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.

Begging GIF

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…

Peanut Butter GIF

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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90s Boy Band!

Just made a discovery…with no hair gel I strongly resemble a 90s boy band member! Lucky me, ey?

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Maybe I could give it a try…anyone up for forming a group?

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Taco Bell Romance

The title says it all really! This is a tale of true romance that took place in the most romantic of all romantic locations..a Taco Bell. And a Taco Bell bathroom at that!  Trust you’ll get a giggle from it…enjoy! 

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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Adult Movies and Angry Stares

I think as an eternally awkward and embarrassed individual certain scenarios are made doubly worse and triply…trebly…erm – errrr…three times as dramatic as they should be. Phew, that was an ordeal in itself! 

But I have somewhat come to terms with this fact and now consider myself to be a somewhat fully functioning nervous wreck, as opposed to a few years ago where I was a full time rocking chair enthusiast…

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That doesn’t mean that I’m suddenly a cool cucumber, reminiscent of Jude Law in his prime (before his hair receded and he started looking like a half peeled potato). You see, I don’t particularly have a strut, and my smile to strangers is still weirdly forced – but I no longer poo my pants at the prospect of talking to someone working in a supermarket. Which is sort of like a victory…in my own strange way…well, it saves money on new clothes anyways – which is practically the same thing.

But on a recent flight I found myself resorting to old habits…as the nerve-racked Mr. Hyde-side of my being crept uneasily back into my life, stammering and sweating with every embarrassed step. You see I was on a long-haul flight just a couple of days ago, and was the reddened meat of a Chinese grandmother sandwich…we had nodded, and smiled to each other – and had even exchanged some muddled pleasantries before growing suitably bored and reaching for our respective sets of headphones. (The internationally known sign for “don’t talk to me please.”)

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I began to look through the selection of films, hoping to catch sight of a new-ish one I’d missed the first time around. There were a few that stood out; a serious looking one with James Franco and Jonah Hill, a thriller with Jake Gyllenhaal, and…the newest Spongebob Squarepants movie – all promised to offer some entertainment, and an opportunity to put a dent in the horrendous thirteen hour flight time. I then decided that I would keep these three in reserve, and would only start to watch them when life suddenly didn’t feel like living…until then I would watch some funnily bad films, whilst I still have the energy to put up with them. Strange logic, but made sense at the time. 

So on went a low budget movie picture about a serial killer…can’t recall the name but after ten minutes some poor lady was being strung up in ropes as she screamed and begged for mercy – it was brutal. Unfortunately this opinion hadn’t escaped the grandma buns on either side…who were now staring at me as if I was the crazy killer myself…I mean, the scene had me uncomfortable, but the looks had made it unbearable: as if they were saying “ahhh, so this is the sick shit you’re into then, huh? I wish I had never smiled and said hello now…I retract them both from our shared history books.” 

Kanye Judging GIF

Anyway, the humiliation and embarrassment took over and so off it went – it was a terrible movie in the first place so nothing lost, right? Instead I searched for something else to fill the silence and put on a rather unsuspecting drama of some sort…which opened with a gratuitous sex scene – naturally. But surprise-surprise they weren’t fond of that either, and both began to swivel their heads, and tut louder than I had ever heard anyone tut. “Hmmm-mmm, oh” they began to murmur…but any fool could have worked out what they were really trying to say…

“So this is the sick shit you’re into, is it? That’s the check list for any movie you watch; violence, gore, and overly dramatic and cringeworthy sex scenes? Can’t you just watch fucking Toy Story like a normal human?! You make me sick – and after all we’ve been through as well…urgh.”

So I zapped off that as well; I had got the message loud and clear. There was something nice about staring at the blank black screen after the whole palava – there was to be no judgement, which felt good. I then pulled out the book I’m currently reading (W.H. Davies’: ‘The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp) and flicked through its pages until the grandma bread on either side of me slipped away into unconsciousness…about three minutes later thankfully. 

Grandma GIF

I was then free to watch whatever I wanted. So on went the classic: ‘Killer Penis Hostage Bastard’. It was a fun watch, I’d recommend it to anyone! Apart from my new grandmother friends of course. But shhhhh, they don’t need to know about that!

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IS 50 CENT BANKRUPT?! (NAHH!)

