It’s Time I Admitted Something…

I’ve harboured a secret for at least a decade.

My feet are smaller than I actually tell people they are.

Now I understand that you might think that this is quite a dramatic sentence to open with for something so incredibly tame. You probably thought that I was going to reveal that I have a liking for nipple clamps or I secretly enjoy sniffing people on public transport. But no. It’s my feet. My miniscule feet. However, the fact that I lie about something as insignificant and pathetic as the size of my feet is the reason I feel I need to get it off my chest.

You see, size six is the smallest size of footwear for adult males and anything under that is considered appropriate for children, so since about the age of 18 that’s the size of shoe I have decided to wear. It’s been a constant source of embarrassment whenever it’s been brought up in conversation and on a regular basis I’ve refused to honestly answer that I am in fact a size five. The reluctance to answer honestly probably comes from the usual mocking that I receive whenever I lie about my shoe size.

It’s usually quite an aggressive confrontation and the conversation usually follows a little like this…

“Size 6. Oooh. You know what they say about a man with small feet…”

“Yes. Yes I do Sharon. But I also know what they say about the link between three ‘Greggs’ sausage rolls on your dinner break and type 2 diabetes, but some opinions are best kept to themselves you intrusive bitch.”

I have lost count of the amount of times I’ve found myself awkwardly arguing with a stranger/acquaintance about the implied size of my penis.

Anyway, it’s safe to say that I try to avoid the topic at all costs and up until recently my denial was so successful that I had even forgotten my true shoe size. And by forgotten, I mean dementia level forgetfulness. It had completely, categorically vanished from memory and as far as I was concerned, I was a size six. However, as often is the case with denial, it can only last so long before it comes back to haunt you and my haunting happened a couple of years ago when buying a suit for a friends wedding.

I was 28 at the time and like all 28 year old men I had decided to go suit shopping with my Mum. Surprisingly, the suit purchasing went swimmingly and we were done and dusted within one hour. It was upon attempting to buy some formal shoes to match that I encountered my problem. We spent a total of about three hours stumbling from shoe store to shoe store as I was forcibly marched down the catwalk of shame in shoes that were so clearly too big for me. As the third hour creeped into the fourth and fatigue was getting the better of me, I genuinely questioned whether it would be acceptable to just turn up barefoot to a wedding like some sort of hippy Hobbit. I was now at breaking point and it was at this stage that my Mother took control and ordered me to visit a store she knew would be perfect for me. 

I reluctantly entered the shop and instantly the shop assistant asked if I needed any help. My Mum obviously did all the talking because after all I was only 28. Before I knew it, I was sat down with my shoes off and a shop assistant with hands as cold as ice had my foot in her hand. Things had taken a turn for the worse.

My foot was now in some sort of metal contraption and the woman with the cold hands looked through me and offered some words up to my mother.

“Size 5 he is.”

Confused at what was happening, I mouthed the sentence, “I’m an actual adult in the middle of a mortgage application.”

My mother, ignoring my obvious breakdown, asked the lady if she had anything in the back that would be suitable for me.

The lady with the cold hands nodded in approval and vanished.

As she went to fetch the shoes, I looked at the wall behind me and noticed a massive sign. The massive sign simply read, “BACK TO SCHOOL RANGE.” To either side of me were two boys who could be no more than the age of twelve, and like me, because I had only just turned 28, they too were also accompanied by their mothers and were getting their feet measured in similar contraptions to the one my foot was in mere moments ago.

It was at this point that I remembered my life was a lie and I was the owner of a pair of child-like feet. I had hit rock bottom.

Now I’m sure we’ve all felt humiliated at some point in our lives. No biggie. But being humiliated in the childrens section of a shoe store surrounded by flashing Spiderman trainers and a shop assistant who clearly thinks you’ve brought your mother along because she must be getting some sort of carers allowance adds an extra sting to it all.

I was mortified.

