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. 

5 Stages to a Job Search

To those who don’t know I am back in the UK:

Now this is as wonderful as you may expect; I’m seeing family and old friends, walking around familiar streets and experiencing our tropical climate – however it is also becoming increasingly frustrating. This is for one reason and one reason only: I’m on a hunt for a job, and a good one if you please.

So for your entertainment and my own catharsis I thought I would note down some of the stages to this job search so far – perhaps it may curse me forever, or perhaps (hopefully) the universe will decide to cut me break after this divine offering to the Blogosphere Gods.

Well we can always hope…anyway, here we go – in at number one:

1. Looking through the amazing opportunities:

(ENDLESS SCROLLING AND FUCKING CLICKING)

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This is great at first as you can look through all of the wonderful positions and delight at how many there are! “I thought there were no jobs?” you chuckle with a moronic sneer to yourself, as if everyone was over-reacting and that somehow you are a genius who will slide into one of these roles so easily it’ll be as if you were always there…

Very quickly you begin to picture yourself in these roles – aaah yes there it is…an amazing image of a suited you dancing merrily in your mind’s eye at a workplace where everyone thinks you are hilarious. Unsatisfied you continue to design this world with further complexity…you will no doubt become a high-flyer, there will be lots of managers saying you did a great job, and everyone will just give you constant high fives for no real reason other than they want to be best pals, and…

But you have to stop your daydreaming at some stage or you will never get to the application process (this takes longer than others to get around to…)

2. Writing out the fine tapestry of your life:

(RE-WRITING YOUR RESUME AGAIN, AND AGAIN, AND AGAIN)

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I blasted off 15 applications on my first day back in the UK…how? Well it was easy, I just found the jobs I liked and sent them a resume – case closed, that’s that! I then slapped my hands together and congratulated myself on a job well done with a sugary tea and a few chocolate brownies. Sounds great so far, I know. 

But this isn’t always the case – actually it usually isn’t for any of the jobs you truly want. You see these corporate devils don’t want your CV (they are allergic to the sight of Microsoft Word I suppose), and instead want you to fill in the exact information that is on your existing resume into their own little boxes. Cue typing, and scrolling, typing and scrolling – until you are so bored of your own life story that you begin to wonder if you should bother in the first place. And you probably wouldn’t if it wasn’t for the whole needing money to feed, clothe and shelter you thing. 

But eventually you get to the next hurdle…albeit with a sore clicking finger.

3. Patiently waiting for your dreams to come true…

(EXPERIENCING BOREDOM, EXHAUSTION, AND RAGE AT THE SAME TIME)

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It is a well known and scientifically proven fact by the University of Job-Seekers Anonymous that time passes by at a tiny fraction of the rate it would ordinarily when you are waiting for a response about the job interview you just went on. Of course while you are waiting for the answer to what could be a huge section of your later best selling autobiography the people at the office will just be milling around…making cups of tea…talking about weekend plans and whatever else. You are not their priority. Hard to get your head around, but a sad reality.

This information doesn’t particularly help. You are still sat there stressing out and unable to focus on little else, thinking over all of the stupid things you said and all the tremendously impressive things you would have said if you were to be given a second chance…you also eat and drink constantly with little to no enjoyment, in fact grazing would be a better word.

This leads you to begin feeling like a big fat fucking moose as you fucking…argh, why are you such a big useless loser who – OOH AN EMAIL! YES! HERE WE GO FUTURE! 

4. Not getting the job this time around…

(BEING TOLD IN A LOVELY WAY THAT YOU SUCK AND SHOULD NEVER LEAVE THE HOUSE)

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Perhaps you weren’t right for the position, or you weren’t qualified/experienced enough, maybe the owner got someone they knew in or they hired internally…there are many reasons you may have not got it this time…but only one sticks in your mind and torments both your living and sleeping mind.

YOU ARE THE WORST LAHOOOOOSER EVER – IF YOU WERE TO SHOWER FOUR TIMES A DAY YOU STILL COULDN’T WASH THE LAHOOOOSR-ISHNESS OFF YOURSELF!

