Posts Tagged ‘crazy’

A Series of Unexpected Events

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

Sometimes, just when you think things have settled down and the world is becoming normal again, life throws moments of “What?!” at you. Unexplainable happenings. Unbelievable occurrences. General mind-blowingly WEIRD stuff that makes you stop what you’re doing, shake your head and laugh out loud at the sheer absurdity of it all. The past month has been significantly more banal than my first few months of living in Manchester. Things have become serious, I’ve spent more time sitting in front of my computer watching movie re-runs in my pyjamas and I have a job. Boring. But then last night happened.

My initial plan was to meet my friend Eli and some co-workers at the Manchester Art Gallery. Last night was the Grayson Perry exhibition opening and Eli, who works at the gallery, had acquired tickets for us to go. Throughout the two hours of the opening, a random selection of people formed our group – friends of friends and the like. We made the most of the free wine, chatted and analysed Grayson’s amazing tapestries, trying to decide whether or not the lamp shades depicted in the kitchen scene were from IKEA or not. There must be something about the Art Gallery as I have made many friends within its walls. I originally met Eli there and we have since become good friends. Last night I made friends with a Scottish lass who screamed with delight when she discovered I had sent a ‘wee text’ to her mobile.

We all went for a drink and some food at a local pub and, after a fun evening of chatting, I decided to head home at about 10.30pm. I walked outside with two of my work colleagues and stood outside as they smoked cigarettes. While they inhaled toxic fumes, a guy walking past the pub stopped and asked to borrow a lighter. His Australian accent was picked up by the shrewd ears of my colleagues and we started chatting, discovering he was South Australian, now based in London, was visiting Manchester for a week and knew no one. Were we interested in going for a drink? Sure. One must look after one’s own kind.

So two Australians, an Irish/Jamaican and a Chinese guy, headed into the Northern Quarter for a quick drink. Where should we go? How about Terrace? Agreed. Arriving at Terrace Bar we discovered the place was heaving – music was pumping, people were drinking and the dance floor was going off. Highly unusual for a Wednesday night but hey – why not?

Our quick drink turned into two hours of dancing, laughing, singing and general craziness. It turns out we had accidentally walked into Terrace’s first birthday celebrations. At 12.30am I called it to a close, remembering that Wednesdays are school nights and that according to School Night Rules 101, I really I should have been in bed hours ago. But I had had such an unexpectedly fun evening out, made new friends and bonded with my new colleagues. I now know that two guys in my team can dance far better than me – an invaluable piece of information to know in the workplace.

I really enjoy life’s ‘What?!’ moments. They draw me out of deepening holes of self-pity and make me see how unexpected life can be. You never know what is going to happen or who you are going to meet when you step out of the front door of that pub and choose to take the risk and say yes. I don’t think my dreams would have been even half as entertaining as the events that occurred last night. I’m glad I chose life over sleep, although that may be the strong coffee that I am currently surviving on speaking.

Shampoo Fight

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

I experienced a very typical French argument today where everyone announced their opinion to the world and then argued incessantly over something that had no real importance. I went to Tati, a super-cheap department store that sells every piece of rubbish you could ever want for really low prices. I went there in search of socks for my latest sock-creature endeavours and suddenly decided I should buy some toothpaste because we are running low. I went to the cosmetics/hygiene product section and dodged past some of the slightly less-hygienic folk who frequent that part of Montmartre and who spend a lot of time hanging around Tati. Some people really need to learn to cover their mouths when they cough.

While I selected my toothpaste of choice, an elderly man was at the checkout buying a bottle of shampoo. He then started arguing with the check out lady about the price of the shampoo, saying “I’m sorry to argue with you, Madame” followed by, “But you’re wrong.” The check out eventually stood up and walked with the man to the shampoo shelf to confirm the price of the shampoo. Underneath the shampoo was a price, however this price was for a different sort of shampoo which the check out lady had great happiness in pointing out. The man then argued that whatever price is situated under the product should correspond to the product therefore he should only pay the advertised price. The check out lady insisted the man should pay the price the computer says the product is and that the price on the shelf is just wrong.