After what appeared to be a lifetime, the cold handed lady came out with two pairs. A pair that would do, and unbelievably, a pair of fucking Velcro ones. VELCRO!  I politely declined the Velcro pair, asked my mother to tie my laces and left as quickly as I could.

A couple of years have passed since this traumatic day, but if it has taught me anything, it has taught me to be comfortable with who I am.

And who I am is a man with size 5.5 feet!*

*Still working on it.

Halloween Is For Children. Grow up.

With Halloween fast approaching, many people, including myself, are forced to pretend we care about a holiday that anyone over the age of 12 should be embarrassed to participate in. I strongly remember being a face painted child dressed in a bin bag promising myself I would never turn into one of these adults that completely disregards Halloween, but here I am, the man I promised the boy I would never be. There are fewer sadder sights as a man in his thirties than being around other adults celebrating Halloween and on the few occasions I’ve found myself in that situation, I’ve never felt that anyone in that room was scared or spooked, which is the whole point of the holiday in the first place. Usually, I’ve found myself drinking alcohol with the same friends that I usually drink alcohol with, but for some reason we’ve all decided we need to dress up as characters from ‘Stranger Things’. Pathetic. If I wanted to scare a room full of people in their thirties, I would just walk around handing out house prices in the local area and reminding everyone that they’ll probably never be able to afford to retire.

To put it bluntly, if you’re not grasping it by now, I’m not a fan of Halloween. However, I am in a relationship and when you’re in a relationship, at least 50% of your time is doing things that makes the other person happy.

That is why today, I’ve been pumpkin picking.

If I’m being honest, it was a hard sell for my girlfriend to get me to go and when she floated the idea, instead of just saying I would go, I of course reacted like the prick that I am.

“You mean, you want me to get up early and essentially spend my Sunday farming? SOUNDS LIKE A GREAT IDEA!”

I almost sarcastically suggested that we should ask our local ‘Wetherspoons’ if they’d let us spend the rest of our day off washing their dishes.

But Sunday morning did come and surprisingly I was looking forward to it. I think this was mainly due to that fact that I had spent the week prior seeing people I know on social media having so much fun picking their pumpkins. I had somehow managed to banish my cynicism about the whole thing and convinced myself that this would be great. I’d get some fresh air, I’d get to spend some time with my girlfriend and I could post cheesy photos of myself smugly holding a wheelbarrow so other people on social media would think that their life was shit in comparison to mine.

As it turns out with most things though, the expectation of the day turned out to be better than the reality. Our first stumbling block came thirty minutes after we had left the house, when we arrived at our destination to find an empty field and a sign that simply read, “NO PUMPKINS LEFT FOR 2020. SORRY.” I’d love to say that we took that sign in our stride, but we reacted like the stereotypical millennials that we are by blankly staring at each other and asking out loud why bad things have to happen to good people. After a good ten minutes of ingesting this injustice we decided to move on and try another place.

The second farm was another thirty minute drive. But at this point, it was pumpkins or death. There was no going back. On we drove. The drive to the second location was tense and the only noises that dared to fill the air was the automated voice of the sat nav and the music of ‘The Bee Gees’. After quite a significant amount of time internally singing, “How Deep is Your Love?’ and repeatedly praying that this farm would be open, we were greeted by a man. A man who could only be described as a power hungry pumpkin fascist. A power hungry pumpkin fascist that was repeatedly bellowing the sentence, “COMPLETELY FULL. NO ENTRY” and taking pride in every car he turned away in his ridiculous illuminous hi-vis jacket. Now you probably think it was at this stage that we gave up. No self respecting adults would continue wasting their Sunday going to yet another place. Surely?

Five minutes later we arrived at our THIRD farm. At this point, I’d like to reveal that I’ve never been to a war zone, but I challenge anyone to argue with me that this was any different. We were surrounded in all directions by people knee deep in mud and abandoned vehicles as far as the eye could see. As we silently debated whether all this was worth it, a woman who was struggling to get passed us in her car aimed a perfectly delivered middle finger in our direction while her kids cried in the back seats. It was at this point we knew we had been defeated.

