Sunday, 25 November 2012


So I was in Greggs the bakers there the other morning picking up a healthy breakfast of two cheese and onion lava pasties and dry as a bone mini doughnuts.

All was going well. The lady who handed me my thinly veiled lard was even polite. I was furious. I don't go in to this shop to be treated with kindness and good grace. I go in to be shown just how wonderfully rude this island's population can be.

Thankfully, the balance in the force was regained when I got to the perma-tanned harpy at the tills.

There she was chatting to her colleague as I approached. She was blissfully unaware that some bloke wanted her to do her job.

She had hair, lots of brown hair. It cascaded down her furrowed brow like permanent streaks of poo in a pub toilet.

She had managed to put lipstick on despite having no lips, some achievement.

The only saving grace for this girl was that she had heroically tried to grow a Movember, admirable. Small black hairs stared back at me from her lipless mouth

Her colleague stood there like Presuming Ed, saying very little but managing to look sinister all the same. I got the fear.

I gave her my best slanty head raised eyebrow am I on a hidden camera show look but to no avail.

She blanked me better than my priest used to do in confession until I said I have been having inappropriate thoughts about Mandy Watson, whereupon the curtain would fly back and his hoary head would be inches from mine.

She stood there telling Presuming Ed how her friend had got drunk the previous evening and got off with her ex - a chap called Spinny or something. Sounded a bad lot whoever he was.

I coughed but that just seemed to annoy her so I stood and stared. Spinny had done the deed and effectively wiped himself off and left apparently.

This conversation went on for more than a minute and I thought no, this will not do.

As it approached what looked like a conclusion when someone flicked Presuming Ed's dimmer switch on and she mumbled something about ovens, I took my phone out and pretended to have a conversation.

"Look," I said, as pointless as that is to someone on the phone. "It's still weeping from the end. If anything it has got worse."

The harridan behind the counter was now staring at me with her one good eye, the other one seemed to be trying to climb into her ear.

"£2.86," it said.

I ignored her opening gambit. "Yeah," I said into my switched off phone.  "Even when it's rampant it is still weeping, Lord alone knows what that stuff is. What? No. I didn't know it was llama. If I had known it was a llama I wouldn't have gone near."

"Excuse me, that will be £2.86"

I looked at her, she looked at me and for a brief moment there was connection. A human moment in an inhuman shop.

"Yes, I will get to you in a minute. I'm on the phone. It's important. Yes doctor I have been using the cream but it is hard to apply at work without people getting suspicious."

"You need to put the phone down. There are people waiting."

"Rather like I was then while you chatted to Presuming Ed."

"Who, what?"

I replied: "Are you just getting all the questions out there in one go in the hope you will like one of the answers?"

"What? That's £2.86."

"I'll get to you soon. Right then doctor I need to go as there is a queue forming. No not on that, here in Greggs and that could affect the space time continuum or people might get cross or something."

I put the phone down and smiled sweetly at the orange bulb-faced shrew as she repeated that my horde was £2.86.

"Is there no one you need to tell about Spinny, you could use my phone to call and tell them."

"Whatever," she said. "£2.86."

"Well can I get replacements please as these are now cold?" This so obviously untrue as, cooked with slivers from the heart of the sun, they are not edible for at least 45 minutes after purchase.

"No, they are fine."

"I don't want them then. Thanks." Off I walked.

I picked up my phone, as I slowly walked out. "Hello Spinny mate, how are you. Heard you bedded that ex of yours last night. So you've stopped being gay then?"

And I was gone, hungry but Greggs are like disappointments, there is always another one just around the corner.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012


