Wonderful, Wonderful!


George’s Stag Do, Saturday 23rd

10:00

Kung Fu is driving me, Esther and Lisa to B&Q to fetch some pebbles for Lisa’s newly denuded back garden (aka Devo’s shit’n’go). We have spent the week crippling ourselves by digging up the turf and dumping it behind her outhouse so Devo can no longer use the back garden as his personal cesspit (correction: so he can use it as his personal cesspit, but so the cess doesn’t cling obstinately to unruly grass stalks and freakishly giant weeds).

As I daydream away, Lisa and Esther heave sacks of rock onto the trolley, like a post-feminist poster. The composition is ruined by Esther spitting;

“Why don’t you help instead of standing there, you lily livered girl!”

I’ve always wished that I had a trigger word to turn me into a man, like Marty McFly and his ‘chicken’-related freakouts. After today, it seems that ‘lily livered’ works pretty well.
Before I know what I’m doing, I’m slinging sacks of rocks around like a past-it Desperate Dan.

“Don’t break them, you idiot,” says Esther as I hurl them into the trolley.
“Put them in properly,” says Kung Fu, who never, ever, tells anyone what to do.

I don’t mind admitting I was scared, and I began rearrange the sacks, my red cheeks lighting my progress like mood-indicating LEDs set to ‘schadenfreude.’

“Whoopsy, I did a boo-boo!”

12:00

Met Harvey and his Japanese wife Eiko at Sheffield train station.

They have had to fly the 9,650 miles (fact!) from Singapore to Bradford to get a Pakistani visa, in his ‘country of origin’. On first glance, I thought Harvey was even more full of himself than usual; second glance told me it was merely his white afro, grown to four times the usual size.

This is the man who customarily told me to “sort yourself out,” when my first pubic attempts at a wayward teenage hairstyle got beyond the regulated ‘no. 3 all over’.

Ha, how the mighty have fallen. And how silky their curls are.

“You don’t have to have big hair to be a scientist, but it helps!”

We take brunch at Millennium Gallery, as a squadron of cadets and their officers march past.

“Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you,” I deadpan, “we turned into a police state while you were away. Sorry.”

I like the way that sounds. I bet it’s really cool and sexy having all your civil liberties disavowed.

“I went on a school trip to the DMZ,” said Eiko, unfazed, “my friend fell over and when she looked up, a whole North Korean regiment had their assault rifles trained on her.”
I have nothing to compete with this. I consider saying that I threw half a snowball onto the roof of an unoccupied police car when I was 13. No, that won’t cut it.

I remember the burning question that I wanted to ask Harvey at 3am on some insomniac night months ago.
“You know how you came to the UK when you were 11, but we weren’t friends until we were 15, who was your BFF before me?”
“Mark Dour” he says, naming an odd semi-midget who had the unfortunate quality of being instantly forgettable.

“Aha!” I say, with the glee of someone who’s just found out that their lover’s exes are all dweebs.

“Anyone else?”

“Well after him, I didn’t have any friends for a year.”

My glee turns to concern. Not for Harvey, mind: nobody wants to hear that their partner/BFF was undateable now do they?

Harvey and Eiko are travelling from the sublime to the ridiculous, aka Tokyo to Swansea (via Asia, Europe and South America). Harvey has been applying to do a PhD in something theoretical and poncey, and Swansea is the only place that’ll have him (“we’re not travelling to the US,” Harvey says, “coz they rejected me…”).

“The interview went really well,” he tells me, “and after a tour of the university, one of the professors took me aside.

‘You know what,’ he whispered, taking in the theoretical physics department in one gesture, ‘I don’t believe any of this nonsense!’

17:00 to Buddha-knows-when

Zeugma: ‘a figure of speech in which two or more parts of a sentence are joined with a single common verb or noun.’

In Zeugma’s restaurant, London Road, I am a figure of fun corralled between two or more manly dads.

It’s time for my regular social experiment: passing as a man. I pull my shirtsleeves down over my girly bracelets and lower my voice.

