It’s….SHOWTIME

Golden Mickeys - Goofy

…or at least it was.

A couple of weeks ago was the birthday celebration of CWs mum.  As you would expect, celebrations were planned and guests invited.  Nothing unusual there…something to look forward to in fact.  However, about 6 weeks before the big day…we are over at CWs Mum and Dads place..enjoying a peaceful coffee and smoke outside when SW hits us with the following:

“So…what are we going to do for your Mums birthday?”

I immediately think “shared present..cool”.  This feeling of coolness is replaced quite rapidly when I realise what he means.

You see, and I guess you can be forgiven for not knowing, they have a family tradition of putting on a show for the Birthday Boy/Girl (delete as appropriate).  Not long after CW and I got together, I was invited to SWs birthday bonanza and paid witness to a rather large scale puppet show that everyone put on for SW, based around a childrens story called “Doctor Know-it-all”.

I was pretty blown away to tell the truth, a lot of work had clearly gone into the stage, puppets and everything.  Everyone had a great time and SW even got presented with a Dr Know-it-all T-Shirt as a memento.

I had been told of a previous show that was setup like the dressing room of an opera or stage show…and how all of the cast were interacting while they were getting ready for their parts.  Again, quite a big thing by all accounts.

Basically, this is a tradition that shows no sign of petering out as many do…and so, SW was asking what we intended to put on for CWs Mum.  Oh yes…that’s right..what WE intended.

Including me.

Me.

Now, some of you know me and others don’t…those that know me fairly well might be surprised to discover that I am incurably shy and incapable of any kind of public performance when all eyes are on me.  Others would call me a liar and point out the teams I have run and presentations I have delivered at work…and they would be right, well sort of.

Work = Money = Need.  So I have managed to overcome the deep rooted terror that strikes me whenever I have to do any kind of public speaking…when necessary to my daily needs.

This doesn’t equate to any kind of survival based necessity, so I was somewhat panicked.

It was decided that we would put on a TV Talent show, in a Britains Got Talent stylee.  We came up with ideas, met every weekend from the decision to the actual show and practised, practised, practised.

I essentially became the technician and critic for everyone and was very happy with this particular role….until the matter of judges was brought up and I was told, in no uncertain terms, that I would need to be a judge.  Not only that, I would be wearing a mask of HRH The Queen of England.  Nice one..I insisted that I would not speak..especially as my German is shocking and the audience would struggle to understand English.  I would, however, create some sound effects that would work for me.

So that was that…there were 3 judges (including me), 5 acts and a final big happy birthday song number.  We had intro music, an advert break, judges buzzers, incidental music, sound effects, props and about 25 guests to perform in front of.  SW went out and bought a professional amp and speakers setup…I made use of a laptop, a monitor and a mixer.

Quite the production really.

Part 1:

Judges:  SW as Darth Vader, Me as the Queen of England and the Brother as Dieter Bohlen (think Germanys answer to Simon Cowell…without the humour)

CW was a Michael Jackson dance impersonator who decided to use a broom to dance with and could barely get back up after almost performing some form of splits move

Ickle Sister 1 had a singing fish..and a lot of attitude (not many people have their fish spit water all over Darth Vader)

Advert break

Part 2:

Judges:  CW as Darth Vader, Me as the Queen of England and Ickle Sister 1 as Dieter Bohlen

Ickle Sister 2 played the Vuvuzela…spilled a load of stuff out of it…got angry and smashed the Vuvuzela into pieces…then ran away screaming when the Police sirens were blaring

The Brother was the ultimate performer who, when buzzed off for being…well…crap at Breakdancing, managed to get a 2nd chance and sang acapella for the Queen….she was not amused….nor was Ickle Sister 2, who was refused a 2nd chance.

SW was (and may now forever be) Moni..a drag act, who forgot to shave and got very excitable when reaching the end of her/his song

Final:

Everyone came together to sing a song made famous by a Frankfurt comedy duo.

For me, the highlight of the evening has to be watching CWs Grandad fistpumping and generally rocking out to the final song..that and being told by a very drunk The Brother, that I am a pussy for not drinking…this was when he noticed I hadn’t been drinking all night (at around 2am).

I will be putting it all together as a DVD gift for CWs Mum, so I will inevitably share some of it on here when it is finished Smile

Better late than never

Happy New Year
Now, before you go saying anything..I know, I know..I have been remiss.  I completely failed to take advantage of the perfect opportunity to start the year as I mean to go on.  Namely, I didn’t make the (seemingly) obligatory “Year In Review/Happy New Year” post.

I did plan on writing one…then got busy and put it off for a while..then work was crazy and I never seemed to get beyond the title and intro.  The thing is, 2009 is a year that, well, happened…or at least that’s how it seems from reading a lot of other blogs and talking to friends and family.  Most people I know couldn’t wait for it to end and get a new year started..on a personal level though I seem to have bucked the trend.

Sure, it had it’s difficulties..or at least what appeared to be difficulties to start with.  I was out of work early on, which was really strange as I found myself recovering from levels of stress that I didn’t even realise I had.  What should have been a stressful and worrying time for a Brit living in Germany whilst unemployed, was actually a lot of fun and very cathartic.  I mean, I met CW, had a decent break from working..reconnected with friends and family and then took a job that I didn’t expect anything from except to pay the bills.

