Category Archives: humour
Andy Bargery at Londonbloggers.net has done it again. He has secured generous sponsorship for our bloggers’ meetup tonight, from Bacardi Breezer (the 100 calorie version) and House of Fraser. Epic Brother will be joining me at the meetup because I’m encouraging him to take to his keyboard and blog. It should be interesting for him to mingle with the blog-erati of London, whilst enjoying a low-calorie Breezer or two from the folk at Bacardi.
In anticipation of tonight’s festivities at Verve on St Martin’s Lane, Andy posted a competition. This time we had to say our most enjoyable methods of losing 100 calories and needless to say, because it’s a family-rated site, no indoor games of an adult variety were appropriate, not that I’d know any.
When I racked my brain, I don’t really have FUN losing calories, especially as the Epicurienne waistline has grown since co-habiting with Monsieur, due to our shared love of all things gastronomic and therefore I’ve been working hard recently to lose those extra pounds. None of it has been particularly enjoyable, although I’m happy to say that it’s working and I’ve dropped more than a dress size. My tips? I highly recommend coordinating the move of a large office, working 12 days straight, developing a chest infection and eating sea bass for Christmas lunch in order to kick start any weight loss plan. After that, eating less in the evening and swimming three times a week should work wonders along with a bit of Wii to combat the bingo wings.
When I thought harder about fun ways to lose 100 calories, I could have said that the achievement of climbing Ben Nevis was fun, but it wasn’t. It was bl**dy hard work going up and we got lost on our way down and my group included Little Miss Moany-pants, whom I dearly wanted to kick down the side of the mountain at one point. To make it worse, once we’d checked out the summit, which was freezing and looked like the moon, we realised that going DOWN the mountain hurt our legs more than going UP. It was a complete ankle-cracker. No, it was not fun. The best part of climbing Ben Nevis was the last 200 metres when we could see the pub.
Then I thought of kayaking. I love kayaking and so does Monsieur, but there’s a good reason why they call a tandem kayak ‘the marriage wrecker’. The last time we stepped into one of these boats, Monsieur and I had been engaged for a mere 48 hours. By the end of our little trip down the Dordogne, I think we could both have burned a further 100 calories by beating each other over the head with our paddles. No, I couldn’t put that down as fun.
I don’t ‘do’ gyms, apart from swimming, which I love. I no longer have the stamina for clubbing but I do like dancing around the living room. I can do certain Wii games but I’m embarrassing at others, and when I tried to play PS3 at the weekend, Monsieur got so frustrated with my lack of skill that he had to leave the room. (I think my somewhat vigorous abuse of the console may also have contributed to his exit.) How else can we kill those calories? Well, I heard once that housework burns them off, but I’ve never enjoyed shaking a feather duster or vacuuming, so cross those off the list. However, in the course of my research I found that pretty much everything I do during a typical day contributes to burning those calories, from blogging to cooking. Yes, my friends, you can even lose weight whilst whipping up some dinner.
So that’s what I decided to write in my entry – a Day in the Life of Epicurienne. I also had fun playing around with my avatar and the Paint application. Hmmm. I may not be a whizz at Photoshop but you just may see more Paint-ed pictures here soon. Here’s my entry:
Some while back, My Friend, The Planet (otherwise known as Planet Ross) sent me his blue monkey. He’s a funny little figurine with a pointy hat that probably has some sort of spiritual significance, but the only spiritual influence he’s had so far in London has been scaring one of my colleagues so much just by looking at her that I had to take him to live at home. Prior to that I thought he’d have fun living at work, but that was probably a mistake on my part. Only sad people like living at work. In any case, when Blue Monkey lived with The Planet in Japan, his life was fun. He played with puzzles and predicted the future all day long. Now his days are spent presiding over my shrine, scaring visitors and drinking from my rapidly diminishing bottle of sake when he thinks I’m not looking.
I knew I should send something back to The Planet, but wasn’t sure what to get. Then, one day when Blue Monkey and I were out shopping, we saw the ideal book for this man who loves word play so off it went to Japan for The Planet’s birthday. Here’s the post written by The Planet about his late birthday snail-mail from Blue Monkey and me.
