Tuesday, December 14, 2010


We miss you Sommerfield and all your silly shelves full of all those things, that anywhere else, would never have been able to sit next to each other. Baked beans striking up conversations with Sellotape; cheese crying on the shoulder of Cif after falling out with an obscure Sandra Bullock DVD. It's been three months, and your tears are black ice.

Co-op has replaced you and it tries its best: It wears slightly eccentric jumpers and watches films by Mike Leigh. But the flowers in its hair are from a local garage and it sells olives boringly. It will tell you about how it's put bits of blue cheese in with them, but the olives hate this imposter. They want you back Sommerfield. We all do.

We're sorry about everything we've ever said.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Merry Christmas

High-five Jesus – the Gallaries shopping centre in Bristol now has a shop completely dedicated to your birthday. You can buy all sorts in there, as long as what you want to buy is sparkly and aggresively soul-destroying. You might want to accelerate your second coming Christ - get in there and change all that shiny shit into something more worthy. Something that'll make us reflect on the virgin birth and 'love' and why the sea looks so angry these days.

But I'm going to take the next exit off this lazy cynicism motorway. For one of my favourite hobbies (listed on my CV) is to listen to people become exasperated by the premature appearance of Christmas related high-jinx. A great place for this is just outside this new Christmas shop.

“Re-dic-you-lous,” says the woman with eyes lost behind Dierdre Barlow's spare pair of 'sexy time' glasses; she throws her the palm of her hand downwards in reflex disgust.

“It's just so unnecessary,” her friend replies, more measured, more calm; a sadness and sense loss of the times when the signs of Christmas were limited to the Queen's fifteen minute speech and September was a month dedicated to deciciding whether it was cold enough to turn the heating on.

The only thing that can rile the middle-classes more is Easter Eggs in February. You would have to microwave Fern Britton's gastric or band to illicit more disgust than selling Easter Eggs in February.

And so it will continue until December, when the cries of 'not yet, it's too early' will subside and solemn serious looking elderly men with confused hair and bibles, will pick up the baton with their bemoaning of the loss of the 'true meaning of Christmas'. Unforgivable when we've had since September to think about it.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Bags under the eyes

I had nothing to offer the world today. These days happen about once every couple of months. However much I try to muster enthusiasm, intelligence or even just effort, it doesn't come. I sit at my desk, tapping 'page-up', 'page down' – hoping one of them will bring me back into the game, but the hours throw themselves away. Nothing is really getting done.

“Do you want a bag?” the girl in Sommerfield asked. I didn't know. I had bought a carton of orange, chicken breasts and two tubes(?) of shower gel. I could of balanced it all without a bag and done my part to save the worldy thing that we live on, on the other hand...

I realised I didn't have it within me to make a decision and that it had now been a good few seconds since she'd asked the question. My only option was to just choose one of the two words 'yes' or 'no'. I could spin a coin – but that would be so damningly odd I'd probably have to move flat and grow a beard. I get ginger facial hair so that wasn't an option. I decided to say the word that was the shortest and hope for the best.

"No," I said rather too loudly. She pulled back a bag I hadn't noticed she was preparing. Shit, I am such an ungrateful bastard.

"Yes – actually yes," I quickly improvised, "I have got two bottles of shower gel." This justification has just been confirmed as the most unnecessary since records of justifications people make in supermarkets began. She handed the bag over to me with a hesitancy and precision of a woman who was being held up by an armed bag robber. I stuffed my goods in there, looked around cautiously, and got the fuck out of there.

I'm home and safe now and there's football is on the television. I can't remember the name of the commentator – he's the one who shouts a single word very loudly every time someone has an attempt at goal. "HEADER", "JONES!" and less impressively: "OOOOOH!" Dwight Yorke is the co-commentator. I'm not sure whether he's actually seen a football match before. He might say that about me and bags.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

New term.

It will soon be time to start the next module on my OU course. I'm doing an English Literature degree backwards. The harder courses such as 'Twentieth Century Literature' looked more interesting than 'Approaching Literature' and thus I did the more interesting ones first. Trouble is 'Twentieth Century Literature' kind of assumed you'd done 'Approaching Literature' first and thus was a little ridiculously difficult. This is yet another disadvantage to not being what people call 'sensible'. 'Sensible' can be 'washing up as you go along' or parking your car in the garage. I don't have a garage, and washing-up as I go along makes me cry tears that were meant for standing on a cliff-edge staring into the middle-distance.

Anyway this new module is the one you're supposed to do first. 'The Arts Past and Present' is its name, or TAPAP as I confidently predict people will become irritated with me saying. It looks to involve reading lots and lots a massive text books. I guess I should get started, but to be fair to me, I have Sky Sports - so that isn't possible right now. Rupert fucking Murdoch.

