Funny Business


Social Experiment #1: Brainwash Esther

Is it social if it’s just one person? Anyway, something my dad says has always stuck with me. Whenever he turns a light on or opens the curtains at home, he says

“Let’s get some light on the subject,”

as if he’s a coroner bending over a cadaver or the Queen blinding one of her citizens with interrogative torchlight.

Hypothesis: If I say this phrase over and over again, Esther will start saying it.

Method: For about a year, everytime I open our attic Velux blinds, I say with a flourish, “let’s get some light on the subject.” Since we have two blinds, I usually wake her up by pinging back the first one, and then as she’s reeling from the shock, I intone the motto to drive home the message.

Finally, one glorious day came about two months ago when not only did she do the blind opening ceremony herself, but she uttered the immortal words unprompted. Then I grinned too long, and she realised she had been tricked into it and stomped off downstairs to get breakfast (another small victory).

Now I have her so well trained that I only have to start it off, and she’ll complete the sentence, before cursing loudly.

“let’s get some light on the world”

Social Experiment #2: Me v Compere 

My ex-art school buddy Dave Green is now a stand-up comedian. We are the class of 07: a few of us have gone on to have glittering art careers, while most have ended up serving coffee or beer to people with glittering art careers.

Dave has done his time as one of the latter group, passing posh beverages to the likes of Stewart Lee & Tjinder Singh from Cornershop (I’m pretty starstruck at that one). Dave has a special talent for channelling social awkwardness into excruciating art or video that makes you cringe and laugh at the same time. He always was a funny guy and for the past 18 months he’s been trying to make a career out of it.

I went to see Dave on Thursday for my first ever comedy gig. By the time I got there, the compere had already singled out our group as feckless bourgeois types, nicknaming us the Art Movement and accusing friend Dane of being stoned. So, I was ripe for ribbing when I arrived a little late with my neoliberal arabian scarf & ironic bovver boy boots.

Compere “Are you an artist too?”

Me “Yes” (thinking, ‘I’m a writer but I’ll just go with it’), before adding “A piss artist.”

Compere “I make the fucking jokes, alright? What do you think of the Turner Prize?”

Now he’s got me. I have no idea who’s in it this year.

Me “I haven’t been nominated, so I don’t care”.

Compere “You’re a right lot of Yoko Onos aren’t you?”.

Crowd guffaws.

Compere “What kind of art do you do? Do you paint?”

I feel a compulsion to correct my earlier statement about being an artist not a writer, so I say-

Me “I lie-“.

But instead of the crucial next bit “-d about being an artist,” I leave it at that.

Confused but hearty laughter, as if a roomful of assumptions were being confirmed.

Compere “Bloody hell, you’re not making this easy are you? Let me introduce the next act…”

Had I won? Or had I merely accepted the part he offered me? Who knows. Whatever the case, it was awkward.

“Or do I?”

When Dave finally came on, he did us arty farties proud, combining pyschoanalysis and religion and sex jokes with a surreal deadpan.

“I’ve got tinnitus. The ringing in my ears isn’t so bad but the voices in my head keep harmonising with it”

Afterwards, over a pint in the Broadfield, Dave tells me about his phobia of sitting facing people on trains. On the way up from London he’d chosen a table seat and then been too scared to move when it filled up around him. His main problem is what to do once you’ve accidentally caught someone’s eye: how can you go back to not looking at them again…

He’s made a film about it:

The following day he left for his train home and I got this text:

“I’m sitting opposite someone”

Leaving Esther to fester…


"Countryfile's gonna cut you up!"

I did a Dolly Parton today (worked 9-5).

There’s something quite weird about our staff toilets: the urinals are ranged in size from midget to giant. I chose the giant size and saw a man- mountain hunched over the child/vertically challenged end one. Trying not to snigger at this inadvertant visual gag, I fled.

On the way home, I got a copy of NME, attracted by the yellow cover and 90s reminiscence (Primal Scream).

