Losing Your Cool

When I turned on my computer today and logged onto the internet I saw the Yahoo! News feature – ‘‘Coolest’ brands in UK named’. As I read on, I had an underwhelming feeling of – ‘What the fuck is this shit?’ I find I get this feeling quite a lot when I read stuff in the media. For example ‘XXXX is now ‘trending’ on Twitter’ is one of the 21st century’s most utterly, ridiculous, social media statements. It’s a bit like announcing on Red Porn that ‘XXXX is still wanking in his bedroom’ – surely people are more interested in the product rather than its self-yanking bi-product – or maybe not – I don’t know. What I do know is anything/anybody who is cool would not like to be on a list of the coolest things. The existence of such a list and the subsequent inclusion in said list is the antithesis of ‘cool’. Groucho Marx put it best when he said “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member”, the point being, genuine ‘cool’ is a self-defining state of being that can be earned or learnt. It cannot be bought.

Remember when Gucci bags, Armani jeans and goatee beard’s were cool? Prada shoes too, and long hair. Then it was short hair and facial stubble. Now, I think for men it’s wearing long pointy shoes, really tight pants and tight, retro looking shirts with a full beard and no muscle definition, whilst in possession of an i-Phone and a laptop and a job in the creative industry. I don’t really know what the latest cool thing is for women because I can’t keep up, but I see a lot of vintage clothing, pale skin, garish makeup and peculiar hairdo fusions of 50’s, 60’s and 70’s styles. False nails, hair extensions, plastic surgery and doing Yoga is cool too, I think.

The Sony Vaio used to be cool, until everybody was schooled by purchasing an iPod and realised whatever PC you had it was shit compared to an Apple Mac. Now Apple is cool. Hip-hop used to be cool, and Brit Pop. You would think that musical taste is a pure, emotionally subjective choice, but I do believe that music too can wane in and out of coolness like an audio fashion accessory. Unless it’s just the scene the music is associated with, I’m not too sure but that’s probably the link. But then that doesn’t explain restaurants, food and drink. The British have historically been a nation of tea drinkers, but then we suddenly found coffee cool; but only if it is a something-o-chino, with chocolate, lavender and ginger Sicilian goats milk, and served in a big cup from a proper Barista called Raymond from Belfast with Hula Hoop things in what’s left of his earlobe that he had pierced with a javelin because it was cool. Getting 15 pence change from a fiver isn’t so cool though. Actually, I don’t think paying for things with a fiver is cool anymore. Is referring to £5 as a fiver cool?

Britt Ekland, in a convertible, smoking a cigarette, looking all continental and sexy is just so cool. Katie Price in a pink Range Rover looking all cheap and plastic just isn’t.

‘Enigmatic’ and ‘charismatic’ are two words rightly associated with anything cool, but it’s difficult to attribute either of these adjectives to something that is generically, populist. Cool can be an enduring quality of an individual or event, but when dealing with a product, it is usually defined by its transience. A product will be cool for a time, then it will get on a list of cool things and it will immediately become shit.

One of the biggest victims of the transient nature of cool is the poor, new Mini. Well it’s not so new anymore, but when it was re-launched in 2001 it had all the hallmarks of a style icon – which was probably a forewarning. It was quirky and retro and it featured in a cool 60’s film with a cool Michael Caine who does a cool robbery in Rome using these cool little Mini’s. Yes it was originally a British made car, which meant it was probably shit, but now it was being made by BMW, which is cool and reliable.

The Mini was so cool when it first came out. It was the car of attractive young things who had gadgets and attractive friends and went to great nightclubs and bars and were just dead cool and dead, dead, individual and quirky and everything and stuff. Now it’s a little rich girl / guys 21st birthday present. It’s what aspiring, young, office workers buy rather than go all-out on the expense of a fully grown BMW, which would cost them a lot more in insurance and be more difficult to park. It’s the car of choice for middle-management aspiring women who are unhealthy, overweight and unattractive because they’ve spent most of their youth aspiring and competing with BMW driving, male counterparts. They fill the car out like they do that executive, pencil skirt they bought just before Christmas, and when they’re sat in their Mini Cooper S looking bitter and tired, it just doesn’t look cool. The Mini is still a cool car when there’s a cool person in it, but would a really cool person drive a Mini?

“Are you driving that Mini that’s parked outside mother fucker?”

