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El Stake-Out (Dos)

Hijo de puta! Walking around Reading – minding my own business when – boom! Nana Grande of Peruvian ‘gang’ fame (El Stake-out) appeared right on my six – A plastic bag on each hip (presumably full of guns and cocaine) – moving like stink – little moccasins tearing up the pavement – three and a half feet of raw terror. I got in a cheeky reverse photo before veering off through a car park and into Homebase…


Todo es bueno…pero no! Nana Grande was in there too, loitering in the weapons department (rakes and hoes). She looked up and there was a sly expression of recognition.

We stood side by side at the check-out, like the world’s slowest car(t) chase. Ahead of me an old biddy made small-talk, unaware of the life and death struggle taking place behind. To my right NG took the lead and placed her items of torture (pegs and hoover bags) on the counter.

I know this looks like one of those grainy photos you see of Loch Ness or Big Foot, but the one she took of me as I was standing at the check-out (whilst possibly planted some kind of nano tracker) was crystal clear – The cojones on this woman!

As I write she’s probably in a knitted treehouse relaying the day’s events to Rosa, El Colonel and Big Mike, planning some garish pan-pipe / blow-dart related demise. My cards are marked people…


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Adios Stink-Town…

‘Why are my hands adhering to the steering wheel? This is deeply unpleasant.’

I peel my palms from the upholstery and sniff the offending digits – honey – the remnants of a squeezy bottle placed in the bin on the way out the door. By my reckoning it’ll be 15-20 minutes before I’m near a sink – No, I am an overly pampered westerner and cannot possibly wait that long. It’s early morning and there’s dew on the ground. Sweet Mother Nature has provided the means of my cleansing. I run both hands through a wet hedge and a giant spiderweb clings to the honey and creates a gloopy gossamer membrane. This is way worse! No matter – I’m passing a row of cars – windscreens glistening with moisture. Again – both hands. Apparently there’s more dirt than water. My webbed appendages now resemble the fur of a badly stuffed animal. A car alarm goes off. I make good my escape…

…At the station I realise that my ticket has expired. So now I’m at the counter, trying to fish a wallet out of my pocket with my wolf hands and the cashier’s judging me and I’m thinking of clever things to say (‘Full moon last night’ or ‘you should see my sheets,) but not saying any of them…

…OK…on the train…good…only not good! The loo is semi-occupied by a large man, door ajar, his head angled so as to hold a phone against his neck and both hands working furiously to scrub food from his tie, carriage too packed to seek alternative means of hiding my shame.

‘My password?’ he bellows. ‘Sure. Are you listening carefully? it’s Asswipe123…Yes! I thought so too…I was gonna use Fu…Oh shit! I dropped my phone down the toilet!…Hello? Can you still hear we Jerry? Nope, he’s gone.’

He retrieves his phone from the U-bend, dries it as best he can on the septic rag that Great Western were kind enough to provide and places it in his pocket whereupon further bog water seeps into his crotch and midriff like a burst colostomy bag.

I go into the now vacated loo to find that Asswipe123 has used up all the water. So we stand side by side on our journey to London – a man who’s soiled himself and a man with terrible hygiene.

‘Were it not for social conventions,’ I think ‘I could put my hands down his pants where there’s moisture aplenty’…

…I tell the woman who now hates me. We should be on my leaving lunch, but instead we’re sitting on the floor of a tiny lift waiting for the emergency services to arrive. An hour previous she asked me to put into words what it felt like to leave the company. I jumped up and down in elation, the breaks kicked in and you’re all caught up.

‘Do you have enough air?’ a facilities guy shouts down the lift shaft.

‘What are you going to do if we don’t?’ my colleague replies…

…Thank God that’s over I’m thinking later in the check-out queue.

‘Planning on murdering someone?’ the cashier asks.

I look down at my shopping basket: penknife, bleach, bolt-cutters, gloves, plastic container, washing up liquid.

