Monday, 29 October 2007


As the rain started pounding the windscreen heavier by every passing half-mile marking post, I knew we were nearing Wales. Another good clue was that all the of the road signs had now doubled in size, in order to accommodate both English and Welsh warnings and messages. Since visiting Wales at least twice annually for the past five years, I have actually learned quite a lot of Welsh now. However, my knowledge is unfortunately restricted to phrases such as 'Reduce speed now', 'Caution' and 'Speed humps next 1/4 mile'. Useful when ordering food at a restaurant it is not, but then who needs that skill? Everyone except the die-hard Welsh nationalists speak English as well - sometimes even better than you.

My family had acquired the use of my dad's boss' house in the Welsh countryside, tucked away on its own private river with jetty, yacht and speed boat included. This bloke and his wife are seriously minted. Not only do they own this luxury weekend and retirement retreat in Wales, but they also have a flat in the city, a flat in another city and a ski-lodge in the Alps. Add to that the plethora of aforementioned water vehicles and three cars, and you'd be forgiven to think they were showing off a little. Still, we got all this for the week - and I'm not complaining, just jealous, that's all.

Anyway, we arrived on Monday morning after stopping off at this pebble beach (pebble beach? That's like having non-alcoholic wine!). You could never miss the turn off into the village, the sign is about 20-feet wide and five lines deep to encompass Plas-Y-Llanfairreggulugochgochutreaddurrer-Y-Pont-Y-Pony. Actually, that's blatantly a lie, but you get the idea.

I noticed on arrival that they had erected a small series of flood defences around the house, just incase there was enough rain to fill the river and swamp the place, as was probable by the end of our week there.

As day two dawned, I opened the window to be confronted by a rising tide and horizontal rain. Sigh! And resume position beneath covers for next half hour. Don't let your mind be distorted by that phrase: unfortunately Rachel was not present.

I tried again on day three and surprisingly had better luck. The rain had eased slightly and the tide was lower. I decided that now would be a good time to get some breakfast and then go explore.

You really start to appreciate triple Weetabix with whole milk when you're scrabbling up a scree slope on the side of a wet mountain. The rest of my family however had decided to rely on toast to keep them going until lunchtime. "How naive," I thought to myself as I headed on up the crippling gradient while they floundered below and negotiated sheep turds the size of small desktop computers.

The views were amazing and breathtaking. Actually, its the climb that takes your breath away: the summit is the chance you get to find out you forgot to fill the flask up and the nearest drink is seven miles away in a cosy tearoom complete with doilies and old people.

One thing I've never had to contend with before on a mountainside before is a friendly goat. A mainly white version of the species (the constant rain keeps it constantly clean) tagged onto me ten minutes from the top and followed me all the way up there. I ended up lobbing half of my cherished sandwich over the edge of a crag just to get it away from me. Christ, I've never seen anything descend so quickly using all four legs!

The next day we took it easy and went to a National Trust house and walled gardens. I think I blacked out with boredom next to a row of junipers.

On our final full day we went to the beach, because, you know what? We were inundated with glorious sunshine! Unfortunately, our visit was curtailed by my step-father getting his foot stuck in a groyne. It is pronounced 'groin' but is actually a coastal defensive rock formation, for those less geographically vocabulated.

I woke up to a high tide and mild drizzle for the last time on the final morning. The Weetabix had all run out and I was forced to eat toast and bananas like everybody else. The journey home again took three hours instead of half that because someone crashed a lorry full of sheep on the A55. Add to that a contra-flow further down and perhaps you can only begin to understand the pain of my return journey.

I had a bit of a nervous twitch the next morning. I think it was attributed to not having been on a train in two weeks. I needed my fix and went into town for no reason that afternoon to relieve the pressure.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

After several weeks of solid A-level work, I am glad to be taking a week off from college to escape to North Wales for a few days. I will report back on my findings (probably involving sheep and rain) next week. Until then, feel free to have a browse through some of the older posts.

I might even bump into Jingo and the rest of his family on the way

Or if you're feeling really bored, try having a look on my old blog and laugh at how my naive [damn, what's the short-cut key for them umlouts?] my writing style was (or still is?):

Monday, 15 October 2007

"You're hired!"

Ring!! Ring!! (for want of improved onomatopoeia) goes the phone when I am sitting at my desk at home contemplating that interview with Julia and whoever the other one was. Expecting no more than a pointlessly demoralising message from a call centre in Central Asia, I grab tiredly at the handset, pushed the relevant button and pressed the phone to my ear. "'Ullo?" I groan down the line.

Already starting to remove the phone from my ear, a female voice calls back: "Hello, is this Torquer?"

Strange, she seems to know my full real name and, and that voice seems oddly familiar.

"Yes, this is," I reply, now significantly intrigued.

"Hi Torquer, its Julia from the museum. Not Mavis, I was the one with the short white skirt, tight fitting black top and luscious flowing brown hair, remember?"

"How could I forget?" I answer - but seriously, how could I really forget after spending 40 minutes in the same room with that woman?

"Glad you remember. Well, I am very pleased to offer you a job at the museum. The practical element really swayed your application. I will be your new manager, should you choose to accept."

"I do accept indeed, thank you very much Julia."

"Brilliant. When do you want to start?" she giggles.

"How about this weekend?"

"Eager are we? That's fine. Come to my office at 9:30 on Saturday then. You'll have to try on your new uniform and complete the first part of your extensive training. I look forward to seeing you, Torquer."

"Likewise you, Julia. 9:30 it is then."

And the date is sealed. Saturday 13th October is when I start.

Monday, 24 September 2007

National Insurance

"And what exactly do you see yourself doing here at the museum?" Maureen asks with a snear.

"Erm, well since I am to be working at the Information desk and shop, relating to the customers and satisfying their needs will be the most important part of the job, be it informing them of an exhibition they may be interested in, or selling them a particular item in the museum shop," I reply perfectly naturally and unrehearsed.

"Ohh, satisfy my needs, Torquer," Julia smiles.

"Yes, well. What are your ambitions in life, your career path?" Maureen questions again.

"I am currently interested in engineering. My parents and step parents are all architects, but I see myself doing something a little bigger than house extensions and park pavilions, big stuff like bridges: civil engineering."

"I also prefer big stuff as well," Julia lingers for a moment.

"And what about your experience in the retail sector, tell us about that," Maureen ploughs on.

"I took my work experience in a cafe bar, serving drinks and clearing tables. I even did a few of my own drinks, like banana and coffee milkshakes, which the manager was pleased about."

"Mmm, bananas please me too," Julia's glance almost boils my cup of water.

"Right then, I think we have everything we want now," snaps Maureen.

"I want more..." Julia mumbles as she leaves the room.

"So, I think that finishes everything," says Maureen, heading for the door, "I've got to dash off to another meeting now. Julia will see you out."

"Er Torquer, can you bring your National Insurance card [bloody welfare state draining my wages], Passport [not a single stamp because the French and Italian immigration bastards can't be bothered to budge a finger] and Certificate of Qualifications please. I need to... to photocopy them," Julia's angelic voice calls from the stationary cupboard...

Monday, 17 September 2007

Acid Rain

The water is pelting steadily into my anxious face. Why didn't I bring an umbrella, or at least wear a cap to keep the acid rain out of my eyes?

I glance at the clock on the town hall: 8 minutes to go...

Deciding that it is now not too early to go in for your first job interview, I round the corner into sight of my destiny. Destiny as in weekend job for the next year and a bit. So not really destiny at all in fact. Nope. The oaf continues:

I have somehow managed to land myself a job interview at the local Museum. Striding up the main steps, I have to dodge hoards of tourist returning to their cramped, smelly and dangerously seat belt lacking coaches. How I pitied the fools.

Now however, I wish they would pity me. I am staring straight into the barrel of an overloaded shot gun, with the museum manager idly stroking the trigger.

I swallow my spit and tears, and push forwards against the side entrance, the one leading to the offices of doom.

"Hullo, erm, I'm here for a job interview," I mumble at the security officer. I wished he would do a search and find some dangerous article on my person so he could escort me to the police and throw me in jail away from the dreaded interviewer... locked away... safe from harm.

"Ah yes, you must be Torquer. Please, take a seat," replies some anonymous bloke behind a desk with 'Bob' stamped onto a badge on his chest. What? How does he know my name? They must only be expecting one person for interview. Therefore, by the clever deduction of the Torquemeister, I must be the only person being interviewed - therefore no competition. I suppose I could have been the only boy here, but you never know, there are an awful lot of post-ops wandering around Liverpool these days to mess my careful deductions up.

So, I take a seat on the worn but ergonomically arranged seats in the waiting room. There are piles of leaflets for the museum's various attractions scattered tidily on the table in front of me. I do not bother to pick them up, I have already revised every damn exhibition there has been on for the past year: J Ensor, Belgian painter, died 1949, exhibition currently at the art gallery in Port Sunlight; P R Chang, Chinese sculptor, still alive, jewelery and sculptures currently on display at the museum.

"Your interviewers, will be down shortly," the security officer who ironically stole the 'Peter' badge off another tells me.

Shit! Two of them? Are women interviewers a good thing for my prospects? Professionally, bien sur. Are they old? Will they like a charming young man like myself - or do they hate all scouse teenagers?

Ping! The lift doors grind slowly open...


Monday, 10 September 2007

Nottingham Part 4: 'Sex! and How To Get Some'

Right, I promise this is the last post: you're probably bored stiff by now. Here goes:

After a twenty minute wait after boarding the Transpennine express (I'm sure the officials on the other platform told me it was leaving now!), my third train of the day crept away noiselessly.

I glanced around the table where I was sat and noticed: an ugly middle-aged woman reading an bold red coloured book entitled 'Sex! and How To Get Some', a young male goth stabbing himself with a set of keys, and a smartly attired yet bearded business man sitting next to me reading the Financial Times. There was a piece of tuna on his stubble.

Not bothering not get out my copy of Northern Lights, I read the back page of the FT instead.

After a sweltering half-hour journey (did I mention it was hot?), we (me and my invisible friend Wharton) arrived in Manchester Piccadily. What a magnificent Victorian station building - at least I think it was 'cos it was completely smeared in a thick layer of pigeon shit.

Now, I had to get to Manchester Oxford Road in order to get a slow train home to my local station. The only way I could do this was by getting the same Citylink service that I had been on already, which was now cancelled.

Eventually, after paying 60p just to take a Goddamn piss (the machine broke so I had to pay twice: strewth! 30p is still a rip off anyway: I am a good railways customer: I have a season pass!), I managed to locate a platform with a train about to depart to Barrow-in-Furnace. Where this desolate valley town is I have no idea, but it was calling at Oxford Road, so I was thankful for that and promised myself to visit it someday.

Only three minutes later (I could have walked to Oxford Road actually) I arrived in the repeatedly aforementioned place. As I was departing my fourth train of the day, The train I needed next was just leaving at exactly the same time on the next platform. I missed it by a window length, and instead sat down to sob slowly into my sleeve.

By now I was starving like Nick after lunch (i.e. still ravenous) and dumped my bags in a locker and progressed to the station cafe. Unfortunately, it was not quite as inspiring as those American truck stop cafes, more like a very narrow Little Chef, but without the nice food. The decor was dated, the ground was grubby and the staff smelt like seawater.

Not quite the sandwich that I purchased. Mine contained more plastic, and I'm not talking about the wrapper

I reluctantly paid £3.50 for a stale and short dated ham and tomato sandwich. To tell the truth it tasted bloody amazing!

The next local train to Mossley Hill was not due for a whole other hour! Ah, a bit of Torquer detective work was in order. I wrenched open my local timetable and found that if I got a local-local train to Warrington, I could get another local-local train on the Liverpool end of the line to see me home.

Slightly pleased with myself, considering all, I boarded the penultimate train of the day and relaxed into the cigarette stained and unpadded seats.

I jumped off at Warrington and clutched my belongings tightly. This is not the place for an intrepid travelled at half past eight at night.

Finally, the final train arrived on time and perfectly positioned for myself to board through the leading side doors. It seems that the slowest, oldest and least-frequent services of the lot are always the most reliable.

After a brisk but awkward walk up the hill to me house (no buses for another 47 minutes dammit!), I collapsed over the familiar threshold and face first into the door mat. Tasted like old people.

My mothers' kind and friendly face beamed down and I was wrenched into the kitchen to explain why I was late: "I missed the train, OK, its all my fault," I lied, unwilling to begin my story for fatigue.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Uncompulsory Education

Another new journal has just opened in my life today. Tuesday 4th September 2007 is when Torquer starts his uncompulsory education. I am now enrolled in Sixth Form college barely 12 days after receiving my blindingly good GCSE results.

As of the last five years, I am still at an 'undisclosed secondary education facility in Liverpool'. Original readers of this blog (high five!) will probably already know more about me than my own father (doesn't live with me, right) through these web-based literary chronicles. I have mentioned the name of my secondary school multiple times before.

I believe Jingo still wants to keep up the whole charade of secrecy, despite giving away so many details about his life that one could probably narrow down the list of potential suspects to about 5. Given this chosen blogger name, the list can probably be cut to just himself.

