On Being an Asshole

Esther & Lisa have become obsessed with a self help guru who looks like an evil albino magician. I came back from work the other day to find them mumbling his mantra over and over again:

“I am independent of the opinions, either good or bad, of others…”

Bit of a complex sentence, I thought, bit of a clumsy clause in the middle there. It’ll never take off.

evil albino magician

Evil Albino Magician


‘Does this coat look alright?’ I ask Esther the next morning as I get ready for work.

‘You are independent of the opinions, either good or bad, other others,’ she says.

‘Ok,’ I say, ‘But just for this moment I choose to listen to your opinion.’

‘That’s not how it works,’ says Esther, ‘The only thing that matters is what you think.’

Which is why I spent a day in the wrong coat. What a horrible day.

I get back from work to find Esther & Lisa in deep discussion.

‘It’s so hard to be an asshole,’ Esther is saying, ‘I need to try harder.’

Lisa guffaws.

‘I can’t believe you just said that. You are an asshole,’ Lisa says, ‘It comes naturally to you.’

‘What’s going on?’ I ask, ‘Why are we talking in American?’

‘We’re People-Pleasers,’ says Esther, ‘We have to learn how to be Assholes.’

‘What does that mean?’

‘Well the video says you have to go into Starbucks and take ages choosing your coffee until a big queue has formed behind you. Really make everyone wait and don’t act apologetic at all.’

‘God that is asshole behaviour,’ I say, ‘I don’t like that at all.’

‘That’s why we’ve got to do it,’ Esther says, ‘We need to care less what people think.’


The following morning, I was so stressed, I thought my head was going to explode Scanners-style. I’d changed what I was wearing for the fifth time (independence of the opinions of others sucks) and then ran to the busstop. As the bus was about to deposit me at City campus ON TIME, I happened to check my diary FOR THE FIRST TIME to find it was a 9am start at THE OTHER CAMPUS.

I legged it across town to the busstop for buses going back the same way. As the bus crawled along, and I watched the seconds tick past 9am, my head began to feel like it was popping. I need something soothing I thought, something lovely and calm.

Q: What’s the most relaxing music in the whole wide world?

And so I googled ‘that music from the Shipping Forecast’ and binged on Ronald Binge’s Sailing By, eyes closed. The trouble with that is that Esther & I had a spate of using the Shipping Forecast to send us to sleep, Sailing By being the lullaby that one of us had to turn off, finally drowsy and heavy-armed, at the end. (Clue: It was always me.)

Dragging myself out of the departure lounge of snoozeland was enough to make me really grumpy and so I ran to the other campus full of the joys of hell.

‘I’m getting a damn coffee,’ I told myself, ‘nobody can stop me.’

It was ten past 9 as I ran up the back stairs, taking huge John Cleese strides and gurning in frustration. As I rounded the corner flailing and gnashing, I realised there was a man sat at the top, watching me.

‘Just getting my legs to work’ I said and then laughed enough for the both of us.

Of course, what I was really doing was Being An Asshole.


My social IQ is 50; what’s your excuse?

"All my multiple personalities are idiots"

As luck would have it, my greatest skill in life is in making life less skillful.

Yesterday I had a phonecall, which reverted to NATO’s phonetic alphabet (beloved of bobbies and geeks) with foolish consequences. Why she couldn’t make sense of my usual phone slurring I’ll never know, but we started to speak in letters and then words-for-letters. I don’t know the phonetic alphabet, so I made up my own. “Bezelbub, Electric” I said with trepidation. “Bravo, Echo?” she corrected hesitantly. “Figaro?” I added. “No, not Figaro” she said with confusion, “send me an email”.

I also had to call Amazon that day, because I have ordered 15 books to go to my old house. By mistake of course, I’m not that perverse.

It seems I will have to wait for them to be sent back before being refunded and re-ordering them to be re-delivered the correct address. All except one book, which is out of print. She won’t tell me which one.

“Which one is out of print?” I ask

“Err, the Chris Kraus book” she says after some hesitation.

I scan down the list of orders, and see “I LOVE DICK” by Miss Kraus. Why did it have to be that one? I think about possibly coming up with a story about why I am not like that. Truth be told, I can’t remember why I ordered it. I think it looked ‘interesting’.

Thinking back, I wish I’d probed a little more;

“What’s the book called? I can’t quite recall it…”

“Erm, I Love…Richard”

“Oh, I don’t remember that title…” followed by a Sid James guffaw…

"Wycliffe can't speak Spanish"- Hips

In other news, I’m just like Shakira. My hips don’t lie; I just can’t pretend to be skinny anymore.

