James, Sharon and Taylor Too


Tuesday

Pal George, he of our regular man-dates, has got us all guest tickets to see his uncle, singer of 90s indie gods James. They are playing the Academy, supported by Echo & the Bunnymen, self-proclaimed Best Band in the World Ever.

When we get there at 8pm, they’ve already started.

“This is the best fucking song in the world,” slurs Ian McCulloch as the glissando first notes of The Killing Moon drizzle down our spines. The class of 1984 are here in force, filled out and worked over by time’s cruel bullying. But before we know it, the Echo has faded, leaving just some weird Kabbalah cursing in the toilets and a lake of tepid piss traversing the cubicles, looking for something 30 years too late.

James’ appearance on stage summons up unheard-of acts from men I would cross the street to avoid. In comparison, McCulloch’s lairy bravado was just a childish front, and now the soft underbelly of a thousand blokes can wobble in lovely sentimentality.

The only way I can see the stage is from the far corner of the balcony. Here, the floor shakes with drunken stomping, and tipsy men gyrate with 12 pint grins.

I eavesdrop a text convo between a fan and his absent wife (perks of being tall).

“Has he told you to sit down yet?”

“Nah. He’s played our album though, and some new ones what are good.”

Our album. Bless.

These hard men are united by soft anthems, as Tim Booth wiggles his metrosexual hips, a luminary in loon pants.

With Just Like Fred Astaire, (which he sang at George and Demi’s wedding), Tim walks among his people like Ben Kinglsey as Ghandi, a forest of arms sprout cameraphones along his path. He is their skinhead poet, their Singing Counsellor who listens while they softly weep of neglected boyhoods and the hard shell the world made them wear. This is Rimbaud, not Rambo, and the mad jesters of Madchester recite his poems with chest pounding love.

This is an armistice on machismo, a peace corp of men wearing flower t-shirts. Sit Down vs. The Killing Moon: I never thought such an anthem of domesticity and inaction would win devotion over such thrusting, masculine yearning, but tonight I glimpse my part in the phalanx of the phallus and it is just like everyone else’s.

“It’s weird”, Tim tells me afterwards, “but our fans are different everywhere we go. In Mexico, it’s teenagers; in Greece it’s 30 something women. And here it’s big blokes.”

As we leave, I make the mistake I always do, and try to pat Tim on the back and get some sort of friendly validation even we’ve only met once. He doesn’t turn round.

"When I open my eyes, I want you to be gone"

“When I open my eyes, I want you to be gone”

Wednesday

I’ve been referred to a Mindfulness course by my doctor. Mindfulness is like Buddhism, without the silly Buddha bit.

I manage to be 10 minutes late to the first one today.

There’s about eight of us here, and we all say our names, to ease the tension. It so happens that the two women either side of me are called Sharon. I can’t help myself.

“I’m in a Sharon sandwich!” I blurt out, leaning forward conspiratorially. Both Sharons stiffen in their seats.

Oh no.
After a few seconds of awkward silence, one of the women running the group forces out a chuckle and says,

“Ho Ho, well done!”

The Sharons start to relax again.

"Don't get fruity, Sharon."

“Don’t get fruity, Sharon.”

Thursday

I can’t stop thinking about a practical joke involving a rubber glove, with one finger smeared with Nutella. It would fall out of your victim’s bag at a crucial point, like an interview or first date.

They might lick it to prove it wasn’t poo, but that would be even worse.

"I always carry the essentials"

“I always carry the essentials”

Friday

Why do really camp men always look like their faces are in a wind tunnel?

Saturday

Summer is here. We’ve had 1.5 hours of sun and already the air is choked with BBQs, and a boy has cycled past me in a zebra onesie with a zebra face mask. He looked right at me, the face of something symbolic. No idea what.

"Look into my eyes. No around the eyes, into the eyes."

“Look into my eyes. No around the eyes, into the eyes.”

There’s a man in the pub. He’s so average. I wish I was average. He’s small, and cutely proportioned and he has a normal length neck. He is so healthy & taut that even the skin of his inner ear shines.

Monday

I’m off to interview funny Welsh artist Bedwyr Williams for Flux Magazine. His gallery are paying for me to go by train to his studio in Caernarvon. I’ve spent all week trying to come up with questions. I’m bricking it. I’ve tried to think of some really serious questions. And I’ve got my usual childish, inane ones that right now I am embarrassed of.

