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!


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


It's December 10th 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 already getting pissed to try and get into the spirit. It's not quite working. I'm eleven cans down already.

You see, my parents - my sworn atheist parents - were particularly anti-Christmas - and this battered bauble hasn't rolled very far from the (un)erected 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 Dad decided to wrap mine and my brother's presents directly in front of us. This 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, and pretend it's 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 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. I went to the bar and noticed a limp tree, sitting tragically on the bar, 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.

From here on in, there's no let up: 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. I'm okay with discounted booze, though. I just don't see why it only happens around Christmas. But from August, there's no let up: everywhere you go, it's there - right in your chops. 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 little Tesco the other day, and 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 right twat. Oh, hurray! I'm eating a roast! Let's adorn our heads with wispy coloured paper and pretend that we like each other. Let's pull crackers and feel uncomfortable at rubbish jokes! WHY, people? WHY?

3. Secret Santa. I do it every year. I simmer with secret resentment every time. They set either a rubbish budget, like a fiver, and I wander around the shops feeling all resentful, 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 resentful, thinking how I can spend a tenner better on myself. 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 brown shoes. 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. Don't send me one. I don't really appreciate it - straight in the recycling bin, I'm afraid - and 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 all over the back of your head. 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/flu/chest infection/global-sized coldsore will always appear during advent.

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? 

Thursday, 12 November 2015

The Tedious (Self-Inflicted) Tale of when I Buggered My Shoulder (and not in a good way)

Me, serving hospital Vogue realness. Perhaps.

2006: A hefty hand shoved me, jolting me into semi-consciousness. It took me a few, long moments to work out what was happening and where I was. A quick scan of the environment led to a period of confusion and then things started to fall into place. Everything was spinning. I fought back a violent compulsion to be sick.

This is what I knew:

1. I was devastatingly pissed. Hammered beyond belief. But twelve pints of Kronenberg on an empty stomach will do that to you, apparently.

2. The rough, oversized hand that roused me belonged to a bouncer, who looked less than impressed at the state of me.

3. The state of me was mortifying to say the least: my last shred of dignity had absconded as I had passed out while pissing into a urinal. My face was attached to some grim white porcelain tiles that looked as though they hadn't ever seen a bottle of bleach. As I tried to manoeuvre my mush, it made a suctioning sound and I winced - partly because the mother and father of all hangovers was kicking in and partly because a quick glance south revealed my trousers to be languishing around my ankles. My belt was resting soundly in the depths of the urinal, my pants were halfway down my thighs and naturally, my unmentionables were on display for all to see. I was effectively flashing the fiercely-heterosexual bouncer. 

4. I was unable to speak. I refer you to point one in this confession as to the reason why. That didn't stop me from trying and as I slurred an apology to the bouncer, he asked me if I was Polish. I tried to say no. My response made him then think that I was Russian.

5. I was in a pub somewhere in Central London. I had no idea where though. I'd been feeling sorry for myself earlier on in the day as my recent relationship split began to take its toll. The full extent of everything Gary had done weighed heavily on my mind. He'd left me broke, figuratively and literally. He'd cleaned me out and managed to take everything from me. I was having to start again. I'd lost my home and was confined to a bedsit in a house that comprised half a dozen weirdoes whose favourite pastime, it seemed, was to shed as many pubes in the shower and then spectacularly fail to clean them up. Fuck it, I thought, I'll go and get pissed. Mission accomplished, some might say.

This is what happened next:

I attempted to bend down and pull up my jeans. Needless to say, I fell forward, causing the top of my head to slam into the urinal. I rebounded and then fell backwards, my bare arse making contact with the puddle of piss that surrounded my feet. This did nothing to appease the bouncer, who failed to see the funny side as he wrenched me to my feet and frog marched me out of the bar. Bits still out. It was only as he released me into the cold November night that I realised that walking unaided was problematic. Somehow I gathered myself, hid my special place from public view and found my bearings. I was around the back of Leicester Square. It was late but the streets were packed. As I staggered to the tube station, crowds of people parted. Like Moses and the Red Sea, I like to tell myself. Perhaps not though: halfway up China Town my head lolled forwards and I threw up. I can't remember that bit in the Bible. Not that I've read it. 

