Saturday, 24 December 2011

The Annual Christmas Tree Argument

Dear Reader, 

It's that time of year again. Carollers lurk menacingly outside supermarkets and stalk the streets, singing to their prey. There is anarchy in the shops where normally kind and gentle folk fight tooth and nail for the last precious gift for little Timmy. Turkeys the world over are preparing for their annual break in the West Indies. Yes, it's Christmas, time of extra holidays, over-indulgence, present swapping and arguments. That's right; arguments.

I could talk about shopping-related meltdowns, but in my household this is less of an issue since the inception of on-line shopping. Thank god. I do have to indulge in some retail torture but when sent I have instructions.

There is, however, a yearly argument that develops during the erection of the Christmas decorations. I am already in a bad mood, as retrieving the Christmas decorations from our garage would try the patience of someone far more patient than me. The problem here is that Christmas decorations only come out at Christmas. They then spend 350 days a year packed away in boxes and bin liners waiting to make another appearance. A lot has happened in the intervening time and my little brain has only got so much space for important information like "Where are the Christmas decorations stored exactly?" It is flushed down the cranial toilet by the middle of January. As a consequence, come December I find the Christmas tree box (handily illustrated with a picture of a Christmas tree, otherwise this too would be lost) along with any other boxes and bags in the near vicinity. I hope that this will be all the decorations. 

This proves not to be the case. I have found the main tree, a small tree which sits in the window, one piece of useful tinsel (which the cats immediately get friendly with), and the old set of baubles. The old set of baubles I hear you ask? Yes the old set, different colour scheme you see.

You may be wondering why we still have them, as opposed to having donated them to charity or something. To understand this you have to understand the house policy on parting with things, which is, never part with things ever. Store them, somewhere, forever. It is possible, that in the future, we may end up in a house where we need two dishwashers, three fridges and a second Christmas Tree with silver themed decorations. The justifications become so thin that they are almost see-through, but the result is always the same - things end up in the garage. The garage is full, and the garage is scary, especially in the dark.

So, having failed to procure all of the Christmas decorations at the first attempt, a deeper search of the aforementioned garage is required. This requires opening everything which could conceivably contain Christmas decorations. After some physical injury i.e. boxes falling on my head and the rediscovery of a Teasmaid, I find a box cleverly labelled X-MAS DECS. You can see how my patience has been tested. This, however,  is only the entree, the main course is yet to come. It comes in the form of the annual Christmas tree argument. I used to be the aggressor in this argument which went like this:

Me: I hate this Christmas tree.
DLW (Dear Lady Wife): It's fine, it has served us well for many years.
Me: It's small cheap and tacky. One day I am going to get rid of it and get a new one.
DLW: Yes dear.

Crap Old Christmas Tree - through my eyes.
Three Christmas's ago I snapped. Rather than put the Christmas tree away in the scary garage I threw the damn thing away. Next year I bought a new one, which is a tiny bit bigger.

As a result the annual Christmas tree argument has a new dynamic, the dear lady wife is now the aggressor, which is more like this:

FLW (Fuming Lady Wife): I hate this Christmas tree.
Me: It's lovely, so much nicer than the old one.
FLW: It's huge, it dominates the room, it's stupid.
Me: It's an aspiration tree, making us aspire to a bigger house with a room big enough to hold it.
FLW: It won't fit anywhere. It's bigger than the one outside the town hall. Where is the old tree?
Me: Errrmm .....

Lovely Christmas Tree - through DLW's eyes.

Interestingly both arguments subside once the tree has been assembled. The (new) baubles have been hung and the strange object which is not an angel (it's ART apparently) has been placed on the top and is almost straight. Maybe we just need to get the Christmas decoration thing out of our systems.

Enough from me, the DLW is sending me shopping again, on CHRISTMAS EVE! I don't have instructions. Must be revenge for the Christmas Tree.

Merry Christmas Dear Reader


Sunday, 27 November 2011

Postcards From Venice - Our Feathered Enemies

Dear Reader, 

Whilst wandering around the streets and piazzas of Venice I noticed something interesting about the feathered inhabitants of the city. There were a lot of pigeons and also quite a few seagulls wandering about and generally making a nuisance of themselves. They nearly all had one thing in common. They were fat. 

Venetian Pigeon - Chubby

London Pigeon - The Lighter Variety
Being a regular to visitor to London I get to see a lot of pigeons on my travels. London pigeons are straggly little beasts in comparison to their Venetian counterparts. I wondered why this would be and I think I have an answer: the motor car. London pigeons are constantly being harassed by the motor car. Being rather foolish animals you will often find pigeons wandering about in the road looking for little tidbits of food. If the London pigeon wishes to live a full and rewarding life then he better be able to move quickly to get out of the way of cars. Cars do not stop for pigeons. Well, not in London anyway.

The life of the Venetian pigeon is conducted at a far more relaxed pace. The Venetian pigeon has to avoid the feet of tourists and the occasional over enthusiastic dog but that is about it. For a Venetian pigeon to reach a ripe old age, he really needs to go to the gym.

The slower paced life of the Venetian pigeon has other consequences as well. Not for the pigeons themselves but for the many people who visit Venice, including us. In a previous post I related some of the issues my dear lady wife Smiffy had with flying insects whilst in Thailand. A variation of this behavior was exhibited whilst in Venice. The problem here was that as the pigeons were a little overweight they didn't seem too bothered about flying at high altitude. No, they seemed quite happy to cruise along at tourist head height.

Another problem also manifested itself whilst wandering the narrow Venetian lanes. Pigeons on the ground. When on the ground the Venetian pigeon will attempt to walk (waddle, actually) very slowly out of your way. This evasive maneuver would occasionally put itself in the way of another threat which it hadn't spotted previously. A form of panic then sets in which the pigeon will attempt to escape by taking off, without any great consideration of direction as it is (quite literally) in a bit of a flap.

The consequence of all this is that Smiffys' progress through the streets of Venice was erratic to say the least. There would be backwards walking, walking behind me, stopping, running, diagonal darting and all manner of other tactics to avoid the Venetian pigeon. A soundtrack consisting of screeches, sighs, cries of 'Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee kamikaze bloody thing!', instructions to stop, duck or run would also emanate from my much harassed wife.

Venetian seagulls are also worth mentioning. They are also fat and prone to flying at tourist eye-level. Not only are they fat, they are large, about the same size as an Alsatian. They are also insane. I saw one fly off with a small child whilst her mother was buying an ice cream. Having been liberated of several hundred Euros for the ice cream, she turns to find Penelope gone. This sort of thing is so common in Venice that it didn't even make the papers. By this sort of thing, I mean the kidnap of a small child by a seagull, not the cost of the ice cream. Both incidents would have made front page news in the UK.

