Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Breaking Up With My Barber...


Hair by Fat Hamit

It's no secret that I have been cursed with what was referred to throughout my childhood as 'tufty' hair. Loosely translated: thick, wiry and not unlike that of a person who has lived rough for years. Tragically, on the sides of my bonce (good word that, bonce), it tends to grow outwards and in a horizontal line - laughing triumphantly in the face of gravity.

If I leave it longer than a fortnight, I end up looking like an industrial toilet brush, except shitter (see what I did there? Boom! Boom!) And that's just not okay. As a result, I make sure I get it tamed each fortnight: a quick buzz on the sides and then a trim on top to ensure that I remain looking vaguely human rather than someone who you wouldn't leave your kids with. However, because I go so frequently, I end up developing a relationship with the barber and that's where things tend to go awry...

For years, I went to Fat Hamit, a Turkish bloke who had his own shop at the end of the road where I was then living. The problem was, as I got to know him, the quality of his output lessened. He was too busy filling me in on the machinations of his life to pay much attention to the job in hand. I would leave, thanking him for a good cut and then go home and despair in the mirror, wondering why I'd paid fifteen quid to look like an impoverished Romanian lesbian circa 1984. But still, I'm as loyal as the proverbial butcher's dog and we were in an exclusive barbery relationship / cycle of abuse, so every fortnight I would go back for more. I walked past his shop every day - it was at the end of the road, so there was escaping him. Then one day, after asking for a short, back and sides and being given a next generation mullet with fancy bangs, something had to give. My opportunity to consciously uncouple with Fat Hamit presented itself when he decided to visit Turkey for a month.

While he was away, I happily cheated on him with a barber down the road and because I would leave the salon looking relatively human, I elected to jump Fat Hamit's scissory ship for good. It was awkward though: being thoroughly British, I had to pretend to be on the phone every time I walked past the shop, which wasn't often. I would go a completely out-of-the-way route just to avoid seeing him. At one point, I considered hiding myself under a hat, but hats make me look more of a simpleton than Fat Hamit's cuts did, so it was a false aesthetic economy all round.

After Fat Hamit, I settled into my new hair-care relationship with an Italian outfit down the road, but after a couple of years this too started to lose its appeal. It wasn't the calibre of the cut, it was the time that it took for me to get what I wanted. On average, they would take about half an hour per cut and it wasn't unusual to wait two hours to get in the chair. What ground my gears was that they'd often stand around and chat with customers way after they had paid, delaying matters even further. Or they'd just disappear for twenty minutes, reappear for three minutes with a cup of tea in their hands and then disappear into the back again, never to be seen again. I get that they needed breaks, but when you've been sitting there for that long that you can feel your hair growing and your ends splitting, it gets HIGHLY FUCKING irritating. So one day after I'd been sitting there for an hour and a half with no end in sight, I found myself missing Fat Hamit.

I formed a plan in my head which I executed swiftly. I fingered my phone menu and set my phone ringer off, pretended to answer the non-existent call and fled the shop. When I arrived at Fat Hamit's, my fantasy of a reunion not seen since Robbie re-joined Take That, evaporated.

Picture the scene: Fat Hamit's shop is empty. He is sitting at the till, idly thumbing through The Sun. The shop still carries a faint whiff of dirty fat. Reassuring but foul, etc.

Me: (Opens door, walks in as though I'd never stopped going there) How are you doing, Hamit?
Fat Hamit: (Slowly puts paper on the desk, looks at me and narrows his eyes). Is... you! You!
Me: Hmmm, yeah. Is me. How are things?
Fat Hamit: You ditched me. Where you be?
Me: What? What are you talking about?
Fat Hamit: You ditched me. I go holiday. You never come back.
Me: Oh...

(A quick aside here. I tend not to lie because I'm ridiculously bad at it and always over egg the pudding. I mean, a quiche could take lessons...)

Fat Hamit: Tell me, maaaan! Where you be?
Me: Well, the thing is, while you were away, my house-thingy got flooded and I had to move out unexpectedly. So I moved back to, er,  Nottingham? Yeah, Nottingham... and also, the other thing is, I ended up moving above a barber shop so I just went there. I meant to come and tell you, but obviously it's a long way away. And I er, couldn't make it.
Fat Hamit: Hmmm.

Awkward silence.

Me: But! I am back now!
Fat Hamit: Take. A. Seat.
Me: How's your wife?
Fat Hamit: You would know if you no run away and ditch me like the son of the bitch.
Me: Well, yes. Quite.

Fat Hamit was clearly unhappy. Whereas he used to be chatty, now he was silent; an expression of betrayal-fuelled hatred etched onto his face. He sought his revenge via the haircut he delivered. I left looking like my head had had a chem-sex threesome with Mad Slasher and One-Eyed fucking Jack. I smiled and promised him that I'd be back soon. Needless to say, I've never set foot back in the place. Fat Hamit can piss off.

I now patronise a barber shop close to where I work. They are ruthlessly efficient - in and out in twenty minutes - and because they can barely speak English (suits me), I can't get too attached, which is good, because after a brief honeymoon period, the lure of the place is starting to wane. The other week, the chap snipped away at my head while watching an Arabic soap opera. And the thing is, I don't feel like I can complain for the simple reason that he's holding a pair of scissors. I've seen Sweeney Todd. I know how it all plays out.

I went there again the other day and there was incident that has put me off for good. Your man held on to the top of my head while he clipped the sides. Suddenly he stopped, picked his nose and used his index finger to retrieve a huge bogey from his conk. He then made eye-contact with me via the mirror we were both looking in (if you’re interested, at this point I resembled the character in Edvard Munch’s The Scream painting.) He held my gaze as he wiped it on his t-shirt and then casually went back to holding the top of my head. All I could think was that the DIRTY BOGEY finger was now holding my head. I wish I was lying when I said that I got home and used three Flash antibacterial wipes on my head.

Once upon a time, I was seeing someone who left a pair of pants next to my bed. Concealed in said pants was a skid mark that Evil Knievel would have been proud of. I, on the other hand, was less than amused and dispensed with said lover quicker than you can say, ‘pass the moist wipes.’ It turns out that this leopard’s spots aren’t changing anytime soon and I’m going to have to find a new barber. That, or embrace the simpleton look and buy a nice top hat that I can stash my tresses under.

