life, my shit

Stand Up Comedy – The Experience (Or… Shit Myself, Have You?)

Stand Up has always been the number one fear to conquer for me. And it was even more scary than i had anticipated! I’ve always had an irrational fear of being the centre of attention.

Di8yLSlA

But there is a chihood memory which may have been the birth of this fear.

It was a talent competition in Butlins in the 80s with several hundred parents watching kids perform.

My little brother had gone up and was mid way through his tap dancing routine, the audience were crying. Everyone loved him. As usual. The Christmas before he had brought the entire school and all the parents to tears with his rendition of The Snowman. The hardest kid in the school turned up at our front door with 50p for him the next day, coz he loved it so much.

I was a weird reclusive type who mainly locked myself away and tapped away on computers. I was weird. But in Butlin’s i thought id get up and tell some jokes. I remember having a loose plan in my head of some stuff i’d talk about to the big crowd and i was up for it. I tugged on my tearful Mam’s shoulder pad,

“I’m going to go up.”

“Hmmm?” she said turning back to cry at my sequined brother do the Good Ship Lollipop.

“Mam, i wanna put my name down.”

“What? What would you do up there?’ she asked

“I dunno, tell jokes and stuff,” I replied.

She looked at me, tapping me gently on the leg, “shhhhhhhhhhhhh” she said. She continued to tap as she turned her attention back to my ginger superstar bro.

Jealous? Well i never wanted to be a tap dancer. But I wanted to have a go at speaking with the crowd. Shushed by my Mam. No Jase, what the fuck are you thinking?

I never touched a mic. I never was at the centre of attention. And whenever it seemed like i was about to be. I would fall apart. But i developed an amazing coping strategy: LEG IT. It seemed like the only way. Just get the fuck out of there as fast as possible. I often wonder what would have happened if i had walked onto stage in the 80s. Would i have been a hit! or a flop. would it have helped me overcome my shyness or made it worse?!

Even when i was in my band, touring for 8 years, i managed to stay hidden in the shadows. I took care to never stand out, and somehow managed to escape the limelight despite our growing fanbase. Most people didn’t even know i was in the band. And that was the way i liked it.

So what is this all about? Why am i like this?

I’m all for facing my fears and pushing my limits so i decided i’d try and face this weird aspect of myself and iron it out.  I joined a Speaker’s Club in Cardiff. This was terrifying. I done my first speech, to introduce yourself, to a crowd of about 20. I went into some dark stuff and scared the hell out of my fellow club members. I left in an embarrassed flood of despair, and didn’t manage pluck up the courage to return for almost 2 years.

I then rejoined and done a couple of speeches and freestyle speaking, some went well and some were total disasters, but i made some great friends in a friendly supportive environment. I still didn’t know why i was doing this, and when people asked I said i had no use for public speaking and that i was simply doing it to overcome a lifelong fear.

Then i went for it. I went for the big one. I was booked on to do my first ever 5 minute comedy warm up slot. I had guidance from Keith Palmer, who, without, I don’t think i could have done it. He spent several weeks helping me pull a set together. On the night the Fear was unreal . I was backstage with several other folk who were doing it for the first time and we were all a total mess. Sweating, pacing, crying, talking to ourselves, rocking, and lying on the floor sick. My name was called. I had a friend, my partner and my parents in the crowd. I had told them about it, really didn’t expect them to turn up to St Pauls in Bristol on a Saturday night! Especially as my Dad was usually in bed by 8. There it was. The lights were hot and 30 years after Butlins my Mam was sat there waiting for me to take centre stage. I was about to die in front of my loved ones.  I was fucking terrified. My body shook. And i was ready to run. fight or flight? i was definitely preferring Flight! Who the fuck was I to say hey everyone, you bought your tickets, and hey, im the entertainment, and I THINK IM FUNNY. And thanks to everyone who drove here and made the effort. IM HERE!!! fuck fuck fuck . I didnt wanna go. Keith stepped up moments before i hit the stage. He shook my hand, Looked at me deeply in the eye. I felt like i was tripping. everything sloooooowed down. The compere introduced me . I cant go out. Clapping!! oh fuck.

Keith said ‘ TAKKKEE YOOOOOOOOOUUUURRRR TIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIME. GO SLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWLY. YOU’LL BE FIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINE’

I stepped out, about 70 people looked at me and the host whispered into my ear, take your time, and shook my hand….. here’s what followed:

youtube link here

below is my original script as it looked the day before i went on stage, as you can see most of the ‘jokes’ didn’t land, and i forgot half my fuckin script. but hey… and the hecklers?wtf…. Any how, it was exhilarting and im chuffed as fuck i’ve finally done it. I may get back up. i’ll decide after i’ve got over the complete trauma of my 1st gig. Cheers for checking this shit out.///..

Hiya. Hello wembley. How are we?
I am Jason! Hello!
I am from Wales! (arm gesture to get crowd to cheer)….

Did you know Welsh is the fastest growing language? The number of WElsh speakers doubled last year. From 2 to 4.

I learned some Welsh phrases.
Yakidar!!!! YAAAAKIDDDAAAAAAA – Popydping
Bulbosbluuch -that means i have a spacehopper for baLLS….
Im really Proud to be welsh , i love wales….. i m moving to france tomorrow..
my freinds in wales describe me as…………………

