Thursday, May 15, 2014

Mr Liberation

I've noticed an odd phenomenon has started taking place in my house... a sort of sofa based war between myself and my fiance. There are no words, there was no great declaration and I've thus far put up no resistance - but now I feel it's time to put this out there to the other great household leaders and see if I am alone in my suffering.

I've noticed that when my fiance, let's call him Alan, and I are sat watching the TV or a film, about half way through I'll see his hand slowly, casually, almost sneakily make it's way across me under my line of vision and very carefully, barely even scuffing the fabric of my clothes, he'll lift the remote control off my lap and settle it on his arm of the sofa.

He seems to do this for no reason other than to liberate the poor, downtrodden remote control from my maniacal grasp and liberate it to his pastures green over there. He is the Red Cross to my dictator; freeing the helpless buttons from my tyranny.

Once he has the remote he settles; you can see his posture relax as he feels complete and heroic. His mind is clear now he knows there's no way I can flagrantly abuse the remote control for another night.

I don't know what he expects from me? Is he worried that one day he'll ask me to turn the volume up and turn to see me chewing on the batteries going, "IT'S NOT WORKING?!" Or that I'll glibly decide midway through the latest Avengers DVD that I'd rather watch Points of View and just flick from Robert DJ to a Celia from Clifton without checking with him first?

How badly does he think I misunderstand buttons? How does he live with himself that I regularly, nay often, make use of the oven left entirely to my own devices? I HAVE A SMART PHONE GENIUS, I CAN WORK THE REMOTE.

Not that we're really getting to watch much TV at the moment... our neighhbours recently purchased a new sound system and despite the vibrations being strong enough to play my coil like an accordion, I just feel too British to go downstairs and ask them to turn it down. It's just too awkward.

"Hello, I'm so sorry to bother you, but, the thing is, I do apologise but you're sort of ruining my life... would you mind awfully... no, no, I'm sorry - I shouldn't have brought it up. We'll just move, it's easier."

Instead, we've just started trying to watch whatever they're watching in tandem and pretending we have surround sound. It only works if you can get to their circled Radio Times in time, if not you end up watching Planet Earth to the melodious tones of Gregg Wallace from Masterchef. Lions making a kill in the Sahara, "Cooking doesn't get tougher than this." You are so right Gregg.

My neighbours are American, they get very in to the TV. You can hear them getting really in to the tense bits: WHOOO!! YEAH!!! OH MY GOD... NO?! SHITIDON'TBELIEVEIT And I'm sat there thinking, "Man they LOVE this, does America not have Flog-It?"

I've been trying to Derren Brown them into watching what I'm into so we can have a bit of compromise about the situation. A lot of my neighbours have put up Vote Green signs, but you'll notice if you take a look in my front garden, in the European Election I am voting Sherlock.

I'm just joking, I'm a twentysomething living in the south east... I don't have a garden. I'm sure house prices will be lower if Sherlock gets in though.

Maybe I'll ask him his position on it when he pops round to find out how and why my two neighbours were found early one morning with the batteries from my remote control wedged firmly horizontally in their nasal cavities. I guess perhaps Alan has been doing it for my good all along...

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Terror Flight

Stuck on a Ryanair flight and the smell coming off the guy in front is unbelievable... Somewhere between hot leather shoes full of old pot noodle, and the scent of stomach churning sexual debauchery in an unaired sauna.

As if it's not bad enough already that you're making your way out of paradise and back to a rainy bunch of pricks trying to convince you that Luton is in London. People who name airports are the most delusional guys in the world. Where do you live? North London. Oh yeah, whereabouts? Nottingham. Getting directions from them must be a nightmare... Excuse me, could you tell me where Sainsburys is? Oh yeah, no problem, there's a handy, convenient, well serviced efficient and hygienic Sainsburys not far from here at all. Oh yeah, where's that? Lebanon. London Lebanon, your convenient East London Sainsburys.

As if it's not bad enough that any minute now your flight to "London" is going to dump you in the town that time forgot, you're also dealing with the fog of fungal nail infection smell coming off the guy in front. He must travel with inbuilt fan systems to waft that noxious choking hazard off his vitals and on to you. There's no other explanation for how he's not died in his sleep when his brain commits a mutiny and just chokes him to death.

Being an intelligent brain on a body that just stinks must be so awful. Furiously attempting to distance yourself from the whole thing while everyone around you makes sympathetic eyes at the rotting mound of flesh you're residing in. It's how I imagine I'd feel if I'd been dumb enough to vote Conservative in the last election: furiously paddling away from the British shoreline and praying no one knows the social decay was my fault.

