MIA: So many stories to tell.

Oh my Lordy, here he is: the prodigal son of WordPress – he was lost and now he is found, praise be to Baby Jesus!

Hi everyone, I know it has been forever and you’re probably wondering one of three things, either 1.) “Where have you been?!”, 2.)”What have you been doing?!”, or 3.) “Who the fuck are you?!” Perhaps even a mean-spirited cocktail of the three…not very festive but all good points. To tell you the truth I have been working, hard. See below:

I currently lead the Comms and creative campaigns for a small charity based in the UK – there’s always so much to do for this great cause, which takes me around the world (which yes, I still love) introducing me to beautiful souls on a daily basis. I can’t complain, it’s a dream in so many different ways!

But it has meant my own personal stuffs has suffered, and this makes me sad. I want to find the time to redevelop Storytime with John (if you still all want to hear from me!) – keep yo’ eyes peeled for 2020. Love, hugs, and tinsel kisses to all!

#StoryTimeWithJohn #ComebackKing #HashTagFREEK #Humour #Comedy #Laughs

Jogging into the Abyss

It was the night before jogging and all through the house, my excitement was stirring – maybe soon I’d have a spouse. But then I awoke and with the toll of the alarm…my body was unwilling – getting fit, had lost it’s charm.

I’ve always been full of half-good ideasyou know; spontaneous expensive trips abroad instead of sensibly saving, new unnecessary shoes instead of paying the council tax bill, pizza for both tea and breakfast whilst still expecting a six-pack to materialise – that sort of thing. The sort of things that can be somewhat cute and quirky when you are younger, but unfortunately start to seem silly once the boring grip of age takes a hold.

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Now any choice I make seems HUGE; so huge that I often feel anxious even thinking about the what-ifs and the maybes…so huge that I occasionally feel like reverting to childhood where most decisions are made for you – so huge that I put huge in big massive capital letters so you know I’m not fucking around. Yeah, that huge. 

Leaving South Korea last year was one of those choices as it meant I was essentially hanging up my travelling boots and strapping on something a little smarter – simply put, I had loved it but it had run its course. And yet still I felt unsure of what would be, and there seemingly wasn’t much in the way of helpful articles out there other than people stating stuff like: “you will feel like a stranger in your own town”, “no one will understand you”, and “you will never ever feel like you have a home ever again”…

Great, fab, brilliant – shall I shoot myself now, or is that also a service you offer through your delightful blog?

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But listen it’s not all doom and gloom – so don’t for a second start believing those dreamy lost fucks online. You are still you after all…in fact you are the best version of yourself that you have ever been, it’s called growth and experience people! Those big choices define who you are and mould you into the person you will be…sure they take some getting used to, but it’s worth it in the end. Your life is irrevocably different as a result but that doesn’t mean it’s suddenly total dog shit:

Case in point I thought it was a black and white sort of choice I was making by returning to the UK after adventuring around the world. You know, leaving the “traveller” lifestyle behind and getting a “proper job”, aka trading in a vibrant and fun life for a boring and tedious one…as if I was fully expecting that the powers that be were readying the  drill to forcibly redesign me as a droid devoid of human emotion, and in doing so erasing all of my weird and wonderful memories…such a cartoonish way of looking at things!

I’m still me, and I’m still making stupid choices – trust me you don’t trade in your motivations at the door (just this year I’m going to Germany, Spain, France, USA, and potentially Canada…) How’s the saving going? Piss off, pal. 

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What’s my point? Oh yeah, choices. Life is what you make it people..sure I wallowed for a bit (I am a complainer first and foremost), but now I’ve got a terrific job in content writing and communications for an amazing little charity who do tremendous work (worth checking them out here)…and you know what? Things are pretty great. I’m not a stranger in my town, in fact I love that I know people and that they know me – this is my home, but being away and coming back makes me recognise that home can actually be potentially anywhere. I love that fact, it makes the future a little blurry…just as it should be.

Don’t worry I’m never going to stop with the stupid choices – I mean if I did, what would I share with you delightful chaps on my site…movie reviews? Come on.

Actually…that would be less stressful for me – as my most recent stupid choice means I am set to run a half-marathon in support of my charity  this year. Hence the 6am wake up call, and aching limbs. Urghhhh if legs could cry mine would be moaning like Myrtle – and I’m only two days in. SEND HELP. 

