Friday, 28 November 2008

Feedback Friday :: Ichbaaaaaa

bulk :: 15st 9
gym visits :: 3

I am too fat to blog.


Also, I’m working too hard. For the government. I’m a government man.

Also, I’m trying to sort out things for the move well in advance and yet still I’m being provoked to impotent fury by the criminals that are Virgin Media. I’m not going to take this lying down, you fuckers.

Also, I am mourning the loss of my coat, which I left in a taxi on Wednesday night. £200, gone in the winking of an eye. Of course I’ve reported the coat as lost and they said they’re looking into it, but really, what are the chances? Bah. Serves me right for trying to impress Morag by splurging on a taxi.

Also, I’m going to Brighton for a few days and I need to prepare myself.

Also, my stomach is still hurting and I have a pain in my left testicle.

Also, everything is just too weird at the moment. Honestly. Life is too weird.

So tell me, what are you up to this weekend? I like it when you tell me. It makes me feel somehow connected to the rest of the world. Also, it’s like a snapshot of the whole cockeyed carnival that is life. I like it.

I’m going to Brighton and I’m going to meet some of Morag’s friends.

That'll be fun.

Or hideous.

I'm nervous.


What about you? Anything nice?

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Monday, 24 November 2008


This morning I was awoken at 5.40 by the bloke upstairs, whom I do not know more than to nod at in passing. He was playing music. I suppose I should be grateful that it was classical music and not Slipknot or Slayer, and indeed I am. But not much. I think it was Bach, but I’m not sure. Lots of organs. Very brooding. And very, very loud.

I got out of bed, quite calmly, and I located the corner of the room where I keep all of the long things: the poster tubes, the discarded barbell, the golf flag (don’t ask). And I located the metre-long iron pole. I don’t know where this came from, and I don’t know why I refuse to throw it away every time I move – or at least I didn’t know until about half an hour ago, when I realised that I’d been keeping it for this occasion. Carefully I lifted the flat end of the iron pole up to the ceiling, then firmly I gave four stout raps. Something gave. Then I remembered that this flat has polystyrene tiles on the ceiling. White flammable powder fell onto my face. The music however, was swiftly turned down. Then up again. Not to the same volume – nowhere near in fact, but still loud enough to irritate me.

I got back into bed. I couldn’t sleep. Jesus. Who the hell listens to organ music in the middle of the night? I got out of bed, pulled on a tee-shirt, left my bedroom and opened the front door. I put the latch on, left the flat and climbed the fire escape stairs. I knocked on my neighbour’s front door. Nothing. I knocked again. Still nothing. I came back downstairs.

I had not been locked out. Thank you, Jesus.

Five minutes later I got back out of bed and came to the other room. I’ve got work to do. The government job I mentioned before starts today. So I made an early start. At my desk my 6.

I hate noisy neighbours. They’re so difficult to cope with. From the stomping and the door-slamming to the shouting and the music late at night. And not knowing what to do is the worst of it. Shall I bang on the ceiling or is that what yahoos do? Shall I go up and knock or will I be stabbed? Shall I just put up with it? Am I being unreasonable? Shall I poison them?

I was born to live in a detached house, surrounded by fir trees and quietly weeping willows.

Thank God I’m moving out.

So tell me, what’s your worst experience with a noisy neighbour?

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Friday, 21 November 2008

Feedback Friday :: Balance

bulk :: ?
glad factor :: 8
sad factor :: 2

I confess, I’ve fallen off the health wagon ever so slightly. But that’s OK, you know? It’s allowed. And I’m tackling it. I’ve wiped the crumbs from a thousand chocolate Hob Nobs off of my tee shirt and trousers, my face, my laptop, the walls, the ceiling – I’m like Cookie Monster when I get going, Cookie Monster fending off two Tasmanian Devils. And I’m putting on my smelly old trainers as we speak.

This is the first time in a year I’ve refused to get on the scales. Actually, that’s not true. I did get on the scales, but I didn’t activate the digital readout first, so all I got was the backwards ‘E’. For Doofus. Then, rather than doing it right, I got off and walked away. Walked? Who am I kidding. I ran away. The thing is, I know I’ve put on a bit of weight over the last week. When you weigh yourself a lot, you can feel it, you can sense it as you settle on the scales, you can speak your own weight, to the pound, before the machine tells you. And although all I got was a backwards ‘E’, I knew I’d put on quite a few pounds over the last two weeks.

Actually, I knew even before I set foot on the scales. I knew because I’ve been eating like a scabby horse that’s just escaped from between two mattresses, and I haven’t been to the gym for a week. I’ve been eating out at restaurants a fair bit too, even on my own. I really like eating out on my own. It feels like a really special thing to do. A glorious treat. It feels like a celebration. And I am celebrating at the moment. It’s important to celebrate. Good times don’t come along often enough to let them pass unmarked. So I’ve been squirreling myself away in restaurants and cafés, just me, a book and a three course meal. Maybe a bottle of wine if I really want to celebrate. And a jar of pickled eggs. No, sorry, I’m being silly now. But you know what? That’s OK too. It’s OK to be silly. It may even be important to be silly. In fact, I’m convinced it is. But it’s also important to be serious. Balance. That’s what it’s all about. But also extremes. And at the moment, I feel good. Extremely good. I feel full of magic beans. I feel defiant. Stalker, stalk this.

Some people think that eating out alone is a bit sad. Like going to the cinema alone (which I also enjoy). I don’t feel that way. I think it’s the opposite of sad. I think it’s one of the most joyful, life-affirming, exultant things a human being can do. But then, on the whole, I rather enjoy spending time on my own. I’m a people person for sure, but I’m also a bit of a loner. I’d like to say I’m actually quite a private person, but I think a blog is probably not the best place to say that. But with my time, and sometimes with my space, I’m discriminative. And I find there are few people who really come close to me when it comes to pleasant and comfortable, if not always scintillating, company. Occasionally scintillating though.

Having said all that, I must now say, that now is the time for the celebration to end and life in earnest to begin again. So I’m off to the gym. And then I’m going to the shop to buy some greens.

Aside :: Every time I go to the gym I think of Douglas Adams.

Other news: I’ve come to an arrangement with Keith’s landlord. I’ve paid the rent and I’m going to get the place professionally cleaned, then I’ll hopefully be able to collect Keith’s deposit. I may even deign to offer a part of that back to Keith. But then again I may not. We’ll see.

Then, on Saturday 13 December, I will move into my new home. What makes this remarkable is that one year ago to the day – by which I mean Saturday 15 December 2007 – was the day I started this blog.

Awwww. I like symmetry a great deal.

And I like the fact that I’ll be spending Christmas in North London.

That’s nice.

Now, gym.


So tell me, what do you enjoy doing alone?

And also, what you up to this weekend?

Me? I’m entertaining.

Have fun!

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Thursday, 20 November 2008

Dear John...

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I’d written to thelondonpaper in the hope of becoming their ‘columnist of the day’. Arrogantly, I must say, I thought inclusion would be a cinch. Turns out not so, for I sent 400 nuggets of absolute solid gold to them, and they didn’t even have the decency to laugh in my face. I mean, I know that – particularly with this feature – thelondonpaper tends to specialise in badly-written, horrifically uninteresting ichbaaaaaa, but I assumed that this was because no one who could actually write well ever sent anything in. Not so turns out. They actually like that shit.

So anyway, the bit I wrote was in response to this guy, who can’t get a woman for the simple reason that he’s got no personality to speak of. However, instead of taking time to work on the whole personality thing, which can be tricky, he stumped up and got himself a whore. The response to John’s column was fairly staggering. It was overwhelmingly positive. Every time I picked up the paper for the rest of that week, readers were either crawling up John’s cockstand to sympathise with his plight, or else moved to exhaustion, weeping at the base of his stem.

Just in case you don’t follow the link - and please, you really shouldn’t – here is perhaps the most ludicrous excerpt:

In today’s world of celebrity, even the plainest of women want a Frank Lampard or a George Clooney. The worst thing is they are prepared to put up with anything to get them and keep them. I’ve lost count of the conversations I’ve heard between women complaining of inconsiderate, rude, thoughtless, cheating and lying boyfriends. I stand there thinking, “I wouldn’t have forgotten your birthday. I wouldn’t have carried on watching Match of the Day when you had something important to say. I wouldn’t have chatted up that girl at the bar.” But it’s all worthless because five minutes later the boyfriend arrives and, after one look, all her anger just melts away because he’s her Frank Lampard.

