Friday, 15 July 2016

Boris' New Big Boy Job




Boris zipped along on his Segway, pondering the new big boy job Aunty Theresa had just given him. He didn't understand the fuss everyone was making. Sure, he'd said some silly things, but who hasn't done that before!? It's not his fault he was raised privileged and unaware. What was he meant to do, educate himself? He had more important things to do, like make the kind of difference that made Aunty Theresa give him this big boy job in the first place.

It's like everyone had forgotten about Boris Bikes, thought Boris, they brought London so much closer to those marijuana smoking Dutch! And that wonderful speech about Whiff-Whaff he was allowed to make in front of all those foreigners at that foreign event, that went down a treat too! He'd even quite liked those bloody Commies, shame that Kim Jong-Un gentleman wouldn't let his people go South, Boris pondered, he'd heard the Americans planted a lot of palm trees back in the 70s, it must be lovely this time of year! Ah, and the sushi is simply spectacular!

Boris came to a screeching halt. The cars that had the unfortunate luck of being directly in front of Boris (as Boris liked to be on the right side of the road) had to perform various evasive maneuvers to avoid the new Foreign Secretary, crashing into all the other people that didn't want him to be there. Completely unaware of this, Boris was preoccupied. He'd stopped as he couldn't quite shake the very familiar feeling that he'd gotten something all mixed up. As usual, he ignored this sense that surely would bring around too much thinking (an unproductive measure that would surely encroach on the fun 'doing stuff' time) and pressed his Segway onwards at a slightly-faster-than-walking-pace speed.

Boris was feeling uncomfortable. He'd thought it best to wear protective gear for this outing but also wanted to look cool. To tackle this problem, Boris decided to wear his elbow and knee pads underneath his suit. The pads had started chafing but Boris daren't reveal them at risk of losing his coolness! This predicament reminded him of that pesky EU Referendum a couple weeks back. He'd met Nigel out at the park. Boris was trying to get to the last available swing and bumped into Nigel smoking behind a bush. In the kerfuffle a woman in a headscarf reached the swing first. Nigel made a comment about immigrants stealing everything, which Boris thought strange due to the woman's very strong Cockney accent. Nige (he'd told him he could call him Nige, Boris liked that, although, he preferred his version of calling him the N Dog, but Nige didn't seem to like that one) then continued his explanation, telling Boris how he planned to make Britain 'British' once more and something about giving £350 million to the NHS. Whilst Boris pondered this big number, Nige made a joke about some old Germans having 'the reich idea, if you know what I mean!' Boris, in fact, did not know what he meant. He did, however, want to maintain his budding friendship so chortled an agreeable, 'quite.' Before you knew it Boris was driving around in a big red bus with some choice statements that turned out to be a little bit not true. 'Completely unavoidable if you ask me!' thought Boris, and he remembered how he never even got to try that new breakfast biscuit everyone was talking about. With that, Boris pushed back down all those pesky feelings of regret, just like mummy taught him and carried on.

It was late when he finally arrived at the big black door marked by the number 10, as he'd taken a detour to catch some more Pok√©mon, he had gyms to defend you see. He banged on the door that was soon opened by his Aunty Theresa in her garish leopard print robe and matching slippers. Theresa stared down at the man that looked and acted like a child in his too-big suit and protective gear as he mumbled about peaking and ... did he just sneeze?

Friday, 3 June 2016

The Pickup



‘Get in!', he demanded.

Simon had had a long day and was entering a longer night. He’d already driven to and from the city seven times and it was only a measly 10:18pm. His latest customers had just stumbled on past his silver Mercedes, despite the specific details given over the phone.

‘I’m on the street, round the corner, sat in a silver Mercedes.’ 

He couldn’t have been clearer! The Boss always said that Simon took the roundabout way. He needed to be more direct but he really couldn’t see how he could make it simpler!

Just before this almost-but-not-quite aggressive declaration at his wandering customers, Britney’s iconic 2003 hit 'Toxic’ began to play. Simon looked at his phone to see an unsaved number glowing on the slightly cracked screen. After some exchanging of keywords (he’d chosen to avoid full sentences, under the assumption that this would make him more efficient) Simon had another job already lined up. The Boss was really keeping him busy tonight!

So, off Simon sped to catch up with the two drunk Fraggles that were now stood in the middle of the street, one of them pulling out a phone, presumably to call him up and query his location.

The boy clambered into the backseat and the girl took the front seat, spewing some inebriated nonsense about the car being aloof.

