November Can Blog Off

As far as months go in the UK, November must surely be one of the worst.

Think about it. If we all accept that the spring and summer months are the best six (which we do, and if you disagree with me then frankly you’re wrong), that essentially leaves September through to February to fight among themselves for the title of shittiest month of the year.

Except, September often has semi-decent weather, October has Halloween and half-term to look forward to, and December has fucking Christmas, so now we’re down to our final three.

I’ll make a case for February, because not only is that the month when I celebrate my birthday, but, thanks to Valentine’s Day, it is also the one date in the calendar where everyone has their best chance of getting laid.  

GIFs of Hot Guys Winking | POPSUGAR Celebrity

All of which leaves us with January and November in the grand final and, while I suspect January takes the overall crown for the majority of people, don’t let November off the hook so easily. After all:

  1. The clocks have just gone back, so as soon as the kids come home from school, it’s immediately dark outside, which means you can’t really throw them out into the garden for a few hours to kill each other where you can’t hear them.
  2. After the potential for a few final days of ‘autumn sunshine’ in October, you can kiss goodbye to anything other than biting wind and howling rain for the foreseeable future. Plus, the chance of starting to feel all festive with some potential snow is still a few weeks away.
  3. All of the trees (well, the deciduous ones, at least) have now well and truly shed their annual supply of leaves, which in October gives the pavements a beautiful autumnal canvas, but thanks to November’s rain they are now just soggy mulch, serving no purpose other than to make you slip over, or, worse, to disguise some unclaimed dog shit underneath.
  4. There is not a single date within the month of November to look forward to (apart from perhaps the 30th when we get to see the back of it for another year). Ok, my mum and wife celebrate their birthdays in November, which is nice, but that just means I’m skint – at a time when I really need to start thinking about buying Christmas presents – and the pressure is on me to come up with ideas of what to get each of them two months running. Plus, while I suppose Bonfire Night can be considered an event of sorts, all it seems to do these days is split the nation between the pet owners who hate all the loud noises, and the people who get fed up of the pet owners complaining.

So, yeah, January is probably the most widely-hated month of the year, but November is right behind it in the title race, and in some ways that makes it even more pathetic, because it’s can’t even succeed at being shit.

However, there is one other good reason why November is such an utterly terrible month, and that’s because all the major stores and supermarkets choose November to really push their annual assault on the nation – their Christmas adverts.

John Lewis Christmas Advert 2020: What is it about and who sings this  year's song? | The Independent

Don’t get me wrong, that first glimpse of the Coca Cola truck gives me a lovely warm feeling inside, and I cried like a little girl over that fucking John Lewis penguin a few years back, but nowadays it just seems like all the major stores and supermarkets follow the same boring formula:

Rules for Christmas Adverts

  1. First, choose an already slow and dreary song for the soundtrack.
  2. Slow the tempo down by at least half, then record it using ONLY a piano (all other musical instruments are strictly prohibited).
  3. Employ a female solo artist (preferably someone relatively unknown, so you can later claim you ‘discovered her’), to half-whisper/half-breathe the lyrics with as little enthusiasm as she can possibly muster.
  4. Create a cute main character (animals, young children and pensioners are all popular choices), then place them in an utterly depressing situation. Preferably, make them look really fucking lonely.
  5. Bring it all back together with a happy ending, then shoehorn in a Christmas message, while claiming that this is what your company proudly represents throughout the year, even though we all associate the brand with something entirely different (e.g. John Lewis = overpriced goods for the middle-classes; Aldi = the random ‘aisle of shite’ and packing at potentially fatal velocity; Amazon = not paying any tax, etc.)
  6. The main aim is to try as hard as you possibly can to make everyone cry. Never mind that Christmas is meant to be a happy time, you want your customers blubbing for the entire month, because the more people you can make cry, the more successful your advert is deemed to be.
Is it Okay For Men to Cry? | The Modern Man

Why can’t just one of the major stores be realistic each year, and portray Christmas like it really is for most ordinary people?

Ok, contrary to what Facebook might think, when they repeatedly suggest I should advertise any vacant jobs I might have available, my page is not a business. If it was, it would be an utterly terrible one. In the nearly-five years since I first launched ‘Confessions of a Middle-Raged Dad’, I have not made a single penny from it. Not one. In contrast, I have spent hundreds of pounds trying to gather as many followers as I possibly can (had I known before this year that it would only take one post about a ‘cockney bellend’ to go viral, I’d have saved the cash).

Nevertheless, if I do ever launch a product range (perhaps selling merchandise with quirky slogans printed on them, like ‘Go To Bed, Debbie’, ‘Don’t Answer The Fucking Questions’, ‘Tired as a Git’ and ‘#feral’), then you can be damn sure my Christmas advert will at least be realistic.

For example, picture the scene:

The camera pans along a dark street at night, while the first few bars of ‘Fairytale of New York’ begin playing in the background (look, it’s not even in my top three Christmas songs, but it’s by far the most appropriate for what follows, and I plan to use the original version, not some barely-whispered horse-shit piano cover by some twat like Ellie Goulding).

Ellie Goulding Wants To Be A Teen Again Very Badly On 'Sixteen' - MTV

The camera continues down the street until it stops outside a rundown looking house with the lights still on, then zooms in and enters the living room. Above the fireplace is a clock which shows the time to be just before midnight, and either side it are two large sacks with the names ‘Ollie’ and ‘Isaac’ printed on them, but both are flat and clearly empty. Underneath them sits a half-drunk bottle of sherry, and an open box of mince pies.

A man’s voice starts singing the lyrics to ‘Fairytale of New York’, but it quickly becomes apparent that he is not only a worse singer than Shane MacGowan, he also sounds even more inebriated (if that were possible) and, as a result, he gets some of the lyrics wrong.

As the camera angle moves toward the sofa, the man is slumped cross-legged on the carpet, with mountains of unwrapped presents stacked around him, and mince pie crumbs nestled on top of his Christmas-jumper clad belly.

He continues to sing, drunkenly out of tune, while looking from the presents to some large rolls of Christmas wrapping paper and then back again. He appears to be fiddling with something between his legs (hey, no, come on folks, you’re better than that) and, as we zoom in, it transpires he has a roll of Sellotape in his lap.

He glances at the clock and looks exhausted. Then, his face brightens slightly as he manages to locate the end of the Sellotape, and as he frantically picks at the roll, a weight seems to lift from his shoulders.

But, as soon as the Sellotape begins to peel away from the roll, it suddenly splits, leaving the man holding a useless four-inch stretch of tape which narrows to a point. He angrily shakes his hand as if to discard the tape, but it only becomes more entangled around his fingers.

The man stops singing and begins to quietly sob, as the camera pans back, out of the living room window and back to the cold street.

Moving upwards toward the empty night sky, the message ‘Have a Middle-Raged Christmas’ appears on the black, starlit screen, and when the words eventually fade away, we hear the man wail pitifully before, half-sobbing, he whimpers ‘For fuck’s sake’.

***

Look, I doubt it will sell much, but at least mine is realistic.

Thanks for reading x

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A Rush of Blog to the Head

On Tuesday evening I went for a run

My first in eight weeks, I’ll admit it was fun

I know that I’ve grumbled and said in the past

That running is shit, but that wouldn’t last

People said “It’s addictive, becomes like a drug”

And I think I might’ve now caught the bug

So, for something I’ve always said that I hate

I take it all back – because now I feel great.

*

Having not run in ages, I suffered with nerves

As I undressed after work and noticed my curves

I donned my compression top, so I’d look my best

(it constricts my belly, and flattens my chest)

It’s bad enough for ladies spotting my wobbly bits

Without getting jealous of these massive tits

I’d rather they focused on my legs and ass

Craning their necks as I go flying past.

*

I put on my shorts and my snazzy blue shoes

My bright yellow top so I’m easily viewed

(The driving in Sandbach is generally shit

and it’s bad enough running without being hit)

I needed music, so grabbed my mp3

Did some warm-up stretches and went for a wee

And then I was ready, so despite feeling crap

I opened the door and set my Strava app.

*

I left our estate to the main Sandbach road

Plodding along like a bright yellow toad

But I felt pretty good and soon realised

I was enjoying a pastime I’d always despised

Although if you are local and happened to pass

(no doubt craning your neck to check out my ass)

You might have noticed me put on an act –

(look like I was dying, to be more exact).

