NEWS: Everything Fun KILLS You.

Despite many attempting to campaign against the overwhelming facts – it has now been confirmed in no uncertain terms that everything that is fun does indeed kill you. As a direct result of these new findings bacon dispensers (like the one below) will be removed and destroyed, and there are plans in place to also make doughnuts and other sugary goods illegal.

Bacon Machine GIF

In response to this new development doctors are now suggesting something which most would consider to be controversial; that you end your life as soon as possible, as there really is nothing to live for anymore…

One of these left-wing doctors is Dr. Madeup, and he had this to say:

“The thing is, the data is there for all to see: so if you wish to ignore it and carry on living then that is your personal decision…I am simply suggesting to my patients and the rest of the world alike that their quality of life will invariably be greatly  affected when you take away such things as alcohol, drugs, laziness and bacon…which despite being the most fun things available in the universe – are all things which can kill, or at the very least make you very very dead.”

People have fought back against this model of thinking, deeming it to be limiting and close-minded…but none can really discount the actual reality; that there is a moving scale between ‘fun’ and ‘health’ – which consequently means the more healthy a thing is, the less fun it is: and vice-versa. Take intensive exercise for an example; it makes you feel physically sick and often like dying would be a more preferable alternative…but is reportedly good for you. And yet on the other hand a bacon triple cheeseburger with extra cheese, extra bacon, and extra anything your heart desires – is reportedly bad for you…despite feeling like a warm and loving hug in a bun. It’s no wonder then that so many people are confused due to this huge discrepancy…  

Bacon Banana GIF

I interviewed somewhere between 0 and 1,000,000 people in the hope of gauging public opinion on this subject, and every single one of them seemed to feel the same way, namely; let down, disappointed and in some cases morbidly depressed at the horrific state of the world’s future.

One person in particular still echoes in my head:

“It’s crazy, you know? I used to think bacon was truly good for me – I mean it made me feel great: like a supportive spouse but…food, you know? So I had it on everything; bread, pasta, pizza, cereal, erm…my windowsill. So to hear so suddenly that it is unhealthy and a leading cause of cancer – well, I just feel betrayed by scientists. They led us to believe it was pretty much a salad…”

 What will happen next is unclear, but leading well-respected authorities including Colonel Sanders, Ronald McDonald, and The Burger King are all united in their stances – that we are now entering a post-apocalyptic era…but not exciting like The Hunger Games or Mad Max – and there seems to be nothing we can do about it…

Please Note: It has also been suggested by a few radical scientists that life itself kills and that we will all inevitably die one day; but these rumours have been widely discredited by most skeptics.

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How to (Pretend) to be a Human.

I just read through, well attempted to read through – an entire list of things that make up what it means to be the ‘Modern Man’.

Well it should go without saying that it made me violently sick…after all, lists of that kind can only ever be restrictive and judgmental…sort of like; “this is the way you should do things and if you do anything else then you are a massive knob head who no one could possibly ever love.” That’s all I hear anyway – there’s just something off about it, something not quite right. I don’t get why people believe there is a fixed way to behave; what a drearily dull place it would be if we were all just dragging ourselves around humming the same tune and exchanging pleasantries until one day we are in the ground.

Which is why I am creating my own set of principles in which we can all live by as semi-functioning humans…I know, I know – there’s a glaring hypocrisy in all of this, but think of it like religion: mine is completely 100% correct, and all others are a steaming pile of shit. Hmm…did I just compare myself to Jesus? Well, perhaps. That’s for you to decide, although I don’t have a beard which may be a drawback…every good messiah needs a beard. Dammit. Fell at the first hurdle…urgh – but still yes, listen to what I have to say (please). 

ANYWAY. So,  every good human needs to keep a few things in mind as they go about their business otherwise he/she will likely be burned at the stake or cast out into the wilderness and banished from the office kingdom. Thankfully I have the scoop on what these criteria are, so you have no reason to worry. The chances of the aforementioned happening to you are now a lot slimmer*…you’re welcome. 

1.) Every human needs to be able to pretend to be a “Good Loser” – (whatever that is…)

Good Job GIF

Remember that life is about loss – we lose our child-like fascination, we lose our hope, we lose our hair, and then we lose our marbles…so you sure as hell better get used to losing. Consequently mastering sentences such as “Oh that’s great.”, “I’m so happy for you.”, or “You are absolutely amazing!” when you lose, or someone else achieves something, is vital for your survival…bonus points are awarded if you do it without a sarcastic tone or aggressive bestial snarl…advanced humans will also master the art of refraining from puncturing the winner’s tires, or throwing a brick through their window (although it is understood this is rather difficult to avoid at times). 

