Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Oh the weather outside is nice thank you very much.

It’s a funny thing the festive period. At one moment our lords are leaping and the next we’re swearing incessantly after failing at our new-years resolution at the first hurdle. Who cares if I have another mince pie?! I need my extra weight to survive the winter! Sound familiar? Good. You’re officially human. Well done! Now that we’ve all justified ourselves that our diets will most definitely start tomorrow can we stop moaning please? Pretty please? Not because I am not a fan of moaning. Heavens no. Rather I think we should all look ahead a few weeks to discover something that we should be moaning about: Valentine’s day. 

We’re only just beginning to recover from the immense pressure placed on us at New-Years where we all scrambled to find the nearest thing with a pair of lips to kiss at midnight and now we’re expected to put ourselves out again?! Sorry, where was I? I might have leaked a bit of hidden bitterness there... Ah, yes. The curious case of Valentine’s day. Through a mixture of never being educated in such a way and never having had the interest to research it, I have never understood this holiday. An excuse for romance, yes, I get that, but an overweight bare-bottomed baby with a bow and arrow sparking love between couples? Really? That worries me. It’s like Legolas meets Huggies meets Fifty Shades of Grey. No thanks. At least it’s the cream egg season again. Although after that image, I am not sure that I will be looking to eat again any time soon. Oh well. Every cloud has a silver lining - I guess my New-Years resolution is back on!

If we disregard the bare-bottomed baby for a moment (and hopefully forever), 2013 has got off to a smashing start. Why? Well, I can think of several reasons which are all more significant and meaningful than the one I am going to present to you, but nevertheless, here I go: the snow! Well, there’s not really much of it. Only a few inches. But as we all know that is enough to bring London to a standstill and to trigger the papers into printing headlines informing us of the end of the world. What nonsense. So much for keeping calm and carrying on. We can be a right bunch of pansies sometimes. But who am I to complain? There’s snow outside!

Every night since Christmas I’ve been checking the Met Office website hoping, dreaming, even praying for snow! And it’s finally here! Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure 95% of all activity on the Met Office website is done during this period purely in the hope of us convincing ourselves that it will be too snowy and treacherous to get into work the next day. If any of you out there are questioning, the final 5% is almost definitely made up of pensioners who have exhausted all possible sources of amusement (namely Werther’s Originals, knitting, sitting, criticising family members etc) and feel compelled to fill the time with some sort of needless information. If anybody who works at the Met Office is reading, though, I have a message for you: stop. Unless it is going to snow, please give up with all this weather mapping nonsense. Tell me if I will need a jumper and/or a coat and then leave us in peace. 

The big news of 2013 for me, though, has to be that I am officially on the roads! Yes, after a whole year-and-a-half after passing my test I have finally gained access to a car! Huzzah! Like with everything good in Britain, though, it didn’t take long for me to start complaining. Yes I should be grateful that I’m driving and yes I probably shouldn’t get ahead of myself, but who on earth drives at 30mph in the middle lane when there is a speed limit of 50mph?! WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?! I’m not advocating speeding, I’m not telling you to do it... I’m just telling you to consider it. Some of us want to get on with our lives instead of having to glare at the rear end of your car. And don’t think we’re being patient by not overtaking you. Oh no. What we are actually doing is thinking up all forms of possible punishments and forms of torture that should be implemented for your offence. It is at times like this when I really do question Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest, because surely by now these prats must have died out. There is no reason for their existence. 

Part of me feels that I should be more considerate but I have no patience for these idiots. I really don’t. I did think that I’d be kind when I saw a learner though. I was one myself not so long ago and I remember telling my teacher in lessons how when I pass I would always let them go and not put pressure on them. Sod that. If any of you out there have not passed your driving test and think the same as I did, you cannot comprehend how much of an inconvenience they will become to your lives. When you drive, you drive to get from A to B in the quickest time possible (obviously whilst staying within the speed limits set down by Her Maj’s government) and having someone drive slowly in front of you, you cannot help but feel that they are doing it on purpose to ruin your day. And yours only. The selfish bastards. They should be culled. The lot of them. 

