Sunday, December 23, 2007


I've done it again, left it ages between blogs and forgotten how to write. Also, thinking back over the last 6 weeks or so since my last post it seems as though nothing has happened. Well, a few things have happened.

I had a chest infection for a while. That was pretty lame. Everything ached, I had a raging temperature and my nights were filled with fevered nightmares. Han said it was like sleeping next to a giant, boiling hot eel as I spent all night sweating and thrashing around. Good times.

Axl asked me to do a guest blog for the Potato Farm so I drew him a little comic which turned out pretty nice. You can see it here.

I've been watching lots of tv shows on the internet too, American shows that we don't get over here. My favourite of the lot is called Pushing Daisies. It's about a pie maker who can bring the dead back to life just by touching them. However, if he touches them again they die again forever. But if he lets them stay alive for more than a minute then something else has to die instead. He makes the most of this ability by touching murder victims, asking who killed them, touching them again and claiming the reward. Its a black comedy with a strong Tim Burton influence and well worth a watch.

Finally, I've been doing a bit of Christmas shopping. I've left it all late again like I do every year, I never learn. I even went into town at the start of the month and saw a load of things I wanted to buy for presents, but then I thought to myself that I'd buy them another time and came home empty handed. I don't know why I do that. Mental problems or something I expect. Anyway, that's it. Merry Christmas and that.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Mini Rant

Remember my rants about customers from a few months back? I've got another one.

It was the big fireworks display in South Park last night and that means one thing (apart from fireworks). Several hundred people simultaneously thinking "hmmm, what shall I do now? Oh I know, I'll go to the nearest pub, no one else will think of that." So off they trot, en masse, straight to our front door. So it went from being dead to absolutely packed in about five minutes, and the idiot ratio got bumped right up. Example:

Idiot: Busy isn't it!
Me: It is now.
Idiot: That'll be the fireworks.
Me:Yes...I know.
Idiot: Pint of cold Guinness when you're ready.

You will notice that Idiot has cleverly engaged me in conversation here so as to slip his order in at the end of our exchange, thus avoiding having to wait his turn. Also, I hate it when people say "when you're ready". I quickly look around to see if there is someone else I can serve, there is not, so I start pouring his Guinness. I am standing right in front of him at this time and he can clearly see me pouring his pint.

Me: Anything else?
Idiot: (to idiot wife) Tell him what you want.
Idiot Wife: A Fosters and a Guinness.

I pour a Fosters and another Guinness. They watch me pour them.

Me: That's £8.95 please.
Idiot: You know we only wanted one Guinness, right?
Me: Oh yes, of course. That's why I poured two Guinness and rang them through the till. Of course when you ordered two Guinness I knew you only wanted one, it was perfectly obvious to me because I am a freaking mind reader. You shouldn't have to worry about making your orders clear, let me work it out for you. etc etc.

Anyway, enough ranting, other stuff has happened too.

A couple of days ago I was walking down Cowley Road when I saw three students standing around outside the Classic Liquor and Deli looking down at a two litre bottle of Coke in a puddle. I wondered what they were doing. As I got closer I understood the great tragedy that had befallen them. One of them had dropped the bag with their bottle of cheap vodka in and it had smashed on the floor, and as if that wasn't bad enough one the shards of glass had punctured the coke bottle and it was spraying out into the road. Oh dear, no booze for you tonight lads.

Good news as well. Videosyncratic are now selling comics. I went and bought Watchmen the other week, a highly regarded graphic novel from the 80's which I should have read years ago but didn't. It was really good. You should probably read it. And you should spend some money at Videosyncratic.

I'm going now. It's time for a spot of B and E. Bacon and eggs! woo hoo.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


Just saw the trailer for the new Ironman movie on the apple trailers site. It actually looks pretty good. Robert Downey Jr plays alcoholic, billionaire, weapons manufacturing, genius, playboy Tony Stark in the film which is coming out next May. The gist of it is that Stark is off visiting troops and doing a bit of sales patter when he is kidnapped by terrorists and forced to build them a missile. Probably some fancy missile I guess, as the regular kind are apparently not that difficult to come by. Anyhow, in the classic A-team/McGuyver style of baddies not fully appreciating their captives superior skills, he is locked away in a room full of goodies and told to get to work. Which of course he does, but not in the way he was supposed to. Instead he builds himself a badass suit of mechanical armour and proceeds to make everyone very sorry that they messed with him. Oh, and half way through 'Ironman' by Black Sabbath kicks in and takes things up a notch. All in all, a good start. I'm looking forward to seeing it.

