MIA: So many stories to tell.

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

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

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

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

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

When England Meets Heat (Top 8)

 Something horrendous is happening to the once fair and graceful people of the formerly benevolent and peaceful  United Kingdom: this thing is transforming them into slow-moving, reddened, depleted semi-nude versions of themselves…and it shows no signs of relenting (until next week probably). 

Sun-pocalypse, is what some (me) are dubbing it – the few days in the year when the sun comes out, and British people freak the fuck out. Well, this year the rare appearance of that ball of blazes in the sky has, as ever, been accompanied by frenzied tabloid articles from The Sun (COINCIDENCE?! I THINK NOT!) about a looming killer heatwave approximate in temperature to the inside of a volcano. Cue warnings about not straying outside with your dog or she will melt, don’t give your Nan too much ice cream or she runs the risk of Cornet Clots…that sort of thing.

Yeah, it’s ridiculous – it’s a total farce: but we wouldn’t really have it any other way. “It’s just a bit of sun, what’s the big deal?” ask Aussies, Spaniards, and just about everyone else apart from Eskimos – but we are Brits, and we like to complain. So, stop attacking our culture, jheez.

Without further rambling here’s the top eight stupid things that we seem to do in the sun. If you are a Brit and don’t recognise any of these then you are either a liar, an impostor, or you have such a high degree of sun stroke that it is affecting your ability for rational thought (go get checked, I’m worried about you man) : 

1. We make obvious statements about the weather…

Okay so you look out of the window and it is sunny – you make a comment to a friend or colleague about this observation…something along the lines of: “it is sunny outside”, or “it is very sunny outside”, or perhaps if you are feeling a little outrageous: “wow, it is very sunny outside.” 

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You then have a five to ten minute exchange with said person in which you make parallels to how it was cold last week, and how it was even colder in Winter. Perhaps you share an anecdote or two, like the fact that you made a snowman back in February and now your diet is almost entirely comprised of ice cream…it’s craziness! Madness of the highest order! It’s also oh so bland. 

2. Partake in daytime drinking because, sun…

Listen, there are set rigid rules set out by our good Lord and creator himself that we must live by…struggle with. It’s a massive shame and not ideal in the slightest but we just have to get on with it and maintain our stiff upper lip.

One of these rules is that you must drink alcohol at any time in the airport when going on your summer holiday. I don’t care that it is 6am and you don’t feel like it – this is your duty to Queen and country…you must be pissed by 7:30am whilst boarding your plane or a Beef-Eater will come around your house and take away your television. That’s the rule, it’s in the fucking Magna Carta for God’s sake, so just shut up and abide by it.

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Another rule is that due to lovely long summer days daytime drinking in general becomes not just acceptable, but vigorously encouraged. Screw the whole waiting till 3pm thing…get in a beer garden and stay put – last week the weather was miserable so make the fucking most of it. (Sidenote: I know it’s a work/school night but just stay for one more, one more, one more…until you get the sack).

 

3. Get the guns/gut out…

Now not everyone is like me and has the body of a Greek God (shadddap I mean Dionysus, God of fertility and wine – oioi!) so they really should think twice before stripping off in public. Keyword there, should, but many don’t…in fact there is something about the start of British summertime that makes men think they are already doing a tour of Zante or Ibiza…

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I mean sure, if you’ve got it then flaunt it babez – but you’re going to pick up a couple of pints of green top milk for your Mam, please clothe yourself and save it for the beach.

 

4. Share your music with the world…

It’s summer, so you can get away with murder when it comes to your car playlist. You would likely get some peculiar looks looks from white van men if you were blasting Wham! on full belt during a grim wintry January evening – but add a little sun into the mix and you will receive knowing nods, thumbs up, and smiley sing-a-longs.

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Disclaimer: people may also throw things at you – please don’t hold me responsible for this. 