Ah, John. John. What are you on?

So, I got quite wound up by all this and I wrote a reply. It was rather too offensive I'm afraid. And cruel. So I tore it up and wrote a rather more considered reply, which I hoped that they would consider for publication. (Oh, to be 'columnist of the day' and get a BORE-rating of 100! That would be quite special.) Anyhow, here it is. It’s exactly 400 words too. I was disproportionately proud of that.

Dear John

I understand perfectly why you ended up paying for female company, but I’m writing this to let you know that there is an alternative.

Last year I reached a low point in my life. I had never had a girlfriend. I spent my days curled up in the living room with my cat, curtains closed to keep the day at bay, watching DVDs and eating Sugar Puffs. I hardly ever left the house. My weight was inching up to the 20 stone mark. My flesh was the colour and consistency of cold gruel and I was about to turn 30.

I realised I was in grave danger of becoming one of those tragic souls who have to have the walls of their house removed so that they can be lifted by a crane to the nearest hospital for gastric bypass surgery, so I gave myself one year to lose the equivalent of Kate Moss in weight and – more importantly – to find someone to love.

I knew I couldn’t do this on my own however, so what I did was this: I started a blog. Blogging about my quest to lose weight, turn my life around and find someone to love was the best decision I ever made. It introduced me to hundreds of people I would otherwise never have met, and a couple of them even deigned to go to bed with me. Free of charge. They both went on to break my heart of course, but you can’t have everything. Where would you put it?

As for your comments about personality counting for nothing and women these days lusting after looks and little else, I think you’re generalising wildly. In my experience, women are a lot less superficial than men when it comes to looks. All you have to do is string a sentence together and have a sense of humour and you’d be surprised how many women will overlook the fact that you’ve got a face like a bag of elbows and a belly like a bag of bowling balls.

Seriously. I’m living proof that you can blog your way to happiness. It might not last forever, but... well, it might. Your column last week was hopefully your first step in the right direction. Get yourself online. The blog is mightier than the whore. (Unless of course you’re Belle de Jour.)
Good luck,

Bête de Jour

After a week or two I finally bit the bullet and accepted that I had definitely been rejected by thelondonpaper. Then I decided to end it all. Then I thought, no, fuck it, my time will come, and even if it takes another ten years, when it does come, I’ll be able to say, with my hand on my heart, ‘Well, at least on the way up, I never sucked on Rupert Murdoch’s skinsock. Nope, not even a nibble.’ (Did you see that horrible shagsack trying to nobble Obama? What a frickin’ sleaze.)

Anyway, fuck him and fuck his parochial rag. I’m over it.

Plus, John, you completely put me off the idea of paying for sex at a time when I was seriously considering it. So thanks. I spent the money on a coat.


Now, I have a question :: what's your favourite name for a cat, ever?

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Wednesday, 19 November 2008

News Of A Personal Nature :: I Feel Pretty

Oh, so pretty.

I feel pretty.

And witty.

And ‘gay’.

Seriously though.

And furthermore, I pity any girl – or indeed, any boy – who isn’t me today – or indeed, any day. Actually no, not any day. Just today.

Actually, thinking about it, to be fair, ‘pretty’ might be pushing it a little. I've still got a head like sack of aubergines pulled from a burning pork scratchings factory, but I was just checking myself out in the bathroom mirror there, with a bit of product on the old thatch and my £200 coat on. And you know what? I kind of half-fancied myself.

I had candles on and – if I say so myself – I looked like a ne’er-do-well in a noirish thriller. A bit dodgy for sure, but doable nonetheless.

So, yes, you may be wondering what has occurred to make me feel so pretty. So witty. So ‘gay’. You may not. I do not know. I lay claim to the ability to peer within the nether regions of neither your soul, your mind nor your pocket. All I can say is this: you know when someone you know – let’s say a friend – is going out with someone you really don’t think is suitable for them? Often you’re dead against the relationship, but you have to respect your friend’s decisions, or at least pretend to, so you bite your lips and nibble your cheeks and say nothing.

Then your friend splits up with their partner, you get drunk together and it all comes out. Everything you’ve ever thought about that good-for-nothing bag of rats. ‘Thank goodness you’re shot of that piece of human excrement,’ you say. ‘Trust me, worst thing that ever happened to you. You’re so much better off without them. In fact, and I probably shouldn’t say, but you were pretty unbearable yourself, while you were together.’ Then before you know it, they’re back together and frankly, things become a little uncomfortable.

Well, brace yourself, for I have news of a personal nature.

Morag and I are back together!

Yes, and by Christ, it definitely deserves at least one exclamation mark. Maybe more. But let’s not go mental.

This time we are going out with one another. None of that modern nonsense. Fuck buddies! I mean, come on. Who were we trying to fool? What were we thinking? In this day and age. Stuff and nonsense. Fuck buddies be buggered. A man needs a wife! No, I’m just kidding. I mean, maybe it’s true. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Although we have made a commitment to each other. And we’re talking about Christmas. And London. And generally being a couple.

That is all I have to say on the subject and I command you – with all of the stentorian muster of Brian Blessed bellowing through a megaphone into a microphone on the main stage at Glastonbury, with the speakers turned up to 11 – to have nothing but good feelings for me. If you don’t mind.

I know most of you will anyway, but a couple of you said some pretty harsh things about Morag when I was stupidly washing our dirty laundry in public a couple of months ago. Or whenever it was. I know you were just trying to be nice to me, but – nothing. Let’s say no more about it. Seriously.

Except this: I am very happy. And what’s more, for a fairly unambiguously ugly bloke, I feel pretty. Sing it!

Now leave your good wishes in the comments and let’s tuck into a celebratory box of Wispas.

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Friday, 14 November 2008

Feedback Friday :: Glad To Be Glad

I don’t know if this is some kind of manic episode – I know I’ve teetered on the meniscus of manic in the past – but I just can’t help feeling incredibly glad at the moment. Change is a remarkable thing. And the future is bright.

With all of this in mind, this week’s feedback comes in the form of 15 Things I Am Glad About. Oh yes, I’m going to have you puking up your pelvis before this passes…

1) I’m glad that my reactions to the challenges of life are much more robust now than they were just a year ago.

2) I’m glad that because of my reactions to the challenges of life, there are finally opportunities on the horizon.

3) I’m glad I’ve got the day off.

4) I’m glad that Keith is doing something noble and selfless and good, whether he sees it that way or not.

5) I’m glad that I have a chance to undo some of the ungood that was done to my family.

6) I’m glad that more people are starting to send me photos of bad English. Very glad indeed. It’s a great feeling. I’m also particularly glad that compared to the poor old bugger to whom this chart belongs, I am in incredibly good health.

7) I’m glad I found out how easy it is to change one's life, whilst also discovering that it’s even easier to change back.

8) I’m glad I have friends.

9) I’m glad that a couple of nights ago I took MDMA and had a big soapy bath in the middle of the night, with apples and candles and good old me-time.

10) I’m glad I’ve found a nice house where I can live and grow. (Green fingers crossed.) I’m so looking forward to growing again.

11) I’m glad that the landlady of the new place said it was OK to have a kitten. Oh, yes, she did! A kitten! Actually, to hell with glad. I’m absolutely ecstatic about that.

12) I’m glad I’ll soon have something else to write about, because frankly, I’m beginning to tire of the sound of my own voice.

13) I’m glad that athlete’s foot is treatable.

14) I’m glad that I’m running out of things to be glad about because, frankly, if it was that easy, it wouldn’t really count for that much.

15) Oh, and finally, I have to say, I’m very glad that I’ll be popping down to Brighton this weekend. Say no more.

So what are you glad about? Come on, it’s a beautiful day. Share your gladness with me at once, you gorgeous thing!

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Thursday, 13 November 2008

The Platform of Lost Parables

Yesterday was hectic. I was in a horrible hurry, on my way to see a house, stressed and furious, sweating and scowling, traipsing through the city with a terrific cob on, Pollyanna snivelling in my wake, nursing a black eye.

