6 Things School Didn’t Teach

It will undoubtedly surprise you to hear that there are numerous things I don’t know…in fact, I would go to say that I don’t know many things at all. So yeah, I don’t know most things. That much is true, at least I know that.

When looking for someone or something to blame (rather than just accepting I am a brain-dead oaf, or lazy slacker), I have landed on school as my main source of ignorance to date…

So with that in mind, here are six classes and six lessons that I wish school had taught me…

1. Social Science: Making excuses for being late:

Late Legolas GIF

Oh yeah, great idea! Teach me all about how alcohol, drugs and sex will turn me into a hollow husk of a human devoid of any and all trace of hope – but neglect to teach me how to make even the most basic of excuses! Clearly this has a profound impact on every single day of your adult life…and is something which should be taught in schools from a young age.

Less is more, remember that. So claiming you were late to your best friend’s wedding because you are actually an elf who had to assist in a battle against the hordes of evil who threatened to enslave all of Middle Earth…his new wife included – is probably a little too much. You should go for nothing too ridiculous, but also something they can’t argue against for fear of looking like a horrible person; so maybe you helped a blind person across the road, or you helped a crying child find his lost mother, or you have diahorrea (no one ever contests that).

You could always try the truth I suppose: “I am late because I really don’t want to be here, and was honestly hoping to cancel but couldn’t come up with a good enough reason. Also I hate your face, it grosses me out.” Although it should go without saying that use of this method should be attempted sparingly, and with extreme caution.  

2. Languages: How to talk to people without looking weird:

Austin Creep GIF

It’s taken for granted that we will just magically pick up these skills as we go along, thatching together what we think is a presentable personality and manner, but really having no clue at all. Like how much grunting and hair smelling is acceptable around strangers? No one ever told me!

I, like everyone else – just do my best with severely limited proficiency…there’s a lot of smiling and nodding…a lot of “haha, yeah”s, and even more deafening silence – that is until I can’t take the charade any longer and decide to let loose. Aka: be myself…and it is in that moment that I am considered weird – ah well.

Oh, and there would also have to be a module on oversharing, and how it is something that is best avoided…I mean, just because it is happening to you doesn’t mean you need to tell the whole universe about it…we get it you are at the zoo, we get it you really don’t like cranberry sauce, we get it you are an attention seeking drama-queen intent on boring the entire global population to death – jheeez.

3. Geography: How to locate and deal with a knobhead:

Bieber GIF

I like maps, erosion, and sediment charts as much as everyone else! But to be honest there are more pressing and more problematic problems we must contend with! And they are more often not fuelled by knobheads…or assholes, dickheads, douchebags, mean poo-poo heads – whatever you want to call them! So if there were some way in which we could locate such people then we would all save a lot of time and heartache in the process…

It sounds a little too Nazi for most people, but perhaps some kind of badge or brand could be applied? Then it would make it easier to locate those who are up to no good…so we’d know not to hire that guy to fix your dear old grandmother’s sink who will inevitably try to steal money from her purse (he has the knobhead brand on his forehead after all) – and we’d take on the guy without it instead. We wouldn’t get in the relationship with the serial cheater, or mistakenly go on a date with a violent racist…we would actually see a lot less of the annoyance on social media too…

With that said, any school who was to teach this…yeah, shut that thing down immediately. I don’t want to be responsible for Hitler mark II.

4. Physical Education: Movie style fight scenes:

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It is everyone’s dream to enter into a Fist of Fury type of altercation…where you go all Matrix on the bad guys and pull off an amazing Mortal Kombat type of finisher that has everyone in awe…

But the sad reality is that normal people don’t get much practice beating people to death in unusual and fascinating ways…largely because they are law-abiding citizens who are just trying to get to work, pay into a pension, or get to Starbucks before it is too busy. So it’s the criminals who get all the practice, hence why they are so damn good at it!