Eventually I got myself to Leicester Square tube station. I clung on to the rail as I wobbled down the first flight of stairs. I rounded the corner and stopped momentarily as I regarded the rest of my descent: two more flights with a slight landing separating them. Concrete with a brass trim on the edge of each one. I stepped forward and fell as my hand totally failed to grasp the rail. The rest of the memory comes to me in waves... I recall hearing screaming (which was possibly me)... I remember it taking a long time to get to the bottom... I went down the first flight with such gusto, that I cleared the landing and then went straight down the next lot like a sack of spuds... A vivid thought ran coolly through my mind as this happened: when you finally get to the bottom, I told myself, just get up and walk off, as though you meant to do it on purpose. Style it out. Let people think you're a stuntman.The only problem with my master plan was that I'd dislocated my shoulder and fractured my right arm. It was with this arm that I tried to get up, which meant that I fell on my face, knocking myself clean out. Beautiful.

The merciful blackness cleared moments later. I was flat on my back and a lovely little bloke was on his knees, straddling me and holding a bunch of tissues to the bottom of my chin. Apparently it was pouring with blood. I was confused and didn't quite know what was happening. But here's the good news: I was now able to speak.

Me: Excuse me, but what do you think you're doing?
Man: Mr John! Mr John! It's all okay! An ambulance is coming!
Me: Why? 
Man: You need to go to hospital.
Me: I don't. I need to go to Burger King and get the train home. 
Man: No, no, no, Mr John. You need to go to hospital. Your face is broken...
Me: It's normally like that, don't worry.
Man: No, it's bleeding. It's bleeding lots. And your arm is at a funny angle, Mr John.
Me: Hang on, how do you know my name?
Man: I looked in your wallet.
Me: I hope you didn't steal anything.
Man: Hahahahaha! There was nothing to steal.
Me: Oh. 

Fast forward fifteen minutes, and I was being stretchered out of the tube station, waving at the scathing onlookers with my one functional arm. Before long, I'd been plonked in A&E, but not before the paramedics had cut my favourite rugby top clean off. I sat there, horribly hung over as my belly spilled over my jeans which were covered in my own blood and a pub full of other people's piss. With my left arm, I managed to fish my mobile phone out of my pocket. Sadly, it hadn't survived the fall. The only number I could recall was Becky's land line. Thank God she picked up and thank God that she came to rescue me at two in the morning. A proper guardian angel. She will never know how grateful I am. She was there as they stitched my chin back together and filled me with laughing gas before shoving my shoulder back into its socket. She took me back to hers and looked after me. I have no idea what I would've done had it not been for her.

In the immediate aftermath, I was signed off work for five weeks and had to undergo intensive physiotherapy. Everything was a struggle in those first few months: I couldn't cook for myself; I couldn't drive and my injured arm was strapped to my chest, which meant that walking was terrifying - I constantly felt off-balance and thought I was going to fall over. I couldn't even wipe my own arse properly. Nice, eh? Sleeping was a nightmare (pun intended) as I usually slept on my right side. There were nights where I would wake with a crippling pain in my shoulder as I tried to assume my natural position, mid-slumber. 

The night lives on in my memory and it has morphed into one of those where I can look back and laugh. And it's one where I learned a massive lesson: never, ever go out with a fat man called Gary. 

Friday, 10 July 2015

Please Fire Me...

Fortunately, I can say that I love my job and to that end I'm lucky. I'd like to think that what I do makes a difference and I've never felt job satisfaction like it. But it's not always been this way. In the past, I've had some terrible jobs. Like the employment equivalent of Ebola. Okay, maybe I'm being a tad dramatic (hurrah!) but you get the picture. When I recently stumbled across a website called Please Fire Me, I could relate on many levels. Simply stated. it contains lashings of vignettes from people who have had a really shit day at work for whatever reason and feel like killing themselves. As I scrolled through the various offerings, I chortled and guffawed and began to turn my thoughts back to the many, many terrible jobs that I have undertaken in my life... Had the page existed back then, I would have sent in the following top ten:

1. Please fire me: I work at Kwiksave, which is tragic enough, what with it's burgundy tunic, Victorian wage structure and and questionable patrons. Ugh. But that notwithstanding, I have just accidentally stabbed myself at work with an blunt knife that I was using to open a box of Stork Margarine. My boss is making me buy my own plasters and antiseptic cream, but pay day isn't until tomorrow and the bastard refuses to sub me.

