Friday, 26 February 2010

At it again

He's at it again! Ka and myself opened our eyes this morning only to hear the monotone groaning of our Sing Star Neighbour's voice yelling along to music again with some mates. What is it with this guy?!
Ka said that she'd heard him come home with friends at around 2am and they had been singing on and off ever since. Don't get me wrong. I don't mean to sound like a miserable old git who doesn't enjoy the occasional sing-a-long but this guy and his mates seem to make a worrying hobby of it. They're not even good singers. If I was waking up to Andrea Bocelli shaking the walls with his voice every morning I wouldn't mind so much as at least he can sing. We don't even recognise what the neighbour is singing now it's that bad. I'm amazed I had not woken up through the night. It must have been the paint fumes that knocked me out.
Yesterday I spent the day painting the bedroom walls and ceiling, freshening the place in time for springtime. Which is supposedly on it's way but by the looks of this weather it looks a bit far off yet.
Snow again? Jeez. I actually swore with dread on Tuesday morning when Ka opened the curtains to a newly restored white world. Once again I was faced with the winter battles of climbing the snow covered street in our rather stubborn car.
As I left on Wednesday morning our neighbour Kay was leaving her flat, in the next block up, with her two wee girls. Kay is a rather nice neighbour whose always full of smiles when you meet her, even though I have inadvertantly ignored her and her happy, waving kids on many occasions whilst being out and about. Though I'm not sure whether they'll be quite as friendly anymore.
Kay and her two sprogs were in the car before me as we made our way up the hill to leave the street. After a few moments of driving Kay's car slid and stuck and I sighed internally as I realized I'd be next. The Toyota kept going though (thankfully under my control and not some missing part) and I could barely believe I was still moving. Steering the car around Kay, who was waving from her front seat, I realised that if I slowed, or even stopped now it could be disasterous for my chances of getting up the hill. Assuming Kay's waving was as a greeting or a 'overtake me' wave I smiled and made sure I waved back as the car kept on climbing through the snow. It was only then it occured to me. Maybe Kay had been waving me down? Maybe she'd been wanting a shove? I knew my own car would go into it's usual sleety wheelspin if I was to stop on the hill, so after a few moments of weighing things up in my head, I kept going, leaving the neighbours in their small car behind me. I hope Kay didn't swear in front of her kiddies.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

A dubious pastime

Who killed Archie Mitchell? What numbers will the Pope be doing on Glasgow Green? Is Cheryl and Ashley Cole's marriage a sham to cover their secret identities as a racist pop star and a gay footballer? What is so fascinating about Twitter? Why does Chaz hate facebook? And finally, who is the best karaoke singer out of us? All these questions and so very little definite answers came out of dinner on Friday night.
Well, with the exception of the last question. I would definately give that prize to Heather and her fabulous rendition of 'Any Dream Will Do'. Colin and Ka seemed fairly unwilling to sing anything which rules them out of the prize and my 'Eye of the Tiger' was more than likely fairly dreadful. Memories of running up the 72 steps leading up to the Museum of Art in Philadelphia back in 2003 sprang to mind as I belted out the Survivor hit (the Philadelphia Art gallery's security guards must be so bored of people jogging up those steps). Ka and Heather danced as i sang whilst Colin slouched on the couch, looking fairly embarassed - obviously not drunk enough. I've always hated karaoke which makes the whole 'singing it in your own living room' realisation even harder to deal with. Still, I could always pop upstairs and ask Sing Star neighbour what he thought of my singing. The singing upstairs neighbour and his pals got his revenge on Sunday night singing something incoherent at full volume after Ka and myself came home from dinner. Colin and Heather reckon they are a practising boyband. Ka reckons they just definately need the practise.
Before the karaoke, Chaz had escaped off home as he was up early for work the next morning. Before this he had been doing a lot of moaning about facebook users and people that like to generally chat online as if it was some sort of highly dubious pastime. Looking back i now realise he was perhaps having an, ever so subtle, dig at me for keeping an online blog. Maybe he has every right to but I wouldn't sit at his dinner party and rant about his dubious pastimes (not that I know of any of course...).
Anyway, he missed the best part of the night. Ka's Woo Woos. No, this is not slang for something. These were Ka's cocktails. A rather refreshing mix of Peach Schanpps, Vodka, cranberry juice and ice. Perfect for our dinner party.
As a result we all felt slightly dozey the next morning, some of us not even managing to finish our rolls and sausage. After an hour of eighties pop videos we went our seperate ways once more. Colin will now be back down south teaching young Basildonians how to speak proper, no doubt looking forward to his next trip north on which he'll be hoping to avoid any karaoke.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Chief coat taker

