Wednesday, 19 February 2014

CRINGE: Diary of an 18 Year Old Loser #2 - A Conversation About Lesbians...


Saturday, October 15th 1994: Hideous day at work today. Hideous. I shitting hate ShitSave. Rather than stack shelves, I had to stack refrigerators today, which is just as dull, except colder. Also, I have strange compulsions to break delicate foodstuffs. I wonder if there a syndrome for this? I hope not. The last thing I need is a syndrome attached to me. This morning, the 'chilled' puddings took a bit of a hammering and I managed to successfully stick my finger through several yoghurt lids. Karl Marx would be proud. Although possibly not, if he was against waste: the yoghurts had to be chucked. During tea break, Mr Davies, my supervisor and a bit of a dwarf, it has to be said, called me boring. And why? Because when asked, I said that lesbians don't turn me on. (Note from the future: hardly a shock, thinking about it). He thinks lesbians are 'fucking brilliant' and says that he had several threesomes when he went to Ibiza. With lesbians. I highly suspect he is lying because, a) he kept stuttering when trying to recall details, b) It seems unlikely - what self respecting lesbian sleeps with a dwarf man? c) He has bad breath. If the penis doesn't put the lesbian off, the breath surely will. It could curdle milk. Mr Davies' fandom for all things homosexual is not all-inclusive though. While he raves (and spits a bit while he does so) about how brilliant lesbians are, he thinks that gay men are wrong. Wrong about what, he didn't elaborate, although it doesn't take a genius to work it out. Which is just as well. We were in the Kwiksave staff room. Which is a total fucking hovel, can I just say? I found myself zoning in on the overflowing ashtrays as everyone seemed to look at me for a response when he said this. Don't know why. (Note from the future: Oh, I think you do, young Johnny Red Pants!)

I spent the afternoon fingering more yoghurts. How's that for lesbianism, Mr Davies? Which means your shrinkage rate will go up. Which means, they'll sack you and you won't be able to afford to go on your lesbian holidays where all the lesbians aren't lesbians, but are really dwarf man and bad breath enthusiasts. I missed the bus home so walked over the River Leen, which always freaks me out. Not only is it covered in dog shit, but I'm completely convinced that I will get murdered, or someone I see will get murdered and I'll be wrongly convicted of the crime. There aren't any lesbians in prison. Which is just as well as I'm boring. I didn't get murdered. I made it home and watched Casualty and argued with Jim and Dad. Fascists. I bet they don't think lesbians are boring. Started thinking about uni today. Where shall I go? London sounds pretty appealing. It's probably not boring there. I used to love going on day trips to the capital when I was younger. Although I remember spewing up on the train once after drinking some feral orange juice. It tasted BAD. Poor Mam and Amber, they had to walk around all day with a kid covered in his own orange-coloured puke. It was a good day. Definitely not boring.

While I'm having a good moan, I'm not looking forward to school on Monday. Ian is still upset with me because I lost his membership form for the Madonna fan club. He thinks I've stolen it, which I haven't. I just lost it. I only wanted to read what it said. It's not like I'm going to join. That seems a bit militant. And also costly. And besides, I am still waiting for my Madonna mug to turn up. I sent off for it nine months ago. Dad told me that a fool and his money are soon parted. I called him a bald headed bastard, which seems to be making less of an impact. I shall have to come up with something else. I might call him a lesbian and see what happens.  

CRINGE: Diary of an 18 Year Old Loser #1

Some things seem like a good idea at the time. Drunk calling friends. Haircuts in the 1980s (mine was a rather delicious style called the pudding bowl). My CD collection. Painting the living room a shade of yellow entitled sweetcorn. Saying yes when you mean no. Saying no when you mean yes. Credit cards. Jaeger bombs. Drinking on a school night. Getting sacked after emailing your colleague and best chum and saying that the evil hag of a boss should just shut up and die. And yes, I'm guilty of ALL of that. 

You might also add to that list the following: keeping a diary and sorting out the loft. 

Unfortunately, the last two have collided SPECTACULARLY. With hilarious results. I have just chanced upon an A4 'jotter' (lovely word, that, jotter) full of my 18 year old musings. A quick flick through proves a few things. Firstly, as an 18 year old 'lad', I operated mainly as a 14 year old girl. Reading it back, I was a bit of a twat. Not cool at all. I was slightly supercilious (no change there), obsessed with Madonna (no change there) and.. well... I sigh and giggle simultaneously reading it...

Take the opening page, which has a LOVELY passport photo of me at the top. Seriously, the hair. I look like someone who should be on a pervert list. Why did no one stop me? Why didn't the barber refuse? I say barber - it was the same woman who did my Mam's hair and once made her look Gloria Hunniford after a fight with a Mr Whippy ice cream machine. Under the photo it says:

Hello. Good day. Whatever. My name is John. Please don't judge me because of my hair. It just grows like that. Maybe one day in the future, before they invent wheel-free cars and teleporting and big brothers who don't read your private things (Jim, if you're reading this, I know where your porn is hidden. Particularly like how you keep a toilet roll next to your stash. Nice. I just hope you've washed your hands before reading this. PS. Piss off this is PRIVATE!!!)... Where was I? Oh yes, optimistically hoping that a new dawn will bring hair that grows conventionally, and not just out in a direct line, irrespective of the gravitational pull or the New Moon. Sharon, who does my Mam's barnet, will often tug at clumps of my hair and shout, 'Innit tufty?' She once found it hilarious that her (cheap and nasty, possibly manufactured by Happy Shopper) clippers wouldn't cut into my hair. I sat there, looking like an embarrassed pervert as she howled with laughter and chipped away at my skull with clippers that refused to do their job. 'Ah need t'get sum shears on this tufty head, dun ah?' she hooted. A woman sitting next to me with curlers in her hair laughed, although I don't know how she dared: she had no teeth. Sharon may as well have gone for the shears option. I actually think that if she used plastic cutlery on my head (wouldn't put it past her), the end result would look the same. Pervert haircut, just shorter. No wonder I'm a virgin. Which is ridiculous. I am EIGHTEEN.

So here are a few things about me:

1. My name is John.

2. I have pervert hair - which my brother should've inherited, thinking about it. Sharon should really use her clippers / shears / plastic spoons on some of the women in Jim's ART magazines. Unruly bits to say the least. 

3. I go to Sixth Form. It's rubbish.

4. Sixth Form smells. And the Sixth Form 'Base' is depressing. It looks like a drop in centre for social misfits. Which is probably why I go there. It's okay though, I get to LEAVE in a few months. 

