Sunday, 28 February 2010

The Plan……

For some strange reason I have seemed to amassed the reputation of being a grumpy bastard who hates the world.

Now I don’t know if this is because of something I have said in the past, or due to the fact that I normally glare back at the world with the expression that an astronaut has when he farts in his own spacesuit, but I guess this assumption is pretty much correct.

I have a list of things in my head that annoy me and I am updating it all the time. Do you want to know what is right at the top at the moment, right in front of that god-awful cover version of Journeys Don’t Stop Believing by the cast of fecking Glee?


I am very big on timekeeping.

Now I am never late. If I say I am going to be somewhere at a certain time, then I make sure that I’m damn well going to be there at that time. I hate tardiness. In fact I hate lateness so much that I always arrive at my destination early, just so I am never late. If I say that I will meet you Wednesday at 2.00pm, chances are I will actually get there on Tuesday at 4.00pm, impatiently tapping my foot and checking my watch, wondering where the hell you were.

And yet everyone else I know seems to be on a different time zone to me. Everyone is late.


I swear whenever I arrange to meet someone, they will get there 20 minutes after our arranged meeting time with an apologetic look on their face and a really shitty excuse, wondering why the hell I am looking like I want to kill them with a knitting needle.

There is a reason for my obsession with timekeeping though and it boils down to my weird OCD mind.

Now I plan everything down to the finite detail, I really can’t help it. Every aspect of my life has to be controlled down to the letter. In fact I could probably tell you what will be doing on Sunday the 21st March at 3.00pm (making a cheese and ham sandwich and a cup of tea, I was going to add some pickle to the sandwich, but I probably forgot to get some when I went shopping the day before).

But I just don’t plan; I need to have THE PLAN.

Whenever arrangements are made, I will always ask “So, what's THE PLAN?”

I need to know times, dates, temperature, moon cycles, the whole shebang.

The worst response to that question you could give me would be: Let’s just see what happens?

That sentence is like a red rag to a bull to my odd little mind and it will wake up the OCD imp within my head, where it will scurry to the front of my brain, with its claws clicking on my shiny mind floor, and then it will leap up and down, desperate to get my attention.

Let’s just see what happens?” my OCD imp will ask me after I finally notice it. “But what about THE PLAN?”

“Do we really need a plan? Can’t we just be spontaneous?” I ask it back.

Spontaneous! Do you know what spontaneity brings?” it screeches at me with its little impy voice.

“No……..” I mumble shamefaced.

“CHAOS! That's what it brings. Do you want chaos, Dan?”

No I bloody don’t!

I shake my head hard, feeling the imp lose its balance so it has to hang on to my cerebral cortex for dear life with its tiny little hands.

“No, I thought not, “The imp says, dusting itself down after the mindquake stops, “I’m going to have to make some adjustments to THE PLAN now.”

And so it will scurry off to its little office inside my head and sit at a big drawing desk, where by lamplight its sits hunched over a massive timetable with the words THE PLAN written on the top in huge letters, a timetable that maps out my entire life, and it will sit there happily making adjustments here and there, updating little bits of info that I gather, always with a happy smile on its scaly lips, and when it really needs to concentrate, like if I’m trying to decide if I should have my bath at 7.00pm rather than 8.00pm, meaning I then get to read for an hour longer, then it will hum a happy tune to itself and stick its little green tongue out of the corner of its mouth in a distracted manner as it weighs up the pros and cons and then updates THE PLAN accordingly.

I’ve grown quite fond of him to be honest.

But that means in the real world, as opposed to the really bizarre one that lives in my head, I constantly need facts. If someone says they are going to pop over and see me at my flat, I need to have a time. It can’t just be whenever, it needs to be a real time that you can see on a clock, otherwise my whole routine gets thrown out of whack and I just end up standing in the middle of the room like a geriatric, looking confused and wondering what the hell I am meant to be doing next.

Holidays are fun for me as well.

Last year I took Kates to Florida for two weeks. By the end of the first night I had done a detailed little timetable of how we can maximise our trip on my iPhone.

