Love is…


In the three weeks since I last posted, I have mainly been whoring myself out on Twitter and writing gig reviews. I did a Grimes one which I hoped she would see and cry herself to sleep about not agreeing to give me an interview, and I’ve just written one for the amazing L’Amour Des Reves, which will be published somewhere sometime soon.

What I’m trying to say is “I’m not workshy,” as my BFF Jaime used to bleat when he worked on a building site and the rugged menfolk tittered at his art school physique.

“I’m no weed, my work can lift the spirit of mankind”

I’ve just been on the daily dog walk. I seem to have lost about a stone in the past 3 months with our Thirds Diet, a lack of belly which made itself known suddenly and traumatically when my trousers started to plummet to the ground. Just as I made it to the main road, my belt gave way and whereas usually my baggy 90s jeans would be lodged on the muffin top they embrace, they now went into freefall. Picture me, each hand being tugged akimbo by a straining dog, hands desperately fumbling to get my buckle safely in its hole as families walk towards me, their faces turning from concern to fear to disgust.

Finally, I managed to get off the street and down to the park where I could manhandle myself unseen. As Gary Numan knew, down in the park you’re just another weirdo.

 

The dog walk is always a fraught affair. Yesterday, it was taking its usual mundane course until:

Lisa: Oh God, what’s wrong with everyone? Why are they all pretending?

Me: Who?

Lisa: Everyone. They’re all in on it!

Me: On what?

Lisa: They’re all dressed up as humans, but everyone knows they’re not. I want to scream.

Luckily we get to the end of the park and manage to bundle Lisa home where she could rock in the corner of her room while the light faded.

Behind closed doors, we can all be each other’s weirdos. It’s a sign of affection I think to sit next to each other muttering in our own private funnyfarms. Love is…a low security asylum. 

The longer a couple is together, the less veiled the insults and threats become. It’s quite sweet really. Love is…a killer diss.

“Mummy, are we in the matrix?”

Esther: Aww, look at those cows. The baby’s saying “get up mummy, I want to go for a walk.”

Me: Or that’s its fat lazy girlfriend…?

Esther blinks: Or the girlfriend is the little one and she’s broken the fat boyfriend’s legs.

Me (scared, so changing the subject): Which boy in American Pie would you rather be?

Her: The homophobic surfer dude

Me: Me too

So, to sum up, love is…agreeing where it matters.

Don’t mention the war!


To celebrate his four score and ten years (and counting), we organized a get together for my last remaining Grandad.

I never remember if he was in the airforce or the navy. Turns out it was both. He was in the Fleet Air Arm (FAA), the airforce branch of the Royal Navy. Confused.com.
To cover my balding patch, and as a wink to my aged ancestor’s past, I wore a Sea Captain’s cap from our East Anglian boating hol.
“You outrank me!” said Grandad in his FAA blazer, and I was going to make a joke about out-camping him too but then I remembered the £90 notes Esther had made for the occasion, superimposing his cheeky face over the Queen’s, her coiffeur and crown peeking out at the top.

There were 80 guests: cousins he’d not seen for 40 years, secretaries who’d worked for him 30 years ago, a 20-piece brass band and one single, room-filling, Phoenix Nights style throwback DJ.

It seems Political Correctness was the only person not invited.

The DJ jokes about “the Jew’s table!” who haven’t paid up, and Mum orders Dad to go and have a word with him, giving him chance to escape the clutches of his brothers who have pummelled him with questions (he usually manages to avoid all contact).

Other highlights include my gay Verger Godfather coming onto me:

Him “I used to be able to lift you up, now look at the size of you!”
Me “Shall I pick you up?”
Him “Chance would be a fine thing!”

For the rest of the evening, he came over periodically to take my photograph under some pretense or other.
“You’ve got a lovely smile” he’d say, and snap away.
When it came time for the 400th family photo, he elbowed Esther out of the way with the line

“You’ve been replaced by a younger model!” (he’s nearly twice her age).

It must have taken a herculean effort to plan and choreograph the party. Guests had been summoned from far afield and from the dim and distant past, and a brass band, my g’dad’s favourite musical tipple, arrives halfway through to play.

“Are you enjoying the band?” I ask him.
“One of them’s out of tune” is all he says.

Grandad has laid out photographs of his youth and young manhood on a table for the purple rinses to reminisce. You never get to see your Grandparents as peers, but there he is, instantly identifiable in each photo by his grin, like a provincial Frank Sinatra. After the performance, a trombonist comes over and points to a photo.

“Ooh I remember him!” she says with animation, pointing at a photo.

I look at which family member she’s aiming at.

It’s Hitler on the front of a wartime newspaper.

“My parents used to hide me under the table so he couldn’t get me” she explains, as if he were the family dog.