As I sit here now, I am still with CW and loving every minute of it, am in regular contact with my kids and my job is going fantastically well.  Life.  Is.  Good.

So for me, 2009 could have carried on as long as it wanted, but equally I am looking forward to what 2010 will bring.

I had the best time over Christmas and New Year.  I went over to the UK just after Christmas Day to spend a week or so with all four of my kids.  It was fantastic..all four, together..I can’t describe how great it felt.  They are all growing up so fast..and growing into great people.

You know how when you meet someone new, and it seems to be heading in the right direction,  and you introduce this person to your family..normally on a relatively slow and steady basis?  Maybe you meet your Mum for a coffee with them..possibly Mum and Dad at the same time for a get together or meal?  It’s kind of exciting and nice and new all at the same time..but you get time to adjust and get used to them all.

Well, that’s how it happened with me and CWs family.  We went for a beer with her Dad, then coffee with her Mum..then I was invited to her Dads birthday, where I got to meet the other members of the family.  It was a slow, steady and very nice introduction.

Fast forward to December 2009 and CW has yet to meet any of my family..trips where one or some of them were planning a visit never quite happened.  We spend a nice Christmas together with her family and then head to Blighty…where she gets to meet my Dad first..at the airport for the 2(ish) hour drive to my parents place..where she then meets my Mum for an hour or so before all of the kids turn up along with the rest of my family.

That’s the same right??

Grin

How was your year and start of 2010?

Secret Ingredients

Swine Flu Anyone?
Photo by Ben Chau
CW hasn’t been very well and for once it isn’t something she got from me.  Oh, and for the dirty minded amongst you, I mean she has a cold…or swine flu, possibly..nothing else.

I have been trying to do the caring boyfriend bit…you know guys, trying to persuade her to have a sleep to feel better…thus leaving you free to do your thang without running around all day (j/k CW).  However, there appears to be another way, one guaranteed to make someone feel better, at least there is according to my youngest, Brandon.

Brandon: “Make her some hot chocolate Dad, that always makes you better”

Me: “I would son, but I don’t have any in the apartment”

Brandon: “So go to the shop and get some Dad”

Me: “I am in Germany and it is Sunday…all the shops are closed”

Brandon: “Were the shops open yesterday?”

Me: “Yes, all the shops are open on a Saturday”

Brandon: “So why didn’t you get some Hot Chocolate then?”

Me: “Umm, well, CW wasn’t ill yesterday, so I didn’t know I needed some”

Brandon: *sighs* “Well, you can make your own you know…and it will make her better”

Me: “I can?  Great, how do I do that then?”

Brandon: “Ok, you need to get some coffee, tea bags, milk, sugar, flour and chocolate”

Me: “Riiiight…and what do I have to do then?”

Brandon: “You put the coffee and the tea and the flour together with some sugar and mix it all together.  Then put milk in all the way to the top, and then put it in the microwave for 10 minutes”

Me: “10 minutes?  Really?  That seems like a long time”

Brandon: “Not really, put it in the microwave and count to 10”

Me: “10 seconds, gotcha..then what?”

Brandon: “You gotta stir it, then put more sugar in and stir it again and put some chocolate in”

Me: “Ok, anything else?”

Brandon: “No, she just needs to drink it and she will feel better”

Now, I have to say that I can’t recommend this particular homemade Hot Chocolate enough…as soon as I told CW what I was going to make her, she started feeling a little better…imagine how much better she would have felt if I had been able to make it before she fell asleep.

Still, good to know for the future….and something tells me that CW may not get sick for a while Wink

Anyone else got any interesting recipes from their kids?

Here with the kids

Well, I have been in the UK a week with the boys now, and I am having a great time.   The amazing British weather has lived up to its world wide reputation and been absolute garbage one day and perfect the next…with a smattering of crap interspersed…you know…just to keep you on your toes.

I am driving the worlds smallest car that my brother was good enough to loan me and it has taken us to Swimming Lessons, Football matches and Sundown Adventure Land.   Sundown is a great place, a theme park for the under 10’s, which means you aren’t worrying about bigger kids upsetting or hurting your little ‘uns.   That said, I think it is some form of Chav Mecca…everywhere you turn, you are confronted with shellsuit wearing, 1 year old kid with earing having, obese parents that swear enough to offend a fleet of sailors (and trust me, I swear…a lot, so I know of what I speak).   All of them bowing down to the god of Burberry, ice cream and sweat.   It seriously makes me miss Frankfurt when I am surrounded by this.   Anyway, I wasn’t there to pray with the Chavs..I was there to have fun with my boys.

We took in attractions from Santas Sleigh Ride (in August….seriously) to The Robin Hood Ride and even ended up in Storybook village, where they have created little houses to represent some of the more popular kids bedtime stories…Jack and The Beanstalk was there, Goldilocks and the 3 bears and of course Rumpelstiltskin ( Razz CW)

The kids ate themselves silly with sweets, burgers, ice cream and drinks…made sure their Dad got soaked on the barrel ride and generally tore the place up.   They got to hug the Sundown Bears and went on everything that they wanted to…we even bought Grandad some clotted cream fudge…which was nice.   In an unusual manner, the weather held off until precisely the time that the boys were done and wanted to go home…meaning that we got absolutely drenched during the run to the car.

