Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Playing Catch Up

Ho-hum. I feel empty again, like a pornstar's bollocks. I'm not massively depressed despite how this may read. Put simply, I'm just Down. I feel like I'm stuck in a black hole.
Like a pornstar's penis.

Perhaps it's the gloomy weather, or my lack of motivation, but like Labi Siffre, I've got the blues. And it's a bitch.

Tonight, I went to a focus group. Large Northern Flatmate and I are currently roadtesting the BBC's soon-to-be introduced Catch Up TV service, and he sent me to eat the free food and give my two cents.

Except I didn't eat much of the sandwich hillock available even though I wanted to (I've been to lots of groups like this and always end up too embarrassed to cram myself full of free food), plus I quickly realised I don't know much about the TV service to be of any use. I spend too much time on the Internet when I get home.

It didn't help that I was sitting next to perhaps the two most boring men in the Western Hemisphere. If they weren't demanding the digibox comes equipped with a terrabyte of memory (What the fuck's a terrabyte, and when did I stop knowing about technology and turn into my Dad?), then the men were bemoaning the faults of the system. Granted, the group organisers needed constructive criticism, but at one point, I wanted to yell 'Aren't you ever satisfied, you whinging arsesacks?'

And yes, I'm aware of the hypocrisy in that comment.

From my point of view, I was just grateful to be getting a free digibox, even if the picture does stutter and break up occasionally. And even if I don't actually watch much of it.

I think the problem is my subconscious. It's being bombarded by less than subtle reminders that there are things that need addressing. The cute waitress at the Beerhall reminded me that I couldn't chat up women if I did that for a well-paid living and was on commission. The girl who escorted us to tonight's group was also cute, although I soon realised that I couldn't smile or flirt with her as my face was starting to glow red just by thinking about it.
There was an equally cute girl on the tube on the way home, and although there were infrequent glances going both ways, again, I was paralysed. What do I do now?

So I did the only thing I could think of when I got home; head to the newsagents for cigarettes. I'd finished a pack earlier, ironically my Last Pack Ever, only to feel lost enough to want to smoke (until four puffs in.)

At the moment, it's not so much the Thrill of the Chase. The only thrill is spotting a Chase-ee, then crumbling as I open the garage to get in my phallic Lambourghini to discover that it's been vandalised, it's out of petrol, and it now looks more like Trabant.

And then there's my job. I like my job, but I don't love it anymore. I enjoyed learning the ropes, but now it's all about helping my Boss and I get through the day as cleanly and efficiently as possible. I know I should look for a job in a more challenging field, or even in some writing, umm, thing, but I can't face the pain.

And why am I'm always tired? Constantly? When I was at the BBC tonight, there were still a few employees busying themselves at 7pm, and I thought How? If it wasn't the sheer thrill of their jobs keeping them going, then it was perhaps the threat of doing their best in a high-pressure industry and it scared me to want to go back into that world.

I wish I knew what the hell I wanted to do - you know - with everything. When I was 13, I thought I'd be married with kids by 21. In hindsight, I now know that's dangerously young to be settling down without really living first, but I'm 33 this year and I'm not sure if I've ever really lived.

I don't have a career. I look at nice women from afar. I will never be able to afford to buy a small broom cupboard apartment in the city of my birth. And I'd love to have kids but I'll soon be too old to pick the fuckers up.

I know where I'm going wrong in life, and I know the steps I have to take to correct it. But without being sure where I'm going, it makes the journey so much harder. And without the kick-start that I'm waiting for, I don't feel motivated to even try.

But at least I can blog about it and make everyone miserable.

Sorry.

Bloody hell, bring on the summer. I need sunshine.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Beerhall Putz

And so comes the close of an accidental five day drinking session. Without meaning to, I've been in varying states of drunkenness from mild inebriation to, well, not quite standing on tables with my trousers round my ankles singing Somebody Told Me by The Killers, merely simple slurry cheerfulness. And I've slept for 11 hours and totally screwed up my bodyclock by waking up at 3pm on Sunday afternoon.
I couldn't be more alert if I were in a trench being shot at.

Last night was excellent. Hippy Dave's girlfriend was celebrating her birthday at the Bavarian Beerhouse in town, a kitch underground warren of a place that made me want to go to Munich. (In fact, attending Oktoberfest was discussed, although that has probably been forgotten by all concerned by now).



Huge platters of sausages and sauerkraut were ordered, which delighted me and pissed me off in equal measure as I forgot they were coming and had ordered a Bavarian dish that resembled vomit salad (And I'm not commenting on the taste either).

The waitresses were delightfully attired in Bavarian Dirndl dresses, even if they did look stressed at having to dole out stein after stein of Paulaner as the beerhall is largely table-service. (If there were buckets under the tables, I wouldn't have had to move all night.) The waitresses also looked equally unimpressed at dribbling Neanderthal arseholes staring at their breasts all evening, but despite attempts at discretion, I kept getting caught.

Our waitress was particularly attentive - although I have a feeling I was enchanted by her breasts a little too much. I'm currently writing this with a comprehensive, almost sixth-sense recollection of every contour and dip of her cleavage.

Despite my staring, and not helped by the fact that at one point, my friends all cheered just because she'd taken my next order and walked off, I found myself talking to her later on. I had been sitting on a bench alone when she sat down next to me for a chat.
'That's intriguing', I thought. She's a cute marketing student from Austria, and we were having a nice conversation until some sodding customer staggered over to place an order for more beer, forcing her to leave. I didn't see her again until it was time to pay my tab.

Although she wasn't going on anywhere afterwards ("I'm going to bed", she kept insisting, and I didn't want to state the obvious/ creepy), I did buy her a schnapps even though my lovely Muslim ladyfriend expressly forbade me from buying the waitresses drinks. Unfortunately, I have a rather pathetic habit of buying drinks for female barstaff for no other reason than I find them really attractive and it's a quick and expensive way of letting them know when they're too busy and I'm too shy.
When I was told that there was no service charge included in the bill, I gave her a huge tip (money, not penis) and then never saw her again after that. Granted, they were closing and rushing around to clear up, but I was left with the sense that in return for being ogled at all night, they get tipped well over the odds by grateful idiots.

The most powerful weapon in the world isn't the split atom. It's a pair of tits squeezed into a corset.

I got into a mild argument with Hippy Dave in the cab on the way home. I'm currently reading Beyond Coincidence, a daft book with several daft chapters on possible scientific explanations for coincidences, a conclusion that it's probably all chance, then hundreds of remarkable stories.

I dared to offer my amazing story. Six years ago, I was in the small Indian village of McLeodganj, home of the Tibetian government in exile and of the Dalai Lama, where I was in a small bar with my travelling companion and a girl we both fancied. While sitting there, a lady, one of the other patrons, approached me.
'Excuse me, is your name Fwengebola?' she asked.
'Erm, yes?' I replied.
'And did you go to Bournemouth University?'
'Uh, yeah.'
It turned out that she'd studied there at the same time as me. We had a brief chat, then she left the bar as she was about to emigrate to Australia the following day.

Wow. Very weird. Dave didn't particuarly think so. But there was more. Three years after that meeting, I had decided to quit my dead-end job. I was in my life is passing me by phase, and decided to go travelling. I chose India again, Sri Lanka and Thailand, for a few months of finding myself. And when I'd got to Bankgkok, I found myself in a bar called Shamrocks on the Khao San Road. And while I was in this packed bar, that same girl, also there for the night, walked over to me and said 'What are you doing here?'

This still wasn't good enough for Dave. It still wasn't remarkable, or weird, or even meant anything at all. I know what he means as I feel vaguely the same way about it. After all, McLeaodganj and the Khao San Road are very well trodden destinations. Plus a coincidence isn't a coincidence if we don't spot it; they may happen all the time for all we know. But even so, Hippy Dave's still a party-pooping naysayer. In a word of uncertainties, coincidences give us a sense that there may be something meaningful, even magical, in this otherwise godless unstructured world.

They may be nonsense, but they're nice too.

But I know this much; Of all the bargirls I've ever bought drinks for, I'll never coincidentally run into any of them again.

PS ~ My stalker is back, claiming not to be Haggis, and asking if I enjoyed my wank. It is getting rather tiresome.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Erm...?

It is Friday night and I have returned home from work, yet I feel empty and strangely passionless, kind of like how I imagine a date with a quiet Scandinavian clotheshorse would be. (Nothing's girlfriend recently commented on how most fashion designers are Friends of Dorothy and don't care much for the fuller female figure, preferring instead the boney boyish lines of androgynous stickwomen which I found fairly interesting, but anyway...)

I am back home. Large Northern Flatmate has just left for an evening swim looking like a large bald Northerner condemned. I would normally head off to Tescos now to indulge in my regular Friday treat; a shit pizza and a shitter bottle of red, but I can't be bothered. I'm too tired and I want to avoid junkfood.

Instead I am preparing my easiest, most semi-healthy plat du Singledom, Tuna pasta:
Boil some dried pasta.
Add a tin of tuna and some mayonnaisse.
Eat.
Wish you were dead.

On Tuesday night, I met up with Nothing and got pissed. Wednesday, I was mildly inebriated catching up with my Dad. Last night, I went back to Nothing to lift boxes up his staircase and discuss an offensive sketch we'd dreamt up - Crime Detective extraordinaire D.I. Stephen Hawking. We even discussed filming it. I don't think I could possibly ask my Mum if we can borrow her motorised chair, her only means of moving, just so we can be childish and film ourselves parodying one of the world's foremost thinkers.
But I could ask.

Today, I was hungover again and could barely keep my eyes open. Nipping out for a sandwich, I walked past a homeless gentleman who asked feebly 'Can you spare some change, guv?' Not wanting to pretend they're not there and ignore them (or give them any money), I always make a point of saying 'Sorry, mate.'
'Alright, Boris!' he yelled cheerfully in reply.
Dammit, I thought I'd outgrown that. So that's 'German Wimbledon Ex-Champion comment by complete stranger' number 1,306.
So I walked back and hit him.

I have uncharacteristically been leaving my bike at work every evening. When I cycled home tonight and it felt odd, as if I'd never done it before.

Even my stalker's texts have dried up. His last one told me to meet him in a pub and ask for 'Anders Nokram'.

'Strange', I thought, 'I don't know any Norwegians.'

Then I realised it was a rather simple anagram for Mark, aka Haggis, being very very bored in Boston.

So that was nice.

* Tumbleweed skips past *

Eurgh, this tuna tastes like Whiskas and I forgot to refrigerate my pesto and now its grown a beard.
I asked LNF before he left for the pool if he'd like to go out for a quiet drink tonight.

'Mnnn, could do,' he muttered distractedly as he headed for the door, as if he was contemplating washing his pants.

Christ, I'm as bored as the one interesting opinion Paris Hilton has skitting around the immense void that is her head. Nothing could perk me up right now. Normally, I want to do something, even if it's doing nothing in front of the TV. But tonight I am an absolute blank canvas.

What the hell has happened to my life?

Oh. Nothing. It's always been like this.

Perhaps tomorrow will be interesting. I'm off to Hippy Dave's girlfriend's birthday party in a beerhall in town. There promises to be lots of new women floating around who may end up regretting they ever talked to me.
Actually, I may pretend to have a girlfriend. The last time I did that (although I should add that I was actually going out with a girlfriend at the time), I ended up having illicit, cheating sex. I felt awful afterwards but a) My relationship with my then girlfriend was already in its death throes and b) I had illicit, cheating sex with a bisexual Swedish nymph and said sex was FUCKING BRILLIANT. I heartily recommend bisexual women as a carnal partner (if they let you), as they've made a conscious decision to choose cock that particular moment, thus resulting in a pretty wild evening - particularly if that cock is yours.

Hmmm, do excuse me for a minute, I'm just off for a very long shower...

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Karate Avoidance and Dad Bonding

I'm a tiny bit drunk. On the British Summer Scale, I am slightly overcast and a little breezy.

Tiredness has enveloped me like a Tescos Chicken Caesar Wrap, probably because I got to bed at 2am last night. The Nothing Man and I had ressurected our Tuesday night catchups yesterday, the first of 2007. And we were both maudlin. He has his issues, and I had my usual discombobulated self. I admitted that I was out of sorts, although I soon drunk myself amiable, particularly when a barmaid stared at me like an enigmatic blonde Mona Lisa and I drunkenly beamed in reply, and she actually smiled back without vomiting.

'Nothing' regaled me of a one-night stand he had many years ago in the dreary Northern town of his youth, an evening where he found himself regaining consciousness at 4am in a strange bed with a snoring Northern lady next to him, so he desperately crept out onto the street until he realised he had no money for a cab or even a bus. Such was the estate he found himself in - local youths had begun throwing bricks at his head - that he desperately snuck back to the girl's flat and rang her bell to ask her for a cash loan (She told him to go fuck himself).

And despite all my plans for a lengthy sober night, Jamie called half way in to say he was round the corner. So my quiet night became rambunctious.

As was my hangover this morning, so it came as no surprise that I had second thoughts about attending karate/ martial arts tonight, as they put you through an hour of hell while they play at Drill Instruction.

'20 press-ups, GO!' which you find yourself doing with gusto, only to stand up and hear '20 squat thrusts, GO!', then '20 Star Jumps!' et cetera, et cetera. And I always finish this with a half-hour cycle ride home. But not tonight. My Dad's second wife Iris is out of the country on holiday in a disputed territory, so I thought I'd make good on my promise to go out for a fun meal with my Old Man.

And fun it was. Particularly if you're amused by Jews. We went to a deli near the long since demolished clinic where I was born, and drank wine while a gaggle of well turned out elderly women sat in silence with their hen-pecked husbands and looked down on everyone. Dad complained; his computer's broken, he took a man's credit card details as payment for a job, then remembered he doesn't have access to a PDQ machine and none of his friends will help him, and his borscht was too peppery. (My salt beef sandwich lacked a certain je ne sais quoi, my chips were cold, and I resented paying £2.50 for a plate of pickles that in New York delis would be free) ~ all this for 50 fucking quid. A man was sat in the corner while my Dad whispered - loudly - that he recognised him but didn't have a clue what his name was.

Our waitress with teeth braces was extremely friendly towards me, until I realised that I was the youngest man there and probably the only one without a pacemaker, or at least a bad back. But Dad and I bonded through whinging and gesticulation. I could've watched him all night as he turned to see who was coming in to the deli every time the door opened, as he pulled the most astronomical faces simply shovelling stuffed cabbage into his cake hole, and as he made the periods of silence entertaining just by sighing or looking more and more like my dead Granddad* with each passing minute. (*Paternal similarity with dead Granddad was during Grandad's living phase).

I hardly ever see him, and at 73, I know our time together is precious, even if all we do is get together over food and bitch about the world.

And I don't mind missing karate for that.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Stalked

Sunday afternoon. I haven't gone to work in nine days and I feel a little groggy from lack of activity or having my brain taxed.

So when my mobile phone pinged with a message today, I was slightly confused. It read,

'Is that you Fweng?'

I didn't recognise the number. It appeared to come from Manchester. But initially, I thought it an American cellphone number.

I called Jimmy as a mutual friend of ours has moved to Boston, Massachusetts. Said friend, Haggis, is aware of this blog, because Jimmy told him about it as soon as he discovered of its existence the day I really wanted a copy of London Lite. Haggis then decided to make it his mission to make the Eastern seaboard of the United States aware of this blog.

Until he read it, and decided not to bother.

'Your silence is deafening', pinged a new text message.

'Yes, it's me', I replied. Seeing as I write this drivel anonymously, it was slightly odd to be receiving equally anonymous messages on my real life non-Fwengebola phone.

So I must know them.

'Good. I am glad the contact details we have been supplied with are good. My colleagues and I have been monitoring your blog for some time and we were able to obtain your contact details by following the appropriate channels. The nature of our contact is somewhat sensitive but we would like to meet face to face for a discussion. Please confirm your availability tomorrow evening.'

Bollocks. I definitely know them. But who? Most of my friends are either too tight to send lengthy text messages, while the rest can't spell. Monkey Dave's out; his fingers are too fat to hit the right keys. Plus he uses a lot of abbreviations and swears a lot (This is my mate the Science teacher). Other Dave, Luke, Sabina, Rob, Other Rob, Garry, Ally, and Nick don't really care. Martin's a possibility, but my instinct says no. Russell, Trotter, Gay Rog and Even Gayer Paul are more interested in Heat magazine. Large Northern Flatmate would rather die than profess an interest in anything that doesn't involve him. Ex-colleagues Cas, Steve, Angus, Lloyd, Other Steve, Jon and Sally would have to be really bored to pull a stunt like this. So that leaves contenders Jimmy, Phil and Jamie - or rather our extended circle.

Either way, the text-ee isn't all that anonymous to me, and certainly ain't sexy and female.

'I'm afraid I will be having my bikini line waxed tomorrow and for the rest of eternity', I replied.

'This is not a funny matter. We are aware of your address'.

'Remind me, what is my address?'

'I don't have time for your games. One of my colleagues will visit you tomorrow evening. Your blog has upset my organisation.'

The Daily Mail? I haven't even written a post about how much I hate them yet. So I sent another text,
'I look forward to your visit at my address you don't know. Please contact me at work. Wear a raincoat. Your codename is guineafowl'.

Then, as an afterthought, or perhaps in surprise that I hadn't yet done this, I received 'Don't even think of ringing this number, you fuck. If you reveal my identity we will have to deal with you.'

Hmmm. Phil likes to call me a 'Fuck'. But the number, the number...

'Don't worry', I replied. 'I can't be bothered. You are disturbing my watching 'Beauty and the Geek' on Channel 4 anyway'.

And with that, silence. Perhaps they like Beauty and the Geek too and I reminded their organisation that it was on. Although after all that excitement, I didn't see who out of Amanda and Brandon or Tristin and Chris won the fucking University Challenge quiz at the end.

So who's texting me? I don't know. And why is the number it's coming from a landline? But as it's a Manchester number, my guess is someone affiliated with the Brucie Boys' Alright My Loves? Very Amateur Football Team.

Reveal yourself, or else I'll publish that number here! And trust me, some of these commentators will phone it. (Luna, I'm looking at you.)

Friday, February 16, 2007

I Think I May Be Fascist

Chris Rock, as I have mentioned in the past, is pretty much up there in my estimation with God. Which is quite high praise, except I believe in the existence of Chris Rock.

For example, Mr Rock's view on politics is pretty straightforward;

"Everybody's so busy wanting to be down with the gang - 'I'm Conservative, I'm Liberal, I'm Conservative', Bullshit! Be a fucking person! Listen! Let it swirl around your head. Then form your opinion. No normal, decent person is one thing, ok? I've got some shit I'm Conservative about, I've got some shit I'm Liberal about. Crime, I'm Conservative. Prostitution, I'm liberal!"

I heartily agree. Except after reading this today, when I realised I may be fascist.

The headline is 'Toddlers filmed being made to fight by Mother'.
So, that's a mother.
Who puts her children aged two and three into the centre of the room.
Then gathers her friends.
And goads the brother and sister to punch each other.
Oh, and she films it while the adults laugh.

So I've stopped being a liberal and I've become a full-on fascist. All I can think of is sterilisation. Sterilise this absolute cunt of a woman in case she ever dares disgorge more children to fuck up for fun. And sterilise her friends for joining in. And give those kids to the richest foster family in Britain for adoption.

It's little stories like these that bring out the Ghengis Khan in me. In fact, what with Britain being ranked among the lowest of the developed countries when it comes to child welfare, and considering our love of all things being monitored and fined, I'm frankly amazed that we haven't regulated procreation yet.

Because we should.

Are you in a loving, caring relationship and want children? Great.
Do you want to raise a child as your own, and to the best of your ability? Wonderful.
Are you only in this baby-having lark for a free council house? Sorry, I'm afraid answering 'Yes' will result in the insertion of a cement hymen and thirty years of enforced schooling.

All children being born to children (the under-18s) will be banned. The babies will be given to loving families for adoption. The mothers will be locked up until they stop fucking. Or at least fuck legally and sensibly in scenarios that a) leave the fuckers with nothing more than a fulfilling orgasm and b) Don't leave them with an unwanted baby that the rest of the country has to pay for in more ways than one.

In addition, any man who denies his responsibilities as a father will be forever under house arrest, and in the house where his child is. If he doesn't play or love or care for his child, then he can be transferred to a jail until he decides to play nice.
Should he manage to father a second child he has no interest in caring for, he should be castrated immediately before he can create unwanted offspring numbers three, four and five.
And jailed anyway.

If a child under 14 is found wandering about on their own, both parents should be fined £100 for each minute that the child was left alone. If the child is caught vandalising, or theiving, or indulging in Anti-Social behaviour, the parents should have their windows smashed by an unruly mob. If the child is violent and abusive to complete strangers, then the parents' home should be demolished and turned into a Petting Zoo.

CBEs, OBEs, and MBEs will no longer be awarded to persons in the following industries; Music, Broadcast, Grinning, Being Old.
CBEs, OBEs, and MBEs will thus be awarded to parents who have:
a) Raised children who are disciplined and respectful, and have managed this without hitting them,
b) Brought up children under extraneous circumstances, such as in a single-parent unit when this wasn't originally the case,
c) Produced loving children with a healthy understanding of the rules of society and their place in it.

And now, I will stop ranting. Every so often, I get angered because bastards, morons and the selfish have been allowed to reproduce.

I never thought I'd do this, but I'm going to quote a line as hammed up in the most disgracefully wooden way by Keanu-fucking-Reeves in 'Parenthood':
"You know Mrs Buckman, you need a license to buy a dog, to drive a car, Hell, you even need a license to catch a fish. But they'll let any butt-reaming asshole be a father."

Ok, it's not that fulfilling an end quote, but it'll have to do.

Greece

Invented Homosexuality.



(And probably Philosophy, Democracy, Feta cheese, etc.)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Flu

What a waste of a thing. You're plodding along, minding your own business when WHAM! You're forced into bed, too weak to move, too hot to not leave your bedclothes dripping with sweat, incapable of doing anything other than sneezing fiercely and ripping your lips open in the process.

You lose your appetite which is no bad thing as you lose your sense of taste too and may as well be eating glue sandwiches in cardboard bread. You're bunged up and find breathing difficult. If you duct tape your mouth closed, you die. Simply running your fingers through your hair is painful as it feels as if each strand is attached by a little barb under your scalp which pulls at your brain.

I don't even know what the difference is between cold and flu other than one lasting longer than the other. All I know is that I'm either in a lackadaisical void, or I'm in a lackadaisical void and I don't feel very well.

My Boss boss has run his company for a good forty years. For the first five, he did it alone. How? HOW? Am I to assume he never got a cold? Or even worse, he went through what I'm going through now but shrugged it off! HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE? I'M DYING HERE....

Large Northern Flatmate watched me in the living room last night, coughing violently, and commenting that he never gets ill. He's right, he really doesn't seem to. Again, How? Why?
Fucker.

I can only assume he's like the teenage Damien in Omen II in the factory scene where pipes burst and employees choke on the fumes and die. But Damien simply walks through it all, slowly, seriously, and to an accompaniment of satanic Gregorian chant.

My flatmate is the antichrist.

I'll do anything, just give me a fucking break...

I haven't been to work yet this week. I went to bed on Sunday night feeling groggy, nothing unusual there, but on Monday morning, I was as weak as a newborn kitten. So I called in sick and went to back to bed. I slept for a total of fourteen hours.

On Tuesday, I woke up having sweated non-stop, so I put my sheets in the wash, and called in sick again. My boss was now getting arsey and told me to get a doctor's note lined up.

By Wednesday, I was now bunged up and - dammit - had lost the ability to taste stuff. I have to blow my nose during each mouthful if I want some vague concept of what I'm masticating on. Mind you, I am only eating once a day.

This morning, the Doctors. I am told off for wasting their time as I have 'Flu' and should be recuperating at home, because apparently asking for a doctor's note is "administration, not bloody doctoring". I told them that I know I'm ill and didn't want to bother them, but if I'm told by my boss "Get that note or you don't get paid", then there's not a lot I can do.

By the time I get home from the doctors, I've started leaving huge patches of blood on my tissues. Dammit. I never get nose bleeds. Or week-long knockout flu. And without being disturbingly specific, I think my anus has sealed up through underuse. It's just that I'm not eating much and, well...

never mind.

I have a booked-a-month-ago dental appointment tomorrow. I guess that's out. Oh, and a weekend spent in Brighton to visit Monkey Dave and his new baby primate. That's out too.
But on the bright side, I have the rest of Frasier series one to finish, and a Curb your Enthusiasm 3 I forgot I own.

This really is the suckiest year I've ever experienced.

Dammit, I can't breathe.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Unnecessary Introspection Part 5: Le massacre de la Saint-Valentin

Ah, good old Saint Valentine. Patron Saint of being made to feel guilty; Guilty if you actually have a Better Half and have to scramble desperately for some gifts and a nice meal, Guilty if you don't have a hominid of any description that loves you like that, thus hammering home the fact that you have all the sexual allure and attraction of a used condom floating in a Mancunian canal.

Valentine's Day is nonsense. Damned if you Do, and Damned if you Don't, St Val should more accurately be the patron saint of Florists, Restauranteurs and Edible Undies manufacturers.

Plus I have an extra reason for despising Saint Valentine's Day, and that reason I have oft mentioned, but never in detail. She is the Queen Of The Harpies, the overwhelmingly beautiful French woman I barely dated for a pitiful three months, five years ago. And ain't nothin' gonna blind you to the Bleeding Obvious more than Total Beauty.

Her name was - and probably still is - Amira. (Except it's not, I've changed it, but that's not the point.) I had met her at my inept examinations board where I worked as a Temp, a quick-fix job I'd taken as I was finding it impossible to get further work in the Media. I'd met Monkey Dave there too, and it was he who was initially in awe of this stunning vision of womanhood. We would see Amira when we took our frequent cigarette breaks in the smoking compound, but I largely ignored her, leaving Dave to do all the dribbling for me.

For one thing, I'd recently had my fingers ladyburnt and was in no mood to invite more of the same. And of course for another, Amira was riding high in the Premiership, hundreds of points from her nearest gorgeous rival, while I languished happily in the Woolworths Geriatric Sunday League Division. Amira was so eye-catching as to render most men, particularly me and Dave, dumb. (-Er).
And she was something else; Amira had an astonishing head of unruly brown curls, each lock naturally curly and bouncy and framing this gorgeous sweet face. Her skin, as Ricky Martin once pointed out, was the colour of mocha, and she had this little beauty spot on one cheek just to the side of these huge, brown, doe-eyes.

So I ignored her.

What's the point, especially as there wasn't an avalanche's chance at Hell's equator that Amira would be interested in the likes of Me.

Then one day, in the work canteen, I was sitting next a couple of colleagues while Amira sat at the next table. At least I had a nice view whilst complaining about life to the others.

And then something odd happened. Something very very odd, and very, very wonderful. While talking to my friends and occasionally checking to see if Amira was still a goddess, I noticed she'd started playing with a few locks of her curly hair, twisting them round her fingers, and looking in our general direction.

Whatever. Meaningless. I continued to bitch nonchalantly.

And then, as I reigned in my imagination from running anywhere, Amira flashed a large smile right at my head.

Eh?

And so it began. We would acknowledge each other in the smoking compound after that. A nod at first, then a 'Hello', until eventually we'd chat about nothing in particular. We swapped CDs with each other, we exchanged emails, then we made plans to go catch a French film.

Oh - and this is really odd - by that point we'd already booked a room together in the Cotswolds the following day. I had been careful not to fuck things up by saying or doing anything at all, so all these plans seemed to get booked around us while I retained this attitude of devil-may-care nonchalance.
We hadn't even kissed.

Until the evening before our weekend. We'd just watched the slow, ponderous, then suddenly very shocking La Ville Est Tranquille, where we got over the shock of the film by snogging in an empty corner of a pub afterwards.

The next day, I'd picked her up and driven to a guesthouse in the Cotswolds where we immediately locked ourselves into the bedroom. I still recall that weekend, the astonishment as I walked down streets with this femme fatale only for her to push me into a quiet corner to pounce on my lips with a Gallic passion that made me feel like an ageing shy butler. I remember thiking 'Erm...?' as we walked around an old castle (as you do), where she'd suddenly push me into a quiet dungeon and join me for intense Continental groping. And when we finally got to my kind of territory (of the 'behind closed doors away from the general public' variety), we fucked like leopards.

This. Was. Bliss.

And then it all went hideously bastard wrong.

I can't recall the specifics either. One minute I was grinning and delusionally happy, trying to fathom whether or not I was in four-letter 'L' word with her. The next, I was pretty certain she hated my great-great grandparents for all converging to ultimately bring my existence into this world.

Amira got irritated that she couldn't understand me or my accent. She'd argue that I never listened, and that's why I got what she wanted wrong.
It was like the usual male/ female misunderstandings but with an added linguistic dimension.
Plus hate.

One night, sex-wise, I did something for her. Something that seems to go down well with some women. She convulsed, buckled, and rolled onto her side purring. I sidled up to her and put my hand on her shoulder.
She pushed it off.
Strange.
So, I tried again, thinking perhaps she was still convulsing and that shove was some kind of specific aftershock, but she whipped my hand off again, adding 'ArrĂȘt!' for good measure.

Hmm, that's uncharacteristically selfish. She was now only showing interest when she was hungry, or wanted entertaining. All other times and she was completely indifferent.
The woman was turning into a cat.

Once, when she was moving home, I drove her and her belongings between residences, and did my share (approximately 97%) of lugging boxes about. When the last of the shlepping was done, I went to give her a 'Welcome to your new home' hug. But she seemed confused and repulsed. I wasn't even sweating that much.

Not long after, she requested a break. She had a lot on her mind, and wanted some space. This finally made sense so, although it sucked, I agreed and let her get on with her stuff. We had break-up sex and that was that.

Until a week later when I received a phonecall.
'Can we go out for a meal on Zursday?' Amira said.
'Yeah, if you want. I'll pick you up after work.'
I thought nothing of it, until that morning. Paying scant attention to that morning's news bulletin, I suddenly shat it - It was Saint Valentines! She was after a huge sodding meal!

Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck.

I ran to a florists and bought the only flowers that remained: Orchids. Lost for an actual present, I remember her mentioning she liked Craig David, so I bought his album. I then sped to her flat where she was in a lousy mood from a bad day at work.
I gave her the flowers.
'Thanks'.
I then gave her the cd.
'Uh, I meant David Gray. Here, you have it. 'Appy Valentines.'

And then we drove to a long high street full of restaurants where we were turned away from every fucking one of them as I hadn't booked.

'That's it', I sighed in resignation. 'There's only one place where we will definitely get a seat tonight: Pizza Hut.'

Pizza Hut. Bad enough on any normal day of the week, an absolute sin to go on the most romantic night of the year™. Rummaging through bins would've been better.

And there, we sat. Amira was now outdoing herself in the spiteful stakes. She'd long been telling me how much she admired young, dark, swarthy Italians - which had always made me wonder why she was seeing a pale, deathly Englishman (morbid curiosity, perhaps) - and, as we sat in virtual silence in a near-empty chain, I could've throttled the God of Irony when an entire family of young, dark swarthy Italians walked in and sat behind us.

Her eyes widened as she launched into her cold invective, whispering to me as she gushed about their looks, then reminding me how badly I'd dressed in comparison.
'Look at you', she spat, 'in zis t-shirt and jeans.'
I sat there dumbfounded. What the hell happened to the girl I was falling for? And why the fuck was she being this cold?

I'm currently reading Motley Crue's autobiography, The Dirt, which is very enjoyable and up there with Proust and Descartes. A replacement singer is writing about the time he was to be replaced, and all the other band members were ganging up on him: "(It was) like a relationship in which your girlfriend knows she wants her freedom, but she doesn't want to hurt your feelings. So instead, she just gets moody, critical, and mean, hoping to drive you away."

And this was exactly Amira's tactic. Except without the qualms about hurting my feelings. The evening went on painfully. We had a stilted conversation where I would look up from my largely unwanted pizza to find her and the Italians eyeballing each other. Eventually, I caught her grinning at someone over my shoulder. I turned round to see three men hastily look the other way.

Fuck this. We're done. She can pay the bill and make her own way home. I'm leaving.

Nah, that's mean. I can't do that.

I paid and drove her home.
We argued.
She claimed to feel a bit bad.
24 hours later, and the shutters had come down. She never spoke to me again. Ho hum.

So the moral is: Go with your instinct. I sat through that meal and still got shafted. If I had any respect for myself, I'd have walked out and left her with the Italians.

Oh, and St Valentine's is shit.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Unnecessary Introspection Part 4: School

I woke up at 3pm. I normally relish my lie-in on Friday nights, but this is ridiculously late, even by my standards. Perhaps I shouldn't've gone to bed at 6am though.

Large Northern Flatmate is in the living room, watching the Rugby Six Nations. Italy have just scored their first seven points against England in what I am told is a lacklustre game. We reminisce about playing rugby when we were younger (him as a Large Northern Schoolboy in a large northern school, me as a petrified fat kid in London) and I suddenly find myself overwhelmed with horrible, repressed memories from my childhood.

I hated school - loathed it, actually - with a quite superb passion. I went to all-boys' schools and couldn't stand the lack of girls. And when I was 9 or so, I began to pile on the pounds to become the fat school mascot. Except mascots are liked.

Games was my most hated lesson. I never learned a single thing which explained why I was unable to regale LNF about my old rugby games. Not one teacher taught me a thing about sports; they'd all written me off as soon as they saw my lumbering frame heave into view and concentrated instead on the sporty kids who seemed to give a fuck.

When I was 10 and only just flirting with hyper-sensitivity and weight gain, my old Nazi of a games' teacher got the entire class to choose who the fat kid was, and who was simply big-boned, between me and Gavin Reddy. I remember thirty children pointing at me when the teacher yelled 'Now point to the fat one.'

To this day, I have no idea what this has to do with being taught sports, and what he hoped to achieve. What I was taught was a deep-seated hatred of authority, and of physical activity. I had to discover exercise myself many years later.

I switched schools when I was 13. (I was now enormous and was rolled to my barmitzvah.) My Mum had been talking to Simon's Mum, a friend I'd known since I was four, about moving us out of our fee-paying school and into a well-respected and, even better, a free school.

For the first time in my life, it felt as if something big and important was happening, something exciting, and different, and a little bit scary. But at least Simon and I had each other to fall back on.

Until two days in when Simon quickly made friends while no-one seemed to like me. Desperation, I should imagine. Simon, for his part, made it clear that I shouldn't rely on him and that I was on my own. My first week at a new school, and my old friend was telling me to fuck off in front of the other lads. But that was minor. On the morning of my 14th birthday, just as I was headed to my first lesson, I was floored by about ten kids who began kicking me as they yelled 'Happy Birthday! Happy Birthday!' Looking up through squinted eyes, I saw the most enthusiastic kicker. He had a great position with his legs at my torso, and was grinning and kicking me with gusto. It was Simon. Bizarrely, I remember that event with some fondness. It was tragic, and tragic, for some reason, very funny.

I was regularly in detention or put on report. I was the lad who dealt with the bullying by being jovial and friendly or, in the teachers' eyes, by being a smartarse. To this day, I have no idea why I got into so much trouble but I always seemed to, and my Mum was frequently called in for meetings about my behaviour. My Mum would tell them that I would come home crying as I'd been spat at again, or called the Son of a cripple, but this didn't concern them. What mattered to the teachers was that I didn't seem to respect them, or take my lessons seriously, and that just wouldn't do, so I'd be put on report and had to have my work checked and signed off daily.

But to me, being in trouble just made me more interesting to the other lads. And all I wanted to do was make people laugh and be accepted. As I told Large Northern Flatmate all this today, I disturbed myself as to what I could still remember, despite vowing to never remember anything about those years again.

I hated school. I hated the bullying. I hated the teachers. I hated being so sensitive. And I hated being fat. So I comfort ate, watched a lot of comedy on TV, and didn't venture out. I had no-one to go out with anyway. And armed with the very powerful belief that I was pretty much useless, I simply assumed that this was how life was going to be from now on.

I still remember my last day at school with pin-sharp clarity. All that bullshit, all that discipline, all those tough words and veiled threats, and it all ceased with a squeak. The Headmaster who no-one ever saw or really believed existed, walked into an assembly room where 100 of us were gathered, and made some weak, two-minute speech about going off and hopefully making the school proud. I can still see the look of smug satisfaction and sarcasm written all over his face. He was just grateful that these dregs were fucking off to leave the kids they only ever really cared about to stay on in the sixth form and improve that shitty school's standing in the league tables.
And that was that. The Head walked off. No-one clapped. I remember looking around and thinking, 'Fuck me, is that it? Do we all just walk off and go home now?'

Yep.

The final moments of School that I was ever going to experience were as we shuffled away from that assembly. I turned to Kwabena, the last kid I spoke to, and said 'Some kind of yearbook would've been nice'. And with that, I got on a bus and went home.
No party.
No fanfare.

But no more fucking school.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Drunk Post

Urggh... Charlotte's 31st... City Pub... Hello everyone... Up early tomorrow but I'll contribute some money to the kitty... Yeah, I've met you before and you were drunk then too... Karaoke.... Long day at work... Eurgh... I'd better not drink tonight... Someone sings 'Mustang Sally' well... Cold out, isn't it... I've shaved my balls... Ugh... 'Like A Virgin'... I'm singing 'If I Were A Rich Man' badly ... I think I'm the only Jew here... Another Artois please... Borehamwood has its own weather system and actually has a rainforest... Karaoke's brilliant, isn't it?... Eurgh... Some mad American girl is flirting... Not another one... Toilet... Go on then, one pint... Tainted Love by Soft Cell... Ugh... It was supposed to be a quiet night... Let's stay out as long as we can!!!... Toilet... Mick, is it?... It wasn't me, it was the backing track... I could technically shag her... English National Debt caused by asking for gold and silver coins in exchange for paper money to fund wars....Toilet... No, she's orange and not attractive... Still got a whip left? Ok, one more please... Toilet... I shouldn't complain... Karaoke's a ruddy bloody brilliant idea... Toilet... She's actually quite a good singer... Toilet... Eurghhh... Toilet... Ung... Toilet... Chicken shnitzel in pitta bread, please...

Zzzzzzzzzzzzz

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Chicken Karma

I started my weekend screaming into the petrified face of a young man, one of my hands pinning his body to a wall, the other prodding sharply into his chest, while my mouth formed words pertaining to violence. Within four days, I had realised just how badly I had broken a girl's heart, completely ruined any chance of a reconciliation (and a long weekend in New York), and have now picked up a fucking cold.

That would be Karma then.

Thursday night. I had spent two consecutive days punching thin air at my Martial Arts classes and sweating like a sober High Court Judge amid the general populace. By the time I went to bed that second night, my body was like lead. So I didn't much appreciate being roused at 5:30am to the sound of Tsch-Tsch-Tsch-Tsch-Tsch-Tsch BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM etc.
Fortunately for my neighbour, I was too tired to move, let alone get dressed to walk next door and pick a fight so I stayed put, prone, too tired to do anything but get angry.

I called his landlord for the fifty-eighth time and left a drowsy message saying that his tenant was up to his old tricks again, and DO SOMETHING. And then, after half an hour, I passed out. When I woke up, I found myself too tired to cycle to work so I composed a letter for my neighbour ('IF YOU WAKE ME UP ONE MORE TIME, I WILL THROW YOUR STEREO OUT THE FUCKING WINDOW') and walked off to stick it to his door prior to getting the tube.

The front door was off the hinges as per usual, so I walked up to the top flat. The door wasn't locked so I walked right in to the communual hallway and up to his bedroom door where I noticed it open. So I knocked.
A stoned French youth, somewhat displeased that someone had woken him up, looked at me with confusion.
'Morning, mate', I said cheerily, as I punched the note onto his chest and walked off.

'What is zis?' he said, following me to the doorway. I snapped, grabbed him by the arm and pushed him against the wall, where I began jabbing him with my index finger to emphasize certain words.
'This is a fucking letter telling you to STOP PLAYING MUSIC AT FIVE THIRTY IN THE MORNING'.
'Five zirty? Really?'
'Uh, yeah, Five-Thirty,' I said, mimicking his faux-disbelief, then breaking character to pull him noze-to-noze with me and hiss 'I would be cycling to work today but instead I'm too tired and I have to get the tube. YOU - ARE - MAKING - ME - CHANGE - MY - LIFE.'

And with that, I threw him back into his flat and shut his door in case he did anything stupid like talk back. I then huffed downstairs where the lady who runs the newsagent on street level - yet to open - had been listening from her landing.

'If he wakes you up again,' I told her, 'let me know'.

And then I stormed off on my journey to work so lost in dark thoughts and so angry with myself for threatening some kid that I forgot to wear my iPod.

I went on to spend that weekend doing very little. Besides, I wanted to save my money for New York as I was planning to visit my on/off American girlfriend.

Was.

On/Off American girlfriend and I had a little emailing session today. For the last week or so, I've been trying to get a suitable date to fly over but she's not just provided me with zero dates, she's also barely been in touch. Until today.

When, in a nutshell, I was sent an email: 'Fuck You'.

It appears that she's gone through all the emotions of being dumped by me and is now firmly in Hate. She mentioned that I only like her now that I can't have her, and if I really wanted to see her that badly, all I'd ever had to do was get on a plane, but now I can't do that because I'm too Chicken.

Plus I'd have to spring for a hotel instead of her free bed. But she's a romantic and sees me crippling myself finacially as somehow cute and endearing. So, I could go to New York anyway but the chances are I'd discover she really does hate me and that's too much for me to take.
Or I could just wander about aimlessly while I come to terms with the fact that I've burnt all my bridges with her and my right hand will be forevermore a stranger to anyone else's sexual organs barring my own all too familiar member. She was the closest I've ever come to a perfect girlfriend, except for the living 4,000 miles apart (Ideal, for some men).

And now I have a cold. I would like the day off work tomorrow but I'd feel too guilty not going in.

Bollocks and Dammits.

If I don't have a shag with someone by my 33rd birthday, I will have to start considering other Mammals.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Corpsing

I am a nightmare at corpsing, normally during moments when I absolutely mustn't.

So too is the host of this Belgian television chatshow.
Add to the mix the dangerous combination of a very serious topic (He's talking about surgery gone wrong), the deathly silence of a studio audience, a lady in a wheelchair, and a guest who has yet to open his mouth...



UPDATE: ~ Ah nuts. I've been had. It's from a Belgian sketch show. Here's the full clip with subtitles. Serves me right for not speaking Flemish.