Today’s audio Dollop features some improvised song creating, as I attempt to take on Gill’s suggestion for David’s Daily Digital Dollop, The Musical. Plus, the great reveal for yesterday’s exciting interactive feature.
Today’s audio Dollop includes an anecdote about getting my computer fixed, and there’s yet another exciting interactive feature.
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Today’s audio Dollop contains another of my ever-popular Sainsbury’s anecdotes, plus the big reveal from our two highly exciting interactive features, Where’s My Sponge? and What Am I Washing?
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Today’s Dollop is dedicated to Fi, who commented recently to say how much she enjoys my train stories. Well Fi, I have another train story for you today. I can’t promise that it’ll be particularly entertaining or amusing, but I am annoyed, and need to rant and I also need to quickly write this Dollop before I get to my friend Aisha’s house. So I am going to kill two birds with one stone and do a ranting Dollop. Obviously I am being figurative about the bird killing. I thought I better point that out just in case you’d misunderstood and thought that I was so annoyed that I planned on taking my aggression out on a couple of birds. Those days are well behind me.
I arrived at the train platform just as the 1810 train to Manchester was pulling away. I quickly checked the National rail app and discovered that there was another train at 1814. I tried to find someone to give me directions to the platform, but no one was proving helpful. They were all too busy frantically trying to catch their trains, frenziedly running around like headless chickens. That’s now another reference to injured birdlife. I promised you one of my legendary train stories, Fi, but so far the major theme seems to be bird maiming. No more references to dismembered animals, promise.
I made it to the platform just in time … for the 1814 train to Manchester to pull away. If I’d have only aimed for the 1814 originally, I’d be on the bloody thing now. Then again, if that happened then you wouldn’t be reading this particular blog with all its hilarious tangents about bird death, so as far as you’re concerned, you’re immensely glad I missed those two trains.
I checked the App again. If the next train was at 1818, and the one after that was 1820, I would not try and make the 1818. I know you are enjoying the crazy adrenaline-fuelled roller-coaster ride of a story, but I can’t bass all my decisions on what will make for a more exciting Dollop; I had somewhere to be. The next train wasn’t until 1840. I’d be half an hour late, but at least I’d definitely make this train.
Immediately I found someone helpful who took me to platform seven, and so I was at the platform by 1817. So I would have made the 1818 after all. I cursed my decision. And then I remembered that the 1818 was a hypothetical train that I had merely made up so as to inform a decision about not racing for trains at the risk of missing two trains. With all the confusion I’d started conflating my hypothetical constructions with reality; it happens to the best of us. I had a twenty-two minute wait for the train. It didn’t take long for the announcer on the station’s PA to disavow me of that notion.
“The 1840 service to Manchester Airport is delayed by thirteen minutes.”
I was now running forty-five minutes late. At 1840 another announcement came, telling us that the next train to arrive at platform seven is the 1840 service to Manchester Airport. I began to hope that maybe this meant the train was now no longer delayed, and would be arriving on time, however the announcement must have been merely telling us that this was the next train on that platform, rather than it being the train that was now arriving, because at 1853, the train pulled onto the platform, thirteen minutes late.
It took another five minutes before the train eventually pulled away. It must have been stuck in the station behind another train. I was now running fifty minutes late. But at least the train had now started moving and I was finally on my way. I settled myself into my seat and got my laptop out, ready to type up today’s Dollop. I did not intend to write about the train delay, after all, it’s not much of a story. We’ve all been delayed for fifty minutes before, it’s not really anything to write home about; certainly nothing to write to a few hundred people online about. OK, obviously I’ve managed to use my amazing story telling skills to weave it into an incredibly epic dramatic thrilling hell-raiser of a tale, but if that had been the end of my travelling woes, then I wouldn’t have bothered telling you about my journey. I intended to write a blog about something that happened at Sainsbury’s today. Yes, I know, a Sainsbury’s story; even more popular than my train stories. But as I opened my laptop and began to type, an announcement came over the PA.
“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome aboard the 1858 service to Plymouth.”
