Week 26: Jog On Son

Friday 29th June 2018

Reading time 3minutes 19 seconds

“Running is not about being better than someone else… It’s about being better than you used to be.” – Khloe Kardashian

Since my hip operation(s) I have been gifted with two new legs. It has led to me trying loads of experiences that have previously been unavailable and recently I’ve sadly become a runner. It’s as if I’m starring in my very own sanitary product advert. Roller Skating is next.

Young me would be disgusted by this. As a teenager I told a mate, who was keen on sprinting for busses, that running is pointless as there will be another one along soon so let’s just take it easy and stroll. He took my words to heart so much that to this day he still hasn’t exercised and added to that he smokes and drinks like a trooper. When he dies I will have blood on my hands.

The reason I like running is a mystery to me. How can an exercise hurt my neck, my right eye and my ear simultaneously? Those body parts are not involved and are just passengers on a journey that ultimately always ends back on my sofa.

Every Saturday like thousands of other fools I partake in Park Run. This phenomenon is organised by volunteers and runs take place around the globe, for free, every weekend. At my local woods, for example, 250 people turn up each week to run 5k, which in old money is 3.1 miles. The .1 is very important, as is old money.

On a recent run a child passed me around the 4-kilometre mark. I heard the kid say to their ‘appropriate adult’ [a term used in the health and safety speech which I believe stops upsetting non- parents]. “See Daddy I’d told you I’d beat the little fat man.”

The Dad looked at me with a little shame but some humour. His look tried to convey “Kids Eh!” whereas I read it as “I failed as a parent”.

Normally this wouldn’t have bothered me, but it did. 

The child was around 6 years old and my entire attire was older and probably hand made by younger children.

While the ‘fat little man’ description may have been accurate the words stung so I decided I was going to show this cocky little kid, and the loser Dad, exactly the sort of person they were messing with. I was going to beat them to the finish line.

With a kilometre of the run remaining this was proving to be a mistake. My body had given up and it was only bloody mindedness that was keeping me going. I’d run twenty of these Park Runs and they were not getting easier, in fact the complete opposite was happening.

The child’s heritage was more advantageous than mine. The Dad had previously run a London Marathon as stated with his “I’ve run the London Marathon T-Shirt” whereas my Dad had only ever run to a bar.

The organisers are keen to tell you it’s not a race, and the kid didn’t even know it was in a race, but as we approached the finish line I started to sprint. The kid was about 15 feet in front of me and hadn’t even broken into a sweat whereas I was treading in puddles of it. It was now neck and neck though and over my wheezing, panting and grunting I could hear Vangelis playing. I looked as though I was going to have a coronary but that didn’t matter as I knew I could still “win”.

Then the Dad said “come on let’s RUN the last bit.” Run the last bit? What were we doing now? The child then became Roadrunner and I was Wiley Coyote, albeit a short, fat one. Beep Beep.

I passed the finish line in second place and collapsed. My recovery time turned out to be longer than the run.

My editor and proof reader for this story asked if the above was true. The only thing I changed was the child’s age as I think she was around 4. 

I’ve decided I’m going to carry on running, but not sprinting. 

I always thought people listened to music for inspiration while running, now I know it’s to drown out the funny yet very descriptive words of children.

Picture: A Door from the mid 1800’s when everyone was my size.

Week 25: Fighting on a plane

Friday 22nd June 2018


Reading time 3 minutes 58 seconds 

I actually owe it to society to do something about this! I can’t sit by and allow this to go on. It’s a moral issue is what it is! – Jerry Seinfeld – Seinfeld

Have you ever been late for a flight? Or worse a connecting flight? It happened to my partner and I last year in Dubai.

We rushed through the airport, Home Alone style, as the crew explained that our baggage was already loaded on the waiting plane and we must hurry. Hurry we did. We arrived flustered, and sweaty, with a few minutes to spare and I expected a cheer from our fellow passengers but I was wrong and instead we received angry ‘you are making us delayed’ stares.

The part that still melts my brain to this day is how my luggage beat me onto the connecting flight while I was still on the plane. 

Now I don’t mind where I sit on a plane as I consider it a small moment in my life. I’ve got a book and a movie channel in the seat in front of me and know I can get lost in either of those things and the time will fly.

My partner however does mind. She minds very much and she also has specific rules for flying.

Rule 1. We must arrive at the airport several hours before departure.

Rule 2. We must sit next to each other.

I do not and cannot understand rule 2. We live together. We sleep in the same bed. We share a sofa, cats and a mortgage. Why is sitting on a plane journey that important?

She’s quite adamant about the seating and because it’s important to her I make it happen with only minimal fuss and sarcasm. Maybe I am a nice guy after all and that comment on The You Tube was wrong.

