Monday, 30 May 2011

Bucket List

Last night I watched the film Bucket List starring the ever-great Jack Nicholson and the always outstanding Morgan Freeman. For those of you that haven't seen this movie yet, I highly recommend it. The film follows the two characters Edward and Carter - Nicholson and Freeman respectively - as they set out to tick items off of their bucket list after having met in the hospital.

What's a bucket list? I hear you ask. A bucket list is of course a list of things that you want to do or accomplish before you die, or should I say Kick the Bucket!

This has gotten me to thinking of what I'd like to do to live what I can later look back on as having been a complete and fulfilled life. So, ladies and gents I give to you, in no particular order, the first draft of my own personal bucket list:

1. Visit America, particularly Florida, New York and California - A US tour would be ideal.

2. Visit Rome and to utter the phrase 'When in Rome' while there.

3. Go gliding (again).

4. Go to the Superbowl.

5. Go to Wrestlemania.

6. Cycle the length/width of the country.

7. Climb a great height.

8. Help someone out by peeing on their leg after they've been stung by jellyfish.

9. Meet Mick Foley and give him a hug.

10. Write a Book.

11. Become a published author.

12. Make the New York Times Bestsellers list.

13. Discuss the art of literature with Stephen King.

14. Have a Media Room in my house - a place to retreat to.

15. Have those little fish nibble at my feet.

16. Get a tattoo.

17. Read Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol at Christmas time.

18. Build a snowman that comes to life at night and aids me in walking in the air...

19. Ride in Santa's Sleigh.

20. Learn how to play the pia-pia-piano.

21. Perform a successful backflip.

22. Create a signature culinary masterpiece.

23. Celebrate a milestone birthday with a party that I can actually remember.

24. Be a film extra.

25. Ride the biggest roller coaster there is to ride - arguably this is life itself!

Ok, Ok, some of this is pretty silly, and there will be many other things that I will want to add and change to this list in the future as I continue to age and change as a person. Of course there's an obvious few missing from this list - those being to remain healthy, to have a happy family, and to have a successful career - but those are standard and the three staples of any bucket list... for most people anyway. There is also the factor to consider of that it took me about 5 minutes to write down this list, therefore it hasn't been well thought-out, which kind of makes it null and void. I guess you've all just wasted your time reading this. Poor you! Maybe you should all go out there instead of continuing to just sit there and tick some things off of your own bucket list!

Friday, 20 May 2011

Dreams of Torment

My dreams of the last week seem to be playing some kind of psychological game with me, like a gang of school bullies who've stolen my rucksack and are throwing it between each other, keeping it out of my reach. The first was on Saturday night, and left me in a bit of bad mood all day Sunday. The dream involved me receiving news that the job that I'd originally been turned down from had changed their minds and wanted to hire me. The job itself was a mesh - a hybrid - of all of the jobs that I've been to interviews for so far this year. The job that I was being hired for incorporated all of the good qualities from each of these realistically mundane roles and rolled them all up into one for me. It had the best pay, best location, best company benefits and best dress code! Lovely. I then woke up, and after a few seconds that harsh, gritty realisation that the job had been the fiction of my mind came crashing down around me in the bed. And there we have it, I was hard for poor old Stacey to get along with all day, because the job wasn't real and I felt like a failure for not actually possessing what was merely a figment of my unconcious imagination. Towards the end of the day I did manage to get over it - and myself - and cheered up.

Truth be told, my epic quest to gain full time employment has been put on hold for a couple of weeks, and with good reason. The good reason being that the light at the end of the tunnel, the finishing line is finally in sight... My degree is nearly complete! Yes, I am currently in the midst of my last ever assignment, and I can't wait to get past it. Not only will I be able to put that I am a graduate on my CV (which should bloody well help with the job hunt), but I also won't have to spend any more time trolling through textbooks and meeting deadlines on pure self motivation. I'm ever so close to the word count at the time of writing, after which I have only to edit and reference... Oh, and maybe send it off to Pete who wrote the same essay a year ago for a readthrough if he has time before my Thursday deadline (heads-up buddy!).

Elsewhere, there is some happy news on another job front, and that is that finally, after a total time of over a year racked up as a temp at her current job, Stacey has been awarded a permanent position! Congratulations are in order, she deserves it! Now if only I could catch up!


