Monday Musings. 06/03/17

It was Louise’s 29th birthday on Saturday. In a year when many of our friends are turning 30 and we are getting married, it cannot be treated as a big birthday. The Johnstone’s Paint Trophy of birthdays. Bearing this in mind, I thought some vintage kitchen scales which she had expressed a loose interest in a few days earlier, were an appropriate gift. Even after I made a joke about the scales being a helpful tool for her drug dealing career, the response was lukewarm.

I didn’t just get the scales, I’m not a complete bastard. I also got tickets for The Great Escape Game. For the uninitiated, The Great Escape Game is basically The Crystal Maze but you’re not on TV and, instead of Richard O’Brien, a bearded, possibly hungover, drama student is your leader. We were in King Arthur’s Secret, a 3-star room suitable for children and families.

We did not escape.

Rather than our incompetence, I blame the time slot. At 4pm on a Sunday you should be sat / lying on the sofa half-watching Location, Location, Location and considering whether a takeaway is acceptable for a second consecutive night, not doing mentally-exhausting challenges and crawling under tables to twiddle padlocks in a dimly-lit room. My height was a hindrance too. I won’t give anything away but, if you are going to try The Great Escape Game, I’d recommend having a sound knowledge of the difference between clockwise and anti-clockwise. This cost us dearly. It was very stressful.

As we didn’t escape, our guide had to call us on our walkie-talkies and tell us how to do every puzzle until we got out. This was a humbling experience and reminded me of the time my brother and I used a walk-through guide to complete the PC game, Broken Sword 2. Nobody wins.

“Right, now it’s time for the silly faces photo,” our guide said afterwards, whipping out his Polaroid camera.

“I don’t think so,” Louise said. I agreed. I was not in the mood for a silly faces photo.

“I will need a team name to put on your certificates, though,” he said.

Being asked to think up a team name on the spot is horrible. Does this guy have no idea how long I spend toiling over my Fantasy Football team name each year? Besides, what were we getting a certificate for? Taking part?

“The Failures,” I said, dejected. Louise must have been delighted — who doesn’t want to be called a failure on their birthday?

“I’m not putting that,” our guide said, “what do you really want?”

Make this stop.

Louise was looking at the floor. I saw a picture of a dragon on the wall.

“The Dragons?”

“Good one, we’ve never had that before,” said our guide with a flat smile.

Piss off.

When we returned home we embarked on a less traumatizing activity and started crafting some wooden signs for our wedding, which is now alarmingly close. The signs are practical, saying things like: “Wedding this way” and “Tea and Coffee.” A tea and coffee table is probably self-evident but there’s no harm in clarification. With my poor performance at The Great Escape still rankling, I tried to redeem myself by painting in ambitious italic writing. For the most part it looks fine but, towards the end, I became over-confident with the complexity of the letters and “Cards and Gifts” looks like it says “Curdf und Gistf” which sounds German and is, to anyone other than our Austrian Air Bnb guests, unhelpful. If we don’t receive any cards or gifts, I can’t complain.

I hadn’t painted since GCSE Art, which was my favourite subject in school. My final project was a ground-breaking cocktail of artistic movements and musical genres. Inspired by surrealism, cubism and the rapper, Tupac, I’d sketched a portrait of my hero and surrounded him with pastel drawings of Dali’s melting watches as well as casually chucking in a huge Picasso-style painting of my electric guitar. If The Great Escape guide had seen this masterpiece, he would have seen me for the creative that I really am.

Virgin Media have today charged us £120 for our latest bill which is a lot, isn’t it? The last time I contacted Virgin my aim was to downgrade our package so I could save some money for things such as vintage kitchen scales. While I was listening to an admittedly catchy Little Mix song and liaising with the robot woman, I was also preparing to play football. This process involves going to Patel’s to buy Lucozade, eating a banana, repairing shin pads with Sellotape and watching a YouTube compilation of Neymar’s best tricks so by the time the sales guy had picked up, I was already exhausted. A sitting duck.

He laughed a lot and seemed affable so my ears pricked at news of his very special offer. From my understanding, his very special offer was considerably cheaper and gave us considerably more channels. A no-brainer, right? In different circumstances, I may have asked about the finer details but my pal was honking his car horn outside so I said yes to everything.

As I’ve just established, the “considerably cheaper” bit of was misleading. We have had more channels though so let’s not start a witch-hunt. I don’t think having more channels has improved my life at all. When I got off the phone to my new mate, I’d eagerly anticipated my new life full of interesting documentaries, La Liga football and Ross Kemp on Gangs. The reality is that Louise has tightened her grip on the remote and I now know the name of every Kardashian.

I need to nip this in the bud quickly. A phone call more challenging than King Arthur’s Secret awaits.

Thanks for reading. If you get a second, please look at my Facebook page for regular blogs and book updates etc.

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