There was a birthday party for my nephew Josh the other day and, in true LaughingWolf Family tradition, we had a rain soaked barbecue…it was superb…all of the family were there and it was a great night to reconnect with my brothers and chat to everyone.   I don’t really do enough of that, so I should really make more of an effort in this department.

I took Zak to his swimming lesson and was incredibly proud of the boy-fish that was before me…he is even able to do the correct breathing methods and everything…if I am ever in need of a brick to be saved, from the bottom of the pool…I will definitely be asking Zak to stick his PJs on t0 go and fetch it.   On top of that, on Thursday I had the pleasure of watching Zak play football in his team for the first time.   He was fantastic, his team won 5-1 and he scored.   He also survived a tackle that would have gotten most professional footballers red-carded and probably banned.   I was cheering him on like a good ‘un and filming him of course.   I can’t wait to take him next week before I head back to Frankfurt.

Brandon was joining in with a training session for his age group too and he looks to be a proper, tough tackling midfielder in the making…I am really looking forward to seeing his first game in the future too.

Today the weather was, somewhat unsurprisingly, shite…so we decided to bankrupt me further at an indoor play area.   At least I was able to have a sit down and a coffee while the kids knackered themselves out. Saying that, it took me 2 hours to get 17 miles….17 MILES!!   You would think that a large indoor kids play area would be signposted right?   I mean, especially one that is hidden away in the back streets of Lincoln.   Nope, not a sign in sight.   To make matters worse, the road that the directions insisted I followed….no road sign that I could see.   I went past it and instantly realised that it would be the road I needed…especially as I then had to drive around 2 miles at 5 miles an hour just to be able to turn around…and then back (past the road I needed…roadworks you see) 3 miles at 5 miles an hour, just to turn around again and have another go.   Still, the kids loved it and spent most of their time on what can only be described as a vertical drop slide.

So now I am turning into the rain gambler, trying to duck and dive to avoid those pesky droplets of impending bankruptcy and find things that we can do that won’t require me to actually sell one of the kids.

Anyone going to Stansted next week?   Giz a lift!   I’ll be the broken man with a small carry on suitcase, a thumb out and a head full of hopes.   Don’t ask me for fuel money though, Play Zone will have taken the last of mine for a sachet of tomato sauce…bastards.

Sentimental…who me?

TattooSo my new tattoo is finished and I am more than pleased with it.   TD did the work and it is absolutely superb, message me if you are in Frankfurt and want a tattoo..I will give you TDs details, you can’t go wrong.

The thing about tattoos, at least for me, is that they need to mean something.   You have to be prepared to wear whatever design you choose…well…for the rest of your life (laser removal not withstanding).

I must confess that my first tattoo wasn’t particularly sentimental, but was something I was willing to wear for the rest of my days as it encompasses two things that are fairly synonymous with me these days, Liverpool Football Club and a wolf.   My new tattoo, however, is full of sentiment (and wolves)

The Wolf thing has really geeky overtones, I wasn’t raised by wolves…nor do I consider myself to be a re-incarnated wolf or try to live like one etc…none of that.   Many years ago, I was a more traditional geek…involved in online chatrooms and communities, gaming as much as dial-up would allow.   Even back then, it was almost impossible to conjur up a unique and recognisable nickname..so I came up with PureStress.   I wasn’t particularly stressed at the time, but it worked for me.   The only problem it had was that I would constantly get messaged to ask why I was stressed out.

People didn’t appreciate the paradox when I blamed being constantly asked what my name means, which left me with one option.   A public renaming.   I dropped into my fave chatroom of the time and announced my decision.   Once all the abusive ones were filtered out, there were some good ones.   I liked LoneWolf for an equally geeky reason (Those “Do you want to run? (turn to page 11) or fight? (turn to page 55) or look up her skirt? (put the book down you perv!)” books), so I went with it.   Then I discovered that I would be LoneWolf8856834 on everything I signed up to and glued Pure to the front of it.

PureLoneWolf was born…and lo, I was the only one around.   I renamed my old jokes site to the LaughingWolf, created WolfLAN LAN Parties and everything else online relating to me became wolf’esque.   It sort of clicked with me in a number of ways…I am incredibly protective of my family and friends, but can go it alone for long periods (and occasionally prefer that).   Fast forward to my first tattoo and, having been referred to as a wolf for so long, it seemed only right to get a wolf stuck to my arm.   Over the years the wolf thing has become more and more significant and recognisable to those around me, gifts would be wolf related (Native American dreamcatchers, fleece blankets etc).

As all of my children live in the UK and I am here in Frankfurt, I wanted to get something done that would be representative of the kids and would let them know that I am always thinking of them.   I had been talking to TD for almost a year about the idea, and I finally got off my arse a month or so ago and went to see him.   The following day he started it.

Oh..I must tell you…when I was in for the first session a couple of giggly ladies walked in to the piercing section of the tattoo parlour.   They were confident and excited and were speaking in quite animated tones to the piercing guy.   I was lying on my stomach at this point and trying to ignore the discomfort happening to my back, so I didn’t really get what they were talking about.   A few seconds later, I notice that the screen has been pulled around the piercing station…”Aye aye”, thinks I..breasts or clit.   2 minutes later there is what can only be described as a yelp from behind the screen and the laughs fade.   Unfortunately I didn’t see them walk away, but CW assures me that one of the two ladies was walking rather gingerly away…. I hope it was worth it love, I really do.

