My Girlfriend Doesn’t Think I’m Spontaneous Enough. This Week Was Her Lucky Week.

My girlfriend often accuses me of not being spontaneous enough. Her idea of men absolutely moulded by a lifetime of watching Hollywood films in which the charming lead actor drops everything on a whim and flies his love interest off to Paris for the weekend.

I mean, I could do that. I could pick her up in a taxi straight from work on a Friday evening and be in France before sundown. I could be walking her down the Champs-Élysées with the evening breeze dancing in the air. I could treat her to the finest of breakfasts in some hip pretentious Paris cafe that has a bicycle on the wall passing off as art. Basically, I could whisk her off her feet and have the most magical forty eight hours she could ever wish for. It would be perfect. What wouldn’t be perfect, however, would be the following two weeks in which we fall behind on our mortgage and end up on the streets having to do unspeakable things to the genitals of strangers in order to get enough food not to starve to death. And all of this because she wanted to post a photo of herself on Instagram eating a croissant next to the fucking Eiffel Tower.

The point is, when you’re working class and money isn’t an unlimited resource, big financial gestures have to be planned to a T. I mean, there is also the absolute legitimate argument that I could save up and not have to make ourselves homeless in order to achieve this. However, that is an argument I don’t have the energy nor desire to entertain.

So last Wednesday, I took action. I decided I would shock her to her very core and suggest a romantic day out. I leant over and whispered into her ear the one sentence that all women want to hear, “Do you fancy going the car boot this Sunday?” A sentence only slightly more romantic than, “I’ve got us two tickets to the lawnmower museum” and “Fancy checking out this rash for me?”

Surprisingly, however, she was up for it. Granted, I don’t think it has changed her opinion of me as an unromantic bone idle layabout, but the mere suggestion of doing anything was enough to raise a look in her eyes that helped to remind her why she’s still bothering to build a life with me.

It must be noted that there was some method to my madness. You see, recently we have become obsessed with these auction/garage sale TV shows where people purchase items for a couple of quid and then sell them on for quadruple what they originally bought them for. Me and my girlfriend have this problem where once we both get an idea into our heads, we run away with ourselves and temporarily live in a fictionalised world in which life is brilliant. Often we get excited that we might be able to quit our jobs and finally establish control over our own lives. And as usual, in the days leading up to the car boot, this is exactly what we did. Our expectations blown completely out of proportion.

“I’m going to find a bag of rare action figures from the 1970’s! I don’t even mind if I only make a couple of hundred pound profit!” I loudly exclaimed like the village idiot I am.

We excitedly arrived at about 8am. Now, I don’t know what we were expecting exactly, but what we found wasn’t this bustling environment that was dripping with hidden treasure that would financially transform our lives. It was, if anything, quite aggressive. At one point, I honestly thought a pensioner was going to physically lash out at a seller for daring to sell a shitty toy campervan for a tenner. It was carnage. It was so far removed from the jolly TV shows where like minded people trade items for a bit of fun. I’ve watched countless episodes of ‘Bargain Hunt’, but I’m yet to see the episode where someone is called a cunt for refusing to take 50p for the 2004 film ‘Million Dollar Baby.”

My foray into flipping cheap shite landed me a ‘Only Fools and Horses’ box set and a special edition guide to ‘The Simpsons’. My girlfriend left empty handed and spent the rest of the day warning me to make sure I actually tried to sell them and not to leave them gathering dust in the spare room.

I genuinely believe that there is money to be made from the few quid I spent and I do have every intention of trying to sell them on. However, if I never get around to it, I might have to treat her to a romantic getaway to the local rubbish tip.

What a lucky woman.

Fantasy Football Is Pointless. So Why Am I Allowing It To Send Me To An Early Grave?

This week, the fantasy football community have reached our penultimate week of gameplay. Now for those of you who don’t know what fantasy football is, it’s basically a game in which you pick eleven real life footballers at the start of the season and then spend the next nine months of your life obsessing over every single facet of their lives. In a few years, I’ll genuinely regret spending the last decade of my life not answering phone calls from my recently deceased mother because I was overwhelmed trying to figure out which full back had the most attacking potential.

Now for others, it’s just a bit of harmless fun. They join simply because everyone else in the office is participating. You often find that they stop modifying their team after about six weeks and then throughout the season will intermittently ask, “How’s that fantasy football thingy majig going?” I bite my tongue and give them a run down of people’s positions, but a fire burns deep inside me that roars, “YOU WOULD FUCKING KNOW IF YOU HAD FOLLOWED UP WITH YOUR COMMITMENT TO COMPETE AND HADN’T COMPROMISED THE ENTIRE INTEGRITY OF THE COMPETITION.”

As you can tell, I am not one of these people and I take it rather seriously like the unbearable competition nazi that I am.