Couple on the next table

The woman on the next table is angry about stuff. All stuff. Everything that constitutes stuff has anger aimed at it from this woman. Her husband, also in his sixties, rests back into his chair content to tiredly utter well worn mumbles of agreement.

The subject of the day is benefits. Her running through of categories of people that 'shouldn't get a penny' quickly disqualifies anyone who's not white, middle-class and over sixty.

“They've all got tattoos of course,” she takes a second to let her whore of an observation parade itself proudly around the pub draping itself all over men with beards and hate, “how can they afford tattoos if they don't have a job?”

“We're paying for 'em,” her husband says .

“We're paying for 'em,” she says before moving onto fingers, “and they've all got nice nails.” The tone in her voice is now so incredulous, I want to record it; make it a lasting exhibit of 'incredulous'; play it back to anyone who asks me what 'incredulous' is. I don't – that would have been an 'odd' apparently. Stupid social conventions stopping me from recording people's conversations in pubs. Go away conventions, leave me alone. I want to be free of you, dig a hole in a field and live in it.

Now she moves on to immigration. “You can't blame people for voting BNP,” she concludes, her husband coughs uncomfortably. Her argument boils down to that though the BNP are 'of course abhorrent', another more mainstream party should adopt all of their policies.

But she hasn't said 'political correctness gone mad yet.' What a disappointing odious bitch she is. At least play the game woman. My bigotry bingo card is incomplete and your lazy racism is not covering all the bases it should.

'Come on, we've got to get back,' her husband says, drinking the last mouthful of beer in a way that is some how self-congratulatory. They've got stuff to do. Probably watch Britain's Got Talent or chase Asians in their people carrier.

Monday, August 16, 2010


The television programme Question of Sport Uncensored, indicates that someone at some time was sat down watching the standard version of Question of Sport and thought to themselves, ‘this programme is censored.’ Either that or the BBC 1 controllers had half an hour of television to fill and decided the best way to fill it was to have Ally McCoist repeatedly say ‘fuck’. I sincerely hope it’s for the first reason. I love the idea, of the real naked truth of Question of Sport being exposed; the lie that Ally McCoist doesn’t say ‘fuck’ finally demolished so that we now live in a post-innocence-of-Ally McCoist’s potty-mouth-world. What a world: I want to die here and have my ashes thrown over the lush valleys of coarse innuendo aimed at Sue Barker.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Kylie Sandwich

Kylie's on the television singing live. She's not miming. We know this because the first thing she does is shout out, 'Hello, how you all doing?'. If she was miming she couldn't have done this. Now she's slightly changing the words of the song to reference the host of the chat show. If she was miming she couldn't have done this. Kylie isn't miming. SHE IS NOT FUCKING MIMING!

The thing with buying takeaway sandwiches is. you're going to buy them from the place that serve the nicest ones, no matter how rude the staff are. I know that with this sandwich purchase insight, I've just changed the way you think about buying sandwiches. You don't have to thank me - in fact you can't. You're powerless; just someone reading words on a screen. How did it come to this? I mean really. This is humiliating - for God sake go out for a walk or read a book or something.

Anyway, normally the rude bloke in the sandwich shop doesn't bother me. His supercilious tone and grimace at every word I utter are just shallow pot-holes along the road to my baguette bounty. It seems to be harder for him anyway: having to lower himself, as someone who prepares and sells sandwiches, to sell sandwiches to someone who doesn't sell and prepare sandwiches. Incidentally, I've got no idea what 'supercilious' actually means. It just seemed right to use it there. I'm hoping it means something like 'superior', but if it means 'eight-legged' or 'floatation device' then I apologise. But I am doing this live - there is no miming in my writing of blogs. Incidentally, how you all doing?

Then the bloke in front of me with ALL of the 2008 tour dates for Rod Stewart's 2008 Australia/New Zealand tour on the back of his t-shirt picked up his sandwich, stepped backwards and crushed my toes with his heel. He apologised, I told him it wasn't a problem. It was a problem, it hurt my toes. Sandwich man looked at me with his, 'and what exactly are you doing here?' stare. I felt the anger that builds through pain, burning my insides. I concentrated every single available resource of my soul not to tell this man to go do something unnatural with a wholemeal baton. I composed myself.

'Can I have a crayfish baguette please?' I said, almost like a man who hadn't just been stepped on by a fat Rod Stewart fan. In fact I could almost have been one of those casual sandwich purchasers, one who would quite like a crayfish baguette, but if it didn't happen – well there'd be no big drama – just one of those things.

But sandwich man was having none of it. A little flick of his hair, then his body froze. His facial expression moved from boredom to unrestrained contempt.

'Do you mean Crayfish on a bed of rocket?' he said, unnecessarily capitalising the 'c' in 'crayfish'.