Youth vs. 20 Something (Holidays)

Is it better to look at ancient podiums – or dance on sticky ones in nightclubs? 

WAIT. Hold that thought…as I suppose you could do both…although just the one time – after all UNESCO people are such sticklers when it comes to boogeying on their priceless ruins. But for the sake of this post how about we pretend that the two are mutually exclusive? And that one sort of trip contains that of an avid flip flops and socks wearing tourist, and the other of a red-necked nuisance. Okay?

You see I’ve been fortunate to go on both sorts of trips and they are – OH HEY LOOK A VISUAL AID RATHER THAN ME EXPLAINING!

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Yup. Athens and Zakynthos (Zante); both in Greece but both completely different – just look at that distance, oooh wee. Actually this is why I HATE HATE HATE with a capital claw hammer when people check off a country from their “been to” list after seeing just one city during an hour long coach stop. NEWS FLASH: You haven’t been to  England if you have only seen London, no more than you have visited China by taking a selfie on the great wall of China – sorry to be that guy…but…well…facts and all that. GO SEE MORE THINGS, NOW!

And also location aside, holidays vary massively…simply put they are not all the same! If you go for a nice church retreat to Holy Island with some holier than thou nuns, you are likely to have a different experience than a pupil widening weekend to Ibiza with the boys from your five a side team. So stop trying to pretend you can see it all in one go...you can’t. 

So with all that in mind, let’s compare the two trips – and see if there is a winner (spoiler alert, there isn’t):

First up is one of the most famous cities in the world – although these pictures barely do it proof (thanks to my goofy stupid face, apologies internet):

 

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Athens, Greece: Aged 25 (2016) – This was part of my mega-trip after leaving South Korea I met with my sister and headed to the birthplace of democracy and the old stomping ground of my boy Zeus…don’t worry, there was still a lot of beer!

Key moments:

  • Having the amazingly delicious, and healthy (not true at all but it’s nice to tell yourself lies sometimes) gyros every single day for every single lunch. I also learned I had been pronouncing the name incorrectly…it’s “gee-ros” not “guy-ros” apparently.
  • Spending ages in lines to see the amazing historical sites…and then feeling cheated at the fact they were propped up with unsightly bits of scaffolding.
  • Having a staring match with this grumpy guy in a laundrette – and losing. Atheniens are some of the most miserable people I have ever met (but perhaps they have good reason to be.)

But this wasn’t the first time I stepped foot in Greece…the first time was a lot more lively and a lot more hazy too…I give you, Zante:

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Zante, Greece: Aged 19 (2011) –  Oh to be young(er)…more tan, less hair, and a whole lot of memories. Good times – minus the times I was throwing up of course…

Key moments:

  • Having two double hotel rooms with a balcony connecting both just for our group – ideal. But due to some sort of error (or accidentally on purpose?) I had to share a bed with one of my pals…weird at first, but after a few hundred shots of unidentified alcohol: not at all. 
  • Getting talked into allowing multiple friends to have a go cutting off my hair…which essentially looked like a half stripped kiwi for the rest of the holiday…and actually for years after. 
  • Whilst off his head one of my friends almost drowned himself in the sea, but was fortunately saved by a couple of random guys – who were aptly dubbed his “Guardian Angels” for the remainder of the trip. Safe to say he was a lot more careful after this experience.
  • Almost crying upon returning to my home and ordinary life…as life on this paradise island was pretty much well…errr…paradise. Which sort of makes sense I suppose.

But alright,  which one is better? Almost dying from exhaustion after two weeks of non-stop madness, or feeling a newly stuffed belly a cafe hopping vacation gives you?

Well…NEITHER.

There’s a time and place for everything – especially gyros. ALWAYS GYROS.

But I guess my advice is that you take the time to just enjoy whatever kind of experience you are experiencing…just go with the flow and enjoy it for what it is. Don’t cram. Just live in the moment…that way you will have something organic to savour later on.

Wait…why am I suddenly so hungry? 

Gotta go eat something, bu-bye – but make sure you leave some sort of experience you have had in the comments – don’t let me be the only one…my God that hair cut and earrings…what was I thinking?!

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Jane Bond?

