…Mutiny on the Sofa….

A few weeks ago I had the misfortune to find myself shopping in Asda. No one deserves this especially me on a Saturday afternoon but I was forced in by proximity rather than choice. The Saturday ‘big shop’ tends to involve me these days as I have little to do on a Saturday morning and I kinda like watching people function as, well… people. Most supermarkets are horrific places to visit but Asda takes the crown for a particularly virilant strain of the human soup so I was keen to experience some hard core scumbaggery first hand.

We trundled towards the doors with our trolley and as ever I have chosen one with a dodgy wheel. I usually get a twitchy wheel but today I have chosen one with part of a carrier bag caught in it so it is acting like the break is on. Being too lazy to go and get another one I ploughed on regardless fighting the fucker around the aisles like Judah Ben-Hur after a collision in a chariot race for the next 40 minute. Once inside I am greeted with a sign that is bound to raise the spirits of even this luckless trolley grabber.

“Corona Extra, 2 x 12, 330ml bottles for £18”

Happy. Days.

There is loads of it, crates of it, untouched and unloved due to the announcement of a virus out East (not Ilford) with a similar name to this and the fear amongst the populus that anything with a similar name must induce certain death if purchased, drunk, eaten, licked, talked about or even looked at.

As I look at the ludicrously priced beer (I can never recall this being under a quid a bottle ever) I am filled with panic and concern the like of which I cannot recall in adulthood. It’s not that I believe I will be taken by the virus but more the possibilty that my trolley might not be big enough to take advantage of this moment. In a flash I am filling the trolley with boxes of this amber treat only to be thrawted by Jen who limits me to a mere 24 bottles. She’s probably right, I barely drink beer at home and judging by the amount available and the clear stupidity of the punters in this place there won’t be a run on it any time soon so there should be no panic either from being Corona Extra free or Coronavirus riddled.

We mooch about the shop buying the food for the week being avoided by other punters set on filling their trolies with ‘Frubes’ and ‘Wotsits’ due to the booze of death I have on board and once we have our fill we find the busiest and slowest checkout (my speciality) manned by what appeared to be a very pleaseant middle aged women. As an expert of conveyor belt ettiquette, I lift the 2 crates of Corona up first in order to get them scanned and and out the way and am met with a face of horror by the prevously pleasant checkout operative.

” Why are you buying that? (* points at box), you know what this is right?” she says.

I nod.

“…but you know why people aren’t buying it don’t you?..” she continues

I nod again, “..It’s because they are stupid..”

She wrinkles her nose in disgust and bleeps the boxes through barely touching them.

We have no further interaction and so Jen and I escape the shop with our IQ’s intact and our beer supply boosted.

When I told this story on my Facebook at the time it was a bit of a laugh due to the fact that this level of fuckery wasn’t wholly normal. Look at us now. I am currently self islolating and the country is in a 3 week lockdown, mostly targeting those not intelligent enough to understand why we are doing it at all.

Coronavirus. A very nasty flu like virus which primarily affects the old or those with generally serious underlying health conditions. The rest of us seem (from the information dripped out so far) to get either no symptons, mild symptons or bad symptons, basically anything can happen from nothing to death. Clearly this is a very serious unpredictable situation requiring cool heads and inspiring leadership.

Ahh…. Here’s the problem.

The wheels have come off and the mob in charge have no chief mechanic, have no effective tools and the garage down the street is shut due to a change of management. It’s not my intention to be political here but I’m afraid it will almost certainly go that way even though no party would be any better than the other given the magntiude of the crisis. Having said that it is hard to fathom how a morally bereft smirking bumbling Oaf and the ‘Megamind’ Sorcerer-in-Chief de facto leader can be trusted on any level to assist the common cuntery of this country regardless of them holding up a very large bag of cash for us all to see but not touch, open or obtain the delights within.

Even before this crisis kicked off the Tory party had failed. Years of neglect of the very organisations that will get us through any life threatening global crisis (whether war, pestulance or famine) are now coming home to roost due to policies of greed and self interest….. but enough about me, let’s start with the repsonse from the Leadership Team.

There is nothing more British than a man in an ill-fitting suit, with a mop top hair style waffling on, smirk fixed, using language only a small proportion of the nation can relate to in a wood panelled room flanked by two dour experts as decoys. When this all started Johnson was bumbling through it like the Etonian he is at a 6th form debating club. When the daily briefings started it was all bombastic soundbites and cheeky grins with the tough bits, the ‘hard yards’ as it were, being carried out by other people who I’m sure most of us welcomed as they were proven bona fida experts as oppossed to parliamentary bluffers, special advisors and, lets face it in the case of Matt Hancock vacant terrified idiots.

Initially Johnson burst out of the gate and gave it large on the ‘we will beat this together’ lecturn thumping cobblers much the same as he did with ‘Get Brexit Done’. Unlike Brexit this is an issue that will affect everyone rather than a few ‘peasants’ in a council estate in Grimsby and so Johnson needs to acheive the impossible feat of national love which is only really reserved for NHS workers, GBBO and Stephen Fry.

As the briefings went on Johnson visibly shrunk and the cheeky quips (‘Operation Last Gasp’ when talking about ventilators) disappeared as the realisation dawned that you can hoodwink some of the country on Brexit but not the majority when people start dying from a virus you know fuck all about. This was well above Johnson’s ludicrous pay grade and so he started to take more of a back seat leaving the important stuff to slicker, more believeable machines like Sunak, Vallance and Whitty.

When Johnson was in front of the camera he adopted the persona of a reluctant prefect or corridor monitor who instead of insisting chaos stopped he kind of asked politely. He did briefly forcefully ask but instantly changed it to apologetic as he looked into the camera and saw the reflection of ‘good old Boris’, the jovial knob ‘bursting with spunk’ instead of what he should be, a man leading what was once the 5th biggest economy in the world in a moment of global crisis.

As I say, Johnson left the big stuff to other people. Rishi Sunak, the Cummings appointed ‘assistant’ Chancellor was rolled out and delivered a very slick Private sector speech whilst holding up a massive stinking bag of filthy cash no one seems able to access. The bag apparently contains £330bn in unmarked bills stolen in advance from your future taxes and is greater than the GDP of the Republic of Ireland. It is a huge amount of cash but at present just a soundbite as people have started to get laid off and businesses are folding due to delaying the process of obtaining anything tangible at speed. It all sounds great in a moment of panic and to be fair the Tories will get away with it if they partially pull this off as Labour effectively don’t exist anymore regardless of the belief that their policies have been nicked. If you wear no crown you aint the King and anyway we’ve all worked with bosses who stole our ideas in front of our very eyes moments after we suggested them and we all know no one cares if you complain.

After a few days asking politely for the public to listen to him we were finally subjected to a national address which only the thick really needed.

Johnson took to the airwaves with a speech so dull that I’d be suprised if most people didn’t simply switch off or at least leave the room to put the kettle on in preparation of ‘Masterchef’ and another gurning shag macjine Greg Wallace. Johnson deleivered the bad news of ‘lockdown’ (with multiple exceptions exploitable to his Brexit mates) through a face previously only used by him when realising the public actually voted to leave the EU. He engaged the startled face with wide eyes look reminicent of Alan Partidge whenever he gets found out or shouted out by ‘Susan’ the Receptionist in the Linton Travel Lodge. My only surprise was that as the broadcasst ended and the screen faded to black we didn’t hear “…Errr….Sorry…” like like a fat Hugh Grant apologising in a Rom Com when he’s done nothing wrong but feels he has because he’s English.

So ‘Lockdown’ it is and if you don’t comply the police will have no power to do anything about it. Hardcore.

Under the new life rules you can’t have a beer in a pub but you can get on a tube train. You can’t have a haircut (what a time to be bald, they are now the Princes of this land) but you can go to Tesco’s to buy the beer you can’t get in the pub…if you can find any. You must keep a distance of 2 metres between you and other people unless they are in your household where you have unwittingly been involved in a backdoor version of ‘herd immunity’. You can leave your house to excercise but probably not a 10 mile run. You can’t have a BBQ on a council estate with a load of toothless, lottery obsessed professional smokers drinking cans of Breaker but you can join the online queue for ‘Ocado’ with 78,000 other people who also have no prospect of getting a delivery slot.

A bigger problem than the politicians is the people. This virus has highlighted the fucking state of intelligence not only in this country but in the wider world. To be fair at present I couldn’t give a Wuhan food market Monkeys about the wider world so I’ll concentrate on our good old British Bulldog, John Bull, Lovely pint of Bitter and a roast dinner spanners instead.

The levels of stupidity shown by this country since this crisis started is incredible.

Food shortages, hoarding of toilet roll (fuck knows), NHS staff being mugged, food supply trucks being firebombed, the inability not to go out in large groups. The list of the stupid is endless. I’ve been self isolating for 9 days now and I have adhered to all the rules. Of course it’s dull, of course it’s a pain in the arse but it is necessary. Luckily I’m one of these tragically dull model citizen types and so I do what I’m told. I’ve always worked, always paid my taxes, never claimed a penny, never been arrested and never been involved in a public disturbance. Turns out a lot of people don’t do this. It turns out that when it all comes on top people are selfish and greedy from top to bottom.

The hoarding in particular has been a national embarrssment. When old ladies can’t get any food because some massive Lambert and Butler fat necked savage has taken all the milk and eggs you know the world has ended. The repricing of goods in local shops must be remembered as should the big firms either sacking people or forcing them to work under these circumstances so shareholders and fat cats can still prosper.

This should be what is remembered by all of us. The strokers who took the piss. Remember them and we might actually get somewhere after all this that will be for the better. It’s not ‘entrapreneurial’, it’s taking liberties. Villians are entrapreneurs and we mostly dislike villians because they prey on the weak and the vulnerable. So if you remember nothing else in our islolated bubbles over this remember the piss takers and forget the £3.29 pint of Guinness in a Wetherspoons, forget the Lonsdale t-shirt sale in Sports Direct, stop using the local Pharmacy with the £20 Calpol and £15 hand sanitiser claiming ‘market forces’ and ‘I’m a local trader trying to earn a crust’ excuses and use somehwere else. Remember the Greed.

None of us will though. Wetherspoons will be banged out within hours of any reopening and be filled with pissed toothless oafage and if you need some jogging bottoms you’ll be heading into Ashley’s warehouses with the surly staff and fake discount labels like a shot. The local Pharmacy will get away with it and continue to thrive as we can’t be arsed to seek out the next one closest to our houses. We’re lazy and they know it.

The Government also know that the public are stupid. They know as they have to really drill it home with ludicrous rules like ‘Stay 2 metres apart’ which is clearly bollocks of the highest order. If two metres is the government stipulated distance you can guarantee that it’s really 2 feet as they have created a margin of error for those of a more challenged brain.

Due to being incarserated for 9 days I’ve soaked up as many ‘facts’ as possbile about this thing in order to come to some sort of consensus on the truth. I’ve listened to phone-ins, Governmental Briefings, Scientific briefings, chat shows, information bulletins and news specials and it would be fair to say that they have mostly said the same stuff but you do get the odd error made by an expert which strays from the party line. There was one instance inparticular relating to the 2 metre rule that hit my earholes. The expert was asked to reiterate the guidance but added the clearly unwanted sentence of ‘so long as you don’t stand talking to someone for 15 minutes within 2 metres you should be fine’. I’m not into conspiracy theories but this was a chink in the armour for me.

If you think saying this is a little bit irresponsible of me then fair enough. I’m not breaking the 2 metre rule because I’m a stickler for rules but people will. All Governments have to preach to the lowest common denominator in society and the test sample is usually the dim or the message will be lost.

This situation isn’t really that hard though is it?….or at least it shouldn’t be. What we are being asked to do is pretty basic at present:

  • Wash your hands regularly and try not to touch your face
  • Stay home where possible – make no unecessary journeys
  • Stay at least 2 metres from people outside of your household

To be fair the Government have stuck with this but it still doesn’t get through to proportions of not only this county but also around the world. I should also say that I’m aware that these 3 simple steps won’t help everyone but the majority can help those individuals who are ill or simply old by adhering to these basics so is it really too much to ask? You’d have to be pretty selfish to not be able to do follow these three instructions for an extended period of time if it could save people from suffering or dying.

In this house we are lucky. Jen and I have always been able to work from home (rarely at the same time however) and the kids are at the middle age of not needing us to entertain them nor are they loose on the streets of London yet, they are at the mid point of teenage life where you are merely poking your head out of the family home rather than having to be reigned in.

Working from home sounds great but it truly isn’t. In recent years I spend most of my days with limited contact with work colleagues as they spend there time’out there’ but I do need an office as a focal point. Mostly working from home is a brilliant option for getting a specific, concentrated task completed but it’s no place for general work as distractions are everywhere even when you are alone.

I find that I can be working away and suddenly have an overpowering urge to fill a bird feeder or perhaps repostion the bins. Another task on my patrols is checking the cupboard to see if we have enough snacks to get us through the day and if not I may need to head out to replenish the dwindling stock of ‘Rocky’ bars. The dishwasher isn’t emptying itself and those plates in the 16 year olds bedrooms won’t magically float down the stairs so I’m all over that too. As as good citizen working from home it is only right and proper that I check that ‘Homes under the Hammer’ has started and that talent vaccum and full time prick Dominic Littlewood is still employed by the BBC with my licence fee feeding both him and the many offspring he has produced to be future employed, fucking me off on daytime TV for the rest of my life. If I don’t carry out these tasks when working from home who will? I can’t risk leaving this shit to Jen as she is far to diligent and focused.

Working for home will lose it’s novelty fairly quickly in this house as we never do it simultaneously and particularly with two teenagers mooching about chucked into the mix but I see little chance of it not continuing for some time to come as it’s the easy, safe option for maintaining some form of basic societal stability in a lockdown. All you can prove when jointly working from home is the strength of your relationship as you haven’t really spent this amount of time with your partner and kids without a swimming pool, large Gin and Tonic and a fawning waiter looking for a few Euros. If you aren’t solid as a pair it will become a nightmare pretty quick I’d imagine.

The real issue in all this upheavel is the youth of this country. I feel for the younger generation. This will harm them and especially those who, like my kids, were on the cusp of venturing out to experience life in full for the first time. That has temporarily gone and so when this is over, and it will be end, we need to unleash the freedom.

Will my life change drastically? Not really. My social life has dipped to a horrific level over the last few years with only regular outings with two of my mates taking up the bulk of it. The rest of my circle are two or three times a year meet ups at best so a lockdown aint killing me too much. I’m sure we’ll all hear the old ‘we must meet up’ sentence in the wake of this but like the rats in my garden that I’m engaged in an ongong ‘working from home’ war with, we are creatures of habit and will simply lapse back into the normal partial social isolation we had before all this started soon enough. Sadly that is the life we lead and I am no different.

So we are now all isolated in our houses, trapped with resrictions unheard of outside of a Cruise Ship. We are all now pensioners on the all inclusive cruise where you see the same people everyday for meals. The garden (if you have one) is the deck where you can take short strolls and get fresh air, you have access to unlimited entertainment at your fingertips in the form of TV channels you never knew existed or even needed. The menu is on a 7-10 day rotation (subject to availability) and the bar has nothing new as you did the lot in the first 3 days at ‘sea’. Your cabin seems smaller than when you arrived and every day you are under little pressure to do anything except hurtle toward older age. There’s no point complaining because you are the Captain of your own shipwreck if you do and mutiny is pointless as you already control the fucker from the sofa. It’s a Saga holiday for the lot of us. We are trapped on the ‘Lavender of the Seas’ with only the stench of piss and digestives to revive us from an afternoon nap.

As I write this Johnson lies in a pool of his own effluent eating pizza and toast as that is all they can get under the door of his private apartments in Downing Street. I’d imagine the chances of him being able to function without his dormatory ‘Fag’ Gove dabbing his brow with a wet flannel while dropping lightly buttered toast into his mouth are slim to none. I did see a moment of sympathy for Johnson since he tested positive with ‘minor symptons’ but to me he’s in a better place than the rest of us who mostly know nothing with regard to whether we have had it, actually have it now or might get it. He’s had the test and is now under the microscope so he won’t be allowed to suffer in self isolation to the point of requiring a ventilator before he can rock up at an over burderned A&E department. As for the fact that he can’t see his pregnant girlfriend well let’s not waste any more time worrying about that as he’s spent most of his child producing life actively avoiding both the pregnant and the beings his filthy spongle created.

Prince Charles is also in the ‘Mild Symptons’ boat and like Johnson he won’t be opening a tin of beans with a rusty nail in a confined space either. When I heard that he was self-isolating at Balmoral my initial reaction was less ‘Poor sod’ and more’ lucky fucker’. There’s plenty of space for him to walk about up there, lots of food available to shoot and a long list of expendable footman willing to risk a snotting nose for a Knighthood even if its posthumous.

Rubber lipped glove puppet Gove currently seems to be the last jub standing after Hancock also fell ill. This means that he’s possibly running the country at present because I don’t believe Dominic Raab is capable or trusted to actually wash his own hands let alone insist that others comply. Gove’s first act wearing the black hanky on his head this morning was to issue what seems to have been a threat to the nation in his customary CBBC bedtime story manner that if we aren’t all good boys and girls more stringent restrictions will follow. This probably seems like a good idea given all I’ve ranted about above but as a nation we don’t respond well to threats and so this one, from the last bloke out and up over the top of a blood and guts filled trench, seems more like a challenge. To be fair I’m fully prepared for more draconian measures but like I said I’m a trained soldier prepared to follow orders. Gove needs to be careful with this one as policing such a measure will need a robust response likely to fuel the fire.

And what of the architect of Chaos hismelf? The ‘Cunt-in-Chief’ as it were, La Grand Fromage, the Professional Agitator, the Grima Wormtoungue in this Tolkeinesque story of desolation at the hands of an unseen enemy?

Where is Dominic Cummings?

From the start of the outbreak he lurked in the shadows with all the other misfits and weirdos wielding great power with absolutely no fucking responsibility. Then he arrogantly let slip with a modern verison of the fantastic Scrooge quote to ‘reduce the surplus population’ by suggesting that money and the economy is above the deaths of a few pensioners so best we crack on with. Now he sees his Sorcerers power fading as his ‘host’, the ratty haired fop, lies stricken with the virus. Upon hearing the news that Johnson was suffering from the fatal ‘mild symptons’ Cummings was seen fleeing number 10, in a run that only the non-athletic are capable of, like the Rat he is. Gone in a flash, scuttling, slithering away to ‘Castle Huge Cranium’ hopefully with his self created ‘career’ hanging in rags.

If any individual in this current human tragedy needed a dose of reality (other than Trump) in the form of the devastating ‘mild symptons’ it would be Cummings as he needs to realise that you cannot stave off a virus like this with massive self importance and an absolutely unrelenting belief in your own huge intellect and the use of ‘mind bullets’.

We all hope that this will end sooner rather than later and that it will leave us with a better planet to live on. Perhaps a place where empathy and sympathy (not two traits in my cannon to be fair) are the new human emotions. We all want a world of caring and sharing and this moment has highlighted it like no other. Of course we’ve had wars but in wars you can instantly fight back in most circumstances. This is a war without bombs, a war without sides and so we just have to do the simple stuff and help each other until it is under some sort of control.

The tradegy is that this is unlikely to change much or at all. Even in the current situation the greed is overpowering and all the promised cash to save the country isn’t free and will need to be found later. The greedy still function just like criminals will. The news were reporting yesterday from the briliant that ventilators now cost $40,000.00 dollars each instead of $25,000.00 as there is a shortage. Imagine that? Imagine ramping that up when there is a life saving need.

In this country we have seen that people would rather throw food away knowing they had it than share it. Inevitably we will now see increased flouting with regard to the social distancing rules as the ‘Fuck this shit’ society tries to break free. Looting is a distinct possibility even if you think no one would do that at present. Crime continues regardless of the situation and in most cases it grows. Shootings are still happening and are in fact rising, Gang war stabbings still happen but only some of us are aware of that. I had this conversation a few years back with regard to the Grenfall Tower tragedy when I suggested it would be exploited by fraudsters and was met with complete outrage. Those frauds are still being uncovered and people are still going to prison for it. The scum rises to the top in these situations as the good people are preoccupied with prevention and rebuild with no extra benefit other than a sense of duty to assist.

As I said earlier this is a time to remember and although we will forget the profiteering, the personal billionaires needing bail outs, the Celebrity Chefs sacking their staff, the landlords turfing people out so they can raise the rent what we must remember the heroes of all this.

Primarily remember the NHS who have been dismantled for years by numerous Governments but now selflessly put themselves in danger for us. Remember how emotional the round of applause was in your street last week. That is heartfelt stuff from the people to the people.

Remember the battered and abused shop worker, and cleaner who gets fuck all in the wage packet for proper hard graft way beyond the capability of a soft palmed old Etonian like the now almost invisible Rees-Jub locked in the kind of filthy upper class hovel these eccentric lunatics live in when they are resposible for their own hygiene.

Remember the Police, Fire Service and Paramedics underfunded and under resourced yet still out there helping us while risking their own health. No one is immune.

These people are the Heroes.

Tough, Tough times ahead I’m afraid so do your bit…Wash you hands, Stay your distance, Avoid the unecessary for a while.

So as the isolation continues and I trundle downstairs to check on whether that talentless bald plum Dominic Littlewood is invading my viewing today I find myself in the kitchen which is like a scene from a 40’s melodrama directed by Noel Coward when life was simpler.

Jen has gone full pencils-up-the-nose’wibble’ and is doing a puzzle of an idilic English village scene and Boo is making a Lemon drizzle cake. In the garden the Rat traps are set as me and my neighbour continue to wage war on vermin content in the knowledge that at some point we may be forced to roast, boil or fry them to survive. The Boy remains within his enforced cell slowly going blind but who can blame him? He now lives in a the world vividly recreated in ‘WALL:E’ where rotund fat bodies sit in chairs with screens fixed to their eyeline as that is their only form of communication. Devices and the much maligned social media now rule the world or at least for a bit and if I stop the boy using it he suddenly has no form of communication with his own generation. That is why we need to crack this as soon as possible. The youth need their youth back as it’s gone too soon for a life of adulthood.

Anyway, enough of me, I’m a busy man. I’ll be out after dark selling powdered egg, parachute silk and Woodbines behind an abandoned Wetherspoons in Putney if you fancy it…

Onwards….

.. Two, Zero, One, Nine…

Some things could or would benefit from being shorter. The last Arctic Monkeys album (2-3 seconds would have been the optimum length) and horrific quilt invading talent vaccum Warwick Davis after a failed parachute jump are just two examples. With this in mind this effort about 2019 won’t be to my usual epic proportions as I’m pretty certain most of us just want to move on from the fuckery of the last 12 months.

2019 was an absolute shocker of a year on nearly all levels for me. It had the lot. Death, uncertainty, worry, misery, poor music, savagely shit films, gloating Tories and a football team incapable of providing anything close to what could been deemed acceptable even if you were watching them over a park on a pitch without a net.

Brexit….of course…. Brexit with a twist of General Election chucked in….

2019 was the year that the country lost its fucking mind and decide that not only did it really really want Brexit but it would also trust a massive bunch of self serving strokers to deliver it even though it’s almost certainly undeliverable from the dream they were sold. Don’t give me that old ‘Remain parties won more votes’ bollocks because I the second largest party in the country was split hence the result. Britain became a microcosm of the Good Ole United States of America where truth was irrelevant and handing power to a fuckwit who might be a ‘bit of a laugh’ was a great idea. We have become the shouty drunk in a pub as a nation. The bloke who gets barred but won’t fuck off, Lager top drinking, all year round three quarter length trouser wearing, calf tattoo sporting, ‘Peaky Blinders’ hat wearing Ponce of a country.

The Tories swept to power and Brexit will happen. It’s what the people wanted. Democracy… The filthy stench of Democracy and the words the ‘people’s decision’ has been rammed down our throats for nearly four years and has resulted in half the nation walking around with smirky faces without really understanding what is about to happen. This might sound a bit arrogant but I am yet to find a Leaver who can actually tell me how this will work or how it will be delivered. All you usually get is ‘It’s done’ and ‘we have control back’. No detail is provided and if you push for it you get told to return to the previous answers or, more simply: ‘Just. Get. Brexit. Done’.

Brilliant.

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson it is, the Everyman, the common Old Etonian of this perfidious Albion, working hard for the little people, a champion of democracy and loving father to Theodore Apollo, Cassia Peaches, Milo Arthur and Lara Lettice Johnson to name a few. There are other kids but Hey!! when you’ve chucked your spongle around as much as this bloke has it’s hard to recall all the names of all the webbed toed freaks you may have sired in a hotel toilet, Top hat cupboard or wine bar cloakroom.

Mental but true. The country overwhelmingly appointed a hunchbacked, mop topped, racist, compulsive liar, ‘busting with spunk’ (his own words) serial adultery to the highgest position the country has. Perfect stuff for a soon to be reborn 1950’s United Kingdom where we will wallow in self pity and xenophobia created by the hand of bitter biggotted masses living in parts of the country devoid of diversity.

The Tories didn’t even have to try too hard this time. All that was necessary was to pile on the bullshit to a bored public and goad a limp gulible Labour Party into an election thay had no chance of winning as the hordes couldn’t see themselves having a pint with the lunatic in charge of the opposition. As usual during election campaigns in this shithole the Tories circled the wagons, hid the bigger idiots like Rees-Jub and that loathsome ponce Francois and lied their way into the hearts and minds of a dissaffected nation who lapped it up. The country fancied trusting a manifesto which only promised (in the loosest sense) to restore us to our position of 2009 over a manifesto of weapons grade bollocks which no one really believed. It’s a shame because I always wanted free broadband, free parking, free travel, the brand new set of Jim Carrey phosphorescent teeth courtesy of the NHS all at the Government’s expense but this was widely rejected in favour of professional cobblers delivered by unaffected multi millionaires with smirky punchable faces.

Outstanding.

Luckily I’m a Londoner and so over the next decade of Tory rule, because Labour will need that long to remove the Comrade who still believes he won something, I can sit back with a clear conscience with my massive wages (non London perception) drinking pints of Guinness, imported so £17.90 a pint and say ‘Told you Dimwits’ while the Northern, Eastern and Western ‘Powerhouses’ enjoy the power of the phrase being used endlessley without any promised investment being realised as no opposition exists to fight their corner. They fell for that without expecting total Tory dominance…. time to suck it up Arbuthnot because these Tories ain’t too truthful. Johnson doesn’t need you now, He don’t need the ERG, The DUP or the EDL. He has the lot in the palm of Dominic Cummings scaly reptilian hand. Let the suffering begin.

As I write this on New Years Day I note that the man leading the party I voted for remains defiantly in place and is now describing himself as ‘The Resistance’. Incredible stuff from a bloke who has not only lost two elections in a row but also presided over the biggest defeat for the people’s party in multiple decades, quite a feat really given the absolute cuntery on offer from the Tories.

The Magic Grandpa remains in place and no one really knows why. Given the scale of the defeat anyone with half a brain would have gone by now and those who remain would have reassessed the strategy without thinking they had won something or ‘won the argument’. Corbyn is a stubborn relic who hasn’t actually realised that this Country is centre-right at best and Labour’s most successful leader was really a closet Tory. This election was a catastrophic failure for Labour and so a rebuild is required and not simply a continuation with a similar unlikeable, unelectable head with limp wristed dreams of nationalisation and freebies.

It is what it is. Brexit will be delivered and we’ll just have to chow down on the shite sandwich and take it because any route to stopping it has been emphatically destroyed with a majority Government of professional destructors and a public so fucked off with talking about it that they would rather engage in national mass suicide where woodbine, powerded egg and silk stocking sellers will thrive than endure any more uncertainty.

Johnson is now indestructible. He is Thor, Captain America, Thanos and Captain Marvel in one, wrapped in inappropriate loosley fitting jogging clothes sweating, lying and fucking his way to the top. Nothing can stop him.

Sleep with a stripper with public funds and get a court injuction so no one can question it? No problem.

Hide a report of Russian interference? or course you can Son!!

Lie to the Queen? No problem (I know someone wo was genuinely convinced the Queen would personally intervene on Brexit… Imagine that..)

Go on Christmas holiday to Mustique with an entourage paid for by the public? Knock yourself out, youre in charge…who gives a fuck? No one can stop you…. Just Smirk…

Johnson, a Toff embraced by the masses because he made a Party Political broadcast where he made a cup of tea, said ‘Hi’ to a strategically placed intern from a minority group and pretended to like The Clash and a Thai Curry. Expect more thumbs up, more use of ‘folks’ and ‘Guys’ while all the while he smirks and fucks and smirks and fucks his way to a few more bob in his silk lined pocket.

Good Luck strokers this is on us ‘The People’….well, some of us. But fear not sweet Remainiacs, Johnson has offered the hand of friendship by describing us as ‘equals’ on the opening day of the new decade. ‘Equals’ eh? what a cheeky fucker. Poke it Johnson, I’m better than you….

(…got an headache now….and a slight sweat on..)

Of course all the politics was depressing and ultimately boring hence the public collapse of interest, so what was positive about this year……Hmmmm…. Tricky one..

‘Fleabag’ was truly magnificent and even though it started in 2016 I only watched it last year. It was outstanding on all levels, funny, well acted, sad, brillinatly written but strangely beyond the understanding of ‘mere men’ as I was told on more than one occasion by several women online I’ve never met. Funny is funny I’m afraid and so it transcends gender, race and religon. If a noise comes flying out of the hole under my nose I’m happy. ‘Fleabag’ is 12 of the most perfect episodes of anything I’ve ever watched and if you haven’t seen it you should.

The only other great comedy of the year was the return of Alan Partridge. It wasn’t to the previous levels overall but when Coogan portrayed an Irishman lookalike being interviewed by Partridge it amplified the genius of Coogan to God-like levels. It will become a legendary comedy moment viewed for years to come.

While I’m on the subject of the Irish there was ‘The Irishman’ with almost everyone who has ever played a gangster playing a gangster. An epic tale by Scorsese but a bit long and wordy for the popcorn eating ‘Superhero’ generation, not enough cities flattened or explosions. I’m into acting rather than whether the story is realistic or whether De Niro isn’t irish enough to be the titular character. He was superb as were all the heavyweight cast. For the uninitiated De Niro has played an Irish Mafia enforcer before in ‘Goodfellas’ when he was Jimmy Conway… No one cared then and no one should care now. He’s also partially Irish in real life on his Dad’s side. There was no need for Liam Neeson to be cast in that role as he can ‘do action and is Irish’ as was suggested to me on one occasion.

Great acting was also evident in ‘Joker’ where Joachim Phoenix appeared in every scene and must be a shoe-ing for the Oscar. A dark , disturbing film with real meaning but I’d imagine some studio will fuck it up in the future by adding a flying car or some moody geezer in a cape. These were the two best films I entertained this year so not a great year for celluloid in my view.

Disapointing seems to be the key word of the year. Very little impressed during this 12 months although that may really have only have been for me and my expectations.

My biggest dissapointment may have been the complete downfall of the Arsenal. This absolute fucking car crash started in May when we decided not to turn up for a cup final where the stakes were even greater than the trophy you could win on the night. I was almost embarrased to support the club I first saw in 1975 that night. No fight, no guts, no talent, nothing.

The cardinal rule of most sport and inparticular football is that you should never set up scared of the other side. Let them worry about you. Unfortunately we were led by a bloke so cautious he could do nothing else, and with the start of the new season he continued to dismantle any fear anyone had of us. On the final occasion I saw Brighton bully as at home to laughing from the home support. This resulted in him rightly being sacked and we now find ourselves in a limbo season where the only interesting thing is the rebuild taking place. Top value as ever and at least we had the Cricket to fall back on…

As bad as it seems for us Gooners it’s even worse across North London where Spurs sullied any respect I ever had for them by employing serial prick and money Hoover Jose Mourinho who is a manager who has acheived the impossible of being hated everywhere he’s been even though he’s successful. This could only be panic by Spurs but my God, what panic it was. It was the most angry I’ve been all year which says a lot for my dislike of this punchable little tosser. For the first month of his tenure a club as historic as Spurs was referred to as ‘Jose Mourinho’s Spurs’ by national radio…. the fucking embarrassment of that eh? Bigger than the organisation, Blimey Charlie…

Anyway he’s had a bit of an effect for the Spurs and I’d imagine he’ll win them something in the 18 months he’s there before he fancies somewhere else, slags off the chairman, picks on the players and sulks his way out the building with a large sweaty wad of cash. Remember my spurs friends, his name is forever on the board showing manager’s of your club but to be fair they have a history of grubbiness towards their own support as it’s not the first time they’ve employed a manager who used to slag them off when in charge of their rivals….shoddy business indeed but if he was good elsewhere it’s certain to work right? right?…

Clearly I don’t feel too much love for 2019. In fact I feel as much love for it as I have for all the years since 2011 which only get mid range ratings interspersed with moments of greatness and mass tragedy. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect grief free years but this has been a run of proper grot and given the state of the planet it’s hard to see any real end.

Anyway ignore me, I’m just whining in a post Christmas gloom as I’ve just taken down all the fairy lights and there is now no sparkle until the Spring Springs. Luckily the post Christmas booze audit reveals 13 White, 15 Red and 5 Sparkling so I can at least spend my weekends locked in the airing cupboard with a bottle opener, a straw and a torch. Fear not regular reader the only Dry January I’m likely to experience will be under an umbrella.

All is good on my Tribe’s front. I am now no longer the tallest in the cave. The Boy has shot up and continues to grump his way through the teenage years while B keeps it real with the funny…. joy and fun are her weapons. They are both great kids who cause us no problems at present so I’ll merely be proud. Jen has now assumed total control of this house following the now infamous Bose Soundlink incident and I am now a simple ‘smasher of stuff’ and a ‘maker of tea’… I know my place and so will now only attend work, make a fool of myself and wait for the moment I can retire.

Ahhh…. retire… I can but dream but as this is my head I will…

Having broken the half century barrier this year thoughts now turn to the moment I can bin the day to day and slow down. I’m now entering the final phase of my working life and I can almost see the door to greater stuff (in about a decade). Great. But even at the low number of 50 I find it harder to get up in the morning and easier to fall asleep in front of the TV. Of course some of this is due to the annual Guinness Apocalypse I subject myself to in the name friendship and the birth of our Lord Jeebus Cripes, but the feet hurt and the joints creak and the madness has started to kick in.

The other day while at home on my own making a Spaghetti Bolognese ( I can make any Mince dish you like to an outstanding level) I was opening a tin of chopped tomatoes and said aloud, to myself ‘God this is a good tin opener’. After I said it I realised I was alone. I’m finished…..it’s wet pants and the whiff of digestives, lavender and stale piss for me…..

A new decade it is. 2020, the year of clarity, the year of ‘prosperity’, the year of Brexit and the start of many years of the Johnson and his ‘Cunts Banquet’ guffawing and smirking their way to more wealth while destroying the country. The London ‘bubble’ (9 million people is a fucking big bubble) lost to a series of bubbles in the collective national bath of well used water because we were arrogant enough to think that people couldn’t possibly fall for it…. Boomshanka!!!… they did.

Some don’t understand it, some don’t care, some changed their mind after it, some fucked over their own kids for their immediate satisfaction….whatever was done is done and it’s about time we got ready for the painful outcome because there is no opposition to this, there is just a stubborn old bloke or a cast or bland unelectables with no chance of power for a minimum of 5 years calling themselves ‘The Resistance’… It’s like a bad Star Wars saga with no ‘YEEEEHAAHHH!!!” from the most unlikely spaceship in the galaxy…

I’ll leave you with this Tweet which I stole from a mate who posted it on his Facebook… You may have seen it but it is the perfect analogy for what is to come:

“Brexit will be like when that 50 year old bloke thinks leaving his wife will open up a new world of shagging 20 year olds but instead finds himself washing his pants alone in a bedsit sink”

Now if you don’t mind I need to get back to forftifying my house with barbed wire and sharpened staves before fishing a dead dog out of a puddle that I’ve been marinating it in so I can skin it, mince it and make a Lasagne, Shepherds/Cottage pie, Chilli Con Carne, Spaghetti Bolognase or any other fucking minced meat dish you like prior to watching us close the doors on sanity as we allow Johnson ultimate control of a once respected Country.

Until the next time we meet on fully paid for private broadband….. so long as we still have power….

Onwards….

…The Face that Launched a Thousand Fists….

Before I start, I should state that I stole the title for this rant from a conversation I had with a very talented bloke from out West who used it in similar circumstances that I am just about to. It is the perfect title….Thank you Mr Kane.

This blog will be shorter than the last one as clearly that was too long as the minimal views proved. A shame as it was a good one and funnier than the past few. No matter, these are moments in time of the mind of me, an idiot, so I’m not looking for too much other than you to laugh and the odd thumbs up.

So, here we are, November 2019 on the brink in the rudderless ship filled with guffawing, over fed disaster capitalists rubbing their hands….Brexit in some form is imminent via the medium of a general election.

I’ve given up insisting this won’t happen because at some point it will whether I like it or not. I, and people like me, lost.. to be fair we will all probably lose eventually. In reality the major problem of actually leaving the EU would never be overturned as democracy must rule regardless of whether we all think the question was too binary, the people ill informed or the pass threshold too low. The vote was willingly carried out without nearly all those things being considered and us, the Remainiacs, lost. We might not like it, I mean who likes defeat? and we don’t have to accept it but defeat it was and no amount of walking around Central London pissed on Prosecco gnawing on Hummus and bread sticks will change that. Don’t get me wrong, If protesting is your bag then crack on just don’t stop me getting to work, don’t smash anything up or glue yourself to anything which I might need to use or moan at me for not doing it with you. My job fills me with an aversion to public displays of disorder but if you like it happy days…. just do it nicely and don’t moan you’re tits off if the police take you away for causing a problem. That being said if I had another chance to vote thanks to your sacrifice I’ll gladly take it as voting is essential in a democracy.

All I can do now is prepare for the grief and misery, wait for the schadenfreude to hit me between the eyes and revel in the daily humiliation and struggle of the fuckers in charge. And I will do all those things with gusto while ensuring that those dear to me are ok.

As I said this effort isn’t really about Brexit specifically as that is done, this blog is about the deceit and ineptitude of those in charge, those who want the throne and one specific individual that I have a special place in hell for.

So where shall I start? All villains need reigning in so let’s go with the so-called ‘good guys’. The ‘Opposition’.

Tragically the word ‘opposition’ doesn’t really cut it when dealing with the current Labour set up. What we have with Labour is a series of internal feuds under a broad umbrella creating an organisation of weapons grade ineptitude led by a man that the few and not the many seem to think can fix the country. The chance missed to crush a government of such arrogance and recklessness is unforgivable really. Any organised opposition would have easily swept to power by now as a proper plan would have existed to oppose rather than a mish mash of dreams and aged policies. Sadly what we have is a split party and a mindset that unless you are fully paid up member then you don’t really count. This position, laid down by some pulse eating, snowflakery called ‘Momentum’ is almost exactly the same as the one used by the Tories when installing a new Prime Minister that they vehemently oppose as ‘elitism’. The hypocrisy is cloying.

I won’t get into the anti-semitism claims as I don’t know enough about it. All I will say is that racism of any sort needs to be taken seriously and those that feel aggrieved are really the ones calling the shots. As simple example of my simple comment would be to say that if Jen tells me I have upset her it’s not for me to insist that I haven’t. She’s the one feeling it.

Labour have failed the country and just like the Tories it’s the personnel that is the problem. Labour have no one really capable of grasping the imagination of a cross section of the public required to run a country. There can’t be many people out there with any time for Diane Abbot (who fell asleep in parliament during a Brexit speech recently), Tom Watson (rightly pilloried along with the Polis for believing a fantasist), Keir Starmer (loving the sound of his own voice but not really saying a lot), John McDonnell (a Paypal purchase away from a black Balaclava at any given moment) and of course the Dear Leader Comrade Corbyn, who has been standing before the dying monster of the Tory party for at least few years with a loaded gun refusing to pull the trigger. What would Kinnock, Smith, Blair or even Brown done to Cameron, May and Fuckface Johnson? They would destroyed them on all levels. Alas, Corbyn has failed to destroy anything other than the credibility of the Labour Party with swathes of the public. The reality is that the Tory party is a bigger monster than ever due mainly to a lack of cogent opposition. The Labour experiment needs to end or we’ll have to get used to Johnson or some other hateful lying Toff and none of us want that.

Labour have no one really capable of grasping the imagination of a cross section of the public required to run a country. There can’t be many people out there with any time for Diane Abbot (who fell asleep in parliament during a Brexit speech recently), Tom Watson (rightly pilloried along with the Polis for believing a fantasist), Keir Starmer (loving the sound of his own voice but not really saying a lot), John McDonnell (a Paypal purchase away from a black Balaclava at any given moment) and of course the Dear Leader Comrade Corbyn, who has been standing before the dying monster of the Tory party for at least few years with a loaded gun refusing to pull the trigger. What would Kinnock, Smith, Blair or even Brown done to Cameron, May and Fuckface Johnson? They would destroyed them on all levels. Alas, Corbyn has failed to destroy anything other than the credibility of the Labour Party with swathes of the public. The reality is that the Tory party is a bigger monster than ever due mainly to a lack of cogent opposition. The Labour experiment needs to end or we’ll have to get used to Johnson or some other hateful lying Toff and none of us want that.

The Tories have excelled in the last four years. They have carried out something we thought was impossible. They have pushed the boundaries of their own cuntery to another level. None of us thought they could pull this off but they have managed it through the individuals they have chosen, the decisions they have made and so they and they alone should be applauded as none of them are up to much.

So who is supposedly running this shit show?… and who is actually running it?

Obviously near the top but clearly not at the actual top we have Johnson….that’s ‘Johnson’ not ‘Boris’. ‘Boris’ is what he wants as it makes him sound cuddly or fun or to make him a ‘bloody good bloke’. He’s none of those things. He’s a liar, an adulterer, a bluffer, in fact he’s everything you don’t want from a person in a position of power. He lies on a daily basis and has been doing so for decades and still he lives on in comfort. He is the cockroach following the apocalypse, indestructible and thriving. You have to hand it to him, 10 years ago when this jub was flapping about on ‘Have I got News for you’ and no one would have said he would have been running the country during the most serious national crisis since the war.

Johnson exists for Johnson and has done since birth. He has no love for anything other than himself. He’s been sacked for lying twice, he has children he denies are his and when in power he has used the system to protect himself most notably recently when he took out a High Court injunction to prevent the London Assembly from establishing that he gave favours to an ex-pole dancer he was hanging out the back of. He famously wrote two articles about Remaining or Leaving the EU simply to cover himself when prior to deciding to shaft his ‘Trotters Up’ mate Dave with the one that would help him more. He is devoid of loyalty, empathy, has a history of racism and homophobia. You could say he is the perfect Tory in some way, almost built in a Lab by a Mad Thatcherite Professor called Franken-Mogg but they failed in the rigid back and pristine side parting department and gave us a squat, hump backed, ratty haired Oaf with the brain of a public schoolboy… a kinda Posh Igor.

Johnson is a highly intelligent individual crammed into an unassuming body and head he moulded himself to confuse an already confused and startingly dim public. Sadly the public have mostly fallen for it but my image of him is in line with the words of the OAP from his constituency in a vox pop from Sky News:

“…Don’t talk to me about that filthy piece of toe rag…”

…And there you have it, a toe rag but not even a whole toe rag, just a piece, a piece that will eventually be inconsequential, unnecessary and not required.

When Johnson got the big job he craved so much it was always going to be funny to see who he would employ in his cabinet. He didn’t disappoint from a comedic perspective.

Immediately rewarded was old sycophantic chum Michael Gove who slithered his way to the fantastically titled post of ‘Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster’ whatever the fuck that is. I can only assume that this is a ‘thank you’ for Gove oiling the plums of Johnson for decades with his smooth face and his puffy lips like a public school ‘fag’ polishing the shoes of ‘Johnson Major’ before a ruddy good rodgering in Matron’s potting shed.

Gove is the classic lame, limp wristed Tory made manifest. He has no real views of his own and leeches off more senior members with frantic nodding from the shadows. He has the ‘successful’ right wing journalist wife who regularly straps up to dominate him in the bedroom and he has a history of low level ‘I only did it to look cool’ substance abuse however judging by the ticks and twitches in the chamber those days may not be over. Gove is a small prick in a room of top end porn meat. He barely counts but might fluff up a few strokers ego’s from time to time.

There would always be a place at the top table for Rees-Mogg mainly because he is a privilege aristo with a deep hate of us Proles. However the place he got was largely ceremonial and on the face of it seems to involve simply reading out the agenda for the following days parliament. I’m sure the tosser was expecting something better than that but even this two-bob job gets the full Rees-Jub treatment with down the nose looks and long latin filled answers quoting academics, fabled parliamentarians and authors in order to deflect from the fact that he can’t provide real information as he doesn’t have the correct cabinet level of security.