While we're on the subject there's a trailer for the next Batman movie out as well. But this one doesn't have any action, just voiceovers. So instead of watching that you should go and check out Batman: Dead End. This is a short movie made by a fan a few years ago on next to no budget. Luckily, though, he was working in the special effects/props department of a movie studio at the time and was able to 'borrow' a few items on the sly when everyone went home for the night. That's how he was able to write a few special guest stars into his story. It's very faithful to the Batman that comic readers love and manages to put the Schumacher films to shame in only 8 minutes. Go watch it!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Fingers Crossed

I heard a rumour the other day, a very exciting rumour. I heard that Videosyncratic on Cowley Road were thinking about branching out into comics. As you may know it's been about 7 months since Comic Showcase shut down on St Clements and my supply dried up. I've bought a few off the internet, but it's just not the same as browsing the shelves and flicking through the pages to see what looks good.

Anyway, a rumour is just a rumour, I needed hard fact. So when a couple of guys from the store came into the pub yesterday I seized my chance and asked them. They seemed surprised that I'd heard about it but were pleased that I was so excited. It's not a definite yet, but they're giving it some serious consideration. Score! Though this does of course mean I'll be waving bye bye to any spare cash I might have. Perhaps I can persuade other people to start buying comics, then I can read them. Yeah. We'll form some sort of nerd club, only we won't talk about about it, that'll be the first rule. I know plenty of semi nerds, they 'll only need a little gentle coaxing, then I can welcome them to the dork side. (Rubs hands together in a sinister manner.)

Seriously though, if they go ahead with selling comics I hope they get plenty of support from the locals and all the people who used to shop at Comic Showcase. This is just the sort of business venture that keeps Cowley Road interesting. Videosyncratic, I salute you! And I urge everyone to go spend some money there.

Monday, August 6, 2007

The Sunday Spesh

The Slacker's Sundays are normally a finely honed exercise in relaxation and effort conservation. Because it's the only day I don't work I use it as an opportunity to be as lazy as possible. I rise at around twelve, get the kettle on for the first of many cups of tea and get on the internet. Oh, and I spend most of the day in my "leisure suit", aka my pants and maybe a vest. Sweet. Then I sit at the computer 'til about seven when Han gets home and turfs me off. At this time I like to adjourn to the sofa where I spend the rest of the evening watching crime (CSI) on the telly and eating some kind of delicious dinner. But this Sunday was a little different.

People who know me well know that my tiny ears are constantly on alert, listening out for a certain combination of words, certain magical words, and last week I heard them. "All you can eat", "Chinese", "buffet", and they were accompanied by another favourite, "cheap".

Lee Wainwright is heading off to Australia, so Rob, Rhyannon, Sam and I joined him at Oxy Oriental for a farewell feast. Man, it was good. I love a chinese buffet, to me they are an exercise in glorious gluttony, but I always get anxious that I'm not going to be able to do it justice. I started out strongly, with a plate loaded high with just about everything, and ploughed my way through it in no time. No problems so far. Then I went back for my second plate, stacked it up just like the first and started to go to work on it. Then halfway through I started to get the fear. I'd overloaded plate number two. "A buffet isn't a sprint" I thought, scolding myself, "it's a marathon, a test of endurance that needs to be treated with respect." Another problem was the potato that seemed to have been added to the chicken curry, this too was throwing me off my stride.

I slowly worked my way through my plate and when I'd finished I took five minutes to relax and compose myself. Now I was ready for more. A plate of spare ribs this time. Delicious, and as I neared the end of this plate I started to get my second wind. Sweet! This time I hit the Teppan-yaki grill. The guy working the hot plate put on quite a show and the resulting plate of steaming meat and noodles was awesome. Not wanting to appear too greedy I followed this up with just a couple of bowls of ice cream and called it a day. Full, but not too full. Then we left the restaurant and piled into Lee's boiling hot car for the ride back to the Star.