“Look at this.” I said to her proudly, showing her the screen.

“What is it?” she asked me, squinting at the tiny little timetable.

“Its our holiday fun timetable, look, it even says so in bold at the top of it” I reply like I am talking to a five year old.

“Are you serious?”

I give her a look as if to say: It’s THE PLAN, of course it’s serious?

“Can’t we just take each day as it comes, just have some fun?” she asked me.

“This is fun?” I reply meekly, waving the timetable at her. “I’ve got everything mapped out here. When to eat, what theme parks to visit, I’ve even got a two hour slot on Monday where there is nothing booked in, so we can just relax.”

“You will probably just spend it updating your stupid timetable” she replied with a snort.

I hadn’t thought of that……..

I sneakily moved my fingers over the screen to change the two hour relax slot into review timetable.

“What are you doing?” Kates asked me.


“Give me that phone!” she snapped.

I handed it over.

“I’m deleting this and we are just going to plan stuff as the day comes and you’re going to like it.” she said, her finger hovering over the big fat X that would delete the next two weeks of my life.

“Can we just not keep it for reference?” I cried, but by then it was too late, she pressed X and it was gone.

She could never delete the timetable, or mindtable, that was in my head though.

So for the entire duration of our holiday, I was constantly referring back to that like some mental Nazi Gestapo officer.

“Are you having fun?” I would ask her.

She would smile and nod back at me.

“Of course you are.” I would reply in a smug little voice, safe in the knowledge that this was all down to my holiday fun timetable, “Now let’s go have some fun over here……”

Everyone has their own inner demons and imps. Rather than fight some of them though, why not try and make friends with them? Once you get to know them, they can be quite funny, and if you ever got lonely, stop every now and then and have a chat with them. It’s better to live in harmony with some things that spend your whole life in conflict with them.

Oh, and I have named my imp Sean.

He likes that.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

The Witching Hour…….

When you suffer from crippling insomnia like I do, the bedroom becomes more like a battlefield than an actual place of rest. As the hours draw later and you end up closer to the time that most normal would be preparing for a good night’s sleep, you know that you yourself will be staring into the darkness, willing your body to finally switch off and get some rest.

Doesn’t happen.

The hours stretch out into an endless procession of time that results in you checking your clock every five minutes in a disbelieving way, while your body tells you: Yep, still awake. While you’re here, what shall we go over in your mind now?

When I was a kid, sleep came easy. Though my sleeping position was a bit different, if I'm truly honest. I used to scrunch under the covers into the tightest foetal position going, unwilling to let any part of my body hang over the edge purely for the belief that if it did, a rotting cadaverous hand would reach out from the blackness beneath my bed and drag me into the space where the monsters lived.

I’m a 31 year old man and I still do this.

Seriously, I do.

Even at this age, I can’t let any part of my body hang over the edge of the bed, and even though I am old enough to know that monsters don’t exist (apart from Sharon Osbourne), I still have the night terrors engrained on my psyche from when I was young and stupid to have: Yeah, there are no such things as monsters, but I’m not fecking chancing it! running through my mindscape.

But in all honesty, the only monster I have to deal with during the night is insomnia. And it is a scaly and nasty beast that I am at a loss as to how to defeat.

I do sleep better when I am in bed with someone, but I only see Kates a few nights a week, so the rest of the time I am left to fight my demons on my own. When we are together though, we have a sleeping position that can be deemed a little odd. We have something that we call headlocks and basically consists of us spooning while I wrap my arms around her head and neck in what looks like a really poorly executed wrestling move. And for some bizarre reason we both seem to like it. Though what that says about our relationship where I can only get to sleep if I’m basically throttling her, I don’t know…….

But even with my girlfriend in bed with me, and us re-enacting the best moves of Bret The Hitman Hart, sleep is quite often unable to be found for me. So I normally spend a very lonely night lying awake next to my lovely sleeping lady (my lovely sleeping lady who can annoyingly drop off as soon as her head hits the pillow) and read by lamplight until the early hours.

