Tag Archives: beer

Grrrrrrr

Grrrrrrrrr. That’s me trying to convey my anger. I’ll try again. Argghhhhh. Maybe a bit too piratey. I think maybe the first one is better. Anyway, I’m angry. Not livid, just angry.  
“What is the cause of your anger?” I hear you shout. Well, let me tell you…
It was a night much like any other: a winters night. I had left my house with my family, heading to our destination. There were too many of us to fit into one car so we decided to convoy (can convoy be used as a verb?). As the monotonous drone of the wipers complemented the patter of the rain, we sat, not moving, in the local rush hour traffic. This did not make me angry. 


We arrived at the street on which we were to park and found two spaces next to each other. My dad parked behind us and we exited the vehicle. The walk was to be a short one and we had plenty of time. Although it was cold, the rain had stopped. We went to one of those crossings that have an island in the middle of the road. Drivers don’t have to give way but it is simply good manners to do so. As we approached, the traffic was at a standstill and a bus had stopped right in front of the crossing, blocking it from all angles. This was not the cause of my anger. 

The bus moved off and we went into the restaurant. We had the place to ourselves as it was an early hour. The decor was what you expect in a British Chinese eating establishment, the menu looked good and they had one of my favourite things on the drinks menu – Tsing Tao beer. As I was driving home, one bottle was all I would have. I ordered my beer and it came quickly. This is the reason for my anger. 


Why on God’s green Earth would you take the beer from the bottle (which is a container and drinking receptacle that has been chilling in the fridge) and pour it into a warm glass. Why would you take away the fizz? Why would you not ask? If I order a bottle of beer then I want exactly that. If I wanted a glass of beer then I’d order that. If it makes you feel better then give me a glass ‘with’ my bottle. In fact, I didn’t even see the bottle. It could have been any beer in that glass. Angry. 

Restaurant owners, please take note. I want my beer from the bottle. I don’t know why, I just do. 

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Comic book geek?

The dark knight returns comic
I have recently been inspired. Not often do I see or hear something that actually inspires me to do something about it. I have been inspired by Kevin Smith and Bruce Wayne. I think I might want to get into comics!
Don’t get me wrong, loads of things have inspired me over the last few years. The Olympics inspired me to watch it but not to go out and kayak (to be fair I don’t think I was the target audience for the inspire a generation campaign), great art can inspire me but that doesn’t mean I can draw and music definitely inspires me but I still (after 16 years of owning it) can’t play more than 6 chords on my guitar. Comics though… Now there’s something I can do.
kevin smith the green arrow
What Kevin has done has shared his infectious love of Batman and all things DC. Kevin Smith, for those who don’t know, is an actor and a director. He is Silent Bob in Clerks, Mall Rats, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and Dogma. He also directed all of those and more. If you’ve seen any of those then you know his love for comics. He has also written for DC for both Batman and The Green Arrow.
Let me take you back quite a few years, not to my childhood, to when me and the wife, then girlfriend, were looking for people to share our flat. We had rented a big place and had only one income at the time due to one of us studying. We put out an advert on gumtree and waited. We didn’t have to wait long as about half an hour later we had a couple wanting to come round. They came, they were extremely odd and we ushered them out the door with a promise to let them know. We had a couple of phone calls of the same ilk until finally a normal sounding Aussie called. She said that her and her bloke were interested, they came over and they were normal (ish). And so they stayed for a few years. Why am I telling you this? Because the guy half of the couple was a comic book nut.
gumtree aussie rooms
Jimmy was a funny guy who was constantly hungry. He loved computers and comic books. When I look back now I regret not tapping into his knowledge and, at the very least, getting a comic book 101 lesson. Why? Here comes the list.
1) I don’t want to look like a newbie or get ripped off. I need to get knowledgeable about comics without looking like I need the knowledge. This is where the Internet comes in. I can research them in the comfort of my own home and can also buy them and store them on my iPad. I know it’s not the same as owning the actual books but you gotta start somewhere.
Apple iPad Comic Books
2) I want to know the best arc to follow. It seems it’s not just about which character to follow but also about which version or arc. Do I go for the new Batman reboot (the 52’s) or some other timeline? This is what confuses me the most. If I was 10 I’d take whatever I could get. Maybe having money and an ability to over think things is doing me no favours.
3) I don’t have enough time for crap. Seriously. All I want is someone to tell me what to do. Where do I start and where do I go after that. I’m beginning to think that I may have the wrong comic book attitude.
If you don’t feel the need to get into comics at least have a listen to Fatman on Batman. It’s a podcast (available free in iTunes and smodcast) where Mr Smith has various guests on from the world of Batman. The first episode is all about Mark Hamill (yes, that one) who voices the joker on the animated show. It’s funny stuff, even if you’re not into comics.
fatman on batman kevin smith
Maybe I’m having a pre-second baby panic or at the very least a mid life crisis. I do know that I have started to watch Batman cartoons on TV and that my 2 and a half year old doesn’t like them. I try to tell my wife, and myself, that it’s to keep up with what the kids at school like so I can relate to them. The problem is that she can see through me and read my like a graphic novel.
Enjoy your weekend.
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My 12th annual 21st birthday