Hush now, child. Be glad it wasn’t both eyes.

I am between destinations, changing lines, cussing and sighing and surly because inconsiderate people are failing to read my mind – not even trying if you ask me – when a serious-looking gentleman in a suit which is both sparse and spruce, moves toward me to speak. He is lost. He is looking for Woolwich.

The train pulling in behind us is – I think – heading in the right direction, but I can’t be absolutely sure. There is no map in sight. ‘I think it’s this one,’ I say, as it pulls in and sicks up another fifty suits, ‘but we should really find a map.’ I gesture for him to follow me and head off on my impromptu quest; he thanks me happily and hops blithely onto the train.

When I notice his mistake, I yell, slightly melodramatically, almost in slow motion, ‘Noooooo-ooooo-oo!’ At which he hops back off the train, neatly, and the doors close behind him. ‘Come with me,’ I say, laughing merrily at his utter bewilderment. He is like a Turkish Mr Bean.

I mouth the words ‘Let’s go’ at him. Then I decide to speak them. This proves much more effective and we head off together. After a little aimless shambling, we find a map, and lo and behold, Woolwich is not even a tube station. I try to explain. ‘You need a train, mate. Upstairs.’ I point.

‘Yes!’ he cries. ‘Train!’ He pulls out a piece of paper with some words scrawled on it, amongst them ‘LONDON BRIDGE’ and ‘TRAIN’. I throw back my haircut and have a good old laugh. And my friend has a good old laugh too. And we’re both of us standing there, in this giant underground cavern, this no-man’s land between trains, having a good old laugh.

‘The train station’s upstairs,’ I tell him. He looks around him, snakes his eyes around the giant steel barn, with its stairs and tunnels, its tubes and funnels – are there funnels? Let’s say there are – and he smiles. He’s probably thinking of the barn he grew up in. Poor little mouse. ‘Where are you from, old pal?’ I say.

‘I am Kazakh man,’ he tells me, but he keeps it meek, not like you might imagine when you read the words ‘I am Kazakh man’. He is just stating a fact, as best he can. No frills, no implication. ‘Kazakhstan,’ he adds, helpfully.

‘Come on then, old sport,’ I chirrup. ‘Let’s get you onto that train.’

‘Thank you,’ says Kazakh Man.

Then we made our way along a relatively deserted platform. I didn’t speak. I wanted to, but it was too much like hard work, frankly. Bonding without language on the underground – and in a non-sexual way – is not as easy as you might think.

As I was thinking about that, a blind or partially-sighted man darted out of a tunnel to my left and came at me with his white cane. I side-stepped him neatly and was carrying on down the platform as if nothing had happened when I realised that he was speaking to me.

‘Is there a member of staff on the platform?’ he wanted to know. He needed some help getting somewhere.

I stopped. I looked. There was no one. But I did see one of those information-cum-emergency push-button intercom contraptions bolted to a wall. I asked him if that would do. He said that it would and asked me to take him to it. All the while Kazakh Man was loitering patiently. I thought for a second of introducing them. But I didn’t do it.

So there I was, plucked from the solipsistic porridge of my unspeakable rage and planted on the platform of lost parables, hand in hand with a man who couldn’t see, and a man who couldn’t speak. On we trudged, stronger for our union.

I started to laugh. Kazakh Man granted me a smile.

I left the Blind Man at the intercom system. I pressed the information button for him. He said it wasn’t an emergency. I wished him luck.

And I dropped off Kazakh Man at the ticket hall in the train station and I wished him luck too.

Then I made my way to the house, and as I made my way, I realised that I was happy. My random encounters had bucked me up no end. Good old London.

I was glad that I’d met Kazakh Man, and I vowed to take with me on my journey through life some of his humility, and some of his simple empathy, which was pure and warm and instinctive and beyond language in a way that this sentence never could be.

And I was glad that I’d met the Blind Man. He wasn’t old by the way, the blind man. He was younger than me. I wondered how long he’d been blind. I wondered if he’d become blind later in life, and if so, if he’d raged against the dying of the light for a period. He must have learned incredible patience.

So I take this too, and I make my way to the viewing with a spring in my heels.

The house, I am overjoyed to say, is awesome. Well, it’s OK. And it’s got a garden. And it felt both cosy and spacious. I liked it immediately.

When I’d done the tour I was informed that there were two more parties coming to view the property in a few hours. The pressure was on.

I took a little walk in the rain, and the dark, and the fairly biting wind, and I had a think. It’s winter. Keith’s off to take care of his dad for a while. I need somewhere to live. It almost feels like a Fresh Start is in the offing.

I caught my bank just before it closed and took out the money to cover the holding deposit. Then I went back to the agent and handed it over. I also signed a bunch of contracts. All that remains now is for my references to check out, one of which - my landlord's reference, I'm writing myself.

I am alone.

I am moving forward.

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Tuesday, 11 November 2008

TV :: Gory Gory Hallelujah

I had a couple of extraordinary viewing experiences over the weekend. I’d like to tell you about them. The first was Dead Set, Charlie Brooker’s Big Brother-zombie mash-up, which I finally managed to devour from start to finish, and absolutely loved. I’ve never been a great fan of zombies, I have to say. The occasional parody can be fun, but for me zombie horror always falls down on the shambling gait of its undead protagonists.

There’s just nothing scary about dead people shuffling over the brow of a hill like a whiff of pensioners in a post office queue. It hardly matters that they have the power to rip off your skullcap and devour your brains. Look at them. They’re shambling. Why, with only the most rudimentary ambling skills, you’d still be able to evade even the nimblest of them. Considering zombiedom is such a terrifying concept, the monsters themselves never really seemed as scary as they ought.

But in Dead Set the zombies don’t shamble; they sprint, and they’re dead fast, and proper hideous.

Keith disagrees with me on this and maintains that the old-style shambling was integral to the power of your traditional zombie in that it inspired creeping dread and a much more profound psychological discomfort. But I say bollocks to that. Give me in-your-face, balls-in-the-fire, sprinting death terror every time. Give me hell hurtling toward you with a jackhammer bite and apocalypse-blue eyes.

Brooker recognises that the rules changed with 28 Days Later, when the infected masses refused to bow down to the tyranny of tradition and got their arses in gear. I like that. I like to see the rules broken. I’d like to see it taken further though. I’d like to see a zombie film where the first word of the film was ‘zombies’, and the dead weren’t stupid but were reasoning and cogent, and in the scenes where they’re tearing their loved ones to pieces, they know exactly what they’re doing, and it’s killing them, and they’re sobbing as they rip the flesh from the bones of friends and relatives, but they just can’t help themselves. It’s a compulsion. An infection. That’s what it is to be a zombie. That’s the film I’d like to see. Although I must admit, it doesn’t sound like much fun. Dead Set on the other hand, was fantastic fun.

The humour was appropriately double-death dark and never really let up. The impotent rage of the zombie in a wheelchair (I know, I know, it’s really serious), baffled by forward propulsion, frustrated by the disabled, non-sprinting corpse it’s been saddled with, will stay with me forever. As will Davina McCall blatting her bolshy body against the same door for three episodes. But best of all was Big Brother producer, Patrick, part rapacious peddler of reality porn, part (one imagines) pitiless word-wizard and helpless misanthrope Brooker himself. Patrick was breathtakingly odious from start to sensationally gory finish and was given all the best lines.

The absolute best thing about Dead Set however – in my very most humble opinion – is the ending.

Spoiler alert.

As the tension mounts and the number of survivors continues to dwindle, the memory of the swimming pool scene clings like the smell of decaying flesh. These zombies have a weakness. Their weakness is water. The fear of an unwarranted happy ending creeps in and threatens everything. Will someone activate the sprinklers in the Big Brother house? Will their be a sudden purgative storm which washes the plague away?

I was certain there would be.

I was wrong.

Everyone dies.

No one is spared.

It’s so refreshing.

I can’t remember the last time I saw a mainstream television drama with the balls big enough not to pander to bland optimism. Dead Set was as unremittingly bleak as any zombie apocalypse ought to be. Totally unsanitised by knee-jerk philanthropy. Utterly, utterly hopeless. I was so pleased.

Then there was the portentous parable aspect. Oh yes there was.

