Saturday, 30 January 2010
Coming from a home town where street drinking is somewhat of an ancient tradition I rather warmed to this week's column...
(Article by Michael Holden)
No matter what our circumstances, we are always alert to the notion that someone might be encroaching on them. I was in the library, sharing a table with two men who use the place to keep warm, when they began talking about a group of eastern European men whose attempts to use the facility for similar purposes had begun to cause friction with the indigenous community of no fixed abode.
Man 1 (looking across at the other table) "They're drinking again."
Man 2 (following his gaze but less intently) "Oh, aye."
Man 1 "They're gonna get us all kicked out."
Man 2 "You reckon?"
Man 1 "They don't take care of themselves. I see 'em on the streets; they'll drink till one of them falls over. Then they have to go to hospital. Then the others'll come and visit. You know what happens then?"
Man 2 "What?"
Man 1 "That stuff they have on the wards, the MRSA handwash? They nick that and drink it."
Man 2 "That'll fuck you up."
Man 1 "Cranial bleeding, haemorrhage. That said, it's not too different from your white cider; that's never been near an apple, you know that?"
Man 2 (sensing he was being chastised) "Yeah, I am aware of all that."
Man 1 "So that's the cycle: hospital, handwash, back into hospital again. And who do you think's paying for it?"
Man 2 (smiling) "When did you last pay any taxes?"
Man 1 (ignoring that inquiry and returning to his theme) "They're gonna get us all kicked out if they're not careful."
Saturday, 23 January 2010
(article by Michael Holden)
Struggling for ways to kill time in cold weather, I went to the pictures in the middle of the day, alone. Judging by the composition of the crowd this was a reasonably popular option – there were about a dozen people there, mostly alone, but there was a pair of blokes in front of me who spoke loudly to one another during the time between when the film was advertised to start and when it actually began.
Man 1 (With a mixture of pride and disbelief) "I hadn't been to the supermarket in over a year."
Man 2 (admiringly) "What, she goes? "
Man 1 "Yeah, she goes and I pay for it."
Man 2 "Fair enough."
Man 1 "Yeah, but I felt a bit guilty. I mean, it's not hard. I actually quite like supermarkets, if they're not too busy. So I said I'd go with her, which turned out to be a mistake."
Man 2 "How so?"
Man 1 "Well I went in quite optimistic thinking, here I am, taking part in something – doing my bit and all the rest of it. But it all went sour when I started bringing stuff to the trolley."
Man 2 (anxious) "Like what, what do you mean?"
Man 1 "Oh, it's all the wrong mushrooms and 'get the ones that are on offer'. I like to roam free in these places, but she has a whole system of how you go about it. You start roaming, going off the map and the whole thing breaks down. There's no scope for innovation. It's a proper regime."
Man 2 "So what happened?"
Man 1 "Well I shut up, didn't I?"
Man 2 "You going back?"
Man 1 "No, we had it right the first time. You're better off alone."
Friday, 22 January 2010
Wednesday, 20 January 2010
Tuesday, 19 January 2010
Saturday, 16 January 2010
Wondering if there's a phrase for 'middle class fear of builders'? - thought I'd just stoke up the prejudice a little bit more for good measure...
(Article by Michael Holden)
As a perennial drinker I notice people who come only into the pub in
cold weather. They look around as though the dynamics of buying booze
might have changed since they last endorsed such a venue, relax when
everything appears to be the same, and then pull justifiably shocked
faces when confronted with the price. In groups, they talk about the
weather, wondering out loud if we talk about it too much.
Occasionally, a dialogue breaks out from the droning as it did with
two men who sat as close as possible to the fire, which, despite its
glow, gives out no warmth.
Man 1 I’ve still no windows
Man 2 So what have you got?
Man 1 Just boards.
Man 2 How’s that then?
Man 1 Cold.
Man 2 But you live there ok?
Man 1 I stay in the attic
Man 2 How are the builders?
