Wednesday, 22 September 2010
However the band JLS, have taken merchandise to a whole new level in my eyes. Their management have decided that fans are no longer happy with their face on a calculator, pencil case, or a sticker album. No, sticker albums for kids are outdated; they’ve decided they want their face on contraceptives. In effect, JLS are telling kids just stick it anywhere- just don’t swap them afterwards, even for a shiny. Still, At least they have standards, I remember Noel Edmunds Swap shop. He’d swap anything.
Part of me wonders if when opening the condom, a tune plays like when you open a birthday card, or if they’re saving that trick for when they release a new range of umbrella’s next month. All this makes me look back on my childhood quite gladly. Glad that the Chuckle Brothers were never afforded the opportunity of fronting a safe-sex campaign to distract me from my Italia 90 sticker books and pogs.
Monday, 20 September 2010
I opted to get the coach to London, I was seduced by the cheap ticket. Five minutes into the journey, the lady in front decided to recline her seat back, and as a result, it soon felt that I was performing dentistry. Her molar’s were in a poor state of repair, which I put down to box of Jaffa Cakes she decided not to share.
People’s lack of courtesy on Public Transport is galling sometimes. I’m not bitter that the woman kept the Jaffa Cakes to herself; it was the fact that I had to see her eat them upside down, and listen to an orchestra of chewing and chomping. I’ve had quieter and cleaner colonic irrigations than the horror show she performed getting through that box of Jaffa Cakes. I feel that if it’s not my eyes being scarred by the sight of atrocities, it’s my ears getting fingered by strangers with their rubbish singing. Thirty years ago, I might be wrong, it would be considered normal practice to walk around the streets with a jar of Chloroform. It was handy to put to sleep anyone that might be considered a nuisance. Nowadays using Chloroform is frowned upon, so I have to listen to people singing like Celine Dion, but Celine Dion being chased through the woods by an angry bear.
Tuesday, 3 August 2010
That was never the case in Woolworths. It blended haberdashery with garden strimmers seamlessly, while obliging a receipt with each purchase. I think the trouble with Wollies and its untimely demise, was the size of its stores. Vagabonds could hide just about anywhere in its stores, and unless the security guards were hide and seek experts (which often they weren’t), you’re going to be able to steal ping-pong tables left, right and centre. Further chaos staff had to contend with would be controlling the hoards of tramps pissing over flumps in the pick and mix; all this while trying to help pensioners find Celene Dion’s Greatest Hits on cassette in the bargain bin.
Argos seems to struck the balance right. Having nothing for people to touch, and then laminating the catalogues in case someone does decide to eject piss over them. However, sadly for me, Argos don’t sell Toblerone, and nor did the market.
Tuesday, 27 July 2010
It’s been eight months since my once trusted printer stopped working, and I just haven’t had the heart to get rid of it. For while the power light still flickers, it makes me feel like I’m performing euthanasia, confining my ailing printer to the landfill. I have been patient with my printer, despite the fact it often served as much purpose as my neighbours dog, Dudley. Dudley was a morbidly obese spaniel, which just sat in the corner not doing anything for months; then when you tried to get his bowels moving, what often came out was the wrong colour.
While Dudley did have a lovely life, eating steak and chocolate fingers. My printer’s existence has been a life of middle-class domestic violence, with me threatening to throw domestic appliances at it, or leaving it to suffocate it in layers upon layers of dust. I feel that after this psychological torture, it deserves a better send off than being tossed into a skip. I have even prayed for a power surge to put it out of its misery, but I just can’t see past it being buried under the patio, as another one of those sordid mistakes.
Tuesday, 20 July 2010
While shredding my bills might seem logical to some, to me it seems a bit of a mental way to spend a Sunday afternoon. I see it as no different to breaking up stale digestive biscuits so no-one could tell if they were McVities or Asda’s Value range, in fear of being found out by the Cookie Monster. I could of course set fire to my old bills, but how sensible is that? I live on the fifth floor of a small flat, with a woman who only eats buttery alternatives. I’m guessing that should the fire get out of hand, saving the buttery woman from her demise might be tricky, especially if her skin is as greasy as the freshly basted Christmas turkey that I dream about… Where are my matches?
Friday, 16 July 2010
I’ve recently moved flats, and I’ve yet to see my new housemate. On the first night of them moving in, I tried to make as much noise as possible making my Spaghetti Bolognaise, to get their attention. Well, I cluttered a few pans. I think pretending that I was sacrificing the cow, and then impersonating the cow as it went through the mincer, might have overdone it a touch, and may well blemish any potential friendship forever. However, my conservative efforts were futile, even chewing loudly outside their door didn’t do anything. This person is clearly either deaf, scared, or anti-social.
Finishing my meal, I went to the fridge to get a jug of custard, and what I saw still bothers me today, nine days later. This person seems to survive on a diet of butter alternatives? The only two items on their shelf was a tub of ‘I can’t believe it’s not butter’ and Morrisons own buttery version, ‘Taste like butter’. Why would you own two tubs of alternative butter? Is it a collection? If it is, it’s the smallest type of collection you can have. But, seeing these two tubs of butter alternative made me nervous. Nervous about the safety of my butter, Lurpak.
For the next two days, I had started to take notice about how much butter was in my tub, and I feel there is definitely been some malpractice taking place in the fridge. I searched their cupboards, reckless I know, but the Lt. Columbo in me just needed to find out what happened to my daily source of monounsaturated fatty acids. What I saw next was equally puzzling, dozens of Ice trays, shaped with wine bottles. Frozen butter? My frozen butter? The case continues…
This is a script that I wrote for a recent BBC Writers Room Competition, Five Days in May. I was one of the runners-up. Hope you enjoy it.
By James O’Brien
1. EXT/INT. Sunderland town centre/ Geoffrey’s office (Intercut). Day.
Establishing shots of various parts of Sunderland. The beach, retail parks, housing estates, factories, pubs, The National Glass centre, Geoffrey in his office, on the phone, checking papers, and jotting notes.
Sunderland: Home to beautiful golden beaches, The National Glass museum, and roads to Newcastle. However, behind the scenes it appears that Sunderland has hidden depths. For each election since 1992, Sunderland has posted its votes quicker than any other constituency. This year they hope to smash their record time of forty-three minutes.
In charge for each of the elections in Sunderland is Electoral Officer, and Town Councillor, Geoffrey Malden. We’ll be following Geoffrey as he plans his attack on beating his own record time for the fifth time.
2. EXT/INT. Local College/Sports hall (Intercut). Day/afternoon.
Establishing shots of the Sports College, and the training facilities.
Geoffrey has recruited ten of the best young athletes that Sunderland has to offer, to get the ballot boxes from the station to the sports hall where the votes are to be counted on the 6th May. We met Darren, who has been recruited by Geoffrey to do the five minute dash across town.
Darren is warming up trackside. Replica ballot boxes and concrete slabs are later visible.
Geoffrey approached me after an athletics session, he was impressed at how quick I was, and asked me to help his team. It’s hard work, like. I’ve been running 5k each day with these replica ballot boxes, filled with some paving slabs from Geoff’s garden.
Darren picks up a ballot box, and runs off- barely able to carry the box.
3. INT. Marjorie’s House. Day.
Marjorie is in her kitchen making a pot of tea, and preparing a corned beef sandwich.
Geoffrey needs more than runners if he is to set a new record this year; he needs people to count the votes in the boxes. For that role, Geoffrey employs a team of over one hundred and ninety volunteers, many of them pensioners. We met Marjorie who is working on her second election.
Well, clearly Geoffrey runs a tight ship, the election preparation is a forty-two month training regime, and this election Geoffrey has raised the bar somewhat.
4. EXT. Geoffrey’s Garden. Early Morning/Dawn.
Geoffrey is wearing his gardening clothes, while mowing his lawn. Neighbours are twitching their curtains in their pyjamas, shaking their heads at his early morning garden maintenance.
Ay, well for this election I thought I needed to get my counters really prepared, so I’ve devised a training plan for these guys to breeze through the votes on May sixth.
5. EXT/INT. Martin’s House (Intercut). Early Morning/Dawn.
From afar, Geoffrey is stood outside Martin’s house early in the morning. He rings the doorbell. Geoffrey looks down the street: it’s deserted, except for a few stray cats. Martin eventually comes to the door; his dressing gown is open revealing his vest and Y-fronts.
Inside, Martin looks flustered as Geoffrey barges in and makes his way to the lounge to sit down. Martin follows, and takes a seat adjacent to Geoffrey; his dressing gown flaps open as he sits with his legs apart. With force, Geoffrey passes Martin the grass basket from his lawnmower.
