Saturday, 18 February 2017

Alternative Career: Sandwich Van Operative...

Pros: Back in the days when I worked in an office, there were often times when the general malaise could only be broken by the jolly toot-toot of the sandwich van's horn as it pulled up outside - a sound not unlike that of a nuclear fallout alarm and one which had a similar effect: upon hearing said sound, someone (usually a chubby knacker such as self) would inevitably shout, ‘SAAAAANDWICH VAN!’ as though their lives had been saved at the eleventh hour or they’ve just won a tenner at bingo. Or something. Whatever.

Everyone would then abandon the good ship work and hot-foot it to the van, exclaiming, ‘last one there gets the warm black cherry yoghurt,’ or, ‘bagsy I get the last tuna and onion baguette,’ or in my case, ‘get the fuck out of my fucking way you fucking fat fucker.’ A commotion would then occur as people scrambled for their favourite tasty treat. Think Black Friday sales where people stab each other and stamp on pensioners in Asda over a cheap telly or a sweaty bag of onions. Double it. Even then, you're nowhere the chaos that the Sandwich Van's wares inspire.

That jolly toot-toot brings out the very best and the very worst in people, trust me.

There’s also been many a time when I’ve felt envious of said Sarnie Van Driver. Rather than return to the coal face with my warm can of Diet Coke and my tepid black cherry yoghurt, I’ve wanted to hop into the van and pootle around office car parks myself, bringing a wealth of smiles, calorific treats and an unspoken nur nur ne nur nur because I haven’t got to go back into an office and listen to people eat crisps and suck their fingers like the rotten heathens that they probably are. Just think: all those sweaty cheese rolls at my disposal. More Kit Kat Chunkies than you can shake a stick at. The open road. As much Magic FM as I can handle. Helping the nation get their five a day and a soggy biscuit on the side that I would serve with a knowing wink. I’d be giving back. Making a difference. I’d be my own boss. My own comestible-related empire. And I’d call it something childlishly suggestive like Baps Out.

Cons: I’m not great at mental maths, so I’d probably charge one person four pounds and six shillings for a packet of ready salted crisps and another person three new pence for a veritable schmorgasboard that could satisfy the appetites of a family called Porky-Drawers. Oh well. Also, where do I get a special van from? Or could I just chuck everything in a cool bag and serve people out of the back of my lovely little car? Of course I could. Hmmm, but what about my arteries? Surely they’re gonna take a hammering, as will my profit margin. Putting me in charge of food is a bit like giving cherries to pigs.

Chances: When can I start? Oink!

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

10 Signs That I am Getting Older...

1. Youth-speak. Ridiculous, amusing and terrifying in equal measure. This week a ten year old sucked his teeth and said to me, ‘Innit that Big Sean is sick?’
'Is Sean your friend?' I asked. 'Sorry to hear that he's poorly. Has he got this cough that's been doing the rounds? Tell him to get his mum to buy him some Benylin.'

My concern was met with a face full of sneering guffaws as my obvious ancientness was cruelly exposed: it turns out that this Big Sean chap is a rapper. And he's not ill either: sick means cool apparently. How distasteful. How wrong. How SICK. Proper sick! Ill-sick! Get them all to boot camp and teach them slang that doesn’t give me rectal itching, if you please.

2. Youth attire. Pull your fucking trousers up or at least wear some nicer underpants. Why would you wear your britches around your ankles? Surely it must be like running the three legged race by yourself? And that’s just STUPID. And if they're not wearing their jeans halfway down their legs, they're wearing 'skinny fit' jeans, which is also an abomination if they're a bloke. IT DOES NOT LOOK GOOD. I'm all up for equal everything, but I draw the line at leggings, which is what they look like.

3. I have just reviewed the Top 40. I can hum ONE song. And that’s the Little Mix song, which I know because I am a rubbish gay. The rest is just noise. NOISE, I tell you. So much shouting over a tune-free backing. What on earth has happened to the HIT PARADE? And this Drake fellow that everyone goes on about? I'm not sure I get it? He sounds like a Darlek after a few tequilas.

