Don’t Call Me ‘Mate’

4 Apr

‘He’s English. From Kent, I think. I’m not sure he’s a very nice man, though, cos when your sister was out here Matt passed him on the road and said ‘hello mate’ to him, and he got the arse, didn’t like being called mate, told Matt not to call him mate, said he wasn’t his mate. He really didn’t like being called mate! So if you do see him, I wouldn’t call him mate.’

That was my mum describing her middle-aged next door neighbour to me the first time I’d walked past his gated off property. As she told the story, the little pair of hands that reside inside my head rubbed themselves gleefully together. The first time I saw him I was gonna call him mate. It goes without saying, doesn’t it? I mean, come on. Well that was two months ago. I never saw the bloke! Until this afternoon, that is, when I was walking down the dirt path that constitutes the road here, on my way out, and he happened to be out collecting his post from the outside box.

Before I tell you about our encounter earlier this afternoon, I’ll just tell you a couple of other quick things about this guy. His house is the ‘big one’ in the area, the luxury pad, you know. It is mostly hidden from view by the huge fencing and walls he has had put up around the land, which have been painted black, he has a massive electric gate, and unlike every other household within a 10-mile radius, he doesn’t have any dogs. This is dog country out here. Everyone’s got dogs. They serve two purposes, that of pet, and that of guard dog. But this bloke doesn’t like dogs. Instead, his ‘fortress’ is protected by a thousand and one different security cameras, whose images are monitored 24-hours a day by some bloke in an office somewhere. If you believe all the massive stickers the guy’s got plastered over his gate and fences, that is. If you look through the gaps in the fence, you can see his grandiose patio and inviting-looking swimming pool. A few times I’ve glimpsed him through the gaps as I’ve been walking past, sitting poolside on a luxury sun lounger, in his Ferarri baseball cap, sipping a cocktail that Del Boy would send back for being too colourful, with his English ‘lady friend’ on a lounger next to him, reading what I can only imagine is the Daily Mail. Just blocking out the world. Erecting barriers.

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Sorting Out The Middle East (alternative title: Being Facetious About The Middle East)

3 Apr

Oi Palestine and Israel,

Come round to my mum’s house in Spain, the weather’s nice at the minute and we’re only a short drive from the sea, personally I walk it because I haven’t got a car. Or a driving licence. And I like a walk. But yea, come round. I know you two aren’t really talking at the moment, so rather than leave it up to you to arrange a night in, I’m taking the initiative. Next Friday. The house is gonna be empty, my mum’s going back to England to visit my sisters, so just come round about 9 in the evening, just the pair of you, and bring crisps. And biscuits. And cake. And some pizzas to stick in the oven. Normally I have to remind people not to bring pepperoni pizzas, cos I’m a vegetarian, you know, but I don’t think there’s too much danger of either of you turning up with that, is there? Bring olives as well, I don’t like them, but bring them anyway. And bring oranges, we’ll make juice. I will provide everything else for the evening. When I say everything else, I mean the biggest bag of homegrown you’ve ever seen. And cushions. And tunes. It’s pretty retro, I know, but I’ve got a decent CD stereo from the 90s here, and some good albums. So what we’re gonna do is sit down on the cushions, put the bong in the middle, stick some tunes on, eat the food, make and drink the juice, watch some funny comedy on Youtube, and just bond, man, like we seem to have forgotten how to. I don’t want either of you inviting any of your other mates. I don’t want them in the house. To be honest, I’m not sure how good mates they really are, but that’s for you to realise on your own. But they ain’t coming here, alright? Good. We’ll just get stoned, eat the food, drink the juice and listen to tunes. Simon and Garfunkel, and to show there’s no favouritism we’ll also listen to Cat Stevens, and we won’t get into any arguments about what name he should be referred to as. And we’ll listen to Bob Marley. He’s got a good message. And oi, Israel, don’t even think of trying to claim a Rastafarian as your own. That shit won’t wash. And if any one of us starts getting tired or nodding off, we’ll take it up a notch and stick some psytrance on and we’ll put Media Player on full screen and just stare at the moving pattern thingy, trying to work it out. It can never be worked out. It is a question without an answer. But this common search in our minds for the solution will connect us all. We’ll chat about old times, new times, imaginary times. We will not talk about religion. Whatsoever. You don’t even wanna get me started on that bullshit, you will both end up kissing and making up, united in your hatred for the new common enemy, me. So don’t bring any of that poison anywhere near my home. We’ll just get stoned, eat the food, drink the juice, listen to the tunes and watch some comedy. A bit of Curb Your Enthusiasm, and to show there’s no favouritism we’ll also watch some Omid Djalili, and we won’t get into any arguments about whether or not he counts as a Muslim, because it shouldn’t matter either way what someone’s religion, colour, race or anything else is, especially if that person is there to tell you jokes. And we’ll watch Mitch Hedberg, just because he cracks me up more than anyone else, and then if I can be bothered to get up, I’ll stick a Stewart Lee DVD on. Eventually we’ll have to crash, there’s a bedroom here for each of you, so don’t worry about that. We’ll sleep it off, and then when we wake up we’ll go out, get some food, bring it back, cook it up, eat it up, skin up, and carry on where we left off. I’ll let you guys do the cooking, your food is so much more fucking delicious than mine, but I might make some Angel Delight. Only joking. You guys are in control of the kitchen. Basically you’re coming here on Friday, you’re staying til Sunday, and we’re gonna just be in the moment. After that it’s up to you. I’m not gonna keep pulling strings to get us all in the same room together. We’re brothers, man! So after this weekend it is up to you. See how you feel about each other then. But for this weekend only, come to my house, just the pair of you, leave any negative feelings outside my door before you come in, bring crisps and biscuits and a cake and some pizzas and olives and oranges. And a toothbrush. And we’ll sit down on the cushions, put the bong in the middle, stick some tunes on, eat the food, make and drink the juice, watch some funny comedy on Youtube, and just bond. And if you don’t walk out of here having realised that what bonds us all far outweighs what divides us, even you two, then there’s something wrong with the pair of you. See if you’re not talking seriously about tearing down that apartheid wall once you two have had a smoke together. This is good weed guys. The kind that was created to be shared. You’ll see on Friday. See you then. Peace.

shalom-salaam-peace-big

 

What? Sometimes you gotta be facetious. I have just been pretty fucking facetious. And why not?

Meditation Fart

31 Mar One of 'em farted, not one of 'em laughed. What's that all about then?

I’m out again, walking, stoned as a motherfucker, not to mention woozy from inhaling the fumes of the mosquito repellent my body is covered in. I’m basically just fucking with the mosquitos, saying ‘I’m not gonna kill you, I’m just gonna repel you instead.’ And that, for a mosquito, is much more annoying. I’m being a nuisance to the mosquito, fucking up his day, because no matter how much he is repelled he just can’t fight the urge to keep coming back for another attempt. He is convinced that eventually he’ll find a gap in the forcefield and get his tongue into my bloodstream. They all think it. I just get to watch them growing increasingly pissed off. Buzzing loudly and at speed past my ear before getting a whiff of the repellent and running away. Flying away, I mean, not running. And they’re getting hungrier, which means they’re getting the ‘ump more, but rather than go and find an open buffet that is a human not sprayed from head to toe in repellent, they’re intent on gatecrashing the picnic that flows through my veins. The pest has become the pestered, and the pestered has become the pest. This is my non violent protest against the mosquito regime.

How good a word is woozy? Brilliant. Woozy. Woozy. It even looks good in written form. Now say it in a French accent. Je suis woozy. You sound like Pepé Le Pew. Say it in a German accent, however, and it loses its charm and playfulness somewhat. Ich bin voozi! Not the same is it? For woozy to elicit the appropriate feeling the W has to be pronounced correctly.

It’s probably a good thing that I write these inner monologues down in this notebook rather than sharing them with a shrink. This notebook is my shrink, but one without the necessary powers to have me sent to the funny farm. If I did turn up at a mental hospital and told a member of staff on reception that I was there because my notebook had sectioned me, clearly I would be in the right place. “Oh, your notebook sent you here, you say?  Right, well come this way please. Doctoooooor!”

Just now when I wrote ‘this notebook is my shrink’ I had to fight the urge to write ‘you are my shrink,’ you know, personifying the notebook. I don’t want to be that guy. It’s just a notebook. It’s not a diary, it’s not a journal, it’s not my mate! It’s just a notebook that I write shit down in. I am no Anne Frank and this is no Kitty.

After spending those last few paragraphs talking about fucking with a mosquito’s day and then comparing the impact of the word woozy when said in different national accents, it was kinda already implied that I am no Anne Frank, I think.

Last night I realised that I haven’t grown as much spiritually as I would have hoped. It was late and I was listening to a guided Vipassana meditation I’d ripped from Youtube. I try to meditate every night, and more often than not the effects are positive. This particular guided meditation, though, was one that I hadn’t listened to before. Not fully anyway. But we got off to a good start last night and I was lying in the dark, earphones in, completely relaxed, on my way to that nice place as the voice of this woman gently led me. The meditation was a group one, and every now and then the quiet was interrupted by the sound of a cough, or someone clearing their throat, or just someone shuffling about a bit. Fair enough, we are all only human after all. I blocked it out. Then I heard a sound of a different nature. The sound of a fart being let out by someone sitting on a floor. A fart done on the floor sounds different to a fart done standing up or lying down. It’s just a funnier sound. We all know that already, I’m not writing anything pioneering here. But yea, someone had farted loudly mid meditation. Mid group meditation!  And that spelt the end of my meditation, because as many times as I managed to clear my thoughts I could not stop laughing. Hysterically. At 30 years old. At a fart. The passing of excess gas, by a human, through his or her anus. I pissed myself giggling for hours. I imagine I even laughed in my sleep through the night. The thing that tickled me the most was that no one at the meditation so much as snickered. Or sniggered? I don’t know which word is the right one. Sniggered, I think. No one! These people are on a higher level than me, clearly. My quest for spiritual peace and enlightenment can easily be derailed by the sound of a fart. I have a long way to go, man, a long way to go.

The friendly south American waitress in this bar keeps watching me as I laugh to myself whilst writing about a fart. I think she mistakes me for a deep and profound thinker and writer. I come in here every now and then, perspiring from the walk, so stoned I can’t shift the smile plastered across my mug, I ask her for an orange juice, we exchange smiles and a few words, and then I disappear to the little table in the dark corner to ponder and write in my notebook. The mysterious foreigner! El gringo misterioso! Ha! Is that really how I imagine she imagines me? Really? Fuck off, man! She sees you for what you are, the dopey stoned bloke whose terrible Spanish she entertains. Either way, I bet if you asked her what I was sitting here writing, her first stab in the dark wouldn’t be a meditation fart. Or maybe it would. Maybe I am that transparent. I see transparency as a virtue. Transparency is good. If this piece of writing had to have a title, it would be Meditation Fart. I want to write a book called Meditation Fart. It could be about anything. I can’t read my own handwriting any more. This notebook is looking less and less like it was written by me, and more and more like it was written by Michael J Fox. I like to think that Michael J Fox wouldn’t be offended by that flippant comment. It wasn’t even funny.

All the local workers have just come in to have their lunch before nipping off home for a siesta before resuming their work later on. Loud bunch, the Spanish. Just naturally. I try not to generalise too much, but this one is unavoidable. The Spanish are loud. It used to annoy me a bit. It doesn’t any more. But man do the Spanish seem happier than the English. Again I’m generalising. People interact with one another here. It’s how it should be. It’s warm. I wouldn’t mind being born Spanish. You can only be born once though, despite what poor brainwashed evangelical Christians may tell you, and I’ve already had my go, 30 years ago. Ah well, no point thinking about it then. So I won’t.

One of 'em farted, not one of 'em laughed. What's that all about then?

One of ‘em farted, not one of ‘em laughed. How’s that work then?

Ta

28 Mar

When I was a kid there was no greater feeling in the world than when someone read something I had written and liked it. It wasn’t an ego thing. It was just a desire to be read, to communicate, to feel like I had connected with someone, and to a large extent to entertain. Even if it was just my English teacher keeping me behind after class to talk to me about something I’d written, it always gave me great satisfaction. And that is something that has never changed.

Earlier tonight I had a quick look at the stats for this blog, and on the bit where it tells me how many of you came and read my stuff today it also shows me what countries you visited from. And there were all these flags, of all different nations, from all different parts of the planet, and it touched me. Just to think that in 12 different countries, with all the different lives that people are living, there were people that took five minutes out of their day to indulge me and my mind and my unimportant musings. And I don’t care if it sounds silly, but I really feel connected to every single one of the people represented by those numbers and flags on the screen, because in all those different lands, on the same day, for just a few minutes each, there was in some form, whether on a computer screen, a tablet, a smartphone, whatever, there was a piece of me, and again I don’t mean me the ego, I mean me the sentiment. My sentiments. My insignificant thoughts. And I was in each of those places by invite. And that humbles me greatly. I mean, really, what am I? What is any of us? Just one of over seven billion other human vibrations, smaller than a drop in the ocean, so tiny it’s inconceivable, and yet every single one of us thinks and feels, every single one of us expresses him or herself, on some level, but not every single one of us has the opportunity to be heard. But when you are heard, when someone takes the time to listen to you, you should appreciate it, appreciate that that person didn’t have to give you that ear, that connection, you know? Ah man in my head and in my heart I know exactly what I’m trying to say, but I’m failing to articulate myself properly.

We are so tiny and yet every single one of us has the potential to change the world. That’s too much for me to get my head around right now.

WordPress’ stats section doesn’t show me people, it shows me numbers. Well I suppose that’s why it’s called ‘stats,’ I wouldn’t really expect anything other than that. But when I look at those numbers and those flags, I take the time to appreciate that every single one of them represents a thinking and feeling person, with their own unique story, with a voice, with emotions, with everything that connects us all as humans. And all of those people, you people, have let me into your world for just a few minutes, and then you’ve gone on and carried on with your day. And that’s special to me. Really. And it is never under appreciated.

I would invite every single one of you into my home for lunch or dinner and a chat, if you happened to be passing by. And I’d sit and listen to your stories.

I’ll cut it short, cos I’m failing epically here. The long and the short of it is that I realised I’ve not taken the time before to thank anyone for visiting this blog and for reading my nonsense. And I wanted to do that. If nobody took the time to read what I write, then the blog wouldn’t exist. And if the blog didn’t exist, I would never have the kick up the arse I constantly need to get me writing. And believe me, I would fill that gap with far less productive pursuits.  So for all of those things, I thank you.

Let’s just keep breaking down borders, because what are they other than invisible lines created in the minds of a tiny handful of other people? If those people have the power to create those invisible lines in their minds, I’m taking the right to erase those invisible lines in my own mind. Because I can. Every one of us can.

 

blog flags

Fuck the Daily Mail!

27 Mar

I’ve got the urge to write but I don’t have anything to say, I mean, I have shit to say, but nothing that would be interesting to anyone who doesn’t live inside my head. But I have got the urge to write. I just read this story about Alan Partridge having a go at the Daily Mail, comparing it to paedophilia, and I thought ‘Yes, Partridge!’ for no other reason than I hate the Daily Mail with a passion. One of the reasons I hate them is because their existence means that I have to walk around with the burden of hate in me, if that makes sense. Here I am at a point in my life where I am trying as best I can to harbour no resentment, anger, envy or hatred to any individual on the planet, and yet I can’t shift this overpowering loathing I carry about with me for the Mail. And it’s not that I hate the Mail because it’s cool to hate the Mail. In fact I find that idea ridiculous. I don’t believe there’s anybody who hates the Mail because it’s cool to hate the Mail, that’s just some silly remark the Mail’s supporters will throw out there.  People hate the Mail just because they hate the Mail. It is as simple as that. It is in our human DNA to hate the Mail, just like it is in our human DNA to hate rats. And I don’t even hate rats. But I am shit scared of them. All rodents. I don’t even like being in my sister’s place when the hamster’s running around the room in his ball. Every time I see a hamster running in one of them balls I remember the Crystal Maze. Remember when the surviving contestants would have to go into that big hamster ball at the end and collect the golden tickets? When I say ‘surviving contestants’ I don’t mean the ones that hadn’t died during the earlier segments of the show. I’ve completely lost my trail of thought here. Writing shit again that is only interesting to anyone that lives inside my head. Which is just me. And whoever the other four voices belong to. One of them is German. And shouts instructions to me at night. But until now I have never acted on them. Not because I know better, but because I don’t speak German, so can’t understand what the person in my head is telling me to do.

That last bit is not true. I just made it up. Entertaining myself. I’m writing, at least. He’s actually Swiss.

 

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Remember That Time We Contacted The Dead?

24 Mar

Do you remember that time when we was about ten or eleven years old, it was the spring time, and that kid that everyone was a bit afraid spent the morning telling us about how he was able to speak to the dead? And do you remember how he told us it definitely worked, cos he’d done it at home the night before, so he knew? Remember the looks on our faces? I definitely remember the look on yours. And then when he told us that we could do it too. All we needed was this thing called a Ouija board, even if we never woulda known then that that’s how it was spelt, if forced to hazard a guess we would’ve probably spelt it weedgie board, and a coin. That was all we needed, he told us, to talk to the dead! Man, I remember the look on your face. But wait, shit, we haven’t got a weedgie board. What’s that? It doesn’t matter, you say, because we can make one ourselves on a piece of A4 paper? And it just so happens that we’ve got a photocopier in our classroom with a tray full of A4 paper. Remember the excitment when he told us that? Breaktime couldn’t come soon enough that day, could it? Even if deep down inside we knew that what that weird kid was telling us couldn’t possibly be true, we knew that we’d make our weedgie board, form a circle around it, put our fingers on the coin and nothing whatsoever would happen, even if we knew all that really, we still couldn’t fucking wait for breaktime, could we? What if it was true? It couldn’t be though, could it? Why we were even entertaining the idea? Roll on breaktime!

We didn’t have to wait til breaktime though for our juices to really get flowing, did we, cos remember how fifteen minutes before break that kid told the teacher he was going to the toilet and when he returned five minutes later he only produced a weedgie board from his pocket, that he had made in the cloakroom! Yes! Remember that? Course you do! You don’t forget those days. Ever. Everytime the teacher went over the other side of the classroom he whipped it out on the table for us to marvel at. Remember how big he had written the words ‘YES’ and ‘NO’ up in the corners? And remember the alphabet and numbers written in the circle? And remember how that weedgie board looked absolutely fuck all like any Ouija board you’ve ever seen since? But it was the only weedgie board we’d ever seen, so it had to be proper, and besides, this kid had done it at home the night before and he knew what he was talking about, alright?

Remember how at the time the obvious question never crossed our minds, ‘What sort of weird home life has this kid got if he’s conducting séances at night?’ And that kid didn’t even have any brothers or sisters, man! So I wanna know who the fuck was introducing him to this stuff? His parents? ‘Hello, Childline?’

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More Stoned Musings From The Spanish Outdoors

19 Mar

*Taken straight from the notebook

I’ve learnt two new things about myself today. The first is that I enjoy the sensation of exchanging pleasantries with complete strangers. Who knew? I certainly didn’t until a few minutes ago.

Out here I don’t see many other people and can sometimes walk for a couple of hours at least without coming across another human, not when I’m wandering about in the fields anyway, but occasionally I slip away from the fields to cut across the only road for miles around, that connects the city of Elche with the coast, and although the road is more often than not dead, it is still the place of work for prostitutes, who sit by the side of the road on a little chair under an umbrella, reading a book, and when they’re ‘busy’ their book awaits their return on top of their empty seat. There is one of these girls approximately every mile. Eastern European or South American. And these girls know not to take me for a potential customer as I approach them – I haven’t got a car, for a start. Plus I like to think they recognise me as someone who wouldn’t have to pay for sex, ha! he says modestly! More likely they take a quick look at me and come to the conclusion that I couldn’t afford it – I’m just a stoned bloke out for a wander about. And I have to squeeze by these girls at the side of the road, and I always do so in silence and with my eyes averted to the ground. And just the same, these girls completely ignore me. It’s as if we don’t acknowledge each other’s existence. But obviously we do, or at least I do, or I wouldn’t be writing about it. I carry on walking. She carries on reading. Even though we’re the only two people for miles around, seemingly we would rather be the only person singular for miles around. And I passed one of these girls a little while ago, South American woman, and we said nothing, standard, and then I took another path that led me back into the wilderness, and I started thinking about how sad it was for two humans to just blank each other like that out here in the middle of nowhere, and how a simple ‘Hola’ wouldn’t take too much effort at all. And then I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I wanted desperately to exchange greetings with someone. Just briefly, passing in the day. I don’t want to disturb anyone’s life with idle chit-chat. Just to say hello, to acknowledge someone, to have someone acknowledge me. But it’s not like I could go back to the road now. That’d just be fucking weird. If I walked all the way back to that particular spot of road where that South American woman sat under her umbrella, reading, and I went up to her and simply said ‘Hola.’

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