It’s not often that I look at a tulip and think, ‘I know exactly how you feel’, but that’s what happened this morning.

I woke up, wandered down our dingy hallway, through the study where I’m writing this, and into the kitchen to make a cup of tea and a bit of my patented All-bran/Alpen mix for brekkie. I confess to a certain early morning muddled feeling, which was mostly a result of getting back late last night from Walthamstow Dog-track.

I’d blown my cash gambling*. That and the contents of the hot-dog I had consumed while I was there (no…surely not) were double-teaming my mind and stomach. However, I was instantly lifted from my reverie by the fact that my garden had turned white during the night.

*not an experience I’ve had before, but oddly one which I very much enjoyed.

Snow in April?! And this wasn’t just snow. This was an unabashed, uninhibited eye-full of some of the best snow eye-candy I’d ever seen. This was global-warming weird-weather porn.

And it isn’t right, somehow, this sort of thing. It’s disconcerting. How do I feel about it? There were kids having a great time playing in next door’s garden. They felt great about it. But…I didn’t like it. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, until I saw this…

And I thought ‘That tulip with an inch of snow on his head – he knows this is wrong.’ And as our eyes locked, there was a silent understanding between that tulip and I.

‘Sorry, but WTF is this white stuff doing here?’ we asked ourselves…

Blogged with the Flock Browser

A regular feature called The Apologist Explains. This is where I explain why something or someone is totally offensive to the laws of God and the Universe and must be punished, unless the perpetrator apologises IMMEDIATELY…

Look. I’m pretty angry, but I’ll keep this brief, ok?

Crisps are brilliant. What I want from a bag of crisps are as many deep-fried slices of potato as you can cram in a bag while still having room for a generous portion of salt. I do NOT want this wankery.

Cocking non-crisps

These aren’t a delicacy. These are not even crisps. They are the shavings of other, lesser vegetables – vegetables who cower in the face of that most mighty of tubers.

Just because they are different colours, and curl up into funny shapes, and don’t taste quite as nice, the Artisan apparently thinks they are better. Well, the Artisan is a total nonce.

AND the beetroot ones dye my fingers red.

But the artisan doesn’t leave it there. He wants to add insult to injury with his non-crisps, by lying to your face about them. See, if I buy a box of cereal, and it’s a big box, and it costs twice as much as the smaller box, I expect to see at least twice as much cereal in there when I open it.

Well, the Artisan doesn’t follow these laws of natural justice. Instead, when the Artisan sells you a big bag, for twice the price of normal crisps, what do you get?

Hardly any non-crisps in a massive bag

Hardly any sodding non-crisps in a big sodding bag. That’s what you get.

Shame on you, The Artisan. For crimes against decent hard working people trying to enjoy their lunch-hours, I hope you’re sorry.

I don’t mean to imply that social networking is bad, because that kind of opinion is clearly for idiots. And I know that everyone has a Facebook story and people tell them just to pretend like they aren’t baffled by new media stuff, but really that’s not what this is about. I am baffled by new media stuff, and have only ever met one person who wasn’t and he was a total ass. So really, this is a just a little anecdote about something in my past coming back to haunt me, and yes I should have called it that, and not referenced social networking just to try and make it sound more significant than it is, but…sorry, ok? At least it is a true story, and you’ve read this far, so perhaps if you could just bear with me?


So I logged in to Facebook the other day, and someone had sent me a private message. The message only contained a subject line:

Originally from Northern Ireland?

This being facebook, I could see the name of the person who sent the message, and their picture. But in her mugshot she was wrapped up in a red scarf with her hood up, so I couldn’t see her face.

Intriguing, huh?

My memory for names is appalling, but I dredged it anyway. I thought she might have been a class mate from my first primary school when I was really young. I certainly lived in Northern Ireland back then. So I replied, asking if she had attended that school. I was hoping for a yes, and maybe a ‘hey it’s so weird/cool being in touch again, what happened to you? I’m an accountant.’ Y’know, the usual stuff of renewing connections that social networking has been about since Friends Re-united appeared 8 years ago.

[Aside – Friends Reunited is still going incidentally. Who knew?! Even better, it still has that awful logo with the old people wearing sun glasses. (It’s like, lots of our users are old, but they’re on the internet. That’s so craaaazy!!! We can represent that juxtaposition visually with a granny in aviators! It’ll be awesome! YEAH!)]

But I didn’t get that from my mystery mailer. Not even close. I got this:

Yes i did. My lasting memory of you is of you throwing my trainers in the river.

The Apologetic Blogger has a lot to be sorry for.