Cool people can make things cool, like Samuel Jackson’s afro in Pulp Fiction for instance. Samuel Jackson could wear a pink hairnet and plait his beard with ginger squirrel tails and he would still be cool. Jessie J has a haircut like someone off a 70’s sci-fi movie, she eats pussy and likes cock, and she’s still cool. Helen Mirren is as old as the Queen and she’s still cool. Muhammad Ali can barely even walk or talk and he’s still cool. Vivienne Westwood is old, ugly and makes crazy clothes, yet somehow she is still cool. Steve McQueen is dead and even he’s still cool. The one thing you’ll notice about really, really, cool people is that they’re usually really fucking good at something. Miles Davis, Pam Grier, Paul Newman, James Dean, Angelina Jolie, James Bond, Eric Cantona – even Noel Gallagher – these people could step out of a Skoda at a Hollywood Movie premier and soil themselves and they’d still manage to be cool. That’s just how it is. That is the enigma, and that enigma is cool.

Off-the-shelf coolness is a bit like the loyalty of a Premier League footballer – it’s a fleeting thing that can be secured for a period of time by spending money. One minute its sleeve tattoos, MMA training, fake tan and BMW ownership, the next minute it’s the unwashed, pasty, heroin-addict look, doing Tai-Chi, drinking ‘real ale’ that costs the price of an elaborate cocktail, being vegetarian, and driving a ‘classic’ car that does about 7 miles to the gallon and pollutes the earth like only a 70’s vehicle can, even though you only drive it two weeks of the year because the rest of the time it’s broke, and because you don’t know anything about maintaining a classic car you have to wait until you’ve saved up enough money from your job as a Barista to get the thing repaired. Why have you got a car anyway? You live in the city centre because it’s cool. You should have a retro bike with no gears or breaks but a really cool shaped frame and high handlebars that make it almost dangerous to ride. Don’t you know that people who own cars and live in the city centre aren’t cool?

The truth is, you can’t buy cool. If you could buy cool then all those things that were once cool but are now shit would still be cool and so would you. The problem with buying cool is that anyone with money, a good shoplifter or access to thieves, can also get off-the-shelf cool too. Once every Tom, Dickhead and Half Ton Mum start adorning themselves with the accoutrements of cool and it reaches a saturation point of mass public imitation, it’s no longer cool. Don’t get me wrong, having an Aston Martin would be pretty cool, but it wouldn’t make you cool. James Bond and the car complement each other because they’re both cool. I saw Michael Gambon sat at traffic lights, nonchalantly smoking a cigarette in his Bentley Continental outside the BBC at White City in London once, and he looked very cool. If I saw Rio Ferdinand in that car, he would just look like a twat. Cool is not a purchase, and as an association, by definition, you don’t possess it. Cool is a natural swagger, verve, attitude, wit or charm – although the charm is optional. There’s a self-assuredness about cool that screams, understatement. And the thing is, if you’re not cool, then that’s cool too. Because I think the main thing about being cool, is that you have to be cool about how cool you are. Which is why Cristiano Ronaldo is such a cock.

“Get it? Got it? Good, now be cool.”

Please feel free to share your views on what is cool and what is not and why. If I agree we’ll be like ‘Yaaay’, and if we disagree, I’ll try to be witty and make fun of your suggestions and it’ll be fun; for me. This will be a cool thing to do.


The NUS Guide to Student Fun… Not!

Last year I decided for professional reasons that I needed to go back to college. Without going into the boring details, I needed to bolster my academic qualifications to ensure that I would be able to live the life I have grown accustomed to long into the future, and improve my chances of promotion and earning potential. To do this I would have to embark on an additional year of full time study, which meant a pretty hefty commitment. I would have to re-enter the student fraternity for a second time, only this time around I would be old enough to have been the teenage father of most of my young, academic, contemporaries. So in order to psyche myself up for this daunting prospect I decided to focus on the positives and actually start looking forward to it. After all, I’m not that old. I have a pretty youthful outlook and demeanour, and with a shave and haircut I can cut a decade off my age and slot in quite easily with a younger crowd. I may even be able to get away with going to parties like this…

…and this.

And meet crazy young guys like these…

And make friends with really cool guys like these…

Who knows, I might even get lucky and get with some really, hot, classy, young chicks like these…

I mean age ain’t nothing but a number, right? Linford Christie has still got it – almost…

And the dancehall and reggae legend that is Dj David ‘ramjam’ Rodigan can still ram and jam with the best of them.

All I had to do was catch up on how student life works these days. So what better place to go than the NUS website. There I would surely find all the information I would need to make the most of my student life. But what I read shocked me to the core.