Hmmm… decisions, decisions.


Saturday, 14 January 2017

The Art of Taking a Selfie...


Ladies and gentlemen: welcome to 2017. No-one has got any money, all of our favourite celebrities are dead (apart from Madge - I've bubble-wrapped her and stuck her in the loft); the Western World is in meltdown and everyone hates each other - why else would we have a Tory government? Rather than burn our bras and blockade the streets until we get what we want, we’re too busy uploading our latest selfie to any social network that will have us to give a meaningful shit. Oh well. Beauty’s where you find it.

I shouldn’t sound too judgemental. I’m no better. Rather than write to Theresa May about matters of grave importance (her terrible hair and eye-bags, for instance. Oh yeah, and that Brexit thingy) I’m too busy indulging my inner narcissist. Donald Trump has taken a break from being pissed on by Russian prozzies so that he can lead the free world. Nothing makes sense anymore. So what can you do? Oh yeah. Take a selfie. Why not? Can’t hurt.

So, here’s the 1-2-3 on giving good face.

1. First off, get a low resolution camera. See, all the latest camera phones try and tempt you with promises of a camera that boasts a trillion megapixels, or thereabouts. Which is less than fantastic if you’re generally sweaty or have a blemish or pore that has gone rogue. Believe me when I say that that imperfection will be captured perfectly. And when you get a disproportionate number of likes on Facebook, it won’t be the cheeky grin you’re offering that people are liking. Oh no, these sadistic keyboard warriors that you’ve never met will be cheering for the puss-fillled zit that has set up base camp on your chin for the next fortnight.

Which chin? Both of them, fatty.

2. Speaking of your collection of chins, there are a number of options available to reduce the obesity crisis that is happening on your face right now. Firstly, you can simply crop said chins out of the photo, which is okay, but there are some drawbacks. For example, simply slicing the bottom third of your face out of the picture might make you look like: a) you’re a bit simple; b) a bit quadriplegic; or c) a bit like a person who has just cropped their flab out of the photo - busted, etc. A better idea is to hold the camera directly in front of you and then raise it: higher... Higher. Hiiiiiiigher... Bit more. Little bit more. There we go.

Obviously, you’re not going for a bird’s eye view of your bonce, but you get the picture. Pun intentional. Alternatively, you could lose weight. It’s entirely up to you. Also, can I just add something? Make sure you know where you’re looking when the photo is being taken. Familiarise yourself with where the lens is. Otherwise after you’ve taken the photo, you look as though you’re either blind or simple.

3. So by now, you have used your raised arm to capture a picture of yourself at a decent angle using a cheap phone. Hurrah. But don’t stop there. There’s more work to do. Now you have to filter the shit out of the picture to get the best you that there can be. Even though that you doesn’t really exist. Go to Instagram and scroll through the collection of filters until you’ve got arthritis in your thumb. Select the best one. Screen shot the bastard. Then go to your photo gallery, find the filtered photo and start all over again. Lather, rinse, repeat. Keep going until you’ve changed race, or, if you’re that eager, species. I feel a bit sorry for Michael Jackson: if only this shit had been around back in the day, he could have saved himself so much money on surgery. He could’ve just used all the filters on his bad self. Chamon. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, no?

And that, my friends, is the secret to a good selfie: crap phone, a functional arm and the ability to filter yourself until Arthur looks like Martha. Or Dave. Or a kettle. Or a napkin. Whatever.

Strike a pose!

Friday, 18 November 2016

Alternative career: Harvester Operative

Hands up: who remembers Des’ree? You do - especially if you’re hurtling towards middle age as I am. Anyway, if you need a reminder, she was a) rather beautiful; b) sang a brilliant but slightly rubbish song called Life. Released in 1998, Life was all over the radio and was as contagious as scabies, although perhaps less sexy. At the time I was in my second year at university and while everyone rocked out to cooler cuts courtesy of Fatboy Slim et al, I was much happier singing along to good old Des’ree, even though the lyrics were questionable. And when I say questionable, what I mean is, a bit shit. On Life, she sings, ‘I don’t want to see a ghost, I’d rather have a piece of toast, watch the evening news!’ I think we can all agree that it’s not exactly W.B. Yeats, but do you know something? The older I get, the more that line resonates. Although to be fair, you probably need to substitute, ‘a piece of toast’ with, ‘a litre of gin.’

Life is stressful, no? Mine is. I’m sure yours is too. It sometimes feels as though I’m spinning a load of plates inevitably destined for dust. One thankless task after another. During these times, I fantasise (mostly in an unsexy way) about giving it all up and joining the circus. Actually I don’t. I’m not good with animals: they smell and shit in the house, so fuck that, basically. No, during these times of HEIGHTENED DURESS (oh yeah), I breathe deeply and imagine myself working in the Harvester. The one at the top of my road, in fact. A place where the staff are smiley and the beer is reasonable.

PROS: Think of all that free salad. Thinning. Much like the uniform, which appears to be a black tunic type thing. Also, tips! I like to think that my disco tits would easily secure a handsome income just from the shimmies that I’d offer between courses. Honestly, how could you resist? I wouldn’t have to start that early in the morning and I’d be run off my feet, which would secure my 10K steps per day. Again, thinning. I’d be a waif in no time.

CONS: There’s a bar, isn’t there? I’d probably skip the salad bar for the booze bar. Also, I’d have to deal with the public, which is a thankless task at the best of times. I’m pretty certain that I’d end up serving a few pube-infusions to the great unwashed and those devoid of manners - ie. most of the punters. Also, I’m clumsy: the customers would be more likely to wear their order than eat it. Either way, I’d be unapologetic. And I’d still want a rather substantial tip. Not too much too expect, no?

CHANCES: Slim and cheap. Unlike me. Fuck ‘em.

Oh well.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Three Months Later...

Image result for single


'I know that I can survive, I walked through fire to save my life. And I want it, I want my life so bad. And I'm doing everything I can. Then another one bites the dust... It's hard to lose a chosen one.' Sia, Elastic Heart.