Our seats are occupied by another, fractionally older, couple. As we approached I smiled a smile that not only conveyed my apologies about being late it also said ‘you’re in my seat please move as it’s important to my other half and I don’t want any aggro or fuss’. The couple had not read my smiled message so I’d have to verbalise. 

Why I started with an apology is beyond me but as I did part of me died.

“Sorry but you are in our seats.”

The man smiled at me but his wife harrumphed. He relocated, without fuss, and the woman let us squeeze past her. She had the aisle seat, my partner the window seat which left me as the Rose between those two thorns. The scene was set for a cracking 7-hour flight.

Twenty minutes after take-off I needed a wee and had to get the aisle lady to move. She harrumphed again. As I returned it was my Mrs turn so we repeated the process again. I noticed this little vein in aisle lady’s temple and it was getting bigger and throbbing. I then made a fatal mistake as I drank a cup of coffee. Nothing makes me wee more than coffee and by my fourth bathroom break the vein was on the verge of exploding.

On attempting a return to my seat the lady became angry and told me it was unacceptable. She was raging and I did the only thing I could and laughed as it struck me funny that she was getting this irate about getting up from her seat. Her husband, who was sitting across the aisle, buried his head in his book. He’d obviously seen this before and didn’t want to be involved and I marked him out as quite a clever guy.

We had a brief exchange about my unacceptable weeing, and my small bladder, and at one point I became George Costanza and uttered the phrase “you do know we live in a society”. All the while I was still standing and attempting to return to my seat and she was sitting down looking up at me and being dismissive and rude. 

Then I said it….

“Why don’t you fuck off!”.

I said this to a person on a plane. A person I had disturbed four times and had five hours left to sit next to, probably rather uncomfortably. She was gobsmacked and said “You can’t say that to me”. Well, it’s too late love I already have now heed my words and move so I can sit.

She said she was going to lodge a complaint. I was confident the sky police weren’t coming for me and anyway if you don’t want to be disturbed by other people on a plane charter a private jet. 

She then got up and stormed off which is hard to do on a plane but to her credit she nailed it. Other passengers glared at me as they couldn’t believe I had cursed at this old(er) lady. Telling them that she’d started it would only have made me look more childish. I took my seat.

She returned looking somewhat triumphant and I was informed that the stewardesses knew about me. What were they going to do? Throw me off? 

By now my Mrs was questioning her sitting next to your partner rule and clearly thought I was in the wrong. I obviously wasn’t but everyone has an opinion.

The little entertainment system in front of me then stopped working. I pressed the flight attendant button but they said sorry and there was nothing they could do. The aisle lady had nobbled my entertainment. Touché!

I drifted off and was woken with a start as the stewardess had “mistakenly” dropped a cup of tea over aisle lady and the hot water splashed onto my leg. Looks like they’d also had enough of her rudeness. 

In the moments I had been asleep I had forgotten what a horrible, nasty, impatient woman she was and the fact that I was a rude, slightly arrogant and intolerant man with a tiny bladder. I started to wipe boiling tea off her lap and initially she looked distraught whilst her husband was clearly chuckling to himself.

As I helped get her cleaned up I looked her in the eye and apologised for my language and behaviour. She then also apologised and we made up. We were normal people again.

She was really kind as she told me that I could have as many wees as I liked but the cabin crew never reactivated my entertainment unit.

The fabric of airline society is very complex.

Picture: Regrets, I have a few, the main one being not buying these Louboutin shoes

Week 24: I went from the UK To Australia for a weekend

Friday June 15th 2018

Reading time 3 minutes 12 seconds

The best way to destroy the capitalist system is to debauch the currency – Lenin

Rock Lobster is a song by the B52’s. It is a nonsensical tune about dogfish, catfish and piranhas and the first time I heard it I was at a wedding in Australia. 

The wedding was in Melbourne and we went from London on Friday and came back on the Monday. That’s 21,000 miles in 4 days. In your face Phileas Fogg.

Saturday. The stag do.

It started with golf and beer and was all quite civilised although I really had no idea what was going on because to me it was still Thursday morning.

After golf we went to an Australian Rules Football game at the MCG and the beer, by now, was flowing.

I’m unsure of the events that proceeded the football but all I can tell you is that I found myself in a Casino and 6 more hours had passed. The exchange rate of English pounds to Australian dollars was beneficial. Or so I thought. My brain had calculated 10 Aussie bucks equalled 12 English pence and this would have been great except that it wasn’t, never had been and never will be.

I believed it was the 80’s and I was the Harry Enfield character ‘Loadsamoney’ as my attitude reflected that. At one point I’d spent all my cash so I got out loads more. Bish. Bash. Bosh. I was having a fantastic time and was like George Best and Derek Trotter combined. Champagne Willsy had arrived.

“Get yourself a drink ladies”.

“Hang on gents I’ll get this round, again”

Australia. What a country! 

While queuing for more gambling tokens I had an epiphany. 

As if by magic Carol Vorderman appeared in my brain and helpfully recalculated my perception of the exchange rate. At this point she proceeded to tell me what an idiot I was and Champagne Willsy went into a slight meltdown.

I’d spent thousands of pounds, not bucks, on gambling. Whatever the opposite of Loadsamoney was, I was it, but at least I was still wearing his cool outfit. So, every cloud.

I had become a one-man investment bank, gambled with money I didn’t have and lost the lot. 

The Groom dragged me home and I believe I may have been crying when I slipped into unconsciousness.

Sunday. The Wedding.

At breakfast my girlfriend enquired on my evening. I was so ashamed that I had literally blown all our money the previous night that I was in no mood to talk. I thought I’d better had as we were off to a wedding shortly and it wasn’t her fault that I was a buffoon.

I asked how her night went. They had spent the day at a spa, the bride tried on her dress and then they all had a lovely meal. It sounded dreadful.

She asked about to my evening and because it was a stag do enquired if we had been to any about strip clubs. That was a loaded question. Why was she asking me this? It’s not as if I had any answers for her.

The 19 boxes of ‘Goldfinger’s – Melbourne’s Premier Table Dancing club ’ matches scattered across our bedroom floor was the giveaway. 

I’d hadn’t noticed. She had. 

Aha! So that’s where those 6 hours went.

Later I danced alone to a delightful whimsical tune. That tune being Rock Lobster.

Picture: This is me inventing the selfie circa 1987

Week 23: Love Island With My Cat

Friday June 8th 2018

Reading time 02 minutes 53 seconds

You’re out of touch – Hall & Oats

This week a volcano erupted which is means my Mrs must be on holiday. It’s the third incident of eruptions coinciding with her breaks so I’m going to ask the United Nations if they’ll sponsor her to stop travelling thus making the world a safer place.

I am therefore Kevin McCallister and Home Alone.

The possibilities of what you can achieve with an empty house are almost endless so I watched Love Island!

How did this happen?

Myself and the cat decided to watch TV. This is never a good move. 

Once while my Mrs was travelling the cat and I were watching the box , I was having a “fag” and a bug jumped off her fur onto the sofa. I’m fairly sure the cat gave me a look that said “Burn it with that lighter” so I did. The Cat seemed happy and smiled. No one was going to mess with us tonight. Then the arm of the sofa melted. 

Fast forward 8 years and here we are again an empty house and a rare free evening. 

Before her departure the instructions to us both were clear. Water the plants and don’t burn down the house. 

A look passed between me and the cat. We weren’t making no promises. Although we’d both been sober for a number of years if a bug comes into our home we are going to Starship Trooper the hell out of it. The only good bug is a dead bug. Right Rico!

Plus what could go wrong , we’d quit smoking.

We ended up channel flicking and stopped on the show Love Island, which I’ve never seen before so I thought I’d have a look in the same way that I drive slowly past car accidents.

I’ve no idea of the concept, structure or meaning of this show and in that respect it’s a good metaphor for my life. 

I’d missed the beginning 5 minutes which must have explained how it worked because after 50 minutes I was none the wiser. The cat also looked confused.

Here’s what we learned;

There are 12 contestants who all sleep in the same room. There must have been a party game similar to musical chairs where every day a bed is removed so that they end up having to share with one another.

As I understood it they sleep with a different person every night and then spend the next day apologising to the people they’d previously slept with. It seemed weird game to me but then I’m no expert on matters of the heart or naughties in the bedroom department.

There were tears and arguments on the show as well as in my living room. 

What did that word mean? Wasn’t Muggy a description for hot and sticky weather? Was it now a bedroom phrase? “He was proper Muggy and I Loved it!”

What is to Prangy? I’d pranged a car once, was this now something I shouldn’t say in public? 

A thought crossed my mind that if Cancer research were paid a pound every time the word “like” was used then by the end of the show we may have a cure.

At the shows conclusion I was asked to vote for who should date/sleep with each other. I felt like some kind of god with the power to change people lives for better or worse. I must admit I enjoyed the experience but I’m unsure why. Maybe it was similar to the rubber necking I do, nice to look, lucky to not be involved. I was also a little bit more informed as to how good looking people behave. I always thought they had it so easy. 

I’ve made a note in my diary to watch it next Tuesday night as I’d like to know what happened to that posh fella and the not so posh lady. I hope they get Prangy and Muggy together as that’s what I voted for.

