Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Merry Chrimble from my girlfriend Madonna and I...

Friday, 19 December 2008

Beware of Mince Pies...

My festive cheer has been dampened somewhat this morning. Boo and hiss and humbug and much baaahing.

After cramming four days worth of advent calendar chocolate into my gob and kissing Mr Blokey goodbye, I clambered into my car and set off for work. When I'm driving alone, it’s imperative that I have music to facilitate a party / nu-age rave for one, complete with whilstles, recreational drugs and glo-sticks. Smack yer bitch up, etc. You see, in a previous life I was very possibly Elvis, or so I like to think, even though I was still alive when he ate one burger too many and slipped off life’s dish. Oh well.

Anyway, my current selection of CDs weren’t tickling my festive fancy today, so I opted for the radio. With my eyes firmly fixed on the road, I randomly pressed the buttons on my car stereo, searching in vein for Radio 2 and the soothing yet comedy genius tones that constitute Terry Wogan’s breakfast show. Sadly, I stumbled across The Chris Moyles Show, where the host thought it right and proper that he eat down the microphone. Immediately my nostrils flared in manner of Trevor McDonald reading news pertaining to murderers, floods in the third world or obese kids in bad clothes at fat camp eating cake on the sly. I hastily hit the scan button and came across Heart FM. Not in the mood for dated 80s pop with a tinny beat, I scanned again and came across Magic FM.

Aaah, good old Magic. Can’t beat it… One minute, you’re depressed as the traffic jam you’re in seems endless… Next thing you know, Magic FM comes on and it’s as though Karen Carpenter is sitting on your lap (before she got fat), singing On Top of the World directly to you. As Karen finished seducing me with her velvet voice, "Dr" Fox, the host of the show, filled my car with his early morning musings. And then he floored me. His revelation that the average mince pie contains almost 400 calories made me almost drive into the double decker bus in front of me whilst screaming obscene things that should not be uttered as we look to celebrate the birth of Baby J. 400 calories? This should not be allowed. In days of yore, when I actually utilised my gym membership, I would spend three days at a time, huffing and puffing away on the treadmill, looking like a panting beetroot, only to find - as the emergency services tried to resuscitate me -that my slavings had only managed to rid me of 5 calories. Imagine my horror, then, as my mind cast itself back to the previous evening when I found myself inhaling four mince pies in succession. I don’t know what came over me, but I was like a man possessed. Possessed, I tell you. That’s 1600 calories, all in the space of time it took to watch the adverts during Coronation Street. No wonder my love handles have been fingered as advertising space by huge blue chip conglomerates.

Apparently, in order to burn off these evil calorific inventions, you need to walk something like 268 miles. Okay, 5 miles then. This is not good. This means that I may have to use the gym I’m currently paying £50 a month for… Alternatively, Santa might just spurt forth Winter Vomiting Disease from his unrelenting sack, and I'll honk it all up in a heartbeat.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Pity the Poor Pie of DOOM!

Whilst compiling a (sadly quite extensive) list of things I’m not terribly good at, cooking would feature towards the top somewhere… Over the years, I’ve dropped some comestiblic howlers, if I do say so myself and I can’t even blame it on the fact that the cooking sherry missed the pan and landed – purely accidentally you understand – in my mouth. Damn and blast. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve mastered the basics: I can conjure up any form of toast… Except that I can’t: French toast is off the menu as I don’t know what it is and as for Melba toast… That just sounds ridiculous. You’d get beaten up where I’m from for admitting to eating Melba toast and anyway, isn’t it some form of peach yoghurt? I have a few signature (snigger) dishes… Chilli, toast, spag bol, cheese on toast, beans on toast with a sprinkling of cheese, boiled egg sandwiches, Pot Noodles... erm... That's about it...


One Christmas I put myself in charge of dinner and the kindest way of describing it would be… brave. A brave attempt at a festive feast on my part (naturally) and a brave (although failed) attempt by my father and brother at eating what I served up. Temporary madness must have set in when I came up with my menu... I compiled a starter consisting of Marmite Surprise, which, if you must know, consists of cheese on toast with a thin smattering of Marmite secretly stashed under the cheese, so when the consumer bites into it, they are, ahem, surprised by the unexpected twang of yeast extract. Yum! Main course was a gastronomic disaster on a grand scale: the meat was undercooked, the vegetables overcooked and I forgot to retrieve the Yorkshire puddings from the oven. By the time I remembered – which was when the smell of burning and a thick haze of smoke clung lazily in the air - they had been reduced to what looked like conker-sized balls of soot. For pudding – oh yes, there was pudding! – I smothered a couple of Kit Kat Chunkies in custard. Needless to say, dinner was a fun-free, silent affair, apart from the odd groan after a particularly troublesome mouthful of my hard graft.

