I am shopping for instant cappuccinos in Home Bargains (don’t judge me – my tastebuds are aspirational middle class but my wallet cannot back them up) when a woman in her early-60s cries out:
“Alan – it’s you!”
She greets me with utter certainty and gives me a hug. She smells of mints, nicotine and Brexit.
I’m blind-sided but – against my own will – instantly snap into autopilot.
Smiling in a frankly disturbing manner, I offer a piss-weak watery gambit:
“Oh hiya – how’s the family?”
While she chunters away about getting a new ring and more hours at her cleaning job, I try desperately to place her.
- Work? (possible)
- Distant relative? (also possible)
- Ex-girlfriend? (not possible – unless mind-damaging chemicals were in operation on both sides)
Continue reading “Bargain hunt (or the imperfection of memory and instant cappuccinos)”
If Hell is other people then public transport is the modern day equivalent of a ferryboat across the River Styx.
I don’t want to give too much of a slippering to buses and trains – communal transportation is great, connecting society and reducing isolation – what’s not to like, right?
The clue is in the word communal.
A person is fine, but when they multiply and become people then I find myself adopting the role of an alien sent to Earth who is trying desperately to fit in, but failing.
Perhaps I should explain here that since an early age I have been a magnet for malcontents, truculents and trumpets of all shapes, sizes, ages and genders.
Simply put – I have an unerring knack for finding fruitcakery – like a desperate pig on a truffle hunt.
If there’s awkwardness, embarrassment and potential thuggery I will draw it to myself – like water on a bathroom floor seeking dry sock. Continue reading “Misery on the buses – next stop Hell”
Masculinity is a foreign country: they do things differently there.
With due apologies to L.P. Hartley for mangling his wonderful line, that elegantly sums up how I feel about being a man.
The nature of manhood cropped up again recently when the New York Times published a frankly disturbing photo of Donald Trump Jr sitting on a tree stump sporting dad jeans, plaid shirt and dead eyes.
Is this what a real man looks like, I thought – faux-lumberjack outfit, awkward body language and an expression somewhere between bored menace and a Terminator having his hard drive defragged?
Truth be told, I’ve never been brimming with blokery – when it comes to chromosomes my X is next to my Y, but neither feels particularly comfortable – it’s like the Chuckle Brothers wearing skinny jeans or a coalition government. Continue reading “If Trump Jr is an alpha male then I’m an omega feminist”
It seems counter-intuitive that free speech might have a cost, but the more I look at social media, the more the true price becomes clear:
Our collective sanity.
The sheer volume of abuse, opinions and half-facts on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Buzzfeed et al is surely reaching event horizon.
There has to come a point of no return after which the crushing weight of invective and inhumanity collapses in on itself like a dead star.
(Before you point it out – I know this opinion piece itself is yet another piece of flotsam adding to the flood. I never said I wasn’t a hypocrite.)
I realised the deleterious power of social media first hand when I – briefly – trended on Twitter. Continue reading “Freedom of speech comes at a cost, says world’s oldest baby”
This statement isn’t going to blow your mind – in fact, it may not even wheeze on it to any significant degree.
But I think I’m content.
That’s no small thing – not in today’s societal stew of selfishness, intolerance and deranged one-upmanship.
Serve that broth with lashings of corporate-sponsored envy, a side order of sour grapes and then over-salt the whole thing with sensory-deadening threats wafting from every orifice.
Suddenly the dish is less appetising than Piers Morgan in a candy-floss thong.
So why am I content?
Why am I even – on occasion – happy? Continue reading “Don’t worry about being happy – feeling okay is good enough”
Care, share, create, connect, organise, act
Forget the Euro, dollar, pound or even the Smackeroony – cynicism is the new currency being traded across the world.
And cousin, business is a-booming.
If society is a stick of rock then the word cynicism is written through it on every strata – from kids on YouTube to flat-capped fogeys ranting about Islams at the bus stop.
Somewhere along the line we decided we’d had enough. Continue reading “Empathy for the Devil – Surviving Cynicism in 2017 “