PS Planet Ross thinks he’s old this year, but as Blue Monkey told him “you’re actuarry very young for a pranet”. (Blue Monkey’s still having problems with the English L sound but we’re working on it. ).
Splendid Becca did the unexpected: this afternoon she sent me a bottle of José Cuervo’s Margaritas with a stunning glass from which to consume this Christmas cocktail. Now, that’s what I call the incentive to drag me out of my pre-Christmas illness wallow-hollow and back into the festive spirit (no pun intended). Then, with superb timing, The Epic Brother called to say he’d be popping by tonight, so I’ll have a Margarita Partner-in-Crime for the tasting session.
The back of the bottle informs me that:
The Margarita Cocktail was created in 1938 in honour of a beautiful Mexican showgirl named Rita de la Rosa. A bartender, inspired by her electrifying performance, improvised a cocktail to capture her heart with Cuervo and the flavour of Mexican limones. Ever since then the Cuervo Margarita continues to capture the hearts of so many around the world.
Well, then. I know what they say about the effects of tequila, and I admit to having had some interesting experiences with it myself, but the question in my head now is whether said bartender succeeded in capturing Rita de la Rosa’s heart with a little help from Señor Cuervo? Intrigued by the tale and being a true Google-r, I visited Wikipedia to find that there are various theories on how the Margarita came about. No news on Rita de la Rosa’s cocktail shaking suitor, but in the end it doesn’t really matter who was first to create this tequila-lover’s staple; thanks to Becca, I have a bottle of Margaritas that’s begging to be opened and poured over ice in a Splendid-ly salt-rimmed glass. That’s far more important.
While I’m waiting for the Epic Brother to arrive, here’s another sort of Margarita to keep you entertained – Margarita Pracatan. In case you weren’t a fan of Clive James’ TV show in nineties’ Britain, Ms Pracatan is a Cuban singer with a boa wardrobe to beat that of Priscilla Queen of the Desert and a delivery that can only be called unique.
PS José Cuervo Margaritas contains José Cuervo Gold Tequila, natural triple sec and lime-flavoured spirit. Heaven help me!
PPS Epic Brother and I have thoroughly enjoyed the Margaritas. Thank you José Cuervo and Merry Christmas!
An Epic trick for getting out of a dark funk on a rainy, grey day when people are losing their jobs and heads all around is to visit a greetings card store where the selection is filled with humourous one-liners. I’ve been known to giggle into a fit of teary laughter doing this before.
WARNING: If you are easily offended I would suggest you DO NOT click on the following link. Seriously.
One of the best UK ranges of greetings cards for this purpose is by kissmekwik. They seem to have taken the photos from 1960s fashion mags or knitting patterns, adding a caustic caption that can be so wrong at times that it would be understandable if you snorted mucous all over the (a) card/s or (b) computer. The more religious among us may feel the need for an emergency confession and a lot of prayer after checking out this range. Anyhoo, if you want to save some cash in these crunchie times, order online. You’ll save at least 50p per card and you’ll be able to stock up your Martha Stewart gift cupboard at the same time.
To give you an example of just how naughty these cards can be, here’s a brief selection:
Just like the woman who turned up at Chelsea & Westminster A&E with a broken nail one busy Saturday night when a doctor friend was interning. Perhaps that was Mary, too?
Yes, well, enough said. At least we can’t see her knickers. Then again, perhaps that’s a clue.
I once stood in line behind a woman at Dean & Delucca in New York and her order was strangely similar to this one.
My boss knows I like to cook; he should do since I’ve become a little more curvaceous than usual since I started working for him 4 years ago. When Boss returned from holiday at the end of the summer, he brought me back a gift for holding the fort: an apron with a design by English illustrator, Simon Drew.