I was reading a damning ctitique of the new Brighton Rock remake:

“The overall feel is that of a Sunday night TV drama”

Rock and Chips anyone? The only TV that ever redeemed Sundays was the heady combo of Ski Sunday-Bergerac-Doctor Who (Sylvester McCoy era). I would have my weekly shower (I put the BO in BOY) and come down in time for the ski theme tune, then I would spend the next 2 hours slack jawed and vacant, the thought of school the next day just a cushioned Mallet’s Mallet kind of ache hammering in the background.

"Welcome to a world of academic pain"

What a BBC Radiophonic megamix!!!!

Anyway, back to my journey home…when I looked up I realised the bus had gone way past my stop. I let it take me up to the summit of Banner Cross and trekked over the hill. Psalter Lane looked like a gutted carcass, left as a warning to creative types “Abandon Art All Ye Who Enter Here”

I texted Esther to ask for a cuppa (I’m 2% male chauvinist), but of course that would mean leaving her bed, so instead she wrote about not doing it on Facebook.

“no i’m too lazy to make you a cup of tea, you’ll have to make one yourself, even though you’ve been at work all day. can i have one too”

Even capitals are too much effort. That’s my gal.

When I bring our cups of tea up to the bedroom, Esther is cutting her nails.

“There’s not just cheese in here, it’s nutty too” she says as I enter.

I turn away in revulsion, and flip open the laptop.

“stop writing it in your fucking blog” she yells as I start to tap away.

When she realises that I am going to write down everything she says, she clams up. Finally.

"If I stay here long enough, she'll make the tea..."

Boring and Ugly: Slaves, Sweatshops and Stupid Comments


Still working on the bloody essay. Mid-thought, Esther texts me. “Ring me x” she says. What terrible thing has happened that means she can’t ring me? Is she face to face with a rapist?
I ring her. “Hello, I’m walking home with the wheelabout shopper and it’s really heavy, can you pull it up the hill for me?” she says, like butter wouldn’t melt.
Jesus wept. So, she texted me to ring her to get me to be her slave. That’s some convoluted colonial shit. The worse thing is, I did it, no questions asked…

"Thanks for the jeans, they must be really cool because people always call me 'cheeky' when I wear them"

Today I have been mostly wearing Primark skinny jeans, H&M socks and hoody, dad’s cast-off Irvine Welsh ‘FILTH’ t shirt, and T.J. Hughes undies. Only the best for me. Oh, and a clenched jaw thanks to Lady Gaga. That blind, one-armed child in the Primark sweatshop never knew I’d be wearing his creation. I should send him a Thankyou card with a picture of me wearing them. If he could see the fruits of his labour, he wouldn’t feel the pain so much.

It’s finally too warm to wear my leopard-print hat which has been my winter staple. I realised that I feel completely naked without it, and I will have to wean myself off it using smaller and smaller hats. In a month, I should be down to the level of a Jewish skull cap.

"Don't you wish your boyfriend was hot like me?"

Found a great Cary Grant quote before about being famous: “Everyone wants to be Cary Grant. Even I want to be Cary Grant.”

Imagine being a supermodel or famous actor, and yet you know that you never match up to the suave, articulate ideals you play on screen. How gutting would it be to be jealous of your own persona- “that bastard, he’s too flash for my liking”. That would never happen with me- I’m just not my type. I’d diss the me on screen so bad, he’d never want to leave the house again. Ha, that’d teach him. Me.

I love YouTube comments:

“she is a bitch FREEMASON hey rihanna i gota message for u u can hav the world to ur self but u are going to HELL!!!!!!!!!!! BRA BRA BRA” Not so much a threat, more a “So there” wimp out. And what’s with the lingerie?

and

“FUKIN FAT BITCH IM JAKIN OFF”. Someone needs the concept of flattery explained. And oversharing.

and

“her ass,pussy and tits are all i want! and i’m 13!” Hmm, what a man you’ll grow up to be…Or maybe he’s asking for her donkey, kitten and small garden bird??

Delete as appropriate: Boring and/or Ugly 11


Dec 22nd

Another nookie-less night. In the morning, Esther says, “I was horny last night from watching The Walking Dead. But then you showed me your bum boil.”
I ignored the necrophiliac overtones, and just thought ‘Goddammit’. It’s really sore you see, and I wanted a second opinion ‘Does it look normal? Is it cancer?’ The window for sex was slammed shut in my face. Can we play doctors and nurses?