So there you have it. What should have been a romantic Halloween themed Sunday morning with my girlfriend turned out to be a two hour tension riddled car journey in silence to three closed farms and a trip to our local supermarket to take advantage of their 2 for £1 pumpkin offer.

Happy Halloween.

Unless you’re over 12.






I Do Not Have Short Man Syndrome And I Will Kill Anyone Who Says I Do.

There are three words in the English Language that rile me up like no other. Those words are, ‘Short Man Syndrome.’ I am a man of about 5’4.  I am short. Petite. Tiny. There’s no getting around that fact. Every nickname I’ve ever had has been shaped around my lack of height. I would be mocked mercilessly whenever a ‘Stuart Little’ film would come out. But it’s something I’m mostly OK with. It’s not like I was born tall and suddenly shrunk as I grew older. A sort of Benjamin Button where by the time I’m 80 I’m living in someone’s coat pocket. It’s my experience of life. I’ve known no different.

However, there are a few things that have annoyed me.

Growing up (DO NOT MAKE A JOKE WITHOUT MY PERMISSION) I was the short kid. I was the kid who was forever being told I wasn’t the age I was. I’d turn up to an event, ‘Strictly For 10 Year Olds And Above’ and be told by an adult that I’d never met before that I wasn’t 10. I couldn’t be. I just didn’t look it. So while my friends were allowed into this exclusive event, I would be left sitting on one end of a seesaw, while a 6 year old stared blankly back at me from the other end, looking like my world had ended.  This was a regular occurrence and up until about 14 I often found myself having existential crises on seesaws.

At festivals I just see the back of heads. That’s it. At Eminem, I saw the back of heads. At Arctic Monkeys, I saw the back of heads. At Green Day, I saw the back of heads. In my experience, festivals are just standing in mud staring at the back of someone’s head while some moron pisses into a plastic cup. Often, without my permission, I’m put on someone’s shoulders and like some sort of religious sacrifice, I suddenly have people staring at me as I uncomfortably dance along to a song I can barely hear.

As an adult, people have routinely picked me up. Strangers on night outs have literally picked me up and carried me across the dancefloor. It’s hard to look cool in a nightclub, when like a petulant child, you begin kicking your legs and slapping a stranger’s sweaty bald head, shouting, “LET ME DOWN THIS INSTANT.”

These are a few things that have annoyed me over the years, but without doubt, the biggest irritation of mine is a relatively new one. From my early 20’s onwards, whenever I have shown any emotion that could be considered negative, someone will inevitably roll their eyes and utter, “Short man syndrome.” I mean, how dare I be angry or frustrated like any other normal healthy functioning human being? It must be because I struggle to reach the top shelf in my fucking supermarket. It’s the only logical explanation. As a short man, I couldn’t possibly get annoyed for any other reason than the fact that I was never good at basketball. Damn those blasted hoop dreams of mine.

Tomorrow I could find my girlfriend in bed with another man and launch myself at him with a hatred I didn’t know was possible. Foaming at the mouth I would throw my fists at him and within seconds my lack of height would surely be brought into question. I’d find myself being chastised by a stranger in my bedroom while he was busy putting back on his underwear.

Me: You little bastard. I’ll kill you….

Cheating Man: Woah little man. Calm yourself down. Talk about short man syndrome.

Me: What do you…

Cheating Man: You should really see someone about that temper of yours, little fella.

Now, I am fully aware that getting angry at being accused of having short man syndrome is counter productive. It’s like me writing a blog complaining about putting on weight while simultaneously fisting chocolate cakes into my mouth. But it’s something that annoys me and as a human being I’m going to fucking express myself.

I will however end this blog with a warning. If anyone dares to comment. If anyone has the gall to even mention my height, I will fight you.*

*That is if you don’t put your hand on my head and make me pointlessly swing at you.

