Npower and my broken nose

I’m onosmic.

If you don’t know what that is (few do) it means I’ve got almost no sense of smell. Onosmia is to noses what blindness is to eyes. It’s not much of a problem in everyday life, but sometimes things in the salad tray go pretty stinky, and I don’t know about it until my girlfriend visits and hurls when she opens the fridge door.

Onosmia can be caused by a few things: there’s a genetic cause, or it can be caused by a head injury or a badly broken nose. I haven’t broken my nose badly, but I have broken it regularly. And at the age of about 8 I carefully steered the front-wheel of my bicycle into a grid, where it lodged, and catapulted me over the handlebars into a stone-walled cottage. The residents came out to shout at whoever was kicking a ball against the wall, found me in a heap, and I spent 4 days in hospital being observed. I didn’t find out until 20 years later that I’d broken my skull, but by then it was too late to do my own observations about its effect.

So I don’t know for sure if that cottage killed my sense of smell, or just contributed to something that has got worse over the years. It probably didn’t help that when I boxed, I led with my nose; and when I played rugby, I stopped the opposing team with my nose. And even now I somehow manage to get it broken occasionally: only last month my loving girlfriend lovingly broke it a bit, in something she described as an “accident”, whilst reminding me that I was asking for it.

I was definitely asking for it. I am right now, frankly.

But my nose gets no better. On the whole, I categorise every type of smell as follows:

  1. Absolutely no smell at all (the vast majority of things)
  2. Fruity (some citrus fruits, roasting veg, my girlfriend’s feet after a day walking around at work)
  3. Bullshit

In the “bullshit” category you will find things like this email from npower. The campaigning website, 38 degrees, recently asked me to sign a petition castigating npower for their corporate tax avoidance (they’ve been funneling profits through Malta). 38 degrees also invited me to switch to another supplier, which I gladly did (Ecotricity, since you ask).

The next day I got an email from Npower, hand-crafted by their PR department without reference to any kind of truth, and signed with the rubber stamp of their CEO. My crippled nose limped into action, and after checking I hadn’t been emailed a citrus fruit or a foot, I realised I was smelling purest manure. I had a lot of fun sending a reply…

From: Paul Massara, npower CEO

I’m sorry to hear you want to leave us!

Dear Dick Graceless

Thank you for taking the time to send me a message via 38 Degrees – every one of our customers’ views is important to me.

It’s unfortunate, but if you’ve made a decision to leave us based on what you’ve heard in the news about our tax affairs, then I probably can’t change your mind. That’s a fact of life.
However, after reading this email, I hope you’ll spare a moment to consider that not everything you read in the news is true. The real truth is, npower does not avoid paying tax.

I’ll explain what’s going on.

HMRC reduced our tax bill between 2009 and 2011 for two simple reasons:

  1. Over 6 years, we invested over £3 billion in new power stations that helped create jobs and keep the lights on across the UK. This financial contribution is recognised in that some of that investment can be offset against our tax bill.
  2. And, quite simply, our taxable profits were lower than we expected them to be, which – like any other business in that situation – meant we didn’t have to pay as much corporation tax during that period.

In many ways, I’d like as many people as possible to send me an email and then read this response. You’re entitled to make your decision based on the facts, rather than the distorted information that has been circulating online recently.

With that in mind, I’ve recently asked our team to put some more information about the way we pay tax on our website – http://www.npower.com/blog.

We’re proud of our reputation. We have absolutely nothing to hide.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.

Paul Massara
npower CEO

From: Dick Graceless, bloke who can still smell bullshit

Sir

You must think I was born yesterday. It’s contemptible that your avoidance of fair and reasonable tax steals from the society that feeds you. It is no better than common theft, leaving Britain bereft of funds and immiserating the lives of the very people who provide your huge, endlessly growing profits.

But that, it seems, is not enough for you. Showing no remorse, you compound this blatant, obvious theft with a further lies: Npower, along with most large corporations, are stealing from society, and bleating about how hard they have it.

Your actions are those of a psychopath: lying, manipulating, having absolutely no conscience, and perfectly willing to starve or freeze the people around you to gain your own ends: even more massive profits for a 1% executive class that already owns over 50% of the UK’s assets. And all the time, in the service of lucre, you take more and more environmentally destructive actions that endanger this planet’s ability to support life.

If this email really is for “executive complains”, I hope it reaches that lofty, isolated, coddled executive class. And I hope it makes an impression on the tiny, wizened organ that passes for a heart in the corporate bosom. Your theft and lies disgust me, and millions others. And this mealy-mouthed attempt to evade blame would be laughable if it wasn’t so utterly tragic for the nation and the planet.

Rot in hell, you sociopathic, environment-destroying pack of thieves and vultures.

Very, very sincerely

Dick Graceless

A voyage of discovery (and recovery)

Glen Garry, Scotland
Some of Scotland. Not much of it. Just a bit.

At the bottom of my soul is a little hole, and jammed in that hole is a small, hard, wrinkled, dried pea.

Every day I go to work, my soul gets soaked in the hot piss that pours from clients into my ear from 9 to 5, day in, day out. As anyone who has soaked dried peas in hot piss (and we all have) will tell you, they tend to go a bit soft after a while, and as a result bits of my soul keep leaking out through the hole, trickling down my leg and vanishing into the drains. It’s most disheartening, and over the course of a year I find myself feeling increasingly hollow and dismal. I need to refill my soul, and the best method I know is to head to Scotland and attempt to build a TARDIS.

I won’t attempt to be cool about this: I love Scotland. It’s like England without all those fucking awful English people. Where Manchester has gangs of pikeys getting fingered by the bins behind Halfords, Scotland has gloaming and heather and vast empty spaces that leak into your heart and make you feel human again. And by “human” I mean “animal”. They make you reconnect with that part of yourself that hides in the corner so you can focus on staring at a screen all day, or cope with the A6 at rush hour. A couple of days in Scotland and you realise how much of you belongs in nature, and how for the first 300,000 years of human existence, all we had was places like this. Only bigger, and with a sign that says “Feral Goats”. I’m not making that up.

Scotland
Outside, where you belong. Go there you damn fool.

And this is where the TARDIS comes in, because like a Time Lord, I somehow believe that I can cram all of that vastness into a small box with a telephoto lens, take it home with me, and by looking at it can be transported back to that better time and that better place. And I can’t. All I see is 2% of what I could see from that spot, and all I feel is gutted that I’m back at a desk in my pants. From this spot I could drive for 25 minutes in any direction without seeing more than a single house. And there’s something about being in that emptiness that lets you remember what it meant to be a person.

Oh yeah: I could also see my girlfriend taking a piss in a bush.

