Monday, 6 February 2012

Eating Your Way Through £75 of Complimentary Biscuits Is Harder Than It Sounds

Some American people in England just don't do themselves any favours, do they? I thought this as one strolled into my speed awareness course last week, sunglasses on (inside, in England, in February), strapped up in sandals and wearing shorts - I'm surprised he wasn't carrying a water bottle and wearing a bumbag. He sauntered in wearing one of those 'how-hilarious-is-this' smirks - you know the type people do in school when everyone is in detention together and there's that nice sense of criminal comradery? Except this time it wasn't school, we were watching videos of children being knocked over by speeding transit vans, and instead of spending lunchtime in a classroom, we were spending the entire afternoon in a building in Bradford. Plus, we had all been forced to pay £75 to be there, and, apart from the complimentary biscuits, there was not a lot to smile about. I placed myself as far away as I could from this man and opted instead to sit at a table of middle-aged women who appeared to have all reached a silent agreement not to judge each other and I could tell by their faces that they were all pretending this was book club and not a course for law-breaking citizens. We were also joined by a woman named Jean who was well into her eighties and obviously fancied herself as a bit of a boy racer. I realised (too late) that sitting with middle-aged women meant that I was sat with the people most likely to start crying when the Speeding Kills Children videos began. In all fairness, they were horrendous, but there's only so much awkward back patting I can perform whilst simultaneously jotting down all the potential hazards in the video and trying to eat my £75 worth of complimentary biscuits before the end of the session. By the end of the first hour, I realised just how little I knew the highway code after only getting 3 out of 8 road signs correct on the pop quiz. (I suppose that's what I get for copying Jean, who obviously has a complete disregard for the law and probably hasn't looked at the highway code since she passed her test in 1905). I did feel slightly better though after noticing that Christa Ackroyd, our local newsreader, was also on the course after being done speeding on the same road I was caught on. We had a nice little chat during the break and found some of the criminal comradery the American was after. I mean, it's not like we were sharing a cell and showering together, but I'm pretty sure she'd have let me plait her hair if I'd asked. (I didn't).

As punishments go, it was one of the more expensive consequences of my wrong doings. I rarely got grounded during my teenage years - it's difficult to punish a social hermit who's a little bit fat (I never left my bedroom anyway and it's going a bit far to starve your own child), so my mum just used to ban me from the internet and I would have to find entertainment elsewhere. This usually meant playing human Buckeroo in the living room with Kezia. If you're unfamiliar with Buckeroo, it's basically a children's game in which small plastic toys are piled on a small plastic donkey and then the donkey bucks and the toys all fly off. We didn't have it. Instead, I would curl up on the floor underneath a duvet whilst Kezia piled a varied assortment of objects on my back (including but not limited to kitchen appliances). I would then leap up (buck, if you will) at random intervals and scream BUCKEROO!, thus sending said objects flying around the living room, repeating the process until something got broken and/or I got tired (fat kid, remember). It was one of the many cheaper alternatives to the real thing we had when we were younger, another of which was a Mum's-On-A-Budget version of Hungry, Hungry Hippos. Instead of hippos, they were dogs, there was only two of them, and instead of the dramatic Hungry, Hungry Hippos name, it was instead called something like Somewhat Peckish Dogs. And whilst I'm on the subject, another of my mother's money saving schemes was to sit us on the children's rides outside Morrisons and let us play around having the time of our lives. It wasn't until we were at least ten and (in my case) too big to ride them, that we realised that if you insert money into it, the ride moves. This mean trick of hers backfired when I walked out of Sainsburys one day and got on a stranger's real motorbike thinking it was another stationary ride... It would seem the tables of embarrassment have turned these days, however. I was forced to cut short my Friday night Gilmore Girls marathon last week to go and collect my drunk mother and her friend from Bingley at 2 o'clock in the morning. I assumed that a text saying, "come now i'm the frands x y w x" was her way of telling me that she was ready for collection and drove around for the next twenty minutes looking for them after being repeatedly put on hold and hung up on because my mother was too drunk to answer her mobile. (To be fair, even when she's sober she struggles to operate anything that isn't the BT BigButton500... Seriously, that is the name of our house phone.) Eventually, I made my way through the sea of drunk girls showing their underwear (one of whom, for one horrifying moment, I thought was my mother) and found my two passengers staggering around on the pavement. You wouldn't have thought it, but even in her inebriated state my mother still managed to backseat drive (with her head out of the window) all the way home.

Work has been relatively dead recently, excluding the panic buying epidemic that happened on Saturday due to a small bit of snow. Every year it snows, and yet every year, without fail, it still somehow causes chaos. As always, though, I found sufficient ways to keep myself amused. Last week me and Nat spent a good portion of the morning figuring out how much her boobs weighed if measured in units of industrial tins of corned beef - finally, learning Maths at school has been put into practice in a real life work-based situation. Unfortunately, someone in the office obviously failed to put their Geography education into practice after decorating the Burns' night advertisement board with Finnish flags instead of Scottish...

4 comments:

Britt said...

"Somewhat Peckish Dogs" is a brilliant alternative to HHH. I love you crazy Brits.

I hope those biscuits were delicious. 75 (I can't make the symbol for pounds on my computer...) is a LOT for a class like that. I hope you were driving fast enough to make Speedy Gonzalez blush. Otherwise that's just a ripoff.

Amelie said...

I'm glad that you're also outraged by the obscene amount of money I had to pay for my sins. The thing is, I wasn't going that much over the limit, because if you are going that much over you don't get the option of going on a course and instead you just have to pay the fine, get the points on your licence, and there are NO FREE BISCUITS. No food = not worth it.

Melissa Pace said...

I second Britt about the somewhat peckish dogs.

I think Jean and your mom should hang out sometime. Jean can drive.

Amelia said...

I had a similar experience recently, only with an alcohol-awareness course (I'm in America for 4 months, so drinking has unfortunately somehow become illegal again). $50 to hear that I apparently drink more than 88% of American women. Still waiting to decide whether it was worth it.