Category Archives: Everyday Bullshit

Because every day is a massive pile of fuck off

The Truth About Parenting

Fatherhood: easy.

Fatherhood: easy.

I’ve been the parent of small offspring – a boy named Finn – for nearly 3 months now, and here’s a little titbit of advice and information for all human beings who have ruined their lives, or will end up ruining their lives – accidentally or otherwise – in the near future: parenting is fucking easy. At this stage at least. There isn’t a sodding thing about looking after a new-born baby in the first few months that should cause a functioning, fully-evolved homosapien to whinge to their mates that being a parent is hard work. It fucking isn’t. It’s piss easy.

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.

 

Father 2

I used to love getting pissed with my dad when I was 10

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.

Father & Son goals...

Father and son goals…

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.

Love you.

 

 

A Wrong’un On The Road: The Final Journey

'Tree-folk person'

‘Tree-folk person’

 

‘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.

Imagine driving with just one hand on the wheel. Fucking cartoon show off fuck.

Imagine driving with just one hand on the wheel. Fucking cartoon show off fuck.

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’.

5 Ways Children Change Your Life… For The Worse

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.

CJP

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5 Ways Children Change Your Life… For The Worse

Words: Jonjo McNeill

Who told you you could eat my cookies?

Who told you you could eat my cookies?

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

Don't answer the door...

Don’t answer the door…

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)

Breakfast

Breakfast

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

Weapons. Always with the weapons.

Murderous little sods

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

Little shits...

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.

Fuck. The. Fuck. Off.

Fuck. The. Fuck. Off.

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.

5 Fears I Have About Fatherhood

Father and Son

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.

Fear. All of the fear. All of it.

Fear. All of the fear. All of it.

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

Just healthy.

Just healthy.

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’.

 

Financial Fears

This is just part and parcel of being a parent I reckon.

This is just part and parcel of being a parent I reckon.

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

Good parenting...

Good parenting…

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

Aww! Look at my kids! Look! LOOK! LOOK AT MY KIDS! FUCKING LOOK AT KIDS NOW! FUCK YOU!

Aww! Look at my kids! Look! LOOK! LOOK AT MY KIDS! FUCKING LOOK AT MY KIDS NOW! FUCK YOU!

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

Please, son, don't! Put the gun away! I bought you a Playstation when you were 8!

Please, son, don’t! Put the gun away! I bought you a Playstation when you were 8!

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.

Bye!

On Being A Father

DADS!

DADS!

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.

Christ...

Christ…

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.

Weapons. Always with the weapons.

Weapons. Always with the weapons.

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:

Max: ‘Chris…’
Me: ‘Yes, Max?’
Max: ‘Chris…’
Me: ‘Max?’
Max: ‘Chris… Um…?’
Me: ‘Yes, Max?’
Max: ‘Chris! Chris!’
Me: ‘Maaax…’
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…

 

Road Rage

Definitely this...

Lots of this going on…

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.

All of the death is heading my way...

All of the death is heading my way…

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.

This happened to me once. Not as dramatic, but still...

This happened to me once. Not as dramatic, but still…

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.

Happy 2016!

On The Road Again

Inevitability

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.

Inevitability...

Inevitability…

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:

Pasta & Jam

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.

Nothing at all like this...

Nothing at all like this…

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…

A Struggle With Sobriety

Click on this handsome picture of Pirlo drinking Merlot to donate to our sober struggle...

Click on this handsome picture of Pirlo drinking Merlot to donate to our sober struggle…

Everyone loves drinking. I know I do. Ever since I was 13 years old and I blithely helped myself to can after can of continental lager at my Aunty Von’s New Year’s Eve party then vommed off the side of my bed onto the bedroom floor, showering the cat with sick. I remember it vividly because my dad came up to check on me after being informed of harrowing heaving noises floating across the landing, quietly crept into the bedroom to see how I was then slipped over in it. Such was the state of his own inebriation he simply lay immobile on the floor in a pile of sick asking if I was okay with me groaning at him that the cat looked funny. I don’t recall but I’d like to think he lay there all night. It’s stuff like that that really bonds a father and son.

When I worked for the Inland Revenue a few years after leaving school, I discovered that working for the Inland Revenue was the sole reason that loads of work colleagues had serious drinking problems. One fellow I worked with used to wear slippers for work and surreptitiously guzzle from open cans of cider in his desk drawer. He did this every day for ages until one day he got overly giddy and answered the phone with the handset the wrong way up and began shouting that he couldn’t hear the person on the other end. He was dismissed not long after that and was replaced by a robot. That’s a true story. Apart from the robot bit.