On our return it seemed that everyone wanted to watch the match. Not being a football fan I didn't much feel like joining them so I found myself at a bit of a loose end. Then, right on cue, Darren arrived with his fishing rod to see if anyone wanted to join him in an afternoon's fishing. Perfect. We set off with high hopes of a repeat of his marginal success on "boat trip". When I say marginal I don't mean to downplay Darren's skills, but he would be the first admit that things hadn't gone entirely the way he had hoped. He was the only one to catch a fish, which, unfortunately, escaped as four pairs of hands feverishly grabbed at it to try and get it onto the boat. Not deterred, he carried on fishing for several more hours, eventually landing an eel! Not what he really wanted, but after so much time and effort he was damn sure going to eat somethings flesh. So, after a chilling scene that would not have been out of place in a horror movie, he was left with a tiny fillet of eel. This he fried in a little butter and shared with those of us present, and it was actually pretty tasty. Anyway, we spent a relaxing afternoon by the river but there were no bites. It seems the fish in Oxford's rivers are too good for tinned hot dog and sweetcorn.

To top off an already pretty sweet day, Han and I stopped off at the Oriental foodstore on the way home so she could top up her supplies of tofu chunks and pak choi which had been falling dangerously low. I wasn't planning on buying anything but I thought I'd have a mooch around anyway, and I was glad I did. I got a whole rack of ribs, about a foot and a half long, for £3.15. It was like a big meaty xylophone. What a bargain, and they were well tasty. So my day ended with me scoffing more ribs, sinking a couple of frosty brews and watching CSI, Heroes and Unbreakable on T.V. That's the beauty of simple pleasures, it's really easy to have a good time. Lucky me!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Swings and roundabouts

Remember a few posts back when I told you about that guy who kept asking my name and then called me Mark, well it's happened again... with someone else.

A card arrived at the pub the other day from a girl thanking us for letting her have her birthday bbq in the garden. "Ahh, that's nice", I thought. Seems she'd had great time and wanted to show her appreciation. She particularly wanted to thank Mark for his help and for getting the bbq lit. Dammit! That was me! Who is this Mark guy, and why is he stealing my credit. Well I can't get too mad, the thought was there.

On a more delicious note, Jing Jing the oriental food store has opened up on Cowley Road! I eat loads of noodles and dumplings, some might say too much - but I don't think that's possible, so I couldn't believe my luck when I found out it was opening. No more lengthy trips to town or Headington for my fix, it's only 2 minutes from my house. I wonder if I could manage to do all my shopping there? I'll certainly be doing a lot. I keep thinking of this quote from Newsradio's Bill McNeal: (adopt pirate accent). "Aaarrr, the black ship Matthew, fat with treasures from the Far East!" Fat indeed.

Well, all this talk of noodles and dumplings is making me hungry for noodles and dumplings. I think I might go eat some.

P.s I haven't quite figured out how to make links yet, so if you don't know who Bill McNeal is I demand that you watch some clips of him on Youtube right now. I mean it, do it now.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

More Top Tips

It's only been a week since my post on bar room etiquette, but I've experienced many more terrible pub errors in the last seven days and I feel compelled to share them with you. Here's what some of my customers have been up to and the consequences of their actions.
People still amaze me.

1: Don't pretend that you're going to buy the pub, wind everyone up and then piss in the sink in the gents. Ejected!

2: Don't go on a pub crawl, play drinking games and then wind your friend up so much that he punches you in the face. Ejected!

3: If I have expressed concerns over whether you should have any more to drink but reluctantly served you a Westons, do not look me square in the eye and say "can I have a f**king glass". Oh, you best believe he got Ejected!

I hadn't planned on carrying on the pub rants but there's just so much to tell, I suspect that this topic may come up again.

On a side note, I've also been gardening this week (remember, job not hobby), but I had a slightly different job to do compared to normal. A load of gravel had been delivered and I had to shovel it all out onto the driveway to resurface it. When I say "a load of gravel" I mean a lot. Six tons to be precise. Man, that was some hard work, it took hours. And to make it even more interesting I accidentally disturbed a nearby bee's nest and had to keep one eye on that too. Good times.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Don't do what Donny Don't does.