There’s really only so far you can go blagging your way through life on the back of convenient upperclass Christian values where coitus is delivered in perfunctory manner with not even an accidental arse slap or jokey ‘Yeehaw!!’. At some point the stick up your arse will snap and most likely at the point where some working class bod gives you the bad news through the medium of the C-Bomb delivered from a white van or scooter. It’s at this point that you realise you maybe a lightly buttered crumpet away from a revolution where you are standing by a wall in a collarless shirt , braces exposed with your hair askew and your spectacles cracked.

Rees-Mogg is a bluffer relying heavily on status and the gravitas afforded to him through wearing his dead old man’s suits which in the true tight fisted upper class fashion have been past down through the generations complete with the DNA of a thousand knickerless kitchen staff. The truth is that when this country gets back on something approaching an even keel the Rees-Mogg’s and his rigid like will be rowed out of the positions that matter as they offer little in the way of realism.

Then we have a raft of individuals who know they would never have made it as far as a TV screen in roles normally considered reserved for ‘Government Spokesperson’ had it not been for a dearth even slightly more intelligent politicians. All of these individuals seem to have been manufactured in the same Tory lab as Johnson which struggled to obtain any more fresh brains and so had to use the slower ones.

Raab and Hancock, who could be related, have that 1000 yard stare that soldiers get when they’ve seen ‘too much shit’ or that tilted head look that a Spaniel gives you when it doesn’t understand what you mean by ‘Don’t shit on the sofa’. Thicker that turds in a bottle the pair of them and flip floppy with it proving once and for all that all politicians ain’t really in it for the people they are really only in it for themselves (yeah, yeah… I know you know this).

The thunderingly stupid are in healthy numbers in this Government. Liz Truss cruises around with the vacant look of someone who can’t quite believe she is employed let alone in a position of power and that scouse lunatic Esther McVey only still exists as an available bit of tot for a PM who clearly doesn’t own a mirror and so sees himself irresistible to a certain type of female.

Then there are the faux ‘hard men’ in the form of Andrew Bridgen and the combustible Mark Francois, two blokes who look like they were moulded from the same heap. These two are never seen in the same room together leading me to believe they are the same fused together hate ball. Francois in particular is a special type of tosser with the endlessly mentioned Territorial Army background but with the inevitable ‘flat feet’ excuse tucked in the back pocket should his mess hall services be required in ‘theatre’. These two are the ‘strongarm’ of the Tories with lots of common room level threats never to be actioned and the ability to make even the most mild mannered member of the public want to enter their fighting arcs.

At the top of the pyramid of stupidity we have Savid ‘The Hood’ Javid and the utterly delightful Priti Patel.

I’ve done Javid before so I’ll leave him this time and as he’s worked in finance and was an accountant you could argue that even though he’s a slimy ‘talk about myself in the third person’ plum he has some right in being Chancellor. He could probably do some adding up and be capable of lifting that red briefcase so in this shower of shit he’s as close to as shoe-in as you can get.

Priti is a whole different ball game. What qualifications does she have to take on the crucial Role as Home Secretary?

Her career started as an intern in the Conservative Party. She followed this up with a career in Public relations, always the mark of a person with a degree of moral flexibility. She then went to work for ‘Diageo’ the company responsible for Guinness before becoming an MP a mere 9 years ago. Now, as Home secretary she sits on the front bench with that fantastic Tory smirk developed for all occasions whether appropriate or not talking tough on crime, a subject so complex she can’t possibly comprehend. The closest Priti has come to the Polis is when she worked for the makers of Guinness which is the fuel all Polis need to do the tough job very few (and fewer under Tory rule) people want to do.

To hear Priti talk about the Polis is a thing to behold. The shite spouted in the name of manifesto pledges is truly sickening. For the Tory party to claim that they are the party of law and order is an absolute abomination given that they have removed 21,000 police and 30,000 associated staff in the last 10 years. Now we are to believe that 20,000 ‘extra’ police will be recruited , well you don’t need to be a mathematician to work this out.

A little known fact is that every month the Metropolitan Police lose over 200 police officers through natural wasted. These officers aren’t replaced and given that the Met have been promised only 1600 of the 20,000 ‘new’ officers this year they are still under resourced massively regardless of the cobblers dished out to fool the public and won’t even cover the amount retiring, resigning or leaving to go to other forces.

The Tories are great at big words prior to elections and it’s all delivered with the classic Tory smirk of which Priti Patel is now the world champion. The smirk has been deployed liberally in the last three and a half years most noticeable by professional dimwit David Davis who clearly wakes up with it fully deployed. Priti now attempts to use it to ooze weapons grade smugness although like Davis before her it could be that she is masking the fact that she is way out of her depth. The liar Johnson also deploys the smirk, unfortunately for him it is delivered moments before he lets rip with another porky as he has no control over it. The smirk is the key to a career in Conservatism and is no doubt smashed into them at University in conjunction with a dormitory pummelling.

Finally we come to the architect of the chaos of the last 4 years, The Master of the Dark Arts, the big cheese, the one and only face that launched a thousand fists, Ladies and Gentlemen I give you, the unelected professional agitator Dominic McKenzie Cummings.

To understand the rat Cummings you need to understand the sad tale of Tom McCarthy . This name probably doesn’t mean a lot to you personally but we’ve all met a ‘Tom McCarthy’ in our time. In this case he was at my school in the early to mid 1980’s.

Tom was an aloof cocky chap who was fairly active in the early years in school. He messed about, he played football, he was a fairly nondescript as we all were between the ages of 11 and 15 as we were just kids. Then when we got to 16 things changed where Tom reinvented himself as a ‘man of mystery’.

At 16 you start to branch out a bit and you break free from the shackles of parents. You become obsessed with the opposite sex, of course you may have had a ‘girlfriend’ at that point but it wasn’t particularly the norm so we were all out there frothing at the mouth.

At 16 you get the true freedom, the parties start, the social events with the dancing and cheap cider begin and you start to notice everything, the world slows and everything becomes clearer and noticeable. Being out with your own generation was the thing to do.

But not for Tom.

We’d all go to Parties or gatherings and get wasted on Strongbow or Grolsch, snog a few unsuspecting yet willing participants from the local girls school and end up in some kind of altercation resulting in some of us (* looks accusingly towards a Palace in South London) getting the snot smashed out of us. Tom was never there for most of that as Tom had been reborn differently. Tom needed mystery and impact. Tom wanted to appear from the shadows like a Lord or illusion.

Tom was a cock.

You’d leave these events in the arms of each other or if you were lucky something acceptable of the opposite sex and you’d stumble laughing around a potholed municipal car park where out of the corner of your eye you’d see a face illuminated by a freshly lit Silk Cut. In a fug of smoke Tom would appear all nonchalant and moody.

“..Hi…” he’d say in that cheeky chirpy David Essex kinda way which usually hides insecurity…

“…Hello Tom. Where have you been?”

“… (long moody pause followed by extended drag of cigarette)….Around…” the standard response…

“..Around where? Around the carpark? Nothing happens in the carpark Tom, all the action is in the party. Or do you mean round your Mum’s? Nothing happening around there mate except cups of tea and a Kimberley with a smattering of overzealous Catholicism. It’s all happening at the party and you’ve missed it again you twat..”.

Basically Tom had escaped the crazy Irish lockdown from his parents and so could only turn up once they had prayed themselves out and collapsed unconscious in a puddle of communion wine and Jesus biscuits. Prior to that he was incarcerated like ‘Carrie’, locked behind a door while his captors prayed to save his soul from eternal damnation at the hands of ‘K’ Cider and Catholic schoolgirls dripping in Rive Gauche. All he could use then was ‘the cool’.

But Tom wasn’t cool. Tom wasn’t mysterious. Tom was a cock, a cock who created an ‘I don’t give a shit’ persona of fake cool.

The problem was that at 16 or 17 ‘mystery’ just weren’t cutting it with a horde of violent, over sexed North London drunk schoolboys as they would simply tell you to shut the fuck up.

And so Tom went back into the shadows forever. I think he’s a Priest now or perhaps in prison….or something…. fuck it, I don’t know what he’s doing but I’m sure it’s nearly really ‘cool’..

Cummings is Tom. Not only is he also a massive bellend but he’s also an insecure wispy haired Rat-fink who has created a cloak of mystery to hide his own failings and problems. He’s a deflector on a grand scale.

You can tell he’s an insecure person by his clothing which tries desperately to be ‘anti establishment’ but fails miserably as we all know he’s taking a salary from a Tory government which instantly makes you ‘elite’. Cummings is ‘shabby chic’ in human form with the baggy unbuttoned shirt, the walking boots over the trousers and the carrier bag with his deadly plans within.

Cummings likes to think he’s a tough guy. He only allows himself to be interviewed on the move by panting reporters walking and talking with the Tory smirk activated. He doesn’t answer questions but instead resorts to insulting the quality of the reporting or lack of knowledge before him while quoting ‘the will of the people’ or ‘Get Brexit Done’ which is as helpful as saying you build a nuclear reactor by simply building a nuclear reactor. It’s a soundbite from a bloke who won’t be about to actually do the job, a man who can point a lot, find a loophole, chuck his weight about and shout but ultimately won’t be ‘hands on’ with the process. Not his problem just like the leave vote wasn’t his problem it was ‘the will of the people’ a will triggered by misinformation delivered and dreamt up by his massive cranium and sucked up by a gullible public.

Cummings is a modern day Rasputin. A well trodden cliche maybe but an appropriate one. He’s a conjurer and hypnotist where disinformation and trickery are King and due to the lack or any real strategy or strategist within this shambles of a government, Cummings finds himself pulling the strings of the bluffers and charlatans and like all Puppet masters he will slink off at some point to write a memoir. All this current Tory shite is from the head of Cummings. Even Johnson doesn’t have the hateful wit for these levels of fuckery. Johnson is the affable Oaf banging at the door with the Battle Axe wheras Cummings is the Grima Wormtongue whispering in the earhole telling you to smother your kids to maintain power at all costs. He is the whispering death of this country.

I had a boss like Cummings a few years back. Moody arrogant fucker who loved his position and told you who was in charge on a daily basis even though he wasn’t particularly good . When he retired after all the years of nasty and snide and lost rags he had a poorly attended leaving do and seemed shocked that the love wasn’t flowing. He now sits looking at a dusty phone that doesn’t ring convinced he was a great bloke who did the right thing and we, the people, were wrong.

This will be Cummings. He will be the same arrogant angry agitator in retirement that he is now. Some people are born nasty, some people like grief, some people love division and are hate filled and that is Cummings and it is all delivered with the Tory Smirk of a Great White Shark. Cummings appears joyless, a man happy to brood and plot, a man always looking for the chink in the armour, looking to exploit any weakness he can find. At the end he will be a man remembered for division and covert action to disrupt. Funnily enough he’d probably get on very well with my Old Man.

What Cummings actually needs is a 16 year old aggressive lapsed catholic drunk schoolboy to tell him to shut the fuck up, it could save him… or break him. I suppose it’s too much to ask that a cabinet minister might do it as they all appear frightened of him. Absolutely tragic.

So Cummings appears to have won and there has been little that any of us could have done about it because essentially our view is irrelevant unless it ultimately goes bent or fits in with the agenda of the party in power at the time. The public seem to be a small inconvenience to the Tories unless it’s possible to blame us. The Conservative Party General election tagline should read: “You are either with us or you are beneath us”. At least I’d respect the honesty if they went with it.

So where does this leave us, the people. Well, it leaves us nowhere. We have no leaders to admire we only have the arrogant, the indecisive or the unelectable.

The Tories are bred for power and aggressively crave it which should by default should exclude you from ever acquiring it.

Labour have fucked up with their experiment which will not gain the mass audience necessary. The Corbyn’s of the world have long existed in the party and get to air their view but it has little mass appeal in its undiluted form hence the lack of proper left wing Labour Governments over the years. The country doesn’t want it.

The Lib Dems have delusions of grandeur mainly because the other two parties are so inept. In some ways, who can blame them for thinking they can fill the void it’s just they are the Magic FM of parties, they are the beige slacks with the wet penny to the front. The Lib Dems are merely a reflection of most of their leaders, bland, normal, dull and unelectable.

As I write this we are moments away from the official start of a General Election Campaign triggered, ultimately, by Cummings and his quest for a no-deal Brexit. That is what the Tories want as proven by the continual position or the ERG and the trap door in the withdrawal agreement put forward to parliament and agreed by the EU.

If they win, and I suppose they must be favourites due to the lack of political firepower within the opposition as a whole, they can fix whatever agenda they like, and they will. They will push ahead with the ‘clean break’ they always really wanted one way or another and this was made clear today when they reiterated recently that there will be no extension to the transition period to leave.

No agreement, No extension, No deal. Happy days in the Shires where bloody British blokes, drink bloody British tea and dance around a maypole to the strains of Elgar’s ‘Nimrod’ while lamenting the loss of the Robertson’s Golliwog and a new series of ‘Till death do us part’ as the fruit and vegetables rot in their fields unpicked by the cheap European labour they haven’t realised they rely on yet.

So we have a final chance to kill off the Tories and probably Brexit if necessary. The only way to do that is to get out and vote. Don’t be one of those lazy strokers who says it doesn’t matter and then spends the next 5 years complaining that it’s all wrong. Vote for what you like but make sure you vote.

If you want the Tories out remember the lies and vote them out. I’m not suggesting for a minute that any of the other party leaders don’t lie because they do. All politicians lie as it’s in the job description but I’m certain there is more humanity and less bullshit within the others. Whatever I think of Corbyn strangely I believe he’s sincere. He’s spent long enough on the fringes not playing the centre left game to be believed but it’s just not for me and a lot of other Labour voters.

But the Tories lie to an industrial level and are devoid of the basic human emotions. Just remember the lies when one knocks on the door this year. Remember the lies and insults about Grenfell, the lies about Police numbers not being relevant to violent crime, the lies about the NHS, the lies about immigration, the lies about affordable housing, the lies about the welfare state and the lies about education. Remember that the Tories exist purely for the Tories and not the people.

Remember who benefits from a ‘No deal’ Brexit because it won’t be us unless you’ve gambled big on it. Remember the trap door in the Withdrawal Agreement that they tried to stop being scrutinised by closing down parliament. Remember Dominic Cummings an unelected paid advisor pulling the strings while saying ‘Get Brexit Done’ but providing no information on how. Remember Francois telling us the country will explode is we don’t leave nearly a week ago, oddly nothing has exploded. Remember Rees-Jubb reclining in contempt in the Houses of Parliament and Remember the use of the word ‘Humbug’ in reposte to a legitimate question about the safety of MP’s.

Remember that if we will be so much better off with a no deal exit why have we spent three and a half years trying to negotiate anything at all? The constant use of the phrase ‘will of the people’ is all a Tory bluff to make money for themselves. If it goes wrong for the country then us, the people, will be blamed as 17.4 million demanded leave and all they did was act on it in the name of democracy.

Finally remember Johnson, the serial liar who will sell this country down the river for personal fame and gain. Think of the NHS in the hands of Trump or any American President as that is really the only market they want here. Johnson will bend over and take the full length for a deal with the US as he’s willing to cut out our biggest global marketplace to do it.

So remember. Remember the Tory smirk Johnson has perfected. The smirk that the Queen saw, that his wife saw, that his girlfriend saw, that Jennifer Accuri saw over her shoulder, that the London Assembly saw and that a million bored to tears TV journalists see on a regular basis.

Remember the wasted money at the hands of one MP. Remember the £100m lost on advertising the exit date of Halloween because he would rather ‘die in a ditch’ than extend a deal he ultimately extended. Remember the Garden Bridge, a loss of £53m, remember the £300,000 loss on water cannons the even the police refused to use for ethical reasons, remember the ‘Boris Bus’ which lost £3.6m in fare evasion and a further £300m in costs after it was recalled for having no air conditioning. Remember the £24m cable car that no one uses, or the £230m of public money used to ensure that West Ham United can rent a stadium. Remember the lost Police Stations and Fire stations either closed and sold to private developers or closed to ensure the police didn’t have to make staff redundant. All this under one man in one city. A liar who cannot even be trusted by Nigel Farage (the undisputed King of Bollocks) and remember he was sacked twice by the Associated Press who lie for a living. Remember the man who disowned the children he illegitimately sired, a man whose own brother resigned on him and who his own sister denounced.

What does this tell you? Funny? No? Untrustworthy and of low moral standing? Yes…..

Just remember, we have to continue, we have to work on….he don’t. This is a game to him and at some point he’ll drift off happy and content that he ticked all his life boxes. Don’t let him do that.

So when you trudge out once more, this time in the cold, covered in tinsel and stinking of Baileys to place your ‘X’ ensure you whack it smack bang in the middle of anything other than one marked ‘Conservative’ as you will be doing the vast majority of this country a favour.

We have another go here, try not to fuck it up this time.

Onwards.

..The Undoing of a Dad: Welsh Wales (part two)..

…ahh…. sorry for the delay. Part Two of the Welsh trip requires some history to kick us off…

The first time I went to Wales was in the early 90’s on what became a ‘drinking odyssey’ with ‘Our man in Hong Kong’. He, of course, went to University in Lampeter a small place filled with ‘characters’ wheras I went to work like a fucking dog for the Post Office but after he finished we returned to vist the lovely Miss Jones (Our women in Hong Kong) who was still studying there.

We left London late afternoon and arrived just too late to use any bars on the campus so it was straight to the halls and the chaos that brought. With a future Hong Kong bound married couple off doing what normal people would do if they hadn’t seen each other for a while I was put in a room occupied by a man called ‘Dick’.

‘Dick’, as I later found out, was a big old unit and a bit of a posh boy. His bedroom consisted of a homemade four poster bed where the posts were made from purloined ‘Carpetright’ carpet spools, a poorly photocopied coat of arms signifying poshness and class and an 8″ Tarantula (dead) splayed out in a glass case. Upon arrival I found he had written me a lovely ‘Welcome Dear Boy’ note explaining the room rules including that I was on the floor and not the bed and that as he was off somewhere on the piss I should simply make myself at home. As I lay there awake waiting for the arrival of ‘Dick’ and the almost certain buggering at his Crevat Tweed Jacketed hands I prepared myself for the next day where I would be thrust into possibly drinking myself to death with OMIHK and a load of isolated students.

I woke the next morning to find ‘Dick’ asleep on his four poster fully clothed and snoring the snore of a monumentally pissed toff student. I checked myself and found that all my undergarments were in a state of non deshevelment and so concluded that not only had no buggering taken place but no interaction at all and so ‘Dick’ would live another day. I got up, tipped my hat to my Landlord, who I would undoubtedly meet later, showered and left the room….

…And then we went on the lash for 16 hours…

It was a fraught day, absolutely pissing down and cold but I was taken to an assortment of venues including one which was simply a house turned into a makeshift pub where you could sit in the living room with the old man who owned it. Throughout the day I was warned by OMIHK that under no circumstances at all should I interact with any local as I would probably die on ‘Magic Mountain’ where mouthy cockneys were mostly sacrificed to some kind of sheep faced God.

All was well on the drinking and silence front until I found myself in two awkward scenarios ultimately of OMIHK’s own making. I was blameless mostly because of the amount Brains SA floating my brain.

Firstly, if you don’t want someone as mouthy and annoying as me interacting with the locals don’t take me into a local Chinese take away and sit me next to a Welsh Mountain man in the belief that I won’t say “..Alright mate?… what you ‘avin’?…. we’re ‘avin’ noodles….”. The man of the Mountain looked at me with so much hate that I didn’t notice being hastily removed from the venue by OMIHK with two boxes of noodles.

Secondly, if you are trying to avoid confrontation in a Welsh University Union bar don’t stick the mouthy cockney who has never been to the University or played for the University Rugby team or any Rugby team in the University Rugby team shirt and more specifically one with ’69’ on the back which was obtained nefariously. I was a Welsh lamb to the slaughter albeit a willing ‘lets see who will get the arsehole Bun’ lamb who was pissed up on booze….

My appearance was spotted almost instantly in that bar as the shirt was not only not supposed to be on me but was bumble bee colours and style with a joke number on the back. Within seconds I knew it was a mistake but being me knew I couldn’t or more precisley wouldn’t change it.

….And then it spotted me….

‘G for George’ was it’s name. Big lump, big head, big back…. Loose head prop type. He sees me and comes directly at me with the raving hump. As luck would have it back in those days I was all in when it came to stranger based confrontation and seeking out unknown threat so we went nose to nose and forehead to forehead (literally) for a good 20 minutes with him describing me as a ‘prick’ (probably fair) and me pushing the boundaries of cockney herberty with multiple drops of the C-Bomb prefixed with ‘Listen You…’ whch as you all know is the Londoners go-to phrase when trying to grab the attention of partucularly difficult individuals. At the end of this macho cobblers we hugged, shared a beer and no one either died or backed down. Classic 90’s…no knives were used, just words and bold promises of violence that would probably never happen… halcyon days.

The night went on and although the memories are fewer I do recall OMIHK having an altercation with some stroker which led to him disapearing at some point only to return covered in blood. This brought out my protective ‘brothers in arms’ speech where I suggested that we hunt the fucker down and batter him as an example to the whole Uni for fucking with ‘us’ the Londoners. As it turned out the ‘blood’ was mud and OMIHK had simply fall down a mud bank while arguing with another bloke. Oddly OMIHK seems to have been punched a lot over the years and only once in my company so it can’t be wholly my fault that difficult situations happened in my fighting arc. I can only assume there is jealously with regard to his popularirty whereas my punchability is due to the hole directly below my nose.

We finished the night in some kind of drunken Uni Halls commune where ‘Dick’ held court with tales of overseas adventures shooting Tigers (not true). He turned out to be a lovely, soppy bloke who wasn’t buggering anyone let alone me particularly given the state I was in. My last memory of this top weekend was passing out in a communual toliet where I was saved by a passing Florence Nightingale who alerted Miss Jones to my predicament. I still recall Miss Jones saying ‘Get your mate out of that toilet’ and the look of disgust on the assembled crowds faces as OMIHK poured me into a sleeping bag on the floor of the House that Dick built and not a moment too soon as things were about to get proper ugly in that kharzi… proper ugly.

And so that was my first experience of Wales, almost Welshman free. The second and only other time I’ve actually been here was subject to a previous blog called ‘The Devil Rides out’ where OMIHK, the Spaniard and I went mountain biking till our arses bled and stayed in a hotel which doubled as the headquarters of the Monster Raving Looney Party which only served ring splitting curry and Bontempi based soft Rock.

My only other direct interaction with the Welsh en masse was during an early morning stand-off in a Dublin B&B when a group on the same stag weekend we were attending thought it would be funny to burst into our room and let off some fire extinguishers. We remained motionless in order to wipe out any joy they had in an overreaction on our part. As the dust settled and the embarrassing silence decame defeaning OMIHK simply said ‘Fuck off Bellends’ in a croaky hungover voice and the Welsh invasion was over in a flash with a backwards retreat and a quietly closed door.

Cockney filth 1, Welsh Mountain Men 0.

These previous Welsh visits and interactions were drunken raids or scurmishes as opposed to this full blown occupation I am now in the middle of.

This holiday was designed to be action packed. A couple years back we went to Portugal to a fantastic apartment owned by one of my associates on a luxury complex and although Jen and I are more than happy to sleep, read, listen to music and sink Gin by the pool the kids were fairly bored. A family decision was taken and it was decided that less pool and beach holidays would be taken in favour of activity based stuff. Cornwall was the testing ground last year and Wales was the where we went all ‘Launch Warm Puppy’ but little did I know that I would end up in a competion with my 15 year old son that would result in my continuing humilation at his hands.

There are many things to do in Wales. Zip wires, surfing, walking, climbing, cycling but we mostly went with speed in the form of Quads, karting and the absolutely trememdous Rigid Inflatable boat trip (we did Kayaking also but I’ll come to that later).

We started with karting as the Boy is aware that he will have a massive weight advantage due to his pre booze body and my Guinness moulded body. We head off to an indoor karting track in what turns out to be the only period of sustained rain we get in two weeks in Wales. I say ‘rain’ but I actually mean ‘sky flood’ as it is off the scale and not only coming down at pace but also sideways. Proper Shipwreck rain this, fucking awful. We pile out the car in apocalyptic scenes and get drenched in the 10 yard run to the venue which is an old aircraft hanger turned into a race track.

It’s ramshackle within and the air is heavy with two-stroke. We pay for two 25 lap races and brilliantly they keep you in your own groups rather than making it a free for all so it will only be the four of us on the track. Our two races are sandwiched between another group so it gives us a chance of a debrief between. However before ‘the off’ we have to attend a safety lecture and get kitted up. This was the beginning of my downfall…. this was the death of any mystique I held in the Boy’s head.

We get taken to a room filled with what are effectively racing jumpsuits in a variety of sizes. I’m keen to stick one of these on as Eddie Van Halen wore one on a tour in the 1980’s and I’ve never experienced the joy of a ‘onsey’ and so see it as an opportunity to boost my lack of sartorial elegance. The bloke in charge (a dashing young herbert with tattooed sleeves) dishes out the clothing and we all squeeze into them…. except me. For some reason I am handed a ‘medium’ and given the amount of Guinness I have consumed anyone with half a brain would know that this is a doomed dressing. I get the legs in. Snug but I’m guessing that is correct due to the aerodynamics required when karting. I get an arm in. The other arm flaps free like that bit of extra skin that hangs from a pre roasted chicken’s arse. There appears to be no way this arm is entering its slot due to the lack of blood flow caused by the tightness surrounding my other three limbs. Undeterred by this I force the dead appendage into it’s hole and look down to find that the velcro that would normally join the two sides of the suit in the middle are a good 5 inches apart and unlikely to meet even if I left it on and gave up drinking for the next year.

I look around and am confronted by not only my own tribe in a state of shock but also that of the tattooed herbert. I see a mirror and turn to it. My God ..I’m an odder shape than normal in this getup. The tightness of the chest has forced my arms to be thrust backwards like a strutting Mick Jagger Circa 1976. This thrusting has made my neck protrude and with the addition of skin tight legs I’m suddenly Max Wall with a bit more hair or Danny DeVito as Oswald ‘The Penguin’ Cobblepot, absolutely ludicrous.

And then the laughing started….and not only from my people but from tattooed fuckwit also. Proper laughing, big belly laughs (see what I did there?) like I’ve never seen since I met and created these three. In a fit of pique I attempted to release myself from this jumpsuit straightjacket only for it to become some kind of fire retardant Boa Constrictor trapping me further. There is no hope, I have to ask tattoos to assist me in my escape. With my arms pointing backwards I gesture for him to pull at the cuffs as I force my bulk in the other direction in the hope that I will burst free like a butterfly from a pupae. After a few efforts out I slide to become a heap on the floor and not a moment too soon as my tribe were close to death due to a lack of oxygen brought on by excessive laughing at my misfortune…. as usual.

After they sort themselves out and I am crowbarred into a larger garment we head towards the track. The boy knows he’s won already as I am a dishevelled, sweaty wreck of a man with a multi kilo weight handicap so I’m basically using these 25 laps as a training run to smash the snot out of him in the second 25 lap face-off. I’m last out of the pit no doubt as I’m considered then most handicapped in our group.

I’m behind my daughter Boo, who has never been the most action packed individual. Boo’s skills are more cerebral and humourous and so she tentatively creeps out and all I can see is the boy disapearing around the first bend like Lewis Hamilton’s long lost son. It’s over before it has begun and I’m not even out of the pits due to a child, swiftly being written out of the will, not moving quick enough.

I finally hit the track and am soon around Boo in a torrent of muffled swear words and in seconds and am on the hunt for the Boy. There’s no sign of him other than as a blur in my peripheral vision on other parts of the track and now I’m stuck behind Jen who, I’d imagine, will under no circumstances assist me in this chase. True to form she blocks me out for 2 laps and then ‘closes the door’ as I head up her inside channel (Pnarr!!) sending me crashing into a barrier. She would rather die in a karting fireball than allow me any form of victory over her and so I come to a stop and as I raise my hand for assistance I see the boy go past in another blur with laughing eyes visible in his visor…. Animal….He’s done me..

For the remainder of this race I effectively race myself using Boo as a lap marker of how quick I am going. She is driving around as if she is sight-seeing or shopping or delivering a nitroglycerine cargo over a rickerty rope bridge with a sweaty Roy Scheider who’s on the run from the filth as co-pilot (film bufftastic). In fact she’s going so slow that I’m stunned the kart hasn’t ground to a halt due to the lack of engine turnover. In true Boo style though she won’t let a lack of speed stop her having a great time and as we pass her multiple times on every occasion she smiles and waves us through in a kinda ‘Wagons Roll!!’ way…. A true comedian..

The race ends with me thinking of revenge only. The boy has battered us all and he is revelling in the glory. We retreat to the cafe area in all our gear and wait for the next race and the whole time the Boy sits impassive with the helmet on like a freshly born Baby Stig. I, of course, remove my helmet and gloves and resemble a badly drawn Worzel Gummidge such is the shit state of my hair and my cardiac red face given 20 minutes wearing a helmet… I am a shell of a man and he knows it.

Race 2 starts well for me. I’m out the trap early in a staggered start and only have to negotiate Boo who appears to be looking for a parking space in a shopping centre car park. I speed past her acknowledging her wave and smile (almost a joyous ‘Helloooo!!’) and I’m away bombing down the straight with clear road. Behind me the Boy is embrolied in a battle with his mother which could end in filicide / matricide at any moment. I can’t see this yet as I’m eating up seconds but I can hear it and it’s getting closer to me due to the extra weight I’m carrying …. Damn these beautiful beautiful legs, they have always held me back.

Within a lap they are on me like a pisshead on a Biriani but at this stage I’m capable of holding them off with metaphorical poppadoms and ‘sundries’ in the form of superior legitimate blocking moves. This rear guard action goes on for two laps until I take the first corner after the straight really tight with a late break which forces Jen wide (Pnarr!! Pnarr!!) , shaking her off the racing line, but ends with the boy ramming me full tilt up the arse with such force that I let out an involuntary shreik of terror thankfully not audible enough for the him to hear. As I do a 360 spin I see him pass me with those visibly laughing eyes again and the raised fist of victory and I know under that helmet he is doing that ridiculous Andy Murray ‘C’mon!!’ roar that we used to see at Wimbledon usually about 8 minutes prior to another heroic defeat…. Animal… He’s done me again.

He disappears out of sight and I see the gaunt figure of the ‘Marshall’ hold a hand made sign with ‘No Bumping’ on it that the Boy politely and apologetically holds his hand up to…. Too late now fucker my authority in my own house is hanging by a thread and now you bring out the sign!!

After being dragged from a barrier for the second time I simply trundle around sulking for the rest of the race. Why me? why would you treat me this way oh King of Kings? I’m a decent bloke, I’ve never been nicked, I’ve never killed anyone or stolen anything…. why?…. why can’t you just let me have a few more years of admiration from the boy instead of the imminent derisory glances and rolled eyes across the potato waffles, sausages and beans. There is no God but there will be another race track on this holiday regardless of whether I have on this occasion been crushed to dust at the hands of a 15 year old.

After the abomination of karting (part 1) it’s time to face my greatest fear that doesn’t have 8 legs. The Sea. Conquer the sea and I can crush him ( Just so you are aware I neither conquer or crush anything on this holiday).

My problem with the the sea, all seas, any sea, is that I find it terrifying, big, wet and moving. In particular I hate dark water where I cannot see the bottom and so assume everything not visible is plotting to tear me to pieces. Sharks, Squid, Whales, Octopods, Fish, Crabs, lobsters, Jellyfish, Tuna, Herring, Gurnard, all killers, proven killers wanting my succulent flesh and bones to sustain their dominance over 80% of the planet and fuel their fanatical lust for control of the remaining 20% we cling to. When you are scared of the sea you generally stay the fuck away from it as death is assured as the beasts within can smell the fear, taste the fear, they crave THE FEAR.

It’s not a secret in this tribe that I hate the big blue, they all know it and particularly Jen who has always known it and so with this knowledge at the forefront of her mind she books a 90 minute ride on a Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) around Cardigan Bay followed by, a few days later, a two and half hour Kayaking trip taking in the glory of Fishguard Harbour where I will almost certainly be killed in spectacular fashion by an awoken Kraken. The RIB has more appeal to me (it’s all relative) as I’ll be in a boat driven by an expert, a salty sea dog if you will whereas the Kayak will be controlled by a novice, a land lover, an idiot….me.

We arrive at a random dock and I see the my orange coffin being refuelled with death juice by a dashing sailor type with flowing grey hair and a beard. His co-pilot is an older squat bloke in full seafaring garb. His face oozes ‘crag’ and he’s probably only about 38 but the sea is a cruel mistress and I’d imagine he’s been in a grapple with a Sea Cow or two. As I approach my ride still clutching the Kings Shilling I notice that the wind has picked up and the sea is what we call in maritine parlance: ‘Fucking choppy’. It is without doubt over for me.

I reluctantly head towards the RIB and engage with the co-pilot who turns out to be a lovely old bloke who seems in total control meaning that I relax slightly. He suggests that those a bit worried or with small children should take the seats to the rear of the boat where the ‘bouncing’ (WTF?) is less stringent. I head towards the rear pushing babies and those in wheelchairs out of my way and the Boy heads towards the front. This triggers my inner hero / competetive Dad to respond by heading to the front with a nonchalant walk and chirpy smirk which fools most. The boy knows the score though and revels in my inner pain but at least he has the good grace to not tell the rest of the boat that I am a fraud. After a very brief safety talk which basically involved explaining to us to ‘hang on tight’ and the co-pilot’s explaining that my request for a harpoon would not be honoured we head off out to sea.

The waves are high and we get told to expect a rough ride, which isn’t always a bad thing but in this case shits the life out of me. Initially I was happy as we appeared to simply be bobbing up and down while slowly moving forward. The lack of death suddenly makes me believe that I am a cross between James Cracknell (dashing, strong, powerful) and Captain Bligh (stoic, principled, a master navigator and the only proper sailor I can name) and this sea lark is in fact a piece of piss….

….And then the twin engines kicked in……

In a massive roar of power I am thrust backwards on my bench as we bounce over waves much to the Boy’s joy and we plough forward over what seem like Tsunami height stuff which is in fact about 3 feet high. I’m clinging on for dear life convinced that at any moment I will be hurled from the boat into the open mouth of a breaching Great White. This continues for the next 90 minutes interspersed with periods of calm where we visit a cave or see the nostrils of a seal which is clearly just a scout to see where I am prior to the attack.

We finally stop for a more prolonged period to view some Dolphins, the police of the sea, leap from the water which makes the whole trip worthwhile but I am dubious of the co-pilot’s insistence that we all stand up for a better view as this is clearly a ploy to sacrifice one of us (me) to the filth of the deep thus ensuring he is untouched for another few thousand trips at £30 a punter.

After the joy of the Dolphins we head back to port at top speed on a fairly flat sea. This is the buzz, this is what makes it worth it. It doesn’t matter if my knuckle bones have split through the skin such it the intensity of my grip this is flat out ‘Top Gear’ bleached jeans, tweed jacket, casual racism, ‘give us back our borders’, torque differential blah blah blah speed and it was fantastic. I loved it and looked at the Boy as a loving father to share the thrill and he was looking at his phone and not holding on at all. Animal…. He’s done me again…..again…

We dock and I alight wobbly legged, exhilarated and crucually still alive. I ask the boy if he enjoyed it and I received the now customary expression used for anything from a mediocre hamburger to a £150m lottery win:

“..it was alright…”.

Wasting my time and hard earned cash.

Our next battle doesn’t come at sea but instead at a farm where the most humourless man alive rents us four Quad bikes at an eye watering piss taking price meaning we can spend 30 minutes racing around a dirt track. I see this as a bit of a opportuinity to regain the power as I’m aware that the Boy has never ridden one, the fact that I’ve never ridden one doesn’t even enter my mind but I’m assuming age will see me dominate him thus enabling me to take the power back.

After kitting up in some old shite and getting yet another safety briefing in this nuts Health & Safety country (no idea how I survived the 70’s and 80’s) we have to do a trial lap around a smaller track to prove that we will not kill ourselves or anyone else. We all do this with ease although Boo still appears to be out for a Sunday drive with a 100 year old brittle boned old lady holding tea in a china cup with saucer as a passenger.

I’m out on the track first and so bomb off giving it everything on this thing which is essentially a farm vehicle and create what I believe to be clear track between me and the Boy. I’m having a right old laugh on this thing as it has the same qualities as the RIB (speed and bouncability) without the clear and present threat of a giant squids beak or the bone crushing jaws or the Moray eel. There is no sign of the boy even out of the peripherals so I’m basking in imminent glory…. this is it… I wouldn’t care now if I saw his twisted wreckage embedded in a tree as I’m pissed on Dad power….I’M BACK BABY!!!!

….There is no wreckage… there is no sign of him.

And then, from nowhere I hear it… ‘Toot!! Toot!!…. Toot!! Toot!!’.

Unfuckingbelievable.

He’s all over me, right up my exhaust and he’s not only revving the thing to death but he has also discovered that his machine has a comedy horn and he’s using it to get me out of the way. My humiliation is absolute but I’m not giving in, this is a narrow track and he can’t get by unless……unless…. He gets by….. Unlike me, who is adhereing to the safety briefing like some relic from a bygone age, he has gone ‘off-road’ past me in a plume of dust and laughing.

For the remainder of my quality Quad time I am tormented by this human size bumble bee buzzing around me. He takes great pleasure in overtaking me multiple times even allowing me to overtake him so he can do it again. At one point he was in such command of the situation that he could have driven around me as I was moving forward. Animal… Done again….again…again…

I arrive back at the shed to deliver back the Quad and am met by the utterly humourless beige jub in charge. The silence between us is deafening as he is incapable of conversation without putting the recipient out cold so I strike up a bit of petrol head bants with the two-stroker.

“..Thanks..” says I as I gesture towards my ride, ” That was great fun, I must get one of these”, He pauses and eyes the machine. “Yes….They are great fun…. If you haven’t done it before…”

Brilliant. Killed the fun stone dead. No point ever doing it again. Cheers.

My only real chance of redemption lies in kayaking and as I has now conquered the sea I am right up for it so we head to Fishguard Bay where we meet ‘Kayak King’ which appears to be a student collective featuring a fresh faced sporty type, a no beard hipster in a crocodile skin cowboy hat and a rather big Scouse lump who looks like he’d be quite handy in a pub punch-up. We, and 14 other people gather around the ‘Kayak King’ van and for some reason Crocodile Dundee thinks its a good idea that us, the paying public, introduce ourselves to each other in that way they make everyone do on a shit training day in a bland room optimistically called a ‘suite’ in a low budget hotel. After getting to know Emma and Josh, Dipak and Chandra, Pete and Malcolm and many other people I have little or no interest in getting to know they dish out the kit and once again I have to squeeze my egg shaped body into some kind of unflattering costume for the kids amusement and to get in it I have to disrobe in a fucking carpark. After some heavy duty family assistance with the closing of a zip testing the limits of zip technology I am ready to go. Wet Suit, woman repellent hybrid insulated fleece, windproof jacket, lifejacket and gore-tex cap. I look like a sea mine.

I waddle towards the water and Iget into my Kayak which I am sharing with Boo who isn’t old enough for her own. I assure her that I am an expert and there is no possibility of her falling in. She’s nervous but I’m in full control…. full control at this point.

We head out to sea and as expected I am dominating the ocean and it’s many creatures. The RIB ride has seen me cast aside any fears I had and I am now effectively Aquaman without the charisma and body of Jason Mamoa. I am ripping a path through the water like a speed boat and Boo is occasionally assisting me but there’s no sign of either Jen or the Boy. Outstandingly they are struggling as their mastery of the paddle is two-bob…. the worm has turned….John Doe has the upper hand and I’m loving it. The Boy has very poor technique with the paddle whereas I am like a master with a deep plunge and pull giving me the perfect balance between efficiency and power. This is marvellous stuff and I continue to school him for the next half an hour and he ain’t liking it much but he has to take it or become Captain Bligh ( I repeat: the only proper sailor I know) in the next hour.

The guides take us around a few caves and coves and it’s great to see them and some more seal nostrils even it we are all soaking wet as it’s pissing down.

And then it happened.

This ‘Master of the Seas’ shit comes at a price and inevitably cockyness kicked in and I suddenly find that a brief miscalculation in navigation has left me, Boo and the Kayak heading straigth towards a clump of rocks which has appeared out of nowhere directly in our path. “BRACE!! BRACE!!” I shout a split second before impact and Boo is forced to laugh and scream at the same time. The next thing we know we are teetering on the rock like Moses and the Ark once the rains subsided. Boo is starting to panic at this point but I, Aquaman, believe I can get us out of this with some shifts in body weight which will simply deliver us back into the sea.

….I was wrong….

As I move the second time the Kayak shifts to the right and continues to shift to the right until both I, Boo and my horrifically my phone are submerged in the Irish sea. The only thing I promised her was that she wouldn’t get wet and now here she is, completely wet. We flap about in the water with an upturned Kayak and Boo looks a bit distressed but I have other issues way beyond saving my daughter as my phone is now exposed to sea water. I assess the situation with the speed of the SAS moments before stormimg a building and come to the swift conclusion that she knew the risks when entering a Kayak with an idiot like me, she’s wearing a life jacket and can swim whereas my phone is an innocent party to my fuckery and needs saving. Sure Boo is flapping about in a panic – who wouldn’t but she has arms and legs and can think. The phone needs me… the phone is helpless… the phone is the priority…. I can make another kid if necessary it’s fucking easy but I ain’t spending my few pennies on another phone…. God No!!

Once the phone is secure I assist Boo. She’s not happy but she’ll understand in time. The priority now is getting her back in the boat and at least start the long slow road of apology. But wait a moment…. up rocks the grinning brother who is wearing then face of a a kayaker who is not wet, a kayaker who is in control… The Boy looks down on us in the water and slightly shakes his head in disapointment that I have embarrased then family in front of stangers. He’s not wrong, the other participants on the trip look at me like I’m the worst parent in the world. Fuck them, Boo is okay and more importantly I reckon the phone will be fine.

In a fug of embarrasment (I mean, who takes a phone on a kayak?) I take up my place at the back of the group for the remainder of the trip. I’m sulking , large, and the Boy is now ahead of me riding the Kayak like a paddle board to almost total applause from the awe struck instructors and the public around us who have ventured out in boats. Any second now he’ll be doing that ‘Karate Kid’ Praying Mantis shit and my life will be over… Once more…Animal… He’s done me….again…. again…again…. and he didn’t even have to try that hard.

On our way back to port I start explaining to Boo that we are the adventures in the family. We are the ones who have faced death in the Irish sea and stared into the eye of the ‘Sharknado’, we are the two who may have grappled with ‘The Meg’ not the other two… they have simply played by the rules.

“We are like Indiana Jones and Short Round Boo…” says I, “…Crocket and Tubbs, Bodie and Doyle, Brodie and Hooper, Jack Sparrow and….”

“..Ant and Dec?” she interupts killing this attempted bonding session quicker than a Tiger shark gnawing on a baby turtle.

We agree that we will talk about this for years to come and limp back to a car park/changing room where I will burst free like a gas bloated beached Humpback from my neoprene prison next to an Ice Cream van where the proprietor eats a Chicken and Mushroom Pot Noodle…. A sadder holiday sight has rarely been seen as if trapped in an Ice Cream van in the rain it should always be a Beef and Tomato Pot Noodle and a can of Lilt.

My last opportunity to maintain any sort of gravitas in the eyes of a 15 year old comes at an outdoor, tarmac Go-Karting track at an in decline Country Fayre. It has come to this…. this shit. Once more I find myself in a shipping container squeezing my well fed frame into a boiler suit meant for a much younger and more attractive person. This raggedy affair has another velcro strip down the front and as it’s snug standing up it will inevitably pop open as soon as my arse hits the seat of the Kart like time lapse oven footage of an overfilled Souffle.

Again I’ve this race before it starts as due to the boy being under 16 it means I must ride in an underpowered junior Cart instead of a big beast. It’s over. I take up my seat in the feeble junior cart and as predicted my body decides to exit the straining velcro and I don’t even care… I’m broken, let’s get this over and done with.

I’m out on the track and part of me just wants to get the kart up to it’s maximum speed and just smash into the barrier in a ball of flame and smoke for the only glory available to me. Then we’ll see…. YOU’LL ALL SEE!!! I will merely be a memory… a clown… a family clown…. they sicken me…

I did alright beating everyone but the Boy and was suitably depressed by the speed limiter slowing me down further on the straight. Of course the Boy had no such issues and he passed me multiple times in a flash of speed and a perfectly fitted racing suit and speed demon arepdynamic helmet as opposed to my massive giant ping pong ball cracked visor shithousery wedged on my swead.

