Give Advice Like No One Matters

Friday 3rd January 2014

It's about time I did another work displacement activity, I mean blog.

So I have decided to pointlessly dissect the advice in that famous song or poem that optimists sometimes quote at each other. You know the one. It goes something like:

"Work like you don't need the money. 
Love like you've never been hurt. 
Dance like no-one's watching. 
Sing like no-one's listening. 
Live like there's no tomorrow. 
Fear like a stone."

I'm pretty sure attacking this lovely sentiment is hack territory but it's not like this is a huge platform that's meant to be full of a grade material. So there. In fact, if I was trying to write this into stand-up right now, I would have no interest in it. But because I am supposed to be updating my website and working on the next draft of something, it suddenly seems like an alluring and brilliant use of my time.

My problems with this sage advice are as follows:

Work like you don't need the money. - Then no one would EVER do ANY work! Are you insane? If I had to work like I didn't need the money I would do a really shitty job on everything I ever did. The only reason I don't is because I am afraid I will be told off or sacked. If everyone suddenly pretended they were Scrooge McDuck society would crumble. Or at least, it would be a bit like that episode of the Simpsons when everyone copied Bart's 'I didn't feel like it' attitude. Seriously, better advice would be 'Work like you have a deadline you actually care about.'

Love like you've never been hurt. -I put it to you that your blank-canvas love is insubstantial without the experience of hurt to give it depth and contrast anyway. And also, you don't have to have had your heart broken to be able to use your imagination to work out that that would be a horrible experience. If you have ever seen a film or read a book you'll have the gist. So if that's what they meant, they should have phrased it: 'love like you've never seen a Woody Allen film and are unable to predict that sometimes things end badly.' But even then, as I say, I don't think the love of a moron with no foresight is actually as impressive as the love of someone who understands pain and still risks it all.

Dance like no-one's watching. - I dance like everyone's watching. And also that they hate me. This is why alcohol exists. But thanks for reminding me that I am a repressed, slightly socially-phobic, lowly-functioning borderline alcoholic. A better activity to do like no one's watching is shoplift.

Sing like no-one's listening. - I'm tone-deaf, so in a way that's what I always do. But it's certainly better if we just tweak this to 'sing WHEN no-one's listening.' You need to be sure. Especially if you sing as badly as me and don't fancy everyone wittily comparing you to the dying animal of their choice. As ever, this advice is all about the big idea, but doesn't have to deal with the actual consequences of the apparent bravery.

Live like there's no tomorrow. - Live in ABJECT TERROR of my imminent death? What's wrong with you? If I spend all my money and tell everyone I love them, and then there IS a tomorrow, I'm going to look pretty foolish. I'd have to end the world just to get out of the social awkwardness I've created. Terrible advice. Really irresponsible. 

Fear like a stone. - This just feels like a mis-translation down the line. Are stones really that famous for not being afraid of things? I thought they were more famous for being inanimate objects, incapable of human emotions of any kind. Also being hard and dense, and helping geologists work out how old the world is. But you know, sure, whatever. If you just meant 'Don't be afraid of stuff' maybe that's what you should have said instead of trying to show off all the time.

The thing that annoys my misanthropic side about this wise counsel, is that it is all too saccharine to really be practical. it is crappy advice disguised as a lovely idea and therefore meaningless, and part of the problem, not the solution. But then, maybe I'm just jealous because I'm incapable of doing any of the things on the list.

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Writing Is LIke Cooking

Thursday 21st November 2013

I've decided writing is a bit like cooking. Everyone has their preferred method and there's different ways of getting there:


If you want to be organised you can chop up all the vegetables into nice neat little pieces before you start. Then you can fling them into the pot at the perfect time for the recipe and everything runs smoothly to a schedule.

The writing version of this is planning everything out meticulously carefully at the plotting stage, so you have a tight synopsis to stick to, with no surprises.


Or, when you're cooking, you can chop the veg as you go along, so that some of them are cooking while you're chopping the next lot. This saves time if you feel like you're up against it. But it does mean the onions might be burnt by the time your carrots are ready.

The writing version of this is like when you don't have time to finish the plot/synopsis properly before you have to start writing it up. So you spend the whole time thinking, 'Uh oh, I’m not sure if that bit really makes sense there now, shouldn't that bit happen first? Ah, no time!' But you kind of have to carry on, thinking, 'I'll sort it out at the end!'