Last Saturday, Stacey and I visited France for the day along with friends Tam and Andrew. The main purpose for any Englishman to visit said country was fulfilled during the day as several bottles of alcoholic beverages were purchased for low-low prices. On the ferry I picked up a tasty bargain in the form of 48 bottles of Budweiser (King of Beers) for a meagre £20. I already had two bottles of the stuff at home, meaning that I was among other things in life, the proud owner of 50 bottles of Bud! It didn;t take long for me to drink one (48 hours to be exact), and I was then left with 49. I've made mention on here before of the mild form of OCD that I feel I suffer, and believe every single person to possess in some form, and Stacey, remembering this felt that I should drink another to take it down to an even 48 bottles. I surprised her though by replying with the fact that I think 49 is a nicer number than 48. I can't explain any reason or rationale for this, it's just the way I feel about those numbers... 49 > 48 afterall.

I also picked up 10 bottles of French Lager for €2.70 - another great deal - and we all bought plenty of wine and some cheese, making us stereotypical English in France. After our shopping trip, Stacey drove us to Dunqurke and we parked up for a walk around. We found a bar/restaurant and decided to stop for a drink and some food. The waitress that came to our table didn't speak English, and after a bit of a struggle, we managed to order our drinks. The girls ordered Pepsi, while Andrew and me ordered whatever the beer was, opting for the mammoth litre glasses. These glasses of beer were bigger than our heads, and needless to say we were pretty drunk after finishing. The funny thing about this place wasn't the fact that the beer came in such large quantities that you could get pissed from 1 glass, no, you see after our struggle to communcate our drinks order, the waitress whipped away our menus before we could attempt to tell her what we wanted to eat. When she went to get our drinks, I grabbed it back from the nearby bar where she had put it, but when she came back with our drinks, she actually snatched it from my hands and took it away again. We thought that maybe food wasn't being served at that time and that maybe she didn't know how to communicate that fact to us. We were wrong though, as other tables ordered and were served meals of their choosing. She obviously couldn't be bothered with us bloody English not speaking her language. A nearby McDonald's therefore served as the antidote to mine and Andrew's drunkedness, a Le Double Cheese soaking mine up for me.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

The Corruption of the Bean Market

I had planned to write a very different blog tonight from the one that you're about to read, a more standard blog. But, my friend and broski Tom Birch - to whom this blog is dedicated - alerted me to this very serious matter that must be addressed in some form. The baked bean industry it seems, could well be getting poured out of the frying pan, and into the flames!

The conversation began as I went out on a break to purchase a snack during work this evening. Browsing the snacks in the supermarket, I came across a new product - an event that always excites me, not matter what the product - A Pork Farms sausage roll featuring Branston Pickle. 'Yum' was my immediate thought, and I grabbed one and made my way happily to the self-service checkout. I returned to the store, clutching my prize, and as usual was asked by my colleagues for the shift - one of course being Tom, the other John - what I'd got. I showed them with glee my Branston injected sausage roll, to which John returned a look of disgust, apparently not being a fan of the stuff. Tom on the other hand seemed intrigued. It was then that Tom mentioned about how Branston make the best Baked Beans, 'Better than Heinz' he told me. I then mentioned one of those things in life that really grinds my gears, and that's when there's too much sauce in a tin of beans, referring to the other top bean brand Cross and Blackwell, who's beans we'd enjoyed in the Cooke household for years until last year when we noticed that with each tin, we'd suffer from more bean juice pouring out over our dinners. It had unfortunately gotten to the stage where the other month, we found that we were ridding ourselves of the sauce before baking the beans on the stove, and that when we did so, we were left with a mere, measly, meagre - some would say sickening - half a tin of beans. We no longer buy Cross and Blackwell beans, but rather, the supermarket own brand, or if they happen to be on offer that week, we go Heinz.

Upon telling Tom of this, he told me that Cross and Blackwell weren't the only offenders of the half-a-tin-of-sauce shenanigans. No, he told me that the budget beans, namely Sainsbury's Basics were also guilty of the same charge. Although to the defence of Sainsbury's, their Basics beans only cost around 5 pence, which is a tiny fraction compared to Cross and Blackwell. Even still, Tom then begged me a question: If they have to fill half the tin with the sauce to charge so little, then why don't they just produce tins half the size? Makes sense, as it would not only save on production costs to make the tins, but it would also save space in the warehouses, stores, and in the homes of the bean-loving public. It would also mean that those who buy these tins of beans would no longer have to sift out all that pesky sauce before the warming up process!

