Friday, 23 March 2018

Disaster Struck: Passport Photo Horror...

Why is that passport photos are universally cruel? I recently had to renew mine and as a result, I fully expect to be refused entry at border controls the world over. Either that, or be quarantined for six months. Or possibly shot, depending on where my fancy takes me.

No tea, no shade and all that jazz, but I look like an exhausted, pouting pervert suffering from a recently ruptured spleen. One eye appears bigger than the other, as though I'm wearing an invisible monocle designed for a blind cyclops; a cyclops that is perhaps in the midst of a minor cerebral bleed. It’s a tragedy, as photos go. An absolute disgrace. 

I think I may have found the only post office that doesn’t have one of those hideous booths with their steering wheel-esque seats that I hate having to touch on account of all the farty, shitty arses that have been there. I can’t help but imagine rotten people with poor wiping techniques, worms and a complete disregard for hand washing. There was none of that. None of that having to try and fit my oddly spherical head into a coconut shaped oval on the screen. None of that getting stressed out because you decided that looking like Sloth out of The Goonies on the first attempt wasn’t okay so you decided to retake it and now, with one chance left, you look like his even uglier brother. I tell you what: those photo booths are impatient fuckers. What happened to the customer always being right? Actually, that’s factually inaccurate: I’m old enough to know that the customer is usually a bit of an entitled twat. 

Or are they? In lieu of said photo booth, I had to make do with June, a Post Office worker, apparently charged with taking terrible photos with a bizarre hand held camera. A few observations about June before we go any further:
  • She was probably about 97 years old.
  • She had a slight tremor in her dominant hand and other mobility issues.
  • Her beard was thicker than mine.
  • She told lies. 
  • She was possibly blind. 
  • She smelled of hand cream and piss and there was animal hair on her cardigan.
I did as I was told: I stood against the off-white wall she as she stumbled towards me like Julie Walters in the Two Soups sketch. Once she snapped my image, she considered her handiwork and threw me a semi-toothless grin. 
‘Beautiful!’ she lied. I smiled weakly. ‘Would you like to see it?’ she asked, her tone a tad too optimistic for my liking. 
‘Not really,’ I trilled, much to her chagrin. I wasn’t being rude - the heating had clearly been turned to Sub-Tropical and as a result, I had a sweaty back and bitch-tits combo. Gorgeous, no? I just wanted to pay my money and get out of there. Plus, her beard was starting to worry me. 

In retrospect, scurrying out of there like a rodent escaping from a weather-worn drainpipe was a mistake that will haunt my travels for the next ten years. I have buyer’s remorse. I have a passport photo that looks like the perfect blend of a cheaply printed charity envelope and a wanted poster. Why the passport office don’t allow Instagram filters or a liberal dash of Photoshop is a mystery to me in this day and age. I feel like my statutory rights have been violated.


Sunday, 11 March 2018

Morning IS Broken...

I am trying to revolutionise my life, possibly because I have read one too many inspirational quotes or used too many filters on the same photo and reality feels somewhat lacking. I mean, there’s always room for improvement, isn’t there? I want to be serene and calm. A vision of chilled splendour, negotiating life’s path like a swan gliding cooly through still waters. Instead I often feel like a chubby shambles, ricocheting wildly around the course, gasping for breath and wondering where my next syndrome is coming from. 

I have beautiful intentions. I am an incessant list maker. I plan, prioritise, prepare and manage to wing it through to the end of the day when I stumble home and convince myself that’s it okay to self medicate. Maybe that’s what we all do. Maybe this is the ‘postmodern condition’ I read about in at article at uni but failed to quite grasp what it was going on about - in my defence it was boring AF and I was probably drunk. 

I know where I’m going wrong. It’s my morning routine. Someone on Twitter recently said that they rise at 5am and go to the gym before returning home with their protein-shake and spending half an hour meditating and being all mindful while sipping their organic mungo-bongo bean tea and shimmying into their day all purposeful and determined. I half want to be that person. I also half want to stab the smug twat. That is nothing like my life, which goes a little something like this... 

22:30: Go to bed. Put radio on low and listen to people talking shit to distract internal mental thoughts keeping me awake.
22:42: Realise that people talking shit is irritating me. Turn off radio and treat self to large swig of Night Nurse. Delicious!
00:12: Wake up for no apparent reason and believe that it is time to get up. Continue to stay awake for hours on end, cursing ye Gods and only managing to fall back to sleep approximately four minutes before my alarm decides to rip through the air, mocking me as it signals the start of the day. 
06:00: Alarm sounds. Subconscious incorporates said alarm into whatever dream I’m having resulting in a spectacular failure to wake up.
06:09: Wake up after being prodded mercilessly by landlady who has been disturbed by my alarm. Wonder to self why she is standing above me waving a bread knife and going on about waking up next door.
06:10: Tell self that I ought to get up and do the 20 minute yoga course that I’ve paid an arm and a leg for in the hope that I become more bendy and, like, y’know, zen. Instead I find nirvana in man’s greatest invention – the snooze button – and replace head on pillow in an attempt to get back to the brilliant dream I was having before being rudely awakened by possibly murderous landlady who is currently muttering to herself loudly on the landing. She’ll disturb the neighbours if she’s not careful.
06.11: Completely fail to get back to the dream, but soundly achieve getting back to sleep.
06.20: Question whole point of life and universe as alarm rings out for a second time.
06:20: Fart liberally. Giggle.
06:22: Get up in total darkness. Wonder if I’ve actually gone blind in the night as I chip my pelvis on the chest of drawers. Deliver favourite expletive: bollocks, showing total disregard for neighbours, but they’re retired anyway, so not only am I already out of fucks to give, but also compassion for those who don’t have to go to work. Bastards. 
06:23: Have sit down wee-wee with head held dramatically in hands whilst wondering how it could possibly be time to wake up. Stifle sob at injustice of life in general.
06:24: Catch sight of self in mirror and recoil in horror. Stumble into shower whilst considering cut price face lift in Bulgaria. Wonder to self if applying thick bleach to face will result in successful DIY face peel.
06:28: Get out of shower, avoiding mirror at all costs. Walk into door. Deliver semi-expletive: fanny.
06:30: Sit at kitchen table, take out phone and search for Mindfulness app. Tell self that I am sanguine, assertive man of substance. 
06:31: Find self watching videos of cats beating dogs up and drunk people falling over on YouTube.
06.33: Fart.
06:48: Notice time. Descend into panic. Flail about like ruinous imbecile.
06:50: Attempt to drink coffee and get dressed at the same time. Invariably have an accident involving both. Explete with impunity: shit, fuck, arse, etc.
06:59: Liberally apply fine fragrance, clean teeth, engage in morning song, sculpt hair and prance out of bathroom as though I’ve just stepped out of a salon, etc.
07:25: Wonder why the last few minutes have inexplicably sped up as though I’m trapped in some kind of vortex or time warp. 
07:27: Find self performing the Time Warp from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It’s just a jump to the left... 
07:28: Find self in heap on floor after jump to left ends in unmitigated disaster. Become emotionally distraught at impending lateness. Have a relaxing swear: bastard, bugger.
07:31: Leave house, 11 minutes behind schedule.
07:33: Return to house for car keys/wallet/security pass for work/phone/left shoe.
07:35: Get in car. System up, windows down.
07:37: Still sitting on drive, deciding which playlist I want to accompany me to work.
07:38: Wave at neighbours who are gesturing something to me through the windows. It looks unsavoury. Am sure that they didn’t fight in the war to end up like this. Oh well, they’ll be dead soon. They should take up Mindfulness before it’s too late, eh? 
11:12: Arrive at work, trembling and exhausted at evil commute where I have been stopped by every red light, stuck behind nine buses, three dustbin lorries, a plethora of road works and an errant donkey that has possibly escaped from somewhere sinister. 
11:13: Tell self that the day is salvageable and that I will achieve all my goals on my list.
11:14: Rewrite list. Replace ‘go to the gym’ with ‘go home, watch Netflix and drink wine.’ 
11:15: Feel smug at impending victory.


