I Booked A Week Off Work To Do DIY. I Wish I Had Gone To Work Instead.

We all have our own indicators of ‘manliness’. Our own ‘things’ that define what makes a man. For some, it’s how many pints someone can sink in a single session, for others it’s how long an individual can ignore a lump before seeking medical advice. For me, though, it’s DIY.

Do you ever remember being a child and watching your Dad do DIY? You looked at him in utter admiration. “That’s what a real man is” you thought to yourself while he hammered a nail into something with no t-shirt on and a can of Carling in his hand.

Well thank fuck I currently have no children to watch me do DIY because this week I essentially cried in different parts of my kitchen while balancing on a step ladder.

You see, me and my girlfriend recently made our first ‘adult’ purchase when we designed and bought a brand new shiny kitchen. Now, I say ‘we’, but during our consultations I just sat quietly out the way while the proper grown ups did the talking. I was essentially a nodding dog with a credit card. A man just answering questions about types of sinks in a way that screamed, “WHAT DO I HAVE TO SAY TO BE ALLOWED TO GO HOME?!”

It’s not that I don’t care what my kitchen looks like, but for someone whose life philosophy revolves around the fact that we’re hurtling towards death and none of this has any meaning, it’s really hard to get passionate about marble kitchen counters.

The bad news was that there was some ‘prep’ work that needed doing. Nothing major. Just peeling all the wallpaper from the kitchen walls. A job that my Dad could have done in an afternoon.

When we got home I did the stance my Dad did, and any other labourer does when evaluating a job – hands on hips and blowing out cheeks like deep in thought.

“A couple of weekends that”, I said like a man with absolutely no experience in any manual labour whatsoever.

That was six weeks ago and a week before it needed to be done, it was still untouched, apart from a few ‘testing’ scratches I had done with a wall scraper about 30 days before. Consequently, I was forced to book a whole week off from work to get it ready.

The next seven days were hell. I spent hours swearing at walls and ringing my girlfriend telling her I couldn’t go on. A characteristically suitable response for me whenever something doesn’t go to plan.

A problem I have, is that I look like I might know what I’m doing. I look like a man. I have a significant beard which I pride myself on. But a beard used to mean something. It showed that you could put a shelf up or pleasure a woman. Not my beard. My beard says, “Can I have almond milk in that tea please mate?”

As well as peeling the wallpaper from the kitchen walls, we also had to empty the cellar of damp cardboard boxes that we had lazily thrown down there over a period of two years.

Simple job? You’d think so. But after accidentally stumbling over an article that revealed to me the dangers of damp, I flat out refused to go down there without a form of protection.

What happened next was that I found myself walking back and forth to the street bins with a COVID mask and pink rubber gloves. It was only thirty minutes into this that I realised how strange it looked seeing a man repeatedly coming out of his cellar with a mask on and pink rubber gloves up to his elbows. My neighbours now think I’m either a murderer or a sexual deviant.

Also, I must point out that I keep referring to my Dad in the past tense. He’s not dead. He lives around the corner.

And I think I’ll give him a shout next time I need some work doing.

I Quit My Gym Membership This Week. But I Still Want To Look Like The Rock.

I quit my gym membership this week. It wasn’t one of those significant moments that filled me with a sense of relief. I didn’t celebrate it. In fact, I quite like the gym. There are elements of it that I love. But, for me, the negative elements far outweigh the positive ones. Mostly, it’s an environment that I always feel intimated by. I mean, I even find the vending machines too agressive. Every protein shake or energy bar they sell is too full of unnecessary alpha male energy.

You walk up to the machine and are hit in the face with an array of unnecessarily intense and hyper masculine products like,’THE CARB KILLER!’ or ‘THE PROTEIN GRENADE!’ I wish they could just calm it down. I’d happily give them all of my money if they could create a more realistic post-workout drink called the, ‘Just Here To Do 5 Minutes On The Treadmill So I Don’t Develop Tits And Die Of A Heart Attack When I’m 40 Shake.’

Now generally, I’m someone who avoids advertising techniques that try and make you feel like shit so that then they can miracoulsly provide you with the product that makes you feel better again. But fitness is the one chink in my armour. I live in world where I constantly battle between exercising solely for health and trying to look like ‘The Rock.’

Just typing that sound ridiculous. There are no amount of push ups that will make a 5 foot pasty man with Irish ancestry and a lazy eye look like a 6 foot mammoth of a man with unlimited financial resources.

I know this But yet, with all of my heart, I still try to achieve it.