To the right of me is Demi’s dad, Paul, a skinhead scouser with a soft underbelly. Sitting across the table is George’s dad, looking like a jolly, gelled mafiosa. His catchphrase of “wonderful, wonderful,” (with the emphasis on the ‘wonder’) regularly punctuates the alcoholic fug throughout the night.

We are swapping stories of money and what it does to people.

George’s dad, Tony, has the rich baritone of a self-made man.

He tells us he was holidaying near San Marino in a hotel ‘full of stunningly beautiful Russian girls who refused to smile.’

They were the children of oiligarchs, bred with no manners, ‘pushing past me on the ladder up to the diving board,’ and generally being well-dressed arseholes.

“It’s sham capitalism,” I say, warming up. Tony’s eyes say ‘I’m listening’, but I haven’t thought what to say next.
“Erm, Communism failed and now there’s money floating about. No-one knows what to do with it coz they’ve never had it, so the mafia came and took over.” I think that makes sense.

“Wonderful, wonderful,” Tony says.

A minute later, listeners are whisked away to a Peugeot car dealer in Liverpool, who Tony says inherited a dealership from a man with connections with local warlords.

The previous owner used to leave a car parked on the forecourt with keys in the ignition. In the morning, it would always be back there, traces of blood and black market stains removed. The new dealer refused to carry on this habit, and had 4 cars smashed up; the police told him to put the car back on the forecourt…

That’s nothing, Demi’s dad Paul says, I was asked for protection money from a child in a multistory carpark.

‘Gimme a tenner and I’ll look after your car,’ the boy says.
‘S’alright, I’ve got a Rottweiler in the back,’ I tell him.
‘But can it put out a fire?’ the scrote says, eyes twinkling. I gave him a tenner for the cheek.”
“Wonderful, wonderful,” Tony says.

“How are you doing, stuck in the corner?” George asks when we meet in the toilets.
“Fine,” I say, quite pleased with my manly performance.
“I told Paul that one of my cousins here was gay,” he tells me, “and he leans forward and says ‘Is it ‘im?’ pointing in your direction.”
Bollocks.

Oh well, at least I can get drunk. In the Riverside, I bump into Tony in the toilets and ask if he’s merry yet.
Inexorably,” he replies and I give my jackal’s laugh, echoing off the porcelain. I bet if I ask him in another hour or so, he’ll say “Indubitably,” or some such Wodehousian alliteration. Tony’s sidekick is Alan, an old friend. He has the elastic face of a joker and together they giggle and ogle like a pair of twentysomethings.

We move on to Harlequins, a pub mislaid somewhere round the corner from the Riverside.

Mancunian Del and me are charged with dragging George, the paralytic stag, there. We take our eyes off him for a second, and he is suddenly riding a bike. Chained 3 feet off the floor on a fence. He does a wheelie and nearly cracks his head open.

“Come on,” we say, and drag him across the dual carriageway.
“I think it’s down here,” I say and we wander down a dark street. After a minute, George snorts in disgust,
“You don’t know where you’re fucking going,” he shouts, “I’m going back to the pub” and he legs it into the darkness.

My confusion is confounded by the sudden voice of God.
GO AWAY! YOU’RE DRUNK!” God says, with the disappointed nasal authority of a train announcement.
“What the fuck is that?” Del whimpers.
GET OUT OF THE ROAD!” the voice demands, and I try to locate the source.
Halfway up a dark block of flats, the blue death-glow of a huge flatscreen TV flickers in the gloom of an unlit room, casting shadows into the street. It stands to reason that the anally retentive voice of God could boom from the low rent recesses of a Sheffield hovel.
GO AWAY, YOU’RE DRUNK! GO AWAY…NOW!!!”

This is too much.
We get the hell out of the road and the neighbourhood (and that’s a Zeugma…).

“PUT THE LIGHT DOWN AND GO AWAY!”