Anyone who knows Drew’s work will smile at the illustration of puns, particularly those related to animals. In Shepherd Spy, the pun relates to a spying sheep dog working amongst his flock, the meaning of which has been punned out of ‘Shepherd’s Pie’. Here’s another one:
Drew’s puzzle or ‘SPOT the…’ cards keep everyone guessing for a while: each line of the cover consists of a combination of pictures. You say the word for each picture aloud until you work out the combination, for instance, in his Spot the City cards, you may have Hell+Sink+Key = Helsinki.
If you like this sort of humour, you can buy greetings cards, books and many other gifts with similar punning illustrations from Simon Drew’s website, here.
Here’s a foodie joke that popped into my in-box this morning. I like it…
THE FINAL WORD ON NUTRITION
After an exhaustive review of the research literature, here’s the final word on nutrition and health.:
1. Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than us.
2. Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than us.
3. Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than us.
4.. Italians drink excessive amounts of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than us.
5. Germans drink beer and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than us.
6. The French eat foie-gras, full fat cheese and drink red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than us
The Joker’s CONCLUSION: Eat and drink what you like. Speaking English is apparently what kills you.
Epic’s conclusion: stock up the cellar, eat more foie gras, go to Wahaca more and book for 2009 Oktoberfest.
Following on from my recent experience with a sniffer dog who got it wrong, I thought I’d look into the success rates of these working dogs.
In Australia, they’re not convinced. Following research into sniffer dog accuracy a couple of years back, it was found that only one quarter of positive sniffs yield drugs. I don’t know why that should be a surprise, after all, no matter how much positive reinforcement you use to train a dog to recognise drugs on a person, they are still going to be interested in their own favourity doggie smells – food, bodily fluids, insect repellant (apparently). Here are some articles about when the sniffer dogs who bark up the wrong tree:
From Australia…, this report card for Downunder’s sniffies includes a lot of Ds and must sniff harder.
This post is from a chap who was stopped on the way to a legitimate meeting in Camden Town. The comments on this post are almost as good as the article! It would seem I’m not alone…
In Canada, they’re arguing over sniffer dogs and the infringement of civil liberties. Sniffer dogs should not be allowed to search for drugs in schools or public places – a recent ruling has decreed this to be the case – however, as the threat of explosives in airports is a more serious threat, sniffer dogs will still be allowed to operate there. I get it, but it is somewhat confusing. If an airport is a public place but I’m not an explosive, then why search me? It’s like those philosophical exercises: if a pig is pink and Maxine is pink then does that make Maxine a pig? It’s not exactly a yes or no answer. Besides which, in my experience, those bits of material that can be sniffed by a machine seem to be way more accurate than the dog (who’s probably more interested in food and people’s more delicate parts).
Without boring you with the other articles I’ve found, I can summarise by saying that sniffer dogs are far less accurate than we assume, so the next time you see someone being hauled off for further questioning by a customs official and a Sniffy, you should NOT presume they’re transporting illegal drugs. It could just be that the dog hasn’t had dinner yet and wants some of that duty free chocolate in the nice person’s backpack.
Meanwhile, Natasha Cloutier, my friend from Blog08 in Amsterdam, just sent me the link for a song about sniffer dogs. Can you believe it? Get those heads banging and enjoy (if you can). Personally, I think these guys need a spliff or something to calm them down…
The song’s called ‘I wanna be a drug sniffing dog’ (in case you can’t quite make out the lyrics). It’s by LARD.
This week I’ve been the lucky recipient of two meme requests for the same meme, so I’m going to kill two bloggers (not literally) with one stone and post my meme answer for both here.
The meme asks for three answers to each of three questions. Here goes.
1. Name your top three non-work websites.
Hmmm. Only three? That’s tough. In the interests of being fair to all the amazing blogs I read, I decided to restrict this to non-work and non-individual blog websites.
For TRAVEL I log on to Travelblog. This is where travel enthusiasts post about their trips as they happen. It’s great for travel planning because you can read about the real experiences of real people in real places, not just hyped-up travel journalism fuelled by freebie junkets.
For FOOD I’m currently reading the Britain’s Best Dish page at ITV.com. This is a great source of real recipes cooked by real people. I think you can probably tell that I’m quite into REAL.