Anyway, the tattoo is basically a male wolf surrounded by his four cubs.   They are sat in front of a tree (not representative of anyone) and the tree goes over my shoulder where the branches lead into a tribal wolf on my left arm.

Yes the tree looks sore in this picture…it had been finished about 10 minutes prior to the picture being taken.   It will fade slightly over the next week or so and look more natural with the wolves.   Also, no, despite the freckles on my back..I am not a ginger.   Oh, and the browny/red on the wolves is supposed to be there…like the eyes, I think it makes the tattoo stand out.   TD really does do amazing work.

Tattoo for the kids

From top left:   Me, Brandon-Lee and Zak
From bottom left:   Ellen, Ethan
Top:   A tree

I love it.   CW loves it and I know the kids will too – That’s all that counts

Yomping through the Brecons

DSCF0074.JPGSome years ago my Dad decided that we really needed to go for a hike around the Brecon Beacons and I am not quite sure why, but I didn’t try and get out of it.

In fact, Dad managed to rope in my brothers to it aswell and off we jolly well went.   Not content with wandering through the natural beauty of the Brecons like any normal group of people, Dad decided that we needed to take the “road less travelled”..so to speak.

Geared up with hiking boots and all the necessary accoutrements (backpacks, waterproofs etc) we set off.   A small amount of very simple rock climbing, stone hopping across streams…a picnic at the top of a climb and everything was pretty good.   Dare I say downright enjoyable.   Sod it, I do dare Smile   It was enjoyable.

With the exception of Dad, all of us slipped and fell knee high into a stream or two and it never ceased to raise a laugh when someone did.   It was a pretty good boys day out…Kev and Paul even dove from a pretty high cliff into a lake.

We climbed up a small waterfall and when we got to the top, discovered that we would need to cross a stream to get where we were heading.   This meant navigating our way around the ledge of the waterfall…which was pretty slippery.   Dad showed us that we should get our feet set and then fall onto the main waterfall with our arms outstretched.   Then move sideways, always keeping our hands on the waterfall.

Dad went first to show us how it was done….then me, then Kev and finally it was Pauls turn.   Paul, being the youngest was also, unfortunately, the smallest.   As he stretched out his hands and fell forward, he was submerged beneath the falling water…all   I remember, through the laughing and almost falling into the water myself, was hearing *blubblubdaadblubhelpblubglugblugbglubdaad*

Dad stepped into the water properly, waded across and lifted Paul out of the water with one hand.   We got to the other side and collapsed into hysterics, with Paul alternating between angrily complaining and whining.   That’s when we noticed what appeared to be a school trip taking place and the teacher heading over towards us.   I assumed that he was going to have a go at us for setting a bad example or something equally banal.

We try and calm down in readiness for the impending telling-off, Dad is washing his face in the stream…and the rest of us are drying and eating.   When the teacher arrives, he leads with “Do you know what you are doing?”.   He doesn’t seem particularly angry, but still…he is a teacher and this is very possibly his normal anger tone.   My Dad explains that he is a quite an experienced hiker and that, while he apologises for setting a bad example to the teachers class, he does in fact know what he is doing…thanks so very much.

To which the teacher replies…”Ok, so you know that rats piss in this stream?   Just upstream from here as a matter of fact….enjoy your hike”.   With that he smiles, turns and walks away while we start immediately trying to vomit out any water we all might have swallowed, whilst simultaneously laughing at the previously aquatic Paul.

We never did go hiking with Dad again…I am not entirely sure Mum trusted him after that…and we ran out of ant-bacterial mouthwash about 4 seconds after getting home.

Good times…

The birds and the bees

Be Careful Now...It probably isn’t as prevelant as it once was, but in bygone days quite a lot of guys had to undergo a rite of passage…normally with their father.   There were a number of these rites…first beer, first live sporting event and so on.   None of these things though, could prepare you for “The Talk”.

Obviously these days, most kids/teens are more aware of STDs and how to put a condom on a banana than their parents are, mainly due to school lessons…but it wasn’t always the case.   I was unfortunately caught in that time when kids were becoming more aware, but parents weren’t.   A bit like when the government switched from O-Level to GCSE in schools…only somewhat more embarrassing.

Picture the scene; A 16 year old Laughing Wolf arrives home at sometime before noon…having been out the entire night at his girlfriends place.   Dad is in the kitchen as I grab something to eat and drink…small talk ensues.   Football is discussed, schoolwork is discussed, would I take my brothers with me on Sunday to blah blah.   I remember feeling a little confused…sure, Dad and I regularly nattered about little and nothing, but there seemed to be some sort of unspoken uneasiness.   I couldn’t quite place it, nor could I work out why Dad was refusing to make eye contact with me.

I took my food into the living room, sat down and put the TV on.   A few minutes went by and Dad came in, sat next to me and said “I think it is about time we had a talk son”.

I, of course, shit myself was curious as to what he wanted to discuss.   I racked my brain, searching for what indiscretion had transpired…that I could have been caught for.   Maybe he had noticed the missing Apple Korn bottle, found my stash of smokes at the bottom of the garden…that my tape deck had been broken for months and I had wired up a walkman to the stereo to hide it.