It occurs to me that I may have made that last bit up.

Venetian Seagulls Larking About.
Or did I?

More soon Dear Reader. xx

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Postcards From Venice - Bread Basket Politics

Dear Reader,

I have been away, sampling the delights of Venice, former power player in European trade, now a tourist destination unlike any other. This is a truly magical city, characterised by it's waterways, museums, ancient buildings and absence of cars. It is a wonder to behold. I could go on, but I am not a travel writer and this is not a travel blog.

Anyhoo, myself and the dear lady wife Smiffy were sitting down for dinner. It should be noted that we have not researched this restaurant in advance, we have just stumbled in because it is a little chilly and there maybe something on the menu that doesn’t instantly offend Smiffy's delicate palate.

We are seated and wait for the first bizarre inevitability of Venetian dining, the bread basket. An example, (not taken from our own experience) below.

Lovely, Crunchy Bread
A Typical  Venetian Breadbasket.
The breadbasket is a staple of Italian dining. Served with an olive oil and balsamic vinegar suspension for dipping purposes, lovely. The Venetian version is slightly different. Breadbasket arrives, olive oil and balsamic vinegar are present, however not currently combined. So, a DIY job is required, which would be fine if there was a side plate. There is not. What I was actually presented with is presented below.

This is one of my own pictures, sneakily shot whilst none of the staff or patrons were watching, hence the distortion. My “plate” appears to be adorned by something called a Doily, which I only recognise as a weird object draped across the head of the sofa at my long deceased Grandparents. This is an object so obscure to me I have only with the help of Mr Google learned how to spell it. I was not expecting this object to appear in a restaurant thirty years later. The plate itself (apologies again for the photography) is a round metal disc modelled on a shield perhaps wielded by Venetian warriors in old times. It is (mercifully) flat. I have a quandary, is this a side plate? Am I expected to throw olive oil and balsamic vinegar on this thing to create the perfect bread basket experience?

I and my dear wife take the safe option, which is to munch upon some breadsticks. A helpful tip here, THIS IS NOT A SAFE OPTION! We are in a restaurant where about five tables of couples are happily chatting until we start munching breadsticks. They are hard, really hard. They are also very loud. Conversation seems to slow on the tables around us. The room seems to have some clever acoustic qualities as now all that seems to be audible is the sound of us getting through the first mouthfuls of breadstick. MUNCH MUNCH MUNCH MUNCH.

There is another problem. Our MUNCHING attracted the attention of some other diners, specifically, the couple on our right side. They are an elderly couple, which presents no problem in itself. They are French, this also is not the problem. The male of the party has turned to look at us. This is a problem but the main problem is far more specific. I don’t know how to put this, but he has a wandering eye. Not the wandering eye of a pervert, no, this is the wandering eye of the mad. I mean mad in the horror sense of the word. Like Professor Frankenstein’s bulging eyed servant, so fittingly rendered by Marty Feldman in the Mel Brookes classic Young Frankenstein. A picture may help.


Have you ever been placed in a restaurant and realised that, on reflection, a different table, or maybe even a different universe was required? This was that day. However, how do you make this happen?
Waiter arriving for drinks:
  • What would you like to order?
  • Oh a different table please. On a different planet from the freak sat next to me, thanks.
This sounds a little harsh, especially as the issue is about a metre away. There is also another worry. Had I gone through with the brave statement above I would be directly behind Igor, as this was the only table available, that was not already occupied. What if, after moving, we settle in our new table, only to find that Igor has a revolving head, a la The Exorcist and swivels through 180 degrees to stare at us again? I cannot handle this much stress.

We stay where we are feeling uncomfortable. Eventually Igor leaves, the dolies are never explained and the food is eatable (ish).

More soon about eatable food. Any assistance regarding the correct use of Venetian breadbaskets would be greatly appreciated.

More soon dear reader xx

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Why did I go to Ikea, Why? The Sequel

Dear Reader, 

I recently (last post actually) blogged about a visit to Ikea to purchase a sofa and chaise lounge. This post covered the horrors of a visit to Ikea right up to eventually escaping to the car park with your portable purchases stowed and deliveries organised. This should have been the end of the story. Regrettably, that is not the case, hence this second post on the subject.

A timeline is required I feel.

06-11-11:  Purchases made, already been covered previously, I won't go on about this again.

08-11-11: Delivery day. When delivery was arranged it was made clear that the delivery person(s) would be in contact by phone approximately one hour before the delivery was due to arrive. This did not happen. My delivery was first on their run hence it was early. I was on holiday, so I was asleep. A rude awakening by a knock on the door forces me to throw on a motley collection of clothing which was to hand and run to the door. So, clad in a paint covered t-shirt (I have been decorating) and equally paint covered jeans I answer the door.

Packages are transported into my lounge. The first large package is clearly a sofa. Followed by boxes that contains sofa and chaise lounge covers. A long rectangular, but rather skinny package arrives, then nothing. I explain to the driver that this does not look like my complete order. He looks at me in a manner that suggests I am from another planet. Apparently he is not used to such customer facing situations. He waves a delivery note at me, explaining that they have delivered everything on the delivery note. Usefully the Ikea Customer Services number is also on this note.

Before contacting Customer Services we thought it would be a good idea to work out what we had got. The assembly process begins. After much swearing, grunting and incredulous looks at some of the most ridiculous instructions ever written, a sofa appears, fully functional and surprisingly comfortable. 

What remains is a rectangular wooden frame and some cloth. Perhaps this is a minimalist interpretation of a piece of furniture? Well whatever it is, it's time to call Customer Services. To be fair this was less painful than expected, surprisingly few choices were offered on the phone number when dialed, which suggests the number in question had a single purpose which is good. Although initially eighth in the queue I rapidly progressed to a human voice. The human voice assessed that this was a picking error, everything was OK with the original order, but unfortunately all the elements of the order had not been grabbed from the warehouse. The human voice apologised and said the remaining items would be with us on 11-11-11, an auspicious day as the figures attest.

11-11-11:  Another delivery day. On this day I was not awakened by a knock on the door, or a phone call. I am still on holiday and slept in again. I was awakened by a hungry cat licking my nose. Time passes...

At approximately 2pm I am phoned by Ikea Customer Services again. The lady sounded a little confused. "Have I phoned you already?". "Erm, no" I reply. I am now a little off guard. I am speculating she may have been to the pub at lunchtime. "I've had so much going on I couldn't remember if I had phoned you or not.". Yep, definitely been to the pub. "Your delivery will not be arriving until tomorrow." Ah.

