Saturday, June 26, 2010

I Read The Guardian So You Don't Have To #1

From the readers' problems page of the Weekend magazine:

"We've just returned from Marrakech with a lovely red leather pouffe. Unfortunately, a strong camel smell emanates from it. How can we get rid of it?"

No comment need be made on my part.

Friday, June 25, 2010

I Have A Piss In My Bathroom Sink.

I reflect upon my awesome Friday.

It’s been yet another long day. I give ‘myself’ a shake and run the tap. Balefully I gaze at the toilet that is still brim-full of not-entirely-clean water.

Thirteen hours previously I had enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and had performed my bathroom habits before leaving for work. I had noticed that the toilet did not drain. And in fact had just filled.

“That’s fine”, I thought, “by the time I get home tonight it will have actually fixed itself. All on its own. Like that dead cat in the front garden all those years ago.”

I endure a working day dealing with small businesses who pretend not to exist after what is for them a terrifying Budget and large private businesses who are now spending money like it was some sort of competition.

And then attend after-work drinks with Newly-Gay Friend and yet another of his ‘gentleman callers’ without accidently getting pissed and offending people yet again and am now home safe and sound and need a wee.

Astoundingly nothing has resolved itself in my absence. For the eight-millionth time I reflect upon the doubly-rubbish nature of not only living alone but also being grown-up.

I arm myself with all the household disinfectant I can find and begin bending a wire clothes-hanger into the required shape.

I don’t much fancy anything for dinner anymore.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Interior. Day.

A shabby office, one phone, one desk. The year is 1986.

Barry is a failed popstar but slightly talented song-writer who carves a living writing tunes for other people. He tries not to be bitter.

[Off screen] Phone rings.

Barry: *sigh* Hi.


Barry: Yeah whatever. What’s the pay? {pause] Yeah that’ll do. Let’s recap. Slightly saucy pop hit, not so suggestive it won’t get airplay – don’t want a repeat of that Frankie Goes To Hollywood thing – but enough to sell. Ok. Who’s it for? Cher again?

Some time passes.

Barry: Sam fucking Fox? Are you shitting me? Do you know who I am?

More silence.

Barry: Well yeah that’s who I am NOW, but I could have been…..right. Whatever. Yeah. I’ll do it.

Barry hangs up, and reaches for a folder marked ‘Absolutely Terrible Analogies For Awful Pay’

Fade to black.


24 years later (this is me now).

I’m in the check-out queue at Poundland during my lunch hour, faintly excited by the thought of my evening shower that I’m promised will be an ‘energising deep cleansing experience’ according to the label on my one quid bottle of shower gel.

Trying not to think of how hideously ugly the poor actually are (this isn’t John Lewis), not to mention how smelly - it’s Poundland for God’s sake and it’s 2 for 1 on deodorant – I listen to the plaintive strains of Sam Fox wailing from the speakers.

……. ‘like a tramp in the night I’m begging you’……………..

Honestly. ‘Like a tramp in the night?’ The writer was so disillusioned he went for the hobo analogy?

She got the last laugh I think to myself as I queue to pay for my purchase. All those photos making over-exciteable adolescent boys imagine she were available, the hit single entitled ‘Touch Me’ that would of CONVINCED them of it, and all the while she was a carpet-muncher.

The chap ahead of me is a disorientated Middle-Eastern who obviously hasn’t much English.

‘How much?’ he asks, gesturing at his hoped-for purchase.

The man behind the counter glances at him.

‘You’re in a pound shop sir and I’ve no time for comedians.’ Is his helpful reply.

Unlike Sam Fox, it seems some people have no sense of humour.

Monday, June 14, 2010


I love a good story, me. They serve so many purposes.

A female colleague – let’s call her Susan - has just left the company I work for to start a better-paid job at an ‘escort agency’.

Not as an actual escort – she’s nearly sixty, was never a ‘looker’ in her youth and would be a cock-wilting disappointment if she turned up at your front door for some coke-fueled anonymous ‘affection’ - more an office-manager sort of thing for the agency.

I ask her if she is not slightly concerned about long-term job security in an industry notorious for falling foul of the law. And about stuff like hygienic working environments and constant contact with people who are at best morally ‘flexible’. Including her new employer.

