All posts by Chris

Death and/or explosions

I’ve lately had to accept that I’m quite limited in my entertainment selections. Much as I like to think of myself as a cultured man, I admit I’m prone to skepticism if something I’m watching doesn’t involve a vast catalogue of death and/or explosions. Or, er, counters being pushed over a ledge by a large machine on ITV, but never mind that.

I don’t often branch out into foreign language historical epics or character-based family sagas so it’s fair to say there will, inevitably, be blood. Right on cue there’s a new detective show on TV, name of DI Ray. I’ve not watched it yet but I anticipate wrapping myself in it like a blanket, familiar and smelling faintly of decay. I’d be confident in the big black chair if my specialist subject was crime thrillers, murder mysteries, police procedurals. It’s not difficult to become an aficionado since they’re all the fucking same.

We’re always told robots will one day write better stories than humans, but we must have crossed that Rubicon with cop shows years ago. The writers dribbling out the latest tales of ambitious constables and grizzled inspectors are so obviously thumbing the same book of predictable dialogue and worn clichés, it might as well have been written by a Gallagher brother.

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Where laughter goes to die

Withnail and I: bloody wonderful film. It ends with a quote I’ve had on my mind lately:

“I have of late, but wherefore I know not, lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises; and indeed, it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the Earth, seems to me a sterile promontory.”

Someone told me that’s actually a line from a little-known Shakespeare play but I’d rather hear it from a pissed-up Richard E Grant than some bellend in tights.

It’s been on my mind because I have, of late, lost all my mirth. More clearly, I’ve lost the ability to laugh. And boy, do I love a laugh.

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Transmissibility

It’s back in the headlines and the debate is intense: masks.

I’ve held my fire on it up to now. I pick opinions on a case-by-case basis, not led by the nose by people I always agree with, like a cow that goes into that special shed because all his mates did and what’s the worse that can happen?

But it’s time to heal this red-raw split in the populace once and for all. I’ve picked a stance.

You’re all wrong.

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Anchovies versus Worcester sauce

If someone had told me in my twenties that it’s possible to eat healthily and enjoy it, I’d have looked at them balefully, slowly shaking my head as I picked a piece of congealed lamb off yesterday’s T-shirt, contemplating microwaving it.

I mean, it’s obviously nonsense isn’t it? Everything I’ve ever had advertised at me suggests vegetables are dangerous and sweets are magnificent. It’s cheaper, easier and better in every way to crack open the Fanta than attempt to make or consume a ‘pineapple and spinach smoothie’. At no point did any of my parents suggest that broccoli is anything more than an obstacle between me and the ice cream that I want right in my face right fucking now please.

Apparently it didn’t cross their minds to teach me how to cook properly. So it’s with mixed feelings I report to you that, believe it or not, I now can.

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The Golden Age of Chris

The thing everyone likes about skills is they get better over time. Refining and smoothing your talents to become a master of your craft, to put novices and the young to shame and possibly even pick up an award or two. ‘Honing’ they call it, which sounds a bit like an Australian having a wank.

But sometimes it doesn’t work out that way. Form is temporary, but even class is fickle. And as I turned over my card to reveal a three of clubs, the realisation dawned.

I’m fucking rubbish. The Golden Age of Chris is over.

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Dragging Granny down the slip-road

Classic TV news footage: a line of white people in hi-vis gilets sitting in a line across a motorway. An angry bloke waving his arms strides forth from the gridlock and starts dragging some old dear along her arse. Glorious, nay Great Britain.

Today a bunch of people from something called Insulate Britain disrupted traffic for a while in the name of combating climate change. These are the same strand of protester as that Extinction Rebellion rabble and here they come again, messing up normal people’s lives, nobody supports it, the whole thing defeats the object, just go and get a job you workshy scum, and so on.

I’ve not asked a protester but I don’t think their ideal day involves sitting on a motorway. Like you, they’ve got better places to be. Maybe, therefore, let’s take the time to work out what they’re trying to achieve, and for whose benefit.

Everyone’s benefit. Absolutely everyone’s benefit.

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The good news

Every morning I wake to the radio. ‘Breakfast TV’ is not for me. Stories of fruit shaped like Keith Chegwin and how many tiny Union Jacks John Redwood has stapled to his member this morning are insufficient to rouse me towards the rage on which my existence relies.

I wake to the BBC World Service, because believe it or not I’m capable of having my own thoughts for the day without some holy fool calling out my sins on the Today programme. Some days, though, I long for the murder of an alpaca to be the most important item on the agenda. Today, in what’s still theoretically the silly season while all the important people are off ‘not holidaying’ in the west of England, I awoke to a stunning parade of grim news stories that seemed to herald the end of the world.

Is news all bad all the time now? Is there any good news, or are we fucked? I’m here to tell you that there’s plenty of good news if you look hard enough for it.

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Puff and wheeze

One of many unexpected benefits of life-threatening illness, that they don’t often tell you about in the brochures, is that it puts Weight Watchers to shame.

At the start of 2018 I was dragging the better part of 100kg around with me, and before we go any further, because I’ve had this conversation many times: it’s kilograms now. “But what’s that in proper money?” says everyone, thinking it makes them look like they’re upholding some wonderful British tradition, like slavery or the plague. Shut up and get used to it, because it’s what hospital scales use and one day you too will grace them with your sagging torso.

And then the fun started. On my first roll of the dice I lost 10kg, although most of that was shuddered off in horror at the prospect of a consultant named Alan gently cupping my testicles with cold if surprisingly smooth hands. Second roll it was another 10kg. At 80kg I was quite pleased, sprightly even. Another couple of goes at this and I’ll be able to see my cock.

Why am I telling you this? Because the number’s started creeping back up. And to arrest this slide back into corpulence I have to do two things.

First, fix my diet. That’s done – drink is a protected characteristic of course, but these days I cook well and eat less.

Second: exercise. Oh, fuck.

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And so do dreams of greatness dwindle

In the darker recesses of 2021, I once found myself on Twitter. I know. It’s been a hard year for us all.

I don’t know how I came to be looking at the feed of a man whose surname’s a mashup of two giant US companies I wouldn’t touch with a Zimbabwean dollar, but so it was I happened upon Dr Simon Ubsdell. I think it was around the time there was some slapstick fishing dispute in the Channel Islands. Thus:

‘Now Jersey. Eventually the Royal Navy will be tasked with defending a small boulder somewhere in the Thames Estuary. And so do dreams of greatness dwindle.’

Whether the country of my birth and current last known location deserves the word ‘Great’ is one of the principal dividing lines of our society. The perceived loss of greatness is an outrage to many, including Dr Ubsdell by the sounds of it.

Not to me. Who the hell needs greatness anyway?

Continue reading And so do dreams of greatness dwindle