Horrendous: Life is a Climb

Life is absolutely horrible: sort of. You struggle, and struggle, and struggle…then have a burger and a beer(s) which helps you momentarily forget about it for a bit…and then – more of the same. Toiling ruthlessly for little reward, receiving a catalogue of “NO, NO, NO”s until you are a skeletal husk devoid of ambition…or perhaps even worse wistfully dreaming away each day as you sit shackled to a desk in a job you despise, and with a boss you would happily run over accidentally/on purpose…

(Don’t worry I’ll keep it a secret, and help you bury the…shhhh, never mind…keep it moving. Email me when the job is done…)

Shhh GIF

As much as the internet would like you suggest otherwise with the endless positive blogs and braggadocious Instagram posts displaying fantastical lives devoid of any rainstorms whatsoever…life is largely about delayed happiness, rather than an endless shower of chicken and mushroom pies. Case in point my mother has promised me one of these homemade wonders when I pop back to visit for Christmas…I am literally counting down the days – I wish I could have it on the daily, but nooo!

I’ll get to the point shall I? Well, yes…I have been hiking a bit recently, and by a bit I mean I hiked two different mountains the past two Sundays and won’t be doing it again for the rest of this year – and possibly/definitely for the rest of my life. But whilst doing this I had a thought…you see on the way up I was pathetically scrabbling slowly and not so surely, sweating buckets, breathing more heavily than Darth Vader after running two marathons…and basically just wishing I would conveniently slip of the cliff to my death just to give my burning thighs a break…

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And yet, when I was coming down…there was a new lease of life…and I enjoyed every bouncing step as I hopped from rock to rock quickly descending down the same paths that I had once struggled so horrendously with just moments before. I was Aragon,  I was Legolas…in actual fact I probably looked like Gimli – but fuck it I was doing it, and enjoying every second of it!

You see that’s how life is…and I’m okay with it. You have to take the rough with the smooth, and the good with the bad. Sometimes the hard work takes a long time, and the rewards come in a short and limited burst…but rather than fret about this we should just enjoy it! I’m working a lot now – my schedule is much more packed than I would like – but I know that I have a few months of travelling coming up next year...and then it will be back to the grind, wherever and whatever that may be. 

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But I will have those memories, I’ll have seen those places, laughed with friends and cried with family. So as horrendous as things can be – I will always try to treasure the fleeting joy on the way down…

Hope you do too. 

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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:

Matrix GIF

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:

Peep Show Fuck Off GIF

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: 

OutcheaGIF

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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FOMO: Fear of Missing Out

There is a burgeoning problem among internet users…by which I mean  essentially everyone…which is something known as FOMO; or to use its full name – “The Fear of Missing Out”…which is essentially envy and jealousy but with a little more i:Robot desperation thrown into the mix:

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I have only just became aware of the name (there’s a blaaaady name for everything these days), but I was certainly aware of the condition itself as it is a thing that most experience from day to day in this ultra-connected and uber-technological age we find ourselves in: myself included. 

Case in point, I have just finished scrolling down Facebook for a couple of minutes, and I already find myself wanting two kids, like now – but also I saw someone bragging about a carefree/childfree life and really wanted that too. Then I spotted someone’s round the world trip pictures and was instantly overcome with jealousy…but proceeded to like someone else’s post about fossil fuels and the part airplanes have in the destruction of the planet; urgh, I really wish I could stand up for more positive causes. Oh and someone just lost a million pounds on a new diet, they look really great – wish I could – oh wait look at that burger and fries my friend has – oh she looks really amazing on the beach with – I’ll never have a car like that – why can’t I live with my best – how does he even – why don’t I look like – if only I could do…

Huh What GIF

ESSENTIALLY I SEE ALL OF THESE THINGS, AND I WANT THEM ALL.  WHY AM I SO TERRIBLY SHIT IN COMPARISON TO EVERYONE IN THE WORLD?!

You see that’s the cycle, and it is as silly as it is hurtful and destructive. The old adage of “keeping up with the Joneses” – is out…it’s no longer about having a nice looking living room, or making sure the flowers in the garden  are neat and pretty…this has been well and truly replaced with a “Keeping up with the Kardashians” mentality – which for most is a depressing  impossibility, but something that they attempt to their detriment anyway. But just like Kim Kardashian’s butt, this whole facade is fake…faker than my claim that 2016 will be the year I get chiselled abs, bulging biceps, and rock hard…can’t even get through this lie, you know what I’m getting at though.

The bad thing is there can be horrendous emotional consequences of FOMO  which can have repercussions on the rest of our lives. If I am bummed out that I can’t party like a rockstar so decide to borrow money to do it anyway…well, that doesn’t just go away. No matter who you pray to – trust me, I’ve tried them all – banks don’t listen. Heathens! 

Loser GIF

So when people find themselves unable to say no to amazing “once in a lifetime” experiences, largely because they know they will be fantastic memories…and in some cases even better social media posts (urgh), then this leaves them with nothing more than crippling debt and a bleak future. This means they truly will be “missing out” in the long term…missing out on a stable life, free of fear and devoid of the need to work a job you hate simply to make repayments on the lavish mistakes you made for the sake of Instagram. 

Not to be a buzzkill – just be sensible. Saying “yes” to every single opportunity seems like a good idea – and a mantra which blogs and the wider social media culture have endorsed wholeheartedlybut I implore you to be careful with this thinking, as fearing missing out on one or two notable events is nothing to fret about…ignore this advice at your peril – it could mean potentially missing out on an entire life well lived, inside and out.

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p.s. oh, and by the way my friend – you are fucking fantastic just as you are. Don’t let the social media demons get you down. 

