22 Dec, 2011 @ 19:00
4 mins read

The nightmare before Christmas

By Craig Scott

WATCHING your life flash before your eyes, is rarely a pleasurable experience.  Like when a doctor tells you “it’s serious” – and to cancel that summer trip to Miami.

Or, when the same anguished quack tells Sharon she’s barren, Jess she’s got IBS, or Sean – that his sperm count is lower than the ugly one from Little Mix’s self-esteem!

For me, one of these soul-destroying events occured on December 17, when our laptop snuffed it during Saturday Kitchen. “What?????” I hear you cry. “He’s likening a trivial computer crisis to Our Neil firing blanks?” But please, bear with me on this. Of course, I realise that losing a laptop – to “chronic fan failure”, isn’t as shattering as say – catching Elephant Disease or losing a testicle.

However, try explaining this to a hysterical wife – who’s just seen 200 teaching reports slip away in your arms. Like a PC paramedic, I attempted CPR on the battery pack – but it was no good… it had flatlined during the ‘Omelette Challenge’.

Wailing like a banshee

With mad, morning hair and wearing nothing but a red, silk negligee – she spiralled around the house, wailing like a banshee. After a while of this, I didn’t know if she was devastated or doing a Kate Bush impression!

For me, the passing was untimely – but in all truthfulness – a blessing in disguise. The fan was knackered, the ‘D’ key was missing, and the power leads were held in by a manky bit of masking tape. Indeed, like a demented Kent teenager I’d often considered lobbing it off a motorway bridge. However, after watching the BBC News recently, I now realise that concrete slabs work best ;)

Still, whatever it was (or wasn’t), it was ours, and it never let you down when you needed numbers for a late-night pizzas or pictures of boobs.

Thankfully, most of the reports had been backed-up on memory sticks. Nevertheless, in order to finish them all – and in time for Monday’s “un-missible” deadline, we needed a new laptop… “Este Segundo”!

Spain – a concrete jungle?

We hopped in the car and whacked Wordens into the sat-nav. Upon arrival, I noticed that the store was situated on a complex, very similar to one of those bland retail parks that litter modern Britain. Some folks oppose these ‘concrete jungles’, and deem them further proof of Spain’s increasing “Americanisation.” They’re probably right, but personally, I’m too busy scoffing Big Macs and watching Nitro to give it much thought.

Anyway, we entered the store and immediately caught the security guard’s attention. Was it was my five o’clock shadow or NY baseball cap? Or perhaps it was the frenzied look in my missus’ eyes. Whatever it was, his primal instincts had judged us as ‘wrong uns’. Everywhere we went – he followed – like a horny dog trails a slender leg. Fortunately, we managed to lose the hairy git down the male grooming aisle (he got distracted by a “two-for-one” offer on ‘Just For Men’.)

Penguin fury

The laptops were swish – but way too pricey. “You’ll have to negotiate” Babooska chipped in. This was bad news. Like penalty shoot outs and Eurovision Song Contests – we British are lousy at bartering. We’re not like Turks or Moroccans – who will happily haggle over anything – from a sheepskin rug to your six-year-old daughter’s hand in marriage! Then there’s muggins here, who gets guilt-pangs asking for BBQ sauce in McDonalds Drive-Thrus!

This said, I do have one successful barter under my belt – an acquisition of a free toy penguin from Burnley WH Smiths. It was Christmas ’08, and I’d just purchased a book for £25. However, when I handed the cashier a voucher, saying: ‘Free penguin with every £20 spent’, she looked at me like I’d just given her herpes. While she tried to fob me off with some devious lie – I noticed there were hardly any penguins left behind the counter.

I don’t know what came over me, but I suddenly said, in my sternest, lecturer’s voice – “Madam, I am not leaving this store, until I receive a stuffed penguin.” (Now there’s something I never thought I’d say!) Immediately assuming I was some kind of nutter – probably laced with explosives – the manager said: “Sandra, just give him a penguin,” at which point two or three people in the queue began to clap. With ‘Pingu’ tucked under my arm, I marched out of the store triumphantly – like Neville Chamberlain. For once in my life, I’d taken on ‘the man’ – and reigned supreme.

A month later, however, I was slung out of Comet after telling them I wasn’t going anywhere without a Bosch Waffle Maker. Oh well – win some, lose some!

Quick – fetch the Pata Negra!

