Uneventful days end in slow cooked pork

I needed a blog post but had no ideas. So here is my day.

I went for a pint in my local today, intent on a quiet read with a  pint. This is, in part, because I am lonely and naturally unlikable (which leaves me unable to remedy the former). To my internal dismay, I found the pub to be busy. Not the sort of busy that generates a sense of atmosphere, but the kind where it was … well, busy.  Apparently, this was partially due to some pitiful attempt at some Oktoberfest celebrations. I always thought that Oktoberfest was a September thing, and a quick Google told me I was partially right. It tarts on the 22nd of September and finishes on the 7th of October. Still, it being the 20th of October, my point still stood; the whole thing should bugger off.

I’m not necessarily against people having fun. I just don’t like it being had near me. It’s a known fact that there’s a constant amount of joy in the universe. In order for people to have fun, it needs to be dragged away from others. The more people in one spot having fun, the more miserable others must be elsewhere. This is scientific fact.

So, the pub was busy. I bought my pint and sat at a table and once again tried to get drawn into Our Mutual Friend, which we all know is an impossible task. The mutual friend is John Harmon, he demonstrates that class differences are fairly arbitrary, and we’re not nearly as divided as we (in Victorian England) like to believe. Anyone thinking of tackling this hefty tome, I have saved you many joyless hours of trudging through endless waffle and bland characters.

At a touch of a few buttons, the repetitive prose of Dickens was washed away and instead replaced by some cheap fantasy. The failed academic in me whined in protest but was silenced by a quick kick to the ribs by the gigantic simpleton clad in elven robes and wielding a great fuck-off sword, that he happens to live with.

As I read, more people filed through the door. Many clad in Lederhosen and some as those Bavarian bar wench outfits. Strangely enough, this was one of the rare occasions where no one stood up and screamed about cultural appropriation, or the arrogant racism of reducing a culture to a crude stereotype. It was quite refreshing. No doubt there have been many blogs on the matter. If JK Rowling is a racist for having an Asian snake lady, anyone who prances about in leather trousers and a silly hat whilst swigging ale from a stein is too.

Yeah that’s right, ‘silly hat’.

As it got busier, my tiny table tucked against the wall at the edge of the room began to attract more attention than I would have liked. A lady in barmaid fancy dress loomed over and plonked her Corona upon it with the words ‘Do you mind?’  which was rather redundant as she had already plonked, regardless of whether I minded or not. As it was, I did not mind, which was just as well, as several others began to plonk too. This led to many women shedding their coats to reveal more barmaid costumes that left little to the imagination. This was a great shame, as I have a fairly vivid imagination and with minimal effort could have conjured up a more desirable image.

This is not to criticise, I’m well aware that women are not there simply to be desired by me. I respect their autonomy and would defend to the death their right to wear whatever they want. Well, maybe not to the death, just clothes innit? I’d build a little sign and attend a march, assuming it’s not too far away and can be reached by public transport. Unfortunately, we are at the mercy of The Media, and whenever The Media shows me pictures of women in Oktoberfest fancy dress, they are not in their 50s and almost certainly not from Stevenage.

Behind me the bland conversation of a group of what could be referred to as ‘adults’ smacked me repeatedly about the head. It is another scientific fact that pub that the air is different in a pub. It’s thicker and filled with more… things. It’s harder for sound to travel through it, so one must yell at the person sitting three inches away from you.

More coats were shed and they found their way onto the empty chair next to me, piling up as to create a veritable mound. I hoped this would continue until it was a mountain, or at the very least, a hill. I could then dive into them and live life as a coat mole. Alas, this was not meant to be.

I drank my beer, read three whole chapters and left. I wondered if somewhere in an alternate reality, there was a German me, surrounded by people wearing cartoonish top hats and drinking warm beer out of teapots. I wondered if that German me was got just as fed up as I did with the forced joyfulness.

I wondered if in another alternate reality, there was a me that took part in the whole thing. I wondered if he was genuinely enjoying himself or just pretending. I wondered the same of the people in this reality.

I went home and I ate some pork I had been slow cooking in ginger beer. It was decidedly average, but the gravy was good. I had some cabbage and green beans with it too.

The end.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Let the stag do die… kill it if you have to

I currently sit writing in a Welsh cottage sipping a glass of wine and pondering the written word. One, because I am a pretentious douche and two, because I am waiting for a spag bol to cook. I feel I can’t leave the pan because the last three times I have left something on simmer, I forgot about it entirely and ruined a perfectly edible dinner and a perfectly decent pan. The wine is a white one, the name of which I don’t know because I only tend to drink wine when I’m flexing my pretentious douche muscles or it’s the only thing on offer.

It was on my way to Wales (albeit just in Wales – my bed is probably half in half out), that I stopped in a service station. These are bizarre places. A hidden magical world contained within our own. They are convergence points in time where all manner of creatures from every decade imaginable may pass through, brush shoulders and share tales of the past and warn of things to come. Mostly, however, it was where they pee and then buy an overpriced coffee.

It was here I happened to overhear a group of men. They were all men, and not just biologically male, but MEN. They were extremely vocal about how male they really were. These were the sort of people who viewed being born with a fleshy appendage between their legs as a thing to be regarded as an achievement and therefore worthy of boasting.