Jonathan Creek.
Ronald McDonald.
Frodo Baggins.
A Big Issue Seller
Rolf Harris
Angela Lansbury
A Short Arsed Hairy Jippo Bastard ….Cheers Nan! (thumbs up)….
Any one got any phobias……
I got one…… WEIRD Fucking Noises!!!!!!!!!!!
Volume ,,,,, everything same]
More gentle sounds can send u nuts cant concentrate…..
Ii have been pursued my entire life. Pursued By Small Noises. Small crap noises that
don t belong where i am. They are not meant to be there but they turn up and fuck with
my mind. The common ones are breathing and eating….
I came across an article recently and it exists, and its called Misophonia! Thankfully i
have found that this is actually a recognised disorder I text my my girlfriends Ive got
Misophonia! she relpies Ok ill stop making you Miso soup . It s weird how in Alcoholics Anonymous there first thing people tell you is their name.
At last i belong to a group…..I am Jason and I am a Misophonic.
I love silennce…… Except at a comedy gig -when i need laughter!!!!!
Breathing in here back there . Keeep it downnn/////
i m not sure if im completely mental but even right now, (pick out a sound – traffic / seat
squeeking / etc) i am listening to that and am finding it very hard to concentrate on
speaking to you.
Big noises don t bother me. They are supposed to be there. These are the sounds of
things happening. What i m talking about is the noises that dont belong there. The ones
that sound apologetic for existing. Just creeping up behind you like some weird sex pest
that keeps stroking you.
My flat mate, well, my ex flat mate, was a lovely Chinese guy. I really liked him.But at
5am every night from the opposite end of my flat the coughing would begin. Quiet and
pathetic. Like a Chihuahua with a pube in its throat.
(Ch Ch Chu Chu Cheugh).
Then minutes later he would be over the toilet clearing his throat of phlegm Cecking up
flem all over my toilet. I would lay there listening. (Puking sound eeeeuuurgghhh
wwwwuuuughhh wwrruuugh! )
I would then slip back into a dreamy silent sleep. At 7am he would be having Noodles for breakfast! (Schhhhklllllllluuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuurp pop
SChlllluuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuurp POP).
DAN SNORING!!!! My friend, wouldnt wake up, I Stood him up! still snoring….
A Fart 3 blocks away in the middle of the night and im up and 
on the prowl with a torch…..
A previous flat mate (theres been a lot) used to sleep in all day. He would come into the
kitchen around 2pm most days, and glide past me crusty eyed with his cat in tow. I
would be working at the kitchen table (laptop keyboard gesture) and he wuold open the
fridge behind me and take out some sliced ham. He would then take a scissors and begin
to snip the ham into smaller pieces and put into his cat;s bowl. The creepy ham snip
behind my lug hole was enough to send me over the edge.
Schnnnniiip Schhhhhhnip! Schhhhjnip! >>>>>>the sweet sound of a nervous
breakdown . More sound in roommm……… Point it out.
This strange disorder has been with me all my life. AS a child i would awake 2 hours
before my family to enjoy some peace before school. Pure bliss. Then my mam would
come into the living room. She would cross the living room carpet, her slippers slapping
on her heels:. (Thhhhhhh slap Thhhh slap thhhhh slap). Then she d open the blinds
(chhhh chhhhh chhhhh chhh).
Id go and eat my sugar puffs in the kitchen/. Now dont get me wrong, I dont mind if you
stir your coffe with some vigour. You know grab the spoon add gthe sugar and stir the
fucker up and dissolve the sugar like that (vigouroues stirring motion) VOILA!!!!
However, a feeble coffee stir in the morning is one of thr worst wounds in the universe
for me. Dont ask me why but it has always sent me into a rage.
Tin Tink Tin Tink Tin Tink tink Tink.
Now the odd thing is I love to MAKE noise. I am a music producer! I love dance music….
Big it up….. Maybe i chose this career to get my own back! I love the sound of my own
noise!
At the moment i took a job on the side, all great performers have to take side jobs
so…………….
Roni Size had a paper round, Pete Tong was the Avon Lady, And …..I, I sell Eggs.
My mam is well proud of me! I love to eat eggs, I fucking hate selling eggs. But the eggs
are paying the bills…. Just stood there all day as people come up and ask about the fuckin
chickens.
Are they happy chickens? – squeeky voice
No, they are on Prozac mate.
Do they have space to roam around?
No mate, They’re under the counter….

I have become pretty successful at selling eggs, much more than i have as a music
producer. (SMIRK)
Each week while I am selling my eggs a busker comes along to the market. Now i love
buskers. I fully encourage people to perform in the street, However this busker is the
bastard love child of James Blunt. That cockey rhyming emotional wimp who croaks out
his song which for some reason millions buy. I mean have you heard his voice? This is
the same voice as the busker who joins me every week. How can something so FEEBLE
make me so MURDEROUS? Sounds like he s crying……….
(himmy himmy heeem himmmy heeeem heeeem) <<<<<<<<<<<<<<shorten it………
Im off now, please keep it quiet. And gimme a shout if you want some eggs. 

 

 

massive shout out to Keith and  The Comedy School and all the excellent charity work they do, respect.

 

Advertisements
Standard
camino, creation, life, my shit

19 Mistakes I made Publishing my First Book

Many people are self publishing these days. Aside from the Success stories of 50 shades of Grey, The Martian and a few others, is it possible to actually make a living from this?

I say NO! At least not until you have published many titles and have a solid fan base. My book has received positive feedback from anyone who has read it which is lovely but it has failed to spread into the world and make me rich!

Here, are the mistakes i think i made in publishing my first book.

