Banter with Buddha

New year’s resolutions are often mocked for how ridiculous they are….after all they are the result of arbitrarily linking the end of the year, and the start of a new one, to the thought that you will suddenly metamorphose into a bigger and better you with close to 0 effort. You’re not a Pokémon, and as a result such a thought process is doomed from the get-go. The sad reality is that real change comes from…real…change, and that’s that:

‘Everyday feel like the one before. Hunt the money, don’t hunt the hoe…if you do what you always done then you get what you always got, you dumb buffoons!’ – Gunplay (Gangsta’ Rapper,  and gardening equipment enthusiast)

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Well said Gunplay, and that’s exactly it – as hacky as it is to joke about, resolutions are going to remain as fickle dreamy ideas if we don’t institute real changes in our lives. Which is exactly why I made the leap last weekend of buying 4-ply toilet paper as opposed to 1-ply…I just thought; “John – you can do this…you deserve this. You owe this to yourself – pick it up.” And I went for it, I pushed through the pain barrier, and intend to keep it up for the rest of the year.

Not inspired by that? Okay…hard to please, jheez…what about this instead: last night I visited a Buddhist centre to attend a meditation class. You see to speak seriously-ish for a second I hate the idea of just plodding through life, with horse-blinkers on; simply living out your allotted days until you expire, never really experiencing things, or for that matter enjoying what you actually have in the first place. Groundhog Day, Groundhog Day, Grounhog Day – DEATH. Yeah, no thanks.

So I wanted to try new things…at first I thought of horse riding! I would be like Aragon stomping around the place – striding across the open plains of…Sunderland. I even Googled local stables in my area, and there was one close to my work which came well recommended. Ideal! I would finish work and then go play with-ah-shit…you have to be under 12 stone. Back to the drawing board you HUGE FAT GIMLI LOOKIN’ CRETIN!

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Ahem…so the next idea was meditation – and as there is no weight limit rule for sitting on a cushion on the floor, I figured it was ideal for me. Regular readers of my articles will probably protest this, but I am a little bit of a hypochondriac. No, no…come on. I get stressed out easily and then exaggerate about the severity of my situation, I can’t sit still, I tell people about my toilet paper habits. I mean objectively speaking I am strange sort of guy! So anything which could help de-stress me would likely mark a positive step in the right direction.

I went along with my sister, my friend, and his girlfriend – who at the last second decided it wasn’t for her. She didn’t want to talk to people, didn’t want to do the meet and greet, didn’t want to have to introdu – “WAIT…WHAT?!”  I hadn’t even thought there would be any sort of social element – I don’t want to be in there doing trust exercises with my genitals alongside total strangers (or whatever the hell they get up to in there). She was going to go off to a cafe instead, de-stress with a book and a good cup of coffee. What the hell was I doing? Why wasn’t I doing that? I don’t even like the smell of incense this incen-

I went anyway. You know I used to think that sitting was the best thing in the world, aside from maybe lying down…but let me say this, it was one of the most uncomfortable sitting sessions I may have ever experienced. It actually makes me wonder whether meditation classes are just a bunch of people packed into a room pretending they don’t have pins and needles the whole time: “Think of a looooved onee-send your love to them” YOWWW MY BIG TOE IS RINGING – “feel the energy of the universe pulse through your body” – ARGH IT’S TWITCHING AND TWITCHING – “let your body float into a state of pure posiiitivityyy ” – RIGHT THAT’S IT – LOST ALL FEELING – WILL NEVER WALK AGAIN.

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I have been back a couple of times though, actually I think I am going again tonight – so somehow the feeling that I would never ever get to walk again wasn’t enough to put me off. There must be, after all, some good to it, ey? So what if whenever I close my eyes and try to think of waterfalls instead it’s just flashes of painful childhood memories, peppered with looming doubts about the future – that’s great, that’s normal, that’s…I like that, it’s great…it’s…

…off to cry now (whilst standing up), tah tah! 

Love you all, old and new -and I truly hope you have an absolutely magic 201, are any of you try anything different this year? Going to try and get more articles out for you whenever possible. Shout out to Meagan for giving me a nudge!

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5 Ways You Screw Up Your Life (and don’t even realise it!)

