Ruining Easter With My Hayfever. And Diarrhea.

The first glorious days of sunshine arrived this week and unsurprisingly our local park was filled with topless, out of shape, pale middle aged men and screaming teenagers with cans of cheap cider in ‘Aldi’ plastic bags. I really think that the rest of the world has a much more elevated opinion of the UK than it deserves. Television shows like ‘Downton Abbey’ have sold the idea that our shores are filled with Mr Darcy types in fancy hats, but a quick visit to my local high street on a sunny afternoon would burst that balloon for any tourist. I mean, quite why there would be tourists on County Road when Chernobyl is now a viable holiday destination is beyond me. But you get my drift.

And please, I’m not being disparaging. I’d love to be in the middle of it all with my best vest on and the rays making my skin a slightly darker shade of pale. However, a quick 20 minute walk on Wednesday with my dog scuppered any hope of enjoying the sun. As soon as I returned home, my eyes began to itch and I quickly realised that I was in the throws of a severe bout of hayfever.

Brilliant.

I never suffered from hayfever or sinus issues for about the first twenty five years of my life and then out of nowhere it attached its grubby little pollenated hands on me without warning. It is worth noting that I lived near an industrial plant of some sort for about a decade and there was talk of residents who lived close enough to the plant being affected by respiratory issues. The company were actually taken to court but the case fell through because too many people were trying to jump on the bandwagon and claim that they too had been an unfortunate victim of circumstance. As usual, I kept my integrity and decided not to claim because other than my sinus issues and the growth of a third testicle, I got off pretty issue free.

There was also a form I was required to fill in and who could be fucked with that?

As a result, while the rest of the country has been bathing in the sun, I’ve ruined Easter for me and my girlfriend by being locked away in our bedroom like some sort of sneezing prisoner on house arrest. And when I say, ‘locked away’, I mean I have literally been made immobile by it. My eyes have been streaming for what now seems an eternity and I have felt as about drowsy as is humanly possible. It’s been horrendous.

In other news, today I have also awoken with a stomach churning case of the shits. Full blown diarrhea.

What a perfect bank holiday combination.

I did force myself to go on a walk this morning but insisted we go somewhere with easy access to a wooded area. I don’t know if you can officially count it as a, ‘relaxing Easter Monday holiday walk’, if you’re continuously looking for clearings to take an emergency dump on a moments notice.

All in all, my girlfriend has taken the whole, ‘not being able to do anything because I’m being a massive bitch’ quite well. However, it is difficult to have a debate with a man who has only sporadically left his bedroom in his underwear muttering sentences about his dislike of tree pollen. So time will tell with that one.

As I type this, there’s about seven hours left of the Easter holidays before we go back to the unrelenting grind of capitalism and my hayfever symptoms have decreased significantly. I just have to try and not shit myself between now and bed time.

HAPPY EASTER AND GOODNIGHT.

I Finally Need A Haircut. Does Anyone Know Where I Can Get An Underground Illicit Appointment?

I’ve always been told from a really young age that I’m losing my hair. That I’m balding. But if the truth be told, I’ve always had the same depressing hairline. It’s not receding. It’s not balding. It’s just thin and wispy. And it’s always been this way. I was the only five year old in the school sandpit with the same hairdo as a forty five year old accountant whose wife was cheating on him.

If my hair style had a name it would be Keith. Or Barry.

Up until now, the most depressing part of COVID and lockdown for me was the fact that I still hadn’t got to the stage where I needed my hair cutting. Despite rarely visiting the barbers in the last twelve months, it had barely grown. It’s simply spent most of it’s time just looking down on me from high and doing absolutely nothing but mock my awful genetics.

A few weeks back I was cycling to work and I could feel what I thought was the wind blowing in my hair. I had images of ‘Captain America’ on his motorbike. I was the height of cool. That was until I got into the changing rooms and discovered that I had one hair out of place. One pathetic strand of hair had been blowing in the wind. I was less ‘Captain America’ and more ‘Captain Soviet Union As It Was In Its Last Days.’

I really wish I had long flowing hair. I really do. I remember when I was eighteen and tried to grow it. I thought I’d end up looking like one of the cool indie musicians of the time. Perhaps an Alex Turner or a Miles Kane type? But that didn’t happen. What happened was that the sides and back grew outwards and the top refused to move. The last thing I needed as an eighteen year old with braces, glasses and a lack of height, was a fucking mullet. But there I was in 2008 looking like Billie Ray Cyrus.

I spent most of my teenage years looking at what best could be described as ‘awkward’, but this was a phase where I regularly looked like a ‘Guess Who’ character. A ‘Guess Who’ character who could easily be discovered with one simple question about who was most likely to hold on to their virginity for the foreseeable future.

But the time has finally arrived – I officially need a haircut. I’m now at that awkward stage where I have hair protruding out of the sides of my glasses and I’m the proud owner of one of those little pony tails that are about half an inch long. The only issue is that barbers are currently forbidden to open. I have to go rogue if I want this pony tail dead.

I found myself in a similar predicament earlier in the lockdown when I got to the point where I needed my beard trimming. I was more bearded than I had ever been before. I was at peak alpha male. But my natural laziness set in and after a couple of days of using beard oil and wax, I decided it wasn’t worth the hassle and that it had to go. The only issue at this stage however, was that my normal barbers were not legally allowed to do beards. I was forced to go underground.

After a few days of research (One Google search) I found myself in a chair and moments away from being presentable again. I closed my eyes and enjoyed the process. And I say, ‘enjoyed,’ but what basically preceded to happen, was that my life was ruined. I walked in with the most manliness facial hair I had ever grown and walked out looking like Ali G.

Please see the evidence below.

You can see the pain in my eyes.

And despite being absolutely devastated, I still lived up to the British stereotype of being too polite to say anything and gave the man a healthy tip. That man is still out there believing he gave me the greatest beard trim of my life. Little does he know that as soon as I was out of sight I found myself weeping outside a KFC window.

If this has taught me anything, it has taught me to have patience and wait until my usual place reopens. However, if anyone does know of anyone with a dodgy moral compass and an NVQ in barbering, please send them my way.

My Dog Had A Birthday This Week. Because That’s A Thing.

It was my dog’s birthday this week. A sentence, and concept, that only exists in places where all the essential needs of a population are pretty much covered. It is very much an idea that lives in a world where people celebrate uninspiring holidays such as ‘International Lefthanders Day’ or get furiously upset at the final episodes of TV shows.

These are the things that only people who don’t have to worry about survival contemplate. 

I mean, I haven’t done the research, but I would guess that there are exactly ZERO people running around places where they are desperate for clean drinking water that are worried about their sausage dogs birthday.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my dog. I love animals. I’m an actual vegan. But the very idea of a dog’s birthday is insane to me. It’s just another way that businesses have found to exploit love, and now, in the same way that I have to panic buy a gift for my girlfriend for Valentines day, I’m now expected to schedule in yet another bill to show my toy poodle that I love her.

For this reason, you can imagine my response this week when my girlfriend reminded me that it was our dog’s birthday and that we should spoil her.

Brilliant.

The day before the ‘big day’ arrived my girlfriend visited some specialist shop that sold items to pathetic people like us. She promptly called me, detailing all the goods on offer, with an excitement in her voice that I desperately tried not to extinguish.

And by, ‘desperately’, I mean, ‘for about 3 seconds.’

Girlfriend: We could get her a new dog toy?

Me: We could.

Girlfriend: They have DOG PROSECCO!

Me: Oh right.

Girlfriend: THERE’S AN ACTUAL DOG SHIRT THAT SAYS, ‘BIRTHDAY GIRL’ ON IT!

Me: How about you find a shirt with the words, ‘Remember when people used to have real jobs that met a need and capitalism wasn’t spewing out pointless merchandise for a vapid society that knows it’s days are numbered?’

At this point the phone went down and she bought a cupcake for £2.99. A compromise I was quite happy with.

I mean, fucking dog prosecco!? Has there ever been a more apt product for our times? A product that simultaneously shows how successful and utterly failing our society has become. The fact we design a product like this shows that we have elevated ourselves to a point where a large section of society live in relative comfort and no longer have to worry about the basics. But equally, there are actual human beings out there so lonely and devoid of human connection that they’re at a point where they want to share a pretend alcoholic drink with a member of another species.

On the morning of her birthday, before my girlfriend left for work, she instructed me to get up and wish her a happy birthday. Now, as a rational human being with no desire to do this, I flat out refused and stated that I would play no part in this pointless charade. There is no way that I would participate in what is essentially another way of human beings desperately trying to feel alive. Another way of giving this revolving sphere we call Earth meaning.

Fast forward 30 minutes and I found myself sat in front of my canine giving the most half hearted rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ out of some bizarre sense of duty. I then spent the rest of the day putting the word ‘birthday’ in front of all mundane daily tasks like the spineless moron I am. We went on a great ‘birthday walk’, enjoyed ‘birthday breakfast’ and then shared a relaxing afternoon on the couch where we had a ‘birthday cry at how quickly I sell out my beliefs for an easy life.’

I also have a pet tortoise who turns two in August. That gives me just five months to find the perfect gift for an animal that prefers leafy salads to me.

Wish me luck.

I’m Just A Man Innocently Shopping For Himself In The Children’s Department.

Being short struck again this week.

I needed new trousers and after unsuccessfully buying a couple of pairs that were supposed to fit me, I was forced to do what I always end up doing – shopping in the children’s section.

I wish I could just walk into a proper shop for proper adults and walk out with something I know will fit me, but that rarely happens. What happens is that I spend most of my afternoon trying on clothes I like and getting increasingly annoyed at my limbs.

In fact, you know Tom Hanks at the end of the film ‘BIG’ when he turns back into a kid and finds himself wearing that really ill sized fitting suit? That’s me whenever I try on ANY adult clothes. I’m just stood in a changing room with the sleeves of an oversized jumper dangling near my knees and wishing I hadn’t left the house.