I consider the truth (‘I only came in for the washing up liquid,’) quirky (‘What was it that gave me away?’) and unhelpful (‘Imagine how much more incriminating this would be if I still had honey, web and dirt all over me!’) before opting for ‘You realize I cannot allow you to live?’

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Ten things to do AFTER you’re 40…#NoOneCares

Google the phrase ‘Things to do before you’re thirty,’ and all manner of wondrous suggestions cascade like an invitation to dream the impossible – jump from a plane, eat caviar on top of a mountain, grope a woman way out of your league whilst wearing high-performance running shoes etc.

Google the phrase ‘Things to do before you’re forty,’ and the dream has been somewhat curtailed – do a sit-up, try to remain relatively stationary, make up with an enemy (presumably before you feel death’s icy fingers around your embittered heart?)

I resent the idea that I am (we are), at every moment, running out of time to do stuff. I therefore present ten doors that open (rather than close) as you get older:


1. Go to Topshop and complain about why they no longer sell boot-cut jeans. ‘Yes, I know I should have stopped coming in here ten to fifteen years ago, but what’s with all this skinny crap and court-appearance-suits, and why do you keep glancing down at your phone? How else am I am going to (continue to) look like a Top Gear presenter you little shit?’

2. Go somewhere uber-hip. Know with a certainty that it isn’t you – It’s everyone else. Relax in the surety that you will never ever be hip again (if you ever were). Wear what you like. Resist the urge to beat up metro-sexuals. Lament the decline of masculinity. Revert to northern stereotypes when confronted with pretentiousness, safe in the knowledge that your adversaries will do anything to avoid conflict as their hair will get un-ironically messy: ‘These chips appear to be made of beetroot. Bring me potato before I turn feral.’

3. Gaze in amazement and horror at teenagers who’ve never heard of Gandhi, Thatcher or Hitler (I lived with teachers – this happened).

4. Leave mortgage statements lying around for young people to find (or hen’s teeth / unicorn’s horn). Talk openly about being in the market for a second house (cash buyer obviously).

5. Rejoice in the fact that interest rates really are interesting. Why else would you talk of nothing else?

6. Harness the power of forgetfulness and never worry about anything ever again (or at least forget that you were worried in the first place).

6. Have I already talked about not worrying? Where am I? Why am I still in my pyjamas?

7. Congratulate yourself on not having one of those voices? That goes up like a question? But isn’t? Slavishly take people who do at face value e.g.

‘I went out at the weekend?’

‘Well, I don’t know. You tell me.

‘It was amazing?’

‘Again, only you can be the judge of that.’ etc.

8. Get asked by a bald, diminutive, comb-over-sporting Indian man if you’d like to come with him to Bangalore for ‘Buy-one-get-the-second-half-price- follicle-replacement-surgery.’ Reply: ‘I don’t think you need it. What are you, 46?’

‘I’m 34.’

Work with him under increasingly tense circumstances for a further six months.

9. Genuinely remember when all this was fields. Realise that people have started consulting you on how we used to live. 

10. Get laughed at for owning Level 42 and Gloria Estefan albums on cassette (plus workable analog devices for playing them on). Smugly know that they’re coming back in fashion any day now…

Any day…


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My Punchable Face…

…Or ‘My Expletive and Dwarf-laden journey home…’ (Certain words have been substituted to give this a PG-13(ish) rating).

Aldgate station, London 17:45, usually quiet, on this particular occasion – rammed to the gills: ‘We apologise for the congestion,’ droned the tannoy, ‘This was caused by a fight on a train and subsequent cancellations.’

A cursory glance at the board told me that I wasn’t getting home via the conventional route. I took the next available train going west and changed at Baker Street. As I reached the start of the escalator an incredibly short man cut in front and tripped over my feet. Temper-wise he went from zero to a zillion within the space of a nanosecond – peppering me with a barrage of C-bombs and spectacularly overreacting.