My wife, the Sultana of Fun, has given me rules. I mentioned them. Well I have come to some agreement with my imaginary friend Tony the Scruffy Ghost and we have some rules of our own young lady.
Once we have discovered some courage we plan to consider maybe mentioning them quietly to the children before putting it out for consultation with the neighbours. It would then be brought back home to be presented for more consideration by myself, Tony and Hilary Clinton if she is about.
It will then sit in my secret filing system for a while along with the notion of putting a bar in the spare room, shaving all the teddy bears in the house to make cushions, getting a pet kangaroo and installing a doorbell that shocks the ringer while chiming what the f**k do you want?
Then and only then will I deliberately not mention them to the Sultana of Fun but know in my head that I have rules that she doesn’t know and I will indeed be victorious.
1.      It is perfectly acceptable to sing Dean Martin’s Volare or Toni Basil’s classic Hey Mickey at full volume while visiting the toilet.
2.      Talking to a tree after having a drink with an albino slug in the back garden is not to be frowned upon. It is to be sung about in folk songs by people with more hair than taste.
3.      I can hold workshops in rudeness with the children if I want as it is an important skill for them to learn.
4.      The vacuum cleaner does have an issue with me and it definitely is on a work to rule that involves it threatening me in German. Negotiations are pointless as it refuses to speak English.
5.      You cannot be absolutely sure that hard work never hurt anyone and without proof that no one ever has been then I am entitled to refuse to take the risk.
6.      Farting will remain funny for ever, oh and sausages can be considered a fruit.
7.      I did clean it, whatever it is.
8.      I do have terrifying and disabling flashbacks to my Black Ops days in Nam every time I try to climb a ladder. You don’t know what it was like.
9.      It is entirely possible to get vertigo at ground level when being told to do some gardening.
10.   Bins do empty themselves if you leave them alone for long enough.
11.   It is a well known form of seduction to flash my arse as I pass your desk. The ladies love it, you’re just weird.
12.   The dishwasher and I have fallen out after it attacked Tony the Scruffy Ghost one night when he tried to get a glass out to have some milk because he had indigestion. I refuse to forgive it.

These are the rules and if you don’t stick to them then I am within my rights to seek solace in the arms of Janice, the most loveable tree I have ever met. So think on.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012


These are the things that my wife, the Sultan of Fun, taught me this week. They are apparently vital rules for me to understand if I wish to continue to live in the domestic bliss I have become accustomed to. The threat was very thinly veiled and accompanied by her standing by the door with a sneering leer of judgement and a suitcase.

1. "There's not much more to this than kangaroo balls and Helen Flanagan's boobs" is not an acceptable critique of I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here in front of the children.

2. There is not an albino slug in the back garden that likes San Miguel beer and kebabs. The children do not need to hear such stories.

3. "There's always a price to pay for genius" is not an acceptable excuse for being drunk enough to be caught chatting up a tree in the back garden.

4. Chips are not one of the children's five a day, and neither is strawberry cheesecake.

5. The "floordrobe" at the side of our bed is apparently unacceptable and constitutes a dangerous obstacle course. It is most certainly not "a Mexican stand-off with my imaginary friend, Tony the Scruffy Ghost".

6. The washing basket is not a modern art installation and it does not constitute a crime against art to disturb it in any way.

7. Modern art is not all "emperor's new clothes bollocks for insufferable pedantic bores".

8. Shouting "help, call the cops, I'm Barbara Windsor" out of the car window as I drive through town with the kids is wrong "in so many ways".

9. The washing machine is not R2D2 who has let himself go and I am allowed to bother him even though I think he is asleep in the corner.

10.  It is entirely unnecessary to leave dirty clothes on any floor or to operate a "voluntary rotation system" for washing which involves leaving it there until someone moves it to a wash basket and or machine and back to the floor.

11. The utility room is appropriately named and worth visiting, even though it has not got Batman style gadgets in it.

12. Waving at every car in a mock thank you gesture as I drive past them is not as funny as the kids and I think it is.

These are shortened and cleaned up versions. You didn't see the looks I got.

I will post my new rules in the next day or two. Admittedly, I will not be mentioning them to her at the moment until Tony the Scruffy Ghost and I have them fine tuned.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012


SORRY I have been away so long, some may miss me, many others won't. I have been very calm, Zen like, with nothing to go nuts about. It got that bad at being good that I was even considering ranting about being all Zen.

But then all my chakras suddenly realigned again and I melted into more annoyingly warm bliss. I was caught in a vicious cycle of Zen, happiness was everywhere eating at my very soul. No man should have to deal with this. There seemed no hope of escape. Then I went to the supermarket.

I took my little son to a local heavily armed superstore to pick up some essentials like milk, cheese, lard, fury, repercussions and lollipops.

I approached the parent and toddler parking bays as I felt I had the right, what with a three-year-old in the car. To my horror, I passed a lanky skinny oaf of a man in his 50s who had decided that despite appearing to be childless, his monster 8*8 deserved to have a space.

He stood there preening and cleaning his glasses at the side of his oversized beast as I pulled up behind him. He had a ludicrous red and white stripped jumper on, jeans and a presumably hilarious hat.