All this should have been expected of course. He’s 15, fresh, agile, young and perfect and I’m 50, broken, scarred, finished, leaky and leaden. My time will come with the Boy and with Boo and it won’t be through being ‘competetive Dad’ beating him in some kind of pointless competition. My job is to be there during the tough shit, the first heartbreak, the University years, the first punch-up and the inevitable ‘I’m invincible’ hangovers. These will be the proper experiences where I can assist and none of them require me to don skin tight garments to get a point across. There is still hope…

All hail the young!!!…We should only be advisors to the young and not dictators. And to us, the old, bring on the Soylent Green machine and the Tena suber absorbant pants for Men who can’t make it through the night.

Now it’s all very well me telling tales of my endless humiliation on these family trips at the hand of various organisms I have come across but what does it tell you about my time in Wales. The simple answer is it tells you fuck all but at least you may have laughed at my expense which is really the only point here.

I was very sad when the Welsh trip ended as it was everything I want from a holiday. I’ve sat on beaches or by pools and visited ruins aplenty both in Britain and abroad but holidays and in fact all days should really be about laughing and in particular laughing with the people you love. In Wales there was a lot of laughing and if it meant I was the catalyst for it then so be it. Laughing is the key to everything and if you cant allow yourself to be laughed at you may as well give up.

Everytime I holiday in the United Kingdom I gauge a place by a simple criteria: Would I want to live here? Well I could live in Wales and particularly Newport in Pembrokeshire (see the distinction there) which is a beautiful little town with enough things to do to keep you happy in a retirement scenario. It has some lovely places to eat and nearly all the pubs are welcoming. The Royal Oak wasn’t welcoming, The Royal Oak was a blip…

I did point out the problem with The Royal Oak to Jen in advance of us walking through the door as a illuminated sign above it read ‘Merry Christmas’ in August. True to form she ignored my advice even though this one concerned my specialities: Public Houses and the specifics of the festive period. In we pop on the orders of Jen and are imeadiately greeted with a scene of carnage that Heironymous Bosch would have been proud of.

There are kids running around out of control, there is screaming by a bunch of ‘randoms’ in the corner and a queue at the bar, well at the smaller of the two bars but crucially the one I am at. The bigger bar is half empty but full of locals being tended to by a young, giggly, buxom barmaid while we get two surly fuckers ignoring us and an aged and toothless old crone tapping her watch and telling two other punters that it’s her ‘knocking off time’ and so although behind the bar she aint serving no one never ever…

Jen insisted we come here so I sit back at a sticky table and let her deal with it which in this case appears to be indicating that we leave after 10 minutes has passed without given these fuckers a copper coin.

The Royal Oak is the absolute exception in Newport as all the other venues are excellent with great food atmospheres and friendly locals within them. Everyone else I meet is polite and you feel instantly welcome whether you be in the local Welsh Speaking pub for live sport, the butchers and gift shops or the Artisan Pizzeria serving a Leek and local cheese Pizza called ‘Land of my Fathers’ and local Ales in comedy bottles. The Golden Lion Pub has top facilities and would be great in summer and winter. The food there was lovely with the Pork and Chirzio Burger being a work of art and the Guinness perfectly pulled.

It was in the Golden Lion that I witnessed an older gentleman sneeze 17 times in a row during his dinner. At around the 10th ‘splat’ the kids fell to bits in that uncontrollable laugh where every next supressed giggle puts to you a moment closer to wetting yourself. Boo was begging for mercy at the 15th and by the time the old codger hit 17 even Jen had collapsed in a heap. There was no panic from the old girl he was with so I can only assume it’s a pre dinner Welsh ritual I was previously unaware of or she was eyeing up an insurance claim and told him that his Marie Rose Prawn Cocktail contained no Shellfish.

Everywhere we went in this part of Wales was the same. The people were Lovely and the scenery spectacular and on a par or better that anything I’ve seen around the country or in Ireland. The view from the Carningli Mountain overlooking the town was breathtaking and worth the trip alone and we were the only four people up there. I can’t believe that I never considered a coming to Wales before for a prolonged period but I’m certain I will return. Top stuff.

This is what I was looking for in a holiday, Peace and tranquility mixed with laughing, drinking and eating good food with my tribe. I don’t need the heat and I don’t need to sleep by a pool all day listening to music and drinking cocktails but apparently we are doing exactly that next year in Greece as I have absolutely no fucking control whatsoever.

So I would happily retire to somehwere like Newport once I’m done with London…however as Samuel Johnson said….

More adventure to come in ‘the big smoke’ I feel, well at least for another decade….

As you were.

Land of some Fathers: Welsh Wales (part one)

In the early noughties I worked with a very lazy man. He was a solid old lump with a bald head and a fairly large capacity for Ale. My God he was lazy. I remember one instance where the office was in a state of chaos due to the work that was in progress and I looked across to see him spinning on his chair, dangling his legs like a small child while smiling inanely. Standard stuff from him….Lazy fucker. Eventually he was moved out of the team and the last I heard he was in disgrace after being caught in what he thought was a locked, windowless office crashing one out over a Gentleman’s periodical he had acquired during the course of his enquiries. An appropriate exit for a lazy wanker (B-Boom)..

He was a Welshman.

I’ve always like the Welsh. They are passionate, seem like a lot of fun and Patriotic. Patriotism is a dirty word if you consider yourself an Englishman. It’s almost not allowed because the flag and what goes with it have been hijacked by racists and upper class arseholes with a colonialist mindset. Farage and that other oxygen thief Yaxley-Lennon spring to mind. A couple of self serving fuckers one of whom is married to a German and wanted a German passport and the other the son of Irish Immigrants who begged for US citizenship when he was scared to face the music after breaking the law. Outstanding patriotism there lads, Well. Done. I love the the Welsh for their patriotism as I love the Englishman who can be, the Irishman who will be and the Scotsman who is. (You may notice I said ‘man’ there… don’t get all het up about it snowflake, I’m just making a point, I’m fully aware that the female of the species is equally as patriotic or not).

Unfortunately English patriotism appears to be flexible. On St Patricks Day the streets of London are awash with Englishmen tentatively sipping Guinness they clearly don’t like in an attempt to harness the toenail of irishness they believe they have but at the same time most couldn’t tell you when St Georges Day is. We are a selfish mongrel, mercenary nation never more evident following the Brexit vote when staunch ‘leavers’ who want ‘change’ and ‘closed borders, and ‘less control from faceless bueracrats in Europe’ want Irish passports to ease their travel habits….. pathetic. You chose it…. fucking live with it…

Anyway, that is for another time.

So here I am. Welsh Wales.

I arrived a week ago and am having a great time. This year we managed to leave London early. This is always the plan but rarely happens as my tribe move slow even when I am ready to go. They are Sloths….and why not, It’s not a dictatorship.

We packed up the car and headed off and after one stop for some motorway ‘food’ we arrived in the quiet little village of Newport in Pembrokeshire. That’s Newport in Pembrokeshire and not the other one which I believe isn’t like this in any way but more akin to a drunken war zone or a never ending travellers wedding. This Newport is a bit ‘tickerty-plop, how’s ya cock’ with an Art gallery selling low level watercolours from local artists for £250 a go.

Holidays to me are simply about relaxation and fun and so I’m happy to go anywhere that these two things might happen. They are a time to switch off completely and if it coincides with new experiences then great but I’m happy to just chill the fuck out, soak up the locale and watch the people that I don’t normally see. I’ve never been one for seeing the sunrise over Macchu Picchu or swimming with dolphins or any of that ‘bucket list’ professional tourist shite, it’s just not my bag. If it’s yours happy days and if my holiday coincides with any event then so be it but I’m here for the sleep, the wine and the relaxation. I’m easy, I’m a whore to the lazy and it’s why I’m happy just to be out of London even if it means grey skies, wind and the odd bout or biblical rain.

We arrive in Newport early afternoon and even on an initial drive through I know I will like it. It has three pubs (all gritty) and at least four decent looking places to eat. It’s also a 5 minute walk from the beach although you don’t really come to Wales in my view to lie on a beach in the hope of a tan. From what I’ve seen Wales is a visual experience and a fantastic one at that.

The place we are staying in for the fortnight is tough to find, isolated, in the shadow of the mountain (well… big hill). It’s so hard to find that I am forced to leave the safety of a London registered vehicle and move on foot in unknown territory towards what I think might be the place. It’s not the place and after a rigid moment where a large dog runs towards me at pace I approach my first local with my nice face on which isn’t particularly nice but it will have to do.

‘Hello Local Woman’ says I, ‘I am your new King…please assist me in finding ‘Madoc Twy Bryn’, which is a local building of these parts…. Capeesh?’ (I’m paraphrasing here). I’m met with what can only be described as a ‘who the fuck is this prrick?’ pause ( I can’t emphasise the rolling ‘r’ enough here people) and so after some forced smiling on my part the lank haired farmer’s wife spews out a few words providing me with a glimpse of some random railings reminicent of a burned down fence. She points towards the lane I have come from says ‘Green Dumper’ and ‘House’ and basically expects me to fuck off in that direction which I do after a low bow of thanks…

I head down the lane and spot a green farm vehicle (presumably the ‘dumper’) followed by two outstanding stone buildings. This could be the place.

All of a sudden, from the left, an old man enters my fighting arc with his hand extended in what could be some form of Welsh Martial art… I need to act quick… heel of palm to base of hooter driving nose bone through brain or simply a handshake?…Jesus, this is a test. I go for the handshake and meet a lovely old bloke called ‘Alun’ and skulking behind a Rhododendrom bush is his soft spoken slighlty vacant wife ‘Eileen’ who is all wide eyes and maniacal smile. We vigourously shake hands in a British Isle face off and he asks me a few non threatening questions like where are we from and how was the journey…. standard operating procedure.

After these pleasantries we all enter our holiday rental which he explains is his childhood home which is a sweet factoid enhancing the old property more. Its a lovely place as expected. Jen always finds these pearlers due to extensive research but this one is pretty much bang on. In fact it is better than the website portrayed it mainly because these lovely old bods have taken the wrong photos. There’s loads of room to all hide from each other and although a bit twee (it is a welsh fishermans cottage owned by two old people) the new extension seems to be the place to chill out.

The boy interupts my tour of the property by showing me his wi-fi signal ‘Three bars in every room’ he grunts and walks away showing me three fingers explaning the power of the neet… Great… that’s the end of him. I wish the boy a great holiday and continue with the old man who is showing me how a house works.

“Now, If you get cold see”, he says “You need to turn the dial on this box in the hallway”. It’s the thermostat you fruitloop…. We hug. The old man directs Jen towards Nutty Eileen who until this moment could have been an animatronic wax work with a partially broken internal speaker.

“My wife will show you all the ladies things to do…. off you go”. Jen stiffens as if preparing to unleash a tirade or a light pummelling to his brittle bones but swiftly changes her mind in the interest of international relations and heads off with the mumbler towards a utility room where women ‘do the washing’. (Fear not ladies, I’ve been doing the washing since we got here… I’m from London and realise that if I were to talk to Jen like that I wouldn’t be nearly dead I’d be very actually dead).

I grill the old man on the local amenities and specifically the pubs within stumbling range of the building. He is positve but adds the caveat ‘London prices mind’. I assure him that’s not a problem as that is all I am used to. He moves to leave but Crazy Eileen is writing down places for us to visit with the kids. She writes the words ‘Doll Museum’ and Jen and I look at each other as we know the boy, who has few fears, is fucking terrified of wax works and dolls. This first appeared in a comical Wax works in Devon years back when he had a nervous breakdown at the sight of a model Yeti and then a particularly horific Dale Winton and continues to this day. There will be no visit to the Doll Museum unless they want it burnt down in the night.

Alun and Eileen take their leave and hand over a lovely welcoming Welsh Barm Brack with a large sticker on it stating ‘NOT GLUTEN FREE’ which leaves me only my fake alergy to nuts to use when suing them for their house should I collapse after one fruity bite. After they leave I do my usual snoop around to see if I can work how everything works or doesn’t work (I had to fix the TV) and then we head out into the wastelands in search of food.

Jen is always prepared. Wherever we go she knows what is there and tragically she knows where an Aldi is. Jen is Adli pissed and will always go to one if she can find one. The only annoying thing to her about Aldi is the lack of ‘proper butter’. There is no Lurpak there is only Norpak and she don’t do Norpak. It matters not one jot whether we don’t like ‘Jive’ bars (the paupers Twix), or whether the kids hate ‘Nutoka’ (Nutella), ‘Teddy Bear faces’ (Pom Bear crisps) or that I don’t want ‘Ouixo’ gravy granuals with me Sausage and mash, we are going to fuckin Aldi. If we didn’t have a years supply or quality tea in the house at any single moment we would only ever shop at Aldi. I’ve hated Aldi since I saw two Albanians fighting over a particulary nice Cucumber in one last Christmas as if it were some kind of magical food. I’m also irritated by the famous ‘random aisle of dreams’ where you can get a torch-cum-melon peeler and a 90 psi Air compressor for the same price. Aldi is like Del Boys lock up…. with food.

We trapse around like men (or women…gawd) on death row occasionally being allowed to add something to the overly full trolley like a Stawberry ‘Sky’ yoghurt or Reinbacher Pilsner until we reach the checkout with the ludicrously long conveyor belt straight from the Generation Game and the stupid small packing area. It is here that we have our first interaction with a random local. ‘Jill’ is on checkout three and she is chucking out the questions at the same velocity as a polis with a murderer on the rack.

We get the usual ‘strangers on the plot’ questions that you get everywhere which we deal with politely. I’m always wary of saying I’m from London as it’s usually met with a sharp intake of breath as if you have escaped from some hell that you forced to live in which is a complete fallacy as we all know where the tunnels are and can leave at any moment in the night.

All was going smoothly until I was asked if I was staying in a caravan or camping. What a fuckin Rotter. There is little chance of me camping or caravaning, I mean it has happened and I have hated it, but there is absolutely no chance of Jen entertaining it unless trees have power points and I find the acusation quite offensive given the ton of food she has scanned through. Not sure what kind of tent or caravan could house this lot. When I go on holiday I want comfort and not a damp grassy floor or a chipboard seat covered in sponge and some kind of chintz. Fuck it, I’m a snob and proud of it.

We avoid an Aldi massacre by politely explaining that we have a cottage rather than a strip of nylon or a rickerty plastic trailer reeking of damp and we make our way towards the exit and then towards a stone dwelling with a bath.

The next day after a lazy night in soaking up our new surroundings we head out to have a look about. We end up in Tenby which everyone tells me is fantastic.

Tenby is fantastic.

Let me rephrase that, Tenby looks fantastic with a beach any country would be proud of. It is a majestic expanse of sand and would look even more stunning on a brighter day. When you arrive in Tenby you have plenty of opportunity to see it and the town as you spend the first hour driving around in circles looking for somewhere to park. Your only hope appears to be if someone dies and the normal civic process has been completed then you might, just might, get the slot vacated by the deceased’s vehicle once it is removed by the authorities and before all the circling drivers swoop on it like an outtake from ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’.

The time it took to find a space created ludicrous levels of expectation as to what delights were before us. Unfortunately when you get down to the nitty gritty there is nothing particularly outstanding about Tenby other than the beach itself. The usual seaside lumps are legion as well as mobility scooters where there owners are crowbarred into the tiny seats. Dogs play a large part in Tenby as do poor tattoos, toothless grins and pubs filled with cooking lager drinking goons moaning that it is £2.80 a pint and the WKD Blue isn’t cold enough. It’s all standard seaside town fayre so no one should be too shocked least of all me who has spent years in Hastings where no amount of hipster Gin or Vodka bars will eliminate the smell of piss and Lambrini from ‘bottle alley’. Most seaside towns are rough due to the nature of the punter passing through them so Tenby is no better or worse than any.

As I walk around Tenby with my pisstakers eyeballs logging down all the Orcs and trolls in my view I spot a proper munter. A squat ugly beast comes into view with ham hock calfs protruding from holiday shorts with a heavy brow, miserable face and a bad attitude. It is ‘Gimli’ made flesh but without a beard and the Axe…. rotten.

It’s me reflecred in a shop window.

Good Grief I’m ugly, I really gone to seed but in fairness I’ve never seen athletically proportioned and ooze ‘battering ram’ rather than ‘precision instument’. I really must sort myself out this Autumn. Who the fuck am I to take the piss out of anyone? well I’m all you’ve got so I will continue until some other savage rocks up.

After lunch in Tenby (inevitably some form of meat in bread) we return to base camp. As the football is on I use it as an excuse to try out the local boozer and so the boy and I head off to a local Welsh speaking hostelry to hopefully watch Chelsea get smashed to bits.

The local is very local both in distance from our accomodation and for quality of its custom. From the moment we walk in it is clear that we are not local and that England had won the Rugby earlier in the day. Tricky one. The bar area is filled with big old lumps in rugby shirts but I normally intimidating scenarios as a challenge and so tell the boy to find a suitable seat and I go straight to a small gap at the bar where I whip out a £20 note to suprised looks and the odd gasp.

I’ve already been warned of ‘London Prices’ by old man Alun but I’m guessing £20 should cover the Guinness and a pint of diet Coke and Ice unless they want some kind of John Rambo from ‘First Blood’ fallout in this small town. As I wait for the drinks to be delivered and prior to me handing over the readies I lapse into dreamy state where I imagine a ‘Heddlu de Cymru’ face off with me holed up in the gift shop with a load of hostages screaming ‘You shouldn’t have charged me £6.50 for the G man!!… you are taking the piss!! …This isn’t Camden!!!..” before I click the detonator and Newport (in Pembrokeshire) rises skyward and becomes merely a smoking bunker littered with body parts, charred leeks and half baked Welsh Cakes falling from the sky.. (cue sad outro music and poignant voice over).

‘That’ll be £5.60 please love’ says a very polite lady barkeep behind the ramp. ‘£5.60?’ says I, ‘…And a pint of diet Coke with Ice..’ I add. ‘No, No…’ she says, ‘That included the Coke’. Blimey Charlie, If Alun thinks this is London prices then I suggest he never attempts to rent anywhere in the Islington area, or even use a Pret-A-Manger for a swift Bang Bang Chicken Wrap. I later find that this pub sells decent Guinness for £3.60 a pint which is both better than any London Wetherspoons and also a London price albeit one from about 2001.

The boy and I settle in for the footy quite close to a table of very large, well pissed people speaking Welsh. It was evident early doors to me upon entering this establishment that I was one of the only punters in attendance to which the consonant isn’t an alien concept. I can’t include the boy in this as for the last 18 months he has adopted the speaking cabability of a caveman when is public with me and so simply resorts to the odd grunt, nod and tick indicating understanding in case I embarrass him in front of people he not only doesn’t know but will most likely never see again. Teenagers…What do you do eh? That’s right… you actively go out of your way to embarass them in order to snap them out of this bollocks.

I put the bargain bucket Guinness to my lips and one of the larger lumps catches my eye. This is it, I can smell my own death.

‘Are you Man United Butty?’ he asks.

Now in normal circumstances I would have seen this as some kind of challenge to both my intelligence and my manhood. It is the classic North London precursor to a roll around but there is both a size and violence gap here in our abilities so I merely adopt a comic disgsusted look and repsond with ‘No, The Arsenal’ (never just ‘Arsenal’… if you know, you know). This knocks him back, and he relays this information to the table in Welsh. After a brief pause they all start talking furously in a language akin to Charlie Brown’s teacher where I can only make out the word ‘Arsenal’ or ‘Arsehole’. There is no more local interaction today and so the boy and I simply revel in Chelsea getting smashed by a sub standard Man United.

We always take the first week of a holiday easy. I like to gauge the lay of the land if I’m in the UK, abroad it is less of an issue as you tend to just sit on a beach or by a pool. In the UK you are forced to find things to do as the weather can be a joke and no one ever really holidays here for a fortnight on a beach unless they are insane. The initial plan was to go to Snowdonia for the day to do some stuff but that was scuppered early doors when realising the vastness of the country so Snowdonia will have to be a trip for another year as a six hour round trip seemed excessive and I didn’t fancy the extra expense of more overnight accomodation. So the first week to us is to experience all the little stuff, the quick stuff and to work out where we are and what we would like to do more of in the second week.

When we arrived old man Alun warned us that we would find it hard to get out of the town on Market day due to the ‘crowds’ so we’d either have to get out early or leave town later in the afternoon. This sounds promising, a local market a stones throw from our humble cottage packed with local produce and trinkets we can inflict of friends when we return. Outstanding work.

We wait for market day with baited breath and I insist to Jen that we must get there early to soak up the majesty of cheese and pies and local beers. This will be like ‘River Cottage’ where you nod at all the locals and try huge samples of humanly killed lambs and buy chickens complete with head and feet at £25 a pop. You don’t care because it’s for the them….the locals…. the common sod of this sacred turf..’The Others’. I’m dreaming of creamy Welsh fudge (not a euphemism) and perhaps the odd ‘Lamb Oggie’ sold in a brown paper bag tied up with string or even a jar of honey made from individually named bees.

We turn the corner into ‘Market Street’, outstandingly named so me, London filth, can find it without shouting ‘Oi!! mate!! Where’s the fucking market?’ from the window or moving car to a local, and there it is….

Four stalls and a bloke playing Supermarket checkout CD traditional Jazz on a saxaphone.

Undaunted, but with a face that says ‘You cheeky fuckers’ we stride through the ‘Market’ where we walk passed other similarly confused tourists who can only say ‘Why?’ to any face willing to listen and within 90 seconds I am sitting back in the cottage being consoled by the kids. ‘They only had one cheese on sale’ I explain to bemused kids and someone had the audacity to approach me and ask if I fancied attending a Panto, a fucking Panto in August. ‘…I’d love to..’ I replied to the mug with the flyer ‘..If it were Christmas and I was 8 years old and stupid and drunk and blind and deaf…’ The effrontery was staggering.

Whilst still in market trauma Jen suggests that we go to another local pub for a quiet beer. This is Jen code telling me that I won’t be having more than two pints but after the panto incident I’m not sure I could sink more than a couple anyway. We pop out without the kids for a strategic chat at a pub which doubles as a hotel. It is possibly the tidiest pub I’ve ever seen almost spotless but strangely it doesn’t feel clinical and still manages to give off a cosy homely feel.

The pub has a covered garden and as it is a sunny day Jen and I head towards it with half a cider and a Guinness. There are only one other couple in the garden and I can see a couple of high end mountain bikes parked up next to them so they have clearly stopped off for a sniffter en route.

Jen and I sit down for a kid free chat when my ears are assaulted by a scratchy quality audio coming from the male mountain bikers phone. For some reason this plum has decided that the women he is with needs to watch a full episode of ‘Blackadder’ in a tranquil pub garden in the middle of the day on his phone. She’s watching it but she either doesn’t understand it or doesn’t find it funny. All I can see due to her sunglasses is a confused furrowed brow as she pretends to watch it while he pisses himself and says ‘…so funny…look…look..” while explaining to her the humour which as we all know is the point that you need to stop, pick up your bike and fuck off as you have made an arse of yourself. Fear not mate, we’ve all done it. Just go home, back a bag, change your name and move town so you never cross her path again because when she tells people about this it will be over for you in Newport.

I can sense the bike lady checking out the exits she’ll bomburst to once she’s slashed his tires after the video has thankfully finished. She’s already got this down as a disaster only fit for anecdotal purposes regardless of the quality of his £3,000 bike. There will be no family bike rides with the kids sired from this weirdo as this Cycling date hasn’t quite worked out to that level. She is clearly a bicycle pump downward stroke away from telling this knobber that the date is over and he needs to return to Mummy and his favourite sock sharpish but I’ll never witness that moment as Jen drags me away just as I’m drooling in anticipation of his humiliation.

Suffice to say, week one was fantastic and contrary to most weather reports we saw little rain due to the microclimate effect but it is a tad cool so no one has needed sun cream.

We end the week in a local eatery which served up something called ‘Tapas and Tunes’. Now I know what you are thinking, ‘Welsh Tapas’. Does this mean a bowl of leeks, a small piping hot glass of Brains Skull-Attack, a single lamb nose in a spicy sauce? Will it be like the infamous ‘Scottish Meze’ I was introduced to about 12 years ago in a pub in Westminster? I should probably explain this….

One winter night while drinking heavily with some colleagues in a Westminster boozer one of our associates went to the bar and returned with some nibbles in the form of Crisps (3 packets of assorted flavours), Nuts (salted and dry roasted), a bag of Pork Scratchings and three sachets of Ketchup and cheap mayonaise. He proceeded to open and splay the crisp packets on the bar before mixing the crisps themselves together. He then liberally scattered the nuts throughout the crisps and topped it off with a mound of scratchings before drizzling Ketchup and Mayonnaise all over the platter before us….

After a moment of silence and a fair amount of awe he stood back and said ‘Viola!!…A Scottish Meze…Bon Appe-fuckin-tit…’.

He was confronted with dumbstruck faces for a good 15 seconds before we all pissed ourselves and tucked in. It was the best bar snack I’ve ever had and I’ve had Oysters looking over the Atlantic in Galway. Perfection in that gallon of Guinness moment…. outstanding.

There is nothing ‘Meze’ about a Scottish Meze and there is nothing ‘ Tapas’ about ‘Tapas and Tunes’ unless you think naming a bowl of potatoes in tomato sauce constitutes ‘Patatas Bravas’ because you like to think you run a Tapas bar. The food was about as Spanish as a Marbella based cockney villian applying for a Spanish passport as it eases his travel concerns (never forget). Just because you stick it in a small bowl it don’t make it Tapas, its just random food in a small bowl. Also if you call a starter of finger food ‘The pickings’ there’s a good chance people might find it offensive or just not very edible. Thicker than shit in a bottle (Thank you Mr Franklin).

The tunes were provided by two overly nourished blokes on guitars serving up more cheese that the Tapas ‘Cheese cake’ in the form of Magic FM heavy ballads where the assembled punters are expected to join in. Yep, as you suspected this was right up my street and so I would threaten the kids with over exuberant involvement while never intending to get involved. Strangely the two players are quite handy in a ‘Steve Wright in the afternoon’ way but no one is breaking out of their agents filing system unless he needs ‘For use at a dull overly christian wedding’ so it’s Friday night ‘almost Tapas’ for these two.

We wait for a particularly suitably insipid version of the Carpenters ‘Close to You’ to finish and with our bellies only slightly fuller than Karen Carpenter’s we leave £150 lighter and week one draws to a close.

These travelogues aren’t supposed to be strictly chronological they are merely supposed to be humourous and leave you with an idea of what freakery I spot when my head isn’t filled with serious stuff like work.

In week one we covered a lot of mileage around this lovely country and we did a lot of stuff but I’ll cover that in the next effort after the completion of week two where I’ll be explaining the competetiveness a 15 year old can bring out of a grown man and the funniest restaurant allergy I’ve seen in many a year.

As you were….

…Stick ’em with the pointy end….

There was little better in my childhood than reading ‘The Hobbit’. I would set my alarm for about 0530 hours on a cold winter’s night so I could get up in the dark to read it while the rain, wind or snow pounded the windows. That was the proper setting for such a book. I was obsessed with it and to be fair I still am as I felt I was in it and its Fantasy world. It’s a cosy book filled with roaring fires and adventure and I still read it occasionally. I still have the original copy of the book I first read as I never returned it to the school library…. Basically I became the ‘Thief’ of the book, I didn’t want to to be this way but it was destiny.

From this point on I became obsessed with the genre known as ‘Fantasy’. This isn’t unusual for a 10 year old boy so at this stage I wasn’t too worried.

‘The Hobbit’ pushed me into Tolkein territory which as we all know means ‘The Lord of the Rings’ as you’ll be hard pushed to find anyone outside of pot-bellied bearded Comic Con freakery who has read anything else by him regardless of conversations about the virtues of ‘The Silmarillion’ and ‘The Father Christmas Letters’.

I first tackled LOTR’s in my early teens and quickly realised that it is really a bit of a rehash of ‘The Hobbit’. It’s a tough read initially and on that attempt I only made it through to the mid point of ‘The Two Towers’ before ‘Fuck this shit’ entered my head and I put it down. The second attempt in my early 20’s was much more successful as I worked out that you need to ignore everything in italics, as that was some sort of backstory song and anything under the extensive section marked ‘Appendices’ which accounted for almost half of ‘The Return of the King’. None of that stuff is relevant to the story in reality and unless you are the kind of prick who likes to talk about Tolkein’s ‘Third Age’ as some one did years ago to me in a pub you can rule it out of your life.

Anyway I got through it and the collective work is a worthy tome overall. The problem is that it gets more complicated as it goes on….and on….and on.. when it’s just a simple good guys versus bad guys ‘men on a misison’ tale. It also becomes more flowery in language and it progresses and veers towards a religious experience towards the end. You are a gnats chuff away from ‘Blessed are the Ring Bearers’ in some parts and fully in the ‘And lo! on a mountain up high’ area for much of the last book. However you can’t get too much of the arsehole about it as you have signed up to a 800 page effort with Wizards, Orcs, Hobbits, Dwarfs and giant Eagles who could have dealt with the problem within the first chapter rendering the rest of the book useless immeadiately.

I digress, back to ‘The Hobbit’ and my descent into the world of ‘Fantasy’….

As I said, this book opened up the fantasy genre to my pre pubecent eyeballs and I soaked up as much as I could. The problem was that outside of the printed word, Conan comics or the odd Boris Vellejo ‘Gentlemens art’ book you were struggling to get your fantasy chops and I was never going to be sitting in a scout hut playing ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ where I was forced to use my imagination in the company of the acne brigade for 72 hours with no outcome. At this time of my life ‘Star Wars’ was king and Hollywood didn’t have the budgets for special effects creating fantasy realms of multiple breeds of fantastical creatures so we got ‘Hawk the Slayer’ and the equally shit ‘Krull’ or ‘Krudd’ as it became known.

‘Hawk the Slayer’ was a particularly terrible effort mainly due to the presence of Carry-On acting vacuum Bernard Bresslaw as a giant facing off against Hollywood Titan Jack Palance who’s chewing up the scenery with the go-to villian name of ‘Voltan’. This is another tale of a man who has seen his parents killed and then is on a revenge trip against some nut job laying waste to all before him….. guess who prevails? shock….

Similarly ‘Krull’ is filled with an array of actors better than the shite it is. Alun Armstrong, Freddie Jones, Robbie Coltrane and Liam Neeson all form part of Ken Marshall’s (who the fuck?) merry band of men on a mission save a Princess played by the completely 80’s Lysette Anthony complete with massive Jon Bon Jovi barnet. Anthony went on to make low level ‘Electric Blue’ porn for Americans with lots of open mouthed gasps and thrashing heads and is occasionally seen now playing various grades of Essex Gangsters Molls in direct to DVD british Crime thrillers starring Danny Dyer and that Cockney Turkish lump whose name always evades me. The greatest thing in ‘Krull’ other that the boomerang weapon is the second fantasy appearance of Carry-On acting vaccum Bernard Bresslaw this time as a Cerebral Cyclops. The prostehtic head used was shockingly shit that was as they just seemed to give him a masssoooove forehead to accomodate the one big unmoving eye, an eye that delivered the greatest performance in the film.

Slim pickings indeed. Fantasy was in the bin until ‘Excalibur’ rocked up like an Iron Maiden album and tour in a bland period of Kraut metal. The difference with ‘Excalibur’ was that it mostly used gritty physical effects and it added some controversial sex scenes with Nescafe Coffee ad MILF Cherie Lunghi getting boffed in the woods by a now long dead TV actor. It also had Helen Mirren oozing slag sex appeal while dressed in black and Liam Neeson (again) as another rent-a-oaf killer. ‘Excalibur’ has some good deaths and some saucy moments making it the kind or VHS that all 12 year old boys need to get their hands on. ‘Excalibur’ attempted to bring the fantasy genre to the attention of adults. It didn’t. It failed but it became a cult classic and the next thing you know we are back to puppets courtesy of Jim Henson.

‘The Dark Crystal’ was physical effects heavy but made easier by using puppets instead of actual actors. All physical effects are limited and so you lose the majesty of a dragon or a giant if you use a puppet or big bloke walking around a miniature village. The worst parts of ‘The Dark Crystal’ (and there are a lot in hindsight) are the puppets. Clearly this is a fundemental problem in a fantasy epic where the main characters are speaking puppets whose lips don’t move when they speak and you never see any feet unless you get a close up which was reminicent of the the old hand shots in ‘Thunderbirds’. They also walked in that classic puppet way of bouncing up and down, proper Captain Pugwash turnout. The villians of this piece were tall long necked bird-like creatures in scratchy clothes. Looking back now they have something of the Theresa May’s about them, wizen, emotionless, power crazy but oddly more attractive and with more personality.

‘The Dark Crystal’ was essentially a kids film even though it had a few scary moments but they weren’t enough for a devotee of the genre. Fantasy in print was filled with decapitation, death, gore and amazonian women in a state of both constant peril and even more constent undress. This is what made it great when you were a kid as it was accessable violence and erotica overlooked by adults. No one took it seriously until the Austrian Oak rocked up in a pair of fur pants and no acting ability.

In 1982 and 1984 Arnold Schwarzenegger thrust his ‘walnuts in a pair of tights’ body into our faces as Conan in two efforts imaginatively entitled ‘…the Barbarian’ and ‘….the Destroyer’. These two films were sandwiched between the previously mentioned ‘Dark Crystal’ and another Muppet driven Henson effort in the form of ‘Labyrinth’ where David Bowie ponced about in an 80’s metal wig as the Goblin King while not being questioned as to why he didn’t look like the other Goblins in the film.

The Conan films were a big step forward if you took the genre seriously as I did when I was 14. They were dark and bloody and ticked all the boxes previously mentioned. Arnie was particularly brilliant in the ‘Barbarian’ as he played it, as he should have done, like a barbarian killing machine. If it moved he either pummelled it or fucked it, he spoke little and acted swiftly with extreme prejudice, most things were battered and slashed and rightly so. It was also written by Hollywood bad boys John Millius and Oliver Stone which gave it a certain amount of Hollywood gravitas which hadn’t really existed in the genre before.

‘Barbarian’ had the normal story of a lunatic despot from the heroes past attempting to take over and/or kill innocent women/princesses. Standard fayre on paper but delivered with the right amount of class given the lack of special effects in the 80’s and included James Earl Jones as the shape shifting bad guy, although in he looked more like Gene Simmons from Kiss sans make-up when in mid transformation.

‘Barbarian’ is a classic of its time and has some iconic moments including the famous ‘Crush your enemies’ quote. Proper Stuff unlike the sequel two years later made at the same time that Arnie had gone global as ‘The Terminator’ when he seemingly had more power and so demanded more lines for the Barbarian. The extra lines for Arnie in that Conan film ruin it. Conan is supposed to be a controlled savage and not really a comedian or intellectual.

‘Destroyer’ is really only noticable for a fight with Pat ‘Bomber’ Roach in a room of mirrors, French screaming nutjob Grace Jones weilding a spear while wearing a jockstrap-cum-G String and the worst final monster in the history of film as it’s clearly a bloke in a rubber suit and no attempt to portyay anything else was made. Appalling shite that even peak Arnie can’t save. It effectively killed off any more Conan films (there was a TV series) until Jason Mamoa returned as the Cimmerian in 2011. Funnily enough Mamoa is much more of a Conan than Arnie as he’s a more agile size but they fucked that film up with a poor rehash of the original story so it’s best we move on.

As I said earlier after a brief sorjorn into adult level fantasy with Conan the studios returned to puppet based trash in the form of ‘Labyrinth’ with Bowie having a wale of a time in the company Jennifer Garner and a series of fuckery mainly with no legs. ‘Labyrinth’ was really just a vehicle for Bowie to have a bit of fun, it’s just froth much like ‘The Neverending Story’ noticable only for its theme tune by one time popstar and Gambuccini slop bucket Limahl. This was all trash fantasy and placed the genre back in the dark ages it usually represented. By the time we reached Ridley Scott’s ‘Legend’ with a young Tom Cruise (with his birth teeth) phaffing about against a magnificent looking Tim Curry as The Lord of Darkness the whole thing was over and we were merely left with tripe like ‘Willow’ starring talentless ‘dwarf’ (apparently I can say this) and quilt invading recurring nightmare Warwick Davis as the dimiutive ‘never saw that coming’ hero. After this we were really in ‘direct to DVD’ limbo with fantasy unless you liked granite chinned Lucy Lawless as a Warrior called ‘Xena’ and a classic 80’s coiffered faux german metal singer Kevin Sorbo as Hercules. Funnily enough these two series paved the way for what was to become the apex of the genre as a little known firm called WETA did all the SFX for these two TV catastrophe’s.

In the late 1990’s it was announced that there was to be a live action version of ‘The Lord of the Rings’. A cartoon version was made but that ran out of money a book and a half in and although it was quite good it didn’t satisfy given the majesty of the source material.

Now to most people to whom sex was not an alien concept the prospect of a LOTR’s film meant little, but to us the fantasy geeks, this was about as big as it gets. LOTR’s is pretty much the dictionary description of ‘fantasy’ as it has the lot. All the cliches are evident from troubled heroes, pretty elves, grumpy dwarves (not dwarfs, Tolkein came up with ‘Dwarves’ plural), orcs, goblins, wizards… it’s basically a fantasy tick list if you were going to dabble in such a genre and all down to the amazing imagination of Tolkein and his quest to create a British mythology.

The man given the task to film this epic was Peter Jackson and most people were happy with this as we’d all seen ‘The Frighteners’ and ‘Heavenly Creatures’ and so we knew given the money he would deliver the goods.

The initial footage released was spectacular. It was as if the book had literally leapt off the page by way of magic but it wasn’t to all be fantastic. The problem with the film series is that much like the books they deteriorate with every new one as I said before. The later books suffer from ‘up its own arse’ prose and the films are killed by special effect overload in the later films. The first book and film remain the best with the story remaining almost pure with a minimum of poncitude (the books) and over the top unnecassary visuals (the films).

‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ made such a cinematic impact that even people not into fantasy liked it. It also had the greatest scenes amongst the three films with the Mines of Moria battle with the Balrog being the standout. It was so perfect it can be viewed mutiple times and you still get sucked in even if you do spot the poor piece of sped up special effects of the fleeing Fellowship. Then there was the death of Boromir which can never been forgotten mainly because of the lamest line ever to come out of professional northern and mostly killed Sean Bean’s mouth namely ‘They took the little ones!!’ which still makes me wince and want to smash the living room up. That being said his death is a perfect example of what the book was about being majestically placed on celluloid. You can hear and feel every thump as the arrows hit Bean and sense the dread from the Hobbits when they know they are captured. It is brilliantly done and bar the addition of the best fight in the film (Aragorn versus some massive Urak-Hai resulting in a tremendous beheading) it is almost as the book laid it out.

The reason ‘Fellowship’ is the best film is down to money and the lack of. All three films were shot with the actors in one shoot but a lot of the special effects were added later. As with all studios a proportion of the budget was held back just in case the first film bombed. When it didn’t they added more money and this meant that Jackson could add more special effects to ‘The Two Towers’ and subsequently ‘The Return of the King’ and in the process he effectively ruined them. Only subsequent viewings reveal this because at the time they were generally considered to be masterpieces but the reality is that the first one is pretty much perfect and the other two are OTT cartoons with only really ‘The Battle of Helms Deep’ and the appereance of Gollum cutting the mustard. These two films are brilliantly technical rather than just brilliant.

Now no one likes a smartarse less than me but I feel I can completely diss the LOTR’s as a book and film combo mainly because I’ve done the hard yards. I’ve watched it enough times in all formats including the absolutely soul destroying extended versions, listened to all three commentaries at least twice and read a recent tome about the making of it which included a wet fingered Hary Weinstein insisting a Hobbit was killed ( “Fuck Tolkein”) and the great story of Viggo Mortensson meeting Orlando Bloom for lunch in a burger bar in New Zealand where he turned up in full Aragorn garb complete with the sword which got its own seat at the table.

The other well known story about the making of the film is that Sean Connery was actively sought to play Gandalf and was offered a percentage of the gross later calculated to have worked out at $150m. Connery declined the offer claiming he ‘didn’t understand it’…. bit odd given he’d made ‘Zardoz’ where he wore a nappy and your classic ‘cum-catcher’ tache in a film that nobody understood or wanted. No Matter, McKellen stepped up and became the definitive Gandalf and we weren’t subjected to Connery talking about ‘Shauron’, ‘Sharuman’, ‘ Helmsh Deep’….. Imagine the battle with the Balrog:

‘…I am the shervant of the shacred fires, Go back to the shadowsh….. YOU SHALL NOT PASSH!!!!…. Fly you Foolsh!!!….’

To the film’s credit it is the rare beast in Hollywood as it’s a set of films that cannot be remade as it was too good initially and so any attempt to replicate it would be futile. A bit like ‘Gone with the Wind’, ‘A Matter of Life and Death’ and to a lesser degree ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day off’.

No remake then, thank God, but like everything in life where there’s money Amazon have snuffled up the rights and are making a $1bn TV show surrounding Aragorn in the Stryder years the exact thing that was supposed to be a mystery within the books… Bezos will fuck this right up as no one needs it.

So that was me done with fantasy. Nothing could beat that and I threw myself into a more realistic efforts like ‘The Wire’ and ‘The Sopranos’ and even the high comedy of ‘Breaking Bad’ where I just wished everyone would die horribly. I deliberately ignored the ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of the Deathly Hallows’ gazilliology and its American counterpart ‘Percy Jackson’s and the lost Valley of Something Something’, both of these franchises are child friendly guff no matter how ‘scary’ you keep being told the latter films are. These are basically ‘jolly hockeysticks’ romps with the odd troll and fantastical animal chucked in for good measure….rubbish…

Equally bad was the charisma free ‘The Golden Compass’ with a star studded cast including monkey-man Daniel Craig, the once lovely but now a bit creepy Nicole Kidman and Eva Green who I always think looks like she needs a good bath and a hefty dinner. This ludicrous effort from the pompous pen of Philip Pullman ooze a religous undercurrent planting it firmly in the ‘young adult’ tosspot category and couldn’t be saved even with the addition of a fight between two armoured up polar bears where one has it’s jaw punched off.

Fantasy was deader than Sauron’s exploding eyeball…. but wait…

‘Just when I thought I was out, they drag me back in’

…. the wise words of Al Pacino as Michael Corleone in Godfather III (better than the reviews) moments before weapons grade overacting as he has a heart attack in the kitchen. This is a shockingly acted shouty scene which made me laugh aloud as Pacino goes all Charlie ‘Donkey!’ Chuck with the random words and the chest clutching. It is truly amazing how the worlds greatest living male actors can over step the mark so often when female leads get the balance right…. Frances McDormand being the finest exponant of it with barely a duff performance.

A three film version of ‘The Hobbit’ suddenly spewed out like humback chunder all over the deck of a Japanese whaling boat. A 300 page book made into a 9 hour trilogy…. Why? Why would they do this….? Obviously the answer was money, big sweaty bunches of cash in easy-to-carry bags. It was the dead cert, the moneyball, the big Kahuna…. it could not fail financially and it didn’t.

The biggest problem with ‘The Hobbit’ film is that it is a kids book and shouldn’t really translate to a massive audience. Initially I was excited as Guillermo Del Toro a visual magician of dark cinema was due to direct it. He didn’t though, Jackson reluctantly did and so it suffered from the ‘Return of the King’ syndrome of too much budget and as we all know you never give unused budget back you just get rid of it on things you don’t need or didn’t think you could do. ‘The Hobbit’ therefore became death by SFX right up to making Orlando Bloom a younger version of an ageless Elf which seems utterly pointless.

The cast did their bit when they had to but they looked nothing like the book in reality. The Dwarves were all kooky with odd beards, ticks and wanky haircuts when they were in fact simply Dwarfs in the classic ‘Snow White’ way, miserable miners with height complexes and the arsehole over a dragon. Simple.

Martin Freeman was drafted in to play Bilbo and that seemed inspired until he did what he does by way of side glances and half sentences and you feel the need to reach into the screen to give him a shake and a slap. The bloke playing Thorin simply got on my tits with the pomposity and I was glad when he died, I really was as I was fucking sick of the moaning. But the clincher was the arrival of Billy Connolly, Barry Humphries and Stephen Fry confirming that we were in celebrity tick list teritory much like ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Jub’. If you were a thespian and weren’t in it then your career was pretty much over.

By film three the title character is almost irrelevant as we are drowned in poor special effects and overblown unnecessary battle scenes. If you look closely you will see that even Jackson was bored with it as the Elf army is just the same character copied and pasted into place as opposed to LOTR’s where almost every CGI Orc had a personality of its own. The greatest scene in any of the three films of ‘The Hobbit’ is the one that the uninitiated complain about, namely the Dwarves arriving at Bag End to meet Bilbo and have dinner. This is as close to the book as the film gets, it’s a pure scene devoid of the spectacular but fantastically shot and fundemental to the main character and everything the film stands for. More of the film should have been like this.

I saw all three ‘Hobbits’ at the cinema and was thoroughly dissapointed however when I rewatched them on the small screen they came cross better as you can actually see what is going on. I warmed to it without really treating it with the reverence I hold the book in so overall a mediocre piece of eye candy.