After moving into the new place t’other week, I took an extra day off to try and get the last bits finished off… Poor Mr Blokey, bless his cottons, had to go back to work, so after I’d finished pottering, I thought I’d surprise him with dinner… After raging through the isles of Tesco, I came home, washed my hands and prepared the following menu…

Starter: Cup of tea.
Main: Steak and Ale pie, Mash, roasted veg, some extra broccoli (as it’s a special superfood and I like the fact that it looks like a baby tree) and gravy.
Pudding: Me. Ho, ho and thrice ho, etc…

Everything was going well. The veg was roasting away happily, the mash was all ready to go in the microwave (what did you expect? I mean, really…) and the pie… The pie was looking tremendous as it sat proudly in the middle of a preheated oven at 200 degrees… After 40 minutes, I looked through the oven door and could’ve wept with pride. The top crust was golden brown and the smell engulfing the kitchen was mouthwateringly beautiful… After getting the plates ready and quickly laying the table, I turned the oven off and opened the door… At this point, I reached for the oven glove, only to realise that I didn’t own one. Three seconds of lip chewing and head scratching ensued before I had a brainwave as to how to get my lovely pie out. A beach towel and an oversized wooden spoon would facilitate the manoeuvre handsomely, I surmised. Only it didn’t. The beach towel wasn’t thick enough to withstand the heat and the wooden spoon was as much use as the next waterproof tea bag.


Somehow, the pie appeared to be stuck on the shelf. I tapped it gently with the spoon, but nothing gave, so I gave it a whack. Still nothing. By this point, I was choking on the heat and my patience was running on empty. After one more hearty thwack, the pie suddenly came free and lurched itself brazenly towards me. Faced with a 200 degree pie hurtling itself dangerously towards my head, I pulled my hand round and attempted to catch it with the beach towel. Unsurprisingly, I missed. Time slowed down (oh yes it did) as I watched helplessly… the pie flew mesmerisingly through the air before gravity claimed it, pulling it unsympathetically towards the cold tiled floor. It plummeted downwards and landed with a dull thud. My dream of cooking a pie was over. Sob, etc.


I got to my feet and shut the oven door, an eerie silence filling the room; its leaking innards acting as my sorry muse of failure. I was gutted. The silence was broken moments later when Mr Blokey, looking handsome and dashing in his suit arrived home, wishing me a cheery hello before asking what was for dinner… I looked ruefully at my cookery malfunction, took a deep breath and breezily answered him with another question: ‘Don’t suppose you fancy nipping to the chippy do you?'
Below: the pie of doom, weeping openly on the kitchen floor. Bless.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

2008 in Review: The Wisdom of Doreen Corkhill

Once upon a time in 1987, I was 10 years old and addicted to Madonna, eating, terrible hair cuts and Brookside. In said (now-retired) soap opera there was a woman called Doreen Corkhill, who my Dad referred to as ‘Light Bulb Head’, such was the unfortunate shape of her bonce.



Above: A lightbulb
Below: Doreen Corkhill's noggin. Not to scale, etc.

Now then, during one cheerful episode, Light Bulb Head was going on about the family’s inability to pay the ‘leccy bill’ (or something equally drab) when she started talking about luck running in cycles of years – with one year being fab, and the next, crappy mcshitster. Fate economics made simple. As a ten year old, I took this particular pearl of wisdom to heart and, thinking about it, I suppose I still define each 365 day span in the same way. With this in mind 2008 has scored almost a perfect 10 on the Doreen scale.

