Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Play That Funky Music, Caucasian Boy......

I love music.

As statements go, that wasn’t the boldest I know. It’s not like I just blurted out “Hi, my name is Dan and I like attaching crabs to my nipples whilst having my backside thrashed by a 3ft midget with a riding crop.”

Now that would be a bold statement. A quite possibly a fun weekend as well. But I do indeed love music. Love, love, love, it.

But I don’t just love it because it has a funky beat and you can dance to it, oh no baby. I love it because to me, music is far better than any photograph at taking you back to a certain time or a certain place in your life. When I hear the first few bars of particular songs that mean something to me, I am instantly transported back to that moment.

When I am happy, I stick on happy music. When I am sad, I stick on sad music. When I am cooking dinner, I stick on cooking dinner music. When I am walking down the street, I stick on …..You get the picture?

So over time I have built up a collection of songs that pinpoint exact moments in my life with almost perfect clarity. Some of them are important moments; others are so insignificant that they probably wouldn’t mean much to anyone else, but for some reason have stuck in my mind and hung around since then. And its brilliant, it really is. A photo can show you an image of a time, but it can never express exactly how you were feeling or what your emotions were. But a song can instantly do that like an audio time machine. That's why I have a decent photo collection, but a huuuuuuge music collection.

So if it is OK with your good selves, I’d like to share some of my memories. You don’t have to listen to the songs, but if you do, even if it is for a few seconds, then me and you will have had a connection and in some way might understand better what I am fumbling to write? You may hate the music, and that's fine as well, as this is not about the music, but the moments it meant to me.

So, self indulgent as this may be, are you ready?

*Everything goes swirly as the mists of time are parted.*

Common People- Pulp

I am going to start at the tender age of 17. I had just started college and was stepping out into the big wide world on my own. It was scary, yet incredibly exhilarating at the same time. I could leave behind my old persona from school and reinvent myself as a totally new person. And that's what I did. Admittedly that person was still a complete idiot, but he was my complete idiot. And for the next few years, I managed to get myself into new situations and disasters that sum up the sheer chaos of growing up. And I loved it.

During the mid nineties there was a music phenomena sweeping the UK called Britpop. Basically a mash up of classic sixties music, with up to date guitar based musings, all with a distinctly British flavour. It was huge. For about three years you couldn’t move for some fey indie type person screeching at you about how nice it was to have a cup of tea. And I have to say, I was a massive fan.

This particular track takes me back to my very first week in college. I was sitting with a group of people in the college’s courtyard, most of them I had never met before, and we were all just talking and getting to know one another. Somebody had a little portable radio and this song was playing. It was a huge track at the time and you couldn’t escape it. And the reason that it has stuck with me was for the first time in my life, I felt as if I was growing up a little. I was making new friends, planning nights out, doing new things, and I felt as if I had the whole of my life ahead of me and everything was going to turn out OK.

Felix- Don’t You Want Me

Now this one is also tied into the time when I first started college, as it always takes me back to the very first time I went to a nightclub.

Up till then, my only experiences of nightclubs were what I had seen on Hollywood movies. So needless to say, I was quite excited to see the topless go go dancers dressed up in S&M fetish gear that these movies always seemed to have.

The slow queuing up was a nightmare. A big fat bouncer stood at the end of it, just waiting to turn you away if you looked under 18, which I was. When it got to my turn to go through, I swear he looked through me and into my soul and could quite clearly see I was underage. But with a small nod, he let me through.

As I walked up the stairs to the club on trembling legs, I could hear the above track playing loudly, but not as loud as my hammering heart. With a small sigh of trepidation, I pushed open the door, just as the chorus of the song reached its crescendo, and walked into a totally alien atmosphere.

There were no topless go go girls, but there was flashing lights, dry ice, a pumping bass, and above all, girls. Loads and loads of girls. I had come from an all boys school, so my first reaction was to run up to them all and prod them, just to make sure they were real (A tactic I still use to this day). Behind me, I could hear my four new friends I had come with go “ohhhhhh” like the cute little aliens from Toy Story.

We didn’t know what to do, and felt awkward just standing there, nodding our heads to the funky beats, when someone came up with the wonderful notion that they actually sold alcohol here. Like four startled rabbits, we shot off towards the bar.

“Four bottles of Bud, please” I said to the barman in my deepest voice.

“What?” he yelled back over the music, unable to distinguish my deep voice with the music's bassline.

“Four bottles of bud, please” I replied back in my normal, squeaky voice.

And he actually served me!

We spent a good portion of the night standing by the bar, getting quickly inebriated, trying to look mysterious for all the ladies, but looking about as out of place as four nuns in a brothel, when the pounding music became too much and I stupidly said the words.

“Shall we dance?”

Now I don't dance, and I didn’t normally drink much either, but the drink I had consumed convinced me I could. So I found myself on the dance floor, busting out some power moves.

I was the Lord of dance!

I believe I attempted the worm, the running man, some early 80’s robotic dancing, and at one point, tried to get the whole dance floor into a rousing rendition of “Oops upside your head”. It was after that, things started to get a bit spinney.

I remember a cab ride back to my friends. I remember singing “Wonderwall” at the top of my voice down his road. I remember getting up from his sofa saying I needed some air. I remember running towards his garden pond. And the last thing I remember is someone shouting “No, not in there!”

When I woke up the next day, I had a hangover, and my new friends dad looking very pissed off at me. Apparently I had thrown up the spaghetti bolognaise I had for dinner, and all the alcohol I had drunk that night, into his pond, killing one of his incredibly expensive coy carp he had in there. He said it was probably toxic shock that had done it, I think it was more the shock of my face looming into view, then uploading the contents of my stomach over the helpless fish. That would finish off anyone.

So, to cut short this ramble, hearing this song take me back to that night (what I can remember) and always brings a smile to my face.

Mew- Comforting Sounds

If I ever hear this song, it immediately makes me think of meeting my girlfriend for the first time. Not the moment we actually met, but the uncertain time after it.

We had been circling each other for awhile, when I finally managed to persuade her to come out on a date with me. It still remains to me to be the best day I have ever had. Period.

I was deep in the smit. I couldn’t do anything but think about her for days afterwards. It was that awkward time right after a date where you don’t know if you made a good impression. This song summed up that feeling of excitement, trepidation, hope, and the sensation of meeting someone new that had just blown your socks off. I remember sitting on some steps near my work, listening to it on my iPod, and just thinking I would do anything to be with this person.

Lucky for me she said yes to a second date.

Delays- Wanderlust

Now even hearing the first few minutes of this one has already brought a huge smile to my face.

Lucky for me, Kates could see that the winning combination of my good looks, sparkling personality, and ability to tell who directed any film, and what year it was in, made me one hell of a catch.

So we started dating. And every night, coming home from London, I would sit on the tube with the most gormless, beautiful, expression on my face and listen to this. No other song could describe how wonderful I was feeling at the time than this one. I fell for her so hard that even to this day, I am still waiting to hit the ground.

Plus no one ever sat next to me on the tube when I had an expression like that. No one.

I have got hundreds of these little moments, hundreds (dont panic, I will stick with sharing just four). And I love every single one of them. I love how I can catalogue my life through a few simple songs. I love that how I can just close my eyes and listen to them and be transported right back to that time, so I can remember a breeze on my skin, or the smell of the rain, or how someone looked.

No photo will ever do that for me.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Thank You! …….And Pass It On…….

I just had a lovely surprise from the even lovelier Hope. A lovely award!

So may I thank you Hope for this. Not expected, but fully appreciated. It has been a pleasure reading your blog, and even more so having you involved over here as well. I’m very, very grateful.

As per tradition, I would love to pass this on to a few new blogs I have been reading and getting involved with (though as I am still quite virginal at this, most blogs are still new to me)

So drum roll please……….

The lovely Lorenza and Pure Energy, an always beautifully written mixture of poetry and wordplay that everyone should pop by and check out.

The lovely (and manly) Matthew at AbodeOneThree, someone who I would have awarded back when I got my first one, but I was new and sadly didn’t get the etiquette then. But now he has two, one from me, and one from Hope. Both fully deserved. And a big thank you for being amongst the first to join in.

The lovely Alpha Buttonpusher at Simplify, for some of the best images and words you will find in blogspace.

The lovely Ladytruth and happilyafterever, for always amusing me and giving me special insight into the mind of women. And in her ongoing dating scene, one of the best episodic stories of the year. Think 24, but with the possibility of more violence.

And finally last, but no means least, the lovely JennyMac and Lets have a cocktail, for always making me laugh every time I go on there.


Sunday, 27 September 2009

It’s A Love/Hair Relationship….

Me and my hair have known each other for 31 years now. We have really only got on for about six of those. We have had an incredibly turbulent relationship, my hair and I. Both of us never listen to each other. Both of us think the other is wrong. Both of us are so stubborn that we never see the possibility of change. It used to be such a loveless marriage.