5. Things I like: Madonna (swoon!), eating, getting to leave Sixth Form. Actually when that day comes, I bet everyone cries and tells each other that they love each other and that they'll keep in touch when it's obvious that they won't. We'll all write nice things all over our shirts and promise to keep them forever. Yet, I give it two weeks before Mam has spotted this unused item and turns it into one of her Blue Peter dusters. Like she did to my favourite Madonna T-shirt. At least she didn't set my shoes on fire, like she did to our Amber. It wasn't that Amber had done anything wrong; Mam had just run out of fire-lighters, spotted Amber's shoes and chucked them on the stuttering pyre. Dad went mental. Apparently the shoes were 'plastic rammel from the market' which was highly toxic and likely to kill us all. We survived though. Hurrah. Unlike Amber's shoes.

6. As you've probably guessed, my family are made up of pyromaniacs, mental people and perverts. I would like to know which parent gave me this hair gene. Actually, Dad is a total slap head, so it must be Mam. Dad is still being off with me after we had an argument last night and I called him a bald headed bastard as soon as I was in running distance to the bathroom (which is the only room with a lock on the door.) In fairness to me, he is bald headed and he was being a bastard. I know he's my Dad but that does not make him KING OF EVERYTHING INCLUDING WHAT THOUGHTS I'M ALLOWED TO THINK.

7. Things I do: Er.. My A levels. I watch a lot of MTV at Matt's house in between lessons. We sometimes steal his Dad's whiskey and then fill it back up with water. I think we need to use a teabag though, as it's starting to look like vodka. I don't like vodka. It tastes like meths. It's a slippery slope from there: vodka - meths - hanging around the graveyard like a proper tramp, pervert hair all long and wild, possibly playing an instrument of some sort (triangle? Xylophone?) and hoping that a sympathetic public will toss me a few coins so that I can buy more meths. What a lovely vision of the future. What else do I do? Er, I work at a supermarket called Shitsave. It's actually called Kwiksave (that took some working out, huh?) but working there is shit. And the pay is shit. And the uniform is totally degrading. A shapeless burgundy tunic that wouldn't look out of place on a 1970s Kibbutz. It's like the woman in the uniform department got her hands on a shit load of old curtains, a knackered sewing machine and had what she thought was a brainwave. Well it wasn't a brainwave. It looks like I'm dressed in a dead person's mattered blood. What with that and the toilet brush hair... Pie Jesu, why have thou forsaken me? I also work at a pub / Working Man's Club at the weekends, which I like. The landlord and landlady are brilliant as are the people I work with. We have a right laugh and we're allowed to drink behind the bar. It's just a shame that 99% of the customers are twats. Oh, and there is a committee there too. Basically, I think it's an excuse for the regulars to get together and pretend that they're important. People who are on the committee think they're in the effing mafia. Refusal to comply with their demands is met with a shitty, 'BUT I'M ON THE COMMITTEE!' as though I'm going to hit the deck and give them ten. It's embarrassing. Get a fucking life, me duck. It's a working man's club where the beer is cheap and the jukebox makes you want to kill yourself. It's not Ten Downing Street. 

Every week, they have an 'act' on. The acts have clearly spent lots of time thinking up a name for themselves but it ends in disaster as the posters say that tonight's 'act' is DOUBLE TROUBLE or ACE OF SPADES or BLACK CRUSH or my own personal favourite, WENDY. Whoever it is, it's usually someone who purports to being a singer. I don't know what it is that they're doing on that stage, but it's not singing. It's like they're trying to communicate with the undead by making sounds that only dogs can hear. And why OH why, do they sing Day Dream Fucking Believer and Simply The Bastard Best every week? I'd throw ice cubes at them (look at me, ever the rebel), but as the PE teacher once said to me, I throw, 'like a spastic.' Give me a knife, Sir, and let me try aiming at you. Bet I'd hit the fucking target then.

8. Everyone is a twat today. Happy reading!

FIN.

Poor Geri Halliwell...

Well bugger me, my friends were right all along. My music taste is (largely) APPALLING... 

For the last two years, the vast majority of my 300+ CDs have slummed it in a series of former crisp boxes that reside truculently in the loft. You see, I'm pushed for personal space and whereas I used to think that shelves of CDs and DVDs once looked cool, I have come to the conclusion that it really doesn't. In fact, it looks awful. It looks like clutter and requires dusting and serves no fit purpose when you're me. Because if you were to randomly select a compact disc from my former Ikea-tastic 'Billy' CD units, you would have an 85% chance of finding that the CD case harboured the incorrect CD. So when a dangerous impulse to listen to, say, Abba, came upon me (happens frequently), I'd scramble to find the case only to find the Grease Soundtrack smugly looking back at me from the opened case. Disaster. 

Now and again, I'd have a Sunday afternoon epiphany and resolve to sort them all out, which would make things worse. I'd crack open the Blue Nun and go to work on matching them all up. Usually what would happen was the following: I'd stumble across a CD I'd not listened to in ages (such as the Vengaboys - and no, I'm not kidding) and then I'd have a wine-fuelled disco for one. This would continue for a good few hours until I'd lost sight of my mission, lost in a camp Eurobeat and lyrics that don't make much sense, but seem splendid at the time. Half pissed, I'd give it up as a bad job and just chuck them back, whence they came. Three CDs to a case, crammed in any which way. 

Fortunately, the introduction of an iTunes library into my life has streamlined things somewhat. I've got a (largely horrific) playlist for any occasion: dancey bits, gym bits, sexy bits, singy songs and even a playlist for when I want to lie in bed in the middle of the afternoon with the curtains drawn and slurp warm cider from a mug. Standard. I love my life. 

Like relics from a bygone era, my physical CDs have sat sulkily in boxes, untouched for years. On Sunday, I had another one of my epiphanies. Just sell the bleeding things! Get rid! Inspired by a fear of becoming a hoarding subject that Channel 5 might take an unhealthy interest in, I nipped out and got myself a box of wine (it was going to be a big job) and rolled my sleeves up. 

As I slaved away, it dawned on me that I've bought some shit music in my time. I really have. I'm trying to think of a childhood trauma that I can pin it on, but I'm scratching my head. How else can you explain Hear'Say's album? In fact, both of their albums. Yes, they had two of them. Thing is, I was in my mid twenties when I bought them. I even bought Kym Marsh's solo effort. SClub7's entire discography was sandwiched between Liberty X's. Gulp. Lady Gaga (or Lady Gargoyle, as my Dad thought she was called) and Ricky Martin get an honourable mention in the 'Can I have my money back HMV?' category, as does an inexplicable complication, possibly entitled Now That's What I Call A Load of Old Shit Vol 934! There was even a CD by someone called Ethel Merman. No, I've never heard of her, either. There exists a song, an abomination by by own standards, by a group called Vanilla, called No Way, No Way. It sounds that cheap that it would be hugely overpriced in Pound World. It goes, 'No way, no waaaay, monomonar! Don't get fresh wiv me!' It sounds like a load of drunk slags ruining karoke night. Needless to say I own it. (And secretly LOVE it). Want to see for yourself how bad it is? Click below...


