Out and about
I went out at the weekend. Not just out, as in ‘over the door’, but out, as in ‘letting my hair down’, ‘painting the town red’ and ‘partying like it was 1999’.
Obviously that’s not to be taken literally as A) I am severely lacking in the hair department, B) I don’t want to end up with a suspended sentence for criminal damage and C) the unrestrained expenditure typical of 1999 would be folly in 2011’s fragile economic climate.
On Thursday I met up with former Lurgan Mail reporter Jonathan Bell. At least a handful of you will be keen to learn what the blundersome one is up to this weather.
I can reveal that he’s started cycling to his work at the Newtownabbey Times. It takes him 10 hours to get from Belfast to Newtownabbey every day. He’s assured me he’ll get faster when he actually gets a bike.
On Friday I went out for a meal at No 27 Talbot Street with my good lady wife and soon to be mother of my child. I’m forever fascinated by fancy restaurants. The tables have to be set just right, waiting staff must serve from a particular side and sometimes, but not always, they put your napkin onto your lap for you. Then, after all this fuss over dining etiquette, it’s customary when ordering your meal to abandon everything you were taught in primary school about grammar.
“I’ll have the steak please and my wife will have the chicken.” What’s with the ‘the’?. It makes it sound like they’ve only one helping of each type of meat. You wouldn’t walk in to a chippy and ask for “the pastie and the chips”. Well, you could, but you’d be told to “go and chase your granny round a lamppost”.
On Saturday I went to see Ulster punk’s finest The Outcasts in the Empire.
That afternoon I was telling my father-in-law about the gig and he voiced his disapproval. He isn’t a big fan of punk music. Amongst other things he associates punk gigs with the band being sick on stage. I wasn’t aware of this vomiting phenomenon, but I supposed it depends what they’ve had to eat before going on.
I can see why punks are often viewed in a bad light given the footage of Sex Pistols concerts from the late seventies with all that pogoing and spitting. But it’s not like that any more. None of the punk veterans have got the knees for bouncing about any more and neither have they got the ability to produce saliva in the same quantities.
On Sunday I relaxed. You can’t beat a lazy Sunday afternoon. Just ask the Small Faces. As I lazed - dazed and dozing - I considered the over-employed adage of modern times - ‘Staying in is the new going out’.
It clearly isn’t. If I was staying in I wouldn’t have had draft beer or an extensive choice of spirits. And despite my wife being an excellent cook, she’d admit herself that she couldn’t quite match the culinary expertise of No 27 Talbot Street. And finally if I was staying in I’d have had flipped my lid if I walked into the living room and observed 800 punks baying for fast chords and offensive choruses.
Not because of the impending racket or the ordeal of getting them to leave come bedtime, but for the simple reason that I didn’t fancy cleaning up all the sick I’d been warned about by my father-in-law.
Trials and calculations
I’ve been told a local off licence is running a competition where you get entered into a prize draw every time you buy a bottle of Buckfast. One of the prizes in the draw is a calculator. I’m struggling to see the benefit of a calculator to a hardened Buckie drinker. I suppose it could be used to keep track of the number of braincells that are being wiped out with every glug of Lurgan Champagne or maybe it could be used to work out if you’ve enough change left to buy another bottle.
Perhaps I’m being unfair on those who are partial to a swig of Buckfast. It’s not like I’ve never succumbed to a drop of the stuff myself.
From now on, when I see someone drinking Buckfast on a street corner, rather than cross the road in fear of my life, I’m going to walk up to them and say, “Excuse me, dear fellow - would you be able to tell me the square root of 7,934?”
Last week’s answer was: It is correct to say ‘I is’ when saying ‘I is the ninth letter of the alphabet’. Here’s a new teaser: Who played for both England and West Germany in the 1966 World Cup Final?