David’s Daily Digital Dollop: Dollop 213 – The Canadian Confusion Continues

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There’s been yet another ill-researched and confusing write-up about our group. In the Canmore Festival programme, which we are playing this weekend, they get all the details about us right, and describe our sound as “largely unaccompanied with occasional minimal accompaniment.” But then, somehow, despite having managed to get all this information correct, they then include a photo of the wrong band. Have a guess which band’s photo they’ve used. Its The other Young’uns, the Canadian wedding covers band.

There they are, with drums, bass, and electric guitar. You’d have thought that they might have realised, given that our write-up states that we are a largely unaccompanied band, but seemingly not. I wonder if us turning up in Canada and performing on the other Young’uns home patch is going to cause more logistical problems for them. Are they going to get confused people booking the wedding covers band, thinking that it’s us, only to get a shock when they turn up with their drums and amps. They better start learning some Irish Celtic Country songs just in case, as what the people who booked the band expect will very much depend on what write-up they’d read.

We’re learning a few wedding classics just to be on the safe side, songs like Cliff Richard and Congratulations, which would actually be a good choice of song because our publisher also looks after the royalties for Cliff Richard, meaning that he’d get paid by the venue every time we sung that song, and he could then give us some of that money. What a brilliant plan. So maybe all this confusion is a good thing, and might prove rather lucrative. After all, I think it’s doubtful that we could maintain our credibility as a folk group singing Cliff Richard songs, but it would be perfect for a wedding covers band.

I got a nice surprise last night when a comment came in on Dollop 209, about our rather uneventful wildlife tour and hike, which was actually more like a lollop.

“Hi David, We have just been crying with laughter at your description of the wildlife tour. Jonathan and I were on the tour too, a couple of the decrepit pensioners you mentioned! Do you remember the ones from Leeds? We too were somewhat disappointed in the tour which had been sold to us as a wildlife tour, but we very much enjoyed your company and Sean’s company” (but presumably not Michael’s company, which is perfectly understandable) “and coming across that black bear very much saved the day. I’m glad I looked up your website, I read out your description of the tour, whilst crying with laughter, and Jonathan said , That sounded like our tour. I told him that it was the self same tour and that it was you who had written it. Thanks for the Laugh! Hope you enjoy the rest of your time in Canada.”

There are lots of people who ask me whether I make up the things that I blog about, so hopefully this has proved the veracity of my anecdotes. I suppose you could argue that I might have made up the character of Dianne and her husband and then left that comment myself, pretending to be two people who were on the tour with us, but do you really think I’ve got nothing better to do with my time? OK, granted, I write and record a load of nonsense and then publish it on the Internet on a daily basis, so maybe I’m not helping my argument there. But Jonathan and Dianne are definitely real people who came on the tour, and then subsequently managed to find my blog and the account of our trip. I’m not sure how they found it because I didn’t mention my blog to them. After all, we’d only just met, and it’s not the kind of thing that comes up in conversation. It’s not as if I announced to everyone as we said goodbye, “well it’s been nice meeting you, and if you’d like to read up on my thoughts about this afternoon then you can visit my daily blog at davideagle.co.uk.” But they somehow managed to find it. I’d like to think that they started reading the account of the wildlife trip, and have now been hooked in and are going through the back catalogue. There’s a lot to look forward to, including some really funny stuff about kettles.

The odd thing about writing a public blog is that the people I am writing about might read it. I just want to clarify, Jonathan and Dianne, that when I referred to “unfit pensioners,” that obviously didn’t innclude you. In fact, I originally wrote a couple of hundred words in the blog about how impressed I was by your physique, fitness and agility, but Michael and Sean advised me to take it out, as apparently I was coming across a bit creepy and full-on.

Let’s just hope Mr Fat Man or Alanis Morissette don’t read Dollop 210. If you ever get chatting to either of them, could you please refrain from mentioning my blog; I know that might be hard because it’s obviously your natural conversation starter, but please try on this occasion.

Back tomorrow, which will be our final day in Canada before heading back home to England.

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David’s Daily Digital Dollop: Dollop 212 – Dolloping From A Horse

Our Canadian adventure continues with a horse ride through the woods of Banff. On our journey, we hear local tales, including a story about a cursed mountain, there’s some interesting mule facts, and there’s some lovely authentic horse-based ambience, including horses pissing and farting. Oh yes, that’s right, pissing and farting horses; these Dollops just get better and better!

Download today’s audio Dollop here

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David’s Daily Digital Dollop: Dollop 211 – Introducing Simon Mack

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We’ve just been to the bank. This is the first Canadian bank I’ve ever been in, so I don’t know if this is common in Canada, but upon entering the place we were handed a free cup cake. Then we were brought to a desk with a big wheel at the centre which we were told to spin. Michael spun it, and won 10 dollars, Sean spun it and won 10 dollars, I spun it and also won 10 dollars. We’d only been in this bank for a minute and already we were thirty dollars and three cup cakes richer. What would happen next? Would we get the option to either simply pay our money in or take a gamble: if it lands on red they pay double your money into your account, but if it lands on black you lose it all. The bank also had a drive through.