This argument went on for about five minutes and then the man had left, paying the full price for the shampoo. The argument continued. The woman in the queue behind the man congratulated the check out lady saying that the man most definitely should pay full price, no matter what was marked on the shelf. The check out lady was pleased by this. But then the second woman in the line declared that the prices on the shelves should be marked correctly and the man should have been allowed to pay the price as marked. The first lady in line left the shop and then a very firey argument between the second lady and the check out lady started with the check out lady shoving the customer’s products in to a plastic bag and barking out the required amount. Essentially they just kept talking at one another, not listening and not really caring what the other person was saying. This lady then eventually left having been rudely yelled at by the check out women yet not even noticing because she was too busy arguing.

Between this woman and myself was a man who had been rolling his eyes for most of this time. However, once he reached the check out he then started agreeing with the first woman and the check out lady. I stood trying to understand as I was asked for my opinion and apparently didn’t provide enough information. All I wanted was to buy toothpaste and leave. Finally it was my turn to be served and I could pay and run away. I stepped outside and breathed a sigh of relief to be outside in Montmartre surrounded by the normal, regular people trying to sell copy Gucci bags and dodgy cigarettes. I can handle them. It’s the weirdos who argue about the price of shampoo who mess with my mind.

Here Comes the Harlequin

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

Tom and I hadn’t been out for a dinner on our own for a while so I asked him out on a date. Yes, I asked him. But let’s not get stuck on who did what to whom – I chose the restaurant and I booked the table. Seeing as I was paying, I booked through La Fourchette to choose the restaurant with the cheapest menu and biggest discount. I settled on a restaurant just up the canal from us called L’Arlequin Café – it had received decent reviews, it was close by and the menu sounded a-okay.

An hour before our arrival at the restaurant, a woman from La Fourchette rang me and said that there was no response from the restaurant and that despite me receiving instant confirmation that I had a table booked, our reservation had been cancelled. Great. It was too late to book another restaurant on La Fourchette so we decided we would still go to the restaurant and see if they would accept us anyway.

At 8pm we were the first customers for the evening (typical…) and the waiter who served us was very friendly and welcoming and said we could still have the La Fourchette discount, not a problem. And so we stayed. Something I really dislike is being the only people in a restaurant. For the two hours we were there, only one other couple arrived. It was a Wednesday night and clearly things were quite slow, but it is so quiet and you feel like you have to whisper. Luckily they had some utterly terrible music playing slightly too loudly so there was a bit of background noise. The other thing I hate is restaurants with televisions and L’Arlequin had almost-naked ladies dancing around in video clips for us to enjoy. Then the football started and we got to watch Real Madrid play Lyon. Lucky us.

The food wasn’t bad – Tom had duck and I had beef but really we could have ordered the same thing. Both plates consisted of our chosen meat, a pepper sauce served separately in a little bowl, two lettuce leaves with a little bit of grated carrot for extra pizzazz, and what were apparently potatoes. I say “apparently” because we both reached the same conclusion without discussion that the potatoes had come out of a packet. No one can peel potatoes that evenly and make little round domes that are all exactly the same shape. Plus they were coated in salt and had an “I am a potato from the freezer section” taste to them. Despite our difficulties to decipher between our two plates, both of us thoroughly enjoyed our chosen meats – my beef was tender, nicely blue as per French standards, and had far more taste than my last steak at Le Bistro du Coin. The pepper sauce was particularly good – spicy, flavoursome and not too creamy. The lettuce was lettuce and we’ve already discussed the potatoes. Tom’s duck was also very good so if they could have managed to chop and sauté their own potatoes then it would have been a really great dish.