For a GIGGLE I check out The Darwin Awards site. It never ceases to amaze me how people can meet the grim reaper in such incredibly stupid ways. I remember one tale about a parcel bomber who had to put a return address on his parcel bomb in order for the post office to accept it. The parcel was unable to be delivered, so it was returned to him. He didn’t recognise his own handiwork, opened the box and BOOM! I think you can guess the rest. What a doof.
2. Name your top three karaoke songs.
Well, karaoke + Epicurienne = not so pretty. I do recall singing California Dreaming at karaoke once. I think that was when Take That were still together. Then I had a flatmate with a karaoke machine, so I was forced into singing a bit more often at that time. If I have to sing something, then I quite like ABC’s The Look of Love and Don McLean’s American Pie (NOT the Madonna version. That was a mistake. Mind you, I’m sure mine is far, far worse.)
3. Name your top three weekend cocktails.
Why WEEKEND cocktails? I don’t drink cocktails that often, but if it happens to be a Tuesday evening and you pour me a great cocktail, I’m hardly going to say no. That would be rude. And silly.
The Epicurienne would have to be number one. How many people can say they have their own, bespoke cocktail? Thanks to Smirnoff, quite a few of the London Bloggers’ Meetup Group can… and I’m one of them. It’s basically a Smirnoff mule (Smirnoff red + gingerale) shaken with pineapple juice, chambord and strawberries. Deeeelish.
I absolutely cannot refuse a Mississippi Mudslide – tastes like an alcoholic chocolate shake, comprising a naughty blend of kahlua, baileys and (if you really want a kick) vodka, all blended with ice. I also love lemon martinis made with limoncello.
So that’s my three for three.
Now I have to name three more unsuspecting folk to carry on the three for three. I’m asking:
At long last, I flew to Amsterdam for Blog08 last week, with the clogs I’d promised to wear packed dutifully in my case. Friday’s conference was packed with interest and Monsieur joined me on Saturday for some Amsterdam sightseeing. We packed five museums and a lot of clog photography into the weekend, and then we flew home. Separately.
As part of my competition prize had included flights, I was taking KLM. Monsieur, meanwhile, had a free flight on BA courtesy of a diligent accrual of points with his favoured airline. His flight left Schiphol an hour before mine but I didn’t get home until three hours after him; instead of racing onto the Heathrow Express homeward-bound, I was instead the subject of a Very Special Greeting by customs officials when KLM landed at Terminal 4.
As we filed off the plane, an official instructed us to walk single-file along one side of the corridor so we could be sniffed by a drugs dog. When it came my turn, I fully expected the dog to take a cursory sniff and move on, but he didn’t. Apparently I smelled GOOOD, so as his nose went all around my nether regions, I wondered what could be so interesting about me. Then he sat at my feet and looked up at his handler. That was the sign. According to the hound I was a problem so I was waved out of the corridor and taken aside.
An official took my passport and asked a number of questions as he worked his way through my previously neatly-arranged carry on bags. Meanwhile, my fellow passengers walked past, casting looks of disdain in my direction. ‘Great. They think I’m one of those people on Airport, with all sorts of illegal substances ferretted away on my person,’ I thought to myself. I already knew that they couldn’t be more wrong; sauvignon blanc is my substance of choice and unless they considered that to be Class A on a list of drugs (I’d just consumed some on the flight) then I was going to be a complete waste of their time.
The officials separated me from my bags and brought the dog back. He didn’t find anything of interest in my carry-on, so they brought him across to sniff me again. His nose kept finding its way to my crotch in a disturbingly-insistent fashion. Perhaps he thought I’d squirreled some narcotics into a particular orifice? Thoughts of latex gloves started to feature in my mind. Whatever would I tell Monsieur?
The main official overseeing this investigation told me they’d now have to fast-track me through customs and retrieve my suitcase from the conveyor. As we approached a customs desk from a side gate, my seat neighbour, a visiting professional from the Phillipines with whom I’d had a friendly in-flight chat, looked directly at me. She frowned and shook her head before turning away. Oh joy. Now it was confirmed in my fellow passengers’ heads that I was a drug-runner. How little did they know! My face burned.
