Saturday, 20 June 2015

A Moment In Life.

To find beauty in your own solitude takes bravery. So rare that we would ever hear the song of a bird first thing in the morning and then ask ourselves why we cannot match its perfection. If we dared look at how all that is around us is greater than our dreams, would our spirits not just wither? Perhaps soar? The chance too great to take. Our streets and cars and jobs and devices and our wants and must haves... How can we compare these to a flower in bloom? Can I let nature remind me of my nothingness? I cannot. For I am a coward.

I awoke in Kavos yesterday and it was time to say farewell. Before my coach arrived, I had but a moment to gaze upon the sea once more. It was sunrise and I walked to the jetty to have the waves beneath me and the majesty of the sun awakening before me. As I progressed across the old, wooden jetty, I was gripped by a fear. I am alone. Nature is all that surrounds me, with a song that I could never match. What do I do in this life? Where do I go in this world? I cannot face these thoughts. I stop, barely feet and inches onto the jetty's long invitation to revel in the ocean and to join it as the sun insists its wonder. I could walk to the very end of the jetty... But I am a coward.

Not all men are as I.

One sole figure stands at the jetty's end. He too looks at the sun. But he can see it rising perfectly where my sight of it is blocked by trees and villas. I have but a low tide beneath my feet where he has the ocean. I look at him and see all that I am not. A man alone and unafraid. Far out and content. Nature above and below, a man facing his inner self and all that this world can give us. I look at him and I smile. At least there is one such as he. Brave. Connected. Beautiful.

As these thoughts entered my mind, I saw him get his cock out of his pants and photograph it.

I am never coming back here.

My new show, TELL IT LIKE IT IS, STEVE, will be at the Edinburgh Fringe from 6th to the 30th August at The Stand Comedy Club 2. Get tickets here:

Thursday, 18 June 2015

The Impotence of Being Ernest.

All great writers need a place to write. A retreat that takes them away from the hustle and bustle of normal life to find a perfect tranquility that will let the mind wander or focus and allow the pen and the page to bask in the unstoppable flow of inspiration. So, like Ernest Hemingway himself, I’ve gone to a Club 18-30 resort in Corfu.

Fucking hell. Look, I was drunk when I made the booking but as soon as I arrived in the deafening noise that was Kavos, I quickly realised my mistake.

After checking into the abandoned leper colony I booked myself into, I was shown to my cupboard where I was guaranteed 4 incredible sleepless nights listening to screaming, drunk children while I lie on a medium sized shoe insole that the concierge angrily threatened was my bed. The cupboard had many fine features to recommend it (if you’re looking for a place to film Saw VIII) such as the sink right by the bed that when used makes the bathroom sink fill up with sewage. The room also boasts electricity, but only when there is definitely someone in the room. No, I don’t know how that works either. But the real home-away-from-home treat was the suspicious brown stains streaked across the wall by the toilet that has a sign saying “Please only use when necessary”.

Realising that I couldn’t stay there sober, I left the colony to seek out the local noise bars. Scorers is a sports bar with 4 different big screen TV’s all showing 4 different sporting events simultaneously with the sound on full volume even though it’s drowned out partially by the huge sound system that constantly plays every sound I despise to a matching light show that, even if I described it, would kill an epileptic. Scorers is the nicest bar in Kavos. To be fair though, Scorers at least had friendly staff. “You just arrived?”, asked the barman. I asked him how he knew and he replied “Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, You’re white as fuck”. This has now happened in every single place I’ve been to in Kavos. At least 5 times a day. Every day. “Have you just arrived?”, they’d say and I’d lie and say yes and then they’d laugh for 82 minutes and then spit “You’re white as fuck” at me. Yes! Yes, I am. I don’t lie on beaches ever. I have basically never sunbathed. I like the sun a lot, it’s one of my favourite on fire things, but I can’t just lie there and con myself into thinking I’m going to look great soon. I have tried but it’s never, ever worked. I’m too white for the sun. I actually reflect the light back on to the sun and burn it. I burn the sun. If I ever took my t-shirt off (and I never have done), I’d probably give the sun skin cancer. Anyway, I’m not here to worship the sun. I’m here to write.

Writing is never going to happen here.

Kavos is just bars (almost all called Tits) and cafés (almost all called Meat) and medical buildings (all called You Stupid Drunk British Arsehole, Come Here). It’s a strip of bedlam. But as I walked down further into the noise, I started to like the looks I got. And I got a lot of looks. Walking down the strip, everyone looked at me. Go into a bar, everyone looked at me. Walk along the beach, everyone looked at me. Of course they did. I was by far the oldest person they had ever seen in their lives and somehow I was here, alone, at their youth club. I got looks, so many looks, but people very much kept their distance. Promoters would see people walking around and immediately promise them everything to get them into their club. I was never approached. Not once. It’s basically like the Edinburgh Fringe.

