Tag: humour

Support Group

A written piece – A short comedy story about the cult of the “creatives”.

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Summer’s A Bummer

First comes the heat and then come the hard bodied posers…immediately followed by the soft bodied haters and self-loathers. Which group do I fall into? The hard bodied, of course, you ugly lards! Not really. Without even knowing what I look like, it’s pretty obvious that I’m a softie. A softie who hates the summer time. Like it isn’t enough that being ugly makes you feel ugly, come the summer, it feels as though every single piece of you is up for scrutiny. Every roll, every second chin, every bingo wing, every crease where there shouldn’t be a crease, your front and your back boobs, from muffs to muffin tops… That shit is on show!! And it’s all warm and sweating. (Sexy.)

The stupid part is, we all know the summer is coming, so something can always be done to avoid this annual frumpy feeling. It’s not like, “Oooh, fancy it being warm at this time of year!” “What’s all this sunshine business? I wasn’t expecting that at all!” “30 degrees, you say? What’s that like, one corner of a rhomboid?” NO, it’s not! Saying that, living in the UK, it can come as a bit of a surprise, a hot summer, but, you know, there’s always a strong chance that we’ll get a day or two. Some of us just never learn and never prepare.

It wouldn’t be true to say I’ve lived a totally gym-free existence. I’ve been before. At least twice, actually! The first time I got cramp in my leg stepping ON the treadmill, the second time there was a free buffet lunch! (I really wish I was making this up. Shame on me.) I just feel like there are better things that I can do with my time than going to the gym. Like going to the pub… No. It’s great to be healthy, if that’s your motivation, but for me, the gym comes with too many levels of judgement, comparison and strangers with limited boundaries. So instead, I convince myself that it’s all just vanity anyway, which I have no time for, so hide myself away in winter coats and jumpers. Then, the next thing I know, it’s HOT and I’m ringing out the armpits of my t-shirt after walking ten feet to the bus stop, while my attractive neighbours wretch at the site of me and I regret every damn office Krispy Kreme I ever ate. RAGE! (I also need to move to an uglier part of town. You know how you get those ugly parts of town?)

I’ve previously tried to get over my gymphobia/people weirdness combo issue by working out at home. Initially, it had no effect whatsoever, then I switched the CD from slow jams to something a little more up-tempo and I was on my way. I was kind of getting it too, that exercise adrenalin thing. Sometimes you’d be buzzing after! Pumped! Psyched! More often than not, though, I was just fucking knackered and ready for bed! (At 7am). I did, however, keep it up for a while. And then something stupid happened. (Stupid? Me?) The more I worked out, the more justification I felt for eating that doughnut, or that cupcake or that whole tub of ice-cream…straight after chowing down a whole 12 inch pizza!! Urrrrgh! I was cancelling out all of my own good efforts so, really, what was the point?

The crux of the issue is, I love food too much. In fact, it’s the only context in which I can say the word “love” completely without effort, without cringing, tensing or breaking into a cold sweat. I love food! Sometimes, if I’m really enjoying eating something, I’ll do a little dance to the rhythm of my chewing and make up songs. It comforts me. It’s a treat after a shit day. It makes me feel warm and snuggly inside. It’s sweet sometimes. It fills a need. It is sustenance. It satisfies cravings. It’s there when you’re all alone. It’s something familiar when you’re feeling lost. It’s a tiny (cheese?) hand to wipe away the tears. It’s a dispassionate voice at the end of the phone. It’s someone you once loved and no longer recognise. It’s an anxious pang. It’s a feeling of loss. It’s the fear of the unknown. It’s the confused desperation that occupies your mind. It’s the dark when all light fades. It’s the loathing of self that devours your waking thoughts. It’s the horror that haunts your dreams. It’s…

So…THE GYM? Third time’s a charm???

But, no, jokes aside. I reject the ideology of the body beautiful, and both love and embrace beauty in its many and varied forms. I’ll come to love myself too, eventually. For now, though, I’ll call it a slow courtship.

Fresh Hell Scenarios

networking

Something has always bothered me about the concept of networking. I understand it, I accept its value, but I’m shit at it and so I hate it, which bothers me. The industry in which I currently work calls for a lot of networking so, unfortunately for me, they kinda press the importance of it by inducting new starters with a series of forced networking scenarios – or what I like to call Fresh Hell Scenarios! In principle, I should be good at networking. I like talking, I like meeting new people, I’m a good listener, but add in that extra element of networking and bad things will happen. Every single time. It’s one of those things in life you can always rely on.

