Nablopomo Day 20: Have Yourself a Scary Little Christmas

Apparently it’s no longer enough to put up freaky and scary decorations once a year on Halloween, now it’s happening for Christmas too. Take this ornament for example. For 25 of your hard earned pounds you can buy this monstrous piece of decorative tat:

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It’s big, it’s clunky, but those eyes. Who decided that painting those eyes on in that way was ok? If that wasn’t enough though, it gets worse. You press a button on the side and it does this:

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Because gold glitter and bright lights makes everything better. Especially in a darkened space.

Seriously, who is commissioning these items? Who is buying them? Both sets of people need to sit down in a room and take a good, long, look at themselves.

 

 

Nablopomo Day 19: Quick, Someone Call Jeremy Corbyn! (A Solution to Traingate)

First there was this from Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the political UK opposition party, Labour:

 

Then there was this reaction from Virgin Trains/the media:

 

Look, politics aside, all I’m going to say is that if Jeremy wants to visit Bath Spa on a weekend he is more than welcome to hop on board my Great Western Railway train.

 

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I’m more than happy to share my carriage with him if he’s ok with getting the coffee round. He also has to promise not to ignore the seats and sit on the floor (like last time). If he’s going to be like that he can take his hummus and sandals elsewhere.

Nablopomo Day 18: Inappropriate Music

My colleague and I had an inappropriate song-struck-in head off today. As our chairs are located literally back to back (#OverstaffedOfficeProblems) we share a great deal of information, sometimes perhaps too much. Put it this way, it’s been a bonding experience. Nowhere else can I say I’ve learnt the art of careful wheeled office chair reversal (trust me, it’s a very unvalued skill). One of our many chats today was on the topic of music which followed minutes later by my colleague announcing she had “Apple Pen” stuck in her head. For those of you who have yet to experience the delights of this song, here is the video:

Pretty annoyingly catchy right? Double points for that fact for simplicity and dance moves I can learn. Besides, any music video that prioritises dress over props is going to score highly with me. Reduce the price of fruit and pens I say.

Despite this, I was all to quick to respond “I can better that” and muttered the lyrics I had stuck in my head. Faced with her disbelief, told her to Google it.

This was the song I had stuck in my head whilst sat in a professional office environment:

Definitely NSFW!

Nablopomo Day 16: A Messed up Food Diary

Typical Dietary Routine on a Weekday

(08:00 – Wake up)

(08:45 – Get into work)

09:15 – Water/breakfast tea/coffee

10:30 – 11:00 – Breakfast (porridge oats in water, aka gruel)

11:30 – Frusli (cereal bar)

11:45 – Herbal/breakfast tea

12:30 – (On a bad day) additional Frusli bar or pack of Cadbury Mini Animals (because I’m a big girl)

13:30 – Whole carrot

(14:00 – 15:00 – Lunch break)

15:05 – Eat lunch (cheese sandwich and apple squash)

16:15 – Yoghurt

(17:00 – Home time)

17:30 – Cheap coffee and crisps

18:30 – Chocolate snack bar

20:30 – Assorted dinner

22:00 – Chocolate/dessert and breakfast tea

23:00 – Half a Frusli bar (on a bad day)

(23:30 – Bed)

Typical Dietary Routine on Weekends When Visiting Family

(10:30 – Get up)

10:45 – Nice coffee

10:50 – Croissants

11:30 – Chocolate

12:30 – More nice coffee at home/out and about with cake

14:00 – Biggest roast in the world

14:45 – Breakfast tea

16:00 – Dessert/cake (forced consumption on account of the large lunch)

20:00 – Dinner

21:00 – Ice cream/dessert

22:00 – Breakfast tea

(00:00 – Bed)

How am I not morbidly obese? How? I tell you what, if I stop my exercise routine I’m stuffed, quite literally.

Nablopomo Day 15: A Short Extract From that Book I’m Writing

A (very much) first draft from that novel I’m trying to write in the little free time I have.

In this segment, our narrator, executive Chantelle, is having a conversation with her superior, manager Sye. Manager Sye has come to view Chantelle’s stock/team as part of a routine inspection, after reports from a colleague that our protagonist is a sympathiser of ‘masses’ (a lower, slave-type, class of person).

We enter this segment mid-way through their dialogue.

“You know, executive, there are not many of your kind. Female I mean.”

“No sir, there are not.”

“Do you know why that is?”

“Because, unlike most women of our class, I am not privileged enough to bleed for The Cause in the same way they do. A previous manager decided that I’d be more fitted to monitoring masses rather than producing leaders.”

“And how did that make you feel?”

“Feel sir?”

“Emotionally. How did you feel when your manager said you were not fit for purpose? Must have been tough.”

I could feel my manager’s eyes on me. He was observing; looking, waiting, maybe even hoping I’d slip up. Nowadays even the slightest twitch can condemn someone to the South. I carried on looking out towards my team, focusing my attention on a particular mass toiling in the dirt.    

“I cannot really remember how I felt. A lot has come to pass since that decision was made, and I have grown in many ways since. I have come to respect the department which my former manager recommended me for. In truth sir he did me a great honour by casting me off.”

In the corner of my eye I saw my manager raising his eyebrows.

“Oh really?”

I kept my focus on the mass. “Yes sir. Here I can fulfil my duty to The Cause. I monitor and control a team of masses, they grow and harvest the food, I give the food to managers and they distribute it out, a portion going to the breeders. In the old days I believe that is what they used to call feminism.” I turned to face my senior, “I bleed more than the breeders do anyway” I smirked.

My manager looked over at the toiling masses, “I had heard about your labouring efforts. It’s impressive to see an executive prepared to assist where necessary, just as long as they maintain their distance.” It was a veiled warning.

“I bleed in other ways too sir.”

I rolled up the sleeve on my right arm, revealing my various cuts and scratches. The sight shocked him, I wondered if he was going to faint. In absence of comment I explained myself.

“This is my atonement for what I lack. With every score I bleed for The Cause. Some days it hurts more than others, it depends how deep I go. This one,” I pointed to a prominent scar on my wrist, “this was one of my first ones. As you can see, none of the others incurred since look as bad. I am a quick learner sir. If my combined efforts do not make me a supporter of The Cause then question my loyalty now.”

My manager nodded. Any doubt for my loyalty had left him as much as his voice had left his throat. I rolled my sleeve down. I do not like to boast of what I do, it is nothing of note compared to what the other females endure. I know, I’ve seen it.

After a short pause my manager regained his composure, “I’ve been thinking about all the hard work and effort you’ve invested into your duties and I think it’s time you were given more authority. It’s clear you’re good at what you do, your masses are well trained and your assistant is one of the most loyal I’ve ever seen.”

“Hard work sir. Hard work and duty.” I replied.

“Yes, yes, I’m sure,” he said, flapping his hand in the air. “Anyway, there may be an opening coming up in one of the Townships, management I’m told. Nice lodgings, increased rations, a respectable position within society. A role that certainly wouldn’t involve dealing with grubby masses like these on a daily basis,” he wrinkled up his nose. “I think you, executive, would be perfect for this position and that’s why I’m going to nominate you for the role with my full support.”

Now it was my turn to be shocked. “Me sir? Why not nominate yourself? You’re already a manager at ground level, wouldn’t you be the better candidate?”

My manager laughed, “oh no, I couldn’t possibly fulfil the role to the standard it demands. I know what those Townships are like. Besides, my best interests lie here.”

When manager Sye says ‘best interests’ he means his best fuckable ones. It’s the same for all ground level managers. They gorge themselves on the poor quality meat freely available, leaving the executives to deal with the mess they leave behind.

“You are most kind” I said.

“Don’t get too excited executive. I need to tell those above you’re ready and to do that I need to know you can handle any challenge. That’s why I’m putting some Fallens into your team to monitor for a couple of weeks.”

“I thought Fallens were sent South to the toxic zones?”

“Not these ones. One is the daughter of a senior executive, another acted out a minor crime. Muttered thanks to Bamanga in a public place or something. Just see they’re treated like one of the masses and return them back with nothing but a revitalised love for The Cause. Do that and I’ll see you moved to the Township.”

I bowed, “thank you for this opportunity manager” I said, as is custom.

