The Law of Attraction – pt. 2

Mother and Dad set to work planning my ninth birthday party, with a dedicated fervour that I know my brother Richard monitored with confusion and envy. Even his recent tenth birthday -numerically more pleasing and nominally more important- had ended up wading its way through a Saturday with a desperate humidity of mood. My parents invited children Richard barely knew, but understood to be his friends based on false intelligence (me). The resultant rapport was on par with the pungent proximity and stink of strangers crammed into a fallout shelter. Worse, his ex-‘girlfriend’ Tanya was on the list of invitees, my parents again having been mis-informed that she and my brother were still going steady. Neither of them even liked the girl; while my brother ‘dated’ her, she was eleven and he was nine, a two-year difference that Dad kept insisting bordered on the paedophilic (‘Just think, when she was two, he hadn’t even been born!’) Mother, fifteen years younger than Dad, and confused about the order of cause and effect, declared that Tanya was clearly from a broken home to be robbing cradles so openly, and that if she wasn’t, she deserved to be with the way she behaved. The party was leaden and tortured, with as much atmosphere as Mars. My small prank had apparently worked too well, and my brother’s tenth birthday was entirely ruined.

I hoped my ninth birthday would be no such bust. I triple-checked the list of guests, and had cleverly not yet had a girlfriend of whom to be an ex. To this day, I maintain that my number of relationships, and indeed copulations, is deliberately low to reduce Richard’s options come his inevitable retaliation.

The day arrived. A Saturday, the gaudy sports car of the week, all flash and no economy, perfect for a birthday party. In truth my birthday had been on the preceding Thursday, but I swore my parents to secrecy, warning them that if word got out of my deceit, I would refuse to acknowledge any of my future birthdays, and remain a perpetual nine-year-old. I would never leave to work in the mines, and never bless them with grandchildren. I knew this wasn’t how age worked, but it was the sort of wacky oath that my parents didn’t want to see the consequences of, possible or not.

Thankfully, all of my friends arrived on time or thereabouts, no nasty surprises, pity invites or ghosts of birthdays past. I was turning nine, and rolling deep with the full squad on a Saturday in my parent’s living room. Bliss.

Once all the boys had arrived, there was a final knock at the door. Dad answered it, proudly wearing his laminated tie, and there was Tanya and her mother, framed in the doorway. Tanya looked at the floor, while her mother beamed politely, standing side by side like the before and after photos for a product that ages you thirty years. Dad invited them both in, ushering Tanya towards myself and the other attendees, while splintering off with Tanya’s mother to explain the story behind his tie, and the subsequent decision to use womens’ magazines instead of newspaper for pass-the-parcel. He explained that the increased overheads due to this meant no party bags for the children. ‘I understand that most birthdays have party bags, but most games of pass-the-parcel don’t have the opportunity for a free sample of Opium by Yves Saint Laurent.’

Yes, I had invited Tanya. I knew that Richard would be confused by her being there, and threatened by the idea that she was there at my request. I didn’t particularly like her, and in fact disliked her, especially given the fact that she had now turned up to the separate birthday parties of two brothers, the youngest of whom was 3-4 years her junior. My juvenile mind assumed she must have had no life of her own, attending every event that would have her like a social virus. This girl would fall over herself to make it to the opening of an envelope.

The party was going well, and I enjoyed the tensions I had created. The party games started, and I allowed myself to relax, knowing that if my brother had any kind of payback planned, it surely would have happened by now. Musical chairs went off mostly without a hitch. Dad’s lack of bias with pausing the music was admirable; a Swiss random number generator couldn’t have seemed more impartial. I lost with grace and humility at four players left, Tanya eventually coming out as the winner. I chalked this up to the boys being too afraid to shove her around as they had each other. In every round she drifted round the remaining chairs like a purposeful leper. Women must have it easy, I remember thinking.

The final game was pass-the-parcel, a game which I understood had a tradition of allowing the birthday-boy/girl to win the ultimate prize, while giving smaller prizes on the way to the also-rans of the affair – a chance for everyone to feel involved. Just before starting, Dad was called off to the kitchen by Mother, and as Richard volunteered to step in, my face dropped into realisation with the slow slide of warm wax. The glossy bundle of Vogue and Cosmopolitan pages was handed to me first to begin the passing, as I stared off towards the kitchen, hoping Dad would return quickly. Surely this whole game wouldn’t be left in the hands of my vengeance-seeking brother? A click, and the S Club 7 CD signalled the game was afoot. I eyed Richard throughout, wondering how he might try to corrupt the purity of this beautiful game.

The music stopped for the first time. I was holding the parcel. Interesting, and oddly charitable? I tore open the magazine pages, finding a small pack of Fizzers between the layers. Clearing off the rest of the first layer ready for round two, the edge of one of the pages sliced a tiny paper cut on my right index finger. I masked the pain, and when the music continued, bravely passed the parcel as the rules dictated.