Here are some of the hairstyles I have had since birth.

: No hair.

: Toddler hair.

: Crewcut.

: Side parting.

: Shoulder length hair/centre parting.

: Spiky.

: Cropped.

: Spiky/messy hybrid.

Every time I have wished to change my style, or just try something new, it has consisted of me standing in my bathroom, gel and comb in hand, muttering away to my hair like the Horse Whisperer as I try and tease something different out of my unruly mop.

‘Come on, come on, work for me here baby,’ I would say gently, as I approached my hair slowly with the gel. If you go in too fast and startle my hair, it can normally freak out and hide behind my ears in wild waves.

‘That's it,’ I’d say, with a small note of triumph in my voice as I managed to slowly sculpt it into something appropriating what I wanted, ‘You’re doing great.’

Finally I would finish, and with a grand flourish, check myself out in the mirror. That is normally when my best laid plans would flounder and whatever new creation I had inflicted on my poor head would come crashing around my, frankly rather startled, ears. Bits of hair would suddenly pop up as if spring loaded, what I wanted to stay up, would come down. It would look like I had been dragged through a hedge backwards, and then beaten round the head severely with two baseball bats.

Nooooooooooooooo!’ would be the pain filled cry that emanated from my bathroom at moments like these, as my hair collapsed spectacularly like a poorly made souffle.

I think my school days were the lowest ebb in mine and my hairs relationship. That is when we were barely even on speaking terms. Children, being as cruel as any living creature on earth, would look for any chinks on your armour for exploitation and ridicule, so the passing phase of any new hairstyle that everyone would be undertaking normally left me with massive feelings of dread. Would my hair let me down? Would everyone point and laugh?

When you are a kid, you don’t really care what you look like. When you hit your early teens, you care what everybody thinks you look like. Girls first, your peers second. So any trip to the hairdressers for a new cut would normally resemble being on death row, taking that long walk to old sparky, which would normally be cunningly disguised as a hairdressers chair. So with sweaty palms and a hammering heart, you would sit down whilst mentally giving your head the last rites, and await the possible horrendous outcome.

I remember once when I was about 14, I decided to change from my normal spiky style to a more cropped, short one, as it was what most people were wearing during that time. I went to my normal place of butchery, Toni’s, which was run by an aging Italian man who was not called Toni, but Brian.

‘Ello winkle!’ He would cry every time I entered his shop. I had no idea why he called me winkle. He didn’t call anyone else winkle. I didn’t know whether to be proud of this or take offence.

‘What are we doing for you today then winkle?’ Brian said, placing the towel around the back of my neck.

‘I’d like it cropped please,’ I squeaked back, feeling the sweat forming on my forehead. ‘Not too much off the top please.’

‘We’re gonna make you look like a ladykiller!’ Brian cried, giving me a slap round the back of the head. He also did this a lot to me as well, but never to anyone else. Once again this always used to puzzle me.

So Brian set about my head with his clippers with the grace of an Australian outback man, sheering a lamb. My gently teased spikes that I had cultivated for the last few years suddenly vanished, giving me a subtle impression of what my new hairstyle would look like.

“Not bad,” I thought. It kind of suited me. This could actually be the first haircut I truly liked.

And my heart soared, it really did. I had images in my head of all the great things me and my new haircut would do together. All the great house parties we would no doubt get invited to. All the women that would inevitably end up falling at our feet due to the sheer awesomeness of our new cropped style. All the slow mutterings of ‘Ohhhhhhhhh’ as we went back to school on Monday and everyone saw how amazing we looked. I looked back at myself in the mirror and I believe I actually smiled.

And then that smile faded as Brian kept cutting, and cutting, and cutting…………….

The man was like a machine, a machine with no obvious “off” switch. He hummed to himself as more and more of my hair fell to the floor? Why wasn’t he stopping? Was there something wrong with him? Oh my god, my head looked like a testicle!

Finally he finished. With a grand flourish, he whipped off my towel and produced a mirror, which he paraded round the back of my head so I could survey the damage that he had done.

‘What do you think winkle?’ He said.

What did I think? What did I think??? My head was bald! Well, not fully bald. There was a tiny scuzz of brown hair still clinging with faint hope to the top of my head. But with the sun streaming through the shop window, I did look bald. I also looked like a registered sex offender.

I thought about all those parties I would be barred from. I thought about all those girls falling at my feet through laughter. I thought about the slow mutterings of ‘What the f**k is wrong with his head?’ that all my school would be whispering at me as I passed. I thought of all of this and said in a high pitched voice

‘It looks great Brian, thanks.’

When what I felt like saying was ‘What have you done to me? I'm a MONSTER!!!’ and smashing all the mirrors in his shop so I didn’t have to look at myself. But I didn’t. I just paid him, and even gave him a large tip.

That walk home was the worst I have ever taken. I have one of those faces that if I am not talking, relaxes into an expression that resembles I am on the verge of killing someone. Its not my fault, it just goes that way. I even get complete strangers coming up to me and telling me to ‘Cheer up, it’s not that bad’, even when I’m in a perfectly happy mood. So couple my new haircut with my normal expression, I looked like a freshly released and very dangerous sex offender. Mothers dragged their children across the road to avoid me. Dogs would take one look at my head and run off whimpering. Little old ladies would slam their front doors in sheer terror at my passing.

It took me quite a few years to get over that. Even to this day I still get anxious in barbershops. But me and my hair have formed an uneasy alliance. We no longer fight each other, but try to live in harmony. No more will I inflict on it unreasonable styles that I know it doesn't like. In turn, it no longer lets me down when I need it most. We look at each other every morning, not in hate, but grudging respect. Hell, sometimes it can even make me laugh in the morning with some of the crazy bed hair shapes it pulls off. But when the comb and gel come out, we both know what we have to do, and go about it with a new found admiration for each other. I know my hair will never win any awards, but I also know that when push comes to shove, and I need it to be on its game, it won’t make me look like Christopher Lloyd either.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

It's A Bit Nippy Out.......

I am not really a summer person. I hate it, truth be told. The heat. Being sticky. Travelling on the tube where it gets so hot, you actually feel as if you have taken a detour and have ended up passing through the bowels of Hell. Fat men in sandals. It’s totally not my bag.

I can never understand it when come about May time, everyone gets all excited and says something like “Ooooh, the sun will be here soon.”, when quite clearly we all know the UK summer sun normally makes an appearance for about three days in July, and then goes on vacation for the rest of the year. We get oppressive heat, we get humidity, but we never really seem to get the long stretches of sunshine like I remember as a child.

Whenever someone starts getting excited about the onset of summer, I always retort that I am a winter person, and I normally get looked at like I have just stripped naked, smeared baby oil all over myself, and am now dancing solely for your pleasure.

“Are you mad?” I would get asked. “But it’s always so dark, so miserable, and so cold!”

And that is exactly why I love winter. I get excited around this time of year, when the air gets that little bit crisper, when the nights start drawing in that little bit sooner. To me it is heaven, as I know fairly soon It will be in my favourite time of year again, those long winter months.

There are numerous reason as to why I love winter. I love how it brings everybody together. Without going into too much personal history, I have never really had a family. My parents died when I was in my teens, and I have grown up since then not really experiencing what you would call a "family life". But when I do think back to my childhood, I can always remember bitterly cold winters where we would all be safely cocooned in our home, heating blazing, every light in every room on, and us all together as a family, eating, talking, laughing, and all of this because of the cold weather outside. It makes you want to seek out other people. To gather everyone around you and create your own warmth through connecting. And that is one of the things I miss most today. I miss that warmth; I miss the light and the laughter that those all too brief moments provided me. I miss the comforting sound of there being somebody else in another room.

I remember I had some friends round to stay about five years ago. I left them early to go to bed, but as I got into my room, I could hear them talking and laughing downstairs and realized it had been so long since I had heard anything like that. Normally when I went to bed, all I could hear was nothing but silence. It made me think about when I was a child, being safely snuggled under my blankets, the hallway with it’s bright light my island of calm. The sound of my parents talking, or just the sound of the TV. Knowing if I needed them, all I had to do was call out and my dad would come bounding up the stairs. I think that is the main reason why I love winter so much. Because it connects me to a time that I normally feel so adrift from.

I love walking along a street and seeing the light blazing out of peoples living rooms. Sometimes you can see in, and it nearly always resembles a scene similar to the one I have just described from my own childhood. That light, that warmth, that sense of togetherness. I will be honest and admit it does occasionally make me sad to see this, but also in a strange way it makes me happy as well. Because I can see with my very own eyes that I am not the only person who has ever experienced this. I just hope I am not the only person who can realize how special it is as well.