My anger towards learners has been somewhat quelled recently after the snow has prevented me from driving for the past week, but don’t you worry. As soon as it melts away I’ll be back. Breathing down your necks muttering a selection of the finest naughty words under my breath. Well, I say muttering. I actually mean shouting. My driving teacher did tell me quite frequently that he would get me a megaphone so I could be heard. And on that note, I think it must be time to leave you once again. Until the next time...

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Welcome to the 21st century!

Technology is advancing almost as fast as I can go through a family-size box of PG Tips, and after several years of attempting to escape from the torrent of touch-screens and other gizmos that seem to have neglected buttons, I have finally run out of steam. Yes, dear readers, this is the news that I have succumbed to the pressures and entered the era of the Smartphone. 

I look back with nothing but joy to those brickesque Nokia handsets. Those cheep and cheerful chunky lumps, with their flashing lights and pulsating vibrations. They were the very essence of what a phone should be. Oh, and did I mention that they had Snake? That might have been the most important thing. Perhaps ever. I shall have to do more research on that front, though, before I can provide you all with an accurate table of results. 

Putting nostalgia aside for one moment, I am rather enjoying this new phone. I write this with it on my lap. It’s gigantic screen staring happily back, waiting patiently until it has something to inform me of. It’s like having my very own little Jeeves! Whenever someone sees fit to contact me, it chirps merrily, advertising the recent social activity that has been channelled in my direction. I can use it to check my emails, my Facebook, Twitter, the lot. It is even kind enough to inform me of Sunderland’s increasingly poor results in the Barclays Premier League. How I wish it would stop doing that. I wonder if there is a setting somewhere that makes it only notify me if we win...
There is one thing that niggles me. It just seems to, well, do so much. You never get the feeling that it’s giving you it’s full attention. Whilst you’re writing a text, you know that it’s scanning your email inbox, checking the weather, updating Twitter, making you lunch, the list is endless. The only way I can possibly describe the sensation is by comparing it to having a conversation with someone you have bumped into for the first time in several years. On the face of things, they seem to be listening intently, responding with care and accuracy to your every syllable. But behind closed doors they are somewhere else. Thinking about last night’s MasterChef results, the bills waiting on the dresser, something like that. Although the conversation is pleasant, you never turn away feeling truly satisfied that they were fully interested. Ok, fine, it’s not exactly the same in this scenario, because I am quite grateful for the background work that the phone does, but the feeling is there. 

Setting the phone aside for the moment (metaphorically, of course, because as you will know if you have ever met anyone with a new technological instrument, they never put it down) there has been another technological advance in my life. Perhaps one even more drastic than the phone. Before I reveal what is is, I must warn you. If you judged me before, you will just have to judge me that little bit more now, because what I am about to tell you is quite a lot more than mildly embarrassing. I used an umbrella for the first time just two days ago. I know. How could I have survived in London for this long without one?! Before you launch a torrential rant in my direction, I’d just like to point out that nine times out of ten when I leave the house, I’ve always taken a waterproof coat with me just to be sure. I’m not that silly. Please note that there was a heavy emphasis on the word ‘that’. One wouldn’t want you to think that one has become sensible. No one would not. 

The experience of the umbrella was quite marvellous. The notion of not having to look like a prat in a ridiculous raincoat whilst keeping dry is quite a pleasant one. It’s just substituted for the danger of cutting your fingers on the ruddy clasps when you come to open your umbrella. Blasted things. Once you get it up, though, (innuendos aside, please) it’s rather wonderful. I’ve always loved the sound of rain against a window, and now with this new invention (in my life, at least) you can take it wherever you go! Hurrah! Some credit must go to the bloke who designed it. I shall inform Her Maj immediately to give one a knighthood.

That pretty much concludes my belated welcome into the 21st century. Now, let one resume counting down to the 12 days of Christmas. One expects all the lords to be leaping when it arrives. Keep calm all!

Friday, 26 October 2012

Blog post Gangnam Style!

It’s me! I’m back! Oh how kind of you! Of course I missed you too! Right. Are we done with that now? For the sake of all that’s British, get a grip of yourselves.

It has been a rather lengthy period of time, though, and I sincerely apologise for having deprived you all of my commentary of some truly exciting events in real-time, and indeed now, because whilst they were all great fun, there are more pressing matters at hand. 

But as with almost every rule in existence (possibly excluding the laws of physics), I shall make one quick exception to comment on what was undoubtably the two most exciting things to have taken place in Britain in my lifetime: the Olympic and Paralympic games. Like with the Jubilee, though, I wasn’t there for it. Bugger. I did manage to make it back in time to watch some of the Paralympic coverage, and may I just say, it was a jolly good show. If I may, I would like to personally congratulate Jonnie Peacock for his performance in the T44 100m, which was, in my own opinion, the highlight of both sets of games. Forgive me if I’m wrong, but along with Oreos stopping having the creamy bit in the middle, isn’t a Brit winning gold at a sprinting event one of the harbingers of the apocalypse? Just a thought...

Although many of us are still revelling in our joy, let us be honest with ourselves for a moment, and only for a moment please, because we don’t want to be too sensible for too long. We all expected the games to flop. Come on, the London Underground is overcrowded and ridden with problems at the best of times! Can any of us honestly say that we expected it to cope with an enormous influx of passengers? I certainly didn’t. Although us Brits are a proud, noble, and quite marvellous bunch of chaps (if I may say so myself), we do have a seemingly limitless ability to ridicule and belittle ourselves. But it did work. And next to Jonnie, that was the thing that I found most remarkable. Headlines were smattered around the papers, claiming that the games “rekindled national pride”. Indeed they did, but it won’t take long for that flame to flicker out, allowing us to go back to being our grumpy selves once again. Perfect. Just the way (uh huh uh huh) we like it.

Having missed the Olympics, I decided that I must find some alternative method of compensating this missed opportunity to be cultural, and what better way do have done this than by making a trip to the Tate Modern. It may be an odd thing to do, but as with Marmite, I love it. Sadly, though, many of my friends and colleagues do not share the same views. On modern art that is; many of them do like Marmite. It took several attempts at persuading a certain someone to accompany me to the gallery, and after finding out that it was compulsory for their university assignment, they were roped into it. Score. Strangely though, they showed a certain reluctance towards the whole thing. Apparently (still talking about modern art here), it is, to quote one of the more polite adjectives associate with it, “crap”. And I agree. A lot of it is. One so called ‘piece’ that is currently on display was, as far as I could tell, just a giant sheet of squared paper! You know, the kind of sort that you got in maths exercise books in school. What rubbish. I shall have to put a word in with Her Maj to have the ‘artist’ taken to the Tower immediately.

Now, I’d guess that 85% of the gallery is made up of such tosh, but that is the beauty of it. It’s like shopping at LIDL; you have to forage for hours until you find something worth looking at. I would like to have made a more accurate estimation of the ratio of utter bollocks to interesting things, but after visiting two of the four galleries, I was promptly dragged out, since my company had decided that they had had enough of staring at bits of mud smeared on canvas. Whats more, they were in such a rush to escape that we even missed afternoon tea! Honestly. What disgraceful behaviour. 

Sticking with this theme of culture, I feel it is my duty to Queen, country, and the people of the internet to comment on what is perhaps the biggest viral hit in history. A hit so big, that our beloved Boris and not-so-beloved Cameron have taken to dancing to it. Yes, Gangnam Style has become quite something. Now although it isn’t really British, I would like to bring two and a half points to your attention. The half being that you don’t get to chose what goes into this blog, but I do. So ha. Being more constructive, though, there is a quite fantastic, royally approved (in my mind), parody on a little website called YouTube. If you haven’t already, put down your mug of Earl Grey (I feel fancy on Fridays), search for “London Style”, and be amused. 