Bizarrely my opinion in the global market of film is pretty much negligible and so we found ourselves slap bang in the grip of Fantasy once more. Dwarism was big business (see what I did there?) all of a sudden and so Sky snaffled up the rights to some mad hippy’s story of fueding families, dragons, an army of the dead, fire and ice. ‘Game of Thrones’ was upon us.

I refused to watch GOT’s for five years. I’d had enough. I was sick of all the fantasy cobblers and a British Dwarf actor haunted me in my dreams. I resisted even though I was constantly being told it was magnificent. I wasn’t having it. I was done with fantasy. I was finally an adult. I had slept with numerous women in reality….y’know… real life..

Then one afternoon in 2016 I thought I’d give it a go. I’m like that, bit random…prone to extreme switches on a whim. I was convinced it would be utter bollocks but I was at a loose end and I was keen to see Sean Bean die horribly once more. Next thing I know and I’m four episodes in and clearly I’m a ‘Stark’.

GOT’s isnt like traditional fantasy but its basically all the fantasy we ever wanted. Admittedly it is filled with massive CGI and SFX but its strength is t good source material and even better acting. It doesn’t have Tolkeinesque flowery dialogue ramping up the poncitude, it uses basic anglo Saxon more generally used in pubs up and down the country. It is gritty, funny, spectacular and more realistic than ‘Line of Duty’ which is also set in a brutal environment of snide and violence namely London. Within 5 weeks I had watched six series of it in preparation of watching the seventh ‘live’ as it were. I was instantly hooked by GOT’s because it was proper adult fantasy which incorporated all the fantasy staples (Gore, Erotica, heroes, dragons, dwarfs) required in the mind of 50 going on 13 year old fantasy geek.

The big drawer of GOT’s first series was the inclusion of the bizarrely popular Sean Bean. As Bean had played ‘Boromir’ in LOTR’s fantasy freaks were expecting something similar but instead we got the standard Sean as tortured Northerner wrestling with his own failings while oozing the hardness of a ‘brew’ strong enough to stand a spoon up in it…..basically ‘something similar’.

The money shot of the first series wasn’t the sight of a young boy being crippled after being pushed out of a tower by some bloke he catches hanging out the back of his own sister but the inevitable death of Bean who is decapitated on the orders of possible the most evil fucker in the entire programme. As we know Bean always dies in films, it must be a contractual obligation, but this one was particularly tense as you just assumed it wasn’t going to happen given the low level acting credentials of the rest of the cast including Mark’ fat bloke in The Full Monty’ Addy who did a booming impression of Brian Blessed. The beheading of Bean was the visual heroin you needed to kick start the obsession which resulted in me watching the next 70 hours of it in rapid time.

The genius of GOT’s can be summed up in one character. Tyrion Lannister played by Peter Dinklage.

If I had to pick the greatest TV character in the history of television it would be Tyrion and Dinklage was absolutely superb in the role. Every line was delivered to perfection, every look he gave was majestic and every movement was sublime. Without Dinklage as Tyrion GOT’s might have failed. Of course there were other brilliant performances within it. Charles Dance was suitably evil, Jonathan Pryce suitably scraggy, Jerome Flynn was the perfect partner in crime to Dinklage and watching the younger cast members grow in their roles was a joy and even Bean was solid but the peformance by Dinklage was worthy of any award you can think of. It is an acting masterclass where every second he is on screen is gold and every minute he isn’t you wish he was. Truly remarkable.

From a pure fantasy perspective GOT’s was delivering the goods on a weekly basis. The spectacular was common whether it be huge bloody battles where survival was impossibly possible (‘Battle of the Bastards’, ‘The Frozen lake’, ‘Hardhome’, ‘The Long night’ where the death of The Night King will stay with me for a long, long time…. it was magnificent, spectacular TV), Dragon attacks, (Kings Landing, Slavers Bay) horrific murder and toture (‘The Red Wedding’, ‘The Montain and the Viper’ which remains the single most horrific scene I have ever witnessed on film, ‘The death of Little Finger’ and the castration of Theon) it had the lot and was delivering a TV experience greater than most Hollywood blockbusters for seven and a half series.

….and that was the issue….

The eighth and final series (not season…fuck that) of GOT’s was heralded as the second coming before its release. The makers were pulling out all the stops and promised the Mother of Dragons of all endings in six feature length episodes as opposed to the 10 one hour episodes of the seven previous series. This sounded great as it would provide the viewer with a weekly cinematic experience whether we actually wanted that or not, the problem was that not much of it was any good.

The eighth series started slowly. It set the scene perfectly for a conclusion but not really the conclusion we were looking for. The peak of the last series was the third episode (‘The Long Night’) which was effectivley a 90 minute battle scene where the Army of the Dead led by The Night King attacked Winterfell but even that missed a trick as it should have been the conclusion to the entire story. The death of the Night King was superbly done but it really should have been the end and if there was a criticism it would be that it was slightly rushed and left you thinking ‘What was the point of the Army of the dead?’ as it really acheived nothing and didn’t seem to have any plan. The dead eh? fucking clueless….wasting my time….

After this series high it all went to ratshit. Clearly the writers got bored and had enough and so they simply wrapped it all up with poor editing and a stupid storyline which killed character arc’s off brutally. Daenerys ‘The breaker of chains’ Targaryen went from saviour to slaughterer in seconds because her mate was killed and the highly anticipated battle between The Mountain and the Hound was just dull. Next thing we know Jon Snow, the dullest individual in the whole programme due to a moral stance at odds with everyone else in the entire show, is exiled and the voyeur kid in the wheelchair is King. Total cobblers. They even left it on a LOTR’s happily ever after final scene…. wankers…

Now I’ve been disapointed before (Christmas 1982 when the Scalextric burnt out before Boxing day and a failed proposal in a candlelight ‘Basillica of the holy blood’ in Bruges (gawd that was a frosty weekend) stick in the hippocampus) but this was the most disapointed I’ve been since I was handed what was described as the ‘Greatest Burger in North London’ in The Angel Inn in Highgate only to find that it was a chargrilled mess in a sweet brioche bun with Bacon Jam. After two bites of that car crash I was forced to take a robust stance through the medium of weapons grade swearing with the barman who sold me it. My tirade resulted in him leaning on the bar with his head in his hands repeatedly saying ‘I don’t believe it… I don’t believe it…how could he not like it..’? How can you royally fuck up meat and bread and the most successful TV show in history unless it’s a deliberate act of rebellion or just a flippant disregard for the paying punter?

And so weeks of commitment by me (years for others) was fucked in a final 2 hours of wank conclusions from two writers who had another project lined up that they needed to start and who wouldn’t wait from the creator to finish the books so made up the end. Even the creator of the entire thing stated that he’d have ended it differently…..Scum…. Subhuman scum. I toyed with reading the books simply to see what else was ruined by the two septic ‘showrunners’ who destroyed it but quickly came to the conclusion that I’m not sure I actually have the heartbeats or the will left which would enable me to complete them.

And so once more fantasy was dead to me. I’m finished with it, it’s costume drama all the way for me from now on… if it doesn’t involve some form of pantaloon or smoking jacket I’m not interested, if Hugh Bonneville isn’t in it looking distressed as ‘war is imminent’ then it can go fuck itself. If I see one more dwarf actor other than Dinklage talking about ‘smoting ruin atop a mountain’ then I might lose it. Stay in my nightmares Warwick Davis….stay there and crawl up my naked, sweating body with your massive, flapping, probing hands but do not invade a cinema near me again….

….Dead….

Oh…one last thing. The greatest fantasy film ever made is ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’…. I’m not explaining it, just watch it… if you can’t be arsed then I can’t help you…

Onwards to Welsh Wales…. More crud soon…

…Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth…

Sitting in the Dschungel
On Nürnberger Straße
A man lost in time
Near KaDeWe
Just walking the dead
It’s always up its own arse to start a blog/rant with a quote or lyric of no relevance from some other fucker as it pretends to set out a direction for the point you are about to make.

The above is a lyric from Bowie’s ‘Where are we now?‘ and represents the most coherent verse in the entire track. Basically it is a load of bollocks but as it’s Bowie we care little and I wanted to remind you of something great before we started. Anyway, Bowie has form on the ‘talking bollocks’ front, I mean it’s not like we weren’t warned:

‘It’s on America’s tortured brow, That Mickey Mouse has grown up a cow,
Now the workers have struck for fame
‘Cause Lennon’s on sale again
See the mice in their million hordes
From Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads
Rule Britannia is out of bounds
To my mother, my dog, and clowns

Brilliant…. ‘funk to funky’ as Dave would say, a genius at work even if he is simply chucking up any kind of old toss for us to consume… a special kind of genius…

Anyway, Where are we now? as the Thin White Duke previously asked. We are nowhere and staring into an abyss of nothing led by a group of incompetent individuals, backed up by a group who just don’t care or only care about their own doctrine… ‘Rule Britannia’ indeed Mr Jones.

This blog is about the state of the nation and before I go full rant I will concede that all of this has been said and heard before (mostly and more brilliantly by Marina Hyde, although recently I’ve deliberately not read her) and better than I will lay it out however this is my view. I don’t expect you to love it or particularly loathe it and I don’t expect it to be wholly accurate so spare me the corrections if you see anything might inaccurate…. it is a humorous, caustic version of what I think. I’m not interested in ‘but what Jeremy is trying to achieve.. ‘or ‘it will all be ok in the end..’ or ‘we need to take back control’. If you want that or feel the need to say it, write your own blog… this is simply me emptying my head over your upturned faces and cackling as you wipe it off.

The only place to start is at the top. The Government.

It is hard to imagine an organisation as inept as the current Conservative party, in fact it has been quite an achievement to assemble a group of such inept individuals that someone needs applauding. The balance of probabilities dictates that you’d get a couple of half decent individuals but no…. this is the anti chaos theory mixed with utter cuntery, it is a huge massive ball of hate and arrogance injected with the DNA of a pit bull with an elastic band around the todger reeking of piss, lavender and cheap biscuits. As a group they have nothing to offer.

In a previous blog I explained that due to my parents and their horrific conservative middle England right wing attitudes I err on the side of the Labour party. But even that John Major type Tory party of my early voting years seems acceptable over this shower. Major now appears to be a political Titan, a statesman with an understanding of what might need to be done. Similarly the much derided Hestletine seems to worry more about the yoot of today than the actual people in charge and their opposite numbers.

So in their place what have we got?

The higher echelons of this Tory rabble fall into two camps:

1. Total Wankers

2. Proper Wankers.

At one end of the scale we have the Hammonds and the Javids who claim to be normal and down to earth.

Hammond has a loose history of being a moody Goth at Uni possibly because he wore a black leather jacket up the pub one night, listened to a Mission album in error and let his hair brush his collar.

Javid is the son of a Lancastrian bus driver. This is it by the way, this is peak Tory ‘edge’….. this is Tory ‘real’.

Both men are biege of personality with Hammond being a particularly dull fucker with nothing of note to offer other than the now standard Tory ‘punch my face in’ smirk owned by David Davis.

Javid has potential as a future leader but it will almost certainly be a failed attempt in a ‘no chance’ election but will give the Tories a dip into diversity which they sorely need and will cynically exploit before reverting to some kind of well buggered old Etonian who suckled at the year of ‘nana’ till he was 32.

Javid also has that ‘talking about himself in the third person’ lunacy about him which all future leaders need almost as if they are watching themselves from an elevated position such is the majesty of their leadership…

Also cramned into this end of the Tory spectrum is roly poly pseudo hard nut Mark ‘Gino’ Francois. This squinty eyed little plum is a half Italian ex territorial Army irritant and like Farage has a non British name far removed from his barely hidden racism. He’s been getting a lot TV lately which is a good thing as we all miss characters from the mind of Paul Whitehouse and Charlie Grigson.

Francois talks the talk because he thinks he should but in reality he oozes bitter little bloke living alone in shabby damp bedsit eating beans from a tin while looking forward to his evening wank into some parliamentary headed paper with a tin of Stella primed on a rickety stool.

If we didn’t have a scenario like Brexit no one would know him. He is only on the TV as he has a 25,000 majority in a pro Brexit area of Essex and so the BBC in its quest for ‘balance’ dig him out for some World War II based analogies reminding the nation that ‘us Brits’ won’t be told what to do by some ‘garlic eating surrender monkeys’ or, by the chuff of St George, ‘Fritz’.

Francois’s recent face-off with that horse faced ponce Will Self on some two bob afternoon political magazine programme was wholly embarrassing but bizarrely gave him a position of strength in the eyes his electorate. ‘He ain’t taking it’ was the cry when in reality he was simply dragging out the old Politician trick of ignoring the question and crowbarring in whatever old shit he wanted to be heard. More surprising was that Self, a megamind intellect in his own elongated head seemed thrown by it and resorted to a playground stare-out which in the international language of imminent violence is about as convincing as ‘hold me back…I’ll fuckin’ do him!!!’. Basically it means nish…. no one is getting hurt…ever.

We’ve all met a Francois. He is ‘I’m not being racist but….’ three pints of bitter and a carvery esturay filth. They used to be relatively rare but like the odd random Jackel around the feeding lions eventually they mass, grow some bollocks in groups and burst forth to feed on the lesser cuts. When this Brexit catastrofuck is over Francois will roll back under his rock never to be heard of again… which is good but also highlights the madness we are currently in.

Then we have the proper Fuckers. The public school boy Tories….. the elites, the ones we truly hate…

We could start with the leader but that would be easy so let’s start with the lower level cuntery and straight off Sir Geoffrey Cox, the Attorney General.

Cox embodies almost everything hateful in the Tory party. A big loud boorish prick with a booming stentorian voice and a massive sense of self entitlement who was clearly told early he was ‘Born to Lead’ but is ultimately doomed to be killed by his own troops in a wet trench with a rusty bayonet at the hand of a simple Tommy called ‘Arbuthnot’ from a small hamlet near Blackburn.

Whenever I see this bloke I want to smash up my own house and when I hear him I feel an overpowering urge to break into my neighbours house to smash that up as well. Cox has decided to project himself as Gandalf the Grey on the bridge of Khazad Dum ordering the Balrog that it ‘shall not pass!!’. He is weirdly reminiscent of the thespian postman in 80’s classic alt comedy ‘The Young Ones’ booming out commands so even those at the back of the circle can hear him without the aid of a microphone.

Cox is that man you meet at a party who, upon finding out your name makes a point of calling you it endlessly in an act of gross over familiarity. You suffer this as you know parties end and the next time you meet he will neither remember you, your name or where you previously met.

As Attorney General Cox appears to be the bloke tasked with making our exit from the EU legally watertight (which he won’t do) but as I said earlier he is doomed to failure due to the whole Brexit process being pretty much unacheivable but he’ll take his moment in the spotlight and all he’ll really achieve is leaving his many minions with tattered eardrums.

The real poncitude of the Tory Party lies in the form of the European Research Group (ERG) which is a group of faceless public schoolboys of a certain age dressed in heavy tweed led by the previously perfectly named Minister for the 18th Century and Haunted Oxfam shop Jacob Rees-Mogg with the assistance of ‘bit of rough’ Francois.

The Mogg is fuckin’ minted but seems incapable of purchasing a suit which either fits him or is in any way fashionable. I can only assume that these volumous rags are leftovers from his father’s wardrobe and worn as tribute just like Saville and the Duchesses polyester shrouds he kept pristine…

Our first visual experience of the ERG was during a press conference after lame duck Prime Minister May delivered her withdrawal agreement. What we got was a long table of old men sitting in a line in varying stages of decreptitude with Rees-Mogg as the spokesman. Imagine that…..Jacob as the face of anything other dishing out thrashings to unkept chimney sweeps or ignorant knife grinders…

If you lined them up and presented them as the cabinet or the face of the nation revolution would surely become a viable option.

The same could be said of a line up of David Davis, Ian Duncan-Smith, Liam Fox, Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage, Dominic Raab, Esther McVey and Common room fop and tuck shop assistant Michael Gove.

This mob are the comic relief normally, the team captain foil in a million episodes of ‘Have I got news for you’. If this shower was presented as the individuals to dig us out of a national disaster at any other time then even the thickest of the thick would start to panic. but at this time the ‘will of the people’ decided that they were more trustworthy than captains of industry, economists and experts.

There is nothing remotely statesman like about any of them….they are all fantasists blindly stumbling around yapping like lonely dogs hoping that they we can reinstigate steam ships for another crack at shouting at Johnny Foreigner and taking all their shit in the name of ‘Empire’ to make us great again. They are all ‘fur coat and no knickers’ as my mum would say…. bluffers…. piss takers… charlatans..

Take Esther Mcvey as an example. A former failed TV personality presenting conservative religious programmes before being called to parliament and living with a fellow parliamentarian ‘Fuck buddy’ in a publicly funded Pimlico safe house.

Once entrenched in politics she attempted to bring glamour to the house with some Jennifer Aniston type haircuts and RuPaul heels and a walk like she was in a slow motion Loreal ad.

This is all great but the main issue is that she is pretty thick and ill informed. The amount of basic errors about policy and her general lack of understanding of politics is staggering. I’ve heard her interviewed on a number of occasions and she’s mostly been destroyed on things you would basically expect her to easily answer. She battles on in the classic politicians way of basically talking about anything other than the question in a polite regional accent but is a millisecond away from the mask slipping before launching into a Scouse diatribe of bile and hate followed by robbing your house and eating out of your bin.

And so we come to the top of the tree. The supreme leader at the head of the table at this ‘Cunts Banquet’, the awkwardly awkward, elongated sloth gaited, personality vacuum that is Theresa May.

May. Mother Theresa. Maggie May, barren, empathy free, devoid of humour, unlived, field marauder, pale of face, borderline racist, lover of heels, daughter of a vicar, Trump bannister, destroyer of Police and self proclaimed ‘bloody difficult woman’.

She’s right. She’s a difficult watch, a difficult listen and probably emits a difficult odour…. most likely cheap perfume like ‘Tweed’ or something lavender based with a squirt pump and a bow.

She walks like a person recovering from having two displaced hips, its almost mechanicalas if there is a couple of gremlins within driving her forward. She is the AT-AT walker from ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ lumbering on to certain doom through its own inability to move quicker. She makes bolshy prop forward Amber Rudd seem graceful of movement but on the upside Mrs May would be infinitely more useful at reaching any top shelf with her telescopic limbs so it’s not all bad.

Then there’s the voice, and the hair, and the laugh and basically the lot. She is the human embodiment of the Python sketch ‘How not to be seen’. One of my gauges of how I assess a person is would I want them to cook me an egg? I would neither want her to, see her do it or good forbid see her eat one. The egg is the benchmark… no egg, no trust babe…

On a more serious note she has almost single handedly destroyed this country through her own stubbornness and sense of duty that only she sees. She has isolated herself with her own inflexible approach to everything put before her. As home Secretary she dismantled the police and continues to do so as PM. She is responsible through these actions for the rise of knife crime and you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to work out the correlation between less law enforcers and rising crime, its staring you in the face. But like this and Brexit she ignores facts as she is convinced she’s right and everyone else is wrong.

She was brilliantly described recently by Matthew Parris as a ‘political Death Star’ and ‘ the human embodiment of a closed door’. Outstanding stuff but with her Brexit position I see her as Don Logan from ‘Sexybeast’ particularly with her complete intransigence to anything other than the course of action taken. ‘No, No, no, no, no, no…..’. She should say to parliament ‘your just going to have to turn this opportunity yes’.

This is were the Tories are, run by a sociapath who thinks scraping mould off old jam is a thing we would be willing to do because she is prepared to for a soundbite. Well, I’m not prepared to do that. Mouldy jam goes in the bin you delusional nut job…

Moving on we have the ‘opposition’….with a glaring lower case ‘o’.

When it comes to opposition Labour are currently Spurs in the 2000’s when they were trying to deal with the Arsenal. They are Gary Docherty and Chris Armstrong against Sol Campbell and Martin Keown….. nothing is happening and the general public ain’t believing it ever is…

As I said earlier I vote Labour. This may appear shocking to some of you given my job and general abrasive personality but it’s true. The problem I have is the hijacking of a party by some radical extremists, funnily enough mirroring the Conservative party.

Labour have become so much of an unelectable joke that the public, even a public of this stupidity in general, see them as irrelevant. As of last week Labour were 10 points behind the most inept group of people to ever have power….imagine that.. the Tories are a car crash wrapped up in a clusterfuck and are still wiping the floor with Jezza and co based on trust. ‘Trust’…the public trust the Tories more than Labour. It’s almost incomprehensible. There is more trust in disaster capitalists and public schoolboys who never look further than their own breed than there is in a one trick pony like the current Labour party…. the one trick being to demand or wait out for an election even though no one has the appetite for it and they probably won’t win it with the current ‘leader’.

As with the Tories the problem is most likely the personnel, so let’s have a look.

I could start with Comrade Corbyn but that would be easy and predictable so I’ll briefly touch on a few others within this rabble.

It would be be easy to pile in on Diane Abbott, I mean Corbyn did back in the day, but it would also be unfair. I believe Abbot is simply out of her depth to a massive degree. She is pretty stupid and it can’t have gone unnoticed that she isn’t exactly front and centre when it comes to one of the high profile positions in a shadow cabinet. Even the Labour hierarchy have realised that less isn’t more, less is necessary… it’s simply easier.

She can’t even hide her stupidity through bluff and bluster like a Tory. She delivers at the despatch box and in interview as if someone is communicating with her via an earpiece which creates a slight delay and provides a stocatto deliver to questions. This may sound unbelievable but nothing is unbelievable anymore, everything is possible.

I won’t really tear into Abbott because I feel there is something not really quite right. I see nothing worthy of a 35,000 majority (which is more votes than Farage has obtained in seven failed attempts to win a seat) but clearly her constituents do so fair play to her but would you really want her to be Home Secretary? Does anyone really think she could handle a job of such importance? I doubt it.

For every Tory Cock, sorry ‘Cox’ there is an equally booming pompous arse in Labour and there is none better then Emily Thornberry.

The daughter of a UN and NATO diplomat she spent 20 years as a barrister and is currently living and working in Islington… by the way I’m still talking about a Labour MP here in case you thought I’d moved on to the ‘elite’.

Like most barristers she is big of mouth and arrogance but short on common sense. I’ve been in the company of many a Thornberry both professionally and socially and they could all do with a shake. From a professional perspective they swan in like they own the place and dish out the commands while forgetting that the ‘hard yards’ have been carried by the real grafters who put them in the room in the first place.

My first real exposure to Thornberry and her huge self importance was when she was the mouthpiece after a ‘victory’ that was a defeat. Since then she has bellowed in the house, pointed a lot across the dispatch box and generally acted like the pissed posh girlfriend of the University rugby skipper who can sink 15 pints and has a penchant for that rowing boat drinking game the egg chasers love or a game of beer pong before accommodating the rest of the team for ‘a bit of a laugh’.

She’s a blunt old instrument, a sort of posh totty ‘strongarm enforcer’ ensuring the Comrade sticks to the plan. We could probably end this whole Brexit shambles with a televised bondaged bear pit brawl between her and Francois where the winner decides the fate for the nation. I’m certain she would emerge bloodied and victorious with Francois chucked in a corner, his face a rouge mousse with his limbs snapped like twiglets moaning some shit about the army and not being ‘trained to lose’.

Another former big old unit is Tom Watson who I think it’s fair to say we all had hope for. Watson seemed to have potential but now he’s just another ineffective Labour MP who doesn’t really seem to know exactly what to do. In a time of national crisis where the opposition party seem happy to do no opposing you’d think a man of his reputation would rise to the top regardless of the so called ‘Leader’ of the party. Instead Tom has decided that Tony the Tiger on a packet of Frosties and the MacDonalds Monopoly game are his bag. This is all very noble from a former big man who was clearly ‘roomy through the hips’ but unless someone in the Labour party doesn’t actually get a grip we’ll all be eating Frosties and MacDonald as fresh produce will be scarce.

Watson seems to have the balance for me. He’s close enough to Blair to make him palatable (I recall little hate for Blair during ‘Cool Britannia’) but also to the ideals of what would be an acceptable Labour party to a mass audience. Maybe his time will come but really he should grasp it now before Labour split further and all hope is lost.

And then we come to the Stooge. The lead Comrade, the Marrow Grower, the man who always appears to be a second away from saying ‘I’ll smash your fucking face in’…. Corbyn.

I’ve always disliked this bloke and always will. ‘Old School’ they say, No one likes an old school Tory as we’ve evolved so why should he get away with it. Old school Tories have fucked this country so old school Labour would do the same.

Corbyn is a man from another age. He wants something that only a small proportion of people actually want for this country namely a socialist idyll. The reality is that most of us, from King to Pauper, want their own stuff and lots of it, everyone wants an element of ‘elite whether it’s a new TV, car, watch, bike, jacket whatever….we want the stuff. You know this anyway….it’s not a startling revelation that pure socialism didn’t work as proved by Corbyn lauded Venezuela which is now a war zone controlled by a socialist dictator clinging on to power with all the money while his people drink out of the sewer.

Regardless of all that his biggest error is his absolute apathy towards potentially the biggest crisis to hit this country since the war. He seems to care not one jot about what might happen and simply bangs on about a new election which, if he won, would undoubtedly expose his lack of any cogent plan. Just repeating ‘give me a go’ ain’t really cutting it with the public.

Bizarrely, and this may seem like an odd concept, but the role of the opposition is to oppose the Government as necessary. Corbyn doesn’t appear to be too interested in this idea and seems content to sit back and hope that a nation, historically balls deep in the right, suddenly swings massively to the left…. if this Brexit process is anything to go by the rest of the country isn’t having a cosy chat and a peppermint tea with Jezza down the allotment watching the gooseberry jam ferment, it’s moaning about ‘taking back control’ and ‘shutting our borders’ even though we are surrounded by water. Corbyn’s actions throughout this car crash have been nothing short of despicable given the part he should be playing and most remainer Labour types won’t forget it.

Finally we come to the last group of players in this tragedy… We, the people.

In my job you never trust the public even though at the most crucial time you are forced to. The public are random, skittish, prone to bollocks. They can believe nothing or everything in the delivery of a tweet. Facts are not required and sometimes decisions are made for ‘a laugh’ or a ‘change’ but once they are made they stick. That’s Democracy…… it’s overrated sometimes.

The public decided this mess, a mess given to them by one of the country’s finest ponces, they decided with a simplistic vote about a complex scenario.

The public were pissed about but a large proportion abdicated personal responsibility in actually finding out facts and instead chose personalities or personal bigotry….. not all people but a significant proportion. I say this through personal experience rather than any prejudice you think I might have. I have deliberately engaged with as many people as I can over Brexit in order to see what has made a cross section tick and it’s been quite shocking. I’ve heard everything from the mundane to the insane, I’ve heard the racist and I’ve heard the truly dim.

One of the most stupid answers I received to why someone voted to leave was that no one told him to research anything about it. I questioned how he made a decision at all without finding something out about it and was told that he basically just picked the opposite to what we had. Now this bloke is no melon, he’s a functioning individual with responsibility….just not in that moment.

I’ve also seen ardent leave voters apply for Irish Passports to give their kids ‘a chance’ even though their actions will hamper most other kids. I know of people with multiple properties abroad who voted leave to ‘take control of our borders’ while they swan across someone else’s border to collect their vast monthly rent in bespoke elite complexes in a foreign land.

Clearly I know more remainers than Brexiteers because I live in London which is Remain City Central. We fuckin love the diversity, the bureaucracy and the straight bananas as we are all minted, arrogant, unaffected and softer than an untoasted Warburton’s crumpet. But I mostly work with Leave supporters as they nearly always live in the Shires and beyond. I’ve also travelled around Britain in the last two years and the majority of people I meet are Leavers and quite solid ones at that. Because of the London Bubble you assume everyone is like you but they aren’t. There is strong support throughout England and Wales to leave and I’m not sure that has waned much in the last two and a half years.

My other belief is that demonstrations or petitions don’t work and only really add to the confusion. A million people marching is unbelievable (although the actual estimate seems to be between 312,000 to 400,000) but it’s a fraction of the people who voted to leave and as it was in the South and specifically London I’d imagine the majority of participants were most likely local to London and the South at least. I’d be interested to see what the biggest crowd outside of London protesting against Brexit is (this isn’t a test, I simply can’t be bothered to look it up).

Similarly with petitions. I think that the entire Government petitions website should be shut as it creates a sense of false hope.

The original 2nd referendum petition hit 4.2m online signatures and when it was discussed in parliament it was rebuffed with a ‘will of the people/thanks but no thanks’ response. Shock. The new Stop Article 50 petition has surpassed that with 5m signatures and it was also rebuffed with a ‘will of the people/thanks but no thanks’ response. Shock. The petitions that are effective are usually trivial.

May is immovable and Corbyn couldn’t give a fuck so collectively why would they care about a few people with the arsehole over reversing what they insist is an unfulfilled democratic vote

The other problem with petitions is they only provide one option. ‘Replay the champions league final’ that Liverpool lost last year for example got 500,000 signatures, isn’t big on options for the Manchester United fan and plays into a specific demographic much like a Brexit vote. The reality is that 5,000,000 votes, while impressive, means fuck all to anyone prepared to do anything about it. At the last general election 4,000,000 people voted for UKIP and got one MP who later decided he was independent. We all laughed over that and said ‘So what?’. It’s just a number, a number far too short of 17 odd million and so it will always be derided.

Of course the media played their part. The BBC seem adept at finding proper extremes of the voting spectrum while missing out on the ‘Charlie Farleys’ in the middle. Old people have been thrust before the cameras with what seems to be the specific remit of winding me up with comments like ‘it would be good to struggle to bond the people together’. Brilliant. I look forward to reminding my elderly neighbours of this when they are stricken with frostbite huddled around a candle eating their own rotten toes this winter. I saw an interview the other night on Sky News with some pale skinned wallflower from the Shires whose job description was ‘stockpiler’. It’s come to this….this shit.

I’m not in the game of struggling, I’ve moved on. If I think I can dish out puzzles and football socks stuffed with nuts and a tangerine at Christmas I’d better think about some form of parental protection because I’m pretty certain I could be bludgeoned to death in my sleep on Christmas night if I was to offer up such a ‘thin gruel’ (I love this expression, it’s the greatest thing that ponce Rees-Mogg has ever uttered). We should be moving forward not backwards and the chances of me coming home from work to tend to a vegetable patch are close to zero so it will be Pot Noodles and toilet water all the way.

So the people chose this path but the least you could expect was for the politicians to smoothly negotiate something worthy of all the bother……ahhhh.

All we have learnt about the capability of the shower in the chambers is that the majority are stealing a living. There has never been a real plan and even if there was you’d have no faith in anyone in a position of power delivering it.

The title of this blog is a quote from Mike Tyson at his ferocious peak…the EU have punched us in the mush and we have nothing else to offer… we have propped ourselves up as something special with all the mouth but we have no trousers to speak of.

As a remainer I think we are proper fucked and rushing headlong into ‘Mission: Certain Death’ but at least our Prime Minister stood by her guns and the leader of the opposition who is 180 degrees away from her on the protractor of ‘Bollitocks’ let her. Think how proud you will be of that while you are washing a dead rat in a puddle prior to a slow 65 hour bake over a tea light…

There appears to be no chance of flipping this. The Brexiteers have won as they grasped the reigns, winning a most likely bent vote and after nearly three years of acting all arrogant Brit in a Spanish restaurant shouting for ‘Steak and chips’ we can only hope for a poorly made ‘Patatas Bravas’ with well-done horse meat steak.

The people chose Boris, Gove, IDS, Farage, Robinson, Leadsome, Corbyn, Raab, Fox, Davis, Rees-Mogg and the Human stick insect on the Good ship ‘Sovereignty’ as we plummet over the edge of a border free flat earth eating wafer thin ham while watching mixed martial arts on a three channel TV…

Just a personal view…. as you were…

…Two, Zero, One, Eight…

“There has been too much violence, too much pain. None here are without sin. But I have an honorable compromise. Just walk away. Give me the pump, the oil, the gasoline, and the whole compound, and I’ll spare your lives. Just walk away; I will give you safe passage in the wasteland. Just walk away and there will be an end to the horror.”

Lord Humongous, Post Apocalyptic Scavenger Warlord, Mad Max 2.

Wise Words… we’ll return to this in due course…

A funny old year. Shit obviously. They are all thick with crud these days with mere flashes of good stuff, I suppose that comes with age…. the end of weddings and the start of funerals (as you can see we are off to a flyer).

2018 has been the year of the Stupid.

Now before all the Brexiteers get the hump I’m not talking about that. I’ll come on to that later. No, I’m taking proper stupid, real down in the gutter shit-ya-pants stupid. This stupid has cropped up everywhere and I’ve found it very depressing.

Now I’m no geni-arse. My education (or lack of) puts me firmly in the stupid camp…on paper. It would be fair to say I’m no rocket scientist but from what I’ve observed this year most people are fuckin’ thick because it’s easier to be stupid. When you are stupid you get away with it. You can say and do what you like because now you have a mouth due to social media and the stupid seem more likely to inflict their opinion on you whether you like it or not (I’m aware of the irony here so calm down).

This stupidity is a global disease. We all know that King Stupid controls America and he has mobilised an army of dim which get involved in everything.

I was on Twitter the other day when a tweet from my local police force brought the news of a stabbing about four miles from my house. I scrolled through the replies to this tweet to see if anyone had any other info only to find the following tweeted from an individual from California:

‘By a Muslim’

This Jub purported to be an ex soldier in the US army whose bio stated ‘Grandpa, Conservative, no longer trust FBI, DOJ or courts’. Clearly this idiot follows my local police news feed simply to spread hate. At no point in the police press release did it mention the gender, race or colour of anyone involved in the incident. Why would you be bothered enough to even comment on this stuff from another country if you didn’t want to cause hate and division?

Of course this is a small pinpoint example of the Stupid. If you want national look at our leadership (Tory or Labour) and Global, well that is a whole other story.

Trump hangs on for now…. or at least we think he hangs on. If Mueller doesn’t have something on him that will end it this could be the biggest waste of time in history. My own view is that he has him by the short and curlies but really wants to drive it home and get it right. An investigation like that should take this long as a minimum and you rarely nick the big cheese in the first instance. You nick the foot soldiers to cause disruption and distrust in the crime gang, as the net tightens you are only left with the Boss… that’s what Mueller has done. Textbook if he’s successful, a waste of time if it fails. I think it will cause so much grief that they will be forced to remove him from office but don’t expect an arrest or prison time… expect a resignation and national embarrassment.

Look at that… I’m getting involved in another country’s political problems… but unlike Californian Jub I’m merely talking to you my three readers rather than a global audience of thousands… I’m all about the controlled approach.

Late this year I decided to focus my hate laser on Trump rather than our own problems because our issues are so profoundly stupid that I lost the will to take the piss as every day I was confronted with something more ridiculous than before.

Not all the stupid in this country is Brexit related but a lot of it is just by the sheer fact that there appears to be no other relevant news other than stabbings in London.

The Brexiteer is a very sensitive soul, which is surprising given the complete belief that this is all easy and beneficial to us all so I should clarify that I’m not saying all of them are stupid. Some are stupid like some remainers are but that is really a food chain kinda thing.

I sit next to a Brexiteer who likes to call me a ‘Remoaner’. We had a frank robust conversation after this and I pointed out that I don’t call her a ‘Stupid Brexiteer’ so she should stop with the insults and simply engage in a rational debate about the subject. A rational debate was impossible as she admitted that she didn’t really understand it and due to boredom had stopped following it in the news but just wanted the government to (wait for it)… ‘Get on with it’.

Ahhh yes… ‘Get on with it’, the motto for our generation because we will all be lumped in as Brexiteers if it goes through and there’s nothing we can do with it. No one will believe you when you say they didn’t vote for this shit, we will all be regarded a big lump of Stupid globally with no personal out. It’s just a massive balls up whatever way you look at it which has convinced me and most people doing a job involving the public that they can’t really be trusted with decisions revolving around sanity, their own interest or logic.

‘Get on with it’, ‘for a change’ and ‘it’s something different’ appear to be the three most used phrases regarding this car crash because very few people have been bold enough to go down the ‘foreigners out’ route at least in my presence. To be fair this is mostly due to where I live rather than fear of me as an individual. I wonder how much Welsh farmers and Grimsby fishermen will like ‘the change’ this time next year? Bit of a laugh innit?

The reason I don’t wish to bracket all Brexiteers ‘stupid’ is because I know a few and they aren’t all stupid people. I’ll go with ‘misinformed’, ‘manipulated’ and potentially ‘lazy’ when dealing with a need for knowledge and facts. Of course not all people voting leave did it for a laugh, some genuinely believe it will work. I work with another bloke who really thinks it’s a good idea but ‘just in case’ he’s got his kids Irish Passports to ‘give them a chance’. Brilliant. In essence he doesn’t trust it to work and has shat on not only his nationality but that of an EU country. The fabled ‘have your cake and eat it’ is strong in this one.

If there was a cogent argument for Brexit other than soundbites above I could have been swayed but there isn’t.

For some reason the majority of the public (and don’t give me all that ‘those who didn’t vote would have swung it’ bollocks… they didn’t so they don’t count and if they couldn’t be arsed then they are responsible) seemed to choose a group of multi-millionaires mostly disliked by society in general. The wealth controlled by leading Brexiteers makes them immune to any scenario but for some reason the common fuckery of this country seemed to go with it in some kind of ‘Remains of the Day’ throwback to respecting the elite:

Here are the heroes of the common fuckery:

  • Aaron Banks (£250m net worth),
  • Rees-Jub (£55m)
  • Boris (£2m)
  • James Dyson (£7.8bn)
  • Farage (£2.5m)
  • Roger Daltrey (£80m)
  • Michael Caine (£60m)
  • Tim Martin (£448m)
  • Gove (£2m)
  • Yaxley-Lennon (£1m)
  • Fox (£1m)

..and of course the architect of this whole shit show Cameron whose family has an estimated £30m fortune.

It should be noted the relatively low net worth of most politicians is countered by ongoing salary and expenses… basically none of the strokers mentioned above will struggle ever as an MP gets £74k a year with a further £65k as a cabinet member.

This shower of Tory shit was believed in favour of logic and fact and they even went as far as to announce that you couldn’t trust experts. If you asked the average punter at any other time if they believed any one of these fuckers the answer would have been a resounding ‘no’ but when it came to an unachievable utopia they went for it. Well done Charlie Farley…well done..

Of course in any normal time the opposition would oppose such upper class frippery but we got nothing from the shabby millionaire across the floor because essentially he agreed with them.

Comrade Corbyn has proved to be as much as one trick pony as any Tory spouting ‘the will of the people’ and ignoring the majority of his support because they hadn’t paid for a membership card. This is akin to a football club ignoring a global fanbase in favour of the 55,000 turning up in the ground…. it makes no sense but it keeps you in the £134,000 a year seat while you do nothing but watch the country go down the tubes. Corbyn spouts utter cobblers along the lines of giving him the reigns and he can sort it out in three months when the fucker couldn’t organise two kippers on a plate.

Where will it end? Who fucking knows? Can’t possibly end with no deal as that would be catastrophic no matter what the Millionaire Ghoul Rees-Jub tells you. It takes decades to sort out trade agreements even if they are described as ‘easy’ by failed professional politicians and businessmen who build their shit in South East Asian sweatshops. Leaving with nothing is never better than staying with something…let’s face it when you leave the Looney girlfriend you’d take the Van Halen bootlegs and the cocktail shaker over fuck all if nothing else but to fuck her off.

My only job now is to assist my tribe as I can’t rely on anyone or anything else to help me or them.

On a personal note I’ve had worse years obviously but this one has been right up there for nothing special…. an eyebrow raiser and an eye opener on a number of fronts.

For years now my greatest assets have been my Achilles heel.

Reliability, Organisation, Humility

(Ignore the last one).

I’m a boringly reliable person. If I say I’m doing something or am going to be somewhere you can bet your life I will either have done it or will be there before you are. To me reliability is the key asset in friendship. If you can’t rely on someone to even get to a pub on time then what else can’t you trust them with. I’m all in and expect the same… it’s why I go all ‘Guinnessapocalypse’ in December as I’m committed to seeing those I value before the end of the year… that and I absolutely love Christmas and laughing so if you put them together I’ll be your Huckleberry…

Problem is that this year it wasn’t reciprocal with a large amount of my relatively small love arc not bothering.

We all have busy lives, even me, but if you don’t make an effort then the cracks appear….and they have appeared. This time though my trowel will remain dry and my love putty will remain arrid in its pouch. The days of me doing the running are gone, let’s see what happens now… this clown has chucked his last empty bucket until our man in Hong Kong sweeps back into Blighty triumphant…. then I’ll come out of retirement.

Strangely I had more social nights out with our man in Hong Kong and the Queen of Gin from the Emerald Isle than I did with some mates living in a 6 mile radius of my house. A particularly great hour of my year was spent with the Gin Queen in a North London boozer where I laughed almost continuously and smiled long after she left. Another great moment was meeting an antipodean princess in a coffee shop in central London…. total shock event making my day. It’s the small stuff that matters and to do that shit the effort needs to be made.

Clearly I’ve got grouchy in my piss ridden beige panted dotage but if you can’t sound off in your own blog when can you?

Friends are all to me as I have very little family so I’m sensitive to the collapse of it…bear with me, I could snap out of it at any second. Anyway you’d be disappointed if I kept my mouth shut right?….it is what it is…

What else?

The Arsenal finally managed to bin the Frenchman after what seemed like eons of mind numbing whinging from large sections of the online fanbase. In the ground there was little complaint as was proved a few years ago when you were directed to raise an A4 ‘Wenger out’ banner at some random pre agreed minute during a game. As expected about 200 bits of flappy paper were raised in an embarrassing act of defiance and we waited another 3 years for the willowy ponce to clear out his desk.

Up stepped boss eyed part time Spanish concierge Unai Emerey with his pidgin English and jet black Vampire hair. This was all fantastically refreshing and reignited my love of the game and the day out with the ever faithful philosopher. It started badly but got a lot better and now it is sputtering a bit but it’s enjoyable and expectations are low. The best thing about it is that it has fuelled the Boy’s interest as a 70 year old Frenchman weren’t cutting it. A big year ahead for the club but let’s keep it real eh?

In the summer we holidayed in England and specifically Cornwall. You probably know this as I blogged it and you might have read it (or simply pretended to in an attempt to boost my fragile ego). We had an absolutely fantastic time and I miss it desperately. I crave the solace, the slower pace, the greenery…. the lack of…. people.

Cornwall has made me realise that I can’t end my days in London as it’s a young person’s place and I want something else. Fear not dear reader, I’d imagine I’ll be here for another decade and a half but I’d like to do proper fuck all surrounded by trees rather than flats and stabbings.

So it’s Christmas and I sit with a white Rioja in my new glass watching the World Darts championship after a lovely afternoon of laughing with my neice and my ex sister in law… The cheese board has just entered the room so I might go Austrian Smoked with a water biscuit.

It’s been a great Christmas and as ever it started on the 1st of the month. I’ve put the work in and have had a good time but there is always room for improvement.

As usual Jen could not give me a clue as to what she wanted. Every year I’m given tasks to find things like a ‘phone which is also a coffee machine’ or a ‘bag which carries a laptop that isn’t a rucksack but looks like one and is a purse’. It’s almost impossible and so she ends up with trinkets rather than epics. I need fuck all. If I haven’t bought already it then I probably don’t need it. Jen sees this as a challenge and always proves me wrong by finding something I had no idea I needed which is now essential to my survival. She’s a genius.

A great but different Christmas though as the kids have now broken completely free from the shackles of Kris Kringle. Heart breaking but a new vibe fills the house, not quite the same but different…. not better. Those kid moments are fucking unreal, almost surreal and I’m glad I recorded them all. However Santa-free or not the traditions continue and will forever… my drum, my rules…

A ‘meh’ year then consisting of 5 pints of blood lost, 3 gigs attended (QOTSA, Arctics and ‘Tragedy’ the world’s #1 metal Bee Gees covers band), 18 audiobooks consumed at 15,000 plus minutes, multiple Arsenal games, gallons of Guinness sunk, 10 Facebook ‘friends’ binned (various reasons all unreasonable), 4 funerals (couldn’t do the 5th…too sad), 1 threat of legal action from my father, 3 blogs, 148km run, thousands of Facebook entries and a crack in my friend base…. and as I always say over Christmas if you didn’t see me it was your fault and not mine… I’m out there in the Guinness trenches for you…’The Others’..

As with all yearly reviews we need to look ahead to next year. What do we want? I simply want to laugh more…..and a new pair of Shure SE215 sound isolation headphones but I have low personal goals… that’s not for you…I get that. Think bigger…..

All tales of woe these days end on Brexit and this one is no different.

In three months we hit the big goodbye square on unless something with brains bursts free from the incubus of Stupid pulsing in Westminster.

