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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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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Bucket List

I have been seeing nothing but bucket list posts recently, I don’t know what it is…or why…the guess that makes the most sense to me is that perhaps there is a bucket sale down at the bucket store…so everyone has bought a bunch of buckets for really cheap – so to get some use out of said buckets they are throwing them on a bucket list and filling them with hot air balloons, camel rides, tattoos, and whatever else they can squeeze into them.

This is all well and good naturally ~ I mean it isn’t for me to tell you how to use your buckets, but I feel that rather than a tick box list it is better to try to alter our behaviour in order to create the best version of yourself you can be…this all sounds a little Blade Runnerish…but what I mean to say is that if we try to alter certain negative behavioural patterns then the rest will fall into place – e.g. Be more adventurous>travel to Egypt to see the pyramids>ride a camel>get back home and high five your now proud Grandma>plan next trip. etc, etc, etc! SEE WHAT I’M SAYING?! 

So in that spirit, here is a foolproof bucket list you can follow, in order to live a better life:

(Oh, and let me take the time to say that no buckets were harmed in the making of this blog post, thank you.)

#1:  Be productive with your time, but don’t overlook the importance of fun.

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Bill Gates ~ “I love doing crazy shit when I’m high as a fucking kite.”

Your life is finite, unfortunately – which is a fucking horrible, horrible thing to dwell on…I mean…who wants to think about that? The fact that someday a worm will be chomping on your dead and buried corpse, whilst a dog pees on your neglected gravestone  – urgh, grim I know…that’s why we tend to try and block that stuff out.

But we should use it to power us into productivity, in order to make the most of what we have! It’s a small window of time after all! So if you are focusing on the what ifs? and not what you will ACTUALLY do – then you are wasting your time, point blank – so cut the shit, make a plan and stick to it.

DISCLAIMER: I’m all for lounging about in your undies eating pizza, that is obviously a great time – however you have to have balance if you want to get anywhere..unfortunately that’s not a viable career path (sobs). 

With that said I implore you to have fun…fight against the pull to become yet another self-depreciating, bitter adult body. There’s far too many of those about already.

#2: Don’t waste your life spending it with those who don’t value you.

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2Pac (and this kid): I’m in a bucket, but I’m ridin’ it like it’s a Benz.”

So you’re being productive…good job so far! No doubt you are feeling an enormous sense of well-being and purposefulness…and you are making sure that you have fun with everything you do, so you don’t turn into a dull grey drone…but what’s this?! Certain members of your circle appear to be trying to cut you down with talk of you can’t do this and you shouldn’t do that – basically negativity. Who needs it? Not you – get fucking rid, hop in your bucket and drive off to a better less shit-cluttered life (see above for most stylish way to make your exit).

You want friends who push you on and help you get where you want to be, ones who want to be by your side – in turn you should attempt to be more like the friend you would want yourself…pay it forward, and all that. 

#3: Take pride in your appearance – no, it’s not everything…but it’s not nothing either.

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DJ Buck Toof: “I’m so pleased that I can pay off my student loan with this SWAG.”

We live in a heavily appearance driven world, this is just a fact – so there is no point denying it. Whilst I wish we lived in a fairy tale world, where people meet you in ten year old gravy stained sweatpants, and only see you for the gold-hearted angel you are – let’s just be honest and admit that appearance DOES matter. Especially when it comes to first impressions…and as you never know who you will meet at any given moment, well…yeah, exactly – you get my point.

#4: Treat yourself, you honestly deserve it.

Bucket chicken GIF

Precious: “Is it wrong for someone to steal bread to feed her starving fam-GO, GO, GO!”

How shit can regular life be on a daily basis? Jesus Christ, if it isn’t the prick cutting in front of you in the supermarket, the boring conversations you are socially obligated to have with your neighbour, the price of everything going up at your favourite restaurant for no apparent reason – or…well, this could go on forever…but safe to say you have earned that little extra something-something – have a beer, have a cake, whatever, no big deal – you already know you are beautiful as it is.

This may seem like a small thing…because it is…but often it is the little things that matter in life! How amazing is it when someone brings doughnuts to work? Or offers special chocolate biscuits with your cuppa? That’s a sign people. 

#5: Don’t be afraid to stand out from the crowd, better to be noteworthy and interesting, than bland and boring.

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Buckethead: “People used to say I couldn’t wear a bucket on my head…fucking look at me now.”

Don’t live your life pretending to be someone you are not…after all, you don’t want to be on your death bed yammering on about missed opportunities, how you wish you had just picked up that KFC bucket and learned to play that fucking guitar – but because people said that would be stupid and borderline insane behaviour you opted not to. Come on. Be weird, you’re wonderful. Try not to pay so much attention to what other (negative) people say, the ones that count will be surrounding you asking for a piece of chicken and asking whether you do requests…

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What is Success?

“What is success?”

And I know, I know…everyone has a different version of the definition – apparently...but we are all people, and for the most part this drives us to want the same things. To love, and be loved…to have a purpose, and a core motivation…to eat an entire family sized lasagna by yourself without being sick. See, that’s probably just me with that last one. But yeah, the question does confuse me – and if I don’t fully understand what it means to be successful, then how will I know when I have reached this grand milestone?

You see at the moment I feel like I have graduated from the meager caterpillar stage…wandering around aimlessly, just consuming everything – with no clear direction…and now I am in the chrysalis stage, locked away in my bedroom cocoon, beavering away…with the hope that I will somehow magically burst into life, like a vibrant butterfly, and spread my wings. Confident, and suave…the Kanye West of comedy writing.

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Precious, ey? Well, although it would be lovely if all that were true – and trust me, it’s what I like to tell myself during my various conversations with, well…myself. I don’t think it is what life is like. Not really. Although it isn’t a sleek, or glamorous metaphor; I reckon we are a lot more like the snail.

Yup. We just mosey on along…pulling along all of the baggage that we accrue day after day…yes, the moss…the dirt…it builds on top of us, but we keep on going, we absorb it…it becomes who we are. 

We can look back at any time, and see the trails that we once took, glistening behind us. Often we went the wrong way, repeated back on ourselves, or looped, and looped, with no clear purpose. But we are still here – and the only real decision is…where are we going now? 

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Well to success of course! Alright…but which way’s that?

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The Forking Path

As this year draws to a close, I find myself musing on all that has happened up till now – and pondering on what may come my way in the future…the funny thing is, things never turn out the way you expect – which is what makes life so interesting! Or scary depending on how you look at things…

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I could have taken a lot of different pathways already, and by not following certain ones it has in turn led me on to other things – for better, or for worse! 

Like when I was seventeen, or eighteen…or something, I found myself on the pathway to becoming an accountant. Yeah, exactly…ME…an accountant?! It was complete madness, as I have never been any good at maths; actually even now I find myself counting on my fingers out of force of habit! I recall in school I was often lucky to even get a C grade…that was probably because it didn’t engage, or excite me as a subject – instead I did a lot of looking out of the window, and day-dreaming, which for some reason didn’t pay dividends when it came to my exams. In English it did…which may be unsurprising, but more on that later…

But you see I wasn’t on the accountancy pathway by chance. I had purposefully plonked myself there, albeit with a somewhat faulty compass. I had my (first) girlfriend, who I loved a horrendous amount…you know, the horrible first love where you would tear your eyes out, and fry them for dinner should it ever be requested. It’s manic, and a total roller-coaster – it has ups, and downs,  makes you physically sick, and  leaves you full of regret afterwards. That’s why I only like the bumper cars at theme parks. Wait that sounds like a weird metaphor…

Anyway, as I was in love, like true Disney style love – and clearly this young lady was the one with which I would spend the rest of my days, and nights with – it would be necessary that I provide for my to-be wife, and our inevitable swarm of children. It sounds farcical, and ridiculous now – but at the time I was very serious about all of this. So I found an accountancy training programme with Proctor & Gamble, in which they would pay for me to do a finance degree (OH MY GOD CAN YOU IMAGINE MAN?!), whilst also earning a good salary. Sure, I would hate my working life from start to finish, and would probably eagerly await death to put an end to the constant Matrix style stream of numbers, as every day I would return from my toil to my resentful wife, and the children who hate me because I am never there – because I am at a job I don’t even like, to get things I don’t even want…but still, at least I would have money. Which is all that is really important, right? …wait, RIGHT?!