In fact, it’s now getting to the business stage of the season with just two games left, and rather unsurprisingly as someone who takes it so seriously, I am top of all three leagues that I compete in. For anyone who thinks that would make me happy, let me be the first to say that you are reading the room incorrectly. I am riddled with uncontrollable anxiety whenever I think about it. I have been top for so long that I just want it to be over. I am currently like an injured animal who just wants to be shot in the face so I can be free of this torment.

I spent the whole of last week in a state of semi-permanent depression because I missed the deadline to change my team on a triple gameweek. It was a week in which I was huddled over my tablet incessantly checking the points that my nearest rivals were accumulating and calculating whether that was enough for me to be overtaken. On an unrelated note, my girlfriend was also doing her own maths and was working out how much money she would need to save in order to leave me and start afresh.

If I do clinch the title this year, I am honestly debating whether I can take the pressure of doing it all again next year. I might retire before I give myself a heart attack. However, if anyone is impressed in the slightest by my pointless achievement, I might risk cardiac injury once again.

I’m a fragile man.

I’ve Bought A Keyboard But It Might Be Quite A While Before I’m The Next Elton John.

This week, I finally caved into a voice that has been intermittently whispering into my ear for the last two years. A voice that has been berating me for being a man in his thirties and not being able to play a single musical instrument. It’s the same voice that made me download an app to learn Spanish not too long ago, and without giving away any spoilers, I’m still only fluent in being an ignorant little Englander.

Nevertheless, I didn’t let my previous failure in improving as a human being stop me and decided to take some serious thought about which instrument would be right for me. And by, ‘serious thought’ what I really mean is, I quickly googled the sentence, ‘easiest and cheapest instrument to learn’ and impulsively ordered a keyboard. If I could have been bothered to click the second link you would have now undoubtedly been reading a blog about my attempts to learn the ukulele.

After the order for the keyboard had been placed, I spent the next forty eight hours watching videos of the likes of Billy Joel and Elton John and forensically looking at their finger placements as if I had any idea what I was looking for. I was even being distracted at work and found myself incessantly texting my girlfriend asking if it had arrived yet. So much so, that when it finally arrived my girlfriend’s text message to me simply read, ‘It is here.’ No warmth, no kisses to end the text as she usually would. Just three cold words sent by a woman at the end of her tether.

When I arrived home, I sprinted past all loved ones and instantly began to rip the packaging apart exactly like a man who lives in a world of instant gratification and is emotionally overwhelmed by a two day wait for something he bought on a whim. Upon annihilating the cardboard it became quickly apparent to me that I had bought a keyboard that was clearly designed for children. In particular, there’s a leaflet included that has several smug children holding a variety of different instruments. I suppose that this is meant to motivate other children. The message is an uplifting one of, “IF THEY CAN DO IT! SO CAN YOU!” But as a man so significantly outside of that demographic, it holds a more negative tone. More a message that says, “WE’LL BE ENTERING THE JOB MARKET SOON! INSTEAD OF PISSING ABOUT WITH A CHILD’S KEYBOARD, PERHAPS YOU SHOULD FINALLY GET AROUND TO LEARNING MICROSOFT EXCEL?”

Surprisingly though, even this was not enough to dampen my spirits and with motivation and enthusiasm still running through my pores, I found myself on YouTube within moments. In the recommended videos, I could see thumbnails advertising videos such as…

“Learn Hallelujah in 5 easy steps.”

“Classical music for beginners.”

“Nursery rhymes for children.”

As is often the case, I analysed all three choices and decided to go for the easiest option. As a result, I spent the next two hours learning the famous children’s ditty, ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.’ It must be noted that at the same time I was committing this tune to memory, my caring girlfriend, who has decided to volunteer for a charity that helps people with learning difficulties, was undergoing her volunteer training via zoom. So as she did this genuinely amazing thing, she and all her fellow volunteers could just faintly hear a fully grown man in the background swearing along to a nursery rhyme like a fucking lunatic. It must have crossed the other volunteers minds that my girlfriend had gone above and beyond in her duties and started dating one of the service users.

Despite the annoyance of my poor girlfriend having to listen to her neanderthal boyfriend smashing away at keys to a song that five year olds learn in thirty minutes, she was actually quite impressed and couldn’t resist shouting, “You’re an actual top notch pianist.” Or at least that’s what I think she said. Her compliment was drowned out by a selection of choice swear words and requests for me to keep it quiet.

My talent already too much for some people to take in.

I’m now about a week in to being an owner of a keyboard and I’m still at that stage where I can’t walk past it without having to touch it – I went though a similar phase as a teenage boy. Obviously, my girlfriend is convinced that like most things I’ll get bored of it and before too long it’ll be in the corner of our bedroom gathering dust. I on the other hand think I’ll eventually be proficient. In fact, her insistence that I’ll give up makes me want to stick with it. I might be the only musical legend that learns his art fueled solely by spite.

Also for anyone interested, my first single, ‘I Told You I Would Stick With This And Thanks For Your Unwavering Support’ will be available for download shortly.

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.

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.

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.

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