Total Pageviews

Monday, 20 December 2010

Air Hockey, Caravan Avoidance and Anne

Right, 'tis Christmas week. Since my TV blog and my book blog are both going to be (ever so slightly) themed around the season I figured, why not go for a clean sweep and have everything I post this week be Christmas based?

I quickly ran into a problem. That being, try as I might, I can't remember any Christmases from my early childhood. Not any particularly memorable gifts, not any specific family get-togethers, nor any major Christmastime fallings out for that matter. Seriously, I'm sitting here racking (wracking?) my brains but it's like Christmas never happened when I was a kid. Now I know I've made things sound pretty bleak on here in the past but I'm fairly certain things never got so bad that we canceled Christmas. Maybe I'm repressing, I don't know.

So I'm going to tell a story about my birthday instead. It falls in August, which is nearly Christmas, right? And it has presents too, so it's practically the same thing. Also, it's pretty much lacking in misery, depression and domestic violence. I don't have many of those in my arsenal so the festive season seemed like the time to bust one out.

On this particular year, my birthday fell during the fortnight that my father had booked a caravan at the coast. This would be the first year ever that the family would have an actual holiday ( i.e, going away from home) during the school summer holidays. As it turns out it would also be the last. Anyway, I wasn't going with the. I'd like to say that this was yet another example of those terrible parents, grr, excluding and neglecting me, but in truth (at least as far as I remember) it was my idea that I not join them.

I was to stay with my Aunt Michelle, known to one and all as Micky, and her boyfriend Maurice. The idea of staying with them was a novelty that I got very excited about. After all, seaside or not, I would be with the same people I saw every day if I went with my parents. At least this way I was getting to spend time with someone different.

The night before we were due to depart I was allowed to open a birthday gift, so that I could have at least part of the birthday experience with my parents present. I have no memory of what the gift was but the rest were all packed into my uncles car to be opened on the day and the next morning I (and my gifts) headed off in one direction and my family headed off in another.

Nothing particularly special happened during those two weeks. I'd get up, tun to the shop for a pint of milk, have breakfast, go to the park which was right outside their front door for a couple of hours and -whenever possible - sneak down into the woods that bordered the park. In the afternoons we'd watch TV, I'd read a little (yes, I was already a swotty little bookworm who *gasp* read for pleasure) and then we would receive the Royal Guest. Anne, Maurices niece.

Anne was the same age as me and, well, she was really loud and annoying and an attention whore. And pretty. In short, all the things that little boys profess to hate in little girls but actually wouldn't be without. Anne was my first love, no doubt about it. I never told anyone - though the adults made constant jokes about it, much to my embarrassment, I always denied - and I certainly didn't act like it towards her, but I'm man enough to admit it now.

We made the most of the time though. In between bouts of arguing and announcing that we hated each other we spent many long hours climbing the Everest like slide at the park. Remember them? Massive things they were. You'd get to the top and you could see over houses. You could have used them for Para training. Gone the way of the Viking Ship see-saw and the Witches Hat roundabout/climbing frame. And swings that you can actually get a bit of momentum on. Anyway, we'd take turns trying to impress each other by climbing the steps without holding on, or coming down backwards or whatever. How do pre-pubescent kids show off to their crushes these days? Get to 8 years old and you're taller than most of the stuff on a modern playground. Anyway...

Half way through the fortnight my birthday came and amongst other gifts that I can't remember I got one of those miniature air hockey table things that were all the rage before Jim Nintendo invented the Master System. Maurice would kick my arse at it, because letting a kid win on his birthday would have just been silly, wouldn't it? Then I'd play Anne, and kick her arse at it, because letting her win would have been nice, and I couldn't do that. Happy times.

The fortnight ended and I had to go home. Anne came to say goodbye, which was nice of her and in my head meant that she loved me as much as I loved her. Never mind that she came every day anyway, this time she'd come for me, dammit. Waving goodbye to her broke my ickle heart. But wave goodbye I did,and left, never to return.

For a while anyway. In truth, Mickey, Maurice and that house, park and wood (though sadly not Anne) would come to feature very heavily in my future. Then though, the novelty would wear off and the experience would be slightly less exciting. And a lot less pleasant.

Saturday, 11 December 2010


Check them out.

Beautiful creatures aren't they?

I never used to think so, mind you. When I was very young I went through a phase, which seemed to last forever but which in reality was probably only a couple of weeks, where I dreamed every night about snakes coming out of the wall above my bed and dropping on to me. It got to the point where I didn't even have to be asleep; as soon as I closed my eyes I'd see them. I was, not to be coarse, absolutely fucking terrified. The trek up to my room at night was torture and there wasn't a lot in the way of sympathy from my parents.

Then the snakes went away. It's not like I confronted my fears and drove away my subconscious demons or anything. I just went to bed one night and didn't dream about snakes. A few months later, I would have given anything to have those snakes back.

You see, they were replaced by the Big Woman. Essentially, a woman. A tall woman, but still, just a woman. Now, I know that you can't dream about something or someone whom you have never seen, so presumably I must have encountered her at some point but I have no idea where and I have no idea who she was. She just showed up in my dreams one night and wouldn't leave again.

It's not as if she did anything particularly nasty or anything, when I dreamed about her. In fact, she never did anything at all. A typical scenario would be me walking along the street with my mother, I'd see the Big Woman and start to panic. I'd be gripped with a paralysing fear and wouldn't be able to go any further. I'd beg with my mother to turn around and go back the way we'd come but she would laugh and say I was being silly and start to drag me closer to the Big Woman. The nearer we'd get I'd start to cry and scream and it would usually end with me peeing myself (literally, the sheets were always wet when I woke up) and collapsing to the floor, limp. Then I would watch as the Big Woman came closer and closer and when she got right up close to us she would... say Hello to my mother. And then I'd wake up.

What the hell was that about eh?

These dreams, unlike the snakes, which only seemed to go on for ages, actually did. 3 years or so in fact. Maybe the only reason they eventually stopped was because I got so used to them that the novelty wore off and I wasn't afraid any more. Whatever the reason they stopped, they did, without me ever discovering who the Big Woman was or why I was so scared of her.

Sadly, the bedwetting didn't stop with the nightmares. Apparently there was a physical reason for that; my bladder wasn't developing properly and I had the bladder strength of a 3yr old until well into my teens, which meant wet sheets and school accidents for almost as long. But that's another, even more embarrassing than being scared of a random woman, story. And one that will no doubt crop up again at some point.

So there's something for you to look forwards to eh?

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Sweeties and the price we pay for them.

The beating my Dad gave me after I locked him in the toilet because he wouldn't let me go and steal cake from cricketers was the worst I'd ever experienced at that point in my life. It was not, however, going to hold on to that record for long.

My mother had a job at the local Co-op. This often meant working nights. My father also had a job that involved a lot of night shifts. Often, the two would clash. At times like these my parents would do the only thing they could do in that situation. They both went to work and left me in charge. Now, yes, I was far too young and they were terrible parents for doing it and yadayadayada but at the time it was a huge thrill. I didn't feel deprived or neglected or any of that good stuff; I felt grown up, trusted, and cocky.

One night, I had been left in charge; of myself basically because my sister and little bruv were both asleep. However, a coughing fit in her sleep by my sister woke my brother, who started crying, which woke my sister, who started to shout at him, and pretty soon, in an effort to calm them both down I had allowed them out of bed and was putting on a puppet show for them in the living room, using cuddly bears and plastic soldiers. As you do.

Now, I'm quite proud (maybe too proud) of my ability to spout improvised bullshit at the drop of a hat, but back then I was still just beginning to hone this most noble of arts and after an hour or so my puppet show was beginning to flag somewhat.

The well was running dry and I needed something else to keep them entertained. It was then that I spotted a little pile of change on the sideboard. Aha, I thought, this is it. I took 30p from the pile (10p each), wrapped my Sister and Brother in their dressing gowns and slippers and off we headed to the shop. The shop beneath the flat that is, we weren't off on a mile long trek or anything.

And so it came to pass that we all came home with 10p mix-ups each.

What luxury. You have to remember that this was in the days when 10p would get you 10 sweets. Penny chews were not yet trading under false pretenses. So we scoffed down our sweets, I sent the pair of them back to bed, which they resisted until their heads hit the pillows, at which point they were out like lights, and I returned to the living room to read a bit. It was here that my Mother found me when she came home. And then all Hell broke loose.

Actually, it didn't. She came home, I went to bed, we all got up in the morning and went to school, everything was hunky dory. Then we came home. And that's when all Hell broke loose. My mother had been to the shop during the day, gotten into a discussion with the owner and he had mentioned our having been in the night before. Busted!

We stole 30p. This I'm not denying. I'm not so old though that I grew up in a time when 30p was any massive amount of money. I honestly thought, when she confronted me about going to the shop, that the big no-no that she was upset about was the fact that we had gone out alone, however short a distance, in the middle of the night, in our pyjamas. Not so. This bothered her not a jot. But the money! Oh, she was very upset about the money.

My little sis and bro were not punished, and nor should they have been. It was my decision to do what we did. Not that it would have mattered anyway, the oldest is responsible, even when they're not. That's the rule. She didn't hit me often, my Mam, in those days (she made up for it later though), but when she did she hit hard. So hard that she didn't have to hit you many times; just 2 or 3 precise, clinical, cold blows that pretty much wiped you out. I didn't do PE the next day at school.

Why is this a worse beating than the one that my Dad gave me earlier? The coldness. His was a wild, angry affair, with lots of shouting and many blows. He was mad and I knew about it. My mother didn't shout, or even speak beyond the initial confrontation. She just hit me. Then she hit me again. Then she hit me again. Then she told me, very calmly, to go to bed. Which I did, doubled over from being winded, unable even to cry properly because I couldn't get the breath to sob.

In the years that followed that coldness went away from my mam. She became much more violent towards us kids, but it was violence like my Dads was. Loud and wild and uncontrolled. As bad as those times were, I was glad of them, in a way. When we got wild Mam, we didn't get cold Mam, and that was a blessing.

So there you have it. Another story from my early years. Cheery little tale wasn't it? It's no wonder I can't get anyone to read this bloody thing, with downers like this every week. Anyway, until next time, when The Big Woman I promised you will finally make her appearance.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

A horse, a horse, my school run has a horse

This is a picture of a horse:

This is a picture of a small boy:

What would happen, do you think, if that horse kicked that small boy in the chest, with all of it's might? Yeah man, he'd be proper dead, innit.*

Not I though. Oh no, for I was Invinca-boy. Fleet of foot and with pecs of steel. Kicked with all the ferocity the beast could muster, I shrugged off the blow with a hearty guffaw and was away about my business.

The incident took place while we (my little sis and I) were taking our usual shortcut up through the fields to school. The horse, or rather the horses, were a regular fixture, and we'd had no fear, with that recklessness of youth, of walking amongst them and scratching and petting them and feeding them clumps of grass. You know, as kids do. For some reason though, (I probably just approached from the wrong angle and spooked it) on this particular day one horse took exception and booted me full force with it's hind legs. In all honesty, I don't think you'll be surprised to hear that it did indeed hurt, not a little but a very very lot.

My reaction was to fall to the floor, stare at the sky and think I was dying.

My sisters reaction was to laugh, then when I didn't get up, cry, then run off to school and leave me lying there.

The horses reaction was to eat a bit more grass.

Now the truth is, I was kicked in the belly, not the chest and the horse, far from looking like that magnificent beast above, was more along these lines :

It was young, anyway.

Still, I was in pain and (likely) shock and I stayed on the ground for what was a very long time. A very confused phone conversation had apparently been had by my teacher and my mother, and when the story was wheedled out of my sister (who had said nothing to anybody on arrival at school) they both set out to look for me and met in the middle, so to speak, when they found me lying on the ground.

In my defence though, once I was back on my feet and had calmed down, I turned down the chance to go home and headed off to school with my teacher. What a man, eh?

This was not the last time I would be convinced I was going to die (or that my sister would abandon me to it for that matter) but those stories are for another day.

Next : The Big Woman oo-er

*After attempting a sports metaphor recently, which failed miserably, I am now attempting to get 'down wit da kids'. I'm not convinced it's a good idea.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Dad in a box.

"I'm going over to the cricket ground to help your Grandma with the teas, are you coming?"

"No, we're watching this on the telly"

An innocent exchange between my mother and myself one sunny Saturday morning. Who would have thought that it would lead to the false imprisonment of my father and myself receiving what was, at that time, the worst beating of my young life? Not me.

The close proximity of the flat to the cricket ground meant that my mother would often be roped in help out and it also meant that we would often go over and help ourselves to a few cakes and whatnot from the refreshment table. It meant feigning interest in cricket, of course, which was never easy, but we made it work. On this particular Saturday though, we were watching something, I forget what, and so we declined, reasoning that if we changed our minds we could just go over later.

Later came. Whatever it was we had been watching was finished, we were bored, and we decided that a trip over to the ground was just what the Doctor ordered.

Except that Daddy dearest decided that we weren't allowed. We weren't being punished for anything, we weren't in the bad books at all, he just decided, for whatever reason, that he wouldn't let us go. We had had our chance earlier in the day and said no, and he wasn't pissing about taking us over there now, he said. It was our own fault apparently.

Now, the thing is, he didn't need to take us anywhere. We lived, quite literally, 10 seconds walk from the ground. It was directly opposite us. Step out of our front door, cross the road, step through the gate and you're there. His not wanting to go was not a factor. I truly believe that it was sheer pettiness on his part; an attempt to show a couple of little kids that he was Boss. He was like that, my Dad. You know, a knobhead.

Anyway, after arguing the point for 5mins we were told to play in the bedroom or the yard, but either way to leave him alone. So we did. Now, I've mentioned before the outside toilet facilities. Well, long story short, we were playing outside, my Dad came down to use the loo, we locked him in and pissed off to the cricket ground.

Now, I'm not particularly proud of this. Not because of the inherent wrongness of locking your Dad in a filthy outdoor loo, but rather because, when you think about it, there was no way I wasn't going to get caught. I don't know what the Hell I was thinking, to be honest. Anyone with half a brain would have thought, "he's using the loo, once he's finished he's not likely to need it again soon, we can go to the ground and he'll never know we're gone". Simple. Not me though, oh no, genius over here had to lock him in. I didn't give him a second thought either, the whole time we were gone, even though as far as I knew he was still locked in. (He wasn't, one of the shop staff came in to the yard, heard him shouting and let him out.)

We returned home to a somewhat angry Dad who did what all angry Dads in his situation would have done. He blamed the oldest, which was me,(fair play though, it was my idea) and he beat seven shades of shite out of me.

This chain of events, and others very similar, are par for the course with me. It comes down to the old saying "respect your elders and betters" and the fact that I think it's total bollocks. If I think someone is talking out of their arse, or is doing something out of pettiness, or spite or just because they can, I'll do something about it, no matter how much older they are than me or how much authority they think they have over me. As a child it got me into trouble an awful lot with my parents and teachers and as an adult it has caused a fair few ructions in my work life. It's just the kind of person I am though. If you're wrong you're wrong and I'm going to tell you. At least I'll do it to your face though, so we all know were we stand.

Next : The time I was almost killed by a Horse. Good times.

Friday, 12 November 2010


Shall I tell you something? It's something I've only recently realised, on account of writing this blog really. I don't know my grandmothers name. The grandmother on my Fathers side of the family that is.

In my defence, she died when I was very young, at an age where I probably thought her name was Grandma and I've had no contact with that side of the family since not long after her death. I only know My grandfathers name on that side because it's my brothers middle name. (My brother is called Andrew. As is my maternal grandfather. My parents claimed that they hadn't realised the connection, since my grandfather always went by Andy, rather than Andrew. When they cottoned on, they figured they had to name him for both, so as not to show favouritism.) Anyway, I don't know her name.