We stayed in another youth hostel last night. The beds all had name tags on with the names of the people who were staying in the hostel. I had been chosen as the person to sleep underneath Simon Mack. Sleeping underneath Simon Mack was a lot less fart-filled and painful than the drunken, well-built, French Vegetarian I lay underneath at the hostel in England (see Dollop 205). Simon was on the thin side, and I mean this in the literal sense of the word thin, not the confusing Canadian Country singer’s definition of the word (see yesterday’s Dollop). And so when he got into bed, he nimbly sprung into it, without a single groan or fart. Comparatively speaking, it was a pleasure to be lying underneath Simon Mack. Again, this is just comparatively speaking; if I had a choice not to lie underneath any men than obviously I’d choose that, but given that I had to lie underneath someone, Simon Mack was a good man to be lying underneath.

Oh dear, I thought that I was alone in this room. Sean has gone for a walk, Michael has gone for a helicopter ride, and I thought I heard Simon leave quite early. The room was very quiet, so I just assumed I was by myself. So I didn’t bother to put headphones on, and so everything I’ve been typing has been read out loud to me by the screen reader. Then I heard a movement above me, as Simon Mack hurriedly got out of bed, put his clothes on and very quickly left the room. I suppose you could say that he left in a bit of a Mack Flurry. Hmm, I think that might have to be a contender for the worst joke of this entire Dollop series so far. It’s pretty likely that he’s just heard everything I’ve written about him. I imagine that it would be rather harrowing to wake up and hear your name repeatedly spoken by a robotic voice, saying about how much of a pleasure it was to lie underneath you.

We all went out last night, and after a few drinks decided that it would be a fun idea to welcome Simon Mack to our dorm by playing the 90’s pop song by Mark Morrison, Return Of The Mack, when he entered the room. When we got back to the hostel, Simon Mack still hadn’t returned to the room. We sat up talking for an hour or so, my finger poised over the button, ready to play the chorus of the song at the moment that he arrived.

“Return of the mack,
It is,
Return of the mack,
Come on,
Return of the mack,
Oh, my god,
Here I am.”

We would play the song and sing along, and he would laugh, and we would laugh, and we would chat until the early hours of the morning, thanks to our perfect icebreaker. He might even join with thhe song, singing the “here I am” bit himself. Wouldn’t that be brilliant? But then, as time ticked on, we got more and more tired, and the effects of the alcohol began to wear off, and the idea seemed less of a good one. We began to talk ourselves out of it. He might find it rather intimidating and weird to enter his room and immediately be greeted by three people singing “return of the Mack” to him. So we turned off the light and just went to sleep instead. It was another couple of hours before he entered the room and lightly sprung into bed, so it’s a good job we didn’t wait up for him.

I intend to try and catch up on the week’s worth of audio Dollops today, and I also think that tomorrow’s Dollop will be an audio only Dollop. So far in this trip we’ve audio Dolloped from a hot tub and a jet ski. Tomorrow will be another audio Dollop first. Join me tomorrow to find out where and what I’m Dolloping from.

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David’s Daily Digital Dollop: Dollop 210 – In Which We Talk To A Thin Fat Man, A Fictitious Attractive Girl And A Confused Songwriter

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Last night’s gig was really good. It turns out that the reason it was called a Celtic Country night was because there was a band on before us who played Country. It seems as if in Canada and America, the word Celtic is used as a very broad term simply to encompass the none country side of folk.

The Country act was a duo, which included a man who went by the name Fat Man. This seemed an odd choice of name because he wasn’t at all fat, in fact he was rather thin. When I asked him why he was called Fat Man, he said that it was because he was thin. There was a pause while I waited for the rest of the explanation, but none came, so I made what I thought would come across as a puzzled face.

Given that I’ve never seen a puzzled face before, I’m not sure what one looks like and so I’m not really sure how to make one. I assume that if I am puzzled then my face will probably make the gesture automatically, without the need for any thought or effort on my part, but I can’t be sure. Obviously my face will automatically form into a smile when I’m happy, even though I’ve never seen a smile, or at least I’ve never been conscious of seeing one – perhaps my brain has somehow registered it subconsciously. This suggests that smiling is an automatic thing that happens, rather than it being a learnt thing from seeing it and then mirroring it. I know how to smile regardless of having never received that information from the external world. It’s presumably an automatic, instinctive, in-built thing, hardwired into us from birth.

I think the thing that gets me the most about being blind is not being able to communicate visually. It’s frustrating whenever I hear phrases like, “our eyes met across the crowded room,” or “I knew by her eyes what she was thinking.” Really? I have to rely on people telling me what they’re thinking to know what they’re thinking. “Her eyes said it all.” No they bloody didn’t, if you want to say it all, I’m afraid you’re going to have to say it all, or at the very least, say some of it. I’ve heard loads of stories of how two people met and fell in love because they saw each other from across the room and smiled. Then they’ll say something like, “it took us ages to finally get the courage to talk to each other.” Yet when they do speak to each other, they are not strangers. They have a history, a connection. They are talking to each other long before they talk to each other. But this is completely alien and impossible for me.

I think that this makes relationships really difficult for me, because where do you start? On a few occasions I’ve been in a bar and a friend has said that a girl is smiling at me from across the room. Brilliant, but what am I meant to do with that information? I can’t smile back at her because I don’t know who she is. If I did ask my friend to turn me in the direction of where she is so that I could try a smile at her, then I’m doubtful that this would have positive results. I’d constantly need a commentary on what was going on. This would mean that my friend would also have to be looking at her which might make her feel a bit anxious. She’s just smiled at me, and now the man next to me is swivelling my head around, pointing and whispering in my ear every time she smiles. I think it’s safe to say that the smiling wouldn’t last for long. Plus, how do I know how long to smile for? What kind of smile to do? I don’t know how to smile? It just happens automatically. But I need the right smile. I don’t want to grin at her, or smirk; it needs to just be a little smile of acknowledgement, a friendly “hello” smile, a smile that says just enough. And that can’t be learnt, because it involves interacting with what the other person is communicating. I ccan’t do a smile of acknowledgement, because I haven’t acknowledged.

“There’s a girl across the room who’s just smiled at you.”

“Right, OK, position my head to where she is and tell me when she’s looking.”

“OK, keep your head there mate. OK, she’s looking, quick, smile!”

“Shh, keep your voice down. She’ll hear you. What kind of smile?”

“You missed your chance. She’s talking to her friends again now. That would have been the perfect moment.”

“But I don’t know what kind of smile to do. Let me try a few on you and you can let me know which is best. I want a smile that basically says a casual, friendly hello. Nothing over-the-top or arrogant, just a friendly hello.”

“OK, face me and try some out.”

“OK, how about this one.”

“No, you look like you’re constipated.”

“OK, what about this?”

“No, you look like a psycho killer.”

“OK, how about this?”

“That’s more like it.”

“How long should I do that for, do you think?”

“Well it depends on her response. I’ll look over your shoulder at her to see how she reacts, and we’ll judge it from there.”

“Won’t that look a bit weird? You looking over my shoulder?”

“Well, what choice do we have. OK, now this is going to be fast-moving. Eye contact is very quick-paced and involves instinctive responses based on what the other person is doing. I’ll be shouting out instructions to you as we go. Ready?”

“Er, OK.”

“Right, tilt your head up and to he left, right a bit, left a bit, right, stop, OK, she’s looking, quick, smile, stop smiling, look down, she’s looking down at the ground coyly, do the same, now, head up again and smile, a slightly wider smile, stop, look down again.”

“What’s happening now?”

“Er, she’s just walked out of the pub very quickly. What smile did you do?”

“Er, I don’t know, it was all so fast. I think I did this.”

“Bloody hell mate, you look like a constipated psycho killer.”

I suppose the only other option is to get my friend to smile at her on my behalf, a smile via proxy, but I’m not sure that would really help. And I can’t go up to her and say, “hi, I’m sorry, apparently you were smiling at me. But I can’t see you smiling at me, so I thought maybe we could cut out the whole smiling at each other from across the room bit, and just skip straight to a conversation. Oh, and by the way, if you are interested in me then would you please make it clear to me with words, because I won’t be able to read your subtle facial expressions. In fact I won’t even be able to read your unsubtle facial expressions. So rather than your eyes saying it all, if you could just say it with your voice instead, that would be great. So, now we’ve got that established, let’s have a conversation and see where it goes. HI, I’m David …”

I’m doubtful how effective that would prove.

Anyway, as I was saying, before that lengthy inadvertent sidetrack, apparently Fat Man is called that because he is actually thin. I made a puzzled face, and then he said, “are you OK? You look constipated.” No, he didn’t, I was just being hilarious there. He said that it was an ironic name, like when people say “bad” to mean good, he was called Fat Man because he was actually a thin man. I pretended to understand out of politeness. So I didn’t point out his misuse of the word ironic. The Canadians seem to have difficulty understanding the word ironic. Alanis Morissette is a prime example.

“It’s like rain on your wedding day.”

“No it’s not. It was raining the day before when it wasn’t your wedding day. It’s annoying, but it’s not ironic. It’s just the weather.”

“It’s a no smoking sign on your cigarette break.”

“No it’s not, Alanis. If the no smoking sign only materialised whenever you had a cigarette break, then you might have a point. But that no smoking sign was there when you didn’t have a cigarette break. Just walk a little further and then you’ll be fine to smoke. That’s called mild inconvenience, not irony.”

“It’s a free ride when you’ve already paid.”

“Well, not really. That’s just weird. I mean, You paid for something that’s free, then surely you just ask for the money back. After all, it’s a free ride. Or maybe you just say that they can keep the money as a donation towards the fuel. I suppose you could argue that the concept of a free ride that you’ve paid for is a good definition of an oxymoron. But let’s not add another linguistic term to the mix, given that you seem to be still struggling with the notion of irony. If you’d written a song called, Isn’t It An Oxymoron, then a free ride when you’ve already paid might be a good lyric.”

“It’s like meeting the man of your dreams, and then meeting his beautiful wife.”

“No it’s not. Because if he’s the man of your dreams, then chances are he’s the man of someone else’s dreams, and it’s highly likely that lots of other people will also find him attractive, and it’s very likely that he’ll therefore have a beautiful wife. It’s not ironic, it’s basic probability. If you’d written a song called, Isn’t It Just Basic Probability, then you you could use that lyric and it would make sense.”

After the show, I went up to Fat Man to congratulate him on a really good performance.

“That was awful,” I happily told him.

“Oh, really. I thought it went OK.” he sounded a bit upset with my praise. This whole Canadian irony thing is very confusing.

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David’s Daily Digital Dollop: Dollop 209 – A Dollop About A Lollop

Download the audio version of today’s Dollop here

We’ve had quite a few days off on this tour. This is because most of our bookings are at festivals which take place on the weekends, with the occasional gig in between. Obviously it doesn’t really make sense to keep popping home, given that home is 5000 miles away. I think the only band that might do something as crazy as that are the Proclaimers, who seem to have a different perspective on making crazy long distance journeys for odd and spurious reasons.

So, he’s going to walk 1000 miles, and the only reason is seemingly so that he can fall down at someone’s door. If he’s managed to walk all that way, you’d have thought that he might give the door bell a ring, rather than just slumping down by the door, waiting for the person to open it and get the shock of their life when they see a Delirious man lying on the ground, staring back up at them. This man has clearly got a mental illness and needs help. He’s walked 1000 miles just to lie down at a person’s door, and then, when the door is opened, he declares that he’s going to constantly be with this person, waking up with them, getting drunk with them, growing old with them. This poor person has only just woken up, and only opened the door to see if the milkman had been, and now this was happening: a man declaring that he’s going to spend the rest of his life with this person, in between making a series of weird noises: “Da lat da (Da lat da), da lat da (Da lat da)
Da-da-da dun-diddle un-diddle un-diddle uh da-da.” This person clearly has issues and needs medical help.

Yesterday’s day off consisted of us going on what was described as a wildlife tour and hike. Our original plan was to drive somewhere and go for a walk , but we were informed by someone working for a tourism company, that there wouldn’t be anywhere to park the car and so we would have to go on an organised outing. With the benefit of hindsight, it’s clear that this person was just trying to sell us something in order to make money, because when we got to the place, there wwere loads of parking spaces. But instead, we paid a tour company to take us and a load of other people on a bus, which spent the first forty minutes ambling through the town, picking up various passengers. We then dawdled down the road, stopping every couple of minutes to look at wildlife. Jasper apparently has bears, elks, deer and caribou. We stopped three times in fifteen minutes to look at some sheep, and another couple of times to see some squirrels.

Everyone else on the bus was seventy or older and didn’t look cut out for hiking. One minute into the walk, and it was clear that the word hike had been very missleading, and had probably been deliberately used by the tour company to make it sound more appealing and sellable to us. Unless it was going to be a hike, in which case, we’d probably be killing off a load of unfit pensioners. We lolloped around a park for about half an hour. We stopped to look at the lake, not that we needed to really stop because the speed that we were walking was practically akin to stopping anyway. Then we started again. Then, a couple of minutes later we stopped again and looked at the lake from about 50 metres from where we’d looked at it previously. We did this for half an hour. Then we got back on the bus and began the slow journey home, while the tour guide told us stories of bears, elk and deer, in between us periodically stopping to look at another sheep, squirrel or stretch of lake.

The whole thing took six hours; if we’d have done that journey by ourselves, we could have done it in one hour. One of the other reasons for the length of time the journey took, in addition to the fact that we spent 90 minutes of it picking-up and dropping-off people, half an hour to look at sheep, squirrels and stretches of lake, and then walking at a painfully slow speed, was because we also made toilet stops every half an hour. /The day was quite fun though, if not for the intended reasons. The people we were with were very friendly and interesting and we had a good time chatting and joking with them. Being in folk music we are used to hanging around with pensioners. And then, right at the end of the tour, a bear came out onto the road side.

“We shouldn’t stop for too long because we’re running a bit late,” said the tour guide when everyone had got all excited about seeing the bear and naturally wanted to stop. The reason we were running a bit late was because we’d stopped for half an hour to look at sheep. We stopped for a few minutes while people took photos. Even I managed to see the bear through the bus window, although, to be honest, I couldn’t realy tell much of a difference between it and the sheep; obviously that’s because I’m blind, in case you were starting to question my level of basic intelligence.

Today is the gig I talked about in Dollop 197, which describes our music as Celtic Country. I’ve been in this band for eleven years, since it started, and I’m pretty sure it’s not Celtic Country, in fact I have no idea what Celtic Country even is. Here is the write-up for our gig:.

“Celtic or country? Which one to choose? Well this week you don’t have to choose, because we’ve got both, with The Young’uns.”

Alas we never managed to procure a harp or slide guitar and learn a whole new repertoire based on this strange unknown genre which we’re apparently part of. There is a chance though that we might be saved the awkwardness of performing English folk music to an expectant crowd of Celtic Country aficionados, because it’s an outdoor gig and currently there is a massive thunder storm happening, and the metrological Office have issued severe storm warnings. We might just get away with this yet.

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David’s Daily Digital Dollop: Dollop 208 – The Dollop That Shouldn’t Have Been

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You might be thinking that, given today’s Dollop title, and the fact that I’ve been intimating life-threatening dangers ahead, that you’re in for a gripping tale about how we narrowly escaped death. But this is not the case. The reason why I shouldn’t be writing today’s Dollop and why you shouldn’t be reading this is because I’ve already done today’s Dollop.

Dollop 208 was meant to be a Dollop from a canoe. Me, Michael, and Michael’s girlfriend Hannah went canoeing on the beautiful Lake Louise – that’s the name of the lake, in case you thought that I’d just decided to specifically address one Dollop listener, and you were getting a bit jealous. We spent most of the trip chatting to you, the invisible fourth person, who turned out to be even more invisible than we thought, given that you will never hear it. The reason for this is because a minute after getting in the boat, the recording stopped.