The final, and perhaps the most important reason as to why I have brought it up is because I would like to start a petition. Not one of those dull ones when some politician knocks on your door and unsuccessfully spends several dreary minutes explaining as to why they have failed so badly in life that it has led them to their current position. Heavens, no. I want to do a proper one. One which relates to every member of the public and not some shiny fore-headed prime minister. I propose that instead of marching in unison during the changing of the guard, that every single one of those beefeaters dances Gangnam Style towards their new position. How great would that be?! We could do it during Trooping of the Colour as well! Imagine how much more exciting the procession would be! Sod it, I’m going to write a letter to Her Maj as we speak to inform her of my marvellous idea. I’m sure I can get Mr Boris on my side too. 

Well, that’s it for now. I will strive to the best of my endeavours to not leave you for that length of time ever again, unless my inevitable appointment as the orchestrator of royal events occupies too much of my time. Keep calm!

Sunday, 10 June 2012

And it's still reigning in England...

I missed it! I actually missed it! "What did I miss?", I hear you asking? The bloody jubilee, that's what! And do you know what makes it worse? I'm flying to London on Tuesday! Couldn't Her Maj have held it off just one more week? Just for me? Please?

Well, there's no point begging now. It's over. No Paul McCartney, horse racing or street parties for me. All I got to do was to change the wallpaper on my iPod to the famous "Keep calm and carry on" poster. Yippee for me.

But I suppose that's a good thing really, because our way of celebrating on a national day has always puzzled me. You all know what I'm speaking of, oh yes: the street party. How on earth did we come up with that? If any of you have ever set foot in Britain, you will know that we are not the most social bunch when it comes to dealing with strangers. Every single one of us, no matter how old or young, we all know that there is a rule that we do not talk to our neighbours. We do not speak of this rule, but it is there; kind of like Fight Club. Occasionally you will get one odd-bod in your street, though, who will think that they are above this, and they'll go round to new residents and introduce themselves, often bringing a traditional peace offering (wine). Now, instead of thinking, "That was nice!", or, "How kind!", as they think you would, our only reaction is, "What a weirdo. I wonder why he did that?"

Now, if you keep that information in mind, just think for a minute about street parties. Got it? There we go. How does it work?! Introductions must be odd, "Hello there, I have lived two doors down from you for the past eight years. It's nice to finally meet you after having ignored you for all this time! Fancy a beer?" It doesn't sound like my thing, to be honest. But is that really going to be what brings us together as a nation? Will it only take a royal celebration to bring people together? Probably. That sounds about right. And to be honest, I am quite thankful for that. Not because of any issues of social akwardness, no, but because of something much more embarrassing: I do not know the national anthem.

Now, I know the tune and some of the words, but after something about sending Her Maj victorious, I am completely clueless. How has this happened?! How can I proudly parade around calling myself British whilst I have to look like Wayne Rooney trying to recite Shakespeare when the national anthem comes on?! It's ridiculous! But then again, in my own little world, nobody knows the full set of lyrics, and more importantly, we're not supposed to ask. Ok, well that sounded a lot better inside my head. Now it looks like a perfect recipe for a dictatorship! Yes! I can see it now! There's the Queen and Prince Phillip sitting round one of the many fireplaces in Buckingham palace, their feet placed upon a corgi, plotting their evil plans. "Oh go on Phillip! It will be funny! Let's make all them all wear their scarves on their elbows and walk backwards on Wednesdays!" It would be chaos! And what if Prince Charles ever becomes king?! He'll probably have us replacing our morning Weetabix with those ruddy Dutchy Organic Biscuits of his! And they won't soak up the milk half as well! Oh dear, it could be such an odd future for us all.