I have a penis, but I tend to regard it with casual indifference these days, much like the rest of the world. This group of MEN belong a subset of the male gender (a word that’s becoming increasingly confusing these days, it’s an interesting linguistic journey we have embarked on in recent years). They are lads. In much the same way that all Uruk-hai are orcs, but not all orcs are Uruk-hai (no doubt I am misremembering my LotR lore. Do not engage me in a lengthy debate; I am on holiday), all lads are MEN but not all men are lads.

Very occasionally, a group of lads split off from the general horde of slathering shits and embark on an age-old ritual known as ‘a Stagg Do’. It is my sincerest hope that this dies a painful death. I hope it dies choking on its own blood, writhing in the mud and filth from which it sprang. Once dead, I hope it is stricken from the annals of history. I hope anyone who dares utter the phrase ‘Stagg Do’ is castigated and cast out of society if not immediately bludgeoned to death with the nearest blunt implement.

Not wishing to seem to hard on MEN and lads, women (those born without penises and possessed of a womb in this definition) occasionally do similar things. Their ritual is known as a Hen Do. These are still relatively deplorable, but apparently, they are steeped in sexual liberation (for womankind, of course, men have always been fairly free when it comes to sex). There are many reasons why the woman’s ritual is called a Hen Do rather than a Hind Do. The most obvious is of course that, as far as the Lad and MEN are concerned, women are so inferior that they can’t even be considered as regal as a deer. No, where Lads and MEN are concerned, Women are weak, ugly and scraggly looking hens. In fairness, to continue this imagery, you would think the Stag Do would be referred to as the ‘Cock Do’ seeing as there tends to be one dominant cock or rooster among a … (gaggle?) of hens. However, it isn’t because cock – being a slang term for the penis – means a cock do would sound somewhat homoerotic, and if there’s one thing a Lad feels is worthy of more scorn than a woman (or hen), it’s a homosexual. Which is quite interesting all things considered. I will delve into it more later.

This group of Lads, on the way to complete their Stag Do, were travelling in the opposite direction to myself, which gladdened me. From my research, I believe the Stag and Hen do is a pre-wedding celebration, falling sometime after an engagement party and a brief period before a wedding. People cannot get married unless they’ve had a certain number of celebrations prior to the main celebration that is the wedding. To some, it is viewed as a final farewell from the groom or bride to be to their friends. To others, it is to revel in one last night of freedom. The former is an acceptance that their youth lies behind them, and they start a new chapter in which they are committed to another human and, as such, may not have the same amount of time for their friends. The latter is an ostentatious fuck you to the one you intend to marry. It is an expensive way to demonstrate the sheer lack of respect you hold for the person you intend to spend the rest of your life with.

Ironically, either way, you look at it, shows that those who feel the need to have a Stag Do or a Hen Do, should not be getting married. If you feel that when married, you must sacrifice your friendships to devote more time to this other person, then the chances are, you will spend too much time together and end up resenting one another. If you feel that sharing your life with one other person and refraining from sleeping with anyone else is synonymous with imprisonment, then you are a cunt. Marriages to cunts tend not to last long.

‘The Dos’ which they shall now be referred to, have evolved over time. Once, they involved going out with close friends and having one too many at a pub. Then they became going out with a few friends and having nine too many, before falling into a deep existential despair, crying and/or fighting before eventually throwing up. The last step is apparently to dispel demons.

Alas, for the modern Stag or Hen, this is no longer enough. The Dos involve spending a ludicrous amount of money flinging each other around the world to spend a long weekend at an overly extravagant resort or going go-karting or paintballing. The last to are unfortunately more common among the MEN to once again prove their manliness. Men like fast cars and men like violence, so it makes sense to drive fast fake cars and take part in faux violence all whilst reaffirming the fact that they like having sex with women.

Having not been privy to any Hen Dos and only seen a few at a distance, I don’t know if this is the same as them, although, in my experience, women tend to be a bit more relaxed about sexuality than MEN, that is to say, Lads.

You see, a lack of self-awareness is an unfortunate genetic trait of the Lad. Were they to take an objective look at what they were doing, there would be many a revelation. At the very least, they’d tone it down a bit.

They’d see that the Stag Do involves a man, going out in a group that is strictly male where they often talk about how much they like having sex with women and how wonderful it is to have a penis, whilst celebrating their last night of freedom, before they are forced to spend their lives having sex with a woman. They’d put all this together and realise that maybe they don’t want to be married and maybe…they don’t like women. At the very least, they’ll realise that their notion of ‘manliness’ is flawed and prevents them from being anything other than a crude cut out. They would realise they no longer have to strive to prove themselves to be MEN, because the word has no relevance anymore.

If we could rid the world of the blight of the stag and hen do, the gender divide would lessen. Homophobia would decrease and we’d all be a lot happier. The only thing that would remain would be racism and we could easily get rid of that by all agreeing that the notion of ‘culture’ is an arbitrary barrier extrapolated from the weird shit our ancestors used to get up to before Netflix came along.

More on that later in the week.