 

5. Be outraged that a 99 Flake doesn’t cost 99p…

“Back in my day they were 99p!” you croak through your wrinkled sallow face, suddenly feeling decades older. But it is true, the price has gone up quite a bit since the 1990s, when you could get yourself a 99 for 99p. But then again you could also get three houses, two cars on credit, and a jacuzzi fitted in your brand-new conservatory. Inflation, we hate you, ya bastard.

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Oh and while we are on, what is with calling “Monkey’s Blood” strawberry sauce?! I am going to write a strongly worded letter to my MP to really get – urgh scratch that…I am only 26, imagine how insufferable I will be by the time I reach retirement age. Apologies.

6. Have a food-poison laden spontaneous BBQ…

 

You know people the world over seem to denounce the Great British cuisine as lesser than shit, denigrating it to the ranks of some of the most boring flavourless tripe that humankind has ever seen. Now I find that unfair, because whilst it may not be exotic by any stretch of the imagination, it is most definitely interesting…and the British summer BBQ is evidence of that.

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By interesting I mean it will do unusual things to your insides – in fact it may likely kill you. But you wouldn’t want to be seen as impolite at a family BBQ so you munch half-hardheartedly at that suspect meat provided in a dry bun by your knobhead Uncle…dreading the next couple of hours that will undoubtedly be filled with a vile burning sensation…and not a one that after-sun can cure either.

7. Sunbathe in the front garden…

Most people don’t even go out most of the time: I mean, why would you when you have television and YouTube at your fingertips…but the sun makes people do caaaraaayzeee, things, things like well, (gasp) going outdoors.

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Suddenly that front step, that little bit of patio, or that patch of grass outside your house, are transformed into a paradise land that should be enjoyed for all they are worth. You get a chair and plonk it down, you survey your kingdom…every square foot of it. This is what summer is all about: “this is great why don’t I do this more often it’sss-fuckkkk I think I am burning” – 

8. Slap on the sun cream – realise you missed a spot…

Now I am whiter than white: so white I likely couldn’t even be a hue of paint…and even if you managed to create such a thing –  no one would want it. For instance I step outdoors  for a few moments to check if I should wear a long-sleeve or a t-shirt and-SIZZLE SIZZLE-my face swells up like one hundred pounds of ham.

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But like a lot of people in these lands I have a love-hate relationship with sun cream. I love that there is a cream that is supposed to help me not become an embarrassing shade of red, and yet I hate that said cream because it doesn’t fucking work at all. Most miss a spot, I seemingly miss all of my spots and then get actual spots due to the fact I just slathered a bunch of grease over my pores…

Ahhh summer, don’t you just love it?! Roll on Autumn. 


Well, what did I miss? Let me know…but I am about to return to my cave and stay there until the sun goes back into hiding – see you in a couple of months. 

Jogging into the Abyss

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Banter with Buddha

New year’s resolutions are often mocked for how ridiculous they are….after all they are the result of arbitrarily linking the end of the year, and the start of a new one, to the thought that you will suddenly metamorphose into a bigger and better you with close to 0 effort. You’re not a Pokémon, and as a result such a thought process is doomed from the get-go. The sad reality is that real change comes from…real…change, and that’s that:

‘Everyday feel like the one before. Hunt the money, don’t hunt the hoe…if you do what you always done then you get what you always got, you dumb buffoons!’ – Gunplay (Gangsta’ Rapper,  and gardening equipment enthusiast)

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Well said Gunplay, and that’s exactly it – as hacky as it is to joke about, resolutions are going to remain as fickle dreamy ideas if we don’t institute real changes in our lives. Which is exactly why I made the leap last weekend of buying 4-ply toilet paper as opposed to 1-ply…I just thought; “John – you can do this…you deserve this. You owe this to yourself – pick it up.” And I went for it, I pushed through the pain barrier, and intend to keep it up for the rest of the year.

Not inspired by that? Okay…hard to please, jheez…what about this instead: last night I visited a Buddhist centre to attend a meditation class. You see to speak seriously-ish for a second I hate the idea of just plodding through life, with horse-blinkers on; simply living out your allotted days until you expire, never really experiencing things, or for that matter enjoying what you actually have in the first place. Groundhog Day, Groundhog Day, Grounhog Day – DEATH. Yeah, no thanks.