But, neither do my hips say sorry. I just went to the shop to get some stodge. On the way out, I was bottlenecked with 2 young women coming into the shop.

“Sorry” I said automatically, and backed up. Really, I was being chivalrous and should have barged through in the name of equality.

As the front one walked past me I found myself pushing past, and somehow managed to flip her into the magazine shelf with my hip.

“Oh!” she yelped in shock. I had crossed the boundary into her personal space and not only that but touched her. I mean, ugh!

I seem to have that reaction. On the first day of high school I sat down for the first time in my form class, to be met by “Ewww!” as the girl nearest me pushed herself away in revulsion. Ah, school days. Truly the best time of my life-if best has reversed its meaning and now means abject shitiness.

“Sorry” I said again, only this time it was my moral duty. I daren’t look behind me because no doubt both the girl and the viewing shopkeeper were giving me the evils.

As I left the shop, I think I even added another “sorry” under my breathe; this final one was for generally being alive. I affected the rolling gait of a generic cripple just in case, to make it seem that it was my body that was impolite, not my mind. Regular readers will know this is not true.

I have just returned again from a shop- this time however, things went relatively smoothly. I am catching my breathe and looking down on the 2 comatose, puffy faced girls in MY bed- the sisters and their snoozing takes priority. There must be something in this genetics lark, because they are both facing the same way with the same arm draped across their fronts. I imagine the same daft puppies are lolloping around in their dreams too. So bitter and jaded on the outside; so pathetically girly within.

Earlier, we were talking about holidays this summer. Correction: I am remaining mute and listening, having used all my chitchat ability up for the day keeping up with the nattering of the two sisters in the first half hour of their getting together.

“I want to go to Berlin” says Lisa, with a voice and expression that would make Guardian readers reach for their credit cards with one hand while continuing to whip themselves over Third World poverty with the other.
“It’s rubbish” says Esther. “It’s just like Sheffield except everywhere smells of cowpats and everyone speaks German”.
“Oh” says Lisa. “Isn’t it beautiful?”
“Isn’t it full of amazing cool people?” asks Lisa
“No, they’re all old and ugly”

I have left Esther in  charge of sorting out our holiday this year. So far, she has found a weekend on a barge on Sheffield canal for £1000.

Kill me now.


Boring, ugly and annoyingly cute

"When do I get to be the remote?" "Never"

Esther is flicking through the TV channels. Just as I get to see what is on, it gets whisked away. It’s twisting my melon something rotten.
“I can’t stand to watch lottery winners” she snarls. “Or golfers.”

She goes right up to channel 100 on the digibox, and works back down to number one. Before starting again.

“Actually, I hate everyone” she grunts and the TV is whipped onto standby.

I suddenly feel world weary too, and try to come up with a list of people who would be put to death if I was king:

  1. Happy people
  2. People who hog remote controls
  3. Rich people
  4. Conservatives
  5. Religious people
  6. People who believe in capital punishment

You see it’s hard for someone like me whose primary emotion is schadenfreude. Life feels like one big School Reunion.

I decided to wear my hair slicked back last week for the first time. It’s kind of counter-intuitive since I have a receding hairline, but what the hell. I don’t know what I’m emulating- maybe Christian Bale in American Psycho. Maybe a spiv. I got on the bus today and without realising it sat right next to an OAP with the same hairstyle. I did a double-take. He had a similar summer preppy outfit on too. And he got off the same stop as me. Interesting.

"Wanna buy a second hand toilet roll?"

Lisa is really depressed today. She is sitting around our kitchen table chain smoking and groaning involuntarily. her misery only ended when Dom came round with a giant lighter as a present. It’s a foot long and actually works, until I broke it. Luckily Dom managed to fix it before Lisa started crying. Lisa has an obsession with massive and miniature scale things.

After each meal, she creates a miniature version of it to feed Devo: a tiny piece of roast potato with a cube of steak and a green bean balanced on top.

She had a dream last week which seemed really normal until some giants walked past the bus she was on.

“Who are they?” she trembled.

“Oh, they’re the Other People” said a fellow passenger nonchalantly.

‘How could I not have known about the Other People?’ Lisa thought with horror. What else don’t I know about?

“I’m really scared that me and Dom will be shrunk, and on our way up to your house some drunk people will capture us and put us in their pockets and take us to the pub to show people” Lisa admitted.

Today we were talking about how cute things make us happy.

“I can’t believe how small mice are” thrills Esther.

“I wish I could put them in bumblebee suits” chuckles Lisa in a day dream.

