Friday, December 10, 2021

I am a complete idiot

Back when I was young organising a drinking session was full of pitfalls - usually dominated around whether we'd get served or when we'd manage to act like dicks and get thrown out of the pub. An evening out usually folllowed the same steps: get to pub and hide in the nook round by the pool table, the oldest looking or the one with the best ID would head to the bar and order (why is it that some kids seem to be 6 foot and able to grow a full beard before the age of 15, which was definitely not me); then we'd play pool, put shit songs on the jukebox (90s music has a lot to answer for!) before we'd invariably act like dicks because we were, at the end of the day, still kids, and therefore dicks. Then we'd get thrown out. 

Sometimes there would be a few hours between the first and last of these steps, sometimes there would be a lot less time, but I'd say that the last step was achieved around 75% of the time before we left of our own accord or just ran out of money. It was a constant game of cat and mouse with the landlord of the pub who obviously knew what was going on but was prepared to take our money as long as we didn't act like dicks. I grew up in quite a small village and this seems to be the norm - if you've watched the fantastic film "Hot Fuzz" starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost it's exactly like the pub scene - right down to the part where a 5 foot 2 teenager produces a fake ID stating that he's in his late 20s (my brother is 12 years older than I am and I thought about carrying his old passport but there was no way that anyone was daft enough to have taken it seriously).

But anyway - back to the last step of our night out in getting thrown out. On none of the occasions of getting thrown out was I ever tempted to argue or even fight with the landlord or the bouncer doing the evicting. Primarily because I was the 5 foot 2 teenager (I think I must have been starved as a child as I grew nearly a foot in under a year when I worked in a restaurant between the ages of 16 and 18), secondly because the landlord was fucking massive (although looking back I assume everyone looks fucking massive when you're only 5 foot 2) and thirdly because the landlord knew all of our parents, who if they weren't in the other bar of the pub were probably regulars. As I said, it was a small village and everyone knew everyone else.

Nowadays a drinking session is much easier to sort out - turn up, drink then go home. Occasionally the added step of showing ID rears its ugly head but that's usually not my concern (Mrs AC actually loves it when she gets asked for ID but it usually only happens in the US, although I was asked in Walgreens beneath PH in Vegas and I declared to Mrs AC that I must look under 21 - my parade was soon pissed on when the cashier stated that it's store policy to ID everyone, irrespective of age). 

But a couple of weeks ago I was enjoying a nice lunch with Mrs AC, sipping a few glasses of something chilled and bubbly when I was asked for ID and the end of the conversation was "this gentleman is going to escort you out" and I actually thought of violating my cardinal rule of "don't fight with the bouncer". The gentleman in question was 20 years older than me, a foot shorter was not going to be prepared for a fight - even if he could kick like a mule I could out run him quite easily. But I had a flashback to when I last got close to fighting a bouncer - it didn't go well. I got my head staved in. I must add that the bouncer in question was a Winnie-the-Pooh baby bouncer which was being used by the older cost centre to bounce in a door way and smashed me right on the side of the head, breaking my eye socket and giving me the worst black eye I've ever seen. In my line of business it's really not a good look to turn up to work looking like I've been in a fight over the weekend although I did notice that even senior guys were offering to get me coffee that week!

So back to our lunch - we were at Heathrow airport waiting for flights when there's an announcement "If there's a Mr AC please could he make himself known to a member of staff". This isn't overly unusual as I often get offered pre-boarding or assistance getting to the gate but given that I haven't flown in nearly 2 years it's certainly a surprise. I usually politely decline this but some agents in the US take this to a new level (I once had my carry on luggage ripped from my hand by a NY check in agent who then proceeded to literally shove people out of the way whilst loudly stating "VIP coming through" which still causes me pain). So I identify myself and get back to my lunch and drinks with Mrs AC. 

