Boring, Ugly and Ill as Sin


DEC 26th


Ugh. So ill today, like I’ve been drinking STRYCHNINE. My stomach is bruised. One nostril whistles like an icy cave on a mountaintop.
Esther goes to do family things, and I stay in bed. “Have you got money on your phone so I can text you and say ‘Baby, what are you doing now?’” I ask.
“Hmm” she replies. As well as being rubbish at Public Displays of Affection (PDAs), she is incapable of Text Affection (TAs).
I think ‘right, now I am going to find some real porn. This will cheer me up’. Halfway through a shower scene I feel really sick and have to go to sleep. The sound of sticky balls slapping against bumcheeks haunts my dreams, like some feverish jungle drumbeat that goes faster and faster as I am burned alive.

"Please can we at least hold hands?"

Esther goes to her parents for a family meal. After a couple of hours, she texts saying, “This is horrible. I want to come home”. This is as near to a TA as I’m likely to get, but I must not get excited. I text her back some alibi “I feel poorly and I need you to come back”.
An hour later, she’s back. “Jesus” she says, letting out air, “That was like being with the Royle family, only it’s not as fun if you’re actually there.”
“What happened?” I ask.
“Mum went crazy because she couldn’t find the special spoon she’d got to serve the trifle. She screamed ‘I can’t have any lovely trifle if I don’t have that knife’ and couldn’t be consoled”. Time to leave.

"I don't know what you're smiling at, you've just ruined pudding!"

I’ve just finished All Families Are Psychotic by Douglas Coupland. I don’t think I want to read anything by him ever again because he depresses the shit out of me. If you can’t be American, rich and happy, there’s no hope for any of us.

A sample:
Wade thought about his father. What would the world have to offer Ted Drummond, and the men like him, a man whose usefulness to the culture had vanished somewhere around the time of Windows 95?

Slit my wrists now please.

And:
I believed the script I was handed. And then one day in the early 1980s I hit a red light in North Vancouver and ding! I understood that I was now forever in life’s minus columns and the plus column was over.

The only thing that makes me carry on reading is because it sounds exotic to a lower middle class British suburbanite like me.

Hmm let’s see what would happen if we transported it to, let’s say, Rotherham or Stoke on Trent. Here’s how the novel starts:

Janet opened her eyes. – Florida’s prehistoric glare dazzled outside the motel window. A dog barked; a car honked; a man was singing a snatch of Spanish song. She absentmindedly touched the scar from the bullet wound beneath her left rib cage.

Here’s the grime remix:

Tracey opened her eyes- South Yorkshire’s grey smog hung thickly outside the dirty double-glazed window of the Sally Army hostel. A dog yelped as its Big Issue vendor owner kicked it; a car revved and ‘music’ that made her bowels move penetrated the room; a crazy man was shouting the names of God’s favourite meals. She absentmindedly touched the half-eaten scab from the Tenants Super can slash beneath her third belly fold.

I have been floored by this LIVE AID ’85 documentary
I am actually crying now because I miss the optimism of Bob Geldof, who really believed that he could change something about the world with some bands.
Why can it never be recreated? Because we no longer have the optimism. We have gone from a ‘WE’ decade to a ‘WHO AM I’ epoch, a ‘WHY?’ era.

The Darkness, Jamelia, Dido, Travis and Ms Dynamite. They sure knew how to pick ’em for posterity!

Note to self: It’s one of the Mysteries of the World, Rowan Atkinson’s transformation from sexy bastard as Black Adder to sexless geek Mr Bean. Perhaps I too can go from the latter to the former?

We take poverty, disease and misery for granted. We have become ‘compassion fatigued’, brought up by the generation that had the last sense of purpose: a viable future. Our inheritance is apathy. There’s bad shit out there, but we can’t do owt about it. May as well get fucked.

I feel cheated. Did I ever believe in anything?
I used to love animals- but only to collect books about them like a colonial hoarder.
I used to believe in vegetarianism, and I was brought up to feel deep empathy for animals, our house was full of them. But I don’t feel that anymore. I can stuff my face with meat with only a tinge of guilt, not enough to put me off.

I feel love for every single band that sang at live aid. Such decadent faith and belief would be instantly cut down by the bitter chavs of cynicism now.
Fundraising has been hijacked- the ‘Live Aid effect’ is one of many styles available to ad companies to flog iPads or car insurance or Nokia phones.
People cared about the Falklands War, about the first Iraq War, about the future, about other people. Now we don’t give a flying fuck. We’ve still got some people who act all earnest- socialists and feminists and Tories. But underneath, everyone is status-driven but blank, vacant, inert like some suavely-jacketed potato. Bollocks.