4. Technology has left me behind. My touch screen phone is that complicated that answering the phone is stressful enough to induce a minor stroke. It does things that I don’t want it to. Eg. It tells me the weather when all I want to do is text someone. Or I’ll be on the phone (to Help the Aged, most probably) and it will decide to put me on hold and then dial someone else. The only way I can remedy the problem is by turning everything off, removing the battery (whilst sweating profusely and swearing like a navvy) and then turning it all back on several hours later when I’ve got my breath back… I yearn for simpler times. Yoghurt pots connected with cotton. Carrier pigeons. Ice pops. Rationing. Crisp sandwiches. My Aunty Eileen’s jam tarts that taste of sawdust and induce an asthma attack even if you don’t have asthma. A Ten pence mix that now seems dangerously unhygienic on reflection… Hmmm.

5. I make the old man sound when I sit down. You know the one: one part death rattle, one part mediocre orgasm, one part wet fart, two parts creaking yelp.

6. The realisation that I’ve been alive in five decades… 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s. Fuck and bugger. I bought my first record (There Must Be An Angel Playing With My Heart) thirty two years ago… I can feel the buzzards circling above, I swear…

7. I MUCH prefer Radio 2 and LBC to Radio One and Capital, which just broadcast SHOUTY NOISE. And I secretly love a bit of Magic FM.

8. The idea of going clubbing makes me itch. And not in a good way… All that DUFF-DUFF-DUFF rubbish (by Big Sean or Drake, most probably.) You can’t hear what people are saying to you. And I quite like being in bed at a reasonable hour.

9. My middle age spread has come early. Nothing to do with being greedy. Nothing at all. Uh uh. No way, etc. My thyroid is perhaps shagged. Or is my prostate? Or is due to damp weather?

10. Incontinence. Oh.

Does anyone have the telephone number for Dr. Euthanasia?

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Some Thoroughly Fascinating Facts...

Celebrity Crush: Honestly, I can’t believe that you’re asking me such a trivial question, given the RUINATION that surrounds us: a terracotta fuckwit has just been elected as the 45th President of America while Britain has gone rogue from the rest of Europe. China and Russia can’t be trusted; Africa remains peckish after all these years and the Middle East continues to burn - as do my loins for TOM HARDY, so there you go. Tom Hardy all the way. Are you watching that Taboo programme that he’s in? I am. I think it’s good, although a) I’m not sure I fully understand what’s going off and b) I wish Tom would get his tits out. For the lads, like.

Height: According to science (ie. the tape measure) I’m 5 feet 11 inches. According to my Dad: 6ft. He cannot bare the fact that I am the only male offspring that has failed to hit the magic 6ft, even with a back-combed bouffant. The fact that I also developed a penchant for all things poofery didn’t really go in my favour either. Either way, I blame the parents.   

Favourite food: I try and eat my five a day and drink two litres of water, but it’s hard. It’s just a shame that the five a day pertains to fruit and veg and not slices of stuffed crust pizza - which is my artery-threatening weapon of choice. I love pizza, but once upon a time I ordered a family sized affair from Dominoes and wolfed it down in a time that could’ve got me into the Guinness Book of Records for the Recently Type 2 Diabetic. Then I thought it would be a good idea to look up the amount of calories I’d just consumed. Turns out it was 2,400 - ie. more than my daily recommended limit. The thing is, I’d already been particularly gutsy that day: I’d had a big breakfast, a solid lunch and had various snacks in between. So, full of shame and self loathing, I turned to Ben and Jerry’s ice cream for solace. And then I looked up the calories in that and it turns out that I’d just inhaled a further 1000. At this point, I became consumed by despair, so I opened a bottle of wine and chugged an additional 600 calories. I mean, the damage was done by that point, no?

Favourite song: According to my iTunes statistics - and this will come as a HUGE SURPRISE to you, I know - but the song Rebel Heart by Madge (peace be upon her) sits at the pinnacle of my most played songs and deservedly so. It was like I wrote it myself. In terms of non-Madge songs, George Michael’s You Have Been Loved moves me to tears when I’m feeling especially melodramatic. A regular occurrence, if you're wondering. I also love Kalinka (look it up, bitches) by the Red Army Choir because it reminds me of being a kid and watching my Dad sing the lead tenor's part.

Favourite singer: Again, I am going to simply refer to my iTunes Top 25 most played. Madge occupies 24 of those slots. I might make her an award out of Kit Kat foil or something. Or just give her a Kit Kat. I'm sure you're all shocked to your very foundations (a bit like Kylie, eh?)

