Wednesday, 7 February 2018

What if I change all President Donald Trump tweet exclamations into question marks? (And 9 other major improvements for happiness) #PowerDaydream

I want to change the world, but I am also the World's Biggest Daydreamer.

Jan 1, 2017 12:00:10 AM TO ALL AMERICANS- #HappyNewYear & many blessings to you all! Looking forward to a wonderful & prosperous 2017 as we… [Twitter for iPhone]

Jan 2, 2017 09:40:10 AM Well, the New Year begins. We will, together, MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN! [Twitter for Android]

Jan 2, 2017 12:31:17 PM Chicago murder rate is record setting - 4,331 shooting victims with 762 murders in 2016. If Mayor can't do it he must ask for Federal help! [Twitter for Android]


Hello. I’m Neil. And I am a recovering News addict.

It’s been a tough year.

I’ve got nothing against the News or anyone else who hands their lives over to the News.
I just don’t think it’s as important to me as the time I give to watching it.
The News doesn’t help me achieve what I want to achieve.

I don’t know what I want to achieve.
But I know in my bones that watching the News will not help me achieve it.
And that’s difficult to write because the News is all about arguing the toss, and right now I can hear all those arguments in my head.

Some of my very favourite friends in the World work in the News - and I love them - and I am proud of them and their work, and their colleagues who put their lives in danger to bring it to us.
It is difficult work and they are skilled.

I just don’t think any of it is for me any more.

“The News” never reports when a school trip returns safely...
...or when a Social Worker does a good job.

It seems to be about urgency, rather than perspective.
And it’s on an agenda, driven by people who are not friends, or friendly, in a system that is gamed daily.
For profit.
And not for us.

I couldn’t tell you one thing that happened in 2015 - the last year I was a fully-functioning junkie.
All that scrolling and clicking.
All those free newspapers on the train and in the coffee shop.
All that rolling news, those bulletins, and BBC Radio 2 top of the hour updates, breaking up the fun and laughter and creativity.

Not one thing.

And I don’t think it’s because I can’t link important events to a year.

I just think that they might not be that important. Even that massive tragedy (I don’t know if there was a massive tragedy). It must have been awful for the families of those affected (if there was a massive tragedy). But tracking the unfolding revelations when it happens helps neither them, nor me.
So why was I rubbernecking?

I figured, if I can’t remember it, that’s probably a sign I should go cold turkey.

But a weird thing happened in 2017.

Even though I abstain from the News (because I am still an addict) - somehow the President of the United States still manages to get tweets into my eyeline. And each time they did they made me feel sad.

I even had a major wobble in my News-sobriety (I haven’t got a word for being News-sober. Is it Realiteetotal?) when someone whose life had hit the ultimate low that they then had to cause carnage in Central London.
That’s where I am from, and where I regularly go to work.

But they did it, ironically, so that they could get themselves on the News.

And there I was gawping again. Like the oafish enabler that I am.

The News you’ll use will always come to find you. Try it.
And there they were again.
Those tweets from the Leader of the Free World that make me feel bad.

And I know that I am the problem in this equation.
But I’m not entirely helpless. I am a writer and a script editor.

At first I wondered if I should get my 6 year old daughter to deliver the tweets as a script rewritten by me?
Would the edge be taken off them?
Would they have a different effect?

But that felt arch.
I didn’t want to look back in years to come and see how I had wasted minutes on her precious life on something so fleeting - so pointless - like the time I wasted gawping at those poor souls in that massive tragedy that I can’t even remember from 2015.
And I don’t really want to expose her to those words.

This was a clue.

So was it the words that were the problem with the tweets?

I knew that looking at them again might cause me to fall off the wagon - but time had passed since they were written, so maybe it was okay to look at them again.

I wish I hadn’t.

What made me feel bad wasn’t even just the words, but also the very grammar and punctuation.

Those exclamation marks. All over the place.
In AMERICA (sorry, “America” - I have read too many Presidential tweets. I’ll get onto the capitals in a moment) In America, they call them exclamation points.

That’s what they’re doing - pointing - passing judgement and, like the News, always after the event, pointing the finger.

It’s as if he’s yelling at me like it’s my fault.

What if I rewrote the entire year of the Presidency without the exclamations.
Would that make me happy?
There’s yet another question.

What if I rewrote all of the tweets with questions instead of exclamations?

Would I be able to digest these and feel like I’ve learned something?
Would it come off as more curious?
Would I consider more different angles?
Would the tweets sound more wise?

Okay, I’ll give that a try, but after rewriting a whole month of history (January 2017 - the month leading up to the inauguration) there were other words making me feel bad.

Anything written in capitals.
I know, I’m over-sensitive (and I overuse hyphens).
But do the capitals add to the badness, because I’m assuming they are Alpha judgements telling me what to think.
I couldn’t rewrite all of them.

What about the main ones?

(I’m not sure I like the capitals still, but it might just seem loudly curious).

NEWS could become TIMEFILLER.
Not because I disrespect the News, but because I am a recovering junkie.
It would help me to remember that I don’t need to be spectating.
Maybe I could make it case-sensitive.
No. Let’s have News and news also as TIMEFILLER.

Best of all, most inclusive and optimistic of all...
What if AMERICA (the ones in capitals) became THE WORLD?

That doesn’t make me feel sad.

The only other words that jarr now are:

That would be rewritten as “thought-provoking” - leave it for us to think, consider, and review.

“North Korea”
Could become “Our fellow human beings in North Korea” as a reminder that there might be sad and scared people there too.

Did I mention I’m scared?

I shouldn’t be. I mean no disrespect to the Office of the President. I am merely about to reinterpret the most powerful man on the planet to see if I can understand his tweets on a deeper, potentially more curious level.

We shouldn’t be here reading these - you and me.
But let’s see how we can come out of this in one piece on the other side.

This is my version of events and how I would try to make them better.


Here goes...

I published them in a book,
"President Donald Trump Tweets: What if I change all exclamations into question marks
(And 9 other major improvements for happiness)."

It's available on Amazon now.

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What if I want to change the world, but I am the World’s Biggest Daydreamer #PowerDaydream

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Tuesday, 6 February 2018

What if I want to change the world, but I am the World’s Biggest Daydreamer #PowerDaydream

(picture taken by a writing partner before my diagnosis...)

A few years ago I hit my forties and found out one day that I stop breathing in my sleep.

Every night, while I was asleep, I would stop breathing 15 times every hour.

I'd close my eyes and, without knowing it, I'd also close my lungs.

The doctor giving me the results asked me to guess the longest time I stopped breathing.

He turned it into a game probably to keep me awake.

It was 100 seconds.

I stopped breathing, on a completely regular night of sleep, for 100 seconds.

I couldn't even try that if I were awake.

Though with my concentration that broken the longest I could focus on doing anything, like not breathing, is about 100 seconds.

The way it works is that I’d stop breathing which wakes me up long enough to start breathing again, so I fall back asleep... which stops the breathing long enough to wake me up and start breathing again so then I’d fall asleep...
Over and over.

It’s like Tantric Sleeping.

Your body keeps going without ever actually getting there.

And this was going on for probably 30 years, and I was so tired...
I was so tired...
I was so tired that I had no idea that this was going on.
Every night.

Anyway I got it tested and got it fixed and now I wear this breathing mask every night and it turns out my wife isn’t into Darth Vader.
Which is a shame.
Or second-hand air-conditioning units.

But I’ve got an even bigger problem.

I am now getting some proper sleep.

I had no idea how tired I was, I just knew that I couldn’t make a decision or finish a thought.

That’s how I started off working in comedy.

I would start a sentence right here, and it would finish off... SOMEWHERE OVER THERE.

And then they'd say something like:
“Hahaha - that’s so funny.”
And I'd explain:
“I can't remember what I just said.”
“Hahaha, stop it.”
“No, really.
I need to have a lie down.
Right now.”

The downside was that I would spend entire days... entire decades... daydreaming.

I thought this machine - the one that keeps me breathing through the night - would give me proper brain-restorative deep-cycle REM rest.

And it does.

But I still can’t make a decision, or finish a thought...
...only on a much grander scale.

It got me daydreaming some more.
"What if I turn my biggest weakness into my greatest strength?"

But I have thousands of ideas that I haven’t acted on.

Over 3 decades of being the World’s Leading Daydreamer.

So now I want to share as many of my daydreams, with as many people as possible, to make the World a happier place.

I feed my family by daydreaming.

That, right there, is my first Power Daydream.

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Companies want our data. Lets give them our feelings too - and other #DadDirt 190-196

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Thursday, 11 January 2018

Companies want our data. Lets give them our feelings too - and other #DadDirt 190-196

Things in my head this week.

Monday 8 January
What if “We absolutely need to leave at 7pm” actually means goodbyes at 7.35pm and wheels absolutely at gone 8.50pm.

Tuesday 9 January
What if Newspapers were to slowly attack every man, woman and child in the country, then wonder why their sales are going down.

Wednesday 10 January
What if it doesn’t matter what build or body language.
Any man holding a biscuit tin looks hopeless.

Thursday 11 January
Companies want all our data.
What if we give them our feelings too.
Because they don’t know how to make money from that.

Friday 12 January
What if all social media is cigarettes.
And my feed is just menthol.

Saturday 13 January
What if my 8 year old son declares himself bankrupt.
Can he start again?

Sunday 14 January
What if you know what you must do now.

Previous post...
What if Pharrell Williams has it right all along?

I keep 365 Days (a whole year's worth) of Dad Dirt right here.

Or you can follow me on Twitter here... Thanks.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

What if Pharrell Williams has it right all along?

What if Pharrell Williams has it right all along?

"There's something special on the other side of this moment
And it's about what you and I decide
And it's important for you to remember we did this together
And finally, they'll know the story of our lives

There's a brush fire
TV's watching it escalate
Smoke signals going up higher
It'll take your breath away
But they don't know how we act now
We'll turn our tomorrow into yesterday
Don't you nest away
C'mon, get dressed okay

Grab someone you love
There's something special on the other side of this moment
And it's about what you and I decide
And it's important for you to remember we did this together
And finally, they'll know the story of our lives

And if it happens to rain on my plans
Water and sweat will dry when they can
Not even cuffs will prevent this man
From the connection between these two hands
You heard me?
Yes, sir.

And it's important for you to remember we did this together
And finally, they'll know the story of our lives

There's a verse dropped from a different version.
Maybe it was cut for time - or to avoid any mention of "the Lord" in a kids thing.

"I'm a sinner - Sometimes I only did what was required
I'm a sinner - Sometimes I sat down when I got tired
Should've stayed standing up, To do the job for which I was hired
But the good Lord, Thank you for relighting my fire"

There's so little written about this song.

How does Pharrell summon the confidence to create something so pretty and so delicate,
and then put atonal honks all over it?

Either way, that minion getting his dungarees blown off on the final parp is the gag that holds the record for the biggest laugh (and most replay) in our house in 2018.

(Followed a close second by Cameron Diaz's "There's a window there's a bed, there's the TV there's your head" Miss Hannigan moment on Annie).

Previous post...
The News Has Jumped The Shark - and other #DadDirt 183-189

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Wednesday, 13 December 2017

The News Has Jumped The Shark - and other #DadDirt 183-189

Things in my head next week.

Monday 11 December
The News has jumped the shark.

Tuesday 12 December
I bought 4 terabytes of storage space.
But I’ve only got 183 gigabytes of life to store.

Wednesday 13 December
When you see your bin men in another street on another day, they are absolutely cheating on you.

Thursday 14 December
I always mix up the windscreen wiper and headlights stalks and look like I get angry every time it rains.

Friday 15 December
Be famous for 15 hundred people.

Saturday 16 December
When you’re avoiding dairy, you can have cheese if you use it like chewing tobacco.

Sunday 17 December
We are the cleverest animals on Earth, because we've managed to work out how to cage ourselves.

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When you try to avoid Shoe Shop Guilt... Just try it. You can't. #DadDirt

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My Photo inspired by Austin Kleon - Show Your Work

Sunday, 26 November 2017

When you try to avoid Shoe Shop Guilt... Just try it. You can't. #DadDirt

Saturday afternoon shop chaos.
MUM is with her 6 year old daughter - finally catching the attention from twenty-something SHOE SHOP GIRL.

Hi, thanks, I need a pair for my daughter.

They come with flashing lights, badges, stickers or a toy--

I know and I don't care.
I just want to buy one pair of shoes, that don't come with any guilt.

You want to buy shoes. Here.
Without the guilt that comes with buying shoes here.

I know it's a long shot.

And they're for school

One week before the end of term.

So there's no way out of this.

No guilt.
I know that it can be done.

And you're saying that while I've got this right here.

CLUNK CLUNK. She cocks the foot measuring machine in front of Mum's face.

Keep it coming--

So you want no guilt, while I use this unnecessarily huge contraption... that records in three dimensions...

I'm ready for it.

Length, width and height of the feet of the child that came from your womb--

They're just shoes.

(to girl)
9G! Oh my, have you grown!
Because the shoes you're wearing are--

8F. I know.

8F? Ffffff.
I'm measuring the other foot because they can be different sizes and we must make sure they don't harm your child's natural growth--

They'll last less than 3 months.

So we don't want to permanently disfigure them.

(Long pause)
They're the same?

(Longer pause)
They're the same.
(putting shoes on the girl)
So let's try these on.

Are those certificates on the wall there yours?

We are shoe experts.

I bet you've had a whole night's sleep.

The shoes are on the daughter.

How does that feel?


Not you. Your mother.

You haven't even got any yoghurt down your top.

(perky, to daughter)
Do you want to try them out?

Yes please.


She kicks the SHOE SHOP GIRL clean in the face.

They'll do.
(to daughter)
Come on, let's get some lunch.

Something that completely destroys my teeth?

Yeah. You deserve it.

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How to stop hiccupping (or hiccoughing) and how to make an infographic - Tips and Tricks for my Kids #DadDirt

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Thursday, 23 November 2017

Do You Like My New Hair? No, because it is a test that I will fail. #DadDirt

DAD crosses past MUM in the Hallway.

You haven’t noticed then.

Noticed what.

Or you don’t like it.

Oh wow. Your hair. It’s magnificent.
But I always say the wrong thing here.
So - let me make it 100 percent clear.
It is dynamite.
I love your hair.

You do?

11 out of 10. Amazing. Fantastic. The best.

A moment.

So you didn’t like how it looked before.

No, I didn’t say--

You couldn’t find a good time to tell me.

No, what I mean is--

So you were hiding that you didn’t like how it used to look?

No, it’s just such a phenomenally spectacular new look--

You do know then, that it’s different.

Yes. Definitely. And it’s stunning.

And you like it because it makes me look different.
Like you’re with someone else.

Yes. No!

You want me to look like someone else.

I didn’t say that - I didn’t - what I mean to come across is...
etc. etc.


Long-lasting volume with perfect hold.
Satin touch by L’Oreal Paris.
Because the row is worth it.

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Don’t ever want my girl to stop putting wellies on the wrong feet #DadDirt

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Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Don’t ever want my girl to stop putting wellies on the wrong feet #DadDirt

A 6 YEAR-OLD GIRL is putting on wellies in the hallway.
DAD is sat on a stair, watching.

This’ll take forever
She usually puts them on the wrong way round.
But look at that.
The wellies are on the right feet.

I guess this is it.
The descent from here into womanhood.

Soon you’ll be interested in boys and secrets will be more important than anything else.

Our home will have no hold for you.
You’ll explore the world and will leave your mark on it.

But it’ll be a struggle.
Women will hack you down, and then there’s the men.
I’ve treated enough badly to know what you’ll face.
Difficult situations and wrong relationships.
Heartbreak and pain.
Will you have the resolve?
The strength and spirit to--


Her coat is the wrong way round and the hood is over her head.

Oh, nothing.
We’re late.

He shuffles her out of the door, her coat still the wrong way round.

Don’t change a thing.

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Visiting Santas Sexy Helper #DadDirt

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