Saturday, 24 February 2018

A Scene From My Up and Coming Nervous Breakdown...

Once upon a fuck up ago, I used to be a ruinous hypochondriac. Dark days, people. Dark days. One minute I’d be fine and the next, I’d stumble across a bruise that I couldn’t account for, or a strangely placed pimple and I’d start writing out my will. If I ate beetroot, I’d desperately ring an ambulance the next morning, telling them that my neon-pink turd nuggets were surely a sign of massive internal bleeding. I once mistakenly self diagnosed a rare form of cancer when in fact it transpired that I had a sweat rash. I have misinterpreted hangovers as the onset of meningitis (the one that kills you, obviously) and there was one time I could have sworn blind I was close to death but it turned out that I was accidentally listening to Mariah Carey.

These days, I’m in remission from this hideous condition, you’ll no doubt be pleased to hear. Hip, hip and a hearty hurrah.That said, I have recently made a grim discovery in respect of my mental health. There’s no easy way to say this, so I shall just spit it out, as though I am suffering from tourettes syndrome, which I am not. Not yet, anyway. (Soapy tit-wank! Oniony Knackers on toast! Ooops, maybe I am.) Anyway, here goes. My name is Johnny Red Pants and I’ve been afflicted with - drum roll if you please - logophobia - the fear of words. 

Obviously not all of the words. I quite like words such as: alcohol, food, snuggles, shag and fresh - especially when the latter is coupled with sheets. I love some words for their sound alone: possum, flume and soporific. Certain words make me laugh for no discernible reason, other than I am rather childish and possibly a bit simple: spaz, moist, flaps and baps, for instance. Snigger and chortle!

However, there are some words that send me the other way. These are words that, for some reason, make me squirm or break out into hives, which I will then misinterpret as a sign of terminal illness. Words such as…

Pork. Say it slowly, placing an emphasis on the initial ‘p’ and the final ‘k’. Suddenly, it becomes the serial killer of words. Maybe the Jews and the Muslims are onto something. 

Foreskin. Again, nothing to do with the aforementioned religions. It’s just the sound of the word makes me shudder. I blame the parents. Well, my Dad at least. He used to use the word ‘foreskin’ as his filler word of choice, classy bird that he was. He’d be all like, ‘What time do I need to be there… Is it… foreskin… Five o’clock or… foreskin! Half past…’ Meanwhile, I’d be in the corner, gagging and secretly hoping I’d been switched as a baby and this was all just a terrible, terrible mistake. 

Curd. I hear the word curd and I think what might lurk under a problematic foreskin. Sometimes, I hate myself. Now is one of those times. 

Maggot. Such a wretched word. Not only because I find it slightly onomatopoeic, but also it reminds me of my ex’s unmentionables. And then I think of foreskin and curd and suddenly, I’m self harming with a bagel. Fancy that. 

Minge. Nothing to with my penchant for poofery. Even if I was a fervent breeder, I would never dream of saying, ‘Oh, love, do us a favour and get your minge out, will you?’ When I was a child, people referred to it as either a fu-fu or a tuppence. And then someone came along and named the front bum a minge. Life was never the same after that. That’s probably why I’m so gay. It was probably my Dad, thinking about it. He has a lot to answer for. Actually, there are quite a few minge-synonyms that aren’t very nice: clunge, quim and that old favourite, FANNY. I love the fact that the Americans think a fanny is an arse and walk around with their fanny packs on as though it’s 1993. Haven’t they heard of pockets? 

Discharge. It’s no coincidence that this word follows minge. I think I need to lay down. 

Nom. Often accompanied by a terrible picture of a plate of fetid swill on social media. You scroll through your newsfeed and chance upon what looks like a dimly lit plate of fried cock-sack. The person responsible has added - without humour - the caption, ‘NOM NOM NOM’ and added the local carvery as the location of the picture. All of a sudden I can’t decide if I feel murderous or I’m having suicide ideation. 

Gosh. In order to convey surprise or shock, you can’t quite beat a good expletive. Maybe I do have tourettes after all. What’s absolutely not okay, is saying, ‘Gosh!’ when someone has told you that they’re riddled. It’s just not okay. Use something more appropriate, like, shit, fuck, or, ‘oh bollocks!’ Also, do not, under any circumstances, say ‘Oh em gee.’ This will render you a complete MINGE. With added discharge. And possibly a helping of curd.

Tummy. Only okay if you’re three years old and possibly a bit basic. Other than that, I’m not having it. 

Farmer. It’s not so much the sound of the word, but the image it conjures up in my bonce (great word that, bonce). I hear ‘farmer’ and I think of the smell of horse shit, desolate fields, poor dentistry and the fact that my Dad always said he’d never met a decent one because they were all Tories. Fair enough. 

I dread the day someone stops me to tell me about the maggots they have found on a pork chop or the discharge coming from their minge before suddenly breaking off and saying, ‘Oh gosh, look at that farmer’s tummy! He’s obviously gone overboard nomming on the curd! He needs to lose weight otherwise he’ll never see his foreskin again.’

Please send help. 

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Etiquette and Other Pretensions...

The more discerning of you may have worked out that I am not the classiest bird in the menagerie. Chuck in my propensity towards clumsiness and what you’re looking at is a slightly tubby finishing school nightmare. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not exactly a heathen. Like most people my age, I know to use my cutlery from the outside inwards thanks to the film Titanic. I always stand up when I meet someone for the first time; I recently discovered that you should never fasten the bottom button of a waistcoat (so why have it, hmmm?) and as much as I might sometimes want to, I refrain from burping and farting at the dinner table, mainly because I usually eat my dinner directly from the packaging while sitting on the sofa. So what? Sue me. And also, screw you. 

Personally, I blame the parents. I mean, thanks to them I’m rather good at manners thank-you-please, but in terms of social etiquette, forget it. They just couldn’t be arsed, bless them. They thought that such a carry on was tantamount to unnecessary ostentation and that itself was a social crime punishable by a swift punch to the throat. We had our own form of etiquette at home: 

1. Don’t chew loudly - although it was rather deliciously called, ‘smacking your chops’ in our house. Smack your chops and expect a smack around the chops, simple as that. Your choice. 

2. The youngest (ie. me) had to sacrifice their seat if we had company, which was rare. Visitors were discouraged at all costs, mainly because the carpet was vile and the walls needed painting. Sadly, Dad was far too busy to do this because he had to make sure that no one stole the sofa by laying on it for the majority of the day. If someone did pop in, I would be immediately relegated to what was called the dog shelf ie. the floor. ‘Fat Head,’ they would say, ‘get on the dog shelf.’ Why was I called Fat Head? Because while occupying the aforementioned dog shelf, my sizeable bonce would often obscure the television. The fact that we left it on was less to do with bad manners and more to do with quality of the unwanted company. Yes, Aunty Eilleen, I mean you and your jam tarts that were drier than nun’s unmentionables. Honestly, it was like eating compacted sawdust. Didn’t stop me shoving them down me though. Looking back, we never had treats like biscuits and pop, which makes me wonder how I became such a fat kid. 

3. Don’t ring the telephone after 9pm unless someone has died. In fact, don’t even do it then. As much as I might love a crisis, my parents couldn’t cope with one after the watershed. Besides, It’s perhaps better to deal with a catastrophe after a full night of sleep, don’t you think? So yeah, either die at a more convenient time or simply let us know during office hours, thanks. 

4. Don’t be pretentious. This was conveyed through telepathy and sneering. Pretension, according to the Rules of the House, wasn’t just being slightly affected or flaunting your brand new Puma trainers while everyone else scuttled around in a pair of old, chewed up Dunlops, it was deviating from the norm in any way at all. Having a conservatory on the back of your house? Pretentious! Drinking red wine? Who the in name of dry buggery do you think you are? A new car? Ridiculous! What’s wrong with an unreliable old jalopy that only starts when it feels like it? When a neighbour started eating pasta in the late 1980s, it was widely ridiculed. There was widespread disbelief that the potato had been jilted in favour of this strange, foreign swill. As for rice? Only acceptable in a pudding, which we only had at Christmas. You know why? Because pudding was PRETENTIOUS, as was holidaying abroad, owning a caravan and, inexplicably, kitchen roll. I mean, what’s wrong with the sink cloth? My mother wouldn’t allow a microwave through the door on account of the fact that someone she knew owned one and this particular woman ‘smelled funny,’ which wasn’t actually funny at all. After she died, Dad got one although it was never referred to as the microwave. It was simply called, ‘the Michael.’ I once took my Dad some moist toilet tissue just to see what would happen. He nearly had a bleed. 

5. Only use the back door, never the front. Although thinking about my unrelenting poofery, maybe I took this one too literally. The front door was reserved for the gas man, the Queen (should she fancy it) and bailiffs. Everyone else? Get round the back, or better still, don't come at all! 

Thursday, 4 January 2018

New Year Resolution #1: Improving My Knowledge of... Wine.

Looking back, I’ve always been quite the boffin. It’s no wonder I got picked on at school: fat, gay, an ardent repeller of fashion and a hairstyle that was more like a cry for help than anything else. I would insist on sitting at the front - friend-free - exchanging my homework for an A-grade and winning every academic award going: 100% attendance, most merits, most likely to die a virgin - my trophy cabinet was a thing of envy amongst the socially destitute. 

In my defence, I really liked learning stuff. Even now, as I stare down middle age with an arched eyebrow, I’m thrilled to the core when I acquire a new skill or bother to look up a word that I’ve been meaning to for a long time. Like pedagogical. It’s only taken me about 19 years to look that word up. In fact, I’ve just done it now, thanks to the Google. Apparently, it relates to teaching. Funny that. 

This year, rather than make a load of New Year’s resolutions which will simply result in spectacular failure and self loathing by January 8th, throughout 2018 I think I’m going to attempt extending my knowledge on a range of subjects that have always intrigued me. Starting with a favourite subject of mine: wine.

It’s no secret that I’m an enthusiastic consumer, but I am by no means a connoisseur. I am eager, but ignorant. Sod the pretension and just hand me a glass will you? Or a mug. I’m not fussy. White, rose, red, turps, whatever. I’ll have a large glass, thanks. In fact, I’ll have a box. I’m crap at recycling, so perhaps it’s best that I attempt to save the Earth one box of wine at a time. 

Once upon a piss-up ago, I thought it might be a novel idea to go wine tasting, but then someone told me what it involved and I was utterly horrified. You basically pay a ridiculous amount of money to sniff a thimble of the good stuff, swill it around your cake-hole and then - inexplicably - spit it out before saying pretentious shit like: ‘Ooh yes, a well-constructed bouquet! I can detect oaky notes, truffle, the armpit of a dead tramp, vibrant berries and a hint of stale vagina.’ All this to the sonic backdrop of some outlandish operatic aria that threatens to shatter the glass I'm holding incorrectly. I’m more likely to say something like, ‘You can tell it’s cheap, it tastes like bastard Sarsons!’ and then drink it anyway. And then go back for more. 

And can I just go back to the whole SPITTING IT OUT thing? Why would you do that? Is that not a bit like bulimia for piss heads? Surely the point is to swallow it and then feel all dreamy-smooth moments later? The only thing that makes me want to spit my current mouthful out is the ridiculous serving suggestion on the label which encourages me to ‘Enjoy [it] with steak or in front of a roaring fire.’ Oh, do piss off. What’s wrong with downing it at the kitchen sink, one shoe on, one shoe off, just moments after arriving home from work?

Oh, and that’s another thing: in terms of its consumption, I’m not a good sipper of wine. In fact, I’m more of a parched chugger. As I write, I am merrily throwing a nice 2016 Shiraz down myself. I have no idea what that means, by the way, I’m just reading the label with squinty eyes. It might have something to do with the grape, but I’m not sure. Just like my arse from elbow, I am largely unable to discern my claret from my Beaujolais or my Semillon from my Moscato. I am able to recognise a large pinot at twenty paces, though. Oh yes, indeed. 

On reflection, I’m not sure this wine-knowledge is going to work. I mean, you can take the lad out of Bestwood Village, but alas, not the Bestwood Village from the lad. Irrespective of what nuggets of information I dig up regarding any variety of vino, I’ll probably just continue to do what I always do when it comes to selecting a bottle. ie. Plumping for what seems to be a good deal in whatever shop I’m in. Three quid off my favourite? Oh, yes please! Two bottles for nine quid? Go on then! Free membership to the Desperately Seeking Cirrhosis club? Lovely. 


Friday, 1 December 2017

Mourning My Father

My father died a touch after 10am on Tuesday, November 14th. Yesterday, we cremated him.

Despite the crushing inevitability of it, when the call came to say that he had gone, the shock was indescribable.

That was just over a fortnight ago - a fortnight which seems more like a month, and a period of time which has been consumed by the horrible consequences of his passing. Like watching my family capitulate. Tending to funeral arrangements. Sorting out his confusing affairs. Attempting to wade through his house and his things. Speaking to all manner of people to inform them, whether they’re friends and associates or the customer service department of a utility company. There are so many people to tell. Either way, they’re all sorry for my loss.

It’s been relentless. And yet in those fleeting moments where my mind has the temerity to find solace in a different territory, or those first beautiful minutes after waking, where sleep washes my mind clean, I suddenly remember that he’s dead and the thought strikes me like a cold slap across the face. As I reel from the blow, I’m flabbergasted how I can be hit so hard and so unexpectedly by something I already know.

In grief, silence suddenly has a sound. I hear it at its loudest in the middle of the night when sleep eludes me and I’m overcome because it’s dawned on me for the hundredth time that I won’t ever speak to, or see, my Dad again. I hear it when I go to pick up the phone to check in with him as I did on a daily basis. But I can’t and the habit is hard to break.
I am heartbroken.

I lost my Mam when I was 23 and now my father at 41. My Mam was 61 when she died. My Dad had just turned 70. I feel thoroughly fucking swizzed. I feel too young not to have any parents left. I’m so angry and I don’t know what to do with it. In fact, I don’t quite know what to do with myself, full stop. I’ve never been one for laying in bed or sitting about aimlessly, but at the moment that’s all I want to do. I can’t concentrate on anything, whether it’s a book or a bit of telly.

Dad’s cavernous absence is like a constant ringing in my ears. The rawness of the grief has manifested itself in the strangest of ways. It's like I’ve developed some kind of mania. One minute I’m fine and then the most tenuous of triggers reduces to me to tears while I’m dithering around the milk in Sainsburys. I pull myself together but the oddness continues at the checkout where I inexplicably greet the checkout operator as though I’m Miranda. This happened today when I minced towards her and said, in an eerily joyous tone, ‘And a hearty good morning to you, kind sir!’ This was at 4.30pm and the woman - her name was June according to her badge - didn’t appear to be that thrilled about being mistaken for a bloke. Then I started laughing which morphed into tears. I paid the bewildered-looking June for the milk and made my way outside to find that I had absolutely no idea where I’d parked my car. No clue whatsoever. My short term memory is in tatters. One minute I’m in the middle of saying something and then - mid sentence - it’s gone, like someone has just yanked the plug from the socket.

I feel like I’ve had to hold it together since that horrible call and now that the funeral is over, I’m unravelling.

The relationship that I had with Dad was complicated to say the least and for the first time in my life, I feel as though I’m having to confront regret. He was a man of towering extremes and we often crossed words. In fact, we always seemed to occupy opposite sides of any spectrum. There were many times when we found great comfort in each other but for the most part, I often felt as though my Dad didn’t like me very much. I know he loved me - I have never, ever doubted that - but he never really liked me.

I don’t think he ever really forgave me for moving to London at 19. Just because you’re born in a place, it doesn’t mean you belong there. And that’s how I felt about home. It was like an ill fitting suit and I needed to escape for a variety of reasons. Dad mistook this as both an act of treason and pretension; as though I thought I was better than home and the people there. That I had ideas above my station. Nothing could be further from the truth. I just felt like the squarest of pegs in the roundest of holes. I was always anchored to the periphery - both socially and at home. I wasn't happy. Both my parents had their favourites. I was neither of theirs and Dad made it quite clear on many occasions. I refused to stand for it, which made it worse as Dad thought that as the father figure, he should be worshipped. The thing is, I did. He was my superhero in so many ways. He was ambivalent towards me; always blowing either boiling hot or freezing cold and this continued up until he died. I often think about the time I put a novel out a couple of years ago and he ignored it. To me, it was a bit of a big deal. He, however, could not have given less of a shit. I didn’t even tell him I was writing it. The first he knew of it was when I sent him the proof copy which had a dedication to him in the front. A week passed and I heard nothing. When I finally called him to see if he had received it, he told me in a rather despondent tone that he had, but that he was in the middle of reading something else and that he would get around to it when he could. Then he put the phone down. We never spoke about it again.

I only wanted to know if he’d seen the dedication. I’m not precious about my writing. Some people might like it and others hate it. It’s like anything. It’s always lovely to get good feedback, but I certainly don’t expect it. Later that night he told my brother that I had called him for an ‘ego massage’ - to this day, I find that response completely devastating. I probably always will. I’m certain that if I had a child and they sent me a novel that they had written, I’d be over the fucking moon. I’d be so proud. No matter how good or bad it was. The fact that my father showed me only disdain makes me profoundly sad. The saddest thing is, that I feel as though my Dad didn’t actually know me. He had a certain view of who he thought I was but I don’t actually think I’m anything like that person. I’ve already said this but it bears repeating: despite his inconsistent approach to me, I never felt unloved. Strangely, he would not tolerate the behaviour he often showed towards me from anyone else. Even in the last few months, he was hugely defensive. He has genuinely offered to kill every single one of my ex boyfriends. Even recently, when I told him about a disagreement I had with someone, he offered to come to London and ‘chin them.’

Every conversation we had would end with telling each other we loved each other. That said, there was a just a tangible disconnect between us at times. I couldn’t please him. One day, when I realised that doing so was as easy as filling a hole-laden bucket using only a knackered sieve, I stopped trying and he didn’t like that either.

At the core of the chasm that existed between us was the gay thing, I’m sure.

My Dad was of a certain generation; a generation which didn’t much like the queers. I came to terms with my sexuality at 23. Dad came to terms with it when I was 36. He’d known for years (in fact, he later claimed he always knew), but when I was 36, he was able to tolerate it. I say tolerate because I feel as though that was what he did. He wasn’t happy about it but he was able to frame it in his own head and there was no longer any need for secrecy and lies. It made him sad that ‘my condition’ (chortle!) meant that I would never have children. I saw that as a bit of a blessing to be perfectly honest, but he often verbalised how sad he was that I wasn’t going to pass on my genes, which, thinking about it, is quite a lovely compliment. During that first open conversation, I told him that he was not to worry about me and that if he had any questions, he should ask. An hour later the phone rang. The display told me that it was Dad. Before I could say hello, he immediately asked, ‘Who’s the train driver and who’s the tunnel?’ Needless to say, I now view Thomas the Tank Engine in an entirely different light.

My Dad was brilliant in so many ways. His best friend has spoken about how he, ‘would light up any room and the lives of those in it.’ I couldn’t put it better myself. In my opinion, his strongest gift - and he had many - was his charisma. As a kid, I would observe as the recipients of his attention became putty in his hands; whether it was someone serving him in a shop or one of my teachers. Yes, it helped that he was good looking, but he had that X factor about him. He was funny too. So very funny. He was clever. He was magnetic. He had both a physical and emotional presence but it was always on his terms and he was able to switch it on and off at will. People either loved him or feared him. Sometimes both.

When he was on form, there was no one kinder. No one more understanding. No one better. No one more protective. Once upon a time, my Dad punched a fucking donkey. He was the biggest animal rights advocate going. He punched it because the donkey kicked me. It every right to: I was standing too close. I was a fat kid and the donkey probably had enough problems without having to cart my considerable rump around a waterlogged car park. But when my proximity became too much, it bucked and I went flying, which wasn’t acceptable as far as my Dad was concerned. The donkey had crossed a line, so he decked it.

Like I’ve said, he was a man of extremes. Black or white with no grey sandwiched in the middle. For me, the pendulum would swing from overwhelming love and generosity to unjustified cruelty. It’s hard trying to reconcile the father and the flawed human. It’s going to take me years to unpick the relationship. For now, I can’t quite believe that he’s gone. The enormity of his presence in this world has lead to a gaping hole in the wake of his death. Despite everything, I’m so proud that he was my father. I love him and I miss him desperately.

I always will.  

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Alternative Career: Property Developer Extraordinaire!

The older I get, the more convinced I am that daytime television is a sinister government ploy to lessen dependency on the state. Ten minutes into Shit in the Attic or watching Peter Andre aimlessly piss about on ITV2 and it’s clear to me that the unemployed have got as much motivation as they will ever need to get a job. That or kill themselves. I mean, as far as the government is concerned, it’s win-win, no?

Thanks to my spectacular inability to win the lottery, I have no other choice other than drag myself out of bed and go to work each day. This means that I avoid any telly-box offerings until I get home, when I can overdose on Netflix, gin and frantic self-chill. This week, however, I’m off work and having had a couple of lie-ins, I’ve taken in some mid-morning telly while coming to life. T’other day I gagged as the TV offered me a repugnant slice of Jeremy Kyle - a bizarre hour where stupid people with awful dentistry get shouted at by a sanctimonious, shark eyed bully while the audience points and laughs. There was a lie detector in there somewhere, but I couldn’t face sticking around for the results. Instead, I fingered the remote until I found something much more palatable and BBC One seemed only too happy to oblige: Homes Under the Hammer. Oh, how marvellous! How come I’ve never seen this before? And how come I’m not a property developer? I could do that...

PROS: It seems really easy: find a derelict shit hole for sale via an auction and keep raising your hand until you psych-out your competition and end up winning the dump. Then get filmed walking around, inspecting the litany of dry rot and woodworm while you stroke your chin and ruminate upon the fact that the property probably used to belong to Fred West. Lovely. Next, you will be expected to look into the camera with a straight face as you answer questions about your property portfolio. You will be asked about renovations that you might want to make while chortling through sentences about open-plan living, en-suites and - if you’re feeling particularly exotic - installing an Aga. They will reveal that you need to spend about ten thousand on the roof alone. The asbestos removal will be another couple of grand; the bathroom and kitchen need ripping out and the staircase needs moving. You will be reluctant to reveal that your budget is about £15 and a bag of chips. And yes, that includes contingency, whatever the bloody fuck that’s supposed to mean.

In reality you will simply paint every room white, put down new carpet and forget to excavate the bodies in the walls. You will stick a mirror in the pantry, optimistically hoping that this will fool prospective buyers into thinking that it could double up as a games room or an office. You will blow your budget on glade candles, crap you don’t need from Ikea and bleach before selling the whole SHEBANG on for a profit of £9.80. And that’s before capital gains tax.

CONS: Puh! It turns out that the auction is not actually a guessing game - you have to pay for what you win. How, then, is that WINNING? Apparently, getting a mortgage on a dilapidated squat still occupied by saggy-titted hippies involved in some kind of death cult might be problematic. Especially when the sinkhole in the back yard isn’t actually a half constructed swimming pool like you thought it was. Oh, and rumour has it that said shithole was erected on an ancient red-indian burial graveyard. Even though it’s in Derby. Eeek.

In order to save money, it’s apparently a good idea to do most of the work yourself. Which, in principle, I agree with. But then I think about the time I spent a WEEKEND trying to put up a curtain rail which was so stressful that by the time Monday rolled around I had alopecia and cirrhosis of the liver. I’m more about the spirit and less about the level. Truly. Ugh. I’d rather pay a professional although that’s not going to do the budget much good. And you know what? Even if everything turned out just dandy, you could bet your bottom dollar that thanks to Brexit or whatever, house prices would drop quicker than a slag’s pants soon after completing the work. My ‘gorgeous’ investment would be worth little more than knicker elastic. Effing typical!

CHANCES: Can anyone lend me a hundred grand? I’ll go fifty-fifty with you on my, ahem, profit. Go on, you stingy so and so. You know you want to...

Monday, 23 October 2017

Learning From Your Mistakes...

I’ve recently decorated my new office. Given the lack of budget, I didn’t use a professional, I didn’t venture down to Farrow & Ball and I certainly didn’t have a gander down the aisles of B&Q, mainly because B&Q makes me want to punch myself in the throat until I lose consciousness.

Given the financial constraints, I decided to get creative which basically translates as: I pinched a load of inspirational quotes from The Google and plastered them to the walls with a load of Blu-Tak. I know what you’re probably thinking, ‘Sounds bloody horrendous!’ but actually, for a small office where people often come to discuss the POOR CHOICES THAT THEY HAVE MADE, it works. It’s colourful, eye catching and there’s approximately two hundred motivational messages that anyone can ruminate upon as they ponder their latest blunder. Like punching their friend, who called their mum a fat slag. And while none of my pilfered posters says: ‘Don’t call your mate’s mum a fat cow! She’s not that fat!’ there are a few words of wisdom that I often refer to as we get down to business: ‘Forget the mistake, remember the lesson,’ and the infinitely more fabulous, ‘If you stumble, make it part of the dance,’ although the latter is often used as an excuse to practise being the sassy salsa lady emoji - the best of all the emojis, I think you’ll find - so I can sashay my way out of the room when things get too awkward.

Seriously, though, I think there is something to be said from learning from your mistakes, from dropping a huge bollock and watching your life unravel before gluing it back together with an economy Pritt-Stick and hoping for the best. I’ve done it no end of times. Sometimes you have no other option other than to bounce back. Or draw upon your sassy salsa lady dancing abilities as you flounce out of the room…

Mistake 1: Relationships. Once upon a massive fuck up ago, I thought it would be a good idea to go out with someone who had all the grace and charm of freshly thrown up kebab. Whatever possessed me, I have no idea. I know what you’re thinking, we’ve all been there; and you’re right, we have. Except, this one was an expert in being an awful human. I’ve perhaps spent far too much time writing about him over the years as I’ve tried to process how someone that I loved could lie to me so completely from day one before running up fifty thousand pounds worth of debt in my name, taking everything I had of any worth and vanishing into thin air, which was quite an achievement, given the fact he was about 25 stones. What annoys me is that I failed to call it. Not only did I fail to listen to my gut instinct, I actively ignored it, despite the all round domestic abuse and general shocking behaviour. The more elaborate his stories became, the more I sucked it up with wide-eyed wonder. Looking back, I was such a massive, gullible twat, and once I reconnected with reality, I fell into an emotional abyss. Dark days and drama. While my recovery didn’t take place overnight, I got myself through it. I built myself back up and reconstructed my life. I lived and worked abroad for a while and then returned to the UK where I changed my life for the better.  Whereas Fatty is now dead, so there you go.

Inspirational quote: Karma kills. Hurrah!

Mistake 2: Other relationship miscalculations. Never enter someone else’s relationship. It probably won’t end well. I did this five years ago. It ended terribly. No matter how tempting it is, don’t do it. In my rather shabby defence, it was him who started it and pursued me relentlessly until I decided to meet for a coffee. It was that or a restraining order. I gave in to an attraction that I can no longer see. They say that love is blind: it had to be. A balding ginger with smoker’s teeth and a collection of chins. Like, yum. When someone gets with you while they’re with someone else, it says something about them. It says that they’re probably a bit of a cunt. He understood this and during our first date told me that he was a decent bloke trapped in an unhappy relationship. Then finish it, I told him. I will, he said. I promise. What I should’ve done was LISTEN TO MY TRUSTED CHUMS who advised me to give him a wide berth until he’d got rid of his ex. But no… Convinced that this sub-par specimen was The One, I threw myself in, head first. And when he finally told the ex (over a year later and only when I gave him an ultimatum), they continued as nothing had happened and I had to suck it up. It was such a bizarre situation that I inexplicably tolerated. We only saw each other when his ex was away. We never went on holiday, and yet he and the ex went to Germany and Japan. He went away all the time. Just SANS MOI. In retrospect, holidays probably wouldn’t have worked between us as I like maximum heat and tannage.

Inspirational quote: Sun’s out, gingers in.

Mistake 3: Smoking. Irritating as this will sound to current smokers, I can’t believe I ever smoked. It’s disgusting. Despite knowing about the PLETHORA of smoking related illnesses, blah, blah, blah, I still took it up when I was at uni. Then one day, while out on the razz, my mate attempted to talk to me in a noisy bar soon after having a fag. I literally gagged on his breath. In fact, it nearly KILLED ME, which would’ve been ironic, don’t you think? After that, I was OUT.

Inspirational quote: Bad oral leads to no oral. Ever.

Mistake 4: Honesty is the best policy. Listen, I quite like to think that I’m pretty honest as things go, but there are times when telling the truth is a stupid thing to do. Like the time when I dated a massive Star Wars fan and tried to impress him by talking about Dr Spock’s ears, not realising that Star Trek was a different kettle of fish, entirely. When he called me out on not knowing my arse from my elbow, I decided to tell him that Star Wars was a load of shit and that Muriel’s Wedding was infinitely better. Which it is, but did it get me laid? No. Perhaps a good thing. When you think sci-fi, you don’t think, great in bed, do you? I tend to think CLUMSY MISSIONARY and PLEASE TAKE YOUR THREE DAY OLD SOCKS OFF and PLEASE LEAVE MY LIFE IMMEDIATELY.

Inspirational quote: Liar, liar, bum’s on fire.

Mistake 5: Mistaking The Google for a doctor. Listen to me and listen well: if you have any sort of symptom, get yourself down the quacks. Do not - I repeat, DO NOT - search for symptoms online. You know why? Because irrespective of what’s wrong with you, The Google will send you directly to hospital. Or a hospice. You will not pass go. You will not collect two hundred pounds. Every innocent search will return hideous results. That sniffle you’ve got? The Google says you’re riddled. That patch of dry skin on your forehead? The Google thinks it’s probably ebola. I recently investigated what I thought might be Tennis Elbow. Turns out I have a prolapsed vagina. Who knew?

Inspirational quote: An apple a day keeps anyone away if you chuck it hard enough.

Friday, 20 October 2017

The Somewhat Tragic Confessions of a formerly (but perhaps still a little) obsessive Madonna Fan…

Over the years, I’ve often been asked by the odd, bland heterosexual, ‘Why do you gays love Madonna so?’ The answer is simple: it’s because we’re renowned for our fabulous taste. Not all gays love Madge; these people are called liars who are just attention seeking. You know who you are and SHAME ON YOU. *insert sassy z-click as appropriate* I mean, what’s not to like? There have been so many incarnations over her 35 year career that there’s a Madonna for everyone. Every new era brings a new look and a new sound that evolves from the one that went before. There’s a reason that she’s the most successful female artist ever. You can keep your caterwauling divas, your pop tarts and your rock chicks who look as though they could do with a bath. Just give me a large slice of Madge pie and make it snappy. Of course I like a lot of other artists and, like most people, I have an extensive, eclectic range of music cluttering up my iTunes account. It’s just that while I love a lot of stuff, I love my Madge the most. I always have and I always will, ever since I was the age of eight and I watched her dry her armpits on a hand dryer in a dingy club while singing Into The Groove. My love was immediate and unrelenting and for a while in my teens, it was perhaps the stuff of restraining orders or a psychological case study.

While catching up with a friend recently, we looked back at the depths of my inner loon and we laughed. But - just like Madge herself - I’m not the least bit sorry. I’m not your bitch, don’t hang your shit on me, etc.

  1. It’s February 1995. The bleak midwinter, in other words. Where was I? I was in London, wearing only a Madonna t-shirt and a terrible haircut, seemingly fashioned on a spent brillo. I was 150 miles from home standing outside Madonna’s hotel with about 100 other fans, who The Times would describe as ‘bedraggled’ in the the next day’s edition. Front page, bitches. Check me out, etc.  I’d always wanted to stand outside the hotel and get caught up in Madge-related drama and this was my time. Our Glorious Leader was in town to perform Bedtime Story at The Brit Awards. We stood there for hours until she appeared, causing the army of obsessives to go PROPERLY MENTAL as she clambered into her Daimler. Obviously, the mere sight of her almost caused me to have a minor bleed but before I could do this with a modicum of dignity, I was PROPELLED forward by the HEAVING THRONG and found myself REBOUNDING off the passenger door of Madge’s car while she was in it. Basically, SHE RAN ME OVER AND LEFT ME FOR DEAD, which would have been a better headline than what The Times offered. Bedraggled indeed.
  2. Back in the day when record shops existed, I would always make a beeline for the Madge section, even though I already owned everything that they offered. Still, I would do two things religiously: 1. Tidy up her bit; 2. Take a generous handful of her CDs and place them over her SORRY, INFERIOR competition (most of whom are now either dead or obese.) I was once caught doing this in HMV and was asked to leave. Years later, the business collapsed. Karma, I think you'll find that's called. I just wish there was a modern way of doing this in iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, etc. Oh, to be a bandit hacker type person!
  3. As a teen, I would listen to the Late Night Triple play on my local radio station, Trent FM. As the name suggests, it would offer up a trio of songs by one artist - usually syrupy ballads, designed to provide a sonic version of Viagra as listeners would be encouraged to call up and dedicate the section to their lovers. I’m being a total unapologetic bitch when I say that I rang up, requested my three Madonna songs and dedicated it to myself. I was an 18 year old virgin at the time with pretty much zero chance of that changing anytime soon. Mr Palm and his five lovely sons was as jiggy as it got. I could hear the depth of pity in the DJ’s voice as he realised what I was doing but I just DIDN’T CARE. He employed the same tone when he announced it to his listeners over the waves. All four of them. It doesn’t end there: I recorded it (on a cassette!) and took it into Sixth Form the following day where I played it on the communal stereo at full volume during morning break. At the time, everyone was into depressing shite like Nirvana and what they called Grunge: lots of guitar based, unintelligible, fun-free moaning, basically. And not only did I do this, but I acted ALL SURPRISED when my name was read out and TRIED TO MAKE OUT IT WAS LIVE. Hmmm, why was I LIKE A VIRGIN again?
  4. I once had a Madonna jumper which I wore THAT much that it almost bonded itself to my skin. I had so many t-shirts, it was fabulously ridiculous and I wore them with pride. A Madge T-shirt for every occasion. Then one day I came home from university for the summer and discovered that my Mam had turned one of my most prized tops into a DUSTER. She even cut off the arms and the neck to increase its grip-cleaning efficiency. Well, colour me DEVASTATED. The extent of my ensuing strop was disproportionate to say the least. Or was it? Probably not, thinking about it.
  5. Around the age of 15, I sent off for a Madonna mug. I’d wanted - nay needed! - one for years, except they didn’t sell them around my way. My local shop offered women’s magazines, the local newspaper, cigarettes and stale bread. Rubbish. Instead, I used a mail order company advertising in the back pages of the magazine that came with the deservedly-defunct News of the World newspaper. I’m pleased that the paper went out of business - not because it was hacking people left, right and centre, but because the mug NEVER CAME even though the cheque got cashed. The dirty, evil, robbing motherfuckers! That said, even though this was 26 years ago (or thereabouts, not that I’m counting, etc), I still live in hope that it might appear. Or maybe the neighbour took it in and forgot to let me know.
  6. Madonna art. Oh, the hours I spent trying to sketch out the iconic portrait that is the True Blue album cover. Nine times out of ten the finished article looked like someone with bad eyebrows in the midst of a stroke or a tedious orgasm. I once thought it would be a good idea to decorate a wooden chair with all the song titles of her songs. I thought it would look brilliant, but sadly it looked really fucking shit. Mainly because it wasn’t exactly a great idea in the first place, but in terms of its execution, I tried to do bubble writing, which is what all the 14 year old fat slags were doing at the time. I am not good at bubble writing.
  7. As a child, teen and young adult, I wanted a Madonna tattoo. Something tasteful, you know, like The Immaculate Collection album cover trailing down my arm, or perhaps the word LOVED etched into the back of my neck, like Madge has in the What It Feels Like To Be A Girl video, which is one of the best videos in history, closely followed by the OSCAR WORTHY Bad Girl and the bit in the Hung Up video where she walks across the floor on her front bottom. I secretly still would like a tat of her, but let’s face it, I’ve got enough problems as it is. I’m notoriously fickle and not the greatest fan of tattoos to be honest. I might just scrawl Vogue on my thigh in felt tip. At least I can wash it off when I realise how sad I am.
  8. I once re-enacted Like A Virgin from the Blonde Ambition Tour in public. On stage in fact. You know, the version where she simulates having a frig in the name of performance art. And no, I didn’t compromise my artistic integrity, before you ask. In my defence, it was a) for charity and b) I went down a storm. I also accidentally flashed the audience too. Get in. I gave them value for money, much like Madge.
  9. When I was younger, if anyone said anything remotely negative about her, I would immediately HATE that person and privately plot their doom. I once read an article where Roxette (who, up until that point, I quite liked) slagged her off. Moments later, their album went straight in the bin. Spit! These days, I like to think that everyone is entitled to their opinion but be mean about my Madge and I will kill you like a rabid dog in the street and then wazz on your grave. Well, I might not take it that far, but you get the gist.
  10. I once wrote to Madge via the fan club, telling her how marvellous I thought she was. I also offered my services, should she require a chubby fourteen year old to provide questionable backing vocals on, say, her next album or world tour. Thing is though, once I posted the letter (to America of all places! The money I’ve spunked on her!) I started to PROPERLY WORRY what I would do if SHE WROTE BACK, TAKING ME UP ON MY OFFER. I can see it now, ‘Dear Johnny, please come to America at once! I want you to do the third harmony on my great new song called Rain. And if you could ooh and aaah as I rerecord the vocals to Deeper and Deeper, that would be great. Do something else, do my eyebrows. Don’t be a motherfucker. Love, M.’ Yes folks, I honestly thought she might write back to that effect. I spent far too much time panicking about my parents reaction to me telling them that I was dropping out of school at Madge’s request to tour the globe. It would be cathartic, I would tell them. Strangely - and much like the mug - I am still waiting for her to get back to me. Tsk!

Friday, 6 October 2017


Years ago, before the thankless task of education seduced me with it’s promise of endless holidays and thrice weekly strikes, I used to work in industry. In IT in fact. For a big, rancid corporation. People would ask, ‘what do you do for a living?’ and I would say, ‘I work in IT,’ in a hushed tone that didn’t invite further questioning. And even though I would be aloof and would harness my thespian essence to look as though further interrogation might bring on a minor cerebral bleed, they would selfishly press on: ‘Ooh, IT? What does that mean? What do you actually do?’ I would freeze in horror, wondering how I could - in all my lefty glory - say, ‘I manipulate software environments in order to save the reptilian Rupert Murdoch millions of pounds.’ Nor could I tell them that I spent a lot of time hiding in the loo with a pocket sized book or articles printed off the internet, probably entitled, How did it come to this?

There were several things that I detested about my job. Firstly, the role itself, which was more boring than Songs of Praise: The Movie. Secondly, the fact that my commute demanded that I wake up at 5.30am and then have to pootle through the veritable piss-hole that is Greenford in a Nissan Micra. Just awful. Thirdly - and while I loved a few of my colleagues - I had to attend meetings which involved a ridiculous amount of Twat Speak.

If you’re wondering, the corporate world is riddled with such a discourse - a strange, mysterious language based on a blend of pretension and cuntiness that will most likely give you rectal itching. It is the linguistic weapon of choice in corporate meetings. I would feel ridiculously out of place as I would cross out the word ‘agenda’ on the piece of paper that sat before me and scrawl: ‘bollocks that we will boringly chew over before coming to no clear conclusion.’ And that’s what I would do in order to contribute as little as possible to these tedious charades: look busy. I would write endlessly, as though I was taking meticulous notes when really I would be indulging one of my most enduring hobbies - making lists. Food shopping; things that I need to do but never will (such as checking my oil and my tyre pressure - like, yawno!) When I was all listed out, I would decorate my pad with stars or practice alternative signatures, like I did when I was fourteen. Ahem.

This would all be done as a distraction to the plethora of Twat Speak, where we would no longer send an email, but FIRE THEM OFF as though they’re an incendiary North Korean device or a particularly ambitious marital aid. If this wasn’t terrifying enough, we wouldn’t be tipped off or given any advance warning about a communicative firework was heading our way. Oh no, we would be given a HEADS UP, where we would be instructed to not REINVENT THE WHEEL, but to THINK OUTSIDE OF THE BOX. Meanwhile I would furiously scribe a note to my increasingly desperate self that would read, ‘what is wrong with the phrases, think laterally or, please don’t be so fucking obvious, thicko.’ We would not work collaboratively. Nor would we BRAINSTORM. Instead, we would drench our pathetic selves with IDEA SHOWERS. We wouldn’t be ambitious. Why would we be when we could simply employ BLUE SKY THINKING, like any self respecting wanker might? Problems were off the menu. They were now CHALLENGES - even though rebranding them in a more unicorn-friendly way wouldn’t actually change the huge fuck-off calamity heading our way. But fear not! What we needed to do would be to look for things that we could sort out immediately to stop us getting the sack, becoming destitute and having to move to Greenford. This was referred to as a QUICK WIN or picking LOW HANGING FRUIT, which reminded me to add bananas and apples to my food list, even though I would simply place them in a bowl in the kitchen and steal the odd glance at them until they rotted and required binning. Or GARBOLOGISING. Whatever.

In the corporate world, we couldn’t just look at some information, analyse it and then say, ‘Hey dude, looks like we’re fucked. Shall we go to the pub?’ Oh no. We had to do a DEEP DIVE before DRILLING DOWN into the data (often pronounced ‘dayda’) before coming the same inevitable conclusion. And when we were given a list of actions that would take several light years to complete, the boss was unlikely to ask if we could cope with the workload. Instead, he would stand there, looking like a tragic scrotum in drag before asking if we HAD THE BANDWIDTH. As I would flee the often pungent office, gripping my collection of lists and trying not to stab self in the eye with my pen, said boss would encourage me to HIT THE GROUND RUNNING when all I really wanted to do is hit the bottle. Which I always did. Hurrah!       
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