 

Note: I am very much aware that this whole piece comes across as patronising and a touch classist. I am aware that increasingly, stag and hen dos are being seen as a celebration of love and tend to be mixed (primarily in more middle-class metropolitan areas and those who read the Guardian). In terms of classism, the notion of the lad (or whatever the female version is, if you’re the type that needs one) transcends class. I know many a ‘laddish’ type with the ‘lad’ mentality and mannerisms who live in detached houses in the suburbs and drive expensive Audis that their fairly wealthy parents bought for them. The Lad, is not then, a working-class cheeky chappy. Unless of course, you believe these Audi driving types able to get onto the property ladder in increasingly expensive areas working class. In which case, the classes make less sense than they ever did and we should all shut up about it.

I am also aware of the distinct possibility that my grammar is all over the place. My day job involves a hefty amount of proof reading. I’m on holiday. Fuck punctuation.

 

 

 

My Current Viewing Habits

I currently sit practically naked in my new flat drenched in sweat, my stretchy, wrinkled testicles stuck to my leg. As you struggle to get that image out of your head, wondering whether I am guilty of some sort of harassment for forcing the notion of my naked form into your head or you are guilty for oogling me with your mind’s eye without my permission or simply visualising the naked form is neither a sinister act or one to be celebrated as a body is a body and we all need to chill out about the whole thing, I am trying to decipher my own handwriting.

I haven’t updated this blog for some time, seeing as I have been trying to move from my mum’s sofa into a new flat. I successfully managed this some time ago and subsequently spent a week sitting on a deck chair drinking beer. Then, of course, my new flatmate had the audacity to move in, so now I must, at the very least, maintain an illusion that I am a functioning human being.

Some time ago I was on a train. On this train, I tried to distract myself from the depressing reality that I was on a train by writing out my next blog post. Sticking to the ‘write what you know’ method, this turned out to be about my TV viewing habits at the time. This may become a two-parter, because reviewing my notes I see there are numerous pages stuffed with over analysis and wandering thoughts.

One day I will develop a thing called focus, or at least try my hand at this editing business. Anyway, we shall see where I get to in this write-up. Are you sitting comfortably? No, of course, you’re not, it’s too hot for that, unless you’re that one reader in Iceland who regularly glances at my ramblings. I’ll begin anyway.

***

Whilst I have not quite given up on my dreams, I have started to realise that they may not come true. This creeping realisation – that I might not become a top-selling author and celebrated actor by the time I’m twenty-four – started to make itself known around my twenty-sixth birthday. It’s becoming more apparent that I might need to re-evaluate my life the more I sit in my mother’s flat watching whatever happens to be on TV.

As my ten-year-old sister also lives here (perhaps with a more valid excuse to be doing so), what happens to be on TV is often Cartoon Network. When she eventually grows bored and wanders off to watch some insufferable YouTuber (it saddens me that that is a thing), my mother chooses the channel. This is often Alibi or UKTV Food.

Alibi shows various episodes of yet more varied detective shows. UKTV Food shows various documentaries on the history of Russia.

As I have no right to influence what can and cannot be watched on this particular television, I have no choice but to get up and better myself. Despite this, I remain seated and watch and continue to watch until my brain has melted, and I experience what it is like to be dead.

Instead of setting out into the world and perhaps finding a loving partner, saving up for a house and starting a family as is generally done, I will give a needlessly detailed rundown of my current and bizarre viewing habits.

Cartoon Network

Cartoon Network was once a safe haven. It was a world that contained Dexter’s Lab, The Powerpuff Girls and that shit Cow and Chicken show. Like most things in life, it has moved on and is no longer for me. I accept this. The world turns and a new generation emerges to lay claim to what was once ours. Unlike the Star Wars fandom, I accept this. I do not get angry, nor sad, nor do I take to the internet to harass actresses. One thing that hasn’t changed is there is still a lot of shit on it.

But it also has some remarkable programming.

The Amazing World of Gumball

Some years ago, Adventure Time come along. Its whacky colourful world was as imaginative as it was funny, rich and well thought out. Unfortunately, stoners got hold of it and started shouting pretentious shit much like they did with the more recent and much more adult Rick and Morty.

In their insistence on saying how good it was,  how clever it was and how underneath the quirky characters and silly humour, was actually a very adult show with some serious and emotional stories to tell, which it does in unique and interesting ways, these fuckers allowed Adventure Time’s Ego to swell. In pushing boundaries and doubling down with the weirdness and trying to consistently tell interesting stories, it forgot about the quirky characters and the silly humour and well… how to be entertaining.

Rick and Morty suffered the same fate. There were two fantastic seasons with some of the sharpest comedy writing yet seen, interspersed with some subtle depressing moments that led people to declare it was the cleverest thing, it was so deep and blah blah blah. This eventually led to season 3 which was largely shit. The wit was gone, the characters became too inconsistent (unless we’re watching different Rick and Morty’s in various episodes, which is a theory), and all because they kept trying to prove how fucking clever they were. Some of the silly, sharp humour was simply replaced with smug, self-referential ‘meta’ humour. Meta humour is not clever, meta humour is easy and should be used in small doses. Done right it can add an extra element to a show. Otherwise, it simply becomes easy references or an excuse to use clichés (but it’s okay because they admit their clichés so it’s not a cliché).