Thankfully, though, I doubt that day will ever come, because I'm sure that in our little country there is a small group of people (none of whom will ever be invited to my house for supper) who bother researching the words just to make sure we're not unconsciously agreeing to have burly officers in trench-coats march down Oxford street barking orders at us and swinging their truncheons. Good on them, that's what I say. Sitting in their attics with a pair of slightly dusty glasses and a memo-pad, they are the unsung heroes of our nation. And I will add, although I greatly appreciate their work, I am in absolutely no hurry to meet any of them. Sorry.

Well, with my flight home fast approaching, I feel that all there is left to say is to wish a big British congratulations to our dearest Queenie (who I know is a big fan of these posts), and I propose we all raise our glasses (or tea cups) to a very happy 60 years! Huzzah!

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Hay fever? There's pollen-ty of that going about

Ah, spring. It's finally here. After escaping winter's frosty chains, life is renewing itself once again. The birds are chirping, the lambs are lambing, and the sun is gloriously shining through a thin, wispy layer of clouds. How it sickens me. Blergh.

I used to like the spring. I really did! Honestly! I still remember the morning commutes; head resting against the bus window, the sunlight would stream in, making me extremely uncomfortable because I had, of course, worn my coat after being unable to convince myself that London's never-ending winter had actually ended. By no means was it perfect, but that first glimpse of sun along with the realisation that spring had finally arrived still stands out amongst my favourite memories. But those days are behind me now. These ruddy foreign trees have ruined it for me. Pigs.

It's not like I have never had hay-fever before, but back in London it never went further than a muffled sniffle or tickley eyes. But here, here is something different. My nose is running so violently that it could stand a good chance of qualifying for this years Olympics! On a side note, if that was to happen, it could see a first ever correct use of the phrase, "And he has won it by a nose". Ha ha! Sorry. It seems to be the day for these awful puns. But seriously. Not only do I have Niagra Falls sitting in the middle of my face, but I am constantly fighting the urge to tear my eyes out! It's horrendous! They are so itchy! Yes, that's right! Pity me! Too right you should! And if you don't, we'll, that's not very nice of you, is it?

Although all evidence in this post would prove the contrary, I am quite a positive and cheery person really, and it does seem odd for me to hate the spring. In fact, it is extremely odd, because I don't much like the summer either. Why? Because its too bloody hot, that's why. I spend half the year complaining about the freezing temperatures, the lack of snow, the thick carpet of grey clouds, and the constant drizzle, only to complain about the very opposite when winter finally buggers off. That's the British way, I guess. We're never satisfied unless we have something to complain about, and when all is going well, we can always rely on the weather as back-up material for our rants.

Rather sadly, though, they don't seem to have that attitude over here. By my calculation (partially based on the fact that half my budget is suddenly being spent on tissues), spring has been here for a good few weeks, and I cannot detect a single sign of anybody complaining! What is wrong with these people! I am so sick of hearing, "Oh! What a lovely day!" every single ruddy morning. Shout about something! Complain! Nothing can ever be that perfect! What about the increased number of bees, the ice in your drinks melting too fast, mosquito bites, crowded beaches, poor service at the pool-side bar, or why don't you bloody complain about me complaining too much?! Show some sign of frustration! I noticed somebody the other day who was burnt to a crisp, and thought, "Ah ha! Here's somebody who we might be able to coax some misery out of!" After asking him how he got burnt, do you know what his response was? Did he begin to fire all sorts of curses at the sun and the makers of sun-cream? No. No he didn't. He merely smiled at me and said, "Had a party on the beach and fell asleep. It was so worth it though". What?! There is nothing, nothing in this world that is worth having to look like acne for! I don't know how much more of this happy-clappy nonsense I can take.

