An Offer Not to be Sniffed At


I feel I’m missing out.

As predicted, all week I’ve been fighting off the lurgy. It had been jabbing me on the hooter, with the occasional left hook to the throat, to counter which I’d been ducking and weaving, and defending my body with linctus, Lemsip, Lockets and Lagavulin. But by Friday morning, standing in a packed compartment on the DLR, I realised that I’d succumbed to a nasty bout of, if not Swine Flu, certainly Man Flu. Yes, I had a rotten cold. Being the trooper I am, I made my way to the office, but after an hour of snotting and sneezing my way around the department, I threw the towel in and made the return journey home.

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I slipped into my favourite kitten-soft striped pjs and nice wooly bedsocks (well, cricket batting socks anyway), collapsed onto the sofa and under the duvet, remote control in hand and surrounded myself with jollop and tissues. Semi-content and semi-conscious, I settled down for an afternoon of all the crap my new cable service could throw at me. A quick flick through all 183 channels revealed that there was nothing decent anywhere on telly. No matter, I had all the stuff to watch which I’d recorded over the last couple of weeks. I had no mum around to mop my sweaty brow, but I did have lieutenant Columbo of the LAPD. A whole 4 episodes. 8 hours of recorded heaven. Comfort tv and a comfy pit in which to recuperate/feel sorry for myself. Trouble is, such was the heaviness of my cold, I soon nodded off only to be woken up at every advert break (which, of course, are several notches louder than the actual tv show). It was then I started worrying.

Or, to put it another way, I realised that I’m not been worrying enough!

As more ad breaks came and went it became clear to me that I’ve not been spending enough of my life worrying about cheaper car insurance. Like Twitter, Facebook and going to the gym, regularly comparing car insurance is obviously part of modern life that has passed me by. If the adverts which bombarded me that afternoon are to be believed, the nation is gripped by an ever-present fear that they’re paying too much for cover on their motor.

Confused dot com? I certainly am. You can apparently save yourself not only Pound££££££££££££££££s with Moneysupermarket.com but also minutessssssss of wasted insurance-buying hell if you go to Admiral.com (do you know about Admiral Multicar????) and during the seconds you’ve saved there, you can get yourself onto the VanInsurer.com to sort out your Transit. Yep, there’s a dedicated site for insuring vans too. Stephen Fry and Paul Merton lend their weight to Directline.com‘s campaign for car and home cover, while cheeky cockney builder from Ground Force, Tommy Walsh touts Direct‘s line in van protection. Sir Steve Redgrave used to dress up as an Admiral before they realised that as an actor, Sir Steve makes a great Olympic rower, and Vic Reeves used to be the voice of Churchill, before an unfortunate incident with a breathalyser. Ohhhh yus.

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Who are these people who spend their lives insuring stuff ? I’m clearly doing something wrong. Watch these ads and look at the sad, insurance-less faces of the sad old cows therein, quickly replaced by their look of ecstacy when they save themselves £17.50 cos their daughter’s have suddenly taught them how to work a mouse. Is this really a scene that takes place across the land?

I haven’t owned a motor for four years, since I shunted my old Rover up the arse of a parked car on a sliproad off the M25. But when I did have a car, I’m pretty sure I insured it when I bought it, then once a year I would open and close that letter which told me I should do nothing if I wanted to continue my policy for another year. Do nothing, what a wonderful phrase? That, to me, is worth pound££££££££££££££s of fucking around on a dull, dull website. “Mike, would you like to weave your way around the web, looking for the best deal on a van, or do nothing? ” Er…..?

Perhaps they are right and I am wrong (there’s always a first time)? Perhaps instead of tapping away talking to you I should be logged into Morethan to see if I can shave a fiver off what The Incumbent pays for her jam jar, though she seems about as bovvered as I am. She’s brighter than me, so doubtless she’s with Diamond or Sheila’s Wheels to benefit from the fact that she is indeed a Sheila. Perhaps Tommy Walsh does a discount for fat cockneys, as I don’t own a van.

I wonder who insured Columbo’s old Peugeot ? I bet Mrs C got him a good deal.

