Monday, 29 August 2011

Status Quo

Of any confession bared on this blog, the following is the most shameful. A revelation to embarrass my speculative future children. Any other person would keep it to themselves at risk of being tarred, feathered, and disowned by society, of having faeces propelled forcibly at their heads and, quite simply, never getting laid again. To tell you this, dear friends, is truly to throw myself into the breach.

I went to a Status Quo gig on my own once.


Oh, you’re still reading. Your loyalty is touching.

At this gig, I discovered what many of you would probably assume without needing to test the theory: a Status Quo concert attracts a rather remarkable selection of freaks.

Due to my eagerness to witness one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll bands of all time, I arrived at the venue (Portsmouth Guildhall) incredibly early. Such alacrity meant I was soon queuing with the keenest members of the Status Quo fan club. The woman at the head of the queue informed me, when her lungs were able to draw enough breath beneath the gargantuan weight of a quintuple chin and breasts the size of Henry hoovers, that she had attended every show of every tour for the last 25 years. The others gravitated to her (partially by choice, partially due to the laws of physics) like a guru, a 12-bar blues messiah, or an intergalactic slaver who they owe a debt.

For the gig itself, I was stood immediately behind this bunch of Quo fanatics in the first row. Now, I should take the opportunity here to explain that Status Quo is the greatest band of all time. Their back catalogue speaks for itself, with such hits as Rockin’ All Over the World, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Old Time Rock ‘n’ Roll, Rock ‘n’ Roll ‘n’ You, Let’s Rock, and many more. It’s difficult to describe the heady thrill when the curtain came up to reveal stage-wide stacks of gleaming white Marshall amps, and the band ran (well, walked at a quickened pace) out to the deafening thunder of the first of three chords they’d treat us to that night. The fan club guru lady went so crazy she almost managed to lift her arms without getting out of breath.

The first few songs tore by. I whipped out the air guitar, tossed my hair, sang along – all the things that mean I will never have sex again. Just as Guru Lady roared her approval at the guitarist above her, and he looked round for a chain to strangle her with, something collided with my heels. A guy in a wheelchair.

As I turned he again bashed into my legs.

‘What?’ I shouted.

Somewhere inside his thick beard I saw his mouth move, and he waved at me to move out of his way. I’m not a bad person. I give up my seat on buses for old ladies. I help women carry prams up stairs. But I was fucked if this guy was taking my place at the altar of Quo. Health & Safety regulations were on my side.

After several valiant attempts to sever my feet from my body, wheelchair guy gave up and eventually manoeuvred beside me. Shortly afterward, 2 very drunk middle-aged women in their daughters’ clothes decided to infiltrate the front row. They targeted fat Guru Lady and her place on the rail. Big mistake.

What followed is the least impressive fight I’ve ever witnessed. The first woman grabbed Guru Lady’s shoulder and tried to pull her back. To give you an exaggerated simile, this was like if I tried to take Clifford the Big Red Dog for a walk against his will. Guru Lady threw a ham-hock arm back in defence and knocked the woman to the ground. The second woman pounced and received a swollen fist to the face.

The first woman attacked again, but backed off after Guru Lady bellowed something at them which may or may not have been ‘I’ll freeze you in carbonite for later!’

Defeated, the women shifted along until they blocked wheelchair guy. Like expelled concubines, they had identified a lesser lord to serve. When the guy punched them in the arses to move them, they took this as encouragement. The final song began to play. For the intro, the women limited themselves to a teasing sexy-dance to placate him. As the first verse kicked in, the first woman dropped it like it was hot straight into his lap. She ground on him, and as the chorus began the other woman put her leg across his face and dry-humped his ear. By the end of the song, and the end of the gig, each of them had a seat on either side of the wheelchair while the guy fondled a breast in either hand and smiled like it was Christmas.

So, it is possible to see Status Quo and still get laid.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Companion Cube

‘If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.’

Today I have watched 1 episode of Lost. Once you a cut a swathe through the heaps of plot contrivances, every character is motivated by, or at least present as a result of, love. I also watched 2 episodes of Frasier, where the pursuit and maintenance of love is paramount. I read 50 pages of The Scorch Trials, by James Dashner, where the protagonist quests to regain his soul mate (as well as find the cure to a futuristic debilitating disease that will turn the world’s population into zombies... but that isn’t relevant to my point). I played a while on Portal 2, where you’re encouraged to love an inanimate metal cube.

Please, don’t envy my hedonist jet set lifestyle.

As a fat teenager at an all-boys school, love only seemed possible within these fictional realms. My parents were long-divorced. My peers far more interested in amassing Pokemon cards than finding their life partner. I knew that somewhere in the future I would lose interest in catching ‘em all and just focus on catching one.

I’m 24, and I’ve had 2 girlfriends. I cared for both of them, but neither relationship lasted long enough for me to even think about love.

‘If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.’

I believe I have loved. An epic poem for the ages could be composed about my teenage passion for biscuits. There is no famous literature written about visiting a person’s Facebook profile twenty times a day because it’s the closest thing to being near them. About staring at your phone in sheer desperation for a text to arrive. About laying siege to a person’s home by camping outside the walls until they have no choice but to come out and face you.

Actually, that last one’s sort of The Iliad, so there has been an epic poem written about it. And it’s kind of creepy.

I have never had love reciprocated. I assume it’s much the same as what I have felt, but without the feeling that your heart might explode at any moment/the police will knock on the door to arrest you for harassment. Does this make it less significant? I have felt love, but not had love. So am I just a clanging cymbal? Am I nothing?

‘If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.’

What used to feel as irrelevant as all those pop-culture references in my opening paragraph will soon be has now taken on a startling immediacy. Those friends that refused to trade their shiny Raichu for my shiny Mewtwo are now married, living together, having kids. I’m happy for them. I’m not even necessarily jealous of them. I’m fearful of becoming irrelevant to them. I already don’t have many friends. Sooner or later, as the debilitating love disease claims each of them, I will be forgotten to them.

Of course, this is all built upon the sand foundations of my pessimism. Maybe soon it’ll be me boarding a plane to chase love and crashing on a tropical island full of contrivances. Maybe it’ll be me falling for an inanimate objects (I hear blow up dolls are very realistic these days). Maybe it’ll be me that grows out of the naive teenage idea that love will make everything alright.

As Strapping Young Lad puts it:

LOVE: the paradox of needing

Now there’s a distinct counterpoint to the Bible.

Quotes taken from Corinthians 13:1-3 and Strapping Young Lad – Love?

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

24th Birthday

Yesterday I turned 24. What have I achieved in the space of days since my last birthday?

I lived alone for 6 months in a flat next to Southampton airport that featured holes in the windows and a mocking impression of what you and I know as central heating. At the height of winter my record for layers worn at one time reached 8 (I’ve never been happier that I kept my old fat clothes). The noise of flights landing at the airport every ten minutes has allowed me to sympathise with survivors of the Blitz, and every Friday morning when the bin lorry passed under my window I leapt from my bed convinced I was under attack from the USS Enterprise.

I was unemployed for the last 5 weeks spent in my flat. On one occasion I went 9 days without speaking to another human being. However, I kept the increasingly unlikely notion of my own existence alive by befriending an out-of-date copy of the Yellow Pages. His name was Chris. He froze to death when I left him on the porch and the snow hit. I comfort myself in the knowledge that he now spends his days in a sepia photograph mounted in the lobby of the Overlook Hotel.

I had sex once.

I survived a 300ft drop mostly unscathed. Rather than a miracle, this is because I was attached to a rope. Two months later, I still have lower back pain from the force of being quite a spectacular twat and jumping feet first.

I started doing stand-up comedy. In seven gigs, this has earned me exactly 1 applause break and approximately 1,753 gazes of stupefied boredom/naked bare-faced hatred. It’s been worth it to bellow ‘CUNT’ to a room of over a hundred people. The idea of doing stand-up was to meet some new friends. Since January, I have made exactly 0 new friends.

I saw 0 superhero movies.

