Thursday, 31 January 2008

Valentine’s Day Countdown :: Thinking Outside the Candy Box

Traditionally Valentine’s Day is not something that has bothered me. Don’t get me wrong, I hate it, but it’s never managed to make me feel more lonely than usual. Well, not much.

But this year of course, is my special year. My year for coming out of my shell. So I feel I should probably try and – I don’t know - do something. Not sure what though. Suggestions appreciated.

Anyhow, it’s two weeks away and the articles have started to appear. I came across this article over at GirlDatesLondon. It’s a bunch of ‘sure fire tips for meeting new people’. Gay people granted, but what the hell. Any port-hole in a storm. And as ‘gay male relationship expert’ Patrick Perrine so rightly says, ‘Try a new perspective. From meeting new people to asking for a date; think outside the candy box.’ I have no idea what that means, but as soon as I find out, I’m doing it.

Anyhow, the tips:

1) Attend Events… ones that interest you and have plenty of gay men.

Gay angle aside (if I haven't found a woman by July, I'll start considering other options, but not before), this makes a lot of sense. Although I’m not entirely sure I’m thinking of events as such. I’m thinking of night classes. I’d quite like to learn Italian. Not very useful – except for restaurants and holidays – but very sexy. Oui oui. So I might do that.

2) Don't Move Too Fast… True love is first a meeting of minds; the bodies connect later.

And thank God for that.

3) Dress For Success - You'll feel more comfortable if your hair is neat, clothes flattering, nails manicured, and your hands warm. Pick a shirt color close to your eye color. Your sincerity is more likely to be believed.

Which is precisely what my PUA friends told me. All except the sincerity thing. Unfortunately – or fortunately I guess – I already wear good clothes and have very warm hands. Also, as of this morning, I have super neat hair.

I didn’t know about the correlation between shirt colour, eye colour and sincerity however, and shall be working on that in the future. It makes sense though, and now I know why no one believes a word David Bowie says. Oh. My mistake.

4) Pretend you're famous. Work the room like you're Bill Clinton campaigning in 1990… Pretend to be someone you admire. How would he break the ice?...

Hmmm. Now, in my opinion, working a room like Bill Clinton is questionable advice. The man’s a sex-pest! As for pretending to be someone I admire, well I quite admire Gandhi. So, how would a celibate vegetarian Hindu pacifist break the ice? A game of Spin the Bottle maybe? Nah. If I know Gandhi – and I like to think I do – he’d probably just do a bit of low-key mingling, dispensing his wisdom and offering solace: ‘Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. Chick pea?’ Actually, that’s not a bad opener.

5) Say Hello and Shut Up - Think you can't make small talk? Sure you can! When you've spotted your Dream Valentine across the room, and the longer-than-usual eye contact is accompanied by even a smile; go for it. Walk over and introduce yourself. Say "Hello, I'm [name]. This is my first event of [name the organization]; have you been a member for long?" You want to get the other person talking. Remember the quote, "A bore is someone who keeps talking after I have something to say."

I’m not sure I understand this advice. It seems to be suggesting both a) don’t make boring small talk, and b) Sure you can! Go ahead, make boring small talk. And that quote, is it a misprint? Surely a bore is someone who keeps talking after they have something to say. Someone who keeps talking after I have something to say is just rude.

6) Be a Good Listener - Keep eye contact most or all of the time. Remember details about his interests and pick up on one of these details to share your own interests. Then turn the conversation back to the other person.

Well, duh.

Pah. Valentine’s Day, Schmalentine’s Day.

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Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Apropos of Adaptation

I adore this, the opening words of Adaptation:

'Do I have an original thought in my head? My bald head. Maybe if I were happier, my hair wouldn't be falling out. Life is short. I need to make the most of it. Today is the first day of the rest of my life. I'm a walking cliché. I really need to go to the doctor and have my leg checked. There's something wrong. A bump. The dentist called again. I'm way overdue. If I stop putting things off, I would be happier. All I do is sit on my fat ass. If my ass wasn't fat I would be happier. I wouldn't have to wear these shirts with the tails out all the time. Like that's fooling anyone. Fat ass. I should start jogging again. Five miles a day. Really do it this time. Maybe rock climbing. I need to turn my life around. What do I need to do? I need to fall in love. I need to have a girlfriend. I need to read more, improve myself. What if I learned Russian or something? Or took up an instrument? I could speak Chinese. I would be the screenwriter who speaks Chinese. And plays the oboe. That would be cool. I should get my hair cut short. Stop trying to fool myself and everyone else into thinking I have a full head of hair. How pathetic is that? Just be real. Confident. Isn't that what women are attracted to? Men don't have to be attractive. But that's not true. Especially these days. Almost as much pressure on men as there is on women these days. Why should I be made to feel I have to apologise for my existence? Maybe it's my brain chemistry. Maybe that's what's wrong with me. Bad chemistry. All my problems and anxiety can be reduced to a chemical imbalance or some kind of misfiring synapses. I need to get help for that. But I'll still be ugly though. Nothing's gonna change that.


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Blood, Lust

I had a couple of errands to run before my appointment at the Blood Donor Centre yesterday morning, which is how I managed to realise ahead of time that my car, Heathcote, is kaput. So that was good. It meant I could still get to the blood bank on time using public transport. But it was also bad, as it meant I’d have to pay someone to fix Heathcote, which these days is tantamount to carrying a sign into a garage which reads ‘Bend me over and give me a good swindling’. I hate not knowing how to fix my own car. Bloody experts. They’re all such crooks. So with rage in my belly – as well as a good breakfast of eggs and bananas; it’s important to eat a good breakfast before donating – I boarded the number 3 bus to Oxford Circus just before 9am.

Now, it’s been a long time since I took a bus anywhere, as I’ve been driving for quite a few years now, and it really took me by surprise. What really amazed me was how intimate it all is. The intimacy of the whole experience, the proximity of the other human beings, many of whom – and I feel like a colossal pervert even mentioning this, but if you catch the bus yourself you’ll know it to be true – many of whom are women.

Good God in heaven. All I wanted to do was give an armful of blood, maybe save the lives of a few desperate children. But things are never that simple. Instead I was forced to bear witness to a cavalcade of young ladies, getting on the bus, getting off the bus, brushing past me with their clothes and their flesh and their smells. Obviously it wasn’t love that I felt coursing through me as we pottered through Kennington. But it felt like adoration. Or, I suppose, just lust. But just lust seems so demeaning.

No, like Charlie Kaufman in Adaptation, one of my all-time favourite movies indidentally, I was sick with adoration. I was reminded of that scene at the Orchid Show, when Charlie is trying and failing to concentrate on the orchids he must write about…

‘One looks like a school teacher. One looks like a gymnast. One looks like that girl in high school with creamy skin. One looks like a New York intellectual with whom you'd do the Sunday Times crossword puzzle in bed. One looks like a Midwestern beauty queen, One looks like Amelia. One has eyes that dance. One has eyes that contain the sadness of the world….’

That’s exactly how I felt. Exactly. One looked like a Polish waitress. One looked like a human rights lawyer. One looked like that girl on Grange Hill who had a brief career in pop. One looked like a New Cross intellectual with whom you could go to the Tate Modern and kiss passionately in the Turbine. One had eyes like a cavern under the sea in the deepest darkest dead of night. One has large hoop earrings and a saggy-faced dog in a bag.

Seriously. I snook a picture. See for yourself…

The one with the black eyes sat opposite me at one stage. She looked like Natalie Wood. Aaaaaaaaaah, Natalie Wood. Never did a human being have such an appropriate surname. God in heaven, help me…

All in all the whole trip reminded me what it was like catching the bus or train as a teenage boy, and the scourge of the PTE. The Public Transport Erection.

It also made me think about the Japanese. People point to the Japanese, with their weird cartoon erotica, their soiled knicker vending machines, their obsession with schoolgirls and their pixellated private porn parts, and they think, ‘My oh my, what an inscrutable race of smiling, damned perverts they are’, and yet, and yet…. Any race cunning enough to have commuter train simulation rooms in brothels, you have to admit, are way ahead of their time. You might find it offensive, but it taps right into a lot of men’s fantasies. And hopefully not just men’s.