It saddens me a little - real human emotion, whoda thunk it - that this tiny, timid little woman who had such a crappy life, caring for a disabled child and violent husband, should be so easily forgotten. It feels like she deserves better than that. Sadly, it's not to be.

I take a little solace in the fact that the last few months of her life were made slightly better by the fact that my grandfather died first. She didn't survive him by long but she had at least a short little bit of freedom.

I remember the morning that I found out he had died. We hadn't been living in the flat long when it happened - had he died just a little bit sooner the rest of my family would have still been living with him. My sister possibly had a lucky escape there. Imagine if she had been the one to find him, at 5 years old. (He got up in the night for the lav, collapsed and ended up at the bottom of the stairs.) Could have scarred her for life. Anyway, I got out of bed, made my way out to the living room and found my Dad looking very upset. He and my Mam sat me down and told me that Granda was dead.

They were very solemn and trying really hard to be sensitive and gentle but they needn't have bothered. The truth is, while this was the first real bereavement I'd ever suffered, never even having had a pet, I understood what Death was and what it meant. I understood that he was gone forever and I was never going to see him again. I remember, very clearly, thinking "I should probably be sad". Sadness never came, no tears fell, I just sat there, feeling really uncomfortable because I could tell that my parents were upset and they were expecting a reaction from me that just wasn't coming. In the end I said that I would go and wake up my sister and tell her what had happened, just as an excuse to get out of there.

Why did they let me do it? I was about 7. Should I have been allowed, at that age, to assume the burden of telling a 5yr old that her grandfather was dead? At a guess, thinking about it now, I think that either my lack of a reaction had made my parents as uncomfortable as it had me and they were as glad of the excuse as I was, or they had perhaps thought that my lack of reaction had been down to shock and were hoping that talking to my sister would bring me out of it a little. Either way, I had the dubious honour of informing my sister, who was bouncing quite happily up and down on her bed and giggling, about what had happened, and then giving her a cuddle when it finally sank in. Unlike me, she did have tears for the old man.

It turned out that the fall down the stairs hadn't killed him. He had in fact been dead before he fell, because something had burst in his brain. Very quick, apparently, over before he knew anything about it. I'm tempted to say it was too quick, given the way he lived his life, but as the old saying goes, you shouldn't speak ill of the dead. I mention the cause of his death because several months later, when my grandmother passed away, she did so from exactly the same thing. I've often joked (yes, I know) about the coincidence, saying that it's odd because they were a married couple, not blood relatives, "Unless there was something they weren't telling us, ha ha"

The added tragedy of my grandmothers death, apart from the fact that she finally seemed happy out of his shadow, was that it happened whilst she was pushing my aunt, in her wheelchair, up the access ramp outside their home. She fell to one side, leaving my aunt to roll back to the foot of the ramp, where she had to sit and look at her dead mother until help came. Given her mental state normally, and the fact that she still wasn't fully over the death of her father, it must have been torture for her. Which makes my joking about the whole thing all the more reprehensible really.

I didn't cry for my grandmother either. I could, if I were looking to make excuses for myself, blame his years of bullying and abuse as the reason I didn't mourn for him, but her...? She was more his victim than I ever was and she always treated me with kindness. So why couldn't I cry for her? I didn't know then, and I don't know now. Nor why I have never, in my 31 years of life, felt any depth of emotion for the passing of any human being. (Real human beings that is. I will weep like a baby at TV shows, movies, books and comics. Oh, and animals. I lose it completely at the thought of an animals pain or death.)

I do know why I joke though. I know exactly why I make fun of their deaths, and insinuate things about the coincidence. And it's not a reason that reflects well on me. You see, death terrifies me. That all consuming fear of ceasing to exist that takes hold of you as a child, but which you somehow come to terms with, or at the very least repress, as you get older, has never seen fit to leave me. So the coincidence of their deaths terrifies me. The idea that I am 50% genetically predisposed to die at a relatively young age, from something that kills you from out of nowhere, would pretty much drive me insane if I let it. Essentially, I mock the deaths of my family members because I am a quivering wreck of a coward.

I may not be a very nice man.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Practically cave dwellers

Okay, so, depending on the timeline, which I remain fuzzy about, either we moved out of my uncle Paul s house and into our new flat or we moved out of the respective Grandparents and into our new flat. It was the dawning of a new day for our, for want of a better word, family.

The flat was above a shop. I'm gonna try to describe the set-up as best I can but I warn you, it won't be pretty. First of all, imagine a shop on a front street. To the right of the shop is a large wooden gate, wide and tall enough that when opened a small lorry could enter. (I say tall as well as wide because it was built into a brick wall above) Anyway, this gate was there to allow deliveries to the shop. Built into the large gate was a smaller one, person sized, that allowed people to enter the yard without having to open the whole thing. This was our front door. Going through that, you were in a kind of tunnel that lead to the little yard but to your left were 2 doors. The first of these opened onto a staircase. The other opened onto something else, which I'll get to later.

So, you open a door and you are at the foot of a flight of stairs. You go up these stairs and you reach another door. Go through that one and you have entered The Flat. Now, I'm not entirely convinced, now, that it was ever designed as a flat. Or a living place of any description. It was a storage/work area basically, that the shop owner had decided to make a bit of cash on the side from. You had two rooms, with no door on the gap between them. Off one room, you had a 'kitchen'. This was an alcove, containing a sink and enough floor space for one person to stand in front of it. That was it. There was no bathroom, nor any toilet facilities at all. The full extent of the plumbing was a cold water tap and a wall mounted heater situated above the sink which took an age to heat water and gave it out in a fine spray. How did we 'go potty' you might ask. Well, we went outside, to the second door in the tunnel.

This door was not a door you'd find on a house. It was a rotten wooden shed type of door, with rusted hinges that were hanging loose and a sliding bolt to keep out intruders. Which it would have taken a braver kid than me to use, seeing as how it had no electricity in there, so no light. Even with the door open it was dingy, natural light struggling to reach that far into the tunnel. There I was, all of about 7 yrs old, and my choice was sit in the pitch blackness while I took a dump (pardon the crudeness) or sit with the door open to the elements (not to mention the shop staff and delivery people) while I sat there with my trousers round my ankles. Oh the luxury.

We bathed once a week in a tin bath, filled by boiling the kettle lots of times, which would be situated in the middle of the living room. It was in and out as quick as you could because the whole family had to have a turn and it didn't stay hot for long.

The second room was designated the bedroom. A couple of wardrobes were placed across the centre of the room with a little gap between them. One side was for the kids, the other for the adults. The kids got the side with the window, so as to allow us a little natural light, while the parents had the side with the door(or hole in the wall rather) and light switch, so they could control access.

Near the gap between wardrobes, on the parents side because there was not enough floor space on the kids side (you literally had a foot wide walkway between each bed, with none at the foot, which were flush with the wardrobe), was a bucket. The bucket was for liquid waste of a night. If you wanted to pass solids, you went outside. Believe me when I tell you, we soon got into the habit of clearing our bowels before going to bed.

I loved that flat. The bedroom was so small it was practically a cocoon and was therefore very cosy. The outside toilet, for all that it was obviously a great deprivation, actually felt like a bit of a novelty. During the day anyway. And the fact that we kind of took it upon ourselves to have free run of the yard meant that we were constantly mixing with (and being accepted by) the staff and delivery personnell of the shop. We were like little mascots or something. And there was nothing cooler than coming home to that great big gate that we had walked past and wondered about for years and actually having the key. It was like being able to raise the drawbridge of a castle. What?, I was a kid.

The shop was not as large a concern as it had once been and so only one of the sheds out in the yard was in use. The other was empty. It made an awesome playroom/camp and we had a ball customising it to our needs. We even built swings from the rafters out of some old cord we found in there. These swings were deadly, as we didn't know how to attach the cord to boards in order to make seats so we simply had a big loop of thin whatever-it-was that would slice into our backsides when we sat on it. They became a competition of endurance, with no-one willing to admit that they were in agony because it would mean giving up the swing to the next person. We really were that competitive.