I reached the end of my novel. By my next birthday, I am determined that the world will see it in one of 2 ways: either it will be published and be a tremendous success and I will be gifted a ticker-tape parade through Times Square in the Pope-mobile, or it will be chief evidence in the investigation of my death when the manuscript is found bound in rejection letters next to the canal from which they dredged my bloated fish-nibbled corpse.

I had 2 dates. Both went badly.

I have taught 4 separate university classes, using my natural optimism and lust for life to nurture their dreams, ambitions, and bizarre sexual fantasies.

I joined the gym and have somehow persevered in attending pretty much every morning for 8 months. My body is now marginally less gelatinous and my muscles marginally less comparable to sun-bleached skeletons picked clean by vultures. Better known as Madonna.

I met Crazy Gym Guy who deserves to be some kind of Twitter sensation. On three separate occasions he’s told the story of how he was caught in an earthquake in west London. He didn’t feel the earth quake, nothing fell down, and the news didn’t report it. But it was definitely an earthquake, because he woke up and the birds were making noises ‘what didn’t sound right.’

Biggest achievement of the year: filling a Shakeaway loyalty card and cashing in my free milkshake.

Flavour: Aero Mint Bourbon.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Heartbreak #1

When a guy likes a girl, there are two methods of pursuit. The first is the socially acceptable summon some cajones and ask her out/get her drunk on a night out and take advantage. The second, and increasingly more popular way, is the lurk around her Facebook/MySpace/bedroom window and hope that she somehow comes to see you as a god. There is a third way, but it carries a twenty-year sentence.

The first girl I ever truly liked received a combination of these methods. I lurked, I prayed, I gifted, before eventually asking her out. But only after she’d fallen for my best friend.

I’d met her in a lecture, and we’d talked a bit, and she was quite lovely. A few days later in town I found myself drawn to the shop where she worked, just to bathe in her presence. Before I knew it I’d bumped her into my top eight MySpace friends. This was getting serious.

Naturally I didn’t think I stood a chance and vowed never to act on these feelings. And naturally, the mice crawling inside my skull elevated any contact with her into signs, signals, and maybe, just maybe...

Soon enough an (altogether innocent) obsession developed. Turning up at nightspots I knew she frequented, buying her painstakingly innocuous presents, hiding what I believed to be cryptic messages of love in my MSN Messenger display name. Who says romance is dead? In hindsight it’s all terribly pathetic. But at the time I believed I was in love, and had no better idea how to go about it.

The signs kept coming that perhaps she was interested too. Where most men would just ask for a date, I invited her over to play videogames. It’s remarkable what the line ‘Can I come round and play your Wii?’ can do to a boy. She came. She played my Wii. She briefly met my best friend and housemate and then I chivalrously walked her home. It was Christmas-time. The air felt full of magic. Apparently I hadn’t yet learned that Christmas miracles are bullshit.

Indeed, in the following months I relentlessly saw hope where I should have seen warnings. A handmade storybook Valentine’s card garnered me, after a few days of silence, a message of thanks. I didn’t realise at the time that in those few days I was undoubtedly blocked on MSN Messenger out of embarrassment. When the message arrived, I ran a joyful lap of the house worthy of movie montage.

It was always the same way. Messages returned days later. Yet never did the gaps alarm me.

It was a misunderstanding that made me see the truth. Someone had given her the impression that my best friend didn’t like her. They’d met a few times by now. He’d admitted to me that he quite liked her. He didn’t want her to think badly of him, so he sent her a quick message. She replied instantly. And then instantly again. And again. Where I had waited days, my friend waited minutes. Suspicion bloomed in my mind but I stamped it down.

Their conversation blossomed. Other small signs appeared online to stoke my suspicions. This would end badly if I couldn’t halt it.

Finally, I decided to ask her out. I hoped it would somehow make her forget my friend. Only, I didn’t have the courage to do it in person. I wrote an e-mail. A confessional statement agonising in its effort to remain casual. My friend sat behind me as I wrote it, helped best he could, and wished me luck when I pressed send.

The rejection was the fastest reply I’d ever had from her. It was kind and clich├ęd, insisted we remain friends. To my own surprise I suffered no suicidal alcoholic rampage. It had simply confirmed what I knew all along. It was fine. I was fine.