The year didn’t get off to a great start, admittedly – I found myself suddenly single and very unemployed and without a proverbial pot to piss in. Much gloom and fed-up-ness ensued, where I imagined a future consisting of Findus Sad Loner Meals for one before finally being found defunct and semi mummified, on New Years Eve, by a neighbour who got sick of the funny smell coming through the walls. In terms of a career, I was a loss greater than Lehmann Brothers’ creditors. I just didn’t have a clue. After scouring the internet and registering with a cacophony of bored recruitment consultants, I found a job near to my house. That was the only good thing about it: whilst it paid the bills, it was bollocking awful. All awful, all of the time. The people who I sat next to were lovely and made it semi-durable, but my God, it bored me to the point where I would consider poking my eyes out, just to sex up the day. You know things are bad when you get rely on a sandwich van’s sweaty cheese rolls in cheap white bread as a daily highlight – especially when you have no intention of buying them…

I was supposed to be heading up a team of socially uncomfortable soap dodgers who smelt of grease and sponge cake but they hated me and I hated them. As a result, I would spend all day firing off emails demanding that they do their jobs rather than while away their working week on websites for people you wouldn’t leave your kids with. Outside of work, life was plodding along. It was okay, but that’s a state I’ve never wanted to settle for. I was bored and unfulfilled, so one day I got sick of myself and decided to become a holiday rep, as you do as you’re about to hit 32. One interview and a training course later, I found myself living and working in Mallorca. It was incredible. I had a fantastic six months… Even now I’m back, I can’t believe that I’ve done it – that I jacked it all in and went away and I’ve come back refreshed and everything’s fallen into place. I can’t believe how far life has come on in the last 12 months. Nothing seems impossible and life sparkles - 2009 is going to the same if I have anything to do with it, so sorry Doreen, take your crap, pessimistic theory and stick it where the lightbulbs don't shine.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Christmas Wishes...

Dear Santa,

For Christmas, would you be kind enough to joyfully furnish me with the following gifts… Before you read on, may I remind you that Chrimble is a time where giving is allegedly better than receiving, so you’re getting the good end of the deal here. I know, I’m a kind soul. It is Christmas after all…

1. Please, please, please pretty please can I have a 32 inch waist? I lost mine in the summer of 1982 after inhaling six chocolate bars and a sherbert dip too many and I’ve been unable to locate it ever since. Please don’t heartily scoff that you’re sorry, no can do, that they’ve gone out of fashion or the shop ran out, because that’s a lie. Put it this way, if you do, I can arrange to get Rudolph kneecapped. See, love handles bring out the rancid old bitch in me.

2. Please can I have a golden larynx to sing with? At the moment, mine is like brass. Rusty brass. With mould and bird do-do on it. I sound like a newborn being drowned in a septic tank. Yes, that nice. And I want to sing All I Want For Chrimbo Is You-a-hoo by Mariah ‘the Banshee’ Carey at some kind of festive Karaoke bash. If you could arrange for some form of express delivery (I’m thinking, anytime now would be lovely, if that’s okay), I’d be ever so grateful and will dedicate a Karaoke song to you too. Aren’t you lucky?

3. Can I have my sun tan back whilst you’re dishing out the gifts? I spent six months bronzing my bod this summer. Six months of having to skive off work to languish on my roof terrace in Spain using nothing but tin foil and cooking oil to achieve the desired results. By the time I got home, I looked like something between a Caramac and Ghandi. As I walked through customs upon my return to the UK, an man with a surprisingly high voice (given his robust build) asked me if I had anything to declare. ‘Just my outrageous tan!’ I said in a butch, non-camp manner. Next thing you know, I’m being stripped searched and he’s donning a rubber glove whilst coughing self-consciously. Don’t worry, it wasn’t that bad. In fact, I was grateful – it was the most sex I’d had in six months, if you ignore the time a seemingly rabid dog vomited on my flip flop. Anyway, within a week, I’d stopped walking like John Wayne but my tan had done one. You win some, you lose some. But it’d be lovely if I could start 2008 with a bit of colour. In fact, if you can’t provide a 32 inch waist, why not just make me black? It’s thinning!

4. Can you gift me with the luxury of a good night’s kip? I’m not sleeping too well. Dunno why. And no, I haven’t got a guilty conscience – bar that Bosnian man’s wallet that I need to return at some point soon – I just don’t sleep too well. And when I do, I snore that badly that Hertsmere council are threatening to slap me with an ASBO. This simply cannot happen. I am a pillar of the community. I dispose of my litter responsibly, say please and thank you and drive a sensible car. Do I look like I wear tracksuits and smoke cheap cigarettes? Well then.

