The Army of Young Ones


Here’s the story of Eddie, rock ‘n’ roll, and dowhackers.

“STOP SWEARING!” It’s not the two words I’d normally expect to hear at a heavy metal concert, granted. Oh, yes. Guess where I’ve been. That’s right, an East-17 reunion gig. They have gone a bit darker in tone, admittedly. There are 53 of them now, too. There’s no gentle way to say this, but… I’ve been to an Iron Maiden concert this week, and if you don’t know who they are… well, ‘stop swearing’ is about a futile a suggestion as warm ice cream. It was the least of my concerns, to be frank. There was a father with his little boy on his shoulders and there’s no easy way to say it, that boy looked no older than five. I do appreciate that getting the young’uns involved in rock music is vital in stopping them becoming chavs, but… maybe, maybe, a tad too soon. And then there was that moment Bruce ripped Eddie’s heart out and threw it at the crowd. Good times, good times…

It wasn’t that long ago I was a stickler for avoiding rock concerts, despite my love of rock music. I’m a walking contradiction, and hypocrite and parallel universe sex symbol. Ahem. I’m the type of person who wonders what the other me’s in other parallel Earth’s are like. I like to think that, in one, I’m actually handsome and didn’t get incredibly annoyed this week that a shopkeep gave me both an old five pound note and an old one pound coin in change despite the fact both are literally about to go out of circulation and they refused to give me the new ones. What? THAT REALLY ANNOYED ME! I don’t even like the new plastic notes and now I’m being made to beg for them, the corporate dowhackers…

As clichéd as it appears to be, rock music was there for me when I needed something and did not know what that something was. Ah, you know what it’s like, readers. Born under a bad sign. A little too tall for most people’s liking. A little too skinny. Very pasty. Glasses, at the time. Ridden with social anxiety and thus spent my breaks at school sitting in the corner of the huge field that surrounded the school, sat under my favourite tree. Come to think of it, that’s probably why I had no friends. Do people with friends have favourite trees? It was an apple blossom, in case you’re wondering. My top three are rounded out by weeping willow and oak. What? I also have a top three favourite pairs of socks, as well. I don’t see anybody complaining about that! Oh, you are? Carry on.

Admittedly, none of this has changed all too much since then, but at least with rock music I found a voice. A friend. Something that often reminded me that there were millions of other people as lonely as I, but the fact we were a group made that collective friends, a united front against those who treat us as degenerates. As Brent Smith said at that concert, rock and roll is a lifestyle. It doesn’t care who you are or what you are. It brings us together as one voice. Makes you feel wanted and a part of something huge. And when you go to a concert, you can see that live. 10,000 people jumping on the spot for five minutes, all completely unique yet all a part of the same family. The smile across my face during that concert took a good week to go away. Heart racing, adrenaline pumping. I didn’t know any of those people, but I knew I wasn’t alone. Unlike dance and rap, rock is the soul of millions. It has meaning and depth. And when all else fails you, it’s always kind and compassionate. You know with rock that it will never let you down.

The problem is, of course, that the free spirit rock awoke inside me didn’t quite manage to get the better of the logic centre in my brain. If you imagine my brain as a forest, my logic is a grand castle at the centre, atop a mighty hill. Guarded by fantastic super beings protecting it like an impenetrable force field. Rock music was like the cast of The Young Ones had discovered a cloning machine, duplicated themselves like, a billion times, and had declared war on the castle. To this day, the battle still rages, but at least a peace treaty of sorts has been brokered.

Too loud. Too many people. Human contact. The fear of the unknown. I could go on. Logic was winning until last year when my brother got me and him some tickets to a Trivium concert. Who, if you aren’t aware, are at the heavier end of heavy metal. I mean… yes, it was an experience, put it that way. Castle Logic argued that it would make no sense to betray this huge dominant castle for the sake of literally getting one’s rocks off. It might be alright for a couple hours, but afterwards, there’s a giant castle shaped hole where the castle once stood. What would I be without my logic? I’d be a hippy. God, I can’t imagine anything worse…

So you needed a compromise. You told your teenage daughter she couldn’t go to that gig and now she hates you. Equally, you can’t just let her go to all gigs, as that would make you an irresponsible parent. I’m not a parent, but what I’d do is find her most trustworthy friend and tell her to keep an eye on my daughter. I’d guilt the hell out of her, too. “Look after her, she’s the most important thing in my life.” That would do the trick. A compromise.

So the Army of Young Ones were allowed to go out and party by Castle Logic now and again, on the condition that they came back as unharmed as humanly possible and tidied up the morning after. This is literally what my life is like. Every second of every day. You can go to your concert, but take some earplugs, stand back from the stage and preferably near an exit, and don’t go alone. The truce was brokered. And that’s how I ended up at an Iron Maiden concert. Obviously.

It’s certainly easier going to your second rock concert rather than the first, as you don’t know what to expect. That said, my first was in a club and this was in a huge arena. 10,000 people showed up. Remarkable, really. There were butterflies in my stomach but the excitement squished all of them. I couldn’t believe it. Iron Maiden. 1975 they were formed. 38 albums. The biggest and best rock band in history and certainly the best live. This is my Beatles. Except I like Maiden.

I was glad I wasn’t the only one wearing earplugs, although, must be said, most of the others were old men. I’ve never seen anything like it. Very young, teenagers, people who appeared to be in their 60s. Men, women. All people from all backgrounds. It was remarkable. Rock really does unite. That said, I wasn’t overly delighted to discover the band had decided to film this concert. Oh, yeah. The cameraman got right up in my grill whilst I was waiting in the wrong queue. Less said about that, the better.

