Crazy for You (or Not)

There are so many things to worry about when you spot an oddball in the street. There you are, out and about, selfishly enjoying your perfectly balanced mind when all of a sudden, you see a person who falls beyond your social-norm radar and you pretend with perfect aplomb that you haven’t even noticed.

Yes, some crazy person has wandered into your path with the utter effrontery to potentially make you look like a complete and utter freak in front of a world full of total strangers. You adopt a manifest interest in your thumbnail whilst exercising your proficiency in peripheral peeping.

Whereas normally you are able to juggle a plethora of thoughts, objections, possibilities and plans, as well as dealing effortlessly with any situation that comes your way, now you are totally incapable of producing any thought other than “PLEASE DO NOT ENGAGE”.

As you start to gain some semblance of control, panicked questions rush silently through your head:

  • Which direction is he going?
  • Why are his eyebrows above his hair?
  • Where is his other foot?
  • Why is he talking to his beard?
Perhaps you’re walking down the road. Perhaps you are on the train. Whatever you’re doing, you are are now fixated by this presence and as you execute your best “I-haven’t-even-noticed-you” face, you quietly, hysterically will him to move in the opposite direction or at least go and talk to somebody else.

And that’s when it happens. He engages. But it’s brow-moppingly not with you! Hooray! Someone else has signed up for a crash-course in How to appear polite while emitting “Please talk to someone else immediately” vibes.

Thank the Lord of Undeserved Luck! Not only have you escaped the wrath of three whole seconds of mild social discomfort, but you have been reminded what a weird and stupid world we live in. It’s good to remember that sometimes.

The problem is, sometimes you ignore the perfectly ordinary passer-by, lost in the street or in need of the kind of help you can actually afford, and you walk straight past them in an attempt at self-preservation, having many a time fallen victim to someone who asked you directions to Jupiter, and was not content with your limited knowledge of intergalactic geography, and who engaged you for several hours while you tried your best to be a good citizen.

There was a man I’d see around where I used to live who would wear bright yellow hearing protectors, and, regardless of weather, sunglasses and shorts. He carried a plastic bag in each hand with apparently nothing in them and would speak loudly at nobody, or everyone, I never figured out which.

These special beings have wandered beyond the realms of social acceptance to ruffle our  orderly feathers and embarrass the unsuspecting.

And what a pleasure it is when they talk to someone else!

When the others talk to others: j’aime


Help the Hairdresser

He doesn’t know what he’s doing. Please help him.

I am raising money for hairdressers.

Eighty-five percent of these blighted individuals have been wickedly robbed of many key abilities the rest of us take for granted. They’ve mistakenly stumbled onto the one career path to which they’re hopelessly unsuited, exerting their cutting power on a petrified, innocent public.

We need to get them out of the salon and into other jobs, lest we remain shockingly coiffed for all eternity.

A recent study showed that whilst most hairdressers have mastered the trick of looking flamboyantly skilled and ever-understanding, most are actually blind and deaf. The rest are clinically insane, driven to their madness by the millions of snippets of exiled hairs that torture every moment of their waking existence. Continue reading


Public Reading

Don’t get upset, this is my own shoulder I’m reading over. Not an easy feat.

You know those annoying people who read over your shoulder on the metro or the bus?

Well, hello there, nice to meet you. That’s me.

I love to read what you’re reading, regardless of what it is. Newspaper, novel, text message, it really doesn’t matter. It’s always the most thoroughly interesting thing I have ever seen.

Sometimes I realise I had the exact same paper as you five minutes ago, Continue reading


To a T

How to make me a cup of tea:
  1. Think about how much you love me :) Hmmm, that’s nice, isn’t it? (I love you too.) If you have never met me, you probably won’t need to be making me a cup of tea at this point, so please don’t fret about loving me, this is just for future reference.
  2. Boil water. Make sure it is actually boiled and not just showing off.
  3. Pour it from a great height onto a teabag. You must endure Continue reading

Stupid. Full Stop.

This image has not been tampered with.

There is a little thing in France that every French person knows and accepts but which blows the mind of every foreigner here, should they stay long enough to discover it. It is something which has perplexed me unfailingly since the first time I sat down at a French computer.

As I started to type I noticed that the words were coming out rather unspellingly. I marvelled briefly at the possibility that Continue reading


Doggy Bag

Thank you to the lovely lady who let a complete stranger (me) photograph her dog repeatedly in the street.

When I first came to France eight years ago, there were many things which confused and alarmed me, but nothing so much as an official sticker I read on the window of the bus one day.

It said:

“Un animal domestique? Oui! S’il est petit et dans un sac.”

Which, translated, is basically,

“Want to bring your pet on the bus? Sure! As long as he’s small and in a bag.”

WTF?!