As Kates is a light sleeper though, either the light from my lamp or the sound of me turning a page, or even the sound of me daring to take a breath, will rip her from her sleep and cause her to rise from the covers in a tidal wave of blonde hair (seriously, bed hair doesn’t come close to describing it. I sometimes feel like I have to brandish a chair and a whip at her, screaming “Back beast, back!” when she wakes up in the morning. And yes, I am going to die when she reads this. Painfully, and probably involving some form of blunt instrument to my testes).

She will blink at me with sleepy eyes, taking in the sight of my lying there, lamp on, book in my hand, and ask, “Are you still reading?”

Now there are many ways in which I can reply to this. My normal sarcastic side usually screams out in my head: No, I’m crocheting. What are your measurements again? But to be honest, a combination of tiredness and a fear of bodily harm prevent me from saying this, and I just normally shake my head and switch the light off as she cuddles up beside me, while I stare at the ceiling and wait for the birds to start singing. And if I finally manage to snatch a few moments of sleep, the alarm will then go off for me to glare groggily at it and scream.

Insomnia really affects you during the day though. As the days roll by, a lack of sleep presents itself in a deep seated weariness that you can feel in your bones. Everything becomes washed out and faded; all the edges are smoothed off from the world until you feel like a half drawn animation, struggling through your own personal cartoon.

Over time, if the body is deprived of sleep, it can do strange things. My coordination becomes sluggish, my reactions poor. I’m struggling to write this even now, as my sleep has been terrible for the last few weeks. I have to keep reading everything over and over again for fear of making mistakes. I always feel as if I am about ten seconds behind everything else as everything is dull and listless for me under the fuzzy cloud of tiredness.

As per the cycle of this shitty routine, after about three or four weeks, my body will just give up and I will just fall to sleep at the drop of a hat, regardless of place or situation.

I remember one time I came home from work, literally dragging my arse across the floor from tiredness. I was too shattered to cook so I ordered myself a pizza. When it came, I took it to my sofa and lay down. Within minutes of doing so I was asleep face first on my pizza, where I stayed until the cold early hours of the morning. When I awoke, I didn’t have a clue where I was and sat up with a pizza slice stuck to my face, looking for all the world like some cheese based Phantom Of The Opera.

Another time when this embarrassing incident took place was when I worked in a photo lab. I entered our darkroom to change some photographic paper. I sat down in the pitch black on our work bench and due to a combination of the darkness, the quiet, and the lovely warmth, I was asleep in seconds. It was only someone banging on the door about half hour later that woke me up. Sadly I forgot where I was and thought I had gone blind.

Wasn’t funny at the time……..

I can feel that time creeping up on me now. My body feels like a clapped out old motor with barely enough juice in the tank to make it another few miles. But I know what will happen, I will crash at some point, my body not able to go any further, and I will forcibly have a good night’s sleep, waking up the next day to feel like I have been reborn. Everything will take on a brighter hue, be sharper and more defined to my fresh eyes, and I will feel what it really means to have a good night’s rest.

And then it will start all over again.

I hate you insomnia.

Seriously, if you had nipples, I would really twist them until you started crying……………..

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Praise Be To Hoff………..

As a man, I am pretty crap.

I lack all of the so called traits that men are supposed to have.

I have no skills to speak of whatsoever. I can’t put up shelves. I can’t wallpaper a wall. If you handed me a hammer, a saw, and a socket set, and then asked me to do something manly with it, more than likely I would just look back at you as if you had just handed me a new born baby and then asked me to raise it as my own, teaching it decent values and morals and how to be an upstanding member of society.

Then I would probably begin sweating.

I can’t drive and know nothing of cars, so I can’t gather in a circle of men and begin to debate  the merits of the new Ford Megabollox 5000, with its horse powered bastard fast engine, which also comes with shiny alloy wheel things and a pair of airbags, that when inflated, resemble two huge testicles being squashed into your face so you feel like you've fallen headfirst into Meatloaf’s lap.

