Tuesday, 30 September 2008

The Morag Situation #2 :: So when was that decided?

Less than two weeks ago…

Scat: Look, it’s more that I want the person I want to want me back and to know it. Oh God, I don’t know. Let’s talk about it this weekend.

Morag: No, let’s not.

Scat: And I’m the child.

Morag: Excuse me?

Scat: Cat and mouse, cat and mouse.

Morag: WTF?

Scat: Why can’t we talk about it this weekend?

Morag: Because I’m not going to see you this weekend. I’m going away with a friend.

Scat: Anyone I know?

Morag: That’s not likely is it? You don’t know any of my friends.

Scat: Anyone I know OF I mean.

Morag: You mean is it Ollie?

Scat: I suppose so, yes.

Morag: Of course it’s not.
You don’t know me at all, do you?

Scat: I suppose not, no.

Morag: Right. Any more questions?

Scat: So when was that decided?

Morag: Hold on a sec….

[Time passes.]

Here we are -
You’re rather inquisitive for a fuck buddy.

Scat: Touché. Right. OK, Morag. Well, do have a great weekend and maybe I’ll see you around.


Morag is typing
Scat is offline. Messages you send will be delivered when Scat comes online.



Later that day...

Morag: The thing is though, your blog is supposed to be about your quest for true love, I just thought your readers should know that here you are being offered love and you’ve turned it down.

Scat: What? Really? I had no idea.
Was I being offered true love?
When did that happen?

Morag: Don’t be a smartarse, please.
I made it perfectly clear that I was offering to take our relationship onto the next level – onto a firmer footing, and you threw it back in my face.

Scat: NO no no nonono. No!
I did not throw anything anywhere. I just didn’t see why I should roll over and let you lick my face after you’d already – quite coldly – rejected me.
I didn’t think you’d give up so easily to be honest. I thought maybe you might try and persuade me, buy me Sugar Puffs, make me realize that maybe I could believe in what you were half-saying, that maybe you really did want to be with me, but instead at the first tiniest setback you’re fucking off on weekends and trying to make me jealous.

Morag: It was NOT cold.

Scat: Whatever.

Morag: Are you jealous?

Scat: Whatever.

Morag: You child.

Scat: YOU fucking child. How DARE you.

Morag: This is starting to get a little tedious now.
CAPITALS and all.
You know what I meant.

Scat: You want me to blog about you? Fine, I’ll blog about you, right down to this exchange here if that’s what you want.
I did not! Not for sure.

Morag: I’m past caring frankly. Blog it all, blog none of it. It’s entirely up to you.

Scat: I love you.

Morag: Excuse me?

Scat: Nothing. I didn’t say anything.

Morag: You’re the weirdest person I’ve ever met.

Scat: Are you sure you don’t want to spend the weekend with me? I really want to spend the weekend with you.

Morag: Oh, Stan I can’t now. I’ve promised my friend we’d do something.

Scat: OK, OK.

Morag: I’ll see you next week though, if you’re up for it. I want to see Somers Town with you.

Scat: OK, that’ll be great.

Morag: Have a good weekend then. Is Keith about?

Scat: Nah, he’s off to help his dad move. I’m looking after next door's Smudge. And I think I’m going to go and see my dad.
It’s Dad Weekend in fact. How odd.

Morag: Oh God yeah, I really hope that goes well.

Scat: Thanks.

Morag: OK, I better get going. I’ll speak to you on Monday.

Scat: OK, have fun.

Morag: I'm sorry I was such a cow earlier.

Scat: I'm sorry too.
Bye bye.
xxx

Morag: Bye Stan.
x

...

Comment Whoring :: How do you cope with jealousy?



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Monday, 29 September 2008

Monday Miscellany :: Missing

Last night I watched a programme called The World Strictest Parents. The title was a complete misnomer, tabloid tosh, designed to pull in plebs like me.

The programme featured two ostensibly awful teenagers – Charlotte and Sam – who were sent to Jamaica to live for a week with the Roses, a good Christian family who believe in Jesus, discipline and mucking in together. In reality, denied the opportunity to beat the English children as they obviously wanted to, the Roses weren’t really that strict at all. But that’s not really what the programme was about. It was more about what happens to teenagers when they’re taken out of their comfort zone (I hate that term) and given a taste of a very different lifestyle.

Both of them quickly learned to appreciate what they have. Most importantly, both of them quickly learned to appreciate their families.

At the end of the programme, they returned home to their families and the boy, Sam, a ginger who had previously been outwardly hideous to his mother, hugged her with all of his might and repeatedly told her that he loved her.

I surprised myself by weeping openly like a giant scab.

It was marvellous.

But then, I am a big girl’s blouse at the moment, and rather prone to bouts of debilitating self-indulgence.

What I should do of course is stuff my fist in my weeping maw and – much like those spoilt whining adolescents – realise how lucky I am.

Speaking of which, I recently discovered an astonishing blog, of which I have only, shamefully, read a small part. I started reading it from the beginning a couple of weeks and it made me laugh and cry in record time.

This, I thought, is exactly what writing is all about. Actually, this is what life is all about.

I’m talking about Alright Tit, which is a blog about what to do when life throws something hideous in your face. And this is not just something as trivial as an ugly mug and a pair of loveless parents. This is serious.

Basically, when Lisa Lynch was diagnosed with breast cancer, she decided to fight it, and she decided to write it. Thankfully she’s a glorious writer, and a fantastic fighter. And when real tragedy one day comes into my life, I hope I can handle it with such astonishing grace, aplomb and humour.

Read her blog at once. It starts here, with an apology.

I shall be reading the rest of it next week.

Also worth a visit is this guide to inter-gender communication. It doesn’t always hit the mark but there are some golden moments.

...

Finally, I have a question:

If you had to track someone down – someone no one in your family had heard of for almost 30 years and who, let's face it, could very well be dead – how would you go about it?

Thoughts in the comments, please.

Thanks.



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The Morag Situation #1 :: Why Don’t You Blog About Me?

Three weeks ago...

Morag: Why don’t you blog about me?

Scat: Eh? I do.
I so do.

Morag: Not really.

Scat: Oh. Well, I guess maybe I don’t really want to.

Morag: How come?

Scat: Dunno really.
Maybe I don’t think it would be fair on you.

Morag: What am I, six? You think I can’t handle it?

Scat: It isn’t that.

Morag: What is it then?
So?

Scat: I just don’t… it’s a bit too personal isn’t it?

Morag: What – so you’ll write about a cat sucking you off but you won't write about your life with – with whatever I am?

Scat: My special lady?

Morag: Whatever I am.

Scat: First of all, that cat didn’t ‘suck me off’, as you so charmingly put it.
Secondly, I guess some bits of my life I want to keep to myself if that’s alright.

Morag: But I want you to blog about me.

Scat: Why?

Morag: Because I’m part of your life, you fucker.

Scat: So it’s all about your ego really?

Morag: Pffft. You’re so difficult sometimes.
Why are you so difficult?

Scat: I’m just trying to understand.

Morag: I think your public want to hear about me.

Scat: I think you’re insane.

Morag: Seriously though, why don’t you want to? I don’t understand.

Scat: I don’t know. Maybe I like you too much.

Morag: Awww.
That’s crap.

Scat: Is it?

Morag: Isn’t it?

Scat: Yeah, OK. It’s crap.

Morag: You’re cold.

Scat: I am NOT cold. I am probably the warmest person you will ever meet.
I’ll blog about you when you do something interesting. How’s that?

Morag: Cold.

Scat: Mmmmwah.


Two weeks ago…

Morag: Anyway, I want to ask you something.

Scat: Ask away.

Morag: I just want to know how this is working out for you.
In your opinion.

Scat: What are we talking about?

Morag: Me. You. Us. Our “relationship”.
Are you happy with it?

Scat: How’s it working out for me? I’m happy, yeah. Thanks for asking.
What about you?

[Time passes.]

Your silence is speaking volumes. Are you not happy?

Morag: Yeah.

Scat: Yeah you’re happy or yeah you’re not happy?

Morag: Happy.

Scat: Hmm. That ‘happy’ is sitting there on my screen like an empty pill bottle on a hotel bed.

[Time passes.]

Hello?

Morag: I’m thinking I might move back to London.

Scat: Really? But you love Brighton.
How come?

Morag: I know but it’s like, what am I doing here?
I need to start thinking about my career.
A career.
Something.
I need to start thinking about the rest of my life.

Scat: Shit, man. Sounds serious.

Morag: Well it should be serious shouldn’t it?

Scat: I don’t know. Should it?

Morag: Of course it fucking should!
Jesus.

Scat: OK, OK.
So move to London.

Morag: Well what about you?

Scat: I already live in London.

Morag: That’s not what I mean.
I mean, what are you going to do with your life?
You’re not getting any younger, you know.

