Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Small Coins.

Like the shiniest coins in your money box as a child they may have little real value or significance, but sometimes the small incidents, the small memories, are the best and you’re afraid to touch them or revisit them too much in case they become dull.

This evening. I’m walking through the grass-lined war memorial outside the bus station that will provide me with transport home. It’s late, I’ve been kept back at my office two hours longer than need be and I’m exhausted. I didn’t sleep well the previous evening and am generally in a foul mood.

The memorial, at this time of night, is home to every cider-head, smack-rat, emo, goth, chav, homeless, skater-kid and radge-packet in the city. Basically they are representative of all the various tribes of humanity I despise and I just want to negotiate it in one piece without losing my temper and getting into a situation I will doubtless not come out the better of. I really don’t have the build for it.

I’m near the pillared-entrance to the small shopping centre at the back of the memorial that leads to my bus station when I notice an elderly man in ragged clothes and a bobble hat taking a circuitous route around the pillars, staring intently at the ground.

I come to the conclusion that he is either a) mental or b) homeless and is searching for money or viable cigarette-ends or c) most likely both. I alter my path to avoid contact with him. I can’t help him, it’s late and – do you know what – he’s not my problem.

Almost simultaneously a small group of radgies clock him as well. They’re the very worst sort. With an average age of fourteen years by the look of them, they are clad head-to-toe in either Bench or Kangol, dripping in Elizabeth Duke and have obviously been wagging-off school all day and stink of Lambert & Butlers.

And they’re girls. Which is so much worse. Empowered by the effect of their new-found hips, tits and arses they know they have a terrible influence over men that they do not yet fully understand, but still they know it’s there. And they also know that no man will strike either a child or a woman on the street. Being a strange mixture of both, they are fucking untouchable and they know it. They’re terrifying.

One of their number detaches herself from the radge-hive and starts heading toward the elderly mental homeless guy. Her shoulders are squared, her stride argumentative and she is reeking of fake tan, hormones, aggression and whatever they use to fix hair-extensions with.

[At Elderly Homeless Mental] You! Aye. You. What ye dein’ like?

I slow my pace and turn around. It’s none of my business. And I may not have been prepared to do anything for the man, but I’m not going to stand by and watch him be tormented by an ASBO kid. Christ. All I wanted was to get home.

R.P: [Shouting] Aye. Yeah. Ye, like. Ah’m talkin’ to yuh.

It never happens often, but in situations like this I never know WHAT I’m going to do. I just know I’ll do something.

R.P: [Now squaring-up to Elderly Homeless Mental in the most confrontational manner possible] Looking for pennies are yu? Eh? I said- are you looking for coins?

My jaw is clenched. I start to walk over.

Elderly Homeless Mental:
[Confused, frightened] Oh, er, yes ….

Reet. Well have this. [Proffers a small coin] It’s only ten pence but it’s all I’ve got. [With undiminished aggression] One of my stupid mates hoyed five pence ower there [gestures] so yu can probly find that too an’ aaal. Reet?

Oh bless you. You’re an angel.

Aye well.

She heads back to her cohorts and I trail behind as she’s on the way to where I need to be.

One of her companions asks her what the guy said. She replies with the same borderline-furious tone I now realise she has used all her life, and that her mother and father have probably used all their lives before her.

Aye he said I was an angel, like.


I look at my watch. I’ve still time for not only my bus, but also a brief re-evaluation of humanity. I shall try and remember this. But not too often.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


“You might feel a bit of pressure.” Says the woman sticking a scalpel in my eye.

“Pressure?” I think to myself. “You know nothing about it, love. I’ve got a workload you wouldn’t believe and I’ve had to take an hour off to come here so a swarthy lass who could obviously beat the shit out of me if I looked at her funny with my good eye can stick needles in me and start fucking about with a sharp fucking knife. At my fucking eye. Fuck. It’s not like I can even look away. Shit”

“That’s a good result.” She says to no-one in particular as the vision in my left eye goes blood-red. With blood as it turns out.

Being an obviously considerate sort, she tapes an eye-patch big enough to take care of Geoff Capes onto me, despite the fact that my entire head is about the size of my eight-year old daughters. So I don’t look in the slightest bit foolish.

“Now, if you have to come back…..”


She and her assistant laugh. This is a big load of TEH FUNNY for them. They cut cysts from the under-sides of eyelids all the time.

I return to the office, tripping down stairs and bumping into door frames.