That's when the problems start - the lady who approaches me is not with a bouncer, he's with UK Border Force (our version of CBP) and she asks to see my passport. I hand it over and she asks if I have another passport to which I reply no. Then she starts reading from a script (about being denied boarding which is effectively making me aware that I can't sue them) and tells me that the border force agent needs to escort me out of the airport.

My passport has expired - I am a complete idiot. Not only have I let it expire but a few weeks before I've actually renewed my ESTA and typed the soon to be expired expiry date into the site.

I say my farewells to Mrs AC and get escorted out of the airport whilst making small talk with the border agent and ask him if he thinks I'm an idiot. He diplomatically says he sees it all the time but then enquires whether Mrs AC is going to be ok. Luckily for me she was off to NY for work whereas I was heading to LA and we weren't spending any more time together in the US after our lunch.

On the journey home I e-mail my client telling him I won't be able to get to the US and I'll call him on Monday morning to explain which ended up with him howling with laughter and calling me a fucking idiot. 

But that was a few weeks ago and now I've renewed my passport I've been in NY for a week, heading home this evening and I'm back in NY next week with Mrs AC who has been spending a week per month in NY since she started her new job back in April.

Happy holidays & Merry Christmas to all - at the moment I'm planning to be in Vegas some time in February (hopefully Superbowl time but not confirmed yet) next year but given I haven't played a proper hand of poker (home sessions don't count) in nearly 2 years I'm sure there's some easy money to be won.

Friday, September 3, 2021

Some sports, some sports. My kingdom for some sports

It's been ages since I last saw some live sports - the last time I was in Vegas, in fact, when I had a last minute trip and obtained an unscheduled ticket to the Fury v Wilder fight, just before everything went to ratshit back last February. 

I haven't been to see anything with Mrs AC since New Year's Day 2020 when we watched some lower league football with the friends we'd been visiting and I haven't been with the cost centres since a few months before then, when we saw our team trounced by Manchester Utd. 

But we've got something to look forward to in a few weeks time - well some of us are looking forward to it anyway. 

"I'm not doing it"
"It's so unfair"
"You can't make me"
"Even if I do go then I'm not going to enjoy it"
"You can't tell me what to do"

These were not the words of a stroppy teenager - the antagonist was Mrs AC and I need to keep her sweet because she'd kick my head in if we ever come to physical blows.

But anyway - what's prompted this from Mrs AC? She's normally as easy going as I am and is more than willing to partake in new experiences. But this isn't a new experience. Sort of anyway.

I've just told her that I've got tickets to one of the London NFL games. She's a big (no pun intended) Giants fan and we even had plans to attend the Giants v 49ers (my team) game last season before all the travel bans were implemented so we watched it from home in London instead. Therein lies the problem.

One of my sons doesn't have a particular favourite team, the other does. It's the Jets. Mrs AC doesn't particularly like the Jets, albeit she doesn't particularly like most other teams, notably the Cowboys and the Patriots (when I first started seeing Mrs AC she was surprised that a Brit liked NFL and when I said I already supported a team her exact words were "if you say the Patriots this might be our last date". I don't think she was joking either).

The rationale for my eldest son supporting the Jets are explained in this post and they are playing in London this year so those are the tickets I've just got. 

"I've just forked out a kingdom for these tickets, I'm not having them go to waste. Besides, I thought you'd be pleased that Sarah is coming with us as well" I pleaded (Sarah is my son's friend's mum and she and Mrs AC get on like a house on fire). This perked her up and I managed to seal the deal by telling her that we can have a few drinks at the game - we've only ever been to football in the U.K. where it's illegal to drink alcohol in view of the pitch although I've told Mrs AC of my previous alcohol fuelled trips to rugby and cricket. 

So if you're watching the game and see someone in a Giants jersey (she's adamant that she's wearing hers although the boys will have Jets jerseys on) in the crowd it will most likely be Mrs AC. And if the person in the Giants jersey is holding a drink, ignoring the game whilst constantly chatting to a seat mate then it will definitely be her! 