We trudge down to Lisa’s. She is flustered. Just before we arrived, Dom was in the bath and Lisa had just picked her spots in the formation of

(1) a unibrow,

(2) a beard, and

(3) a moustache.

Quite fetching, don't you think?

Then Dom’s manager, Barry, knocked on the door. Lisa had to answer with her bright pink facial hair, let him in and make a cuppa. Then she scurried back upstairs.

Xmas shopping for the insane: Lisa and Esther’s grandma wants them to buy her some ‘Round-to-its’. Apparently they are plates that you buy when someone says ‘I just haven’t got around to it’. So far, the search has come up blank. Whoever gets this prezzie is going to be thrilled.

Esther cut my hair last night. Now I look like a gay US marine. Every time I take my hat off, it’s to the internal soundtrack of ‘he’s in the army now’, serenaded by Muscle Marys descending from helicopters into the arms of winking Naval officers with pert salutes.

Devo has started to demand Lisa to vacate his favourite chair next to the radiator. He goes up to her, and walks in a circle and sits down. First of all, she got up to let him out. No, he was still there. He had climbed on her chair and made himself comfy. She pushed him off and he did his dance again. She stood up to get him some food and he hopped up again, curling into a tight ball. “He wants my bloody chair!” she realized. It’s the best, warmest seat in the house, and if you get up from it, it’s gone.

We popped into NatWest today to ask why I’m not a millionaire yet. Esther had a rare glimpse of belongingness in the bank while she waited for me with Goldie. A downs syndrome woman came over and grinned ‘it’s a doggy’ ‘She’s a bit shy’ replied Esther. ‘She’s a bit shy’ echoed the woman, and giggled. If only all conversations were this easy, then I’d be able to socialize properly.

Dec 24th


It just said on the news that to combat snow, trains will be fitted with skirts, which they can blow warm air underneath. This sounds like some middle-aged CEO’s dirty dream to me. How kitsch. It’s the last remnant of a faded masculinity that was happy with a flash of knickers. Today’s bloke demands hi-def tits n ass as the *bare* minimum.

Risque circa 1962

The girls go to collect the turkey for Roney’s butchers. It’s massive. It won’t fit in the freezer, so they try to put it out in the garden in a big plastic box. You don’t need a freezer in this weather. “But what if someone nicks it?” says Esther. “Let’s put it in the shed!” Weasel and Kung Fu (their names in babyspeak) are Esther and Lisa’s parents. They stride purposefully into the garden, parent mode turned up to 11.
“No!” shouts Lisa, “There’s dogshit everywhere out there, watch your step!”
The main problem with dogs you see is that every morning without fail, they need to be let out into the garden to empty their bowels. 365 days a year. That’s a lot of shit, and the longer you leave it to pick up, the more daunting it becomes. Surely something will eat it all? Nope. It sits there forever. Nature is wank.
“Well I can tell Devo is getting all the right minerals,” says Weasel, studying the rancid piles.
Esther’s family are natural physical comedians. I would pay to watch them. The simplest things take on Kafkaesque complexity.

“The door’s frozen shut” says Esther, “Let’s prize it open.” She puts her boot on the wall and pulls. Only after a second pair of hands join in does it finally jar open.

“Right, now we need some bricks to put on the box” shouts Esther.
“Ok”, then the frustrated sound of straining muscles happens. “Gnnnnng!” Weasel groans, her teeth clenched in effort.

The best example of anyone ever making this noise is Arnie in Total Recall when he get’s sucked out onto the surface of Mars and his eyes pop out…

The teeth-clenched straining echoes down the terrace. “The bricks are frozen to the ground” she shouts and laughs in an out-of-control way. They are starting to get hysterical.

“Is there anything I can do for you?” says Weasel, once the turkey has been defeated. “Yes. Commit me” answers Lisa.
Her mum heads upstairs to go to the toilet “Don’t let Devo up your bottom” yells Lisa after her.