I just heard some so-called breaking currraaaaazy news: Gillian Anderson  (of The X-Files fame) has announced that she would be more than happy to have a sex change and become James Bond. Or perhaps just remain as she is and play Jane Bond; that would make more sense. Or…well…whatever – she wants to take over the role and now people are freaking out.

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Some have taken to punching the air and gasping “woooo yeah double oh heaven!” or words to that effect – but from what I can see most comments from flabbergasted fans have been filled with the typical internet-ish sort of vitriol:*

“…how can a lady run, jump, and make grunting sounds?  Only men can do that! Don’t even get me started on shooting guns and storming out of offices. Keep out of our domain, will ya?!” 

“…women shouldn’t play agents, it’s just not believable – apart from that red headed one in the alien files thing. She was okay, I guess.”

“…the name’s Bond, James Bond – not Jane. Jane is a different name to James. Get your own movie franchise, and name – women have taken everything and now they are trying to take our names too. Despicable.”

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Now I of course, couldn’t care less. And not because I am some sort of spectacular progressive or a constant warrior against discrimination at every single turn (I am to some extent but I have other things like bacon and TV going on which take priority), the thing is that…well…I couldn’t give a flying fuck about James Bond. At all. 

I suppose I do think it odd that a woman would play the role of a man, and that after so many years it would suddenly change – but not enough for me to kick off and become red in the face. Take the Ghostbusters reboot for an example – it looks dreadful. That’s my opinion and I don’t need to dance on a table and scream it from the rooftops so people know it…I can mention it and then move along. Same here.

Or if someone told me there was going to be an all men Sex and the City for some bizarre reason…I would politely reply with: “oh really…hmm, how interesting” – which would be good manners code for: “I couldn’t give a shit, why are you boring me with this information?”

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I mean, is it a big deal? Was it even worthy of this rambled non-sensical article? Are there not more important things to worry about? Like making sure you don’t have holey socks, nailing small talk with the person at the supermarket checkout, or well…anything else really. 

James Bond is an action film, something you watch if there is nothing else on, if you are stuck on a long haul flight, or if you are a die-hard fan. It’s not awful, but let’s not pretend it is something sacred and that if a lady were to play the role hell would freeze over and David Cameron would go skipping along with Donald Trump dealing out free marshmallows for everyone no matter their race or tax band.

Simply put it’s just a movie! And she likely won’t get the role anyway, after all it was mostly suggested in fun…but if she does and it pisses you off: just don’t watch it. 

Oh and it should go without saying that these are not “real” quotes – as they were too depressing and depraved. Instead they are an entertaining amalgamation of the stuff I read. You’re welcome. No really, it’s nothing. Fine send some cake please.*

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Death of People.

People keep dying, and I wish we could do something about it.

Not actually stop people from dying in general you understand; I mean that would be ridiculous, a mad scheme of a raving lunatic…something you would pull from a bad science-fiction novel (or something I would write, which is effectively the same thing), so yeah – no. Instead I am suggesting maybe some sort of system where we know when people will say goodbye to the physical world as we know it. That’s all. 

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I’ll let the technological boffins see to the details and the fine-tuning of the actual logistics of such a thing; I’m more of the Steve Jobs in this situation, barking out grandiose ideas and then coming back once they’re all done to unveil the finished article, (and then taking all the glory). 

You see, I don’t like waking up to news about family who have passed away, which seemed to happen a lot in recent years…and I also don’t like hearing some of my favourite people from the world of celebrity are no longer with us. Just this year we’ve had David Bowie and Alan Rickman, last year it was Gunnar Hansen (Leatherface from the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre), and then 2014 saw the untimely exit of Robin Williams, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Richard Attenborough – I MEAN COME ON! IT’S RELENTLESS!

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You see it’s not just those that are directly related to us that matter. The death of a beloved celebrity can be extremely personal…it goes a lot deeper than just people on the screen, or voices that sing on the radio. Those which connect to us on a deeper level become part of our lives, and as such part of our entire human existence. A movie which once provoked a feeling will forever be remembered, a song can become the background music for an entire section of our life or can spark a memory of past friendships, accomplishments, and possibly even failures. And so when these people leave us, seemingly so abruptly, it feels as if a piece of us has been lost – cut out with a crude tool leaving a Snape sized hole (or whatever it may be!)  where he used to be nestled so comfortably moments before.

