Monthly Archives: January 2010

Berets and trench coats are fashionable these days

For me the acronym DIY conjures up visions of Frank Spencer, gurning his best Frank Spencer gurn, scurrying away from smoking rubble while Dave the barman from Minder shakes his fist and a piccolo solo plays.

You see, I have a dripping tap. I should be able to fix something like this without invoking the spirit of Mario, but so far I’ve avoided getting my hands too dirty in household maintenance. This is what you get for renting all your life. No, not that kind of renting.

Right, what do I do? My first thought: I suppose I need ingredients, like tools and some flavour of washer. I inspect my drawer of things – mainly packs of post-it notes, elastic bands, and flotsam and jetsam hoarded from random packaging, and all of only marginal use when repairing a dripping tap. It’s true that one section of the drawer is devoted to assorted screwdrivers, but that’s it; I feel uneasy that I haven’t yet accumulated multicoloured plastic cabinets brim-full of categorised pointy things in a dedicated room for my handyman antics. I should, at the very least, own a spanner.

OK. I suppose I should go to a hardware store. Hmm. Do they even exist outside of The Two Ronnies? No, I should not like four candles, I should very much prefer two washers. And a spanner. Or do I have to buy a specific tool, some kind of tap delouser the knowledge of which was supposed to osmose magically into my head during my difficult teenage years?

I google dripping taps. Ah, there are videos narrated by bored women. Yes, I should turn off the water, I can probably do that: one of the 18,000 cupboard-based taps I seem to have is undoubtedly the correct one. I can even label it with a post-it note, thus justifying the existence of my entire drawer of things.

However, just in case, I practise my Oliver Hardy expression: the one he does when he looks down the end of a hose and Stan turns the tap on, causing Ollie’s bowler to spin twenty yards into a 1930s pram which plummets down some steps into a 1930s eight-lane freeway where James Finlayson narrowly avoids hitting it by driving into a 1930s lake and going d’oooh!

Ever the optimist I can see where it’ll all go wrong. Every time the bored woman on the video says “simply”, that’s where it’ll go wrong. “Simply pop the top of the tap off to access the screw.” Translation: “Simply slice the tip of your index finger off with a slip of your tap delouser and bleed vigorously into the handy sink below.”

Actually, you know, maybe I’ll just move. Yes, that’s a better idea. Like Bruce Banner leaving town after his inner green has had a bit of a barney with the locals. WHY NOT SINK HAVE MIXER? HULK BURN FREEZE BURN FREEZE WITH TWO TAP. HULK SMASH! Taxi! Cue doleful music!

No, it has to be done. I visit Nasreen Dar, Purveyors of All Known Tat, wherein I find two different types of washer. More lore passed from generation to generation through secret rituals I skipped while hacking Jet Set Willy. I buy some black, rubbery items labelled “tap washers.” Disturbingly they also have a size. Wait… so I’m supposed to take my tap apart and measure the size of the poorly washer first? Is this some kind of sick joke? Isn’t there any API documentation I can skim?

This is all doomed. Now the tap has stopped dripping – undoubtedly an ominous sign. I’ll just ignore it I think, yes, that’s best. Hmm. I can hear music. Sounds a bit like a piccolo.



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Avaragado’s 2010 predictions: bonus ball

Astrology is, of course, bunkum. However, my mum has furnished me with the following prediction – precisely tailored for me and the millions of others born between two arbitrary dates – from the pages of, I imagine, the Daily Express.

Despite a slow beginning to the year, career matters pick up speed in mid-January.  From then on, there’s no looking back.  The eclipses in January and June target your work ambitions and point to important changes on the horizon.  What you’ll be looking for in 2010 is quality not quantity and by mid-year you could reach a watershed period in your life when you’ll want to take stock.  As revolutionary Uranus stimulates your curiosity for matters unconventional, you will be drawn to subjects that have fascinated you for years.  Whether it’s developing your own website, going freelance, learning about alternative healing or immersing yourself in research, as long as you watch your finances in April and May, what begins with small steps this year could well become a giant – and lucrative – leap into a successful new career.