Because one of the other things I discovered in Scotland is that my girlfriend has a bladder the size of a kidney bean. We couldn’t travel more than 10 miles without a pit-stop, although in her defence these are Scottish miles, which seem to be a bit more generous. But when we drove up from Manchester on the Saturday we had to stop at literally every service station en route. By the time we got to Loch Lomond (thus doubling the number of vegetarians in Scotland) we’d both stopped laughing about her inability to go 5 minutes without a piddle, and were determined to plough on to Fort William without a break. By this point Lorna still wasn’t feeling the essential Scottishness I’d led her to expect, mainly because we’d only just left Glasgow.

Sign as you leave Glasgow: You are now leaving Glasgow. Please take us with you.

But just around the corner from Loch Lomond it starts to get properly massive and windswept, and everybody is called Hamish, Fergus or Morag. This is the Scotland we all want.

Don’t be fooled into thinking Scotland is just one big place. I mean, it is one place, and it is quite big. I certainly wouldn’t volunteer to carpet it, for instance. But it’s got several geographical characters, and you need to go there at once and explore them all. In the borders region it could easily be leafy Hampshire, but as you head up into the highlands you seem to leap all over the place. The moors near Glencoe (that’s Sebastian’s brother) look like Iceland. Glen Garry looks like all of the postcard Scotland you’ve ever seen, all lined up across the front of your fridge like the best cut-and-paste panorama you can imagine. The Cairngorms look like Austria and will kill you if you fuck around. And if you’re bonkers enough to drive all the way to Thurso you’ll find a landscape that looks like the Urals.

Sign as you enter Thurso: Welcome to Thurso, twinned with The Moon.

Actually that’s not fair to Thurso. It’s not twinned with The Moon. It’s more of a suicide pact.

We tried to watch Looper the night we arrived, but it was too complex, Bruce Willis was too scowly, we were too tired and drunk. Plus we’d spent all our energy on driving, pissing, and doing lots of naughty sex the moment we got into the flat. Don’t blame me: we got a free sex toy because we’d spent so much on… erm… sex toys. OK, blame me a bit. But if you’re given a free sex toy, you have to try it out as soon as you can lock all the doors. And without giving too much away, it’s the best sex toy in history, so I’m apologising for nothing, except for this: we later realised the landlord lived upstairs and could probably hear it all. So can I just take a moment to say sorry for how noisy we were, and for that thing I loudly called Lorna in the heat of the moment. She isn’t one of those. She’s never charged me a penny.

The next day we went to the local supermarket, which was showing off because they had a pineapple and a coconut in stock. People had travelled all the way from the deliciously named “Rest And Be Thankful” to see them, and some of the Fergus’s were queuing up to see the local witch doctor to have their shots before being introduced to such radical fruit. So we did the usual thing you do when visiting a strange supermarket – bought a “paint your own meerkat” kit – and then left. To fill up the rest of the day we went 10 miles outside Fort William to a place which isn’t quite the middle of nowhere, but if you stand on a chair you can see the middle of nowhere from there: it’s called Glen Etive, and is such as good-looking collection of nothingness that they used it for this bit of Skyfall.

Glen Etive/
Glen Etive. This is Scotland showing off.

It might sound like “middle of nowhere” is an insult. Not so. It’s fucking beautiful. No special effects, just 22 miles of that, petering out into even more nothing at all. And because it’s the winter there’s snow and waterfalls, and a hell of a lot of deer wandering around the place, keeping warm near the bottom of the valleys. OK, it was -7, but it’s still warmer than up in the hills. Deer are gnarly, and we took dozens of photos of them standing not 10 feet from us, being wild and cool and just a little bit amazing.

Deer are certainly gnarlier than His Popeness, who decided to jack it all in because he thinks the church needs someone else at the top. Well, not the top, obviously, because presumably that’s God, and it’s hard to replace something which doesn’t exist. But old Ratzinger finally had enough foresight to realise you can be too old to do a job. Sorry, did I say foresight? I meant Forsyth. Anyway, his announcement said he’d realised his “age means he hasn’t the strength to do his job”. Which is weird, because everyone else gets even better at talking nonsensical bollocks once they’re over 85, and that, surely is the Pope’s job.

Later, he did a follow-up announcement that he’s giving up Poping so he can dedicate his life to prayer. Being Pope isn’t religious enough for some people. Fucking nutbag.

The next day we decided to head up to the highland zoo, which is (as you’d expect) entirely populated by animals that die if they get above freezing, like yaks and polar bears and people called Fergus. Lorna, quelle surprise, was treating her miniscule bladder to rare trip to the ladies, and I was looking at a map of the zoo so I get my bearings (my marbles having vanished some time before). So I looked left to see how far away the enclosure was, and lo and behold, there was a red panda. Not in a cage, just standing on the path 10 feet from me, staring back.

An escaped Red Panda at the Highland Zoo
An escaped Red Panda at the Highland Zoo

I thought it must be one of those places where they let the tamer animals wander around freely, like Ford Open Prison, so when Lorna’s bladder was eventually persuaded to exit the toilet she joined me and we took photos as the panda ambled around in front of us. A Fergus and his Morag joined us to take snaps. It was very pleasant, but after a few minutes we all started to feel strange about it. Surely a red panda would have run off by now – there was no fence to keep it in the zoo, it could just walk to Drumnadrochit if it felt the need, although frankly, why would it want to?

So we wandered back into the gift-shop to ask an Angus if it was their policy to allow red pandas to walk around freely. I’ve never seen an Angus move so fast. In 30 seconds the zoo was in lock-down, and everyone was ordered back into the gift shop (presumably in the hope we’d spend enough money to allow the zoo to buy another padlock or two). At this point I overheard the first Fergus saying he’d already sold his photo of the escaped wild animal to a Scottish tabloid for £200. It probably ended up as a hysterically terrifying story of rampant animal fury, but the reality is that the red panda is as large and terrifying as a spaniel on prozac, and in any case it wandered back to its enclosure on its own.

Even so, the lax attention to minor details like locks and fences made me slightly nervous around the polar bears, especially as they appears to be held behind chicken wire and were fucking gigantic. And brown, oddly. I suspect the zoo was cheating, as they clearly were about their beaver display – there wasn’t anything sexy about that.

Afterwards we pressed on up to Aviemore and the amazing ski slops and unutterable beauty up there. Heaven, except that it killed 4 people while we were there, and did terrible things to my hair. I’m not a preening twat, and generally don’t care about my hair at all. But hats are essential in Aviemore, and hats do bad things to any head, even one as massive and impenetrable as my own. So I finally understand why people who live in the coldest, most exposed and windblown part of Britain all have shorn heads like an warm sheep or Frankie Boyle. It’s so they don’t get hat-hair. This was a revelation to me, and probably the only time I used my brain all week.