"Leave me bee"

I’m doing the beetroot workout

"surely not?"

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

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

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

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

"Having exercised, I must go into hiding"

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

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

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

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

Nothing comes to mind.

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

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

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

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

“Quick, say something funny” thinks Lisa aloud.

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

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

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

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

Front bottoms, mostly

"No, not that wonderful urge, this one..."

I have the sudden urge to press my willy against the mouse pad on the macbook. I hold it there till Esther sees, and screams. As I let off a low, satisfied belly laugh that wobbles the laptop and the sausage squashed atop, a banshee wail rips out of her horrified mouth.
“Oh dooooonnnnnn’ttttt! That’s like me putting my fanny juices all over the computer!!!” squeals Esther.
“No it’s not, it’s dry” I reason.
“It’s not! It’s always sticky and horrible” says Esther as if she can remember the last time she touched it.

I’m looking for a picture of a sausage on a computer to go with this story. “What do you call that bit where I put my willy?” I ask “When I Google ‘mousepad’, it just comes up with the thing you put your mouse on…” (Duh!).

“I don’t know” she grunts grumpily, “the dickpad?”

I take Safesearch off (the culinder which catches all the genitalia gushing through the internet) but strangely I can’t find a picture of anyone else with their willy on a mousepad thingy. Surely I can’t be the only one?

I am getting fat. I can tell because of 2 recent developments:

1. I have ripped the ass area of 3 pairs of trousers in the last month

2. All of a sudden, my balls are constantly being crushed between my monster thighs when I walk.

Now I am getting massive chafing there. I have started going to the gym, and I have to go commando to stop it getting worse. I went yesterday and now I can hardly walk. I think I need to buy a posing pouch to winch my balls out of trouble.

"dog guarded codpiece"

Esther has decided to go on a diet now.

But of course, she can’t just be normal. She has developed her own telepathic diet. She only eats “what my brain tells me to”.

This means that while me and Lisa munch on chocolate brownies, she emerges from the kitchen with lettuce and some garlic sausage.

“Your brain is suspiciously healthy” challenges Lisa.

Esther tastes the sausage quizzically. “Hmm, I just want the lettuce actually” she decides. My brain wants cake, and a pudding with every meal. What’s up with that?

“My wife’s so depressed, she reads Russian novels for light relief “

Esther wants to kill herself.

“Change the record” I groan. But inside my tummy goes tight and I can’t think straight. This happens every few weeks. She starts off by saying;
“Life is shit”
And I say, “No it’s not…is it?” because I am a weak optimist who doubts my own feelings in the face of other people’s declarations of belief.

For example, if Lisa or Dom say they hate a film I love, I start to think ‘actually it was a bit shit and why have I got such bad taste?’

Next, I try to question her. “Is it really?” I say, hoping she’ll say. “Yeah. Only kidding. Let’s go do stuff”. Instead, she says;
“Yes it is. What have I got to live for?” she adds with weary resignation. This is a rhetorical question, because as I start to think through the options;

  1. Food
  2. Sex
  3. Socialising
  4. Career/Achievements
  5. Shopping
  6. Getting wasted

I realise that Esther is not capable of enjoying ANY of these because it either involves her worst fear (people), or it is drained of all pleasure to someone completely numb of feeling like Esther is (sex: typical quote, when I try to grab her ass; “why should you enjoy my body when I can’t?”).

In fact, life has no saving graces seen through her bottle-top monochrome glasses, and I can’t help but doubt my own thoughtless enjoyment. I like;

  1. Eating
  2. Listening to music
  3. Keeping up with pop culture (movies, music videos, fashion)
  4. Wearing nice clothes
  5. Getting drunk
  6. Feeling attractive
  7. Receiving praise
  8. Pet orgies

But if I really think about each of these, I am just trying to scrape together some short-lived and essentially damaging self esteem from other people/animals- I am just doing stuff that feeds my insecurities and negative sense of self worth, and I always come a cropper.

I comfort eat and drink to feel socially adept, I worry about my appearance because I am vain and I need people to like me to feel good about myself, I keep up with culture because I am under the delusion that I am still young enough to matter to that world when in fact, I am over the hill and invisible.
So, yes, Esther wants to kill herself. And I can’t think of one reason why not.

But before she does that, she feels like the only thing she could get any pleasure from is to;

“Seduce men and destroy them completely”

In case you need some rationale, here goes: “I have no life skills. I can’t work, I can’t bring up kids, I can’t do anything useful or productive in society. All I have is my body, and all I can do is make men fancy me. And that’s getting harder too” she says. I don’t have an answer. All the things I take pleasure from are alien to her. But, she doesn’t want to want to do this and neither do I, but what the fuck is there to say?