I knew I couldn’t stay out much later that first night. The place was getting louder and I was scaring people. I’d have to go back to the colony. But maybe it won’t be so bad. At least the weather is nice and there’s so much excitement around that maybe that positivity will rub off on me and I’ll write something good. Then I saw a sign for a cocktail that was a pint of Lilt and 9 different shots drunk from a hollowed out watermelon. It was called Tropical Cunt. I went back to the colony.

Writing is never going to happen here.

The next day hunger forced me to leave the comfort of my squalor. As I returned to the strip, I found it heartening to know that the Keep Calm and blah-blah-blah campaign is alive and well here in Kavos, whereas subtlety has been all but erased. Keep Calm and Suck My Cock was the first of the t-shirts I saw and it was nice to see balance fully restored with Keep Calm and Lick My Pussy, although what Keep Calm and Slut Down means is still a mystery. Now I’m completely calm but I’m still pretty hungry and there seems to be nowhere for me to eat. That is, until I see Music’s.

I walked right past the café bar called Music’s at first but then something caught my eye. I stopped, took two steps back and properly looked at the bar. It had four tables all with a “classic” rock album cover forming the table top. One of the “classic” rock albums was what drew me in. I’ll let you guess which one. They were Sticky Fingers by The Rolling Stones, Sgt Pepper by The Beatles, Definitely Maybe by Oasis and, of course, Whispers of Dire Straits: The Best of The Band’s Ballads. You’re probably listening to it right now.

I took a seat at the Whispers of Dire Straits table and was offered a choice of three breakfasts: The Rolling Stones, which is a huge plate of meat with three eggs, beans, toast and tea. Oasis, which is a smaller plate of meat, one egg, beans, toast and tea. And finally the vegetarian breakfast that was called… Genesis. How they came to that, I don’t know. Genesis are definitely the best of the three bands but HOW DARE THEY just ASSUME I like Genesis, even though they’re right. The contents of the Genesis breakfast wasn’t on the menu because they didn’t know what it was because no had ever asked for it. Ever.

Day two was even harder than day one. It got depressing. I couldn’t go into any of the bars because I just can’t go into a bar called Tits. Then I found myself just hanging out in a shop. Just like a normal newsagent’s-y kind of shop. For over an hour. Doing nothing.

Writing is never going to happen here.

I think I spent so much time in the newsagent’s because I wondered why there was a 20 year old English bloke working there. All the bar staff over here are young English people and I understand that. They probably came over on holiday last year and then decided to come back for three months and work in that bar that they got shit-faced in every night. But why is this guy working in a newsagent’s? I was hoping to overhear him say “I was here last year. Came into the shop every day with my mates. It was AMAZING. We used to buy M&M’s and then TOTALLY flick through Marie Claire. WICKED!” I realised that I couldn’t hang around a newsagent’s waiting for a 20 year old man’s back story so I left to find a pub. A proper pub. One that wasn’t called tits.

I found the only pub in Kavos with people my age in it. All 40-something couples saying nothing to one another, just sitting there and thinking about the mistake that was coming to Kavos, in a very quiet pub just for us lot, far from the madding crowd. The pub was called Memories. That, after all, is all you have left when you’re in your 40s and you’ve ended up in Kavos. And it was the polar opposite of every other bar in town. They could have at least called it Mammary’s. I left.

There’s still some life in me yet so sitting in a retirement lounge called Memories is still some way off for me. It’s time to get down at a discotheque! I walked into a night club and was immediately thrilled. I haven’t been to one in years. Then the bouncer asked me for I.D.! AMAZING! That definitely hasn’t happened in decades. I was so, so, so, SO happy… until the bouncer said “You look over 30. Its 18-30’s only in here”. Bollocks.

 So, I just stayed in the bar outside the night club. It was full and noisy in the bar anyway. I didn’t need their stupid night club. I’m here for a good time and they can’t stop me. And I had a great time. I actually had a brilliant night. There’s very little for me to do in Kavos but I think I finally found the one and only thing this place has to offer me. Just standing in the bar and, once again, I could feel people looking at me. “Why is he here?” their looks seem to say. “Why is this ancient, grey man in our bar?” People just seemed to stop smiling and talking to one another… Fewer people were dancing… People were starting to stare into their drinks. THIS IS AMAZING! Just me being here is enough to RUIN everyone’s night. I wasn’t doing anything, didn’t talk to anyone and I wasn’t dancing along or singing to the music. I was just there. Doing nothing. AND IT FREAKED THEM OUT.

It was brilliant.

Why didn’t I realise this sooner? I would have had such a good time. Just me being there and suddenly everyone feels a bit sick and sad and awkward. When I walked in I saw a young couple dancing and flirting. Within 10 minutes they stood in silence just staring into their drinks until eventually she whispers in his ear that she wants to leave. “Come on, Marcus”, I imagine she said. “That man has put me right off my Tropical Cunt”.

It’s my last day and I’ve already ruined an entire pool party. The colony held a pool party in a mass grave that the concierge angrily threatened is a swimming pool. There was foam and free drinks and DJ’s and it was booked between 4:30pm until 9pm. I got there at 5 and sat at the bar reading a book. The party was over by 5:15.

And now it’s my last night so I’m off to actually have a Tropical Cunt. I think it’s the right thing to do. I’ve found out how to have a great time in Kavos and that’s something to be proud of. Yes, it’s by ruining everyone else’s time but maybe I’m what has made their holiday memorable. And not much writing got done but, then, how could it here? I’m just an old man by the sea. I’d like to see Hemingway get something out of that.

My new show, TELL IT LIKE IT IS, STEVE, will be at the Edinburgh Fringe from 6th to the 30th August at The Stand Comedy Club 2. Get tickets here:

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

P.O. Box.

I am great at meeting people. It's almost like I'm a magnet for people. I meet them all the time. Wherever I go. People, people, people. Some people have told me they find it impossible to meet people, especially in London where there's only 8.3 million of them, but it comes very naturally to me. I'm good at it. No, I'm GREAT at meeting people. It's just that once I've met a person, I ruin both of our lives. Immediately.

In the 1990's, when meeting my then girlfriend's mum for the very first time, I accidentally bit her. It's hard to come back from that. Especially as my then girlfriend and I had split up on the way to meeting her mum, it might have looked like I wasn't exactly taking it well. I'm sure it must have helped her with the decision not to see me again though. I was once introduced to a man who looked like Dave from Chas & Dave and I told him I hated Chas & Dave. I don't, by the way. They're great. I only said it for a joke because he looked like Dave from Chas & Dave and then he told me he WAS Dave from Chas & Dave. When I met my old flatmate, he constantly talked about how in love he was with a woman called Cheryl. They saw each other all the time and she thought of him as her best friend, exactly what he didn't want. So, to impress her, he decided to invite her round to meet me. (I know and you know. But he didn't know) As soon as I met Cheryl I said "Charmed, I'm sure". I may as well have said "Run for your life. I'm a cunt". I realised it was a stupid thing to say so, to put her at her ease, instead of shaking her hand I decided to kiss it. That didn't help at all. Especially as I loudly, disgustingly and completely unexpectedly farted at the same time. I don't know if they ever got together. I just know that I haven't seen him since 1995.

Even yesterday I met the new window cleaner in my street. He pointed out how nice the weather was and I replied with, and I quote: "Yes. Sun Lewisham time".

But at least I met him. It just didn't work out. It never does. That man has a skill and he has confidence. Why the hell is he talking to me? Pick on someone your own depth. Leave me alone. Even if I hadn't just said the most gormless thing anyone has ever said, what would we have in common? I don't know how ladders or suds work. I can't banter with people while whistling and winking and if I knew how to clean a window then I wouldn't be completely dependent on him doing it.

But at least I met him. And he was right about the weather. It was beautiful. Even Lewisham looks lovely in the sunshine. There's a sort of shimmering haze that beams off the graffiti and sick. I decided to go for a nice stroll around the town and passed a church with an adorable little bric-a-brac market right at the front. I say an adorable little bric-a-brac market, basically a load of angry people put everything they hated into plastic bags and then fucked the bags over the church wall but it was as close as Lewisham gets to a Moroccan bazaar. It was mainly just clothes and baby toys lying in a puddle but, as I passed, I couldn't help but notice a large box sitting away from all the other junk. I couldn't help noticing it because it had about 15 Doctor Who DVDs in it.

Right. What ones do I not have? Even as I got closer to the box, I knew this was going to be pointless. I have them all. It's not like they found Fury From the Deep and put it out and forgot to tell me. They always tell me. But I'll have a look anyway. The DVDs were in great condition so whoever buys them has got a great bargain. That's if you COULD buy them. There was nothing around to suggest you could. No till or charity money box. Not even a person. It was just a box of stuff sitting on the pavement all on its own. And it wasn't just Doctor Who DVDs in there. There were two Alan Partridge DVDs too. I have them already. And all The League of Gentlemen DVDs, which I also have. And Dark City, one of my favourite films. The same DVD sits pride of place on my shelf at home. So many CDs in there too. Most of which I had and a few that I think I wanted to buy at the time but glad I didn't because I'm sure I'd have regretted it. I have quite a few regrets in my CD collection myself. There must have been 30 Star Wars figures in there, just like the ones I have and even a Death Star T-Shirt almost the same as mine. And underneath the DVDs was a pile of collected Kerrang! magazines from the '80's.

I have found my soulmate. 

Somewhere in Lewisham is my best mate. My life-long buddy. My brother from another mother. My... Friend. He likes EVERYTHING that I like. I looked further into the box hoping to find psoriasis cream or some bottles of very, very vegan water or a really adorable dog. I mean, he's bound to have asthma like me because... Well, look at him. He IS me. And he's right here in Lewisham. My BEST FRIEND lives in Lewisham and for the first time in my life I'm excited to meet someone. I'm not afraid to meet someone. I actually WANT to meet someone. My best friend. We can watch Genesis Of The Daleks together and record our own commentary to put out as a podcast. We can go to Forbidden Planet together and buy those Doctor Who t-shirts designed to look like The Doctor's clothes. Him Tom Baker, I Peter Davison. We'll go to see Morrissey together and talk about how great he is all the way there and about how terrible he was all the way back. I'll introduce him to great vegan restaurants and he can show me where the best Heavy Metal bars in London are. And we'll laugh. We'll laugh all the time. Of course, we will because my best friend and I don't just like the same things. We also hate the same things too. And we'll spend all our long, sunny days taking the piss out of idiots and laughing and even laughing at each other. Yes! We're best friends so we won't mind having a matey pop at one another. I tell you what, I'll certainly be having a go at him for throwing Doctor Who DVDs out, that's for sure. "Mate!", I'll say. "Why you throwing these bloody brilliant DVDs out? Mum think they're too scary for you?" and we'll laugh. We'll go to the pub for a tankard of the barkeep's very finest - OR TEN - and I'll say "Mate! Why did you throw these DVDs out?" Ha! Yeah. Yeah, no, but really. Why... Why did he throw all this stuff out?

He's dead, isn't he? My best friend in the whole world. A man who knows me, who gets me, who is me... and instead of meeting me, he's dead. Typical. He's even just as selfish as me.

But my best friend left me with a message: stop looking at crap left out on the street and DO SOMETHING. They say that no matter what you do in this life, we all end up in a box. Not true. Only the good ones end up in a box. They leave their legacy behind them for everyone to enjoy long after they've gone. The rest of us end up in two boxes and one of them is full of crap and gets dumped in the street. I really can't be two boxes. And I thank my best friend for teaching me that.  

Friday, 10 April 2015

Do Not Read This.

Something changed the day I saw my beloved dog eating the contents of a discarded nappy. I saw her happily eating something on the ground and assumed she had found some bread or something. As I got closer, I saw it was a full nappy and... I dunno. Jerk became slightly less magical that day. You'd think looking at the most disgusting and sad thing you'd ever seen would be bad but you'd be wrong. It was amazing. Amazing because that was it. I've seen the most disgusting and sad thing that I will ever see. I've got it over with. All the bad and sad things I see from now on won't quite seem so tragic when I remind myself of that sunny summer morning when my dog ate a whole nappy full of human faeces. And the great thing about seeing the most disgusting and sad thing that I will ever see is that if I'm looking at it, then it isn't me. Yes, yes, yes. I could look in a mirror and think that I was the most disgusting and sad thing that I will ever see but I wasn't looking in a mirror. I was looking at my dog. Eating shit.

I always think of that day when the weather starts to get nicer again. The sun comes out, I go out without a coat, put on my sunglasses and just think about that awful, awful day. I also think about my psoriasis. The sun helps my psoriasis clear up. Also, because I like wearing t-shirts in the sunshine, I want my psoriasis to clear up quickly to stop people thinking I've clearly just risen from the dead. So, at the first sign of good weather I get all my anti-psoriasis ointments and creams out and vow to apply them to my skin every day. This normally last for about a week. My psoriasis is pretty horrible to look at but it's nowhere near as bad as seeing your dog eat poo so I just give up after a while and learn to live with my lumps and flakes. 

The thing is, after about 3 days of putting on lotions, the psoriasis gets incredibly dry and sort of flattens itself. You can then peel it off bit by bit. It's very, very addictive and disgusting. But that's not the fun part. The fun part comes on day 4. Because now my psoriasis isn't flakes anymore. It's dust. Even if I just lightly rub my psoriasis riddled elbow a little bit, it's like slamming two chalk dusters together. Just a massive white cloud of dust. Basically, it's the dust of my corpse.

And I love it. On day 4, I can't leave myself alone. Rubbing at my psoriasis and watching it float away like I was grating the very finest of fine Parmesan. Even if I'm in public, I'll give myself a quick rub and watch the floaty cloud of death appear.

Yesterday was day 4 and it was a beautiful day. I was meeting friends in Greenwich and, as it was so lovely, I decided to walk. Greenwich looked perfect in the sunshine and, while walking through the park there, it felt good to be alive. The sun in the sky, the birds singing merrily, the grass bright green and lush. All this ruined only by me walking around leaving a floating trail of my own dead skin behind me. 

But it is SO ADDICTIVE. You must have picked a scab before? There's a real sense of I HAVE TO DO THIS about it so imagine that feeling multiplied by a thousand. It feels so good. I don't even need to pick at it. Just a quick rub and I leave death floating behind me. And I can do it in public. I can do it in a public park on a sunny day in front of everyone because, as horrible as it is, it is nothing compared to seeing the thing you love the most in the world eating shit and licking her lips. I have seen the most disgusting and sad thing that I will ever see and therefore it doesn't bother me in the slightest that I am leaving tiny flakes of my own dead skin to fly off my body and float away behind me as I walk. 

Unless there was someone behind me. I wouldn't like that. I wouldn't like that at all. No, because if someone was behind me then they'd have a load of my dead skin landing on them. My dead skin on their clothes or hair or face. Why hadn't I thought of that before? I was too busy enjoying the freedom that the sight of a dog eating shit gave me to think about anyone else. I mean... If someone was behind me while I was basically flinging my dead skin over my shoulder... well, that would be revolting. So I looked round. And that's when I saw him.

A little boy. Looking disgusted and sad. Yet still licking his ice cream cone. 

Jerk, you're off the hook.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Gimme Shelter.

The great thing about living in London is that everyone thinks you're a dick and won't speak to you. I don't know how people can bear living in the barbaric "outside London" where people confuse respect and friendliness with talking. "I hate London", they say like you're in anyway interested. "No one talks to you on the tube". Take a look around, mate. These are commuters on a tube train. Angry, angry London commuters forced to be sardined together and read the Metro. Who here do you really want to talk to?

I traveled back home on the tube on Friday. The downside of travelling by tube is that you're unaware of the weather, so as my journey went on and I saw more and more soaking wet passengers get on, I started to regret not bringing an umbrella. Not that I ever bring an umbrella. That's one thing you can be sure of about me. I will never have an umbrella. Also, I will always regret not having an umbrella. 

A man sitting in front of me looked at me and raised his eyebrows twice quickly. That's fine. He's clearly not from London and doesn't understand that eyebrow cheekiness is just as illegal here as talking. It's still a form of communication. A few seconds later, I looked over and he did it again. Great. As always, the tube nutter is attracted to me. Why must I always be the most beautiful thing on the underground? A few more seconds pass and he raises his eyebrows twice quickly at me again, this time adding a nod. Well, I now have no choice. I'm going to have to punch him. He has broken all laws of the tube. He has taken an interest in something and that is not allowed. A good punch to the throat will let him know that he is in London now. His nod started to get a bit more... noddy. His eyebrows were frantically bouncing and his nod was insistent. He was actually using his nod to point. At my shoes. 

You know when two old Volkswagen Beetle drivers pass each other they toot their horn or flash their lights at one another as a sign of respect because they're in the same club? Well, he was doing that with shoes. We were both wearing the same Converse shoes. 

That's not the same thing at all, is it? Old Beetles are probably quite hard to come by these days, I imagine. Mass produced popular shoes, less so. It's not like we were going to get into a deep conversation about whether or not we still have the original laces or did we have to go on eBay and try to find the exact insoles from a spare parts shoe expert. I smiled at him though. If he leaves London thinking it was amazing because he saw a man wearing the same shoes as him, then let him have his fun. I hope that will be of some comfort to him on his deathbed. As he got up to leave, he curled out an almighty turd onto the London Tube Rule Book and spoke to me. "Goodbye", he said.

Yeah, idiot. Goodbye. Fucking stupid idiot.

As he got off the train I saw him taking an umbrella out of his bag.

Why didn't I bring an umbrella? I'm an idiot.

I never bring an umbrella. I don't know why I never bring an umbrella but I never, ever bring an umbrella. Maybe it's because I'm just not that uptight about a bit of rain. Maybe I just don't care about anything. Mavericks never care. Maybe it's because I don't actually have an umbrella. There are more and more soaking wet passengers on the tube now. I really wish I had an umbrella.

A man and woman get on and sit near me. The man sits right beside me, the woman sits facing him. They are a couple. I can tell because they are arguing, but at least they're arguing quietly. They both have umbrellas. That's also not a good sign. If they were happy, they'd have one umbrella. Yes, they'd both get a bit wet and look all sexy but at least they'd have each other and who cares about anything if you have that? Is it still raining, I hadn't noticed... etc. 

"I don't want to talk about it", he said in his London accent. See? Londoners get it. You're on the tube: no talking! "I'm not being unreasonable", she replied in her northern accent.

Ah, well. They NEVER understand the tube, do they? This is the London Underground where every carriage is the Quiet Carriage but still their argument whispered on. To be fair, I couldn't really hear what they were arguing about but their faces said everything. She looked tired, he looked furious. I heard lots of "I don't care" and "You don't listen" from him but I couldn't hear her at all and that's fine by me. Like I said, they were breaking the rules but at least they were doing it quietly. Until... he said "shut up". Not loudly. Just louder than before. Clearer. Nastier. "Shut up". 

She responded but every time she spoke he got louder. "Just shut up", he kept saying. People around us felt uncomfortable, she looked mortified. "Stupid bitch", he said loud and clear and everyone around looked at him. I was one of them. "Got a problem?", said the 40 year old teenager. And that's when I broke my own rule: I spoke to someone on the tube.

I thought about northerners. Talking in a friendly, cheery tone. Warm. I replied quietly and with a little laugh, thinking that would help (also, I was a bit scared). "I'm sitting next to a man who just said 'Stupid bitch' on the tube".

He ignored me and the couple went back to arguing. Her quietly, him getting louder all the time. Everyone around us feeling very uncomfortable. He must have said "Stupid bitch" another 6 times before getting his phone and earphones out. That was it. The man had spoken: You're a stupid bitch, the argument is over and now I'm going to listen to Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds. I don't quite know what happened next but clearly, after speaking to that horrible man on the tube, I'd got a taste for it. I started talking to the woman. "Bloody Londoners", I said to her. "Always so unfriendly".

Turns out she was from Halifax, which is nice because I've got friends there and I've been a few times so we chatted about that and her work and why she moved to London. It was a nice chat. It was a very nice chat because she was friendly and I could feel him getting angrier. It was a very brief chat though as the tube arrived at her stop and she got up to leave. He stayed seated. "You coming?", she said to him. "I'm going home", he replied". She said goodbye to me and left. 

The horrible man and I sat there for two more stops. Sitting silently and uncomfortably, like all good Londoners. Then, once again, he broke the rules. "You don't know what she's like", he said. Again, I was northern friendly and northern cheery in my tone (because I was still a bit scared). "I know I don't know her", I said. "But I know a bit about you. You're a bloke that calls his girlfriend a stupid bitch in public". He leaned into my face and invited me to go fuck myself. And then he got up and left.

I understand the barbarians of "outside London" a bit more now. We don't like talking to each other in public places in London but maybe the "outside London" weirdos don't like it either. Maybe they've just figured out that if we're all a bit friendlier then it's much harder for people to be horrible. Being horrible in London is easy. It's normal. But being horrible in front of people who are friendly, warm and welcoming? That's tough. And look where our commuter isolation gets us: being told to go fuck yourself by a man who considers his girlfriend a stupid bitch.

Oh, look. He's forgotten his umbrella.

Monday, 16 March 2015

I Think It's All Over - The Red Nose Diaries.

I'm football crazy, I'm football mad. And the football it has robbed me of the wee bit of sense I had.

It's not the actual watching of a football match every day for six weeks that has driven me insane, although it should have. I started on the 31st January with Chelsea vsManchester City and I have been bored out of my tiny mind every single daysince with Tottenham vs Arsenal, Newcastle vs Stoke... Everton vs Leicester,for fuck's sake! I even watched the 1982 World Cup final in the hope that Icould enjoy footsie nostalgically. But no. I have tried. Really hard. I havefailed. Even harder. The only time that I can say that I honestly enjoyedfootball was when I went to a match with Phat Paul and Dylan and they actuallytalked to me about football. They explained it to me. I started to pick a fewthings up, understand it a bit more. What has driven me mad more than anything is that football fans just don't want to talk about football. Paul and Dylan to one side, nearly every footsie fan I've spoken to just doesn't want to talk about the very thing that they seem to live for. 

I've got footsie loving friends who find my new interest creepy. I've spoken to complete strangers in pubs, barmen and cab drivers, who were all wearing football memorabilia, and none would engage in the simplest of footsie banter. I even talked to some men watching footsie in a hotel bar but they blanked me. In fact, they even asked me to keep the noise down when I started shouting support at the TV. I thought you were supposed to do that. It was like I was too late to talk sport. I had my chance when I was a boy to like football and I turned my back on it. I can't just decide at the age of 46 to want to be a part of it. Thank you for your interest but football just isn't taking on any new fans at the moment.

All my life, I thought that I didn't want football. How wrong I was. It was always football that didn't want me.

Six weeks. Six whole weeks and football just hasn't taken me under it's wing. Has this been worth it? Yes, I've raised nearly £1,700 for charity but two years ago I raised over £2,500 by getting drunk and falling asleep. More people accepted me doing that than spending a huge amount of time devoted to football. Plus I wrote to so many teams to see if they could help. Chelsea, Man Utd, Arsenal, Spurs, QPR... Did I get a reply? Not one. Then, just a few days ago, Brentford FC got in contact.

Brentford Football Club, currently riding high in the Championship League, invited me to their club. This was amazing. I would be going to a proper professional football ground on my LAST DAY of my Comic Relief challenge. A pretty good way to round it all off. But... Then it got better. I would be given a tour of the ground itself, I would be part of a training session on the pitch, I would meet the team players AND I would be offered ice cream and jelly at half time because on the 14th March 2015... I became a child mascot.

You must have seen it before. Right at the start of the match, the team players walk out. Each of these manly athletes hand in hand with a small boy who is beaming with pride because he was chosen by that player to be the team's child mascot. And now it was my turn. I guess it's just every middle aged man's dream, really. You grow up watching child mascots on TV and you think to yourself "One day...". But you never really imagine it happening. Putting on that kit, feeling the legendary turf under your boots and grabbing the hand of a man who definitely doesn't want to hold your hand. 

And that's where I found myself that day. Wearing a slightly too big for me Brentford FC costume and having people who actually work in football talk to me and welcome me into their world. As a child. Of course, when it came to actually kicking a ball around, none of the other child mascots would play with me. Children can be horrible and mean to 46 year old men in shorts, which is, of course, a good thing. So, Amber, a player from Brentford Women's team kicked the ball around with me. She was really nice. I kept expecting her to laugh at me being a child mascot but she never did. In fact, no one did. Not Amber, not the other child mascots and not the thousands of footsie fans there. And while kicking that ball around with Amber, it finally dawned on me: they all assume I'm dying.

As I stood outside the dressing room waiting for the players to come out in full costume, I got excited. The match was about to start and I would walk out onto the pitch as the child mascot of Stuart Dallas, Brentford's winger/mid-fielding ace, and I'd be in front of thousands. As we walked together towards Cardiff City's players, Stuart said I had to shake the opposing team players' hands. "They'll probably think you're in the team", he joked.

"God", I said. "That's what you say to all the kids, isn't it?"


I shook Cardiff City's hand, posed for photos on the pitch and heard the roar of the crowd. Amazing. A brilliant, brilliant way to end it all. I took my seat for the match and felt proud that a nice amount of money had been raised but prouder still that I was now a Junior Bee. It only took 46 years but I was now a child mascot. 

Brentford lost 2-1. I didn't say I was a very good child mascot.

Six weeks of watching football matches and, on the last day, I was part of it. I was. WAS. But I think it's all over. It is now. Saturday night was a come down. Travelling from a gig late at night. Alone. I think I just imagined the end of six weeks to be more celebratory. I feel like I really reached out to footsie and, as good as the day with Brentford had been, I still felt that it could have reached out me more. All those teams I wrote to... They didn't want me. The real football fans I spoke to didn't want me either. Even my fellow child mascots wouldn't kick a ball around with me. I gave football six weeks and, in the end, nothing really changed. Then, about 11:30 at night, my phone beeped. I had an update on Twitter. It was this...

I am accepted. Sniff...

If you haven't donated to my Comic Relief campaign then please give what you can here: And please, can we have a massive round of applause for Neal Peters, Christian Talbot and everyone at Brentford FC who were so kind in giving up their time and allowing this daft thing to happen. Especially Neal. Now, please enjoy these photos. 

Thursday, 12 February 2015

I'm Out - The Red Nose Diaries.

When former comedian Mark Watson suggested I get into football for Comic Relief, I knew there and then that at some point I would have to actually go to a football match. I'd have to get on a train full of large drunk men wearing the same t-shirts all shouting and, for some insane reason, actually singing together in public and then some other large drunk men, who are also in matching casualwear, start singing a different song that isn't to the first large drunk men's taste and so they have to rest their voices and have a fight. Then the train doors open and we get spewed out of the train and swarmed into a hugely sponsored stadium (or cunt holder, as they are known) and I find myself in the middle of an ocean of screaming bastards who spend 90 minutes threatening, punching and setting fire to anyone and anything that isn't exactly the same as them. I'd have to go to watch Chelsea and stand in Chelsea's cunt holder with all their held cunts knowing that if they don't kill me then I will just die of fear. When I took the challenge, I knew that this is what I must do. I am many things but a coward is not one of them. That's why I went to my first ever football match last night. Yeah, that's right. I went to an anti-homophobia friendly match with a child.


Dylan and I didn't have the best start when we first met. My very good friend Phat Paul met Dylan in a maternity theatre about 8 years ago and, as soon as they met, Phat Paul seemed to just want to hang out with Dylan more than me. Phattie and I met in the queue for The Comedy Store Players in 1989 and the next day we were living together. That's pretty special, you must admit? But pretty much the same thing happened when he met Dylan so clearly Phat Paul is a very fickle and heartless man. I remember going round to their flat once and Dylan was just lying there on the sofa all asleep and Phat Paul just stared at him. After a while, he picked Dylan up and carried him to bed. I was so hurt. He hadn't picked me up and put me to bed in years. As time went by, nearly all my paintings were taken off Phat Paul's fridge and replaced by Dylan's that, fuck it I can say this now, weren't all that. They just weren't. They went on holiday together, he introduced Dylan to his Mum and pretty soon Phat Paul was sorting out this guy's education. Something he never did for me. So it's his fault I'm an idiot. Anyway, I was about to meet Dylan and, as there was quite a bit of bad blood between us, he had better be ready to win me over.

He turned up (LATE, may I add) with four packs of Match Attax trading cards and gave two to me. OK, I admit it. That was a classy move on his part. While Phat Paul went to get drinks, Dylan and I looked through our new cards to see if we had any doubles to swap (He had brought his large pile of swapsies with him) and indeed our friendship was cemented over him swapping me his Ryan Giggs (I've heard of him!) for my Man Utd emblem (which he immediately booed once he got it). The best part of this new union was that Dylan had now agreed to explain the rules of footsie to me.

It was Dulwich Hamlet versus Stonewall FC at the Superstore Stadium, and that is really what it's called, in an anti-homophobia friendy match. Dylan is a Dulwich supporter so, as we were all getting on, I had to also support Dulwich. This is my first match and it instantly made me anti-gay. The system works. We stood behind Stonewall's net with the rest of the Dulwich fans, The Rabble. I expected a fair bit of chanting, it's footsie after all, but I didn't expect this. It all seemed like an indie disco. Men and women singing chants to the tunes of not particularly popular John Peel tracks from the 80's. My favourite was the one sung to the tune of Gangsters by The Specials: " Why do you support Dulwich Hamlet? 'Cos we’re proud to follow you away. Said you’ve been threatened by Tooting. But we blew, blew them away. Da-da-da-da. Dada-dada-da-da-da". To be honest, I always assumed that footsie chants were supposed to be aggressive and, at the very least, belittling. The Rabble's chants were just surreal: "We are the famous Dulwich Hamlet and we look like Tuscany. TUSCANY! TUSCANY!!".

I think that was the best part. It was just idiots happily being idiots while a match went on. And the match was pretty good (I think. I'm still not sure). Dylan explained what a defender, a striker and a centre forward was and I think I understood. He even explained the offside rule to me and I'm pretty sure I got that too. The game ended in a result that football itself would be proud of with the (completely presumably) straight team beating the gay team 4-0. 

We went back to the club bar and played Match Attax. And it made me think, why isn't football like this? Smaller, friendly and surely better. Everyone in the bar talked about the match and just hung out and everything was relaxed and nice. I don't know if you've seen the news today but there isn't a single report of the violence at that match anywhere. And the bar does a series of guest ales. Look, that's not my thing but I just didn't expect a football club bar to have guest ales and friendly staff and no fighting. AND THEY ALLOW DOGS IN! It's lovely. There's no way Chelsea's stadium is this nice. And an anti-homophobia friendly match too! Would that happen at Chelsea? Or any of the major clubs? Has it happened? If not, why not? If the answer is the one I fear, then surely that's a better reason to do it. Imagine that? A stadium with people more interested in actual football than hate. It's a thought. Maybe the big clubs just aren't as brave as Dulwich and Stonewall. Maybe it's just big football that's utter crap because little football is great.

Of course, that doesn't help Dylan and me. Yes, he was very friendly when he first arrived (LATE, may I add) and he was very kind in being the first person to actually explain some things about football to me but Phat Paul used to be MY friend not someone else's. Never anyone else's. And it's hard to just forgive someone for stealing something that belongs to you. But I am more mature than Dylan so I accepted his offer of playing Match Attax. 

It's basically Top Trumps. All cards have high scoring categories and low scoring categories and as a result the game lasts for hours and no one ever wins. But I wasn't going to just give up. I had to show Dylan that by accepting his Match Attax challenge I was every bit the man he was. Phat Paul refused to play and he looked bored but really it was Dylan I was trying to impress. Surely if I beat Dylan then he will see that I'm best and therefore Phat Paul will too. Of course, Dylan is about 38 years younger than me and it did cross my mind to lose on purpose so that he would win and he could feel good about himself but how patronising is that? Phat Paul would see through my ploy in a second and I would lose what respect he had for me. No. I had to beat him. I had to beat Dylan.


The game was going on so long that we decided to just use just 5 cards each and see if that sped things up. It didn't. He would win one of my cards, then I would win one of his. Time and time again. Until suddenly, I hit a streak. I couldn't believe it. In 5 straight goes I won each of his cards and was declared the winner. It was my first go at playing Match Attax and even Dylan had to admit that I was the greatest footballer of all time, mainly because I wouldn't shut up until he did. 

We said goodbye and I walked off to get my bus. I had a huge grin on my face because, mainly, I had beaten Dylan at Match Attax but also because my first experience of football was genuinely great. The match was great, everyone was friendly and Dylan taught me some football rules. Then I thought about our game of Match Attax. How come his last 5 cards all had low scores? Surely there had to be higher scoring categories to choose from? Why did he choose the low ones? Hmmm...

I have to be nicer to that guy.

Dylan explaining the offside rule to me using Match Attax cards.


Also, please donate anything you can to Comic Relief here: