Monday, 29 October 2012


The bears have finished
So my three-year-old son and I were in a well-known fast food burger outlet – let’s call it McDonald's for that is what it was called.

He enjoys the salty tastelessness of the chicken nuggets as I while away the minutes trying to establish what it actually is I am eating.

It was a Big Mac apparently. It was an appropriate name as it tasted rather like I would imagine a pervert’s long coat would.

My son was busy wondering why his dad would be so cruel as to give him a plastic toy that did nothing while he filled his mouth with something equally pointless.

I was busy trying to establish what ‘fries’ where and at what stage in creation they had been potatoes rather than simply atoms of oil stuck together with salt, when I was taken aback by a sight I can now not shake.

A family of four extraordinarily overweight people were trying to squeeze into a corner-style booth and failing with painfully funny ease. Individually, they were foolhardy but determined, collectively, it was like watching Laurel and Hardy move a piano.

One would get in and another would end up being squeezed out one square foot of lard at a time. They tried a different configuration as if persistence would defeat the laws of physics. At one point the table disappeared under a mound of what appeared to be t-shirted marshmallows.

Will no one help them, I thought. Surely there is restaurant fitter having lunch who could do a quick homer redesigning the entire place to accommodate Hardy and Hardy and the two Hardy juniors.

It was like a large portion of Scotland's lard had suddenly congealed into one corner of McDonald’s and was slowly oozing around it, their bellies consuming all before them.

Even when they surrendered, the Alpha fatty was still trying to figure out how to get a fat peg in a thin hole. 

He glared at the offending table with a willful disregard for its inanimate sensibilities while easing himself into the table next to it.

They were like a family of overweight bald bears down from the mountains to feast on perverts’ coats while enjoying a Krypton Factor exercise in futility, either that or they were simply sorting out the eatery’s feng shui.

Daddy Bear’s two huge kids heaved a bronchial sigh into their allotted trough and waited for Mama Bear to come back with enough food to keep them through the winter, as long as winter lasted until mid afternoon.

We got up to leave as the compelling dance was over and our time was up in this happy place.
Leave it Leeeeeee-Annnnne, he's not worth it

I stood up and put the little fella's coat on and was all set for the off when something with a face like a pock-marked drunk koala complete with facial hair and angry sleepy eyes said: "We have a bin sir."

This creature of indeterminate species worked here.

I said: "I'm sorry."

It said: "That's ok, but we..."

"No, the sorry wasn't an apology.  It was used in the exclamation sense of I beg your pardon."

It ploughed on: "I notice you left your rubbish on your table. We encourage people to use the bins provided."

"Go on then, encourage me," I countered. "Say nice things like 'you can do it', 'this is what we trained for', we're all rooting for you' or 'go for it'."

It seemed to be called Lee-Anne or something like that from it's badge but there seemed to be too many Es and too many Ns so my brain started to melt.

"We prefer if people use the bins"


"It helps to keep the cost of the food down," it said with enough pride to suggest it was a fait accompli.

"But it doesn't. I just paid more than £10 for some deep fried parallel of hell with all the nutritional value of a soggy sponge. Why, after that, would I be predisposed to dispose of the disposable?"

It was struggling against the force of my incoherent rambling and repeated, as though it were a mantra: "We encourage people to put the rubbish in the bin.”

“If I was to do that I would take my food straight from the counter to the bin and not stop to fill my child and myself with the cholesterol monstrosity We have been here several times and I have never been asked to use the bin, nor the toilet, which is where this stuff will end up having left me nothing but hardened arteries and an overriding desire to have a shower."

"If you been before then you should know people put their rubbish in the bins," it was attracting a crowd, although that might have been me or my boy who was high as a kite now and singing Mary Poppins songs while clearly considering whether to fling poo at people.

"Why do you come back if you don't like it?" 

I told it that the phrase is "a triumph of hope over experience" but it just looked at me and said "what".

"A triumph of…oh nothing." I said as though surrendering. "I come back to look for my karmic centre but when I'm asked if I want fries with it, I give up on any chance of Nirvana and sit in a chair to feast on a pervert's jacket."

