Meet the band

I hate name-droppers, but I’m also a terrible hypocrite.

So if I sometimes vanish from view, it’s just because I’m bending down to pick up names I’ve scattered throughout the blog. But don’t worry: all of these stories just indicate what a total fuckwit I am, and how I hold onto opportunities like a post-nailing Jesus holds onto marbles.

For years I’ve been dining out on the story that I was at school with Mick Hucknall. Well, not dining out exactly, because I doubt there’s a person alive who’s actually impressed by that, but I’ve certainly mentioned it, and people have said “Oh God, I can’t believe I used to actually like Simply Red”. Full disclosure: I own Stars. I haven’t played it for about 15 years, but I own it.

I know: I sicken you. I sicken me too.

When I decided to write this, I went to Hucknall’s wikipedia page to find out what years he was at Audenshaw School with me. And it turns out he’s 10 years older than me: I went to the same school, but not in the same decade, which means there must have been another ghastly ginger twat in my year who I assumed was Hucknall. They must breed them where I was brought up.

Not that there’s anything wrong with ginger people. But there is a lot wrong with Mick Hucknall, not least his alarming resemblance to Charlie Drake.

So that’s my first brush with fame utterly rubbished. But it was a rubbish brush to start with, so I’m not too worried. However, now it gets more and more rubbish…

When I was around 20 or 22, I worked in a bar just around the corner from a rehearsal room used by a barrage of hopeful, short-lived, talentless nonentities. You know the type: 4 students who know 5 chords between them, and think they’re going to conquer the world. I’d been in plenty of these bands, because I play the drums a bit, and am crap enough at it to be making a living designing websites instead. Even good drummers are changed more often than underpants, and I’d probably played (badly) in a couple of dozen bands, mainly in garages or school music rooms.

Into the bar one day came a couple of likely lads who were using the rehearsal space, and complaining about their drummer. We chatted across the bar, and after a while I got asked to try out with them. So I did. We severely damaged couple of Beatles and Kinks songs, it went reasonably well for a first attempt, and nobody was killed, disfigured or sued, which is a pretty good result for a novice band.

But I didn’t like them. I’d read several books, whereas all this lot seemed to have read was several invitations to attend court dates. The singer was a gibbon looking for a fight, and I knew it wasn’t going to be fun playing in a band with him. And all I wanted was some fun. You don’t become a drummer if you want fame and money: you do it if you can count to 4, don’t value your hearing, and are crap enough at getting girls to gratefully accept those rejected by the bassist.

So I never went back after than first try-out, and didn’t give it another thought until I picked up a copy of Q Magazine 18 months later, and there they were in all their monobrowed, estate-chic, coked-up, precinct-monkey glory: Oasis. The band I turned down.

Not that it matters (I keep telling myself). I hated Liam on the first day, I’d never have lasted 18 months (I keep telling myself). The idea that I might have played drums on a seminal album is a nonsense (I keep telling myself).

I keep telling myself this stuff, but I’m not persuaded. Dammit. Dammit.

I used to work with a guy called Mark, whose claim to fame was that he’d come second in the 1995 Stars In Their Eyes final, performing as R.E.M’s Michael Stipe. Due credit: it might be cheesy, but he was uncannily good.

In around 1999 R.E.M. toured the UK and Mark, myself and 2 other colleagues got tickets. The gig was on a Saturday night, and that afternoon I got an excited call from Mark: he had incredible news. He told me he’d been shopping in Manchester and bumped into Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, who he knew to be a friend of R.E.M.

Having little or no shame, Mark had marched up to that well-known chirpy-chappy Yorke, and told him about Stars In Their Eyes. I’m trying to imagine what Thom Yorke thinks about cheesy Saturday evening Karaoke. I can’t imagine he’s a fan.

Anyway: Mark explaind how he’d always wanted to meet R.E.M, that he guessed Yorke was in town to see the gig; and bold as brass he asked if Yorke could arrange for him to get backstage and meet the band.

“Yeah, sure”, came the amazing reply, “I’ll organise backstage passes, just ask at the box office.” And with that, Thom Yorke ran away to write some inpenetrable music and destroy the reputation gained by OK Computer.

(Sorry, I’m still bitter about Kid A.)