Wintertime is also an insanely romantic time to me. There is a sense of incredible beauty in the streets that can’t be equalled at any other moment. I don’t know how many of you have ever seen London at winter, but it is surely a place made for that time of year. The slate grey sky, the architecture looming magnificently over you, the very brickwork that London is made of seems to take on an extra air of grandeur once the temperature starts to fall.

London in the winter can sometimes seem a very melancholic place. All that history, all that sense of time, it’s very hard not to feel it. But melancholy is not always a negative thing. Melancholy can be beautiful as well. A solitary person walking along the Embankment in a harsh winter night. The rain slicked streets shimmering almost orange as the twilight changes from purple into darkness, people bustling along, urgent to be home with their loved ones. Standing on London Bridge, watching the sun set slowly behind Tower Bridge, tears forming on your face because of the biting wind coming up from the Thames. So many sights like this can often catch you unawares. It can often take your breath away as well.

But there is always romance in wintertime. Always. You cuddle up to the person you love for warmth. Arms round each other. Hands in each other’s pockets for heat. Kissing somebody on a frozen cheek. Warming somebody's hands in your own. People become more physically intimate with each other in winter, when in the summer you are more inclined to be so hot, you just want to stay away from everyone.

For everyone who moans about the winter, when this one finally comes around, just take a moment to stop and take a close look around you. Yes, summer can be beautiful, as we all know, bursting with life and so forth, but can it really touch you? Get you deep down on an emotional level? Where just the simple sight of a bare and naked tree, standing alone in misty field on a freezing morning, how that can represent so many different things to so many different people? It’s ironic that for the time of year when everything starts to die, I never feel more alive than when I do at wintertime.

I love wrapping up warm and heading out into the cold. I love warm pockets and freezing cheeks. I love the darkness pressing up against the window when I am warm and cosy inside. I love how the air is so crisp you can taste in on your tongue. I love how the street lamps make little pools of light down the street.

So you can keep your suntan lotion, your sunburnt shoulders, your sweaty backs on the tube, your long nights awake due to the heat, you can keep all of that.

My name is Dan, and I love winter.

There, I said it. Now watch me dance for you.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Why Can't We Be Friends?.....

My cat has got the hump with me.

We didn’t have a spectacular falling out. More like a minor disagreement. I did something stupid you see. I introduced this…..

…… to this.

I let my girlfriend bring her new puppy (Peggy) over to stay with us for the night. I thought it would be OK, seeing as my cat (Dotty) has grown up with a dog since birth. Back when I lived at my house, I owned a Labrador (Jack), and a cat called Holly. Now Holly was, truth be told, a bit of a hussy. Before I had her neutered, she would spend all night “entertaining” all the local tomcats. It would get so bad that they would all gang up and form a kind of male feline barbershop quartet and sing outside my house, trying to lure her outside. There would be about four of them, singing and tap dancing away into the night. She would sit preening by the window as they tried their best to entice her, but she never gave in to them. She was very much like Beyonce in that respect. An independent woman.

But then there came the day that brought shame on my house. She fell pregnant by one of them. I didn’t know she was pregnant. I had no idea in fact until the day I came home from work and found her spinning round in circles, highly agitated and trying to get my attention.

MIAAAAAROOOOOW! She cried at me.

Now if this had been a Lassie movie, I could have immediately recognised what that cry meant, and rushed out and saved the boy trapped in the well/mineshaft/from Indians. But sadly this wasn’t a Lassie film, and I was by no means clever enough to figure out what her problem was. Well, not until her lower half convulsed and a tiny, beautiful, little kitten popped out. Then I finally got it. Dotty was born. And immediately fell in love with my dog. They were inseparable, as you can see. I didn't get a look in.

Sadly, since then I believe Holly was either run over or injured, as she never came home one night and I never saw her again. It was terrible, but that is one of the risks of owning cats. They are fearless adventurers that have no regard for personal safety. And quite often they can go and break your heart as well. So Dotty was without a mum. But that was OK, I raised her as my very own. I taught her how to hunt, clean, but I drew the line at breastfeeding.

As personal circumstances changed, I moved to a flat and had to let Jack live with a relative as it wasn’t fair on him being cooped up in a tiny apartment. He’s doing fine (if a little plumper than I last left him), and I’m looking forward to the day when I can have him back (hopefully next year). But Dotty came with me and we started a new life of domestic bliss. She is the perfect flat cat as she has no interest in what goes on outside. All she is interested in is eating, cleaning herself, and flirting if she meets any new men. But all in all we get along great. She lets me know when she wants food; I let her know when it’s not OK to claw my new sofa.

But then on Saturday I had to spoil it by bringing Peggy over.

The puppy was pleased to see me. But then again, puppies always are. They are pleased about everything. From seeing a new person, to having a new shoe to chew, everything kicks off a nonstop party in a puppy’s world.

I walked outside to greet them both, and immediately had her clawing at my leg and trying to lick my face (the puppy, not my girlfriend, just in case you thought we greeted each other like that) My good mood was increased even further by this. How can you not be in a good mood by having something that pleased to see you?

You can if you’re a cat.

I assumed from Dotty having lived with, and loved, her own dog, she might be tolerant of this one. Sadly I was wrong.

Dotty normally rushes to the door whenever anybody comes through it, and this time it was no exception. Though when she saw what was sitting there on a lead, she screeched to a halt and back peddled so much I thought she was going to turn inside out. With a look that screamed WHAT THE F**K IS THAT?, she shot off in a grey blur, closely followed by a brown blur of puppy.

So for the next few hours we had Peggy deciding that this new furry thing was going to be her plaything, even if it was trying to scratch her eyes out. The cat managed to achieve the impossible by actually traversing the whole length of the flat, room to room, without actually putting a paw on the ground. The tops of wall cabinets, fridges, sofas, radiators, all were used with stunning effect. At one point she seemed to channel The Matrix and leap over the dog from the sofa to the dining room table. Backwards. It was hard not to mentally applaud her for doing this.

And then Dotty disappeared. Vanished. She was in the flat somewhere, but as to where I had no idea. I half expected her to leap out ninja style and attack me for bringing this small demon into our world. But she didn’t. She just hid. And waited.

Eventually Peggy tired out and collapsed on the sofa. Now I have to mention that this is one of the most flatulent dogs I have ever met. She is so full of gas you could probably pick her up and squeeze a rather stirring rendition of Auld Lang Syne out of her. And when she sleeps, this is the time she starts emitting the foulness. The person sitting nearest her notices it at first. You see their face scrunch up and you know that the all powering stench is coming your way and there will be no escaping it. So as you are both convulsed over, trying to gasp clean air through your mouth so you can’t actually smell it, the puppy will have a look on its face as if to say, my work here is done.

We thought it would be best to let her sleep on the sofa, and headed off to bed ourselves. At about one in the morning, I awoke to find something licking the small of my back. It was the puppy. Now if this was some dodgy 70’s UK sitcom, I obviously would have thought it was my girlfriend being amorous and much hilarity would have ensured. Instead in my sleep filled state I thought I was being sexually assaulted by a midget with a beard.

“Wha fuh?” I mumbled, pulling back the bed covers. Peggy looked up at me with an expression that said, It’s early, I’m up. Let’s play!

I leapt out of bed and went to turn the light on. Before I did so, I almost screamed out in terror as I saw two furious looking green eyes glaring at me from out of my wardrobe. I had found the cat.

I tapped Kates on the shoulder, and forced out the word “Dog” from my sleep muddled mouth, pointing at the furry bundle of joy bounding about on the bed, and let her return it safely to the other room whilst I collapsed face first on the bed cover..

About an hour later, I was the one getting a tap on the shoulder.

“Your snoring is really bad tonight” Kate said, roughly translated as “Can you sleep on the sofa?”

So muttering something about “This is my flat/bloody animals keeping me awake/poxy sofa” I stumbled into the living room, passing the puppy, who jumped up on the warm spot I left on the bed and promptly fell asleep. I swear I could hear the cat sniggering from inside the wardrobe.

I finally dropped off, but got woken up again about half hour later by something biting my ears. The puppy was back and had joined me on the sofa, and was now lying on my back, nibbling my ear lobes.

“Kate! Dog!” I cried out.

Kate appeared in the doorway, sleepy eyed.

“She just likes you” she mumbled, picking the dog up and returning it to its blanket.

“Need sleep.” I groaned back. I thought I would chance my arm and sneak back into bed, my bed.

But yet again I get awoken by the tickle of whiskers and something licking my feet. By then I was too tired to complain, and just tried to move various bits of my body every time they got licked. But this of course now looked like a game. I had no idea where the next one was coming from. Nose. Ear. Knee. Toes. Belly button. All were victims to this relentless licking. I was wriggling around in bed faster than an epileptic at a rave.

“Kate! Dog!” I cried out into the night. The precious night, where blessed sleep normally occurs.

“I’ll take her home.” Kate replied, gathering up her bits. I was too tired to argue and just fell back into bed.