That flat was the last place that the Finch family all lived in the same place. Afterwards, following the separation, my Mother would revert to her maiden name and there would be various men in her life, some lasting longer than others, with the three of us kids being joined by three more over the years, but it never really felt like a proper family again. Maybe that accounts for some of the affection I have for that time. I've spoken before about never feeling particularly close to my family as a child but who knows, perhaps my sub-conscious craves the family unit more than I realised. Although,I know that if money and employment factors would allow it, I'd move back to that village tomorrow. Make of that what you will. Perhaps it's the place rather than the people that induces the nostalgia.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Repressed memories

So I was chatting to a vague acquaintance the other day about their kid having been ill, as you do, you know. From out of nowhere I had this really vivid memory of being extremely ill as a child. I mean really ill, with projectile vomiting and coughing fits that damn near brought up a lung. Not a pleasant memory, you might think. But you'd be wrong. You see, this memory brought back a whole lot of others from the same time. A whole lot of very pleasant memories that I had somehow completely repressed.

I'd like to put them down on here, because I really do think they may be some of the happiest of my childhood, projectile vomiting notwithstanding.

We were staying with my Uncle Paul, the man for whom I was named. Every morning when I got up, I'd eat my breakfast and then sit with Paul, filling in his wordsearch puzzles. Or at least, after my own fashion. I always went to the answer section you see, and drew around the little dotted bubbles in the completed puzzles. I don't think I ever once did an actual puzzle. Paul would sit and laugh and congratulate me when I finished one and never once made me feel daft for taking so much pleasure in what was essentially the worlds easiest dot-to-dot puzzle.

Paul was the first person ever to ask me if I wanted to play 52 card pick-up.

Despite the anger of my parents and Pauls wife, who to my shame I can't remember the name of, Paul never once raised his voice about the vomit on his nice new hardwood floor in the dining room. (Incidentally, the only time I've ever lived in a house with a dedicated dining room. Such luxury.) I know it's odd to have fondness for a man simply because he didn't scold you for being ill but that was the culture in my family.

The school I attended while we stayed there had a completely different way of doing lots of little things. For example during P.E. they had a time out corner. I was sent there once and, not understanding the rules of the whole exercise, came back into play when the teacher waved. He was of course only waving for the person who had been sent there before me. My time wasn't up and I was punished again for 'being cheeky'.

The class I was in had a little toy shopfront thing made of plastic that you could sit behind and play at being shopkeepers. The teacher had hit upon the idea that this thing could be used essentially as a bribe. The best two in the class got to sit behind there all day every day for a week instead of at a desk and do their work on the little built in countertop thing. It was cramped and too close to a radiator and you had to move all your stuff at 'play' when the rest of the class were allowed to use it but it was a novelty and hotly contested. I once spent a week in there with a girl. Don't remember her name, don't remember what she looked like, don't remember anything much at all about the whole thing except that I was in a small, cramped, warm space with a girl for a week. And you bonded when you were in there, you had to, being separated from everyone else. Who knows, if I'd stayed at that school a little longer I could be married to her now. Whatever her name was.

I saw my very first, that I can remember, science fiction show on television. If you read my Impossible Quest blog you'll know how big a part of my life science fiction television is and this, I now realise, was the birth of it. It had a floppy haired man in a jumpsuit and a shiny silver robot with a flashing light for eyes. They were enemies stranded together who became friends and eventually the 'bad' robot helped the man evade death at the hands of some other robots. It was of course 'The Return Of Starbuck' . Pure gold, with a lot to answer for in my life.

There you go. Happy childhood memories of watching TV, being sick and having some very confusing feelings about a girl that I never quite got to grips with. The thing is though, is that until this recent reawakening I had absolutely forgotten all of it. To the extent that I now can't place it in the timeline of my life. Should it have come between moving out of the house and staying with my Grandparents? Or did we go to Pauls after leaving my Grandparents and before moving into the flat we'd end up in. I have no idea. If you'd asked me a week ago I'd have said that it went House-Grandparents-Flat, followed by bitter divorce and moving away from the area. This whole batch of memories just does not compute.

God, I hope I haven't imagined them. What kind of sad case would I be if I had to hallucinate some happy memories? And then made myself violently ill in one of them?

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Birth of paranoia

So far, since I found a new groove with this blog, most of what I've posted has been fairly unthreatening stuff. Or at least, unthreatening to me anyway. I've slated my Grandfather as a violent bully, my Father and Uncles as cowards and my other Grandfather as, at the very least, a bit of a numpty. I've also mentioned that when I was forced to live apart from the rest of my family for a while, my parents made little effort to keep me in their lives. This last one is the only time I've come close to criticising myself, in admitting that their absence didn't really bother me.

Anyone can tell stories that paint others in an unflattering light, that's easy. The point of this thing was to be honest about myself. There will be a lot of unflattering stuff about me in future posts, most definitely, as I get into my life as a slightly older, and so slightly more independent child. But even at a very young age I was far from perfect. Time to talk about that.

The very first lie I can remember telling occurred during the 'staying with Grandparents' phase. It's something I've not had to dredge my memory for because I've thought of the situation often since then, in moments of self reflection and/or self recrimination. It wasn't a particularly big lie. I mean, how big a lie is a 6ish year old capable of telling? The reason I've never forgotten it, though I suspect every other person involved has, is because it was a pointless lie. It achieved nothing, and actually made me seem a bit silly. Not to mention a really bad liar.

I had been to school that day. A message had come around telling everyone that the school was putting together a football team and that anyone who was interested should go to a certain classroom at lunchtime. My best friend and I decided we'd go along. Now, I was very young at the time and the inherent stupidity in participating in sports, and especially in voluntarily participating in sports, had not yet occurred to me. Anyway, lunchtime came and after we'd eaten our fill we trudged off to the classroom in question, signed up and got given the practise times and whatnot. (There was no try-out or selection process or anything. If you turned up you were in, competition not being all that fierce amongst 6year olds.)

I can't pinpoint a specific moment in my childhood when I suddenly decided that I hated sport. I would imagine that it came early in my Secondary education, since that's when my perfectly logical reasons for disliking sporting activities - I'm no good at them and see no reason to waste time and effort on something at which I'm unskilled, risking ridicule in the process - would have presented themselves to me for the first time. Before Secondary school football and other sports were just a bit of fun, not to be taken seriously. You didn't need to be good. You didn't even need to know all the rules necessarily.

Anyway, at 6 I was definitely pre-hatred and was actually genuinely excited about being on the school football team. It was a new thing in my life, a fun new thing, and I was bouncing about it for the rest of the day. For all that I had done nothing to deserve or earn it I felt special. Then my Uncle came to collect me from school. Now, seeing as that drop off and pick up was one of the few times I saw my Mother you'd think that I'd be disappointed by her absence but no, I was happy to see my Uncle. It didn't matter that I would have seen him anyway once I got home - he was still young enough to be living at home with his parents - this was my cool Uncle and he was picking me up from school. He would be the first to hear my great news.

Except here comes the lie. I told him about the football team, but as I was talking I started to tell him that I hadn't wanted to join the team but had done so by accident. I explained that Peter (my best friend) and I had gotten into trouble at morning break and so had been told that we weren't allowed outside at lunchtime. We had been ordered to sit out the period in a classroom but the teacher doing the punishing hadn't known about the football meeting in the same room and we had been caught up in it. Being too shy to tell the football teacher (he being quite intimidating) that we were there for being naughty, we signed up for the team.

It was complete and utter nonsense. I know why I said it, I can remember the thought processes even now. As soon as I told my Uncle about being on the team a little voice in the back of my head said "he doesn't care", closely followed by "he won't think you're cool if you're excited". At that time he was probably the person in my family that I looked up to and admired the most. He was my hero, despite being little more than a kid himself and probably just wishing I'd bugger off and leave him alone with his porn mags and illicit VHS copies of gory horror movies. (I didn't realise that last part at the time though.) The thought of him thinking I was uncool was soul destroying. I had to think fast and the story I told was my way to seem indifferent to the team and also a little 'cool' for being in trouble.

