Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Hello! Hooray!

My mum often asks me when I think I’ll be discovered. The thing is, I was discovered years ago.

10 years ago this very day, the internet was full of warmth, compliments and photographs of loved pets and unloved animals mocked up as happy dinners. Every time we looked on Facebook, we read our friends’ successes and I related to none of it. The internet just didn’t speak to me, so I decided to speak to it. In fact, I shouted at it. 10 years ago this very day, I invented online anger.

And now look at the state of the place.

Back then, no one had ever thought of calling a friend’s wedding cake a cunt but it’s all different now. Everyone is angry. Not just occasionally but all the time. Non-stop. I came up with the simple idea of not telling lies about how great my life and your life was and now everyone does it. But with none of the charm. I was the Pixies and then you lot became a huge, popular, white supremacist, women-hating, constantly threatening Nirvana who, if he were still alive, would probably coax the snowflake Kurt Cobain into killing himself live on Instagram or Snapchat or iPlayer. There are days when I almost regret calling David Walliams a corpse-fucker on Twitter. I was supposed to be the angry man on the Internet but who would even notice that now? I’ve become undiscovered.

I hide online now. Mainly on Twitter. Mainly on my @vitriolamusic Twitter account. It’s a place I share with Robin Ince (he hasn’t ever logged in once yet) and I go there to avoid the copycat angry people who took my beautiful idea too far. I talk to lots of people on there every day. While you are threatening to rape a slut or telling a woman who doesn’t like Black Mirror that they’re fat, I go on to my @vitriolamusic Twitter account and talk to kind, civil people about music.

For those who are unaware of music, it’s a popular art form based on sound and rhythm and without it our lives would be completely empty and without any meaning and it is very easy to steal. Some people actually pay for it but not many and the few that do are threatened with violence or called fat on the Internet. I much prefer risking the threats and paying for the music because I’ve loved it so much since I was a child and buying new music helps keep me almost up to date with whatever might be happening in the music (please forgive me for using this next word, I am very aware it’s awful) scene. And there lies the problem. The music scene has undiscovered me.

It happens every few years. The whole music scene changes and it becomes filled with bands that forget to sing about the things I like or play guitars the way I like them. Like the Internet, the scene isn’t for me just now but I’m in so deep with music that I can’t just turn my back on it. That’s why I buy the new one from the National or some other band that are clearly aimed at me and I get disappointed. It’s just not for me. The National are boring and their singer is a prick and the guitars are crap and they wear waistcoats like absolute cunts. And then, out of nowhere, my secret online friends and I will decide to pick an artist from the past and listen to their back catalogue and discuss it. That’s how, in 2018, I discovered the talents of Alice Cooper.

I am a fucking idiot. For years I bought Shed Seven albums and The Soft Parade singles and that fucking bullshit last album by Sleater-Kinney and all of The National’s fucking records and ALICE COOPER HAD BEEN THERE ALL ALONG. Every one of his albums (that I’ve heard so far) are incredible and  they have just been sitting there. For decades. Just sitting there statically and full of life. They have an actual heartbeat. Great tunes with fun in them. Pantomime, schlock-horror, loads of actual horns, drug-induced electro experimentations and rock that has decided that it has to live because YOU have to live. It is music that has invited you in and it only wants you to be happy. It’s music that actually cares about you.

Songs that are so good you won’t be able to stop whistling, humming and screaming them. Probably all at the same time. Alice Cooper has just sat there waiting and my reward for finding him is a new joyous belief in the power of music.

Think I’m going too far? Then please just listen to Elected, an uplifting Ringmaster of a song that revels in being the first thing to ever slag off Donald Trump, beating the Internet by over 40 years. After that, try a whole album in order. Some of you may never have done that before but, trust me, in this case it’s worth it. Try Billion Dollar Babies and Welcome To My Nightmare because those are albums that everyone (except me) knows and they are sunshine in a very dark, spooky and incredibly funny can. Then go to Flush The Fashion, very different to his classics and it’s my favourite Alice Cooper album. I always love the ones the artist can’t remember making.

I’m new to all this so I’m excited and want to share it with you like it’s a picture of my loved pet or my happy vegan dinner. If you’re not keen on Alice Cooper then all I can say is: you love him, you just don’t know it yet.

Alice Cooper’s incredible music and very witty lyrics (yep, he’s really funny) are pretty much the reasons why I love the Internet right now. Coming together and sharing that stuff hasn’t just made me happy, it’s given me a genuine thrill to find out everything I can about a new artist. Admittedly, one that’s been around since 1969. And huge thanks to Dan Mersh and EVERYONE who joins in with the listen-alongs at @vitriolamusic. You can go and find out about Alice Cooper’s stuff too because it’s just there. Gathering dust but waiting to be discovered. Just like all of us.


Sunday, 10 December 2017

Spoilt Rotten.

Two phrases keep running through my mind: "Have a treat, mate" and "You're not allowed that".

I've had a lot of thinking time lately due to having a bit of a dicky tummy. I do all my best thinking on the toilet and I've been thinking about those two sentences on and off for about a week. "You're not allowed that" is something I hear a lot. It's a reaction to being vegan. People will tell me that something milky or lamby or murdery is delicious and then follow it up with "You're not allowed that but it is nice". 

"You're not allowed that". I don't want to be allowed that. I think it's weird that anyone is allowed that. That shouldn't be allowed. But it is allowed and I don't want it. "You're allowed that" just isn't the right phrase. It sounds like I've been banned rather than made a choice. And it happens so often. "My mum cooks the best Christmas turkey with penguin and sea horse stuffing. It's SO delicious. *awkward look* But you're not allowed that". 

People who kill people probably act the same way in front of their non-murderer friends. "I picked up some hitchhikers and attacked them with a hatchet and now I keep them in 6 suitcases in a Big Yellow Self Storage locker in Crewe. *awkward look* But you're not allowed that".

Thing is, I am allowed that. I just have to be prepared to go to jail forever, stomach killing people before cutting up their bodies and then talking to the fucking gormless arseholes who work at Big Yellow Self Storage in Crewe. Again, I have no interest in being allowed that.

A stupid thought, and one I wouldn't have had if I didn't have this upset stomach that kept me on the toilet so much. But "Have a treat, mate" is the one I've been thinking about most. 

Comedian Andrew Bird asked me how giving up booze was going. He saw me drinking an alcohol-free beer and his face fell sad. I told him that it really didn't taste that bad. I don't like lying to people but I thought it was the right thing to do at that moment. It tastes disgusting, of course. It was so nice of the club to get an alcohol-free rider in for me and I was genuinely touched by the thought but I can't kid myself. It tastes truly awful. Like your favourite drink has committed suicide and you're drinking the tears of its grieving children. It's the taste of a lost generation.

Andrew and I both agreed that booze was great and that's when he asked "What do you have for a treat, then?"

I was stumped. I don't think I have a treat anymore. 

"What do you have when you come home after a gig now?", he asked.

I don't know. Nothing. I have nothing.

I used to have a beer maybe. That's gone. Sometimes a bottle of wine. I'd come home and cuddle Jerk. I don't think I have a treat anymore. 

Andrew said goodbye and, just as he walked out of the dressing room, he said "Have a treat, mate". He was right. I should. I deserve a treat. But what have I got?

And as I took another swig of Carling Remembrance 0.0%, I realised: ugh, alcohol-free beer IS my treat. This bottle of stale empty is all I have to look forward to. That is my treat. Something I hate. Something that tastes disgusting. Something that looks weird. Something that makes everyone question every single thing about me. That is my treat. 

Despite my guts still being a bit... gymnastic, I decided to meet up with friends the other night for our annual Christmas drinks. I thought about what Andrew said. "What do you have when you come home? Have a treat, mate". So I prepared for coming home by going to Sainsbury's and buying a 4 pack of alcohol-free lager. That'll be nice when I get home. I mean, it won't be NICE but it'll be something. This isn't a sad or shameful thing. No. It's a treat. A lovely treat. I am treating myself to some alcohol-free lager when I get home. I beeped the joyless bottles over the self-checkout till and the only voice that had said anything to me that day said "Approval needed"

That's right. You need approval to buy alcohol-free beer. Honestly, how can anyone approve of you when you buy that?

For one of the very few times in my life, I had to show ID. It's clear just by looking at me that I'm over 18. That sentence also works if you take out the number 18. I am very not under 18. But they didn't want to see my date of birth, they just wanted to know the name of the cunt who's only treat is coming home to an alcohol-free beer. Well fuck you, Sainsbury's. I'm having a treat, mate. I'm allowed this.

The bar we went to had TWO different alcohol-free beers. What a choice! All my friends had booze. It was "Delicious. But *awkward look* you're not allowed that". Like the beer had shouted "Oi! You're barred" at me. I decided to not have booze, booze didn't decide to not have me. Have a treat, mate. Have an alcohol-free beer.

I had 10 of them. That's more alcohol-free beer than anyone has ever drunk ever in one night. Why? I'll tell you why: Have a treat, mate. I had a treat. The only treat that I'm "allowed". For the last few weeks I've had about 4 alcohol-free beers a day. I don't care how disgusting they are. 4 alcohol-free beers a day and tonight I'm going to break all records for drinking alcohol-free beer because they're a treat. They're a treat, mate. Have a treat, mate. This is the treat you're allowed, mate. Have a treat, mate. Good for you, mate. Well done, mate. Have a treat, mate. How is it, mate? Have a treat, mate. Is it nice, mate? Can I have a taste, mate? Fucking hell, mate.

That is ALL I HAVE. Being out with my friends and getting drunk was all a beautiful dream I had in the past and the past is over and now all I have is alcohol-free beer. And they can't take that away from me despite Sainsbury's best efforts. And tonight I'm going to break my own record by going all the way up to 11 because when I get home I'm going to have ANOTHER alcohol-free beer. I'm having a treat, mate.

My stomach was punchy the whole way back and I just made it home in time to get to the toilet before all brown hell broke loose. It was wretched and traumatic. But still, this will soon be over and I'll put the telly on, put my feet up and I'll have a treat, mate. My only treat. The only thing I've actually got left.

It became clear that I'd be on the toilet for a bit longer than expected and I decided I'd had enough of my stomach and its constant problems. I decided to Google tummy troubles. I sat there on the loo and I Googled so much about diarrhoea. 20 minutes Googling info on diarrhoea. I now know so much about diarrhoea. Too much.

Alcohol-free beer gives you diarrhoea.

Have a treat, mate? I'm not allowed that.


Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Ill Communication.

What makes us happy?

People pretend it’s things like love or friendship or God. Those three things that no one has any proof exists. But really, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone happier as when their phone is 100% charged. Leaving the house when you know your phone is fully charged brings such peaceful contentment and joy. It’s the feeling of Christmas, or it would be if we didn’t know that the feeling of Christmas is claustrophobia and anthrax.

Days are ruined immediately by our phones. We wake up and the first thing we all do is look at our phones to see if we matter. We don’t. We never do. And yet it was the first thing we did today, and it’ll be the first thing we do tomorrow. Remember when masturbating came first? Those were great days, weren’t they? I love the past. Bros, Space Dust, Ceefax and wanking. How did wanking get knocked off its golden pedestal as being the first thing we did every day? We don’t really think that Twitter is better than wanking, do we? Because it definitely isn’t. We wake up, we look at Twitter, we get depressed. And then wanking is all but forgotten about. Imagine all that, but with the added loss of your phone (THAT WAS PLUGGED IN ALL NIGHT) somehow being only at 98%.

That’s the day completely ruined. You grump your way to the shower, you punch your clothes on and you shout the kids to school, worrying all the way to work if your 98% charged phone will make it to the end of your commute before you can get to the office and plug it in again and start to feel normal.

I went to work on Saturday night with a 100% charged phone. I felt happy and confident. My phone is fully charged. I’ve managed to hit the target of the most important thing in all of existence: a fully charged phone. I’m doing a show in Cardiff and the club have put me up in a flat just a one minute walking commute from the venue. This is the phone charging dream. It’s 100% and I’m one minute away so by the time I get there, as its an iPhone, I’ll still have around 45% left if I don’t actually use it, look at it or say its name out loud. I am living the dream.

I get to the venue and my phone stops working. The screen goes completely blank and then switches off. That’s OK. I know what happens when the phone goes a bit loopy. It needs a soft reset. That means holding the home button and the off button at the same time. No problem.


Ah. Yes. That means I’ve got to do a soft reset while the phone is charging. Easy. I’ve got my charger with me. Of course, I do. What fucking psychopath leaves their flat to go somewhere one minute away without bringing a charger? That’s insane. I plug it in and press the home button and the off button at the same time. Nothing, so I do it again. Maybe I’m not pressing hard enough? Nothing. Maybe I’m not pressing for long enough? Nothing. Actually, I think that time I pressed the home button slightly earlier than I did the off button, so I’ll do it again. Nothing.

The fear hits me.

My phone is broken. It’s actually died. My phone has completely died and I’m here without a phone. I AM EXISTING WITHOUT A PHONE. That’s impossible. It’s not allowed. What if someone likes one of my Facebook posts? I’ll never know! And I’ll never find my way back to the flat that I can easily see from the venue’s window and I won’t be able to put a photo of me and the other acts pretending to like each other on Instagram and I won’t know what to think because I haven’t seen what Graham Linehan has thought first and I don’t have a phone and I’m panicking and my phone has died and I. DO. NOT. HAVE. A. PHONE.

And then I realised… I’m off the grid. I’ve stepped off the ride. I’m out. I’ve actually found a way out. I am not a phone number, I am a free man.

I slept so peacefully that night. Of course, I did. I was a human being again. I wasn’t attached to this robot dickhead that keeps abusing me anymore. I woke up very briefly a couple of times, but I was soon off to sleep again because I didn’t immediately fumble for my phone to see what was trending.

The next day, I watched a film on Netflix. Well, I watched it for 15 minutes. For 15 whole minutes I gave that film my full attention. I didn’t just press play and let it run on to the end while I played games and posted hateful comments online because, well, I don’t have a phone. I watched the first 15 tedious minutes of Hacksaw Ridge without interruption from Twitter, Facebook or looking up IMDb to see which of the cast has died since the film came out (a game I play with pretty much every film I watch), which is a shame actually because at least then I’d have seen that the film was directed by an actual lunatic and switched it off earlier. Then I realised the film was shit and I switched it off. But I would never have known that if I’d pressed play and had a working phone anywhere near me.

I read a book. I went for a walk. I wanted to find out what some of my friends were up to, so I met up with them. It was lovely.

If only this had happened earlier. I wouldn’t know who to hate and I wouldn’t know what horrible person had done what horrible thing and I wouldn’t know that a massive bomb had killed every single person in Oxford Street and lots of other things that didn’t happen.

And now my phone is back and working. I’ve switched it on but not really looked at it. I’m not ready to go back. For 2 whole days, Trump wasn’t president, Brexit didn’t exist, and liberals weren’t arguing over the things they all agree with. It was blissful.

So, why don’t you just switch your off mobile phone and go out and do something less boring instead…?

(Ask the hivemind on Facebook or Twitter if you don’t get the reference)


Thursday, 23 November 2017

George Worst.

Today is Day 44.

My 44th day in a row of not drinking alcohol. My 83rd in total. 90th, if you count that week my mum couldn’t find the off licence when she was pregnant.

It’s been a traumatic decision. I set the date to quit booze months ago and I feared its arrival constantly. Four weeks before the big day, I was drinking like a man who was quitting booze in four weeks. But then, I always did. I loved getting drunk. It was magical and charming and I was really good at it. A natural, they said (at a “meeting”). I could get drunk anytime I wanted. Sometimes twice a day. That’s how good I am. And that’s what scared me about quitting. But I had no idea of the darkness ahead of me. I knew it was going to be bad, but I didn’t see any of this coming: Quitting booze was so easy. Like really easy. The easiest thing I’ve ever done. Which means… I’m not an alcoholic.

I'm Michael and I'm not an alcoholic. 

So, what am I? I can’t sing, I’m not knowledgeable, I’m not good at sport and I can’t build anything. I was fucking relying on being a drunk. And I’m not even that. What am I? Tall? No. Short? No. Irish? Well, I’m not typical of being Irish in any way. In fact, apparently I’m not even one of the main stereotypes of being Irish now. I thought being drunk was who I was. That was my thing. It defined me. But I’m not an alcoholic. And knowing that has made me feel antisocial, bleak and lacking in self-belief. But with nice breath.

Of course, coming off booze will always bring some sort of problems and lack of identity isn’t the only one for me, whoever I am. There is always pressure from your peer group and being sober is one of the most pressured. Friends can be so unnaturally supportive, it's sickening. I would NEVER treat them like that. When I’m with friends, they’re all really cool and understanding and fucking supportive which stresses me out TOO MUCH. Great! Now I’ve got to prove that I’m totally OK with being sober even though I am, and they have in no way hinted that I might not be. Bastards. 

So, in company, I sit with a drink in my hand just like them. Just to let them know I’m relaxed. I’m fine. Look: I have a drink in my hand too. It’s all good. Them with their beer and me with my glass of Diet Coke. But still I feel their concern. “That’s the third Diet Coke Michael’s had”, they seem to say without showing it or saying it. “Is he really OK with all this?”

And I am. I don't have to drink Diet Coke! I can drink anything I want. Nearly anything I want. That’s why I’ve recently started showing my friends how cool I am about sobriety by relaxing with them with a refreshing, revolting bottle of alcohol free beer. See? I’m relaxed and I’m drinking a drink that’s a bit like theirs so it’s all good. It’s fine. It’s great. Cheers!

And my friends cheers me back but with suspicion. 

Disgust can’t be hidden when you take a mouthful of alcohol free beer. It’s impossible. It tastes like the ghost of fun. It’s like there’s a suicide pact in my mouth and only me and Mugabe’s favourite improv troupe are invited. It’s horrible and I don’t want to drink another drop but… but just look at my friends’ faces. I’ve told them I’m fine being sober, but they can tell I can’t hack this stuff. I can’t look like I want a proper drink in front of them. “Have another drink of your alcohol free beer”, my friends’ don’t in any way insinuate but I hear loudly. “No one likes the taste at first. You’ll get used to it”.

And I have.

Look, it wasn’t that bad at first. I thought I could handle it. Becks Blue has 0.5% alcohol in it so I’m sure I tasted something that wasn’t just the dust of ancient sick. Lots of alcohol free beer has 0.5% alcohol in it. Some have “Less than 0.5% alcohol” in it but that’s still a bit of booze, isn’t it?

But it wasn’t enough. Or it was too much, it’s hard to tell. My friends wanted me to be fine being sober, I assumed, so I had to go on the real stuff: The completely alcohol-free alcohol-free beer. It’s OK, my friend said. His cousin had a bottle of Cobra Zero at a Foo Fighters gig once. The whole band were doing them. That explained so much but I had a bottle anyway. Oh, god. What had I become? I drank an ENTIRE BOTTLE of Heineken 0.0 that weekend.

I’ve started drinking it at home. I’m up to two bottles a night every four or five nights now. And the shame of it. Oh, God in heaven, help me: the shame. I wake up so clear headed the next day and I walk into the kitchen and I see those two empty bottles lying in the recycling box, those two tiny 330ml alcohol free bastard bottles… and I think back to the night before and, oh God… I can remember every single second of it.



Friday, 17 November 2017

Godot is Prompt.

My day was very busy yesterday, so I set my alarm for 6:30am. Not to make sure I got everything done. No. I knew I’d get everything done in time. What worried me was not getting enough nothing done.

I’m pretty strict when it comes to doing nothing. I’m probably one of the very few people that has deadlines for doing nothing. And it is always a deadline that I cannot ignore. I must have that nothing done or it’s my ass on the nothing line. My day is full, so how am I supposed to cram 3 to 4 hours of nothing in? I’ll tell you how: by pulling your bloody finger out, getting up early and immediately start doing nothing.

I know people who have written books, which probably means they also had to read them (not always the case). Do you know how long it takes to write a book? Have you any idea how much time and effort goes into that? Because I’d like to know. A fact like that would look great in this blog post but, sadly, I couldn’t research it as I had fuck all to do. It’s a great phrase that, isn’t it? “I had fuck all to do”. It’s a much more positive and dynamic phrase than people give it credit for. Let me reword it for you: “Fuck all HAD to be done. It had to. There’s no getting round that. And who do you think stepped up to the challenge? That’s right: I”. But these authors I know don’t just write a bit of a book every day and then just sit there for hours playing Monkey Turnip on their iPhone or staring at the window (not OUT OF the window. That would almost be doing something, so please be careful). No. They raise children and train for marathons and rehearse plays and talk to their local council and fight crime and don’t argue on Twitter and raise awareness and… Jesus, they’re just so busy. When, just WHEN, do they get time to do nothing?

Don’t act like doing nothing isn’t important. It’s vital. I take time out of my inactive day every day to squeeze in hours of nothing. Sometimes hardcore nothing. Not just putting a film on or listening to music, I mean absolutely nothing. Barely moving. Barely thinking. Just sitting on the stairs (walking down the stairs is normally when the fear of real life hits me) and coming to terms with who I am and, most importantly, doing nothing.

I worry about my busy friends with their deadlines and schedules and success and careers. They’re showbizzing themselves into the grave. I, and the entertainment industry, have given myself all the time I need for self-loathing. I’m used to it. I’ve come to terms with it. But what happens to my busy friends who haven’t had the time to realise they’re awful? Will it hit them in later life? Will they start spontaneously screaming at their child’s wedding? Will they burst into tears on The One Show 2039? Will they collect their own sick every day for a month just to throw it at the celebrity audience at the BAFTAs? These are the reasons I’m still friends with them so I do hope so.

One of the busiest people I know is my neighbour Jonny. He is a fucking human rights activist and works for a company that goes around businesses persuading them to be ethical, he is a father to two children and he is constantly organising meetings with Lewisham council to find town planning improvements. I argued with this human rights activist recently when he said he also paints in his “spare time”. How is that spare time? You’re doing something. You’re actively creating, you’re filling that time by making something AND you’re not focussing on how awful you are. That is NOT spare time. Put it this way: Jonny isn’t on Twitter, he has never watched ANYTHING on Netflix and his Monkey Turnip score is H. This man is a ticking timebomb.

I thought about Jonny when I woke up yesterday morning. I’m sure he was getting up at 6:30 too. Probably to jog his children to school or crochet an Amnesty banner. He definitely wasn’t getting up at 6:30 so he could have a few hours doing absolutely nothing at all. He didn’t put Star Trek Discovery on at 7am and not watch it because he was looking at an Instagram story from Olly Murs and then Googled “Olly Murs” to remind himself who Olly Murs was. He didn’t sit there wondering if Donald Trump has ever heard Suede (he must have though, right? He might not know he’s heard Suede but he must have heard them at some point. Anyway, that thought lasted 45 minutes). And he certainly didn’t fart into all 12 microwaves in Monkey Turnip. He got up and he filled his day, making his and other people’s lives better and, therefore, mine worse. Well, don’t say I didn’t warn him.

Jonny and I planned to meet last night. That’s mainly why I was anxious. I’d put all that time aside to do nothing and then later I’d meet up with a lovely man who never had any time due to the constant good work he puts into life. What a bastard. He’s going to make me feel like shit. That’s not fair. I already make myself feel like shit. Oh, he’s got time for that, has he?

There I was, doing absolutely nothing yesterday morning. Important nothing. Nothing that HAD to be done. I had fuck all to do and, by God, I was doing it. And later he’d be telling me how sorry he was for being 5 minutes late because he was busy saving the world.

Yesterday afternoon, Jonny’s wife called to say he’d have to cancel. He’d got hit by a motorbike and broke his arm and cracked some ribs. He’d be in hospital at least until the next day.

All that running around…


Tuesday, 14 November 2017


MOVIE REVIEW: THE PARTY (Dir: Sally Potter, BBC Films, B&W 71 mins)

Sally Potter’s first full length film since 2012’s acclaimed Ginger & Rosa is a monochrome background to an in-colour story of a troubled man sighing his way through a bunch of genuinely awful middle-class people spilling wine while pretending they’ve never heard of Harold Pinter.

The main protagonist’s inner monologue is left to the viewer’s imagination and yet is communicated clearly with his constant head shaking and his backward glances at the cinema patrons to find out where the laughter is coming from and why.

This tale of isolation and confusion carries on until the closing credits but, due to us living in a populist, popcorn-selling, post-Marvel world, the narrative continues with an extra scene featuring the dishevelled and exhausted figure making his way from the cinema to the bus stop, joining other cinema goers in the queue. This is where the story takes a dark and horrific turn.

The bus queue is made of six or seven blank canvas characters put in place to show the value of the anonymous in social situations, a true juxtaposition to the wine-spilling, shrill, Mark Rothko print owning “cunts” observed by the unfortunate, grey-skinned figure throughout the previous 75 minutes. “Mercifully brief”, he texts to a far-away friend before coughing. The distance of the friend is highlighted tragically in the next few minutes as one of the anonymous lifts his compulsory mask and turns to face the queue to reveal himself as the story’s villain. “Were you all just in the cinema just now too?”, he beams at the silent non-faces.

Fear is now the theme of the piece. Has someone actually spoken to us, the masks seem to ask with their mute body language. Unable to understand totally normal practices at a fucking bus stop, the arrogant offender continues: “Good, wasn’t it?”, he says with all the confidence of a man who happily has no idea what the word good means. “It reminded me of Sartre’s Huis Clos”.

The masks remained silent and afraid while this embodiment of evil and ignorance awaits a response that would never come save for the grey-skinned protagonist’s rolling eyes and the truly moving feeling of “Did he actually just use the fucking French title of No Exit? What a fucking cunt. He’s fucking turning round and talking to us and he thinks he’s the only cunt who’s ever heard of fucking Sartre. The cunting cunt cunt”. That feeling is made even more poignant by the masks’ utter refusal to acknowledge the toxic weasel’s wank ejaculating from the villain’s pointless head hole. The agreed upon silence is broken yet again with the villain's agonisingly plummy noise genuinely offering “You know? Hell is other people?”

The protagonist laughs and turns his back on the villain while the masks stay in their plant pots. “Hell is other people”, says the villain again but this time directly to the protagonist. “Hell is other people. Sartre?”

“Mate.”, the protagonist utters his first words of the piece. “No one wants to talk. People just want to go home”

The villain plays his vicious devil card once again: “I’m just trying to be frie…”

“No. You aren’t”, the protagonist is prepared to end the torment for good. “You’re not trying to be friendly. You wouldn’t have started up a conversation with people who clearly didn’t want to talk if you were being friendly. And you wouldn’t have brought up Sartre like that if you were just trying to be friendly. The French title? Jesus. And we just saw the film, so we know what it was like. Pointing out hell is other people after we’ve just seen that film is like us seeing Jaws and you pointing out that it was probably about a shark or something.”

“But…”, says the villain.

“And who the fuck quotes Sartre to a bus queue anyway? I just don’t believe you think that was ‘a bit Sartre’. I think you’ve seen that somewhere, liked it and tried to pass it off as your own just to be popular here. Because who in their right mind would ever come off with something so clearly obvious and try to pass it off as their own?”

The self-referential description of Potter’s black and white (mainly white) segment of the piece is simply the set-up for the protagonist’s killer blow: “And, seriously, who says hell is other people to a bunch of complete strangers waiting for a bus in the cold? Who references Sartre and hell is other people when they clearly don’t understand it?”

Silence is restored but the sound has been replaced with a feeling of utter discomfort from everyone but the deluded protagonist who believes he has made a stand against the smug. He did not buy into the wine-spilling lives of the awful plagiarists and he made it clear that he would not buy into the forced friendliness of the villain. The evil, lying villain who dared talk at a bus stop.

The Party experience then closes with the protagonist alone in bed smiling to himself. He thinks back to the evening past and his victory over unnecessary warmth at a bus stop. Hell is other people indeed, he thinks as he turns out the light.

The darkness is the only truth of the piece. And the protagonist knows this as his inability to sleep proves while the evening replays continuously inside his roomy skull. Hell is other people? Or is it being alone in the dark realising exactly who you are?

One star.


Wednesday, 8 November 2017

As Soft and Gentle As A Sigh.

I enjoyed myself this summer.

I don’t enjoy myself very often these days. Enjoying yourself is a much younger man’s game. I’m 49 so, these days, on the very rare occasion that I do enjoy myself, I know it’ll take me weeks to recover before I can even think about enjoying myself again. Hard to believe that there was a time I’d enjoy myself every day. Get home from school, run up to my bedroom, close the door, lock it, lock it again, put a chair up against it, put another chair up against that, check the door was locked again and then enjoy myself. Every day. Sometimes more than once.

And that was fine. People don’t mind hearing about young people enjoying themselves. It’s just a bit cheeky when young people do it, isn’t it? A bit of fun. But not when a 49 year old man does it. Then it’s disgusting. A young comedian bounces on to the stage and talks about how he enjoyed himself and then got off the bus and we all laugh at the innocent, adorable little scamp. Then I come on and talk about how I enjoyed myself and I am branded a pervert. “Ugh”, the audience say. “Now we have to think about this lecherous creep stalking himself and grooming himself and… Ugh, I feel sick. He probably sends himself dick pics and hand pics. And the poor guy has to go along with it because he thinks it’ll help his career even though this creep is a nobody, which is probably why we’ve never heard of him. He’s worse than Harvey Weinstein and Stephen Fry, if Stephen Fry has been called out on sexual harassment claims by the time this blog is posted”.

Let me reassure you. That is one of the very main reasons I don’t enjoy myself very often: I’m just not that into me. I don’t want to do THAT to me just as much as you don’t. It’s gross. I mean, it’s not that gross. I don’t ejaculate or anything. I never ejaculate. For a couple of reasons. One: I’m vegan. That semen is an animal product. It isn’t for me. It’s for my babies. Two: like I say, I’m 49. Nothing comes out anymore. I mean, if I really try (and I mean really, really try), my future ghost might puff out, screaming “THE TIME IS NOT YET UPON US” before sucking itself back into my penis. Or if I really, really try (and I mean really, really, REALLY try), a couple of teeth might pop out. But that’s it. So, stop judging me.

Anyway, it was a lovely sunny day, so I went up to my bedroom to prepare enjoying myself. I walked over to the bedroom window and opened it. Not that that’s a part of my enjoying myself ritual. It isn’t. It’s not like I open the window and shout “You, boy! What day is it?”, hitting an urchin in the eye with my stuff just as he says, “Christmas again, by the looks of it”. No. I opened the window a bit because it was a hot summer’s day. I closed the curtains! I’m not weird. Well, I closed them almost all the way, leaving just a tiny gap to let some air in. I didn’t want the people I fantasise about to feel stuffy. And before you start feeling sick again, I was joking. I never fantasise. I just lie there completely still not thinking of a single thing until the whole sorry mess (tiny mess) is over.

I used to fantasise. I used to do it all the time but now, at the age of 49, I’m so me that I can’t stop being me. Even in fantasies. Like I could start fantasising about being in a jacuzzi with Lulu and it would start OK. She’d say, “You like this, don’t you, Michael?” and I’d say “Yeah, Lulu. I do”. And she’d say “Yeah. You like it when I touch you there, don’t you?” and I’d say “Yeah, Lulu. I bloody do. And then she’d say “Yeah, Michael. I bet you wish Stephen Moffat was staying on another year, don’t you?” and I’d say “No, Lulu. I don’t actually”. A massive argument would erupt and I’d storm out of the jacuzzi mumbling something about how she hasn’t even seen Pyramids of Mars. So, there’s no point in me ever fantasising.

So, I lay on the bed and began… you know… polishing the rod. Practicing my stroke. Cleaning out the pipe. Whatever euphemism you use. I genuinely tried to come up with a proper euphemism for how it actually is for me and the best I could come up with is “Ceefax and chill”. Really depressing. 

But I was enjoying myself. And I was enjoying myself for maybe three minutes when a butterfly landed on the pillow next to me.

Right next to me. It lay there looking at me. A butterfly saw me masturbate. I hope you’re feeling the importance of this in the same way I did. If not, allow me to repeat: a BUTTERFLY saw me MASTURBATE. A BUTTERFLY! Nature’s Princess Diana. It flew in, lay down and it watched me masturbate.

Do you know how long a butterfly lives for? 48 hours. And for 5 seconds during it’s brief, brief life, it saw me masturbate. To put that into perspective, that’s like you (yeah, you) watching me masturbate for 33 hours. Really slowly.

I am embarrassed and sickened by my first thought when I was, you know, “killing myself softly” while a butterfly watched. I just saw it lying there next to me and I thought “Jesus Christ. I bet this happens to Snow White all the time”. She’s finally seen the guys off to work. Decides to have a little me party and as soon as she gets started, a deer and a pig walk in saying “Do you need the dishes done?”. “Fucking hell”, she screams. “Five fucking minutes to myself!”

I stopped. I had to. Every time I flap my right arm, a hurricane hits South America. HA HA HA! Brilliant! Seriously, I stopped. Of course, I did. I’m not a monster. I cupped my hands around the butterfly and gently carried it to the window and set it free. I did that immediately because, no matter what, that traumatised insect will be dead within 48 hours. Probably now due to suicide. It probably flew out the window directly into a pin.

This was not how I normally enjoyed myself. That poor little animal. Such a short life and yet the horror it had seen. And then my next thought made me feel even worse: How many eyes does a butterfly have?

Oh, god. I bet it has like 20 eyes. 20 eyes just flew in and saw my dick. That’s horrible and depressing. For an insane reason, I tried to calculate how many eyes had seen my dick before the butterfly. I reckoned 33. Mainly medical professionals. And a villain.

Do you know how many eyes a butterfly has? I looked it up: 12,000. A butterfly has twelve thousand eyes. TWELVE THOUSAND EYES WATCHED ME WANK. I mean, I’m sure I burned a few out but it still stands. Twelve thousand eyes watched me wank. Sigh…

When you feel low, you have to make yourself feel better. That’s important advice. If you’ve traumatised a butterfly and you’re feeling worse and worse about it, then you have to do something about it. And nothing makes you feel better than education. Knowledge makes us stronger. So, I did more research.

I looked up the seating capacity of some of the finest, most prestigious concert venues in the UK and I discovered this: The Royal Albert Hall has a seating capacity of 6000. How’s THAT for making yourself feel better about yourself? Don’t you get it? 6000 people. That’s 12,000 eyes. I felt terrible just a few minutes ago but look at me now, people, just look at me now!

For I am Michael Legge. And I have basically masturbated at a SOLD OUT GIG at the ROYAL. ALBERT. HALL. (APPLAUSE FROM EVERYONE WHO READS THIS…)

And yet still the comedy industry ignores me