George Michael at Christmas

A very messy Christmas to you all.

Yes, messy. It’s not a typo. It’s the same with orgies: the invitations should read “the more the messier“, not merrier. Messy is so much more fun. After all, who wants a clean orgy, or a clean Christmas? We may long for a white Christmas, but not a clean one – and we only want a white one so we can piss in the snow. I imagine some orgies end the same way.

I like my Christmas like I like my sex: we don’t have to get up too early in the morning, but as soon as we do let’s get on with the action: tear off the wrapping fast, get as messy as possible, laugh, shout, play with all the toys, and make sure the neighbours have reason to complain.

I probably won’t get that type of Christmas this year, because I’m suffering from Empty Nest Syndrome – and I don’t even have kids! I was hoping to spend Christmas drunkenly practicing the baby-making procedure in every room in my flat. Not too drunkenly, obviously. There’s a perfect amount of alcohol for sex: it should make you able to ignore the carpet burns for long enough to get the job done, but should not make Mr Happy become Mr Floppy. And it should definitely not make anybody accidentally sick into my mouth because they went on top.

That’s the amount of alcohol I had planned to consume – just the right amount to make everyone involved forget how they got those bruises the next day, but not enough to require a trip to hospital. And the moment I reached that perfect level of blood-alcohol, I was going to rip off my girlfriend’s knickers (because they’re really cutting into my hips) and make the beast with two backs.

Or at least the beast with one back and a front that’s bent over the kitchen table with a wooden spoon gritted between her teeth.

But it’s not going to happen because of somebody else’s empty nest syndrome, namely my wobbly old widow of a mother, who has inveigled her way into my flat for three days this Christmas, turning it from a sex den into a …. den. And I’m 42. What do I want with a den?

Actually, I very nearly made a den in the living room last week. The lady in my life has recently been pretty lifeless, and rather unladylike too. She’s had a cold, leading to a small tsunami of snot, a great deal of frustrated swearing, and some justifiable moping. And that’s just from me, cos I’ve had the horn and she’s been very much Out Of Bounds. The only way to make her feel her usual perky self has been to build a den out of the box my drums came in, or to put on a Harry Potter movie.

I did think about making a den, but the result would have been sitting in a small, warm box in my living room next to a plague carrier, waiting for her nose to explode all over me and make me sick during Christmas. So she can fuck off with her den: we’re watching Harry Potter.

I quite like Harry Potter. I’m far too old for it, but it served the same formative function in her adolescence that The Lord of the Rings and masturbation served in mine. You never get over that stuff, and to this day a quick wank over the mental image of Arwen and Galadriel lezzing up is enough to make me feel like a contented 12-year-old again. So although Harry Potter will never mean as much to me as it does to my girlfriend, I’m perfectly OK watching the last 6 movies. The first two… not so much. It says much that they’re amongst the worse things John Cleese has been in recently, and he was in the Liberal Democrats.

I even went with my girlfriend to the Harry Potter Studio Tour, which was jolly good fun and rather exciting for a movie buff like me. I wandered around it, amazed by two things:

  1. The level of craftsmanship and imagination involved in making a movie like that (I’d argue the design imagination is at least the equal of JK herself)
  2. Rupert Grint

The mere fact of Grint still amazes me. If he wasn’t famous and I told you I knew a ginger boy called Rupert Grint, you’d say “oh, the poor sod”. It’s like me telling you that the manager of my local MFI store was called Finlay Gentleman (he is – I saw it on a receipt once). You’d wince and laugh, and then wonder why his parents hated him so much. Grint’s name alone is enough to make him extraordinary and dismal. He’s the only person in the movies who has a real name more outlandish than his character.

But beyond his name there’s his face, and his hair, and his voice, and his… there’s no other word for it than this… his talent. You can determine the level of Grint’s talent by measuring it against what his two child-star friends have achieved.

Daniel Radcliffe has appeared naked in a challenging play on the London stage. He’s been rather good in a rather successful horror movie. He made a pretty good fist of being on QI, and has sung a complicated Tom Lehrer song about chemicals on live television. And he achieved all of this in spite of looking like a man who is learning facial expressions from a book. Have you seen him smile? I imagine that’s what Gordon Brown looked like before somebody released the bulldog clip that kept his face tight.

Gordon Brown, aged 19
Gordon Brown, aged 19

Gordon Brown
Daniel Radcliffe, aged 106

Emma Watson went to a top American university where she managed to avoid being killed by an American for 3 years, something few people can do. She then returned to the screen in a moderately good adaptation of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, in which she attempted a bold strategy for of shaking off her reputation for being every online pervert’s favourite teenager: she took off her sexy clothes off in a sexy dance while looking sexily at a sexy boy. And all of this despite being cursed with the vocal quality of a distressed and menstrual cookery teacher in the 1950s, and wild and irrational eyebrows that look like they’re attempting to escape her face and run amok across the moors of England.