2.) Every human needs to pretend to only have community-approved obsessions:

Weirdo GIF

For some unknown reason some obsessions are deemed okay, and others are thought of as psychopathic…and often verge on the criminal side of things. For example if you announce you are “obsessed” with Game of Thrones, or with collecting fridge magnets – you may be thought of as pretty typical, or at worst quirky. However if you were to cheerfully let people know that you like catching, skinning and disemboweling vermin around your city, and occasionally attempt botched  Frankenstien-esque experiments on them…you are suddenly branded as a “weirdo”. It’s a strange world, and one I don’t particularly understand – but sadly that’s reality: some obsessions are okay, and some aren’t. You can check if your obsession is regarded as peculiar by practicing on strangers in the street…just walk up and let them know – if they run away as soon as you start talking, then it’s probably best to keep that one to yourself.

3.) Every human should pretend the internet is a bad thing:

Hate Computers GIF

This is one that baffles researchers everywhere but again appears to be a trend that cannot be shaken…despite the clear evidence that the internet is absolutely fantastic, most humans enjoy divulging the conclusion that they hate Facebook, or that they are sick of Twitter, or that Wikipedia is awful…usually this is told across some form of social media which only creates even more confusion. So even though you likely spend a tremendous deal of time watching great YouTube videos, or you learn something new everyday thanks to Google, or you never have to leave the house to buy stuff because of a whole host of online stores…it is best that you claim everything to the contrary. The most typical lines are; “I hate Instagram – why do I want to see people’s food? I don’t care if they starve or not.”, “I absolutely hate getting music for free, why can’t we just pay for the album which only has one good song on, like the good old days?!” and my personal favourite – “if it wasn’t for the internet, I would have written 400 best selling novels by now!” 

4.) Every human should pretend they never ever see difference, because no one is different:

Copy GIF

Yes we look different, yes we live in different places, yes we have been brought up in different cultures, yes we speak different languages, and yes we are blatantly different…but listen to me clearly; we are not different. Say it with me…“WE ARE NOT DIFFERENT.” Well done, great job – now say it with a more confident tone, you don’t sound like you believe it.

And you must, it is paramount to every human remaining in good favor. To suggest otherwise is to face the firing squad. Even if you embrace difference as a clear positive thing, in which we can all come together as a global community and learn from one another – you are still considered to be an enormous prick who doesn’t deserve friends. You are boxing people in, and it’s rude to put people in boxes (it’s cramped and there is poor lighting). 

5.) Every human should pretend their current job was always their dream job:

Ken GIF

Do you remember when you were a lot younger and you dreamed of the adult days which would be whiled away without rules, and limitations…where every day would be filled with aspirations waiting to be met, and ambitions waiting to be embraced…where you would spend the morning eating your weight in bacon, but still looking amazing, and then spend the afternoon rapping your latest hot single to thousands of adoring fans…possibly in the evening you may fit in a stand up show if you can be bothered to drag yourself away from your hot tub…yeah? Sounds great, right!?

WELL NO IT DOES NOT – THAT WAS A TRICK QUESTION, IT SOUNDS DREADFUL.

What you actually find as you grow from a smaller more positive human to a larger and more miserable version of a human, is that all of that was an illusion and you didn’t ever want it in the first place; and that coincidentally what you really wanted was to take calls from angry old ladies, get screamed at by a moron boss, and spend every morning weeping. So please at least pretend to tow the line…keep it on the low if you are doing anything that brings colour to your life, and certainly don’t openly wish for something more…apart from winning the lottery, people are allowed to do that apparently…

Done GIF

So there you have it, you are looking more like a regular human already! I can sense the dissatisfaction in your attitude, the redness in your eyes, and the look of desperation in your furrowed brow! Great job! Go forth and repress yourself!

*you could still be burned at the stake, sent out in exile, or find yourself friend-less – Storytime with John offers no guarantees. 

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Food Giant (Top 5)

Travel broadens your mind – that seems to be the consensus among most people…well yeah sure, I guess – but one of the best things about travel, no joke; is the new food you get to sample and consequently fall in love with!

This is my top five list…I honestly could have did a top fifty…yes, I am that greedy…anyway, here it goes:

5. 热干面  (China)

Whilst in Wuhan, China – I found that the area’s traditional dish  热干面 (rè gān miàn) was just sensational…it isn’t going to sound like anything too special – but the simple collaboration of flavours just worked so well! Think boiled spaghetti, peanut butter (well, sesame sauce), and chopped carrot…sounds disgusting? It was AMAZING! And at 30p (50¢?) a pop, there’s only one winner! ME, AND MY DAILY HABIT!

