Thursday, May 16, 2013
Friday, May 10, 2013
Mr. Daniel Surname.
Saturday, April 27, 2013
Wednesday, December 05, 2012
A Mystery #1
Monday, November 05, 2012
I Start A New Job And Have An Awkward Encounter With A Lesbian.
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
I Do Something Breath-Takingly Foolish. Just To Break Things Up A Bit.
Friday, August 31, 2012
It Rains And It Rains.
“Do you think he’s dead?”
It’s not a phrase you often hear at two in the afternoon.
I join the rest of my colleagues at the window on the second-floor of our building.
Me: Christ. How long has he been there?
The rain pounds down, as it seems to have done for the last two months. The city looks set to flood again. Again.
Colleague#1: About half an hour.
We’re looking at a man slumped on the pavement across the street. It’s difficult to see any detail due to the black sky. The rain is so heavy it is also hard to see more than a few feet ahead.
A biblical clap of thunder shakes our windows followed by forks of lightning you only see on specialist satellite television channels. The man does not move.
Me: If I were him I’d have gotten-up by now.
Uncannily Similar: He’s dead.
We’ve all stepped-over bodies on our way into work of a Monday morning. It’s that sort of city. But this is unusual of a Wednesday afternoon. Considering the weather.
Colleague#2: He’s probably a tramp or something.
Colleague#1: Have you seen his trainers? They’re spotless. There’s something badly wrong there.
Thirsty Kirsty: Let’s just go down and have a look.
Fuck it. Yes. Why not.
Me: Right. Come on then you lot.
I grab the nearest umbrella and head for the double-doors that lead to the lift. I dramatically smash them open and turn around to see that everyone is carefully inspecting their fingernails. Like that scene in Jerry Maguire.
Me: Great. Brilliant. Thanks.
I stab the ‘G’ button in the lift with unnecessary vehemence.
The six wide-eyed ladies on reception look at me.
Me: When was the last time that dead bloke across the street moved?
Head Receptionist: Oh God at least forty-five minutes. We don’t know what to do. Somebody passed-by and shook him and he just fell over.
Me: Right. I’ll have a look and if it’s grim we’ll call the paramedics.
H.R: Oh thaaaanks Tired.
Me: Yeah. Ok.
This is bollocks, I think to myself as I cross the street. I was quite happy sneering at my twitter feed and pretending to work. It’s fucking pouring-down out here.
I shake his shoulder. Nothing. He’s as limp as a Rich Tea biscuit that’s been dunked for too long. As my knowledge of rigor-mortis is based on having seen two episodes of Silent Witness I don’t know what this means. But he’s not responsive.
Aware of the dozen pairs of eyes watching me from across the street I shake him a bit harder. He moves his head, thank fuck. And makes a ‘aaampphh’ noise. I’m hit with a blast of raw alcohol.
It’s raining. My sympathies are running low. I shake him some more. Quite roughly now. He is annoyed, from what I can gather. No-one likes rude awakenings, I suppose. Although I’m now quite pissed-off also.
Me: Have you been drinking?
Stupid question, really. He nods a bit. The white trainers were a red-herring – they’re actually filthy, as is the rest of him. Alcohol is not the only stink now apparent. He’s a young man and hasn’t shaved or washed in at least a week.
Me: We need to get you out of the rain, ok? You’re going to get pneumonia.
Despite his unhappiness at been aroused from his slumber I hook an arm under his right armpit and attempt to haul him to his feet. I think of Colleague#2 who plays rugby at weekends and is warm inside and not dealing with someone who could stab me at any moment whilst all nine-skinny-stone of me is out in the rain dealing with this cracker.
Me: Put your feet down. PUT YOUR FEET ON THE GROUND. PUSH UP WITH YOUR LEGS.
It’s fucking pouring down.
Between the two of us I walk him the twenty yards to a small precinct. It contains a Ladbrokes and not much else. He slumps to the ground once more.
Me: Sleep it off, eh?
He’s already unconscious, but at least there’s a roof over his head. I head back to my building and update the Reception ladies.
Me: He’d just had a skinfull.
Reception Ladies: Awww thaaaaanks Tired.
