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since 07/06/2001


Member advice on Passing your Driving Theory Test 07/10/2001

Potentially a very boring opinion

Member advice on Passing your Driving Theory Test Miss Dutton-Taylor sat before me sporting her unusually large chin and attempting to intimidate me with disapproving looks. As she shook her head in disgust hypnotically swaying her Jimmy Hill/ Bruce Forsyth sized body part, I stifled a giggle that did not go unnoticed. It was at this point that I was advised not to return to Allerton Grange High to retake my A-levels and further to this, it was suggested that I take up a career in refuse collection (or something as intellectually challenging) and never darken the doors of another educational establishment. I really didn’t understand such sternness. Yes, I fell asleep during my Economics exam and was the only person in the hall, woken with a start by the enraged moderator with the paper stuck to my face. Yes, I decided to not read the questions in my English Literature exam and instead scribbled nonsensical quotes on the page from various sources that were more from episodes of ‘Blackadder’ than Shakespeare, but I thought this added to my value as a serious academic. Admittedly, my attendance was poor (when I could be bothered to tear myself away from Richard and Judy), my behaviour during lessons was questionable and my contributions to the subject matter were normally the hilarious use of sexual innuendo and funny voices whilst reading Jane Eyre. I really didn’t see what all the fuss was about until my Dad informed me that if I didn’t pass second time around, I would be abodeless, not ...

Member Advice on Break-ups 26/09/2001

Sex, violence and is all in here

Member Advice on Break-ups It was January the sixth, 1995 and I sat uncomfortably gazing into the teary eyes of the love of my life. As she sobbed and simultaneously tore my heart to shreds, I remained calm and stony faced, the full realisation of what had just happened not quite registering. I had been dumped. As she rattled on about how much she ‘liked’ me, how we would always be friends and that there would always be a special place in her heart for me, I calmly considered more important issues. Why my room smelled vaguely of horses, how many beers I could buy with the remains of my student loan and why my Psychology degree had not included a ‘how to tell if you are going to get dumped’ module. As she gave me a last teary look, she lost all her composure when I coolly advised her to leave, snorted under my breath and slammed the door in her face. I then proceeded to get on with my life fine, was better off without her and spent many carefree years sewing my young oats in a healthy and totally un-reboundy manner. THE END. Okay, not really. I was the one weeping. I blubbed unashamedly all over her, begging her to take me back, telling her I could change (without knowing what I had done wrong) and praying that this was just a bad dream. She was the one to hand me a tissue as my wails were carried throughout the neighbourhood and after blowing my nose and dumping the tear and snot-soaked Kleenex near my bin (to join the many others that I could never be bothered to ...

Philips SBCH S700 26/09/2001

Giving great head....phones

Philips SBCH S700 My dad was in the pub when I was born. The news of my disabilities was delivered to him through misty vision and Tetley breath and it never fully registered until a few days later. The many confused specialists (and a counsellor they later consulted) advised my parents to keep this information from me, to not allow this to affect my life for, in every other respect I was a normal baby boy. It seemed that the pub was a safe haven for my Dad, for it was there, on my eighteenth birthday, that the truth finally became apparent to me. The conversation had deteriorated over the evening and surreal Fatherly advice (the best way to skin a badger, how to have successful sex on a gravestone and crying, the manly way) had been replaced with melancholy and the subsequent bombshell droppage. ‘Son’, he slurred ‘I have something to tell you and I don’t want you to get upset’ I gulped hard and felt my pulse rise as my father took a lengthy swig (finishing off another pint) to calm his nerves. He belched hard and almost as an afterthought he said ‘You have a disproportionately large head and ear holes’. I laughed at first, in disbelief. Then decided to join my Dad in getting so thoroughly wrecked that I believed my Vic Reeves impressions were funny. My life carried on as normal in all ways but one. Headphones. Bloody headphones. Either I bought the ones that go over your head and had to wear them uncomfortably around the back of my neck (due ...