  1. I failed to generate any reviews from any media. Aside from one review from a friends news site, I failed to get the book into the hands of the people who could have got the word out there.
  2. The content of the book was spread out over a measly 84 pages, much of which were illustrations.Was there enough literary content to make an impact strong enough to engage the reader to recommend it?
  3. I gave away approximately 50 copies of the book to people I thought may scream about it. I received a few private messages with feedback on the book, which done nothing to promote the book!
  4. I priced the book too low, at just £5, the profit was only £1.40 per book and therefore it was impossible to make enough to pay the contributors and make it profitable. (see point 20)
  5. My writing style was very messy. It was my first book and with little experience felt I was yet to find my voice. Luckily I had a friend who was an editor who made the whole thing make sense before we went to print.
  6. The spine on the book failed to print, and I only learned later that the minimum page count for spine printing is 130 pages. The book can never be recognised on a shelf, and looks more like a pamphlet from that angle.
  7. A team comprising of Welsh author, Welsh illustrator, Welsh graphic designer and Welsh editor then relied on an American company to manufacture and deliver the product. Shame we couldn’t complete the whole thing locally.
  8. I failed to get the book into any stockists or reviewers in Portugal or Spain where the events of the story took place. Or in Wales, the living place of the author.
  9. I failed to mention the Camino in the title of the book which has made it impossible to market it to people who are keen walkers or are familiar with the Camino de Santiago. I would definitely re-title the book to appeal to these people, as i am yet to sell one book to actual Camino walkers!
  10. The Web address that I printed on the inside cover is a dead link. I need to build a website.
  11. I did not arm my early adopters with the tools to spread the word about the book, and only gathered a few Amazon reviews. If they liked it, I just prayed they would recommend it, but a more solid plan could have helped it spread.
  12. The author should, as recommended by successful self-publishers, have a follow-up book within 3-4 months to keep the buzz going and build momentum. I am writing, but i dont have a book. I just have pages and pages of nonsensical rants with absolutely no thread – Brain Farts. (Now there’s a book idea!)
  13. We made the book paperback only, forcing physical copies of my work into the world, as real books are my preference. I now think it would have made more sense to release the Kindle and other E-book versions simultaneously, as many people read this way, the price is much lower and the profit MUCH bigger.
  14. Making my 1st book illustrated, although beautiful, made the whole process much more difficult, as we had many problems with formatting. Also it made the task of creating an e-book version much more difficult and contributed to the decision to postpone it.
  15. Having so many people involved in the book, unpaid, also extended the time frame as I was reliant on people for favours who had other more important things going on (ie. Paid work!)
  16. I had little capital to invest in marketing or promotion and compared to a publisher’s marketing clout my marketing plans were pathetic.
  17. Contacts in the world of publishing were minimal as I am a music producer. This means it was difficult to acquire advice or experience in this world. I failed to reach out to many people who had done it successfully. (Apart from Sue at Starships & Aliens and Derec at Opening Chapter – Thank You!)
  18. No Pre Promo, no buzz built, No launch party – locally or online, again just a facebook post on day of release. I relied solely on social media for promotion.
  19. I walked 200 miles, wrote 15,000 words and untold hours were spent by various friends editing, formatting, designing and illustrating the book. All in all making it a labour intensive project which has so far only netted approximately £300. Take away the cost of the free copies and i have so far made about £200. And i haven’t paid any contributors to the book!  Was it worth it?

 

There’s nothing more exciting than seeing your first book in print, and i would highly recommend it! When i ripped open the box and first cradled it like my first born, i squealed and popped like cheap bacon in my new tefal titanium pan.
The book is getting great reviews on Amazon and it has inspired a fewfriends to change things in their life and has made others laugh. Surely effecting people is more important than MONEY?

Huge thanks to everyone who has read it and had the time to share their thoughts or recommend it.

If you don’t have a copy yet, some Amazon sellers have now completely devalued my art, and for some reason you can grab a copy for £3.01, here!

massive thanks to Norris Nuvo, Laure Lajarthe, Paul Bevan, Cai Hughes and Eleanor Burns.

 

 

 

‘PAIN? It makes you more spiritual!’
-Thomaas the Astronomer

Standard
life, other people's shit, the sicknote diaries

Sicknote Driver, Dickie Balboa’s House Fire

0

dickie 6

Dickie Balboa. Do you remember him? The legend that drove Sicknote around from approximately 2006-2011. He put so much into the band, and although he had a wicked time with us, he got very little back. A true giver in the truest sense or the word. Eventually succeeded by Stevie G, another legend and true giver. I feel these guys gave the most to the project financially, always keeping vans on the road for our benefit, and silently absorbing the costs to ensure the sickness arrived. Anyway he left in 2011, and had to get a job, sell the sick mobile and sort his situation out. I think he was feeling under-appreciated and his personal circumstances were in dire need of some attention. Dickie then became a charity bag collector. Delivering the bags one week and collecting them the following week, for British Heart Foundation. It helped that he was a hoarder, his house was notorious for being full of junk. From floor to ceiling in most rooms. He used some of this junk to ensure the charity was getting it’s quota, but still worked flat out, usually starting his rounds at 4am each day. He worked his balls off. He paid off his debts, and managed to save a little bit. Dickie, being Dickie, stashed his little savings at home. He wasn’t one to leave it all in a bank. Fuck the system. So he had it stashed in a box buried deep within his junk upstairs. It would take a thief days to find it.

At the end of last year, Dickie opened his back door, and some kind of back draft thing happened. The open fire, that was blazing away his winter chill, spat out a ball of flames right up the wall and across the ceiling. He stood upon a bench and began to pat the wall and ceiling out, but managed to pretty badly burn his forearm. It was no use, in a matter of seconds the entire kitchen ceiling was alight. He headed for the stairs to retrieve his little stash, but the fire was spreading fast. He stepped outside to survey the situation, and then decided on one last mad dash. A neighbour was passing and grabbed him, thankfully, and stopped him going in. He dragged him to the opposite side of the road and they watched as the entire house went up in flames. The fire brigade came and put it out. The roof was gone. Every window melted. The doors gone. All of his belongings. Money. Everything reduced to a smouldering pile of soot. The only thing he had was the clothes he stood in, and his Sherpa van parked outside.

fire

The neighbourhood, Abertridwr, an odd dead-end village in the valleys near Caerphilly pulled together in ways that help build faith in humanity. These are people without a pot to piss in. And they are giving everything they haven’t got. The local pub landlord gave a room for people to drop off donations. The community were dropping in fridges, sofas, money. Scaffolding companies put up free scaff on the remainder of the bricks. And they began to raise money with local and online collections. Everybody, even people who didn’t personally know him put money in the pot, and although not a lot of money, it afforded Dickie some emergency help with his basic needs. Friends cleared out their spare rooms and he is staying locally with the friendliest and most colourful insane characters. He had always said he needed a clear out.

here is the news article with the link to the local donations (now expired – £835, spilt between Dickie and his neighbours)

I got the bus up there before christmas and done a couple days work. It was fucking hardcore. I thought it was game over, but no, he was determined to build his house back. If you had seen it you would have no doubt agreed with me, that this was impossible. There was fuck all left. Piles of black shit. Collapsed black ceilings, Stairs black and hanging off wall. And not much else. The roof was gone, save a few burnt beams, and the rain pissed through, making it all a smelly, soggy, pile of black ash. When I first arrived he was stood covered in black soot, arm bandaged, soaking wet carrying buckets of black shit, what was his belongings, and dumping them in a donated skip outside. Somehow still cracking jokes. Determined and full of life as usual. My second visit, a roofing company was on board, and a delivery of donated roof tiles turned up. It was me and Keithy Cammando’s job to get the tiles up the scaff to the roof. Killer job. The roofers were unbelievably fast, and the new roof was fitted in an afternoon. Drenched, sweaty and fucked, I got some chips and got the bus back home.

That was over a month ago. I went back last night. The upstairs had windows fitted, a new staircase was in. Scaffolding gone. Aside from that and the inside looking a little cleaner, it was still an absolute bomb site, with all downstairs windows and doors yet to bet fitted and nothing inside but burned walls. The rain poured down hard, it seems to never stop in Abertridwr. I located Dickie at his friends house up the road, and he invited me in. A fat dog with a squashed face and short legs yelped and squeaked and jumped all over me. Dickie’s arm had recovered well, but his hands were ground down in places to fleshy bloody cracked sores, and the rest of his skin was covered in the soot. He looked knackered. He was rebuilding his home from scratch with hardly any tools and relying on help from anyone who would offer it.

We had a cup of tea, and in true Dickie style, he had us laughing our arses off in no time. And yes, Dickie being Dickie, there was no insurance. He had bought the house in the 80s. Never insured it. Never contents or buildings insurance. Nothing. Basically everything he ever had was literally up in smoke. He had to give up his job to dedicate himself to the task at hand, and is relying on handouts from his local community. Completely mental. Never seen anything like it.

So, the Tribe, if it wasn’t for Dickie we wouldn’t have cut our teeth across the country in the early days of the band and gathered up the following and the scene which ensued. I’m not sure who knows Dickie, but I do know those who have met him, love him. He is a true gent and was a total father figure for Sicknote, always in the background making sure it all went off. A true giver, who deserves help. So I’m asking you to chip in. Even a single penny will help. There is nothing too small. The state he is in at the moment even a tin of Aldi beans is a true help. Help him out, a couple of pennies will do, and whatever we get together I will take up to him at the end of the month and make sure he’s got some money from the Tribe to help him move on from this complete nightmare.

If you donate, I will write your name, every single name, in a big card and put the money in the card. I’ll update every night or two (with screen shots of paypal) with how much we’ve got and a list of donators for that day (unless you’d rather stay anonymous). I plan to take the cash in a card up to him at the end of February, and hopefully by then we’ll have a lump. I think this is the way forward, I know he’d be embarrassed if he knew we were doing this. But it’s about time he received. His local community helped, and now it’s our turn! I thought I’d set this up and see what happens, if it fails, as I’m aware he wasn’t that well known and was never in people’s faces, then so be it. But even if it’s £50 I take up to him, I know it will help. He slipped into the conversation last night that the windows downstairs were about £200 each and he needed outer doors too. So my target is £500 to bring to him. If it’s less or mOre! then so be it.

Flakey has just set up a Facebook group to share ideas to help him out, here.

If anyone has any other ideas drop me a message, or just turn up at his house, and help him out! Abertridwr Street in Abertridwr (you can’t miss it). It’s been a few months and it’s a long way off from being liveable. Chuck a penny in and Help the legend that is Dickie Balboa here or press button below. THANK YOU!

THE KARMA OF DICKIE BALBOA

target £500 by March 1st 2016:………

RAISED SO FAR:

£ 1104.53

[updated daily]

DONATE!

People who have chipped in:

Nick Bray, Paul Bevan, Nick Walker, Joe Marvelly, Eleanor Burns, Stevie G, Jason Doghouse, Karl Parkinson, Johanna Hartwig, Matthew Downes, Rev & Flakey, Dom Atreides, Andy Thimbleberry, Victoria Leadbeater, Toby Evans, Joe Goddard, Julia Round, David Sheppard, Becci Barker, Theodore Ellinas, Gina Wathen, Lesely Haywood, AM Bligh, Mouse and Badger, Jason Phillips, Stuart Forsyth, Paul Hardy, David Newton-del-Campo, Luise Tomlins, Craig Lee, Mark Deer, Crocker, Stephen Cuky Cooke, Swag Minal, Hobaps and Major Triadz, Karl Baker, Sare Bear, Anna Doolan, John Garton, Ange n Mark, Annabel Tinks Neilson, Keith Harman, Rebecca Gould, Philip Crisp, Les Wilkins, Caroline Richards, Sian Richards, Jessika Burridge, La Laure, Lorraine Boyle, Fozzys, Heather Casey, Emma Money-Kyrle, Julie Kirk, Simon Betts, Joanne Taylor, Emma Barnes, Stephen Reed, Rowena Brook, Caroline Tomlinson, Joel Morris, Yin Hau, Janine Palmer, Michelle Nicholson, Maja Palser, Tina Price, Audrey Jackson, Megan Dugmore, Robin Weallans, Gavin Bolton, Timothy Barker, Julie Acorn, Paul Riddell, Geraint Short, ………..

thanks to every one of you.  we will put all your names in a card with the cash. x

here is Dickie’s living room:

12036906_1205529536127983_6985936484212556727_n.jpg

Standard
interviews, other people's shit

Vivian Velveteen

He learned to love his cancer.  He trusted his dark side. It became him. A ruthless bastard. He would do anything for success. He done the deal. He would discard his good nature for fame and women. This was the birth of Vivian Velveteen.

He disowned his past and here he was, loved by his masses. Hiding from his thoughts with the power of self-belief. The flawed hedonist. Could he run forever?

We met in a tiny cafe, under a railway bridge. The windows were dirty and barred up. ,A dark stocky figure in a trench coat stretched back over a chair. He cupped a mug of steaming black coffee with his left hand. the clock moved a tick to 3:23. I order myself a green tea and scraped a chair out to join Vivian. He hardly moves. It’s all been arranged with his management. I find the empty, dirty cafe disconcerting. I click record.

Hi, can i just begin?

Hello, begin.

Can you pin point the moment when you first thought, This Is It, it’s working, I’ve made it?