On the way down to baggage collection, I turned to the official.
“I hope you don’t mind me being graphic for a minute, but I have my period. Could that be a factor in what the dog can smell?”
“No,” he replied, “the dog is trained to sniff out Class A drugs.”
That was the end of that Epicurienne theory. It had only occurred to me because I’ve noticed that when it’s that time of the month, dogs take an extra-special interest in sniffing girls. Apparently we give off a similar smell to a bitch on heat. (Some might say that’s exactly what we are, but I couldn’t possibly agree.)
Wondering now if someone could have planted something in my case when I left it at the hotel after check-out this morning, the officials and I collected my luggage before going to the red “Something to Declare” section of the customs exit. There my case was opened and underwear, nightwear and big, wooden CLOGS bared for all to see, along with a pack of tampax. With two pairs of clogs in my luggage, I certainly can’t have been your usual suspect. I answered questions about what I did for a living, how long I’ve lived in the UK, why I was in Amsterdam (I won a blogging competition) and with whom I’d been travelling. When I explained that my fiancé had been with me but had flown back earlier, faces frowned again. They probably thought Monsieur was the drug baron and I was his mule. Poor Monsieur. I was quite relieved he wasn’t there to see this.
Little pieces of drug-sensitive cloth were rubbed around my suitcase and on my clothes before being put into a sniffer machine. Negative, negative came the machine’s response to the situation. Had I used drugs in the past two weeks, they asked. No, came my reply. Not unless you count ibuprofen. Would I be averse to a urine test to prove that? was the next question. Not at all, I replied whilst thinking ‘Where’s the cup? Just give me the cup. I’d gladly pee into any receptacle if that’s what it takes to get out of here and GO HOME.’
By now I could see that the officials were somewhat perplexed. As they told me, I’m well-spoken, obviously professional and could prove my reason for a visit to Amsterdam (no whacky backy required). Physically, I was on form (apart from blushing with shame at being escorted through the airport by uniformed officials). I wasn’t shaky or red-eyed, didn’t stink of an all-nighter or three like many visitors to the grass-capital of Europe might and was relatively calm considering the massive embarrassment I was currently enduring. Apart from a canine with an interest in my crotch, there was nothing to show that I had any contact with drugs.
Then a female official came up to me.
“Can I ask you a personal question?” she asked,
“Of course,” I replied (still wondering when I was going to be taken away for a more thorough inspection),
“You don’t by any chance have your period?” she ventured,
“Yes I do. Could that be a factor?”
“Yes it could.”
“Really?” asked the male official,
“Yes.” said the woman. I think that’s what you’d call a Homer Simpson moment. DOH.
The male official went off to consult his serious-faced boss. They talked for ages. I looked at the ceiling. I looked at the floor. I looked at my dishevelled belongings and I looked at the door marked with “Authorised Personnel Only”, wondering how long it would be before I was led off to somewhere more ‘private’. Then the male official returned.
“I’ve told my boss that you should be allowed to go. You’re too helpful to be a druggie. We can’t find any evidence of drugs here. We’ll just say that the dog was wrong.”
He continued “You may simply have sat in a seat where someone using drugs had been before you.” God bless the liberality of Amsterdam. Major sarcasm intended.
So with that, I packed up my suitcase, clogs included, and left for home. Home, sweet home. I wouldn’t be in the clink tonight. As Monsieur later told me with a big, comforting hug, “Darling, I just can’t let you travel on your own, can I?” He might just be right.
PS I have debated with myself all morning whether or not to write about this because I don’t usually get so personal. Although the dog was obviously barking up the wrong tree, so to speak, causing a great amount of embarrassment and inconvenience to all concerned, I have to say that the customs officials dealing with me were polite and professional. At the end of the ordeal, they apologised and admitted that an error had occurred. However, because I never realised that something like this could happen, I do think it’s important for Epicurienne readers to take note of my experience, just in case the dog ever gets it wrong with one of you.