Category Archives: Everyday Bullshit
Because every day is a massive pile of fuck off
A few months ago I had an epiphany. It wasn’t a particularly spectacular one like the ones you get when you’re pissed and you have a sudden realisation that it’s absolutely acceptable to text the person you once had a thing with ten years ago to ask them what type of pants they’re wearing. It was more a comforting revelation that despite everything that’s currently going on with my personal life, my professional life seemed to be ticking along so inoffensively well that it struck me I was perfectly happy in my current employment. This was revelatory indeed.
Granted, it’s not the most taxing of jobs – I work for the local council as assistant to the assistant in charge of licking envelopes – nor is it a position that’s going to make me a millionaire (only drug-dealing, benefit fraud or faking my own death and selling my identity multiple times over can do that), but the working environment I currently find myself in is one that is actually conducive to good working relationships, work ethic, common sense, and high productivity.
This is because the department and group of people I work with are, for the most part, fully compos mentis therefore they understand that good working relationships, a half-decent work ethic, and common sense generally equate to high productivity. So things tend to work well. Which is why I’m in a glass case of emotion knowing that in precisely one week’s time I’ll be abandoning this steadiest of steady ships in order to pursue my lifelong dream of working in another department for the same company. You read that right – I’m simply transferring to another part of the council because, unfortunately, my current position is temporary, and the new role is permanent and has offered me free shoulder massages and bacon sandwiches whenever I want them. (Disclaimer: they haven’t).
But in all sincerity, there’s every chance that I’m genuinely heartbroken about having to leave a team I consider to be the loveliest I’ve ever worked with. And as someone who also considers himself a vicious cynic towards literally every conceivable thing in the history of planet Earth – my offspring, Peter Rabbit, and Brad Pitt’s topless physique aside – this is quite the statement to be making. I hate to be going all pie-eyed and mushy here – which is ironic as I love pie and mushy peas – but leaving my current job will be quite the upsetting moment given the flexibility, help and support they’ve all given me throughout the most difficult period of my entire existence. I won’t elaborate on that because this isn’t Oprah and I’m not Lance Armstrong but suffice to say that over the past eight months my team-mates have endured and put up with my incessant daily belly-aching, listless pontificating, and an almost constant facial expression that resembled a combination of a heavily smacked arse and a chewed orange. Cash prizes and/or Nobel Prizes should be awarded to each and every member of my team simply for their ability to go about their daily work and interact with a vacant, blithering idiot who must have been utterly excruciating to be around. It’s no wonder they always talked about wanting to organise a night out on the piss after having a conversation with me.
I must confess, however, to having quite the topsy-turvy ‘career’ over the years, mainly because of my indifference to working hard, generalised hatred of anyone in authority, and my indifference to working hard. I spent many years being ritualistically shit on by the powers that be beginning with the first full-time job I took after leaving school which paid me £1.61 an hour, and involved being called a ‘c***’ on a daily basis by a Tory-voting racist named Edward ‘I Brush My Teeth With Dogshit’ Trollope. He was quite the c***.
My next position was with the mindless oblivion that is the Inland Revenue. How I’d managed to find myself in a position comparable to that of a lab rat was through a restrospectively stupid piece of nepotism: my mother got me the job. She’d worked there since the late-Cretaceous period (sorry, Mam), and had advised me that positions were being created in the Lobotomy Department for Lazy Bastards and that I should apply. I duly did, and after mountains of applicatory paperwork involving pre-school maths quizzes, three-letter word spelling tests, and how to say ‘hello’ when answering the phone, I was offered the position of Dogsbody which involved placing one piece of paper from Pile A on to a brightly coloured piece of paper on Pile B and repeating for eight hours a day. Supervising this monotony was a conveyor belt of pocket Hitlers who’d combine verbal abuse, timing my visits to the toilet, and eventual physical assault by way of launching a stapler off the side of my head.
After escaping this bowel of infected hell in a co-ordinated Inland Revolution with other members of my team, I took a role at Newcastle College which was quite wonderful initially – I spent the days playing football in the sports hall, stealing Lucozade from the vending machines and sleeping in the back office along with my two work colleagues, one of whom is still my bestest bud, and the other of whom my bestest bud and I wish bad things upon daily. Of course, after a period of coasting along with not a care in the world, a new boss came along – with no hair and a massive Humpty Dumpty head ego at that – and began spoiling our daily laziness by way of telling on us to upper management. This culminated in me being exiled to a small office secreted away in the basements of the college where I was left with a computer with no internet access and the door locked, trapping me in a kind of Guantanamo College but without the garish orange jumpsuit. Jail time is usually given for managerial behaviour like that these days.
Anyway, a sprightly collage of various job roles followed this incarceration including zero-hour contract jobs (of which the total hours worked amounted to precisely that), positions where I worked roughly fifteen minutes before breezing out of the front door never to be seen again, and Jobseeker’s Allowance roles whereby I literally only had to sign my name on a piece of paper twice a month in order to be paid. One vacancy I accepted included being threatened by the odious little manager with a lawsuit for rolling into work one morning precisely one minute after my contracted time. A lawsuit. His words. Heady days.
So you can imagine my surprise and hesitant glee when I took the job at the council and discovered that the people I was working with were actually, well, fucking normal. That is to say, not sadistic. Or pathological. Or psychotic. And I’m absolutely certain not one of them have ever timed my trips to the lavatory. And this, of course, is incredibly ironic given how much I’ve taken the piss over the last eight months. In what’s been an incredibly turbulent year, every last one of the team have approached me with good humour, sympathy and empathy, allowed me to get on with being a miserable sod who no-one in their right mind would want to spend any more than a couple of minutes with, and STILL invited me out for a pint, or wanted to have a bit crack with me about this, that or the other. I have a feeling that literally every company, team or boss I’ve previously worked for when confronted with my situation would have had me either sacked, ostracised or murdered.
Given that my entire work history has usually culminated in me walking out with two fingers raised in the general direction of my ex-boss’s fat fucking heads, this week is going to be an entirely new experience altogether in which I’ll probably bawl my eyes out after saying so long and farewell to the loveliest group of buggers I’ve ever worked with during the most upsetting of personal circumstances. So many, many pats on the back and tips of the hat go to the Direct Payments team of Durham County Council. Good folk with good souls.
Anyway, I hate to end this gushing wank-fest but I promise I’ll go back to being a stony-faced, miserable bastard in next week’s post when I’ll most likely be talking about the return of the Premier League football season and all the unadulterated shit-misery that Premier League football entails.
This post is going to be as boring as fuck. In fact the entire aim of this particular post is specifically to bore the arse off you with as much tedious, drawn-out, and convoluted bullshit as possible so it brings you to the point of having to push your tongue back into your mouth with your fingers. I know what you’re thinking: why does it need to be this specific post that does that when there are plenty of other articles on this blog that do much the same thing? The answer to that question is a simple fuck you. But there is a fairly valid reason for me wanting to pursue the path of the boring fuck and embrace total monotony.
Allow me to explain: the nearest and dearest in my life will have no doubt come to realise with a jarring sense of
concern hilarity that my current existence is anything but plain sailing. In fact it’s about as far from plain sailing as the Titanic was when it was still being built and clearly not seaworthy. I alluded to this existential chaos in my previous post with the help of an artificial intelligence unit from the legal team at Cyberdyne Systems who moderated the content, but suffice to say my general day-to-day life does not bring about the sense of calm that one would expect from someone who likes nothing better than lying around in his underwear and scratching himself.
It must be said, however, that I’m not inferring my current life is a hip and happening, vibrant splash of colour, pizazz, and interesting anecdotes that would generally characterise someone who’s actually living a life of colour, pizazz and interesting anecdotes. I get the feeling from the people who know me that it’s more a sense of ‘oh, what the fuck’s happened now?’, or ‘beer. Just give him beer’. There’s a sense that whenever my parents see my number flash up like a digital heart attack on their phones they both actually begin the onset of a myocardial infarction in fear of what’s potentially coming at the other end. It’s almost guaranteed that when I text my mates for a pint they know they’re going to have to endure a bug-eyed rant not seen since Kevin Keegan’s ‘I would love it if we beat them‘ tirade. Suffice to say – and it behoves me to not go into specifics here – that being me, and anyone around me, is quite the exhausting state of affairs at the minute. But I shall leave it at that lest I accidentally go into specifics here.