I have 20 minutes to get from one station to another in Warrington and I can’t resist going in a charity shop. Madonna is playing on the radio. I find a pair of big 70s sunglasses and try them on. About time for an Acid jazz revival, I tell myself. I get myself a red silk shirt too. When I get home later, I’ll realise that I was slightly delirious.

"Why ever not?"

“Why ever not?”

Bedwyr picks me up from Bangor station. Within seconds, I know the silly questions will work. He really reminds me of someone I used to know, but I can’t think who. Maybe this boy that we called Sexual Sam who played Thirteenth Floor Elevators on vinyl and I was sick in his garden after a bong.

Every so often as he’s driving, he turns to me with an impish Malcolm McDowell grin. We seem to get on pretty well. But then he tells me he’s already had people from The Times, Observer and Guardian to see him, with their witty anecdotes about famous people. All I have is a silly hat which I bought from Oxfam and now think was a bad idea. All the best material happens when we’re chatting on the way there and back- as soon as I turn on my Dictaphone, things go a bit stiff and formal.

But time flies and he drives me back to the station with only seconds to spare. “I’ll wait in case you miss the train,” he says, which means he gets to see my silly run where I have to pull my skinny jeans up every 3 steps of the way because my belt won’t work. Mine is the generation who can’t run anywhere.

Finally, on the train, I devour the pasta salad that I didn’t eat on the way in the hope that Bedwyr would feed me something interesting. I start reading the book of performance scripts that he gave me, and it makes me manically grin and choke on laughter, so I have to put it away. Still flush with the overfamiliarity of interview, I text him about laughing at his book, like he’s a drinking buddy.

He doesn’t reply.

Wednesday
The thought police have declared an armistice.

“Give up your most dangerous ideas,” they say, “and you’ll come to no harm.”

I can’t think of anything worth handing in.

Thursday
There’s a pair of gay ducks in the stream on my way to work. Sometimes a moorhen hangs out with them like a fag-hag.

I submitted a short story about Taylor Swift for discussion in my writing class tonight. It leads to the immortal line;

“You know the bit in your story that starts ‘She pushed me against the big tit…’?”

I may never beat this moment.

Friday
I’m so sick of walking Goldie in the park and hearing hundreds of birds who somehow manage to totter round the other side of branches when I look up. But I have a plan. If I can weaponize some rohypnol, I can fire a canister into the trees and take my time catching them in a net and ruffling their tummy feathers, before setting them back in their roosts.

I sit down on the grass for the first time this year, enjoying the sun
while Goldie eats grass like a sheep. I feel nostalgic, and remember when Russia used to be called CCCP. That was weird.

"Nyet! Not TCP, CCCP!"

“Nyet! Not TCP, CCCP!”

Life’s a game of three thirds…


Mon

Lisa smokes like a cooling tower. She’s convinced this wont be a problem in our utopian future. Do as much damage as you want and just replace the parts.

“I want a lung transplant, but I don’t want them to be too big,” she frets, “I’m already bloated enough.”

Tues

Lisa is coming to stay for the night while Dom is away.

“Shall we have a pamper session and get loads of chocolate?” I say with sheer abandon, clasping my sticky palms together in supplication to the God of feminine delights.

Esther looks me up & down, stony faced.

“What’s wrong?” I ask.
“Nothing.”
“Don’t I look normal?”

I was sure I was incognito as a normal bloke today. I was sure I’d got away with it this time.

“Normal. For an 80 year old man playing golf,” she qualifies, surveying my loafers, argyle socks, beige chinos, baby blue Harrington jacket and skipper’s cap.

Oh.

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZXI9RJSgok]

Wed

Staggering back on the wrong side of town from a night out, Esther spots a tube of lippy and grabs it.
“That probably belongs to a prozzy,” I caution.
“Nah, it’s too expensive to be a whore’s,” she reasons, smearing it round her mouth.

Thurs

A moth bullied Linda tonight. She was flat out on the bed in front of our giant prehistoric TV and it came hurtling at her, mistaking her glowing white belly for an obese light.

She twitched with annoyance when it impacted, half-heartedly shooing it away with a turgid paw. After a while of relentless buffeting, she took herself downstairs.