I was recently told that I had to go out of town for two long days of FHS!, so you can imagine my trepidation at this news. I won’t take you through a blow-by-blow of my 48 hour faux pas, but I will try to give some advice based upon my learnings.

Small Talk

If you have nothing socially acceptable to add during small talk with relative strangers/colleagues, just offer an acknowledgement of the topic and give a gesture of interest. For example, if, during a conversation over lunch, one of said colleagues tells a humorous tale about tackling a 2lb meatball sub sandwich, either of the following could be deemed as an acceptable response.

“How interesting, I didn’t know you could get 2lb meatball sub sandwiches.”

“A 2lb meatball sub sandwich, you say? Sounds impressive.”

If you don’t know how much 2lbs is, just ask! When you have your answer, revert back to the above examples. DO NOT, however, try to figure it out, out loud, by going to that weird place in your mind that you know totally freaks people out.

My response: “2lb? What’s that equivalent to, a baby’s leg? I just mean, if it’s a chubby newborn, a leg would be about 2lb give or take. Yeah, that is pretty big. I couldn’t imagine trying to eat a chubby baby’s leg in a sandwich.” … … Tumbleweed. A bit more tumbleweed. Awkward coughing. More tumbleweed.

I mean, I know why I thought it – because I only know pounds and ounces based on newborn baby weights. I don’t bake, so it makes perfect sense, but there is no sense in saying that shit out loud. Keep that weird place for close family and friends, seriously. Silence ensued and I was, at least, granted the gift of solitude for the first chunk of the afternoon. Silver lining!

Inconspicuousness

I am strongly of the opinion that remaining inconspicuous during FHS! is an excellent idea. Lay low, stay out of the focus of enthusiastic facilitators, avoid eye contact with over-keen loners scanning the room for their kind and keep yourself to the periphery at all times. That way you can cruise through as painlessly as is possible. You’ll still have to take part, but do it right and your participation can be kept to a polite minimum. Do not, however, force yourself to the periphery of an over-crowded lift, full of both enthusiastic inductees and high level executives, so far that your own ass accidentally presses the emergency alarm button and triggers off a loud message over the lift’s PA. I WOULDN’T RECOMMEND IT! If anyone else told me they had done this, I’d be all, “whatever, nobody’s butt can press buttons without them knowing it.” BUTT, I guess, sometimes they can and now we all know. Urrrgh!

Socialising

If you find that more relaxed and social environments help you to break the ice and ditch the awkwardness, then going for drinks with new colleagues is a great idea. I highly recommend it. There’s almost always some kind of social networking – not twatting about online (no judgement, I do it too), but actual networking socially face-to-face – after FHS! so be sure to find out where it’s taking place. If no one informs you of any such event, just ask. If you ask and no one invites you along with them, hell, just invite yourself – we’re all in this shit together, right.  If you then invite yourself to tag along with the group of people that you’ve been sat with all afternoon – not the ones from lunch, as they won’t look you in the eye anymore, but a new group – because you don’t know where the pub is and they say, “yeah, sure, we’ll meet you by the lift, “ and you say, “great, I’m just going to get my coat,” but then you get your coat and go to the lift, even though you had a bad experience earlier and would much rather take the stairs, and 10 minutes pass by and nobody shows up and you realise they’ve probably gone to the pub without you…GIVE UP. Just give it up, girl. Don’t nobody wanna go drinking with the baby leg sandwich eater whose ass can press buttons by itself. Go on back to your hotel room and think about what you’ve done. There’s no point kissing your teeth at the other losers left behind either. Don’t get mad, get reflective.

Cultural Awareness Tip

Just a quick word to the wise, for anyone like me who still wasn’t quite sure: EVERYONE knows what it means when you kiss your teeth at them. It is not a little “in” joke anymore. Not one person is fooled when you try to style it out like you just had something stuck in your teeth. (Damn it.)

Learning As You Go

If you get stuck feeling like a fish out of water and you can’t go swimming home to the comfort of those who understand your “qualities” and like you in spite of them, then – all joking aside now – you just have to pick yourself up, take a few deep breaths (but not too many) and find your way through it. If people think you’re weird, fuck ‘em, maybe they’re weird! I struggle with these situations because I have low self-esteem. What I’ve come to learn is, a ton of the coolest people I’ve ever met also battle with low self-esteem, so I just remember how awesome they are in my eyes and get on with what I’ve got to do. It’s great to have funny stories to tell and everything, but it’s true that it doesn’t always feel that funny. So, advice from someone who’s spent a lifetime being a tiny bit too odd to be cool, just remember that things are never truly as bad as they seem at the time. You’ll totally laugh about it later, or at least learn from it, so do like me and just suck in your tummy and strut – fuck ‘em.

