Sunday, 30 December 2007

My Dinner With Peter Andre. Kind of. Actually, No. Not Really.

I’ve always said, that Peter Andre – absolute diamond. Warm, wonderful, what you see is what you get. The Geezer. That’s what I’ve always said. Peter Andre? He’s the Geezer. That’s why I was really pleased when he accepted my friendship on Facebook.

Then I discovered he was a fake. Fakebook. I felt a bit sad. And I unfriended him immediately. What kind of person pretends to be someone famous on Facebook? Bloody weirdoes. Anyway, David Walliams hasn’t accepted my friendship either. Neither has Jordan, Jodie Marsh or Eddie Izzard. And I’ve decided to stop being quite so sad and courting celebs. I’m better than that.

Instead, I started a Facebook group. It’s called Ugly Is Only Skin Deep, and the reasoning behind it is this:

There are a great many anti-ugly Facebook groups. ‘I Hate Ugly Hoes!’, ‘People Against The Public Affection Of Ugly Couples’, ‘DAMN YOU UGLY!!!!!!!!!!!’ and ‘Ugly~ @ss hoes @lwayz hatin but we l@ughin @t dem hoe$’, to name but four. So I thought I’d start one in support of people unfortunate enough to have been born under the ugly tree but fortunate enough – unlike the vast majority of people who start Facebook groups it seems – to be intelligent, literate, loving and non-misogynistic.

I can’t be the only one. Surely. Why not join me? Maybe we can go some of the way to stamping out the discrimination against ugly people. Or if not, maybe we can just be friends.

All very doody and hip but there is one problem. I don’t have any friends to invite. Oh, and even if I did, they might not be too enthusiastic to join a self-proclaimed virtual chamber of horrors. (Speaking of horrors, I really can't believe Jodie Marsh turned me down. I might invite her to my group anyway. You never know.) But for the moment it’s just me. Thankfully I enjoy my own company. Most of the time.

Humph. Who am I kidding? But still, sad as I am, at least I’m not this bloke.

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Saturday, 29 December 2007

Happy Fat War (Xmas Is Over)

So that was Christmas. And what did I do? Well, I ate an enormous amount of predominantly rather unhealthy food. That’s what I did. I actually decided that I may as well eat as much as I possibly could before I start the diet. A proper blow-out. And in fact, according to my brand new Argos electronic scales, my body mass has grown to the tune of ten pounds. Baby Jesus, had he existed, would have been proud. He would also have been lunch. And it’s not over yet. I intend to continue to eat like a Shetland Pony with a tapeworm until January 1st, when I will quite suddenly revert to small portions of healthy food and large portions of exercise.

Believe it.

I had fun though this Christmas, despite not being able to smoke that much. There is no smoking in Patricia’s house. She is a born again non-smoker. As I shall also be in less than a week. Shit, three days in fact. God, that’s scary. Anyway, as well as copious amounts of food and a fair amount of alcohol, there was also fun and games and much hilarity with the kids, with whom I got on very well. Ben and Dina, 9 and 11. Our getting along famously came in very handy, allowing Keith and Patricia to nip off and canoodle, loudly, in the afternoons. Good luck to them I say, even when they’re banging, yelping and yodelling like not so lonely mountain sex goats all night long. Insensitive swine.

So I got back yesterday and just lay beached on my bed like the proverbial whale. I lay there reading my copy of Men’s Health, which Keith kindly stuffed into my Christmas stocking. Keith knows about my health kick. And he is the only one of my friends who knows about this blog. Although he has yet to visit. But that’s what friends are for.

Men’s Health is hilarious. I’ve never owned a copy before but I’ve chortled many times at the impossible boasts on every single front cover, month after month after month after month, year after year after year. This month for example: ‘Hard Abs Made Easy’, ‘365 Days Of Sex’ and ‘Fat To Flat In 7 Weeks’. But because this edition is the first of the year, it also has the irresistible header, ‘YOUR ESSENTIAL NEW YEAR WEIGHT-LOSS BIBLE!’

Bastards. They must sell more copies in January than in any other month. (Which reminds me, I must join a gym.)

I also spent a good portion of yesterday reading Bridget Jones’ Diary, the success of which I have decided to emulate.

More of which later. Now however, I must sleep. But I leave you with a quick, comforting Men’s Health fact:

‘Cabbage fights more cancer than 100 oncologists’.

Believe it.

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Sunday, 23 December 2007

Mistletoe and Pies: Losing Weight At Christmas…

I wonder how many fat people all over the Western world are presently convincing themselves that this Christmas will be their one last blow-out before getting down to the seriously hard work of getting in shape. Lots I imagine. I know it’s not just me.

But this is definitely my one last blow-out. I swear. I’ll be spending Christmas with my mate, Keith, his girlfriend and her two kids in Guildford. ‘You’ll be like John Candy in Planes, Trains and Automobiles,’ Keith told me.


‘So I’ll be like the annoying fat guy who Steve Martin takes pity on because he hasn’t got any friends or family of his own,’ I replied. ‘Is that what you’re saying?’

‘Is that not the case?’

Hmmm. Good old Keith.

Anyway, I spent the rest of today buying stuff to take, including lots of fine food and wines. I’m feeling fatter just looking at it all. And that makes me feel guilty. Speaking of which, earlier this week I watched a programme very much in the tradition of Can Fat Teens Hunt?, Help! I Sweat Lard! and F*** Off, It’s Me Glands!. That programme was Lose 30 Stone Or Die. It followed 36-year-old 48-stone Colin Corfield as he spent years losing enough weight to make a brand new set of Sugababes. The people who made the show described it as ‘poignant and moving’. Frankly I found it ‘repulsive and sick-making’. But also, I must admit, ‘heartening and inspiring’. It was part of the reason I was shuffling round the park with weights on my back this weekend.

I’m really not looking forward to it though, the actual hard work of not eating. I know it should be easy. It really should. And you hear it all the time from cocky thin people with no feelings. ‘Just stop eating,’ they say. ‘It really is that simple. Just stop stuffing the pies into your fat face.’ Boy oh boy, those people aggravate me. But they probably have a point. Unfortunately, as with many stout folk, food is for me a psychological crutch. Which I have to train myself not to lean on. And that’s what I’m not looking forward to.

I’ve actually been cutting down fairly substantially for the last couple of months. Trying to at least. I had this vague notion of losing a bit of weight in preparation for my new leaf. So I’ve been eating less. Mostly. And then pigging out and feeling guilty.