So far me and my feline friend have caused no damage but it is only Friday…..

Picture: My Funko Cat!

Week 22: The Time I Set Fire To My House

Friday June 1st 2018

Reading time 04 minutes 53 seconds

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen – Buck Fizz *

Some time ago I almost burned down my house.

It was during a Spring half term, my Dad was at work and I had the house to myself. I was 15 and like all teenagers thought the world owed me a living and I wanted to know where to collect. In other words, I was only interested in me. My friend came over to my house which we had arranged without mobile phones. That’s because there weren’t any.

Not for the first time I had a crush on a girl and she had also agreed to pop over with her friend and I was hoping there was going to be some kissing. Maybe if I was lucky there would be some canoodling. Because the internet hadn’t been invented no one of my age knew anything of any real value on canoodling and a Pears Encyclopaedia didn’t give me what I needed so if we canoodled I was going in cold.

To impress the girls, I decided to cook and whilst I was no Keith Floyd I could hold my own. I decided on chips. I made great chips. 

Not shop bought chips but proper home-made chips like your Nan would have made. These chips were going to be canoodle tastic. 

My dad taught me that to make chips you needed a one litre bottle of oil in a pan, turn the gas to high and never leave it alone in case it catches fire.

My canoodle plan was missing something. 


Really loud music. I turned on my Dads stereo in the front room and cranked it up to 11. 

Seconds later ‘Every Day’ by Buddy Holly had filled the house, two fifteen-year-old boys were dancing and the chip pan was doing great. Then just as Buddy hit his swing he became very quiet and tinny. I went into the front room and although the dial was clearly at 11 there was almost no sound coming from the speakers.

“We’ve broken your dads stereo” said my mate. “It’s probably a tweeter, or a woofer.” He wasn’t being funny or technical he was just quoting a Not The Nine O’clock News sketch back at me.

My Dad loved that stereo. He loved to sit in our [his] front room and listen to music. He’d created this space for himself (think in the style of Austin Powers meeting Ray Winstone) and I must admit it was a really cool looking room. 

Being invincible teenagers, we thought we could tackle the problem and we started to tinker with the speakers. After about 10 minutes we looked up from the bits of speaker and noticed through the serving hatch this luminescent captivating volcanic orange glow. Accompanied by plumes of smoke it was a sight to behold.

The serenity of this moment faded when I realised that the kitchen was on fire. 

In addition to teaching me how to cook my Dad also showed me how to deal with a chip pan fire. It’s as if he knew this day would come and when it did I was fairly calm and my training kicked in. I turned off the gas, soaked a tea towel in water and smothered the flames. In the interim my mate had phoned the fire brigade and we were saved.

That’s what I remember anyway.

My friend says it was the other way around and he was the hero who put out the fire as I had wanted to carry the chip pan flames into the garden. The weird thing is we both remember assessing the situation and as the flames were licking up the walls all around us we were discussing our plan of action. Either way the fire was out as the wet tea towel had starved the fire of oxygen which was ironic as Oxygen starvation was about to lay in my short lived future. 

At this point our potential canoodelers turned up. They were quickly followed by the fire brigade arrived who piled into the house. I explained what happened and they looked at me, my mate, the two girls and laughed. I remember thinking their insensitivity was inappropriate given the severity of the situation. 

They praised us for tackling the fire and said it was a good job we didn’t try and carry it outside. At the very least I thought we’d get a badge or commendation but all we received was a wink from a fireman who mistakenly believed that canoodling was still on the cards. In hindsight I should have asked to borrow his uniform.

The fireman left.

The girls left.

My mate left.

My Dad returned from work and to my utter amazement he didn’t go mental. He said he was just glad I was OK and popped off to go and relax in our [his] front room by listening to some music. In all the excitement I had forgotten about the stereo and hoped he wouldn’t notice.

He noticed.

That’s when I discovered how much he loved that stereo.

I stayed at a friend’s house that night and on returning my life savings were immediately confiscated to pay for the damages. My dad bought a deep fat fryer as well as a new stereo. 

Despite this, and years later, he still visits my home every Christmas but I’ll be damned if I leave him alone in my kitchen as he has a vengeful streak.

My friend, who was with me that day, believes the episode had a such an effect on his life that he is not allowed to leave a room if a candle is burning or even if the light is turned on.

I’m not quite as affected as I still cook chips. I still listen to Buddy Holly. And on those very rare occasions I have the odd canoodle.

Photo: The actual phone used on that day. This photo must have been taken a few weeks before.

*If you’re reading this Cheryl Baker, I’m still waiting for you to sweep me off my feet