Dad turned the TV off and looked distinctly nervous.   He ummed and aahed for a few moments, and I remember thinking that I was in serious trouble…Dad is never lost for words you see, so his discomfort was instantly passed onto me and I didn’t know what to make of it.   He put his hand on my shoulder and started to say the almost timeless “Son, there comes a time in…” and was cut off.   At the moment he began to speak, Mum walked into the living room..sized up the situation, realised what was going on and said “I wouldn’t worry about it Gordon, I have just been putting his washing away and saw a load of condoms in his drawer”.

The realisation of what Dad wanted to talk to me about hit me…the relief in Dads face was visible.   He patted my shoulder and said “Good we had this talk son” and he was gone.   I couldn’t believe it…my Dad, for just a few seconds, was a walking talking clich??.   I put my uneaten food in the kitchen, and legged it outside for a smoke.

You see, I have never been to war…but I really felt like I dodged a bullet there.   That said, as I sit here now, I kind of wonder what he was going to say…after all, it could come in handy in the future.

Did any of you dodge this bullet, or were you forced to endure the torture that is “The Talk”?

Christmas=Great, Travelling with amateurs…not so much

Day 11 - Oh TannenbaumLet me just say right now that I have had a fantastic Christmas.   I flew over to Blighty late on the 23rd and, after Dad had been robbed by the car park people for parking in the 15 minute car park instead of the short stay…30 quid for an hour!!!, arrived at my parents place at around 03:30.   Quick hello, quick bite to eat and a cuppa and then bed.   I had to set my alarm as Zak and Brandon were due to arrive at 10:30.

The boys arrive and we have a great day, we wander around Newark..do a bit of shopping for my Mum and meet Dad to walk home (after a mahoosive fish ‘n chip dinner of course).   It was great..tickle fights, drawing, watching TV, playing rugby in the back garden.   They saw the boatload of presents in the dining room, so I told them that Santas helper had been to see me in Germany, and asked if I could help get the presents to the boys.   This went down a treat and everyone was happy.   My Bro gave me a lift to drop them off, which was a drama in its own right…my brothers car is pretty small and this meant that some of the pressies went in the boot and the rest went…well, pretty much ON the boys.   Still, it gave them a giggle.

Getting back to my folks brought the Christmas Eve drinks…my Mum wasn’t feeling too hot and my other brother was at work (boo!), so it was left to Me, Paul and Dad to put in a good shift.   We did this by going on a pub crawl.   In pub 1 I can’t work out why I am so frickin’ hot…to the point of sweating quite a lot.   As we decide to move on because of the crap beer (British brewed Grolsch..eww) I notice that I have been stood with my head directly next to a 100w lightbulb…genius.   We head to another bar and discover Veltins (a regional brew from NRW in Germany).   I immediately settle in for a few bevvies and we have a great time.

Last orders is a little over 20 minutes away when Paul decides I must try Peroni, some Italian beer ffs!   Oh, and witness a Cider slushy type thing.   It was all going well until we see barmaid #2.   Holy frickin’ Mary mother of god…like Golums ugly sister that they don’t let out during the daytime.   Quite honestly it almost put me off my beer.   We escape to a corner of the bar where she is not in our line of sight and get chatting again.   When the next round is called, I decide that I can’t drink beer anymore thanks to this woman and tell Paul to get me a shot.   As he goes off to order it, I say to Dad “If he brings me a whiskey, I’ll punch him in the face”…sure enough, he brings me back a whisky.   I decide not to punch him in the face, but I can’t drink the whiskey..so Dad has a go…and it tastes foul..so he dumps it in his pint, thinking that will take the taste away…it doesn’t.   Paul then pours some of Dads beer/whisky combo into his cider.   This doesn’t kill the taste of the whiskey and we all say “sod it” and head home.   Paul and Dad wake up the next day with hangovers..I feel great (thanks German beer) and we settle in to watch a festive film.

After Die Hard finishes, we begin making Christmas dinner…screw turkey, screw roast potatoes and all that traditional crapola…what we wanted were steaks…steaks so big that you could only get 3 on a BBQ.   Oh, that’s right..we BBQ’d on Christmas Day.   Check out the results below.

Christmas SteaksBest Christmas Dinner EVER!

I met Pauls girlfriend, spent some quality time with my brothers and Mum/Dad, went bowling…had plenty of beers, built Pauls computer for him and basically had a whale of a time.

There is a subject I would like to mention though, and that is the “Amateur Traveller”.   Now, I place that in quotation marks, as this is my opinion based on…well…almost everyone around me both on the way to blighty and on the way back to Frankfurt.

I will do this rant’ette in bulletpoint form, so that hopefully this post doesn’t ramble on for too much longer.

1. Queues: Now, I know that it can be difficult to figure out who is next, especially when everyone else is in single file and directly behind the person in front of you, but maybe you could ask.   This is preferable to attempting to create a 2nd queue, when there is only one check-in desk.   Also, if a tannoy announcement comes on (literally) every 3 minutes to tell you to use the automatic check-in machines before queueing to drop your bag off….try not to look shocked when, after queueing for the better part of an hour, you are told to take your shit and find an electronic check-in machine and re-queue.

2.   Check-In: When you finally sort out your queue strategy and get to the check-in desk, please try not to be surprised when the (very) stressed out woman behind said desk asks to see your passport.   She will also want to see your booking confirmation….oh, and probably the passports of the people you are flying with.   Also, you are flying RyanAir…these are notoriously unforgiving when it comes to their weight limits per person and will want you to either pay, or take some stuff out.