At what point does your nose just give up and refuse to register the acrid stench of fermenting sweat and meat juice filled pores? It must be somewhere between showing your boarding card to the 12 year old flying the plane and noticing you've bought 18 2for1 scratch cards from a lady wearing too much blue mascara. That mascara just dazzles you into making bad decisions... I guess that's why people got away with raping the planet in the 80s... No one had a clue what they were doing. They were all hypnotised into idiocy by blue eyelashes and odd blusher just below the cheekbones. If 70% of your brain function is taken up trying to work out why she's done that to her face, you simply can't be capable of doing anything else correctly. You're sort of sat there, slack jawed staring at her wondering if your creative left hemisphere has collapsed, or if she's had some kind of recent head injury that's knackered her concept of the obvious colour palette for a face. Pneumonia inspired make up needs to be something we leave behind now to mark our progression as a species. It's something we need to brush under the rug and pretend we never did to preserve our self worth; like trusting beloved TV personalities, or believing in Religion.

The journey so far has been like sitting in a recently vacated corn beef tin with some vaguely picturesque views to placate the senses. It's not enough to repair the damage though, it's the equivalent of asking someone to hold some lavender while you stab them.

Waves of it keep floating up over the offensively bright yellow head rest and you've reached a point where you're so engulfed with bleak misery that Wilfred Owen poetry starts to make sense. Except that if Christmas rolled around and the guy in front produced a football you'd eschew any momentous friendly and just choke him to death with it so at least you can do a post Mortem and find out what's gone wrong in the inexcusable mass of fetid crevices and unwashed hair clumps.

The trouble with the war mentality having settled in, is that other people lose faith in humanity and things that would have seemed inexcusable in peace time suddenly become par for the course. It already smells like Hagrid's wank rag, what harm can a little of my own eau de parbum do? Suddenly you're caught in the crossfire of a middle aged woman from Salisbury who's letting loose with a plastic beaker of prosecco and decided to unleash the most middle class fart of all time. It glides effortlessly into the atmosphere and cuts through the heavy funk of psoriasis spores with the charmingly acidic repercussions of someone with a penchant for asparagus. She's blushing and immediately regretting her moment of liberty as people nearby look to her for confirmation. We're not sure whether to burn her, or applaud her ingenuity for cutting the sheer monotony of the relentless cloud of halitosis emanating from row 5.

She's not the only one getting in the action. She's fired the first shot but now more representatives are getting in on the action. There's a stag do up ahead that have been holding on to 48 pints of bubbles since take off and they ooze it out sluggishly, having to innocently shift their weight forward to get it out across the leather seat. Children push forth nuggety little weasely ones that came and go, almost spritely in their nonchalance. An anonymous venom filled low hung vegetarian offering has learnt to sneak along the floor and then blast up suddenly to fill both nostrils entirely at once in a daring raid.

It's an olfactory demonic fire work display of rancid flatulation, filling the cabin and peaking, pitching and rolling for minute after minute as the adrenaline rushes and people begin to realise they could probably just stand up at any point and take a shit on their seat and not a single British person would have the foreign blood necessary to look them in the eye and address the problem. Sure there would be muttering. But who cares about muttering when you're the king of the skies and you've marked your very own territory with a stool to make Solomon proud?

The fireworks continue, without the necessary candy floss and lost child announcements to make it bearable. And there, sitting in the middle of it all, is the bonfire himself. The clueless self awareness vacuum himself, rinsed in his own perspiration, cartoon stink lines emanating from his ears in amongst the green stained ear hair he's accumulated over seven decades. Your very own walking public health hazard, there, in flesh blood and fecal remnants.

Pity forbid anything should happen to the plane and your last gasp of pleasant air was that unassuming final mouthful you didn't even think to savour as you stepped out of the Mediterranean sun and into the gloom of the hot box. They'll find scratch marks in the walls of the plane carving out "He did it" as your oxygen starved brain pulls the pieces together and comes to the conclusion that the shower dodger before you has unwittingly whistled the four horseman with his apocalyptic approach to personal hygiene. He did it! Your suffocating brain will scream as you catapult towards earth, slamming into the parched Italian ground, and as the plane breaks apart, shattering into a million pieces, then will you know heaven. As the walls of that tin smoking bag break apart with a thousand tonne force and the air races through the splinters, you'll take your last breath, mangled in the wreckage, never ever more grateful for the sweet tones of fresh air with it's grassy base notes and light breeze. A swift end is all you need now and you will have know true heaven in your final minute.