Preperations are under way in our kitchen for the arrival of our dinner guests arriving tonight. Ka is once more Little Miss Organisation, striving as always to be the hostess with the mostess. As Ka cooks, I'll sit and eat pretzels until my mostly lowlier role of coat taker, barman and then dishwasher will come into play. I've pretty much had the same role in all house parties. When Mum and Dad hosted the Boxing Night parties for the extended family, for instance, I was always chief coat taker, until later, when Kenny and Lynsey were deemed worthy enough to take on the mantle. A thoroughly complex job, that involved a lot of trust, come to think of it. An untrustworthy coat taker could have easily rifled through anyones pockets!
The coat taker greeted guests upon arrival and helped take their coats and jackets off before then ferrying them to Mum and Dad's bedroom upstairs where they would be laid out in a tidy pile over the bed (the coats that is!). Then late night would arrive and relatives would be shouting at you to deliver their coat and you'd have to use your memory skills to remember who had which jacket. If your memory failed you, it would be down to your deductive skills to sort it out as in what coat would go with whose outfit. This train of thought did not always work out as I'll always remember some of the looks of incredulity when a drunk uncle was accidentally given someone elses coat to wear for their trip home. After some complaint they'd sometimes even measure it up for size. All the while my Gran watching from the the corner in too deep an arguement with someone else to interupt and ask why her coat was being passed around.
Fortunately there is only going to be five of us tonight. Maybe six, depending if Chaz turns up with his new partner. Ka and myself thought we'd better invite her in an effort to get to know her as we've only met her twice, (once in Ka's case). It would be a chance to test the water and suss out if she's good enough for the man from the Merc. What does she do for a living? Where does she come from? What films she's seen or books she's read recently? Does she have any kids? If she's thinking of a date yet? And any other questions you ask at dinner parties to folk you've don't know. If she does not seem very forthcoming a quick rifle through her coat pockets wouldn't go amiss.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

3D and the urge to clap

"Not sure about anything with blue men in it". Gareth mumbled this a month or so ago on our tea break when discussing the trailers that had been circulating of James Cameron's new film, 'Avatar'.
At the time I completely agreed with him, the new trailers looking like yet another horrible, 'Phantom Menace' like venture into computer generated alien characters. The last thing I wanted to go and see after the major disappointment of 'The Phantom Menace' (grrrrr....) was a whole movie based on another Jar Jar Binks goofing about. As the weeks went by, the good reviews kept on coming and friends and family were going along to the cinema and leaving with not much bad to say about it recommending it endlessly, nodding enthusiastically and just generally going on about how great it was. The sceptic in me was slowing giving way to curiousity. Fortunately the cat was not killed.
After finally talking Ka into accompanying me along to the cinema on Saturday, as she had had little or no interest in seeing it, we were pretty much blown away by how good Avatar was. As it turns out it's got to be the the most visually spectacular and exciting pieces of cinema in years and certainly a great film even if you did go without the 3D glasses. The characterisation, plot, themes, including obvious war analogies, and effects all superbly flesh out what could easily have descended into a movie for the playstation generation if it had been in the hands of any other director. The fantastic visualisation of Cameron and crew bring a whole new world to life and create a fantastic movie reminding you what a cinema experience should be about, the 3D effects bolstering this even more so.
I even clapped at the end?! It's been a while since I've felt like standing up and clapping as the end credits begin but more than a few folk in the large cinema cheered and clapped and I joined in losing myself for a brief second before almost instantly feeling stupid. You still feel silly and it is pretty much pointless unless you're sitting at the premier at Leicester Square in the seat next to Sigourney Weaver. If you clap in a normal cinema you just give the impression that you're particularly pleased with how the projectionist pressed his projecting buttons or that you've been let out for the day. Just this once more than a few of us in the cinema gave in to the urge though. Hopefully it wasn't just that bunch of kids with the one adult sitting behind me that looked as if they were on some kind of field trip. That would have been one hell of a field trip though.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Who needs Valentines?

Valentines Day. Again. Hate it. Especially this year as it has somehow become a Valentines Weekend?! Woke up yesterday morning to Edith on Radio 1 wishing us all a Happy Valentines Weekend. Give us a break, I thought, it 's bad enough we've got to put up with one day a year of forced romantic nonsense. I've nothing much against romantic nonsense but when it's forced upon you by the shops and birthday card corporations it becomes severely unromantic in my opinion. Ka gets flowers at least once a month anyway and I feel stubbornly against rushing out and buying flowers just because some card corporation or the posh lady in the M&S ads tells me to.
Ka got a nice purple Orchid this year. No roses. The Orchid is an effort to help her look after her very own plant life. She is always bemoaning her lack of plant caring skills so in an effort to address this I decided upon a nice Orchid for her Valentines present alongside the usual card. Unfortunately she found the Orchid early, on Friday night, in the shadows behind the cupboard door. A place I put it safe in the knowledge that she'd never for one second go in behind the cupboard door before Sunday. She did. Women. Typical.
I also put together a photo book for her on the Kodak Gallery website uploading various photographs from the past year and making a sort of year book in fetching red, linen hardback form. Ka loved it and I got the sense it made up for any lack of roses. Of course she also got breakfast in bed, consisting of a cheese Omelette and toast accompanied by a giant mug of coffee. Again, like the flowers, she get's an omelette in bed at least once a month too. Maybe I just spoil her or maybe I'm just a fantastic husband... I'd better stop now before I sound too smug with myself.
Who needs Valentines Day?

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Remember my name!

Ka and myself discovered we have a karaoke machine in our tv last night?! We were having a 'quiet one' which involved staying in and watching movies with a couple of beers and a bowl of pretzels. It had been years since I had ate pretzels and I'd completely forgotten how good they actually are. A curly wurly like crisp with heavy doses of salt sprinkled over. Invented by Italian Monks apparently. The three holes in the loop representing the Christian Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The more religious readers out there will probably be disappointed to hear that Ka and myself did not partake in much of a Christian ceremony whilst watching 'Iron Man' though. We simply considered them a good munch, perfect for a 'quiet one' with a couple of beers. In fact, I've just this minute polished off the last of the packet whilst watching the latest episode of 'Being Human'. My very own way of keeping the Sabbath. (Incidentally, Curly Wurly's were great too. Remember them? Do you still get them?! They were more ladder shaped than Holy Trinity shaped though...)
Anyway, Ka was browsing through the movies on offer via our Virgin media movie rental system and came across a whole karaoke section in which you could purchase music videos for 20p each. A bargain, if you were up for making a fool of yourself. For some, inexplicable reason, we were! So safe in the knowledge that it had been darkness in the upstairs flat when we had arrived home and under the impression Mr Singstar (see post 'Take That hell') was out Ka pressed the buy button. Despite some lame complaints and disapprovals from myself, I eventually relented and Ka and myself ended up singing Fame at the top of our voices dancing around the living room. The accompanying video which looked like something straight off the Movies 24 channel told the heartfelt story about a dreary looking housewife dreaming about the life she could of had if she had not married her boss from the office all those years ago (it kinda reminded me of a few folk actually).
As the music finished and the living room returned to quiet, Ka and myself laughed at our stupidity and as I turned to go to the loo (the vague dancing about the living room had obviously affected my 30 something year old bladder) we stopped. Suddenly music blared into full volume from upstairs, rising from the quiet volume it had obviously been sitting in before our audible onslaught. Mr Singstar was in fact, in the building and was obviously not impressed by our fame rendition. As I made my way out into the hall, cowering with embarrassment, I eventually realised through laughing that it certainly was not the worst thing the neighbour could have overheard us sing. He had been singing Take That constantly for a whole Sunday with his pals for gawds sake. Once Mr Singstar, upstairs, realised fame had just been a one off, his music soon quietened back down again to a more normal volume and we settled down to watch our movie with our pretzels.