What does this have to do with The Amazing World of Gumball?  Well, these shows were popular, and as such, spawned copycats. Every show became whacky and self-referential. Every show became ‘lol random!’ every show became ‘quite adult clever, avant-garde and  blah blah blah.’

At first, I assumed The Amazing World of Gumball was just another one of these. Weird animal families, a goldfish that evolved into a member of the family, a whacky world populated with insane characters (one is a piece of toast), but the more I watched, the more I realised its brilliance. With it’s ‘randomness’ it feels like a safe bet that fits in nicely with the millennial trend of said ‘randomness’. However, whereas with a lot of shows offer ‘randomness’ with no substance, The Amazing World of Gumball (in my humble opinion) simultaneously uses this self-aware randomness to its full effect (by which I mean not overdoing it) whilst also satirising shows that try and fail to do the same. It is incredibly juvenile (it’s a kids’ show), but certain elements will appeal to adults (Richard is my spirit animal). There are intelligent, well developed and fleshed out characters that whilst appear insane and ‘out there’ deliver lines of dialogue in an incredibly dry manner. It expertly balances the colourful and quirky with the down to earth and simple.

Most importantly, it doesn’t take itself seriously. It makes no claim to be unique. It does not attempt to be intelligent. It doesn’t try to appeal to both adults and children, it instead does its best to be entertaining, and it succeeds.

Teen Titans GO!

The phrase ‘childhood ruined’ or words to that effect come up a lot. Strangely, they are never said by children, who realistically are the only ones who can have their childhood ruined. It comes up a lot in reference to this children’s TV show. I work in marketing so I can tell you that a children’s show branded something that ruins childhood is not ideal.

The reason so many people have been lamented that their childhoods have been ruined is (fortunately) not due to some chilling realisation that uncle Barry wasn’t actually a doctor and… nope, can’t even finish a paedophile joke, they make me want to cry. Not to mention someone might dig it up in 10 years’ time, successfully getting me fired by Disney.

Note: yes I did add in that James Gunn joke to be topical. I’m trying to appeal to all manner of readers.

Rather, people feel that Teen Titans GO! Is responsible for their childhood being ruined, albeit retrospectively.

Teen Titans GO! Currently has a rating of 4.8 stars on IMDB, which isn’t good news as I view anything below a 6.5 to be unwatchable, and obviously, everyone goes by my technique. To quote the title for one 1 star review “If you loved the first time out for the Teen Titans, don’t watch this”, and the body of another equally negative review

“When I first saw the commercials for this show, I thought, “Oh, hey, they’re remaking one of my favorite childhood shows, I hope it’ll be good.” But I was severely disappointed, and insulted.”

I can see the beginnings of a pattern. The people that don’t like this show dislike it seemingly because it is not like a show they watched at some point in the past. I remember my friends telling me how good the original Teen Titans was and that I should watch it. I didn’t because I was obviously reading Ulysses and had no time for cartoons, titanic or otherwise. This was some time ago. A quick google tells me the final episode aired on the 16th of January 2006. Those who are number savvy will realise that was twelve and a half years ago.

This would mean that even if you were say, as young as eight when you watched the original Teen Titans that would make you currently twenty years of age. Following this line of logic, I can conclude that Teen Titans Go! IS NOT FOR YOU, YOU WHINING CHILDISH FUCK!

I briefly alluded to this current pandemic whilst referencing the Star Wars fandom. These are people that simply can’t let go of their childhood. These are fucking snivelling cowards who can’t accept that time is marching ever onwards and they are now of an age of responsibility, they must take charge of their own lives and make their own decisions. They’ve realised their parents were right when they told them, ‘these are the best years of your life, it’s all downhill from here.’ Rather than sucking it up and accepting their mortality before trudging boldly towards their demise, they turn on Cartoon Network and hope that the magic colour box will give them back their youth.

It won’t. Fucking grow up you creepy adult children.

I don’t see how a children’s cartoon can leave someone feeling insulted, unless a character turns to the camera and says, ‘Graham Smith of 21 Dryden Crescent, you’re a prick!’ (apologies if anyone reading is called such and lives at such, it is mere coincidence). From my limited knowledge, Teen Titans Go! Is actually very respectful of the original, not just due to the many subtle references, but by not trying to imitate the original series. The original series is done. It told a story. Doing the same would serve no purpose and ultimately tarnish a good thing.

So, in this superhero obsessed age of reboots and gritty superpowered punch-ups, where Marvel and DC desperately try and monetise as many of their properties as possible before the bubble bursts, why not reuse the Teen Titans? Except, instead of attempting a gritty, violent reboot like the live action appears to be (which seems very odd. Why market a thing called Teen Titans, which is clearly aimed at a younger audience, Teen is in the title, with gratuitous graphic violence? Unless they’re trying to appeal to the aforementioned fuckers, who will no doubt say that this is shit too before they hang themselves), why not just make it a light-hearted romp in which nothing matters? Wouldn’t it be funny if we took the characters of a show known for its serious story-telling and emotional climaxes and make them caricatures of themselves and put them in silly scenarios? That’s the premise of Teen Titans GO! The Titans are put into comical shorts in which they do surprisingly little superheroing. It’s like a flat share sitcom, starring the Titans.

