Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The 1,000 Mile Journey: Irritating Step #1

So, I spent this last week, post-blub-in-toilet, at home where I barely left my room in an attempt to get over myself (and my cold).

It was a strange illness as it didn't really knock me out, or annihilate my appetite or sense of taste. Instead I watched the remainder of Deadwood whilst eating sausage rolls and sneezing repeatedly, to the accompaniment of feeling really pathetic.

All this excitement culminated in my mother's 30th wedding anniversary. As her only son I was expected to attend, but I managed to hang onto my cold long enough to avoid it. In truth, I felt better by then, but mentally I couldn't handle seeing half a dozen close relations, let alone a further 90 I hadn't seen for years.

So I began this week on a different path. I have made diet and exercise my very dull priority (for the five billionth time). I haven't smoked for nine days. I've cycled to and from work every day this week (i.e. 3). I weighed myself yesterday and was shocked to discover that I've reached my all-time fattest weight, again. I was last there - 16 stone/ 224lbs - nine years ago. Following the Mother of All Diets, I vowed never to return.


Yet all I can think about is the newsagent below this rented apartment, and its full shelves stacked with fattening treats. Great. I'm stuck with this push/pull bullshit forever.

Why do the things I enjoy most, a drink here, a smoke there, an unhealthy snack everywhere, make me slowly miserable, and quickly dead? Is that fair? And as if to rub it in, as I scanned through today's paper following my wretched morning cycle to work, I came across this rather obvious yet mildly irritating article...

Pull Yourself Together

So it's official; Make yourself happy imbibing anything your heart desires, and it'll clog up before you're fifty - oh, and make you miserable too.
Or, become despicably boring and make Moderation and Discipline your ruthlessly dull mantra as you say 'No' to yourself on a daily basis, jogging all the while as you ignore the relentless screams of your inner self pleading with you to stop, and you'll allegedly be happy for keeps.

Damn you, life.

Monday, October 19, 2009

This Probably Won't Be What You're Expecting

So, first thing's first; the blind date ~ She'd postponed. Despite dressing up that day in my smartest attire - I'd even worn fresh underwear - I was actually quite relieved when the lady in question emailed to take a rain check. She'd just come back from a mini-break and wasn't feeling in the best of spirits, so I'd been handed a stay of execution for a few days, and my evenings were free once again, to return to Deadwood, or drink at the weekend.

But here's the thing ~ I'm not sure if we'll keep in touch. Y'see, she last emailed me on Friday afternoon (a non-replyable "hahahaha", if I'm being fair to myself), but work kept me suitably occupied, and I never did get back to her.

On Friday, I caught up with old friends, friends who'd all met at a lousy exam board we'd temped at years ago. I got drunk and broke my 4 days non-smoking spell, greatly cheered at how well they looked; a little older perhaps, but moving on, and with better, more rewarding* jobs than I (*in both achievement, and in wallet).
On Saturday, despite my hangover, I'd crawled to the other side of London for a houseparty where I may have been abusive to a young vegan gothette who'd quite literally waded into the function handing out vegan flyers without so much as a hello.

But no, this post isn't going anywhere. I didn't meet a special someone, and nor did anything commit-ey happen with the American ex.
Nor did I email blind date lady today, Monday, as I've been too busy at work, and too miserable with a cold I magically woke up with.
I know I should take everyone's sensible advice and just get on with the damn date, but that would be bad. Very bad. Because there's a huge chance she'll spend it watching me sobbing into my arms as I'm splayed out over the table.

Because something happened today that rather frightened me.

I woke up this morning having not had enough sleep. I tubed it in as I was too tired to cycle in (again). I opened up the shop, started receiving phonecalls almost immediately as I attempted to clear the paperwork mountain on my desk whilst adding to it with each call.
I was surly, and sniffy with cold, and sore-headed. Mid-afternoon, I felt the urge to visit the toilet. It took me twenty minutes to leave my desk as things kept ringing or walking in to be served. Eventually, I made it into the cubicle, and burst into tears.

I was more shocked than anything else, although now's a good time to point out that my "bursting into tears" is silent, and apparently involves my eyes angrily watering over as I desperately tilt my head back to avoid any actual crying. In the peace of that damn crapper, I was overwhelmed with a profound sense of what a complete and utter turd I've made of my entire life. At that specific moment, that one thought felt like an almighty thud to the head that came from nowhere, and seemed fit to knocking me out. Then it came back in a wave, and again, then again, and I wasn't sure if I could leave the toilet.

It was then that my Dad's friend Michael popped into my head. He's in his seventies like my old man, except Michael never married. He just never met anyone, and lives alone in his flat in the suburbs, going slightly mad.
'He thinks there are people living up in the attic,' my Dad told me recently.
That was when I started shaking, petrified and utterly convinced that I'd end up like that. 'I'm destined to achieve nothing and appeal to no-one,' I thought, 'and one day, I'll wake up old and convinced there are people living in my roof.'

I gave serious consideration to hiding in the toilet for a few hours, then I composed myself. I coughed, walked outside, and got back to my desk as if nothing had happened.

Before I'd retreated to the toilet to discover I'm on the verge of a nervous breakdown (I Googled it for a bit of self-diagnosis and yes, I'm well on my way), my Mum had called, neatly - I can see now - laying the foundations for my blubbing over the ceramic. It's her 30th wedding anniversary this week and she's arranged a big family get-together. I'd already tried to wriggle out of it once. I like my close family, obviously, but there's going to be at least 40 other people there, relatives and friends I really don't want to be around; repeating to them the job I'm doing but don't want to do anymore, sighing that yes, I'm still single but not gay, and avoiding my idiot brother-in-law, indifferent sister, false step-siblings, and generally pretending to be amiable when I'd rather be crying in the foetal postion in a small room.

My Mum took offence when she first told me about the impending anniversary and I'd asked her if I had to go; apparently, I do. When she called today, all excited about her party, I reminded her that I'd have to wake up early that Sunday to begin the four-hour round trip via a bus, then a train, then another bus and a walk plus waiting in between (then repeat) - my way of suggesting it was all a colossal pain in the arse for me.
'Then stay with us the night before!' she offered.
The only trouble with that is a) sleeping on a fucking sofa instead of my own comfy bed and, b) going to my Mum's on Saturday night? That's my entire weekend, shot down by one family commitment.
So I declined her offer with a sigh, and my mother slammed the phone down on me. She hasn't done that since I was about sixteen.

I did try calling her back, but in true day job fashion, she answered just as someone walked into the office, and I had to start the conversation with, 'I'll call you back,' something I still haven't done.

Instead, I went on to cry in a macho way in the toilets, considered resigning on the spot (again), and wondered what the fucking hell's going to become of me.

The point is this: I can't date anyone in this state, so don't fucking make me, and if you're about to leave a comment that I will die alone if I refuse to date, please instead name your favourite TV icon.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Great, a Date

Today, I remembered why I hate online dating sites.

It's not the fact that they're cold and impersonal, as you search impassively through hundreds of profiles of the desperate and lonely. It isn't the ignoring, and being ignored that might occur when contact is attempted. And nor is it the wider implications of the sites very existence, a searing indictment of how time-starved and inept we've all become.

Nope, it's the fucking blind date I've got lined up for tomorrow. I'll be honest: I don't want to go. I absolutely hate blind dates, and in the 4 years since I'd last gone on one, I'd totally forgotten. They're nerve-wracking. They're cringe-worthy. They're painful. And all this is of my own, accidental devising. The woman in question is the only one guilt had made me email out of several respondents. I'd ignored all the others, and felt awful about it. (I always want to leave a good impression on every date, and not arranging any made this easier to accomplish.)

The blind datee has insisted we meet up in a part of London that an ex-girlfriend of mine lives in, with a dozen of her mates. I'm not saying I'll bump into that ex while I'm on this awkward date, I'm just saying the likelihood is greater in that particular locale.

On the plus side, my last blind date (those 4 years ago) ended with sex that same night. She'd flown over from the States and we'd met in the hotel bar. That American lady had been my last girlfriend (and, uh, sexual partner), and by some bizarre coincidence as I spent this afternoon emailing impending date lady, I was emailed out of the blue by American ex ~ her current boyfriend has dumped her.

I have no idea what any of this even means.

And now I'm scared.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009


I have a headache. A headache caused by the dating game, epic TV serials, smoking, and former work colleagues. Moreover, I have a headache because of the vicious ringing in my ears. Perhaps if I stopped going to bed at 3am and had more than four hours sleep before getting up for work, I might have less of a headache, but that would leave me with less to complain about and that just WOULD NOT DO.

I have an impending date lined up for next week. The date is not yet set, but it will be. I wish I could be more enthusiastic, but I'm not. You see, I had wanted to be a few pounds lighter once I'd recommenced the giddying thrill of frightening courting young(ish) women. I also wanted to have a better job too, but I received a rejection from the one job I applied for this year. 'Twas a shame, as I'd started to daydream about the 10 minute walk-commute to work, the shorter hours, more money (8 grand more), and the writing I'd be allowed to do. But tis not to be. 35, and I'm already on the employment scrap-heap.

On the plus side, I'm finding life rather fun now that I'm no longer spending my free time writing a (Ha!) 'novel' every day. I've been out a lot more (tons of fun, but painful on the liver/ wallet). I've also treated myself to some new clothes and a handful of dvds, one of my treats being the entire run of Deadwood - watching it for the first time five years after the rest of the planet as I make my slow, cocksucking way through all three seasons. (Please Google that reference as that, in retrospect, reads as a wholly inappropriate sentence for a straight man.)


Meanwhile, this afternoon, in between swearing at the ringing phones and eating a rancid prawn cocktail sandwich, I ventured out to Boots - for the benefit of non-Angloids, a popular British pharmacy (that I've also seen on the Kao San Road in Bangkok, btw) - who are, in conjunction with the wonderful if much maligned NHS, offering a quit smoking programme. My nicotinal habit, you see, is becoming somewhat worrying. I'm developing a pain in my heart that isn't for once caused by the absence of an understanding and patient woman, or the lingering resentment garnered by a perfectly good life atrophying in shit.

For £7.20, I get as much nicotine replacement in gum, patch or inhaler form as I can imbibe for five weeks, and lots of progress consultations. I can't wait. I want to feel like a socially accepted heroin addict in remission.

And finally, last week, as I stood on the tube flicking through the free evening paper, I found myself gasping in shock to the bemusement of the other passengers. There, staring back at me, was Nemesis II, looking serious and sex-pesty as the story in question had him a witness to a frankly horrific accident in which a cyclist fought with a lorry.
The lorry won.

I'd like to dwell more on the young woman who died in such a barbaric way as she made her way home from work, and avoid the irritation I felt at revisiting that twat in newspaper form, but what can I say. We are all, as Freud had it, rather self-obsessed.

I still feel awful about the whole business though, and that's miserable and gives me a greater headache.