The JCB song by Nizlopi

Heard this on the radio the other day and remembered what a lovely little song and video it was.

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The funniest complaint letter ever

I have only flown with Virgin once and i was fortunate enough to be upgraded to Upper Class. This of course made my flight experience very enjoyable. Clearly, the guy who wrote this letter didn’t have such a happy time. I read this today and cried with laughter for about 5 minutes.

Dear Mr Branson

REF: Mumbai to Heathrow 7th December 2008 Flying Club number obscured

I love the Virgin brand, I really do which is why I continue to use it despite a series of unfortunate incidents over the last few years. This latest incident takes the biscuit. Ironically, by the end of the flight I would have gladly paid over a thousand rupees for a single biscuit following the culinary journey of hell I was subjected to at the hands of your corporation.

Look at this Richard. Just look at it:

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I imagine the same questions are racing through your brilliant mind as were racing through mine on that fateful day. What is this? Why have I been given it? What have I done to deserve this? And, Which one is the starter, which one is the desert? You don’t get to a position like yours Richard with anything less than a generous sprinkling of observational power so I KNOW you will have spotted the tomato next to the two yellow shafts of sponge on the left. Yes, it’s next to the sponge shaft without the green paste. That’s got to be the clue hasn’t it. No sane person would serve a desert with a tomato would they. Well answer me this Richard, what sort of animal would serve a desert with peas in:

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I know it looks like a baaji but it’s in custard Richard, custard. It must be the pudding. Well you’ll be fascinated to hear that it wasn’t custard. It was a sour gel with a clear oil on top. It’s only redeeming feature was that it managed to be so alien to my palette that it took away the taste of the curry emanating from our miscellaneous central cuboid of beige matter. Perhaps the meal on the left might be the desert after all.

Anyway, this is all irrelevant at the moment. I was raised strictly but neatly by my parents and if they knew I had started desert before the main course, a sponge shaft would be the least of my worries. So lets peel back the tin-foil on the main dish and see what’s on offer.

I’ll try and explain how this felt. Imagine being a twelve year old boy Richard. Now imagine it’s Christmas morning and you’re sat their with your final present to open. It’s a big one, and you know what it is. It’s that Goodmans stereo you picked out the catalogue and wrote to Santa about. Only you open the present and it’s not in there. It’s your hamster Richard. It’s your hamster in the box and it’s not breathing. That’s how I felt when I peeled back the foil and saw this:

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Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking it’s more of that Baaji custard. I admit I thought the same too, but no. It’s mustard Richard. MUSTARD. More mustard than any man could consume in a month. On the left we have a piece of broccoli and some peppers in a brown glue-like oil and on the right the chef had prepared some mashed potato. The potato masher had obviously broken and so it was decided the next best thing would be to pass the potatoes through the digestive tract of a bird. Once it was regurgitated it was clearly then blended and mixed with a bit of mustard. Everybody likes a bit of mustard Richard.

By now I was actually starting to feel a little hypoglycaemic. I needed a sugar hit. Luckily there was a small cookie provided. It had caught my eye earlier due to it’s baffling presentation:

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It appears to be in an evidence bag from the scene of a crime. A CRIME AGAINST BLOODY COOKING. Either that or some sort of back-street underground cookie, purchased off a gun-toting maniac high on his own supply of yeast. You certainly wouldn’t want to be caught carrying one of these through customs. Imagine biting into a piece of brass Richard. That would be softer on the teeth than the specimen above.

I was exhausted. All I wanted to do was relax but obviously I had to sit with that mess in front of me for half an hour. I swear the sponge shafts moved at one point. Once cleared. I decided to relax with a bit of your world-famous onboard entertainment. I switched it on:

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I apologise for the quality of the photo, it’s just it was incredibly hard to capture Boris Johnson’s face through the flickering white lines running up and down the screen. Perhaps it would be better on another channel:

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Is that Ray Liotta? A question I found myself asking over and over again throughout the gruelling half-hour I attempted to watch the film like this. After that I switched off. I’d had enough. I was the hungriest I’d been in my adult life and I had a splitting headache from squinting at a crackling screen.

My only option was to simply stare at the seat in front and wait for either food, or sleep. Neither came for an incredibly long time. But when it did it surpassed my wildest expectations:

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Yes! It’s another crime-scene cookie. Only this time you dunk it in the white stuff. Richard…. What is that white stuff? It looked like it was going to be yoghurt. It finally dawned on me what it was after staring at it. It was a mixture between the Baaji custard and the Mustard sauce. It reminded me of my first week at university. I had overheard that you could make a drink by mixing vodka and refreshers. I lied to my new friends and told them I’d done it loads of times. When I attempted to make the drink in a big bowl it formed a cheese Richard, a cheese. That cheese looked a lot like your baaji-mustard.

So that was that Richard. I didn’t eat a bloody thing. My only question is: How can you live like this? I can’t imagine what dinner round your house is like, it must be like something out of a nature documentary.

As I said at the start I love your brand, I really do. It’s just a shame such a simple thing could bring it crashing to it’s knees and begging for sustenance.

Hanging with the T’s.

