Thursday, 28 November 2013

The reason for the lack of title will become apparent....

As a young man I always wanted to work with children. Ideally, I wanted to be a primary school teacher. After leaving school, and before being accepted on the YTS I mentioned in a previous blog entry,  I did a couple of weeks of work experience at an inner city Salford school. I loved every minute of it.

At that time I was still living with parents in a quaint old coaching inn (sic) in Weaste. I would work the occasional hour or two behind the bar of my fathers pub. My wages were the roof over my head and as many halves of lager as I wanted. Funnily enough I think this liberal attitude to alcohol was very beneficial. I do enjoy a drink, and I sometimes enjoy one hell of a session, but I've never felt like I have to drink. There are great swathes of my life in which not a drop of alcohol has passed my lips. If forced to put a figure on it I would say that in the last twelve months I have imbibed the equivalent of maybe ten or fifteen pints of beer. Next year may be different, maybe I'll drink more and maybe I'll drink less, but I digress.

During my sessions behind the bar I was lucky enough to talk to people from all walks of life. Doctors, bankers, navvies, policemen, thieves and gangsters. A wondrous variety of sinners and saints. Everyone knew my name and most had watched me grow up.

One evening, after hours, a number of my father's customers had stayed behind for a drink. It was a regular occurence, curtains drawn and main lights turned off while my parents and both my Grandmothers (Both my Grandfathers had died very young.) flaunted the law and held court. There would be singing, joking, swearing and smiles. These evening form some of the happiest memories of my entire life. I quite possibly learnt more from the collection of miscreants I was surrounded by than I ever learnt at school.

One of those nights my father mentioned my work experience at the primary school. The conversation that followed put me off following my chosen path. I was weird, maybe a "poof" or a pervert and it wasn't a man's job. What kind of man wanted to play with children all day? I'm ashamed to say that, still being very impressionable, I trusted these men's opinions and craved their approval. I dropped my ambition to work with children for no reason other than to fit in and not be labelled a "poof" or "nonce".

I still loved, and still love, children. Children are the very best thing this life has to offer. The sound of children playing, the marvel in their eyes when you show them a magic trick and the belly laughs that take away their breath when you tell them a silly joke or pull a silly face are, for me, some of the most valuable things in life.

A couple of years ago, now older and confident enough to defend myself against accusations of poofery or noncenicity, I took a part time job to supplement my income driving a mini-bus for a nursery and after-school club. I would take the kids to school and be there to bring them back to the club, exhausted and giddy, at the end of their academic day. I had a fridge covered in paintings and drawings done by the children. I would do monkey impressions to make them laugh, make paper aeroplanes for them to decorate and fly, tell silly jokes and lead sing-alongs or games of eye-spy to entertain them whilst the were in my care. Every morning began with children's laughter and every afternoon finished the same way. It's hard not to smile when your life involves so many happy children.

I didn't care a jot if the occasional scruffy, hood wearing sub-human accused me of being a "perv". I'm 6'3" tall, heavily tattooed with a deep voice and a Salford accent, a clean criminal record and a long and varied love life which was restricted to females well above the age of consent. If people intimated there was "something of the Jimmy Saville" about me I would look them in the eye and tell them I hoped they weren't inferring what I thought they were inferring before pointing out that their minds seemed to be drawn toward and focus on paedophilia a little too quickly for my liking.

Unfortunately these days people that like children aren't allowed to demonstrate they like children. Kids are to be kept at arms length, unless you're a parent. Indeed, even if you're a father you're eyed with suspicion if you're sat in a children's playground, tapping away on your phone whilst you let your own offspring play on the swings. I have several friends who have daughters and they won't take their children to such places unless they're accompanied by the child's mother for fear of being pilloried or accused of some nefarious intention. People assume the worst, where in actual fact they should assume the best. Statistically, if someone is nice to children it's because they are a nice person, not because they're a sick and twisted sexual deviant. If a man is sat in a playground reading a newspaper whilst children play on the climbing frames isn't it better to assume one or more of those children belongs to him? You'd almost certainly be right.

I read a news story yesterday. A man in Bristol, Bijan Ebrahimi, an immigrant from Iran in 2001 who had learning difficulties, had been racially abused and had his property damaged. He asked the police for help. The police told him to take photographs to help them to help him. He did so. Someone in the community phoned the police and accused him of being a paedophile. (Apparently a very stupid paedophile too, since he was making no effort to hide his actions.) The police turned up and took him in for questioning. The police, who had told him to take photographs, who knew why he was taking the photographs, took him in. They never thought to say to the complainant "Don't worry, we've asked him to do that." They took him in. In front of a baying mob of morons chanting "paedo, paedo".