It’s not the first time I’ve had to have things hacked from my body because they’re doing more harm than good, and I wonder how long it’ll be before I have a bathroom cabinet like Jeff Goldblum in The Fly packed with discarded pieces of me.

After much hilarity caused by my appearance, four of my colleagues are – without warning or explanation – escorted from the premises. Two of them I happen to have quite a lot of time for.

I’m told I shall be taking over the accounts of one of them. As I’m obviously at a loose-end these days. And don’t have enough to do.

Finally, I get a bus home. It’s the same service upon which I had an alarming seizure and convulsed on the floor of for a full five minutes some months ago. People look askance at my patched face and shuffle out of my way.

I take out my much-hated mobile phone and send a couple of texts of concern and support to Thug Colleague. I remember how much I used to dislike him, and how perplexed we both must be about the massively unlikely friendship we have grown in the last twelve months – sparked by a mutual admiration of the recording artist Kunt And The Gang - after four solid years of being deeply suspicious of one another.

It seems I have developed ‘empathy’ quite late on in life. As if I didn’t have enough to do, it seems I am now ‘caring about people’ all over the place. The selfish bastards. Christ.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Impromptu Telly Review.

I’m having an unbelievably stressful afternoon having taken on an unnecessarily ambitious project just to prove a point and also because neither backing-down or admitting defeat are one of my big things.

Thug Colleague: How. Tired. Y’want in on this?

Me: FUCK. What?

T.C: Top five most hated television programmes?

It’s better than his enquiry as to who my ‘arch-nemesis’ in the workplace is, but I have deadlines screaming at me like I owe them money, three different departments of my silly company doing the same, six clients who do not seem to know what the term ‘deadline’ actually means and ninety minutes to tie the whole thing up.

Me: Yeah, O.K. then.

Here are my answers, and reasons (if required):

Popworld, Channel 4.

Two charisma-free mannequins perform the most painfully over-rehearsed ‘spontaneous’ banter whilst pretending to laugh at their own obviously scripted and unfunny ‘jokes’ whilst asking uninteresting questions of uninteresting popstrels and banging on about ‘festivals’ and stuff. They wouldn’t be invited round my house in a million years. I don’t hate it because it was once quite good. I hate it because it is shit.

Anything Featuring the ‘Talents’ Of Alex Zane, Any Channel.

No explanation required.

That Dreadful Bob Grundy-Hosted History of the North of England Thing, BBC1

I can’t even be bothered to look-up it’s real name. It makes Countryfile seem avant-garde. Do you know that feeling of dread that used to creep into the pit of your stomach on a Sunday night before school when Bullseye came on the telly? It’s like someone distilled that, cooked it up and fucking mainlined it into you. In a massively unlikely footnote, Thug Colleague has had business dealings with the man in question (attempting to flog his DVDs to an uninterested public) and reports that he is ‘a cunt’.

Something for the Weekend, BBC2

I can only assume that the sorry enterprise was born of this scenario:

Exec 1: We need some sort of Sunday-morning ‘magazine show’ made-up of clips from the previous week’s telly that is totally unlike the omnibus This Morning on the other channel which features the deep likeability of Philip Schofield and the unique combination of sexiness and equal likeability that is Holly Willoughby. You know, the one people actually enjoy? But have it be almost identical to that. Whilst being different.

Exec 2: No problem. We’ll just assemble a bunch of feckless z-list celebrities and no-marks with all the charm of my foreskin and with no chemistry whatsoever to pretend they don’t secretly hate each other any more than the general public actually hates each and every one of them individually and then – twist coming – throw in a cocktail-maker who appears to be a hairs-breadth away from downing a mojito in a one-er and chinning the lot of them.

Exec 1: Perfect.

Any Cookery Show Featuring Rick Stein. Any Channel, But Usually BBC2.

A controversial choice as it turned out. But let me ask you this: could you spend more than an hour in his company without wanting to grind your teeth on his worthy skull? No, you couldn’t. And he always smells of fish, whilst constantly quacking-on about it. It’s fish, Rick. Get over it.

Several people list that “fuckin 10 O’Clock Show shite” in their top five, and I briefly argue. But even I have to concede that I WANT to like it more than I ACTUALLY do.

I look at my watch and realise I shall now be working late or face the wrath of a client named Wayne, who is built like a brick-layer and sports the name ‘Miss Kitty’ after dark. True.
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