I’ve also been attempting to starve myself a bit, just to see how long I could last without eating. Bobby Sands lasted 66 days. And he was quite a skinny bloke to start with from what I can glean. I wonder how long I would last before I started to suffer ill effects. I’ve wondered this a lot recently, so a month ago I went in search of answers. Now if you want answers these days, there’s really only one place to the go: the internet. And although Wikipedia is good, you sometimes can’t be sure that the information you’re reading is 100% accurate. This is why I like to go to Yahoo Answers, where the net’s foremost philosophers hang out.

Hence this. They're so sweet! I actually lied a little about the 27 hours thing. It was more like 17, but I was damnably hungry. I’m hungry now actually. Oh bugger it. Let the festive feeding commence. Tomorrow I buy scales. In 11 days’ time, everything changes. Honest.

Happy Christmas, mysterious reader who left sweet comment.

Oh, and Belle de Jour has not accepted my friendship request on Facebook. This makes me a little sad. So sad in fact that I’ve decided to offer my friendship to some other people I don’t know. Starting with David Walliams. David Walliams has 4,435 friends. He must be accepting just about anyone, especially ugly men. We’ll see.

Happy Christmas, David. Happy Christmas everyone.

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Warming Up

It makes sense – in a kind of superstitious nonsensical way – to wait till January 1st 2008 to start my new life-changing fitness and health regime, as it’s only just over a week away. But I know from attempting to do similar things in the past that what’s likely to happen is that I’ll get all worked up about it, then I’ll start, throw myself into it and be laid up in bed for three weeks with a hernia. Then I’ll forget all about it and console myself with 12 giant pork pies.

So this time, as a way of avoiding this, I’m trying to bleed into it gradually. Which is why about an hour ago I squeezed into a rather repugnantly tight track suit and nipped across the road to Brockwell Park. On my back was a small rucksack. In the rucksack was 20 kilos worth of loose weights, from one of the other times I decided I was going to get fit and bought a weightlifting set from eBay. (I used it twice, then after a few months of feeling extremely guilty every time I saw it gathering dust, I put it in a cupboard.)

The thinking behind the bag of weights was this: once when I was about 17 I went on a walking holiday in the North West Highlands (in Scotland) with my friend Keith and his dad and uncle. We walked for ten days, camping as we went. It was one of the best times of my life. Keith’s dad was worried I wouldn’t be able to do it, physically, that I wouldn’t be able to keep up, as I was overweight and frankly, out of shape. But I really wanted to go, so he let me. And it nearly killed me. But I did it. And when I got back to London, I noticed that not only had I lost at least a stone and a half in weight, but my posture was massively improved. It was the lugging around of a heavy rucksack that had done it. Having that thing constantly pulling back my shoulders for over a week. And so today I thought I would try and replicate that experience. With loose weights in a bag in Brockwell Park for twenty minutes. More like ten if I’m honest. It was really cold.

I’m such a tool sometimes.

Tomorrow I’m going to buy a football and a skipping rope. And maybe a couple of pork pies. I love pork pies.

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Friday, 21 December 2007

La Belle et La Bête

I was thinking about Belle de Jour tonight and I realised that Bête de Jour is actually a much better name for this blog than I’d originally realised. At first I’d just thought, Beauty and the Beast, La Belle et La Bête, sorted. But now I realise that I am in fact the polar opposite of Belle de Jour.

I’ll tell you why...

First up, Belle de Jour is a woman, whereas I… I am a man. Oh yes.

Second, Belle de Jour – if she is to be believed – is beautiful, whereas I... I am physically repellent.

Then of course, Belle de Jour has lots of readers. Her blog has been up and running, very successfully since 2003, and the spin-off book has apparently sold in excess of 100,000 copies, before the television adaptation with the delightfully goblinesque Billie Piper. Whereas I installed Stat Counter tonight and now know for certain that I have one reader. It is me.

Belle de Jour writes stuff that people want to read. She writes about sex. Sex sells. And fascinates. I intend to write about my attempts to get myself into some kind of decent physical shape and hopefully meet someone who can love me. There is very little chance I will be writing about sex. Unless I start detailing my fantasies, but even then, I very much doubt that ‘The Sexual Fantasies of the Morbidly Obese’ is up there on the list of things people want to read about.

On a similar theme, Belle de Jour is paid a large amount of money to have sex with people. I on the other hand very much doubt that even a large amount of money would induce anyone to sleep with me. Except perhaps, ironically enough, Belle de Jour. Or one of her less expensive colleagues. But you never know. Maybe I’ll seek her out one of these days and find out just how fussy she is.

On Facebook, Belle de Jour has 1,689 friends. I have none. None! That really is shameful. Although I have only just signed up. And I am anonymous. But still. None!

Finally, one other key difference between me and her: Belle de Jour, if people who work in the media are to be believed, doesn’t actually exist. Whereas I merely go through dirty great patches of life wishing I didn’t exist.

So there you have it. La Belle et La Bête. Comme la craie et le fromage. I wonder if she’ll be my Facebook friend? It would be quite a cool way to start. I'm going to ask. But I won't pay.

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Wednesday, 19 December 2007

On Beauty. Or: God Makes Mistakes ALL THE TIME!

So I was pottering around online last night and I found this question Yahoo Answers in New Zealand: Did you know that there is no such thing as an ugly person? My favourite answer comes from Charity:

'I believe that no one is ugly. God made no mistake when he created any of us and we need to know that not because the person may be unattractive to us mean they are ugly, he/she may be the sweetest, loving and kind person you will ever meet.

Beauty is not on the outside but on the inside.'
Awwww, sweet. Barely literate and definitely wrong, but sweet. Anyway, it made me want to say a few things about the whole beautiful versus ugly thing. So here goes.

I know I’m ugly. People have been telling me my whole life that I’m ugly. I accepted pretty early on that it was true; that it was objectively, unequivocally a fact of my life.

I was an ugly baby. With elbows hidden in my face.

I was an ugly boy. With eczema on top of the elbows.

I was an ugly adolescent. With acne on top of the eczema on top of the elbows.

And now I am an ugly man. With elbows hidden in my face. And with scars. Lots of nasty, ugly scars.

Really. Accept it. I’ve accepted it.

But there are probably still those amongst you – probably Christians – thinking and believing that there is actually no such thing as ‘ugly’ or ‘beautiful’, there is only what society tells us or fashion dictates; thinking that beauty is not something on the surface, rather it is a light in the heart; thinking that ugly is a state of mind, beautiful thoughts make a beautiful person and that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Why, even Confucius he say: ‘Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it’.

To all of which I say: balls.