You're welcome.

In my defence, there were some so-called 'cool' CDs in there too: I had CDs by The Beatles, Cold Play, Rufus Wainwright, Franz Ferdinand, Metallica, Nirvana, Snow Patrol and a few other bands comprising skinny white boys moaning about unintelligible shit whilst strumming their guitars, but let's face it, I never listened to them. People like Kylie won every time, although there's probably no good excuse for having three copies of Ms Minogue's Light Years album. Is there? Good album though! Your disco will ALWAYS need you. Good job too.

So anyway, I spent the rest of Sunday matching the case to the CD and slurping wine and dancing about like a loon. Loved it. It was like a last hurrah for the army of CDs as the following day I sold them all to musicMagpie. Which was a palaver. For every CD, I had to manually enter the barcode as the app that supposedly lets you scan them is about as much use as the Pope's bollocks. And they're called Magpie for a reason. You know how the bird in question is a thief? Well, some might argue that offering THIRTY PENCE for The Essential Barbara Streisand is tantamount to the grand theft. Pah! But seeing as though Babs' opus is now tucked away on my hard drive, it was either take the money or shove her back in the loft. I went for the wonga and the clear surfaces. It soon added up and in all fairness to musicMagpie, they took all of my guilty pleasures without fluttering a cyber wing. Westlife, Delta Goodrem, Atomic Kitten and the aforementioned Hear'Say and Vengaboys efforts. All gone. I will no longer be able to Spice Up My Life to the physical copy of the Spice Girls' second album, because I traded it for thirty new pence. But there was one slight hiccup. In the form of Geri Halliwell. I happily confess to owning her first two albums. They're BRILLIANT. Except musicMagpie disagree. As I entered the barcode to Schizophonic and fingered the enter button, a rather disparaging message flashed up: 'Golly! We really don't like that album! Try another one!' So I did. It turns out that they didn't like her second album, Scream If You Want To Go Faster. They took all my other tat in a heartbeat, but thumbed their beak at Geri. Poor cow. I bet Mel B is behind this skull-duggery. Doesn't matter anyhow, I'm happy to keep hold of Geri and have a party for one. No way, no way. Monomonarrr!

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Domestic Abuse...

'And every man that walks through that door, will be compared to you forever more...' (Madonna, Best Friend)

It's not that often that I think of my ex, but today, I was forced to confront some of his actions and it's left me reeling somewhat. 

As part of my 'professional development', I attended a course on domestic abuse. Prior to going, I had an idea of what domestic abuse was, but I never really considered myself to be a victim of it. And yet it turns out that I was. For two years. Don't misunderstand me: I realise that my relationship was toxic, damaging and dangerous, but - for whatever reason - I've never evaluated it in terms of domestic abuse. Domestic abuse isn't confined to race or income. And it's not confined to gender or sexuality. In fact, the social worker who led the course said that in her experience, the worst domestic abuse that she has dealt with has been between gay and lesbian couples. When she first said this, I felt defensive and wanted to challenge her, but she quickly answered the questions I wanted to ask: she didn't have statistical proof that this was the case and nor was she saying that same sex couples have a higher propensity of abuse - it's just something that she has encountered on a personal level. I still felt somewhat irked though, but as the course began, I realised that more than anything, she had hit a nerve.

I met my ex when I was vulnerable, although if you'd asked me if I thought that I was vulnerable at the time, I'd have laughed it off. Don't be ridiculous. Me? I'm all right. Nothing wrong with me. I have a great capacity to bounce back from negative situations, even if I do say so myself. Although looking back, I was probably mid-bounce when I met Gary, unknowingly looking for someone to catch me. And catch me he did. A few years earlier, I had lost my Mam and six months later, I got into a relationship with someone - let's call him Twat - who wasn't very nice. He wasn't spectacularly awful, although he could've treated me a lot better than he did. He didn't need to cheat on me, in front of me. When that went belly up, I had to confront a lot of things at the same time: Mam's death, the emotional fragmentation of my family, my sexuality and a bruised, fractured heart. Aged twenty four, I embarked on a two year celibacy stint. It wasn't planned. It just happened. I was too hurt by the actions of Twat to bother with anyone. Wounds needed licking. Mental barriers needed rebuilding and reinforcing. I resolved never to let anyone do that to me again.

And then I met Gary. 

It transpires that domestic abuse has five parts to it: psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional. It's rooted in control and coercion. Victims are often groomed. They don't realise it's happening until they're in the thick of it. It can be insidious in its nature. It certainly was with Gary. I scored five out of fucking five.

It's only now that I fully appreciate how badly I lost at the mind games he played. I suppose a marker of my ongoing vulnerability - and where I initially went wrong - was how quickly I self-disclosed my past to him. By revealing what had happened to me, I showed him my hand. I told him all that he needed to know. I told him about my Mam dying of cancer. He took my hand and looked me in the eye. He was welling up. He told me that he too had had cancer - testicular - but he'd beat it. I told him about Twat and he revealed that he was currently battling an ex who was seeking to rip him off to the tune of £40,000 - half the profits of the house sale that they had been forced to sell when they split up; a split that was caused by Gary catching his ex cheating. Immediately, I sympathised. I thought that we had a connection. We had been through very similar things - affected by similar circumstances. Or we would have, if he'd not lied. He never had cancer, I later found out. Nor did his ex rip him off. It was the other way around. And so a labyrinth of untruths were set place. Every day for two years, I believed things about Gary that simply weren't true. I wanted to believe him because I loved him. He told me everything I wanted and needed to hear. I had no reason to disbelieve him, although in retrospect,  my naivety disgusts me. For a long time, I blamed myself for falling for his bullshit. But I loved him. And like I just said, I had no reason to disbelieve him. I loved him and he loved me and he would never hurt me. 

But he did hurt me. Like the time we had a row because I wouldn't buy a round of drinks for him and a group of his friends who had spent all night excluding me from the round when it was their turn. I decided to go home and he announced to his friends that he had also had to go because there was nobody to buy him drinks if I was leaving. I didn't argue with him: I was too angry to talk. When we got home I went to the bedroom. I went to shut the door, but the open window caused it to slam: something I learned never to do. I learned that this was the wrong thing to do because as I went to take my jeans off, he burst into the room, picked up the lamp on the chest of drawers next to him and smashed it over my head. I fell onto the bed and as I rolled over, holding the back of my head, he jumped on top of me - all twenty five stones of him - and laid into me. He punched me, pulled at my hair and then bit my chest so hard that the teeth-mark shaped bruise lasted for four months. I have a lump where he did it. Scar tissue apparently. Whilst he hit me, I laid there, apologising to him and asking him to stop. I couldn't have hit him back because I loved him too much. Sounds pathetic, I know. He then smashed up the flat that I had just spent hundreds of pounds furnishing. But he was going to pay me back as soon as his money came through from his ex. 

So why didn't I leave him the following day? Nothing justifies that sort of behaviour, right? You wouldn't put up with that, would you? But when you're in that situation, it's not as clear cut. First off, I couldn't leave. Consider the context before writing me off as a mug. Shortly after meeting him, he had a dispute at work. He told me he was a D-Grade nurse (another lie, I later found out - he was a health care assistant) and after being unfairly harassed at work (another lie), he had lost his temper and walked out (a lie - he was sacked). The only problem was that with his job came his accommodation. And so he was faced with having to move back to his parents house, a seven bedroom house in Sunderland (a lie). He didn't want to go. I didn't want him to go. As he sat there sobbing, I came up with a plan: we would move in together. It seemed like the only solution.

There was a slight problem. My best friend who I lived with, hated him. Perpetrators of domestic abuse are experts at isolating their victim. They require control. Opponents - other loved ones, that is - have to go. Looking back at this, his control was taking effect. He sought to cause a rift between me and my best friend and he succeeded. I'm ashamed of that. And I'm still sorry about that to this day. My only defence is that I loved him. I really loved him. I could see no wrong. My best friend was having none of it, quite rightly, and she was not prepared to live with him. It was for the best: I dread to think what games he would've played had the three of us lived under the same roof. It would not have ended well. So we decided to move in together, elsewhere. The only problem was that he had no job and my name was already on the rent book of another house. He needed a guarantor but couldn't get one - his mum, the only person who could do it for him, was having trouble with the tax man (another lie). He asked if I knew anyone. I did: my other best friend, who hadn't met him, but had only heard good things about him, was prepared to do it for me. For us. So we moved in together. Gary's name was on the tenancy agreement, but my best friend was the guarantor. And that's why I couldn't leave. Because he failed spectacularly to even attempt to get a job. I was paying for everything. Rent, bills, food, drink, nights out (and he loved his nights out), the lot. If I left, I knew what would happen: he wouldn't be able to pay for anything. And my best friend would end up with a huge bill - something that I promised would never happen when he signed the tenancy agreement. Besides, where would I go? Becky, my best friend who I had been living with, had given up the house and had moved on. I had nowhere to go. And I was embarrassed. And I loved him. And I still believed in him. The violence wasn't that common, but it gradually increased. And we did have good times. He used to be able to make me howl with laughter. 

Without wanting to labour the point, I loved him. Those feelings overpowered every negative feeling and experience that I had. Like the time when I attempted to leave the flat one night. As I reversed out of the car park, he stood in front of my car, blocking my path whilst holding a breeze block above his head. He once took a knife to me. I can't even remember why. He kicked locked doors off their hinges. If I went out without him, he would text and call me constantly, relentlessly. He took to going out until all hours and when he got home, he would turn the main light on in the bedroom.It didn't matter that I had to go to work and be up at six. If I complained - which I did, he would go ballistic. He once came home with a bucket of greasy chicken and sat there slobbering over it. Before I could get up to go to bed, he - for no reason - threw a piece at me, which hit me straight in the face and ended up on the floor. Then, because it went on the floor, he decided he couldn't eat it and then went bat-shit crazy. Afterwards, he would be apologetic and would blame the drink, which I sadly accepted. He was in control. He knew what to say. Even when he threw a glass at me, which rebounded off my temple and then disintegrated as it hit the wall, I was able to minimise and justify it. I lost most of my friends for a while. He controlled where we went and eventually his embarrassing, pointlessly aggressive behaviour meant that he got barred from our local pub, which was the corner-stone of our social life. I became pretty isolated. In the end, I had him and him alone.

Another reason - probably the main reason by this point - that I couldn't leave, was financial. He was still waiting for the money to come through on the house that he had sold. Until it came through - he and his ex were having a rather long-winded legal battle - he was borrowing from me. Rather extensively. Exhaustively, actually. Not only was I trapped in the flat, he owed me and he owed me big. The flat was furnished on credit - all in my name. His credit rating was shot to pieces and he wasn't earning. Putting it on credit made it easier to keep track of his tab. Or so it seemed. When the money came through, he said he would simply pay it off. And yes, another lie. He bought a car, or rather, I bought him a car. I also put petrol in it weekly, taxed it and insured it. Although insuring it was literally money down the fucking drain as I later found out that he hadn't even passed his test, so if anything happened, they wouldn't have paid out anyway. I paid his half of the rent and all of the bills for the duration of our time living together. Everything he wanted, he got. And he wanted a lot of stuff. Clothes, holidays, very regular nights out, take outs and DVDs on his rare nights in, a 40" flat screen plasma TV, a top of the range computer, phone bills that you wouldn't believe. Two hundred pounds a month were common. He liked expensive furnishings. He had a catch phrase: 'only the best for me.' He would joke, 'what's yours is mine and what is mine is also mine.' Although, I thought he was joking. He meant it. If ever I queried whether he really needed his latest desire, he would sulk - he would sit and radiate negativity until I caved in. Which I did every time. 

By the time we finally split, I owed fifty thousand pounds thanks to him. Fifty fucking thousand pounds. I still sit and wonder how he managed it. I would press him about the money from the house and he said he would sort it. I would come home and as I walked through the door, he would be shouting into the phone. Ranting and raving. He would invariably slam the phone down and start cursing his ex. When he finally calmed down, he would tell me that he had been on the phone to his solicitor demanding to know what was happening about the house money. Then one day I came home and he told me that he needed to talk to me. He said that his money was coming through but he had to give it to his mum otherwise she was going to go to prison. I was aghast. It turned out that after his father had died, she had taken over his building firm. She had run the business into the ground and in doing so had fucked up the taxes. She lost her seven bedroom house and had to move into a two bedroom council house. If she didn't pay what she owed, she was going to prison. This, obviously, was utter fiction. She never owned a business, nor had she owned a house, seven bedroom or otherwise. And neither had Gary. He never owned the house with his ex. It was rented. So all along, he allowed me to borrow money, promising to pay it back when money that he knew didn't exist came through. 

About a year after we split up, I wrote to his mum and told him what he'd done, knowing that if there was one person he would listen to, it would be his mother. A few days later, I got a call on my mobile phone from a private number. I knew instinctively that it was him. I answered it and was met with a barrage of verbal abuse and threats. Who did I think I was? How dare I tell his mother such things? I told him that I wanted the money he owed me. By this point, I'd lost everything. I lost my house and everything in it. I had to apply for an IVA, a form of insolvency, in order to manage his debts. I was living in a damp bedsit and was working just to pay his debts off. As soon as my monthly outgoings were paid, his creditors took the rest. But because it was all in my name, the debt was mine and mine alone. I sought legal advice and was met with a shrug of the shoulders. He promised to pay me back at fifty quid a month. It didn't touch what I owed, what HE owed, but it was something. Of course, this was a lie. I didn't get anything from him. He also took this opportunity to tell me that he had recently tested HIV positive and also had hepatitis C. As though that made it all right. Again, he was lying. But again, he was controlling me. In the aftermath of splitting up, other people sought me out to find out whether or not things that he had said were true. He had told people that he was dying of brain cancer. He told people that his parents had been killed in the aftermath of the Boxing Day Tsunami. What sort of person does that?

Some of his lies - to me at least - served a purpose. With me, his aim was financial. Although some of what he said was ridiculous: he told me that he had been to America seven times in the year prior to us meeting. A lie. He had travelled the world. A lie. He told me his sister was his twin. A lie. She was several years younger. He told me he owned a jet ski. A lie. He told me that he spelt his name  G-A-R-R-Y and even had it tattooed down the inside of his forearm, but when I saw his passport and saw that it only had one R, he told me that he didn't like that way of spelling it and so had changed his name by deed poll from GARY to GARRY. A lie. Equally hilarious and tragic. And to think I believed him. I think he did it because he could. He toyed with me, just to see if I would believe him. He told me all sorts of shit. And I swallowed all of it. I was under his spell.

He ruined me financially. Even though we split up in June 2006, his debt legacy lives on for me and I'll finally be free of it in May next year - eight years after seeing him for the last time. He also damaged me emotionally. But I'm better now, although my bullshit detector is second to none. I used to think that people were my friend until they proved otherwise. These days it's different, which isn't a bad thing I suppose.

I don't often think about him these days, although today I feel as though I've had to confront our shared history and make sense of it. I made terrible choices. There were many dark days in the first few years of the split as I came to terms with the full extent of the lies that he told and the consequences for me. I have no idea where he might be now and what he might be doing and nor do I care. I believe in karma. That's enough.

And some good did eventually come of the relationship. During the ensuing depression, I went out and got hammered one night. Dangerously so. I ended up hospitalising myself: I was that drunk, I cartwheeled down two flights of concrete stairs at Leicester Square tube station, leaving me with a fractured arm, a dislocated shoulder and a gash in my chin that required stitches, I was signed off work for five weeks. And who came to my rescue when I was laying in a bed in a hospital in central London? Becky, my best friend who he sought to drive away.

It was my right arm that I fucked in the fall. I couldn't cook for myself. I couldn't drive. My arm was strapped to my chest, so walking was scary as my balance was off kilter. I could even wipe my arse properly. I needed sleeping tablets (marvellous invention) as the pain would keep me awake. The paramedics who stretchered me out of Leicester Square told me that I was lucky that I hadn't severely damaged myself. They had seen much worse from much less falls. I got some perspective. I jacked in my job in IT and went to Spain for six months, which was amazing. I met someone who I was with for four years, and although it ended, I don't look back in anger. Those four years were an achievement. It was a good relationship. And today, I'm in a job that I love in an entirely different sector and without wanting to sound arrogant, I think I'm pretty good at it. I have published two books. And I've fallen in love with an amazing bloke. We're made for each other. He would never do what Gary did. And I'm grateful for every day. I'm happy. I am where I want to be. And I'm not sure that would be the case if it wasn't for that experience. If it wasn't for Gary. Even though he was a complete cunt.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

My Life According to Google...

1: Type in "[your first name] NEEDS" in the Google search: 
JOHNNY NEEDS 13 BOTTLES OF WATER.
Do I? I'm all up for casual rehydration but 13 bottles of water seems a bit extreme. I'll be up all night wee-weeing. Can't you die by drinking too much water or is that an urban myth? I'd much prefer 13 bottles of San Miguel. Or wine. It's getting cold outside, which means red wine.13 bottles of the stuff. 13? Lucky for me.

2: Type in "[your first name] LOOKS LIKE" 
JOHNNY LOOKS LIKE YOUR PET.
Rude. I've taken some insults in my time, but never from a search engine. I'm told that I look like him out of Man V Food (also rude) and Peter Kay (rude and depressing, much as I love him.) 

3: Type in "[your first name] HATES" 
JOHNNY HATES JAZZ.
Somewhat true. I can't be doing with the messy and dischordant vocal gymnastics of someone going, 'dooobe dooobe do, skooodabip bolly booop cloofy ramadan-ading dong' whilst someone clatters about in the background as though they're taking a bad mood out on kitchen utensils. It's just noisy. And fucking awful.

4: Type in "[your first name] GOES" 
JOHNNY GOES NUTS.
Why? Is someone playing jazz? Pass me that wooden spoon and milk pan. I'm going in.

5: Type in "[your first name] LOVES" 
JOHNNY LOVES HIS DADDY.
That I do. And I'm not talking about my biological father. Although I do love him, in an entirely appropriate way.

6: Type in "[your first name] EATS" 
JOHNNY EATS A WHOLE RAW POTATO.
In all fairness. this coheres with my culinary prowess. Can't cook, won't cook. Will eat a whole raw potato. Think of the vitamin C.

7: Type in "[your first name] HAS" 
JOHNNY HAS A LONG MOUSTACHE.
Coming to a seventies porno near you. Probably. Das ist fantastiche bebe! Ich liebe mine Daddy, etc. *splat*

8: Type in "[your first name] WORKS" 
JOHNNY WORKS ON THE DOCKS.
Every boy loves a sailor. Don't they? Actually I don't. I once went on a sailing trip with school. We were taken by a teacher who looked like an alcoholic Captain Birds Eye and carried with him the whiff of mildew and second hand Benson and Hedges cigarettes. His entirely appropriate nick name was 'Fungi.' My bestie mate spent the week vomiting in the toilet whilst I peeled potatoes for dinner. Which I probably served whole and raw. Mmmm, delicious. Fungi was a bad tempered old fucker. He spent all day being moody (probably on account of being forced fed uncooked spuds) and would leave us unattended (we were 12) of an evening whilst he took the dinghy ashore and got pissed. Meanwhile, we found his secret stash of dark rum, which we drank and then replaced with black tea. That'll learn him, etc.

9: Type in"[your first name] LIVES" 
JOHNNY LIVES IN A PARKING LOT.
Come round and see me sometime. I've got lots of space. Bring a bottle. We'll make a fire and sing songs. Or make jazz records. 

10: Type in "[your first name] DIED" 
JOHNNY DIED AT CHRISTMAS.
Not surprising. It does my head in. All that hum-drum faux-pleasantry and binge drinking. It was probably that last sausage roll and game of charades that finished me off.

11: Type in "[your first name] DOES" 
JOHNNY DOES NOT LIVE HERE ANYMORE.
That's right, I moved to a lovely car park off the A41. I'm not a dogger. Honest. Like, woof.

12: Type in "[your first name] WILL" 
JOHNNY WILL HAVE A NEW MASTER.
And his name is DADDY. 

13: Type in "[your first name] CAN" 
JOHNNY CAN HEAR GARFIELD.
Which means I've either got Dr Doolittle tendencies or am slightly schizophrenic. Either way, please send the relevant drugs. And cat litter.

14. Type in "[your first name] PLAYS" 
JOHNNY PLAYS THE FIDDLE.
Beats jazz, I suppose. 

15. Type in "[your first name] DRIVES" 
JOHNNY DRIVES 16KM DIRECTLY WEST.
Because that's where my car park home is. Come on over to my place. Hey you, we're having a wimpy. Etc.

16. Type in "[your first name] FEELS" 
JOHNNY FEELS BETRAYED!
Has Daddy been cheating? The dirty old bastard! I'm leaving! I'll find a new fucking car park. That'll learn you. 

17. Type in "[your first name] SMELLS"
JOHNNY SMELLS GOOD.
Like, duh. I always smell lovely. I pride myself on it. Fresh and fragrant, people.

18. Type in "[your first name] IS"
JOHNNY IS THE BOY FOR ME.
Too late, Daddy. You had your chance. You blew it. 

19. Type in "[your first name] KILLS"
JOHNNY KILLS HIMSELF.
Obviously I took Daddy's cheating very hard. RIP. Hang on, didn't I just top myself at Chrimbo? Yo, ho, ho! *croak*

20. Type in "[your first name] SEES"
JOHNNY SEES GOD.
I saw her at Hyde Park last year on her MDNA tour. She was ever so good.:-) 

Memories of Summer...

September can be a cruel month, can't it? Summer decides to retire for the year, all three weeks of it. On top of that, it's the month when my age decides to inflate itself by a whole year. Unfair, I think you'll find. Although, if you want to help remedy my anguish, I am accepting donations to the facelift fund. Failing that, I like alcohol and things that smell nice. The ninth month also marks the end of my six week holiday and although I love my job, going back into school after six weeks of suiting myself, getting up when I feel like it and as much midweek drinking as you can handle (lots, thank you very much) can be a shock to the system. 

Invariably, the first assignment given out is a recount of the summer holidays. It's tradition. Much like presents at Christmas, cakes on your birthday, hangovers on a Sunday and howling like a rabid banshee at 6.30am on a Monday morning when the alarm goes off. So with that in mind...

WHAT I GOT UP DURING MY SIX WEEKS PISS UP HOLIDAY. 
By Johnny Red Pants (aged A LOT)

Oh, I had it all planned. I didn't want to fritter my summer away in random pubs, chipping away at my liver function with a casual disregard. I didn't want to regress to my teenage years, where I would stay in bed until noon and then spend the rest of the day in my pyjamas until it was time to go to the pub. Not this year. This year, I would get up at the crack (snigger) of dawn, take myself to the gym and then spend the rest of the day doing good deeds, thus investing in a sizeable portion of positive karmic payback. This all started rather marvellously until I did my knee in. And then my hip. And then my ankle. There was only one thing for it: go to the pub, where I had a rather great time. I still did good deeds: I would take my own glass to the bar once I'd finished, thus saving the glass-collectors legs and I probably single-handedly saved the pub from going under, as most of them seem to be doing. Well done me.

Towards the end of the holidays, it started to get a bit hum-drum, so I thought I'd have myself a little adventure. Initially I was going to go abroad, but a quick look at the prices, inflated about ten fold because of the school holidays, and I decided to think again. Instead, I looked at staying in the UK. Brighton in other words. After a quick mooch about the internet, I booked myself into a B&B that apparently boasted a  'DELUXE GARDEN VIEW ROOM' in the rather ostentatiously named, 'Old Palace Guest House.'

After dumping my case, I surveyed the room. I got the 'old' bit, but palatial it was not. Nor could the word 'deluxe' be applied in the truest sense of the word. Unless they're going for irony, in which case they're bang on the money, honey. Also, the garden view left something to be desired. A snatched glance through the window revealed a peculiar cement basement garden, approximately six square feet, that played host to a yellow table and a well used ashtray. It was the worker's smoking area. But you know what, it was clean enough (there was the reassuring smell of bleach wafting through, anyway) and the location was groovy, baby. The Brighton wheel was in spitting distance - not that I would spit, being a kind, socially conscious sort of bloke. Cheap and cheerful would best describe it. It was a change of scenery, so hip, hip and an almighty hurrah.  En-suite, wi-fi, a flat screen telly and the bed was comfy. Pleasing. Day one was spent kicking back, reading and watching the world go by. I sat and observed the patrons of Brighton while listening to snatches of conversation as they passed me by. I love that kind of thing. Or I did until a family plonked themselves down at the table next to me and I got stared at by their baby who had the face of a wizened old hamster. Endearing at first. Terrifying thereafter. But amusing throughout. 

Day two saw me take advantage of the breakfast part of the B&B experience. I'm not sure what was strangest: the breakfast itself or the conversation that surrounded it.

I pootled downstairs just before nine feeling rather fresh and smelling rather fragrant, even if I do say so myself. All but one table was occupied, so I sat my rump in the nearest available chair and thumbed through my book. The atmosphere was slightly muted, save for the odd grunt that I think was supposed to masquerade as a morning salutation. Next to me was the galley kitchen, approximately a metre and a bit wide and probably about three metres long. I counted nine people in there. Almost an orgy. I was bought a pot of (rather delicious, actually) coffee and was asked by the Lithuanian girl who served it if I wanted, 'Foolish breast fast.' Thick tits and make em snappy? What was she on about? In the end, I just did the age-old British thing of agreeing with a curious smile, not wanting to offend. Turns out she wanted to know if I wanted a FULL BREAKFAST.

Trading standards could have a right gay old time if they got wind of the erroneous offerings of this establishment. There was nothing FULL about it: ONE cherry tomato. HALF - yes, HALF - a grilled mushroom. And not a big fuck-off field mushroom, we're talking a NORMAL mushroom. A spoonful of beans. One egg. One rasher of bacon. One slice of toast. Still, what they gave me tasted pretty good and I told myself that my arteries are perhaps all the better for it. To be honest, it was enough. I'm just a greedy guts. A woman on the next table kept looking at me and smiling. It transpired that she was Irish, about 70 and of questionable mental health. This is her first time to Brighton. And do you know what her verdict is? 'Lovely, but where are the potatoes?' I wasn't quite sure that I'd heard her right, so I verbally begged her pardon and she repeated her concern about the lack of the potatoes. 'Chips, yes. Chips everywhere. Chips, chips, feckin' chips. Chips up to me tits. But I don't want chips. I want mash. Boiled. Baked. But no. All you've got is chips. Pissing chips.' I wasn't quite sure what to say, so I smiled and found myself grateful that my breakfast was rather meagre - I inhaled it, rose to my feet and swept out of the room like some rotund enigma in a bright yellow T-shirt. 

Later that day, I walked 20,000 steps according to my pedometer. I donned my iPod and set off with the wind in my hair and a song in my heart. First to the marina and back,then to Hove and back again. Then I went to the pier and had a couple of quid on the OXO bandit. My Mam always warned me of the perils of fruit machines. There will only ever be one winner, she warned. And it won't ever be you. Oh, ye of little faith, mother. I put in a pound and as my credit ran out, it looked as though her prophecy was correct. But then, with a cursory flick of my thumb and a steely gaze fixed on the screen, the universe conspired in my favour. I won my pound back. Triumph! Much excite and bum sweat. I was going to spend my winnings on an ice cream, but the DIRTY, EVIL, ROBBING bastards on the sea front wanted £4.99 for three scoops. No way hosepipe, etc. 

In life, there are winners (hurrah!) and losers (boo!) And on day three, I fell squarely into the former category. So much so, I almost felt the need to race up the town hall steps fisting the air whilst Eye of the Tiger provided a somewhat dated but entirely appropriate sonic backdrop. The key word in that last sentence is 'almost'. I chose not to as: a) I am clumsy and would've suffered a calamity resulting in the swift transfer from winner (hurrah!) to loser (boo!); b) I wasn't sure where the town hall was and whether it has steps; c) I couldn't be bothered. Besides I was planning on going out that evening and needed to preen. 

Let me tell you all about it. You see, all week I sensed that I win would something on the bandit. The prior day's break-even win of a single British pound only served to whet my appetite. As I mooched back towards my non-deluxe deluxe room (with non-garden garden view), I had the overwhelming feeling of unfinished business. Sitting idly on my bedside table was a collection of silver coins totalling about £1.30. I swiped them into my pocket and decided to do battle with my nemesis: the OXO machine sitting to the left as you enter the amusements on the pier. I laughed a wicked, evil laugh as I fed it my coins. Thirteen attempts later, it appeared that I was a loser (boo). Rejecting this outright, I fingered my wallet for more money. I deposited another pound into the chrome coin hole. I hit autoplay (which means, in OCD terms, that I don't have to press the rather scruffy buttons - playing these machines often gives you the same sensation as stroking a dog with a filthy coat. You don't know know where people put their hands, do you?) 

Wheels spun. Lights flashed. Combinations briefly presented themselves and then spun into a different combination. I watched pensively as my credit shrank, spin by spin. And then three Xs landed in a pound-winning flash. With a single quid in the bank, I was still 30p down. But not for long: within two spins, I had two Xs and a 0 but rather than spin again, I was offered a nudge. Three of them in fact, which was rather generous as I only needed two in order to double my winnings. With two spins left, it looked as though I would leave with a modest return. But no. The wheels spun and in an instant I was looking at the jackpot combination: BAR-BAR-BAR. The bank raced to £7.00. But it wasn't over. The machine's buttons simultaneously flashed. It offered me the chance to hold the combination. I did and I won again. After another spin, I squealed (a big, butch squeak, okay?) as the machine made a chugging noise and pumped my winnings at me. I was going to spend my winnings on a thumb ring, but the only design I liked looked like it might turn my thumb green and that would make me a loser (boo!) which I am not. I am a winner (hurrah!) So I had a cake instead. Double hurrah!

Then I went to the pub, got a bit tiddly and lived happily ever after until September came around and I sulked.

FIN.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Online Dating Decoded...

What he says he looks like...

You have to be careful when you attempt to date people via the internet. Since becoming single (yes, I'm still harping on about it, I'll get over it soon, I promise), I've extended my social circle via the web. There's Gaydar, there's Growlr, Scruff and Grindr (all of which are as beautiful as they sound). It's no secret that I'm a magnet for all things FREAKSHOW, so there has to be a systematic decoding of a profile before any interaction of any sort can take place. Colour me cynical (you wouldn't be the first) but it goes a little something like this:

What he really looks like...
1. The photo. Assume that the photo was taken ten years ago. Assume that it was flattering then. Assume that during this time, gravity has not been kind and that they have put on a stone for every year that has passed. Assume that the hair has vanished. Assume that they have either lost their teeth or neglected to brush them. To assume is not to make an ass out of you and me, it's simply good sense. Believe me. That way, when Tom Hardy's lookalike is nowhere to be seen, yet Sloth out of the Goonies approaches you wearing a shirt caked in egg, you won't be surprised. Or disappointed. If there is no photo, then do not respond. In fact, delete your account immediately and change your own identity. Same goes for if they have a photo with an obscured     face. It can't be good, can it? 

2. The finer details.
  • Age. When they say 29, double it or at least add a decade. Then add a few more years. Bingo! Hopefully, you're into Daddies. 
  • Looking for fun. Fun means a shag. That is ALL it means. You will be expected to put out. Do it. Get yours, etc. 
  • Preference: Bi. Yeah, yeah, we've all been there. Bi now, gay later, I geddit. Or they're married with kids. He'll never leave her, y'know. Ever.
  • Discreet / NSA. No strings attached? They've probably got a boyfriend, or possibly a wife. What they're looking for is a quick drink in a part of town where they won't be recognised, before going back to yours, having a shag, wiping their unmentionables on the curtain before giving you a fake number and running out of the door, leaving you to feel like Madonna in the Bad Girl video (ie. a self loathing slag.)
  • Rugby build = fat. Although I do this, so I can't really complain. In my defence, I do add that I have less of a six pack and more of a family pack, in the faintly tragic hope that a fit chubby chaser will take pity.
  • Cuddly. See above.
  • Bubbly. Fat and irritating. I too am perhaps best described as Bubbly. Tee! Hee! *blows raspberry*
  • Straight Acting. Frowns a lot whilst ordering pints. Secret obsessive Kylie loon. Will invariably refer to you in any messages as 'fella' or 'm8'.  
  • Creative. Pathological liar. 
  • Likes nights in on the sofa with a DVD. Either broke, boring or really into porn. Hopefully the latter, unless they're one of the NSA types. 
  • Social smoker. On 20 a day. 
  • Occasional drinker. Raging alcoholic. 
  • Masculine. Hairy with penchant for belching/farting/pissing on the toilet seat.
  • Religious views: Spirtual. Simply stated, a wanker. 
  • Can't accommodate. Yeah, because the wife won't like it.
  • Always horny. Really? Sure about that? Even when walking around Lidl? Even when you're crammed into the tube with a sweaty pit crammed in your face? Really? You need to see someone about that. 
  • Chem fun. I think this is drugs reference, but am not sure if it involves mainlining hardcore drugs or just a beechams enema. Either way, back away slowly...
  • Got a fantastic partner, so just on here for mates. Yeah, course you are. Lesbian bed-death is not just confined to lesbians.
3. Messaging - a few things to consider:

When they say, 'What R U lookin' 4?', it is advisable not to respond with: 'Someone who has a basic command of grammar' / 'The remote control - have you seen it?'  'Prince? Is that you?' or some other pithy witticism. Said person will not find you funny nor endearing. They will think that you're a twat and will block you. The appropriate response to this is 'men and sex' but then you might end up feeling like Madonna's Bad Girl again. She was drunk by six, kissing some kind stranger's lips. Doesn't sound too bad when you put it like that, does it?