We weren’t too far away from the stage, me and my brother. Quite close in fact. The electricity was amazing. “Maiden, Maiden, Maiden!” the crowd screamed. I felt alive, and that’s amazing, because I normally feel half-dead. And there they were. So brilliant. Best night of my life. Wonderful theatrical performance. Brilliant huge Aztec set. All of the lads dancing around on stage, even though they are aged between 58 and 64, they were more energetic than me, some plucky 20 something. Flags waving. Fire and flames everywhere. Costume changes every song. A spectacular fight with Eddie, their mascot, a giant puppet thing, who had its heart ripped out by Bruce and burst over the audience. It was amazing! I just… oh, man. Then there was the five story heads in the background, the amazing vocals, the guitar solos… oh, I’ll never have a day that good ever again. I mean, sure, I’ve gone deaf and I’m a bit singed, and my back and knees are killing me, but, really, if they’re not after a Maiden concert, it would’ve been a bit disappointing. It’s the least you expect, really…

I’m proud I went. I was so hesitant. As much as I rely on my logic, sometimes you gotta throw caution to the wind and go for it in life, no matter how hard that is for one as shy as me. Rock is a community, and it’s nice to feel part of something, to be surrounded by friends you’ve never met, to have a heart full of ‘blood’ burst all over your face and then thrown at you. What? That’s my idea of a cracking night out…

And now everything has gone back to normal. Apart from the ringing in my right ear. Oh, and apart from the fact mum and dad are going away on holiday soon and that things only go wrong for me in this situation whenever I try to do anything. As long as they’re not going away and leaving me on my own for too long, I’ll be fine.

What’s that? They’re going to Australia for a whole month? Really?

Oh, balls…

American singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, best known as the lead singer of Aerosmith, Steven Tyler (b. 1948), once said: “We believed anything worth doing was worth over-doing.”

Peace Out :|:

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The Cromulent Millipede


Here’s the story of buses, nostalgia, and goldfish flakes.

Is a millipede a normal pet for a child in 2017? I mean, when I was growing up, it was hamsters, dogs, fish… I mean, I did know someone with a parrot, but that’s the exception, rather than the rule. My cousin, on the other hand, has a millipede. And it’s a biggy. It’s as long as his arm, and I wish I were joking about that. Admittedly, that nugget of information would be rather more terrifying if he was 38 instead of just eight, but still… you can only imagine the reaction of his three-year-old sister when she saw that. She wanted a hamster, apparently. She certainly didn’t get that. That said, I wouldn’t be too disappointed. I mean, I’ve only held a hamster once but it left me scratched to hell and more bloodied than I normally like to be. You’d be better off with the parrot. They are lovely, by the way. I had one on my shoulder, once. It was a touristy gimmick rather than a former life as a pirate, in case you’re wondering…

I think my aunty used to have a parrot as well, and I have another who is terrified of them, which is a very strange phobia to have in England. We’re not really known for our parrots. Now if she was afraid of queuing, I’d be concerned.

I’ve never had a parrot, but I did have a goldfish. She was the best friend I ever had. No, wait. She was the only friend I ever had. No, wait. She was the closest thing I ever had to a friend. No, wait. She was a fish. That’s it. Maggie’s dead now, though. We had so much fun together. Like that time we moved house and we had to transport her in her tank whilst spilling as little water as humanly possible. Come to think of it, we should’ve just put her in a plastic bag with some air holes. And then there was that time… erm, actually, that’s the only fun time I can remember having with her. We buried her in the back garden in her favourite fabric. My curtains were made out of the same fabric. She was always staring at them so I naturally assumed she liked that fabric. That or she was longingly gazing out of the window hoping for freedom…

What? Lots of people name their goldfishes Margaret. It’s a perfectly cromulent name…

You know, now I think about it, it’s the tenth anniversary of her death next year. I wonder if I should do anything for it. Live of goldfish flakes for the day as a mark of respect. Black armband, maybe. Candlelight vigil? Maybe I could get Elton John to come and sing Amazing Grace. Too much? She was a big fan. Every time I put on his music, she kept banging her head against the glass. Oh, actually, she might have been trying to break free to get away from the music. Maybe a bit Freddy Mercury, then.

I get nostalgic for the olden days far too often. Especially considering I’m not even that old. In fact, I relish in it. They’ve just raised the bus fair prices, again. I remember that, when I was little, an adult single ticket would cost just 50p. 17 years later, it’s now £3.00. The bus driver was very apologetic when he saw a face like thunder staring back at him when he informed me of the new price. In typically British fashion, we prepare an angry rant in our heads but out of mouths comes a rather more polite, “Oh, well, no problem! It’s not your fault, you just drive the buses! Have a nice day!” Damn and dagnabbit. I was gonna give him a jolly good finger wagging…

It’s amazing I’m only 26. I sound 126. I’d love to make it to 126. If my sums are correct, Stagecoach keep raising the cost of a single ticket at a rate of £2.50 a decade, and I live to the age of 126, then when I die in 2116, the cost of a single ticket will be… £253. And five pence. And it’s that five pence that really irks me.

I don’t mean to sound old, but, “Eee, the bus were 50p when I were a lad” really doesn’t help matters. I also remember when the buses had letters and numbers, rather than just numbers, like they do nowadays. 50p for the 52A, on the old buses that were really narrow and had steps to get up to the driver and a little red handrail. And the seats had a thin metal bar and virtually no padding. There were no bells. Very dull interiors. Have you seen them now? It’s like an acid trip. Bright red floor. Bright blue walls and ceiling. Bright orange bars to hold on to. Fluorescent blue and orange seats. No legroom anymore, either. I was excited when they brought out these newfangled buses with no stairs and lots of room for the disabled and pushchairs. They called them lowliners and they had bells and air conditioning. They were a considerable improvement over the old ones, buses that often had burnt seats where bored teenagers had set fire to them. They didn’t have cameras on board, back then. I knew one girl who had sex on one of them. I can’t give you any more information about that endeavour because I didn’t really want to know anymore…

People laugh at my love of buses and call it little more than a dull obsession akin to trainspotting. That’s really unfair. Trainspotting is dull. If you enjoy trains, get on one. I’m not sat by the side of roads with a pair of binoculars hunting buses. I mean, okay, I did it once, but that’s not important.

I can’t really explain it, just like I can’t explain my love of the olden days, even if said days weren’t that long ago. I can’t explain why I kept an emergency bus ticket from 2001, basically a little piece of card with the driver’s pencilled scribbles all over it. I can’t explain why I remember each bus, even though they all look the same. “Ah, it’s 220631, I love this bus!” Yes, I have memorised most of the serial numbers. I can’t explain why I remember all the driver’s faces. “Oh, God, not her again. She’s so miserable.” Or, “Ah, it’s the weird Swede! I love this guy!” Equally, I can’t explain why I miss Maggie so much. She was just a goldfish. In fact, there are many things in my life I can’t explain. I’m very odd. I do lots of odd little things and odd little rituals. I have order, logic and routine engrained into my very soul. And people ask why. I don’t know. I think perhaps we’re all a little too busy trying to label and categorise people in this day and age. Is it so wrong not to want to be a part of a herd? I could be a bus critic, you know. Every new bus Stagecoach brings out has a different layout, and you betta believe I have strong opinions on some of their recent efforts…

Maybe looking back is a symptom of ageing. Maybe wanting to run away from being defined is also a symptom of the sands of time tick-tocking away. Maybe all this is insignificant. Maybe it was stupid a simple price rise in a bus ticket brought on all these memories of times gone by. Or maybe without nostalgia, memories and loss, no matter how trivial they may seem to others, is a part of who we are. Our characters and our souls. The very fibre of what makes people human. Maybe we should embrace the odd in ourselves, or maybe we should stop defining one another and embrace the one thing that binds us together. Our humanity. And our hatred of modern public transport prices, of course.

But whatever you do, really don’t get me started on these new Enviro buses Stagecoach have started using. Oh, God they’re bloody awful. It’s like an explosion in a seat and primary colour factory. Good heavens…

American novelist, short story writer, playwright, essayist and poet, Carson McCullers (1917-1967), once said: “We are homesick most for the places we have never known.”

Peace Out :|:

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The Bonrackles of Discontent


Here’s the story of goggles, burglars, and doolally.

Is it normal to wear Speedo goggles in the shower? I think I look rather fetching in them, if you don’t mind. Desperate times call for desperate measures, readers. I’m not allowed to get water in my eyes after my eye surgery but I do need to shower. I have the hair of a hippy but certainly not the hygiene of one. You might think it’s not all bad missing one or two bathing sessions, and you may be right, but I can’t let water touch my eyeballs for a couple months, so I’m stuck with goggles. It was a bit awkward and… let’s face it, weird, but I’m in a nice habit, now. Flick my extremely long hair forward, goggle strap round the back, hair flipped back over, goggles down. I do really need a haircut. I worry, as I always have done, that the house could be burgled whilst I’m in the shower. I don’t want to die naked. But I have been wondering this week if it would be worse if a burglar caught me wearing Speedo goggles whilst in the shower or wearing Speedo pants whilst in the shower. Do let me know what you think. I’d go for Speedo pants, but that’s just me…

I’ve never worn swimming goggles before or indeed swimming pants because I can’t actually swim nor will you ever get me anywhere near a body of water. There’s not always a lifeguard on hand, although there was that one time I nearly drowned in the deep end of my local pool and a rather handsome young lady fished me out. At least I think she was a lifeguard. It was a bit hard to see. I had a lot of chlorine in my eyes.

I wonder what one should call swimming goggles if one isn’t actually swimming with them. I can’t call them regular goggles because regular goggles are what you use in science class when the teacher is blowing shit up. Along with a shield, of course, otherwise known as a door, of which I was often on the other side, cowering with discontent. Then again, we call wheels tyres and that word comes from attire alluding to the fact the wheels are the ‘clothing of the car,’ which is just mental, when you think about it. Quaint, too, I s’pose. I can just imagine those early tyre pioneers looking at their creation. “Aww, they’re like little shoes.” Awww, how dumb. If I ever get my mittens on a time machine, I’m going back to that day and I’m going to recommend a different name for tyres. I don’t know, erm… bonrackles. Why not? Give me a time machine doohickey, I’m gonna step on as many butterflies as I can. Just call me Mr. Trouble. Oh wait, don’t, that’s a terrible name…

As you’ve probably figured out by now, my eye surgery recovery took a turn for the worse this week and since then I’ve gone rather doolally. You see, I was fine on Sunday, and then on Monday I couldn’t really open my eyes. Red raw. Streaming. Bloodshot red. Stinging. I was in utter agony. Total misery. And I didn’t know why. I was fine the day before. As a result, I’ve spent most of my week tucked up in bed, in a ball, crying inconsolably. Which can’t help matters. Tears in my eyes. Tears are, basically, water. I’d need something other than goggles for that. Reverse goggles, perhaps. Yes. I am on a lot of medication.

It’s weird getting used to life after my glasses. It’ll probably take a couple months for everything to settle. My left eye is still really cloudy. Bright lights are deafening. The green and blue hues of the grass and the sky are vivid and heavily saturated. Things in the distance seem so much farther away. My eyes hurt. Sigh. All for the greater good, though. That’s what I keep telling myself, even though I don’t believe it…

This is a new life and it’s odd. Very odd. And I’m not just talking about the shower goggles or the bonrackles or the bed goggles, I’m talking about every little thing. Oh, yeah. I have bed goggles, too. To stop me potentially damaging the eye flap. You probably don’t want to know any more about my eye flaps, do you? ‘Eyes’ and ‘flaps’ are two words that often rarely go together and when they do, make you squirm. Like, erm… moist bourbon.

It’s wonderful yet scary. I wake up in the morning and I can see the alarm clock. It’s a little thing but after spending 15 years waking up and having to fish around for my glasses to work out what time it is, it’s a real change. Just a little, little thing, but it’s like a harbinger of good. That things are different. Better. I thought it was so stupid before the surgery when they said that you’ll be delighted to see your alarm clock, especially considering most of us see ‘7:00am’ and start weeping. But they’re right. I see that and I smile. The first day, I just sat there, smiling at my alarm clock. Come to think of it, if the burglars broke in and saw that, they probably wouldn’t steal anything out of pity for a clearly deranged lunatic smiling at his alarm clock. Well, at least they haven’t seen me naked…

I have. And I’ve never seen myself naked with my glasses on. The average human is only ever naked, with the lights on, in the bathroom, and nobody who wears glasses wears them in the bathroom. I never have. But now I can see. And as well as being able to see how filthy the damn bathroom is, I can now see that I am… really not in good shape. My face looks awful. I never looked in a mirror with my glasses on. I am ageing terribly. Good gravy. Why did nobody tell me I had a face like a smacked arse? And as for the rest of me… oh boy…

I don’t know what to do with myself. Everything is still settling down and will take a couple weeks, so everything looks a touch strange and bizarre. Like a lucid dream. I find myself walking home in the rain and enjoying it. Not worrying about my glasses getting wet and the seven hours I’ll have to spend wiping them clean. Not having to take them off to avoid said cleaning and worrying about getting run over because I can’t see. It’s just little differences like that that mean the world to me. I don’t actually know what to do with all my free time, now. I was averaging ten hours a week cleaning my glasses. I might finally learn to play that guitar in the corner of my room, getting all dusty. Nah. There might be many differences, but I’m still a lazy sod. It’s too much effort. Heck, it’s even too much effort for me to pick up the bloody guitar. Looks pretty, though.

I’m sure I’m only just discovering the world of differences that lay in front of me. I’m sure there are so many more things I’ll learn about myself and the world that I’m realising I haven’t really seen properly for most of my life. Textures and colours are so much richer. Words carry more meaning because I can’t see the mouths of others in much greater detail. The world is so much more beautiful than I ever realised. Yes, my spectacle prescription wasn’t great. It was as awful as that moment in my surgery where they squished my eyeballs and all the blood vessels exploded. Yeah, that really happened…

I would, most certainly, recommend it to other people. I know it’s a lot of money but it’s a drop in the ocean when you consider the thousands of pounds it cost is only a fraction of what the average person spends on glasses and eye care in a lifetime. And despite the many months of recovery still ahead of me. Oh, wonderful. Still, at least I have a natty pair of shower goggles. Although heaven forbid if we have a really, really bad rainstorm.

In that instance, I’d probably have to wear them to work…

French author, André Gide (1869-1951), once said: “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

Peace Out :|:

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A Clockwork Dracula


Here’s the story of great popping balls of fire.

Don’t worry if you hear clicking sounds, that’s just the blood vessels in your eyeballs popping. Ah… rightio. Oh, and that burning smell, try not to think about it. It’s just your eyeballs on fire. Ah. Do you have a bucket? Don’t worry, it’s perfectly normal. THAT’S NOT NORMAL! How can I not worry about my eyeball blood vessels popping? Something that’s perfectly normal is something that happens every day, if one’s eyeballs are popping every day, I’d seriously consider a trip to the doctors. Ah, don’t worry, said the chirpy consultant. You’ll look just like Christopher Lee when he played Dracula. Oh gee, thanks, I’m sure that won’t freak out the hen party on the train. I’d rather look like Brad Pitt, but sure, Dracula. I mean, he’s from near where I live in Yorkshire, so maybe I can get away with the red eyes look as a homage, of sorts…

Yes, I’ve had my laser eye surgery. Apologies for the, what I’m sure are, like, a billion grammatical mistakes. I really can’t see a thing. Up close. I’m okay with distances, to a degree. They said I’ll have 80% of my vision back to normal within three days. I really shouldn’t be anywhere near a computer at the moment, to be frank, but I thought I’d let you guys know that I’m reasonably okay except for that bathroom thing. Oh, I never wore my glasses in the bathroom. My entire life, the bathroom has been one big blurry mess. It’s amazing how filthy it is. An unforeseen side affect of my surgery is getting used to being able to see. It means everything looks a lot bigger. In some instances, twice the size. I got an almighty fright when I woke up on Sunday and looked in the bathroom mirror. My head was enormous. Like one of those bobble heads. I’m seriously concerned about the size of my head. Was it always that big? Huh.

I must admit, I was incredibly frightened. I tried to take my mind of it by singing songs. In my head. I’d probably get kicked off the train if I did that aloud. My singing voice is truly awful. It’s why some people call my Cher. I don’t get the train very often. I could probably count on one hand how many times I’ve gotten a train in my lifetime. It’s a bit of a novelty. That said, it’s always nice to visit our grand old train station. Well, what’s left of it. The Germans bombed it. Still haven’t forgiven them for it. During World War 2, of course. Not… not last week. I think it probably would’ve made the news…

As I neared my destination, about an hour north, up in Newcastle, the butterflies in my stomach turned angry. Feral, even. Like those gremlins. Or Bill O’Reilly on a good day. The screaming hen party next me wasn’t doing much to calm said nerves. “Oh my God, I never thought he’d propose in the middle of Venice! I’d thought he’d order a curry and put the ring in that!” Yes. Welcome to northeast England. It’s a classy place. I wish them a lifetime of happiness. And curries, if she’s anything to go by.

You don’t need to know much about Newcastle. It’s all right as a city. Maybe a low, low 5/10. There are some pretty old buildings, I guess. A lot of people out drinking during the day. A nice bridge. Built in my hometown, nowhere near Newcastle. They’ve conveniently forgotten that fact, even though our name is stamped all over it, but there we are…

I wasn’t overly comforted by the fact that, as I sat in the waiting area, there were others around me who had just had the procedure done. One man, in his ‘60s, was practically on the floor curled up in a ball with tears streaming down his face, practically in a heap on top of a puddle of snot. Then a young girl came out. She looked around 18. She couldn’t see a thing and her eyes and nose were streaming, too. She turned to the old man. He turned to her. He tutted. “BLOODY ‘ELL, I’VE NEVER BEEN IN SO MUCH PAIN!” I mean, I love Optical Express, they’ve been wonderful to me. But I really don’t approve of the ‘waiting room for a procedure’ and ‘recovery room after a procedure’ being the same room.

Of course, I’m not going to give you the gory details of my surgery. It might make you vomit. Uncontrollably. A lot. Repeatedly. And then some. What I will say is that they took me in to this room that looked like one of the rooms you often see in alien films where said aliens take their kidnap victims to and experiment on. I really was… wetting myself at this point. They laid me on a bed that swivelled, left for the cutting laser and right for the correcting laser. My head was put in a mould and anaesthetic put in my eyes to numb them. The nurse then showed me these pretty lights I’d be looking at. Bright white. In a circle. You know, like those above the bed you see in all those alien films. I’m not saying it’s alien technology, but… erm, well, let’s just say I’m curious where NASA got it from. That’s all.

I won’t sicken you with the gory details. I won’t tell you about the huge rubber ring the surgeon put over my eye to keep it open, akin to Clockwork Orange. I won’t tell you about the suction cup thing they put over my eye to suck away the outer cells. I won’t tell you about the laser slicing the top of my eye open. I won’t tell you about the surgeon sticking a huge implement into my eyeballs and fishing around inside for a couple minutes. Nor can I tell you about the other rubber ring they used to press down on my eyeballs so firmly I lost vision in them for a minute and caused numerous blood vessels to pop. I also can’t tell you about the gritty feeling you get in your eyes afterwards, like someone is rubbing sand in them. Constantly. I can tell you about the nifty pair of swimming goggles they gave me to wear in bed at night so I don’t damage my healing eyes. They look pretty gnarly. I’m like Michael Phelps. Except I can’t swim. But apart from that…

Everything remains a touch hazy and a touch blurry. It’ll be a week before I know exactly how well all this has worked out, but early signs are good, even though I feel like utter shit. The consultant said I would, to be fair. He was funny. I liked him. He did actually say that. “Look, I’ll be honest with you. For the next few days, you’ll feel like utter shit.” Yes. Quite. Quite a lot, in fact. So apologies if I sound a bit groggy and miserable. Sorry, more miserable than usual. Important to make that distinction, I find.

I can’t quite believe I went through with it. Since I made this decision, there’s been a little devil on my shoulder telling me it’s stupid and pointless. But I’m already seeing the benefits. Metaphorically. I can’t actually see a great deal. I mean, I went for a bite to eat after the surgery and I had a glass of Coke and, for the first time in nearly two decades, my glasses weren’t ruined by all the fizzy Coke flying out of the glass and smearing across my lenses. I mean, it’s not a common perk to getting one’s eyes lasered, but I’ll take it…

I mean, sure, there are some downsides. I have to clean the bathroom, now. I’m not allowed to touch my eyes, which makes getting the sleep out of them in the morning a real pain in the backside. I’m also on around five drops a day. For a month. Oh, and I keep forgetting I’m not wearing glasses. It is all a bit surreal. The downside to this is that I’ve gotten into the habit of pushing my glasses up and I haven’t broken it yet.

There’s only so many times one can tolerate poking oneself in the eye…

American writer and journalist, Jeannette Walls (b. 1960), once wrote: ‘Glasses were like crutches. They prevented people with feeble eyes from seeing the world on their own.’

Peace Out :|:

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The Sleepwalker of Ironopolis


Here’s the story of folk music, comeuppance, and porcelain baths.

Have you ever broken your leg and not known how you did it? I’ve broken my finger before and I knew I’d broken that because I couldn’t stop screaming. Yet I just went to bed one night and woke up the next day with a pain in my lower leg so bad I couldn’t put any pressure on it. So I couldn’t do things like stand. Or sit. Or do my morning star jumps. But it can’t be broken because… I’d know about it, wouldn’t I? I am the type of person who ends up with injuries and no explanation for how they happened. I wake up covered in bruises all the time. I wonder if I have a nighttime alter ego. Boxing extraordinaire, ‘The Sleepwalker.’ But, I mean, come on, that’s just ridiculous. Where are the gloves? That said, my mum did sleepwalk a lot when she was younger. There was this one time when my granddad woke up with my sleepwalking mother’s hands around his throat, but that’s a story for another day…

In case you’re wondering, yes, I did spend many a sleepless night with something propped up against by bedroom door after mother told me that particular hilarious anecdote. Sigh. I can’t have broken my leg. I wouldn’t be able to walk. It can’t be a sprain, either. A fracture? I don’t know. It does make for an interesting walk to work, though. Step. “ARRGH! HOLY SWEET MOTHER OF GOD, I’M DYING HERE!” Another step. “ARRGH! CRAP! HOLY BADGER ON A STICK!” Yet another step. “ARRGH…” And so on.

I’m not kidding, it is agony. But I haven’t fallen over. I haven’t fallen out of bed. I mean, I haven’t done that in ages. Otherwise known as last week. I haven’t banged it on anything. I haven’t gotten into a fight with a giraffe. I mean, is my body falling apart already? I was hoping to get a couple more miles out of it, but never mind…

That said, I did slam my shin into the bathtub last week when I had those drops put in my eyes, the ones that made everything a bit fuzzy and as dilated as a hippy. I had to have my shower with the lights off, which, in retrospect, wasn’t my greatest ever idea. At night.

But it’s only made of plastic. Not porcelain. Like they used to be. Oh, I sincerely hope that didn’t make me sound too old. You know, porcelain baths were all the rage in the ‘90s. I remember when we got rid of ours. We couldn’t afford a skip so we chucked it in the back garden and dad gave me a hammer. “Here son, have some fun…” And I did. We then just put the pieces in the regular trash. We did that when we got rid of our old computer, as well. “Here’s a hammer, smash the hard drive to pieces.” “Erm, where’s the hard drive?” “I don’t know.” “Should I just smash the whole thing?” “Yeah, go for it…”

As a result of my injury, one that is getting considerably worse by each new day, I am struggling to get by as normal. I had an appointment this week and I had to get to it from work. Now I work in the town centre and the appointment was also in the town centre, about a 30 minute walk. Yeah, I wasn’t… I wasn’t gonna make it, readers. So I got a bus. I timed the journey to about one minute, 40 odd seconds. You shoulda seen the looks of the people on the bus. I was a bit embarrassed. They didn’t know I was injured. I heard one woman turn to a friend and whisper, not very quietly, “God, I thought that was an old man getting on.” ALRIGHT! I know I’m young and supposedly healthy, but with a mysterious leg wound and a largely bacon diet, I’m not doing so well!

It is embarrassment why I haven’t gone to the doctors. I assume it’s either a small hairline fracture or a bruised bone, but I’ve never had either, before. My knee also keeps seizing up, so it could be that old injury I got in school flaring up again. I can’t go to the doctors over a sore leg, though. They’re always complaining about people wasting their time. I could go to these pharmacy nurses we have in the UK, but that’s also embarrassing. I could also Google it, but Google has a habit of ranking diagnosis’s by how likely they are to kill you, the deathiest first. ‘Google, diagnosis of sore leg so painful I’m literally weeping here.’ ‘Google: Diagnosis: Smallpox.’ WHAT! ARRGH! I HAVE SMALLPOX! Oh, it’s the end of everything!

Not that I’m a worrier. Ahem…

I don’t feel like I’m getting old. 27 isn’t young anymore, but in that grey area between youth and mid-life crisis. Incidentally, I don’t know how my mid-life crisis might manifest itself. I mean, I could end up on top of a mountain in Italy having embraced Buddhism, but equally, all the things that are supposed to happen during a mid-life crisis have already happened to me. On numerous occasions. I don’t know, maybe I’m immune. Or maybe I’m in the middle of it. I have started listening to folk music recently, for no apparent reason. If that isn’t a symptom of a mid-life crisis…

When do you give up on youth? In the last couple of months, if I kneel down I stand back up again with a grunt or two and lots of cracking bones. I’m out of breath walking up the stairs. Now my shin has exploded on me. Remember that time I fell through the shed roof? That would probably kill me now.

Some would argue that this is nature’s comeuppance for my inactive lifestyle of homemade triple stacked bacon cheeseburgers and exercise being a leisurely stroll down the stairs as little as possible, and you may be right. I’ve often said that a lifetime of hedonism is preferable to a lifetime of salad because at the end of said lifetime of salad I’d be far more miserable than at the end of said lifetime of hedonism, regardless of whether or not said hedonism kills me a couple decades before said salad. I still feel that way, largely, so I’m certainly no role model, although if you haven’t figured that out after six years of this blog’s existence, you never will. But maybe I’ll have an apple a week, instead of that sixth bacon sandwich. I mean, I’m a hefty ten stone, readers. For my age and height, I should weigh around 9.8. And you know how anal I am. That .7 is keeping me awake at night…

I’ve tried my best, however, to stay as healthy as I can this week. Trying to avoid the migraines and praying to whoever is listening that this sniffle is just a sniffle and not a full blown flu. I’m also praying that this leg will sort itself out sooner rather than later and, while I’m at this whole praying game, I’m also praying for a triple stacked bacon cheeseburger to appear at some point, hopefully sooner rather than later. Don’t worry, I’ll have a slice of apple with it.


Next Saturday, all being well, I’m off for my laser eye surgery. I am apocalyptically terrified and fearful it won’t work or it’ll go wrong, which happens about once in every 3000 operations. So it’s unlikely I’ll be able to get a new post up next Saturday, but I’ll be thinking of you. The closest people I have to friends, strangers on the internet. If there’s no new post up by Tuesday, assume the surgery has gone horribly, horribly wrong and I’ve died a horrible, horrible death by laser.

Don’t worry, that’s a cool death. I’d be happy with that. I’ve had a fun 27 years.

All I ask is that you bury me in a bacon coffin…

Irish playwright, critic and polemicist, George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), once said: “Youth is wasted on the young.”

Peace Out :|:

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The Story of Gravy on Ice Cream Draped in Cyanide

Post CCC

Here’s the story of Smurfing oneself, my glasses (again), and parachute pants.

If I turn anymore blue, I swear to God I’m gonna start to resemble a Smurf. I’m not kidding, either. I woke up this week with the tops of my arms a grey-blue colour. The next day, my armpits had joined the blue revolution. And then, to top it all off, my nipples turned a similar shade. I was really starting to panic. All kinds of dark thoughts entered my mind. I’d never experienced anything quite like it. I first ran with the theory that it was a bruise of some kind. I then recalled I woke up recently asleep on both my arms, going so numb I couldn’t really move. Jesus, what if it’s a blood clot! What if it’s a new disease! I don’t want a new disease named after me! A new type of bacon, certainly. My worry grew so great I was struggling to breathe. I decided to have a shower to cool down. Funny thing, when I came out, I wasn’t blue anymore. In retrospect, it was fairly obvious the dye coming off a blue shirt mum had just bought me was to blame…

But that’s not important. Nor is it important that mum bought me some new jeans later on that had a similar blueing effect making me more Smurf than man. No, the elephant in the room is that I shouldn’t be writing this now. Yes, if this post appears more gibberish than usual, I would like to apologise. You see, I am completely blind. I cannot see a goddamn thing. I had these drops put in my eyes on Friday that made my pupils turn so damn large I look like I should be an extra in Trainspotting….

It does mean I am attempting to write this with sunglasses on in a really dark room, and these are no ordinary sunglasses. Actually, they are. The optometrists won’t let me wear my prescription sunglasses. Also, I don’t actually own any prescription sunglasses. So we had to find some non-prescription sunglasses in a house where all the occupants wear glasses. The only pair we could find belongs to my dad and he bought them in 1973. No, they’re no Aviators, but very Miami Vice. That’s a reference for the kids.

If the thought of somebody having a shave in the nude wearing sunglasses amuses you, may I remind you that I am in the most agonising pain imaginable. I cannot describe to you how large my pupils are. I can see my own face in them, for heaven’s sake. Lights really have never been brighter. And everything is really blurry, too. I’m not particularly enjoying my Easter, if I’m being honest. I’m pretty damn miserable. And the worst part is that it’s the best shave I’ve had in years…

You might be wondering why I’ve put myself through such misery and pain. It’s an excellent question. I know it’s become a tired old trope, but in case you’re new here, I very much see my glasses, and I’m not understating this, as the devil incarnate. The biggest shit heap imaginable. Pure gravy on ice cream draped in cyanide. Ooh, that’s the title sorted. That’s nice. Normally takes me about an hour to come up with that…

The point is, they’ve spent 12 years making my life a living hell. Migraine after migraine. Headache after headache. Four hours to clean five times a week. Weird eye swirls and chants of ‘specky twat’ from strangers on the street. Admittedly, without them, I’m sure those strangers would find something else to have a go at me for, but I’d rather that than be defined by something I have no control over. My terrible dress sense. Oh, I have control over that? No, I don’t. Poor eyesight isn’t the only sense I’m lacking. Fashion sense, too.

I know it crippled me last time, but I decided to go for the laser surgery again. Well, actually, mum and dad did. They know how unbelievably angry my glasses make me. Stressed out and as violent as parachute pants. That’s another reference for the kids.

So I get in from work and they want to have a chat with me. That never happens. I suspected it was bad news. We’ve sold all your valuable old toys, we’re kicking you out, you’re adopted, things like that. They’d actually booked me a free consultation to see if I could have the laser surgery or lens replacement. I’m not ashamed to admit it, I did have a little cry that night. You will never understand just how much glasses have destroyed my life. How miserable they make me. How much I hate them with a passion equivalent only to my hatred of ‘70s sunglasses. My glasses have upset me so much I’ve broken down in tears over them on numerous occasions. And I have tried, time and time and time again to get laser surgery, and not once would they let me have it. And I’m not allowed contacts because my prescription is so powerful. It destroyed me last time I was told I couldn’t have the surgery. I broke down in tears and wasn’t my old self for weeks. So what about this time?

I’m having it. I’LL BE ABLE TO SEE AGAIN! It’s an Easter miracle!

It’s somewhat ironic that, at the moment, I can’t see. The consultant optometrist, a lovely Irish chap, had to put these drops in that have, effectively, made me blind. “Well, worse case, you won’t be able to see for four days. But most people get their vision back within a couple hours.” 48 hours later, let me tell you this: I’m the special case. The one in a million  who STILL CAN’T BLOODY SEE TWO BLOODY DAYS LATER! I had to have a shower with the light off! I have no idea what I washed my goolies with! It felt nice, though…

I couldn’t believe it when he said I was a ‘perfect candidate.’ Look, I know it’s gonna cost around four grand, but in an average lifetime, I would spent anywhere from 20 to 30 grand on eye operations, eye treatments, glasses, etcetera. I’ve already spent somewhere in the region of five to 10 grand in just 12 bloody years. I need that many bloody new glasses every year because my prescription changes so damn much I’m practically bankrupt. It’s a drop the ocean, four grand. There was a 95-year-old in the newspaper the other day who has spent 50 grand on his bloody eyes! I deserve this! 12 years of misery! It’s the same technology NASA uses to correct their astronaut’s vision! That’s how to hook people like me into things like this! If it’s good enough for our brave men and women in space, fighting all those fantastical tentacled space beasts from beyond the Moon, to defend our precious Earth, then it’s good enough for me! That… that is what they’re doing up there, right? Right? Ha, next thing you’ll be telling me Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy never hooked up…

I can’t quite believe it’s real. I’m still expecting something to go wrong. Two weeks is all I have left with my glasses, at least until I turn 45 when I’ll need a pair of reading spectacles, but that’s fine because I don’t read books. I read the TV guide. Does… does that count as a book? Hmm… anyway… such is life. I am terrified. Of course I am. It will be a long and often painful journey. Six months before I’ll be given the all clear. I mean, they say it’s a simple procedure, but… I’m still a little worried about someone cutting my eye open with a laser to make a flap, then firing a secondary laser at the back of my eye for a couple minutes, and I’m seriously worried about something the surgeon told me this morning regarding a strong burning smell I should expect. A STRONG BURNING SMELL! I wonder if it’ll smell of chicken…

Oh crap! I’ve just remembered I have to go to Easter Mass looking like Stevie Wonder!

That’s not good. That’s not good at all…

American comedian and violinist, Henny Youngman (1906-1998), once said: “If at first you don’t succeed… so much for skydiving.”

Peace Out :|:

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The Bacon Indemnity


Here’s the story of laziness, life, and pointless children.

I’ve never been called a lazy sod before, which is remarkable, because it’s 100% accurate. That said, such words did hurt my feelings a little. If I had walked from the bus station in the city centre to where I work, on the other side of the city centre, it would’ve taken about half an hour and would have, most likely, resulted in a me more dead than alive. Whilst I do acknowledge that my bacon only diet isn’t the best diet in the world, I can’t imagine a better epitaph on my gravestone. ‘Here lies Ally. Died of a bacon overdose…’

So I did the logical thing and decided to get a bus, only a 10 minute hop down the road. And as I was getting off the bus, I heard an old lady behind me say, “What a lazy sod!” I mean, sure, she doesn’t know anything about my poor health or the fact that I haven’t been very well this week, or the fact I’d spent the best part of an hour wandering around looking for chocolate, but come on, that’s a bit harsh. You’re saying it as if it’s a bad thing, and I must say, I’m immensely proud of my laziness. As I hurtle toward 27, I am getting rather good at laziness. Well, I say hurtle. I actually mean, ‘moving toward it slowly on a mobility scooter.’ I saw someone on one of those this week get wedged between two sign posts. That nugget of information is completely irrelevant, but I thought you’d like to know…

Some would say that old lady didn’t have the right to judge me, and you may very well be on to something there. Her entire attitude stunk, if I’m being honest. Only moments earlier, she passed judgment on a young mother of two. Look, I hate children more than most people do. They’re loud, they stink, they embarrass you, they’re only relevant to maintain the human race – you know, the usual gripes. But even I must concede that it’s not an easy job being a parent, speaking as someone who once spent an entire day chasing after a 16 month old in a park chasing after a baby duck, with both of us being chased by its angry mother. They do act up and shout loud. They’re children. And you know what that old lady on the bus said? “GOD, I HOPE SHE GETS OFF THE BUS SOON!” The look of embarrassment across that young mothers face was awful. She looked humiliated. People can be so cruel, but by the time you’ve hit your 50s, you should know better.

I thought she was doing a good job, actually. One of these people you look at with their kids and you know they’re great at it. Not like with me at all. The last baby I held threw up on me. The one before that started crying the second I was given him and stopped when I gave him back to his mother, which also hurt my feelings. The one before that just stared at me with psycho eyes as the theme from The Shining played out in my head…

You might wonder why I spent an hour looking for chocolate. There’s this little thing coming up called ‘Easter’ and erm, yeah, apparently, nobody has told any of the people who run any of the shops in my city centre. Nothing anywhere. Lots of cards, though, but that is very weird. I mean, who gives out cards for Easter? THAT IS NOT NORMAL! Where’s the chocolate! “Well, we have lots of teddy bears…” “I DON’T WANT A TEDDY BEAR! I WANT CHOCOLATE AND… actually, I am looking for a teddy bear…”

I do my Easter shopping early. I didn’t at all get my dates horribly wrong. Ahem.

It’s very easy to criticise others, isn’t it? It’s very easy to pass judgment. I know I’m plenty guilty of that. It’s also very easy to be miserable. I’m also guilty of that. Hit with another migraine this week and a particularly nasty sugar crash what with my blood sugar problems continuing to be a pain in the arse. Which is a medical term, I think you’ll find. It’s very easy to be full of doom and gloom and let the little things eat away at you. That woman on that bus ruined what was otherwise a great Friday for me. I did all my shopping and got the right bus and got off at the right stop, after spending the entire week panicking that I’d get the wrong one and get off at the wrong stop, and that something would go wrong with my shopping, as so often does, victims of my social anxiety. We all remember that time I rocked up in that shop and forgot how to add. That wasn’t a great day, must be said.

Life is incredibly short and incredibly fragile. You don’t know when it’s gonna end, or how. Hopefully bacon related. You can spend your time worrying about others and the little things, or you can realise they’re trivial. Sure, they matter, but they shouldn’t consume you. They shouldn’t become you. You should try to live each day with a smile on your face and enjoy the good moments, and hold on to them, so when something bad happens, all you have to do is remember the good and remember that no amount of bad will ever take that away from you. It’s all you can do. Bad things will happen. What I learnt from that angry and bitter old lady on the bus was this. You gotta be better than that. Instead of putting each other down by highlighting our flaws and what’s different, how about we be nice to each other? At least then people won’t write ‘total bastard’ on your gravestone. Make the most of life whilst the Sun shines, and don’t be the one who extinguishes that flame in others…

Now if you don’t mind, it’s time for my third bacon sandwich of the day…

South African social rights activist and retired Anglican bishop, Desmond Tutu (b. 1931), once wrote: ‘We are fragile creatures, and it is from this weakness, not despite it, that we discover the possibility of true joy.’

Peace Out :|:

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post. You can leave a comment and/or like this post below, or by clicking the title on the top of this post if you are on the ‘Archives’ page. Likes and follows greatly appreciated. Thanks.

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