Why did I assume that he wouldn't be interested? Where did that little voice come from? Thinking abut it now, it's tempting to think that the need for his approval was me compensating for the fact that I didn't seem to have any from my parents. Maybe, despite not seeming to care about that, I did, in my subconscious, crave adult attention. The problem with that is, I have no recollection of ever getting upset about the separation. If I can remember this tiny little white lie about a football team wouldn't I remember a traumatic separation? Even if I buried it, wouldn't it have manifested at least once, at the beginning? I don't know, I'm no psychologist. What I do know is that the story wasn't over and I was about to look even more foolish.

I had to go and tell my Mam about the football team. She would need to buy me some boots of course, and there was also the matter of Saturday practise sessions at the school, which I would need taking to and picking up from. So I headed off, after my tea, to see her. As I've said, the house they were staying in wasn't massively far awayand it took all of about a minute for me to get there. More than enough time for the little voice to raise it's head again. "She'll be angry" was the basic theme. "She won't want to pay for the boots". "She doesn't care enough to to deal with the practises". "She'll laugh and say you aren't good enough". And so on.

I knew I had to tell her about the team, there was no way out of that. But I found myself so convinced that I would be in trouble about it that I just knew I had to make up a reason why it wasn't my fault. And it couldn't be the one I told my Uncle, since that one involved me already being in trouble. What to do? Well, I blamed it all on Peter. I'd gone along because he wanted to sign up. He put my name down without telling me and now I couldn't get out of it. Oh, the creative juices were pumping that day, I can tell you.

Can you see the problems here? I'd told my Mother one thing, my Uncle another, not really thinking through the fact that since they were brother and sister there was an ever so slight possibility that they would, you know, talk to each other at some point. Then there was the chance that, by saying I didn't want to do it, I might make my Mother try to get me out of it. My Mother was friends with Peters Mam as well, so would likely talk to her at some point. And if my involvement in the team went ahead, members of my family would come into contact with the teacher whom I had been so enthusiastic with originally. In short, there was no way in Hell I was coming out of this looking anything other than a total prat.

Which is exactly what happened. The thing is though, there was very little comeback. I was a little kid after all, and tradition in my family was that you didn't take little kids particularly seriously. None of that heart to heart, "tell me what made you do this", 'special chat' bullshit that you see in soap operas. No, what I got was a half-hearted bit of a telling off that lasted for all of 30 seconds and then a week or so of being mocked and made fun of by everyone I knew. It was fucking horrible. I was too embarrassed to talk to my cool uncle. My Mam, when I saw her, never shut up about it and when I told her something she'd say "Is that right? Or should I ask you uncle Darren?". I was mortified about the whole thing and they just thought it was a joke.

I ended up playing on the team for the rest of that term and then the team was scrapped because too many kids dropped out once the novelty wore off and we didn't have enough to make up a squad. Truth be told, I wasn't particularly bothered, since the whole thing had become a bit of a chore for me as well and I was glad of the excuse to be rid of it. I can't remember the name of the teacher, or any of the other kids on the team apart from Peter and the whole experience was one big damp squib.

But I'll never forget that first day and the way I turned what should have been a little bit of fun into a huge big deal and drove myself to panic attacks. It was the first time I can remember those little paranoid 'voices' wreaking their havoc on my life but they didn't stop there. As I grew older they would strike more and more often and were largely responsible for the crippling social shyness that gripped me throughout my teens and led to my being mercilessly bullied. But that's a story (or 10) for another day.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Nothing of consequence. Move along there.

Got no internet at home, yet again, so I'm sitting here in the library trying to think of something I can slap on here as a placeholder entry, seeing as how the entry I was going to post is saved on my laptop.

So I thought of something, typed it up, just a load of random stream of consciousness waffle really, and then I tried to post it. Only to find that the library restricts the amount of time on blogger, I'd exceeded the time limit and it hadn't seen fit to tell me until I tried to move further into the posting process.

I started another session, only to find that everything I'd typed was gone, due to my not having saved it. So instead you are just getting this daft bit of a moan because I don't have time for anything else and I'm determined to post something every week.

So, as the heading says, nothing of consequence, move along there.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

A little amputation never hurt anyone

Random coincidence time. The big stories that we were always told in our family, when we were kids, were about getting fingers chopped off. That's stories, plural. Both of my Grandfathers had been involved in accidents involving fingers getting cut off.

Granda Andy (Mams Dad, aka The Nice One) was a builder. Not a massive builder, he didn't actually build houses or anything but he would knock up an extension, or a replacement roof, or a partitioning wall or whatever. Had a nice sideline in fitting bathrooms as well, but that's by the by. Anyway, he had a shed in the garden at home and in this shed he had a circular saw built into a workbench. You see where this is going right?

So anyway, long story short, yes, he cut off his finger. Now, having been in the building trade all of his adult life (and in the days before Health & Safety became the ridiculous Big Brotheresque monsters that they are today), he had seen his fair share of accidents of this type. He knew what to do. Packing his finger in ice from the freezer and staunching the flow of blood from the stump,he made his way to the Hospital. This being in the times when Hospitals with Emergency facilities where the norm rather than the exception, he didn't have far to drive. Yes, he did drive himself.

Once arriving at the Hospital, he was sorted out by a Doctor, or rather, I'm assuming, a Doctor and a couple of Nurses (credit where they it's due) and his finger was reattached. It was bound up and he was sent home. (The Doctor insisted that a couple of my Uncles go and pick him up, they weren't letting him drive home) Arriving back at home he promptly went back into the shed and started cutting up wood again. Decreased use of his hand because of the earlier wound and massive dressing, coupled with being on pain medication meant that, well, again, it doesn't take a genius. The same finger. He was too embarrassed to go back to the Hospital so he sewed it back on over the bathroom sink. It hasn't worked since.

Now, I would assume, looking back, that the second part of that story was an exaggeration. A little gruesome aftershock to properly gross out the kiddies. I certainly wouldn't bet money on it being true, I mean, who tries to sew on their own finger? Is it even possible? How do you hold it in place if the other hand has the needle? As a little kid though, we hung on every word. He did like to make us squirm. His finger is useless mind, so make of that what you will.

Family lore at the other end of the street, at chez violent bully, was similarly bloodthirsty. Most Council or Housing Association owned homes at that time were furnished with a wood/coal burning fireplace. My Grandfather, like most people, would begrudge the purchasing of too much coal, or, for that matter, pre-cut logs. Instead, he would saw and chop whatever odds and ends of scrap wood he would get his hands on. Quite where this endless supply of wood came from I never did find out, especially puzzling since pretty much everyone we knew had the same habit. A small forest probably gave it's life to the hearths of that street, just in the time we lived there.

One of my Aunts, whilst a child, had been holding some wood steady. My Grandfather (the implication, never explicitly stated, was that he was the worse for drink at the time) got a little too energetic with the saw and swoosh, one thrust later, bye bye fingers. All four fingers on one hand were gone from the middle knuckle. Unlike in the first story, there is no slightly humorous end to the tale. She was taken to Hospital by my Grandmother, (not, you'll note, the culprit himself) where they sorted things out as best they could, but since no-one had thought to take the fingers along she ended up going through life with no fingers on one of her hands.

This story I don't doubt at all. I saw her hand for one thing and for another, my Grandfather, ever the gent, would make great sport of tormenting us with the tale while we were holding wood for him to cut and then laughing at us when we got nervous. The one time anyone refused to help him because of this story he went into a mad rant, followed by a spanking session that ended in a fair few tears. (It wasn't me by the way, I was always far too much of a coward to stand up to him.)

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Separation (non)Anxiety

So, we've moved out of our house, for reasons that are never made clear and into the home of my Dads parents.

Only one problem, they didn't have room for all of us. One of the kids had to live elsewhere, with the other set of Grandparents. As the eldest I was chosen, presumably on the basis that because I was the eldest I would handle separation from my parents better. Either that or it was just a cunning ploy to get rid of me.

To be fair, the two houses were in the same street, 8 houses apart, which meant I wasn't exactly on the other side of the world. Fact was though, other than walking to school and back I never saw my Mother, and I could go days without seeing my Dad at all. Weekends, unless I made the effort to walk up the street I never saw them either because they never came to me. And do you know what, I wasn't the least bit bothered. Does that sound odd? I don't claim to be an expert on child psychology or anything, but shouldn't a child who still counts his age in single figures be at least a little upset at being separated from his parents?

Not me. To be honest, I loved it. It felt like freedom. I had my own room (which had a huge bookshelf full of my Grandas old paperbacks and served as my first real introduction to proper novels), I didn't have to play with my frankly annoying younger siblings and best of all, so long as I didn't burn the house down or anything similarly drastic, my Grandparents and Uncle pretty much left me to my own devices. The arrangement also had the added benefit that I wasn't under the same roof as the other Granda, although I won't lie, I don't remember that ever being a part of my thinking. I suppose even then I was a little conditioned to not see violence in the home as being particularly noteworthy.

I doubt I gave my parents a second thought the whole time I was there.The way my life is now, with me being estranged from almost my entire family and frankly, being better off because of it, it's easy to think that maybe the young me knew something that adult me should have remembered. When you don't care, abandonment and betrayal lose their sting.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

My Daddies Daddy

Between moving out of the house and moving into our new place there was a bit of a gap. Which meant a little stopover with some Grandparents.

Little bit abrupt that ending wasn't it? Would it have read better if it ended ... I think it probably would have. I'll remember that.

So anyway, my Grandparents. Like most people I started off with four and the number got lower over time. I've now got two. I don't know what the statistics are on Grandparent retention; am I doing well or badly to have two left at the age of 31?

If I seem unduly flippant on here about the death of 'loved ones' it's because, by and large, they weren't. Loved ones, I mean. They were people in my life. People I spent time with and people who gave me presents and people whose mockery I had to endure in good humour, yes. Not people I loved though.

My paternal Grandfather (it's both of my paternal Grandparents that are dead, my maternals are still alive and kicking, if a little the worse for wear), was a keen collector of comics. Name a British weekly adventure comic of the 70's and 80's and he read it, religiously. Warlord, Victor, Battle, he had them all, and he was always willing to let you dig into them whenever you visited. We learned never to remove them from the premises though, that was absolutely forbidden.He also liked taking his Grand kids on days out during school holidays and every few weekends.On the face of it, he was pretty much everything you wanted in a Grandfather.

There was a problem though.A problem which was, to my young eyes, a pretty bloody big problem, thank you very much, even if the adults in the family didn't seem overly bothered by it. The man was a bully. He was a bully to his wife, he was a bully to his own kids and he was a bully to us little ones. He wasn't a big man, physically, but my Grandma was a borderline midget (not really, but she was very small) and he dwarfed her. Most of his own kids had outgrown him but I suppose years of conditioning had left them thinking his behaviour normal so they never stood up to it. As for us kids, well, what could we do?

I once sat in their living room with my parents, my Uncle and his wife who were visiting at the same time and my Aunt. My Aunt was only in her teens, and so still lived at home but she wouldn't have been able to leave had she wanted to due to severe physical and mental disabilities that left her confined to a wheelchair with the mind of a small child and very little use of her hands. (She could feed herself but it would leave a hell of a mess and her beloved crayons never stayed inside the lines)

The adults were sitting around gossiping about whatever it is people sit around talking about for hours at a time (I'm not the most sociable person so I don't know) and I was working with my Aunt on a model kit I'd received as a present. It was lots of bits of card with pictures of roof tiles and shopfronts and brickwork and such that you had to colour in and then they folded together to make a model High Street.

(It may give you a little idea of the level of compassion in my family when I tell you that I received a real bollocking from my parents when we went home for letting my Aunt help with it, because she would obviously just mess it up. Even as a little kid I thought that the fact she had a whale of a time and was dead proud of herself was more important than whether my model looked as good as the one on the box but I couldn't argue the point. Parents know best don't they?)

Anyway, the adults are sitting around, I'm working on the model, and suddenly my Grandfather, kindly old soul that he is, decides that he is not happy with the cup of tea he is drinking and my Grandmother should go and make him a fresh one. Seconds later, because she hasn't jumped to attention quick enough, he is out of his chair, grabbing her by the throat, pinning her to the door and screaming point blank into her face that she is a useless c*nt and if she didn't want 'knocking into next week' she had better hurry up with his tea. Not a single one of the adults intervened. I mean, come on, my father and uncle watched their mother being assaulted and verbally abused and did nothing. Whats worse is that my Aunt barely reacted. Given her mental and emotional condition, how many times must she have witnessed that, or something similar, in order for it not to affect her?

Another incident that immediately springs to mind about him, even after all these years, is when he took me and my sister to the seaside. South Shields, the standard destination for daytrippers in my part of the country. We piled on to the bus, first thing in the morning, each clutching our little plastic money bag full of coins we had collected in the days prior (we didn't get regular pocket money allowances, just when there was a specific reason, like this), all excited about going in the water and building sandcastles. That excitement is the only good memory I have of that day. I'm sure we must have had some fun but all I can recall is the public beating I received for leaving my money on a bench and us having to go back for it. Or the screaming my sister endured when it was discovered that her money bag had torn and she had lost most of her coins. He didn't give her any to replace it, in case you're wondering. He just made her do without.

So yes, he let me read his comics. Not really enough to qualify for 'loved one' is it?

Monday, 20 September 2010

My First Memory

What's the first proper memory you have? Mine is of climbing over the big pile of rubble that used to be my house.

I don't actually have any memory of living there, just of climbing on the rubble after it, and the rest of the estate, was demolished. I do remember the house we (Dad, Mam, Me, Little Sister) had been rehoused in by whoever it was that's responsible for rehousing 1000's of people when a developer offers a backhander for a plot of land. (May not be true. I honestly don't know the politics/economics of what happened, I was about 4!) The new house was about 5mins walk from the demolition site and we had to pass the heaps on the way to the park. At first their were fences up and barriers and stuff and the parents all made sure to issue strict warnings about the dangers of getting in amongst but that soon went by the wayside and all of us local kids would be swarming all over it like flies on... Huge mounds of bricks, shattered glass, rotten timbers full of rusted nails, it was heaven for an adventurous young lad like myself. Loads more fun than the park we were supposed to be going to.

Looking back, it's odd that the rubble mounds stayed where they were for as long as they did. You'd think that if the estate had been cleared for redevelopment the crap would have been shifted straight away. Unless a deal fell through or the money ran out I suppose. Even then, fear of public injury and the dreaded compensation claim would never allow it these days. As a child though, you don't think like that do you? We had our very own adventure playground, with added puncture wounds. No-one ever got really badly hurt though, at least that I can recall and lets be honest, gushing leg wounds and gouged out eyeballs make an impression don't they?

We (now with added Baby Brother) moved out of there when I was about 7 or 8. We still lived in the same little village but I don't recall ever going back to that demolition site (or the park) after the move. Maybe it was because I was lazy and the extra 10 minute walk put me off, I don't know. Perhaps we'd moved far enough that we'd crossed that magical invisible line that parents have that dictate which places are "too far for you to go on your own." A statement that never seemed to be followed by "I'll get my coat and take you" Funny how that works.

Between moving out of the house and moving into our new place there was a bit of a gap. Which meant a little stopover with some Grandparents.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Honesty in the face of ridicule

I've been reading a lot of blogs lately (and will be reading a lot more in the near future thanks to a thread on the 2000adonline forum). Blogs by writers, Blogs by artists, Blogs by people critiquing various aspects of popular culture and most relevantly, Blogs in which ordinary people talk about their lives. These in particular fascinate me. The concept is nothing new of course, it's little more than keeping a diary and people have been doing that for centuries. The thing that makes it noteworthy, and yet never seems to be commented on (or perhaps it was commented on, when the practice first became common), is that they are writing these diaries, traditionally very private things, and publishing them where the whole world can read them. Anytime it wants. This seems quite brave to me but maybe I'm just old fashioned.