Rather than message you with words, some will just send you a picture of their bits. Probably best avoided, especially if the element of surprise appeals to you. I recently got a picture of a bloke with no clothes on standing in front of a Dolly Parton poster. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry, so I did both. Then blocked him.

When someone asks, 'You got anymore pics?' it means that they invariably want to see you without a stitch on. 

You will possibly get requests to have sex without said person even offering their name. Make of that what you will. 

Some people will say somewhere on their profile that, 'this site keeps losing messages.' It is a kind way of saying that if your messages go unanswered, they think you ming hard and don't want to hurt your feelings by turning you down so will just ignore you until you get the hint.

4. Summary: Am sure that there are some decent blokes on there / out there, but it strikes me that it's a bit like TKMaxx - loads and loads of stuff, but you have to spend an eternity wading through the shit to find them. 

*rummages*

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Poetry Corner: Bin Liners

My life lays before me in eight black bin liners.
A depressingly paltry haul when you consider my experience:
Thirty five years,
Three relationships,
Numerous homes, innumerable jobs,
A dysfunctional family,
A father who hoards -
What would he say?

And yet, there's no place for my lifetimes possessions.
Hilariously, it will fit into pilfered crisp boxes
Permanently borrowed from the local shop.
Photos, well-thumbed books, utensils I've never utilised,
Meaningless keep-sakes I can't bring myself to throw away,
CDs - long since played - and a stereo I don't want any more.
Soon to gather dust in a dark corner
Of someone else's loft. 

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Mam - Eleven Years On...

My Mam.

Eleven years ago today the unbelievable happened. My Mam died. Obviously, to the average person, the thought of someone dying isn't unbelievable. On the contrary, it's the one certainty that awaits us all (like, happy clappy hoooray!) But when it's your own mam - a person who has gone through life with barely a sniffle, let alone anything serious - and you're suddenly told that she's got cancer before dying four weeks later - then it's unbelievable. And that's how it remains in my head. Unbelievable. I've had eleven years to get my head around the fact that I'm a motherless child and still it fails to stick. When the unthinkable happened, at 8.30am on a dull and damp Friday morning of September 8th, 2000, I was living 100 miles away from home. In the immediate aftermath of her passing, I didn't have to confront it in the same way that the rest of my family did - my daily routine wasn't disrupted. I didn't have daily reminders like the rest of my family did - so I simply chose not to.

Sure, my life suddenly had a mother-shaped hole gaping through the middle of it, but I was able to deny it. I brushed it aside and elected to ignore the issue (a fatal trait, ironically inherited from my Mam herself.) For the first two years I went around in a strange kind of emotional fug. Now and again it would hit me. I'd be walking in the street, minding my own business and thinking about something completely unrelated to Mam when the cold, hard fact that she was dead would hit me and I'd suddenly be left reeling. There were other times I'd forget that she was dead at all. I'd see an advert for a TV programme that I thought she'd like and I would go to ring her to tell her. It would only be as Dad answered the phone that the crushing reality would hit me and no, I wouldn't be able to talk to her.

I tried to plug the gaps with instantly doomed relationships that temporarily staved off and then exacerbated all the negative feelings associated with death: longing, anger, guilt. And obviously, I got pissed quite a lot. When I finally addressed the issue, I spent another two years in a kind of hermit-like state, only to emerge the other side erroneously thinking that I was 'better' - but no. I tried to plug the gap yet again - this time with another relationship that proved to be my undoing in more ways than one. Grief had a pernicious effect: I'd have good days and bad days but even when the good days started to outweigh the bad, I could always feel it lurking in the background.

For me, death isn't something you get over. It's something that you get used to. Eleven years later I can say I've made my peace with her death, but it still hurts. It's not as raw as it was, but now and again it hits me like a bolt of lightning and the sudden realistion floors me. In trying to understand her death, I stumbled on a more spiritual side of my character that I didn't realise was there. I still don't subscribe to any of the religions that humanity offers, but I believe in a life (probably the wrong word for it) after death, I believe we go somewhere else. I think the universe is too fantastically planned to be a happy coincidence and science doesn't explain everything. I'm not sure what I believe, but I believe - I know - that I'll see Mam again, that there will be a reunification of some sort. Until that time comes, I'll carry on smiling at her memory and being grateful for the fact that she was my Mam. I'll continue to miss her gentleness, her kindness, her laugh, her beauty, her unrelenting, uncompromising love. And not to mention her dinners. Absolutely legendary!

Love you Mam. Hope you're sleeping tight. x

Sunday, 22 May 2011

The End Is Not Nigh!


The gorgeous Harold Camping: Tricked you!
 Oh look everyone. The world failed to end last night. Funny that. Just as well really because I've not paid my council tax this month yet. The last thing I want in the netherworld is to be chased around and threatened by baliff angels demanding £95.00 from me.

One person who I bet wishes he was dead this morning is Harold Camping, the 89 year old nutjob preacher who was the complete and utter spaz bloke behind the doomsday prediction that neglected to occur. It turns out that he's done this thing before (ie. attention seeking). Yup, back in September 1994, he wrongly predicted that the end was coming, a process he rather sinisterly refers to as Rapture. (Actually, didn't Blondie have an album of the same name?) Anyway, it seems that Harold's a bit obsessed with God taking taking vengeance on humanity. Through his religious huffing and puffing he points his gnarled, arthritic, unbendable finger of blame at 'sexual perversion', spearheaded by the 'gay pride movement. It was sent by God as a sign of the end.' Really?

He must feel a right twat at the minute. He's probably not the only one. Mr Camping's ridiculous argument managed to convince red neck half wit Adam Larsen, 32, from Kansas. He is among scores of mongoles "ambassadors" who have quit their jobs to drive around America in Family Radio vehicles warning of the impending apocalypse. 'My favourite pastime is raccoon hunting," Mr Larsen told CNN. "I've had to give that up. But this task is far more important.'

Oh dear.