"I've found Wally," I shouted at my son in the back.

"How could they leave him here all alone in this car park? He has not even got thousands of people in similar dress around him. Maybe this is the shy Wally."

Then, as I was getting out to chat to this fella, I got to thinking what happens when you finally find the real Wally? Is he made redundant, killed or just thrown into another desperate nightmare of a crowd like he is in the books?

"Is your child invisible?" I asked this rake of a man who had the hungry hunted look of a vegetarian piranha.

But when he opened his mouth, wow. There was much more fury than anyone could imagine from such a timid looking wafer thin empathy-free gobshite.

"WHAT?" He spoke like he had already decided the world was a hole and he wanted to fight anything that moved in it.

His angry eyes darted around looking for weapons, exits, people to crucify, other people wearing similar clothes, cheese, who knows what, but they refused to stay still in his lolling head.

Well, I wasn't about be brow-beaten by a psychedelic plank.

"It's just that I notice you are parked in a parent and child zone but appear not to be so encumbered. Is your car pregnant?"

"What's it got to do with you?"

"Everything," I said defiantly. "Can you read? It states clearly that these areas are for parents with their children as it can be daunting, not to say dangerous crossing a busy car park with bags of shopping, a trolley, children, an uneasy feeling you have forgotten something and an aching desire to be anywhere else.

I continued as a small crowd gathered: "Does it say, 'lazy b*****ds park here?' No. Does it say 'people who think their car is too important to obey simple rules park here?' No. Does it say Wally lives here? No. Does it say 'twats park here? No."

"My car is too big to park in the normal spaces so I park it here as there is more room," he bleated. "What harm am I doing? You are just one of those people who hate big cars."

"No, cars are stupid things to hate. It's like hating a tree or a fridge, what would be the point? Save the hate for things that are worth it. You for instance. Now are you going to move your car or are me and my young son here going to make a proper scene involving dancing and screaming?"

There were already people milling in that curious way people do when there might be a fight. Shuffling, looking busy while doing nothing, like council road workers.

A young lady with two children piped up to support me saying he was selfish idiot. Calm and true she was. Staff had begun to move a step closer, not close enough to be involved, God forbid, but close enough to see the action.

He called me childish. I said I wasn't the one wearing a Christmas jumper and a bobble hat but he missed it as he climbed into his car defeated and moved it 20 feet to another parking spot.

I got a round of applause. Victory was mine, briefly.

I headed to the store, full of bloody Zen again. I was annoyingly balanced.

Then I got a trolley and the chakras went arse over tit.

I had to stick a pound in its mouth and we were free to go, in one sideways direction, like a crab stroke victim.

It lurched suddenly and awkwardly to the right with an unfamiliar jarring that accompanied every forward step, rather like Nick Clegg's coalition lap dogs.

We got into the story, the little one picked up a basket, very wise, and we headed through the barrier into the wretchedness.

The trolley heaved to the right again, this time a little easier, like the Labour Party just before an election.

Some would give in, not me. It's a trolley. I summoned up all my powers and decided to adopt an existential approach and keep going right to see what happened.

I was stopped pretty sharpish by a big-handed woman apparently on secondment from Greggs. She approached all cheap perfume and patient resentment.

"Is that your child?" She said through a fog of old cigarette smoke and antipathy.

"That depends on what he is doing and what your view on ownership is," I said all smart and hippy. "I favour viewing him as a free spirit I am simply tasked with taking care off for a few years. Why?"

She pointed behind me. "He is eating all the fruit."

I looked back. The bloody free spirit was eating his way through their chopped fruit dispenser whatnot. People either side of him were filling little containers before closing them and putting it into what appeared to be politically neutral trolleys. He on the other hand was grabbing handfuls of grapes and melon and, aiming in the direction of his mouth, was consuming about 10 per cent of it.

He had upturned his basket and was standing on it tucking in, very clever boy. I was so proud.

"Ah. Am I to assume you wish to congratulate him for stealing a healthy snack given the Scottish penchant for eschewing fruit in favour of other lardier treats?"

"You will need to stop him."

"I have a plan. Let's take him to your butchery counter." Her eyes lit up at the prospect of a hairy handed butcher removing the grapes and melon by force.

"We can weigh him just now and then, when we have finished, we can weigh him again. I will pay the cost of the differing weights. We will have to hope he doesn't spot the pic 'n' mix as I struggle around with this belligerent trolley, or indeed that he has one of his regular bowel tragedies as that could distort the measurement."