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Hard-boiled Eggs and Nuts


I had to go to work yesterday. I know that sounds like no big deal, but I had to go to work yesterday. I felt like shit—I was streaming and sweating, coughing and spluttering, couldn’t taste a thing and my hearing was on the fritz. It was the start of a rotten cold and what I should have done was worked from home. I should have done that, however I couldn’t: Yesterday was “Take your daughter to school day” and so I took my eldest into the office. Glad I did in the end cos it was great fun. I’ve done it several times before and it’s always been good. My daughter enjoyed it too I think, even though this time she asked me why I couldn’t work for NME as she has a subscription and “it’d be sooooo cooooolll to work there”. There was a time when whatever I did or said or wherever I worked was “sooo coooollll” but I guess my kids have reached that age when they can make up their own minds as to what they like.

I don't want you to drink, Mr Bond, I want you to diet!

I don't want you to drink, Mr Bond, I want you to diet!

Their unconditional belief in what I say has long gone. No longer do they believe daddy’s tall tales about being James Bond in his spare time (they believed that one for a month when they were nippers) or was dating Rachel Stevens (about a week), and I’ve gone from funny, exotic, cool daddy who lives in London, to the old, fat, bald bloke up the road. Such is the life of an estranged dad of teenage girls. Clever little sods.

In an attempt to sweat-out my cold last night I filled up with a cocktail of chilli con carne and Lemsip and took myself off for an early night. Should have plumped for the hot toddies: I feel dreadful today.

Like most blokes I know, I suffer in silence.

Thumping head, red-raw throat, sore, scabby nostrils and every muscle (sic) left in my body aching like buggery (apparently). Called in sick to the boss who unsurprisingly was unecstatic. Having taken many of these calls from staff over the years you’re torn between the annoyance of being a man down, and the relief that you’ll be spared a day of being covered in snot and germs from a colleague. On the other side of the fence, no matter how ill you are, there’s always the guilt to deal with of not being in work.

Anyway, enough of this martyr talk. What’s more important is I’m bored. REALLY bored. Having no energy to do anything much more than fester, I’m stuck on the sofa looking out at cornflower-blue sky outside, inanely tapping up and down the tv channels with as much chance of finding something interesting to watch as there is of me winning the London Marathon on Sunday. Which is another thing: Sunday’s marathon is one of my favourite days in the calender. But instead of propping up the bar at The Angerstein Hotel, Greenwich on Sunday morning, watching the runners jog by, I shall doubtless be pouring mucus into a box of Kleenex while sat on my couch in front of the box. Even if I manfully struggled down to the pub, I wouldn’t be able to taste my pint, and what’s the point of that?
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We’ve been trotting down en masse to The Angerstein (known as The Loony Bin—you’ll find out why when you meet the locals) to watch the Marathon for the last twelve years-or-so. Many of us to soak up the atmosphere of one of the Capital’s great occasions with world-class athletes, huge crowds, the fun-runners and all the colours of the rainbow. Some go down merely to watch the Elite Ladies sprint past, then return home to a warm bed (you know who you are), then there are those who go simply to celebrate the opening of a pub at 8.45 on a Sunday morning. So there’s something for everyone. There was something quite liberating that first year standing in The Loony, pint in hand, next to a copper before 9 o’clock in the morning and there was nothing he could do to stop me. It’s the little things in life that count. A fourteen-hour session of drinking, eating (?) and endless, pointless Jazz one-Sunday-in-fifty-two: that’s not too much to ask for, is it?

As the years rolled by and the various members of our group came and went as they got loved-up, engaged, married, divorced, deported etc, it’s a nice feeling to have been almost ever-present (to my dying shame I missed one year due to a business trip) and still experience the thrill of that first pint 3 hours before I should, copper or no-copper. It’s a boy thing.

But I suspect this year, due to my disabilitating illness, I’ll have to endure the dulcet tones of Steve Cram, Sue Barker et al as I’m forced to watch the race on the Beeb. I wonder if they’ll sober-up Brendan Foster for the occasion? Probably not—just to rub it in.

Go on, my girl!

Go on, my girl!