Sure, the humour doesn’t always land, but at these points, I have to remind myself, I’m a 26-year-old loser watching  Cartoon Network.

Well… that got out of hand.

Tune in next post to read why British detective shows are probably racist and how I often can’t tell which version of Law and Order I’m watching.

Life of extremes

Life has got to the point where all I seem to do is speak to this guy about the most exciting way he could end his life to end the shame of his general lack of success. This is despite the fact that his blog is getting more views than mine recently. My money is on him launching himself from a trapeze and landing anus first on a metal spike.

I’ve often professed that the world is a dull place. If I haven’t I’ll do it now. The world is a dull place. It is an incredibly mundane planet we inhabit, but one we seem to treat purely in extremes. Things are either awesome or awful. It is as simple as that, there is very little occupying that vast chasm in between those two words. Everything is profound, or it is nothing.

People never have days where they feel a bit blue. People no longer feel sad. It is depression. That’s not to do people’s feelings down. Maybe we are all truly depressed. In outsourcing all our responsibilities to technology and living in a climate that allows us to live a life of plenty we have given ourselves time to feel the natural state of being.

If we have a few nights of poor sleep, we say we have insomnia. A party is amazing or it is a disaster.

Is our insistence upon extremes because of this dull world?

Even I am not exempt from this inclination towards exaggeration. I currently need a haircut. If I thought about it reasonably, I’d be able to say it’s fifteen minutes (in an ideal world) of someone snipping your hair, which is the most useless part of our biology. It doesn’t cover enough of our body in such away as to provide any reasonable protection against the elements, but keeps growing nonetheless.

But I don’t get my haircut because it’s awful. Getting a haircut, not my haircut, which is a matter of opinion. I hate getting a haircut so much that for a year I used a pair of clippers under the idea that it can’t be that difficult to trim some hair.

As it turns out I was misinformed and it’s incredibly difficult to trim hair, so naturally had to go bald for a time. I hate it so much, that I’d much rather someone break into my house whilst I slept and gave me a haircut. I wouldn’t even mind if they stole some stuff on their way out, or even let the door open, inviting more less haircut focussed people in to have their violent way with me. Maybe I’ll get lucky and wake up dead… I’ll never have to get another haircut. Unless that weird myth that your hair continues to grow after you’re dead (it doesn’t) turns out to be true, then I’ll have to employ the services of a dead barber.

I just can’t stand it. It’s the worst thing in the world. First you have to go to the hair cutting place which is packed with other people wanting to get their hair cut. Endless bodies topped with hair. Men with their hundreds of children who also need their child hair cutting. Your whole day wasted, sitting in silence as others get their hair removed.

Then you finally get called up and asked that most cryptic of questions, ‘what would you like?’

Obviously from context they mean with your hair. Not just, what would you like in general. They haven’t got the time for that. Even so, it’s a difficult one to answer. A haircut is what I’d like. If you ask for that though they look at you as though you’ve shat yourself.

It’s at this stage the realisation dawns that everyone’s watching you with great expectations. What do you want? Answer the question! WHAT DO YOU WANT!

I tend to panic and start throwing out strings of sentences that make barely a modicum of sense. ‘Shape it round the ears, then even it out?’

‘What?’

‘I want to be able to see my ears, then just, make everything match that.’

‘What do you usually do with your hair?’

‘Do with it? It’s hair I let it sit on my head!’

Eventually, they work their magic and you leave with an itchy shirt.

Then, the after a month or so, the ritual starts all over again.

I know… my heart just wasn’t in it tonight.

 

 

The Beard of Failure

It’s hot today and set to get hotter as the week goes on. I would talk about how this thoroughly displeases me, but I’ve done so in the past and no one seems to have done anything about it. Usually, I try to keep my blogs informative and offer an analysis of a particular aspect of modern life. If not that, I tend to offer newly found works of Hubert J Watergipridget. I try to refrain from talking about myself on a specific level. I do so for several reasons. One is that I’m not prone to vanity like everyone else on the interwebs, posting inane drivel about their trips to the shop or sticking up selfies of them walking through town, slurping a drink that’s far too colourful to be the drink of an adult.

What happened before smartphones? Were we more modest and more focused on the outside world? I honestly can’t remember. It could be that we all secretly harboured thoughts that we would love a platform to post the same picture of our heads over and over again, and it was the world’s loss that the technology for us to do so just didn’t exist.

Alas, we’re in an age of self-obsession. Some time ago, society fought for the noble cause of freedom of speech. Inevitably, this gave way to people thinking they had to speak their mind, not thinking for a second whether their mind had anything worthwhile to say. I can fight against this. Or I can give in.

As I decide this, I shall talk about my beard.

 

IMG-20180625-WA0000

This is my beard, there are many other beards like it…you know the rest.