Sunday, July 11, 2021

We’re all going on a summer helliday

Last year when trying to organise summer holiday plans with Mrs AC we had a few conditions that needed to be met: good weather; good local food and drink; a bit of culture and the ability to communicate with the locals - if there's one thing I do around the world is ensure I know how to order beer even if I can understand nothing else!

We ended up on a driving tour of France and Italy and we had a lovely time in the European sunshine, visited a couple of vineyards in the famous Champagne area and soaked up some culture on our trip to the Uffizi gallery in Florence (less famous than Paris's Louvre but definitely worth a visit if you're ever in the area).

This year we had the same conditions but also had a couple of extra passengers to cater for - the cost centres. Now if I'd given them the choice of destinations the only prerequisite would have been the ability to eat their own weight in ice cream on a daily basis. But anyway, I'm rambling. 

Unfortunately we had to add a couple of extra conditions ourselves: country on the green list (amber means 10 days home quarantine upon return whilst red means 10 days hotel quarantine) and we had to be able to drive there again (the boys' mother has decided to not let them fly, trying to make my life as hard as possible as usual!)

Having studied the list of available destinations we were left with one choice - a staycation. But having looked at prices and availability we were stumped - anything near decent was either ridiculously or fully booked. 

Then one of the cost centres uttered the most scary 5 words I've heard in my life "We could go to Nanna's" (if you're new here that's in the Highlands of Scotland whereas we live in the suburbs of London). I swear I heard the Psycho shower scene music. 

Dear lord no, it doesn't even get a point on the original holiday criteria does it?

Weather: could be ok, could be shit. Probably the latter but the problem is that it's not consistent - it could be freezing one day and mildly warm the next. A hot day is barely into the mid 60s - any warmer and the entire population will either explode or shout at the sun and start sacrificing goats or virgins to make it go away again. 

Food and drink: the country's main contribution to world cuisine consists of a dish made of a sheep's heart and lungs served up inside the sheep's own stomach lining. I think it was invented as a joke to stop the English from stealing it and it's been banned from the USA since the 1970s. Their other contributions include the deep fried mars bar - a candy bar coated in the same batter you'd cover fish in then deep fried until crispy, disgusting and the precursor to having a heart attack and an unintelligible conversation with a paramedic (see point 4). If you survive your heart attack you'll get to sample the local favourite drink as well - Irn-Bru (again banned in the USA) which is a sickly sweet bright orange soda with more sugar in a can than should be consumed in a lifetime. Don't be fooled that because of its colour it might actually taste of orange - it's fucking vile and makes you want to spit it out, but if you do the orange colouring will instantly stain anything it touches (I think that's why it's banned in the USA and I think His Donaldness wanted it banned in his U.K. golf resorts). They do have whisky though and there are a few local distilleries within an hour so they get half a point. But even I can't survive a whole holiday on whisky can I? I'm not even attempting it. 

Culture: there's some old castles and historic battlefields but nothing that we haven't been to before. 

Language: whilst the official language is English I'm not overly convinced. Some of the locals have such a heavy accent that I just smile and nod politely. They could be asking to sacrifice the cost centres to appease the angry sun god and make the weather return to constant drizzle for all I know. There's also a sizeable group that don't particularly like the English - a stranger in a pub drunkenly barking "Are you English pal?" is usually a precursor to a fight. Mrs AC is ok though as she's American so she'll answer for me and I'll do the heroic thing and stand behind her if things turn nasty. Some locals are intelligible though but that's no better, they are usually insane and have invented their own language - wittering. My mother for example. 

So no. If I have one ounce of sway in this decision we are not going to stay at my mum's in Scotland. The boys and Mrs AC are adamant that they want to go but I'm standing firm - no amount of pestering will get me up there. 

We're going to Scotland then! Fuck. Maybe I was really nasty in a previous life and this is my punishment. It's a summer helliday. 