It seems as if my digital recorder has the same philosophy as American chain coffee shops such as Starbucks. In such establishments, The notion of small does not exist, your options begin at medium, or with Starbucks, “tall” or “grande.” Similarly, my digital recorder apparently doesn’t have the facility to tell you that the battery is low, but seems to choose instead to keep telling you that the battery level is medium until it completely runs out. It goes from high, to medium, to dead. Ah, so there was a death, but it was just a couple of AA batteries.

Goodness knows what people on the other boats thought, because we weren’t talking to each other as such, but constantly to someone else who they couldn’t see. And I wasn’t holding any equipment such as a phone or camera, because the tiny microphones were in my ears, unable to be seen. At one point we engineered a race between us and some Japanese tourists, which involved a lot of drama with much clashing of ores. Our race rivals seemed rather bemused and entertained by the fact that the three of us were commentating on the race with great enthusiasm, shouting rather loudly to be heard over the sounds of the water, the ore clashing, and the strange rhythmic chanting noise that our opponents were making, presumably so as to keep in time with each other and maximise speed. Unfortunately for them, they were unable to forgo the stereotype of Japanese tourists, otherwise they’d have probably won the race, but one of them kept putting down his ore in order to take photos. Therefore, we won the race, and I then tried to conduct an interview with the losing team, which seemed to amuse them quite a lot, although they might have also been a bit concerned by our mental stability, and were perhaps just humouring us out of politeness or fear.

It’s a shame that the thing wasn’t recorded because I think it would have made for a good audition tape for the BBC, resulting in us being snapped up to host top gear, such was the brilliance of the recording and our presenting style. I even threw in some slightly dubious lines about the Japanese in order to curry favour with the Clarkson fans. But alas, it wasn’t to be. I guess we’ll just have to continue with this bloody folk music lark instead. Oh well.

On the positive side though, I suppose the fact that we thought we were recording meant that we ended up having a very different experience to the one that we’d probably have had if we weren’t hamming up things for the Dollop. We might have just had a relaxing boat trip, but because of the Dollop, we did things like racing Japanese tourists in order to spice things up a bit. So although the thing didn’t record, we probably had a more interesting and exciting time in the canoe than we would have had otherwise.

Perhaps there is a good moral in that last paragraph. Because, my faithful congregation, you should live your life as if you were trying to entertain a few hundred people online, and then it will take you to places and give you experiences that you otherwise would eschew. Bless you. You see what I did there. That vicar’s sermon bit with the eschew bless you joke wouldn’t have happened if the recording had worked. So what you lost in exhilarating top gear style boat-based drama, you gained in hilarious wordplay.

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David’s Daily Digital Dollop: Dollop 207 – In Which We Enter The Mind Of A Bear

Download the audio version of today’s Dollop here

So, we survived the storm, we survived the Spanish hitch hikers, but once again, our lives potentially hang in the balance. I am writing this in the car, on a five hour drive to Jasper, which is a place in Canada; we’re not travelling all that way just to meet one random bloke, all though I’m sure he’s very nice. Jasper has been in the news recently for the fact that there have been a few people killed and injured by bears. Don’t worry though, because we’ve been armed with some important advice about what to do in case of a bear attack. Apparently the trick is just to lie down and play dead. If you’re having problems trying to be a convincing dead person, fear not, the bears will give you a helping hand (or a helping paw I suppose) by killing you. We’ve also been instructed to buy some bear spray which you spray at the bear in an attempt to ward it off.

I assume though that you have to make a choice between using the spray or employing the play dead tactic. If you see a bear and you spray it, then presumably it knows that you’re alive, and so, if the spray doesn’t work, you can’t really then resort to pretending to be dead, as the bears will no you’re alive. Unless the bears are just really stupid.

We went into town earlier today to get some bear spray. Michael saw what seemed like the Canadian equivalent of a pound shop, and decided that we should get the spray there, because it was much cheaper than in the other stores, but I wasn’t sure if it was a particularly good idea to scrimp on something that is potentially going to save your life.

“Raaaaaar! Raaaaar!” We’re entering the mind of a bear now – just so you know what’s going on. “Raaar! Raaaar! I see humans. Nice juicy humans. Raaaar! I’m going to eat them. Raaar! Oh no, what’s that? Damn, they’ve got a spray. Nooooooooo! They’re spraying me. Retreat, retreat! Raaaaaar! Hang on? What the hell is that? They’ve gone for the cheep dollar store spray. Pathetic. As if that’s going to do anything. How stupid can you get? These humans really can be so incredibly naive and astoundingly unintelligent. Haha. It’s my lucky day. Oh, hang on, what’s happening. They’re lying down. Oh no, they must be dead. They must have all somehow mysteriously died at exactly the same time. Damn, well I don’t want to eat dead meat. Ah, damn, that’s a real shame. Oh well, better luck next time. Raaar!”

Yesterday, I took you into the mind of a compulsive dog kisser, and today we enter the mind of a bear. These Dollops are truly pioneering.

There is a weird part of me that would really love us to be attacked by a bear, so long as it happened when I was recording an audio Dollop. Imagine how dramatic it would be for you listening, as I attempt to play dead, while a bear prowled around me. Obviously I’d be in a bit of a quandary, because I’d feel obliged to keep you informed of what was happening, but the commentating might arouse the bear’s suspicions as to the veracity of my deadness. I think that this might even prove a more exciting Dollop than the one from a bumper boat, having a water fight with children.

We’ve passed loads of hitch hikers on this journey. Unfortunately we can’t pick him up because our car is completely full, as Michael’s girlfriend has joined us for the rest of the trip. While she is lovely and it’s great to have her with us, it does mean that we now won’t be able to pick up any interesting people that I can dollop about. So there’ll be no more stories about hitch hikers to entertain you with, which is why I’m having to resort to imagining a hungry bear’s inner-monologue.

Hopefully we shall survive this next bit of our adventure, although, ominously, we’ve just parked up somewhere to get something to eat, and it turns out the place is called Dead Man’s Flats. Is it a harbinger of our pending death as a result of a hungry bear? Stay tuned to find out.

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David’s Daily Digital Dollop: Dollop 206 – The Dog Kisser

Download the audio version of today’s Dollop here

The Canadian town of Calgary is a place clearly on the up. Never has there been so much excitement in this town. Not only does this weekend feature a massive folk festival with incredible international performers, but there is also a dog festival happening. In case you are unsure, we are playing the folk festival, not the dog festival, although if we’d have known, we could have built up a repertoire of dog-related songs and then offered our services to the dog festival, thus making our trip to Calgary even more lucrative.

There are loads of dog-related stalls, including a one selling dog hot tubs. I’m not sure how a dog hot tub differs from a human one. Surely there is no need for a different kind of hot tub, but perhaps I am wrong. There’s also the opportunity to pay five dollars to kiss a dog. This is apparently an endeavour to raise money for charity.

“so we just want to say thanks for agreeing to support our charity with your festival.”

“Oh it’s a pleasure, and we’ve got some very exciting news about what we’re going to do to raise you as much money as possible.”

“Oh great, go on.”

“Five dollars to kiss a dog.”

“What?! Are you joking?!”

“OK, I take your point. Maybe 5 dollars is a bit low for such an amazing prize. Maybe we should raise it to ten dollars.”

“Do you really seriously think that people will be scrambling to kiss a dog? I mean, normally people just do a raffle or a tombola.”

“She’s a very attractive dog. And I’m telling you from experience, she’s an incredible kisser. Seriously, you haven’t lived until you’ve taken a smooch with that pooch.”

At our gig, I asked the audience whether they had paid to kiss the dog, and no one said yes. So who are these people who are doing it?
I mean, everyone in the audience might be lying; it might be their guilty secret.

“Sit down dear, I’ve got some terrible news?”

“What is it dear?”

“This marriage has survived a lot, but what I’m about to tell you is pretty bad. I’m afraid we’re broke, completely broke.”

“How?! What have you done?!”

“Well, the finer details aren’t really important.”

“Have you been gambling again. You promised me you’d given it up?!”

“It’s not gambling dear.”

“Then what is it?”

“Well, it’s rather awkward. I don’t know what came over me.”

“What?! Is it the drink? Are you back on the drink? You’ve spent all the money on alcohol?!”

“No no, it’s not the drink. It’s hard to explain.”

“Tell me!”

“Well, er … well, you know that dog festival we went to?”

“Yes.”

“Well, you know they had the opportunity to kiss a dog for five dollars.”

“Yes?”

“Well, I kind of got a bit carried away.”

“What?!”

“I snook off when you were looking at the hot tubs, and I had a kiss with the dog. And then another. And another. Before I knew it I was paying on my credit card. And I just couldn’t stop.”

“I wondered where you went. So you’ve put us in a financial quagmire because you’ve been paying to get off with a dog? What are we going to tell the children. We’ll have to tell them you’ve blown it all on drugs. We can’t have them knowing the awful truth.”

The festival also has a hot dog stall. I know that hot dogs aren’t actually made from dog – well there’s a dodgy takeaway place in Hartlepool where they actually might be – but it seems a little odd to have all these dog friendly stalls, and then sell hot dogs.

We’re having a great time at Calgary festival. I’m referring to the dog festival; to be honest we’ve been enjoying the dog festival so much that we’ve not really managed to get to the folk festival. But our spots at the folk festival have been really enjoyable. People have been laughing a lot at what we’re saying, although I’m not sure whether this is because they find what we’re saying funny, or are just amused by our voices, because people keep coming up to us and saying things like: “you guys, your accents are hilarious. Everything you say just cracks me up.” If there are any standup comedians reading (probably to steal all my amazing jokes; if I get wind of anyone doing dog kissing material then I’ll be very angry) I’d suggest a good place to play is Calgary. It doesn’t matter how bad your jokes are, you’ll still get them laughing hysterically just at your English accent.

Anyway, must dash, we’re about to do a gig.

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David’s Daily Digital Dollop: Dollop 205 – starring a Drunken, Gassy, Over-sensitive, Vegetarian Frenchman, And An Angry Old Meditater

Download the audio version of today’s Dollop here

On Wednesday night we stayed in a youth hostel, but I’m not going to tell you about that because nothing interesting happened there. Our last youth hostel stay, however, was in Bath, and was a rather interesting experience, due to the people we were sharing a room with.

We arrived at the hostel early evening just to quickly check in, before heading to the arts centre to do our gig. When we entered our bedroom, the lights were off and the curtains were closed. We were about to turn the light on when a towering figure stepped into view.

“It’s best to leave the light off,” he whispered in a French accent. I assume that this was because he was French, as opposed to just being eccentric and choosing to adopt a French accent just for the hell of it. Although, his first sentence had been rather strange, so maybe he was just very eccentric, and enjoyed confusing people with an array of accents and peculiar whispered statements.