Did you see it, did you see it? I was on the telly last night! Everyone did a big cheer when my face appeared for my three seconds of fame. There were also a couple of good shots of the inside and outside of the pub as well. It was pretty exciting. George made it on too, wandering around behind the presenters when they were doing a piece to camera, and everyone did another big cheer. I've had a taste of fame people, and let me tell you, it was well moreish!

It was a good end to the day because I'd been having a bit of a rubbish shift at work. I love working at the pub, but sometimes you can't help but get in a bit of a bad mood. You know what it's like, when every little thing really bothers you. When it seems like someone has written down a list of all your pet hates, photocopied it and secretly distributed it to everyone around you with instructions to pick a few and just go nuts. It's a hazard of all jobs in public service, a hazard of daily life in fact, but when alcohol's involved it seems to get turned up a notch. A whole notch. So, in the interests of good karma and the smooth running of pubs everywhere, I give you my top tips on how not to order your drinks.

1: Don't order a drink and then wander off to the toilet or something whilst it's being poured. It only takes about 10 seconds to pour a pint.

2: Don't order a round and then ask for a Guinness right at the end. Everyone knows it needs time to settle.

3: Don't stand at the bar waiting to be served only to turn around and try to figure out what your 12 mates want when it's your turn. I could be serving other people while you're doing that.

4: Don't assume you can pay by card. Ask first and carry cash.

4b: When told "we don't take cards" do not say "not at all?". What does that mean!? "Oh, yeah, we take cards a little bit. "

5: Don't order your drinks one at a time or twenty in one breath. I am neither a moron nor a robot.

Well there's five hot tips for you. I'd better leave it at that or I run the risk of sounding like a right moaner and having to give up my 'good natured' mantle. Feel free to comment if you think I've omitted anything that the people need to know. It doesn't have to be specifically pub related, just to do with serving the public. We've all got to learn.

P.s. Whatever you do, do not combine any of the above bar room errors. That would be like crossing the beams in Ghostbusters. Do not cross the beams!

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Keeping Busy

Good natured slacker has been extremely slack with regards to blogging lately. But in my defense I have been slightly less slack in other areas of my life. Mostly I have been working harder, doing more shifts at the pub and a bit more gardening. I should point out at this time that gardening is one of my jobs, not a hobby. People often seem surprised when I say I've been gardening all day. I guess the confusion lies in me being so specific. Anyone else would just say they'd been at work. They wouldn't say that they'd spent the day phoning strangers and trying to part them from their money, or that for the last nine hours they'd sat at a desk moving figures from one column to another. "I've been at work", that pretty much covers it.

Anyway, having a little more money is nice and it makes the approach of rent day a little easier to bare. It's also nice to be a bit more productive with my time. Getting up at three every day and sitting around watching crappy daytime tv in my pants until it's time for work can become strangely unsatisfying after a while. Hard to believe I know, but it's true. You start off trying to find decent programming to watch, but the channels available on freeview don't make it an easy job. A bit of Judge Judy, maybe a couple of episodes of Quincy, you start off thinking it won't be too bad. But soon, with all the repeats, finding shows you actually want to watch becomes more and more difficult. You just can't stand to watch another episode from season one of Scrubs, and the thought of Jeremy Kyle's smug face makes you want to go back to bed and try again tomorrow. So, inevitably, your standards begin to slip. Shows you had previously rejected, deeming unwatchable, start to seem more appealing. Until, one day, you find yourself sitting slack jawed before a back to back Hope and Faith marathon, trying to remember what you used to do with your time.

Well, things have changed for me, and so far it's working out quite nicely. A guy I know called Moz recently told me he was trying to write a comic book, and our mutual friend Marc had told him I was into comics and that I liked to draw. So he asked if I would be interested in having a go at illustrating it for him and I said yes. It's all very exciting, but I'll go into more detail at another time.