Steak and potatoes

Lots of 'potatoes', giant lettuce and a little (Jess sized) steak

As per La Fourchette requirements, we had to have dessert in order to receive our discount. Quel dommage! Tom had a crème brûlée which was nicely set and contained real vanilla beans which is always a good sign. I went against my usual instant decision of the chocolate fondant, and chose the tarte tatin with vanilla ice cream. The waiter informed me that I had made a very wise decision and that it was going to be ‘bon’. Excellent. He was right. It wasn’t your usual tarte tatin – it had huge pieces of apple, caramelised and soft, on top of a soft but tasty pastry. The vanilla ice cream was homemade, creamy and delicious, and if they have avoided putting a whollop of whipped cream (from a can) on the side it would have been perfect. It was a truly wonderful, homely dessert and I had to resist ordering a second round as I licked the last of the caramel off the plate.

Tarte tatin

YUM.

As we sat feeling overly satisfied (stuffed) with our meals, we were then provided with some light entertainment. A noise suddenly appeared outside and a woman around the age of 50 walked into the restaurant talking very loudly about something, something, police, something. I recognised her raised voice and intense way of speaking from a week or so ago when I had been walking up Rue du Saint Martin wondering what on earth that horrible sound was. I then saw her standing next to a bus stop, talking very loudly into a mobile phone but I’m not entirely sure that there was someone else on the other end of the line. So here she was again, looking very upset and demanding to speak to a policeman. The Prefecture (Police station) is just across the road from the restaurant and the two waiters strongly suggested she headed over there. No. She declared she would wait in the restaurant until the police came. But none were on their way – yet. One of the waiters went across the road to announce the presence of a noisy lady in their restaurant but he returned sans-policeman, however stated that the police were on their way. At least five minutes passed between the waiter going over the road and the policemen coming to investigate. Clearly they either had more pressing matters or they were in the middle of dinner. They eventually strolled over, by which time the woman had given up and had decided to move on, wandering down the street and around the corner. Instead of walking at a slightly faster pace in the direction that she had headed, the policemen wrote down a description on the woman and headed back to the Prefecture in order to get a car so that they could patrol the area. Because she was walking SO fast.

I spent most of the time laughing at how useless the policemen were and at the strangeness of the whole situation. The waitstaff were very apologetic and dealt with the situation well, plus it provided a little bit of entertainment for the evening and helped me stop staring at the television screens.

Wow.

Monday, June 13th, 2011

What a morning. I only have two minutes to write this so I will keep it short. Tom and I got up early and arrived at Heraklion airport to find a mess of people trying to work out what queue to join to check-in and drop off bags. After pushing our way through we managed to get to our gate and then our plane was delayed (not by long, but still. Makes the story more exciting.) We had checked-in to our DIRECT flight from HERAKLION to PARIS which is why I am somewhat confused as to why I am currently sitting in ATHENS airport, using their free internet to write this while we wait for our NEXT PLANE to PARIS. There are a lot of very confused French tourists wondering what is going on. I’m not all that sure either. So not such a direct flight after all.

To make matters even more interesting, on the 35 minute flight between Heraklion and Athens I sat next to a woman who kept saying, “Oh very nice!” as Tom and I took our seats. As soon as I had fastened my seat belt she told me how pleased she was that we were sitting there and that she had been getting very worried as more and more black people and gays kept boarding the plane. Imagine if she had had to sit next to one of them! What on earth was she supposed to do then?! She then asked me where I was from and the conversation turned to Greece and how there are too many illegal immigrants who kill and rape people. And then she said, “You have Aborigines in Australia, don’t you?” and I responded with a particularly enthusiastic “Yes!” to prove that this was a-okay with me. I then almost choked when she then said, “They eat people, don’t they?” Apparently she had heard stories and refused to believe me when I assured her that the indigenous population of my home country were not cannibals and that she may actually find them quite pleasant people.

I can’t wait to see who I get to sit next to on this flight. I think I shall call this a mystery flight seeing as it is so unexpected. Actually, Tom and I are getting two flights for the price of one! Gosh we’re lucky folk. Thank you, Aegean Airlines.