What sort of bag? A plastic one? A holdall? Do I zip it up? What does ‘small’ mean? Could one really consider putting Rover in a rucksack? Continue reading


Handshake Heart Break

I have often derided the bad handshake with friends, and not once has anyone said it didn’t totally bum them out. It is universally deplored. No one likes a floppy finger shimmy and no one believes the more pain, the better.

The most common of these two evils has to be the classic wet fish. Those people who just waggle their wrist in your general direction. It’s like shaking hands with a tea towel.
Continue reading


Umbrella Dilemma

The humble umbrella is ruled by a special Sod’s law. I care for the concept, but I can’t whole-heartedly back the beleaguered brolly.

There are certainly elegant specimens out there, but your average cheap umbrella will wrestle with you pathetically in public ’til it just gives up and dies, it’s bony body mangled and your pride less than intact. Even in death it makes you feel like you’re the loser. And it won’t happen to you just once.

The prolonged pain of this repetitive struggle will cause you to become slowly and stupidly angry until one day when it starts to rain, you will turn your head to the heavens and start wailing at the sky. No doubt, people will look at you and judge. Continue reading


Cotton Buddy

 

The warning on a box of cotton buds has to be the most universally ignored caution ever printed on any product. Not only do we disregard it, but we buy the product to do exactly what it tells us not to. “Never insert a cotton bud into the inner ear or nose.”

Yeah, whatever. They know that’s the only reason we buy them. It’s like selling a hamburger with a warning not to insert it into your mouth. “Could cause fatness and indescribable bliss.” Continue reading


Help! I’m Through to Automated Help.

When I was last in England, I was checking train times via the old-fashioned landline telephone (or ‘phone’ as Wikipedia helpfully indicates it is colloquially called), when I accidentally went through to an automated service. I’m sorry to say, it incited me to inexplicable impatience, downright disbelief and an overwhelming desire to chuck the ‘phone’ at my own head.

The principal problems I have with these services are:

  • They are not designed to work with humans (this is counter-effective since humans, as far as I know, are the only ones to use them).
  • They insult the intelligence of those with even the teeniest amount.

But before I continue, let me share with you the ‘conversation’ I had with ‘someone’ at National Rail in the UK: Continue reading


Happy New Year

Someone once told me that for them, the beginning of the year felt like standing at the foot of a huge mountain looking up; a scary, insurmountable obstacle, that filled them with fear and apprehension. (If that person is you, maybe don’t carry on, I’m about to get optimistic about your most dreaded time of year.) For me, it is quite the opposite. I feel I am at the top, ready to slide down on a mat of perfect sliding congruousness with the surface of said mountain. Weeeeeeeee!

I would like to start, appropriately, with the 1st of January, which every year has to be one of my favourite days for the following reasons: Continue reading


Milky Way

Now, being an English person living in France, I am used to hearing the opinion that every culinary output from the British Isles is an abominable, slap-dash mish-mash of incompetently scrambled together leftovers of both sweet and savoury sort.

So imagine my delight when one day a student uttered the most welcome words I had ever heard a Frenchy bestow upon an edible item from England. Continue reading


Spoonism

I have a friend who’s spoonist. I’m not sure how I feel. I don’t share her opinions, but I’ve made her the odd meal. Does that implicate me in her prejudicial ways? I’m certain she’s not racist and I know she likes the gays. But I don’t want the world to think that I think it’s OK, though she made a simple argument of it the other day. She said she likes the small ones, not the big ones in the drawer (it’s weird, I know she’s got big ones, I think I counted four). Continue reading


Need for Speed

My name is Denise (hello) and I like to go fast.

I am not in a rush.

I am not stressed.

I’m not trying to save time.

If I am walking for the sake of walking, I do not go fast. But if I am on my way somewhere, I like to go fast and in long, cadenced steps.

Don’t tut when I run for the metro. Don’t ask me why I’m out of breath. It’s not that difficult to understand. Mr Bugatti-Veyron does not drive the fastest car in the world because he’s in a hurry. He just likes to go fast (and has lots of money and possible erection problems (joke, Mr Bugatti!! Please can I have a lift to the the shops?)). Continue reading


Don’t Fear the Escalator

The first escalator came into use at Coney Island, New York in 1896. That was a long time ago, right? Most people living on Earth now had not even been conceived.

Today, the number of escalators is rising steadily, enabling us too to rise steadily without the ordeal of negotiating stairs with our legs and feet.

But I’m sure you would agree that what was once a marvel of modern machinery is now a mere fleck on the face of our subsequent achievements. The escalator has long been taken for granted; its once amazing triumph of getting us from one floor to another in a staggering, ooh, three quarters of the time, is now no more impressive than your dad wearing jeans. Continue reading


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