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The Power of Film

Film is important: 

And there are many reasons for this as it is such a vivid combination of so many arts; cinematography, music, sound design, editing, storytelling, acting…they all play a part in this unparalleled form of expression. It also possesses the sufficient wizardry required to transport us to faraway places and times – both physically and mentally…we can also experience a character’s life and gain an insight into their point of view, however wacky and odd their personality may be. This can serve to make us more accepting, and less prejudice people…or more unaccepting and discriminatory people – with great films comes great power, and (often) well…irresponsibility.

POwer GIF

For a quick example I watched the new James Bond film recently (Spectre), and I found myself nodding along like…“yeah…yeah…I AM in essence 007!” I mean I like clothes, travel, and alcohol – also I’m not a huge fan of overpowering authority figures – the only mark against is that I don’t shoot people for money: but that’s only a minor part of the whole movie franchise, so there we go! I am Bond, James Bond: and I don’t want to hear any arguments about it…

In other news my kindergarten kids have just got into Star Wars…I suppose they’ve been playing it on the TV recently, what with the new one coming out next month – and we’ve been delighting in having non-stop lightsaber battles throughout the duration of the day. I’ve also realised that I am more than likely closer to the dark side than most would say is normal…case in point I have been delighting in killing my six year old Jedi students with my force lightning ability. I mean someone has to be the Sith bad guy – and the red swords are a lot better looking…and yeah, yeah, I know I will eventually lose – but at least I get to look cool while doing it…

Darth GIF

« So you see there is this sense of escape, fantasy…or perhaps even unattainable galactic dreams – and it’s not a thing which can be easily shaken. Or stirred… (urgh, see what I mean?!) »

It’s always been this way though: perhaps I’m easily influenced, but there’s never been a time I can remember where films and their characters haven’t played a pivotal role in either how I want my life to be, or who I wish to be as a person. And naturally I haven’t adopted these roles entirely like some mad life-long method actor – but rather I have just absorbed certain elements which I then begin to endorse…case in point with The Lord of the Rings I became aware through Gimli that running for long distances wasn’t fun – and with Merry and Pippin, that second breakfasts were not something to be embarrassed about. And in Dumbo I learned that if you drink too much bloodthirsty pink elephants will appear in a frenetic dream sequence intent on killing you. All of these things are totally necessary, and I’m thankful for the world of film for enlightening me in so many ways… 

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this ramble…would love to hear of some characters and movies which you have enjoyed – especially ones I haven’t heard of! Always on the hunt for a new favourite!

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Elderly Children

The other day I laughed like I haven’t done in months…and it wasn’t from a well-crafted and intelligent political barb either, or an amusing satirical comment on Western society’s culture – or anything else that demands some level of brain activity to “get” – noit was a lot more simple and pure than all of that, but not any less meaningful. Well, maybe a little…

Anyway it was undoubtedly something silly; and it came about by me walking into a classroom, and coming across a rather strange sight – a small hunched character who couldn’t have been more than five or six years old. It was one of those moments where it takes a few seconds to take it all in and process…

Huh GIF

You see this kid had pushed his shoulders up, and his head down – basically eliminating his whole neck…making him look vaguely reminiscent of  both Frankenstein’s monster and a penguin with a spinal problem at the same time. To keep the shoulders in shape he was forced to waddle as he walked to maintain composure…and felt it was necessary to emit a few R2-D2 style “BOOP-BAP-BEEP”s every now and again, which (thanks to his missing front teeth) had an eerie and creepy sound to them…this was all probably necessary though,  just to remind people he was still there circling the table.

I also noted that he would occasionally outstretch his right hand slightly as if reaching for an imaginary walking stick which he had sadly misplaced…which led me to believe this was perhaps an older Frankenstein’s monster penguin model. But that was of course an assumption I am still yet to verify. Either way I felt in my heart of hearts that if I had some spare teeth lying around I wouldn’t hesitate to offer them to this bizarre yet amusing creature, he was just trying to live dammit – and seemed like a pretty nice guy.

Friend GIF

There was just something about the whole spectacle which made me burst out laughing, and as he inevitably began to giggle too the shoulders began to droop slowly but surely…and the beeps turned into baaps, and the baaps quickly turned into “ba-ha-ha-ha”s. Before I knew it we were both in hysterics with laughter, and so the rest of the kids in the class took the baton: copying the same character, busily circling the table with their now neckless bodies.

Such little weirdos, seriously!

But it made me think though…where do we lose this? And when…and WHY?! Because I know I still behave like this – but I’m seen largely as stupid, childish, or immature (there are other words but it’s a family show). However I do feel like if we were all a little more like this, just having fun and amusing both ourselves and each other…then life would be that little bit more enjoyable. In other words if the elderly had as much of a laugh imitating children as these kids had imitating the elderly then this world would be a lot less dreary.

Old Lady GIF

All I know is I’m writing a mental note to do the Frankenstein’s monster penguin shuffle at age 93. Don’t let me forget…okay? Even if I scream at you to get off my lawn and begin a rant about “kids these days”…make me do it.

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Food Giant (Top 5)

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

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

5. 热干面  (China)

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

4. Escargot (France)

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

3. Bernerwurst (Austria)

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

2. Haggis (Scotland)

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

1. 샤브 샤브 (South Korea)

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

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

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

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

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A Caged Bird (Poem)

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

I see myself – but what should I be?

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

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

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

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

Well fucking stop that thought.”

Nothing good happens here.”

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

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

we all think you’re an absolute cunt.”

{I want to think outside the box,

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

I try every possibility in the locks,

that get rusty with age.}

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

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

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

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

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

~~~

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