Of course, the plane won't crash. The plane marches on through cloud after cloud, inching ever closer to the airport and your train transfer. This is where paranoia sets in. He couldn't be, could he? You're looking him over, checking his footwear, double checking the depth of his tan and his newspaper. Could he live where you live? Could your impending airport liberation be nothing but temporary? What if you board the train, settle into a seat, wait happily for the doors to close, only to see him lumbering towards the door making a beeline for the set of vacant four seats opposite you? I'll move, you think, but then he raises an eyebrow and half nods; the universal indication for "Hello again" to someone you never originally hello'd. You can't move now. It's happening again. Flashbacks roll across your mind's eye, building stormily as the panic creeps up your neck to an instant all over freezing body sweat. There's no Kiefer Sutherland to save you, dear. You're done for...

You shake yourself back into the present on the plane. Don't be silly, you say, he couldn't possibly live where I live. And if he does, I'll get a taxi. All the way to my mums house where I'll just cry until she offers to let me move back in to get over the shock.

This man is a Goliath, he is a Titan, he is an homage to the limitless possibilities of what you can do with a body in a confined space. Every move he makes disperses more idle molecules of invisible nasal insults towards his fellow man, exposing dormant odours from the basest depth of his shadowlands. He is unbeatable.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Zoning Comission

I'm a good deal out of my comfort zone this evening, if my comfort zone was Wales (I do find Wales an oddly comforting place) then I'd say I'm in Bangladesh. I'm naked in Bangladesh in the middle of a busy street with a timed exam paper on physics in one hand and a small broken snow globe of Wales in the other hand. I don't feel good.

Tomorrow morning I'm going to Malta to do a comedy night and the nature of my diary at the moment and the billion bits and pieces I have to do means I only sat down today to check where Malta is on a map. It's a little further away than I thought and that has utterly thrown me for a loop.

I feel very underprepared... despite having packed yesterday, repacked today, checked my paperwork 3 or 4 times, repacked this evening, set off for the airport 12 hours early and made sure I know who I'm meeting at the airport (even checking pictures again online for people I've met dozens of times just to be sure). I still feel underprepared.

This is the reality of anxiety I think, well, at least it is for me. I am capable of doing things a lot of other people wouldn't do; ie, standing in front of 1500 people saying things I've thought of myself. But travelling to the stage makes me go cold and sweaty. I think it's important to push yourself out of your comfort zone, always leaving a little light trail to show yourself you can go back when you need to but that you're perfectly safe if you step out for a break.

I'm brick scared about the travelling, but have no anxiety about the aeroplane. For me it's all about the paperwork I need, and the timings and the being at the right gate. It makes my stomach go to liquid. Hurtling up into the abyss en route to tell jokes to people who don't have English as a first language? Not bothered. Happy to die in either of those scenarios if the need arises.

There's no real point to this post, it's not for sympathy or anything, but I've posted before about my mental health skirmishes and it reached a much wider audience of people with similar afflictions than I'd imagined so I think it's good to keep talking about it. I don't think people who didn't know me would imagine I was like this so hopefully it'll show people that it happens to us all. Keep going.

Monday, May 5, 2014


Editing is a wonderful thing.

Originally this post began: "Nothing annoys me more..." but then I realised a lot of things annoy me more, including my own infuriating tendency to speak in absolutes.

But, while we're on the subject of things that annoy me, I've just noticed that the World Cup must be coming up because advertisers seem to be using it to try and sell things related to it.

For example, if you spend £10 on Nivea Men you will receive a GIANT ENGLAND FLAG. Anyone who shaves their face on a regular basis will know that giant flags come in very handy for a really close shave. The giant flag is so giant that if you lay it on the floor while you shave the emergency services can see it from miles away and can come to your aid if one of the 18,004 blades on your new razor accidentally cuts you.

The giant flag is very absorbent which is excellent for shaving, and for crying into if your team of ball kickers doesn't do very well during the football tournament. This free giant flag really is a once in a lifetime offer, and you'd be absolutely crazy not to snap it up. I'm sure Nivea will be inundated with requests to make the free giveaway permanent after the games have stopped.

"Where are all the giant flags now?" The men will scream, "Whatever will I do now that I can't get sufficient giant flags to have a proper shave?"

Women up and down the country will turn to the makers of their Venus Lady Razors and cry blue murder that there are no giant flags for us. "Where are our giant flags?" we will scream, "Why do you keep this precious GIANT prize from us? Have we not given you enough?"

Another example of an item we simply cannot live without this football season, is floss. Yes, dental floss. Did you know that statistically food will get stuck in your teeth during the World Cup? Because it will. Oh yes! Don't you be mistaken and think for a second that the commentators and the penalties will keep the food away from the gaps in your teeth. They will not. But floss will! And you should certainly buy some now before the tournament starts... you don't want to be caught short.

It's anyone's guess why Cameron hasn't insisted that it be a priority for public announcements. Probably because he knows the NHS is unsustainable as it is and a run on dental floss is only going to make it worse. It's terrifying to think how many people went through the last World Cup without flossing extra hard. Did you know roughly 98% of tooth loss is utterly unrelated to the World Cup?

Interestingly, I've not so far seen any adverts for items actually relating to football. Things that you would naturally think the World Cup could sell, ie footballs, or boots, or shorts or televisions... those I just haven't seen on the screen. Weird! I guess I must just not understand advertising. I wonder how many degrees you need to know that:

World Cup = Giant Flags = Shaving Cream

is more logical than

World Cup = need a big television = big televisions

Thursday, May 1, 2014

My Year 9 Photo

I went for a run this morning... it's not something I do a lot but there's something about an impending wedding day that makes me think, "Hmmm, maybe the wedding dress won't have magical properties that counteract cholesterol".

Last week I went to an exercise class called "Kettle Bells" and I can thoroughly recommend it if there is anyone on this planet you hate with the fire of a thousand fascist suns. It largely involves a middle aged blonde woman shouting at you for being a cross between lazy and pathetic. Exercises must be completed holding the equivalent of a Snickers addicted 2 year old whilst jumping about to music you normally need to be holding a Jaegerbomb to enjoy.

So today I jogged. Jogging is solo, focused, quiet and nice. Actually, jogging is horrible isn't it? It's all feet and chest pains and worrying that your clothing looks worse than your arm action. What are you supposed to do with your arms? Waving them about seems frivolous, trying to pump them like I've seen others do feels like I'm pretending to be a better runner than I actually am, leaving them by my side makes it look like I'm running to the nearest toilet.

I decided to run laps of a nearby field. The only trouble with this field is that it's really near a school. It means I'm not allowed to run round one half of the field because it falls as "within 500 metres of a minor"... no, sorry, that's not a problem any more. It means there are quite often 16 year old boys near the field and 16 year old boys are my nemesis.

I didn't like them when I was 16, I don't like them when I was 18 and I don't like them now I'm 27. They're mean and judgey and they look at you like you've definitely picked the wrong thing to do with your arms and your trainers are far too old to be worn in public.

As I rounded the corner to where today's 16 year olds were loitering I obviously started dealing with their catcalls in my mind so that if they should shout anything I would be ready to deal with it. They started with the basics in my imaginary confrontation...

Them: "Get those knees up, fatty""
Me: "Grow up!" (Professional comedian see?)
Them: "Keep running, Forrest!" (Damn, they're wittier and broader viewed than I thought.)
Me: "Yeah? Well your mum's just like a box of chocolates: play with her for too long and she makes your fingers sticky. And brown."
Them: "What?" (Bollocks, either that was shitter than I thought or they haven't actually seen the film and now they think I'm insane).
Me: "Just fuck off."

There's a small gap here while I jog round the rest of the field and then get back to where I'm having my imaginary row with them.

Them: "Still going then chunky?"
Me: "Yeah, been running nearly as long as you've had pubes." (BOOM!)
Them: "You'd love to see my pubes wouldn't you?"
Me: "Oh for sure, but I haven't got my magnifying glass with me, so..."

And then they stab me.

I wish my internal fight fantasies included fewer slams and stabbings but that's just the way things go. I have the opposite of that "always think of the right thing to say 4 hours later" issue... I am pretty good in the moment when the adrenaline's up, but when it's just me with no pressure I am terrible. I write these blog posts with one nipple in a mousetrap to give me that edge.

My imaginary murdered body had been found by the time I rounded the bottom end corner and was being reported in the local paper. To my horror I realised that should I be despatched here and now the headline would read: "Jogger's body found murdered in Hove fields".

"Jogger's body"??? How can history remember me as a jogger? Surely the post mortem will reveal my chubby thighs, my flat feet and absolutely no stress on my hips and knees that indicates a penchant for jogging? How can they perpetuate this lie that I am a jogger?

Suddenly, my worst nightmare scenario of my Year 9 school photo (with the braces and the bun) being shown in the paper instead of one of the many headshots I've paid hundreds for is being played out alongside the heinous accusation of being a jogger.

It was a total coincidence that I got home and saw in the paper that the toxicology report for Peaches Geldof indicates that it could be a heroin overdose. How sad that on the same day a brilliant budding comedian was reduced to a "jogger", a talented, creative young mother and wife will be reduced to a "heroin addict" or "druggie". People will ask why I couldn't just keep away from my exercise addiction long enough to carve out a life for myself, why couldn't Peaches stay clean for her kids? We'll be reduced to the way we died instead of celebrated for how we lived. Seems sad.