The only answer is to refuse to answer, to say ‘no comment’.

80s pop is life affirming. Noughties pop is bitter, angry and botoxed.
Compare:

With:

One’s fun to look at and fun to hear, the other is kind of traumatic to watch, (though) fun on the ear. The cartoon shizzle injects some black humour into a prison-rape-murder movie. Don’t girls just wanna have good clean fun no more?

Right.

I’ve just taken 2 ibuprofen and 2 paracetamol now, so the wet cheeked inelegant gushing part of my illness should soon subside, and I will be able to feel no sadness or joy. I will become how I am at my natural state. Merely existing.

As I try to sleep, I can hear the pets snoring (Linda a high pitched nasal snort, Goldie an almost human ‘pufff’). I can hear Esther letting out long breaths of pent up worry.
I am left with the memory of 2 things from today in this darkened room. The sight of a skinny teenage boy with an unusually large and girthy cock, fucking a teenage girl in a shower where the water isn’t running. She looks like she’s sat on an uncomfortable fence waiting for the bus. I think I lost a bit of my soul watching it. The balls go ‘slap, slap, slap-slap, slap-slap, slap, slap’ against her arse and the camera zooms round from a balls-eye-view to a front view of this girl who is kind of unsure where to look. ‘Right’ she seems to think, ‘I’d better make out that I’m really enjoying this’ and she does the whole eyes closed, gasp routine. I get bored and fast forward the video-suddenly they are out of the shower, sat on the toilet and his huge cock seems no nearer to coming. Jesus. Why choose this location? It’s like fucking in a bus shelter or a bank queue- and all I can think is ‘why isn’t the shower on?’ and ‘Does straddling the toilet make either of them need a poo?’ These are non-places (Auge)- they look the same everywhere you go, they are purely functional, where we spend most of our time, but where we spend the least time personalising.
The sound of slapping testicles mixes in my head with the slow-mo footage of starving Ethiopian babies, their stomachs swollen in the ridiculous illusion of obesity, and their tear stained faces covered in dirt and flies. “Give me your money,” shouts a dishevelled Bob Geldof, slamming his hand down on the table.
Slap slap slap. Should I groan now? Ok, ‘aaah’ ‘oooh’. “Fuck this, pick up the phone now and give me your money” Bob growls.
I want to cry for the loss of innocence in both films- the faces in front of the cameras look strangely confused, as if asked to perform something embarrassing in front of a stranger.
What would Bob Geldof be like in bed? An angry young man, pummelling away until he’s satisfied, cursing you as a capitalist whore? Paula Yates could have told us.

"Wouldn't you like to know"

Not a Cure for insomnia: turned the TV on to watch Medium- about a woman who every time her heads hits the pillow is transported to some psycho’s head and has to save someone from certain death. A walking advert for staying up all night. We may all want to be good Samaritans, but if we were forced into the role permanently, we’d go apeshit in a short while.
The 80s had Miami Vice- the Noughties had Misfits. Is one more honest or truthful than the other? Was Miami Vice escapist fluff, and Misfits (and Inbetweeners) is the gritty, shitty truth of our times? Are they merely signs that we’ve plummeted from a time of sexy optimism to one of bitchy pessimism and sarcasm? Or that feminism and identity politics have deflated the masculine ego in culture, and it’s no longer believable to be so happy and full of yourself? Life is shit and you’re a chauvinist pig if you don’t think so?

The pain is lifting like steam from piss…

 

Answers on a stolen postcard please, I’m currently indisposed.

 

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.

How to use your kitchen to help you choose a retro slang phrase for the day:


"Actually, you look more like cauliflower"

1. Lay like broccoli (Pretty Woman)

2. Make like a banana and split (©Vienna Famous 2010)

3. Like butter wouldn’t melt

4. You say potato, I say potato. This one only makes sense when spoken in different accents

5. You got any dough?

6. Peachy

7. You’re the apple of my eye. No darling, that’s a cataract.

8. Apples and pears. Does anyone actually speak cockney, or is it a myth made up for tourists?

9. Now we’re cookin’ on gas. A personal favourite, obviously predating the microwave.

10. My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard (Kelis). Sorry I don’t speak innuendo…

11. I should coco(a)

12. Honey pie

13. Something’s fishy around here

14. The milk of human kindness. Semi-skimmed? (See no.10)

15. Sweet like chocolate (Shanks and Bigfoot)/Sweet Like Tropicana (Dizzee Rascal)

Just you try it!