So I wanted to try new things…at first I thought of horse riding! I would be like Aragon stomping around the place – striding across the open plains of…Sunderland. I even Googled local stables in my area, and there was one close to my work which came well recommended. Ideal! I would finish work and then go play with-ah-shit…you have to be under 12 stone. Back to the drawing board you HUGE FAT GIMLI LOOKIN’ CRETIN!

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Ahem…so the next idea was meditation – and as there is no weight limit rule for sitting on a cushion on the floor, I figured it was ideal for me. Regular readers of my articles will probably protest this, but I am a little bit of a hypochondriac. No, no…come on. I get stressed out easily and then exaggerate about the severity of my situation, I can’t sit still, I tell people about my toilet paper habits. I mean objectively speaking I am strange sort of guy! So anything which could help de-stress me would likely mark a positive step in the right direction.

I went along with my sister, my friend, and his girlfriend – who at the last second decided it wasn’t for her. She didn’t want to talk to people, didn’t want to do the meet and greet, didn’t want to have to introdu – “WAIT…WHAT?!”  I hadn’t even thought there would be any sort of social element – I don’t want to be in there doing trust exercises with my genitals alongside total strangers (or whatever the hell they get up to in there). She was going to go off to a cafe instead, de-stress with a book and a good cup of coffee. What the hell was I doing? Why wasn’t I doing that? I don’t even like the smell of incense this incen-

I went anyway. You know I used to think that sitting was the best thing in the world, aside from maybe lying down…but let me say this, it was one of the most uncomfortable sitting sessions I may have ever experienced. It actually makes me wonder whether meditation classes are just a bunch of people packed into a room pretending they don’t have pins and needles the whole time: “Think of a looooved onee-send your love to them” YOWWW MY BIG TOE IS RINGING – “feel the energy of the universe pulse through your body” – ARGH IT’S TWITCHING AND TWITCHING – “let your body float into a state of pure posiiitivityyy ” – RIGHT THAT’S IT – LOST ALL FEELING – WILL NEVER WALK AGAIN.

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I have been back a couple of times though, actually I think I am going again tonight – so somehow the feeling that I would never ever get to walk again wasn’t enough to put me off. There must be, after all, some good to it, ey? So what if whenever I close my eyes and try to think of waterfalls instead it’s just flashes of painful childhood memories, peppered with looming doubts about the future – that’s great, that’s normal, that’s…I like that, it’s great…it’s…

…off to cry now (whilst standing up), tah tah! 

Love you all, old and new -and I truly hope you have an absolutely magic 201, are any of you try anything different this year? Going to try and get more articles out for you whenever possible. Shout out to Meagan for giving me a nudge!

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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!

Eating in Bathrooms

There are a fair few things in this life that are not okay. That list seems to be getting exponentially larger with every passing day, but currently includes the likes of; kicking people in the face (unless you are a professional face kicker), driving as fast as humanely possible (unless you are a professional fast car racer), and being an ignorant bigoted racist dickhead (unless you are Donald Trump). Now another thing I would throw in there, and I’m sure you would too, is eating sandwiches in public bathrooms…

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DISCLAIMER: Although I’d rather you didn’t – you are free to eat sandwiches in your own clean bathroom. The world will still judge you harshly for it, but then again – you are probably not going to tell anyone are you? It’ll be your little secret held away from the judgemental eyes of the world’s media – fearful you will be nicknamed “The Pee-Pee Pepperoni”, “Ham and Cheese Bare Knees”, or “Ugly Naked Person Eating a Sandwich”. 

The point is it’s weird. But there’s just something about public bathrooms that makes the act way more weird. Most of them I have ever been in scream: “GET IN, GET OUT. DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING. NO CRUMBS ON THE URINE!” Don’t misunderstand me, apart from the grunting guy in the stalls there isn’t much noise; I was simply suggesting that the oddly sticky floor, the foul stench, and the altogether horribleness of the environment makes for internal screaming so loud you can almost be deafened.