Sometimes when you're cooking you ignore the recipe entirely, thinking, 'this'll do! This will probably be better. Sure it said dice finely, but I think big chunks are nicer.' Then you spend the rest of the time trying to chop the unwieldy big bits of vegetable with a knife while they are floating around in a bubbling pot, and thinking, 'why didn't I dice them when I had the chance! This makes no sense now. It's too late to take them back out again. I've started, they're half cooked. Why did I do this? Why? Why?'

One day I will stop being method C. But evidently not today.

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Good Signs

Sunday 8th September 2013

I could post up some really beautiful photos of scenery here...

But where's the fun in that?

So here are some of my favourite signs and sights from our holiday. (I've numbered them as I can't work out how to separate the pictures and do a caption under each one).

1. Mad Vomit Plate

I think I have found the exact opposite of that famous scene from When Harry Met Sally - "Don't have what he's having."

2. Wine & Drugs

I like the refreshing honesty of this sign. Though I worry what it says about our reputation that this is how Italians think they need to cater to British tourists.

3. Needle

Evidence of the aforementioned drugs.

4. Clothes Sign

This confirms my fears that the reputation of Brits abroad precedes us. Maybe they have seen our reality TV shows and are trying to avoid a Geordie Shore re-enactment.

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My Favourite Thing To Ever Happen In A Cathedral

Monday 2nd September 2013

We went to the Cathedral of Amalfi. It's old and beautiful and impressive and all those things. Sometimes I like to pretend I am educated enough to get off on architecture, but I was soon distracted by a man doing what I think was a brilliant thing.

It was this man. I don't know him, and he's quite far away in this picture, as it seems kind of rude to just post a stranger online. But it's way polite if you do it from a distance so that no one can recognize him. Right? Right.

He was posing with the Madonna and Child statue as if they were real celebrities that he was super excited to meet. It was like he thought he was at Madame Tussauds, and thrilled to stand near the wax Beatles.

I used to work developing photos, so I know how everyone does the same pose by each celebrity, and they all pose 'ironically' like they were there in the center of things. (Except the Kylie wax statue on all fours - all the men stood behind her like they were doing her and were the first ones to think of it).

But this guy reminded me of the people that stood happily in the midst of a pop group that changed the world, grinning away, and pretending he was in with them, and if anything he was one of the main ones too. It really made me laugh. Which was kind of inappropriate in a Cathedral.

Maybe one day he can trick his grandkids (while they are still quite young) with the picture... 'Those guys were really nice in real life. Yeah, I taught Mary everything she knows, it was actually my idea to go to the stable that time. I let them say it was Gabriel’s idea because it was better for PR reasons, but actually, things would have turned out very differently if it wasn't for yours truly.'

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Sunday 1st September 2013

We went on a sightseeing bus tour of the Amalfi coast. The audio guide mentioned a saying they have, about how beautiful the area is. It goes: 'When judgement day comes and all the people of Amalfi go to heaven, they won't notice the difference.'

Now that's confident. Bordering maybe even on arrogant. I kind of admire it. Admire the confidence. There is so much-taken-for-granted confidence in that sentence.

Firstly, the confidence that there is definitely an afterlife. Secondly the confidence that it's your version of the afterlife that is definitely the correct one.

Thirdly, the confidence that you (and everyone in your area) have been good enough (according to the rules of your religion) to definitely get into the nice bit of the afterlife that you believe in.

And then fourthly and almost least importantly, the confidence that your area is so beautiful, that god has probably copied your decor, and it will be home-from-home when you finally make it to heaven.

So I have invented a new saying: 'As confident as a Mediterranean.'

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The Tudors

Saturday 31st August 2013

Me: What'ya reading?

Rich: The Tudors by Peter Ackroyd.

Me: Any good?

Rich: Yes, it's very interesting. But I don't understand why anyone would have wanted to seize power at this time. When statistically it was so likely to end with you dying horribly.

Me: Well, I suppose it's like X-Factor isn't it.

Rich: Um..?

Me: It is. It's exactly the same as that.

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Cartoon Clothes In Italy

Friday 30th August 2013

We are on holiday on the Amalfi coast and having a brilliant and relaxing time. 

But so far, the main thing I have noticed about Italy (other than how brilliant and sunny and beautiful everything is) is all the clothes drying everywhere.

Obviously you don't need to rely on a tumble dryer in this kind of climate. But as everything is quite packed in together, everyone's washing is everywhere; outside windows, over balconies and drying right out on the street in front of everyone.