It’s difficult to pinpoint the moment, but i suppose i knew i was on the right path around 2013. I had given up trying and thought i had failed. I was feeling very lonely having just left The Sputums, totally lost. I decided in that moment that it was time. I had to commit. All had fallen apart, our son had died, and my life was in tatters. I left my wife shortly after as the pain seemed to drive us apart, rather than together. I sat in a darkened room and spoke with some being. I can’t really say what the being was, it may have been me. But all i know is that we agreed that no more would we look out for others. From now on it was a single minded push for glory. I stepped into the studio with Fillimore and a Xylophone. I let out my anger at the unfairness of the world. I denounced god. i took on nature head to head. It felt so right.

Can you see that you have caused controversy amongst the general public with the content of your lyrics?

I’m not out to be controversial. This whole year has been nothing but an exorcism of sorts for me. It’s very personal. It’s my journey to the darkside. Fuck God. I took on the Bad Shit that was being dealt to me, and said Fuck You. This expression is my own cathartic way of denouncing my previous life. If people are offended by my exorcism then fuck them. It’s not for them, it’s for me. If they happen to relate and can get inspired by my journey then come along. If not, then fuck off. You don’t know me.

Can you see how this can turn people off?

My job is to turn people off. Turn people off life. It’s bullshit, you don;t have to stand for it. Just say no.

It seems like you are playing God, have drugs played a significant part in this journey?

Drugs were a part of my life. When everything went wrong with The Sputums and my personal life, I decided to kick the habit. I am tee-total now. I have to be. To fight nature you need a straight head, one slip up and she will fuck you. I need to be on the ball.

You say fight nature, exactly how are you doing this?

I refuse to accept the hand that has been dealt to me. I am in control. 100%. In showing people how i do this, i inspire, people see it and they wanna piece. This turns into album sales and more importantly builds hope into people who denounce God. Nature is unfair, nothing makes sense, in taking control of your destiny you become the equalizer, You take what you want.

What was it like growing up as Vivian Langford?

That person died when my son died. I don’t remember much about him. Maybe that he was a pushover, always being nice, and being offended. Nothing worked in his life and he just bent over and took whatever came his way. His family were cold, hard working, frightened. The family suffered from a drunken father and a bitter Mother. They were not happy times.

Where did you get the name from?

I needed to change my name to signify the change in me. My personality was dead. I was anew. I left behind everything I knew. Including myself.

You are seen as a bit of a joke by some of the heavy metal scene, how do you respond to this?

Heavy Metal Scene? What scene? I don’t deal in genres. I deal in real emotions. I denounce all earthly associations and categories to hide behind. Present Tense is raw and real, and about change. If you don’t want to change then don’t comment, just carry on with your life with the rest of the dead fish. Everything is stagnant, including Metal or whatever. As soon as you categorise something, give it a name, label it, it’s dead. Metal died shortly after Black Sabbath accidentally invented it. Some smart alec named it and in doing so killed it. Why are they still writing about it in 2016? Like it’s something. We are against that. Present Tense, is just that. No wonder Metal Hammer don;t like it.

Is it true that you refuse to speak to anyone from your past?

I will give people the time of day if they fit into my vision of how things should be. I refuse to be vulnerable. Most people from my past used me. They used him up and wore him out. Out of bitter disappointment was born the new me. I raised from the ashes of the shit of my past. In order to become me I had to leave it all behind. Change is good. Not change for changes sake, but escaping the  hand you have been dealt. It’s not easy, but when you;’ve been kicked down onto your ass enough times you say fuck this.

What’s next for Present Tense?

Just repeat that question to yourself.

What is next for the band?

Learning to be more present. Knowing what we want. And refusing anything that does not fit in with our vision. A total disregard for trends and opinions. Total self belief and total control. We don’t want admiration, we want your soul.

Why do you want people’s soul, what can this do for you or your followers?

Well it’s simple really, fans can buy a ticket and go to watch Noel Gallagher and then go back to their job and wife they hate. If you are not happy we want you to kill your wife, your boss, your parents. Kill your life. Kill the past. Let it all go. Total destruction of life as we know it. Fuck fans. We want disciples. This shit is for real.

Standard
camino, creation, life

Switzerland Day 3: Abort Mission

I woke up late and had completely missed the concert, the whole reason why I had flew to Switzerland. I drew a large JP on my map. The bottom end of the curl of the J started at a very large church and it curled up across a river and up along it’s bank, where the arc of the P curled seemed to be the easterly suburbs of the town. It was cold and raining. I entered the church. It was very dark with long strips of stained glass allowing strips of dust to dance diagonally over me. I walked down the centre aisle, some woman happily filmed me coming down on her ipad. I walked past her cursing under my breath. I walked to the back of the church to behind the alter. Up some steps and into a small raised section that seemed to trap the sound of the organ magnificently.
The organ was a huge collection of pipes raised on a platform in the roof at the opposite end of the church. The guy playing it was obviously practicing and was stopping and starting. It sounded very solemn and he barley changed notes. The reverberating bass of the organ shook my cold body. I wondered why I was here. Was I running away from my problems again?

I found a door for the tower. I seen people hanging out of it before I entered and there must be an amazing view of the city up there.
“Groups only,” said a chap on a near by desk.
“But it’s only me,” I replied.
“We cant allow it sorry.”
“But I am traveling alone, can’t I go up?”
“I am sorry Sir, I can’t allow you to go alone, you will have to find someone to climb it with,” said the man, looking back down to his papers.
“Why is that?” I asked.
There was a silence. He slowly rolled his eyes up, without moving his head, until they met mine
“Suicide.”
The word seemed to echo into nothing as he held my stare. I smiled and walked back out into the freezing cold rain.

Around the back of the church a distressed dog barked like a demented bear from the tease of it’s young owner. I looked over a wall. Why am I here? Basel. Oh yeh, I came to see a concert, get some space from my life and try to make a decision on a job offer in France this summer. To keep following the JP that I had penned over my map I would have to cross the wild gushing brown river far below. I climb down a few hundred steps and met a small tugboat at the riverbank. I threw the grimacing man a couple of Francs as the boat rocked wildly, I think he would have been happy with a Fisherman’s Friend, or a cwtch. He invited me into the cabin where a lovely fire burner crackled and a single solitary candle flickered. A couple joined us and the guy, the older of the two, constantly took photos of her and him, with the captain, and together, and on the deck and holding the steering stick. People just love photos of themselves, what’s the point I grumbled to myself pushing my hobbit feet further under the burner.