Harlequins is where the night starts to blur for me. At one point, Alan starts flicking the thick head of a pint of stout onto the even thicker head of a local, and I flee outside. Alan is just cheeky enough to point to me if the bruiser asked who did it…

In the cooling air of a Kelham Island backstreet, Tony tells me he used to live near here with the baby George, and the whump of the forges used to make it impossible to open the windows in summer.
“That’s the sound that industrial bands like Cabaret Voltaire tried to emulate,” I tell him.
“Oh, very good” he says, memory fusing with retrospective knowledge, “Wonderful, wonderful.”

If only everyone I spoke to thought the same.

As the booze bodycount rises, the group is stripped down to a hard core of 5 or so. Back at George’s American Psycho apartment, we chatter into the night like 33rpm girls .

Ah, this is it, true friendship; the sort that can outlast a million drunken megalomaniac impulses. In the words of Michael Jackson, with friends like these

“It don’t matter if you’re black or white,

Or a lily livered boy of questionable sexuality.”

Mission Accomplished!


Mon 7th

Every venture into the staff kitchen is fraught with tension. Mine is a job that makes you exempt from the camaraderie of office workers; us Mentors are lonely souls passing like hollow eyed junkies in the corridor.
Oh no, there’s someone in there. I set my face to “breezy and approachable.” All I want to do is put my reduced price Innocent Indian Daal hot pot in the fridge and walk away.
I get to the fridge and try to wedge it in amongst all the other waiting lunches.
I might seem more normal if I say something?

“Cor! It’s full this fridge!”
Pause. Who says ‘Cor’ these days?
“It’s full is it?” the proper employee replies.

Yes that’s what I said, you’re just repeating my words back to me dumbass, I want to say. Is that all that socialising is, saying the same thing back in a slightly different way?

“Yeah” I add, to comfort him in his imbecility.

Another pause as I try to think of what to add in the same ‘int it funny, life’ vein, but came up blank. Well, no actually I came up with;

  1.  “Lots of eating going to be going on”. Bit of a tongue-twister, best avoided. Or alternatively;
  2. “Keep everyone busy for days, this,” gesturing vaguely at the fridge. Too much time has passed; I’ll probably have to explain what I a referring to.

But none of these seemed not worth uttering let alone thinking so I left the room without so much as a goodbye.

Tues 8th

Esther feels “like a skipping cd” because she forgot to take her anti-depressant.
Meanwhile Lisa has finally roused from her depression.

“Life and life’s pony” she says with a sigh.

This is a corruption of her dad’s ubiquitous expression of stoic resignation;

“Life and life only.”

I look round after she’s said this and something funny has happened to Esther’s face. Then I realise it’s because the P word has been mentioned. Horses and Ponies and sometimes even Donkeys and Mules give Esther a funny turn. This girlie obsession is one of the few innocent pleasures that have escaped the acid reflux of her spleen.

In this case, Lisa had made Esther think that not only was there comfort in the hardest bits of life (being merely ‘life only’), there was also life’s pony to look forward to, cantering into view.

“All aboard life’s pony!”

Wed 9th

We seemed to have abandoned our living room altogether these days. We eat, surf the interweb and watch TV from the comfort of our kingsize bed. It’s like an island, with Linda and Goldie draped at the bottom while we lord it up at the top, our weak backbones buttressed by a double layer of pillows.

Tonight I catch Esther indulging in the naughtiest and girliest snack ever: pink marshmallows dipped into a pot of strawberry mousse.
She catches me looking on in awe at the pinkness…

“Take them away”, she cries, pushing the marshmallows towards me with her elbow as if it’s a drug she doesn’t have the will to stop taking unless it is out of her sight.

Thurs 10th

“Do you want to go and get Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, darling?”
I blink. “Really?”
She nods. “Don’t take too long though or I’ll change my mind.”

I hurry off to Blockbuster on my own Mission Impossible. I’ve been waiting to watch it for so long that should just go straight for the DVD but I can’t help seeing if there are any more films I want as well. I browse along the whole display, and when I get to the end I realise I never saw Mission Impossible.

WTF?

