I had a phone call on New Year's Day from a lass at an employment agency I'd never heard of, who didn't seem to realise it was New Year's Day as she asked me if I was at work.
When I tell her I was laid off on 21st December she asks me what I've been doing since then, I say back to her "Youo want to know what I've been doing since 21st December?" and she doesn't click anything's wrong with that, I then have to explain to her that everything has been shut down since then, when the penny drops she says she got caught out because it's now 2019.
I spent some of the conversation trying to work out if this was a really good AI or someone in a call centre in a weird country somewhere where they have a different calendar... no idea how someone can be that clueless in such an odd way.
One day in the nick l was called into the Inspector’s office. On entering, l found my sergeant also present. Both were grim faced. l was panicking, mentally running through my many sins of omission and commission.
“PC Otter, we need a Gypsy Liaison Officer, and we’ve decided to appoint you.”
There was a shocked pause while they watched my face turn the colour of putty and my mouth start to work, then...
SAN DIEGO - The bruises on his face soon may heal, but the broken heart of Victor Vasquez - the Birdman of East Village - may take a while longer.
"Sydney, the day before he died, I told him, 'You're the reason I wake up in the morning," Vasquez said this week of his 31-year-old medium sulphur-crested cockatoo from Papua New Guinea, one of his three feathered companions. "He was just an amazing soul."
The bird was killed during an attack on Vasquez, which he said occurred Wednesday in front of the San Diego Central Library. Vasquez said he was punched, kicked and knocked to the ground by two unknown assailants. While Vasquez was being beaten, two of his birds got loose from their cages. One of them, Sydney, flew into the path of a passing trolley and was killed.
Vasquez, 54, had become known as the Birdman of East Village for his daily walks around downtown and Balboa Park with a tower of three birdcages strapped to his back. He and his three-tiered backpacks and squawking birds had become a fun and quirky sight in the year and a half he's lived downtown, and he was featured in a San Diego Reader article last March.
On Wednesday morning, he said, he slipped on his birdcage backpack and headed out of his small apartment on Market Street to the library to return a rented DVD. ...
Yesterday afternoon, I had quite a random experience at work which took me back a little bit.
I work on the 5th floor of a modern office block in Central London, as an ex cigarette smoker I’ll occasionally pop out to the stairwell and spend a few minutes on my vape pen, the stairwell is only used in an emergency or in a fire drill, so it’s the perfect spot for a quiet vape.
Yesterday whilst on the stairwell, I heard singing coming up the stairs, the singing was in a Lady’s voice and was in Spanish – the building’s management employ quite a few South American girls as cleaning Ladies, so obviously it was one of the cleaners.
The singing got louder and louder until the lady reached my floor, she got to the landing I was on, and completely walked past me without seemingly noticing me. - I was standing quite in the open, not in a corner or anything like that.
As she proceeded to continue up the stairs to the next level, I thought I’d light-heartedly compliment her on her singing voice – nice singing I said with a slight grin.
At that point she tuned very quickly around and gave me literally the most hateful stare I think I have ever received in my life, her teeth were gritted and her face was contorted in rage, she just stormed past me back down the stairs the way she had come.
I honestly have no idea what made her take such offence at my jokey comment.
I hadn’t seen this particular lady before in the office, and wonder if I’ll come across her again.
If I do, perhaps I’ll say sorry and she may tell me what her problem was - I was only tying to be polite.
I went to college in a city called Galway in the west of Ireland. One of my friends there was a native of the city. He often told me this story about a local character called Johnny Moocheyman, who was stumbling home from the pub late one night and he spotted a circus set up on the side of the road.
So he hops over the wall and decides to go in for a look. He wanders over to the cage where the tigers are kept and sticks his hand through the gap wanting to pet them. The tigers immediately bit both of the man's arms off.
Well, I didn't believe this story for any number of reasons. His ridiculous name, Johnny Moocheyman, the fact that the tigers managed to bite his arms off in one go, the fact that the man hadd survived, the fact that circuses apparently still exist in this day and age? None of it remotely plausible.
Couple of years later, I had just started working in a late night petrol station/convenience store. Late one night, a drunk comes up to the locked front door trying to get in. I point him around to the hatch I'm serving through. But the security guard unlocks the door and lets him in. He tells me "This is Johnny. He and the store manager are the only two people you're allowed open the front door for."
This seemed odd to me, cos he looked like a random tramp off the street. That's when I realised, the guy's sleeves were dangling. He had no arms. That night, and many other to follow that summer, I had to sell cigarettes to Johnny Moocheyman. This involved taking money out of his trouser pocket and replacing the change. It also involved opening the cigarette pack, putting a cigarette in his mouth, lighting a match and then putting the cigarette box and matches in his jacket pocket.
Postscript: a few weeks later I met a friend of mine who worked as a barman in the city. We got to talking about Johnny Moocheyman. Apparently, he drank a lot in the bar my friend was working in. All day in the bar drinking pints of Guinness through a straw.
I was giving out, telling my friend how much I dreaded putting my hand into the Johnny Moocheyman's disgusting trousers. My friend snorted, looked at the ground and said "Er, Eoiny, what do you think happens when he has to go for a piss?"
The great British eccentric is dying out ben macintyre
Maths genius Simon Norton was one of the last in a line of gifted originals, from Edith Sitwell to Alan Turing
Simon Norton was a mathematical mastermind with an abundance of facial hair who spent most of his life in a messy basement eating tinned mackerel with rice, attempting to improve Britain’s bus routes and working endlessly on an insoluble maths problem called the Monster. As his obituary in The Times this week noted: “If the word ‘genius’ has any meaning at all, it must apply to Norton — mathematician, prodigy, group theorist, bus timetable enthusiast.” And eccentric.
Norton was not mad. He was brilliant. He did not think his life was odd in any way. He was not playing a role. He was that most rare of creatures, a genuine British eccentric, who did not know that this was what he was.
Britain once had the world’s greatest eccentrics, a resource that produced remarkable artistic and scientific achievements, and was frequently exported to remote corners of the empire. It may be that Britons were able to control vast areas of the globe with comparatively meagre resources because the locals mistook their eccentric behaviour for some sort of magic. Conversely anyone doing anything particularly unusual in foreign parts, usually wearing a pith helmet or pyjamas, was often automatically assumed to be British. ...
The Barmy Army of England cricket supporters is anything but eccentric, since its soldiers all do and sing exactly the same thing. The British army itself, however, has probably produced more eccentrics than any other national institution, with the exception of the aristocracy. Take the one-eyed general Sir Adrian Paul Ghislain Carton de Wiart, VC, who fought in the Boer, First and Second World Wars, suffered wounds to the face, head, stomach, hip, legs and ear, survived two plane crashes, tunnelled out of a POW camp, and ripped off his own fingers because a doctor declined to amputate. When he fell down the stairs in Rangoon and knocked himself out at the age of 68, surgeons took the opportunity to remove some of the bits of shrapnel still lying around in his body. ...
For truly world-class eccentricity few could equal Rev Dr Joseph Wolff, an Anglican vicar born in 1795 who set off on a lifelong odyssey across the Middle East, central Asia and the Caucasus on a mission to convert the heathen and find the ten lost tribes of Israel. Along the way, he argued with Christians, Jews, Hindus, Sunnis and Shias. The consequences were frequently unpleasant. Bandits tied him to the tail of a horse, he was stripped naked three times and came close to being burnt alive.
The murderous Amir of Bokhara was about to throw him into a bug pit, but got such a fit of giggles at the sight of Wolff that he spared his life. Wolff had no idea what the amir was laughing at, since he regarded his behaviour as entirely normal. ...