Apparently 11-11-11 is not an auspicious day for us after all. The doomsayers will be devastated.

12-11-11: Yet another delivery day. This time a new phenomenon is observed - the prior to delivery phone call. Only because they are lost. Never mind, at least they are coming. Within forty five minutes come they do. Complete with packages. The packages look suspiciously similar to the packages delivered the first time round. On closer inspection they are PRECISELY the same stock items delivered the first time round. Thankfully there was a shortage of blunt instruments and shotguns in the near vicinity. I merely sent the minions of Ikea on their way with their packages.

Back to Customer Services. The dear lady wife Smiffy had to step in at this point. I was a little emotional . So I went into the garden and spent a little bit of quality time with an Ikea catalogue and a crossbow. Meanwhile Smiffy dealt with the second call. Apparently getting in contact was a little bit more painful than my first experience. A queue was encountered, which Smiffy began at 20th. This news was delivered quietly, in a measured voice. Hold music, in the interim, was delivered at a volume that made the house shake. That music was Abba, Dancing Queen. 20 seconds of DANCING QUEEN, followed by "you are 20th in the queue". 20 seconds of DANCING QUEEN followed by followed by "you are 19th in the queue". Then the music changed. 20 seconds of WATERLOO followed by followed by "you are 19th in the queue". Oh you appear to be stuck in a Swedish music/on-hold hell. But then a ray of hope...  20 seconds of WATERLOO followed by followed by "you are 12th in the queue". Eventually, at some point during MAMMA MIA Smiffy gets to speak to someone. A transcript is required...
  • IK: Hello, Ikea Cutsomer Services.
  • S: Hello. I had a piece of furniture delivered, it was not complete. We phoned your good selves, who told us the error was clear, a warehouse error. 
  • IK: Oh, ohhhhh, that is very unfortunate.
  • S: Yes it is.
  • IK: Erm.
  • S: So what are you going to do about it?
  • IK: Can I put you on hold for a moment. I just need to double check this situation.
  • IK: Hello, Mrs Smiffy, are you still there?
  • S: Yes
  • IK: OK, I see what has happened here. You haven't actually bought the piece of furniture that you were expecting to be delivered. That is why it was not delivered.
  • S:. WHAT?
  • IK: Yes, I am afraid that appears to be the case. If you want this piece of furniture then the cost will be xxx
  • S: I wanted it, I ordered it, I was told I would get it, I still want it, I will pay for it.
  • IK: Great! We can certainly arrange this for you. 
  • S: When?
  • IK: Ooooh, not for ages. We can have someone call you at some point next week and take payment. Then we need to organise delivery.
  • S: Oh dear god, NO! Give me the product code and I will send my husband to you.
  • IK: There is the small matter of the piece of frame you have, which is of no use to you and should never have been delivered. When will you be returning this?
  • S: Never.
  • IK: Right. Shall we pick that up then when we are next with you?
  • S: I would advise that. It's the only way you are ever going to get it back. By the way, we threw away the box, instructions and all the packaging and put the thing together. I even peeled off the un-removable price labels. I hope that doesn't affect my consumer rights?
  • IK: Not at all Mrs Smiffy. We value your custom and hope we have provided a quality purchasing experience.
  • S: *hollow crazed laugh*
Didn't think I would be back so soon.
So after all that I return to IKEA to make the amended purchase and sort out the chaos that has occurred, thinking this should be straight-forward. How wrong could I be. First I return to the Sofa department to explain the situation. They, like the delivery people before them, look at me like I was from another planet.  At least five members of this team have different and conflicting views as to what the solution to this conundrum should be. There is much hammering of computer screens, head-scratching, wringing of hands and general confusion. Eventually a consensus is reached, which can be summarised thus: "We don't know, go to Customer Services". 

My heart sinks, as Customer Services is also Customer Returns. Some people never come back from Customer Returns. I am sure I saw Lord Lucan there once.   

Missing, presumed in Ikea.
I do not have three days drinking water and energy snacks. I do not have a torch, a blanket or a tent, prerequisites for such an ordeal.  I go there anyway, with heavy heart to begin what could be a very long wait. Upon arrival, much as you would at the deli counter at your local supermarket, you collect a ticket. Mine says 69, they have just called 59, this can't be so bad can it? I spot a drinks machine, thinking at least I could get some water so I head over. It won't take my money. If there is such a thing as karma I must have annoyed a Swedish furniture maker in a previous life. I return to my seat to wait. A couple of life-times elapse. My number is called! Deep breath, here we go.

I relate again my sorry tale, again I am met with the alien from another planet look. Do they teach that look in staff training? Computer keyboards are hammered again, heads are scratched again. After some deliberation a member of the sofa department is summoned. More wringing of hands and puzzled looks.

Having seen what is going on with the computer I am beginning to have some sympathy with the staff in question. My stock item is not a single thing, it is an umbrella name for a line items of which there are 557 of in total. Sofas, chairs, chaise lounges, cushions, cushion covers, sofa covers, bizarre wooden frames and a small breed of dog all in different colours and fabrics.
Eventually a solution is found, as identified by the previous phone conversation. I have indeed been sold the wrong item. An order for the right item is processed, which I can pick from another warehouse a short distance away from the store. I emerge from the store older and greyer but triumphant.

Hopefully this is the end of the saga.

More soon dear reader xx

PS, whilst searching for images for this post I stumbled across this video, allowing me to tenuously link cats to my post. Hope you don't mind...

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Why did I go to Ikea, Why?

Dear Reader,

I am a tolerant soul, who can generally cope with all that the world has to throw at me and come through smiling. This all changes when I visit Ikea with my good lady wife. Ikea; those purveyors of flat-pack furniture and human misery in equal doses.

Paradise, not.
If you are in a relationship that is under strain and needs a good argument, go to Ikea. You can guarantee that the special atmosphere engineered in this flat-pack furniture emporium well make it happen. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that marriage guidance counsellors recommend a trip to Ikea to get those issues out. I am slightly surprised that rolling pins are not supplied at the front door.

I have, on this visit made some of the worst mistakes that an Ikea visitor can make. I am looking for an item which I may need some assistance/advice with. I am also looking for a bulky item which will need delivering. My last mistake was to visit on a Sunday.

