Hello, My Name Is Paul And I Am Addicted To TV Quiz Shows.

Remember last year as the rumours of the first lockdown were approaching and everything seemed exciting and full of novelty? In particular, I have a vague recollection of people jokingly talking of an impending ‘baby boom’. Apparently, as soon as all these couples had got fed up of doing star jumps with Joe Wicks, all they would have left to fill their pointless time was sex. And plenty of it. If this was the case, me and my girlfriend definitely didn’t get the memo. There was something about a global pandemic on an already dying planet that somehow didn’t seem that sexy to us. So incredibly we managed to bypass all that and have spent our days becoming even more obsessed with TV quiz shows. The most heated it’s got in our house was during an argument about whether a tomato was a fruit or a vegetable.

The very fact that as I type this I remain so passionate and steadfast in my opinion that a tomato is a vegetable is proof that I am absolutely the best person to watch TV quiz shows with. That is if you enjoy watching TV quiz shows with someone who is a, ‘know it all unbearable prick.’

Not my words, but the words of my loving girlfriend.

Admittedly, the most worrying part of how much I love quiz shows is just how much they validate me. We recently watched an episode of the incredibly high brow ‘University Challenge’ and the adrenaline that coarsed through my veins after correctly answering TWO questions in a thirty minute period was both incredible and pathetic. However, as a boy who grew up on a council estate with a below average provision of education, being able to get one over on a newly post pubescent boy in a cardigan called Toby is what I live for.

And then at the other end of the spectrum you have something like ‘Tipping Point’. A quiz show I’m almost convinced was made specifically for people with brain injuries. The level of intellect you need to answer those questions is frighteningly low, but yet, as I routinely sit there with my beans on toast answering question after question correctly, a level of confidence washes over me and I transform into some sort of egotistical quiz god.

My girlfriend often thinks I should apply to go on one of these and win us enough money to pay off our mortgage. As tempting as this is, I just know though that I would become a socially awkward stuttering wreck and end up on one of those awful, ’50 Worst TV Quiz Moments’ voiced over by some washed up former soap star. My fleeting fifteen minutes of fame haunting me for the next twenty years of my life and verbalised by ‘Barry from Eastenders.’

Recently, I have found myself getting lost in thought watching these shows. Instead of being present and just enjoying the mental challenge, I have instead found myself looking at TV personality Ben Shepard in the eyes and wondering why I’m looking for his approval?! Why am I looking for anyones approval quizzing?

I think it stems from my childhood…

Intellectually, I peaked really young. I remember being a seven year old and being surrounded by my Dad’s mates at a party as they asked me countless trivia questions. As an adult, it does strike me as a weird thing to be doing at a party, but this was the 90’s and life was simpler. To this day, I can remember the thrill as I smashed questions on topics ranging from the moon landing to sitcoms of the seventies. The admiration from four middle aged men smelling of cheap beer overpowering my very being. Even then though, I think I knew it would never again be quite as good as it was that night.

And you know what? It never was.

But like any other addict, I’ll be chasing that dragon with my beans on toast next time ‘Tipping Point’ is on.

Day 457 Of My Hangover

The more observant of you will have noticed that your favourite blogger with under 50 followers, last week missed his usual self imposed deadline of posting a blog every Tuesday. I sincerely hope that this seismic event didn’t effect your day to day lives too much.

Now you might ask yourselves quite why I was unable to find the time to string a few sentences together. A possible family emergency maybe? Work commitments perhaps? They’d all be wrong. I have, and I say this without any exaggeration, been suffering with the worst hangover in the history of hangovers. Please note, I am yet to master the phrase, ‘without any exaggeration.’

Due to an easing of COVID restrictions, last week was the first week in months that people in the UK were legally allowed to visit beer gardens. Now, obviously, it goes without saying, that as a nation who has a really healthy relationship with alcohol, we collectively decided not to jump at the first opportunity to drunkenly gather in large numbers and drink ourselves into a stupor during a global pandemic.

Oh hang on. No, sorry, that’s EXACTLY what we decided to do.

I was no exception. This was the first time in months that I had been allowed to get together with friends. I jumped at the chance, ironed my smartest tracksuit and headed into town.

When we got into town, we were, probably naively, flabbergasted. There were queues upon queues of people waiting to be allowed to get into beer gardens. We were expecting queues, but this was ridiculous. We approached a very helpful bouncer who told us to expect a “1 to 3 hour wait, pal.” It didn’t make any sense to us?! Why would you waste hours of your life to then just be granted the opportunity to sit outside? It was a debate I was eager to have, but the first person I saw was a teenager who was holding what he proudly called ‘queue beers.’ He didn’t seem like he was is in the mood for an intellectual discussion and I certainly wasn’t in the mood for an intellectual head kicking.

But I can’t stress how long these queues were. I can honestly say that the only reason I would EVER wait in a queue of this size was if I needed an emergency prostate exam and the only person on the planet who could carry it out was waiting at the front with a finger full of lube. And even then I’d huff and puff for the duration of my wait.

After spending a good five minutes quietly mocking these idiots under my breath and ludicrously taking the moral high ground, we came to the conclusion that the only reasonable thing to do was to buy some beers and drink on the streets.

It’s incredible how important context is. If me and my mate had looked a certain way we’d have been looked upon as street urchins deserving of nothing but contempt. But because we had haircuts that suggested we were employed, people just cheerfully nodded their heads in approval as we downed cheap beer after cheap beer.