4. Escargot (France)

As a child the thought of eating snails…was…well…unthinkable – after all they look like little alien creatures from the planet Zoozlax! Butttt, in reality escargot are beyond delicious! It could be argued that anything would taste wonderful if it was smothered in enough garlic butter…but still…wow – oh yeah, and then get some freshly baked bread; dip it in there…wow x2.

3. Bernerwurst (Austria)

Austria disappointed me a little, sure they had spectacular cakes – and equally good coffee (100 automatic points to Gryffindor!) but other than that I didn’t find anything too special…that was until I had a couple of hours spare at the airport…that’s when I met my soulmate; the Bernerwurst. This beautiful thing, oh my goodness – so it’s a sausage, stuffed with cheese, and then wrapped in bacon. It’s enough to give you a heart attack just thinking about it…but you would die happy, VERY happy.

2. Haggis (Scotland)

One of my all-time favourites is Haggis – I bet I can make your mouth water with this one… so think of the liver, lungs, and heart of a sheep – all chopped up, mixed with other stuff, and then shoved back into a sheep’s stomach before being boiled, and served. Delightful. It may sound like the menu of a post-apocalyptic world, but it is actually gorgeous…you can get it at my local chippy back home. It’s just amazing. I can’t even find the words…

1. 샤브 샤브 (South Korea)

샤브 샤브 (shabu-shabu) is actually a Korean twist of a Japanese dish…and it is my number one favourite thing to do on a Sunday…you know, when you have a full day free to GORGE yourself. It also introduces a little bit of Vietnamese style cooking, so it is a huge beautiful mix of different flavours! You have the pot in the middle, that you may put noodles, rice, veggies – whatever! And then around the side there is a hot plate that you cook up pork, and beef strips…

I returned to my old neighborhood recently, with the sole intention of going back to the 샤브 샤브  restaurant I loved so much…it had closed down (probably because they temporarily lost their best customer) – I cried…I broke down…and I haven’t been the same since.

Notebook Fries GIF

Anyway, so recounting all of these ridiculously delicious dishes, just made me very, very, HUNGRY. I am off to eat myself to an early grave…I guess the diet is off, I shouldn’t have started this…

What are some of your favourite dishes? (This has to be one of my most loved things to discuss!)

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A Caged Bird (Poem)

{I see myself, but it doesn’t look like me,

I see myself – but what should I be?

Yes, what should I be? And what should I become?

Be a dreamer – or achiever – you can only pick one.}

Ohhh, you want the bullet train to fame my boy?”

No, no, no! Just the mega bus away from plain and tame, would be a joy!

Well fucking stop that thought.”

Nothing good happens here.”

Oh, you’re into the arts? HA, HA, HA, must be a queer!”

Fuck off to London if that’s what you want – but know this,

we all think you’re an absolute cunt.”

{I want to think outside the box,

but I don’t have the keys to this cage,

I try every possibility in the locks,

that get rusty with age.}

HA! You don’t know about life! We struggle and strive, 9 to 5 that we hate, but we can barely survive, we buy things that we don’t want with credit we can’t pay, we turn on the television – it’s shit – but we watch anyway, we can’t wait for retirement, man that’ll be the day! We‘ll get to sit on our arse till we’re dead – ahh, bliss, don’t ya say?”

{I can see this for myself, but it doesn’t look like me,

I can see this for myself, but it’s something I don’t want to be.