5. Tea with Madonna would be nice. In fact, if you sort wish number 2 out, she might take me on as a backing singer. If you grant wish number 3, she might adopt me. I’m cool with either. Whatever is easiest. You know me, I’m no bother.

Thanking you in advance for your uncompromising generosity and kind spirit throughout these special times. Hope you and Mrs. Santa have good one. Don’t work too hard, etc.

Johnny Red Pants xxx

Monday, 24 November 2008

Don't Stop Movin'...

I’ve always found moving to be a completely hideous process. A thoroughly vile, exhausting affair that seems never ending. It makes me want to sit in a darkened room, in a pool of my own piss whilst I smack my head against the wall. Truly, it does. I could openly weep at my desk just thinking about it...

I’m currently filling up bin bags with all manner of random crap that I’ve inexplicably hoarded over the years. I’m sure some of it seemed sentimental at the time, but as hard as I try, I can’t understand why I have kept a Christmas card that I received eleven years ago that simply says, ‘Have a good 'un fatty! From Sandy.’ I don’t know anyone called Sandy – and I never have. And this Sandy person couldn’t even be bothered to write, ‘To Johnny Red Pants,’ or sign it with love – it’s Chrimbo! - so Lord Madge only knows why I elected to keep this, especially as being referred to as Fatty has never been know to fill me with festive cheer. Maybe I kept it to spur me on for one of my many doomed New Years health kicks that surrenders to the cake at about 4.16pm on New Years Day. Some things aren't meant to be, y'know...

I’m also at a loss as to why I’ve retained a commemorative porcelain thimble pertaining to the delights of Southend on Sea – a place that I never been, nor plan on going anytime soon. Obviously someone gave it to me, and if that person ever reads this, I’m sorry I’m no longer keeping it. If you want it back you can try the charity shop on Bushey Village High Street – if they’ll take it that is. I’ve cheerfully donated so much unsellable old tat over the last seventeen home transfers that I’m on my last warning. When you consider the fact that I retained old Christmas cards and pottery thimbles, you can just IMAGINE how bad the shit that got thrown out must have been. It's therefore no shock that the women who run the charity place shudder as I heave myself and my latest sack of crap through the door. Some people are just plain ungrateful.

Apparently, moving home is the second most stressful thing you can ever engage in (bettered only in the doom stakes by being strapped to a chair and force fed pork pie whilst Mariah Carey is played on a loop and a rabid dog craps on your foot.) In the last ten years, I’ve gone through this palava a total of... seventeen times. Effing nora. And all being well, in a week’s time, this number will rise a notch as I inhabit my eighteenth residence in a decade… Phew… That said, I can’t wait. I have a really nice feeling in my special place when I think about it.

You see, me and my lovely adorable blokey are shacking up. Oh yes we are. I can’t wait, I really, really can’t… And I’m confident that the move will go swimmingly because let’s face it, after the stress of selecting a snug love shack des res type place, it can’t be more so…

They say opposites attract and such a cliché was wholeheartedly endorsed when we first attempted to find somewhere. You see, Mr Blokey likes traditional, whilst Mr Me prefers modern, clean lines. Matters haven't been helped by estate agents who mistake the word ‘rustic’ for ‘utter piss-hole’ and ‘character’ for ‘needed condemning twenty years ago.’ ‘Quirky’ was loosely translated as ‘will make you bite your cheeks until you bleed as you don’t want to laugh in the estate agents face.’ Their idea of what ‘spacious’ constituted was questionable in the extreme and how one of them got away with championing a view of a burnt out car with a straight face, I’ll never know. It seemed endless. What Mr Blokey loved, I didn’t connect with and what I liked, he found soulless. The days were long and tiring and by the end of it, I honestly thought we’d end up in a camper van – until I found out that Mr. Blokey hated them.

And then – a breakthrough! We were shown a bungalow that we both liked. Much excite to the point of acute bum sweats ensued. In our madness related elation, we paid a deposit to secure the place… And then at the eleventh hour, it fell through. Dry bums and long faces all round became the order of the day. We sulked. We sulked a bit more. We opened a bottle of wine and then we got over it and laughe. Eventually, we went back to the proverbial chalk board. It only took one more attempt until we exclaimed bingo (or as they say in Scotland, BANG-OOR) and got all moist around the unmentionables. When we first pulled up outside the flat, I wasn’t expecting a great deal. The money they wanted for it was more than reasonable which made the cynic in me expect it to be on the lesser side of shabby or inhabited by someone who reminded me of Fred West… But it wasn’t. It was lovely. I finally realised that the celebrity estate agents were correct after all – that you make your mind up about a place within 10 seconds of stepping foot in the door. I loved the lady who owned it, the little nooks and crannies that the place offered and the garden at the back. But more than that, the place gave me a good vibe and Mr Blokey rather fabulously thought so too. As we left after seeing it for a second time (and agreeing everything in principle), cheesy grins were plastered back on our faces and the bum sweats were back.

