This Week I Killed Someone. Sort Of. In A Way.

You know when you watch a film or TV show and you see the main character screaming and panicking as some sort of harrowing scene plays out in front of you? You exhale a judgmental puff of air from your nose and confidently exclaim, “That would never be me that. The most important thing to do is to remain calm and level headed. Most people don’t have the capacity to be like that.” This is often met with whoever you’re sat with calling you a prick while they watch you stick another handful of popcorn in your gob. Well, this week I was involved in a situation that once again revealed to the world just what a nervous ball of mess up I am.

You see, it was a Saturday night and I was relaxing on the couch when I heard the door go. This was strange in itself as we’re not the most sociable couple in the world. So unsociable I am, I employ a technique when an unexpected knock of the door happens. That technique is as follows – I don’t move, wait for whoever it it to get tired of knocking and then I enjoy them fucking off.

On this occasion this did not happen, so I reluctantly made my way to interact with another human being.

Upon opening the door, I am in an instant thrown into a state of panic, as in front of me I see an ambulance and a paramedic.

The paramedic quietly, and professionally, steps forward, “Is Melissa in?”

With my breathing slowly spiralling out of control I shut the front door behind me and grab him by the shoulder, shouting a a little bit too loudly, “Is it her Dad? IT’S HER DAD ISN’T IT?!”

Taken aback by the man screaming in his face, he attempts to respond, but before I allow him to speak again, I continue, “Oh god! He has heart issues. How am I going to tell her?!”

In my troubled head, this paramedic is here to tell me that my girlfriend’s father has passed away. A man who in recent years has had a couple of heart attacks finally beaten by the very thing that keeps him alive. At this point, I have my hands on my head and am pacing back and forward, just uttering frightened grief ridden phrases. The paramedic then stops me, reaches into his pocket and pulls out a purse that my girlfriend lost last week on a night out in town.

In a matter of seconds, I’ve gone from a man about to tell his girlfriend that her Dad has passed to feeling like a fucking idiot. My adrenaline being as it was, I don’t exactly remember how the rest of our conversation panned out, but within moments he was gone and I was stood in my front yard sweating profusely and holding my girlfriend’s lost purse.

What an idiot.

I’ve always been this way. I remember once when I was about fourteen, we were playing a game of cricket in the street. It must have been around the time when the England cricket team won The Ashes, because usually there is no chance you’d find me wasting my time playing such an awful game.

Anyway, I was batting and as the delivery came in, I swung back.

THWUCK!

The ball, however, didn’t fly off as I had hoped. It just slowly hit the wall and pathetically rolled back towards the direction in which it had come from. Then, surrounded by a defending silence, all I heard was the shrieking cry of some annoying little kid who had previously been trying to ruin our game. I had only gone and accidentally hit him full force in the head.

I froze.

He ran off.

Moments later his man mountain of a Dad came bursting down the street.

“WHICH LITTLE PRICK HAS JUST CAVED MY LADS HEAD IN WITH A CRICKET BAT?!”

I was petrified. But uncharacteristically I found the courage to step up.

“It was me, sir. I didn’t mean it though, guvnor. He ran behind me. I’m awfully sorry, I am.”

Despite sounding like some Victorian street urchin I had stood my ground. The Dad had been told and had accepted that I wasn’t at fault. He dragged his knuckles back to where he came from.

That had told him.

“Go on then. Next bowl.” I asserted smugly.

Noting happened. Oh. Sorry. Except it did. My siblings and friends pointed out that I had rather embarrassingly pissed my pants. A streak of newly fresh urine making my crotch it’s new home. Like an embarrassed skunk that applies a similar defence mechanism, I walked slowly with my cricket bat and into the house. The smell of piss wafting in the back wind and my days playing that awful game coming to an abrupt end.

I don’t know why I react like this. Psychologically you could link it to growing up around a father who used fear as a way of making sure we behaved? Perhaps being a product of a childhood divorce who grew to panic whenever someone raised their voice?

It could be a myriad of things in my environment that has moulded me into an exhausted, fear induced neurotic moron. Or it could be that I’m just a massive shithouse.

I’m Learning a New Language. AREN’T I BETTER THAN YOU?!

Despite life being meaningless and the overwhelming fact that we’re living on a dying planet, I’ve recently found myself in one of those periods in which for some random reason, I’ve been trying to self improve. This has mainly taken the form of me embracing the challenge of learning a new language. Well, I say, ‘learning a new language’, but all I’ve really done is download the Duolingo app and spent my breaks in work weirdly mouthing such completely necessary sentences as, “the dog eats rice” and “the rhinoceros has a horn.” Undoubtedly, these are sexual euphemisms that are only spoken in foreign climates by bored business men. In fact, if I’m ever abroad and hear someone utter a sentence about a ‘rhinoceros having a horn’, I’m sprinting to the nearest airport. Pronto.

Admittedly, I am still at the really early stages of using Duolingo so I don’t want to judge it too harshly, but the lessons are full of similar bizarre impractical sentences about ‘giraffes reading newspapers’ and ‘socks not speaking English’. I did initially wonder if I had accidentally chosen a setting in the app that was specifically for people with brain injuries. But no, that’s just how they do things in crazy old Duolingo world.

Now you might be thinking, “which language have you taken upon yourself to master, Paul?” Perhaps it’s a language of a country that you one day hope to live in? Maybe a country that you visit on a regular basis? On both of these assumptions you’d be incorrect. I simply went to my old friend Google and asked, “what is the easiest language for an English speaker to learn?” A couple of articles later and I am now a student of Dutch. My inherent laziness not stretching to the next five hundred articles explaining that it’s pretty much a waste of time because almost everyone in the Netherlands speaks English.

Brilliant.

Upon receiving this knowledge you would assume that I stopped learning Dutch and found a more practical language to learn? Again, you’d be painfully incorrect. You see, whoever designed the Duolingo app ingeniously designed a streak system which once started makes it incredibly difficult to abandon. In fact, I’m currently on an impressive forty one day streak and now spend most of my days worrying about losing it. I can only imagine what my streak anxiety will look like if I one day make it to a significant three or even four digit number.

As I mentioned earlier though, I have been forced to sneak off on a number of occasions to a quiet area in work in order to fit my practice in. A couple of weeks back now, I found myself alone in the changing rooms with my headphones in and repeating back in English the sentences that were flashing in front of me. In hindsight, I was definitely doing that thing people do when they have headphones in and began shouting back the sentences at a volume that was inappropriate even at a football match, nevermind a workplace. Anyway, there I was screaming back in a mixture of English and Dutch when this sentence appeared, “Ik ben een vrouw. ” I confidently highered my speaking voice and bellowed repeatedly the English translation, “I AM A WOMAN, I AM A WOMAN, I AM A WOMAN.” Then out of nowhere, I felt a presence watching over me. Out the corner of my eye I could now see the shining bald head of the security guard slowly making its way around a corner. As our eyes met he dashed away, clearly thinking he had discovered a bearded employee who was in the courageous first steps of a gender transition.

I’m trying to better myself and there I was becoming a talking point at that man’s evening meal with his family.

Anyway, I must admit, I’m now five weeks down the line and my motivation is beginning to seriously wane. In the first week I downloaded the app I was averaging about thirty five minutes per day testing my new skills out and reading over Dutch newspapers. However, like most of my fads I’m decreasingly spending less and less time on it and before I know it I’ll be back to being a little Englander who slowly open mouths sentences to far superior people when ordering beers on a city break.

Does anyone know the Dutch for, ‘stop being an ignorant lazy fuck?’

This Week I Had A Health Scare And Realised That I Was Immortal.

Something that I get accused of on a regular basis is that I over share parts of my private life in exchange for easy laughs. That instead of keeping things to myself like the mature adult I should be, I’ll instead eagerly blurt something embarrassing out in order to hit the comedy jackpot and bathe in the warmth of my easily earned laughter. With that in mind, please prepare yourself to read this weeks blog on the topic of me finding a brown growth on my penis.

It started a few evenings ago, when upon ending one of my usual visits to the toilet, I discovered a dark patch of skin just looking back up at me. Instantly, a mixture of panic and intense anger stirred deep within.

“Just my fucking luck. Of all the cancers to get, I get dick cancer. Nobody is going to do a cake sale for penis cancer…. ” I found myself muttering as I strode determinedly towards my poor girlfriend with penis in hand.

Greeted with the usual sigh and roll of the eyes that I have been accustomed to over the years, she rather wisely pointed out that it was probably nothing but it was best that I contacted my GP in the morning. This advice was by far the most sensible thing to do. I knew it was the route I should take even before she said it. Unfortunately, however, I am a silly man and as silly men often do I decided to ignore the sensible woman and instead spent the next two days unproductively comparing my growth to some of the most cancer riddled genitalia the internet had to offer.

Now there are some life events that are so important that people just know were they where when they took place. JFK’s assassination, the death of Princess Diana, 9/11. In years down the line when I’m asked, “At what point did your girlfriend lose all respect for you?” I’ll know in a heartbeat that it was on a Monday evening in July after leaning over to my beloved and asking her for the seventy fifth time to look at some random unfortunate penis on Google Images.

With a random mans penis just inches away from her face she snapped and informed me that she would finally end this nonsense. I awoke the next day to an email informing me that I would receive a call from my GP in the coming hours.

Today I was to face my fears.

And my health anxiety fears were raised to an all time high when in work my phone began to ring.

This was it.

I was in the last few moments of living in world where I wasn’t seriously ill.

I picked up my phone and walked past a colleague who I mouthed something about needing to take a call too because vagueness is king when you’re just about to go and stand in a corridor and attempt to privately discuss a potentially serious medical issue about your cock.

The phone call started as I expected it to begin. The bog standard questions about my general health and so on. Quite quickly, however, it became apparent that he would need to take a look at the marking and he politely suggested that I send him some photos. Reluctantly, I agreed and asked him what would happen once he had viewed the photos. His answer startled me.

“If I call you back it is probably something that needs more attention. If not, I’ll just text you.”

For some bizarre reason, he was adding jeopardy into this. Like some sort of twisted game show host he held all the power in his hands and I would soon become transfixed on my phone hoping to be this weeks lucky winner and receive the text that would confirm I could continue to exist.

Now I’ve had terrible starts to many working weeks, but very few have involved me sneaking off from work and taking pictures of my junk in the disabled toilets.

But there I was.

It was happening.

We live in a world ruled by identity politics. Almost on a daily basis I see people of all genders, sexuality, classes arguing between each other. However, I think we can all agree on one thing – dicks are disgusting. Even on the best day with the most flattering lighting, one hundred percent of them still took gross. But on this day, hidden in a disabled toilet with my foot up against the door I might possibly have owned the most disgusting of all dicks on planet Earth. The combination of potential serious illness and being discovered by a work colleague had made my little fella completely shrivel up. I genuinely remember pathetically shouting after my fourth attempt at capturing an image, “Just fucking work will you?!”

It was like the night I lost my virginity all over again.

But alas, I managed to take a couple of images that wouldn’t result in a lawsuit and sent them straight his way. I then lifted up my trousers, walked back into the office and sat down at my desk like the disgusting pervert I am.

Within seconds my phone buzzed.

IT WAS A TEXT!

“Thanks for the photos, Paul.”

What a weird start of a text I thought. Nobody is thanking anyone for those photos, doc. My girlfriend is the one person on this planet who *might* want them and even she would vomit instantly on sight of seeing those.

“Just looks like a pigmentation issue. Nothing to be concerned about. Please keep an eye on it and if there are any changes, please get in touch.”

The relief washed over me. I wasn’t going to die! Phew! I looked around and felt nothing but gratitude. Life was beautiful. Everything once again seemed possible. I was at one with everything and everyone in that office. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath…

“Those horrible photographs are going to live on the internet forever.” My internal monologue whispered into my psyche.

The panic was back. I then remembered that the ninteen year old me once posted a picture of his anus in a random forum online because he had convinced himself that his newly birthed haemorrhoid was anus cancer.

My naked body was all over the internet! At this point, I might as well start an OnlyFans.

With the cringe enducing memories refusing to vacate my mind, I slowly placed my head on to my desk in some sort of exhaustive embarrassment.

I had lived to tell this tale, but in that moment it dawned upon me – nobody ever really dies on the internet.

I Had My COVID Jab This Week. I Also Spent My Week Having A Nervous Breakdown.

I’m not a fan of clichés, but I’m going to start this weeks blog with one. My last seven days have been quite the emotional roller-coaster. I have gone from uncontrollable fear to unadulterated highs and it’s all down to finally booking my COVID vaccination.

I’ve been entitled to have my jab for about four months now but I have resolutely avoided organising it. Whenever my colleagues, friends or family have asked if I’ve had it, I’ve increasingly sounded like an absolute passionate conspiracy theorist. I’m not. But that’s exactly what it has sounded like.

“I’m just holding off for a bit longer, see what the research says.”

“I have a healthy immune system. I’ll let others get it first.”

“BILL GATES IS A SATANIC PAEDOPHILE WHO WANTS TO INSERT TRACKING CHIPS INTO OUR ARMS!”

You see, I don’t believe any of this, but I was willing to say anything to hide the fact that I have a really bad fear of needles. It actually has an official term called ‘trypanophobia.’ However, my friends sympathetically refer to it as, ‘being a massive pussy.’

I’ve always had a fear of needles for as far back as I can remember. I was the shortest kid in my year – the runt of the litter. So the school nurse would routinely refer me to have blood tests to figure out the bizarre mystery of my lack of height. She would genuinely look at my 5’3 father and 5’2 mother in the eyes while having these conversations. I mean, I’m no medical expert, but even I know that these two diminutive humans were never going to create a Shaquile O’Neal.

I remember one particular visit to the hospital when they put needles in both my arms and legs at the SAME time. It was horrific. The nurse in charge tried to calm me by saying, “Once they’re in, we have a PlayStation you can play on.” Even at eight I wasn’t stupid enough to think that this was a good deal. Four hours of trauma that would linger with me for the rest of my life for a go on ‘Tony Hawks Pro Skater?’ No thanks, lady.

But alas, my time was running out. I knew my list of excuses were seriously depleted and that I was going to get it eventually. So on Sunday evening, I bit the bullet and booked it.

The appointment was booked for Tuesday morning. Now, from the moment I booked it and every moment leading up to actually getting the vaccination, all I was filled with was stomach churning thoughts about getting it. I couldn’t eat properly, I couldn’t sleep properly. It was horrible. My every living second occupied by the thought of my skin being aggressively pierced by some middle aged woman just wanting to finish her shift so she could get home.

With my nerves shattered and my body exhausted Tuesday arrived.

My usual morning routine usually consists of having a cup of tea or two, reading a couple of chapters of the book I’m reading or scrolling mindlessly on my phone. This morning was different. There was no tea. There was no reading. There was no scrolling. There was however excessive diarrhoea. Just hours of fear induced defecation. At one point, with the clock ticking down and the time of my appointment getting ever nearer, I found myself genuinely tearing up during one of my visits to the bathroom. The only sound filling the silence between plops was my pathetic cries of, “I can’t do this.”

I did however muster the courage to wipe and leave and just a mere fifteen minutes later from having a shit based breakdown I was stood at the door to the clinic.

I was welcomed by a young man at the door who I dutifully informed that I was there for my vaccination. I must have looked terrified because he quickly smirked and said, “Scared?” I was worried that everyone at the clinic would be cold and would just think I was a massive coward, but his warm smile put me at ease instantly. I smiled back and with our blossoming friendship cemented, he continued to reassure me.

“Are you scared of the needle itself or what’s in it?”

“Oh no. I trust the science. It’s just the needle. I have this silly longstanding fear.”

“Mate, you won’t even feel it going in.”

“I’M USED TO THAT SENTENCE.”

My top lip sweating and my sense of friendship completely overestimated he went from being welcoming to awkward in just a matter of seconds. Without saying a further word to me, he handed me a document and requested I take a seat.

So like a man who had just inappropriately joked about penetration, I slowly made my way to the waiting area.

I looked down at the piece of paper I had been given and saw the number ’49’ scribbled at the top. Then, a nurse appeared at the door just in front of me and bellowed it out. For a second, like a rabbit caught in the headlights, I just stared back at her.

“If I don’t move she won’t know it’s me.” My internal monologue muttered.

“This can be my new life now, I’ll just sit here forever.” I continued like the moron I am.

However, without warning, my legs took control and before I knew it, I found myself walking towards her.

This was it.

I sat down. Inhaling gigantic breaths and looking like I was about to faint, I cry-whispered, “Get it over with, please… ” She then preceded to read out a number of generic mandated questions which my voice decided to answer in the same tone as a teenage boy in the midst of his voice breaking.

With the administration over, I closed my eyes.

“All done.”

I had literally felt nothing and with the adrenaline and relief coarsing through my veins I misjudged my reply.

“Jesus FUCKING Christ. Is that it?!”

My voice now back to normal but my eyes now widened like I had done a fist full of cocaine, I stared intensely at the nurse like I was on some sort of vaccination high.

“CAN I HAVE MY SECOND ONE NOW!?”

The nurse was clearly becoming a little bit weirded out by both my volume and requests for more vaccinations. She requested that I go sit in what can only be described as a holding pen. This, obviously, was standard procedure, but I couldn’t help feel that I would have been sent somewhere to calm down regardless.

After twenty minutes of sitting, it was now time for me to leave. With the last remnants of confidence still in my system I left the building with a strut and jumped astride my bike. My feet touched the pedals, and then, almost as if it had been waiting in the shadows, it was back. That familiar worrying voice.

“Oi Paul?! What if you get those severe side effects?”

Brilliant.

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.

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.

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.