Monthly Archives: May 2008

Puff pastry can make anybody feel like Nigella …

It’s no secret I hate cooking. The only good thing about sticky summer weather is that nobody really wants to eat anything. You can be sitting there at 9pm sponging perspiration from your face with your legs spreadeagled over the coffee table (a charming vista from almost any angle) and nobody’s likely to say, ‘How about some roast suckling pig and a dozen treacle dumplings (with custard).’ They’d sooner die. Not only do they lack the capacity to plough into such repast – they’re also well aware I’d have to kill them.

My friend Jules, whose claim to fame is cooking ‘from scratch’, is quite astounded when I’m game enough to mention convenient things like fish fingers. I do it sometimes purposely when I feel she’s being too smug and needs stirring up. I have no doubt Jules makes her own fish fingers, forming hand-minced flaked flathead into artistic oceanic shapes with her bare hands and crumbing them. With crumbs made from scratch with … yes, bread. Probably home-baked and grated with her own toenails. Opening a frostbound box from the freezer department of Food-o-rama is probably as foreign to Jules as a working knowledge of what to do with a Brussels sprout is to me. Furthermore, I just don’t care. Some of us were put on this earth to nurture our families – and the rest of us weren’t.

There is something mind-numbingly boring about going to the supermarket anyway. Filling your trolley with vegetables, taking them home, nuking them – then scraping them from your children’s plates into the bin. If you took them straight home and binned them immediately, you could cut out the middle man completely. It must be the ‘guilty mother’ syndrome which keeps you battling away – so when the doctor tells you your family has scurvy and every nutritional deficiency known to man, you can say with complete honesty, ‘I tried giving them vegetables, sir … but they wouldn’t eat them!’ It sounds lame, but you’ll get away with it because it’s no longer legal to jam things into kids’ mouths and tape them shut.

I once remember cooking something – but it didn’t work. It’s tempting to try again when winter sets in and the aroma of the neighbours’ pot roast comes wafting through the kitchen window. Tendrils of gastronomic extravagance curling through the barren wastes of my non-productive kitchen. Sadly, the Hunter Gatherer sometimes thinks the aroma’s ours. He looks hopeful and asks what I’m cooking. I tell him to stand near the open window and breathe in. It’s called ‘passive eating’ – it’s inexpensive and you won’t gain weight. Our neighbours have no idea how many of their meals we’ve enjoyed by osmosis. If they cook something really hideous, we just close the window and the HG is forced to endure yet another dalliance with fish fingers.

A very convenient tool in the art of feeding your family is the knowledge nobody will ever let themselves starve. When they start making whimpering sounds, you point to the loaf of bread. Your only contribution to the scheme of things is to make sure there is a loaf of bread. The survival instinct will then take care of the rest. If you’re really fortunate, one of your offspring will discover they have a flair for cooking and will shove rudely past you to get to the spice rack. You may be lucky enough to get quite a few years’ mileage out of this before they leave home.

But the best invention since sliced bread (or any bread, really) is the packet of ready-rolled puff pastry sheets. You can wrap them around just about anything and people will be incredibly impressed. Just open a tin, bung it on the pastry, do a bit of artistic crimping … and voila! Your family thinks you’re Nigella. Not only that, you can use up those tins of Pal you don’t need anymore since WoofWoof moved down the street to where the dogs are spoiled rotten with home-made beefy numnums.

Necessity being the mother of invention, feeding the family need only be limited by your imagination. You will find you can fool almost all of the people most of the time with the pastry trick. I was telling Jules about it the other day and she refused to believe there would be any call for such a product. Fortunately for some of us, there most definitely is. Due to consumer demand, the packs of ready-rolled pastry now come in an economy pack of 10 sheets. Bliss on a stick, and bring on the dog bowl!

Eat your heart out, Nigella …

.oOo.

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The effect of Celebrity Schadenfreude on having a life …

A long time ago someone pointed out the amount of times ‘I’ and ‘me’ appeared in something I had written. In the nicest possible way, they proceeded to inform me the world was NOT all about me – and that I should probably get over myself. Well, charming. What, I pondered, could possibly be more important than moi? What could be more delicious than wallowing in my own perceived ills or doing some self-indulgent navel gazing?  In those days, not a lot. But now, for our edification and wonderment, we have Advanced Celebrity Schadenfreude 101.