I’m ready.

If I’m not eating my words as the pound notes are posted through my letter box and float down the chimney I’ll be drowning in Schadenfruede of 17.4 million as it collapses around our arseholes.

That is my moment.

I will at that point ascend the stairs to my loft lair, shave my swead, strip down and don the Lord Humongous bondage, fur pants and hockey mask (glasses on the outside) to appear to the assembled neighbours outside there burnt out ruins in an apocalyptic landscape from the flat roof above the den of my house to calm the terrified, awe struck horde below:

“Citizens of Barnetonia, today is a new day…a new dawn.

I am Lord Humongous, Warlord of the Coppetts Ward killing fields!!!

Bring me your beans and tins of Del Monte Fruit cocktail and no one will be sacrificed to the God of World Trade Organisation Rules today…

Houses 15, 17, 29, 32, and 39 are now devoid of mixedbloods… they are gone and their homes can be plundered for Vittols and pens…they loved pens, especially blue ones…

All food associated with any land outside of the extensive fishing fields of this island with impenetrable borders must be destroyed by me…. in private. Bring these items to me.

At 1802 hours the Gladiators of the Wastelands ( Pete from number 2 and Rolf from 37) will compete to the death for 7 paracetamol and a stale doughnut….bring forth the champions!!!!

BOW DOWN BEFORE ME FOR I AM YOUR GOD!!!

Oh yeah…at 1850 there will be a puppet show in the scout hut….”

2018…. over and out… rubbish….

“…’Steve’ versus the Gypsy Pirate…”

Minding my own business I was. Just a bloke sitting in a tent on a beach listening to an audiobook. Sitting in a tent due to a sun burnt leg. Just enjoying meself when..

‘BANG!’

..it happens…

A fly shoots up the nose…. right up the bugle, buzzing in panic actually in my head.

For a moment I don’t know whether to blow out or suck back sending the beast to the back of my throat.. an horrendous thought but I guessed it might be quicker than a prolonged snort and I feared the fucker was heading for my eyes on an internal road and then onwards ultimately to my brain.

I panic and fly out the tent in an almost involuntary reaction similar to a moment 20 years ago when, whilst biting on a Finger of Fudge at my desk, my insisor slipped off the chocolatey treat and pierced though the tip of my tongue. My reaction on that occasion was to stand bolt upright and remove my tie at lightning speed while my bleeding tongue flapped out my mouth thus shitting the life out of my colleagues who assume I’ve gone full nutjob from excessive data input.

I burst free of the tent into the light snorting (the right choice) until I expel the insect though my nose at speed.

It flops out on to the sand and to be fair it must be in a right mess mentally as it can’t be nice up there. But what a story for the little fella eh? King of the shitpile…

I clear my hooter and look about after being reborn into public view from the safety of my cocoon.

Poldhu Cove. Sandy with a tributary. Windy. Packed. Everything I hate in one place. But it’s what they wanted… them…’the others’.

It’s the fourth beach I’ve been on this trip and while perfectly acceptable to most easy going people I ain’t having it. The other beaches were outstanding.

This place is a flesh palace. Large quantities of white dimpled flesh can be seen. Us English are a bad visual experience on an English beach particularly in good weather… we just ain’t used to it and so look awkward on it. I’m including myself here. I’m lumpy, not great on the eye and pale and wobbly. It ain’t my bag as I look like ‘Pootle’ from the 70’s classic ‘The Flumps’. Messy.

To be fair I’m not sure what the beach answer is for me. I done them all and find it a dull experience. You have to almost take everything with you as there can be no reliance on facilities especially in the company of Jen as generally we have to find somewhere miles from any other human for the ‘solace’. Once planted up I’m usually trapped for a good 5 hours. I’m a pool man in reality.

The Cornwall beaches have been spectacular though so at least fantastic on my eyeballs with Kynance Cove being particularly brilliant if a bit frantic.

Before Podhu we went to Coverack which was the best beach or cove as it was not overcrowded and was covered in pebbles rather than camera and phone destroying sand. It’s more of a bay really with clear shallow water.

In a moment of unusual interest for this holiday the boy had researched Coverack and discovered that Kayaking is available…..meaning I will be going Kayaking. Reluctantly I head off find my canoe.

My reluctance is only because of my fear of the sea and not like my Dad who was simply reluctant to spend time with kids as somewhere a pub might be open .

I have no place being on the sea. There are things in the sea…. things I don’t like. But as a Dad you have to do shit you don’t want to like this and watching kids football without killing the other parents who know fuck about the game but expect their average kid to be the new Beckham or sitting through appalling music and ballet recitals… it’s your job, it’s what you sign up for.

We find the ‘Kayak and wind surfng centre’ which is a shed run by a salty sea dog with sense of humour all his own.

It’s £25 for the pair of us and I hand over two 20’s receiving £12.50 in change which is par for the course on this trip. We have a smart fucker here so I leave it a minute and engage in some low level communication with said ‘Captain Birdseye’ before I casually highlight his deliberate error by opening my palm and saying ‘you done me here mate’. He knew. He hands over the balance and we move on.

He takes our names and enters them into his book under the time we take out the Kayaks. I’m very clear about my name as I’ve known it for a good 48 and a half years. I even watched him write it down in clear slowly written capitals in the book with his nautical crayon. He did well given his heavy brow and pungency indicating a Cro-Magnon ability with rudimentary tools or marking instruments.

I see my plank of plastic floating nearby and as I’m tentatively entering it I hear Birdseye talking to someone called ‘Steve’ which is a bit odd as he’s looking directly at me but I assume he’s multi tasking or just has wayward inbred eyes.

Birdseye continues with the ‘Steve’ shit. I can’t see anyone vaguely Steve-like in my kayaking area so he must be talking to me. The boy is in hysterics…. he’s cottoned on.

I am now Steve.

I go with it. He’s either taking the piss or thick as a plank. I have no idea what his name is but I thank him for the kayaking advice and call him ‘Doug’. The boy and I paddle off and ‘Doug’ shouts a final tip from the harbour bookended with ‘Steve’…. ‘Cheers Brian’ says I and we head off into the bay.

We have a lovely hour on the water floating about with a ludicrous amount of jellyfish. The water is crystal clear and the boy enjoys himself which is essentially the point.

The big issue hits me six hours later when I realise my exposed legs, whilst cool from the splashes of sea water, are in fact red raw with sun burn hence my tent experience later in the week. After an hour of Dad/Son bonding we head back to port and to Birdseye’s shack.

As I near the harbour wall I (Steve) am bombarded with information from the Jub (Birdseye) seemingly to stop me sinking even though I’ve been happily afloat for an hour. “Cheers Pete” I shout and I give him the thumbs up, the international sign of ‘shut the fuck up… I understand’.

I dock the Kayak and head toward Birdseye to thank him. He calls me ‘Steve’, I call him ‘Duncan’ it was a thing we had….. “see you soon Alan” and we make our way back to the pub for a post Kayak pint…

Coverack is truly lovely and if we come to Cornwall again I’ll definitely stay here. Proper Cornwall…

Of course like all places Cornwall has its faults. There’s the usual greed from shop owners, publicans and restaurateurs which is normal in areas reliant on tourists as like multi millionaire footballers it’s a short career but in Cornwall the big ticket items like The Eden Project tend to disappoint.

The best thing about the Eden Project is the view of the Eden Project. The bubbles or ‘Bio-domes’ look inpressive from the entrance as you look down into the quarry. If you knew in advance you’d take a picture and retirn to the car as after that you’d struggle to entertain anyone there unless you like wandering around B&Q on a Sunday afternoon. Put it this way if B&Q or Homebase had a zip wire they could charge £30 for and they sold Beef Burritos you probably wouldn’t need to go to the Eden Project at all. That being said I reckon it delivers the goods if you were to see a gig there.

I love a good garden centre but I’m generally there to buy something practical like a drill or a BBQ and no matter how many Eden Project staff I asked none of them would or could direct me to ironmongery or the place they kept the fencing.

The main attraction at Eden is the sky platform in the main Bio-dome. Of course when I reach it I’m met by some oxygen thief jobsworth who tells me it is closed as it’s too hot and they will reassess it in three hours.

Nice.

The chances of me being here in three hours are solely reliant on the outbreak of a third World War or perhaps some kind of Zombie apocalypse breaking out.

“Tungsten tipped screws?” I ask “What aisle are they in?”

Nothing. Not a sausage. All I get is the public sector worker mouth breathing stare down the nose of over the glasses.

Kew Gardens it ain’t but it was a great burrito and I had a bottle of Tribute

Another massive disappointment even though I knew it would be was St Ives which was worse than I remember from my previous two visits, once as a bored child and once in bored adulthood.

St Ives is best a seen at night, optimally at two in the morning when there are no people in it because during the day it is like Oxford Street on 23rd December.

It is fucking mobbed. Not only is it banged out with tourists (like me) who randomly stop (unlike me) in the narrow streets to look at stuff they don’t want or need but every one of them seems to own a dog…..a dog you can’t see but can only trip over. It’s like an obstacle course.

The only place I can find to eat is a slightly more upmarket Wetherspoons type boozer but no matter, we are all starving and keen to get out of the river of people flowing around the central harbour.

The tribe grab a table and I head to the bar where I am served by ‘Shauna’ a pleasant overly nourished young girl who’s the most effective barmaid I’ve met. She’s dishes out the drinks and I take the massive A2 menus back to the family so they can choose some deep fried shite.

After not much deliberation the choices are made and I settle on the simplistic Fish Finger Sandwich as it would appear to be impossible to mess that up.

I don’t know a lot about cooking but I know something. A piece of battered cod in a brioche bun ain’t a fish finger sandwich unless you are wearing a waxed beard, tight trousers that don’t fit and are supping on an overpriced unpalatable craft beer.

And here is the problem. Nothing is normal anymore. Everything is twisted and tweaked to give it a contemporary edge. What happened to a sesame seed bun? Why is every burger delivered in a waxed paper wrapper and a sweet brioche bun. It’s like eating a steak in a doughnut. A fish Finger sandwich must be one of the simplist dishes known man let alone the grubby hands of any Pub franchise cook with half a brain.

I blame cow tongued Pillsbury doughboy mockney Jamie Oliver who seems incapable of opening a tin of beans and toasting some bread without calling it a ‘guerrilla artisan pulse and sourdough fusion’. Prick.

After chopping off 4 inches of fish so my dinner fits in the doughnut I chow down, wipe my mush and we leave to fight our way back through the hordes towards the place you pick up what appears to be a mobility bus returning us to a parked car 20 minutes away. ‘Park and ride’ the trigger sentence meaning ‘don’t stop here, it’s banged out’. Jen piles on the bus like a good Londoner. She’s worked out the seating / person ratio and it looks tight give the wheelchairs and crutches from the assembled mob. She’s wheeling people out the way, slashing tyres and generally chucking kids over her shoulder to get on…. top girl. We chug up the hill at below walking pace but make it before any of the lame die in transit.

St Ives is a like a pretty Penzance for the wealthy. Like the Tate Gallery it so well publicises it looks good but it is filled with nothing of note.

Cornwall is really all about the land not the trinkets of capitalism.

The Lizard Peninsula and Lands End are so naturally beautiful that they only need teashops and benches for the punters to use. You could sit there for hours and soak up the scenery and the history and I’m glad the kids did and enjoyed it.

Most impressive on the sightseeing tour of the Wild West was the Minack, an outdoor theatre carved out of the side of a cliff. The stage is tiny and is positioned at the bottom of the the cliff itself backing on to a wide expanse of ocean. The seating is literally carved into the sheer rock. It must be quite the spectical to see a play there particularly at night but as this is England that would be impossible unless you had booked it two years in advance and want a restricted view so I’ll either have to return of just dream of it. Seriously though it’s truly magnificent and I would thoroughly recommend a visit.

Anyway I’m not Judith Chalmbers so it’s best I quit the tourism blog and get back the reason I started this stuff. The character assassination of the public….the piss taking and what better place to finish than at ‘The Poncing Pony’.

I went to this local pub on five occasions over our two week stay. On every occasion ‘Jerry’, the wide mouthed Tory, was in attendance with his Chardonnay and ice.

My penultimate visit was on a Tuesday in the early evening and I only went because the kids had become fascinated with this local punter lite pub.

I go there before the kids because if it’s busy I’ll stand them down. I’m not a great believer of kids in pubs as they are adult environments but if, as I suspect, it’s near empty I’ll let them know so they can come over.

I walk in and wait at the bar to be served. I take a look about and in the prime window seat sits Jerry and the local Tory association. The table is littered with fruit juice and half pints of bitter and of course the iced white wine. Jerry sits in the middle of the throng like a white haired, loud mouthed messiah spewing forth stories of inflated harbour costs and failed bin collections. Around him the mob, reminiscent of the cast of ‘Are you being served?’ nod seriously and tap the table. This is local village stuff and me, a mere Londoner, would have no concept of the importance of self watering hanging baskets or the state of the pavement by the war memorial. One thing I’m certain of is that Jezza is the boss, when he talks window boxes get replanted or people die it’s that simple.

I turn back to the bar and see the Spinster in waiting barmaid walking in my direction with a pint. Good grief, I’ve made such an impression that this blond angel has identified my liking for Stella Artois ‘4’ a weakened version of the classic punching juice. I extend my hand, crack a cocky smile and wait for her to deliver the goods to my tiny pixie paw however she walks past me and plonks the drink down at a vacant space at the bar.

Bit rude. Could be her boss eyes….

The space is then filled by the David Essex spinster creating Boatman from the week before. He leans on the bar at his bespoke disturbing angle and is a little bit too close to me for my liking. Us Londoners like a bit of personal space and this fucker is now in my fighting / drinking arc which due to him being in it is now renamed the ‘stroker zone’.

I remain looking ahead at the bar but can feel the bloke staring at the side of my head. I turn sideways and look at him and after an uncomfortable silence I give him the traditional Cockney greeting of ‘Alright?’ which can mean ‘how are you?’ or ‘what the fuck are you looking at?’

He’s confident, I mean look at the vest, and the guns and the size of him. Look at the stubble and the David Essex barnet. He’s got it all going on for a Gypsy Pirate in a Cornish Tory Brexiteer village. I am merely a bloke with a ‘Dad bod’ looking for a swift pint before me dinner.

‘You need serving’ he says.

For a fraction of a second I prepare for a punch up. ‘Getting served’ is an old expression for receiving a good hiding but I take stock and realise that he literally means it as he gestures towards the barmaid who trots over like a good puppy to her master.

‘Please serve this man, he’s tense and needs a drink’

‘Tense?’ says I, ‘why’s that?’ and I turn to face the smirking knobber.

‘You’re drumming your fingers on the bar’

‘And mate?….I’m tapping my foot but I’m not singing a song’

We stare at each other for an awkwardly uncomfortable time before the barmaid intervenes and asks me what I would like. I turn to her and politely ask for a Stella ‘4’ and she obliges. I root for the necessary coinage and hand it over. The Gypsy Pirate ain’t done though.

‘Is that it? Bit boring..’ he says looking at the side of my head again. I take a sip and turn to face him. I smile and start to play with my phone. He’s clearly looking for a problem but as I’m just a tourist staying 20 steps from this pub I let him have his ‘big fish in a small pond moment’ and ignore him.

Jerry and the table of the dead have gone silent watching this interaction. I’d imagine when you are head of a Hamlet reliant on trade from us London mugs and the locals are keen to embarrass them you might need to take some action…. perhaps a keel hauling is in order or 100 lashes in a barn delivered by ‘Limpy Joe’ the local Oaf.

With perfect timing the kids walk in and we take a seat and play cards for a bit.

The Gypsy Pirate sits alone looking like a bit of a plum as I go to the bar to book a table for our last night in a couple of days.

The spinster in waiting barmaid does the honours for me and when she asks for my name for the booking she say ‘Jon?…wow!!! Amazing!!’.. I’m still trying to work that out…Maybe they heard I was ‘Steve’…

The last night looms and the tribe and I attend the Pony for the last time. It’s packed out and the bar is busy. There is no hint of the Gypsy Pirate but Jerry is in attendance and he smiles at me when I go to the bar. Fair enough…

We have a great meal, it’s actually better than any food I had during a two week period the previous year in Portugal and I will TripAdvisor review it appropriately.

I can rip the piss out of people as much as I like but I tip my hat to a community pub in a tiny village who delivered the goods and more for our final night.

It was a great holiday and it would bring me back to this part of Cornwall in an instant. The bad parts were the bigger places where you could almost be anywhere. I got to see me Bruv in his festive house for a few hours which was lovely and we all relaxed completely before the franticness of Autumn which is usually a busy work period.

There was the disappointment of Flambards (a sort of Margate type amusement park) but the majesty of St Michael’s Mount which the difficulty in imagining how it was built was only forgotten when I spotted a bloke with no neck married to a woman with no chin. The scenery was breathtaking and the beaches were clean with the weather mostly playing its part.

We were sad to leave but after 1300 miles, 800 photos, relentless pisstaking out of me by the kids and a 10 hour drive back I returned to the groove in my sofa happy and refreshed and prepared for the winter and ultimately Christmas.

I’m still seething from the Bacon and egg McMuffin debacle though…I’ll have that bloke in this world or the next…

“..Tales from The Poncing Pony …”

Regular readers will be fully aware that I’m not a Summer person. I’m happier in my ‘woman repelling fleece’ quaffing Rouge from a bowl before the embers of a roaring fire while snow smashes the window. However even I would be hard pushed to moan about the Summer of 2018.

Sweating… hourly. Roasting….daily. Sweltering….constantly….

This has been the best weather I can recall as an adult. Outstanding stuff if you ain’t working in it or travelling on the underground in a suit where you can feel the sweat running down your legs and you can smell the other pigs quashed in the carriage with you.

Anyway to counteract the outstanding weather we decided this year to holiday in England which will inevitably mean that I will be locked in a country cottage watching ‘Freeview’ on a blurred Grundig TV in the pissing rain while writing this shit to entertain about 8 people.

Last year we went to Portugal and stayed in a high end resort. As lovely as it was it was ludicrously expensive and essentially dull with the four of us simply frying by a pool drinking and eating. The kids were bored and so were we so a more active holiday was called for.

In keeping with the tradition of recent years this year it was right any proper that we spent our filthy lucre in England and so we headed west to what is essentially Middle Earth… Cornwall.

As a child I regularly went to Cornwall. We never went abroad, I don’t know why as money seemed freely available for the old man to ram down the throat of a number of publican but it just didn’t happen. We seemed to always go to Falmouth or Hayle or somewhere grey near the end of the country.

As an adult I’ve only been here once before. It was grey and a long way away however we dived in as I think it’s important to let the kids see this country and I’m happy to pay to promote it.

The night before the off I’m press ganged into setting off by 0600 to ‘get ahead of the traffic’. As expected I’m the only mug up at 0530 and I spend the next 3 hours waiting for the rest of my mob to sort themselves out. We finally leave with the car crammed with stuff and 4 bikes hanging off the back and we are away…. no one looks back as we all need to be out of London for a bit..

Off we trot on what turns out to be a very benign journey of about 6 hours. The only turd in the water pipe was the mouth breathing monosyllabic acne king at a drive-thru McDonald’s who thinks a Double Sausage McMuffin with Cheese and a white coffee is in fact a single Bacon McMuffin and a black coffee. This lack of care on the customer front is exactly how Nazi Germany started. I won’t forget him… I’ll remember his face forever. This aggression will not stand.

Five hours later when I’ve just about finished moaning about the McMuffin debacle we arrive at our end destination which appears to essentially be Hobbiton.

Manaccan (pronounced Ma-knack-an) is a tiny little village with about 200 residents. It has a village pub and a cafe but fuck all else other than a church which might as well be another house to my heathen eyes. All the houses have names rather than numbers and ours is no exception. No numbers tell me that we are either in the land of the wealthy or the stupid…. judging by the Range Rover’s evident I’m going for the stupidly wealthy.

To describe our accommodation as ‘twee’ would be an understatement. It’s cosy with a capital ‘C’….a bit like staying in your Nan’s house or the old 70’s fair ground favourite ‘The crooked house’.

I walk in and bang my head on the frame of the first door I walk through. I bounce up the stairs and bang my head, when I reach the main bedroom I walk in and bang my head on the frame. I do this again as I leave the room.

I’ve always considered myself to be a fine specimen of manhood but tall I ain’t and so my brain cannot deal with door frames that are 5’8″ high even after several cracks to the head. For the next 2 days I continue to smash my swead on the frames through the house and even do it twice in a 15 second burst when I enter a room to pick up and put on a cap. The Eternal struggle of man versus conditioned brain…

As I’m unloading the car I notice that the local pub is a mere 24 seconds from my front door. I’ve checked this place out online prior to arrival so I knew it was close but this is a welcome surprise as even when it inevitably rains I could be within it with out reaching a state of external moistness.

After sorting ourselves out we head over to the pub or ‘community pub’ (the locals purchased and run it themselves) for some dinner. This boozer is called ‘The New Inn’ but in keeping with its Tolkien-esque surroundings let’s call it ‘The Poncing Pony’.

A ‘Community Pub’. I should have seen it coming right? I stride all London-like into the tiny bar area which is crammed with Jubs to find the loud conversation drop considerably. I care not a jot, I’m a professional. Without saying a word it’s like I’ve pointed at the pentagram on the wall and said ‘What’s that?’ just like in that scene in ‘American Werewolf’. Shifty eyes check me out as I wait my turn and after a couple of minutes I’m served by a buck toothed, lazy eyed young girl clearly in a relationship with her cousin.

I purchase a round of drinks for a ludicrously cheap price (I’ll never be charged the same price for any drink again in this place) and I book a table for dinner.

We have an adequate meal and all seems well, the bar area is busy and the service was alright even if she did try to add the drinks I purchased in cash to the food bill. I explained to the waitress that this was incorrect with slow London malevolence and she realises her error and backs away from the table returning with the correct bill. This place will do for now…. or so I thought. (As you can imagine Dear Reader, this venue will feature prominently throughout this effort).

I’ve always preferred Cornwall over Devon. To me, Devon is pretty in a manufactured way whereas Cornwall is naturally beautiful. Manaccan epitomizes Cornwall as it is all original and the age is visible. Age oozes out of every building as my sore head will testify.

To start the week we travel to a place I spent a lot of holidays in as a child. Falmouth.

Falmouth is perfectly acceptable as a port town. Lots of shops and boats to look at, a few pubs and all the locals are wearing Musto sailing clothing. I get it. These are people of the ocean… it’s Atlantis before the disaster. My issues are all based on childhood memories.

As a kid we were constantly taken to Falmouth as the old man liked the British Legion there. We would trot up in the pissing rain and Dad would enter the Legion leaving us in the street with Mum looking over his shoulder in a ‘see you later’ kinda way. It was then down to Mum to entertain us in a town a long way from what it is today. Hard times.

It was also the place where my parents had a full blown barney in a shop over my father’s insistence on purchasing a hot plate so Mum could cook burgers from a beach hut. As expected my Mum gave him the ‘fuck off’ tablet which was taken badly by the nutjob as he saw it as a challenge to his authority. Falmouth although decent enough in this century ain’t for me as it brings on the sweats.

Then there was Penzance.

We breeze towards Penzance without a care in the world. It appears to be ‘Anytown UK ‘ from a distance but when you reach the centre it turns like a lame dog gagging on a rancid bone…. it’s rotten to its core.

We do a circuit of the area and end up in a car park to the back of what it ludicrously described as a ‘shopping centre’. The kids are hungry so we decide to stop for some form of food no doubt deep fried or made of meat blastings surrounded in pastry as I’ve seen some of the limpy residents shuffling about and fruit and veg doesn’t seem to be a priority.

I brief the kids and Jen on the raid we are about to undertake, we ‘lock and load’ and tentatively leave the safety of the car and head directly to the shopping hub like Rick Grimes in ‘The Walking Dead’ escaping from another failed utopian safehouse.

As expected there are no decent shops but a series of cut price efforts where Haribo buckets, cheap biscuits and Carling black label are prominent and at discount prizes.

Also prolific within the local female community is the forearm tattoo. There’s nothing wrong with tattoed ladies in fact it’s quite alluring but the forearm tattoo generally smacks of Holloway Prison strongarm…. particularly when paired with smoking, no teeth and a can of Stella. It’s a popular look here along with the limp, the wheelchair Goth and the bandaged arm… the lame control Penzance.

We bowl into a tourist version of Greggs for the first pasty of the holiday. It’s hard as a dog’s head and has a smattering of ‘meet’ randomly scattered within its molten innards. The Cornish spend eons telling us, the stupid non Cornish speaking masses, what constitutes a Cornish pasty and when you have one you realise that they are fairly dull heart stoppingly stodgy affairs that whether eaten in Greggs, Sainsbury’s, Tesco’s or even in a Ginsters wrapper it matters not one jot…. it is merely meant to cover your heart like a boiler blanket. They are shit.

The proper kick in the plums though was that after our purchase the toothless Rothmans experiment behind the ramp sold everything else for half price…. the London accent curse has taken hold. No matter…. we’re minted, pasties for everyone!!

As we head back to the car I realise we are walking with some locals and it strikes me that anyone passing through will see me as part of this mess…. I am one of them, I am a Penzancian to the eyes of those sharp enough to accelerate through the town rather than stop within it.

For every Penzance and Helston (meh) there is a Helford, Cadgwith, Coverack and Kyance Cove. These places are outstandingly beautiful and deserve a visit. Kyance Cove must be one of the most impressive places I’ve ever visited and Helford is so peaceful you could see yourself living there in your final year. These villages are the Cornwall you should expect.

Upon returning from Penzance Jen decided that we needed to go on a walk. Great. These ‘walks’ are infamous within the small confines of this family as Jen tends to insist they happen with no actual plan. Off you go in a flip-of-a-coin direction where you could end up lost or miles away. The kids and I do a lot of general walking but Jen doesn’t so she sees it as a necessity even though the other three of us don’t require it.

We set off from our base and immediately hit a long road heading downwards. Down at the beginning indicates a massive climb on the return normally but not in the head of my missus. She seems to think that this drop will result in a flat lovely walk. I get this a lot.

To be fair it’s a lovely first part of a walk as we discover a road which runs the length of Gweek Creek. It’s a fairly flat trot adjacent to a river with some marvellous views. This road reaches a tiny hamlet where you can dock your boat but there’s little else there bar the road out which is almost vertically up. I plead with any local I can find to see if they can find a helicopter or a sherpa but they simply laugh and point to the cemetery. We are on our own. Us and the north face of what is known to me now as ‘that fucking road’.

We start the ascent and the clouds gather.

About half way up we get light drizzle but this is just a sample of what is to come. The climb out of this village is far greater than the intrepid Jennifer had envisaged so we are spread out like an army platoon along the road when the proper rain, the Irish double penetration wetness sideways rain hits.

As you may know I’m a sucker for outdoor clothing. I’m the Gore Tex and Hyvent king. I am rarely seen without my women repellent fleece so this weather should cause no significant problems. This would be true if I were wearing the North Face tri-climate breathable waterproof/windproof jacket retailing at £170 from all good outdoor clothing retailers but that monster is hanging on a coat hook in a twee cottage three miles away. I’m currently wearing a Berghaus fleece with the absorbancy of a high quality sponge. I run to the base of a large oak tree in a country road for some low level shelter.

I am sodden. There is no hat so my freshly shorn hair makes me look bald. My glasses are steamed up and the fleece is heavy with rain so the sleeves appear to be hanging loose past my hands making me look like an escaped mental patient with a loosened straight jacket.

I wait under the tree for my lost tribe and they appear over the top of the ascent. They came more prepared than me and all three are wearing sub quality waterproof jackets with those two small, skin tight hoods completely done up revealing only the eyes and nose. They look like 3 bowling pins in human form. They meet me under the tree. We look a right mess. We stand there for 10 minutes shivering and a few cars pass by delivering the ‘Cornwall wave’ that you must reciprocate or cause some kind of local incident. A wave of this kind in London would be seen as a challenge or the opening gambit in some kind of knuckle or simply ‘taking the piss’ but here it means ‘friend’ or ‘look at those sad sodden bastards under that tree…poor fuckers’.

We return to the house in blistering sunshine. I’m so wet that I’m literally steaming from the fleece… truly horrible. I shower and change and head to The Poncing Pony for a low level pint to gather my thoughts.

I arrive to a fanfare in my head. The place is empty bar the barman and one other individual who clearly thinks he’s in charge of this village. This is it. This is the moment I start to plan the takeover. This bloke is my Balrog but I ain’t no wizard…. I’m Stryder…. the watcher…the future King.

I rock up at the bar and confidently order a flat lager as I’m all about consistency and that was the shit they slopped up previously. I then sit away from the Balrog and listen…. always listening…

He’s a big man but he’s out of shape. He oozes Tory wealth in retirement and he’s supping on a Pinot Grigio…no wait can’t be Pinot as this titan would see that as ‘too modern….too Blairite’. I’m going Chardonay and due to too many nights in the South of France he’s whacked a couple of ice cubes in it.

He’s mid 60’s with a fine head of white hair. He’s well spoken but he literally has a big mouth, almost a flip top head, and appears to be directing his conversation to some other bloke in a different village such is the gravitas of his baritone.

I eye him up. Could be ex-military. I’ve come across his type before. I was once searching a house in Bray where the owner went all ex Sandhurst authoritarian and got slaughtered on the spot by an irate Scotsman holding a search warrant (“you might think this is your house but this piece of paper says it’s mine until we leave so shut your noise”…. one of the great lines). This geezer is the sort of bloke who has his family tree on the wall with the military medals from Grandpapa in a case. Nothing wrong with that I suppose if you are a ponce.

We’ll call this bloke ‘Jerry’. It’s probably ‘Sir Jeremy St John Haverstock Arbuthnot VC’ but we’ll go with Jerry for now to keep it flowing. He’s clearly the big cheese in this small town as the barman is all reverential in his company. Jerry spouts on about boats he owns and community stuff that I couldn’t care less for but I listen as a weakness is imminent….a chink in the armour which will mean I can run this place before I leave, then we’ll see how much a flat lager will cost Jez….then we’ll only serve Pinot and Hock with no ice cubes, we’ll wipe you out son…

At Jerry’s feet lies a big black Labrador called ‘Biggles’… he’s clearly RAF without any combat. The dog has seen better days. It drools and limps about much like Jerry’s wife who has appeared in the bar for a pre dinner drink with the old fucker. She’s all pearls and a secret Gin stash in the downstairs toilet cistern. It helps with coping with the poncitude of Jerry.

Punters start to dribble in for the early session in the company of ‘The Guv’nor’.

First up we have an old bloke in cut off denims and camouflage gaiters. He’s late 50’s and is clearly a man of the soil. He orders a flat bitter and engages in some back slapping, cock measuring guffawing with Jerry about how they have probably bought this pub two times over since gaining control of it. It’s all jolly good stuff presumably for my benefit as I’m the only non local Jub in the room. The whip out pictures of boats and start some bawdy chat with a young barmaid who’s appeared from the cellar.

A couple of younger blokes turn up. These boys ooze David Essex boatmen, a ‘a girl in every lock, if it’s got a backbone I’ll do it’ types. Long hair, working vests, rugged men of the river with a twinkle in the eye. One of them is so fucking cool that he leans against the bar at a bizarre angle while gazing into the young barmaids eyes. He must have 20 years on her but this means nothing as once he’s done his dirty business she will be cast aside quicker than it takes to add the notch to the headboard of the bed on his barge. She’ll just be a rating then… nothing more, nothing less but she will be staring out along the river for the next 30 years wondering when he will return…’My pirate’ the last words uttered from the lonely spinsters lodge….tragic.

The boatmen start knocking back the flat ale like pros and Jerry ain’t liking it. You can see the officers mess disgust in his flip top head.

Boatman number one pops outside for a ‘burn’ (prison parlance I believe) and Jerry eyes him suspiciously. The smell of cigarette smoke wafts into the bar which doesn’t particularly bother me as I’ve drunk in some right shitholes back in the days when ashtrays were on tables. Jerry ain’t having it though. He forcefully demands a glass of tap water from the spinster in waiting as ‘the cigarette smoke is over powering’ and is ‘destroying’ his throat. Calm down son. He takes the water and heads out to confront the Boatman.

It then all becomes apparent to me. These Cornwall based Tory Brexiteers don’t actually want me here or anyone here. They only want locals. They don’t want the transient Boatmen, they want the village to be self sufficient. This probably was a nice local boozer but like so many in these small villages a small trigger made the locals gang up on it to get it shut. It could have been a change in owner, a change in bitter or even a change to the recipe of the Sunday roast Yorkshire pudding but as they hold the aces in the form of constant local punditry they can end it for anyone by slowly not attending. Its why it’s a low level community pub and not a proper pub.

To reinforce my theory a proper local local walks in.

She has the forearms of someone fully capable of snapping a crippled lambs neck and she’s wearing a homemade poncho which smells of hay. She must be well known as no one has told her that her teeth look like a burnt down fence and if you are going into a pub you need to buy a drink and not just turn up for a chat.

She has a right mouth on her and the locals flock to her dulcet tones. She asks the assembled punters if they have used the new Chinese restaurant in the next town. One on the gathered says he likes it and mouth talks him down with a tale of a 10 minute wait for a table resulting in her letting the owner know that if he didn’t sort it out:

‘word would get out and we could end it for you’.

These were the actual words. A microcosm of the current state of the country. Do what we want or we’ll royally fuck you and ourselves.

I nearly said something but thought I’d bide my time….5 days left to take control of this place. Either that or I’m striding toward a wicker effigy shouting ‘Jesus Christ NO!!!’

Next time I’ll be ranting about the worlds biggest garden centre and recounting the advice for ‘Steve’ from a salty sea dog.

“..The difficult 33rd blog…”

I’ve not written a blog for seven months partly due to apathy and ‘bloggers block’ but mainly because I couldn’t decide what to write it about.

I had grandiose ideas about all sorts of stuff none of it remotely interesting or funny and as ‘funny’ was the point of the thing in the first place I decided to not bother.

Initially I was going to write a blog about the magnificence of women both in general and through personal experience.

I was inspired by that story in January about the charity dinner held by ‘The Presidents Club’, an organisation which seems to be a bit of a plaything for toffee nosed tweed jacket and jeans wearing ‘Top Gear’ mouth breathers called ‘Bunty’ or ‘Nigel Sinjun Biffa III’. These are the men who can’t or won’t actually talk to women other than to request ‘bitty’ or engage in some perfunctory missionary position coitus before returning to a darkened room to write their memoirs of boarding school dormitory buggerings that made them the ‘men’ they think they are.

The event in question was exposed by a well meaning female reporter who infiltrated the waiting staff to see close up the gropings and ‘phnarr phnarr’ that occurred.

The problem was that it turned out to be a bit of a nothing story where most of the outrage came from the reporter rather than the staff in attendance who were clearly there for the money and seemingly in total control of this rabble of touchy feely strokers who are certain to to say things like ‘I could have shagged her y’know’ in the cab home when the possibility was only in their heads and more remote than your missus when you return from a stag weekend in Amsterdam.

I was going to wax lyrical about the strength of the women that I know and love and how that men are now the weaker sex resigned to beard oil, feelings, pale ale, Ed Sheeran albums, Jack Johnson wicker beach hats and jeans that don’t reach the loafers.

I’m the middle of writing this painfully earnest blog (earnestness being my most hated emotion as I always assume the deliverer is taking the piss) I noticed a Facebook post from a female friend of mine who lives abroad. This post appeared to indicate that she was in London and so in an attempt to call her bluff (as I didn’t believe it) I suggested that she meet me near where I work which is an undisclosed location near Holborn (it’s Holborn).

Within half an hour I was sitting with her in a coffee shop owned by dyslexic Brazilian serving such delights as ‘chess and picle’ sandwiches and piping hot ‘Lates’ having a lovely chat about the old times and the better times. She had called my bluff proving that she was still the funny, intelligent, magnificently gorgeous person I had met nearly 30 years ago.

We had a great half hour chat where we reminisced and caught up and just after she told me I had a ‘hard face’ (honesty, another great attribute) she asked me if I had a blog in the pipeline and so I told her of my plan to be the defender of womankind and to praise my sisters….

….it was at that second that I had a moment of clarity….

Who, and particularly the woman I intended on praising, would give an actual fuck what I thought? Why would anyone give a fuck? My arrogance was staggering.

I went home and consigned my 2,500 words draft to the ‘things that should never be made public’ file and rightly so.

Why would anyone want to know what a bloke with the body of a tin of beans, the vocabulary of a sailor with tourettes and the short fuse of a Doberman with an elastic band around the cobblers thinks about women? All the women I know are better than me on most levels excluding locations of headers I have scored and Van Halen knowledge.

I’ve reported to some outstanding women in my job who had less chips on their shoulders than the men of similar rank, my Mum was a better role model than my Dad, Jen is a stronger individual than I am and my Daughter is funnier than me. Unless there’s a war men are finished…. and even then most wars are carried out at arms length through technology and I’m certain women can press buttons in the necessary order or more importantly choose not to push them at all.

It’s over men, move on, it’s a women’s world and thats probably about right….. we blew it.

So, what to blog about?

My life supporting Arsenal and the kamikaze death dive of the arrogant Frenchman?

No one cares….. not even me…

This blog has limited viewings and is only completed to keep my brain active and to make its five followers occasionally chuckle. My opinion on the Arsenal would immediately halve my readership and would make the completed joke free effort even more or a waste of time.

What then? Ok….. standby…

This blog is about the absolute stinking shithouse that has been the last 9 years of my life.

I’m not talking for everyone, as some people have had a fuckin’ right laugh but I’ve found 40 – 49 to be a monumental catastrophe on a number of levels.

Deaths, illness, loneliness, friendships, work, social life, football, music (God the music). It stunk the place out.

(Hmmm… fear not sweet reader, these musings must have humour or I’ve failed so stay with me)

Obviously this won’t be in depth but merely a rapid ride down shit creek with a snapped paddle, a slow puncture and a half empty water canteen.

My 30’s were outstanding. Absolutely crammed with standout moments. It was the peak decade, football was great, the Arsenal were dominant, the music was legendary, I saw my mates every weekend. It was absolutely top notch and a fantastic laugh from beginning to end. My kids were born in that decade and so it’s the most memorable and importamt one to date.

I celebrated my 30th birthday with a house party where all my mates attended whereas my 40’s started with a low level effort in a pub. It was a portent of things to come. The start of the long slowdown into middle age.

The real trigger has been children.

Kids are great and I’d do anything for them but they become all consuming and change you and your lifestyle forever. It’s not even just you, the roll-on effect is total. You are housebound due to kids and so are your mates who have them. When you can socialise they can’t and vice versa. The bundles of joy are now in control and they can’t even speak. It takes about 14 years to free the shackles and even then you sit in restaurants in the brief moments of adulthood as a couple wondering if the kids are ok.

This, of course, isn’t the same for everyone. Normal people can rely on babysitters within their functional families. I couldn’t. My parents were engaged in a bitter war with each other and pretty much everyone else they came into contact with which included myself.

I was charged for childcare and babysitting for some reason even when my brother wasn’t and so eventually you just become resentful and don’t bother going out. I recall in 2011 only going out with Jen on our own twice that year and on the second occasion I was phoned after three hours and asked how long I was going to be…. pointless if you are staring at a clock pretending to enjoy yourself.

Now don’t get me wrong….I love kids. Kids enhance your life but in retrospect. They change your life in countless positive ways but they also have a detrimental effect on your relationship with the person you chose to have the kids with in the first place. Your relationship suffers as you are no longer a couple but become two individuals dealing with a complete change of circumstance… you lose each other in the carnage.

This isn’t a ‘woe is me’ story or a cry for help but just an example of how fuckin dull my 40’s have been through my own actions of impregnation.

I have a high proportion of friends without children and I now realise why they don’t. I’m not saying I’d want to go back in time as I’ve always wanted to have kids but their lives are infinitely better than mine.

I recall the freedom being incredible, the ability to do what you want when you want. It’s not even selfish as was once thought, it’s normal. Why would anyone really, deep down in the darkest parts of their mind want the drudgery of parenthood when they are free to properly live?

Of course the answer is the daily reward of being a parent. The smile, the laugh or the hug is enough to realise why you did choose it.

Then there’s the social aspect of parenting. In simple terms there isn’t any. Your mates with no kids socialise with your other mates with no kids, (who can blame them?) and you attempt to socialise with other people with kids but it’s almost impossible as calendars can’t be synchronised and even if you manage that, kids craving attention are still present. There is no possibility of stimulating adult conversation without some form of kid related trauma happening at some point so it makes the whole enterprise pointless and in the end you just stop arranging anything at all.

I still pop out for a beer with some hard core merchants but the great nights in pubs with Jen are seemingly long gone for now as is the ‘Band of Brothers’ you spent the previous decades creating.

Parenting is a lonely pursuit for the two parents. You and your partner have no time for each other and your mates dwindle due to circumstance. I’ve found the last 10 years a very lonely time due to an end to a vibrant social life and the inability to arrange stuff due to a lack of babysitting options and the demands of children…. maybe this is a ‘woe is me’ cry for help after all.

The other thing the 40’s brought me in spades was death, illness and misery. An absolutely fucking joyless decade in my life.

My Mother and my mother-in-law both died too early, the tramua of a seriously ill partner and three friends died (two of which were killed). Every year of my forties brought another massive personal hurdle to overcome in the head if not completely outwardly for the general public to view.

I know this happens with age and so expect it to get worse but this was the beginning of a life cycle for me and I’ve never really come to terms with any of it. I still don’t care much for remembering it, being reminded of it or talking about it in depth but I’m forever surrounded and haunted by it. It is my ghost.

I suppose I feel I’ve had my fair share for one life even though that is selfish and stupid as more tragedy will inevitably come.

So what is next, what does my 5th decade bring and will it be different? Are working and getting older all there is?

Of course not….well, I hope not.

There is always light beyond this faux middle class gloom which isn’t really gloom at all but is more the selfish, whining ramblings of a North London ponce. I have however been afflicted by the first signs of male aging.

There are many signs that age is upon you. The classic is not being able to last the night without a pee as the prostate slackens. I don’t suffer from that yet but I have reached the ‘dozing off at 9pm’ stage, the hairy pig-like ears needing constant attention stage, the ‘this drill is the problem’ phase and the purchase of the £25 Fiskars professional watering can stage for a ‘better watering experience’…..utter shit, all of it…. particularly the watering can which never worked and now sits idle like a totem of a lost decade.

Then there’s the clothing. I’ve never oozed sartorial elegance and never will mainly because I see it as irrelevant and my body won’t sign up to it. The best you’ll get from me is an ill fitting suit of maybe the ‘Dad classic’ of shirt with v-neck combo. Basically conservative candidate dull.

Outside of that, I’m usually found mincing about in the cruelly named ‘women repellent fleece’, t-shirt, jeans and some form of mountain climbing jacket for my non active, non mountain climbing life.

The greatest age definer comes in the form of denim. Jeans. At what point do you desist and jump the beige slacks train to certain death?

I’ve done all the jeans, the lot. All shapes and shades and none have fitted me due to my barrelesque carriage and hobbit legs which simply will not accomodate the hipster skinny efforts that don’t reach the ankle. I tried some skinny jeans on once, I thought the kids would die laughing. It was truly horrendous with my junk seemingly visible within them…. it scared me.

The hunt for new jeans is endless and recently culminated in me going full circle to buy ‘Wrangler’ which I assumed had been extinct since Tony Blair walked like a cowboy in the company of George ‘Dubya’ Bush in the 1990’s. Fucking ‘Wrangler’!!! No one wears these… next thing you know I’ll be wearing ‘Lee’ Jeans with a turn up, a capped sleeve t-shirt and some sort of satin finished blouson bomber jacket.

The end is nigh.

Then I engaged in the ultimate old man moment, the sign that you are on your last lap with the dangerous corner not to be taken at top speed.

It was a hot day and I was working locally to my house. I finished earlier than expected and so made my way home. I got off at bus stop which is directly outside a new low budget pub. For some reason I was drawn in to it like a pisshead looking for a chow mein.

I head that way and bowl in confidently and clock everyone as my job trained me to do.

The interior of ad hoc furniture and stainless steel doesn’t put me off and neither does the clientele which seems absolutely shitfaced at four o’clock in the afternoon and consists of men splattered in plaster and paint all drinking individually at a rollicking pace.

I am unphased by the random pensioners scattered throughout who appear to be here simply for warmth (even on a hot day), company and cheap fayre and head to the bar to peruse the options. A frosty pint of Kronenberg at a paltry £2.80 leaps out at me and the Jub behind the ramp delivers the goods.

I take a seat at a high stool near the bar with my headphones on listening to a book I’m too lazy to read in my woman repellent fleece (not a problem as no women are present) and my outward bound coat for my city based life, in my 1970’s shapeless Wrangler jeans and my top end urban rucksack containing fuck all bar an umbrella on a cloudless day and I watch the punters with a view to taking the piss out of them for my amusement.