16. Let’s play hide the sausage! No, I have never used this one.

17. I’m gonna make mincemeat out of you!

18. Egg on your face, big disgrace (Queen)

19. Hey honey! Yes, sugar…?

20. Chocolate Rain

BORING AND UGLY 6


Bad Santa

Nov 30th: Santa’s Bleedin’ Grotto

For 8 months, I’ve had to walk round the shitty Sheffield Eye to get to my busstop. It’s not as if there’s anything to see up there, apart from grey stuff drenched in rain. And apparently, we only got it because York (that cultural capital of the mid-North) turned their nose up at it. It’s not even a hand-me-down because at least the first in line uses it first. It’s a NIMBY. But it hardly ever stopped going round. Who paid £6.50 for an elevated view of the chav hordes? Just take the T. K. Maxx lift. Anyway, so they finally dismantled it, presumably to pass it down sibling-style to the next runt in line- Bradford or Skegness or somewhere.


I think; Ah, finally, I can see if there’s a bus waiting at the stop and run to catch it. Nope.

Because now they’ve built a sodding behemoth of a fake Christmas tree there. Santa’s hollow-tree Grotto has a little mock-log cabin ticket office where you fork out £4 frickin’ 50 for the pleasure of perching on some alcoholic’s knee and getting a wrapped-up McDonald’s Happy Meal toy. Out of my fucking way Santa, my need to go home RIGHT NOW is REAL unlike your sad-sack polyester beard.

It’s a Snow Day today. You think I’m happy? I’m terrified of having nothing to do. At least when I’m at work I get swept along in the stress of it all and time kind of bleeds out. Time flies when your mind is numb.

But enforced idleness is petrifying. What the fuck does one do when one isn’t at work?

a) ‘The million and one things that you put off all the time’? I was Uk champion in Procrastination for the Nation last 10 years running, I’ll have you know. I got Aldo to pick up the awards though.

b) ‘Think’? God how therapeutic. Puke. The last time I had a good think, I got so morose that I had to eat 3 mini-magnums to feel better. And sicker.

c) ‘Relax’? Frankie never gave very clear instructions about how to do this. Note to self: Write a letter to the remaining band-members asking for clarification.

Dec 1st

Where’s my fucking advent calendar? It’s snowing today, drifts are about a foot deep outside. Did you know that my shoes are a 12 inches long. My feet are a foot. Facts like this make me feel safe. Something makes sense.

No cars are going anywhere, and the gaggle of annoying kids isn’t flowing past the house as usual. The parents have had to entertain them at home, ha ha ha. I’d love to be a fly on the wall: the bleeding heart liberal mummies and daddies around here have given their kids (Flora and Tyger) ADHD and megalomania by giving them everything they ever wanted!

It’s the worst snow for 17 years. Being snowed-in means that people who have no life don’t stand out for once. Everyone has to sit on their arses chain-drinking tea.

I was pretty bored, so I came up with a list of Apps That Should Exist:

"There'a an App for that?"

1. Flower Identifier- Take a photo of a flower and send it to get the name and family and possible uses. I might be the only person in the world who would use this. But I would.

"Respect the Cock, Tame the Cunt"

2. Life Coach- When you’re feeling down, touch a button and get an instant pep talk: “You’re fantastic, you’ve got friends, you succeed at the things that matter, Christ, you made it this far!”. Like Horoscopes, they would need to perform the trick of being applicable to everyone, while seeming being individually tailored for the recipient (“OMG that’s exactly what I was thinking! I need to eat more chocolate and get a new carpet!”).

"I'm feeling a little hoarse"

3. Pun Generator- Can’t think of the right one-liner? Simply enter the word you’re trying to make ‘punny’, then wait for your options. Card writing has never been so easy. Powered by a universal dad’s database which is updated regularly from snippets culled from BBC’s Have Your Say website.

Dec 2nd: Snow Day 2.

We have a lie in. I decide to write a novel. But I write this instead.

Esther woke me up sobbing last night. We had watched ‘The Killer Inside Me’ where Casey Affleck beats the shit out of lover Jessica Alba. While he smashes her face in, he keeps apologising and saying “Don’t worry honey, it will be over soon”, and she doesn’t scream because she loves him. The look on her face is confusion not fear. After she’s dead, he is gutted.

Esther tells Lisa about it today. Lisa is nonplussed: “It’s good to have a bit of trauma. It adds to your personality”.