But the world is quite a horrendous place at the best of times, and many people are rightly scared…however if there was even the most basic self defense class taught in schools people would stand a better chance defeating those which disgrace humanity; muggers, rapists, and people asking if you want to do a survey.

5. English: When and where swearing is applicable:

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I find it rather odd that schools come down so heavy on swearing as far as I can remember…but are so dogmatic when it comes to doing monotonous and drab lessons that demand the use of such language – it’s almost like a test in itself; which one will say “fuck this shit!” first? Hmmm…double maths and then a chemistry lesson, yeah let’s really mess with him!

Personally I think language is just a collection of words. And words can have many different meanings, and it is really how you use it rather than what exactly you are saying – just go to any English football game and watch tearful men with shaven heads screaming “you beautiful cunt!” at a player who has just netted a hat-trick for their team…are they trying to ridicule and humiliate him? I don’t think so.

So I guess what I’m saying is that swearing is okay most of the time! It adds spice and humour – enthusiasm and passion; and I didn’t really need school to fucking teach me that. (Perhaps refrain a little around your mother, kids, and old ladies – don’t be the aforementioned knobhead).

6. Mathematics: Removing yourself from awkward equations: 

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My struggle with mathematics is well documented – and continues to be a great source of difficulty. Well actually no, it would be if everything wasn’t automated, and done through electronics these days…

“John you won’t always have a calculator with you, you know?!” Well, how wrong you were Mrs. Martin! Even if I am a little bit sorry that I didn’t pay more attention…

Anyway, the lack of ability in coping with awkward situations is much more detrimental to our mental health and quality of life than algebra and long division ever will be. That guy at the bus stop asking which type of cheese is best to put in your bath…the stranger massaging your back out of the blue on the subway…or when a kid asks you where babies come from – all of these and more are a constant struggle. And one which I still feel ill-equipped to deal with at all…if only there had been a lesson to steer me in the right direction…

And that’s it! My top six things I wish school had taught me! But what do you think?  Is there anything I missed?

Oh, and if anyone has tips regarding the above I would be very thankful – if someone doesn’t point me in the right direction I am likely to be a fool all my life…cheers in advance!

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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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Travel Tips!

Okay, finally got down to this one! I’m certainly no expert, and don’t really claim to be – but I feel like I can at least impart some advice I’ve picked up along the way! I will say this; they are (mostly) all just common sense – but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth saying! 

Hope they help!

If you have a video request you can leave a comment, or send me an email – if it’s a cool/interesting idea then I will get to it as soon as I can!

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How To Make Friends

Everyone likes friends, right? And no…I’m not referring to the sitcom (although I totally could be, and the point would still be valid!) But how do we make these friends?

Again, good luck in Friendsville…my friends.

If you have a video request you can leave a comment, or send me an email – if it’s a cool/interesting idea then I will get to it as soon as I can!

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DARK CIRCLES! (And How to Get RID!)

All you need to know when it comes to getting rid of those pesky under eye dark circles…well, kinda. 

SIDE NOTE: I have no idea what that voice is supposed to be…like, at all…

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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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Edward Sausage-Hands

How does a person afflicted with stubby little pork sausage fingers even begin to play the guitar? The mind boggles…

Oh, and I know I am just whining and complaining – after all my Dad, his brother – and one of my own brothers play guitar very well. But still…help a guy out? Or maybe I should take up the triangle.

If you have a video request you can leave a comment, or send me an email – if it’s a cool/interesting idea then I will get to it as soon as I can!

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Wonderlust!

What is this fabled ‘wanderlust’ that I see strewn around quite literally every form of social media these days? By the looks of it it’s something to do with handwriting fonts, pictures of maps, and photos of fields, seas, and mysterious pathways…right?

ahh wait no, here it is:

‘Wanderlust; a yearning or desire to travel and  experience adventure.’ 