I don’t go out and get shitfaced drunk with other men and then start to letch on women in that charmingly enduring way that only drunk morons can, where in their own heads they believe themselves to be the suave reincarnation of Dean Martin and Jack Nicholson, but in reality they actually resemble sad and lonely figures who are only going to go home alone, covered in speckles of their own vomit and chip grease, and masturbate furiously in dark and silent bedrooms. And with each bitter stroke, their eyes will moisten from the sheer emptiness of their lives as they face up to the fact that their best years are behind them, and they have absolutely nothing to show for it other than the dull ache that sits in the place where their heart used to be and the crumpled up jizz covered tissues that actually represent the only form of relationship that they have right now, one which happens to be with their own right hand.

I don’t do that obviously.

In fact the only allusion to manhood that I actually follow is the fact that I like football. But even then, when I go to a match, I probably stick out like a man who gets turned on by heights doing a bungee jump due to the disdain I normally feel for my fellow supporters as they bellow out the inane drivel that passes for support in these enlightened times.

Kick his fucking legs!

You’re shit Cole!

(Upon when pointed out that was actually Illunga that miss kicked the ball and not Cole)

Cole, Illunga, who fucking cares?

Sort it ouuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut!


But saying that, if you replaced the whole crowd with exact replicas of me, rather than cheering as the team marched out on to the pitch, all you would have would be a slight air of disappointment and 36,000 people wondering if you could buy shoes for monkeys, so maybe its probably best if things stayed the way they were on that front?  

So, as you can probably tell, as a man I lack any sort of quality whatsoever.

I suck.

When I was growing up though, there was one person that epitomised manhood in all its glory and also gave me something to hope for as well, the hope that I too would grow up as hairy and virile as this God amongst men was.

That man was David Hasslehoff.

For about two years, The Hoff was a god to me. During my Knight Rider obsession at the age of about eight, I too wanted to wear leather trousers and walk around with my shirt undone, looking for all the world like I had a tranquilised possum stuffed down the front of it who was just starting to wake up and wonder where the hell it was. But sadly for me, my mum wouldn’t let me buy a pair of leather trousers, and at the age of eight, my chest hair was a little on the lax side.

But make no mistake; the man was a living legend to me. And Knight Rider was my church. I tried to copy the way The Hoff walked, how he got the ladies, and how he oozed effortless cool.

But most of all, I tried to copy the relationship he had with KITT.

The fact that The Hoff was so cool he actually had a talking car basically sealed the deal for me. I too wished I had a talking car, and on occasion, if left alone in my dad’s car, I would whisper to it “You can talk to me if you want?”

It never did though.

But this obsession with talking cars spread out into other household objects as well. I overheard my parents talking one time about if they should send me to a child psychologist after they had caught me having a one sided conversation with the washing machine in our kitchen. I tried to explain to them that if Michael Knight could have a talking car, why was it so silly if I had a talking washing machine? True, our crime fighting prowess would be a tad limited, but at least my leather trousers would always look clean as I did it.

Now though, The Hoff has been relegated to a clownish figure to be laughed at and ridiculed. The king of cheesy moments, drunken antics, and bizarre behaviour.

And then there is the music.

Upon preparing to write this love letter to all things Hasslehoff, I realised that in all honesty, I hadn’t really heard any of his music. Whether that was a good thing or not I am still to decide. I’d heard of it, but just not the actual music itself. So I popped over to Amazon to listen to a few snippets and found quite possibly the funniest selection of reviews I have ever read. 

Pop on over and have a look yourselves, but here are a few choice selections:

“Once in every generation you have gifted musical and literary geniuses who create bodies of work that can only be described as sublime transcendence. Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Tolstoy - this pantheon of greatness can only be complete with the addition of none other than Davis Humpinhorse. I was depressed, lonely and spiritually empty until one day, I listened to "The Best Is Yet To Come", and my eyes were opened - I was thus convinced that God not only exists, but we are all ensconced in his presence. If you truly love music and poetry, you must have this CD in your collection. For those who have grown world-weary and cynical, I challenge you to listen to gems like "Do the Limbo Dance", "Highway To Your Heart", "I Believe" and the particularly good song "Hot Shot City" (THE MASTERPIECE which exquisitely describes and defines the human condition) and tell me that life still has no meaning! In terms of his contemporaries, forget clowns like Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen or Tom Waits. The Hass-man blows them away. People will be studying and enjoying his poetry and music for generations.”