I try not to panic and casually walk back along up past the Ps and Os and finally to the Ms. Man on a Ledge. Moneyball. One Day.
After all this, it’s not here.

Just as despair sets in and I trudge away, I notice a separate stand at the end composed entirely of Mission Impossibles.

Result!

Fri 11th

I decide to brave the newsagent again; after all it has been some time since I threatened the boy behind the till. Every Friday, he writes up the prize money for this evening’s lottery on the door, and it makes me want to play. I haven’t got enough change now though.

“I’ll be back later for a lottery ticket” I tell him.
“Oh yes, “The Winning One”” he jokes.
“It’d better be!” I say perhaps too forcibly, looking down with dismay to see my finger jabbing accusatorily in the direction of his cheeky chappie face.

I have to get my ticket from Tesco instead.

Saturday 12th

“Ooh don’t you make a lovely couple”

Time for a nice romcom with Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock called The Proposal.

I realise I now have the same hairstyle as Ryan. But he has a lovely wholesome jock’s face and tanned buff body underneath it. What a lovely chap he is, well deserving of his top sexiest of men awards and teengirl poster sales.

And Sandra Bullock has joined the ranks of actresses who look like Michael Jackson (Dog rest his soul). Well, not really ranks; the only other member is Michelle Monaghan. And maybe Michelle Pfeiffer.

Yummy, time for ice cream and a movie.

Esther: “(Retching suddenly) What the fuck is this? Eurgh! (Spits melted stuff into her hand).
Me: “It’s chocolate, darling (reading from the tub:) “A delicious core of chocolate truffle”.”
Esther: “What the fuck? It tastes like ash and burnt rubber”
Me: “No it’s truffle…”

She continues, eating round the middle bit.
Suddenly she is retching into her hand again.

“Oh my god, what the fuck is that? It’s hard…”
She peers in disgust at the mess on her palm.
Me: “Don’t be silly, it’s white chocolate chunks. They’re yummy”
Esther: “They’re disgusting! Is it fucking American?…Ben and Jerry’s, oh god it’s Americans chocolate, I hate it, tastes like cheese and burnt rubber…”

She hands me back the tub and I tuck into her spoils. But now it all tastes weird to me, even though I was enjoying it before. The white chocolate chips taste like cheese slices, and wherever the truffle core has leaked into the surrounding ice cream, it tastes like a toxic waste spillage.

Sunday 13th

My dreams are crap (crap ideas; humiliating scenarios):

I was in Macclesfield, hellmouth of my youth, trying to ride a sports motorbike and look after 3 exchange students, one of whom was really beautiful and rebellious (a lethal combination). She wore denim hot pants and a plunging neckline and her long mocha coloured hair lashed as she ran around crazily getting herself into and out of situations with her looks.

There was some kind of market going on and Macclesfield had never seemed busier.

As I wobbled my motorbike past a stall, a boy called me over, and I realised I was supposed to recognise him from school.

“Never been busier,” I said with an expansive gesture.
“No” he said. “Join my mailing list.”

But every time I tried to write my email address it went wrong. After seven goes I managed it, and he said;

“I don’t know whether you’re incredibly versatile or stupid”.

Esther’s dreams are a different kind of crap (good ideas; nightmarish realisation):

“I found a virtual world in my dream, but it cost £3.50 for half an hour. It looked exactly like the real world but because no one was real in there I could hit them if I wanted or ignore them.
But then Lisa and Dom and you started coming in too, and my parents and all our friends and then because everyone I knew was there it wasn’t virtual anymore, and I couldn’t do anything I couldn’t do in the real world which was the only good thing about it. So I had to leave.”

Call Me Maybe (if the phone works)


Mon 23rd

Lisa “In my dream, my teeth had been replaced with bottles of sauce with 10 pences sandwiched in between. The necks of the bottles were implanted in the gum.”
Esther “Were they glass bottles?”
Lisa “No, they were squeezy ketchup bottles”

Tues 24th

It’s that time of the month again. No, not that time. It’s time to ring my Grandad. After 3 rings, he picks up. For a while, all I can hear is lush orchestral music. Am I on hold?

