Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Let Me Entertain You

Seriously, I am such a tool.

Regular readers (both of you) will know that I don't write about work but I do write about alcohol-related fuck-ups. When the two collide then documentation is unavoidable.

We went out last night. On a Tuesday. We went to La Tasca in Liverpool and, it being a Tuesday, the plan was to have a sociable few and head home at a reasonable hour to avoid the crushingly turgid Wednesday that I am currently experiencing instead. Had I not ruined my spell of sobriety at the weekend (one pint on the way home from work on Friday and several more watching Ricky Hatton hit the deck on Saturday) I probably would have stayed completely sober and drove home. But I didn't, so I thought 'what the hell' and got on the San Miguel.

Any time I say 'what the hell' disaster is but a short step behind me. And so it turned out that I annoyed everyone by getting progressively louder as the evening wore on. By the time we hit the darkest Wetherspoons you have ever seen on the corner of Queen Square I was rambling on and on about something and nothing. Why didn't I just shut the fuck up? I couldn't, it was well beyond my control as soon as San Miguel got involved. It all culminated in me falling asleep in the back of my colleague's sister's car. She has only met me twice, and on both occasions it involved her driving me to St.Helens, very probably for my own safety. If first impressions last, then I am a drunkard and a blathering imbecile. And I sing too much.

Which brings me to the point, the nadir, of this entry. While I was in the toilet a man approached my colleagues and asked one (the boss, actually, whose birthday it was) whether I was alright. Nobody really knew what he was talking about. Of course he's alright. He's just Ste. Loud, annoying, pointless, but perfectly safe. The man seemed a bit surprised by this and said that he just thought he would check because he had just been in the toilet alongside me, and I had been singing Robbie Williams songs. FFS as the cool kids say. I watch 10 minutes of Take The Crown Live before I arrive at work on an otherwise average Tuesday, and I end it in disgrace in a public lavatory.

Let Me Entertain You. No Stephen, you're a c**t.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

An (abridged) Honest Answer

What follows, like all anecdotes featured in this column, is 100% true. I may yet choose to embellish it for the book that I am still laughably trying to write, but this is what actually happened, not what could happen given a certain set of circumstances.

Incidentally I have not managed to add anything to the word count of the aforementioned book tonight. I have been to see the new Bond film which is utterly splendid. A proper Bond film. There's no mileage in me promising a review however. I still haven't done that review of The Campaign which I saw over a month ago. At the end of the day you're not reading, either because you want to see the films and therefore don't want them spoiled for you, or because you have no interest in the films at all. Or because I'm shit.

So let me take you back about eight hours. It's Wednesday lunch time. I have been to Burger King in the city centre and am on my way back to work. I'm pushing up the hill near to Moorfields station, wishing I hadn't eaten quite so much and/or that I wasn't quite so old and heavy. A man with a walking stick is limping slowly towards me. He smiles at me knowingly, slows his limp down even further and says;

"Excuse me mate, do you mind if I ask you a question?"

Oh fuck. This is going to be about wheelchairs. Strangers do not stop me in the street to ask me where I bought my jeans. And if he just wants directions then in the first place he is shit out of luck because I'm out of my comfort zone, and in the second place he probably would not have asked whether I minded. For the briefest of nanoseconds I consider pushing on and pretending that I haven't heard him. I'm disabled. If I have a wheelchair then who is to say that I'm not deaf aswell? And blind while we're at it. Or just simple minded? I could easily carry off the notion that I haven't seen or heard him at all. The moment is devoured by a rare moment of guilt and responsibility;

"Of course mate, go ahead." I hear myself say.

"The thing is I am going to be in one of them soon and I just wondered how you get on?"

He points to my chair with his walking stick but the penny has already dropped. He's referring to the wheelchair. One of them. He can't even bear to say the word;

"Yeah, I've got MS, and I'm going to end up in one of them so I just wondered what it is like for access and that round here?"

At this point I lie, or at best offer a highly censored, truncated version of the truth. I'm late back as it is. What I would do if I was being brutally honest and if I had the time is take him to the nearest pub and warn him exactly what awaits him over a pint. Explain to him in great detail how it will slowly but surely turn him into an emotional fuckwit. But I stick to answering what I have been asked in the time I have. I have to. I'm down on my flexi;

"Well I'm used to it mate, I've had it all my life so it doesn't bother me." I lie.