Three months ago I got a phone call that would change the course of my life. It was my boyfriend, calling from Gran Canaria, where he'd been on holiday for a fortnight. It was a call that would last seven minutes. That's all it took him to finish our four year relationship. His delivery was simple but brutal: basically, he said, he didn't miss me; that he ought to, but he didn't and therefore I should go and find someone who would. Then he told me that he had to go as he was off to a posh restaurant with his friends. He hung up and it was all I could do not to vomit into the sad bowl of cold pasta that sat in front of me. It didn't make much sense. This was my happily ever after. I was part of his family and he was part of me. This was the bloke who I thought I would grow old with.

Since that phone call - that strange, confusing, horrible phone call - he has vanished from my life. I haven't heard a single thing from him. Not a phone call, not a text message, nothing. He's expunged me from his life in my entirety, which was perhaps the most hurtful and most difficult thing of all, especially when you consider the fact that he has sustained meaningful relationships with all his other exes. And even though I haven't done anything wrong, I've been cut loose: removed from his social media, phone number blocked, emails unanswered. As far as he is concerned, I am persona non grata. Where I used to have a loving partner, I now have a wall of silence and an empty space. I know it sounds dramatic (me, dramatic?), but it feels like he's died. He's gone and I'm lost.  

Or at least I was. The first month was pretty disastrous but on the plus side, I lost a stone in weight. Silver linings and all that. I would remain awake at night, ruminating on all of the red flags that were suddenly so obvious. And then I discovered the real reason for his stonewalling: his new bloke. Who is cross-eyed. But you know what? It's okay. I don't have the energy to be bitter about it. All I can do is wish him well and hope that he's happy. Don't get me wrong, I was angry and hurt - the latter feeling still lingers, along with a crushing disappointment, when I think about him. I just wish that he could have been more honest. It wouldn't have been an easy conversation, but I would have retained a modicum of respect for him. As it stands, I don't.

That said, I do miss him. I probably always will. I miss laughing with him - and we did that all the time. I know it will all come to pass, but it feels harder than previous break ups, mainly for the reason that I'm back to square one. My life plan has evaporated, along with his presence. I'm forty next month and while I don't have an issue with my age, I didn't expect to hit the big 4-0 without him by my side. The idea was that we'd go to New York to mark the occasion. New York will still happen at some point - I just wanted to do it with him. I had so many plans for us.

I wonder how long it will be before I'm over it, whatever that means. It's undeniably easier than it was, but - and as I said earlier - the hurt, the ache, the sting I feel, is still there. It's not as raw and I accept the split for what it is. We're over, we're done. It's just a fucking shame, you know? It feels just like grief: it's a process, an arduous, hideous process and one that I have to ride out.

In the meantime, I'm getting myself back out there and I'm having fun. I've been on a few dates, but if anything, it's just reinforced the fact that I'm not ready for all that sort of carry on. The idea of getting into another relationship at the moment is exhausting and even a bit frightening. There are advantages to being single. I like my freedom. I like doing as I please and not having to answer to anyone. It's only now I realise how much I gave to the relationship and how little I got back. I was invested. He wasn't. Oh well.

As the cliché dictates, life goes on. I have some amazing friends and they've been brilliant. I'm taking things one day at a time and I'm okay. I'm going to give the last word to my top gal, Madge: 'I could get caught up in bitterness,  But I'm not dwelling on this crazy mess /  I found freedom in the ugly truth,  I deserve the best and it's not you. / You've broken my heart, but you can't bring it down,  I've fallen apart, I was lost, now I'm found. /  I picked up my crown, put it back on my head / I can forgive, but I will never forget.'

You tell 'em, Madge.



Sunday, 29 May 2016

Heartbreak for Dummies...

If you're recently single (like I am - booo!) and trying to make sense out of your new emotional environment, (again, much like I) then you might find the following useful. Then again, you might not. Just saying, like.

You will need: unlimited alcohol, a dash of self loathing, some candles, a temporary lack of self respect, the album 21 by Adele, or similar, a darkened room and an empty deodorant bottle. Voodoo doll optional.

1. Get drunk. Go on, you know you want to. I find self medicating in this way to be an entirely appropriate response to what's happened. Your life plan has gone out of the window, you didn't see it coming, you're heartbroken in a way that is only reserved for 80's power ballads and all you want to do is hide in the wardrobe. That's okay. Do it. Just make sure you arm yourself with a litre of lukewarm Blue Nun and get pleasantly pickled. Nothing wrong with that. It'll help you sleep anyway. Win-win, in other words.

2. Make a really depressing music play list. Let's face it: you're miserable and it's not going anywhere for a while. You may as well revel in it. Go on, stick on the Adele album, pick up that empty deodorant bottle and wail along to Someone Like You. It's amazing just how talented you really are when no one is around to hear you, isn't it? You can even pretend you're at The Brits while doing so. I mean, she got a standing ovation. Own it.

3. Plug the gap. And no, I'm not being pervy. You've probably got a lot of time on your hands now that you're on your todd. Try and keep busy. For example, you could write a book called the Heartbreak Diet. It's simple: you have a double vodka for breakfast, a treble brandy for lunch and then half a bottle of gin for your dinner. You probably won't lose any weight, but who cares? You certainly won't after tucking that lot away.

4. Don't stalk them on the internet. As tempting as it is, this should be avoided at ALL COSTS. And even though I am advising you not to, you probably will anyway, if you haven't already. Don't say I didn't warn you. Trust me when I say that the internet really is the Devil's window and looking at what your ex is up to is slightly akin to looking up a simple medical concern via our friends at Google. What appeared to be an oddly located pimple is now a sure sign of terminal illness. Don't put yourself through it. Certainly don't go swooping on dating sites to see if your ex has signed up and then listed his turn-offs as the ENTIRE contents of your personality.

5. Get drunk. Yes, again. You've stalked them on the internet and rather than them being dead, as you'd secretly hoped, it turns out that they're tickety-fucking-boo. Unlike you. Therefore you'll need a little drink, won't you? Crack open a cold one, love. Don't forget to swig along to Adele. I tell you, it's like I wrote 21 myself. I think I should get a cut of the royalties.

6. Go to the gym. Not because exercise is scientifically proven to reduce stress, but because there are lots of pretty people there who are quite lovely to look at. Top tip: avoid mirrors. You're probably not one of them.

7. Get drunk again. You're three stones overweight and the pretty gym bunnies, whilst nice to slobber over, have made you feel fat. Which you are. You may as well have a Twix with a vodka chaser. It's not like it's going to make much difference.