Hoooray!

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Question of the day...

What happens when you wake up so hungry that you almost inhale four slices of barely toasted bread before realising that the crusts - or at least the remnants of the one that is left - happens to be playing the subservient host to a mountainous chunk of mould? The edges of my breakfast boasted a green and white beard of such proportions that Gillette could have sponsored it…

I don’t know if I’ve ingested a mammoth piece of industrial strength penicillin or a family sized, rogue hunk of yeast-decay. And if I have, I don’t know what that means…

Once upon a time, I heard that eating mould sends the consumer insane. So here I sit, merrily waiting for insanity to take me under its dribbly, probably incontinent wing, wondering if I should call NHS Direct or scour the internet for a solution to this dead-bread riddle. Thinking about it, it’s probably better that I sit it out and see what happens. If I go bonkers, I probably won’t know much about it. Besides, a spell in the Laughing House with lots of available drugs doesn’t sound too bad. My current haircut makes me look as though I’ve been the unfortunate recipient of a dodgy session of ECT. If the cap fits and all that… You see, I try to avoid the advice of net doctors at all costs. The last time I tried to search for a natural remedy for a slight blemish on my forehead (I was beginning to get mistaken for a Hari Krishna person), I discovered – to my complete and utter horror – that my unslightly spot was something altogether more sinister, unpronounceable and very definitely terminal. In the end, it transpired that the world wide web has misdiagnosed me – it was in fact a simple, full fat spot and not death by over-ambitious blackhead.

NHS Direct don’t do much to calm my nerves, either… A worried, ‘Oh… erm, I… I don’t know what to say,’ is not the reaction I’m looking for when I call them, spluttering that I’m not feeling too clever. The rest of the conversation is generally punctuated with pregnant pauses and the odd snigger – neither of which does much for my confidence. Next thing you know, they’ve hung up on you and there’s an ambulance at the door and fully armed guard. It never rains, eh?

So am I going to pop my oversized clogs or simply get committed to my nearest economy mental institution? Or will I just get belly ache and spend the next few hours acting as an unfortunate room odoriser?

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Home Sweet Home...

Since Mam died, I’ve been to see a few psychics. The first one was a fat, smelly slag of a charlatan whose air of oddness seemed somewhat contrived, all things considered. All I wanted was a direct line into Mam’s celestial office: a quick word would have done… I only wanted to know that she was okay. Instead, I got a wannabe-insane woman (who smelled curiously of sponge cake and Christmas in equal measure), rocking back and forth in a haze of piss-stinking incense. As she gripped my hands I tried not to giggle: she looked like she needed to be inducted into the nearest laughing house. A few minutes of making sex-esque noises prevailed, after which, she told me that my aura was red, that I was stressed and that my Dad had a bad back. After fifteen minutes of her slovenly bollock-fest, a kitchen-timer made an intrusive noise signalling that I’d had my fair share of netherworld mediations. Immediately, her expression morphed into something different. Her face became more lucid. Harder. She smiled sharply as she asked me how I’d like to pay.

Never again, I thought to myself, as I sulkily trudged round Ealing’s streets twenty pounds poorer and no closer to any form of nether-world contact with Mam...