I’ve actually been quite consistent with my workouts for a couple of months now and I genuinely feel proud of myself. We’ve recently set up a makeshift home gym in our house. It’s like a prison set up, but instead of sharing it with a man who wants to physically dominate me in the showers, I share it with a girlfriend who unfortunately doesn’t want to physically dominate me in the showers.

I spend about 4 or 5 hours a week in there. Nothing crazy. A typical routine consists of push ups, pull ups, squats and some weights. And at the end of every session, I chug down a vegan protein shake and convince myself I’m one step closer to being a Greek God.

Very often I’ll stride topless into my living room and tense my muscles at my startled girlfriend. It doesn’t matter if she’s busy, I’ll insist that she stops whatever she’s doing and assess my biceps for growth.

It’s very showing that she often looks straight through me and continues to watch ‘Antiques Roadshow.’

Apparently, I can’t even compete with a vase some dead bloke passed on to his deluded middle aged daughter.

During these phases, I become obsessed. I have to consciously fight off the urge to compare myself to others. And by others, I mean celebrities.

My Google search history looks a lot like this.

What workout will make me look like Zac Efron?
Brad Pitt. Fight Club. Abs.
Does pain from a mole suggest that it’s NOT cancerous?

The guys at Google should be allowed to contact you directly after a certain number of searches on the same subject and ban you from ever asking it again.

At this stage, Zac Efron’s diet plan would be my specialist subject on ‘Mastermind.’

When I’m not doing that, I go to the other extreme. This morning I spent 35 minutes researching on the benefits of sea moss. Fucking sea moss. I followed this with articles on meditation and how not to turn into an unbearable prick.

Ultimately, I suppose, everything is about balance.

This could be the perfect opportunity to discuss philosophy or Buddhism or make a deep connection with whoever reads this. Delve deeper into the idea of living in the moment and not attaching results to actions.

However, it’s been 4 hours since I did some squats and I haven’t got time for that nonsense.

Go find your own connections.

Questioning Who I Am On The Toilet.

I have some rules in life that I stick to at all costs. They’re hardwired into me at a really deep level, and mostly, I don’t even question them any more. They just are. Some of these are universal. Things that we all do, like offering seats to pregnant women on public transport or refusing to ever litter. Others are more personal. Things that I have chosen to do. Little golden rules that I cherish and live my life by.

This week, however, I had what I like to call a, ‘you’re a fucking moron, Paul’ moment when I actually questioned one of these beliefs.

And I did this on the toilet in work.

You see, since I entered employment I’ve had a steadfast belief in only going to the toilet for a ‘number 2’ when I’m not on one of my allocated breaks. That way, I’ve framed it in my mind that I’m sticking a middle finger up at the suits while simultaneously being paid to shite.

I’ve done this for almost a decade now and I again found myself in this predicament a few days ago.

I was on my break and desperate to go. I can’t exaggerate how much I needed the toilet. I was one more bite of my sandwich away from being in my local newspaper as the man who shit himself in public. But did I do the responsible thing and go as necessary? No, I waited 15 minutes, clocked back in and then sprinted back to the toilet like the fucking winner I am.

Now for the first 3 minutes I was as happy as larry. Basking in the fact that I was getting paid to go the toilet. Then, out of nowhere, it dawned upon me how utterly ridiculous this was. What a sad little man. Squatting away in a dimly lit cubicle and being proud as if I was actually achieving something.

I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to the man in the cubicle next to me who must have heard me repeatedly whispering, “What the fuck have you become?”

The walk back to my desk was one of the saddest moments of my life.

Firstly, let’s talk about the absolute lack of ambition. I remember being a 12 year old in my careers advice meeting saying that I wanted to be a lawyer. I wanted to change the world. Fast forward 15 years and I’m taking pride in squeezing a shit out on in a pathetic fuck you to capitalism. It’s not revolutionary behavior. Imagine if instead of overthrowing the American backed government of Cuba, Fidel just took an unfathomable amount of prune juice and curled one out.

A man in his thirties should not be using bodily fluids as a form of protest unless he finds himself in a prisoner of war camp without any other viable means of expressiom.

Toddlers use faeces as a way of protest, not admin staff.

Secondly, when you do the maths, it’s not even impressive. It’s not ‘Oceans Eleven’. At work, I earn just under £10 an hour and if it takes me about 5 minutes to do ‘my business’, I’m earning less than £1 with this embarrassing tactic.

In the past I’ve actually gone up to colleagues and revealed my secret as if I’ve discovered the Holy Grail.

In any other context me saddling up to someone I barely know and proudly saying, “I know a way I can get you up to 80 pence to deficate” would be seen as madness. I’d be carted away like the lunatic I clearly am.

