Tag Archives: advice

Lost to the grape

The day begins with a feeling of minor dread akin to realising you’ve left the freezer door open overnight and melted your fish fingers. A mild sickness appears in the back of the throat, your body stating in no uncertain terms that it may allow you to get a little toothpaste in your mouth but if you attempt porridge you’re asking for it. Your mind refuses to output sensible instruction as you fail to get pants on like an adult and almost headfirst yourself through the window. It’s the type of stodgy malady only a lack of alcohol the previous night can bring on.

Hangovers are diabolical and can leave an Iron Man veteran curled up foetally on his bathroom floor, but the hollow feeling of a fresh morning following a night of sobriety holds its own terrors. Despite this, and some evidence to the contrary, it’s a feeling I experience most days of the week.

I’m not an alcoholic in any meaningful sense of the word, and coming from a family packed with them I should know. I have an uncle, two aunts and a cousin humbly asking Him to remove their shortcomings in a room of shame-faced strangers. At a large family event some years ago one of these, in her mid-forties, was found floundering in a ditch outside the venue, attempting to use her cash card to withdraw money from a hedge. Livened up the wedding, at least. Pity it was mine.

I have a raft of alcoholic drinks in my house – an actual raft, in case England’s northern barbarians send down their army of unwanted waters – but I probably crack one open once every couple of months. Alcohol often goes past its use-by date at my place, leading to the forlorn sight of a man sorrowfully tipping away can after can of Guinness that was once God’s gift to drinkers but now tastes like caustic soda laced with brie.

I drink in company, anywhere but home, to have a laugh, get drunk and forget the future. I don’t drink because I like it – I tolerate it in order to lose my wits. I don’t drink because it relaxes me of an evening – that’s what tea is for. I am the classic binge drinker, as are many of my countrymen and women. It’s frequently gruesome, destructive, frightening, pugnacious and vile, and more often than not great fun.

Today, one of our nation’s august health authorities has elected to inform us that even the tiniest sip of grog will do your body harm, and a man’s weekly upper limit should be somewhere in the region of seven pints. Good luck explaining to an Englishman after seven pints on a Monday night that he’s had enough for the week, particularly if you’re not within easy reach of one of the country’s two remaining A&Es.

Even to those with a forehead like Steven Gerrard it must be abundantly plain that alcohol is a poison to the human body, and can be nothing but bad for you. Advice to make us do less of it is akin to telling us not to take naps on train tracks or point binoculars at the sun. But unlike a number of vocal critics fouling the airwaves this morning, I don’t object to such guidance being issued by civil servants with curiously large budgets, because this guidance is plainly not aimed at me.

I object with unimaginable vehemence to anyone telling me how much I should and shouldn’t drink, because life is going to kill me one day no matter how many bulbs of garlic I hang up to ward off the inevitable. I’ve lately been suffering a bout of horrific hangovers that have made me seriously question my intake – and that’s fine, because I’m choosing to take on board the facts of my blistering skin and ripped throat, and react accordingly. You don’t need to tell me I should drink less, because my body tells me itself by upwardly ejecting much of what I put in it through the wrong hole with great force.

Yet official advice on how much you should drink, in that ideal world none of us will ever experience, is surely as harmless as the Green Cross Code. Remember that? Stopped you getting killed when you were a child? Maybe if the red man at the traffic lights had been a bottle instead I might have been sufficiently conditioned to avoid my likely fate of a waiting list for a nasty brown organ I won’t abide on my plate much less have implanted in me when someone else is done with it.

The advice given by health bodies is so plainly obvious to the most ardent of simpletons it seems almost designed to let us ignore it. Eating raw meat could kill you. Well bugger me, that’s a turn up. Don’t try to retrieve your Frisbee from an electricity station unless you want a million British school children to laugh at you in the advert they make about it. Don’t inflate the life raft until you’ve exited the aircraft, though plane safety info is singularly worthless given you’ll be splattered across the plains long before you have the chance to hunt about beneath your seat for a life jacket that probably isn’t there.

Still, objecting to such advice is quite daft. The people behind such guidelines clearly do it because we’re a country with one of the biggest intakes of booze per head on the planet, and to not point out there are downsides to it would be to miss the opportunity to give a few people jobs. It’s bad for you. Yes we know. Here’s a few quid, treat yourself to a Smirnoff.

Don’t complain that alcohol may give you one of those grim diseases that eat you up over the course of many months, like arse cancer or gout, but it’s good for your heart in moderation. Advice like this is hardly aimed at people who sip at a nice glass of red with their tenderloin and smile contentedly that Mr Merlot has helped them cheat death for yet another day. If you’re using alcohol to try to keep your heart healthy you’re probably not reading the label properly.

If you drink a bottle of wine a night and think it’s good for you, you were lost to the grape long ago and good luck on your voyage to the bottom of the vineyard. If you think you’re fine because you have five days a week completely juice-free, you might not live forever if the other two days are spent crawling through sick down Cardiff high street with your skirt up over your head, one shoe in your left hand and the other in The Prince of Wales.

You might not live forever even if you spend seven days a week off the sauce, every week of your dwindling life, because that’s the game I’m afraid. It ends. Don’t fume at the guidelines explaining how to delay the certain, just accept they’re another way of saying “You’re going to get hit by a bus, but it doesn’t have to be the next one you see.”

Let us applaud these new directives in the true spirit of a nation minded to listen politely before making their own bloody minds up, consequences be damned. And drink up, because before last orders in the great pub of life we might as well go out singing and shouting and glassing each other in the true tradition of a country floating on ale.

Intellect, drive and productivity

We’re the same, you and I, and not just because we’re both on that one way journey into the eternal darkness. We’re bound together by the soul-crushing, life-destroying need to cram our achievements, personalities, ambitions and desires into two perfectly formatted yet eye-catching pages of lies.

No matter how hard I try, and I can assure you I gave up trying long ago, my CV reads as an excruciatingly boring and unimportant list of jobs sewn together with cringing attempts to make me sound like a professional, confident and competent person. Trouble is, in so doing it also makes me sound like a complete arsehole.

Read yours right now, if you can bear to. I start retching and getting stomach cramps when I so much as click on the filename. I haven’t touched a printed copy of it for years and I’m pretty sure my hands would catch fire if I did. Read someone else’s too, preferably someone you like or at least care about.

Done it? Do you still like yourself and the other person? Unlikely. It’ll probably take a few weeks for that to wear off, so avoid them and your own reflection for at least a fortnight and stay away from sharp objects.

In my long-since-abandoned quest to write the perfect CV I discovered one simple fact: it doesn’t exist. It’s as mythical as the Holy fucking Grail. If you believe you have the perfect CV then you are most definitely wrong, and you are most definitely the same pompous wanker your CV makes you out to be.

Like so many of life’s shit, shit aspects, this all began at school: the personal statement. The pressure placed upon us to knock up 300 words of ground-breaking and original self-promotion to make our UCAS application shine brighter than any other was almost intolerable. They rammed the importance of getting it right so far home, I became convinced they had rigged up my house with IEDs and would let them rip if they identified even one stray word they considered waffle.

And so yet another generation of exaggerated and often fictional achievements was born, each one more gut-achingly arrogant than the last.

Wouldn’t life be so much better for every single person if we collectively decided to just be honest? People would then get to know who they were actually going to be working with, rather than a turbo-extreme version of them. Jobseekers would have half a chance of getting matched to a job that actually suited them. All up it would make the job market fairer.

And therein lies the fatal flaw; the job market isn’t fair. It’s a shallow place biased towards those who can make their mundane existence sound like they’re packing the kind of intellect, drive and productivity to make an entire Cambridge college shudder.

The last time I attempted to do my CV without going into anaphylactic shock, I employed the help of a friend who’d spent some time on the receiving end of job applications. I completely submitted to her will, as another piece of conflicting advice on how best to do it would have resulted in me going a bit Michael Douglas Falling Down. Word for word I put together the CV she advised. The result? An interview.

What got me this interview was the extremely creative inclusion of things I neither know nor care about. What got me this interview was two pages that sounded like they were describing a cunt of significant proportions. Within minutes of sitting down it was clear. They knew it and I knew it and the bright red face and stuttering didn’t help; I just wasn’t the cunt they were hoping for.

In a way I felt sorry for them. I could have saved us all the pain and humiliation we experienced that day if I’d just been honest from the start.

So I’ve decided to put a CV together that is completely truthful. Who knows whether or not I’ll send it out, but at least I’ll be able to read it without hyperventilating and feeling like my eyes are going to explode in my head.

This is a call to arms and I’m going to launch the first attack: I work because I have to, and so do you. That’s the truth. Stop expecting me to dress it up with fake enthusiasm and stop believing people whose only talent is to exaggerate their own brilliance. They’re just the same as you and me. Their only true gift is being able to make waffle sound less shit.


‘Music Nazi’, that’s what they call me. I question their terminology but not the sentiment behind it.

I’m not a forthright man, unless I’m drunk. If I’m drunk I’ll be as forth and right as you like based on how many drinks I’m bought, dancing like the chimp I am to the foaming tankard waved to and fro.

I’ll change my mind about anything if you give me a convincing enough argument. Some of the best conversations I’ve had in my life involve me being wrong, because if you can’t admit you’re wrong how can you learn? I consider what I say before I say it, and I only say what I mean and believe. Taciturn I call it. Miserable cunt they call it.

But they’re wrong, and especially when they’re talking about music. And when I say they, I mean you.

Some of the music you love is fine. That vintage Motown you love, that’s great. Some bands that still get in the charts are good, like Elbow and Linkin Park. I appreciate Springsteen without owning any of his music. If you tell me the best singer ever is Michael Jackson or Elvis, I’ll disagree, but understand.

If you tell me to listen to the new Rhianna, or 5 Seconds of Summer, or Bruno Mars, I will tell you in no uncertain terms to fuck off away and out of it.

I know what I’m talking about, you see. I spent many years in a village so far from civilisation we had to share a tape player between 60 people and most of the time it played The Wurzels. I came to cherish real music and what it can do, which is mostly prevent me going on a rampage that would make Dunblane look like the forthcoming reboot of the Telebubbies with a little added vim.

Nobody who meets me for the first time could ever tell, but music matters to me comfortably more than anything else on Earth. Friends, family and the last landlord who used the words ‘on the house’ to me – I’d mourn them all, but if music was somehow ended I’d kill everything like one of those hidden bombs left by aliens millennia ago that will one day send the planet whirling out of its orbit like a toddler who shouldn’t have let go of the merry-go-round.

I don’t like things because they’re cool or unknown. I like the Delta blues because the first time I heard Charley Patton the world seemed to make a little more sense. Hearing the riff from Ziggy Stardust for the first time, in a history lesson with the earphone going up my sleeve so I didn’t have to listen to Mrs Turner banging on about the fucking Industrial Revolution, changed me forever. When I heard Johnny Rotten snarling through God Save The Queen I wanted to both kiss and headbutt whoever was nearest, though unfortunately that was also Mrs Turner and that day didn’t end well for anyone.

When I was 17 I heard Caught By The Fuzz and that song alone made the whole late summer worthwhile. The Kinks should all be knighted, if you’re of a mind to give a shit about the Queen and her sword. And the best album I’ve ever heard is by the Boo Radleys and if you think that’s somehow related to a diabolical song about waking up on a beautiful morning you’re either a lunatic or a cunt.

I spend half my life hunting for new music rather than listening to the same old bollocks like everyone else seems to. I haven’t heard the first Stone Roses LP in years because the next time I do I want it to be a happy surprise rather than the second time that week. In the last few days I’ve listened to albums by Samoans, SPC ECO, Real Friends, Colt 45 and Late Bloomer, and a pat on the back to anyone who has heard of any of them. Whether or not they’re any good isn’t the point – they might be, that’s the point. I live by Peelism, even if it killed my god.

You’re entitled to your opinion but I’m entitled to tell you to stop saying it out loud when it plainly makes you look as sane as Harold Camping. When you start banging on about the fucking Beatles, just understand that while they were fine, in their time, there was better music before and there has been better music since. When you decide it’s time someone showed me that I’m wrong about Queen, that they’re actually seriously impressive musicians and not just a prototype of the fucking Darkness, please understand that I will shout over you until you stop, much like Freddie Mercury would have had he not done the decent thing and shut the fuck up permanently.

When you claim I’m closed-minded because I won’t countenance some heinous jazz record, find a subject you actually know something about and leave me to explain to the world why jazz must be stopped. Take your AC/DC, your REM, your Red Hot fucking Chili Peppers, and leave quickly before I start chipping bits off CDs to slice you up.

And before you trot out the predictable ‘Nazi’ line, please understand that I’m the least prejudiced man alive and I want Mumford and Sons just as dead as Beyoncé. I am right, your music taste is incorrect if incompatible with mine, and if you can’t see what’s wrong with Rod Stewart you’re fucking way beyond redemption and edging towards dementia.

Top-notch moral compass

Society is often really quick to tell you that some shit just isn’t cool.

I’m not talking about wearing the wrong color to a wedding, or asking a war vet how many men he’s murdered with his bare hands. No, I’m talking about feeling good about yourself.

See, if you feel good about yourself, for any reason really, say you are particularly good at cooking a certain dish, or are just a genuinely honest person, you can’t just tell people that. Really, try telling someone that you’re very honest or that your moral compass is top notch. You know what they’ll probably call you? A ‘self-righteous prick’.

Some people will think what the hell – you are a self-righteous prick if you go out of your way to tell someone how awesome you are. But to them it doesn’t matter if the context fits or not. If you’re better than someone in a trait that is considered good or desirable, and you happen to talk about it appropriately, you’re immediately seen as a narcissist whose only desire is to have everyone know how great you are (even if you are really fucking great).

My girlfriend and I are fighting right now about our relationship, which is temporarily long distance (no, I don’t care about your opinion on that, at least I have a girlfriend, dick). The problem doesn’t matter. What matters is that my girlfriend is a standoffish woman. She makes everything a ‘you vs me’ affair.

Conversely, I feel it should be ‘me & you vs problem’. Am I technically the better person for having this point of view? Possibly. The point is, when I explain that to her, I sound like a ‘self-righteous prick’, just because of the more efficient way I deal with things. Fuck me, right?

If you’re a good person, the world (and your girlfriend) wants you to keep it to yourself. But if you’re just a ball of fucking badass morality and goodness and it helps you solve problems in life, don’t feel like a dick for pointing out that you are a good guy or girl. Feel good that you can say such positive things about yourself.

But if you instead rub in the fact that you’re the epitome of human nature, I have bad news – you’re not. You’re an asshole. Get over yourself. And if you think the former is still self-righteous, understand this: just because someone is good at something and they feel good about themselves for it, this does make them a self-absorbed douchebag – so long as they don’t use their good traits as a means to put down others.

Let’s all love each other. We all are good and bad. And if my girlfriend still can’t see that, well shit, what hope do I have of convincing you?

Get your arse checked or you could die

As I get older it’s finally dawning on me that my body isn’t what it was a few years ago. Sure I’m only in my mid thirties but sometimes I may as well be a fucking octogenarian given the shocking way my body (just about) works. OK, that may be a slight exaggeration, but in general I am not the person that I used to be and it is starting to piss me right off.

So what, you may ask, has caused me such distress over the past couple of weeks? The fact that my hearing has been reduced to the level of some old codger who has to use an ear trumpet to hear anything. The cause? A plug of wax the size of a football lodged in my tube.

Could I move the bastard thing? Could I hell. Believe me I tried absolutely everything; cotton buds, baby wipes (don’t ask), bog roll, even shaping my finger and thumb into a sort of plunger didn’t fucking work.

I have to make an appointment to see the ear irrigation specialist at my doctors. After a week of getting the wife to squirt fucking olive oil into my ear (aren’t ears for hearing, not drizzling bloody salad oil into?) to apparently “loosen” the plug, off to the surgery I trot.

After a few minutes staring at such joy-inspiring leaflets as “Get your arse checked or you could die” and “If your balls are lumpy you could die” the ‘specialist’ appears and beckons me in.

After taking a seat she nicely explains to me that “this procedure could perforate your ear-drum and/or cause you permanent hearing damage”. Nice. I’m then handed something which looks like some kind of futuristic piss pot, that I am instructed to hold under my ear to stop her getting wet. Then she goes crazy squirting my ear with what feels like the force of about 15,000 pressure washers whilst giving me a commentary on the amount of fucking shit that is coming out of my ear. Thanks for that.

Anyway, long story short I never had problems with mutant earwax as a child or even up until my thirties, but all of a sudden as I approach forty it seems that I develop enough of the stuff to keep a candle factory in business indefinitely.

If this is one of the signs of old age creeping up on me it can just fuck off and do one!


Driving is undoubtedly one of the most frustratingly enjoyable things to do in life, right up there with anal. Amazingly fun for you, the driver; perhaps less fun for the person in the seat beside you.

I love driving fast. I love taking a sharp corner at just the right speed so you don’t roll over, feeling just a touch of a rush. Passing that car in the 200m straight with a semi barreling down on you in the other lane. Just because I can. Like anal, it’s pretty great, almost all of the time, for one of us.

As with the other thing though, people inevitably have to go and ruin it. For every great story about anal, you’ve got 10 friends that tell you about the time they got shit on their dick and it was gross, the girl just wasn’t into it, you didn’t know how to prep an anus, and she cried, or you cried, or you both cried together.

You then never want to even try anal, and that’s a shame because it’s really quite great. Sure it takes some doing, but trust me, you’ll love it, she’ll love it, and your landlord who finds the tape when you moved out will love it most of all. It’s the same with motherfucking driving. You’re just dealing with a lot more assholes.

And that’s aside from the fuckers on the road, we’ll get to them in a minute. You’ve got to deal with all the motherfuckers at home, or at work, in your family, and worst of all in the passenger seat telling you what the fuck to do. “Hey I saw you leaving work yesterday, you just blew through that yellow, it’s much better to just stop and wait for the light.”

It doesn’t ever fucking stop. Everyone and their mother is a great driver, they all know what’s best. Why then does your car have a dent in the rear bumper? Oh, you got rear ended? Was it because you stopped for the fucking yellow? It was! Really not your fault you say, it was the asshole in that black M3 who was going too fast. Oh I see, he thought you’d run the yellow and you didn’t because you can’t fucking drive.

Seriously, get a fucking bus pass. You can’t park, you can’t signal, your car’s so shitty you can’t even get up to speed to merge into traffic properly. It doesn’t corner well so you go slow as fuck on my nice mountain roads. Maybe it does play the latest Skrillex song well since you dumped your welfare into a “Sick fucking sub brah”, but you still can’t fucking drive.

Yes mom, I’ll drive home carefully. Yes mom, I wear a seat belt. Yes mom, I use my lights at night. Now really those things are just common sense – it’s dark, you need to see, turn your goddamn lights on. I like being alive, so when that other asshole hits me I want to be strapped in.

This is what gets me though: drive carefully. Okay yeah, I’ve made mistakes on the road, though not many. Never crashed, never injured anyone, myself included, never caused a wreck and left before I saw any damage. Of course I drive carefully, because I fucking love it.

I do go fast. Really fast. I’m always at the speed limit, and sometimes I’m over it. Usually. Because of this speed though, I have to pay even more attention to the goddamn road and the assholes on it than you sitting in the left lane going 60 when the posted speed was 80.

And please learn to deal with rain. I live in a city that sees a solid six months of very cold winter, every year. We deal with snow, ice, and Asian drivers constantly, and yet rain turns the biggest man in his new Merc into a blubbering baby. Ice scares me so much more, as does snow, yet rain is what makes my city crawl. It’s just water. If you know how to drive, which since you’re on the fucking road you should, you can deal with a little hydroplaning.

So as far as I can tell driving is amazing, the same as anal. It’s great for you, most of the time. Everyone else is just out to ruin a good bit of fun for you. So drive, as fast as you want, in whatever lane you want, with or without familial advice and fuck that asshole, ‘cause fuck you.

It is worse

Next time you’re about to utter the words “it could be worse” to someone, look around you for a vertical, solid surface. Something made of bricks preferably, or concrete. It needs to be a fair distance because you’ll need a run up. Start far enough back so you’ll really work up some speed by the time you get to it, but not too far, you don’t want to be out of breath by the time you reach it. Start running towards it, increasing your pace as it gets nearer. You want to be at maximum speed on impact.

You’re aiming to either knock yourself out or at least lose a couple of teeth. If neither of those things happen, you weren’t running fast enough you lazy fuck, so go back and do it again.

What we’re trying to create here is an association in your mind with that arse-rippingly wank piece of anti-advice and extraordinary levels of pain, a sense of imminent danger and the threat of possible disfigurement.

Had I the time, I would decorate a leather glove with some broken glass and roam the planet tracing every utterance of this phrase. Wearing my glove, I would land a series of jabs on the faces of the wankers who said it, until they resembled a raw beef patty. I would deliver each blow with the words “It could be worse! You could have a nest of live spiders living in your abdomen!” or “It could be worse! You could have just married Katie Price!”.

As I don’t have the time to mete out such punishment to each and every inane idiot who confuses clichéd nonsense with sound advice, I’ll trust that you’ll take care of this yourself. Whether you’re the type to use this phrase yourself (in which case get off this website now, I mean it, fuck off, we don’t like your sort round here) or you’re a victim of this and have had your pity-party gate-crashed by this drivel, it’s time to take a stand.

Let me tell you something; when I feel shit I reserve the right to feel as shit as I want as much as I want. I want to dwell on it, and be insufferably self-indulgent for as long as I can stand the over-powering stench of my own self-loathing. You are not invited to help me start composing a list of all the things that could be happening that are worse than whatever it is I’m fucked off about. And god forbid, don’t you dare start trying to make me think about other people and how much better off than them I may or may not be. Because I can tell you, without exception, I do not, in any way, give a fuck.

We have got to put an end to this. And if we can’t do that, then we will at least be able to see these cunts coming a mile off with their terribly scarred faces. Does anybody know what sort of glue will do for sticking glass shards to a leather glove?

Coming next; why the use of the phrase “Cheer up! It might never happen!” should result in the speaker being dipped in ox blood and chucked in a room with a wild tiger.