“Hell-o?” comes his sing-songy voice. “Wait a minute lad, I’ve just got to get up”
Silence.
A few muffled grunts.
“We’re up!”
“Hello Grandad, what was that music just then?”
“I feel asleep watching Countdown and when you woke me up it was something else. I don’t understand all these new TVs, what do all those letters mean? What’s a USB? What’s a HD?”
“HD is High Definition. It means your screen has more dots”
“But I’ve got enough dots, lad. Guess what, I’ve got a family of goldfinches living in my garden now”
“Oh really?”
“The long tailed tits like corn, the great tits have their own hanging basket, and the pigeons have a bit of everyone else’s food. The Goldfinches only eat those seeds, what are they called…yes that’s it, Ninja seeds…”

"Swallow my ninja seed"

Wed 25th

Lisa is an accidental technophobe. The arrangement of plug sockets and kaput devices in her house means that she has to make stark choices between creature comforts.

  1. She can either have the laptop on or the TV.
  2. If she plumps for the internet, her dongle (she doesn’t have a phoneline) only works in the bathroom and bedroom.
  3. If she has the TV on, she can’t have the lamp on, and her freeview set will only play a random selection of 4 channels at a time.

As a result, she isn’t into TV series and doesn’t know what’s happening online, but rather nibbles nervously from the edges of culture.

“You live in the Dark Ages. You may as well put straw everywhere and sleep on the floor,” says Esther, before adding “But you have got a washer-dryer.”

Luckily Lisa doesn’t have my urge to hoard. Every few days she has brutal purges that consign useful and important objects to the same fate as meaningless detritus. Her reasons for binning something are set in stone (and chained to the wall):

1. too dirty
2. can’t find anywhere to put it
3. more than one of them

Thurs 26th

Esther has an appointment to get on the waiting list for therapy. It’s taken nearly a year of waiting to go on the waiting list. She’s been waiting to wait. We grab a cab, and the camp cabbie helpfully offers a running commentary;

“So many caffs round here, all offering the same deals.”
We concur.
[Puts on old Yorkshire woman’s voice] “50p extra for tomato…
Ooh look at that new house, it’s a proper two-up, two-down. I bet some right diva’s going to live there, having soirees and that. Champagne, anyone!”

In between talking, he sings along to low music, but there are no words. And no melody. It sounds like really slow techno, and there’s nothing to sing along to so he just goes

“Boom, tish tish tish, boom”

I bumped into Dr Talpus, my old English Professor today. I tend to avoid him, because about two years ago I caused lots of fuss by begging to be let on an English Masters at the last minute, before spending three weeks nodding off while trying to read Virginia Woolf and finally quitting before I had to pay any money. Now whenever I see any English tutors, I duck my head and try to act humbled.
Dr Talpus, rotund and bespectacled, lifted the outer-estuaries of his mouth in a smile both friendly and obsequious.

“How are you getting on? Still doing the old..” the expansive pause allowing a suggestion that he remembered what he had forgotten
“Yes, yes. And you?”
“Still working, for as long as I have a job.”

After each sentence, he would utter an inadvertant whistle as he sucked the air back in, as if he wanted to recall his words lest they be ill-considered. Despite his palpable discomfort, Dr Talpus has the gift of leaving the listener at ease.

After this brief exchange I think I can now frequent the 6th floor cafe where the humanities tutors lurk, with my head held, if not high, then politely perpendicular.

Fri 27th

I’m meant to be back at work in ten minutes but I find myself in Primark changing room with 11 things to try on. I’ve come to the conclusion that mirrors warp time. This is my theory:

When you look into mirrors, the world is doubled and so the time is halved.

If there were no reflective surfaces in the world, time would lull and meander rather than evaporate like sweat. This is what I will say to my student if I ever get back to work.

"Suicide by Mirror"

I read that we are programmed to utter a finite amount of heartbeats and so I guess if we spend our lives out of breath or high we’ll use them up too quickly. It’s the metronome that ticks away our future.