"Really mate?" he asks with a smile, bouyed by my deceitful, smelly, matter-of-factness. He is soon to be brought down from his cloud of optimism;

"The wheelchair will be the least of your worries, mate. It's other people's attitudes to it that are the problem." I announce, more coldly than I had intended.

"I know, bastards aren't they?" he answers, without elaborating on who 'they' might be.

"Good luck mate." I say finally.

He'll need it. Especially when that first person approaches him on the street and says;

"Excuse me mate, do you mind if I ask you a question?"

Friday, 2 November 2012

Just the (Speeding) Ticket

Friday night, October 26 2012. I'm at home on my own. Emma has gone out for a meal with some friends from work. It's the end of the first week of my self-imposed six-week alcohol ban so it is pretty uneventful. I'm watching a documentary about Ronald Reagan (what a bastard he was, by the way) and another about Pablo Escobar (what a total, total bastard he was, by the way).

It's around 8.30. I get a text. It's Emma. Comically, I have left my phone in the car as I write this so I cannot tell you what it said verbatim. I'd been waiting in the car while she did the shopping at Tesco and kept my phone to hand so that I could bollocks about on Facebook to keep me occupied. The car stereo is all very well but if you play it for long enough the car starts beeping at you threateningly, as if the world will come to a screetching halt if you don't just bloody well give the battery a rest.

What I can tell you about the text is that the gist of it was that she would like me to pick her up from Liverpool because she 'might be blotto'. Now you might think this quite ordinary and no good reason to panic, but the last time Emma was 'blotto', without going into detail, was somewhat problematic. Rightly or wrongly I am panicking at this point. I get in the car, lug my chair across my knee, pull up at the local petrol station and wave my badge in the air and point a lot until the nice lady comes out to help me fill the car up, and I'm on my way.

There's a little tension between us because Emma is semi-blotto and I am fearing the worst. Not only that, but she has asked me to meet her at the Adelphi and I've been there for 10 minutes or more before she finally showed. My panic had increased to some other state of uber-panic or something. As it turns out she is not so bad. She's drunk but not in an offensive way and not so much that she will be unable to function properly in the morning. All's well that ends well then?

Well no. Fast forward a week and I arrive home after the aforementioned Tesco vigil to find a letter has arrived from Merseyside Police. Keep in mind at this point that I have been back on the road for 37 days. Thirty. Seven. Days. Not long enough to get myself into any trouble you wouldn't think. And surely I would be especially cautious on all things driving-related after my 11-year driving 'sabbatical' ended so recently? No. I panicked remember. Those wretched Cumberbitches at Merseyside Police inform me that I was driving at 66 mph on the M62 at 9.06pm last Friday. Now that doesn't sound like much of a problem except for the fact that apparently the stretch of the motorway I was flashed on was a 50mph zone. Who knew? The bitter irony in all of this is that I drive that stretch of motorway every day on my way to work. Normally, there is about as much chance of driving at 66mph on that piece of road as there is of Mark Clattenburg going out to dinner with the Mikels. Gridlock is very much the watchword Monday to Friday mornings. Great book Gridlock by the way. By Ben Elton, has a lead character called Geoffrey Spasmo. What could be more splendid?

I tell you what isn't splendid. The fact that now, in order to avoid a fine and to limit the damage to only three penalty points on my still dust-covered license, I am going to have to attend a road safety course. Now I could write an entire blog about how much I hate courses about anything. Normally they are about as useful as self help books and as real and authentic as Bruno Tonioli's face. No doubt my explanation that I was having to stay above 50 to avoid blowing up Sandra Bullock will not wash and I will instead be preached at about my future conduct on the road. After just 37 days. Thirty. Seven Days.

Of course I am not the first person to have been caught by a speed camera. Even my dad, who ordinarily drives at the kind of speeds normally reserved for Noddy and Big Ears was once subjected to a road safety course. Back when I was a student in Barnsley they didn't have such things and my only other driving indisgression was settled by the payment of a fine. I'd be tempted to pay the £60 fine they offer as an alternative on this occasion if it didn't come with a six-point license penalty. Three I can live with, six seems a little too much to bear. Particularly after the day I have had. No check that, the WEEK I have had.

But that's work and we're not allowed or even advised to address that here, lest I be sent on a course to teach me about Social Networking And Blogging Awareness.

So instead I will just finish by saying.....fucking, twatting bollocks!