I HAVE VERY SHORT ARMS.

Leo. The French Bulldog of Terror.

The idea of having a dog is much better than actually having one. There. I said it.

My sister has just got back from a family holiday to Cuba, but a couple of months ago she asked us if we wanted to look after her French Bulldog, Leo, while she was away. I was apprehensive, but my girlfriend jumped at the chance. She’s wanted a dog since the day we got together and I knew she’d take him in a heartbeat. But this is a relationship, and like in all great relationships, we knew we’d have to have a serious conversation detailing the advantages and disadvantages of taking on a puppy.

The conversation went slightly like this:

Me: But we’ll have to feed him. Walk him. Pick up his shit. Base most of our decisions around him. It’s a commitment that…

Her: FRENCH BULLDOG!

It was a great argument from her and one that I simply couldn’t argue with. Reluctantly I agreed.

I mean, how hard could it be? It’s just a tiny, little French Bulldog. It’s not like it’s a Great Dane. (PLEASE IMAGINE ME SARCASTICALLY LAUGHING AFTER YOU READ THE NEXT SENTENCE.) We’ll barely notice he’s there.

Within 60 seconds of being in our house, Leo, (or the Demon Dog as we have now affectionately renamed him) had jumped on our sofa, cocked his leg and took a gigantic piss. It was a piss of defiance. A piss that told us we were in for a long two weeks. A piss that stained our expensive sofa and made us wish we’d taken out insurance on it.

Usually when we get home our routine is this,

Make tea. Turn TV on. Eat tea. Cuddle.

Leo decided this wasn’t a routine he particularly liked and decided to mix it up a bit. Our new routine was to go like this,

Make tea. Turn TV on. Begin to eat tea. Defend tea from jumping dog. Shout at girlfriend. Shout at dog. Miss TV show. Eat cold tea. Sit at the other end of the couch from girlfriend. Give evils to dog.

After tea, it was time for a walk. In my head, I thought this would be idyllic. The weather was glorious and we’d chosen to go for an evening stroll in a local park that was covered in greenery and bright summer flowers. How could this be anything other than perfect? I’ll tell you how. Leo decided to take a shit. Now, it’s completely normal for a dog to take a shit, but what we as new dog-sitters had forgotten, was that it was our duty to bag the mentioned poo and bin accordingly. We didn’t have a bag. So as grown adults, what we decided to do was run. Yes, you heard me right. We ran. Two adults in their late 20’s were now sprinting in the summer sun away from a turd. Like two bandits in the Wild West running from the law we ran as fast as our legs could take us. We finished that walk/run with improved cardio but a desire to get home before we got arrested for letting our dog desecrate a local park.

After the fiasco of the dog walk, we continued to attempt to watch TV with very little success and then before we knew it, it was midnight. In my head, this would be the easiest and most poetic part of the day. In just a matter of moments, Leo would be silently sleeping beside the bed while I held my girlfriend in my arms and looked around my kingdom with complete satisfaction. However, he didn’t play along with my silly idea of how life should be. He instead began to jump onto the side of the bed, crying for any attention he could receive. He did this for 45 minutes straight. All the time, I kept making eyeballs at my girlfriend to ignore him, insisting he would eventually give up and retreat to his bed. He never did give up and now at 12:45AM my steely determination to be the alpha male was wavering. My girlfriend suggested we let him sleep with us. I refused. We can’t let a dog sleep with us. That’s giving him what he wants. I simply won’t allow it. Not in my house. Not in my bed. Never. No way Jose. Nope. Nah.

1:04AM. Leo is now wedged in between me and my girlfriend. His testicles are looking at me in the eye, his snoring is keeping me awake and his farts have overpowered my very sense of self.

The next day began with him taking a shit in the kitchen and the following 13 days followed suit of what I have detailed in these first 12 hours of having him. I just want you to know that giving him back to my sister was one of the happiest days of my life.

