Monday, 28 December 2009

Oh Danny Boy, The Pipes, The Pipes, Are Calling…..

I warn you now; this post is full of shit. Might be best to not eat whilst reading.

So, how was your Christmas then?

Fun I hope? Filled with good company, great food, and more nibbles than you can shake a tiny cocktail sausage at.

I must admit, I am feeling the effect of it at the moment. After a few days of nonstop excess, I am more bloated than a bullfrog right now. And my Irritable Bowel Syndrome is bloody killing me at the moment.

So all the above is more than likely going to lead me down a path which I thought I wouldn’t be visiting for a long, long, while.

The path called colonic irrigation.

Due to my IBS, I have often flirted with the idea of having a colonic for many years now. And about six months ago, I finally decided to take the plunge(r).

But I wasn’t alone on this………

I was talking to my mate Andy at work, just shooting the shit and stuff, when I mentioned that I was thinking of having it done. Immediately his eyebrows shot up.

“You know, I’ve always wanted to have that done as well. I’ve heard you feel great afterwards and I suffer terribly from bloating sometimes. Can I come with you?”

I have to admit, I was a tad surprised at this.

Seriously? You want to come with me?” I asked him.

“Yeah, why do you ask?”

“Well, isn’t it a bit weird, two blokes going together?”

“I’m pretty sure we won’t have to share the same pipe or anything.” he replied.

I had visions of us lying on a bed each, holding hands, while massive tubes left each of us and formed a giant Y shape as it went into a huge shit collecting machine.

I tried hard not to shudder.

“Well, if you really want to have it done, of course you can come with me.” I told him, pretty glad for the company to be honest.

And the weird thing was, as soon as you mentioned to anyone that you are planning to have this procedure done, whoever is listening always proclaims that they want to have it done as well. It’s like we all have this underlying urge to stick a pipe up our arse and be cleansed. It just takes someone brave enough to admit they are having it done for everyone else to start coming out of the woodwork.

Eventually the day of the great bum cleansing rolled round. I met Andy up in London and could tell immediately from the look on his face that he was worried.

“I’m worried.” he said.

I’m good, aren’t I?

“What's up mate?”

“Well, I’m about to have a pipe shoved up my bum. That's not right. This is so wrong. Will you come in with me?”

Do what?” I asked him.

“Will you come in with me? I don’t know if I can do this on my own.”

“Right, so you want me to come in with you, while you get half naked and have a pipe shoved up your anus?”



“Please. Can’t we just ask if that's allowed?”

I sighed and rubbed a hand over my eyes.

“Alright, if you really want me to come in with you, I’ll ask them if that's OK. But it is seriously fucking weird and we are never telling anyone if I do.”

“Deal.” Andy replied with a small note of relief in his voice.

As we walked through the door of the clinic, we were assaulted by the sound of new age music and the scent of incense hung heavy in the air. It was all very posh and very exclusive.

We stuck out like an erection in a church.

“This is…..nice.” Andy said, too afraid to touch anything.

I walked over to the reception with more confidence than I felt.

“Hello, me and my friend are here for some bum…I’m sorry, I mean colonic irrigation.” I said.

“What's your names please?” the receptionist asked me.

“I’m Dan Keenan. The pale and sweating man over there is Andy Newlands.”

Andy gave a weak little wave.

“OK then. Mr Keenan, your session is at six. Mr Newlands, yours is after at seven. Please take these health questionnaires and hand them in to your technician.”

I took the forms off her.

“Listen, this may sound like an odd question, but is there any chance that I could sit in on my friend’s session? He's a bit nervous.”

She looked at me like I was a complete mental.

“He is very nervous.” I followed up with a weak smile. We both looked over towards Andy, who was reading a poster about the best ways to align your auras with your moods. Admittedly he did look incredibly nervous. Whether it was from the ordeal we were about to go through, or the simple fact that he was totally unaware that he had an aura until now, we’ll never know.

“I’m sorry, each session is private I’m afraid. We can’t allow anyone else to sit in on them. Plus, why on earth would you want to?”

I have to admit, she had me at that one.

“Your right, of course. Sorry, silly question.” I tried to give her one last reassuring smile, but she looked at me like any minute now I was going to tear my shirt off and start trying to receive radio signals through my nipples.

I walked over to Andy.

“Do you know that our auras are visible to all animals?” he said.

“I didn’t mate.” I replied, handing him his form. “You’re on your own I’m afraid buddy. They won’t let me in with you.”


“Yep. And soon to be lots of it. Shall we?”

We sat down on a comfortable couch.

“So, you gonna be OK waiting for an hour while I have mine done, then I will do the same for you?” I asked him.

“Yeah, that's fine.” he said, eyes running down the huge list of questions on his form. “It says here ‘Have you ever had discharge from your nipples?’ I've never had that, have I?”

“I don’t think so? We never really talk about your nipples to be honest. I think that's if you’re a woman though, the leaky nips.”

“Oh. I’ll tick no then?”

“Probably best.”

Suddenly I heard my name being called out.

We looked at each other.

“Well, this is it then.” I said.

I resisted the urge to hug him and just settled for a manly handshake.

“Good luck” he said.

“You too.”

It was all very British.

I walked over to the treatment room, took a deep breath before I entered………

Please don’t be attractive. Please don’t be attractive. Please don’t be attractive.

………..and then pushed the door open to find that my one and only true fear- that I would be dealing with an incredibly hot Brazilian nurse who would get to see a side of me no woman should ever see- was gladly not going to come true. A middle aged woman with a warm reassuring smile was sitting waiting for me behind a desk.

“Hello.” I said, and immediately started to remove my trousers.

The woman sitting behind the desk looked a little shocked.

“Oh no Mr Keenan, I have a few questions to ask first before you do that!”


Zip goes back up.

Face goes red.

Epic fail.

We went through my questionnaire and I explained my reasoning for wanting the procedure done. Apparently many IBS sufferers have a colonic every few months and it greatly eases the discomfort. If it could take away a little bit off the pain I often felt, then it was all worthwhile in my opinion.

“OK then Mr Keenan, if you would like to pop your trousers and undergarments off and put on this gown, we shall get cracking.”

Once I was changed into my gown, with my arse hanging out in the wind, I hopped onto the treatment table. 

“Now you probably have a good idea about what's going to happen, but I will fill you in anyway. I will be inserting a tube up your rectum, don’t worry, it is very small and will be fully lubricated, so you won’t feel any discomfort, and we will begin to pump a warm saline solution into your lower bowl. You may feel a certain sensation like you are going to defecate, but please don’t worry, you won’t!”

She laughed at this. I could only nod like an idiot.

“It will feel like a rhythmic motion, you fill up, and then you will drain, removing all the compacted faeces and trapped gasses. It should take about a half hour to complete, and then you will be free to go home. How does that sound?”

“Sounds good. I’m psyched. Let’s do this” I said, clapping my hands together.

“OK then, if you would like to lie on your side and draw your knees up to your body.”

I did so as she busied herself behind me.

“I’ve lubricated up the nozzle…………”

And then she said the words that no man should ever hear.

“……and I’m now going to insert it into your anus.”

And she did.

Hmmmmmmmn. Different.

It didn’t hurt. It just felt very……..impersonal?

“The nozzle is fully in now, you’re doing great. I’m now going to start pumping in the solution.”

Whoa! HELLO! What's this?????????

Imagine you really need to poo. Multiply that by a thousand, that's what it felt like as my bowl slowly filled with warm solution.

“I think I’m going to shit myself!” I said in a panic as images of a warm jet of bottom water spraying everywhere like a fire hose filled my mind (I did warn you not to eat!).

“That's OK.” the doctor replied reassuringly “The tube will drain it all out in a minute.”

Just when it felt that I couldn’t hold it in any longer, the flow stopped and began to reverse out of me. I could feel the solution slowly, and very fucking weirdly, begin to leave my body.

I felt like a milkshake.

“This is so weird.” I said, staring fixatedly at the wall.

“Would you like to see what is being expelled from your body?” she asked me in a voice most people use when asking you if you would like to view their new conservatory.

“Nope, your fine” I replied curtly. “I’m just happy knowing it’s out there.”

So we carried on like this, solution goes in, evil comes out. All the while she was rubbing my belly and making soothing noises. It wasn’t half as bad as I thought it was going to be.

The whole process was over pretty quickly. She gave me a little pat on the shoulder and said “There. All done now. You can hop off.”

I woozily stood up, not really caring that my arse was on display.

“How do you feel?” she asked me.

“I feel pretty-“ I stopped when my backside started to make a noise like water going down a drain.

“Ohhhhh, that doesn’t feel good!” I said in alarm.

“Quickly, use the toilet down the hallway!” she said with urgency in her voice.

Odd things were happening to my nether regions. A build up of pressure was growing and I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to hold it in any longer. I scrabbled at the door, yanked it open and began to run.

“Mr Keenan!” I heard the nurse cry out behind me “You have to……..” But the rest was lost on me as I legged it down the corridor; head down with gown flapping behind me like Batman, as I ran towards the heavenly sanctuary of the toilet.

I shut the door, sat on the loo, and waited.

I didn’t have to wait long.

I won’t go into too much detail, needless to say, jets of molten lava shot out of me, combined with wind that wouldn’t sound out of place if it were howling round the very gates of hell.

“Ow! Ow! Ow!” I cried out, my arse reduced to tatters in seconds.

It was relentless, a never ending stream of evil. The small toilet began to fill up with a noxious stench that began to make me gag. My left leg was involuntarily kicking the door in front of me as each spasm pulsed through my violated body.

Make it stop! Please make it stop!” I moaned to myself, sweat pouring off my forehead.

Finally the evil began to slow down and I shakily got to my feet. That sudden movement must have dislodged some well hidden evil in some cosy nook in my body as my bottom started doing the hippy hippy shake once more.

Why won’t this end?” I cried out, as the toilet began to fill up once more with the smell of death and my bumhole began to sound like the Philharmonic Brass Orchestra. I half expected to see blue sheets of flame shoot out of my arse like I was some form of human Catherine Wheel.

Finally, after what felt like I actually passed a kidney through my poop chute, I gathered up my gown around me and opened the door to be confronted by a waiting room full of people, all looking at me in disgust and horror as the foul stench and green fog began to billow out from the toilet behind me. I hadn’t realised that the waiting area was right in front of the toilet I was using and they had all heard every last detail of my 15 minute visit.

My face was burning as much as my arse was.

Trying to muster up as much dignity as I could, I proudly walked back to the nurse’s office, trying to pull the gown round my backside, but naturally leaving a foot long gap between the edges.

It’s a good job I have a nice bum……..

The nurse was trying to hold back a smile as I walked back in.

“You went in the wrong toilet Mr Keenan. You could have used the one right outside the treatment room. I did try to tell you.”

Epic fail part 2.

After making my goodbyes to the nurse, I gingerly sat down in the waiting room, avoiding everyone else's gaze. After about 40 minutes, I saw Andy taking little baby steps down the corridor towards me. He looked white.

“You OK mate?” I asked him as he reached me.

He gave a little shake of his head and said nothing more.

After we paid at reception, we both walked slowly down the road towards the station.

Finally, Andy broke the silence.

“I feel like I’ve been fucked by a horse.”

“Me too. That wasn’t nice in the slightest.”

“I’m never having that done again.” he said, shaking his head. Then he spotted a pub in the distance.

“I need to poo.”

“Me too.”

We pooed.

I have to admit though, that afterwards for about a month, I really did feel so much better. My IBS was under control and I hardly had any pain at all. So it definitely did do something right on that front. Just not a very pleasant procedure to go through really.

So due to the Christmas excess, and the fact I have been suffering lately, I am thinking of going again. Sadly, Andy isn’t with us anymore. I don’t mean he has died, he has just moved to Jersey (which in its own way is probably the same thing). But he called me the other night and said he will be over soon.

I got my poo buddy back……

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Merry Christmas Everyone........

Eggnog anyone?

As this is going to be my last post before the holidays, I thought I would have a Christmas party themed last entry and take the opportunity to wish everybody who has followed/commented/laid eyes upon this blog, a very Merry Christmas.

It seems really weird wishing this to a load of people who I have never actually met, but through a combination of getting to know folk through their kind comments on here, plus also reading some amazing insights into people’s lives that they have been kind enough to share on their own blogs, I feel as if I know many of you pretty bloody well.

Cheesy nibble?

I’ve been blogging since early September and in those short few months it has amazed me how open most of you are in sharing your own lives. I count myself to be an intensely private person, I don’t really share anything about myself even with the people I am close to, and yet I come on here and read some amusing, sobering, informative, heart wrenching, and yet always brilliantly written snatches of your own lives that you always seem happy to allow others to be a part of.

Anyone for a dance?

Dunno how you do it, but God bless you for that. I am happy to share the stupid little things with you, but try and get me on the big stuff and I would clam up faster than Clam Clamberg, King of the Clams. So I admire you all, and admit to having a slight twinge of jealously at how some of you can do this.

I hope all of you are awaiting the arrivals of your families, wrapping presents, stocking fridges and freezers, breaking up from work, ringing up old friends, writing out cards, settling down on the sofa with a wine or a whisky, hugging each other that little bit more, the one time of year it feels acceptable to do so.