But anyway - I'm not one to mope around when I don't get my own way so after the boys finished school for the summer on Friday we set off on the 650 mile journey early on Saturday morning. It's pretty plain sailing most of the way but it's an all day journey with only a stop for coffee mid morning and a late lunch before arriving just in time for the football at 8pm and I'm gasping for a beer. Then the insanity started - if you're a regular reader you'll know that my mother is completely bonkers. 

My mother brings me a beer - a warm one. What am I? A heathen? She'd texted one of the boys whilst we were travelling and asked if we wanted anything when she popped to the shop and my only request was for beer. I obviously hadn't stated that they needed to be cold because anyone that's not completely bonkers would understand that. Not my mother though - she'd actually bought them cold from the shop's fridge then put them into a cupboard to warm. FFS! At least she waits until half time before inflicting us with her next portion of lunacy. 

She then announces that because the next day is 4th July she's got a treat for Mrs AC - a turkey. Err ok! Why in utter bejesus has she got a turkey I hear you ask - turns out she's mixed up her holidays and as she'd defrosted it we had to cook it. My mother is not good in the kitchen and as we don't fancy eating turkey that's rare or has been nuked we end up spending nearly all of Sunday sorting out a turkey dinner.

But anyway - we've been here a week now and have walked, biked, golfed and fished. Mrs AC is still determined she's going to see a live haggis this time but we have seen otters, seals, deer and an eagle (U.K. wildlife is a bit tame in comparison to the US - we don't have anything overly interesting but the most dangerous thing we have is an adder although I've never even seen one). 

It's now Sunday and we're all looking forward to tonight's game - if England win then the boys and I have said we'll wear our England shirts for the rest of the week. This will probably end up with us being hunted down by a local posse as if you ask a Scottish football fan who he supports he'll declare he has 2 teams - Scotland and anyone playing England. Again I'll be hiding behind Mrs AC if things turn nasty. 

We are travelling back at the end of next week but here are some photos (I'm the world's most useless photographer so I'm more amazed that any of them are actually in focus)

Dog - useful as a sundial for the 8 days per year you can see a shadow

Seals - just fat, wet dogs really

Links golf - hard. Even harder when there's a 60mph wind blowing across the course

Scenery - nice view and I couldn't think of anything witty to put here 

More scenery- still can't think of anything witty to write

Mother - batshit insane (yes she really is vacuuming her patio - no, I have no idea either)

Neighbour - another tick in the insane column as they have what appears to be a missile outside their house

Beer - wet and cold. It's a local beer and not actually available in England. I read a review that described it as "tasting more of tomorrow's hangover than yesterday's hops",  maybe the US will ban it but it's not like they have an aversion to bland, tasteless lagers is it? 

Have a great summer all - hopefully I'll get up to some drunken shenanigans fairly soon as I'm starting to get tired of this boring version of life!

Friday, May 14, 2021

Beauty is in the eye of the bee holder

Over the last year or so I've had the same conversation with Mrs AC quite a few times. The doorbell will go around 11am and Mrs AC will state that it's the postman delivering something for her. Of course it's going to be for her as I hate shopping so much that I actually don't even like doing it online.

But anyway, the conversation usually goes something like this:
AC: what have you been buying now?
Mrs AC: something I really need, it's a ravioli maker / remote control hairdryer / phlogiston detector (insert other device which looks really snazzy but has virtually no use and will be used once before spending the rest of eternity hidden in a drawer)
AC: that's nice (whilst in my head I'm trying to figure out which drawer it's going to be deposited into in about 3 hours time)

If we both die in a freak accident whoever has the pleasure of emptying our house is going to think that we were a pair of utter nutters when they find out how much tat is secreted about the house. I might just leave a couple of notes in the aforementioned tat drawers absolving myself from any responsibility in order that my obituary doesn't read "Tat collector dies in alcohol fuelled idiocy." When I do get written up I want it to read: His last words were "what could possibly go wrong - watch this!"

So when the doorbell rang at 11am one day a couple of weeks ago I hadn't anticipated the next words out of Mrs AC's mouth: "Who can that be?"

