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.

Scary Business GIF

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!)

Tin Foil Hat GIF

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.)

Sarah Palin GIF

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.

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!

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. 

Tea

RIP.

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!

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…

Feels GIF

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.

Dog Hands GIF

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!”

Scaredy GIF

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…

Madness GIF

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.

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!

The Illusion of Choice

I am often saddened by the fact that in the adult world, imagination and pure magic seems to be overlooked, or even forgotten after we make that unsure step (or are dragged kicking and screaming) to adulthood. It is unveiled that Santa Claus is not real, soul mates are strictly for movies, and that putting cheese on everything will eventually kill us. In short the magic of life becomes a much more grey, boring affair. 

Life GIF

But I am here to tell you that there is some magic in the world! Sure it’s not all unicorns, and magic gnomes – but it is still confusing, bewildering, and at the same time vaguely impressive! Just like a good magic show! 

Better yet this magic act is free for all citizens of the UK! (if you are over  the age of 18). And how does it work? Well, all you have to do is register, and you are good to go! Simple as that!  Just write your name down, cross some boxes, and watch as the wonders of ‘The Illusion of Choice’ play out in front of you! Behold the beautiful intricacies of  the illusionists’ system as your vote goes in, and disappears into irrelevancy! WOOOOSH – AND IT’S GONE! NOW YOU SEE IT, NOW YOU DON’T! 

Think the ‘sawing a person in half’ trick – except it’s not a person, it’s your country’s future, and your standard of living being madly hacked into…not as showy sure, but still stupefyingly well orchestrated. But how do they do it? Well I’ll tell you! Or at least try…

I’ll start off with a bit of background. Okay so there’s these parties, right? But not like fun parties with alcohol, snacks, and memorable stories to recount the day after. No, no. They are groups with so-called shared interests, that club together under the same banner. So in theory you pick a group which matches your views, and then roll with them…maybe you are a business owner and think there should be tax breaks in commercial industries, or perhaps you place importance with family values, or the environment, or immigration – or whatever the hell you believe in. You match yourself up, and make your decision!  (BLANK) I CHOOSE YOU!

I Choose You GIF

But here’s the really clever bit…IT DOESN’T FUCKING MATTER WHICH ONE YOU PICK, EVERYTHING IS ALREADY PREORDAINED! Just like the  “pick a card, any card” trick bit!

You see my blessed green land isn’t quite what it used to be…gone are the days of moral value, and ambitious hope that will ever be even partially fulfilled – instead every election is like waiting up for Santa Claus, or the Easter Bunny and finding there is nothing there at all…and that it was basically all a very well manufactured lie. So believeable…such a strong back-story…but wait – where are the presents, where are the chocolate eggs they said would arrive?! WAIT – and who has taken all of our possessions and smeared human faeces all over the walls?!

It seems that my so-called United Kingdom is more disenfranchised than ever…and serves as a rather senseless vehicle – with only one forward motion that helps only bolster the privilege of the unfathomably wealthy global elite. It fails the ordinary muggles on quite literally every level – ensuring that social progress (or at least social progress that will assist them) is made impossible thanks to the difficulty of gaining any form of useful employment, or decent education, or even a life that doesn’t revolve around a cycle of debt.

Even when you get a non-lizard looking type…they are just high level mages, and that is it. The Liberal Democrat’s Nick Clegg for example…oh boy, did he have me fooled at one point along with the rest of his band of merry men. But no, silly me – they were just like the rest of them – with a wave of their magic wand away went all of their commitment to literally everything they had once opposed/been in favour of, instead shape-shifting into a Conservative guise as if it wasn’t a big deal. Mind blowing stuff. 

Apologies for the cynicism…but it is well deserved. It really doesn’t matter that the Conservatives won, they would all have fucked us over regardless.  

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!

Scotland says NO, NO, NO.

I have had a week to mull on Scotland’s referendum vote…here are my thoughts and views on the whole thing – YES, YES – THIS POST IS ABOUT POLITICS, SORRY! BUT IT’S IMPORTANT PEOPLE! (I won’t be offended if you skip this one though – but this is just my two pence on an issue that is dear to me!) I’m not mad at you for rolling your eyes…just stand there while I – WHAAAACK!

Lash GIF

“DEMOCRACY DEAD?! PFFT! TAK’ THAT, MAN!”

Scotland has voted no, SCOTLAND HAS VOTED NO! Seriously how fucking great would the UK actually be without Scotland? That would be false advertising at the very least…as an Englishman born and raised in the North East I am shocked, but genuinely overjoyed that Scotland remains part of the United Kingdom family – perhaps it’s selfish of me, but it was a horrible feeling to imagine that all of a sudden, overnight; there would be a clear division between people, friends and even families. I mean it would suddenly be a foreign delicacy for me to pick up my favourite (haggis and chips) from my local chippy! Would I still celebrate Robbie Burns night with my family, as we have all my life?

For 300 years we have been British, I know personally that I always eager to refer to myself as British rather than just English, as I am proud to relate myself to each and every member country of the union…I am not the only one, as the number of people living in Scotland who chose British as their national identity rose from 15% in 2011 to 23% in 2014, according to the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey. The number of people who chose Scottish fell from 75% to 65% over the same period…numbers don’t lie, surely.