And this brings me to the main point of this article: precisely because there’s never a dull moment in my life (in the most depressingly uninspiring of ways) it’s compelled me to want to live the majority of the other side of it as an utterly boring sod. There are few things I want more than someone to come up to me and say that I live a life that’s comparable to that of a garden slug just prior to some sadistic little bastard unloading a waterfall of salt on to it and watching the bugger squirm. It’s come to the point that it’s a physical and emotional necessity to be utterly dull and uninteresting with all aspects of my being in order to balance the bedlam of everything else. And in the midst of all this chaos, the perceived banal things in my life are the very aspects that do in fact make my current existence more agreeable. Allow me to demonstrate my banality by listing the ways with which I balance the pandemonium with the ponderous:
1. Cooking A Whole Meal Of Food/Pottering In The Kitchen
For ages I steadfastly refused to advocate this based on the fact it takes roughly two hours to prepare and cook a meal, and approximately four minutes for me to devour the bastard. Plus the kitchen always looks like what my living room looks like after my baby son spends roughly thirty seconds in it. So I thought this was grossly unfair. However, it’s become apparent that despite all the washing up, the swearing, and the blood, there’s a sense of smug satisfaction that comes with cooking a plate of food that’s edible enough for you to upload a photo of it to Instagram for a bunch of dullards to look at. My time in the kitchen keeps my focus enough to not dwell on the disharmony, and to reassure my Mam that I’m not subsisting on Budweiser.
2. Putting On A New Pair Of Socks
If there’s anything better than this I want to know what it is. Fuck off to your old socks with the holes, and the smell, and the Hepatitis C molecules in them. Grab a new pair – Gucci, Adidas, George at Asda, ones your Grandma knitted – and put the buggers on. It’s like an orgasm in your feet. Soft, nourishing, comforting. I defy you not to wank once you have a fresh, brand spanking new pair of socks on.
3. Climbing Into A Freshly Made Bed
Better than putting on a fresh new pair of socks is climbing into a freshly made bed. The important thing to remember here is making sure you get the right fabric softener so that your entire existence smells like your freshly made bed. The silky soft touch of the cooling sheets, the uplifting aromas of comfort and calm, the soothing warmth of reassurance as you drift into a snooze enveloped in the crisp lushness of the bed. It’s positively heroin-like. Not that I’ve ever tried heroin but it’s probably a knocking bet that snuggling into a freshly made bed smelling of meadows and heroin is probably what injecting heroin feels like. Just don’t have a wank and spoil all the freshly made innocence. #freshlymade.
4. Completing Some Form Of Physical Exercise
There’s no doubt about it that taking part in some form of cardiovascular activity engenders a fulfilling sense of accomplishment, well-being and egotistical superiority. Just look at those morons on Facebook who post the details every time they go for a run. Everybody definitely, without a doubt, completely cares that they ran around a little Google Map for 15 minutes. It’s the epitome of the boring fuck. Still, it’s a truth self-evident that the whole concept of physical fitness encourages a more positive outlook, and I wholeheartedly agree as I’ve recently returned to the gym and got my running shoes on again. That satisfaction of completing a session; the relaxing ache of my tired muscles; the sense of achievement, and the relaxing post-workout shower and chill out when all’s done. It’s quite wonderful – simply because doing it allows you to go all in on the three bottles of wine in the fridge. A simple half hour jog or trip to the gym removes the guilt for you to become an alcoholic. Don’t deny it. You all do this. You frigging do, you lying bunch of sods.
5. Writing Boring Shit For The Internet
‘Boring’ and ‘shit’ being the operative words. But, you know, it helps.
I’ve no doubt it’s a terrible tragedy for someone of my age to be happy to settle for the life of the dreary. I am only 21 years and 192 months old after all. But, to be perfectly honest, it’s for the best given my current circumstances. And it didn’t do old Obi Wan Kenobi any harm. He lived a boring life of solitude on Tatooine after Revenge of the Sith, and he got to come back as a ghost in later life and help defeat the Empire. So there’s hope. A new hope.
Anyway, this blog post has waffled on much more than I ever thought possible but as long as you’re bored out of your skulls then my work here is done.
Unimportant Reader’s Note: due to legal reasons, this post is being moderated by The Moderator from Skynet in order to avoid additional reasons.
So this morning I woke up with a crick in my neck. This was my own fault in part because I use pillows positioned at an angle so I can lie down at night watching a Netflix on my phone while simultaneously drinking from a bottle of lager using a straw without spilling it on the Wham! ‘Choose Life’ t-shirt that I wear for bed. This is normally a fairly successful and fulfilling routine but this morning I woke up to discover I was paralysed in a small, 5cm area of the left hand side of my neck. This tiny area of trapped nerve produced enough excruciating pain down the left hand side of my body that it rendered me unable to initiate my morning routine of immediately jumping out of bed to spend the next 90 minutes on the toilet while simultaneously texting my friends that I’m about to spend 90 minutes on the toilet. I won’t elaborate on what happened next but suffice to say that particular hour and a half trapped in bed was emphatically unpleasant for a multitude of reasons.
Anyway, it turns out that it’s been exactly six months since I lasted posted on my blog. While this has caused mass hysteria and upset with all both of my readers (hello Mam, hello Dad) by way of them once asking if I still ‘write that shite’ for the internet, not to mention a creative atrophy not seen since the release of Oasis’ Be Here Now, there is a genuine, real-life, non-bullshit explanation for me not bothering my arse with it all. In a nutshell it’s because of my current *this comment has been removed by The Moderator owing to reasons* and the subsequent fall out from this as well as the absolutely fucking ridiculous *this comment has been removed by The Moderator owing to reasons*. Put it this way, the opening paragraph of this blog post is an accurate metaphor of the year 2017 in the world of me.
But seeing as this is an update it behoves me to apprise you all with what’s happening in the world of dysfunctional email correspondence, my current problems with *this comment has been removed by The Moderator owing to reasons*, and my existence in general. It will reassure you all to know that I still can’t drive, my son recently turned one year old (I don’t embellish when I say I have roughly 2,000 photos of him on my phone) *The Moderator will accept this comment relating to the author’s offspring*, and I’ve forgotten how to write material for a blog that once had seven readers a week in its glory days. Which explains the rusty nature of this particular post.
However, I promise that things will soon be looking more positive going forward. This is because my blog hits have absolutely spiked over the last six months.
While one could look at this and suggest a correlation between high viewing figures during this period and me not writing a sodding thing, it turns out that there’s a popular pop song in the popular hip-hop genre of popular music that explains this sudden fascination with my blog. A tune named ‘Cake‘ – presumably written by ninety-nine percent of the population of the American state of Florida – was released at some point at the tail end of last year, or early this year, or at some point of this year, or at some point ever. The point is that the song is – much like this blog – specifically about all the different types of cakes you can buy at Greggs The Bakers in Newcastle upon Tyne but done in a way that it’s relentlessly played at gymnasiums up and down the country. This has agreeable symmetry because people who gorge on cake tend to be a bit roly-poly so listening to a song about cake in the gym would ease the pain of having to do exercise. One of the pre-eminent lyrics in this particular masterpiece is ‘I only came for the cake‘, and a simple Google search of this term immediately directs you not to a hilarious blog about the hit and miss wit and wisdom of a middle-aged man, but straight to a video of this Shakespearean tune of lyrical genius that clearly has nothing to do with casual sex and everything to do with Greggs’ desserts
. However, my website is visible enough in this Google search that the youth of America apparently stumble across it, read it, and presumably leave aghast enough to better their lives so as not to turn into the author. So I’m probably doing my bit. In a way. I’d reply to all their bewildered queries but to be honest I’ve forgotten how to read.
*Hi, The Moderator here! Just saying hi because I don’t want to come across as a bit of a bastard because I’m doing my job moderating some pretty sensitive shit. I love Chris really. He is tall, friendly and handsome. Bye!*
But I digress. In the midst of all the stressful *this comment has been removed by The Moderator owing to reasons* that has completely upended this past year, I’ve managed to steady the
shit ship lately. I’ve started going to the gym again, I’ve stopped shitting with the door open as it was previously upsetting any visitors to my home, and I have big plans afoot regarding a book I’m having published. So if it interests any of you I’m about to force a book of poems on the general public that details *this comment has been removed by The Moderator owing to reasons* and the effect it’s had on *this comment has been removed by The Moderator*. You can download a copy of this wonderful book of shite from this link here: *this link is not available yet because it’s not available yet and because The Moderator says so*. So I’m hanging tough.
In the meantime I’m writing again, finally, after all the shit of *this comment has been removed by The Moderator owing to reasons* so my generic email correspondence bullshit will once again rear its head and clog up your Facebook timelines.
Oh, bugger off.
Allow me to explain: there’s a myriad of issues to contend with where a newborn is concerned, all involving your offspring screaming at you. Where Laura sometimes finds Finn’s high pitched yodelling utterly oppressive, I find myself feeling quietly proud that our boy can sing a bit. The problem, of course, is figuring out why he’s crying, and how to remedy it. That’s the upsetting part: knowing he’s not happy about something. But, fuck, it isn’t difficult. Apart from a problem that may require medical attention, there’s basically a standard list of reasons why your offspring is whinging. Is he windy? Burp him. Does he need his nappy changed? Clean that shit up. Is he hungry? Get your tits out. Once you’ve figured out what it is, more often than not the little sod will shut his gob. Unless he has reflux or can’t have a shit for some reason. Both of these things our son has. At the minute he chokes himself out when he’s trying to back one out. It’s a harrowing scene. I know how I get when I can’t shit so Christ knows how this little blighter is feeling given that he doesn’t have a sodding clue what’s going on. I just let him squeeze my finger and pull that face the Incredible Hulk pulls when he turns into the Incredible Hulk.
Of course, this parenting lark can be frustrating and utterly bewildering. But so is going for a shit and realising there’s no bog roll left. Ultimately you just get on with it and fashion some shit wipes out of a flannel, the cardboard inner from the toilet roll, or your hand. You muddle through and deal with it. You can call parenting a great many things: loud, tiring, smelly, annoying, completely shit. But it isn’t difficult. What’s difficult is waking up in the morning and realising you’ve woken up. What’s difficult is learning to drive when you’re thick as pig shit. What’s difficult is going into work every day doing your utmost to not end up as one of those, ‘and then he turned the gun on himself’ kind of people. What’s not difficult is feeding, changing and entertaining your new born son or daughter. Granted, it kind of exhausts you which makes you moan a bit. But so does skulling nine pints while watching your beloved football team ship four goals every week. It tires you the fuck out but you do it anyway because you have to.
Which brings me on to the first of the two truths to this article –
Truth #1: parenting is easy. That’s been established. What isn’t easy – what’s excruciatingly difficult – is other. fucking. people. Don’t get me wrong, people mean well: they want to help, they want to visit, they want to buy your offspring clothes, they want to hold him for half an hour so you can go for a shit. Which is all great. The difficulty is trying to appease everyone’s sense of entitlement. While it’s wonderful having visitors in the hugely exhausting aftermath of the birth of your child, sometimes people forget that all you want after a night swimming in human faeces with a soundtrack that resembles a human torture chamber is not have another human being knock at your door with a pitying smile on their face and gifts that aren’t for you. Sure, you can ask them to come another time owing to the fact you can’t be fucking bothered with the small talk after a night on the shit but be prepared for a fully grown adult to spit their dummy when it should really be your kid doing all the dummy hoying.
It’s very apparent to me that the main problem is the actions or reactions of other people when you have offspring, not the baby itself. As I’ve mentioned, a baby does stuff it’s meant to do and you deal with it. Easy. What’s difficult and wildly disconcerting is adult human beings doing stuff that would be extremely uncomfortable or offensive if it was in a normal social context. I’ve had random strangers approach me on the street, perversely touching my arm and stroking my son’s head as if he was a dog while making cooing noises and saying how much he looks like me. I’m 6’4”. My son’s mere inches in length. I don’t wear babygros. My son doesn’t have size 12 feet. I have green eyes. My son has blue eyes. We look nowt like each other. Basically the only thing we have in common is that we both can’t grow a beard. I don’t need human beings – whom I dislike at the best of times – greeting me in the street as if we’re long lost pals, having completely forgotten what a social boundary is.
If my son completes any sort of normal human function such as crying, smiling, farting, shitting, grumbling, making a cup of tea, having a pint or doing the dishes, the knock-on effect and consequent overreaction of other adults is astounding. The level of unfettered fawning is just cloying. My son – as handsome as he is – looks like pulped mincemeat when he’s trying to push out a shit and no amount of sickly sweet-nothings will convince me otherwise. Trying to keep a fixed grin on your face while human beings spout shite about your offspring is utterly debilitating.
All this while trying to ensure everyone’s had enough cuddles with him, everyone’s chipped in their two cents with the parental advice, and they all know when they’re next going to see him. Christ on a crystal meth binge. At least with a baby there’s only one human to look after.
So let me be clear: looking after a baby – easy. Looking after grown ups – not easy.Truth #2: all of the above (with the exception of other people ruining things – this rings true for both parents) only applies to the father. For the father, parenting is a fucking doddle. This is because the father barely has to lift a frigging finger. Of course, there are standard parenting duties that all parents must adhere to: changing nappies, feeding, hearing it scream in the night, telling it to shut the fuck up etc etc. But mainly, the dad pretty much gets off Scott free.
If the bairn is crying to be fed countless times during the night it sure as fuck isn’t going to be the father who gets his flabby tits out to feed it. He’s going to slumber like the saggy ape he is and leave all the difficult work to the mother. If the baby is crying its arse off, there’s only so much a dad can do to placate the thing before he hands it over to the mother to sort out with her boobs or the TLC that the father hasn’t evolved enough to acquire. Basically, any excessive drama with their offspring and all dads know that the baby is going to end up in the mam’s arms until it’s fed or calmed. Spoiler alert: this is an intrinsic knowledge that all fathers have and know about. They’ll ultimately know that there’s going to be no final burden on them because it’ll always fall to the mother to sort things out. And they can go off for a shit, a beer, a sneaky tug in the bathroom, whatever.
With Laura breastfeeding, we’ve fallen into a routine where I get to do all the sleeping during the night while Laura has to stay up feeding, burping, changing and rocking Finn to sleep. Of course, I hear him shouting and squirming but I have the luxury of turning over and snoozing while she puts the graft in. So I get at least five hours sleep a night while she gets barely any. I suspect this is the case for most fathers with a breastfeeding partner. And if you’re a dad reading these past couple of paragraphs and deny these facts then you’re a liar and your penis is going to come loose.
If the stress of the 9 month pregnancy, the mood swings, the hormonal changes, the actual birth itself and the emotional days post-pregnancy weren’t enough for the mother, then the following months of unadulterated horror are truly excruciating while the main problems for the dads are moaning about only having six hours sleep, and missing the football on a Sunday afternoon because they have to spend it pulling faces at their offspring while covered in shit.
So there you have it, dads. Be thankful you have a (small) penis, and a deep voice. You’ve drawn the long straw. Now stop being a whinging piss-pot and rub her back more.
‘You’ve given it a go but maybe driving just isn’t for you?’ – my mother.
‘How can’t you do it!?’ – my brother, Anthony.
‘I don’t understand! You’re not usually this thick. How can’t you drive?!’ – my mate, Emma.
‘Driving’s fucking easy. What’s wrong with you?’ – my best mate, Phil.
‘Slow, turn, TURN, STOP, STOP! STOPPPP! STOP NOW! BRAKE! BRAKE! JESUS!’ – my loving fiancée, Laura.
These are just a handful of comments I’ve received from some of my nearest and dearest in relation to my overblown, protracted and quite ridiculously inept attempts at learning to drive. In all honesty I thought I’d have killed myself on the road by now, and by that I mean in a fit of bug-eyed frustration whereby I’ve flipped and high-tailed the car at 80mph off the side of a bridge – the irony being that I wouldn’t know what sodding gear it was meant to be in in order to reach 80mph. As it is I’ve struggled through with only a few minor scrapes, just the two crashes, a handful of deranged looking drivers throwing various hand signals at me, a hopeful confidence that has been well and truly crushed, and a bank account that spits bile at me whenever I attempt to withdraw money from it to pay for a lesson.
Those above quotes are pretty representative of just how bewildered I am at my inability to learn the basics of driving. It’s utterly infuriating that I don’t have a sodding clue what I’m doing especially when I see some of the half-evolved fuckwits that currently patrol the roads in their souped up little shitwagons. I hate to spaff on my own ego here but how come some post-pubescent pisspot with a face so smug you’d happily punch it every day until the end of time can whizz around in their pimp-mobile with one finger on the steering wheel and fly into a parking space with perfect precision at 65mph while I spend about 15 minutes attempting to adjust my seat, start the car and move away before stalling at the first junction? It’s a desperately infuriating state of affairs that my brain just refuses to engage with the concept of driving.
The way I’m braying on about it, anyone stumbling across this post would understandably presume I’ve only had about a half-dozen lessons and that I’ll eventually get the hang of it so it’s probably pertinent to leave a reminder here that I’m 36 lessons in. Thirty-six. That equates to about 60 hours worth of tuition with various instructors, all of whom are baffled, shocked or a combination of both that I can only pull away at junctions 50% of the time, repeatedly drive through red lights because I’m too busy staring at my feet wondering how my left foot has ended up on the accelerator, or constantly swerve across lanes as if I’ve spent the preceding few hours mainlining whisky into my basilic vein. In all seriousness, it depresses me that I’m completely unable to grasp the fundamentals of manoeuvring a car especially when I’m a fabulous passenger driver. I can see idiocy and dangerous driving a mile off yet when I decide to drive a car I’m the epitome of it. It’s like I undergo a small but vicious lobotomy the minute I put the key in the ignition.
After 60 hours of driving tuition I still struggle to put the car into the correct gear resulting in it spewing out a noise similar to what I can only presume is the automobile equivalent of hocking up a massive pile of phlegm and regurgitating it onto the road; whenever I approach a junction or roundabout I’m unable to prevent the car going into what I call ‘judder mode’ whereby the car shakes relentlessly as I’ve no idea what gear it’s meant to be in, and suggests I’d be much more at home driving a car on the dodgems at the funfair; parking has become an exercise in absolute embarrassment as I have zero spatial awareness, and it’s still absolutely mesmerising to me that humans can manoeuvre a car into a small rectangular shape without slamming it into an adjoining parked vehicle – my parking attempts consist of eight to ten manoeuvres, three stalls which include knocking the wipers on and off multiple times, and several bumps of the kerb and anyone who happens to be walking near it, spread out over two parking spaces. It’s ritual humiliation and I’m actually paying hard cash for it.
The most recent indignity involved a roundabout, a tractor, my instructor grabbing the wheel shouting ‘fuck!’ at the top of his lungs, a lot of screaming on my part, and the car thumping into the huge tractor wheels before we spluttered to the side of the road whereby I ended the lesson early and returned home to empty the drinks cabinet. I don’t think driving was meant to be this cumbersome.
One of the more annoying aspects of being this far into failing at learning to drive is the relentless positivity from other human beings about my progress, or lack thereof. It’s quite impressive the level at which people dismiss my concerns and overall fears when even thinking about actually getting inside a vehicle, let alone attempting to drive the bastard. If one more person suggests I’m better than I think I am, that it’ll all just click into place, that I should just stick with it, that I’ll get there eventually, or that it’ll all be worth it in the end, then I’m quite happy to go all Michael Douglas in Falling Down and unload on them with a hastily made sawn-off and a lot of sweating and pontificating about how bad the burgers are in my local fast food restaurant. What these bad prats don’t realise is that I’ve developed such a fear of cars that I now develop nausea whenever a car pulls up outside of my house lest I panic and think someone will knock on the door and ask me to drive it for some reason. I’m actually hypothesising imaginary scenarios involving having to move a car from A to B. That’s not good. The last driving lesson I had I politely asked my instructor if I could just sit in the passenger seat, watch him drive and learn that way instead of actually driving. He looked at me as if I’d just been sick on his lap, and bundled me into the driving seat as if I was being kidnapped.
Of course, the upsetting thing about all of this is that I actually want to drive. I want to be able to get around town without having to rely on public transport and the consequent guarantee that I’ll be accompanied on the bus journey by a 15 stone human sasquatch who slams his globulous frame right next to me, smells of wet dog and keeps inadvertently touching me with his fat arse each time the bus goes round a roundabout. I can do without all that malarkey.
This is something of a serious and sobering blog post as it’s the end of an era for me. An era that’s cost me my dignity, my finances, my patience, temperament and sanity, any semblance of confidence I once had, and a highly attuned hatred of anything that’s able to drive a car. Obviously I’m not bitter at all. Obviously. That would just be silly. Silly and immature. Silly and immature and pathetic. But fuck you, you petrolhead fucks.
As a postscript, I’ll leave you with this quote and clip from the existential genius, Mark Corrigan of Peep Show:
‘That’s it. I resign. I give up. No more lessons. The machines have won. I shall take to the hills and live with the tree-folk people’.
As you’re no doubt unaware, it’s gone completely unnoticed that I’d decided to take a few weeks off writing and updating this blog, mainly because I fucking hate every aspect of maintaining one and there are far more pressing concerns to attend to such as crashing my instructor’s car into random tractors during my driving lessons, and achieving my dream of quitting my job without another one lined up. Added to this is the fact that time as we know it is currently very much the same therefore it’s getting closer and closer to Laura squeezing a small baby out of her hoo-ha that I’m told I might well have to look after, and that one day, I fear, may grow to kill me.
So, as you can imagine, my intermittent life at present doesn’t leave much time for such things as writing shit for the internet. Thankfully, all is not lost as there is a human being who is very much on a par with me in regard to hating the world, everyone in it and society’s disappointing lack of enthusiasm to embrace the apocalypse in whatever form. His name is Jonjo and we became firm friends many years ago because of drugs. Which is how most true friendships start because who else wants to interact with another human being while sober? Fuck that.
Jonjo has very kindly agreed to write a guest post about parenting because, as a parent of at least one child that we’re aware of, he knows what’s what when it comes to navigating the terrifying waters of parenthood, the disturbing human beings that new parents encounter and the general gist of realising that all children are vicious little bastards.
My gracious thanks go to Jonjo, his facial hair and all those nights when we took our tops off and hugged.
5 Ways Children Change Your Life… For The Worse
Words: Jonjo McNeill
One thing I noticed when reading this blog is that the author is expecting a child to claw its way out of his other half’s vagina in the near future. This is understandably distressing news for any human as it means certain lifestyle changes need to be implemented. For me it was going from smoking crack every evening after work to smoking crack every morning on the way to work. One must adapt. If I was expecting a child the last thing I’d want to do is read the millions of articles and books intended to prepare you for the most seismic change you’ll know in your life. They’re all the same – start off with a bit about how you’ve read the books, decorated the bedroom, blah blah blah, followed by some terrifying statistics and concluded with a sickly sweet monologue extolling the virtues of fatherhood/motherhood, all designed to project some sort of bullshit persona that doesn’t exist anywhere in the world.
If you’re up the duff, or dealing with a housemate who is, read this article, which is designed specifically to scare the living shit out of anybody with a soon-to-be-living mini-shit by telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the fucking truth.
Here are five ways children change your life…FOR THE WORSE.
5. People Insist On Coming To Your House
The first thing on your mind when bringing your child home for the first time is how to fill the rooms, and time you savour, with as many people as possible. Day one might be okay – siblings, parents, your dealer – but after this it’s an unending procession of unwanted box-tickers going through the motions, repeating words like “eyes” and “nappies”. They all bring presents as well – but not good presents. They bring something they picked up on the way, like clothes for a 4 year old of the opposite sex. Or the same book three other people brought you BECAUSE THEY LOVED IT AS A CHILD. What you really want is some hard liquor, cigarettes or a hilarious baby-sized t-shirt from somethingvicious.com.
When not under siege from what some people call ‘friends and family’, you find yourself doorstepped by do-gooders from the authorities, who will come in your house, strip your child naked and force them to sit on a cold metal platform to check their weight. They call them ‘health visitors’ but really they’re undercover police bastards, there to determine who deserves to have a child and who should be thrown in the river with the other junkies.
It’s bad enough that the youngling is invading your privacy.
4. An Alien Comes Out Of A Woman (And Turns You Into A Cannibal)
I’m not talking about the baby, although yes. Rather I refer to the placenta – a big lump of body-matter that slops out of the torn genitalia moments after the child, growling and trying to attach itself to the nearest human face in order to doom mankind to a future ruled by acid-spitting space bastards. Nobody prepares you for the sight of that thing. Also, it stinks. Some lunatics actually eat this foreign body, claiming it is full of nutrients (much like a hilarious seasonal jumper from somethingvicious.com). The fact of the matter is, you’re eating human matter. You’re a cannibal.
3. Something The Size Of A Baby Takes Up An Entire House
Here are a list of just some of the things you are led to believe you need to raise a child in your home:
▪ A wooden prison cell
▪ A plastic bathtub to put inside your perfectly usable regular bathtub
▪ A machine that boils water and steams bottles
▪ A suction cup to remove breast milk
▪ A bottle to store removed breast milk
▪ A machine to clean the bottles and breast pumps
▪ Carton upon carton of powdered milk substitute for when the breasts and/or breast pump don’t do the trick
▪ All of the nappies
▪ A lock for your stash tin
▪ An attractive hoodie from somethingvicious.com
▪ High shelves to put everything that could be broken on (everything can be broken BTW. Get big shelves)
▪ A car seat
▪ A pushchair
▪ A smaller pushchair
▪ Child proof lighters
▪ Shitloads of something called ‘muslin’
▪ Arse cream
▪ Scented shit-bags
▪ Talcum powder
▪ A special set of drawers with a crap-proof mat on top
▪ Enough tiny clothes for circa nine changes a day
That’s what you’ll need for the first ten minutes. After that you’re on your own.
Fortunately, you can make space by selling your own bed, as you’ll be sleeping in a bus seat, in the office toilets or in your own back garden for the next six months.
2. You’re Suddenly Responsible For Another Person’s Finances
Some folk give your bairn money as a present. Don’t make the mistake I made and spend it on witty mugs from somethingvicious.com, as the giver will in all likelihood take offence. Apparently, any money given to new parents is to be placed in a trust fund to help the child out in the future. Now, call me a nit-picker, but surely the child must actually make it into the future for that money to be any use whatsoever? How can that child be expected to live up to 18 years if I can’t spend his child trust fund on lottery tickets, jazz mags and exotic European lagers? A happy dad is a happy child. Remember those words.
1. JUDGE, JUDGE, JUDGE, JUDGE.
The worst thing about having a child – worse than the constant smell of shit, worse than the average 12 minute sleep per night, worse than the hormones and the hunger and the exhaustion and the absolutely crippling withdrawal symptoms – is the feeling of eyes burning holes into you at every opportunity. YOU’RE HOLDING HIM WRONG. YOU SHOULDN’T TICKLE HIS FEET. YOU NEED TO MAKE SURE HE SLEEPS ON HIS SIDE. OR BACK. OR FRONT. OR SUSPENDED FROM THE CEILING. BREAST IS BEST! BREAST IS WORST! EITHER IS FINE! LOOK AT THAT POOR BOY’S SHOES. WHAT’S THE RASH ON HIS FACE? HOW COME YOU HAVEN’T CLEANED THAT SICK OUT OF HIS HAIR? IT’S FREEZING, WHY ISN’T HE WEARING A SOMETHINGVICIOUS.COM SWEATER? It goes on, and on, and on. Eventually you’ll stop caring, but it’s a shit feeling when you’re waiting for someone to send that intrusive nanny bastard off the telly round to take your son away and set fire to your hair.
So there you are. A little island of truth in a vast sea of positive-thinking bollocks. Having a kid is great, but not for the first 6-12 months when basically you’re looking after the shittest puppy in the world. Enjoy your pregnancies and your 24 hour labours because that little fucker’s main goal until its first birthday is to make you unlearn everything you know about how to enjoy life successfully.
See you in 18 years, chump.
In grateful thanks to comrade Jonjo.
You might not know this but Jonjo runs a spectacular online t-shirt empire at www.somethingvicious.com. He’s like the Walter White of t-shirt cartels except he has more hair and hasn’t killed as many people.
Since learning that my fiancee Laura is definitely, thoroughly, 100% wazzed up with a small, developing foetus whose sole hobby at present appears to be to make Laura as uncomfortable, ill and exhausted as possible, I’ve found that the impending fatherhood that’s hurtling towards me faster than when Laura’s little boy Max sprints at me with his lightsaber drawn and teeth bared is starting to stir up latent fears that I never even knew existed. Fears, I suspect, that only (would-be) parents are able to understand. As this is the first time I’ve ever experienced the unmerciful worry of expecting a child and all that it entails, it’s slowly starting to dawn on me that this unmerciful worry might not be buggering off and leaving me alone any time soon, and, in fact, is only just getting started.
As a misanthropic human being who finds the majority of human beings, myself included, irrationally stupid and irritating, you can imagine my slack-jawed surprise at discovering I’ve inadvertently created one of my own owing to our over-reliance on the rhythm method. That’s probably far too much information but the point I want to make is that impending fatherhood has caused me to conjure up anxieties that can emphatically remove one’s ability to think in a rational or cohesive manner. The slow but unremitting descent into parental madness has already begun, mostly when I’m sitting at my desk at work, scoffing crisps I’ve half-inched from the vending machine, and staring into the middle distance while the words ‘parent’, ‘dad’, and ‘what. the. actual. fuck’ do a tormenting dance of doom round my head.
Fortunately, I’m currently in the middle of an extensive training programme with Max and I’m quickly learning the ins and outs of upcoming dadhood. I’ve discovered with some aplomb that discussions with a small child don’t necessarily have to involve a conversation as such; more a frenetic rap of improvised words and half sentences spoken at 400mph and usually referencing a toy weapon, a heavily-sugared treat or an assiduous analysis of a favourite Ninjago character. Another startling revelation is how the space-time continuum dramatically alters whenever I’m dragged into the living room by way of a tight fist around my thumb in order to play some elaborately imagined game. Spending whole hours of your time breathlessly staggering around a room in the throes of a Star Wars Lego battle, while under strict rules that forbid you to use any Lego model other than that with which you’ve been carefully assigned, is immensely dispiriting when you realise that the whole hours you think you’ve been doing this actually amount to a grand total of about twelve minutes. It’s mind-blowing.
I’ve made peace with the unavoidable fact that whenever I’m in the bathroom it’s going to be accompanied by a symphony of relentless knocks on the door with cries of, ‘can you come and play yet?’ I’ve come to terms with being used as a climbing frame when I’m minding my own business on the settee and Max is in a playful mood, clambering all about my person simply because he can. I absolutely adore the sound of his laughter and the spontaneous hugs he bestows upon me. Thanks to his tutoring I’d like to think that I’m well on my way to completing my apprenticeship in modern parenting.
Unfortunately, this valuable training course doesn’t provide skills on how to cope with fear, worry and anxiety when faced with the undiluted terrors of pregnancy, childbirth and the resulting lifetime of ‘what the fuck do I do now?’ In fact it exacerbates them. Spending time with Max is telling me all I need to know about just how frigging terrifying this is all going to be, not only from the obvious natural concern that he’s going to be okay every single day of his life, and if he’s safe, happy and healthy, but other stuff too such as, ‘am I playing this game with him correctly?’, or ‘is he having fun with me today?’, or ‘does he hate me for refusing to allow him to tip the entire tub of fish food into the tank because he thinks the fish look particularly hungry?’ Traversing this minefield of anxiety is overwhelming. Of course these may sound like trivial concerns but until you’ve experienced the fallout from providing a small child with the incorrect plate at dinner then you have no base from which to judge.
General fears and worries about actually being a parent are slowly but viciously beginning to take over my life so I’ve put together a list of the ones I think are the most shit-my-pants inducing:
The Health Of Mother & Baby
Given what Laura’s currently going through with this pregnancy there isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not scrolling through horror stories on the interweb about the worst case scenarios of pregnancy and childbirth. It’s chilling reading. I spend at least a whole day a week at work trawling through articles about what to look out for, what to do, how often to check this, that and the other when reading about some awful ailment that can befall a mother and her unborn child.
In fact, about a month ago, after discovering how to dispense free espresso from the coffee machine at work and helping myself to about 19 cups, I began reading a terrifying article about a woman who gave birth to a 400lb baby sideways that killed her, and I suddenly developed severe palpitations, a thick sweat that ran down my back like a layer of frost, and extremely worrying breathing difficulties. Thankfully I was calmed down by my workmates who dismantled the coffee machine and installed parental controls to Google that blocked all internet searches that included the words ‘pregnancy’, ‘fatherhood’ and ‘complications’, as well as the words ‘Brad’ and ‘Pitt’ given what they found in my internet history.
When it comes to Laura giving birth, the only thing I care about is the health of Laura and the baby. Boy, girl, hairless, hairy, screaming, laughing, covered in ectoplasm, not covered in ectoplasm, I don’t care. The only words I want to hear are, ‘mother and baby are doing well’.
Presently, I work almost full time in a job that only pays when the overweight HR lady decides to log out of Facebook for long enough to run my hours through the payroll system. Consequently I spend a large amount of work time opening the vending machine cash boxes, taking large handfuls and replacing it with Monopoly money or doodles I do of the Queen when I should be doing more productive work like applying for jobs on the reception laptop or hiding in the disabled toilet when it’s busy. Despite how much fun it is, I can’t help but worry there’s an immoral if not criminal undertone to me helping myself to Mars Bars, Skittles and large amounts of currency but needs must.
As much as this so obviously appears to be a sound financial plan, I do have a niggling doubt that providing for my offspring in this way won’t quite offer it a secure or healthy platform for a rosy future. Just the other day I had a mild panic attack when I attempted to purchase a small Peter Rabbit-themed outfit from Mothercare. It cost nineteen sodding quid, it was smaller than my hand, and I had the depressing thought that one day I’d be using it to wash the dishes with.
As everyone is painfully aware, offspring cost money and my plan to mastermind a Point Break-style bank heist is the only way I can realistically see myself becoming financially solvent.
Responsibility/Readiness For Parenthood
What a difference a year makes. Twelve months ago I was drinking all night, sleeping for up to 12 hours a day and waking up chewing off my own tongue while threatening to kill anyone who ventured within four miles of my bedroom.
Nowadays I’m awoken any time between 12am and 6am by a child who enjoys shouting at the top of his voice for his mummy the minute his eyes open and realises it’s pitch black in his bedroom. Then when he eventually rouses himself and gives Laura and me a treat by climbing into our bed without one of us having to fetch him, he’ll spend another hour giving us a synopsis of the latest episode of Power Rangers as we loll about in a kind of drug-addled fuzz before he does his level best to clamber over or stand upright on various limbs while repeatedly making punching gestures and lightsaber noises in the general direction of my head.
I’m trying to consider whether being able to withstand this daily trauma counts as a huge accomplishment and a potential step forward towards my readiness as a father because, basically, I’m shit scared of whether I’ll be able to cope with every sodding aspect of parenthood. I should probably enrol on one of those mother and baby classes, buy a doll to practice on to see what my reaction is when I accidentally drop it on a hardwood floor, and start listening to Laura a bit more than I do when it comes to parenting. In the meantime, if anyone can offer any tips and advice please do so in monetary form via PayPal to the email address at the top of this page.
I’ll Become The Scourge Of Social Media
Few things are more galling than a parent who posts nothing but images, statuses and links about their kid or parenting to social media, specifically Facebook. Apart from those vacuous fuckwits who repeatedly post links to their tedious blog imploring their digital acquaintances to read it in order to appease their sense of self-importance, a human who throws every single aspect of their developing child onto the world wide web genuinely needs to get their priorities right. The internet is for annoying people, buying shit you don’t need and being a bigot, not for ruining your mates’ timelines with pictures of a pink alien looking bewildered.
More often than not the baby pictures tend to be the exact same image of the child with a shocked look on its face except dressed in a different outfit that presumably cost more than the parent’s weekly grocery shop. If I upload my future son or daughter’s entire life onto the internet before it can walk, talk, wipe its own arse or grow to an age where it can tell me to fuck off and mind my own business then you can happily report me to social services.
My Offspring Will Grow Up To Kill Me
This is one of my biggest fears. How annoying would it be to raise a child as best you can only for it to turn on you the minute you ask it for a bit of rent once it turns 18? My best mate, Phil, a father of two, told me the other day that this was something that never crossed his mind at all but that the likelihood of it happening to me is extremely high which makes me wonder whether he himself thinks about killing me, and how often.
A similar fear is being the parent of a kid who ends up being a despotic lunatic with a penchant for genocide, a Sunderland fan, or one of those little spelks who can’t differentiate between ‘your’ and ‘you’re’. Genuine concerns.
To be honest, I had another few hundred thousand fears and worries about fatherhood that I could have added to this list but at the risk of this turning into a cloying parenting blog I thought I’d better stop here.
My friends and family have insisted I’ll be able to just fall into it and be a fine father. Even people I don’t speak to or even like have contacted me to congratulate me and reassure me I’ll be a good dad which I find rather unsettling. Why I’m all of a sudden their best mate just because some of my semen can swim a few lengths without dying is beyond me.
But I digress. I should expect I’ll update the current status of my impending fatherhood over the coming months which I’m sure all both of you will be overjoyed to hear. In the meantime I’ll go back to sending irritating email to dimwitted strangers on the internet.
About four months ago I got my girlfriend up the duff.
Apparently this is life-altering news which will completely change my outlook on everything that’s ever existed in the history of this 4,500 year old earth. When my outlook will change, however, is anyone’s guess because I’m still stuck in what I’m reliably informed to be the ‘Wow, pregnant? Big day. What’s for tea?’ phase.
I can almost hear the swell of disapproving voices, or stifled laughter accompanied by the ‘he has absolutely no idea what’s coming…’ lecture from the po-faced matter-of-facters. While I appreciate and sense that all the giddiness and otherworldly excitement is in the post and will at some point be heading my way, at this precise moment in time it seems I’m caught in the limbo between the initial feelings of shock, awe, glee and wonder, and the finger-tapping humdrum feelings of ‘now what?’ Apparently this feeling of abject uselessness is completely normal for the father-to-be because, as a father-to-be, the only thing I can really do is sit and feel utterly useless watching my poor girlfriend implode from the effects of her pregnancy. This is because my poor embattled partner, Laura, is suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum which was unfortunately popularised as THE pregnancy illness to wish for after ghekko-faced, shape-shifting lizard-woman Kate Middleton was lumbered with it when she was knocked up with her evil offspring, Prince Georgie Porgie Pudding and Pie. And it’s utterly grim stuff.
For the first few weeks of this intense illness, Laura was violently sick multiple times – not just multiple times a day, but multiple times an hour – consumed nothing but jelly, a bowlful of which would last her up to a week, as well as having such violent feelings of intense nausea that I wouldn’t have been surprised if she’d asked me to euthanise her in order to put her out of her misery. This was all day and all night, and culminated in several trips to hospital via several trips to the doctor’s. And while the effects of this misery are currently not as monumental as those first couple of months – or Laura’s putting a stupendously brave face on if they are – she’s still in a constant state of exhaustion, sickness, lethargy and constant unease. Being the utter marvel that she is, however, she’s still managing to work full time, run a household, and look after her 4 year old son, Max – the ‘metre-high whirlwind’ as she delightfully refers to him – as well as put up with my constant whinging about everything and everyone like the absolute male that I am. How she manages to do it completely boggles the mind especially with me not having a sodding clue how to help her feel better thus feeling completely irritable and tetchy.
And let me be clear: this isn’t just morning sickness. All wazzed up women get that. This is unrelenting, unremitting, merciless, all-singing, all-dancing hell. on. earth. But Laura just gets on with it. I should probably start helping out a bit more instead of shouting at her to keep the noise down in the kitchen when I’m watching the football.
Anyway, to get back on point, I’m still waiting for that giddy moment of glee that awakens in me the realisation that I’m going to be a dad. Because it still hasn’t struck home yet. Friends and family have informed me that the moment I hold my future offspring in my arms when it’s a newborn will be the moment that life as I know it will never be the same again; I’ll fall instantly in love with a squidgy ball of flesh and not feel at all disgusted that it’s screaming at me, vomming on me, or shitting on me. Or a sprightly combination of all three. As a gambling man, I would proffer decent odds against immediately experiencing pangs of adoration for something that was doing all of that at me.
Furthermore, I’m still harbouring feelings of intense suspicion towards my nearest and dearest after they all confidently assured me that when I was learning to drive everything would just ‘click’ and I’d be an annoying boy racer in no time. Spoiler alert: it didn’t, and I’ve abandoned all thoughts of driving after my confidence and finances were utterly crushed with nothing to show for it. So you’ll forgive me if I don’t take their word as gospel when it comes to me experiencing appropriate emotion towards my future son or daughter.
Thankfully, however, all is not lost, and there is hope for me growing a soul and developing into a proper human father as I’ve recently been in intense training on how to be a new dad with Laura’s delightful little boy, Max. For the most part, Max and I are best buds. We laugh, joke and wind each other up, have spectacular lightsaber battles, create entire universes with his vast array of Lego blocks, and can wax lyrical for ages about the finer points of Star Wars, Peter Rabbit and what he’s going to get for Christmas off me for the next decade or so. Admittedly, there are moments when things aren’t all as rosy as can be: a constant war of attrition when Max clambers into our bed in the middle of the night, asserting his territorial dominance and booting me in the back 400 times over the course of the night resulting in me relocating to the floor in the spare room is just one of the more stickier moments in our relationship. As all parents can appreciate, when things go well, things are wonderful. But when they don’t, it’s unadulterated terror. I’m slowly but surely learning this but I’m still some way off appreciating just what the fuck is going on.
One of the more disarming things I’ve found about training to be a dad with a 4 year old child is the newly-discovered brevity and concise nature of my everyday vernacular. Where once I’d offer emphatic declarations of awe and affectations of amazement at a messily coloured picture, or a box of Lego successfully constructed, the consequences of hearing my name repeated 400 times an hour, being yelled at to ‘look at MEEEE NOWWWW!’ every 12 seconds, and being attacked with improvised weaponry made out of cardboard has understandably dulled my enthusiasm to respond with apparent fervour. The result of this is my responses to whatever activity Max is immersed in now simply consist of raised eyebrows, a nod of the head and elongated, one word responses – ‘Wowwwww!’ ‘Woooaahhhh!’ ‘Cooool!’ – while hoping I won’t get screamed at if I don’t stand instantly to attention.
Furthermore, I’ve often found myself, with much amazement and wonder, caught in deep conversation with Max before the discourse has really even begun. I regularly have little chats with him, the dialogue of which unfolds something like this:
Me: ‘Yes, Max?’
Max: ‘Chris… Um…?’
Me: ‘Yes, Max?’
Max: ‘Chris! Chris!’
Max: ‘Um…Chris, Chris…?’
Me: ‘Max, Max… yes?’
Max: ‘Um… Um… Um… Chris?’
And so on and so forth. Chats like these happen over the course of about 12 seconds. Obviously this is just his little brain working overtime and getting overexcited, trying to get everything out at once before he can launch himself into another mini-adventure involving attacking my lower body with his lightsaber and repeatedly informing me that I’ll soon be experiencing a bloody and gruesome death involving the removal of several limbs and my head. For a 4 year old, getting overexcited is something that comes as naturally to him as hiding in the bathroom with the door locked does to Laura and me. What I find
terrifying fascinating is the process in which the over-excitement presents itself when Max wants to play a game. Especially if he’s very tired and knows that time is at a premium. Below is a conversation I typed out when I happened to be working at my laptop right at the time Max was asking me to play with him as bedtime was approaching:
Max: ‘Chris! Chris! Chris!’
Me: ‘Yes, Max?
Max: ‘Chris! Chris! Will you… Chris! CHRIS! Will you..?’
Me: ‘What, Max? Will I… what?’
Max: ‘CHRIS! Chris! CHRIS! CHRIIIIIIIS! Will you…? Will you…? CHRIIIIIIIS!’ CHRIS! LOOK AT ME! CHRIS! LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME!’
Me: ‘Yes, Max, I’m looking!’
Max: ‘Will you… Will you play a game with me? Chris, will you play a game with me? Will you play Lego with me?’
Me: ‘I’ll be twooooo seconds, duuuude…’
Max: ‘Ah-ahhhh! Play Lego with me now, Chris! Chris! Chrisss!’
Me: ‘Okay, Max, what shall we build?’
Max: ‘We have to play Lego. Chris, will you play Lego with me?’
Me: ‘Yes, Max. We’re playing. What shall we build?’
Max: ‘Okay, okay, okay. Chris, Chris, Chris… We have to build Lego men. Chris, Chris, Chris, you need to make a Lego man with a gun and I need to make a Lego man with a sword. Chris, Chris, CHRIS! CHRIIIIIIIIIS! CHRRRRRIIIIIIIIISSSS! Noooooooo! You’re doing it wrong!!! CHRISSSSSSSS! NOOOOO! CHRISSSS!’
Me: ‘Well, show me how to do it, Max.’
Max: ‘That Lego man CAN’T have A SWOOOOOORD! He has to have a gun!!! Aaaarrrrrrrgh! CHRRRRIIIIISSSSSSSSSS!’
On occasion there would follow an explosive scream of frustration, tears and a mini-tantrum which sometimes incorporates an off-the-scale screech that causes the neighbour’s cat to go and drown itself in the nearest garden pond.
Another arresting situation that I’ve found myself being privy to is as a central part of a deep and meaningful conversation while Max is ‘having a poo-poo’. Nowadays he seems incapable of doing his business without me being there to accompany him as he goes through the motions, all the while discussing the salient concerns of which is the most powerful Ninjago character, and how cool it would be to be able ‘spinjitzu’ up and down the stairs. Call me naive, but this was a scenario I never, ever thought I’d be involved in when Laura and I first got together. More recently it’s become an inescapable necessity that I be the one to undertake this eye-opening task, and the times when I’m unable to, or suggest that he’s more than capable of doing it all by himself, can occasionally result in an ‘incident’. A shouty one. So this is something I’m just going to have to come to terms with. Deep discussion and putting the world to rights in the bathroom amid the aromas and symphony of a small boy having a shit.
And I don’t think there’s anything that can prepare you for the shock of watching a child sitting on the toilet doing Chewbacca impressions before standing, baring his wee backside and shouting, ‘FINIIIIIISHED!’ while demanding you wipe his bum without gagging.
But this is all excellent training I suppose. I should expect I’ll be changing nappies and cleaning up throughout the wee small hours when the new offspring arrives in July. You can’t even imagine how much I’m looking forward to doing that especially if there’s live boxing or UFC being broadcast from America at stupid o’clock in the morning. Obviously. And then there’s all the vomit and stuff but, again, I’m getting completely used to all that what with poor Laura hugging the porcelain every day.
No doubt I’ll be posting regular updates about all this and I’ll be sure to let you know if I grow a soul…
A few months ago after a moment of uncharacteristic positivity, I made a casual enquiry with various instructors about what my chances were at ever passing a driving test should I choose to learn the practicalities prior to actually taking one. I spoke to several driving instructors and informed them that the total experience I have when it comes to driving amounted to playing Mario Kart on the Super Nintendo when I was 12, being forced to watch Formula One against my will whenever I visit my friend Steve, and gleefully grabbing the wheel of the car and lurching it into oncoming traffic for fun every time I’m in the car with my best mate, Phil. I was told that while this was all reassuring experience it probably wouldn’t help me learn to drive in real life so I should best get some lessons booked in. So I did.
As you may or may not be aware, back in October I blogged about my initial forays into attempting to manoeuvre a car without it resulting in an explosion of some sort, and aside from gaining extensive experience in how to endanger human lives, the only thing I’ve learned is that spending £800 of your money, four and a half months of your time, and an infinite amount mentally pissing on your self-respect doesn’t guarantee you the ability to move a car from A to B. Given how much I despise anything to do with cars – most intensely the people who drive them – the likelihood of me picking up the basics of driving straightaway wasn’t high at all. And let me tell you it was nowhere near as high as how my instructor’s voice gets when he shrieks in terror whenever I nervously approach a junction and I get my feet muddled up resulting in me slamming my foot down on the accelerator instead of the brake.
Literally everyone I spoke to before I started learning to drive confidently asserted that one day everything I’m being told during my lessons would just ‘click’ into place like some magic spell that would wondrously transform me into the mentally-agitated equivalent of Lewis Hamilton, but without the money and annoying disposition. Once everything ‘clicks’, I was told, then it’s just a case of improving with each lesson, the instructor would ‘put you forward for your test’, whatever that means, and then it would only be a matter of time before I joined the mass throng of impatient, self-centred, obnoxious arseholes that currently patrol the UK’s roads in their metal coffins. In theory it sounded simple. In reality it was an exercise in complete and utter incompetence.
Never have I been as bad at anything as I am at driving. Or at least attempting to drive. Though maybe that’s overstating it a bit as I’m pretty abysmal at anything to do with numbers. Once, during my GCSE Mathematics examination when I was 16, I opened the test booklet that contained the sums that would potentially shape my future, took one horrified look at the jumbled array of figures looking back at me, wrote ‘I give up’ on the front of the paper then quietly went to sleep for the remainder of the exam. Comparatively, I’m far worse at driving than I am at attempting to negotiate a page of angry-looking numbers, figures and fractions. My family and friends think I’m exaggerating how woeful I actually am but let’s take a look at the evidence:
Previously, I’d mentioned I was eight lessons of driving tuition in, sixteen hours in total, and during that time I’d been told how to start the car, change gear, pull away, stop, reverse, and what to do at roundabouts and junctions. In the following weeks and lessons (and let me state for the record that there’s been another twelve of the bastards which amounts to a grand total of forty hours of driving tuition), I’ve been informed of parking, reverse parking, parallel parking, three-point turns, overtaking and absolutely loads more that went in one ear and out the other. Of the six basics of driving that I’ve stated (starting the car, changing gear etc) the only thing I can do with any degree of ease and confidence is stop the car. And that involves such a sudden thump on the brake pedal that it regularly causes my poor girlfriend in the passenger seat to lurch forward and only narrowly avoid knocking herself clean out on the windscreen by the car immediately rolling backwards and throwing her back into her seat because of my inability to apply the handbrake before I release the brake pedal.
As for the others, where do I start? I routinely lock the steering wheel when attempting to start the car which, bizarrely, causes me to stare absently into the middle distance, my gear changes involve two hands and a struggle that suggests I’m stabbing somebody to death, and my approaches to roundabouts are guaranteed to include the phrase, ‘WHAT THE FUCK DO I DO NOW?!’ as happened seven times when out and about with Laura the other day. And my parking? Call me naive, but when I first decided to learn to drive I never thought parking would entail driving into a car park, stopping the car, getting out, then watching as your girlfriend did it for you.
Additionally, I regularly go into what I call ‘shit-my-pants mode’ in which my brain disengages function with the rest of my body and I kind of freeze and loll about as the car cruises at 50mph towards a red light. I’m only jolted out of this psychological death-hold by my instructor screaming that now is the time we’re going to die. And let’s not forget I’m twenty lessons in. That’s forty sodding hours. That’s eight hours a day for five days, and I’m still no further forward from where I was after lessons three, four and five. It would be infuriating if it wasn’t so depressing.
My biggest problem by a substantial distance, however, is pulling away after I’ve stopped at a junction. It’s literally blind luck if I do it right. Just the other day I stalled three times attempting to pull onto a busy roundabout, screamed a bit, then the car kind of shut down and just rolled forward into speeding traffic with me helpless and clueless to do anything. I never, ever, ever thought that one day I would class driving to the local shop as an extreme sport.
The only flicker of light in all this doom and gloom was how easy the theory test was. Believe it or not I passed first time, and that was simply because the test I got was exactly the same – I’m talking a question for question carbon copy – of the practice test I’d done at work that morning when I should have been working. Apparently, however, it’s only valid for two years after which you have to take it again if you don’t pass the practical. So I’m going to have to take it all over again. Sigh.
Anyway, it’s very clear that I can’t drive even after all this time and tuition so I’m changing my instructor next week. In spite of all of my flagrant ineptitude and troubles behind the wheel I will insist on blaming it on someone else. So, mercifully for him, his life expectancy will probably increase with me now out of the picture; though I can’t account for the extreme blood pressure he’ll have accrued from being in a car with me.
I expect another few months of fear and terror on the roads as I learn all over again with a new instructor so no doubt I’ll be updating right here if I survive.
So despite being 35 years old and very aware of that fact, I recently took it upon myself to begin driving lessons having spent the last 18 years steadfastly avoiding it, and being self-righteously part of the solution and not the problem.
There were several reasons as to why I’ve decided to learn to move a car from A to B, one being because my created-from-the-essence-of-evil girlfriend, Laura, had shrewdly employed a Jedi Mind Trick of sorts and strong-armed me into learning. Not physically strong-arming me, you understand, but more of a subtle psychological warfare in the form of aggressive sighing, and insinuating by way of pursing her lips and raising her eyebrows disapprovingly that all future plans together will be irreparably destroyed if I don’t pull my finger out and get behind the wheel of a car. Like the expressive facial equivalent of saying, ‘I’m not angry, just disappointed’. She’s completely right, of course. I’ve put this off for far too long and given that we plan on embarking on a Bonnie & Clyde-esque future together as career criminals, it makes sense that I learn. That’s true love that is.
It should be noted here that I genuinely don’t have any interest in cars. Or engines. Or wheels, cup holders, drive-by shootings, gearboxes, boy racing, roadkill, 15-car pile ups or lollipop ladies. If any conversation I was unfortunate enough to be a part of would lead towards a discussion about horsepower, miles to the gallon or hastily leaving the scene of an accident, my eyes would glaze over, and I’d loll about distantly as if I was in the process of being euthanised, or listening to the Zumba instructor at work barge her way into my office to loudly talk at me about the scientific merit of her latest pair of fluorescent leggings. When I booked my first lesson and my friends and family asked what car I would be using I said a small, black one. They all laughed as if I wasn’t being serious. I really don’t understand the importance of what model car it is. They all do exactly the same thing except the more expensive ones tend to be filled with people with ill-fitting clothes and severe emotional problems.
Anyway, it turns out that driving lessons are pretty expensive. Not to overburden my finances, I initially booked one lesson with the option of taking another lesson if that lesson had minimal casualties, then another lesson after that – providing I hadn’t abandoned the whole idea of driving and returned to my daily routine of getting on the bus to work carrying extra bags filled with old shoes that I use to put on the seat next to me to discourage other passengers from sitting down. (Just this morning I laid out my Official DVSA Theory Test quiz book, bag and Transformer pencil-case on the seat next to me in order to look like I care about my automobile study, and to put off any potential seat hijackers. Unfortunately this didn’t work and a rotund fellow with garlic-scented aftershave sat next to me as if it was the most normal thing in the world. I was appalled, especially after I reached into my pocket to get my phone and he adjusted his seat position, pinning my hand to my leg and the upper side of his left buttock. I remained this way for 20 minutes until it was my stop and only regained full feeling in my hand when I got to work and I accidentally trapped it in the vending machine door after I’d spent the morning forlornly trying to steal Milky Bar Buttons using the droppy bit at the bottom).
But I digress. The point I’m making is that driving lessons cost a fair whack of hard-earned. Those initial three lessons were emphatically pricey enough for me to have to stop paying for other stuff like food and rent. The food I could live without but I was distraught when I had to skip paying my house fees. Currently, I’m six lessons in which is twelve hours in real time and the sky-rocketing price has become so astronomical that I’m seriously concerned about where my next pair of pants are coming from, or how I’m going to afford to buy my 13 cups of coffee a day from Costa. Case in point being a conversation I had on WhatsApp the other day with Laura, who, perhaps more than anyone, understands my current plight and offers endearingly constructive ways to get around it, especially when it comes to nutrition:
My current diet of pasta and jam may go some way to explain why the actual driving lessons instil a sense of desperate fatigue, fear and a threat to lives on a number of levels. Despite being twelve hours of lessons in, I still need prompting to change gear, then an explanation on how to change gear, then when I fail to perform the gear change resulting in the car doing a kind of death rattle before shuddering onwards accompanied by a vicious glare from my disapproving instructor, there follows a conversation that occurs approximately 90 times throughout the lesson:
Instructor: ‘Now, why did you do that?’
Me: ‘Do what?’
Instructor: ‘You put the car from fifth into reverse while driving at 50mph.’
Me: ‘Did I? I thought that was second?’
Instructor: ‘Look at your mirror. See that metal thing back there in the middle of the road? That’s half of the engine.’
Me: ‘Is that not supposed to be there?’
Instructor: ‘You’re overthinking when you go to change gear. Why do you think so much?’
Me: ‘So I can function, usually. If I didn’t think I suspect there’d be more of our blood on the dashboard.’
Instructor: ‘You know what you’re doing. You’re just thinking too much. Stop thinking and just drive.’
Me: ‘But I can’t drive if I don’t know how to drive. That’s like saying to someone having a heart attack to stop having a heart attack and just live. It’s tricky.’
It’s not exactly quote for quote but the basic gist is that I don’t know what I’m doing but my instructor thinks I do and I’m just worrying about it. By far the easiest lesson was the first one where I started the car, pulled away and merrily drove around in circles like I’d been driving for 30 years. Since then I’ve slowly but surely been regressing to the point that if cars required them, I’d need stabilisers. And a stiff drink but apparently that’s not allowed despite my repeated protestations to my instructor to let me just this once.
I genuinely fear my driving lessons, and approach them with that sense of impending doom that you have when your manager emails you saying you need to have a meeting without specifying what it’s about. It’s, frankly, horrifying. Added to this was my driving instructor’s casual confession that he’d not long recovered from heart failure and wasn’t in ‘what I would call ship shape’; news, which, when he told me, surprised me enough that it caused me to veer the car on a brief but exciting sojourn into a lane of oncoming traffic.
My friends and family have all repeatedly informed me that one day everything will just ‘click’. While this seems like kind but ultimately redundant reassurance, I can’t shake the feeling that when I do eventually ‘click’, the ‘click’ will be the sound of a physician switching off my life support machine at the culmination of a five year stint in a coma caused by my sheer obliviousness when behind the wheel of a car. Given how long I expect these lessons to continue, I’ll be posting yearly updates with my
lack of progress. Thanks are not required.
Much like my inability to engage the brakes when trundling down a hill, I fear this one will roll and roll…