Seriously woman? You've spent so much time with him over the last year that I'm surprised you don't know how many sugars he likes in his tea and his entire life story.   

"It's obviously the fucking postman" was my response. "Oh yeah, I'm not expecting anything though" was hers. She was right - the delivery was for me for a change. 

"It's for me" I told her, "I've been expecting something - It's my bees". Mrs AC then proceeded to call me by her usual pet name name for me - she can speak fluent Italian so she uses Italian to get me in the mood "fottuto idiota". Not now honey - amore later but I've got something to get on with. 

"I'm not that fucking stupid - seriously what have you been buying?" Now I have been known to wind her up about things - I've told her about mythical creatures called haggis which roam the Scottish countryside and once I tried to tell her that dinosaurs weren't as big as everyone thought but that time had caused the bones to swell to enormous proportions. I probably deserve my Italian moniker to be honest. 

"No seriously - I bought some bees". The look of disdain on her face was palpable. 

So anyway - back to the bees. It's my latest weird hobby - last year I made a few cheeses to pass the time and this year I'm entering the world of beekeeping. Sort of anyway. There's a local society who are always looking for gardens to put hives in and one of the members asked if I'd be interested in putting a couple in the garden. 

I haven't really had to do much but as long as I get some of the honey I'm fine so I've been researching how to make mead so we've got some extra booze to get us through the winter and at least some members of our household will be doing some flying this year, because it's unlikely to be me for quite a while. 

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Delusions of grandeur

Some people wish they had aristocrats, royalty or long lost rich relations in their family. Not me though. I just wish I had a normal family instead of the dysfunctional lunatics that I'm forced to share a few days a year with. When Mrs AC first met my family a year or so ago she asked "Are you sure you're not adopted? You're so unlike anyone in your family that I can't believe that you share the same genes!".

She's right. I am so unlike my family but I'm pretty sure I'm not adopted as I'm the spitting image of my father and seem to have inherited his predilection for more beer than is healthy. Although I'm secretly hoping there was a mix up in the baby unit and my real family have been looking for me for all this time. I don't care if they're rich or famous. My only hope is that they are normal. Or just not lunatics with delusions of grandeur. Like my mother for instance. Why is it that whenever I use the word lunatic I generally talk about my mother?

For years (since I was a child anyway), my mother has told me that we're related to someone famous - Lord Horatio Nelson,_1st_Viscount_Nelson. You've probably never heard of him but he was a celebrity in his day of the late 1700s and early 1800s. He was a very famous naval commander who defeated the French and Spanish navies before he was killed in battle at Trafalgar in 1805 and is commemorated with a statue atop a column in Trafalgar Square in London. 

It's a family story passed down the generations as her mother's maiden name was Nelson and they all originate from the approximately the same location - North Norfolk, hence my allegiance with Norwich City. Dear lord could we not have had Robin Hood in our lineage then I could support Nottingham Forest who at least have won the European Cup a couple of times?  

But anyway - I'm rambling. During the lockdown my mother has been researching our family tree. Oh fucking joy when she calls me up to ask "Do you remember my uncle Eddie?"

"Who? No". Only to be told that he did something utterly unremarkable and over the course of an hour's one sided conversation I learn he was the first person in our family to walk from his village to another village and he died 10 years before I was born. So how the fuck would I remember him then? "Well I thought you would" was her reply. I told you my family were lunatics!

So back to the family tree. We have literally nobody of historic interest within our tree. For as long back as it went all my relations have been landless peasants. There's no connection with anyone of any interest and if there's an unclaimed crock of gold waiting for a rightful heir it won't be coming my way.

At least I won't subject future generations with this ignominy. Not that I've done much better than my predecessors but it's that I'll be able to tell them in person as I'm pretty sure that I'm immortal - I've got a 100% success rate of not dying so far so it must be true. It's either I'm immortal or a lunatic. It's not like certain traits are passed from generation to generation is it?

