Tag Archives: humor

I’m Back In 1995

15 Dec

Lately, when I lie in the darkness at night smoking a couple of spliffs in bed and switching off from the day spent traipsing all over teaching my students English, I’ve been having vivid flashbacks to my childhood. Random stuff. Never anything particularly significant. But one memory always leads on to another, and I am there, back on the school field or sat in detention or on Western Road in Brighton doing Christmas shopping with my sister, my nan and my aunt. I can smell it. Hear it. Feel it. Tonight is no different, but for the fact that I don’t have to get up for work tomorrow morning on account of a chest infection, meaning I can sit up in front of my laptop and write some stuff down. I am aware that smoking with a chest infection makes me an idiot.

For some reason tonight my brain took me back to an eventful day in the early months of 1995, when I was 11, playing out like a film in my mind’s eye, with 3D glasses provided free of charge, scenes that had been absent from my memory for well over a decade. Bizaare scenes.

It’s about half past one in the afternoon and, unlike most of my mates, I’m not in class but rather the school hall. I’ve been excused from lessons because I’m in the school production and an emergency rehearsal has been called because the performance date is approaching and we’re shit, basically. Nowhere near ready. My role in the play is a small one so most of the time it’s other people rehearsing their bits while I’m sat on the floor with the other D-Listers. I keep getting told off for talking and pissing about and the teacher’s really starting to get on my tits. I’m not interested in the production, I only signed up for a part in it because I knew it would get me out of class occasionally. Also I’ve got something more important on my mind. In a few hours I’m going to be making my debut for the school’s Year 5 football team and, even more exciting than that, it’s against Manor Hall, our biggest enemy, the school from just up the road, the kids of which we fight in the park, the same kids that we went to first school with and were best friends with until we separated and went to different middle schools at the end of Year 3 and became sworn foes. This is a proper derby. And my nan’s coming to watch. And even better than all of that, we get to leave school early to get over to their school in time for the game. At 2 o’clock I’m sent to go and get changed with the rest of the team. I’m given shirt number 11. I wanted 8, because it’s Gazza’s number, but 11 is the next best thing, I’m not complaining.

There aren’t enough seats in the mini-bus for the whole team so those of us with bikes take them instead. Down Church Lane, cut through the graveyard, across the green, through the square, along Manor Hall Road. Say hello to my nan. Jog up and down. Start the game. And then a moment that will haunt me for the rest of my life, of this I am sure, almost 20 years after it happened. A cross is put in from the left wing. I don’t know by who, but it isn’t by the player that should be out there, our left winger, because that player is me, and I’m hovering about just outside Manor Hall’s box. The ball goes over my head towards our star player Ross and as it approaches him it plays out in front of me in slow motion, as I know that Ross is more than capable of taking the sting out of this with his chest and then laying it off to me, and the one thing that I pride myself on is my technique when it comes to volleying. I position myself and Ross plays it perfectly, it bounces just in front of me and sits up nicely and I take it on the half volley and connect with it more sweetly than I will ever connect with another ball in my life. I watch it fly from my boot and I know already that it’s going in the top corner. Everybody knows it. There is silence as the ball spins away deliciously to its target. The goalkeeper doesn’t even bother moving. I’m about to write my name into school folklore by scoring a wonder goal from outside the box against Them. Them from up the road. Them whose school jumpers are bright blue as opposed to our navy blue ones. And my nan’s watching. And she’ll tell everyone what she saw. She’ll tell my dad. What goal celebration am I going to do?

The ball smacks against the angle of the crossbar and the post and ricochets behind for a goal-kick.

I go into shock.

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Completely True Memories From My Birth

4 Jun

Allow me to reminisce briefly about a funny thing that happened to me one early morning thirty years ago. I was born! I climbed out of another human being’s body! Mental, right? Now I’m not going to claim that I remember any details from the day of my birth, because that would be an obvious lie, wouldn’t it? but I do clearly remember this: that when the midwife put me on the scales for the first time in that delivery room, she turned to my knackered looking mum and said, ‘Your son weighs 6 pounds and 2 ounces, which is quite tiny. Also – and I’ve never had to tell a new mother this before – half of that body weight is made up of thick, dark hair.’

To which my mother responded chirpily from just above the rim of her cup of tea, ‘Yea, that’ll be the Indian in him.’

Everyone gathered round was just about to chuckle politely, when a moment of silence descended for them to quickly ask themselves whether my mum’s little quip had been politically correct or not, everyone coming to the same conclusion: that this was the early 80s and we were in South London, so who really gave a shit? Also my mum’s granddad had been an Indian immigrant to Britain, so she was allowed to make comments like that, alright? Also, she never really said it, did she? This whole scenario up until now has been, if I’m truthful, made up as I go along. Why? Who knows? So yea, once everybody in the room had realised all of these things, they each allowed themselves a grin, before stopping what they were doing for a moment to enjoy a biscuit, picked from an assortment atop a plate that a passing ambulance driver had carried in to the room just seconds earlier.

‘I was just on my way home with this tray of biscuits, when I heard the screams of a newborn and followed my instincts (and my ear) to deliver this celebratory selection to the welcoming party! Congratulations!’ the nice man said.

A hospital orderly then handed everyone a fresh cup of tea, for biscuits to be dipped in. My dad politely turned down his offering, however, preferring instead to dip a Custard Cream in his beer. Each to their own. And then the hairy newborn baby in the room (the hairy newborn baby that was me, remember) raised his tiny little finger into the air, cleared his tiny little throat, and asked in a voice that shocked people by how deep it was for a baby, ‘What about the welcomee? Doesn’t he get a biscuit, too? I could murder a Bourbon.’

Everyone looked at each other confusedly, saying nothing, before their minds were put to rest by the calming words of one of the doctors in the room, who said, ‘Don’t worry; he’ll grow into that voice one day.’

There was then a period of silence; a silence that was broken by my mum asking, ‘Can the same be said of the hair, doctor?’

The doctor’s words on this occasion were less reassuring: ‘Even if your son grew to the size of André the Giant, which he won’t, he will never grow into all that hair.’

This cultural reference worked better then that it would today because in 1983 everyone on the planet (mostly) knew who André the Giant was. Today, not so much. Today in a similar situation the doctor might say, ‘Even if your son grew to the size of Wikipedia, which he won’t, he will never grow into all that hair.’

Everyone just smiled silently at the doctor’s knowledgeable input; everyone except for the passing ambulance driver, that is, who broke the silence for the second time to say, ‘Hang on a minute! Is that what everyone thought was weird about the baby asking for a Bourbon – that he asked for it in a deep non-baby like voice? Not one of your confused expressions was brought on by the mere fact that the newborn baby just spoke? I thought we were all on the same page back then! Obviously not!’

My dad then uttered his first words of the occasion, saying, ‘Runs in the family, that. I been speaking since about three weeks before birth. Nothing weird about that.’

The ambulance driver was lost for words, literally, and so just shook everybody’s hand and left the scene.

‘I never knew that about you!’ my mum said to my dad, after the ambulance driver had shut the door behind him.

‘That’s because it’s not true!’ he replied, ‘How could I have been talking from before I was born? I can’t believe that worked!’

The midwife then tapped my dad on the shoulder and asked, ‘What was the point of making that up?’ to which my dad uttered his now infamous words, ‘I just said it without thinking first.’

‘Genius,’ said the hairy newborn baby, ‘Genius.’

The hospital orderly collected up everyone’s empty mugs on a tray – she also took my dad’s empty can and said she’d find a bin for it – and then the midwife picked up the hairy newborn baby (aka Me) and said, ‘Right you, you’re coming with me!’

‘Where’s he off to, then?’ my mum asked.

‘Remember I said that he weighed 6 pounds and 2 ounces, and that that was quite tiny? Well it’s very tiny; probably down to the fact that he wasn’t meant to be born for another three weeks,’ the midwife explained, whilst giving me a little beanie hat and telling me to put it on; which I did obediently.

‘Is that why he’s a bit blue?’ asked my dad from across the room.

‘It is, yes.’

‘Ah that’s alright then, for a while I was secretly wrestling with the suspicion that my wife had been having a Smurf round the house while I was at work,’ my dad said. ‘So where’s he going then? You still didn’t tell us.’

‘Oh yea, sorry, I’m a forgetful thing sometimes,’ said the midwife, giggling, ‘He’s going to live in an incubator for a while.’

‘Oh. Okay then,’ my mum said, ‘Can you turn the light off on your way out, please, I’m about ready to pass out.’

The midwife picked me up and we headed to the door together. Just before she switched off the light she said to me, ‘Wave goodbye to your mum, if you don’t die then you’ll see her in a little while.’

‘Wait! What?’ said the hairy baby.

I didn’t die, and a week later I was taken home to meet the family dog.

me baby

Toilet Trauma : My Earliest Childhood Memory

23 May

‘Did not need this,’ I sighed to myself. ‘Really did not need this.’ My likely-soon-to-prove-fatal torment was accompanied temporarily by a soundtrack, one that brings me out in a cold sweat and the kind of rash that has people around debating the potential need for quarantine, each and every time I hear it, right up to the present day. And you’d be surprised just how often that mocking sound worms its way into my life, even now. Even now….. in my 30s. The taunting repetitive mechanical wheezing audio accompaniment to what I was sure were to be my final moments as a living human was coming from Thomas. Well, I called him Thomas, we were mates; but to those not on familiar terms, he was Mr. Tank Engine. I once heard The Fat Controller call him Tom. Thomas just muttered, ‘Don’t call me Tom, you fat controller.’ ‘What was that?’ ‘Oh nothing, I was just saying ‘choo choo!’’ And then he slid off along the tracks. But that had been then, and this was now. And now, Thomas was staggering around my kitchen floor, like a hairless hamster on ketamine (as a sidenote, once many many years later I found myself in the uncomfortable position on a stranger’s kitchen floor where I believed whole heartedly that I was a hairless hamster, only not one on ketamine. Turned out it was just me on ketamine) bumping occasionally into the skirting board. I couldn’t see him – I am having to trust the information my ears provided me to make this observation – all I could see was the top half of the mirror on the wall above the sink; the gap in the door to my left, on the other side of which Thomas mooched about aimlessly. (He would tire soon, his current burst of energy had been provided him by the turning of the key in his side, which I had taken care of just a couple of seconds before pausing our joyous play session, leaving the room and finding myself fighting for my life); and my knees. I could see my knees. I couldn’t really miss them, they were at eye level, a few inches from my face. I tried to move myself; to wriggle free. My knees were now above eye level. My feet were pointing up at the light in the ceiling. If I had been religious (or a moth) instinct may have driven me to attempt to go into the light. Who knows; for fortunately I was neither. I was also unable to move. Worse than all of this, the bottom of my arse was getting wet. I was sinking! I was going to get flushed away like a turd. A little, hairy turd. Again I sighed to myself, ‘Did not need this,’ (I had quite an understated and dry way of looking at the world as an infant) before shouting, ‘Help! Help!’

I may have blacked out for a moment, such was the traumatic nature of this episode, because I have no recollection of any moments passing between those cries and what I experienced next. I managed to open my eyes (which had both been closed due to fear) and there, standing over me, looking down with love in his eyes and a warm smile across his face, stood my granddad. He had heard my pleas and arrived from the living room to save my life. I would owe him for the rest of it. I was overcome with a feeling of complete love and gratitude towards this 50-year old man. He was clearly overwhelmed himself with the powerful bonding that was taking place, so overwhelmed in fact that it rendered him motionless to free me from my predicament. The realisation then hit that I had misinterpreted my granddad’s warm smile. He was laughing. The silent kind of laughing, induced by looking at something so funny it disables your voice box. I just looked at him. He looked at me. Nobody doing anything that could be considered productive. And then my granddad cleared his throat in an attempt to find his voice. ‘Janny, come and see this! It’s funnier than anything I could’ve imagined!’

‘Well then you are clearly the owner of a very poor imagination, Granddad. Would it not be funnier, for instance, if you had walked in here to find my head stuck in the tap? That’s just one example off the top of my head. I could think of loads,’ I said in my head.

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A Heartwarmingly Tragic Tail Of Family Life Set To The Backdrop Of A Fluffy And Light Desert

5 May

Yesterday afternoon I was lying on my bed, bored. Just staring at the ceiling and thinking about Angel Delight. And then to ease the boredom I did what I think any one of us would do in the same situation – I wrote a letter to Angel Delight headquarters, in which I pretended to be a 38-year old woman from Dudley in the West Midlands. I got up early this morning and posted the letter. I don’t know why. I will share the contents of the letter with you.

First, though, let me say something. I am aware that some of you (you know who you are) aren’t satisfied with merely words when you come here. Some of you want your literature sweetened with images, much like putting a bit of roast potato on the fork with the brocolli to help it go down. That’s okay, I can relate. I also know there are two types of people that wish for pictures with their text. The highbrow arty lot, educated, the ‘thinkers’, they like something tasteful, subtle and thought-provoking. For them what I’ve done is taken individual photos of all of the pages of the letter, and then I’ve mounted them onto a purple background using Paint, to create a classy looking Angel Delight letter montage.

You’ll get to that in a moment. There are also the other lot, the lowbrow mob, uneducated, the simple to please. And I tell you something, we are an alright group once you get to know us. Anyway for them (us) what I’ve done, again using Paint, is create a collage that appears to depict a smug-looking man ejaculating to the vision of a packet of raspberry flavoured Angel Delight. Extra comedy weight is added by the placing of the words ‘Whip up with fresh milk’ at the top of the packet, with a picture of a winking star next to the words. It’s as if the star is egging the masturbating man on. Saying ‘Oooh yea, go on then, whip up some fresh milk, ooooh!’ but in Ray Winstone’s voice. If you are a bit more juvenile you might just imagine the star is the winking bumhole of someone you know. Or of someone you would like to know. It’s up to you. I knew a girl once, years back, whose bumhole spoke in Ray Winstone’s voice. I did not. I made that up.  Continue reading

Gently Poking Fun At A German’s Name

24 Apr

You know how some things are funny because they’re not meant to be, and that if they had intended to be funny then they actually wouldn’t be? Like some time a couple of years ago I was sat at home watching athletics on the telly when this distance runner’s face came up on the screen, and underneath his face was written his name, and at the exact same time that I looked down to read it, the commentator said it out loud, as if my subconscious had the exact same voice as whoever it was that was commentating that day, and as I simultaneously read and heard the two words I realised that it was the greatest name belonging to anyone on the planet. Gaylord Silly. It’s fucking genius, isn’t it? Course it is! Gaylord Silly. Gaylord. Silly. Do you reckon he ever introduces himself in the style of 007? The name’s Silly, Gaylord Silly. The name is silly. But it isn’t meant to be. I truly believe it was an honest mistake on the part of Gaylord’s parents. The Sillys. Or maybe they pluralise their name to the Sillies. No, that would make no sense. But anyway, before I lose my trail of thought, I am stoned by the way, if that name Gaylord Silly had been made up by someone trying to be funny, it wouldn’t actually be that funny. Like if I said ‘Oi John, quick, come up with a funny name for a bloke on the spot,’ and he blurted out ‘Gaylord Silly,’ it wouldn’t be as funny would it? Actually whatever way you look at it, it’s always going to be a funny name. But if me and John had had that conversation a year ago, the one where I told him to come up with a funny name on the spot and he said Gaylord Silly, if we had had that conversation a year ago, I am almost certain that I wouldn’t remember it now. The name would have popped up, made me laugh, and then gone away to die somewhere. Because it would have been made up with the intention of being funny. Which would make it not as funny. Whereas Gaylord Silly’s name is not meant to be funny. So it is. In case you were wondering, me and John didn’t have that conversation about funny names a year ago. There is no John. I am rambling. Big time. I may have lost a couple of readers along the way there. Which means that I am now only left with the one.

The reason for that pointless introductory paragraph was that a couple of days ago I encountered my own Gaylord Silly. In a metaphorical sort of way. And it made me laugh enough that earlier this morning I had to go out walking for two hours just to find it again, this time with a borrowed camera in my pocket, as I am one of those weird people who don’t own a camera-phone, nor a camera, nor a phone. Which is annoying when you come across something that you either want to photograph or tell someone about. But I would say the positives of not owning a phone outweigh the negatives. I digress. Yea anyway, my metaphorical Gaylord Silly. I was out in the Spanish countryside, but could see the blue sea over the hills, which meant that I had wandered closer to the coast than usual, which also meant that I was in an area home to British, Dutch and German retirees, and before anyone accuses me of showing favouritism to any of those countries, you will notice I listed them alphabetically, and I came across this house, and as I passed it I couldn’t help but notice that the name of the occupants was engraved into a plaque by their gate. My initial reaction was to think ‘Oh look, a novelty name plaque, and not an overly funny one at that. What was the point in buying that? I bet the bloke who lives here is a riiiiiiiiiight laugh. I was being sarcastic there, that was what all the iiiiiiiiiiis were meant to convey. Basically I wasn’t impressed with this attempt at humour, and was convinced that it was the work of a dull Englishman, the kind who calls himself the office joker and who owns a mobile disco. I was just about to walk on, when I noticed that although the male’s name was an attempt at comedy, the woman’s name underneath wasn’t. At least, it didn’t strike me as such. The woman’s name was Uta Fischer. That would only be funny if an uta was something you could go fishing for. And even then it wouldn’t be very funny. It wouldn’t be funny at all. When I read the name Uta Fischer I didn’t think comedy attempt, I thought German. It was just a standard German name. And then it clicked that Uta Fischer’s companion’s name was almost definitely also just a Standard German name, and not a crap attempt at being funny. Which now made it fucking funny. In fact, my first reaction was to blurt out ‘Good grief, that’s his real name!’

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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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