‘Charming,’ I replied like an imbecile. Further C-bombs abounded.

In addition to the man’s height deficiency he was also three rungs below me. As such my genitals bore the brunt of his fury;  an overarching thought throughout: I am perfectly positioned to kick you right in the face…but I’m not going to do that. Sure, you look like a midget with a Napoleon complex, but you might be a ninja. I can’t go out like that. It would be like choking on a marshmallow or getting run over by a segue.

A voice from behind came to my aid: ‘Mate, calm down, I saw – It was an accident – you pushed in.’ I turned. The voice belonged to a man in a three-piece suit

‘Well you can funf yourself as well,’ screamed the ninja.


Napoleon stormed off leaving me a little shaken.

‘Don’t worry about it mate,’ reassured Three-piece, ‘guy’s a douche – you handled it well.’


‘I would’ve hit him!’

‘Fair enough.’

Far below Napoleon had clearly decided our encounter wasn’t over and was waiting for me at the bottom of the escalator.

‘If you ever deliberately trip me again I will slit your throat you C-bomb.’

‘Mate, it’s been a long day – I’m not doing this.’

‘You’ll do what I funfing well tell you you’ve doing.’

‘OK…’ I went to the right side of the platform, as did Three-piece. Napoleon followed.

Together we tried to placate the little man whilst he continued threatening and bombarding us with abuse. Eventually he lost interest and started to walk away.

‘Jeez,’ sighed Three-piece. ‘I bet you wished you’d pushed him down the escalator.’

‘What did you funfing say?’

‘Oh c’mon! No one can be this angry!’

The train arrived, packed to the rafters. No one got on board. It pulled away leaving us on the platform.

‘Yeah,’ snarled Napoleon, ‘you thought you’d escaped, but now you’re stuck with me.’

Three-piece made a strange noise. I looked to him and saw that he was laughing his ass off. He set me off.

‘This isn’t funfing funny!’ Napoleon declared.

‘It’s quite funny,’ Three-piece responded.

‘This is ridiculous,’ I added. ‘You’re ridiculous. Why are you so aggressive?’

‘If you don’t stop laughing…’

Before I knew what I was saying I’d stepped up to him. ‘I tell you what – Throw down or f*&% off.’

‘Oh, you want we to throw down? I’ll funfing throw down. I’ll throw you off the funfing earth.’

I am living proof that it is possible to find something hilarious whilst also fearing for your wellbeing. ‘No, I don’t want you to throw down. I want you to go away.’

Another train arrived. The three of us got into the same carriage and stood staring at one another for the next ten minutes . It was the closest I’ve ever come to an out of body experience in that I could sense how smug I must look, but was powerful to wipe the provocation from my lips. Three-Piece was clearly having the same issue.

At Paddington the two normal-sized people alighted.

‘Bye C-BOMBS!’ Napoleon yelled.

If I was going to smack him I’d left it a little late. I looked at Three-piece. He gave me a cheeky wink.

‘BYYYEEE,’ we both waved euphorically.

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Gift of the Gabbage

Someone has labelled everything in the park. A tree has a piece of paper attached to its bow with the word ‘tree’ written on it, the ground is labelled ‘ground;’ a lamppost ‘lamppost.’ Not everything is so literal. One of the bushes is christened ‘Bean Head,’ and a bench sports ‘No Thugs.’

FullSizeRenderAll in all there are close to forty such signs. It’s like something out of Alice in Wonderland (‘Drink me.’)

What would prompt someone to do something like that?

My initial ideas (in the order they arrived): Prank / Peruvians / Some kind of protest / Epic breakdown / Insane.

It’s not in Spanish so it can’t be my Peruvian stalkers, (unless they’re deliberately using another language to throw me off the scent – Los Rapscallianos!) See previous post: Digame!

If insane then just imagine what a treasure trove their home must be – all the nouns assigned a little sticker – knives labelled ‘stabby friends’ or ‘she will be mine.’

‘I’m just going down to the ‘Green-play’ (park), but first I shall put on my ‘cloth skin’ (coat) and ‘fruit-bowl’ (pants).’

FullSizeRender (1)I want to engage with you fellow human. What are you?

I got to the train station without being accosted by a white rabbit (shame). I have a long commute each day. On occasion it grinds me down. Yesterday, wedged against some guy’s ass-crack, having miraculously secured a seat, I thought ‘You know what would spruce this journey up? A Mariachi band! I could hire one and get them to follow me around for the day. Sure, it would compound the overcrowding, but think of the joy it would bring, to you and your fellow commuters. I dismissed the idea as fanciful, but later found myself researching the matter thoroughly and ascertained that I could employ said musicians for the grand sum of £300 (el etiquette Trabajo de Mexicanes es muy bueno!) Were it not for the prohibitive train fares I may well have proceeded (£50 a head for a day return! (plus the guy who plays the bass is normally as fat as a house / sports a coffee-table sized sombrero – he’d need two tickets)) – Maybe if I booked in advance I could get some kind of super saver, but then I’d need to travel off peak…
…the point being – it would be amazing, but people would think I was unhinged…

Perhaps the phantom labeller was attempting something equally uplifting. Who can say? Unless they leap naked from behind the bins one morning, a half-dead pigeon twitching between their teeth, and screech a heroin-fuelled explanation into my face we’ll never know. I apologise crazy person. Our failure to communicate is 50% my fault…

But it’s not all misfire. I know a guy with a Filipino wife thirty-two years his junior who speaks no English. They communicate exclusively through Google Translate (and presumably blowjob morse code – one speculates), and they seem to get along just fine!

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Cheeky Bonus!

I knew today was going to be great. Had a feeling deep down in my bones right from the get-go…Alarm went off at bastard o’clock, leapt out of bed like I was in a musical and launched into my solo number ‘Who needs sleep when you’ve got work?’ My walking cane tapped out a jaunty tune as I skipped down the stairs – munched down my cornflakes like they were cocaine (just the three bowls – they’re so moreish!) and was out the door into a beautiful (albeit drizzly) morning.

My journey to the station took me alongside a dual-carriageway lined with hotels and B&Bs. From one such establishment loomed an incredibly tall, incredibly overweight man who walked straight into me.

‘Hey! Watch where you’re going,’ I said somewhat feebly.

Saddened by some poor life choices (It was 7am and he appeared to be eating a kebab) his response was somewhat colourful (lots of confectionary terms – ‘Fudge’,  ‘Muddy-funster’ and the like).

I wasn’t about to get into an altercation with a man who looked like he could snap me like a twig so I let the matter rest, but now we were walking in the same direction and at roughly the same pace – #awks (what have I become?)

For the remainder of this account imagine bullet-time as can be found in the film The Matrix. I shall revert to the present tense…

I spot a giant puddle stretching all the way along our side of the road. It is long and deep. The road is empty. I turn and see that the traffic is being held at a red light. The light changes to green. The traffic is 200 yards away, enough distance to get up to a respectable 35-40 miles an hour by the time it reached us. There is no way I can get past the puddle before they arrive and nowhere to seek cover…

Except there is…

Timing is everything…

At the last minute my pace quickens. The large man flinches. He turns to face me, clearly thinking my intentions to be hostile. I am not looking at his face. I am looking at his shoulders, making sure that we line up. I crouch slightly and brace for impact.

He realised that all is not well to his rear. He begins to turn back. He is a clown rotating to receive his pie more fully in the face. His timing is impeccable.

I don’t see the monstrous arc of water that annihilates him, but I hear it!

The traffic passes. I look down – not a drop of water on me.

‘Bonus!’ I definitely say out loud.

More confectionary terms come thick and fast. I give him the ‘I’m-only-this-dry-cos-you’re-that-fat look’ (A highly nuanced expression I’ll grant you). When this prompts abuse I shift gears and favour the ‘I-did-this-to-you-and-yet-I-did-nothing-at-all’ smile (Goddamn I’m good).

I get on the train – A man taps me on the shoulder as he passes and mutters ‘Very much enjoyed operation human shield – keep up the good work.’

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My Tuba Shame…

In 1989 I rocked a stone-cold mullet and whenever I walked into a room heavily coiffured heads would turn. I was thirteen years old and the world was my oyster / toilet. I had no mobile phone (they existed, but were the size of microwaves, cost a gajillion pounds and were only used by YUPPIES (Young Urban Professional (Take that you acronym obsessed Millennials – LOL))). In the evenings I generally pootled around on my Grifter bike, taped music off the radio, or wrote actual letters to my actual girlfriend with an actual pen (steamy smut about how I wanted to ‘hold her hand’ and other such filth). At weekends I’d rifle through LPs in a second-hand record shop, sit waiting for blocky games to load on my Spectrum 48k or hang around with an annoying kid whose dad owned a sizeable cache of video nasties and porn – the hiding places of which weren’t fooling anyone. I made things, played the clarinet, knew the location of dens…

Then one day it all changed, or rather – it didn’t.

In the 80’s it was compulsory for all Catholic schools to have comedy names. Ours was called Blessed William Howard (or ‘Blessed Bills’ to the initiated). One Autumnal morning me, my mullet and my fellow hilariously dressed classmates were shepherded into the ALF  or ‘Active Learning Facility’ (Couple of tables with some state-of-the-art ‘personal computers’) to be introduced to something called ‘The Information Super-Highway.’

Our teacher – “Mr quotey-fingers” proceeded thus:  ‘The “Information Super-Highway” or “World-Wide’Web” will “revolutionise” the way in which we view and share “bits and bytes” of “data.” Instead of seeing this computer as a single machine, try imagining it as a “node” on a “network.”‘

He turned on the screen and (once it had warmed up) a pre-Google / Lycos / Ask Jeeves white DOS-prompt flashed before our eyes.

We were asked to type in a phrase or “keyword” and see what came up.

I went first – ‘Boobs’ – nothing! (Can you even IMAGINE? (the horror)). A couple of guys followed suit – ‘Willies’ (nothing), ‘Kylie Minogue’ (nothing), ‘fart-face’ (nothing). Something said ‘try just fart‘ (nothing) etc. The kid next to me had tried ‘nipples’ and ‘poo’ all to no avail.

‘Try typing The Gross Domestic Product of China,’ the teacher encouraged.

We duly obliged and were rewarded with a string of text (no pictures) and links to incredibly stodgy academic papers.

‘I hope this demonstration shows you how the world as we know it has irevocably changed forever,’ he concluded.

‘What was that bullshit?’ someone shouted as we filed out (earning themselves a detention and 400 Hail Mary’s (Protestant kids these days don’t know they’re born!))

One thing was for certain – It would never catch on.

Anyway, I told this story to a grad last week and it was like I was talking about my hardships during The Great War.

My tuba shame‘Computers used to operate with less memory than is found in today’s lowest resolution photo,’ I proudly divulged like a luddite neanderthal banging on about the glory days before wheels and fire. ‘And data used to be stores on flimsy five-and-a-half-inch floppy discs.’

‘How did they fit in the USB socket?’ I was (genuinely) asked.

‘We used to roll them up and wedge them in,’ I replied.

Later that evening, tormented by the ridiculous notion that I might be old, I perused through a few photo albums and found that a good twenty-percent of my childhood pictures were in black and white…and that I was wearing flares in all of them!

Twenty years from now someone will be explaining cloud-computing and reality TV to a young person born in 2016 and they will be laughing their arse off at how quaint it all was back in the day…

…but enough reminiscing for now – granddad needs his nap…


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