Yes, there’s what I should be, and what I want to become,

I don’t want to cut my roots…I just want to grow: till my days are done.}

~~~

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What is a Quarter-Life Crisis?

There’s much talk of ‘The Quarter Life Crisis’ nowadays…which seems to have toppled talk of ‘The Mid-Life Crisis’; a phrase I remember hearing a lot more of as a child in the 90s, on occasions when grown ups were behaving strangely and actually having fun – and when people who should know better were seemingly refusing to “act their age”. For instance if a man traded in his people carrier for a sports car he was essentially bordering on a nervous break down, or if a woman divorced a horrid specimen after many unhappy years she was considered an unstable wreck, or if a quiet balding office worker married his pet goat and began a passionate love affair he was somehow “weird”…well no more. That sort of rhetoric has been well and truly left behind and in its place a “you only live once” motto plaque has been welded down for the foreseeable future.

Yolo GIF

Loathe that phrase…but I can’t deny it’s cultural implications.

I am sure like most people you are happy to see such a positive switch; after all the true crisis is that we will all be in the ground soon enough (sorry for reminding you)…so why not dye your hair, get a tattoo, or go skydiving? What the hell does it really matter in the scheme of things? It’s just a way to get more out of life’s short flickering flame after all…not so much as a denouncement of adulthood, but rather as an opposition to a life of repetitive boredom…which unfortunately appears to be synonymous with that old bland chestnut which is “growing up”…

You see in my eyes therein lies the problem, and subsequently where the rise of ‘The Quarter Life Crisis’ is rooted…it’s a clash between the old and the new, the free and the hideously boring monotony, the ice cream for breakfast and the olives on your pizza. It’s a trade off between the old ideals of childhood and the established (but thankfully changing) fundamental stipulations of what it is to be an adult. Because of these clashes it is only natural to freak out and scream “I DON’T WANT THIS!”, when the realization sets in that being a grown up isn’t just bouncing around spending money, doing things, and eating carbohydrates for every meal…although for some that is pretty much it. Not naming names. But…erm…yeah.

Lazy GIF

Not me mind you…not even once – oh no…

But this sort of inward nervousness isn’t a new concept, and most certainly isn’t true of only the present batch of disenchanted twenty-somethings. Far from it. One of my favourite authors Bret Easton Ellis has spoken extensively on the subject, stating it was the ammunition for a lot of his early work…here are a few of his alarmingly relatable words in an interview a few years back:

“A lot of it had to do with my frustration with having to become an adult and what it meant to be an adult male in American society. I didn’t want to be one, because all it was about was status. Consumerist success was really the embodiment of what it meant to be a cool guy—money, trophy girlfriends, nice clothes, and cool cars. It all seemed extremely shallow to me. Yet at the same time you have an urge to conform. You want to be part of the group. You don’t want to be shunned.”

And that’s what it is, this battle…this struggle…this inner-wrestling of two completely opposing worlds. Which side wins however – is largely up to you. As negative as this whole ‘Quarter-Life Crisis’ can be, I think it is helpful in molding yourself a platform on which you can continue to develop and prosper. It’s about reevaluating who you are, and where you want to go. It’s about saying which things you feel comfortable with dropping, and which things you will never let go of (such as watching Spongebob, or enjoying every side of the Marvel world) – this is your life, and you should never have to change when you don’t want to. Don’t be guilt-tripped into losing your identity just because you’re being falsely labelled as a “man-child”“kidult”, or whatever other dumb phrase the jealous masses will spew out…

After all a life of freedom, mobility, and sugary snacks is surely the dream…and you very well may be living it…so if so; keep on truckin’ – OH, LOOK OUT! IT’S BEHIND YOU!

Responsibility GIF

YOU’LL NEVER CATCH ME AAAALLLLIIIIVE!

Get out there and live your life, don’t worry about what other people say and what other people expect from you. However it’s certain a vague plan can’t hurt; it will provide clarity and purpose to the route you are taking towards your future, and will somewhat diminish those “what the hell am I doing with my life?!” feelings. Even if it’s as simple as: “attempt to make world’s largest cheese sandwich” at least you are remaining true to your character, and with it aiming to fulfill your deepest dreams and ambitions. That’s what it is all about after all.

Good luck, and kindly please stop freaking out: Cheers!

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The Age of Wisdumb

I’ve noticed something lately, and I can’t seem to get away from it wherever I turn…it’s on every corner, on every page, on every video, and on every programme…I suppose it’s always been there to some extent – it’s just that now it seems to be reaching alarmingly high levels…

I’m not sure what set this in motion exactly; perhaps it can be linked to the  climate of dumbed down media, or the rise of questionable facts in the form of the internet (oh hi there Doctor Wikipedia!) – or maybe, just maybe there’s some weird X-Files type stuff going on with the water supply (excuse me while I adjust my tin-foil hat…but let’s not rule anything out) – ahem yeah – but seriously whatever the legitimate reason(s) are, the unfortunate situation still remains the same:

…that I feel like I’m surrounded by people with little to no knowledge about fucking anything, who still feel that they have all the answers.  I mean just look around; no one is willing to learn, or should I say…no one is willing to admit their ignorance…and because of this these clueless morons feel they don’t need to be taught as they already have quite enough false wisdom to last for all of eternity…

Dumb and Dumber GIF

And that’s precisely why I have begun referring to this epidemic of prolonged stupidity as ‘The Age of Wisdumb’…gone are the days of the apprentice learning from the master – as in its place we have now replaced that entire archaic story arc with something else…that of the completely unaware but confidently vitriolic humanoid who is always sat in front of his/her computer spouting off hatred and self-assured claims at regular intervals through a variety of different social media platforms…how lovely.

But wait – don’t poor sods like this need guidance then? Instruction from the seasoned masters as they are nothing but empty beginners? Shouldn’t  they seek out the help of someone who has been there and done that, so that they can try and educate and better themselves?

Well no…they don’t have to do any of that silly stuff – as they’ve already watched “like a gajillion YouTube videos”, are rarely not searching something up on Google, and even tune into the news every now and again to keep up on current events…

And it is these reasons, and these reasons alone why many in this cycle have employment positions on Facebook which are legitimately listed as ‘BOSS at GETTIN DAT MONEY’…or something along those lines anyway! Because they’re blatantly all bosses, and they’re blatantly all getting that money.

So anyway, in this world where it is so easy to crown yourself a king, queen, or indeed the aforementioned boss – despite the fact you haven’t done a single thing to  warrant possessing these lofty impressive titles – there is a lot less motivation when it comes to actually working hard, and picking up knowledge through true experience to achieve something real. I mean, why would you do that when there is seemingly an endless supply of easy short cuts?

Short Cut GIF

Think about The Lion King…without his father’s tutelage Simba would have been even more of an arrogant prick than he was as a kid, and would never have grown into the fine figure of a lion that he ended up being in the end. Or what about the Karate Kid, and Mr. Miagi’s “wax on, wax off” training? Or Star Wars, and Yoda?  The Mask of Zorro? Leon?! The list goes on, but they always follow the same perfect formula; young yet enthusiastic characters eagerly  soaking up vital life lessons from seasoned veterans…and despite the initial frustration of having to accept that they basically know nothing; they end up better, stronger, and smarter as a result of listening to their respective “master” figure.

But consider the storylines of those well-known films set in our present culture – they would be very, very different! I mean take Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back just for one of many examples…

Yoda: “A Jedi uses the force for knowledge and defense, never for attack.”

Luke: “Pfft! Fuck you, don’t tell me what to do – I’mma boss! I’m out of here.”

Yoda: “That is why you fail.”

Luke: “Yeah whatever you lil’ scrotum face – never preach to me again!”

Yoda GIF

Sorry Yoda. That wisdumb has people talking recklessly these days…

But what’s the reason for all of this all of this ignorant flexing? Why is it that people seem to feel it demeans them to admit not being anything but an expert? Why do so many consider that asking for help or guidance makes you a weaker individual? It’s simply ridiculous…

Take myself for an example – I used to be shy and unsure of what I’m really about…you know, who I am. But nowadays I can be rather unequivocal in my self-assessment: which is that I am a complete and utter moron. I pretty much know nothing! Actually every day I find out new things, which were actually just the old things I was supposed to learn but didn’t ever get right the first time around…so in essence I know less than nothing – which is actually quite liberating in its own lobotomized way. (If not a smidge patronising and depressing).

But other people don’t appear to share my acceptance of my own lack of functioning brain cells…and this coupled with the fact that we don’t really have heroes anymore (not like we used to anyway) – spells disaster. Or to cut to the point directly, it leaves us with a long line of people who aim for overnight celebrity as opposed to something more lasting and meaningful

Fist Pump GIF

Because why not, right?

(Alright anyway, so suspend disbelief for the next little bit please). You see, I could theoretically make a rap song like the above with a controversial video…and go from a resolute nobody to an overnight success (my rap name would be MC Sukkadick and the song would be called “I Hate Everyone’s Grandma”; just so you know) – and then the established artists would be calling up to collaborate in a desperate attempt to stay relevant with what they see as the fresh new talent just because it’s catchy and people are clicking on it a bit. So when the consumer sees things like this happen then the idea of putting in work, building your craft, taking notes from those before you, and basically having heroes you model yourself after is, well…lost. And in it’s place we have a whole slew of entitled, and impatient characters, eager for instant-gratification despite putting in next to no hustle…

Or simply put we have a burgeoning population of overly-confident but largely non-skilled people who preach their wisdumb across social media – and this really upsets my miniature low-functioning brain and I; it really does. Because what they could be doing is listening to those before them, making plans and sticking to them, working hard and following their deepest ambitions even during the hard times, and eventually taking pride in all they  accomplish.

Rather than say…taking a picture of their butt for the entire world in the hope of a few likes. Or taking a video which humiliates their best friend in the hope it will go viral. It’s like…why?