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Makes sense! No wonder everyone’s auntie and their cat has the word littered around the place as if its as commonplace as regret after a face tattoo! I mean, surely every single person in the existence of existence has had such a will…haven’t they? And I can’t see that changing anytime soon, it’s in our primitive nature to make such demands on ourselves – life is but a small window after all, and it’s on us to fill each little panel with as much colour as possible…so it may be worthy of display.

Yeah, yeah – I know! I’m being a typical liberal arts major freak and contorting the meaning of what it is to ‘experience adventure’…so apologies for that, it must be at least mildly annoying – but I just want to put forward the notion that just because you haven’t or likely won’t have a huge dramatic The Lord of the Rings type of epic in your lifetime it doesn’t devalue the journey you are already on…as long as you are living and breathing you are on your own personal adventure – just without the hobbits, and dragons.

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Although you may encounter hairy feet, and cockroaches…which is kind of the same thi…yeah alright it’s not, sorry – real life does have its pitfalls. 

Anyway, but despite this people post these wanderlust pictures, bless their hearts – and I’m not that against it or even mildly offended (I suppose i’m just being a dick if anything), but they often wrongly think that it’s the travel that they are longing for…that all they need to do is board a tin can in the sky,  eat peanuts/watch straight to DVD type films for twelve hours, then take a few photos at their guidebook destination to show people back home, and then they will feel content…but that’s not what it’s about, and that’s not what they want if they were really to consider themselves thoroughly. 

They want to step outside of the ordinary maybe because of a stagnant or complacent lifestyle, they want to experience something that shakes them from their routine, and reminds them they are seeing, hearing, and feeling human beings. They want to be in wonder…in amazement…they want that “wow” factor which you can only get by witnessing things first hand. Can you get this from travelling? Of course you bloody well can! Can you get it from opening your eyes to the beauty of life all around you wherever you are…yes! And you are not any less of a person for being more in line with the latter than that of some mad bearded traveller type who talks down to people who haven’t spent months in an igloo drinking their own urine. Or whatever it is they do – was just a quick example. 

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That’s why as lovely and well meaning as it is, I really loathe the question; “so how many countries have you visited now then?” As it is completely missing the point in my book, I mean I don’t count and I never will – in doing so you are reducing the experience to a number, and a check-list…I find it robotic, I find it soulless. The questions that excite me are more focused on the human side of things; “what did you see? What did you do? Who did you meet? How did you feel?” These are what we should really be examining…and you should ask the same of yourself whether it be on a boat in Vietnam shifting through the islands of Halong Bay…or after you attended something in your hometown; a football game, an art show, drinks with your nearest and dearest…a hot dog eating competition – whatever it is just mull  it over and think;  “what did I see? What did I do? Who did I meet? How did I feel?” 

Life is just people wandering about aimlessly trying to make sense of things – it’s just people bumping into each other and saying hello then telling their life story; everyone has a tale to tell and you can make any experience richer by bearing this in mind. You see, thinking this way gives you a greater appreciation for life, and how amazing it really is – do I forget this sometimes and wallow, sure! Pfft, all the time! But that’s just more of a reason to remind myself again, and again.

Just look at yourself – you get to meet people everyday, see things, feel things – I mean how great is that?! Also you’re hot, and have a nice personality.

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With all that said, I would encourage everyone to travel if you can, it’s fantastic…but don’t forget to look at what you have right where you are. Chances are it’s pretty damn wonderful and more than worthy of your time.

So it’s wonderlust over wanderlust, my friends. Remember that. 

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Can I Retire?

At my gym* there are a whole load of elderly people…how many exactly I’m not sure – but if I was to estimate I’d say approximately three nursing home’s worth. They’re all quite nice and friendly; I nod – they nod, that sort of thing…or perhaps they say something and I reply with a middle of the road chuckle hoping whatever they said was a joke. In reality they could be saying anything and I wouldn’t have much of a clue; “please help me wipe”, “give me your blood”, “get out of here before I club you to death with this dumbbell”…but despite these possibilities I choose to believe they’re just being nice – I mean most people are most of the time, right?

