Punching Strangers

There’s something about seeing people bash their fellow human being’s faces in which really gets us all going…

I don’t know what it is exactly – perhaps it is rooted in our more animalistic side which we ordinarily stifle for the sake of being more civilised and not getting weird looks as we bulldoze through public places…or maybe we are just disgusting and should be euthanised for our cruel ways for the greater good…hmm, that’s entirely possible actually…

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But whatever it is, and whether you choose to believe it or not, it is there. And things like boxing, UFC, and horrendous fail videos are blatant evidence of this.

Now as you probably all know already, or if you don’t you can look at photographs and work it out by reading between the lines – I am an exceptionally skilled fighter. Not just a brawler but an absolute powerhouse unit, kind of like a really big refrigerator except there’s no ice dispenser in there, just huge uncompromising punches to stranger’s faces…well no, more like a rhino. If rhinos could stand up and didn’t have such laughable fists – because my fists are way more like a…like a ball. Big basketballs of violence that slam dunk your head until you cry and wish you never pushed in front of me whilst queuing for ice cream.

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So it makes complete sense that I went to watch UFC in Seoul the other weekend…and isn’t an odd out of place incident in the slightest. Thank you very much; just wanted to clear that one up before we proceed…

Yeah so someone got me tickets, and I went along with a few friends to see what all of the fuss is about – one of which who asked “so you’re a big fan then?” Well no, I thought, but I think of myself as a aficionado of the classical arts and I respect the culture of the Ancient Greeks with their love of the theatre, and the Ancient Romans for their imposing colosseums as bastions for gladiatorial showdowns…and…FINE – I’m lying, I haven’t the foggiest idea about it aside from that they try to hurt each other.

However I did have one question: “will there be lions and swords?” No?! Dammit…then we’re going to have to get a lot of beer in to make this half-way tolerable…

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And that we did. Despite a rule that meant the beer you bought at the stall you couldn’t bring into the actual viewing platform…”so you just want me to buy seven and drink as fast as I can before heading back in? CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!” No qualms there…and anyway, it certainly added a different sort of energy to the experience. Running in and out between rounds, and then moments later finding yourself in the humongous stench of the bathrooms alongside a million other men attempting the same impossible task; to both pee quickly despite the pressure, whilst also holding your Budweiser high enough that a pee splash beer cocktail wouldn’t occur. A version of heaven some may say??

Anyway the fights themselves were entertaining, certainly took me back to the school days where much of the day seemed to revolve around punching and kicking humans for questionable reasons…or at the very least planning to. But this time it wasn’t on the schoolyard, in a park, or at the back lane of a corner shop at 3:15…it was organised and with thousands of fans cheering it on. Oh how times of changed, I thought to myself; perhaps this is what being a grown up is all about…

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After the 100th kick to the 100th head I tired of the spectacle somewhat…well no, that’s not entirely true – I was probably just finding it hard to keep my eyes glued in one place. The friend who appeared to be somewhat of a self-proclaimed expert was sleeping with his left hand glued to his chin (that last drink was a bad idea I suppose!) So I took myself off on a little walk, as is often the custom when one is severely off their rocker – and bought even more beer for reasons I can’t be sure of.

I then proceeded to forget the rule (or just flouted it altogether) by attempting to brazenly thrust myself through the security so I could effectively multi-task in my seat…by watching and drinking at the same time; and who know? Possibly I could do some peeing too if I was brave/intoxicated enough.

Of course I was stopped – but the hand wasn’t one of a huge imposing no-nonsense type that would be better placed as a tough cronie of a supervillain mastermind…it was instead a young Korean lady, a student I imagine. I tried to be polite in my protests and naturally pretended like this wasn’t the 300th time I had been through: “OH…OH REALLY? EYEDIDNEVENNOO?!”, whilst making gestures that signalled I was totally unaware of the rules and it was all fresh new very interesting info she was giving me…“AHHH SOH-NO? AHHH RIGHT, YES”I probably looked ridiculous, but in my head I was the master of disguise and deceit.

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I then asked her how I would finish these four beers? A valid question! What should I do with them? Throw them away? Return them? Attempt to give them to the winner of the next UFC bout whilst saying “there you go, this is your golden reward!” Well no, of course not – that would be absolute lunacy.

So clearly there was only one thing for it…and after a very minimal amount of suggestion we chugged two each, high fived, and then continued about our business never to meet again. It was a beautiful moment.

The rest of the night is a blur – but I can say this, I enjoy watching punching a lot more than I do getting punched. That I can say with concrete confidence. 