Ask the philosophers and the poets. Not Confucius, but the others. They knew. Anyway, it’s obvious. It’s screamingly obvious.

Beauty exists, objectively. And I can prove it.

For example, imagine a magnificent cheetah hurtling through a vibrant, verdant jungle. That’s beauty right there, you see. Now imagine a fat brown slug leaving a trail of slime on a dirty kitchen floor. Ugh. You see?

Or – maybe you’re a fan of slugs and you don’t buy that. Fine. Imagine instead a tropical sunset on a clear, lucid night, palm trees swaying in the breeze and waves lapping at a crimson beach. Now imagine a row of dilapidated council houses on a smoggy morning, a drunk old man staggering in the street and his wife coughing up blood and phlegm into a piece of crispy toilet roll. You see the difference?

And it’s the same with individuals. Only more so. I’ll show you. I’ll test you. I’ll show you some photos of some famous people, in pairs, one of them is – in my most humble opinion, objectively good-looking, attractive, a thing of beauty; the other a pig. If it isn't obvious to you as it is to me, then I will hold my hands up, admit that I was wrong and write a letter of apology to Charity.

George Formby vs George Clooney...

Jessica Alba vs Jade Goody...

Bruce Willis vs Bruce Forsyth...

Tracey Emin vs Monica Bellucci...

Wayne Rooney vs Thierry Henri...

Scarlett Johansson vs Sister Wendy Beckett..

Johnny Depp vs Shane McGowan...

Jocelyn Wildenstein vs Beyonce...

So there you have it. QED.

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Monday, 17 December 2007

An Ugly Man Needs Good Clothes. A Man With a Face Like a Bag of Wrestlers’ Elbows Needs Exceptional Clothes…

I’m a big Leonard Cohen fan, and the words ‘An ugly man needs good clothes’ were uttered or scribbled down by him on some documentary or album sleeve many years ago. I don’t rightly remember where I heard or saw them but they stuck with me. It was when I was studying for my A’ Levels that they hit me. And they changed me. Until then I had dressed like a slob. I didn’t care what my clothes looked like. I knew I looked bad as a whole and so assumed – stupidly – that the clothes I wore could have no impact on that. But I trusted Leonard Cohen. I trusted Leonard Cohen and so I began to dress well. I was still an ugly man of course. A very ugly man. Uglier than Leonard Cohen could ever even dream of being, with his saturnine Hebrew roguishness. But, the difference was, I had very good clothes, and it made me feel a great deal better. And that showed.

So when I walked into the not especially charming and not especially friendly bar of the Hufflers Arms at precisely 8pm – an hour after some of my classmates had promised to arrive – I was dressed well. But I was sweating like a pig.

I was scared.

I made for the bar and ordered myself a pint of Guinness. It seemed to take hours to settle between draughts. When it finally arrived, I glugged at it like a bad kisser.

The pub was busy. As I sipped at the second half of my drink and glanced around, I recognised no one. I knew I’d have to wander through to the other rooms. Scenarios began to assail me. What would the first person to recognise me shout out? Which of the hideous, heart-wrenching barbs that passed for nicknames would I be forced to relive first?


I turned around to see the smiling face of the first woman to whom I ever offered my unreciprocable love.

Angela Charlton.

To my credit, I didn’t stutter. Not much anyway. A slight cha-cha-cha on her surname, but nothing to tango to.

And then she leant forward to hug me and something leapt inside me. It was my dinner – the wrap I’d scoffed in Charing Cross before getting the train over here. But I managed to hold it down as she pecked me on the cheek and said, ‘Wow!’ Her hand still on my arm, she said, ‘you look good, man. How are you?’

Bless her. Bless you, Angela Cha-cha-charlton, for that small but much appreciated kindness.

I looked at her, felt for a moment that I was holding back tears, then pulled myself together. ‘I’m fine,’ I told her. ‘I’m OK. You know?’ I added. ‘I’m alright.’ I wanted to say, ‘I survived. I survived the five years of torture that was my comprehensive education.’ But instead I just smiled inanely, glad I was there. ‘How are you?’ I managed. ‘You look…’ I stopped. How did she look, this woman whose face had filled dozens of socks with my plump ungainly seed? She looked… actually she looked old. Tired. Sad. ‘You look fantastic!’ I cried.

She rolled her eyes. ‘Right,’ she said. ‘I look like my grandmother is how I look. I’m alright though. It’s good to see you.’

‘Can I get you a drink?’ I asked.

‘Yes,’ she said. ‘Please. That’d be great.’

I bought her a drink. A rum and coke. Classy. While I was being served, her phone made a noise so she picked it up and put it to her ear. ‘Oh, hi,’ she said. ‘Yeah, I’m here… No, not yet, I’ve just arrived, but you’ll never guess who’s here… No, no, don’t be silly. No… No, why don’t I just tell you and we can maybe not waste our lives…’ Then she said my name. No nicknames. Just my name. Again it was appreciated. ‘Yeah!’ Whoever she was talking to was, I sensed, not so kind. ‘Yeah, I’m standing next to him actually… OK, alright, see you in a sec.’

She had said it. The person on the phone to Angela, whoever it was, had said it. She shrieked it after the mention of my name. ‘Bag of Elbows?!’ she’d shrieked. I had a lot of nicknames at school, but that – along with its diminutives – was without doubt my most popular. Actually, maybe it’s time for a quick list. It’ll be good for me. Purgative. So, names I had regularly tossed in my face during my five years of secondary school education included:

• Bag of Elbows
• Elbows
• Edgar Allan Elbow
• Elbow Allan Poe
• Elliot Elbow
• Ugly
• Fugly
• Ug
• Pug
• Plug
• Pizzaface
• Greasy greasy spot spot (thanks to Blackadder Goes Forth for that one)
• Fatso
• Fatty
• Pud
• Pudding
• Ten Bellies
• Twenty Bellies
• Spaz
• Spazmo
• Elephant Man
• Elephant-legs
• Merrick
• Leper
• Chernobyl

That’s not exhaustive of course. There was also a long list of names derived from the fact that the first syllable of my surname rhymes with ‘fat’, and by extension, ‘prat’, and ‘twat’, but I’d like to retain a little anonymity if you don’t mind. Anyway, you get the idea. And a great deal of the abuse was elbow-related. The elbow theme all kicked off in the first week of secondary school. I was 11 years old and Gary Turnbull said to his friend Simon Wharton that I, sitting at an adjacent desk, had ‘a face like a bag of elbows’. Despite the fact that it made my first year absolutely unbearable, I can still see that it was quite a perceptive and well-crafted observation. There’s truth in it. I do have a face like a bag of elbows.