Christmas and New Year was great as I had the pleasure of spending it with the Turrigianos. I spent the first week in Phoenix with Matt and Becca and then a week in New York with Mike and Char.

I had a hilarious journey to Phoenix where everything that could go wrong and/or delayed happened. We were an hour late taking off from Bristol due to fog and then 40 mins late leaving Newark to go to Phoenix. (I did have time for Jamba juice though which made the delay bearable).

The bags mysteriously took 2 hours to get off our plane at Phoenix and then I caught a shuttle bus that had to drop 6 other people off at different points around Phoenix before I got dropped off. The penultimate person who had to be dropped off then realised his wallet full of $500 was missing!

The driver suggested we could re-trace our entire route back to look for it but thankfully he found it eventually. I think I would have gone mental if I had to spend another hour driving around Phoenix. So that meant despite getting into Phoenix airport at 8.45pm I didn’t get to Matt and Becca’s house till 11.30pm!! Fortunately they had waited up for me…

It was a real blessing to spend Christmas with Matt and Becca and the boys and I felt like part of their family. It’s so exciting to see what God is doing with them in Phoenix and I feel massively encouraged having seen them in their new environment.

Even though I miss them heaps, I am happy that they are thriving and I know it was totally the right thing to stay with them. It has been a strong reminder from God about their value and input into my life. I love you guys!

It was great to see Matt doing his stuff while leading the Christmas services (all 5 of them!) and I enjoyed spending some time with the Phoenix Vineyard guys.

They are doing some cool compassion ministry stuff there and I even got to go out with one of their ministry teams on Christmas Eve and deliver food and drink to the emergency services personnel on duty over Christmas. We visited some Phoenix Fire Department stations , a police station, an ER room and an urgent care clinic. Everyone was really touched and thankful and we had some great conversations with people there about why we were doing it. I even got to go in a fire truck!

I also managed to keep myself fit over Christmas and Josh and I did some running and a couple of days of mountain biking on the trails near the house and although it was sunny it was very windy. I never though i would say i have felt cold in a desert, but I did! I can now add America to the number of countries that I have been mountain biking in.

Riding around was just like being in the set of a Western! The scenery was magnificent and I kept expecting cowboys and Indians to come round the corner…or have a stagecoach shoot past me…but sadly it never happened.

I was sad when I had to leave for New York but the flight out of Phoenix was awesome and I got to see quite a lot of America during the flight!

As we moved closer to the east coast, we saw a huge weather front moving in and I suddenly had a feeling we may not be in for fun ride Because of strong winds and rain we had to circle over Cleveland for an hour (only marginally better than landing in Cleveland I imagine) and then they decided it was “safe” for us to land in Newark. I use the word “safe” because it was anything but!

As we came into land, suffice to say there was still a fair bit of wind knocking around. I have had my share of landings/controlled crashes in Wellington but this was an epic. The fact that I was sat next to window above the wing and could see just how much flap the pilot was using on approach, didn’t help my confidence. I am rarely scared in planes but I am not ashamed to say this was one time I was extremely glad to land in one piece. As I exited the plane, the pilot came out of the cockpit and so I congratulated him on his landing. He thanked me and said “It was interesting wasn’t it?”. It was a beautifully understated comment…

As if the plane journey wasn’t enough, I then got a cab from Newark to Brooklyn. In theory this is a simple thing. However, once we got over the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, my cab driver wanted to know exactly where we were going…and I do mean exactly. As in not just the address but which streets to take to get there.

Call me old fashioned and traditional, but the last time I checked, it was the taxi driver’s responsibility to navigate to a destination; after all that is what he is getting paid for.

I pointed out that I wasn’t 100% sure how to get to Mike and Char’s place but he should know. He pointed out he was only a Newark (New Jersey) taxi driver and so didn’t know Brooklyn or New York! At this point I calmly suggested he shouldn’t pick up fares for New York then. After getting irate and swearing at me in French (I replied in French that I could understand) he shut up and we managed to get safely to Bay Ridge after I got directions from Char. Next time I will just bring a GPS and road map and save myself the hassle…

Anyway it was awesome to stay with Mike and Char (Matt’s parents). It was good to see some of the Brooklyn Vineyard gang I know and also see some more of Brooklyn; it’s a great place to explore, chat to people, and take pictures of the neighbourhood.

I also bravely managed a 5 mile run in -4c on New Year’s Day. I kept getting strange looks from people as i was wearing shorts but I can’t think why…

On the Friday Char and i went into Manhattan and it was snowing as we did some shopping on Prince St and 5Th Avenue and I felt very festive indeed. In my two vists to New York I had only ever been in summer, so it was great to be there in winter.

We also went to see the 75ft Christmas tree and the ice rink at the Rockefeller Centre but due to the cost and inordinately long line of people waiting to skate, I decided to give it a miss.

On the Friday night I took Mike and Char to dinner at Bogota Bistro on Park Slope. I can find enough superlatives to describe how good it was. I can only say that if you are in New York, you simply have to visit the place.

It was such a great time away over the festive season and one thing that was reinforced for me was that I always feel at home when I am with Vineyard people, wherever they are in the world. I am blessed to have ”family” in many different parts of the world and I am thank God for that.

(For more pictures see the My Photos link on the right )