Urghhhh…just take a look around these days, it’s bleak –  there seems to be a lot less artistry and creativity out there than before, but a whole load more content. Largely because there seems to be a lot less people respecting and taking unofficial lessons from those before them; instead people point and say, “if you can do it I can”…which is true, but isn’t so if you skip all of the years of tutelage, hard graft, and knockbacks. So perhaps it’s time we dropped the wisdumb so many seem to be holding on to, and started to seek out wisdom instead…as it’s only through that in which we can truly grow.

Just ask Luke Skywalker…

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The Rocking Chair Theory

Sometimes you see something and it sparks a whole chain of thought almost immediately…often it’s in things you don’t expect, and from places you wouldn’t have guessed – but despite this it feels central to your life in some way…as if it has always been a part of you, even if you hadn’t realized it before. I mean…if it wasn’t, why would you suddenly feel so strongly about it?

Safe Life

Anyway, that’s how I felt today when I stumbled across this photograph and caption on the Humans of New York Facebook page…

And no, settle down…it wasn’t because I saw the bit about STDs. It was just because I realized that despite also being quite a cautious person I am forever attempting to push myself free from those “hmmm, maybe I shouldn’t” shackles so that I can hopefully live a life well lived, rather than a one full of safe regret instead…

Mind I’m not calling this fella a square because he hasn’t ever had a battle with chlamydia…there’s every cause for congratulations in that respect – however it did sadden me that his words have such a final tone to them…even though I imagine his life is far from over…I mean, there’s still plenty of time for him to volunteer in Africa, develop a drinking problem, become addicted to crystal meth, and/or blow his  life savings on cocaine fueled hookers. So why the negativity? Stop wasting time, and get on with it! 

Seriously though…people often say things like: “that’s something to tell the grandchildren!” when they do something out of the ordinary, or have an experience that is half-way interesting…and I suppose it’s this miserable fear of sitting in a rocking chair at 80 years old with nothing interesting to say that motivates me to push on and fill my life’s tapestry with weird and wonderful stuff! You only get one life to live, and all that lark…right? And I don’t want my most thrilling tale to be something about how milk and eggs used to be a lot cheaper, “back in my day…” as I slurp on soup, and fill a plastic bag with pee…

With that said being a cautious person is not entirely a bad thing, and you certainly shouldn’t relinquish control completely, that could prove to be disastrous! In fact, it actually reminds me of a situation a few years back where I found myself cornered in a Sunderland bar in the early hours of the morning – you see a possibly (definitely) psychotic football hooligan had taken an interest in me and wouldn’t let me go…he was too engrossed in his life story, which included a penchant for stabbing police officers in the neck with broken plastic pens during riots – and a claim that he will never stop doing heroin because it is “too fucking great to stop”. And whilst I must concede his sounded like a very interesting life to live – this is perhaps not my suggestion with this rambled post.

I would in actual fact suggest a person can still live a wonderful life even without stabbings, and heroin. I know, a controversial view – but I’m somewhat of a radical I guess! 

All it takes is simply loosening your grip on the “what ifs?” every so often…letting your guard down to different experiences, and occasionally pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. After all it is here where true rocking chair memories are made…

So why not get started today?

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Wake up, and Smell the Coffee

When I was in the USA, I lived in the midtown area of Atlanta…which was lovely! I was told this was the “gay area” by someone in hushed tones, but honestly I didn’t see the problem – all I saw were friendly strangers who liked to give compliments, and some great brunch establishments! How could anyone hate that?! Certainly always put a smile on my face!

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But anyway, this was a little far to travel for some friends who lived outside of the city, so I would hop on the MARTA train and meet them half-way at Bankhead Station…then we’d drive out to some random diner, restaurant, or coffee shop for a catch up on the latest shenanigans…

One of these times stands out, and has been turning over, and over, and over in my head recently – I’m sure it won’t take a genius to work out why…

On this occasion, four of us pulled into a quiet roadside place, and piled into one of the cushioned booths to get warm. A chirpy waiter came over immediately to take our orders…we were all pretty exhausted, so there was only one obvious choice for most! “Black coffee, please!” “Black coffee for me too!” “Yeah, black coffee – thanks.” 

He nodded and smiled, as he jotted it all down – before turning to me.

“Errrmmm…” I murmured, a little unsure as I stared at the menu. “Can I have white coffee please? I don’t really like it black.”

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There was a silence. A horrible, agonising silence. 

Everyone had their eyes fixed on me, I instantly turned the brightest of reds – as if a volcano had erupted in my face, and was attempting to force its way out through my ears…I had no clue as to what crime I had committed, but I was sorry all the same. I looked desperately at the faces of my friends, hoping one of them would throw me a life-line…all they threw me were looks of complete, and utter disbelief.

“Is that supposed to like…be funny? Because its not.” cautioned the waiter,

