6 October 2012

Ach. Another time, another place, another life.

I'm knocking this on the head for a while.

It's just not mentally possible to do what I want to do, which tears me up inside because I love - actually love, no bollocks I really do - writing.
Even when it's shite. As long as someone point out where I went wrong and I can learn. Great!

But right now, home, work, where I live - it's slowly killing my soul. I can't write when its this bad. And thats all I actually want to do.

Crap eh?

Maybe when I move away, if I ever can, I'll get back to this blog, write some funny, good stuff and do it regularly enough to feel happy to promote it.

The nice thing about this post here is, no-one's following me, no-one's reading my posts. I can say what I like. Who'll know (for now?).

My flatmate is my good mate, but she's been going through hell and taking me with her. I've brought some hell to the party too. We're not often in a good place.

Work is a great place to be, but it's killing me again.

I'm trying to deal with my mental problems while looking after someone with mental problems.


So in short - once I get the chance to move, if I ever do, I will, and I'll come back to this and write and feel like Andrew Tate again.

Till then, see you later...

(1st draft. fuck it).

30 September 2012

Last Orders.

I hung up and walked back into the pub.
“Sorry Shay pal, I’ll have to owe you the pint, I have to get back home.”
“Alright mate. See you”
I never did. A day or two later he killed himself.

I wasn't a close friend of Seamus, but I’d known him a long time. He was the bar manager in the Pilgrim when I and my mates had run our comedy gig from 2004. After I left uni I didn't see him ‘till a few months back, when he called me over in the street.
We couldn't remember each others’ names, but we knew the face.
I drank in his new pub, the Thatched House, on and off until a fortnight ago, when it was mysteriously locked up. I found out yesterday why. Shay was gone, and he’d been found there.

I wasn't a close friend, but I think of myself as a friend. A lot of people did. He was a good guy and a great barman. He got me to drink six pints of Carling. He must have been a great barman to do that.
He seemed to know everyone, and everyone seemed to know him. I knew he’d had some trouble in the past, but to think I’ll never buy a pint of him again seems unreal.

He was my friend, and it hit me harder than I would have expected – not that you can ever expect this kind of thing. He wasn't much older than me, but he had a kid I think, and how would you get your head around your dad doing that? Part of me can’t believe he’s gone.

Wherever you are Seamus mate, I hope it’s a better place for you. Keep a barstool free for me, and when my time comes I’ll settle my liquid debt with you.

Those that knew him won’t forget him, and in that way he’ll never be fully gone.

29 September 2012

Where the hell have I been! (And did anyone notice?)

Well. Long time no see eh?

I've been a touch busy the last few months and criminally not blogged. In all honesty, A Writer's Bloc all but slipped my mind, and it was only a post about a madbloggers award do on FB that reminded me I'd been neglecting my wordly duties!

Much of August was spend in Edinburgh at the biggest festival on Earth - the Edinburgh Fringe, of which more in later blogs - when I returned work was in a hell of a mess, and so was the craptop, so I've been a little bit distracted truth be told.

What else have you, possibly fictional reader, missed?

Well, I'm off to Istanbul in February with my dad, who I have taken to calling Henry VI because he's onto his third divorce, I'm trying to organise my college's 11-year reunion because no-one could be arsed to organise one for our tenth this year, and the dog has started to talk to me.

Anyway, more blogs with proper subjects, grammar (sometimes) and time spend on them to follow in the next few days away from work.

My mileometer ticks over to 29 this week. I'm almost too old to play teenagers or comedy Asian hookers now, should Hollywood come a calling.

Me love you all long time.

26 July 2012

Three beds in Riga.

The first Rigan bed I slept in was the bottom bunk of a triple-bunk in a slightly musty looking riverfront hostel. I shared the room with 20-odd other backpackers and what felt like every flying insect in the Baltics. Apparently it was an important feast time for the regions’ tiny bloodsuckers and the main course was me.
Honestly, by the time my four nights were up I was pale enough to appear in a Twilight film.

The year was 2004, and this was my first real taste of hostel life. I met the usual kind of hostel folk: a Brazilian guy who had been travelling the world for 18 months with no end in sight; a newly demobbed Norwegian driving north to south across Europe, who was so freshly out of the army the crew cut hadn’t grown out yet and he looked like he was idly working out the best way to kill people using only his hands if the need arose; a seemingly endless parade of interchangeable Australians, all looking impossibly fresh and sexy; and a strange skinny bloke that sniffed a lot, kept to himself and smelled of lemons and talcum powder.

I was on a research trip, following the story of a group of WWII freedom fighters for a university project. Yeah, I thought I was a very lucky bastard too. That’s the kind of job I’d like someone to pay me to do.
I loved the city, as I had loved Warsaw and Berlin where I had stopped off en-route to Riga. 
The place was full of intrigue and unknown history. I’d barely heard of Latvia before I flew out to Riga. Riga might as well have been Narnia, I knew as much about either, which is to say nowt at all.
I was like a kid in a slightly boring sweet shop, visiting every museum I found, even a two-room place celebrating Latvia’s sporting glory. Imagine Wales having a museum like that and you’ll have an idea of what they had to put in there. Some of the sports I’d never heard of. The place was so quiet that the lady on the desk sold me some stamps. They had to sell stamps to stay open. Imagine the V&A doing that!

The only blot on the mental skyline was the virulent and boisterous anti-pride demonstrations that were taking place while I was there.
A group of gay people had applied for a permit to pride march through the city, celebrating their lifestyle. Unfortunately Latvia is a deeply catholic country, despite, or perhaps because of, decades of Russian oppression. This led to an inevitable and ugly backlash consisting of loud berating people who would have looked surprisingly normal had you taken then placards away and stopped them yelling bigoted slogans at people.
I found it sadly ironic that after so long under brutal oppression from outside, now people from within the country wanted to oppress their fellow countrymen. No matter how much you may dislike – fuck it, HATE – someone’s viewpoints or lifestyles or whatever, after living under the KGB and all layers of hell for two plus generations wouldn’t you at least acknowledge that everyone – really everyone – should have the freedom to express themselves in a respectful way?
But then, I suppose free speech works more than one way. They were simply exercising their right to free speech by opposing other’s right to it. Very simply.

Ironically, my second bed in Riga was in an apartment on ‘Freedom Boulevard’ which might sound like a brand new musical smash on Broadway, but is actually the citys' main thoroughfare into the old town, named for the ‘Freedom Monument’ at the centre-end, commemorating Latvia’s independence after WWI. 
When the Russians invaded again in WWII it was an offence – punishable by death – to lay flowers at the monument. Until almost the 1990’s this was still the case. Now the base is rarely flower-free and is looked upon with the same reverence most people over 40 have for the Cenotaph in London in this country.

I was sharing this nine bed apartment with a friend who taught Economics at my university. It was ridiculously cheap and stupidly well appointed. The year was 2005, and she’d ordered me to bring her to Riga after enduring my enthusiastic stories of my travels for the hundredth time. She loved Latvia, partly I think because she could buy fags at 44p a pack. We brought back about 40,000. Checking in for the return flight was ‘fun’. 

It was an emotionally charged visit. She was just getting over a nasty long term relationship; I was just starting to become depressed (although I wouldn’t recognise it for some time afterwards). 
We still had fun though. The charged atmosphere gave it a frisson of mildly sexualised danger. We had first met in Manchester Airport a year before, where I was trying to find a group of people I’d never met or seen before, but nevertheless had decided to spend a week with in Berlin. I guess you could call me impulsive. I literally fell over them in the end (but that's another equally boring story).

