split up in the ratio 7.1, seven parts going to the normals and one part to the dwarf.

Mr Leeson said that would mean this would give him only seven and a half minutes instruction time per session while the rest of us would have fifty two and a half minutes, which was not only clearly unfair but discrimination against dwarfs.

Before Miss Hobday could make a ruling on this the fat fuck Mr Liddiard complicated matters by saying that he too wanted to be treated like a ten-year-old and be kitted out with arm and leg bands and towed across the pool by Miss Hobday.

There is a little history with Mr Liddiard and Miss Hobday, inasmuch as just before the session was about to begin Mr Liddiard took it upon himself to jump in the pool again, despite having been warned not to do this after what happened to me during our first lesson. Fortunately no one was in the pool this time so nobody was in danger of being drowned, but the resultant splash drenched Miss Hobday, who was standing poolside, transforming her neatly-ironed white top and shorts into saturated and see-through top and shorts, and her neatly coiffed hair into a bedraggled mess. This could well explain what she then said to Mr Liddiard, when he asked to be treated like a ten-year-old and be kitted out with arm and leg bands and towed across the pool, which was, and I quote: “If I can get hold of a four Goodyear blimps for your arm and leg bands and a ten ton lorry in which to tow you across the pool I will do that: in the meantime you’ll have to stay with the others.”

Three of us, including me, applauded her. The man with the glass eye, Mr Pargeter, and the man with the hump back, Mr Gearing, laughed out loud, but then both had axes to grind, Mr Liddiard having previously referred to them, within their hearing, as Cat’s Eye and Quasimodo.

Mr Liddiard, red-faced and fuming, left the scene without a word, and that was the last we saw of him.  Five minutes before the scheduled end of the lesson, Miss Hobday was summoned to the office. Ominously, we didn’t see her again either.

Farewell You Twat

June 19th 2006

“It won’t feel a thing,” said Atkins Down The Road reassuringly.
“I don’t give a monkey’s if it does feel a thing,“ I replied. “In fact I would prefer it to feel a thing after all the pain it’s given me with its infernal barking and howling these past few days.”
We were discussing the proposition that Atkins should end the Pollitt’s dog’s life with a bullet from his .22 rifle.
“That apart though there’s the question of the aftermath to consider,” I went on. “I doubt if Pollitt, his fright of a wife, and his horrible offspring, collectively have the brainpower of a backward fruit bat, but even so I fear that one of them just might suspect their dog didn’t die of natural causes once they see a bullet hole in it.”
Atkins chewed on this for a moment or two, then said: “There wouldn’t be a bullet hole if I shot it up the arsehole.”
A chink of light appeared. “You could do that?”
He shrugged. “Maybe. However, crack shot that I am, and being completely honest about it, I couldn’t absolutely guarantee it. It’s possible we could end up with a dog with two arseholes.”
The chink of light disappeared. “In that case forget it. The Pollitts would be no less suspicious if they found it dead and that in the act of dying it had sprouted another arsehole than they would be if they’d found it with a bullet hole in it.”
The above conversation took place this morning when I was looking for ways to bring the You Twat situation to a satisfactory conclusion. Satisfactory to me that is. The other options I considered were –
(a) Make another attempt to take You Twat for a walk.
(b) Render it more or less constantly asleep by tossing it a sleeping pill –spiked meatball every morning.
(c) Render it permanently asleep by adding poison to one of the spiked meatballs.
(d) Adopt Fatfiz’s ploy of kicking it in the bollocks (To gain its respect I suppose, although he wasn’t specific on this).
(e) Move house.
(f) Pay for the Pollitts to move house.
After much thought I decided that (a) was a non-starter because of what happened the last time I tried to do this; (b) would be too expensive: (c) would be the ideal solution but would make me a murderer: (d) would be a solution but might make You Twat a murderer: (e) would be too inconvenient: and (f) the Pollitts would probably laugh at me, and even if they didn’t I couldn’t afford it.
In the end I went for simplicity and decided to simply turn You Twat loose. There’s an excellent that it will get lost simply because as it has never been anywhere it won’t know the way back.
I feel no guilt about this whatsoever. For what sort of existence must it be, condemned to life imprisonment tied to a clothes stump all day every day? Better for the dog to be given the chance to roam free. With a bit of luck someone will find it, take pity on it, and give it a good home. And even if they don’t and it has to fend for itself surely that’s a better life than the one it’s had up to now.
Later I went into the Pollitts back garden, made sure no one saw me, set You Twat loose, and opened the back gate for it. It shot out of it and down the road like shit off a shovel. For good, in more than one sense of the word, I hope.