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! :-))

Monday, 25 April 2016

Fat Boy Slim / New Years Resolutions in Review...

I can't quite believe that it's May next week. Can you? It seems like only moments ago that Santa ho-ho-ho'd his way down the chimney and emptied his sack all over the floor before sodding off and leaving me slightly more rotund than I had hoped for. You heard it here first: Santa is a fat-enabling whore.

So here we are: the clocks have boogied on forward and Spring has introduced us to all its optimistic splendour: mild warmth, lighter evenings and the promise of a cheaper electricity bill next quarter. It's enough to make you slap your arse twice like a frugal recession-ista, which I am not, according to my credit card bill. I'm just pleased that Winter is firmly out of the way. It was quite the disappointment in terms of the socially crippling snow that I find myself longing for as soon as November rolls around. All I want is to wake up to a good eight inches (of snow, you big pervert), find out that life has been cancelled for a few days and bunker on down with an endless supply of tea, hot buttery toast, Netflix and self-chill. But no. Jack Frost and the weather Gods obviously didn't get the memo. Bastards.

As I write, I am almost afraid to fart in case it speeds up time and I suddenly find myself in October. Stranger things have happened and to be honest I need the time. I have resolutions that I need to achieve. I know that some people think that New Years resolutions are a big pile of horse shit, but I'm not one of them. Without wanting to come across as schmaltzy, I like the newness of the New Year. A clean slate, a fresh beginning. This is particularly good after a month where I've consumed an artery-troubling amount of 'empty' calories in the name of that slut Santa.

This leads to my resolutions. I only really make one. The same one each year, in fact, over and over again. In sum: stop being a fat knacker. There are other supplementary resolutions that feed into this overall aim. Namely, drink less booze and spend less / save more money. My own toxic trio of unachievable aims. They're all mutually dependant on each other: spending less money on alcohol and pizza will make me less fat, allow my liver to regenerate and result in shrunken love handles/bitch tit combo. I start the year motivated and buoyant and yet, by December 31st, I find myself inhaling hot sausage rolls and festive napkins as an entirely appropriate response to the bailiffs banging on the door demanding to speak to Fatty Bum Bum.

This year is going to be different. And yes, I may have said that before (most years in fact), but it's true. If you're interested as to how it's going, then so far, so good. Well, perhaps not 'good' - maybe 'okay' would be a better appraisal. Could do better, etc. Overall, I'm a stone down which is pleasing, but at one point, I was two stones down. What happened? The Easter Bunny happened. The little bastard. I hope it gets myxomatosis. And this is what pisses me off about my ever yo-yo-ing weight. It takes three months to lose two stones and a fortnight to put half of it back on. I only have to look at a Crunchie and my ankles thicken. It makes no sense. Recently I got up, weighed myself and then (too much information alert) sat on the loo and did my business. Quite a lot of business actually. That much business, I was convinced that I had easily parted with another half a stone. I jumped back on the scales and was filled with a self-loathing that Roland from Grange Hill could only dream about as the terrible news relayed itself to me. I actually put on two pounds, which is, as far as I'm concerned, medically impossible. Yet I achieved it. Yay!

Over the years, I've tried various diets with varying degrees of success: Atkins gave me bad breath and mood swings, Slimfast wasn't fast enough, fat clubs made me realise that misery does love company and when it comes to my chub-chub, I'm quite the happy loner. I once agreed to do a grapefruit based diet only to find that I cannot stand grapefruit. I've had fat-blocking tablets from the doctor and then shit myself in Tesco while wearing beige shorts. I've used MyFitnessPal, but then found myself conveniently forgetting to add in the nine chocolate digestive biscuits that I scoffed while tidying the kitchen. Then I deleted the app out of spite. I once spent a tenner on a Paul McKenna book that promised to make me thin. It didn't.

This year, I've been flirting with the 5:2 diet. Eat what you like for five days and then fast for two. The five days are easy-peasy, lemon (drizzle cake) squeezy. The two days of abstinence are a different story. Skipping breakfast isn't difficult but drinking black coffee is. And that's what I spend my days doing - drinking strong black coffee that makes me feel slightly nauseous. By the time I get home from work, I could happily gnaw my left hand off. I find myself clambering into bed at six pm, hating all of humanity and longing for unconsciousness to come along and escort me to six am, when I can get up and eat like a normal person who likes a little beer from time to time. In the meantime, I exercise like a demon, all the time telling myself that my profuse sweating is simply the fat crying. I'm doing my ten thousand steps a day, I go to spin classes religiously and most days start with a kitchen disco while I brew my coffee. You'd think that twerking alone would shrink my recalcitrant flab. But alas, no.

But I will get there. I appreciate that I'm not the fattest porker in the sty, but at the same time, there's plenty of me to go round. More than I'd like. I'm not interested in having a six pack or those lines that go from the hips to the bits. I mean, it'd be nice and everything, but much like religion or voting Tory, it's just not for me. It just grinds my gears that we can put a man on the moon and develop a buttery spread that's good for the heart and lowering cholesterol but we can't devise a beer that makes us lose FOURTEEN STONE IN A DAAAAAAY!

Bugger.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Bucket List...

So, this is the year that I hit the big 4-0. I'm not sure how I feel about it. Largely nothing really. I don't quite get the hysteria that the general populace attaches to aging. I mean, there's eff-all we can do about it, so why sweat it? Besides, the last twenty years of cleansing, toning, mosturising seem to have worked: I got asked for ID when attempting to buy booze at the weekend. Although as I said at the time, it was probably my infantile Zippy (of Rainbow infamy) wallet that made the miserable woman on the till ask for it. It was perhaps an act of passive aggression rather than a genuine attempt to stay within the law. But still, I'm 39 and constantly look tired, so a win is a win. I produced my driving licence as though it was a winning lottery ticket and did all I could do to repress bursting into song. Like Aga-Do.

There are things that make me pause for thought as forty-ness seeks to seduce me into her pre-menopausal club. Like the fact that there are social milestones that I'm yet to achieve. I'm not married (not arsed, actually - I think it's perhaps tempting fate), I'm not on the property ladder (ditto - I live in London and can't really spare the kidney that I'll need to sell to gather a deposit) and I don't have children. I probably go out too much and generally act as though I'm still in my twenties. But that's okay. I looked like a minor at the weekend, so there we go. Besides, if Madonna can do it, then so can I.

I was minding my own business the other day when my phone beeped in my pocket. It turns out that I had a Facebook notification, which was all to do with bucket lists. It implored me to play along, otherwise I would incur some terrible twist of fate. Puh. So seeing as though I am in the midst of contemplating my life's accomplishments (or lack thereof) I thought I'd play along here - mainly to avoid any unspeakable consequences. Like my knob dropping off. Or looking my age.

So, sitting comfortably? Oh good.

Have you ever...

Gone on a blind date? Erm yes. It was an unmitigated disaster. He had all the charm and allure of a four day old, sweaty cheese sandwich and he voted Tory. Fortunately I got terrible diarrhoea halfway through. I didn't really, but that's what I told him as I penguin-walked away and disappeared for a drink in a pub around the corner. A slightly embarrassing encounter ensued later when he walked in the same pub and confronted me. I told him that I thought drinking more alcohol might kill the bugs in my stomach. I don't think he was convinced, mind.

Watched someone give birth? You know how they say that giving birth is a miracle? They (whoever they are) don't tell you it's quite a grim miracle. Rewind to school and I call - with horror - the sex education video where we were forced to watch a baby enter the world via it's mother's unshaven, over-stretched and rather torn unmentionables. I mean, you saw the front-bum actually split. It was like a Paul Daniels trick gone terribly wrong. I gasped and then I screamed a bit. The teacher then went on to tell us that when she had her own litter, she required nine stitches. She said this while laughing as 30 children tried desperately not to look at her groin. Not only did the baby make a terrible mess of its mam, but it came out looking like a brilliant-white alien covered in bloody snot. Some fucking miracle. But still, I'm sure it was all lovely once they gave it a bath and put the mother in an ice bath with a gin and tonic and all that.

Watched someone die? I once put my cat down. When it actually died, it flashed its eyes wide open and jerked its limbs about. Despite feeling like a feline-murderer, I like to think it Vogued into cat heaven. Can I get an Amen?

Visited Canada? No. I should though. I think I'd like it.

Visited Hawaii? Again, negative. I'm not a fan of Hawaiian pizza, if that means anything, which it probably doesn't. Sticking fruit and meat together just doesn't seem right. Like the Krankies.