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Silly Sausage

South Korea – Jeju Island ~ 2013

I am pale. Very, very pale. Like Nosferatu pale. Really I shouldn’t ever see sunlight – that would probably work out best for me. But the heart wants what it wants unfortunately, which is to go outside and not live in a cave all of my life. So factor 5000 it is. Except they don’t make that (if they do then please send me a private message, PLEASE), so more often than not I am burned to a red crisp every single time there is even a peak of sun.

Let me take you back to last year, on a long weekend trip to Jeju Island…

Continue reading “Silly Sausage”

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…)

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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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Middle Finger to CCTV!

Sometimes you need to stand up for what is right…and stand up against those that seek to shackle you and obliterate your rights to freedom!

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Well I have to say…I’m convinced! Bit of background on this – it’s from a slightly older students who spent some time in New Zealand, so unsurprisingly he picked up a penchant for movie quotes and, errrr, colourful language. He’s certainly a character, I’ll say that much…

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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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Tokyo Tantrums

Japan ~ Tokyo – 2015

Tokyo has a big city sort of reputation to it, an air of grandeur accompanied with a sense of mystery somewhere within the non-stop luminous glare of the lights and the 24/7 rush…

So many films have painted a picture that has made an impression on me, and because of this it was high on the list of places I wanted to see…so when I realised I had a long weekend coming up I didn’t hesitate and booked it up straight away! Just a couple of hours to get from my home in Korea to the unknown world beyond – armed with nothing but a friend’s recommendations (which proved invaluable) and a feeling I was soon to be in my very own Lost in Translation remake…

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Sidenote: when travelling you really do need to think long and hard about who you will actually travel with. Well maybe not too thorough – nothing too ridiculous, but at the very least you need to see a clean bill of health (both physical and mental), a criminal background check, and dental records. Also check their voice and typical conversation topics as otherwise you may be locked in with the most boring groaner on the planet – which is never going to be fun. With this particular adventure I was meaning to go alone originally, and then at the last minute a lady friend of mine tagged along…which brought some erm, shall we say – complications? 

Anyway I mean this sincerely when I say that Tokyo is a marvel. So much to see and do, a far cry from the more reserved and traditional parts of Japan I had visited earlier in the year.  But oddly I found it manages to retain a fantastic balance between the two often conflicting sides; you see one second I’d be staring up at a 60 foot tall science fiction juggernaut in the form of the powerful Gundam, the next I was wearing a traditional yukata and relaxing in an onsen…then I’d blink and be back to the mad rush of the Shibuya scramble crossing! I was completely in my element, roving around searching for the weird and wonderful, straining my neck to try and see as much as I possibly could…it was everything I had dreamed about for so long, and so much more…

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But yeah: the ghost at the feast…the wasp at the picnic…the drunk and slightly creepy uncle at the family reunion. Hmm, that last one was a bit weird, but you get my point – this is the part of the story where I say what didn’t go so smoothly, and most of it had to do with my travel companion: hence my warning earlier. You see I try my utmost to remain as friendly and light hearted as possible during trips, as from experience I understand that it can be a pretty stressful period if you let the small things seep in and truly affect you…if you do that suddenly the foul smell of a certain street, the incessant honking of horns on the road, or perhaps even your friend’s breathing can have you suddenly enraged beyond all comprehension: like smashing an axe into a locked door screaming “heeeeere’s Johnny!”  sort of level rage. So it’s best to take a deep breath instead, and just let most hiccups roll off your back…

However, my lady friend didn’t share this ethos…which meant that any small thing became the reason for a monumental day-ruining mood. Juxtapose that dark rain cloud along with my attempted cheery sense of humour and you had quite a pairing; something like if Voldemort was to meet one of the Teletubbies. Well actually that’s unfair (to he who must not be named): it would only be like that if Voldemort had the emotional range to both grimace and groan about public transport, and literally burst into tears about the levels of salt in Japanese food…as it stands I don’t think he is quite on her level yet.

I can understand the frustration though, Tokyo is huge and it’s far too easy to become dazed and confused by the sprawling subway system: which I honestly think was designed by someone throwing spaghetti at the wall, and saying: “that’ll do just fine.” We took many wrong turns during our days there, and the hours were long and well travelled…but I don’t see how it helps remaining silent or dragging your feet along as if you are a pathetically non-threatening zombie, or almost defunct robot:

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There is an answer to such problems though, and one which I will gladly share with all of you…and that is; beer. Yes, you heard it here first! The golden elixir is the perfect remedy to all sorts of ailments, including the frustration you may feel when a friend (or something more) is becoming more than you can bear. Thankfully there was a so-called “English pub” just off a side street near to the Shibuya crossing…where for three times the normal price I could enjoy beer, ales, and all that good stuff as if I was back amongst the smoke and laughing guffaws of my homeland…“Wait, it’s how much?! Jesus tap-dancing Christ!? It’s not worth that!”