#1 You booked, you knew the limit, don’t fucking argue about it.
#2 Move…if you fucked up, do not delay the rest of us checking in, just so you don’t lose your place in line…you fucked it up…get out of my way.
#3 Have your passports and booking information handy…not in one of the overweight suitcases that you are now desperately trying to repack…causing the passports to fall to the bottom.
#4 Now that you have managed to delay everyone else 15-20 minutes…under NO circumstances try to invite your friends (that have just arrived to the airport) to come to the front of the queue.   This may cause a large Englishman, with more than a passing resemblence to Uncle Fester, to lose the plot and physically block your friends from getting through to where you are stood.   This Englishman may also turn, growl and generally intimidate your friends.   This is probably not a good start to your holidays.

3.   Security Check: You will notice, as you walk towards the roped area (cattle-pen anyone?), that there is a kindly uniformed person there, asking to check your boarding card and passport.   This kindly soul is also asking if you have any liquids (or other items) that need to be bagged before going on the aircraft.   This person is merely trying to give you a chance to sort things out before you head into the security check area.   They are also another reminder to the signs plastered in bright yellow ALL OVER THE AIRPORT.   If you have such items, please follow the lead of the few people milling around the entrance to said cattle-pen and sort it out.   As you follow the cattle-pen to the security check itself, please pay attention to the 4 television screens that are demonstrating to you what you need to do.   If you are unable to see a television that is a mere 3 feet above your head, please feel free to watch the process, right in front of you, as it happens to fellow travellers.   You will notice that they are being asked to remove their jackets, watches, belts and contents of their pockets.   With the right person in front of you, you may even see them remove a laptop and place it seperately in a box.

As we are all around 15-20 minutes late now, thanks to you and your family…please try to follow the travellers in front of you and prepare for your encounter with security.   Do NOT blindly walk to security and moan when asked to take off your jacket, forget the watch and belt and be told to go back to take them off.   Then again to remove the mobile/change and eventually hat.   Try not to tell security that there is no laptop, only for them to see it and have to reverse the fucking conveyor to place it in a seperate container.   Oh, and thanks for being considerate and moving out of the way, so that the people behind you…WHO PAID ATTENTION…don’t have to wait for you to redress your fucking selves.

4.   On The Plane: It is a very narrow walkway, so try and have a little consideration for those people that are desperately trying to get their things in the overhead locker.   Also, if you are lucky enough to get to the over-wing, extra legroom seating…try and pay attention to the flight attendant when they tell you that no luggage or loose items can be stowed by the emergency exits.

5.   Passport Control: Again…you will need your passport here.   Try not to be surprised.   It might also be nice if you could use the 30 minutes you will spend in the queue…TO FIND IT.   Oh, and this one goes to Stansted Airport…there will be more people arriving that are EU Passport holders, this is to be expected…so we would really appreciate it if you could lay on more than, say, 3 members of staff for the EU Passport holders passport control…especially when you have over double that number looking after the few dozen Non-EU Passport holders…mmmkthanks

6.   Baggage Claim: This one also goes out to Stansted Airport.   When you have 5 planes land at roughly the same time, I can understand it being a little hectic…but it surely can’t take a friggin hour to get the bags onto the conveyors.   If it does…seeing as you have 9 conveyors..wouldn’t it be prudent to put the contents of each plane on it’s own…we have all seen Toy Story 2, we know that they all start at roughly the same place.   Try to avoid putting the contents of 3 different planes on 1 conveyor….

And a special mention must go to the bus driver that got me back to Frankfurt last night.   When I ask you, with packet of smokes in hand, how long before the bus leaves…if you tell me “Now”, please don’t leave 25 minutes later…I really needed that smoke after dealing with all these frickin’ amateur travellers.   Oh, and to the Indian pilot who ended up sitting next to me.   If you insist on eating peanuts (or whatever the fuck they were) for the ENTIRE 2 HOUR JOURNEY…please use your other arm so that you aren’t knocking me every 10 seconds for 2 hours…next time, I may do more than simply stopping your arm from hitting me…do we understand one another?   Good!

This has been a public service rant.   Travel safe everyone.

Cake or death….

Not even close....but you get the ideaSo it looks like there is a possibility I will be in England for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with my folks.   It goes without saying that I will do my damndest to get to see the kids at the same time, and I am sure I will manage to achieve it.   That said, it will be Christmas with the parents, and I am the son that lives furthest away….

Now, being the oldest of 3 boys means that certain expectations are placed on you to be responsible, level headed and able to look after yourself (and your brothers).   Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t spoiled and went without….far far from it.   I have mentioned before that I had a great childhood and wouldn’t change it for the world.   However, I didn’t always get the option for certain things..the options were normally delivered to the younger brethren before me.   Where the hell am I going with this??   Oh yeah, eldest son..far away…got it.

As it is now a rarity to see me, I am pretty much a shoe in to get the option of a special thing to be prepared.   This is guaranteed to be my Mums very special and never matched…Devils Food Cake.   It should be said that, despite my ample girth (and my belly Wink ) I am not really a chocolate lover.   However, when you have tried some of my Mums Devils Food Cake, you could easily become a chocaholic…instantly…followed rapidly by a chocolate induced coma…with possible drowning by double cream.