2. Please fire me: I am a babysitter for various families and one of the children has just found her mother's (or possibly father's) vibrator. It has a curly black hair attached to the top and it is MASSIVE (the vibrator, not the hair.) It came in handy though, as the remote control on the television stopped working halfway through the evening, so I swapped the batteries over and then used half a bottle of Dettol on my hands. I don't want to get pregnant or syphilis, do I? I have enough problems as it is, thanks very much.

3. Please fire me, although to be honest, I think my wish might just come true: when the parents of another family I babysit for said, 'Help yourself!' I don't think they meant for me to help myself to the rest of the children's Easter eggs, half a loaf of bread and a packet of biscuits. 

4. Please fire me: I work in a video store. It smells of rancid feet and I have to do twelve hour shifts where I am stuck in the back of the shop. There is little to no sunlight and I finish each stretch with the sad promise of rickets and a ghoulish pallor. My boss doesn't speak much English, but he knows the phrase, 'you fatty bum bum.' When he rattles this off, he has a tendency to poke me in the love handle with a chewed biro while laughing and baring his off-brown teeth that look like a burned-down fence. His English always seems to improve at about ten thirty at night when he will call me at home and want to know why the till is 43 pence out (yes, really) or why his stock take shows that there are six Mars Bars missing (probably because I ate them. In one sitting.) When I try and explain why - through the art of lying - his English fails him until he comes up with another of his well worn phrases: 'I take it out your wage pay!' Which is fine, I will just make up the deficit by pilfering more chocolate based confectionery or, most likely, just taking it directly out of the till. 

5. Please fire me: I am a recruitment consultant. Please stop laughing. 

6. Please fire me: I work in a sewage treatment plant. It smells like holy doom and I spend all day talking to old people who have accidentally flushed their cat down the toilet and want to know why they are knee deep in four day old excrement and spent Tena-lady thingies. I don't really know what to say, so I will hang up on them and hide in the kitchen so that some other colleague / sucker picks up when they ring back, usually quite angry that the previous call handler sniggered at their plight. 

7. Please fire me: I work in a gastro-pub near where my student digs are. I finish late and often miss the bus home, which means I have to walk down a country road that I believe is only used by people whose hobbies include murder, GBH and the general pillage of chubby youths. One of my bosses is slightly over-friendly and the other shouts at me after she catches me eating one of the bread rolls. They cost four pence each apparently and if she catches me scoffing them again, she will deduct it from my wages. A whole four pence. She has a face like a blistered piss-pot, which possibly explains why she is such a rotten, unhappy person. 

8. Please fire me: I have recently graduated and have found gainful employment in a West-End theatre where everyone is vicious and anorexic. I have spun my job (to friends and family) in such a vague way that they would be forgiven for thinking that I am top billing in Mamma Mia. In reality, I rip tickets and direct people to the toilet. Oh, and we're expected to do a little dance at the end of the night and I can never get the moves right. I shimmy when everyone shakes. I clap when people throw their arms aloft. I go left when everyone goes right. I often stumble and have actually landed on an old person who licked me. And I do this six days out of seven for a WHOPPING £125 a week.

9. Please fire me: I have liberated myself from my West-End nightmare but have hopped from the frying pan into a raging inferno. Question: when you need a new vacuum cleaner, do you consult the Argos catalogue, Currys or similar, or do you simply wait for the phone to ring and hope the sap on the other end of the phone desperately tries to to flog you one? Duties include calling random people from eight year old Thomson directories and going through a script that is so bad, it gives you a tick that will keep you awake at night. I am expected to illuminate the person on the other end of the blower as to the features and benefits of a five-wheeled vacuum made in Korea. It won't fall over when you pull it around a corner! Phew! It's extremely quiet (on account of the fact that it probably doesn't work) and it's attachments are environmentally friendly. The script does not elaborate as to how, but that doesn't matter. By the time I get to that part, I've usually been told to eff-off or been hung up on in a similar manner to an elderly person on the phone to a sewage treatment plant wanting to know why yesterday's poo is staring at her from the bottom of the stairs. Karma really is a bitch, eh?

10. Please fire me: I have leapt from raging inferno directly into the lake of fire and brimstone. I am working in PR. PR, darling! I took the job thinking that I would be the new Edina Monsoon. Okay then, Bubble. I thought I would be schmoozin' and boozin' with the great and the good. This is not the case. I spend my days in a strange storage room in West London while the boss tells me that I look tired and that she couldn't possibly pimp me out to clients, 'looking like you do.' I am forced to talk to disinterested journalists about hand held tills and other things that I have no clue about until one day, after she discovers a particularly cruel/accurate email about her (that I have written) she sacks me. Just before Chrimble time. Best present ever! Wish granted. 

Thursday, 19 February 2015

B*stard - an excerpt..


There is a room in a school. As rooms go, this one is pretty nondescript. Once upon a time, it used to be a class room, but now it’s an office. As such, it’s too big for the cheap, functional furniture inside and the décor is too bland to garner much attention. The walls boast layers upon layers of magnolia paint, slapped on over the years by disinterested painters far too jaded to bother about the job in hand. No care has been taken where the walls meet the floor. Dried globules of spilt paint pepper the edges of the regulation carpet that is threadbare in patches. A plastic bin, too small to conceal the wear, has been placed over one of the bald spots. A circular table, littered with coffee rings, discarded stationery, school books and meaningless paperwork, is jarringly placed off-centre to disguise another.

This is the table where meetings take place; where staff, parents and Sixth Formers come to be talked at, belittled and patronised. This is the table where no one likes to sit. There is a smell that hangs in the air; the aroma of years of overcooked vegetables, cheap cuts of meat in various guises and failed experimental cuisine from the canteen below have combined to permeate every cell of the room. Add to this the lingering whiff of years of unwashed parents and bedraggled teenagers who have pissed, spewed and breathed their anxiety into the fabric of the room. The lemon air freshener in the centre of the table doesn't stand a chance.

A fridge gently hums to itself in one corner. This is the sound that visitors try and zone in on when they are summoned to the room to be shouted or talked at. In the other corner, a desk has been placed diagonally to give maximum impact. Another patch of worn carpet radiates from the floor directly in front of it. X marks the spot. This is where subjects stand to be dressed down when things have gone wrong, when rules have been transgressed, when objectives and unrealistic, often impossible targets, have not been met.

A withered plant is slumped against the permanently locked windows, which partially explains the stench. Locked windows and defunct flowers symbolise something else; something intangible but understood nonetheless. There is nothing of warmth here. The picture of the trophy wife, positioned on the desk so that it is visible to everyone but the occupier of this room, exposes the real motive of its presence.

Other achievements are proudly on display but raise more questions and eyebrows than anything else: there is a glass cabinet which acts as testament to the devotion of former subjects. The rotting fruits of a twenty year teaching career are on show here: five mugs which scream 'BEST TEACHER EVER', 'NUMBER ONE TEACHER' and so on are presented in a reverse pyramid. Look closely and you'll notice that the one at the back is chipped, but what does that matter? No one drinks from these mugs anyway. This is the only shelf that is ever dusted regularly.

Scan the room and you'll notice other testaments to whimsical accomplishments. Hanging from the walls in small, inexpensive clip frames are certificates that prove that the resident-in-chief can administer minor first aid. Or at least they could three years ago. This person can direct people appropriately in the optimistic outbreak of a fire. This person once narrowed a gap, sometime, some place, somewhere. This person has an NVQ in risk and conflict management, although how he passed that course is a mystery, since aggression is what he thrives upon.

These accreditations are designed to show that the person who sits here knows their stuff. They are designed to demonstrate awareness, knowledge and therefore reinforce his questionable authority. The certificates are upstaged by a vast wall planner, spanning each day of the academic year that is about to begin. Even the wall planner shows early signs of fatigue. The whole thing has been put up at an angle, which conflicts with the uniform straightness of the certificates. The top right hand corner has come unstuck and curled over on itself, revealing a lump of overused Blu-Tak that has traces of magnolia paint attached to it. In short, the planner is unreadable and unusable in its current state.

So much is planned for this year, although you wouldn't think so to look at the chart: if you choose to push back its wilting corner you would see that it is untouched, except for one entry: The birthday of the Head of Sixth Form, the resident of the room in question. December twenty-fifth. Sharing a birthday with the saviour would be fitting if he hadn't converted away from Christianity to bag a teen bride.

Such cynical observations, it could be argued, are superfluous. Beyond the aesthetic, something deeper is happening in this room. This is a room where an internal ideology is being thrashed out. 

This is a place where an ego is constructing an Empire.

This is a place where miracles happen.


Sunday, September 4th, 1994
Hello. Good day. Whatever. Ahem.

My name is Sebastian, although that’s not how I’m commonly known. My family call me Sebby or Sebs and will even run to Sebastian if they’re blaming me for something that my brother has done, which happens all the time. Spit. At Sixth Form - where I am halfway through a two year sentence for crimes against English Literature, Politics and Geography - it’s a different story. Most people are given a nickname, which is either a variation of their proper name or a tribute to an unfortunate physical attribute. For example, a lad called Justin has been renamed Jugs. However, Tabitha, the golden girl, has also been reinvented as Jugs. The universe has conspired to link them romantically, so conversations involving them can be confusing. They really ought to be called Twatty and Twitchy, but what I say doesn’t tend to go. Rubbish.

The renaming brigade haven’t neglected the teachers: we have Honey Monster (who is an exact replica of the creature that adorns the packets of Sugar Puffs); Rocket-Tits (massive boobs PHSE teacher), Flat-Baps (no boobs music teacher), Moose (unfortunately faced geography teacher), Chip Pan Charlie (sour-faced, greasy-haired chemistry teacher and Head of Sixth Form), and Slab-Cracker (obese cookery teacher, who eats more than she teaches.)

My nickname isn’t particularly endearing. At school, I’m not Sebby, Sebs or even Sebastian. Oh no. On my first day in year seven I was Christened Sebastard, but now I’m just referred to - wholesale - as Bastard. Even by some of the teachers. Who are complete bastards.

If that wasn’t bad enough, people tend to judge me because of my hair. Well, I’m sorry, but it just grows like that. Maybe one day in the future, before they invent wheel-free cars, teleporting and big brothers who don't read your private things (Harry, if you're reading this, I know where your porn is hidden. Particularly like how you keep a toilet roll next to your stash. Classy. I just hope you've washed your hands before reading this.)

Where was I? Oh yes, there I was, optimistically hoping that a new dawn will bring hair that grows conventionally, and not just out in a wiry, direct line, irrespective of the gravitational pull of the New Moon. Sharon, who does something to my Mam's barnet every third Wednesday of the month, will often tug at clumps of my hair and shout, 'Innit tufty?' to anyone who cares to listen. She once found it hilarious that her cheap and nasty clippers wouldn't cut into my hair. I sat there, looking like an embarrassed pervert as she howled with laughter and chipped away at my skull with clippers that refused to do their job. 'I need t'get some shears on this tufty head, dun’ I?' she hooted. A woman sitting next to me with baby-pink curlers in her hair laughed, although I don't know how she dared: she had no teeth. Sharon may as well have gone for the shears option. I actually think that if she used plastic cutlery on my head - and wouldn't put it past her - the end result would look the same. Pervert haircut, just shorter. No wonder I'm a virgin. Which is ridiculous. I am EIGHTEEN.

So here are a few things about me:

1. My name is Sebastian/Bastard. Call me what you like. Today is my eighteenth birthday. Happy birthday to me, tra-la-laaa! I wanted a really cool jacket for my birthday. I got a coat, but it is not cool. It’s also too big for me, so I look like a cross between a porky flasher and an ambitious shoplifter. Apparently, I’ll grow into it, according to the givers of said item (Mam and Dad.) I might accidentally lose it or spill some bleach down it. Mam could tell that I wasn’t happy and went off on one, accusing me of being ungrateful. Am I? Am I really? Either way, I blame the parents. On and on she went, like some kind of venting dervish, telling me that there are plenty of kids out there who don’t have (terrifyingly ugly) coats. In which case, I shall happily donate my clothing hideousness to them. See how they like it. Happy now, mother?

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

3. I go to Sixth Form. It's rubbish. Well, my first year at Sixth form was. My second year starts tomorrow. I’ll keep you posted as to how it goes. I’m not holding out much hope that it’ll be any better, although I’m looking forward to a school trip in February. Eastern Europe, can you believe? I’ve never actually been abroad before, so I’m disproportionately excited, even though I have to go with a load of people I don’t really like apart from my two best mates, Kenny and Andy. I shall just ignore everyone else or make friends with Hungarians and Czechoslovakians. I don’t care if they’re third worldly. I’m a socialist, after all.