Eilean Donan castle.
Eilean Donan castle.
By this time we’d done Eilean Donan castle and many of the best views, so we felt we had no option but to go to Loch Ness. If you ever go to Scotland and feel like Loch Ness should be part of the itinerary, take my advice: burn your itinerary. Loch Ness is pointless. Don’t get me wrong: if it was in England it would be the prettiest place for 500 miles, and would be swarming with bikers and hikers every minute of every day. But in the highlands of Scotland it’s just the background, and you drive past it with barely a glance.

And after Eilean Donan, the dismal Castle Urquhart is, frankly, garbage. It’s a broken-down wall by a pond, for which you pay £27 entrance fee. There’s a sign outside Castle Urquhart which says: Welcome to Castle Urquhart. At least we didn’t put it in a bag, set fire to it, and leave it on your doorstep.

Much better by far is the nearby town of Drumnadrochit, which is such a bustling metropolis that they advertised their traffic-calming measures from 2 miles away: it was a single traffic island on an empty street. We went to the pub, which said “Closed until mid-March”. We wandered into a courtyard because it said there was a tea-shop and a pet-shop. The tea-shop was also closed until “mid-March”, and the pet-shop was closed, had no pets, but did have a sign in the window saying somebody had found a lost cat. In Glasgow. Which is 120 miles away.

The welcoming face of Drumnadrochit
The welcoming face of Drumnadrochit

We had fits of giggles and fits of panic, because the general ambience was similar the start of a horror movie – naive townies wander into desolate village and end up bent over a desk being abused with something mechanical. But it wasn’t quite that bad: we just found a cafe which was open, and which prominently displayed the signature of James Bond’s favourite torturer, Mads Mikkelsen. He was a regular, it seems. So that made us feel much less vulnerable to a violent death.

There’s a sign outside Drumnadrochit that says: Welcome to Drumnadrochit . This is why Herbie went bananas.

We made our excuses and left. Actually, we had to get going: it was Valentine’s day, although I think I’ll avoid telling you too much about that because it wasn’t part of the Scottish plan: just an accident which happened while we were up there. All I’ll say is that it wasn’t like yours. We don’t do romance. The card I gave to her had “With sympathy” on the front, and a photo of lilies. I wrote a rude poem in it. Not sexy-rude, just abusive. She got me a card that said she more or less loved me, with some caveats that weren’t fully explained, but I can guess. We had a meal at a local restaurant that that was pretty nonsescript to be honest, but I suspect it’s hard to find a great chef in a town with 19 permanent inhabitants. After that went home, not in the most romantic of moods, and had some sex. The sex wasn’t anything to write home about, either (which is a pity, because my mum used to really enjoy those letters).

And so, sadly, to our last day in Scotland, and the only occasion in my working-class life when I’ve needed skiing clothes. We went to a rock-and-ice-climbing centre, and I needed to wear something that is – or perhaps are – called “Salopettes”. It says much about the limitations of my class background that I still have no idea whether a salopette is plural or singular, but it matters not a jot because mine lasted about 3 minutes. Salopettes don’t react well when you drag razor-sharp crampons down them as soon as you start to scramble up a wall, and I had to be held together with duct-tape as I attempted a 25-foot ice-cliff. Although to be honest, by the time I got to the ice I was already knackered. The rock-climbing did me in, and I realised (not for the first time) that the results of my cancer surgery are pretty much permanent. I don’t have much strength left in my stomach muscles these days, at least not compared with old me. And I found it very hard to bend myself into the shapes necessary for scaling a wall.

I also discovered that I’m pretty bad at heights. Embarrassing, especially when you find out about this only when you get to the top of the 50-foot high rope-walk. I was the very definition of “chicken out”, and swiftly abseiled down, feeling light-headed and delighted to be back on terra firma. Just watching Lorna skipping around up there made me feel wobbly. Hey, where in this blog does it say I’m a real man?!

And so that’s it: my soul is refreshed and filled up with Scottishness for another year, and here I am, back at my desk, being slowly emptied again. I can’t wait to go back and do it all again.

Internet dating, and that time I kidnapped a woman

I’m here to threaten you. Watch out!

There. I’ve done it. Scared? You should be.

You should primarily be scared of Sebastian Pritchard-Jones, not scared of me. Or scared of most men. Most of us are fine, it’s just that rogue 43% that give us a bad name.

Just to clear it up straight away: I am not Sebastian Pritchard-Jones. I only share one name with him. And a nationality. And a beard. And glasses.

Hmm, I’m now starting to wonder if I am Sebastian Pritchard-Jones.

Sebastian Prichard-Jones, playing a trumpet that’s as real as he is.

If you’re single and are thinking about dating somebody via that there interweb, I recommend you read the story of Seb, and then drink a gallon of bromide and join a convent. He’s a charmer.

But I’m a bit of a charmer too, and earlier this year I started dating somebody who is so much better than me that she might actually be a different species. She’s smart and funny and silly and annoying and violent, and has an alarming habit of loudly calling me a twat in the children’s section of Ikea. We get looks.

We get looks a lot of the time actually. We’ve been together now for long enough for me to largely forget the vast chasm between our sizes, ages, looks and talents. But it must still startle strangers, and we’ve both heard comments. Sometimes straight to our faces: a stranger at the next table at our local pub quiz asked me straight out if I was rich or fantastic in bed. I had to tell him the answer: no and no. I’m just relying on the fact that my girlfriend hasn’t worked it out yet.

It never occurred to him that we’re together because we make each other laugh and are very happy. It must be something close to prostitution, in his mind. She must be with me for my deep pockets or fat cock. I think this is a telling comment about your average bloke: in his tiny mind, the only reason to select a girl is for her looks, and the only thing girls like about men are their money and their penises; so fellas get freaked out when a pretty girl is seeing a guy who looks like a bloated corpse, hasn’t been paid for 2 months, and has a cock like a grain of rice.

Not that that’s me. My cock is at least twice the size of a grain of rice. Unless it’s chilly.

Self portrait.

But I can kinda understand why we seem an odd couple. I occasionally catch glimpses of us in shop windows as we walk hand in hand around the Trafford Centre, and I’m reminded of that song lyric “Pretty women are walking with gorillas down my street”. Except in my case, it’s not a gorilla: it’s a blobfish.

She’s also far too young for me, far too posh for me, far too pretty for me, and if she’s reading this she’s going to be far too smug for me too. She’s fucking unbearable.

We met online. I know, it’s horrible. But neither of us was on a dating site, so it’s slightly less tragic than you may assume. I was convinced I’d be single for frikking years, which didn’t bother me one iota. I was quite happy fighting off next door’s psychotic cat, rearranging my books, and performing my twice-weekly routine of masturbation, self-loathing, comfort-eating and weeping – the favourite pastimes of the eternally single. I genuinely hadn’t made any attempt to meet somebody, and I even managed not to join Plenty of Fish, which appears to make me unique. From what I understand, about 50% of all married people are on there too.

And she wasn’t looking for a fella because she was in the middle of her finals at uni, so needed to concentrate and get work done. And she owns a rabbit, so frankly, who needs a man?