*

I started to realise my speed and physique

And the fact that I’m clearly at my fitness peak

Could attract some attention and cause a backlash

Upset other runners, or make drivers crash

So, I slowed down my pace and limped as I ran

To make you all think I’m a wreck of a man

After months of not running, it wouldn’t be fair

To be the world’s greatest athlete, make others despair.

*

I pretended my breathing was laboured and strained

My limbs were on fire, my energy drained

I rubbed my right hip and clutched at my chest

Faked pain in my knee, looked fairly depressed

I started to cry like a little lost boy

When they were really tears of unbridled joy

I pretended I was struggling and generally unfit

(which is why I stopped and walked for a bit).

*

After all, I realised my pace was so brisk

The 5k world record was likely at risk

But what was the point if my time wouldn’t count

No medal or trophy, no podium to mount?

I couldn’t see Guinness sending someone to mine

To be waiting with a stopwatch at the finish line

So I delayed my record to a future run

And continued the act to fool everyone.

*

I slowed to a walk, then for any sceptic

I heaved in a hedge and faked getting sick

If you went past, you just might have seen

I brought up something quite sticky and green

But that wasn’t phlegm, the performance was fake

(it was actually my earlier enzyme shake)

While you may have spotted me heaving and pale

What I actually produced was some digested kale.

*

I then struggled on and developed a cough

Told a few passing motorists to kindly ‘fuck off’

(that part was real if you happened to see

since the drivers in question had tried to kill me)

I reached the half-way point at Sandbach train station

Then waddled back home like a wounded crustacean

A few more times I walked for a bit

To maintain the façade I was generally shit.

*

Despite my performance, a sprint’s in my genes

So nearer to home I gave it the beans

Flew down our road and at the finish line ducked

Then nearly keeled over and claimed to be fucked

The truth was I’d smashed it and really felt ace

Despite the anguished look on my face

I unlocked the door and stepped in our house

Ready to be met by my proud kids and spouse.

*

I’d run over 5k and despite a few rests

I was delighted – a personal best

(ok, that’s not true, as the furthest I’ve run

was nearly eight miles in baking hot sun)

But my first run in weeks was still a good test

and back then I didn’t have this belly and breasts

I felt pretty awesome, so I’ll admit that I lied

When I told the boys that I thought I had died.

*

Ok, I was limping and holding my back

And I’m sure I felt sweat creeping down my arse crack

My breathing was laboured, my cheeks had a blush

But that was just from the endorphin rush

If you saw me in pain, I was only lying

I bloody love running, it’s my new favourite thing

In fact, I’ve already planned my next run day….

I should be good to go again some time next May.

*

Thanks for reading x

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Don’t Tell The Blog

I have mentioned before that I work as a personal injury solicitor, and, contrary to popular belief, we are not all ‘ambulance chasers’ or ‘parasites’, who get turned on by the slightest glimpse of a car crash.

We do not all go weak at the knees when faced with the prospect of making a little money (and, believe me, due to Government cuts over the past decade, any money we do make from our work is most definitely ‘little’), out of someone else’s misfortune.

However, when it comes to metaphorical car crashes, particularly those of the television variety, I do get a little tingly of trouser.

I have, over the past few years, posted a few blog entries alluding to my fondness for truly awful TV, the stand-out examples being Eurovision (https://middlerageddad.com/2016/05/13/blog-bang-a-bang/) and ITV’s Take Me Out (https://middlerageddad.com/2016/03/11/let-the-blog-see-the-rabbit/) so I am happy to pause here for a minute while you go back and read both, if you like.

Good, weren’t they?

Anyway, for some reason, I derive great pleasure from laughing at idiots, and while many people find cringy television uncomfortable (for example, my wife cannot stand Alan Partridge), I relish watching programmes where the window-lickers of society gather together. By that, I am not suggesting for one second that I laugh at all stupid people, as that would be unkind, but if you happen to voluntarily feature on reality shows such as Take Me Out or Love Island, then, sorry, but you are fair game as far as I’m concerned.

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I am currently writing this week’s blog entry from my in-law’s, partly because Ollie and Isaac wanted to spend some quality time with their maternal grandparents (who live on the other side of the country to us, so we don’t see them as often), but also to give my wife a break from refereeing their constant squabbles – while I try to work.

Now, my in-laws do not have Sky, which is absolutely fine (although it does mean we’ll return home to a shit-load of recorded Masterchef Australia to catch up on, not to mention the fact Isaac is having Spongebob withdrawal symptoms), but the consequence of this is that I have encountered a few programmes over the past few days which I have either not seen in years, or have never seen at all.

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One such television ‘treat’ (and I say this knowing full well many of you will strongly disagree with such a description), is a programme called Don’t Tell The Bride. I honestly haven’t seen this show in years, but please believe me when I say there was literally nothing else on while eating my breakfast the other morning, so I decided to amuse myself by watching some utter planks get hitched.

If you have never seen Don’t Tell The Bride, let me explain the concept: a betrothed woman, more concerned with a few minutes of fame/ridicule on TV than actually having the wedding she wants, entrusts every single aspect of her big day to the man she plans to spend the rest of her life with – who is, almost exclusively, a total fuckwit. The groom-to-be is then given a budget to organise absolutely everything, including the ceremony itself, the dress, rings, bridesmaid’s outfits, hen party, stag do, food, vehicles, decorations… everything, and the couple must then remain apart for three weeks until the entire shit-show is unveiled to an invariably pissed off bride.

Why is she always pissed off? Well, that would be because the groom is always either medically stupid, completely ignorant of what his bride wants, or a totally selfish prick (but usually a combination of all three). However, I am yet to watch a single episode where the bride turns up to the ceremony and promptly calls the whole thing off in floods of tears – which is, if I’m honest, the only reason I turned it on this morning. I live in hope of one day catching an episode where the woman storms off, screaming at him to stick his ring firmly up his….. well, ring.

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Now, it is highly unlikely that anyone reading this blog entry knows the people who featured in the episode I watched while eating my breakfast on Wednesday morning, let alone appeared in it; but, just in case, I would like to apologise for the next four words in my blog:

What. The. Actual. Fuck?

Even by the very low standards already set by Don’t Tell The Bride in the past (and, I must stress, I have only watched a handful of the 164 episodes that apparently exist), the groom was a monumentally arrogant and selfish bellend; so, by association, his bride deserved everything she got – which, in case you hadn’t already seen the conclusion coming, was the polar-opposite wedding day to the one she had no doubt dreamed of for years. Still, if you choose to marry a prick, and then have your day filmed for a television show which thrives on men being utterly useless at planning anything important, you only have yourself to blame.

Anyway, here are my ten highlights from this particular episode, so the men among you can gauge whether you would have done a better job of planning the wedding (and, if you have read this far without getting a headache from the big words, I guarantee you would have), while the women can gasp in horror and thank your lucky stars you never made such a stupid decision (to have your wedding day filmed by E4 / marry this clown).

Strap yourselves in, folks…

1

Before separating for three weeks prior to their impending nuptials, the bride-to-be only specified one aspect of her wedding day which she was resolutely fixed on – she did not want it outdoors. In her words, she ‘doesn’t like t’cold’; so, naturally, the groom arranged for the wedding to take place on a fucking beach. Cracking start, lad.

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2

Then, for the hen do, which he forgot to organise until a few days before (as he was too preoccupied booking his stag do skydive instead), he arranged for his beloved and her girly chums to have a lovely relaxing day….. at a muddy assault course. After all, what self-respecting bride doesn’t want to spend her hen do squelching around under a tarpaulin, before dragging herself over a brick wall and through a partially submerged tunnel? Well, apart from one who is FUCKING PREGNANT, and therefore can’t take part. Not that she would have enjoyed it, judging by how much the chief bridesmaid bitched about her lovely new trainers getting ruined.

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3

Fortunately, the groom redeemed himself slightly later that same day, when he arranged for the hen party to dine at a fancy restaurant (well, it was fancy for them, because the cutlery wasn’t plastic), and all appeared to be forgiven. Well, until they realised he’d forgotten to pay for the meal, so they nearly had to cover the bill themselves.

4

Next up, the big one – selecting and paying for the bride’s dress. I did sympathise with him slightly at this point, because (a) no man should ever risk buying clothes for a woman, as it will almost always end in disaster; (b) this is especially true when it is arguably the most important outfit she will ever wear; and (c), did I mention she was HEAVILY FUCKING PREGNANT? Fortunately, she left the wedding dress choice relatively open for him, so long as he didn’t buy one with loads of lace on it…..

….yes, of course he did.

Ryan Reynolds Facepalm GIF - Tenor GIF Keyboard - Bring ...

5

Oh, and it had a big shiny silver belt around the waist, too – because, what every pregnant bride wants, when already uncomfortable stood on a freezing beach, is to be further restrained around her expanding bump. Still, the dress was, in his words, ‘cheap’, so at least he saved a bit of cash to put towards his skydive.

6

Then, for the bridesmaid’s outfits, he very astutely realised that you hardly ever see them dressed in white too (I wonder why that is?); but, to avoid causing any confusion/jealousy by clothing all the gal-pals in similar white dresses, he opted for ABBA-style jumpsuits instead. Cla-ssy.

abba

They honestly looked like a cross between low-budget Bond villains (if a Bond film had ever been set on a cold beach in Yorkshire, which it understandably hasn’t) and a group of thoroughly-miserable painter decorators.

7

While choosing their rings, he appeared to be genuinely flummoxed when the jeweller asked him what size he needed for his wife-to-be, and even more astonished when ‘cocktail sausage’ wasn’t a recognised size on the International Ring Scale.

Shocked GIF - Shocked WillSmith FreshPrinceOfBelair - Discover ...

8

For the ceremony itself, he splashed out the princely sum of £16.99 to buy a trellis style archway from somewhere like ‘Poundland’, which he then had to secure to some wooden pallets on the beach to stop it from making an untimely escape towards Scandinavia.

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9

Still, at least if the bride-to-be was pissed off at having to exchange her vows cowering under Poundland’s finest, with the icy turd-ridden surf creeping ever closer to her feet, surely the groom could pull it out of the bag with a spectacular reception afterwards?

Well, he did, but only if you consider a marquee in a nearby caravan park to be spectacular. Having said that, he also arranged a fairground ride and chip van, so at least that was something for her special day. I mean, she obviously couldn’t go on the fairground ride (preggers, remember?), but she more than made up for any disappointment with her chip consumption.

10

Finally, despite fuming at getting married on a beach, hating her sand-stained dress (not to mention the bridesmaid’s jumpsuits), nearly standing in horse shit from her carriage  ride on the way to the caravan park/funfair reception, and the somewhat-belated realisation she was now inextricably linked to a fucking moron, once she’d had a cone of chips, she decided he was a sweetheart really. Which is the way this show always ends, no matter how badly the wedding has been arranged.

I hope they are very happy together*

*which, bearing in mind the show was filmed two years ago, I doubt very much they are.

Thanks for reading.

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How Much Is That Bloggie In The Window?

Recently, Isaac has started asking if we can get a pet.

I have tried to argue that he is very much our family pet already (more so than a human child, in fact, since he prefers eating off the floor, has strange sleeping patterns, and leaves hair everywhere), but he is having none of it, and desperately wants us to add an actual animal to our family unit.

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While we have not yet made any firm decisions either way, there has been some debate between us as to what kind of animal we should get if we decide to cave in to his demands – and, as far as I am concerned, pet owners (in the UK at least), tend to fall into one of two main categories: dog lovers or cat lovers.

Of course, there are exceptions. Some people, who like their pets to be as dull and low maintenance as possible, keep fish. Others, who prefer something smaller, fluffier and more restrained than a cat or dog, focus solely on the rabbit/hamster/guinea pig section of the pet store (but this tends to be a habit most of us grow out of once we reach adulthood, and no longer crave things which are ‘cute’).

Then, finally, there are those people who are more than content to remain single for the rest of their lives, so they buy themselves a snake or tarantula. These people are not to be trusted under any circumstances, and should be regarded in much the same way as those who enjoy cricket, or have more than three children.

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Anyway, the majority of pet owners tend to be either ‘dog people’ or ‘cat people’, and whilst you may very well enjoy the company of both, you will always have a preference – meaning ownership is generally restricted to one or the other. This is partly because the two are very different animals, which suit vastly opposing lifestyles, but mainly it is due to the fact that, if we have learned anything from the cartoons, it is that cohabiting cats and dogs will invariably end up clawing the living shit out of each other (then, after each battle, the cat will walk away unscathed like nothing happened, while the dog will lie dazed on the floor with little birdies tweeting around his head).

Anyway, I already have two children, so I have no need for further violent skirmishes around the house, thank you very much, and that means any future pet ownership will need to be restricted to either a cat or a dog, not both. And, before we go any further, I will make one thing perfectly clear: I have always been a dog person.

Growing up, my Mum bought the family a little Yorkshire Terrier, a breed she had always been fond of, and, even though in hindsight he could be a right little twat at times (indeed, from recollection, his pedigree name might very well have been colossus bellendium, despite the fact that sounds like a spell from an adults-only version of Harry Potter), at the time we loved him dearly.

Then, once my wife and I were married, but prior to having children, we decided to test whether we could be responsible parents by getting a dog first, and having suffered a number of setbacks via a local rehousing charity (one couple changed their minds about giving up their dog, and another was sadly run over and killed before we could meet him), ‘Bexley’ entered our lives.

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In short, ‘Becks’ (as he was originally named) was a mongrel of questionable parentage, but there was definitely a mix of Labrador and Retriever swimming around his DNA, and once we had decided to change his name to ‘Bexley’ (on account of the fact the family having to re-home him – due to emigrating – all turned up at our house wearing Manchester United shirts, and I flatly refused to have a dog named after the then United star, David Beckham), he quickly became a cherished member of our family.

He was energetic, friendly and adorably clumsy in equal measure, and everyone who met him instantly loved him. It broke my heart the day he was put to sleep, and I do not mind admitting I sobbed like a little child holding him in my arms at the vets that day. I’m filling up even now just recalling how horrible it was to say goodbye, despite it being a few years ago, but he had a good life with us and lived to the ripe old age of sixteen, which is good going for a dog of his size.

So, despite being attacked by an Alsatian when I was younger, I have always been firmly entrenched in the ‘dog’ camp, and this is for four very good reasons:

  1. Dogs are (generally) lovable, loyal, and fun to have around, and they are always pleased to see you. Cats, on the other hand, spend most of their time scratching viciously, and literally don’t give a shit about you or anything you do. They aren’t even grateful when you feed them (compared to dogs, who wag their adorable little tails to show their appreciation), and, if you don’t tend to their every whim promptly enough, they simply fuck off and live with someone else. Cats have no loyalty whatsoever.
  2. I despise losing stuff that I have paid for, so I could never own a cat knowing the chances are it would be likely to disappear at any given moment (if the local Facebook posts are anything to go by, a cat goes missing in Sandbach every fourteen seconds). I’m pissed off enough when we lose the TV remote, so imagine how irate I would be losing an actual pet I had devoted my time to.
  3. While I would argue that dogs are usually more adorable (both in terms of their appearance and bumbling thick-as-shit attitude to life), it always seems to be the ‘cat people’ who use phrases like ‘fur baby’ and ‘forever home’. Apologies, but I could never mix with people like that.
  4. You can never blame a fart on a cat.

In fact, so far as I can tell, there has only ever been one advantage to cats as a species – they occasionally dispose of a pigeon or two, and pigeons happen to be one of the only animals I dislike more than cats.

I will, however, qualify my disapproval of cats with two exceptions:

Firstly, I have always been fascinated by ‘big cats’ (by which, I don’t mean the fat lazy kind, but rather the wild animal variety), and the highlight of any trip to Chester Zoo is seeing the lions, tigers, jaguars and cheetahs. In fact, if pushed, I would say my favourite animal of all time would be the cheetah, because, like me, they are sleek, fast, and can only run for around a minute before they need to take a lengthy nap. Well, at least I used to consider myself to be like a cheetah, but then lockdown happened, and nowadays I would find myself far more at home in the rhino enclosure (slow, cumbersome, and horny).

Secondly, we appear to have involuntarily ‘adopted’ a cat called Daisy, and I’m rather fond of her. Well, I say adopted, but we had no part in the decision, as she has essentially taken it upon herself to start living in the hedge in our front garden (see previous comment about cats doing whatever the fuck they want). I’m sure she goes home to her actual owners occasionally, but, most of the time, as soon as I set foot outside our front door, there she is to greet me. And, so help me, she’s adorable.

While not possessing the tail-wagging capabilities of a dog, Daisy always seems pleased to see me, immediately comes over for a fuss (despite the fact we have never fed her), and has not once tried to claw my eyes out – like every other cat I have had the misfortune to meet. Daisy may take the form of a cat, but she possesses the heart of a dog.

I should also stress, we only know her name is Daisy because someone near to where we live posted on Facebook a few months ago that they would like whoever is feeding her to please stop (it wasn’t us), and the picture was definitely her, since we had noticed her around the street for some time. Until that point, we had simply referred to her as ‘slutty cat’, because she didn’t seem to care where the attention came from, so long as she was being admired. See, I told you she’s like a dog.

I even made up an entirely original song for her:

Slutty cat, slutty cat, why are you such a slut?*

*any similarity to a song performed by the character Phoebe in ‘Friends’ is entirely coincidental.

However, even though I am now rather fond of Daisy, I know she is not ours and, more importantly, I know that if we ever bought a cat of our own we would almost certainly get one of the ‘total git’ variety, rather than one like her.

So, if my wife and I do ever succumb to Isaac’s pleas for a pet, we will be getting another dog (although not a puppy, we’re not that stupid), and I think I’m nearly ready to consider doing so, after years of mourning the loss of my dear old friend Bexley.

Until then, we still have Isaac, who is occasionally rather adorable himself.

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Thanks for reading x

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Blog Out, Then Blog Back In Again

Yesterday, I had my first proper Zoom meeting.

Zoom

By that, I mean my only experience of Zoom prior to yesterday was to attend a few family gatherings on my phone, in order to remotely celebrate birthdays which have taken place during lockdown (including both of my sons, who wanted to see grandparents, uncles and aunts on their special days), so this was my first real Zoom meeting – and certainly my first in a professional capacity.

Now, if you are currently sat reading this with a judgemental expression on your face, along the lines of ‘How has he never used Zoom properly until now?!’, I am willing to wager that you had never heard of it before March either, so don’t give me that shit. Yes, I know I’m a couple of months behind everyone else on the old ‘Zoom bandwagon’, but the truth of the matter is my line of work (I’m a Solicitor) doesn’t really require it – and, when it would actually come in rather handy, such as for remote trials, it seems most Judges would prefer to use software last seen in 2008, such as Skype. Yes, Skype is still apparently going. Who knew?

Anyway, last week I received an invite to what promised to be a very helpful seminar for the work that I do, and, since it was free (no, especially because it was free), I was able to persuade my boss to let me sign up for it. However, it was only on Wednesday of this week that I received the link to the seminar itself, and discovered it was taking place via Zoom, rather than in a more customary ‘webinar’ format.

In case you aren’t sure what I mean by that (or are sat there wondering why it would make any difference), I should explain that most lawyers only attend seminars in order to amass the requisite ‘training points’ to remain in practice each year, so if the talk in question is taking place as a Webinar (where you simply watch someone give a presentation online), it doesn’t really matter if you happen to nip to the loo, make a cup of tea, or nod off in the middle of it, because no one can see you – and, most importantly, you still get the training points regardless (see, I am nothing if not dedicated to my profession).

Falling Asleep GIFs | Tenor

Whereas, with a meeting platform like Zoom, you are more actively involved, as if you are in a room with the speaker and every other attendee, and it is therefore far more difficult to participate indifferently / unconsciously. You have to actually look like you’re bothered.

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Thankfully, prior to logging into the seminar shortly before the start time yesterday morning, I was aware that Zoom offers two very helpful functions to avoid such an awkward situation: the option to turn off your microphone (so that no one else in the room can hear you/your feral children), and, even better, the opportunity to switch off your video (so that no one can see how shit your lockdown hair has become, or that you have stains on your t-shirt)*

*just to clarify, I didn’t have stains on my t-shirt, and it was fresh out of the wardrobe, I was merely illustrating a point. And my haircut isn’t that bad.

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As a result, I was confident when joining the seminar yesterday, I would be able to utilise both of these functions in order to participate in the session as only I know best – with very few fucks to give whatsoever. Please understand, it’s not that I am necessarily lazy, or that I do not care about doing my job to the best of my ability, it’s just that it’s hard to muster enthusiasm when listening to someone discuss the finer points of the legal system for an hour or two.

Anyway, ‘pride comes before a fall’, as they say (or, more accurately, ‘be a smug bastard, and you’re bound to take one in the nuts soon enough’) because, no sooner had I joined the meeting shortly before 11am, I realised that my laptop was still logged in to my wife’s Zoom account – from last weekend, when her laptop was playing up and she needed it for an MA teaching session – and so it was her name under the picture of me on the screen.

To avoid any confusion or awkward questions, I then quickly went in to her profile to change the name to my own (making a mental note to inform her later I had done this, so she could change it back before using Zoom herself for teaching), and hoped none of the attendees had noticed.

Then, I quickly turned the microphone off (as Ollie was in the next room, and while he had promised to be quiet, he also doesn’t absorb basic instructions particularly well, and is about as reliable as a fishnet condom), before switching the video off as well.

It was at this point, I realised that my wife has also set up a picture of herself for when the camera is turned off (so the screen is not simply left blank when she is teaching), and while it is a nice picture of her, I got the impression she wouldn’t be best pleased knowing her image was there to be looked at by a room full of dull lawyers (some of which have never seen an actual woman before) – not least because it was now accompanied by my name underneath it.

So, having discounted the option of quickly logging out of her account, logging back in to my account, and trying to re-join the seminar under my own profile (which, in hindsight, I wish I had done, but couldn’t be bothered with the inevitable questions from the seminar host as to what I was playing at), I was left with no choice other than to keep the video on for the full hour – rendering yawning, pulling faces, eating biscuits and taking all my clothes off at the very least ill-advised.

Ok, perhaps they would all be considered ill-advised anyway, but there is something so deliciously risqué about fucking around when no one can see or hear you, I often find the urge to do so irresistible. Like that time I wasn’t getting what I wanted from a grumpy Judge in a telephone hearing, so I took solace from the fact I was able to make lewd hand gestures while talking to him, all of which suggested he might be fond of pleasuring himself.

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Anyway, I digress.

As the 11am start time drew ever closer, and the delegates began to join the meeting, I then noticed one very familiar name further down the list – one of the partners at my old firm (a job I did not necessarily leave on the best of terms, on account of the fact I handed in my notice relatively soon after they paid for my training and qualification, but, in my defence, they weren’t particularly pleasant to work for).

This would not have been so much of an issue if I had been able to hide behind a blank screen with only my name showing, but I now had to not only stay awake, but give the impression I am doing really well in my chosen career, and not losing the will to live on a daily basis.

Thankfully, the seminar started soon after, so I was able to feign interest in what the host was saying – which, to his credit, was not the most dull topic I have ever sat through – and, aside from a few occasions where I caught sight of myself looking a little fed up on the screen (which, after sixteen weeks of lockdown, is an expression I am really struggling with), it seemed to go quite well.

Indeed, there were even two comedic highlights featuring the same woman (I know this, because aside from the speaker she was the only other person with her microphone left turned on).

The first, was around five minutes into the presentation, when said female joined the list of attendees, and then very loudly exclaimed, presumably to whomever was helping her with the technology:

“Is this working now? Definitely? And you’re sure no one can see me, because I look like shit today?!”

Fucking glorious.

The best part was, the seminar host clearly heard this too and, as we were the only attendees with our cameras left on, it was up to the two of us to stifle the giggles (while everyone else could laugh away as much as they wanted)  – something I did a far better job of than him, as I was able to fake an itch and cover my mouth slightly, whereas he was having to still talk away, with his mouth contorted into a pained half-grin.

ULTIMATE PACKS, TEAM OF THE YEAR. PACKS NOT WORTH. OVER 1 MILLION ...

Then, at the end of the hour-long session, when he asked if there were any questions (and we all nervously waited to see if anyone would be ‘that person’, who delays the meeting ending to ask some pointless question no one gives a shit about), an automated voice piped up:

“The number you are calling knows you are waiting. Please hold and we will try to connect you.”

Again, because there were only two microphones left on, it was clearly the same woman trying to make a call, and this time the host couldn’t contain his laughter:

               “Well, that’s not strictly a question, but thanks anyway. Anyone else?”

Fortunately, there was no one else wanting to contribute, with either an automated message or a genuine question, and we all began to leave the meeting. I only hope, that after the session had been concluded, that same woman suddenly realised everyone in attendance had heard her exclaim how shit she looked. I just wish she had accidentally switched her camera on too, so we could all decide for ourselves.

Or farted.

Thanks for reading x

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Bunch of Busybloggies

I love Facebook. Most of the time.

However, I also despise Facebook, some of the time.

Let me explain.