And I have to admit, it was beautiful. The sun was shining. There was a man playing Beatles songs on his acoustic guitar. It felt as if society had returned back to normal and we were bathing in its beauty. It was when the sun went down that the tone changed slightly. We went from bohemian young men participating in drunken chats about societies biggest issues to shouting sentences such as, “This alleyway looks safe to piss in!”

It’s safe to say that when I got home I was a little worse for wear. I remember getting home. I remember opening my door. But then my memories vanish. I just suddenly remember it being 4am and being awoken on my sofa by the worst headache I’ve ever experienced. I forced myself up and noticed that my beloved toy poodle had taken a shit right next to the dinner table. I was half tempted to leave it but my stupid moral compass took over and I found myself on my hands and knees with a lemon scented wet wipe. Shortly after, with washed hands, I was now trying to take out my contact lenses. Contact lenses that my drunken self had forgotten he had already taken out as soon as he had got home.

Oh how the mighty had fallen.

A man who just eight short hours ago was mocking people for being idiots now found himself in his kitchen disposing dog turd and peeling non existent contact lenses out of his eyes.

The next day was an absolute waste of 24 hours of precious life. I made it from my bed to the couch and remained in the foetal position for the majority of the day. Nothing else happened. Just self pity, takeaway pizza and thirty five episodes of ‘Come Dine With Me.’

Upon writing this, I’m still feeling horrendous and eating takeaway pizza from my backpack. I haven’t checked the ‘Guide To Being A Winner Book’ but I’m pretty sure eating weekend pizza from a backpack under your desk is on page one and it tells you to put the book down and go kill yourself.

The next time my mates ask me to spend the day drinking alcohol, I’m going to remind them that I have responsibilities. Primarily a once weekly blog that gives me zero financial reward.

I’m sure they’ll understand.

Prince Phillip Is Dead And The Country Has Gone Mad.

The magic of the internet means that for some crazy reason, people as far away as India have decided to read my blog. It’s insane to me that some bloke in Mumbai now knows about my pathetic hair line and my recent bout of diarrhea. But that often means I avoid talking about topical news stories in the fear that my writing won’t be accessible to them. However, I’m going to break that habit this week and talk about something that happened in my country that is historically quite significant – the death of Prince Phillip.

Now, I have to be honest from the start and admit to not being a royalist. It’s such a backward, archaic institution. Nobody should be given a palace or deemed important enough that other human beings have to bow down to them because of some sort of weird concept of hierarchical vaginas. The very idea of hereditary privilege props up and justifies a whole class system that keeps people trapped in poverty. It’s disgusting. But this isn’t a blog about my objection to the monarchy.

And on a human level, it’s incredibly sad. I can’t imagine being in love with someone for seventy plus years and then that being taken away from you.

When me and my girlfriend initially got together, she stupidly ended things with me after about three weeks and I consequently cried directly into a pillow in my mother’s box room for 48 hours straight. If it wasn’t for my charisma and her fear of being a single woman in her thirties with a biological clock incessantly whispering in her ear, we might never have flourished into the absolute power couple we are now.

Point is. I can’t fathom the amount of sorrow and grief that The Queen must be experiencing right now. However, the response of the British public, as with all major royal occasions, is absolutely baffling to me. And that is what I shall focus on.

Take the media coverage on television. Now television is my usual place of salvation. I find it incredibly soothing. It’s my comfort blanket. However, my comfort blanket has now been violently ripped away from me and is being used as a shit rag by distraught subjects devastated by the death of a man they never knew. It is literally wall to wall coverage. And don’t get me wrong, I understand why it needs to be reported on. I get the historical significance. But the vast amount of coverage means that most of what we are being tortured by is nothing but filler. The news stations are currently finding a conveyor belt of village idiots to relive their boring dinner party tales of that fleeting three minutes they were in the same company as him.

TV currently looks a lot like this…

“So yeah. I said this incredibly bland and inane thing to him and then he said some incredibly bland and inane thing back to me. And then, to my absolute surprise he then moved on to my colleague who managed to say something even more incredibly bland and inane. But no, despite not knowing him at all and him not knowing my existence, he was a really nice chap.”

A lot of these loyal subjects are also getting incredibly offended by other people’s indifference or jokes that are in bad taste. I have an elderly family friend who I saw on Facebook replying in disgust to a mocked up picture of Queen Elizabeth on ‘Tinder’. “THIS IS DISGUSTING. UNFOLLOWED.” A poor, arguably unfunny meme, I agree. But this was the same person who sent me a meme last week with the caption, ‘When you visit the book store and can’t find your books…” Where’s the joke you might ask? Oh. The book store in question was a chinese store apparently called, ‘No Fuk In Books.”

And why are people mourning him? He was a NINETY NINE year old man who lived in absolute privilege for the entirety of his life. He won. He hit the life experience jackpot. If you’re royally inclined you should be celebrating his life. You should be in the streets popping champagne. If statistics are to be believed and my dreams are never actualised, I’ll likely perish is my seventies after working in call centre/office environments for almost half a century. Mourn me. A man who spends most of his waking hours sat at a desk with his hand in a sharer bag of processed crisp.

In fact, I’m going to get in touch with the BBC right now and request that in the event of my death, they contact my colleagues so they can repeatedly tell that hilarious story about the time I sent something to the printer without realising the printer was *actually* turned off.

It’s about time there was enthralling content that could challenge the incredible tales we are currently being entertained by.

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 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.

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.

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.