Monday, December 10, 2007

Beware the flammable angels


SO I pick the phone up the other evening and a very nice young man on the other end engages me in conversation.

So how am I today? I’m fine, thank you very much. And did I watch the football last night? I did indeed. And what did I think about Ronaldo’s booking? Funny you should ask. I happen to think that the referee was a complete idiot and if you’d care to explain to me why a player would dive when he was about to complete a hat-trick with a tap-in, then you’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din.

“So,” I say, worrying that I’m being videotaped through the lounge window for some weird Picture Loans advertising campaign, “it’s very nice talking to you, but who are you and what are you selling?”

“Oh, I’m not selling anything,” he says. “It’s just that your Sky Plus box is now a year old and it’s time for you to take out the extended warranty.”

“Err ... how do you mean, it’s time to ...”

“Well,” he says, “we guarantee the box for the first year, but after that any repairs would be up to you, and it could be really expensive to replace it. It’s best just to take out the automatic warranty and then you’ll have no worries.”

“And how much is this extended warranty?” I ask. “Oh,” he says, “just £100 a year, taken out of your account in simple, monthly instalments.”

I must admit that I start to get a bit narked at this point. The bloody box is only 12 months old and already the people who sold it to me are telling me that it’s about to explode into a thousand smithereens. Unless I give them more money.

So I tell the chatty chap that I’m not interested. He’s horrified.

“Are you sure?” he asks. “Over 98 per cent of our customers see sense and sign up. You’re really not thinking this through.”

At which point I lose my rag and see him off. The poor lad is disconsolate. All that chat, all that charm, and the tight bugger on the other end of the phone won’t cough up.

I wander through to the sitting room and nervously turn on the telly. Lodged in my mind is a vision of an angry call centre worker, sitting there stroking the white cat on his lap, his finger hovering over a large red button marked “EXPLODE”.

A MAD old lady writes to complain bitterly about my decision to have Dog castrated in an attempt to calm him down, as detailed in this column a couple of weeks ago.

“There are no bad dogs,” she parrots. “Only bad owners.”

Fine. Call me a bad owner; call me a bad parent. But perhaps you’d like to stick your hand in your purse the next time the appalling beast decides to chew the corner off the 42-inch plasma telly. Which is about to be made redundant anyway by an exploding Sky Plus box.

IT’S BEEN a difficult week for bears. First we had the sad case of Mohammed the teddy, currently incarcerated in Khartoum. Then there was the controversy over the latest Turner Prize winner, a chap called Mark Wallinger, who won the art world’s premier award by dressing up as a bear and wandering around a darkened Berlin art gallery for two hours.

Now, saddest of all, we learn that pantomime stalwart Sooty has been forced by events to cancel his forthcoming tour of the Caribbean. Will nobody think of the children?

(Incidentally, I hear that supporters of jailed teacher Gillian Gibbons are complaining on her behalf that she is now jobless and has a criminal record. Point of order: she’s from Liverpool, so it’s hardly going to set her apart from the rest of the population, is it?)

SEEING AS we’re piling headlong into the festive season, we should acknowledge the enormous effort the Health and Safety Nazis are putting into making sure that we’re going to enjoy ourselves.

First stop, Paignton in Devon, where a primary school headmistress has banned children from wearing angel’s wings during their nativity concert just in case one of them goes up in flames.

Linda Mitchell says: “Last year we had wings made from cardboard and flammable material – some children got scratched. I think most parents would rather their children didn’t go up in smoke.”

Number of primary schoolchildren spontaneously combusting in Britain last year? None.

Off we go to Halesowen, in the West Midlands, but very, very slowly. There the local Rotary Club has been ordered to fit a seatbelt to Santa’s sleigh, or face a £200 increase in their annual insurance premiums.

The Rotary Club Land Rover regularly clocks up speeds of … ooh … 5mph as it tows the sleigh around the town dispensing goodwill and presents to local kids (many of whom burst into flames because they’re wearing wings).

Cases of Santa falling out of his sleigh Richard Hammond-style in recent years? Nil.

Next stop is Llandudno, in a place called Wales, where shopping centre security guards came over all Scrooge-like and banned a school choir from singing carols because they were “too loud”. Better than that, they even called the police to evict the wailing infants from the mall.

Amazingly, there was one police support officer in North Wales who wasn’t crouched behind a hedge with a speed camera, and he duly turned up to unplug the kids’ backing tape and issue ASBOs all round. Splendid stuff.

And finally, we move further down the food chain to South Wales, where another paranoid headteacher has banned homemade mince pies from his school’s annual festive sale. Apparently children regularly start foaming at the mouth and then drop dead after eating unauthorised Christmas produce.

Number of children who have started foaming at the mouth and then dropped dead after eating unauthorised Christmas produce? Nil.


I wouldn’t say that I’m depressed about all this, but I’m just off to have a paddle in my kayak. Pip, pip!

10 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

quote: I wouldn’t say that I’m depressed about all this, but I’m just off to have a paddle in my kayak. Pip, pip! /quote

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2:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apparently the canie geezer was first of all going to disguise himself in a gorilla suit, but then remembered he was in Hartlepool.

3:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

canoe i mean

3:30 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Apparently the canoe is innocent.

3:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyways that codhead canooist is up Sh­it Creek now.

4:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bazza, you missed another H&S ballsup. Local Santa cannot arrive on sleigh (trailer behind a tractor) because the trailer is council owned and is not insured for carrying a passenger. Santa is now to use a historic bus. Ho Ho Ho.

9:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One more .. the Christmas crackers being sent to troops in Afghanistan and Iraq this year must have the explosive "snaps" removed.

Wouldn't want to scare the poor souls now would we!

1:54 AM  
Anonymous Gav said...

He was canoeing with the Mccanns....

6:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apparently the government has ordered toy shops to sell teddy bears at cost
price so nobody can accuse them of making a prophet out of them.

9:24 AM  
Anonymous Dog said...

That's one of Al's anonymous. Do try and keep up dear.

Skydog.

3:25 AM  

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