Such an opinion lasted about three years. I was casually flicking through the local newspaper one Thursday evening when I came across an advert for a psychic fare. To this day, I don’t know why, but instinctively I felt as though I had to go. The drama queen within (behold, sista!) put this knee jerk reaction down to some kind of connection with the afterlife. I following my gut and went along to the event as advertised. Disappointingly, my psychic was called Doreen. I mean, I expected her name to be at least slightly exotic – like Rhonda-Starpine or Bushwina-Moonbeam or… something. Anything but Doreen. Anyway, I digress… Doreen was lovely. She had a warm face and her eyes crinkled when she smiled, which was all the time. This put me at ease: five minutes prior to me sitting down for my appointment I had a horrible feeling that she was going to tell me I was going to die. Fortunately (for me, at least), she didn’t. Sadly, Mam still proved illusive. Instead, she picked up on my troubled relationship at the time, told me that the person I was with was vile and that I should dump him immediately. Looking back, every single detail was correct. Some parts were spookily accurate, to the point where I’m no longer a nay-sayer when it comes to this sort of thing…

I flirted with the other side one more time earlier this year. Again, some of the details and predictions were spot on. The level of accurate detail she entered into was scary… She predicted that I’d go and work abroad in Spain and that I was doing it for a reason… It was as though she was reading my mind. And she said that the place would heal me.

She was correct. Puerto de Pollenca did me the world of good and I will always be grateful for the time that I spent there and meeting the people that I met. When I first arrived, the thought of returning home would make my heart sink. I’d think about what I’d left behind and I’d struggle to catch my breath and fight back the nausea. I’d break into a sweat and feel dizzy. It took a while to realise that I was having anxiety attacks. In order to feel better, I’d take myself down to the beach with a bottle of San Miguel and watch the sun melt over the mountains. It sounds weird, but those mountains became like friends. I’d sit and stare at them for hours and afterwards I’d always feel better. The real friends I made there – Owen, Michelle Bombon, Jo, Lisa Long Legs, Andy and Stevie D, in particular – did me the world of good. I learned to love my life again. I’d sleep through the night and wake up with a smile. It was a perfect summer. One day I woke up suddenly excited about going home and I knew my time in Mallorca was up. It was a bit like the Littlest Hobo in that respect. Now I feel as though I can take on the world. Things have suddenly gone right in all manner of departments – a fantastic partner who makes me melt, a decent job and in 30 odd days, the home I’ve always wanted. Not a lot troubles me these days but when it does, I think back to those mountains, the sunsets I used to cry at and my friends in Mallorca and the worries dissipate…

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Yum...

I was going to stay in tonight.

No really, I was.

And then my flatmate, who I love to inifinity and beyond, changed all that when he offered to cook me din-dins.

Initially, I was made up. I'd been at the airport all day and was so tired I could've wept. The thought of cooking did little to lift my heavy, emotionally bereft heart.

'Don't worry, Johnny,' he boomed, 'I'll cook for you. It'll be delicious. I'll knock up something special. Yes! I'll... I'll make you corned beef and chips!'

Needless to say, I'm on my sixth pint and I'm a bit peckish.

Oh no.

Friday, 16 May 2008

The Water in Majorca…

Crikey. Now there’s a word I don’t tend to use often, if ever, come to think of it. Crikey. I’m saying it aloud to myself right now and feel a bit of a twat if I’m honest. I just can’t pull it off. Crikey. Usually, I’m more of a ‘fuck me furiously!’ type of person. Hee! Anyway, the reason for my contrived, somewhat irritating surprise-infused introduction to this rant is due to the fact that, well… I’m surprised! Still!

I moved to Puerto de Pollensa three weeks ago and I still pinch myself as I ramble through the narrow streets of the beautiful port town. Set in the North of the Island, (a world away from Magaluf that essentially acts as a tacky, hot Blackpool for overly horny, overly tattooed people on a tight budget), Pollensa really is stunning. There are two sides to it: the port and the old town. It’s a small, traditional place that is largely untouched by Brits Abroad.

The decision to become a rep was a good one, methinks. The unrelenting trauma of the last four years (oooh, get me, don’t I go on?) meant that a huge change was needed. A break to attain some much needed perspective and get a focus on the future. In April, I was in Bolton for an extensive training course that never seemed to end and then once it did, we were given our destinations and packed off the next day. When I was first told that I was being sent to North Majorca, I didn’t feel anything. Other people were screaming at the top of their voices that, ‘I’m going to Kos! I can’t believe it!’ Others seemed less impressed that they were off Turkey but I didn’t know what to feel. I was just pleased to be going somewhere.

We arrived on Friday, 25th April and were put in a hotel room overnight in Alcudia. Such rankness. Seriously, it was an utter shithole. Standing at the balcony on the 8th floor, I suddenly realised why some people chuck themselves off. It really did seem preferable to going back into the room that had enough second hand hair in the bath to weave your own syrup.

