Tag Archives: fun

In the light of the disco ball

“Come on, it’s fun!”

Listen, I’ll be the judge of what’s fun and what’s rigid sigmoidoscopy. And don’t think I can’t see the hidden message behind your eyes. You only want me to join in with this farce because you’re picturing me wheeling about the room like an epileptic in a ball pool.

I’m truly sorry but I’m going to have to do something I swore I’d never do. Hell has frozen over, water is running uphill and yes, that’s a flock of pigs up there. I’m going to quote Phil Collins.

I can’t dance.

And Eddy Grant: I don’t wanna dance. I have all the natural rhythm of a vomiting teenager on the Nemesis Inferno, but you already know that don’t you? That’s why you’re imploring me to gyrate comically while being stared at by angry young men with their top buttons done up and no socks, worried my mysterious new shapes are going to dazzle that one woman they’re all trying to impress who looks like Ronnie O’Sullivan.

At various points in a young, then less young, then fuck-me-was-there-that-much-grey-up-there-yesterday man’s life he’ll be faced with the nightmarish prospect of dancing. Sure, women can squirm about however they want and still earn the approving gaze of prospective paramours in your standard low-rent mating ritual. But men trying to dance consistently reminds us of a herd of lolloping wildebeest praying not to be the one picked off by hyenas cackling with hilarity beside the dancefloor. Do hyenas hunt wildebeest? In that bloody metaphor they do.

It starts with the school disco. I can still see the look of disappointment on Catherine Powell’s face as she watched me jerk awkwardly to Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport, back when the world was a far more innocent place. I knew at that moment my chances of marrying Catherine were but a speck of dust on a pinhead and my tiny little eight-year-old cock would have to remain nestled up against Luke’s lightsaber in its Star Wars pants for now, though of course we called them willies before Rolf got sent down.

Secondary school: further disgrace, compounded by the fashion sense of a retarded Scouser. It’s not my fault there was a brief period when shellsuits were in vogue though it’s probably my fault mine was turquoise. The whoosh of the material might have drowned out the gales of mirth but I didn’t need a sign language expert to recognise pointing and laughing as I twitched preposterously to New Kids on the Block or Technotronic.

By university I’d realised dancing was for buffoons. Obviously that can’t stop people thirsty for tears of humiliation suggesting a ‘nightclub’ in ‘Coventry’ as the ideal place for a man from southern England to finally become a man of the world. “Come on!” they said. “Come on!” they said again, more menacingly. So into the fray I allowed myself to be peer pressured and away to casualty they all went with sides split wide open. A face of embarrassed rage looks so much funnier in the light of the disco ball.

Only at 20, 21 did I establish that taking a drink with you onto the dancefloor is a cunning defence against utter ignominy. Sadly, feigning aloofness with a barely perceptible shuffle to Eminem’s latest act of aural cruelty marks you out as an enemy of fun, and that in itself entertains your friends (enemies) just as much. What precisely it is about dancing that turns a normal, judicious man into a self-conscious sack of shame I don’t know. I do know the next person who tries to make me dance will earn the type of abuse that would get you disappeared in most African countries.

As with everything a hypocrite says, there’s a caveat. I can mosh. Jumping up and down on the spot to music of genuine quality is a pleasure that makes me misty-eyed as it fades into the memory, though even today with enough cider in me I’ll occasionally show terrified infants how it’s done. If moshing was a sport I would be UK champion in the 100kg class, rebounding off innocents like lumps of iron in the early universe, which is apt given compared to your average young rock fan I’m large and impressive like a planet.

But these days the most dancing I face is at weddings. The odds of people with names like Lisa and Lee slipping Slipknot into their playlist are remote. It’s Come on Eileen and Sweet motherfucking Caroline and a City-to-win-the-league chance they’ll be loving angels instead for their first dance. Can’t we call it the last dance? I’d have a lot more time for weddings if that dance signified the final time a man has to sway ludicrously and pretend to be loving it, before a lifetime of leaning up against the bar graciously turning down invites to jive with the mere flick of his ring finger: sorry, I’m married, I don’t have to dance ever again.

You’re not getting away with it that easy my boy. Though picturing myself as an old man is like picturing anyone born this year seeing a single flake of snow during their lifetime, if I get there they’ll still have me wheeling myself onto the dancefloor for one last hurraaaaaahahahahahahaha. I’ll still hate it with a passion belying my angina and I’ll have to bring a half-full bag of piss with me but that’s all right – I exist for your gratification, so please ignore my protests of genuine discomfort. That new move I’m trying out, thrashing about on the floor, I call it ‘the coronary’.

There’s no hiding from it; even when you die your body twitches and spasms like it wants waking up before you go-go. I’m resigned to there being further instances of this exasperating fiasco no matter that I really don’t need to bet how good I look on the bloody dancefloor.

Just a few notes, though. I reserve the right to refuse to shout ‘OI’ in the first verse of the proper version of I’m a Believer. If I hear the slightest hint of a decent beat I will leap up and down for a full four minutes and welcome the horrified stares with devil horns aloft and my eyes filled with ROCK. If it’s dancing you want from me it’s the full monkey boy you’ll get, so prepare yourself for bruised shins, eyes out and whiplash.

Come on, it’s fun!

An attempt to be a birthday cake

I don’t have a problem with fun, I really quite enjoy fun. But just as I am void of desire to punctuate that statement with a dreaded exclamation mark or a giant smiley face, I don’t feel the need to literally dress fun up.

I’m rather despondent in the face of forced and contrived ‘fun’. You know – community fairs, team bonding experiences, party games, fancy dress.

Fancy. Dress. That is where my main contention lies. Obviously there have been moments in life when I’ve fully embraced and actually enjoyed it, but that has been on my terms, decided at my own leisure, created with my own thoughts and creative ability. Not thrust upon me.

When this fun becomes ‘fun’, it’s usually as a result of some type of enforced wearing of a party hat or novelty devil horns. The quotation marks around ‘fun’ come to quite literally represent these devil horns. The ring leader of this enforced fun, thrusting a pair of devil horns onto your head in an attempt to demonstrate ‘naughtiness’, because ‘naughtiness’ is fun.

No. No it is not.

And do you know what else isn’t fun? When your invite to a birthday/hen/stag/party event comes with a command that everyone must dress in the exact same fancy dress attire.

Ever since I lost a fancy dress competition to a bunch of grapes, whilst I was stood on stage inside a cardboard box in an attempt to be a birthday cake, any fancy dress has been tainted with a tinge of trauma.

Because how could I not win that competition? We were at a high street’s 100th birthday party – why would a bunch of grapes win instead of a birthday cake? It didn’t make sense, and it still doesn’t make sense. And because that certainty wasn’t certain enough, I will now instantly recoil in horror at the very mention of the awful words ‘fancy dress’, because whatever I attempt will not be good enough.

Maybe you’d think that if we’re all forced to dress in the same outfit then there’s no competition. We’re all in the same boat, or the same costume box – strength in numbers, united we stand, or something. Nope, that doesn’t make it better. It brings to the surface the horrific memories of the group fancy dress moments that defined my childhood. Because when I wasn’t strutting across a stage in a cardboard box, I could be found in a homeless man’s second favourite belonging – The Bin Bag.

Along with my two sisters, once a year, I’d knock on strangers’ doors dressed in refuse chic. All three of us, wandering the neighbourhood in bin bags. Black bin bags. This was Halloween trick or treating for countless years – the bin bags, a bit of rope, a rubber nose and a plastic hat, made up the costumes for us trio of witches.
And it was a conflicting time for us, this childhood relationship with bin bags – because they were also brought out on Christmas day to contain our presents. Why is Santa using our Halloween costumes for our presents? What is all that rubbish doing in my Halloween costume? Why are you dressed as a bin, dear child?

As the years went on, my fancy dress attempts became more elaborate and desperate – I was soon led by creative intuition and began to raid charity shops for inspiration (via the bin bags left outside containing donations, of course). Little Sharon had invited me to her 10th birthday party and I had never visited a house so grand. The birthday party was fancy dress, and of course I deemed it appropriate to visit the local charity shop to purchase a tight PVC skirt, lacy black top, black ankle boots and to spray my hair green. No, I hadn’t shunned the bin bags to transform myself into a saucy witch of the night, I was a PUNK. As a 10-year-old child, a reclusive, nose-bleeding, bed-wetting, cat poem-writing 10-year-old child, I was dressed as a ‘punk’.

So here we are many years and fancy dress attempts later, on the verge of a nosebleed at the stress and outrage that I’ve been invited to an event where a costume has been enforced upon me. You could argue, after reading the narrative of a snippet of my childhood fancy dress horrors, that an enforced costume is a blessing in actual disguise, because surely there won’t be a group enforcement of the bin bag, and what could be worse than that?

I’ll tell you what can be worse than that – the enforcement of bulk-bought costumes. By all means, announce the theme and announce that it would be nice if we all dressed as a similar collection of characters. But don’t announce that you’ve got your hands on a pile of BULK BOUGHT costumes. A job lot. Grab ‘em while they’re hot, girls. All this material for one paaaand.

Because why, why, why, why is it necessary to extinguish the slightest glimmer of fun that does exist in fancy dress, that is the creation of your own disastrous masterpiece, by dictating that we must all wear the exact same garment? Purchased from an online industrial warehouse of ‘FUN’, and no doubt stitched in a Bangladesh sweatshop, wherein which poor building regulations and health and safety standards caused it to come crashing down, killing 256 girls and maiming another 167. Because buildings cannot be held up by ‘FUN’ alone, you know.

For the sake of human rights, and before the UN gets involved, please reconsider inflicting this upon us. For now, I shall dig out my old bin bag to become the apparent Anti-’Fun’ Witch that you probably now consider me to be.