A neurotic and a socialphobe go on holiday…Boom Boom!


A neurotic and a socialphobe go on holiday. Sounds like a joke doesn’t it? Well, that’s my life. Last week we went on a boating holiday to the Norfolk Broads. Seven days in Merlin, a boat six paces long and three wide.

My fear of boredom has led me to pack 2 novels, a puzzle book and a trashy magazine. In the first book I’m reading, the neurotic young protagonist has a mantra that he repeats every night before he goes to sleep:

Who are you? I am Jean-Baptiste Baratte
Where are you from? From Belleme in Normandy.
What are you? An engineer, trained at the Ecole des Ponts.

These simple questions seem to define our holiday. But as we chug along in our old boat I find that every time I ask the first question, the answer keeps changing.

Who are you? I am not a parent.

We are both at that age where we’re no longer young and not yet middle aged. Things haven’t happened the way they do for other people. If I was my dad, I’d have a 4 year old child by now.

As we sit eating our pub meal at some godforsaken hamlet, we muse about our barren lives.

Esther: I can’t stop thinking that everyone who passes us on the river says to themselves “why haven’t they got kids?”
We watch a group of children running around the beer garden.
Esther: They look innocent, but I can see some bullying already.
A little longhaired boy has had his little longhaired doll confiscated by a bigger girl. She runs past shrieking like a banshee. When she sees that I am watching, she gives me a knowing grin and shrieks even louder.
It’s as if she is acting the role of child…

“The child is father to the man”

Who are you? I am a big kid.

While waiting for the boatman on our first day, I balance a pinecone on the mooring post.

“Stop it!” hisses Esther, “He’ll know you’ve been messing around!”
Just then, the old chap comes round the corner. He drones on about the rules & regs and then leans forward to unhitch us.
Esther looks round at me with wide eyes and a twitching mouth.
The pinecone topples to the floor and I have to force down a guffaw.
He looks round, catches my Cheshire grin and says,
“You thought I’d knock that off didn’t you!” with the gleaming eyes of a teacher deciding whether to bollock you.

Busted! And like a little boy I go on grinning as he asks Esther if she’s sailed boats before.
“Yeah, lots of times,” she lies, glancing conspiratorially in my direction.
“Ok then, take us out!” he says.
Her taut face tells me all I need to know. Miraculously, she squeezes us out into the river and chugs along nicely.
“Very good,” says the man, “we’ve had some terrible sailors before. One guy went pale as a sheet and froze, driving it headlong into the bank…”
He gets her to turn around and head back to the jetty.

“Now do a stern mooring”
Her face says ‘eh?’ and her mouth says “Erm…Is stern the back or the front?”
“The back”
“Oh”, she says, recovering composure, “I’ve always moored at the front before”.

Like the novice before her, her knuckles show up white against the quaint wooden wheel.

“I know how to do a vertical mooring”

Who are you? Mentally unstable?

Dispensing with the usual boardgames, Esther & I decide to play Mental Illness Oneupmanship. It’ll end in tears.

Me: Maybe you should stop catastrophizing?
Her: Only if you stop negatively reviewing
Checkmate.

Her (coming back into the cabin): Where are my sunglasses? I’ve had to wear yours.
Me: On your head.
Her: (Lowers her voice) What? You mean I’ve just been outside with two pairs of sunglasses on? Oh no! (In a sudden loud voice) Don’t be silly, I don’t need yours as well!

A little later:
Her: Argh! (as boat zigzags wildy across the river)
Me: What’s the matter?!
Her: H-h-heron! (points with a shaky finger at a big bird on the bank).

Esther’s catchphrase of the holiday: ‘Is that a police boat behind us?’

Me: You’re the only female captain I’ve seen all week. I think you’re a feminist icon for all the teenage girls we see with their families.

Her: No, they just think ‘I’m glad I don’t look like an old woman in a crappy old boat’.

Teenage Girl: “Is she saying summat about Jodie Marsh?”

Top 5 Boat names:

  1. Special Lady II (when one special lady just isn’t enough).
  2. Sailbad the Sinner (Best pun on the Broads)
  3. Swan Raider (Esther ‘I just don’t understand it’)
  4. Strip Too (Really?)
  5. Alibi IV 2 (The Krays’ old boat)

Who are you? I am a man

Like the world over, the men at the Norfolk bar we have moored at for the night are deep in conversation about birds.

Man 1: I hear you’ve had some problems down your end.
Man 2: Eh?
Man 1: Them pink-footed geese have been at it again?
Man 2: Nah, you’ve got it wrong, it’s the greylags that do it…

We take Goldie for a walk to Somerleyton Hall. After a 30 minute trek, we find out they have a strict no dog policy. As we walk away, I have a benny.

Me (stomping my feet): I want to be part of the landed gentry!
Esther walks on.
Me (loudly): When I’m rich, I’m going to buy this fucking–
Esther interjects: Oh no, don’t start!
Me (reassuring): Don’t worry I’m not testosteroned up, I’m only joking…
A few seconds later
Me (loudly): I’ll find out where you live and I’ll—
Esther: Err, NO!
A few seconds later.
Me: When I’m an international bestseller I’ll buy this place and use it as…as…as a potty!!
Esther: Please be quiet! What’s wrong with you?
Me (calming down and quoting Michael Palin): Oh no, my problem! I must have fruit!

Who are you? I am a dreamer

Reality is never enough no. 1:
Every person on every boat we pass insists on waving. It’s most disarming. Then a big guy with grizzled beard and tied back hair goes past, staring at us and not waving.

Psycho, Esther says.
He’s not waving because he’s got hooks for hands, I say.

Esther visibly shudders and tells me off.

Reality is never enough no. 2:
I stare out of the window at the other boats going past.

Me: What if you saw a face in the window of a boat that was so strange you just had to discount it had ever existed?
Esther: Please don’t, I don’t want to.

Reality is never enough no. 3:

Me: OMG is that building a weird shrine? Look at all those big pictures of people’s heads.
Esther: It’s a hairdressers (*facepalm*)

This was actually a real shrine we found, seemingly for abandoned toys. They were strung up like infidels. We didn’t stop here.

Who are you? A boatman

It hasn’t taken us long to fall into a routine. Each time we reach a jetty, Esther will bark orders like:

Front rope first!
Stop me from hitting that boat!
Quick, we’re floating away!

Usually we’ll clunk the side of some pleasureboat, so Esther will lock herself in the cabin and push me out to apologize…Luckily for me, boatmen are calm folk so after an obligatory chat about the river I was allowed to return and coax Esther onto dry land.

So, to recap, a neurotic and a social phobe went on holiday…and all they got was this lousy blog.

‘If I have one complaint,’ I say as we hand the boat back at the end of the week, ‘I’d say it’s not tall enough.’
‘That’s coz I built it in 1974,’ he says, standing up to full height, all 4 feet 10 of it.

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.

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?

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.

How not to live your life?


"I just don't have time to do my laundry"

Does anyone iron their clothes anymore? I bought a tshirt from a charity shop last wek, and the woman said “Ooh, that’s lovely and soft. At least you won’t have to iron it!”

“No” I agreed, acting like I too have to juggle the demands of keeping myself looking shipshape. The last time I touched an iron was sometime in the mid 90s. What is the point of ironing a tshirt? Am I living my life all wrong?

Oh well, it’s too late now to change. Like I told my bosom buddy, Theresa Warpaint, I shall have to try again next life. I’ve always been a bit smelly and creased, like me or lump me.

"My avatar is exactly the same as me coz I'm perfect"

While my mum was here, she reminded of the embarrassment I had put her through as a small child on a packed bus when I had spent the journey demanding loudly

“Say “my bum-bum””,

over and over again. And also, on another bus journey, I had wriggled in my seat next to her so much she started to call me Seal Boy.

If I was her I would have made us walk everywhere. I’m glad my mum was nicer than me, and put up with me being an arse. Thanks mum!

What is it with kids and bottoms? When we went to babysit Esther’s nieces and nephew, he had a new catchphrase:

“Farty farty bum bum”

followed by hysterical laughter. Now, this was my kind of humour! I really am rubbish at babysitting because I can’t pretend i don’t find every naughty thing they do hilarious. While Esther tries to maintain order, I am busy making things worse by giggling and thinking of comebacks.

I’m not sure I ever grew out of the bum-obsession I had as a child. Bottom humour is one of my specialities. To Esther’s disgust, I describe each poo I have in great detail. For a more satisfying fart, I discovered that parting my buttocks felt really nice. I was refining my technique when Esther got wind of it (arf arf!) and made me promise to never do it again, on pain of instant break-up.

I realised the other day that one of the signs of true love is when you like the smell of both of your farts, especially when they combine. However, having a dog and cat on the bed can mean that you get up to 4 farts at a time, and have to sift through the individua odours to work out which belongs to your true love, and is fair game to savour.

I went to the cornershop with Lisa and the dogs earlier, and she waited outside while I bought some dog food. It was meant to be a strict straight in/out errand, but the overfriendly shopkeeper had other ideas.

“Do you play the guitar?” he asked

“No, not really. I’ve got one, but I can’t play it”

“You show me” he said, handing me an acoustic guitar somehow stashed behind the counter. “I will learn from watching you”

I played for time, holding the guitar and desperately trying to remember any chords. I once taught myself all of them, but then didn’t know what to do next, so I stopped playing.

“Well, first you have to learn the chords” I said, switching to teacher mode. ‘E’ is the simplest chord, it only uses 2 strings. My fingers fumbled around trying to remember which 2 strings. I strummed what I thought was E and it sounded terrible.

“It’s best off watching how to play on the internet” I said quickly, and tried to hand the thing back.

“No, no, you play some more” he shrugs, and sits down to watch. Oh God.

“No it’s ok”. I dumped the guitar on a pile of Sheffield Star’s, paid for my Pedigree Chum and left, sharpish.

“You took ages” complained Lisa outside.

“Yeah, sorry. He made me play his guitar”.

"This picture has no relevance to the above"

Bustard Child


I am very excited. We will soon be able to *almost* swear in public for legitimate reasons- the Great Bustard is being re-introduced into Britain. Unlike most of the uncouth youth, I am deeply embarrassed when naughty words escape my mouth. I accidentally shouted “You fucking shitstained cunt” at a pregnant woman the other day when she made me giver her my seat. Now I will be able to spit expletives and not fel guilty.

The bird itself looks pretty stupid, I can see why they all got butchered. Looks like Pat Butcher to me.

"Yes I frickin' do!"

"Ere. who you calling a bustard" etc

I had a terrible dream last night. My mum sent me her head in a box, I presume as an ornament of some sort. I opened it and my initial joy was replaced by dread. “But you can’t have a spare head” I said to Esther in horror. Next scene- at my parents house. I am sick with grief. “Where is she?” I ask my dad shakily.

“In the loft” he points up to the top of the house. That’s where her body is stashed, with the dank papers and dust laden webs.

I start to sob. It;s one of those dreams where you wake up and you’ve been crying in real life.

I should have rung her today to check it wasn’t true. I presume dad would have let me know at some point if it was.

"Dear Mother, as promised 'how to get ahead in the music biz'. Yours, Thom"

Just had a phonecall from BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are. Apparently, their research shows that I am not the God of Hellfire, as I had previously thought. I must have ice cream.

"I Know Who I Aren't. Thanks for nothing"