My face is angular in unexpected places. I have a bold and erratic bone structure with prominent, uneven cheekbones and a large, off-centre chin. Plus a horribly virulent and for a long time untreated case of eczema left patches of dark and gnarled skin all over the place, but mostly my face, like – very much like – wrestlers’ elbows. So, naturally, my nickname took root. That’s what I became. To a certain extent, and certainly in the minds of people who know me from school, that’s what I am.

‘You’ll never guess who that was,’ said Angela, sipping at her drink.

‘No,’ I said. ‘Probably not.’

‘Karen Walsh.’

‘Ah.’ Yes, I remembered Karen Walsh. ‘Oh, joy,’ I said.

Angela laughed. ‘Don’t worry, everyone’s grown up a bit since school. Even Karen.’

‘Just a bit?’ I try to pull a sophisticated face but I think I just look mean. ‘So you two are still friends then?’

‘I suppose so, yeah. But I hadn’t seen her for years. Not since the first reunion.’

‘This isn’t the first reunion then?’

‘No, no, not by a long chalk. The first was probably five years ago. Now they meet up every few months…’

Angela then spent five or ten minutes filling me in on her life since school. It went like this: bad GCSE results followed by two years at McDonald’s where she worked her way up to assistant manager; met, fell in love and moved in with a Pole before Poles were all the rage; fell pregnant but lost the baby when Pole punched her in the kidneys; left Pole, quit job, paid for her and her younger sister to travel around the world for six months; moved to north London and retrained as a primary school teacher; got a job in a school in Hackney. Which is what she still does and despite the frustrations and the often enormous workload, she loves it.

‘We should go and find the others,’ she said. My stomach turned. I was enjoying talking to her, listening to her. I didn’t want to find the others at all. ‘Let me just get another drink,’ she said, knocking back the rest of her rum. ‘Do you want another Guinness?’


And so it began. Suddenly a bunch of faces reared up at me from the past. Here's a quick profile of the ones I spoke to most this evening. (Incidentally, I decided it was only fair to grant them the same amount of privacy I’m granting myself, so names have been swapped about and changed ever so slightly, just to stop weirdoes doing weirdo stuff on Facebook or Friends Reunited or – God forbid – in real life.) So…

Name: Neil Stores

School nickname: Storesy

School achievement: violence – Storesy was the hardest boy in school, until the arrival of Dave ‘Magma’ Wilson in the third year (even then though, Storesy was still quite hard, and ever more willing to prove it).

Adult employment: Security guard at the Orchards Shopping Centre, Dartford.

Physical arc: Excellent. Clearly in near-perfect physical shape, although severely disfigured with tiny scars, presumably from blade play, and very bad tattoos, including one on his left eyelid, which I am assured means he has spent some time in prison. Probably for ABH. I’m guessing. I didn’t ask.

Psychological arc: Poor. He’s still an absolute, unmitigated moron. He had a copy of Nuts in his coat pocket. He has the letters c, u, n and t amateurishly inked onto the knuckles of his left hand. I’d love to interview him for a job.

Name: Deborah Mills

School nickname: Deb, Debs, Millsy

School achievement: perfection. Managed to irritate almost everybody with whom she came into contact by being so damn perfect. Well spoken, beautifully turned out, very bright, achingly pretty – always gave the impression that she was in entirely the wrong school. Other girls hated her because they felt that she felt that she was better than them (she clearly was better than them). Boys hated her because she wouldn’t let them kiss her unnaturally red lips or put their grubby fingers up her skirt. I always quite liked her though. It was like she was as much of an outcast as me but for entirely the opposite reasons. I was very surprised to see her in the pub this evening. Of all the people that were there, she was the least expected.

Adult employment: Publishing person at Random House in London. Currently on leave to look after dying father which is why she was in Dartford, and maybe why she was quite so caustic.

Physical arc: Very, very good. She’s a very good-looking woman. Men stare at her with their mouths open. That’s it.

Psychological arc: Good. She seems to have come to terms with the fact that people resent her beauty and composure and has developed a hard and rather abrasive edge. She was fine to me, but slightly nasty to a few other people. Just struck me as slightly mean.

Name: Darren McLaren

School nickname: Mac, Daz

School achievements: spitting (could always produce a ball of phlegm – so loudly and viscously that it would always make me feel physically sick – and spit it over enormous distances with pinpoint precision); violence.

Adult employment: Business Manager at NatWest bank, Dartford.

Physical arc: Poor. 15 years have not been kind to Mac and have transformed someone who used to have quite a pleasant face and a sprightly form into someone who has a pot belly and a combover.

Psychological arc: Moderate. Mac no longer seems to be under the impression that spitting phlegm at people’s backs is the height of sophisticated repartee, which is a good thing. But sadly, nothing seems to have taken its place. Knows a lot about finance. Has two kids, whom he claims to think the world of, yet he didn’t really have much to say about them. Dull as ditchwater. In a ditch in Dartford.

Name: Karen Walsh

School nickname: Kaz, Walshy

School achievement: bully

Adult employment: Social Worker, Lewisham.

Physical arc: Good. She looks OK, I must admit.

Psychological arc: Remarkable. More on Walshy later.

Name: Claudette Ramsay

School nickname: Claude

School achievement: Most willing to suck boys’ penises.

Adult employment: Secretary in an insurance company, Maidstone.

Physical arc: Swollen. Has much larger breasts than before. I suspect surgery.

Psychological arc: Good. She isn’t enormously bright but then she never was. Enjoys Arthurian legend for some reason and spends a lot of time online playing World of Warcraft, which is how she met her current boyfriend. He’s like, level 60 paladin or something. Still quite saucy it seems.

Name: Angela Charlton

School nickname: Ange, Charlie

School achievement: Had an affair with English teacher in fifth year.

Adult employment: Primary school teacher, Hackney.

Physical arc: Good. Looks a bit tired and pale, and slightly underweight. Still very sexy though. I would. Any day of the week. Monday, Friday, Sunday… any day.

Psychological arc: Excellent. Seems thoroughly sorted. Above it all. Cool.

So, there I was standing round one end of one bar in one Dartford pub in fluid clusters and groups with all the people mentioned above. It was an odd mix. And I had odd mixed feelings about everyone there. Some of them I liked immediately. For some of them I still held grudges. And that was odd too, because I had no idea really who any of them were.

The main difference between now and then however, is that now I’m no longer crippled by shyness. When I look at Storesy, Mac and Bucky for example, and I find out what they’re up to these days and what they’ve done with their lives, I no longer feel ashamed; I no longer feel the shame they used to make me feel, or rather, the shame I used to allow them to make me feel. They may be better looking than me – although Mac’s not a million miles away – but now the things I can do that they can’t, mean so much more than my fugly face.

So what are those things, I am forced to ask myself. Well, I am fairly intelligent, by most yardsticks. I have a quick mind and a quick tongue. I have opinions that I can quite eloquently articulate, without too much trouble. I can be funny. I have empathy and instinctively attempt to put myself in the shoes of the person I’m talking to. Or anyone else for that matter. And that makes me – for the most part – feel a certain closeness, something approaching understanding, and with that comes tolerance and compassion. I’m not saying I am the Son of God, but there’s definitely something saintly going on behind this nasty mask.

Plus, I dress well.

So. There’s lots of drinking going on and there is a good atmosphere. I feel pleased with myself. I’m glad I came. I speak to everybody there over the first couple of hours. I find out what they’re doing and explain what it is I’ve been doing for the last 15 years. None of us – except Alex Mussett and Angela Charlton – have done anything particularly exciting. At least Alex and Ange have both travelled for more than a couple of weeks in a hotel here and there. Storesy I discover, has never once set foot outside the UK. He doesn’t seem particularly perturbed by this fact.

‘But there’s so much going on,’ I pointed out. ‘There are like, about 200 countries in the world, and like, nearly seven billion people out there. Don’t you want to maybe, experience a bit of it?’

He scowled at me, and half-laughed, but not in a mean way. ‘You don’t get it do you the thing is I really couldn’t give a fuck about all that you know what I mean? I’m happy where I am and with what I’ve got. I couldn’t give a monkey’s about the rest of the world if I’m honest.’ His face had softened. He was genuinely trying to explain. I felt quite touched, probably in a rather patronising way.

I held my hands up in resignation. ‘That’s fine. I’m happy you’re happy. I just can’t help thinking, you know….’

‘Yeah, you always thought too much,’ he interrupted. ‘That was your problem, mate.’

‘Well, what the fuck else was I supposed to do?’ I realised I’d kind of snapped this. And I swore. And I don’t often swear. I’m not a big fan of foul language. ‘There was nothing else for me to do. I was hardly the most popular kid in school.’ I snapped that too. I smiled at him, deliberately. I could feel myself getting emotional. That wasn’t really supposed to happen. Calm. Calm. ‘What do you want to drink, Storesy? Let me buy you a drink.’

Later on, I’m standing talking with Ange, Deb and Claudette. I’m drunk. They’re drunk. We’re all drunk. The conversation has turned to physical appearance. Not mine, but it’s only a matter of time.

Claude is lavishing praise on gorgeous old Millsy. And rightly so. Then she extends her praise to Ange, congratulating them on managing to keep their figures.

I interrupt. ‘Oh, God, Claude. Don’t you know it’s seriously bad form to start talking about weight in the presence of someone who’s morbidly obese?’

They laugh.

‘You’re not morbidly obese,’ chirp Claude and Deb.

‘You are definitely obese though,’ says Ange.

Claude gasps and cries, ‘Don’t be mean.’ Deb says something similar as Ange gives a ‘What did I say?’ face.

‘It’s OK,’ I say. ‘As it happens, she’s right.’ Ange gives me a playful punch on the arm. I scrunch my face up at her. Not really sure how that goes across.

The conversation remains cosmetic and Claude is talking about overdoing the sunbed she frequents maybe three times a week. ‘I think I’m addicted to it,’ she says. ‘It’s just about the only time I ever leave the house, outside of work. I even do it in the summer.’

The mention of the word summer sets off a ripple of moans about the weather and how bad the summer was, before Deb mentions that she thinks she’s completely phobic when it comes to sunbeds, and indeed the sun, and is obsessed by skin cancer. She is very pale, but she has long reddish hair so she looks stunningly attractive rather than sickly. I look sickly. ‘I went to a tanning salon once,’ I say, ‘but I came out in a rash. I think I was allergic.’ They laugh. ‘It’s far from funny,’ I insist. ‘But it’s good that it gets a laugh I suppose. It’s good that my suffering brings a little happiness into the world that way at least.’

‘Oh, poor you,’ says Ange.

I laugh. I like Ange. ‘No, but it’s a nightmare,’ I persist. ‘It’s like there’s nothing I can do to even pretend that I’m healthy or…’

‘You could lose weight.’ Ange again. Followed by the disapproval of Claude and Deb. Claude I think is one of those people to whom the idea of saying anything remotely offensive in a social situation is anathema. She actually blushes.

I smile. ‘No, she’s absolutely right,’ I say. ‘Losing weight would be a good place to start.’

‘No, but I think it’s really good.’ This is Claude continuing to shy away from the truth. ‘You know, everyone is so vain these days, and I include myself in that, although you might not think so to look at me. I’m a complete slave to vanity and I hate it. I think it’s really good that you’re not… you know, that you haven’t give in to the pressures….’

‘What makes you think I haven’t given in to the pressures of vanity, Claude?’

She stops talking, unsure if I’m joking or not. She looks into my face, her drunken eyes focussing on my many-elbowed face. ‘No, I just mean…’ She is lost.

I put her out of her misery. ‘I know what you mean,’ I chuckle. ‘And I know there’s a complement in there somewhere desperately trying to fight its way through to the surface and I really appreciate it, honest I do. But you’re going to have to give me a blow job to make up for it.’

I’m drunk. Part of me wants to be embarrassed and apologetic for what I’ve just said but it’s getting laughs and it was only a joke for God’s sake – kind of – and the new me is a little bit more loose-lipped than the old me. And I like him.

Ange is patting Claude on the back, really quite firmly. Claude is choking, having laughed some of her wine up into her nose and brought on a coughing fit. ‘Seriously though,’ I continue. ‘It was very difficult for me at school, being the only boy in the third, fourth and fifth year that you never went down on.’

Claude recovers enough to say, between loud sniffs and mutterings of ‘oh dear’, ‘Well, you never asked, did you? Everybody else asked.’

To which Ange said, ‘You’re in there, Stan. She’s just a girl who can’t say no.’

To which Claude replied, ‘Hold your horses, Ange love, that was 15 years ago.’

‘A leopard never changes its spots,’ Deb pipes up.

‘So what, you’re the same prissy bitch you were when you were at school, are you?’ says Claude, wiping her eyes with a tissue.

‘Now this is more like it,’ Ange laughs. ‘This is what I come to these things for!’

‘If you thought I was a prissy little bitch then, then yeah, you probably still will now, but that might say more about you than it does about me,’ comes Deb’s considered, slightly prissy reply.

‘Yeah, no change there,’ Claude snaps back and they both laugh drunkenly, all talk of my oral pleasure washed away on a wave of slightly bitter nostalgia.

Speaking of which, here comes Storesy with a tray of drinks. ‘Here you go, peeps,’ he says. ‘Peeps!’ I repeat, grabbing hold of what I think is my fifth, but it could my eighth Guinness. ‘Cheers!’ I shout. Suddenly everyone is standing around in a rough circle, everyone has drinks and we’re all manically clinking each other. ‘Look in the eyes!’ says Alex, to everyone in turn. ‘The eyes!’ Cries of ‘Eyes!’ are reverberating around the pub. ‘Here’s to the past!’ I cry and there are more clinks, ‘The past!’ bouncing round a few wet mouths.

Then last orders are called, more drinks are purchased – I’m drinking vodka now, which I know is a stupid idea right then as I’m pouring it into my fat neck – and people are talking about Christmas. Storesy, Ange, Kaz and Claude reminisce about some Christmas party where Graham Uren (who had the piss taken out of him constantly for that surname) got so drunk that he believed he was possessed by the devil. Complete breakdown. Oh, the hilarity. Well, I wasn’t at that party, but I do remember that Christmas. The Christmas of 1992. I remember the last day of term particularly well, because it was the day I was tied to a goalpost on the school football field, wrists tied to the crossbar with a length of rope so that I was stretched onto my tiptoes, and my trousers pulled around my ankles; the day 30 or so fellow pupils came to look and laugh and point and I had to wait for 25 minutes before anyone had the decency to let me down.

‘It was funny though,’ says Mac.

‘No.’ I look at him, really trying to stop my eyes from tearing up. ‘No, it really wasn’t funny,’ I repeat. ‘It totally fucked me up for a long time afterwards and it really wasn’t funny.’

Mac is aware that there is a situation. He glances back and forth at other faces, grinning.

‘Have you ever been publicly humiliated, Darren, or bullied?’

He squirms and nods his head, ‘Alright, mate, I’m sorry. It was a long time ago, you know what I mean…’

I am about to continue to argue with him, when Karen steps forward and grabs my arm, gestures for me to follow her and walks me away from the group towards the door and out onto the street, where she takes hold of my wrists, looks up at my face and into my eyes and says, ‘Stan, I just wanted to say, I’m really, really sorry for the part I know I played in the torture that you must have had to put up with day in and day out for years in that… horrible fucking school. I’m honestly, genuinely so sorry.’

That was it. I burst into tears. My hands flew up to my face and I began bawling. Karen tried to put her arms around me. I resisted at first but then, forcing myself to try and stop weeping, gradually lowered my arms. Her face was wet too. She smiled at me, put her arms around my neck and squeezed me. And off I went again.

I don’t believe I’ve cried that hard since I was at school. Maybe not since the Christmas of 1992. I held onto her like I could squeeze the life out of her if I wasn’t careful and I cried like a giant ugly baby. And if you think I’m ugly in the cold light of day, you should see me with a skinful on a cold winter’s night with my mad face sobbing and snot dangling from my nose.

‘It’s alright,’ said Karen. ‘It’s OK. Everything’s OK now. Come on. Come on, let’s get your face dried up.’

And gradually my sobs subsided. Karen gave me tissues. ‘I’m really glad you came tonight. For selfish reasons I mean. It really made me confront some things that I’d been pushing to the back of my mind, you know?’

I blew my nose. ‘This is not Oprah,’ I said, and I laughed.

She laughed. She looked at me, smiled. ‘You know what?’ she said. ‘You turned out really fucking well,’ she said. And I was off again.

Back in the pub a short while later, there are more drinks, there is loud music and some dancing. But we’re being moved on. ‘But I was just getting going,’ I tell the barman. ‘Just get going,’ he replies, wittily. ‘We’re going clubbing, mate, come on!’ ‘Mac!’ It’s Mac! ‘We’re going to Air & Breathe!’ ‘Breathe!’ I yell. ‘Breathe!’

Then I really don’t remember anything else for a long, long time. Then I remember choking, trying to breathe, trying desperately to catch my breath, fighting the feeling that I was drowning. Then I remember movement, falling and tumbling. Then I remember waking up, my throat like a rusty cheese grater, parched, gasping. Then waking up again in a bed with a sweet-smelling duvet wrapped around and between my legs.

Light was filtering through half-closed curtains. I had absolutely no idea where I was. I was alone. I was naked. There was blood all the way up my legs.

No, I’m joking. There was no blood. Sorry about that.

I was awoken again at 10.15 by Ange. She knocked and popped her head round the bedroom door. ‘Wakey wakey,’ she chimed. I groaned, like I felt I ought. It seemed like a script. I pulled the duvet instinctively over my face, where I began to wipe it free of bits. ‘Where am I?’ I whimpered.

‘You’re at Ange’s house in Hackney,’ Ange replied. ‘You had a bit too much to drink and got a little bit ill on some poor girl, so Ange brought you home in a cab. Karen’s here too and you’re all about to eat breakfast together and have a good old laugh about the night before.’


Oh God.

Goooood morning!’ cried Karen, as I shuffled into the living room wearing, and most probably stretching, Ange’s dressing gown, which covered me well enough, but was rather pink and flowery, much pinker and a great deal more flowery than I felt. ‘Don’t you look good enough to eat!’ she laughed.

I sat down and was kept topped up with coffee, and orange juice, and water, lots of water and eventually some toast, while Ange and Karen enjoyed bringing me up to speed on the events of the previous night.

Apparently, we never made it to the club. Outside the pub I had an attack of best frienditis and began hugging everyone and telling them that I had learned a lot and that I considered them all very dear friends, while someone tried to organise taxis. I ended up with Claudette, falling into her a little. Ange witnessed this and shouted ‘What about that blow job, Claude?’ At which point Claude laughed and licked her lips at me and I remembered, while Ange was telling the story. I remembered the association triggered by that image. That scene in The Elephant Man when Michael Elphick and his pals are torturing Merrick and one of the whores is forced to kiss him. ‘He’s a real ladies man. Give the ladies’ man a kiss.’ I thought of that. And that scene where Merrick and the whore’s head are squashed together both a’wailing in terror...

It always makes me weep. It’s very powerful. It has bad associations.

Apparently, my blacking out and vomiting occurred at exactly the same time, so I was already on my way down when Claudette’s legs got between my puke and the car park of the pub.

I cringe into black coffee. I feel ill all over again. My head begins to spin. Bruises I’ve been reminded I have begin to throb in my arms and legs.

Ange and Karen are still very amused by the whole episode. ‘There was loads of it,’ says Karen.

‘It ran down her tights and into her boots,’ add Ange.

‘Gallons of it,’ insists Karen.

‘God,’ I moan. ‘I was aiming for Mac.’

‘I find that difficult to believe. You told Mac you loved him last night.’

Also, apparently, I professed my love to both Ange and Karen in the cab, as I was drifting in an out of consciousness. Also, by all accounts, I even made a coarse proposition or two. But I am assured my advances were ‘hilarious’ rather than, well, rather than ‘ugly’. So that’s something.

‘Something weird might happen to Claudette Ramsay as a result of you puking on her like that,’ Ange suggests.

‘What are you suggesting?’ asks Karen. ‘That she might never suck another man’s cock as long as she lives?’

‘Yeah, maybe. You never know. She might develop a phobia.’

I interrupt. ‘Ithyphallophobia.’ Pow! I know my phobias. If there’s one thing I know, I know my phobias. ‘Fear of the erect penis.’

Ange and Karen laugh, and Ange says, ‘I think we all might have a bit of that after last night.’ More laughter, more deliberately conspiratorial looks darting back and forth.

Oh God.

They look at me, mock-suggestively. I feel the blood rising in me.

‘You don’t remember anything about how you got from the cab, covered in your own vomit, into my bed, naked and clean, do you?’

My mouth falls open.

‘You’re hung like a horse, my lad,’ says Ange. *

I am embarrassed in a happy way. They explain that they dragged me upstairs, undressed me and sponged me down. ‘I swear you were awake,’ says Karen. ‘Go on, you can admit it now.’

I wasn’t awake. At least, not fully. I thought I was dreaming. It was really good.

I start laughing.

‘Part of him was certainly awake,’ says Ange. ‘Know what I mean?’ she adds in the voice of Marsha from Spaced.

I laugh for a while longer, slightly maniacally. Then I’m wiping my eyes. ‘Do you know, that was the best birthday I’ve had for years.’


‘Did you know it was his birthday?’

‘It was your fucking birthday?!’

Blimey. They were really annoyed. ‘How could you not say anything?’ they wanted to know.

I shrugged. ‘I dunno. It didn’t seem important.’

They decided that on the contrary, it was very important, and they made arrangements to take me out to lunch. Lunch turned into drinks turned into cocktails turned into a long day becoming very close friends with two women who in very different ways made my schooldays an absolute misery.

And it was an absolute pleasure. An unremitting joy.

And now, the next day, still not fully recovered, I must sleep.

Happy birthday to me.

And Finally…

Name: Stan Cattermole

School nickname: Bag of Elbows, etc, etc, etc

School achievement: ugliness. Was officially the ugliest child in the school, and it was suspected and often voiced, most probably in the entire United Kingdom. If not Europe. And so on.

Adult employment: Copywriter, freelance journalist, poet (alright, I don’t get paid for my poetry, but I still consider it an employment), Herne Hill.

Physical arc: Appalling. As a child I was fat and ugly. Now I am morbidly obese and ugly. And while my eczema’s not as bad as it used to be, the scars are much, much worse.

Psychological arc: Good. I no longer despise myself as I always have. I wouldn’t say I was happy but I’m definitely not as depressed as I have been all my life and I am, without doubt, 30 years old. It is time to make a change. My worry is that I won’t have the discipline and that in a year’s time, I will be exactly the same. If that happens, I may enter into psychological decline. But it won’t. Because I’ve had enough. I’ve had enough of not giving myself the opportunities I deserve. I’ve had enough of using my ugly face as an excuse not to live. It’s time I started putting myself out there a bit.

Now, I’m no believer in Fate, so what I’m about to say, I don’t necessarily actually genuinely believe. But maybe a bit of me does. I don’t know. I mean, who knows, eh? Who knows? Well, no one knows for sure, but just maybe, when I signed up to Friends Reunited a month ago, I knew that it was the first step on the road to self-improvement. And when I received an invitation to this reunion, and it happened to coincide with my birthday, it certainly felt that it was meant to happen. It just seemed right. Because you have to face up to your past, before you can get on with your future. I don’t want to get all Jerry Springer on my own capacious ass, but I do believe that.

So. All of this. This is why I’m keeping this blog. Even more than finding love – which I accept is a long shot – I’m keeping this blog to encourage myself along this path to self-improvement and to keep a track of my various promises to myself.

To recap then, my goals are as follows – and they’re not New Year’s Resolutions. They’re New Life Resolutions, and therefore exactly the same but just slightly more pretentious:

  1. Lose 8 Stone in One Year

  2. Stop Smoking Completely and Forever on January 1st

  3. Do More Things and Meet More People

  4. Write this blog for at least one year – ideally, at least once a week, chronicling my progress with the other goals

  5. and…

  6. Find Myself a Girlfriend

Really, if I’m completely honest. Numbers One, Two, Three and Four only exist at all because of Number Five, but together they’re probably more important.

Wish me luck.

* It’s true that Ange did say those exact words to me, but I wondered whether or not to repeat them here. I realise everything I write here – you have only my word that any of it happened the way I say it did, or indeed at all. And I have said that I’m looking for a girlfriend, so claiming to have an enormous schlong could obviously be seen as a well-crafted deception in order to try and attract the kind of girl who really goes for a well-endowed monster. Well, whatever. Ultimately, you’re going to have to take my word for it.

Like a baby’s arm.

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Sunday, 16 December 2007

‘I Am At Home With the Me. I Am Rooted in the Me Who Is on This Adventure...’

I’m a film buff. Films have served me well since I discovered the Marx Brothers as a miserable nine-year-old and Halliwell’s Film Guide when I was 12. I currently have a library of over 600 DVDs, which I dip into when I need to be reminded of something or inspired in some way. So, for instance, earlier this week, the night before my first ever school reunion, I rewatched Grosse Point Blank.

Jesus, what I wouldn’t give to be Martin Blank. I already have the flexible morality, the sharp suits and the occasional smart-mouthed remark, but just imagine having John Cusack’s face and Martin Blank’s skills as a professional killer. What a repertoire.

Anyhow, the night before my first ever school reunion also happened to be the night before my 30th birthday, the day that I had long vowed – like so many before me – would be the day I’d finally stop disappointing myself and would turn my life around once and for all.

This was two days ago. Happy birthday to me.

I’d been invited to the reunion by someone who’d tracked me down, appropriately enough, on Friends Reunited. I’d finally got round to joining Friends Reunited because I was nearly 30 years old, and I was sick of hiding away. When I saw that the reunion coincided with my 30th birthday, I accepted the invitation immediately, before I could talk myself out of it. Then I attempted to talk myself out of it. But I resisted. I would go. If only to show the world that I didn’t care what it thought anymore, and that its verbal slings and arrows bounced off my broad back like ducks off a diving board.

So, the night before my first ever school reunion and my 30th birthday, I stood naked in front of my flatmate’s full-length mirror and I said, a la Martin Blank, ‘I am at home with the me. I am rooted in the me who is on this adventure.’ And then I laughed. God, I’m ugly. I’ve always known that but it took till very recently to be able to laugh at the fact. And with that newfound ability came the desire to show the rest of the world that their jibes didn’t crush me anymore. Much.

And so to the reunion.

The reunion was held in a pub in Dartford, where I lived as a child. Now – the last thing I want to do is come across as in any way bigoted or discriminatory or supercilious – but it’s important that I’m honest about this one, perhaps slightly controversial fact: people from Dartford are subnormal. Now I’m sure there are a small few rule-proving exceptions – none of whom are Mick Jagger – but on the whole… massively subnormal. I don’t know what went wrong in the gene pool, but at some stage in Dartford’s history, I suspect some malevolent swine urinated in it. The people of Dartford possess less human kindness, less discernment, less decency and fewer IQ points than the inhabitants of any other inner-city conurbation anywhere else on planet Earth. A lot of this is conjecture of course. But it’s based on fact.

I hadn’t been back to Dartford in ten years. Not since my mother’s funeral. And the celebration that followed. I was horribly nervous. I would have given anything to have been accompanied by a friend. But I had no friends from school. Which made me wonder why the hell I was going to a reunion. I was essentially voluntarily walking into a room full of people who, 15 years previously, used to amuse one another by seeing who could be the most cruel to me. I was deliberately, and with self-harm aforethought, putting my head back into the lion’s mouth. And why?

Just to show ‘em, that’s why.

It felt similar to the reasons people give for doing extreme sports. They climb stupidly dangerous mountains and whatnot because if they don’t, then the mountains have won. I was fed up with letting the mountains win.

And breathe…

Must eat.

Back soon.

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Because Heaven Knows, If There's One Thing the World Really Needs Right Now, It’s Another Enormously Self-Indulgent Blog…


So. What possible justification could there possibly be for the publication of yet another goddamned weblog? Latest figures show that of the 100,000 new blogs created every thirty seconds or so, most of them don’t get beyond the initial post, and of those that do, only one in two and a half million is actually worth reading.

So there’d better be a darned good reason for this one. Well, I like to think there is.

What I’d like to say is that through confessing my myriad humiliations and measly triumphs – as I intend to do – I can help others who share my afflictions.

I’d love to say that. But it isn’t true. If that happens along the way, then that’s great. A wonderful bonus. But that’s not my prime motivation.

Rather I’m writing it all down in the hopefully not altogether vain hope that I can, as a result, find myself someone to love. It’s as simple and, I have to say, as pathetic, and, I have to say, as crucially important, as that. So yes, this whole exercise is as much of a device, as much of an attempt to find love as speed dating, placing a personal ad or volunteering at a college of the blind. More of which later. The only difference is, I can do this in my underpants, and I can stop whenever I want, without anyone having a go at me or poking me with sticks and tossing strawberries at me. More of which later.

So this blog was for quite a while, in my imagination, called Bag of Elbows. And I expect you, my imaginary reader, are just dying to know why. Well, I’ll tell you. It’s because those are the words that followed me through my entire school life, from the first week when the nickname was coined by Gary Turnbull – who frankly speaking was no oil painting himself, but then that’s often how it is with bullies; they know that if they aren’t dishing it out, they’ll be on the receiving end – the shits – to the last day when I walked out of the examination hall with the word ‘elbow’ chalked onto my blazer-back.

Titles I also considered were: ‘Sex and the Ugly Man’, but that would have been somewhat misleading, at least in part – i.e. the ‘sex’ part; ‘Confessions of an Ugly Man’, which I think sets quite the wrong tone; ‘A Life Less Loved’, which I decided was too self-pitiful; and 'Plight of the Munter’, which I like, but frankly, rather condescendingly, considered a little obscure.

So I decided on Bag of Elbows. Then at the last minute, I changed my mind. (Billie Piper was partly responsible for this. I was wondering – extremely conceitedly – who would play me if my humble blog was televised. I decided it could really be anyone, but that they would have to wear an awful lot of make-up.)

Anyhow, here it is, and if this doesn’t end at least some of the heartache, then at the very least, it’ll provide a place for me to track my progress, as I attempt to turn my solitary, sedentary life into something more lived. And something more loved.

So, enough of the prevarication. Let’s get on with it. Let the seduction commence!

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Saturday, 15 December 2007

The Beginning of a Great Adventure...

‘Now everybody's got a crazy notion of their own.
Some like to mix up with a crowd, some like to be alone.
It's no one else’s business as far as I can see,
But every time that I go out, the people stare at me...’
- George Formby

I have been called some things in my time. Terrible things. I have cried myself to sleep more times than I care to remember. I have been kicked, punched and spat upon by strangers, and all because of how I look.

Human beings can be terribly cruel to one another.

When people tell you – constantly – that you’re ugly, you find it very difficult to like yourself. Much easier to imagine that people are right – how could so many of them be wrong after all? Much easier to blame yourself and loathe yourself and wish that you could change into someone that other people looked kindly upon; someone other people liked.

Well, I am that ugly man, concomitant emotional freakshow and all.

However! This is not going to be a record of me staring into the folds of flab where my navel used to be, feeling sorry for myself and wishing I was Jake Gyllenhaal. No, it isn’t. I’m just getting some stuff out of the way. I promise.

Essentially, in a nutshell, I’m a really ugly-looking bloke with a heart of gold and I’ve been living mostly alone for the past 30 years.

But things have happened recently which have convinced me that I don’t necessarily need to change into another human being; I just need to change.

I’ve been really lazy, and really self-indulgent. For too long. Far too long.

Also, last night turned into one of the best birthdays I’ve ever had – actually THE BEST birthday I’ve ever had, without question – yet by other people’s standards, it was probably pretty tragic. Tragic or not, it was just the kick start I needed to turn things around.


Crikey. Or, as one of the most important figures of the twentieth century, George Formby, would have it, ‘Ooo, ‘eck.’

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