'How ‘aloof’ could it be?’ thought Simon, it was literally the only car parked on the road.

As the girl, with bright pink hair and an accent only found amongst those subject to the most elite of educations, fumbled through her purse, Simon thought about his future. He thought about the beach house he’d buy in Miami with his imaginary Latina girlfriend that just wanted to please him. He thought about the stacks of money they used as sun loungers, as they had so much they had simply no other logical use for them. He dreamt about the panic room which lead into the huge armoury hidden in his basement, stocked with semi-automatic riffles, hand guns and grenades, a much needed feature to aid in his protection against the relentless friends of the Boss after her murder at Simon's hands. His lips contorted into what, for lack of a better term, one could call a smile -- he had gone to his happy place.

The wad of cash in the girl's hand yanked Simon from his Cuban-cigar-smoke-daze. He swiftly reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a small baggie containing a white powder. The change over was swift and Simon was surprised. He’d clearly misjudged the girl as new at this. Then again, those private school kids always had more money than sense, he thought. Also, with bright pink hair, what was to be expected?

‘Is it good shit?’ she inquired.

‘The best’, Simon replied, repressing his desire to tell the girl how ridiculous the question sounded when delivered in the Queen’s English.

Simon, lost in his own thoughts, again (maybe this is what the Boss meant about him not being simple enough?), didn’t notice that the girl had placed the baggie into her purse and proceeded to immediately believe she lost it.

‘Oh shit! Harry, check if it’s in there!’, she screeched, throwing her purse at the boy in the back.

Harry, who had been silent till now, replied in an equally articulate manner, ‘is what in here?’

‘Jesus’, Simon thought, eager to rid himself of these annoyances.

As Simon was executing the greatest eye-roll of his entire 26 years, the back door swung open. Turning round in a flash, Simon saw the bobble head of a man twice the age of the customers he already had in his car and, judging by his slurred ‘y’alright mate’, was twice as drunk as them too.

‘Hold on mate! These guys are customers too!’, he replied, desperate to already fix the volatile situation looming.

Harry had clocked on to the what he and his friend were sat in this strangers' car for and with a, ‘oh, yeah, it’s here’, confirmed the transaction had taken place.

The two Eton Mess’ fell out of the car to a choir of, ‘sorry about that mate, cheers man, cheers!’ It was all frightfully English of them.

One door shut as the other stayed open to let in the ageing bobblehead who, diving across the threshold, lay like one of Jack’s French girls across the entire back seat. 


Simon was most definitely in for a long night.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Paper Straws



I simply cannot support the paper straw industry.

Why am I being made to drink through paper? Do you know what happens to paper when immersed in liquid? It has more of a breakdown than me the night before my dissertation deadline. It's an assault on both ends; my drink dismantles one half and the moist nature of my mouth sees to the other. I'm sure Mother Nature is sobbing nearly as much as I am at the soggy debris that used to be a tree older than Betty White, left floating in my beverage.

"But James, if the straw bothers you so much, why don't you just not use it?" I would if I could, assumed commenter of this rant, believe me! The problems that prevent me are much too great for such a simple solution! An establishment pretentious enough to place paper in a drink is pretentious enough to make the vessel holding said drink some fucking weird jar, making the sweet nectar it contains accessible only by a straw or a humming bird's beak and, since I'm not Birdman, I'm shit out of luck in this Pintrest k-hole.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not against straws at large -- they are the missing link between my love for an icy beverage and the curse of sensitive teeth. And I can appreciate the 'prettiness' of the paper straw, but, do you know what else can have a pretty pattern? Plastic.

I'd honestly prefer drinking my coffee through a beer bong than with a paper straw; at least then I can enjoy it without feeling like I'm repeatedly licking a notepad.

Though, I guess they are very pleasing to the eye...

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

The Floor is Lava




The heat has me by the throat. A white-knuckle grip, squeezing the life from my sweating body. It's hard to tell what is more intense, the lava that gurgles beneath my stone pillar or the competition. When the prize is your life, second place is never an option. The rules are simple: survive.

Ignoring the screams of my body I let my instincts take over; they're all I have now and I have to move. Leaping to a nearby column, I fall short. With one leg dangling, I heave myself up, feeling the blood already gushing down my leg. This will cost me. I look back to the platform I just left and see it crumble from the impact of my competitor's attack. They plummet into the flames with it. One less to worry about.

I check the time and see how little of it we have left. There must be a winner and, with five minutes left, people are going to get desperate. If you can even call us people anymore; we lack humanity, it's a weakness here.

Screaming. Shrill cries of pain erupt as more hopefuls plunge to their fiery demise. My last shreds of morality hope it is a quick death for them. The screams aren't just of pain, there's a war cry. I need to keep moving.

Leaping from surface to surface my tracks are marked with my blood and the wounds made by the ammunition of some mystery savage; I was next.

The heats grip tightens and my head and lungs throb as my heart pounds, fuelled only by adrenaline and a desire to live. I stop paying attention to my route, I need to get away, I wasn't ready to fry. Lunging myself onto a sliver of stone jutting out from the cave wall, I embrace for impact. I'm winded but I have to keep going, I have t-- the platform begins to quake and I cling on as it loosens and slides down the wall at breakneck speed. C r a s h ! Dazed, I find myself lying in the rubble and dust, between a rock and a hard place. This could work. I can wait out the time remaining here. My pursuer must think me dead. There's less than 3 minutes till the hour is done. Then I look up...

As the dust settles I see the shadow of the hunter that lead me here, cornering me in this trap. Through the mirage of heat the figure stands tall and menacing. It could only be Annabelle from Accounting. She's ruthless. She makes her way towards my prison of stone and I see she is not alone. She's teamed up with Henry from HR. I knew they'd had something going on, rumours have been going around the office for weeks! I guess that doesn't matter now, none of it does.

Heaving rocks from off my battered body, I manage to clamber to my feet. They gain momentum as they track me down through this hell-hole. Dodging the wads of paper that are flying all around me, I need to make it to the coffee machine. I can fashion my own peashooter there (I left a pen on top of it yesterday in anticipation).

Suddenly, I'm sideswiped. Annabelle has lurched onto the counter with me with a force that sends us toppling -- that bitch! My trouser leg dips into the lava but it's fine, my foot hasn't touched the ground. We land on an office chair and enter into a violent spin before slamming into the table.

--

At all this commotion Emma enters the break room. She sees Annabelle from Accounting and Gillian from Sales in a strange knot under the table. The rest of her staff is gathered on sofas and counters jeering and chanting; 'what on earth is going on in here!?' Silence falls. In a meek voice Gillian replies, 'err... team building...'

Monday, 7 March 2016

The Time I Searched for the Millennium Bug

December, 1999

Whilst I snow-angeled in Christmas wrapping paper, playing with the boxes my new toys came in and gorging myself on Dairy Milk selection boxes, there was a certain unease in the air; would this be the last Christmas as we knew it? The Millennium Bug -- a flaw in computer systems -- would the clock tick over to 2000? Would data storage sink into disrepair? Would we make it!?

January, 2000

We made it. The computers made it. The apocalypse never came and talks of the Millennium Bug diminished. But what was this bug? Being the nearly-5-year-old-James that I was, I took it upon myself to find out.

Off I went, 'I'm going to the park' I told my parents; they could never know of my daring adventure to find the insect that could still run amuck, they'd never let me go, 'you brave fool! Let someone else go!' they'd cry. It was better this way.

Wrapped in my winter wears, I was prepared for the treacherous journey I would potentially embark upon. Where to start? My knowledge was limited. Luckily, I grew up in a valley and knew where to find bugs. So I went to the park (quite the genius idea, as now I was going to find the bug and I wasn't lying to my parents, so they would still love me).

There were multiple parks to choose from mind you, so I started the best I knew: the closest. This small park consisted of a roundabout, slide, see-saw, tic-tac-toe game and a bench. But I wasn't here for the entertainment of playground apparatus. I meant business. Surrounding the park were trees, not a dense forest but it was a start.

As I entered the greenery I suddenly noticed how alone I was. There was nobody walking through the park, no joyous laughter of children playing. Silence. The wind blew cold and stinging. This wouldn't be for the faint-hearted.

I turned over branches and kicked about leaves, my eyes traced trees from root to tip, studying every inch of bark. Searching. I knew not what this bug would look like but I knew I'd know it when I saw it.

Suddenly, a rustle in the undergrowth. My heart sank to my wellies. Frozen, I stared at the spot that came to life without warning. I'd found it. I'd angered it. Panicked, I ran from the trees, darting across the grass of the playground, it's blades scarred by the feet of adventurers past. I returned home shaken. I'd awoken the bug. I'd doomed us all. Who was I to think that nearly-5-year-old-me was the person for this dangerous mission? My anxiety meant I barely spoke, my curiosity took over. Never again I thought. Back in my room, I hid and played, trying to forget this ordeal, thinking of how I'd have to eventually break the news to my parents.

A few days past and the bug never attacked. No more mention had been made and my conscious had begun to clear. Maybe I hadn't roused it completely from it's slumber? Maybe it feared me and my confidence in seeking it out? Maybe I squished it in my panicked escape? Whatever the case, I daren't mention it. Just incase.

--

I'm 21 now and feel like I could handle the Millennium Bug if it ever tries to attack again. I've never ventured back amongst those trees though.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Thoughts on Dating


I don't know why people date.

I mean, I do it too... but I don't particularly enjoy it.

I'll find myself going out on a series of dates with a series of people and it's all the same thing; who are you? What do you do? Please laugh at my dad jokes! Now, the majority of my dates have been through good ol' Tinder so, adding to the same-old of the dating world comes fan favourite questions such as; 'do you feel like I catfished you with my flattering angles and charming, well edited wit?' and 'how tall did you say you were again?' Quite the repetitive headache indeed.

AND THIS IS ALL THE FIRST DATE!

If you're lucky enough to regularly get at least a second date then please, teach me your ways. I must seem great on paper alone as first dates aren't too hard for me to get if I want one (quite the sad and lonely humble brag). It's the not being completely ghosted by a once keen and willing potential mate that I struggle with.

I think people that date often don't even want relationships, they just want some attention and affection for a while. I'm the exact same. If they're anything like me, they'll be super into their new interest for a couple of weeks and then be so far over it, there will be fresh rumours of human flight. But, this is of course if they reciprocate my newly birthed devotion. If we go on a date, or a couple of dates, and then I'm ghosted, I delve into a pit of self doubt as I'm abandoned by the most recent love of my life; how dare they throw away those 5 days of trivial conversation -- complete savages.

Like I said, most of my dating prospects have been scouted through an app and I've actually only dated one person through the traditional means. I should probably try that out more. I mean, my mum and dad met as my dad walked up to the bar my mum was working behind and asked for 'two pints and a packet of peanuts' and my sister was approached by my brother-in-law in a bar where he threw some ice on the floor and said 'just thought I'd break the ice'.

My last date was initiated by a message that just said 'fuck you're hot'. In my defence, it was a great ego boost and he used the right 'you're'. He also never texted me back though, so there's that too.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

21 Things


I turned 21 on February 13th. Here's what I've learnt so far:
  1. People don't care about you as much as you think they do
  2. That is not a bad thing.
  3. Go out and do what you want to do
  4. Because you have to
  5. Things don't just happen.
  6. There's always going to be things that are difficult or you don't want to do
  7. Get used to it
  8. They're never as bad as you think they'll be.
  9. It's not unusual to feel overwhelmed
  10. What matters is how you react to things.
  11. If you feel awful feelings far too often then find someone to talk to about it
  12. You'd be surprised at how many people can relate to you.
  13. Don't lie in an attempt to impress people - it's never worth it.
  14. Friendships, like relationships, run their course
  15. People change, as will you, and that is a great thing
  16. You can maintain those relationships that matter but you have to put the effort in.
  17. Dance to the ABBA classic 'Dancing Queen' as often as possible at age 17 (it's not the same at any other age).
  18. Try not to let yourself be pressured into things; go at your own pace.
  19. Open yourself up to as much literature, music, art, film, theatre and t.v. as possible
  20. Accept and love that you really know nothing
  21. The world is full of unique people you can learn from.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

James and The Cat Burglar




I live in a first floor flat with my friend Jess. My room features a large window that opens, almost completely, onto the flat roof of a garage below. Whilst being quite a small room, there is still a double bed; how? It's up on a kind-of-mezzanine, out of sight from the street below.

Now, even with this Pintrest bed, I don't sleep well. At all. I usually manage about 4 or 5 hours a night, giving up on my dreams of dreaming at around 3/4am. This unusual 'sleeping pattern' means I get tired in the middle of the day.

One sunny afternoon, I was feeling extra tired so treated myself to a mid-day nap. With my window slightly ajar, partially covered by the curtain lazily draped over it, I snoozed to the songs of birds and the hum of passing cars.

I remember my dream distinctly. A friend had bought another friend of ours a surprise gift. The brown parcel, however, got mixed up in some scenario that meant it got delivered to the friend, with their name on it, ruining the surprise. Looking back on it now, dream James thought this to be a bigger deal than it was.

I was woken up suddenly. There was an aggressive knocking at my front door that rattled the entire house. Dealing with this, however, was not on my agenda. So, with a 'not today Satan' attitude, I did what any sleepy student would do and ignored it.

Back in my dream, I was enlisted to break into my friend's house, steal the package and get out. I got in. I got the package. I got caught. At this point I entered a life on the lam. With an entire police squadron on my tail, I navigated my way through the streets like a paparazzi trying to chase down a 2007 Britney.

I'd just jumped a quad bike over some cardboard boxes, when I was awoken by a solid *thud*.

Pissed off and confused at this disturbance I sat up. Looking down from atop my hobbit hole, a man, dressed like a handyman, was partway through my window. A black tool bag was on my floor -- the source of the awakening *thud*, I assumed. This is the conversation that pursued:

Me, calmly, with sleep in my eye and bitterness in my heart, 'what the fuck are you doing?'

Him, startled and just as confused as me, 'I-I-I'm here for a paint job!'

'I wasn't told about a paint job?'

'I-I-I'm here for a paint job... for Mr. Patel. I'm here for a paint job for Mr. Patel'

'I don't even know a Mr. Patel', at this point he has picked up his tool bag and backed all the way out of the window. Then I found a flaw in his logic, exasperated, I continued, 'you don't have any paint, also, we have a fucking door?'

'No, I'm here for a paint job for Mr. Patel. I'll go call him now'

'Ok...'

He leaves. After about 15 minutes, accepting that what had happened wasn't a dream, I climbed down from my bed and went to see if I could see my eager guest from the window. My thought process was as follows, 'I can't see him on a phone call... there's no van or anything either... oh wait... I don't think he was here for a paint job for Mr. Patel'.

With this realisation I called the police, then Jess and then my sister -- growing more unsure if the events I was describing actually happened with each call. The police came to speak to me about the whole event and gave me some advice about keeping the curtains closed and always having a light on if the window was open. They were very helpful and sympathetic towards the confused man-child before them, who was more upset about being woken up and lied to then anything else.

This was a couple months ago and, following the advice I was given, was an isolated incident. That was until a week or two ago. I'd had my window open one day and, time getting away from me, it was dark before I closed the window or turned a light on.

Out of nowhere, a bright torch light came beaming into my room. It lingering, I turned a light on with the intent to investigate the obvious aliens that had come for me. The torch light immediately turned off and I swiftly heard the sound of someone landing a jump. Racing to the the window, I saw a young guy in a hat powering, head-down, down the dark street.

'Jess! I think someone's just tried to climb through my window again!'

'You're fucking kidding!'


Thursday, 21 January 2016

The Time I got Stuck in a French Toilet Cubicle

When I was 9 my family went on a holiday to France. Now, I'm accustomed to certain conditions whilst travelling, four walls and a ceiling being very high on that list. Yes, someone had the bright idea for us to go on a 'camping holiday'. It was our first and last.

The tents were those big ones with multiple rooms, a kitchen, all those things that are meant to be inside a solid structure. Being a tent however, there was a severe lack in a restroom -- that was a communal feature.

One morning I awoke from my nylon peasant quarters and ventured to the restroom; a solid structure (finally, a familiar face) comprising of multiple sinks and individual cubicles, containing either a shower or a toilet. Little, naive, untainted-by-the-world, 9 year-old James entered one of these cubicles, locked the door and did what he needed to do. He then tried to leave. Tried to leave.

So, here we have a young lad: trapped in a French campsite bathroom cubicle, furiously banging on the door and walls surrounding him, calling for help, cursing his lack of French speaking, life flashing before his eyes. Admittedly, the latter was a brief experience. 

Hours passed by as I struggled on with only the bewildered French campers to hear my plea for sweet freedom. I resigned myself to my new toilet home; my future down the drain and present curled up and crying on the floor. I had entered the acceptance stage of the grief for myself.

Time continues and the world goes on; showers are had; teeth are brushed; bladders are relieved; but not my prison sentence. Now death would be my only relief.

With tears in my eyes I lashed out one last time at the door to my coffin. Mustering up the most hurtful thing I could say to this inanimate object, 'you stupid BLOODY DOOR!', I gave it an aggressive tug to match -- that'll show my defiance, I thought. The door then swung open with such ease, you'd think it was designed to do as such.

I walked back to the glorious polyester palace that I got to call my home like a naked Cersei Lannister strutting through King's Landing, forever changed.

In reality, I'd been gone for about 15 minutes and the door was just a bit stuck and in need of a really hard tug. My family were completely unaware of the traumatic events that went on and are, to this day, unknowing. From this I could've chosen to take a life lesson about persistence and approaching things from different angles. I haven't though. I just fucking hate camping.