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.

Boring and Ugly: Slaves, Sweatshops and Stupid Comments


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love YouTube comments:

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

and

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

and

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

Militant in Meadowhall


"I just don't know who I am anymore"

Just got back from Meadowhall. I wanted to buy some self esteem at any price. But all I got was half price narcissism and 33% extra free self loathing. And some socks n that.

I saw lots of people who I can only describe as consistent. Chavs, Emos, wannabe WAGs, Goth-Lite, Emo-Chav. They all knew who they were (on the outside at least): they had the uniform sorted out, no mistakes.
In comparison I feel like a style Frankenstein, with odd bits from different eras stuck together, with no conception of a whole. I want a fucking uniform.


"I'm a vewy angwy young man"

I have tried being militant but it always goes awry. I’m really jealous of Christians and Young Socialists and Goths who can turn off their brains and follow a code regardless of how ridiculous and/or anachronistic it is.
First I had a rule that everything I bought that wasn’t food had to come from a charity shop. This meant that I became obsessed with Help the Aged’s special book and record shop. I used to go nearly every day and finger through the vinyl in the hope of spotting a record from the infinite ‘must have’ list in my head. This was compiled from overhearing middle-aged men talking in the pub, and from middle aged men writing in The Guardian.
I would buy a record, let’s say ‘The Clash’ and take it home, my hands shaking in trepidation. Here was a cultural relic; a touchstone, and I could feel the angst of a generation fizzing under my fingertips. I’d put it on and brace myself- I’m enjoying this, I’d tell myself. This is a GOOD album. Other people say so. There are more of them than me. I can picture them all, rocking in agreement.
So here’s my shock confession. I hate the Clash. I don’t like reggae so why would I want a shitty white boy version of it. Plus they have no style. The Sex Pistols win hands down, for their ugliness, ambition and also their pop. Write a proper song Strummer! Oh wait, you’re dead.

"I is a WASTA"

Sheffield seems to be populated by Men Who Like The Clash. Everywhere you go there’s someone who’s personality was hard wired by White Riot or London Calling. It’s like some fucking Masonic society- get over it! Like Scroobius Pip eloquently said “ The Clash? just a band”


You wouldn’t have caught Paul Simenon, Strummer or the other one advertising I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter (it would have to be the bitter rival of Anchor, for old time’s sake). Some people say Johnny Rotten is a sell out- but that only means something if you’re still clinging onto the idea that punk can change the world- but after ‘I Wish I was A Punk Rocker with Flowers in my Hair’ how can you think the message is still getting through?

That’s like singing I Wish I Wore My Klan Outfit to the Notting Hill Carnival. How can someone get it so wrong?

“In ’77 and ’69 revolution was in the air
I was born to late to a world that doesn’t care
I wish I was a punk rocker with flowers in my hair”

What we lack as a generation is context. You know, that crucial bit of extra knowledge that makes everything make sense. The past has been reduced to a pick ‘n’ mix, a jumble of possible styles and causes you can choose to dress in. So it makes sense that old Sandi could lump hippies and punks together because Topshop does too. Who cares if one advocated nothingness and destruction (no future), while the other wanted a universal conscientiousness (a utopian future)? History has become a Sale Rail of symbols. Why believe in anything any more?

I’m basically a trash whore, a music pansy, a soft lad.

I made myself buy the so-called classic albums because I have no taste of my own you see. I am a vessel, filled by other people’s likes and dislikes. If I am asked about something I should know about, let’s say The Godfather I-III, I have to apologise profusely and take my red cheeks elsewhere. Or else pretend. But that gets me into trouble. To escape the tedium of shaking my head at the many things I don’t know about, I have taken to throwing a few “yeah’s” and nods in. But then comes the more detailed interrogation, sorry, conversation, where you have to say what bits you enjoyed the most and give an opinion about its worth. This is where I am left stuttering.

Twenty Eleven


Hello. This is a new year. From here, it looks grey, cold, dead, boring and ugly.
A couple of hours ago, I became obsessed with listening to this song, and could not rest until I heard it:

It is perhaps the best song in the world and all others pale into insignificance when it plays. I suddenly want to become glittery and homoerotic when I hear it. It is about beauty and sex and decadence and the end of the fucking world.

Lady Gaga kept us all hanging on for her ‘big’ Twitter announcement on the stroke of midnight.

"Keys, purse, Fisherman's Friends? Check. Trousers? Oh..."

I will have gone off her by then.

 

And something else bugs me: In the press conference for JOANNA YEATES somebody said “She bought a pizza before she went home. Did she eat the pizza?”

Amazingly banal, and the police brushed it off, but I REALLY WANT TO KNOW.

 

It’s just really annoying that people think they can go around killing people, isn’t it? Who gave them the right. Goddammit. Nasty murdering types, got no morals or sense of decency.

 

You see, as a species, we are naturally anti-social schmucks. We want to go around murdering, raping and being general rotters to other people. Law and government has to try to put a cap on that. We have to suppress our APE traits and accentuate the CIVILISED, SMARMY TRAITS  that make us different from other animals. But the messy animal behaviour is constantly on the verge of spilling over.

 

But, to end in a more positive note, DNA tests have just proved that Richard Gere is a guinea pig.

Delete as appropriate: Boring and/or Ugly 11


Dec 22nd

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

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

(1) a unibrow,

(2) a beard, and

(3) a moustache.

Quite fetching, don't you think?

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

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

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

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

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

Dec 24th


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

Risque circa 1962

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unsent letter #2:


Dear Marina Diamandis,
Should my girlf ever leave me, I would like to forewarn you that I will be calling at your house, and begging you to leave that suave singer from Hurts for an unintentionally funny life of mediocrity with me.
Yours in anticipation,
Vienna x

Note to self: Hmm, perhaps too many kisses? She’s bound to turn me down if I act over-eager.

BORING ET UGLY IX


Dec 15th


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

Mary Whitehouse

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

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

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

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

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

Artist's impression of the Australian disaster

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

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

 

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

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

It’s all going to pot.

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

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

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

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

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

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

confused.com

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

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

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

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

May as well be called 'krack'

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

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

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

The start of a new horror franchise...