I’m crossing my fingers.


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Avaragado’s 2010 predictions

To make this year’s predictions I watched a few episodes of the little-known 1980s Jimmy Perry sitcom Oh, Doctor I Ching! (starring Paul Shane made up as a nineteenth century Chinese fortune-teller from Rotherham) and matched the patterns generated from the resulting vomit to the wallpaper in John Lewis. Then, treating the price of each roll of wallpaper as a page number, I wrote down the first letter on each corresponding page of Dan Brown’s latest magnum o’pus The Lost Symbol (discarding the inevitable second wave of vomiting this induced). I used this sequence of gibberish (the letters, not the book) as the identifier part of the URL for a YouTube video: this turned out to be a montage of lolcat images set to a Rick Astley track. Playing this track backwards at half-speed revealed the address of a milliners in Covent Garden, wherein an elderly lady whisked me through a secret door to a spiral staircase leading to a disused underground station. Here the King of the Rats welcomed me with a garland of cigarette butts and his Rat Army carried me aloft to the Rat Parliament (changing at Leicester Square). The secrets revealed to me there by the Prime Ministrat were world-shattering and scandalous but ultimately all about rats so I just knocked up any old rubbish as usual and here it is.

The Oscars

  • Best Actor: Colin Firth, A Single Man
  • Best Actress: Meryl Streep, Julie and Julia
  • Best Original Screenplay: District 9
  • Best Director: James Cameron, Avatar
  • Best Picture: Up in the Air

UK General Election

  • The election takes place on March 25th
  • Predicted share: Con 39%, Lab 32%, Lib Dem 21%
  • Predicted seats: Con 296, Lab 267, Lib Dem 56
  • A Green party MP is elected
  • Esther Rantzen wins Luton South


  • ITV closes down ITV3 and ITV4 to save money
  • Britain’s Got Talent contestants include a trio of drag artistes collectively known as The Fleurettes
  • Robbie Williams rejoins Take That for at least one concert
  • The final UK Big Brother is won by a lesbian


  • The Large Hadron Collider does not find the Higgs Boson this year
  • Exoplanet GJ 1214b is confirmed as a water ocean planet with an atmosphere


  • Winter Olympics: Great Britain win one gold medal, one silver medal and zero bronze medals
  • World Cup semi-finalists (in no particular order): England, Brazil, Denmark, Argentina
  • Cambridge win the University Boat Race
  • Andy Murray wins a grand slam singles tournament
  • A fatal accident occurs during the construction of Olympic Park in Stratford

Celebrity Deathwatch

  • The Duke of Edinburgh
  • Jimmy Young
  • Jimmy Saville
  • James Garner
  • Lady Gaga
  • Ian Paisley


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The main news again

To begin the glorious decade nobody in their cotton-pickin’ mind is calling the unities, I present a brief but cryptic summary of my noughties. Worthless prizes if you understand them all.

  • Employed, redundant, freelance, employed, (employed), employed, redundant, freelance, employed.
  • Sciatica, gallstones, glandular fever.
  • Alpe D’Huez, Courchevel, Co. Kerry, Chamonix, Malta, Verbier, Agde, Les Arcs, (Frankfurt), Rome, (Hong Kong), La Plagne, Las Vegas, Les Arcs, Rimini, Dublin, Andalucia, Gibraltar, Tuscany.
  • Practical Guide to Making Money on the Mobile Internet. Detox Your World, Evie’s Kitchen. Raw Magic. Ecstatic Beings.
  • One, briefly.
  • One, surprisingly.
  • Two.
  • 572.
  • 1,213.
  • 8,182.

Incidentally: it’s twenty-ten, and the tens. Yes it is. Because I say so.


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