Every Ikea I have visited appears to be modelled on Dante’s seven circles of Hell. There is a slight deviation from the traditional model as you start at the bottom, move to the top and then gradually work your way through a number of tortures before eventually reaching the bottom again. This is how the circles work…
  1. The Car Park, which is huge. You know before you arrive that you will end up purchasing something. Stuff that does not require delivery will need to be transported to your vehicle. This form of transport will be a trolley. If you are lucky only three of the four wheels on this trolley will want to go in different directions all the time. If you are really lucky none of the wheels of the trolley will have an unexplained lump on it which will rattle all of your fragile china on the way back to the car. Because of this you need to park near the exit. Fat fucking chance, unless you want to spend three weeks patrolling the car park. I normally end up in a different time zone and have to adjust my watch as I get closer to shop.
  2. The Showroom. At this point you are at the top of Hell. You gaze longingly at those that are leaving as you ascend through four thousand slowly moving escalators to reach the heights of Hell. It is a nightmare, full of small children who have as yet not realised what they are getting themselves into. They have not picked up on the homicidal vibes emanating from their parents. The exhibits in the showroom appear to be aimed at homeowners who have approximately four cubic inches of space to live in. It is claustrophobic and irritating. I head for the sofa department, where I need some guidance. Guidance from a member of staff is like gold dust. First I need a catalogue, which I need to return to the bottom of the escalators to acquire. Having acquired the catalogue we talk about the sofa which needs delivery. Our guide is deeply unhappy about her lip piercing because she has lost the ball which keeps it together, and we are not entirely convinced that our sofa is more important than that to her. Eventually we leave with a magic piece of paper with a bar code which will allow us to arrange delivery.
  3. The Market Hall (upper level). You cannot escape Ikea without going through the market. At this point you need to acquire one of the aforementioned trolleys. The market is designed in a special way. Head down an aisle and you are guaranteed to be blocked by a couple talking about the relative merits of a specific type of cutlery, or a certain type of light bulb. There are no overtaking points. You find yourself drawn to an area, only to have to reverse out and find another route in. Unless you want to die of old age in pots and pans.
  4. The Market Hall (lower level). Probably the only highlight of my Ikea visit is the descent to the lower market hall level. The trolleys stick to the escalator. This pleases me. At the bottom however is more of the same. An observation about display items is in order. We see a lamp which is quite nice. We wish to add this lamp to our purchases. It has a suitably Swedish name. We search the piles of boxes looking an item called Smorgasbord (or something similar) and come up with nothing. We eventually find the item about four miles away from the display. Bulbs, we say, need bulbs. Head eight nautical miles in the opposite direction and there they are. Anger levels are starting to red line.
  5. The Self-Service Area. Otherwise known as the warehouse. We had spotted a full length mirror which we quite liked. It was located in aisle 43, bay 13. Magically, this location is about as far from humanity as Pluto. When we reach the location we find that the object has grown in size. It is now an object so large, that it will not fit in the car. After a short argument we abandon the purchase, as it would involve finding another trolley and a back injury.
  6. The Tills. There are many aisles of tills but strangely never enough. They are largely manned by ill-mannered cretins who failed the test at McDonalds. There always seems to be an issue when items are scanned. On this occasion there were two. We bought a knife, which required an older member of staff to verify that we were over 21 (flattering but unnecassary). A more thought out test would have been to assess whether the customers where so fucked off by this stage that they might have been a danger to themselves or others. Oh, and you can guarantee that at least one of your items will arrive at the counter without a bar code. Bizarrely, the same item will arrive at the counter with instructions in 294 languages. Clearly this will cause a problem for your pre-pubescent Neanderthal; another ten minutes elapse.
  7. The Home Delivery Area. I am immediately worried because seats are provided, along with vending machines dispensing food and drinks. How hard can this be? Collect a postcode, tell the customer what time it is arriving, get a contact number, job done. Not in Ikea world. We have two people in front of us, both filled with purchases from the Self-Service Area. It took approximately 15 minutes to deal with each. When we eventually arrive I am dying (literally) to know what takes so long. So the issue appears to be a printer which has run out of ink. As a result, the important bits of the delivery note have to be hand-written after the event. Another Neanderthal appears to explain there is nothing that can be done about this. I find this statement interesting, considering that Ikea is located less than a mile from a purveyor of printer cartridges.
There is a worse place though, which I would never visit. Next to the Hell that was the Home Delivery Area lurks a limbo that one may never return from. The Hell that I refer to is the Returns Department. I spent 30 minutes in the Home Delivery Area, which is a long time. In that entire period nobody left the Returns Department. In the unfortunate event of you losing a loved one, before you phone the police, check the Returns Department of your local Ikea. Based on my observations they could be there for days.

So, in summary, Ikea: assisting domestic discord for 25 years.

More soon dear reader.

Monday, 31 October 2011

All Hallows Eve Survival Guide

Dear Reader,

I was watching a haunted house-type horror flick over the weekend (Insidious - quite good actually!) and I was amazed to see that no-one seems to know the rules of survival and what to avoid. As it is now Halloween I have compiled a list of DON'TS that should allow you to survive the witching hour. 

Innocent pumpkin attacked again!
A fair observation regarding this survival guide is that it is a little late. Keep it handy, you can always use it next year. If you have committed any of these then you probably have enough on your plate at the moment.

So, to the list. Avoid all of the following this All Hallows Eve (and generally) and all should be well with your world.
  • If there is a noise emanating from the attic, DO NOT investigate. It may be a trapped bird, or mice, but it is probably something far more sinister that will result in broken bones, possession of loved ones, death, or worse. Amityville HorrorInsidious and almost every over film involving a house.
  • Ditto for the cellar.
  • Ditto for recessed cupboards.
  • DO NOT inhabit a house where the previous incumbents have met a sticky end due to a family member going crazy with a shotgun. This applies to any weapons, knifes, bats etc. Amityville Horror and many others.
  • DO NOT inhabit a house built on an ancient American Indian burial ground. Very bad things will happen. Poltergeist, specifically.
  • DO NOT bury a recently deceased pet in a pet cemetary built over the top of an ancient American Indian burial ground. The subsequent return of the roadkill that used to be Tiddles may seem like a good idea at the time but trust me, it isn't. Pet Cemetery.
  • Just to be sure, avoid anything to do with ancient burial grounds, regardless of the race of the deceased incumbents.
  • If you should happen upon a charming gentleman with icy white skin and pointed teeth, DO NOT invite him in. He is not cool, it is very unlikely that he is Marilyn Manson. Dracula (1931), Dracula (1992) and many more.
  • If you happen to be a priest or wearing priests' clothing, I would strongly suggest not standing near a flight of steep stairs. Also avoid churches (ironically) during thunderstorms. The Exorcist, (steep stairs), The Omen, (churches).
  • If your husband is a frustrated writer, DO NOT choose to take a three month sabbatical in a hotel that will cut off from the world by snow. The Shining.
  • If you happen to purchase small fluffy creatures from a dubious Chinese curiosity shop DO NOT get them wet and DO NOT feed them after Midnight. Similar instructions may also be applied to my good wife's hair. Gremlins.
  • If you happen to be going to a party resist the urge to drop a bucket of pig's blood over the Prom Queen's head. Bad things will happen. Carrie.
  • DO NOT leave the telly on static on Halloween and expect that somebody won't get sucked into it. Poltergeist
Hopefully these handy little tips will help you survive this and upcoming Halloweens.