It is one of “those” recipes… in that it is a closely guarded secret, has changed over time and consists of a plastic wallet with random pieces of paper..it sort of resembles a kidnappers ransom note starter pack and would probably have reduced the guys that cracked the Enigma device to tears trying to recreate it.   I was given the recipe, once…and subsequently lost it in the great hard disk crash of ’01.   Subsequent attempts to gain access have been futile, so I am left with the rare occasion when I can ask for this creation of the gods to be made for me.   Serious pleasure is all I am saying.

All of my 35 years on this planet will count for nothing when I regress into a mewling babe whislt simultaneously begging my Mum to make me this cake… I may ask for two to be made…specifically so I can have one with “Daves…keep off” iced on.

Now, I just need to work on getting Mum to make me a chilli and a lasagne, and I may weep a little.   It’s pretty pathetic really, but I am just about to embark on a new diet…and it is one of those 4 days on 3 days off things…I worked out my optimum start day to ensure that the 3 off falls outside of 2 events.   The first is the visit of my Dad next month, and the second being Christmas at my folks place.   The logistics of doing this should really be added to my CV…creative accounting, time management…political lies…it has it all, but all things considered…I will be drinking with my Dad quite merrily next month without feeling even the least bit guilty and then eating my bodyweight in Devils Food Cake at Christmas guilt free too.

Don’t get me wrong, I know all of you (well most of you….some of you at least) believe that your Mums cooking is better than anybody elses Mums cooking and you will never be swayed by any argument that anyone would care to make.   This is fine, but there is a difference…you are all wrong!   It’s a subtle difference I know, but an important one nevertheless.

I am quite looking forward to it now Smile

What is you favourite (albeit inferior to mine) Mums cooking that you would regress to your childhood for?

Bring on the heat

pimentasI was talking to the guys at work yesterday, as it would appear that some of them are missing the national food of Great Britain…namely Hot Curry (and yes, the capitalisation is necessary).   Apparently, a place has been located that understands the term “English Hot please”.

Germans don’t do spicey food..they place a 3 chilli warning sign on what are essentially tomatoe flavoured crisps.   They consider standard, run of the mill bell peppers as excessive.   When you ask for chilli on your kebab…they look at you strangely when you ask if they have real chilli anywhere.   Not a spicy hot food nation is all I am saying.   Very occasionally, I will concede, you get a surprise…I went to a kebab shop some months ago and went through the usual routine:

Me: With chilli please
Kebabman:   *lightly introduces concept of chilli to kebab*
Me:   No I said chilli please… I am English, the hotter the better
Kebabman: I have put chilli on
Me:   No, you have given the kebab a theory lesson on what chillis are
Kebabman: *sighs* Ok, more chilli
Me:   Thankyou
Me:   Bites into kebab
Me:   Head explodes
Me:   Recovers and (hopefully) successfully hides the nuclear reaction going on in my mouth

Suffice to say, he is my favourite Kebabman.

So consequently, the curries here (whilst full of flavour), do not require a gallon of beer to cool off…which of course increases the enjoyment factor…as long as you get in touch with your inner lager lout.   So, a “proper” curry house has been discovered and we will be going for a heat competition in a couple of weeks.   For my part, I will be ensuring that there are plenty of toilet rolls in my freezer for when I get home.   I will also place paramedics on standby and maybe eat some candles…Homer Simpson stylee.   When I return from my dream walk with the talking fox…I may blog about hallucenigenic curries and their effect on inner city Frankfurt.

I digress…. the conversation about thermonuclear curries reminded me of a Chilli that my Mum cooked many years ago.   We like reasonably hot stuff in our family, but my Dad had a friend coming over..and Mum said she would cook a Chilli for everyone.   This prompted said “friend” to ask if it was going to be a proper Chilli or some weak thing.   My Mum insisted that we like our food HOT, but that wasn’t enough and it turned into a macho “I can eat food so hot, they can power small countries with the ‘output'” conversation.   My Mum assured him that it would be suitably hot and she felt sure he would enjoy it.

So the night arrived, and I stumble into the kitchen to get a drink and notice that Mum appears to be making 2 individual pots of Chilli.   One of the normal family size variety…and one of the somewhat smaller and, dare I say it, sinister…evil..child of Nosferatu variety.   Various spoons and possibly the bottom of the pan were most definitely melting.   My Mum may have been cackling as she dropped small and unassuming ingredients into this smaller pan…each of them met with a cloud of purple smoke, a smell of the sulphurous pits of hell and a distinctive gurgling sound.   I think what gave away her intentions though, was the leather apron…welders mask and lead gloves she donned whenever she went anywhere near this smaller pot.

So dinner is served and we all tuck into our Chilli..my Dads friend failed to notice that all of the plants with 10 feet of him had withered and died the second that Mum walked past with his Chilli in a specially reinforced bowl, and began to munch away.   No sooner had he got the first spoonful to his mouth, he broke out in an instant sweat.   His head was so red, I literally thought he might pass out…every few seconds he would glance across at us..quietly munching away, chatting normally and generally enjoying the experience.   After the 2nd mouthful..I believe he lost the use of his tongue, and his speech became slightly slurred.   He made some pitiful excuse shortly after, something about having a big dinner and he was really sorry, but couldn’t eat anymore.   At least, that’s what I think he said…to this day I couldn’t understand him properly.

The moral to this story is of course…do not cast aspersions at my Mums cooking…she may try and kill you.