Rupert Grint.
Milky Grint. Bad at snorting coke, or good at giving blowjobs? You tell me.

Rupert Grint, by contrast, is being paid to smile in an advert for Sky.

That’s all the Grint they want. Thank you. You can leave now.

He’s not invited to do any acting – God forbid! They just wanted to borrow his head for 3 seconds so they could use it to sell things, like a misshapen orange billboard. The Milk Marketing Board pulled the same trick a couple of years ago, leading to a spate of upchucking women as Grint-besmattered busses trundled by. To this day, the term “Milky Grint” can churn the stomach of the hardiest woman. Show your lady-friends this photo, and slowly whisper “Milky Grint” to them. I bet they shudder and make an expression. I bet they do. In fact, I’m off down to Ladbroke’s now to place that very bet.

Yet despite this, Grint’s net worth in 2012 is £24 million. You’d have to work for a thousand years to get that much money, and who has the time?

I’ll tell you who has the time: Grint has the time. After all, his diary is looking pretty empty. I suspect it always did, even during the Potter years…

Grint’s diary, from the set of “Harry Potter and the Ocelot of Disappointment”:

Tuesday: Said “Bloody hell, Harry”. Got paid £3 million. Did double maths. Hated self.

In truth, it’s a small miracle that any of them grew up to become even a moderate actor: they were between 9 and 11 years old when they began their movie careers, plucked from obscurity because they looked less gap-toothed than most of their contemporaries. Americans are, as we know, more terrified of gap-toothed people than they are of 200 million assault rifles, and the Potter movies would definitely have failed if the lead actors had standard British teeth.

But the kids had good teeth. It’s just the rest of Grint which was substandard. And when they started out they just looked like Cabbage Patch versions of themselves, which must be weird for them to look at now. You think it’s embarrassing when your mum shows your new partner photos of you aged 11? Imagine if you had a whole movie series, and every girl you ever meet thinks she knows exactly who you are, and what you can do with your “wand”. Engorgio!

In retrospect, £24 million seems like reasonable compensation for what fate has done to Grint. He can stop being Weasley, but will always be Grint. He will always be awful and look like he knows it.

Mind you, for the first few movies none of them looked comfortable in their own skin. Who is, at the age of 13? Your skin is your enemy at exactly the moment you most need a friend, and fame and fortune are no protection against the ravages of youth. I watched Romeo + Juliet recently, and Leo’s face seems to be undergoing a meteor shower. I think he spent half his salary on concealer. He looks like he’s been coated in Polyfilla in a few scenes, which I’m sure pleases a lot of blokes who were negatively compared with DiCaprio in their teens. Every generation throws up a pretty boy for the girls to idolise, and all the boys hate whoever it is. Right now it’s Beiber. Before that it was DiCaprio. My own nemesis was George Micheal.

In 1986 boys my age were considered cool and attractive if they wore a cross in one ear, strutted around in white jeans and cowboy boots, displayed several days of beard growth, and had bouffant hair with blonde highlights. Hard to believe people assumed it was the dress sense of a heterosexual man, but that’s what Gorgeous George wore, and he was very definitely a heterosexual man in 1986. He said so in Smash Hits, so it must be true.

My teenaged attempts at looking like George Michael weren't very successful.
My teenaged attempts at looking like George Michael weren’t very successful.

I don’t give a fuck about being fashionable now, as anybody who knows me will definitely confirm. But I can remember how ostracised I felt back then for being unable to grow sufficient stubble or persuade my mum to let me get my ear pierced. I want to seek out Darren Gilmore, my college’s number one George Michael lookalike, show him a photo of Wham! and shout “I told you so” into his unrealistically handsome face. Except by now his face is probably like mine: gradually sliding down his skull like a slow-motion avalanche. I can’t really blame him for being fooled by Wham! I was as fooled as anybody else, I just had my ambitions stymied by my mum and some terrible NHS glasses.

More than quarter of a century later, and my mum is still pissing on my chips. My Christmas will be polite, with only moderate consumption of wine, absolutely no spanking paddles or handcuffs; and then bed before midnight on my second-best lumpy mattress.

Thank you Jesus, you absolute twat!

I thought Pentecost was bad (I received the Gift of the Holy Spirit, but I don’t have the receipt, so can’t take it back and swap it for a cardigan). But Christmas is going to be a wash-out. So Jesus, I’m sorry to break the news, but your parties are always shit and I’m not coming to any more of them. I’ve given up on a rowdy Christmas, and all I can say is: roll on New Year. Because believe me, I’m definitely going to roll on someone at New Year.

Brace yourself dear.

Reasons to be cheerful

I’m delighted to discover Katy Red has found true happiness, even if it does seem to have only lasted about half the time it takes to write a blog about it.

I don’t know if happiness makes for great reading. No, scratch that: I know it doesn’t. It’s one of the reasons literally everybody in the known universe wants to stab Matthew  McConaughey in the face. He’s unfeasibly pleased with his life, and it makes me want to end it for him. I ache for him to become famous for a terrible-yet-hilarious accident involving an industrial threshing machine and a loose shoelace, which results in him missing a foot. In fact, I’m investing in a company which delivers poorly maintained threshing machines to Hollywood stars right now. It’s the type of thing that should be encouraged.

Did you know that if you take some of the letters away, replace them with others, and rearrange them a bit, Matthew McConaughey is an anagram of “smug bastard”?

Even when I’m happy, I try hard not to let it spill over into my online life, because there’s little that’s more depressing that hearing how bloody wonderful somebody else feels.

Won the lottery? Fantastic news, now share half the winnings or shut your flap. Or better still, share half the winnings and shut your flap.

Got a great relationship? That’s wonderful news, now ask yourself why nobody ever made a great movie about people who are ecstatically happy all the time. And while you’re asking that, shut your flap.

Just found a new job? OK, I’ll let you have that one. Jobs are pretty thin on the ground, and if you’ve got one and it makes you happy, I’ll let you shout about it without judging you. But it won’t last. In 6 weeks you’ll hate it, and that’s when I’ll be more interested. Tweet that you’ve got a job. Briefly tell us how happy you are. But don’t you dare to blog about it until you loathe your boss and believe you’d be happier working as the guy who combs the crusty bits out of the fur around Michael Winner’s hairy ringpiece.

Yes, I just put that image in your mind. That’s how much I hate your happiness.

I had a recent unfortunate slip. I accidentally let people know I was pretty happy. I still am, and long may it continue, but I promise you this is my last reference to it. You don’t care, and I don’t share. So back to moaning about life.

Katy lists the things that make for a happy life. Here’s the list:

  • Be healthy. Yeah, cheers. 40 years of boxing, rugby, little drinking and no smoking, and bingo: cancer. How are we meant to “be healthy” when the world is full of shit, delivered at random?
  • Live with a partner who loves and respects you. Genius. Why didn’t we think of that? I’ll just pop down to the Post Office and pick mine up, they’re 10 a penny.
  • Have a child. Tricky if you don’t have a partner, even trickier if nobody will have sex with you because you look like a strategically shaved baboon. I’ve tried stealing an urchin from the park, but their parents get so ruffled by it. Apparently their happiness trumps mine. Some people are so fucking selfish.
  • Get a cat/dog. Next door’s cat moved in. He regularly attacks my extremities. He wakes me at 5am to eat tuna, and 10 minutes later regurgitates it in a warm, watery pile on my duvet, then glares balefully at me because he hates the sound of me washing my bedding. I’m not sure either of us is happy with the relationship.
  • Spend less than you earn. I’ll just have a word with George Osborne about this, I’m sure he’ll help by instantly solving the global economic crisis.
  • Don’t use your credit card to pay for your expenditure on a monthly basis. This one has become easier since my bank insisted we go back to the old arrangement, where I paid my bills now and again. Credit cards are a thing of the past, like dignity.
  • Don’t borrow. Presumably meaning don’t get a mortgage, or a car, or start a business. In fact, for maximum happiness, live in your mum’s basement forever.
  • Don’t lend money. I won’t lend unicorns either, which are just as prevalent in my life right now.
  • Don’t gamble. Are you kidding me? My entire future planning consists of hoping for a lottery win. So does yours. Go on, admit it! If I’m wrong, and you actually have savings and a pension and an ISA, then you’re a bastard and probably responsible for the parlous economic state we’re in now. I’m sure you’ll be happy while you stride over the bodies of the rest of us sprawling destitute on the streets.
  • Surround yourself with pleasant smells. I have anosmia, which is the nasal equivalent of blindness. It’s caused by being punched, and reading this is bound to make you appreciate why punching has been a factor in my life. I can’t smell flowers, or fruits, or perfumes. But I can smell bullshit, which brings me to…
  • Keep a gratitude journal. I’m grateful to the education system, and public transport, and the environment, and investment in our national infrastructure, and the welfare state, and the NHS… what’s that? Oh, they’ve all gone. Cheers.
  • Make arrangements to donate your organs on your death. I’m one step ahead of you: one of mine is gone already.
  • Be realistic. Like this list is? That kind of realism? Brilliant.

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter! I’ve been looking forward to this.

You know how it is: it gets past July, and the shops start filling with mince pies and gooey puddings. Where once the supermarket stocked organic asparagus, now they stock 400 varieties of advocaat so you can snowball your brain into a highly flammable soufflé.

You go into a shop – or, God help you, work in a shop – and the permanent soundtrack becomes one of enforced jollity and tinkly sleigh-bells.

Like an old dinghy, Cliff is taken from his normal abode at the back of the cupboard under the stairs, dusted off, inflated as much as his undoubtedly gaping hole will allow (never inflated enough to smooth out the billion wrinkles) and shoved outside to be played with by people who don’t know what real fun is.

And after a few months, it dawns on you that soon it will be 25th of December again, and time for the universe to stop so we can all listen to Auntie Marjorie tell us what’s wrong with “the blacks”. (Maybe you don’t have an Auntie Marjorie, in which case you’re lucky. She’s the kind of woman who makes you want to climb a tree, then pull it up after you.)

But Easter isn’t like that. It’s not a chore. Cliff remains invisible. Easter works.

For a kick-off, it’s the right size for Britain. We don’t like a fuss. Christmas is a fuss. It’s American in scale, and the only people who truly enjoy it are young kids, people who have young kids, and people who desperately yearn to still be young kids. Whereas Easter just ambles into your life without a lot of hoo-ha, has a couple of drinks, gooses you pleasantly, and leaves before it gets annoying. Perfect.

And it always seems to be a surprise guest too. Just like the best evenings out are the unplanned ones, so Easter is better than Christmas. Christmas is like one of those “let’s go to Dublin, all 17 of us, it’ll be great” parties, which ends up being too desperate and organised, like orienteering with a bladder complaint. Easter, however, is like going for a quick drink after work and ending up eating magic mushrooms off a Turkish prostitute at 4am. You never saw it coming, but my God it’s welcome.

You see, its impossible to work out when Easter happens. Figuring out the correct date for Easter is like nailing custard to a wall. I see the eggs in shops, but not even Tesco has the kind of budget required to produce in-store displays for all the possible dates Easter can fall on. So instead I rely on colleagues to tell me when its here.

And who tells them? Their kids. And who tells the kids? Teachers.

(I have no idea how teachers know this stuff. I’ve recently come to the conclusion that teachers are magic.)

But it’s not just the meandering chronology of Easter that I like: it’s the fact that I have no clue which of the 4 days is an actual “thing”. Friday? Sunday? Both? Maybe the Monday – or is that just a holiday because we’re all meant to get hammered on Sunday? Is that in the bible – thou shalt drink a KFC Bargain Bucket full of gin to celebrate Our Lord crawling out of a cave? Who knows. And it’s too late for me to find out; I’ve slipped off the learning curve, and all that gin and chicken-fat has addled my mind.

Which brings me to the traditional Easter food: chocolate eggs and rabbits.

Think about that: eggs and rabbits. You’re all bright people, so I’m sure I don’t need to point out the pagan symbolism of mating and birth that is contained in the rabbits and eggs iconography. It’s spring-festival, captured, colonised and castrated by dull old Christianity. Just like the feast of Bacchus, or as we know it today, Christmas. Pagans knew how to have fun: get pissed at Christmas, and get laid at Easter. But instead we give our children the symbols of sexual adventure, which are, as you’d expect from Christianity, expensive, hidden, wrapped in shiny paper, and hollow.

Personally, I don’t like chocolate, which might be the only minor problem I have with Easter, and it doesn’t stop me from buying eggs for my nephews. I loved chocolate when I was a kid, and have the fillings to prove it. But if you stop eating it for about 4-6 weeks, you lose the taste for it forever. It’s surprisingly bitter. Sure, it seems sweet, but that’s just the insane doses of sugar they put in it to hide the real taste. Say goodbye to your pancreas, chocoholics!

But my favourite thing about Easter is that it’s a perfect break from work. Four days is spot on. Not enough time to get bored, and two whole weekends, back to back. There’s often a good thing on telly, and even if there isn’t, there are bracing hills to climb, happy days at the zoo, or other splendid adventures.

And even when its over, I know that soon it’ll be May Bank Holiday too. But don’t ask me how soon: only teachers know that stuff.

And finally: it’s one year today since I got diagnosed with cancer. And I’m fine. I don’t believe in any of that Zombie Jesus mumbo-jumbo. I’m not reborn. The only miracle was the NHS, so praise be to socialism!

So for once, this blog is devoid of my usually snarky cynicism. No piss and vinegar. I like Easter. But don’t worry, I’ll get better: it’ll soon be Christmas again!