She is certain that her new employer is at heart a good man. She tells me his story.

He was a man of the cloth – a vicar. His wife died in a car accident, he lost his faith in God and left the clergy. And turned to drink. And gambling. Poker. Which to his astonishment he turned out to be very good at. He cleaned-up and made a fortune from cards. There is a website of a casino in Las Vegas that still lists him as their biggest winner. She’s seen it.

He bought a large, expensive quayside apartment in our city upon his return and tried to lead a blameless life.

One night he heard a terrible commotion in the hallway outside his apartment. A couple of hysterical young girls were banging on his door – they couldn’t get help elsewhere. There was a very drunk, abusive gentleman in their apartment, they couldn’t get rid of him.

The hero of our story dispatches this gentleman, advising him never to return. The girls are grateful. They tell him their own story, what they do for a living, working from their apartment. Our hero is filled with nothing but concern for the well-being of these girls – do they not have any protection, anyone to look after them, he asks.

No, they reply, we are alone and vulnerable. Will you look after us?

Our hero cannot turn his back on these poor waifs, and begins conducting their affairs for them – providing them with much-needed safety. And a steady supply of well-vetted clients. Soon other lost souls hear of this wonderful man, and before long he is taking care of many young women, and starts an agency.

It’s like he has his flock back.

In my opinion, this is an utterly brilliant story of lost faith and redemption in the unlikeliest setting.

And I wonder if even Susan believes a fucking word of it.

Friday, June 11, 2010


I would like to point out that:

is quite good, and if you tire of the world of modern shallow entertainment but are still sort-of fascinated by it, I would say it is a good place to go.

I, of course, have no vested interest in this statement, or indeed the website in question.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Growing Pains.

Last weekend:

It’s been a long day, involving a four-hundred mile journey and much turmoil. I am tired. I stand outside a public house and think back over the afternoon. It is eight in the evening.

Five hours previously.

I meet Favourite Son from school.

His Teacher: You should of seen his face! When he saw you!

I ignore her. Not on purpose. But I suppose I’ve more important things to give my attention to.

Favourite Son: Daddy? How come you’re here to pick me up when you live so far away?

Me: I got up really early.

This satisfies him. It’s the end of term and he presents me with a small plant-pot from which is growing a bean-shoot he has nurtured for the preceding weeks. He is chuffed.

We collect his sister, who proudly shows me her jigsaw mouth of milk- and small-adult teeth. The baby teeth are her mothers, the new jagged ones are mine.

Retiring to a public house down the road from their school that possesses an outdoor children’s area, we drink lemonade, laugh and play. We spend the afternoon together, have dinner elsewhere and at about seven meet their mother.

Favourite Son looks at me with horror.

FD: Daddy! Where’s my bean?

I’ve only left it behind at the pub down the road from his school haven’t I? He was no doubt bursting to show it to his mother. I look at his face.

He’s five now, his small body coursing with unaccustomed bursts of testosterone and every slight injustice is felt with a hammer-blow of outrage and inconsolable grief.

I look at his mother’s face. We’ve already established that I also forgot to pick up his lunch-box and PE kit so this latest testament to my incompetence is obviously no surprise to her.

Me: It’s ok. Don’t worry. I’ll go and get it.

The pub is bloody miles away and I’m exhausted and on foot.

Tired Mam:
I can call them if you like. Get them to put it to one side.

Me: No. No. [To Favourite Son] I’ll get it. It’ll be ok.

He seems alright with this. They go home. I find the bean-shoot and all is well.

My lodgings for the night are at the maternal grandfather of my children, with whom I have an unlikely friendship. I look at my watch. He’ll be asleep by now. I’m alone in a town that I have not lived in for about seven years and is now alien to me. The brief sight of Tired Mam seven months pregnant has not been a soothing one. Nothing to do with me I might add. My nerves are shot. The public house is filled with people, sound and light.

Me: A pint of strong drink please.

Barman: No problem. And for your friend?

Me: Mmmm?

He gestures to the small plant-pot next to my elbow on the bar. Funny fucker.

Me: *sigh* He’ll just have some water.
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