Grass cuttings Martin, I want you to the count them.
Oh? I’m allergic? Can’t I just count paper?
No, Martin, you know my stance. If you can count blades of grass, you can count paper.
Martin gives a heavy sigh.
Geoffrey starts his stopwatch, and is stood over him with a clipboard. Martin begins counting.
One, two, three, four…
Seven thousand and nineteen. Done.
Geoffrey stops his stop-watch. Martin looks exhausted, and his carpet is covered in grass cuttings.
Okay. Martin, have you been practicing with that tub of rice I gave you? What have you done with it?
Alice cooked it.
Okay (beat) well if you’re slower again, we’ll have to replace you.
Geoffrey stands up to leave.
Enjoy your rice.
6. EXT/INT. Polling Station. Afternoon.
Establishing shots of the polling station. The streets are peppered with people going about their daily business. Geoffrey is vacuuming the boot of his car with a handy-vac.
After years of preparation, the 6th of May has arrived. Geoffrey has been up since the crack of dawn at the polling station and is confident about the day ahead.
Any concerns about today Geoffrey?
What about Martin? Is he counting tonight?
No, sadly he didn’t make the cut. Although I’ve given him another job- he’s flipping burgers.
Yes, in the past we’ve had to deal with people coming into vote at 9:45, it’s far too late to start voting- so we’re putting Martin out on the street with his burger van to distract any potential late voters. That way we can lock the doors on time, and get the boxes away quicker.
7. EXT. Burger Van Afternoon/evening
Martin is flipping burgers, and has attracted quite a long queue for food. Martin is burning the burgers to a cinder.
Am I doing this right? (beat) I’m vegetarian.
8. INT. Polling station. Evening.
The station is sparsely populated. Geoffrey is staring at his wristwatch, which clicks over to ten o’clock.
Right, close the doors!
Marjorie, who is stood by the door, bolts the door closed, smashing a voter’s face in the process.
Come on lads! Get these boxes shifted. It’s what you were born to do!
The athletes pick up their boxes and start running out of the back door to the sports hall.
9. EXT. Burger Van. Evening.
At the burger van, Martin is dealing with a large crowd of hungry unhappy customers.
These burgers are disgusting! They’re totally inedible! They’re black!
Well, I didn’t want to give anyone food poisoning.
I’m not eating this, I want a refund!
Martin nervously looks around for money.
Oh forget it!
Martin’s customers throw their unwanted burgers into the road in disgust, and walk away. Martin leaves his van and walks into the road picking up discarded burgers. One of the ballot box runners narrowly avoids tripping up over him. Shocked, Martin stands up after nearly making contact. He turns round and makes his way back to the van when the generator powering the van explodes. The force of the explosion throws Martin, several runners and pedestrians into a hedge. The ballot boxes break, and the voting papers are strewn across the road, some of which are on fire. Beefburgers are in flames on the road, gardens, cars, and on Martin and Darren’s body. Geoffrey, on his way to the sports hall, walks around the corner to see the destruction.
Geoffrey palms the camera away, and begins to pick up the votes from the floor. Martin is dazed, covered in burgers, and firmly planted in a hedge next to Darren.
What in god’s name happened here Martin?
Well I overcooked a few burgers, which made people really upset.
I’m really upset. So is Darren, look- his arm is hanging by a thread.
Fade to black:
10. INT. Geoffrey’s house. Day.
Geoffrey is sat in his armchair with a cup of tea, with a saucer containing a piece of shortbread, resting on the arm.
So you didn’t break the record you previously set.
No, but let’s try and focus on the positives here; Darren, while he was a talented runner would never have made an Olympic team. In two years he has a real shot at making the Paralympics, and a possibly winning a medal.
We’ve heard that he’s suing you?
I don’t want to go into that.
Back to work on Monday?
No, My work offered me a good redundancy package, so I’m thinking of using the money to do live abroad for a few years.
Well, Uganda has an election next year- now the kids out there can run really fast.
So. It’s finally happened. I’m talking to the Internet. How depressing. Although, not as depressing as talking to the drunk on the train, about his string of dates with a girl who works in his local butchers. His version of a meat feast almost turned me vegetarian; until I found out she grew her own. Now I’m left eating Farley’s rusks, and suffering from erectile dysfunction every time I visit Morrisons. Not that I want erections in the supermarket, that could cause me to make a rash decision when choosing between the lemon, or banana flavoured rusks.