Member Advice on Pulling 23/09/2001

big earlobes CAN get you sex

Member Advice on Pulling I am the worst person to give advice on pulling really. I admit it. I tried it once, what seems like a very long time ago and the trauma I suffered as a consequence of making a total fool of myself destroyed all of my confidence when attempting to ‘chat up’ a member of the opposite sex. It was approaching that time in every young man’s life where certain urges had presented themselves. I was filled with both envy and admiration of my best friend who seemed to be able to walk confidently across the classroom, squeeze a girls breasts, flash a cheeky smile and end up with a date (or at the very least, have a tongue thrust down his ear for a bit). I, on the other hand, would have been collecting my teeth from the floor if such an attempt had been made. One day after Maths class, I had decided to approach a girl I had never spoken to, but had lusted after with the intensity only a sixteen year old could possess. I adjusted my tank top (the height of bad fashion, but practical according to my mother), covered my expanding bald spot with a length of greasy hair and tentatively approached the girl in question with all the grace and sophistication of three-legged rhino after a few gallons of White Lightning. I swallowed the tight knot of nerves lodged in my throat and advanced on my prey. She looked as dazzling as ever, even more so up close and my heavy sweating became a downpour as I fully realised what I was about to do. I nervously squeaked her name and ...

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - J.K. Rowling 22/09/2001

Time to stop being so grown up

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - J.K. Rowling When I was a young lad, I was fortunate enough to be regularly beaten up, teased and was in general extremely unpopular with the other children. Regularly excluded from games at playtime, socially snubbed for my aesthetically pleasing National Health specs and membership of the chess club, I found my haven in reading. I had a reading age of eighteen at the tender age of nine (the fact that I am now twenty-seven and still have a reading age of eighteen is of no consequence) and I ploughed through volumes of adult reading like an HB pencil through plasticine. Now, I choose to read only if my brain is taxed less than a student’s wages and the first book in the Harry Potter trilogy was an obvious choice. I discovered reading for fun, not study and for the first time in my life, I read a book from start to finish without the aid of my trusty pocket dictionary or nudging the Mrs constantly for definitions. This little classic concentrates on the life of a young orphan, Harry and his first year at Hogwart’s, a school for up-and-coming wizards. His life prior to this was one shared with the Muggles (the word used by wizards and witches for the majority of the populace without magical knowledge or ability), namely his Aunt, Uncle and their horrendously spoiled child, Dudley. His only living relatives were good enough to put a roof over his head (well, technically he lived for ten years in a cupboard under the stairs) and raise him in an environment without fun of ...

2001 - Dr. Dre 05/09/2001

An opinion unlikely to get many reads

2001 - Dr. Dre I’m just chillin’ in my hood, smoking dope and packing my three-eighty. I’m down with my posse, straight ballin’, drinking a forty ounce and pouring out a little liquor for my homies. I’m sending a shout out to my n***az that done time in the pen (twenty-five to life) for committing a one eight-seven on some five-o, nuff respect due. God, that really messed up my spell-checker. OK, in reality, I’m sitting in front of my computer, drinking Dr. Pepper and eating Ben and Jerry’s ice cream (caramel choo-choo). The only hood I know is the one on my jacket, the only bitch I know is my friend’s dog, Muffin and my only understanding of five-o is in the context of Hawaii. Sitting back and listening to Dr. Dre’s album, 2001, I become immersed in a world that is less fantasy than some of us may believe. As we sit, safe and sound in our homes avoiding prejudice, race riots, gang warfare and the seemingly lethal colours of red or blue (worn by rival gangs in L.A., the Crips and the Bloods). It’s nice to know that drive-by shootings are only things that happen a very long way away and that when we hear a helicopter fly overhead, the majority of the time it isn’t in search of a murderer. That is the world into which Dr. Dre (first name, Andre, not quite as enigmatic) hurls us headlong, mercilessly and still manages to create music that for fans like myself, still contain catchy vocals and addictively looped ...