Wish me luck…

Oh…thought I would leave you with this Chilli cookoff story :

THE INEXPERIENCED JUDGE
Notes From An Inexperienced Chili Tester Named FRANK, who was visiting
Texas from the East Coast: “Recently, I was honored to be selected as a
judge at a chili cook-off. The original person called in sick at the last
moment and I happened to be standing there at the judge’s table asking
directions to the beer wagon, when the call came.

I was assured by the other two judges (Native Texans) that the chili
wouldn’t be all that spicy, and besides, they told me I could have free
beer during the tasting. So I accepted.”

Here are the scorecards from the event:

_________________________________________________________

CHILI # 1 MIKE’S MANIAC MOBSTER MONSTER CHILI

JUDGE ONE: A little too heavy on tomato. Amusing kick.

JUDGE TWO: Nice, smooth tomato flavor. Very mild.

FRANK: Holy shit, what the hell is this stuff? You could remove dried
paint from your driveway. Took me two beers to put the flames out. I hope
that’s the worst one. These Texans are crazy.

_________________________________________________________

CHILI # 2 ARTHUR’S AFTERBURNER CHILI

JUDGE ONE: Smokey, with a hint of pork. Slight Jalapeno tang.

JUDGE TWO: Exciting BBQ flavor, needs more peppers to be taken
seriously.

FRANK: Keep this out of the reach of children I’m not sure what I am
supposed to taste besides pain. I had to wave off two people who wanted to
give me the Heimlich maneuver. They had to rush in more beer when they
saw the look on my face.
__________________________________________________________

CHILI # 3 FRED’S FAMOUS BURN DOWN THE BARN CHILI

JUDGE ONE: Excellent firehouse chili! Great kick. Needs more beans.

JUDGE TWO: A beanless chili, a bit salty, good use of peppers.

FRANK: Call the EPA, I’ve located a uranium spill. My nose feels like I
have been snorting Drano. Everyone knows the routine by now get me more
beer before I ignite. Barmaid pounded me on the back; now my backbone is
in the front part of my chest. I’m getting shit-faced from all the beer.
____________________________________________________________

CHILI # 4 BUBBA’S BLACK MAGIC

JUDGE ONE: Black bean chili with almost no spice. Disappointing.

JUDGE TWO: Hint of lime in the black beans. Good side dish for fish or
other mild foods, not much of a chili.

FRANK: I felt something scraping across my tongue, but was unable to
taste it, is it possible to burnout taste buds? Sally, the barmaid, was
standing behind me with fresh refills; that 300 lb. Bitch is starting to
look HOT, just like this nuclear waste I’m eating. Is chili an
aphrodisiac?

_______________________________________________________

CHILI # 5 LINDA’S LEGAL LIP REMOVER

JUDGE ONE: Meaty, strong chili. Cayenne peppers freshly ground, adding
considerable kick. Very Impressive.

JUDGE TWO: Chili using shredded beef, could use more tomato. Must admit
the cayenne peppers make a strong statement.

FRANK: My ears are ringing, sweat is pouring off my forehead and I can
no longer focus my eyes. I farted and four people behind me needed
paramedics. The contestant seemed offended when I told her that her chili
had given me brain damage, Sally saved my tongue from bleeding by pouring
beer directly on it from a pitcher. I wonder if I’m burning my lips off?
It really pisses me off that the other judges asked me to stop screaming.
Screw those rednecks!
________________________________________________________

CHILI # 6 VERA’S VERY VEGETARIAN VARIETY

JUDGE ONE: Thin yet bold vegetarian variety chili. Good balance of spice
and peppers.

JUDGE TWO: The best yet. Aggressive use of peppers, onions, and garlic.
Superb.

FRANK: My intestines are now a straight pipe filled with gaseous,
sulfuric flames. I shit myself when I farted and I’m worried it will eat
through the chair. No one seems inclined to stand behind me except that
slut Sally. She must be kinkier than I thought. Can’t feel my lips
anymore. I need to wipe my ass with a snow cone!
___________________________________________________

CHILI # 7 SUSAN’S SCREAMING SENSATION CHILI

JUDGE ONE: A mediocre chili with too much reliance on canned peppers.

JUDGE TWO: Ho Hum, tastes as if the chef literally threw in a can of
chili peppers at the last moment. I should take note that I am worried
about Judge Number 3, He appears to be in a bit of distress as he is
cursing uncontrollably.

FRANK: You could put a grenade in my mouth, pull the pin, and I wouldn’t
feel a damn thing. I’ve lost sight in one eye, and the world sounds like
it is made of rushing water. My shirt is covered with chili, which slid
unnoticed out of my mouth. My pants are full of lava-like shit to match my
damn shirt. At least during the autopsy they’ll know what killed me. I’ve
decided to stop breathing; it’s too painful. Screw it. I’m not getting
any oxygen anyway. If I need air, I’ll just suck it in through the 4-inch
hole in my stomach.
____________________________________________________

CHILI # 8 LESTER’S LAST OF THE RED-HOT LOVER’S CHILI

JUDGE ONE: A perfect ending, this is a nice blend chili, safe for all,
not too bold but spicy enough to declare it’s existence.

JUDGE TWO: This final entry is a good, balanced chili. Neither mild nor
hot. Sorry to see that most of it was lost when Judge Number 3 passed
out, fell over and pulled the chili pot down on top of himself. Not sure
if he’s going to make it. Poor Yank, wonder how he’d have reacted to a
really hot chili?