I agreed with Tom's more than valid point, and even provided an alternative. I mean, we don't want to tell these bean manufacturers to go to the fuss of producing smaller tins. For all we know, that could mean all kinds of paperwork for some poor schlep in an office somewhere. Therefore, my alternative is to raise the price a little then (only to what's fair) and put more beans in the tins again. I'd rather pay an extra few pence than end up with a soggy dinner when I forget to pour the sauce down the sink.

Whichever way you look at it, the bean world is in clear crisis! There's corruption afoot as far as my sources* tell me. I hope we can all stand together and fight the figurative giant that is the bean manufacturers (little Jack and the Beanstalk reference there for those that didn't notice). Who's with me?

If you've made it this far into the blog, I thank you for reading. I'll try and write the more conventional blog that I had originally planned to write and to which you have all become more accustomed to tomorrow. And Tom, I hope this is enough thanks for bringing me Chuck!

*Source: Tom Birch

Friday, 6 May 2011

Can't Catch Tomorrow

...yeah the haircut's hot, but this has gotta stop. Good shoes won't save you this time!

This job hunt is really becoming a complete and total bitch! Not only do I have to contend with the fact that I am younger than many a job seeker out there, and therefore am lacking in experience, but now the excuses are becoming absurd and ridiculous. Earlier this week I went along for yet another interview - My 5th of the year for those of you keeping count - and although the interviewer for this company was rather hard read, a fact I had been alerted to prior, I still thought things had gone relatively well... and they had. I got the phone call from the recruitment agency that had sent me there the following day, and was told that yes, indeed I had interviewed splendidly. I had presented myself well, looking dapper in my best suit, had spoken eloquently and given all of the correct answers. Unfortunately I wasn't being offered the job. Of course my immediate response was 'Why?', and the recruitment agent was almost embarrassed to inform me that it was because the man that had interviewed me felt that I was 'too nice'. That's right, I didn't get the job because apparently I'm too pleasant a person. They felt I would have been 'eaten alive'. You're probably all wondering now just what was this job doing - Prison Warden? Parking Warden? Bouncer? - None of the above, this job was in payroll. Now, I can understand that they may get some pretty irate clients phoning them up about pay, but I had assured them that I had dealt with much worse on a regular basis in my retail career. I guess all I can do is look at this as a blessing in disguise, as surely something much better can come along than working for a company whose name is similar to Maxipad!
Maybe I'm becoming impatient with wanting my life to move along a little. It's all just so frustrating!
In more lighthearted news, we had another long weekend this past week. The Royal Wedding gave cause for celebration a week ago, and a street party broke out in my neighbourhood, and then of course the Americans finally caught Osama Bin Laden. Quite the historic weekend then. In my world, the highlight would probably be a BBQ with a couple of friends on the Monday. At work, with the imminent release of The King's Speech - which I just enjoyed even more upon second viewing last night - we received a Colin Firth cardboard standee at the store. The problem was, this standee is life size, and whenever any of us were busy behind the counter, we would have this constant uncomfortable feeling that somebody was watching us. That someone was Colin. It got the stage in which Colin was used as a tool in terror, and would forever find himself lurking behind doors in a bid to scare the hell out of whoever happened to walk that way next. Thanks to Jason setting him up right behind the door at the top of some stairs, I nearly fell down said stairs, and that was after being warned by Jason that he was in fact hiding there. To gain a measure of revenge, I hid Colin behind the door that leads to the upstairs area from the shop floor. My not-so-cunning plan backfired like it was one of Baldrick's, as Jason didn't need to go upstairs for a few hours, and I ended up needing to go up there before he did... and stupidly I may have forgotten about hiding Colin there. Needless to say I fell backwards and screamed as soon as I opened the door, much to the hilarity of customers in the vicinity. At the request of the boss, Colin was to be gone from the store, so knowing how much Stacey's Mum likes Colin Firth, I took him to Stacey's where the hijinks have continued, as he actually intimidates everyone, not just us scaredy-cats at work.
Anyway, the job hunt continues, but at least for now I know that I've essentially got my interview technique down, even if I'm not mean enough. I'll catch tomorrow eventually, but for now I can enjoy today. I finish my degree in a few weeks with the submission of my final assessment, so I've got that to look ahead to. With that said, I've got a book to finish reading...