The parcel completed two full circuits, Richard was really toying with our anticipation. The music stopped again. And again I was holding the parcel. Suddenly I understood. I felt as though my stomach had been filled with the blue liquid of an ice pack, while my face flushed hot. I knew his game. He would force me to win every single prize in pass-the-parcel, creating the illusion of a corrupt cabal in my house, where the rich get richer, and the visitors get to watch, irreversibly turning all of my friends against me. I dutifully unwrapped again. A Chupa Chups lollipop. The bastard.

The game continued as I had predicted, sometimes with three full revolutions before stopping the music on my possession once again. I pictured the other parents gathering on our driveway later, furtively condemning my selfishness, and vowing never to allow their child to suffer such barbaric hosts again.

The game continued, each time I unwrapped to reveal a small piece of confectionary, and an accompanying paper cut. I panicked at the thought of my fingers being peeled back in flaps and points, like the curled brown skin of a pineapple. My ill-gotten bounty of sweets at game’s end would be beyond my grasp, my damaged hands preventing me from enjoying the fruits of my labour. I was King Midas, but instead of gold, everything I touched would turn to a blood and finger-flesh covered version of itself.

This was hell.

End of part 2

The Law of Attraction – pt. 1

I was eight years old, and the year was 1999. It was a simpler time: the sweet spot just before 9/11, but just after the invention of the printing press. The period of blissful ignorance after the release of ‘The Matrix’, but before the release of ‘The Matrix Reloaded’. Post-Postfeminism, but pre-Meninism.

A Goldilocks era.

I was a precocious child, the bracing power of my cognition illustrated by the piles of solved Rubik’s cubes stacked at my bedroom window. I quickly learned that they are manufactured pre-solved, saving me from repeating my mistake of jumbling up the first cube I received, which obviously I tried to flush down the toilet like an embarrassing pair of soiled pants.

I had been led to believe, in the run up to my ninth birthday, that an early adulthood would soon be bearing down on me with the rancid intimidation of a wedding uncle. This was thanks to my older brother, who at the age of ten had been roped into an illegal paper round. Illegal due to his age, as well as his conduct in the job. Every round of deliveries, he would choose a house at random to leave out, and bring the extra paper home for my parents. He would then look up the name of the customer he’d deprived, and my whole family would play act the dramatic moment the be-thieved household realised their despair. In a stomach-turning show of brazen callousness, the pilfered herald itself would be disassembled, shredded, twisted and shaped into props to portray the imagined family, as they realised that on this day, the news would not come.

Reminiscing about this practice always brings to mind one particular instance, where my father, pretend-scrabbling on his knees at the letterbox in disdainful parody, wore a necktie cut from the very newspaper his character would never see. We laughed deeply at the misery my brother had caused, until my father looked down at the tie, noting that it had been excised from the obituaries section, and with closer reading, found that both my mother’s parents had died the day before in a collision with a Royal Mail van. His parodical tears quickly became real, while the rest of us, my mother included, continued chuckling unaware, even more heartily in the wake of this renewed, realistic performance. When all had been explained, days later he insisted on wearing the obitu-tie while delivering my grandparents’ joint eulogy. He has since laminated the tie, and wears it at all family gatherings as a cautionary tale. Of what exactly, I was never sure. He continues however to insist ‘it’s what they would have wanted’, and that if he wears any other tie at family functions then ‘the terrorists win’.

The ritual ended soon after, and as a result my parents demanded my brother discontinue the paper round altogether, as they themselves would no longer be directly benefitting from it. Apparently he enjoyed the small amount of money he earned, and carried on delivering regardless. When he continued to leave the house on his bike early in the morning, and returned with ink smudges on his hands and cheeks, he managed to convince us all that the ink was actually coal dust, and he had taken a part time job in a local mine. Such a working class and labour-intensive job for someone so young threw me into a panic. The thought I would have to follow in his footsteps (figuratively, but also literally in the form of hand-me-down trainers) terrified me.

And so at the age of eight and some high fractions, my ninth birthday approached with the misattributed portent of a defaced Tarot card – where maybe someone’s drawn boobs on the grim reaper or something. I expected to have to be fitted for a gentleman’s haircut, and sent out into the world of job.

I mourned my terminal childhood, and vowed to savour the remaining days like an especially sweet gum, destined to degrade into a flavourless, grey chaw. Worse still, I learned from conversations with relatives, and occasional cemetery visits, that the lives of every Goodings man (excepting those still alive), had ultimately ended in death. My deceased paternal grandfather Godfrey Goodings (not the one who’d been burst by a postal vehicle), had lived his entire life prior to his death, surviving war (probably), racism (his own), and state-enforced unemployment (retirement), only to have his life unceremoniously clipped short, like the tail of a fashionable bulldog, at the age of 98. The cause? The affluent quacks with their big-city degrees could find no explanation other than ‘natural causes’.