I don’t tell them his drinking binge probably started weeks ago, that any spare food money he had he’s spent on white cider and that it’ll probably be weeks until he stops, at which point he’ll realise he has nothing at all.
I press ‘2’ in the lift and go and wash my hands. I stink.
And it rains and it rains.
Friday, August 17, 2012
Unsavoury Conversations With Taxi-Drivers Part 2
Twelve years later and I’m not late for work but I have just completed a long train journey.
I work in the North-East of England, it’s not a good job, I don’t do well and I live in a terraced house I can barely afford – small back yard, tiny garden, shitty kitchen, all that – and I’m penniless soon after I’m paid.
I grab a taxi outside the station. I’ve just travelled several hundred miles to the South-West and I’m not keen on the fifteen-minute walk to my lodgings.
Random Taxi Driver: FUCK ME! BEEN A WHILE. WHERE YOU OFF TO?
He’s one of those over-familiar sorts who pretend to know everyone. Brilliant.
Me: I’ve forgotten the street name. If you go to Name Pub, take a left up the hill and that’s it.
RTD: THAT’S IT, PAL – IF YOU KNOW WHERE IT IS, I’LL FUCKING GET YOU THERE!
That’s now two ‘fuck’s in as many minutes, it’s all a bit unsavoury and I’ve had a long day already.
RTD: STILL AT THE PAPER ARE YOU, CHIEF?
How does he know where I worked twelve years ago? And why is he speaking in Caps Lock?
I stare at the side of his face. It’s only bloody John The Taxi, isn’t it?
I try and figure-out the chances of this. It’s a small town in the South-West so I suppose it is quite likely.
Me: No, I left a few years ago. Moved away as well.
John The Taxi: FUCK ME. THOUGHT IT HAD BEEN A WHILE. HOW LONG, YOU RECKON?
Me: About twelve years I think.
JTT: [Briefly hitting the brakes] TWELVE FUCKING YEARS? USED TO LIVE IN THAT BIG HOUSE, YEAH? WITH THE FUCKING PRIVATE CARPARK, YEAH? WHERE YOU MOVED TO THEN?
Me: Christ could you just watch- Erm. Back up North.
JTT: WHAT YOU BACK HERE FOR, THEN?
Me: Well, I have a son and a daughter now. They live here. Me and their mother didn’t make it, she moved back here, so, you know….
JTT: [Briefly hitting the brakes] HOLD ON! WHERE YOU STAYING? NOT FUCKING WITH HER FOR FUCK’S SAKE?
Me: Really, could you just watch before you do that? The road, I mean. Behind us…I just want to get there in one piece.
JTT: YOU AIN’T FUCKING STAYING WITH HER THOUGH?
Me: Ah, no.
JTT: THANK FUCK FOR THAT. YOU DON’T WANT TO GO DOWN THAT FUCKING ROAD, CHIEF. TAKE IT FROM ME. FUCK.
Me: Ok, then.
I don’t ask him to elaborate. This is, after all, a man who prefers a bowel movement to actual sexual intercourse. God only knows what stories he has to tell.
JTT: FUCK. ANYWAY, HERE WE ARE THEN.
Me: Yeah, ah, thanks.
JTT: TWELVE FUCKING YEARS!
It’s like that scene in Grosse Point Blank but without the inherent likeability of all involved.
Me: Ah. Yes. Eight quid? It’s been five minutes. That's gone up.
JTT: Everything changes.
Monday, August 06, 2012
Unsavoury Conversations With Taxi-Drivers, Part 1.
I work at my local newspaper in the South-West of England, it’s a good job, I do well and I live in a nice house – acres of grounds, stables, pool table, double-oven Aga, all that – and I always have a few hundred pounds spare at the end of each month.
I call John The Taxi.
John The Taxi: OH YOU’VE DONE IT AGAIN HAVEN’T YOU?! TEN MINUTES MAAATE.
John The Taxi always spoke in Caps Lock.
I tumble into his taxi, still faffing with tie and cuff-links.
John The Taxi: BIG NIGHT AGAIN WAS IT, EH?
A few minutes pass. It becomes clear that, this morning, John The Taxi is auditioning for an imaginary part in a reboot of the Cannonball Run films.
