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”

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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HUGE Negative of Life Abroad

Of course there are huge perks to travelling and seeing other places! It’s great, it’s wonderful, it’s something to tell your imaginary not even alive yet grandkids! And all that jazz…but what about the negatives?

Well there is one in particular that stands out for me…

p.s. WOWZA. Just noticed how much of a downer this video is, and how I didn’t really offer much in the way of help! I’ve got a winter cold (aka I’ll likely die) – so please let me off this time around! 

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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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Failure = Bacon

It seems more and more common in this day and age to force ourselves to do things which we know to be uncomfortable, or in some cases totally impossible…

We sign up for classes in which you actually pay money to jump up and down until you feel like your intestines are about to fall out…we buy books and download language apps – promising ourselves we will be fluent in French, Chinese, and Elvish in one year…we say we’ll never drink again: but the thing is this kind of talk is as far from reality as Legolas himself – it’s a complete fantasy land, or at the most too much of a pain in the arse to ever be worth it. But it’s this whole “no pain, no gain” mentality that pushes us on, as if it only really counts as an achievement or a success in the end if you suffered, cried, and almost died to get it. But why is that? Why do we have to have a horrible time for it to be something worthwhile – what ever happened to just enjoying life?

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I’m rambling, I know, I know. I’m just upset because amidst the Halloween celebrations on the weekend I overdid it and spent an absolutely monstrous amount of money…and I’ve being hating myself ever since because I was trying to force myself to save money for next year’s travel budget. I was planning on living like a monk – very minimalist; perhaps I would treat myself to a sprinkle of salt over plain uncooked rice every now and again – but aside from that it would be a rather grim and unexciting existence, days spent staring at blank walls to avoid being suckered into buying things, refusing to listen to music in case Jay Z convinces me to splash out where I know I shouldn’t.

But apparently when I dress up as a vampire I become an entirely different person, like a Jekyll and Hyde transformation…and suddenly I’m buying people I don’t like drinks, and announcing it’s no big deal that guys have to pay double the amount that girls do into clubs (I mean, what?! Why?!) I almost had a heart attack the next day looking at my bank balance – and then ate some bacon to make myself feel better, so a real one may be coming any day now…that’s not a lofty target, that’s just science unfortunately.

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I need to set realistic goals, as does everyone else – making huge claims and promises are all well and good…but normally you’re never going to meet a finish line which you have placed a million miles away, it’s just not going to happen. So I’m rethinking my savings forecast and being a little more lenient, allowing for splurges here and there…whenever Count Drac decides to surface for large pizzas, imported ales, and tequila shots: hate and love that guy. In the meantime I will try and take on a little more work to make up the difference financially, after all it is true that most good things don’t come easy, but all work and no play makes Jonny and Drac very dull boys indeed.

To put it simply: pain and barely any gain – just make a person insane; so don’t be so hard on yourself.

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Night in an Igloo

I often notice that spending a night in an igloo is on quite a few people’s bucket lists…and I think it’s clear why this may be; after all it’s out of the ordinary, a one off experience, and at the very least there’s potential for fun (if not frostbite and/or hypothermia.) 

As children we see drawings, cartoons, and photographs of these strange and snowy lands…and the igloo is a constant if not integral feature of this setup – it fills young and old minds alike with wonder as to whether the inside is warm and toasty…despite being made completely of chunky slabs of ice.  I mean surely it is right, or how would people survive the bitter cold?!

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Well while I was in Finland I was lucky enough to get to spend a night in one…it was a now or never situation as soon the slightly hotter March temperatures would melt them to the ground. So of course it was a yes without much hesitation. I  had some slight reservations mind you, so I piled on all of the clothes I had just in case (glad I did), from socks, to long-johns…hats, scarves, gloves…jackets, body warmers – the lot! I ended up looking like a cross between the Michelin man and a greasy German sausage; the only skin showing being my pink chubby face  and my constantly snivelling wet dog-like nose…

I went in with a friend I worked with, and my older sister: and we began to note how the outside looked rather bizarre, like a goblin barbarian camp – not sure where that idea came from, but it just looked otherworldly, you know? A long way from the winding uniform streets of my hometown,  the clanging of old clock towers, and the hustle and bustle of the bus schedules. Here there were strange ice huts, looking completely different to the post-card type of igloos my imagination had always held on to…instead they were draped in the skins of dead animals, and held together with strange sharpened wood…I could have sworn I had witnessed something similar in one of The Lord of the Rings movies – but anyway, I digress…

I was first into the igloo and threw myself straight into the center – meaning I was going to be a lovely cosy hamburger pattie with two agitated (and rather jealous) human bread-buns on either side…I had to ignore that and think of the bigger picture though: there was now a much lower chance of me freezing to death that night – try not to judge please, sometimes in the arctic wilderness you have to be savage like that:

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The inside was just as bizarre as the outside and almost as cold; so I got straight into a sleeping bag still fully clothed like Joey on that episode of Friends – and then from my little cocoon surveyed the whole area…as my sister kicked me in the side and made every excuse under the sun as to why she should get to be in the middle as opposed to me. No sale. 

The place was adorned with even more animal skins, and there were a number of candles scattered sporadically around the outer ring – probably serving as both ways to warm as well as to add a little more quaint beauty to the otherwise sinister looking unlicensed fur store…I mean sure they were relatively comfy, but it made me feel slightly sadistic to be lying on Rudolph and all of his other now dead pals…

Anyway, I tried to forget about how some of Christmas had died just to keep my bum comfortable – and actually started to warm up a little…was still shivering though – so we passed around a bottle of the Finish spirit Minttu, hoping slurps of it’s 40% alcohol charm may work wonders and ease some the discomfort. It sort of did…we then fell asleep sometime after that whilst talking about the stars, the animal furs, and of course – the horrendous cold which was mostly all we could think about:

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I woke up the next morning warm and toasty though! Well all apart from that small opening I had for my face…which was now covered in frost on my eyelashes, and bogey icicles from my nose – but hey, at least the rest of me was okay – who needs a face anyway?  Not me!

But there was one monumental problem…I had to pee…desperately. And that would mean both going outside and leaving my lovely cosy cocoon, as well as potentially losing out on my commanding human hamburger position – this could not happen, no way…there was just too much on the line, the pee would have to wait. So I thought of other things…like…snow, ice, water…and…urgh…forget it…

As soon as I stepped out the -20°C temperatures hit me like a steam train and I knew that there was no getting back to my previous state – the other two were up now anyway, complaining about me leaving the door open (ooops) and the fact that they had to go to work in ten minutes…whereas I had managed to arrange a late start: “you sneaky bastard! How did you get that?! Totally not fair!” – this meant I could get my stuff together, brush off all of the animal hair (which was no small task!) and head back to the “Santa House”
as it was known, and get some solid sleep in a real bed…within, you know: four solid non-ice walls.

Sometimes it’s the little things in life. Like, not dying of hypothermia. Know what I mean? Still a fun experience and one I would recommend to anyone! But…just make sure you pack a bottle or two of that Minttu, it really does work wonders.

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2016 Travel Plans…

Here is a brief run-down of my plan for 2016…it’s rather comprehensive – but if I pull it off then that’ll mean a whole host of new stories for Storytime with John! 

So wish me luck, please!

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