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» Lucky Escapes

Suburban spelunky
As the eldest and best child, I had the attic room at my parents' place. It had big velux windows that offered a splendid view over the sunken garden at the back of the house, and meant I could smoke crafty jazz fags without alerting my elders and betters.

Being the super-rebellious punk fan I was, my pride and joy was an ashtray I'd made by nicking a 7" Simply Red single and dunking it in boiling water before squishing it between two breakfast bowls. I called it 'Flick Hucknall'. Sophisticated and ironic, the ladies, my suave self imagined, wouldn't stand a chance when faced with such awesome art/terror.

Emptying the ashtray out the window one night, the jam-jar base came unstuck and my prized posession clattered eight feet down the roof tiles before getting caught in the gutter. Gulp. Although my parents would never see it if it stayed there, the wind would likely send it spinning into the back garden where the 'rents could cop a glance meaning I'd be i) done for nicking/ruining a 'perfectly good' single ii) done for smoking in the house. I needed to get it back then and there.

Several McGuyver-style aerial lead and coathanger contrivances later, and Flick Hucknall was still resolutely stuck - I could hook it, but the leading edges of the tiles made it impossible to pull it back up. There was nothing for it, I'd have to climb down.

I looked out the window again. Eight feet to the gutter. Four storeys down.

Now, I wasn't totally stupid - I knew climbing out there with no rope was a fool's errand, so using my superior intellect, I reasoned that a 20-foot aerial cable would do the job admirably. I lashed one end around an exposed beam, tied the other end round my waist and climbed out the window.

The descent, inch by inch, would be the second-longest three minutes of my life. The roof offered little or no purchase, so it must have been sheer terror that held me on. I reached the ashtray, stuck it in my back pocket and, splayed like a hand under an opportune bottom, I began to ascend. Perversely, this was better than the descent - I was now moving in the right direction. Hurrah!

The cable stretched and I slid four feet backward.

Had our neighbours been listening at open window, they would have surely heard the high, keening whistle that emerged from my bottom as I abandoned sense, pulled hard on the cable and tried cover the remaining distance before my bumrocket power gave out and gravity realised what I was up to. I cleared the windowledge and crashed gratefully onto my bedroom floor.

I was subsequently bollocked for 'making a loud noise'. I didn't mind.
(Tue 9th Jul 2013, 17:13, More)

» Dad stories

Laughter is the best medicine
Helping father clear up autumn leaves in back garden. Father leans rake against swings to free up hands for holding binbag. Unawares, son takes step forward and receives a MIGHTY RAKESPANG! to the side of the head. Son goes down like he's been halfbricked. Son wakes up to see father crying. 'It's ok dad, I'm not dead,' son reassures. Unnecessarily for Father is crying with laughter.

Length? A lifetime of schadenfreude.
(Thu 25th Nov 2010, 12:31, More)

» Self-Inflicted injuries

Ricochet
English being the only subject at secondary school that I felt remotely confident in, I used those precious hours to break out of my uber-nerd persona and become the very epitome of cool.

At least, that's how it seemed to me as I leaned my chair back to put my feet up on my desk in what must surely have been the coolest move since Fonzie invented the double thumbs up during a particularly surprising sexual encounter. Everyone would doubtless be blown away by my relaxed, easygoing charm and staggering physical ability in keeping the front two legs of my chair suspended inches above the dusty parquet.

As those who hadn't turned up for class distressingly, swottily early (i.e. everyone but me) started to file into the room, I let my head loll backward to show just them how much I didn't care.

Just as, no doubt, every girl in the room immediately became aware of my disdainful brilliance, the light caught my eye and my sinuses twinged - just - so.

Sucking up air with the force of a Rolls Royce turbine, I launched forward into a titanic sneeze, folding in half like some kind of demonic castanet and double-kneeing my forehead with laser precision.

Ricocheting back from my powerful patella-prangs, I reeled backward, flailing arms and teetering in space as I reached, then inched past the point of balance as the chair arced on its two spindly metal legs.

I went over, cracking my head on a bookshelf and then collapsing in an angular, twisted heap on the floor, the chair perched delicately atop like some kind of idiot-garnish.

The silence that rushed in was just as quickly dispelled by a gale of laughter.

I resisted the urge to get up and shout 'taa-daa', and settled for covering my beetroot face with my crashingly unfashionable curtain haircut.

Length? Just below the ears.
(Thu 28th Nov 2013, 17:50, More)

» Dad stories

Watched too much Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles..
...as a seven-year-old, and decided that I wanted to eat a chocolate spread and marshmallow pizza. After somehow persuading mum to buy the bases and ingredients, she went out for the evening leaving my dad 'in charge' of proceedings.

Little sister (all of five) and I rarely played well together at that age, so we huffily made one massive gooey chocolate aberration each, secretly rapt by the fact that we'd each managed to get that much glorious chocolate into a single meal.

Now we had two (uncooked) nine-inch pizzas, smeared in Nutella, and then generously topped with big, fluffy, marshmallows. Clearly dazed by the fact that he'd been left in charge, and horrified by what his children had created, we were then told in calm clear tones that would would not be allowed to leave the table until we'd finished what we'd made. He wanted us to eat a pizza each.

The next half an hour passed in a spinny, vomit-inducing terror of sugar, tears and plaintive cries. Both sister and I were slumped over the table covered in frothy sugar-barf by the time he came to his senses and whipped us upstairs for an emergency bath before mum got home.

I still can't eat marshmallows.
(Mon 29th Nov 2010, 15:09, More)

» Airport Stories

Salaryman slap
/unlurk

For those of you who've been to Tokyo, you'll know just how immense Narita Airport is.I've turned up three hours early for my flight to Sydney just to make sure that all runs smoothly. Imagine my distress when I get to the aircraft-hangar sized check in lounge to discover that the baggage handlers are on strike and there are queues running the length of the place.

After enduring two hours of having my ankles rammed by small children with luggage trollies, I made it to customs only to find yet another monstrous queue waiting to entrap me. Another 45 minutes later and I'm sweating with worry that I'll miss my (due to leave in 15 mins) flight.

Anyway, two nice Belgian chaps let me jump to the front, the passport is duly stamped, and I'm off across the departure lounge like a rabbit fired from a grenade launcher. Three hours of constant caffination provide me with the speed and agility of a greased cat as I bob and weave through the crowd toward my gate.

This all suddenly goes into slow motion as my fashionably 'phat' trainer sails from my foot on its upswing and arcs across the lounge at mach 2 and then connects with the back of a Japanese salaryman's head with a satisfying 'thwok'.

He was angry. I bowed and scraped like a peasant (cunningly sweeping up my trainer at the same time) and legged it for the gate with enraged shouty salaryman in tow. At this point I'm fully expecting to be ritually decapitated. The air hostess at the gate looked at me like I was last week's airline dinner, but she still let me on the plane.

Karma was forthcoming though, I also lost my gameboy on that dash, forcing me to watch Ice Age six times in a row.

No apologies for length, you'll just have to stand further away.

/lurk
(Fri 3rd Mar 2006, 11:04, More)
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