– The Apologist

Ok, so, you’re on your own in the flat. And you’re standing in the kitchen and washing the dishes. And you have the radio on so you’re singing away, doing the Axl Rose impression you hadn’t busted out since I was you were 12.
So anyway, the wife comes in, and you don’t hear the front door bang ’cause your blastin’ out Welcome to the Jungle, and you’re a rock star, and you’re in concert, and that spatula is a mike and every bubble in the Fairy soap suds is the face of an adoring fan, and it gets to the bit where Axl starts moaning (Axl, you dog…), and for a fraction of a second you hesitate, but then you join in with that bit too, right? Because you’re on your own and besides, Axl wouldn’t let down those soap suds with a half-assed performance…


Ok, it really is just me.

The point is that finding out you aren’t alone is a shock.

The divorce papers? Less so.

And that’s why Axl Rose should be bloody sorry.

– The Apologist (now just an urchin livin’ under street)

I am now 1/3 criminal

So, I pulled myself on the train on Friday morning, shoulders slumped, the anxiety of the things I had screwed up yesterday weighing heavily as usual. Little did I know, that my greatest screw up was yet to reveal itself to me.I got to the barriers at Blackfriars station, and beeped my way through. Except there was no through this time. Instead, there was just some embarassed shuffling out of one London’s longest and most ill-tempered commuter queues, and off to the side to report myself to the guard. They tried the card, and got the same result. Normally, in the event of a ticket malfunction, you then get a quick flick of the wrist, the barriers swing wide and it’s on to the next stage of human degradation. Or the tube as it’s also sometimes known…

…but not today. Today I got sized up. There was a distinct moment of looking me up and down. Eyes crinkled at the edges with the merest of squints. The lips curled slightly. The hands moved to the belt where the radio was in case help needed to be summoned. My amiable, if slightly care-worn, face fell. What had I done now?

Or rather what had I not done? My Oyster card had expired at the stroke of midnight between Thursday and Friday, unbeknownst to me. I hadn’t fed the bureaucratic beast my credit card in time. Never mind, I ventured. There’s a machine just over there, on the other side of the barrier. I have a season ticket, so if you just let me through, I can renew it now. Then we can just put this behind us and get on with our lives. You’ll have the huge amount money I give you for treating me like a battery hen every day (only without the free food and antibiotics) and I’ll continue to lose touch with my emotions as the only way to control the panic induced at being crushed by strangers in a metal cylinder on wheels.

But the beast is getting cranky these days.

‘Do you know just how many young men with difficult family lives and poor housing conditions had dodged their fare recently?’, it asked.

‘Several?’, I ventured.



‘And what’s more, they’re cheeky, and horrible to the staff, and rude to their fellow passengers.’

‘I know,’ I sympathised, ‘Quite often I feel threatened by them on your trains and buses, and they play horrendous music about killing authority figures and degrading women. It’s not on really.’

‘They? What’s this: ‘they?’ business.’

‘Huh?’, I asked.

‘Don’t you mean, I?’


‘Yep. You’re a fare dodger, ergo a reprobate who intended to deprive me of cash and who will now be disproportionately punished.’

‘But you can see me. I’m hitting 30, and I’ve got a job. Look, I’ve got job clothes on. I’m carrying a job bag. I’ve travelled to and from my job on this train for about 7 years on this very trainline, and this is the first time I’ve ever let my ticket expire, and anyway I didn’t get any of those ‘Near Expiry’ messages that normally pop up and…’

‘SILENCE. And while you’re shutting up, give me £20.’

‘£20 pounds. That’s rather a lot, isn’t it? It sounds like a completely arbitrary figure, not mention unjust given that I’m just about to renew my season ticket at that machine just across the barrier. That means you will lose exactly zero money, because I am not trying to scam you like a small number of other people might be. It may also be worth taking into account my seven year record as your customer, during which I have paid roughly £8400 to you in regular installments, and not a single one has been late up to this point. This is despite the fact that my experience using your service was less like public transport, and more like the CIA’s new alternative to water boarding…’

‘Give me £20 pounds, otherwise we will take you to court. Oh, and we’re keeping your details. If this happens two more times throughout your entire life, we will criminalise you.’

‘Oh…well…here you go’, I said. ‘Sorry…’

And, of course, I meant it.

I left my playstation2 on standby overnight last night.

Sorry to anyone who was depending on planet Earth for survival…

Route 68

London bus drivers must have unhappy lives, I think.

As well as the stress of lugging a peculiarly unwieldy vehicle around the streets of London, they get people like me grumping at them. Just because (deep breath…) they inexplicably kick everyone off the bus a couple of miles short of their advertised destination at a ‘temporary’ bus stop that was so ‘temporary’ it didn’t exist they get tutted and glared at. They then have to deliver the news that no No. 68 buses would be going any further that night, that they had no information about alternative routes or indeed any idea how I might get home, and no transferable ticket because he couldn’t work the machine so if I did manage to get another bus it would double the cost of my journey.

The thing is, I actually do feel bad. It wasn’t the driver’s choice to leave us stranded in South London to walk home on our own in the dark, but he gets the nasty looks and the drunken disapproving ranting.

Modern life sets us against each other. In another time, we might have been friends.