And then it hits me.

I am one of them. I have become one of the lonely Wetherspooners even after only one visit. I have been assimilated into a world of cheap booze and low rank British curry within seconds.

This wasn’t a fact finding exercise or research, I actually chose to walk in this boozer for a beer….. on my own. I’m not waiting for a train, or killing time before meeting someone or even buying a pint to use the toilet (I won’t use a pub toilet without buying something…. it’s cheating), I seem to have walked into a pub on my own for a drink for no other reason than to have a pint. The Wetherspoon Paradox.

This is something I promised I would never do as it was the old man’s thing and therefore not my thing. I have always made drinking a social event not a solitary pursuit…. to me it’s about laughing and merriment rather than brooding, thinking and the need for booze. I have crossed the Rubicon into old age. Drinking alone with no excuse other than a taste for it is the starting point and may be for some but it aint for me. Next thing you know I’ll be standing at the bar, in a raincoat with a ball of corned beef for a nose sipping on Gold Label Barley wine complaining about everything being better ‘in my day’.

I finish the beer (I’m not completing insane), and leave. I can’t be starting all that shite yet, life must continue and be made to improve.

I see this as the culmination of the decade of dilution where you’re vibrant past is punished for having such a great time in previous decade.

As I said earlier the ‘Band of Brothers’ I was part of has effectively disbanded, through geography, parenthood and in some cases apathy to be replaced with a smaller ‘Specialist force’ operating in smaller theatres of war after work or at football matches.

This team is still gloriously effective and for that I’m grateful. Occasionally the old squad reforms for special events but it’s too infrequent for my liking and so weakens the memory of the glory it once had. An inevitable scenario maybe but I don’t have to like it.

Now this all sounds very grim and I know I sound bitter. I’m not bitter I’m just a bit sad the joy of parenthood seems to go this way, a sort of ‘Walking Dead’ lockdown where little gets in and you don’t get out much.

I wouldn’t change anything about being a parent directly to the kids other than them having to witness Jen being ill and seeing my Mum suffer, that’s was all too traumatic for small brains to take in. But if I could start again I’d insist on more fun for Jen and I as a couple as you lose each other in the job parenthood is.

The payoff of it all are the Christmas mornings or the Birthday faces and the smiles and cuddles, the school plays and the pride of watching ‘the smalls’ become people…..nothing could or has beaten those moments and nothing will. It’s a choice and we made that choice but it’s harder than you think if you havent done it, on a personal level.

And so now the 50’s loom large and I hope for a return to form. There is the possible return of a few troops from foreign fields and maybe a few sleeper cells might reappear from their entrenched nests for an airing on a few more occasions.

I will continue in my role as jester and coordinator and hopefully this new decade will be like when Stallone launched ‘The Expendables’ and new adventures suddenly opened up and extending careers untill knees creaked and the public got fucked off with the stupidity of it.

….and so another ramble ends. Next time I’ll be reporting from the South West where I’ll be taking on the Citizens of Kernow and I expect to leave dripping in tin and pasties as their King.

I’ll go with a joke I recentky saw…. seemed relevant given the length of this effort:

“A man was found guilty of planning a stream of consciousness novel.

He’s just started a 4 year sentence”

Onwards..

Two, Zero, One, Seven…Over…

2017 draws to a close. Good.

So what have we learned from lame duck of a year? Basically the years key message is that stupidity rules the planet on an industrial scale.  Whether that be Brexit, the United States, Football, work or just my life the stupid have  risen to the top.  

Now before every one loses their minds I’m not calling you stupid if you voted for Brexit.  I know very few stupid people and the ones I do know are very stupid indeed. 

If you voted Brexit then that is your right.  That is democracy even though most people now see democracy as utter bollocks and I mean even those that spout it on a daily basis and insist it is essential… except when it doesn’t suit them. I’m not happy to leave Europe but I’m happy with the vote and disagree completely with the notion of another vote just to get the result some of us want.  Blame Camrobot and not voters.
The problem I have is that no Brexiteer I know can give me a real reason as to why they wanted it.  I’ve asked the question a number of times to colleagues who were leavers and I get the tremendous replies of:

“Why not?”

“Something different”

“Fuck Europe”

“Sick of being told what to do by faceless bureaucrats”

That last one is particularly good as we are told what to do on a daily basis by those very types.

Luckily no one I know has said directly to me in a face to face scenario  “too many immigrants” which would cause an issue.  

I was listening to the radio a while back and some jub explained that he voted leave because there were too many brown faces working in Harrow hospital.  

This caller was then asked if he could point out what European country was predominantly filled with brown faces to which, or course, he had no answer.  Basically for a lot of people this is purely a race issue showing the complete lack of understanding of the referendum question. These plums have been hoodwinked by a prick like Farage himself married to an immigrant, of immigrant stock and loaded to the point of stupidity with £80k a year wage, €132k a year pension, £2m house and  £2.2m in an offshore account… a true Englishman. 

Brexit is being dealt with by the inept with the more inept waiting in the wings to step in when it goes wrong inevitably claiming they would have done it differently.  

Comrade Corbyn is as big an ponce as any Tory.  At least the Tories stick to the lust for power at any cost and the right wing agenda whereas Corbyn says nothing of note while personally disagreeing with his own parties actual position on Brexit and a number of other issues… he’s the ultimate for the few (himself and momentum) and not actually the many at all. 

My personal view is that we’ll end up worse off, isolated and struggling to find anyone happy to say they voted to leave but we will have a lovely blue passport that we can hold on to in the endless queues in foreign lands after we alight from our holiday airplanes. It might have been cheaper to issue everyone with a lovely blue passport holder and a book on shouting arrogantly in European destinations rather than actually triggering article 50.

If you think it’s bad here think of our associates over the pond who appear to be under the spell of possibly the most stupid individual ever to have the money to take over a country.

Trump. 

Even the name is comical.  A true idiot, a born and bred dimwit. In reality he should be praised for simply not pissing or shitting his pants on an hourly basis.  

His first year in power has been both hilarious and terrifying due to the massive arrogance and the truly incredible levels of stupidity.  The most recent example of this was his inability to distinguish between climate and general weather in a tweet the other night when it was cold in a city in America.
All this though isn’t his fault.  He’s just a Fuckwit with the cash and the nodding entourage basking in the shadow of his cash swollen hard-on.  The problem is the system in America which enabled this prick to rise up with no experience in a political arena he cannot possibly survive in.  Land of the Free where nothing is Free…

Partially to blame is the robotic ex model wife who happily let’s this oaf bounce on top of her with his rigid acorn for the money as it would be fuckin’ hard to accept that there is any real love or affection in there other than knowing you had access to rooms full of cash on an hourly basis.  

This is the third plastic wife to have stroked his fragile ego. Perhaps if they hadn’t he might be weeping in a lonely hotel room contemplating stringing himself up by his belt while crashing one out over a pile of hundred dollar bills rather than cutting taxes for himself and his the super rich ‘friends’. 

The other problem of course is the stupidity of the voters backing him who believe that because he is successful he must know what he is doing.  

They also believe that if he says it it must be true… his stupidity means he believes this also, in fact this very morning he claimed that he only uses social media as only he can deliver the facts due to press lies and fake news… brilliant. 

Hopefully at some point soon the lack of action and benefit for the plums who voted for him and the investigation surrounding him will see him dispatched to history in disgrace but I’m slightly losing my belief in this as it’s a dangerous game to play slowly… every day he is capable of disaster and so it’s a risk not bringing him down as quickly as possible.  This is my fear… it appears a slow game because there is no game. 

What about me eh?  How was my year?… meh… 5 out of 10 on the back of a 1 out of 10. 

It was the year of the blood letting where I had multiple pints removed due to genetics. 

All rather routine but for some reason it affected my head more than my body.  I suddenly became painfully aware of my own mortality and had a sort of mini breakdown.  Luckily this didn’t involve a thousand quids worth of tattoos, some kind of motorcycle or a new, younger model but went more along the lines of darkened rooms and meditation apps.  I’m not like this so I bit the bullet and had a few sessions in the chair… all fixed now… back to being a hard, nasty fucker.

We holidayed in Portugal as constant readers would know, but much of the year revolved around watching the kids get to the point beyond my control…. the ‘smalls’ are no longer ‘small’… they move on and all you are left with is video footage of squeaky voiced cherubs. It’s heartbreaking but inevitable and the worst part of parenting to date… the loss of the innocent.

There were some highlights.   

I relived my youth with a series of rock gigs.  The Queens of the Stone Age delivered the goods for the Boy’s first concert experience (including witnesseing a punch up) and Royal Blood and the Darkness were suitably heavy.  The best experience however, if not performance, was Hawkwind at the Roundhouse with the Eternal Champion and Lady Lynn where I have never seen so many hippies in one place in my life. Camden was swimming in patchouli, feathers and the bra less.  Men were grizzled and heads were bald but the gig was excellent.  

It didn’t start that way though. When the lights went down and a bloke in a straw hat and the head of a scarecrow shuffled on to launch into a ballad I thought the exit seemed appealing. It was reminicent of a Simple Minds gig in 1993 when they did similar and I was fully prepared to breach the stage in order to punch drummer Mel Gaynor full in the mouth for taking away the adrenalising opening salvo of any rock gig worth my attendance.

Luckily this was the calm before the hippy storm and the band then kicked in with the necessary yoof in the band to deliver a great trippy experience which I’m glad I was at. 

The following day the Eternal Champion and I went up a local hostelry with similar low expectations that I had the night before to see if the Arsenal could somehow stumble their way to a cup final victory.  Bizarrely the team turned up and delivered the goods with a rare display of fight making it the best complete weekend of the year.

Work plodded on.  Not the best year by far with some proper mercenaries joining the team with selfish greedy attitudes bringing it to a grinding halt and the public pulling out some extremely odd decisions in the name of apparent justice but as usual there were moments of mass hilarity.

Over the years I’ve seen a lot in this job.  I’m like Roy Batty in ‘Blade Runner’ without the penchant for poking out eyeballs. It has been top fun but over the last couple of years I’ve not enjoyed it so much through a number of reasons.  I’ve decided to hurl myself back into it headlong next year as if I have to turn up regular, and I do if I want to eat, then I best enjoy it.

It was always my intention to blog a memoir of the fun in my job.  I could never go down that route of slagging it off in a serious way as it is almost impossible to stay serious within it even in the most complex and serious moments it throws up.  
There have been some great stories over the years.  ‘The Readybrek’, ‘House of a thousand cats’, ‘Assualt on Kensington Tower’, ‘The Buckingham Loafer’, ‘The Sleeping Gardener’, ‘Charlie the Grass’, ‘The difficult question’, ‘The Minstrel of Catford’, ‘The Long arm of the Yard’, ‘Bad News in Hoxton’ and many more which I’ll drop in over this years blogs as and when I write them rather than in one massive story. 

To kick us off though here’s a tale from being in other people’s houses looking for stuff. Clearly there will be no specifics or names but it should give you a flavour of what these eyes have seen and why it’s the funniest and grubbiest job in the world.

There was a time when I did a lot of looking for stuff in other people’s houses.  As a team we were doing this 2 or 3 times a week and so we quickly became expert at it.  The main thing you notice in these scenarios is the filth a lot of people live in.   To be fair they tend to be caught cold and if you are anything like me you’d be frantically tidying up prior to any visit in order to maintain the charade that your house is a palace at all times.  

The other thing noticeable when in other people’s houses is the amount of sex toys present.  They are everywhere. Everyone seems to have them and age is not a barrier….all sizes, genders and colours are catered for.  Never seen so much plastic and rubber and it would make you consider purchasing shares in Duracell.

About a decade ago I was involved in a very big operation involving multiple bad guys and lots of money.  The job resulted in lots of mini jobs and so one day we find ourselves in a North London street looking through two properties that were linked by love, crime and Mother Russia.

Property number was a pit. This was the focus of the day.  It’s clear that chummy is caught cold as he is in a worse state than the flat and he’s left solid underwear strewn around a dingy bedroom…proper nutella turnout and in some cases with extra chunk.  He gets carted off and we move on.

Property number two is tidier. We enter with the owner and do the necessary initial sweep.

I enter the kitchen which is surprisingly tidy  but notice multiple dots and splashes of liquid all over the tiled floor.  On closer inspection it’s clear that its multiple blood splashes.  I walk off and inform the bloke in charge who comes in with this Russian princess.

“.. ‘ello, ‘ello, ‘ello.. .what’s all this then?.. says my associate.  (to be fair he didn’t actually say this but I’m paraphrasing for comedic effect).. he points at the blood like Sherlock Holmes seconds before the big reveal….

…the Russian pauses and eyes up the haemoglobin…

“…tis dog….it is bitch…” she says…”…it bleed….from Vaginé..”

She points to the corner where we have failed to see a small horse sized menstruating Rottweiler called ‘Kong’ or ‘Titania’ or something lapping at its own, swollen “Vaginé”.

The dogs looks at us, we look at the dog and then at the owner who is on her knees attempting to mop up the ooze with a white tea towel however she is only managing to move it about in a smear, a bit like wiping your arse with that toilet paper at school that had the consistency of tracing paper… your not dealing with it so much as moving it about…

She stands after the attempted clean up and faces us with a blood soaked tea towel in her hands.  She places the rag on the worktop next to the kettle and says:

“..you have tea?..”

Six men in unison decline politely….

The public…never to be trusted. More stories in future blogs.

And so we reach the last day of the year.  A bit of a “meh” year following the sadness of last year.  That sadness never goes, it’s engrained in the core now but the memories linger in the background rather than at the front so much.  The small inexplicable triggers exist in the form of a sound or a song or a place or a taste but you just have to deal with that and remember the good bits and not the end moments.  To all those friends of mine who have lost this year I raise my glass to them…. the are only gone in the physical… be strong.

I’ve had some fantastic times in the murk this year with the greatest friends.  

An afternoon in a back street in Holborn was particularly memorable for the international turnout of Northern Ireland, Spain, Hong Kong and South London  (wherever the fuck that is). My cheeks hurt with laughing that day especially when threatening our man in Hong Kong with imminent death if he couldn’t find the pub sharpish..

I met some new people this year, reaquainted myself with some old ones and lost a couple… Sadly I wasn’t raised by the Monster to accept being called a ‘cunt’ by anyone who meant it in any way other than affectionate… a sad end to a good friendship but I’m a stubborn old fucker and insist on a certain way of behaviour within mates.  Friends are all and they don’t do that to each other…

So after 23 pints of blood out, 22 books read, 4 gigs attended, 24 Arsenal matches, 2 death wishes, 5 blogs, a realisation that I detest earnestness but love honesty and sleeping and multiple gallons of Guinness and fine wine tonight I say goodbye to 2017….

Enjoy your night and next year let’s put the stupid back in the box where it belongs.

More adventures to come…

Hugs x

…A Monster Calls….

In my head the summer ends as soon as I return to work from whatever hot climate I have laid it for a fortnight.  As a modern Dad I have another week off before the kids go back to school as Jen returns to work. My only real responsibility during this time is to make sure the kids don’t burn the house down.  

This is that week…. ‘Dad Week 2017’

This isn’t my forte, not my thing.  I love my kids more than anything but I’m little use at entertaining them.  Luckily the younger years are over.  Gone are the soft play centre nightmares, the tedious cinema visit with hordes of brats watching substandard non-Pixar animation, the herding of the cats onto public transport and the crayons in the pizzeria.  Now they entertain themselves with electronics or neighbours and my role tends to involve pointing the eating in a healthy direction.

With time on my hands I start preparing for the winter.  I know this sounds drastic but I’m a seasonal planner.  I like to be ready for all of nature’s scenarios and winter is coming regardless of the spectre of the fucking hateful ‘Indian summer’ where the coat balance is destroyed by climate change.

I start in the loft where I see if there is anything I can chuck out since last year. The loft is pushing maximum density but as usual nothing can be binned.  Everything has been deemed ‘special’ and so I am instructed to add to to the carnage with more ‘special’ items in the shape of Action Men and vehicles that no one actually ever played with.  

While I’m in the loft I reposition the winter stuff so it’s in handy reach of the door saving time should there be an emergency Halloween Party of Christmas Tree erection at short notice.  (By the way, ‘Christmas Tree erection’ is an action and not a physical state following the positioning of the final baubel). 

The loft is my responsibility as no one else will enter it as it’s dark, dirty and spider filled.  The storage is now only the eaves so you can add ‘tight’ to the adjectives,  in fact it’s tight like the tunnels under stalag 17, a real ball ache to move in.  Jen first entered the loft upon completion of its conversion into a bedroom and stated that she didn’t see what the issue was.  She avoided 10 years of semi light, dust and crud and the lottery of where you trod… joist or plasterboard?  High tension.  I once fell out of the loft hatch as I didn’t see the hole due to a landing light bring turned off by a well meaning kid saving the planet.   I am their clown.

The eaves are now like the door to the back of Argos behind which a load of shit you don’t need is stored.  I am merely the warehouseman in charge of entering the door to retrieve items that were either never required, not required now or thought long lost. Once a week I’m in there acting on some spurious request for paperwork from 2004 or a photo from 1987.  I’ve found things in there that I don’t even remember buying let alone storing.  It is out of control…

This year I have another task outside of the usual winter ‘nesting’ namely the redecoration of the boy’s bedroom.  The rules of this house are that I do destruction, clear up, storing and painting.  I don’t do preparation as it doesn’t meet the necessary standard laid down by the boss.  I can’t be trusted with prep but am expected to stand on an inappropriate ladder grasping an overfilled paint kettle while ‘cutting-in’ to a high standard which will be scrutinised in silence at a later time.  Luckily this suits me and I make light work of his room ensuring that it will be wipable throughout the ‘one sock’ years.

The main winter task in the sorting of the shed and ludicrously named ‘Summer House’ which is a bigger shed with more windows initially designed for relaxing in but now filled with crap that you need for 45 minutes a summer such as punch bags, football and kites…. y’know the other ‘special’ stuff that doesn’t fit in the loft.

Sheds are massively important in my life.  They are the hub of masculinity.  They need to be filled with weaponry you would associate with a post apocalyptic tundra overrun with the undead.  Slashing, cutting and bludgeoning weapons must be instantly accessible when the door is open.  Tools need to be in boxes similar to an 80′ architects briefcase, must be racked in descending order of height and usefulness and in some cases marked with stickers saying ‘Power drill – heavy torque’ or ‘precision sander #1’ just in case another man needs to see my electric power tool minerals.

The shelves need to be specific to garden, decorating and electrical and you must have a million screws, nails and multiple types of rawl plug none of which marry up and at least 2 saws you never use still in their cardboard sheaths.  If you don’t have this stuff whether you need it or not you are nothing.  

I have an angle grinder set, lump hammer and 12lb sledgehammer which have been used once to break up 6ft of paving.  I recently found a heat gun that has never been used and a glue gun used once incorrectly in panic.  There are socket sets for never fixing a car and wire strippers in case the electrician I employ can’t find his own as I appear to think it necessary to employ the trade and provide the tools. Madness maybe but a necessary madness. 

I’m overjoyed with this year’s set up.  It’s like the gun room Arnie has in ‘Commando’ with the electronic lock where he runs to when the hoods come for him and ‘Chenny’. It is magnificent and full proof shoukd Jen need to find anything before she returns it to the  wrong location. I am a fucking  genius when it comes to sorting shit out and she is the barometer.

I return to the house happy and triumphant and celebrate by making Spaghetti Bolognese and having a cup of tea and a biscuit. 

….And then the phone rang….

My landline rarely rings, it’s only function is the need for the intergoogles, so when it rings it can only be Jen’s 105 year old grandmother, Jen’s Dad, a cold call or chillingly my father.

I check the clock,  1614 hours.  It can only be my Dad who, for some reason has an uncanny knack of knowing when I’m off work.  Of course, I could leave this call but why should I? I live here and there is a possibility that I could be missing out on some PPI or be reminded about an accident I never had.

I pick it up and am instantly assaulted verbally.  

There’s a brief explanation as to who it is in the form of ‘it’s your Dad’ . Talking in the third person is the the classic sign of a nut-job and so he’s off to a convincing start.  I didn’t need this information as I knew it was him, the ring gave it away…the ring and my rising blood pressure and sudden need to smash up my own living room. 

After confirming his existence I ask him what he wants.   

We no longer talk as a conventional father and son would and haven’t done for about 15 years.  We usually have these short-burst violent conversations ending in extended periods of non communication. We haven’t spoken properly since about 2 weeks after the death of my mother when he was possibly the worst human on the planet at that point.  There’s been a few contenders since but he’s still in the frame but little did I know that he was about to surpass his own very high standards of cuntery on a quiet Tuesday afternoon.

‘I want my property back’ he spits….’the property you stole’.

The property in question is some old photos that my Mum gave to me prior to her death.  These pictures are all of random holidays and events and only came in to my possession as she was going to throw them out.  I suggested that she gave them to me and I would scan them so they weren’t lost forever.  They hold no real value…. but this fucker ain’t getting them as he doesn’t deserve them like he didn’t deserve my Mum.

I give him the bad news in a calm, deliberate manner  totally ignoring every urge to unleash the fury placed genetically within me from the Devil himself on the end of the phone.  In some ways I’m Hellboy.  The Spawn of The Goat yet desperate not to bring on the destruction of mankind in favour of beer, chicks and hot dogs.

He don’t like my answer much as it disobeys a direct order from the Patriarch but fuck him , I’m no longer 12. He then dishes out a torrent of abuse which if I wasn’t the recipient of I may have well clapped. 

Where shall I start?

It would appear that I have always been a ‘wanker’ or ‘pig’ who he lost control over when I was 18. At that point he reckons I started poncing off other people in order to survive.  These ‘other people’ seem to be my ex girlfriends who’s names he gets wrong and in the wrong order.  Without them I was nothing, ‘not a man’, ‘unable to survive’ as having a joint mortgage is a failing of manhood apparently.  This fucker never had a mortgage as booze was more important than bricks and mortar but no matter…we move on.

Next up I’m a liar.  No specific examples of the so-called lies are given other than everything I say now, then and in the future.  For all my failings and there are a few, lying ain’t one of them.  I’m almost too honest and made many a mistake sticking to the family motto of:

“Ní dóigh leat é, a rá”

….which roughly translated from the Gaelic is:

“Don’t think it, say it”

(For clarification we are only vaguely Irish and there is no family motto as there is no family.  I added it as a break in the misery.  If there were a family motto it would probably be ‘Shut the fuck up’ or ‘what did you say?’)

My honesty is out there.  I’ve seen experienced operatives weep from facts delivered face to face, women cringe from straight talking that would never work, children cower when things explained plainly.  If you want a straight answer to a real question I will give you it but you might not like it.  I’ve made it my business to do this since adulthood so there is no ambiguity and my words actually mean something.

Of course I’ve lied, everyone lies at some point whether it be to not hurt feelings, pretend Father Christmas is coming, that someone elses baby is beautiful, to let a waiter know that the food was lovely or thr existence of a family motto.  It’s human nature but as a rule I keep it as real as possible.

‘Liar’ is followed by the more disturbing ‘Thief’.  Hmmm….. that’s a big word.  A word worthy of a smack to the mouth…minimum.  It certainly ain’t a word you throw around for a laugh. After the word ‘Stinking’ is added to ‘Thief’ I decide to delve a little deeper to establish the nature of the alleged thievery.

Inevitably this comes down to money and the few pennies Mum managed to cobble together far enough away from the old man’s whiskey glass wielding hands and the pub we believe he was keeping afloat somewhere in North London.

There’s nothing sinister going on here.  I distributed the pennies according to the instructions I was given by my Mum as the appointed executor of the estate. At all times everyone affected was informed of the actions taken.  

But now he’s not happy and I’ve ‘filled my pockets’ and ‘stolen’ the money completely forgetting that he received a sizable chunk but has probably spent it on shit. Now he wants what was left for Mum’s grandchildren.  He explains through various insults that I have it wrong and that money is his and never meant to be given to the young for their futures and was supposed to be used for a car but as the driver of that vehicle is dead he should receive the cash.  Almost like a prize…

Luckily he is faced by a less aggressive and evil version of himself and so I simply fact blast the stroker into silence.  There is absolutely no way any money sent to the grandkids is being reallocated to him to piss down the kharzi.  I stand firm which is relatively easy and simply involves the repeat of the single word ‘No’. As I was brought up in a house of professional, stubborn, nasty fuckers of which he was King I am effectively the Sorcerers Apprentice but with added calm and so he is now floundering.

If you know me you will realise that I’m pretty on top of stuff like this and so after dealing with the funeral and all my Mum’s affairs I have a meticulous audit trail with all receipts and transfers recorded.  I actually planned for this exact moment which I predicted 14 months ago when the fake tears of this monster dried up. 

I’ve been like this for years, anal to the point of lunacy with the memory of an elephant.  

It all began when I started playing Amateur football and kept a record (initially in print) of the 676 matches, 275 goals (only 8 headers, 2 in finals), 5 red cards (3 for fighting, 2 for foul and abusive language), 6 concussions, 7 lost semi finals, 3 cup wins, 2 league titles, 2 Golden boots and one brother suspended from the club.. you get the idea.  

I’m not worried about the threat given of a police investigation into theft or a misappropriation of funds which this conversation has now descended into and he knows it and so he comes out with this pearler before hanging up the phone.  

“…I hope you die screaming….”

*click

I listen to the dialling tone for a moment before clicking the phone off.  

This is a line he used to say to my Mum during rows and arguments and he effectively got his wish with her so it cuts to the core.

This is the sort of insult that stays with you.  I’ve had all the others and due to my upbringing, combatative nature, employment and location I expect and accept them.  Not this though.  This is beyond the pale and from the lips of my father.  This is beyond human acceptability and something you could only say to someone threatening your family. 

The main thing is it was the last straw.  Why would I want myself to be associated with a person like this? And even more pressing why would I want my kids to be involved with this person because eventually he’ll be saying this stuff to them.

For years my Mum suggested the old man had a screw loose but I don’t believe that.  He has had enough professional assessment of his swead over the years to fill a medical conference and at no point has anyone said he is anything other than lucid.

What you get from my Dad is horror and the ability the crush people mentally.  He is a mind bully and always has been.  He single handedly destroyed all aspects of what could have been a slightly functional family through his own twisted mentality which is far more damaging than any slap you could ever give.

My Mum had this shit for decades and in the middle we, the sons and brothers got it, the brain washing of fear and hate.  This made us all slightly mad and uncompromising resulting in no communication and more dislike and hate of each other.  In the end my Mum almost became him with similar traits of aggression, jealousy and spite.  That was the saddest part of her death… the Mum I knew and loved was gone and was replaced by a carbon copy of the thing she disliked the most.

The death of a parent would usually bind a family together but it just made an unbearable situation worse if that was possible.  Nobody gave a fuckin inch as we were trained to never step back, it was the ultimate standoff.

I struggled badly after Mum died.  It is almost impossible to explain loss if you haven’t actually experienced it.  The simplest things become magnified into huge emotional struggles.  The lack of a phone call or birthday card, the random unwanted visit or advice on parenthood, all gone forever.  I went through a phase of seeing Mum in all kinds of places  even though that was impossible.  It’s amazing how similar old women can look when you are suffering deep grief.

In the wake of all this I was referred for Grief Counselling with a lovely Irish woman.  I was very sceptical but Jen insisted I went as she was sick of me banging on about my Dad as the issue.  I agreed as I was sick of her telling me to just ‘forget it’.

I had three sessions and it was apparent immediately that I was right and he was the issue.  Towards the end of the final session  (I decided it was the last session, an endless amount were available) she asked me if I wanted to see my Dad again to which I said ‘No’.  I waited for the big reveal, the pearl of wisdom where she would explain to me that engaging with him was the answer but to my shock she said:

“Then don’t, stop beating yourself up and move on with your own family”

Even a professional could find no positive…

The level of nastiness and hate within my Dad is incredible and seems to revolve around a belief that as he was involved in your birth he owns you forever. If I thought I would ever think that or say such a thing as he said to me this week to one of my kids I would take myself away from them forever. He thrives off it, it is the fuel that keeps him going.  But no more, this well is dry and so now there will be nothing for him from me except emptiness and the end.

Anyway, if you think that is depressing think on…. Next time I’ll be talking about The Arsenal and my association with it for 40 years and where we go after the humiliation at the hands of the Mickey Mousers…

More crud later.. .

…The Scotch, The Witch and The Barbecue…

We start the second week in Portugal with a trip to the market town of Loulé.  If I’m not walking around a market at some point on holiday I’ll assume I’ve been abducted.  This is standard operating procedure. Jen loves a market and I am merely man and therefore limply compliant and the carrier of cash.

Like heroin Loulé is very Moorish. Turrets and scimitars are everywhere.  There also seems to be a preoccupation with Cork in the form of hats, shoes and bags which is a phenomena I never knew existed.

Loulé is old school with cobbled lanes, a museum and an old church.  The main drag is a bit more modern and the food market is found in a large central building.  Outside this building sit the Bikers.  Comedy bikers rather than ‘ you looking at my old lady? I’ll stab you in the throat’ bikers.  They all own shiny hogs rather than anything you should be scared of with lots of preening and cum-catcher taches rather than a bowie knife down the back of the jeans. I brush them aside and enter the market.

Inside the market is split in two.  The first half is all chilled sherry and wine, lovely cooked ham and leather bangles while the second half is fresh fish. 

It’s 94 degrees.  I’m in a non refrigerated municipal building where dead fish are being sold.  It is humming.  It’s truly horrendous and cloying to the point of gaggery.  The boy and I make a swift exit to an adjacent outdoor market selling tat.

We breathe in the cool air and the boy leaves me to find humself a drink.  I mooch about looking at the stalls.  It’s all fairly low level but friendly enough….and then I see it…

The Witch.

Through the crowd, hunched with the lumpy spine of a cat after being hit by a car, it appears. She must be about 150 years old. She’s wearing a head scarf off kilter has a lazy eye and a rictus grin She shuffles with a walking a stick which looks like someone’s hip bone, is about three and a half feet tall and looks like a less attractive Yoda. She passes through with the crowd dispersing like a shoal of fish when breached by a Tiger shark.  She is oozing rural Portugal from every crag. It’s the kind of hick that could break a pigs neck with a stern look back in her 30’s.  She’s no longer in her 30’s, she is now as old as time and smelling like it with skin like a well worn leather chesterfield in a gentlemen’s club in Pimlico.

She saunters into my fighting arc and I go all ‘side on’ to minimise the target should she lunge for my throat. She needs my iron rich blood to feed her crispy ravagged carcas in order to survive another decade.

She wafts past and straight behind the ramp of a fruit and veg stall without anyone stopping her.  She starts to stroke and finger the produce which forces my stomach to churn…she bends forward, a feat defying gravity given the throbing hump atop her rickerty spine and I am suddenly in line to get a full view of the oldest sand sniffers I’ve ever had the misfortune to spot. These are Snoopy noses from a bygone age, piping bags after completion of a particularly elaborate wedding cake… they are empty and wouldn’t feed a hungry sparrow. 

Perhaps she has a nice personality but I’m not seeing it from the evidence so far.  She’s more likely living in a gingerbread house gnawing on the bones of long lost kids or dicing up a frog’s eye for the pot.

I spot the boy and insist we return to the relative safety of the pungent fish market and the never ending haggling Jen is engaged over some leather bangles, either that or I stay here, find a bucket of water a slay the Witch of Loulé and face incarceration in a flimsy Portuguese prison.

..Fly you fools….

The back streets of Loulé are beautiful, idyllic and are really the reason why you would visit. It’s like when you first see a Cornish fishing village and you realise that postcards are sometimes perfect depictions.  This is like that except with heat … marvellous.

Then it is beach time…..my nightmare.  I hate beaches, always have.  Messy, uncomfortable dirty places filled with over ripe people burning.  I’d rather be by a pool with a bar even if it means swimming in a the human soup that is the shared pool.  However once more my opinion is irrelevant and so I find myself loaded up like a pack horse walking on hot deep sand towards hours of misery.

It’s not very busy confirming my view that most people see this as utter shit.  A few diehards are near me, dark mahogany sunseekers soaking up the power of the fireball.

I lie on a bumpy beach towel with a dead arse and sand between my broken toes.  All four of us are huddled under two small parasols as the blistering heat too dangerous to sit directly in.  I look around and spot the cool box.  I whip out a Super Bock mini, 200ml of lifesaving man juice only to find the fucking thing is warm like tea. The cool box has failed it’s primary function and needs to be smashed and added to the plastic sea before me to choke another type of humpback.

I’ve always hated beaches. Too many shit times in the wind, rain, sun and sleet  (Blackpool). 

The worst time was in Futreventura when I was with some lunatic who loved beaches so much so that she managed to get me on a beach primarily but not exclusively for nudists.  I sat there and she lay there like a spatchcock chicken.  To disassociate myself with her I rolled over on the sunbed and was almost embedded in the junk of a rather overly nourished German woman as she bent over next to me.  It was like looking into the face-hugger pod in “Alien” seconds before the explosion of violence.  The old chestnut of a ‘badly packed kebab’ loomed large…..very large with aromavision.

You can stick beaches right up your hoop…..I’m not having it.  Of course this view wasn’t aired on the actually beach and I was forced to endure a mere 4 hours before we were released for good behaviour.

Back at the ranch we decide to eat in and use my associates BBQ from the secret ‘family cupboard’ which he has kindly given me the key for.  This Aladdin’s cave is filled with booze and supplies which I can use with instructions  that I replace what I use.  Of course I do this plus as I’m partial to the over-the-top gesture to boost my standing in society.

I get the BBQ out find it ain’t no Homebase shoddy effort made from partially flammable metal, this is a Weber.  It looks like a monster truck all shiny and robust.  I feel like a King.

We knock up some kebabs and tentatively use the beast only to find that I have forgotten to remove a part from the bottom which was simply there while it was in storage. This has now melted due to falling embers.  I have soiled his family cook out kit.  

The part in question appears to be a briquette scoop which you use if you are too scared to get your hands dirty and also appears to be completely unavailable either in Portugal or on-line.  Some bloke in Cleethorpes has one for sale for a fiver but he won’t deliver abroad as he’s from Cleethorpes and so scared of the modern postal system.

This is a quandary so we leave the apartment in order to hunt down the required scoop in an area which, to my knowledge, only has one cash machine and no post box…. I’m not optimistic.

The second BBQ retailer I stumble across is manned by a very smiley lady with perfect English.  To date I am yet to speak to anyone who actually only speaks Portuguese. I’m sure the Witch of Loulé would never have uttered a word of the Queens but I weren’t keen on an interaction that would have put me in the vicinity of her let alone her herring laced breath.

Smiley woman approaches me and seems concerned with my situation.  She knows what we need and disappears behind a door returning with the exact item I need.  She has saved me.  I pull out a stinking, sweaty wad of Euros as no amount of money will be enough to purchase this essential part of 21st  century outdoor cooking.

‘No charge’ are the beautiful words from her sweet mouth followed by ‘enjoy your holiday’. I could have hugged her.  

I’m not in to slagging off Britain with stories of overseas generosity as I love my country and see our rudeness as a thing tourists come for but this is the second time in 8 days that I’ve been taken aback in a situation that didn’t deserve assistance.  Well done the Portuguese….

This holiday has mostly been taking in from the poolside.  It was a lovely pool.  Proper rectangle rather than some odd shape to make the resort look interesting when we only want the water. The pool has a lovely bar where I have spent a great time relaxing with a beer or a cider to escape the searing heat. The pool brings a lot of ammo to my gunbarrel eyes.  

First up we have the ex cockney footballer with the two knee scars ‘proving’ he played.  He talks to anyone prepared to listen about this but he’s wary of me as my face says ‘don’t be a mug’.  At one point he walks past me on the phone and says ‘yeah I’ll triple that amount of money..’ while looking at me, winking, and mouthing ‘awight mate’.  I remain non awed as a swift kick to the scar would surely incapacitate the stroker. These are the things you learn on the amateur football pitch, not a well time tackle but simply the targeting of scars and fresh bandages to reduce the opposition to ashes.

Bullying Dad rocks up with two little kids and a wallflower wife.  He says things to the kids like ‘when my lips are moving and I’m looking at mummy you don’t interupt’.  Kids interupt. Little kids, medium kids, big kids…its a thing they do… live with it.

This bloke also has his own flippers a true sign of massive poncery unless you whip then out in a boat with an aqualung.  Grown men with flippers in a swimming pool are unacceptable.  I can only imagine the justification for this:

“..I like my flippers Angela, I need my flippers and I will be bringing my flippers so help me God…I swear it on my children’s eyes !!!!…”

Prick.  He’s also a bloke with an overly large lens on his camera which he uses to take pictures of his kids swimming which seems excessive for some Holiday snaps never to be viewed again.

Most of the nut jobs can be found at the bar. I’m at the bar.  The bar is where it’s at.  

One afternoon I’m situated directly in the middle on a high stool.  To my left is an old Welshman with a comedy nose and moustache combo.  He is alone and drinking a small beer as is the name in this bar for a half, I’m minding my own business while I sweat my cobs off with a large beer.

My holiday routine was to read, listen to music sunbathe, play with the kids in the pool (my kids) and then go to the bar to make notes to write these ramblings.  I’m not interested in in-depth conversations unless I engage with the barman who should be my only friend due a centuries old mutual assistance programme of merriment for money.

The Welshman catches my eye and intimates to the football on the TV.

“I see you are a Spurs fan”.  

I instantly put him straight and immediately regret it as the barman clearly is a fan of that rabble and now sees me as the enemy.  I inform Welshie that I am the other half of North London and I’m then forced to listen to an anecdote regarding a former Arsenal player at a golf tournamrnt that is so tedious that I nearly walk out on him mid sentence.  

I’m not a rude fucker so I smile and simply ‘zone out’ even when he enters my immediate area to whisper obscenities to enhance the story to a ‘blokey’ level.  He’s clearly short of mates and reveals his entire work and family history in a short 3 minute burst with me just nodding and randomly laughing at inappropriate moments to see if he actually gives a shit.

I am saved when a local and a Swede who appear to know him and want to talk to him come to the bar.  I am now redundant as a verbal punch bag and happily go back to watching the football.  

All three leave after the Welshman taps me on the arm and says he’ll see me ‘again’ and I politely smile and hold up a hand in a fake gesture of new found friendship…..we won’t interact again….ever.

Before the main act I’m randomly joined by some blond bloke who wants a chat.  He’s a Chelsea fan so may as well have spat directly in my face and stole my beer however I’m on holiday so keep a lid on it.  

In true newbie Chelsea fan fashion he tells me that he enjoys going to Fulham more than Chelsea instantly proving that he’s not a Chelsea supporter at all but, in fact, an idiot.  We have a frantic chat about the price of football and after a handshake he leaves me to go see his blah, blah, blah I couldn’t give a fuck, tell someone who cares…

During this conversation two bald, tattooed fuckwits enter and sit directly next to me at the bar.  Here we go….. Scotchmen..

Both these blokes are considerably over refreshed with the younger one being absolutely mangled to the point of falling off the stool and into me. I prepare for the worse…..a conversation. Here it comes preceded by a nudge…

‘…hey!!… you….Big Man!!….’

‘Big Man’ is scotch for ‘Fat Bastard’.  You know it, he knew it and I knew it. It is internationally recognised as the Celtic opening greeting when either starting a fight or avoiding one.  I put this to a friend of mine that I met up with on this trip.  He rightly pointed out that ‘Big Man’ is far better than ‘wee man’ which is only said with contempt and not a hint of fear.

I turn to my new N.E.D associate with my most arrogant London English look and note he is smiling with a few stumps visible making his tongue look like a prisoner. He points at the screen.. 

‘…yer… (points at me)….ar yer a Wist Am Cont?…’

The entire bar stiffens. The piped europop ceases… Children run….women weep…our oasis has been invaded by The Barbarians of the C-Bomb. The barman watches….

Focus and calm is required here.  ‘Begbies’ senior and junior are waiting for a response and the old one, bald, craggy and wearing massive shades, looks particularly interested in whatever I’m about to rustle up.. 

No, No, No my toothless haggis eating numbskull, I am a follower of The Arsenal Football Club from London, Seat of power and home to the ruler of your barren nation”

…something like that anyway…. 

This throws them both and I’m met with laughter and a stream of conversational vowels where the only recognisable words are ‘cont’, ‘fook’ and ‘clunge’.  

At this point the owner of the bar, a very friendly Englishmen steps in and informs these two that no swearing is allowed in the bar as there are kids floating about.  The younger one looks at me and says:

…is tha cont reet? Ama fuckin swerrin?…”

I reply in the affirmative and he says ‘cont’ again before they both leave mid pint (worst crime of the lot) explaining that they are scotch and so blameless.

A calm returns to the bar and I am once again alone with Super Bock.

You may be under the false impression that I had a bad holiday.  I didn’t, I had a fantastic holiday but you can always find fun in the public which is why I started this blog.

Portugal is a beautiful place full of friendly accommodating people and stunning beaches. The weather was the best I’d ever had abroad and my colleagues apartment and the resort it was on were both magnificent. The downside was the cost and, surprisingly, the food which were both expensive and average in equal measure. 

Now I sit at home on the edge of a return to work looking at Jen wrapped in a throw on the sofa listening to the rain smash against the window.. .

Bollocks..

More stuff in time….

..Quanto para esse rim?..

Holidays.  I’m not really a fan.  Shipping your life to a new location for two weeks seems like a massive ball-ache to me no matter where you go to ‘relax’.  Whenever I’ve returned I’m generally skint and tired with few long term good memories.  Football tours, stag weekends, family holidays, they all do the same for me….basically little.

This all started when I was a kid.  Fueding parents begrudgingly taking us away to low level venues in Cornwall was the standard.  There’s nothing wrong with Cornwall at all but some of the venues we stayed at were poor.  

I remember a particularly bad one in the garden of a mechanics house in Hayle where we were surrounded by old tires and petrol tanks.  My mum went mental but we remained there as we had made it all the way there by car and so were captives.  The perils of Daltons Weekly where all you get is a well positioned photo and a weekly price prior to sending the deposit to show commitment.

These parental trips were of there time.  They mostly involved sitting on luke warm, windswept beaches where pater would dump us prior to finding himself a pub to drink in alone or bully the locals. 

Then there were the excursions.

A trip to a castle where we were once shepherded back to the car while being shouted at for standing to close to the edge of a battlement after we ‘were warned’.  I recall sitting outside a British Legion in the rain in Falmouth with my Mum on one occasion while the old man drank within.  No women allowed but his attendance was essential.  I also recall an entire day spent in the holiday home looking out the window at the rain for no other apparent reason than that’s what the old man fancied doing or the full blown argument in a shop on a seafront after my Dad insisted on purchasing a portable hot plate so Mum could cook burgers in a beach shack.  Rightly, she refused and all hell broke loose in a shop on holiday… glory days indeed.

I won’t slum it now and neither will my tribe.  If you’re going on holiday go nuts and laugh a lot.

So here I am.  Portugal. The Algarve. The only hoy plates will be my flip flops.

I wasn’t going to write a series of blogs about this trip as it’s a bit sensitive but then I thought fuck it, I’m on holiday….I can do what I want.

The sensitivity comes from the fact that the accommodation is owned by a colleague I’ve worked with for 14 years and I’m keen not to upset or embarrass him.  Fear not sweet Northern Prince the apartment and complex is of high quality and meets the stringent standards that Jen demands. I have nothing but plaudits for this place, the facilities and the staff all of which are fantastic.

Let’s start from the beginning.  We flew from Southend Airport a place so deserted and punter free that I suspected I was in some kind of Zombie apocalypse where I might be required to learn how to fly a plane. When we arrived we were the only people at the check-in desk, a far cry from our previous trip to Spain where I was one of thousands standing in line fighting for a boarding pass before the scrutiny of a surly check-in dolly looking for extra wedge due to s bag being a gram over weight.

We make it through swift enough and head for a prolonged stay in the departure lounge where like proper gypsies we eat pre made egg sarnies much to the embarrassment of the kids. 

The airport is airport dull and bland with nothing of note to report.  On the upside it is almost empty meaning that I can freely move through duty free ignoring everything and complaining to myself that the sunglasses are overpriced and toblerones used to be bigger.

I head to look at the runway and to a face to face with my nemesis, the plane.  God I hate flying.  I figure if I look at it long enough I will become one with it Like Cherokee Indian and eagle….

Much to my shock they are not refuelling a rickety beast with logs and I’m confronted by a shiny orange and white plane looking rather new and robust.  I stare into its windscreen, we become one and it realises I am its King…

I return to the tribe and drag  them Into the Bar To kill some time before the flight.  Jen, who is not used to unscheduled pub visits nurses half a Strongbow for 2 hours while I sink G like a bloke about to die in a plane crash….

The flight itself is smooth and uneventful as usual although I did notice that the female staff we infinitely more masculine than the men playing completely into the hands of the comedy writers stereotype.  As usual I had the traditional  Bloody Mary and was asked if I wanted vodka in it… what kind of ship were these jokers running?