Anyhow, I must confess that my journey was filled with thoughts of this nature, and by the time I arrived to give blood, most of it was lodged in my nether regions.

So it amused me greatly when I noticed that the donation centre was right next door to The Cock pub.

How I chuckled.

Inside, everyone was exceedingly lovely. (And I’ve moved on from prurient mode here. Although the lovely Gloria could pump my blood any day of the week.) (Sorry.)

First thing they have you do is fill in a form, just to make sure your blood isn’t likely dodgy. Do I have HIV? No. Do you have hepatitis B? No. C? No. Have you ever received payment for sex with money or drugs? I wish. Have you had sex in the last 12 months with any of the following: needle-wielders, chocolate startroopers or African travellers? Sigh. No, no, no.

Then they take a drop of blood from your finger to make sure you’ve got a bit of iron in your blood, then, minutes later, you’re lying on your back opening and closing your fist. Then, with a negligible amount of pain and next to no discomfort, the needle’s in your arm and the blood’s out. The whole thing took 45 minutes maximum. And it’ll be even quicker next time. Piece of cake.

Blood Fact #1: apparently, at the West End Donor Centre they have a hundred people a day opening their veins and it’s simply not enough.

Blood Fact #2: apparently only 6% of those that can give blood do.

Can you give blood? Do you?

Blood Fact #3: apparently most people don’t even consider giving blood until it directly affects their lives. So you probably won’t think about it seriously until your boyfriend or girlfriend or mother or father or one of your kids or your nephews or nieces or cousins has some horrible catastrophe befall them and survives thanks to someone else’s blood. Or maybe it’ll happen to you.

Why not pre-empt the catastrophe?

Wow. Look at how self-righteous I’ve become. This is great!

Go on, don’t be put off by Gordon Ramsay telling you that a blood transfusion saved his life. Do it.

Outside, on the way back to Oxford Circus, I was approached by a pretty young chugger. ‘How would you like to help a deaf child?’ she asked.

‘Pardon?’ I said.

I chuckled. She must get that all day.

Sweet though she was, and sympathetic though I am to deaf children, and indeed deaf people of all sizes, on this occasion I had to decline. I think one good deed is enough for one day, don’t you? Besides, I have a car to fix.

Oooh, I feel good.

Join me.

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Monday, 28 January 2008

Beauty is Skin Deep, But Stupidity Scars

This is old, but I was reminded of it earlier today and it always makes me laugh:

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The Game #3: The PUA Community – Standing at the Threshold of Greatness

On Friday night I signed up to the Venusian Arts talk forum, a place for advocates of the Mystery Method and whatnot to get together and compare notes. There are some real idiots on there frankly, and some bad eggs. But then that’s probably true of most online communities. However, I reckoned that most of them were probably decent blokes out for a few pointers and a bit of support, so in an effort to test my theory, I started a thread entitled: ‘Any advice for a freakishly ugly fat bastard?’ and I have to say, I was quite pleasantly surprised at the responses. On the whole. Here are the highlights:

'Alright, here’s the thing. I’m a really ugly bloke. Due to a combination of a slightly deformed and oversized skull, bad hair and a face full of eczema scars, I’m pretty freakishly bad looking. I’m also severely obese. I’m the kind of man that drunken girls dare each other to kiss, but then run away screaming and retching. Even so, agony though it is, I still have to put myself out here like everyone else. I have to go to parties and suffer the stares and gasps and stifled giggles. Worse still, the shifting away as I near. And on occasion I must force myself to plunge into the icy humiliation of ‘the move’. I have to talk to women, to attempt to seduce them. Painful though it is for all concerned, I have to. And it never works. So this is why I read The Game.

The thing is, my saving grace, is that I am – even if I say so myself – I am rather witty. No, I am. I’m sharp, and funny, and bright. But clever talk can only get you so far. If someone approaches you in a bar and they’re a cross between The Elephant Man and Jabba the Hutt, it really doesn’t matter what comes out of their mouth. It could be the pithiest bon mot this side of Cyrano de Bergerac, it’s still going to go down like a three-foot tongue snatching up a cockroach.

I have been knocked back over the years in some pretty cold ways. More than one woman has laughed in my face when I’ve said hello. One woman said, really quite sympathetically, ‘No, I’m sorry. I only go out with human beings.’ Another said, ‘Sorry. Look, I don’t mean to be rude, but you really are fucking ugly. I’d be sick if I had to kiss you. Sorry.’

These words stay with you by the way. They stick to your heart like poison darts and they float around in your system for the rest of your life.

So, this is why I read The Game. I was seeking guidance. Plus, somebody bought it for me for Christmas.

What I’d like to know – bearing in mind everything I’ve told you – what kind of advice would you give a guy like me? And please don’t say ‘give up’. Also, are there any openers you’d recommend for hideously ugly freaks like myself?

By the way, I’m a 30-year-old English guy living in London.'

- Scattermole

If for some reason you want to read the responses in full, you’ll have to register first. You probably don’t though. Here are the best bits, suitably bowdlerised:

‘…Wear a fancy hat to hide your head. Dress up, in general.
Make every effort to lose weight. Diet, exercise, lap banding….’

- Decibel

There’s a lot of talk of hats in the responses. Enough in fact to convince me. I am going to get a hat, and a fancy one at that.

'I'm a rather hefty gent myself but I'm working on it at weight watchers. It's funny how loosing a few pounds can make you feel great. The women at weight watchers all clap and hooray when I share how much I have lost so that is a nice ego boost. As far as the deformed head all I can recommend is going to a professional stylist and getting help. I know they can do something for you with makeup, facial hair, dermatology and hairstyle that will bump you up 3 points on the 1 to ten scale. Get your game tight! Failing all that try to find a nice blind girl. I'm not joking I've seen some hot ones! You may be ugly but those horrible things those women said to you mean they have ugly souls and they will realize this when their looks fade and people start to see who they really are.’

– Conspiracy

That makes me laugh. Not just the loosing of the pounds but the seeking of a blind girl. If only he knew how far I’ve gone to actually do that. God, I feel ashamed.

‘I got a solution:

Make YOURSELF a SEXY motherfucker. Shit. Can't look good without trying.'

- Hengman

Erm, OK. Thanks, Hengman!

This next one is without doubt the most disturbing response, but is probably also one of my favourites, just from a sheer comedy point of view:

‘look brotha i feel for ya but some of this has to be bullshit. no bullshit , when a girl says somethin like that to you either straight up punch the bitch in the face or even worse put gum in her hair and she will look like a dike with short hair and no guy would want her. ill tell ya a girls hair can decided whether shes a 5 or 10. in the mean time keep ur head up man. i feel for ya. look what scumbag , ugly motherfuckers some of the hottest chicks r dating. anyone can do it brotha especially u saying how sharp and witty u r u can land a 9 or 10. stay confident , keep ur head up and study this stuff cause it works. good luck man and im dead serious bout the gum in hair thing that can kill a girls social life and self esteem which is a win-win lmao’

- jaw_droppin

Crikey. Well, there’s always one proper psycho in every forum. I have a feeling we’ll hear about this guy one day on the news. They’ll call him the Spearmint Killer and his MO wlll be very grisly and very misogynistic. At least the community was quick to pounce on him. This was the very next response:

‘If you do as this guy says, enjoy your prison time. Punch her in the face? Put gum in her hair?! Holy fuck, on what world are you living? A girl insults you and you get physical with her. If she insults you you respond back with an insult or just ignore her, but to act like a wife-beater is no excuse….’

- Dopamine

Quite right, Dopamine. Hear hear. Thanks also to Dopamine for the heads-up on David Smith. All inspirational grist to my mountainous mill.

‘…if you are that overweight you might consider bariatric surgery for health reasons alone. You might be surprised what loosing weight can do for appearance. Plus, do the best you can with what you have. You would be surprised how much your cloths and other gear can change your appearance. Wear a hat and some radical sunglasses and stuff like that….’

