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Sunday, 23 October 2011


A while ago, the BBC broadcast a documentary made by Sir Terry Pratchett, about euthanasia. I intended to watch but, having forgotten it was on, managed to see only the last 20 minutes or so. Even this much proved too much for me to handle (as I should probably have predicted it would, given my much documented 'problems' dealing with mortality) and I sank into something of a depression. One symptom of this mood was a rather long and rambling stream of tweets on twitter, in which I spoke of a cousin who had lost his life to cancer many years ago. One follower opined that while what I was saying was interesting, it was hard to keep up on twitter and I should maybe write a blog about it.

My desire to keep these reminiscences in roughly chronological order (although that hasn't worked out exactly), coupled with the fact that once my mood lightened I didn't really want to throw myself back into the Dark Place straight away, has meant a bit of a wait, but now, here we are. Or at least, here we are at the beginning of the tale. There will be more.

Mathew was my cousin/uncle. He was born to my Uncle Eric and his first wife, but when that marriage fell apart and his mother (I can't remember her name, but then I think I only ever met her once) disappeared from the scene and wanted nothing to do with him, Eric decided that he couldn't handle raising a child alone and Mathew found himself being raised by my Grandparents. Hence his insistence on us calling him Uncle, which was nothing if not really fucking annoying.

And there's the rub. Mathew, or the memory of Mathew, is something of a sacred cow in my family. He died young, and not in a very pleasant manner, so of course he must always be spoken of kindly. So I don't speak of him. You see, I only knew him as a child, have only my childs-eye opinion of him to go on, and consequently have very little in the way of nice things to say about him.

The first time he came to stay with us, it was in the very early stages of his illness. We all knew he had been poorly, but we didn't know with what, or how serious it was. He himself gave no indication that he was anything less than 100%. We were told though, that we had to be nice to him, that we had to include him in our activities, and that we had to 'take care of him'. This last directed at me of course, as the oldest. It was easier said than done.

Everyone hated him. Seriously, everyone. He stayed with us for a week and day by day our group got smaller and smaller as one person or another decided they didn't want anything to do with him. He was arrogant, he expected everyone to do whatever he wanted to do at all times, and he spoke to people like they were shit on his shoe; I wanted to punch him on may occasions and am genuinely surprised that certain of my friends didn't do just that; thy weren't a bunch that were shy with their fists.

Now, I know what you're thinking; he was ill and we should have cut him some slack. Well, as I say, we didn't know he was ill. We knew he had been ill, but we had no reason to think he still was. Even he himself didn't know. He was, so far as we could tell, just a spoiled brat. Maybe he was spoiled because the adults knew the extent of what lay in store for him, I don't know, but that didn't change how the situation appeared to us. All we knew was that this kid was behaving in ways that would have seen us get the hiding of a lifetime, and getting away with it, while at the same time doing nothing at all to endear himself to us. We couldn't wait for him to leave.

Do I regret, now, that we didn't treat him with more kindness? Do I wish we had known what was down the road for him, so we could have made more effort to enjoy the time we had. I'd like to say yes, but if I'm honest, I don't think it would have changed anything. Regardless of what we knew or didn't know; regardless of how long or how short his remaining life would be; the truth remains the same. He wasn't a very nice person. At the most, we might have made more of an effort to pretend to like him, because that's what you do, right? Our true feelings would have remained the same though.

I often think back to those days and wonder what it says about me. Am I a bad person because I didn't like him? I don't think so; he gave ample reason. A better question perhaps, is am I a bad person for not feeling worse about it now?

Maybe the answer to that one is yes, I don't know. Maybe by writing this post, and putting these thoughts out there for the world to see, I am exacerbating my guilt; they say, after all, that you should never speak ill of the dead. No story of my life would be complete without him, however, so I must write about him, and I'm afraid to do so in any other manner would be to be a hypocrite.

So there you are. I am a heartless bastard. Who knew? Oh, yeah, everyone who reads this blog knew, that's right. I'll leave it there and I'll be back next week with another memory of my terrible youth. I'm a twat in that one too.

Monday, 10 October 2011


So, today you were going to get the mirth filled tale of how my psycho neighbour killed my pet rabbit (and not in a good way, I didn't even get any freaky sex out of the deal) and the separate, but related, incident in which said psycho neighbour egged her children on to physically attack me. However, and that's a very big however, I couldn't manage to fit the tales into a respectable wordcount nor, and this is the big problem, make them readable at *any* length.

So I quit. I'll no doubt come back to those tales at some point, either together or, more likely, stretched out to fill two posts instead of one, like the relevant bits of a weekends X-Factor. In truth, I realised as I writing it that I'd actually jumped ahead a bit in the old life story anyway, so I can justify postponing them as a narrative preserving act, rather than the 'I'm too lazy to do another re-write' act that it so obviously is. Win!

