Life is so peculiar

May 19, 2010

It doesn’t pay to complain. Really, you can’t stay home and brood. So, before we get to the nitty gritty let’s just enjoy a peaceful and calming break.

Are you feeling mellow? Life is peculiar isn’t it? Sometime, whilst I was in Manchester, between May the 4th and May the 9th, my car was stolen. Here’s the  story.

As much as I am an idiot I am also, when this comes to that, relatively capable. And so on discovering the theft of my car I tried to do everything in the right order. First, I phoned the council. (A few years ago I had been visiting my sister in America. I came back to find a new road and no car. I phoned the council. They told me that my car could have been moved and I should have a look around nearby first. Sure enough, I found it.) This time, I’d come back from Manchester to find nice new yellow lines. So, I called, and was told that my car hadn’t been moved. I walked around a bit anyway. I hadn’t used my car for over a week and I wanted to check I hadn’t just parked it somewhere unusual. I walked around for an hour. I was convinced I would find it.

I didn’t. It had gone.

Next, the police. They got me to phone some search company. No sign on it’s database, so back to the police, and then to my insurance company.

This was all a week last Monday. Yesterday I was walking to one of my local cafes when I saw this.

My car.

I felt sick.

A part of me was convinced I would at some point see it. I don’t know why. It may be part of being a writer that leads to all sorts of possibilities racing through my head. So seeing it was the most natural thing in the world. Also the scariest.

What to do? I couldn’t even bring myself to go near it at first. What if I saw someone try and get into it? What if it was madly and sadly disfigured and smashed?

And also… what if I was mad? What if I had parked it there? But then I knew I hadn’t. I hadn’t, had I? What? It’s just… It was all too much. I felt sad, happy, worried, sick; as traumatised as a naseous Woody Allen. What would the police think? And my insurers? If I was mad and I had parked it there, would I go to prison? Would I be fined for wasting police time? Would the insurers sue me?

So, of course, after a few days of standing in the street and just looking, months of feeling ill, years of being banged up, I walked over to the car.

There was a leaflet under the windscreen wiper, battered by the weather. It had been there since early May.

I’m not mad. The Council had moved my car. Or their sub-contractors had. It seems they just don’t choose to tell you.

Thank you to the police and Tesco Insurance for being so understanding about this; for not locking me up, and for leaving my no claims bonus in place.

Lewisham Council? No thanks to you.

And, to make sense of Life is So Peculiar… I have tried to complain. It didn’t pay.  I called the council back. I was passed from person to person, no one quite knowing how to handle my call. Eventually I was told that I could speak to some sort of inspector. I was handed over to him and then… I was transfered to an answering machine. I left my name and number. No one has called back.

I’m putting this down to one of those things and I am not going to chase it. I just don’t have the… Oh, let’s end on another philosophical favourite.


Not a lot

January 25, 2009


I’ve been quiet on the blog scene for the last few days. I’ve been thrown into a state of confusion by the appearance of the Paul Daniels blog. When Paul Daniels starts a blog it is time for me to pause and ask “why am I doing it?” I’ve paused and I haven’t come up with an answer. So, for now, I’ll carry on.

It’s The Guardian’s fault. Last week they made me mad by telling me I had to read 1000 books of their choosing. Well, I’m not going to. And now they mess with my mind by pointing out Paul’s blog.  Paul is in Barbados, bumping into Russ Abbott and Cilla Black and Stuart Hall. I couldn’t look back from this point. I never knew Barbados was such a weird place. It’s like a lost episode of Lost– you crash land in paradise and are met by a group of varieticians. That isn’t a word, but I’d like it to be. Cilla Black fixes you up with Stuart Hall who dresses you up in a polar bear outfit and makes you run around obstacles then Paul Daniels makes you disappear and Russ Abbott turns up as Barratt Holmes and tries to solve the whole puzzle. Then there’s a writers’ strike, but blogger Paul takes over and writes a happy ending where they all go to a charity golf dinner where the Moody Blues are playing. This last part is true. As someone might say… only in Barbados.

In one of Paul’s posts he jumps to the defence of Nazi-dressing idiot Prince Harry over his “paki” remark. Paul points out that “paki” is just an abbreviation of Pakistani, and that he wouldn’t be offended if someone called him a “Brit”. Well, it’s a sort of an argument. But I’m sure Paul Daniels is an intelligent man and I’m sure he is only too aware of how our language shifts and reshapes. Sometimes the meaning of a word is not what that word means. I bet he’s being willfully disingenuous. Next he’ll be telling us he’s got lots of gay friends, and then insisting he means cheerful.

Oh, and when I call Prince Harry an idiot, he should take that as a compliment.

I’ve met Paul Daniels twice. The first time was on Going Live! or Live and Kicking, I can’t remember which. I stood about two feet away from him in BBC TV Centre’s Studio 7 whilst, off camera, and for my own amazement and entertainment, he did some close-up magic with a pack of cards. I liked it. A lot.

The second time was in a Liverpool Hotel’s breakfast bar. I was with my double-act other half, Trev; we were going to be on This Morning with Richard and Judy later (possibly the appearance where I jumped off the weather map with Fred but failed to make it to Ireland, bailing out into the Irish Sea). Paul was there because the QE2 was in town and he was entertaining on it. He came down to breakfast with his wife Debbie, and a big pair of binoculars. He strolled over, said hello, and showed us his binoculars. It’s that odd celebrity thing where you don’t know people but there seems to be some kind of “we’re all in this together” attitude, and anyhows, it’s nice if people say hello. He told us how much his binoculars were, where he’d got them from… I think he came over with the attitude that all men like binoculars, and I think he’s likely to be right. He could have brought a torch over, or a drill, or a compass and we’d have happily looked. He spoke so quietly we had no choice but to stare right into his face; half hearing, half lip-reading. I think this may be the secret of magic. Get your (there’ll be a special word for this, but I don’t know it)… get your… victim? Mug?… to look exactly where you want them to look. Then do your magic. And sure enough, when Paul left, our wallets had gone. Only joking Paul.

Paul Daniels is like a short Bing Crosby. I say that having no clue how short Paul is and having no clue how tall Bing is. So, let’s try again. Paul Daniels is like Bing Crosby. He’s got the same look, the same ears. I’d like to see Paul with a pipe. I’d like to see Peter Morgan, writer of Frost/Nixon and other true-life adventures, write a film called Being Bing. Paul Daniels would play Bing; there’d be the golf, the crooning, the pipe smoking, and the darker corners of Bing’s life where he was perhaps not the greatest parent. Paul would make a great Bing, and towards the end of the story he would be joined by Michael Sheen as David Bowie (the Jean Genie) for a moving rendition of Little Drummer Boy.