So the next day I had to try and convince my girlfriend that I did indeed love her dog and enjoyed having her over (which I honestly do), and also contend with one incredibly pissed off cat, who made it quite clear she was annoyed by actively cleaning her genitals every time I entered the room. She can be very childish sometimes.

My next pet is going to be a hamster by the way.

*As you may have guessed, I have totally given up on the idea of not writing about myself. I haven't been able to stop rabbiting on about my life lately. That still doesn't mean I think it's interesting though......If you do want to read something interesting, check out this blog by  Whisperingwriter .It's truly brilliant.*

Friday, 18 September 2009

OCD, It's Easy As 123.........

I have a very mild form of OCD. By mild I don’t mean that I can’t leave the house unless I tap the door handle fourteen equal times, or if I’m only wearing the colour green. My OCD manifests itself in other ways. Mainly involving food. But I will come to that later.

I am lucky in the respect that my girlfriend has her own form of OCD. So when we are together we normally resemble two extras from One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest.

I had a phone call from her the other day.

“Tell me I’ve shut my front door?” She asked me in a worried tone.

“Kate, I’m in my flat and you are over by your house. How the hell do I know if you have shut your front door?” I replied, confusion my normal expression at moments like these.

Just tell me I have shut my front door!”

I could tell that she was getting agitated. “OK, OK, you’ve shut your front door. No one is getting in. It’s shut.”

“Thank you.” I heard her sigh with relief.

“Or have you?” I replied mischievously.

I had to hold the phone away from my ear due to her inhuman cry of anguish. I can normally string moments out like this for at least 15 minutes. Wisely my inner common sense, who is normally so absent throughout most of my life, told me this probably wasn’t the best time to do this. Not if I ever wanted to have children at least.

“The door is shut.” I said hurriedly, before she had a chance to explode down the phone at me for being an idiot. “The door is shut. It’s a firm barrier. No one can breach it. All is calm, all is well. And……relax”

But it is not just the little door routine that Kate has going on that amuses me. Her greatest form of OCD comes when we go shopping for food. She has this thing where all the packages and tins live happily together in harmony. Beans with beans, bread with bread, and so forth. If this equilibrium is unbalanced in any way, say if someone has left a stray pack of pasta with the tins of sun dried tomatoes, well, there is a distinct possibility that the fabric of space and time will be ripped apart, and we will all be hurled screaming into the abyss. It freaks her out basically.

So naturally when we go shopping together, I have to go scampering down the aisle like a malevolent Willy Wonka, rearranging all the stock so it is all mixed up and making mental bets with myself as to how long it will be before she cracks. Her eyes normally dart about like two chipmunks on speed, and with a cry of "I hate you!", she then spends the next five minutes rearranging everything back the way it was, muttering "You don't live there, you certainly dont belong there!"

I am also adept at dodging hurled tins of butterbeans as well now. Though her aim is getting much better.

My own OCD manifests when I also go food shopping. But only if we are shopping for me, never for her. Now to me, shopping is not fun. There will be no laughter, no joy, and certainly no tomfoolery on my watch. A change in me occurs the moment I step through those automatic doors. I become what Kate lovingly refers to as “Shopping Nazi”. I can’t help it. The moment I am in the zone, the moment I have the list in my hand and a trolley careening out of control, I switch off. You can’t get through to me. I get so panicked that I am going to miss something out, or forget something for the wonderful meal I am about to cook, that I become an animatronic mannequin. My eyes glaze over and I end up wandering the aisles, muttering like Rain Man.

“Need milk, yeah, need milk. Gotta have some paprika. Paprika good. Can’t forget milk.”

All the while, Kates is walking beside me like my care into the community champion.

“Those new potatoes look nice.” She would comment.

New potatoes? Why is she throwing new potatoes into the mix? Were they on the list? I would scan down it, checking to see if they were. Nothing about new potatoes!!

“Not on list.” I would grunt back. “Can't deviate from the list.” And I would stride purposefully down the fresh veg aisle, sending little old grannies flying like bowling pins.

“You’re really weird.” Kate would call out to me, as she began to arrange all the spaghetti tins so all the labels were facing the front in symmetrical order.

My other form of OCD is evident when I eat. This is where it is at its most obvious. And sadly I had to present it to Kates one day and hope she wouldn’t run screaming into the night with terror.

I couldn’t be bothered to cook, so I ordered us in a Chinese. When the food arrived, I began to unpack it and dish it up on my plate.

“What the hell are you doing?” She asked me, as I finished my plate and offered to do hers.

“Dishing up dinner, what does it look like?” I replied, puzzled.

“No, I mean, look at your plate. What the hell is that all about?”

I looked at my plate. All the food was in neat little piles. The rice in a perfect oblong shape from its container. The sweet and sour chicken in a delicate little hillock, no splash of sauce anywhere on the plate. The noodles were a delightfully pretty little mound. The whole plate was a work of art.

“I can’t have my food all mixed up. It all has to be separate.” I said, truth be told a little sheepishly.

“Why?” She asked. She was smiling, but I watched her eyes closely to see if they twitched towards the door, or my cooking knives.

“Because it makes me feel highly uncomfortable.” I replied, thinking, well, she was nice.

“Well I’m not having mine like that!” And she began to heap the rice, chicken and noodles in a big mess on her plate. I believe I turned white at that point looking at the pure chaos that was taking place before me.

“Your rice, it’s all mixed up with the noodles.” I squeaked. I had never seen such wanton disregard for food etiquette in all my life. Maybe that's when I fell in love with her? I mean, how could you not love someone who was willing to just let their noodles land where they wanted to?

I think that is why we go so well together. Apart, we are a mass of odd little foibles that would probably make you normal folk stare at us open-mouthed. Together, well, we are still the same, but it just makes life that little bit bearable. Plus we can cause less damage that way. And for that I am eternally grateful.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

The Crying Game......

I’m a man. Can’t you tell what I am? The Bee Gees wrote that once. Wise words.

But they also wrote Whether you’re a brother, or whether you're a mother, you're staying alive, staying alive. So it’s probably best not to take them too literally at their lyrics. It might take you down some very strange paths.

But I am indeed a man, and that is indeed what I am. I am a sea of calm in an ocean of insanity. I am cool, I am ice. I am collected. I laugh in the face of danger, and I tickle the toes of fear.

When everything is falling around you, I am the one person you will come to because I am strong, butch, and manly. Yes I am. Now watch me wrestle this bear……

Now the above is what I have going round in my mind on a continuous loop. Every man does, even if it is not entirely true. It’s our man mantra. But every Superman has his nemesis. And mine is E.T. Not the little fella himself, but the movie.

E.T. is my kryptonite.

E.T. is my ultimate test of manliness and I fail it every time. I can’t be anywhere in the vicinity of that film without blubbing like a five year old who has just been told that Santa Claus has just murdered the Tooth Fairy, and then run off with all your birthday presents. It started from an early age, sitting down to watch it with my parents, and has followed me all throughout my adult life.

And I have tried; I truly have, to beat this affliction. They say the best thing to do is confront your fears, and I have tried to confront E.T. head on. But he always beats me.

I remember one time it was on at Christmas. I was on my own downstairs, my housemate being asleep upstairs at the time, when the TV announcer said that the afternoon film would be Spielberg's classic.

“This is it.” I thought, “This is the moment I finally become a man. I’m going to do this!”

So I sat down and made myself comfortable, mentally psyching myself up for the ordeal ahead. I thought about doing some press-ups, or some kick ass ninja moves before it began, just to prove how manly I actually was, but truth be told, I was feeling a little delicate that day. Then that familiar John Williams score started, and I once more lost myself in the world of Elliott and his best friend.

And I was strong. I was firm. I didn’t wobble at his repeated cries to “Phone home.” I was like a rock through the scene in the classroom when Elliott kisses his classmate because he was linked to what E.T. was watching on TV. I even stayed resolute at the moment the wee man dies and Elliott's heartbreaking cries of “Don't leave me!” (That's where I normally fold like a book)

“I’m actually going to do this,” I thought to myself, “Today is the day when I finally become a man!” I immediately grabbed the Argos catalogue to see if they sold chainsaws so I could build something manly with my shirt off.

And then it got to the point when the little bugger finally says goodbye before he is due to go home. The bottom lip started to wobble, the eyes became misty. And then the floodwaters broke. Niagara falls. It was at that point my housemate decided to wake up and come downstairs.

“Oh, you OK mate?” he asked me, concern in his voice.

“He’s gone home, “I cried, pointing at the screen. “E.T’s gone home!”

My housemate moved out soon after that.

But it’s not just E.T. that mounts a serious assault on my manliness. I am like this with any film with an emotional bit in it. I just can’t help myself.

American Beauty- Wept like a baby.

Titanic- I had to be helped from the cinema. “Jack can’t be dead! They were so good together!” All the 12 year old girls just there for Mr DiCaprio were made of sterner stuff than me. I could see pity in their eyes.