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All of that also makes for a place not okay to munch on a Subway sandwich. Especially if you have another hand steadying the ship (I mean penis.) as you wolf down your lunch.

If it isn’t already obvious I witnessed this, and I still don’t get it. How busy are you mystery stranger? What is going on that you need to multi-task to such a degree?

I really wanted to know, but he already had so much going on.

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Bloodthirsty Seagulls

I honestly don’t know what to think. I don’t know how to feel. I don’t know what to do…I just…I don’t know. 

I truly believe we are witnessing something huge, a seismic shift into a re-ordered food-chain, and yet still no one is talking about it, no one cares. Then again maybe I am the only one who sees it, perhaps I am the only one not jacked into the Matrix, and everyone else is just waltzing through life watching Game of Thrones and eating various types of sandwiches, oblivious to the darkness that is slowly seeping into our rosy top of the food chain lives…

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DON’T YOU SEE IT, HUH?! DON’T YOU?! GAAD YOU’RE BLIND. LOOK OUT THE WINDOW AND HEAR THE BLOODCURDLING CRIES!

Seagulls are taking over. They are everywhere, not just the sea – in fact let’s change their names to Everywheregulls, it would make more sense. A little bit of a mouthful, but still.

With every passing day they rise further and further, gaining numbers and strength, and before you know it they will infiltrate your perfect little Dairylea Dunker life…it won’t be long before it’s all be over.

They have wings, there’s advantage one. We don’t have wings, so that’s our disadvantage…err one. Also they have beaks. Yes I have a large nose, that is jokingly referred to as a beak by hurtful people who were never loved as children – but the truth is it is not an actual beak so would not be much use in combat. That’s 2-0 for Team Seagull. And I know what you’re (probably not) thinking, but even if I could fashion some sort of beak-looking thing out of bits of cardboard and tin foil they would outnumber me massively. Also they get to publicly defecate on people’s heads with little to no repercussion. It is highly frowned upon for humans to do this.

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Basically it’s all over, we had a good run I guess. But it’s all over.

Ever since my return to the UK I have realised only one thing. Actually no two – the first one is that British bacon is just the best in the world, and my goodness do I enjoy that lovely goodness. Preferably in a Greggs stottie bun along with HP brown sauce. Heaven on earth. Ahh, it’s just so great.

Sorry – getting distracted from serious things due to bacon, as per usual. But the second is that there has been a horrible adjustment to life as I used to know it…seagulls have inflitrated where they once did not wander, and we find ourselves in a sort of Planet of the Seagulls type of grim situation. Don’t dare steal that name Hollywood, because if we survive this I will be making that movie.

Why do you people always want explanations?! Can’t you just believe whatever I am saying without any sort of…fine. Well just this past week I have witnessed first hand two things which emphasise my point:  firstly I was held hostage in my own home by a crazed dive-bombing family of seagulls, and then just a few days later I witnessed a savage seagull ripping into a pigeon – feasting on its innards, and then… and then it laughed and was all “hahaha, what are you going to do John, huh? Fucking nothing you worthless little human. Run home. Fucking run home.” 

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Just joking. He was eating the pigeon’s face, not the innards.

Now call me a stickler for the facts, or maybe even a person who overreacts at any given thing – but…seagulls…they are supposed to be close to the sea doing sea-related things, like stealing ice cream cones and shitting all over public landmarks. Not hanging out in a terraced street terrorising the locals, or enjoying an all you can gobble pigeon buffet outside a Tesco Express. So this suggests that they are looking to change the status quo. They want a shake up. And as we slowly but surely move into the future predicted in WALL-E they will easily be able to achieve their goal.

Please join with me in my resistance. And bring sponges please, my windows are a horrific sight at the moment.

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Death of People.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you so much ~