It’s the shock which is half of the problem. They’re here, and then the next day they’re suddenly not. Of course the fact that such a life countdown device (still working on a more catchy name) is not available at the moment means we can only attempt to grasp life with as much passion and vigor as humanely possible. We have no choice but to abide by the unforgiving rules of our species, and try to treasure the here and now as that’s all we have. And anyway do you really think a Starman or wizard can ever truly die? No fucking way…not when we can always relisten and rewatch. And even in the void their physical death leaves, you can never scrub away the lasting impression their short burst of life gave you…

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I hate the idea of resting in peace – I’d much rather they dance vividly in my memories, just as they did before their deaths…that, in my opinion, is a much better way to view such bitter sadness.

p.s. don’t steal my idea, there’s a patent pending – cheers.

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Please buy my collection of stories! Get it in paperback here – or on Kindle here! ALL proceeds go towards Macmillan Cancer Support, a charity which tries to fight against that which Bowie and Rickman sadly suffered from – let’s do something to change this once and for all. 

Thank you so much ~

Bombing Innocents in the Name of Peace

“…the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”

– Hermann Göring in an interview during the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials (18th April 1946)

A mere few hours after the UK parliament voted to authorise airstrikes in Syria – British fighter jets have returned after bombing the first of presumably many Islamic state targets…evidently Cameron and his applauding war-hungry cronies were readying the big red button even as the “debate” was going on…more than ready to flex and pose in order to keep up with big brother of the US:

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In a world in which there are so many detractors that are more than happy to speak out against the disgracefully unfair and obvious propaganda driven politics which encircle the likes of countries such as North Korea…why then is it not as apparent that our political representatives are employing the very same offensive rhetoric as them? We have David Cameron bumbling away claiming the bombing and consequent loss of innocent lives, is the only way to keep the “woman raping, Muslim murdering, medieval monsters” of Isis at bay…and that they are “plotting to kill us and to radicalise our children right now.” This is obvious emotive political tactics dispatched with the sole intention of hoping people rid themselves of their logical faculties and instead devolve to caveman-esque reasoning: “UGGG…don’t take baby and woman – they my baby and woman.” 

But no. Many are falling for it – and with 397 MPs voting FOR, and only 223 AGAINST airstrikes it appears even the political elite are just as easy to convince. 

I find it especially odd that our dear sworn and trusted protector, David Cameron, is suddenly displaying so much compassion towards the British people when in the past it has lacked so heavily. The claim that he just wants what is best for us and that his main aim is simply to “keep the British safe” will likely be news to the millions of people currently suffering as a direct result of his strict and uncompromising austerity measures. Let’s not forget for a second that back in 2010, the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government announced the biggest cuts to state spending since the Second World War…hacking away at social security and the NHS without a degree of sympathy, cutting a potential of 900,000 public sector jobs between 2011 and up till 2018…add to that the tax and welfare changes implemented between 2010 and 2014 which saw the poorest tenth of the population hit the hardest by far, (38 per cent decrease in net income for 2010-15), whilst by contrast the richest tenth, Cameron’s BFFs, lost the least: it isn’t surprising that many are baffled that he could ever say he wants what is best for us with a straight face.

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But yeah, thanks so much for keeping us safe mate, you’re a real diamond! What would we do without you?

Despite the self-patting on the back, high fives, and raucous applause after Hilary Benn’s speech, which would likely make any sane non-bloodthirsty person weep whilst also being sick – I still feel that his empty and overly simplistic words only further cement the idea that adding our own stamp to the  3,000+ airstrikes against Syria since 2014 is likely a bad idea…apparently they hold “our democracy in contempt” – but so do the MPs on our own turf when they choose to go against what their constituents want, instead choosing to side with superpowers and mega corporations.

Oh, and in totally unrelated news: the targets of the airstrikes will largely be focused around the lucrative gas and oil fields Isis are holding on to at the moment. Just saying, sure there’s no link…but, thought it was worth mentioning. Who will hold on to those once this battle is finally over I wonder?

But let’s not focus on facts, we don’t need those that’s what has became obvious. Case in point in what was a rather grimly ironic announcement, Cameron cited British intelligence (something which appears to be severely lacking in the House of Commons) to put forth the claim that there are  approximately 70,000 non-extremist Syrian opposition fighters who are available on the ground to potentially help overcome Isis. But here’s where the intelligence runs thin and the pig-headed (no pun intended!) stupidity comes in…you see even if we were to believe these numbers – they are still not sourced from one unified group; in actual fact they are a mad mish-mash of over 100 smaller ones, most of which are too preoccupied with Assad’s Syrian army to be open to the distraction of putting their lives on the line against Isis to help out the west.