Natural Breezes Plug-in Diffuser 03/09/2001

Subtle smell and a gadget aswell

Natural Breezes Plug-in Diffuser Deciding to sell our house was not an easy decision for the Mrs. And I. Putting it on the market was even harder. But mentally preparing myself for potential buyers’ visits was completely nerve-wracking. We viewed the house as though we were the potential buyers and following a thorough evaluation of its general appearance, proceeded to panic. As the day of our first two visits approached, we calmly and systematically arranged and tidied all the rooms. The night before, our once methodical system dissolved into a hysterical version of hide-and-seek, hopefully without the seek. The lived-in feeling of the house was now residing in the shed and the remaining items that couldn’t fit, were desperately stuffed under the bed. The house now looked fantastic, if a little bit like a museum. Furniture was strategically arranged to cover suspicious stains (I’ll leave that to your imagination), my trusty six-foot stick, Alan, was felt to be a little too overbearing for any and all visitors and so banished to the back yard and finally, I rearranged my DVD collection alphabetically. This wasn’t remotely important to the sale of my house, but I found it an extremely calming influence. The day of the visit came and I realised that there was one thing missing (apart form my large library of gentleman’s magazines), a fragrance. Not that my house smells, you understand, but I read that this is one of the first things to influence the opinion of any ...

Safeway (Shop) 02/09/2001

Sex and scandal at Safeway

Safeway (Shop) My rucksack is stuffed to bursting and as I shoulder the massive burden of Sunday shopping and curse myself for not remembering to wear gloves to stop the carrier bag handles (garrotte wire) from cutting off the circulation to my fingers and look like some kind of crazed asthmatic turtle. Looking cool in this situation is really not an option. I stagger home, the weight of my rucksack (stuffed with frozen goods and cartons of UHT milk) causing me to adopt the drunken swagger of a man attempting to walk a straight line for the police and feel my heartbeat shift from my chest to my fingertips. The Mrs. is pleased to see me and gives me big hug, the kind of embrace that would imply that I had either just returned from the war or that she is anticipating a gift of some sort. Not only had I not bought her anything at all (except maybe for a thrilling pack of sesame Ryvita and some low-fat spread to paste over said cardboard goodness), but I had also forgotten to purchase nine out of the ten things I was supposed to. Tail firmly stuffed between my legs, I returned to Safeway, all the way cursing Go Ahead biscuits, Ariel Liqui-Tabs and Now magazine all to the fiery pits of consumer hell. I walked the short distance back to the supermarket, noticing the rather large queue outside their very own petrol station on the way. Not having a car, my experience of this mini supermarket for cars is somewhat limited. I ambled past the hoards of charcoal briquette and compost ...

Pizza Express 30/08/2001

The greasy spoon with an egg obsession

Pizza Express I stood outside Pizza Express, confused and almost blinded by the giant blue million-watt fluorescent tubing. I was examining the menu and was left a little undecided as to whether to enter or not. With main courses with names like ‘Sloppy Guiseppe’ and ‘Ham and eggs’, I was a little unsure whether the theme was Italian or greasy spoon. Unperturbed by the oddly named food (or the fact that the prices went up in denominations of five pence), our little party of five entered. This caused a small problem for the greeting staff as apparently the number five in this restaurant had the same effect as asking for a fork instead of chopsticks in a Chinese. We were asked to remain a little while in the waiting area while the staff made up a table for us (invented or built, I’m not sure) and so all but one of us, there were only seats in groups of four, took a comfy seat and waited. The restaurant is very modern in décor and lighting, with an impressively open plan arrangement with high ceilings and nothing separating the tables apart from the walkway to the toilets (which were immaculate) and inconspicuously placed chrome railings. The friendly, but somewhat inexperienced member of staff escorted us to our freshly made table for six, cleverly with one of the place settings removed and there we sat for a few minutes exchanging pleasantries about terrapins, a woman called Dark Helmet (I have no idea why, so please don’t ask) and enjoying the ...

Planet Of The Apes (DVD) 27/08/2001

Predictably entitled monkey magic

Planet Of The Apes (DVD) My fiancée and I sat in the home of my future brother-in-law and wife’s newly decorated house, enjoying nibbles and the peace and quiet that is very common in the sticks, but not so much so in our home in the town centre of Shrewsbury. As the ladies discussed buying new dresses and the prospect of fitting into them (or something equally girly), the chaps talked about matters of more pressing importance, The new Planet Of The Apes movie and Ciao. Something of a connoisseur on all matters relating to the trilogy and the late, great Douglas Adams (he writes here too occasionally, you may know to whom I’m referring), we waxed apelike until he offered to lend me a copy of the original on VHS. Following a very pleasant afternoon, my fiancée and I returned home, laden down with a bag full of loaned goodies (several DVDs, the new Tomb Raider game and the aforementioned video) and several multipacks of Milky Way mousses (don’t ask). The following day, we decided to avoid the usual dirge Bank Holiday Monday television has to offer and settled down to relive a film I had seen with my Dad on another Bank Holiday some fifteen years previous. I was totally enthralled throughout. The original was made in 1967 and is based on the novel by Pierre Boulle, which I made a mental note to borrow from my new lending library that is my future Brother-in-law. Charlton Heston stars as astronaut Taylor, part of a four man expedition that goes horribly wrong. They crash ...

Wilkinsons (Shop) 26/08/2001

Wilkost you

Wilkinsons (Shop) A tiny bead of sweat trailed its way down my face as my mouth simultaneously was drained of all its moisture. I swallowed hard as I felt the blood pump faster through my veins, my heartbeat lodged somewhere in my throat beating out a rhythmical S.O.S. Everything was going grey before my eyes as I stood transfixed like a doe caught in the headlights of a oncoming vehicle, hugging myself for comfort and slowly and subconsciously rocking my trembling body. It was time to shop at Wilko’s. The Mrs. had decided that the time to confront my Wilkophobia was well overdue, planting a brief reassuring kiss on my cheek and softly squeezing my arm, she cheerily strolled off to get her hair done. So here I stood, a full-grown man almost paralysed at the prospect of shopping for kitchen roll and swing-bin bags. I could hear the muffled screams within and I was seriously contemplating going to Safeway and hiding the receipt. The blood red logo loomed, menacingly above me, a giant illuminated gateway to hell. Merchandising posters so large that it was impossible to view the havoc within, were daubed across all the windows, offering quality products at excellent prices without mentioning the additional cost, your soul. I drew the remaining nicotine into my lungs, taking with it most of the filter, burning my fingers and coughing I hurriedly stamped the cigarette out on the pavement. I took one last deep, calming breath and entered my own personal ‘Helter ...

Lethal Weapon (DVD) 25/08/2001

Boys, bullets and balls the size of boulders

Lethal Weapon (DVD) Wandering aimlessly around town during my lunch break has become a skill I have mastered over the last couple of years. Armed only with my wallet and several cigarettes, I can always feel the burning hole in my pocket (from the wallet, not the cigarette) and must find an excuse to purchase that all-important A4 pad, lottery ticket or set of Tupperware with almost record-breaking ability. If I find something that actually proves to be of some use, the remainder of my day becomes almost bearable. On this particular day, I found myself loitering in Virgin, studying the song sheets from various artists knowing full well that I cannot hum a decent tune, let alone play an instrument, until something caught my eye. Another ghastly DVD bargain. ‘Classic films’ which were practically being given away at an embarrassing amount, two for twenty quid, to be precise. Before the logical side of my brain could persuade me otherwise, I had two clutched in my sweaty palm and was charging confidently towards the sales assistant. Even though I realised that ‘You’ve Got Mail’ could have a more fitting description than classic film (‘pointless mush throwing two previously well matched actors together in a shameless excuse for yet another rom-com in the vain hope that everyone would fall for the formula’ is a lengthy alternative), I convinced myself that the kicking I would receive from the Mrs. would be lessened knowing that I had thought of her and not ...