We land and get the hairdryer treatment before  decamping to a bendy bus to the terminal.  There must be a better word than ‘terminal’ when planes are involved surely?  How about ‘safe zone’ or ‘happy place’ or simply ‘ground zero’? Ok maybe not ‘ground zero’ but something else.

We then hit the first problem on Portuguese soil.  Passport Control or ‘Brexit revenge’ as it will now be known.  It took an hour to get through with a few hard yet bored looking fuckers in uniforms slowly scanning shit while us, the pasty, queue like good Englanders… You fucker Farage.. . I hope you get your Cherman passport Obersturmbannfürher…. you deserve it.

We get picked up by a bloke holding a sign with Jen’s name on and after 25 minutes I’m in my colleagues rather splendid apartment.  All is good but there is no scoff….. to the facilities we head!!

I enter the pool bar area of this complex and have my first Interaction with the Portuguese.  Lovely bloke. No food available but he keeps the kitchen open especially for us. This would never happen in England.  We are a nation of shopkeepers but closed means closed…filth.

Years ago when I was a kid I came out of a chip shop after school with my bag of chips and saw the bus I needed.  I ran with the chips and  got to the doors of the bus as the driver closed them.  I tapped politely on the doors and the driver, who from memory looked like the lead singer of 70’s novelty act ‘Mud’ resplendent in aviator shades, mullet and fringe, smiled, laughed shook his head and pulled away with me standing there.  I was incandescent with 12 year old rage. I binned the chips without touching them and attempted to race the bus to the next stop, as I’m running I’m briefly parallel to the driver who is laughing likes a maniac and staring at me… he pulls away and goes straight past the next stop leaving me chipless and walking home.  This is the kind of service I expect.

We have a reasonable snack and I ignore the €50 cost as I feel he did us a favour however this was merely a taste of the expense yet to come.

Next morning we head to the pool and have a fun day.  I’ve never been a beach person, too messy, and so the pool suits me fine. At this point we have no car so decide to eat out in the early evening at a beach side eatery. 

We arrive about 1830 hours to find enough empty seats to fill us with hope.  

I’m then informed by a very serious fucker that I should have booked.  This tends to be standard when a venue is attempting to create a mythical or legendary status even when my eyes see enough empty tables to accommodate my mob 4 times over.  Unsurprisingly they find us a table within a minute under the threat that we need to be out in 2 hours before the beautiful people arrive as it is reserved.  Presumably if I book a table on a Monday for the Friday night everyone inbetween gets the warning to leave by the time it is required… available is available…end of. 

We sit and I survey the scene.

It’s villian heavy with lots of tattoos on show and plastic women with expensive racks, flowing white dresses and chunky gold bangles and necklaces.  The walls are covered with photos of D list celebs and footballers enjoying a drink in the venue.  I see two Arsenal footballers in one of the pictures…. these same two players opened the local Milkshake shop near my house in London so I ain’t feeling too special.

We are given menus and the prices are extortionate but we are hungry and now trapped unless I go catatonic and shuffle out in silence.

I order my first steak in 8 months which arrives too swiftly to be enjoyed.  Nothing worse than being smashed through your dinner in record time in order for the owner to fill your seat with a more sparkly human who will bring him grovelling circa photo opportunity.

The plate before me is hardly inspiring.  There are no Masterchef micro herbs to make gurning professional eater Greg Wallace lose his muck.  It’s simply a slab of flesh with a wet sauce brushed with a hint of mushroom.  Fries accompany it  (although I’m sure I read ‘sauté’ potatoes) but not even a sniff of a cucumber or clump of cress keep it company in the side salad department.  It is bereft of greenery.  I finish the steak and feel as satisfied as Gillian Taylforth’s old man in a layby with a random stomach ache when the polis tap on the window. I might give up steak for good after this as I’ve realised it isn’t essential in my life.

We have a bottle of house Rosé with the meal, which was gone quick due to endless refilling to shuffle me out and I’m swiftly brought the bill with almost a finger pointing to the door and a stare that says ‘get out ugly!!’. 

I’m in the building 45 minutes and I’m €150 lighter which within the current exchange rate is like for like with sterling. I had planned to deficate on the threshold in protest but upon seeing me into my belt Jen insisted we just left without leaving a tip.

This pattern continues over the next couple of days and with the inclusion of car hire, shopping a couple of lunches and one more meal out I find myself €1,000 worse off.  

Don’t get me wrong, I expect to spend large on holiday but over a longer period of time.  This opening salvo has sucked the joy out of me and I need to find the enthusiasm to continue.  A small Pimms and a G &T by the pool for €15 doesn’t help but at least I had Gordon’s and not Hendricks at €11 alone.

We regroup.  Tea and Ham flavoured Ruffles fix everything.

To escape this expense bubbke we take a day trip to Albufeira down the coast to gauge the opposition clans.  

Albufeira has a lovely beach but the town centre reeks of wild west after dusk.  The heavily tattooed are everywhere and I’m getting a whiff of England with every step.  So much so in fact that an Irish theme pub appears.  ‘O’Daleys bar’ stands before me in the form of a sign with full smiling leprechaun holding a Guinness. I’m a plastic paddy but I’m not certain I’ve heard the name O’Daley before so assume it’s a Portuguese  bastardisation to suck in the Guinness lover. 

Noticeably beer is cheap and class is secondary.  A pint is exactly half the price from where I’m staying so I’m certain the night descends into chaos and blood at some point followed by a deep wash down and burying of the bodies before the next busload of toothless appear to drink the place dry.  Everything I touch seems wipable as speed is essential when fleecing the masses and no one is prepared to pay for a ‘caution: cleaning in process’ sign.

Perhaps I’m too harsh. The old town part is cute and cobbled with shops and Russians smoking heavily while carrying crates of Super Bock… standard Margate/Southend/Hastings fair where no one stays for long do you can just treat it like a prison riot.

We return to our ranch for an entertainment evening which means a curry buffet and music from a band called the ‘Daddy Jack Band’.

The food is a standard buffet curry catering for the non spice lover.  In reality you can’t make a super hot curry for the ‘all you can eat’ crowd as you might br left with a bucket of Lamb Karahi with a shelf life of 24 hours so everything is moderate at best.

‘Moderate’ would be a good word to describe the band.  They can clearly all play but it’s the set list that needs smothering.  

When you’re a kid who likes music like I did you dream of walking out to the massive crowd like a Rock God.  It’s a goosebumps enducing image. The adoration, the worship, the power…. sadly I can neither sing not play a note and so all this crud is merely in my head where it will stay until the inevitable mid life crisis where I buy a guitar and just look at it until I die insisting on burial with ‘Joylene’ described in the eulogy as my ‘favourite guitar…

I look at the band.  They are all broken.  The guitarist looks like a bloke who wants to left rip large but is hampered by the need to earn coins and needs to play ‘this shit’ for ‘them fuckers’. The singer is the real cracker here though.  He’s wearing a hat, a white trilby which is too small.  He’s also sporting a wispy Jay Kay from Jamiroquai beard in a fruitless attempt to add personality to his spindly body.  Best of all is the Portoguese/ Americanized accent where we, the people, are ‘guys’ and they, the band are ‘the fellas’. 

Then they start to play.

Do you remember that scene in the ‘Blues Brothers’ where Jake and Elwood track down their band and find them as lounge act ‘Murph and the Magictones’ playing ‘quando quando’ in a soul destroying dump all dressed in pink velour lounge suits?  This is similar. Decent musicians smashed to bits by the circuit, knocking out American rock/pop for a ‘no reaction’ crowd full of average curry.  You can almost see the life falling out of the bass player, he is being drained of essence with every chord he plays.

The opening track is that fuckin Santana song with that warbling ponce from Maroon 5 a band who need immediate destruction.  It’s the kind of music toothless Americans drive across the states listening to under the banner of ‘Road music’. It’s Tesco checkout music, the last minute purchase by demented mothers thinking it will help them get through another day of screaming kids before it’s Pinot Grigio o’clock and the lighting of the tea lights while rocking out to their perception of Rock.  Shit..

My ears are being assaulted by whoops and cries of ‘..C’mon!!…’ and singing in the form of some kind of pig latin / Porto-Yank hybrid that spews up the odd recognisable syllabul…. truly horrendous.  All the while the band play on with as much vigour as Stephen Hawking attempting to juggle cats.

We, the assembled mob, are then asked to lamely clap alone like old people in a care home sun room as they reach a keyboard led extended outro. The ‘singer’ tells us to get to out feet…. he’ll need a gun and a dog to get me up but he knows that after our eyes briefly meet….

I look at the kids.  They are chewing their knuckles in cringe.  As the singer launches into some Ed Sheeran based car crash I rise to my feet and without looking around know that my tribe is with me. 

The band are full Sheeran as we walk through the gate leading to the apartment.  The band all watch us leave like we have escaped from Colditz in broad daylight… we are gone but they do not have ‘zee necessary paperz’ and so will continue with the tunnel at a series of venues in the Algarve area for the remainder of the ‘war’. The bassist almost holds his hand up in recognition of our bravery to do what he cannot, simply walk out without looking back in the name of human decency.  I feel for him but he chose this shit and so deserves a slow death in a Chris Evans Radio 2 playlist. 

Week one ends with me downing Rosé like R Whites…..things are looking up.

Next time I’ll be tackling beaches, Portuguese cuisine, the witch of Loulé and an afternoon where drunk strangers would not leave me alone… all this if I can have a kidney removed to fund the final week..

…Bolloticks…..

Another election looms. Another chance to choose a side. Another load of unreal promises and lies to withstand. Another social media bombardment from the do gooders and keyboard warriors who will accuse you of ‘not caring’ or being ‘scum’ for not agreeing with whatever opinion you might have even if you haven’t expressed it.

Another visit to the scout hut it is then. Another night of analysis on all the channels followed by days and weeks of moaning from the losers, whoever they are, with statements like ‘I didn’t sign up for this’ and ‘not in my name’…

Democracy….. outstanding stuff… But not liked by everyone it seems.

This will be my eighth general election as a voter. There have been other votes but this is the big one. Do you really give a toss who is on the card for the local council? Probably not. Do we really care about whether the Scots want their much-mooted Freedom? Not really. Do we really care whether we are in Europe or not? ahhh…. now here’s the issue. We should and we did care and that is what brought us to this massive cluster fuck.

Brexit….

The manifesto promise of a puffy faced, Old Etonian ponce looking to extend his non-working career. If anyone is to blame it was this prick.

For now though we have to deal with the General Election which has coughed up, gagged and spewed out two of the least likeable humans ever to have existed as options to run the country. Two personality vacuums. To be fair we’ve had the personalities in politics over the years who have also been despicable.

Thatcher had a personality, it was arrogant and hateful and born out of some dark recess of hell where only the truly horrific dwell.  Blair had a charismatic personality until he was spotted awkwardly walking in jeans with his hands in his pockets in that kind of Status Quo dance type manner while selling his soul to a dimwit in a flying jacket. Another twat is Johnson who oozes the kind of buffoonery that gets killed ‘in theatre’ by his own troops and Abbott is that kind of thick piss head that shouts ‘ You know what your problem is?’ before falling asleep in a pool of their own piss.   Classic Political Arseholes.

In the Blue Corner we have Mother Theresa, Terri Mandroid or ‘Maggie’ May….. Jesus.

It would be hard to find any love for May. The awkward gait, the super long ‘Close Encounters’ Alien arms, the hunched back and the awkward talking style. She’s a difficult watch. She seems perplexed when confronted with humans of any kind if she is away from the safety of the dispatch box.  She strikes me as the lost Alien like ‘The Man who fell to earth’ or ‘Starman’, Emotionless, fixed, focussed, dispassionate, learning on the hoof…dead inside. It’s not all bad. She has nice shoes and a smashing death stare.

May is disliked because she is dislikeable. It’s really that simple. Her only potentially redeeming feature is toughness or a perceived toughness in her own head. She has this reputation because she is a childless Tory and so in the mind of majority of the general populous she clearly hates kids or anything fluffy and soft and thrives on the hearts of yoof. She is also partial to changing her mind which is seen as complete sacrilege if you are a politician and is punishable by instant resignation and the long walk into the Cursed Earth.  I see it differently.

In life there are only really two ways to do things. The right way and the wrong way. If you do something right then that’s great, you’re a genius. If you do something wrong, learn from it and immediately do the right thing. The hardest part is making a decision in the first place. She seems capable of at least making a decision but of course they aren’t always the right ones. To be fair the ‘right way’ ratio needs to be greater than the ‘wrong way’ or you look like a plum. She can look like a plum.

I don’t get too worried about U-turns or stealing other parties ideas, as to win you need to be ruthless to a ‘no one will get out alive’ level.

The Tories are like the motto of Blackwater the CIA employed security firm / death machine used in Iraq:

“Be polite and courteous but have a plan to kill everyone in the room”

It’s why they generally win, It’s about them and them alone.

On a personal level May is almost everything I dislike in a person in one single distorted body. Cold, distant, a closed book, religious, superior, grubby (looks like she could do with a hosing down and a yard brush scrub), arrogant…she has the lot. Not the kind of woman you’d want to wake up with… in fact she’s exactly the type of woman you would wake with to find staring at you in disgust from a chair in the bedroom holding an engagement ring while praying for forgiveness.

In the Red Corner we have Comrade Corbyn. Mr ‘Mandate’, Mr Adequate payslip, Mr ‘what you fuckin’ looking at’…

Corbyn started off as a joke with rumours of Tories joining the labour party to ensure he won the leadership battle. I’m not sure about this….not the joke part…he remains a joke in my view.

Corbyn is a throwback to a different time, a time when people may have cared more and had less. But he’s not a complete criminal and probably not a bad person. None of this is his fault it is simply his beliefs but a belief that, I feel, won’t work for the country we are in or any country in history regardless of the word ‘Cuba’.

Corbyn strikes me as a man who doesn’t actually want to do any of this and was dared or badgered into it to after the shame of the wrong Millibland and the concrete slab of failure.

In the early stages of his tenure Corbyn seemed incapable of dealing with the press and the attention. He was visibly uncomfortable with it, tetchy and stroppy without realising it’s all a game played by professional layabouts. He also had trouble hiding his disdain for valid questions thrown at him and seem to resort to a ‘you going to get your fuckin head kicked in’ face that he engaged in his years as a party activist. Not really what you expect from a pacifist leader of the peoples’ party.

It would be easy to make cheap gags about Jezza with regard to his initial scruffy appearance and poor quality suits but that would be pathetic and would deflect from the real issue which is belief in ‘Mandate’.

Corbyn took the view that he had the mandate of the party without actually doing the maths. True, he was voted in by the membership of which there are about 700,000 but not all of them wanted him.

Let’s say he had 400,000 of them backing him….Great… it still left about 9,000,000 labour voters from the last election who may or may not vote for him. I’d imagine a large proportion of those labour voters still wouldn’t vote for him because his socialist utopian vision which a large chunk of them don’t care for.

Corbyn’s appointment in the name of his mandate has effectively split the party and resulted in the Tories romping ahead. He likes to ignore the non-member voters like they don’t exist which is a bit like a football club only wanting to associate itself with the punters in the ground while ignore the fans who follow from afar….y’know….’The Masses’. It’s unacceptable. As equally unacceptable to most of us that Trump has the support of certain areas of the country but not the popular vote. He answers to that crowd and that crowd alone under his ‘mandate’. Trump is rightly slaughtered for that by the same people banging on about Corbyn’s right to mention it at every opportunity.

How can I be sure that the country doesn’t want Corbyn? I can’t.

I can only speak from my own perspective which is that if it came to the crunch I think that most of the liberal left who spout on and on within the security of social media would be affected more than they think they would. It’s a nice idea but we all have too much to start with to change. Your average Facebook warrior forgets this and likes to merely talk about it while making sure they are ‘all right Jack’. Each to their own but personally I like to live by a mantra I stick to all the time and not just when it suits me or makes me look radical or compassionate to people that I’m actually quite distant from.

I’ve worked for 32 years with a wage taxed at source. I have no cash in hand, no money under the bed or the means or access to a tax avoidance expert. I simply work and pay my taxes with no tricks. On the upside I’m lucky enough to live in the middle banding of earners (not too much, not too little) who remain relatively unaffected by a change of government to any real level. This isn’t my fault as I’d love to be in the small yet wealthy top bracket where I would be equally unaffected.

The biggest issue and reason why Corbyn’s stance won’t work is greed.

This country is greedy in general from King to Pauper. The King wants a bigger house and nicer car and the Pauper wants a bigger TV and a better dog. It is instilled in our society from top to bottom and that is where we are. A socialist agenda only works for the few, much like the tory right agenda. There is no middle ground but the majority are in that middle ground… the ‘Meh’ generation…

People will ask me ‘don’t you want to help those less fortunate?’. Well the answer is Yes… and No.

You’d be pretty heartless if you didn’t occasionally or even regularly put your hand in your pocket to assist someone or some organisation but I’m not keen on being told to do it as it should be a personal choice.

I suppose, selflessly (which I freely admit) I see it that no fucker ever helped me.  No government, no inheritance, no parental advice or encouragement, no nothing. I’ve acquired all the work I’ve ever had and remained employed since. I’m a great believer in making your own luck, relying on no one and not expecting anyone to assist me. I’m Lucky (I get that) but I see my role on the planet as looking after me and mine and then maybe someone else if I can.

The new Labour manifesto is a dreamer’s wish list. It is costed but it is fuelled by dreams of untapped money and nothing happening globally that would affect growth projections and the plan as it stands now.

It’s generally easy in opposition as you can promise what you like due to the fact that most Governments in power are hated anyway and whatever they do is open to abuse as it’s real and in action rather than on a piece of paper. Corbyn is promising free child care, free school meals, free university education, more money for the NHS, more money for virtually everything based on a source of money that he feels he can summon up with ease.   Unpaid tax and more Tax from the ‘rich’. Triffic. I’m not a believer as I have experience in this field.

The idea that you can claw back money from tax avoidance and evasion is fairly stupid. This is a well-used source of untapped money on a lot of manifestos and the perception is that it is just sitting there waiting for someone to spot it. This money is used as the great bail out within policy party manifestos and is endlessly trotted out. Given that no one has ever managed to tap into this divine ambrosia can you believe anyone that says they have a plan for it? ‘No’ is the answer. If it could be easily obtained it would have been already. The fact is it is a notional figure used to pad out manifestos from both sides. HMRC are tasked with collecting this money and they are partial to doing deals as they are revenue collectors and not law enforcers and so cleaning slates with as little hassle as possible is their job. Something is better than noting and years in a court room to get nothing, it’s the line of least resistance approach.

This figure is used to placate an aggrieved electorate who would do exactly what the tax evader/avoider does if they had the means and inclination……Greed once more with a hint of jealously chucked in….all fairly human as we all want to pay less to get more.

Labour know this and so trot out the ‘Free!! Free!!’ shtick knowing in reality that they will not have to deliver that if in government as you always have the fall back position of ‘the country is more skint than we realised’,  famously used when Labour left a note for an incoming Coalition Chancellor. The next thing you know the new Chancellor says ‘We never knew it was this bad’ and revises everything downwards with ‘unforeseen’ cuts. Tis the way it is and will always be….

The Tory manifesto is not costed. Why cost it anyway? The Tories will do pretty much what they like and no manifesto they have ever written has ever been realised anyway. As usual the Tories are looking to crucify anyone who isn’t them and some people who are them…. Tough on people, tough on the causes of people.

They are like a death cult without the mass causalities, perhaps a ‘slow-death cult’, but at least there is an element of realism unlike Labour and the other current opposition parties. There has to be an element of realism as they are in the now ‘running’ the country. The fantasy isn’t acceptable as we can see it failing in real time. The opposition manifesto is the lifeboat on the horizon but without you seeing the pirates manning the ship and looking to kill you….any lifeboat will do when you are drowning, you’ll take the risk of buggery and cheap, low grade rum…

The Tory plan is about pain and misery for most of us rather than the promise of free university education or 10,000 shiny new police spilling out on the streets when you haven’t factored in the cost of training, equipment, uniform, overtime or the fact that when they resign due to stress or the realisation that you don’t want to be hated on a daily basis they have to be replaced at further cost.

The sad reality is wherever we look and whatever path we take pain will hit us under the Tories…. There will be no sunshine. Winter is coming and it’s either wearing ludicrous shoes and a bauble necklace or a shabby beard and elbow patches.

Of course, all this was as avoidable as the tax on a trader’s wages if smooth skinned Dave hadn’t called for a vote on leaving the EU. His game of bluff backfired leaving him with no Knighthood, no party and no credibility. This was the cocky actions of a puffy faced snob who has never worked or experienced real people and so didn’t realise that you cannot rely on or trust real people.

Brexit will inevitably be a disaster regardless of what the leavers think or tell you. In 10 years’ time when we are suffering beyond what we think now you’ll barely find anyone admitting to voting leave either through death or embarrassment. It was a generational decision with a hint of island mentality stoked by a millionaire with a French name, a German wife and an income from a job he tried to dismantle in a part of the planet he hated.

When the negotiations start (noting has started yet….these are the final halcyon days) we’ll win in some minor places but lose large in others as you can’t give up your membership of the metaphorical golf club and still play during the peak times as the rest of the membership will demand the same. Europe will look to crucify us while still keeping us interested enough as they need us almost as much as we need them. To say otherwise would be ludicrous and similar to assuming that it hasn’t affected us yet so it will be easy.

I wanted to stay in Europe but I’m happy to go with the democracy because that’s the rules, whatever will be will be, the people have spoken etc, etc. The biggest problem is that the Tory mindset (it’s peculiar to the so-called ‘elite’) is that Britannia still rules the waves and all we have to do is point a lot and raise our voices to Johnny Foreigner to get what we think we deserve. Things have moved on and now so do we. You can’t crave democracy and when you lose get the arsehole and demand a new vote….. The scots like to do that and they are derided.

Even though I’m a ‘remainer’ I do see the lunacy of some aspects of the EU particularly the option for one nation to not agree resulting in nothing happening and years of negotiation to collapse. Knowing that this can happen should send a chill up any Tory negotiator with the Empire mentality. It’s sort of like a more important Eurovision where you can near enough predict who gets what from the political scenario at the time. Overall I feel that we would be better off within it than out of it but I’m prepared to get on with it and the consequences as my responsibility is within my own house and there alone.

My greatest annoyance during any political upheaval or election is social media. All the warriors appear. Fear not, I’m well aware of the irony of this be available in another social media format but I’m not actually trying to ram a concept that I believe in down your mush.

As soon as an election starts these keyboard warriors appear. In the old days nobody really knew who you voted for as it was a private personal choice. It’s why the polling booth has screens. It’s different now. You are expected through polls and peer pressure to declare your hand in advance. Funny really that this didn’t work last time with the Tories storming through to shock everyone to win outright. This happens because the Tories fall in line like good soldiers in moments like this. Labour don’t. They fracture and split but believe that you should know on a daily basis what they are going to do, why you should do it also and if you don’t do that you are utter filth.

Tories don’t really do it whether they are embarrassed to do it or just don’t see it as necessary, I’m not sure. Labour supporters (in my recent experience) have become vicious and nasty. You are either with them completely and on the Corbyn bus or you can fuck off. I’ve been told to shut up, leave people’s timelines, offered out and, worst of all, been called a Tory for disagreeing on a what I see as a left-wing agenda. I’m not a Tory I’m just not a Corbyn fan because I feel he makes ludicrous claims that he can’t live up to and doesn’t represent me.

Corbyn’s ‘mandate army’ seem to think they are the only ones with the right to an opinion and if you don’t agree you are worse that a toffee nosed tory who wants to see dead babies floating in the Mediterranean.

Corbyn has failed to unite his own party so it will be some feat if he manages to unite a country, or enough of a country for his party to win. Of course the ‘Mandaters’ will cry ‘largest party membership in the world’ which is probably true but as I said earlier even they ain’t all for one and one for all.

There’s nothing wrong with passion in politics, it should be actively encouraged but you have to accept other opinions exist without tearing into people you supposedly like 99% of the time in real life.

Twitter is the worst format. It is awash with Champagne socialists, Far right, Fois Gras fed Tories and UKIP fuckwits who can easily spout shite in 140 characters and then not even have the good grace to allow a response.

I saw a quote from an interview with a well-known English actor the other day banging on about inequality in this country. The interviewer reminded him that he owned seven properties and he replied that property ownership was his only ‘extravagance’….Lovely.

There’s a lot of celeb socialists always talking from positions of opulence about how we, the people, need to act. They fuck off occasionally to be waited on in far off lands for large sums of money which they hide in off shore accounts or live in other jurisdictions where tax may be less or optional. It’s a bit like that Occupy London toff who will look back on his revolutionary days being ‘kettled’ by the filth with ‘great fondness’ from one of Daddy’s many Mayfair penthouses over a glass of fine wine. They are anecdote creators rather than great humanitarians.

On a lower more local level you get a lot of so-called ‘working class’ people who work cash in hand and only declare what is basically required while telling everyone that the richer need to pay more. These people don’t really fit the socialist agenda that Jezza wants and, in reality, are no better than the millionaire who can find the means to pay for the assistance to ‘lose’ money. Both these groups hurt the economy to different levels but neither admit it. We all want to pay less for more that is human nature but rules is rules in my book so pay your way because you have to not just when you have to.

I don’t know what the answer for this country is but it isn’t anything I’ve seen lately. The TV interviews with the Lounge Lizard Paxman only proved that they were both a couple of wasters who can’t express an idea with much clarity, honesty or articulation but these are the choices we have. I try to get through it by imagining Comrade Corbyn looking down at Maggie May going ‘at it’ like a dog with a hot chip. This image makes them seem less ludicrous to me than they actually are in real life and at the very least points me in the direction of the Polling Station.

The most important thing in this whole joke scenario is that you vote and mean it. If you don’t vote it means you should pretty much shut the fuck up and bite down on the shit sandwich that will ultimately be delivered as I see no great outcome whoever the winner.

Don’t waste the opportunity to have your say, but be nice with it and accept that others don’t agree or in some cases even care. Vote and we can have friendly adult debate until the next time these fuckers decide they need to be loved or are too scared to do their jobs properly.

…Two Zero One Six…

The year draws to a close. Thank Fuck. 2016. A total car crash of a year on many levels. Socially, globally, politically, artistically and personally. Utter wank.

The year of death and destruction but mainly death. Lemmy, Wogan, Victoria Wood, Fisher, Prince, Michael, Ali and of course the big one…Stewpot Stewart.

We’ve all felt death. I’ve known mothers, fathers, exes and brothers of my friends die this year which is much more devastating than any celebrity who led a privileged life of excess. That’s not to say it doesn’t affect you as their passing is a marker of your own mortality. They are still people you feel you know from music, film, TV and comedy who spark memories good or bad and that’s why it affects you more than news about a bus crash or a gangland killing.

The big celebrity death of the year for me was Bowie. It still makes me cry.

No one could say they were surprised when Lemmy or Ali died for example. Ali had been ill for decades and it was really only sheer will and Rock power that were keeping Kilminster on his feet but we didn’t really know Bowie was even ill.

I have a vivid memory of day Bowie died. We have a TV on in the office as we need to know if something catastrophic happens and sadly the evil empire of Sky News knows before anyone else. I walked passed the TV and the headline simple said ‘BOWIE DEAD’. I was rooted to the spot as were the majority of the room. This is unusual where I work as most of my associates are weapons grade piss takers but this death seemed to have a profound effect on everyone present. In an unprecedented turn of events, no one took the piss. That was the thing about Bowie. Even in that room, a room of professional, brutal rippers of urine little, if nothing, was said because at some point everyone loved Bowie or a track by him. He must be the greatest solo artist this country even produced.

It upsets me to hear a Bowie track now but it’s essential that he stays at the forefront of my playlists as there were just too many classic tracks or hidden gems to ignore…too many memories linked to Bowie tracks.

A personal favourite of mine was always ‘Oh you pretty things’. It’s such a simple track but delivers on all levels. Classic Bowie. Look at this section of lyrics from it….2016 in a nutshell:

 

“Look out my window and what do I see

A crack in the sky and a hand reaching down to me

All the nightmares came today

And it looks as though they’re here to stay”

 

Another tremendous hidden gem can be found on the derided ‘David live’ album from the Diamond Dogs tour. ‘Hear today, gone tomorrow’ a cover version…. Outstanding… find it…. love it…raise your glass to Bowie and all the heroes that went this year.

And our nightmares did appear in 2016 as Dave so diligently wrote. Amongst all the death was the global breakdown in values and society. Initially I assumed through my own arrogance and complacency that this was led by stupidity and bigotry on behalf of the masses but now I’m leaning towards the view that those in charge just didn’t take the people seriously enough….and the people spoke letting the elite know the score… Democracy in action. Suck it up. It wasn’t what I wanted but I’m not the country, I am one man.

….Hmmm…. too deep I think…. Ok…. Fuck it, let’s dig deeper… Let’s face it, It was all about lies in reality. Lies that the people (democracy in action) wanted to believe.

This is nothing new. It’s basically politics and the pursuit of power over the last 1000 years. The general consensus, in my adult , is that all politicians lie. Let’s face it, can you name an effective, truthful politician that you’ve ever believed? Some will say Comrade Corbyn.  A man of moral with an adulterous streak, simmering rage when confronted with a difficult question and no realistic chance of running the country due to age and policy, earning top bunce running a party that he wants to be something else, something ancient, something that no one with really wants or deep down believes will work. Even up against a Tory party of complete ineptitude he’s failed to make a dent.

Of course, there are people that crave socialism without really understanding it. They also crave big houses, coffee mornings, artisan bread, meals out, bubbles at Christmas and fantastic all-inclusive holidays. A bit like that ‘Occupy London’ ponce whose Daddy owns half of Mayfair, one day he’ll be sitting in a fabulous penthouse apartment overlooking Green Park talking about his rebellious moment.

No one wants less for themselves and their kids. We all want more and so champagne socialism thrives in the lovely places where the upper middle class claim they want to house those seeking a better life but won’t leave the gas man alone when he checks the meter or wouldn’t dream of allowing a builder to use their toilet. The perfect storm of Soundbites and bollocks for a better reputation convincing themselves that they are good humans. Tremendous. The new world order… If you look really closely through social media you can work out who means it and who just says it to feel better about themselves.

Jezza aside the two senior arseholes in this game were, of course, Trump and Farage.

Trump, the son of immigrant parents, married to a number of immigrant wives is part of the elite he claims to hate. He’s a billionaire businessman who appeals to the nationalistic working class man because he’s not a politician and talks tough like they do.

Farage, the spawn of immigrant ancestry, married to an immigrant wife is part of the elite he claims to hate. He is a millionaire former stockbroker who appeals to the nationalistic working class man because he’s not a politician and he smokes fags and drinks English bitter like they do.

Hang on…. This is awkward. They could be the same man on different continents.

Maybe it’s what the people want. Maybe the ignored silent majority are just sick of being told they should care about everyone else when they feel they have nothing themselves. Tricky one but I get it…..just about.

Fear will help you believe in anything you see as better than what you have, so when you get two uber confident ponces spouting endlessly about a ‘fact free’ Utopia the disadvantaged will grab it and run with it. This is what happened in my view.

Don’t be blaming those that voted, they are the ones that felt passionately about it enough to leave the house and tick a box, they should be applauded for engaging in the democracy. Don’t be blaming the non-voters because you can’t be sure that they were going to vote the way you wanted. It’s a common misconception that the ‘can’t be arsed’ would have won it for you.

If you need to blame anyone blame the liars who campaigned on firm bed of cobblers and career. Blame the fake news on social media and the gullible who helped spread it. Blame the sharers of crap. Blame the over sharers who bombard the web with things they like in the belief that you need to know even though it might not necessarily be to your taste or be even accurate. Blame the pollsters for creating a complacency amongst half the populous. But mostly blame the liars who now, having won, have absolutely no idea what to do but expect someone else to sort it for them.

We spent the Summer and Autumn talking about Trump and Farage as comedians with no hope. We believed them to be liars then so why do we believe them now? Mexican walls, closed borders, free trade, deportation, self-sufficient countries…. I don’t believe a word of it. They are still the same fraudsters they were when they hoodwinked millions in my view, nothing has changed so I expect a hard time which will be derided by those not dealing with it for their own gain under.

But all that is over. It’s pointless whinging on about it when the voting majority in two countries chose through a twisted democratic process. And no, I haven’t forgotten the popular vote for Mrs Clinton but that counts for little in that system. It’s like beating Hull 6-0 when you need to beat Man United, Chelsea and Liverpool to be champions, It’s the wrong battle for the overall war…

What’s done is done and if you don’t accept that then you are fighting against the democracy we all crave. The view that ‘I didn’t want it so won’t accept it’ is unacceptable so we just need to chew the shit sandwich till it’s eaten before we order a Bacon and Brie ciabatta we like. Tin hats of everyone…. The liars are still out there and are, as usual, unaffected by the state of the nation. We are the grunts waiting for the whistle before the charge into no-man’s land and potential oblivion with a hint of victory.

Just my opinion of course…..other opinions are available.

What else did the year bring? The usual Arsenal collapse, the demise of popular music, the same old guff.

On the upside, I fell back in love with my job and stopped looking for a new one. When you work with the right people you no longer need change and that’s what happened. Also, and luckily due to the aforementioned breakdown in society I’ve been fed an endless supply of work opportunities and so It’s been a busy year and will, no doubt, get busier next year. This eye opening also made me rethink my initial ‘can’t believe Brexit happened’ take on things. When you see the bottom of the barrel out there, societies oxygen thieves you rethink stuff. Anyway, it’s important to love your job as you have to do it for a fucking long time.

Socially I had a good year as always. Friends are everything and I managed to see all the people that mattered. I did the usual December Christmas drinking marathon and hopefully came through it unscathed although the final effort was really a bridge too far and so less if required next time.

I only managed one gig this year which was the return of the mighty UFO to a small but perfectly formed venue in the shires. They were better than ever and seeing them reminded me of the power of live music in small venues. Sadly, live music has now been taken over by corporate event fans at ludicrous cost so next year I’m aiming to go a lot more gigs of smaller bands…. Maybe I’ll drag out the Horse for an airing…..less booze more noise…..

My year was dominated by the death of my Mother and the metaphorical death of my Father and younger brother.

Last Christmas my Mum sat at my Christmas table, four months later she was gone forever. The grief was huge but a different type of grief continues in the shape of paranoia, greed and hate from the double act left. Any good memories I had are gone as I’ve heard and learned too much over the 8 months since she left us shattering the myth of ‘family’.

It’s been a tragic, desperate scenario with no real conclusion. The antagonists remain in my face as they bizarrely delivered Christmas cards from ‘Mum and Dad’ or ‘Grandma and Grandad’. There must be some form of etiquette for this surely? Clearly the prick writing these cards has forgotten that he brutally told me in the week after the funeral that my Mum was ‘fuckin’ dead’ and I should remember that. Well, I do remember it and so the dynamic duo will drown in their own bile before I return. I have my own family and they will not be sucked into my crud.

I have only one possession from my Mum and I will cherish it forever. It sits by my bed and will remain there to remind me of the person who was fun and loving before the ravages of illness and the psychological kicking of being married to the Monster.

It’s the crucifix that she had a child that hung on the wall in the family home and she had at the hospice with her for the final journey. I look at it every night and it reminds me of her and the good within her. It has no religious significance to me and is just a symbol of her, a reminder of the person I loved.

Enough of the year of woe. It will end shortly and we can all reset our shit.

There will be no dry January as I love the taste of wine too much. There will be no more Guinness as I’ve had enough of it. There will be no job hunting as I’ve got too much to do. And, as all ggod things come to an end, there will be no more blogs like this as I’ve run out of steam and enthusiasm for it. Time to do something else in the new year and so unless I find a spark and return to the blogosphere I will return to the swift, ‘on the hoof’ ranting within Bookface.

Remember: Friends and Family are all, Laugh and love life, help where you can if you can, be nice to each other and remember the good in all the Departed…

Thanks for all the support and kind words over the last couple of years…

These were my words….. Go. Mental.

Partridgeville: House of a Thousand Spiders

You’ll be pleased to hear that the Wi-Fi has been reconnected and no farmers have been seriously assaulted.  Modern life makes me this way, violent and in need of devices.  I’ve been here for nearly 2 weeks and my phone has only rung three times and on every occasion it has been necessary for me to insult some jub informing me of an accident I’ve been involved in or telling me that I could be liable for a refund of PPI that I have never signed up to…

Hmmm…. Maybe people don’t care that I’m here?  Fuck people.

Ok… There are only a few things that have eight legs that I’m wary of when I’m in their death arc.

  • Two hungry tigers
  • A protective elephant and calf
  • Four pissheads in a kebab shop where the chilli sauce has run dry and:

‘Tegenaria gigantea’

  • The Giant House spider or ‘savage flappy legged hell freak’.

I am an Arachnophobe and always have been and there are many reasons for this.

There’s my overpowering human desire to smash, burn, shoot and burn again spiders.  There’s the time I woke up face to face with one on the pillow aged 8 and the time a very large one was directly responsible for ‘coitus interruptus’ in my late teens resulting in a rapid disengagement from participating party and a frantic hunt for the beast in the confines of a box room in my parents’ house where all previous attempts to keep ‘things’ quiet went out the window in the melee that followed.

On that occasion the beast was found crawling up the forearm of a naked girlfriend who was shouting ‘WHERE?? WHERE??’ as I pointed in silent terror.  That spider (let’s call him Brian) destroyed that late teen moment and so they all now must die.

It’s been a difficult forty odd years but I reckon I’ve dispatched thousands of the fuckers by means of rapidly brought down boot, dropped dinner plate, chucked remote control, pointed stick poke, hairspray (slows them down), boiling water from above (unbelievably effective) and slapped palm…. I am the Torquemada of the spider inquisition.

And then I rented this lovely barn type conversion for two weeks in Norfolk.  Good God.  It’s like all the spiders in the world are on holiday here.  In the 12 days in this house I have dispatched at least 22 of the fuckers, tiny yellow ones, small black ones, medium brown ones and a ludicrous number of massive ones with dripping fangs and cocky ‘never say die’ attitude.

When dealing with ‘Tegenaria Gigantea’ it is essential to deploy US Special forces and CIA employed, private death machine ‘Blackwater’ tactic: The ‘OODA Loop’.

For the uninitiated OODA stands for ‘Observe, Orientate, Decide, Act’.  You need to do these four things in 1.5 seconds in order to be victorious when faced with an adversary of this magnitude and hate who can kill you in 2 seconds.  Remember the beast has the advantage as you have a quarter of the legs that it does.

  • Observe:  You spot the Spider
  • Orientate: Check that no spider lovers are around
  • Decide: The spider must be smashed (no brainer)
  • Act: Smash the spider (then smash repeatedly until dust)

Easy.  I’ve been doing this for years (not wholly true as I only discovered OODA in a book about ‘Blackwater’ a week ago) and it only fails if you have spotted the spider and allowed more than 1.5 seconds to elapse.

When in that position, it is advisable (so long as the beast is contained in a sink or cage) to pace up and down swearing a lot while sweating profusely.  The delay in dishing out death from above causes panic of apocalyptic proportions where no implement seems big enough.  You go from handful of kitchen roll for the death grip, through such weapons as shoe and coffee table before sofa and TV may be used to smash to dust.  If the beast is not contained in some kind of death row type scenario, then It’s best to either ring Foxton’s for a valuation on the property or burn the house down.

Now I know there will be some freaks out there, probably in New Zealand, telling me that Spiders are great and that they should be captured and released to run free in the countryside but I’m deploying an Agincourt approach here.  No fucking prisoners, no messages back to the King Spider as a warning.  Henry V didn’t smash the French through nicety. He was victorious because he took out an entire generation with absolutely no chivalry whatsoever.  Genius.  I am he and this is for England.  Fuck Spiders.  I will not be Baggins wrapped up like a juicy human Burrito frothing at the mouth dominated by an arachnid… I’ve made my decision, accept it…there are billions of spiders and only one me.

So…. Off to Norwich we go.

Norwich scene of some stuff at some point…..and Alan Partridge….’The blood runs deep’.

Norwich is a great city.  I was particularly impressed by the Cathedral and being of catholic stock I’ve seen a lot of buildings erected for God.  It was lovely place where you could walk around at will with surprisingly little in the way of ‘out of bounds’… The only problem with it was in the last 10 feet where a kids entertainer called ‘Johnny Jaffa cake’ was doing his thing to a mob of 20 five year old brats screaming the place down. An odd choice for the inside of a religious building, bit like sticking a Coke machine up by the altar. We move on and out, at pace, into the city itself.

It’s bustling with the tattooed and thumbless but it’s friendly and none of us are kidnapped to spend our remaining time in a barn with over large boys and three legged chickens.  There are buskers on most street corners and not the type that are simple clanking some spoons together but ones with real talent including two paddies knocking out that weepy Snow Patrol track and mid-range efforts from the Simon and Garfunkel cannon.  It’s also nice not to see the fake ‘Big Issue’ seller with the laminated copy which is the scourge of the country.

Jen and B stop at a market stall selling novelty rucksacks.  The boy and I watch from a far.  They have clearly spotted some kind of bargain and are getting involved.  After about 10 minute they have returned with goods and smiles, the joy of actual ‘live’ purchases rather than interweb shopping.  As she gets back I ask Jen how she good buy anything off a bloke like that.

‘Like what?’ she says.

‘Like bulldog tattoo to right calf, union flag tattoo to left forearm, Crusader brandishing broadsword tattoo to right bicep, St George cross tattoo to side of head, ‘NF’ tattoo to back of neck’ says I.

‘….Oh….I didn’t notice’ she replies…

And there you have it.  Women are none suspicious whereas men scan a crowd like the Terminator looking for Sarah Connor through a red lens.

‘….Hardnut……soft lad…..dangerous dog…..drunk…..nice rack…..ginger…..old lady, bad small…. Skinny suit…. city boy…. Ponytailed office fooder…..top heavy…. Potential rival for leadership come the Zombie Apocalypse…. needs a shoeing…. big arse….no arse…..nice rack…. sad and lonely…dog owner….arsehole…. loves a spider…. nice smell….cheap pub with escape route…’

…this kind of thing.  We are hunters and so assess as we go along, It’s a disease, a sickness. Women are much nicer; they see the good rather than the horror.  Anyway now that we’ve funded the lifestyle of a fascist we look for somewhere to eat for lunch.

Norwich has some lovely eateries so why and I sitting in a Greggs?  Not only sitting in a Greggs but sitting in the front window of a Greggs exposed to passing trade, some of whom look intelligent and sympathetic to my plight.  I’m being mocked by the general Norwichian.

Jen chooses Greggs as a quick and easy lunch.  I have no items on me to disguise myself, not even a cap and so am stuck in the window like an advert for the meat with pastry eater.  You don’t get a body like mine without liking pastry but no one eats in a Greggs under 70 as most of the offerings appear partially digested for ease.

Greggs is a shop that you enter at speed, order out of the corner of your mouth while looking around shouting ‘QUICKER!! QUICKER!! QUICKER!!’ like Tom Hardy being rubbed with butter in ‘Bronson’.  You then chuck money at the counter when they fail to get you in and out within 15 seconds.  It’s not a ‘table for four’ place but I’m at a table for four gnawing on a meat parcel and a cup of ‘Coffee’ minus any coffee flavour.

Next to us are two elastic waistband old ladies.  They are deep in discussion. Old bat #1 is dolled up to the eyeballs.  She is bottle blond and made up like Bette Davis in ‘What ever happened to Baby Jane?’. The eye make-up is particularly memorable as it looks like two spiders have set up home such is the black thickness. She’s also cleavage heavy in a flash back to years gone by but now she’s struggling to fill the cup with a couple of snoopy noses…. She ain’t having it though, she’s pushing forward, thrusting upwards at the hope of attracting some kind of plum looking for a GGILF liaison.

Old bat #2 looks like a bloke I used to work with who is long dead.  Dead, dead eyes like a shark mid death bite, and the teeth/nose combo is worthy of a fancy dress shop £2 bargain bucket however she is more conventionally dressed for her age and I appreciate that for the sake of my sight.

I hone in on their conversation and to my horror they are talking about sex and going ’over the side’.  The once buxom Baby Jane is doing the goading in a Sybil Fawlty ‘…Ooo I know…’ kind of way and comedy nose is doing the graphic descriptive stuff.  She’s ‘had enough’ or her old man and is seeking fresh excitement with a younger model to liven herself up to make her feel ‘like a women again’….I’m dubious of the ‘again’ bit.

I’m half gagging on my ‘meet’ packet at the thought of this dry old crone going ‘at it’ but I’m trapped as I can see no opportunity to flee without being spotted by someone vaguely normal.  I bite down and force myself through the double whammy of horrendous imagery and liquid meat and potato in soggy pastry.

I spot a chance of escape behind a rather overly nourished individual on crutches with his pants exposed who has just purchase 4 jumbo sausage rolls and a Fanta…. We are out and in the clean, fresh air.

Piss taking aside, Norwich is a lovely city with lots to see and do.  It was vibrant and busy but also oozed history and was worth visiting.

And then there’s Cromer.

Cromer is every  British beachside resort you’ve ever been to with added freakery.  Bikers, Jugglers, a pier with absolutely nothing worthy on it at all and a boozer called ‘The Albion’.  I wasn’t risking the pub as I risked the pier.

The pier has all a pier should have including the standard crap bar with warm flat lager.  Dogs, electric mobility scooters and people crabbing off the edges of the pier are everywhere.  Crabbing is a fruitless pursuit given that crabmeat flows like sick in a gutter in Cromer as it costs nothing, is killed and liberated from gritty mud laden shells by someone else and in some cases stuffed into a stale baguette.

The crab people love the hunt though and so dangle crab enticing treats off strings into the sea in the hope of walking back to land with a poor old crab in a clear bucket emblazoned with a cartoon crustacean…. Christ knows what the crab thinks…

We leave the seafront for the back streets of Cromer.   It’s all there.  A tattooist called ‘Iconic ink’, an Antique Shop with a Bren Gun with bullet belt in the window for £2,000.00, a shop selling ceramic faced dolls that come to life at night and strangle things and a series of chip shops claiming ‘Best in Cromer’.  Can you be best anything in Cromer?  Best looking seagull?  Best drain cover? Best road out of Cromer?

I’m not big on seaside towns as you can probably tell.  Too many years visiting Hastings to see the in-laws or family holidays as a kid where we walked around aimlessly while my Old Man got mangled in the local British Legion before weaving his car home with us in tow.  Of course it’s different abroad where the heat is the major factor.  Bars replace transient punter boozers with pool tables providing weapons for the patrons and you have restaurants serving stuff killed at the table rather than fast food eateries serving up stuff you can usually eat on a stick.  Our promenades are filled with large pale blobs (of which I am one) limping along with screaming kids rather than the beautiful tanned, postage stamped budgie smuggler wearers dripping in Paco Rabanne.  Beach life just ain’t my bag baby…. I’m a big city type of twat.

The best day out we had was a trip to see the seals off Blakney Point.  I have nothing but good words about this trip from the quality of the boat to quality of the punters on board.  The two guys running the trip were funny and informative and it was great to some proper wildlife in a proper environment.  Excellent stuff.

See?  If I’m not ripping things to shreds it all gets nice and even more pointless.  And so with that in mind we come to Wroxham, the staging post for our trip down the Norfolk Broads.

Wroxham appears to a town dropped in from 1974 by an alien civilization.  Wroxham is effectively a bridge over part of the Norfolk broads surrounded by a few shops, cafes and a Pub.  I’ll deal with the pub in a minute but thankfully unlike most of the other retail units it was devoid of a flat roof.

Wroxham appears to be owned by a bloke called Roy.  There’s ‘Roys Toys’, ‘Roys DIY’, ‘Roys Food Emporium’, ‘Roys garden centre’ and, of course, simply ‘Roys’ which seems to be a department store specialising in clothes pre dipped in piss and lavender for old people.  The curry house at least tried by calling itself ‘The Royal’. Roy is the Wroxham equivalent of Rick Stein in Padstow.   He got his claws in early and he took the place over like a parasitic body snatcher.

As ever, with kids, we arrive and look for food.  It’s slim pickings and so we decide on a pub called The Kings Arms due to the sign reading ‘Food served all day / massive garden’.  This turned out to be partially correct as the garden was fucking massive.

We take a seat in the garden and peruse the fayre within the extensive menu.  There’s some nice stuff on it and we all agree it’s a good choice.  I then head to the bar for some lovely beverages to go with whatever we choose to eat…. Drinks first, then eat..I’m a traditionalist…

It’s a big pub with a two big bars.  In an act of outstanding English poncitude the assembled punters have formed four separate queues at each individual bar.  Each queue contains 10-12 people all carrying menus and hard earned cash.  They look hunger and their thirst needs slaking on a hot day like this.  I join a queue and wait my turn. I am merely 10 people from that ice cold Heineken pump and I start to drool slightly…. No one notices…

It then strikes me that this pub appears to have two bar staff for the whole building.  These two are working the two equally sized bars with four equally filled queues of idiots like me.  These ain’t no Irish bar staff, these are Wroxham bar staff.  Gone is the capability of serving two drinks at the same time left alone two punters at the same time, gone is the ability to strike up a conversation above a mumble and gone is the ability to pass on useful information to a crowd of people queuing like cows heading to a slaughter house.

I remain calm until I realise that the punters are even more useless than these two plums behind the ramp.  Old people are the order of the day in Wroxham. Roy has slaughtered all those under 60 in a reverse ‘Children of the Corn’ nightmarish scenario, which means that every aged punter that reaches the mumbling barkeep goes through the drinks and menu with finite intensity looking for a bargain some angle of BOGOF cheapness.

I remain calm and wait my turn.  I’m only three from the front now and luckily due to the deafness of the spritzer drinker I hear a that if you want food the wait is 1 hour 25 minutes.  I’ve been in this queue for 20 minutes looking for 4 drinks that will take 90 seconds to pour and I’ve just heard on the breeze that food is far from being served ‘all day’ but is only served at specific non busy moments of the day.

I lean over the queue and tackle the barbod verbally much to the annoyance of a frustrated Mrs Violet Gobble from Penge who is asking about the tenderness of carrots within the medley of vegetables served with the Chicken, Leek and bacon puff pastry pie.

‘’scuse me mate….did you say that it’s a 85 minute wait for food?’ says I…

There’s a pause while he tries to calculate 1 hour 25 minutes into single minutes.

‘Yeah’ he says with mouth breathing pie hole open… ‘unless you want the Carvery’

‘The Carvery’ I reply.  ‘Do I look like I want a plate of stewed veg, bullet hard roasties and constantly reheated meat on a Thursday afternoon?….. No I don’t do I?’

He remains stationary, mouth agape.

‘Do you think this information may be relevant to us, the assembled throng? (gesturing to crowd of Jubs behind me) or were you hoping that we would all purchase drinks and so would be trapped and fall for the old 85 minute trick?’ I continue…

….nothing from faux hipster barjub…. He remains stationary with mouth open…

I turn and leave returning to the garden to deliver the bad news my tribe.  I look back and see the queue I’m in all move up one place as they are hardened Carvarians in dire need of the three meat platter with small jug of gravy.

We are in Wroxham for the final trip.  A boat journey up the broads on an Edwardian barge.  I’m seeking tranquillity and I get it in spades.

The boat is a fantastic piece of craftsmanship in immaculate condition.  The boatman must have been some kind of Thesp in his time and he regales us with stories of this lovely stretch of water and the peacefulness it oozes.

I’m reclining in the moment when I notice the boatman slightly quicken his commentary and fumble under is seat for what appears to be a table tennis bat.  Ahead on the river I notice a launch heading our way creating quite a large wake.  The occupants are a couple of middle aged herberts clearly on a trip from South East London who have decided that the 3mph limit doesn’t give off the ‘Miami Vice’ opening credits vibe they are looking for.  These boatmen are bouncing along with the speed (6mph) roaring with laughter.

We are almost adjacent now and I notice my Jerome K Jerome commentary has temporarily ceased from the Thesp.  The liberated table tennis bat is actually a sign with ‘3 MPH’ in large black letters and the Thesp is frantically waving it to get the attention of the London Scum who are upping the ante on ‘Mirabelle’ to an out of control 7 MPH.

As we come directly alongside the Thesp explodes with a violent outburst of ‘SLOW DOWN!!!! SLOW DOWN!! TOO FAST!!!’ while waving the bat in the direction of their cabin.  I look at the herberts and they temporarily stop laughing before shouting back ‘SORRY MATE’ in that tailing off way that you hear when giving abuse to a passing driver on a road.  Once out of bat range we hear the Mirabelle accelerate again and the laughing start once more…

Our commentary continues after Thesp has regained his composure and we trundle off down the river in peace at last….

The point of this holiday was for this family to bond after what has been the motherfucker of all years.  Clearly I’m speaking from a personal perspective but I’m not hearing many good things about 2016 in general so far so I’ll assume it’s just been crud all round and continues to be so with crap on all sides from death to illness to life changing decisions affecting my tranquillity arc.

We had a fantastic time in Norfolk and joking aside I recommend it to anyone looking for a peaceful getaway within this country.  The weather was excellent, which was a bonus, and the people were friendly and welcoming if not slightly eccentric and occasionally stupid.

And so back to work. Christmas is imminent. Bring. It. On.

Next Time: A ‘Moment of Clarity’ as I discuss alcohol and its part in my downfall.

Partridgeville: The Dead Zone

Holiday time.  This year it’s England not through direct choice but more due to circumstances.  A tough year meant that all plans were thrown into flux and so the usual early booking scenario for the top apartment in the Med was hanging in rags. Call me old fashioned but I’m never getting on the package holiday bus at midnight from a Spanish airport not knowing where I’m going only to find I’m in pisshead hell with no escape.

By the time we reached July we still had nothing and so went for a couple of weeks in North Norfolk staying in what appeared to be a converted stable. I was sceptical but also know that Jen has always secured top drawer accommodation when we’ve gone away so didn’t panic too much.  She showed me the place on line and it looked great so I was happy enough.  It was secluded yet near enough to everything we needed.  It also had a games room with ‘wiff waff’ table, full-size snooker, dart board, 80’s games machine and electric organ.  It was a proper 80’s pub games room.  Just to be clear the electric organ wasn’t the draw but the tennis court and trampoline were particularly appealing to the kids

We could easily have stayed at home this year but I felt the need to spend some proper time with the kids who have suffered through all the adult shit I’ve had to deal with.  They are rightly innocent to that crap and so needed some Dad and Mum attention.

We load up the car with what seems like half the house and I attach the bike rack tightening the one major bolt to the point of exhaustion such is my trust in it and we head off.  As it’s me and I’m heading off on holiday it is raining hard.  To explain this you need to understand that I once visited a water park in Majorca in a thunderstorm where I really needed a coat and a blanket.  I’ve also hired cottages in Kent and Dorset where I’ve been forced to light the fire in August.  I’m not lucky with weather wherever I am so my expectations are low.

It’s only a three-hour journey and we arrive, in the rain at about 1600 hours.  I am now in literally in the middle of nowhere and as a Londoner I start to hyperventilate, I mean what if the Wi-Fi doesn’t work or have sufficient power to maintain my online bollocks?   I enter the building after liberating the key form a locked key case by the door and before the bag I am carrying has hit the floor I’m logging on….

The Wi-Fi doesn’t work.  Holy. Fuck.  I’m in a social media Dead Zone…. My hell, My nightmare…. I am on Devil’s Island.  Jen rightly ignores my woe and looks around the place.  It’s lovely and in reality it provides everything we need to relax without being bound to the intergoogles.

While Jen and I work out the layout and appliances the kids run off and meet the farmers dogs and disappear into the games room.

The place is really nice and feels like home and so we settle in for the chill time.

The next morning and I’m getting ratty that the Wi-Fi doesn’t work.  This is really quite pathetic on my part but shows how reliant we all are on our devices.  Of course some off you will talk a load of bollocks about how this is a good thing while you read this blog on-line.  It’s not a good thing.  We’ve evolved beyond struggling for technology particularly when you’ve paid for it in advance.

The ‘farmer’ appears at my door.  I’m disappointed to find that he has all his own teeth and isn’t wearing a jerkin with a lace up neck.  He’s not actually a farmer at all but a bloke with his own fence erecting company.  The plot I’m on hasn’t actually been a farm since 1948 which begs the question as to why it smells like a pig has shat on my face.  Ahhhh…. ‘The smell of the countryside’ as the Monster would say between explosions.

I explain my Wi-Fi trauma to Matthew the Fencer who says:

‘oi don’t know nuffink aboot thaaaat….’opefully it’ll kick in layterrr’.

He doesn’t actually sound like that but that’s what I get.  He suggests that I use 4G as if that is acceptable.  I’m about to use the traditional North London greeting of ‘Listen Cunt…’ but Jen, seeing the c-bomb is imminent, interjects with complete diplomacy pretending that we/I am here for the countryside and it’s not really that important.  I slunk off to the games room to chuck some darts while swearing a lot leaving Jen to exchange pleasantries with the Fencers wife.  Jen’s great with Yokels.  She reminds me of Captain Cook bringing news from the King to an Island of peaceful Hawaiians moments before they tore him apart.  Jen is the expert at this stuff, I am not.

We head into the local village to get an idea of what is near.  Everything I need is there except the Wi-Fi or phone signal.  It’s 1952.  The local boozer looks good and there are a couple of eateries and a shop.  I’m happy…..well, as happy as a man without Wi-Fi can be.

We load up on provisions and head back to the homestead to relax and play with the kids.

You don’t realise how stressed you are until you stop and do nothing.  The contrast between the norm and relaxation is stark.  I’m really enjoying my job at the moment and, bizarrely, am looking forward to getting back involved in it but it does take it out of you and you only notice it when you stop.

With our bearings got we take our first trip out.  It’s a barn complex which is ‘great for kids’ although I doubt it will push the buttons of the Instagram/Xbox North London kids I have sired.

We turn up and all seems ‘Holiday in England’ drab.  It’s a farm type deal with pig feeding, local low-level artwork and the like.  There’s a small circus on the site and a less than crazy golf with the easiest, gaping holes this side of the Red Light in the ‘Dam.

We meander around the place and I notice a Norfolk Cider shop which deserves my attention.

The proprietor of this shack is a tall skinny bloke with teeth that could eat an apple through a tennis racket.  They are not so much in his mouth as sticking straight out as if hammered in place by someone unable to get the required grip on the ‘nail’.  He’s doing that thing I hate, fake cheerfulness covering some deep rooted melancholia probably related to some bodies in a barn covered with a tarpaulin that he regularly visits to say ‘sorry’….

He’s alone yet singing or whistling some 70’s muzak lift tune.  I wait to see if some other jubs will enter his alcohol emporium and on cue some tattooed fuckwits enter his lair.  He’s on them like a Jaguar with flashing teeth and smothering personality.  He pouring away samples quicker than a Russian lab technician and I’m almost tempted to dive in for a free piss up but realise that cider makes me punchy and he’s ripe for some attention.

I choose to watch from afar and it’s clear that he’s an expert in playing the crowd.  He’s telling yarns of apples and 16th Century presses and the assembled lumpents are lapping it up quicker than the free samples he’s pouring down their necks.  This is the difference between London and the shires.  He’s proud of his product and won’t just say ‘cider over there’ he’s selling it even though no one is buying it.  You could argue ‘what’s the point?’…. it’s a fair argument given that he has to feed himself, donate to the local church for his sins and replace the tarpaulin regularly but the point is dedication to the craft and local product.  I admire him for that but he can stick his rancid, grubbing fingered made, bilge water right up his hoop…. It’s cloudy and appears to have bits of beak and twig floating in it.  I ain’t touching it.

We leave underwhelmed and over charged…. The full glory of the English holiday in a sentence.

The following day the weather appears average so we decide on a bike ride.  You can’t really do this shit in London directly from your own door as you might get mown down within seconds by someone without car insurance.  Every time the kids go out on a bike in London I assume that I will be opening a door to a policeman and a priest within half an hour.  Back in the day kids treated their bikes like they had cars.  It was an essential tool of the teenager. Can’t really do that now in London, too dangerous, too much hurry.

We cycle off down some country lanes and see no cars at all until we reach a village 2 miles away.  It’s a joy.  We pick up a cycle route along an old disused railway line and peddle along a route for about 5 miles.  We see no one along the way and the kids love the freedom.

The route takes you to the old station house that is now a tea room for old people.  As we arrive I notice a troupe of old men in blazers with military badges inspecting the station.  Clearly some kind of shit is going down and it’s the worst kind of shit….Local Shit.

Jen and the kids go into the station house for the necessary tea and a slice of cake.  I stay outside and lock up the bikes.  Within a minute I’m accosted by the tea woman who has left her den to tackle a problem she has seen from within.

‘What yea doing?’ she says….

‘Good afternoon, aged and toothless old local crone, I am securing my transport to this temporary fence in order to dissuade local villainy from purloining my goods’ says I….’As you can see (gestures with hand) I am using the very best lock money can buy as a means of….’

….she interrupts…

‘No one has ever locked a bicycle here before’ she says….

‘I’m not in your coven Witch…. I’m from London where these (points to bikes) would be gone in seconds unless lashed to a tree or similar large object.  Now bring the tea,  you know nothing of my world…’   She lurches off.

A lovely cuppa and a slice of carrot cake was had in the idyllic surroundings of Whitwell and Reepham station.

With an upturn in the weather to something approaching a scorcher, the next day we head to the beach.  The beach is my true hell as there are no redeeming features to it.  Sand, wind, heat, flesh…..white, white flesh.  We arrive in a small town and wind our way through the seafront shops following the massive line of traffic the ‘beach side’ car park.  We park up and everyone gives me their bags and I trudge my way along the endless road like a pale donkey climbing a Mexican mountain pass.

After about 35 minutes with no sign of a beach I suggest to Jen that the ‘beach side’ car park might be taking the piss.  She tells me to stop moaning and I point out that I can return her bag to her at any point…. We walk in silence with the kids lagging behind in the endless queue of people heading to nowhere like refugees at the Macedonian border.

And then, over the brow of a hill I see the oasis…. The beach.  We have come to the beach because Jen wants to read a book on the beach in the sun.  No one else wants the beach.  The book and the reading of it are the thing.  Jen has a peculiar vision in her head as to what kids want.  In essences she thinks they want what she wants or want to do what she did as a kid.  They don’t.  They are kids of a generation beyond ours and so need more than the simplicity of the beach.  However, the kids are prepared to have a good time.  They have music, they have books, they have inflatables and the world’s greatest Frisbee:  the ‘Aeroring’. Similarly, I am tooled up with kindle, iPod and DAB radio.  I’ve covered every eventuality.  I will artificially enjoy myself in spite of the situation.

At the cusp of the beach it is noticeable that the lame and overly nourished go for the land grab.  To be fair they have walked far enough for their twisted and swollen legs and so us, the fit, stride on another mile further up the beach to where the beautiful people are.

Now if this were a film I would now be appearing on a sand dune in a heat haze laden down with stuff…. I am Gary Cooper in ‘Beau Geste’ marching to my doom while being harangued by Jen (Sgt. Markoff) to ‘Keep Walking!!!’.  Finally, we reach an acceptable spot where I collapse in a heap in the blistering heat among the pale tattooed masses.

I make no bones about I moaning like a porn star as I’m out of my element but I put on the headphones and look for a sandwich.  It was at this point that it struck me that we had no food.  I look at Jen who has the face of someone who has also realised that it’s lunchtime and we have no food and 1 bottle of water 4 miles from the nearest shop.  One thing is for certain….. I ain’t going.  My job is to carry shit, her job is to fill the bags with the shit.  I have completed my part of the bargain, Jen has failed.

Well, I’m here now so I might as well get involved.  I strip down to shorts and flaunt my pale blue body to the assembled toothless.  Tattoos are a big part of youth culture these days but I’m surrounded by the old school tattooed.  Ham hock arms containing smudged black blobs, there is no precision in these etchings, no finesse.  It’s all gothic writing with names like ‘Amber’ or ‘Kyle’ or Hebrew script down the back.  Tattoos used to be rare now they are a standard for all ages and all sizes.

I’m lying there sweating and notice Jen looks forlorn.  I pull out the phones and through gritted teeth ask her what is wrong.

‘Nothing’ she says….

‘Why don’t you read your book, I mean, that’s why we are here…..right?’ I suggest….

‘Forgot it’ she mumbles…..

It’s a glorious moment for me.  This kind of schadenfreude never happens when Jen is involved as she’s generally faultless. I return the phones and continue to inwardly smile in glory only to fall asleep and get burnt to a crisp as Jen never warned me that white pale skin needs protection in 30 degree heat.

She controls this relationship, she probably controls the weather so I’ll keep my trap shut and will return to the shadows where I carry bags for an eternity over sand dunes and the tattooed bloated bodies of the toothless….

Next time:  The glory of ‘Greggs’ in Norwich, the great Wi-Fi reconnection, seal watching with Chas ‘n’ Dave and the house of a thousand Spiders….

…Every Story has a Monster…

It’s been a tough three months.  The sort of time in your life that you wish you didn’t have to face but as we have thumbs, can use rudimentary tools and basically run the planet from the top of the food chain, you have to.   You have to stand up and be counted and put all the other petty stuff behind you to deal with a real issue….and I did.

On the 16th April 2016 at 0738 hours my Mum died.

Now, I could easily not write this but I feel I must.  I have to write it for myself and so that what it was like for me is recorded somewhere. You, dear reader, unfortunately will be the witnesses to my misery.

Some of you will think I’m wrong to write this tale and you might be right but I’ve been wrong on many occasions in my life so this isn’t really going to make much difference given the decisions made following my Mum’s death.  This is my catharsis so if you don’t want to be part of it stop now.

Of course most of this tale is filled with sadness, tears and bitterness but other parts are so ludicrous they have bizarrely become the most tragic and funny stuff I’ve ever been involved with. Some parts of this are so pathetic and horrific that if you put it in a film you’d scarcely believe it.  I should point out that I don’t feel I’m different or have been wronged more than any of you may have been.  It’s just my version of the madness of family at a time of crisis.

My closest mates have been subjected to these stories during their many hours of consoling me in pubs throughout the North London area and for that I am eternally grateful.

Ok…. Let’s go….

My Mum died after a four-year battle with cancer.  The specifics of it aren’t relevant but it was the type that will get you eventually and it duly did.  I always knew we would get to this point and so I had prepared myself for it way in advance….as you know I’m a bit of a prick like this or as I like to call myself ‘a realist’.

I began to see the end coming at Christmas time.

Christmas is a time of perpetual trauma in my family.  Actually let me clarify, not MY family but the family created by my parents.  In my house we have laughter and fun from the 1st December and throughout Christmas but in the family home where my younger brother and parents reside it’s a different matter.

In recent years it has been filled spite, paranoia, hate and nastiness because no one, and I mean no one, accepts anyone else’s opinion. Yeah, Yeah, I know I have this attributes but not to these professional levels.

Whenever I would visit there was a simmering tension in the air.  You didn’t actually need people in the room for this it was just seemed to seep through the fabric of the place.  In reality this has been going on for decades and in the previous house also where my life was filled with shouting, aggression and low level violence all of which was created by my Father who is a man capable of such extreme nastiness and both verbal and mental abuse that he could make it into a horror movie.

As a child of the 70’s I understood it.  You couldn’t do this shit now as someone would complain but then it was par for the course so I don’t think I’m different or alone but my old man is a different kind of monster.  He’s a man with no remorse, no conscience and no sorrow and all these attributes came to the fore in the final months of my Mum’s long struggle and I was there to witness them in mind boggling 3D technicolour.

In roughly 1992 I left the family home and moved into a flat with and a girl.  It was the right time as I was in a serious relationship.  At some point you need to be able to be an adult without worrying that someone would knock on the door to see if you want a cup of tea.  I was happy and excited and saw it as my jump into adulthood.  I never went to University where life and growing up (a bit) is thrust upon you.

When you leave home you leave the ‘bubble’ created by your parents.  Generally, you soak up the ideas and attitude your parents inflicted on you so it’s good to leave while you are young enough to forge a personality of your own.  I left at 22.

My younger brother has never left.  He has remained in the ‘bubble’ for 42 years old and so is a lone Epsilon soldier within the safety of it.  He doesn’t like me much (he’s not alone in this) as he has soaked up a lot of the opinion my parents have of me.  They see me as some sort of left wing liberal because I won’t instantly agree with all of their 1970’s views.

The ‘bubble’ has always protected my brother.  There has never been a need for him to sort anything for himself, most of his meals were handed to him and the basics of living on your own like washing, cleaning and the like were done while he was at work.

Part of adulthood is coming home at night to look in the fridge only to find one solitary mini gem lettuce and a can of Fosters as you forgot to buy any food, or realising 30 minutes before you need to leave for work that you have no shirt washed or ironed and so you wear a dirty one.  He had experienced none of the day to day shit we all do and so has become a sort of mini version of my Dad, all opinion and puffed up chest with a tendency to tell you you’ll have your face smashed in at any point. Fear not dear reader, advanced warning generally means no violence imminent in my experience so I’m not losing any sleep.  The only person who sees him as scary is him….

Since I left home I have had a lot of grief from the ‘bubble’.  Endless poor advice, opinions thrust upon me about house purchasing or parenthood which are two things my father knows everything yet nothing about.  Over the years I have been only sporadically in and out of the ‘bubble’ as it’s not a comfortable experience.  Bitterness and jealousy rules and even my partial goodwill was rarely reciprocated.  I’ve been charged for childcare, I’ve been threatened with suing over an injury at my house and with police complaints with the phrase ‘I’ll have your job’.  As you can see it’s not a barrel of laughs.  Luckily I ignored it all and carved out my own life.

And then the ‘bubble’ had to deal with a real problem and not one fixed with ignorance and arrogance.

When my Mum reached the final two months of her life I wasn’t talking to her.  We had fallen out over something trivial.  This wasn’t odd.  It happened a lot during my life after leaving home as I wasn’t keen to continue to believe the opinions that were put on me.  On this occasion the fall out was due to my lack of thanks to my younger brother for being at home looking after my mother.  This was a recurring theme but I’d had enough of it as I had my own family and had left home 25 years previously so was of the opinion that if you remained in the ‘bubble’, paying next to fuck all for a hotel service the least you could do was keep an eye on the ill parent.

My lack of gratitude resulted in a swift barrage of expletives being shouted at me down the phone and a period of silence.  To be fair I knew it was coming as I have always been able to tell that grief was imminent from the tone of my mum’s opening line on a telephone call.  The problem really stems from my parents’ insistence that my brother although 42 years old was really somewhere between 15 and 19 years old and so should be protected and praised on a daily basis.  To be fair to him he was unaware of these conversations but I knew what he thought of me as I’d been privy for a 20-minute conversation once where they had failed to put the phone down correctly.  Nasty stuff, ruining me and stating that I was a waste of time and no good for my own kids… I was used to the face-to-face fakery so accepted the first of many apologies with a similar fakery but you never really forget that kind of stuff as it’s not meant for your ears so tends to be the real thoughts rather than the cobblers.

After a few days of silence, I received news that my Mum had been admitted to a hospice with a curt one-line text message from my brother.

The word ‘hospice’ only really means one thing in my mind so after several failed attempts to get information from the twat himself I contacted the Hospice directly.  Within four days I was sitting in front of a Doctor, a very nice nurse and a social worker where I pushed for a timeframe on how long my Mum would have left.  The answer was eight weeks if a last ditch form of delaying chemotherapy failed.  I must admit that this took me aback slightly even though I knew, deep down what was coming in the conversation.

I now had to process this info for myself. So I told the Doctor that I would inform the family but not my Mum.  She had already told me that she did not want to know.

I went home and got my head around it as much as was possible and decided that my brothers would need to know the score so I firstly contacted my older brother who, as expected, reacted with total maturity and intelligence and said he would do anything he could to heal old wounds. Basically he would do the right thing and he made good on that promise.

The younger brother would be trickier.  He is a tense, highly strung individual prone to mental explosions when his emotional level hits critical mass. I rang him up and he was full of irrelevant questions about long since departed Consultants and Doctors who no longer picked up their phones.  I then told him what I had been told and told him to start preparing himself for what would be the inevitable outcome.

He wasn’t having it…

He then described the hospice Doctor who had given me the time frame with the ultimate family word.  It’s an expletive that I rarely use as I was brought up with it and heard it a million times as it was used to described most people outside of The ‘bubble’.

“Bullshitter”

‘You’re a Bullshitter’ could be the family motto. Paranoia, inadequacy and jealousy are the reasons for this word’s frequent use. . Within the ‘bubble’ anyone doing better than those within it was a liar, anyone spouting an opinion that the ‘bubble’ didn’t agree with had got it wrong, if you could be brought back down to earth they would be the ones to do it and they would do it with joy.  It was a family trait that I hope I have pulled myself away from.

‘Bullshitter’.  A Doctor in a hospice.  A professional.  How anyone could think that this man would take a guess or lie to someone in such a fatal position is beyond comprehension.

I couldn’t really help my brother from this point on and so decided to just do what I had to do.  His opinion would become irrelevant as he clearly wasn’t emotionally up to the job.

Over the next few days I decided that until I knew that this was it, until I knew for certain that there was no more chance for my Mum I would keep the 8-week diagnosis between my brothers and myself.  The final chance was they last ditch Chemotherapy but it wasn’t too long before it became evident that that wasn’t going to work as she started to deteriorate quite rapidly.

Now I’m not going to go into the tragic details of that 8-week period and what happened to my Mum as that would be even more inappropriate than this story is already but suffice to say it was heart-breaking and hard to watch.

To see someone fall apart mentally, emotionally and physically without having any control over it is extremely difficult for everyone involved.  The problem with death is the lack of control that anyone has over it. You are helpless.  Helpless to the diagnosis, helpless to the treatment and almost helpless to the time scale.  It is a limbo state, a ticking clock…a long, lonely walk to the inevitable.  All you can do is be there for the person facing it, if you are lucky enough to have that time, and bond with those that are left.  You need to support each other, close ranks and see it out in the most painless way possible.

Of course, none of this happened.

What happened was a pile up of ‘Blues Brothers’ car chase proportions from what is a car crash of a family.  A family created by nasty, with nasty would be nasty till the end as that was all it knew.

Every Story has a Monster and this is where our one comes in…

My father is a man of outstanding belligerence.  He should really be applauded for his refusal to do anything he should do, or needs to do.  He’ll probably live till he is about 200.  He’ll see us all out even in his twisted state.  He’ll drink Whisky till it fills his veins and he’ll smoke till his lungs are black and charred.  He is driven by nastiness and brutal, brutal honesty. Actually that’s not correct.  None of it is honest, it is just his opinion, his belief that you are a fucking idiot who knows nothing and he knows everything even the stuff he has no experience of.  He demands respect yet gives none in return.  It’s all about ‘Me, Me, Me’ even when his wife lay dying in agony.

For years this approach worked for him.  He ruled with a rod of iron and in some ways it was easier to just go with the flow but we all have a breaking point and I reached it long ago. As a small child I consciously decided that making him laugh was the easy route and so I had an alright time.  My brother Dan was a moodier kid than me and so he got most of the rage.  He wouldn’t conform or pander to the whims of a bully and he suffered for it.

To be fair up till the age of about 12 you were fairly safe enough.  Well, safe as in you weren’t totally destroyed by his self-proclaimed superior intelligence and wit. You merely had that 70’s childhood of parents arguing and physically fighting, the odd dry slap and simmering tension throughout the family home interspersed with ‘Jim’ll Fix it’, Len Fairclough being arrested and The Dick Emery Show. Standard stuff.  Oh, Christmas was good as a kid though, a bit like WW1 and the football match…. Except for one occasion when my Mum bought my Dad the ‘wrong kind of Christmas card’ and there was a massive explosion of violence 2 days before Father Christmas arrived.  Lovely.

When you reached your teenage years though you started to take his eye.  As you became aware of yourself he became aware of you and so you would be crushed on many occasions for pretty much for fuck all.  His job seemed to be making sure he was in charge and you knew he was in charge whether it be insisting you gave half your Arsenal programmes from the 1971 double winning season (a gift from The Eternal Champion) to your Australian Cousin, grabbing you by the throat 5 minutes before your Girlfriend picked you up or simply insisting you cleaned your shoes every morning at 0600 hours otherwise you were ‘a filthy pig’.  Luckily football programmes (even classic ones) are usually painful reading, the girlfriend at the time knew the issues and fixed me and I don’t clean shoes for no cunt anymore unless I’m standing before someone I respect like a Judge or a potential new employer.  The old man was all about the domination and he loved it.  He confused fear and hate with respect and love.  We were the beaten dogs who needed food so kept the peace rather than tore the throat out.

But then you grow up and the fear leaves you.  You become an adult with real issues and they become more important than the past.  My Dad just became a thing, a memory that could be side-tracked as I didn’t need his help.  I’d left home, I was fully employed, I’d never needed his money, I’d never needed bailing out so he became an irrelevance even in his aged, twisted state with ailing health he is hard to love.  He now needed me but I was reluctant to dive back in…… unfortunately I had no choice.

When the inevitable time came to tell my Dad that Mum had no more chances and could not be saved and was in the last days of her life I visited him.  I had to tell him to his face because that was the right thing to do.  I went to the care home he was in and told him.

In a stunning turn of events he appeared to show emotion, not for himself but for my Mum.  I felt for him and so promised that I would do everything I could to do everything properly for him as he wasn’t able to do it.  I felt strangely happy…..but I was wrong to feel that way as it turned out it was merely another trick from the arch manipulator.

The last two weeks for my Mum were the worst.  She knew it was coming and there was nothing I could do or say that would calm her.  It was like a slow drive and drop off a cliff handcuffed to the steering wheel of a car.  A Hopeless scenario.  This was the time for the bonding. Let me rephrase that this should have been the time for the bonding but it was the complete opposite.

Instead of pulling together my younger brother started to go fully breakdown. He started to cause problems in the hospice.  He was aggressive and abusive to the staff who were literally angels. They complained to me or it was brought to my attention by the Doctor.  He then ramped it up by threatening to come to my house to batter me as I didn’t agree with him on things like whether my Mum’s relatives should visit her in the hospice.  He felt that was all fake on their as they should have been visiting her all the time anyway.  This is of course complete bollocks and indicative of his world in ‘the bubble’ where that is all that matters.

He was also of the belief that me arranging for people to visit Mum was ‘giving the game away’ to her as she would know that she was dying.  I pointed out to the thick fuck that she was in a hospice and she had bravely discussed funeral arrangements with me on a number of occasions.  He said he was going to complain that they weren’t doing enough in the hospice to save Mum. In the end I asked him to show me the blood pressure monitor in Mum’s room.  He looked about and said ‘Ha…exactly’ as if he had found the smoking gun of hospital incompetence.  I explained that one didn’t exist as it was no longer required.  This was a waiting room with a one-way door.   Nothing registered.  In the end I was told by him that he would only visit Mum alone as he ‘knew her best’. To this day I’m still at a loss as to what this actually means.  He added tension to the tension to create Super Mega Tension… you could almost see it glowing around him.

When the day of days came it was no better.  Mum had gone and I was in the room with her trying to get my head together about how I was going to tell everyone, how I was going to break the news.  It wouldn’t be a shock but I really didn’t want to do it…..who would?  Who wants to spread misery and sadness?  But if I didn’t who would?

For the last 24 hours of my Mum’s days on this planet I was in a room with her and my younger brother. Dan had gone to work aboard and was on the plane when I was told of the breathing change triggering the end.  He could do nothing 30,000 feet up but my younger brother said ‘Got out of it again has he?’ like it was some kind of game he didn’t want to play.  I sat there while my brother spoke about Mum being dead in her company before she had gone.  I had to constantly remind him that she was sedated and could probably hear him. His lack of life experience is fucking desperate and in reality I should pity him.

When I’d said my last goodbyes to my Mum I went home to recharge.  My Dad needed to be told but in a rare moment of adulthood the younger brother insisted that he be the one to do it.   I knew this would go wrong and so put myself on standby.  As expected I was called to the care home within the hour.

I arrived at the place and prepared to comfort my Dad.  Unsurprisingly he was inappropriately chipper.  I walked into his room and was confronted with a question as my younger brother left in a hurry:

‘How did you get here?’  he says.  I told him I had walked.

‘Have you considered going that way? (pointing the wrong way)

‘….er….You know why I’m here right?….’  Says I…

‘…Yeah…your brother told me…your Mum’s died.  Down there (pointing the wrong way) is a pub.  It’s a good pub and behind it is a….’

‘..Have you lost your fuckin’ mind?..’ I interrupt.  ‘Mum has died….4 hours ago..’

‘…I know…. What do you want me to do about it?  You’re the big man with all the power who thinks he runs this family… ‘

….it was at that point that I clenched a fist, placed it calmly on his chin and issued a very violent warning.  He may be a monster but he had created me which means I can be a monster…. Monster 2.0 if you will.  It would have been easy to dispatch him there and then but I realised that I just wanted to go home to Jen and the kids.

I went home.  I rang our man in Hong Kong, who was perfectly in the country, and he took me out with the Spaniard to get drunk.  I got drunk, cried in the pub, went home and cried again.  Me Mum had gone and I was left with the idiots.

Throughout the funeral arrangements I was met with problems from my father and younger brother.  ‘Too much control’, ‘Think you’re the Big man’, ‘I’ll smash your teeth out’ the whole lot.  It’s not unusual for people to react this way following the death of a loved one but the issues and nastiness tend to be lower level I suppose.  Not liking the flowers, different opinions on songs and stuff like that.  I’m pretty sure it’s not normal during the funeral arrangements to be told by your father that you are ‘quite enjoying the attention’ that arranging it brought.

I stoically kept to the path to do the right thing for my Mum, the right things she wanted and not what I was told.  For example, my Father told me that she wanted ‘Ding! Dong! The witch is dead’ from the Wizard of Oz as a funeral song, my younger brother’s felt that he should be the only one in attendance as everyone else were ‘Wankers’ who left her on her own.  Friendship is a two-way street and my Mum could be very offish, aloof and snobbish so it was no shock that people weren’t beating a path to her door during her illness. I’ve seen her failings and I accepted them but it doesn’t distract from my love of her.

Of course the other reason is that people might not be able to deal with it mentally.  No one really wants to see an individual they love or even just know literally disappear before their very eyes in a slow, long decay.  But the main reason people aren’t involved in this stuff when they are not directly affected is because they have their own lives and their own problems.  They also assume, quite rightly, that the immediate family rally in these scenario’s and deal with it in their own way and how they want it.  That is the normal way. But this isn’t a normal family. It’s a mess.  A mess created by a monster set on creating havoc and horror wherever and whenever it could.

The funeral went smoothly and how my Mum would have wanted it to.  No major religiousness, limited black from those in attendance and laughter afterwards.  I accepted the fake thanks and platitudes from my younger brother and father and carried on.  I knew at some point this bollocks would collapse and so it was merely a waiting game.

During the last weeks of my Mum’s time I promised her that I wouldn’t abandon my father and younger brother so I would visit him and ensure that they were ok.  Unfortunately, this didn’t last very long as you give these people an inch they take a mile.   They are the masters of badgering you into submission.

I decided I would visit my Dad every Saturday morning to see if he was ok or needed anything.  He’s in a home but he has complete freedom and it’s not like the classic old peoples’ home where everyone is placed in the sun room in a circle for hours just waiting for death.  This place is nice.  Lovely staff, decent food and it’s clean.  He can even participate in his favourite activity of attempting to keep the whisky distilleries of Ireland in business. They are happy to pick him up when he falls over and will take his regular abuse and threats with little complaint.

I was visiting as agreed but as expected the phone calls start.  Midnight. The phone goes and it’s him asking to talk to my son who’s 12.  I explain that it’s a school night and a 12 year old is in bed but am received with a ‘so what?’.  I point out the time and perhaps it’s a bit late for a call but am told that time means nothing to him and if I didn’t want to pick the phone up I should have left it.  This is the logic.

Over the next few weeks of visits he ups the nasty.  Personal attacks on me about various things including how thick I was a kid (the classic quote being ‘We didn’t bother with you as it was clear early on that you weren’t up to much’), how I show him no respect (correct for once) and how I have stolen ‘his’ money.  Well I didn’t steal any money.  He had no money.  All I did was distribute it in accordance with my Mum’s wishes.  This meant that Dan and I got nothing but our kids did which was fine with us both.  The younger brother got the majority of the pennies available….so be it.

The other outstanding revelation from the old man was that I have been jealous of all my mates for years and in particular our man in Hong Kong.  I’m not sure where this came from.  He must have met Bun about four times in 30 odd years and probably not at all in the last 20 years. Apparently though I’ve always been in his shadow as he was successful and I wasn’t.  Interesting.  I’ve never seen myself as more or less successful than anyone I know.

The only envy I have in life is that of wanting a bigger house and even then it would need extensive acreage and a ‘Grand Designs’ type build so It’s a dream really like winning the lottery.  I’m happy and pleased for all my mates as we all seem to be doing alright.  He took little interest in my life as a child, a teenager and a man.  He is a ‘taker’ not a giver.  I reminded him that in my adult life I’d played over 650 amateur football matches he had seen the sum total of none over a 33-year period.  I was blamed for that.  I was told that when I was nine I asked him not to come to a primary school match.  Because of that he never came again.

The fact is the Old man doesn’t know my mates but uses it as a lever to bring you down to his low level, gutter attitude as he’s not good with ‘nice’. He thrives off hate and agitation.  He likes to rile you, it’s his thing.  He wants the ‘kick off’ and the control.  I’ve seen him insult his wife, his siblings, his in-laws, nephews and nieces, his kids, his friends, his carers and complete strangers.  He’s the fucking master of it even in his current state.  Even though you know this it doesn’t make it any less nasty and hurtful…. In fact, it probably makes it worse as you know it’s coming, it’s not random, it’s not an illness, it’s a calculated approach to dominate and insult.

The old man is all about triggers and true to form he hit my trigger one morning when I visited him.

I turned up and he was more obnoxious than normal.  He was also pissed at 11 in the morning which of course made him more right than me when it came to any conversation we were about to have.  During the usual crap about me being a prick and repeated questions about ‘his’ money I noticed that he no longer mentioned my Mum in any way, shape or form.  He just ignored the fact that she had died as if it didn’t matter to him.  The fact was, it didn’t. He couldn’t care less.  He was only interested in whether he could continue to control us all.  It was my moment of clarity.  I just had to go and not come back.  The selfish old fucker had, through lack of action, made it clear.

Before I left I asked him why he didn’t mention me Mum anymore and he said:

‘…She’s dead.  What’s the point?  She ain’t looking down on us…there’s no heaven…She’s gone..’

He was right.  She had gone and so I had to go also.  I didn’t need this shite any more, I had a family that I loved and didn’t argue with or try to ruin.  Why was I wasting my time with a bloke who cared for fuck all except himself?  So I left to a load of abuse hurled at me over my shoulder. No looking back.  Fuck the pair of them.

Two days later I received a phone call from the looney asking me when I was next visiting.  I said that I needed a break from both him and my brother as I’d had enough or the pair of them so I wasn’t coming.  In classic up-the-ante fashion he told me that they had both had enough of me.

‘Good’ says I, ‘Then we are all happy’ and that was that.  No more effort required.

My parents didn’t really like each other, particularly in the last 20 years. They were like that couple in Father Ted who put on a front when the public can see them but really hate each other in private.  During my Mum’s last weeks, I asked her everyday whether she wanted to see my father.  Every time she said ‘no’ or shook her head when she could no longer speak.  That says it all.  My mum had a stressful life with my Dad.  I believe that ultimately that stress is what caused her illness.  Endless grief for decades with someone utterly selfish, bullying and demanding.  None of us were saints but only one was a monster.

As I said some of you will think this blog is a bit out of order and shouldn’t have been written.  Some of you will think it disloyal to air this stuff publically.  I can see that but I can also see that being treated like a cunt behind closed doors and taking buttoning it up isn’t required. To sort yourself out sometimes you need to chuck it out there and this is what it is for me.

The ultimate challenge in life is coming to terms with the loss of someone you love.  Death makes you helpless.  There are minimal opportunities where you can do anything about it.  What is worse? Hitting the deck from an exploding vein or heart, being crushed by a skip lorry, hitting a parked car in the fast lane on your motorcycle or being eaten away by a disease you cannot stop?  They’re all the same but with varying degrees of shock for those left picking up the pieces.

People say they want to be at the bedside when someone goes but in reality it is horrible.  The utter helplessness is horrible.  I was with my Mum for all the ‘moments’.  Only I was there when they told me she had 8 weeks (8 weeks and 1 day was the actual time it took), only I was there when she was told there was no more hope or treatment and only I was there when she breathed her last.  Those moments wake me up at night as if they had just happened.  They haunt me and will forever.

My Mum was the glue in this car crash of a family unit and now she is gone.  What’s left is a mess and it’s not really a mess I care to mop up anymore.

As my half-brother, The Eternal Champion, once said with regard to our Dad…’You reap what you sow’ and they truly have…enjoy the harvest freaks…

For my Father and younger brother I’ll use the words of Tom Hardy as Reggie Kray in ‘Legend’:

“…. You’re wasting my fuckin’ time…. Wankers!!…. the lot of ya…. Now get out me way…”

Now, I’ve wasted enough of your time and my time on this shower…

Next time some fun.  My adventures in Amsterdam with football teams.  If you were there, fear not… I’m full of discretion.

It’s called ‘…is it the one with the big flappy hands and Adams apple…?’

Onwards ….