4. Sixth Form smells. And the Sixth Form Base is depressing. It looks like a drop in centre for social misfits, which is probably why I go there. It's okay though because I get to LEAVE at the end of this academic year. Liberation in T-minus nine months and counting. Tickity tock.

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

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

7. Things I do: Er... My A levels. I watch a lot of MTV at Andy's house in between lessons. We sometimes steal his Dad's whiskey and then fill it back up with water so we don’t get found out. I think we need to start using a tea bag though, as it's starting to look like vodka. I don't like vodka. It tastes like meths and it’s a slippery slope from there: vodka -> meths -> hanging around the graveyard like a proper tramp, pervert hair all long and wild, possibly playing an instrument of some sort (triangle? Xylophone?) while hoping that a sympathetic public will toss me a few coins so that I can buy more meths or bootlegged booze that will probably send me blind. What a lovely vision of the future.

What else do I do? Oh yes, I work at a supermarket called ShitSave. It's actually called KwikSave (that took some working out, huh?) but working there is shit. And the pay is shit. And the uniform is totally degrading: a shapeless burgundy tunic that wouldn't look out of place in a 1970s Bulgarian gin-house. It's like the woman in the uniform department got her hands on a load of crusty old curtains, a knackered sewing machine and had what she thought was a brainwave. Well it wasn't a brainwave. It looks like I'm dressed in a dead person's mattered blood. What with that and the toilet brush hair... Pie Jesu, why have thou forsaken me?

I also work at a Working Man's Club at the weekends, which I like. We have a right laugh and we're allowed to drink behind the bar. It's just a shame that 99% of the customers are twats. Oh, and there is a ‘committee’ there too, who are responsible for making decisions regarding the running of the place. Personally, I think it's an excuse for the regulars to get together and pretend that they're important. People who are on the committee think they're in the effing mafia. Refusal to comply with their demands is met with a curt, 'BUT I'M ON THE COMMITTEE!' as though I'm going to hit the deck and give them ten. It's embarrassing. Get a life, me duck.  It's not Ten Downing Street, it's a working man's club where the beer is cheap, the wine tastes like moonshine and the jukebox makes you want to kill yourself.

Every week, they have an artist on. These people have clearly spent lots of time thinking up a name for themselves but it ultimately ends in a cringe-fest as the posters say that tonight's act is DOUBLE TROUBLE or ACE OF SPADES or BLACK CRUSH or my own personal favourite, BIG WENDY. Whoever it is, it's usually someone who purports to being a singer. I don't know what it is that they're doing on that stage, but it's not singing. It's like they're trying to communicate with the dead by making sounds that only dogs can hear. I'd throw ice cubes at them (look at me, ever the rebel), but as the PE teacher once said to me, I throw, 'like a total spastic.' Give me a knife, Sir, and let me try aiming at you. Bet I'd hit the target then.

8. I like making lists, much like this one. It is soothing. Expect more of them.

9. Everyone is a twat today.

10. TWAT.


Monday, 5th September 1994
Day one of Sixth Form was just as I expected it to be: mundane and pretty pointless. We didn’t have to start until eleven as the first few hours were given over to the new Lower Sixth. When we arrived, we had an assembly where we (the Upper Sixth), were told to look after the newbies and give them lots of friendly help and advice. Mine would be to leave now and enrol in a proper college, before it’s too late. Kenny kept nudging me throughout the assembly which made me want to laugh. I ended up vibrating my way through the proceedings with the odd short, sharp intake of breath thrown in so that I didn’t die. I received several withering looks from Chip Pan Charlie, who clearly hasn’t discovered shampoo or a sense of humour during the summer holidays. I spent lunchtime at Andy’s house, where we toasted the new academic year with a whiskey from his Dad’s drinks cabinet and watched some MTV.

The afternoon was a bit hum-drum. First, we all had a stern talking to by Chip Pan Charlie which can be paraphrased in the following way: work until your fingers bleed or prepare for a life of destitution. Karl Marx - a personal hero of mine - harped on a lot about the impending revolution. Sorry, Karl, but I’m getting bored of waiting. Das Kapital should have had timescales included. We were given our timetables (hurrah: free period last thing on a Friday) and that was about it. Came home, argued with Dad and had pie and chips for dinner. What a thrilling existence I lead.


Saturday 10th September 1994
Hideous day at work today. Hideous. I shitting hate ShitSave. Rather than stack shelves, I had to stack refrigerators, which is just as dull as stacking normal shelves, except it’s significantly colder. I have developed strange compulsions to break delicate foodstuffs and damage things. I wonder if there is a syndrome for this? I hope not. The last thing I need is a syndrome attached to me. This morning, the chilled puddings took a bit of a hammering and I managed to successfully stick my finger through several yoghurt lids. Karl Marx (peace be upon him) would be proud. Although possibly not, if he was against waste: the yoghurts had to be chucked. Collateral damage.

During tea break, Mr Davies, my supervisor and a bit of a dwarf, it has to be said, called me boring. And why? Because when asked, I said that lesbians don't turn me on. He thinks lesbians are 'fucking brilliant' and says that he had several threesomes when he went to Ibiza. With lesbians. I highly suspect he is lying because:

1.       He kept stuttering when trying to recall details and his eyes roamed all over the place, like Charlie off Casualty.
2.       It seems unlikely. What self-respecting lesbian sleeps with a dwarf man? He is undeniably masculine and not in a good way. Even his fingers need a comb.
3.       He has bad breath. If the penis doesn't put the lesbian off, the breath surely will. It could curdle milk, which is probably why he has put me on the fridge aisle.

Mr Davies' fandom for all things homosexual is not all-inclusive, though. While he raves (and spits a bit while he does so) about how brilliant lesbians are, he thinks that gay men are ‘wrong.’ Wrong about what, he didn't elaborate, although it doesn't take a genius to work it out, which is just as well because we were sitting in a packed ShitSave staff room. I found myself zoning in on the overflowing ashtrays as everyone seemed to look at me for a response when he said this. Don't know why.

I spent the afternoon fingering more yoghurts. How's that for lesbianism, Mr Davies? Which means your shrinkage rate will go up. Which means they'll sack you and you won't be able to afford to go on your fictitious lesbian holidays where all the lesbians aren't lesbians, but are really dwarf-man and bad breath enthusiasts.

I missed the bus home so walked over the River Peal, which always freaks me out. Not only is the path / dirt track covered in dog shit, but I'm completely convinced that I will get murdered, or someone I pass will get murdered and I'll be wrongly convicted of the crime. Fortunately, I didn't get murdered; I made it home, watched some crap telly and argued with Harry and Dad. Fascists. I bet they don't think lesbians are boring.

Started thinking about the prospect of university today. Where shall I go? London sounds pretty appealing. I used to love going on coach trips to the capital when I was younger, although my overriding memory is that of spewing up after drinking some feral orange juice. It tasted bad and had to come out of one orifice or another. Poor Mam and Sally; they had to walk around all day with a kid covered in his own amber-tinged puke. It was a good day. Definitely not boring.

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


Monday 12th September 1994
I knew that I should’ve gone to college not sodding Sixth Form. We’ve only been back a week and I already feel compelled to self-harm with a loaf of crusty bread. When I signed up, no one told me that it’s basically an extension of what school was like – where the lessons are so boring it often feels like time has stopped and most of the teachers still talk to you like you’re an inconvenience. Or vermin. That said, there are some good teachers. Mr Capston, my English teacher, is a good egg. He gets me. And he always gives me good marks. But there are some terrible knuckle shufflers there too.

The Head of Sixth Form - step forward, Chip Pan Charlie - is arguably the worst human I have ever come across. A couple of years ago, he taught both GCSE and A Level, but in more recent years he has gone from Deputy Head of Sixth to the overall Head of Sixth and in doing so, he appears to have lost his sense of perspective. He thinks that his job is up there with that of Head of the United Nations - although why he models himself on some kind of despotic fuckwad is anyone’s guess. Huge ego, small penis and a lonely lifetime spent with zero friends, I reckon.

Rather hilariously, he often refers to the Sixth Form as HIS Sixth Form. His mantra is never far from his thin, spiteful lips: ‘This is MY Sixth Form and in MY Sixth Form, what I say GOES.’ If someone disagrees with him, his rallying cry can be heard within a fifty mile radius: ‘No one says no to Mister Charlesworth!’ Two things about this: 1. I hope he never gets accused of sexual assault. It would be a shabby defence. 2. I have no idea why he talks about himself in the third person. He’s not a rapper. Shabba!