8. Go out with all your friends. What do you mean they're all now married / partnered / settled / firing out kids? Oh dear. In that case, you might want to consider giving lesbianism a whirl, even if you do have a penis. Anyone want to rub boobs? No? Suit yourself.

9. Get drunk. I'm telling you, it really does help. Hic. And while you're in the throws of pissed-dom, write a poem that is so bad and self pitying that you'll be ashamed of yourself the next day. And possibly the day after.

10. Give it time. Apparently, it'll get better. You might also want to apply for a liver transplant too. Just a thought.


(This originally appeared in this ebook. If you've got a quid to spare and you're not a tight bastard, you might want to give it a whirl! :-))

Monday, 25 April 2016

Fat Boy Slim / New Years Resolutions in Review...

I can't quite believe that it's May next week. Can you? It seems like only moments ago that Santa ho-ho-ho'd his way down the chimney and emptied his sack all over the floor before sodding off and leaving me slightly more rotund than I had hoped for. You heard it here first: Santa is a fat-enabling whore.

So here we are: the clocks have boogied on forward and Spring has introduced us to all its optimistic splendour: mild warmth, lighter evenings and the promise of a cheaper electricity bill next quarter. It's enough to make you slap your arse twice like a frugal recession-ista, which I am not, according to my credit card bill. I'm just pleased that Winter is firmly out of the way. It was quite the disappointment in terms of the socially crippling snow that I find myself longing for as soon as November rolls around. All I want is to wake up to a good eight inches (of snow, you big pervert), find out that life has been cancelled for a few days and bunker on down with an endless supply of tea, hot buttery toast, Netflix and self-chill. But no. Jack Frost and the weather Gods obviously didn't get the memo. Bastards.

As I write, I am almost afraid to fart in case it speeds up time and I suddenly find myself in October. Stranger things have happened and to be honest I need the time. I have resolutions that I need to achieve. I know that some people think that New Years resolutions are a big pile of horse shit, but I'm not one of them. Without wanting to come across as schmaltzy, I like the newness of the New Year. A clean slate, a fresh beginning. This is particularly good after a month where I've consumed an artery-troubling amount of 'empty' calories in the name of that slut Santa.

This leads to my resolutions. I only really make one. The same one each year, in fact, over and over again. In sum: stop being a fat knacker. There are other supplementary resolutions that feed into this overall aim. Namely, drink less booze and spend less / save more money. My own toxic trio of unachievable aims. They're all mutually dependant on each other: spending less money on alcohol and pizza will make me less fat, allow my liver to regenerate and result in shrunken love handles/bitch tit combo. I start the year motivated and buoyant and yet, by December 31st, I find myself inhaling hot sausage rolls and festive napkins as an entirely appropriate response to the bailiffs banging on the door demanding to speak to Fatty Bum Bum.

This year is going to be different. And yes, I may have said that before (most years in fact), but it's true. If you're interested as to how it's going, then so far, so good. Well, perhaps not 'good' - maybe 'okay' would be a better appraisal. Could do better, etc. Overall, I'm a stone down which is pleasing, but at one point, I was two stones down. What happened? The Easter Bunny happened. The little bastard. I hope it gets myxomatosis. And this is what pisses me off about my ever yo-yo-ing weight. It takes three months to lose two stones and a fortnight to put half of it back on. I only have to look at a Crunchie and my ankles thicken. It makes no sense. Recently I got up, weighed myself and then (too much information alert) sat on the loo and did my business. Quite a lot of business actually. That much business, I was convinced that I had easily parted with another half a stone. I jumped back on the scales and was filled with a self-loathing that Roland from Grange Hill could only dream about as the terrible news relayed itself to me. I actually put on two pounds, which is, as far as I'm concerned, medically impossible. Yet I achieved it. Yay!

Over the years, I've tried various diets with varying degrees of success: Atkins gave me bad breath and mood swings, Slimfast wasn't fast enough, fat clubs made me realise that misery does love company and when it comes to my chub-chub, I'm quite the happy loner. I once agreed to do a grapefruit based diet only to find that I cannot stand grapefruit. I've had fat-blocking tablets from the doctor and then shit myself in Tesco while wearing beige shorts. I've used MyFitnessPal, but then found myself conveniently forgetting to add in the nine chocolate digestive biscuits that I scoffed while tidying the kitchen. Then I deleted the app out of spite. I once spent a tenner on a Paul McKenna book that promised to make me thin. It didn't.

This year, I've been flirting with the 5:2 diet. Eat what you like for five days and then fast for two. The five days are easy-peasy, lemon (drizzle cake) squeezy. The two days of abstinence are a different story. Skipping breakfast isn't difficult but drinking black coffee is. And that's what I spend my days doing - drinking strong black coffee that makes me feel slightly nauseous. By the time I get home from work, I could happily gnaw my left hand off. I find myself clambering into bed at six pm, hating all of humanity and longing for unconsciousness to come along and escort me to six am, when I can get up and eat like a normal person who likes a little beer from time to time. In the meantime, I exercise like a demon, all the time telling myself that my profuse sweating is simply the fat crying. I'm doing my ten thousand steps a day, I go to spin classes religiously and most days start with a kitchen disco while I brew my coffee. You'd think that twerking alone would shrink my recalcitrant flab. But alas, no.

But I will get there. I appreciate that I'm not the fattest porker in the sty, but at the same time, there's plenty of me to go round. More than I'd like. I'm not interested in having a six pack or those lines that go from the hips to the bits. I mean, it'd be nice and everything, but much like religion or voting Tory, it's just not for me. It just grinds my gears that we can put a man on the moon and develop a buttery spread that's good for the heart and lowering cholesterol but we can't devise a beer that makes us lose FOURTEEN STONE IN A DAAAAAAY!

Bugger.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Bucket List...

So, this is the year that I hit the big 4-0. I'm not sure how I feel about it. Largely nothing really. I don't quite get the hysteria that the general populace attaches to aging. I mean, there's eff-all we can do about it, so why sweat it? Besides, the last twenty years of cleansing, toning, mosturising seem to have worked: I got asked for ID when attempting to buy booze at the weekend. Although as I said at the time, it was probably my infantile Zippy (of Rainbow infamy) wallet that made the miserable woman on the till ask for it. It was perhaps an act of passive aggression rather than a genuine attempt to stay within the law. But still, I'm 39 and constantly look tired, so a win is a win. I produced my driving licence as though it was a winning lottery ticket and did all I could do to repress bursting into song. Like Aga-Do.

