Wait for it…

The mood is tense in Britain tonight as it emerges that snow has fallen and the country is still functioning.

The UK traditionally has a fractious relationship with snow – the two are believed to have become intimate several centuries ago before snow disappeared for much of the early noughties without even leaving a note. Now the annual return of snow is marked by the island nation throwing an absolutely massive tantrum and refusing to move for 6-8 days.

"Oh look. Snow."

“Oh look. Snow.”

Last night however snow arrived in the dead of night, the rat, and has been gently caressing England’s green and pleasant lands for almost 24 hours. Whereas this would normally cause all trains services to instantly terminate just outside Reading and the M25 to turn into a mass game of ‘crash the car’, in 2013 Britain seems to have just, well, got on with it.

Speculation is rife that Britain has not actually noticed that snow is falling – instead believing that the large white flakes falling from the sky re part of a guerrilla marketing campaign by Daz – and that as soon as it clocks on that the wintry cad is here again large swathes of Dorset will immediately explode.

Some optimists believe that this is a new dawn for the UK, and that finally we can all move on from turning into absolute loons the second the first flake lands. Perhaps now we’ll stop stacking it on pavements which aren’t even slippery, perhaps we’ll be able to drive in a straight line without screaming and swerving into the nearest lake. Perhaps the tubes will admit that they’re called the fucking Underground for a reason and don’t need to shut down straight away because snow does not, in fact, have the ground-penetrating powers it is often claimed to possess.

Realistically though, none of that will happen, we’ll all realise it’s actually snowing at some point, and all kinds of incompetent, hilarious hell will break loose.

And that, ladies and gentleman, is why I love this country.

PS: Exercise update. On a high protein diet, or direct quote, “Just eat more mate”. Still haven’t regained full arm function. Second session tomorrow. Help me.

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Help! I’ve taken exercise!

Dear Doctor,

I took a heavy dose of exercise yesterday and am presenting symptoms of extreme pain, reduced movement and a mild sense of pride and self-fulfilment. I admit to dabbling with exercise in my teens, and I have to say that it was widely available at school, but my past experiences indicate that I might well be dangerously allergic to it.

Am I going to die?

Best regards,

Mark

That may sound melodramatic, largely because it is, but allow me to elaborate slightly. Shortly before Christmas an email went round at work asking people to sign up for an ‘adventure race’ in May. Not really bothering to read the details I immediately put my name down. Great outdoors, bunch of mates, camping, bit of larking about, how hard could it be?

Some weeks later I read some of the informational blurb about the event. If you want a really good, soul-cleansing laugh at my expense then have a look here. Maybe watch the little video at the start. They use encouraging phrases like ‘world’s biggest assault course’ and ‘totally apocalyptic’ and ‘certainly more than a marathon’. For the more concise version, this sheep sums up the event quite nicely.

In short, I’m fucked. Those of you who know me personally will understand how much I am not built for strength or endurance events. Those that don’t should understand that I am NOT BUILT FOR STRENGTH OR ENDURANCE EVENTS.

My diet consists largely of cheese and mini kievs, interspersed with crisps. My daily routine involves sitting on a tube, sitting at a desk, sitting on another tube, lounging on the sofa and then having a well-deserved lay down. I’m a horizontal person. The vertical is foreign to me.

This is pretty much as active as I get.

This is pretty much as active as I get.

I’m also skinny. My arms are like thin wisps of cloud. I’ve seen dead cats with bigger biceps than me. If I try to run I become light-headed shortly after I start thinking about running and have to sit down with a large camembert to bring myself around. The only bulky area of my entire torso is currently my stomach, as a direct result of every single one of my lifestyle choices. I’m a skinny fat person. Everybody knows one.

So, in an effort to avoid certain death in May, I have enlisted my friend and colleague Deepak as my personal trainer. We had our first session yesterday. Deepak’s a great guy, but one of the things I have recently learnt about him is that he is criminally insane and possibly fundamentally evil. As I lay in a crumpled, weeping heap on the gym floor trying to work out if all my limbs were still attached he appraised me with a cool gaze and remarked that I’d done well because I’d pushed myself to failure.

I pushed myself to nothing. He pushed me to failure. I would have been happy doing one chest press. Not 10. Certainly not 3 sets of 10. Definitely not 3 sets of 10 interspersed with arm rows. Absolutely not the aforementioned plus about 4 other weird and wonderful torture methods. And some boxing.

