Thursday, 10 December 2015

Humbuggery...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10. I'm not religious. At all.

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

Merry Christmas. Cough.



Johnny Red Pants xxx

Saturday, 5 December 2015

The A-Z...



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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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