On the homepage of the NUS website I saw the heading ‘Your Good Times Guide’ and immediately clicked the link to see what fun and frolics there was in store for me come term time. But as I read on I couldn’t believe the ears that you listen with when you read in your head; ‘What nonsense was this?’ I thought to myself. Well you have to read it to believe it, so here it is, 6 of the best things to do to enjoy yourself as a student if you don’t want to drink, according to the NUS. It’s not a long list, but it is a sad one:

1. Organise an alternative party
A party that doesn’t focus on alcohol might just go down better than you think – you could throw open your doors for a swap shop, where all the guests bring clothes or other items they don’t want any more to exchange. Team it with a couple of our mocktail / low-alcohol cocktails and some good nibbles and you can make a great evening of it!
2. Ghost walk
Feeling kind of spooooky? Once darkness falls, you can find a tour of the haunted sites in most cities. Try one, if you dare…
3. Karaoke
Standing on stage singing to strangers more your idea of hell than a fun night out? Well worry not, there are an increasing amount of dedicated karaoke parlours with private booths that can be hired out by the hour for parties of different sizes. Rally your friends and enjoy a good old fashioned sing-a-long.
4. Spa night
Lots of spas now stay open later and cost much less to attend in the evening. Why not spend some quality time chilling out with your mates? You’ll probably come out so relaxed and glowing that you won’t even want to contemplate ruining your zen with alcohol!
5. Ice skating or roller disco
Release your inner teenager and head down to the ice rink. A bit of exercise and a good chance of a laugh when you and your mates all end up on the floor! Alternatively take a trip to your nearest roller disco. There normally is a bar on site, but let’s face it – booze + skates = broken bones. Dressing up retro style is encouraged, and they’re held in cities across the UK.
6. Let NUS Extra come up with the ideas for you!
Still struggling for ideas? Why not let NUS Extra do the hard work? With your NUS Extra card you can access loads of exclusive discounts to make your night that little bit more enjoyable!

Ok, that’s enough of that shite. I mean ok, I appreciate that colleges and universities are places of learning, but come on – ghost walks, karaoke and swap meets!!! I mean WTF! That list is hardly going to make for a memorable student experience is it?

Well as you can tell, I was somewhat outraged at the sheer, reckless, dreary, tedium of this list and I was forced to write to the moderator to complain:

Hello NUS comment moderator;

I’ve recently rejoined the landscape of student life and I’m looking forward to all the fun I missed out on the first time around when I wasted far too much time taking my studying seriously in the naive belief that, if I worked really hard and did really well, I would achieve more success, wealth and greatness than those that just came from privileged families with lots of money and great contacts in business and industry, and those who were just naturally, accomplished sycophants, bullshitters and awesome brown-nosers. As a result I almost missed out on all of the fun during the ‘Summer of Love’ when people were partying at illegal raves in fields in the middle of nowhere, and getting all loved up and having great sex with strangers whilst feeling euphoric from the effects of downing very strong ecstasy tablets (it always amazes me that there is no ‘x’ in the word ‘ecstasy’). So reading your ‘Good Times Guide’ I couldn’t help but think that it was very irresponsible.

First of all, 1 to 3 and probably 4, would all be much more enjoyable activities if alcohol [and dare I say ‘drugs’] were involved. Only Mormons, Quakers and honest Muslims would disagree with me on this one. Your suggestion of a ‘Spa Night’ sounds like it came out of a conversation with George Michael and Boy George. I agree with one part of this suggestion though, if you did attend such an event I think it’s highly likely that you will “probably come out”.

The only suggestion I’m in agreement with is the ‘Ice Skating or Roller Disco’; this is definitely a fun activity not to be done whilst consuming alcohol. Alcohol consumption during either of these activities would be dangerous. If alcohol spilled on the ice it would turn it to slush and your ice-skates would stick, causing a fall, severe ankle damage, and God knows what else. If it were to spill on the floor of the roller disco then obvious skidding and slippage would result in roller carnage of some sort. To add to this, roller-skating or ice-skating whilst inebriated is utterly stupid and only safe if you’re a well paid member of the Jackass crew.

It goes without saying that having poo-pooed your previous five suggestions that I would not sanction going anywhere near number 6 – ‘Let NUS Extra come up with the ideas for you!’ I read a blog from a very attractive young lady studying in the UK and it sounded absolutely tragic. I think she may have read your ‘Good Times Guide’ when she joined the student fraternity and it seems to have completely skewed her idea of how to derive enjoyment from social gatherings. If you don’t believe me then you can read Jennifer’s sad take on going out here: The Pub vs Club Debate

I think that the NUS would do far better concentrating abolishing the violent and downright irresponsible ‘Annual Student Toss’. This underground sport is causing heartache and tragedy for families across the country as their aspiring young offspring are returning home scarred and broken from their reckless road challenges. If you have not heard of the AST then I have reported on it in my own blog right here: The Annual Student Toss

As much as I enjoy the spectacle, I intend on starting a national campaign against this vicious sport and would welcome support from the NUS in weaning our Freshers off their addiction to this pursuit. Please feel free to contact me if you think this is a cause that is worth supporting. In the meantime, please stop misguiding our students with your incredibly boring suggestions for having a good time, you’re a long time old and even a longer time dead, and as a wise man once said ‘A mis-spent youth is a youth well spent’.