I love Facebook, because it keeps me in touch with my family, friends and the world at large. It informs me if my favourite bands have a new album coming out, or are due to go on tour. It allows me to peruse funny videos of people hurting themselves, and laugh at comedic memes, restoring my faith that there are others out there who share my twisted sense of humour.

I also have my very own page, a little corner of the vast expanse that is the internet, where I can be myself. Where I am able to laugh about my children, while at the same time venting my spleen (I honestly never knew my spleen had so much vent in it). Plus, because of Facebook – and some ‘cockney bellend’ called Joe – my fanbase has multiplied more than tenfold since March.

Finally, thanks to Facebook (albeit prompted by the horrible situation the world currently finds itself in), I now have my own ‘virtual’ pub, where I can meet up with people I have never known in real life, listen to music, and take part in one of my favourite pastimes – a pub quiz.

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However, increasingly of late, I also detest Facebook. It bombards me with adverts for things I have never wanted, and will never want. It reminds me that some people are stupid, bigoted and downright racist, and they are not the tiny minority I once thought (or hoped) them to be. It reminds me that the nation, and, indeed, the planet, has never been more divided.

Thankfully, the benefits to Facebook still outweigh the various disadvantages (otherwise, I would consider deleting my account) and, since this is meant to be a lighthearted blog, lets focus on the positives for now.

For every bigot or racist, there are countless more fighting for change and unity. For every moron ignoring lockdown to meet up with their mates, or squeeze onto an already crowded beach, there is a group waiting to berate them publicly for their stupidity. And, for every ludicrous decision made by the likes of Johnson, Trump and the sycophantic fucknuggets behind each of them, there is a comedic genius waiting with a meme to ridicule everyone concerned. It may not solve the problem, but it reminds me there are like-minded people out there who are just as exasperated as me. That gives me hope.

So, while today’s blog entry is all about one particular aspect of Facebook, and how much it riles me on a daily basis, I am going to strive to find the humour in there to share with you all, and hopefully raise a smile on this fifteenth Friday of lockdown.

This week’s entry is all about that seemingly endless source of (often unintentional) comedy: the local Facebook group.

I am a member of three of these groups myself, and, without naming them, two are for the town in which I live, while the third is for the village where I grew up – and now commute to work every day (well, at least I did until lockdown was initiated).

You may belong to one (or more) local groups yourself, for your own particular town or village, and no doubt you will come across the same idiots that I do on a daily basis, namely:

  1. The person who cannot spell to save their life, and who appears to have typed each  and every post using only their feet (I am not being ‘thickist’ here, but it really is basic stuff at times)
  2. The person who asks a pointless question, such as how long the queue is at a particular shop, despite the fact queues invariably alter as time passes, so the original poster will never get an accurate answer.
  3. Finally, the person who posts one of the ten most asked questions in local groups up and down the country, apparently oblivious to how much it gets on the tits of easily-irked middle-raged people like me.

If you are unsure what I am referring to with that last point, the chances are you may be guilty of it yourself. However, just in case, and so you can avoid falling into the trap, I have carried out literally seconds of extensive research, and have determined that 95% of all posts on local Facebook groups fall into ten distinct categories – and every single one of them gets firmly up my bottom hole (metaphorically speaking).

So, having collated and analysed them, I have decided I will upload alternative piss-take versions over the coming weeks, and there is not a damn thing anyone out there can do to stop me (well, assuming I don’t get banned from said groups for being too acerbic, and as long as the wife will let me).

Anyway, in no particular order, the ten categories of local Facebook Group post (with my alternative versions underneath) are as follows:

#1 – ‘I’ve lost my cat’ / ‘I’ve found this dog’

The frequency with which local pet owners lose their animals is, quite frankly, appalling.

My version: ‘Has anyone seen this cat? Oh, he’s not mine, but just LOOK AT HIS FACE!’ or ‘I’ve just found this dog. I’m not sure who he belongs to, but I kinda like him, so he’s mine now.’

(nauseating reference to ‘fur baby’ optional)

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#2 – ‘What’s the best Chinese / Indian?’

I see this posted on a daily basis.

My version: ‘What’s the best Chinese? I know someone asked yesterday, and the day before that, and every day for the previous year, but I just wondered if anyone’s opinions had changed in the last 24 hours? Plus, I can’t be arsed scrolling back through the seventeen posts about missing cats since yesterday.’

Alternatively: ‘What’s the best Indian? I was thinking maybe Mahatma Ghandi?’

 

#3 – ‘Any jobs going?’

Oh, sure, that makes you sound employable.

My version: ‘Any job’s goin round ere? I no know won rely adverts on here, but will do anything. Am hard working so long as u dont mind Iv tiped this with me fourhed am able to start in too weeks. Carnt start before as its two nice out lol.’

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#4 – ‘Parents. Do you know where your teenager is tonight?…’

They then proceed to rant about the latest bit of anti-social behaviour they have encountered around town, often with no proof whatsoever that it was actually caused by teenagers.

My version: ‘Parents. Do you know where your teenagers are tonight? If not, there’s a good chance they’re locked in my garage, because I spotted some rubbish outside McDonalds earlier and decided it must have been dropped by teenagers – so I’m now driving around bundling any teenagers I can find into my van.’

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#5 – ‘I’m getting sick of picking up other people’s dog poo.’

I’m not surprised. It’s hardly the most wholesome hobby.

My version: ‘Just found some dog shit on the pavement again. The next dog owner I see letting their pet crap in the street without picking it up, is going to find me wandering over, collecting the offending turd myself, and then ramming it up their fucking nose, mmkay?’

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#6 – ‘Sorry if this isn’t allowed but…..’

They then go on to write something which almost always contravenes the site rules, gets promptly deleted, only for them to post again later the same day bitching about their original message being taken down, and demanding an explanation from ‘admin’.)

My version: ‘Sorry if this isn’t allowed but….. aren’t boobies ace?’

Raising Eyebrows GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

#7 – ‘I hope the person who left this rubbish by the side of the road is happy. Fly tipping is illegal. It makes me sick.’

This is almost always accompanied by a photo of a kitchen appliance in a hedge.

My version: ‘I hope the person who left this rubbish by the side of the road is pleased with themselves. I lugged the microwave all the way home on my bike, and it doesn’t even fucking work, so I threw it in a hedge.’

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#8 – ‘Here are some pictures I took of a sunset / lightning storm / some flowers.’

Whoop-dee-fucking-do.

My version: ‘Look at these photos I took of this evening’s lightning storm. You probably saw it for yourselves, and if not I’m sure you’ve seen lightning before, but I crave your attention and want you to worship me for successfully operating a camera.’

I will then upload a photo I have clearly taken from Google, for example:

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#9 – ‘To the person who hit my car outside Waitrose this afternoon. I will give you until the end of the day to own up before I will be contacting the police.’

The first response to this post is always either: (1) ‘Aw no hun that’s awful. U ok?’; (2) ‘Scum’; or (3) ‘Have you asked Waitrose if they have CCTV?’

My version: ‘Some fuckbag hit my car outside Waitrose today. I was going to post a threat giving them until tomorrow to own up, but not only has that never worked in the history of Facebook, the Police would do bugger all about it anyway. Oh, and on the basis Waitrose didn’t have CCTV when someone’s car got hit yesterday, or for any of the previous daily accidents in their car park, don’t bother asking if I’ve checked.

#10 – ‘Does anyone know [insert name]? I’ve received this letter/parcel for them.’

This post is always accompanied by a photo of a package where the sender has omitted 80% of the vital information needed for it to reach the recipient, and the postie has evidently given up and pushed it through the first remotely similar letterbox.

My version: ‘Does anyone know [insert name]? I’ve received a parcel for them, and it looks really interesting, so I’m going to open it and keep the contents. If you know them, tell them ‘tough shit’ from me.

Alternatively: ‘Does anyone know [insert name of someone you don’t like]? I’ve received a giant parcel from Ann Summers which is addressed to them, and the contents are vibrating like fucking crazy, so I don’t know whether to open it or not?

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***

That should keep me entertained for a few weeks at least.

Thanks for reading x

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Bloggs and Madness

Hi there.

In my slightly weakened psychological state, I’ve gone and re-written another classic song, in order to make it more appropriate for the current situation my wife and I (and no doubt many of you) find ourselves in. Stuck in our house.  Still.

I hope you like it.

p.s. – It’s to the tune of ‘Our House’ by Madness (hence this week’s title) and, in case you wanted to sing along, or remind yourself of the tune, here’s the song to play in the background while you read through).

 

Daddy wears a knackered cap

Mummy’s fucked, she needs a nap

The kids are fighting to the death

Isaac never goes to sleep (ah-ah-ahhhhhh)

Ollie’s got a zoom meeting, he can’t hang around

 

(We’re stuck in)

Our house, in the middle of our street

Our house, in the middle of our-

 

Our house it is a tip

There’s always toys to stand upon

The place has gone to shit

We used to be house-proud

But then we procreated, and the living room got ploughed

 

(We’re stuck in)

Our house, in the middle of our street

Our house, in the middle of our-

Our house, in the middle of our street

Our house, in the middle of our (something tells me that we’ve got to move away from here)

 

Daddy gets up late for work

Doesn’t bother to get dressed

Mummy drags Isaac to school

Sees him off with a swift kick (ah-ah-ahhhhhh)

Yet she’s the one he’s going to miss instead of Dad.

 

(We’re stuck in)

Our house, in the middle of our street

Our house, in the middle of our-

 

I remember before lockdown, sat in pubs around our town

And we had such a very good time, such a fine time

Such a happy time

And I remember how the boys, would sit and play with all their toys

Then we’d say let’s go out for dinner

When I was thinner.

 

Daddy’s wearing just his pants

Mummy retches at his dance

His junk is wobbling downstairs

Isaac still won’t fucking sleep

There’s a pile of washing in a heap, we can’t hang it out

 

(We’re stuck in)

Our house, in the middle of our street

Our house, in the middle of our street

Our house, in the middle of our street

Our house, in the middle of our-

 

Our house, one we once wanted to keep

Our house, in the middle of our street

Our house, now we’d best move somewhere cheap

Our house, in the middle of our street

Our house, in the middle of our street, our house.

 

 

Thanks for reading x

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Mind, Bloggy and Soul

Ever since ‘lockdown’ began a few years ago (at least, that’s how long it feels right now), I seem to be spending more and more time scrolling through Facebook, and I suspect this is due to a combination of three factors:

  1. I am not currently working in the office, where checking your phone is somewhat frowned upon by the boss, and while I am still putting in the same (if not longer) hours, my working pattern is now all over the place, and to balance the fact I am frequently still at my desk come 10pm, I occasionally break during the day and check my phone to see what is going on in the world.
  2. You may recall that, around the first week of lockdown, I attempted to take part in Joe Wicks’ YouTube P.E. lessons, shared a very tongue-in-cheek post calling him a ‘cockney bellend’ and, well, the rest is history. That post has now had over 60,000 reactions, has been shared more than 65,000 times, and has been read by 6.8 million people. To say it made a different to my pokey little Facebook page would be an understatement. Consequently, now that my following has multiplied at least tenfold, I now have more reason to check it regularly – whether that be to read your lovely comments, or to keep an eye on the one or two dipshits who seem to have crept in among my fanbase (I shall mention no names, but at least one or two appear to thoroughly dislike me, despite still following my page to this day).thebodycoach_91475218_2329404364027379_6767080010601958072_n-f9d0-e1586528817485
  3. This entire coronavirus shit-storm really has brought out the humour in people, both brilliantly intentional, and entirely accidental. The latter, in particular, fills me with great joy, as I like nothing more than chuckling away at the medically stupid.

Anyway, while scrolling through Facebook earlier this week, I stumbled across a post someone had written on one of our local pages, and while I won’t give the name of the person (or the page), for reasons which will shortly become clear, it was essentially a list of ‘wellness’ tips, for a better physical and mental outlook on life.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am all for a bit of positivity (now more than ever), and I would never scoff at someone advocating a healthier lifestyle, but on the other hand my wellbeing is usually boosted by mercilessly taking the piss, and because I am somewhat sceptical of certain aspects of the ‘wellbeing’ fraternity (for example, I don’t personally buy into the healing powers of pretty little rocks), I decided I would share some of my thoughts on this post with you.

So, having largely copied and pasted the original post, I have added my own particular comments and musings under each bit of advice for a more wholesome existence:

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Here are my wellness tips for Wednesday:

  1. Cut out sugar for today – allow your body a day without sugar.

I’ve checked, and all my favourite foods have sugar in them. Can’t I cut out something else, like hummus, instead?

  1. Have a break from social media – this may boost your mental health.

Well, aside from the fact I have just explained how Facebook actually nourishes my mental health, by allowing me the opportunity to laugh at the Muggles out there, what about if I need a poo at some point today? What the fuck am I supposed to do while I’m sat there, if I can’t check Facebook?

  1. Pay someone a compliment – if you make other people feel good, it will make you feel good about yourself too.

I told my wife this morning that she has a nice arse, and she actually scowled at me. You know that noise Marge Simpson makes when she’s properly pissed with Homer? Yeah, that. Not everyone accepts compliments in the way they were intended.

Ok, in fairness, I was grabbing her arse at the time, and making what I believed to be seductive noises (which, in hindsight, was an ill-advised move) but that’s beside the point.

Looking Marge Simpson GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

  1. Feel nature – if you have a garden, take your shoes and socks off and stand in the grass. Allow yourself a moment to feel nature beneath you.

Feel nature? Are you shitting me? Aside from the fact we have artificial turf in our back garden, and it was so hot today I’d have scorched my feet if I’d gone out there without any shoes or socks to protect them, Isaac spent most of yesterday spreading the bark from the bottom of the garden all over the lawn, and if you’ve never stood on one of those barefoot, let me tell you it’s like an inch long splinter piercing your skin. Lego has nothing on these vicious fuckers.

Plus, I’ve seen the cat from two doors down wandering around out there recently, and unless I have cast-iron guarantees that the little bastard hasn’t shit on our lawn, there’s not a cat in hell’s chance (yes, pun intended), I’m going to risk getting any mushed up little kitty nuggets squished between my toes.

  1. Compile a positivity list – this is similar to a grateful list and is a quick self-check to make sure you notice the good things in life.

Firstly, don’t assume anyone knows what a ‘grateful list’ is any more than a ‘positivity list’. Both are phrases I am highly dubious of. Secondly, while I do love a good list, I am not a particularly positive person, and I don’t think ‘Things I am grateful for’ is going to make for particularly riveting reading, not least because I’m certain ‘boobs’ will feature within the top three. Now, if we could agree on a ‘Negativity list’ instead, I’d be well up for that. Off the top of my head: pigeons, tuna, and those stupid Nationwide adverts with the corny poems. There, easy.

  1. Go nuts – replace any less-than-healthy snacks like chips, crackers and pretzels, with heart—healthy nuts. They are a great source of healthy fats, protein, anti-oxidants and fibre. Plus, they’re easily portable, have anti inflammatory properties, and satisfy your hunger.

Brilliant advice – unless of course the person you are addressing this to has a severe nut allergy? Also, apart from the fact I’m pretty sure you’re referring to ‘crisps’ when you say ‘chips’ and that leads me to suspect you are American and therefore not to be trusted under any circumstances, are pretzels honestly the least healthy snack you can think of? I cleared a box of Jaffa Cakes in one sitting the other day, and I didn’t even feel guilty afterwards. Pretzels? Amateur.

Im Not Even Sorry Matt Leblanc GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Finally, I note your reference to nuts being ‘easily portable’, but if that is your biggest selling-point for a wholesome snack, then I’ll take a fucking Freddo bar every time, thanks very much. Those things are tiny.

  1. Dance like no one is watching – dancing to music releases serotonin – so get that favourite track on and boogie!

Urgh. I hate the whole ‘dance like no one is watching, love like you’ve never been hurt’ shit. Yes, I know the original quote was Mark Twain, but if he was here now, I’d knee him in the squishies for starting this nonsense in the first place.

Look, if I’m dancing, it is for one reason and one reason only – I’m fucking hammered. And, even then, I still get self-conscious if I think anyone is looking in my direction, because if they are watching me then they will almost certainly be judging my serious lack of rhythm and moves. I’ve been ‘Dad dancing’ since around 15BC (Before Children), so the only time I dance is when I am convinced no one is watching (or, alternatively, when I am that drunk I’m not aware of anyone around me). Even then, my dancing is usually restricted to just a few subtle swings of the hips, and a twist of alternate feet every now and then.

Dad dancing GIF - Find on GIFER

Oh, and you said ‘boogie’, which makes me dislike this final point even more.

***

So, there you have it. This poor chap did nothing wrong, and merely tried to give everyone a little physical and mental lift, but due to the fact I am miserable git and I have a serious deficiency in my personality, whereby I have to pour scorn on everyone even remotely chipper, I took his post apart.

Well, I obviously didn’t respond to the actual post in question, so with any luck he’ll never see this – as I do genuinely feel bad for typing it – but, at the same time, it has been a great release for me personally, so by satisfying my piss-taking urges, he has inadvertently helped me unwind in a different way. For that, at least, I am grateful to him.

Right, I’m off to search for more people defending Dominic Cummings….

Thanks for reading x

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Like a Blog With a Bone

Those of you who attend my weekly (virtual) pub nights at Ye Olde Cock & Balls each Friday evening will be aware that, for the past couple of weeks, I have been encountering some problems with the strength of our internet connection – particularly during the picture round of my quiz.

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Well, after trying to contact our broadband provider, Sky, for a fortnight now, including one ‘online chat’ session where, having waited for two hours, our connection was lost and it kicked me out (hey, irony, fuck you), I have finally resolved the situation.

And, by that, I mean I properly resolved the situation, rather than simply ripping all of the Sky equipment from the various sockets in our lounge, dousing it in lighter fluid, and then torching the entire lot in the back garden (which, believe me, was next on my list of potential solutions). Even more amazingly, I am still a Sky customer.

Look, I know I should probably have considered switching our various packages to an alternative provider, but the truth is my wife and I really like some of the Sky-specific channels, and would hate to be without them. Plus, the boys love the wide range of children’s shows available on our additional ‘Entertainment Package’.

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Finally, above all else, I hate change, and I am inherently lazy, so I often find it preferable to stay with a company rather than shop around for a better deal. Yes, I know I negotiate for a living, but please also bear in mind that I largely dislike my chosen career, and would rather not bring that aspect of it home. Besides, do chefs walk through the door after a busy day in the kitchen and instantly want to cook for the family? No. Do cleaners come back from work and immediately make a start scrubbing the oven? Unlikely. Do strippers arrive home and promptly undress seductively for their partners?…. Well, only in my dreams. You get the idea.

My point is, for various reasons, I didn’t want to actually leave Sky, but equally we could not continue as a family with such a piss-poor broadband connection – not least because we now have two adults working remotely, two children being home-schooled on laptops, and various other essential devices (such as phones and tablets) all draining our WiFi, which only had the strength of an asthmatic pensioner atop a mountain in the first place.

So, yesterday, I put my big boy pants on, picked up the phone, and dialled the Sky complaint line. The following is an entirely accurate* account of the events which followed (apart from the fact I have made up the names of the people I spoke to, partly to protect their anonymity, but mostly because I can’t for the life of me remember what they were called)….

*sort of.

***

Automated Message: “Hi. Thanks for contacting Sky. Sorry, but we’re experiencing a really high call volume at present, so we’re having to prioritise our customers and can only currently deal with customers who are aged seventy or over, suffering with ill-health, or are classified as being a ‘key worker’, which includes all medical staff and teachers. If you do not fall into any of these categories, please hang up and try again when this shit-storm is finally over….

….

Ok, before we connect you through to one of our advisers, we will need to take you through security. Do you know your Sky account password?”

Me: “No”

Automated Message: “Ok. No problem. Can we take your mother’s maiden name instead?”

Me: “ **** ”

Automated Message: “Sorry, that’s not correct either.”

Me: “It fucking is…. Oh, unless the account is in my wife’s name?”

Automated Message: “Please say your mother’s maiden name.”

Me: “ **** ”

Automated Message: “Please hold for the next adviser.”

Me: “I could’ve sworn the Sky account was in my name….”

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Adolf: “Hi, you’re through to Adolf, thanks for holding.”

Me: “No problem. It’s marginally preferable to listening to my children screaming.”

Adolf: “Ha ha! I know what you mean, mate.”

Me: “I’m not your mate. Let’s get on with this.”

Adolf: “Sure thing, buddy. Before we begin, can I just check your mother’s maiden name for security?”

Me: “Well, I just gave my mother’s maiden name and it said that was incorrect, so apparently the account is in my wife’s name and her mother’s maiden name  is ‘ **** ‘.”

Adolf: “That’s not what I’ve got down here.”

Me: “But your system just let me through with that?”

Adolf: “Weird. So, what is your mother’s maiden name?”

Me: ” **** “

Adolf: “That’s the one.”

Me: “Fuck’s sake.”

Adolf: “Ok, then. I just need to check you fit into one of the categories of customer we can deal with at the moment. Are you over seventy?”

Me: “I feel like it, but no.”

Adolf: “Are you suffering with ill-health?”

Me: “I get knackered walking up the stairs. Does that count?”

Adolf: “Not really. Ok, last category, are you or anyone in your household a medical professional?”

Me: “Well, no, but your recorded message just now mentioned teachers, and my wife is a teacher.”

Adolf: “But neither of you are medical professionals?”

Me: “No. We tend to find being a lawyer and a teacher keeps us busy enough. Plus, I have a rather popular online quiz I do every Friday, and-”

Adolf: “Look, I’m afraid we have to prioritise our calls…”

Me: “Yes, but I’m telling you the recorded message just now specifically stated that teachers are key workers. Which they are. Go ahead and check after this call, if you like, but if you cut me off, I will find out where your office is, drive there, and cut you. Ok?”

Adolf: “Well, I guess you’re on the line now anyway. What’s the problem?”

Me: “Our broadband is slow. Like, properly shit, and I want it improving considering how much we pay each month.”

Adolf: “Ok, well, I’ve just checked, and you do qualify for superfast broadband in your area, which we could set up for you in around a week.”

Me: “Sounds expensive.”

Adolf: “It’s £32 a month, but for an extra £5 a month you can also get the broadband boost, which guarantees fast connection throughout the house.”

Me: “Wow, imagine if we could get a connection throughout the entire house.”

Adolf: “Are you being sarcastic?”

Me: “A little. The problem is, the other reason for my call was to complain about the fact our monthly cost has just shot up, so I don’t really want to be making things more expensive.”

Adolf: “Ok, I’ll transfer you to one of my colleagues and if you mention that you want the superfast broadband with the boost, they’ll set out your options for the TV package as well.”

Me: “Fine. Put me through.”

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***

Genghis: “Hi, you’ve been put through to Genghis. How can I help?”

Me: [sigh] “Right, I want to add the superfast broadband with the boost that I’ve just been told about, but I also want to know why our television package went up nearly £20 last month. When I phoned a couple of years ago, I agreed to remove the sports package to save some money, but now we’re paying more than we paid before only without the sports included.”

Genghis: “Do you want to add the sport back on?”

Me: “Fuck no. I’ve just complained about how high our bill is. I want to bring it down, not increase it.”

Genghis: “What do you want to keep?

Me: “Well, mainly Sky Movies and the Entertainment package for the kids.”

Genghis: “What about the F1 channel?”

Me: “We don’t have that.”

Genghis:  “Yes, you do.”

Me: “I beg your pardon? We’ve never requested that. Have we been paying for it?”

Genghis: “Not exactly. It came free with the entertainment package as an introductory offer, but then the package changed in December and it was then additional.”

Me: “So, I’ve been paying for an F1 channel I never asked for since December?!”

Genghis: “No, we only started charging you last month.”

Me: “Bless your generosity. Take it off, now. I don’t want it, and haven’t asked for it. You can’t just force it on me and then start charging me for it. Who do you think you are, fucking U2? Besides, there’s no F1 taking place right now anyway, so what are you even showing?”

Genghis: “Old clips and stuff.”

Me: “Well, as much as ‘old clips and stuff’ sounds awesome, get rid. How much is it, anyway?”

Genghis: “£18.”

Me: “For one fucking channel?! A channel dedicated to something that isn’t even happening right now? Have you got a channel dedicated to Euro 2020 and the fucking Olympics too?”

Genghis: “There’s no need to be like that.”

Me: “Right, if we ditch the F1 we didn’t ask for, don’t want and have never once turned on, and we add in the superfast broadband with the boost thingy, how does that affect our monthly bill?

Genghis: “Erm…… it will bring it down by £31 a month.”

Me: “£31 less?! Why the hell hasn’t this been offered to us sooner?!”

Genghis: “You didn’t phone.”

Me: “So you wait for people to get pissed off and threaten to leave, then offer them a deal?”

Genghis: “Pretty much.”

Me:  “Do it.”

Genghis: “Ok…. sorted. And, since you’re now paying much less, would you like some sport back?”

Me: “Well, my son would love to watch Premier League matches, but there’s no games at the moment. How much is it, for future reference?”

Genghis: “That’s £18 a month, too.”

Me: “For how many channels?”

Genghis: “Just Sky Sports Premier League, so one.”

Me: “Jesus wept. At least Dick Turpin wore a mask when he robbed people. Besides, my son and I support a lower league side who you never feature, so it’s really not worth adding any football channels. It’d be cheaper for me to take him down the pub to watch matches. At least that way I can spend the £18 on beer.”

Genghis: “Fair enough. But, you mentioned lower league football, and we do feature some games. How low down the leagues are we talking?”

Me: “Stockport County.”

Genghis: “Ouch.”

Me: “Fuck off.”

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***

Thanks for reading x

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Always Blog On The Bright Side of Life

(Do-do, do-do, do-do-de-do-do-do)

Continuing on from the general theme of last Friday’s entry (my first for a while), I would like to focus on some of the positives to be gained from the current shitstorm gripping our country – and, indeed, the planet.

Sure, COVID-19 is about the least popular thing to invade these shores since a certain Austrian with a distinctive moustache decided to show the world what a colossal fuck-nugget he was, but me sitting here writing about the horrors of this pandemic is a little bit pointless, really. Not only can you gather all the misery you like from the news or social media, should the mood take you – and I pray it doesn’t – but this is intended to be a lighthearted and comedic blog, and there is nothing even remotely lighthearted or funny about what it going on.

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Hitler: bit of a twat

So, yes, I know some people are unable to work, and struggling financially. I know most of us are unable to see our loved ones and friends. I know the sensible among us are avoiding pubs, restaurants, cinemas, parks and other public places (and I only hope those morons ignoring the rules don’t live to regret their selfish stupidity). I know, sometimes, the light at the end of this particularly dark tunnel only appears to flicker slightly before it is eclipsed by another setback. And, yes, I know Mother Nature decided to screw us all over by hosting summer in mid-April, when none of us could fully enjoy it. However, I always try to raise a smile with my blog, and if there is one thing we all need right now, it’s a bit of positivity and a chuckle.

Therefore, I have conjured up a list of the ten consequences from being stuck at home which I see as positive, in the hope that perhaps a few of you, can take a few of them, away for yourselves.

1. Virtual Pub Night

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For those of you who read my blog but do not follow my Facebook page, you may not be aware that I have been hosting an online ‘pub night’ every Friday since lockdown began.

The doors to my ‘Ye Olde Cock & Balls’ open at 8pm, and attendees are treated to a ‘Jukebox’ (which is essentially just a different YouTube playlist each week), some topics for debate, and a live Quiz. The latter, in particular, has proved especially popular, with hundreds of people taking part from all over the world – including such far flung places as America, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa (as well as a number of our neighbouring countries in Europe).

Anyway, while my virtual pub nights were only created in response to this terrible situation, I absolutely love them, and many of my Facebook followers have declared it the highlight of their week, too.

2. Avoiding People

Look, I don’t want you thinking I am being anti-social, as I am generally easy-going with most folk – so long as ‘most folk’ are my family, friends, and the vast majority of the general public who aren’t monumental cockwombles. Unfortunately, however, there remains that small minority who behave like idiots (such as anyone who still thinks it is ok to host barbecues and parties, or lean over you in the supermarket), and the fact I can now avoid interacting with the lowest echelons of society is a bonus.

Also, I love all of our local friends dearly, but I always feel guilty when someone calls round and I am too embarrassed to invite them in, because our children have transformed the house into a post-apocalyptic war zone. Fortunately, for the time being, I cannot possibly invite them in anyway (and I would like to think they would decline my offer even if I did).

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Our living room

3. Talking To Our Neighbours

I am well-aware that there are streets and communities up and down the nation who frequently socialise together, pop round each other’s houses for a chat, and exchange Christmas cards and gifts every December. Well, not on our street, we don’t.

For example, we very rarely spoke to the chap next door before lockdown, perhaps as infrequently as once a month (despite the fact he has lived there for the best part of a decade and appears to be very pleasant), but now I chat to him most days. Ok, that might only be across the fence, to thank him for returning Ollie’s football for the third time that morning, but it’s still progress.

Plus, before lockdown, the only time I ever interacted with those on our street, was to ask whether they had kindly accepted another parcel for us, and now we get to smile and wave at the couple opposite every Thursday evening, as they appear to be the only other household willing to step outside and applaud the nation’s key-workers.

I mean, we’re still a far cry from inviting them around for drinks and nibbles, but it’s all baby steps in the right direction.

4. Embracing Wackiness

Following on from that last point, about applauding key-workers from our doorstep every Thursday, how delightful is it to be stood on our doorsteps in just pyjamas (having not got dressed at all that day), loudly banging a saucepan with a wooden spoon like a fucking lunatic, without someone accusing you of being a ‘saucepan-banging fucking lunatic’?

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5. Scruffiness

And, speaking of wearing pyjamas all day*, the fact I no longer have to put on a suit and clean socks for the office is having a very positive effect on our washing pile (before lockdown, I once noticed some Sherpas erecting a base camp about half-way up).

*I have only done this twice (so far), but it was rather liberating – until we had a parcel delivered, and the driver could not approach for a signature, so had to take a photo of me stood next to the parcel, at a time when I happened to be wearing the shorts which leave little to the imagination.

Plus, distancing myself from most of my family (apart from the wife and children), our friends and my colleagues, means I am currently able to attempt something I have never tried before – growing a beard.

The fact I have never attempted this before is primarily because my wife claims she will hate it, so perhaps selecting the one time when we are stuck in the house together (and she is most likely to smother me in my sleep anyway) is ill-advised, but I would argue that, if it looks shit, no one need know – save for any parcel delivery drivers, or the muggles I encounter in Tesco, and I don’t care what they think.

True, I only stopped shaving a week ago, so I am still in the ‘sleeping rough’ stage of my facial hair adventure, and I do not yet know which path my new look will take: ‘sexy academic’ or ‘deviant sex pest’ (my wife is certain it will be the latter), but if I don’t like it, or there is more grey in there than expected, I’ll get rid. Now is the time to experiment.

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Week 3?

6. Saving Money

An unexpected advantage of being in ‘lockdown’, bearing in mind our weekly shopping budget appears to have almost doubled, and I am now forking out for a takeaway every Friday (to break the monotony, and give the family a sense of what day it is), but I actually made it to payday a couple of weeks ago without dipping into my overdraft or savings.

I suspect (nay, I know) that the money I am saving in fuel is having a big impact on my finances, as my usual commute requires me to drive 250 miles each week, but I honestly cannot work out where the rest of my current ‘wealth’ is coming from. I mean, I only go out once every few weeks, and I usually take my own lunch to the office anyway, so where am I making all these savings? Maybe it’s best not to question it.

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7. No Commuting

The fuel-savings lead me to the other advantage I have discovered from working at home: I do not have to deal with other road users. Look, I accept that my driving is by no means perfect (although it’s not far off), and I will generally tolerate mild misdemeanours on the road for the sake of my blood pressure, but there have been days in the past when I have genuinely questioned whether Cheshire has been blessed with more than it’s fair share of road wankers, and the fact I don’t have to suffer them each day is having a positive effect on my physical and mental health.

Conversely (and I did say I would only focus on the positives in this week’s blog, but please indulge me), my new daily commute of walking down the stairs is not without it’s own hazards, as some long-haired dickhead cut me up on our landing the other morning, and nearly caused a pile up of Daddy’s shattered limbs at the bottom.

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8. Soft Play Centres

I don’t have to go to these for the foreseeable future! Sure, they often mean our boys fuck off and leave me alone for a bit, whereas they are now constantly around me all the time, but at least that means I don’t have to worry about other people’s feral little nightmares, and/or Isaac attacking one of them.

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9. Clearing Sky Planner

In the same way my bank account has spent the last year teetering perilously close to the overdraft, our Sky Planner has fluctuated between having 1% and 5% storage remaining for the best part of six months. Not these days, though. Thanks to us watching some programmes recorded at the start of the year (which I never thought we would have time to watch), we are currently up to a whopping 13%. Boom.

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10. Getting To Spend More Time With My Children

Finally, I am thoroughly enjoying spending some quali-

Nope, I can’t even type it without laughing. Like fuck I am.

(I knew I should have stopped the list at #9, but my damn OCD insisted I add one more to round it up….)

Thanks for reading x

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