- The_Sheriff

How did this guy know I wear cloths? I even have a flannel shirt comprising 24 flannels.

This next one is very interesting, and makes me realise the genuine advantages of belonging to a community:

‘Scattermole even the name you have chosen for yourself reflects a demonstration of lower value and points to some kind of self confidence issue.

Here we have all decided to make a change and create ourselves anew.

We choose names that are powerful and reflect our new found zest for life.

We are all here to encourage each other, we want you to succeed!

We don't want you to grow old with your dog or cat.

We don't want you to get really good at video games.

We don't want you to die of a heart attack while masturbating at 35.

We want you to chuckle when you are flossing and say "I cant believe I got this woman brushing her hair next to me by asking her about dental floss!"

We want people to say "How the fuck did he wind up with her?"

We already care more about you than anybody you have ever met in your life.

We want you to feel love. Love will fill that hole in your soul you are trying to fill with food.

You have never met us but we are your real friends. (So is the person who gave you "The Game" as a gift)

We have found the tools and we are willing to share them with you.

We ask only that you apply yourself and be ready for the pain. Your going to have to fight through it, it is very real and very scary!

You stand at the threshold of greatness! Envision yourself walking through the door and close it behind you!’

– Conspiracy

I think he maybe overdoes it a little suggesting that these guys care more about me than anyone else I’ve ever met – after just an hour of sharing the same virtual space - but still, it’s a nice sentiment. I can’t help but be touched by it.

‘Work out. there is no excuse for being fat and nasty.’

– Tamer

Thanks, Tamer. Tell it like it is, why don’t you.

Uh-oh. Guess who’s back:

‘i never did that too a girl but if she were to go out of her way to insult me shes gonna get the gum in her hair lmao i bet after that the bitch wouldnt do anything like that again’

– jaw_droppin

Always with the gum. Jesus. What is it with this guy and gum? Next, please.

‘Work on becoming comfortable in your own skin and with who you are. Otherwise, no amount of cosmetic surgery in the world will help as underneath it you'll still be insecure at your core.

Take some steps to improve what you can, as others have said, exercise and revise your diet/nutrition, but spend as much time as you can, learning to accept yourself as you are. If you EVER want anyone to accept you, you first need to accept yourself.

When you are comfortable in your own skin, you'll notice that people will respond to you differently. Not saying that they'll throw their panties at you, but they'll get the sense that you are grounded and don't give a shit about what others do or say to judge you based on your appearance. Lock down your Inner Game so that any/all of the improvements you make to your appearance will have a MUCH GREATER impact.’

– BangBang

Wise words, BangBang. I do feel very much like I’m on Oprah all of a sudden though.

Hat alert!

‘…just get some peacocking shit like a really cool and attractive hat….’

- Lost_Prophet

And finally:

‘dude, first off. Attitude change.

I used to be a fugly obese guy, now I always have a swarm of beautiful women in my life. Everyone can change.

First off, what you have to do. And there is no "maybe" here, if you want to turn your life around. Step 1: Diet. Do the no carb thing for a while, lots of running, treadmill, etc. Do some fat burning. Step 2: Weight lifting, not massively just enough to tone your arms and chest. YOU are a big man, your skull and facial issues make you stand out....make it work for you, be intimidating but don't be a tool.
Step 3: Find a decent looking peacocking hat.
Step 4: Tattoo, arm or even from chest up your neck. Take the focus from being strange, to being interesting. Peacock baby.
Step 5: Let a woman your age dress you up, in that style. Not a wuss, but we're talking leather jackets.’

– Cro

I have a leather jacket. But I think it’s slightly paedo. I should get another.

On the whole then, some very nice guys. Which has kind of confused me again. I had just got to the point of thinking this Game lark was a bunch of old bull, and now I’m thinking... I’m home. These guys are like family to me.

Actually, you know what? And I swear I’m not running game on you ladies here, but I’d really like to get a woman’s perspective on this. The Game, Real Social Dynamics, the science of seduction – whatever you want to call it: is it a handy tool to get a conversation going and enable relationships for awkward guys? Or is it an ugly, manipulative load of old bullshit, fuelled by loneliness, desperation and on the whole, lowdown vile misogyny?

Help me out here. You’re looking gorgeous today by the way... from behind.


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The Game #2: Respect the Cock!

I came to The Game via a reality TV show called – predictably enough - The Pick-Up Artist. A month or so ago you could watch the whole thing online. Now it’s only available to view in the States. Pffft.

Anyhow, the show was presented by Mystery, pioneer of The Mystery Method, the guy who tutored Strauss in the ways of seduction and for much of The Game came across as a petulant child, always boasting about how he should be a big star, like David Copperfield, and how he wouldn’t be happy till he lived with two beautiful bisexual women who were wildly in love with him. Yawn. Anyhow, looks like he’s on his way to making it now, unless this show constituted his 15 minutes and now he’s back to hawking ‘How to Pull’ DVDs for the rest of his life. Ugh.

So, yes, I watched the whole thing and, I have to say, I really enjoyed it. But then I’m a sucker for reality TV. There. I’ve said it. Give me a choice between Brideshead Revisited and America’s Next Top Model and I’m afraid it’s Tyra every time. Although I draw the line at Big Brother.

The premise of The Pick-Up Artist is as follows: eight gynophobic freaks who, as the saying goes, would not be able to find themselves a sex partner in a third-world bordello (even with some kind of Balm of Irresistibility smeared across their nipples and a scrotum full of rubies), are taught the secrets of the science of seduction by some of the world’s greatest pick-up artists: Mystery, Matador and McLovin’. I mean, J-Dog. They live in a house together for a couple of months, learning how to dress, how to talk smart and charming, how to kiss peaches and so on. Every week one of them is eliminated for being utterly utterly useless.

My main problem with the show was that none of the guys was actually ugly. There were a couple of slightly chubby blokes, a couple of nerds and one old one. Apart from that, they’re all normal-looking men. It would have been much more interesting to see a real car-wreck of a man transformed into a ‘ten-magnet’. Ho hum. But it was fun nonetheless.

The slimy Hispanic won.

So. Have I actually learned anything from my foray into the world of the world of Style, Mystery and Frank ‘Master of the Muffin’ Mackey?

I’m honestly not sure. The openers thing intrigues me though. This is basically having a stock-pile of lines to use when you approach someone. On the one hand, I can see that it’s really useful to have something funny or interesting to say rather than just saying, ‘Hello, what’s your name? What do you do?’ which is pretty much all I’ve ever had at my disposal. But on the other hand, the openers they recommend often smack either immense cheesiness or downright deception. There’s a bunch of examples here, including the famous ‘Fighting Girls Opener’, created by Neil Strauss. It goes like this:

PUA: Oh my God. Did you guys see the girl fight outside?

Girls: [Cut them off before they speak.]

PUA: They were fighting over this guy. I talked to him afterward. His name was Glen, That's a deal-breaker name, Glen. So they were pulling each other's hair and one of the girls' boobs pops out. Normally I'm all for seeing a ripe one, but this was a "saggy-baggy booby"... you know, from National Geographic.

[Go immediately into next routine…]

Now the point with this, as with most openers, is that when it’s finished, you do actually find yourself in conversation with a woman or women you’re interested in. The hardest part is over and you can take it from there. Presumably if they’re just standing there looking at you like you’ve just pooped on their lawn, then you probably haven’t done it right. The thing is, I can see this might work. But a lot of the openers on the site above would probably only work on really dull women. So I’ve devised a slightly darker one, for the more discerning lady, which I intend to use next time I’m in field. I’m going to go up to a saucy woman in Pret a Manger and say:

‘Hey, did you see those two old men in the street just now fighting over a dead cat? [Cut her off before she has the chance to call the police.] Yeah, it was wild, honeycow. They must have been in their 80s and they both had hold of this cat – one had the head and the other was hanging onto the back legs, pulling at it really hard they were, like it was a Tug of War, until eventually, suddenly – SNAP! – the cat’s body just came apart and its guts went flying everywhere. It was like that scene in Trainspotting when Spud’s boozy diarrhoea sprayed all over his girlfriend’s parents at the breakfast table… [Glance down at her breadless sandwich at this point suggestively.] Yeah, so think of a number between one and a thousand – make sure it’s seven.’

So that’s good. That’d work.

I’ve also picked up a few good pointers about appearance. Specifically, peacocking. Peacocking is essentially dressing to get noticed. As Mystery says, ‘try wearing at least one item of clothing curious looking enough to get people's attention’. To your left, to give you some idea of what we’re talking about, is a picture of Mystery.

Now there are some who would say he’s gone too far with the peacock thing here, that his pea has rolled under the wardrobe and he’s drifted into straightforward cock terrotory, but they would be missing the point. And the point is, attention. Gotta get the attention. When a woman comes up to you and says, ‘Why are you dressed like such a dick, dude?’, you simply reply, ‘You are attracted to me. You just came up and started talking to me. You see? By the way, did you see those two old men in the street fighting over a midget?...’ And you’re away.

Of course, you have to have the confidence to carry off a look like that. If I went around wearing goggles, frankly, I’d just look like a cross between Quasimodo and Chubby Brown.

Actually, there’s not a world of difference between Mystery himself and Chubby Brown..

God, Mystery is such a cock.

Still, gotta respect him.

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The Game #1: The Science of Seduction

So I’ve spent the last couple of weeks reading The Game, and looking into the online pick-up network which inspired it, and I find myself fascinated and repulsed in equal measure.

The Game is a ‘non-fiction’ book about how journalist Neil Strauss went from AFC to PUA, then found an LTR with an HB10.

(AFC = Average Frustrated Chump. PUA = Pick-up Artist. LTR = Long term Relationship. HB10 = Hot Babe with a high rating on the physical appearance scale. Yes, there is an awful lot of jargon in pick-up, and most of it is a little embarrassing.)

So it goes like this: after years of fearing rejection to the point of not even being able to talk to women, Strauss is commissioned to write a piece on America’s burgeoning pick-up community. Consequently he becomes immersed in this world, addicted even. He meets all of the pick-up gurus – including (allegedly) the guy on whom Tom Cruises’s character in Magnolia is based. He learns all of their tricks of the trade – their demonstrations of value, their false time constraints, their peacocking, their NLP games and traps – and basically he becomes transformed into some kind of soulless seduction machine, a kind of bald, ripped, RoboStud.

The Game, also branded by other PUAs as Real Social Dynamics, is basically an attempt to make a science out of seduction. Furthermore, naturally, it is an attempt to make a profit out of that science. The money-making aspect is important. This is not philanthropy, as many of the gurus attempt to imply. It’s business.

Here however, is the part of the book that - despite myself - hooked me:

’When we walked into the dim sum restaurant, I was shocked by what I saw waiting for me. David X was quite possibly the ugliest PUA I’d ever met… He was immense, balding, and toadlike, with warts covering his face and the voice of a hundred thousand cigarette packs.’

That was the point I thought, OK, maybe I can give this a go. Maybe it’s time I got Game.


Apparently - because the Game is all about manipulation through deception - the first thing I need is a name that is not my own. A seduction name. A pulling name. Strauss is told early on in the book, ‘It’s not lying. It’s flirting.’ It’s something he repeats to himself every now and then, usually before he tells some great big horrible lie. ‘It’s not lying,’ he says. ‘It’s flirting.’ No, it’s not, Neil. It’s lying. And you know it.

Just as I know, of course, that I’m never going to be able to do it. Certainly not to the extent that the various characters in the book do it. Not to the extent whereby the attempted seduction of a woman becomes instinct, an habitual reaction to seeing an HB in the street. (Sorry. If it’s any consolation, every time I use the expression ‘HB’, a little bit of sick gets stuck in my throat.)

However, there is definitely a lot I can learn from The Game. Most of it’s fairly obvious stuff that only a moron wouldn’t already know of course: look good, feel good, learn a few magic tricks to make yourself look good. But there’s some other stuff too, stuff about learning routines and patterns – basically all the rather dodgy neuro-linguistic programming stuff used by magicians and shysters and conmen the world over. In seduction circles, we’re talking trance words, triangular gazing, the Yes Ladder, and so on. I could use some of that.

But first, yes, a name. Ideally it has to be something that makes you cringe every time you say it. Neil Strauss for example, became Style. The guy who took him under his wing and guided him deep into the seduction community - Eric von Markovik - became Mystery. Some of the other names of main players in the community are: Vision, Papa, Herbal, Rasputin, the Matador of Love… You get the idea. I would say it’s one step above McLovin’, but I’m not so sure it is.

So. Despair? Bulk? The Matador of Cellulite? OK, OK, I’m not trying, I know. What about Presence? Seriously. I reckon I could get away with that. I can see it now…

HB10: ‘So what’s your name, big fella?’

Presence: ‘Me? They call me Presence.’

HB10: ‘Wow. You’re making me horny.’

Presence: ‘Yep. That’s what I do.'

Next step I think a little background reading. A bit of NLP, some magic tricks, a book of openers and routines maybe. Or else of course, I could just grow the fuck up and get on with my life...


Of course I’m already doing what I can to improve my physical appearance. The diet is already in full swing and going well, stomach cramps and bad breath aside. And the exercise routine is picking up. I ran twice over the weekend, and I even did about half of a home-gym workout from the execrable Men’s Health magazine.

And tomorrow, tomorrow I’m going to have a haircut.

My main concern with The Game and the whole science of pick-up thing is that a) it’s practised by morons, b) you’d have to be a sad and desperate, at least slightly misogynistic moron to even consider it, and c) the only way this would work on any women is if she happens to be a moron.

But I guess the only way to know for sure is to actually try it.

So what I need to do is actually start talking to women – in real life I mean. I should force myself to talk to as many non-virtual female strangers as possible so that I am no longer afraid of rejection. That's what Style did at the beginning.

I need to get to the point whereby when I approach a woman and open my mouth to speak, my heart isn’t beating like Lee Chapman in my chest.

The Spring then. Before or after the speed-dating, I'm going ‘in field’, I'm taking some Game-style techniques with me and I'm talking to women.

And then when I’m swimming in HB sauce, getting more ass than Beth Ditto’s knickers, I’ll have Neil Strauss to thank.

Kill me now.

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Friday, 25 January 2008

Feedback Friday: The Good, The Bad and The Bag Full of Urine

bulk :: 19st 1 (excellent. Finally I seem to making real progress. That’ll be the exercise. And the bananas.)
cigarettes :: 6 (I know, I know, I know. I’m sorry. I feel bad. Will explain and give excuses in a short while.)
alcohol units :: 19
bananas :: 17
runs :: 3
minutes run without stopping for cigarette rest :: 12
bottles of wine stolen by over-zealous airport staff :: 1
new Davids :: 3

So, my friend Keith has moved to Peckham. Ten minutes’ walk from the heart of Peckham Rye. Now, I’d always thought Peckham was the armpit of London, if not the scrotum, and for most of my life I have studiously avoided it. Indeed, the time I have spent there this week has done little to disabuse me of this, but also – despite the gobby teens, the astonishing amount of rubbish in the streets and the intoxicating, god-awful stench – it does have a certain charm of which I was hitherto unaware. Lots of fruit and veg stalls, for example, a preponderance of large African men singing religious songs in the street and yesterday I saw a steel drum trio, just playing in the street seemingly for the sheer joy of it. It’s kind of like Brixton in fact, but without the rather unpleasant drug culture and concomitant sense of impending violence. Plus, no one can deny the inherent charm in this shop sign…

Anyhow, Keith’s new house is in a little disrepair. It needs a lot of work, so for the last couple of days I’ve been helping him repaint his living room. I tried to make it into a fitness thing, applying the principles of the Mr Miyagi School of Fence Painting. So that was good.

However, speaking of unpleasant drug culture, I’m disappointed to have to confess that Keith recently purchased a large bag of stinky green. For smoking. So after an hour or two of the Miyagi Dulux Workout, the last two nights have dissolved into a predominantly workless haze of sickly sweet smoke, silly talk and giggles.

This is no bad thing of course - it was actually fantastic fun - except of course it meant that I found myself smoking tobacco for the second time in a week. Yes, as I mentioned in passing the other day, I also weakened in Istanbul and allowed a couple of low-down dirty Turks to persuade me that Turkish cigarettes are actually good for you. (If ever a Turk tries that tack with you, give him short shrift – Turkish cigarettes make Benson & Hedges taste like the elixir of life.) As a consequence of all this, I woke up this morning – cue blues riff - feeling like Death - cue clues riff - a cough like a convict - cue blues riff - and tar in my chest. So that’s bad. Very bad. But don’t worry, I don’t intend to make a habit of it. Plus I have already said a dozen Hail Marys, three Apostle's Creeds and half a handful of How's Your Fathers. So I’m sorted.

And the fact is, I don’t really feel that bad about the smoking because everything else is going so well. I’ve lost 10 pounds so far this month, and without wanting to turn into a weight bore (DAMN YOU, BRIDGET JONES!!!), I’m really really pleased about that. The running is obviously the key. It seems what they always said was true: bit of exercise, bit of fruit and veg, and suddenly everything’s coming up roses.

Except one thing. Keith told me this thing last night. He told me that for a couple of weeks now he’s had this sensation in his right hand, a little like pins and needles, and when it comes he finds it difficult use the hand. It’s been getting more and more regular and is now as frequent as every half hour or so. The fact that it’s so regular and has been around for so long worries me. A lot. I am a hypochondriac however. Keith is not. So I don’t want to infect him with my paranoia. But I am very concerned. I have convinced him to go and see someone. So, that's something. I know he’s scared, more scared than he’s making out, because he hasn’t told Patricia yet. Anyhow, fingers crossed, Keith (while you can still cross them!).

In other news…

1. I’ve just finished reading The Game and am now considering becoming a chick-a-day, finger-clicking pick-up artist. A dark little Fonzie, that’s what I’ll be. Give me a month.

I jest of course. But on a serious note, as well as being rather repugnant and an enormous cringe-fest at times, it was really rather fascinating. I intend to spend some of this weekend figuring out what I really thought.

2. I’m considering buying a lottery ticket. One a week for the rest of the year. Same numbers. What have I got to lose? Apart from £50 though, what? I know it’s lowest common denominator gambling-cum-cock tax but on the plus side, I’ve been thinking of all the wonderful things I could do with a few million quid. Selfless things too. I want to help people. The poor and the needy. I really do. In many ways, I am a latter day saint. Plus, even when you lose, it is for a good cause. Oh, God, I hate myself for even considering it. But I am…

3) If I can keep up the running and the weight loss at the same rate I managed this week, I reckon I should be down to somewhere in the region of 17 stone by April, which although by no means slender, is three stone slenderer than I was three weeks ago, and by that stage I reckon I’ll be ready to go speed dating. That’s right, speed dating. I have to give myself these hideous, terrifying goals, otherwise I’ll just stop and turn into a pork pie again. And I reckon speed dating is just the kind of baptism by fire that I need. So that’s that. It’s a decision I’ve made.

4. Give blood. Keith’s hand-spazzing and a conversation we had about how a blood transfusion saved his dad’s life – I like Keith’s dad much better than I like my own, I might add - I have decided that the least I can do is hand over some of my blood. It's the saintly thing, after all. Plus, I must have at least 12 pints of the stuff pumping through this hefty frame. I reckon I can spare an arm or two. I’m going to make an appointment.

5. Last night at Keith’s I met a workmate of his, a bloke called David. In the course of a (rather stoned) conversation, David told me about two other Davids I’d never heard of, both of whom were – in many ways – even better than the first David. These Davids were a) David Sedaris, and b) David Shrigley. Excellent Davids all.

That David Sedaris clip is really lovely. And just in case you were in any doubt – as I was – it actually exists.

Ooh, and one for the ladies too.

That’s nice.

Oh, and they do other equally tasteful products.

Jesus God, look at this: ‘Since 9-11 security has become a little tighter at sporting events. No longer can you sneak in your six pack of tall boys in a gutted out boom box. “The Beerbelly” saves the day.’

Wow. No matter how fat, ugly and sexless I may be, at least I will never ever be sad enough to either a) wear a Beerbelly, or b) use a terrorist atrocity to help me market one.

Now, time for my run.

So long.

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Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Air Rage

So I’m just back from a couple of days in Istanbul. And they were great days, believe you me. Super days. Crazy days. Ever so slightly smoky days. (DAMN YOU, ALEV!!!) I loved the city, and my hostess could not have been more charming and hospitable without seriously jeopardising her marriage. However, two things marred the trip.

One was the flight out there.

The other was the flight back.

So it was with this in mind that I have spent the last few hours working on this relatively cathartic blog post. It’s not going to help me find a lady, probably, but it will hopefully help lower my blood pressure.

This has been building up for some time I might add. It hasn’t just been inspired by the flights to and from Turkey. In fact, if I’m honest, most of my gripes come from flights I’ve taken over the last couple of years. Ryanair flights. I loathe Ryanair. But they’re far from the only evil at work in the air travel industry. OK. So, in no particular order…

The 20 Most Annoying Things About Air Travel


Why is it that the vast majority of the people employed by airlines and airports are some of the rudest, most sour-faced, supercilious and generally inhuman, humourless swine you’re ever likely to meet? Particularly those, I might add, who work in security.

These people are the first or the last people you see before you enter or leave a country – as such surely it should be drummed into them as part of their training that they are ambassadors for an entire nation, and that their country’s reputation is in their hands. Instead of making their country proud of them, most of these people (not all, but the vast majority) merely make the rest of the world despise both them and the soulless hellhole they represent.

Just be nice for God’s sake! I know it’s not easy working in the service industry, especially in security in this day and age. I know you have to deal with some awful, aggressive, miserable wretches. But we’re not all like that. Please don’t talk to me like I’ve got bombs buried in my cheeks. And if I smile at you, the least you could do is smile back. (Oh, and if you are going to smile back, please make it convincing. An obviously false smile is even worse than a scowl.)


If there is some kind of technical fault on London Underground – such as a signal failure, for example – and you have to wait for more than 15 minutes for a tube, TfL are obliged to compensate.

Airlines on the other hand are allowed to be up to five hours late before they are obliged – on request – to give you your money back. Of course, people tend to put up with hideous delays because it’s not like you can just leave the airport and order a taxi to Cuba. So as a general rule, secure in the knowledge that you’re pretty much screwed without them, airlines don’t give a damn about you, and they have no qualms about making it crystal clear that they hold you in utter contempt.


I don’t know if Ryanair are the worst at this, but they probably are. They’re worst at a lot of things. And the charges speak for themselves. Even if you have no bags to check in, but you choose to check in physically as opposed to online, they’ll charge you £4. Just for the pleasure of queuing up for an hour and being scowled at. If on the other hand you have one bag to check in, which I’ve always assumed was every traveller’s inalienable right, and free to boot, Ryanair will charge you £14. Two bags, £34. And so on.



Ryanair and EasyJet are the main culprits here I think, and it’s a rare flight indeed that doesn’t include an exhortation to gamble like a prole. But it’s not the fact that they big up the charity angle so proudly and then keep 99% of the profits for themselves that bothers me. After all, budget airlines have to make their money back somehow and pretending to care about children with cancer is as good a way as any. What really bothers me is the assumption that all of their passengers are braindead baying dolts who can’t get over the channel without suffering Idiot Tax withdrawal symptoms.

If you want to encourage me to donate to charity, offer me something slightly more sophisticated. I’d be much more likely to buy an enamel ribbon for instance, or a garish key fob, than a scratchcard. Still not bloody likely incidentally, but still, probably less offended. Offering me scratchcards is like patting me on the head with a copy of The Sun. Oh, and once on a Ryanair flight, they were selling some Crazy Frog merchandise and they had the nerve to play that dreadful music over the tannoy. I nearly imploded. Ryanair: we are not morons!


Actually some of us are morons, and a great many of those of us that are seem to congregate on budget aircraft these days. And one of the main problems with morons is that they have no idea how to raise their children. So, whilst you're up there, thousands of feet up in the air, desperately trying and failing to flee consciousness, it isn't uncommon to find yourself being kicked violently in the back or slapped violently about the head and neck with a pair of sticky hands. In fact, it's really quite common. And it's very, very annoying.

Of course, it’s not the kids’ fault. They are after all - in many important ways - not yet real human beings. It’s the parents’ fault. For they are morons. And because of these morons, there seem to be at least half a dozen spoilt hyperactive brats on every plane. (Incidentally, all children on planes are - by dint of being up in the air and not up a chimney - spoilt.)

Once onboard, these brats are allowed to run around making a hideous amount of noise and, worst of all, they are allowed to stand - and jump up and down no less - on their chairs. What is it with parents who allow their children to STAND ON THEIR CHAIRS on a plane? Or indeed anywhere.

I reckon, every time a child stands up on an aeroplane seat, their parent or guardian should be tasered. Spare the taser, spoil the child, that’s what I say. Believe me, today they’re jumping up and down on aeroplane seats, tomorrow they’re trepanning old ladies with platinum dildos.

Frankly - I don’t want to be draconian about it - but until I have children of my own, I decree that all children under the age of 15 should not be allowed within five kilometres of any airport.


I’m still not convinced that these so-called ‘liquid bombers’ ever actually existed. Was anyone actually charged with a crime? I mean, come on, a bomb in a bottle of fizzy pop? The very idea. In fact, the more the War on Terror continues – no matter what it’s called – the less I believe anything I’m told. Which is fine in a way, because governments are self-serving fiends who lie pathologically in order to follow their own agendas, and I would expect nothing less of them. But when that means that I have to sacrifice fine liquor… actually I’ll come to that in a moment, but for now, the most infuriating thing about the liquid ban for me is that it is ILLOGICAL.

(I'm using A LOT OF CAPITALS TODAY, aren't I?) (Cool.)

At Heathrow airport a mother is allowed to take a bottle of baby milk on board, but only on condition that she tastes the milk to prove that it contains no nitroglycerine, acetone peroxide triacetone triperoxide or whatever. So, my question is, why on earth can’t I taste-test my water in front of a security officer? Having said that, why aren’t other people allowed to take a swig of their contact lens solutions or their bottles of perfume? If it’s simply a case of proving liquid isn’t dangerous, then they should let us do that.



I went to France last summer and I took a couple of bottles of wine onto the plane in my hand baggage. No problem. They were unopened, clearly corked and foiled. Yet two days ago in Istanbul I had to throw away a bloody fantastic bottle of wine which was bought for me as a gift. Again, it was unopened, clearly corked and foiled. So what was the difference? Am I more likely to blow up a flight from Istanbul than I am a flight from Toulouse? Well, I am now, I can promise you that.

Oh, and before the surly bastard responsible made me ‘throw it in the trash’, I was asked if I had a receipt. Apparently that would have made a difference. Like terrorists are not given receipts for the wine they buy and fill with explosives. Pfffft. What a lot of balls.


‘I’m sorry, sir, you can’t take that unopened bottle of wine that was an expensive gift from a friend,’ says the security screening man. ‘Even though it has plainly not been tampered with since it left the factory, you must either go back to check-in and somehow attempt to get it in the hold of the plane where it will be destroyed by reckless baggage handlers, or you could just throw it in that bin there, from where it will later be sneaked away and enjoyed by myself or one of my colleagues. But don’t worry, sir, a mere 30 feet away when we finally let you in, you can purchase an identical bottle at a small discount.’

(When this kind of thing can happen legally, as far as I’m concerned the terrorists have won. Really. Even the occasional plane going down was better than this.)

What’s worse still of course, is the fact that, because you’re not allowed to taste-test your water or soft drinks, you then have to buy more refreshment from a shop or vending machine in the departure lounge, or of course at a vastly inflated price on board the plane.

Who exactly is profiting from this so-called terrorist threat? Why, we are, answers the Good Citizen. For if it weren’t for these heightened security measures, then Great Britain would be vulnerable, playing right into the hands of the rapacious terrorist Hun. Hmmm. The soft drinks companies do pretty well out of it too though, don’t they?

And as if that weren’t enough, I noticed in Luton Airport the other day that just before trial by security screening, there is a sparkly new vending machine selling small plastic bags in which you can store any liquids you might have that amount to less than 100 ml. These bags used to be free. Now they cost £1 for four.

If ever something made me want to bomb an airport, it was that vending machine.


OK, so let’s say that the mythical Liquid Bomb actually exists. Assuming it does, I have a couple of questions.

a) If I can put enough nitroglycerine or acetone peroxide triacetone triperoxide or whatever in a 200 ml bottle to blow a hole in a plane, why can’t I get enough in a 100 ml bottle to blow a slightly smaller hole (about 50% smaller) in the same plane?

b) If Science can answer that first question suitably and a 100 ml bottle simply cannot contain enough explosive material to bring down a plane, then why on earth do we need to put our tiny bottles in pointless plastic bags? Surely if a liquid is dangerous, we need to keep it off the plane. If it’s safe, what’s the point of putting it in a tiny plastic bag? Is that going to save us? I don’t think so. There’s a reason armour is made out of steel or Kevlar, and there's a reason it's not made of polythene.

Am I missing something here? Or is the tiny plastic bag thing all complete nonsense?


How difficult is it to microwave a sandwich so that the contents are hot all the way through, but not so hot that they can burn a hole in human flesh? Well, at Food Village in Luton Airport, the answer is ‘far, far, far too difficult’. But at least when it was piping hot, the astronomical temperature masked the unpleasantness of the taste. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the smoothie I bought from their fridge was effervescing. It was very depressing. Still, it was better than most inflight comestibles, which quite frankly, and generally speaking, are enough to have a chap with a sensitive stomach reaching for the sick bag.

Still, airport and airline food may be unspeakably awful, but at least it isn’t disgustingly expensive. Oh... wait. It is!


It really annoys me that I’m not allowed to go to the toilet when the ‘fasten your seatbelt’ sign has been illuminated. It wouldn’t annoy me, I swear, if it applied to everyone. And that includes the cabin crew. But when they’re walking backwards and forwards trying to remember what they’re supposed to be doing, practising their vacuous, contemptible smiles and completely ignoring that spoilt little shit jumping up and down in its seat, why the hell am I not allowed to nip to the loo before I soil myself? I PAID FOR MY FLIGHT! THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT! LET MY URINE GO!!!

Alright, this is a bit of a flimsy one maybe. It’s obviously for my own safety that I must stay in my seat in severe discomfort, and cabin crew are trained professionals, and it’s part of their job to stay on their feet at all times, even in the event of an illuminated sign. But for God’s sake, a little compassion. I didn’t even have a bottle I could pee into. Oh, the inhumanity.


In these days of budget flights, it’s not unusual for it to be more expensive to get to the airport – which is often no more than an hour away – than it is to actually get to your destination country (excluding tax of course). The Stansted Express for example, will charge you £15 to get from Liverpool Street to Stansted, a journey of approximately 45 minutes. This is pretty much par for the course too. Bastards. Generally speaking, setting up a service which specialises in ferrying people to and from an airport is basically giving yourself a licence to steal.


Or in other words, being instructed to keep your window blind open during take-off and landing. I once asked a member of the cabin crew why that was and was informed it was so that I would notice if a fire broke out on the wing. Thing is, if a fire breaks out on the wing, I’m not sure I want to notice. If I’m going to die on an aeroplane, I’d really rather not know anything about it till I wake up in Heaven being pleasured by Vivien Leigh and Charlotte Bronte.


If you want to use the internet before you catch your plane in Luton Airport, it will cost you £1 for ten minutes. Or, if you prefer, £6 an hour. Courtesy of BT Openzone. Thanks, BT! At least if you’re mugged in the street, you’ve got a story to tell your friends.

15. GERMS.

Some say you’re no more likely to be struck down by illness in an aeroplane than you are crossing the road. I don’t believe them. Maybe it’s the low barometric pressure and oxygen content in the air cabin. Maybe it’s the humidity. Maybe it’s the engine fumes. Maybe it’s the vile children jumping up and down on their seats and coughing their vileness all over you WITHOUT COVERING THEIR MOUTHS! Heck, maybe it’s the stress. Whatever it is, I never seem to be able to take a trip on a plane without at the very least contracting meningitis.


It was one of my first times up in an aeroplane. We were coming in to land in Berlin, and there was that delicious unspoken anticipation of death, followed by the screech of the wheels on the runway, a bounce or two, then the thud and whoosh of the plane readjusting to terra firma and slowing itself down. And that’s when it happened. The passengers suddenly burst into applause. Slowly, unsure of the protocol, I joined in.

Of course it’s not just Germans. Sorry about that. And it doesn’t always happen. But when it does, I consider it poor form. Air travel is safer than crossing a road, we are constantly told. Yet you don’t applaud a bus driver every time he negotiates a pedestrian crossing without mowing someone down.

Actually I think what really annoys me about it is that it’s the last thing I feel like doing is applauding a group of people who’ve just pissed me off in so very many ways.


What really annoys me about this is not that I have to turn off my phone because leaving it on might interfere with the workings of this giant steel bird that is about to carry me five miles into the air, but rather that LOTS OF OTHER PEOPLE DON’T! What is wrong with these dolts that they assume they can just ignore specific instructions which, unlike all that nonsense about wine bombs, are clearly there to ensure that we don’t fly into the nearest mountain or telephone mast?

Nearly every flight I’m on I see someone who refuses to heed the warning and just sits there messaging or playing snake like butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths. If they’re sitting next to me, I will generally say something. I’ve done it twice now. The first time, this girl just smirked at me like I was an idiot. The second time, this woman actually refused. Scowled at me and said no, she needed to receive messages. I felt like a bit of a telltale tit but I actually told the stewardess. The stewardess made her turn it off. Then I had to sit there for two hours with this crazy woman staring at me with nothing but pure hatred in her eyes.

I guess that people don’t turn off their phones because they think it doesn’t actually make any difference. Well, take heed, you smirking bastards!

OK, that’s my opinion. My friend Keith meanwhile, says this: ‘You absolute fucking sap. It’s just crowd control. Do you honestly think they would allow mobile phones onboard at all if there was any chance whatsoever they could interfere with the flight? Next thing you’ll be telling me that you believe in TV detector vans. People like you are the reason people like Gillian McKeith are on TV.’

Keith has been a bit narky lately. He also has a bit of a bee in his bonnet about Gillian McKeith.

But after he put his case, I think he may have a point about mobile phones.

On the other hand, he may not.

Either way, it's equally annoying.


I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about being five miles up in the air and moving at 500 miles an hour that kind of freaks me out. It ain’t natural, I tell ya. And if you’re involved in a car or train accident, the chances of survival are quite high, but if anything goes wrong up there in the sky, that’s pretty much it. This is why turbulence makes my palms sweat. It just sounds so much like the end of the world.

Jesus. Air travel is mental. Why would anyone do it?


Imagine the scene: you’re enjoying a beautiful summer’s day in an idyllic glade, maybe in the Lake District. All is balmy calm and pastoral perfection – maybe you’re about to feel the soft lips of a long lost loved one on your own, maybe you’re reading the bible, when suddenly, tttthhhhhhhwwwwp. You’re pinned to the turf by a spear of frozen urine from an overhead toilet facility.

Chris Morris was obsessed by it. And rightly so. Because it happens. And when it does happen, I can only assume, it must be terribly, terribly annoying.


For some this would be the most annoying thing about air travel. For me, it doesn’t really come close to losing that bottle of wine.

Although die-hard anti-environmentalists will deny it till their cataracts are dripping down their melanoma, air travel clearly does have a very bad effect on our ecosystem. If you’re one of those Kyoto pooh-pooh-niks, do me this favour: catch a snow-white turtle dove, pop it in a cage and leave it on Heathrow runway for a week. Then we’ll talk.

The most annoying thing however, is this: if I wanted to travel to Newcastle let’s say, at the beginning of February, I would have to pay £154.50 if I wanted to leave less of a carbon footprint and travel by train, or I could choose to fly with EasyJet and pay a total of £36.98.

If I can get there an hour or two quicker and for a quarter of the price, where’s the incentive? As far as I can see, the message here is, balls to the environment.

If Stelios and O’Leary had their way, we would all be catching planes to go to the shops.


Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaand relax.

On the whole, there is certainly much to loathe about air travel, and for the sake of our children, and our children’s children, it should almost certainly be banned outright. But it does get you to where you want to go pretty darn quickly, even taking all of the delays and the waits and the checks into consideration. And you know, time is money.

And it does enable you to see the world, whilst at exactly the same time contributing to its extinction.

Ultimately however, I guess what annoys me more than anything else about air travel is that I simply can’t afford to do it in style. One day I will though. As God is my witness, one day I’ll fly first class, and then, if it’s as great as the rich swine that can afford it make it sound, the only annoying thing will be that it all has to end.

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Friday, 18 January 2008

La Belle et La Bête #2: The Hooker With The Big Old Heart

I'm really rather touched. I just wandered over to Belle de Jour to see what she's up to, and there in her latest post is a little message to me. She mentions a few things that are going on in her life at the moment, and rates them as the good, the bad and the ugly. And I'll be damned if I'm not in there at number three:

The ugly: Actually, darlings, everything is beautiful. Including you. Especially you. Have you lost weight?

That's so sweet. It's made me feel all warm. Awww. Of course a link would have been even better, but still, I bet she's wonderful in bed. I wonder if I should start seeing a prostitute. I think perhaps I should. I mean, I've thought of it before, obviously. But never really seriously. And I'm not sure why. All I'd have to is find a nice, intelligent, compassionate one - like Belle (who now has the added bonus of being embodied by the delightfully goblinesque Billie Piper in my mind), and I'd be away. In fact, as soon as I'm back from Istanbul, I think it's time to do some research.

Thanks, Belle!


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Blogger Mortis

I was replying to a comment this morning about my intention to post on this blog at least once a week, and was reminded of it again this afternoon, as I spent far too much time pootling around the internet looking for things that I used to like, noticing as I did so that some of them don't exist anymore. At least not as live, regularly updated entities. This is something that you see happen a lot. The enthusiasm wanes and a week's hiatus turns to a month's hiatus. Pretty soon, blogger mortis has set in - or 'blogor mortis' for the purists - and the only posts are those that begin, 'Sorry I haven't blogged for ages. It's just that I've been so busy...' It's rather sad when it happens. It makes me blue.

Something that made me very happy however, was to return to a website I despise this afternoon, and see that it has died a horrible death, within a month of being born.

So that's good.

What's less good is this and indeed this. It'd be tempting to go along, just to see what he was like in the flesh, but it'd feel a little bit too much like watching Hitler in the early 20s. I think I'll give him a miss. And is it so wrong to hope someone shoots him? Oh God, I can't hope for that really, because it is wrong, and I don't. But I hope he has a moment of clarity in the Orchard Theatre in Dartford, and shoots himself.

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Is It Because I Is Ugly?

I met up with Ange again a couple of days ago. I told her I’m keeping a blog, but wouldn’t tell her what it was called. The reason I wouldn’t tell her what it was called was because I feel really shy about it. And I haven’t really got anywhere yet. It just feels a bit half-arsed. Plus, if I’m honest, I’m starting to really like Ange. More perhaps than is healthy for our burgeoning friendship. So I’m trying to keep some distance. Plus, I think I just feel a bit ashamed. I kind of hate blogs.

Now of course I'll be even less likely to tell her about it, not only because I've just confessed to fancying her (and by extension, pleasuring myself to thoughts of her), but also, because I'm just about to call her a racist. Repeatedly.

So. Wednesday night it was, she cooked me healthy food and we drank wine at her place. Which was very nice. During which, the conversation turned to sex again, as conversations often do. She couldn’t believe I’ve only slept with two people. I couldn’t believe she’d slept with over 50.

‘It must be worse to have slept with two than with none at all,’ she said, sensitively. ‘Because you know what you’re missing, don’t you?’

‘Hmm, yes. That’s very true,' I replied. 'Thanks for ramming that home.’

‘But how do you cope with the frustration?’ she wanted to know.

‘What makes you think I cope with it?’ I replied. Then: ‘I have a very active fantasy life. And I’m a highly skilled masturbator. And if my imagination is waning, I also happen to be a dab hand at the internet. There is no pornographic permutation I can’t search and squeeze one out to within a matter of minutes. Not that I’m comparing masturbation with sex of course… Well, I suppose I am, but only very unfavourably. Have you seen a film called Last Night?’ I asked. She hadn’t. Probably neither have you. It didn’t do a lot of business.

In a nutshell, it’s about the last night of human existence: everyone knows it’s coming and the film is about how they all prepare for it. One character makes a list of all the different types of people he’d like to have sex with before he dies. A black woman, a virgin, his high school French teacher, a man. And using various means, he attempts to complete his sexual to-do list before the world ends. I explained this to Ange and then explained that I’d done something similar, but with masturbation.

I should add at this point that I’m not proud of any of this. But it’s all part of what it is living a life unloved, and for the most part unlovable. I’m sure I can’t be alone in being alone to such an unpalatable extent. Can I? Oh, well. Even if I am, I beg you to bear with me. I am getting to the point very soon. Probably.

So, on the back of this conversation, Ange tells me that she would never sleep with a black man. Naturally, I call her a racist. She denies it. ‘I just don’t find them attractive,’ she says.

‘But that’s idiotic,’ I say. ‘It’s like saying, “I don’t find Taureans attractive” or “I don’t find lawyers attractive”. There are as many different types of black men, as many different black “looks”, as there are fish in the sea.’

‘I don’t fancy fish either,’ she said.

‘Fair enough. But to say you don’t fancy black men is like saying you don’t fancy freshwater fish, or you don’t fancy flounders, whereas other fish you’re fine with. In other words, racism.’

‘I can’t believe you’re calling me racist,’ she says at this point, seemingly on the verge of becoming quite upset.

‘I can’t believe you’re being so openly racist!’ I cry. ‘OK, let’s calm down here,’ I suggest, more to myself than to Ange. I pour some wine. I drink some wine. ‘What would you think,’ I said, ‘if a black man said that he refused to sleep with white women, that he just didn’t fancy white women?’

She paused, as if to suggest – at least as far as I read it – that she was about to lie. Then she lied. ‘I’d think it was fine,’ she said. ‘It’s personal taste innit.’

‘Hmmm,’ I said. ‘Well, it seems to me it’s personal taste informed by personal prejudice. OK, let me try another tack. Tell me – honestly now – don’t you fancy Denzil Washington?’

‘No, I don’t,’ she replied, scowling racistly as she did so.

‘OK, what about Kanye West?’


‘Right then. What about Thierry Henri?’ I was feeling confident. Every woman I’ve ever met can’t help drooling over Thierry Henri.

‘Nope. Look, I’m sorry, Stan. I just don’t fancy black blokes.’

I sighed. I didn’t believe a word of it. But I felt that to call her a liar as well as a racist might be verging on the offensive.

‘OK,’ I said. ‘When you go on holiday, do you like to sunbathe?’ I could tell she did. She has sunbed skin.

‘Yes,’ she said, ‘and I can see where you’re going with this.’

‘Good,’ I said. ‘That’ll give you time to come up with a decent answer. Have you ever been to bed with a white bloke with a deep tan?’

‘Yes,’ she said. ‘I really fancy white blokes with tans.’

‘Well, what’s the bleeding difference?!’ My exasperation was beginning to flow over.

‘OK, OK,’ she said. ‘I’ll tell you what it is.’

‘You’re racist?’ I offered.

‘No,’ she said. ‘And I really wish you’d stop saying that.’

I apologised. Sincerely.

‘Have you got a type?’ she asked. ‘What’s your type?’

I started to shrug. ‘I really don’t think I do have a type,’ I replied. ‘I’m incredibly unfussy.’

‘You must have a preference,’ she said. ‘In your head. An ideal.’

I shook my head. ‘Conscious?’ I offered. ‘But really, I’d take whatever I could get.’

‘OK, well you’re probably a special case. Most other people – let’s call them “normal people” – they have a type. My type is tall, muscular white men, with thin noses and large, square chins. What I don’t like however, are African men. And this is probably going to make me sound more racist than ever, but what I don’t like about them are their physical features. I don’t like their thick lips. I don’t like their wide noses and flaring nostrils. I like blue eyes. I like thin lips and noses. I like hair I can run my fingers through. I don’t like short, wiry black hair. And I don’t like dreadlocks. You know? I like pale ginger blokes. And I know a lot of people don’t. Loads of people don’t fancy gingers. Are they racist? I don’t think so. It’s personal preference.’ She paused, then added, ‘For fuck’s sake’.

I laughed. She had worked herself up into quite a little froth. But I was also scheming. ‘I’m pale,’ I said. ‘And certainly ginger-ish.’

‘Yeah, but you’ve got a face like a bag of elbows,’ she said. ‘And you’re too fat.’

‘Fucking racist.’

She laughed.

‘No, but seriously,’ I said. ‘This personal preference thing. It’s tantamount to prejudice.’

‘Oh, God…’

‘OK, OK.’

We changed the subject. But I still can’t help feeling that not fancying black people is racist. Just as not fancying white people, or not fancying Indians, or Japanese people, or Arabs would be racist. Actually, maybe not Arabs. Nobody fancies Arabs.

I jest, I jest.

But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the reason it rankles so much is something to do with my looking for excuses for the fact that I am not attractive. If I can label Ange racist for not fancying black fellas, I can label everyone else racist for not fancying me. And maybe that’ll make me feel better in some way.

It does, in fact. If I think that every woman who’s ever looked at me with disgust is prejudiced – prejudiced against ugly people, prejudiced against fat people, prejudiced against me – then that makes me feel better.

I, in turn, am prejudiced against anyone who’s ever been on Big Brother, all Scientologists, anyone who supports a football team, anyone who regularly takes cocaine, pathological liars, cheats, racists and Helen Fielding.

And so it goes.

Normal service resumed next week. Any thoughts in the meantime gratefully received.

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Wednesday Weigh-In

Oops, bit late this week. More like the Friday Feedback. Actually I prefer that. Super.

Suffice to say, my weight has started to fluctuate wildly. It seems to go up and down – like the undergarments of a particularly eye-catching prostitute – depending on what I’ve been eating. I can’t understand it. Yesterday I ate nothing but carrots, peas, apples, bananas and wine, and today I’m five pounds lighter than I was yesterday morning. I suppose the idea is to continue with that, and maybe cut out the wine. OK, damn it, I’ll try.

bulk :: 19st 6
cigarettes :: 0
packets of Nicorette :: 0
alcohol units :: 25
exercise achieved :: walked approximately 10km
ladies bewitched by purple prose :: 3
ladies bewitched in real life :: 0

In general, I’m pleased with the cigarettes thing. That appears to be getting easier. So much so that I’ve even stopped with the nicotine gum. Carrots are a good substitute, I’m finding. The really good news however, is that my coccyx is almost totally cured now. So later on today, I will go for the first of my regular three weekly runs. I’m going to take it nice and easy at first, especially as I don’t want to be crippled this weekend, for this weekend I'm flying to Istanbul to see a friend. More of a colleague really. But someone I've done some word whoring for and got on very well with. I’m really looking forward to it, apart from the plane travel, and the not being able to eat hundreds of chicken kebaps.

Wish me well.

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