I guess I'll have to sit here then; cowering behind my bedroom window, too afraid to confront the pollen outside. See what I have been reduced to? At least I have you all, though. When all else fails, I can always rely on having a good old-fashioned natter to keep me believing. If nobody in this country is going to complain about anything, I guess I shall have to do it for them. A kind of national service, if you will. Now that's something I have no trouble showing my British side for.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Your on-board entertainment this evening shall be provided by those sitting in 53B and 53C

Well, it's over, dear readers. I've put my watch forward, I've packed a considerable about of unnessecsry things into my bag, and I've gone back to not understanding a single word. No, silly! I have not gone back to studying A-level history! Oh dear, it pains me to even joke about it... Fortunately, that is not the case, but with a considerable amount of regret, I must announce that I have left Britain once again. I'll leave you all a few minutes to grieve.

Right. That's enough. Pull yourselves together.

I did have quite a nice time, though. Nice. Hmm. It's strange, isn't it? Not fantastic, not amazing, not lovely, but 'nice'. All my life I have been educated to avoid using the word 'nice' like it's the plague, but it seems to fit here. I can hear the teachers of my youth shouting at this very moment, "What's wrong with you boy?! Can't you think of a proper adjective?!" Rude. But I'd like to defend 'nice', because there is honestly no other word that would be appropriate in this situation.

I know it is a bit cliché, but nice to me is sitting on a slightly old armchair in my dressing-gown, slowly dipping biscuits into a cup of hot chocolate and watching them go soggy. Before you ask, yes, I am fully aware that the above is quite a weird, and yes, we Brits do drink other things besides tea. But that is what nice is to me: it's comforting, it's cosy, it's homely. Although, my association of 'nice' with that image could have something to do with "NICE" biscuits that I was given as a child. Yes. That is what they were called, and if my memory serves me correctly, it was a bit optimistic.

So, after my nice little ramble around Britain, I was once again loaded into the metal toilet-roll-tube and fired into a world of troubles and torment. You see, my flight out of Blighty was a night flight, and next to finding out that that last packet of chocolate digestives you'd been saving has gone out of date, it is perhaps the most traumatic ordeal that one can ever face. No matter how hard I try, I cannot, I cannot sleep on a plane! My friends keep telling me, "Oh if you keep saying that you can't, then you won't be able to!" GO AWAY! Of course I don't say that to myself! How the bloody hell do you think I realised I couldn't sleep on a plane?! It's not as if I thought, "I wonder what would make this flight more interesting... I know! I'll develop an inability to sleep! That'll make the next five-and-a-half sodding hours pass quicker, won't it!!" Honestly. If I wanted some rubbish advice, I would have called the customer-service line at Asda.

This time, though, I though that I'd struck gold. I had an epiphany. Why don't I just go to bed really late the night before? Then I'd be tired enough to fall asleep on the plane! Well done me. What a brilliant idea. Wasn't that a great way of depriving yourself from a proper sleep in two days.

Now, although I do seem frustrated, my feelings are incredibly lessened for one simple reason. No, not tranquillisers. It was because of the wonderful elderly couple who were seated on my right. I have always had a soft spot for senior citizens, and not just because they like to feed you chocolate cake. Apologies for the use of 'senior citizen', by the way, but our nation's obsession with not wanting to cause offence has gone so far that I am afraid to use the word 'old', so please excuse my poor substitutes. So anyway, these aged specimens of the human condition just sat there, perfectly innocently, yet I was sitting close enough to enjoy their little commentary of one bloke trying to fit his hand luggage in an overhead compartment. "Oh here he goes again. No, the silly plonker, he's doing it wrong! Lengthways you muppet! No, no, oh, wait a minute! There we go! My my, it took you long enough, didn't it?"

Isn't that just brilliant?! I love catching snippets of other people's own private humour. To be honest though, it wasn't exactly private, because after her small muttered rant, her husband turned to me and smiled with a look on his face which seemed to say, "Oh dear, what's she like!" What truly wonderful people.