This may not be news to you, but it’s the new year – and with it comes a plethora of good intentions and subsequent feelings of “I hate myself, why did I eat an entire truckload of doughnuts?” But don’t worry, I’m here for you – and although I intend to eat whatever I want, and do whatever I want, I still somehow feel very comfortable giving friendly (as well as hugely condescending and patronising) advice like the rest of the internet.

I have identified five ways in which people, that includes you (however if you are an alien reading this, piss off back to Mars – this isn’t for you), screw up their lives monumentally on a daily basis…without even knowing it. Combat these five bad habits, and you will be well on your way to living the life you have always dreamed of!

1) We compare ourselves to other people who are more famous:

Listen you will never be Augustus Gloop. No matter how hard you try you will never be able to fall in a chocolate river and die by way of your lungs slowly filling up with choco milk. It’s not happening, ever. You can fall in a regular river, you can buy some chocolate from your local convenience store – but you cannot, repeat cannot, be Augustus Gloop. So stop beating yourself up because your reality doesn’t match that of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory…you’re painfully normal, and that’s okay.

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Just a thought, but to you high-flyers reading this – how about you work your way up at Shell or another big oil company…become the head honcho…and then instead of leaking oil into the sea, you leak chocolate milkshake. That way you will make a real difference by letting us little people live out our fantasises!

2) We  don’t let people in:

Holding the door shut behind you every time you enter a room is a sure fire way to lose friends and alienate people. Perhaps that sounds good, perhaps that’s actually why you do it in the first place – but trust me when I say this…it’s not cool. Holding a hospital door shut? Well done you just killed someone. Holding a supermarket door shut? Well done an old lady somewhere isn’t going to have milk in her tea. Holding your own door shut? Well done…well actually no, no one is coming to your door anymore because they can’t stand you. 

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Let people in for God’s sake.

3) We  forget that life is a musical:

I know what you are thinking, for the most part musicals are incredibly annoying and people who like them are either demented or lying to themselves. But no – they are in actual fact, brilliant! So with that in mind you should live your life as a musical if you really want to find true happiness in your day to day life.

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“Seventeen-fifty!? Seventeen-fifty? Seventeen-fiiiiiiftyyyyy for condoms – you must be having a laaaaaaaaugh!” No matter the scenario everyone loves a good sing song, and they will likely join in. Especially at funerals. The best tip I can give is to narrate every single detail…it takes a bit of practice but eventually you will get the knack, and soon enough you will be the life and soul of every party. People will even throw things at you, sometimes even flowers. Which brings me to my next bit of advice…

4) We throw eggs at elderly people whilst shouting strange internet jargon at them:

It’s so ingrained in Western culture to do this that I will probably lose some followers just by suggesting it…but stop, stop it right now. These people should be treated with respect, so may I suggest that instead you use those eggs to create a delicious cake. Spend time with them and hear their stories…you can actually pick a lot of perspective. You also get to eat cake in the process – doesn’t that seem a healthier way to spend your time? Sure there’s no laughter but who needs humour in this hilariously positive world. No one.

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AND DON’T THROW THE CAKE. DON’T!!

5) We dig holes in the side of hills in a bid to become a real-life Hobbit, and then give up half-way through:

You’ve had a hard day at work, or an easy day slacking off at school, and you are worn out. It’s understandable, your mind starts to wander and you think “what if?” You watch a few YouTube videos and some American guy tells you that you need to live in the now, and that if you want something you should just do it, go for it, RIGHT NOW. You nod to yourself and grab a shovel – find a nearby hill – and get to work. But you didn’t really think it through…I mean how do I support the ceiling? Do I have to pay council tax? Where will my post be delivered to? How do I even…

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You return home defeated, and people start calling you a “Halfling” in your local area…not because you were almost a Hobbit – but because you did half a job, and are essentially a waste of space. Listen, I have been there, and it is a hard one to beat…but the best thing to do is to just not try at all. Perhaps try and be an orc instead? That would probably be easier…all you have to do is smoke 100 cigarettes a day and inject meth into your eyeballs every hour. Good Luck. 

For more helpful advice, check this out.

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Lottery Wins…

Like most people I often dream of a lottery win…I romanticise the notion of a sudden influx of money and then think of where I would go, what I would do, and in most cases what I wouldn’t do: such as fly economy and mingle with the filthy peasants outside of my large manor gates. Just joking, they can come in but they better not make eye contact…or else it’s the hounds for them.

Anyway it’s a somewhat trivial and silly way to pass the time, but a fun one nonetheless. There’s something freeing about being able to dream, something child-like about the range of possibilities and the boundaries of realism which you can push past. There’s not enough of that these days I find, it’s all super serious – rather than nodding and furthering your dreams people are all: “oh nooo, you can’t do that! Come on now, get real! John pull your pants up, you’re in a fucking supermarket after all!” It’s ridiculous, it really is.  Just let me live, let me be.

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So as I sipped the finest ale (whichever one had the funniest name), from the finest establishment in all of Sunderland (admittedly a low bar) I allowed my mind to wander into the world of life-long holidays, happy smiles, and real differences to the population at large. My best friends and I wouldn’t have to work another day in our lives – apart from that which made us happy of course – we would go from place to place, we would meet with people from all different places, and would never have a care in the world. I’d also find the cure to cancer, and think up some way to eat as much Doritos as you want but still have washboard abs. It would be fucking fantastic. 

As I go through personal struggles and torment, it is brief stupid times like this spent with my nearest and dearest which make all the difference. As much as it is dreaming about a life so alien to your own, it also helps you remember what you do have, and how special that really is.

With that said I should probably start putting on the lottery if I really want to win it. I know I have as much chance of winning as Donald Trump does this presidential election…but…he may actually…hmm…got any lucky numbers?

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Eating in Bathrooms

There are a fair few things in this life that are not okay. That list seems to be getting exponentially larger with every passing day, but currently includes the likes of; kicking people in the face (unless you are a professional face kicker), driving as fast as humanely possible (unless you are a professional fast car racer), and being an ignorant bigoted racist dickhead (unless you are Donald Trump). Now another thing I would throw in there, and I’m sure you would too, is eating sandwiches in public bathrooms…

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DISCLAIMER: Although I’d rather you didn’t – you are free to eat sandwiches in your own clean bathroom. The world will still judge you harshly for it, but then again – you are probably not going to tell anyone are you? It’ll be your little secret held away from the judgemental eyes of the world’s media – fearful you will be nicknamed “The Pee-Pee Pepperoni”, “Ham and Cheese Bare Knees”, or “Ugly Naked Person Eating a Sandwich”. 

The point is it’s weird. But there’s just something about public bathrooms that makes the act way more weird. Most of them I have ever been in scream: “GET IN, GET OUT. DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING. NO CRUMBS ON THE URINE!” Don’t misunderstand me, apart from the grunting guy in the stalls there isn’t much noise; I was simply suggesting that the oddly sticky floor, the foul stench, and the altogether horribleness of the environment makes for internal screaming so loud you can almost be deafened.

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All of that also makes for a place not okay to munch on a Subway sandwich. Especially if you have another hand steadying the ship (I mean penis.) as you wolf down your lunch.

If it isn’t already obvious I witnessed this, and I still don’t get it. How busy are you mystery stranger? What is going on that you need to multi-task to such a degree?

I really wanted to know, but he already had so much going on.

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Bloodthirsty Seagulls

I honestly don’t know what to think. I don’t know how to feel. I don’t know what to do…I just…I don’t know. 

I truly believe we are witnessing something huge, a seismic shift into a re-ordered food-chain, and yet still no one is talking about it, no one cares. Then again maybe I am the only one who sees it, perhaps I am the only one not jacked into the Matrix, and everyone else is just waltzing through life watching Game of Thrones and eating various types of sandwiches, oblivious to the darkness that is slowly seeping into our rosy top of the food chain lives…

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DON’T YOU SEE IT, HUH?! DON’T YOU?! GAAD YOU’RE BLIND. LOOK OUT THE WINDOW AND HEAR THE BLOODCURDLING CRIES!

Seagulls are taking over. They are everywhere, not just the sea – in fact let’s change their names to Everywheregulls, it would make more sense. A little bit of a mouthful, but still.

With every passing day they rise further and further, gaining numbers and strength, and before you know it they will infiltrate your perfect little Dairylea Dunker life…it won’t be long before it’s all be over.

They have wings, there’s advantage one. We don’t have wings, so that’s our disadvantage…err one. Also they have beaks. Yes I have a large nose, that is jokingly referred to as a beak by hurtful people who were never loved as children – but the truth is it is not an actual beak so would not be much use in combat. That’s 2-0 for Team Seagull. And I know what you’re (probably not) thinking, but even if I could fashion some sort of beak-looking thing out of bits of cardboard and tin foil they would outnumber me massively. Also they get to publicly defecate on people’s heads with little to no repercussion. It is highly frowned upon for humans to do this.

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Basically it’s all over, we had a good run I guess. But it’s all over.

Ever since my return to the UK I have realised only one thing. Actually no two – the first one is that British bacon is just the best in the world, and my goodness do I enjoy that lovely goodness. Preferably in a Greggs stottie bun along with HP brown sauce. Heaven on earth. Ahh, it’s just so great.

Sorry – getting distracted from serious things due to bacon, as per usual. But the second is that there has been a horrible adjustment to life as I used to know it…seagulls have inflitrated where they once did not wander, and we find ourselves in a sort of Planet of the Seagulls type of grim situation. Don’t dare steal that name Hollywood, because if we survive this I will be making that movie.

Why do you people always want explanations?! Can’t you just believe whatever I am saying without any sort of…fine. Well just this past week I have witnessed first hand two things which emphasise my point:  firstly I was held hostage in my own home by a crazed dive-bombing family of seagulls, and then just a few days later I witnessed a savage seagull ripping into a pigeon – feasting on its innards, and then… and then it laughed and was all “hahaha, what are you going to do John, huh? Fucking nothing you worthless little human. Run home. Fucking run home.” 

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Just joking. He was eating the pigeon’s face, not the innards.

Now call me a stickler for the facts, or maybe even a person who overreacts at any given thing – but…seagulls…they are supposed to be close to the sea doing sea-related things, like stealing ice cream cones and shitting all over public landmarks. Not hanging out in a terraced street terrorising the locals, or enjoying an all you can gobble pigeon buffet outside a Tesco Express. So this suggests that they are looking to change the status quo. They want a shake up. And as we slowly but surely move into the future predicted in WALL-E they will easily be able to achieve their goal.

Please join with me in my resistance. And bring sponges please, my windows are a horrific sight at the moment.

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Express Yourself…

BFF – LOL- ERRRRRRRRRRRR…

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Tried not to be freaked out by these faceless clones…after all it’s not their fault that Marks & Spencers are so out of touch with what it is to be “down with the kids’!

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Bikes, and Bros (Greece)

Greece – Zakynthos ~2011

It’s somewhat of a rite of passage for young adults in England to go on a “Lad’s/Lasses’ Holiday” at some point…at least where I come from anyway. Now these holidays are unlike any holiday you will likely ever experience, for a few reasons…but are still pretty simple to sum up – so how about I go ahead and do that, just so we are in no doubt:

Young people. Sun burn. Intoxicants of every description – and a strict code which makes sightseeing, and the absorbing of any cultural elements of the country unimaginable.

In short, the unfortunate place becomes an absolute wrecking ground of glow sticks, bubble machines, and cheap booze for a few blazing weeks of debauchery…and likely spends the rest of the year recovering and rebuilding…until it’s time to go again. 

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Despite not being particularly my thang, back in 2011 I was returning from the US with a rather handsome refund for all of my various student exchange costs…and as coincidence would have it my old school friends were planning a holiday and wanted me to join. I agreed without a second thought. In fact I’m so stupid that I didn’t even know I was going to be getting this aforementioned refund until the last second, so it felt like a free holiday. Sort of like finding a tenner in an old pair of jeans.

The trip started off at an ungodly hour, something about letting the Mammy turtles hide their eggs in the sand without the distraction of a blaring jet plane beneath them. It’s sort of understandable, I mean they’re turtles after all – not the Easter bunny, so they need more help…but it still made for very groggy red eyes indeed.

