Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Preparation

I am sat typing this in my boxer shorts, my thirty-four year old gut sticking out like a fat balcony protruding over a valley of tree-trunk thighs crushing a pair of underused testicles below.

I am planning a jaunt through Eastern Europe with Nothing Man in September - Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary - and we have vowed to get into shape in the months to come.

We are also vowing to save money, and I am adding not smoking, exercising like a banshee, and trying to finish writing the second draft of my (Ha!) 'book'.

Instead, I find myself getting back from work and playing a quick game of Spider Solitaire which ends up lasting til about midnight. I checked my stats just now. It says I've racked up 999 losses. Not only is that a shocking indictment that I have played that many games in just a couple of months, but none of them were actual wins.

I have been cycling to work every day. As a consequence, I am sat here with a thick layer of Ibuprofen gel coated over my broken knees. My diet consists of fish, grilled chicken, vegetables and other suicide-inducing meals. I am bored shitless and pining for garbage.

An hour ago, I snapped and bought a pack of cigarettes, if only to remind my self-destructive rebellious side that I am still able to Stick It To The Man.

Regrettably, that Man is me.

That first cigarette gave me such a headrush that I reeled unsteadily on my feet, just as a large gathering of attractive young Asian women walked past. Now they all think I'm a drunk, and I haven't touched a drop in three days. So there's another notch on my deadpost.

And now Germany's got through to the final of Euro 2008 in what can only be described as a nail-biting scrape to victory.

At least they didn't have that luck 60 years ago.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Why I Shouldn't Be Allowed To Talk To People

Part One ~
I spent last night in a pleasant riverside pub for the birthday of my now married Muslim lady friend. It was all rather enjoyable apart from the journey there, a rush hour hell spent stood on the tube being crushed by one hundred other commuters. In my hand was the plastic battleaxe I'd bought her, which kept blasting out loud, annoying axe-clashing sounds every 12 seconds, making people look over and fidget while I grimaced and went red.

When I arrived at the pub sweating and keen to throw the axe into the fucking Thames, I walked over to a gaggle of women and got introduced to a friend of the birthday girl called Kathy, who was very cute and bubbly and extremely familiar looking. I asked if I'd met her before.
No.
Really? Wasn't it years ago, perhaps? At another function? Maybe work? Had I ever worked with her?
The birthday girl interrupted. 'Does she look like Amira?' she asked, mentioning the trigger word. Amira had been the stunning French girl I once dated who utterly destroyed me. We had gone out for a few months. She overawed me with her beauty. I wondered how I'd managed to win the Sex Lottery. And then she dumped me with a fair degree of spurning, turning into the Queen of the Harpies in the process. Kathy thankfully wasn't Amira.
'God no,' I answered my friend while the girls listened, 'Amira was gorgeous.'

There was absolutely no apology on earth that could undo that sentence. All the women looked horrified. Kathy looked like she wanted to disembowel me.
'Go on, fuck off,' said the birthday girl.

Part Two ~
Stag VI, last week. I hadn't mentioned it before, for it was The Most Civilised Stag on Earth. It was spent in the Stag's garden, a bunch of men (and someone's girlfriend) eating salad and drinking lagers (them) or Snakebite and Black (me). We were going to head off to a restaurant, but that got substituted for staying put. Someone suggested we get rowdy and hire a stripper (me), but that got dismissed for going in to watch a video (everyone else).

The stag was held in the far side of the East End, a 27-stop tube journey to get to, followed by a half-hour walk through one of our capital's more ethnically diverse areas. During the walk in, I'd had to navigate my way through a group of Sikhs who had just left their temple and were waiting for transport home.
'Excuse me,' I said as I approached an old bearded man in a turban. He moved out of the way with a 'Sorry', to which I replied loudly and confidently 'Tuttee goo'.

A week earlier, I had sent a text to my Sikh mate Sukhbinder. One of my local newsagents is Sikh, and I often greet him with a white liberal Sas Re Akal. It occurred to me that I have never known what 'Thank you' is in Punjabi, to which Suki texted back 'Tuttee goo.'

Suki came round to see me and Large Northern Flatmate last night. Almost immediately, he asked if I'd Tuttee goo'd anyone.

'Why yes, as a matter of fact,' I announced proudly. 'I said it to an old man and his family as they were stood outside their gurdwara.'
Suki roared with laughter, a little too hard for my liking. My smile dropped. I had made the mistake of assuming that Suki was a decent human being.

'Right. It obviously wasn't 'Thank you,' then. What did you have me say?'

'Small piece of shit,' he replied, then laughed for about another half an hour.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Brokeback Sleeping

Something's not right; I keep waking up in considerable pain. It appears that one of the most pleasurable activities in life - having a good old-fashioned sleep - is now permanently ruined by the fact that my back feels all twisty. After a few hours kip, I'll wake up at 2am unable to move to a more comfortable position. I moan a bit, arrange the pillows into a small pyramid and lie on that, then wake up again an hour later to rearrange stuff once more. Needless to say, I never feel quite good enough to cycle to work.

It's because of said problem I took myself to A&E on Thursday night. I used the magic words 'Chest Pain' to speed things up - after all, my chest was hurting too - and was raced through (for four hours) having my blood and urine tested, being wired to an ECG machine (I have a strangely slow pulse rate somehow), being X-rayed, and being treated by rather attractive and completely indifferent nurses who I flirted with while they did their utmost to seem repulsed.

The doctor who looked a bit like a pocket Hugh Grant and asked me awkward personal questions (what does cocaine have to do with a bad back?) pronounced me 'fine' and walked out seeming mildly stressed.

Nonetheless, I am still waking up feeling like the bastard son of Stephen Hawking and Christopher Reeve and I've got a terrible fucking notion that I'm gonna be stuck like this for life.

All this because of a fan? How is that even possible??? I spent last night on a Thames boat with a friendly bloke called Colin, bitching about our thirty-something ailments. I have never felt such a bond with a complete stranger before.

Oh, and my sixth and final stag is happening right now in East London. It would appear that I've overslept a little bit.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Don't Lie Back In Anger

If there's one thing that amuses me about life, it's just as you think you've gained a lot of wisdom and pretty much done everything, something comes along that makes you think 'I didn't realise that could happen,' and 'Shit.'

Dammit 1
When I went to bed on Monday night it was a little muggy, not really necessary to keep a fan on overnight. Nonetheless I had been using it throughout the evening and thought it might be nice to leave it on to keep the room cool, not rotating but fixed, a cool breeze playing over my bed from a distance.

So I passed out. When I woke up naked, most of the duvet on the far side of the bed, I was fucking paralysed. Who'd have thought that 7 hours of constant cold air blasted at your back while you lie there unconscious would cripple you?

According to my boss, five people in Korea once died by sleeping with a fan on them. I'm not sure how he knows that.

Two days on and my back's still fucked. It hurts to lie down. I'm even having to sleep like the Elephant Man, besides looking like him. I think I might have to go see a doctor.

Dammit 2
After receiving my first email from Lovely Young Lady and writing back, I'd still heard nothing in nearly two weeks. Now I couldn't give up; after all, I'd met her, got on phenomenally well, tracked down her email and received a nice lenghty reply just a couple of hours later. Surely I'm not so inept that my follow-up email would put her off for life?

Yes.

Twelve days pass. I consider that maybe she didn't like what she read and decided never to reply. I also consider that maybe she's been out of town for a fortnight, or virulently busy, or by some technological quirk never received my second email. So I wrote a third time, no mention of her non-reply, trying to keep it funny, nice and cool.

She hasn't replied again. I think it's safe to surmise that she doesn't want to speak, see, or have anything to do with me forevermore. Lovely young lady, my arse.

Great. Now my back has gone into spasm.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

You're Not The Only One

Do buy this book (that I can't get an image for).

It's in aid of Warchild and has been edited tirelessly by a pregnant Peach, with contributions from 106 bloggers including me and my fucking bitter personality. (I chose not to write anything specific and hideously personal - that's already on this blog anyway.)

Just click this link and it's yours, all YOURS....

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Wisdom Tooth Hell: The Return

Last year, I had to have an emergency wisdom tooth extraction.

It was rather brutal.

Today, under the advice of various professionals, I've had a second tooth removed before it too became an emergency.

Amusingly, there is nothing to report as I was knocked out for the operation.

Having previously experienced the removal of a tooth under macho local anaesthetic, I was more than happy to be unconscious this time round. I took Wednesday off work, eating nothing after 9pm Tuesday night. This morning I woke up, made a coffee, threw it down the sink after the first sip when I remembered I was supposed to be Nil-by-Mouth, and left for the hospital.

When I got there (the impatient's dream; I left late, the bus came instantly, I got to hospital bang on 8am and was seen instantly), I was forced to admit that I'd earlier sipped a coffee which caused a flurry of concern among the anaesthetists. Apparently, milk and general anaesthetics don't mix. The word dangerous was used.

As a result, they dropped me to the bottom of the queue for four fucking hours, all the other surly looking men in status-levelling NHS gowns being rushed in ahead of me. By midday, my patience had worn out and I told nurses that I was going home. My mouth felt fine and I saw no reason - particularly when the recently operated on came back into our ward disorientated and numb with pain - to continue to wait only to wind up in their predicament.

But there was only 20 minutes left. I was wheeled into Anaesthetics, grimacing as my left hand was attached to a drip.
'You're a big bloke; you should be able to take this,' the technician chided.
I was actually quite cheerful at this point. After all, I was finally being seen to and, to all intents and purposes, I wasn't actually going to experience anything.

I felt the general go in. It was as if my left arm was fragile and made of glass as a leaden black fog seemed to pump its way in and travel up towards my elbow.

I hate to say 'and the next thing I remember...', but I was chatting away to the anaesthetists waiting to feel drowsy or for my speech to slur but instead I blinked. And in that blink, I had gone from talking to them to being on my side thinking 'Shit, they still haven't operated on me.'

Except they had. It was all over. I was violently tired. Nurses kept waking me up to drink water as my neck was sore. A tube had apparently been thrust down my throat and I was vaguely aware of a pain where my tooth had been. I asked for painkillers and the nurse did something to the drip. Then I fell asleep, then woke up, then fell asleep again.

In a neighbouring ward, an anonymous man screamed out repeatedly. The other guys in my ward looked shell-shocked and seemed very sorry for themselves.
'Men are pussies,' I mused as I sat there with the listless expression of Paris Hilton stuck for conversation.
I felt very sorry for myself.

Large Northern Flatmate came to walk me home as the hospital doesn't allow anyone under general to leave unescorted.

I got to my bed at 3pm 'for a nap', and slept til 11. It was the best sleep I've ever had.

And in a few days, I'll be back in that blissfully ignorant state of No Actual Pain Anywhere, and taking my health for granted.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Stag V: Newquay

Carnage. Utter carnage.

My healthy, non-smoking, gym, swim and cycle lifestyle (which lasted 2 weeks) got exchanged for three days of cigarettes, booze, drugs, zero exercise, a series of unfortunate incidents and ABSOLUTELY NO SEX.

We were bound for Newquay, a Westcountry town that, for the uninitiated, tries to make amends for all those Spanish and Greek places we've blighted with hordes of blind-drunk Brits vomiting freely down their ancient cobbled streets. And we've succeeded. Newquay is the Stag and Hen Capital of Britain, a once-pleasant land of pasties and pensioners, now boosted by enormous cash injections from drunks in fancy dress.

Not having to go to work on Friday was beautiful, tempered only by the fact that I had to wake up an hour earlier so I could get to Balham where Garry picked me up, followed by Luke and Hippy Dave.

We rolled into Cornwall some six hours later and claimed our rooms. Mine was in a chalet with some guys who had yet to turn up. Fortunately, we were early enough not to be stuck in the claustrophobic, spider-laden barn. That evening, we'd all made merry in a local pub, then had a meal nearby. The evening was spent sat on the beach at St Mawgan, where we made a huge fire.

It was slightly odd to be on a stag party on an admittedly beautiful beach at sundown, the nearest woman about three miles away as we drank cans of Carling while the stag played guitar. Part of me, about 89%, wanted to be surrounded by girls and doing stag-like things, but this became oddly moving and memorable; standing on the beach miles from the group as the sun set and the tide rolled in; not being lumbered behind a desk and in front of a monitor; feeling completely relaxed for the first time in months.

In fact I was so relaxed, I was able to calm down relatively quickly when I accidentally plunged my left leg into a waterhole and drenched my sock and shoe. I was so chilled that I accepted my fate with good grace and squelched back, becoming so laid back and at peace that it took me a full THREE MINUTES to curse god and everyone on Earth when a few steps later, I deposited my remaining dry leg into another hidden pool of water.

Back at the fire, I attempted to dry my trainers and socks nearby while I pranced barefoot in the sand like a free spirit; a fat, barefoot free spirit who did drugs off flattened beer cans and trod on a rusty nail. To take my mind off the pain, I tended the fire. I was the only one who did out of about 15 men who were gazing into the flames like entranced arsonists. I grabbed hold of a door we were burning to move it into a better position. In doing so, it took at least six seconds for my brain to register that the fingertips of my left hand were being burned on the scolding wood. As the deeper nerve endings of my fingertips felt the tell tale signs of cooking, I screamed out and stuck my hand into the sand which seemed to cool it. I also had to hold cans all night, as just a few seconds of lone hand time was unbearable.

I spent the night alone in bed, my fingertips coated in Ibuprofen gel.

We went surfing the following morning, except I felt generally lousy, so I bowed out. Following a shower that felt as if my left hand was made of leather, I instead went to the pub with Christian, the stag's brother, and exchanged bawdy stories until the others ran out of the sea extolling predictably how amazing the whole experience was while they shivered like neglected Chihuahuas.

We downed barbecued burgers that afternoon outside our accommodation. I managed to keep up with the starved metabolisms of those who went surfing and readily stuffed myself.

By the time we trussed the Stag up in a Swedish flag dress (his bride-to-be is a Swede), wore our stag t-shirts and accompanying blonde moustaches and plastic Viking hats, I felt awful. This could've been the food, or my sunburn, as I had managed to irradiate myself despite the lack of sun. I spent the journey to Newquay with my head out the window.

I last threw up twelve years earlier. I was damned if I was going to break that record. I managed to squeeze in a couple of waters among all the Snakebite and Blacks, and avoided eye contact with the angry looking locals in Bertie's Fun Pub. By the time we got to the heaving Central bar, I felt marginally better. The few women that were there - some vamps in black, a gang of angry looking cavewomen who I had initially mistaken for men in drag - were cute enough, albeit in short supply. It turned out that stags seemed to outnumber their female counterparts 4-1.

Later on, I found myself with another naked woman bouncing on my leg while I meekly whimpered 'I read the Guardian, you know.' It didn't help that the section of the lap dancing club reserved for private dances was pitch black. Nor did it help that she was too. £40 was spent trying to make out a barely visible nipple, although I did feel it brush against me repeatedly.
When she removed my Viking helmet and rubbed her fingers through my hair, I felt it necessary to apologise for my profuse sweating. 'I like sweat,' she said blandly.
'No you don't!' I admonished. 'No-one does!'
And as if to prove my point, my new friend avoided rubbing my hair from then on in.

In female terms, Sailor's nightclub was torture. In stark contrast to Divas a short while earlier, all the women were back to being characteristically indifferent, but then perhaps there were simply too many men to contend with that the distinctly average wouldn't get a look in. There was zero interaction on my part - the sole angle that can make these places mindblowing - and of the two or three women I liked the look of, I was no more noticeable to them than the wall.

That said, our group seemed to be having one collective ball. A hardcore group never left the dancefloor. At least it was easy finding people - all I had to do was look for the horns. When we were all thrown out at 4am, I was completely sober. I had been pestered all night by one of the guys for cocaine, and had spent all night lying that it had run out - mainly because this was an awful place to do it, combined with ferocious provincial bouncers, and the fact that he has a tendency to yell 'THIS IS SO SEEDY' when you're doing drugs in a filthy toilet.

Post-club and back at the safety of the house, I was liberally racking up what remained of my narcotics in the toilet when he burst in and demanded some. I was still chopping up when he lost patience and began to urinate between my legs. I froze in terror and anger as I looked down and saw a violently swaying stream between my thighs, a stream that wasn't emanating from my penis.

Predictably, he pissed all over my jeans.

Nothing on earth, and I mean nothing, can quite hammer home the fact that you are single and 34, yet again indulging in Class A's to fill the empty chasm of your existence with some illegal perceived fun, while a drunk friend urinates on your ankles.

So that is the last of the carnage stags. I have my final polite one in a fortnight, a far more sedate affair with a friend I used to work with. That will very much be a 'last tube home' Stag.

And then, maybe, when all this is over, I'll find a nice woman, settle down, and grow up.

Or not. And not for wont of wanting.