Anyway, my own feeble excuse for a blog - this one here, that you're reading now - has been a bit neglected because to be honest I've never really felt like I have that much to say. I can waffle on quite happily for hours at a time about the telly - and do, over at The Impossible Quest - but when it comes to actually talking about myself, well, what is there, really?

Then inspiration hit. There is a girl on twitter. I can't remember why or when I started following her but she seems to have been a staple of my timeline for as long as I can remember. (This happens quite a lot. Mainly when I trace someone back from a celebs profile page to see what they said to prompt a particular response, find them quite interesting, decide to follow for a couple of days to see how it goes and then forget about them and they just become fixtures. I'm sure this is how a lot of people decide who to follow.) Anyway, this girl is in her teens, not sure exactly how old but she seems to be doing some kind of exams so...

At first, not being particularly au fait with the rules of netiquette, I felt a bit off, 'following' a teenage girl online. I kept getting paranoid about accusations of stalking, for reasons that will become clear in the next paragraph. The thing is though, and I make no apologies for this, she has become one of my favourite follows. For the simple reason that she is one of the most charming and entertaining bloggers I've come across so far. She'll talk about anything, trivial one day, earth shattering the next, with the same disarming honesty. It's not that she doesn't get embarrassed, she is quite open abut how embarrassed she does get, but it never stops her from putting it all out there. Also, somewhat sickeningly, she's a much better writer as a child than I can even dream of being as an adult.

I got to thinking, could I be that honest? One of my 'issues' is fear of ridicule. Or rather, fear of ridicule behind my back. It's a facet of my personality, one of many in fact, that I have never really been able to understand. In person I am quite a jovial, happy-go-lucky, wacky sort of chap, who doesn't care a jot what people think of him and will quite happily make a total fool of himself in aid of a cheap laugh. You know, the kind of twat you kinda like for 5minutes then just want to slap. On the phone though, or over the internet, I am constantly censoring myself, trying to anticipate what those at the other end of the line will think of any given remark, cheeks flushing with embarrassment every time I think I've said anything even slightly foolish. (In my last post on this blog I talked about visiting a prostitute to lose my virginity. I am not remotely ashamed of this and in 'real' life most everyone I know has heard the tale but it was pure physical torture typing those words. Even now, just thinking about it, my guts are churning. I claimed not be embarrassed, who was I kidding?) So, could I reconcile this fear of long distance ridicule with my desire to write something halfway honest on this blog. I was resolved to try.

The thing is though, as bad as my life is right now, it's not bad in any particularly interesting ways. Jobless, Penniless,Womanless, on the verge of Homeless. These things are not exactly news these days are they? Why would anyone care? I suspect quite strongly that they wouldn't. Then I had the idea that maybe I should do what this girl whose writing I so admire is doing. She chronicles her adolescence. Why don't I? Certainly, had the technology existed to have a blog when I was a young 'un I would most definitely have had one. Maybe had I had the outlet it might even have cured me of my paranoia in my formative years rather than have it dig in and establish itself. But the technology didn't exist, for I am not a young man and t'internet, sadly, came after my time. Looking back with todays eyes, I can't help feeling I've missed out on something.

So I've decided to write on here about my life. A look back at my formative years, all the crap I went through, all the indignities I suffered without even realising. Because we don't do we? We don't sit around as kids, bemoaning our lot and woe is me'ing till the cows come home. We get on with it and have the times of our lives. I look back now and I know, with my sensible adult eyes, that my childhood was somewhat lacking but when I was actually living it...

This blog has long needed a purpose and I think this is it. I just hope the paranoia doesn't kick in and shut me down

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Common Decency. Or a lack thereof.

I am once again inspired by current events to put finger to key and spout some ill thought out knee jerk drivel for the edification of probably nobody. This time by the use of the phrase 'Dumb Cunt' to describe the wife of a philanderer. Seriously, Dumb Cunt.

I have to tell you, for someone who has my utter disdain for all things football related, it does seem to have the ability to get under my skin more than anything else. After the last time I was compelled to blog on here, bemoaning the World Cup nonsense that was going on at the time, I've managed to avoid the whole shebang pretty thoroughly but alas, it has caught up with me again. In the form of a certain aesthetically challenged England player and his alleged dalliance with a lady of the night.

Now, I have no problem at all with people who spend their cash paying for sex. While it may well be illegal I see no reason to consider it immoral and have said as much many times in the past, often leading to quite heated arguments. In fact, I shall go on record, here and now, and say that I myself have partaken of the services of such a woman, just the once, when I decided that the age I had reached was just a little too old to still be a virgin. I figured that this was my best way of 'getting the first one out of the way' without worrying about the reaction of the woman to my inexperience. She was, after all, being paid to flatter me. The fact that I can type this, and post it on the internet for the world to see, without embarrassment, should tell you what my philosophies are about prostitution.

That aside, I do have a problem with men who cheat on their wives. Were the man in question single I would care not a jot about this story. To be honest, even now I don't care about the prostitution angle, which I see as secondary to the fact that he slept with a woman other than his wife. The fact that he paid for the privilege is beside the point. What I do care about is the attitude that has been thrown around, by people I would ordinarily like and respect, regarding the wife in the equation.

The prevailing attitude seems to be one of mockery. That she is a gold-digger who has no right to be upset because she's little better than a prostitute herself and she will obviously stick with him for his money so she deserves what she gets. My question is, when did our society become so fucking heartless? Assume for the moment that the allegations are true and she wasn't aware. She has just found out that the man she's been with her entire adult life has cheated on her. That doesn't engender just a little bit of sympathy?

Now, I may be wrong here, because as I've said I have very little interest in football and as a rule I have even less interest in the private lives of those who play it, but I seem to have the impression that these two have been together since they were like 17 or something. Is that right? I've definitely got that idea from somewhere. So as a kid she started going out with another kid who was a bit good at kicking a ball around. That makes her a gold-digger how exactly? Does she have The Sight, able to tell from watching a couple of school games and some 5-a-side at the local rec that this lad she kinda fancied was gonna one day earn millions on the international stage? Could it not be even remotely possible that she quite fancied him, went out with him for a while, fell in love and subsequently supported him in his attempt to build a professional career?

Does it make her a gold-digger that she stayed with her partner, who was not rich when she met him, after he made some money? Should she have left him? Would that make her more acceptable to the public at large?

Something else that has become more and more apparent over the last couple of days is that the people who seem to have the strongest reactions to this kind of story are those who spend the most amount of time bemoaning how celebrities have overtaken popular culture. The kind of people who will tell anyone who will listen, and a lot of people who'd rather not, that these celebrities are worthless and full of shit and a blight on our world and they couldn't care less about what they are up to and who they are up to it with. Then they leap on a story like this with all the ferocity of a starving fox in a battery hen shed. It seems that they view this evidence of celebrities being flawed as validation of all the abuse they have so delighted in heaping on them over the years, whereas I would be more inclined to see it as evidence that they are ordinary people who make mistakes and maybe we should leave them alone to sort it out in private.

At this point it is traditional for someone to pipe in with the age old arguments of "They're not shy of publicity when it suits them" and "They shove themselves down our throats and then complain about invasion of privacy". To these arguments I say "Bullshit". Football players play football. If you want to go and shout at them at the ground, be my guest. If they sell the photo rights to their wedding, feel free to mock their tasteless excesses. If they show up at a red carpet wearing a ridiculous outfit, tell a few jokes about it by all means. Then stop. Recognise the line. They do these things because it is a part of how they make their living. They would not do these things if they did not think that a market existed for it. That they do does not give you, me, or anyone else the right to pry into the deepest recesses of their private lives. It is voyeurism, pure and simple and frankly, I despair at the thought that I live in a society where this is not only commonplace (rape, murder and robbery are commonplace) but also considered acceptable.

He was in the wrong, she is a victim. Lets not lose sight of that. But also, lets not lose sight of the fact that there is a marriage on the line here. They are a young couple , not long married, who have nevertheless been together for a long time. Perhaps some would say that they settled on each other too young, I don't know. Regardless, many marriages survive this kind of mistake. I would hope that this one could as well. Why can't we leave them alone to sort out their problems. I would consider it a shame if a salvageable relationship faltered because of public indulgence in schadenfreude.

Oh, and if they do stay together after all this, can we please refrain from assuming that the 'Dumb Cunt' only stayed for the money and is as good as a prostitute herself. Cheers.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Poor deprived football fans

Okay, Football. More specifically, the World Cup. Everyone's talking about it. So what is there left to be said by someone such as myself, who has absolutely no interest in the game whatsoever. Well, nothing, as it turns out, and I wouldn't be bothering if it weren't for a man by the name of Charlie Brooker.

Now Charlie, as we all know, writes a bit of a column in some newspaper or other, I forget which one, in which he talks about whatever rubbish he feels like talking about. Which is fair do's, he's a funny guy, people like to read his thoughts, everyones a winner. Anyway, he wrote one about the World Cup. Or rather, he wrote one about his lack of interest in the World Cup, the oversaturation of advertising themed around the World Cup ,and the nauseating faux-patriotism that is the inevitable by-product of the World Cup.

In this column he said everything I think about the bloody World Cup, and did it much more elegantly, succinctly and above all amusingly, than I could ever dream to do. So if you want to know my views on the World Cup (unlikely I know, cos why would you want to know my views on anything?), then track down his views and pretend I wrote them.

Which leads to the question, why am I bothering to type any of this. Well you see, I was inspired by his column, or more accurately the reader comments that followed his column on the interweb site of the newspaper in question. Several people agreed with his point of view, which tells me that they are right thinking individuals who have managed, against all the odds, to retain a modicum of the taste and common sense they were born with. Well done them. Others however, disagreed. Vehemently and with nobs on. It is these people that have got me typing.

You see, they have taken offense at the article. They have not all taken offense at the same portion of the article but there are 3 main, bones of contention, shall we say. I should point out that I am not writing this in defence of Charlie Brooker. On the one hand I doubt very much that he cares what people think about his views and on the other hand, he's more than capable of defending himself if he is. No, this is me defending MY views.

Anyway. One of the problems people had with the article was that Brooker finished it with a reference to the fact that he would be out of the country for the duration and therefore would not have to endure to much of it. This got certain people hot under the collar because he was rubbing it in their noses that he could afford to go on holiday while they couldn't. He's a snob, in other words. I know what I think about this complaint but won't say, because this is about defending me, not Brooker, and I most certainly can't afford to leave the country for the duration of the Cup. But Fuck off, seriously, if that is how you took that comment, you humorless little shits.

Point 2 is back to something I can relate to. The faux-patriotism. Now, leaving aside the imbecile who insisted that our armed forces were fighting and dying for our right to participate in a football tournament, the main problem people had was that the patriotism, in their minds, is not false. No, they hang flags from their bedroom windows, stick them on their cars and temp-tattoo (I hope) them on their kids 365 days a year. Proper flags too of course, not those cheap rip offs that don't even have ENGLAND written across the middle. English until I die, opined one. Excellent mate, well done.

Except it's not that way is it? No, for the most part, we whinge and we moan and can't be arsed to vote (I know more people turned out this year but it was hardly a huge majority of the populace was it). We complain about our public services and then we complain about our taxes. We are, lets face it here, a nation of people who, if we are honest with ourselves, are incredibly unpatriotic. In as lazy a way as possible. We don't firebomb the Houses of Parliament and chop off her Maj's head or anything.

The final point is the one that realy made me laugh. I simply could not believe that anyone could say this with a straight face. Maybe, just maybe, the first person to post it was being ironic. Possibly. Didn't stop a shedload of people from agreeing though. The complaint was essentially "Why do people who don't enjoy football feel the need to shove it down our throats? Just don't watch it if you don't like it. It's once every four years, just let us have our time."

I say once again, Fuck Off. Seriously, people who don't like Football shove the fact down peoples throats? Really? We live in a country where you are, especially if you're male, considered somehow sub-normal if you don't like Football. When I was a trainee at my old place of work I was ordered to fake an interest in Football because neither the staff nor the regular customers would accept me if I didn't. I didn't and they did. After about 5 years. And it never went away, but rather became a running joke among them.

I would never dream of walking up to a stranger and announcing that "I did not watch the game last night because all fotball is shit". Care to hazard a guess how many times strangers have come up to me and started talking about a match? How often do you think the phrase "I don't really follow it mate", a phrase that hardly shoves my loathing of the game in their faces, has been enough to end the conversation?Never. Because people simply can't accept the fact that you aren't interested in watching a bunch of blokes you don't know kick a pigs bladder around a patch of grass for 90mins.

And, "let us have our time". Jesus. Because of course, outside the 4 yearly World Cup the poor deprived footy fans have absolutely nothing to watch have they? No, they are sitting in a dark cloud of depression, shaking with the agony of withdrawal as they stare at the calender, willing the endless days to pass so that they might once again eat their fill of footbally goodness in 4 years time. I mean, it's not as if there is an annual League tournament, FA Cup, European Cup and various International friendlies. Or even various foriegn League tournaments that are covered across Lord knows how many channels. Oh, whats that you say?

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

On second thoughts...

I've decided that all that telly stuff I talked about last night deserves a dedicated home, rather than being lumped in here with my self pitying rubbish. So was born The Impossible Quest.

This place will be reserved for my occasional whinges.

So check out the other one. Or don't. It's up to you.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010


Okay, so I decided that this blog needed a point. I weighed up the many and varied subjects upon which I am a noted authority. I came up blank.

Cut to now, many moons later and a decision has been reached.I have for quite some many years been engaged in a pointless, doomed to failure quest. One which has seen me endure countless hours of mind numbing tedium and toe curling embarrassment, but also many moments of teary eyed emotion, floor rolling laughter, and edge of seat tension. Yes, I have vowed to watch every episode ever made, of every television show ever made, in the sci-fi, fantasy, and horror genres.

It's hard, especially since the miracle that is Sky+ has been stripped away from me for quite some time now and there is no telling when I shall have it back, but I have persevered.

Don't get me wrong. The sci-fi genre is not my only TV love. I also have a similar completist mentality in regards to American Prime Time Soaps, Cop/Doc Shows, and Sitcoms. Sci-fi comes first though, and if it comes down to a choice it will always come out on top.

So I shall post on here, at no particular time, on no particular day, about whatever random progress I've made on the quest. Some of the shows will be current household names, others will be more obscure but hopefully I can be half way interesting about nearly all of them. Even the shit ones.

Of course, there will also still be occasional posts that have nothing whatsoever to do with TV, and are just me whining about something no-one cares about.

A warning. There will be no screen grabs on this blog. There will be no embedded video clips. There will be no bright shiny colours at all. There will simply be big reams of text. Sorry, but there is a very big, very important technical reason for this. I haven't the foggiest clue how to do any of that stuff. At some point down the line, that may change but knowing my technical capabilities the way I do I wouldn't hold my breath.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Inane Witterings of the Rich and Famous

Well, I have succumbed once more to the lure of the fad. To add to the myspace page I haven't been on since the night I set it up, the facebook page I've been on once since I set it up and this blog which I've posted on all of half a dozen times since I set it up, I now have Twitter.


Am actually using it though, at least so far. Fun to point and laugh at the inane witterings of the celebrities I'm following. Picked a few at random and my God do they lead dull lives. Almost as dull as mine. Either that or they're messing with us plebs for their own amusement and are 'tweeting' (can't believe I actually typed that word, ugh) about parking tickets and hair dressing appointments while they're actually wrapped around each other in wild drug fueled orgies.

Yeah, thats probably it.