“No way am I watching The Mothman Prophesies.”

Fri

I’d quite like to get a tattoo. They seem like a good way of hiding puny white arms under a mask of rebellious alpha masculinity. Better than relying on speech, which I would probably get wrong:

‘I’m a naughty boy, sorry I mean a bad boy’.

Instead, a tattoo would proclaim;

I eat pain for elevenses.

Speaking of elevenses, Esther has formulated a diet for us. It’s called The Thirds Diet and it means that between us we only eat one portion of any given meal; I have two thirds and she has one.

A sample day in our diet:

Breakfast: One mini chocolate brioche for me, a half for her.
Elevenses: Most of a yogurt for me, scrapings for her.
Lunch: Two thirds of a bacon sarnie for me, crust & rind for her.
Afternoon Tea: Three pieces of cherry & chilli choc for me, one for her
Tea: One ready meal unequally divided into two.
Pudding: An almond Magnum: she gets the frozen top first; I get the half melted bottom.

Sat

My exp-pat cockney pal Alfie is accompanying me round the university degree show. We go to see one of my student’s work. Liz is very blonde and has combined wedding photographs with Photoshop unicorns and rainbows.

Alfie is good in these situs, swapping his barrow-boy patois for bourgeois dinnertable talk in a heartbeat.

“I like these. They’re very, dare I say, kitsch,” he says to Liz with a smile.
She’s not going to understand that. I want to nudge him and whisper ‘She doesn’t know anything.’
“Th-Thanks,” she says, trying to gauge if it’s a compliment or not.
“Yes, reminds me of Jeff Koons,” he adds thoughtfully.
Her face goes blank.
“They’re good” he translates.
I steer him away before she overheats.

My parents got me this. They assure me that fans thought Liberace was straight. ikr!

Alfie has got me a ticket to see the fashion degree catwalk show. He says he got it especially for me, but I know he offered it first to a girl and she said no.

As soon as we arrive, he transforms into a full-on diva. The seats are nearly full.
“We’re going to sit at the fucking front,” he decides, “we’re fucking VIPs!”
The front seats all have names on which aren’t ours.
“I’m having a fucking drink!” he strops.
“The drinks are only being served after the show,” an usher explains.
Alfie goes straight up to the bar and yanks two free from under the protective covering.
“We’re fucking VIPs” he explains.

The show is the best student one I’ve seen. A monster comes on at first with ten-foot arms and legs, glaring at the crowd. Then ten-foot tall amazons stride up and down parading their freakishly proportioned bodies. My god, what’s wrong with them? They’re not hunched over or sagging in the middle. Freaks.

At the afterparty, I have one of those moments. I’m introduced to one of the models and I look up at her.
Surely by now I will know how to speak to women? There will be no unattainables any more- adulthood is place of accepting our common humanity etc?

“Wow,” I murmur in an awed child’s voice. I’m not going to say what I think I am am I-
“You’re really tall,” I murmur as I gaze up, stupefied at her (and at me).
She looks over my head and walks away.

A little while later, our friend High Bri comes over. He passes the model and is a good 2 inches shorter.

“Ha, that girl is even taller than you,“ Dom says with Record Breakers glee.

“No she fucking isn’t,” says Bri, going back over and straining to show that he is, in fact, marginally higher.

“I win,” he shouts in a voice unintentionally like golem.

Life would seem to be about small victories played out on the epic battlefield of human activity. There is no ultimate victory, only desperate deeds done in semi darkness, with the vague hope that you’ll have time to eat your pot noodle or have an orgasm before the next blow falls.
Or something.

Sun

“I want hot dogs for lunch today. What’s a portion?” I ask Esther.

She raises her eyebrow. Of course, how could I have been so insubordinate?

“I’ll decide,” she says in a no-messing tone before adding, “Jah will provide. And decide.”

I’ve never realised how must Esther sounds like a rasta…

“I googled ‘sad rasta’ and found NOTHING. I give you this instead: a rasta dictator, aka Esther.”

Me, Myself and Many Others


I don’t know how it is with you, but often when we are getting ready for bed, I strike up a conversation with one of the weirdos in my head.

“That’s just so typical for a namby-pamby white boy!”

“I’m like this usually am I?”

“That’s what typical means you dickwad”

At this point Esther interjects

“What the hell are you doing? Stop being horrible to yourself!”

“I wasn’t being horrible to my self, I was being horrible to him”

“Who’s he?”

“He’s…someone in my head. I was just telling him he’s talking tautologies”

“Well, I can’t see any other namby-pamby white boys in here” she reasons, ” so you must be talking to yourself.

I open and close my mouth, but I can’t explain the complex social world of my imagination. So she continues;

“You make the world seem darker when you express your mental illness like this. It’s already dark enough”

Oops.

In other news, Lisa has just given her tiny cottage a Spring clean and found some unopened Christmas presents from her sister.

And Tobias and I went to a life-drawing class in Manchester that promised sleazy rock n roll with a model who looked and sounded like Joan Jett.

What actually happened was there was a chubby girl in an ill-fitting bodycon dress and too-small bikini top who stood around holding a guitar (badly) and trying to look moody (even worsely). And then some bloke came on and played punk songs on a Ukelele, which could have been good but he looked like Kevin McCloud and sounded like Billy “shoutyman” Bragg, who I despise (Where’s the pop? Where’s the camp?).

So, we skipped out early and met up with George, who refused to subject himself to the embarrassment of drawing in public, and instead who’d been sat happily eating a burger in a bar round the corner. Until that is, he’d made the fatal mistake of nipping to the loo, and some people had stolen his seat even though his half eaten burger and pint were still there. We are obvs not used to big city life, having come from soft-lad provincial Sheffield.

“They’d already started eating so I didn’t want to cause a fuss” he explained.

Bless

“It’s the big city, boys” Tobias chimed in, with a maniacal glean in his eye.

Indeed it is. I once saw a woman chased down the street by a driver enraged when she had tapped the boot with her hand because he had stopped in the middle of a pelican crossing. He ran from the car, yelling “drive round the corner” to his girlfriend, who was obvs practised at this and leaped into the driver’s seat. Meanwhile, the offending woman was cornered and cowered under a staccato dance of almost-blows as the man spent his anger.

I resolved there and then to desist my car-tapping ways.

Lastly, Esther has had her wisdom tooth out. The anaesthetic didn’t take so they had to jab the needle in two, three, four times before giving up and just yanking the thing out. This was a day ago and she has swollen up so much now that if you catch her from the wrong side, she looks like a gorilla. She will only eat liquid food, apart from soup.

“Eating soup is like drowning in food. Food shouldn’t be liquid, it’s disgusting. Apart from chocolate mousses.”

So far, she has eaten chocolate mousses, jelly and fish pie. She’s just bought some marshmallows but she can’t open her mouth wide enough to fit them in, so her moans have become more frequent. Eventually she fell asleep, but her snores are amplified by the swelling into deep cave rumbles.

At least I can’t hear the cat snorting coke anymore.

I’m doing the beetroot workout


"surely not?"

After work, I head down to the gym. I avoid the treadmill like the plague because I have had to lather my thighs with vaseline to stop the agony of constant chafing. I am also being very careful about how hot I get- last time I went, I overdid it, and went to meet Esther and Lisa in Tescos afterwards. Along the way, I seemed to be the centre of attention. I felt like a guy from a Lynx advert, who has stumbled across the secret of universal seduction. I get the pansexual eye (girls, boys, dogs), and my ego inflates like a pull string dinghy, floating me along the street an erect penis’s height from the ground.

The problem is that although I think that I crave attention, if I ever get it, my brain melts and I have an ugly panic attack. I am starting to forget how to walk and to breathe when I manage to run into Tescos and find the girls.

I creep up behind Esther. I like creeping up on people. As Esther catches sight of the looming freak behind her, her face spasms in horror.

“Oh my god, you look like a beetroot” she says.

"Having exercised, I must go into hiding"

It turns out I had been waking along looking like a boiled lobster/sore thumb/busta blood-vessel comedy character, and that was the source of my allure. How disappointing.

I get to Lisa’s having escaped the gym in a milder hue of cerise.They must be in a good mood- there’s a cup of tea waiting for me. We all fall silent as we guzzle and read the trashy magazines lying around (Heat, Grazia, Look).

“What’s the point of donkeys?” says Lisa out of the blue.

“Some people just have fields full of them. What do you do with them?”

Nothing comes to mind.

“I spose you can stroke them” she reasons. Yes, that’s right. That makes sense to all of us, and we go back to reading.

“I just had a really strong urge to superglue my lips together” says Esther, again breaking the intellectual silence. I think it was my brain telling me what I wanted to hear, but no, she actually said it.

“I thought the tube of glue was Zovirex. When I realised it wasn’t, I thought ‘what’s the worst thing I could do?’ and I have to stop myself from putting it on my lips”. It’s a traditional bloke joke, to want the woman to shut up. I briefly feel a sense of belonging by wishing it too.

I reach for my special Blog notebook. The girls notice, and figure out what I’m doing.

“Quick, say something funny” thinks Lisa aloud.

After a few moments of tense, brain whirring silence, she blurts out;

“I wish I could transform my body…into a frog’s body! Ha, then everyone would love me.”

She pulled it out of the bag didn’t she? However it all goes downhill from there, so I put my notebook away in disgust. I need an invisible pen and pad really, or to do some serious ethnographic shit to live in this crazy uncivilised world with the natives till they forget I’m there. Oh, wait…

"I was invisible till I got 3rd degree sunburn"

Mirror Mirror on the wall, who is the most fucked up of them all?


"Mother versus Memory Foam"

This week I have had a headache because our bed is too comfy. I have wanted a soft mattress for ages and now I have one, my spine is dissolving into it.
Last night we watched ‘The Kids are All Right’. I wish I was gay and funny. But instead I’m bicurious and uptight.

It’s nice to know that everyone goes through the same shit (yes I like seeing other people in pain, it makes me feel better).

All relationships go through the same stages: the sexy honeymoon; the cooling off bit where sex gets less but comfort grows; then the long dry years where all your neuroses re-take hold and you start to be repulsed/angered/numbed by your other half because they remind you of yourself.

Julianne Moore has just stopped being lesbian and faithful and shagged her sperm donor:

“sometimes, you know, you’re together for so long, that you just… You stop seeing the other person. You just see weird projections of your own junk. Instead of talking to each other, you go off the rails and act grubby and make stupid choices…”

Esther has become a fairground mirror reflecting back my own shit scary junk. I nearly cheated on her because I thought being with someone else would make me feel good.

I don’t like fairgrounds or mirrors. I remember when Desperate Dan was once kicked out of a Funfair because he was too strong, and was winning all the prizes. On his way out, he ripped off the ‘F’ so it just said ‘UNFAIR’.

 

"I'm a little self righteous"

Last time I went to the fair, it was the pikeys that flock to Endcliffe Park every year. A rash of robberies and underage pregnancies follow in their wake. I went there and was persuaded to go on the Dodgems by a friend. I don’t like competitive rides, unless I am going to win.

As soon as we climbed into the cars, a horde of gypsie boys descended and filled up the other cars with expressions of gap-toothed relish. For the next half an hour, I was rammed, smashed, shunted and kettled by the feral children, while I tried to smile it off as my knees smashed again and again into the steering wheel of the kid-sized car. Finally it ended and I climbed off with shaky legs. The children of the corn had disappeared into their holes. I had bruises for a week.

‘Pike-strike’ they should call it; a flash mob of free swinging knobs, hammocked in the finest tracky bottoms their cousins could afford.

Oh well, it added to my hard-done-by martyr complex. I can feel justifiably angry because I am one of life’s victims. Hehe.

BUGLY: Adult Nappies and a Manchild


"Hear Ye! Evacuate the library, there is a suicide farter in the building"

I finish work and head to the library. Oh no, I keep needing to fart, so I have to let it out gently, grab a book quick, and nip round the next aisle before anyone walks into the toxic cloud. Grab and run, grab and run. And my bowels seem to have no end of gas.

I’m really hungry. ‘I want Subway’ a baby voice demands in my head. I get there and have my usual ‘6 inch meatball marinari, everything but the chilli’

“And what sauce would you like?

Here comes my catchphrase “What would you recommend?”

“Err, southwest sauce is what people usually have”

“I’ll have that then” I say, feeling like a frail aristocrat trying to fit in among the hardy hoi polloi.

As I wait, a couple come in. “Foot long tuna sub please” says the man gruffly.

Suddenly my 6 incher is looking rather pathetic. I get that toilet feeling, like when you’re stood at the urinals and either side of you out of the corner of your eye, it looks like elephant trunks are hosing down the walls. ‘Oh God’ I think, trying to stretch my ‘little man’ out further to compete.

I hope it’s all an optical illusion- ‘It’s coz I’m viewing mine from above’ I say to comfort myself.

"A sumptuous oatmeal baguette draped in salad leaves my good man"

Am I destined to be belittled my real men and their rough and ready ways? Am I a sickly, malnourished, asexual type who shouldn’t have made it this far if Darwin had had his way?

I take my droopy stump of bread and run to the bus.

Back at Lisa’s, Esther asks me “Did you get my text? It said “Ring me slave”. Well of course you didn’t, you would have rung me if you had”

She often does both her and my side of the conversation for me. That’s love for you.

“You should try being a dominatrix” I say, thinking wishfully.

“Oh no, that’d involve having sex” she scowls.

“Some dominatrixes don’t have sex” I say, my voice trailing off at the end. Why did I even suggest it?

“Yeah but the other person gets off on that” she adds “Yuck!”

“I just want an adult nappy so I can poo and wee myself” she confesses matter-of-factly. “And an endless supply of baby food”

“For sexual reasons?” asks Lisa

“Hmm…I don’t think so” muses Esther. “I just love the idea of shitting myself where I’m sitting. And weeing. And having someone else clean up after me and put on a clean nappy”.

I offer to make a cup of tea to escape. As the kettle boils, I see a packet of Easter Hot Cross Buns from Tesco. This makes me angry.

“I can’t believe that no sooner has Tesco got rid of its Christmas stuff, they replace it with Easter stuff!” I say sternly.

I suddenly feel like an old Sheffielder, saddened by the modern world. “There’s no time to bluddy breathe round ‘ere anymore” I say in character.

“Yeah, capitalism- it’s disgusting” replies Esther. Hypocrite. She’s addicted to Tesco ready meals. For the last 2 months she has refused to cook anything, and only gets us food that “takes less than 10 minutes in the microwave”. No wonder my time in the library was fraught.

We sip our teas in silence. Esther is scouring facebook.

“That’s a nice picture of ___” (name censored for diplomatic reasons) she says through gritted teeth. “Why is everyone getting prettier while I get uglier?” she thinks aloud.

"Finish me off like a real man"

Hmm, don’t get me started on prettiness. Sure it’s ok in an Oreo kind of way- yummy and addictive at first, but sickly half way through the pack. It’s all much of a muchness. My head turns at the sight of a pretty girl almost robotically, like my genes are saying ‘potential mate no. 34778 at 3 o clock”. But prettiness is deeply forgettable. Give me weird and kooky any day.

‘Better freak than geek’? Not necessarily, since freaks often dress like geeks. I was recently asked if I have a type. I’m still not sure.

I guess my type is too cynical and jaded to even notice me. I guess my type is Esther.

"Err I'm Vienna Famous and there's party in my pants. No-one else has come yet though"

Boring and Ugly 12


"Hmm, I LIKE that picture"

 

I was sat on the toilet, looking in a fashion magazine today, and I saw a face that was so attractive I stopped weeing. A clear thought made itself known to me: “I want to cut a whole in her lifesize mouth and stick my willy through it”. But then Esther needed the loo so I couldn’t do it.

Michael Caine makes a funny crusty:

What do I believe in? I believe in me. I can believe in you, but only when you’re there.

Nothing else.

"I believe in whatever's in my belly"

Actually, no I believe in cups of tea interspersed through the day. And Goldie’s wagging tail on her way to the park. And, the smell of my own farts. And the affection Esther gives me when she forgets to be grumpy.

Everything else can jog on.

"I am God's Daughter"

I am trying to write an essay about how great Lady Gaga is. But the more I try to work out why she’s great, the less great she seems. I started off thinking she was a townie slut, then suddenly I got her last year, and I loved her. 2 things:

Telephone is the gretest video ever made.

Paparazzi is one of the best songs ever.

But her album is mostly filler, and she’s only great because Madonna and Prince are past their best, and Jacko is dead.

She’s only great by default. Until the next psycho-extrovert-pop-god. But I’m getting on a bit now.

"I'm still here!"

PS this is the first post I haven’t tagged as ‘PORN’ in a desperate attempt to get lonely men to bump up my viewing figures. Let’s see what happens…