*N.B. See how I just subtly slipped in that I attend a gym (as of two weeks ago)? Already patting myself on the back in a smug self-congratulatory manner, deluding myself that it’s already working wonders…give it another month and I’ll be eating left over pizza in the morning whilst lounging in stretchy pants – that I can promise. 

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Anyway being with my beloved silver fox squad every morning has me dwelling on our shockingly finite life (in between sets of course!) The way time seems to fly in a very “errrr what the hell happened?! sort of way…I mean put it this way I feel it was just yesterday that my evenings revolved around riding bikes and throwing rocks at things. But that was actually last week! Crazy, ey?!

I actually recall being envious of my grandfather’s life as a kid…largely because he would rub it in my face:

“oh, what have you been up to? Just school? Sounds fun, not like my boring day; woke up, took the dog for a walk, bacon sandwich, played pool, couple of pints, watched the game, then had a massive dinner. What a terrible life, can’t stand it…wish I was at school…wish I had homework, and exams…” 

Sure ya do Granda, sure ya do. But despite the fact he was just trying to wind me up (and succeeding) – it still made me make parallels which often led to the bold announcement: “I can’t wait to be old.”

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Just think…a kid! Wishing away his whole life! I see how misguided such an exclamation was now, but at the time I saw nothing wrong with it at all. In fact I thought the discovery was groundbreaking in some way, so much so I remember rushing to tell my own father my new found goal. He wasn’t too pleased. In fact he thought it was bloody stupid, and there may have been a slap to the back of the head in an attempt to knock some sense into my dumb skull. Well if there wasn’t there should have been. It may have helped, who knows?

Anyway it’s little flashbacks and epiphanies like this that help bring a sort of understanding to life, and with that more clarity. Because the reality is not much has changed as I still compare myself to others (“by this age this comedian was doing this…by this age he had written this…by this age she was starring in this” and so on, and so on)…

And I also still live in different time zones…by which I don’t mean Asia/UK, I mean the past and the future, dwelling on what was, and what will be rather than living in the moment that is actually happening now – the moment that I can actually touch, and can actually shape.

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But we should try to fight against limiting ways of thinking like this. 

I mean sure, days spent eating bacon sandwiches and walking the dog sounds great, and I eagerly await that don’t get me wrong – but that doesn’t mean not making the most of each and every day right nowwe can actually make things happen. So let’s at least try.

So yeah, okay I’ll lead by example, I have to go…I’m going to give blood, run a marathon, and finally finish my novel…well if not today then there’s always tomorrow…or the next day…or the next day…or the next…or…

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Broke? Travel Anyway!

I often get emails, and messages from people – asking the same question – “how do you afford travel? Are you from a rich family? Do you have connections? Did you get some crazy compensation deal – and have decided to blow it all on roaming the world rather than making sound investments?!” 

Well, no. No to all of those. I wish it was something as easy as being in a car accident – and getting free money, but it isn’t. It’s kind of like The Wizard of Oz…it looks like a spectacular vision until you see the cogs turning behind the curtain. Yes, the actual facts of the matter are a lot less glossy – and  whilst this may be hard to take for some…I actually work. 

Take my first major trip on my own, for example. My year abroad studying in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

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For two years before that I worked at an electrical store, moving televisions around, and trying to sell people outdated SCART cables they didn’t want…taking overtime whenever I could, whilst also taking shifts at my Aunt’s pub on the weekend…all the while squirreling away money whenever possible. With no disrespect intended, I wasn’t like the others that were accepted on to the study abroad programme (Newcastle UK – Atlanta USA) there would be no money from my Mother, or Father…I’m one of five children, I would feel rude even asking.

But I made it – and before I knew it I was in the midst of my own travel scrapbook! Carving out new memories for myself…whether it be visa worries at passport control, attempting to make the transition to the different pace of American life, or dancing insane jigs with Waka Flocka, I had flew from the ordinary day-to-day, and was living out these once impossible fantasies!

Sounds dreamy, dreamy – I’m sure? But the truth was my budgeted money soon ran out, and there were a couple of very hairy months – I recall that after weeks of eating next to nothing I sent my parents a whimpering email explaining the situation…and I received something along the lines of – “you’ll figure it out.” And I felt it was harsh, but the fact is…you will…if you want it that badly – you will. (And I’m still alive, so I guess I did!)

Study abroad programmes can be a great way to get away, and experience a different culture first hand – there are often great schemes, and incentives – with mine I was actually reimbursed for any costs throughout the year. Which meant I had thousands to play with at the end of it all – long story short, two weeks in Greece with some of my best friends from back home. 

My second major trip came just after I graduated university- although I was recruited before I had even been given my degree…and a month after I flew out to Beijing, China.

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Again I had saved, and saved working some terrible job – this time around it was a sportswear store, selling people trainers, and trying not to touch their sweaty feet as I assisted them with trying on their shoes. Not ideal – but a means to an end. This was just so I had some initial spends, as the programme actually flew me out at no cost, and many of the site-seeing trips, and other interesting adventures were paid for, or massively subsidised.

Either way, there I was again – in a totally foreign, and unknown environment…forced out of my comfort zone…but that’s what it’s all about…I was experiencing all of the weirdness, that was so different to anything the 9 to 5 version of myself would be encountering…whether it be bizarre disputes over taxi fares, relaxed views to public pooping, or trying to sample local dishes without being sick (such as dog) – I knew these were memories that would last a lifetime.

And thanks to the cheap day-to-day living China affords, I was able to save a little for the NEXT trip…you see, that is important – always have the next trip in mind. 

My third major trip to Scandinavia came unexpectedly…but was well worth it…

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My sister – someone who has worked all over the world with nothing more than a can-do attitude, and flexibility – found a two month long  job in the Arctic Circle at a remote lodge…it was placed right between Sweden, and Finland. Did I fancy it? Well…OF COURSE I DID! There was a catch though, we had to fly out (again at their expense, so no worries) the following day! You see, sometimes the opportunity comes abruptly, and if you ponder over it too much, it will go to someone else – you sometimes just have to grab it, and say YES! 

And I certainly did. Before I knew it I was crashing snowmobiles in Sweden, experiencing The Shining effect first hand in Finland, and after I finished my contract – experiencing the raw natural beauty of the Norwegian Fjords first hand.

The work was often not pretty; six day weeks, with long hours – and if my boss was ever pissed off he would make me scrub toilets for an ungodly amount of time…but still…huski racing? The Northern Lights? Spending a night in an igloo? You can’t tell me that wasn’t worth it. 

For my next major trip, I was off to South Korea! I scraped together the last of my meager savings – put up with the horrendous visa process…and then went on my way!

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And I couldn’t have asked for more! Yet again I was flown out at my employer’s expense, provided with a cosy home to stay in for free, and continue to live very comfortably – whilst also having an amazing time, with some amazing kids, in a truly amazing country! And, using Korea as a base, I have been able to save very efficiently, which allows for a great many adventures; including a  Christmas trip to Vietnam,  an interesting excursion to North Korea’s border, a heat-stricken jaunt to Nepal…back home to England, and Scotland – then on to Italy, Hungary, and Austriathen…well, you get the picture – the world suddenly doesn’t seem as hugely inaccessible as it once did!

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You see it’s not difficult, you just make it difficult. If you really want to travel, like really, really want to…then be willing to work, and be willing to take every opportunity. Rich, or not – you’ll get there – so stop just posting random sunset photographs, with “W A N D E R L U S T” etched over them, and start planning that next trip…and start filling up your passport, and with it your little book of memories. 

~

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