Me: Actually John, I’m not in THAT much of a hurry. I don’t mind being late, I just fancy being alive. You can ease-off a bit.
JTT: Thing is, I’m desperate for a shit.
JTT: Do you know what the funny thing is? I’m looking forward to it, if I can hold on in time to get to the lav. In many ways –
Time stands still for a brief moment as the cosmos prepares itself for the wisdom of John The Taxi.
JTT: In many ways I prefer a good shit to a fuck.
JTT: Here we are then.
Me: Two minutes, John.
I tumble out of the car and into the reception area of my building, the domain of Difficult Penny.
Me: I need ten quid out of petty cash for my taxi. I’ll replace it at lunch.
Difficult Penny: What if I say no?
Me: He’s about to shit himself.
Difficult Penny: Just this once.
Monday, July 09, 2012
I Do The Washing-Up. (Warning: Contains Violence and Also Partial Nudity. The Nudity Is From The Ankles-Down, But Still.)
Monday, May 14, 2012
Confrontation In The Cotswolds.
Saturday, April 21, 2012
A Month And A Half.
I suppose I had better write something. I've been emailed asking what I'm doing and everything.
By one person but it still counts.
I've wracked my brains and the thing is...well, nothing much has happened. So, we're going to get all, like, interactive and shit as I briefly mention some tedious events of the past few weeks and all six of my readers can cast a vote as to which they would like to become an actual proper blog post.
I know. Amazing.
This is what I've got:
1) It seems I have a broken toe.
2) I attempt to travel the length of England by train despite realising ten minutes before departure that my tickets are only valid for the previous day.
3) My house is broken-into in the middle of the night, whilst I am at home - hilarity does not ensue.
4) I 'am involved in' an absurd confrontation in a fast-food outlet in the Cotswolds. By 'am involved in' I mean 'foolishly provoke'.
And that's been it, to be honest. Eight weeks. I may as well not exist.
Not included in the list are -
A) Bitter-sweet snatched moments with my son and daughter about which I write mawkish posts. Let's face it, we'll all sick of those.
B) 'Amusing' observations about how, like, working relationships are a bit like, you know, ACTUAL romantic ones - featuring myself and Blonde Colleague. It wasn't a very funny joke to begin with and no-one seemed to 'get it' and just thought we were going to have some sort of affair or something and didn't fully appreciate the totally hilarious irony inherent in my amazingly brilliant writing. So enough of that. Blame yourselves.
That's it I think. Cast your votes.
(Hint: not the 'broken toe' thing. It's really not that interesting.)
Saturday, March 03, 2012
I Am Nearly Undone By An E-Book Reader Or Whatever They’re Called.
Blonde Colleague is on the phone to her mother or boyfriend or someone.
Blonde Colleague: …What? [Glances sideways at me] No, he’s being a wanker. Eh? Well, you know that new kid, Liam? Aye. The one he really hates. So, I was on a training course with him the other day and we got chatting and that and he seemed …what? Oh, I don’t know, he hates everyone. Anyway, he seemed really ok – no, this Liam kid - and I mentioned it to Tired and now he’s not talking to me. Seriously. Eh? Dunno, his period’s due or something. It’s been nearly two days …What? Ok, talk to you later, love ya.
I continue staring straight ahead.
B.C: [sigh] It’s lunchtime. Coming for a cigarette?
Me: [Looking around with fake astonishment] Mmm? Who? Me? Tell you what, why don’t you ask your new FANCY MAN [Gesture in the direction of Liam the Tosser’s desk]OVER THERE.
B.C: Do you know what? [Grabs packet of Lambert & Butler from her desk] Fuck OFF.
She clatters out of the office. Uncannily Similar smiles to himself and shakes his head. I don’t know what he thinks is so funny.
Across the office Liam the Tosser is regaling his female colleagues with stories of his time as a member of a ‘punk band’ despite currently only being about 14 years old or something.
Liam the Tosser: Yeah, yeah, we were like a cross between the Clash and Madness…
That’s enough for me. Being of the impression that I shall be dining alone I head upstairs to the canteen to microwave the last of my previous evening’s beef bourguignon. I’d like to see Liam the Tosser make that. His mum probably still gives him a packed-lunch every morning. Whilst assuring him that there is no difference between straight-forward white-boy rock, pretend ska and actual punk.