I think next time we’ll just ask if we can look after her goldfish.

Call Centre Blues.

I work in a call centre. If you don’t know what a call centre is, it’s basically a building where working class people go to hate themselves. It’s a cathedral of self-hate where one bows down at the god of bad decisions praying for mercy. It’s an arena of employment where in the first five minutes of a shift, you’re called a ‘useless twat’ by Janet from Glasgow because her anti-wrinkle cream hasn’t arrived in time. You bite your tongue due to the fact that you need food and shelter to sustain your own bleak existence, but your inner voice has just attacked Janet from Glasgow with such violence that if you said it out loudly you would surely be arrested. “WELL FUCK YOU JANET. I HOPE YOUR WRINKLED BODY IS FOUND IN A DITCH.” And all this before most people have had their morning orange juice.

A typical day sort of goes like this:

9:00 AM: Clock in.

9:01 AM – 4:59 PM: Regret life choices. Eat sad sandwich. Weep in bathroom.

5:00 PM: Clock out.

As you can imagine, I hate it and I’m trying to escape. Every day I wake up and in the optimism of those morning hours, I tell myself that this will be the day I finally set myself free of those call centre chains. I excitedly rush to my laptop to find what new adventure I can ride on this game we call capitalism. But then it strikes. That old familiar feeling of insecurity. The lack of self confidence that prevents me from actually applying for anything. I don’t know where it comes from. But it’s there. Just waiting for me to scroll down the list of opportunities that could grant me freedom.

I could literally see a job position that would look like this:

“Breathing: Looking for an experienced breather to simply breath all day.”

Suddenly I’m hovering above the role, my cursor waiting for me to make the next move, when I begin questioning my ability to breath.

“Is breathing one of my strong skills?”

“Do I need more experience breathing?”

“Perhaps I get some more breathing skills by volunteering at the weekends?!”

I then regress into this sorry excuse of man who finds himself making excuses why I don’t have the balls to apply for an entry level position and why working in a call centre isn’t quite that bad. Disguising my lack of confidence with a little moustache and pretending it’s just my ego not being content with being employed.

Perhaps working in a call centre isn’t all that bad. I mean, I have a roof over my head and I’m paid more than minimum wage, but on a deeper level, it’s unfulfilling, it’s monotonous. Humans are creative animals. We want to explore our minds. We want to share ideas. We don’t want to sit down and stare at a computer screen for eight hours repeating the same task over and over again. It’s unnatural and creates unhappiness. Just look at chimps in zoos. They lack so much stimulation that they throw their own shit at us. I don’t want to throw my shit at anyone.

Well, except maybe Janet from Glasgow.

FUCK YOU JANET FROM GLASGOW.

The Short Fellow – A Revolutionary in the Making.

Today I have been reading John Lee Anderson’s great biography of the Argentine revolutionary Che Guevara and as someone who is fascinated by both history and politics, it has me hooked. However, this isn’t a book review or a history lesson, it’s more a review of my grandiose sense of self, my idiotic ego that has me bizarrely comparing myself to Che Guevara.

You heard me right. Me. A man who is currently sat here in his underwear on a Wednesday afternoon, has been thumbing his way through this book and excitedly saying out loud, “Che was only in his late 20’s when he met Fidel? It’s still not too late. I too can be a leader of men!”

Me. A man who gets nervous when his girlfriend asks him to go to the Post Office to send a package. How am I meant to inspire a nation when I nearly vomit when asking an uninterested middle-aged woman to send something first class?

You see. I’m a political animal. Or I certainly like to see myself as one. I’m THAT guy who after having a couple of beers gets really serious and starts ranting about the inequalities in society. I’m transformed into a working class revolutionary who will die for the cause. But if the revolution came, if the working class finally rose up from their slumber, if a man burst into this room now and handed me a gun, I would shit on the floor. I would literally defecate in my revolutionary trousers.