3 facts about me:
  1. I’m pretty easy going and chilled out apart from when people add sound effects to their food. Then I’ll happily cut a bitch.
  2. I don’t like touching public door handles. Dirty! The same goes for petrol pumps and debit card key pads. Hurrah for contactless payment and hand sanitizer. It’s always heart-breaking when the machine insists I insert my card. And a bit rude; like it thinks I might be a thief or summat.
  3. I once got mistaken for a rent boy outside of Leicester Square tube station. Not only was the punter RANCID but I ended up apologising to HIM for turning his business down. That probably sums me up in a nutshell.
  4. Okay, I know it says three facts and here I am, giving you a fourth, but I think my house might be haunted. The calendar has just thrown itself off the wall right before my very eyes. Mother? Is that you?!

What song did you last listen to? Erm, Let It Go by Idina Menzel, if you must know. The cold never bothered me anyway! Actually, that’s a lie: the cold really pissed me off this morning when I had to scrape the ice off my car at 7am. And why is it that cans of de-icer are impossibly cold to the extent where holding them gives you frostbite? Answer me that.

Monday, 6 February 2017

The Pickles We Find Ourselves In...

There’s no easy way to say it: I am a clumsy bastard. And when I say clumsy, I’m talking about an all-encompassing awkwardness that rules both body and mind; one that pre-disposes me to bad decisions and accidents aplenty. My clumsiness has got me into all manner of pickles over the years. As my Grandma (who, strangely, bore an uncanny resemblance to Bungle of Rainbow infamy - may she rest in peace, etc) used to say, while offering a particularly withering look, ‘You’re all thumbs, you. Fetch me the dustpan and brush…’

I have scars, broken bones and a permanent ache in my right shoulder thanks to years of relentless blundering. I’m talented at spilling stuff and dropping food down my top, especially when I’m in posh surroundings and wearing white. I’ve lost count of the number of canteen medals that I’ve acquired. I can crash cars really easily. I am able to fall over at the drop of a hat. I once accidentally threw myself down not one, but two, flights of concrete stairs in a single attempt. I even cleared the landing that connected the two. Oh, and then I tried to get up using my arm that was broken and dislocated as a result of aforementioned fall, which meant that I performed a perfect face-plant, knocking myself out and ripping my chin open in the process. And yes, of course I was drunk. Good job, really. It would’ve been mortifying to have done it sober.

Not many years pass where I don’t encounter stitches, bandages, whiplash or cracked ribs. To be honest, I think I’m ready for my post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis. Please send the appropriate drugs and funding when you have a minute. Thanks.

I’m also top notch at making clumsy choices that seem a good idea at the time, but ultimately propel me into strange situations. It doesn’t help that I’m a magnet for social freaks and misfits. If there’s a nutter in the house, you can bet your last biscuit that he or she will seek me out. I should wear a t-shirt that says: Are you weird or of disputatious character? Are you a pervert or just plain odd? Does your hair grow in inconvenient places? And do you carry with you a faint whiff of TCP and desperation? If so, call me. I’ll probably fucking marry you. And I’ll end up paying for the ‘pleasure’ too.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve got myself into inexplicable situations. A while back I went out into Soho and ended up missing the last train. I didn’t have the money to get a cab home so I went to a late bar where I bumped into some old friends who were on their way to a nightclub and invited me along. Everything was fine until we got there and the club turned out to be a gay sauna. I freaked out a tad, but my mate reassured me that I didn’t have to have any random rumpo and that there were places you could go and sleep until the trains started again. I shouldn’t have worried about feeling obliged to shag strange strangers: no one showed an iota of interest, but this might have had something to do with the fact that I refused to take my comedy pants off and I wore my towel under my armpits like I was Victoria Beckham in her Spice Girls days - only because it wouldn’t go around my waist. It was roughly the size of a tea towel and at the time, I was roughly the size of a house. Anyway, I found what I thought was the sleeping quarters, pulled my pants up to my man boobs, wrapped the towel around my head like an Eastern European Big Issue seller and got my head down.