Boring and Ugly 10


Dec 17th

Esther spies the letter to Marina over my shoulder. “That’s shit” she scowls. She’s just jealous. At least my letter isn’t to Bob Mortimer like hers would be. She used to think she’d bump into him on the street when she lived in London, and they would fall instantly in love.

"Ooh look, there's a big issue in there"

We get to Lisa’a and find a Big Issue on the table. “You two can’t afford to buy the Big Issue can you?” I say incredulously. However, the latest issue of Look or ID often finds its way here. Priorities you see.
“It’s not ours, we don’t know where it came from”. Says Lisa with confusion. “It’s like god thinks we need it or something”.

Esther and Lisa were shopping in Rotherham Tesco for their grandma.

Esther has to go to the loo, and as she sits down in the cubicle, she hears two women talking rapidly in Urdu (or something).
Suddenly an angry Rotherham woman’s voice came from the other cubicle “Speak English for God’s sake!”

The women outside fall silent.
“I’m just talking to my sister, I can speak in any language I want, thank you!” The braver sister replies.
“Come on, let’s go…” says her sister diplomatically.
“No. I want to see who said that” she snaps, settling down for a wait.
Esther started to panic. They’re gonna think it was me! Shit, I’m going to get it when I step out, shit shit!. Her cheeks got redder and redder as she braces herself to face their wrath. She opens the door, and peeked out.
“It wasn’t me…” she quivers at the two equally red (with anger) faces.
“I know love, just go” says the angry sister.
Outside, Lisa was waiting. “Let’s just get the hell out of here” Esther said and they scurry away.

"Can I come out yet?"

Dec 20th

“Isn’t it nice to be sat in from the cold, with a cup of tea and a biscuit” says Lisa wistfully.

“So, life’s alright then?” queries Esther.

“No, I wouldn’t got that far”.

“Life’s shitty shit” shouts Dom.

“At least no-one’s watching” says Lisa. “We can relax. For now at least.”

Apparently, last night Dom returned home from a gig at 5am. “I’ve got a present for you” he slurs at Lisa. “What?” she says excited. Lisa loves gifts.
“A prostitute’s lipstick” he says, brandishing a tarty pink tube. “I picked it up just before I got in the cab”.
“Isn’t that what every girl wants?” he adds “to look like a prozzy?”
Lisa acts disgusted, but the next day she comes downstairs: “Do you like my lips” she asks coyly “I’ve put that lipstick on”. I swallow some bile.
“Can you catch AIDS from lipstick?” she asks, realizing what might have come free with the present. Let’s see; Herpes, gonorrhea, syphilis, crabs…a whole menagerie of alien bodies.

Coming Soon: Boring and Ugly- The Xmas Special

BORING ET UGLY IX


Dec 15th


I work as a Mentor for University students. Some of my students have Aspergers or Autism. Sometimes during a session I have to go to the toilet because I feel like I am going to laugh, scream or fart. It has that effect on me.
One of my students said a couple of gems today:
“Amy Winehouse complained about the Rocky Horror Picture show and got it banned”. It took me a while to work out that she was talking about Mary Whitehouse, who is about as far away from Winehouse as poss.

Mary Whitehouse

A short while later, she started talking about how gay people a treated by religious faiths. “It says in the Kerrang that gay people should be stoned to death”. I had to bite my lip. I know Kerrang is quite hetero but…She meant of course The Koran. I fled to the toilet to cackle into a toilet roll.

This reminds me of the old lady who misheard the news and thought that Pavarotti was responsible for killing Princess Di. She was outraged when he arrived at her funeral, flanked by beautiful women and openly flaunting his freedom. “It’s disgusting!” she shouted at the TV as he flounced into Westminster Abbey. “He shouldn’t be allowed”. It was only after it was explained that it was not one fat opera singer, but a multitude of photographers (Paparazzi) that had killed her did she calm down.

My mother rang. “Do you like the blog?” I ask. She has subscribed to it, and gets updates whenver I post something new.
“It breaks my heart” she says. “Everytime I read it, it breaks my heart”.
“And dad, does he like it too?” I ask.
“It breaks his heart too” she says.

Esther and Lisa’s mum keeps saying she wants to go back in time and try again because she failed with her daughters. Oh, the curse of being a Disappointing Daughter. “They fuck you up, then you break their heart” says Esther.