Oh........wait.......hang on.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Worst sequel ever

I always think movie makers are a bit lazy - pump out enough movies and eventually you'll produce a box office hit. Kind of like the infinite monkey theory whereby given enough time a monkey at a typewriter will produce the complete works of Shakespeare. 

But when they do stumble upon a box office success then that movie gets sequels, prequels, remakes, animated, prequels done in lego... you get the drift. Basically anything to keep the money rolling in. Take "Fast and the Furious" for example. What are we up to now? Fast and the Furious 87: Now reshowing the original movie because we've been going on for so long that everyone has forgotten the 1st one? Something like that anyway. 

Not that I dislike movie franchises though - Paddington 2 is brilliant! Not a movie you want to be watching at the cinema on your own as you'll be making parents a bit nervous but it's brilliant all the same. 

But here we are in Lockdown 3.0 and I'm starting to get a bit tired of it all. The first iteration was actually a bit of fun - I usually travel so much that spending more than a couple of weeks in my own home was a bit of a novelty, once I'd made it clear to Mrs AC that "working from home" didn't involve me drinking beer and watching porn all day we got ourselves into a routine. 

Then the 1st lockdown ended but we were no means closer to normality - I was still unable to travel to the US so apart from a few more restaurants and pubs being open nothing really changed for us. We managed a couple of weeks away in Europe at the end of summer but little were we to know that the sequel was already being planned. 

Lockdown 2 came and went in November but it was over pretty quickly - much like Highlander 2 which must be the worst sequel I've ever seen.

Then much like a Taylor Swift album that gets announced 2 minutes before its release we hit the Christmas restrictions. Just prior to the weekend before Christmas there was chatter that the US was about to lift its own restrictions which would have meant me being able to accompany Mrs AC on her trip back to NY. But no. That got swept from under our feet on the Saturday before Christmas when the entire SE of England was put under the highest restriction level (short of a full lockdown) with 24 hours notice and another travel ban was effected. But Mrs AC still needed to travel back (for work which was allowed) so on the Monday before Christmas I took her to the airport and got stopped by the police for the 3rd and 4th times in my life on the same day (the 1st time was nearly 20 years ago and I was doing 98mph so probably actually deserved it then and the 2nd was whilst driving my mother's car and had been reported by a nosy neighbour!). 

So a dull and boring Christmas ensued and I did something on New Year's that I probably haven't done in my adult life - I was stone cold sober. I hadn't had a drink since Christmas Day and was asleep on NYE before 10pm but was awake just after midnight in NY to wish Mrs AC a happy new year. Mrs AC was not stone cold sober, or even close to being sober. She'd been catching up with a friend (she'd been in the U.K. since early March and not seen anyone since before then) and they'd obviously had a few drinks. Why would anyone think that booze makes them funnier and more interesting? Oh... wait.... hang on. 

Then things really kicked off again - the entire country was put back on lockdown just after New Years and it looks like we'll be in this situation for most of February as well. It's also just been announced that arrivals from certain countries will have to quarantine in specific hotels rather than doing it at home. At the moment arrivals from the US are ok to quarantine at home (which had been our plan) but given how things can change at pretty short notice this has caused Mrs AC to expedite her return from NY to 10 days time, rather than coming back at the end of February as originally planned. 

But I think there's some light at the end of the tunnel - vaccinations are being done and hopefully this will relieve some pressure on the healthcare system (which was the true purpose of lockdown albeit not widely understood) and I'm hopeful of being able to get back to normal towards the end of this year. With a bit of luck that will mean being able to travel again and there is definitely a blank space in my diary being reserved for the next time I get to a Vegas poker table and get to overindulge on the free drinks, although I think I'm going to need a bit of practice before I do it as my alcohol tolerance has dropped to the lowest point of my adult life. Or the light at the end of the tunnel could be a train, in which case I'd better get off the line. 

Anyway - a belated happy new year to all. Hopefully whoever is running this simulation that we call reality has got their act together and this year will be better managed, if not it promises to be the worst sequel ever.