Not only is he intrinsically repulsive, but physically he would probably come second to the Elephant Man in a beauty contest. His hair is worse than mine and he’s always got food down his comedy tie. And to think, they let him work with children.

Throughout my six and a bit years at school/Sixth Form, I’ve had the misfortune to have a few run-ins with him. His nephew was in my year before he disappeared to go to college at the end of Year Eleven. The same nephew once spat in my face for a dare. I told Mr Charlesworth and he inferred that it was my fault, as I must have provoked him in some way. I argued my point; that I hadn’t actually done anything to him - I genuinely hadn’t. But because I argued, he kept me behind after school. When I complained to the head of year, he increased it to a week’s worth of detentions. When Dan Rollings threw a sandwich at me one day, I picked it up and threw it back. Chip Pan Charlie saw the whole thing and yet it was only me who was made to stay behind and sweep the floor of the hall. When I got my my GCSE results and applied to do A Levels, he told me that my results were a fluke and that lightning didn’t strike twice.

During the last year of my GCSEs, I had to go into his classroom to fetch a board rubber. He was teaching at the time. As I left, I shut the door and heard a slight mutter from Chip Pan Charlie, followed by laughter. Later on, I found out that he had made a reference to me having, ‘a fat arse.’ Chip Pan Charlie shouldn’t have put his telephone number in the phone book. That night, I ordered him three taxis and a pizza. I have just ordered him another one. The woman on the phone asked me if I wanted any side orders with it. I wish I could’ve ordered him a bucket of cat piss, but that’s not on the menu. So in addition to the family-sized pepperoni pizza, he’s getting garlic bread and chicken wings. Bet he eats it. Hope so. Then his arse can get fatter than mine.

Told Harry about my plan to annoy / fatten up Chip Pan Charlie. He’s in. He even offered to put a brick through his car windscreen. Where can I get bricks from? Wish they sold them at ShitSave. He even suggested that we order him a ton of coal and request that it be tipped straight on his driveway. Brilliant idea.

This is how the Sixth Form social strata is made up: there are two year groups - lower and upper sixth. You have the Cool Clan, who spend their time being hilarious and right on. They wear the right clothes, have non-pervert hair and quote comedy programmes to compensate for their terrifying lack of personality. Ugh.

In addition to the Cool Clan, you have the God Squad, who sit around talking about Jesus and how great the Bible is; how Madonna is a hell-bound whore and how they are pleased that they’re all virgins, which is a LIE. Who, aged seventeen or eighteen is PLEASED that they’re a virgin? I’m not. The God Squad are mortally offended by the Couples Clan, who spend all their time groping each other and trying to conceal erections and pointy nipples. When they’re not snogging, they talk about all the sex that they’re having. This seems dreadfully unfair. And then in various corners, you have the drifters, who take music very seriously, refuse to use soap, and grow their greasy hair to ridiculous lengths. I don’t fit in with any of them. When I have a free period, I tend to float towards Andy’s house where we pilfer his dad’s booze and dissect music videos.

Chip Pan Charlie pulled me and Andy into the office today to bollock us. Apparently there was a fire alarm and we weren’t in school, so they all panicked because we may have been inside, burning to death. Except it was a practise alarm, so there was no chance of being involuntarily cremated. He didn’t like this when I pointed it out. He exhaled a laboured sigh and told me not to give him any lip. Then Andy hiccoughed and Chip Pan Charlie shouted at us to GET OUT of his office. With pleasure. Why do they tease us with practice fire alarms? Why can’t the place just do us a favour and burn down? I am going to wish on a star for the place to perish.

For God’s sake, I am eighteen years old. I have legal rights. I have two jobs. I have two friends, three if you count Carol, the fifty nine year old librarian. People think she’s scary but she’s not. She’s funny and she thinks the Cool Clan are arseholes too. When I dropped the school camcorder and it smashed into smithereens last year, she covered for me. A true mate. She once told me that I had come to bed eyes, which was nice of her, but the moment was ruined by Tracey who overheard her and said that I didn’t; that I actually had scary eyes. Great. Pervert hair and scary eyes. I am counting the days until I leave. Until then, I will continue to order pizzas, taxis and coal for those who cross me.

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