There are about twelve different baguettes available. The total number of those that have crayfish in them is one. This man's ignoring of basic set theory was without question deliberate. The man who can't let 2008 go may have crushed my toes, but this man was thumping my face with his reluctance to serve me lunch.

I'd like to tell you how I made an amusing and cutting retort, how I found out where he lived and set fire to his dog – but I didn't. I just said 'yes.' But I didn't say 'please', and I still got the baguette. That's the Weymouth in me.

Friday, May 28, 2010

A week in Derby

I sit in the hotel bar drinking my pint of Stella, a beer punched in the face until it agreed to chill-out at a more moderate and conscientious 4% alcohol. My last night in the Holiday Inn Express in Pride Park, Derby. In a sense, it’s the end of a very short era; an era of four days. My era’s too small to be an era. How inadequate it is.

I do not mind my own company, but sitting in your hotel room has a loneliness that overwhelms, that empties your entire vision and replaces it with a colour that failed the audition to become beige. And that’s why I sit in the hotel lounge, with my newspaper amongst tables peppered with the tired, who are all having ‘just one more’. The television keeps us warm.

The television has dedicated itself to ITV. It’s just finished showing us a programme that had everybody guessing; trying to work it out. What was the concept? All it was (I promise you I’m not deliberately concealing nuance or deliberately deconstructing it in an attempt to piss-take), was celebrities on boats. Richard Madeley and a few others on boats against no time limit, with no challenge or danger, on boats. There weren’t even waves.

That really was it, nothing more, nothing less. I say ‘nothing less’, the only way of having something less would be to have a camera fixed on an empty boat for an hour, or maybe me on a boat. A whole programme with me on a boat; I like it. It would be called ‘Me on a Boat’ and I would do the first series for not much money, before demanding fifty-grand an episode for the second series in which I would be on a better boat. Then I’d write a book about boats. I say write, I’d get it ghost-written, for I know less about boats than I know about you.

‘Did you write the book?’

‘Well…’ I’d stutter, unsure whether to lie. A smug grin would begin to build upon Jeremy Paxman’s spongy face.

‘It was ghost-written wasn’t it?’

‘Yes! But by a fucking ghost, Paxo; a real fucking ghost.’ And I’d have proof: a picture of me stood next to some woman who was murdered in a Yorkshire bakery in the eighteenth century and Paxman would disappear from shot, shaking and crying underneath his desk. They’d cut to an advert break, even though this is BBC 2, and the first advert would be for a sequel to my book, ‘Me on a Boat’ called ‘Even More of Me on a Boat’, which would be exactly the same but with 'out-takes' consisting of wrongly spelt adjectives.

So, that’s been my week in Derby.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Timmy Mallet and the Theory of Evolution

I am a man living in a small flat who often has to spend five minutes looking for his keys before he leaves it. The mechanics of my brain frequently fails following tasks:: a) instruct my movable arm to put my keys in the same place every time I get home, b) in case of failing ‘a’ store the location of my keys in my memory. This could be because sub-consciously I decide that such information really isn’t worth wasting limited memory on; that all that is stored there now cannot be discarded for such piffling convenience of being able to go outside.

But the principle of the brain’s memory holding the most important stuff in it whilst refusing to hold that which is less useful falls down clumsily on its arse as soon as you partake in an afternoon’s tour around it recesses and see just what a load of crap has been lying about there for years. I for example know that eighties children’s TV host Timmy Mallett has had an art exhibition in a place called Pinder Hall; and that’s not a memory by the way; I’ve never been to Pinder, I don’t have any particularly interest in art or Timmy Mallett and wasn’t waiting for this unlikely and exciting combination to change this situation. In fact I’ve no idea how I know this information, yet my brain resolutely refuses to replace this knowledge with something which could be traditionally described as ‘more useful’ - like when my M.O.T. is due or the age of my mother.

The answer to why this happens is available for y’all in the Theory of Evolution. The often random way our brain soaks up information has been sufficient – and as a species we are most likely unique in this way. In fact, back when our species was living in caves (where the fuck are all these caves?) the knowledge of Mallett's art soirĂ©e would most likely have been advantageous to the chance of having your genes reproduced.

But let us not be complacent: It may be in the future that homo-sapiens who can always find their keys do gain an evolutionary advantage; that those that can’t fill their brain-boxes with useful facts that allow an ordered and efficient lifestyle will be shunned by the opposite gender who crave the company of those that know what kind of fuel their car takes. The sorting-office of the brains of future generations of people like me might deteriorate to such an extent that whilst knowing Michael Parkinson’s favourite ice-cream and the history of the Lola-Ball, they are unable to remember what a pen does or where they put their reproductive organs. That’s why every time I waste five minutes of my life searching for and then retrieving my keys from the fridge - I’m not annoyed or frustrated - but glad that I live in a time when this can still happen.