Anyhoo, back to my first day in Sixth Form. And what a difference a bit of yellow braiding around the lapel on your blazer makes. This ever so slightly different Year 12/13 uniform gives you access to many new and undiscovered depths of the school: the common room, the study rooms, clean toilets, and well, thats about it really.

The other advantage is that all Sixth Formers can jump any dinner/morning break queue and grab their meal/snack almost immediately. However, the food has not changed at all apart from going up in price at double the current inflation rate.

So many new faces, so many differnet coloured ring binder folders...

Today was wholly an induction day where we received our annual timetables, various useless pieces of paper and booklets explaining what we have been told already - just incase we forgot. For me it was a pointless waste of wood pulp. Perhaps it is more applicable to people such as Jingo, who can't even remember what year it is.

First up was a General Studies induction. This was where one of the teachers (who vaguely resembles me) has pulled a short straw and now has to try and defend 'The Fourth A-Level' in a room full of largely capable students.

Then, we went to the Economics room where our year head told us about 'revision techniques'.

During the lunch hour and five minutes, the 'crew' (Nick [constantly hungry], Robin [grease bucket hair], Pasky [Mark Watson with a beard], Peter [curly beard on top of his head], David [maths freak], Richard [language freak - bullied me in second year] and myself) trekked down to Sayers for a quick sandwich or pasty. Jingo tagged along searching for attention. We then returned for the final part of the day and lengthy meeting with Sixth Form head to discus ground rules (complete with copious paper handouts).

Finally we went to the IT rooms with our new form (a few new faces, a few pretty faces, a few blue faces and a few ugly faces) to set up our personal network drives. Bastards: they have erased all my stuff from last year. Still, I suppose it doesn't take that long to download a fresh batch of porn

Monday, 3 September 2007

Nottingham Part 3 and 3/4: Chesterfield

It is begun: the final installment in this trilogy of four, amended to three and then extended back to four again.

The Citylink service ground into Chesterfield station two hours late. I was starting to get a little bit peckish now. The conductor's sacked voice came over the intercom one final time: "We have now arrived in Chesterfield. One again I am sorry for the delay. I am...cough...also very sorry to inform you that this service will terminate at Sheffield, the next station stop along this line. Passengers wishing to travel to Manchester and beyond should board a Pennine express service to Manchester Piccadily. Passengers can get connections from there and local trains onwards to their destinations. Those wishing to travel to Stockport...err...I have no idea what your gonna do, it by ear."

"Groan!" groaned all the Stockport-bound passengers.

"Horray!" horrayed everyone else.

So after arriving in Sheffield a matter of a quarter of an hour later, the moment the doors opened, we were confronted by about a dozen railway officials waving clipboards and shouting: "Come on! Platform 4! Train for Manchester Piccadily leaving now! Move it, move it!" like those angry army-type bastards.

Shrieks of near-terror then issued from the train as people spilled out over and under me, whacking me with large bags containing dangerous and heavy articles (it felt).

I gathered my bearings and started moving quickly. Thats the last time I carry small metal balls in my outer pockets.

"Manchester Oxford Road?!" I questioned and exclaimed at a guard standing outside my next train.

"Piccadily only," he replied with an air of pride, like he would not have anything to do with the badly designed and decaying shit dump that is Manchester Oxford Road station.

"Fuck it," I thought silently - at least I hope I did - and leaped up the step and onto a sweltering and crowded rush-hour train.

[Whoops, looks like it will have to be FIVE posts to explain this. Think that's a lot? I've boarded more trains in a single day yano...]

Monday, 27 August 2007

Les Bonnes Resultats

Precisely a year (give or take a few days) after gaining my first two GCSEs in French and Mathematics at Grade A* (up yours, A-grade suckers), the time has finally come around again to take collect the results of the remaining 8 GCSE results, the exams of which I took this summer. To hear (see surely?) my report on the exams themselves, see Hell on Paper.

Unfortunately, gaining a qualification in French a year before most other would-be continentals, all traces of the French language have all but escaped me. It took me about 4 minutes to come up with the title of this post, and I still think it's spelled wrong.

My maths knowledge has still remained inside my hollow head. Doing an Additional Maths course over the past academic year has kept it fresh as a tender spring shoot, and obviously, due to the A-level style rigors of the Add Math course, it has been topped up and refined. Out with the indices, in with the binomials. Shit, I think you need the first to do the later.

Perhaps that would explain why I only got a B in Additional Maths. Whoop! Joy! General frolicking noises!