Man 1 Unbelievably thick. It reminded me why I gave up doing all that
for a living. You tell ‘em they’re doing something wrong and they just
sort of tilt their head to one side and look at you. Like when you’ve
told off a dog.
Man 1 That must drive you mad.
Man 2 I don’t let it mostly. I hide up in the attic, then come
downstairs and have a go at them.
Man 1 Like a cross between Anne Frank and Basil Fawltey!
Man 2 It’s no joke.
Man 1. No. I guess not.
Thursday, 14 January 2010
Wednesday, 13 January 2010
Saturday, 9 January 2010
When I sent this in to the newspaper I'd accidentally added an extra asterisk to the word 'wanker' sprayed on the car, which was noticed and duly corrected - rather ironic for the Grauniad I thought...
world's going down the pan if vandals can't spell & punctuate if you ask me!
(Article by Michael Holden)
I was on a train, sat in front of a group of men who spent most of the
journey talking about cars. As this is a subject about which I know
little I didn’t pay too much attention but I couldn’t help but tune in
when one of them made an unusual comparison.
Man 1 (dismayed) “The whole car smelled like trees.”
Man 2 (sombre-as though he had suffered the same nightmare at some
Man 1 “Aye, someone had smashed the rear window and the damp had
gotten in. It smelled like my Audi.”
Man 2 “The one you got off your cousin?”
Man 1 (with bitterness) “Yeah, that one.”
Man 2 “How is he?”
Man 1 “Doing well for him self. You have to watch him with money
though. That Audi wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. And he’s pulled
some sort of stunt with his mortgage, God knows how, but he’s ended up
with a four-bedroom place.”
Man 2 “Whereabouts?”
Man 1 “Just around the corner from where he was. It’s still dodgy
though. For all his rooms he’s no garage. Someone had the wheels off
his car, they had the radio.”
Man 2 “What did he do?”
Man 1 “Set it on fire for the insurance. He’s got the new one now.”
Man 2 “What’s it like?”
Pretty smart, but it’s got to him though, the money. I went round to
look at the car and when I got to the house he asked me to take my
Silence followed, heavy with judgment, as though such protocols were
sub human, and best not dignified with more discussion.
Tuesday, 5 January 2010
There was a girl on my train this morning who spoke very loudly with no discernible spaces between her words - this is highly unpleasant @ 7.30 in the morning I discovered - it's lucky I'm an illustrator rather than a murderer by trade...
Monday, 4 January 2010
Sunday, 3 January 2010
Back on it after a brief hiatus over Christmas (while the Guide wrote lists & the words 'David Tennant' an awful lot of times)
(article by Michael Holden)
I've written before about the Chinese takeaway that has its own microclimate. Suffice to say that at this time of year things are so cold there that to see two other people inside, smiling – and showing no visible signs of hypothermia – seemed reassuring. Perhaps they've finally warmed the place up, I thought, as I opened the door. But as the familiar blend of sub-zero air and the sound and scent of boiling oil embraced me I could see the other customers: a couple in their 60s were drunk and in a warm relationship and couldn't care less about the weather.
Woman (holding man for support) "Where's the food?"
Man (looking down at her affectionately) "Won't be long."
Woman "What we ordered?"
Man "Plenty of everything."
Woman "Are we having prawns?"
Woman (distraught) "Why!"
Man "You never asked for none."
Woman (lurching toward the counter) "I gotta get some!"
Man (firmly but not angrily) "You'll slow everything down!"
Woman (to the owner) "Give us some of them prawns."
Owner "What prawns?"
Woman "Where's the menu?"
Man (sensing the futility of this) "Just give us some chilli salt prawns, would you?"
Woman "That's them!"
Owner "Your food is ready."
Man "Yeah well, we'll wait for the prawns." The woman looked at him as though he was heading into the sea to catch them himself, and he looked back as though he would gladly undertake such an errand, should she require it.