"What, can't you just tell him to stop?" She said slightly hysterical but with the unnerving calm of the unglued.

"No," I insisted. "He will get cross then and all manner of bad stuff happens when he is cross."

She stood and stared at me all half scrunched eyes and angled mouth as though I was a snake trying to eat her sofa. "Tell him to stop please."

I was lost. This lass was terminally untroubled by me. There was nothing I could do. I had to give in, defeated by a permanently dazed loon in an asinine tabard.

"Come here Algernon, and stop eating the fruit," I shouted, in stark contrast to the Scottish Government's advice. Algernon's not his name but he knows my voice and I thought it would please the fruit fascist.

I stayed for just two aisles as I couldn't turn left. I departed with some mushrooms, teabags and a fruit filled child entering a natural sugar high.

To add insult to shame, I could not  get the pound back out of the bloody trolley no matter how I tried.

I was on my way back to the store to sweat over someone in authority when I saw another feckless arse parking in the parent and toddler bays without a child. I wandered over.

"Do you need a trolley?"

"Yes please, thanks."

I took her pound and watched her lurch down the road leaning to the left as though that would halt the inevitable lurch to the right. She was last seen heading towards the shop and intolerable anguish.

Victory was mine.


  1. Bad parking -the ultimate solution
    THIS happened a while ago but it is worth repeating as the tossers are still doing it and I so rarely meet up with these demented souls that this one occasion is still worth remembering.

    I was in the car park heading to work when I noticed someone in an angry 4*4 had decided it was important to park the beast in such a way as to take up almost two spaces.

    It was a massive car, the man could have fitted his entire family and his ego in the front and still had room to park the chip from his shoulder in the back.

    No I thought, this will not do. So, fighting for the little men like me, I squeezed my jalopy into what was left of the space next to him, thus rendering his driver's side door unusable. Joy.

    To my surprise mind, when I got out a man in his 50s with hair suspiciously in its 20s and the clothes of a teenager was looking pretty cross.

    He told me with very robust words that I should move my 'pile of shit'.

    I, of course, refused as a mild acceptance often offends.

    He got even crosser. Explaining how I was thrilled he had embraced his inner twat did not help.

    I was stunned when he called me a useless c**t. It always amazes me that people feel the need to add the adjective useless. It's as though the word c**t is not offensive enough on its own so it needs help to hit the mark.

    I am pretty thick skinned so simply stared at him and smiled a toothy grin before pointing out that of the two of us, only one couldn't get into his car.

    His hair moved in an unnatural way and he spoke very quickly as his arseless jeans heaved way too low down the waist for a man of my sensibilities.

    I watched as he gave up and climbed across the passenger side.

    I smiled as he finally reversed out and happily dismissed with a 'whadayagonnado' shrug as his 4*4 horn, which he used as though it unleashed missiles, blasted.

    His hair was at a most peculiar angle as he flashed a defeated V sign at me as him, the wrong trousers and a car too cool for one space made their way out.

    Some people are born twats, others have twatness thrust upon them.

    This chap has now been promoted to prick.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012


SO I was helping the older boy move the Xbox from the sitting room to the spare room as that way I could watch football without a surly hormonal teenager hurumphing through an affected sigh in the corner.

I say helping. I was in fact moving the Xbox from the sitting room to the spare room while trying not to attack him with an assortment of adaptors.

His interventions were magnificently mistimed and twitchingly wrong.

It's busy down there. There the Xbox with lots of wires. There’s a Wii down there below the TV with more wires than makes sense. There’s a Sky box with even more wires and a Wii fit thing that none of us understand but at least it has no wires.

I started with the wires as my apprentice twitched and moved a thing he called a scart adaptor around in front of the TV, just in the periphery of my vision and close enough to have me wanting to cut his fingers off.

This is where the problems started.

“Well where does this wire go?”

My apprentice grinned a nervous smile and said: “Erm.” He knew where this was heading already.

We managed to untangle a set of wires that smelt right and that was enough for me as I had started to sweat and blink a lot, and tellingly, I was stretching my shoulder blades and neck forward in that way that says to the wise watcher that something is about to blow.

Then the Sky box shelf fell down as I tugged at one belligerent wire that was pretty adamant it was going nowhere.