There are things that make me pause for thought as forty-ness seeks to seduce me into her pre-menopausal club. Like the fact that there are social milestones that I'm yet to achieve. I'm not married (not arsed, actually - I think it's perhaps tempting fate), I'm not on the property ladder (ditto - I live in London and can't really spare the kidney that I'll need to sell to gather a deposit) and I don't have children. I probably go out too much and generally act as though I'm still in my twenties. But that's okay. I looked like a minor at the weekend, so there we go. Besides, if Madonna can do it, then so can I.

I was minding my own business the other day when my phone beeped in my pocket. It turns out that I had a Facebook notification, which was all to do with bucket lists. It implored me to play along, otherwise I would incur some terrible twist of fate. Puh. So seeing as though I am in the midst of contemplating my life's accomplishments (or lack thereof) I thought I'd play along here - mainly to avoid any unspeakable consequences. Like my knob dropping off. Or looking my age.

So, sitting comfortably? Oh good.

Have you ever...

Gone on a blind date? Erm yes. It was an unmitigated disaster. He had all the charm and allure of a four day old, sweaty cheese sandwich and he voted Tory. Fortunately I got terrible diarrhoea halfway through. I didn't really, but that's what I told him as I penguin-walked away and disappeared for a drink in a pub around the corner. A slightly embarrassing encounter ensued later when he walked in the same pub and confronted me. I told him that I thought drinking more alcohol might kill the bugs in my stomach. I don't think he was convinced, mind.

Watched someone give birth? You know how they say that giving birth is a miracle? They (whoever they are) don't tell you it's quite a grim miracle. Rewind to school and I call - with horror - the sex education video where we were forced to watch a baby enter the world via it's mother's unshaven, over-stretched and rather torn unmentionables. I mean, you saw the front-bum actually split. It was like a Paul Daniels trick gone terribly wrong. I gasped and then I screamed a bit. The teacher then went on to tell us that when she had her own litter, she required nine stitches. She said this while laughing as 30 children tried desperately not to look at her groin. Not only did the baby make a terrible mess of its mam, but it came out looking like a brilliant-white alien covered in bloody snot. Some fucking miracle. But still, I'm sure it was all lovely once they gave it a bath and put the mother in an ice bath with a gin and tonic and all that.

Watched someone die? I once put my cat down. When it actually died, it flashed its eyes wide open and jerked its limbs about. Despite feeling like a feline-murderer, I like to think it Vogued into cat heaven. Can I get an Amen?

Visited Canada? No. I should though. I think I'd like it.

Visited Hawaii? Again, negative. I'm not a fan of Hawaiian pizza, if that means anything, which it probably doesn't. Sticking fruit and meat together just doesn't seem right. Like the Krankies.

Visited Europe? Yup. All over. Strangely, I've blocked toilets in Spain, Holland, France and the Czech Republic. Over wiping must be a British trait.

Visited Las Vegas? No. I have been to Skeg-Vegas though. I'm sure they're pretty similar.

Flown in a helicopter? Again, no. I'm all about Easy Jet and orange tunics.

Served on a jury? No. I'm far too corrupt for that kind of carry on. I feel sorry for people too easily. I'd be forgiving mass murderers on account of the fact that they had a lazy eye or had tenuous links to Nottingham, the motherland.

Cried yourself to sleep? Once. After watching Forrest Gump, the greatest film of ALL TIME. Jenny should not have died. She should have married Forrest and had more babies. By Caesarean Section.

Sang karaoke? Too many times. It's like I'm on Stars In Their Eyes. Tonight Matthew, I'm Michael Buble! Okay then, Dolly Parton.

Made prank phone calls? Of course! Growing up in Bestwood Village in the 80s and 90s, it was the only thing to do. Dad even let us and JOINED IN! Parent goals, people! Several EVIL teachers received pizzas courtesy of me. And middle-of-the-night taxis. Serves them right.

Had a pet? Two cats, a few goldfish and a stick insect (called Weeny) that I accidentally hoovered up. Although it lived in a jar with nothing to do all day, so perhaps it was a happy release.

Been skinny-dipping? Yup. I had no shame from the age of 21 to erm, 39.

Abseiled down a building? Yes - in a harness that was so tight that I was able to hit notes that Mariah Carey can only dream of.

Been camping in a tent? Yes. And it was absolutely fucking awful. Much like pet-keeping and gynaecology in all its various forms, it's just not for me. I like a nearby toilet and sink and a proper bed. On the night in question, me and the bestie woke up unable to breathe and reluctant to make the mile long trek to the overflowing toilets. We ended up abandoning the tent and most of our belongings and drove home at three in the morning. We know to quit when we're ahead, basically. Actually I probably cried myself to sleep that night. Tears of joy!

Done something that could have killed you? I think my liking for Wenzels and Gregg's hot sausage rolls are a true and real risk to my health.

Done something that you will regret for the rest of your life? No. Take it on the chin, learn from it and move on.

Rode a camel? No. I have inherited a dislike for camels from my mother who I once heard telling her friend that a mutual chumof theirs got VD after being spat at by a camel in Lanzarote. You can't trust them, can you?

Been on TV? I once went on BlockBusters. It didn't end well. I still maintain that my buzzer wasn't working. A fix, in other words. #stillbitter.

Been in a car accident? Loads. I'm a terrible driver. I wrote off a brand new car in Spain when I drove it into a lorry. Then I tried to say sorry to the driver but got my Spanish mixed up and ended up telling him I loved him. 'Yo Te Quiero mucho!' I boomed. He wasn't impressed.

Ever owned your dream car? I'm not the 'dream car' sort but my current ride - a Suzuki Swift - is a right bobby dazzler of a car, if I do say so myself.

Been Married? No. I don't see the point. I'd rather spend the money on a trip to Skeg-Vegas.

Fell in love? Of course. I'm in love right now. With Joey - and hot sausage rolls from Wenzels and Greggs. Which is what Jesus should have fed the five thousand with, not a few lumps of old mackerel.