I had a dream last night that I found a sausage in my pocket. I was confused and a little disgusted. I woke up to find my hand down my pants.

Artist's impression of the Australian disaster

Dec 16th: What’s so great about the First World anyway?

A boatload of Iraqi and Iranian people have drowned off the coast of Australia. “I can’t believe that in this day and age, people can drown in shipwrecks while people watch”, says Esther. I can’t believe that people still watch Bruce Forsyth.

 

It seems that everyone is on the move, trying to find a solution for how shit they feel.

  1. The students have been rioting about the cost of education.
  2. The nationalists have been flocking to their party conference.
  3. The Tories are going to pull the rug out from everyone on benefits.
  4. It costs 70p for a Snickers from the vending machine at work.

It’s all going to pot.

“What would it be like if we averaged out the wealth and life quality of everyone in the country? What would we be living like?” muses Esther.

“Horrible” says Lisa, “Most people live like shit”.

“And there will be posh people saying ‘Thank god I don’t live in a one-bedroom house in Hunters Bar’”

There’s always someone worse off than you. The wheel of fortune swings round; for there to be shiny happy people at the top, there must be cursed suckers at the bottom. Usually immigrants and Jack Fulton shoppers. As Josie used to say on Big Brother 10 “Whenever I feel down, I just think about that woman who had her faced ripped off by a chimpanzee, and I feel better”. I wonder who the faceless woman thinks of?

"What part of a tree do naturists come from?" "The nudibranch"

I woke up with the word ‘Nudibranch’ in my head. Probably because it sounds rude. I’m going to slip it into conversation with Esther today.

confused.com

Lisa bought ID magazine yesterday. She saves up every so often for this tome of alt.culture.  “There’s a boy in there who looks like a really beautiful woman. He’s very confusing” says Esther. Wow, he does. He can go on my ‘would do’ list. Bastard.

As I flick through the mag, Esther asks “Has it made you feel shit enough yet?”

“Not yet” I lie, and continue to the end.

Popular culture is designed to make you feel shit about yourself, and to think that the only way to feel better is to copy what the beautiful people are wearing in the futile hope that you too will be transformed. So you buy make-up to smile like Eva Longoria, and shampoo to swish your hair like Penelope Cruz, and perfume to smell like Beyonce, and crack to feel like Lindsey Lohan. Or is that just me?

May as well be called 'krack'

“They’ve found a new type of slug now called the Ghost Slug, and it’s tiny and it’s white, and it sucks earthworms dry” says Esther with relish. I shall exoect to se a documentary on Channle 5 next year.

I’d like to discover a new species. But I guess it’s just another attempt to become immortal.

Imaginary scene in the future: “What’s that weird bug over there?” “Oh that’s a Fame Beetle (Viennae Celebratus). Weird little fucker isn’t it”.

The start of a new horror franchise...

 

Dec 5th: Clumsy Seduction #2.


"I kneed you to need me"

Esther admitted last night that she felt like going off with someone else again. She was on a nympho tip. It sent me a bit crazy in an inelegant way.

Life imitates blogland. After a bottle of wine and some shots, it occurred to me that I wanted to kiss one of our friends because she liked my blog.

While Esther and Lisa piled into Spar, we wait in the taxi. She is talking to me but I’m not listening, so I cut her off. “I find you attractive” I intone in a strangely serious voice. Rita blinks. “I…find you attractive…too?” she says, following the Psycho Code of going along with whatever a nutter says until you can enlist the help of others. The girls come back with more booze and she breathes again.
I sit with Esther and Lisa in Rita’s room. It seems only logical to say “let’s have a foursome”. “What’s in it for us?” says Esther “there’s only one of you”.
Dammit. Who does this ever work for?? Calum Best and a case of rohypnol?

Later at the house, Rita is talking to Dom, the newest and soberest addition to the party. I become bored. Mid sentence (again) I lean forwards and plug her mouth with mine. She pushes me away. Oops. After a brief stuttering apology from me, she continues with her story.
I shouldn’t bother really should I?

I go to the toilet with Lisa. “Everyone says you’ve got a small penis” she says. “What?” I gulp.

“Dom and lots have people have been talking about how small it is” she says matter-of-factly. I can feel my self-esteem dribbling down my leg.
It sounds like I have missed out on a focus group about my manlihood.
“I’m a grower not a shower” I say, reluctant to expose my cold-affected member just yet.
The good thing about alcohol is that it makes you grow sometimes and I relaise it looks a bit more respectable now.
“Is this small?” I say, letting it dangle before her, pushing it out for the most favourable evaluation.
“Well it’s a lot smaller than Dom’s”
“What, this!?” I say thinking ‘actually this is quite big compared to how it usually looks’. I’m starting to feel very small all over.
“Dom’s balls are much bigger too” she says.
So not only do I have a small cock, but miniscule testicles too? God has been good. Why am I only finding out now?
Lisa gets bored and exits.
I put myself away, and file out of the toilet. Gutted.

A grower

Penis story #1:Full body cast.
Being at art school meant that you never knew what you’d be asked to do. It became known that I liked to get naked, and so Dora asks me one day to be the model for an all over body cast. “Sure” I say.
I arrive at her house and I’m ordered to cover myself in Vaseline. I come downstairs in the tiny dressing gown she gives me, and sit in the armchair. “Right, take it off” she says, as she begins to dip her modrock (NOT a euphemism) in water. As I sit there starkers, thinking “Christ what have I got myself into”, Famke walks in. “Hahahahaha” she sniggers at my glistening body. Famke’s parents are naturists, and she vividly recalls seeing her dad’s morning glory on its regular route to the toilet in the morning, and mysteriously wilted on its return. Europeans eh?
Dora starts on my legs, wrapping me with wet plasters which set gradually. A devious plan hatches in my head, and I somehow get Dora to plaster my arms before my bits. This means that I am simply not capable of doing them myself. Oh no.
Dora starts to lather me up, and despite me straining to stay decent, I become tumescent. She giggles. Not my favourite reaction. As she covers it, it raises up like a zombie from a horny grave, needing more and more plaster to be layered on it to keep it in place. Famke walks in, and laughs again. Never work with animals or penises I think.
After about an hour, I am covered up to my neck, with a small but well proportioned erection sticking out halfway down. I wait for it to dry, and reflect on my life. This only takes a minute, so I move onto the nights TV.
Later, the various bits of me were broken up into sections. Apparently my stiffy was passed around college in amusement for the next few months. I don’t know what happened to it- all that remained was my head when I next came to look in Dora’s studio…

Dec 7th
Esther brought up the small cock debate on the dog walk with Lisa today. “I was just being an evil bitch” says Lisa, “But Dom’s still got a big ‘un”.
Before I new that there were showers and growers (about 6 months ago to be precise) I had kind of resigned my self to having a smaller than average willy. 1-3 inches soft, 6 inches hard. A very mediocre improvement. Still it seemed to do the job (but it’s mostly unemployed).
As a virgin, I had avidly read the problem pages of FHM while I waited at the barbers (“I was the only bloke in a college of 300 women” he would boast. He never said what that meant- so he learned how to apply fake tan like pro? ‘Look at you now, the only manicured metrosexual in the village’ I should have said. Is 15 years too long for a comeback?).
“My boyfriend’s penis is so small that I can’t feel it inside me” one reader said. “He just sits at home and cries about it all the time” she concluded. Oh God, I thought, what if that’s my fate? A sad man growing old with his light permanently obscured by his bush(el)?
It reminds me of that joke “My wife’s so fat…she killed herself last week”.
My party trick, around 6am usually, is to strip off and walk around showing everyone who’s still awake everything I’ve got to show. (Not much according to Lisa). So whether they like it or not, pretty much all of my friends have seen my willy. So whether I am small or not should be a moot point by now.

Maybe it’s ok to have a small cock so long as you’re not afraid to show it?
God, that sounds like Carrie’s voiceover on Sex and the City now:
“After all, aren’t we all just privileged cunts with too much money?” [meaningful silence]. Cut to credits.

"*Sigh* one day I can afford a nose job"