One last thing: if you have followed all of the above and hear a knock on the door it's OK to answer it. If you are greeted with a motley bunch of zombies, witches, vampires and werewolves shouting trick or treat DO NOT respond as follows,  "Oh Trick please, can you make a rabbit appear from a hat?"  

Happy Halloween dear reader.


Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Libya - A Prayer Answered?

Dear Reader,

In a previous post Libya - A Prayer for the People, in February, I blogged about my feelings regarding the beginnings of the uprising in Libya. The response from Colonel Gaddafi was brutal. So brutal in fact that NATO was forced to act.

Such a charmer...
Now we are in October and Colonel Gaddafi is dead and buried, along with at least one of his sons. Clearly this is a pivotal moment in the history of Libya. The small children of Libya will absorb this in history classes. To a lesser extent this will happen worldwide.

There has been some controversy over the cause of death. Just in case you have been buried under a rock I will explain the facts as I understand them...
  • Gaddafi and his cohorts fled their stronghold in Sirte and were tagged by some quite serious aerial ammunition.

  • Gaddafi hid in a storm drain. He was found by representatives of the National Transitional Council on the ground who were, to put it mildly, very pleased to see him.

  • At this point he was very much alive, albeit carrying some minor wounds.

  • Then there is some confusion, regarding the transport of the very much alive Colonel Gaddafi.

  • He was after capture, transported to Misrata, during which an incident occurred which resulted in a cross-fire.

  • He was fatally wounded during this exchange.

  • Although still breathing upon arrival at Misrata, he soon died and it was apparently impossible to resuscitate the Colonel.
Gaddafi's body has been on display for a few days in a Misrata refrigerator, which would normally be selling vegetables. He has now been buried along with the son that also perished at an undisclosed location in the desert.

NATO, and it's partners have questioned with a degree of pressure regarding what occurred on the road between Sirte and Misrata. The National Transitional Council to date have not come up with a conclusive answer more concise than what has been related above.

And why should they? After recent disclosures regarding the demise of Osama Bin Laden I think I know what the issue might be. So, to recap, a merry party happened at the White House where President Obama, dear lady wife (his, not mine) and aides watched the operation that resulted in Bin Laden's death. This was live and via satellite. They even had direct audio contact with the Special Forces dudes. I have previously blogged about this in Bin Laden - My Part in his Downfall. Maybe NATO wanted to a more multi-media type event and are a little annoyed things went down the way they did. Who knows?

On a more serious note, the NTC now have a task before them. Convince the rest of the world that things are good and that Libya now is a country worthy of doing business with. When the oil money starts to flood in, use it to build a stable democratic country and build all the good things like education, healthcare etc that the people of Libya have been robbed of by a dictator who kept all the cash for himself and his family. No more gold plated handguns please.

Above all else, make the country safe. Ensure that the good people of Libya do not have to live in fear and give them a brighter future. Is that too much to ask?

More soon dear reader.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

When Cats Adopt or a Quest for a Suitable Pot Plant

Dear Reader,

Once upon a time there was a cat who haunted us. Not in the ethereal sense but physically. This cat had decided that we were going to look after it, no matter what we did. This cat hung around in our garden for extended periods and upset the status quo of our house cats. None of our house cats liked this cat so we resisted. Then it got cold. Then it got really cold. Then it snowed (a lot). We watched this very determined cat sit on our lawn, as the snow fell around it. The snow got deeper and and it still sat. In the end we gave in and welcomed this strange animal into our lives. We called it Darren.

Darren was an old cat, this much was clear. The teeth, fur and claws told us this much. Once part of the family we sent this cat for a checkup with the local vet. The one surprise from this visit was that Darren was an inappropriate name for this cat as she was a girl. Consequently she became Derina. She was disliked by all the house cats, and she ignored this. She just sat around, in a warm place and ate lots of food. She was painfully thin, but lovely all the same. She had no collar identification or chip, so we had no way of tracking down her previous owners, if she had any. So, for a short while, we adopted Derina. Actually a more accurate description would be that Derina adopted us.

After about a year she passed away, much to our discontent. We were sad to see her go, but pleased in the knowledge that at least the last days of her life had been comfortable and warm.

Derina, in happier times.
The vet explained some of the options regarding burial... there were several. We opted for ashes in a box, as we intended to scatter the ashes somewhere suitable at a point in the future.

Herein lies my problem. The events described above happened a year ago. The ashes remain in a box, well two boxes actually (it's a box within a box) sitting on our hall table. She is quite happy there, although a recent visit from our parents suggested that maybe not everyone is happy with this arrangement.

We thought that it would be nice to place her ashes in a pot plant, so I visited a number of garden centres seeking inspiration. This proved to be an interesting journey.

Garden centres are staffed by two types of people it seems. 16-18's who lucked out at the supermarket and the over 65's who lucked out in their investment plans.

My first conversation involved the latter and went like this:
  • Excuse me, I am looking for a nice, portable pot plant that is big enough for a cat's ashes. Can you help?
  • Oh, I am so sorry to hear that, I feel your pain. We had the same dilemma when Toby passed, God rest his soul. Now, he was a big dog so we couldn't get him in the orchid pot. In the end we planted a hedge for him.
  • So, a hedge? Seems a little over the top for a small cat.
  • A small patch of hawthorne wlll do the job.
  • OK, have you any in stock.
  • Unfortunately the last one has been sold to a gentleman who sadly lost his hamster just the other day.
On to Garden Centre No 2 then...

This time I met the younger generation:
  • Excuse me, my cat has just died; I am looking for a pot plant suitable to bury him in. Can you help me?
  • DUDE, you are sick.
  • Ah, yes it may seem that way. However, I am aware that the word sick can mean a number of things. Am I cool or am I unwell? Can you provide me with a suitable pot plant?
  • SICK, man
I walked away. I have no pot plant, no resting place. Derina remains on the hall table. My parents are concerned. Any suggestions dear reader?