I imagined the air raid siren going off and her parents whispering “quick he’s coming!” and this frightened girl with a quivering kiss curl listening from her table fortress for the sound of a mustached murderer creeping past the window.

“I know where you live”

During the national anthem (yes really), Esther’s irreverent balloon-waving causes an old chap on the table opposite to point and sternly act out a more jingoistic effort. The enthusiastic demands this approved arm-waving required cause her elbows to flick out, knocking her half a lager & lime over the table of relics (the photographic ones, not the guests). A rescue party is sent out, and after frantic swabbing, the photos are rescued.

Finally, it’s time to get a lift with gay godfather back to Grandad’s house. “Ooh, lovely” G’dad exclaims as Esther helps him out of the car, and she thinks, I’m not doing much, before looking down and realizing he can see right down her top.

Happy Birthday indeed.

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.

More cocoa, Mrs Vicar?


Saturday 18th

Sample phone conversation with my Grandad:

“The female parson is coming round tomorrow for tea. I don’t like female parsons.”
“Why not?”
“They’re part of all this happy clappy stuff which is why I don’t go to church anymore; they have all these skiffle bands nowadays.”
“Skiffle bands? Like Lonnie Donegan?”
“No, you know people with beards and guitars. Hymns Ancient and Modern is what I was brought up on. I’m coming to religion a bit late, lad.”
“Maybe you should turn Catholic, it’s never too late to repent!”
“They’re even worse, it’s all dressing up and messing round.” There then follows a 10 minute tirade about how Catholics are rubbish Christians.

Tuesday 21st

I went for coffee with my boss. I didn’t really know what he wanted so I was quite nervous anyway. As I was took decaff latte to the till, worrying about whether it made me seem like a wuss, he said;

“Not having any cocoa?”
What could he mean? My brain worked fast. This must be manager-speak for caffeine.
“Uh, no- it makes me high if I have any…cocoa”
High? High? Why the hell did I use that word that suggests a totally unprofessional lifestyle of Class A hedonism.
He laughed uncertainly.
“I have to have a triple espresso to start the day.” I was really losing out on the man stakes.

With a thunderbolt of prickly sweat, I realised that when he said ‘cocoa’ he had meant ‘cocoa’ . I looked sadly at the little shaker he was emptying over his drink and thought whether I should explain the whole mistake, like “Oh, I thought you meant caffeine, like cocoa was the street-name for caffeine”.

Wisely, I chose to shut the fuck up.

Wednesday 22nd

At work today, I thought there was a Hare Krishna coming down the corridor. The ethnic bell noise got closer and closer but instead of yellow robes there was just a bloke and an iPhone with the ring set on ‘Bells’.

Thursday 23rd

When we get down to her house, Lisa looks gaunt and shaken.

“I didn’t sleep very well” she explains,
I woke up at 5am because the window was shaking in the wind. I thought it was fireworks, and started to think ‘why are people setting off fireworks at 5 in the morning? Has the apocalypse finally come?’ And then the man next door started using his hairdryer and I thought ‘Oh God, that’s not normal, something’s happening.’ Then there was a creaking and it sounded like  a burglar walking around the house so I tried to force Dom to go downstairs but he just turned over and snored.”

It wasn’t the apocalypse, it was just Lisa’s brain.

Friday 24th

On my way back from work I see two amputees on crutches walking side by side- one has their left leg missing, the other has no right leg, and they are walking so that their missing bits are next to each other (or not…). It looks like a Benetton advert, and I have to stop myself getting my phone out to photograph them. Those crutches wouldn’t be very nice in my face.

I am the God of Hellfire and I bring you…Puns


Fri 10th Jan

Just attempted to sing Fire by The Crazy World of Arthur Brown to my iphone to see if Shazam recognized it.

“I AM THE GOD OF HELLFIRE AND I-”

“SHHH! What the hell are you doing?” Esther shouted over me.

Not wanting to interrupt my perfect rendition, I continued.

“Doo-Doo Do Do Do Do Doo-Doo Do Do Do Do Do Doo-Doo”

“Just seeing if it recognizes the song” I explain.

“You’re not even singing the tune!” she says and stomps off to let the pets out. Song Not Recognized comes the damning reply.

I think the thing that really got her goat however was my hysterical laughing at Police Academy, especially the bits that aren’t funny. The angrier she gets, the closer I get to hysteria. But then I have a revelation that shocks me to my core-

Steve Guttenburg is really good looking! We’re talking painful to watch his beauty good looks…he spends the movie running around in a sleeveless crop top and denim hot pants, and it only serves to enhance his masculinity, and at one point, Esther cries out-

“Whoah! Look at that package!”

Short cute guys have all the fun. Us giants over 5’6 lumber around like drunken zombies while these fresh faced whippersnappers nip in and out getting all the girls. Sigh.

Sat 11th Jan

What better way to spend a Saturday than with my brainbox mother, who has booked us in to a writing workshop in Hipsville, Manchester. After a word-association game, we have this list of words:

  1. Ireland
  2. Moscow
  3. Show
  4. Hare
  5. Folly
  6. Chi
  7. Gong
  8. Mandolin
  9. Moccasins
  10. Beer Tent
  11. Hebrew
  12. Beard
  13. Forecast
  14. Cabbages
  15. Shoe Laces
  16. Polyhedron
  17. Ampersand
  18. Colt
  19. Domino
  20. Macerate
  21. Hydrating
  22. Loblolly (my mum’s suggestion… “I don’t know what it means though”)
  23. Dormouse
  24. Parrot

And the task is to make a story using them all. Unable to think of anything but puns, here’s my story;

Polly H. looked anxiously at the latest deals on skyscanner.net. Ireland offered  a green, Guinness land where colts ran below like unravelling shoelaces or the stubbed toe-ends of a Hare Krishna’s moccasins. Moscow meanwhile was her loblolly- the one place she could see her mother-in-law (founder of the Hadron collider, hence her full name- Polly Hadron) refusing to visit. Entering her card details, she grinned like a snow hare.

Arthur Rank winced as the check-in lady read his name out, waiting for the inevitable gong joke, which never came. He was fluent in Mandolin, but marred by dyslexia. The beer tent where he had picked up his Hebrew (the barmaid’s Aramaic was a little rusty) had been his greatest folly- he’d dribbled his Chi away make no mistake; and the chance of rehydrating was as slim as a parrot forecast of a dormouse apocalypse.

Suddenly, his pants fell like dominoes- the nervous twitch in his left hand had finally macerated his eco-friendly cabbage belt. Turning in horror, he found himself face to face with the girl of his dreams- well, last night’s anyway.

“It’s you!” he said incredulously

“Yes” she retorted, “And?”

“Huh?” he mumbled in confusion

She breathed on his glasses and etched out an ampersand in the condensation.

“That’s not what you’re meant to say” he replied wistfully

“It is in my dream” she replied, flicking her floppy mane so it enmeshed itself velcro-style in his beard….

Sun 12th Jan

“Apparently Whitney Houston is dead…” I say gingerly. Esther is a child of the 80s like me, and I’m not sure how sad she will be.

“Good!” Esther retorts in an instant and rolls over in bed.

Esther meets Bjork. Bjork melts Esther


"Before performing, Bjork will only eat 80s cassette tapes"

Last night, my parents treated us to tickets to see Bjork play in Manchester. Esther had jumped at the chance when it was offered a couple of weeks ago, but now it was the actual day and she was starting to panic.

“Maybe your parents won’t mind if I don’t come” she says hopefully while we get ready.

I refuse to even grunt my disapproval. She isn’t getting out of it that easy.

I realise I must be getting anxious too, because nothing I try on looks normal. How could I not have noticed that I am a pot-bellied pinhead with a whole wardrobe specially designed to accentuate these flaws?

I finally have to put on the least wrong outfit, and we set off; only for Esther to fall flat on her arse at the bottom of the road.

“Ow” she moans, holding her ankle, “maybe I can’t go now?”

After a brief moment of sympathy, I realise it’s a trap.

“You’ll be fine” I say.

The rest of the journey passes without too much moaning. Apart from me panicking about spending an hour on the train with nothing to read. Esther goes for a fag and re-appears with a Heat magazine.

‘The new one’s out tomorrow’ I thought, ‘this is old news’. But I just smiled and said thankyou.  A treat from Esther is a not to be sneered at.

We waited for half an hour in the sticky gloom of some warehouse in the backstreets of Manchester. The bar ran out of lager twice while I was waiting in the queue. Then came a big ‘oooh’ and 20 or so people took to the stage. Which one was she?

“Lots of Bjorks” someone muttered behind me. I pointed out a funny one with a giant ginger afro. After some shuffling about, it turned out that was her. She had a drawn on chinstrap too, and a glittery a-line dress that made her look like a space mermaid.

"Bjork's bro in a 'fro"

“I love you B”

said an overfamiliar bloke, and the crowd guffawed. She ignored it.

Bjork’s first song was called Thunderbolt. A big Faraday cage came down from the ceiling and massive lightning bolts shot across it to add hellish percussion to the music.

Esther clung onto my arm in fear.

“My dad would shit himself if he was here” she said.

Well my dad’s tougher than your dad- he was here and loving it! Bjork’s throng turned out to be a choir of Aryan beauties who wailed like it was the end of the world, and shuffled like an apocalyptic chaingang.

"Frying tonight!"

Up above, there was a circle of projection screens showing squids filling each other’s multiple orifices with multiple tentacles, mushrooms growing, dnas dangling and moons waxing and waning. The main theme seemed to be sex: things going in holes and things fusing and growing.It was like all the mating bits from nature documentaries segued together and set to volcano-pop.

After about 30 mins of this, I felt a feeble hand plucking at my t shirt.

“I’m too hot” moaned Esther looking like her petite frame had melted into a 2-dimensional placard of herself, “I have to go outside”.

Well, she had done well so far.

The rest of the concert (do people still say that anymore?) was good, but I couldn’t shake the worry that Esther had passed out in the heat or was quivering in the shadows as her social phobia took the reigns. Luckily, I found her outside, smiling and having blown herself back up again to 3D.

A fun day out was had by all.

Stupid and Guilty as Sin. Nice clothes though.


I had this conversation with a fellow stalker in my dream last night:

Him “Who are you stalking?”
Me “My ex. Who are you stalking?”
Him “My mum”

"my level of humour"

My mum has just posted me Trev and Simon’s Stupid Book. Someone on BBC2’s poncey Late Review show might say they are the dada to vic and bob’s surrealism. One day they’ll reply to my letters.

The scariest thing is what someone has scrawled on the inside back cover…set 4 years in the future, it claims that Eric Cantona is a serial killer, and is written in the scrawly blue biro of a psychopath:

Hello, this is Crimewatch UK on the 25th January 1999. Now, do you remember a footballer called Eric Cantona? Yes, that’s right. He’s the one who murdered 11 people after being sent off in a match. Today is the 4th anniversary of that incident which took place when Crystal Palace played Manchester United at Selhurst park. We have made a reconstruction of what happened from the radio commentators Trevor Brooking and Mark Bright , who were two of Cantona’s victims. Listen to this and judge for yourself.

If you wrote it, get in touch.

Trev and Simon offer some timely tips too:

How to solve the problem of deforestation:

  1. Write to an MP
  2. Become an MP
  3. Become a tree

You know what, I’m fed up of feeling bad about the world’s problems.

Global Warming= my fault. If only I wasn’t vain enough to need hairspray, and if only I wasn’t too lazy to turn everything off at night.

Insects trapped on the bus= my fault. But recently I have become so apathetic that all I can do is watch the fly or bee hammer itself numbly against the glass, while feeling a dull sense of responsibility. It’s my fault coz I have noticed them and the only way they will get out alive is if I do something. I almost want to squash them to put them out of the hell of being trapped forever on a Stagecoach bus. But then I would have blood on my hands and would feel like a dirty killer.

Poverty= my fault. What else explains the guilt I feel when I see a Big Issue seller? It still doesn’t make me buy a magazine though. If they put more fashion in it and made it glossier, then I might consider it.

"I did actually buy this one. I was in my Gaga phase"

There are so many Big Issue sellers in Manchester that my grandad always gives me a copy he bought as a “a free pass” through the city- without it you will be asked over and over again to buy one. Once I get on the train, it goes straight in the bin.

I’ve written a song about this weird sense of middle-class guilt I feel all the time (having some upward mobility and the ability to read and write means I ought to really help out the ‘less fortunate’):

I bought me a big issue
Coz I feel so guilty
I smiled at the security guard
Coz I know his life is hard

Middle class guilt
It drives me wild
Middle class guilt
Coz im so mild

Third world poverty
Makes me come over all wobberly
Corruption and controversy
Oh lord I feel so bad
For all the Hot Wings ive had
Buddhist or eco warrior
That’s how to stop it botherin’ ya
The guilt is the gift that keeps on giving
It’s the delicious pain of western living

Middle class guilt
It drives me wild
Middle class guilt
Coz im so mild

I got bored halfway through and couldn’t be arsed to carry the lame joke any further. Still, I’ll settle for Top 20 in a faraway galaxy (where bad jokes are good ones). Just need Jedward’s home number to make it happen.

Lisa “it’s really annoying how you go for a partner because you want your kids to look nice. Dom’s got much better lips than me. But what use is that to me?”

Me “Esther, you didn’t choose me for that reason did you?”

Esther “yes I did actually. You were nice enough looking and you had good clothes”

I am mortified for some reason. So, I play devils advocate: “So I spose you go along looking at what’s available, thinking “I want THAT face bearing down on me in bed, and looking up at me from the a cot””

“That’s disgusting” says Esther. “But true”.

But we have decided we are not going to have children until we are mentally healthy enough to hack it (like that’s going to happen). For now, picking up Goldie’s poo and sick is enough. At least she won’t grow up and swear at us, or bring stray dogs back for orgies.

"I hate you shitface"