Or something like that. My point is your mind can be a cruel cruel thing…it is unrelenting and with each email and phone call your resolve only weakens and your lack of confidence grows. It’s pretty grim, but you should…

5. Recognise you are a great person, and that the right job will come along soon.

(HATE YOUR LIFE, AND ALL YOUR PAST CHOICES)

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This is where I am at right now, or at least somewhere between these two polar opposites – things look bleak, and despite the fact it is sure to work its way out somehow/someway eventually…this offers very little comfort. 

So drop some inspiration in the comments…a stage 6 if you will – it’s really what I need to hear right now! And who knows, we could help some others feel better about their job search at the same time!

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Bombing Innocents in the Name of Peace

“…the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”

– Hermann Göring in an interview during the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials (18th April 1946)

A mere few hours after the UK parliament voted to authorise airstrikes in Syria – British fighter jets have returned after bombing the first of presumably many Islamic state targets…evidently Cameron and his applauding war-hungry cronies were readying the big red button even as the “debate” was going on…more than ready to flex and pose in order to keep up with big brother of the US:

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In a world in which there are so many detractors that are more than happy to speak out against the disgracefully unfair and obvious propaganda driven politics which encircle the likes of countries such as North Korea…why then is it not as apparent that our political representatives are employing the very same offensive rhetoric as them? We have David Cameron bumbling away claiming the bombing and consequent loss of innocent lives, is the only way to keep the “woman raping, Muslim murdering, medieval monsters” of Isis at bay…and that they are “plotting to kill us and to radicalise our children right now.” This is obvious emotive political tactics dispatched with the sole intention of hoping people rid themselves of their logical faculties and instead devolve to caveman-esque reasoning: “UGGG…don’t take baby and woman – they my baby and woman.” 

But no. Many are falling for it – and with 397 MPs voting FOR, and only 223 AGAINST airstrikes it appears even the political elite are just as easy to convince. 

I find it especially odd that our dear sworn and trusted protector, David Cameron, is suddenly displaying so much compassion towards the British people when in the past it has lacked so heavily. The claim that he just wants what is best for us and that his main aim is simply to “keep the British safe” will likely be news to the millions of people currently suffering as a direct result of his strict and uncompromising austerity measures. Let’s not forget for a second that back in 2010, the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government announced the biggest cuts to state spending since the Second World War…hacking away at social security and the NHS without a degree of sympathy, cutting a potential of 900,000 public sector jobs between 2011 and up till 2018…add to that the tax and welfare changes implemented between 2010 and 2014 which saw the poorest tenth of the population hit the hardest by far, (38 per cent decrease in net income for 2010-15), whilst by contrast the richest tenth, Cameron’s BFFs, lost the least: it isn’t surprising that many are baffled that he could ever say he wants what is best for us with a straight face.

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But yeah, thanks so much for keeping us safe mate, you’re a real diamond! What would we do without you?

Despite the self-patting on the back, high fives, and raucous applause after Hilary Benn’s speech, which would likely make any sane non-bloodthirsty person weep whilst also being sick – I still feel that his empty and overly simplistic words only further cement the idea that adding our own stamp to the  3,000+ airstrikes against Syria since 2014 is likely a bad idea…apparently they hold “our democracy in contempt” – but so do the MPs on our own turf when they choose to go against what their constituents want, instead choosing to side with superpowers and mega corporations.

Oh, and in totally unrelated news: the targets of the airstrikes will largely be focused around the lucrative gas and oil fields Isis are holding on to at the moment. Just saying, sure there’s no link…but, thought it was worth mentioning. Who will hold on to those once this battle is finally over I wonder?