The boat spat us out on the other side of the river, where I zipped up my puffa jacket (90s chic) and walked into the spray and mist of the relentless Swiss winter smudge. I followed the stem of my J up the river bank for about 20 minutes. I was getting pretty wet now. I got to the second bridge and crossed over it to complete the left hand side of the hat of my J. Symbolism. What’s the point? I got this from Bill Drummond. One of my heroes. Right now I was thinking the guy must be fucking nuts. I was in a very nasty part of town, called St Johann. My stage name. Serendipity. It was empty. Who in their right mind would be out in this weather. Blocks of flats. Graffiti. ‘Fuck the police.’ Piles of bin bags. I walked to the far left corner of where the J ended on my map and there was an Anatomy Museum. I needed to get dry.
A young lump hunched inside a kiosk, frantically whacking his smart phone with his fat hands, covered in a large black cloak. He sensed a wet figure up ahead and paused his Candyflaps. He looked up towards me, his triple chin wobbled to a stand still, an emo hairdo gripped onto his acned round face. Five crooked tiny yellow teeth poked through his lips as he began his customer service routine.

“Ein a Klein a Kleng a Eeeben Skwelch en Stein”
“Sorry, English?”
“We Close in 20 minutes, I am sorry.”
“I see. Could I just have a quick look around? I have come a long way and didn’t realise you closed so soon.”
He looked me up and down. He must have felt for the rain-soaked marmoset that dripped on his tiled floor.
“Ok, I won’t charge you but at 4pm you will have to leave,” and he unpaused his game and the 8 bit music beeped out once more as he began slapping the machine again.
“Thank you sir.”
I squeaked my way across the shiny floor into a sterile room filled with large glass tanks. Each tank was filled with jars, bottles and smaller tanks. Mainly these smaller glass containers seemed to be housing some pretty freaky looking things. Anatomy, yes. But real body parts, preserved in formaldahyde? Isn’t that what they call it. Many young kids no older than 6 or 7 were quizzically studying, like old professors, dismembered organs, penises, eyes, throats and brains. I felt a  little feint.

I turned around after casually gazing at an arsehole in a wedding ring box and was confronted with the top half of a bloke, floating in an old rectangular tank. He appeared to be of a similar build and age to me, but it was hard to gage this as his head was missing. I was only judging it by counting the wrinkles on his bent old penis that was pushed against the glass. His skin was yellowing and creased, like an out of date pickled artichoke. His entire front section from collarbone to belly button had been cut open and the skin discarded, so we could see all of his organs. I could follow his entire digestive tract and wondered what his last meal was, and then how he died and where his head, legs and front skin had gone. I walked on. Next was a lady’s vagina. Just there in a jar. It looked wrong and rotting. Next up was a large cabinet of fetuses. They were in ascending order of age by weeks. I worked along the cabinet looking at the development of the human in the womb. Two girls, smartly dressed, were taking selfies with some of the dead fetuses. I worked my way up to 10 weeks. The age of my baby when we decided to terminate him.

A hard lump formed in my chest. I couldn’t breathe. He had fingers. And tiny closed eyes.
I flashed back to the year 2000. We were in a dirty gloomy room with the rustle of leaves and a smattering of broken light outside. My partner had to take some medication and wait. I’m not sure if something was put up inside her too. I don’t remember, the whole thing now seems like a dream in my mind, a nightmare. The events of that afternoon have haunted me ever since. She was in pain. Lying in the bed, holding her stomach. The entire pregnancy and termination was a secret. No one knew, I was 23 and didn’t want a kid and didn’t want my parents to know. I felt like if I had a baby my life would have been over. I begged her not to have it. She said if I showed one incline to wanting it she would keep it. I was a selfish cunt. I couldn’t imagine fatherhood. I was young and stupid and scared out of my mind. I didn’t think of her or my baby that was nestled up inside her warm womb, awaiting to meet us. All I thought of was myself. And I wanted freedom. No responsibility. I didn’t want this. This wasn’t the plan. We were fuck ups! In debt. Always off our faces on wine or ecstasy. Arguing and fighting. I cried. And she decided not to have it. I don’t know why I reacted like this. And I have been trying to forgive myself ever since.
So I was pacing around the room as my beloved laid doubled up in pain. The nurse came in and checked her a few times. After a few hours we headed into the little bathroom on the side of the bedroom, I placed a cardboard pan over the toilet and held her hand. A tear streamed down her cheek. A small amount of watery yellow blood exerted from her into the pan followed by a click. Something small. We looked and there it was. Our son. Our son we had just killed. He was as tiny as a thumbnail. Helpless and unloved. Murdered though selfishness. The worst dad in the world. The shock of seeing the fetus made us gasp and hold our mouths in silent despair. This image will never leave me, and neither will the ever building guilt that stemmed from my actions. I am Pro Choice, but if we give young people the choice, they need to be fully aware of the emotional and psychological long term effects it may have on them. Saying that, I know some people who have had an abortion and never let it bother them ever again. Maybe I am just a hypersensitive freak.
I honestly don’t remember what happened next. I think we called someone. And she went back into the bed. I do remember what I said next though. And this is probably the worst thing anyone could have ever said. The most heartless thing. I sat next to her and held her hand, and genuinely believed I was being helpful.
“Okay, now that’s sorted all we have to do know is pay off our debt and we can be happy again.”
Now, re-read that. The words of a sociopath. A Heartless cunt? But in my mind all that I wanted was the happiness of my love, and us to be the most sorted couple in the world, I genuinely thought I was doing the right thing in trying to sort everything out this way. I was playing God. What the fuck was I thinking. I had always said I would never abort up to that point. But when the time had come. Crunch time. Your chance to stick to your principles and show the world your integrity, I crumbled. I was the weakest and the most hypocritical. I felt I hadn’t started living and so took a life and caused untold pain to a poor innocent beautiful 21 year old girl. I turned her into a murderer. For my benefit.
I said no. Fuck you nature. We doing things my way.