Fell out of love? Yes. With Roxette in 1988 when they slagged Madonna off in Smash Hits. Who's laughing now, bitches?

Driven over 100mph? Yes - in a Nissan Micra. Check out my bad self. The car later died. I blame myself.

Worked in a pub? Yes. Three at the last count. Sacked from two of them. Marxism in action.

Been scuba diving? Yes! And I loved it. I looked quite sinister in a wetsuit though. I looked like a load of vacuum packed dildos. Inconvenient lumps and bumps everywhere. It was the deep sea diving equivalent of a fat bride on her wedding day. Me and neoprene rubber just aren't well matched. Also, I got told off for taking a shell from the bottom of the sea. Anyone would think I'd killed a litter of puppies to hear this woman go on at me. I think she had issues.

Eaten snails? I've had a few questionable things in my mouth over the years, but snails ain't one of em. No thank you.

A life well lived, I'm sure you'll agree.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Humbuggery...

It's December 7th and I'm already over Christmas. The tree isn't up, I have bought exactly zero presents and the strains of Chrimble music makes me want to self harm with a block of marzipan. Ho, ho fucking ho, etc.

On the bright side, I have taken advantage of Tesco's festive offer of twenty cans of lager for a tenner - although I am highly doubtful that said cans will actually make it to December 25th on account of the fact that I'm currently getting pissed to try and get into the spirit. It's not quite working. I'm already eleven cans down and I only bought them four hours ago. Whoopsy.  

You see, my parents - my sworn atheist parents - were particularly anti-Christmas - and this battered bauble hasn't rolled very far from the (unerected) tree...

As far as they were concerned, Christmas was a commercialised, throbbing pain in the arse. To them, it meant stress and stretching budgets - and for what? Marking the birth of someone they didn't actually believe in. When I was about fourteen, my brother and I looked on as Dad decided to wrap our presents directly in front of us. It filled Dad with an unrelenting rage that me and Jim found hilarious. After struggling for too long with a particularly aggressive roll of Sellotape, he flung it across the room as his mania took hold. He dangled our gifts directly in front of us and adopted a strange voice several octaves above his normal tone. 'See this?' he chimed, 'Oh yes! It's a daft fucking bag! Yes, let's wrap it up like baby Jesus! Come on, let's put it under the tree and then in a few days you can open it and - oooooh! - what a surprise! Thank you Santa, you fat fucking bastard!' Meanwhile, Jim and I escaped upstairs with a bottle of supermarket own-brand Advocaat and took turns gulping down the milky yellow fluid while splitting our sides. Dad's ranting continued unabated downstairs. We swore that when we were older, things would be different. But, as it turns out, they're not.

So here's what does my manger in about yuletide:

1. The fact that it starts in August. Yes, August. Summer, in other words.

There I was, enjoying a beer in the sun during my six-week work hiatus. It was 26 degrees and all rather lovely. As I attempted to purchase pint number three, I noticed a limp tree sitting tragically on the bar. Next to it was a badly scrawled sign inviting patrons to book early for a pre-frozen dinner in order to avoid disappointment. Oh yeah, that would be disappointing, wouldn't it: paying three times the price you normally would for a few transparent bits of turkey, three brussel sprouts, two roast potatoes and a splatter of lukewarm gravy. For pudding, you're 'treated' to a thimble of figgy pudding that confuses me: I can't quite decide if it's delicious or foul. If you're a vegetarian, you either get a nut roast or a slap. It's up to you.

From here on in, it's all Christmas a-go-go: the supermarkets start with their 'seasonal aisle' treachery. I don't want to look at tinsel at the best of times, let alone in September. Or October, nor November. Or even December. In fact, I don't ever want to look at tinsel, because it's horrible. Tinsel can fuck off. From August, there's no let up: everywhere you go, it's there - right in your chops. Balls deep. Television adverts, shops. You can't even fart without it sounding a bit like Jingle Bells.  I went to a self-service till in a Tesco Express the other day. When I used my card to pay, I KID YOU NOT, the till went, 'Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas!' This violates my statutory rights, surely?

2. There's too much pressure to have a good time. I mean, why do I have to put a paper crown on my bonce because I'm eating a turkey dinner? Here's the truth: it makes me feel like a bit of a cunt. I don't know why, it just does. I sit at a table with wispy paper on my head and I feel cunty. It's all I can do to not upturn the table and scream, 'DON'T LOOK AT ME!'

3. Secret Santa. I do it every year. I simmer with secret resentment each time. They set either a rubbish budget, like a fiver, and I wander around the shops feeling all aggrieved, wondering what I can get for such a pithy amount... And then when they put the amount up to a tenner, I wander around feeling equally indignant, thinking how I can spend a tenner better on myself. Like on twenty cans of lager, for instance. Either way, I go out of my way to buy something marvellous and tasteful, only to receive a 'comedy' present (such as a tinsel encrusted hole punch or a thoroughly thoughtless Brut set) which I have to pretend to like before either binning it or hiding it away and recycling it the following year when I am asked to take part in Secret bastard Santa.

4. Christmas jumpers. It's a straight no from me. A bit like comedy ties or voting Tory. I'm just not interested and completely unamused. Oooh, look at me in a jumper that makes me look like a Christmas tree! I'm thick enough around the middle as it is, thanks very much.

5. Pure greed. I can consume eight thousand calories on any given day. I don't see why Christmas has to be any different. Also, gluttony is one of deadly sins, isn't it? Ironic that we're doing it in the name of Baby-J.

6. Christmas cards. Top tip, chums: don't send me one. I don't really appreciate it - straight in the recycling bin, I'm afraid, unless you're either dying or you write something magnificent - and even then you won't be getting one back. If I like you, you'll know. I'll buy you a drink or I'll ring you / text you / Facebook you / Whatsapp you or - heaven forbid - meet up with you. Also, I feel sorry for trees.

7. Christmas shopping. I don't get it. All that CHAOS. Ghandhi-esque queues of people looking miserable and coughing their fluey germs all over the back of your head in Asda. People acting as though they're in the final of Supermarket Sweep (remember it?) And all for ONE DAY. ONE DINNER.

8. Illness. Just like Santa, a cold/chest infection/global-sized cold sore will always appear during advent. It always bums people out when they ask you what you got for Christmas and you answer: Ebola.

9. Extended family horror. There's a reason that we only see certain people once a year. Fucking Christmas. That's why. And it's enough to put us off for another year.

10. I'm not religious. At all.

Anyway, merry pissing Christmas. I hope Santa's sack proves plentiful. Peace on Earth, mince pies and mirth and all that bollocks. Finally, I would like to dedicate this lovely Christmas to you. Yes, you. I'll try and heed its advice. Not promising though...

Merry Christmas. Cough.



Johnny Red Pants xxx

Saturday, 5 December 2015

The A-Z...



A- Age: Cough, splutter... Thirty bleeding nine. Or as they might say at Bingo, 'Nearly dead, 39!' I mean, where did the time go? And why haven't I grown up? Every time I have a gander through Facebook (my eighth favourite toilet activity thank you very much), I am smacked around the visual chops with a myriad of maturity - everyone seems to be married, have beautiful houses with sofas, taste-free pelmets and beautiful children with chocolate-smeared faces. Awwww, etc. My news feed is all very wholesome on the whole.

I, meanwhile, am still carrying on inappropriately, like some kind of gypsy-esque twenty something. I'm just not interested in 'growing up' and its associated responsibility; nor am I remotely sorry either. Maybe I have a deficient chromosome. I suppose I've made some positive strides towards maturity in recent years: I have a pension plan which is probably not worth the paper it's printed on and I bought a fleece jacket, which I wore once: a child told me I looked as though I'd been vacuumed packed and that was that. My Dad constantly reminds me of the pitfalls of old age: arthritis, an unhealthy obsession with the frequency of bowel movements, foreign PPI callers and routinely getting fingered by the doctor in order to remedy high blood pressure. It doesn't seem much fun, really. Although the one redeeming point of aging is that since last year - for the first time in a long time - my age is greater than my waist size. Hurrah!

B- Biggest Fear: I was initially going to say, 'Ah, get away with you, nothing scares me,' and wave you away as though you've asked something ridiculous or you're a Jehovah's Witness, banging on the door in the name of salvation. But that's just not true. Plenty of things make me run - penguin-style - to the toilet/doctor. Things like the cheery prospect of terminal illness - for a doctor to take one look at an ingrown hair and say, 'Sorry youth. You've got Ebola.' The state of the world and the influence of a right wing media on a generally stupid populace scares me. George Osborne becoming Prime Minister is a pretty fucking terrifying prospect. What else? Oh, I know: people who collect things. You've seen them... strange ornaments or plates commemorating Elvis and co that you get out of a magazine from a Sunday paper. Terrifying, odd and tragic. 

C- Current Time: It's ten twenty six on a Sunday morning. We're expecting grey skies, rain and gales today, so I'm off to the pub as soon as it's morally right to do so, which is a stroke just after midday, I think you'll find. This is a cheaper and much more fun response to seasonal-affective disorder, which I think I probably have. I had to self diagnose because if I go to the doctor, she will just tell me I've got cancer of the imagination and that I'll be dead by last orders, which is just awful.

D- Drink you last had
: Coffee. Dark, tasty and slightly bitter. Just like myself, boom!


E- Easiest Person To Talk to: the voices in my head. They are numerous, odd and pretty good value.


F- Favourite Song
: It changes by the hour, depending on my mood, the day of the week, how much I've had to drink and whereabouts I am on my man-menstrual cycle... However, if I look at my most played tracks, courtesy of my iTunes, it turns out that Madge has the monopoly. You're shocked aren't you? Rebel Heart (a song that I feel as though I could have written myself - along with ninety eight others of hers) and Ghosttown sit proudly at the pinnacle with over 1000 spins each. I tend to favour the less known or loved Madge songs (Mer Girl, Falling Free, Gang Bang, 'Til Death Do Us Part, Waiting - look it up!) but one song that has liberated a smile upon these chops for the last 29 years is La Isla Bonita. It's just gorgeous. Pass me the maracas, Juan, and watch me shimmy. 

G- Ghosts, are they real? I'd like to think so, but I'm not sure. I'm happy for my mam to get in touch from the Otherside to enlighten me. I've had strange experiences that make me think that maybe there is something more to this world than we know, but I've never woken up to find an old man sitting on the edge of my bed. Which is just as well, thinking about it. I believe in something beyond THIS - I just have absolutely no idea what.


H- Hometown: I will always be a lad from Nottingham. I may have left at 19 and never moved home but one thing is certain: you can take the boy out of Bestwood Village/Hucknall but you can't always take the Bestwood Village/Hucknall out of the boy. If you do, he'll let off his rape alarm, call you a cunt and TWOC your car. He really will.   

I- In love with: Joey. The moment I first saw him, I just knew. I love everything about him. Also toast. I love toast.   


J- Jealous Of: You know those people who can eat whatever they like, drink as much as they like and not put on a pound? I'm jealous of those people. The fuckers. Kill them with fire. Or pump them with liquid lard, see how they like it.

K- Killed Someone? The only thing I have killed is a variety of songs when attempting to sing them. Oh and a goldfish. I didn't mean to. But I did. It was boring anyway.

L- Last time you cried? I recently read Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns for the millionth time. It gets me every time. If you haven't read it, you really should. It was more of dignified weep rather than a full on bawl-fest.

M- Middle Name: Michael. Pretty shit really. My parents weren't particularly imaginative when it came to names. I was the last of five and it sort of feels like when they got to me, they could barely be bothered and just named me WHOLESALE after my dad: first, middle and last name. 'That'll do,' they probably said. And then dropped me on my head. Wouldn't put it past them.

N- Number of jobs you've had:
I don't know, a hundred? I love my job now, but it took me until the age of 34 to get here. Until that point, I babysat (and stole lots of sugary food while rifling through my employers smalls/porn/marital aids); delivered newspapers (I often just threw them away and went home); worked on a market stall (foul, just foul); untangled balls of entwined wire (don't ask); worked in a variety of pubs (mostly got sacked due to then-Marxist principles ie. raiding the till); worked in a supermarket (nothing super about it, believe me); worked in a video shop (once served Pat Butcher from EastEnders!); worked as a telemarketer (pre-historic 'do you want PPI?' type horror?); once sold vacuum cleaners over the phone (I lasted less than a week. I mean, what the actual fuck?); worked in a theatre (Mamma Mia in the West End. I was VERY GOOD at ripping tickets. Actually, that's a lie. I was rubbish and famous people complained about me and David Beckham gave me a filthy look); worked as a locum coordinator in a London hospital (spent most of my time playing Solitaire on the computer); worked for Guinness/IBM (the discounted booze shop was the only highlight); worked for Sky TV (where I would regularly read books on the toilet so that Rupert Murdoch effectively paid for me to shit); worked as a holiday rep (I was 31 and needed to leave the country - and fast.)

An impressive CV, I'm sure you'd agree. Lots of transferable skills, etc.


O- One Wish
: Calorie free beer that doesn't give you a hangover or turn my non existent six pack into a family pack. Which I already have. We can put a man on the moon but we can't manage that. I despair of humanity, etc. 

P- Person who you last called:
 Joey. The connection wasn't great  but he's on Network Three.

Q- Question you're always asked: 'Why is it that the gays like Madonna?' Erm, it's because we have enormously brilliant taste, thank you very much . What's not to like? Have a word with yourself, you philistine, etc.


R- Reason to smile:
 I have everything that I need. I have a brilliant (if not slightly mental) family, a brilliant (if not slightly mental) friends, a job that I love, a brilliant partner and an iPod full of CHEESE.

S- Song last sang: Africa by Toto. I blame the cheese-laden iPod for this. I tried to harmonise. I tried. That is all.

T- Time you woke up: The alarm went off at six. I hammered the snooze button a ridiculous number of times. My bladder finally got me up at ten to seven. I cursed like a fishwife. Repeatedly. Fuck and bugger, etc.

U- Underwear Colour: Red. Boom! Boom! *fart*

V- Vacation Destination: I'm actually embarrassed as to how rubbishly--travelled I am. I want to go to New York and talk to people and be terribly British but that's not happened yet.  I've been to most of Europe but in terms of my favourite place that I've been to, I'd have to say Puerto Pollensa in Mallorca where I worked and lived for six months. Dramatic as it sounds, those six months in such a beautiful place saved me. I escaped from real life for a bit - things were bad - and would spend most evenings on the beach, watching the sun give itself into the ocean while I sipped San Miguel and listened to beautiful songs.

W- Worst Habit: Taking the piss. It's hard to break. And they've not developed a patch for it yet. Also, laughing at inappropriate moments. Like when someone dies.

X- X-Rays you've had: Two.
1. Arm - broke it on my brothers elbow after I tried to hit him when he called me a bender around the age of fourteen.
2. Shoulder - fractured it after falling down the stairs at Leicester Square tube station. Totally pissed. All my own fault. Yadda, yadda.


Y- Your favourite food: Pizza. Not that I eat it that often. I tend to DEPRIVE myself for months on end, then have a bad day, order a pizza that could realistically feed North Yorkshire, add extra cheese, inhale it in about fifteen minutes and then spend three days hating myself. Standard.


Z- Zodiac Sign: Virgo. The Virgin. I rest my case.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

The Memories That Make Us...


Picture this: I'm a chubby eleven year old. I love the following things: Madonna, chocolate in all its various guises,Nottingham Forest, doing well at school and singing, even though I'm not particularly good at it. Often terrible in fact. Fast forward thirty years and not much has changed. 

But when I was nine I had delusions of grandeur that I've managed to shed over three amazing, challenging and sometimes heartbreaking decades (if you omit the fact that I play the lottery every effing week, often to no avail. Although that said, I won £6.70 on Friday. Woop!) When I was nine, I had what I thought was a very good idea. While all my peers wrote to Jimmy Saville, asking him to fix it - shudder - I decided to go one further. I decided that I would write to Madonna.

Dear Madonna, I probably wrote. I understand that you are on tour, travelling around the world to far off places like Japan and China, where my Mam assures me that they put mice in wine and then drink it. I mean, gross! Her mate went there (what's wrong with Skegness?) and everyone laughed at her because she has blonde hair and was a bit fat. Actually she was quite a bit fat, but we have to be nice to her because her house smells of fish and she runs the catalogue. There are bargains to be had, Madonna. You should really look into it. You can get a stereo with two tape decks and copy albums. I don't do that, of course. Actually, I do - but only with Michael Jackson and Belinda Carlisle. I usually black mail my sister into buying your records for me because I know she smokes and if I tell Dad he'll go mental, mental chicken oriental. Mam smokes too, but I'm not supposed to know. I do. I'm not stupid. I know all my times tables and everything. But not only am I quite clever, I can SING. And I know all the words to all of your songs. All of them. So what I think is this: you're going on tour and you've got a backing dancer who is about my age. To be honest, Madonna, I think I could do a better job. I could sing as well as dance. I'm better value. So if you want me to come on tour with you, then write back as soon as you can and I'll come on tour with you. Honest I will. I'll be dead good. I am writing this as I play the True Blue album. Papa Don't Preach is my favourite. My Dad preaches a lot. Not to God - he says Jesus is a twat - but preaches in general. See what I have to put up with? You will be doing me a favour, as I will you. Promise you. Cross kings and everything. True Blue, baby, I love you. Tee! Hee! Hope to hear from you soon... Johnny

So that's what I did. I wrote Madge a letter, offering my services. But it didn't end there. I posted the letter via her fan club and immediately felt a pang of regret clutch at my insides as I dropped the letter into the post box. What had I done? What would Mam say when I told her that I would be leaving home for a bit to go singing with Madonna? What would school say? And also, I'd lied. I didn't know all my times tables - seven and eight were still lacking. I was convinced beyond doubt that within a week, Madge would have snapped me up and sent me tickets to go and join her and what would I do then? I mean, I couldn't exactly let her down. I kept vigil at the letterbox and days passed in a sweaty, panicky haze... Weeks floated by with no response. She was busy, I told myself. I would come home from school, fully expecting a distraught mother to be packing my case, wailing that she would miss me, but understood that I had to do what I had to do and could I get her a T-shirt (that she would simply turn into a duster like she would everything else that wasn't worn for less than a week.)

Needless to say, I am still waiting for a response. Unless my brother intercepted the letter and decided to bin it because I had pulled the legs of his latest He-Man figure. I wouldn't put it past him. 

That's probably what happened. 

Don't you think?