Our good old greasy-haired friend Robin was literally jumping for joy at his 'C' grade pass in History

Seriously! A grade 'B' in Add Maths is the best thing to me since inventing sliced bread. I was seriously thinking that I had failed and would be lucky to scrape a grade 'C' pass. If I managed to get this kind of grade from stumbling blindly through the paper and just hoping integration would suffice each time, everyone else must have just written fucking poetry on their papers!

As well as this subsidiary qualification, I also took Short Course Citizenship. Yeah, I know what you're doing, something along the lines of snorting hysterically into your left arm. If you are using your right, switch now please. Well, I managed to manage another A* in this as well. Wasn't really expecting anything less however; I secured full marks on the first draught of my coursework which was based on picking up other people's crap in a damp park each month.

And now we move to the serious stuff, the real deal, the foundations of my future success (failures?). In order of randomness, actually make that alphabetical, these are my results:

BIOLOGY: A* (a*)






ICT: A* (a*)

PHYSICS: A* (a*)

Whoop! Joy! Specially elated frolicking noises! An 'effing clean sweep, royal flush, full monty, bag of bananas, 24 carat gold, whitewash, total obliteration, real McCoy, these are startin' not to make sense anymore! But I don't really care 'cos I'm damn bloody clevererer than a lot of wannabe smart ass kids these days. Breath.

So that concludes my compulsory education at the sorry establishment that is the place that I go to school at which I don't wish to reveal for security purposes. More diligent readers will probably be aware of all the details of my life that I have accidentally let slip over the past year of blogging. Good for you, I say.

And now, the next chapter of Adrian Torquer: the Frappuchino Years will chronicle my college education at, darn it, the same damn place I have been going to for the past five years. It may have the administrational and organisational abilities of a small blind rodent, but the A-level results are pretty darn decent.

Friday, 17 August 2007

Nottingham Part 3: Slack-Jawed Yokles

So here it is, Merry Christmas. Or so it would have been if it was actually Christmas and all had gone to plan. Which it didn't of course, as I am involved and I travelled on a train.

After spending the previous week drowning in fabric softener and trying to stop my grandmother from pointlessly ironing my underpants, I was glad to be heading back to a loving, caring, peaceful family back here in Liverpoolland. Unfortunately, I woke up to the truth after scoffing a large bowl of Weetabix. It was the size of a bucket but I still had my usual two biscuits.

Now, after having my fill of "100% whole grain wheat and absofuckinglutely nothing else OK", I headed off for the train station in Nottingham, following closely by my amiable grandfather. In actual fact he was beside me, but there you go.

Unsurprisingly however, the train did not go. Instead, after boarding a couple of minutes before launch, an announcement rang through the carriages:

"Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your conductor speaking. I am sorry to inform you that this train is unsuitable for travel as there are no working toilets on board. Please exit the train and wait for the replacement service that will depart shortly from platform 5B, directly behind this unit. I am also sorry to inform that I have just been sacked."

Central Trains trains are predominantly at a standstill, like this one which actually clearly isn't

Sighing with my indifference to the conductor's current employment status, but also with my anger at Central Trains for screwing up yet another bleedin' "Citylink" service, I de-boarded, if that is the correct expression, the first train and duly waited orderly for the next.

Unfortunately, a large family of slack-jawed yokels decided to allow their deranged and overweight children play 'tag' on the platform. This mainly involved trying to 'tag' each other hard enough so as to push the 'tagged' into the path of an approaching express train. One of the fatter ones almost became multiple portions of steak and kidney and brain pie, but his father somehow managed to drop his jaw in the way and the baby elephant was saved.

Now that I had boarded the second train of the day, we proceeded rather slowly along the Liverpool-Norwich line. After about fifteen minutes smooth running, the train came to a stop. A short five minutes wait later and we were on our way again. But then it happened again: ten minutes later we stopped again, this time for about 20 minutes. And so it continued. A short five minutes journey followed by an almost half-hour wait in the middle of no where.

To make matters worse, my iPod battery ran out of juice in the middle of 'Near Wild Heaven' by REM. Shit. This is gonna be one long hell of a journey.

After having apologetic announcement after apologetic announcement repeated at regular intervals, I started to wonder why the conductor was still bothering when no-one was actually paying him anymore.

Unfortunately this was not any of the six trains that I boarded that day

Finally, we arrived in Chesterfield: the cultural epicentre of Europe. Although I have never had the privilege of visiting Chesterfield (thank God!) I was relieved to get there, TWO HOURS LATE. And we had only reached the first station...

[OK fair enough, cramming seven hours into one post is downright impossible, especially given your attention span. To be continued sometime in the future]