Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Want anecdotes, will travel.

I get a lot of complaints about this blog, mainly about my use of certain language that others deem offensive and unnecessary.  The most common complaint about the blog is that there is not enough of it, the posts are too few and far between.  The problem here is that there needs to be something to blog about, some sort of story or anecdote, and mine is quite an unremarkable life.  I did the whole 'blogging about having nothing to blog about' routine twice, so that means that I can't use that old chestnut again (for at least another six months).  As much fun as it would be to go meta and start blogging about blogging (and then go Inception and be 'blogging about blogging about blogging about ...' ), it would be far too self-indulgent and be the literary equivalent of wanking myself off to the smell of my own farts.  A few months back I accepted an invitation for lunch in a convent, hoping that it would spark off a wacky adventure, or at least an amusing anecdote that would be eminently blogworthy.  Unfortunately all the nuns were incredibly nice elderly ladies, and I ended up having an animated conversation about the music of Ennio Morricone with one of them.  As a mark of respect to them as people and as a token of my gratitude for feeding me, I vowed not to make any mention of that Monday lunchtime on this blog.

Last week a friend asked if I'd be willing to drive my van over to England to pick up a record collection that was for sale, but had to be collected before the end of the week.  This would mean driving from Cork to Wexford, a few hours on a ferry, then driving from Wales to Hastings (the south east of England, almost France) and then all the way back again in the space of twenty four hours.  He'd cover all costs, give me a few euro (as well as a few records) for my troubles, and on top of that he said it would probably make for an interesting adventure to blog about.  I said: "YEAH, LET'S DO THIS!!!" (it was every bit as enthusiastic as that), but when we sat down to do the sums it turned out that the trip was not financially viable and would have to be scrapped.  Just as I was resigning myself to a future devoid of amateur courier antics and anecdotes, I got a phone call from a production company who were shooting a horror film in Cork and needed some props brought down from their workshop in Dublin.  When I asked what sort of props, the reply was a load of dismembered mannequin parts.  If driving to Dublin to fill my van with a load of fucked up shop window dummies is not the makings of a fine anecdote, I don't know what is!

The deal was that I had to be in Dublin city centre for nine in the morning, so I had to get up at four to get my porridge and scrambled eggs into me and be on the road at five.  As I was going to be sitting in my van for hours on end, there would be no need for a jacket, and if all went well I could be back home by lunchtime and in the gym in the early afternoon.  I sped off into the foggy darkness with the heating up and the radio on, and at around half six all the lights on my dashboard lit up at once.  This is never a good sign, but if they flashed on and off in a discodelic sequence it would probably be a bit more pleasing.  I pulled into the hard shoulder, popped the bonnet, and used the flashlight on my phone to see if anything was amiss.  As I'm not a mechanic, the only diagnostic test I could run was to see whether or not the engine was still there (which it was).  So I hopped back into the driver's seat and turned the key to hear a repeated clicking noise that sounds absolutely nothing like an engine roaring into life.  I tried this a few more times and then the dash lights started flashing on and off in a discodelic sequence, which was almost as good as having a fully working van.

So I called my insurance helpline for breakdown assitance, and when they asked me where I was, the best I could come up with was in the dark and fog, about halfway between Cork and Dublin.  I then called the film production crew and told them that I hope that they and their mannequins burn in hell for all eternity (fortunately for them I don't believe in an afterlife, so I didn't mean a word of that).  So after about two hours of sitting in an increasingly cold van, the tow truck showed up and towed me to Cashel (it turns out I was up beyond Thurles, so had made pretty good time up till the point the van crapped out).  The nice tow truck man said that it was probably a mechanical fault, that it looked pretty serious, and that I might want to consider saying my goodbyes and digging a sizable hole for my two ton friend's final resting place.  He said they'd run a few more tests when we got back to the garage (checking under the bonnet again to make doubly sure that the engine was still there) and that they'd call me when they had an answer.

As stated previously, I have a belief that there is some sort of governing force in the universe that is shunting everything about in a seemingly random manner, but is really indicative of a grand design.  So, why does the universe want me to be in Cashel of all places on a foggy Thursday morning?  Having boarded at a nearby secondary school, there is every possibility that I will bump into one of the attractive girls who was in my class (but way out of my league), who will admit to having always fancied me but was too shy to make an approach.  Who knows, maybe it will be a case of she didn't fancy me then, but it has not escaped her attention that I have grown more handsome with every passing year (note: it has been thirteen years since we sat the leaving) and that she now realises how much she has to have me.  Hopefully she won't ask what I do for a living (out of work funk dj, it's a step below out of work actor on the food chain) or the reason I happen to be in Cashel that day (my clapped out pikey wagon was rescued by the paramedics earlier that morning and they are now trying to resuscitate it - hardly the greatest line for wooing a lady).  The best way to allow this to happen would be to get a newspaper, and sit in a cafe with a pot of tea doing the crossword while I let the universe work its magic.  The universe got interrupted about halfway through my tea and crossword, as the garage phoned me saying to come over as they had some news about my van.

The problem was neither mechanical nor serious, but electrical and ought to be an easy fix.  I can't remember the exact wording, but it was along the lines of the alternator was the main cause of it, and that he had done the equivalent of putting a plaster on the wound so that I could drive back to Cork and get it seen to by a dedicated auto electrical type.  After doing a wee bit of research online, I decided against using the guys who were highly recommended but way over in Mayfield, as after dropping off the van I'd have to walk all the way home again, and then trek over at a later stage to pick it up after it had been repaired.  Instead, I'd make the smart move and just bring it to whoever was closest to me.  I got on the phone and he said it would be first thing Tuesday morning before he could see me, but that was cool as I didn't expect to get it sorted immediately on the Thursday before Paddy's day.

A few minutes after first thing Tuesday morning, I pulled up in the disabled spot outside his premises and sat there for another ten to fifteen minutes waiting for him to turn up.  He said it was probably worn brushes, that it wasn't a big job, and it would be done by that evening.  I handed over the keys (assuming he'd pull the van into his workshop to get started on it), and then went over town to sign on.  It was after six that evening before I remembered I had a van to collect, and when I tried ringing him there was no answer.  I walked up the road to see if he was on the premises, but it was all locked up and my van was still in the disabled spot since that morning (I have a very distinctive parking style, I'd recognise it anywhere).  On closer inspection it turned out that the driver's door was unlocked and the bonnet had not been closed properly.  I had mixed feelings about this: on the one hand everything that was in the van could have been stripped out.  On the other hand, it showed that he had been working on it.  Further inspection showed a "Parking Disc Required" sign on the street, so I could be in for a world of fines for that day.  There is nothing to do now but suck it up.  Besides, the van is probably done, I'll be able to collect it first thing in the morning.

Except it wasn't done.  It was the alternator alright, but instead of it being the brushes (the most common fault and the easiest fix) it was another part (slightly less common, but not all that difficult to fix), but it should be done after lunch, call back around two o'clock.  Which then became around half four,  which in fact meant around six, which was actually about twenty to seven.  In the end (i.e. about two hours ago) I was just happy to have my van back, even if it did take longer and cost a wee bit more than planned.  Now all I have to do is sit back with a nice cup of tea, and worry about how on earth I will pay for the parking fines that come from two days of being in a disabled space without a disc.  I might even have a few figrolls while I do this.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Be dental with me

I try my best to be a good friend, to be comforting to my nearest and dearest when they hit a hard time, but it's not always possible.  Frequently I'll meet someone who has failed their driving test, and I'll do my darndest to comfort them with "You were probably just unlucky, shur the nerves alone is enough to make anyone fail", or "I hear the tester is a right (insert gender appropriate word for genitalia here)", or "They probably have a quota of people to fail each month so they can make money off the retests", or whatever other heartwarming gems I happen to have close at hand.  My forlorn friend will then start to perk up and ask how many times I had to take the test before passing?  Unfortunately my answer is along the lines of "I passed it first time, but that was only because I approached it with seriousness and took plenty of lessons beforehand to make sure I was adequately prepared and guaranteed to sail through it."  This has the magic effect of completely undoing anything uplifting that was said previously.

Similarly anytime I meet someone complaining about wisdom teeth acting the wiseguy, my response is usually (pulls face) "Oooh, tell me about it?"  When they give me a sympathetic look, I then have to elaborate that they will have to tell me about it as my teeth are perfectly straight: I've never needed braces, and my wisdoms pop up like pretty maids all in a row, never needing to be pulled, excavated, or demolished like most other folks.  Having to endure the glower that follows is pretty painful I tells ya.

Everything comes at a cost though, and in exchange for perfect teeth I have been given gums that tend to act the bollocks from time to time.  Two of my last three visits to the dentist have been because of an infected gum flap (or to use the medical term, scumflap) around a wisdom tooth.  When one feels a wisdom tooth coming up, the appropriate thing to do is give the area a thorough brushing to help keep it clean and help erode the (now useless) gum flap.  When I felt a wisdom tooth coming up, I thought "Oooh, that's a bit tender, the sensible thing to do here is to keep the toothbrush out of the hurty zone" which then led to bits of food getting stuck under the gum flap, making it all nicely infected.  So when it got so tender and hurty that I could no longer speak or eat, I then thought it wise to visit a dentist.  When I explained that my mouth hurt like fuck, she then asked me to open wide so that she could stick medieval instruments of torture into the very area that hurt like fuck.  After satisfying her desire to make a grown man cry, she then wrote me a prescription for very strong antibiotics, told me to take better care of my teeth/gums, and visit the dentist more often.  You betcha I will, I've learned my lesson this time for sure!

Until two years later when once again I found myself in the very same position getting the same prescription for the same strong antibiotics.  I pointed out that it was only happening on the left hand side of my mouth, and maybe this was indicative of a sinister scheme my gums had hatched against me?  Without even acknowledging my clever wordplay, the dentist told me that it was only indicative of neglect, and that I really ought to visit more often.

That was two years ago, so it was with a certain pride that I rocked up to reception to make an appointment when there wasn't even anything the matter.  I'm just here for a check up, what the hell, how about just a scale and polish instead!  So will I book you in with the dental hygienist?  Why not, shur I don't even need to see the dentist, aren't I great?  The hygienist was an attractive woman, who did her best to assert an air of stern authoritarianism so that I would take her seriously as a professional.  This plan backfired somewhat, as anyone who has been following my "Fortified MILF" series of erotic novels knows that I have a thing for stern authoritarian women.

So after much wincing and washing of teeth, I was told that for someone who neither smokes nor drinks red wine, I have an impressive amount of staining on my teeth.  Impressive was not the exact word she used, I think it might have been shocking, but deep down I could tell she was impressed.  There was also a ridiculously big buildup of plaque on the inside of my teeth, and my gumline was also receding.  I then asked if this was God's way of punishing me, as although my hairline has remained intact he was now pulling back the gums as an act of divine retribution?  No, it's a sign that you're brushing the outside too hard and the inside not enough.  So how long before my gumline grows back to normal?  Never!  Take better care when you're brushing, start flossing, and on the way out make an appointment to see me again in six months.