It is now possible to gaze at the navels of others and watch them self-destruct. The media licks its lips in glee as the Britneys, Lindsays and Parises (Parisi? Parasites?) hurl themselves, sans knickers, from cars and vomit into other people’s designer handbags.  They also, with gay abandon, hurl themselves in and out of other people’s beds and in and out of rehab centres. The trash magazines have a field day. If it’s a slow news week for celebrity misadventure, they make something up. It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so appallingly sad.

For a start, I have no idea who is buying this stuff. It’s not even good fiction. I can’t believe there are people out there going ‘tut tut’ because some actress had a baby last week and is actually still … dare we say it … FAT. Or that a flabby woman in Dubbo, attired in grubby pink towelling trackie dacks, has the gall to shake her head because a soapie starlet dared to shop for Rice Bubbles at her local Food-o-rama with bed-hair and no bra. And wearing thongs. What is with the grannies knitting booties for celebrity offspring, when surely they’re aware it will all be donated to charity? Why are we caring what these vacuous nobodies (that would be the celebrities, not the grannies) get up to? Do we not have lives of our own? Maybe we like to be reminded we’re all human, and therefore equally flawed. If a rock star trashes an hotel room and urinates in the elevator on his way out to ravish a pack of 14-year-old groupies … well, surely that’s not so different to Uncle Bazza staggering down his weed-choked driveway with his sneakers covered in regurgitated kabab and his willy hanging out after a night on the turps? All the same under the skin, right?

Why do we want to see where these people are living, what they’re driving, where they’re going for holidays? It matters not a hoot. But somehow, the great unwashed delight in the spectator sport of Other People’s Lives. For some reason, the wealthier and more successful someone becomes, the more they are hated and reviled. The more the public wants to see them fall. A long way, if possible – into a prison cell or straitjacket, even better. Why are we not happy for someone who’s ‘made it’? Why do we not clap our hands and shout ‘Goodo!’ as the rich get richer and we can’t be arsed moving ourselves into better lives and circumstances?

Even seeing the covers of trash mags screaming out from the rack next to the checkout counter makes me wonder whether the authors of such garbage can sleep at nights. How can paps with telephoto lenses feel pleased with themselves as they cling to the sides of buildings in order to grab blurred images of sports stars chowing down on greedyburgers and knocking back alcoholic beverages in the privacy of their own apartments? There seems to be a whole industry out there, hell-bent on poking its snoz into the personal lives of others and taking a swipe at them. Even current affairs presenters foam at the mouth with delight as yet another public figure cheats on its spouse or shoplifts a Mars Bar.

Imagine for a moment how it would feel to be similarly targeted – unable to leave the house for fear of appearing on next week’s cover of ‘Sucked In’ with grubby toenails and a nipple poking out? Surely, if you’re a performer, the general public only has the right to criticise your performance if they’ve actually paid for tickets to see it? Would it be worth giving up rights to having a life?

But hark! There’s a rustle in the hedgerow once again, and it looks like I’m confined to the house for the day. Looks like the world IS all about me after all – and everybody else wants a piece of it …

.oOo.

Honk if you’re a proper wally …

Contrary to popular belief, road rage is not caused merely because people are psychotic. It’s because of those little stickers they put on their cars.

Ordinary people who have a life – the kind who look upon their vehicles as useful for getting to work and home again – have a dealer sticker on the back. It tells where they bought the car. If you get stuck behind them in traffic, you merely think (with a vaguely interested air about you), ‘Oh … they bought that in Danglewillee …’ And that’s about all you think. The lights change and off you go – everybody’s happy in lala land.

But there are other drivers who cause feelings of considerable angst. In these instances, it does not help one bit that my morning got off to a hideous start when my porridge exploded in the microwave. Nor does it help that the gene responsible for finding the funny side of bumper sticker humour seems to have bypassed me. Several times since I woke up.

For instance … Mum’s Taxi. Sorry? Did the brains trust who thought of this little gem really think it was funny? When you come across it (and you most certainly will), have a close look at the Mum in situ. Now do you get it? Imagine the excitement this woman felt, sticking that cute yellow diamond proudly to the back window of the Tarago? The pleasure derived in finding meaning in her meagre existence. ‘I am the driver of Mum’s Taxi! I am the proud  purveyor of Shane to his footy practice and Breeeearne to physical culture. Therefore, I am!’ After analysing this sad fact, I almost wish I knew where to buy one. Not.