I mean everyone from Jeremy Corbyn to Vladimir Putin has pointed out the blatant discrepancies in just about every part of the west’s role in this conflict…but when it comes to actual answers he’s a slippery man to hold down:

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This is Cameron’s third large scale intervention, Libya, Iraq and now Syria…and despite this he was still so quick to ask “if not now, when?” as if it was a foregone conclusion that at some point we would definitely be dropping bombs on innocent houses in the mad campaign against a limited terrorist group. But my question would be, when will we learn? If not now, then when? Because so far we haven’t learned a single thing…anyone with a single brain cell can work out that none of the wars launched by the UK and US from Afghanistan in 2001, Iran in 2003, or Libya in 2011 have ended – as millions still suffer from those reckless and ill-advised decisions – and the recent vote and airstrikes will make that number even more…but who cares when we stand to make such a ginormous profit from a false imperialistic war?! Just as we always do…selling on weapons, and plundering countries for resources.

Well only the people seem to give a shit, or even spare a second thought for the innocents trapped in the middle of this terrifying nightmare. But it’s more clear than ever that the politicians are only in it for themselves. I feel entirely diminished and powerless due to this harrowing news…and have no idea where to go from here…I used to think that we were the good guys – now I’m not so sure.

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Oh, and finally I must add that Bridget Phillipson the MP from my hometown (Houghton & Sunderland South) voted FOR airstrikes and I am utterly ashamed. I am however, relieved to see that her views do not reflect that of her constituents…or at least none of which who are my friends anyway. 

Horrendous: Life is a Climb

Life is absolutely horrible: sort of. You struggle, and struggle, and struggle…then have a burger and a beer(s) which helps you momentarily forget about it for a bit…and then – more of the same. Toiling ruthlessly for little reward, receiving a catalogue of “NO, NO, NO”s until you are a skeletal husk devoid of ambition…or perhaps even worse wistfully dreaming away each day as you sit shackled to a desk in a job you despise, and with a boss you would happily run over accidentally/on purpose…

(Don’t worry I’ll keep it a secret, and help you bury the…shhhh, never mind…keep it moving. Email me when the job is done…)

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As much as the internet would like you suggest otherwise with the endless positive blogs and braggadocious Instagram posts displaying fantastical lives devoid of any rainstorms whatsoever…life is largely about delayed happiness, rather than an endless shower of chicken and mushroom pies. Case in point my mother has promised me one of these homemade wonders when I pop back to visit for Christmas…I am literally counting down the days – I wish I could have it on the daily, but nooo!

I’ll get to the point shall I? Well, yes…I have been hiking a bit recently, and by a bit I mean I hiked two different mountains the past two Sundays and won’t be doing it again for the rest of this year – and possibly/definitely for the rest of my life. But whilst doing this I had a thought…you see on the way up I was pathetically scrabbling slowly and not so surely, sweating buckets, breathing more heavily than Darth Vader after running two marathons…and basically just wishing I would conveniently slip of the cliff to my death just to give my burning thighs a break…

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And yet, when I was coming down…there was a new lease of life…and I enjoyed every bouncing step as I hopped from rock to rock quickly descending down the same paths that I had once struggled so horrendously with just moments before. I was Aragon,  I was Legolas…in actual fact I probably looked like Gimli – but fuck it I was doing it, and enjoying every second of it!

You see that’s how life is…and I’m okay with it. You have to take the rough with the smooth, and the good with the bad. Sometimes the hard work takes a long time, and the rewards come in a short and limited burst…but rather than fret about this we should just enjoy it! I’m working a lot now – my schedule is much more packed than I would like – but I know that I have a few months of travelling coming up next year...and then it will be back to the grind, wherever and whatever that may be. 

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But I will have those memories, I’ll have seen those places, laughed with friends and cried with family. So as horrendous as things can be – I will always try to treasure the fleeting joy on the way down…

Hope you do too. 

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Please buy my collection of stories! Get it in paperback here – or on Kindle here! ALL proceeds go towards Macmillan Cancer Support!