So I told my plan to one of my best friends…who in turn told me I was a fool, and reminded me in no uncertain terms that this was a silly choice to make. I tried in vain to create circumstances in which my life in accountancy would be one of excitement, and thrill…

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But he came back in amazing style, bombarding me with text, after text, after text, of cruel accountancy jokes – of which most centered on the premise of how boring that career path would potentially be for me, a person with no interest in mathematics whatsoever. I wasn’t convinced, or at least I told myself I wasn’t. That is until my girlfriend broke up with me out of the blue, (leaving me utterly destroyed may I add) and I came to a new clearing in which another pathway emerged…after the soul-blackening anguish that was getting over her, of course. But after that I saw the pathways more clearly – filled with real dreams, and hopes – not made up ones that were only fueled by money, and things.

So sure I headed on with my heart as my guide, rather than my head – but I am glad I did. Even if my Mother does often hark back to those times whenever I am hard up; whether it be facing rejections, unemployment, or general urghhhhhnessss frustrations – all things that will come to writers/English graduates. She likes to reminisce, and remind me that I could be driving a “flash sports car”, and living in a “classy apartment” now, like the guys in American Psycho. Well, nerr. It’s not me.

Instead here I am, suddenly at a spaghetti junction of pathways, which stretch out, and wind in all different directions. And despite all the madness…I am happy, and I am hopeful. 2015. I am pretty much blind to what you may have to offer along the road, but I am walking with you all the same. 

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Harmony, Peace…and other dreams.

I would love to live in a perfect world.

For me it would be all marshmallow houses, chocolate rivers, and a whole lot of laughter. Basically the plot of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Minus the singing mind you, because I couldn’t really deal with that – but the overall positive vibe, and focus on confectionery make it a paradise I wish we could someday live in.

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Alright, I must admit I’m not sure what that world would actually look like…as it has never been that way…woolly mammoths chewing our legs, God induced floods wrecking everything, and a whole lot of man-made monstrosities doing a lot more damage, have made humankind skeptical about whether a perfect world can ever become a reality, that maybe we are destined to live in an unfair shit-hole where some thrive, and some struggle to even survive.

This appears to be a terrifying reality, so we try and ignore it…we used to look up at the stars, and curse the Gods for inflicting such pain upon us, ask them what we had done to wrong them so – rather than facing the fact that it was just humans being fucked up once again…we would beg them to allow us to “win” bloody wars, implore them to improve our social standing, or whatever other greed fueled desires we wished for…basically we would think of the problem as external to us, rather than being anything to do with our own behaviour.

…but now it’s becoming shockingly clear that the disease is among us – the foul disease of intolerance, corruption, and hate. 

So yes, the harsh truth is we don’t live in a perfect world – not even close. But the light at the end of the tunnel is this; as all of this ignorant bullshit was created by man, so it can also (I hope) be undone by man; piece by piece, little by little…by something that is foreign to a lot of people, and that is – being fucking nice to people. Phew, easy as that! You’re welcome world!

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Oh…you think there’s more to it? Ooops…is there?

Yeah John , fucking hell – it’s not as simple as that! You’re oversimplifying everything – put on your thinking hat! What if they come from a different place, what if they’re a different race? What if they’re gay, what if they’re straight? What if they’re God-fearing, disbelieving, or a heathen? What if then? Huh? Huh? Huh?

 Now it’s true that there are differences among people – and for some reason we use these things to divide. Is it human nature? I hope not. We should celebrate these glorious divergences, not allow them to box us in, or border us off – they should enrich us, we should share them with one another, as a way to bring us together!

The recent video of Eric Garner in particular made me cry in despair (LITERALLY) – as it brought to light in a raw, and obvious form that there are still major divisions between us, based on factors that shouldn’t fucking matter. Fear, and the threat of violence are no way for us to live in the 21st century…in the developed world…if you don’t see that, then…urghhhh…

But despair gets us nowhere, unfriending those people on Facebook who spout hatred won’t do a thing – real change happens when we mold ignorant minds, and show them the way. Otherwise the ignorant will remain the way they are.

I wrote this with those people in mind, I do hope you share it with those who need it the most. We may never have a perfect world…but it’ll be a start…

With special thanks to www.edwinaepisodes.com for being one of the nice ones. 

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