“The Cause thanks you too,” he said distractedly. “Now, if you don’t mind I have to see to executive Wayne. He’s apparently been having trouble managing his stock and, as his manager, it’s up to me to investigate the situation further. Until later.” He nodded at me and then started walking towards a group of Wayne’s masses.

“Glory to The Cause sir!” I cried out after him.

“Glory to The Cause executive Chantelle!” My manager cheerfully cried back, “glory to The Cause.”

Nablopomo Day 14: A Girl Named Tuna

Question. If you were to see someone stare right at you and exclaim “tuna!” what would be your first reaction? Whether that person was mentally sound or not, you’d probably avoid them, right? That would be the normal reaction to have. Unfortunately, normal and Alice Bennett never have quite gone hand in hand, which is why, at the sound of someone shouting “TUNNNNAAA!” I will instinctively look to the noise’s source and give a cheery wave.

To backtrack a little, during my secondary school days I was obsessed with the consumption of tuna fish. Pretty much every lunch consumed in the school canteen was tuna based. Jacket potatoes, wraps, baguettes, you name it, (as long as it had tuna in it) I ate it. To my small group of friends I was known as ‘tuna’, to the dinner ladies serving the jacket potatoes I was known as “the usual?” (and let me tell you, in a school of 1300 students it was quite an achievement to have your order remembered). For about three years I accepted my nickname as a rite of passage. With three other Alices in my year I also enjoyed being distinguishable from the heard.

Then I grew up.

When I left for university I decided I didn’t want to be linked to a smelly tinned fish that not everyone likes. In addition, on a student budget tuna turned from being a staple into a luxury food product, one that was seldom consumed in the face of cheap chips and discount chocolate. On every level, the name ‘tuna’ had to go. After eighteen years of avoiding the cliché I found myself shouting over bass line music “it’s Alice, you know, as in Alice in Wonderland?” To the most part it worked, I was able to breeze through university with no in-joke nicknames. However what I have discovered is that old habits die hard which is why, five years after secondary school, my Meerkat reactions are being activated still by someone yelling tuna from the other side of the street. My old school friends persist on doing it because they know it’s the only way to get my attention and, as much as it pains me to say it, it still works.

Why couldn’t I have just stuck with pizza and burgers?

(Written in response to the WordPress Daily Prompt, Fish)

The 12:37 Train from Swindon to Bath Spa

As I sit here on the Sunday afternoon 12:37 train hurtling towards Bath Spa it seems funny to think that what seems normal and run-of-the-mill now was a massive event back when I was nine years old. The first few train journeys I ever made were half an hour excursions to the dizzying heights of Worcester, accompanied by mum and my sister. The speed, sights and blurred colours all seemed so amazing, it was as if I was on a theme park ride. I never wanted it to end.

Flash forward some fifteen years and reality seems to have become quite different. Intrusively lit LED screens and computerised announcements are the only sights and sounds that stick in my head now and, as I sit here staring at a mobile screen, it is safe to say the stunning English countryside woos me less than my pre teen incarnation. Spoilt by a glut of train commutes, all I care about now when boarding is getting into a carriage with plenty of free double seats.

I am now arriving into another station. Is it mine? No, although they all look the same nowadays. Mostly simple constructions, their importance and status marked by the presence (or lack of) a Pumpkin Cafe, WHSmith or an M&S Food outlet at the bigger stations. These platforms appear to have none. The Victorian canopy is the only thing that suggests the station once held a degree of status in a bygone era. Not that I’m paying too much attention. Just another minor hold up on my route to Bath.

As we pull away I can see below me a flat canopy of brick and tile, interspersed with warehouses stocking mass produced, cheap, furniture and DIY goods. Glancing at it I ponder that this imagery before me could belong to any town across the United Kingdom, there are no unique features in the flat red skyline.

The light suddenly drops and the internal train lights brighten up. The little town is gone and replaced by a long tunnel. If I were not writing a blog post I could well be cursing this engineering masterpiece for interrupting my telephone signal, or my ability to like a photo on Facebook.

Seconds or maybe minutes (for who has time to dwell on the passing of time?) we exit the dark space. My mind is indifferent but my body welcomes the return to normal pressure. Over recent years my ears have taken a disliking to the changing characteristics of air in varying locations. Hills and small communities surround me and I know I must be on the final leg on my passage to Bath. These small communities must have been so isolated and undisturbed before the train line came. Is my carrier a blessing or a curse to these hillside villages?

And here I am, arriving into Bath now, where the occupied, Georgian, buildings are so beautiful and the derelict, graffiti covered, constructions are so ugly. Better pick up my belongings and quickly brush out my fringe, for the train is starting to slow down.

I now stand on the platform, gracefully dumped, and watch as the large diesel engine bellows smoke into the pure blue sky before powering on towards Bristol. He has fulfilled his promise today, for I have arrived at my destination on time. As far as our commuter-train relationship is concerned I can ask no more of him than that. Beauty and delicacy was never in our original agreement. So off I now head towards the ticket barrier, accompanied with the conviction of a girl that has done this a hundred times before.

My friend will be here soon and with the arrival of an old alliance my mind will fill with altogether different thoughts. Jobs, boys, ambitions, after two years apart there is much to discuss. The shops will sparkle with Christmas goods every so often to distract us, but conversation will undoubtedly pull us back to the heated debate over the rising price of merlot. The train will turn from hero to villain, pulling us both apart when our laughter hits its highest decibel.

Will I tell my friend about this commute? Of course not. Because, after all, what’s so special about the 12:37 train from Swindon to Bath Spa?

 

Written as part of the National Blog Posting Month (Nablopomo) challenge to write a post for everyday throughout the month of November. This post was written for day 13.

Nablopomo Day 10: The John Lewis Christmas Advert 2016 – Who’s Cleaning up the Animal Poop?

In the UK, the John Lewis Christmas ad is kinda a big deal. In recent years it’s created a tadition of being the most finically invested, beautifully created and, therefore, most anticipated television advert of the year. It’s not acceptable to eat a mince pie until the John Lewis Christmas advert has broadcast on television sets.

Based on that, I present to you the John Lewis Christmas advert 2016 – #BusterTheBoxer.

You’re going to need to watch this for context to the below:

 

Now I’ve/you’ve seen the full advert, here are a few thoughts. My very British thoughts.

  • #BusterTheBoxer is not an acceptable title for a beautiful and/or Christmas advert. You guys spent £1 million on production and you couldn’t produce a better title than a hashtag? You guys charged per word or somthing?
  • That dog isn’t cute.
  • Whatever happened to nodding dogs?
  • That girl is going to destroy her bed.
  • I’m sorry, what decent parenting allows their kid to get away with that much bouncing?
  • Anyone who has ever been a kid/parent (i.e. everyone) knows that expecting a child to sleep on Christmas eve and not react to clattering in the garden is expecting way too much.
  • Goodbye to your chances of getting Alan Titchmarsh to redesign your garden. That thing is a beast and is going to kill off your grass to buggery.
  • Also – good luck mowing around that mate.
  • Ok, I’m going to have to suspend reality for a bit here I can see.
  • That is cute.
  • Oh no, don’t invite the hedgehog on, with his spikes that is a minor injury waiting to happen. I hope the dad kept the receipt, spike damage on a trampoline is going to be pret-ty noticable.
  • Mate, I wouldn’t be too down about it, with that many animals on there you wouldn’t reach optinmum bounce anyway.
  • Never snows on Christmas.
  • That trampoline is far too clean. You’re expecting me to believe that the animals of Farthing wood all came down and had a massive garden party on that thing and there’s no foot prints, scratches or poop on that thing? That thing should be reaking of ferral animal right now. Unless we skipped the scene where Peter Rabbish and Jemima Puddle-Duck came down and cleaned it up?
  • Real unattractive dog gets upstarted by CGI unattaractive dog.
  • Ok, I guess it is kida cute though.
  • Why do all the humans look so confused/stoned? Given their reaction shouldn’t the overall message be “Christmas is for sharing, idiots”?
  • Well that was nice, I actually needed that. Oh wait, Trump is still going to be president, better get back to screaming into a pillow and ditching Christmas presents for stocking up on tinned goods!

Gotta love the John Lewis Christmas advert.