The coach from the airport took forever. It circled the island dropping off a few people at a time at various hotels, as twatty Liverpudlian sing-songs rang out through the slightly ajar windows. We were one of the last ones…typical. Some guy who looked like Gareth Gates (if he was slightly overweight and worked at a bingo hall) kept standing up and shouting out the hotel names whenever we were getting close – I was told he was our holiday rep, and that he had a strange Pokemon sounding name like Zippy, Zappy, or Ziggy. He was also making all sorts of suggestions about “getting on it”, “getting rat-arsed” and “getting mashed”. None of this seemed particularly appealing, or at least not with him anyway. We rolled our eyes, and made a few comments at his expense – mostly surrounding his obnoxious haircut. In that moment we vowed to keep ourselves to ourselves.

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We rose at different times the next day…that’s the problem with a group; some want to lie in bed (which is fine, you’re on holiday after all) and some want to go out and see things. The issue lies with doing both of these things together – as unless you wheel the sedentary people around on a wheely hospital bed then you inevitably have to split up. The day passed by beautifully; lying by the swimming pool, iced glasses in the freezer ready to be filled with draught beer (great idea) , and all in the company of friends I have known for years. Bliss. 

Then Zappy Ziggoles (or whatever) turned up. A dark cloud would have passed over the swimming pool – but he was far too short to block out the sun in any meaningful way. However he still put a dampener on things; he started saying something about drinking tables, or drinking under tables, or something like that…which I have never really understood as I much prefer being above my tables and using them as intended – as a place to rest my glass. There was some sort of “partaaaay” and we best get involved or we will miss out – and blah blah blah – please go away and leave us alone. Please Zigglyzoof, please.

That night, that first fateful night…was an absolute trainwreck. And no, it was nothing to do with Mr. Ziggy. I wish I could blame him, but I can’t. We very quickly got separated as a group, despite the relatively small street on which most of the main bars and clubs were located…cheap drinks that taste like strawberry flavoured piss served in luminous buckets will do that to people. In between the fist-fights, blaring music, and people selling unconvincing knock-off Rolex watches – there unsurprisingly wasn’t much time for  cordial conversation and quiet relaxation time.

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We lost one of our members…and he didn’t turn up until the next day – looking like a cast member from The Walking Dead, but with slightly more deterioration. Our first instinct was to insult him (naturally) but after that little period had passed we asked what had actually happened to him. The jokes stopped after that, in place of head shakes and wide shocked eyes.

Let’s just say he had found something which promised to make things a fun party, but then the party ended up being dreadful. So like if you were invited to an all you can eat doughnut event – but then it was in fact a suicide pact party. That’s not exactly it, but it sort of is. Essentially what you need to know is, whilst we were dancing on tables and being sick in a back alley, he was running wide-eyed through the streets and later attempting to drown himself because he “felt he probably deserved it”. Scary. In fact if it wasn’t for the help of two strangers, affectionately referred to as “The Guardian Angels” for the rest of the trip, he may have been a goner. They had ran after him, seeing that he was in…distress (to say the least)…and dragged him from the depths of the water and back to the hotel. This apparently took some time as his directions kept changing.

That was the first night – and we had booked for two weeks. We naturally started to pace ourselves, well not really, but we were at least aware of how bad it could be if we weren’t at least a little bit careful. The only time I wanted to be in the sea was when I was cooling off from the unforgiving sun, not begging for forgiveness while I plunged myself into some sort of biblical punishment. In lieu of the latter we began to go out and experience more; we hired quad bikes and roamed around the island – seeing the old part of town and marvelling at the best views, we actually began to talk to people and share our stories, we even took Zippy Zapplin up on a few of his suggestions…and had a good time doing it too. 

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The two weeks felt like a lifetime – but also as if they had passed in a second, it was weird. I often think back to those moments spent laughing and living life; shaving our heads into weird pineapple looking cuts, having to spend two weeks sharing a double bed with a dude (so we could keep the best room), not caring what day it was…

I mean holidays are great, but having amazing people to enjoy that time with – that’s priceless. (As long as you don’t do the whole drowning thing, obviously)

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By the way, yes – I’m back. Apologies for my absence my dear friends. You see I have recently started a wonderful new job (content writing/social media stuffs for a small charity), and that has taken up a lot of my time both physically and mentally. I’m trying to find a balance. Hope you lovely people are all doing well! I’ve truly missed you.