Oh dammit, I’m really late now, I’m going to have to spend some of my future by running back.

Sat 28th

This diet isn’t working. I find myself gutting a cherry scone and smearing its entrails with butter. My body is becoming a trunk, with no discernable waist. Diets come and go like fair-weather friends, never lingering when things go awry.

Meanwhile, Lisa has become a Dukan disciplinarian. It’s created by pop’s Simian Mobile Disco, and follows the stages of ATTACK, DECAY, SUSTAIN and RELEASE.

Attack– just eat meat
Decay– as your minor organs fail, the weight just falls off
Sustain– this is the hardest bit. You better not be eating any of that hospital food!
Release– finally, you are freed from this mortal coil and its calories and photoshop perfection.

"Yummy"

I have made a secret vow never to follow this diet because (a) Lisa eats bowls of cold oatbran gruel for breakfast and (b) her weekly highlight is “vegetable day”: her five-a-day has become a one-a-week (even fruit is verboten).

“Bananas are the worst” she says as I tuck into one.
“Bananas are fucking fruit!” I squeal, exasperated.

For God’s sake, ‘they’ tell you to eat crappy fruit instead of delicious processed cakes, and then ‘they’ tell you that all the fruit that tastes half decent is out of bounds because it’s too sugary. Well fuck you ‘them’ and fuck you body, I never asked for you, I’m a prisoner inside your lumbering frame.

So instead, my new diet is the exact opposite of Lisa’s and involves eating muffins, bagels and cookies with post-apocalyptic desperation.

Ah the delights of Saturday TV. It’s time for Koko Pop with Jameela Jamil trying to glamour the camera like a rubbish vampire instead of presenting. My ex-wife Marina is on in a babydoll dress with an Antoinette heart, singing about the reason she dumped me (she wouldn’t let me eat cake). No-one realises but I’m the Primadonna not her.

“’Koko Pop’? Must be for kids”

“No it’s not” I say in an offended tone, “it’s a proper programme…”

but as I talk I remember that all the audience members were barely teenagers and it’s named after the most childish of cereals. She’s got me. I’m a manchild, a mannish boy, an age imposter.

Anyone watching my face during the programme would have seen awe, wonder and glee play across it; this very concoction is the essence of childhood.

Marina walked out into the crowd and I swooned, and she turned and walked back to pick up a toy dog and I grinned like a fool; anything she does which isn’t in the script (though of course it is in the script to not be in the script) makes me ticklish with pleasure. And then Carly Rae Jepson actually touched people’s hands as she bounced around in her anodyne innocence. Imagine being them! A fix of nouveau Fame through the fingertips like 0:12 on this:

Right, I simply must go now; it’s time for Elevenses.

Don’t Let the Bells End!


Christmas Day

This was mostly uneventful, apart from Esther crying about how shit her life is, and moaning about how crap her presents to me were. The roast was postponed as well because it hadn’t thawed out.

Boxing Day

Esther didn’t moan as much today, and we finally had our Christmas Dinner while watching the Borrowers. I fucking hate the BBC family dramas, and Christopher Eccleston has never been good. He didn’t reject Dr Who because “it wasn’t serious enough”; it dumped him because he has no sense of humour. So, in combination, The Borrowers was enchanting. Then we had trifle with yule log and squirty cream. Then we went to bed and and tossed and turned, racked by heartburn.

Day after Boxing Day

Esther went into town to get a present for Weasel, and I walked the dog and tidied her side of the bed. I think she might have a problem because most of the rubbish was sweet wrappers (Twirl bars, popcorn packets, Lindt truffle wrappers), screwed up tissue smeared in eye-makeup, the plastic filter tips of a million e-cigarettes, and a giant subterranean beast made of entwined tights.

Later, Weasel and Kung Fu took us for a Mogul Room meal. As Esther squeezed past the table to go to the loo, Kung Foo slapped her bottom heartly and said;

“Nice arse; use it wisely”

To which Esther let out a disgusted squeal of indignation.

Lisa insisted on trying a bit of everyone else’s meal before her own, convinced as always that she would have made the wrong decision. This is normally my feeling, but seeing it demonstrated by someone else, I vowed never to be so silly again.

Xmas is Dead; Long Live Xmas

I had a sexy dream last night. I think the sexiness of my dreams is hampered by my limited sexual appeal, ability and experience in real life.
I met some random girl and we were making out while she chatted to her BFF on her mobile. She was going on about all the lame guys that hit on her, and how cute her husband was, all the kind of stuff that makes your willy shrivel up and your decency start to growl. But instead, I soldiered on, unzipping her bustier and kissing her back. As I started to finger her, she put down the phone and said;

“I’m going to slop you out so much you won’t believe it!”

I gathered from this that I was in for some fellatio, and supposed this allowed her to tell her husband that-

“No darling, I would never cheat on you”.

Then my mum walked in the room and I woke up.

You can probably tell from my dream that I have never talked dirty apart from once when me and Esther were both drunk and I was yelling at the top of my voice;

“Touch my thing! And those too!”

I think I sounded more like an angry film director than a dominatrix.

Anyway, going back to the dream, I have to ask what I was thinking to come up with “I’ll slop you out” as a turn on. She sounded like a Prison Warden or a cleaner at the dog kennels. I wonder if some people are born sexting and talking smut, like other artists? I’ve always felt too guilty to watch porn, so maybe I missed a certain kind of education.

The dream effectively ended when Linda got her claw stuck in the end of my nose in an attempt to rouse me. I threw the duvet off in frustration and strapped myself into my tiger-print all-in-one. Yet again, the day began with my immortal words;

“Come on you fuckers”,

and a cat trying to trip me on the stairs, unable to predict that she would never, ever get her biscuits again if she succeeded. I almost want it to work, just to teach her a lesson…

In other news, it’s the Deer Leader’s funeral.

I wonder what the funeral will be like for our Tortoise Leader?

Boring and Ugly Crimbo Special: 1st Anniversary!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


22nd December

I’m not sure I’m getting the point of The News. I’m sure it’s meant to be sad and gritty, but all I can think about is clothes and how good people look when they die young.

The Stephen Lawrence enquiry has revealed some great 90s clothes collected as evidence. With a 90s revival nearing the end, I am still in love with the clothes I would have been wearing back then had I been cool.

What an outfit! Jazzy jacket, sparkly cardi, pink polo shirt and high waisted acid-wash jeans. When I look round today and see all these draw-string grey tracky bottoms, v neck t shirts and silly bobble hats, I despair. Think about it people- do you really want to die dressed head-to-toe in Primark?

 

24th December

A relationship is a relay team, and each couple passes on their own make of baton. Ours is misery and irritation. All last night and this morning, Esther has had the full blown grumps.

“What’s the point? Christmas day is just like any other- we’ll get up, eat till we’re sick, walk the dogs, watch TV and go to sleep”

The thing is, when I think about it, that’s true. Coz Esther doesn’t work, this isn’t a holiday or a treat for her. It’s just another day.I cling onto hope when Weasel and Kung Fu, Esther’s parents, ring up and invite us for coffee.

Surely she won’t dare ruin their day too?

Of course she will- that’s her sacred role in the sisterhood.

We go for Eggnog Lattes in Starbucks with them and Lisa. Weasel has promised to buy a winter hat for Esther. She gets out the brochure for her to choose from.

Weasel- “Choose your top 4 from here”

“I don’t want one” she petulates (this should be a word- I’ve written it, so now it is)

A look of weary resignation flits across Weasels face. Lisa rolls her eyes.

“Give it here then” Esther chides, snatching the leaflet from Kung Fu’s hand, and without seeming to look, scrawls numbers next to  pictures.

“You didn’t even look at that!” says Lisa in horror

“Yes I did; white’s the best colour, so I chose the whitest then numbered down from there”.

We are clearly dealing with a genius here, for whom simple tasks like this are odious and best treated with contempt. She is Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon in foreshortened female form.