Like Comet , Wordens don’t do deals. When I cheekily requested a reduction – or at least a jazzy bag thrown in, the assistant gasped “Madre Mia” and collapsed. In the end – his supervisor had to come out and waft pata negra under his nostrils. What a sight! “Sod it”, I said: “let’s just pay and get the hell out of here.”

With our Christmas money spent, the bottom of the tree looks barer than an anorexic’s pantry. Still – like the great John Lennon once wrote: “Life is what happens  – while you’re busy making other plans.” Then again, he also talked of ‘plasticine piers’ and ‘glass onions’….. so I don’t know what to believe!

What I do know, however, is that my wife’s reports have been finished and submitted, and we still have enough dosh to see Marcus Collins (the X Factor finalist) strutting his stuff. By only charging £30 for a cut, colour and blow dry –  he’s obviously not forgotten his ‘roots’.

Despite being skint and present-less, I’m overjoyed with our new laptop – or –“Carlos”, as I like to call him. Yep, with 4GB of storage and sleek, ivory exterior – he’s been welcomed into the Scott residence like a newborn Xmas baby. Not that I’m likening a PC to Jesus or anything – somehow, I can’t see it walking on water, or rubbing Nivea into a leper’s scabby back.

What it can do, however, is enable me to spend Christmas day with my family – some 1700 miles away (via Skype) – which to me, affords it God-like status.

Happy Christmas folks!


  1. Well spotted Poirot! The mulled wine must be taking its toll. However, you´ve got me thinking now. Maybe there´s a niche market here. One where electricals and liverwurst combine. You could call it ´Cold Cuts & Laptops´, or ´Microchips and Deli Dips´. Are you a meat-lover Fred? I imagine you´re the type that enjoys a good, earthy sausage. P.S. Good to have you back old bean, it´s not been the same without you ;)

  2. I became a veggie some years back; it is widely documented in the blogosphere.

    Oh and make this thing called a “backup” next time. They didn’t teach you much at the BBC did they ;)

  3. Haha – YAWN! I can´t say I´m familiar with your “work” Fred. Tell me – which world-famous corporations have you represented? ´Moaning Stone´ magazine, or perhaps ´The New York Whines”.

    I never had you down as a carrot-muncher though. After all, you´ve posted a staggering 1,498 rants on this website? Wow…where did you get the protein???? Seriously, you must have choked on your bean burrito when they banned you from posting. Did you get withdrawal symptoms? How did you fill those lonely hours. Especially in a country you seem to detest. Poor, poor lamb :(

  4. Lonely hours? I didn’t post at 2AM, unlike you. lol.

    The problem with you Craig is that you sing from a different hymn sheet every time you write something lol. If I read your column in the current paper version of the OP you said that you wanted replies and a response from the reader, no matter what the comments, and yet now you are back to the old Fred is moaning/ranting chestnut again (that really is Yawn). You must loosen up Craig.

    Btw, the ‘Fred is lonely and desperate’ line has been (over)used so many times on here. I’m spending Nochebuena with a Spanish family – I am at the pinnacle of Spanish integration. Enjoy.

  5. 1,499….and counting!!!!! Keep reading the column Fred – like I said – it´s good to have you back (in a weird, sadomasochistic type of way!!) ¡Feliz Navidad old boy! I hope you enjoy your “free” nut-roast dinner :)

  6. Nut roast? Langostinos con Salsa Rosa is the order of the day here, amongst other things marisco. Have you got your Iceland Frozen Turkey yet, Craig? You know you love it ;-)

  7. Yeah…guilty, haha. Along with my roast spuds, hoisin duck skewers and Chocaberry meltdown!! I guess you can take the lad out of Lancashire, but not the other way round, lol. Enjoy your Langostinos & Salsa – that sounds lip-smacking. We´re having those tonight – along with cocktails and karaoke. Sorry neighbours! :0

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Previous Story

Money certainly grows on trees in isolated Spanish region of Monegros, which lands 700million El Gordo windfall

Next Story

Europe to follow UK in banning ‘rip off’ credit card fees

Latest from Craig Scott: Mad Dogs and Englishmen

Mad Dog vs Horny Devil

En route to his pal’s wedding, Craig Scott stops off at Valencia to investigate bizarre street scrawls and misbehaving monks. Good heavens!

Highway to hell?

Craig Scott puts his life at the mercy of a stranger while en-route to a job interview
Go toTop

More From The Olive Press

Keep calm and make a stew!

From Tupac lentils to footballing fairies - it can only

A groovy kind of love

From supermarket stalking to swinging with The Krankies - here's