Okay guys, so I need your advice…

The article below has been written for, and chosen for inclusion in, the journal “Notes from the West Country”. But, there have been mutterings from some that it is “inappropriate”, or that it could even be read as offensive, so I’d love your views. Please, tell me what you think? It’s called,

It Hadn’t Been The Best Of Times:

“It hadn’t been the best of times to be fair. In fact, if the truth was to be know, it had been positively the worst of bloody times now that I come to think of it; no wonder I wanted to kill myself.
It all started when my girlfriend left me in something that was rapidly approaching a “huff”, and for no reason whatsoever as far as I could see… or mainly because I had admitted at last, under great duress, that, “yes, your bloody bum does look big in that, now get out of the way of the telly!” Add to all of that the small measure of the dog being on fire, yet again, Q.P.R. having lost to Vauxhall Motors F.C., for the love of all things holy, and Leonard Cohen seemingly on Radio 2 repeatedly, stuck on some never-ending loop with Jeremy-sodding-Vine, and you can see my predicament. And, if that wasn’t bad enough, Westlife were still intent on making a comeback despite my very best of polite death threats scrawled menacingly in crayon! No, it was definitely time to end it all, once and for all and at exactly two forty-five-ish: after all, who the hell would miss me, apart from the dear old lady at The Samaritans who sounded somewhat put out that despite our growing relationship and burgeoning trust garnered over a somewhat tearful three hour telephone conversation, I was still somewhat intent on topping myself? I told her not to cry but she would insist.
“Go ahead then you selfish bastard!” she yelled at me. “See if I sodding care!” A rather novel approach I’m sure you’ll all agree. “Before you go though, can I interest you in a raffle ticket? Money up front obviously, given your current circumstances and intentions.” Apparently the first prize was Westlife’s greatest hits! Second prize was two CDs of Westlife’s bloody greatest hits!
Anyway, basically because I’ve got a word limit, and I’m trying to become disciplined, here are my Top Five Tips – or is it seven? – on how to kill yourself. Be warned though, and I better put this in block capitals to illustrate the seriousness of the situation, PLEASE DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME. If it goes wrong you can really hurt yourself.

1. Hanging Yourself
Always a favourite, especially with those just starting out, the newbies trying suicide for the very first time. Please insure though, that firstly the rope is nice and strong and, preferably, not from Great Mills. The last thing you need, believe me, is for it to snap mid-swing, just as you’re getting into your rhythm, or during that first initial step from either the ladder or off the chair – or, if you’re feeling ambitious, both, it’s completely your choice, don’t let anybody force you into doing something you’re not comfortable with. It is important that the rope’s thread does not, I repeat, does not, rapidly untangle itself, or that the chord just gives way and snaps without warning. It’s a bloody minefield. I know of someone who lost four teeth, dislocated his shoulder and broke his jaw as he was catapulted clear across the room, out of the conservatory doors and into his neighbour’s vegetable patch, just as she was planting those iceberg lettuces she loved so much.
“I don’t know who was more embarrassed,” he told me later.

2. Pills
I suggest learning from my mistake and trying something perhaps a little harder than Junior Aspirin. In my defence, it was all I could find at such short notice – for Jeremy Vine had just informed the nation that Westlife would be on, come what may, after the lunchtime news. On the plus side, they tasted quite nice and got rid of my headache, which was nice, although that started up again after just two bars of “Flying Without Wings”, which, incidentally, gave me a new idea and leads us nicely to tip number 3.

3. Jumping From A Bridge
It does not have to be a bridge. A tall building, for instance, should suffice just as well. Something higher than the frigging ladder you tried on suggestion 1 though.
This wasn’t to be my ideal choice on reflection as I have an abject fear of heights. Just thinking about it is enough to give me a nosebleed.

4. Shooting Yourself
Please be careful, as if you miss it really hurts. On the plus side, I now have a really useful skylight and a lovely parting.

5. Gassing Yourself
Please do not make the same basic mistake I made on my first attempt. In my defence I didn’t realise we were electric, I was there for sodding hours. Didn’t I look stupid when my mother returned home! It was nice and warm though, and I had loads of time to scrub the grill.