It’s my birthday today (only if you’re reading it on the 15th) and I’m actually quite excited. The thing that’s exciting me this year is the fact that my little boy knows what’s going on. A bit sad? You bet.
It got me thinking about how my view of birthdays has changed over the years and what birthdays mean at different ages. A list you say? A list with a twist.
Early years – early birthdays are all about the chaos and confusion of it. A house full of family, as much cake and sweets as you can eat and a conveyor belt of presents. It’s the presents that I remember (maybe its a false memory as I’ve seen, and am lucky enough to have, video tapes of those early years) and the fact that they kept on coming. A conveyer belt of ripping, shaking and discarding before moving on to the next item. The other side to the coin was if you got the one you really wanted early on then the others waited for a long time to be opened. I love the start of ‘Toy Story’ when you see it from the perspective of the toy, the panic that new toys bring, “pull my string the birthday party’s today!” a shocked Woody exclaims. One of the best openings to a film I’ve seen.
woody the cowboy toy story
Primary school age (4-11) – This is now more about the party and a little less about the presents. At this age you get to invite your whole class and run around like nutter, high on sugar, for a few hours. The doorbell has never been such an amazing noise. The party food and spread is also very important. This is something I tried to capture in the second Squidge book. I wanted to write about Christmas but not all totally about it. I came up with the idea of the big elf celebration (they were far to busy and then exhausted to celebrate Christmas) being a birthday party, and who better than Santa to throw the biggest party of the year. Here’s a little excerpt.

Now, if you are an elf, then Santa’s birthday party is the best time of the year. Elves don’t really celebrate Christmas like us because they have no time to prepare. Christmas takes a lot of hard work to make great and the elves are too busy making toys. Santa knows this and so makes sure that all of the elves get to have a great big party on his birthday. To give you an idea of how big a party it was, here is one page of Santa’s party preparation list:

 

Jelly and ice cream

Crisps (all flavours, shapes and sizes)

Donuts (jam and chocolate)

Fizzy drinks

Sweets (soft, hard and chewy and all the colours of the rainbow)

Sausage rolls

Pizza (one of each topping and 2 pepperoni as its Santa’s favourite)

Jam sandwiches (with the crusts cut off)

Ham sandwiches (with the crusts left on)

Balloons (the ones that float)

Streamers

A Piñata (full of marshmallows so they don’t hurt you when they fall out)

A gigantic birthday cake (must be chocolate sponge with chocolate icing and chocolate buttons)

 

And there are 20 more pages just like this one. I bet if you can think of something you would like to have at a party, you would find it on Santa’s party list.

