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.
Continue reading The good news
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.
Continue reading Puff and wheeze
When I started writing these moaning missives many years ago, I made the early error of over-personalising them. It swiftly became as tiresome to me writing about the woes of my own life as it did for any poor bastard whose eyes alighted on them.
What do we want? Shit films and litter! When do we want it? About once every three weeks on average! So instead I fed the public’s insatiable desire for nonsense about nothing much and what a roaring success I’ve made of it. But something’s come up that I have to address, something that involves me pretty directly. And it involves you, because you’re all bloody well at it.
Please, for the love of the sweet suffering saints, stop asking me if I’ve had any news about the vaccine.
Continue reading Licking lamp posts
The wailing, oh Jesus the wailing.
Something grim has happened to somebody in a nearby cell. She’s trying to broadcast its full misery, but the walls are too thick to render her harrowing “It’s spread to my aaaaarrrrrrse!” as anything clearer than the terminal howl of a bombed Palestinian.
Still it’s less annoying than the arsehole who seems to spend most of the day scraping chairs across the floor above, or whoever fills many hours with the sounds of glass being squeegeed, despite the fact the windows don’t open so I can’t push them out.
As you know I aim to provide a public service with the screeching bullshit I write. So here I’d like to tell you about my experience as an NHS inpatient, so you know what to expect when you eventually take your first tentative step on the road to the hospice. So far I’ve been incarcerated in HMP UCLH for 21 days with no imminent prospect of parole. You get less for, oh, something to do with Barnard Castle. What do you want from me, topical?
Continue reading A few Poirots
Truly, I feel for you. Your job, family and life in general teeter on the rim of a slop bucket of decisions made by a government so erratic it makes Jair Bolsonaro look like Jacinda Ardern. Old Aunt Doris, may her Covid-riddled cadaver rest in peace, left everything to the bloody cat shelter just as your pot to piss in sprung a mortgage-sized leak. And as if things couldn’t get any worse they’re threatening to make you go back to work, ending the laziest and therefore greatest few months of your adult life.
Still, you’ve got your health. So quit fucking moaning.
Continue reading Sunset on the Whittington Riviera
What one day resembles Utopia, the next looks like Uttoxeter. Turns out if you let people do whatever they want at home all day every day, their favourite new hobby is to moan they’re bored.
Certainly the things people are doing to try to fill time feel a lot like barrel-scraping. Take gardening, when it’s not cold as a snowman’s carrot outside, because a week and a half of quarantine has completely reversed global warming and we’re now a fortnight away from woolly mammoths setting up market stalls in Aberystwyth.
Continue reading Shake, rattle and roll
This one’s serious then, is it?
Serious enough for politicians to admit that a few people might have to work from home for a while. The devastating effect this’ll have on the boss class – oh fuck, if they don’t need to be here to do these jobs, what’s the point of me? – was conveyed in the twitchy demeanour of Britain’s buffoon in chief, flanked by the experts he’s so recently branded as bogeymen. If staring about a podium wildly for help is ever a paying position, he’ll be fine, even as everyone who does a non-computer job is handed their last meagre pay slip and told to make it last because paper doesn’t grow on trees.
Before boffins had had the chance to give it the catchy sci-fi name Covid-19, red-top comics read by builders had planted ‘coronavirus’ into simple minds and that’s what we’re stuck with. How many of us are stuck with it, God only knows.
I heard some figures yesterday: the absolute worst scenario for people in the UK getting this virus is 80%. It kills roughly one in every hundred people who get it. Given the UK’s population of nearly 67 million, that would mean that the top projection of deaths from this is a bit over half a million.
A proper cull!
Continue reading The path of a 355
There’s a baby on the Tube. Sitting in a pushchair, cooing away, dribbling down a rattle and grinning at strangers as though we live in a world where not every stranger is a rampant paedophile. It’s placid, it’s cute and it’s happy. Everybody loves a happy baby.
Then it coughs. And not the cough you’d expect from a human that size – the full hack, crackling like an old man 30 fags deep into a 50-a-day habit, with a pipe for pudding.
Continue reading Terrors of the deep
A milestone birthday. Today marks 40 years since I was forcefully extracted from inside a screaming 16-year-old girl, for once not behind the tombola at the local fete while ‘close-knit’ villagers bay for vengeance.
Yes, today is the day I fill out the second half of my dirty old man application form. If anyone tries telling you 40 isn’t old, ask them to imagine how they look through the eyes of someone half that age. Youth is the future, as a confused Jeremy Corbyn will soon find out when they euthanise him in favour of some infant in a suit.
Continue reading Behind the tombola
Vegetarians are lunatics; I think we can all agree on that. Somehow, the ever-reducing number of guilt-free pleasures available to the western consumer do still include a meat-laden meal, prepared to perfection and presented in such style it makes you glad you were able to dismiss that definition of ‘pearl barley’ you had to look up the other week as the ravings of a madman.
Oh but hang on – you’ve been led astray. Your mind has wandered off to a land of cattle shaped like deliciously tender and well-seasoned steaks, done to within a split-second of perfection with juices emerging lazily to blend with your mashed polenta. You’re picturing succulent pieces of chicken reclining in a polpette di pollo, laced with garlic and flat-leafed parsley and sprinkled with parmesan as though Edesia herself has blessed your majestic banquet. Roman goddess of food. Thank you Jimmy Wales.
Continue reading Chef’s special