And now I was stood there looking at a similar fetus in a glass box. Fingers. I could see it was a human. I fought back the tears. The guilt enveloped me. I felt like a cunt. A murderer of my own blood, and not the protector I should have been. My throat now jammed with that sharp dry lump. Had I killed my baby all those years ago so I could have freedom to come to a city and draw my initials in a map and walk around in the cold rain? For what? Surely life is about connection with other humans. I felt so alone. I thought of my ex with her husband and three kids in her home now. I wondered what they were doing. All sat around hugging on the sofa. And I was here. On my own. Cold and surrounded by cold dead body parts. I had got what I wanted. Freedom. And it was ugly. I followed the jars of fetuses up to the new born baby. And then I left. I aborted my JP map mission and escaped the rain. A small cafe offered warmth and hot tea. I got my pad out and wrote. And wrote. And wrote. Escaping my thoughts. Or at least processing them was vital now. I felt on the edge. The more I wrote the better I felt. The pain of my younger self’s decisions slowly evaporated as the pages filled. I flew home that night. Fuck traveling. I’m too skint and too many things to sort. Need to stop running and face some things. My flat was a disaster. Shit everywhere. No self respect. I threw my wet bag into the corner and dived into my unmade bed.

Then the dream came back.

I had a repetitive dream between 2002 and 2005/6. It would be most nights back then. It was terrifying. It would not go away. It would involve a dead body. And me as potential murderer / accomplice or at least me hiding the details of the incident. The body was usually buried. And I knew where. And I knew what happened. My state of mind was in turmoil as I was trying to keep it a secret, and praying no one would find out. This dream must have happened well over a hundred times. I would wake up and for ten minutes I would try and work out what I was going to do about this situation, and I would be petrified, and slowly it would dawn on me that it wasn’t real and I would feel a huge relief that I wasn’t about to get imprisoned and then get on with my day.

Mother’s day one year I decided to cycle over to my Mam’s house about 15 or so miles away and had ended up on the grounds of the hospital while on my way, I had phoned my Ex, and I don’t remember why, we occasionally chatted over the years after we had split. We were chatting away, it may have been Mother’s Day in 2005 or 6 or something. I suddenly realised I was outside the window, directly where we had committed the offense. I dropped the phone. I cried. A man passing by asked if I was ok. This was in real life. I was in tears, I cycled to my Mam and fell onto the sofa and slipped into the dream, and this was the final time I dreamed that dream, it resolved itself…. The body had been found. I had been caught. The police had found a ring on a finger poking out of the muddy grass where we had buried the young woman (this time). The body had been exhumed and I had admitted my part in it and I was being arrested. I woke up and felt a huge sense of relief that I no longer needed to keep this secret. I never dreamed the dream again. Ten years passed.

It had been a weird weekend in Basel, Switzerland and I was tired and glad of my own bed. The heating clicked on, the noise of the traffic melted and the smelly quilt disappeared from beneath my nose. I was on the mountain behind the house I grew up in, in the Welsh valleys, rusty cold shovel in hand. The pylon wires buzzed above us and a single crow crossed the moody sky. Me and my big brother were patting down a mound of earth in the rain. And he was saying to me that no one can ever find out about this. This is our secret. Never ever say a word. Forever. That was it. The old dream, it was back after a decade. It didn’t resolve either. Same details, different scenario, as it always was. I woke up. I laid there. And stared at the ceiling. And I wondered how we were going to get away with it.

 

 

 

If you want to read more of my travels then grab a copy of my first book for a fiver, here. Thanks.
Standard
camino, life

Switzerland Day 2: Penile Dementia

A gentle knock, I opened my eyes and slowly remembered who I am and where I was. 7.30am. Basel. Jason. Oh, yeah. Shit.

I couldn’t have had more than two hours sleep. I had been worrying about a decision on a job offer in France for the summer. Sixteen weeks work for a basic wage, in the sun. I had tried to stave off the insomnia by reading Alan Mcgee’s book, and this had got me even more wound up. Here was a mouthy council estate bastard with an attitude, running amok in the music industry. He didn’t appear to have anything I didn’t, the only one difference being an unwavering self-belief (possibly fueled by cocaine). He surrounded himself with people he believed in and people who believed in him and he chased the dream. His balls were commendable. He would talk to any fucker and tell them what he wanted. I suppose it’s easy to ask for shit for your friends. He had failed with his own band, but was the master at managing his mates’ bands. This was the key difference – it’s very easy to let yourself down and be gentle on yourself – but would you fuck up your best mate’s career?
In becoming responsible for others the focus had shifted from himself and he was forced to fight in order to not look a cunt. And fight he did. Eventually ending up with the biggest band in the world on his label, all the major labels in a bidding war for his company and walking off with a cool 14 million.
And I’m contemplating going to France for a gardening job. For fuck sake, I had no bands or people to be responsible to, I was just coasting along. Was I running away from my dreams, my true vision. Going for the easy option? This shit had had my head spinning all night.
“Breakfast?” said Bram from behind the door.

I threw some clothes on and joined Bram at the dining table. He had served three perfectly poached eggs on toast and some chilled OJ. He opened the curtains of the living room to reveal a huge balcony poking out into a misty mountain. Rain fell upon the black fir tree tops that poked up through the mist, a feint outline of a large rocky mountain fell back into the grey sky. We quickly got dressed and headed out into the relentless rain. A short train and bus journey and we entered the Spa.

We headed into a bubbling hot outdoor pool that spread out into the misty day, surrounded by castle-type buildings and fir trees. We lazed around with lots of old people enjoy the lovely warm bubbles, somehow, despite the cold rain, our heads didn’t freeze over. After chatting for ages I was left wondering if Bram was looking for love, he seemed fairly desperate, a little lonely, I thought.

We walked down some wide steps into a huge cavernous paddling pool that nestled underground. It was lit beautifully, dim, red. People lazed like crocodiles in the water. Knees, noses and the occasional pot belly breaking the surface. We lay on our backs. The pool was full of a salt that enabled our bodies to float. It was impossible to sink. It was like being in space. No friction at all. We just floated there. As our ears entered the water our minds were met with beautiful violins. They were sending music under the water and it sounded gorgeous, water was an amazing conductor of sound, why had I never encountered this before. For half an hour or more we floated on a chorus of violins. Heaven must be like this.