Despite his namesake this 50 Cent character is far, far, far from broke. Here I break down exactly what is going on; it’s all clever legal maneuvering rather than Monopoly style madness. Worth a watch:

So what do you think of him then? Smart guy, or total knob? Both perhaps?

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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What Food Cravings REALLY Mean…

This is a tale of woe, a tale of misery…you may even shed a tear…

I mean I just ate a burger so I’m quite content – but what about you?

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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Escaping a Braying

A friend of mine recently created a lovely little video of my hometown, Sunderland. It’s the place we both grew up in, and the place we know as “home” no matter where we are in the world. The clip mainly follows through the countryside and coastal areas of the city- rather than the inner-city terraces that I grew up in – but I found it charming all the same, and it soon had me reminiscing of my past life there, and the many friends and memories I still deeply treasure to this day…

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Mind, that’s not to say that life there is always smooth sailing! And I think this story from the childhood archives should prove that! But you know what? You’ve got to take the rough with the smooth, and the good with the bad – and always, always make sure you laugh at the negatives later…

I’m going to stop my rambling and just get on with it, so without further adieu, here it is; ‘Escaping a Braying’:

          Every Wednesday without fail was “Mamoo and Grandar” day. So on days off we’d be there from morning to night, but if it was school term time then we’d have to wait for the bell to go…and it was only then that we could make our way to their home, and their sofa. You’d desperately want to be the first one there to get a proper seat, and dibs on the stuff we weren’t normally allowed; the stuff that rots your teeth and makes you fat – the stuff that other kids had in their lunchboxes every day – you see that’s the kind of stuff that was in Grandar’s biscuit tin. 

It was our little haven, just a few rooms that offered so much. You could have sugar in your tea as long as you kept it a secret, and if there wasn’t anything on the television Grandar would always have old cowboy films he was keen to show us…we could take or leave them usually, but he added a whole new dimension; giving running comedic commentary, and repeating the dramatic lines in even more dramatic voices…“DYAAAA FEEL LUCK-EE, WELL DOOYA – PUNK?!” He was, and still is – the funniest man alive, so sometimes I’d laugh so much at his little routines that I’d spill things on the floor – but it was never a big deal: “these things happen” they’d say. And Buster would probably eat it right up anyway.

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Eventually my Mother or Father would pick us up, and then we’d moan and ask to stay longer – so sometimes they’d sit to have a cup of tea and ask them how’s it going, but sometimes they wouldn’t. As we drove away we’d turn back and Mamoo would be waving us goodbye,  and she’d keep waving and waving until we couldn’t see her anymore. Mamoo is what we called my grandma, although we didn’t ever call her grandma unless we were talking to other people outside of the family…friends at school and others like that who would demand an explanation…it was just more bother than it was worth, so many why why whys and it always came across as weird for some reason. But to my siblings and I, she was undoubtedly Mamoo. Which is pronounced “Ma-maw” by the way…a baby’s mis-pronunciation that stuck forever.

 I remember one of the Mamoo and Grandar days more clearly than any other. I was walking over there, and was already late – probably detention for something that didn’t even really matter; laughing with friends, talking in class, not doing homework – something stupid,  that somehow  translates to a heinous crime at school. I was so late that all the other kids had cleared out from the streets and were nowhere to be seen; I was happy about this as I had to pass by another school to get to Mamoo and Grandar’s house and they didn’t take too kindly to St. Aidan’s lads, or Bent Aidan’s as they fondly referred to us as thanks to our all-male make up. Problem was there was no hiding my allegiance to this suspected homosexual club as the uniform marked me out…in black, white, and the gold stripes of my tie.

Anyway, I was late so hopefully nothing would happen this time arou-

“YA FUKEN BENDER!! OI…OI…OI, YA FUKEN BENDERR! OI!”

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Spoke too soon. There were three or four voices behind me, but I didn’t turn to look – all I knew was that they were advancing quickly, but some way away yet. “HEW! HEWWW! SCUSE ME?!” One of them suddenly remembered his manners, but I guessed that it wouldn’t change the possibility of him booting me in the face with his Rockport boots. “OI YA FUKEN BENDERR MAN!!” It was the same voice, but with a significant change in tactic. I hurried my pace, but didn’t want to run…if I ran it would be like attacks on those nature documentaries with the lions and the gazelles, running would encourage more running, and I was no runner. So I just moved a little faster, but tried to move my arms at a normal sort of speed so as not to arouse suspicion…perhaps it wouldn’t look so obvious and I’d be out of sight in no time! Or maybe if I got around a corner, then I could sprint, and just zigzag zigzag zigzag the streets in the hope of losing them? Well yeah, maybe. Maybe.

