2!!!!!

Weihnachtswichtel und Nikolaus
Photo by caruba
…or 3, depending on when you are celebrating Christmas in your country/region.  Days that is, and frankly it is all speeding up here in Frankfurt.  Little things happen, or you go to certain events and you suddenly realise…It’s Christmas.

The Christmas market and annual Feuerzangenbowle consumption is a pretty good clue…along with attending (the first half at least) of a Christmas choir concert featuring ST (she has a fantastic voice…despite the choir leaders best efforts to fuck it up with the composition choices…), some bad acting and cute German kids singing english christmas songs with German pronunciation (sometimes)…they even did the whole sound of a storm with just their bodies…was really good.  I was just too tired to enjoy it properly and had to bail at half time.

Peoples inability to drive in the snow…and CW building the worlds smallest and cutest snowman..then carrying him for a mile to place him on the windowsill of the apartment.  He almost didn’t make it though…I think she made him out of that rarest of stuff…Lemming Snow..as he tried to leap to his escape from her hand, and lost his buttons.  Still, he seems happy on the windowsill…and his suicidal tendencies have deserted him (for now at least.

Also, I got a text from my daughter last night telling me how many days were left until I see her :D

Anyway, onto the main reason for the post…you see, I had it all planned out…my passport was due to expire on the 31st of December.  I had known this for a while and decided to book an appointment for when I was in the UK and get a nice spangly new one by using the same day service they offer.  All fine, all dandy..no need to panic.  That is..until CW actually checked my passport on Friday and informed me that the date of expiry was the 16th of December.

Cue huge panic and phonecalls to the Consulate, Ryanair, the Consulate again and various others.  My conversations went something like this:

RING RING

Consulate:  How can I help you?

Me:  Helpelphelp!!! I need you to save me from my own stupidity (explains story)..can you do anything for me?

Consulate:  It is perfectly legal to fly into the UK on an expired UK passport.

Me:  Really??  That’s fantastic!!

Consulate:  Who are you flying with?

Me:  Ryanair…why?

Consulate:  ..ah

Me: Whaddya mean..ah??

Consulate:  Yeah, we always have problems with Ryanair…I would call them and check.

Me:  OK, I will call you back asap.

RING RING

Ryanair:  How can I help you?

Me:  Explains story, explains that Consulate advise that travel with an expired UK passport TO the UK is fine, is that a problem for Ryanair.

Ryanair:  That’s illegal, you cannot travel on an expired passport.

Me:  It’s perfectly legal, the Consulate Passport office themselves have told me.  They also told me that pretty much all of the major airlines will accept it.

Ryanair:  No, it’s illegal and you may be arrested for trying to travel with false documents.

Me:  I would be impressed if they could..it isn’t false..just expired.  It is still my picture and details…just the date is wrong

Ryanair:  Well, we don’t accept that for travel

Me:  That’s all I asked..you may want to read up on the law regarding this area…also, I will assume that Ryanairs aspirations to become a “Major” airline are non-existent.  Thanks

RING RING

Consulate:  How can I help you

Me:  Ryanair won’t allow me to travel, what else can I try?

Consulate:  Get here for 9am Monday morning and we will sort your passport out for you…we don’t normally offer a same day service..but in an emergency like this, we will do what we can.

Me:  A passport?  I thought you would just give me an emergency travel passport..

Consulate:  Naah, that’s 102 euros and only gets you into the UK once..I will look to get the full monty for you.

Me:  Fantastic, see you Monday

CHECKS INTERNET FOR RAIL PRICES

Me:  Aaaaaaargh!!!  How Much!!!!!!

RING RING

LA:  Hiya, how are you?

Me:  Not great…TELLS STORY…is your car up and running and available for me to steal on Monday?

LA:  Sure, no problem

Me:  Lifesaver, thanks :)

RING RING

Work:  Hiya, what’s up

Me:  You know how I have Wednesday onwards booked as holiday?

Work:  Yeah

Me:  Can I swap Wednesday to Monday please?  TELLS STORY

Work:  Sure

Cue Monday’s slovenly and snowy arrival and we begin our journey at a very unsociable hour.

Check list..

  • Passport forms – Check
  • Passport photos – Check
  • Car keys – Check
  • Sat Nav – Check
  • iPod and Cassette adaptor for car – Check
  • CW – Check
  • Me – Check
  • Money – Cash.. (you see what I did there?)

We arrive at the car, clear the snow from it, start the engine and wait for it to warm up.  Everything seems fine and we head off once the Pratt Nav finds a signal.  Once we hit the motorway, all the snow, salt and other assorted crap starts hitting the windshield…no problem thinks I, a sharp squirt of the washers and sight will be restored…

PUMP WHIRRING NOISE, WIPERS MOVE AND SMEAR WINDSCREEN

We are now driving with what appears to be a sheet of dirty paper on the windshield..another pull of the washer lever results in more smearing and less visibility…

Arse, thinks I

We pull into a service station and try to clear the blockage – Needle in jets…nothing, Hot water poured over jets…nothing, pulling lever back for a minute or so in an effort for it to clear…nothing.  So, undeterred, we head off.  Repeat this every 15 to 20 minutes and the 250+ kilometers journey did seem to take a lot longer than it should.

A few things to note about yesterday…

#1 Düsseldorf must be a very healthy city, and full of superheroes..seriously, they appear to not even have heard of salt.  The motorways surrounding the city comprised of the sort of snowy mush normally reserved for small villages with little or no traffic and the pavements were designed for a city full of people that can fly…as all of the snow that had been forced off the road…had moved to the bloody paths…that didn’t have salt on them either.

#2 I get all patriotic when in the British Consulate Generals office…don’t ask me why, I really don’t have an explanation.  I told CW on at least 3 occasions that she was standing on British soil now and said “Gawd Bless ‘er” to the picture of the queen.  Additionally, German reception staff with English speech inflection is genius…

#3 I hate snow…my dodgy ankle hates it more.  CW learned all about Karma when having a go at me for almost falling over…She almost fell over herself less than 2 minutes later (no…I didn’t trip her)

#4 I was told that I was a big strong lad and would I fancy clearing the snow..by an old woman walking behind us.

#5 If the option is getting on a tram like a sardine in a can, or wandering aimlessly around…I will wander aimlessly around..despite my previously mentioned ankle issues.

Most importantly of all, the British Consulate General Passport Office is full of absolute genius, friendly and helpful staff..yes yes, I realise it is Christmas and no, I wouldn’t recommend stitching yourself up to test out their helpfulness…all I know is that they could have handed me an emergency passport and a bill for 102 euros…..but they chose to get me a full passport issued in a little under 4 hours…

Gawd bless ’em

Oh, and Merry Christmas everyone…no doubt I will post a repeat of this in 10 years when I forget to renew my passport in good time again…

Worst. Movie. Ever

Holy crapola. I couldn’t sleep last night, so decided to watch a film. Lets pretend it was a cinema showing of a new(ish) film called “Beyond the ring” starring Andre Lima as himself. I “went to the cinema” to watch this film, as I saw a clip and it looked like it had some pretty good martial arts action in it……Clips can be deceptive, that’s all I’m saying.

First of all, the soundtrack would have been rejected by the people that brought you “The Karate Kid” as being too cheesy. The acting was more wooden than Pinnochios sex doll and the direction/cinematography reminded me of when my 5 year old got a hold of the video camera a couple of years ago.

I think I can sum it up though… It started badly, tailed off a little in the middle and the less said about the ending the better.   Other than that it was excellent.

I know it is based on “True Events”, but not every hard luck story can be a great film…especially when you put someone who clearly has never acted before…in a movie of people that have never acted….along with a director that has never directed and cameramen that have never camera’d(?).   Add to that the fact that only about 10 minutes in the entire film had any martial arts action and you get where I am coming from.   Put it this way, it made AWOL look like an Oscar winning film with Jean Claude Van Damme getting the award for best actor.   It was THAT bad…

Now, I have watched some shite in my time…Natural Born Killers didn’t even make it halfway through before it got switched off and the only reason I watched the Event Horizon to the end was because we had bought tickets to another film immediately afterwards and it was pissing down outside.   I watched the massively over-hyped Superbad and can only agree with the title decision.   But nothing has managed to top this film.   It seriously looks like it was made as a straight to TV film in the late 80s.   I can’t even force myself to place this into the “So bad it’s good” category.   It’s just that bad.

If you don’t believe me, watch it yourself…just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Come on, name the worst film you have seen…

Close encounters of the vehiculer kind

Yesterday something interesting happened to me.   By interesting I mean painful and by happened to me I mean…well, happened to me of course.

I was walking across a pedestrian crossing when I was clipped by some moron that decided to go through a red light.   At least I think it was a moron, they definately had all the hallmarks.   For a kick-off they were driving a big Merc, also, rather than stop to see if I was ok they accelerated.   Unfortunately I was too busy rapidly spinning and falling to the ground to get the number plate.

Fuck you inertia.

Still, at least there were plenty of helpful passers by……oh thats right there wasn’t any.   So, after hobbling back to the apartment, I realised that the likelihood of me getting up the stairs were pretty slim and decided to head to the hospital.

At the hospital they gave me some wonder juice that took the pain away.   Well, most of the pain anyway.   Fortunately nothing was broken except my pride.   I must remember to Ebay for a pride protector damnit, it’s always damaged in these situations.

The reason for the damaged pride?   Well, as the pain was coming and going, walking was interesting.   Now, when the pain was there, I had no issue, people could clearly see I was in pain.   However, when it moved to being an ache, I start walking like a white Huggy Bear.   All I was missing was the damn furry hat and cane.     Which is where I am a day later.   I now have people looking at me like I am some kind of saddo wannabe pimp.

I may have to take out some sort of vendetta against all Merc drivers on the basis that at some point I will get the guy that did it.

The thing about this event is that it reminded me of a few years ago, where I also thought I could take on a vehicle.   In this case, I was at least in a car of my own.   My oponent, however, was a double decker bus.   I think I must have unresolved vehicle issues from some sort of trauma in a past life.

It’s interesting that a double decker bus could get the better of me in a Peugeot 306.   I mean, sure he had the weight and reach advantage, but I was quicker and had the lower center of gravity.   In MMA terms it should have been a closer match.   Alas, being a double decker bus, my opponent was more inclined to slam into my shoulder at around 30 MPH.

Basically, I was pulling out of a junction and needed to cross traffic.   It was rush hour and this particular road was pretty busy.   I see a gap in the traffic heading the way I want to go.   So I check again to see if there is anything to stop me crossing and I see a bus.   The bus is indicating to pull into the road I am currently sat in and is slowing down.   So I pull out, all the while making sure that the gap is still there for me to get into.   When I was happy that it was, I look towards the bus.   Unfortunately someone had replaced the bus with a rather large grill and headlights.   That’s right sports fans, the bus (whilst still indicating) had decided that turning wasn’t on the agenda and thought he would like to drive my car.   He did this by slamming into my drivers door.

It was at this point that pandemonium broke out.   My back wheels hadn’t actually crossed the junction, but the force of the crash actually span the car so that I was facing the opposite direction.   Some kindly soul called the….well…the world it would seem.   I couldn’t move, my shoulder was pretty banged up, the bus driver (I believe his name was Mr N E Gligence) couldn’t get the door open.   3 fire trucks, 2 ambulances and about 5 police cars show up.   I discover that the bus is in fact a school bus and start panicking about the kids on the bus.

I remember seeing all of the hydraulic cutters being brought out by the fire brigade and wondering how bad it actually was.   Just as they are about to start chopping the car up, one of the firemen decides to try and open the door.   2 seconds later a (dare I say dissappointed) fireman is putting the cutting gear away and the car is swarming with firemen and paramedics.

Why is it that they say that they are going to make you comfortable to be removed from the vehicle??   They slapped a neck brack on me, which was practically cutting my windpipe.   Ah well, it seemed to make them feel better, and certainly the chances of my head falling off were considerably reduced.

It is about then that I realise where I am and become rather uncooperative.   I shout to one of the coppers that someone needs to go and tell Sarah, preferably before someone that recognises the car decides to phone her.   Sarah was heavily pregnant at this point, I think about 7 or 8 months if I recall, and the last thing I needed was someone panicking her.

I get a “yeah, no problem” from some copper.   10 minutes later I see Sarah running down the street to the car.   Thank you Mr Policeman, thank you so much….

They did try and stop Sarah getting into the passenger door of the car, but there were only blokes on the “scene” and frankly, us blokes are easily scared of heavily pregnant and hormonal women.   You think a women scorned is bad….get one pregnant – Holy crap.   I digress.   A friend of ours had been really tactful and clever.   Sarah had recieved the following phonecall:

Friend:   Hi Sarah, how are you
Sarah:   Fine thanks, you
Friend:   Not too bad.   Hey, just remind me, what is the number plate of Daves car?

I will leave the conversation there….not the brightest fucking idea really.   I mean, I wouldn’t necessarily know what to have said myself, but I am fairly sure that wouldn’t have been the method I employed.

So, they get me out and into the ambulance.   Strap me in and start giving me pain relief.   On the way to the hospital, the driver tells me that the news is there and filming the car.   I insist that we turn around, after all it isn’t every day you can become a celebrity.   Unfortunately these paramedic types have some sort of code or something that says that car crash victims have to be treated in a hospital.

A number of things happened by the time I got to the hospital.   Rumour central is a wonderful thing, and the following stories were spinning around:

  1. I had been cut out of the wreckage
  2. I had walked away
  3. I was cut out of the wreckage and been airlifted by helicopter to hospital in critical condition
  4. and my personal fave – I died.

Unfortunately, I am not even joking about that last one.   All of these things had done the rounds by the time I got to the frickin hospital.   Sarahs Aunt called Sarah in tears…I think she heard the dead thing.

Apparently, at the scene the local doctors surgery sent out its staff to check the kids out and gave everyone a clean bill of health, which made me feel a whole lot better.   So imagine my joy when, around 8 weeks later, I got the first of 20 odd letters from parents suing me for the accident.   It was like something out of a bad movie, one of the kids supposedly in a neck brace and unable to move was doing sprint relay in school sports day the day after the frickin accident.

There was one genuine injury, and I was devastated when I found out.   A young girl had just gotten back to school after surgery on her knee, which she then banged when the bus slammed into the car.   She was OK though, but I was in pieces when I heard.   Her dad was actually consoling me while I was waiting for X-Rays.

But the others were just opportunistic ambulance chasing, lawyers 4 u advert watching bastards.

The moral to this story, if you intend to pick a fight with a vehicle, ensure the odds are in your favour.

I am off out to buy a Hummer..