So this week, I did what I had to do and bought two new pairs of junior sized trousers.

If the police ever raid my house, they’re going to find a wardrobe full of clothes that are suitable for 12 year old boys. One day I’m inadvertently going to end up in a Netflix documentary.

And as a man who has both glasses and an unkempt beard, this is a situation I don’t want to find myself in. Routinely, I leave the house with the aim of purchasing new clothes and in my head I end up on the verge of going on some sort of register.

All jokes aside, that’s the part I hate the most. As a man who often shops on his own, I find myself flicking through t-shirts that are designed for humans 15 years younger than me and becoming ridiculously self-conscious of the fact that I’m a single bearded man in a place I so obviously don’t belong. I’m close to actually stealing a child to come shopping with me so people don’t actually think I’m a danger to children.

Other people think it must be great buying children’s clothes because it is cheaper. And yes, from time to time you can find a decent deal. But I’d rather spend the extra £10 to not have to scroll past thousands of Spiderman and SpongeBob Squarepants items, just to find a T-shirt that is suitable for an informal get together with other adults.

The algorithms that populate suggested items should be offering me gifts for my girlfriend or beard oil or something remotely adult appropriate. Not light up velcro trainers or the latest Fortnite backpack.

I’m also very often on the other end of some hilarious zingers. The most common one, by quite some distance, is when people inform me that there’s a sale on in Mothercare. IT’S BECAUSE THEY MAKE CLOTHES FOR BABIES AND I AM SMALL.

You’d never find people doing that to say, someone who is overweight. Nobody in their right mind would go up to someone overweight and be like, “You know where they do clothes that fit you? In another dimension you fat piece of shit.”

My loved ones are just as guilty. My mother still buys me clothes and says, “You’ll grow into it.” She has literally known me all of my life. How has she not noticed that I stopped growing at 14? I’m now 31. If anything, I’ll soon be shrinking.

And when I do incredibly find an item of clothing that fits, I usually have to get my mother to ‘take it up.’ There has been many occasion when I have had to visit my Mum to get newly bought trousers tailored. And this shouldn’t need saying, but I can confirm, there are very few things I’d rather be doing less, than making small talk about the weather while my mother has her head at crotch level.

But I have my trousers now and as a man who has next to no interest in fashion, they should do me for a while. Hopefully by the time I need some new ones, I’ll be able to avoid all unnecessary inconvenience and just have my nephews hand me downs.

My Comic Book Obsession Has Begun Again And I Need To Publicly Apologise To My Girlfriend.

I love comics. I always have done. One of my earliest memories is awakening to the birds singing and the sun shining and grabbing my bicycle to cycle as fast as I could to the local newsagents to grab the latest copy of ‘The Beano.’

Now before we go any further, I know it’s a shock to all that read this, that a man who lived in his Mother’s box room until he was 27 and also collects commemorative 50 pence coins is into comics, but we must accept this and move on.

I also must note that although I paint my childhood to be something out of an Enid Blyton novel, I did grow up on a council estate. Yes, there was sunshine and cycling, but there was also gang violence and fingering.

I genuinely remember being a small child and desperately wanting to be Spiderman. Concerningly, I’m from that generation where parents dangled the, “You can truly be anything you want to be” carrot in our faces. Nobody told me that this was a completely unrealistic expectation. Up until I was about 10, I honestly thought it was something I could achieve. I thought when I was an adult, I would be a masked vigilante fighting crime on the mean streets of Liverpool. I’m now 31 working in administration. The only thing I fight now is regret and the urge not to cry until the sun goes down.

Anyway, I’m addicted again. It’s all I’m currently talking about. It’s all I’m thinking about. I have this type of personality where I get addicted to things incredibly easily. I took up cycling about six months ago and within weeks I was in the early stages of planning a charity cycle from Land’s End to John o’Groats. It’s a good job that I get addicted to things that are ridiculously vanilla or in six months time you might have got a light hearted blog full of witticisms on my weekend lost to heroin.

I do have to admit though that my current obsession is verging on outright rudeness. I can confidently estimate that about 70% of conversations that my girlfriend has started recently, has been filtered through my brain and turned back to comic book talk. My girlfriend is days away from saying, “Paul, we need to talk…” and I’d instantly reply with, “ABOUT HOW THERE’S AN ORIGINAL FIRST PRINTING OF DC’S BLACK LIGHTNING ISSUE 1 ON EBAY?”

She’s at a stage now where I need her to dress like Wolverine for me to pay her any attention.

A few days ago, I even downloaded an app and created three short comic strips. Three comic strips that were welcomed with an all too recognisable eye roll from my girlfriend.

They can hopefully be viewed beneath. Please read and shower me with compliments.

So to my girlfriend when she reads this, I apologise and promise to enter our relationship again in the coming days. To anyone else, please keep an eye out for my new Instagram page for my comics that will last about another two weeks before I lose interest.

31 years old nerds assemble!

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 expression.

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.