He was  arrested, taken into custody and questioned. Being plainly completely innocent he was soon released. He went home.

The baying mob saw him released and return to his home. Now not only was he a "dirty nonce", he was also a "dirty nonce that had got away with it". His continued liberty wasn't a sign that he had done nothing wrong, it was a sign that he had pulled the wool over the police service's eyes. The police had, in the baying mobs eyes, let down the children of their community. Something had to be done, didn't it?

As a result, he was beaten to death and set alight by two subhuman vigilantes.

There is a massive shortage of male teachers at primary school level. One in five boys go until they are eleven years old without ever having a male teacher. Some of these will never have a male teacher in their secondary schools either. Even more disappointing is the fact that some of those boys don't even have a male role model in their home lives.

How does a boy learn to be a man without a man to teach him?

I'm not advocating you, I or anyone else let random men into our children's lives. I'm not saying paedophilia isn't a concern in modern day Britain. The only thing I'm advocating is a sense of perspective.

Play with your children in public, smile when an old man magically pulls a coin from behind their ear  on a bus and if you want to be a primary school teacher, nursery nurse or children's entertainer then be it. Don't let a gang of ill educated buffoons put you off.

They may be well meaning. They may believe their prejudices are totally justified. They may even be right on occasion. They're probably not though. A con man doesn't look like a con man or he'd not be very good at conning people and we've all read at least one really good book that had a shit cover.

Anyway, to paraphrase the Bard, maybe they doth protest too much?

Just one more thing.... I always come up with the title to my blog entries after having written them. I sit and stare and think, and sometimes I Google something in search of the perfect pun. The irony of this particular entry is that I daren't use Google to do so this time for fear that my search will be flagged up, my IP recorded on some law enforcement agencies database and my laptop seized when the police officers come to arrest me in front of a baying mob of morons.

Thanks a bunch, modern day Britain, well played.


Wednesday, 20 November 2013

The wonder of wondering.

As many of you chaps and chapettes out there are aware I am, for the most part, what is known as a "white van man". I do a fair few jobs, all self employed, scratching around and at the moment living, basically, hand to mouth. Times are hard for all of us. Or at least for the majority of us.

I'm not one to complain, and I'm aware as I sit here tapping away on my laptop which is connected to my router and using my broadband connection, fire crackling away and telly on mute in the corner, that I should be, and indeed am, very grateful for what I have.

One thing that has held me back my whole life is the ridiculous amount of empathy I have been blessed/cursed with. I'm easily moved to something close to tears at times when I hear about or witness the distress someone is suffering. I look at beggars and wonder at what point, and why, their lives took a turn so bad that their current situation is the result. Next time you see a beggar stooping to pick up a cigarette dimp, swearing randomly under his breath and attempting not to spill his can of Special Brew just think about this.... That person was once a few months old, cradled in the arms of someone that loved them. They were bounced on a grandparents knee, they made someone smile when they first uttered the words "I love you", they had school photographs taken. Maybe they were in love once. They started the exact same way you, I and everyone else started. For that one brief moment as they took their first breath of air and began to cry they had the potential to be anything.

Maybe they lost everything because they did something bad. Maybe their families stopped caring about them after being let down repeatedly. Maybe they were rapists, child abusers or corrupt bankers. Maybe.

Most likely, and by that I mean almost certainly, they were none of the above. They were almost certainly, at least so far as their loved ones were concerned, really nice people. Once upon a time.

Towards the end of the last century there was a tramp, famous on the streets of city centre Manchester, known as Prostitute Annie. I was running a demolition team working on the Royal Exchange Theatre after the catastrophic IRA bomb that made Manchester even Greater. Every lunch time we would all sit in St. Anne's square eating our packed lunches or Gregg's pasties, smoking and enjoying the banter. Prostitute Annie would always turn up pushing her Tesco trolley filled with shoes, newspapers and general detritus. She had an aggressive demeanor and would demand cigarettes from anyone with whom she made eye contact. If she had an audience she would begin preaching about how "no one gets to Heaven if they've metal in their bodies". She would loudly advocate tearing out your fillings and giving away all your possessions to save yourself from God's wrath. She stank of piss and biscuits and ate things off the floor. She was vile.