Wednesday, 12 October 2011

The Stupidest Invention Ever

Dear Reader,

Whilst purchasing a cup of coffee the other day I was struck once again by the presence of one of the most pervasive and useless inventions of our time. Not the cup of coffee, that would be silly. Without coffee I would be more tolerant, less stressed and more likely to accept the failings of the object in question without complaint. Where would the fun be in that? 

This invention is far more irritating than any other object to be found in the vicinity of a coffee provider; it has a simple task, no moving parts and attempts to replace another object that has been doing the job perfectly well for hundreds of years.

Ladies and Gentleman, I give to you the Plastic Coffee Stirrer.

In all it's glory...

£4.99 for a thousand, a mere £0.049 for a single stirrer. A bargain surely? No, I would rather send £4.99 to one of my numerous Nigerian friends on e-mail (filed under spam) in the hope it might cover the administration fees involved in releasing the unfeasible amount of money owed to me by the Nigerian government. I would rather poke my own eyes out with plastic coffee stirrers except that this endeavor would undoubtedly prove impossible due to one of the myriad of flaws present in this astonishingly pointless object.

So, some of the problems I have so far identified with this object are listed below:
  • Size: The Plastic Coffee Stirrer comes in one size; shorter than the cup of coffee you have just bought. Of course what I wanted to do was buy a cup of coffee and then whilst holding the ineffectual paddle between thumb and forefinger stir the coffee and burn the tips of aforesaid digits to a crisp whilst pretending to enjoy the experience.
  • Rigidity: If bent beyond 1 degree from straight the stirrer will snap, rendering half of it an unwanted addition to your coffee and the remaining stub too short to poke out your own eye in frustration.
  • Heat resistance: None. I have found, however, that if held long enough in a cup of coffee the plastic will soften enough to negate the risk of snapping. Unfortunately this also render the object useless, as now it is so soft that it can no longer provide the required downward pressure on the wodge of sugar at the the bottom of the cup to disturb it.
  • Aerodynamics: Pointless. Surely the point of a stirrer is to stir the coffee. To do this, it must first disturb the liquid it is stirring. Why therefore are there holes in the bottom of the stirrer specifically designed to ensure the lowest amount of aerodynamic resistance possible. Hmm, I may have answered my own question here, this feature is to negate the risk of it snapping.
  • Biodegradable: Not a chance.
  • Cheap: If being able to buy one thousand completely useless things for not very much makes them cheap then yes, but, being in possession of most of my faculties and not being a complete fucking idiot I would have to say no.
Further exhaustive research has found me happening on a rather more simple and effective alternative, encountered at more up-market coffee providers. I am of course talking of the wooden coffee stirrer.

This looks interesting...

This has a number of advantages over the plastic coffee stirrer, a couple of which I will list below:
  • Size: Approximately that of your purchase, unless you buy really large drinks.
  • Rigidity: It has some.
  • Heat Resistance: It has some of this too.
  • Aerodynamics: Possesses an uncanny ability to disturb a liquid it is passed through.
  • Biodegradable: Compostable, apparently.
  • Cheap: Cheaper than the infinitely more crap plastic alternative.
Which begs one question, why does a sane human being who sets up in business to sell coffee provide these plastic nightmares as stirring implements when an infinitely better, cheaper and more ecologically sound solution appears to be at hand? Does the ultimate salesman represent the plastic stirrer manufacturer? The type that not only sells fridges to eskimoes, but convinces them that the occasionally combustible nature of the demonstrated device is a design feature to be cherished? I wish I had an answer.

Yet more exhaustive research uncovered someone who may have an answer, or if not an answer, at least a love of plastic coffee stirrers not shared by me. Check out RubberMullet, a dedicated collector of plastic coffee stirrers and possibly the only person in the world that cares about them. This site will be added to my sites of note, it is a gem.

Whilst rooting around in the dusty arse-end of my cutlery drawer the other day I found an interesting object nestled between my much loved plastic miniature nutmeg grater (impulse purchase, never used) and a mouldy Toffee Crisp (sentimental value). It was one of these...

What could this be?
I don't know what it is and why it and a number of it's friends are in my cutlery drawer, but it seems to be capable of doing the job of both the plastic and wooden stirrers. After some experiment I also found that if you fill the bowl part with sugar it delivers approximately the same amount as a sugar cube from our up-market coffee providers and also about the same as those pesky paper sugar tubes provided at other establishments.

Got to go, on the phone to the patent office, I may be onto something...

More soon dear reader xxx

PS , I  became the first to review the product in the first picture...

That told 'em!

Friday, 7 October 2011

Steve Jobs - Thank You

Dear Reader,

Whilst a little tipsy a few months ago I was wandering back home through St Pancras train station in London with a friend and for some reason it occurred to us that it would be great to re-enact (rather badly) the Digby Chicken Ceasar sketch from That Mitchell and Webb Look. For those unfamiliar with the sketch an example below:

We didn't steal anything, but we did run headlong through the station singing the song whilst recording the event simultaneously through front facing cameras on our iPhones. When we stopped, we also simultaneously uploaded the event to our respective Facebook profiles, much to the despair (and occasional amusement) of our peers. More importantly, we laughed, long and hard. It was the highlight of our evening, I still remember it to this day.

Without Steve Jobs, such a moment may not have happened. 

It has been said that one of Steve's greatest achievements was making technology more accessible and personable. My experience above (although somewhat inane) is a classic example of this. 

The future is less exciting without you. 

Steve Jobs RIP: 1955-2011
More soon dear reader xx

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Sneezing - Get a Grip

Dear Reader, 

I have become increasingly irritated by the sneezing habits of certain people in our household, namely Smiffy, my dear lady wife. As a consequence I need to share my frustration in the hope that you, dear reader, will perhaps identify with my frustration. In this way I shall get some validation and feel less like an intolerant fool. 

I understand that people sneeze. I sneeze. There is nothing wrong with that. The thing that causes me the irritation is the sneezing cycle, the handling of the sneeze and the noise.

Different people sneeze differently, this I also understand. There are dainty sneezes, that are nothing more than a cute squeak, (normally girls). There are keep it in sneezers and there are let it out sneezers. Let it out sneezers celebrate the sneeze in all its glory whereas the keep it in sneezer suppresses the sneeze to the best of their ability. This does not always work, sometimes the sneeze is too strong and it becomes a let it out sneeze anyway. Sometimes the keep it in sneezer is caught unawares and becomes a let it out sneezer for the moment.