“Erm, no…not at all – you don’t…you don…you don’t have white coffee? I mean…wha?!”

The waiter looked across to my friends, as if to say; “who is this no-good piece of shit, and why do you even hang around with him at all? Can we shoot him in the head, once my shift finishes?” I wished that I hadn’t been so choosy, I could have just said “black coffee for me too!” and all of this mysterious awkwardness could have been avoided. I wriggled, and writhed in my seat – the leather sticking to my sweaty backside, as I prayed for the ground to swallow me up whole. I gave it one last try…

“Sorry…I want a WHITE COFFEE, PLEASE!” More stares, now there were some who were shaking their head – as if I had gone too far with a bad joke…this was past the point of humiliation, doubly so as I didn’t have a fucking clue what was going on! “Black coffee…you put milk in, and it’s white coffee. What…you don’t have milk in a coffee shop?!”

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“Ohhhhhhhh!” everyone chimed together, which instantly broke the awkward deadlock of silence. But I was still completely dumb-founded, my head bobbing from person to person hoping for an explanation. They laughed (a lot), but eventually told me I had incurred a rather regrettable mistake – and that it was probably best to not repeat it again, even if it is an everyday phrase in England. Ask for a coffee with milk, or a latte…or…anything but a fucking WHITE COFFEE! Well, you didn’t have to tell me twice! Jheez!

After all this they dropped me off at the station, and I was just looking forward to getting to bed – so I could forget about how shitty a person I was without even knowing. And I was in luck! The train was right there! Everything was coming up John, after all!

Not quite…ten minutes later, and I was still sat there – the train hadn’t moved an inch. I put my phone away, after all it was all full of white coffee jokes from the friends I had just left. I glanced to my left, and did a double take as I caught sight of some commotion in the opposite carriage…I moved for a better view, maybe this was the reason that…oh Jesus…fucking hell… 

There was a black man, lying there lifeless – with a puddle of blood around him. There were policeman murmuring into their radios, and a paramedic still desperately trying in vain to save the poor man…with blood all the way from his hands, to his elbows. I couldn’t make out much more than that.

I held my head in my hands, tears began to swell, as I began to struggle to breathe. I looked up at everyone else in my train carriage, I watched for their reactions which were basically just to glance over shrug, and go back to their phones, their books, their whatever else. “Babe, some guy’s dead. So I’ll be late.” I heard someone announce in a bored tone.

So wait…a man dies in a bloody fashion, and no one bats an eyelid? But I mistakenly use the wrong phrase when talking about a cup of coffee, and everyone loses their minds? Something’s wrong there, surely.

You see…I didn’t link the two like this till recently, they were just separate events in my head. But the two are unequivocally intertwined, I see that now.

We can’t just stress, and worry about words…and being “politically correct” or appearing to be a person of true compassion. REAL equality comes about with REAL action. Not just talking the talk. All of the horrendous news stories we have seen laid bare recently, SHOULD be sparking something inside of you…and that something shouldn’t be disdain for well meaning people like Benedict Cumberbatch…but more horror for corrupt, or racist individuals.

Please, don’t just look away – wake up, and smell the coffee – BE the change. 

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How to be Happy.

Everyone wants to be happy, and to live a happy life. It’s somewhat of a sweeping generalisation, I know…but one which pretty much holds true across the board.

I mean unless you’re a homicidal maniac who enjoys other people’s pain and suffering – or a gym enthusiast vegan who enjoys the masochistic pleasure of seemingly making yourself suffer. In those cases I can’t relate at all – but those folks would probably tell you (as you strap them into a straight-jacket) that they derive pleasure from those senseless acts, and consequently are happy, or at least are making a distinct effort to attain happiness…however bizarre it may appear to us regular humanoids.

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So basically, I’m still right…sort of.

And while you may be less inclined to trust in a no-good bum writer like myself, you’ll probably hold more hope in my old pal, Socrates – despite the fact he didn’t ever come up with any clear-cut suggestions as to how to actually be happy. But whatever…

John are you seriously saying you’re better than Socrates? Your ego is completely off the charts, good sir.”

Well, no – I’m just pointing out that I have a bit of a method to happiness that seems to work for me – and all he ever did was ponder, and deal in vague outlines about self-examination and virtues as with most philosophers of his time. 

Hmm, he’s widely considered to have played a fundamental part in the growth of Western thinking…are you sure you’re not just jealous of his luscious beard? Because you can’t grow a proper one?”

Unfair, and mean – next question.

John you’re writing this yourself. Just stop if you’re going to be a baby about it – you’re coming across as a lunatic as it is. Also, we’re out of milk – get some next time you’re out please.”

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Ahem, sorry about that. But I mean yeah, he was a smart bloke and all – so I’m not saying I wouldn’t have invited him to the pub every once in a while; he believed in the study of reason, the search of truth, and the admittance of our own ignorance, which all sounds dandy. But he had no ready answers, which I’m sure would get frustrating after the seventh or eighth pint. In fact I could imagine waiting for him to use the gents, and then darting out to another pub to find some more digestible truth there; probably revolving around sports, and a drunken take on world events. After all it’s usually the simple things, you know? And he sure did make it very hard work for people…