Ecleftic (2 Sides II a Book) - Wyclef Jean 18/08/2001

Strippers, drugs and Kenny Rogers

Ecleftic (2 Sides II a Book) - Wyclef Jean There are several reasons for me to listen to music. Background music, shaking my moneymaker, reflecting my emotions (gangster rap usually fits that bill), music to inspire or motivate and just an alternative to the dreaded idiot box. The final type is the sort of music that acts like a bucket full of sand poured into my boxers. I try to ignore it, but it completely consumes everything else that I have ever listened to. Good examples are ‘The Birdie Song’, ‘Saturday Night’ and pretty much anything by Steps. The very fabric of my daily existence is destroyed and all credibility that I once possessed crumbles like a packet of Digestives as I hum Five’s re-rendering of ‘We Will Rock You’ totally oblivious to the adolescent giggling of my colleagues in the office. Wyclef Jean manages to produce music that snugly fits every single one of those criteria. His album, ‘The Ecleftic’ proves that it is possible to avoid swearing like a navvy or constantly referring to drugs or violence and still create music that is not only credible but also very enjoyable to listen to. It proved quite difficult to part with my hard earned cash for something totally devoid of a ‘Parental Advisory’ sticker (usually the deciding factor) but the hypnotic lyrics of ‘It Doesn’t Matter’ playing in a continuous loop in my brain has possessed me to hurl my credit card at the cashier and persuade myself that it ...

Perfect Pizza, Bedminster, Bristol, UK 13/08/2001

Sexier than a stack of porn

Perfect Pizza, Bedminster, Bristol, UK The Mrs and I collapsed into a crumpled heap on the couch after returning from our weekend break to Leeds and our eventual crawl into action was structured as ever. The giant overly filled rucksack containing clothes the other half never wore (why women take eight changes of clothes for a two-day break will remain one of the great unanswered questions, for men anyway) and several pairs of pants I never wore (why use them if no one can see them, that’s my point) was offloaded and left to not be unpacked for as long as possible. Next, the post was opened, 1571 was dialled and coffee was made and I realised when I had to use the dreaded sweetener that the break was well and truly over. Lastly, I checked my e-mail, Ciao and the possibility that I had won a million on the Daily Draw. Dejected as ever by the prospect of having to return to work the next day, I trundled downstairs and considered the mammoth task of making my own dinner. After staring blankly at the contents of the fridge-freezer for fifteen minutes, I made two executive decisions. The first was to close the doors as I was getting frostbite and the second to order a takeaway from Perfect Pizza. The brochure, glossy and enticing as ever, had arrived with my last order less than a week ago and tempted me unashamedly with its bright colours and tear-off vouchers. I had decided to opt for the ‘Mega Deal’, two regular pizzas, garlic bread and a 1.5 litre bottle of Coke. This weighs in at a tasty ...

Member Advice on Migraine 05/08/2001

Not in the least bit funny

Member Advice on Migraine I feel nauseous, dizzy and my head is stuffed with cotton wool. My senses are blurred and deadened and the world I look upon has an all too familiar greyish tint to it. Just a normal day for me after the medication sinks in. These feelings, whilst unpleasant and a little disturbing are a good thing. You may wonder why that is, but when faced with the alternative, a headache (as they are so often trivialised), you wouldn’t need to ask. The medication I am on at present is a dissolving wafer called Maxalt melt. It is the latest in a long stream of treatments I have undergone (after the beta-blockers, dozens of prescribed and over-the-counter drugs and alternative therapies) to try to curb the relentless agony I suffer at the hands of an undiagnosed seven years of pain. Headaches come in many forms and have a multitude of symptoms and triggers. I will attempt to outline in layman’s terms, the three main ones. 1) Tension Headaches- The most common and least suffered of the three types. A tight band of dull pain around the head, the cause is unsure and for the most part, they can be treated with standard medication. Suffered at some point by the majority of the country. 2) Cluster Headaches- so called because they occur at regular intervals (or clusters). Symptoms are searing pain centred on one eye and part of the face, weeping and a stuffy nose down the same side. Can last for minutes or hours. Treatments available range from injections to oxygen ...
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