“He’s meditating,” whispered the man, still with a French accent. We looked around the room. There was another figure perched on top of one of the bunk beds, motionless.

“He sits there for hours, not moving. But He doesn’t like it if the light goes on. He gets angry.”

“When you say, he gets angry,” I whispered, “what do you mean?”

“He just shouts,” replied the man.

Surely the whole point of meditating is to become a calmer and more centred person? Unless the meditation is working, but it’s just that he was an exceptionally angry man before he tried it. Maybe if someone had disturbed his meditation a few weeks ago, he’d have punched them in the face, but now, thanks to this man’s hours of meditation, he’s managed to control his reaction to merely shouting. If he can keep the meditation going, in another month he might have reached the stage where he just writes the person who disturbs him a strongly worded letter.

The four of us were all heading out of the hostel, and as we walked through the corridor, we chatted to the whispering French man, who, now that we were out of the room with the meditating man, had stopped whispering, although he still chose to keep the French accent. I was beginning to suspect that he might actually be French.

He said that he was going out drinking with some friends who’d moved to England from his home town of France. He hadn’t seen them for a long while, so it was going to be a big night, lots of drink and lots of food. He’d probably not get back til late. “But I’ll try not to disturb you when I get back in,” he said.

“So long as you don’t turn the light on, we should all be fine,” I replied.

He asked us what we were up to tonight, and we told him that we were doing a gig. He asked us what kind of songs we sing, and we mentioned the fact that we sing a French song. He asked us what it was called, and we told him. “Pique La Baleine.” He looked confused and concerned.

“Ah, OK. Kill the whale,” he said, sounding worried. “I’m a vegetarian,” he added, sounding angry. And then he briskly walked out of the hostel.

The song isn’t a song glorifying whale killing, nor does it describe the whale killing in great and brutal detail. It’s a song about a whaleman who is longing to go home and be in the arms of his love, but instead has to plough through the sea hunting whales to make money. The verses are all about his thoughts of despair and longing, which is countered by the chorus, a cry of “Pique La Baleine!” Kill the whale, which brings us back sharply into the reality of his immediate situation. But this French man hadn’t waited around for an explanation. He seemed to have immediately jumped to the conclusion that we were passionate whale haters, who loved whale death so much that we even learnt how to sing about it in other languages. Maybe his racing brain had gone to imagine that hour entire repertoire consisted of songs about animal cruelty from all over the world: a jovial Icelandic song about abattoirs, a Polish song celebrating vivisection. What a night it was going to be, sharing a room with an angry meditator who hates light, and a French vegetarian who thinks that we’re on a par with Hitler, except Hitler was a vegetarian, so even worse than Hitler.

When we got back to the hostel that night, the meditating man was asleep in the dark. The French vegetarian had not yet returned. We crept into our beds in the dark and tried to get to sleep, which wasn’t at all easy due to the grumpy meditating man snoring at an impressive volume. It was even worse for Michael, who was in the bunk bed below him, and the mattress, being very thin, was vibrating and pulsating with the rumble of the snores, causing the bed springs to resonate and vibrate along with the snoring.

But Michael wasn’t the most unfortunate one that night; I was about to get a much worse deal. I lay awake for hours, unable to sleep due to the noise from the snoring old man. Then I heard the door open, and in came the French vegetarian. He tried his best to quietly creep through the room in the darkness, but he completely failed to pull this off, crashing into each bed several times. He was clearly right about the night involving lots of drink, as there was a very strong smell of alcohol which appeared as soon as he’d entered the room. He blindly and drunkenly crashed into my bed for the third time, and then angrily whispered some words in French, which I assume were swear words fuelled by his crashing into the bed, but I couldn’t be sure that they weren’t something like, “and now it’s time to kill the evil animal hating British bastards!” I braced myself, in case I needed to defend myself from an attack. But there was no attack, at least not a physical one, although I was about to get a very unnerving attack of the senses.

The man began removing his clothes right next to where I was lying. He removed his shirt and dumped it on the floor. Then he removed his trousers, and my nose was assaulted by an acrid fart smell. He’d clearly also predicted correctly when he said that it was going to be a night with lots of food. He’d presumably stocked up on his lentils supply, and as he bent down to remove his socks, his backside pretty much in my face, he let out a really slow fart. It was so slow that he might have not even noticed. I could hear its low buzzing right next to my face, and then the smell came. I wanted to turn around and face the other way, but for some stupid reason I felt too awkward to do so. How terribly British is that? I would rather endure a man farting in my face, than risk embarrassing him by doing something that might make him feel self-conscious. So I just lay there, facing his backside, holding my breath, and praying that he would move away soon. Maybe this was a deliberate attack, to get me back for my animal hating ways. Maybe this was an animal rights protest. If it was a protest then it certainly fell under the category of a dirty protest.

The man eventually straightened himself and began to attempt the journey up the ladder and into bed. This man was very well-built, and this, along with his inebriation, meant that every step on the ladder caused the whole bed to shake. I was convinced he was going to fall off and land with his fart-ridden backside smack bang on my face. I turned on to my other side. Eventually af a lot more shaking, he made it into bed. But the “fun” wasn’t over yet. While Michael’s bed was shaking to the sounds of an angry old man snoring, mine was pulsating to the sounds of a drunk French Vegetarian man farting. As I mentioned earlier, the mattresses were very thin, meaning that I was treated to both the smell, the sound and the vibration of this man’s farts.

I tried to fall asleep, but it was impossible with all of this going on. The drunken French vegetarian methane machine on the other hand had absolutely no problem with getting to sleep, as in mere minutes of him getting into bed, he began to snore, perhaps even louder than the grumpy old man in the bunk bed adjacent. The sound that was filling my ears was like some really odd experimental piece of music, as if John Cage had taken a record number of mushrooms, and had decided to compose a piece involving arhythmic sequences of snores and farts.

Eventually sleep came, but it didn’t last long, as at about 530 in the morning, I woke to hear an even stranger sequence of sounds. The man above me was still farting and snoring, but above that was another sound. It was chanting. The grumpy old man was once again perched on the top of his bunk, holding a book and chanting in Latin. The weird incongruity of everything was just too much. Farting, snoring and Latin chanting. It was clearly too much for Sean and Michael too, because I heard them both trying desperately to stifle their laughter. I was doing the same. We quickly whispered to each other, all agreeing that we should get out of there. Five minutes later we were back in the car heading home.

Well, I suggested yesterday that, now that I’m thirty-one, my Dollops would take on a more erudite tone. It turns out I was wrong, given that I’ve spent most of today’s Dollop talking about farts. Oh well.

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David’s Daily Digital Dollop: Dollop 204 – What A Bloody Night

Download the audio version of today’s Dollop here

Today is my first Dollop at the age of thirty-one. From now on these Dollops will possess a marked increase in maturity, erudition and wisdom. Tomorrow I intend to write about stocks and shares, but for now, here’s part 3 of my account of Tuesday. You can read the first part here, and part 2 here. But don’t worry if you haven’t got time to read all that, as it’s not dependant on you understanding today’s Dollop.

Our gig in the industrial Canadian town of Trail was a surreal affair. I’d cut myself just half an hour before going on stage. Not deliberately. I mean, hanging around with Michael for days on end can be a bit gruelling, but it’s not that bad. I cut my lip while shaving.

I’d decided, half an hour before setting off for the gig, that I would have a shave. I thought I’d have plenty of time, but the razors I bought were just so blunt. I think the mistake was choosing to buy disposable razors in the airport. They probably blunt them deliberately for safety reasons. I’d seemingly chosen the worst place ever to buy a razor. I hadn’t had a shave for months, and after fifteen minutes, the razor had barely scratched the surface. Well, actually, that’s probably not the best phrase to choose, given that all this razor seemed to be capable of doing was somehow cutting the face beneath all the hair, while leaving the hair more or less fully in tact. These razors weren’t a deliberately ineffective terrorist weapon; they were just crap.

There was now just fifteen minutes before we had to leave. I would have to pick up the pace. I grabbed another disposable razor, and began to frenziedly shave. This razor seemed to be more effective than the previous one. I \plied my face with shaving foam and began to wildly take swipes at the beard, and I mean that in both senses of the term, as I was both shaving it and shouting profanities at it, because it still just wasn’t shifting anywhere near fast enough. Twenty minutes later, the beard was off, but I’d made a gash in the top of my lip which was pouring with blood.

There wasn’t time to do anything about it, except hold a tissue against it. Half an hour later, we were on stage, and my mouth was still pouring with blood. If this had been back at home in Britain in a folk club, a festival or an arts centre, where most of the audience know who we were, then this could have been really funny. If I’d come on stage with my face pouring with blood in front of a late night festival crowd, then it would be hilarious. We could make something of it. But when an audience have no idea who you are, have never seen you before, and you’re in a park at a council-run family event, then the reception you get is very different.

And it happened yet again. We were introduced as an Irish band. The first thing I planned to do was to come on the stage and make a joke about this, but when I opened my mouth, blood came out, which kind of changed everything. Whether we were Irish or not was neither here nor there to the audience, who were more interested and distracted by the man standing on the stage, dripping with blood.

It was a strange setup anyway, regardless of the blood bath element. It was an outdoor event, and the audience had all brought deck chairs to sit on and food to eat. There were meant to be nearly a thousand people in attendance, but the crazy storm earlier, and the storms that were currently happening just a couple of miles away, had apparently put a lot of people off. The 200 people that did make it were interspersed all over the park, and no one was sitting very close to us. This kind of gig is especially difficult for me, because the distance of the audience to the stage, along with the fact that it’s outdoors, means that I can’t really hear the audience responding. And unlike the other two, I’m not able to get any visual feedback about how the gig is going. Add all this to the fact that my mouth was pouring with blood, and you can maybe understand why I felt pretty uncomfortable with things.

On top of that, the sound wasn’t very good at all. We came onto the stage, having just been introduced as Irish, to the sound of deafening feedback. This probably added to the audience’s confusion even more. They thought they were getting an Irish folk band, but then they got deafening feedback and an Englishman spitting blood at them, and they maybe started to wonder whether the organisers had booked the wrong group, and had accidentally got an English death metal band instead.

The gig was by no means a disaster though. People were clearly enjoying the music, and there were many who were laughing at my bloody mouth saga. Someone threw some plasters onto the stage. I tried wearing a plaster, but it proved almost impossible to sing, as it clung to my face and the blood congealed underneath, meaning that I could hardly move my lips. You can hear parts of that gig on a forthcoming Young’uns Podcast.

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