“I want you to leave,” it said.

“You should work for Greggs. They love people like you. Just the right side of surly to make people feel they have just had a door slammed in their face.”

“I have worked at Greggs," it said triumphantly.

"Why did you leave, not surly enough for you?"

"I have asked you to leave,” it insisted.

“Listen,” I said, just to make sure she knew that speech would be the medium by which I was about to impart my wisdom and not modern dance or mime.

“You can’t throw someone out when they have clearly got up to leave. It’s like firing someone when they have just resigned. It loses an awful lot of impact.”

It scowled and walked off with a damp rag in its hand and a red rage in its head.

Victory was once again mine.

We left, my son full to bursting with e numbers, salt and sugar and trying as three-year-olds do to come to terms with the song Supercalifragilisticexpialdocious, me with a smug grin, both of us replete and nutritionally bereft.
I looked down at the family of red faced bears rapaciously mounting a full frontal attack on the bucket full of perverts’ jackets and the pile of almost potatoes in front of them. I wondered if they had ever been introduced to cutlery.

I shouted back to the drunk marsupial: “You’re going to need a bigger bin.”

Thursday, 25 October 2012


SO I went to my home town for a visit there, just to see the family for a day or so as they deserve me.

I have a rantparrot in my pocket you know
I decided to have a pint in my old local simply because I thought it would be fun. It used to be a place where my friends and enemies would meet to discuss how much of an arse I had been that week.
It was a place of solace where whatever you were and were capable of didn't matter, you were still accepted. A place where even a punch was meant with just the right amount of venom in a kind of "he may be a dick, but he's our dick" kind of way.

The music was good, the landlord was an affected bully and the customers knew what they wanted - just enough booze to keep them this side of reasonable until they could go to a nightclub to get their free repercussions and a black eye.

But no, not now. The place was full off white-faced, black-haired, over-dressed miseries. It was awash, a phrase some of these ghostly gobshites hadn't heard before, with Halloween decorations. Ahh I thought, it's Halloween.

I asked the eye-liner of a barman: "You never know what you're going to get with these fancy dress nights do you?"

"What? It's not a fancy dress night."

"That's a shame. I thought I stood a good chance in my brown moleskin jacket, check shirt and blue jeans - Jeremy Clarkson you see."

"It's not fancy dress," he insisted.

"Well what is it then?"

"Goths mate," someone beside me in a garish tracksuit and gold falling off every finger explained as he decided I was his new best friend. "Or Emus," he added.

There they were, all white faced and angst-ridden standing at my bar, self harming with cider and blackcurrant while some kind of David Lynch movie soundtrack played in the background.

Well I thought, here's a pretty game. My old local, a rock haven, annexed by people who don't even know who they are angry with or indeed what they want to do about it.

I wanted to watch the early kick off for the England/Poland game but the karaoke had now begun and there was nothing the bar thing could do apparently, as "war" would break out.

The thought of a flurry of white foundation, black mascara and androgynous fury heading my way filled me with dread so I let it go.

How do self harmers fight anyway?

I stood miserable for a while watching the football while listening to a chorus of "My Way" sung by what looked like a group of out of focus Charlie Chaplins, when my new best friend next to me said the lager was going right through him and he was "pissing for England".

Off he waddled, gold flickering off the white make up of the Emus as he passed.

I thought it was a strange way to support your country. I left before he came back, just in case he was Jimmy Savile.

Anyway, that's not what I wanted to talk about.

The curly-haired jacket is still on the loose - do not approach.
Later that evening, as I enjoyed some southern fried chicken, two cops approached me, slowly but with a menacing purpose.

In a panic I hid one of the chicken thighs in my jacket, leaving just the drumsticks in the bag. I don't know why. I had been drinking and thought "this will fox the peelers".

I rationalised that the cops would never look in my jacket pocket for something that isn't illegal. Victory was mine. I also thought for some reason that if they caught me with a chicken thigh then I would be in lots of trouble. I had also just thought it might be fun to run through the town screaming that I was Donald Trump and my hair was trying to kill me - so wasn't taking myself too seriously.

They demanded my name, not together in stereo, but there was definite "we are a couple" attitude about them. Bad cop, bad cop type of thing.

I asked why and they said: "Wouldn't you like to know."

"Well yes," I said. "That's why I asked."

"We have a smart one here," said Bad Cop1.

Bad Cop2 said: "We are looking for a man who fits your description."

"And whose description of me are you working from, there are many?"

"We are looking for a man with a brown jacket with curly hair," Bad Cop2 begrudgingly told me.

"Well as you can see my jacket is bald. Good luck though, there can't be that many curly haired brown jackets out there."

I knew as I said it that it was a mistake, but it was out there, sarcasm is a bloody vicious crime against Yorkshire cops.

Well I was firmly told to stand up from my comfortable bench and Bad Cop1 went to check on his little radio to see if I was whom I said I was and not this villain with the hairy jacket.

Bad Cop2 started searching me. Go ahead I thought until he said do you have anything sharp in your pockets.

"No," I said. It was the truth. But I realised the chicken was in there and I didn't want to go to jail, not me a pretty boy like me. It would be hell. I would be the parcel in a grim pass the parcel game. So I decided to explain the chicken to him.

Too late.

"Urghhhh, what is that?"

"Chicken," I said relying on the truth.

"Well what the f**k is it doing there?"

I looked at him as though he had asked me why I wasn't called Steven* and said: "Nothing, it's dead. It has been plucked, covered in spiced flour and breadcrumbs and then deep fried."

"Well why the hell is it in your pocket?"

"Well, that's complicated, but essentially I panicked when I saw you coming to me. I live in Scotland and chicken is rare. That may not be true," I admitted as he chucked the greasy golden thigh on the ground.

"I like chicken, it's nice," I said as Bad Cop2 tried to clean his hands while leaning forward to avoid the worst of the grease.

Bad Cop1 returned with the reassuring news that I was whom I said I was. The state I was in I was unsure.

He then said I could go before shouting at his pal: "What the f**k are you doing?"

He replied, slightly downbeat now and I could see who was who in this relationship, that I had put chicken in my pocket and he had picked it out.

"Bloody chicken in his jacket pocket for f**ks sake. I put my hand in it. It's over the place, greasy crap."

"It puts hair on your jacket," I should have said.

Instead, I sat down smiling to finish what was left of the chicken as they walked away.

I watched them approach the Emus that had now left the pub. Hairy jackets by the tonne.

They are in a lot of trouble, I thought.

*Note - I was once asked by a wild eyed woman in a cafe what my name was, when I told her she said: "How come you're not called Steven?" I had no answer.

Monday, 15 October 2012


Keep moving Nicola, the monsters are coming...
I have had my mobile phone number for several years now. I'm very happy with it, whatever it is. 
The previous owners of my number have moved on to newer sexier numbers. They are presumably happy in their lives and not being pestered by people looking for me. 
I'm not so lucky. 
For the past year I have been getting regular calls from what I'm guessing are debt collection agencies for a guy called Scott and a girl called Nicola. 
I have no wish to out them by giving their second names as I have a sneaking admiration for their ability to confound these ghouls, these dealers in misery who enjoy their jobs just too much. 
So let's call her Nicola Bumface.
A Brian called last night interrupting my viewing of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Big mistake.
"Hello, could I speak to Nicola Bumface please?" 
Brian had a flat angry Manchester drawl and was clearly fed up so I thought I would cheer him up. 
"Yes, hello I'm Nicola, can I help?"
"You don't sound like a girl," he droned suspiciously.
"I know, you see Brian I'm half way through a gender realignment process and the hormones are changing my voice. It seems to be working. I've always wanted to be a man ever since I realised the world likes them more .
"You can call me Nick. What can I do for you anyway?"
"Erm OK, sorry to hear that."
"Why are you sorry? I'm delighted. Once these breasts shrink I plan to celebrate by grunting my way to the pub."
"OK," you could tell he was suspicious but he struggled on.
"I need to ask you some security questions."
"Oh, OK. Well I have two locks, a security chain, an alarm called Alan and a cat called Algernon that would rip your eye out in seconds without a thought. A guy can't be to careful."
"No you misunderstand me. I need to know your date of birth and the first line of your address and postcode."
"Oh really? What on earth for? I have always been told not to give out that information."
"I need to establish who you are?"
"I've just spent three years in counselling trying to establish who I am and I decided I want to be a man. I don't truly know what I am yet Brian but I can see myself in the mirror and I can tell you I am who I said I am, apart from a few gorgeous hairs on my chin."
"No no," he interrupted. "I need to know you are who you say you are, for security purposes."
"Given what I am going through do you think it's fair to be questioning my identity? Why would you do that to me? Who are you and why are you calling me? Are you one of them trolls I have heard about?"
"No no, I'm sorry Nicola ..."
"It's Nick."
"Sorry Nick. I need to establish that you are the Nicola Bumface I'm looking for."
"Why are there lots of us?"
"I don't know."
"What's it like being a fella then Brian?"
"I'm sorry what?"
"You know, how cool is it being a bloke?"
"Listen I just need to know that you are Nicola Bumface."
"Nicola Bumface?"
"Oh how embarrassing, no I'm Nicola Pishface. Oh how awkward. I could ask around, see if anyone knows this Bumface for you. Do you fancy meeting up?"
He hung up. If these cowards didn't ring on an unknown number I would have called Brian back and asked him if he was OK and if he had a sister that I could chance my muscular arm with.
People need to pay their way for society to work and I understand money needs collected but debt collection staff are an ugly bunch of people.
Uncompromising tinpot Hitlers. Like mean, intransigent traffic wardens loving their little bit of power in their tiny kingdoms, their sinister hold on people's lives.
They are faceless bullies working for equally faceless clients with no knowledge of the struggle people are having staying afloat.
They care not who is on the receiving end of their vengeful threatening bile either by phone or letter.
Be it the serial scum constantly trying to sneak a con or a busy forgetful mum living hand to mouth, their vicious greed is constant.
Be it a vulnerable pensioner behind on their council tax in a bid to heat their homes or a desperate dad trying to make ends meet while burying his head in the sand, they don't give a shit as long as the call ends with a frightened promise to pay.
These people are monsters. The worst kind, mean and unforgiving with a sad love of the pain and anxiety they peddle.
They are getting busier thanks, in a woeful irony, to the greedy incompetence of their banking paymasters.
They may be just doing their jobs but they are still monsters.
Keep moving Nicola, the monsters are coming.

Friday, 12 October 2012


Charity may well begin here
So I was happily sitting at home there with the kids enjoying a messy supper when for the third night in a row some arse ruined my chaos asking me about money.

The phone rang. Well, I thought, who could this be ruining this idyllic scene of a three-year-old throwing beans over his brothers?

“Hello, is that Mr Hassled?

“No, there is no such person. My wife is Mrs Hassled but I am Mr Rantparrot.  Modern marriage and all that. She refused to take my name you see, choosing instead to take my money.”

“Ah, I would like to speak to you about helping those less fortunate than yourself.

”I am pretty unfortunate,” I said. "You will have to go some to beat me."

Now I don't want to target any particular charity as they all work from the same template with these calls, but this is how the conversation went.

"No seriously, there are those that are desperate for your help. You can help.  

“Is that right? I can’t feed my own children, what makes you think I can help anyone else?

"As we speak, my demonic one is pursuing my shy one around the kitchen with a chip covered in tomato sauce insisting it’s his chopped off finger. Things have got messy. How can I help?”

She told me that for as little as £5 a month I can help do earth shattering things all over the world.

She added: "There is a recession on Mr Hassled and all charities are feeling the squeeze." She added while they continued to strive to bring some hope into the lives of children/the poor/the deprived/the...list goes on

“Oh,” I replied.

“As I said It’s Mr Rantparrot not Mr Hassled. You would remember that if you could lift your eyes from your script and imagine you are dealing with a real person with his own frailties, worries and financial concerns.

“I know there is a recession on, it started here in this house a long time ago. I have no issue with you trying to raise money but I do take issue with it being asked for while I am watching my kids fight.

"I take further issue with the fact that at some point my wife or I were kind enough to give to a charity and leave our details only to have that generosity abused by people constantly calling for more."

“But Mr Hass…Rantparrot, it is important we get the message out there by any means possible.”

“You seem to be taking the old maxim charity begins at home to mean it begins here and only here. It doesn’t.  Can I go now?. I said”

“You must understand how much these people struggle and how much a simple direct debit from you can help,” she was sounding desperate now.

“I do understand, I sympathise, I give to charities in all manner of ways. It is not for you to tell me what I need to understand. I will be the judge of that. Do you fully understand the issue or do you just fully understand your script. Do not tell me what I need to understand.

“We give when we can, we do not give when are bullied.

“How much do you give every month?”

She wasn’t so keen on letting me know.

“That’s my business sir.”

“But do you give to this particular charity?”

“That’s my business sir,” she repeated.

“Then the charities I give to is my business as well and if I give to you then you will know about it and have an unfair advantage.

“As we have established, charity begins at home, I am at home and dispensing charity and first aid on a minute by minute basis. Why just now I am trying to reattach a bloodied finger that is actually a chip onto the finger of small child whose imagination is such that he now believes he has chopped off his sixth finger.

"Now I am going to hang up. I know that by telling you this I have nullified the effectiveness of the hanging up, but none the less…”

Drought, famine and disease take a horrendous toll around the world, especially among the young and the vulnerable. Mental health, poverty and deprivation should be higher up everyone's agenda.

I do not and will not belittle the efforts of charity fundraisers but, for crying out loud, leave me a little peace at home.

I do what I can and give what I can afford. I am intelligent enough to understand the maths and do not need to be called at home with dramatic and emotional demands for money. Stop it.

I have every sympathy with charities whose revenues are down. I have even more sympathy with the people they are trying to help and will help when I can. I do not need prompted, it makes me cross.

I have asked several times for this cold calling to end. It hasn’t. As far as I am concerned, I am now allowed to be as rude as I want when they try again.

You have been warned. 

Sunday, 7 October 2012


So I was happily driving home from work when I spotted a fury of a car screeching down the on ramp onto the motorway.
Well, I thought, as he tore onto the road in his Audi Getoutmyway, wonder if his wife is in labour or he needs a poo?
He sped past some old dear up the inside lane and I could see he was alone, just him, his club foot, his 4x4 and his god-given right to be ahead of everyone.
He swept across the three lanes like a hot knife with no indicators slashing at some butter.
Well I thought, this should set his piles to tingle as I shimmied the 1.6 Mazda into the fast lane just in front of him.
To make it worse, I only indicated as I settled into what was now a not so fast lane.
Not sure what happened to him next. I think a wasp maybe got into the car as he spent the next 500 yards waving his arms in all directions at once while screaming.
Crikey I thought, that must be some size of a bloody wasp. It must have stung him on his face as well as it was swelling up and going a very uncomfortable looking colour.
He was built like his car, huge with bits he would never need. He had alloy eyes with diabetes and high blood pressure on show for all to see.
I could now see why he was in such a rush, he was drowning in his own suit. It was eating him alive, squeezing the life out him so as his head got smaller his suit grew and grew.
His tiny fat head was sticking out of a jacket that was consuming him, pushing him down into the quicksand of his collar.
He was closer and angrier now but all I could see was a man out of control as his suit eat him, his arms flayed around after a deadly wasp and his car tried to get jiggy with mine.
As he fought the wasp, his car played out a high speed courtship with mine. It started by getting very close, then began flashing its big white eyes off and on constantly as its horn began its loud serenade.
I was down to 50mph by now and the middle lane traffic was undertaking me. The fluorescent chap behind me moved into the middle lane.
He pulled up alongside me as traffic slowed when we approached a stretch of motorway where police have said everyone must slow down as we have a surplus of 50mph signs and need somewhere to put them.
I pulled my window down in order to check he was OK, but he started shouting.
It could have been: Oh you, rid of me of this wasp as I battle my man-eating suit."
Or it might have been: "Oy you f*****g wan*er, I will rip your f*****g head off."
Of course, he may have been talking to the wasp although why he would wind his window down and shout it across at me is anyone's guess but a a man being eaten by a suit is likely to get desperate.
Smiling didn't help, he got even crosser.
But what really boiled his pish was me shouting through my open window that I couldn't hear him as my window was broken before flicking the button to raise it.
I lowered it again to say: "It's such a nuisance, bloody windows. Nice suit by the way."
I sped off as much as my sweet little Mazda allowed me and cut in to take my exit with him now stuck in the middle lane unable to get out as a flurry of equally cross drivers now drove within an inch of each other in a desperate bid to win race no one else was taking part in.
But I'm not sure he heard me as the wasp was back and his arms were everywhere again.
Never saw him again, shame.
I don't like being bullied, anywhere. I will do what it takes to end it. If you have a fast or big car, it doesn't give you any more rights than those in smaller or slower motors.
The places slower drivers go are just as important as the places you apparently needed to be yesterday. Set off earlier, get a helicopter, use a TARDIS, do something else other than bullying, harassing and annoying people with the same rights on the road as you, gobshites.
I am still out there fighting daily. I may be a bad driver but at least I am wasp free, have manners, indicators, and remember this, no sense of self preservation.
Take care.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012