"Whosoever invented this should be flayed alive!"

Well you know what, now it’s time for my go with the bastard baton. It always changes from red to green in my hand though- from misanthropy to jealousy when passed from a middle to an only child. a week ago we paid £15 for the runtiest tree we could find. It leans over drunkenly like my erection.

Now, on Christmas Eve, the trees that were for sale at the bottom of our road have been abandoned. Lisa and Dom can take their pick, and choose one 3 times the size of ours, for free! In what universe are the poor allowed to triumph over the rich with such smugness? What’s the point of having ostentatious spending, if other people are going to get the same stuff for free??

I know I should be thinking “It warms the cockles of my heart to see the Tiny Tim’s of the world smiling”

But instead it’s “I want a tree that big! Maybe I should have two trees, then I’ll win!” Winning in my mind is a vague concept, something to do with the unhindered accumulation of stuff. I guess it comes from the entitlement of being the golden child backed into a corner by a real world full of grasping hands.

Suffice to say, when we both got home we had snapped the baton in half and carved each others faces with it.

Esther- “I’m not going to wrap your presents…”

Me- “Why not?”

Esther- “Coz I hate wrapping presents. I can’t be bothered”

Me- “Well, we can put them in plastic bags at least…?”

Esther- “I can do what I like. You can do what you like”

She stomps upstairs for a snooze.

“Don’t go to sleep” I call after her plaintively

“Why not?”

“Erm, because we can go and watch Christmas TV…?”

“I’m bored of TV”

“We can…tidy up?”

This isn’t going to work. She grunts and disappears. Why can’t I think of anything to do anymore? My excitement is draining away. What’s the point of anything?

I trudge upstairs to bed.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Kung Fu Fighting


Kung Fu (father of Esther, Lisa, Carmen and Bella) popped by to take the girls to visit their granny. She lives in Rotherham, a most dreadful affliction.

"'Waldo's New World Order' the radical feminist-lesbian alternative to Jim'll Fix It, never passed the pilot"

With each daughter he conceived, Kung Fu hoped the next would be a son- by the fourth girl, his ambition shifted to having a lesbian daughter. Unfortunately, he is still waiting for some closet-exiting. Had any or all of then been a boy, they would have been called Waldo.

Spare a thought for the schooldays of the phantom sons: the hope of his generation was never enough to change the basic meanness of human nature. Waldo is not a name that would ever be tolerated by school children.

Waldo is also frighteningly close to the surname of the tallest man in the world EVER: Robert Wadlow. When I started to grow past everyone else age 10, I used to obsess over his growth chart “this is something I can excel at!”. Unfortunately I stopped at his 8 year old height of 6’2.

"That's how to get girls: gravitational pull"

Kung Fu lived through the last great twin cultural traumas of free love and imminent Third World War. It was enough to drive anyone crazy (along with the dragons that he hallucinated in the fields nearby), and duly he began stock piling tinned food in the cellar of their Hebden Bridge home, along with his weapon of choice for protecting the stash; a mail order crossbow. After all he had to protect a pack of erstwhile Waldos from nuclear holocaust.

"Hippies only work as a Second Life avatar" Discuss.

His anti-Russian defence was only rumbled when Weasel broke the ‘only’ tin opener, and Kung Fu gleefully nipped to the cellar to fetch a brand spanking new one. Weasel took a look at what else he had down there, and found everything. Out went the crossbow and ‘slap’ went his cheek. At least they ate like UHT kings for a while.

Kung Fu is the biggest Captain Beefheart fan I have ever met; although in the wake of his death, everyone seems to have been into him, like, forever. Apparently Esther thought he was a genius poet, coming up with ridiculous and fantastic word combinations at mealtimes. It was only later that she realised these were all Beefheart lyrics.

I think it takes a genius to remember his songs, and also to oversee the viper-pit of free thinking daughters for so long.

As for Captain Beefheart, even Sly Stallone has come out as a fan. Such is the bonding power of peer pressure: