Monday, 24 September 2018

What if I'm not actually properly married? #WeAreTheProblems

I overthink everything to make the world a happier place

What if I'm not actually properly married?

I realised last week that I might not actually be definitely married.

I love my Long-Suffering Wife, but my heart did a proper leap.

This was really exciting.
Like when she gets a haircut, and it makes her look like somebody else.

(And then I'm getting blamed for complimenting it).

It's all because we wanted to involve my disabled Mum in the wedding ceremony.

First we had to break her out of the maximum security nursing home...
Turns out you just press the green button next to the door.

But she was really immobile - with Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis.
It's Multiple because one sclerosis is never enough.

And then we had to get her 61 miles from Croydon to the Registry Office.
I'm not a medical expert, but a doctor explained
"It's like moving Mr. T after being hit by a tranquilliser dart."

So we're getting married in this Registry Office.
A place that reminds you of the deep commitment you're about to make... to paperwork.

But I'm not sure I fully understood all of the certification.

This is the biggest dedication in my life.
Isn't that enough?

Because now I've got to "give notice" to the Council.

I don't think they can cope with potholes and alternating wheeliebins...
But sure, come and get involved in our lifelong passionate romantic commitment.

You're good at one-way systems.
We can make this work.

On the county website they say it's to
"publicly display the notice for a 28 day period."

Like we're parking ourselves on each other.

We've got to get the right permit.

I guess it's from the days where somebody - somebody who's been checking the publicly displayed notices...
They can then "object"... because they know that you're already married.

But I'm thinking:
How can you go through life knowing that you've objected to somebody's wedding?

Isn't that something that would come up during every waking moment?
Or would you be like: "Yes! (KNUCKLE CRACK) "Stopped that wedlock in its tracks."

Most people are worried about wearing the right shoes, or sitting in the right place.
Can you imagine adding an objection to that list of things you'll forget?

And how did THEY get an invite anyway?

If you've managed to get an Objector into your own wedding congregation, maybe you don't deserve to get married.

And you know it's not easy getting the council to give you the "notice" in the first place.

You've got to have an address, you've got to bring 2 current utility bills to prove it...

I think that's why they say you shouldn't live together before you're married.
It is impossible to get 4 separate utility bills in one place.

But I know I am a hopeless romantic.

As in, I am hopeless at being romantic.

Because under "address" on the form, I put Splitsville - as in that's where I was leaving.
Didn't go down well.
They said I didn't have the right postcode or something.

But wouldn't it be great to get your Marriage Notice revoked?
To be so bad at being a couple that they actually take it away from you?

And then we'd be like all on the run... as a pair of engaged renegades.

Showing up at some Civic Centre or County Hall.
Without the proper documentation.

"Do you take Neil to be your Lawless Loose Cannon?"
"Hell yeah!"

So it's our Wedding Day.
And there's this part of the ceremony where two Witnesses have to sign the Register.

In pen and ink.

And I think this is where I went slightly wrong.

We wanted to involve my profoundly disabled Mum.
So that she didn't feel like some total burden upstaging the bride.

She was well up for it.

And at the right part of the wedding - it's on video and everything - I wheel her to the table where my Brother-In-Law is finishing signing the Register...

And I put the pen in her hand.
And she gives me this big smile.
And she pulls her body - her MS riddled body - over to one side to get closer to me.
And I lean in because she probably wants to say something lovely.
And she whispers.
"Yes Mum?"

"I can't hold the pen."

And I put my hand on hers.
To grip it.
And then she giggles.

"I can't move my arm either."

And I'm looking around but nobody can see this.
And I have no idea what to do.
And everybody's waiting for this thing to get signed.

So then I start guiding her hand in that signature that's scorched in my retina since I was a kid.

Watching her sign all those cheques and credit card receipts.
For the toys in the department store and the takeaways in the Chinese.

It all came flooding back.
I could see that signature once again.

In only remembered all of this last week.

And without missing a beat my Dad goes "That means you're not married! You can get out of it!"
And without another breath "Oh no hang on but I really like her!"

He was so conflicted.
Just like my documentation.

But you know what?
I think Weddings are all about having old things around us.
Old cars, old dresses, old relatives.

And sometimes, sometimes we've got to accept that they just don't work.

Plus maybe I shouldn’t’ve signed it “Booooyah!”
With eight exclamation marks.

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What if I always think I've always given myself a stroke? And not in the good way. #WeAreTheProblems

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Monday, 17 September 2018

What if I always think I've always given myself a stroke? And not in the good way. #WeAreTheProblems

I overthink everything to make the world a happier place

What if I always think I've always given myself a stroke?
And not in the good way.

Whenever I do anything that involves any kind of exercise, I always end up thinking...
"What if I've just given myself a stroke?"

And not in the good way.

It's like the other week, I'm doing this very kind martial arts programme...
that's all about flow, and working within your own limits.

And the instructors could not be clearer:
Go at your own pace.
Don't do anything that feels too hard.

Except... I'm a Dad in my forties on a Saturday morning.
How can I not show off and go as fast as I can?

So there I am, leaping and kicking.
And punching my six year old daughter.

I'm joking.
She's seven.

But she's got a shield.
And this is how I've been connecting with her.

Well it's how my rear-dynamic round punch fist strikes have been connecting with her.

But she loves it.
And the Instructors are saying again and again:
"Stop if you're doing too much".

And then we do stop.
And then so does my heart.
And then the tsunami of sweat.
And then... I'm obsessed... What if I've just given myself a stroke.

Because that's how it works:
If I worry about it hard enough, maybe somehow I can make it stop.

But if I can't, I'm thinking this gonna be really embarrassing.

Going into Right Front Stance...
...without any control over my right hand side.
Dribbling down my dobok instead of kihaping in Korean.

And now like every time before, I can't remember any of that acronym.

"Have I forgotten it because I'm just a pillock who can't concentrate?
Or have I forgotten it because... I've just given myself a stroke."

And I don't know how long it takes, so then I'm in the toilet...
Panic typing "Hoe can you stop a strike"

I s'pose at least the left hand's working with all the deleting.

Then I find it - and it's F facial drooping A arm weakness S slurred speech T time to call an ambulance...

But... I'm a Dad in my forties on a Saturday morning.
This is how I feel all of the week.

Anyway, I survived.
Did I learn anything from this?

I am now a neurotic hypochondriac.
Black belt 6th dan.

New book out now!

Previous post...
What if I can't breathe through the night? Every night. #WeAreTheProblems

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Friday, 14 September 2018

How To Be A 1960s London Taxi Driver part 2 - chats with my Dad about the knowledge and driving a black cab

Here's the second part of the video I shot with my Dad about becoming a London black taxi driver in the 1960's...

Partly for posterity, part legacy, part oral history, part for my kids and family and part stark reminder of my own career mortality.

It felt great finally sitting down with a camera and hearing about things I'd never asked him about:

Hating having to learn the suburbs,
What happens when you finally get the Green Badge after 18 months,
How do you get a London taxi in the 1960s "on the flat"
Getting the meters changed with fares and "bingo cards"
The dreaded annual Overhaul where your cab can fail for anything
How the taxi radio circuits started in Kings Cross
And what was his hubcap syndicate all about?

(feel free to turn the speed up and whack the subtitles on...)

How to be 1960s London Taxi Driver Part 2 | Chats with my Dad oral history

Out now as a book!


So you started the knowledge and then you had some appearances at 28 days?

And then you got the points that you needed to bring it down to what every 14 days?
Yes and usually had two appearances of that and what did they do - once you've passed that, they give you your “rec”.

But then you do the suburbs afterwards?
Yes and a couple of appearances, you know, can't think of it, I hated it...
Like Camden Town going to Barnet or something like that

Yeah. And you had to know all the street names in...
Well roughly yeah, it was a lot big big names you know like Marble Arch to Edgware - well
that was Edgware Road - and then about two other roads and then that was it, you were there.
And you used to call them rhubarbs - or did I imagine that?
No, that's what they call the Hampstead Garden Suburbs.
Hampstead - Garden - Suburb but they used to call that rhubarbs.

But then what happened was it was there one appearance where you knew it was the last one or did they just suddenly turn around and say you've done it

So you knew there'd be like one more.
And you knew you'd done it.

And if you blew that one you know there'd be another one - you'd come back in a fortnight's time
Then what happens do they just give you like a piece of paper then, or...

I think you've got to pay half a crown for your badge or something um pay for the postage for them to send it to you!
And that's when you get the green badge?

No but I've lost - I lost two of them My first one was 12857 that's the one they gave me.
You can still remember it?
Well it's just such an ordeal you go through.
You'd see some fellas when you first went there, they've got nice suits on nice polished shoes... but after 18 months your suit was polished at the elbows you could see your shoes worn down and the frayed shirt.
Cos you've got no money

So you had to dress up for the appearance and--
You still do.

If you lost it ever you got to go to a police station and fill out a form.
And then they gave you another sort of form just in case you got stopped by the police

And then once you, once you got your green badge how, how does the taxi work, back then, did you have to buy it rent it or?
It was called “on the flat" and you had it for a week
I can't remember how much, about 13 pound for the week and you put your own diesel in or you could have it on what they call "on the clock" on those meters that you do a percentage you know you give the owner 70% no, 60% you kept 40% and all your tips but usually the cab went out again on the end of the day or end of the night when you finished.
Either you call half on the flat, you could share it with somebody but that more or less everybody went on the on the full flat - why they call it that I don't know - then you could keep it, use it as your own - for your own use as well which is quite handy yeah and --

where was that in town somewhere?
Yeah it was off of West End Lane - in a garage there.

It's 2 houses now!
Yeah, a luxury block.

But back then it was mechanical meters?
Yeah yeah, and when they put fares up they'd have to - you'd have to drive in wouldn't you - you'd have to physically...
And have a new meter and sometimes you had to wait for the cab to go to Overhaul because they just couldn't alter all these mechanical meters at once.

Yeah, there used to be like a...
I remember there used to be like a thing in the back that explained the fares, but there was another thing for when the fares went up that would convert what's on the meter with the new...
Oh yeah we used to call them bingo cards And they'd cause more ructions than anything!

People-- Because you'd have to explain that the fare on the meter isn't-
Yes because it's on this big place here...
and the more intelligent the people were less ones that they couldn't work it out
yeah yeah funny.

yeah that was the other thing that I remembered the the Overhauls - they sounded just as stressful as the as the knowledge - because every year it's not like an MOT, it's like a proper they go through everything don't they - on the taxi.

Yes, you've got to have it steam cleaned... first... and then just everything needed doing

because they could fail you on silly stuff?
Yeah, if the cigarette thing was full up.
Another thing I used to get in a state with with your Mum - the state I used to get in because it meant you know if your cab had failed, it'd mean another couple of days off of work.
Sometimes a good thing sometimes it's a bad thing
yeah I thought it was a good thing because it's a bit like your body if something's not slightly right you let it go it gets worse and worse.

I remember you had the hubcaps - you had a hubcap syndicate
[LAUGH] where you was it you and three mates each owned a brand new hubcap so when one of you went for overhaul...
yeah we have those had yeah we put all the new hubcaps on it looked nice
One garage at the end of the street - a taxi fleet - he had bumpers - overhaul bumpers - he used to take the bumpers off the taxi and put these new ones on, and take it up - when it came back, he'd put the old bumpers on again.
So you were on the flat for a bit - which is like renting a taxi and then what stage could you buy one?
Well it was - when I'd got the money.
Mine was about nine months - the things they had on the flat in those days, they were just clapped out - it was horrible to drive - and you know if you take it in the garage, and get it back for a service - the steering wheel used to be all greasy... the seats used to - the driver seat used to be greasy...
But with your own one you know you take a bit of pride in it

So how did that feel when you got your first cab then?
Again because you'd just laid out £1250 and you're driving around and -- but after a week, you was whizzing around like anything

Where'd you get them from - was there like one place that you'd get them from?
Yes - off the Wandsworth Bridge Road.
There was a garage there.

It was only place you could get them yeah
I found, I had a manual to start with and then the gearbox was so hard - you needed to have a divers boot on to change gear.
Get it in gear - 'course they had the monopoly, they couldn't care less!

And was that LUU52P?
No, it was AGP343G.

And what model was it?
What were they called back then?
An FX4?

And then when when you passed - how did the radio circuits work?
Because could you drive a cab without being on a circuit.
Oh yes.
When I first started, that was you know a self-indulgence.
You know, if you wanted to be, but I wanted to be on the radio because people you know the minicabs were coming in, and people wanted to pick you up on your door - they didn't want to stand in the street in the rain and- women complaining about their hair...

And you had - so you had - what 4 radio circuits in London there was Lords...
No, there was two.

Oh two?
To start with.
When I was there.
It was just 2 people who had a row with each other, on one circuit and one went one way and the other went the other way...

So there was just one radio circuit?
Yes, it started at Levy's you know that big garage at the end of York Way (N1) it was started there.

Which end of York Way?
As you're just coming from Kings- Euston Road on the right there's a big big place there
I mean yeah I used to call it dieseling up, you know every two
nights you know fill up with diesel I remember, it's like a courtyard it's now

all shops and coffee shops
yeah yeah but it used to be like this cobbled mews,
and you'd go in to get your DERV... your diesel... and you'd give the fella who filled it up
a couple of bob and he checked your water and your battery

But they had a radio circuit there - you know a radio--
Because he had some premises there where you went downstairs, and I think this fella Levy
had been to America and seen it and tried to start it up at... there.

But then someone else - I can't remember names of the fellas - took it over and moved up Pentonville Road and started it there.

So then and was that going before you became a driver you know there was already a radio
circuit yeah yeah
and then so then they split yes
but before your time yeah

and one was called Mountview and one was called Lords
Yes - that's because that was the phone number right that's the name of the exchange, in
London yeah

So where was Mountview based?
Right at the top of Highgate Hill in one of those flats there.

And Lords was in Pentonville Road.
Right, so when you phone up for a cab you'd either phone that number or your number - Lords
- and and then so then when did you join Lords?

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What if I can't breathe through the night? Every night. #WeAreTheProblems

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Monday, 10 September 2018

What if I can't breathe through the night? Every night. #WeAreTheProblems

I overthink everything to make the world a happier place

What if I can't breathe through the night?
Every night.

This machine is great.
It gets me to sleep every night.
It’s like having a reset button on my bed.

I’ve got this thing at night where I just stop breathing.

That’s how completely bored I am of my body...
“Oh I’ll just stop living then.
Place is dead anyway.

I’m so lazy I can’t be bothered to stay alive.
When I am literally doing nothing else.

But it’s even worse than that, because when I do stop breathing, I don't even follow through.

My body then goes:
“What are you doing?!
You’ve only got one job!”
And so I start breathing again, so I can fall asleep again, so I can stop breathing again.

It’s like "The Circle Of... Not Life".

Fifteen times an hour every hour.

It’s almost the most impressive thing I can do in bed.

It’s like my head is trying to kill me.
And it’s got a bit of an advantage...
because it’s got me by the throat.

Everything’s okay though because I’ve got this CPAP machine.
“Continuous Positive Airway Pressure”

It’s like slow kissing an air-conditioning spout on the back of a 1980’s coach.

Which I kind of like.

I’m not saying it’s the only thing going “WHOOOSH” in the bed.
But for my Wife, it’s like sleeping with a long-haul passenger.

On a flight that’s really in trouble.

And who wouldn’t want to share the sack with Robo-Elephant.

Looking like a dozy Bane from Batman...
sounding like a bootleg Darth Vader.

I am so grateful.
I'm getting filtered air through the night, like some kind of Hollywood wacko.

I am John Travolta in the Boy In the Bubble.
Or Michael Jackson with Bubbles the Chimp.

And this air, it's pushed into me whether I like it or not.

I didn’t get the full gist of this till my 3 year old daughter came in one day...

She came into the bedroom, standing over the machine.
“Daddy daddy! Wake up! Wake up!”

Farting into the air intake that's being jetted into my mouth.
“Agh! Get it off! Get it off!

Beans, veg, I don’t know what she's been eating.
But it's going straight into my lungs.

I can't take it.
"The Force is too strong in this one!”

But it turns out that is the way to stop not breathing.

Try my new book!

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How To Be A 1960s London Taxi Driver - chats with my Dad about doing the knowledge and driving a black cab

All about me, and getting these by email.

Thursday, 6 September 2018

How To Be A 1960s London Taxi Driver - chats with my Dad about doing the knowledge and driving a black cab

My Dad’s a London taxi driver.
A cabbie.
Licensed Owner/Driver of a black taxi.
That’s silver.

Except he’s stopped driving now.

Taxi drivers don’t retire.
They just stop driving.
And hand in their precious Green Badge.

You don’t get a leaving gift and goodbye card, even after serving Londoners for over 50 years.
But he pounded the streets of London for money.
And I knew it was hard getting that licence, that Green Badge.

When he stopped driving, I suddenly realised that I had no idea how hard exactly.
Or how he got there.
Or why.

And I’ve got kids.
I know they will ask me about him or look him up in the future.
So this Summer, I set up a camera and we had a chat.

Here's the first part of the video...
How to be a 1960s London Taxi Driver: what was it like? Chat with my Dad 1

I know there are questions in here I’ll kick myself for not asking, or answers where I didn’t follow up...

But this is what he did tell me:
What it was like to pass "The Knowledge" - the toughest road test in the world: to memorise every street, building and place of interest in London; Getting the Green Badge; Hiring and buying a London black taxi cab; How London's licensed taxi radio circuits worked and how to join them; plus the tricky odd and weird customers he's faced over the years.

And I put it all in this book:



And maybe now it’s in print, I’ll end up thinking of some other questions to ask him...

Here's the full transcript:

okay Shall I sit down here?
[KEYS LANDING] Ooop, missed.
So yeah, if you're able to... talk about viagra?
[LAUGHTER] Good evening and expenses, if you can put this on?
What do I do?
That - good isn't it.
How did it do that?
Looks like you sneezed down yourself.

Erm, yes so erm, I thought cuz cuz my kids are gonna ask me all these questions about you as a taxi driver in the 60s I won't be able to answer any of it because I'll probably have alzheimers myself and er... but it's just sort of stuff that I didn't know about you know what it was like becoming a London taxi driver in the in the 60s so all I know is that you would you were driving already

because you were a you drove for a film company - the Italian -
What it was, we'd drive like an 8 seater - no 12 seater van - or a Volkswagen, you could open that you know open the sides up and you could put all the sound gear for whatever all the camera gear there and you know these film companies just hire stuff out almost pointless them buying a van or something like Italian television coming over here and just hire for three or four days

Then you were at a unit driver yeah for other film companies
yeah and we used to move Movieolas or something like that to drive down Dean Street pick these things up and deliver to companies all over London But something that was ideal because some days you were sort of lean, you didn't have any work so it could take your moped and go and see all points to set rules of London

That's when you're doing the knowledge?
That's doing the knowledge yes and its very very helpful because you doing usually doing
deliveries all over London that you certainly started to know your way around you didn't know the names of the roads but once you're doing the knowledge you could sort of pick the names up and you could picture yourself going along it was only eighteen months
so when you were...

you were driving already and then you you got the idea to get a taxi license
yes because I was always skint and I never had any money and I think for two Christmases you know you just didn't have any money in your pocket, and it was horrible feeling so you think well if I had a taxi license at least I can go to work and earn some money and it'd keep me out of the pub!

And when - do you remember what year this was roughly?
yes it was about the third or fourth of January 1967 I went along to the Carriage Office and
signed up and you get a pep talk and the fella says ninety percent of you will fall out of it.
I think he was right

And you - so you like sign up, and then do they do they give you a book
Yes, it's called a Blue Book which is white and had about 300 different runs that you do like Manor House Station to Thornberry Square, and you just got to... well you just do it's easy way of doing it

And in the book do they list all of the streets and basically you've got a look up all of the places of interest hospitals, police stations, anything that's of interest to London.

And erm, how long, can you remember roughly how long they give you to your first... because your interviews called Appearances

Do you remember how long it was to your first appearance
yeah in those days it because they were short of drive cab drivers it was 28 days Right...
I think nowadays is 56 days or even longer than that and then they didn't really nobody knew how it worked, but this all worked out if you did a run more or less spot on you got two points if you coughed it and spluttered your way through you go one point I think when you got 18 points or 20 points they put you down to fortnights.

Right 22 points overall or 20 points in one appearance?
No more or less I don't think they would let you do it in less than 18 months

Oh, right so on each appearance could they ask you anything from the 300
[LAUGH] And anything.

My favourite one was they asked you for the Institute of meat to the Institute of Management and it just fascinated me this one it was - the Institute of Meat was in Bristol House and you used to have to get your bike, and look at all the names in there.
And the Institute of Management used to be behind Holborn police station
it's just a short run but I did it just fascinated me the er...

It's 50 years on and you still remember that that's why I don't get-- whenever you say - you - because you don't talk much about the famous people you've been in the cab, but whenever you do so like ABBA in the 70s you remember the run that you know
It's just strange these things stick in your mind

What were the appearances like? What were they-

Yeah cuz Mum said you used to be like really like properly ill.
oh yeah I couldn't drink a cup of tea but if my...
If I was having a cup of tea before I went up there I used to throw it up.
And what would calm me was I would walk down from Harmood Street to the Carriage Office up the Angel and often that helped, but everybody was all the same there was all sitting there, petrified I don't know why - it's a form of stage fright I suppose, because you know -- you don't know what they're going to ask you and if you're doing it part-time and you need the money, you just want to pass out.
Actually if you get there and sit down and you just want to say no no no no I don't know it I don't know it and get out.
But they were there to test your temperament you know one fellow if you went in there Mr. Findlay and you had to stand there and wait till he told you to sit down - if you sit down he wouldn't mark you, you'd have to come back in a month's time.

No - so they could bump you out that quickly!
Oh yeah!
But it was all designed to wind you up.

You couldn't call what was it, the QV the Queen Victoria Memorial outside Buckingham Palace - it's nickname was was the wedding cake - but no way would you be allowed to call it a wedding cake.
Or the other story was even if you get to Tower Bridge and the fella said "keep on" well the fella said that Tower Bridge is up, and of course that didn't go down very well.

Did they do it to you?
Er no.
Or you just heard about it.
Oh yes.
I was so petrified...
I think I'd be frightened to--

Yeah, and when you were learning the the knowledge were you on a moped or a bike?
A moped with no crash helmet.
Like a Delboy cheesecutter (hat) you had on, it was part of the uniform.
And what like a clipboard on the front?

And would you write the stuff out before you went out or would you like tear pages out of the book?
No no you just write - usually if there was four runs you could stomach that - or get it in your head - if you went any more than that it was too much and the run was more or less all the roads you went through I mean I like a fella finished the knowledge and he gave me all all the runs.
And then some you could easy top of your head some on you stumbled and some you couldn't remember at all mine was all over South London - and I had like three piles - the easy ones - not so easy ones and the hard ones and you used to call it over with you girlfriend - I used to call it over with Vera, my wife.

So then - what you've have them written out
Yes each road.
And if like I don't know is this how you used to say it - "Forward down Agar Grove, left into York Way..." yeah and like "comply roundabout"
yeah, "leave by..."
I think so long as you knew which way you were going I think they fell asleep

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What if I'm never ready for the next National Crisis? #WeAreTheProblems

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Thursday, 2 August 2018

What if I'm never ready for the next National Crisis? #WeAreTheProblems

I overthink everything to make the world a happier place

What if I'm never ready for the next National Crisis?

I spend way too long thinking about stockpiling.
In case there is ever a National Crisis.

I don’t think I am the only man who does.

But I don’t know for sure, because men never ever talk to each other about the things we secretly store.
Because that ruins our competitive advantage.

There might possibly be a National Crisis coming up.
And I don’t think I’ve got my family ready for it yet.

As a Dad - this is literally my one biological job.
To get food and supplies so that my generation of DNA can survive and succeed long enough to get into the next generation.

But my National Emergency stockpile at the moment is 2 big bottles of water, and 6 tins of paint.

I admit it.
My contingency planning is swayed somewhat by "Buy One Get One Free".

In my defence, it’s emulsion.
So at least I can thin the paint out to make it go a bit further.

I’ve got a problem with the food though.
Because my family keeps eating my stockpile.

Which is exactly what it's there for.
But there's no National Crisis yet.

Also as a committed snowflake, I am really picky.
So the panic buying is taking a lot longer than I’d planned.

We all know the next National Crisis will be the worst we've ever seen.
Will we run out of coconut oil? Leads for the video? Printer toner?
My family will be so grateful that I’ve got those covered when we hit Day 41.

And it's great that we never know how long a National Crisis will last.
It'll be like a National Holiday.
The supermarkets will find a way to cash in.
With empty shelves in the "seasonal" aisle.

I'm gonna get my panic-buying home delivered.
I think it'll still get packed into the crates.
But arrive mainly through our windows.

I need to buy a lot of food that's processed and will last forever.
Basically it'll be like eating in the cinema for a month.
Or 1500 trailers.

My family will also have to rely on me growing all our own food.
Which at the moment is essentially blue mould in the bread bin.

The predictions are that fresh supplies will be blocked in Calais.
My plan is to take a really long day trip there and take a really long time coming back.

My Long-Suffering Wife thinks that’s a stupid idea.
But she’s looking forward to the shortages, because finally we'll stop making a mess in the kitchen.

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What if the bucket man on my doorstep is a burglar? #WeAreTheProblems

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Tuesday, 24 July 2018

What if the bucket man on my doorstep is a burglar? #WeAreTheProblems

I overthink everything to make the world a happier place

What if the bucket man on my doorstep is a burglar?

On Saturday we had a weird knock on the door.

All knocks on our door are suspicious.

I can't face my house most days - why would anyone else want to be there?

But this bloke in shorts, with bucket and carwash gear says:
"Hello I'm Gary. I'm your neighbour from number 23 and I'm mentally disabled.
They've cut my benefits and I'm raising money by washing cars."

I feel bad about his benefits.
I don’t know why they’re cutting them.
They all seem to get spent.
Isn’t that good for the economy?

But I've no idea why he’s picked our drive.
Our car's so clean it looks like the kids eat their dinners off it.
And then go to the toilet on there too.

Plus car dirt's carcinogenic.
He's mentally disabled now, but if he cleans my heap he'll end up with cancer on top.

Anyway he carried on talking and rambling about stuff that didn't really make any sense.

He wanted money, and I want money too.

We spent all ours on this car, so of course we'd want to protect our investment.
By letting some random self-diagnosed mentally ill guy all over it.

Maybe he thought the time it took to answer the door means I'm cash-rich and time-poor.
I should've pretended that I was The Staff.
Like in Downton Abbey.

But the kids are playing up.
This is the worst time to be dealing with this.
I need mentally unbalanced people offering me childcare.
Not cleaning services.

Stupid Universe not delivering yet again.

But there was something about his story that wasn't adding up.

I said, so you’re at number 23?
"Er... yes, urm Cheltenham Street, it’s a few streets away."

I closed the door and returned to my kids meltdown.

Then I had a meltdown - there is no Cheltenham Street in our town.
There's a street that sounds a bit like that but it's over a half hour walk away.

You’d have to have a mental problem to walk that with a bucket and car wash gear.

And then it hit me: either I’m a terrible person for questioning this...
or this is a plan to burgle us that's absolutely brilliant.

Wouldn’t it be perfect cover - to make you feel bad.

Plus any inconsistencies can just be put down to the mental disability.

Because like the Government, we all love making the disabled answer painfully personal questions.
“Like are you a bit, you know, “Uhh-uhhhhhhh”?
Or is it random and violent?”
“Does asking questions set you off?”

Who knows... maybe his condition means he’d overdo the work.
Maybe I’d come out ahead on this.

But if not - if he is a burglar - this is pure genius.

Either I give him cash on the doorstep...
Or walk him through the house, past all the crucial entry points and confirm where all the keys go.

We're on a meter, he even gets to nick our water.

It’s like the Thomas Crown Affair.
Or Oceans Eleven. With a bucket.

Anyway turns out he does come from a long way away, but he’s a drug addict.

He's not mentally disabled.
He's a local celebrity - infamous on the other side of town.

Maybe he’s looking for fresh cash.
He's a sponge. With a sponge.

But I'm a tightwad.
And my benefits are noisy kids and a filthy car.

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What if the problem is I am a straight white man? #WeAreTheProblems

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Friday, 13 July 2018

What if the problem is I am a straight white man? #WeAreTheProblems

I overthink everything to make the world a happier place

What if the problem is I am a straight white man?

I got screamed at by a comedian on a Netflix special for being a straight white man.

About how I was ruining her life and the world and everybody on every single level possible.

Which I thought was pretty impressive, given that I'm just parked on my bum, binge-watching a chromecast.

But she's right.
And it's great that my rule of terror is finally over, because I've got a daughter.

And there's no way I want her anywhere near any planet that I've had any part in creating.

But now - as a breeder - looking back, I can't help thinking...
Did I just completely waste my straight white man privilege?

All that extra money I got, I spent on struggling to trick women into breeding with me.

At best trying to impress, but mostly just absolute out-and-out downright utter deception.

And then when I did finally get to procreate, I blew it all on overpriced shoes and piling their bedrooms with plastic.

It's a bitter pill, but maybe... honky baby makers didn't make the best of it.

On the upside, I know my daughter's gonna make us proud.

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What if I want a cheap ticket but the ticket office is shut? #WeAreTheProblems

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Wednesday, 4 July 2018

What if I want a cheap ticket but the ticket office is shut? #WeAreTheProblems

I overthink everything to make the world a happier place

What if I want a cheap ticket but the ticket office is shut?

I needed a Network Railcard so I could get a cheap ticket because I'm cheap.

It's 0820, I need to travel at 1018 and the ticket office is shut.

For the day.

And so begins getting drawn in to arguing the toss and evidence gathering for how this system is skewed against us towards profit for the train company shareholders, and I don't want to get drawn in.

I'm meant to be doing my work.

And then I think they want us to not want to be drawn in, so they can keep the extra money as profit for the train company shareholders.

But I don't want to pay the extra fare when I can get the cheaper ticket, if the ticket office were open.

(** The dull ins and outs are that I have to travel full fare and then go through a claim process to argue the toss to "maybe" get the extra refunded. There's no guarantee for this and why should I do that just because they can't do their work properly. But their work is delivering profits to shareholders, so maybe they're doing their job brilliantly.)

Then I remembered the work I'm avoiding is turning all this into stories.

So instead I lived a little dangerously and tried turning it into a little picture story.

Part 1
Please help!

Part 2
Oh Go On... I'm good for it...

Part 3
I'll do it my way

Part 4
I'm out of my depth

Part 5
I've got a plan...

Part 6

(*** even longer and duller, deep breath, you can also get a Digital Network Railcard, but this involves having your phone that works with a signal and uploading a photo - ticket office railcards don't need photos - and when you do buy it you have to choose whether its digital on an app or a hard copy, you can't change this option after purchase and there are no refunds so if like me you rely on railcard fares because part-time commuting is hugely expensive because rail is run for shareholder profit and if your phone is dead or the signal is down or the app isnt working you are not allowed to travel on railcard rates or claim for the excess afterwards. I know it's pedantic but its not right you're committed to a digital railcard for the year instead of the hard copy ticket that you should be able to buy in a station on day of purchase. And why can't you get a hard copy in the post and the digital version for your £30, they both have your uploaded photo on them it's not like my face can be in two places at once unless it's to crack down on the widespread railcard misuse by twins which is plaguing the rail industry.)

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What if I have no idea why I hate the grill so much? #WeAreTheProblems

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Friday, 29 June 2018

What if I have no idea why I hate the grill so much? #WeAreTheProblems

I overthink everything to make the world a happier place

What if I have no idea why I hate the grill so much?

I have spent 3 straight weeks thinking about this.

The people I could have seen... the things I could have done...
But no, I spent 21 days, thinking about how much I hate the kitchen oven grill.

I will never ever use my grill or anyone else’s.
Even if it’s a brand new one and has a tray that fits.
Which it won’t.

And I don’t know where this level of sheer umbrage has come from.

Humans used to either cook stuff inside an oven or, on top of a hob.

When did that change?
Why was this never enough?
In the oven or on the hob.

What made us want to suddenly start cooking stuff under the heat?

Can you imagine explaining that to a caveman.
(Can you still call them cavemen? Doesn't feel very Woke.)

Even I know that heat rises.
So how come the grill's the fastest way to burn stuff?

Nobody asked for it.
It’s only good for melting stuff.
Cheese on toast and tray handles.
Each and every one of them.

I’m with the drip tray, the microwave and the smoke alarm.
Nobody likes the oven grill.

And now, I don't know what I'm going to do with all this time that I've saved.

Yet another reason to hate the grill.
I'll stop.

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What if we're the baddies? #WeAreTheProblems

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