“You can do it if you want” I say, thinking of death row prisoners and their last meal. Why deny that? If the only possible pleasure in Esther’s life is to play a sad and destructive game and wring some sadistic thrill out of it, should I stop her?

It’s like when she picks her spots, and I get angry and tell her to stop. But then I realise she’s doing it coz it’s the only way to relieve stress, and that it is probably the most fun she’s had all day (“this is the most fun I’ve had all day” she says when I ask her why). So mostly, I just let her pulverise her face.

“No I don’t want to” she says when I give her permission. It must be like being a paedophile. You may not want to want to fuck children, but you can’t help it. To live a good life, that is acceptable to others, you must condemn yourself to a life without pleasure. I pity people who only want what they shouldn’t want. That goes for all the addicts and abusers and psychopaths out there. Your life sucks, and I’m sorry for you.

“I’m sad” Esther says, “I don’t like my life”

The problem is that all the schemes and ideas and motivations I can think of seem like impossible tasks to someone so depressed that they can barely get out of bed. What is the point of doing hard, horrible, stressful things for some vague relief somewhere in the future. What kind of life is it to have to live in constant mental pain just to carry on like normal people do? When do you get to have fun if everything is too hard or too terrifying? What’s the point?

I am reminded at this point of the classic joke formula;

“My wife’s so [insert unpleasant trait here] that she just [insert tragi-comic activity here]”

Let’s have a go;

‘My girlfriend is so depressed that she wants to fuck other boys and kill herself”

Hmm, maybe not funny enough. My favourite is;

“My wife’s so fat, she just sits at home and cries all day”

My days as a stand up are looking increasingly likely, hey?

Bad Head Day

I’m tetchy today.
“What’s up with you now?” asks long-suffering Esther, with barely concealed irritation. Actually, it’s not concealed at all.
“I’m wearing all the wrong clothes” I mutter. I imagined that when I left the house, I would be wearing something understated and quietly elegant, that looks “nice”. Instead, everything feels ill-fitting and uncomfortable. Looking back, I think it’s my brain that’s ill-fitting.

"Does my brain look big in this?"

Everything is annoying me.

“Pathetic little mummy’s boy” I snarl at Devo, who is curled up in luxury on the sofa, gumming Lisa’s dressing gown like a blissful baby. PAH!

Under my breath, I mutter “I wish I could do that”

Babies are lucky bastards. Every need is catered for; every spiky thing is rounded off. How can the rest of life compete with that?

You start off a baby and you end up that way too, said Shakespeare. The older you get, the more you end up needing your bum wiping and your food mashing up for you.

Lisa and Esther are getting utterly despondent about having to clean their Gromy’s house every week.

Last time they went, Lisa said;

“It’s about time for your electric chair, isn’t it?”

What she meant (of course?) was a mobility scooter. But what her Freudian slip meant was a lethal piece of furniture.

Esther and her cousin, Britney, were chatting about Gromy yesterday after tea. Me and her boyf Justin sat in bemused silence.

“I reckon she’ll live to be 100” said Brit,

“If she lives past 100, I’m killing myself” says Esther resolutely. “It’s me or her.”

“Don’t worry, if she reaches 100, I’ll take over” reassures Britney.

After this had been decided, we moved on to ghost stories. The tension is building. We’ve had some high quality tales so far. I decide to mine the rich vein of odd things my mum has told me.

“My mum once slept in a hotel built on a Victorian pet cemetery”, I start,

“But she didn’t find that out till the morning after her dream…”

I am forced to abandon the story because everyone is laughing at me. I try a new one.

“Oh, and she saw the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in the park near her dad’s house…Oh, wait, it was only one of them…”

I have to abandon that one too. These are meant to be scary not funny, god-damn-it. I give up.

I am temporarily distracted by The Whistling Man of Sharrowvale. Every so often, when me and Esther are sat in bed, we hear a funny repeated whistle out there in the street. First of all, we assumed it was a little old man who was too shy to call his dog by name, and was whistling his pet in for the night. How sweet, we thought.

However, I saw him a few days later and he is a young, blonde haired, sporty man that walks along and whistles sharply and nervously every 30 seconds along the way.

Esther has decided that he has Whistle Tourettes. Now we know this, it is really tempting to whistle back and see what happens.

I think she has Thought Tourettes- she just can’t stop thinking out loud. It really is a problem.