Then there’s that perennial shocker – Baby on Board. Please. It makes you want to ram straight up the back of it. What else is in the car? Why doesn’t the woman also advertise she’s carrying a snot-encrusted four-year-old, an aged pensioner sucking on a Mintie and has a deceased gerbil in a shoebox in the glove compartment? Somebody once tried to explain the reason for Baby on Board. Very patiently too, because I’m obviously a few seats short of a carload and unable to grasp the logic behind the innovation. Apparently, in case of accident, the rescue lads will know to look for a baby. Hey … clever! But what if the baby was left at home that day? What if the ambos are so busy looking for a non-existent baby they fail to notice the pensioner squeezed up under the back seat, having choked to death on the Mintie? What if the sticker is 12 years out of date and the baby in question is now at high school, having a quick smoke behind the bike shed – oblivious to the fact searchers are looking for him in vain, expecting him to be wearing Huggies?

For the cool dudes in their souped up Toranas, there are stickers of a far more intellectual bent. Such as, If it’s rockin’, don’t bother knockin’. Why not? I can’t imagine anything more entertaining! It’s like an open invitation, even. Anyway, they’re kidding themselves. If it’s rockin’, it’s most likely to be because it only has three wheels and there are half a dozen likely lads mooning out of the rear passenger window. Similarly, Don’t laugh mate – your daughter’s inside. I think not. These days, your daughter is far more likely to be driving it. She probably modified it herself, has hairy armpits and spiders tattooed up her back.

But if you’re not a Dumb Mum or a Hot Young Thang, there are the environmental stickers such as Save the ozone layer, and Have mercy on the ecosystem. If you are serious, the only place these have any business being are on the back of a bicycle. Sticking them on anything with an exhaust pipe is making yourself look like a moron. An oxymoron. Driving around pumping fumes into the atmosphere ain’t saving anything, bucko. Especially not the sanity of the people behind you, who have Danglewillee Prestige Motors stuck on the back window of the family Commodore.

The sticker I really like simply says, Magic Happens. It’s a hologram, and the colours change as the sun hits it so you really feel anything’s possible and there’s something to be optimistic about after all. Everybody may well think you are a wanker, but you don’t care because you also have a penchant for purple socks and the happy feeling maybe tomorrow’s porridge is going to be perfect.

 And of course, there’s a moral to this story. You don’t let pensioners eat Minties in the back of your car …

.oOo.

Loneliness of the long distance shed man …

Look in a man’s shed and his whole life flashes before you. His triumphs, his experimentation and his spectacular failures. From the wheels off his first trike to the latest high-tech gizmo for blowing leaves off the driveway – it’s all there. And every little nut and bolt tells a story.

Why do men keep jam jars full of rusted nails and screws? They’re never going to use them. When they start a new project they rub their hands together with glee and head straight down to Bunnings to proudly acquire a box of shiny new ones. This is part of the fun of home-handymanism. They wouldn’t dream of using some old 1940s nails on their new matching-shelf-and-whatnot-extender. Or on anything else, for that matter.

Every now and then, when there’s nothing to watch on the telly and everyone’s on his back, a dedicated Shed Man will give his things a ‘clear out’.  This means the little jars of nails and screws get shuffled around on the shelf. It’s Shed Man’s version of getting it sorted. Sometimes the jars get new sticky labels which say ‘nails’ and ‘screws’. But they never get thrown out. A real legitimate Shed Man will have at least 100 little jars. These used to hold the baby food consumed by his first child. That child now has children of his own.

There will also be tins of paint. None of these are any good because they dried up in 1963. There is half an inch of rubberised gloop in the bottom of each. Full of rust specks. You also have to bear in mind the sad truth nobody will ever want to paint anything Psycho Orange again – even though Shed Man  is just waiting for the day.

Sometimes, there are car parts. They will never see the inside of another car – unless it’s on their way to the tip, which it won’t be. Shed Man keeps them in case he bumps into someone at Bunnings one day who just happens to be looking for a crankshaft for a 1934 Crapmobile. Then he’ll be able to say he has one.

There are jars of things which even Shed Man himself won’t be able to identify. He won’t be able to tell you where he got them, but you can guess. They have been passed down through his own family – from Neanderthal Shed Man to Pre-War Shed Man. In turn, he’ll pass them to your son. Or your daughter’s hapless husband. This is why you never find jars of strange objects if you go scavenging at the tip.

The remains of every toaster you’ve ever blown up will be somewhere in that shed. Remember how he took it out there that morning when the raisin bread caused it to fizz and spark and ignite the Psycho Orange curtains? Sadly, it never came back. That incident, unhappily for Shed Man, culminated in a trip to Kmart instead. Ditto the dilemma with the electric jug, hair dryer and a range of battery operated kids’ toys which you’ll find in the Too Hard Basket under the rear workbench.

Be honest, though – you didn’t want all that stuff back, did you? They had little labels glued on them which said ‘Must only be opened by a qualified repairman.’ It’s the sign of a dedicated Shed Man that he thinks he is one.

Gone are the good old days when he could pop down to NostalgiaWorld and buy a new element for that jug. He could proudly screw it in and bear it back, triumphant, to the kitchen for the little woman to sigh over. His family relied on him to be Mr Fixit.

The disposable age has seen the demise of the effective Shed Man. Appliances have a life span of a couple of years before it’s time for that trip to Kmart again. On any given Saturday morning, the aisles are bursting with despondent Shed Men, replacing toasters, jugs and clock radios and shuffling along behind their womenfolk bearing a sense of personal failure.

Which is a right shame. Your lovely Shed Man has enough stuff at home in that shed to build a 1934 Crapmobile from scratch. And quite possibly just enough paint to finish it off with two coats of rust-flecked Psycho Orange …

.oOo.

 

Lies, excuses and are you taking the piss …

We start making excuses the minute we’re born. And why not? Being born is not our fault. It’s the consequence of someone else’s actions. Therefore, nothing we do after this point is directly our fault – and don’t we know it!

Kids discover pretty quickly you can blame the dog for the wet patch on the carpet or the mutilated copy of Chow Down which your Mum hasn’t read yet. It might be harder to explain the crayon marks on the walls, but if you have a dog with attitude you can fake it.

 It’s wise to remember – only ever admit to that which might bring praise upon you. This is why fathers say, ‘YOUR son’ when Rocco is expelled from school and ‘MY son’ when he’s opening the batting for Straya.

If you’re really intuitive you will be able to read between the lines of just about any excuse and be able to substitute the correct information automatically. To start you off on the road to sniffing out honesty and integrity amongst your family, friends and colleagues, here are some hints for use when dealing with various demographics.

Schoolkids – ‘The dog ate my homework.’ If you are a teacher there’s no way you can swallow this. The dog didn’t, either. The correct information is; ‘I didn’t do my homework because I was playing Rabid Hamsters from Zeron. I was on Level 10 and couldn’t give an arse about your poxy algorithms. There is every probability I won’t ever give an arse, so please don’t ask again.’

Workmate – ‘The alarm clock didn’t go off.’ Truth: ‘Last night I was SO out of it. Got home around 5am and couldn’t stop throwing up. I’ve got this itchy rash and feel crook as. I’ll have some coffee and a fag before I go to the clinic.  I haven’t the faintest idea who I woke up with either. He was still unconscious when I left and his head was in a brown paper bag.’

Housewives – ‘I’ve got a headache.’ This is a given. It doesn’t even matter what the truth is – men haven’t the remotest business arguing with it.

Politicians – ‘At the end of the day …’ Stop right there. Everybody knows at the end of the day the truth won’t even linger momentarily in the realms of probability – or even in the same stratosphere. The only decent out for these people is to keep their mouths shut, never say anything again and pray they can collect humungous superannuation early and move to a country where nobody has ever heard of them and they can start a new life. Preferably under witness protection.

Shop assistants – ‘We’ve only got what you can see on the shelves.’ This is SO crap. They’ve got other stuff too, in those big drawers down the bottom. Check them out yourself next time. There is even more stuff out the back, probably in 30 different colours and sizes – but there’s no way they’re going to go look for it. It says in the induction manual the correct response to most queries is, ‘We’ve only got what you can see on the shelves,’ and they’re sticking to it with murderous tenacity. Doing more would be showing initiative. Having initiative would mean they’d be employed as rocket scientists and you wouldn’t have had to wrangle with them in the underwear aisle of Fatfittings in the first place.

Used car salesmen – ‘It’s a tidy little unit.’ Which part? The rear passenger ashtray? A tidy little unit means the detailer did a brilliant job. The mud has been hosed out of the wheelguards and there is fresh gaffer tape over the rips in the upholstery. Don’t you dare go there.

Real estate agent – ‘It’s a nice, quiet neighbourhood.’ Yep. Lucky your inspection is during school hours. He’s hoping the hell you’ll hurry up and check the place out before the 2pm booze bus from the local pub drops off the old dears in nubbly orange cardigans who’ve been out playing the pokies and getting off their faces on gin and lemonade. And Lord help him if the paddy wagon turns up with the tossers from No.9 who’ve been away on weekend detention.

Now you’ll have to excuse me. I’m doing lunch at the Savoy and the plane leaves for London at 3pm. Not.

But I do have to check in with my parole officer and work out who the hell is lying on my bedroom floor with his head in a brown paper bag.

.oOo.

Dial 9 after the beep to go barking mad …

The Warrior Queen – and this is the truth – was once caught bending over a freezer in Food-o-rama saying; ‘Hello little peas … do I need you?’ She didn’t know I was behind her and heard – and to this day, doesn’t actually believe she did it. But the fun is being taken out of fronting up at grocery stores – and indeed, with enjoying a bit of tele-biffo when trying to get something organised over the phone.

Like me, The WQ isn’t a fan of making phone calls. Not so long ago, she had to contact an insurance company for some information on renewing a policy. They had one of those phone systems whereby you can talk to the handpiece but the handpiece ain’t listening – because they’ve sacked the roomful of happy telephonists they used to employ. Instead, they have a recorded voice to do the business for them. It makes them feel good a bit of money is being saved on all those girlies sitting around dunking digestives in milky tea and applying their nail varnish in between calls. Couldn’t have that, because it might reek of customer service.

Anyway, the WQ’s particular machine told her to press 3 after the beep if she wanted to talk about insurance. Which she did. If she’d wanted to talk about hiring a gigolo she would have phoned BadLads-R-Us. There followed an indeterminable wait, in which awful music was played. The WQ sat back patiently and fondly remembered riding in elevators in the fifties.

After what seemed like forever but was probably only about an hour or two, an electronic voice butted in to thank her for waiting patiently.

‘You’re welcome,’ said the WQ. So they played some advertisements, advertising themselves.  And their fast, competent, personalised telephone service. By the time the voice came back, the WQ was feeling a little peeved.

‘I’m starving,’ she told it. It didn’t seem to care. Instead, she was treated to another series of numbers, from which she was invited to make a choice, depending on the make of car she was interested in attempting to insure. The next time the voice came back, she said, ‘I’ll be a skeleton by the time anyone answers.’ The music at the other end was turned up louder. ‘I need to have something to eat soon,’ the WQ said crossly. ‘If I’m dead, I won’t need the car insured, will I?’

A Barry Manilow song came on. It was the last straw. ‘Sod you, then,’ the WQ said, hanging up and calling it a day for the year.

Which begs the question – how much business is being lost by these companies because the great unwashed won’t deal with machines? You never actually get to find out whether the service is going to be any good or not. There’s never anything human on the other end of the line to tell you.

What price have we paid for our autoteller machines? At least if you walk into a bank, the girl behind the counter doesn’t chew your card up the third time you forget your number. Sure, she might chew gum and you might have a long wait in the queue – but when you finally get there, that girl’s not just another unemployment statistic.

They try to justify unemployment by saying the technological age has spawned a whole new range of jobs. Jobs we hadn’t even heard of 50 years ago. Like being the person who records the electronic voice on answering machines. Or the person who unlocks autotellers and retrieves the sad little pile of chewed up cards left inside (most of them my son’s). And what happens when finally we all turn on our computers to do our grocery shopping electronically? No more fun trips to the mall. No more trolleys with uncoordinated castors. No more waiting in the 8-items-or-die queue behind the thick arser with two months’ supply of goodies for the Australian Army’s next bivouac. You won’t be able to feel the packet to check the biscuits aren’t broken. Or check the use-by date of anything. Or be dragged, screaming, 50 metres across the car park in front of an oncoming bus with your knickers showing when your rogue trolley hits an unexpected speedhump on the way back to your car.

Saddest of all, the WQ will no longer be able to converse with icebound vegetables or assure them of their necessity to her wellbeing and happiness. All the excitement will have gone from life. Those little daily adventures in which we interact with other living things – including moribund broccoli florets – will have been wrested savagely from our sorry lives in the interest of progress.