squidge Christmas elf

Teenage years – as you get a bit older the party at your house, with the cake and cliche, just won’t cut it. It’s a time in your life when it’s all about you. I want this, I want that, and so on. You want one big present (usually very expensive) and a cool party at the bowling ally, swimming pool, fast food restaurant, quasar (look it up kids) or cinema. What you don’t realise is the expense. Your parents have to pay for the lot. At 13 or 14 though you don’t really care or consider it.
Early 20’s – clothes and a pub. It really is that simple. You can legally drink and you wanna look good doing it. The choice of pub though is very important. You want somewhere cheap, and that usually means a chain, but you also you want somewhere with atmosphere and that means expensive. Do you go to the local or somewhere different. These decisions are very important in your early 20’s and the clothes choices infinitely embarrassing when you look back.
the chequers billericay
Early 30’s – my 30th was a massive event. Bouncy castle, fancy dress (I went as a Jedi), old school sweets, shed loads of beer and pumping 90’s tunes. Everything from the Chillies to MC Hammer and all that is in between. This birthday though will be as the last couple have been, very low key affairs. A couple of friends, a couple of kegs of beer and laugh or two.
adnams broadside and bitter in my fridge
I’m off for a swim with my son now (partly so he’ll have a good nap and not be grumpy when my friends show up later) and then maybe out to lunch to line my stomach for the beer ahead.
I envisage a Sunday morning hangover followed by a fry up and many cups of coffee. Enjoy your weekend people. I know I will.
The final picture is of me and my dad at my 30th. He says he’s meant to be John Wayne, I think he looks Like Woody. You decide.
me and my dad peter
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Never have I ever…

When at university I used to play a game. This game was called Never Have I Ever. It was a simple game that allowed you to stitch your mates up and find out embarrassing secrets about the people at your table. It never occurred to me to lie in this game, I would lay all my sins out on the table, face down, waiting for someone to say a never have I ever that would make me lift my metaphorical cards and show them. The rules of the game are as follows…

1) Someone says something like, “never have I ever blamed someone for something that I did.”

2) If you have done that then you need to drink.

3) If you don’t drink and someone at the table can give you an instance when you have done it then you finish your drink.

This memory came flooding back this week with the kids I teach. Don’t worry, we weren’t playing drinking games (something frowned upon when in charge of a class of 30 ten year olds) but instead it has been a week of lies and omissions.

It struck me that I put a great deal of trust in my kids, with the hope of fostering a happy and truthful classroom. Most of the time it works. When things go pear shaped though I feel the need to remind myself of the golden rule of teaching.

Kids lie if they think they can a) get away with it and b) stay out of trouble.

What makes my job great though is when they do learn the value of honesty. Owning up, in some of their eyes, is the grown up thing to do. They will come and put their name on the board (standard teacher warning style) without being asked. It’s their version of raising a cup to their lips and admitting that they have (ever) done it.

As the last few days with my class whittle away I find myself very glad to be going on a much needed break. I also feel very sad about my class going to another teacher. Its like a friend who has moved far away. You still see them, just not as often and for shorter periods of time.

I will miss this group of 30 kids. The jokes, fun, growing up, problems, drama and even some of the back chat. I take consolation in the fact that I will feel the same this time next year.

In spite of all the crap and stress that comes with it,  I can honestly say that I love my job. I’ll love it even more with 6 weeks off.

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My friend Alex came over yesterday. We watched Blade. Alex had never seen it.

What makes a film timeless and what makes it of its time? Last night while watching Blade I noticed that it felt a bit dated. It was very much A 90’s film ( a fact that I IMDBed. Maybe I should try and get that into the urban dictionary.”I wanted to know what other films Kris Kristofferson had been in so I IMDBed it.” By the way he hasn’t been in as many films as you think, check it out. Oops, digression).
So what makes a film of its time and what makes it timeless?

1) A film set in a certain time that is filmed at the time. Some films are set in the fifties and filmed in the 80’s. This seems to work as there is an effort to make the film authentic to the era. Blade was filmed in the 90’s and really feels like it. The clothes, the back drop the 90’s ness of it. I also think its one of those had to see it at the time films. If you saw it at the time you don’t notice the fact that it’s dated. Prime examples of this are a) The Goonies b) Ferris Buellers Day off and c) Mall Rats.
Some films can escape this trap but not many.

2) Sayings and phrases. As if! Cha-Ching! Bonus! Granted most of these are 90’s slang but that’s my comfort zone. It’s funny when you watch stuff back and have that ‘I used to say that all the time’ feeling. You can also tell the language is of it’s time when the older generation start using it 10 or 20 years later. My parents tell me they are having a chill out day quite often. I can’t remember the last time I put the out at the end of chill. What I also find amusing is that the current generation of kids laugh at me for my miss use of current slang (innit fam).

3) Technology. Will anyone watch the social network in 20 years time? Will any 20 year old even know what it is about? My 2 year old will never know a world without the Internet or the global domination of fruit named companies such as Apple and Blackberry. Give me an example I hear you shout. Fine, no need for that tone.

The Net
Angela Bennett’s a software engineer type who works from home and has few friends outside of cyberspace. Taking her first vacation in years she becomes embroiled in a web of computer espionage.

I just IMDBed that.

It’s not just that though, it’s the fact that they put a cassette tape in the tape deck in ‘White Men Can’t Jump’. A kid in my class found a tape in the stock room the other day and asked me what it was.

4) Special effects. Just go look at ‘The Last Starfighter’ and ‘Flight of the Navigator’.

Alex enjoyed the film by the way. I think it was more in a cheesy 90’s nostalgia way though.

All pictures in the blog today are from IMDB. I IMDBed them all.

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The future is coming!

As a teacher I get to impart my knowledge to the children in my class. Yes I do have to follow the national curriculum and yes most of the time it’s about being 2 steps ahead of the kids with your subject knowledge. At the moment we are looking at films and the composition, lighting, mood, language and so on. It made me realise how much I love films and how passionate I get when talking about them. It’s as if I am actually in the film when I watch a good one. It also means that I retain a great deal of useless information. One of my favourite knowledge banks is that of future dates in sci-fi films. Here are some of my top ones.

22nd of December, 2012. Fox Mulder uncovered a plot for alien colonisation of Earth. In one of the last episodes of the show the deep throat cigarette smoking dude fills in Fox on the “End Game” plans by the military. This prediction was made in 2002. Unfortunately we have all seen our last Christmas in the comfort of our own homes people, that’s why I’m having presents early this year and running up a huge credit card bill.


21st of October, 2015. Back to the Future, Part 2. Three years till hover boards! This has its inclusion because of the alternate time line in the film. If an idiot like Biff can run a global empire then imagine if someone with brains got their hands on a DeLorean and a sports almanac from the future. Fistfights, chase scenes and teeny tiny pizzas that you can rehydrate? Bring it on.


Sometime in November, 2019. The replicants are coming! The humanoid clones return to Earth on a stolen spaceship, hell bent on killing the evil suits at the Tyrrell Corporation. Ex cop Rick Deckard is the “Blade Runner” who is sent to chase them down. I think if I was sent off-world to do some of the crappy jobs I’d also be a little upset. Prediction made in 1982 and any other time the director/media company needed an extra few quid and released another version.


Sometime in 2022. The secret is in the sauce. Earth has run out of natural foods and is overpopulated. Step in Soylent, a company with all the answers. Detective Robert Thorn nearly ends up as lunch when he discovers the truth about what goes into making “Soylent Green” when investigating a murder. It’s still got to be better than a pot noodle. Prediction made in 1973.


3rd of August, 2032. Getting sent to the cooler takes on a whole new meaning. Simon Phoenix and John Spartan, the “Demolition Man”, duke it out in the futuristic land of San Angeles. Phoenix escapes and Spartan is unfrozen and tasked with bringing him down. My main concern about this is the fact that they don’t seem to have toilet paper, that and sex is a non contact sport. Prediction made in 1993.

5th of April, 2063. To boldly go… Captain Picard and crew fight off the Borg infestation aboard the Enterprise so that “First Contact” can go off without a hitch. The meeting between Zefram Cochrane and the Vulcans is the backdrop for an epic battle against assimilation by the Borg, who attempt to set up a sub space beacon directing the past Borg to Earth. It’s a prediction made in the present about a future star ship going back in time to our future. Confused? Prediction made in 1996.

2 extra come from two very different sub groups of sci-fi. I have left them out of the main list partly because they won’t concern the inhabitants of Earth directly and partly because they are sooooo far away. The first is 18th August 2158, the day the Na’vi protect their home world and fight off that hard ass army dude. The second is May 2511. Malcolm Reynolds makes his last stand in the Battle of Serenity Valley. If you haven’t seen Firefly (or the spin off movie Serenity) then you must. It’s a cult thing these days but you won’t be disappointed.

Please let me know of any other disasters or important moments I’ve missed (or might miss).

Enjoy your weekend, it could be one of the last we have on this planet.

Feel free to leave a comment, your email address won’t be used for any sinister plot. Alternatively you can cut and past the URL into your Facebook status or twitter to share it. That is all.

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Footballing reasons

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Not only has my wife become a football widow but I have also neglected my blogging duties. Welcome to Euro 2012.

There is something compulsive about it. Something that makes you watch competitive games between countries you can’t even find on a map. Games that scream of tedium and are special only in how amazingly average they seem to be. Countries I wouldn’t go and see play live if they were holding a game at the end of the road.

Competitive football tournements though makes these countries interesting. Not only do I neglect my family when games are on, I also become obsessed with stats, analysis, team selection and highlights. It’s all encompassing.

It becomes even more so when England are playing. It’s the knot in your stomach when the opposition is on the edge of your 18 yard box, the hope when a player, someone you have just berated, runs at the other teams goal. The elation of the goal, the crushing defeat of the equaliser, the shouts and swearing at the TV as if the players can hear you.

So a short blog this week. Can’t help it, football is on.

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Ugly Kid Joe: The Comeback Gig

Ugly Kid Joe are back! And they are fantastic. From the chugging chords of Neighbor, to the acoustic version of Cats in the Cradle and the inevitable encore of Everything About You, it was as if they had never been away.

Before they could take the stage, the support act of Fozzy attempted to get the crowd going. They were not great. The crowd sung along when directed to and waved their hands with the lead singer. I think this was mainly because of his size of the lead singer and the fact the he was (and still is I suppose) American wrestler Chris Jericho. Big? yep. Scary? yep. Camp? Very much so. They came on and left with a meh, then it was time for UKJ.

They opened with the shout along classic VIP and the crowd responded as expected. The crowd itself was a real mix of people of all ages. I was surprised to see some people there under 20, not surprised to see lots more 30 somethings and happy to see the old rockers with the obligatory Stones and Pink Floyd t’s on. As the set progressed it became clear that they had practiced for this gig. They were tight, enthusiastic, humble and seemed to enjoy (unlike most other bands who have not had a fifteen year break between gigs) playing the old stuff.

The new stuff was good also. The only song that stuck out was Another Beer and only because it was played acoustically straight after Cats in the Cradle. The crowd went from shouting the lyrics as one, to complete silence. The new EP was available from the merch stall (we were informed by lead singer Whitfield Crane that they don’t have, nor need, management or a label) or can be downloaded. I must admit to downloading the greatest hits a few days before the gig. I must also admit to not buying the new EP (yet). A further admission was that of being drawn to the old school t shirts (the ones with the cartoon dude with the back to front hat on) as appose to the new ones.

I personally think that the new stuff is not standalone. In my humble opinion, as long as they keep playing the old stuff they have a money spinner. I would highly recommend going to see them, if only for that being fifteen feeling. I leave you with the set list. If you are going to see them, prepare yourself for a nostalgic treat.

Setlist:

VIP
Neighbor
God
Dialogue
Panhandlin’ Prince
Milkman’s Son
C.U.S.T
Cats in the Cradle
Another Beer
Sweet Leaf
Make Me Sick
I’m Alright
Tomorrow’s World
God Damn Devil
Everything About You

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An open letter to my neighbours

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Dear neighbours,
I have come to the conclusion that my ‘not to subtle stares’ and ‘talking very loudly on the balcony about my issues’ tactics are not getting through. I Am therefore left with no choice but to write a letter of complaint on a blog that you will never read. I believe you have it coming.

Firstly, I feel I need to inform you that the harder you slam your door has no relationship or bearing to how securely it is closed. Burglars will not be foiled by this tactic, they will not reach your door and find that it has been slam locked and so give up and look for a more considerate persons door. It will not protect you from nuclear fallout. When the dust settles and the rescue teams, in hazmat suits, come to search for survivors, they will not find you alive and well. The tabloids will not run the headline ‘Door slammers are fallout out jammers’. Force of slam + noise of door shutting = safety. No.

In addition, the cigarette butt collage on the balcony is not considered art, so please feel free to use an ashtray and not your window. If this does not change then I shall douse my balcony in petrol so that I have an early warning system and can find out who is chucking them. Yes, this may burn down our block of flats, but the upside to this is that you, being higher up, will take longer to escape. I also feel that if an investigation goes ahead, you will be the one held to account for physically starting the fire.

Finally, buzzing my door at 3 in the morning will not have the desired effect of me letting you in. It will make me swear at you through the intercom. I may also decide to get up at 6.30am just to buzz your buzzer repeatedly. I would expect you to swear at me back and accept that outcome with a smirk.

In conclusion, I feel that this letter should put a stop to all my gripes. Please find my obscure blog, read it, make the link between it and me, take it on board, change your ways and consider your neighbours. The alternative is unthinkable. I may have to speak to you in person. As a Londoner, I feel this breaks many social etiquette rules.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Thomas (flat 3)

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Trouble and strife

Trouble and strife.

I am very happily married. Honestly, I’m not just saying it. We still talk to one and other, we enjoy each others company, we laugh and joke (mainly me joking and her laughing, but that suits us both). Life is good. Smug? you bet.

The thing that I have started to notice though is that our relationship has become more and more dependent on the level of knowledge we have about each other. The sayings we now share (no idea who brought which particular saying to the relationship), the short hand or gibberish, the fact that I know she will not be interested in what I am about to tell her, and the fact that I tell her anyway.

The other day I was trying to explain the end of the premier league season to her. To me it was the best final day to a season I had ever witnessed. I started the conversation with “I can’t believe what happened in the football today” silence followed. “I know you don’t care but i’m gonna tell you anyway”

Her: OK, but don’t expect me to remember it.

Me: So basically, It all came down to the last 2 minutes. United thought they had it in the bag as City were drawing. The full time whistle blew at United but City still had 2 extra minutes to play.

Her: OK

Me: So as the seconds ticked by United really thought they had it and in the dying seconds of stoppage time City scored. You should have seen the look on the United players faces

Her: I wonder what time the supermarket closes today.

It’s my own fault for boring her with football, star trek, star wars, star gate, athletics, snooker…you get the picture. The fact is that I think love is letting me ramble on regardless without telling me to shut up.

The other thing is that of the relationship shorthand. Can you pass me the thingy? And in a moment or two it’s in my hands. Did you get the stuff? And usually an affirmitave or negative response follows, but she always knows what I mean. It gets better though. Sometimes I don’t even need to finish what I am saying and she will be able to respond. “Did you…?” “yep”

Some people may find this kind of thing annoying, I find it endearing. I love the fact that whole conversations worth of understanding can pass in just a few words. The best part though is the fact that she knows exactly which part of my back to scratch.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend. I promise to be less cheesy next week.

As always, feel free to share the link, re blog or point people to my new (fancy pants) website address www.andrewauthor.com

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