Ohhhh, mistletoe.

If you have children, I hope that they are running round with more excitement than any human being actually has a right too .Ever. If you are children, then why the bloody hell are you reading this? Go play with some toys or something?

If this is your first Christmas with a loved one, I hope it’s the most memorable one of the lot. If this feels like your 1000th Christmas, I hope none of the magic has rubbed off.

And if any of you are reading this are sadly going to be alone this Christmas, then you are in my thoughts. You really are.

And that's really it from me. Other than to say I wish you all the Merriest of Christmases.

God bless us, everyone.

Monday, 21 December 2009

The Death Of Till Monkey…..

The till monkey is dead. Long live the till monkey!

I quit the temp job today. I only had a few days left, but I weighed up the pros and cons, cost of getting to London vs. hourly rate, my sense of sanity vs. rude customers, that sort of thing, and decided, enough's enough.

I woke up this morning and I wasn’t in the mood in the first place. I had been out for a few drinks with some old work colleagues on Saturday night, which made a nice change to be honest as I really hadn't had a chance to go out for ages.

Now a combination of me not really being a drinker and also not having gone out for some time, it left me feeling a little worse for wear yesterday. I felt fine coming home. Found my flat ok. Managed to get the key in the lock the first time. And didn’t even have a 20 minute conversation with my cat in the hallway. I even had a normal phone call with the missus who said I sounded fine and not drunk like she expected.

And yet when I woke up the next day I felt terrible. I also had the indignity of looking in the mirror and finding out that my face was as white as milk and my lips had turned purple from the red wine I had been drinking. I either looked like the world’s oldest emo kid, or a slightly hairier, less effeminate, and certainly less punch able version of that bloke out of Twilight.

So thinking I would be fine for work today, I woke up to still find that I was feeling the effects of Saturday.

What a Jessie!

So my long and freezing cold trek to work, plus the slight nausea I was feeling, really didn’t help me get into that retail spirit.

So when I arrived at reception to speak to the beautiful people that organise the temps, my mood was a little on the dark side.

I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I can’t do this.

I walked over to the head beautiful person, someone who I really didn’t like very much. She was one of those people that spoke down to you without even hiding it. Plus she wore far too much make up. It coated her face like plaster on a plasters radio. It was so thick that if she were to turn a corner, her makeup would be coming at you first before her body was.

“Hello Dan. We didn’t expect you in today. We thought you weren’t working.” she said, with her normal flat tone.

Yes! I can go home!

“But I’m sure we can find you a place to work.” she finished off, noticing the happy look fade from my eyes.

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! Curses! And I would have got away with it if it weren’t for you pesky beautiful people!

“Oh good.” I replied in my most sardonic manner.

It turned out I was to work in the shirt and ties section. That would be fun, wouldn’t it? Shirts. Ties. Yeah, that could really get me through the day. Shirts. Ties.


I was led up to meet the head of clothing section. A stereotypical camp man who sort of looked me up and down and said “Yeah, you’ll do.”

Ohhhh, get you, bitch.

“Walk this way.” he said to me, and then minced off flouncy like past the Calvin Klein section. I resisted the urge to mimic his walk, but settled for a butch manly stride in case people thought we were together.

“Right, wait here a moment by the Armani section, and I will get someone to come and collect you and take you where you are supposed to go.” he told me.

“Will do!” I replied, with more energy than I felt.

So I stood there like a lemon. All the people that worked in the Armani bit looking at me oddly.

Ten minutes passed. No one came.

Another five minutes passed.

No one came.

Eventually one of the Armani people came over to me.

“Are you meant to be working here today?” she asked me.

“No, not here,” I replied “Someone is meant to be coming to collect me.”

“Well you are confusing the customers, they think you work in this section, could you stand over there please.” she said, pointing at a spot that was probably about two foot away from my feet.

“Are you serious?” I replied.


I took one step over to the right.

“How's that?” I asked.

“Perfect.” she replied with a little smile.

Excellent.” I replied back with as much sarcasm as I could muster (which is a lot).

So I stood there. Right in the way of the flow of customers. Which with my shiny name badge on, immediately screamed out STAFF WHO KNOWS WHERE EVERYTHING IS.

“Excuse me, could you tell me where the baby section is?” someone asked me.

I had no idea.

“Er, I think that's on level 2?” I bluffed.

“Thank you.”

Another customer came up to me.

“Could you tell me where the gloves are?”

“Level 2.” I said, thinking I might as well stick with the same story.

“Thank you.” they replied, heading off to the escalator.

All in all I must have had about nine people come up to me asking where various things were, and each time I sent them up to level 2, which by now in my head, had grown to the size of Narnia and contained literally everything in the world. Bugger doing the stock take up there I thought. I could just picture the whole of the department store empty apart from the mythical level 2, where crying customers milled around like bewildered sheep, wondering why nothing was meant to be where it was.

By now, about half an hour had passed since my camp friend had left me.

This is getting stupid. Where the bloody hell were they?

Eventually another ten minutes passed and it was plainly obvious they had just gone off and left me.

A simple word formed in my head. And that word was:


“Screw this.” I muttered, and went off to the locker room to get my bag and coat.

Once I got my bits, I headed over to the exit and the beautiful people that ran the temps, the one I spoke to this morning was actually putting more makeup on as I came over!

“That bloke you left me with has just gone off and left me standing like an idiot for about 40 minutes. I’m off home as my day has been wasted. I think this will be my last day here.” I said, trying to avert my gaze as she tore hers away from her compact mirror. I feared if she looked at me I would turn to stone, like she was some kind of Medusa after a makeover.

“Oh no, that's awful.” she said with fake sincerity. “I will definitely have a word with them about this”

We both know full well that she would do no such thing.

So as I left this place, I knew in my heart I was never to return. I have my nice new job coming up in a month, and the world of retail should hopefully be nothing more than a distant memory to me. As I walked through the door, I thought about raising my fist in the air, Judd Nelson style from The Breakfast Club, but to be honest it was snowing and I didn’t have any gloves on.

I was till monkey.

Till monkey no more.

Friday, 18 December 2009

The Further Adventures Of Till Monkey……..

Now I personally wouldn’t count myself as the perfect human being. I’m pretty close though. A few years in deep cognitive behavioural therapy, and maybe the ability to inhabit another humans body, and I think that you would have perfection pretty much nailed on.

So, non-perfect I may be, but I pale into significance in comparison to the other people I have met this week.

Compared to them I am a God!

Worldly wise, benevolent, and almost regal in the way I conduct myself. I am nothing like the shivering warm shits of people that I have encountered in these hellish few days.

The till monkey lives on........

I found myself in a different department at the start of this week. I was in the wine section. The very exclusive, so costly it will make your eyeballs bleed, wine section.

My first duties were to accompany a strange lady, who I shall call Betty, amongst the cavernous labyrinth that is the department stores stock rooms, while we gathered goods to take out onto the department floor. The stockrooms consisted of huge damp corridors with flickering lights that seemed straight out of a horror film. It reminded me so badly of the set of Aliens that I kept on expecting to see the darting shape of a xenomorph flit between the isles. I half hoped I would turn a corner and see the Alien Queen herself, but instead of birthing facehugger eggs, she was shitting out boxes of Paul Smith designer spring water (£16.99)

Betty was a strange woman though. About four feet high, she scurried through the dim light like one of Tolkien’s hobbits. I imagined her when she started this job as being five feet and full of life, but the years of isolation within this dungeon like stock rooms had robbed her of all vitality (and height) and also the ability to communicate with other humans. Trying to talk with her was a bloody nightmare. I would settle on one topic of conversation, only for her to veer off on a completely different direction without any given notice. It was like when you used to get crossed lines on the telephone. One minute we would be talking about how much stock we would be taking out to the floor, the next I found myself discussing her older sister’s bad foot. I found it very hard to keep up.

“Ohh, its dark in here.” was Betty’s mantra as we walked around, trying not to disturb too much of the stock and have it fall on our fragile bodies. That was all she kept repeating. “Ohh, it’s dark in here.”

Oh, and getting my name wrong at every given opportunity as well. Ben. Van. David. All were flung at me until I grew to weary to correct her in the end.

I liked Van the most.

Van would be a cool name.

She stopped at one point and held up a jar of strawberry jam to her face, trying to read the product code.

“Ohh its dark in here.” She said, trying to read the numbers in the dim light.

“Perhaps they should print them in Braille?” I suggested helpfully.

Betty gave me a stern look.

“Blindness is no laughing matter.” she told me “I had a cat that was going blind. It wasn’t funny. It kept falling off my table because it couldn’t see the end of it.”

I had to chew the insides of my mouth to try and not laugh out loud.

Eventually I found myself back in the wine section, free to be let loose on the public.

Now bear in mind I know nothing about alcohol due to the fact I am not much of a drinker. So after about five minutes of arriving on the floor, I found myself confronted by a rather posh man waving an expensive bottle of red wine at my face.

“Could you tell be about this bottle?” he asked me with an accent that screamed MONEY.

“Errrr.” I could only reply, staring in alarm at this sudden problem that had materialized out of nowhere.

What could I say?

It’s red?

It’s horrendously expensive.

It will get you shitfaced?

Luckily for me, one of the other full time workers saw my distress and stepped in to help.

“This is a beautiful little number sir, matured in Tuscany. Deep flavours, hint of vanilla, lovely aftertaste. Very popular at the moment.”

The rich customer was lapping it up, nodding at everything the sales associate was saying.

I could sense a way to amuse myself here........

If you’re a rich customer, you can just say anything to them and they will believe you, as they think as you’re in this department, you must be some kind of an expert.

I am not an expert on anything.

Other than bullshit.

I’m bloody good at that.....

The wine department was run by a beautiful person. Mini skirt. Heels. Attitude. So I would have to be careful around her, for I was only a mere till monkey and not even fit enough to look in her beautiful person direction. But when I found myself on my own, and someone came up to me for an opinion, I let my creative side run riot.

“Could you tell me about this wine? Is it considered decent?” I was asked at one point.

“Very decent sir.” I replied in my best I-KNOW-WHAT-I’M-TALKING-ABOUT voice.

“Considered by many to be at the forefront of its generation” (eh?) “Subtle hints of wood, smoky, with the barest glimmer of Evokes memories of bonfire night, the crackle of the flames, the cold nipping at your cheeks. A very popular wine sir.”

He was nodding at everything I had to say. I half expected him to suddenly call my bluff and report me for talking bollocks. But he didn’t.

He bought three bottles.

I’m good.

And this is how I have spent the last week amusing myself. Seeing how far I can push it before I get rumbled.

I’m still going strong.

Some of the fellow temps that work with me are quite nice. There is a nice black fella who always greets me in the morning with a groovy handshake that always leaves me confused. I like it though because it makes me feel urban.

One of the other temps is a little Indian fella, and the reason he stands out is that he is one of those people that if you make a mistake, he immediately draws everybody else’s attention to it.

I hate people like that.

Today I was serving someone who came in to buy some cigarettes. Now somehow I managed to press a combination of buttons on the till to ring it though as £400,000.

A rather large amount.

A funny mistake.

Easy to correct.

“Bloody hell!” said the customer “I knew this place was expensive, but that’s taking the piss!”

We laughed at the customer’s wit and I made moves to void it off.

And then my little friend had to get involved.

“That’s too much!” he cried out loud on seeing the amount that was displayed on my till “You have made a mistake.”

“Do you think?” I muttered darkly.

But now he was off. Speaking loudly and trying to get other people’s attention.

“Look at his till. He has made a mistake. I will do it for you.”

I could see the lady beautiful person manager look over. There was no way I wanted her to see this simple, but embarrassing, mistake.

“It’s ok.” I said to my annoying little friend. “I will sort it out.”

But he wouldn’t leave me alone.

“What are you going to do?” he said, standing at my side, still talking in that far too loud voice. “What are you going to do?”

Over and over again.......

I snapped.

“I tell you what I’m going to do!” I hissed in a low voice so the customer wouldn’t hear. “I’m going to stick this fucking pencil in your eye if you don’t shut up and leave me alone!”

My little friend’s eyes went huge as he saw me wave the offending pencil at him and he slowly backed away.

A little over the top?


He shut up though.

But he is now not talking to me.

I can live with that.

I am till monkey.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

You Have Been Cordially Invited To.............

…………………….My Christmas Blog party next week.

As it’s the party season, and many of us have far too many miles between us to ever meet in real life, I thought I would hold a little shin ding on here next week to wish everybody a very Merry Christmas.

I don’t know what night it will be, so keep your diaries open and your glad rags on standby, and join me in a little celebratory drinkie, where we can toast each other and watch Ubergrumpy do his Queen karaoke (I have it on good authority that he does a mean Freddie Mercury).

All we hear is (CLAP CLAP) Radio Ga Ga (CLAP CLAP) Radio Goo Goo (CLAP CLAP)

Gifts for the blog owner are not compulsory, but festive cheer and goodwill to all are a must.

So keep your eyes peeled and your sensibilities in check (JenJen, my stern gaze is looking at you. No getting shit faced and telling everyone “I bloody loves you. You’re my best mate you are.”) and pop your head in and say “Hi” if you get a chance.

Warm and festive Christmas hugs.

In case any of you funny people think this is me, it's not.

It's the reason why retards and movie making software shouldn't mix.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

It Has Been Confirmed That I Officially Rule!………

Just a quick message, my moist little chumlets.

As anyone who has been reading this knows, I have been out of work for many, many, dark and self doubting months.

Well, I have had a job application going quietly in the background which I haven’t mentioned for fear of jinxing it.

I received a phone call today to say THAT I HAVE GOT THE JOB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

*Runs round bumping joyous fists with everyone*

Its a role which (ironically) involves getting the long term unemployed back to work through mentoring, which sounds really interesting, and most importantly, gives me a salary that far outstrips any I have had before, so clearing these credit card debts I have accrued over the last few months should be a little bit easier.

I am very happy. And Kates is happy because it means that Christmas isn’t cancelled. So we are both happy.

So thank you to anyone who has offered words of advice or comfort during this fairly shite time. It hasn’t gone unnoticed, and I was grateful for every one of them.

So I now await my return to the land of the working (if this temping job doesn’t kill me first!).


Friday, 11 December 2009

I Am Till Monkey, Hear Me Roar……..

Retail workers of the world, I salute you. For too long I have taken you for granted. For too long I have watched you behind your tills of misery, eyes dead, drool hanging limply from flaccid lips, souls seared by the inanity of the monotonous routines that you grind out, while each day bleeds relentlessly into another endless procession of bone twisting torture which is sound tracked by the cheery sound of jingling change.

I have ignored your pleas for acceptance, as the very fibre of your being cries out for a simple thank you from us undeserving members of the public, a pure gesture of acceptance from one human being to another. I have ignored you and I am ashamed.

Not anymore.

Retail workers of the world, you are one of the essential cogs that enables this miserable planet to keep turning. Providing small trinkets of pleasure for the rest of society to purchase and consume as we try to forget the daily pressure of our own mortality bearing down on us with the weight and heat of a thousand burning suns.

You are the unsung angels of the common workplace.

God bless you all.

As you may have guessed, I have started that Christmas temping job, working in one of London's premier luxury department stores. And it has opened my eyes to world I never knew existed before.

The world of the till monkey.

Now at this place, there are basically two kinds of people who work there.

One group is the beautiful people. Those glamorous and well dressed folk who work in all the designer departments. The women wearing miniskirts, high heels and makeup so thick you could grout your tiles with it. The men in their smart suits, immaculate gel sculptured hair and aftershave so strong, it is like a nasal form of rohypnol. These people are bastards. Sub human scum. I honestly can’t put it any clearer than that.

The other group that works in this place are the till monkeys. Those sad, walking meatbags, whose only use is as a pathetic object to abuse, mistreat and look down upon. 

I am a till monkey.

And very much like a monkey in the wild, at various points during this week, I have had an almost uncontrollable urge to suddenly begin screaming out loud and to start hurling handfuls of my own steaming warm faeces at people as they pass by.

It’s not much fun.

I started on Monday. It had been about three weeks since I had partaken in the training of what to do in my section, so naturally I had forgotten everything by then. So when I arrived that morning, I reported to the manager of the department I would be working in.

After the usual greeting and such, I was asked if I had done the till training.

“About three weeks ago” I replied, “So would it be possible to have a five minute refresher course just to get back up to speed?”

Somehow those words were run through a translator that turned them into: Yes, I am fully versed in the world of tills and would so dearly love to start serving the public straight away please, as that is what I suddenly found myself doing.

“This is your till.” the till monkey manager said to me, pointing at my lonely little island with its cash register sitting in the centre like an accusing frown. “You just get on with it and you will be fine.”


I stood there, looking dumbly at the high tech machine in front of me, a machine that could do anything in the world of retail but tell me how the fuck I was meant to use it.

“Me and you are going to have problems, aren’t we?” I muttered at it darkly.

It just blinked back at me mockingly, like HAL’s eviler twin brother

Suddenly there was a customer walking over to me with a basket of shopping.

Oh shit. Oh shit. Oh shit. Oh shit. Oh shit. Oh shit. Oh shit. Oh shit. Oh shit. Oh shit. Oh shit.

*Quick word on most of the people that shop in places like this.



That's probably got us up to speed*

“Hello. Can I help you at all?” I said in my best cheery retail voice.

“Just these please.” The customer replied, handing me the basket.

Now somehow I managed to muddle my way through this transaction. There were only a few things in the basket and I managed to press the right combination of buttons on the till to make it all work.

I ruled.

I served my first customer. I could do this!

And then I looked at who I was serving next in the queue and saw that it was my first celebrity.

*Another quick word on this, as this department store is very posh, well known celebrities can be found wandering round most of the floors like lost children. It can be very surreal.*

Now I am not going to name this celebrity because I am still going to be working at this place for a few more weeks, and I had the rather bizarre situation a few weeks ago of the author of a book I reviewed in a post on here leaving me a comment on my blog thanking me for doing so. See here.

I know the chances of this being read by the said celebrity are slim to anorexic, but if he googles his own name and my blog comes up, I could get into trouble. So nameless he shall be for now, until I leave in a few weeks and if anyone is still interested by then, I can name him (I hope that makes sense?).

So anyway, this celebrity. He is a fairly young comedic actor, quite portly, plays a cheeky chappy in a huge sitcom on TV.

He looks at me as he walks over, giving me the: I know you know who I am look. I give him the: I know you know I know who you are, but I’m going to act like I don’t know who you are look back. Now this is quite hard to pull off. I think it basically means I look constipated.

He has no basket, but just dumps a handful of stuff at my till.

“Just these please mate.” he said to me.

I had one of those moments. Slightly out of body and unreal. A person who I normally watched and enjoyed on TV was now talking with his mouth at me. With words.

“Can I get you a bag?” I squeaked back at him.

“Nah, your alright.” he replied.

So I slowly started to scan his stuff through the till. As each item went through, I became more and more confident. And then he threw a spanner in the works.

“Can I pay for my parking ticket please?” he said.

“Of course you…………”

Huh, what the hell? Parking ticket??????

“……….can.” I said with the voice of a man condemned to the gallows.

He handed his ticket to me and I stared at it dumbly. I then looked at him, sweat forming on my forehead, while he looked back at me, irritation growing in his eyes at the look of terror that passed on my face.

I tore my gaze away and placed it on the monitor of the till.

Parking ticket! Parking ticket! Where's the fucking button for parking tickets?

I randomly began stabbing at buttons hoping that the parking ticket section would magically appear. Whole sections on vegetables, root beer, transaction voids, emergency exits, all flashed before my eyes, but no sodding parking ticket section. After what felt like a million frantic button jabs, I half expected for the till to suddenly start reciting 16th century French poetry at my terrified face. "Nul ne porte pour moy le noir. On vent meilleur marchie drap gris; Or tiengne chascun, pour tout voir, Qu'encore est vive la souris."

The famous funny man in front of me began to tap his fingers impatiently on my cash register and muttered darkly “Come on.”

I was being abused by someone famous!!!

Now in my head, I am normally being abused by a celebrity, but that celebrity in question is always Holly Willoughby, and she is normally wearing a dominatrix outfit that spells out “I heart Dan” on the brassiere in tiny metal studs as she does the abusing. It has never been a very annoyed large comedic actor. That would just be weird.

Suddenly I must have pressed the correct buttons as the parking ticket section came up and I was able to ring it off. My relief was almost palpable and I began putting his goods in a bag.

“I said I didn’t want a bag.” he said, the sheer hatred for this cretin in front of him plain to see on his face and in his words.

“No, of course you didn’t, I’m sorry.” I replied, hastily shoving everything into his open hands.

“Cheers mate.” he said as he left, and then he winked.

I was winked at by someone off the telly!!!!!

I tried to calm down as he left, my heart slowing to normal levels, when suddenly a thought popped in my head.

Did I scan those last two items?

I mentally ran through the last five minutes.


I didn’t.


So what normally happens when you fail to do that? Well, as you leave this luxury department store with your non scanned goods, the alarms will go off and you will have about six burly security guards chasing after you of suspicion of theft.

I could just see the next day’s newspaper headlines.

It wasn’t me!” cried the portly chuckle maker as he was lead to the police van. “It was the twat with the beard!”

In a few years time I’m sure I will find it amusing……..

To be honest though, the customers are not the rudest people to serve in this place. That privilege belongs to the beautiful people.

You kind of expect the regular customers to be rude, it’s a given necessity. Most of them are obscenely rich, are used to people fawning over them at any given moment, and come from backgrounds so far removed from my own its unreal.

But the beautiful people? They are basically the same as me but with a shinier name badge. And yet nearly every encounter with them involves them looking down at us till monkeys with almost unbearable distain.

Take this encounter I had the other day.

A lady beautiful person comes walking over to me with a trolley full of shopping.

“Hello.” I say with a smile “How are you today?”

I get a half smile back and nothing more. I am nothing to her. I am till monkey.

Fair enough then, if that's how you want to play it darling, I thought.

I scan her French stick loaf through the till.

“Can I get you a bag with this?” I ask.

She laughs at me and says in a voice that implies I am an idiot. “Well how else am I going to carry it home?”

The urge to mention that most people bring their own shopping bags nowadays sits behind my lips, and then decides that as I have been on my feet for seven hours without a break, it’s too bloody knackered to travel any further out into the world and just stays there, lying stupidly on my tongue.

“Of course. You’re so right. Is there anything else I can do for you?” I reply with a heavy sigh.

She gives a little shake of the head. Not a thank you from her. Nothing. It was at this point that I had the urge to snap her French stick loaf in half, ram each end into her eye sockets, and shove her into her trolley and send her careening across the store, scattering shoppers out the way while she clings on to the front of the trolley, screaming with her protruding French stick antennae like some Daliesque hood ornament.

As I watch her totter away on high heels that make her resemble a new born baby giraffe taking its first steps, the only sign of the little fantasy that is playing out in my mind is a small twitch under my right eye.

I now know why people snap and start shooting co-workers.

I have another few weeks of this. I don’t know how I am going to do it. And whoever thought it was a good idea to ask a man with OCD to pack shopping bags must surely have the sickest sense of humour. It takes me ages. Admittedly each bag is a work of art. Everything coordinated in size, colour and shape, but when it takes me about 25 minutes to do it, that's hardly pleasing for the poor sod who just wants to take their shopping and go home.

So I’ll say it again. Retail workers, you have my awe, you really do. And the next time I am being served by someone, I will look them straight in the eye afterwards and say “Thank you.” And then I will probably go round behind the counter and just hold them in my arms as they weep furiously into my shoulder while I stroke their hair and whisper “It’s OK. I understand. I’ve been there.”

I am till monkey.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

We’ll Meet Again…….

Hello everyone!

I am currently in the middle of that temping job at the moment, which means that I am not getting home till late, which has the knock on effect of me not getting on here and also getting out visiting you all as well.

Not that you have probably noticed my absence, or really care even, but this is mainly my ego writing this in the vain hope that somebody out there does...........anybody...........hello?..........

But I will be back here on the weekend to catch up with folk, and also tell anybody who is interested about the fun I am having in this new job (plus all the famous celebrities I have served, and one that I have really annoyed). Plus I know I have a load of backlogged blogs to read through (Which I will).

I know this sounds like I believe that I have a load of people hanging on my every word (I don’t, honestly!), but I didn’t want anybody thinking that I was being rude by not stopping by to visit (I’m looking right at you JenJen).

Hope this little message finds you well if your eyes are on it right now. If they are not on it, then how the hell are you reading this???

Warm and tired hugs.

And my feet hurt. Like, really hurt, man.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Dan Aid………

I know you are there. I can feel your gaze on my words, Feels nice, kind of tingly to be honest. So now that I know you are reading this with your eyeballs, I need to ask you something.

I need your help.

No, not you. Can you move out the way please? Stand over there.

You, there, wearing that thing with the red on it. I need your help.

No, not you. Your in the way again. The last time I accepted help from you I ended up on my own in Prague, wearing a floral dress with matching hat, carrying nothing but a passport under the name of Mrs Bigglestaff. Do you remember that? It was a nightmare getting home, I tell you. That wasn’t nice at all. You are definitely out sunshine.

That's it, you. Yes, you, I need your help. There is no point looking round to see if I’m talking to anyone else, it’s clearly you I am talking to. You’re the only one here now, so it must be you? So take that look of surprise off your face and hunker down while I tell you how I need your help (hmmmmn, you smell nice).

It’s like this………..

I am an original. A one off. Unique in shape, form, and indeed, texture. There is nothing else like me out there. God was in a special mood when he made me. He had a big smile on those godly chops as I was hewn from the purest of clay into this fine specimen of a human being that is currently tapping out these words to you right now.

And that's how I would like my blog to be as well, a reflection of me.


So when I started it, I emptied my brainscape to try and come up with a sparkly original title. Deep in that cavernous pit where my thoughts scamper and scurry like tiny hobgoblins in the witching hour, an almost slow dawning of something huge arriving began to take shape. Vague at first, it slowly appeared through the green mind fog to flash at me two simple words.

Vacant Mind.

PERFECT! I cried in my head. And I may have even cackled as well. And I may have even been stroking Dotty on my lap to complete the Bond villain caricature.

Vacant Mind. It was the pinnacle of blog names. Two words that summed up perfectly the attitude to blogging.

Here's an exercise.

Next time you idly flick through blogger, looking at everybody else's wonderful sites, check out the names of them. I bet you about one in three have the same word in the title.

That word, you ask?


The word ramblings appears in so many blog titles it’s unreal. And that made me wonder why?

The only explanation I could come up with is maybe it’s a small sense of self conscious behaviour on the writer’s part.

I mean, when you blog, you are basically taking a load of your thoughts and giving them to a complete stranger to look at. So when you do so, you might as well be saying “Here you are, take a look at something I wrote. Don’t worry if you think it’s silly, it’s nothing serious, just some stupid ramblings that I put down for you to read.” 

It’s quite a daunting experience for first time bloggers to suddenly let their babies out into the world, so perhaps as some form of protection, sticking the word ramblings into the blog title might take the sting out of it a little bit, a consciousness effort on the writers part so the reader doesn’t take them too seriously in case they hate what they are reading, which is complete monkey bollocks to be honest, as every blog I have ever come across always has something worth reading about (apart from those Earn Money While You Blog ones. They never floated my boat to be honest).

Anyway, that's my theory on the rambling thing. Could be true. Could be the musings of an idiot. I’ll let you decide.

Now, back to me.

Vacant Mind was a perfect blog title. It had a touch of the Hey, look at me, but don’t take me too seriously in those two words sitting majestically in the title, and I liked it immensely. It pleased me.

So I ran with it for a month or so.

And then I thought I would google it.

Big mistake.

I wasn’t original.

I wasn’t unique.

I was one of about four blogs that had that title.

I’m manly enough to admit that I nearly wept. I beat at my apartment walls, crying “Why? Why must you torment me so?”

It was bad.

By now you must be reading this and thinking “Where the hell do I come in?”

Well, I’ll tell you.

I have to change the name of this blog and I need your help in doing so.

I need something unique, I need something pure, and I need something that just screams me.

“So why not think of it yourself?” You would also be thinking (along with “Why am I going along with this?”).

My creative well has run dry I’m afraid, I have been trying to think of new names and been coming up short. Plus, I thought it might be amusing to get other people involved. I like interaction. It makes me happy.

Looking through some of the blogs I follow, I see some really cool and unique names in there. My favourite has to be Jules and Night Notes On Napkins. It sounds really funky and original, not just a generic blog name. But I also like Matthews AbodeOneThree, its very bold and to the point. In fact, looking down my blog list, I can’t see a bad name in there. And that's where I want to be, amongst all the cool kids. With a funky sounding name.

So, my fellow bloggers, can I ask you for your help on this? I would like to run it like a competition, but I am unemployed and have nothing to give you. I can give you my gratitude though, and that's worth more than any trinket in my eyes.

So I am welcoming all suggestions to a name change. My aim is to have it changed before the end of the year.

I will ask you if you would be kind enough to give me your suggestions, then once I have enough, I will run some kind of poll for people to vote on (This could all backfire spectacularly as I could get no suggestions, or even worse, no votes. But if that's the case, I’m sure I would have thought about something by then anyway. It’s only a bit of fun to see out the year in. I’m crazy like that).

Here are some pointers for any new folk reading (and I’d like you to get involved as well).

: My name is Dan.

: Ninjas make me laugh.

: Also zombies.

: I’m mildly neurotic.

: I over analyse myself far too much.

: I don’t like people (other than whoever is reading this. You rock!).

: I’m the most sarcastic human being alive.

: I'm grumpy.

Those are a few pointers; any of my fellow readers who have been here long enough probably have a pretty good idea of how to sum me already (twat).

In case you think I am incredibly lazy in asking others to rename my blog, I ran some of my own efforts past Kates this afternoon.

What about I See Ninjas?


I See Zombie Ninjas?




And that's why I need your help. If you leave it to me, I will just end up with something really shit.

So that's it then. Thanks for any help you give me on this. Feel free to stick any suggestions in the comments section (any libellous ones will be removed swiftly. Oh, and it might be an idea to google it as well, we don’t want to be doing this again in a few months time when I have another hissy fit) and I will shortlist them for a poll.

I’m hugging you all.


I've just thought of one.

The Glorious Nation That Is Dan.

I can’t decide if it’s genius or donkey shit.

That's probably not a good thing?

It's donket shit, isn't it?

Damn, this is hard.....

Tuesday, 1 December 2009


There are about four things in total the British have introduced into popular society.

1) An almost superior sense of self loathing.

2) The colour beige.

3) Chips.

4) The pub.

 And none of them sum up the British heritage more than the last one. 

The humble pub is woven into the very fabric of the rich tapestry that makes up our unique history. All throughout the ages they have been the focal point of the community, the hub in which entire towns revolve around. From dens of iniquities, to warm, social meeting spots where families and friends meet up on regular occasions to catch up on old times, the pub has always been there quietly in the background, connecting everyone and everything.

The great London diarist, Samuel Pepys, would write down detailed accounts of his drinking sessions in 17th century London, of the merriment of the evenings and the hangovers that accounted the next day, giving the reader the sense of how important the Public Houses of the time were to the general population, all the while moaning about how much his head hurt- the massive lightweight.

Charles Dickens would regularly include descriptive passages of Victorian drinking in his Sketches By Boz, essentially a series of travelogues recounting the experiences he encountered while walking round Victorian London. Mainly whilst pissed.

Oscar Wilde, Henry James, Joseph Conrad, Virginia Woolf, T S Eliot, W B Yeats, William Makepeace Thackeray, Evelyn Waugh, Philip Larkin and Kingsley Amis, all of them could have been found at some point in history in the bowels of some smoky pub, debating, creating, arguing, and quite possibly telling the person sitting next to them that they were “My bestest mate (hic)." and " I bloody loves you (hic).”  whilst probably getting them in a headlock and rubbing their knuckles on their head.

And now it seems that all that history, all that community, is finally under threat. A combination of the recession, draconian drinking laws, and an almost astronomical level of tax on alcohol, means that almost 50 pubs a month are closing, unable to fight a war on all those fronts. With supermarkets selling cheap alcohol by the basket full, undercutting the publicans on a level they can’t compete with, it seems the public would rather spend the night in front of the TV, slowly getting shit faced in front of the X Factor.

To be honest, I’m not really much of a drinker. I have the odd glass of red wine here or there, maybe a vodka and orange if out to be sociable, but I never attempt to get hammered, rat arsed, or god forbid, munted. I find it interferes with my heroin intake too much.

So a non drinker I may be, but I still know the value that the pub has to our society. The moment one is closed down in the neighbourhood, it either means that the locals will have to travel further to find a place to drink, or just think sod it, and just stay in. Whole sections of the population are sealing themselves away in their homes, loosing that contact, that sense of inclusion that public houses bring, for a combination of cheap drink and a lonely sofa.

I was brought up around pubs. From an early age, my family would meet up with their friends, other family members, and pop down to the local for a few pints and a catch up. And I was always included with them.

I would be sat at the end of a long, beer soaked table, a coke and a packet of crisps in front of me, fascinated by the characters and talk that I would encounter. Smoke and laughter would surround me, my back warmed by an open fire, and I would feel included with my family, not just some stupid child to be ignored in the corner. I would love how my Dad and my Uncle would seem to know everyone in the place, complete strangers who I had never seen were coming up to them to say hello and ruffle my hair, telling me how big I had grown and would I like a pint? I would always answer yes in a shy voice, much to my Uncle’s amusement. “Maybe in a few more years.” was always the reply I would get.

Summers spent playing in the beer gardens with all the other children while our parents watched over us from a nearby table. Christmases spent looking in wonder at the beautiful decorations, the massive tree with all its shiny lights and baubles, while Christmas music played happily in the background. Walking in from the freezing cold into a warm, friendly ambience, with its little pools of orange light and cosy nooks.

Places like these were ingrained on my childhood. The faces, the smells, the shouts of welcome as we entered, the 50p shoved in my hand from strangers I had never met, the other children of families there that I would instantly bond with, and then spend hours playing games with around the legs of the adults, the good natured drunken singing, the arguments, the cockney accents, feeling my Dad’s hand on my shoulder as he talked to Johnny Spinks about where West Ham were going wrong this season, seeing my Granddad and Harry George huddled deep in some dark corner, talking about god knows what, my Nan being the centre of our universe, the hub of all activity in which we revolved around, my Uncle telling me stupid jokes with the more alcohol he drank, my Mum’s loud laughter drifting over the symphony of voices that surrounded us, and there was me, right in the middle of all of this, never excluded, never an annoyance, just a part of something warm and welcoming.

After my dad died when I was 15, I would occasionally visit the pub with my Uncle before we went back to my Nan’s for Sunday tea. I would always be bought my own pint (it’s almost a ritual amongst 15 year olds boys, those first stolen pints bought in the pub by a family member), and it would sit there in front of me in an almost mocking way, little trickles of condensation running down the side of the glass.

Drink me. Come on. Drink me and keep up with the men. It would say.

So I would give it a good try but always fail miserably. After the second pint, I was normally pie eyed, and would end up getting a rollicking from my Nan afterwards when I would slur my words when asking her to pass the gravy at dinner.

One of the main reasons I would go to the pub with my Uncle was in hope that i would meet someone who knew my Dad. As I lost him at such a young age, I never truly got to know the man. He remained something of a mystery to me, a regret that still haunts me to this day. So on meeting someone who was his friend, I would pump them for information about him, stories about when he was young, funny situations he got into, things that I never knew. It was my way of trying to build up some sort of connection with my Dad, so I wouldn’t spend the rest of my life with him as some sort of phantom lurking in the background, a face in some photos that I never really knew.

And there were many stories. Far too many to recount really. My Dad seemed to be a walking attraction for humorous situations. From going horse riding with my Mum and some friends and him being given a wild black stallion to ride that he couldn’t control, which resulted in it being startled at some point and taking off. The last image anyone had of my Dad was on the horizon, clinging on in fear and half falling off the saddle, only to be found about three hours later shaking in a field, the horse calmly eating grass beside him.

There was also someone telling me about my parents disastrous first date, where my dad accidently set fire to the first table they were sat at (don’t ask me how). So they had to be moved and ended up sitting with a young mum and her son. My dad was eating a roast dinner and went to stab at a roast potato with his fork, causing it to jump from his plate and onto the little boys. My dad went to retrieve it by spearing it with his fork, only for the mum to look over at her son and see what looked like a strange man stealing food from her child's plate. A massive row took place and they were all kicked out the restaurant. And yet my Mum still agreed to see him again. Go figure?

I wouldn’t have known about stuff like this if it hadn’t been for my visits to the pub and asking these sorts of questions. My little social circle would never have interacted with these people if it wasn’t for the regular ritual of meeting at the same place, at the same time, every week. All of these stories would have been locked away and me never to know anything about them. That’s what I mean about connecting. That’s what a simple pub can do for you.

When I finally turned 18 and it was legal for me to have my first drink, I had just started college. My whole life had changed by then. I had left behind a relatively shite experience at school and was entering into a whole chapter of my life. I had made new friends, was experiencing new social situations, and hopefully leaving a whole lot of bad stuff behind me.

Every Saturday, I would meet my new friend Mark in Romford, and we would head to the pub that all of us students were using, The Moreland Arms, to meet all our friends. And it was just like how I used to remember my family going down the pub. We would walk in and know virtually everyone in the place (and that's not a boast to prove how popular I was, everyone knew everyone there. It was that kind of pub). We would meet up with our friends and take the piss out of each other, talk about the latest bands we liked, desperately try to look cool when a good looking girl went past (and failed miserably- 90’s clothes were a tad shit when I think about it. Must have been that? Yeah, it was definitely that) and just generally having the best time it was possible to have. And god how I miss it.

The Moreland Arms is gone now, replaced by one of those generic identikit bars that you can see on virtually every street corner. All the soul sucked out of it, no atmosphere to speak of whatsoever. A bland, empty building that I still walk past most days. And every time that I do, I can remember walking in the place, wrapped up because it was freezing cold, trying to convince the doorman that I was 18 and my face just looked young. Walking in as the warmth hit me, trying to spot a familiar face in the crowd, hearing my name being called out over the latest Britpop song and feeling like I actually belonged to something.

My pub days are numbered now. The combination of not really drinking, my friends being spread far and wide (though Mark is still around, God bless), and just generally not being in the situations where the pub is generally required, have all taken its toll on my visits to any local drinking establishment. I still go sometimes with my Uncle, but that's as far as it normally goes.

And yet on hearing the news of the dire state most publicans are facing in these harsh economic times, a massive part of me is hoping that somehow this is resolved with the least casualties as possible. For we truly need these places. I know that sometimes they can be filled with idiots, pissed up numptys with the brain cells of a deep sea amoeba, but no place on any British high street connects people in the way the local pub does.

And I hold my memories of them a lot better than I ever held my drink in them.