Sincerely yours
Beasley Green

I am still awaiting a response.

“You’re pretty good, have you ever thought of being a writer?”

Well I did actually, and I even pursued my dreamy aspiration to be a scriptwriter for stage and screen. I never fancied being a novelist as my mind wanders after three pages of prose and I just lack the focus and attention to detailed descriptions of the everyday – for me the chair is just in the room waiting for someone to sit on it, it isn’t positioned at an eerie angle, casting an inky, black, shadow that looks like anything, it’s just a fucking chair in a room.

For a short while I thought I was actually developing what could be called a ‘career’ as a writer. I had my own UTR number from the taxman so that I could pronounce myself ‘Self Employed’ and Self Assess myself each year and declare my lack of income. I got a few commissions for work, including one from the BBC to write a radio play. I also wrote… sorry, I also ‘developed’ a few stage plays and received handouts from the Arts Council via projects via organisations via funding pots via a fair and unbiased commissioning process, to ‘develop’ work. I hobnobbed with arty, theatre people and learnt to smoke rollies and talk about people’s ‘work’ or ‘piece’ (real theatre people don’t make ‘plays’, that’s too narrow a definition) and use the words ‘conceptual’, ‘exploration’ and ‘aesthetic’ quite a lot in serious conversations with people who dressed exclusively in ironic references. There were some theatre people I spoke to who looked like they just didn’t really bother making an effort dressing at all, probably because they didn’t want to be simply defined by their clothes, and because dressing is a submission to Westernised doctrines of status and is inherently politically incorrect because all clothes are made by slave children in Third World countries that are oppressed by corporations; whereas rolling tobacco by Golden Virginia, expensive coffee by Starbucks, overpriced cheap wine and designer beer by whoever got the stock in at the venue’s bar, isn’t. There was one theatre person I recall who refused to even be defined by a gender, but I’m not going to talk about that person because I really don’t know which pronouns to use. She/He/It was boring anyway – and quite angry as I remember.

This is theatre Darling, this is how we roll.

During this period whilst I thought I was developing a career as a writer I wrote lots of spec scripts and was really motivated because I thought that one day soon all this hard work I was doing every evening out of creative compulsion was soon going to be rewarded by production. But whilst I watched lots of shit on stage and TV, I couldn’t get my own work beyond ‘development’. Whilst I was telling myself and other people that I was a Writer, I was actually just a person on ‘the arts scene’ who earned the occasional wage doing workshops for short projects, usually involving kids or Black people. You see this period when I pretended to myself that I was a Writer coincided with a period when England had a hip and trendy Labour government who liked culture and arts. Young people and ethnic diversity (dark skinned ethnicity only) were the most popular beneficiaries of their political charity, so it was a purple patch for Black writers and those of other non-white ethnic persuasion, as well as anyone doing anything creative to get kids off the street. So whilst I thought I was developing a career, I was really just spending public money to develop work that was unlikely to be ever made but would somehow add to some politically useful statistics. Even my one proper commission from the BBC doesn’t feel like that much of an achievement anymore because it was part of an initiative to get more Black, Asian and Disabled writers making radio. As for writing for film and television; aside from the occasional no-budget community short made with non-actors, the closest I got to a real commission ended in failure. It was a pilot episode I wrote for a new series that was being pitched to Bravo. Unfortunately Bravo didn’t pick it up so my 27 minutes of inspired genius and three weeks of enthusiastic, optimism, sadly ended in disappointment.

Positive mental attitude

When England won the bid to host the 2012 Olympics the Government had to find £8billion to add to the £3billion that they told everyone it was going to cost. This meant raiding the coffers of every non-essential public money pot, so in one fell swoop the Arts Council of England lost 50% of it’s funding. Then the coalition [Tory] government got into power and that signalled the end of the arts funding money train and the beginning of the end of my illusory career as a Writer. I wasn’t stupid, I knew that I couldn’t buy shopping, pay rent or bills with pieces of paper that said ‘My writing is really good, everyone says so’. I tried to do it once and if it wasn’t for the fact that the security guard couldn’t catch me, I would have surely got arrested. I think that he may have been fitted with one of those special devices they put in shopping trolleys that make the wheels lock when you try to push them beyond the parameters of the supermarket car park, because he suddenly gave up the chase after about 20 yards. It was either that or the combination of carrying his weight whilst running against the pendulous rhythm of his large stomach and the lack of motivation when only getting paid a minimum wage that stopped him. It didn’t stop the spritely, middle-aged, woman from the customer services counter, she required a firm punch in the face – jobsworth.