One day, we got badly lost in a forest looking for some wolves and bears (I‘m still not sure why she wanted to see them) and ended up at a disused oil refinery, by way of a long-abandoned spa resort and a few sulphurous geysers, before eventually fetching up in the pretty string of towns known as Jurmala on the coast. I hate forests, and she hates coastal resorts, so the day was both horrific or hilarious, depending on the person and place. If you’ve ever seen a Bear Grylls programme, you can image what kind of day we had, even down to not going to the toilet for 9 hours (because there aren’t any in the forest). Have you ever noticed that the only time Bear has a wiz is to cool his head down?
Anyway. It was a highly spirited trip. Because we got quite drunk.

The third mattress to know my ass in Latvia’s capital city was situated in another hostel, this time on the edge of town, and it was a far nicer establishment. This one even had carpet and didn’t smell of feet. 2011 now and I’m retracing my own 2004 story. For some reason I don’t see Riga in the same way this time. It’s not as nice as I remember.
This could be down to my getting epically lost for three sweaty hours while never being more than a mile from the place and falling into it essentially by chance. 
My room was lovely though, I even had a double bed. The room was all mine and the size of a shoebox. I did however have to share a shower with 20-or-so others on my floor (not always at once), which was difficult. Equally difficult was the screaming baby in the room next to mine. Who the hell takes a baby to a hostel? Did it have its own backpack? Maybe they brought it in one?

My troubles liking Riga a third time could also have been down to the global recession. The place looked more knocked-about and tired. The people a little more stressed and worn down. Prices were higher; a knock-on effect of joining Europe. This is a problem all the Baltic states have had over the past decade or so. 
Prices have climbed faster than Rupert Murdock’s blood pressure the first time he saw Rebeccah Brookes naked, but wages have been as sluggish as a, well, slug. A coffee or a beer now cost about the same as in Liverpool, whereas the first time it had been about half that or less.
And so I struggled to like Riga, perhaps because I was further out of town, or the aforementioned  poorer upkeep from what I had seen seven years before, or maybe because I’d just come from the more beautiful and beguiling Tallinn, I’m still not wholly sure.

After four days and a lot of thinking, I decided that what I was actually doing wasn’t visiting Riga but trying to visit the Riga of my rose-tinted memories. I was looking at the city on my terms, not its own.
I went for a few beers and tried Riga again. This time I saw a small, generally pretty, still-bustling city of hard-working, honest people. I’ve lived in many places like that.
I realised that it wasn’t really Riga that had changed so much as myself. It helped that I found a few bars and places I’d loved the first time too, like the unique Art-Deco quarter, home to some of the most mental building built anywhere between 1910 and 1930. 
In short, I think I started to look at this place as though I hadn’t been here before. I decided it wasn’t so bad after all.

It’s always hard to go back, especially when you’re in a different bed.

Not deep, not even meaningful, but if you want compelling storytelling there’s a Waterstones near you, unless you live on the Shetlands.

I’m off to bed.

20 July 2012

Finger-love-heart bastards.

Nichole Sherzinger is only the most recent offender. Many others, from Towie non-celebs to middling premier league footballers have inflicted this darkly disturbing visual upon the world.

What am I blethering on about now?

I'm talking about the making of a little heart out of the thumbs and main fingers of each hand, pointing this at a camera and gurning a simpering ‘aren’t-I-so-twittering-wonderful-to-do-this-for-all-my-fans smile.
It makes me want to retch out a fist of pure hate.

I mean, who are you kidding? Do you really love me? Then just come over to my place and tell me. Don’t make the kind of gesture a 12 year old Beiber fan would to another Beiberist in recognition of your mutual love of the pop-Antichrist at me. I’m not a Beiberist. I'm me. A slightly angry 28 year old who communicates  far easier in words than twatty hand gestures.

Are you trying to be cool? Does N.S need to act cool? Or premier league footballers? Really?
Are you trying to be down with the kids? Does anyone even try to do this any more?
Are you a sheep? 
Yes, I guess you are. A boring, beige sheep with ugly, boney hands, waggling them at me via a paparattzo’s camera.

Honestly, this gesture is fast becoming as irritatingly clich├ęd as the two fingered ‘peace’ sign of the hippies and Winston Churchill. 
Hippies and Winston Churchill. Bet you didn’t expect to see those two lumped together today.

I think what really grasps my intellect and grates it upon my rage circuits is the downward pointing fingers. It looks somehow threatening, as if to say ‘yeah, I’m saying I love you, but really I want to stab you with my highly manicured fingernails because I’m ooooh so much better than you’.

Well, fuck you, finger-love-heart bastards.
Peace out.

PS: Yes, it’s been a while since my last blog. This was due to a black cloud of Grukk surrounding my morale like something cloudlike surrounding a nebulous concept of self.

I’m aiming for two blogs a week, preferably interesting and thought provoking, even if that thought is ‘this guy need to get out more’. 

10 July 2012

Why Charles Darwin is a cunt.

If Charles Darwin had watched me getting ready for work in the morning, he could have saved years and not had to bother with the trip on the Beagle.

I’m a study in evolution. The bearded one would find a gooey mass of proto-life residing in my bed, forming a massive single-celled organism covered by a protective duvet shell as the alarm goes off.
Appearing to form a skeletal system, it reaches out a newly formed limb and smashed the phone on the headboard until it shuts the fuck up. Already it has learned to use tools!

A fuzzy, smelly creature crawls downstairs. As Charles follows, he is amazed to see bipedalism experimented with. After a shower (Mr Darwin listens at the door in case his study drowns and he’s able to dissect it) the creature stands fully upright and has moved into the kitchen, where it becomes a more accomplished tool-user, being able to create a cup of coffee after three or four attempts. He has even learnt to forage; after only ten minutes the ape-thing has found a mostly clean knife and rustled up a bowl of cereal.

Once in the living room, and after several attempts, the creature returns to the kitchen to find a spoon.

Halfway into its coffee, the being is almost recognisably human. It even manages some primitive language, mainly of the profane variety towards its' intrusive flatmate, who is telling Darwin’s study to keep the pissing noise down and to stop inviting dead naturalists into the house at 4.30am.

Darwin is amazed. Amazed and disappointed. Amazed at watching a billion years of evolution in just an hour, disappointed because he wasn’t offered a coffee.

On my way out the door, I’m tripped up by the semi-imaginary Charles Darwin and momentarily revert to walking on four limbs.

And that is why Charles Darwin would be a cunt if he was alive today.

Or something.

The real winners aren't the plebs with the oversized cheques...

You’ll think me crazy, but I spend £24 a month on not winning the lottery. Of course, I’m not alone. In millions of other people didn’t do the self-same thing, there wouldn’t be millions to win, and the Camelot board wouldn’t spend several hours a day laughing at us and counting their money.

Why do I spend £312 a year on essentially nothing? Because the one week I don’t will be the week my numbers come up. This is exactly the reason everyone else plays it week in, week out. Fear of remaining poor and having to work to pay for stupid shit like lottery tickets and food.

It gets worse. A few times a month I buy a scratch card in the hope I can win a decent wedge of £100,000. 
I keep saying to myself ‘all I want is 15 or 20 grand so I can be debt free and have some quids in my back pocket’ knowing full well that if I did win something like that, I’d go ‘shit! Why couldn’t it have been the 100k?!’.
I don’t tend to win much playing the lotto. I’ll get the odd few quid back, but generally I piss that away too.

I won £6 on the eurolotto the other week.  
‘What the hell’ I think and buy 6 £1 scratchcards.
I won £5.
‘What the hell’ I think, and purchase 5 £1 cards.
I win £2 and £5!
‘What the hell’ I think. 7 £1 cards for me!
This time I win £10 and £1.
‘What the hell’ – 11 £1 cards pass my way.
£2 and £1 this time.
Bums. Then again ‘what the hell!’.
Three cards, one wins £2.
Two cards gets me £1.
My last card. What do I get?

Good story though. After all, what else would I have spent the original six quid on? Two pints? Couple of pizzas? Put it towards next months’ lotto tickets?