The next thing you know, I was being shaken awake by a man who was complaining about my farm yard machinery-esque snoring. My apparent sleep apnoea was putting him off his cheeky blow job. It also transpired that my olympic snoring was providing the sonic backdrop to what can only be described as a fifty man orgy. All I could see was a plethora of knobs and knackers flying every which way as people merrily did each other. I, meanwhile, clutched my pearls and let out a semi-manly yelp as I scuttled away from the fuck-fest and straight into a dark room where I slipped on a spent condom and flew, feet first, into a heaving mass of humping homos. I got myself to my feet, apologised and fled while wailing like a wronged banshee. When I finally got home, hours later - reeking of stale booze and shame - I wept.

On other nights out, I’ve been mistaken for being a rent boy; I’ve been befriended by gangster dwarves called KitKat and I’ve ended up in illegal clubs, just because it seemed like a good idea at the time. I once found myself in the middle of a Sri Lankan gang fight and ‘ooooh’ and ‘aaaah’d’ as one bloke swatted at his enemy with a machete. I’ve had my drink spiked and hallucinated all the way home. I’ve thrown up over lots of people at the same time. My best chum and I have have driven to France twice. The first time saw us cast asunder when the car (and all our belongings) blew up after less than twenty four hours. The second time was for a booze cruise. Except that it turned out that France was shut that weekend due to a religious festival, so all we came home with was a bad mood, a Toblerone and mild food poisoning. Speaking of which, I have managed to shit myself while wearing a onesie in Prague and have had to sit in my own swill from Czechoslovakia to Nottingham. I have been chased through foreign restaurants by angry cleaners for reasons unknown. As a student, I thought it would be a good idea to dye my hair purple (with a wash in, wash out thingy) and then go out. At first, my head simply resembled the glans of a huge penis, but then it rained and as the dye ran down my head, it looked as though someone had taken an axe to my bonce. People actually screamed when they saw me. Rude!

Anyone fancy a night out?

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Alternative Career: Policeman...

Pros: Oooh, I’m pissed out of my head with power just thinking about it… I’d be a rozzer, a copper, a pig, a porker - and I’d have a talking brooch. I’d be able to grab thieving pensioners by the scruff of their necks, reclaim the pilfered can of economy beans from their arthritic grasp and shout, ‘You’re going down for this, you slaaaaaag!’ I would always know the correct time and the free kinky stuff they give you is a definite pull: I’m thinking love truncheons, hard helmets, handcuffs and erm, pepper spray. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it, eh? Plus, the uniform is a standard regulation black which is not only thinning (hurrah) but will also bring out the dark circles under my eyes. Perfect.

Cons: Rather than arresting light-fingered pensioners and the terminally poor, I’d probably help them in their quest to consume three square meals a day. It wouldn’t end with the coffin-dodgers, either. Being the soft leftie that I am, I think I’d administer my own liberal form of justice and just let everyone off. I can see it now: they’d give me a sob story about an ill relative or a sickly animal or tell me that they were riddled with something or other and I’d be helping them fill up their swag bags before giving them a lift home. Also, I’m pretty corrupt when I think about it. I’d be taking bribes left, right and centre. Not only that, but supposing my talking brooch radioed through to me that I needed to attend an armed robbery and apprehend the baddies, I have a strong feeling that I’d think, ‘Get shot for 25K a year? Nah, you’re alright, thanks.’ Then I’d probably hide in the loo with my love truncheon or cuff myself to my own bed, like some rancid old slag. Under my watch, crime rates would soar and to be honest, that’s fine by me, which isn’t really the best attitude for someone who’s job it is to enforce the ass that is the law. Also - I've said it before and I'll say it again - hats of any description make me look like a simpleton.

Chances: You know what? I can’t really be bothered. Besides, it’s enough that I’m a gayer; if my Dad found out that I was a bent cop (do you like what I did there?) he’d probably implode… In that case, when can I start?

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Breaking Up With My Barber...

Hair by Fat Hamit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Awkward silence.

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

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

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

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

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

Hmmm… decisions, decisions.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

The Art of Taking a Selfie...

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

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

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

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

Which chin? Both of them, fatty.

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

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

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

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

Strike a pose!

Friday, 18 November 2016

Alternative career: Harvester Operative

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

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

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

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

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

Oh well.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Three Months Later...

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'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! :-))