Big Small Things

When you’ve spent as much of your life being single as I have, your head gets filled with all kinds of romantic notions about how much better everything could be, if only you met the love of your life to share it all with! And, you know, those of us who think like that, we can’t be blamed entirely for such thoughts. People falling in and out of love are pretty relentless at times! Like a brick to the face! “EAT IT, LOSER, LOVE IS SO AWESOME! YOU MIGHT AS WELL BE DEAD IF YOU’VE NEVER LOVED! OH, YASSS!” Songs, films, books, poems, cartoons, TV, comics… It’s like, “shut up for one minute, will you! If you’re that in love, go enjoy being in love and shut the fuck up about it. Nobody likes a braggart!” At times I’d have preferred the brick in the face, to be honest. At least a brick isn’t smug! (Imagine a smug brick – what would that be like?)

Besides, it’s not like I didn’t love things! I’ve always loved food a lot. And drink too, don’t forget drink. Not soft drinks though, of course. And obviously I love people too – my family and friends. (I can’t tell people that I love themmmmmm, even if I do.) But then, no matter how against the romantic schmaltz I’d get, I couldn’t help getting sucked in and thinking, yeah, maybe things really would be better if I met the love of my life. “Love of my life” – what a shit pile of pressure that is as well, I might add. It’s not enough to love someone, they have to be the love of your LIFE. Your whole life! What if your life changes, their life changes – fuck change, love’s gotta be for LIFE…life…li…

So I went looking for stupid love. Yeah, I wanted to know what everyone was banging on about, I did. Now, I don’t know if it’s Nig**z fo’ Life, Thug Lyf, Love of my LIFE territory (and he would say the same), but I have found someone I’ve been rather fond of for the last two years (and he would say the same.) And, yeah, it is pretty nice an’ all, but nobody told me nothin’ about all that other shit that comes along with it!

Here is where you can call me a fool, but all those lovey status updates, holding your cameras really high to take photos of yourselves, checking in to really cool places…I believe that hype! So I’m all, “hmm, that is not what this shit is like for me.” (Although, on occasion, we’d take photos of ourselves from really low angles to see how ugly we could look.) Nobody warned me that having someone around you so often would lead to them picking up on ALL those stupid little things that you do that nobody’s ever been around you long enough to notice before!

Apparently, I REALLY like small versions of big things and big versions of small things. “I mean, I kinda do, but I wouldn’t say I REALLY do. I do as much as anyone else…” I’d say while handing him a lighter as big as his head to light his tiny roll-up. Hmmph. OK, so I have an A4 pack of cards, a miniature Austrian house, some tiny architecture figurines, a massive pencil (just in case I have to fill out a massive cheque), every Christmas cracker miniature screw driver set I’ve ever had, every Christmas cracker miniature pack of cards I’ve ever had, plus a few other bits and pieces, but I still wouldn’t say I REALLY like that stuff! Christmas is to blame for a lot of that shit anyway. The architecture figurines are just so damn cute, who doesn’t like those little guys? You can have tiny little versions of real life places with tiny little people! Come on, that’s cute!

The observations don’t stop there either. The most notable one that comes to mind, which I think says a lot more about him than me, is “the way you squeeze your thumbs for comfort is a lot like the way Vladimir Putin does.” WHAT?? Why does he know about Putin’s thumbs?? And I don’t do that! Do I? He thinks that hipsters don’t annoy me as much as they should because I think everyone with a beard looks like a human teddy bear. Yeah, I call him Mr Bear and, yeah, one of my best mates looks a lot like Teddy Ruxpin, but that doesn’t mean I think eeeeeveryone is a teddy. Stoopid. I’ve tried really hard to notice some mad shit about him too, but I guess I kinda think everything is “normal”.

It’s a funny old ride, this coupledom, I’ll give you that. But I still think your love songs are smug and stupid! Maybe I’LL write a song about that! With a MASSIVE teddy bear in the video. EAT THAT, LOSER!

Update: We broke up. I still don’t understand love. I now have a window ledge full of tiny furniture.

Utterly Class Brass

class brass

Have you ever thought that you might like to learn how to play a musical instrument one day? Or you used to play one at school and now, 20 years later, you’d like to pick it back up? I reckon a lot of us say yes to one of those questions, but never do a thing about it beyond purchasing the instrument of choice, picking it up once and then using it as a costly doorstop or fancy bookend. It’s just one of those things – the idea of playing skilfully is the shit, but the reality is…you just sound like shit!