But let’s not focus on facts, we don’t need those that’s what has became obvious. Case in point in what was a rather grimly ironic announcement, Cameron cited British intelligence (something which appears to be severely lacking in the House of Commons) to put forth the claim that there are  approximately 70,000 non-extremist Syrian opposition fighters who are available on the ground to potentially help overcome Isis. But here’s where the intelligence runs thin and the pig-headed (no pun intended!) stupidity comes in…you see even if we were to believe these numbers – they are still not sourced from one unified group; in actual fact they are a mad mish-mash of over 100 smaller ones, most of which are too preoccupied with Assad’s Syrian army to be open to the distraction of putting their lives on the line against Isis to help out the west.

I mean everyone from Jeremy Corbyn to Vladimir Putin has pointed out the blatant discrepancies in just about every part of the west’s role in this conflict…but when it comes to actual answers he’s a slippery man to hold down:

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This is Cameron’s third large scale intervention, Libya, Iraq and now Syria…and despite this he was still so quick to ask “if not now, when?” as if it was a foregone conclusion that at some point we would definitely be dropping bombs on innocent houses in the mad campaign against a limited terrorist group. But my question would be, when will we learn? If not now, then when? Because so far we haven’t learned a single thing…anyone with a single brain cell can work out that none of the wars launched by the UK and US from Afghanistan in 2001, Iran in 2003, or Libya in 2011 have ended – as millions still suffer from those reckless and ill-advised decisions – and the recent vote and airstrikes will make that number even more…but who cares when we stand to make such a ginormous profit from a false imperialistic war?! Just as we always do…selling on weapons, and plundering countries for resources.

Well only the people seem to give a shit, or even spare a second thought for the innocents trapped in the middle of this terrifying nightmare. But it’s more clear than ever that the politicians are only in it for themselves. I feel entirely diminished and powerless due to this harrowing news…and have no idea where to go from here…I used to think that we were the good guys – now I’m not so sure.

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Oh, and finally I must add that Bridget Phillipson the MP from my hometown (Houghton & Sunderland South) voted FOR airstrikes and I am utterly ashamed. I am however, relieved to see that her views do not reflect that of her constituents…or at least none of which who are my friends anyway. 

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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Fringe Benefits (Scotland)

Scotland ~ Edinburgh – 2014

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the biggest arts festival in the entire world – the thing is huge! It has over 250 venues that are jam-packed with over 45, 000 varied performers! It is truly a colossal occasion that triples the city’s population in that single August month…year in, year out! So if you can put up with shuffling at a snail’s pace behind old fogies desperate to take a photo of every lamp post they see (WHY, GOD WHY?! IT IS A LAMP POST!!! MOOOOOOOOOVE!!!!), then it is certainly worth a look in!

Disclaimer: Some people think of it as a version of hell.

Continue reading “Fringe Benefits (Scotland)”

A Smelly Trump

Something strange is happening in American politics, something that seems to go against all reason and common sense…it’s being dubbed as “The Trump Surge” – which is just as handy as there are many similarities between Donald Trump and flatulence; namely that they are both entirely unwanted but still stink up a room whenever they’re introduced.

But although the old beaver-flap haired fella is awful, his apparent popularity says more about the climate of discontent than it does about the man himself…I mean if people are giving him a pass how bad must the other guys be in comparison, right? You see the problem with Donald Trump is simple and clear – it’s Donald Trump. But for the most part the other contenders come off as career politicians who are in it for themselves, and consequently cannot be trusted…they’ll back any cause, or make any promises just to get votes…all in the hope that they can repay the donations from billionaire elites with hushed deals and secret handshakes once in office – after all it is those figures who hold the true (and very scary) global power.

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So consequently as people become more aware of how strong a grip banks and big business possess they are gravitating away from the typical slick snake-tongued politicians and towards average-Joe ‘truth tellers’; by which I mean people who they feel represent themselves and tell it like it is, rather than just saying what they think the electorate want to hear. The same can be said about the rise of Jeremy Corbyn within the realms of British politics, who is seeking to completely flip the miserable script of austerity in the hope of something new for the UK – and although he is not everyone’s cup of tea, he has gained support in unprecedented numbers, especially among the young and disenfranchised…all because people consider him to be not just another lizard robot politician-puppet.