And that, dear readers, was the entertainment for my flight. Well it was, until they went to sleep, that is. Lucky wrinkly people. But once again, here I am. Thousands of miles from the place I once called home, and faced with the enormity of the task to settle in once again. Oh dear. Here we go again...

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Hooray for the Nanny State! Kind of...

What ho old chaps! How are you all on this fine Thursday? That’s good to hear. And what is that I hear you asking? Am I in London? Did I arrive safely? Was my flight alright?

Well, how jolly kind of you to ask! After, well, let us call it a bearable flight (I seem to have developed an inability to sleep on a plane), I am indeed back in Blighty! Now, after living on nothing but scones, crumpets, and steaming mugs of PG Tips for the past eight days, I am beginning to feel my old British habits creeping back. I never really lost them, don’t you worry, but I am finding myself tutting much more than I have done recently. Yes, you did hear me correctly. I have been back in Britain for just over a week and I am already complaining about everything and anything.

I’m not too surprised, to be honest. We Brits are rather good at complaining. In fact, I would feel pretty damn confident in saying that we all enjoy having a good old splutter at the daily headlines, and this is exactly what I did today. Well, not quite exactly. I guess I’ll have to explain.

There I was, sitting with my bowl of Weetabix and my oversized mug of tea (milk and two sugars, if you wanted to know), and I happened to pick up a brochure for a large supermarket chain. I’m not sure I should publicly embarrass them on my blog, but lets just say their name sounds an awful lot like Besco. The first part I thought was fine; food and drinks faded into household products, household products faded into electronics, but the transition from electronics to sofas saw the pages get turned upside-down. I never knew that sofas were sold, let alone advertised, any time other than in the month before Christmas, when the country suddenly decides that after being lumbered with their sofa for a year, they must change it. Why? Because the telly said so. I had always presumed that with the vast lengths that DFS go to over their advertising campaigns in December, that that was the only window in our calendar that sofas could ever be sold. Clearly I was wrong. Fair enough. It happens so often now that I don’t take notice of it anymore.

But that wasn't the thing which bothered me, and I’m sure you all noticed the catalyst for my frustration: the flipped pages. After getting over my immediate annoyance of having to turn the brochure the other way up, I got thinking (brace yourselves). The only reason why they would have flipped the pages would be to present a clear difference between sofas and the rest of their products. Wow. How useful. I never knew that sofas are different from wireless keyboards! I’m so thankful that they put this in, because for the past four years I have been watching the telly whilst sitting on a rather lumpy hoover! Finally I know what I am doing wrong!

Seriously though, I think we as a nation deserve a little bit more credit than that. And on that note, if you are going to flip the pages, then you might as well put it somewhere where there is a distinct change, like, I don’t know, between food and electronics perhaps?! If any of you out there happen to work for Besco, think a minute. Your customer service hotline is hardly being bombarded by thousands of numpties who have covered their new Toshiba laptop in tea after mistaking it for a Hobnob, and if we can tell the difference between products there, why do you see a need to make a separation for furniture? The mind boggles. It really does.

I wouldn’t want to leave you all on a sour note, though, because being back in London has been lovely, and to be honest, I did mange to find one benefit to this nanny state of ours. It wasn’t much, but it was the most useful sight that I have ever seen. After landing at Heathrow airport and beginning the endless shuffle to baggage claim, there was a little yellow sign displaying some vital information. The sign warned that the upcoming toilets were the final set of facilities before border control. That, dear readers, is genius. Not only did I choose to relieve myself there an then (making waiting in the queues at the border much more bearable), but if any of you have ever travelled with children, these sings are vital. Pure gold. Because we all know that after offering the children the use of a toilet, they will inevitably reject them, but fifteen minutes later, in the most inconvenient place possible, they will innocently look up at you and state,"I need the toilet. Now." That is possibly one of the worst things that one could ever hear, and that is why Britain might have finally got something right with their obsession with health and safety, signs, and other such nonsense. The fact that they ended up not being the last set of toilets, though, is beside the point. At least they tried.