Armageddon- Normally any film where Bruce Willis dies is a massive bonus. In this one, yes, I got a bit teary. And I normally hate Areosmith.

Watership Down- Bright eyes, burning like fire…….

The list is never-ending. And now I have to watch myself for potentially embarrassing moments with my friends, or more importantly, my other half. If I know there could be a possibility that I could start crying at a film we plan to watch, I try to get out of actually watching it. But this doesn’t work all the time. Sometimes I could be watching something that I know nothing about, and all of a sudden an emotional bit comes up and I have to feign having hay fever (in winter), when all I want to be screaming out is “Yes! Yes I am an emotional man! The characters mother has just died, her brother has an incurable skin disease, and her cat has just run away. How do you expect me to react? Don’t hate me for feeling!” and then hide weeping under a cushion.

Quite recently, me and my girlfriend were flying back from Florida. One of the in-flight movies was Marley and Me. Immediately alarm bells were ringing in my head.

“Oh, that Marley and Me is showing. You wanted to see that, didn’t you?" Kate asked me.

“Meh?” I said, with a shrug. “I’d much rather see…” I replied, flicking through the movie channels “…Sex Drive.There, Sex Drive. That looks good.”

“Sex Drive? When have you ever liked films like that?”

“All the time!” I protested, “Wahey, tits!”, trying to do a passable impression of somebody who would like that sort of thing.

So we both settled down to watch our films. Mine was obviously complete tosh. But I kept glancing over at Kate’s, trying to gauge her mood. Having read the book, I fully knew what to expect with Marley and Me. I knew that the end of the film was near as Kate's shoulders were going, and she turned and looked at me with tears streaming down her face and said “Don’t you dare laugh at me!”

“There, there.” I said, putting a comforting arm round her, “It’s only a film. You shouldn't let silly things like that bother you.” Knowing full well that if it had been me watching it, I would have been banging on the airplane door in hysterical floods of tears, begging the pilot to turn the plane around so I could go back to America and pet every dog in the land and tell it that I loved it.

So, I cry at films. Big deal, doesn’t mean anything. I bet if you stuck Clint Eastwood down in front of WALL-E, even he would get a bit misty eyed at the bit where the tiny robot is waiting in the rain for E.V.E to wake up? Actually, Clint would probably get his shotgun and shoot the TV, then threaten to give me a metal enema with it unless I stopped being a “Pussy assed faggot.” But that’s Clint for you. The man’s just too emotional.

Say Hello To My Little Friend.......

“I can never tell when you're being serious.” is a statement that is often levelled at me at least a couple of times a week. That, and, “Would you please put some clothes on, your scaring the cat.”

Let me make it clear from the off, I have an incredibly sarcastic nature. At no point during any conversation can I resist letting off at least one riposte, or have one withering, sarcastic comment leave my lips before I have a chance to cram it back into my open, stupid mouth. I honestly can’t help it. It is like my own form of personality Tourettes. But instead of randomly shouting out “Sacrilegious ballbags!” during a conversation, I will find some small nugget of information in the dialog just spoken that amuses me, and then proceed to rip the piss out of it until the other person gets a rolled up magazine and starts beating me round the head with it. But it’s not my fault. It honestly isn’t. I have a disease.

During a deep and meaningful with my girlfriend one time (I don't actually know how she feels about me talking about us on an open forum like this. So if at one point this blog suddenly stops, assume she doesn’t like it one little bit, and has viciously attacked my genitals with a nail file and is now wearing them as decorative earrings) she said that the reason she thinks I am never serious is a defence mechanism, if anyone tries to get to know me by talking about something personal, I dodge it by attempting to say something amusing to put them off the subject. She also said one other time that I was just an irritatingly annoying bastard. (Freud has nothing on my other half)

So now that leave me in a bit of a conundrum. People can never tell when I am actually being serious or not. So in certain social moments, I can be left in some rather awkward situations. If someone cooks a nice meal for me and I compliment it (“That was a really lovely meal. Tasted so nice”), to them I am just taking the piss. If I ever tried to tell a friend that they have been there for me and that I’m glad they are in my life (“You're such a great person. I’m so glad we’re friends”), well, I’d probably end up getting hit because they would think I was just being my normal sarcastic slef.

So now I find myself mentally checking what I am going to say next over and over in my head before I say it. Which normally leaves about a five second delay before I reply to someone. Which normally makes me look like I am a little bit slow.

One time, I forgot to do any checking and nearly blurted something out without thinking about it. I was so panicked I clamped my hand over my mouth just before I spoke, causing the words to hide quivering behind my tonsils in fear. Never again. So now I agonize over word selection. Scrutinize the order in which they will go in. I go over my tone of voice. Too smarmy? Too game show host? Every conversation is a proverbial minefield as I can feel my sarcasm beating away inside my minds, screaming “Let me live"!” But I won’t.

But I know it’s in there.

So now it just abuses me.

In the morning when I wake up and look in the mirror (“Oh my god, you are so handsome, aren’t you?”), when I try and impress by saying something clever (“That was such an intelligent thing to say. People are really impressed with you.”). I can even hear it in my head now as I am writing (“Look at all those words you have written. I am so proud of you!”).

But it doesn’t matter. It honestly doesn’t. Because I will beat you sarcasm. I will beat you and join the rest of natural society. One day.

Thank you for reading this.

Oh, and by the way. Those shoes look so nice on you.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Somebody Tell Me When It's Time To Grow Up?.......

I turn 31 tomorrow.

Now this isn’t some blatant attempt at fishing for compliments, or dare I say it, gifts of monetary value? (Though there will be a collection box by the door of the blog for when you leave. Please feel free to contribute wisely)

For most people, turning 30 means you take stock of your life, your aspirations, and your dreams, realize you have achieved none of them, and results in you having a panic attack in the middle of the night that is similar to waking up and finding 3 strange hillbillies in your bedroom, one of them strumming the theme tune to Deliverance on a banjo.

This feeling passed me by completely when I turned 30. I felt OK. It was just another day. Didn’t really mean anything. Got some nice presents. Had a lovely meal at the Ivy. Got pampered. A great day had by all. But now with my 31st approaching with all the grace of a myopic rhino on rollerblades, I do indeed find myself taking stock of my life and asking the age old question, where am I going?

You see, I just don’t feel like a grown up. Even though I quite clearly am at the stage of my life when I should be one. I look around at all my school friends, all of them the same age as me, and they are all married with kids, and I am neither. So am I doing this all wrong? Shouldn't I be doing this now like everybody else seems to be doing? Am I behind on my schedule?

I am in a wonderful relationship with somebody that I know (and hope) I'll be in that situation with one day, but I also know I’m not ready for that just yet. But when will that happen? And how will I know? Does a large alarm bell go off in your head? Big flashing red lights, screaming MARRIAGE! MARRIAGE! Does somebody post a leaflet through your door, simply inscribed, “It’s time”?

I live in a nice little bachelor flat. I geek out on computer games. I go to the football. I mess around with my friends, doing the same sort of things that I used to do when I was 18, but without the added stress of wondering if my voice sounded deep enough to get served in the pub. Now to me, that doesn’t sound like an adult’s way of living. Just an overgrown manchild.

It seems that for many of us, unless you are lucky enough to be on some predetermined path, by the time you reach your late twenties/early thirties, you can often feel a little bit set adrift from everybody else. You look around at them playing happy families, and wonder if there was this great big guide to life that was handed out to everyone at the age of 21, and for some strange reason, yours was lost in the post. You are stuck between leaving your own family from birth, and starting your very own one. So the place that you live in until you do this is not really a home, but just somewhere to lay your head at night. So that means I haven’t had a home since I was 17, which quite frankly freaks me out a little and makes me start hearing the banjo once more.

I know one thing I want to be doing. Well, scratch that, two things, but one I can’t. I applied to join the police force, but sadly failed the hearing test (see but it’s OK. Not the end of the world. The main thing I have always wanted to be is a writer. It's the one thing I know I am good at. Not brilliant, that comes with practice and hard work. But I know enough is there to build on. I just have to put the effort in. Which would be fine if I wasn’t a complete lazy bastard. But as I have previously mentioned, I have a good woman behind me who pushes me with gentle words of encouragement, and sometimes threats of violence involving a bamboo stick and the backs of my legs. It can get very Bridge Over The River Kwai round mine at times.

I always thought I would have things sorted out by the time I was 30. I would know who I am, and where I was going. But it is quite clear to me now, I have no idea what I’m meant to be doing, let alone going. And as for who I am, well, I’m just, me? For better, or for worse.

But am I any different to everybody else? Did my own parents feel this sudden sense of vertigo? Are any of these other people, the ones I view at playing happy families; are they any less scared and confused as I suddenly am? Or is it even worse for them, seeing as they don’t just have themselves to worry about now?

