Phone sex

As you probably know, I volunteer on a helpline once a month.  Tonight, I got a call almost as soon as I signed in; it had been a while since I had a proper call so I was quite excited!

ME: Hello, this is the helpline, how can I help you?

LADY: Er, hello, I was looking for the helpline.

ME: This is the helpline, how can I help?

LADY: Um, you’re a man, aren’t you?

ME: Yes.  Yes, I am.

LADY: Oh.  I was hoping to talk to a woman.

ME: Oh, I’m sorry, there’s only me here tonight.  Are you sure I can’t help?

LADY: Are there no women available?

ME: I’m afraid not, you’ve had the most amazing bad luck – it’s really quite unusual to find a man on here.  Can I help at all?

LADY: Er, no, I’d rather speak to a lady.

ME: No problem, just call this number again tomorrow and it will almost certainly be a lady like yourself who answers.

LADY:  Oh.  OK.  Sorry.  And thank you.

ME: You’re very welcome.  I hope they can help you tomorrow.

LADY: It’s nothing personal, I just wanted to speak to another lady.

ME: That’s perfectly all right.  Good night.

LADY: Sorry.

This has never happened before – that someone calls who is uncertain about speaking to a man.

The Lovely Melanie says she probably had a question about “front bottoms” and that’s why she didn’t want to speak to me.

(I’ve purposefully not mentioned the helpline I work on to give a bit of confidentiality, but it’s not hard to discover if you search this site)

Hip-hip Thyroid!

Remember last week I got diagnosed with an under active thyroid?  Yeah, well, that’s all going pretty well at the moment.  I started the course of  thyroxine tablets the same day, and since then haven’t looked back. 🙂

No doubt about it, I’m feeling happier, more energetic and just…chirpier, y’know?  It’s hard say for sure about the weight loss effects and the improved memory, but I’ve definitely been able to tell the difference this week in terms of overall mood and energy levels – and that’s despite being tired from being out late and getting rather drunk at the weekend (and then having to help out at Amber’s friends’ birthday party, although that went far better than expected – particularly from Amber’s point of view).

I’ve even finally started reading Steven Pinker‘s epic tome, The Better Angels Of Our Nature, which I bought last year.  Previously I kept putting it off because it’s BIG; I’ve read one of his books before and it was HARD (amazing, but hard), and also I had a queue of smaller, easier-sounding books.

The good news is that so far it’s both fascinating and entertaining.

The art of bad translation

My current job, checking international hotel information and facilities, is fairly mundane.  But every now and again I stumble across a hotel that takes the art of mistranslation to a new level.

So far this week (and bear in mind that it’s still only Wednesday) I’ve had a hotel in Riyadh tempting guests with the slogan Wet yourself in our pool!, and another in Ecuador that offers a Partying goatee Service.

Answers on a postcard, please.


Foxes, we discovered this morning, are very fond of chickens.  A little bit too fond, in fact.

It was an ordinary morning – the girls were playing Harry Potter on the computer, the chickens were in the garden, I’d just stepped out of the shower – when there came a strange noise.  Initially, I thought it was coming from Harry Potter, but then I realized the chickens were making a big fuss about something.

Chickens like to make a big noisy fuss about nothing; it’s one of their endearing qualities – sometimes they just do get incredibly excited about nothing.

Then again, I thought, it might be a squirrel or a cat, so I trotted to the bathroom and threw open the window.

foxA large red fox looked guiltily up at me.  It was all a bit awkward because in his jaws he had a frantically flapping chicken.  He was quite obviously trying to eat Chicken Licken, who was doing her chicken best not to be eaten.

OI!!!!!!!!!! I roared at him and raced downstairs, expecting to find one nonchalant fox and one dead Licken.

Instead, I found no fox and three frantic chickens all desperate to get into the house.  I opened the door and checked for fox.  No fox.  I picked up Licken and put her back outside, Lily pushed her way in and Dave had his head through the narrow gap.  I picked up Lily, put her outside and closed the door.

There were feathers all over the place but no blood.  Licken was frightened but not obviously harmed.  And there was still no sign of the fox.


“You need to get the chickens back in their coop, a fox just tried to eat Licken.”

Millie bursts into tears, Amber starts to put her boots on.

“I don’t want to – what if the fox comes back?” says Millie.

“I’m half naked,” I tell her.  “While I quickly get dressed you need to get the chickens safely back in their coop and make sure the fox doesn’t return.”