“ARNLY WANNA TALK TOOYA YA GAY FUKEN LIDL CUNT!”

I wasn’t so much in the mood for conversation, I just wanted to get to Mamoo and Grandar’s house – it was puddings in the corner day, and there’d probably be ice cream. I reached the end of the road and turned right…and started fleeing just the way I had planned – they didn’t seem to give chase, or if they did the adrenaline of sheer fear powered me beyond measure. I looped back around, and headed on a different route. When I’d caught my breath I took some time to reflect on how I could have probably taken them, and how I shouldn’t have ran – I mean, so what if they were older? I should have whipped out some karate moves, and used makeshift weapons out of things I could find around me…a brick as a hammer, a FOR SALE sign as a spear…I’d send them flying through windows – they’re lucky really, I let them off lightly. Next time they won’t be so lu-

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“WHYAYEE! LOOK HUU IT IS!! FUKEN GAY BASTAARD!” 

Shit. They were only a few feet in front of me. I span on the spot and belted away as quickly as humanely possible despite being knackered as it is. A glass bottle spun past my head and shattered on the jagged pavement – as a strong odour of cheap vodka temporarily filled the air. One of them grabbed at my shoulders with grasping heavy hands, but I shrugged free and darted across the road, not sure of where I was heading. But they were faster. I felt a heavy club to the head, not sure what – and then a boot up my behind. I pushed away in every direction, and one lost balance…falling to the floor in a pile, with a dumb expression stretched across his face. This surprised the pack temporarily, and spared me a few precious seconds…

I was still some way from Mamoo and Grandar’s. There was no way I could run all the way back without them catching up and slamming my head off a lamp post several times, or whatever took their fancy this particular day. So I made a split-second decision, to use this space for an impromptu theatrical performance…I really hoped they would enjoy the show and would refrain from heckling…

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I opened a stranger’s gate, and walked up a stranger’s pathway through a stranger’s garden, and then knocked at a stranger’s door. I heard the lads follow me, and caught a reflection in the front room’s window…they looked unsure as to what was going on. I rapped faster at the door and began Scene 1: “Maaaaammm! Maaaaam!” I knocked again, harder this time – “Daaaad! Daaaad!” Open the door man, I’ve forgot my key!” The lads were stood in the middle of the pathway with a shared puzzled look glazed over their faces. I moved to the window and tapped it while looking around the stranger’s house, it was pretty nice and well decorated – I wasn’t sure what I’d do when I met the actress playing my Mam, or the actor playing my Dad…but this was true improv, and I was out of options. “Maaaaaam, Daaaad! Can you open the door?” I shouted through the letterbox this time…catching a whiff of a scented candle as I peered in…

I felt a small rock hit my back. “FUKEN GAY BASTARD MAN, YA LUK-EE. Awer man…let’s go…” I guess he was the leader and had made a collective decision for the group.  Thank God. I carried on with my little one man play until I was sure they were out of sight…then I double checked the area before continuing on my way to Mamoo and Grandar’s house…

Puddings in the corner were waiting in the microwave, and they’d left me some gravy too. Later we had caramel Rocky bars, but I’d missed out on the ice cream. “Why were you so late?” they mused as the television flickered…

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“Detention” I muttered, as I stood up to fetch another cup of tea with two secret sugars.

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50 Shades of CRAZY

I have held off telling this tale becau-shhhhhhh, quiet! Did you hear that…no? Oh…I erm…maybe it’s just the wind…sorry…sorry…

But yes as I was saying; I have taken my time with writing this story as it still frightens me a little, and truth be told I’ll probably always be a bit jittery about it…wait…did you seriously not hear that?! Oh God…please send help…she’s…here…

Scared GIF

Anyway, it was maybe a couple of months ago now – ahhh, how time flies when you are barricading yourself in a safe house, ey? And I was readying myself for a second date with a lucky/unlucky lady (not completely sure) – you see the first time had went quite well, she seemed fun, kind-hearted, and was outrageously beautiful – so much so I felt like a humongous wart of a man in comparison, like the hunchback with Esmeralda you know? …but I digress…

Despite all that I was pretty confident the second would go well too, just dinner then drinks or something – the usual set up; in all honesty as long as she laughs at my stories again it’s a good time in my book! So we met up and straight away she slipped a note into my hand before excusing herself to the bathroom – on the front it read; ‘you are my hero’…a call-back reference to the first date when she had almost aimlessly wandered into a speeding bus before I outstretched my arm to stop a messy collision – I had a new white shirt on after all, and it wouldn’t do to have been covered in blood spatter! There’d be no getting it out!

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The rest of the letter was a long-ish rambled account of how happy she was to have met me, how I’m like no other before, and blah-blah-blah, all that good stuff…I thought it was a little much, especially so soon, but I confess I was touched and considered it to be quite cute albeit in a very cringe-worthy 15 year old first-love sort of way…

During dinner things were going okay, if not a little boring – you see, I was trying to take more of a backseat in the hope of learning more about her…I mean I love to tell stories and make people laugh, but it’s meant to be a date not a stand up routine, right?  – and I had noticed how little I actually knew about the person I was sitting across from. She obliged, and talked more about her job as a clothes designer, which I thought was somewhat interesting…she’d also been abroad, living in Australia for a few years…and I attempted to pick her brains over a number of things related to that…but the replies were usually uninspired and drab…one word answers in many cases…ah well…waiter, another beer please!

But then things took a huge U-turn right when I began to talk about the kids I teach, and how dealing with Korean parents can sometimes be a little complicated. Upon hearing this she instantly broke out a rather bizarre (yet undoubtedly compelling) tale…it turns out, she had heard a strange rumour…that foreign guys in Korea often go to teach private English  lessons in children’s homes one on one – which is true. And also she’d heard that sometimes the mothers want lessons too – which is also true…so yeah, still nothing out of the ordinary here…but bear with me…

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The more alarming part of the story is that allegedly these so-called lessons are not totally as they seem on the surface…instead the process goes a little like this; foreign chap teaches the child, after which the child watches the TV, then the teacher goes into the mother’s bedroom…time…erm…elapses…and then he leaves with his wage for the kid’s education, and a handsome tip for his other extra-curricular services…

Upon hearing this I broke out into raucous laughter – regardless of the fact the story was whispered to me in hushed tones as if it were a scene from the Da Vinci Code….I simply couldn’t handle the seriousness of it all, I mean I won’t say it couldn’t happen, or hasn’t for that matter…but it’s certainly not the seedy epidemic sweeping Korea that she was trying to make it out to be!

Well, if it is I am missing out…

“So, is it true…do you do that like every other?” she asked in a stern tone, after which I noticed how her perfectly shaped eyebrows actually look rather demonic when angered, sort of furrowed into a cartoon-esque V shape. All I could do was stare back in disbelief as her eyes burst out of their sockets in an interrogative glare…she was really stony-faced about the whole thing, but I couldn’t be…

“Yeah…yeah of course! Wait…I thought it was normal? Isn’t it? I was just trying to fit in…I thought it must be Korean culture? No? Oh – how embarrassing…”

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She giggled in a really creepy way while stabbing her fork into a chunk of chicken…I was allowed a few moments to dwell on how ludicrous a story and question it was…but only a few moments mind, you see soon she had more to say…

“You know, if I ever find out you do that, hehehe, or cheat on me in any way – I’ll call immigration, have your VISA removed, and have you deported from this country forever. Simple. Really simple. You…out…life here, over. Simple.”

I laughed uncomfortably and squirmed in my chair…“I’m serious. I’ll tell a story in Korean. You won’t be able to deny. Simple, really simple. Out. Never to come back.”

Well, it should go without saying that I stopped laughing, but I couldn’t help but carry on squirming – that was out of my control now as a flood of fear took hold. To say I was incredibly uneasy would be a pitiful understatement, in fact if you want a more crude yet accurate description: I was completely shitting myself.  I mean there I was, sat on date number two and already knowing that if were to upset this stranger in any way, she was mad enough to move mountains just to destroy my life. I’m not talking about the cheating thing per-say, not particularly my bag anyway (too lazy for that business)…but if she was willing to do that what other negative potential does she possess behind those satanic eyes? If I forgot our anniversary would she chop off my fingers and play her xylophone with them? If I couldn’t recall her mother’s name would she remove my teeth use them as board game pieces for her own amusement? If I refused any one of her demands would she feed me nothing but dog food and make me answer to the name ‘Bruno’ for an entire week???

ALL OF THESE THINGS HYPOTHETICALS SUDDENLY SEEMED POSSIBLE!

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She must have noted my sudden silence and lack of eye contact (with anything other than my plate), as she stood up and pulled a chair around to my side of the table to perch next to me – her legs outstretched over my own, as she began to massage my perspiring face with her spindly witch fingers. Not exactly awkward…I’d define the situation as err…terrifying. 

I tried to persevere as if I was completely unphased; which for obvious reasons could only last so long. When I couldn’t take it any longer I put down my cutlery and took a deep breath – I knew I had to make my escape, but anything to horrible could potentially spark her wrath, so I would have to approach it all with tact…whilst mulling over this petrifying conundrum I accidentally made eye contact with her grinning face (YOU STUPID BASTARD, JOHN!) that’s when she threw her arms around my neck and started rocking me back and forth while cooing:

“You know I’m so happy we are together. I already feel like we’ve known each other for years, and years. Can’t imagine life without you…don’t want to…”

errr…yeah…sorry to interrupt the story but I have quick query if you don’t mind? Thanks a lot, it won’t take long! Okay, so why doesn’t life have a panic button?! Or perhaps even a Mr. Burns type trap door?! Like at that point I should have been able to reach for a hidden switch under the table and had her removed from my life instantly – it was just too close to a scene from a horror movie to be real…too jarringly awful to be my actual life.  But no!! Instead I have to sit there and deal with it, all the while sweating and shaking as this mental leech attaches herself to me…

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I’m sure to unknowing onlookers it looked like quite a sickly sweet scene …but it was anything but. Instead I was wishing we were in a taller building – so I could happily throw myself out of it…certainly a solution…but not so much at a ground floor restaurant. I imagine she’d have a lot of questions to ask my bloodied, but still live body – then she’d drag me to her lair to hump before making wallpaper out of my skin, and kitchen utensils out of my stripped bones.

Oh, not to mention ruining my VISA status! (Almost forgot that one!)

Anyway where was I? I got a little side-tracked with the whole crazy killer montage thing…oh yeah, so I was in the restaurant with her latched to me like some sort of evil barnacle when I decided enough was enough. So I just pretended I was really tired and that I should probably head home – which was double-talk for: “please let me fucking leave, so I never have to see you again”.

As we parted she waffled something about knowing I was special, because she now knows I would never do her wrong…and that she trusts she’ll see me again very soon. Yeah…right…perhaps in hell, if I’m unlucky…

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Safe to say she’s blocked and deleted on three different forms of social media…if that fails then I will seek help from two priests in order to perform an exorcism…

Wish me luck, my friends. (Was nice knowing ya!)

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Kid’s Tall Tales

This internet age we live in is amazing; it brings humanity closer together, communication has never been easier, there is a wealth of information at our fingertips – and it’s true to say Storytime with John wouldn’t exist without it! So, what’s not to love about that?!

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This guy knows…

Well…whilst I accept all of those points highlighted (especially the latter), I must say I’ve noticed one thing that the internet has well and truly ruined…and it’s a big one I’m afraid…

And that is, tall tales. You remember those? When you could hear a fact from your friend, who heard it from someone else, who heard it from his cousin’s ex-wife’s pet giraffe…and yeah, naturally by the time it reached you it was convoluted and contorted into a completely nonsensical story that no longer resembled anything close to reality…but still, it kept life interesting! 

You would probably know at least one person solely renowned for being a “bullshitter”, someone who would tell “tall tales” and basically just come out with absolute tripe that no one could possibly begin to take seriously…but it was fun. and people would crowd around to listen anyway – dissecting the whole story apart, and picking out bits that may be true ,and bits that must be total fabrication…adding in what they had heard from various unconfirmed sources…and so the cycle continues…

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Lies make the world a more engrossing place to be, let’s be honest.

Now what would happen these days, huh? If someone steps out of line, and dares to dream…has the pluck to just start waffling absolute garbage they basically know nothing about – some killjoy is certain to whip out their smart phone and Google whatever it is that has came into question…

“Ah-ha-ha, I have to stop you there…it says here that sushi is technically not raw fish as not all sushi involves raw fish” 

  • complete with a smug smirk despite the fact it wasn’t even pulled from their own brain bank…urgh, makes life dull doesn’t it? 

That’s another reason I love kids. They don’t give one solitary shit about truth, honesty, reason, and logic. Much like myself. They can stand in the face of facts and argue ardently on a point they barely even comprehend – now that is dedication, now THAT should be admired! You see they haven’t matured, I guess that’s what it is – but let’s not consider it in a negative light…instead let’s herald it as a much more interesting way to view the world…

You see a child hears something, perhaps something serious and very grown up…and they don’t full understand it…so they fill in the gaps with hearsay, rumor, and their imagination…and what comes out the other end is sheer unadulterated brilliance!

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“That can’t be…is…hmm…tell me more…”

Like today for example, I was talking to some elementary kids about the MERS virus that is currently causing hysteria in South Korea, and they certainly had a lot of errr, riveting perspectives on the whole thing…like how about this? One kid told me that he’d heard the MERS virus crawls around while you’re sleeping – and goes into ladies with baby bellies…eats the baby inside and then comes out to go onto the next unfortunate victim. Horrifying and worthy of a sequel film, but a great tall tale all the same…

But did I reach for the phone? No – I argued in the traditional sense…told him it wasn’t true, and that he needn’t worry. But he insisted he had watched it on the news, and had asked his mother who had added credibility to the claim…so that was that, there was no convincing the lad.  So I admitted defeat, instead requesting he double checks his facts (you know, just in case!)

If there are any bullshitters still out there…then long may you live, and prosper – you add much to the tapestry of life, and I am sad to see your numbers dwindling.

This article is dedicated to my old friend in first grade class, who would tell me his father’s job was to be an Indiana Jones type figure who fought off villains and gorillas in some distant land someplace. I still believe you.

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The Shining (Finland)

Finland – Lapland ~ 2013

You know in The Shining? When Jack Nicholson goes a little bit bonkers (to put it very gently), due to being cut off in the middle of nowhere? And you are left wondering whether the character was always a little bit crazy, or if the icy conditions turned him that way…well yeah, so I used to think that was an interesting story and great film (like the rest of the world!), but I didn’t rank it as a real life documentary study on mental health. That is…until I spent a few months in the wintry tundra of Finland last year…

Let me explain. You see this lodge really was in the middle of nowhere, with snow as far as the eye can see and only a few other buildings in the surrounding area. That means that employees were flown in to an airport in Sweden, and then drove to this log cabin to begin their toil…which was basically slaving away so that rich white people can enjoy a manufactured “get away from it all” experience. An obvious paradox, but that is not what this is about! Anyway, the food there was pretty uninspired, after all the kitchen staff had a limited stock of frozen items and were expected to whip up some kind of Parisian masterpiece three times a day, the guests always complained…I felt like telling them, “listen wrinkles! If you think YOURS is bad, then what slop do you think we get?!” But I refrained, over and over and over again…my fake smile becoming more and more strained as the days went on…

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But there was light at the end of the tunnel! I heard that a new head chef was coming, and that he had all of these awards, and used to run a five star restaurant, and could fly, and make chocolate come out of the taps…basically people said this guy would revolutionize things, and we might get something more wholesome than reheated crispy spaghetti from four days ago. I wasn’t going to hold my breath. But you know what? He did! As soon as this cheeky Scottish chappie came bouncing through the door the food was markedly better, it had…it had…TASTE! I am not sure what he was doing, but it was working! By the end of his first dinner time he had already won over our taste-buds and our hearts! But unfortunately…the good times didn’t last forever, it was only a couple of weeks in to his tenure that he started falling apart, first he would scream at the other staff like a Gordon Ramsey wannabe, but then he became more extreme and odd in his behavior…one time he argued with me about the vegetarian option (which was fish?!?!) in ear shot of a customer who had requested it “HUUU IZ IT? THE FAT LESBIAN OUT THERE? SHE’S NOH A VEGETARIAN NEE WAY!” and another time I did a stock check of my bar and noticed two bottles of wine had vanished…I put two and two together when he was an hour late for cooking breakfast the next morning! Then there are the sexist comments, the racist comments, the…okay. There are a lot I could list, but suffice to say that he regularly made the waitresses cry and effectively made a shitty situation even shittier for just about everyone.

He was a prick, basically, but I certainly wasn’t expecting him to turn full scale mad. But one day his walls of sanity came crumbling down before our very eyes…he was late for breakfast as per usual, which is a bit of an issue when, errr…guests at the hotel expect to be fed in the morning…anyway, he started F’n this and F’n that – nothing unusual, sure. But then he decided to tell ANYONE who came in the kitchen to “GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY FUCKING KITCHEN, IT’S MINE”…well this was a slight issue, as what this Gollum-esque character had neglected to realize, is that waiters and waitresses needed to come in to fetch the food out…of course very quickly there were complaints from just about everyone sitting in the restaurant, both about the fact that they were not getting any form of service, but also about the manically loaded and profanity driven language that was coming out of the kitchen! I’m sure I saw an older couple hiding under a table…and a lady kneeling saying some holy Mary’s. Eventually the big boss was called. You seriously don’t mess with this bitch…I don’t use this term loosely; trust me she was the dictionary definition. She once asked me for water with ice, and when I gave it to her she said “what is this? Don’t you know I want three ice cubes, not four?” Basically, this was set to be an ultimate encounter of the most thrilling kind! “Errr, Chef – excuzzz-“ “GETTT THE FUCK OUTTA MY KITCHEN!”

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Excited gasps from everyone. “What?! No, you don-“ “GETT THE FUCK OUT. THIS IS MINE. YOU STAY IN YOURS.” More excited gasps from everyone – possibly an “oooooh!” “I am the-“ “I RUN THIS, THIS IS MY AREEEEEEE-NAH!” And so it went on, until he stormed off in a red faced huff. Afterwards everyone looked very sheepish, and the guests still hadn’t been fed. So what happened? Well, the boss was forced to roll up her sleeves and whisk the eggs and fry the bacon herself! Of course the waiting staff had a fun morning, they shared “OOOOOHHMYGOD” glances at each other and whispered rumors when they had a spare second; it certainly broke the usual monotony of stacking sloppy plates, that’s for sure! But the story isn’t over my friends, not yet! Naturally this guy was fired immediately, I mean it was way overdue, but the bosses were forced to let a lot slide, as it is a pain to get a new chef all the way out to the Lapland wilds! Anyway, I guess this big kick off was the final straw, as they couldn’t not fire him. So as was routine in these situations he was asked to clear up his things and hop in the van with Kosta, who would drive him to Sweden where he would have to make his own flight arrangements…but, you see this wasn’t possible…he said he had literally no money, at all. So what did he do? Did he call someone to try and help him out? Did he apologise and attempt to win his job back somehow. Well, no. Obviously not. Instead, as they neared the small airport he took out his chef’s knife set, unrolled it, and held the largest blade to the driver’s neck… “I’M NOH FUCKIN’ GOIN ANYWHERRRR!”

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(Dramatic pause) “I’M NOHH GOIN TILL YA BOOK ME A FLIGH AN GIV ME ME MONEY!” Well…of course he had went insane. Blame it on the weather, blame it on the situation, or errr, blame it on his brain…but either way, this guy had well and truly lost his marbles. But the driver, in a stroke of agility and genius, simply waited for a window of opportunity during one of his garbled ramblings, and slid out of the door – slammed it shut – and locked it from the outside with his keys. Phew, done. Feeling betrayed and even more furious than before, the now imprisoned chef unleashed a second knife, and started to slash violently at the dashboard, the steering wheel, the windows, everything…”RARRRRRRRR, I”LL KILLLLLLL YAHHHHHHH!” All while the Bulgarian driver (who spoke very little English, never mind anything with a thick Scottish accent) watched on, and finally opted to phone the police.

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(He never did tell me what he said whilst on the phone to the authorities…I mean…where would you start?!) “Hi…yeah…I have a guy in my van here. Yeah – little worried, he is violently slashing and stabbing at my dashboard…a-ha…that’s right….okay, so now he is biting and wrestling with the air bag…errr…can you come quick? Please?” So anyway, there we have it people! The Shining is real. Jack Nicholson really should be more vocal about it…after all, it could happen to YOU!

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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!

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