Deepak has put me through one 45 minute session. Today I can barely fucking move. I’m typing this with my teeth. I’m going to bed and it’s 9pm. My muscles have gone on strike and been replaced by fire. I’m still wearing a t-shirt because my arms won’t go above my head.

He’s trying to kill me. I thank him for it.

Oddly, I’ve agreed that this can occur twice a week for at least 5 months, plus some running and cycling and swimming and badminton and dodgeball and climbing. I will keep you all updated with doubtless hilarious tales of my own ineptitude and physical agony. All I ask is that you eat a large tub of ice cream every time you read these posts, so that at least one of us is enjoying ourselves.

I’m scared.

“I’m never drinking again!”, declares man holding drink

As part of the UK’s ongoing commitment to total annihilation and an early, gin-soaked grave, millions of Britons have started 2013 by lying loudly about never, ever drinking again.

The absolute stone-cold fallacy comes in the wake of New Year’s Eve, where otherwise modest alcoholics traditionally attempt to drink a unit of alcohol for every year since the birth of Christ in a grim attempt to forget the horrors of the previous pointless lap of the Sun whilst wearing something nice which we always think won’t get ruined, but which always does.

Dry January is making this man want a quick nap.

Dry January is making this man want a quick nap.

This ritual of drunken carnage is, by law, interspersed with questionable decisions and at least one person wondering aloud why nobody has started kissing as soon as the first firework bursts over the London eye. In my own personal case our party strolled down to a nearby bridge to watch the side of the London fireworks. There was merriment all round in the large crowd, who began a good old-fashioned singalong. Sensing his opportunity, one of my more vertically impressive flatmates raised his arms and screamed ‘ORGY!’ to the crowd of families and young children. At least five hundred million similar incidents were recorded on the night.

Waking on New Year’s Day to be greeted by a hangover the size of France, questions like “Who am I?”, “Why am I?” and “Is that beer in the washing machine?” and, often, a bewildered moose shitting in the living room, 97% of people immediately forswear alcohol and vow to lead a quiet life of meditation, running and lying to themselves.

The moose has vowed not to get drunk again until May. It's lying.

The moose has vowed not to get drunk again until May. It’s lying.

I predict that this newfound sense of inner peace, in no way driven by shame and a throbbing liver, will last until roughly Friday, when Dry January will experience it’s first light shower – roughly coinciding with people realising that they really bloody love drinking. From this point, Dry January will be dry in the way that 2012 was dry and as such will likely result in the permanent ‘Atlantisisation’ of large swathes of the West Country. Hurricane Brandy is expected to make landfall no later than January 9th.

Pint?

Three completely unrelated things

Wooden thing

It has become apparent today that a team composed nominally of Englishmen are statistically better than every other geographically-bounded popular ball sport team on the planet. And there was much rejoicing. Actually I’ve bloody enjoyed every second of the Indian test series, in part due to the exciting on-field action but largely due to the eager sense that Geoff Boycott is going to say something a little bit racist. It’s the verbal equivalent of Formula 1; 99% of the audience are only tuning in because they know there’s going to be a serious crash. Except obviously replace the twisted metal with jingoistic opinions delivered angrily in a frothing Yorkshire burr…

As an Englishman and longtime follower of all things English and crickety I can’t help feeling a wave of trepidation at this new-found and now official success. I grew up when Andrew Caddick was our most feared bowler and the mere mention of Glenn McGrath had most of us in cold sweats. So ingrained was I in English sporting failure that when a tree came down in a storm outside the house one night I heard the splintering timber and instinctively got up, tucked my pillow under my arm and made solemnly for the wardrobe.

Seeing the current crop slouching around the outfield and battering every opponent  standing is great, but it’s just not how it should be. Where’s the fun in watching English sporting teams if you can’t watch them to this music?

Fighty thing

It has become apparent today that people have become notionally interested in Libya once more, now that the chaotic groundwar has reached the gates of moose-faced ‘leader’ Muammar Gaddafi. The general consensus is that this is undoubtedly a positive thing, and whilst a leprous rabbit would be a preferable leader to the outgoing head of state the important question almost nobody is asking right now is “Who the hell is taking over?”

Colonel Gaddafi is thought to be hiding in an old Simpsons episode

“Jeff, weren’t you supposed to be doing the background checks on these people?…Where? V?…Look Jeff, I don’t care how inspiring Rihanna was, you’re still fired.”

Or something like that. There has been a sum total of one commentator on one news channel saying anything on the lines of “Just a sec…”, but it’s ok because if you look on Wikipedia it says that the rebels are “composed primarily of civilians, such as teachers, students, lawyers, and oil workers, and a contingent of professional soldiers that defected from the Libyan Army and joined the rebels.”

Which sounds a bit unrealistic if you ask me. Either that or they include some serious combat training at law school these days.

It’ll all be fine. Probably.

Burny thing

It has become apparent today that Richard Branson’s house has notionally burnt down. Correction, one of his houses has burnt down. Totally. As well as the obvious sympathy that you can’t help but feel, the incident leaves me with two overriding thoughts. First, celebrity fires are much cooler than normal house fires. No chip pan fire in a council flat here. No, no, this house was set on fire by lightning. From a hurricane. And no family of four making there way from the burning building; this time there were 20 people. One of them was 90, and another one was Kate Winslet. This will be a film by the end of the year, mark my words.

Second, it has become apparent today that Richard Branson may notionally be a bit of a knob. For one thing, the house which burnt down was called the Great House. Without any irony or anything. And when questioned about the unfortunate occurrence, Branson said “It’s very much the Dunkirk Spirit here. We want to rebuild the house as soon as we can.”

I’m sure the people who risked life and limb to save thousands of lives in terrible danger and against unfathomable odds would be glad that you share their noble dedication as you rebuild your luxury mansion on your massive private tropical island, Richard.

Arse.

French take Frenchness to entirely new extremes

French riot police have today been told “très bien” by Nicolas Sarkozy’s Ministry of Frenchification after making one of the most stultifylingly French demands ever witnessed in human history.

The weapon-wielding violence enthusiasts have expressed their complete outrage at a law which bans them drinking at lunchtime. Yes, you did read that correctly. The officers are apparently incandescent with rage at being told they can no longer enjoy their customary beer or wine with lunch whilst on duty, a practice which formerly involved large quantities of fine Merlot and a couple of cheeky Lafites being carted along in the riot van, to be cracked open in the street. Whilst they were working. On protests. With weapons. And protesters. In a climate of hostility.

In a statement, spokesman for the police Pierre du Pierre announced the collective disgust: “If a French man cannot enjoy some fine wine, some bread smeared in a paste made of cruelty and entrails, and somebody else’s wife over lunch, then what is the point of living?”

“Henri! Bring me my cravat.”

French Riot Police: Where dangerous meets chic

Outdated national stereotypes aside, perhaps the riot police have a point. They might argue that French culture is built around casual afternoon drinking, and they might well win such an argument, but they should beware of shouting about it too loudly lest their British counterparts get wind of it and start demanding Jägerbombs with every fag break. Our riot police are probably violent enough without any chemical encouragement. Couple this with the fact that us Brits are notoriously bad at lunchtime drinking and there are compelling reasons why this debate ought to stay very much on the other side of the Channel.

I wasn’t around for the Eighties and too busy being a child to remember much of the early Nineties, but by all accounts this was the end of a golden era of British luncheon beverages. This was also the end of an era where literally nothing got done after 2pm because everybody was asleep or fighting. A relative once recalled her 21st, some 30 odd years ago, which involved “a couple of lunchtime drinks”. When pressed, the exact figures were 9 vodka and lemonades and three shots. In a 45 minute lunch break. She doesn’t remember the rest except vomiting into a stairwell down 22 floors and being found in the toilets at about 7 by a cleaner who assumed she was dead.

And they say our generation has drinking issues.

Staying with great British traditions, millions of us are off to partake in the traditional Easter weekend activity, queueing! Thousands of cars will glide onto the main roads and simultaneously stop for no reason, leaving people free to enjoy the picturesque settings of Junstion 26 of the M25. The weather is fantastic, and people are really going to make the most of it by slow-cooking themselves in an old Ford Mondeo for the majority of the weekend.

Whatever you’re up to this Easter weekend, I hope that Jesus brings you all the chocolate you could wish for. Poor guy is probably kicking himself for choosing the whole messiah business over a more lucrative career in confectionery. The man sells more creme eggs than Bibles.