“Just hold that will you? Is it not obvious I need you to hold that? Where’s the little thing that clips into it to keep it up? I can’t see a thing down here, get a torch. No not yet, I need you to hold the sky box shelf thing.”

I know it was unreasonable but I was dealing with a slouching teenager with all the intuition and get up and go of a distracted sloth.

Now I swear from time to time, especially at work where it makes me look cool. But I do not like swearing in front of the children so I don’t. But now normal language was inadequate. 

The Wii started laughing at me as we debated the merits of the final wire I thought I needed. The Wii was right, it belonged to something else, neither of us had a clue what.

“What the FFKT is that for then and why is it there?”

“I don't know but you fitted it when we got it,” he said

You cannot put a teenager on the naughty step as he just takes his iPod with him and a naughty spike seems too severe so I just had to grimace and make sly comments about his hair while planning to eat his iPod.

We managed to get the Xbox into the spare room. It was not truly successful as I panting and could no longer see because the sweat was pouring off me. It had dribbled down my forehead and was gathering in little pools in my eyes. I looked like a tearful gibbon having an asthma attack.

On the upside, I even managed to get it plugged in in its new venue and wired up like some proper dad. Off he went to play some teenage nonsense.

I gave up playing some time ago after I put my shoulder out using my torso and not my thumbs to execute some imaginary top spin on an impossible passing shot in an unrealistic tennis game.

Once you realise you are over 40 and only your thumbs work, you quickly realise there is no point as you need more fingers and patience than is reasonable.

I went back to the TV to plug the Wii back in and make sure the Sky box was working. No.

I was alone. I eat some jelly babies with a cola bottle chaser. I swore and threatened wires, plugs and even the coffee table that had decided I was in its way. Oh I swore. There is something deeply soothing about swearing at stuff. Any stuff. All stuff.

I invented new swear words, joined them together to make the most insulting and satisfying concoctions. I imagined kicking the crap out of the Wii in the back garden while slugs cheered me on and sparrows looked on disapprovingly. It was bliss. I needed to sit down. I needed to cut back on the jelly babies.

And after another 15 minutes the TV was working again. The Wii can FFFFFFKing wait, smug piece of crap. That’ll show it.

I sat down, there was 10 minutes to go in the match. That was time well FFFFking spent.

I have no idea who I am cross with but something is getting it.

I had won, this much was true, but at what cost? My teenage son is not sure what species I am and is heading to school tomorrow thinking for FFFFFFFKS sake is a swear word.

There’s an internet dongle thing plugged into the back of the Xbox. None of us have been able to make it work but I am told it is wireless.

I then found a piece of important looking plastic and spent 10 minutes trying to figure out what it had fallen off. It was Lego, Lego that is now dead, burnt to a crisp in an offering to the Wire Gods.

Parenting does not get much tougher than this.

Monday, 29 October 2012


The bears have finished
So my three-year-old son and I were in a well-known fast food burger outlet – let’s call it McDonald's for that is what it was called.

He enjoys the salty tastelessness of the chicken nuggets as I while away the minutes trying to establish what it actually is I am eating.

It was a Big Mac apparently. It was an appropriate name as it tasted rather like I would imagine a pervert’s long coat would.

My son was busy wondering why his dad would be so cruel as to give him a plastic toy that did nothing while he filled his mouth with something equally pointless.

I was busy trying to establish what ‘fries’ where and at what stage in creation they had been potatoes rather than simply atoms of oil stuck together with salt, when I was taken aback by a sight I can now not shake.

A family of four extraordinarily overweight people were trying to squeeze into a corner-style booth and failing with painfully funny ease. Individually, they were foolhardy but determined, collectively, it was like watching Laurel and Hardy move a piano.

One would get in and another would end up being squeezed out one square foot of lard at a time. They tried a different configuration as if persistence would defeat the laws of physics. At one point the table disappeared under a mound of what appeared to be t-shirted marshmallows.

Will no one help them, I thought. Surely there is restaurant fitter having lunch who could do a quick homer redesigning the entire place to accommodate Hardy and Hardy and the two Hardy juniors.

It was like a large portion of Scotland's lard had suddenly congealed into one corner of McDonald’s and was slowly oozing around it, their bellies consuming all before them.

Even when they surrendered, the Alpha fatty was still trying to figure out how to get a fat peg in a thin hole. 

He glared at the offending table with a willful disregard for its inanimate sensibilities while easing himself into the table next to it.