But yeah, that’s how things go! Ups and downs, smiles and frowns…you have to take the good with the bad, and try to carve out memories that will last: and despite all the issues we were still able to do that…pretty much.

However I must now look for an AA meeting in South Korea: so yeah, wish me luck. 

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Simple Tips for Novel Planning (Video Request)

I’m currently working on a new novel…rather excited about it actually – I promise I’m going to come through with this one (motivation through “wooooo, you can do it!” calls would be greatly appreciated!) so it is rather bizarre that I got a wee video request asking for tips on planning out novels…

If you have any advice for myself or other writers then remember – sharing is caring! Would love to hear what has worked, and what hasn’t worked for you! 

Oh, and 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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Drunk Sign Language

On another seemingly normal day I ran into a new friend…sort of…well, a random stranger who had a rather urgent message for me in an unknown version of sign language. I have actually no idea what was going on – but it takes all sorts to make this weird and wonderful world, right?

Still haven’t got the foggiest clue what was going on…

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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Death by Poop (냉방병)

Other than to crawl to work and hope for the best (I have no choice!), it is advisable I don’t leave my bed…so I thought I’d shoot a video just so I have something to do while I lie here regretting my life choices. 

You can read more about the madness here...if you enjoy grim tales.

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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Please buy my collection of stories! Get it in paperback here – or on Kindle here! ALL proceeds go towards Macmillan Cancer Support!

Why am I Dying? (냉방병)

I’ve been suffering a little bit recently…and by suffering I mean clinging on for dear life – in fact I even thought about writing out my will, but then realised I don’t own anything of worth so just went back to crying alone instead. 

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Oh, but for the record my brothers can share my socks out on a first come first served basis.

Now I know this sounds a little over the top, and just a smidgen dramatic but I promise you it is (mostly) the truth, and only the truth. You see the thing is these past few days I have felt like the devil himself has clawed himself into my face, rummaged around in my skull, and then worked his way down my entire body before exiting painfully out of my rear end in a fiery burst. He has plagued me with a constantly shivering exterior that would make The Cowardly Lion look broad-shouldered in comparison; he has made sleep a struggling impossibility, and has made food pointless…as whatever happens it will spatter out in some mad acid rain dance moments later. Which actually sounds a lot more entertaining than the reality, might I add.

But what the hell is going on? Is this some sort of old testament punishment or something? I just had to know…or more to the point I had to discover a cure for my ailment! Any more friction down there and I felt I would spontaneously combust – which on second thought would at least provide some respite from the chills…hmm swings and roundabouts…

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I’m as confused and uncomfortable as this image is.

Anyway, WebMD scares me, so I decided to stay away from it this time around…for fear I would misdiagnose myself with trench foot, cholera, pregnancy, or something else completely off base. Instead I just so happened to be moaning to a Korean friend who knew exactly what it was almost instantly! Turns out it’s something known as 냉방병 (naeng-bang-byong) – which put simply is your body freaking out due to going from nice cool air-conditioned rooms to the sweltering humid hell that is the outdoors of the Asian summer…which leads to migraines, high fever, digestive problems, and more…oh joy! Woopee!

So what happens is your body gets sick of this theatrical changing of the temperature dials and tries to keep your body at a regular stable heat…in essence it’s the movie I-Robot playing out inside your body; the struggle between human and the machines, a turbulent and wild fight except there is no Will Smith to save the day. Just you sitting on the pot, shitting yourself to death – or waddling around attempting daily activities wishing you were on said pot. A little less Hollywood-esque some may say, and they’d probably be right.

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Yeah, well I’m sick of shitting by myself too Will!

Well just get some bed-rest, watch a few movies, and paint your toenails for a couple days John!” I hear you scream. Hmm yeah, sure – I’d love to, but I simply can’t because I’m in Korea and for some reason that remains unknown to me time off work is a huge no-no – which means no rest and no medicine for the not even that wicked as I finish work after the health centres close. So instead I have to drag myself in, and do this really quite creepy weird whisper-shout at the children I teach:

please…please…shhh…just please. I have naeng-bang-byong…please. Just shut the f-pleaz.” 

Unsurprisingly they rarely listen, probably can’t even hear me – but I just hope to make it to the weekend so I can go into full on Snorlax mode and rest myself back to good health. Wish me luck, and a less sore bottom dear friends! It’s been a rough ride so far…

p.s. I can’t drink beer and cheesy snacks at this present time. So please do this on my behalf, it would really comfort me to know at least someone else is having a glorious amount of fun as I…well you know what I’m doing by now. 

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