Having spent a lot of time abroad, including North America and Asia – I have lost count of the amount of times I have been assumed to be Scottish due to a mixture of my accent and attitude. Even when I explain, and point it out on the map people are unclear – and when faced with the standard Americanized question: “so what part of London are you from?” intended as a synonym to: “so what part of England are you from?” I have found myself telling them I hail from nowhere near London! And in their eyes I become basically Scottish. Therein lies something important, there is a blur between the union countries, that can’t just be split up, divided, and disenfranchised just because of imaginary lines on a piece of paper.

The fact is that England isn’t just London, Great Britain isn’t just London, and the United Kingdom is not just London. We must have fair representation for all, and it appears that those in the North of England and Scotland are those who are the most overlooked when it comes to actual physical change and governmental effort. The thought process appears to be that as most of the big offices are centered in London, this is where most of the funding should go…leaving many to struggle and strive just to survive, never mind live a life full of conquered dreams and happiness. Due to this rather bleak outlook, it was certainly amusing for many of us to see every English politician resolutely shit their respective y-fronts at the thought that the YES campaign may be successful…at the same time, the hashed together, last minute approach from them actually served to speak volumes for how they really feel. Very disappointing.  I spoke with Scottish friends before the vote and they were disgusted and appalled, well…they were not their exact words…but you can use your imagination.

I don’t blame the Scottish people for seeking out independence, in fact if I was Scottish by birth and not just by historical lineage I would be all for it (my surname is Taggart, I don’t think you get more Scottish than that! Maybe William Wallace, but that’s about it!) So in that sense there will be widespread disappointment among many – after all, 45% of the vote (1.6 million people) voted FOR independence….that’s a huge number of people who took a stand at what they saw to be a broken system, something that simply didn’t work for them. I can certainly empathise, after all the boost that the YES campaign received was in part due to support on a massive level from younger voters, and the working class portion of the Scottish population…places like Glasgow, Dundee, North Lanarkshire post-industrial locations that appear to have been royally fucked over, stripped of all they have and left to rot. There are parallels here to coal mining and ship building cities in the north of England, such as my hometown Sunderland, go in any real pub and I promise you will meet people who still hold grievances attributed to life after Margaret Thatcher, and how the place was before all of that mess…

Braveheart quote GIF

One thing that can be said is that in the northern territories of the UK there is a great sense of pride, and a collective nature that binds the people together, this whole referendum and the media storm that circled it have proved at least one thing…that the referendum has been a working class revolt against austerity measures. It seems, enough is enough. BBC’s Andrew Marr  had this to say: “What started as a vote on whether Scotland would leave the UK has ended with an extraordinary constitutional revolution announced outside Downing Street by the Prime Minister.” You see, by pushing the Better Together group (NO voters) into an awkward corner, where it actually began to look like they may lose…leaders were forced to make last minute hasty concessions that they hadn’t expected…in doing so the cogs have began to turn, and look set for further change.

In a dream world Scotland would just absorb the North of England and we could all just tell the Labour and Conservative drones to fuck the fuck off. But that appears to be highly improbable. I’ll be saying my hail Marys though, you know just in case… 

People have began talks of more devolution of power…I mean, the folks in Wales and Northern Ireland will surely see this as a sign that they can receive more, surely it is only fair? More exciting is the idea of devolved powers for REGIONS – a more federal, American style model I suppose, which may demand a formal constitution to lay out set rules that can’t be quibbled. This has grown, and evolved far, far beyond just a nationalistic and patriotic march – and has instead leaped forward and tapped into a profound discussion on the United Kingdom we all want for the future. At the very least this is the start of a conversation that could lead to a more fair system…but we must keep the momentum going, people have short memories – there was a referendum in November 2004 on devolved powers to Northern England (not Scotland however), it was scrapped after the voters of the North East rejected the proposal by almost 78% landslide…what’s to stop the same thing happening again?  

When you consider the 2004 outcome, which had a horrific 49% turnout – it shows how much of a testament to the people of Scotland the unprecedented 85% turnout was – I mean 85% of voters turned up to lodge their opinion, 85% of them cared and wanted their opinion (YES, or NO) heard…it shows that people do care, and people do want to be part of positive changes that can move themselves forward. It proves that as much as Westminster may believe that the voting public are basically apathetic drones, they are wrong. So lets keep going, unified in our desire for a more fair and all encompassing system – let us harness that momentum for change, and join together with the many millions of disenfranchised and overlooked people across all four nations who also demand an alternative to the cynical Westminster styled view of a future in which good healthcare and education are a privilege rather than a right; let’s make some sort of legacy, let’s make something to be proud of.

I truly do hope that this is the start of something good, like most up these frosty parts I don’t trust those down Westminster as far as I could throw them, but I’ve seen the Scottish caber toss – so maybe with them as friends, that gives us some strength going forward.

English Scottish GIF

“PALS?”

“OH AYE.”

The Embassy Strikes Back: The Return of the Passport.

This is a travel tale…but with a difference – this time it won’t be about my own adventures…instead it’s about a close personal friend of mine, he has saw me through some tough times, and has been with me through thick and thin – he’s a travel companion of sorts, who has recently had his own first solo voyage.

I’m talking of course, about my passport.

Image

 

You see my passport finally returned to me yesterday, it was such a joyous moment – filled with laughter and happiness! When I first saw it I just stared at it in disbelief…it’d been so long…but it almost felt like we had never parted – then I snapped out of this romantic daydream, and remembered the NIGHTMARE that has been the last couple of months…

Continue reading “The Embassy Strikes Back: The Return of the Passport.”