Was it worth it, we will ask ourselves, as we are reduced to gibbering idiots reaching for the phone to call Lifeline.

‘Dial 1 after the beep,’ it will sonorously intone, ‘if you’re just mildly pissed off. Dial 9 if you’re totally, barking mad …’

.oOo.

Please let me come with you next time, Nigel …

            This is really a thank you to Jonathan Boakes – a writer of computer games which are so brilliant and so frightening you get the feeling  it’s never going to be safe to sit your arse in front of a computer again. The latest of these is a ghosthunting adventure, in which your new bestie, Nigel, is going to have to solve some spooky derring-do which is going down in a charming Cornish fishing village.

            Nigel is just lovely. He has suitably shambolic clothing, with the hems of his jeans  authentically scuffed – and he wears glasses. I like a man who wears glasses. (Will he make more passes?)  I especially like Nigel because he has no intention of listening to me when I beg him not to go somewhere. He has steel and determination. I like that in a man, too.

            When Nigel arrives in the aforementioned village and finds the only available accommodation (surprise!) is a derelict waterfront cottage, anybody with less steel and determination would have gone home. Especially as villagers were making cryptic comments such as; ‘ooh, the fens, lad!’ and suggesting Nigel’s new place of residence might be a bit suss altogether. Because Nigel didn’t seem fazed by any of this, I attempted walking him back through the fens t’railway … but the bugger wouldn’t go. He informed me he had ‘things to do in the village’.  He also kept shrugging and saying, ‘Nothing ventured …’ Well, Nigel – if you really must.

             I generally like to have the lights off when I play creepy stuff on the computer. Mistake. If you don’t mind crapping yourself, be my guest – but I’m ashamed to say I had to do a dash through the house flicking on every available light and making sure the doors were double-locked. Even kicked the fridge a few times to make it hum.  When I got back to the computer, wouldn’t you know it, Nige was patiently standing there waiting for me. He suggested we might like to do a recce of the museum at night. Excuse me? Could we not just go to bed? I tried double-clicking him onto his bed, but no cigar. Nige insisted he couldn’t possibly sleep until he’d stuck his nose into some more awful stuff which really wasn’t any of his business. Oh, okay then. Let’s break into the museum, virtually crap ourselves, and THEN can we go home to bed? Oh no we don’t. After the museum thing, Nige decided we really ought to take our sorry arses to the cemetery. As you do. *sigh* Nothing ventured …

            All this was pretty horrifying and heart-hammeringly ghastly – but there was far worse to come. I finally managed to double-click Nige to sleep (he had the most gorgeous eyelashes) – and was rather hoping that would be the end of it and we’d somehow get through until morning without further unpleasantness. Ah … no. I don’t think Nige got much sleep before he was awakened by a terrible thumping coming from downstairs. I clicked like mad, trying to make him stay put and just ignore it. But my man of steel and determination (with glasses) was having none of that, either. We had to creep down the darkened stairs, into the darkened passage, where the bathroom door (which had previously been open), was now closed. This is where the thumping was coming from – and naturally, my man couldn’t stay away! He informed me he was going to look through the keyhole. THAT was when I crapped myself. And having seen something ghastly pass across the room on the other side, naturally Nige then had to go in. With moi, of course. I can’t begin to describe how horrible it was. That would be telling.

            A nice part of the game (it’s always about the food) was that Nigel’s landlady felt pretty crap about making him stay in a horrible, haunted cottage with an unusable kitchen – and had organised with a local cafe for him to eat there whenever he pleased. Naturally (because it IS all about the food), I made Nige go in and out of the cafe as often as possible just so’s I could click in his inventory to see what he’d scored. Sometimes there was excellent booty, such as big wodges of chicken and mushroom pie. Or nice iced cakes. Or vegetarian samosas, even! After a while (or a few whiles, anyway), Nige only managed to score a stale lump of bread. (That’s when I realised I was seriously pissing him off, and I’d better let him get back to the ghostbusting.)

            So, PLEASE, Mr Boakes, can Nige go on another incredible adventure soonest? And can I come too? That game was the most fun I’ve ever had on a computer without a credit card and the Gluttons-R-Us website open in front of me. I can hardly wait for the next time!

            What was that, Nigel? Yeah, I know. Nothing ventured …

.oOo.