6. Throwing Yourself in Front of a Car
Another crowd pleaser but to get this right, for the correct satisfactory results, it is best to know a little bit about makes of car to begin with. Do not do the same as me and casually lob yourself in front of a Reliant Robin shouting “Jeronimo!”* I couldn’t walk properly for a week and the high-pitched voice wears a bit thin after a while.
* For clarity, I was shouting “Jeronimo!”, not the Reliant Robin.

7. Poison
For Period Melodrama Fans or Cleopatra Enthusiasts only, and definitely not, under any circumstances, to be attempted by the sane.
This is for the experts or show-offs amongst us, those who have successfully attempted suicide before and have now got the hang of it completely.
Several problems you may face attempting death by poisoning include the fact that it is now extremely difficult to acquire an asp at short notice, and that when they do finally arrive through the post they ain’t half in a bloody bad mood, hissing and spitting all over the place. It nearly took my eye out.

Anyway, those are my seven top tips about killing yourself. But may I just say, before my word deadline of 1,030 cuts in, that I… Oh, bugger!”


It’s that time of year…

When children, gawd bless them, are finally back at school and out of your hair… And let’s face it, because that’s what separates us from the beasts in the jungle, it could not come quick enough; six weeks you’ve had to put up with them, six whole bloody weeks! But, as you brush their hair, straighten their blazers or chase cat hairs from their hand-me-down polo shirts before attempting to drag them up the school’s driveway and push them into the school’s battle-scarred foyer, here are the thoughts and recollections of Horace Wimp.

We do hope that you enjoy:

“My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen.” A fanfare of ceremonial trumpets and the moving roll of accompanying drums… People, excited, scrambling hurriedly to their feet, clapping and cheering, homemade banners waving. The more creative ones amongst this horde, doing that whistling thing with their fingers: a few jolly, excitable and loud, “Hurrahs!”
“May I introduce…” Not a question, but a bold, brash statement of intent, the lavish Director of Ceremonies, resplendent in sparkling jacket and ludicrously ill-fitting wig, standing to one side, bowing ever so slightly as I make my gracious entrance, saluting the ever-growing cheers…
That was the type of introduction I was expecting. Instead, I was left to merely amble up that long drive. To push and squeeze my way through stiff double doors and along a drab corridor, the blue paint beginning to bubble and flake from walls bedecked with black and white photographs. Alone to follow the handwritten signs and the multicoloured arrows that led towards the noise of raised voices, and finally through creaking doors that swung back viciously, into a bright, white hall, dazzling just for that moment. Now, as I tried to catch my breath, heart pounding, I stood there, in the doorway… a doorway to a new and exciting future, so I’d been led to believe.
“The first day of the rest of your life,” they had said, smiling as they had tightened my tie and straightened my collar. “You have to look your best… First impressions count.” But I was crap at impressions. Anyway, they were obviously lying. Bastards!
I stood there alone, silently having convulsions, fighting the urge to stuff my head down the nearest available toilet. Alone, watching the melee around me, the mad scramble.
“Oh God. Oh God, oh God, oh God.”
“Don’t look to me. I can’t help you now, four eyes.”
A great hall, brightly lit. Loud footsteps echoing from the wooden floor: a wooden acoustic floor that shook violently under the weight of countless feet. Someone, I assumed a teacher judging by the awful combination of tweed and staid, tried to open the high windows with a long pole, twisting and pulling at small latches, cursing their stubbornness, children close-by stunned by these words.
Standing there silently, nervously, looking for any hint of a friendly face. I had this unmistakeable feeling that I looked a complete and utter twat, albeit a complete and utter twat in a smartly pressed blazer.
Shit! I’d almost forgotten about the bloody blazer, neatly pressed and sparkling under the strip lighting. First impressions?
Boys rushed about, pushing and pulling, pockets bulging with hidden sweets, even after all these years the main currency in any playground, for purchasing and bribing new best friends and fending off any unwanted advances from the prowling, would-be bullies intent on dishing out dead arms and perfectly symmetrical Chinese burns to the poor and unsuspecting. I was hyperventilating. And girls, that foreign and scary subspecies from another planet, far, far away, standing about and giggling from behind already perfectly manicured hands. Jesus, they were only eleven going on eighteen. They looked smart though, and ever-so-eager-to-please on this, the very first day. Flashing long eyelashes at every male teacher that dared to wander innocently through those double doors, most beating a hasty retreat back to the safety of a smoky staffroom while they were still attached to their fading corduroys, careers still vaguely intact. The girls’ blazers were immaculate, crisply starched, their red and black striped ties with their precise knots pulled tight, their hair freshly washed and brushed and shaped, tied in symmetrical pony-tails or held back by luminous head bands discreetly bearing the misspelt name of a fashion guru’s long lost, lesser known, slightly alcoholic brother. I was absolutely petrified. There were, seemingly, hundreds of them, all with identical pleated grey skirts and shiny braces fixed with huge dollops of cement to freshly whitened teeth. I was having an asthma attack… Well, either that or a stroke.
Back to those boys, still rushing about, trying to trip each other up and pulling at already loose buttons on once white shirts, now ruined. They reeked of puberty. Ties at half-mast, the bigger the knot the better from what I could see, from my vantage point in that busy doorway, children barging by as they strode to the middle of the floor in groups, following friends and shouting loudly at particular girls.
Boys were beaten about the head with sports bags bearing the name Manchester United or Liverpool FC in big letters. Girls poked out aniseed-stained tongues or flashed ever-so-polite V-signs at those whose attention they desperately wanted to attract, afterwards turning shyly towards their friends and blushing brightly.
“Well? Is he looking then, or what? Is he bloody looking?”
Shrieking, jumping up and down, the sound of their excited but dainty size twelve feet reverberating like thunder. Oh the joys of a State education. And this was a state.
I had died and gone to hell. Me? The bright kid from a small village primary school. The funny looking four-eyed kid currently having a heart attack while hiding behind that strange machine in the girl’s changing room – the machine that nobody mentioned in polite company without blushing.
“It’s… You know? A girl thing.” Boys would then make strange signs and giggle inanely to mask complete ignorance.