On Thursday afternoon Channel 4 filmed part of an interview with The Young Knives at the pub. It was about their favorite places to go in Oxford, so of course The Star was first on the list. I got to be in it briefly, playing the role of barman. It was the part I was born to play. Whether they will use any of the parts with me in on the actual show I couldn't say, I just hope I don't look like too much of an idiot. It's going to be on tv on Friday night on 4. Transmission, I think it's called. They filmed the rest of the show at the old bingo hall at the end of my road, Queen's of the Stone Age and Foals both played so it should be really good.

I have to get ready to go to work now, but there's just time to say that I went to see Spiderman 3 last night and it was freakin' awesome. Sandman, good. Venom, good. Spidey, goooood! Can't wait 'til it comes out on DVD and I can make Han watch all 3 of them with me in one sitting. Are you reading this Han? Go nerds! GO NERDS!!!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Groundhog Dayshift

Every Tuesday I do the dayshift at the pub, and every Tuesday this slightly irritating guy comes in. We'll call him "pint of Fosters". So every Tuesday he comes in, sometimes with his buddy "pint of Coke", sometimes with "pint of Carlsberg", and every Tuesday I serve him his drinks. This has been going on for almost a year and about 6 months ago, after exchanging a few words, he asked me what my name was. I introduced myself, he offered his hand and introduced himself and explained that he liked to know who was serving him. "Fair enough" I thought and carried on bottling up the fridges.

Then, about a month later, after exchanging a few more words, he asked me my name again. I told him again and he introduced himself...again. At first I thought nothing of it, he'd obviously just forgotten, but after the fifth time it started to get annoying. He was asking me my name every other week, as though we had never even spoken before. "At least he's not doing it every week", I thought to myself. Then, of course, he started doing it every week.

He must have done it 15 or 20 times by now. I'm sure he's just trying to be polite, it's just not working out very well for him. To forget someone's name after being told it 20 times, well that just seems rude. Especially when I can tell when he's about to do it, and can predict exactly what he'll say.

Me: "that's £2.60 please."
Fosters: "there you go mate"
Me: (thinks: here it comes)
Fosters: "what's your name anyway pal?"
Me: "...I'm Matt"
Fosters: (extends hand) "My name's Fosters"
Me: (nodding) "Yeah.....I know"

A couple of weeks ago when I told him my name he thought I said Mark. I didn't bother to correct him, what would be the point? We were only going to do the same thing again the next week. In fact, I'm thinking about giving him a different name every time he asks, see how long it takes him to catch on. Although, given his track record so far, it seems highly unlikely that he'll ever notice.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

still here

Seems I've fallen victim to that all too common dry spell that new bloggers often suffer from. The problem is that I have lots of ideas about what to post, but then I start thinking that they're all really lame. Well no more. Here's what's going on.

First of all, I no longer keep my phone in a sock. Han got me a case for Christmas, but people have been calling it a phone bra.

Second. Lex has been on at me for ages to post my recipe for "super fast excitement rice". I had big plans for this, there was going to be a great long list of ingredients, step by step instructions and maybe even some photos. But of course that's not going to happen, that would involve some forward planning. Anyway, here's the basics of the recipe as I'm currently making it.

Stir fry loads of veg, add a spoonful of curry paste (I like goldfish brand chinese curry sauce concentrate), a little water to make it a bit saucy and throw in loads of meat. Any meat, I've made it with chicken, turkey, roast ham, sausage and various combinations.(I normally use meat that I've already cooked to save time.) Or you can use fish and prawns. Then mix in a load of cooked rice, it should go all golden from the curry sauce. That's pretty much it. You can make it as simply or as complicatedly as you like. I like to make a lot of it in one go, at least three meals worth. That way I can have some for my tea and take some to the pub with me to parade around in front of everyone when they're all drunk after work. Jealous.

Third. Inspired partly by a page I saw that had been torn out of Viz and the "why not try writing a sit-com?" page from Lee and Herring's 1995 Fist of Fun annual, I have been trying to invent potential comic strip characters. So far I have come up with:

"Pierre Pressure" a French kid who either pressures other kids into doing stupid stuff or is easily pressured himself, I'm not sure which one yet.

"Harm's Way" Tommy Harm shows you how to do things his way. His way is normally very dangerous, hilarious yet painful results ensue.

That's all I can think of for now, smell you later.