I am a keep it in sneezer. I have become quite good at it and enjoy the little white dots that swim in front of the eyes if you have managed to keep in a particularly strong one. Occasionally I to become a let it out sneezer. If I am caught unawares then I become a violent and messy sneezer. I have not celebrated the sneeze, I have been overwhelmed by the sneeze. This is a sign of weakness. This is also messy. That sneeze was smarter than me and has won a battle. I try not to lose sleep over these losses.

Whilst writing this post I have become annoyed by the number of red lines appearing all over it. Apparently sneezer isn't a word. I have added it to the dictionary so it is now. Moving on...

Smiffy is in a different category. She is a serial sneezer. She is also a let it out sneezer. Finally she has a unique sneeze sound, a two-part sneeze which starts with an irritating sound which is then followed by really irritating one. If you follow Women's tennis then you may recognise the name of Victoria Azarenka, if you don't then here is a sample of here particular vocal skills.

This is closest real life example I can find to the second sound. Sneeze sound, then this. Sneeze sound, then this. Sneeze sound, then this. Sneeze sound, then this. Repeat NINE TIMES. 

I like to think of myself as a tolerant human. I can cope with a sneeze. I might even be able to cope with nine, let it out and all. It's the follow through that kills me. I can't sit through a game of tennis featuring Victoria Azarenka and I can't sit through one of my wife's sneezing fits. Does this make me a bad husband?

It seems a little unfair that I have castigated one of my wife's habits for comic effect, especially as she is not here to defend herself. She will however, beat me repeatedly when she has read this post. So to balance things out, I will categorically not be doing a similar piece on burping out loud in public next week.

More soon Dear Reader  xxx    

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

The Sound of The Omen

Dear Reader,

So, whilst watching the horror classic The Omen (1976, not the remake), my mind was strangely drawn to another movie, The Sound Of Music. Two films that are not exactly on the same page with regards to audience, content or theme. Two films that are hardly on the same page within our own house-hold either. The Omen scores highly, whilst the Sound Of Music is something that comes on at Christmas, that I grumble through with a grudging acceptance of it's genius whilst Smiffy, my wife and tireless editor would probably be happy to watch on loop endlessly whilst I serve her liquid food intravenously.

Sickly Sweet Nanny

The More Demonic Variety

If you are unaware of either (or both) of these celluloid classics then some background may be required. Let's start with The Omen, which, like The Exorcist and  Carrie were truly shocking, scary movies, that challenged  the boundaries of what was acceptable at the time. Censorship took an extended lunch, it seemed. The Omen's most important character is Damien, the son of the devil, who, (rather incomprehensibly), happens to land in the lap of an American diplomat and his wife.

The Sound of Music however, is from a different decade and different camp (pun intended) of movie entirely. This, along with Mary Poppins were the the truly great sugar-candy soaked musicals of the sixties. Suffice to say that although I appreciate how good these films are, poking me in the eye regularly at Christmas time with cocktail sticks would be light relief from watching these screen gems on loop. The Sound Of Music is all about a bunch of brats in pre-WWII Austria struggling to be lovely under the iron-gauntlet of their father until Julie Andrews comes along, and tells them that doh is in fact a deer, a female deer, Ray is a ray of golden sun (not my recent builder) etc etc and all is well again.

Where the hell is this going, I hear you ask? Rightly so, onward, and to the point... a long time coming though it may have been.

Whilst musing during The Omen I identified a clear connection between itself and The Sound Of Music... strong female nanny characters... bear with me. Granted the nanny character in the Omen was a sour-faced matron touting Devil Dog fiends from the denizens from hell, whilst Julie Andrews was more about puppet shows, singing and generally being nice, the point is they are both strong characters that looked after and influenced children. The children in question should also be considered in this rather pained analogy; Julie has to look after seven gifted entertainers who wouldn't harm a flea, whilst the nanny character from The Omen has to deal with the son of the devil, who was a bit of a handful, what with hospitalising his mother and attempting to take over the world and all... Can you imagine Supernanny trying to put him in timeout? Anyhoo...

Having made this extremely tenuous (some would say non-existent) connection between these two great movies where the fuck am I going with this?  Well for me the title of this posts explains my thoughts rather aptly. It seems that Andrew Lloyd Webber, Ben Elton and Co can make a musical about almost anything these days so here's the pitches...

Pitch 1:

Sour-faced denizen from Hell nanny complete with collection of rabid Rottweilers is delivered to a romantic location in pre-WWII Austria where her task will be to turn her deeply irritating collection of seven brats who have occasionally been known to throw stones into a vocal harmony singing group. Imagine her journey from devil-worshiper to competent nanny, complete with the Rotties giving birth to seven Rottie puppies who turn out to be a singing group themselves.

Pitch 2:

Julie Andrews (or more to the point the modern equivalent, who will be chosen in the new BBC talent search "Who Wants to Sing the Sound Of  the Omen"), will be placed in a fractured household of a diplomat (constantly hounded by mad priests and equally mad journalists) to replace the previously deceased (hanged) nanny and will by the virtue of song and puppet shows put Damien on the straight and narrow. The song "Why Am I Not The Same", a solo featuring the nanny cradling the young Damien in her arms, discovering the 666 tattoo on his forehead and telling him everything will be OK is destined to become a classic.

For me either would make a musical I might go and see.

Watch out for The Sound Of Omen coming to a theatre near you. Andrew, are you listening?

If you have not seen The Omen or The Sound Of Music none of this will make any sense whatsoever. Having read this back, it may well be the case that if you have seen both of these movies this will post will still make no sense whatsoever. Oh well, publish and be damned.

More soon dear reader xxx

Saturday, 17 September 2011

BlogLovin Setup

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Dear Reader,

A slightly bizarre post I know, but was required by the nice people at BlogLovin to link their site to my blog. This is another shameless marketing ploy on my part, but if you like reading blogs then BlogLovin looks like a good way of managing your blogs of note and discovering new ones, like mine!



Thursday, 11 August 2011

Migration and Wheelie Bins - The Untold Story.

Dear Reader,

Whilst listening to the local news this morning I was somewhat bemused to hear that a provincial train line between pimplesthorpe and ducksbottom (or something similar, I forget the detail) had been disrupted by a wheelie bin on the line.

The wheelie bin is a truly global object, and as such has different labels in different countries so a picture should avoid any confusion.

Lesser Spotted Yellow Wheelie Bin - 1100ltr
I don't know if this is a global phenomenon, but in the UK trains can be disrupted by all manner of things, and quite often the description of the sentence ends with the words on the line.

A number of examples; snow, the wrong type of snow, leaves, cows, cars, sheep, caravans, dew, slippery rain, excessive heat, too many passengers, giant clowns (I kid you not) and illegal immigrants.

Now I must add to that list the wheelie bin. Having done a little research on the subject it appears that this is normally the result of some sort of vandalism, push a wheelie bin in front of a train, and oh how much fun ensues. Stick me in a room for an hour with one of these gentleman tied to a chair and we will see how much fun ensues, sorry, I digress.

What really got me about this was the news that the line was now running normally, by normally I mean running late as opposed to not at all. Apparently the wheelie bin had "moved away", this from the horses', sorry, newscasters' mouth. This is an easy mistake to make if you watch provincial news broadcasts. Oops, digressing again.

So the wheelie bin hadn't been removed from the area by diligent, long-suffering train line workers, nor had it been smashed to pieces by a train hitting it, no, it had "moved away", presumably of it's own accord.

The picture at the top of this piece tells us that wheelie bins have wheels (no shit) and therefore are mobile, although stairs would be a challenge.

Having researched this at great length (in my mind) it also appears that wheelie bins are migratory, and that their migratory habits are dictated by their colour and marking.

Taking the lesser spotted yellow wheelie bin (1100 ltr) pictured above as an example: predominant in the western hemisphere,  prefers sunnier climates, migrates South for the Winter.

It transpires that there are many species of wheelie bins, identified by colours, number of wheels, capacity, material and lid or lidless. For those who are unaware of this cornucopia of nature that exists in our backyards  I have provided a guide (not exhaustive) of some of the species resident in the UK.

Classic Black English 2 Wheeler (550 ltr)
The most common UK specimen, this is a largely static breed which enjoys interaction with humans. However   if a mating opportunity occurs, the Classic Black will grasp the moment with both wheels...

Black on Black
The male being the larger of the species. I was luck enough to get hold of an example of cross-breeding which apparently is quite rare, some Black males disapprove of this behaviour, which probably explains the nest...

Nesting Pair of Common Black and Regal Green
During the breeding season, less aggressive species such as the Regal Green and the Purple Haze will huddle together to avoid confrontation with predatory male groups of Common Blacks...

Regal Green and Purple Haze huddling for security and comfort

Rare more colourful species also exist...

Cross Gender group of Multi-Colour 350 2 wheelers
Who will mate with each other several times, their pigments mix, producing a new and unique generation. This is a rogue off-spring, a mutation, identified by the colouring. The exact reason for this has yet to be identified, however the free-love type attitude to breeding observed in the Multi-Colour 350's is thought to be to blame...

Mutation - Origin Unknown
This is not an exhaustive list. I have barely touched upon the fascinating migratory patterns of the Regal Green, and the mating rituals of the species as a whole. I think you will agree, however, that this is a truly fascinating and largely undiscovered subject which I have shared with you today.

I am merely an amateur in this field, but, dear readers, I am sure amongst you there are some who could contribute to this great science. Feel free to submit your own observations and photos through the comments button below...

More soon Dear Reader xxx

Monday, 8 August 2011

Fundamentalism and Flat Pack Furniture Assembly

Dear Reader,

Fundamentalism has been in the news a lot recently. The horrific events in Norway have brought Christian Fundamentalism to the attention of the masses and Muslim Fundamentalism has been in the headlines since the reign of Ayatollah Khomeni in Iran in the 1980's. Fundamentalism hasn't been receiving the greatest press, which on the face of it seems a little unfair. Now, I am not condoning the recent atrocities in Norway or any other horrific act committed by so called fundamentalists, just trying to understand fundamentalism a little bit more.

This doesn't sound like the most promising start to a blog post but bear with me.

So, fundamentalism in a religious sense can be defined by the following statements:
  • Their god or gods articulated their will clearly to their prophets.
  • Followers have an accurate and reliable record of those revelations.
Seems simple enough, right? Fundamentalism, assuming the above is true, has no room for grey areas, it either is or it isn't. This post isn't about tearing apart any of the above, this post is about taking those basic statements and applying them to the modern world.  Let's see how we get on.

Enter Eric, who is a fundamentalist flat pack furniture assembler. He has just gone to a major furniture retailer and made a purchase, now he has opened the box and is presented with a set of instructions. This is the word of god Ikea, articulated through the prophet Benno (an 80" cd tower).

Eric considers this to be a promising beginning to the words of Benno. Assuming the altar is pictured it is a little on the skinny but who is he to question. Benno must be a very important prophet as his name is in bigger letters that the great god Ikea's. Let's move on.

Wow, thinks Eric, there is a lot of information to process here, Benno seems to think that a picture paints a thousand words. Some words would help though. The first image must be Benno, who it seems is (or was) a carpenter. The second image is a little trickier, should one not urinate on things when you are your knees? Apparently stroking them is OK though. The third image is a little clearer. Benno is confused by the words of the great god Ikea, the telephone is obviously metaphorical. The fourth image presents many challenges of interpretation, has Benno failed some sort of test? Maybe things will become clearer later.

So this makes a little more sense, thinks Eric. Benno is to build something, and he will need these items. He is a carpenter, he will understand.

Eric thinks the great god Ikea has been quite explicit here. Twelve things need to be inserted into two long things. Ten other things interconnect with some things, OK maybe not quite as clear as first thought. Is Benno being instructed to build an altar?

Once more, this seems to be quite specific, and yet confusing at the same time. Twelve objects are inserted somewhere with the aid of a screwdriver. And then the pencils, is this some sort of test? Two pencils at the same time?

Hmmm, thinks Eric. So picture 5 is about direction. Is this the direction the altar should be facing? Or is it the direction one should be facing when one is at prayer. Picture 6 clearly involves six nails. Confusingly Benno seems to have taken on a more human form, is this significant?

Eric is becoming a little exasperated. The words of Benno are nearly complete and he really is none the wiser. What is one to make of this? The altar spoke and requested 40 things and this allowed something else to levitate above? Eventually leading to a number of arrows appearing? 

Ah, thinks Eric, so this is a clear reference to the image on the second page. Unfortunately I am still none the wiser. Eric checks the box, what is all this wood for?

However, Eric has made more than one purchase. Perhaps Ektorp (Love Seat Cover) will have the answers...

So, Eric's fundamentalist approach to words has left him without a CD tower, but on the plus side he does have a huge quantity of discarded MDF in his garage. Also he has deduced that Benno was a carpenter. The furnishing of his flat is a little sparse though.

IKEA and their rivals really need to heed the basic tenets of fundamentalism, if they did Eric might get a CD Tower.

More soon dear reader xx