Monday, 29 April 2013

Uncomfortable Loves

I have many loves. Some of them are mainstream, some of them are obscure for my generation and kept quiet unless I met a similar fan. For example, I am a big fan of David Bowie. I appreciate that not many from my generation love David Bowie, and therefore don't have many people to talk about him. It's a joy to talk about him when I do though, because it is still a relatively mainstream interest.

Unfortunately, these are not my predominant loves. Uncomfortable Loves are are the ones that I share with none of my generation.

This will not be a hipster tract. Though I do have elements of my personality that could be labelled 'Hipster,' such as my penchant for wearing hats, I do enjoy when my loves get a mainstream focus.

But there are ones that I have to admit I will never be able to share.

One of my favourite dramas I have ever watched is the adaption of John Wyndham's The Day of Triffids from the 1980s. Though I was not around for its original broadcast, and in fact not there for another ten years, I picked up the DVD around seven years ago, watched and loved the show. I believe the DVD has since been deleted, but I still enjoy digging it it out now and again and watch it, especially for its first episode.

No one I know has seen this.

Not that there would be to be honest, nor do I expect there to be. Though if anyone I know would like to watch it, I am more than willing to share the DVD. It falls apart at episode six, but the rest is a fantastic drama. But as a child of The Simpsons, much of my joke comes from making pop culture references and if I were to reference that...

Nothing.

Similarly, if I make reference to any number of other shows that I love that remained relatively underground, obscure, or just plain old, my references to those are limited because no one knows what the hell I'm talking about. The saddest of these is Doctor Who.

Doctor Who is my favourite show ever made. In 2003, when its return was announced, I was overjoyed, and since 2005, each episode that wasn't written by Chris Chibnall has been a delight. I have even written essay about it, in books (here and one with ATB Publishing next year). For forty-five minutes ever Saturday, the Doctor comes along and makes me a frothing-at-the-mouth child once again. But I'm not talking about that.

In case you haven't noticed, which would be understandable, Doctor Who is currently enjoying its 50th Anniversary this year. With my Dad having been a fan for years, my education in the series began in 1993 with the repeat of Planet of the Daleks and has continued ever since. I know my Axon from my Zarbi, where Telos is in relation to Mondas, and am rather zen about the whole UNIT dating thing though not so much about the Cybermen.

But no one I know shares this. Sure, I love the Ood, the various TARDIS console rooms, and believe Matt Smith is the best since Patrick Troughton. At no point can I sit down and have a jolly chinwag about David Agnew's City of Death though. It is my Uncomfortable Love.

Still, I should be grateful I suppose. Though Triffids will always be obscure, I can still be happy there is a Doctor Who that I can share with people today, fostering new fans and enjoying stories. Because in the end, that's what makes a love of things so much fun: the ability to share and discuss, disseminate and laugh and cry and geek out, because I can share my love of something with my friends.

And slowly, and surely, I can make them watch the Robots of Death.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Geekiness is the better part of valour


I will never be a Lothario or Casanova. The best I can hope for is 70s open-shirt-and-porn-moustache Stan Lee, and I can’t do the facial hair either.

Pure Geek Sex.

I mention this as my geekiness will constantly get in the way of any kind of actual progress with a girl. I love Doctor Who. I read comic books. I know a couple magic tricks. None of these things resemble a guitar. I am not upset over this, as I do enjoy these things without shame, but these have been known to launch me into rather stupid situations where my geek side has overruled rational thinking.

One such example was at work. I work in a shop, which means I have to talk to customers and build up quick rapport over nothing. Almost invariably, the subject is the weather but occasionally other clues present themselves for conversation to make things interesting.

A girl had come into the shop with her mother. She was a geek girl and looked around my age, so obviously my type. But at work, I have to maintain professional standards and to be honest, any lascivious thought hadn’t really entered my mind except friendly conversation. I'm genuinely quite innocent when it comes to these type of things. Quite a lot of time at work, human interaction simply reminds me I'm not brain dead.

'Hello.' I looked down. 'That is very cool,' I said, and nodded towards her chest.

She went very red and studiously avoided me until her mother made her purchases. I couldn't understand. She was wearing a t-shirt with a Jack Kirby illustration of The Thing, one of the members of the Fantastic Four from one of the best and most important comics in history. What else could I possibly be referring to?

Oh, wait.

See? Idiot.

A more recent example.

Today, I was texting a girl that wasn't my best friend, an otherwise rare occurrence. I had sent an e-mail to said girl earlier that day, a big David Bowie fan, with regards to an adaption of one of his songs, Space Oddity, into a children's book. It can be found online, and it's genuinely very good. What follows is the genuine text exchange:
Me: Oh yeah, and I emailed you a thing. A fine thing. Look at the thing.
Girl: Hahah. I've seen this! Its an incredible thing! Lol. xxx
Me: Cool. Just remembered its existence and thought I could share the PDF joy.
Girl: Hahah. Thank you, its not often i get Pdf joy :p xx
Me: I don't think anyone has to be honest. It's not a file type that lends itself well to joy unlike the noble jpeg or mp3
Girl: That is true. I also have a certain fondness for the gif. X
Me: That is an excellent one. This is a weird conversation topic.
This actually happened, and I'd like to point to the decreasing number of 'x's as the conversation progressed about file types progressed.

Saying that, my magic tricks are pretty cool.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

The Rush

In a previous blog, I mentioned that men, by which I include myself if only just, exaggerate two things. One of these is the effects of the Common Cold. Though I joked at the time, I was not to know that only a few days after I wrote those words that would I be struck down by that same ailment.

In all, I've had a fairly rubbish weekend. Saturday was spent food shopping in a mild mist of rain, which I am now sure hastened the approach of the sickness by gifting upon me damp trousers. By the time evening rolled around my head was beginning to feel stuffy, like a mass of cotton wool. Still, I soldiered through. My mother has instilled within me an ethic that I should work through any illness regardless, no doubt prolonging said illnesses but ensuring that I at least still get some work done.

So it was that I went to work today. I woke up at the hour of seven in the morning, an hour ungodly for Sundays, and spent many hours on my feet at the shop until I was able to finally return home from work and flop onto my bed for five in the afternoon, exhausted.

'Wine,' I thought. 'Wine make things good.'

I had half a bottle of wine in my bedroom left over from a few days before. I still have some now, sitting beside my bed. It is a very good wine.

While I sipped at my fermented grape juice and listened to Sophie Madeleine songs (remember, I only barely qualify as a 'man'), I felt the need for some chocolate accompaniment.

'I will go get some chocolate,' I thought, and stood up to enact this fiendish plan of mine.

As I did so, the combination of mild alcohol intake, sudden movement and head cold brought about a head rush that made the room sway uncomfortably. I gripped the sides of my head, adopting a power stance to steady myself but that just made things worse.  I groped, stumbled and hopped until I reached my bedroom door, my head still swimming in cotton wool and nonsense.

'No. No this cannot be. I must have my chocolate!'

My bedroom door is three foot away from my bed.

In the end, I gave up and sat back down to calm myself. I have not moved for forty minutes. I did not get chocolate, and now I fear I never will.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Judgement at the Cinema

I often attend films by myself, under the logic that as I am paying to sit in the dark, in silence, there is not much point to having someone come with me. It is one of most antisocial 'social' activities one can do.

I have long since accepted that I will die sad and alone, surrounded by boxsets.

Yesterday, I set off to the cinema to go see the new film Spring Breakers, a film that in the end I found deeply disappointing. But this is not a review - this is a story of what happened when I went to the cinema.

The weather was bad, so I put on my hat, long coat and carried my umbrella for the short walk to the cinema and joined the queue. Eventually, it was time to purchase my ticket.

'One Unlimited for Spring Breakers please,' I spluttered. I tend not to do well when talking to people.

This bearded man working behind the counter - I am unaware of there being a proper job title - raised his eyebrows at me.

'Just the one?' he said, giving me a look that suggested I had ulterior motives.

I was aware of some of the film's subject matter, but I was not properly aware of quite how risqué it was. Think The Inbetweeners film, only without the comedy and instead boobs, violence, drugs and a poorly thought out plot, to the point where it earned itself an 18 certificate. All I knew was that it had a review positive enough to intrigue me and give it a go.

'Uh, yes. Just one,' I said.

'Right. Okay, fair enough,' he said. He printed my ticket and with that the transaction was over.

As I walked to the screen and chose the seat best situated for optimum comfort, picture and sound, I thought over the exchange that had just occurred. It was very odd, I thought, for him to query that I only wanted one ticket. Surely other patrons have bought a solitary ticket before?

As the film commenced and the screen filled with boobs and dub step, it occurred to me that the image of a young man in a long dark coat, by himself, in a darkened screen has uncomfortable connotations.

I felt sullied, and the film sucked. It was an unfortunate series of events all told.

Fear of the Pomeranian

People who know me know that I have a fear of dogs. I hesitate to call it a phobia, because as a male there are only two things I tend to exaggerate, whilst everything else I try not to make too much of a deal and continue with my life.

Regardless, I have a fear of dogs. Once on a train to Brighton with my ex-girlfriend, I sat in a state of catatonic fear as a small Beast of Fury, which I believe was a dachshund, mingled with my legs underneath the small table. I cut off the circulation to her thumb, so frozen was I in fear that it may bark or something similarly outrageous.

However, I firmly believe in cutting your enemies down to size in an effort to conquer your fear, and though I generally turn into a ball of silence in the presence of a dog, I try score what victories I can.

So it was that when I was walking with my good friend Gavin to the market after a couple hours swimming that I saw my ideal target: a dog, small and fluffy like a hairball that had passed through a balloon factory, no bigger than my foot. It had a face like miserable pie.

This was The Enemy.

It's tiny pink tongue was one of mocking. It's big brown eyes were marbles of hate. It's fur, though soft, an instrument of torture. It walked like a penguin wearing tight trousers.

Faithful Reader, I found this to be hilarious.

To my friend, I pointed at the dog and giggled a high-pitch girly giggle and cried 'look at the fuckin' dog!' And laughed again. Because that's how I roll. So ridiculous was this dog that I could not help but laugh and jeer at it.

Look at its stupid, hate-filled face.

So caught up were we laughing at this dog that what happened next took me completely by surprise. The dog looked back to see us laughing at it and I saw in its face such a look of sorrow: it knew it was being mocked. It could not help the way that it grew. It was a stupid dog, what did it know? But it was a simple creature, one based on love and loyalty. It had probably been mocked all its life, by Greyhounds and St. Bernards and probably even the noble Westie for it's ridiculous appearance, and now it was receiving those same, hurtful jeers from a human. I felt bad in that moment, and saw piece of myself in that small, hairy animal. We were two kindred spirits, striding forth as best we could through the world, despite the opposition we would face.

I didn't apologise though. It was only a dog.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Phone a Friend

I have just this moment received a phone call from a friend. 

As I am of a generation where we no longer actually use the phone for communication, my first instinct was to panic for it could only be the most terribly of news. I choked on the dinner that I had cooked, a delightful assortment of cold ham, roast squash and steamed broccoli, jammed the phone to my ear as though it were an antidote to a horrific poison, pressed the little green button and answered the call.

'What is it, what's happened?' I spluttered, eyes bulging from their sockets as a multitude of horrors passed through my mind.

'Nothing, I'm just walking down the street and it's getting a bit dark.'

Though I should be relieved that I was simply a 'companion call', I thereafter spent the next two minutes in my unprepared state talking utter bilge that I shudder to remember, until thankfully she took the onus of the conversation out of my hands and steered it towards some sense of normality.

It is for similar reasons that I do not ballroom dance.

How to finally start that First conversation with the Love of your Life



Congratulations! You’ve finally found the person who is your perfect match in every way: you like the same things, share common interests, hang out in the same areas and have a strong sexual compatible probably! But now for the last difficult step: making her aware of your existence. Assuming you suffer from crippling shyness (and how could you not be, you’re reading this guide on the Internet!), I have devised the perfect, five-step system to create that all-important first connection.

My Grandad

(This was written last year, but I thought it best preserved.)

I don’t quite know what to say, really. 

It’s a yawning chasm now – I have no granddads. I don’t have someone who’ll slip me a shifty tenner to help me get food for Uni. I don’t have someone who’ll crack a joke if he sees me picking my nose. I don’t have someone who’ll snore like a rapid-fire machine gun. I don’t have that person who, after a bloody good meal, will lean back in his chair, pat his stomach and say ‘bloody handsome’ in a most satisfied manner. I don’t have my granddad.

What I do have however are the memories: my sister and I going mental and running around the house. I remember playing Uno late into the night on holiday in Spain. I remember his ordering of beer for him and his son (I was never old enough for a beer on holiday): ‘DOS… GRANDEY… BEERS.’ I remember his laugh, which was like someone shaking a can of paperclips and a strong wind blowing an old oak cupboard. I remember his hugs where he couldn’t quite hug you as much as you wanted but would make up for it by shaking you a little bit. I remember eating pork pies and not eating the jelly bit, much to his consternation, what with that being the best bit. I secretly suspect he was a little bit annoyed when I started eating that bit as well. I remember my granddad.

And I know that somewhere, granddad is still wishing me a good night.