“I was a cynic, I'd done it all, seen it all, produced legends such as U2, Madonna, The Beetles, Tim Curry. As you would expect, I had grown weary of the wild world of the music industry. The constant parties, dealing with drugged up losers hawking what scrap of talent they had left in their war ravaged bodies to the highest bidder. So it would be no surprise to you folks that upon receiving Dumphil Hampersoft's "Very Best Of" album for Christmas from my great granddaughter Clarisse, I had almost chucked it out.


But something about the man on the cover intrigued me. A quality I had seen before in others, John Lennon, Jimmy Hendrix, Elvis, Jesus. Overcome with, well, I can’t really describe it; I placed the compact disc tenderly in the tray of my 1993 original PanMax ghetto blaster and pressed Confabulate. The effect was instantaneous. As if caressed by the most serene of angels, my eardrums responded by rising in sweet symphony to the crests and troughs of His vocal sirens. Knees weak, I managed to make it to the couch where I slumped as I seen junkies do years before. Slowly my life force was being sapped, but not in a bad way, I was becoming...I was seeing for the first time, hearing for the first time. Then Hot Shot City started to play. As if sitting on my father’s lap for the first time, Dammerhingers voice tenderly trailed the length of my neck, raising each hair on my body in an organic ode to greatness. It was done. I had found what I was looking for. The chase for the white dragon was over and I have only one person, one being, to thank.
Thank you Drupil Handlestroff. You are truly great.”

"Magnanimous....serendipitous...cornucopias....none of these words have anything to do with this least one of them probably doesn't exist...but they are big....VERY big...and big is exactly the size of Mr. Hasselhoff's talent, as displayed so proudly on this greatest hits CD. You will curse your parents for not playing this music while you were still in the womb, for you might have grown up to become a well adjusted individual instead of the worthless heathen you are."

And finally……

"If you're indeed looking for the best of David Hasselhoff, one could do no better than this nearly flawless collection. In "Looking for the Best", Hasselhoff selects 18 songs spanning a back catalogue of 1 previous album. Actually, I'm not sure how someone compiles a best-of album when you only have 1 album, but Hasselhoff is not concerned with semantics here; Hasselhoff is here to rock you.

LFTB starts of earnestly with "Looking for Freedom" in which Hasselhoff rages against western materialism. The synthesizer solo rails against your senses, reminding you what it's like to be young again.

Our second offering from this collection, "Wir Zwei Allein", Hasselhoff takes aim at the Jews, denying the holocaust as a "jüdische Bengellüge". From his pulpit, Hasselhoff rains down blazing synthesizer rage that will remind you why they call him the "Der Gasraum Kommandant" in Germany and "Meister von Auschwitz" in Poland, where he's feared as a devil.

On "Do you Limbo Dance", Hasselhoff raps --
"Who's afraid of my big bad weenie / Rub it and see if it's got a genie / Gonna make disappear this 10-inch zucchini / Just like
Houdini / Big Dave Hasselhoff rappin' / Wanna see yo' butt cheeks flappin' / Hoff want the honeys with the big back doors /
So drop them drawers, whores. Unh."

Like most albums that start off so strong, when Hoff takes it down a notch, the album sags in the middle. In "Save the World" Hoff rattles off about the Jews again, and in my opinion, it gets a little repetitive.

Fortunately the album picks up again with a rousing gorgeous "Je T'Aime Means I Love You", in which Hasselhoff softens his Arian manifest with clever French wordplay wrapped into a bilingual love-song. Hasselhoff sings "I love your hair and as the french say 'adorez mon pénis, vous putain de parasite'". I'm not sure what that means, but it bleeds with the romance that only Hasselhoff can conjure.

All in all, this is an extremely strong collection of songs from an underrated singer. Move over Bob Dylan, the torch has been passed."

I could spend hours reading those…….

So Hoff, even though your place in the annuls of entertainment history have been sullied somewhat by the fact that you a clearly a deranged mental bastard, in my heart, you will always be the coolest of cats, with your tousled hair, your leather trousers that reflect the sunlight so much that even your crutch seems illuminated, and the very fact that you had a talking motherfunking car!

To this eternal eight year olds heart, you were, and still are, the very best.

Friday, 5 February 2010

I’m In Print!!!!……

Ever since I discovered I had the amazing talent of putting words together and making them barely legible, it has been a dream of mine to find myself within a written publication.

Well, that dream finally came true today.

Some of you fellow bloggers may know of a website called The Blog Paper. If you haven’t heard of it, then allow me to give you the skinny.

Here in London, we used to have a collection of free newspapers that were handed out every evening by strange looking people whose sole aim, apart from handing you free papers, was to get in your way as you tried to get home from work, and thus made you so angry that you wanted to roll up two copies of said newspapers and then insert them slowly into their eye sockets due to the fact that they had made you missed your train for the umpteenth time.

These papers died a death sometime last year. So that left a rather large amount of printing presses just sitting idly by, not really doing anything at all. So some rather enterprising folk came up with a novel idea. A user submitted newspaper. You contribute the articles to the website, and the readers of said website voted on what should be printed in the monthly paper.

I submitted my blog article that I wrote about porn as a sort of “Let’s see what happens” kind of thing and awaited the outcome. I did consider posting on here asking for votes, but a part of me wanted to see if the writing would stand up on its own (or at least stagger around half cut like a Glaswegian drunk), so I left it be and waited.

I started to get a few votes here and there, and then things started to go better and better. Better than I could have ever hoped for to be honest. If you look on the website under highest rated articles, I am currently at the top.

I got printed today.

I am very happy.

Very happy indeed.

I went down to one of the stations that the paper was being handed out at to pick myself up a copy. Sadly I think I must have missed them, as the only papers being handed out by the time I got there was the Evening Standard. I must admit to being a tad deflated as I was so excited about holding something I had written in my own hands, but then I saw it, a copy of The Blog Paper lying dropped in the gutter (and yes, the delicious irony was not lost on me). With happy thoughts, I picked it up and flicked through the pages until I saw my article.

My article.

It was my words with my name attached to it. And people could read it.

I know that what I put up on here is happily accessible to anyone who stumbles across it (and god bless you all for doing so), but there is something about the printed word that I find so amazing that having them replicated on a flickering PC screen really can’t do them justice.

This is seriously a big thing for me, even if for others it may seem small.

Coming home I had a bit of an odd experience. I was sitting on the train to Shenfield opposite a rather nice lady with glasses. About halfway through the journey she pulled out a copy of The Blog Paper and began to read it.

Immediately my eyes were drawn to the paper as I stared at her intently, trying to gauge where she was up to in the pages. Was she at my article yet? Was I actually going to have it critiqued in front of me, with her totally unaware that the author was sitting right opposite her?

Suddenly she looked up and saw me staring. I then realized that to her eyes a slightly desperate looking beardy bloke was staring in growing excitement at her. I have never actually seen my presence cause a woman to suddenly look terrified. It wasn’t very nice. I wanted to quickly flick through the pages and point out my article, shouting “I WROTE THAT! THAT WAS ME! THAT'S ALL I’M LOOKING AT! PLEASE DON’T FEAR ME!”

But I didn’t. I just got up at my stop, glancing down to see that she was about three pages away from my piece. Perhaps it was for the best? She might not have even smiled once, and that would have killed me.

So very nice lady with the glasses, if by reading my article you have ended up here, then you may remember the strange bloke sitting in front of you staring in your direction like he had just seen a baby elephant hatch out of your head. That was me. I’m so sorry if I freaked you out. I wasn’t trying to sex you up or anything. I was just happy to see what you were reading.

If anyone is reading this and did vote for my article, can I just say a massive thank you from the bottom of my heart. It has really meant something to achieve this. I think only anybody who writes can fully understand what it means.

It’s brilliant. So thank you.

If anyone wants to have a look at the article, you can find it here. I am on page 14.

My article.