(Little side-note…haven’t you wondered why world leaders take so many holidays? Well it’s because they’re cold-blooded and NEED to bask in the sun for warmth. And again, have you ever witnessed David Cameron, or Barack Obama eat flies? No you haven’t – and why is that? Because they’re ultra-careful not to be caught so people don’t find out the hideous reptilian truth! OPEN YOUR EYES PEOPLE! THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE!)

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Ahem, anyway…what we have with Trump is hardly comparable to Corbyn (I was trying to be nice, and balanced – but screw it), you see instead of good common sense we have a typical offensive uncle-type spouting bigotry at whatever function he has been invited to. Except it’s not just your cousin’s wedding reception this time around…it’s the world, the global stage, and literally everyone has to hear all he has to say. Whether it be about Mexican immigrants being murderers and rapists, or women and their menstrual cycles, there is no topic that is off limits – so it’s less of a case of ‘I wonder if he will say anything controversial?’ and more just ‘what will he come out with this time?’ Because where other candidates would tip-toe Trump stomps through with enormous muddy boots on…not giving any real consideration or care about whatever vile babble comes out of his mouth, or who he tramples all over in his seemingly self-destructive speeches.

But despite this rather heinous resume of public speaking hiccups Trump still has everything to gain and nothing to lose. He won’t win, he won’t ever become president…but as strange as it sounds that’s not really his aim. He is joining the likes of Sarah Palin, and Hermain Cain who are simply using the process as a platform for attention and have no intention of ever getting into office – largely because they are not running out of political desperation but out of an ego-maniacal attempt to boost their own image and brand. (All funded by gullible people’s donations may I add.)

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However the fact that his ridiculous pantomime of a candidacy appears to be gaining steam and momentum remains really quite worrying – as it suggests a large section of the Republican party are so desperate for someone who isn’t Barack Obama that they feel only an extreme right wing political zealot will suffice…that someone who is deliberately oblivious to obvious problems is the man for the job…that a person who would openly suggest he feels the US police need more power in the wake of such overbearingly horrendous examples of corruption and terror is a person who should be an actual potential president of the United States of America…

…it’s bonkers to me, but what this whole charade unveils for me is one truth; that not all Republicans are racists – but most racists are Republican.

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BRITISH TEA (RIP)

Well my dearly beloved…I had prayed the day would never come – and yet…here it is…I’m saddened to report that I have indeed…sorry I promised myself I wouldn’t cry…

…ahem, I am saddened to report that…I have ran out of tea, and with this dagger to the heart – I have also ran out of hope, I am absolutely beside myself. 

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RIP.

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Escaping a Braying

A friend of mine recently created a lovely little video of my hometown, Sunderland. It’s the place we both grew up in, and the place we know as “home” no matter where we are in the world. The clip mainly follows through the countryside and coastal areas of the city- rather than the inner-city terraces that I grew up in – but I found it charming all the same, and it soon had me reminiscing of my past life there, and the many friends and memories I still deeply treasure to this day…

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Mind, that’s not to say that life there is always smooth sailing! And I think this story from the childhood archives should prove that! But you know what? You’ve got to take the rough with the smooth, and the good with the bad – and always, always make sure you laugh at the negatives later…

I’m going to stop my rambling and just get on with it, so without further adieu, here it is; ‘Escaping a Braying’:

          Every Wednesday without fail was “Mamoo and Grandar” day. So on days off we’d be there from morning to night, but if it was school term time then we’d have to wait for the bell to go…and it was only then that we could make our way to their home, and their sofa. You’d desperately want to be the first one there to get a proper seat, and dibs on the stuff we weren’t normally allowed; the stuff that rots your teeth and makes you fat – the stuff that other kids had in their lunchboxes every day – you see that’s the kind of stuff that was in Grandar’s biscuit tin. 

It was our little haven, just a few rooms that offered so much. You could have sugar in your tea as long as you kept it a secret, and if there wasn’t anything on the television Grandar would always have old cowboy films he was keen to show us…we could take or leave them usually, but he added a whole new dimension; giving running comedic commentary, and repeating the dramatic lines in even more dramatic voices…“DYAAAA FEEL LUCK-EE, WELL DOOYA – PUNK?!” He was, and still is – the funniest man alive, so sometimes I’d laugh so much at his little routines that I’d spill things on the floor – but it was never a big deal: “these things happen” they’d say. And Buster would probably eat it right up anyway.

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Eventually my Mother or Father would pick us up, and then we’d moan and ask to stay longer – so sometimes they’d sit to have a cup of tea and ask them how’s it going, but sometimes they wouldn’t. As we drove away we’d turn back and Mamoo would be waving us goodbye,  and she’d keep waving and waving until we couldn’t see her anymore. Mamoo is what we called my grandma, although we didn’t ever call her grandma unless we were talking to other people outside of the family…friends at school and others like that who would demand an explanation…it was just more bother than it was worth, so many why why whys and it always came across as weird for some reason. But to my siblings and I, she was undoubtedly Mamoo. Which is pronounced “Ma-maw” by the way…a baby’s mis-pronunciation that stuck forever.

 I remember one of the Mamoo and Grandar days more clearly than any other. I was walking over there, and was already late – probably detention for something that didn’t even really matter; laughing with friends, talking in class, not doing homework – something stupid,  that somehow  translates to a heinous crime at school. I was so late that all the other kids had cleared out from the streets and were nowhere to be seen; I was happy about this as I had to pass by another school to get to Mamoo and Grandar’s house and they didn’t take too kindly to St. Aidan’s lads, or Bent Aidan’s as they fondly referred to us as thanks to our all-male make up. Problem was there was no hiding my allegiance to this suspected homosexual club as the uniform marked me out…in black, white, and the gold stripes of my tie.

Anyway, I was late so hopefully nothing would happen this time arou-

“YA FUKEN BENDER!! OI…OI…OI, YA FUKEN BENDERR! OI!”

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Spoke too soon. There were three or four voices behind me, but I didn’t turn to look – all I knew was that they were advancing quickly, but some way away yet. “HEW! HEWWW! SCUSE ME?!” One of them suddenly remembered his manners, but I guessed that it wouldn’t change the possibility of him booting me in the face with his Rockport boots. “OI YA FUKEN BENDERR MAN!!” It was the same voice, but with a significant change in tactic. I hurried my pace, but didn’t want to run…if I ran it would be like attacks on those nature documentaries with the lions and the gazelles, running would encourage more running, and I was no runner. So I just moved a little faster, but tried to move my arms at a normal sort of speed so as not to arouse suspicion…perhaps it wouldn’t look so obvious and I’d be out of sight in no time! Or maybe if I got around a corner, then I could sprint, and just zigzag zigzag zigzag the streets in the hope of losing them? Well yeah, maybe. Maybe.

“ARNLY WANNA TALK TOOYA YA GAY FUKEN LIDL CUNT!”

I wasn’t so much in the mood for conversation, I just wanted to get to Mamoo and Grandar’s house – it was puddings in the corner day, and there’d probably be ice cream. I reached the end of the road and turned right…and started fleeing just the way I had planned – they didn’t seem to give chase, or if they did the adrenaline of sheer fear powered me beyond measure. I looped back around, and headed on a different route. When I’d caught my breath I took some time to reflect on how I could have probably taken them, and how I shouldn’t have ran – I mean, so what if they were older? I should have whipped out some karate moves, and used makeshift weapons out of things I could find around me…a brick as a hammer, a FOR SALE sign as a spear…I’d send them flying through windows – they’re lucky really, I let them off lightly. Next time they won’t be so lu-

Shining Horror GIF

“WHYAYEE! LOOK HUU IT IS!! FUKEN GAY BASTAARD!” 

Shit. They were only a few feet in front of me. I span on the spot and belted away as quickly as humanely possible despite being knackered as it is. A glass bottle spun past my head and shattered on the jagged pavement – as a strong odour of cheap vodka temporarily filled the air. One of them grabbed at my shoulders with grasping heavy hands, but I shrugged free and darted across the road, not sure of where I was heading. But they were faster. I felt a heavy club to the head, not sure what – and then a boot up my behind. I pushed away in every direction, and one lost balance…falling to the floor in a pile, with a dumb expression stretched across his face. This surprised the pack temporarily, and spared me a few precious seconds…

I was still some way from Mamoo and Grandar’s. There was no way I could run all the way back without them catching up and slamming my head off a lamp post several times, or whatever took their fancy this particular day. So I made a split-second decision, to use this space for an impromptu theatrical performance…I really hoped they would enjoy the show and would refrain from heckling…

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I opened a stranger’s gate, and walked up a stranger’s pathway through a stranger’s garden, and then knocked at a stranger’s door. I heard the lads follow me, and caught a reflection in the front room’s window…they looked unsure as to what was going on. I rapped faster at the door and began Scene 1: “Maaaaammm! Maaaaam!” I knocked again, harder this time – “Daaaad! Daaaad!” Open the door man, I’ve forgot my key!” The lads were stood in the middle of the pathway with a shared puzzled look glazed over their faces. I moved to the window and tapped it while looking around the stranger’s house, it was pretty nice and well decorated – I wasn’t sure what I’d do when I met the actress playing my Mam, or the actor playing my Dad…but this was true improv, and I was out of options. “Maaaaaam, Daaaad! Can you open the door?” I shouted through the letterbox this time…catching a whiff of a scented candle as I peered in…

I felt a small rock hit my back. “FUKEN GAY BASTARD MAN, YA LUK-EE. Awer man…let’s go…” I guess he was the leader and had made a collective decision for the group.  Thank God. I carried on with my little one man play until I was sure they were out of sight…then I double checked the area before continuing on my way to Mamoo and Grandar’s house…

Puddings in the corner were waiting in the microwave, and they’d left me some gravy too. Later we had caramel Rocky bars, but I’d missed out on the ice cream. “Why were you so late?” they mused as the television flickered…

Lies GIF

“Detention” I muttered, as I stood up to fetch another cup of tea with two secret sugars.

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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!

Broke? Travel Anyway!

I often get emails, and messages from people – asking the same question – “how do you afford travel? Are you from a rich family? Do you have connections? Did you get some crazy compensation deal – and have decided to blow it all on roaming the world rather than making sound investments?!” 

Well, no. No to all of those. I wish it was something as easy as being in a car accident – and getting free money, but it isn’t. It’s kind of like The Wizard of Oz…it looks like a spectacular vision until you see the cogs turning behind the curtain. Yes, the actual facts of the matter are a lot less glossy – and  whilst this may be hard to take for some…I actually work. 

Take my first major trip on my own, for example. My year abroad studying in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

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For two years before that I worked at an electrical store, moving televisions around, and trying to sell people outdated SCART cables they didn’t want…taking overtime whenever I could, whilst also taking shifts at my Aunt’s pub on the weekend…all the while squirreling away money whenever possible. With no disrespect intended, I wasn’t like the others that were accepted on to the study abroad programme (Newcastle UK – Atlanta USA) there would be no money from my Mother, or Father…I’m one of five children, I would feel rude even asking.

But I made it – and before I knew it I was in the midst of my own travel scrapbook! Carving out new memories for myself…whether it be visa worries at passport control, attempting to make the transition to the different pace of American life, or dancing insane jigs with Waka Flocka, I had flew from the ordinary day-to-day, and was living out these once impossible fantasies!

Sounds dreamy, dreamy – I’m sure? But the truth was my budgeted money soon ran out, and there were a couple of very hairy months – I recall that after weeks of eating next to nothing I sent my parents a whimpering email explaining the situation…and I received something along the lines of – “you’ll figure it out.” And I felt it was harsh, but the fact is…you will…if you want it that badly – you will. (And I’m still alive, so I guess I did!)

Study abroad programmes can be a great way to get away, and experience a different culture first hand – there are often great schemes, and incentives – with mine I was actually reimbursed for any costs throughout the year. Which meant I had thousands to play with at the end of it all – long story short, two weeks in Greece with some of my best friends from back home. 

My second major trip came just after I graduated university- although I was recruited before I had even been given my degree…and a month after I flew out to Beijing, China.

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Again I had saved, and saved working some terrible job – this time around it was a sportswear store, selling people trainers, and trying not to touch their sweaty feet as I assisted them with trying on their shoes. Not ideal – but a means to an end. This was just so I had some initial spends, as the programme actually flew me out at no cost, and many of the site-seeing trips, and other interesting adventures were paid for, or massively subsidised.

Either way, there I was again – in a totally foreign, and unknown environment…forced out of my comfort zone…but that’s what it’s all about…I was experiencing all of the weirdness, that was so different to anything the 9 to 5 version of myself would be encountering…whether it be bizarre disputes over taxi fares, relaxed views to public pooping, or trying to sample local dishes without being sick (such as dog) – I knew these were memories that would last a lifetime.

And thanks to the cheap day-to-day living China affords, I was able to save a little for the NEXT trip…you see, that is important – always have the next trip in mind. 

My third major trip to Scandinavia came unexpectedly…but was well worth it…

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My sister – someone who has worked all over the world with nothing more than a can-do attitude, and flexibility – found a two month long  job in the Arctic Circle at a remote lodge…it was placed right between Sweden, and Finland. Did I fancy it? Well…OF COURSE I DID! There was a catch though, we had to fly out (again at their expense, so no worries) the following day! You see, sometimes the opportunity comes abruptly, and if you ponder over it too much, it will go to someone else – you sometimes just have to grab it, and say YES! 

And I certainly did. Before I knew it I was crashing snowmobiles in Sweden, experiencing The Shining effect first hand in Finland, and after I finished my contract – experiencing the raw natural beauty of the Norwegian Fjords first hand.

The work was often not pretty; six day weeks, with long hours – and if my boss was ever pissed off he would make me scrub toilets for an ungodly amount of time…but still…huski racing? The Northern Lights? Spending a night in an igloo? You can’t tell me that wasn’t worth it. 

For my next major trip, I was off to South Korea! I scraped together the last of my meager savings – put up with the horrendous visa process…and then went on my way!

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And I couldn’t have asked for more! Yet again I was flown out at my employer’s expense, provided with a cosy home to stay in for free, and continue to live very comfortably – whilst also having an amazing time, with some amazing kids, in a truly amazing country! And, using Korea as a base, I have been able to save very efficiently, which allows for a great many adventures; including a  Christmas trip to Vietnam,  an interesting excursion to North Korea’s border, a heat-stricken jaunt to Nepal…back home to England, and Scotland – then on to Italy, Hungary, and Austriathen…well, you get the picture – the world suddenly doesn’t seem as hugely inaccessible as it once did!

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You see it’s not difficult, you just make it difficult. If you really want to travel, like really, really want to…then be willing to work, and be willing to take every opportunity. Rich, or not – you’ll get there – so stop just posting random sunset photographs, with “W A N D E R L U S T” etched over them, and start planning that next trip…and start filling up your passport, and with it your little book of memories. 

~

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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!

UK vs. USA

UK VERSUS THE USA!!!! WHO WILL WIN?! WHO IS BETTER?! BATTLE ROYALEEE! LET’S GET REAAAAAADY TO RUMMMMMMBLEEEEE!

Okay, it’s not as dramatic as all that but still…in this video I look at the differences between the UK and the USA…were are we similar? Were are we COMPLETELY different?!

I only name  few that I have encountered firsthand…did I miss any major ones? 

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!

www.facebook.com/storytimewithjohn

www.youtube.com/storytimewithjohn101

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