One particular sunny afternoon a team of scaffolders, not regulars on site, were sat on the steps of some statue or other. Among their number was a new starter, a young man of about twenty years of age and with no volume control. He was attempting to fit in, and seemed to think that all builders/scaffolders/demolition workers were sweary, aggressive and shouty so was playing up to that particular stereotype. He spent the first fifteen or so minutes loudly announcing to any one in a Manchester City shirt how shit their choice of football team was. He then moved on to charming passing office girls with such delightfully whimsical chat-up lines as "Do you like jewellery/chicken? Well suck this, it's a gem/it's foul".

Just before the end of the lunch break Prostitute Annie arrived, her squeaky wheeled trolley announcing her aproach like a fanfare for vagrancy. Possibly feeling quite despondent after a fifteen minute session of being ignored by attractive young ladies wearing their office smarts the young man turned his attention to Annie. He quite clearly saw Annie as some sort of sub-human and began to hurl advice at her. His advice was spot on in a way. She would indeed feel and look better if she "used a bit of fucking soap", got "some proper fucking laces for them fucking shoes" or got "a fucking job, you lazy, scruffy, old slag" but I'm pretty sure it wasn't as easy for her to turn her life around as this young man believed.

A building site lunch gathering is generally quite a raucous affair, dozens of men chattering away like fish-wives about their wives, girlfriends, football teams and preferences in supermarket. This particular day, at this particular point, it was silent. The only one making any sound at all was the young gobshite with the inferiority complex.

After each new torrent of abuse he would turn to us, his audience, for validation. Every time he got none, just blank stares. A more switched on individual may have taken this as a signal to quieten down a bit. Not this plank, who, having failed, would refocus his attention on Annie and hurl viler and louder abuse her way.

As I mentioned earlier, Annie's trolley always contained shoes. None were ever a pair, (Not even the ones on her feet matched) and she would pick them up on her travels. (The streets of Manchester are full of lost and discarded shoes which is indicative of the extremely vibrant night life and high rate of sex-crime.) Annie was doing a good job of shouting the law of God at the young man, her face filled with aggression and venom and waving a bible, or at least a small dictionary, at him. She bumped into her trolley whilst delivering her passionate argument and a single shoe toppled from the pile and on to the pavement. Our young colleague immediately whipped off his steel toe-capped rigger boot, shouted "Here you are you fucking scruff, now you've got two shoes" and threw the boot at her. Hard.

The boot missed Annie's head by a couple of inches at most. Everyone watching gasped as it flew at her, expecting the worst. As it was the boot hit the wall behind her and dropped to Earth having done no harm whatsoever. During it's journey, however, Annie's face had changed. I was looking in her eyes as her face was transformed form that of a wicked, hateful and disgusting witch to that of a very frightened, very vulnerable, little, old lady. She was terrified. I had never in my life abused this woman, but to my shame had laughed at jokes told about her. During this particular incident I hadn't laughed, I had been shocked and disgusted at the lad's behaviour. When I saw Annie's transformation to lovely old Grannie I suddenly felt disgusted with myself for sitting idly by as it had escalated this far. I was angry at the gobshite I saw hopping across the square to retrieve his boot, but I was far angrier with myself.

Being much closer to the boot than the young gent, and being unhindered by hopping, Annie reached the boot before him, collected it and put it in her trolley.

"Oi you scruffy cunt, give me my fucking boot!" He laughed as he approached Annie.

At this point I saw my chance to be a hero, to soak up the admiration of my peers by taking a stand against this despicable chap. I saw it in my head, standing, calling out to the lad, admonishing him and maybe even knocking him the fuck out. Then I would strut in through the security gate as the crowd clapped and cheered.

What I actually did could best be described as "absolutely fuck all". I remained sat on the step I regularly sat on with my ashtray made from my empty coca-cola can by my side and feeling even more ashamed of myself.

Annie was scuttling away, her trolley squeak sounding urgent and her face still a mask of fear. The young lad hopping after her was laughing a wicked laugh. The big, old foreman who had been sat beside him stood slowly, straightened his back, strode after the lad and, if you'll pardon my French, twatted him in the back of the head, causing him to fall face first on to the paving stones. He then, clearly and concisely,  informed the young lad that Annie was going to be keeping the boot, and that since you were required to be wearing two boots to gain access to his site the young scamp would be better served just fucking off home and not bothering coming back.