I think each and everyone of us muddles through life in our own unique ways. Some are more assured than others. Some have a destination in mind from the offset, and go about getting there with a determination that is frightening for the rest of us. But for the majority, we just wander round like lost toddlers in a department store, just waiting for someone to take our hand and lead us back home.

Still, I’m sure my cake will be nice.


Happy birthday to me. Happy birthday to me…….

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Pass It On………

I seem to be getting a good few more visitors to this little site of mine (and a few good more followers as well. So thank you to anyone who has decided to put their name down and join in the fun. Really means a lot)

One of the first to join in and actively get involved was a rather nice chap called Matthew. He often pops in, has a look around, leaves nice comments, and then leaves quietly again. Very ninja.

It was whilst reading his latest post on his now defunct older blog that I though I would steal a rather good idea from him. He kindly gave links to other blogs on his own site for people that have contributed to his own, or has just taken his fancy through being sheer bloody brilliant (it was all explained much more clearly by him than I ever could)

I always get a small tingle of excitement when someone is kind enough to comment, and I almost explode with joy when someone is kind enough to follow. But it is also great to find out when you go onto their sites and find another great blog hiding behind the name.

So here is a little linky to Matthews new blog and I urge anyone who is interested in a well written, yet always interesting, collection of musings to have a wander by. You wont be disappointed. And thanks to his site, I now have another collection of excellent blogs to read.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Shouting, Lager, Lager, Lager.........

It's probably a fair comment to say that us English can't really handle our alcohol. We like to think that we can, but truth be told we handle it as well as a five year old suddenly handed a live scorpion. Which is not very well at all.

Every Friday and Saturday night, the highstreets of the UK follow an almost depressingly predicable tableau. Come 7pm, the UK's revellers hit the streets, all dressed in their finery, all looking for a good time. A few hours later and that sense of fun evaporates into something far more nasty.

In the area where I live, we have something called The Strip. It's a high street along which a collection of nightclubs and bars all sit, adorned with neon that seems to attract morons due to all the shiny, flashing lights, and the "Buy one, get many more until you can't feel your feet." promotions normally running.

Now I personally like to spend the evening in London's West End due to the fact that it's filled with tourists and non of my fellow countrymen (and women), but when I return home and have to walk through "The Strip", it normally resembles the first 20 minutes of Saving Private Ryan. Bodies litter the street, not covered in blood, but vomit. Police make brave dashes through pockets of enemy territory as if under fire from German snipers. And instead of cries of "Sterben Sie Schwein-Schaum!", all you can hear is "Leave him Barry, he ain't worth it!"

If Sir David Attenborough was considering where to send his camera crews next for his next wildlife documentary, he could do worse than send them into The Strip. Contained within he would find fighting and mating rituals that out does anything in the animal kingdom. It's just that the lowland gorillas of Africa probably wouldn't throw a pint glass at his head.

You normally find at around half eleven, two drunk men feeling the need to prove their manliness to each other in a totally non homo-erotic way. So like two strutting peacocks, they circle each other, spitting out insults. The whole exchange normally goes like this:

*The two men face each other*

"Come on then!"

"No, you come on then!" (Said whilst backing away)

*They walk round in slow circles*

"Do you want some? (Tea? Cake? Ballontine of beef with pomme puree, baby vegetables, and a rich red wine jus perhaps? This is never explained.)


"Who you calling a slag? Slag!"

"Do you want some?"

*At this stage, every sentence is proceeded by a certain hand gesture. Hands held up, palms to the sky. Fingers waggled towards the body*

"Come on then!" (At no point is a destination of where they are actually going mentioned)

"Do you want some?"

This normally goes on for about 15 minutes, though in truth, it can feel like 15 years. Finally after about the millionth "Do you want some?", one of the morons decides, "Actually yes, I do quite want some. Thank you for asking." and rushes the other, just as the police turn up in the nick of time to break it up. So with about nine officers holding him down, the person doing the attempted assault can look extra manly by screaming out under a pile of policemen "Don't hold me back. I'm gonna kill the slaaaaaaag!" Safe in the knowledge that the police would indeed hold him back and there would be no killing of the aforementioned slag. This little scenario is played out throughout the length and breadth of the land. Depressing, isn't it?

Now I am certainly not advocating that this only happens in the UK. I am sure that other countries in the world can sometimes have these problems. But not as spectacularly as us Brits. We are just so crap at drinking alcohol. We truly are. Take any football tournament in the world. Whose are the fans that are generally feared the most? Yep, ours. Every summer, who invades the beautiful setting of Ibiza in a cloud of cheap aftershave, replica England shirts, and the alcohol induced notion to "Bang anything that moves." Yep, us again. And I once had the misfortune to go on one of these holidays when I was 18. I now know where Dante got the inspiration for the second level of Hell. He had obviously been on a Club 18-30 summer holiday to Ibiza.

This is not a missive that everyone should abstain from drinking and having a good time. It's more a plea to do it properly. By all means go out, have a grin, and just enjoy yourselves. But surely you can do that without turning into the biggest alcohol intoxicated bellend going? People have often argued the case between smoking weed and drinking alcohol. Both are undeniably bad for your health. But when have you ever heard of a pot smoker smashing up a pub, then going outside to do the same to his best friend, and then collapsing spectacularly in a pool of their own vomit? A pot smoker breaks out in a cold sweat if they have to leave their own living rooms to get another packet of Hob Nobs.

Bottom line is, many of us don't know when to stop and say "Enough is enough" and until we do, the UK's inability to handle their drink will be played out in the streets until the last siren fades out into the distance.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Do You Hear What I Hear?......

I am now going to break my cardinal rule that I set out in my very first blog on this site. I am going to write about something from my own personal life.

I know, I know, it doesn't bode well, does it? Wavering like this after only a few days of stating I wouldn't be doing that. But I think what I am about to write about could be quite interesting to you. But just in case it’s not, I have decided to add this random photo of an amusing baby for you to look at instead.

I have recently purchased my very first hearing aid. Now just to make you aware, I have got by fine all throughout my 30 years of being on this earth without needing one. I do have a perforated left ear drum that has left my slightly deaf in that ear, but I have been able to carry on fine with it so far without it affecting my life too badly.

But as I have recently been in an application for a certain job (Think cool uniform, ability to uphold the law, and fighting wrongs. That's right, I've applied to be a ninja) it has been made clear to me that in order to get the job, I need to have perfect hearing.

So I got a hearing aid. It was amazing.

I have a little remote control for it that adjusts the volume. It goes from normal, to loud, to very loud, to loud enough to hear asthmatic ants climbing up walls, to the very top setting, which is so loud I can actually read minds with it.

And the first few days was like a whole new world. I could hear everything I had missed before. The sound of a child's laughter. The sound of the wind rustling the leaves. A snowflake falling to earth. You get the picture? It was all such a sensory overload that I ended up running to the top of a hill and spinning around, arms outstretched, Julie Andrews style from The Sound Of Music, but if Julie Andrews resembled being on crack.

But now after a few weeks, I have noticed all the other things that I had missed. All the shit things that being slightly deaf had protected me from. Children crying. Dogs barking incessantly at night. Children crying. People talking complete bollocks and me being able to hear every word. Children crying. My neighbours rowing. Oh, and have I mentioned children crying? With my new found Superman hearing, the sound of a child crying actually goes through me like razor wire, until it feels as if I have a small imp in my head who is digging into my frontal lobes with a pneumatic drill. The first time I encountered this new phenomena was whilst I was queuing up to do my shopping. The small devil wrapped up in a child's body in front of me started to wail because he couldn't have any sweets, I almost defecated myself on the spot as to how loud it was. I looked around to see if anyone else was noticing the bottles and tins rattling from the sound coming from this walking air raid siren. No one did. I consoled myself by giving the little shit the finger every time his mother wasn't looking. I'm mature like that.

Moral of the story? Be careful what you wish for. Sometimes a beautiful rose can give you a nasty prick. Oh, and that children should be muzzled at all times as well.

I find out if I become a ninja tomorrow. Wish me luck.

*I do hope that wasn't to disinteresting for you? If you find yourself getting to the bottom and it was, just have a look at the top left hand corner. It's a baby. With a funny dummy. Brilliant.....*

Friday, 4 September 2009

Whats That, Coming Over The Hill?......

Once they reach adulthood, both sets of genders normally has the same questions repeatedly running round their minds on some continuous loop.

For the ladies, its normally Will I find a decent husband? At what age should I start a family? Will I be a better mother than mine ever was for me?

And for the men, it normally consists of How would I survive a zombie apocalypse?

Now both sets of questions are worth some merit, but for me, the men have it slightly edged. I mean, what's the point in having a family if you can't protect them from the hordes of slavering undead?

Ladies, just take a look at your man. Take a long, hard look. I can assure you at one point in his life he has thought about geographical advantage, location security, what blunt tools he normally has to hand, and where to run to when the outbreak occurs. You may think it childish fantasy, but any man worth his own would do anything to protect his loved ones, even if that includes debating if a hammer is more mobile than a golf club for bashing in heads.

He would have thought about different scenarios for different zombies. Your more slower, Romero type zombie? Well, they would be easier to outmanoeuvre, but woe betide you if they manage to outnumber you. Best to go Dawn Of The Dead style, and hole up somewhere with food and shelter. Sit it out. The more faster, 28 Days Later type of zombie (I know, I know, they weren't technically zombies!) would be a bit more of a problem. Those fuckers were fast! And the last time you checked, you weren't. Hint, if your man boobs orbit you like two distressed suns when you run, you might have some problems on the nimble front. The best place for evading them would be to travel by car, or van, to a remote location. Up a mountain, or in the wilderness. Basically where the population is limited. An island would be even better. Zombies by their very nature make poor swimmers. The only thing you would have to worry about is if somebody got turned whilst wearing rubber arm bands. Then they could float to your island. Which would be bad.

Your man would have thought about what to do with the family pets. Do we take Granny with us, or use her as bait? Do we band together with our neighbours, or have we never forgiven them for borrowing that socket wrench and never returning it? If you see your man lying awake at night, just staring at the ceiling. It isn't the everyday worries of life keeping him awake. Its thinking about all of this. And ladies, you should be grateful. You really should. Because the zombie apocalypse will happen one day. And you better hope that you have managed to bag yourself a good man with an even better plan. Because we are all gonna need one.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Modern Life Is Indeed Rubbish.

Whether it is a symptom of getting older, or maybe the fact that the world seems to be filling up with more incompetent people, but I seem to find myself nowadays becoming more and more irritated by things that wouldn't normally have bothered me, say, ten years ago?

But it's not just me that seems to be affected by this malaise. Take a look around you the next time you walk down your high street. Everyone is pissed off. From that chavy looking bloke having a very public argument with his girlfriend on his mobile (She meant nothing Karen, I facken loves yer!) to young mothers seemingly happy to start belting their offspring around the pasta and rice aisle of Tesco's, all because their kids were ripped off their tits on E numbers from eating blue Smarties. We are all at it. Every traffic jam has people screaming out their windows at the cars in front to move, when they have about as much manoeuvrability as a fat man in spandex. It's all around us. Beetroot red faces and raised voices. Couples sitting in stony silence in a restaurant because of some row. Everyone rushing around in their own little worlds, all concerned about their own little bubble of existence, and to hell with everybody else.

Perhaps it is an indication of the society that we live in that we are so wrapped up in the "now", in the fact that we are used to having everything we desire instantly downloaded directly to our brains: thoughts, ideas, images, that the moment reality actually invades our worlds, all those inconveniences, all those sudden mishaps and strife that make up life, we are actually unable to deal with them. Everything should be delivered pre-packaged and shiny, when we want it, right now. The moment it doesn't, the moment that something goes wrong and we are denied, well, that freaks us out and we start behaving like toddlers.

That certainly is quite a chin strokey theory that I have just come up with there (and I'm mentally high fiving myself for creating it) but I actually have a much better theory. One that sits much better with my sunny outlook.

The world is mainly populated by complete fucking idiots.

Now let me just leave that out there for a moment. Let it just sit there and gain some admiring glances like a freshly crowned prom queen.

The world is populated by complete fucking idiots and they all want to annoy me. They flock to me like moths to a flame, buzzing round my head and all making a high pitched "eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee" noise until I feel like grabbing the nearest one and toe punting the bastard through a plate glass window.

The people in the busy street, who suddenly decide to stop right in front of me, gaze around with a look of almost divine wonder in their gormless faces, like they have never been outside before, heedless of the fact there is a bloke behind them almost apocalyptic with rage. Couple that with the other kind of streetwalker, the "I've got no where to go, and Goddamn I'm gonna go there slowly" brigade, who clearly make me wish for an electric cattle prod for my next birthday.

But its not just individual idiots that we (I) have to contend with as well. There is also the large, faceless cooperation's to deal with. Large firms that seem to be massive holding pens for idiots. Huge grey buildings where they are shepherded in with huge nets during the morning like cattle. Where idiots simply gather to keep warm under the pretence of "work"

Quite recently I have had a month long drama with a rather large computer company. I won't name them, but their name rhymes with Bell, and their customer service rhymes with fucking abysmal. For weeks I had to endure phone call after phone call with various different people, all with various different levels of stupidity. Ranging from Level 1: having to repeat my problem at least four times before it was understood (You have sent me the wrong thing), to Level 5: not knowing if the person on the phone could talk and breathe at the same time for fear of having an embolism at that too complex a task.

At least if someone annoys you in the street you can say something back. With these cooperation's, the moment that you are faced with idiocy of almost Biblical proportions and something goes wrong, the moment you try and resolve it or complain, the shutters come down and you are left out in the pissing rain like a leper at a wedding.

As a species we are fundamentally screwed. If this level of incompetence continues at this rate, by the year 2123, we will be reduced to looking back to old episodes of Big Brother and marvel at the in-depth psychological discussions that took place, while we try and feed ourselves by eating our own shoes.

It will happen.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Public Enemy Number One.

By now probably nearly everyone in the UK has seen him in some form. Arms held aloft in Trafalgar Square, surrounded by like minded chums, and screeching Bonnie Tyler's Total Eclipse Of The Heart down the phone to someone.

And for some strange reason, this rather unfortunate person has suddenly had the collective hate of an entire nation dumped on him like two tons of steaming elephant diarrhea, Everyone seems to have some form of comment to make about him and this advert. And none of it is very pleasant. In fact most of it revolves around the best form of physical harm you could do to him with a set of pliers, some skipping rope, and about 15 minutes of spare time.

Search Facebook and you will find numerous groups set up for the UK's new hero. Groups like: I hate the kid off the T-mobile Advert. I hate that cock off the T-mobile advert. I really want to punch that twat off the T-mobile advert. I would love to push out the eyes of the T-mobile kid and piss in his eye cavities (I may have made that last one up)

So what is it about this bloke that gets our collective backs up? What is it about his floppy fringed, gurning face, that sets the blood pressure rising, and the left leg twitching with an urge to put it through your plasma?

Perhaps its his age? For people of a certain age group, no one likes to see anybody young enjoying themselves. It reminds them to much of their own mortality, of their mortgage, their wife/husband, their mewling children, the bills, being skint, death looming over your shoulder, so having this all pressing down on you and to then be suddenly confronted by this care free youth, free to sing badly at the top of his voice and wear stupid clothes, possessing hair that you could only dream about, well, it would kind of make you a bit tetchy.

But for the rest of us? Well, that's quite simple. Just look at him. LOOK AT HIM! The guy is a simpering shell of a human being! He doesn't care. He's in Trafalgar Square, he's singing his heart out to a camp classic, he's got his posse of bitches around him. He be freestyling motherfunker.

Just pity the poor sod that he is on the phone to. Imagine that? After a hard days work, you sit yourself down on your sofa, your mobile rings and you have him wailing away on the other end. Its enough to make you contemplate that bottle of whiskey and the jar of sleeping pills you have in your medicine cabinet.

Bottom line is, he looks like he is having fun while the rest of us are clearly not in on the action. And whether the guy is an actor, or was just clearly caught up in the "moment", the guy is now left to suffer an eternity of being "that twat off the advert"


No one should be allowed to look like they are enjoying themselves that much and get away with it.

But worse of all, off the back of this advert, Bonnie Tyler has now decided to re-release Total Eclipse for the umpteenth time. For that there is no excuse. People must die.

If you want to check out the best version of this song, have a look at this.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

And Now, The End Is Near......

And so, with all the finesse of a pissed up new divorcee at a house party, it seems that Big Brother will stay just that little bit longer on our screens until summer of next year.

This once colossal show has now become ridiculed and maligned to such an extent, that not even the Sun newspaper deems it worthy to report on it anymore.

I have often had a bit of a split personality relationship with reality TV. The programmes themselves I have never had a problem with, for I can see them for what they exactly are, expertly created hour long dramas in which the audience is manipulated into feeling exactly what the producers want them to. All the highs and lows, laughs, fights, and tears, are normally perfect entertainment to loose yourself in for an hour after work, and then forget about as soon as your head hits the pillow. Its the aftermath that really used to piss me off. Those fame hungry contestants are suddenly spewed out into the public eye, and the harsh glare of the photographers flashbulbs, and suddenly believe they are the second coming of Christ and you cant move for the fuckers. Magazines and newspapers would be filled with them, their lives, romances, and their slow decline as they slithered down the ladder of public conscious and they became figures of fun, ending up on tawdry game shows to be mocked and abused.