What?! How the hell had this happened? At that moment the ticket inspector approached my seat. I explained to him the situation. Apparently I had been on platform six. The person who took me to the platform must have taken me to the wrong one. To add insult to injury, the ticket man then informed me that the 1840 had actually left on time, as the delay had been cleared. So the announcement I heard saying that the next train to arrive at platform seven was the 1840 service to Manchester Airport, actually did mean that the train was arriving, while I just sat there on the wrong platform. So I’d now missed three trains to Manchester, and was heading for Plymouth.
Fortunately it wasn’t a direct train to Plymouth. I would have to get off at Chesterfield, then get the next train to Manchester. At least the ticket inspector didn’t charge me for the ticket to Chesterfield, otherwise this Dollop might have seen yet another casualty to add to the stoned and decapitated figurative birds.
Fifteen minutes later I was at Chesterfield station. I asked a member of staff when the next train to Manchester was. He informed me that I’d literally just missed one. I would have a half an hour wait. Providing there were no more issues, I was going to be two hours late.
I wrote that last sentence on the train. The train then pulled into Manchester, so I closed my laptop and alighted. The final bit of my journey was a tram ride. I arrived at the tram stop just as my tram was pulling away. Fortunately, after a ten minute wait, I am now on the tram, and so I better end this Dollop here and upload it, given that I’ve already kept my friend waiting for over two hours. I think it might push her over the edge if I then arrived at her house and spent the first twenty minutes ignoring her whilst uploading the Dollop. And I don’t want to be pushing anyone over edges, otherwise that might be another casualty to add to the list.
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Today’s audio Dollop comes from my kitchen. Fun interactive features include, Where Was My Sponge? And What Am I Washing? There’s a story about a rogue package, and I have a contretemps with a disembodied voice.
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Today I shall tell the story which I intended to tell you yesterday, before I got sidetracked with a completely different story; unless I get sidetracked again today of course. Yesterday we were on the cusp of a childhood phone prank. I reenact this prank for you in today’s audio Dollop.
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In yesterday’s Dollop I mentioned my friend trying an unsuccessful prank call on me, which involved him playing the sounds of howling and telling me that he was in a forest being chased by wolves. He had just downloaded a phone app that could play various background sounds to the caller. This prank however failed for a number of reasons. Firstly, the sound effects might have been realistic, but he hadn’t thought to pant or run, so it was clear that he wasn’t being chased. Secondly, it seemed ridiculous that if he was in a forest being chased by wolves, he would choose to ring me. There are few phone calls that are going to help you if you’re being chased through a forest by wolves, but I’d imagine that the emergency services might be of more practical use than me. If he was calling to declare his last words, then, again, I seemed like an unlikely choice; surely he’d be more likely to ring his parents. Plus, it was in the middle of the day, and I’d only just seen him a couple of hours ago. Where the bloody hell had he managed to travel to in that short space of time, where there are wolves roaming around the place? When I’d last seen him a couple of hours ago, he was on a train to Newcastle. I mean, that’s one hell of a diversion.
So, as phone pranks go, that one was very poor. I was doing better pranks than that when I was at school. For instance, I once successfully impersonated one of our teachers, and rang up a student. I say “successfully,” it was essentially its very success that lead to its failure.
My voice had just broken. It happened in a rather spectacular fashion. It wasn’t a fluctuating thing, like with a lot of my classmates, where their voices would vacillate sporadically between Barry White and Barry Gibb. Oh no, mine seemed to just go, and then stay gone. You might think that this is preferable and less awkward than all those weird vocal fluctuations experienced by my peers, except my moment happened at a rather inopportune moment.
I was standing in front of hundreds of people, children, teachers and parents, in the school hall. It was the Christmas concert, and I had been chosen as the person to be the chorister who opened the proceedings with the traditional solo verse of Once In Royal David’s City. Up until the point where I began to sing on that fateful evening, there was, so far as I can recall, no indication of what was about to happen. A hush descended, and I began to sing. Well, I’m not sure if “sing” is at all an accurate word to use. IN fairness, the first line wasn’t too bad. It was a little croaky but at least it was in tune. But then, my voice suddenly, and very surprisingly, plummeted in pitch. So, rather than singing the line, “stood a Lowly cattle shed,” it sounded as if I’d chosen instead to do an impression of the cattle inside said lowly cattle shed. And “lowly” was very much the operative word, given my dramatic drop through the octaves. Despite the children’s stifled giggles, the teachers shushing the children, and the parents awkward and uncertain throat-clears and embarrassed, mild, murmurous laughs, I continued, before the rest of the choir eventually took over the second verse, with the rather fitting words, “he came down …”
Sean thinks that I’ve ripped this story off from the Simpsons, and reckons that this exact scenario occurred with Bart. I am convinced that I have never seen this particular Simpsons episode, however I suppose there is a chance that I’ve somehow got confused and saw this Simpsons episode and misremembered it as an event that happened in my own life. If this is the case then I am sorry for wasting your time. D’oh! However, I suppose there is another explanation. Maybe there was a member of the writing team on the Simpsons who just so happened, for some reason, to be present at a Middlesbrough primary school’s Christmas Concert, witnessed my embarrassing performance, and incorporated it into the Simpsons. I should be worth millions now, and never have to work again, and thus I’d have no reason to hang around with Michael and Sean. But alas, I’ve been ripped off!
One positive thing about my new-found voice was that I discovered that I could now do impressions of certain adults. There were a few other blind people in our school, and one day when one of the younger blind students were walking through the corridor, I hollered at him in the voice of Mr Smith. “Tuck your shirt in Jonathan,” and Jonathan was jooped, and said “sorry sir.” I was rather surprised and pleased by my newly acquired skill.
A few days later, a plan formulated itself, and I executed a phone prank, pretending to be Mr Smith. But, it is getting rather late, so I shall regale you with that story in tomorrow’s Dollop. Until then …
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Whilst walking to sainsbury’s today (don’t get your hopes up, this isn’t another one of my highly popular Sainsbury’s anecdotes, sorry) I got a phone call from a woman asking me if I’d had an accident that wasn’t my fault or if I was looking to claim compensation for anything. Alas, she wasn’t keen to explore damages for loss of time and potential earnings, due to rogue messages for the other David Eagle. Nor was she interested in helping me get compensation from the man on the train who had drenched me in his spit. That spit might be riddled with all sorts of germs that could potentially give me some disease; but she wasn’t willing to represent me in such matters.
She seemed a bit down about the fact that I hadn’t been in any serious accidents, so I asked her whether a car crash might count, and she suddenly perked up, which was charming of her. She gleefully asked me to tell her about the crash. I told her that I hadn’t had one yet, but said that I might be willing to, if there was a good chance of getting compensation. We could keep it hush hush, just between me, her, and the wall; literally.
At that exact moment, with uncanny timing, two cars sped past each other, sounding their horns. I think it might have freaked out the woman from the solicitors because when the noise of the horns dissipated and I was able to hear the phone again, she had gone. Perhaps she thought I had actually decided to crash into a wall in order to get compensation.
My friend used to have an app on his phone that could play background sounds to the caller, meaning that you could pretend to be in a different location to the one that you were actually in. I remember he called me up once and told me that he was in a forest being chased by wolves. Sure enough, there were the sounds of wolves in the background, although his prank wasn’t at all convincing because he’d forgotten to do any panting or running.
I suppose this app could have some useful, practical purposes. You should be at work, but you fancy a lie in, so you could call your boss and say you were running late due to being stuck in a really massive traffic jam. You could play the sounds of beeping car horns to make it seem as if you actually were in a traffic jam, when in fact you are still in bed. Similarly you could have a background soundtrack that sounds like you’re in a really brutal crash, which would be useful in freaking out annoying cold callers asking you if you’ve had an accident. Of course, you need to be wary when using such an app, in case your finger slips and you accidentally choose the wrong sound, meaning that you suddenly have to improvise a scenario to your boss in which you’re being chased through a forest by wolves.
Another feature that I think should come with phones is a button that when pressed will sound your ringtone, so that you can get out of awkward or annoying conversations with people. This would have come in really handy yesterday with the talkative man on the train spitting at me. I could have subtly reached into my pocket, pressed the button on my phone, the phone would ring and I would have a way of getting out of conversing with him.
Obviously this might get a bit awkward if you’re in the middle of talking, pretending to be on the phone, and then someone actually does call you and the phone rings, meaning that your cover is blown. But you could easily circumvent such an issue by having a feature that warns you that an incoming call is happening, only there is a delay of five seconds before the phone begins to ring. This would then give you enough time to wrap up your pretend conversation, say goodbye, go to put your phone back in your pocket, only for it to start ringing again. You could then get your phone out of your pocket and act all surprised, saying something like, “what a coincidence, I’ve literally just this second got off the phone to Nigel.” Notice how I invented a name there, just to give my pretext even more credibility.
Maybe Apple should think about doing something useful like that, rather than messing around with headphone sockets. There are so many occasions when such a feature would rescue me from awkward situations. Still, I suppose if I didn’t have strange garrulous men on trains spitting at me, then I wouldn’t have anything to write about, so maybe it’s for the best that such a feature does not exist on my phone.
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I got chatting to another stranger on the train today. He was a nice man, but whenever he said a word that was particularly sibilant, he would spit at me. The first time he did this, a rather sizeable globule of spit landed on my face, between my eyes. It hit me with quite an impressive amount of force, so much so that it caused me to make an exclamation of shock. I didn’t want to make the man feel uncomfortable, and didn’t want to draw attention to the fact that he’d just spat on me. So to avoid the embarrassment, I quickly adapted my noise of surprise, and tried to manoeuvre it into a sound that might be more akin to a noise denoting great interest in what he was saying.
I’m not sure I pulled it off very effectively, given that what he was saying didn’t really warrant such an enthusiastic noise. He was telling me that he was heading to see his sister in Surrey, hence the sibilance. Then he spat on me and I shouted out in shock and then tried to change it into a noise of enthusiasm. I would have to invent a reason that would justify my effusive exclamation.
“Woe! My sister is also in Surrey. What a coincidence.” I’m not sure whether this really warranted such a passionate noise of excitement, but it was the first thing that came to mind, so it would have to do. Of course, he then asked me which part of Surrey she came from. Michael’s family live in Redhill in Reigate, so I plucked for that. It turned out that this is also where his sister happened to live, and so he asked me for her name, saying that he might know her. I decided to go for a name that didn’t contain any P’s T’s or S’s, in case he should use it in our conversation, and rain down more spit upon me. I went for Mary; a safe choice, I thought.
He asked me where she worked. I’d hoped that my invention of a sibling would have just been an expedient way of vindicating my weird enthusiastic noise, but it was requiring more and more elaboration.
“In a florists,” I said, and immediately regretted my choice of shop: florists has both an S and a T in it. I braced myself for the spit to hit.
“A florists?” he said, and sure enough, the spit came and landed on my forehead, joining its predecessors. But this time I was ready for it, and so fortunately I didn’t make a weird noise. I didn’t want to have to invent any more siblings. One was proving quite enough.
“Flowers 77?” He asked. Trust him to know a bloody florists in Redhill, and how bloody typical that the name of the florists in Redhill has three S’s and a T in it. Another spit globule met my forehead. I pretended not to remember the name of the place she worked at. Knowing my luck I’d say “yes,” only to find that his sister is the boss of the florists.
“My sister lives within spitting distance,” he said. I started to wonder whether he was doing this on purpose. Maybe he gets a kick from spitting at people, and watching them be too British and awkward to say anything. Maybe the “spitting distance” line is him toying with me, spitting at me while he says the word “spitting,” sort of goading me.
He was talking but my concentration had lapsed, as I could feel his spit on my face, and it was uncomfortable, wet and itchy. I was wondering whether I could wipe it off without him noticing and it becoming embarrassing. He’d clearly just asked me a question. I could tell by the fact that his voice had risen at the end of the sentence, but I had no idea what the question was. I had to ask him to repeat what he’d just said, which was an annoyance, because whatever it was he had said involved quite a bit of spitting, and now I was inviting more spit to come my way.
“So, to where are you bound?” he asked. NO, he didn’t, that was a little in-joke for the Dollop regulars. He actually said, “So where are you off to?” At that moment, the man on the PA announced the next stop. I took this as my get-out opportunity, and pretended that this was my stop.
As I pulled my coat over my head, I took the opportunity to wipe away the spit, given that he couldn’t see me. I said goodbye to the man, and made a prompt exit, just in case he opted for a “ta ta,” and drench me once more in spit.
I scurried down the carriage, hoping that I could get lost in the mass of people heading for the door. I tucked myself in front of a rather tall man, hoping that this would block my view from the spitter, and darted into the other cariage, hoping that he didn’t see me. I then spent the rest of the journey huddled low down in my seat, fearing that he might walk through the carriage on the way to the toilet, and spot me still on the train. All this palaver because I was too polite and embarrassed to draw the man’s attention to the fact that he was spitting at me. Manners cost nothing? They bloody do. I was a nervous wreck on that train, huddled in my seat, dreading being seen.
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I bit my lip today, oh boy. “Please, tell us more, David!” Well don’t you worry your pretty little head, I very much intend to.
I seem to bite my lip about once every six weeks. I wonder why. I wonder what happens in my brain to somehow, once in every six weeks or so of chewing, miscalculate the chew and chomp right threw my lip. I have no idea how many chews an average meal consists of, but I would imagine that within 6 weeks I will have clocked up tens of thousands of chews. My brain clearly knows how to chew, yet after thousands and thousands of consecutive successful chews, it’ll make an error of judgement and I’ll bite my lip.
I had a discussion with my friends around the table about this, and they too estimated that they bite into their lip about once every six weeks. Obviously this is just an approximate guess by everyone. We’re not weird and sad enough to keep a diary of these malmastications (how’s that for a term? Malmastication. I just made that up just then, check me out!). We are however weird and sad enough to have a protracted conversation in which we spend our entire meal swapping anecdotes about times when we’ve bit into our lips. Then again, you can’t exactly judge us, baring in mind that you are now reading this blog all about this very subject, and be honest, you’re really enjoying it, aren’t you?
So it seems as if it’s a congenital human trait for the brain to very occasionally miscalculate the chew, even though it manages fine thousands upon thousands of times. I wonder whether our subconsciouses just get a bit complacent. Maybe after six weeks of successful chewing, it starts to get a bit cocky and thinks, “this is a piece of cake; and chewing this piece of cake is easy. It’s a bit boring though. I think my mouth should be aware of what to do without me for a bit. I think I might take a walk and see what’s going on in the rest of the brain and maybe help out with a more interesting autonomic function, maybe have a dabble with the respiratory system. Just for a bit of a change … ouch, shit, the lip! Oh damn, the sympathetic nervous system is going to be furious with me.” I’m not sure if that joke was particularly scientifically accurate, but what it might have lacked in scientific validity, it more than made up for in hilarity, as I’m sure you’ll all agree.
Tonight’s gig was supporting Richard Hauley at The Unthanks’ festival in Newcastle. With just ten days to go until the festival, the Unthanks were informed that their intended venue was going to be out of action due to emergency construction work. So the venue was changed at the last minute. The new venue used to be a factory, and I think it must have only recently been converted, because while the venue was perfectly acceptable from the audience’s perspective, there wasn’t yet a properly established backstage area. Our dressing room therefore was more or less a dark dingy shed, and access to the stage was somewhat inhibited by a series of obstacles, including pipes, metal bolts stuck out of the floor, and very low beams on the roof. Either this place was still in the process of being converted, or it had been very poorly designed.
I hope that this wasn’t down to poor design consultancy work from David Eagle and his cronies. That man has already caused me enough problems, taking up hours of my life forwarding his rogue messages onto him, without him almost killing me with his low hanging beams and his jutting out pipes and sharp metal bolts. It might have also been David Eagle and friends who were responsible for the original venue having to undergo emergency construction work. Maybe me and this David Eagle have history, maybe we are sworn enemies from a past life. Well, if that is the case then I am clearly winning this karmic battle, given that I diligently forward on his many stray emails, whereas he can’t even be bothered to thank me. Keep going the way you’re going David, and in the next life I’ll be a wealthy prince, and you will be my domestic servant, and I will make you spend your days forwarding emails to people, just to teach you a lesson.