So I think, basically, Italy is the perfect place to be if you are a cartoon or in a black and white film, and you are on the run from someone, and you need to change clothes to disguise yourself from them. It is the PERFECT place for that. Nowhere is better. If ever you find yourself in that situaltion, go to the Amalfi coast. They'll never find you.

The other thing about it is though, you probably want to make sure you have nice pants, because everyone you know is going to see them at some point.

If anyone wants anymore hot and insightful tips about Italy, let me know.

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80's Treasures

Sunday 2nd June 2013

I've been going through some boxes from my parents attic and I've found some amazing things. ('Amazing' here just means, 'of significance to certain types of children of the 80's').

People said I was a fool to never throw things away, but where's THEIR signed photo of Gorden Kaye from Allo Allo? Exactly.

Just by holding onto to things for way too long, I have made myself a little time capsule, so I thought I might blog about some of the funnier items here, when I have time.

When I was 9, I was a huge fan of 'Allo Allo.' (Partly, I admit, because when you did impressions of the comedy accents in the playground, you kind of got away with swearing: 'I vos just pissing by ven I heard a shit!' - remember 80's and 90's kids? It was great wasn't it?)

(Apologies to any younger readers, I know times have moved on and now you only like really sophisticated comedy, like Mrs Browns Boys and stuff).

I remember getting this photo really clearly. Rene (that's his real name, I still don't see why we have to call him Gordon all of a sudden ) was really nice in person. He even pretended to be French and kissed my hand in character. And he was very patient and kind to all the kids that queued up for ages to get his autograph.

And the thing is, I kept that photo up on my bedroom wall for ages after that. I kept it up there for what you might call, 'way too long' in fact.

By the time I was 13 people would come round and say, 'Is that?....Um.....why have you got a signed picture of Rene from 'Allo Allo' on your wall?'

And because I was not in any way cool, and still liked 'Allo Allo' completely un-ironically, I'd reply, 'Oh that? Yeah, I met him once.' like I was some kind of Bigshot, with connections to the stars.

We'll always have... some time in June or July in about 1990-1? (I'm guessing) Rene, we'll always have that.

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Offensive Book

Thursday 25th April 2013

I saw this book in an LA airport shop on my way home, and all I could think was: 'if ever there is a book that can just fuck off, then surely it is this book.'

I know our society is meant to be obsessed with youth culture, and afraid of ageing, and all that, but still. Come on. Twenties can't be the new benchmark of over the hill. I mean, where will it end?

Soon there will be a book out called 'Oh Shit I'm A Foetus, God I Miss Just Being An Embryo, When I Still Had My Whole Life Ahead Of Me.'

Plus, in America you can't even drink legally till you're 21, so in theory they should still be looking forward to the ageing process at that stage, rather than lamenting it. And it's certainly not worth swearing about. The youth of today are so rude.

Also because 20's is so young (sorry insane marketing department of this book). And most people are way older than that, it's quite an unseemly thing to be complaining about. Like when a millionaire bemoans how difficult they find being rich.

But basically, if you are in your twenties and you're actually worried that makes you old, there's plenty of euthanasia clinics you can go to now. Then there will be more of the worlds resources left for the rest of us, that have proper stuff to be getting on with.

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Surprising Surgery Art

Wednesday 21st November 2012

I don't mean to boast, but I've been to quite a lot of Doctor Sugeries in my time. Not because I'm particularly prone to illness but because I've moved house a lot, and so had to keep re-registering.

And I've noticed that Doctor Surgeries often like to have nice, soothing pictures on their walls. I assume this is to calm nervous patients and to balance all the scary notices they also tend to have, that say things like, 'QUICK! Get a flu jab now or you might die this winter!' (I'm paraphrasing).

So my current Doctor Surgery has tried to follow this idea. People like green outdoory things, right? And people know there's doctors here, right? Well lets just combine those two things. Yeah, bring it all together.

As you can see there are doctors out and about in what could be Hampton Court Maze? Administering medical check ups to statues.

So far, so strange, but OK. I kind of get it. Bit trippy but vaguely reassuring.

I mean, I'm not sure we should trust these doctors, if they think inanimate statues need helping, but hey, maybe that's how they train now the NHS is being cut.

However, my main concern is the lady at the back of the second picture. What is she doing to that naked mans bum? There's a close up in the third picture.

Everyone else is just using innocent things, like stethoscopes and bandages, but she has a syringe in one hand, and looks like she's about to slip him the finger.

Maybe this is to subliminally prepare the patients to the idea that sometimes at doctor surgeries, embarrassing things happen, and they might have to get their bums out? I don't know. I just don't know.

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