On returning upstairs, we slipped through some plastic butcher flaps.
“Ok there’s no shorts allowed here,” said Bram. He  stood there completely naked pointing his Malaysian pepper shaker at me. He pushed his shorts into a small pigeon hole, and waddled off, his naked arse gyrating up the corridor.
“Um…………”
“Come on!”
I stumbled for a moment then whipped my shorts off and into the pigeon hole next to Bram’s and ran after him. We walked through a corridor. It was full of naked old men everywhere. I didn’t want to look but it was difficult, we were in the middle of a Swiss Cock Theme Park.
We entered a sauna. It was rammed. Two shelves of peni all around the walls. There was a little bit of room on the top shelf to our right. An old guy with a walrus moustache had his legs wide open on the shelf below. I made eye contact and politely pointed above him with my eyes. Then I looked down. It was shaped like a comedy cartoon bomb, thin at one end, long and tapering out to a really wide end, rounded off with a huge dense bell. He looked at my penis, lifted an eyebrow, and closed his legs as much as his huge dong would allow.
We squeezed past him with our button mushrooms and I’m sure he smirked as mine sailed past his temple. We sat down and took a look around, Cockfest. Jesus, I didn’t feel too comfortable, how the fuck did I end up here.
My Welsh hobbit penis was attracting a fair few glances and I couldn’t help looking at the  plethora of peckers around the room. Opposite torpedo cock was a shriveled member, an Alf’s nose; the Malaysian maggot was out of my sight line; there was one that looked like a butternut squash and a curly one up over in the far corner. I’m sure I had read in some girly magazine some time, that all penises were basically the same. No way oh say! Not here. This was Fraggle Cock. There was one with no shaft, just a bright pink round bellend, nothing else, like someone was blowing a tiny bubble with a hubba-bubba. There was one like a PG Tips pyramid tea bag. Next to him was an old long worn sock that looked like it had been filled with sprouts. Down on the shelf below to my right I spotted a woman. Phew. She was leaning back with her eyes closed. I noticed she had quite a mane of pubic hair, which also appeared in her armpits and shins. I looked around the room again, and it hit me. Every willy in the house had been shaved clean and splashed with Brut before being put on display here today. That is every willy except mine. I looked down at my hobbit muff. Holy shit. It was only me and that lady with any pubes. My penis was trying to climb back inside, shy just like it’s owner, it couldn’t handle all the attention. I closed my legs a bit, painfully aware of the glances my muff was getting. They didn’t think I was a German lady did they? A chubby hobbit like lady with a big hairy muff and some bumfluff between my adolescent tits? I tapped Bram and we rapidly bounced down the shelf and out of the sauna. I breathed a sigh of relief. Bram, with his gyrating spotty cheeks, led the way through another door and outside into the rain. I followed sheepishly.

I looked up ahead, there were several wooden huts. No doubt full of more bald Swiss genitals proudly on display, even Bram’s had been plucked, I noticed!
Bram sharply turned back, the cold and rain was too much for him and he headed back in doors. My feet were stinging on the cold concrete floor. The rain icy and painful hit every part of my body. What a strange sensation. I stood there naked in the rain. I don’t think I had ever done this, I started singing that Blue Pearl track from the nineties. Not realising while bopping along that I looked nothing like the Amazonian beauties who were gyrating in the video for it. More like a Moomin who’d lost his pants.

It was as if all the comedy cocks I had drawn in my French book in school had come to life and came to live in this park in Basel. Gaggles of peni stood in semi circles facing each other, arms folded, genitals almost kissing as they chatted away, nonchalantly. I guess it’s normal here, this is everyday life! Like popping down the shop for us. Some stray peni strolled past and others rested on benches or danced in the outdoor showers up ahead.
I stood there on my own, chubby and white, hair all over the place with a perplexed look in my eye, naked as the day I was born. This was the REAL ME. Bow down baldy cocked mother fuckers! She-Male Hobbit Muff has arrived!
Hiya!
I pulled open a large wooden door and stepped into the hottest room in the universe. I think it may have been build around the mouth of a volcano. I sat down next to a guy who was dripping pints of sweat into a large towel, while more pints dripped at his feet. A lady with massive round breasts lay on her back to the other side of me, with her knees up. Every once in a while she would open her glistening legs and let out a puff of Aroma D’Herbs Des Alpes. Sweat began to gather all over me. I was trying to work out what temperature my penis needed to be for it to look it’s normal flaccid self. Too cold it disappears and too hot it looks like a bacon frazzle made of putty. As I looked down it seemed to be coming back to life. Not only the temperature was helping, but also there was no one looking at him here. This was a small darkened room. And the fire in the middle obscured any peeping freaks.
The sweaty guy next to me started to rub himself all over. He started caressing his droopy wet thighs, then his long tits and then his droopy face. It was squelching and dripping all over the place. I couldn’t cope. I ran for the door. On contact with the freezing rain my nob disappeared instantly and I somehow was now sporting an erect foreskin. Work that one out. A nipple. If only i had some viagra i may have been able to make it 3d again. I stepped into an outdoor shower and was knocked back by a torrent of ice water. FUCK THIS!

I headed back for the door where Bram had disappeared.

I paused. There it was. In the flesh. Stretched over a bench, leaning back, chatting to an older lady, was the biggest cock I have ever seen in my entire life time. Now, let’s get one thing straight, I ain’t seen that many in my life, in the flesh, and I have no interest in them, it’s just in this place, I was surrounded!

Rhino Cock. His legs were wide open and his arms spread wide across the back of the bench. The woman stood next to him with her muff, hypnotised. They chatted away.
Imagine you got a hefty set of bolt cutters and cut about a metre off of an adult elephant’s trunk. This was something like it. Maybe God had made a mistake: somewhere out there in the African desert is a fully grown elephant with a tiny human penis for a trunk and all his mates are laughing at him and pointing.
But the dude on the bench didn’t give a fuck. He was looking pretty damn satisfied with his heffalump. He looked up at me. I was frozen. A cherub in the rain. I thought about peeing, you know, and pretending to be one of those fountains. