Thursday, 26 September 2013

Still Time For Trashy Tales

Despite the sizeable stacks of ever-increasing exercise books and stamps for every eventuality that seem to perpetually surround me, I've still managed to keep up with the news this week. Among the daily headlines detailing horrors in Kenya and Syria, I came across several stories that could easily slip you by and need sharing...

Metro's front page told of a gifted student's attempt to rob a Liverpool branch of Barclays with a BB gun: 

Chessington theme park have employed style gurus, threatening the continuation of the leopard print trend: 

Villagers in Shantou City in China's Guangdong province have befriended an escaped hippo with the aid of multiple cabbages: 

Fake penises and urine are apparently easily obtainable online; an Italian long-distance runner attempted to cheat a drugs test by purchasing said items: 

And a survey by Opinium Research has rather tellingly revealed 21% of men and 10% of women haven't read a book in the last year with 49% of those questioned claiming they don't have time to read:

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

The Fate Loop Is Tempted

Back in the middle ages folk had the right idea when they warned against “talking of the devil”. Originally used as a threat against directly naming God's nemesis, talking about said figure or evil in general, these days the proverb has a new face - “tempting God” in the 1300s, “tempting fortune” in 1603 and more popularly “tempting fate” around 1700. My superstitious forebearers were of a more religious disposition than me and believed “speaking of the devil” would actually incite the horned “man”, therefore resulting in unfortunate consequences (

This week I've had a very unpleasant reminder of exactly how accurate said proverb can be. As I clicked on “update”, I turned to a colleague to breezily comment how awful a computer crash at that precise moment might be. Having spent a good hour and a half bumbling through an enormous professional development questionnaire on a website used by my new employer, I should have known merely verbalising my thoughts was “tempting fate”. OK, the computer didn't crash; instead, as soon as I'd saved the document and logged out, I returned to a rather empty proforma. Being a little paranoid I wanted to reassure myself my endeavours were safely logged. My actions failed to provide me with peace of mind, revealing a blank document that in the process proved I am indeed incredibly unlucky.

On countless occasions when my luck has failed, my generally ignored “gut” has often rather cleverly already predicted any negative outcomes. Today, I've made a personal vow to henceforth try to avoid stating any such negativity in order to perhaps escape repeat instances where fate is quite blatantly tempted to shaft me again. Feeling rather unlucky at present, I have to wonder whether the very act of writing this blog is already tempting fate?

Friday, 6 September 2013

Carousel Hell

You'll have to knot it up if you need the loo,” beams a jovial voice as fellow passengers smirk in amusement at the train conductor's attempt to make light of an already testing situation. A sarcastic voice taunts me; “Welcome back to England,” it jeers.

When it rains it pours”; my return journey to Inglaterra perfectly illustrated the idiom's meaning. An hour journey to Guatemala airport in order to get a three hour flight to Houston was followed by a two hour wait before another flight to Frankfurt. Nine hours later and I pottered around Frankfurt killing time before the final leg of my journey back to Manchester.

Another seven hours later and finally back on English soil and keen to get home, the queue for passport control loomed and the normal luggage collection fears kicked in. Already dubious I'd be reunited with my bag, the fear started to mount thirty minutes after the imminent arrival of our baggage was announced. Allayed by the cluster of fellow passengers also looking expectantly at the “carousel”, I'm still optimistic bed is in sight.

My gut instinct is unfortunately perceptive and five minutes after the last bag appears, there's still no obvious sign of my luggage. A lady in uniform confirms the obvious telling me there's no more baggage. The explanation is predictable: my bag has been held in Houston and will be returned to me by courier the next day.

Having already been awake for nearly thirty hours, I make it to Manchester airport's train station only to be told services are limited due to engineering works and I'll have to wait almost an hour until the next train. Running on a mixture of frustrated adrenaline and exhausted near hysteria, I board the train only to hear an announcement apologising that all the train's toilets are mysteriously out of service. “Welcome home,” says the man opposite me, mirroring my English sarcasm. When it rains it really does pour!

Bed is almost in reach. As I contemplate sinking into familiar surroundings, the tannoy announces the “mysterious recovery” of one of the train toilets and there's all-round chuckling. At least I'm finally less than two hours from home and won't have to cart much around or unpack on my arrival! Things are looking up...