Three days later she pulled my best friend. We were on a night out, and as soon as she arrived she had him cornered. I sat outside their conversation and made the occasional desperate attempt to distract her. As an appropriate amount of inebriation approached, conversation became dancing. I stood at the edge of the dance floor and convinced myself that I was fine. They danced closer and closer, until inevitably they kissed.

It turns out that panic attacks aren’t much fun. I fled the club and braved the long walk home. For the first time in years I cried, and my chest constricted like I was being bear-hugged by Andre the Giant. In essence, I acted like the female protagonist in a rom-com at the end of the second act, but without the knowledge that it’d all be alright in the end.

In the morning I received his guilty confession. A character in a rom-com would have fumed and declared it the end of friendship. I did quite the opposite. I told him to go for it. She was too good a catch to throw back and I wanted my friend to be happy. I acted like it was fine. And behind closed doors I bashed my head against hard objects and didn’t eat for two days.

I’m unsure how to end this story. I’m not lobbying for sympathy nor do I wish to apportion blame. In the months that followed I grinned and bore them being together. Then very swiftly she left my friend for someone else and he felt just as bad as me. It’s an event that affected us both quite profoundly.

Perhaps the moral here is carpe diem. Alternatively, to paraphrase Homer Simpson, perhaps the moral is Never Try.

Or maybe morals are stupid.

Monday, 1 August 2011

DisneyWorld Swimming Pool Nature Diary

1 x Girl determined to catch the sun only on her legs and posterior. Most commonly seen in diminutive bikini bottoms. Upper half unobserved due to precisely positioned shade cover.

Name: Unknown. Commonly referred to as: ‘Arse.’

1x Fat woman with legs like doner kebab shanks upholstered in tan leather and breasts with the buoyancy and size of pro-quality medicine balls. Defining features include skin like the hide of a neglected leather couch. Most commonly seen rupturing an inflatable sun-bathing float that had only one day left until retirement.

Name: Unknown. Commonly referred to as: ‘Holy shit that’s disgusting.’

1x Clearly under-age girl in swimsuit that bellows sex via megaphone rather than suggests it. Most commonly seen luring men into an extended prison sentence with evocative poolside struts and underwater acrobatics. Sometimes observed with overweight disapproving mother in tow.

Name: ‘Jayda.’ Commonly referred to as: ‘Oh, Jayda. I love her, dude.’

2x Jailbait hiding in the pool to conceal their miniscule bikinis from their grandparent chaperones. Warning: mating ritual involves lengthy targeting of chosen individual via flirtatious/terrifying glances before victim is singled out from friends and invited to late-night pool rendezvous. This is likely to result in feelings of shame, guilt, and remorse, with any dash of elation quickly suppressed by angry American grandparents with shotguns.

Names: Unknown. Commonly referred to as: ‘Ohio,’ ‘Jailbait,’ and ‘Man, it’s a good thing I had a wank yesterday.’

1x Large American family ignorant to the terms ‘contraception,’ ‘diet,’ and ‘general hygiene.’ Family headed by mother. Defining features hidden behind rolls of glistening blubber. Most commonly seen raising the pool’s water-level while tearing into the corpse of a giant Mickey Mouse-shaped rice krispy cake. Once cloyed, the family bask in asteroid belts of sodden sea-going cereal kernels that fan out to attach themselves like tics to the skin of anyone else trying to enjoy the pool.

Names: Unknown. Commonly referred to as: ‘That fat-fuck family.’

2x girls in golden Princess Leah bikinis attempting to lend their skin a similarly lambent hue. Defining features include pasty English tourists assigning number ratings on a scale of attractiveness. Warning: often accompanied by inconspicuous family friend positioned to overhear such chauvinist meanderings. Recommended course of action is to loudly amend original ratings to fall within the 9-10 region and/or generally beg forgiveness. Further warning: also often accompanied by impossibly large black NFL superstar husbands with a propensity for aggression toward pasty English tourists and their lascivious eyes.

Names: Unknown. Commonly referred to as: ‘Let’s get the hell out of here.’