 

I have a complicated relationship with facial hair. Having grown up reading books about wizards and watching Star Wars, I associated the beard with wise and complicated old men. In the many books I read, if a man with a beard turned up you could be damned sure that some exciting shit was going to kick off. Unless the exciting shit kicker offer was female, in which case she’d be stern and thin-lipped, but kindly and clever. The beard was the mark of wonder. It spoke of an experienced man who had seen much of the world and been on many adventures. He would never express such in simple words. He would allude to it. He would guide the younger generation on their own adventures, only ever stepping in when absolutely necessary (unless it’s Dumbledore, in which case he turns out to be a massive bellend).

Then, there were a number of years (quite recently) when everyone went mad for the beard. Beards of all ‘quirky’ styles adorned the faces of young, generally well-groomed men. Men who were not wise nor kindly, but vain and prickish. Men who had beards because apparently, that’s what men did. Men who thought a mass of facial hair was an adequate stand-in for a personality. The beard became another fad, another branded jacket that everyone must wear. The bigger the better.

pexels-photo-69212

Like this man, sporting the timeless look that says ‘I don’t care what others think, as long as they think that I don’t care.’

Fortunately, that fad has died a death, like all fads. We’ve woken up from a mad and bewildering dream and returned to reality, where a beard is just hair sprouting from a face.

I currently have a beard… sort of.

The main reason for this beard is one of laziness. Just like the main reason for WWII was Hitler and his band of merry Nazis. But also, like WWII there are a number of other contributing factors that allowed Hitler and his merry band of Nazis to gain power in the first place.

Am I still talking about my beard? Yes, I believe so. Like the world-wide atrocity that was WWII, there are many contributing factors to my facial hair.

I have always been a somewhat ambitious person. I have always striven for greatness beyond measure yet have accrued nothing but failure. Since I was about 8 years of age, I have wanted to write a book. I would forever start things, but they would never take off distracted as I was by other things, like pigeons or small pieces of string. Then at the age of 11… ish. After forcing my imagination to work overdrive and instilling an iron discipline in myself, I sat down and typed. I typed and typed and then typed some more. I got type fingers and had to undergo a strenuous period of physiotherapy. Then I typed some more. After years of endless typing, I finished my first novel.

This turned out to be Lord of the Rings. Very soon after realising this, I remembered the Lord of the Rings already existed and was much better than my shameless knock off The Crystal of Doom. I still remember the adventures of the Chain Knights, Lord Syndus and Blakemere setting off with Martin, Keeper of the Dragon Pearls to acquire that damned crystal. So, I threw it aside – figuratively speaking of course, it was on the family desktop. Had I thrown that I would have been in serious trouble. But I had to accept I was a talentless hack. A plagiarist. A copycat, a smelly fat copycat!

pexels-photo-127028

The original copycat, copying everything that cats had previously done. The uninspired hack!

I briefly had the idea that I could be an actor and got no further than an extra role in The Theory of Everything, which to this day I still have not watched. I assume Hawking has a theory regarding all things at one point.  At university, I got the delusion that maybe I could a comedian. After 5 fairly successful gigs and one disastrous one, I concluded that spending £24 on a railcard and then travelling 50+ minutes on various trains and getting lost in London for 5 minutes of stage time was probably not a good career choice.

But, throughout all of this, I have been writing. I have written a multitude of novels across numerous genres for various audiences. The one thing this diverse collection of works has in common is that they are all shit and remain unpublished. For my latest novel, I have thus far received 4 rejection letters from literary agents, the shrivelled leeches of the world of books. It’s their continued existence that makes me question these alarmist reports like this one that suggests that the publishing industry is dying. For starters that was written 2 years ago, and they are still going, so if they are it’s a laboured death Shakespeare would be proud of.  If these odd middlepeople earning their 10% on each author can afford to reject me, it either means the industry is alive and well, or I’m just a terrible terrible writer. I’ve invested far too much time to accept the latter.

book

For my next novel ‘The Big Book of Meaningless Shite’

Beards.

Yes. So, a friend of mine also harbours ambition. We regularly communicate electronically. We’re like the modern-day Tolkien and C.S Lewis, just minus the Christianity bollox… and the Oxford education and writing ability. In frustration of our lack of critical acclaim, we declared that neither of us would shave until we become successful. The logic being twisting and numerous, like the roots of an old oak. For starters, seeing our increasingly hairy faces in the mirror each morning will inspire us to work harder, or remove our mirrors. Secondly, all good writers have a writer beard. They can stroke it whilst looking stoic and thoughtful. Thirdly, shaving it off will come with such a relief when the event comes with hard-earned success. The faces lurking underneath will be renewed with a lust for life and the smiles of satisfied men.

beard 1

The Portrait of the Artist When Doing a Poo

My friend has already shaved. Not because he’s successful, but because he’s a fickle shit who wastes words like a rich man throwing pennies hard into the face of an old blind woman. Though his blog is getting more views than mine on a daily basis, so he has more right to shave than I do.

I, however, am a man of my word. If we do not do as we say, then words will start to lose all meaning and this blog will just be a handful of indecipherable shapes, typed out by someone with too much time on his hands. Despite the obvious bald patches and its ginger colouring, I will continue to sport my face fuzz in the hope that I soon may be rid of it. The alternative is I die with knee-length beard, moistened and matted by the bitter tears of failure.

But at least I’ll die looking a bit like this guy…

long beard

Which makes me think… maybe the bearded men of those old books weren’t that wise. Maybe they were all failures too.

 

Stop with your ceaseless innovation!

I have lived without internet for over a week. This happened to coincide with the force of gravity making itself known upon my phone, smashing it to buggery, which meant I couldn’t even use mobile data. The romantic in me thought that being disconnected from the Internet would allow me to reconnect with the real world, to human beings. However, the romantic in me is a dick. It’s the reason it’s surrounded by an angry cynic. Alas, I had no life-changing epiphany. It didn’t make me appreciate the joy of reading or the wonder of making conversation. I certainly didn’t feel liberated from the oppressive glare of a screen.

In fact, the opposite occurred if anything. Cut off from technology (internet and phoneless) I was unable to communicate with anyone, save for going directly to their house or writing a letter and I wasn’t about to expend the effort of setting pen to paper, cover the expense of a stamp and then post a letter to say, ‘imagine if your head fell off, that’d be funny wouldn’t it?’

Now armed with a new phone and having paid my mum’s internet bill (yes, I currently have to live with my mum, what of it?), I am free to send people all the inane bollox I want.

Speaking of inane bollox, here is a blog. It’s not a very well thought out blog, I tried that with my Trump and knives blog, but that didn’t get nearly enough views to warrant the time and effort spent on it… well, time anyway.

In getting a new phone I had to decide what new phone I wanted. We like to think we enjoy the notion of choice, but in many ways, it just creates more problems. The question ‘what should I have for dinner?’ would be easy if the only option was some sort of tasteless gruel. As it is, we can select from thousands of ingredients to create dishes inspired by all nations. It’s almost impossible to make a decision. Even if you try and keep it simple and go with soup, the possibilities are seemingly endless. Tomato and basil soup, cream of tomato soup, gazpacho, there’s three right there and that’s just the tomato- based ones.

With phones, the choice is even harder, owing to the fact that there are approximately fifteen billion models, all of which consist of a small rectangle that lights up.

Sales assistant: What sort of thing are you looking for in a phone sir?

Me: One that makes phone calls really.

Sales assistant: Oh, very good, very funny. What model have you currently got?

Me: A small rectangular one that lights up.

Sales assistant: Well, that’s quite an outdated one if you don’t mind me saying so. There are numerous small rectangles that light up that are far superior. Why don’t you try this small rectangle?

Me: Does it light up?

Sales assistant: you can even choose the noise it makes when it lights up.

There’s a scene from a play I started to write based on my experience, it doesn’t really go anywhere, but neither has any play I’ve gone to see. Point is, phones have got about as good as they’re going to get, there’s nothing else they can conceivably add. I would say a toaster, but then, that would make it a toaster with an inbuilt phone rather than a phone with an inbuilt toaster… unless it made really small pieces of toast, which would beg the question: why bother?

pexels-photo-336948

A small rectangle showing it’s remarkable ability to light up

Many things have reached the point where any attempts at innovation are likely to have a detrimental effect. I’m not against innovation as someone once chided me for. In fact, I’m all for it, just only in certain areas.

Coke. Coca-cola does not need to innovate; they make coke. They perfected coke when they put it in a can. Canned Coke is the best Coke and anyone who says otherwise is a fucking inbred cretin. They now have the market, there’s simply no need to make anything else. Everyone will always drink coke, unless the place in question only has Pepsi, in which case they’ll have that. Coke makes approximately a shit ton of money from Coke. Anything they’ve done to Coke since canned Coke has been to its detriment. Cherry Coke, Vanilla Coke, Coke with lime. I’ve accepted all those things despite their inferiority; they’d gone mad with success and were trying to hold onto it. Then recently, I saw someone guzzling noisily from a can of Coke with mango.

How the hell did they think that would work? Just because you like two things doesn’t mean that smashing them together is going to work out.

coca-cola-cold-drink-soft-drink-coke-50593

The very best way to have coke shown alongside the very worst way to serve coke.

Then there are toothbrushes. They became about as good as they’re going to get when they put bristles on the end of a stick. There’s a number of adverts stating that the only way to brush our teeth is to have a round head that can rotate six-hundred times a minute, which a few years ago would have been considered a medical disadvantage.

(Pause for laughs)

I am well aware that my caveman ancestor probably had similar feelings with the invention of the wheel. No doubt he said “oh, too good for legs are we? What’s wrong with feet, transport has got about as good as it’s ever going to get.” Before he was hailed as a genius for the invention of the English language.

cave

He was a handsome devil though.

Anyway, conclusion is. Only innovate where absolutely necessary. Once we have flying cars that can fly themselves, then we can stop altogether.

You shouldn’t worry about what others think

It only affects every aspect of your life.

Often, we are told not to spend so much time worrying what others think about us. It only matters what you (the person in question) thinks. Unfortunately, this is yet another thing that doesn’t hold up to much scrutiny. You should definitely worry what others think of you. What others think will decide how you progress in your chosen career (or more likely the career that you tripped and fell face first into and now have to live with forever). What others think of you will determine your relationships and subsequently your family life. Every aspect of your future is reliant on the whims and thoughts of others.

Which brings me onto my point.

We spend our entire lives forced to prove ourselves. First, it’s fairly easy, we must learn to control our bladders. Strangely, we’re the only creature on the planet that does this except for maybe the domesticated dog, but that’s only because we’ve forced it on them. Around the same time, it’s walking and talking.

Then comes school. This is the first of an endless string of proving grounds. You must prove your academic prowess…

*Side note* for those that are interested, the following paragraph is very much a message in one of the amazing short stories written by the great Watergipridget.

You must constantly prove your ability to read words and then to write words. Then you must prove you can grasp the arbitrary rules that surround the notion of words. Let’s be frank. Grammar is shit. For any self-confessed Grammar Nazis out there: not only are you a twat, but the very thing you hold dear was laid down by old dead men and subject to the whims of humanity. The rules of grammar are dictated by use. If we all decided the semi-colon belonged after an ‘n’, then by god this blog would look preposterous.

As you strive to prove you’ve obtained the basics of pedantry, you must simultaneously prove you’ve grasped the deliberately confusing world of numbers and their relationships. “A stall at the fair is selling punnets of strawberries containing 15 strawberries for £2.40 each. How much is each individual strawberry?” – What kind of fair is this? If they’re being sold by the punnet, what’s the point in knowing how much each individual strawberry is? No one’s going to try and by three strawberries.

You must prove yourselves in high pressured exams where you are awarded with letters that follow you around for the rest of your days.

But it doesn’t stop there. If your letters are good you can’t relax after losing your childhood to school. Then it’s the real world’s turn to run you through the ringer and then take a steaming hot turd on your chest. You must constantly prove that you are worthy of those letters against other people with similar or better letters.

You must prove yourself through job applications and then prove yourself in an interview. You must sit opposite strangers as they evaluate your life choices, your looks and your personality. What they think about those will determine whether you’re allowed the job. If you can prove you are better than others, then you can finally become a valued member of society and start earning money.

But it doesn’t stop there.

You can’t relax and think, ‘finally, I can let go of this anxiety and start enjoying life.’ No, then you must constantly prove that it was not a mistake that the powers that be employed you. You have to prove that you deserve to be paid over the thousands of other humans and fairly intelligent lemurs that can do your job. You must work hard. Put the effort in. Put the hours in. You must succeed. It’s not enough to just turn up, which in itself is a challenge.

At this particularly gruelling stage, the fatigue starts to kick in. Your muscles burn (figuratively if it’s an office job, literally if your job is laborious) and your soul starts to weep (always figuratively, otherwise I recommend seeing a doctor). It’s here you start to realise the futility of it all. The criteria on which you are judged becomes arbitrary or downright insane.

Then there’s that weird quirk of humanity. Often, we dwell upon and remember the negative events of our pasts and lightly skim the positive. In the world of work this is turned up to the n;th degree, by which I mean to the point of absurdity. One day you could leap out the window and fall several stories in order to provide a soft landing for a baby dropped from a slightly higher floor. You’ll receive barely more than a nod of approval before receiving an email stating that the time spent saving babies will be taken out of your lunch break. A few weeks later you might fall foul of simple human error and you’re pulled into a disciplinary. ‘but I saved a baby?’ you will cry. ‘We can all save babies!’ they’ll respond.

You’ll start to question why you bother. There’s no benefit to this endless proving. You’ll be unable to explain why the people ahead of are ahead of you. They’re no less deserving than you, but nor are they calculably less competent. You’ll become despondent and even be tempted to slack. But you can’t. The minute you slow down you’ll be overtaken by those behind you.

At the end of these endless trials, when we have eventually ‘proven’ ourselves (with varying degrees of success) as much as we can, we are rewarded with death. It’s at this point you stop wondering if it’s worth all the fuss and realise that it definitely isn’t.

I’m a simple man. I’d quite like to spend my life sitting on a chair in contemplative silence (and the occasional scream of existential despair), every so often, I’d like to look out a window and maybe see a pigeon, though I could happily live without. I am denied that life as that would be too simple. No, I have to go out and ‘try my best’ as the television shows I watched as a child would tell me. You can do no more than your best. We’re all just trying our best and sometimes, our best just ain’t good enough.

I often wonder if I could be one of those people who reject modern life. Who gives up all material things and lives a life of quiet meditation. Then I realise that that’s impossible and the only people that truly manage it are eccentric rich men and odd monks who live in remote locations anyway, so they may as well reject the material because the nearest Apple shop is an expensive flight away.

We humans struggled with evolution. Really, we’re stuck in the tribal phase where ‘survival of the fittest’ meant just that. Those intent on proving themselves would charge around waving spears and bringing death and destruction to those that couldn’t prove anything. I’d have let them get on with it. I’d say ‘no more of this madness’ and sit down and look out a window. Those that could prove themselves did, and those that couldn’t died.

On the surface, we’re civilised now. Those that can’t don’t die. Instead, we linger on.

We keep going,

Hoping for the best

Think not too deeply on these words

I say them just in jest

Don’t let them tell you, you ain’t worth spit

because you failed their test,

After all, we’re all the same

Just some are better dressed.

Note: I have no internet, so had to tether to my phone. To save precious data I didn’t go looking for funny pictures.