What's that I don't hear you cry? What will he replace it with at such short notice? Well I'll tell you. Childline.

A grand idea in principal, Childline was the freephone number for children to get advice about their problems. (They're still around, but online now.) But to me, Childline was first port of call for your more imaginative prank caller.

Yes, I did indeed use Childline as a source of great amusement. You see, as I've noted before, I didn't, for the most part, consider myself to be all that badly done by. Certainly I knew that I was somewhat neglected by my Mother and her waster boyfriend; certainly I knew that technically speaking the beatings I regularly received from them were not strictly legal; and certainly I knew that some would consider the daily torment, both mental and physical that I endured at the hands of schoolyard bullies was less than ideal. Just as certainly though, I knew that I had good mates, that I was a bright student and that I had everything I needed to have a grand old time. Life was pretty good.

So it never occurred to me to actually use Childline for it's intended purpose; that being, to talk to someone about my problems. Instead I used it to talk about fake problems, to invent stories of such deprivations and indignities as would make Dickens himself think "nah, mebbe not, bit far-fetched there Charlie lad".Did I feel bad, as they poured sympathy and concern down the phone? Nope, twas hilarious.

At one point, I made mention of the fact that I had been on the phone to Childline, while in the same room as my mother and Maurice the dickhead pseudo step-dad. I genuinely hadn't thought it through, as to how they might react, having only mentioned it because I thought my tale of woe that I'd spun the volunteer might make them laugh. The looks of panic on their faces were priceless. So good in fact that I didn't finish my story and just let them sweat.

Looking back, with the growed up eyes of a jaded mandult, I see how reprehensible my behaviour was. Childline was a charity, running on fumes and staffed by volunteers who gave up their time because they genuinely cared and probably felt like shit after listening to the horrible stuff that *genuinely* traumatised kids must have been telling them. I wasted their time and probably caused them more distress.I was, in short, a little shit.

So there you have it. A post in which I was to be portrayed as a victim has been replaced by a post in which I am the villain. We were overdue for one of those anyway.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

You Can't Put That Many In, The Suspension Won't Take It.

Last week MoaN once again did what it seems to do a lot lately and failed to update. Why did it fail to update? Well, because I hadn't actually gotten around to writing anything, that's why. Still, the legion of loyal readers who just can't get enough of my childhood trauma can at least console themselves that MoaN manages to update a hell of a lot more regularly than my TV blog or my book blog have managed recently.

The reasons for my not writing as much as I did haven't really changed since the last time I posted one of these 'I haven't posted much recently' messages. Or rather, the surface causes may have changed, but the root issue remains the same; namely my utter dissatisfaction with my life as it is right now. Where previously this had led me to not blog because I either couldn't be bothered or my mood was already so low that I didn't want to dredge up yet more misery from my past. Now however, it has led to new blog-blocking issues.

Yes, the self improvement drive that I recently announced I was about to embark on is in full flow. Very much early days still, of course, but with my history of procrastination and, let's face it, just plain not doing what I say I will, I choose to feel proud of myself that I actually made an appointment and signed an enrollment document. Of course, now that I have I have no choice but to see it through, given that the 'free' course is only free if you complete it; walk away mid-way through and they hit you with the bill, which would be disastrous, since my long term employment is still up in the air and I'm trying to save up for a trip to Scotland next year.

So, with my free time now taken up with listening to women with bizarrely good enunciation explain simple mathematical theories in as confusing a manner as possible and massively over excited men yell "Well Done! You Got Them All Right" whenever I answer a bunch of questions my 6 yr old nephew wouldn't struggle with, the time available to post up on here is limited.It's not all bad though. I can amuse myself by mocking the ridiculous 'problems' I find myself faced with in this bizarro world they seem to think we live in.

Take grout for instance. If I was ever going to buy grout (unlikely in the extremis) I would probably just read the label on the tub to know how much was in it. Not an option, apparently; you have to work out the volume of the tub using a mathematical formula. Now, I work in a builders merchants and we sell grout. I have never, in all my years there, ever seen one of our customers working out the volume of a tub of anything. In fact the only time pi crosses their minds is when we have a promotional breakfast morning on.

Or there's the time I had to work out how many paving stones would fit in the back of a van. Apparently you do this by working out the volume of the van. Well, here's a little tip for you, from me; if you work out the volume of your van, and then purchase enough paving stones to fill it to capacity, Congratulations, you've just killed your van. Little bit of wisdom there, that I've picked up over the years.

Anyway, the maths is over soon, and then it's on to the English course. I'm hoping for less blatant nonsense there. Although, given my complete and utter inability to remember the definitions of 'noun', 'verb', 'adverb' etc., I possibly shouldn't look forward to that one too much either.

That's enough pointless waffling I think. I will endeavour, next week, to do another trip down memory lane; I know you are all missing your vicarious wallowing.