The StirrerThe Stirrer

news that matters, campaigns that count

for Birmingham, the Black Country and beyond



Now here's something to complain about. The Stirrer's resident grumpy old man Laurence Inman is - just this once - in a good mood. Bah! I want my money back. (Well, I would if I paid him any).

The moaning season is over. Already, just in the last week, I have had a couple of what I call Shoe-Lace Moments.

This refers to that terrible feeling you sometimes have when you put your shoe on and feel the sharp point of something small, but irritating, under your heel.

‘Oh no!' you think. ‘It's a piece of grit! Now I'll have to take my shoe off and shake it out. Or, even worse, it could be in my sock and I'll have to take my sock off, turn it inside out, put it back on, all the time being careful not to tread on the floor in case I get another piece stuck to my sweaty foot!

'Why, WHY, did this have to happen ? On top of everything else! The colour on the telly is slightly too blue! The computer takes a second longer to warm up than it did last week! And now this!'

But then a thought occurs to you. ‘It's a long shot, but it might just work.' And you pull on the lace, and the end appears from inside the shoe, from under you heel! It was the little plastic thing on the end of the lace all the time!

You feel as light as air. The universe is not completely hostile. Life can be good. Birds still sing. The sun will always rise.

I had a similar moment in Harborne a couple of years ago.

Harborne is not really my favourite place, but one day I found myself stuck there too early for an appointment and had an hour to kill. I wandered down the High Street and found the most brilliant branch of Oxfam you've ever seen. It is like a dream-Oxfam. It only sells books. So I bought about fifty and set off wandering back up the street.

But wait; that was good, but it wasn't the Moment.

I heard a call of nature. Actually it was more like an insistent scream of nature. I absolutely had to go.

I don't like using pubs on these occasions. And people who run pubs hate it when you do. You should try entering a pub simply to use the bog in Central London and see what happens.

I was just thinking: Wouldn't it be marvellous if they still had those street-urinals, like in the old days, when I glanced to my left and there, as if it had materialised in answer to my thought, was just such a structure. It wasn't one of those old cast-iron ones, (which have all been bought up by Americans, apparently,) but it served its purpose.

I hope it's still there. If ever it is threatened by purse-lipped prats whittering about hygiene and the fact that only men can use it, I'll be the first to set up The Friends Of Harborne Bog (FOHB).

And then, this week, my washing machine packed up. It made a sort of harsh rattling noise, followed by no noise at all, (a silence which can only be described as ominous,) and continued to fill with water. However, no water came out, so when it was full to the top it stopped. And just sat there, full of water.

I called the Washing Machine Repair Centre on Pershore Road by dialling 472 2482.

I always use them because they have such a brilliant, no-nonsense name. Also, they never cheat me, even though they know I know nothing about washing machines. They never sell me insurance cover and then refuse to come out and fix their shoddy goods, like certain big computer superstores do.

They don't concoct insulting ‘cashback deals' which a six-year-old could see through, as all the mobile phone companies seem to be doing just now. If things go wrong you can speak to an actual person who is interested in keeping you as a customer.

Anyway, the bloke was too busy to come out, so he told me how to fix it myself.

He took me though the process step by step over the phone, explaining how the filter blade was probably clogged with something, and blow me it was! I took out a couple of 5p coins and one of my daughter's hair-grips and the thing worked perfectly.

Now that's a Shoe-Lace Moment!

And while I'm in such a good mood, if you're still car-dependent and need something doing to your metal overcoat quickly, cheaply and with no risk of being over-charged, call Mohammed on 449 7903.

I promise I have no commercial interest in either of these firms.

Leave a comment or raise new issues on The Stirrer message board.

©2006 The Stirrer