“What?” says Amber.

“If the fox comes back you need to run at him and shout as loud as you can – scare him away.  I’m going to quickly go and get dressed.”

Amber nods and puts her boots on.

“Can’t you come out with us?” whimpers Millie.

“No, I need to get dressed first.  Look, get your boots on now, quickly!”

“Is Lily all right?” asks Millie.

“Yes, but you need to get out there now and make sure.”

“What if she isn’t all right?” asked Millie.

“That’s what you need to make sure – and keep the fox away.”


“Put your boots on and help the chickens,” I say, rather more loudly than necessary.

Amber opens the door.  A chicken tries to get indoors, closely followed by two other chickens.

“They’re trying to get in!” Millie rather unnecessarily points out.

“You need to get out,” I reply, emphasizing the “you” and the “out”, before closing the door behind them and nearly decapitating a hysterical hen.  The chickens are throwing themselves at the window trying to get indoors and Millie is in tears again – “They won’t move!”

“Look,” I say, “just keep an eye on them while I get dressed.”

Amber gets some chickenfeed to tempt them with.

Ten minutes later and we’ve somehow managed to get all three chickens back inside their coop at the same time and they have calmed down a little.  Licken has lost a lot of feathers, but there’s no blood or obvious injuries.

Millie has finally calmed down, and both girls talk about nothing else all the way to school.

We’ve all learned some valuable lessons: that foxes are easily scared by half-naked bald men shouting OI!!! at them from a bathroom window, but also that Amber is surprisingly cool in a crisis. 🙂

Crouch End and Krautrock

London’s Crouch End isn’t somewhere I’ve visited before, and after last night’s trip there I can see why – it felt right out in the boondocks, especially for this South London boy.

I went out with friends from work to see one of them strut her standup comedy stuff Downstairs at the King’s Head.  Once we eventually got there and thawed out (it’s cold out at the moment!) we had a fantastic time.  It was a try-out night, so none of the comics were on for longer than five minutes, and there were eight of them in the first half, so if one wasn’t to your taste there’d be another along in a minute (or four).

Henning Wehn

And remarkably, one of my little brother’s favourite comedians, Henning Wehn, was the last act on.  Which was nice.

I suspect you’re paying rather more than £4 to see him next weekend, Rich. 😉

Out of the 13 comics on that night, our friend was slap-bang in the middle in terms of quality – she’s genuinely good, but was up against some stiff competition. Fortunately, she also wrote Miranda Hart’s Miranda Hart’s unauthorised biography, so at least she has something to fall back on if either the career at Expedia or the comedy don’t work out!

My favourite comic of the evening was a gentleman of advancing years called David James.  His quiet, delicately-paced delivery reminded me of Stewart Lee and was just as funny – watch out, Lee!

I doubt there’ll be an update this weekend – Saturday night I’m going to Club Motorik, a club night in Brixton dedicated to all things Krautrock, the amazing experimental German music of the early-to-mid ’70s..

It’s probably going to get messy.  But I’ve been warned not to let it get too messy because Sunday afternoon is Amber’s birthday party for her schoolfriends.  I bet none of the other boys have to be up, let alone looking (and smelling) respectable the next day.

There’s a tug-of-war going on in my head already between having BIG fun Saturday night and having BIG not-fun the next day helping with the party.

Let’s hope a sensible(-ish) medium can be reached between the two…

A welcome return

Millie and Amber have been away since Saturday evening: four whole days; four days of quiet, simplicity and relaxation.  But at the end of those four halcyon days we’re immensely glad to have them back. 🙂

Racing home from work this evening, in an attempt to try and catch them before they went to sleep, I had visions of me sweeping in the front door and being mobbed by two small people screaming “Daddy!  Daddy!  We missed you!  Daddy’s home, yay!

Welcome home. We missed you, signpostBut then I remembered that real life is seldom quite so Hollywood.  Most likely they’d be half-asleep on the sofa and would each lean over to look around me at the TV as I tried to hug them and ask about their adventures at Grandma and Granddad’s. 😦

Imagine my wonderful surprise, then, when the Doob – already in bed for storytime – gave me a big smile, a hug and a kiss, and we both laughed talking about what we’d been up to while she was away.

Then Millie (always the more affectionate one) jumped into my lap, showed me all the things they’d made whilst away, cracked a joke about me being a bit fat, and helped me to bleed the radiator in her room!

Sometimes – just sometimes – real life can be a little bit Hollywood. 🙂