Both of us were on Twitter, just doing Twittery things. And we bumped into each other, and that was it. I had no idea how old she was, what she looked like, or where she lived. But it didn’t matter. Sparks. Who can predict this shit?

So I didn’t have to make a ghastly dating profile, or retouch my photos to remove most of my chins, or pretend to be warm and sensitive, or in any way be a manipulative sociopath like whoever Sebastian Prichard-Jones turns out to be.

But even so, I did slightly… well…

OK, I kidnapped her. Happy now? Jesus.

I only kidnapped her briefly, and only because I was too busy chatting on our first date, and didn’t realise the entire road layout had changed since I’d last been in that vicinity. But still, I ploughed straight past our destination and took her into Wales.

Me? I laughed, because I knew I wasn’t going to bludgeon her and shove her in the boot. (I would do now, because I know her well enough to know she’s bloody well asking for it, but at the time we were both on our best behaviour). However she didn’t laugh at all. Apparently she was geniunely terrified, and starting to wonder if a “leap and roll” exit from the car was survivable at 70 mph (answer: no).

But this is at the core of the relationship between men and women. Men can be manipulative sociopaths, and tend to be twice the size of women, strong, aggressive, determined and horny. It’s not a good combination, guys. So think hard about how your actions are interpreted.

It’s not the first time I’ve terrified a woman with threats of a remote, grisly death. My mate Jason and I worked together 20 years ago; and following our company’s Christmas do I was driving Jason home (having drawn the short, sober straw). I also offered a lift to a colleague, Usma, who lived along our route. As we got into the car, 2/3 of us pissed up and drunk on booze, and all of us giggly, I jokingly said to Jason: “Right – straight up to the moors for a bit of a murder”.

I know. It’s not funny at all. But Jason was hammered and I always laugh at my own awful gags, so we were far too busy laughing to notice Usma was quietly running for safety. I hadn’t noticed she wasn’t in the car until I’d gone half a mile. It took me until Easter before she’d forgive me.

So even without trying, men can be pretty terrifying to women. We tend not to think about the potential threat we pose; or at least, nice guys who pose no threat tend not to think about it. Not until later. It’s the ones who know perfectly well what threat they pose that you have to watch out for.

The problem is, nobody can tell which is which until it’s too late. I could be one. I probably am. This type of “hey, I’m nice really” blog is exactly the type of thing a manipulative sociopath would write, only maybe with fewer admissions of threatinging to kidnap and murder people. Or maybe not, who knows? Maybe this sounds enough like Sebastian to fool people who know him. Or who don’t know him. Whatever.

My girlfriend’s family are not happy with her going off on a date in the car of a strange old man who briefly kidnapped her. Not happy at all. And to be honest, I don’t blame them, even though I’d rather die than hurt her (I only wish she had the same policy – Jesus, the beatings she’s given me!).

However, my point is: be careful. I know, you’re all smart people, and it won’t happen to you. But it can. The Sebastian Pritchard-Jones’s of this world make it a dangerous place.

So watch out!

I’m only threatening you because I don’t want somebody else to do it.

A response to the guest post. And also, my last will and testament

We had a deal: she wouldn’t tell you about my invisible pet dinosaur, and I wouldn’t tell you she was born a man.

I guess that deal’s blown out of the water, so anything goes now. Not that I’m upset about her guest blog! I laughed, I wept, I hurled, but most of all I was just impressed that she managed to stick to the English language.

Because speech is a thing that my beloved has trouble with. God knows, she tries. You can’t say she’s not giving it her best effort. She’s a sensitive soul, and I suspect she feels deeply for those poor people who are struck dumb, so she’s doing her utmost to say all the things they want to say. All of them. All of the time. Thankfully she’s got a special way to stop my ears from melting in the onslaught, which is to give me regular “wet willies”, interspersed with loving smacks around the head.

Even performing the wet willy doesn’t silence her. In fact I think her record for being quiet is about as long as it takes her to take a breath, and even sleep isn’t enough to stop her completely. Her nighttime blabbering would keep me awake if it wasn’t for the fact I’m usually already awake because of her mattress fascism.

What, you may ask, is mattress fascism? I’ll tell you. When I first moved out of my parents’ home I got a double bed, thinking that I might lure women into it (I didn’t). But when I eventually did get somebody drunk enough to get in my bed, I realised a double bed isn’t big enough: I’m a stocky fella, and it’s hard to fit a normal-sized woman into my bed with me. So a year or two later I got a king sized, and that seemed to solve the problem. The lucky lady had enough room to sleep off her shame, and I had enough room to sleep off my smugness, and everybody was happy apart from the poor girl who’d just experienced me in the nude.

But the size of bed makes no difference to my little angel, because my little angel is a mattress fascist. She’s determined to invade and take over every inch of the bed, regardless of who it belongs to, and is quite prepared to employ magic to ensure it happens.

Within 30 seconds of lights-out she does something I thought was impossible: she rolls clockwise to wrap herself in the entire duvet, leaving none at all for me; and she simultaneously rolls anticlockwise across the bed, shoving me into a 4-inch wide strip down the edge of the mattress. How can she rotate in both directions at once? Clearly she’s a witch.

Burn the witch!

Her sex face. You can see why I prefer doggy style.

(I could take her into the back garden and burn her with the leaves, although with her skin colour – slightly paler than an albino polo mint –  just sending her outside on a sunny day would do the trick, and nobody has to tell the police. Deal?)

So I can look over the body of my beautiful, comely, sweetly-sleeping mattress fascist, and see acres of empty bed, inviting and cool and spacious… and utterly unavailable to me. I’m trapped in the nocturnal equivalent of Gaza, and she’s blockading my sleep. Can’t Kofi Annan do anything about this?

And then the gibbering begins. I’ll be lying there, wide awake, being baked by her hot body (in both senses) squeezing me off the edge of the mattress, and feeling utterly oppressed in my own bed; and she’ll suddenly announce, “motorbike underfelt carnival handbag”, like it’s the beginning of a lecture, and then fart, hit me with her hair, and snore loudly.

I just ignore it now, but the first few times I thought the gibberish meant something. It’s understandable that I would: she’s almost as nonsensical when she’s awake, and half of our time together is taken up by me wrestling with the mangled syntax she hurls at me. (The other half is spent simply wrestling).

You see, she does terrible, terrible things to the English language. Perhaps it’s because she’s a Celt. She was born over here, in leafy, moneyed Cheshire, where she learned to kill foxes, shoot guns and speak in a nice, if highly creative way. But she could barely be more Irish if you found her eating mud in a bog in Donegal with a pig under her arm.

She has that lovely Irish skin too: it’s the colour of the stuff that peels of the bottom of my feet after I’ve spent too long in the bath. And there’s the Irish hair, which responds pretty well to a severe industrial ironing every couple of hours, but left to its own devices manages to look like it was dragged through a hedge and look like the hedge it was dragged through. Clever trick that.

So English might be her mother tongue, but I doubt it’s her grandmother tongue, and in her case her ancestry is taking over her glottis. Throwing caution to the wind, she’s running (with scissors) through the dictionary, cutting-and-pasting as she goes. As a result, she manages to inventerise wordments at every juncticle, like Stanley Unwin after a few too many sherrys, deepjoy.


I may be painting her in a bad light, and I realise this might all sound a bit mean-spirited. But it’s not: she’s actually rather lovely, but in ways that it’s very hard to make any sense of. Examples:

  • She recently spent half an hour loudly performing whale-song to my scrotum, in the belief it might make it go smooth. It didn’t, I just laughed so much I wet the bed.
  • She lured me into a long confusing discussion about whether it’s possible to smash two ducks together in a vast underground accelerator, at close to the speed of light, in the hope that the collision will produce a high-energy chaffinch.
  • She has an odd habit of licking the inside my nostril or, for variety, putting my whole nose in her mouth and blowing until I emit a strangled parp like a tuba being raped. That’s normal, isn’t it? Isn’t it?
  • Alarmingly, this future primary-school teacher, who is sensitive to the needs and concerns of our nation’s young, responded to my taunt that she was born a man by shouting “Yeah, and my dick’s bigger than yours too” in front of several 8 year olds.

I believe her about her dick, but my tits are bigger than hers, so it’s swings and roundabouts.

Lots of things about her are quite male, actually. She’s got quite a blokey brain, and surprises me with her knowledge of carburetors, her sense of direction, her hairy back, and her charming habit of lifting one cheek and gurning when she farts, which is often. And then she laughs like a drain, and smells like one too.

Don’t get me wrong: it’s a lovely bottom. It’s got the kind of tiny, imperceptible bouncy wobble that makes my mouth dry up and my nether-regions spasm, and she oscillates it beautifully every time she walks away to commit chemical atrocities in my spare bathroom. It wasn’t a spare bathroom until she started using it, but now I dursn’t go in there for any money. I call the hallway leading to that bathroom “Chemical Alley”.

So there’s a permanent “no naked flames” rule near her, in case you ignite something noxious and burn off her… I was going to say “her eyebrows”, but that’s not quite right. “Her unibrow” is a better expression. Because the other thing about her which makes me think she’s a man – specifically Liam Gallagher – is her solitary eyebrow. It’s like Groucho Marx’s moustache has taken residence on her forehead. She’s getting a strimmer for Christmas.

I’m aware that some people who read this blog are my friends, and are probably concerned for my wellbeing at this stage. I’ve just described a possibly mental, definitely violent, crypto-transvestite fascist furball, who is in control of deadly recto-biological weaponry and knows where I sleep (because she’s the border guard). Not only that, she’s half my age, half my size, twice my speed and twice my kidneys; and as a resident of one of the wealthiest towns in Britain she’s got ample experience of shooting peasants and hunting foxes (and ladies, I’m one foxy peasant, ding-dong). So there’s very little chance of me getting away from her if she chooses to attack.

Me, on date night.

But rest easy, friends: she chooses to attack almost hourly, and so far I’ve survived. Even when she’s being loving and gentle, it somehow often leads to a painful knee to the dangleberries, a bite on the face, a blizzard of tickling and being flicked on the head, or a thorough test of whether it hurts more to be punched in the kidney or in the place where my other kidney used to be. I put it down to her having an enquiring mind, and a penchant for bloodthirsty experimentation.

Example: during a recent motorway trip, she decided to show her affection by squeezing my head as I drove, and in doing so managed to shove her thumb under my eyelid, leaving me blind at 70mph in heavy traffic. This is normal for us. This is every day.

Any trip with her in a car is a risky enterprise, because when she’s not blinding me she  subjects me to a torrent of pokes, kicks, tickles, bites to the shoulder and head, and drooling tongues shoved in my ear. Not in a sexual way either: just to annoy me.

So I’m wondering if we’re in love, or in a war. It could be either, but it’s probably both. I’m only telling you this stuff in case I’m found dead one morning: the chances are, it was an accident, but no coroner would come to that conclusion if they found me battered and blinded, with my head covered in bites, freezing in my own bed, and possibly with a thing inserted in my bum and abusive notes left on my bedside table. For the record: all of that is perfectly normal and above-board.

Consider this a legal statement, because when she reads this I suspect I’ll need one.

Guest post – Living with Dick: a survivor’s guide

The light of my life has decided she wants to explain what the hell she’s doing with me. I’m kind of interested in that myself, so here’s her guest post. Enjoy.

First of all: I exist. Honest.

There’s good reason to assume I don’t exist. I wouldn’t blame you, especially since Dick revealed his history of having an invisible pet dinosaur. His mum even told me that he left it tied to the railings outside nursery, and they had to go back to collect “Hubert”.

OK, he was 3 at the time, but he hasn’t developed a great deal since. He’s just chosen a better name that “Hubert” now, and his invisible friend is a Mole Rat.

I’ve been mentioned a couple of times in this blog, and as I follow Dick on Twitter I’ve noticed a few sniffy people who seem offended to discover he’s no longer single. Frankly, if you felt any distress at Dick being unavailable you need to take a long hard look at yourself in the mirror… something I can barely do any more. The shame, the shame.

Calling you “sniffy” is a bit strong, to be honest. A few of you seem to have the impression that Dick is charming and funny and attractive, but I’ve seen him up-close, and I can assure you that his unavailability should make you about as “sniffy” as going to Aldi and discovering the strange tins of Polish something-or-other have suddenly been moved. You didn’t know what they were, they were cheap and disappointing… and now they’ve gone. Somehow I think you’ll get over it.

I, however, probably won’t. You see, I’m his girlfriend. It’s taken me some time to come to terms with the fact that I am romantically connected to this man, although I think “romance” might be a strong word too.

What do you imagine when you think of Romance? Maybe some of you will visualise a Hugh Grant character calling round with a bouquet of red roses, champagne and chocolates. He stands there gazing lovingly into your soul as he declares his adulation for you in rhyming couplets, and explains that he’s decided to whisk you away to be wined, dined and soixante-neufed in a Parisian hotel, while a bevy of penguin-suited violinists play Hearts and Flowers.

Or maybe you have in mind some of those small personal gestures of intimacy that make you know – absolutely know – that he’s thinking about you. I could describe some examples, but they’re all personal to me or to you. If you’ve experienced it, you’ll know what I mean.

But that’s not us. Oh no.

It’s not that our relationship is bereft of romance, it’s just that we measure it by different standards. His equivalent of handing me a dozen red roses is passing me the bog-roll when he’s “finished”. Well, he thinks it’s finished. It’s usually around the time I’m getting started.

I don’t want to make anybody chunder, so I won’t talk about our bedroom times in any great detail. But I want to assure you’re practicing safe sex. Not in the sense you think, not with condoms or (God forbid) femidoms – it’s not really necessary to check for infection when he’s being investigated by vast teams of doctors every couple of weeks. And at his age we don’t have to worry about pregnancy, because his little soldiers have all turned to dust, or retired to the Dunswimmin Retirement Village. His ejaculate reminds me of a lizard having a coughing fit in a talc factory.

No, what I mean by safe sex is that we take everything very, very… very… veeeery slowly. His dicky hip and sciatica mean we do things at a glacial pace, so there’s little danger of cardiac arrest. And just in case it all gets too much for him, I’ve got 999 on speed-dial, and we keep a gallon of Lucozade and a tin-foil blanket nearby in case he’s overwhelmed by the pressures of inhaling and moving at the same time.

Afterwards, if I’m not too traumatised by what just happened to me (the thing that he – but nobody else – refers to as “sex”), I entertain myself by counting his grey pubes. Actually, that’s a fib: I keep my eyes well and truly shut when I’m close to his gentleman’s area. Fortunately he can’t see over his belly, so he still assumes he’s getting a wet blowjob. It’s actually my tears, and sometimes a little bit of sick.

(He suggested that some dirty sex talk might spice things up, but now he’s complaining about it. Apparently “think of a happy place, think of a happy place” isn’t what he had in mind).

In his own special way, I guess he shows affection. It’s similar to how a gibbon would show affection to its keeper: a selection of grunts, snorts and hand-gestures (often of the two-fingered variety). And if he’s feeling particularly loving, or is just light-headed and forgetful, he’ll let me have a Hobnob.

My lovely car cake, complete with crushed front-end, dead pedestrian, and bloody aftermath. Nice.

Actually he did, thoughtfully, present me with a cake to celebrate me buying my first car. This is a photo of it. He’s a twat.

And here’s another example of what all you lucky ladies are missing. Once, in one of the rare post-coital moments when he wasn’t too sweaty to stay in the same room as, he did a little pillow talk. You might think he was whispering sweet nothings, but in actual fact he just bluntly asked how many of my fingers I could fit into one of his nostrils. The answer is two. Easily. His nose is huge. It’s got an echo. I think I heard somebody in there recently, calling for help.

All of this is very entertaining, and probably the only reason I’m still around. Because most of the time, he’s just annoying, and barely house-trained. If a dog repeatedly piddles on your lino, you’re supposed to rub its nose it it. But nobody did this with Dick, which is why he still dribbles on the tiles when he goes to the loo. I’ve banned him from having a stand-up wee, although surely it shouldn’t be necessary: he’s got a piss-tube (it’s not much good for anything else), so why doesn’t he just use it? I’m tempted to rub his nose in his mess so hard that the marble tiles break, but they’re such nice tiles.

His bodily functions are irritating, but his personality is downright infuriating. If you’ve read his blogs, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what he’s like: a filthy, dry sense of humour, good with words, and constantly argumentative.

A diagram of Dick’s brain, inside Dick’s head. I didn’t say “dickhead”. I didn’t need to.

And he knows everything, which is really annoying. I like to wind him up because I have a degree and he doesn’t: but then he watches University Challenge and casually gets 97% of the questions right, then sits there looking smug and waiting to be punched. There’s literally no end to the amount of pointless trivia he can store in his vast head.

And that, I think is the only reason I’m with him: he’s pretty much guaranteed to win a £30 drinks voucher every time we go to the pub quiz. Hey, something’s gotta pay my way through teacher training, and I’m not doing it sober!

Just for laughs

The best sex is like a Frankie Boyle joke.

It should be enjoyed in the privacy of your own home, never be mentioned in front of your mother, and should make you feel ashamed and delighted in equal measures… and it should cost you £35 for two hours, plus taxis. Hey, if I’m gonna pay for it I want a damn good deal.

Don’t worry, I’m still talking about Frankie Boyle. Although I have some stories about prostitution, since we’re on the subject. That’s a sentence that could raise a few eyebrows, so let me explain: I sometimes go to London on the train, and park my car at Manchester’s Piccadilly Station, right in the heart of the red light district. Coming home late at night I’d often get propositioned by strange, haggard women with voices like a choked drain, asking me if I want business. That’s how they do it: do you want business?

The first time somebody asked me that, I didn’t realise she was a hooker because it was winter, and she was dressed just like anybody else on a freezing Mancunian night. Sex with her must have been like 45 minutes of pass the parcel.

Anyway, I didn’t know she was a prostitute, and she was just wearing a coat and scarf, so I assumed she was lost. I thought I’d somehow misunderstod her, and she was asking me about some sort of business.

Her: Do you want business?

Me: What business is it you want?

Her: Want some business?

Me: Sorry… who are you looking for?

Etc

I wasn’t getting any closer to a comprehensible answer, and her – in hindsight – heroin addled speech patterns weren’t helping. So I decided to ask what the business specialised in, hoping this would help matters.

That certainly clarified what it was she was offering. Few, if any, businesses in that area specialise in anal for an extra twenty quid and a lift back to Harpurhey afterwards. As the saying goes, I made my excuses and left.

But at least it’s not as bad as my uncle Harry, who stopped at the lights on the way home from the butcher’s shop, and had a street prostitute hop uninvited into his car and sit on his gammon. That’s not a euphemism, by the way: she actually sat on the gammon he’d just bought. He threw it away and went to the chippy instead, but since then, “sitting on his gammon” has become a little euphemism in my family. Keep it, if you like it. It’s a good one.

Another favourite euphemism comes from something I heard on the radio. A woman reported that her child’s teacher had told her this: the child was asked to write a story about “what I did at the weekend”, and wrote that she’d woken up having a nightmare, and gone into her parents’ room for comfort, but that mummy and daddy were on the bed “having a quiet fight”.

Having a quiet fight, such an excellent phrase. Although personally, I love noisy sex. If it’s not noisy enough, I just turn down the telly and press a glass against the wall.

Now, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but this blog isn’t my sex life, or about paying for sex. Perhaps I should have mentioned that earlier, but the introduction has kind of blathered on a bit. Sorry about that, and I hope you’re not disappointed that I’m no longer talking about sex. You probably are: my statistics show me how perverted you are.

I should explain that my blogs usually arise from something annoying me slightly. Sometimes they arise from things annoying me a lot, like when I hear about Republicans using made-up science to justify “legitimate rape“. But sometimes it’s just things that annoy me slightly, like Formula 1. But sometimes I decide to do a blog because Katy Red or Girl on the Net have posted something salacious, and it makes me want to reply. And when I do, I get about 100 times more visits, simply because it’s about sex. Don’t worry, I won’t let you down – there’s more sex stuff later on. But first, I want to tell you why Formula 1 annoys the hell out of me.

Lewis finishes another fine demonstration of his driving ability. Next on his itinerary: a shag with a tart.

Let’s pretend I’m Lewis Hamilton. I get in a stupid car that has no luggage space or stereo, and is covered in adverts for cancer. I noisily drive 120 feet, crash, and demand £1million

That, as far as I can see, is the definition of Formula 1. Really, what else happens? Yes, you’re right: as many times as 3 per season a car will overtake another car, sometimes successfully. But generally they all stay in the same order for what seems like days, giving the viewer the bizarre impression that they’re watching a car park travelling at 200mph.

In the process, the CO2 of a small city is spewed out into the air, and when the so-called race eventually ends a millionaire gobshite wastes a bottle of champagne and wanders off to fuck a Pussycat Doll.

Fucking a Pussycat Doll is not like fucking a prostitute. I may have started off talking about hookers, but now I’m talking about Pussycat Dolls. Not the same thing at all. In no way does the fact that she only dates very rich people mean her sexuality is influenced by money. In no way are these 5 ladies putting the “filthy” into “filthy lucre”.

The difference between these 5 talented musicians and 5 strippers is approximately 5 square inches of latex.

Actually…. just look at them. At times my moral centre goes slightly off-centre, and I forget the fact that I have no respect for them. They don’t have much respect for themselves, so why should I. Yes, they’re borderline hookers, but…

Goddammit, why have I given up sixsomes?

Anyway, I might be persuaded about certain favourable features of the Pussycat Dolls, but not about F1. Honestly, tell me I’m wrong. Actually, don’t. If you’re a big fan of F1 you may feel moved to comment about how wrong I am. If you feel moved, move, and keep on moving. I don’t want to know I’m wrong, because I’m right.

Anyway, this blog isn’t about sex or prostitution or Formula 1 or the Pussycat Dolls, in spite of the fact that I keep being dragged back there to look at that photo. It’s actually about those things we shouldn’t laugh about, but which we do anyway. I don’t know why, but apart from Frankie Boyle the undisputed masters of this art are old ladies. For example, today my girlfriend asked her nana whether she’d been watching the Paralympics, and her nana replied, “No – I hate to watch them struggle”.

I’m sorry, I know it’s very very wrong, but I have to laugh. Not at the Paralympians, who are without doubt majestic and inspiring. But at old ladies, and their startlingly wrong view of the world. It takes a special kind of special. And I don’t mean special like that.

It’s hardly a scientific proof that only women can do this, but most my the stories about mad things said in all seriousness feature a women.

  • My mum, watching two great whites attacking tuna on a David Attenborough programme, said “Gosh… you can see why they call them sharks!”
  • Also my mum, being checked for symptoms which ended up being Parkinson’s Disease, but at the time were suspected brain cancer: “Well, they gave me a brain scan and found nothing”
  • My sister-in-law, waking up as her flight was descending into Heathrow: “Are we landing? We’re a bit low, aren’t we?”
  • Also sister-in-law explaining why she wasn’t keen to live in a particular house: “I wouldn’t want to not live there if it wasn’t so unprivate”.

Honestly, I’ll give you a Nobel Prize if you can work that out in less than 10 minutes. I still get lost in the quadruple negatives. Perhaps women actually do have great brains: not only can they make sense of that convoluted gibberish, they can also say it out loud without laughing.

But I mustn’t be sexist about it. As I say, my small sample is hardly scientific, but then again neither is my mate’s mum, who won’t tie knots in the plastic bags for loose vegetables, because “knots make the bag heavier”.

Women: what on earth goes on in their pretty little heads?

I’d love to be a real sexist, but I’m not; I just like poking feminists, which is why I write things like that. It’s not that feminists are wrong, it’s just that anybody who takes themselves excessively seriously is great fun to poke with a stick.

But to be fair to feminists – which is something I rarely like to do, because they look so hot when they’re angry – men are idiots too. In fact, to be honest, it appears men are far more idiotic than women are. Looking beyond the everyday tragedy of women working as prostitutes – even the Pussycat Dolls – there are men who pay for it.

But what’s the point, when these delightful things exist? Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the greatest sex toys in the entire world.

First, may I present this special, special… item… it’s hard to call it a toy… which is designed to make it feel as though a girl is licking your dangleberries while you’re poking your tallywacker into another lady.

I’ve had one or two interesting evenings in my time, but I don’t need to tell you about them. However, without revealing too much, I can tell you that such occurences can be pleasurable, as long as nobody gets hit in the face with a swinging bollock, or accidentally bitten on fast-moving nether regions. And I’m confident that many men have a fantasy of experiencing this sort of thing. So I can almost see the point in this invention – but I can’t help notice that neither girl has a head, torso, arms or legs. In fact, with its excised pudenda and disembodied tongue, what we have here is the very thing that Jack the Ripper was trying to build at home. And I suspect that knowledge will tend to reduce your enjoyment.

Next is this wonderful item. I don’t think I need to explain what the gentleman (if we can use that term for the buyer of this merchandise) is supposed to do, but let’s place it in context: rather than imagining it floating in pristine space, as the photographer has, let’s place it on your carpet.

Now what does it look like? It looks like a partially buried girl is attempting to raise the alarm by farting loudly.

And is it just the influence of the Olympics, or can you also picture it with the Union Jack painted on each latex fingernail? No? Okay then, that’s just me – reaching rock-bottom, and then starting to dig.

Next is this…

If this was being shown as part of Ricky Gervais’s stand up show, he’d simply project it on a screen, point, and let you laugh for 3 minutes.

I know the world is full of strange and unusual fetishes, but I didn’t realise “discarded concept from the art department of a David Cronenberg movie” was one of them. I’m not entirely sure what sort of demented mind comes up with stuff like this, but the website where I found it describes it, with amazing optimism, as “life-like”. It’s only life-like if your life consists of your plastic surgeon getting high on crack and muddling up the breast implant he had scheduled for the morning with the arse reduction he had scheduled for the afternoon.

And finally, there’s this.

I’m speechless.

I’m trying to imagine what purpose this serves, other than being the single most embarrassing thing you can give to a friend on his stag do.

I’m aware of the existence of ladyboys, and assume there’s a market for shemale porn. I’m not criticising anybody for having their own highly specific sexual fantasies and desires. We’re all perverts in our own way.

And I know I’m not an expert, so I may not be qualified to comment. But to the best of my knowledge, most – if not all – ladyboys all have heads and arms and legs.

They’re known for it. So what the fuck is that all about?

So if you ever find yourself gasping and covering your mouth in shame as you laugh at a Frankie Boyle joke, just remember this moment. And remember that no matter how appalling Boyle tries to be, he can’t beat sex toy manufactures. The man can’t even shave off his beard: what chance does he have with all that latex?

Dirty weekend

This could be my very last blog, because it appears I’m about to die.

