Monday, 11 October 2010

35 And Not Dead

As most of you will know (and thanks for all the kind messages by the way) I had another accident with my calendar at the weekend.

Apparently, and according to something called 'time', I turned 35 years old last Friday. All of which seems barely conceivable but I'm going to have to accept it at some point. So I thought I would start now, and here, in the one place where my inner-most thoughts are kept. That way I can rest assured that only about 20 of you at the most will ever find them.

The most striking thing about being 35 is the fact that if you are, then most if not all of your mates are. Or older! This causes all manner of social problems. Having arranged a post-work gathering we got to Friday lunch time in the frankly embarrassing predicament of having only four people confirmed to attend. Everyone else is too old. They're 35. They've gone off to do grown-up things like have kids, go to ASDA or put shelves up in their spare rooms. I'm 35, but I don't want to do any of those things. I want to get drunk, play on my Wii and watch Match Of The Day. All at the same time if possible.

And so I'm in some kind of tragic limbo. I'm staggering around drunkenly, looking for the sign on the wall where it says I'm supposed to grow up now. I have a mortgage and a long-term girlfriend but that's about as far as I'm willing to embrace adulthood. Even shaving my face really grinds my gears. I reach the point where I haven't done it for over a week, by when those cheap disposable razors that the infinitely more grown-up Emma buys from ASDA struggle to get through the thick carpet that has slowly developed around my chin. And then I cut myself, but it's more to do with clumsiness and cheap razors than any desire to self-harm.

Because you see I'm not unhappy. Not really. Yes I was close to some sort of mental breakdown on Friday lunchtime when I realised just how unpopular I could be, but the moment passed. It always does. In fact I was rather pleased with the turn-out in the end, and as I alluded to earlier there were dozens of good wishes from some very nice people indeed.

I have many things that I want. I want to be in a long-term relationship AND unmarried. I want to go out to my local and drink (on my own if need be) on a Saturday night if the alternative is the bloody X-Factor. And I can. And I do. The only problem is I feel I am being judged by the family-orientated people my age. They're all so much more mature than me, and therefore they're just better people. They're leading a good life, doing their bit to maintain the human race, whereas people like me well.......we're all about ourselves. Ourselves and our Wiis and our beer. Who needs kids when you are one?

But I'm not. I'm 35.

Yet that in itself cannot be all bad. Another birthday means another year passed without the buggers getting me. Three years ago my specialist looked at a scan of my kidneys, rubbed his chin and told me they weren't going to last much longer. I'm no specialist (though I like to think I have better people skills than most of them) but I know that continuing to exist becomes difficult without kidneys. I'm quite sure that many people have died from the lack of any functioning kidneys. And so it is with some relief (with the odd slice of weariness on bad days) that I continue to breathe your air, eat your food and drink your beer. If and when I reach 40 I'm going to throw a huge party to celebrate not being dead. I'll get drunk and wake up feeling like I am dead.

But I won't be, and that's the important thing.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Strange But True


Assuming you've even heard of the place, Thatto Heath gets a bit of a bad press. It has a reputation as being a little rough around the edges. Yet apart from the odd murder and the occasional discovery of infant remains that have lingered there for over 20 years, there's very little bother.

Not where I live anyway. I have lived on our estate in not one but two houses and until yesterday had never encountered anything even approaching crime. Somebody once told me that 'Heathers' don't rob from their own. I was quite prepared to believe it too, but my illusions are now well and truly shattered.

It was a twist of plot more bizarre than anything seen before on these pages. More surreal than the hedgehog or any of the antics of Northern Rail. I'd taken the day off work via the magic of flexi, and had spent most of the day slumped on my sofa watching Europe win back the Ryder Cup. Considering the misery of the Super League Grand Final at the weekend, this was as close as I was going to get to enjoying a perfect day off, when I was rudely interrupted.

I never even heard the front door open. There is another door which divides the tiny hallway and the living room, and as I sat on the sofa trying to find something to watch that did not feature Anne Robinson or Noel Edmonds, it swung open and there before me stood a complete stranger;

"Who are you?" I enquired, not unreasonably.

"Erm......I've just come to buy some ciggies." he said nervously.

At this point I thought I had entered a Coen brothers movie and rather than a rational fear of a man who could have been carrying a weapon, I experienced only a blind fury at his temerity;

"Get the bloody Hell out of my house." I shouted, bewildered and outraged in equal measure.

"Can't you just serve me?" he asked.

I quickly got back into my chair and, trying hard not to butcher the English language too much, ushered him out of my living room and towards the front door. At which point the man pulled a fist full of £20 notes from his pocket and pleaded with me to sell him 20 Regal.

"Does this house look like an off-license to you?" I asked

"So you don't sell ciggies then?"

"No I bloody don't! I just live here!" I raged. I'd gone a bit John Cleese at this point, and was only moments away from giving him a damn good thrashing with a tree branch.

Finally the man grasped the concept that I was not a cigarette salesman and began to apologise as he backed towards the front door. Finally rid of him, it was only then that I started to consider the possibility that he was not just a mental case who genuinely thought I worked for Lambert & Butler. It was more likely that he was a grubby little thief who was sizing up the house for a good old fashioned ransacking.

Oh, and for whoever said they don't rob from their own, well he did have a scouse accent...........

Do you Peg Feed?

Turn the clock back two days, and our evening out for the Super League Grand Final. I'd rather not talk about the game if you don't mind, so instead I'll relay another strange tale. It's another true story, though I can scarcely believe this sort of crap happens to me.

I needed a wee. That's not a pleasant thought but there it is, we all do it. I entered the gents (no disabled toilets at the Springfield, you have to slum it in the urinals) and a burly and incredibly drunk man stood next to me;

"I'm not being funny mate but........." he started.

I hate that. Whenever I hear that phrase it is without exception a prelude to someone being funny. And not funny ha-ha, but funny rude or funny plain ignorant. He didn't let me down.

"I'm not being funny mate but do you peg-feed?"

"Do I what?" I asked, with no small amount of exasperation in my tone.

"Oh no mate sorry, I've got it wrong, I'm really sorry. It's just that I work with a lot of people with learning disabilities and a lot of them do so I just thought know?"

No I don't know;

"I haven't got a learning disability, mate. I've got a degree."

"Oh no no no, I wasn't saying you had I just........."

You just were assuming I had cos I have a wheelchair. Because you're a plant pot and because you are representative of Thatto Heath's staggeringly ignorant able-bodied community.

"What is peg-feeding anyway?" I enquired.

He wouldn't tell me. He told me it didn't matter and that he was sorry.

Other people eh? Bloody Hell.


I've just found out what peg-feeding is. The peg in question is an acronym, standing for Percutaneous Endoscopy Gastrotomy. Basically it is feeding a patient through a tube directly to the stomach if, for whatever reason, they are unable to feed themselves orally.

However I remain confused. The man in the pub clearly stated that he worked with a lot of people with 'learning disabilities'. With that in mind his assumption seems even more staggeringly ignorant. The term 'learning disabilities' surely relates to those with say, autism, or something not immediately obvious like dyslexia. Surely it is more likely that someone with a very severe physical disability would have a greater need for this type of thing? I have met and been educated alongside many such people, and can assure our burly pub-goer that they do not necessarily have anything resembling a learning disability.

On the contrary, they are more clued up than he obviously is.