Monthly Archives: February 2008

I don’t F$%&ing swear

I have got better over the years. I really have. Of course my parents would probably think it was worse. But I can’t swear naturally. I always sound like I’ve just dusted off the word from the back of a library. It certainly doesn’t come naturally. When I slam my finger in a door I’m likely to go, “aaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhh”.

The thing that always surprises me about this kind of thing when it happens is that people, often before even the swelling has subsided in my thumb, say “you didn’t even swear then!”. This often leads me to wonder if they are actually deliberately injuring me just to see the true situation about my swearing. You might doubt they would go to such lengths, but then you might not know all of my friends.

No I don’t swear, even then. The lack of normal conversational swearing thing is conditioning of course, but I really don’t understand how I can be judged as weird in the personal injury area. Surely the strangled cry is more primal. Surely it’s more realistic? I wonder if people often used to swear in those situations to show that it was a serious injury. A kind of, “I wouldn’t normally swear but this really hurts”. I’m waiting for this to flip over so that people say, “I would have sworn here but it hurt so much that I couldn’t remember English”.

I understand why people think it’s weird. It is especially odd because I don’t mind others swearing around me. I understand the conversational percussive tone that it provides. I know from writing that it’s a great shortcut. You can quickly tell a reader a lot more information. And obviously I can’t write characters who are as weird as me – nobody would ever believe it.

Billy Connolly (I can’t believe how quickly he became uncool – I still love him though) said, “Nobody ever writes, ‘Fuck Off, he hinted'”. There are some things that you can only achieve with certain well placed words. I just find myself very rarely needing to deploy them in that way. And of course people who I know, know I must be really upset if I feel the need. Anyway here’s Billy with the opposite opinion:

Excuses Excuses

The most terrifying thing you can admit is that most things are your own fault. Things happen around you, but really if they bother you then it’s your fault. If nothing changes then it’s you who caused that. It’s terrifying, but boy is it empowering on the other side.

You can do anything, all you normally have to do is stop being so bloody British and ask. It’s you who dictates what you do. It’s you who perceives the way people react to you.

Remember you’re not stuck where you are. You could today, right now, with the help of an effectively non-existent credit check system, leave the country and never come back. You are choosing to be here every day. And the reason you stayed today is because…

Sharing

When I was a boy my brother and I were at a restaurant with our parents. Nothing odd there you might think, and you’d be right. The End.

Oh no, that’s not right. There was something a tad unusual about the end of the meal. With the bill had come five mints not four. And what were we going to do about the extra one? Neither of my parents fancied it but to my brother and I it was the Lost Treasure of the Sierra Madre. My mother instead of deciding to simply pop it into her mouth and be done with it told us to leave the single mint. That, being a law abiding youth, was, as far as I was concerned, that.

On the way to the car park my brother announced to us all that he had in fact swiped the extra mint. And before anyone could ever do anything about it he slapped it straight into his gob. Confusion reigned in my mind. My soul had been torn asunder. He now had two mints in his mouth and I had a measly old one. I replayed the moment in my mind in slow motion. I could see that mad glint in his eye. That cheeky grin that would mean he’d get away with it. And most of all I could see the outline of those two little balls of minty goodness pushed up against his cheeks.

I’m afraid to say I did the only thing I knew how to do – I cried. I cried my little eyes out. And I was asked what had happened, what was wrong, why was I so sad? I opened my mouth to explain the injustice of the situation and the mint I was sucking fell straight out, onto the road and rolled away. This, as you might imagine, made matters even worse.

When I hear people talking about the amount of pee and other unpleasantness that are found on restaurant mints I can’t help but remember this mint that I coveted so much that I was willing to risk all to get.

Moral: A mint in the gob, is worth two in your brother.

Radio Days

So on Monday I packed myself off to the Drill Hall in London’s glittering west end. I was there to see Radio 4’s Banter with Andrew Collins, Richard Herring, Russell Howard, Will Smith (no not that one) and Natalie Haynes.

Overall comedy winner of the night was Russell Howard for a couple of lovely flights of fancy. However that’s over the course of the evening. He didn’t at any point reach the totally piss yourself funny heights of four moments which were all done by others.

I almost cried when the frightfully posh Will Smith was forced to say “Butt Monkey” by Radio 4 production (okay Russell might have suggested this one but it’s the execution that counts).

Richard Herring actually made my head hurt with a bit I can’t explain without crushing the comedy moment. I hope they find a way to broadcast at least some of what he said on the night.

But the final two go to Andrew Collins. He managed to get Herring after Natalie Haynes left early. She kissed Herring before she left and he was very pleased with himself because “she didn’t kiss anyone else”. Andrew suggested the reason was because Richard had put her off men for the rest of her life.

Andrew also did something accidentally great when he asked, on his radio show, for a show of hands from the team members who hadn’t played their jokers.

If I was going to make any pointers at all in room for improvement I’d say I’d prefer it if Andrew was slightly lest swift on occasion at getting back to the quiz. And I think Richard might be right about the jokers being a bit rubbish. But if you get rid of them then Richard would have nothing to complain about.

I bet this show will sound great on the radio but if you can get yourself to any of the recordings then you’ll hear a lot of stuff that can never make it on air. Here’s my gratuitous movie poster pull quote: “I laughed so much Richard Herring hurt my brain”.

Afternoon Cinema

One of my favorite treats is going to see a film on a weekday afternoon. It always feels deliciously like bunking off. But sometimes it leads to rather odd situations. Like now I am writing this while sitting in a completely empty cinema – don’t worry the film hasn’t started yet.

I was once in this position before. I really wanted to go and see Texas Chainsaw Massacre when Camden re-approved the cut a few years ago. There is a strange set of rules surrounding what can and can’t be shown in cinemas and one of the rules is that basically local councils have the final say. Texas Chainsaw Massacre wasn’t available in the shops at the time so the fact that Camden allowed it was a pretty special occasion.

The only problem was that I couldn’t get anyone to go with me. The excuses were varied but most just didn’t see the appeal of going and watching a banned film. Nick must have had a much better more relevant excuse because I’m sure he’d have come along. Anyway it seemed to be a problem shared by others as when I arrived there was no-one else in the place. It’s always an odd sensation but when going to see such a supposedly scary movie I was pretty spooked.

But then something far worse happened. One other person arrived. I felt slightly worried, but surely some other people would come. No-one came. The guy was walking quite slowly along the aisle toward me. Despite his slow step he was breathing quite heavily. And then of course he sat down behind me.

I had no idea what to do. Could I actually sit through what was supposed to be the scariest movie of all time with somebody breathing down my neck? Should I move? Maybe he didn’t particularly want to sit behind me. Maybe he just liked that seat. Maybe I was encroaching on his space. Maybe I should move. But what if he followed me? That would be terrifying. So I just stayed there and it made me appreciate the movie even more.

I’d better stop now, some other people have arrived. And the movie is about to begin.

Exercise

Nigella Lawson said that, to her, vegetarianism is like exercise – it’s all right as long as someone else is doing it. I’m with her of course. The weird thing is that we all know it makes us feel better about ourselves, allows us to be sanctimonious in front of others and isn’t even that bad while we’re doing it and yet… It’s the getting started that’s the problem.

My favourite kind of joggers are those who have clearly just rescued their traccy bottoms from the bottom of their wardrobes. I walk quite quickly and I find it a confusing experience as I wander past them. I take a small kind of joy from the situation – I can’t help it, please try not to judge me. But what is the etiquette in this situation? Should I be changing my route, slowing my pace or should I pat them on the back as I pass? I can’t be sure. Perhaps you could write in with advice? I’ll try not to judge you.

I worry about it as well. Douglas Adams died while riding an exercise bike. I mean clearly exercise isn’t very good for your heart. And what if I get addicted to exercise? I have an addictive personality. I have as much fear of being unable to kick the habit as I do about kicking the bucket.

In the end it’s going to have to happen. Inches can already be pinched, pounds have already been piled and people on the internet have already written to me to point out my man boobs. But in a way all of this makes me even less likely to do it. My least favourite thing is being told.

Convincing myself that I’m doing it for me rather than what other people think is probably the most crucial step. But it’s a hard one.

The Glory Hole – Church Centre

On holiday in Fife, we passed this, I had to look twice. And a few days later we came back and took the picture.

I’m not sure this needs any more – Ed.