But no, polite society means people have to humour me instead of rightly telling me that I’m a fucking idiot.

So from now on, I’ve decided I’m going to function like an actual adult human and give up on my money for going to the toilet scheme.

That is unless someone wants to offer me serious money.

I can, and will, get a webcam and PayPal set up in seconds.

This Week I Turned 31 And Already Can’t Wait To Be Older.

It was my birthday this week and I turned the grand old age of 31.

A fact that I’m completely OK with.

However, I have noticed a strange pattern in the last couple of years whenever my birthday has rolled around. In my late teens and mid twenties, I’d get a simple birthday wish like, “Happy Birthday Paul. Have a good one!” Or at worst, a weird too-specific jokey comment from Steve from accounts, “Don’t get too drunk and end up in the local newspaper and then spend the next 6 months living in a bed sit while fighting for access to your kids!”

OK Steve. Thanks Steve. Please stop crying Steve.

Now however, I get a look. A widening of the eyes followed by a tongue in cheek comment about the fact that I’m ‘getting on.’ A birthday wish wrapped up in words that essentially are telling me that my best years are behind me.

Two things:

Firstly, 31 isn’t old. I could literally drink beer, play PlayStation and nap for the next decade and still have half my life left. A plan that sounds very appealing.

Secondly, anyone who knows me knows I’m just hitting my prime.

This wasn’t a vehicle built for youth – it was a vehicle built for Worthers Originals and erectile dysfunction.

You see, I’ve always thought that youth was overrated. Or certainly the things you’re meant to enjoy as a young person. I mean, I took part in the drinking and the dancing that I was conditioned to enjoy, but I never felt comfortable. It was never me.

My experience of clubbing was completely different to most people. The people who genuinely enjoyed this type of thing would be lost in the moment in the middle of the dancefloor surrounded by people who similarly would rather be there than anywhere else. Me and my friends were there out of expectation. Our nights consisted of us just looking awkward in polo shirts before one of us was brave enough to say those magic words, “Want me to phone a taxi?”

You have to remember, when I was going out on a regular basis, I was 5’4, and had braces. I was still riding the wave of winning the coveted Brookfield High School GCSE History award. These people wanted to dance off their tits and take drugs. They were certainly not impressed by my knowledge of the Treaty of Versailles. And boy did I try.

In fact, me and my friends were so we largely unimpressed by all of this that we avoided the bright lights of town and the exuberance of youth by going to our local ‘old mans pub.’ Nothing weird about that you might say? Well OK, brace yourself for my next sentence. As a 19 year old, me and my friends sat religiously for about 4 years with a group of men in their seventies while they played songs with a spoon and an ash tray. While my peers were out living life, I was sat next to a man who stunk of urine and regret while he played Buddy Holly tracks with cutlery. And yes, I am fully aware how tragic this sounds.

In a totally irrelevant and completely unrelated matter, you’ll be surprised to hear that I lost my virginity quite late.

One of our first ‘lads holiday’ was a disaster as well. It was our second night in Magaluf and we had decided to go to a foam party at the world famous BCM nightclub. It was packed with young muscly types in vests. I on the other hand weighed about 7 stone and hadn’t yet been introduced to contact lenses. This became quite the issue when I began to ‘dance’ and make my way to the foam covered dance floor. You see I’d never been to a foam party before and didn’t realise that my glasses would steam up. And steam up they did.

It was half way through some track by Pitbull that I realised I was in trouble. My vision was gone and instead of being in the moment and dancing with other young people, I suddenly found myself grabbing wildly at air while screaming, “I need help! Will someone help me?!”

In classic fashion I began to panic and instead of making my way off the dance floor, I blindly walked towards where the foam was emptying. And it emptied right into my face. I was now blind and struggling to breath. This was how I was going to die. Panting uncontrollably to Pitbull.

I don’t know how I managed to get out of that predicament but when my friends found me I had lost a flip flop and my glasses were bent. What a night.

Nowadays my girlfriend will often ask me what I want to do at the weekend and I’m genuinely surprised that she hasn’t called anyone out to see if I’m possessed by a 54 year old librarian named Derek. I’m currently on a three year streak of answering, “I don’t know. Watch a documentary, read a couple of chapters and then fall asleep in front of the telly?”

I’m close to starting a GoFundMe page to raise funds so she can start a new life.

One of my favourite things to do as a 31 year old man is to potter. I love the days where I just aimlessly wander around the house like a man in control of his nothingness.

I would retire tomorrow if I could.