I grab a table far away from anyone who looks even faintly ‘chatty’ and begin to eat. And to read.
On cue, in wanders Liam the Tosser, resplendent in his new ‘ironic’ 1950’s schoolboy haircut and v-neck jumper. “Yeah, yeah, I’m satirising the stereotype of the office boy.” He probably says to people, like some sort of cunt.
Liam the Tosser: Hey, Tired. Is that the new kindle?
I’m momentarily astonished. I’m eating and expect to be left alone. We’ve never spoken a word to each other. (Meetings in which I have casual digs at him don’t count.) So there’s no need for him to be speaking to me like we’re ‘mates’. Plus, I’ve been trying to keep the whole ‘kindle’ thing quiet.
L.T.T: God, it’s really tiny isn’t it?
Now. I am NOT having that.
Me: It’s a six-inch screen actually.
L.T.T: I’ve got the…
Me: Anyway, it was a present. [Pointedly return my attention to my food.]
But he’d got me and we both know it.
I return to the office and amble over to Blonde Colleague’s desk. She ignores me. I stand with my hands in my pockets, looking at the floor. I gently kick the nearest leg of her desk.
B.C: [sigh] What?
Me: So he got me as well. That Liam twat. He was all like “Hi” and sort of “new kindle is it” and all that and I nearly got talking to him as well. He’s good.
B.C: [Runs her hand through her hair, stares out of the window for a moment as if coming to a decision about something and then looks directly at me] Yeah, well. His banter’s pretty shit actually. It’s not like we’re going to be friends or owt.
Some time passes.
Me: Coming outside for a smoke?
B.C: You’re a prick, you. Do you know that?
I presume it to be a rhetorical question. We stare at each other for a while. She grabs her cigarettes.
B.C: Come on then.
Uncannily Similar smiles to himself again.
Saturday, January 21, 2012
I’m roughly four hundred miles from my own home. It doesn’t seem a long way to come in order to push them on the swings. I don’t see them as often as I would like.
We cross the road and enter the safe environs of the park. There are ducks, swans, trees and all the other things one associates with a decent park. Favourite Daughter immediately runs off chasing after squirrels. Favourite Son and I walk together for a little while.
God, he must feel awkward, I think to myself. He’s six now. What if he sees someone he knows? It’s not like he’s a little boy anymore. He’d be dreadfully embarrassed to be seen holding the hand of some bloke.
Me: Son? We’re nowhere near the road now. You don’t have to hold my hand anymore.
I have to accept that he’s growing-up.
Favourite Son: [Distracted, watching his hare-brained elder sister fruitlessly attempt to gain an audience with a squirrel] Mmm? I know. I want to.
It’s only four hundred miles. It’s not far at all.
I squeeze his hand a bit tighter – just for a second – and we walk along together.
Saturday, December 31, 2011
Film Review: Arthur Christmas.
Me: I thought that was brilliant! [Glad of the 3D glasses that hid my irrational tears.]
Favourite Son: Yeah. It was really good. Except for the story. [Rolls eyes]
Danny Leigh must be shitting his pants.
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Mood Swings #2
Liam The Tosser walks into the office and a glorious surge of pure hatred courses through me.
Liam, in his skinny-lapelled date-rapist suit, with his intentionally lop-sided haircut that probably cost more than everything I am wearing. Permanently chipper Liam, with his studied non-regional accent and constant spring in his step. Liam, who actually calls himself ‘Liam’ when you just know his family call him ‘William’. Liam and his soft leather man-bag. Liam and his abysmal daytime-television gameshow-host patter.
Me: [Louder than intended] I fucking hate that cunt.
Liam’s stride falters a little, but he recovers and makes it to his desk.
Blonde Colleague: You know he’s got a girlfriend?
Me: What? Fuck off. She must have a pretty high boredom threshold. And be happy to put-up with loads of abysmal indie CDs, shit craic, tender-stroking and ‘respectfulness’ when all she fancies is an inconsiderate bending-over the kitchen table. Poor cow.