Fortunately we checked out at 9am the next day. Within forty minutes, I was walking through the front door of my new apartment. I was speechless. I’m sharing with another lad – let’s call him Darren. Why? Well, because that’s his name – and we have two living rooms, a bathroom each and a kitchen that even has a dishwasher. If you come out of the apartment and look right you can see the beach, which is less than two minutes away. If you look left, you can see Spanish Square, a lovely little square (shockingly, given its name) that is lined with cafes, bars and restaurants. I walk around in the sunshine and everything seems right with the world. There’s just an optimism all of a sudden and I feel as though a spark has come back. Admittedly, that flickers momentarily when I forget to look the right way when crossing the road and some conyo almost knocks me over, but hey ho: no harm, no foul. I just keep striding through the charismatic, winding streets with a smile on my kisser and the word crikey inexplicably running through my head on a loop.

Written on April 15th...

Her voice rings in my ears every day. ‘I don’t care what you do as long as you’re happy.’ That was my Mam’s response to me when I asked her what she wanted me to do with my life. She was dying at the time. It’s the last conversation – proper conversation – that I can recall. She died two weeks later.

Come September, that conversation will be eight years old. And I’m not happy. Okay, I’m not unhappy, but I feel in limbo and that’s not enough. I’m not enough. Like I said, those words ring in my ears. I don’t know if that simple phrase was my Mam’s way of acknowledging my sexuality or not, I really don’t know. I hope so. But either way, out of the closet or not, I’m not happy.

Things spiralled recently. Two days before Christmas, a ridiculous, meaningless email was justifiably misinterpreted and I lost the job that I gave up a meaningful, sensible career for. I cringe thinking about it. Christmas came and went, New Year arrived and the optimism I felt as 2008 rang in was extinguished when my relationship spontaneously and spectacularly nosedived. It wasn’t until it was over that I realised how much faith I’d had in it.

On top of this, I’d found a job in a company where the only saving grace was the fantastic people who I worked with. I’d left IT only to find myself back there. The team that I was working with comprised half a dozen soap dodgers who seemingly took exception to me. I wasn’t happy. I was letting Mam down.

It was only recently that I understood what loneliness was. Having spent the majority of the last two years on my own, night after night, in a single room, lent an element of perspective that floored me. Looking back, my life became an existence – and a rather bleak one at that. I felt alone.

I know that I am blessed when it comes to my friendships. I am. I have a handful of amazing friends who I cherish and think the world of. My family are always there for me. But all of them, without exception, are settling down and making families of their own. Being the only gay one exacerbated things. As far as I could see, my life was going down one path and theirs was going down another. One by one, they all seemed to fall away – their priorities understandably changed and whilst I was happy for them a sense of isolation began to prevail.

If someone had asked me at 21 where I’d be in ten years time, I would’ve said the following: a loving, trusting relationship, a meaningful, rewarding job and an overall sense of fulfilment. Ten years on and the reality is that I have none of that. Where I am is not where I want to be.

This is why I’m going away.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Lidl...

I can feel a letter coming on. Dear Gordon Brown, it will begin authoritatively. Please petition the House of Parliament with a legislative proposal to... Okay, I haven't yet thought out the rest of the content, but I feel aggrieved. Even though I'm not sure what they are, I feel as though my statutory rights have been violated.

At lunchtime today, I flung open my food cupboard with all the bravado of a starving warrior and sighed melodramatically. At that moment, I knew how Old Mother Hubbard felt as she shrugged sheepishly at the hungry doggy waiting patiently for its bone. As my stomach grumbled like someone walking over fresh snow, I eyed the sorry state of my personal larder. Its contents revealed the lonely remnants of food that no one ever eats. A packet of pork flavoured pasta shapes that simply just need boiling water in order to allegedly transform them into a delicious treat; half a Rivita that lost its way some time ago; an oxo cube; a curiously empty bottle of TCP and a tin of sardines that I think I've had since university but don't ever throw out as I am immediately filled with a hideous guilt. I've tried binning it before. As I approach the dustbin lid, my mind's eye liberates a thousand images of a starving Ethiopian child looking distant and forlorn as a load of flies decide to have an orgy on the end of its nose.