Chatty chair
So this is what I would ask you, the people who read this: What annoys you?

Don't tell me. Please don’t tell me. I only ask because someone asked me the other day if I knew what annoyed him.

He actually decided to waste my time and his by saying: "Do you know what really annoys me?"

Then he looked quizzically at me for a few seconds as though I might know.

I know that I am supposed to say "no" or "what" but we never got to that.

I replied: "Is it people asking you questions you had no hope in hell of answering, say like, do you know what annoys me? Is that it?"

"Oooh touchy," he said.

"Ok," I said, "I'll play. What annoys you, it had better be good or I'm going to beat you to death with my growing sense of disappointment."

Turns out it was fish from the fishmonger that still had bones in it.

He is probably still lying on the ground picking the bones of my disappointment out of his arse.

No I don't know what annoys you, how could I?

You're not wearing a T-shirt with the slogan 'corn beef really annoys me' on it. There is no clue in your features. I was not warned in advance that I may face a grilling about your personal preferences.

Why not just say what really annoys you? "Corn beef really annoys me," there you said it and we can move on to discuss why.

Why waste time? We only have a short while on this earth.

The wife tells me it's just a language tool, conversational furniture or something.

What the f**k is conversational furniture?

It's the sort of phrase a modern art fan might come up with. Is it counter intuitive? I don't want to sneer but, no hang on, I really do. Conversational furniture, for crying out loud.

Next time someone says to me 'you know what really annoys me', I am going to punch them in the face and say: “Is it that?”

Or I will just keep asking them.

I will bring myself to my full tiny height and reel them off.

I will say: “Is it dolphins, is it Wakefield, is it cheap carpets, lite instead of light, is it when people say aks instead of ask, cardinals, Weetabix, the Scottish Widows woman, Dave Lee Travis, chairs, products like "No one would believe it's anything but margarine?

"Is it tomatoes, women, lifts, sausages, caramel shortcake, cheese, town halls, paper, football, soup, elbows, Chinese lanterns, is it bollox terms like counter intuitive or conversational furniture?"

Then when their face stops squinting and I can see tears in their eyes, I will say: "No sorry I don't know, you better tell me."

I pity the person who approaches me and says 'you'll never guess what happened to me today'. I will, even if it takes me all day.

Then they can go to the next person and say: “This guy really annoyed me today by reeling of a list of pish when I asked him if he knew what annoyed me.”

You see, they will actually say what annoyed them, leaving them in no doubt what it is. Victory will be mine.

And you know when someone says "don't look back just now", I don't and I don't feel an overriding compulsion to do so. It annoys people that I don't even make the effort. Weird eh?