BC: [Becoming quite animated herself] Doubt it. She’ll be one of those waif-types who never touch their face with their hands and buy their fucking floaty dresses from Ghost. She’ll be so fucking pale you wonder if she’s ever gone outside, probably never had a KFC bucket to herself ever and couldn’t put together an IKEA wardrobe to save her fucking life. She’s probably called Hermione or fucking Natasha or something. Fuck.
Me: “Godfafer Free”, “Not considered the best one”.
Me: That fucking match.com advert.
BC: YES! Brilliant! That’s those two cunts right there.
Me: They probably go to charity shops together, not because they’re skint but because they think it makes them ‘charming’…
BC: YES. And voluntarily watch subtitled films with a ‘nice glass of rose’ sitting on a pile of fucking scatter cushions…
Me: What a couple of knackers.
BC: They probably read books.
Me: Yeah, alright. People read books. You need to get over that one.
We gather ourselves. I’m panting slightly. Blonde Colleague wipes a faint glow of perspiration from above her top lip.
BC: Any good?
Me: That wasn’t bad, actually.
I feel much better.
Saturday, November 12, 2011
An Apology. That I Must Never Make In Person.
I’ve a lot of time for Russell. He’s calm and unflappable; a problem-solver and problem-averter who has noticed costly mistakes of mine and others before they’ve even happened, and who is quietly marking his time before retirement. A solid, reliable man, from the days when they still made them.
He completes his errand and heads back out, approaching and passing both my desk and those of three of my female colleagues.
Something odd happens.
Everything starts moving in slow motion. My three female colleagues start appraising Russell From Admin in a new light. That song from that dreadful Diet Coke advert starts playing. One female colleague actually removes her reading glasses to get a better look at him. I can’t swear to this, but I think one of them actually removed a hair-pin and slowly shook loose a mane of luxuriant raven-hair as he passed. The third narrows her eyes and slowly nods to herself as she gazes at him, one hand toying with the top button on her blouse.
Russell From Admin smiles to himself, and leaves the office with a noticeable and new-found spring in his step.
Everything returns to normal, the music stops playing and reality runs at 24 frames per second again as usual.
Female Colleague #1: [Addressing me] No. I don’t think he’s grown a moustache.
Me: Are you sure? I mean, he’s got one of those faces that look like he should have one anyway but I could have sworn...
Female Colleague #2: Naw. I had a decent gander myself and he definitely hasn’t. Know what you mean though. And with the grey hair and that. Easy mistake. But naw.
Me: Right. Oh well thanks. Didn’t just want to go up to him and stare at his top lip. You know?
Female Colleague #3: Yeah, because that would have been weird. [Does or does not fix her hair back into place. I’m still not sure] No ‘tach. Certain.
Me: Ah. Ok then. Thanks. As you were.
I’m sorry, Russell From Admin. You have not ‘still got it’.
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Mood Swings #1
I approach the desk of the allegedly-attractive feature writer I need to speak to. Personally, I'm not that worried about her.
Me: Uh hi. So look, I’m going to need, like, a thousand words or so, general festive nonsense. You know the drill, just some filler, Christmas party tips, that sort of thing…
Allegedly-Attractive Feature Writer: ‘Inappropriately snogging work colleagues and how to deal with it’, that sort of thing?
Me: Hm. Yeah. Although no chance of that here - [gesture at the ceiling above her desk] total lack of mistletoe and that.
Bit of observational humour there, in case you missed it. I’m funny, me.
AAFW: [Deadpan, not even glancing at me] It wasn’t an offer.
Me: No, I didn’t… I mean, it wasn’t…[sigh] Right. Thanks then. Deadline’s Thursday.
I make my way back to my office, past the dreadful Creative-Types with their jeans, stubble and general air of being above it all - as though being able to operate an Apple Mac and owning a Vampire Weekend CD really means they’ve got the world by the balls the hopeless cretins – and return to my desk.
Blonde Colleague: Alright. Oh. Did you speak to editorial about that thing?
Me: Oh fuck off.
Monday, October 24, 2011
“How are you with needles?”
“I’m not in love with them, but I won’t pass-out or anything” I reply to the woman I assume to be a doctor. She’s quite pretty, actually.
“I’m more concerned about you jerking your arm when I stick you and smacking me in the face.” She replies drily, making me like her even more.
“No, I’ll be fine.”
By the smell, I deduce that I’m in a hospital and not a doctor’s surgery. It’s a pretty recognisable smell. And by the noise I’m in A&E and not an in-patient ward. Yet.
“You’ll feel a scratch.” They always say that. What they mean is ‘you’ll feel a fucking nasty sharp thing going into your arm’.
After several attempts she finds a vein and takes some blood.
“So. You’ve had these seizures before?”
My boss sticks her head round the door – surprising me - and gives me my wallet and mobile phone. I thank her, still very unsure of what is happening, tell her I’m fine and that she should go back to work.
Quite Fit Doctor asks who she was.
Me: Oh. That was my boss.
QFD: She came in with you. With the paramedics. She’s lovely.
Me: Ok. How long have I been here?
QFD: A while. You seem to be coming out of it pretty quickly so we’ll do your bloods and if that’s all fine you can go.
My head is fuzzy and I try and remember any recent events, none of which involve paramedics or hospitals. I do, however, recall a pleasant conversation with a female colleague, to whom I was bemoaning some upcoming social plans which involved visiting the gay quarter of the city I work in, on the insistence of Uncannily Similar who enjoys ‘the vibe’.
Me: It’s just, you know, I … Get a lot of male attention. Which is all good, but…. I’d just rather NOT. It’s sort of awkward. You know?
To which she replied:
“Well of course you do! It's because you’re handsome and you’re really slim.”
Which was possibly the nicest thing anyone has said to me ever, and was of course completely insincere and really meant:
“Well of course you do! It's because YOU’RE THE GAYEST STRAIGHT MAN I’VE EVER MET YOU CAMP SKINNY FUCK!”
But I took it anyway.
Some time passes. A locum in scrubs sticks his head round the door.
Locum: Oh. Hi. Who’s your doctor?
Me: Ermm. Not sure of the name. Dark hair. Quite attractive.
Locum: Ok. [Starts to leave. Stops. Turns back with a puzzled/incredulous look] What? FEMALE?
Me: What? YES! FUCK!
Locum: Alriiiiiight. [Spreads his palms in supplication] I just thought you were... you know…
Me: Well I’m NOT. When am I getting my blood results? And where can I go for a cigarette?
I’m discharged an hour later.
What Have I Been Doing?
And so, in short – although to be elaborated on – I have been doing these things:
• Attended stag-do of First Brother.
• My Excellent Children stay with me for very nearly a week
• Attend wedding of First Brother, with Excellent Children.
• Realise that my father, with whom I have had zero contact for 25 years is also attending said wedding. Something I should have worked out.
• As Excellent Children are present for the event, introduce not only myself but his Grandchildren to my father. Discover that he was unaware of their existence. Awkward.
• Later, much confrontation is involved. Not only with my father, but the aunts I had forgotten had existed who poke my face and infer that I am not a pleasant person.
• Return Excellent Children to their mother. This necessitates a fifteen-hour, 800-mile round-trip courtesy of our nation’s woeful rail network. Feel a bit tired. And sad.
• Worked ten consecutive 15-hour days. Felt a bit more tired.
• Attended stag-do of Second Brother. He’s getting married the same month, purely to piss me off.
• Suffer fit and brief spell of unconsciousness in the middle of a working day. Taken to hospital.
• Excellent Children come to stay for a few more days.
• Attend wedding of Second Brother, feel a bit aggrieved by the ‘usher’ duties he has thrown my way to make me feel better about the fact that I have failed in my own life at anything that has been important to me, and also the ‘reading’ I have to give at the church for the same reason.
• Excellent Children leave. Feel sad.
• Receive an email from my new MD informing me that if I want to apply for voluntary redundancy then he is ‘all ears’.
• Receive letter instructing me to attend an ‘epilepsy clinic’. The inference seeming to be that I now have epilepsy.
• Realise I have no annual leave left, and will probably not see my Excellent Children until 2012.
Basically, everything has been superb.