Recently, I’ve even found myself getting increasingly jealous at pensioners who spend their days gardening and attending book clubs. In fact, I’m so jealous, I’ve stopped giving up my seat to them on public transport. Norma can fuck off if she can’t stand for 20 minutes on her way to do WHATEVER SHE WANTS TO DO.

I mean the only downside to getting older is the fact that I’m edging closer on a daily basis to the death of my parents. But I’d rather be an elderly orphan playing bowls than downing shots at a rave with my whole life ahead of me.

On that upbeat note – I’ll see you at 32.

Knock Knock? Who’s There? Oh Only An Alpha Male Who Does Alpha Male Shit.

I recently became a man. And by ‘become a man’, I don’t mean that I lost my virginity. No, that happened MONTHS ago. I did, however, do something much more impressive than that – I knocked at my next door neighbour’s house and asked them to turn down their music.

It all started about three weeks ago when out of nowhere a blast of noise suddenly made its way into our living room and drowned out the audio to ‘George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces.’ There are very few things in life that make me lose my temper, but when I struggle to hear the reasons why a middle aged man from Skegness would want to sell his house and live in a converted van, it’s safe to say that I lose my shit. And please, when I say a ‘blast of noise’, I can’t stress how loud it was. It was ridiculous. We were essentially now at a party we had not been invited to or had the intention of being at. We were hostages to what appeared to be eastern European dance music. A genre that doesn’t speak to me.

The next three hours were hell. If any innocent by passer was to walk past our two houses they would hear a mix of Lithuanian dubstep and a man at the end of his tether screaming sanctimonious sentences like, “It’s not the noise I’m most offended by, it’s the SELFISHNESS!” Now despite the obvious internal breakdown that was happening in our sacred space, we decided not to knock, because…

“This is the first time it has happened and it probably won’t happen again…..”

Oh how we now laugh at our young naïve selves.

A mere two days later at ‘Rock and Roll Mansions’, myself and my girlfriend were watching a documentary titled, ’10 Reasons Why The Titanic Sank’ when again the music struck. This time, if anything, it was louder. Instantly, I jumped off the sofa and in as much as an alpha male in Marvel pyjama bottoms and an oversized hoody bought by his mother in a charity shop can look like an alpha male, I screamed, “That’s it, I’m knocking!” My girlfriend, reeling from this clearly out of character move by me, responded simply and tragically with two words, “What? You?” I could have easily been offended by this obvious insult at my masculinity, but she was right. As a child of divorce I do my utmost to avoid confrontation. What may appear to outsiders as cowardice is really a 10 year old boy trapped in a 30 year old man screaming, “STOP SHOUTING AT MUMMY!”

Anyway, after momentarily debating wheter I should send my girlfriend around, I found myself bravely walking up their path and knocking on their door like a proper adult male should. A few moments after my attempt at an intimidating knock a small boy answered. I took a deep breath and with my deepest voice asked if I could possibly speak to his parents? He just looked through me. Not a single word left his mouth. In fairness, he was probably wondering why someone who was only slightly taller than him and in superhero pyjamas had been sent around by his parents to do an adult task.

After a few moments of awkward contemplation I saw a figure approaching from behind him. Walking towards me was a man who looked like he could play a villain in a James Bond film. He was the type of guy who wears vests just so he can show off his tattoos – tattoos he probably gets to commemorate every neighbour he murders for asking him to turn down his music. Now I’d love to say that I was just as confident talking to this human as I was mere seconds before when I was confronting a child. But I wasn’t. All of a sudden my voice broke and what should have been an assertive statement sounded like every awkward encounter a teenage boy has when speaking to his friend’s parents.

“If you, will you, the music. I mean, it’s great, but loud. I just, you know, music and that.”

Pathetic. I had gone to bits and turned into a blabbering wreck. The obvious neighbour murdering man looked back at me and in his stereotypical Eastern European accent replied, “Yes. Will do. Sorry mate.” The bastard. How dare he politely converse with me and sincerely apologise?! I wanted my moment and he had stolen it from me. Now I had to go back and pretend to my girlfriend that I’d had to threaten him and throw a punch or two. Not only was this man incredibly selfish with his music choices but he had turned me into a liar. Unforgivable.

Moments later I was back on my sofa and balls deep into that documentary about The Titanic. I had done it. I felt a wave of adrenaline wash over me. This was my equivalent to jumping out of a plane while simultaneously snorting cocaine and roaring, “I’M NEVER GOING TO DIE BABYYYY!”

I mean, despite this, I do have to admit that since then, the music has returned and I’ve now ran out of excuses not to knock again. But I will always have that night and if it does get any worse I can always order a converted van off that bloke from Skegness.





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.