I know this because my girlfriend just called up to call me a slagbag and drop some hints about my impending doom. It was only a matter of time. Most people want me dead, or at least don’t give a Bernard Matthews Turkey Twizzler if I’m alive.

This is normal, by the way. I’m not suddenly depressed, even though I did see myself in a mirror earlier today. Most people won’t be very mourned. We’re all the stars of our own little lives, but of the 6,973,738,433 alive today, 6,973,738,400 won’t know you’re gone.

I think of this when I’m damn near killing myself to please a client: if I actually went one step further and did kill myself to please a client, the result would be the following thought in the client’s mind:

  • Oh dear… who’s going to finish building my website?

So my philosophy of life is to laugh in the face of death, at least until death starts to laugh back. I’m going to live forever, or die in the attempt.

But it seems I’m going to be killed soon. I don’t yet know the full details, but my loving girlfriend clearly has plans: today she called me up to tell me she’s been speaking with an undertaker to find out if my 44 inch chest requires an extra-large coffin. I’ve checked all over my body, and can’t find an expiration date, but she’s definitely got one in mind.

In an odd way, it’s touching how much she cares: checking that I won’t be cramped in my box shows that at least she wants me to be comfortable when I’m a corpse. Although she’ll probably still steal most of my burial shroud, just like she steals most of the duvet every frikking night.

What, as stand up comedians often ask, is that all about?

Fortunately I like to operate a lot cooler than she does, which is why I haven’t yet died of frostbite in the night. (I can assure you, that’s the only cool thing about me).

As far as I’m concerned, I function at a normal temperature, but she disagrees. Every time she gets in my car she’s immediately struck by how cold it seems, and I’m immediately struck for letting it get that way.

Apparently the correct ambient temperature for the inside of a Ford Mondeo is just below the temperature at which my face melts. If she becomes cooler than that, steps must be taken: and that’s why she needs 97% of the duvet, and I only need something the size of a handkerchief.

She’ll definitely kill me now.

Not that there’s anything wrong with being dead. Some of the best people are dead, including, sadly, Neil Armstrong. He stood on the moon. Let’s just think about that: he stood on the fucking moon! You and I would think it’s a big deal to go to Spitzbergen, and we’d tell everyone about it for years. If we climbed Kilimanjaro we’d bore our relatives into a coma (I speak from experience, as the brother of a man who has climbed Kilimanjaro, and has bored me into a coma). But Armstrong didn’t just go to another country or stand on a tall rock. He went in a rocket to another celestial body, and looked down at the earth from 240,000 miles away, and didn’t once feel the urge to boast. In fact the most memorable thing he said since coming back from the moon is probably unknown to you all, but is rather ace:

As I sat on the launchpad, the thing that went through my mind was this: I’m sat on 3000 tons of explosive kerosene in an experimental rocket, every component of which was made by the lowest bidder.

What a guy.

So if/when my girlfriend does do me in at least I’ll be in good company. In fact, I reckon I’m well prepared for death: I learned a bit of Latin in school, and that’s a dead language, so, like a bilingual chicken, at least I’ll be able to communicate when I get to the other side.

And I’ve almost died a few times, which you could call being clumsy, or you could call unfortunate, but I call it practice:

  • Cancer √
  • Broken skull √
  • Hit by a car √
  • Falling onto railway lines √

And my brother once scribbled out those warnings they put on plastic bags, the ones about not putting it on your head, which I still maintain was an elaborate murder plot. I survived, which made him sad, but as I said at the time: being dead isn’t everything in life.

My brother belongs in that vast crowd of people who care not a jot for my life. He cares about only two things: making vasty heaps of money in his job as an evil capitalist stooge; and pretending to be blasé about climbing Kilimanjaro whilst actually being absolutely constipated with smugness about it.

But my girlfriend, in spite of her dastardly plan to kill me soon, actually cares. She must be nuts. I know she cares – or is nuts – because of the list.

You see, we’re going on a dirty weekend, and she sent me a list of things to take along. Now, I’m of the opinion that there is something wrong with women. All of them. I’m prepared to be shouted at by feminists for this outrageous slander, but bear with me.

You see, I go to Tesco with a vague idea of what I’ll want to eat next week. Sometimes, if I’m planning to cook something special, or try out a new recipe, I’ll jot down the things I need. But 99% of the time, I manage to walk around Tesco in a fairly efficient way, filling my basket with things I remember I need, or just think I fancy on the spot. The gentlemen in my readership will know that this is possible, because they will all have done it. And you know what: none of them have starved to death yet.

But ladies need a list. Most of them can’t go to the bathroom without making a note of the functions they’ll perform when they get there. And as they sit, ticking off “wee” “poo” and “small, squeaky fart that smells like kitten’s feet” on their special toilet-break list, they’ll probably write down how much loo roll is left, and whether they need more Veet.

It’s just how they are.

I’d like to say it’s just my girlfriend, but that would be a fib. It’s also my mum. And her friends. And my sister-in-law. And every woman on the planet. And if women had followed Armstrong to the moon, every woman off the planet too. They’d probably have taken a list with them too:

  • Go to moon
  • Bring back moon-rocks
  • Get talc

Lists, for men, are either a sign of obsessive planning, or of a demented propensity to worry, or of a big wet hole in the middle of your brain. But ladies make them all the time, and far be it from me to suggest women are obsessive, demented or have wet holes.

My mum has a special pad for making lists, which she keeps no more than 18 inches from her at all times, even though her Parkinson’s means she can rarely read what she just wrote. It honestly looks like she was making a list whilst tied to a pneumatic drill, standing on a washing machine, being driven at high speed across a carrugated roof, and having sex. But there’s always a list when I go round to do her shopping, and it’s always very comprehensive, if incomprehensible.

I’m starting to wonder if my girlfriend is the same. She’s listing badly captain! Not that I mind. I think it’s sweet, but it’s also slightly frightening. For example, as I mentioned, we’re going for a dirty weekend. You’d think by that phrase we’d need a list of lubricants and toys and ropes and goats and aubergines and marigold gloves and sink plungers.

But no: her list includes such fetishistic devices as:

  • Socks
  • Toothbrush
  • Shower gel
  • Hobnobs

And brilliantly

  • Savlon and plasters (just in case)

OK, maybe I misled you slightly for comic effect. The dirty weekend is actually a weekend getting dirty by scrambling up a waterfall in The Lakes, and all of the things she’s listed are practical, sensible and necessary. But still… socks? I’m 42. Do I really need to be reminded that I’ll need to wear socks?

Sadly, the truth of that is that I probably do. You see, 42 might not seem very old to you, but seems hysterically ancient to her. She’s quite convinced that at my age, my memory is going. What’s more, she’s quite convinced that at my age, my memory is going.

Mind you, if her plans for my forthcoming demise work out OK, I’ll soon be dead: and you don’t get older than that.