The four main reality TV shows here in the UK are Big Brother, I'm A Celebrity, Strictly Come Dancing, and The X Factor. Out of those four, two are populated entirely with minor league celebrities all hungry to promote their fading careers by either eating alligator cocks, or dragging some petrified dancer across the floor in what is supposed to be a passable rendition of a Viennese Waltz. So in many ways, as repulsive as some of these individuals were, you can understand their motives. They had been somewhere near the top before, and now ached to get back up there by whatever means possible. It kind of became somewhat of a paradox though when you had contestants of previous reality shows, going on celebrity reality shows to regain their own celebrity from being on reality TV shows. If you thought the Hadron Collider was going to end the world, try thinking about that for to long......

The other two were filled with the general public, and all the horrors that came with it. And believe me, there were many. And that is why I slowly gave up on Big Brother. If you have seen one cross dressing lesbian dwarf goat herder, well, you've seen them all. So I stopped watching a few years ago and never thought much about it.

But as this series started, and having way to much spare time on my hands due to circumstances out of my control, I decided to start watching once more. And through all the previous aggravations I had with the show, I forgot how much fun it could be if casted correctly. And they seemed to get a pretty good mix this year. True there were your stand out oddballs from the start, but on a whole they seemed like a pretty diverse bunch.

One thing in which I do think the show got right this year was to keep it fairly simple. Previous series had overcomplicated things too much by introducing far too many contestants, changing the whole format of the show round until it didn't resemble the programme we all knew. And don't get me started on the secret rooms. Each progressive series would have so many secret rooms, and chambers, the contestants would start scouring each room in the house looking for them, like some alcohol fueled version of Colditz. You almost expected one of them to turn the tap on in the bathroom, and a whole wall to suddenly spin round revealing an evil lair, Scooby Doo style.

So a fairly simplified show was now running, but what about the house mates?

My favourite all up to his eviction was Marcus, a creepy sex pest with all the social graces of a bear after receiving a baseball bat to the testicles. He swore and slimed his way into my affections like Brentford version of Billy Ray Cyrus. The show has died a bit since his departure.

My long standing nemesis on the show has to be Lisa. The leathery lesbian who is more intimidating than a chainsaw buzzing merrily inches from your eyeballs. Almost reptilian in appearance after nearly three months in the sun, her skin has almost become armour plated. If you watch her closely, you almost expect a foot long forked tongue to flick out of her mouth and snatch a fly out of the air as it buzzes past her head. Hateful woman.

Her partner in crime is David, who quite possibly is the ugliest man in the world. It is almost as though someone has stuck a candle under his chin, and the lower half of his face is slowly melting. Camp to almost being unlikable, all he does is agree with Lisa, and do what in his head appear to be amusing things, all the while checking out the cameras to make sure they are on him.

The house mate who has generated the most news from this series has to have been Noirin. Apparently old sailrs havve spoke tails of her for years, how she sits on rocks out on the ocean and lures unwary sailors to the doom with her beauty. Apparently to even look in her eyes makes you want to drop anything and be with her. After seemingly making every straight man in the house fall for her, she left in a cloud of broken hearts, followed by an American chap who resembled a retarded gorilla.

Amongst all the others who never really stood out for me, Siavash, Sophie, Rodrigo, etc You fiinally have Charlie, a man out of all this years contestants desperately wants to win the show more than anybody. He seems to have taken on the role of house joker, fun time Charlie, always liked by everyone with his crazy japes, when all you have to do is look in his eyes to see they are dead, like a dolls eyes. All he is concerned about is being crowned champion of a show that died a death a long, long time ago. Sometimes his persona does crack, and you get to see the rather nasty side of the man underneath. But knowing the general public, he will probably win the thing.

So this year has been pretty enjoyable. It is a shame that it has come to an end like this. A once regaled event TV show, reduced to a few obituaries and snide bylines in more reputable newspapers. But in its own way, the show was its own downfall. Rammed down our throats every year, its constant stream of not very nice people that were inescapable for six months were simply to much to take. To prolong the show it should have been transmitted every two years to keep it fresh.

Hows this for a new reality show? One house. Ten faded celebrities. Locks on every door. And one starving Bengal Tiger.

TV gold right there. But no one ever listens to me.

The Dark Prince Returns......

So, its finally back on our screens after what only seems like a few hours off it. Yes, the X Factor is back in my living room, along with more weeping and dead relatives than an afternoon with Dereck Acorah (and lets face it, if anyone can return Danni Minogue back to the grave she has obviously just risen from, then its our favourite camp medium/spiritualist/con merchant)

I do have a small confession to make though. For all the bile that I spew at the TV when this show starts, for all the splutters of indignation that I utter when its slickly edited, emotion tweaking, mind control begins to work its magic, I am safe in the knowledge that come 7pm the following Saturday, I, like millions of others, will happily plonk myself down on the sofa, awaiting the "Emotional roller coaster" to start once more.

It truly is TV manna from heaven. A fail safe concoction of just the right amount of tears and joy that will prompt the most jaded of housewives and hormonal teenagers to pick up their remotes and phones, spittle dribbling down their chins and with glazed eyes, press that red button, or text that all saving vote, and cause the Dark Lord Cowell's eyes to glow red as he views his latest bank statement.

For those who do not live in the UK, The X Factor is basically American Idol minus the glitz and glamour that the Americans do so well. To give ITV their dues, they do try to reproduce it, but sadly it is all so loud and quickly edited that it normally ends up resembling a form of all sensory torture that would make the CIA proud, but instead of revealing where the nearest insurgent camp is, it just makes you blindly pick up the phone and vote to save that nice bin man from Kent.

Bolstered by the success of his other care into the community show, Britain's Got A Bunch Of Mentalists, Cowell has decided to drop the closed auditions and have everything done in front of a live audience. This has obviously been a result of the two massive YouTube hits that have come about from the likes of Paul Potts and Susan Boyle, and he is now looking for the same from The X Factor.

Needless to say it doesn't work. The whole idea of the X Factor is stages. Small to motherfunking huge, neon lit, pyrotechnical wonders. So whats the point of this progression, if all you are doing is plonking these new wannabes in front of a few thousand from the word go? All you are basically doing is recreating the final stages, arse about face. The British public fear change. We like safe, warm, and cosy. Though judging by the viewing figures, this has in no way put anybody off watching the show, it just means like all successful formats, it has been tinkered with for no reason. Boo!

If the auditions have changed, then thankfully the contestants have not. Still the same mixture of pub singers, diva pretenders, and quite frankly, arse tightening scary folk who have obviously wandered in off the street because its warm, and suddenly find themselves on stage, microphone in hand, blinking in the harsh lights, and being ordered to sing in front of a few thousand baying people.

And the sob stories. Oh God, the sob stories. "I'm doing this for my dead goldfish Barry. I always knew he liked Christina Aguilera's Beautiful. He always used to swim that little bit faster in his bowl when I sang it to him."

The situation is always the same. Cue some sad looking person, sitting alone in the waiting room, staring wistfully into space whilst Coldplay's The Scientist plays mournfully in the background. Dermot O'Leary then sits down beside them, gets them to spill their guts about what ever horrible event has brought them here, then as the music reaches crescendo, he puts his arm round them for maximum blub shot material. Call me cynical.....Actually sod it, just call me cynical. I hate it.

And last but certainly not least........The judges.

Thank Christ on a bendy bus they have finally gotten rid of the old harridan, Sharon Osbourne. A blight on human society that will take eons to remove from our collective memories, much like Cilla Black. Louie Walsh is still there, like the evil Irish imp that he is, eyes lighting up like a Christmas tree when he spots some naive young blond talent to exploit. Danni Minogue is not too bad, though you do expect her to rip her dress off Hulk style the minute she is annoyed, and start throwing studio members around like Frisbee's. Cheryl Cole, ahhh lovely Cheryl Cole. The nations sweetheart. How this has happened, I don't know? It is quite some feat to go from a court room for allegedly assaulted black toilet attendant, to suddenly causing the collective granny population of Great Britain to spontaneously combust with unbridled joy. Eye candy she may be (and I actually have a friend who physically tries to insert himself in his TV whenever she is on it) all she is really there to do is look pretty and cry on cue. Something she manages to do quite admirably on both.

And then you have Mr Simon Cowell. Satan's mentor. Try as you might to hate the bloke though, it doesn't matter who you are, you cant help but have a small, sneaking respect for the fella. His is the life you want to live above all others. To be fettered on all continents like he is? Well, surely that takes some doing. But always watch his face. The moment he smiles upon seeing someone who at least sounds half decent on that stage, you can almost hear the massive KER-CHING! of the cash register going of in his mind like a mini atom bomb. He is the show, and God bless him for that.

So for now until Christmas, this is all the nation will be talking about and watching. For better or for worse, its a testament to how slickly it is made that it draws us all in, and wont spit us out till the final note has been warbled and that iTunes download has begun.