But the thing is happiness doesn’t have to be a cloudy pie in the sky sort of deal…in fact I think your pie should be right here, right now – with as many toppings and sauces as you please, and with no guilt over eating the last slice, ever. (Is this still just a metaphor? Way too into it!) 

Admittedly Socrates said something similar to this, when he stated we should actively pursue happiness through our actions and that it is in this exploration that we will expand our consciousness and become happier in the process…

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….but as usual the most important element (the ‘how?!’) was neglected…perhaps he kept it in his beard, and only showed his closest friends…the selfish creature. But as I don’t have a beard, I will share my little pearl of wisdom in the hope that it can boost your overall happiness levels. It won’t quite have you doing a moonwalk on a rainbow (unless you mix my guidance with LSD – which you are welcome to try if you are over the age of eleven) but it should provide less misery, and a greater feeling of contentedness. 

So this is it, and it isn’t much really: 

But each and every year I try and better the last one…I try to put more into my passions, and more effort into my writing. I try to say “yes” to more opportunities, to take more trips, and to experience a wider range of what this wonderful earth has to offer. I try to keep in touch with family and old friends with more regularity, and try to tell those I love that I love them more often. Basically I try to be a better version of myself from top to bottom with every passing year…the keyword being “try”. 

Sometimes it doesn’t work out – sometimes life serves you up a poop sandwich, with an extra side of poop fries (instead of that delicious pie in the sky), but when it does you have to keep going… and keep trying. It’s as simple as that. Personally I’ve had a very difficult year so far for numerous reasons…but it has taken till now to shake myself free and remember that I need to keep up that pursuit of happiness (cheers Socrates, mate) – the future, and my subsequent happiness is in my own hands. 

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So as you read this I am planning four different 2015 trips in four different countries…one which is a Christmas visit home (WOOOO!), I’m also editing down a new comedy video, and finally working on my dark humour novel again. I just need to send a nice email to my parents, and I’m golden!

But yeah, that’s it folks. Find the things that matter to you, the things that make you feel that warm fuzzy Teletubbies belly feeling, and then make steps to do them as often as possible. Happiness will follow. 

Whatever you do, don’t just accept misery…you deserve happiness, just the same as everyone. 

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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!

What’s the Point? (Existential Crisis)

Life. We slave away at jobs we don’t care about, or chase dreams that only ourselves can ever truly be invested in…and for what? I mean it doesn’t really matter, any of it – apart from for selfish reasons which in their very essence are dumb and somewhat childlike; they’re all – “I WANT THIS…I WANT TO BE THIS…I WANT TO GO HERE” as we kick our feet, and throw our metaphorical toys out of the pram hoping God, fate, or the universe will cut us a break.

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Okay, but gimme a nice house and a few human beings who think I’m great…

But the fact is I could get ran over by a bus tomorrow – POOF! Gone. Well…not really ‘POOF’ it’s not a magic trick…there would be a lot more moaning, screaming, and guts as opposed to wizardy and showmanship, but still; there would be a brief moment and then I would be no more. People would be all sad for a bit, and then life would roll on. And in the larger scheme of the universe nothing would have happened at all! You see let’s be honest, the Moon would look the other way, the sun wouldn’t care, and Pluto wouldn’t even hear about it! The self-serving bastards…urgh…

So what’s the answer to this depressing situation? Well I’ve googled it and there isn’t a real one, so apologies in advance. Instead all we can do is black it all out with drink, drugs, and/or knitting…well actually just whatever activity it takes to provide an internal padded room that dampens the “YOUR LIFE DOES NOT MATTER AT ALL” screams that can be heard with every waking second of your existence…

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Actually I’ve looked for peanut butter in Korea and couldn’t find it…so there’s yet another reason to wallow in self-pity.

Anyway, I’m just joshing…sort of. Well not really, all I have said so far is sadly true – but the miserable tone is not, as there is a lot to live for. Yourself for one, and for the ones who love you, and the others who you haven’t even met yet. You can enrich each other’s pathetically bleak window of existence and make the whole horrid thing that little bit easier to bear! Great right? Don’t you just feel like moon-walking on a rainbow right now?!

Sigh. Well, maybe not, but I’m not going to let a little negativity (well, a black hole of depression if I was being honest) stop me…despite the fact I know it’s vain, utterly pointless, and that Pluto doesn’t give a shit I am going to still have my own dreams, and spend each day working towards achieving them. If for no other reason than to retain a shred of sanity at the enormity of it all…

SO TAKE THAT PLUTO! I DON’T GIVE A SHIT ABOUT YOU EITHER! 

(Unless you grant wishes, in which case I take it all back and let’s meet for coffee sometime soon?)

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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!