GS15_Please-Support-Us_600x600

Anyway, apparently I look under 25. I have this regularly brought home to me by bored checkout operators in large supermarkets because of that stupid Challenge 25 rule thing. Rarely do I find myself attempting to purchase alcohol in supermarkets without being asked for identification from a perplexed looking cashier as I pat up and down my body pretending to look for the ID I clearly don’t have. I never get asked my age in bars or off-licences mainly because I clearly don’t look 17 despite not being able to grow a beard. I can usually tell when a cashier is unsure about my age as they eyeball me so fiercely as they’re swiping through all the toilet roll and crisps that it makes the top of my backside sweat. By the time they get to swiping through the Buckfast I can already feel the impending doom. For some reason I get really uncomfortable when I get asked for ID. Probably because of my fear of being publicly outed as someone with a drinking problem and I really don’t have a problem. I just hide my drinking from my family and friends and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

The last time I was asked for ID was when I was buying a couple of miniatures of Jack Daniels to help with nerves prior to my first driving lesson, and the inevitable ‘how old are you?’ question was asked by a jovial 103 year old at the till:

CONFUSED CHECK OUT LADY: ‘Hmmm, I can’t tell if you’re over 25. How old are you?

ME: ‘Yes, I’m over 25. I’m actually 35.’

APOPLECTIC CHECK OUT LADY: ‘You’re 35? Really? 35?!’

ME: ‘Yeah, I get asked for ID all the time in here because I’m so fresh-faced.’

COMPLIMENTARY CHECK OUT LADY: ‘Ha! You don’t look 35 at all. How do you keep yourself looking so young!?’

ME: ‘Loads of cocaine.’

At which point the bonhomie ended and she looked at me blankly before glancing over at her supervisor who fixed me with a glare and suggested he was slowly reaching under the counter for a club to smite me with like in those old Western movies when a dirty cowboy shows up and the barman reaches under the bar for a club to smite him with. I smiled but got nothing back in return.

The above scenario happens all too often which is why – for one month only – I’ve decided to completely forego alcohol altogether by taking part in the Go Sober For October challenge in aid of MacMillan Cancer Support. When I mentioned this to friends and family and on social media I got nothing but abuse and ridicule so I feel compelled to complete it in spite of my mind and body crying out that this is the stupidest idea I’ve ever had. Mind, it wasn’t even my idea. I was gently cajoled into doing it by my wonderful better half, Laura, who herself is also attempting to sober up for 31 days. Thirty one days. A month without a drink. Jesus.

But it’s all for a good cause so if you fancy donating something to MacMillan Cancer Support on behalf of our struggle then by all means do. It’ll mean so much to a lot of people, and most importantly, the more donations we get, the less likely I’ll turn to Class A narcotics in order to ease the pain. My dealer is just a text message away so please, donate what you can and save me from ending up on Jeremy Kyle with a tattoo on my face and a string vest on.

I love you too.

Click here to donate. Only if you want to like.

Click here to donate. Only if you want to like.

Barry Potter: Unpotted

So this morning when I was on the toilet I read a few pages of Barry Potter & The New World Order that I’d stolen off a child from the playgroup at work, and immediately became fascinated by J.R.R. Rowing’s weird little world of elves, goblins, drugs and chaos. So much so that I stopped reading and decided to write a brief review of it, as well as my private, personal thoughts so far. I should warn you before I begin that it’s an incredibly dangerous book that should be vetted by all relevant authorities then sent to America so normal people can read it and assess its suitability for the wider world.

Those of you who know me will know that for some time I’ve cultivated a somewhat unnerving fixation with a real Potter, namely Beatrix and her wonderfully friendly anthropomorphic creatures that steal, hunt, swear and have generally weak moral compasses. Unfortunately, her surname has been somewhat tarnished having been appropriated by that ubiquitous little squirt called Barry.

For the uninitiated, Barry Potter is a severely abused child wizard who likes to fly about on a broomstick fighting his arch-enemy Lord Vadermort who’s perpetually angry because of a life-long cocaine addiction which caused him to have most of the septum removed from his nose. Now he just harbours a severe LSD condition which causes intense hallucinations in which he visualises Danny Boy Radcliffe and Michael Gamble repeatedly attacking him with sticks, and himself gets his rocks off by attacking children. Both Barry and Vadermort have a mutual Facebook friend in Albus Tweedledum (played in the Holyrood motion pictures by the aforementioned Mickey Gamble) who is a grand wizard of the KKK and likes to wear his dressing gown, night-cap and slippers in public which, being something of a wise old sage, isn’t very wise at all given the amount of violent abuse dished out to students who wear their pyjama bottoms and Ugg boots to buy a pint of milk from the local Tesco Extra.

Lord Vadermort is played by him out of Schindler’s Lists with a funny name, Ralph Fine. It looks like Ralph but is apparently pronounced ‘Raaaafe’ as in ‘rafe’ which is all well and good but this isn’t GCSE English and I’m not a teacher.

Throughout the course of the books, movies, Broadway show, pantomime, cartoons, sitcom, soap opera and one man band, Lord Vadermort comes across as a whingeing old pisspot who moans about not having enough gak and hates everyone including those from a different background, social strata, anyone on a lower income; benefit claimants, asylum seekers, the working class, and anyone who comes into this country taking everyone’s jobs.

He does, however, have a handful of confidantes and besties with whom he likes to talk about dismantling the planet including insane News Corp emperor Rupert Murder, the overly ostentatious walking hairpiece Donald The Trump and all members of the Tory Party of Middle Earth, Middle England, England. Fun fact: J.R.R Rowing has said that she based Vadermort’s entire personality on those from the political spectrum. Here’s an extract from Wikileaks: ‘he is a “raging psychopath, devoid of the normal human responses to other people’s suffering”, and whose only ambition in life is to become all-powerful and immortal. He is also a sadist who hurts and murders people just for pleasure. He has no conscience, feels no remorse, and does not recognise the worth and humanity of anybody except himself. He feels no need for human companionship or friendship, and cannot comprehend love or affection for another. He believes he is superior to everyone around him, to the point that he frequently refers to himself in the third-person.’  At the time, J.R.R. Rowing caused a nationwide sensation when it was confirmed that she was reading aloud from the Tory Party manifesto, and current Tory stormtroopers the Primed Minister, Guy of Gisborne and Iain Dunked-In Shit are said to each have a copy of Lord Vadermort’s autobiography entitled ‘My Muggle’, and use it to inform home and foreign policy.

Our bespectacled little spelk Barry, however, has his own problems. Over the course of this inexplicably popular franchise, Barry repeatedly ropes in his two best mates, Ron Queasy and Hermione The Ranger, to do all his dirty work for him. Barry is a fame hungry tosser who got his place in the Hogroast School Of Witchery because of nepotism. He likes nothing better than to humiliate Ron and his low birth by commenting on how stupid he looks and that he has a magic wand but doesn’t know how to use it properly. As he grows up, he repeatedly leers at Hermione The Ranger and throws suggestive remarks at her at every opportunity. He knows deep down, however, that this is just a front for the confusing feelings he has about Ron Queasy and his flame-coloured mane. He won’t admit his true self though and continues to be a bastard to everyone he meets, including the audience watching. Barry is on the Premier League footballer scale of everything that’s wrong with Middle Earth. It’s no wonder the books sold 4500 copies. That’s nearly as old as the earth.

Ron Queasy is so-called because he looks generally uncomfortable with existing as a human being and fully aware that he is basically a figure of fun for the entire western world to take the piss out of simply because he looks he’d be more at home as the character Piggy in J.K. Tolkien’s Lord Of The Flies when all the other flies gang up on him, steal his glasses then squish him with a big rock. Needless to say, he has the last laugh as he ends up marrying Lady Emma What’s On? and having loads of babies together. (Not in real life, of course. In real life no one knows what happened to the lad who played Ron Queasy. I suspect he’s a paper boy somewhere.)

Anyway, Hermione The Ranger is played by the aforementioned Lady Emma What’s On? and she’s smarter than the average bear. When she was a little brat in the earlier movies, she was a right little brat. Bossy and vindictive almost to the point of being Machiavellian, I convinced myself that she was in cahoots with Lord Vadermort and was undercover in Barry’s wizard team of wizards like what Jason Bourne was in Martin Scorcheese’s brilliant masterpiece, They’ve Departed, in which Jason Bourne goes undercover as a policeman, disguised as Matt Damon, and Sir Leonardo Da Vinci goes undercover as a gangster in Jackie Nicholson’s motley crew of gangsters. That was an epic film. In the end they all died though which means there’ll be no sequel unless Michael Bay can bring them all back to life and add CGI and Transformers. Anyway, I digress. It turns out that Hermione The Ranger is bae with Queasy and Barry, flirts with them a lot as they get older, ultimately causing them to fall out, fight with sticks and eventually kiss and make up causing all kinds of media instrusion about Danny Boy Radcliffe’s sexuality in much the same way that Barry is gay in the books. Like Sammy and Fro-does in the Lords Of The Ring.

In real life, Lady Emma What’s On? has become an inspiring voice for the feminism movement, a vocal proponent of women’s rights as well as a U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador. She’s highlighted gender inequalities in the arts and politics and become an advocate for the HeForShe campaign. She’s a God-damn heroine that one, isn’t she? Her next starring role is in the live-action adaptation of Beauty and The Beast in which she plays Belle, a Disney character who is judged entirely on her looks, sticks with a violent and abusive partner and is bullied into abandoning her hobby of reading in order to be a submissive housewife. Feminism ftw.

There are other characters in the book as well but it’s mainly about Barry and his massive ego. In the end, they all do loads of speed, have a party and Lord Vadermort is written out by J.R.R Rowing who wanted to stop writing children’s horror stories in order to be a grown up writer like Dan Brown.

Overall, I thought it was good. Good but not great. It would be much better with Terminators in it. Preferably T-1000 but I’d be happy with Cyberdyne Systems Model 101.

For those of you who didn’t like it, including me, here’s a better wizard than Barry Potter:

Fuckity Fuck Bobbins

My blog is coming soon…

Very soon, there’s going to be a lot of offensive writing here. Fuckity fuck bobbins. See?