When Mark called to tell me this story I began to wonder whether he’d had a stroke, I’d had a stroke, or Thom Yorke had had a stroke. There was no way on Earth that we’d have 4 backstage passes waiting at the box office. Couldn’t be true. Mark was being patronised.

But he insisted, and when we got to the gig, Mark leaped up the stairs into the MEN Arena 4 steps at a time, and bounded up to the box office while the rest of us stood back laughing. And then he returned, and we stopped laughing as he showed us 4 passes under his name, and a little handwritten note from Thom Yorke asking the passes to be given to Mark.


So we went to the gig, and it was fine for a band on the wane in a vast, charisma-free cattle-shed, and we sang along and had a jolly good time, and became increasingly excited about the after-show party. Gig over, encores completed, religion lost and man put on moon, we made our way to the stage-door to gain access. We showed our passes to a gaggle of bouncers the size of Ayers Rock, and we ushered into a large echoing room. It was just a massive, bare-brick box with a silk rope across the centre.

One one side of the rope were the Manchester glitterati. All the usual suspects: Tony Wilson, Noel Gallagher, some Happy Mondays and a Stone Rose. A few football players and actors.

And on the other side of the rope were us four, trying hard not to look like we’d blagged our way in, and feeling incredibly uncomfortable next to a line-up of people with increasingly severe disabilities. Every one of them was in a wheelchair, and some of them had drips and huge battery packs powering lifesaving hardware. And us: four perfectly healthy computer geeks.

In came R.E.M. to a burst of applause, wiping themselves with towels, and walking down the line of people in wheelchairs, politely shaking hands and saying hello. Michael Stipe looked like he had no idea what was happening, just totally otherworldly. He shook hands with us all without really connecting or focussing. But the querulous, puzzled look of the bassist Mike Mills will stay with me forever, as will the way he subtly looked up and down our bodies trying to identify what was wrong with us. Nothing Mike: except for the Stipe-impersinator at the end, who had clearly led Thom Yorke to believe he was mentally ill.

And then they were gone, across the silk rope barrier into That Other World where we didn’t belong. And 25 wheelchairs were trundled out, leaving the four of us to meekly sneak away, hoping nobody would confront us about our deception.


Morning horn

Some things never change. My erection is one of them.

From about the age of 11, I’ve woken almost every morning with a mighty 3.5 inches* of engorged manhood pulsing between my legs.

* I reserve the right to disguise the truth: it’s not 3.5 inches. I wish!

Simple maths: that’s 30 years of morning wood, or 10,965 opportunities for a hand-shandy. And believe me folks, I’ve taken most of those opportunities! I should have bought shares in Kleenex at an early age, I’d be a wealthy man.

Even ignoring the regular turgid moments through the day, and the 9 year perm-e-rection from the age of 12 to 21, that’s well over half a mile of rock hard penis that I’ve produced in my life. Half a mile. Laugh that off, Jonah Falcon (I’ve lost at least half of you to that link).

By now my regular readers may have worked out that I’m an inveterate pervert, and will immediately assume the reason for my morning chub is that I’ve spent the night roaming the highways and byways of my fetid imagination, and rutting disgustingly with every man, woman and inanimate object that flits through my mind.

And that’s a shrewd guess.

But in many cases, the morning lob-on… hold on a moment while we admire that term, which I don’t think I’ve used since school… the morning lob-on is just caused by basic anatomy. When you need to stop yourself from piddling you employ your pelvic floor muscles, which are also used to maintain erections. If my bladder is full in the night, my body turns on the boner machine, and that’s how I wake up.

But often your first guess is correct; my turgid chode a result of vivid, Technicolor, occasionally disturbing sex dreams, and I wake up with an urge to roll over onto whoever is next to me, hold them down, and make the beast with two backs. Or, if they’re in “the other” position when I jump on, the beast with one back and two fronts.

For several years I’ve woken alone, and have had to decide whether to ignore the lower-lump, or take matters into my own hands. I won’t lie: it’s often the latter. If I find myself waking too early, that’s often enough to make me relaxed and sleepy enough to get another couple of hours sleep before I crawl to my desk, turn on my PC, and face the real wankers.

But these days I find it almost impossible to stroke out a white one, because of my cat. It’s not even my cat. It’s the neighbour’s cat, who turned up about a year ago and hasn’t fucked off since. You think I haven’t asked him to fuck off? I’ve yelled it at him almost every day, but he hates me.

