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.

 

 

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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.

 

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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…

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

 

The Sins of Our Fathers… and Also Our Mothers.

I have previously shared works from the great Hubert J Watergipridget. As it happens, I have a great deal more to share for Watergipridget is the single most prolific writer that has ever lived. In his time, he wrote 42 novels, 95.3 short stories and countless essays. Literally. People have tried counting but have either gone insane, died or got bored before finishing.

It is well known, like Samuel Johnson or Winston Churchill (and practically everyone post-2012), Watergipridget suffered from bouts of depression. Always keen on one-upmanship, he did not refer to his depression as a black dog, but rather a black bear. His reasoning was, not only would a bear be harder to tolerate, but there’s also the risk of being mauled. The following is perhaps my favourite essay by Watergipridget, taken from the collection ‘Stuff and Nonsense’ and is entitled:

The Sins of Our Father’s… and Also Our Mothers (Unless They’re Adoptive Parents, in This Instance They’re Exempt).

When a woman falls pregnant, people are quick to congratulate both her and he who provided the semen. Strange that we feel this is worthy of congratulation, or any sort of praise. It’s a process mammals have gone through once or twice a year since they emerged, and many of them give birth to far more than one at a time and their mating rituals are often far simpler.

There are many acts of cruelty that humanity naturally abhors. Violence against others, injustice, theft, mental and/or sexual abuse to name a few. The righteous majority will often rise up against these and condemn them for the sins that they are. And yet, the birth of a child is celebrated. The miracle of birth it is often referred to. And what is a miracle? By definition, it is an extraordinary and much welcome event, one that is inexplicable and beyond the power of nature or science, it can only be explained by divine intervention. As I’ve already said, mammals have been giving birth and producing offspring thousands if not millions of years and scientists feel confident in being able to explain it. Having studied the literature, I feel they’ve constructed a convincing argument at the very least. Childbirth then, is not a miracle.

If anything, it is the opposite of a miracle. A veritable elcarim if you will. Pure disaster. A couple with child should not reveal the news with excitement to a loving family, rather they should beg forgiveness at confession. They shouldn’t be congratulated but scolded for their selfishness.

We, having lived enough of life to see the truth of it, know the hardship it brings. We know the torment that comes with each new day. We know the pain of existence and the unbearable length of it all. We know what it is like to wade waist-deep through the trials of each day, struggling against the overwhelming pull of the destructive current. We know what it is like to lay awake at night despite our exhaustion, feeling the dull ache of loneliness. We know what it is like to be burdened by our failures, to feel the sting of loss and succumb to the grip of fear.

In short, we know the pain of existence. It is a state of being that would be considered barbaric to inflict upon a criminal. Yet, without first gaining their consent, we push it upon our children without a second’s thought. There is, of course, no way of gaining consent, seeing as nothing exists before it is created. Before two have come together to jumble up a random mixture of their genes, good or bad (often ugly), there is no life to gain consent from. In other situations, we would decide to leave well alone, for we have no right to interfere with others who have not permitted it.

Yet, we deliberately bring children into the world. They know they have nothing to look forward too and as such are dragged into being literally kicking and screaming. They howl in anguish at the torment you have inflicted upon them. From an early age, they are aware of their mortality and ultimately, the futility of any action they take whilst they live. They are innately aware that happiness is a fickle and fleeting thing.

To bring a child into existence is an act of cruelty. With each passing year it becomes all the crueller as the world they’re destined to inherit becomes harder and more unforgiving. Resources dwindle, disease runs rampant, the environment changes and sea levels rise. Wars loom over every horizon because of our actions. Yet we bring children into being, we raise them, and we cast an arm out gesturing over the scarred and ruined landscape, the concrete jungles populated by bureaucracy, financial strife and isolation. We sweep our fingers over the poverty-stricken scene showing them all the woe their tiny minds can hold, and we say, “all of this is yours”.

Whatever we feel in life. They shall have worse. There’s a reason old folk are known for reminiscing about their day. It was always slightly better. All the way back to our mindless ancestors, scrambling around in the dirt, blissfully unaware of how ashamed they should feel. It all went downhill from there.

We’re more evolved than they were. Wiser, more intelligent some might say. If that is the case, why have we not decided to call it a day?

 

Some may say that this goes some way to explain why Watergipridget never had children of his own. Though there is evidence to suggest that he had dozens of illegitimate children running around the four corners of the globe (except the Americas). This he touched upon briefly in the essay Consistency is for Cowards, Hypocrisy for Heroes.

By Plane or Boat I Shall Not Go

Recently, I was discussing the literary career of Hubert J Watergipridget and all that it entailed. Author, essayist, scholar and amateur taxidermist, Watergipridget was well known in literary circles, but has perhaps disappeared into obscurity, more so than many of his contemporaries anyway. This could be because he happened to get on the wrong side of George Orwell, who subsequently poo pooed his writing.

Others attribute Watergipridget’s failings to the fact that he never really made a name for himself in America. This was not due to his writing not being received well in the States, on the contrary, it was embraced whole heartedly. It is a complex matter. A part of Watergipridget’s allure was in his captivating, charismatic persona. Wherever he went, uproar and festivities followed. Love him or hate him, all admit that wherever Watergipridget was, interesting things would happen.

Alas, he did not set foot on American soil. In his essay By Plane or Boat I shall Not Go, he gives his reasons. It’s an interesting essay that I remember reading when I was studying at university. I forgot all about it until this fateful conversation. After searching for some time, I managed to track down a copy in a Cambridge library in a selection of essays named Endless Waffle edited by some professor called Henry Pretension. From what I gather, the essay is in the public domain, so I’m free to share it with you here.

You’re welcome.

It is often asked of me: why do I show no intention of travelling to the States? Many of my American peers have invited me to stay with them, so I might give a talk at one of their quaint establishments they consider a university across the Atlantic. That delightful fellow Hemmingway once invited me to his home. I remember him being determined that we discuss his latest manuscript ‘A Farewell to Arms’. A farewell to my sanity more like. The whole thing was a disaster. 92,720 words of nonsense. Half of those happened to be ‘Grappa’. What a disgusting drink that is. Wasted his time with that one he did. There was supposed to be a war on, how an ambulance driver got his hand on so much of the stuff was beyond me. I had to turn the old boy’s offer down via a letter. Dreadful refuse though it was, I couldn’t say it to his charmingly round little face. I left my critique in the form of an ironic P.S.

P.S. Read the manuscript. About as entertaining as the Spanish Civil War. Perhaps that could be the setting of your next book. “never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

The quote was of course in reference to his literary career, which I’m sure didn’t go much further.

I must admit, I have been tempted once or twice by such offers. It would, after all, be a fine thing to see the New World as it were.

The problem is the sea. The Atlantic Ocean lies betwixt Europe and The Americas, and I am in a position to say that it is quite large. The only way to cross it is by boat or by an aeroplane, two modes of transport I shall never use.

It is of my opinion that anywhere that cannot be reached on foot is a place one shouldn’t go. Of course, do not take me literally. I have been across to continental Europe having swum the channel. I’ve swum the Gibraltar Strait and explored much of Africa.

I tried to swim to America and got as far as Iceland before I gave up. A strange people the Icelanders. Made such a fuss, it’s as if they’ve never seen a middle-aged author attempt to swim the Atlantic before. Ruined my finest suit that did.

Cars and trains are acceptable, as what is the wheel but an incredibly round foot? One can only dream of a day when we build an underwater train to connect England to the rest of Europe. That’ll make my visits dryer. I hope they never connect Ireland though, if anything we need to widen the gap between that little scrap of land and the rest of the world. Blast it off into the abyss of space I say.

In short, that is why I have never been to America. That and I am a patriot through and through. Anyone who leaves the United Kingdom for longer than a fortnight should automatically have their citizenship revoked. I also hear the food is awful. Their buildings are too tall as well. It’s like they’ve never heard the phrase less is more. No doubt across the pond the phrase is more is more and there should always be lots.

There’s also the matter of their insistence of removing the Us from perfectly good words that have always had Us in them. Color! A Co – lOr. Sounds like a character from one of Tolkien’s detestable books with the little hairy people in them… Greeks I think they’re supposed to be. It’s the English language, you can’t just arbitrarily remove letters from words and replace a few Ss with zeds (or is it zees?) and say you’ve got a culture. Either use the language properly or get your own. You Yankee bastards.

My god if I ever set foot on your soil with my rifle you’ll be sorry. Thankfully you seem to be taking care of that yourselves. You fucking morons. I can’t believe….

The essay continues in this vein for some time, somewhat losing the point. Four pages later it continues.

Grappa? Fucking grappa. It’s the most absurd idea. He spent so much time writing that novel and it was just time wasted. He could have done something more productive with his life, but no, he wrote endless pages about a bed ridden man drinking grappa.

This circulates back to a tirade against America and its people before concluding.

Lewis Carroll was shit as well.

So, there you have it. Hubert J Watergipridget refused to use boats and planes. Or so this essay would have you believe. His military records show he spent time in both the RAF and the Luftwaffe throughout WWII, flying a variety of planes for both, and when not doing that he was in the Italian Navy.

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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

Some sort of end of the world novel

I was incredibly impressed with my last blog post. I spent a lot of time on the graphs. It got four views. So back to the extracts it is.  Here’s something i started working on when it was too hot to do anything else.

Chapter 1

A night to remember.

Andrew woke up with what could be described as the exact opposite of a start. His eyes were open but weren’t quite registering images. He was only vaguely aware of existence, and that awareness mostly manifested itself in the form of a horrific taste at the back of his mouth. Slowly, but surely, other sensations came into being, almost none of them pleasant.

His brain felt as though it was too big for his skull and his gurgling innards gave him the distinct impression that he had eaten a donna kebab last night. There are only two kinds of people who eat donna kebabs, incredibly drunk people and those who gave up on life years ago. He assumed, as hazy memories started floating back to the forefront of his mind, that he belonged to the former.

He sat up and instantly regretted it. The four white walls that made up his box of a room became smeared into one, and for a small moment, he was convinced he was in some sort of afterlife. Spears of obnoxious sunlight pierced his small window and highlighted his generally clean room. Everything was in its proper place, save for his suit trousers which lay in a crumpled heap on the floor not, as they should have been, hanging on the small hook on the back of his door.

He instantly became aware of an immense pressure squeezing his bladder and made an unsteady dash for the toilet. His vision clouded, and his memories became momentarily jumbled as his head failed to adjust to its new altitude. At the age of 28, he could no longer handle his drink. In fact, he had been unable to handle his drink since he was 25. Before 25 he could drink until he could only perceive reality in patches and still make it to work the following morning. One cup of coffee and he’ll be close to okay.

That changed on his twenty-fifth birthday.

He fumbled with the flap in his boxer shorts, searching for his elusive and incredibly sweaty member. At long last he managed to release it from its cotton, polyester blend prison and the bathroom was filled with the sound of his piss.

‘I wish I was dead.’ He groaned to himself. It was not the first time he wished it, and he doubted it’d be his last.

In the kitchen he almost tripped over an empty bottle of sambuca. He stooped to pick it up and almost toppled into the overflowing bin. It always took a while to regain one’s balance after a night of heavy drinking. And heavy it must have been if sambuca got involved. Sambuca is a drink only the already drunk think to drink. Andrew dropped it into the small recycling box, only for it to clink off the top of numerous other bottles and retake its position on the floor.

‘Have it your own way then,’ he hissed before whacking on the kettle. The aged white appliance spluttered indignantly as it went about its task.

They had been at the Rising Sun, a large pub complete with a pub garden… there may or may not have been a gazebo. The summer was trying really hard to prove itself the last couple of weeks. The sun shone from morning to late at night scorching the world below. Needless to say, this meant that there had been hundreds of people squeezed into garden.

Jack had been playing. He had been booked to play. There had been a chalk board outside saying, ‘back by popular demand: Jack Readly.’ Andrew hadn’t really seen much evidence of this popular demand. He had known Jack for years and he only agreed to watch him with great reluctance. It was had been the same old set list. The same one he’d played since the university days.

Andrew selected two pristine white mugs and poured a generous amount of coffee granules into each. He put the kettle out of its misery and poured the day-old water into the mugs. The bitter scent wafted into his nose, making him feel even more sick. With trembling fingers, he lifted the mugs and strolled towards Jack’s door.

Jack’s room was larger than Andrew’s, which meant he had decidedly more room to fill with crap. There was a behemoth of a desktop computer on a desk, around which gathered a number of figurines and tiny statues. Iron man, Captain America, Spider-Man, a xenomorph, Sonic the Hedgehog… they were everywhere. Andrew regarded them with derision… and a hint of envy. Whilst he judged his flatmate for squandering what amounts to hundreds of pounds worth on crap for children, he also envied his ability to take pleasure in having never grown up.

He placed one of the coffees on a cluttered bedside table near Jack’s sleeping head. The head was round and covered in black hair and scruffy beard. His mouth was agape, and Andrew could smell his breath from where he stood. It was not pleasant.

‘Coffee,’ he said.

Jack said nothing. He was dead to the world and once again, Andrew envied him.

Back in the living room Andrew sat down on the sofa, still dressed only in his boxers. He sipped the coffee that was still too hot, but he’d be damned if he was going to wait. He stared at the black television screen, into his own tired eyes. His own cheeks were covered in a smattering of light brown fuzz. His large ears looked larger than usual and his thick hair splayed out in the most remarkable of formations.

His brain must have shut down, as the next thing he knew, Jack was emerging from his room and his mug of coffee was empty.

‘Morning sunshine,’ said Jack grinning. Though it was a forced grin, Andrew could see that he too, was regretting so many life decisions.

‘Don’t use that word around me,’ Andrew groaned. Already he felt uncomfortably hot. His back was sticking to the leather sofa and his testicles were swimming. He detested the sun. He detested it with every fibre of his being. Not only was it painfully bright, stiflingly hot and incredibly intrusive, it also had the remarkable ability to turn everyone into idiots.

‘Must have been a night to remember,’ said Jack. ‘I only wish I could.’ Andrew heard the kitchen tap hissing and cringed at the disgusting slurping sounds his flat-mate made when the idea of filling a glass seemed too much.

‘How was I?’ he asked as he returned to the sofa.

‘Hmm?’ Andrew avoided the question.

‘Last night, the gig, did I kill it? I seem to remember it going well.’

Andrew had been to almost all of Jack’s gigs. A generous person would have said he was very good. A tactful person would say ‘I’m impressed that you got up and did it in front of all those people.’ Andrew opened his mouth and then closed it again.

‘I remember it too,’ he said. Which was only a partial lie. He remembered shutting his eyes and groaning as he moved onto his second ill advised tequila as Jack enthusiastically informed the crowd that ‘this next one is one of my own.’ Andrew couldn’t remember if it was Lisa or You Took My Heart. Both used the same chords, he was sure of it, and both were about Lisa, whose real name was Elizabeth.

‘Two hundred quid they paid me.’ Said Jack, ‘not bad for a night’s work.’

‘You spent one-hundred-and-fifty on drinks.’ Andrew reminded him.

‘No I didn’t… how?’ Jack protested.

‘We moved onto Bluebells.’ Said Andrew, remembering this detail the first time.

‘Bluebell’s is terrible, why would we go there?’

‘Because the Rising Sun was closing. And there were women at Bluebells.’

‘You don’t even like women,’ said Jack.

Whilst this was not strictly true as there are plenty of women in the world Andrew liked, he had to concede the point.

‘That’s what I said, but you were having none of it. Buying rounds for everyone you were.’ He said.

‘Damn… did I get with anyone?’

‘No.’

‘Damn. Well…. Fifty quid is still better than a poke in the eye with a blank stick.’

‘Blunt stick.’

‘What?’ Jack fixed him with a vacant stare.

‘The phrase is a blunt stick. What the hell is a blank stick?’ said Andrew.

‘Oh… I’ve always said it that way. Why a blunt stick. Surely a sharpened stick would be just as bad.’ Said Jack.

‘I can’t imagine either would be pleasant.’ Said Andrew, concentrating very hard on not being sick, ‘You spent eleven-twenty five on a kebab, cheesy chips and a can of coke.’ He added. Jack’s face contorted painfully as he struggled with the maths.

‘Thirty-nine-seventy-five then.’ He said.

‘Then you paid for a taxi, was nine quid.’

‘Thirty pounds seventy-five.’ Jack’s face was falling.

‘You gave him a twenty and said keep the change.’ Said Andrew.

‘Why?’

‘Because you were drunk.’

‘Oh.’

Silence fell on the room for a while. A strip of light came through a gap in the curtains covering the balcony doors. Even that was enough to make Andrew feel incredibly irked, and that wasn’t a word he used lightly.

‘Wait where’s my guitar?’ Jack suddenly stiffened, a look of dread falling over his expression.

‘Roy put it in the back room at the Sun. Said you can pick it up later today.’ Said Andrew.

‘That’s good of him,’ said Jack.

‘Hmm,’ Andrew agreed, though in truth, Roy had forcibly taken it from Jack when he got stuck on an eternal loop when giving his best rendition of Hey Jude.               Jack stood up and made for the curtains. Andrew made to protest, but found he hadn’t the energy and sank into bitter resignation. His flat-mate threw the curtains asunder and the dreaded white light of the sun exploded into the room. Jack stood swaying slightly as he peered out the glass panels of the balcony doors. Nine-floors up they were. Gave them quite the view of the town of Pridgeton.

‘How much did we drink last night?’ asked Jack uncertainly, eyes transfixed on the world outside.

‘I dunno, too much,’ said Andrew. His tongue felt like a dry sponge and the coffee hadn’t helped at all. His head was throbbing and he still felt sick. The words ‘I wish I was dead’ was heading rapidly towards his lips.

‘Enough to miss a nuclear war?’ asked Jack. Andrew considered this question for a moment and recalled the empty sambuca bottle.

‘Probably,’ he said.

‘That makes sense then.’

Andrew frowned. Against the balcony doors, Jack was nothing more than a silhouette, a shadow against a backdrop of white and yellow.

‘What makes sense?’ he asked.

‘The town…’ said Jack slowly. His lips formed words that his brain had yet to form. Andrew rubbed his eyes and groaned before standing up.

‘It’s a shit hole, it’s always been a shit hole,’ he said holding out his arms to steady himself.

‘Yeah, but at least last night it was still standing… and wasn’t so… on fire.’ Said Jack. Andrew joined him by the balcony doors, squinting against the painful intensity of the light. He had to agree with Jack. He had lived in Pridgeton all his life, save for three years of university. It had never been pretty. It was what it was and that was a hastily constructed London overspill built as cheaply as possible. Charm was an expensive commodity and as such, Pridgeton had all the charm of a racist mullet.

It almost looked better in its current state.

Tendrils of black smoke twisted into the air at various points. Tower blocks which had definitely been standing tall the night before lay somewhat more horizontally in the morning sun. Rubble dotted the place, orange flecks of fires winked back at them here and there. Jack hesitantly put his hand on the door handle. It lingered there for a moment before he pulled it inwards. The living room became filled with the sound of distant sirens, the chug-chug of helicopters and the occasional shrill scream.

In short, the general sounds of disaster.