Visited Europe? Yup. All over. Strangely, I've blocked toilets in Spain, Holland, France and the Czech Republic. Over wiping must be a British trait.

Visited Las Vegas? No. I have been to Skeg-Vegas though. I'm sure they're pretty similar.

Flown in a helicopter? Again, no. I'm all about Easy Jet and orange tunics.

Served on a jury? No. I'm far too corrupt for that kind of carry on. I feel sorry for people too easily. I'd be forgiving mass murderers on account of the fact that they had a lazy eye or had tenuous links to Nottingham, the motherland.

Cried yourself to sleep? Once. After watching Forrest Gump, the greatest film of ALL TIME. Jenny should not have died. She should have married Forrest and had more babies. By Caesarean Section.

Sang karaoke? Too many times. It's like I'm on Stars In Their Eyes. Tonight Matthew, I'm Michael Buble! Okay then, Dolly Parton.

Made prank phone calls? Of course! Growing up in Bestwood Village in the 80s and 90s, it was the only thing to do. Dad even let us and JOINED IN! Parent goals, people! Several EVIL teachers received pizzas courtesy of me. And middle-of-the-night taxis. Serves them right.

Had a pet? Two cats, a few goldfish and a stick insect (called Weeny) that I accidentally hoovered up. Although it lived in a jar with nothing to do all day, so perhaps it was a happy release.

Been skinny-dipping? Yup. I had no shame from the age of 21 to erm, 39.

Abseiled down a building? Yes - in a harness that was so tight that I was able to hit notes that Mariah Carey can only dream of.

Been camping in a tent? Yes. And it was absolutely fucking awful. Much like pet-keeping and gynaecology in all its various forms, it's just not for me. I like a nearby toilet and sink and a proper bed. On the night in question, me and the bestie woke up unable to breathe and reluctant to make the mile long trek to the overflowing toilets. We ended up abandoning the tent and most of our belongings and drove home at three in the morning. We know to quit when we're ahead, basically. Actually I probably cried myself to sleep that night. Tears of joy!

Done something that could have killed you? I think my liking for Wenzels and Gregg's hot sausage rolls are a true and real risk to my health.

Done something that you will regret for the rest of your life? No. Take it on the chin, learn from it and move on.

Rode a camel? No. I have inherited a dislike for camels from my mother who I once heard telling her friend that a mutual chumof theirs got VD after being spat at by a camel in Lanzarote. You can't trust them, can you?

Been on TV? I once went on BlockBusters. It didn't end well. I still maintain that my buzzer wasn't working. A fix, in other words. #stillbitter.

Been in a car accident? Loads. I'm a terrible driver. I wrote off a brand new car in Spain when I drove it into a lorry. Then I tried to say sorry to the driver but got my Spanish mixed up and ended up telling him I loved him. 'Yo Te Quiero mucho!' I boomed. He wasn't impressed.

Ever owned your dream car? I'm not the 'dream car' sort but my current ride - a Suzuki Swift - is a right bobby dazzler of a car, if I do say so myself.

Been Married? No. I don't see the point. I'd rather spend the money on a trip to Skeg-Vegas.

Fell in love? Of course. I'm in love right now. With Joey - and hot sausage rolls from Wenzels and Greggs. Which is what Jesus should have fed the five thousand with, not a few lumps of old mackerel.

Fell out of love? Yes. With Roxette in 1988 when they slagged Madonna off in Smash Hits. Who's laughing now, bitches?

Driven over 100mph? Yes - in a Nissan Micra. Check out my bad self. The car later died. I blame myself.

Worked in a pub? Yes. Three at the last count. Sacked from two of them. Marxism in action.

Been scuba diving? Yes! And I loved it. I looked quite sinister in a wetsuit though. I looked like a load of vacuum packed dildos. Inconvenient lumps and bumps everywhere. It was the deep sea diving equivalent of a fat bride on her wedding day. Me and neoprene rubber just aren't well matched. Also, I got told off for taking a shell from the bottom of the sea. Anyone would think I'd killed a litter of puppies to hear this woman go on at me. I think she had issues.

Eaten snails? I've had a few questionable things in my mouth over the years, but snails ain't one of em. No thank you.

A life well lived, I'm sure you'll agree.