A ripple of applause went around the square, not just from the hairy arsed builders but from shoppers, office girls and street vendors. The man was, as far as everyone present was concerned, a hero. I say everyone, Annie spat at him, but I like to believe that was just because she lacked the social skills to deal with a knight in shining armour.

Since then I've made a point of wondering. Wondering why people are like they are. Why some people are vile, why some are evil, why some are sweet and why some are sour. No one is ever vile because they want to be vile, they're vile because we perceive them as vile. The young gobshite may very well be a lovely lad. He might treat his mam like a Queen, may have played bugle in the Boy's Brigade, may have raised money every year for Comic Relief. He might be a boy you'd be proud to call "son". Possibly, being new to building sites and scared of the new, sweary, scary, tattooed monsters he was working alongside (And only working there because he couldn't get anything better but needs to pay for his Grandmothers operation) he had made a silly error of judgement and tried to appear to be a big, hard man? Maybe. No one present knew what he was really like. He could have been as horrid as he appeared, but whether he was or not all those spectators believed him to be vile based on that day's actions.

Maybe his loss of job that day meant his mother had reached the end of her tether and cast him out, homeless on the streets. Maybe he had no where to stay except with a guy he hardly knew from work. Maybe that man was a violent alcoholic. Maybe that violent alcoholic viciously raped him. Maybe the lad now lives on the streets, pushing a shopping trolley and pretending he's not constantly frightened. Maybe he drinks white cider to numb the pain of his worthless existence. Maybe he died, sat by a train line, drunk and crying as he remembered his seventh birthday, the last one his dad was alive for, when he received the toy robot that his mother still has. The robot she clutches while she cries whenever she thinks of her wayward, absent son.
Maybe Annie was a horrible woman that had ended up on the streets after being released from prison after knocking down and killing a child whist drunk at the wheel. Maybe Annie was a widow and had a son that let her down again and again until she had to throw him out to teach him a lesson. Maybe Annie never forgave herself after he was found dead by a railway track. Maybe, under that pile of shoes in her trolley, is the treasure she protects. A broken child's toy? Maybe a toy robot?

Who knows? You don't, I don't. Someone does though. Every one is important to someone. No one is vile because they want to be vile. To someone out there you yourself are vile, but think about it... how can they think that, you're lovely. Aren't you?

Lower your expectations of people, don't judge too quickly, realise you're not everyone's cup of tea and give people a chance. Then a second chance, just in case. Wonder how, wonder why and wonder at the ability to wonder.


Friday, 15 November 2013

Just do it.

They say you don't lie on your death bed regretting the things you did, but rather you regret the things you didn't do. I remember my Dad telling me this as a small child and I think that one, probably throw away, comment shaped a lot of my attitude whilst growing up. Have you ever thought "I'd like to try that", "go there" or "have one of those"? If you have, I sincerely hope you tried it, went there or obtained it.

I have had many mid-life crisis' over the last decade or so. I'm still to find out why they're referred to as "crisis'", since so far mine have included buying a BMW, having sex with a woman not much older than my children, buying numerous motorcycles, shaving my head, growing my hair long, covering the majority of my available flesh in tattoos and sporting a variety of beards. Not exactly crisis', but I digress.

Seven or so years ago I found myself single, with a decent amount of money in the bank and doing a job that, although well paid, was so mind numbingly boring I could take no more. My job involved a lot of driving around, and one night, having just finished work and on my way home, I saw an aged minibus parked on a drive with a big "For Sale" sign in the windscreen. The bus had been a school minibus in it's younger days, and more recently had been owned by a chap that used it as a sort of extended MPV for his large family.

It wasn't the prettiest vehicle on the road, but it had a tax disc, a long M.O.T. and six good tyres. Seven if you counted the spare. Almost on a whim I bought the bus for £700.00, stripped it bare and began converting it in to a luxury camper van. I spent a few hundred pounds on plastic coated chipboard, solar panels, ply-wood, caravan fixtures, leatherette and vinyl floor tiles then set about creating something that Austin Powers would've been proud of. A separate and very plush bedroom, accessed through a circular door, contained a large, memory foam mattressed bed. Union flags covered the foam seats, mood lighting and 1960s style fittings created the right atmosphere. After a couple of months hard work I was the proud owner of a dream.

I handed in my notice at work, finished on a Thursday afternoon, went home, packed and, so far as anyone was concerned, disappeared off the face of the Earth.

I drove for seven hours, north and across the border in to Scotland. I turned left just past Glasgow, carrying on up through the Trossacks before turning south and chugging my way down the west side of Loch Long, winding up shortly before midnight on the beach of the Loch in a village called Ardentinny. It was early February, about 11.50pm and, quite frankly, fucking cold.

I pulled off the road and onto the beach, killed the engine along with the twelve orange and twenty green lamps festooned across the bumper, bonnet and roof, flicked the switch to turn off the four spotlights that made my ride look like it should've been hunting kangaroos in the outback and was surprised to find I could still see perfectly clearly, even several miles from the nearest street light.

I hadn't stopped on my journey and by this point had a very pleasant urgency in my bladder. I swung the door open and hauled myself out. Being as stiff as a board and having lost the use of my legs and buttocks I almost tumbled out. Then, stretching, groaning and creaking like a man made of wood, I began fumbling for my flies as my breath froze in the air before me.

Cock in hand I stood, peeing on the beach and feeling very liberated. I tilted my head up slowly, groaning as the stiffness in my neck yielded, and froze.

I'm a city boy, born in the city, raised in the city and a lover of city living. That being the case I had never in my life before seen what I saw at this point. Above me the sky was filled with stars and planets, the light of the moon bright enough to read by and shooting stars criss crossing the whole, celestial, light show. Until then I'd never seen such a thing, aside from in Sci-Fi films, even when abroad. I stood there, hardly breathing, for what felt like no time at all but was, when I eventually looked down at my hand, long enough for the cold to have sent my penis inverted. (A condition from which I've never fully recovered.)

Back inside my beautiful new home I set about preparing for my first night "living the dream". I lit the little gas heater, closed the curtains and blinds and flicked over to the solar charged batteries for the interior lighting. I boiled kettles to fill four hot water bottles and two large vacuum flasks. I wrapped one hot water bottle in a pair of jogging pants and a shirt, then wrapped that package along with another bottle in my sleeping bag. The last two bottles went underneath this little bundle of warmth and on top of the mattress. A mug of Ovaltine, a bowl of ready-brek and a little read of a book later I, very quickly, got changed in to the lovely, warm bed clothes, dived into the sleeping bag, pulled the duvet over the top of me and, having set my alarm for 4am, went to sleep.

Having woken at 4am to shuffle around the van in my sleeping bag like some gigantic, blue, nylon caterpillar while I swapped the now stone cold water in the hot water bottles for fresh, hot water from the flasks, I slept a further three hours, as snug as a bug in a rug.

When I woke the first thing I did was reach over the psychedelic foam pad that separated me from the doors and yanked on the handle, allowing the doors to fall open slowly and reveal the most magical view. The forest of Argyll rising majestically to the left, the mountains I'd driven along the previous night to the right and directly in front of me the Loch, with little fishing boats cutting through the fine, crisp, white mist that seemed to flow with the current. The sky above crystal clear and multi-coloured as the sun was beginning it's lazy journey. For the second time in seven hours I literally had my breath taken away. Even the bitter cold couldn't spoil the experience.

I'd taken with me enough food to keep me going for at least a month. Not the nicest foods, all either dried, in cans or vacuum packed with enough salt to keep a path free of ice, and my plan had been to drive until I found somewhere I liked and stay a while, but that had only taken seven hours.

I spent days wandering through the forest, and had my breath stolen several times. I built camp fires and spent nights under the clear, winter sky smoking herbs, drinking brandy and staring in to the flames. I was in love with a place and a time, it was incredible.

I found work on one of my forestry explorations and was paid between thirty and forty pounds a day to chop up wood with a chainsaw. I spent nothing as there was nothing to spend anything on and let the money pile up. I spent days without seeing another soul and only hearing the voices of the actors on the radio plays I listened to on my clockwork radio. Had I died at any point in the couple of months I spent there I would have died a happy man. If I'm ever told how long I have left to live I will head straight there, this time with my dogs, lie on the beach and drift away.

I eventually continued on my adventures and spent almost a year living in my camper van. I visited every corner of the Union, worked a dozen shit jobs and met the best friend I could ever have. I had guns pointed at me, was involved in a car chase, did jobs I'd never have dreamed of doing and partied like it was 1999. I spent a week parked in a patch of woodland in Blackpool being spoon fed baby food by a Polish girl whilst suffering with tonsillitis (My throat was so swollen and raw she would trickle it off a spoon and through any available gaps in the mucus whilst I lay on my back with my mouth open, unable to swallow), partied at a mansion in Surrey without a penny in my pocket and helped build a Primark store. At every moment, during every day, I smiled or laughed. The obvious exception being the automatic rifle pointed at my face, although I pissed myself soon after.

It was a wasted year, basically living rough (but in style) and bumming around the country. It cost me very little, and gave me so much. The people I met, conversations I had, injuries I sustained and things I learnt are worth more to me than almost anything. Time you enjoy wasting is never wasted.

It was nothing more than a whim, and had I told people what I was planning I'd probably have allowed myself to be talked out of it. It does sound a very daft idea. But I did it.

A Chinese lad I worked with at one point said he loved to travel because "the moon is always bigger in a foreign land". Similar, I suppose, to the grass always being greener, except he went on "And if you don't like the big moon you can always go home."

Don't disregard a whim. Whimsy is good. Enjoy the little things, and just do it.

You can always go home.


Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Pearly whites at the pearly gates.

Have you ever wondered when you'll die? What the circumstances of your demise will be? And what on Earth is the discoverer of your cadaver going to think when he or she stumbles across your undeniably gorgeous remains?

It's not something I spend a great deal of time considering, though I am prone to taking ridiculous chances with my safety and, on some occasions, with everything around me in slow motion, I've had time to imagine the scene I'm about to leave behind. I'd like to take this opportunity to tell you about one such near miss.

A year or so after returning from my backpacking adventure I found myself staying at my Grandmothers house whilst she was away with my parents, alone save for a kitten, Ed. Many of you will know I have a hatred of cats, though this hasn't always been the case. This entry might give you a clue as to why.

Ed was, undoubtedly, a beautiful creature. Completely black, brilliant blue eyes and a big, bushy tail. Ed was a character, and would leap into my arms whenever he wanted some attention. Sometimes I'd not be ready to catch him, and he would extend his vicious little claws and hook himself on to whatever shirt I'd chosen to wear.

It was a couple of days after Christmas in the early 1990's. I was working as a waiter in a nightclub at that point and had a night off. I'd decided that, after a very busy few days, I was going to spend a whole twenty-four hours in my own company. No friends, no phone calls (in those days before mobile phones this was easy, unplug the house phone and draw the curtains) and absolutely nothing to do.

I slept in until mid-morning, having only finished work at 4am, and woke with that feeling of calm and peace you only get when you know you haven't a care in the world. I decided that the day would be a naked day. No need to dress if no one's going to see you.

After a light breakfast I took a long, hot shower, had a shave and began brushing my teeth. Ed had followed me to the bathroom and was sat cleaning himself on the wicker laundry basket which was directly behind me as I stood polishing my Newtons (Mancunian rhyming slang, "Newton Heath", "teeth"). 

Once finished with my enamel scrubbing I leaned forward to spit the minty foam into the sink. It was at this point that Ed decided he was clean enough and quite fancied a bit of attention. As I bent almost double (I'm six foot three tall) he launched himself, intending to land on my shoulder. My shoulder suddenly not being there he plummeted instead, but his claws managed to find purchase in the cheeks of my arse.

As I'm sure you can imagine, this came as quite a shock to me and I inhaled sharply, drawing in the mouthful of foam I had yet to get rid of. The foam filled my throat, blocking my airways completely. I stood bolt upright, eyes bulging and mouth wide, still trying to inhale and making the blockage worse. Ed continued to scramble, trying to climb higher, but his back legs slipped down and in between my own legs, finding secondary purchase in my scrotum.

Still scrambling he clung on for grim life. I staggered backwards and through the bathroom door, knocking over the laundry basket as I fell. The laundry basket spilled its contents all around me. I've no idea why, but I grabbed a hand full of the dirty washing in my left hand and crawled towards the staircase.

At this point everything began to happen in slow motion. It was hopeless, and I was sure I was going to die right there on the stairs.

I looked around me, feeling quite euphoric as my brain became starved of oxygen, and surveyed the scene. I was naked, lay on the landing, my back scratched to ribbons, my testicle in tatters and several pairs of my Grandmothers knickers clenched tightly I'm my fist. There was also white foam spattered all over my chin and chest, giving me the appearance of a Bukkake participant.

My Gran was due home two days later, and would have been the one to find me if i didn't survive. Would she remove the knickers from my grasp before phoning the ambulance? Would she go to her own grave thinking her Grandson a pervert? Would the coroner be able to tell my Grandmother that I'd been the unfortunate victim of a vicious cat attack whilst innocently completing my daily ablutions? Or would I be in the papers, a poor man's Michael Hutchence? The only thing I could think of that would have made this scene any more embarrassing would be if I was wearing a Manchester United shirt.

The explosion of foam and phlegm that accompanied the cough which saved my life shot straight up in the air. I rolled over, spluttering, my throat on fire, and saw, sat two feet from my face, that evil black cat fastidiously cleaning the blood from it's wicked paws.


Friday, 1 November 2013

Vive la difference.

Imagine a child born on a desert island and raised by mute parents with no, or little, life experience. Now imagine that child finds an iPhone (other smart phones are available.) which is still logged in to Twitter, washed up on the beach one day. Unable to learn much about life in the "civilised" (Sic) world, he turns to twitter to learn how to behave in polite, and not so polite, society. And yes, I'm aware there are ridiculous holes in this particular scenario, but let us not get pedantic. If you need the holes filling then let's just say that some super intelligent monkeys taught him spoken and written English. And the iPhone was already logged in with no passcode set. Happy now? Good.

As I was saying before interrupting myself and heading off on a stupid tangent, this boy, lets call him "Geoff", sets to learning how to behave for the day he is rescued from his golden beached, lusciously forested, safe and beautiful home and brought back to civilisation. He dreams of meeting the woman of his dreams and living happily ever after in wedded bliss, of visiting swish functions where he's introduced to dignitaries and celebraties. There is, fortunately, a plethora of useful, and some not so useful, advice on Twitter for just such a situation. So what would he learn? What kind of well-balanced individual will this lead to? Let's take a look at some of the advice currently available.

"REAL men go for a girl with curves, only dogs want a bone."

What an enormous, steaming, puerile, nonsensical pile of shit. Real men? Technically, real men have a penis. That's pretty much all you need to qualify. Men like curves, men like skinny girls, men like fat girls. Some men like blondes. Some brunettes. I see the point, make the "curvy" (Make of that description what you will.) girls feel better, I'm all for that. Everyone should feel valued and attractive. Everyone is valuable, are attractive and don't need you or I to tell them how they should look. But that's exactly what these poor, mislead individuals are doing. How long before skinny girls start binge eating and not making themselves sick on purpose because that's the only way they'll ever get a real man?

Also, the analogy itself is shit. If you have a steak in one hand and a bone in the other I can guarantee you my German Shepherd would be staring at your steak-filled mitt. Dogs love bones AND meat, just like Geoff.

"The best kind of relationship is..."

A quick Twitter search throws up these beauties...

"The best kind of relationship is the one that starts off as good friends." I've tried that, it doesn't work and you lose a friend. (Fuckbuddies are a winner though.) 

"The best thing about being in a relationship is that you don't need friends." If your lovely, new partner tells you this then my advice is leg it. Run. Run like fuck. Isolating you from your friends and loved ones is abuse. Proper, actual abuse. 

"A relationship with God is the best kind of relationship any person can have." Don't get me fucking started.

"I don't care how tough you are...."

Usually followed by something along the lines of "when a little girl smiles at you, your heart BETTER melt and you'd BETTER smile back!" Or what, dickhead? What the fuck are you going to do about it? Sat in your bedroom, listening to Justin Direction, Arcticplay or ColdMonkeys and flicking between Twitter, Sextube and FaceBook. Little prick. Fuck you.

Back to Geoff. What has he learnt so far?

Whatever his real preference he will have to date a chubby girl because otherwise people will think he's not a real man, but he has to be friends with her first. He mustn't have other friends, and ideally he needs to fuck a deity. Also, whenever he sees a happy little girl he should make friends with her.

Fast forward a year or two. Having been rescued from his tropical hell by a passing canoeist Geoff is in a committed relationship with, I dunno, let's say Mary. Mary is Rubenesque, she has no friends, as does he, and before courting they became friends at the local Church.

He's also signing the sex offenders register, is banned from the park and is addicted to Twitter.

Love who you love, hopefully they'll love you back. If not, log in to Twitter, someone will tell you where you're going wrong.