I can tell he hates me, because I work from home and don’t start until 10am. My morning commute is about 12 feet, and I’m often still in my dressing gown at lunchtime. I work hard, but I treasure lazy mornings, and it’s one of the few genuine pleasures that being your own boss can bring.

But in spite of the opportunity to start slowly, at 5am every day I get several needle-sharp claws shoved into my lip, and I wake with a start to see the cat’s huge, pleading, glassy eyes about a millimetre from mine, and his feral little claw ready to strike again. And he thinks this is fun, because he’s making a purring noise like a vibrator on a tin tray. See: he hates me.

There’s then a battle of wills (which I always lose) in which I try to go back to sleep and he explains how much he likes tuna by doing a Foxtrot on my head and shoving his arse into my face. I could cope with that, but he also sheds invisibly thin cat hairs onto me, and they stick to me and irritate like I’ve somehow walked through a spider’s web in my sleep. I can feel them on me, I know where they are, but they’re glued to me and won’t go away until I wake and shower. So that’s it. Start work at 10, but get up before 6.

The cat deserves privacy, so I won’t tell you his real name. But to me, he’s always Cooking Fat.

His latest trick is to spot my morning wood, and attack it with both claws. He attacks even faster if there’s the slightest hint of regular up-and-down movements under the covers. I don’t know if he’s just jealous, having nothing but a saggy little bag where his manhood once lived, or if he has no idea that it’s part of me and thinks he’s murdering a mouse every morning. He’s quite the little murderer, and I’ve had to scrape up the tattered remains of many a pigeon from what I laughingly call my lawn.

But this habit of attempting to rip the skin off my morning tentpole has put quite a dent in my onanistic habits, and the build-up of sexual tension is such that the next (un)lucky lady to find herself in my bed is going to get plundered within an inch of her life. You’ve been warned!

7 x 7 x 7 x 7 challenge, damn you.

I’m a lover, not a fighter.

And while I’m quoting classic songs, I’d also like to say that I may be a lover, but I ain’t no dancer.

I live in Manchester, literally the greatest city in the history of the world (or at least, the greatest city called Manchester in the history of the world. Sorry Manchester, New Hampshire, you just don’t cut the mustard). If Manchester has a flaw, it’s the weather. Today it’s gloomy, rainy, and the sky looks like a grey and ancient dishcloth, or Morrissey’s soul. Or as we call it in Manchester, a normal Sunday.

So to cheer myself up I was about to watch Das Boot, a 3.5 hour long, claustrophobic 1981 German submarine movie, with subtitles, in which (spoiler alert) everyone dies at the end. Although I am – as I mentioned at the beginning – a lover and not a fighter, right now I feel a certain growly resentment towards Natalie, because I was just about to cheer up my Sunday when she callously flattered me in her blog, and then set me a challenge.

I can resist almost any challenge, being preternaturally unambitious and idle, but I can’t resist a compliment from a pretty lady; so here I am, ignoring one of the great depressing German movies (and believe me, there’s a lot of competition) and doing this:

1) 7 Blogs I enjoy reading:

  1. It would be perverse not to mention All Sweetness and Life, which makes me laugh more than it really should given that the girl who writes it, @katy_red, has made frustrating flirtation her life’s work. She is 49% carrot and 51% stick, a ratio which means I’m never going to get her, will forever wonder what she tastes like, and will always have a smacked rump. Sadly for my physical prowess, that’s where the equine metaphors end.
  2. Scarlett Wonderland is admirable and annoying, because it constantly reminds me that girls like Jen are incredibly mature and smart by the time they’re 22. When I was 22 I was, by the miracle of XY chromosomes, also 7, and remained 7 for many, many years. Even today I’m essentially a 16 year old boy, trapped in the crumbling husk of a man’s body.
  3. Girl on the net is probably known to you already, and if it isn’t you’ll be glad you followed this link. She’s a girl. And she’s on the net. But be warned, she says and does things that will make you want to touch your nether-regions, and then question your moral centre for doing so. She’s very rarely safe for work, unless you work as a porn star.
  4. At the time of writing Single and Fabulous is absent and lamented. I think she’s taken it offline to cope with a private matter, and as a private person I won’t probe any deeper. If/when it returns, I suggest you go and find it. It’s a lovely blog: funny, smart and blisteringly honest to the extent that it makes you wonder how a girl can reveal so much and still seem immune to life’s vicissitudes. She’s from Leeds. They’re gnarly round there.
  5. Sam Salandar is relatively new to the blogosphere, but she writes long, rambling and entertaining posts about her frankly startling sexual adventures and predilictions. It’s fun, even if you’re a mouse-like and vanilla little thing. Think of it as peeking over the fence into your neighbour’s hot-tub-swingers-party. You might not have an invitation, but you definitely want to know what they’re getting up to, if only to tut to your bland, beige wife about it and secretly long for such a vivid existence.
  6. It’s cheating, and I feel bad for doing it, because I’m a contributor. But my fellow contributor would kill me if I didn’t mention Honey and Cream.
  7. I’m genetically incapable of coping with more than about 4 people in my life at any time, and the same seems to be true of blogs. I shall mention 1ndierock, which I also follow, but it seems a bit circular to send you back to the blog you probably found this from. But just in case you didn’t find me via Natalie, try her. She’s good. I didn’t mean that to sound so pimpy.

2) 7 Questions set by my tagger:

  • If you could only eat one meat for the rest of your life, what would it be?

In 1810 the British Navy was fighting Napoleon’s navy all over the world, and men would be at sea for months at a time, living on the crappy salt-beef that has since been carefully rebranded as “corned beef” (a “corn” being the lump of salt used to cure the meat. Think of that next time you reach for some Fray Bentos – the name, incidentally, is taken from the Uruguayan port of Fray Bentos, from where the world’s cheapest beef is exported).

Anyway, back then the rule on Royal Navy ships was to have a “Banyon day” once a week. On Banyon day, no meat was consumed. It was known back then that eating meat every day is bad for you, so they didn’t do it – they ate bread and fruit and cabbage, and shat like a waterfall the following morning.

I try to do the same: I’m not a veggie, but I try to avoid eating too much meat, and have at least 2-3 days a week without. So I could give up meat if required. But in the meantime, I’d probably stick with lamb. It’s just utterly delicious.

Supplementary lamb fact: Oliver Cromwell and his Puritans didn’t like people to enjoy anything except prayer, so they made it illegal to eat lamb unless it was accompanied with mint-sauce to ruin the taste. And that’s why we eat lamb with mint. It was supposed to be awful, and is only really palatable by the addition of a lot of sugar. Now you know!

  • What is your favourite book?

The funniest book in the world is The Bible, but for all the wrong reasons. Don’t bother reading it: it’s all bullshit, there’s a hell of a lot of begetting but no actual sex scenes, and even the Whore of Babylon is a sad disappointment.

For the all right reasons, the next funniest book is Catch 22, which you should read immediately. Turn off your computer, go to Waterstones, buy it, and begin reading before you’re even out of the Arndale Centre. You’ll walk into a lot of people, and might get on the wrong bus home, but you’ll thank me later. It’s not like anything else.

  • What is your ideal holiday? Relaxing beach or action/adventure?

Cuba was super. I stayed in a nature reserve less than a mile from 3 of the 10 best beaches in the world, relaxed for a week, and then went to Havana for a few days – an amazing city. It’s what the world would be like without the pernicious influence of American commercialism. And I drank a lot of rum, but you kinda have to. It’s used instead of currency over there. I’d go back to Cuba any time. Brilliant people, brilliant place, music everywhere.

I liked The Maldives, very pretty, but it was dull after a few days. Tiny island, and unless you’re happy to just sit and look at the horizon in baking sun, there’s not much to do.

  • Favourite alcoholic drink?

I got a bit of a poorly in my kidney, and had to wave it goodbye. So my drinking days are over, not that I was ever much of a drinker. I like Glenfiddich and Talisker Scotch whisky, but have to avoid it most of the time. I cry a lot.

  • Favourite band or musician?

I like most music if it’s made with passion and integrity. Everything from gentle stuff like Ray LaMontagne, Belle and Sebastian and Fiona Apple, through to avant garde Bowie, Sigur Ros, Cake, Queens of the Stone Age and NIN. But it’s nearly 30 years since I first heard Pink Floyd, and I can still listen to them every week and am always moved. So it has to be them. Hey, I’m in my 40s, I’m allowed to like dad-rock!

  • Top 3 favourite songs?

It doesn’t matter. They’ll be different again tomorrow. Pick any three!

  • If you had to only sleep with one person for the rest of your life, who would it be?

She knows. You don’t need to.

3) 7 Things about myself:

  1. I worked in a bar in 1990, and next door was a rehearsal studio. One day a couple of musicians got chatting to me, and mentioned they needed a new drummer. I play drums, so offered to try out. We played a few Beatles standards, it worked out OK, but I didn’t think anything would become of them – I’d played with a hundred similar student bands, and most of them had singers who didn’t seem like a violent primate, whereas this band did. So I packed it in. A year later they were Oasis.
  2. I had cancer, but got better. I’ve got a 12 inch surgical scar across my belly. It really does change your life: it makes it better, because you value it more. Try to value your life. It’s a brilliant thing. That’s the only wisdom I can offer.
  3. I was at school with Mick Hucknall, and he was a tosser.
  4. I’ve never seen Coronation Street or Emerdale, or anything you could call a soap opera. No, I tell a lie: I once turned on BBC1 to watch whatever was on after EastEnders, and saw the last 2 minutes. A furious, wheezy man with a head like a radish was ordering a crying woman to “get dahn them stairs, you slaaaag”. As I understand it, that’s pretty much every episode.
  5. Before the beard, I looked so similar to one of the members of Barenaked Ladies that I got asked for autographs at a gig – even though the singer was on the stage at the time. Explain that.
  6. I find intelligence much more attractive than breasts. And I really like breasts, so that’s saying something.
  7. In my head, my voice is barely Mancunian at all. In reality, it appears it is.

4) 7 Questions for my victims:

  1. Have you ever committed an act of vandalism, and if so, what was it?
  2. What’s the biggest animal you could knock over with a single punch?
  3. Explain how you think they put smooth chocolate on Maltesers – there’s no flat bit where it stood while it dried, and they must put it on wet – so how do they do it? Think about it, and describe the mechanism you reckon they use.
  4. What would you do for a living if you didn’t do whatever you do now?
  5. The first man who ever milked a cow: what do you reckon he thought he was doing?
  6. Would you rather be the person who wrote a great movie, directed it, or starred in it? And why?
  7. What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?

Getting inside you and burning some rubber

Once upon a time, in a country far far away… (well, actually, it was in this country, but with a functioning economy and a government who knew their arse from a hole in the ground)… I decided to buy a new car.

Remember those days? Well, I suppose if you’re a shareholder of The International Entirety Corporation or one of the other 4 companies than owns everything in a clusterfuck of monopolistic avarice, then those days are still here. And they’ll probably be here forever, or at least until the glorious revolution, when you’ll suddenly find your old-school tie is very tight around your neck, and that the short-cut to the top of industry has become a short-drop to the bottom of a scaffold.

This blog really is about dating, I’ll get to it. God, you’re so impatient!

But once upon a time, ordinary working class boys could work hard, go to a grammar school, get a job, and earn the kind of money that meant we had to decide whether to get the Audi or the BMW. That was me.

(Somebody wiser than me once said that the true poverty of the working class was the poverty of their ambition).

So I went to the Audi dealership, and took an A6 out for a test-drive. Nice. It had an understated class that I like, and when I took it back to the showroom I said to myself that I might like to drive one of those for the next 3 years. But before I committed, I went to try the BMW as well.

The BMW was good. If you drive one, or want one, I don’t think you’re wrong. But it wasn’t what I wanted, and I’d made a decision about my next car: the Audi.

This is the thing that didn’t happen. None of the following occurred.

I walked back into the Audi showroom, and the salesman called me a Vorsprung durch Twat. He spat on the floor in front of me, and shouted for his big brothers, Dennis and Charlie, who emerged from the shadows and chased me off with sticks. He found me on Facebook and daubed abuse on my wall. He ensured that I would never drive an Audi by slagging me off publicly in front of all other Audi dealers. I must not look at an Audi, or hang around car parks where Audis parked, or draw 4 circles in a row, or say “howdy” in a Sheffield accent. All those things were verboten, because I’d committed a cardinal sin: I’d gone for a spin in another car, because I wanted to find what’s best for me.

Those things didn’t happen. What actually happened was that the salesman welcomed me back, we had a “funny” (i.e. we both laughed politely and wished we were dead) conversation about BMW drivers, and I bought the car. It was nice. Well, it was OK. It was actually like driving a Belgian politician: it did just what I expected it to, but there wasn’t much to be excited about, and I could never spot it in a crowd. I preferred it when I drove an Avantime. God, that car was amazing. Why did I ever get rid of it? Why did they ever stop making it?

I digress.

As a metaphor for dating, buying a car isn’t ideal. For a kick-off, it assumes that in dating it’s all my decision, and the girl is just a shiny object I want to get inside of and burn some rubber. OK, I grant you, it had crossed my mind…

The truth is, for a man like me dating is at least 80% the girl’s decision. Dating is a power dynamic, and my power is low. Plus, I don’t know how to talk to women. Well, I do now, but it’s a relatively recent development. I have no sisters or female cousins. In my primary school, due to a statistical anomaly (or perhaps an industrial accident at the local Robertson’s Jam factory) there were only 2 girls in a class of 32, and one of them left before I was 8. I went to an all-boys grammar school. And I work in software, where the only female presence is Lara Croft and one unfortunate systems administrator with a chromosomal disorder which brought him perilously close to being a Thai ladyboy, except, you know, from Eccles.

Until I was 25, the only woman I knew was my mother, and she’s got something of a beard and swears at the TV while watching football, so I wouldn’t be surprised to learn she’s a man too. Or at least a witch.

So I wasn’t exactly equipped to deal with “the women”. In my case it wasn’t so much the opposite sex, as the opposite of sex. I’m sure there are men who can click their fingers and women come running, but when I click my fingers I get – at best – an irritated waiter who will promptly piss in my clam chowder.

Most of the time, clicking my fingers just kills a child in Africa. I must stop doing that. Singing the theme to The Addams Family is an act of genocide.

I digress again. I keep doing that.

My point is, dating the way the British do it is a nonsense. Every time you meet somebody, it’s all-or-nothing. It’s a rare girl who will accept the man they’re drinking with on Friday will be drinking with somebody else on Saturday. And it’s not like women have the monopoly on monopolies – men are just as bad. If you even think about meeting another guy for drinks, you’re clearly a slut. No, not a slut: a bitch.

For those who don’t know the official definition: a slut sleeps with everyone, but a bitch sleeps with everyone except you.

Americans have a different tradition for dating. Over there, dating has a specific meaning which is very different from relationship. It means going for drinks, but seeing other people, and keeping your options open.

Over here dating means being utterly committed to one person who you don’t necessarily like, but who got there first. It’s basically the same as a relationship, but you haven’t changed your Facebook status.

Not that it matters to me. If I find myself dating one girl, that’s one girl more than I ever expect to be dating. But I’m not interested in dating anybody else, and even if I was I’d struggle with the guilt. If you look up “old fashioned” in the dictionary, there’s a picture of me. Not true: my dictionary doesn’t have pictures in it, what kind of idiot do you think I am?

Matthew McConaughey must die

My last blog missed a trick. I briefly touched on the subject of Matthew McConaughey, and the grisly death he deserves. But I didn’t fully explore it, and there’s such a lot of potential.

I hate him. It’s a full-fat, high-tar, unleaded hatred, and it’s an unalloyed delight to me. I bask in it. It soothes me, and warms me, and nourishes me. I could go a week without food and water, living purely on the energy generated by the revulsion I feel for him. I can think of no greater insult than this: he’s the male Kate Hudson.

So I’ve made a list of my favourite grisly (yet strangely hilarious) accidents to befall McCanaughey.

  1. Shoot him. Let’s start simple. You might think this is slightly too simple, but let me elaborate: I don’t want to shoot him in the chest, or the neck, or even the knees. No, I want to shoot him in the teeth. That would bring me the most joy, and not a jury in the world would convict me
  2. If you’ve ever pruned the roses, you’ll know how satisfying a good pair of secateurs is. Picture his nose. Picture secateurs. I’ll let you fill in the blanks.
  3. He’s the proud owner of that special sub-mullet that only a certain type of California beach-cock can get away with – or thinks they can get away with! I doubt he’s familiar with my local Arndale Centre, so imagine the surprised delight I’d get from watching his flowing locks become entwined in the workings of the escalator. Oh no, what a calamity, I can’t reach the emergency stop button. Oh no. Oh (ha ha ha) no.
  4. I’d like to lock him in one of those big laundry machines they use for king-sized duvets. Nothing too small. I don’t want it to be too cramped. After all, he’ll be trapped in there with at least 12 angry weasels.
  5. It’s a fair bet that he’s the kind of man who gets his crack and sack waxed. I’d love to turn on the news and see a report about a freak accident involving somebody (me? prove it!) exchanging the wax for an industrial strength super-polymer, and as a result poor Matty gets his scrotum tragically torn off by an underpaid Chinese beautician.
  6. Sucked slowly inside out by an industrial milking machine. The watching cows would feign ignorance, but we know better. Unguents hate him too.
  7. Good old Matt is an avid ecology fan, and decides to spend a week in the Yellowstone, communing with nature. While there he is subject to a terrible bear attack. No, not killed and eaten: that would certainly get the job done, but not be sufficiently humiliating. It would be better if he’s the first man to experience and survive being ass-raped by a grisly. Yes, let that happen.
  8. I haven’t worked out the circumstances that would bring this about, but he should have his elbows smashed with mallets, and be forced to Riverdance in a tray of sick until he passes out.
  9. A wasp under his foreskin.
  10. Be made to watch his own movies. It’s agony for me, I don’t see why he should be spared them!

That’s my list: feel free to add your own.

Reasons to be cheerful

I’m delighted to discover Katy Red has found true happiness, even if it does seem to have only lasted about half the time it takes to write a blog about it.

I don’t know if happiness makes for great reading. No, scratch that: I know it doesn’t. It’s one of the reasons literally everybody in the known universe wants to stab Matthew  McConaughey in the face. He’s unfeasibly pleased with his life, and it makes me want to end it for him. I ache for him to become famous for a terrible-yet-hilarious accident involving an industrial threshing machine and a loose shoelace, which results in him missing a foot. In fact, I’m investing in a company which delivers poorly maintained threshing machines to Hollywood stars right now. It’s the type of thing that should be encouraged.

Did you know that if you take some of the letters away, replace them with others, and rearrange them a bit, Matthew McConaughey is an anagram of “smug bastard”?

Even when I’m happy, I try hard not to let it spill over into my online life, because there’s little that’s more depressing that hearing how bloody wonderful somebody else feels.

Won the lottery? Fantastic news, now share half the winnings or shut your flap. Or better still, share half the winnings and shut your flap.

Got a great relationship? That’s wonderful news, now ask yourself why nobody ever made a great movie about people who are ecstatically happy all the time. And while you’re asking that, shut your flap.

Just found a new job? OK, I’ll let you have that one. Jobs are pretty thin on the ground, and if you’ve got one and it makes you happy, I’ll let you shout about it without judging you. But it won’t last. In 6 weeks you’ll hate it, and that’s when I’ll be more interested. Tweet that you’ve got a job. Briefly tell us how happy you are. But don’t you dare to blog about it until you loathe your boss and believe you’d be happier working as the guy who combs the crusty bits out of the fur around Michael Winner’s hairy ringpiece.

Yes, I just put that image in your mind. That’s how much I hate your happiness.

I had a recent unfortunate slip. I accidentally let people know I was pretty happy. I still am, and long may it continue, but I promise you this is my last reference to it. You don’t care, and I don’t share. So back to moaning about life.

Katy lists the things that make for a happy life. Here’s the list:

  • Be healthy. Yeah, cheers. 40 years of boxing, rugby, little drinking and no smoking, and bingo: cancer. How are we meant to “be healthy” when the world is full of shit, delivered at random?
  • Live with a partner who loves and respects you. Genius. Why didn’t we think of that? I’ll just pop down to the Post Office and pick mine up, they’re 10 a penny.
  • Have a child. Tricky if you don’t have a partner, even trickier if nobody will have sex with you because you look like a strategically shaved baboon. I’ve tried stealing an urchin from the park, but their parents get so ruffled by it. Apparently their happiness trumps mine. Some people are so fucking selfish.
  • Get a cat/dog. Next door’s cat moved in. He regularly attacks my extremities. He wakes me at 5am to eat tuna, and 10 minutes later regurgitates it in a warm, watery pile on my duvet, then glares balefully at me because he hates the sound of me washing my bedding. I’m not sure either of us is happy with the relationship.
  • Spend less than you earn. I’ll just have a word with George Osborne about this, I’m sure he’ll help by instantly solving the global economic crisis.
  • Don’t use your credit card to pay for your expenditure on a monthly basis. This one has become easier since my bank insisted we go back to the old arrangement, where I paid my bills now and again. Credit cards are a thing of the past, like dignity.
  • Don’t borrow. Presumably meaning don’t get a mortgage, or a car, or start a business. In fact, for maximum happiness, live in your mum’s basement forever.
  • Don’t lend money. I won’t lend unicorns either, which are just as prevalent in my life right now.
  • Don’t gamble. Are you kidding me? My entire future planning consists of hoping for a lottery win. So does yours. Go on, admit it! If I’m wrong, and you actually have savings and a pension and an ISA, then you’re a bastard and probably responsible for the parlous economic state we’re in now. I’m sure you’ll be happy while you stride over the bodies of the rest of us sprawling destitute on the streets.
  • Surround yourself with pleasant smells. I have anosmia, which is the nasal equivalent of blindness. It’s caused by being punched, and reading this is bound to make you appreciate why punching has been a factor in my life. I can’t smell flowers, or fruits, or perfumes. But I can smell bullshit, which brings me to…
  • Keep a gratitude journal. I’m grateful to the education system, and public transport, and the environment, and investment in our national infrastructure, and the welfare state, and the NHS… what’s that? Oh, they’ve all gone. Cheers.
  • Make arrangements to donate your organs on your death. I’m one step ahead of you: one of mine is gone already.
  • Be realistic. Like this list is? That kind of realism? Brilliant.

Playing out of my league

A friend of mine on Twitter recently asked: Why do men always try to punch above their weight in the dating game?

I told her it it’s because men aren’t generally aware of their own weight, only of yours. And there’s some truth in that. But I’m not sure that’s all there is to it.

A woman spots a man: he’s 6’2″ of sinewy athleticism, with smouldering eyes and a killer smile. He has a rugged, outdoor virility and a thousand-yard stare. His trousers, though modest and loose, hint at something akin to a sea monster living down there. He’s driving an Aston Martin, for the love of God, an Aston Martin!

And then he opens his mouth… and the horror, the horror. A nasal, nasty Wolverhampton accent, talking about himself all the time, and his lips have the permanent wetness that causes stalagmites of saliva to form when he speaks. You pray he never has to utter a plosive, or you’ll be drenched. If you could persuade him to shut up and be a sex-toy for a few hours, fine. But as a relationship – never gonna happen. You have your pride!

Well here’s the news, sister: men have no such pride. Most men will overlook a multitude of sins if the body looks like it could sin really well. Stupid, charmless, brassy, temperamental and hot… all men hear is: “hot”.

But a woman will like a man for a range of reasons, and hotness – while certainly in demand – isn’t the key one. In fact, I don’t think there is a single key factor. Women are just more varied than men, in lots of ways.

If you look at a group of healthy men, they’ll all be within a couple of percent of each other in terms of ratio of shoulders, waist and hip. They’re like mass-produced wooden toys, with analogue functions: they’re built to do one thing, and they break if you try to make them do something else.

But women have a comparatively huge range of shapes and curves. There’s subtlety and sophistication and variety. You have a full set of physical options, whereas men are lumpen troglodytes, scratching their balls, pointing their knuckly digits at passing erogenous zones, and grunting.

And I think it’s the same with what women find attractive – you have the full set of sophisticated sensors, not just vagina-detecting device tucked down one trouser-leg; and as a result, you can be equally attracted to looks, humour, intelligence, money, creativity, athleticism, kindness, power, vulnerability, strength… the list is probably endless!

So men don’t immediately accept that women are out of their league, even if they self-evidently are. We give it a go anyway, because who knows: you may overlook my manifest physical failings, and fall for my ability with a butternut, or the surprising number of things I know about Rhinos. Women are weird that way, and even if men don’t understand them, we’re prepared to give it a go. Because most women don’t care what league you’re in, as long as the way you play the game makes them smile.