After the supermarket incident and breaking my electric meter by trying to push pieces of paper with the words ‘My writing is really good, everyone says so’ written on them into the card slot, I knew the dream had ended. I didn’t want to become bitter and cynical and homeless, so I decided to get a job and just write for fun. So I satisfy my creative urges by writing this blog. Here I can vent my spleen and unleash my creative beast, unedited and without the empty promise of a fee if a producer picks it up at next years Edinburgh Fringe. I don’t have to pretend I like the work of my contemporaries, or drink vinegar flavoured red wine to the point of wanting to shag the lesbian stage manager with the green and fuchsia hair and multi-pierced face, in order to enjoy press night gatherings for new show’s that aren’t very good. I just write whatever the fuck I like and just give it away for free. I’m actually considering applying for charitable status and putting in a bid for some funding. I just need to find a connection with the Olympic legacy and I think I could be onto a winner.

Stop! Police.

10 stupid questions that police ask when they stop you in your car and 10 suitably stupid replies*

1) ‘Can you step out of the vehicle please?’
“No, I’m afraid I can’t. I can lurch out of the vehicle, roll out of the vehicle or even ease my way out of the vehicle, but until I own a gladiators chariot or a Popemobile I will never be able to ‘step’ out of a vehicle because that requires being in a standing position.”

2) ‘Is this your car Sir/Madam?’
Look around the car whilst developing an ever increasing look of surprise and suspicion then reply… “Oh my God! No, it isn’t officer. Thank you so much for bringing that to my attention. Now where the hell is my car?”

3) ‘Have you been drinking?’
a) “Yes I have officer. Can you drive me home because I’m pissed?”
b) “Yes, I have been drinking since the day I was born. Human beings are made up of 90% water and apparently if we stop drinking we will dehydrate and die within a couple of days.”

4) ‘Do you know what the speed limit is?’
“I’d imagine it is just enough to keep you awake and hyper but not so much that you become addicted.  I prefer a combination of cocaine and cannabis myself, speed makes you way too thin and cranky.”

5) ‘Do you know why I stopped you?’
a) “Err, is it because I was moving?”
b) “We’re you bored and fancied a chat?
d) “I’ve left the arm of that dead body hanging out of the boot haven’t I?”

6) ‘Do you know how fast you were going?’
“Yes I do, but I was trying to go faster and picking up a lot of speed until you stopped me.”

7) ‘Can I see your driving license please?’
“Certainly, but you will have to go to the DVLA in Swansea because they took it off me weeks ago because driving the wrong way up a one way road at 63 miles per hour in a 30 zone whilst drunk and disqualified is quite dangerous and also illegal apparently.”

8) ‘Have you got anything in the boot?’
“Yes officer, I have some upholstery, a spare wheel and a jack. You might also find some jump leads, a tow rope and a dead body. That’s probably why I was going so fast, if you don’t get them in the ground early they start to smell.”

9) ‘Can you give me your name and address please?’
“No, they belong to me and if I give them to you people might mistake me for a twat instead.”

10) ‘Are you trying to be funny?’
“Well if you can’t tell by now then you are never going to make Detective.”

Bonus question: ‘Don’t move or I’ll shoot.’
Sorry, there’s no appropriate response to this question because moments later you’re probably dying from a gunshot wound.

Now here are some videos from YouTube where Police Officers are made to look stupid. These are both educational and amusing.

*Use of these replies is entirely at your own risk. I accept no responsibility for you getting dragged out your car and beaten into a coma with a baton by a humourless, bitter and angry buffoon in uniform. However, if this does happen and you claim and subsequently win a substantial amount in damages, then I want a 10% instigation fee.

The Old Lady who Lives in Apartment C

There’s an old lady who lives in my apartment block who I have concerns for. She is somewhere between 67 and 102 years old and she often occupies my thoughts. Not for any perverse reasons, but because in over 10 years I have never seen anybody visit this lady. I have never even seen her speak to anyone. As far as I can tell the only company she keeps are the two bulging Asda bags that she carries around with her at all times. I don’t know if she keeps pet rats in these bags but I suspect not because they are plastic bags and any living thing kept in there would surely suffocate; which conjures up a stranger thought – what if she keeps dead pet rats in those bags? Or what if she is a serial killer and she is regularly disposing of body parts of people who came to visit? What if she is a reclusive millionaire and she keeps rolled up wads of money in these bags? You see this is the thing, the more I see of this woman, the less I know about her and the more outlandish my assumptions about her life become. Sometimes if I see her in the evening it keeps me up at night, but not in a perverse sense of course.

I have tried to speak to this old lady to be neighbourly and make her feel at ease, but her eyes frantically dart around in all directions like Stevie Wonder in an attempt to avoid any kind of eye contact when we pass on the street or on the driveway. When I did speak with her I couldn’t understand what she said. Her voice was little more than an incoherent mumble, a bit like a cross between Beaker off the Muppets and a drunken Ewok. I simply assumed that she is a little neurotic and nervy and my intrusion into her personal carrier bag space made her uncomfortable, but events later on in this post have made me reconsider.

“…when I look beyond the wrinkles, silver hair and charity shop clothing of the old lady in apartment C, I imagine that she was once quite a Looker.”

I have a problematic habit of staring at people. My Partner/Friend/Lover/Contracted Call Girl hates this. Although my staring is just an incidental to my mind working overtime as I try to imagine the lives and scenarios of the people and events around me when I’m a little bored or mentally restless, she only sees me staring at members of the opposite sex and reduces my social curiosity to banal lechery. Whilst banal lechery is sometimes my motivation, for the most part I’m just making things up. For example, when I look beyond the wrinkles, silver hair and charity shop clothing of the old lady in apartment C, I imagine that she was once quite a Looker. I then wonder why she doesn’t have a husband or some children. This leads me to believe that she was either a bitch or a slag or both; that her husband left her or that she was a party girl and has been around the block a number of times, but eventually left it too late to settle down and was banished to the shelf of spinsterhood. Whilst I understand that this might seem a little unfair and that there could be more sad and tragic reasons behind her apparent loneliness, and that people aren’t supposed to think ill thoughts of the elderly, it is only make believe. And let’s not forget that the elderly were once young, and just like all those Nazi war criminals, are just as likely to have been dirty, rotten, nasty, evil wankers as anybody else.

I thought about breaking into apartment C and fitting some webcams and streaming her inner life onto my computer, but I realise this is illegal. I also realise that I might see her naked, which, having seen Julie Goodyear parade around the Celebrity Big Brother house for two weeks, is an altogether more disturbing prospect. Instead I attempted to invite her around for a cup of tea if she was ever feeling in need of some company. This was a mistake.

One evening at around 9pm I heard my doorbell ring. I don’t like unexpected visitors and I’ve made this clear to my two friends. I wasn’t expecting anyone that night and it was too late for the postman or the bailiffs, so I was curious as to who it could be. When I looked through the spyhole of my front door I couldn’t make out what I was seeing through the fish-eyed-lens view. At first glance it looked like Heath Ledger as The Joker, but I knew this couldn’t be true because he would never have survived that fall at the end of The Dark Knight. Then she leaned forward to press the doorbell again, and the distorted image crystallised into meaning – it was the old lady from apartment C. She had put on an evening gown, some makeup and was carrying a bottle of something that looked alcoholic. I was scared. She looked like Betty Davies in ‘What Ever Happened to Baby Jane’, but the scary thing was she looked like Betty Davies in black and white. I stepped back from the door in the way that you do to distance yourself even further from a door when faced with an unwanted visitor through a spyhole, as if doing so makes you even less visible than being behind a solid wooden door would. She rang the doorbell one last time and I simply froze in fear and anxiety. It seemed too off-key to stand on the doorway and apologise to a woman old enough to be my history project that she had read my invitation all wrong, that I already had a Partner/Friend/Lover/Contracted Call Girl and our relationship was going fine. If the neighbours saw us how would it look? For a moment I thought of Fatal Attraction and feared for my pet rabbits, but we ate those at Easter as an offering to Jesus in protest toward the commercialisation of his festival (if you have never tried it, rabbit is quite a tasty dish; a lot better than cat and certainly not as tough to chew on as dog – although not as good as grey squirrel).

Cropped screenshot of Bette Davis and Joan Cra...

“Let me in, let me in NOW DAMN YOU!” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After ringing one last time, the old lady from apartment C bowed her head dejectedly, backed away from the door, spat on my car and left. I stood at the door for a moment and pondered what had just happened. I thought about that first time I attempted to speak with her and how she blushed and fidgeted and averted eye contact and I realised it was the same reaction a young girl has in the playground when a boy she likes asks her out. This thought made me feel sick. Had I led her on? Does this woman think that I was making advances? Does she put a glass up to the wall and listen to me having sex and pleasure herself at the thought of it!? Oh my God, what had I done!?

I now avoid the old lady from apartment C. I am now the one who crosses the road when I see her coming. I am the one who averts eye contact when I pass her on the drive. And instead of imaginatively ruminating about what her life was like when she was young, I imagine her stood at the end of the garden staring up at my bedroom window at night whilst caressing her breast and some nights I tremble and cry myself to sleep.

Random Add’s of Madness – Phantom Friends on Facebook

This is a cautionary tale about accepting anonymous friend requests on Facebook. It is copied word for word, although the names have been changed to protect the idiot. It all started off when… let’s call him ‘Shaun’ requested Facebook friendship with someone he didn’t know, hadn’t met and didn’t even introduce himself to via email, yet took great offence to being added to a group. ‘Shaun’ decided to air his complaint on the group’s page – now he wishes he hadn’t. Facebook Gold…

Shaun: ‘Please don’t add me without asking – This group is all about you I don’t right care to much for self-centred people. Cheers…’ [These are direct quotes so excuse the grammar]

Not really a pleasant thing to say to someone you don’t know; someone you had the courtesy to include in your cyber world. Besides that, when I read it I’d had a bad day, so I replied… ‘Dude, I don’t even know you, you added me! The page is about Manchester not me. I don’t like self-centred people either; I also dislike people who make judgements based off… well based off nothing really [see: “I don’t even know you”]. Have a camomile tea, listen to some Lisa Shaw, India Arie or Kate Bush – just relax and play some music eh, I won’t dare to interrupt or intervene on your Facebook experience ever again :-)’to which Shaun replied…
Shaun: ‘Pal all the post have got your name at the top — and I play my tune all the time — Maybe some hacking going down Don’t know bro I can’t check I have left the group – but all post had your name on bro’Now remember this ‘bro’ hails from the seaside town of Blackpool on the Lancashire coast – not a culturally diverse metropolis such as New York, London or Manchester… By now I’d driven home in rush hour traffic, and I know I was probably being a bit mean, but ‘bro’! No…! No you didn’t Shaun, you didn’t….‘Pal? Bro? I don’t know you from Adam! You’re one of many random strangers who want to ‘add’ me on Facebook, usually because I’ve been known to spin tune and promote the odd night over the years. Or perhaps it’s just because they think I’m ‘cool’ and I’m associated with other ‘cool’ people and they think by some kind of social-networking-cyber-energy-transference they will get some ‘cool’ too. I don’t know, I can only guess, but I add these strangers (some of whom actually introduce themselves and become friends), then I add them to my groups. There’s no ‘hacking going down’ lad, just promotion. I don’t know whether you noticed down there in your dying little seaside town, but Steve Zuckerberg and co just sold the IPO for this monster for about 100 billion dollars. Do you think people paid that so that they could look at your garden Gnomes, uplifting pictures and quotes and your colourful tattoos of record label logos? Of course they didn’t. Aside from keeping up with what your real friends are doing and sharing the occasional jokes and banter with people – FACEBOOK IS FOR ADVERTISING SHAUN! Maybe you think I’m over-reacting, but let me explain something to you Shaun; self-centred people are pricks; I’d even go as far to say they are absolute cunts. I don’t like being told I’m ‘self-centred’, especially by some random cyber-pal who knows nothing about me and doesn’t even have an image of his own face on his Facebook profile pictures; a random stranger who actually requested to be added to my little Facebook world (incidentally, ask yourself why you did that and I think you’ll find it was for selfish reasons). Furthermore Shaun, I don’t need you to be putting that response on the public forum for XXXXXXXXX. That is my company and that forum is there for people to find out things about Manchester that will encourage them to come to Manchester and hopefully use the service on offer. Is that wrong Shaun? Would you like me to come to your shop on XXXXX Road and paint on the window… ‘These paintings are shit. The whole icon black and white shadow image was done to death in the Noughties – move on and get an original idea you boring twat’? Although there would be more truth in that statement, it would still be pretty fucking rude wouldn’t it? Shaun, I don’t know who you are – and I suspect I don’t want to – but next time you have an urge to express your umbrage at being added to a group that you don’t like, do yourself a favour and just leave the group instead. And be thankful that I don’t copy and paste this whole exchange on my page, as my friends and readers do enjoy my rants, and I like to share them because I am a sharing person Shaun, not a self-centred one.
Cheers ;-)’After I’d sent that message my mood lifted a little and felt that I’d been a bit harsh and had indeed over-reacted. Then I got a reply. And it was with some caution that I opened up his message…

He replied [verbatim]: ‘Get fucked pal I don’t you from Adam in fact I never even rook time (he could have been of oriental persuasion!?) to look at your bullshit like you have mine and I’m not – Cos your a self-centred cock Full stop – do one mate’
He couldn’t look because he was blocked from seeing anything apart from this wall… Hello Shaun 😉
 ‎…now he’s blocked me from messaging him back, I’m gutted ;(
So there you have it boys and girls, be careful who you let into your Facebook family, there are some sensitive souls out there and they collect garden Gnomes.

The Annual Student Toss

As the new student season approaches all the big city universities are preparing for the influx of Freshers. Looking out of my office window, which overlooks the main road that runs through the student village, I can’t help but look forward to the Annual Student Toss.

The Annual Student Toss isn’t a game played by rugby boys to see who can shoot their load the furthest, nor is it a variation on Soggy Biscuit (I still can’t believe all those dirty old middle aged mum’s in my office actually know what that is!) The Annual Student Toss is a spectacle that only those who have a view of a main road where drunken students stagger from their accommodation to and from the clubs and bars in the city, will get to see. I am fortunate enough to be one of those people who at least 3 or 4 times a year hear that dull thud that tells me the games are underway.

The townspeople of Guadalupe, Chihuahua celebrate Rosario Ibanez’ acceptance into Manchester University by preparing her for the AST

The rules of the AST are simple – students pit their wits against traffic as they attempt the perilous journey from one side of the road to the other without getting knocked ten foot in the air by an oncoming vehicle they have somehow failed to notice. From what I gather, before crossing the road the competitor must first hinder themselves with a handicap. Handicaps vary from reckless vagueness to utter stupidity. Excessive consumption of alcohol and/or drugs whilst munching on a kebab is popular, as is confounding the senses by listening to music through an i-something, walking blindly into the road whilst texting or BBing or talking on a mobile phone is very common, but my personal favourite is The Trouser Shuffle, which involves the competitor struggling to walk whilst attempting to pull up a pair of pants that they have deliberately worn with a loose belt so that they hang down around their knees and show off their arse – priceless. If you’re really lucky you may get a combination hit – drunken student texting mates whilst eating a kebab and struggling with pants before being propelled ten foot into the air with a look of utter shock, horror and bemusement is rare but comic gold.

High flying business student Giles Faulkner-Bebbington scored a perfect ’10’ with his record breaking 32 metre toss off the front of a Range Rover. His economics professor told worried family members in hospital “Don’t worry, this kid will go far”.

The common denominator with all of these students is that for some reason they believe that a busy high street is actually a pedestrian plaza where you can stroll along nonchalantly without paying any attention to what is going on around you. You would have thought the absence of a fountain, statue, green space, or flocks of mutated pigeons eating discarded fast food was a give away. For me, just the fact that vehicles are continually driving up and down this elongated ‘plaza’ would have made me think “Hmm, this is actually a road, I better take care before I get hit by a ton and half of Mini Cooper.”

Although not quite on a par with The Hunger Games or The Running Man, this does seem a pretty sadistic spectator sport, but I am genuinely glad to say there have been no fatalities so far… Actually that can’t be true because there are speed cameras on the high street. Anybody who has done a speed awareness course will know that those big yellow money spinners come at a cost of three dead people a pop. Well all I can say is that there have been no fatalities on my watch… Yet.

Stop, look, listen – I mean how hard can it be!?

Now many of you have probably misjudged me as some sicko who enjoys seeing people get hurt; not so. First of all, most of these people don’t get that hurt because they are so drunk they are numb. Secondly, as wrong as it is, everybody enjoys seeing someone have a semi-painful accident… don’t they? Whether it’s right or wrong, seeing somebody trip up, fall over, walk into a post or get taken by surprise and hit by a car is just funny. I don’t know why. Maybe Jeremy Beadle and the makers of Jackass and Wipeout have the answer. There’s also something quite satisfying about the idea that the future masters of industry, lawyers and doctors – the brightest young things getting the best education that mummy and daddy can buy so that they can grow up and be well-paid arrogant smug pricks – can’t even negotiate a fucking road properly. I mean how can you get into a top university but not be capable of passing the test required to join The Tufty Club?

However, that said, road traffic accidents are no laughing matter – but in this instance I just can’t help it. So this year I think I’m going to appeal to the students on their level in a bid to prevent more accidents of this kind. I therefore intend on putting on a student night called ‘Roadkill’. Everyone has to dress up as a member of the Tufty Club and the bouncers will all have to dress up as Green Cross Code men. Everyone who buys a ticket will get a free green vodka sambuca shot and a condom with the message ‘THINK, STOP, WAIT UNTIL ITS SAFE’ printed on them. Proceeds from the night will go toward resurrecting the Tufty Club in universities across the country. It may seem an irresponsible idea because everyone will get drunk and it’s very likely someone will get hit by a car on the way back to their student digs. However, I’m sure that for those that make it back to shelter safely, the message of road safety will penetrate with good effect and get hammered home.