An apple a day indeed – Grandpa Godfrey ate apple-sauce by the jar-full, sometimes getting through three or four a day. And yet there he rests, underground and unwanted, like a broken sewer system, or that worn-out dildo I found buried in the school sandpit.

So I decided, If I had scant childhood days remaining, I would relish them. I wanted a birthday party of great decadence, a hurrah for the ages that my peers would discuss for years hence, leaning over water coolers or crouching in mines, my only two visualisations of a working adult. I told this to ‘Mother’, and of course, ‘Dad’, hoping they would recognise the dire straits of a youngster in his last gasp of youth, and send my childhood off with glory and abandon, ablaze in a drifting canoe, something I understood Vikings did based on movies.

They agreed to a big party, their one compromise: pass the parcel would be played with real wrapping paper, and not newspaper. They knew better than to risk an attendee tearing back a layer of paper at the cessation of a ‘Steps’ banger, to find their auntie had plunged to oblivion during a hen-do bungee mishap. Or probably a normal death.

 

End of part 1

Money to Burn

This week, I have hilariously decided to write about the inconsistency and choosiness with which rich people (the 1%, the great very-washed, the avec-culottes) donate to charitable causes.

So Australia seems pretty fucked right now, and infographics illustrating the relative size of the total area destroyed by fires are terrifying; almost equal to the entirety of England. But people are donating money, just like they did when Notre Dame caught on fire. And when you compare the size of Notre Dame (a very basic overestimate gives us a ground area of 6.1 sq km) to the area of Australia destroyed by fire (roughly 100,000 sq km), you realise that you could fit roughly 16,250 overestimated Notre Dames into the space of Australia’s destroyed area.

Now I’m not saying that the amount of money it takes to rebuild part of the Notre Dame is the same as restoring an equivalent area of land in Australia. Notre Dame has very exacting designs and proportions, and of course ideally it would look like no fire has occurred at all.
And in Australia you just have houses destroyed, endangered wildlife possibly made extinct with a total of a billion wild animals killed. Although to be fair, some of those animals have very exacting designs and proportions, and of course ideally they would look like they haven’t been killed at all.

And so, logic would tell us that the amount of money donated to each would be reflected by that huge difference, so…

The total amount of money donated to Notre Dame was roughly:
$1 billion!
Wow! What an incredible feat! People must really care about such a large building, possibly because of all the history it has, and all the animals and… No just because it’s old, and because although the donors aren’t fully ‘religious’, and don’t think that God is a guy with a big white beard, they are sort of ‘spiritual’ maybe, and believe that there’s ‘something’. And if there is a god, it can’t hurt that they’ve donated so much money to something which he’s probably a big fan of.

And, the total amount of money donated to the Australian bush fires relief efforts is roughly:
$500 million!
Wow! What an incredible feat! People must really care half as much about the death of almost thirty people, and a fuck ton of animals as they do about a big building! And if there is a god, it probably looks awful that only half as much has been donated to prevent the deaths of things which He ‘created’ (people, animals), compared to something which we ‘created’ (being inside).

It sure seems like the only things worth donating to, are ones shown in action movie establishing shots. If the Sydney Opera House had also started to burn, I’m sure it would have gained more attention from the world’s richest than

This depresses me!

Let’s talk about something totally unrelated.
How about that I recently found out about a campaign to get Big Ben to ring when the UK leaves the EU on the 31st January. And because Big Ben is currently undergoing renovations at the moment, it would cost an estimated £500,000 to get this to happen.
But don’t worry! £200,000 has already been raised, since the Prime Minister himself suggested the fund be set up. It would involve a delay to the current renovation work, installing a temporary floor, and the biggest drawback that seems to have gone unmentioned, the symbolic burning of half a million pounds to appease blue-passport fetishists, whose pants get tight at the thought of a bell being chimed, as though it can symbolise anything other than the death knell of multiculturalism.
It is a fucking clock (yes I know Big Ben is actually the name of the bell, and the building is St. Stephen’s Tower), and the idea that it may not chime at the moment of peak British jingoism is detestable enough for people to donate money to hear a noise at a time. How about someone just gets a fucking recording and plays it through some speakers inside the tower, and then does anything useful with that money?

Similar campaigns include arranging for fish & chips to rain from the sky (and in the north, gravy). And a genetically engineered bulldog the size of a Land Rover Discovery to begin a month-long tour of the nation’s beaches, trained to smoke a Churchill-style cigar, while offering rides to young children.

 

Next time on the bandwagon, I try to actually be funny, and attempt more detachment from social issues by refusing to take a stance on ISIS.

In Which I Step Back From My Royal Duties

The mixed public response to Harry and Meghan’s decision to undergo a joint royal-ectomy has been surprising. After I heard about it, I expected people to react with a similar level of bemusement as to when Shia LaBeouf declared he was ‘not famous anymore’ by writing said sentiment on a brown paper bag, which he had filled to the brim with his own head. The boomer contingent of the vocal respondents of the news seem to also have chosen to wear bags over their heads, but with a hastily written ‘I am not racist anymore’ over the front. And instead of a cheap brown style, they have opted for a plain crepe paper design, filtering everything they see through a suffocating haze of whiteness.

A strange upshot of the news was Eamonn Holmes’ remarks about his dislike for Meghan Markle, based purely on her appearance and having never met her. Instead of repeating and discussing those remarks at length here, I decided that I would visit Eamonn myself, based on the weird assumption that in getting to know him, I would be in a better position to offer an opinion on him. Having never heard of me, and knowing only that I am a white, English man, he chose some random adjectives out of his head, and decided that I was to be trusted, and allowed in his home.
Unfortunately he wasn’t there when I arrived, as he had taken a last minute trip to the cinema to see the terrible film ‘Cats’ (the idea for which I am solely responsible according to last week’s blog). I asked his wife why he had chosen to see the film, given its terrible reviews, and she explained that Eamonn was sceptical of the opinions of people who had actually seen the film, as they were biased by information and experience. I had already left by the time he had returned home, but politely texted him to ask what he thought of the film. He told me that after buying a ticket, he had sat in the cinema foyer, eating popcorn with his eyes closed, imagining what the film might be like. He added that all he knew about the film beforehand was that Jennifer Hudson and Idris Elba were in it, but that the film was definitely shit for unrelated reasons.

Harry & Meghan’s decision to try to move towards being financially independent seems beyond reproach though doesn’t it? I hope for everyone’s sake they can manage it, although if they don’t I did recently play a Nazi on Doctor Who, a role that seems suited to Harry’s interests if it should become available again (I have decided I am allowed one humblebrag per blog). Obviously Meghan is already an actress, but I worry that she is now only seen as a princess, and would struggle to get cast as a series regular on Suits again. Surely she’ll be relegated to cameos in The Crown, Internet pop-up ads for skincare (‘middle-aged women hate her!’) and terrible Comic Relief sketches where she is hilariously revealed to be the next James Bond or something. My money’s on her releasing her own fragrance in a year’s time: Treason, by Meghan.

Obviously I can completely relate to their situation, also wanting to be financially independent from my grandmother. No-one likes grovelling, and asking for a £50 birthday donation two months early just sounds sarcastic. I am in a bit of a dry spell work-wise though while I wait for some dosh to come through. I’m trying to stay busy in the meantime, but with every creative task I keep telling myself there’s something else I should be doing that’s more worthwhile. It’s a defeatist chain of self-criticism, like a human centipede where the person in front of you continuously asks: ‘is this really the best use of your time?’ At least the actual human centipede participants had someone else to blame for wasting their time. Assuming you consider the consumption of human shit a waste of time, which personally I do, but I’m not here to yuck anyone’s yums.
To be honest, I’ve never even seen The Eamonn Human Centipede, but I’m certain it’s ‘incredibly irritating’, ‘awful’ and ‘manipulative’.

Next time on the bandwagon – Who has two thumbs and loves writing? This drawing I made of a dog, with chimpanzee hands, and the brain of Hilary Mantel.

Midnight

I am very bad at time management. In the past, I found the time to write a blog which ridiculed, lambasted and figuratively pissed on the idea of New Year’s Resolutions. But I soon stopped writing a blog because I felt I didn’t have the time.

And yet here I am, having been without a regular 9-5 job since July, realising that I have more free time than I’ve had since university, and I decide the best time of year to start the blog up again is in the wake of a New Year. A blog as well, the most New Year Resolution-y of writerly pursuits (aside from starting a novel, or a manifesto). No doubt my next entry will be about ‘commitment’, only for me to give up the blog once again the following week.

One should never admit to being a hypocrite. And certainly after telling people not to admit to being a hypocrite, admitting to would make me a double hypocrite. But I am.

The reason I have been without a proper job, was to begin a lucrative career as someone you might glimpse in the background of TV shows. You can currently see me expertly not drawing focus while still wearing a tuxedo in the second episode of ‘His Dark Materials’, directed by Tom Hooper. My character was unnamed, an unusual affliction which would have made it hard for him to introduce himself to the other characters in the scene. In a cruel twist of irony however, he also apparently lacked the ability to audibly vocalise, and chose to simply move his mouth in a pathetic mockery of real speech. I had no doubt it would make him seem like a very odd party guest, but at least he was unable to explain to people why his parents never thought to give him a name. I spent some time exploring this in an iPhone video which I sent to the production team. Look forward to seeing it in full on the DVD extras.

I didn’t get a chance to speak to the director Tom, very much, but I did say one thing to him. The characters in the show have ‘daemons’ (think witches’ familiars or unproblematic spirit animals), and so among other animals, there was a cat wandering around the set. I pointed it out to the director and said ‘Hey Hoops! Maybe that’s a movie?’

After a little back and forth regarding who ‘Hoops’ was and whether or not I had the right to shout during a take, I distinctly remember telling him that I’ve always found cats to be very sexual animals, uncomfortably so. And that I’d often wondered what would happen if The Island of Dr Moreau was relocated to the uncanny valley. In response, Hoops said that further outbursts would lead to me being removed from set. And the rest is history.

A few friends texted me after the episode aired, asking if that was indeed me in the background. Obviously I was absolutely devastated, considering that my entire job as an extra is not to be noticed. It makes it very hard to find good representation for background acting, as once you’ve been noticed, you’ve disqualified yourself as a worthwhile extra. My trick is to phone up agencies, telling them that I was involved in productions that I’ve never been anywhere near. When they phone back telling me they couldn’t find any footage or paperwork corroborating my claim, I respond ‘Exactly. I was completely unnoticeable,’ since that’s what I assume they want. It has yet to work. The spectre of a normal job looms. Unless someone decides this kind of writing is worth paying for.

I have kind of made resolutions for the year, but it’s really just using the ticking over of midnight, and the flipping or binning of a calendar (depending on if you bought a 12 or 18 month one) as a chance to reflect, and being allowed a reset button on behaviour and habits you want to examine or even purge. I won’t detail my resolutions here, but let’s just say that one of them rhymes with ‘get rich and famous’.

Yes, I plan to ‘Net Twitch-Banned Gamers’ for a rival Let’s Play streaming service. Wish me luck.

I guess my New Year’s Resolution should be for this blog to be better. And the streaming thing.

Good luck to everyone attempting to better themselves this year.

In the words of Grizabella ‘A new day has begun.’

 

Next time on the bandwagon, I explore how rappers are like our modern day poets. If you ignore all of the modern day poets.

Job Insecurity

As of today, I have begun trialling a new system with my employers at my office job, wherein I will cease to come in to work, ever, and in exchange they will no longer pay me a salary. It sounds risky, but I will be left with a lot more time, and they will be saving a meagre amount of money, so it’s almost win/win. In the four years I’ve been there, I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of it before.

My send off on my last day was characteristic of the impact I had on the company, which is to say, small. And your send off is quite a good measure of how you’re perceived by your colleagues – some high level employees get to leave with the fanfare suggestive of a beloved head of state stepping down from office, with bittersweet, modest tears flowing as they reminisce on how far they’ve come since their humble beginnings. They recite anecdotes demonstrating the growth of the company under their stewardship (different carpet) or demonstrating that underneath the pay rises and loss of humour, they’re still the same old lovable fool they always were (same haircut).

And then there’s the less graceful exit I’ve managed to avoid; the easy sacking of the perpetual probation-dweller, who slips up one day and fully falls asleep at their desk, as a YouTube playlist entitled ‘Classic Vines That Give Me Life’ reflects off their drool-drenched keyboard, and one twitch of their head plucks the headphones from the computer. They jolt awake, and heads whip round, to the sound of a screaming goat video that echoes all the way to the ‘healthy’ vending machine. They are marched out of the office by someone only one rung above them in the company hierarchy, who hastens them out with smugness, excited to finally exercise power over literally anyone else in the office. The employee speaks only a few words of protest on their way out, while the rest of the office is hushed, heeding the warning to wait until you’ve passed your probation before you start seriously taking the piss.
I got well past that point fortunately. And even then the depths of my piss taking only reached to submitting the real name of the Green River Killer as a colleague I felt deserved recognition.

But my last day ended with a whimper rather than a bang. A card from people on my team, including messages and signatures from people I have surely never met. I’ve cultivated quite the skill for not signing leaving cards for people I don’t know. A simple ‘Who?” and a blank look is really all you need. But you can feel the social pressure dripping from these messages, forced to participate like a teenager in a family photo. I imagine them constantly flipping to the front of the card making sure it’s not for some other event they would equally not care about, like a birthday or bereavement. I should clarify, I am complaining about having too many signatures in the card. I understand people wanting to make me feel more popular, but I’m well aware of the choice I made to be a sullen and unapproachable dullard at my job. My body sleeps at night, but my charisma slept between 8am and 2:30pm Monday to Friday. I understand that it’s a charitable impulse, to trick me into thinking I was more liked than I was, but it just feels like copy and pasting with minor differences to pad out the empty space, like doing CGI work on a huge crowd scene in a movie.
I did at least get a gift from my boss. It was a book, called (I’m not making this up) Get Your Shit Together. Part of the newly popular trend of self-help books having sweary titles to prove that, hey, this isn’t your grandaddy’s self-help. This one’s a stone cold badass who does their own tattoos and steals bikes from bigger boys.
I’m sure the book was not given as a passive aggressive slight, suggesting that me leaving the job was somehow indicative of my shit falling apart. Totally sure.

My current plan is to write shit like this, and act in the background of various movies and TV shows. At least if I leave that job, I’ll be working with actors, so hopefully their goodbyes can be delivered a little more convincingly.

Next time on the bandwagon, the forgotten war on E numbers.

Absent Minded

It’s been a long time since I wrote a blog, almost a year to the day in fact. Since then I assume I have become immeasurably worse at writing them, so expect me to occasionally lose the thread of what I was do you think Australian people refer to England as ‘up-over’?

But don’t worry, learning to write is like riding a bicycle. It takes you ages to learn, but when you finally do, it’s scary, no-one respects you, and you look stupid doing it. Regardless, I feel that it’s important to practise self-expression, if you can call this self-expression. It forces you to solidify your beliefs, even in small things, because you have to stop and consider what you think well enough to be comfortable storing it in a semi-permanent way, and interpreting it for other people. For example, I realised this morning that one of my eyebrow hairs was roughly an inch long and mostly white. With the privilege of being able to write this blog, I now understand how I feel about that eyebrow hair, which is ‘bad’. Thanks art!

I already feel as though I’ve run out of things to say about self-expression, which I might be able to describe as ironic if I could remember what that meant. I feel like someone who bragged about living in France for a year, then returned a decade later only to find they can’t remember the French for déjà vu. Maybe I don’t vary my writing environment enough, I tend to write in cafes, and while I know there’s a wanky stigma attached to people who do that, I genuinely feel less distracted when I’m not home. Although I am currently being distracted by a guy sitting outside the cafe I’m in, facing the same way as me, so I can see through the window what he’s looking at on his phone. And it turns out he’s come to a cafe so that he can zoom in on pictures of cars on his Instagram feed. But I’m not here to judge. Coming to a cafe to write might seem wanky, but I think it’s much worse to come to a cafe just to drink coffee. At least this guy has a purpose. I mean, he is sitting facing a busy road already, absolutely lousy with cars. If I had come to this cafe to write a blog, only to find that outside the window was a real life version of my blog, already written, I’d feel pretty content to just leave, knowing that my work was done. But still, coming to a cafe with no ulterior motive feels suspicious. Just staring blankly into the middle distance, contemplating the taste of the coffee would make me think you’re a mystery shopper, or a psychopath. I personally see the coffee as a pretext for finding a space to write, like it’s the social contract that I have to adhere to in order to write outside the house, unless I go to a Iibrary. But you know, I don’t wanna.

This has been the least thought through blog post I’ve written. If you’ve ever watched a 100m race on TV, you’ll sometimes see the athletes practise their starts before the race, by bursting out of the blocks, and then quickly decelerating to a jog about twenty metres later. That’s this blog entry. And if it does go up, with this end disclaimer, something’s gone terribly wrong and I’ve been hacked, or died in the meantime and my friends/relatives have decided to try to publish my final masterpiece in its original form as a way of honouring my blogging legacy. Or more likely, I will have put it up as a cautionary tale, as a lesson about how bad it feels to not try your hardest and then have people see your lack of effort out in the sun. That’ll teach me.

Next time on the bandwagon, a history of how Funko Pops replaced the bobble head, by asking the simple question ‘what if it didn’t bobble?’

Movin’ Out (Tim’s Song)

It will soon have been 10 years since I first lived away from my parents’ home for an extended period, and by ‘soon’ I mean ‘in two years’. Aside from university accommodation, I’ve lived in five places since then, soon to be six. The numerous indignant sixty year olds that no doubt read my blog will be asking ‘well instead of wasting money on agency fees and deposits by moving multiple times, why didn’t you stay in one place, and save money for a deposit on a house?’ And to those people I say, no, I can’t afford a deposit on a house, because in Bristol where I live, the average house price is now nine times the average salary, let alone my paltry salary due to me working part time, since working full time in an office would cause me to become so depressed I’d probably kill myself, which would at least ease the competition slightly for everyone else. My current plan is to rent flats until this blog reaches a critical mass where it becomes just so brilliant that people have no choice but to buy me a house in exchange for the privilege of reading it. Here’s an example of something pleasant aimed to cause chuckles, so you know I’m getting really good at doing this blog:

 

If animals worked like Pokemon, I’d definitely wait until my badger learned quick attack before I evolved it into a panda.

 

See? It’s something isn’t it?

For now though, I’m going to be moving in with my girlfriend, which may seem like a big step to some people, until you realise that you move in with your pets instantly and they don’t even chip in with the bills (unless they’re a duck. Jesus Christ I’m fucking nailing this blog). But each time you move, you have to re-evaluate all of your belongings, and decide if you’re happy to be seen loading these things off a van by your new neighbours. Would they mind watching me unload my ornamental gongs, or numerous instructional tomes on homemade air horns? One thing I have suggested which my girlfriend has vetoed, is to go to our nearest new neighbour’s door, and leave a pair of ear defenders with a note reading: ‘Hi neighbour! You’re gonna need these!’ with a cheeky winking smiley face. Obviously we won’t specify what they’re for, but hopefully they’ll make a disgusting leap of logic that leads them to worry about the imminent prolonged sounds of industrially loud sex. Little do they know it’s actually for the ear-piercing sobs of my girlfriend who will realise very quickly that living with me is misery. Such a sweet prank.

In the lead up to the move, I’ve unfortunately found myself watching a fifteen minute long YouTube video entitled ‘You’ve Been Storing Your Comic Books Wrong This Whole Time’ which I found to be a very presumptuous title. Granted, I’d been storing my comic books loose on the back of a flatbed truck travelling at 60mph on the M4, but they need to breathe don’t they? I plan on having a separate area in which to write this barnstormer of a blog/runaway train of verbal success, where I’ll likely store my comic books, so I have an area designated for writing and creativity to prevent me from being distracted. How could I expect to get any writing done in the living room with the distraction of a TV, or family and friends? I should stress that I don’t see this separate room as equivalent to a ‘man-cave’ – a concept which seems reserved for men who still use the phrase ‘she wears the trousers’, and apparently undertake activities so heinous and Neanderthal that the space in which it happens isn’t even afforded the designation of ‘room’, in case this attribution is somehow considered too feminine. Caves are mostly reserved for Batman and moss, so unless you’re in the spare room trying to work out the identity of the Joker while your butler bandages up your broken ribs, maybe calm down, or get photosynthesising.

 

Anyway, I have a lot of organising, flat viewing, and comic book storage methods to reevaluate. The first place we viewed had a landlord of a similar ethnicity to my girlfriend which she thought might give them a connection and give us the edge over other potential tenants. Unfortunately he seemed to answer any questions she asked by addressing me, the only white man in the room. So much for cultural kinship taking priority over societal sexism. When we explained our desire for the second bedroom to be an office, he also asked if I planned to turn it into a man-cave. I considered countering the fatuous suggestion by explaining I planned to actually turn it into an equally ridiculous racial enclave, instead of a gendered one. Although I’m not sure what the optics on the phrase ‘white-cave’ would be, so luckily I restrained myself. Anyway the living room was shit so we won’t be living there. I’ve asked my girlfriend to tell the next landlord who asks a similar thing that she plans on letting me have full use of the entire flat in a daringly modern move, but I don’t think she will. She’s the boss after all.

 

 

 

Next time on the bandwagon, I completely flip this entry on its head, and instead of writing about ‘moving out’ I talk about ‘moving in’. What a talent.

Paranoid Solutions

Everyone’s out to get me presents! – Optimistic Paranoia.

I know you’ve all been talking behind my back about when I’ll finally get around to writing about paranoia. Well here I go, so you can stop harassing me now. I assume that’s what’s happening. Otherwise I get a lot of strangers approaching me with very little pretext. I seriously had someone approach me last weekend who just wanted to ask if I thought true power was showing weakness or if it was showing strength. I’m not joking. I was sitting reading a book on a park bench and he walked up and asked me what I thought power was. I’d blame this hypothesised blog-voracious cabal for this sort of shit, but I honestly don’t believe such a baffling encounter could be manufactured for any purpose, aside from blind-siding someone before trying to convert them to Scientology. Anyway, now my Thetan level is balanced, I admit, I can only talk about paranoia in a general sense, not necessarily as a clinical condition. Lord knows I’m not qualified to attempt to educate on a mental illness, no matter how many TED talks I’ve read the titles of. Remember that one on being successful? Yeah I didn’t watch it either, but I’m pretty sure one of the tips isn’t to admit all of your weaknesses to a stranger in a park.

 

Paranoia’s obviously worse than just believing you’re unlucky, since that’s down to just being on the wrong end of chance. Although I suppose if your bad luck got so exaggerated, like if you consistently trod in dogshit every single day for a week, and it wasn’t even the same dogshit each time, you may start to think that there was some sort of deliberate design behind what was happening. You could possibly view the potential for paranoia as just a movement of the threshold at which you can no longer accept coincidence as the reason for unlikely events. In that way it feels like it goes hand in hand with believing conspiracy theories. Really the only difference is that a conspiracy theory suggests a concerted effort to cover up the truth, and hide what’s happening. So perhaps your daily dogshit dalliances are the result of a collective with a vested interest in stopping you from enjoying your walk to work. Or trying to turn you against dogs? It wouldn’t take a huge leap to then assume that the culprit would be cats with ties to the automotive industry. But personal paranoia can be just as outlandish, but also with only one perpetrator. For example I once went on a date with a girl who worked in a shoe shop, and rejected her advances at the end of the date. Since then every pair of shoes I’ve had has either fallen apart or caused the skin over my Achilles’ tendon to bleed. It doesn’t help that we went dancing on the date, and I’m wondering if the shoe problems since could be down to me somehow literally being cursed with two left feet. But in reality, I know that it’s because I’m cheap, and therefore rarely splash out much money on shoes, so end up buying ones of shitty quality. Or I end up not paying my way on dates I’m not enjoying, and see that as a pre-emptive rejection of an inevitable advance from my date.

 

I actually have a decent pair of shoes now, which I recently found out, are somewhat similar to the pair every single member of the Heaven’s Gate cult from 1997 were wearing when they committed mass suicide. The specific shoes were black Nike Decades, which Nike have since discontinued, apparently to distance themselves from a religious death cult. That seems paranoid. I don’t think anyone would have assumed that Nike were the official sponsor of mass suicide, anymore than people think Yale are the official sponsor of kidnapping. That is a non-connection that does not need to be stated, and if anything just sounds suspicious. On an unrelated note, no matter what you may have read or heard, I am not now, nor ever have been, affiliated with that pile of foxes outside my house. I know my silence on this issue has been deafening, but rest assured, any reports of my connection with said foxes is an entire fabrication, and as such I will be discontinuing my wildly successful fox-based t-shirt line to ensure there is no confusion. The fact that all of the foxes were wearing my t-shirts, is frankly unimportant and irrelevant.

True power is showing weakness, and true weakness is admitting that you don’t know what the fuck is going on, instead of imagining a situation where you’re always the victim of unrealistic and ridiculous systems. Maybe your weakness is literally your Achilles heel being shredded by a pair of Doc Martens, or being so susceptible to mass hysteria that you think suicide is the path to an alien spacecraft hidden behind the Hale-Bopp comet, which in a very literal sense is coming out to get you. But when life gives you sour lemons, doesn’t mean you have to drink the Kool-Aid.

 

 

 

 

Next time on the bandwagon, I’m going to let my intern Mike have a go at writing something. His most recent idea was ‘the unsung heroes in the war on dandruff’ so we’ll see how that goes.

See Myself and I

“You look how I feel.” – Pricks who don’t realise how terrible they look.

 

I don’t think you can ever truly know what people think of you, unless you were to fake your own death, and go to the funeral, and only reveal yourself after listening to the eulogies. Not because people would speak about you honestly, but because that would be such an obviously awful thing to do, you would at least know afterwards that everyone definitely hates you. There would probably be a freedom in that, knowing for sure that you’re hated, instead of worrying that someone might dislike you a little – I can definitely see the appeal of it. Okay, the rest of this blog will be peppered with awful false truths about me to turn anyone against me, so I can live in the purity of unquestioning hatred. Like the hatred I felt for that fly I killed that one time (God I’m awful).

A lot of value is placed on how we present ourselves physically. The phrase ‘look good, feel good’ only works to the extent that someone who shows no sign of physical illness is probably healthier than someone who does. But suggesting that putting a bit of slap on will drag you out of your depression makes no sense. You may as well put a bumper sticker on your recently crashed car in the hopes that the mechanic won’t write it off once he sees that ‘this vehicle makes frequent stops at your mum’s house’. Which is only half true. Sometimes I host.

 

In some ways I actually think the opposite can be true. I feel like people focus on their appearance as a way of covering up insecurities, which is not a condemnation, I do the same thing. Like wearing long sleeves because I’m self-conscious of my huge arms. Or wearing no shoes because I’m self conscious of my huge shoes. And now there’s the additional layer of a self-projection on social media to maintain as well, weighing in with a hot take on Twitter, or assuring people on Instagram that you’ve witnessed food. And the more you advance that dishonest portrayal, the thicker the boundary becomes between your real and online selves, making it harder and harder to penetrate the boundary if ever you need to genuinely reach out to people. Think of it like a window you can choose to leave open or one that you can keep adding glass to. Have you ever tried to break a double-glazed window? I have because I’m awful, and let me tell you, it takes a few tries, and if you try for too long, people come along and tell you to stop, even if you explain you’re just working out the realism of a future metaphor.

 

I do wonder if we’re on a constant quest to try to match the outside with the inside, or to trick the outside into the changing the inside? An outside in approach, hoping the make-up and clothes and moisturiser will soak in so deep that it pretties up our soul. Or certainly hoping that other people can be tricked into thinking that’s what we’ve done. But then what’s the alternative (aside from mandatory mood rings obviously)? Walking around wearing a t-shirt that says ‘I’m unhappy’? Because actually it kind of works to project confidence, precisely because our self-worth is often so tied up in how we perceive others to be judging us, whether that’s healthy or not (it’s not). But then it becomes an issue of from where we derive self-worth and happiness. And if it’s from others, for example in how people respond to attempts at insightful writing, then maybe it should be more about what we feel about what we’re doing ourselves. I shouldn’t care if people like this blog, I should just write it to the best of my ability so I’m happy with it. And to be honest, if you have a positive opinion of me after I’ve admitted to killing a fly, owning an awful bumper sticker and breaking a metaphorical window, well then that’s fair enough. Turns out I care so much about what people think that I couldn’t even bring myself to make up more heinous obviously nonsense examples in a blog that no-one reads. Christ, look at me. Whatever version this is.

 

 

Next time on the bandwagon, I submit myself to a series of double blind tests to determine the difference between Venetian and slat.