They were like a family of overweight bald bears down from the mountains to feast on perverts’ coats while enjoying a Krypton Factor exercise in futility, either that or they were simply sorting out the eatery’s feng shui.

Daddy Bear’s two huge kids heaved a bronchial sigh into their allotted trough and waited for Mama Bear to come back with enough food to keep them through the winter, as long as winter lasted until mid afternoon.

We got up to leave as the compelling dance was over and our time was up in this happy place.
Leave it Leeeeeee-Annnnne, he's not worth it

I stood up and put the little fella's coat on and was all set for the off when something with a face like a pock-marked drunk koala complete with facial hair and angry sleepy eyes said: "We have a bin sir."

This creature of indeterminate species worked here.

I said: "I'm sorry."

It said: "That's ok, but we..."

"No, the sorry wasn't an apology.  It was used in the exclamation sense of I beg your pardon."

It ploughed on: "I notice you left your rubbish on your table. We encourage people to use the bins provided."

"Go on then, encourage me," I countered. "Say nice things like 'you can do it', 'this is what we trained for', we're all rooting for you' or 'go for it'."

It seemed to be called Lee-Anne or something like that from it's badge but there seemed to be too many Es and too many Ns so my brain started to melt.

"We prefer if people use the bins"


"It helps to keep the cost of the food down," it said with enough pride to suggest it was a fait accompli.

"But it doesn't. I just paid more than £10 for some deep fried parallel of hell with all the nutritional value of a soggy sponge. Why, after that, would I be predisposed to dispose of the disposable?"

It was struggling against the force of my incoherent rambling and repeated, as though it were a mantra: "We encourage people to put the rubbish in the bin.”

“If I was to do that I would take my food straight from the counter to the bin and not stop to fill my child and myself with the cholesterol monstrosity We have been here several times and I have never been asked to use the bin, nor the toilet, which is where this stuff will end up having left me nothing but hardened arteries and an overriding desire to have a shower."

"If you been before then you should know people put their rubbish in the bins," it was attracting a crowd, although that might have been me or my boy who was high as a kite now and singing Mary Poppins songs while clearly considering whether to fling poo at people.

"Why do you come back if you don't like it?" 

I told it that the phrase is "a triumph of hope over experience" but it just looked at me and said "what".

"A triumph of…oh nothing." I said as though surrendering. "I come back to look for my karmic centre but when I'm asked if I want fries with it, I give up on any chance of Nirvana and sit in a chair to feast on a pervert's jacket."

“I want you to leave,” it said.

“You should work for Greggs. They love people like you. Just the right side of surly to make people feel they have just had a door slammed in their face.”

“I have worked at Greggs," it said triumphantly.

"Why did you leave, not surly enough for you?"

"I have asked you to leave,” it insisted.

“Listen,” I said, just to make sure she knew that speech would be the medium by which I was about to impart my wisdom and not modern dance or mime.

“You can’t throw someone out when they have clearly got up to leave. It’s like firing someone when they have just resigned. It loses an awful lot of impact.”

It scowled and walked off with a damp rag in its hand and a red rage in its head.

Victory was once again mine.

We left, my son full to bursting with e numbers, salt and sugar and trying as three-year-olds do to come to terms with the song Supercalifragilisticexpialdocious, me with a smug grin, both of us replete and nutritionally bereft.
I looked down at the family of red faced bears rapaciously mounting a full frontal attack on the bucket full of perverts’ jackets and the pile of almost potatoes in front of them. I wondered if they had ever been introduced to cutlery.

I shouted back to the drunk marsupial: “You’re going to need a bigger bin.”

Thursday, 25 October 2012


SO I went to my home town for a visit there, just to see the family for a day or so as they deserve me.

I have a rantparrot in my pocket you know
I decided to have a pint in my old local simply because I thought it would be fun. It used to be a place where my friends and enemies would meet to discuss how much of an arse I had been that week.
It was a place of solace where whatever you were and were capable of didn't matter, you were still accepted. A place where even a punch was meant with just the right amount of venom in a kind of "he may be a dick, but he's our dick" kind of way.

The music was good, the landlord was an affected bully and the customers knew what they wanted - just enough booze to keep them this side of reasonable until they could go to a nightclub to get their free repercussions and a black eye.

But no, not now. The place was full off white-faced, black-haired, over-dressed miseries. It was awash, a phrase some of these ghostly gobshites hadn't heard before, with Halloween decorations. Ahh I thought, it's Halloween.

I asked the eye-liner of a barman: "You never know what you're going to get with these fancy dress nights do you?"

"What? It's not a fancy dress night."

"That's a shame. I thought I stood a good chance in my brown moleskin jacket, check shirt and blue jeans - Jeremy Clarkson you see."

"It's not fancy dress," he insisted.

"Well what is it then?"

"Goths mate," someone beside me in a garish tracksuit and gold falling off every finger explained as he decided I was his new best friend. "Or Emus," he added.

There they were, all white faced and angst-ridden standing at my bar, self harming with cider and blackcurrant while some kind of David Lynch movie soundtrack played in the background.

Well I thought, here's a pretty game. My old local, a rock haven, annexed by people who don't even know who they are angry with or indeed what they want to do about it.

I wanted to watch the early kick off for the England/Poland game but the karaoke had now begun and there was nothing the bar thing could do apparently, as "war" would break out.

The thought of a flurry of white foundation, black mascara and androgynous fury heading my way filled me with dread so I let it go.

How do self harmers fight anyway?

I stood miserable for a while watching the football while listening to a chorus of "My Way" sung by what looked like a group of out of focus Charlie Chaplins, when my new best friend next to me said the lager was going right through him and he was "pissing for England".

Off he waddled, gold flickering off the white make up of the Emus as he passed.

I thought it was a strange way to support your country. I left before he came back, just in case he was Jimmy Savile.

Anyway, that's not what I wanted to talk about.

The curly-haired jacket is still on the loose - do not approach.
Later that evening, as I enjoyed some southern fried chicken, two cops approached me, slowly but with a menacing purpose.

In a panic I hid one of the chicken thighs in my jacket, leaving just the drumsticks in the bag. I don't know why. I had been drinking and thought "this will fox the peelers".

I rationalised that the cops would never look in my jacket pocket for something that isn't illegal. Victory was mine. I also thought for some reason that if they caught me with a chicken thigh then I would be in lots of trouble. I had also just thought it might be fun to run through the town screaming that I was Donald Trump and my hair was trying to kill me - so wasn't taking myself too seriously.

They demanded my name, not together in stereo, but there was definite "we are a couple" attitude about them. Bad cop, bad cop type of thing.

I asked why and they said: "Wouldn't you like to know."

"Well yes," I said. "That's why I asked."

"We have a smart one here," said Bad Cop1.

Bad Cop2 said: "We are looking for a man who fits your description."

"And whose description of me are you working from, there are many?"

"We are looking for a man with a brown jacket with curly hair," Bad Cop2 begrudgingly told me.

"Well as you can see my jacket is bald. Good luck though, there can't be that many curly haired brown jackets out there."

I knew as I said it that it was a mistake, but it was out there, sarcasm is a bloody vicious crime against Yorkshire cops.

Well I was firmly told to stand up from my comfortable bench and Bad Cop1 went to check on his little radio to see if I was whom I said I was and not this villain with the hairy jacket.

Bad Cop2 started searching me. Go ahead I thought until he said do you have anything sharp in your pockets.

"No," I said. It was the truth. But I realised the chicken was in there and I didn't want to go to jail, not me a pretty boy like me. It would be hell. I would be the parcel in a grim pass the parcel game. So I decided to explain the chicken to him.

Too late.

"Urghhhh, what is that?"

"Chicken," I said relying on the truth.

"Well what the f**k is it doing there?"

I looked at him as though he had asked me why I wasn't called Steven* and said: "Nothing, it's dead. It has been plucked, covered in spiced flour and breadcrumbs and then deep fried."

"Well why the hell is it in your pocket?"

"Well, that's complicated, but essentially I panicked when I saw you coming to me. I live in Scotland and chicken is rare. That may not be true," I admitted as he chucked the greasy golden thigh on the ground.

"I like chicken, it's nice," I said as Bad Cop2 tried to clean his hands while leaning forward to avoid the worst of the grease.

Bad Cop1 returned with the reassuring news that I was whom I said I was. The state I was in I was unsure.

He then said I could go before shouting at his pal: "What the f**k are you doing?"

He replied, slightly downbeat now and I could see who was who in this relationship, that I had put chicken in my pocket and he had picked it out.

"Bloody chicken in his jacket pocket for f**ks sake. I put my hand in it. It's over the place, greasy crap."

"It puts hair on your jacket," I should have said.

Instead, I sat down smiling to finish what was left of the chicken as they walked away.

I watched them approach the Emus that had now left the pub. Hairy jackets by the tonne.

They are in a lot of trouble, I thought.

*Note - I was once asked by a wild eyed woman in a cafe what my name was, when I told her she said: "How come you're not called Steven?" I had no answer.

Monday, 15 October 2012


Keep moving Nicola, the monsters are coming...
I have had my mobile phone number for several years now. I'm very happy with it, whatever it is. 
The previous owners of my number have moved on to newer sexier numbers. They are presumably happy in their lives and not being pestered by people looking for me. 
I'm not so lucky. 
For the past year I have been getting regular calls from what I'm guessing are debt collection agencies for a guy called Scott and a girl called Nicola. 
I have no wish to out them by giving their second names as I have a sneaking admiration for their ability to confound these ghouls, these dealers in misery who enjoy their jobs just too much. 
So let's call her Nicola Bumface.
A Brian called last night interrupting my viewing of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Big mistake.
"Hello, could I speak to Nicola Bumface please?" 
Brian had a flat angry Manchester drawl and was clearly fed up so I thought I would cheer him up. 
"Yes, hello I'm Nicola, can I help?"
"You don't sound like a girl," he droned suspiciously.
"I know, you see Brian I'm half way through a gender realignment process and the hormones are changing my voice. It seems to be working. I've always wanted to be a man ever since I realised the world likes them more .
"You can call me Nick. What can I do for you anyway?"
"Erm OK, sorry to hear that."
"Why are you sorry? I'm delighted. Once these breasts shrink I plan to celebrate by grunting my way to the pub."
"OK," you could tell he was suspicious but he struggled on.
"I need to ask you some security questions."
"Oh, OK. Well I have two locks, a security chain, an alarm called Alan and a cat called Algernon that would rip your eye out in seconds without a thought. A guy can't be to careful."
"No you misunderstand me. I need to know your date of birth and the first line of your address and postcode."
"Oh really? What on earth for? I have always been told not to give out that information."
"I need to establish who you are?"
"I've just spent three years in counselling trying to establish who I am and I decided I want to be a man. I don't truly know what I am yet Brian but I can see myself in the mirror and I can tell you I am who I said I am, apart from a few gorgeous hairs on my chin."
"No no," he interrupted. "I need to know you are who you say you are, for security purposes."
"Given what I am going through do you think it's fair to be questioning my identity? Why would you do that to me? Who are you and why are you calling me? Are you one of them trolls I have heard about?"
"No no, I'm sorry Nicola ..."
"It's Nick."
"Sorry Nick. I need to establish that you are the Nicola Bumface I'm looking for."
"Why are there lots of us?"
"I don't know."
"What's it like being a fella then Brian?"
"I'm sorry what?"
"You know, how cool is it being a bloke?"
"Listen I just need to know that you are Nicola Bumface."
"Nicola Bumface?"
"Oh how embarrassing, no I'm Nicola Pishface. Oh how awkward. I could ask around, see if anyone knows this Bumface for you. Do you fancy meeting up?"
He hung up. If these cowards didn't ring on an unknown number I would have called Brian back and asked him if he was OK and if he had a sister that I could chance my muscular arm with.
People need to pay their way for society to work and I understand money needs collected but debt collection staff are an ugly bunch of people.
Uncompromising tinpot Hitlers. Like mean, intransigent traffic wardens loving their little bit of power in their tiny kingdoms, their sinister hold on people's lives.
They are faceless bullies working for equally faceless clients with no knowledge of the struggle people are having staying afloat.
They care not who is on the receiving end of their vengeful threatening bile either by phone or letter.
Be it the serial scum constantly trying to sneak a con or a busy forgetful mum living hand to mouth, their vicious greed is constant.
Be it a vulnerable pensioner behind on their council tax in a bid to heat their homes or a desperate dad trying to make ends meet while burying his head in the sand, they don't give a shit as long as the call ends with a frightened promise to pay.
These people are monsters. The worst kind, mean and unforgiving with a sad love of the pain and anxiety they peddle.
They are getting busier thanks, in a woeful irony, to the greedy incompetence of their banking paymasters.
They may be just doing their jobs but they are still monsters.
Keep moving Nicola, the monsters are coming.