At five pm, I switched off my PC terminal and groaned as the monitor faded to blackness. 'Enjoy your trip to the supermarket,' my colleague chirped happily. 'Yeeeahhh...' I chuntered, unconvincingly. at 5.30, I pulled up - inexplicably - outside Lidl in Stanmore. One word fogged my mind as I entered the premises: grim. The first drama played out as I realised that I needed a pound coin to secure a trolley. I fingered my change resentfully as I totalled it up in my head. Twenty three pence and a piece of red cotton. One trip to the cash machine later and I entered the bizarre world of economy shopping.

There seemed to be no plan to the layout of the store. A variety of fruit juices blended into fizzy drinks with questionable names presented in garish colours: Fizzo orange, Trezpo cola (diet and regular, no less) and Popcob pineapple. As I passed by them, by trolley remained empty, except for the pound coin leering sheepishly out of the handle. And then the strangeness started: opposite the fruit and veg was a random assortment of things that I didn't expect to see: there were luminous yellow workman's vests sitting next to a smorgasbord of 'yoga fleeces' (I mean, what the eff?), car batteries, sewing kits, a tasty variety of flavoured condoms (citrus johnnies - yum!) Next to the disputatious prophylactics was - obviously - dog baskets and neighbouring those were toilet roll holders. My trolley remained empty and continued this way as I got to the shower gels. A range of bright colours with - again - odd names tried to tempt their way into my trolley. I picked up Opang and smelt it: vomit. I had a whiff of Torrance. It smelt of bread. Pookonk smelt like a corpse and Driftkit reeked of an unclean old woman that had recently pissed herself.

I wearily continued on and finally reached the checkout. In my trolley was a one solitary jar of olives. I took in the length of the queue (that read of a who's who of Romania's Mafia) and deserted the olives, trolley and all.

Dear Gordon Brown, my letter will begin. Please petition the House of Parliament with a legislative proposal to... retrieve my pound from the trolley that I legged it from in Lidl...

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

You'll See

All by myself,
I don't need anyone at all.
I know I'll survive,
I know I'll stay alive.
I'll stand on my own,
I won't need anyone this time,
It will be mine,
No one can take from me,
You'll see...

Friday, 4 January 2008

Kylie Dream Time Visitation...

I keep having a recurring dream (ie. I've had it twice, but it's the first time a dream has replicated itself, so forgive my unrelenting excitement.) I know that most people's dreams are usually fist-eatingly dull to listen to, but mine features Princess of Pop, Kylie Minogue. So there. What happens (if you can be bothered to read on) is as follows...

I get on a plane and sat in the next aisle is everyone's bucktoothed, pocket-sized, yet fab Aussie pop tartlet, Kylie Minogue (my Mam used to call her Carly Minow, bless her cottons)... I start being political by singing some Madge tunes (Borderline and Vogue for those of you into your gay icons) and Kylie joins in - she's on backing vocals, naturally. We hit it off and the next thing you know we decide to get some sleep (it transpires that we're off to Melbourne in deepest, darkest Down Under) and we spoon each other. She wakes me up with her hideous snoring but I don't mind as am a kind, charitable angelic type person and so set about wiping the Kylie dribbble off my shoulder. When we get to Australia, she kisses me on the cheek, makes me promise to call her and then goes off to catch her bus. I meanwhile, walk about the terminal aimlessly, wondering why I've come to Australia. I am deeply puzzled and despite it looking a rather nice place, I am lost and no one will accept my Euros, which is a bummer as I'm hungry and am trying to secure a Big Mac in Ronald McDonald's finest eaterie with a ten Euro note. I try and call Kylie to get her to come and rescue me... and then I wake up feeling aggravated.

And that's it. Thrilling eh? Sorry...

Thursday, 3 January 2008

30th December...

What I wouldn't do,
What I wouldn't give
To have you here now...
There's not a day that goes by,
Or an hour that passes,
Where I don't think of you.

The small things always catch me off guard:
Gentle reminders when my defences are down
Cause my mind to play cruel tricks
That leave me breathless and bruised.
All at once I'm exposed and the rawness makes me bleed.

What I wouldn't do,
What I wouldn't give,
For this ache to be taken away.
One more smile, one more touch,
I'm bleeding right now.

One more conversation,
To say sorry for all that I'm not,
To promise to be all that I can.
I hope I've done you proud Mam,
Like you've done me.

Happy birthday Ma.
I'm lighting candles for you.

Cud xxx
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