In an instant I would look for reasons to get out of being on the front line.

“I can provide administration? How about I set up a Facebook page? EVERY GOOD REVOLUTION NEEDS A SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE!”

It’s not only Che I compare myself too, but Lennon, Gandhi, Rosa Parks… The list goes on. Being in my 20’s I still have that naïve attitude and self important belief that I will one day change the world. I have moments where in the midst of one of my drunken tirades at a social gathering, I honestly believe I am about to spark off a moment that will have major significant historical importance. It never does however, they usually just end with me standing alone in a kitchen being looked at strangely by a friend’s Labrador.

So comrades, I shall leave you now. I need to get dressed and retweet some social injustice on Twitter.

SOLIDARITY.

Amsterdam and That Time I Got High.

Recently I visited Amsterdam. It was the first time I had ever been and I was incredibly excited. I was excited for many reasons, but there was one that stood above the rest. I was finally going to try weed for the first time. My heroes in literature, in music, in comedy, they had all experienced it and spoke of its eye opening qualities. It was something I wanted to experience. This was my mission.

I always imagined my first time would be very romantic. I’d be in an intimate venue probably listening to jazz with people who wore quirky hats and said things like, “I’ve just got back from a really meaningful backpacking experience in Peru.” I would be taken to a place in my mind I’d never been and the whole experience would fill me with wisdom that I could pass on to future generations. It was going to be a pivotal moment in my ordinary life.

That didn’t happen.

What did happen was this. I entered a pub. The pub was the type of pub that would have scared the sober me. It was full of heavy metal types. Leather jackets everywhere. On the walls it was decorated with framed art that depicted the Devil riding motorbikes and putting his middle fingers up at anyone who paid him the slightest bit of attention. But I wasn’t sober. I was far from sober and I was determined that this was my moment.

As I made my way to the bar with my money in hand, panic began to set in. How do you even order weed? What words do you say and in what order? In my head I nervously practiced my lines.

“Can I have some weed please, sir?”

“One of your finest strains of marijuana, squire!”

“One weed for me. Keep the change!”

I was out of my depth and was going to be laughed at.

I waited patiently in the queue. Not knowing what was about to come out of my stupid mouth, when out of nowhere, a hand landed on my shoulder. It was a man I had never met before and he was speaking in a language my drunk mind couldn’t pin down to anywhere on earth. He seemed happy, patting me on my head a few times and laughing. He probably sensed that I didn’t belong there. After a few moments of nodding back awkwardly he offered me something – incredibly it was weed! This god-like man had saved my life. I took it from his hand and inhaled before I had the chance to chicken out. I did this a few times. Holding back my coughs and trying to look as cool as I possibly could in front of this friendly foreign man.

Standing there, I waited. I didn’t know what I was waiting for, but regardless I waited. Nothing was happening. I continued to wait. Where was this inner peace? Where was this enlightenment? I waited some more, but to no avail. This great fountain of knowledge and wisdom and peace that I expected to rain upon me was nowhere to be seen. Instead I just felt nervous. What if I had done it wrong? What if I pass out? Why am I sweating?!

I began to breath heavily. I was like Pablo Escobar with anxiety issues.

“HOW WILL I KNOW WHEN I’M HIGH?!” I screamed directly into his face.

He looked back at me with the expression that only two people who don’t share the same language can give each other. A smile, but a smile with eyes that radiated confusion. I saw this as my cue to leave him.

Tentatively, I made my way out of that pub and into the Amsterdam night. My first experience with weed was over. I had completed my mission. Was it the personal transforming experience I’d hoped it would be? No. Did I feel like I was about to vomit as a mixture of nerves, alcohol and weed mixed around my tired body? Yes.

There are no lessons to learn from this. Other than perhaps, if you’re looking for a transcending experience, it’s probably best not to do it in the early hours of the morning on your own in a rock bar in Amsterdam