Scat: You’re rather inquisitive for a fuck buddy.

Morag: Cock.
I care about you, for fuck sake!
I care about you and I hate to see you wasting your life!

Scat: I didn’t know I was wasting my life!
I thought I was having more fun than I’ve ever had before.
I thought I was having The Time Of My Life in fact.
At least I was before this conversation started.

[Time passes.]

Hello?

[Time passes.]

Are you ignoring me now?

Morag: I thought you were supposed to be looking for love?

Scat: Sigh.
I am looking for love.

Morag: Oh alright then. So you’re looking for love, but you’re perfectly happy with us carrying on the way we are.
It doesn’t make sense.

Scat: But that’s like saying, OK, I really want to go to Mauritius but I can’t afford it this year, therefore I’m going to stay at home, even though I’m being offered this fantastic trip to Torremolinos. Of course I’m not – I’m going to go to Torremolinos and have myself a helluva time.

Morag: So I’m just a second-rate Spanish holiday to you, am I?

Scat: I could’ve picked Blackpool. You should think yourself lucky.
And you’re deliberately missing the point.
I have a great time with you. That’s what I was saying.
Look, I don’t know what’s going on here.
If you want to end it, you should just say so.
I don’t know why I’m suddenly in a big flap here trying to defend myself.
I don’t know what I’ve done wrong.

Morag: You're the lucky one you didn't pick Blackpool.
I think you’re the one missing the point too.
I don’t want to end it. That’s not what I’m saying.

Scat: What are you saying? Help me out here.

Morag: I’m saying that I’ve started to feel recently that our “relationship” as it stands is not really enough for me.

Scat: Well, I offered you “more” months ago.

Morag: But I didn’t want it then.

Scat: Oh well.

Morag: Oh well what?

Scat: Timing.

Morag: That’s all you’ve got to say, is it? Timing.

Scat: Well what do you want me to say?

Morag: If I have to spell it out, I’m not so sure I even want you to say it anymore.
So?

Scat: Well, is that all you’ve got to say?
I’ve got my pride you know.

Morag: What’s that got to do with anything?

Scat: Well, I’m just saying, when we first met, I wanted to be with you, to go out with you, whatever, and you turned me down. Now you’re saying you want more – I presume you mean with me but you’re not really being explicit enough for me to be sure – and I don’t know how you expect me to feel.
I don’t know how I do feel.
You can’t just pick me up and put me down like a cat playing with a crisp bag.
It’s not fair.

Morag: Oh fair schmair. You’re like a fucking child sometimes. I tell you what, I’ll make it easy for you.
Fuck your childish pride and fuck you. OK? Done.

Morag is offline. Messages you send will be delivered when Morag comes online.



Last week...

Scat: So. I’m going to blog about you. I’ve just send you an email. Tell me what you think. Obviously I won’t post it if you feel you’ve been misrepresented.

[Time passes.]

Are you there?

Morag: I’m reading. Hold on.

Scat: OK.

Morag: I sound like a buck-toothed harpy.

Scat: GoogleChat never lies.

Morag: Shite.
You’ve censored me!

Scat: Hardly. A bit of salient editing. It’s hardly censorship.

Morag: Where’s the stuff about [CENSORED] then? If you’re including the stuff about [CENSORED] then you surely have to include the stuff about [CENSORED].

Scat: Oh, God. Really?

Morag: Fuck yeah. If something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right. Put it back in. I insist.

Scat: OK. I'll put it in later though. I’m going to chop it up and move it around. Like Pulp Fiction.
I reckon I can get a week’s worth of stuff out of it.
This stuff writes itself...



Comment Whoring :: So, what are you wearing?



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Friday, 26 September 2008

Feedback Friday :: Things Change

Being for the period 12th - 25th September…


bulk :: 16st 1
cigarettes smoked :: 0
alcohol taken :: 6 bottles of wine
gym visits :: 7
apples eaten :: 23
bananas eaten :: 12
kilos of spinach eaten :: 2
biscuits eaten :: 2 packets of chocolate Hob Nobs (oops)
milk drunk :: 10 pints (semi-skimmed)
blogs I want to write :: 1 (This one. I refuse to believe this is really written by the Honey Monster. I want the job. They could pay me in Sugar Puffs.)
emotional maelstroms :: 2


After the Carnival of Shame that was last week, I have some catching up to do with the feedback.

Where to start? Ah, yes, the ladies...

Things have gone awry with Morag and I. We’re still buddies of course. We just don’t fuck anymore. There’ll be more about this on Monday.

I can’t pretend not to be upset about it. Actually I can. I did pretend just the other day. But it’s useless. It’s a tissue. (Bless me.) Transparent as a teenage boy. I am upset about it. I’m upset at how it came about. I’m upset at how easily it could have been different. I’m upset at what’s going to happen next. Because it’s screamingly obvious.

Anyway, Monday, Monday. Morag Monday.

Unfortunately, there is more. Upheaval, that is. I mean, I know that change is what life is all about, but I really wouldn’t mind a bit of stability for once; a bit of constancy. Emotional constancy if nothing else.

But anyway. Last weekend. It wasn’t all self-pity and kitten-play. I also went to visit my dad for the first time in a very long time. And it was weird. It was very weird. Mostly it was weird because it was like meeting a different man. He is - as they say - a shadow of his former self. This however, is a good thing. He is not the man he used to be and thank fuck for that because the man he used to be was an utter shit.

There is, unsurprisingly, a great deal to be said about the whole business, not least because my father told me things that I never knew, things which if they are true, change everything and must be acted upon. But before I write about it here I must go over the whole thing myself – my childhood, my parents, the faults they filled me up with, the screens they had me build (I mentioned I’m reading Families and How to Survive Them; it’s helping me to understand). Plus I have to figure out what I think about the new information.

I’m all at sixes and sevens to be honest. (What a peculiar expression that is. I like it.)

Everything else seems kind of trivial by comparison. I’m still going to the gym, still eating a lot of fruit and vegetables (mostly spinach), still giving in to the occasional Hob Nob binge, still drinking too much wine. My weight is still inching in the right direction, but some of the fat is slowly being replaced by muscle, which is nice and appeals to my (perhaps surprisingly acute) sense of vanity.

Speaking of spinach, spinach is my new thing. What I tend to do is this: I empty a 250g packet of the stuff into a massive pan and then I pour boiling water over it. It’s done in about a minute. Maybe less. Then I get rid of as much of the water as I can and I pour the mushrooms I’ve been frying in olive oil and chilli all over the spinach. Then, if I’m feeling particularly deserving, I sprinkle some grated cheese over the top. It’s damn good, I tell you.

This is my life.

In other news, my piles are petering out. The pain has stopped completely, which is a godsend, but there is still occasionally quite a lot of blood. Sometimes it’s a shock to look down into the bowl after what has been an ostensibly smooth movement and observe what looks like the aftermath of a particularly grisly murder. Sometimes I can see the blood dripping slowly from my back door, splashing into the mess beneath. Sometimes I think it would be best not to talk about these things in public, but then I think, if people didn’t talk about these things, we’d still be living in the Dark Ages. Sometimes I think we are still living in the Dark Ages. Sometimes I think I think too much. Sometimes I don’t.

Speaking of medical matters, the stomach pain stopped on 7th September. No reason that I can think of. It was really bad on the Saturday and then it stopped. So I didn’t go back to the doctor. I didn’t want to tempt fate.

What else?

Nothing else.

Time to get on. Things to do.

Have a great weekend. What are you doing by the way? Anything interesting?



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Thursday, 25 September 2008

Mumbleweeds For The Journey :: Oxygen

You may know this and know it well. Bully for you. Just in case you don’t though, this is a song that just made me weep in the bath. Wine helps, but still. Read it first:


I wanna be better than oxygen, so you can breathe when you're drowning and weak in the knees. I wanna speak louder than Ritalin, for all the children who think that they've got a disease. I wanna be cooler than TV, for all the kids that are wondering what they're going to be. We can be stronger than bombs if you're singing along and you know that you really believe. We can be richer than industry, as long as we know that there's things that we don't really need. We can speak louder than ignorance, ‘cause we speak in silence every time our eyes meet.

On and on, and on it goes. The world it just keeps spinning, until I’m dizzy, time to breathe... so close my eyes and start again anew.

I wanna see through all the lies of society, to the reality... happiness is at stake. I wanna hold up my head with dignity, proud of a life where to give means more than to take. I wanna live beyond the modern mentality where paper is all that you're really taught to create. Do you remember the forgotten America? Justice, equality, freedom to every race? Just need to get past all the lies and hypocrisy, make up and hair to the truth behind every face, that look around to all the people you see... how many of them are happy and free? I know it sounds like a dream, but it's the only thing that can get me to sleep at night. I know it's hard to believe, but it's easy to see that something here isn't right. I know the future looks dark, but it's there that the kids of today must carry the light.

On and on, and on it goes. The world it just keeps spinning, until I’m dizzy, time to breathe... so close my eyes and start again anew.

If I’m afraid to catch a dream, I weave your baskets and I’ll float them down the river stream. Each one I weave with words I speak, to carry love to your relief.


Then I go and spoil it all by watching the video and realising that Willy Mason is actually about 11 years old. How depressing. Another young person with far too much talent.

Fucker.

Now listen:



Don't know why the last bit isn't on the video. The coda. Is it a coda? I don't know. I'm drunk. There's quite a bit missing though, including the first verse all over again. Probably 'cause the video was shot for $20. Good for him.

Fucker.

Comment Whoring :: Can you recommend a song with lyrics as good as that one? Preferably one I haven’t heard before. I know you don’t know what I’ve heard before, so you’ll just have to take a chance. Oh, go on. I'll give you a fiver if you come up trumps. And head. Glorious head.

Thanks.



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Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Smudge (Updated)

Donna, first and foremost, is very attractive. She lives next door. Keith thinks she might be a nymphomaniac but I believe this is based on the fact that Keith wants her to be a nymphomaniac, or at least he used to. Now he does not concern himself with such things. Now he has Tilly.

Donna has an eight-month-old kitten, white all over, but with a black smudge on her forehead. The kitten’s name, appropriately enough, is Smudge. Donna also has an 80-year-old father, also white all over, but with a head full of Alzheimer’s. I don’t know what his name is. Last week – quite forgetting that he already had more than enough on his plate with his Alzheimer’s – Donna’s dad went and had a stroke. He died apparently, but only for a very short while. Then he came back to life. Imagine that. Donna thinks he’s hanging on to say goodbye to her and her siblings. And so, last Thursday, she drove to Devon to say goodbye to her father.

I learned all this on Wednesday evening, when Donna popped by to ask Keith if he wouldn’t mind nipping next door once a day to feed Smudge. Unfortunately, Keith wasn’t home, so I’m afraid I had to take charge. I said there was absolutely no question of either Keith or me nipping next door to feed Smudge. ‘No way,’ I said. ‘Smudge must move in here.’

And so for the past six days, I've had a house guest.

If Dudley the Landlord finds out of course, there will be blood. But thankfully (thanks in fact, to Destiny), Dudley the Landlord is on holiday till next weekend, and when the landlord’s away, the cat will stay.

So for most of the last week, when I haven’t been researching stuff for some fucker with a book deal, I’ve been playing with Smudge, and making little films of her madness to send to You’ve Been Framed. Fingers crossed.

The timing has been perfect, as Smudge’s presence has filled a bit of a gap created by Keith buggering off to help his dad move house, and Morag buggering off to have sex with lots of other people (or something like that – whatever – I really could not care less – do you hear me? Couldn’t give a fuck.)

I love Smudge though.

Here she is snoozing...



Here she is in massive close-up...



Here she is impersonating some ancient bridge keeper from some medieval romp. 'Who would cross the Bridge of Death must answer me these questions three, 'ere the other side he see.'...



And here she is relaxing in the bath, after chasing a rolled-up crisp bag around for like, hours...



Sweet Smudge.

Donna's coming back from Devon this evening. She did get to say goodbye to her dad. He was buried on Sunday.

Of course, if she is a nymphomaniac, I'm thinking the grief might, you know, set her off. Is that wrong of me? I've bought some nice wine. I may even put on some after shave.

Am I a ghoul?

Comment query :: Have you ever taken advantage of someone's grief/sadness/nymphomania/emotional midgetry to have your evil way with them? Come on, there's no shame in it.

...

Update :: So. Donna got back around 9 last night. She came to collect Smudge. She stayed for a glass of wine.

She’s not a nymphomaniac. Or if she is, she is a fussy one; a nymphomaniac of some discernment.

She misses her dad. Turns out his name was Bernie.

I miss Smudge.

And Morag. I miss Morag too.



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Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Keith's Talent

The first time I realised that Keith had proper talent was when he made me a birthday card for my 18th. It was an ink and watercolour depiction of the front cover of a novel I would never write. The novel was called Irresistible. It was about an ugly man who one day wakes up and – against all odds – finds that he is utterly irresistible to all women. I did manage to write a couple of scenes and it was the most hideously embarrassing teenage wish fulfilment imaginable, thankfully long destroyed.

The cover on my card featured a brooding, saturnine version of me surrounded by what can only be described as a bevy of buxom beauties, all fawning all over me, groping me, licking me, breathing me in. It was magnificent. Scantily clad they were. All adoring, imploring and swooning. I actually pleasured myself once or twice looking at that card. (I've never admitted that before.) I was blown away by it and I showed my gratitude by a) never writing the novel, and b) spilling half a bottle of red wine all over the card. Klutz. I hated myself for some time for that.

After that card, however, Keith rather got off the horse. Aside from stoned doodles and the occasional caricature as a gift, he didn't really do anything much for years. Every now and then he would say, ‘I really need to start doing some art’, but then he’d get another job making a fake forest for an advert or decorating a drug den for a pop video and all of his creative juice seemed to get channelled into that.

Then earlier this year his hands began inexplicably to shake and he was diagnosed as having MS. Then they found a shadow in his brain which turned out to be an aneurysm.

It might seem a strange thing to say but I’m beginning to think that this was the best thing ever to happen to him.

In the last six months, his output has increased a hundredfold. A magazine has even paid for the privilege of publishing his work and he’s taken on a couple of private commissions. He’s even started turning down proper work to devote more time to his own stuff. (Take that, toads!)

This makes me really happy. Although I know that Keith is great at his job (I know because he’s always telling me), let’s face it, it’s still a job. Whereas his own artwork is so much more than that. It’s a calling.

All of which is by way of introduction to Keith’s latest piece of art, which I think is up there with his best. And I’m not just saying that because it features another flattering version of me.

It’s based on Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy by David Hockney.



Keith’s version is here: Keith and Stan and the Ghost of Pablo. Check it out.

Neat huh?

There are three things I would say about his representation of me however.

1) it’s at least four stone too light
2) it’s at least 35% too handsome
3) it’s at least 6.66% too evil

I love it. David Hockney is a lucky guy.

So, to keep the interactivity going - I know, I know, I'm like a cheesy DJ - tell me, has anyone ever drawn a portrait or caricature of you? Was it any good? Or were you bloody annoyed? Leave your answers, or anything else you have stored up in your heart, in the comments.

Thanks.



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Monday, 22 September 2008

Shame Week Bonus :: What’s the Stupidest Thing You’ve Ever Done?

A few years ago, I had a television in my sleeping quarters. I don't recommend it. I watched a lot of films at night. And missed a lot of days. Anyhow, one day, prompted by the sudden smell of burning tuna omelette coming from the kitchen, I bolted from my bedroom in a blind and stupid panic, and in my careless passage from one room to the other, my foot got entangled in the cable. Rather than bring the TV crashing down from the bedside table on which it sat however, the cable merely snapped where it met the plug – a clean break, leaving the naked plug sitting in the socket, a tiny stump of broken wire and plastic jutting from its anus.

Returning from my culinary disaster with screwdriver in hand, I set about reconnecting the plug to the cable. Generally, when it comes to wiring plugs, I’m a bit of a klutz and I invariably make some kind of elementary mistake, connecting the earth to the neutral or the neutral to the live, or not quite managing to make everything connect, and generally I have to rewire it. Especially when there are three wires as opposed to just two. Three, frankly, is two too many. So this time I thought I’d check I’d done it right before screwing the whole thing back together again.

So, without reattaching the plastic cover, I pushed the plug into the wall with the palm of my left hand.

What a strange, surprising sensation!

I wasn’t exactly thrown across the room, but the instinctive recoil when the electricity zunked into my hand was considerable enough for me to move a couple of feet.

I tingled.

I guess I could have died.

But I didn’t. And shall I tell you why?

Quite simply, because God hasn’t finished with me yet.

Nah, just kidding. It’s dumb luck. I could easily have died. People have died for a lot less.

I am an idiot.

...

So. What’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever done? Leave your most moronic moments in the comments and sit back in shame as the internet shakes its head and despairs.

Thanks.



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Friday, 19 September 2008

Shame Week #5 :: What’s the Worst Thing You’ve Ever Done On a Date?

I have a confession to make. Actually, a number of confessions. I’m not actually ashamed of killing a mouse with a table tennis bat. Neither am I ashamed of vomiting in Marie’s duffle hood and hair. Nor pretending I had a girlfriend or stealing an illustrated bible. If I’m honest, I’m actually rather (now not so secretly) proud of all of those things. I think they show character. A bit of spunk. I am however, ashamed of this next thing. Heartily so. I’m also a little apprehensive about telling it. That’s why I left it till last. I think you’ll be rather disappointed in me. I’m certainly disappointed in myself.

...

Grace was a friend of Avril, the first woman I ever got intimate with. Apparently I‘d met her before our date, once, but I was having trouble remembering. Avril was on the phone, reminding me.

‘Tall girl with red hair,’ she said. ‘Very striking.’

‘Did I like her?’ I asked, although frankly, if I had to ask, the chances are I probably didn’t.

‘I don’t know,’ replied Avril. ‘She liked you though. That should be enough, surely.’

Avril was matchmaking.

‘Just go out for a drink with her,’ she urged. ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’

‘I dunno,’ I replied. ‘Murder?’

‘Oh, she’s not going to murder you, Stan. For fuck’s sake. It’ll just be a drink. It’s no big deal. Go on. I bet you’re desperate. I bet you haven’t had sex since the last time we did it, have you?’

‘You’d be surprised,’ I said. I don’t know whether it was because I’d paused slightly too long or just because Avril knew me quite well.

‘I’d be amazed,’ she said, and she laughed her golden, throaty laugh.



Digression

There are certain things in this life which I really, really hate. For example, I hate being judged by the way that I look.

I hate it when people dismiss me because of how I look, carelessly overlooking any other qualities I might have.

I hate shallow people.

I hate rude people.

I hate cowards.

And I hate hypocrites.



Grace was sorry she was late. I told her it didn’t matter. And it didn’t. It was only five minutes after all. However, what did matter, apparently, was how she looked.

Avril had described her as tall with red hair. This was a little inaccurate. Actually it wasn’t exactly inaccurate. It was just misleading. She was tall, yes. But she was also wide. Very wide. She did have red hair too, roughly. It would have been slightly more accurate however, to describe it as copper-coloured, and insanely frizzy. She was certainly striking though. She reminded me of an enormous mid-op transsexual with a terrifying, bright ginger afro.

The fact is, from the moment she sat down opposite me, I knew there wasn’t a chance in hell of our date working out.

The fact is, I didn’t fancy her. At all.

The fact is, I thought she was hideously ugly.

I know. Me. With my reputation.

If she had felt the same about me, everything would have been a piece of cake. But she didn’t. It would also have been easier if we hadn’t got on at all, if we’d had absolutely nothing in common. But unfortunately this wasn't the case either. On the contrary, we got on fine. She was intelligent. She read books. She was doing an MA on something to do with Jane Austen. She liked cats. The one thing that might mitigate my overriding desire to flee from her presence was that she seemed, how can I put this, slightly psychologically delicate.

First up, she was a bit full on. I swear it’s not just that I have Groucho Marx syndrome and I’m appalled by anyone offering me membership to their club, but I do feel slightly uncomfortable in the face of unremitting compliments. Grace seemed to think I was wonderful, and after 30 minutes of conversation, she was already plotting our life together.

‘People like us need to stick together,’ she said at one stage.

‘People like us?’ I queried. ‘What are we like?’

‘Well, you know. You’re no George Clooney,’ she said. ‘And I’m no Catherine Zeta Jones.’

‘Hmmm,’ I said. ‘I suppose not.’

‘I want to have kids,’ she said.

If I’d been drinking at that point, I might very well have showered her in Guinness foam. But I wasn’t. In fact, I’d finished my first pint. I ignored her rather previous revelation and asked her if she’d like another drink.

‘No, I’ll get these,’ she said. ‘Same again?’ And she made her way to the bar.

I had to get out of there. I decided to tell her when she came back from the bar. It wasn’t going to work out. I’d tell her so. It'd be fine.

‘What are you doing next Friday?’ she said, placing another Guinness in front of me.

‘I don’t know,’ I said, my expression surely betraying me. ‘Why do you ask?’



Digression

I realise this might seem rather like Ian Huntley wagging a disapproving finger at Ian Brady, but Grace really was horribly overweight. I feel rotten saying that, I really do, but I believe I can justify it to a certain extent. I am and always have been repulsed by my own body fat. I stand in front of the mirror clutching at my buttocks and scowling, grabbing my belly and slapping my moobs and spitting vile rebukes at myself. So if I’m repulsed by my own fat, surely I’ve every right to be repulsed by other people’s?



‘I’m having a few people for dinner on Saturday.’ That’s how she phrased it. In such a way that even if she hadn't been as large as she was, it would automatically have occurred to anyone with a sense of humour to make some kind of joke about cannibalism. I can’t remember exactly what I said, but it was something about admiring a woman with a healthy appetite. I thought I was being rather witty but Grace did not. Her face immediately crumpled.

‘Why do you want to hurt me?’ she said.

I was mortified. I knew it was an odd reaction to a fairly inoffensive comment, but still, I reacted. ‘I don’t!’ I cried. ‘Honestly, that’s the last thing I want.’

She smiled a small smile. ‘OK,’ she said. ‘So you’ll come?’

I started shaking my head. ‘Look,’ I said. ‘I don’t think I should.’ I forced myself to speak the next sentence, sure that it would bring about an end to the evening. ‘I’m not sure this is going to work out,’ I said. ‘I’m really sorry.’

Yeah. That would do it.

‘Don’t you like me?’ she said, all plaintive and furrowed. ‘I thought we were getting on.’

‘We are!’ I protested, slightly too much. ‘We’re getting on great.’

‘Phew!’ she said. ‘That’s a relief. God. I thought for a second you were going to say you didn’t want to see me again.’

‘Oh…’

I was incapable of finishing my sentence.

She was nodding at me, smiling. ‘I really like you,’ she said. I smiled back. It was Marwood’s smile in Withnail and I when he has no idea how to cope with Uncle Monty’s advances.



‘I’ve just got to pop to the loo,’ she said. ‘Don’t go anywhere.’

‘I won’t,’ I said.

As soon as she was gone, I took a pen from my pocket and searched around frantically for a piece of paper. Finding none I picked up a beermat and scribbled on it. ‘Sorry. Had to go.’ I placed the beermat next to her drink and I walked swiftly and decisively out of the pub. I didn’t look back.

Her bag and coat were left untended on her chair. I took the risk that no one would steal them.

All the way home, I imagined her reaction on returning from the toilet. She’d see that I was not sitting at the table. She’d look to the bar, around the rest of the pub. She’d sit down and wait. Eventually she’d see the beermat. She'd read the note.

I couldn’t believe what I’d done. But I’d definitely done it.

The next morning I got a call from an incredibly pissed off Avril. Grace had just left her house. ‘She was crying her eyes out all night,’ she said. ‘What the fuck do you think you were playing at?’

I had no excuse. It was cowardly. And it was incredibly mean. And I should have known better. I did know better. I knew much better.

Avril swore a lot, and when I wouldn’t assure her that I’d do everything I could to make it up to Grace, she hung up on me.

We haven’t spoken since.

...

I enjoyed writing this week’s other posts because, as I said earlier, I wasn't really ashamed of any of the things described in them. However, I didn’t enjoy writing this one.

This is probably the one I needed to write.



I’m sorry if I’ve gone down in your estimations. I’m sorry for going down in my own. If you can bring yourself to, please leave your worst date behaviour in the comments.

Feedback Friday is away. It’s not speaking to me.

Have a good weekend.



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Thursday, 18 September 2008

Shame Week #4 :: What’s the biggest thing you’ve ever killed?

We were playing table tennis, at which – incidentally – I excel. It wasn’t proper table tennis however. It was kitchen table tennis, with the flaps up, crappy bats, ugly nylon netting and heavy, practically flightless balls. There was Keith, me and Keith’s girlfriend at the time, Emily, an overly earnest girl with a slight lisp. I’m not entirely sure why but Emily always reminded me of a slightly itchy cardigan.

This was years ago.

We were in the living room of our old place in Dartford. It was winner stays on and frankly, I’d been on for some considerable time, when suddenly, a plump grey mouse darted out from beneath the sofa on which Emily sat patiently rolling a jazz cigarette.

I don’t know where the mouse came from and I don’t know where it imagined it was going. I only know it didn’t get there.

It was remarkable. Remarking on it later, Keith said that he’d never seen me move so fast. I was a mouse-seeking missile, across the threadbare living room carpet in less than a second, my arm swinging into action as if I were swatting a fly, the cheap bat cracking the mouse’s skull like a spoon breaking the crown of a hard-boiled egg. Covered in fur. There was no blood. Just instant death.



A moment of silence followed, quickly replaced by Keith’s and then my own uproarious laughter.

Emily however, was less amused. ‘I can’t believe you just did that,’ she said.

‘I’m not sure I can believe it either,’ I said. ‘I was like a man possessed, wasn’t I?’ I was smiling, clearly pleased with myself.

Emily wasn't smiling.

‘Yeah, but it was vermin,’ said Keith. ‘It was liable to eat us out of house and home if you hadn’t stopped it in its tracks.’

Emily was shaking her head. ‘It had just as much right to life as you or I,’ she pointed out.

‘I guess,’ said Keith. ‘Still. It’s dead now. Your serve, Stan.’



Looking back on the kill as I lay in bed later that night, I decided that that was pretty much how I would like to go out. Like a popped light bulb. Like a slapped mosquito. Like an unwary mouse under a ping pong bat. No blood. No pain. No lingering illness. No slow decay.

Since then however, I’ve changed my mind. I’d now like to take life in any form at all for as long as I possibly can. (Cerebral liquefaction permitting.) One day I’m pretty sure I shall tell you what changed my mind.

In the meantime, RIP, my little mouse.



And you? What’s the biggest thing you’ve ever killed? Confess in the comments, please...

Your secret is safe with me.



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Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Shame Week #3 :: What’s the biggest thing you’ve ever stolen?

When I was 13 years old I made friends with Raymond Moulding, one of my comprehensive school’s lower-echelon bad boys. Ray for short. And he was short.

Ray lived in the next street from me and used to enjoy picking on me every few months or so while we were growing up, just to keep his hand in. Then one day I lost my temper, grabbed him by the throat and pushed him up against a brick wall.

The reason I lost my temper – if I may be allowed to digress for a moment – was because Ray had discovered a repugnant and to his mind hilarious new trick with which to torment me. This consisted of him holding his hand against his bottom, passing wind into his hand and then thrusting said hand into my unsuspecting face whilst spitting the words ‘’Ave a fart’ at me.

We were sitting on a wooden bench along one wall of the giant sports hall at school. A game of indoor cricket was in progress and we were waiting for our turn to bat. So naturally I was already fairly depressed. Imagine by what degree my mood worsened when with the words, ‘’Ave a fart’, I found Ray Moulding’s foetid hand pushing itself into my face.

I don’t actually remember if there was any malodour to speak of, but I was certainly repulsed by the concept, and just the very idea of having this ghastly bastard’s sweaty little mitt in my face. I was disgusted. No doubt this showed on my face, causing Ray to dissolve in a small burst of rancid giggling. My disgust mounted. I really didn’t want him to do it again.

He did it again.

Up went the hand. Out came the same line. ‘’Ave a fart.’ (It repulses me just to have to write it.) On came the giggles.

To my left was Alan Dowell, a school non-entity like myself. When Ray had recovered from the desperate amusement he was causing himself, he said, presumably to himself, or perhaps to the devils in his head, ‘He’s dying to laugh’ – meaning Dowell – ‘and he’s dying to cry’ – meaning me. And what made that such an unforgivable thing to say is that he was absolutely right. There were tears pricking at the backs of my eyes. I swore at him. He repeated my curse back at me in a mocking voice even more childish than my own.

Then, maybe thirty seconds later, he did it again. That time, something in me snapped and seconds later I found myself pinning him to the wall, my right fist raised behind my head, ready to smash his stupid, flinching and suddenly quite frightened little face to a miserable pulp. But I didn’t throw the punch. I didn’t have it in me.

Whether it was the fact that I’d finally retaliated, or the fact that I’d shown some sense of restraint or control or whatever he imagined I was showing, I never discovered, but something in that moment made Ray decide that we would be friends. Not great friends, not by a long chalk, and not lifelong friends, but friends nonetheless. And the part of me that was desperate for any kind of friendship didn’t object.

For the most part, Ray’s and my friendship consisted of us playing darts in his bedroom. But also, and finally getting round to the point, it also consisted of going into the town centre, and nicking stuff from shops. Ray had been taught how to nick stuff by his older brother, Nick. Ray in turn passed on the arcane knowledge to me.

‘Pick up two things,’ he said. ‘Put one back.’

I lost my virginity in a local department store which at the time had a small U-shaped sweet section which was a shoplifter’s paradise. You’d walk in at one end, shuffle down the narrow aisle filling your pockets with all kind of goodies, then when you’d turned left twice, you’d reach the day-dreaming checkout girl and pay for a single packet of Polos. Then you’d sashay out into the street trying not to drop anything, take the first left into the nearest backstreet and stockpile your booty. I still remember vividly the feeling of joy when, after one particularly audacious haul, I slid a monstrously large Toblerone out of my sleeve and pulled a Terry’s Jelly Lemon out of the front of my underpants.

So that’s how it started. At first it was me and Ray nicking sweets. But I got a taste for it, so I started to branch out on my own.

After sweets came stationery. I’ve always absolutely adored stationery. Before I started nicking it, I used to just look at it in WHSmith and occasionally treat myself to a pen. When I started nicking I had no need to show such restraint. And what I was surprised to discover was that stationery nicked was twice as sweet as stationery bought.

It was also during this period that I discovered the full extent of how invisible I was. I was just the cowering, self-conscious ugly kid. I wasn’t particularly threatening. I clearly wasn’t going to cause any violence or anything horribly untoward. I was merely an unfortunate retinal sensation which was best, and quite easily, avoided. People either averted their eyes or simply looked through me. And I found I could get away with quite a lot.

From stationery I graduated to pocket-sized toys and games - Top Trumps were especially easy - and from there it was a simple and natural progression to books. Mostly I stole paperbacks I had absolutely no interest in reading. It was odd. Indeed, by the end of my petty criminal career, I was prone to increasingly inexplicable crimes. Anything that caught my eye would find its way up my sleeve or jumper, into my pockets or pants. A wind-up Woodstock. Juggling balls. Novelty pens. Horror novels. I was a regular little magpie, and I became convinced that I had something of a talent for it. Consequently, it became a habit.

Then one day, after having stolen an autograph book from the very same department store where the whole thing had kicked off around eight months earlier, I was sashaying down the street outside of the store, as per my MO, when I heard footsteps behind me. ‘Wouldn’t it be funny,’ I thought to myself, ‘if I suddenly felt a hand on my shoulder.’ Suddenly I felt a hand on my shoulder. I stopped and turned to face a tall blonde man who was already reaching into my inside pocket and pulling out the autograph book I’d just taken from his employers’ shop. He then slid one hand under my arm and led me back into the shop. I believe he may have used the words, ‘What have we here?’ and ‘I think you’d better come with me’, but equally, I may just have heard them on the telly.

What I have no doubt about however, is that I said, in a tiny, suddenly petrified voice, ‘What will happen?’ and he repeated it back to me, not mocking me, just echoing, stalling, playing for time. It wasn't his job to converse.

I couldn’t believe it was happening. Other shoppers stared.

I was led into a small back room where a middle-aged woman sat at a table with a phone and some papers in an untidy pile. The store detective sat me down at the table, handed over the evidence to the middle-aged woman and left us to it.

She took down my details. My name, my address, my telephone number. She told me she would have to call the police. As I offered to pay for the autograph book, I started snivelling. Couldn't stop. ‘You should have thought of that before,’ she said. I offered to pay double. She said that wouldn't be possible.

She asked me if I’d ever stolen anything before. I said I hadn’t. She asked me if anyone had ever stolen anything from me. I said that they had. She asked me how that felt. I told her it felt awful, but I was just going through the motions, telling her what I knew she wanted to hear, all the while willing her not to call the police.

‘It’s not nice, is it?’ she repeated.

I shook my head, staring down at the floor.

‘So why did you do it?’

I told her that schoolfriends had pressured me into it. She nodded. She understood. She'd seen it a thousand times.

‘Alright then,’ she said. ‘I’m not going to call the police this time, as this is your first offence.’ I managed not to put my hands in the air and start cheering. I continued looking at the floor. ‘But I am going to telephone your parents.’

‘OK,’ I mumbled.

Score!

My dad answered the phone. It was a short exchange during which I ascertained that he was being his usual scintillating conversationalist.

‘You can go home now,’ I was told. ‘And don’t do it again.’

'I won't,' I said. 'I promise.'

On my way home, I wondered what kind of reception I would get. In the end it was exactly what I feared most: almost total disinterest. ‘Oh, here he is,’ said my mum when I walked through the front door. ‘McVicar.’

My mum was an idiot.

Then she said, ‘What did you get caught for, softarse?’ I didn’t say anything. I shrugged and went up to my room. Thinking about it now though, it was probably something to do with a craving for attention.

Now we come to the answer to the question. The biggest thing I ever stole was not that autograph book. No. The biggest thing I ever stole I stole probably half an hour before that from a different shop, a book shop. The biggest thing I ever stole – probably both in terms of size and value – was a beautiful, sumptuously illustrated, leatherbound bible.

I was a funny boy.

Over the years, as my faith shrivelled away to nothing at all and eventually turned in on itself, becoming a rather violent anti-faith, I came across the stolen bible on a number of occasions. Each time I had a powerful urge to tear it up and throw it away. Partly out of anger, partly out of guilt, partly just out of some weird religious hangover shame thing. But I never did. Not because it was The Bible. But because it was a Book.

That evening, I sat on my bed and took the bible out of my school bag. I flicked through it, found the Ten Commandments, rummaged in my booty drawer and dug out a highlighter pen and a shatterproof ruler I’d previously liberated from Woolies. I found the commandment I was after - Thou shalt not steal - and using the ruler and the very tip of the nib of the yellow highlighter pen, I painted it yellow and stared at it.

And I never, ever stole again.

Much.

Here endeth the lesson.

Amen.



And you? What’s the biggest thing you’ve ever stolen? Spill your shameful beans in the comments...

Thanks.



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Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Shame Week #2 :: What’s the biggest lie you’ve ever told?

This is tough. Not because I’m some paragon of honesty or anything like that. Although I am. I think it’s probably more my lack of real relationship experience which exempts me from most of the easiest of life’s big lies. For example, I’ve never been unfaithful to anyone. I’ve never said ‘I love you’ and not meant it. I’ve never said, ‘No, your bum looks absolutely fine in that’ when in reality it looks like a pair of colliding planets, not just in that but in anything.

Of course there are the dreary, petty lies that I used to tell at school when I realised that being late was nothing to be scared of; the stuff that was taken from real life but chronologically displaced. Like I had to wait in for the builders. Like I didn’t get to sleep till dawn because my parents were up all night fighting. Like my dad ate my alarm clock. But nothing remarkable. Nothing audacious. Not even a dead grandmother.

Oh, hold on.

I have it.



I was in year ten or eleven, so 14 or 15, I don’t remember which but I think the former. I was still being bullied fairly regularly, but my school life had settled down quite a bit and I had a few friends. Most of the friends I had however, and most of the friends I didn’t, were all growing up much faster than me. They had girlfriends for a start, and they had house parties. And every weekend they went to one another’s house parties and they drank vodka and they smoked dope and they danced to 2 Unlimited and felt each other up. Meanwhile I stayed at home listening to Leonard Cohen and writing poems about not having the courage to even contemplate suicide. At least not seriously. I did a lot of weeping.

It was also around that time that I started to fantasise about having a girlfriend. I really wanted one, you see. I mean, I really, really wanted one. So much so that I used to pretend that I had one. In fact, I used to pretend that it was children’s telly presenter Philippa Forrester. I used to imagine her lying on my bed as I lifted the dumbbells I’d made out of a broken broom handle and some old motor oil canisters filled with soil. I’d talk to her as she gazed up at me in awe. I’d laugh at her jokes and when she told me to put down my dumbbells and come and make love to her, I’d come over all shy. Then I’d gently lower myself onto the sad pillow of her body and I’d kiss it until I fell asleep covered in semen.

I was a sad case for sure, but I’m sure I wasn’t alone. Was I? Of course not.

Then, one day – God only knows what possessed me – I decided to take Philippa out into the real world. She’d have to change her name however. My school friends might not have been the brightest bulbs in the firmament, but even they might have had their suspicions if I’d claimed to have been going out with Philippa Forrester. So Philippa became Emma. My real life girlfriend. Only I didn’t want to have to tell people about Emma; I wanted them to discover her for themselves.

So what I did – and you’re only the second person I’ve ever told this to – what I did was to take hold of something like a square inch of my neck flesh with my thumb and forefinger of my right hand, and squeeze and twist it for all I was worth. It hurt. But no pain, no gain. That’s what they say. So I did it again. And again. And I carried on doing it until there was a mark on my neck, which in the right light, and to a gullible eye, could very easily appear as a passable, genuine love bite.

The next day at school I wore my Spurs scarf (I used to be into that sort of thing I’m afraid) and I affected a slightly self-conscious air, occasionally craning my neck to follow an imaginary crane fly in the hope that someone would notice my mark and jump to the desired conclusion.

‘Oi, Elbows!’ It was Neville Waterworth, low-key tormentor. ‘What the fuck are you wearing a scarf for? It’s the middle of summer.’ I shrugged, blushed, ignored. ‘Fucking ponce,’ he said, more or less good-naturedly. And that was that.

It wasn’t until the beginning of Physics just before lunch, when my neck crept out of my scarf sufficiently for Judith Taylor to notice and remark, ‘Elbows? Have you got a dirty neck?’

The story I concocted was that I’d met Emma one day on the bus to Sidcup. And why not? Well, I’ll tell you why not – because apparently it was utterly ridiculous. I had one particularly vocal unbeliever: Gus Hindmarsh. He gave me the third degree at lunchtime, cornered me in the corridor and wouldn’t let me go, him and a bunch of others from our registration class. Gus led the interrogation:

Gus: So what was the first thing she said to you?

Me: She just said hello. And she asked me if she could sit down next to me…

Gus: What’s her second name?

Me: Pissington-Bladderfuck. [I can’t really remember what I said, but whatever it was, it was repeated back to me by half a dozen incredulous voices as if it were every bit as unlikely as Pissington-Bladderfuck. I was really wishing I had left the girlfriend fantasy in the bedroom.]

Gus: What colour hair has she got?

Me: Just, brown.

Gus: Have you fingered her yet?

Kevin Body: How big are her tits?

‘Oh, leave him alone,’ said Judith Taylor, just as I was saying, ‘Look, I don’t have to tell you anything. I’m not answering questions like that.’

‘Have you watered the plants?’ asked Body, as per some asinine euphemism that was doing the rounds at the time.

‘Have you stained her rug?’ someone else chipped in.

‘Let me have a look at that neck,’ said Gus Hindmarsh, pulling my scarf away. ‘That looks like you’ve been at it with the Hoover.’

‘Oh, don’t be a cock,’ I said, which got a laugh and alleviated the tension for a second.

At which point Judith Taylor declared, ‘Good for you, Stan! Ignore these idiots. They’re probably just jealous.’ Whoops of derision from Gus et al. ‘I think it’s really sweet,’ she said. ‘It just goes to show, there’s someone for everyone,’ she added.

Then off she went to lunch, followed by Gus Hindmarsh, who now that I think about it was quite clearly in love with her. I loved her a bit myself after that day.

And that was that.

The love bite faded, and Emma faded along with it. I wasn’t important enough to face much more mockery about my imaginary girlfriend, so the lie died within a few days. In fact all that remained of Emma was a flash of shame every time I saw a bus to Sidcup. I still saw Philippa for a while afterwards however, and I took some solace form the fact that she really did care for me.

Oh, and whenever the subject of virginity came up for the next ten years, I lied about that too.

Sorry.



And you? What’s the biggest lie you’ve ever told? Leave your whoppers in the comments…

Thanks.



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Monday, 15 September 2008

Shame Week #1 :: What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done?

I was 18. I was a few months into my second attempt to get me some A Levels, after having dropped out the first time round. In my English Literature class there was a girl called Marie.

Marie had long, beyond shoulder-length, slightly wavy, jet-black hair, light blue eyes and the most dazzling mouth a human being ever had. She wore a black duffle coat. I had a debilitating crush on her. I adored her. I really adored her.

It was December and the one decent friend I had made, Kyle, who was considerably more popular than I was, had been invited out with a bunch of people from my class. He asked me if I’d like to come along. Marie would be there.

No one knew about my crush on Marie, but anyone who cared could have easily guessed. I was particularly bumbling and inhuman in her company. If I had ever dared speak, I would have stammered like a pneumatic drill. If I had ever dared catch her eye for more than a second, my brain would have eloped with my heart and I think I might very well have passed away from longing.

However, I was going through a stage of trying to force myself into difficult situations - which is how came to find myself at college in the first place - so I said yes.

I was living with Keith at the time in Dartford. On the night of the get-together, which was a Thursday, Keith’s Dad popped round to our house. I told him I was going out with some friends (a slight exaggeration) and I told him about Marie. ‘I feel sick,’ I told him. ‘I feel physically ill. I don’t think I can do it.' He rolled his eyes in good-natured mocking. 'I’m not going.’

I wonder how different my life would be now if I had stuck to my guns, or if Keith’s Dad had been a less caring person and had said nothing. Instead he gave me a little speech about missed opportunities. ‘You never know what might happen,’ he said. ‘You should only regret the things you do in life, never the things you don’t do,’ he said. ‘There is nothing worse than missed opportunity,’ he said. ‘Believe me. Come on, I’ll give you a lift. Drink some milk. It’ll settle your stomach.’

I drank half a pint of milk and took him up on his offer of a lift. He dropped me a few doors away from the pub and wished me good luck. I still felt sick with worry and shame and fear. As he drove off, I considered turning round and walking away. But I didn’t. I went into the pub and joined the group of around ten students who were all standing together in a large loose cluster. Kyle was there. Marie was there, wearing her duffle coat. I got myself a drink.

It was awful. They were most of them a year younger than me but they all had so much more confidence. I felt completely removed from them, like I was another species. They were from a species that chatted with ease, and laughed and joked and were perfectly comfortable with one another. I was from a species that shuffled around in the background, maybe even in another dimension, unable to think of anything, not a single damn thing I could say that might connect me to them.

At one point, a guy called John turned to me and attempted conversation. But he soon gave up because I was useless at it. I was still feeling nauseous too. Seriously so. I drank more lager. It would pass.

Marie was talking to two other girls whose names I can’t recall. I was loitering behind them, a really uncomfortable smile glued to my uncomfortable face, when Kyle took a break from enjoying himself and asked me how I was.

‘Fine,’ I said.

‘Are you sure?’ he asked, looking genuinely concerned. ‘You look really pale.’

‘I just feel a little….’

And then it happened.

It wasn’t exactly projectile vomiting, but it came out with quite a violent spurt. Kyle saw it coming and managed to hop back out of the way. Marie wasn’t so lucky. Most of it landed in the hood of her duffle coat, but some of it made it onto her head where it clung to her beautiful black hair like rancid clotted cream.

Amidst the gasps and emotional chaos of the next few moments, one wag – I believe his name was Nick – captioned the moment with the following words: ‘Premature ejaculation.’

That didn’t help.

On the plus side, I finally got to speak to Marie. ‘I’m so sorry,’ I said, milk sick on my breath and my face hotter than the sun. ‘I think I might have an ulcer.’

She didn’t say anything in response however. She couldn’t actually speak because her mouth – her gorgeous, sexy mouth – was still wide open in abject, absolute horror. Frozen in this portrait of disgust, her friends tentatively took hold of her arms and rushed her off to the toilet to clean her up.

By the time she came out again, I had shrugged off one or two feeble protests, ignored another heartless gag or two, and left.

What’s more, I never went back to college.

Ever.



Although this wasn't the last time I vomited on a woman - there was also this time - it was by far the most embarrassing. Plus it had far more important consequences. If it hadn't happened, for example, I might have stayed at college. I might have finished my studies and gone on to university. I might have met all kinds of people at university who might have loved me and nurtured me and encouraged me, and by now, I might have been King of the World. Or something. But never mind. I'm here. And I can't see a duffle coat without wincing.

...

So. What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done? Share your shame in the comments. Or if you fancy running with the shame, meme-style, and posting something on your own blog, then if you could let me know, that would be truly awesome.

Thanks.



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Your Children Aren’t Special. Mine Are.

There’s nothing worse than those ghastly parents always wittering on about their kids and how amazing they are when really they’re not that amazing at all, they’re just ordinary little blobs of meat learning how to be humans.

‘Oh, little Steve is so talented! Look at this picture he did with crayons. He’s only seven!’

‘No, he’s not talented. That picture is crap. An untalented four-year-old could do better. Stop it now. Steve is a moron.’

The reason I mention all this is because I find myself about to come over like a deluded parent, the only difference being, I’m not a parent, and I’m not deluded.

My friend Keith – who may well be the closest I ever get to a son – has ditched his old blog and started a new one. He’s taken with him the best of the art he’s done over the last five months and put it into one post at his new place, and I - for one - think it’s amazing. So I’m clucking over him like a proud parent and telling everyone about it. Awww. Little Keith is so talented! And I remember when he was wiping his own faeces on the wall. Actually that was only last week. Awww.

So. Look at this and tell me it’s not astonishing: NotKeith’s Greatest Hits April ’08 – September ’08.

Thank God for MS and aneurysms.



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Sunday, 14 September 2008

Making the Most of the Pain

Yesterday I came across a piece of old news, which - new to me - had me clutching at my face in abject embarrassment. I mention it now because tomorrow is Shame Week, and it seems appropriate. Apologies if it's old to you.


Watch the video here.


Good Lord. Surely, there is only one thing in the world worse than not winning an award, and that is thinking for a moment that you have. One can only hope that, as painful as that was for Tom Bullough, it was a thousand times more so for Mr Thomas. For obviously, it is with him that the shame must lie.

On his blog - in a post entitled A Glimpse of Hell - Tom Bullough wrote:


'Such a quick succession of euphoria, bewilderment, vertigo, humiliation, despair and absolute broken-heartedness has no place in real life. I am truly not somebody given to complaining, but that was cruel.'


My heart goes out to him. Writing in his follow-up post however, Bullough highlights the upside:


'The positive side is that a tidal wave of sympathy, support and enthusiasm for ‘The Claude Glass’ has come my way, which has been genuinely wonderful. The first message I received on Tuesday night was from the poet Gwyneth Lewis, who wrote, and I hope she will excuse me quoting her: “Another thing I’ve learned over the years – the part of you that hurts like hell right now is what helps you to write. So channel it towards that and forget the circus which surrounds publishing.” I am happy to report that last night I was able to get back to work, and I can tell you that Gwyneth is absolutely right.'


Few of us will go through the kind of cruel public humiliation which Tom Bullough had to endure that evening in July, but we all of us must suffer our own humiliations, moments of shame which eat away at us and have us shouting out blasphemies whenever we recall them (often creating other humiliations in the process). But yes, it's true, the part of you that hurts like hell is the part that helps you to write - or if you don't happen to write, it's the part of you that helps you to do whatever it is you do that gets you through life. It helps you learn. And it helps you grow. Really, it's what life's all about.

Aaaaah, good old humiliation.

Tomorrow I will tell you about the most embarrassing thing I have ever done. And I will grow in the process.

Happy Sunday!



Thanks to Dick Headley for the heads-up.



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Friday, 12 September 2008

Feedback Friday :: Chocolate Onions


bulk :: 16st 4
cigarettes smoked :: 0
alcohol units taken :: 18
apples eaten :: 6
bananas eaten :: 5
chocolate bars infected with onion :: 0.5
chocolate bars thrown in the bin :: 0.5
workouts worked out :: 3
swims swum :: 0
fuck-buddies diddled :: 1
fuck-buddies dated :: 1
relationships (increasingly) confused :: 1
books embarked upon :: 1 (Families and How To Survive Them by John Cleese and Robin Skynner)
screens peeked behind :: 2
biographies ordered :: 1 (that of Dr Spock – not Mr Spock, but Dr Spock)
blogs aborted :: 1 (that weather thing was far too much of a commitment)
blogs maintained :: 2 (phew)


I really couldn't think of a title for this thing. Sorry.

Most of my spare time this week – of which there has not been a great deal - has been taken up in preparation for next week. Next week – here on this very blog - is Shame Week. Inspired by a question I asked Morag when I was getting to know her, Shame Week will comprise five bald-headed, bare-faced confessions of a very personal nature, in response to five simple, shameful questions. And I shall be asking those questions of you too. Otherwise what’s the point?

(Actually, there maybe only four. I'm having trouble with the fifth.)

Back to the present however, I had my third appointment with Dr Payne this morning. I told him I’d been going to the gym regularly.

‘Good,’ he said.

I told him I’d been doing my back stretches.

‘Good,’ he said.

And I told him I’d read She’s Come Undone.

‘Good,’ he said. ‘Glad to hear it.’

And that was that. He clearly wasn’t remotely interested in any further details, like - for example - whether or not I’d enjoyed the book. The fact that I’d read it was apparently enough. Strange man.

I also told him that my back was feeling much better and that the pain was much less frequent. So he got me on the bench and started digging his hands in. He told me I was less tight. I was pleased, and a little proud. He gave me a brief massage – nothing too violent – and stuck some needles in me. Then at the end of the session he said there was no need to make another appointment. Everything seemed to be in order now. ‘What if my back goes belly up again?’ He nodded slowly, with laboured tolerance. Obviously, he explained, if things go wrong I am to return, but there’s no reason they should if I keep up the exercise.

‘I don’t want to see you again,’ he said. I tried not to take it personally, although I kind of did want to see him again, though obviously, at the same time, I didn’t. I guess what I really wanted was to be his friend. As I shook his hand goodbye, I tried to convey some of this, but he barely looked up from his monitor.

It’s funny. I only met him three times and apart from recommending a book to me, he wasn’t awfully friendly, but you know, I shall miss Dr Payne. I liked the cut of his jib. So much so that I’m currently thinking I might develop a spot of Munchausen Syndrome, just so I can get to feel those strong hands of his working their way into my glutes one final time...

Speaking of strong hands, Morag had a surprise for me this week, which was a pair of tickets to see Matthew Bourne’s Dorian Gray. Not Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray you will notice, and not Jason Bourne's (which I think could work), but Matthew Bourne’s. For those of you who don’t know (like – until a few days ago – me) Matthew Bourne is a choreographer. So this adaptation of Wilde’s classic tale of vanity and hedonism was conveyed through - wait for it... dance. Hmm.

Oh, God, I tried to like it, I really did. And I was very grateful to Morag for inviting me along. And I had fun. And I’m glad I saw it. But ultimately, I just didn’t get it. I found it really difficult to follow, and I’m very familiar with the original story, so it shouldn’t have been. I think the main problem was, I respond to words and for me, stories spring from words, not from bodies, and it really doesn't matter how admirably those bodies jerk, ripple and undulate.

And it has to be said, there were some incredible bodies on display. And some phenomenal feats of strength and control. It was sometimes breathtaking to watch. Ultimately though, for me, the story just didn’t come across.

I think the only way I could really appreciate a Matthew Bourne production would be if he were to adapt my life for the stage. In fact, I think I might put that to him. It could be just what he needs.

As for Gray, I’m sure the fault is mine. Probably down to an emaciated aesthetic. Meanwhile, Morag loved it, and thankfully wasn’t remotely upset by my lack of appreciation. Rather she was amused by it, and mocked me mercilessly.

Aaaah, Morag.

Seems we are fuck buddies who date. How odd.

So what else has happened this week? Ah, yes, Keith is back in town, as fresh as a daisy after a triumphant week in the Lakes. The weather may have been a washout but everything else was – as I say – a triumph. So much so that Keith is happy, healthy and even talking of love. I’m happy for him. I know Tilly and I didn’t exactly hit it off when we first met but you know, that doesn’t mean we can’t get it on in the future. Get on I mean. Excuse me. And I’m pleased to report that Tilly is evidently keen to make the effort too. So much so that I am invited to dinner at her house on Sunday evening. I believe Keith will also be in attendance. And Morag too if she desires. And I promise not to go on and on about the beautiful plastic lilies which Keith stole from a film set and gave to Tilly, which Tilly then spent two weeks watering before Keith pointed out to her that they were in fact fake. Although it is hilarious.

I’m looking forward to it.

In the meantime, tonight I’m getting drunk with Keith.

I’m looking forward to that too.

And you? What are you up to this weekend? Do tell.



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Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Happy Birthday Aiko!

Here’s hoping you have a wonderful day. Many deliriously happy returns to you. You deserve them.

Here are some sunflowers for you. I hope you like sunflowers and are not allergic or anything.



(Aiko comments occasionally on this here blog and seems rather lovely. If you’d like to join me in wishing her a happy birthday - if she is a her, that is; him if she isn't - then please do so in the comments... And have a nice day yourself, even if it isn’t your birthday.)



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Monday, 8 September 2008

Medical Matters #2 :: The Curious Profession of Digital Dr Singh

A week before I was forced to endure the disdain of Dr Payne’s inspirational needling, it was time to turn the spotlight on my shame. So I made an appointment to see a male doctor. Let’s call him Dr Singh.

Dr Singh is in his 50s. Brown and balding, unfeasibly bushy eyebrows, slug-lipped scowl.

Poor Dr Singh.

What a way to make a living. No wonder he scowled.

Really though, choosing to go into medicine at all is bad enough, but who in their right mind would choose to specialise in proctology? Not that Dr Singh did specialise in proctology of course. He’s probably something of an all-rounder. But today he was being forced to wear his proctologist’s hat. A small brown number with a shocking pink lining.

So I went in there and I sat down and I told him about my painful, bloody anus. Then I apologised. I said, ‘It can’t be pleasant. You know. All this… business.’ He kind of ignored me, maybe gave the tiniest of shrugs, maybe not. He then asked me to pull down my trousers and my underpants and to lie down on the gurney-type thing on my side and draw my knees up to my chest. Then, and there’s no other way of phrasing this, he raped me.

Actually, there are an infinite number of ways of phrasing it, and it would be tough to find one less suitable. It’s obviously incredibly crass of me to compare what took place between Dr Singh and my back door to any kind of sexual abuse. I apologise. It was however, the first time that anything which was not intended to bring me, or at least someone else, pleasure, had ever been inside me. And it really was the opposite of pleasure. It stayed with me for days too, this sensation, a palpable echo of his blunt, untender digit, burrowing away like he was foraging for truffles.

Then, when he was quite done, he said the strangest thing to me. He said, ‘I was looking for fishes.’

I was surprised. ‘Did you find any?’ I asked.

He shook his head. ‘No, you would have gone off like a rocket if I’d found any.’

I was confused. Were there really tiny brown bream living in my bottom which, when tickled with the tip of an inquisitive finger, caused internal combustion so powerful that my entire body could be propelled into space? Why hadn’t I heard about this before?

When I expressed my bewilderment, Dr Singh smilelessly explained that the fishes he sought were in fact fissures, or, if you prefer, which frankly I don’t, cracks in the anal tissue. (Bless you.)

Jesus. I feel sick even talking about all of this.

Let’s see if a little rhyme won’t dilute some of the horror.

A scowling doctor showed me love.
Let’s call him Dr Singh.
And with one hand in latex glove,
He pushed a finger in my ring.
No truffle troves were found inside,
No treasure, loaves or fissures,
No miracles of any kind,
Just piles and dirty dishes.

Eh? No. I fear no amount of winsome poesy can wipe this blog entry clean. Let’s just get it over with.

I’ve got piles. The disease of stretched mothers and desiccated old men.

Joy.

Singh asked me about my diet. I gave him a brief history. He told me to eat more greens and fibre. He also prescribed a tube of pile-zapping foam, with an applicator, to be taken internally twice a day and once again ‘after each movement’. I wasn’t keen on Dr Singh, and not just for what he did to me. I didn’t like his choice of language either. Movement. Poppycock. What a singularly inappropriate word to use when discussing one’s bowels. It brings music to the act of defecation and makes it sound positively creative, crafted. As if the morning after St Patrick’s Day, the lavatories of the world are alive with symphonies, every sweaty evacuation an Ode to Joy.

Call it what you will, Singh, for me it’s just one more dirty step toward death, one more stinking bag of body-refuse closer to oblivion, and that it must now come tainted with bright blood and agony, then coated in chemical foam, frankly disgusts me.

Anyhow. Cream seems to be working!



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Friday, 5 September 2008

Feedback Friday :: I Killed the Honey Monster (And Burned His Bloated Corpse)

bulk :: 16st 7 (phew)
cigarettes smoked :: 0
alcohol units taken :: 22 (oh come on, I’m not a bloody monk)
meals skipped :: 6
apples eaten :: 12
bananas eaten :: 7
Sugar Puffs eaten :: 0
gym sessions :: 4 (suck on that, non-believers!)
swims swum :: 1
games of tennis almost played :: 1
games of tennis played :: 0
award nominations :: 1
visits to Brighton :: 1 and 1 pending

Happily, I feel like things are going in the right direction again. I’m really enjoying the gym. I enjoy the ache in my muscles the next day, the feeling that my body is actually alive and feeling how it was meant to feel. Dr Payne was right about me having soggy muscles. Already though, after just a few visits to the gym, they feel less soggy. I’ve still got heaps of fat all over me of course, but these things take time. Hopefully half an hour on a bike three times a week and lots of swimming will chip away at that. It’s good. I feel good. Even better than I did when I was getting into the running, as now my whole body is beginning to thrum.

Which is why I threw out the rest of my Sugar Puffs. There weren't many left to be honest - maybe enough for one large bowl - but it was a symbolic gesture. I adore Sugar Puffs, but they are very much comfort food, and I'm sure they're sickeningly bad for you. Even the name for God's sake, Sugar Puffs. It's like calling something Fat Balls. Or Starch Nuggets. I'm surprised they don't rebrand them. Honey Puffs would make a lot more sense, especially as they already have the Honey Monster... Anyway, it's no longer my concern. I'm done with them. The Honey Monster is dead to me.

Also, on the work front, things have picked up. I’m doing some research for a writer. I can’t really say any more than that, as it's a secret, but it’s fun. The money is rubbish and I could be making thrice as much writing web copy for an investment bank, but I actually enjoy it, and that’s an unusual feeling. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed something I did for money.

And as if that weren’t enough, I’ve been nominated for an award. An award which I will not win unless around a thousand people vote for me. An award which therefore, I will not win. Ah well. One day I will win an award. One day. I’m tempted to join up and vote for myself, but I shan’t. I’m also tempted to upload a little clicky badge like this:

My site was nominated for Best Blog About Stuff!

But I shan’t. I’m happy with my one vote. Thank you, Melk. (It’s you isn’t it, Morag?)

OK, I’m done. Now I must get on with some work.

This weekend I’m off to Brighton for sex.

What about you? You doing anything nice? Go on, let me know in the comments...



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