Crap will eat itself.

In the Kingdom of the Bland, Vernon Kaye is King.

My second viewing pleasure was not quite so misanthropic.

I remember seeing Pollyanna at some stage when I was just a willowy wee boy, wrapped up in bed with my portable telly, and I can’t really remember it having that much of an effect on me. Except perhaps for cultivating in me an almighty crush on little Hayley Mills. You know, in The Parent Trap, there are two of her.

Thankfully, that crush has subsided.

When I happened across Pollyanna on Saturday afternoon however, all glum and gloomy and innocently avoiding sport, I remembered enough to stick with it a while. Sunny little Hayley reeled me in with her joyous smile.

There was darkness in my heart however, as I knew roughly what I was in for: saccharine, wholesome garbage, gingham, gospel, vapid all-conquering optimism and weak-chinned acceptance in the name of a loving God and a proud flag. And I was right. But what I hadn’t banked on how much it moved me.

Four times it reduced me to tears in the space of an hour. The last time I was wholly inconsolable.

And what it was was that I totally believed her. Little Hayley. Pollyanna. I believed entirely in her innocence and as such, it completely removed by cynicism. Like I’d had a cynisectomy. I was wholly purged by Pollyanna and I rejoiced in her simple, heartfelt message: not just that we should look on the bright side, but also, that we should look for the good in people.

She’s right.

And of course, her love of life is just as contagious as any cannibalistic, necromantic rage-plague.

Pollyanna brings joy and play and love where once there was merely sadness, and duty, and despair.

Nobody dies.

Everyone is spared.

Lessons are learned.

It’s so refreshing.

These are very strange times.

Mark my words.

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Friday, 7 November 2008

Feedback Friday :: Change

It’s been a funny old week. While the rest of the world’s been getting high on hope, I’ve been getting increasingly depressed on trains and tubes, and increasingly sick of spending my days in a small room with a man with a gastric problem. I also found out this week that the government job I was hoping for has been put back again. I should still get it, but not for another week or two.

God, I’m bored.

Also, it looks like Keith is leaving London. I’m not sure he’s making the right decision personally, but of course, it’s his decision to make. Not mine. Now, don’t tell anyone, but he plans on doing a rent-runner at the end of the month. This is because he hasn’t yet paid this month’s rent yet and landlord Dudley – because he’s rich as Croesus and has more properties than I have teeth - hasn’t even noticed. So Keith’s skipping town, leaving behind – as well as one month’s unpaid rent – one broken bed and one horribly, suspiciously stained and torn living room carpet. He’ll lose his deposit of course, but Dudley will still come out on top, so Keith figures it’s fair. I figure he’s probably right. Ish. This means I have until the end of the month – or until Dudley notices that the rent hasn’t been paid – to find somewhere new to live. Or of course I could take over this place, but frankly, this place, and Peckham as a whole, has rather lost its charm.

So. Back to Gumtree I go. Or I suppose I could start doing the rounds of agents. I do so despise them however. I’ve never met an agent who wasn’t either unscrupulous and self-centred to the point of pure evil, or, if not evil, severely mentally retarded. It's not uncommon of course, to meet a rancid melange of the two.

Still, needs must.

So. Keith may well be Burnley-bound as soon as the end of this coming week. So this weekend, we're going to buy some drugs.

In other news, I had this dream that I was sitting around with Stephen Fry and Simon Amstell and we were trying to think up cat-related Beatles song puns. I have no idea why, but it was possibly a new round on Never Mind the Buzzcocks.

‘Let It Beep,’ offered Stephen.

Simon and I looked at one another. Simon was wearing that expression he wears when he’s about to say something terrible and mean, but he didn’t want to say anything terrible and mean to Stephen Fry. Rather, he wanted to have snuggle up with him on a large bed.

‘Cats, Stephen,’ I said. ‘Cats don’t beep.’

‘Oh,’ said Stephen. ‘No, that’s right. Sorry.’

‘That’s OK,’ I said. ‘Try and think of another one.’

‘I’ve Got A Feline,’ said Simon.

‘Moggie Mae,’ I added.

‘Maxwell’s Silver Hamster,’ said Stephen.

Please,’ I said. ‘Stephen. You're ruining this for the rest of us.’

'Sorry,' said Stephen, ashamed.

‘Please Please Miaow,’ said Simon.

‘I Want To Hold Your Paw,’ I added, pleased with myself.

‘Sergeant Puppy’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,’ said Stephen.

Which was when it occurred to me that Stephen was merely toying with us. Of course he could think of cat puns. He was Stephen Fry. He could think of cat puns until the cow puns came home.

Which was when Simon Amstell turned to me and said, ‘Remind me. Why are you here?’

‘Oh, don’t be mean,’ said Stephen, but he was tittering like he didn’t mean it, like he was enjoying the meanness.

Which was when I noticed that Morag was sitting on Stephen Fry’s lap with her blouse unbuttoned and her bra pulled down to her navel. Stephen Fry seemed to be weighing her breasts in each of his hands. ‘So what’s the point of these exactly?’ he said.

And then, as Morag began to suckle Stephen Fry, I awoke, strangely depressed, and horribly aroused.

I wonder what it can mean.

So, this weekend, as well as attempting to procure some send-off narcotics, I’m going to start packing my life into boxes again.


And you? What have you got planned?

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Thursday, 6 November 2008

Gumtree II :: Anything Goes When Nothing Exists

And then there was this...

Thursday, 16 October 2008 17:05

My name is Harry Crown.Just want to drop few lines to let you know i have a one bedroom apartment in Clapham for rent.Rent goes for 700GBP monthly all bills inclusive,deposit 600GBP.
Pls let me know if you interested.
Harry Crown

Thursday, 16 October 2008 22:45

Hi Harry

Your apartment sounds perfect, and very reasonably priced. Before we arrange a viewing however, I have a couple of questions.

1. Would you mind if I have a cat?

2. Would you mind if I get up every morning at 5am and wake the neighbours by loudly banging together the thigh bones of the many old ladies and young children I have murdered and eaten in the name of Satan?

Let me know.


Friday, 17 October 2008 12:20

How are you doing today?It was nice reading from you.I do not mind if bring a cat in as i will not be staying in the apartment with you and also to let you know the apartment is alone and so you will not be disturbing anybody with whatever you are doing.
I work as a Contractor,currently supervising the building construction of an hotel in Edinburgh which would be finishing soon before i leave for Italy where i start my new job.
For this reason,i wont be living in the apartment,i only inherited it and haven't lived in it for too long.I wouldn't like to leave it dirty and untidy so i need clean and responsible tenant.
Apartment amenities include. Central Heating,Refrigerator,Ironing Board,Good wireless internet Connection,Washing machine,Dishwasher,Microwave Oven,Television with Built-in DVD Player,Coffee Maker,Double Sofa bed in Sitting Room,Dining Area,Hairdryer just to mention a few.
Unfortunately my phone is bad and wouldn't be able to receive phone calls at the moment,so communication via email would be better at the moment,probably i could give you a call later when i get on a pay phone as am not thinking of buying a new phone here as am leaving in few weeks.
As regards the viewing,i think we could fix a date i come down for the viewing and we reach an agreement.Have been very busy with work lately so its hard for me to spare time,i would like to be more certain about your intentions before booking my plane tickets for this.
I would be staying in Italy for more than 4 years so its up to you to decide how long you want the apartment for.
Please let me know what are the things you have in many people would be occupying the apartment and for how long you want the contract to last for.
Also let me know when you intend to move in and more other details you feel necessary for me to know.
Whereabouts do you live in currently?
Please find attached pictures of the apartment.
Waiting to read from you.

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Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Election Night :: Help Me Believe

‘…America, the Land of the Free, they said,
And of opportunity, in a just and a truthful way,
But where the president is never black, female or gay,
And until that day, you've got nothing to say
To me, to help me believe.’

- America Is Not The World, Morrissey

So here we are, at long last, just a handful of hours away from the very real possibility of America finally having something to say to Morrissey, to help him believe. That’s a pretty exciting prospect. How much more compelling an argument do you, my American readers, need, in order to cast your vote for Barack Obama?

Just imagine, after all these years, you will finally be offered the ear, and indeed the heart, of one of the greatest misanthropes of our time. Morrissey will listen to what you have to say and then, importantly, crucially, he will begin to believe. Of course, when this happens, presumably, Morrissey will no longer just sit around at home in his hemp tank top, spurning the company of peoplefolk, leafing listlessly through a copy of Lady Windermere's Fan and pushing a cold Linda McCartney sausage around a plate with a pearl-handled fork.

Rather, he will finally see the full potential of humankind. He will understand that human beings are not merely self-serving, terrified egotists and short-sighted egotistical terrorists who will happily trample all over one another in order to satisfy the small-minded desires of themselves and their own clan, but rather they are also - potentially - wonderful, giving, caring, selfless creatures who are prepared to go out of their way to help one another achieve the potential that each of them shares.

He may never write a decent song again, but to heck with it. It’ll be worth it.

And to make this happen, you, my American friend, must cast your vote for Barack Obama. If you haven’t already.

I’m sure you’ve seen this:

Please don’t let it be you.

It’s odd how much I want Barack Obama to win tonight.

Frankly, it scares me.

I was born just two years before Margaret Thatcher came to power. I had to wait till I was 19 before I got a sniff of a left wing government. The first time I voted was to help bring Tony Blair to power. I was so excited. I had never been that excited by politics before. Nor since, sadly. Indeed, my excitement, and the joy I felt when Tony Blair came to power was very short-lived.

It quickly became apparent that New Labour was not really anything to do with old Labour, and nothing at all to do with Socialism, of which I had always been rather fond. It wasn’t long at all before promises were broken, U-turns were made and bullshit and sleaze were just as evident under Labour as they had been for nearly two decades under the Conservatives.

In short, the last 11 years of ‘left wing’ government in this country has left me utterly cynical and disgustingly apathetic. Many, many times since Labour came to power I have told anyone that would listen that I hate politics, and that I despise politicians. And I blame this Labour government’s for that. They destroyed it for me.

But Barack Obama has got me excited again.

Which is why I’m scared. I’m scared that - like everyone else - he is going to allow power to corrupt.

I’m also scared he’s going to get shot before he can even start letting people down.

But what the hell. Life is full of fear, and life is full of disappointments. It’s also full of pleasant surprises, and hey, maybe this will be one of them.

And for that reason, I’m excited again. And I want to believe.

Please help me.

Now I’m going to go and get Keith, who is sitting upstairs being sad, and I’m going to make him come downstairs and watch the election coverage with me. I’ve got in some ironic food. I’ve got McCain Oven Chips, sixteen cans of Budweiser and some Oreos.


What can go wrong?

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Monday, 3 November 2008

You Had Me At Hair Dryer :: The Big Gumtree Western Union Money Transfer Scam

A few weeks ago, I put an advert on Gumtree looking for somewhere to live. Within 24 hours I had received two genuine responses and three obvious scam responses. I let Gumtree know about the scams, as they ask you to, but I responded to one of them anyway, as I was curious to see how exactly they were going to attempt to steal from me. I’ll copy the resulting email correspondence below, but it is kind of silly and you may not want to read it, so before I do that, I want to mention the serious part.

The serious part concerns the gross negligence of Gumtree and, more significantly, Western Union Money Transfer, in not doing a great deal to put a stop to known scams.

The main scam perpetrated on accommodation listings services such as Gumtree goes like this: fake landlords lure prospective tenants with fake properties and low rents. They explain that because they have been let down before, they need proof that the prospective tenant is not wasting their time and is actually able to afford the deposit. So they ask them to make a money transfer to a trusted friend or relative, using Western Union Money Transfer. They then ask for the receipt details so that they can track the transfer online and see that the prospective tenant does indeed have enough money to pay the rent. Then, thanks to Western Union’s horrendous, scam-friendly system, the scammer simply takes the receipt number and recipient’s name to his (or her) local branch of Western Union and is allowed to walk away with the money.

There’s a short BBC report about it here, featuring a young girl who fell for it.

So that’s what they do. And indeed, within a couple of emails, my man ‘Nick Stinson’, was trying to lead me along that path.

As you will see, I ended up communicating with my man ‘Nick Stinson’ for a good couple of weeks, and during that time I went to some considerable lengths to try and get Gumtree and Western Union to help me hoist him with his own petard.

It seems simple to me.

All Western Union would have to do is provide the prospective scammee with a fake receipt for the deposit money and then circulate details of the fake transaction to all of their agents the world over, or at least in Lagos (Scam Lake City) and wait for the scammer to pop by for his cash. Then the agent checks the receipt against their list of fake names and numbers, asks the scammer to wait a moment and surreptitiously alerts the police.


I’m sure there are logistical problems as to why it couldn’t be done immediately, but surely a system could be put in place for the future. Surely it’s possible.

Scammers put in so much time and hard work in order to steal from people, coming up with ever more ingenious methods, and the companies they exploit seem content to just sit back and take it.

Western Union are particularly bad. I sent them emails which remained unanswered. I tracked down their fraud line, a telephone number, which was similarly ignored. I sent another email, same result.

I emailed Gumtree. ‘David’ emailed back a few days later and said, ‘Thanks for your email reporting this to us. You are right to be concerned as this is a scam.’ Well, duh. ‘Please do not follow any further instructions from this person.’ I wrote back explaining that I had this scammer hanging on, waiting for a receipt number, crying out to be apprehended. Could he help? Could Western Union help? Did anyone care? ‘We take matters like this very seriously and I will use the information that you have given us to see what can be done to prevent this happening again in the future.’

Right. OK. Thanks.

I genuinely believe that when businesses like this don’t do all that is in their power to stop unscrupulous people committing criminal acts on their virtual property, then - as a result of their willful negligence - those companies should be considered complicit in the crime and should therefore have to shoulder some of the responsibility. The bastards.

The least Western Union could do is make their money pick-up system a little more robust.

Ooh, they make me seethe. I'm seething now. You should see me.

On the plus side however, it was kind of fun seeing how stupid I could be with my scammer before he realised he wasn’t going to get any money out of me. Very, as it turns out. Unfortunately I didn't get him to send me a picture of him posing with a ridiculous sign like proper scam baiters do. Ah well. Maybe next time.

Sunday, October 5, 2008, 6:44 AM

It was nice reading from you.
I work as an Engineer,currently supervising the building construction of an hotel in Edinburgh which would be finishing soon before i leave for Italy where i start my new job.
For this reason,i wont be living in the apartment,i only inherited it and haven't lived in it for too long.I wouldn't like to leave it dirty and unkept so i need clean and responsible tenant.
Apartment amenities include. Central Heating,Refrigerator,Ironing Board,Good wireless internet Connection,Washing machine,Dishwasher,Microwave Oven,Television with Built-in DVD Player,Coffee Maker,Double Sofabed in Sitting Room,Dining Area,Hairdryer just to mention a few.
Unfortunately my phone is bad and wouldn't be able to receive phone calls at the moment,so communication via email would be better at the moment,probably i could give you a call later when i get on a pay phone as am not thinking of buying a new phone here as am leaving in few weeks.
As regards the viewing,i think we could fix a date i come down for the viewing and we reach an agreement.Have been very busy with work lately so its hard for me to spare time,i would like to be more certain about your intentions before booking my plane tickets for this.
I would be staying in Italy for more than 4 years so its up to you to decide how long you want the apartment for.
Please let me know what are the things you have in many people would be occupying the apartment and for how long you want the contract to last for.
Also let me know when you intend to move in and more other details you feel necessary for me to know.
Whereabouts do you live in currently?
Pls find attached pictures of the apartment.
Waiting to read from you.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008 2:27 PM

Hi Nick

It was nice reading from you also. Thanks ever so much for the wonderfully superfluous information about your life. It was most enervating. Tell me, which hotel are you working on in Edinburgh? And when are you leaving for Italy? I'm really keen to get to know you as I feel that, if I am to be living in your property, we should be – at least on some levels – great pals.

The apartment amenities sound second to none. I'm so pleased that you have a hair dryer. Many so-called 'furnished apartments' these days overlook this essential item. Does it have attachments?

Don't worry about speaking on the phone. I'm perfectly happy to continue our correspondence via email for the moment, although obviously we will have to meet somewhere down the line.

As for my intentions toward your beautiful apartment, I would like to move in as soon as possible and ideally I would like to live there for no less than 18 months. I currently live in Peckham.

So I have a couple more questions:

1) Where is your flat exactly?


2) When can I see it? I'm very excited.

Please let me know if you need any more information from me.

Looking forward to reading from you.


Wednesday, October 8, 2008, 9:23 PM

SW4 7BX is the postcode,you can look it up on a map.
At this point...i can see the necessity for you to have a view of the apartment and believe me am giving this a serious consideration as i really want to let the apartment out to you.
I have on two different occasion came to London for a viewing of the apartment and later find out that my proposed tenants are not capable of making things happen..believe me some dont even have the money to pay for the deposits...they have really claimed to be so much irresponsible so far as they made me come all the way down for nothing.
Am not trying to insinuate anything only telling you this to make you more certain am serious about my intentions and that i want responsible tenants in my apartment while am away in Italy.
When i come to London for the viewing of the apartment,i would have my lawyer prepare a Tenancy Agreement so we can both have them signed and also come along with the keys if you want me just let me know.
One more thing...i would require the deposits and a months rent in advance for me to hold the apartment for you till you move in...please let me know if you okay with this.
I would also require reference from your previous landlord if you can provide one and also some kind of proof of your ability to pay me the funds when am in London before i book my flight tickets.I dont mean to be rude but i think you can understand.

Thursday, October 9, 2008 2:43 PM

Hey Nick

Thanks for getting back to me with such alacritous promptitude. It is much appreciated!

I have looked on Google maps and I have to tell you I have a very good feeling about you. Your apartment is crack bang in the middle of what property developers like to call 'The Golden Poontangle', and is pretty much my dream location. Which is to say, there is nowhere in this world I would rather live. I can't wait to see it with my eyes!

So let's get moving!

To reassure you concerning my financial bone, I can tell you that my father recently passed, and although this was obviously greatly sad on the one hand, it was also something of a godsend as he left me quite a tidy packet I can tell you. Not enough to buy a place of my own unfortunately (not in the current climate), but certainly enough to pay a healthy rent for a couple of years! I am happy to show you a copy of my bank statements, and if the flat is up to snuff, maybe even pay up to six months in advance! This would make things easier for me. Otherwise we could set up a direct debit.

I am happy to sign the Tenancy Agreement when we meet and happy to give you the deposit and rent in advance of moving in.

Before we meet however, I have just a couple of questions:

1) Would it be OK to keep a cat? I do hope so. I love cats. I'm also looking into the purchase of a trained vole. Would this be a problem?

2) How much is the rent?! I can't believe we've got so far into this discussion and I still don't know how much the flat will cost! Madness! And how much of a deposit will you require? My current landlord asked for 3 months' rent as a deposit which I can't help feel was a little extreme. Please let me know, at your earliest possible opportunity, how much money you would like me to give you.

So all that remains is for me to see the place. Let me know when you can come down and show me the flat and I will see you then. The sooner the better for me.

I'm really looking forward to reading more from you.

All the best.


Sunday, October 12, 2008 6:18 AM

Thanks for the detailed response.
Keeping a cat wouldn't be a problem.Rent goes for 1000GBP per month all bills inclusive,deposit 800GBP.I would require a month's rent and deposit.
I thought about the viewing,spoke with a colleague of mine here and he advised me to tell you if you can make a transaction with Western Union Money Transfer.The transaction can be made into your name as the receiver or your friend you can trust so when i come to London and you have viewed the apartment and we have reached all necessary can pick up the money for me at a nearby office.
Also i would have to show my boss th online transaction status...this is just to make him more certain of the urgency required for me to rush down to London from here...i must confess to you we have been very busy with work lately,so its hard to spare time for me...moreover this process also saves you from carrying lot of cash around on the day of viewing.
For your convenience,you can deduct the charges for the transaction from the total,i would take that as my own expenses.
Please dont misunderstand my intentions,am not doubting your capabilities of being able to pay me this money,am only trying to be more certain funds are available before i book my flight ticket for the viewing.
I would come along with the Tenancy Agreement and keys,you just let me know when would be convenient.
Hope you can see reasons with me.

Sunday, October 12, 2008 9:42 AM

Hi Nick

Thanks for your reply. I can see reasons with you, for sure, but I'm slightly confused. I would like to see your flat some time this week. Preferably tomorrow or Tuesday. Would this be possible? If not, please tell me your earliest possible availability.



PS. What about the vole?

Sunday, October 12, 2008, 12:39 PM

Of course i can understand your situation but i want you to understand that am not asking you to pay prior to viewing the property.
Am only making a request you can make a transaction with Western Union so i can confirm funds are available before i book my flight ticket for London and also to confirm you more serious tenant this time around a have wasted my time in the past,i told you about this.
You can make the transfer to your friends name(you need not tell them its in London,anywhere in England can also be picked up in London,they dont use the receivers address) so when am in London and we have reached agreements,you can pick up the money for me at a nearby office.
For your convenience,you can deduct the charges for the transfer from the total,i would take that as my own expenses.I dont want to get involved in your bank details before we meet in person,thats why i prefer it done this way.Am very sorry for any inconvenience.
I would be traveling soon,i would so much appreciate the viewing takes place as soon as possible.
I would appreciate if you can grant my request,am very serious about this and hope things go on well.

Sunday, October 12, 2008 5:00 PM

Hi Nick

I am also very serious about this. Make no mistake about that. I am still slightly confused though. Everything sounds fine and above board but I don't know where to make the transfer. You mention a friend. What friend?

Please help me help you help ourselves. Help us. If you can. Give me some details and I will do your bidding.

I am moist with anticipation. I desperately want to see this property.

I await clarification.


PS. I am assuming the vole is OK. If I get to the point of moving in and you tell me you have an anti-vole stance, I will be quite seriously miffed.

Sunday, October 12, 2008 6:23 PM

I can understand your point.
Let me explain the transfer process clearly so you can have a better understanding.
All you need to do is look for a nearby outlet to your place online at their website and you can make the transfer of the funds to your friends name or relatives who can take the funds out for you easily after we have reached an agreement after the viewing.
I basically need to look up a valid transaction status at their website link below.
For your convenience,you can deduct the transfer charges from the total,i would take that as my own expenses.Am very sorry for any inconvenience.
Once i receive confirmation of the transaction that funds are available,i would book my flight ticket immediately and send you the details.What date would be best convenient for the viewing?

Sunday, October 12, 2008, 6:25 PM

I forgot to tell you that you need to go make the transaction at their nearest office in person with cash.

Sunday, October 12, 2008 8:17 PM

Hey Nick, you longwinded bugger you!

Let me get this straight: you want me to go to a Western Union office and transfer £1,800 to one of my friends or a member of my family. Then you will check online that the money is in there. Then you will come to London and show me your flat. Is that right?

However, I will also have to pay a transfer charge.

So I have a question. What if I then choose not to live in your flat? Will you pay me the transfer fee back?

I have another question. What's the point of me using Western Union at all? Why don't I just send you a copy of my bank statement?

And I have one last question. According to the postcode you gave me, your flat is located at 84 Clapham Park Road. Is this correct? Is it above Verso 84, the Italian restaurant there?

Looking forward to hearing from you soon.

This is a very strange way to do business but if it means I get to live in my dream flat, then it will be worth it in the long run.

But we really need to get moving soon as this backwards and forwards is becoming arse-numbingly tedious.


PS. There is a branch of the Western Union literally across the street from my house, so if you answer my questions satisfactorily, I can make the transfer tomorrow.

Sunday, October 12, 2008 9:03 PM

Yes you got me right.I need you to make a transfer with Western Union in your friends name,all you need do is just make them understand you sending the funds to a friend of yours in the UK as a matter of urgency.Dont worry i would re-imburse you the transfer charges on the day of viewing if you take the apartment or not,you need not to bother about that.Am sure you would definitely take the apartment.
I know this is a strange way of doing business,am very sorry to put you through all this,its cos i dont want to get involved with your bank details.
The vole is OK and you have the correct address.
Let me know.

Monday, October 13, 2008 9:06 AM

Morning, Nick

Your email last night completely put my mind at rest. The fact that you don't want to get involved with my bank details proves that you are conducting your affairs with utmost integrity. I admire that. I admire you.

So, what I did was this: I went straight across the road, marched into the Western Union office and handed over the cash.

Then you'll never guess what happened. The bloody idiot behind the counter told me that he couldn't do it because the machine was broken. So I marched back out again.

Then I had an idea. Rather than mess around with money transfer nonsense - which can obviously be quite unreliable - why don't I just bring the mountain to the horse's mouth? I understand that you're working hard in Edinburgh, and that you'd help me if you could, so I thought to hell with it!

I'm on the train!

I arrive in Edinburgh at 12.24 and I'm booked into the Hanover Hotel. I have got £2,000 in my pocket which I'm perfectly happy to give it to you as a deposit – although I will require a receipt obviously, and some proof of identity (no disrespect to you but I've had trouble before). I would also like to offer you dinner, as my guest. What time are you free? If you're not free at all tonight, I don't mind staying on a couple of days, or I can always hop in a cab and come over to your place of work.

How exciting! Hopefully see you this evening.

I'm really looking forward to meeting you.

Have a great day.


Monday, October 13, 2008 9:38 AM

I so much appreciate the seriousness you have about this issue.
Stan,i would much more prefer you find another Western Union agent in London and make the transfer as we earlier discussed cos i wont be available to speak with you in person here as am very busy.
Am very sorry for the inconvenience,but i think you should just drop by at another Western Union outlet and make the transfer.
Let me know.

Monday, October 13, 2008 9:51 AM

Hi Nick

I am pleased you appreciate the seriousness I have about this issue, but I am also slightly disappointed that you do not seem to share this seriousness.

I will be in Edinburgh in less than two hours. Surely the least you can do is meet me for ten minutes (although I am surprised you are turning down the offer of a free dinner - I'm talking slap-up three-courser in the swankiest surroundings Edinburgh has to offer here; not deep fried Mars Bars in some backstreet Leith outhouse! Are you sure you can't be swayed?)

Come now. Please don't make me come all the way to Scotland for nothing!

Let me know where you are and I can meet you. I can show you my cash, sign over the deposit and put your mind at rest. Then we can arrange the viewing in good faith.

I won't take no for an answer!

See you later!


Monday, October 13, 2008 9:51 AM

Stan,am very sorry to disappoint you but i wouldnt want to waste much of your time here in Edinburgh before we meet in person as am very busy thats why i asked you to stay in London.
If you can make the transfer today,i can come to London on Wednesday,which means i would be taking the whole day off and i think this is much more preferable for me for the viewing as you would get to see the apartment and we can sign the contract on the same day as well as me handing over the keys to you.

[The next two emails crossed each other in the virtual post...]

Monday, October 13, 2008 10:15 AM

OK....lets make it happen like this.
Firstly i wont be accepting cash from you here without you seeing the apartment but we can meet up and talk here.Probably tonight or tomorrow night.
Stan,moving about with 2000pounds in your pocket is quite risky and i hope you can see reasons with me about this so i want you to do this for me.Immediately you arrive in Edinburgh,find a nearby Western Union agent and make the transfer of the funds to be received in your name back in London.Do you understand me.
In my previous email,i told you something abot my boss...I would also need to show him a valid online transaction status of the transfer so he can give me a day off to come to London.This way we can fly back to London together on Wednesday so you can have the viewing and i can give you the keys afterwhich we can just pop in a nearby Western Union outlet to take the funds out.
Which Hotel did you say you would be staying?Dinner for tomorrow night is perfect as am very busy tonight.
I sincerely hope you can understand my situation and can make things happen for both of us.
Do you have a contact phone number i can reach you on here or would it be through email?

Monday, October 13, 2008 10:16 AM

You're very sweet, Nick, and I appreciate you looking out for me. But really, it would be more inconvenient for me to return to London now, without having seen you. So don't worry about me. I'm a big boy. I can take care of myself. It really is appreciated though. Thank you.

Anyway, not to worry. Our problems are solved. If you can take the whole day off on Wednesday to fly down to London, that's perfect! I'll meet you then and fly down with you! I'm perfectly happy to spend a couple of days in Edinburgh, hanging out, eating pies and checking out the city's world-renowned happy-finish sauna industry! I can eat a lot of pies between now and Wednesday. If you know what I mean.

So that's settled then.

Shall we meet on Tuesday evening to iron out the details (dinner still a possibility!) or shall we meet on Wednesday prior to flying down to London together?

Ooh, I've just checked on Expedia and there's a flight leaving at 10am which would get us into London around 11.30. It costs around £180, but to be honest, Nick, if the flat's as good as it looks, I'd be happy to help you out with the expense.

I'll be at the Hanover if you want to chat or change your mind about dinner.

See you on Wednesday! I'm so happy!


Monday, October 13, 2008, 10:33 AM

Am happy we reaching on conclusions fast.
We can meet up tomorrow evening to talk about the details.The flight leaving for London on Wednesday 10am is OK with me.Dont worry i would cover the expenses for the both of us.
I think there is still one more thing you still dont understand here and i want us to get it settled.Besides the fact that you walking around with 2000pounds in your pocket is not safe,i would also have to make my boss understand am coming to London for something more serious this time around as have wasted my time with prospective tenants in the past,i told you this before.I would need you to make the transfer of the funds back to London in your name so i can show my boss the valid online status of the transfer and this should make him understand there is more seriousness with this so he can give me the day off on Wednesday.
Do you understand my point?

Monday, October 13, 2008 10:50 AM

Hi Nick

I've dealt with a lot of landlords and property owners over the years and to a man, they've all turned out to be the most unscrupulous, unrelentingly rapacious and downright immoral swine I've ever had the displeasure to encounter.

Finally, I am delighted to have found the exception.

Your concern for me has literally moved me to tears. One old lady on the train has asked me if I'm alright. I told her, 'I am more than alright, old lady. I am in ecstasy. I am in ecstasy because Mr Nick Stinson has restored my faith in humanity.'

So thank you. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.

And of course you are quite right. It is extremely dangerous to carry large amounts of cash around with you, particularly in Edinburgh where a man may be bludgeoned to death for his hatpin. But like I said, I am big man – almost 8 foot in height – and I have a knife.

However, as you need to convince your boss of the importance of your time off work, I am prepared to do as you say. I will be in touch again when I have transferred the money.

I'm already in Scotland by the way. Hey, it's not so bad up here! I'm just passing through Jedburgh as I speak, and a tiny village called Balamory-on-the-Tum. So quaint. There are haggis everywhere! One tried to get through the open window of the train just now but I batted it away with my fists.

Right, so I'll be in touch when I've settled into my hotel and found a Western Union.

Whereabouts are you in Edinburgh by the way? Where's this hotel you're working on? I bet it's lovely.

Can't wait to meet you. All the best.


Monday, October 13, 2008 11:14 AM

Thanks for considering my request to make my boss give me the day off work.
Its nice to hear you already in Scotland...I would be sending you an email in the eveving to let you know when i would be coming tomorrow evening.
Meanwhile i would wait to read from you today after you have made the transfer so i can show my boss.
Cant wait to meet you.

Monday, October 13, 2008 4:16 PM

Just want to drop this message to let you know i would be coming over to your Hotel tomorrow evening 7pm so we can finish our discussion.
How is everything with you?Hope you enjoying your stay here...
Have you made the transfer yet?Pls get back to me with the details so i can show my boss the valid online status of the transaction.
Waiting to read from you.

Monday, October 13, 2008 8:11 PM


My friend.

I have made the transfer. I made it in the name Balthazar Pucksniff Sprightly IV. He is my friend from pottery class. And I have the receipt here in my hand. Now all you have to do is tell me your work address and I will come and show you the receipt tomorrow, at your convenience.

Now I am off out for an exotic massage.

See you tomorrow!


Monday, October 13, 2008 8:24 PM

Its nice reading from you.
I would much more prefer me coming to your Hotel tomorrow evening as i earlier discussed with you.I would be very busy at work tomorrow so i wont be able to meet with you.
I think its best for you to provide me with the Senders name and 10 digit reference so i can show my boss the valid online status tomorrow morning so he can grant me Wednesday off work for the viewing.
Also provide me with a contact phone number i can reach you on tomorrow.

Monday, October 13, 2008 9:40 PM

Hope you enjoying your stay.Are you back at your Hotel room?
Am still waiting to read from you as regards my earlier email.

Monday, October 14, 2008 7:27 AM

Hi Nick


Edinburgh is one crazy town. I have a lot to thank you for.

After my massage last night, during which I was well serviced by two toothless Glaswegian hermaphrodites – heroin withdrawal had made them particularly feisty – I made my way to the Mint Casino. I don’t know if you know it, but they really know how to make a chap with access to a small pile of cash feel like a king.

Well, I started out on the roulette wheel but things weren’t going so well. Then I moved onto the Black Jack table. That’s when the God of Great Personal Fortune seemed to come and sit on my shoulder, pleasuring himself. It was unbelievable. I just couldn’t stop winning! Hand after hand after hand after hand left me crying out with pleasure. It was like being back in the massage parlour!

By the time I left at 4 o’clock this morning, I had made almost £75,000! Can you believe it? I’m rich! Rich, I tell you! Rich beyond my wildest dreams!

Oh, Nick, I’m so happy. And I owe it all to you. That’s why I insist on giving you half. Really. I know you won’t hear of it because you’re such a wonderful man, but I absolutely insist. It’s all upstairs in my hotel room now, but I’m going to bring £37,000 round to you just as soon as you tell me where you are. I’m going to bring it into your office and toss it up in the air and we’re going to dance beneath it, laughing and hugging and kissing.

Oh, and I have the money transfer number you need too, but you probably don’t even want that now.

I’m going upstairs for a little lie down now, but I’ll be up later. Make sure you’ve told me where you are by the time I get up, otherwise I may start to get a little angry with you. And you don’t want that.

Thanks again for making me so happy and rich. I can’t wait to see your face and rub some of this lovely money into your sweetly odious cheeks.

See you very soon,


Tuesday, October 14, 2008 8:09 AM

Stan,am happy for you.
I think the best thing you can do for me now is to provide me with the transfer details i requested for so i can have things settled with my boss this morning.I dont want you to come to my work place cos am very busy,i would come to your Hotel this evening,i told you before.
When i come,we can both drink to your success and we can fly down to London tomorrow morning.
Please try to understand my point,you just provide me with the details i requested,if you dont am very sorry i wont be able to make it down to London with you tomorrow as i wont be getting the day off.
Let me know.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008 11:52 AM

Stan,am still waiting to read from you.
Pls provide me with the details i requested for so i can show my boss to get tomorrow off for the viewing in London.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008 5:19 PM

Hey, Nick!

Sorry about that. I really tied one on last night. I woke up just now covered in money, with a rectum like a windsock. God knows what I got up to.

So – you’re coming over to the hotel tonight, yeah? Hop in a cab and ask for the Hanover. Let’s say 7.30?

See you in a couple of hours. I’m just off down the sauna. (Strictly legit this time. More’s the pity.)

Looking forward to it.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008 5:28 PM

Am sorry i wont be able to make it down as am still at work....
Why did you refuse to send me the transaction details i asked for?
I need them to be sure if am coming to London tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008 8:13 PM

Nick, this is crazy. We're in the same city. Edinburgh is about ten foot squared. I could be with you in ten minutes no matter where you are. It doesn't matter if you're still working. I won't stop you working. I'll just hand over the receipt.

I'm beginning to think you don't want to meet me. Is it because I'm ugly?


Tuesday, October 14, 2008 10:47 PM

You're really not coming then?

Well, sod you. I'm going to get the train back to London tomorrow. Do you still want the receipt number? I'm still keen to see your flat.

Let me know. It's up to you.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008 2:18 PM

Am sorry i was unable to get back to you earlier..
You caused all ths mess..I asked you to send me the transfer details so i can talk to my boss.I dont want you to come to my work place.
Are you still interested in seeing my apartment?
Just send me the valid details and i would get back to you with my flight details.
Are you still in Edinburgh?i can still come to your Hotel.
Let me know.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008 2:31 PM

To be honest Stan,you startng to make me believe you never made the transaction i asked you to.
Am very sorry if i sound rude but i want you to understand i didnt plan this to happen like this.
I can still make it to you Hotel today if you still in Edinburgh or preferably tomorrow morning i would fly down to London if i can get the day off tomorrow.
Pls let me know.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008 8:38 PM

You've really upset me, Nick.

I'm back in London.

I did make the transaction and I would still like to see your beautiful flat. The money was transferred in the name Balthazar Pucksniff Sprightly IV, and the number is 8276789026. Happy now? So when are you coming to London, you big freak?


Thursday, October 16, 2008 1:02 PM

Seriously i dont understand the meaning of this,i tried to look up the valid status of the transaction online with my boss at the website link i sent you earlier but its telling me the code you sent me is invalid.This is very embarassing for me showing my boss an invalid transaction status.
Pls let me know whats going on.Is the money still available for pick up?

Thursday, October 16, 2008 1:32 PM

Stan,am very sorry if i upset you but i want you to see reasons with me too.
Am still very much interested in renting the apartment to you.I can still make it down to London tomorrow or next(Friday or Saturday).
Pls just let me unto the valid details i asked for.I promise not to let you down.

Thursday, October 16, 2008 2:47 PM

Stan,i would appreciate a quick response.
I need to be sure if am still holding the apartment for you or not.

Thursday, October 16, 2008 3:43 PM

Don't be such a mook, Nick. I gave you the right number.

Try it again.



Friday, October 17, 2008 10:28 AM

Did you track it using the Western Union link i sent you.
Is the money still available for pick up?

Friday, October 17, 2008 10:36 AM

Preferably you can send me the scan of receipt.I think this way is better.
I just need to be sure the funds are still avgailable for pick up by
your friend.
Pls let me know.

Friday, October 17, 2008 12:29 PM

The funds are available! Why are you trying to hurt me? I'm not scanning anything though, you can go take a shit in a bread-basket.
If you don't pull your finger out soon, I'm going to come and mess up your face with my fingers.

What do you say?


Friday, October 17, 2008 2:26 PM

You stupid for what you said.
Do you think am trying to scam you.

Friday, October 17, 2008 3:36 PM

I cant believe you have been playing with my all this while.
Am a very responsible man and don't deserve this kind of treatment from you.

Friday, October 17, 2008 5:18 PM

I haven't! No! I'm so sorry you think that. Please don't think that.

Can I still scan you the receipt? Will that prove to you that I am serious?

Friday, October 17, 2008 7:51 PM

Yes that would be helpful,provided the receipt is a valid one and you havent taken the funds out.
I would call Western Union to confirm this.

Saturday, October 18, 2008, 8:53 AM

Am still waiting to read from you Stan.
I need to be sure if am holding the apartment for you or not cos i already have someone else interested.

Saturday, October 18, 2008 9:10 AM


I am in Clapham. I have just spoken to the owner of the restaurant beneath your flat and he told me that in actual fact, he owns the flat above it also.

How can this be? Is he a liar?

Put my mind at rest and I will send you the scan.

In the meantime I am still waiting for an apology.



Saturday, October 18, 2008 9:29 AM

Of course he is lying.
Pls do not waste my time.If you think you cant trust me,i think i would rather give the apartment to someone else who does.
How can you tell me someone else owns my apartment,what insult.Or are you at the wrong place?
All these is getting me worried and am not happy.Stan,pls dont waste my time.
I wouldnt want to loose other people interested in the apartment,so pls let me know your stand.
Am i coming to London to shhow you the apartment or we rather forget about all these and i move ahead.
Pls let me know as soon as possible.

Saturday, October 18, 2008 6:04 PM

Am still waiting to read from you.
No response from you would mean i should let it go.

Sunday, October 19, 2008 5:18 PM

Dear Nick

How's it going? Did you get the scan I sent?


Sunday, October 19, 2008 9:22 PM

Fuck you.

That was from him by the way, and it concluded our correspondence.

And so, another odious thief wanders off into the Nigerian sunset, free to scam another day....

I never heard back from either Gumtree or Western Union, neither of whom it seems could actually give a fuck.

Oh, and I still haven't found anywhere to live. Looks like I'm going to be stuck in Peckham till the day I die.


Question de Jour :: Have you ever been scammed? Go on, you can tell me...

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