Taken from the upcoming novel, eventually, “Reluctant Country Boy“.

Bugger, Part 2!!!!!

Further to my last side splitting post or blog, call it what you will, a friend nonchalantly informed me at the weekend that I should consider myself somewhat fortunate: “Just count yourself lucky and be grateful for small mercies,” he informed me, with something of the wry smile of acceptance. “I’m getting bombarded by junk emails about erection problems.”

Well, maybe I am too but my memory’s now so shot I don’t recall them?


And double buggers!!!!!

I received an unsolicited piece of useless junk email the other day, advising me on how I can help to improve the terrible memory it insisted, over and over again, I now had. I ignored it at the time of course, but now that I want to read it can I remember where I put it?

Can I fu…!

Always learning…

I like to learn one new thing a week, it keeps me on my toes – although I do worry that the new thing has merely pushed out something else I learned a little while ago that might have been really important somewhere down the line? But I transgress.

What I learned the other week I thought I would share with you all today in the hope that it may come in useful, especially to you Mr Grimshaw from Charlton Hawthorne in Dorset. That thing is, drum roll please…

Don’t inadvertently slam your hand in a car door!

It really, really hurts.

Furthermore, as something of a surprise added bonus, I also learned that it is incredibly difficult to release said hand, especially if you happen to be holding your weekly shopping with the other hand. The effect, especially of having a finger trapped between the heavy door’s clunking locking system, is that your hand turns into a bruised and bloated claw for a few days, great at scaring nieces, while your nail slowly turns black before eventually falling away, great for scaring your sister-in-law.

Who knew that the web would become so educational?

Read me. For the love of God, please read me!

Oh hell!
I haven’t had a viewing for a few days now, three to be exact. Or, now that I come to think about it, it could be four. Four, for God’s sake! I’m flatlining. I’m yesterday’s news, the mere wrappings for someone’s fish and chips. I am old hat! Where’s that brown paper bag? I think I’m having a panic attack. I’m not taking this too seriously or anything like that, and God forbid that I am blowing this out of all proportion but, but it’s like I can’t breathe all of a sudden. And there are so many things now rushing through my brain; the instant realisation that I have suddenly gone from being massive down under, and ever-so-occasionally in Somalia, to now being completely and utterly alone all the way out here!
Bloody hell, it’s cold. Why is it so cold all the way out here? Is the window open?
“Hello? Is there anyone out there? Hello?” Bloody hell it’s dark.
Why is no one reading me anymore? Why does no one like me anymore? Oh, my, God! It’s just like that after-school club thing I attended just that once, before they inexplicably closed down and moved to another continent. It’s “Chess Club” all over again. What am I going to do?!
I have got to come up with another post and bloody quickly. But what? They don’t just grow on trees, do they? Do they? Where the hell can I find an “Ideas Tree”? Is it in the same garden as the fabled “Money Tree” politicians speak of all the time, whenever a microphone is thrust before their weasel-like faces come election time?
All this pressure. I can’t handle all this pressure. I’ve never been good under pressure. Please, someone, anyone, read me!
Read me!
I’ve got a nosebleed now… And I’m having palpitations.
And they said that social media was fun. Oh yeah, this is a great laugh.

The trials & tribulations of supporting…

… what is, quite possibly if not most definitely, the most annoying, aggravating, nonsensical football team in the whole wide world. No, let me rephrase that: quite possibly within our known galaxy if not the entire bloody universe, that’s if they play football these days somewhere on Beetlegeuse?
It’s that feeling I get, rumbling from somewhere deep inside my nervous, overworked bowels whenever they dare to appear on telly in various weekend highlight shows, and they haven’t even kicked off yet but I’m already throwing insults and thick puffy cushions at the TV screen at just the mere thought of them being useless and incompetent in their eye dazzling blue and white hoops. I’m already screaming and shouting rather nasty swear words in the general direction of our brand new number 10, who we paid a whole 15 shillings for after he was discovered face down in some nightclub’s urinal, but who has two, quite possibly three left feet and an obvious aversion to any physical exertion.
Welcome then to my obsession with Queens Park Rangers. What’s it all about?
Now don’t get me wrong, but there was a time when we were actually quite good… But, unfortunately, I blinked and missed it. In the eighties we had the likes of Stainrod and Allen, Currie and Gregory, Roeder, Fenwick and the blonde bombshell that was Stevie Wicks who had an entire family named after him in a once popular television soap.
In the sixties, before my father got his finger out and got round to conceiving even the mere idea of me, the poor sod, we even won a cup… A cup that meant something in those days… And at Wembley no less, between the old twin towers, at the time when football was a man’s game – the striker smoking Capstans between the time spent goal hanging and nutting an unsuspecting centre-half, and when the pitches were little more than muddy fields being occasionally ploughed by a team of ferocious shire horses. But, for a short while, for one entire season, Q.P.R. were really good, and I mean really, really good; the archetypal “Best Team To Never Win Anything”. We were really effing good!
For ten whole minutes, when football was unpopular and jumpers really were an alternative for goalposts, my little team from somewhere in west London, W12 to be precise, were the team to watch come Saturdays at 3 o-clock – see, I told you it was a long, long time ago: youngsters up and down the land now looking to their dads and gasping in incredulity, “3 o-clock?” Did football teams really play at 3 o-clock? What, on a Saturday?
We played with something they once called panache and exuded flair, while having guile and bags full of skill: actual bloody skill, not that fake ‘skill’ you fall for on You Tube. We dazzled equally in blue and white hoops or red and white halves, and with a ball of purest white but weighing more than a breeze block at their feet. We had the moustachioed Phil Parkes “between the sticks”, whatever the hell that meant but he was in goal. We had Dave Clement, David Webb and Frank Mclintock in defence with Ian Gillard somewhere out on the left. We had Masson and Hollins as the lynchpins in midfield with Gerry Francis, beneath his early efforts at an already burgeoning mullet, and Davie Thomas with his socks rolled down, buzzing around them and tearing up the wings, supplying the ammunition to Ireland’s Don Given’s up front. It gives me goosebumps, even now. But, there was someone else, normally up front when not at a bookies, down the pub or frequenting some local dog track, and it was his name that rang out the loudest, above any other for ninety minutes, plus injury time.
“Stan-ley! Stan-ley!”.
His name was Stanley Bowles, and he wore the fabled number 10 proudly in red upon his back, or black if we were adorned in those halves. He was cocky and arrogant but he played with a smile of carefree abandonment, of one completely at ease with his God-given talent… And he was, without a shadow of a doubt, if for just that one brief season, 1975-76, the best player I ever had the pleasure of watching; of whom it was once said, “If only he could pass a betting shop the way he can pass a football”. He was simply majestical, fluidity in complete hypnotic motion, and his almost telepathic relationship with Gerry Francis, our Captain, England’s Captain, was most definitely and wonderfully magical. He was a flawed genius, and aren’t they all, but Stan Bowles was our flawed genius. And, and here’s the thing that will shock and confuse, for this was the day before large squads, squad rotations and of highly paid players needing a hard-earned rest from playing football twice a week, this team, this wonderful, brilliant team, never seemed to change. 1, right through to number 11, it was almost always exactly the same, given the odd injury or suspension. The game was played, week in and week out, over and across muddy pitches the mere sight of which today would put the fear of some god into a Rooney or have the precious “legend” that is Danny Sturridge reaching for another note from his already overworked doctor; to be gratefully signed off for another 9 months, but still fit enough to collect those multi-millions in wages.
For one brief and beautiful moment in time we were going to win the league. We were actually going to win the bloody league!? And everyone, Scousers and Brentford FC fans aside, willed us on to win the bloody league, they loved to watch us. We had one hand firmly on the First Division trophy. We were on our way, dreaming of European glory… Before Wolverhampton bloody Wanderers capitulated that fateful night and a Keegan-inspired Liverpool, with the aid of their obligatory penalty, wrenched it from us with brutal if somewhat boring efficiency. And the dream, for however brief, lay dead, scattered to the four winds that raged their disgust down South Africa Road before turning left into the Springbok pub. But it had been fun, to my young eyes at least. Young eyes that watched The Big Match, or Match of the Day, with eager wonder, whilst sitting cradled somewhere between two grandads and a proud father frantically waving blue and white woollen scarves, and the odd wooden rattle, proudly above their heads, gleefully knocking back pints of Watney’s Party Seven and singing rude songs berating “bloody Chelsea!”
Oh, we’ve been fleeting in our wonder since and flattered to deceive on rare occasions; the days of Terry Venables in the eighties; under Gerry Francis as manager in the nineties, London’s top club no less; the fight and grit and togetherness that we felt under Ian Holloway, especially at Hillsborough that most glorious of Saturday’s, and they were exciting, don’t get me wrong. But that team, for just those precious 9 months? When we dared to dream that we could actually reach out and touch those bloody stars.
Stanley is now suffering from the cruel ravages of Dementia and Rangers are quite rightly holding a benefit match against Bournemouth on the 29th of this month, (or July if you’re reading the repeats on Dave), for arguably the greatest player to ever wear those beautiful Hoops – my dad swears blind it was Rodney Marsh, but… If you aren’t able to attend the match then can I ask you to just root around in your pockets for any loose change and the next time you are passing a tin that is seeking donations for the Alzheimer’s Society, then can I ask you to just drop it in, whatever you can afford? All contributions, I am sure, will be gratefully welcomed.
Annoying? Yes.
Aggravating? Oh like you would not believe. And nonsensical, without a bloody doubt! But still…
Come on you Rs! Come on you Super Hoops. And thank you to Stan Bowles for enabling us to believe then, and remember and relive now.