I would never judge anyone for doing that as I did it myself. It just takes so looong to get good! I wanted to pick up the trumpet… (it wasn’t even the trumpet that I learnt at school) I wanted to pick it up, immediately play to a grade eight standard because I’m so gifted, join an awesome band, quit my day job to go on tour, write a hit song and live off the royalties for the rest of my life! It could happen! To one person somewhere in the world it could happen, right? Obvi’ it did not happen. So after listening to me moan about how I don’t have enough time to practise or how I’m really just being considerate to my neighbours, my boyfriend, the seasoned musician, told me that the only way to get good was to join a band. “Join a band?” I’d say. “Yeah, join a band,” he’d say. “But I don’t know how to play,” I’d say. “That’s why you need to join a band,” he’d say. “But I don’t know how to play though,” I’d say. “Exactly, so join a band,” he’d say. “STOP TALKING DAMN FOOLISHNESS!” I’d say.  “Just join a band,” he’d say. I mean, honestly, what was he going on about? You can’t join a band and not know how to play an instrument. I’d look a right fool! You wouldn’t get a job as a driver and then be like, “BTW, I can’t drive,” would you? What’s he on! As I couldn’t afford lessons, I decided I’d be content with my trumpet adding a new and classy dynamic to my flat on its stand in the living room. Lovely.

A few months later, he sends me a link to an ad on gumtree about a beginners brass band that welcomed all levels – even if you’d never played before – and it was totally free! I couldn’t argue with that, so…I joined a band.

After such a build up, I was actually reeeally excited for the first day of band. Even the act of carrying the trumpet on the tube ride there –  I loved that shit. Bashing up kneecaps like, “Oh, sorry, it’s just my trumpet!” You’d have thought I was Dizzy Gillespie, the way I was going on! (Same cheeks) Even the fullness of the tube, the two bus rides and the ass battering walk up the hill to get to the community room did not get me down! Buzzin, I was!

Finally, I get to the community room, a cross between a school classroom and a church hall, but nestled under the grandness of Alexandra Palace, and I was greeted by two kindly gentlemen. Immediately warm, immediately welcoming. We had a little chat about the band, about the skill levels, I talked about myself a little – I was very happy indeed. That is until… (and it’s not that he was shouting, but I feel that caps are the only way I can express the level of enthusiasm) ..

“OH, BY THE WAY, I’M AFRAID TRUMPETS ARE NOT ACTUALLY IN TRADITIONAL BRASS BANDS.”

I’m all like, “Whaaa? But they told me I… Why did the ad say… I walked up that hill… Whaaa?”

“BUT NOT TO WORRY, I HAVE A CORNET FOR YOU.”

At this point I’m feeling a bit like my computer when I’m mad clicking on a million things at once – too much to process. First I was excited, then my heart was singing at how friendly these guys were… You know when you come across people that are just totally unaffected and…nice? I was taken aback. ..then I thought my dream was over because all I had was a trumpet, then I was cussing because I’d hauled my butt up that hill, then I was thinking, “what the hell is a cornet?”

“The cornet is a brass instrument very similar to the trumpet, distinguished by its conical bore, compact shape, and mellower tone quality.” Oh. Right then. So, I guess now I had a trumpet AND a cornet! What I musician I was turning out to be! We started out with a little one-to-one session where my nerves were quickly soothed by the unrelenting kindness and encouragement radiating from the band leaders. In any other situation, if someone had blown spit down a small object and then handed it to me to put my mouth on, it would have been a flat out “FUCK NO” but there I was, giving it a go! I didn’t even wipe the mouth piece first! He was looking right at me, so I couldn’t be so rude, but still, I found myself not even minding because he was so kind. What the hell was this place?

Later on, the rest of the beginners arrived. A wonderful ensemble of enthusiasm and friendliness. A tone deaf ensemble of autism and friendliness. It was purely lovely. (I mean, I’m slightly projecting here, the band are just delicious, me on the other hand, I definitely sit somewhere on the spectrum) I was at home.

I’ve been going every week for about two months now… Well, apart from one week when I turned up and didn’t recognise anyone through the window and went home, only to be told later it was all the same people as usual – I’ve been avoiding an eye test and all that face breathing. ..and every week they show me that it doesn’t matter if you’re just a bit shit at something sometimes, just give it good go and have fun. Saying that, I do notice the odd moment where you can totally tell that the shitness is starting to grate, but still, the encouragement is always there. Now that I’m over giggling at the trombones putting their hands by their bell ends, and the constant offerings of help with my fingering, I think I’m really starting to improve! It’s ace.

So what I’m trying to say here is, if you ever get the opportunity to “just join a band,” DO IT.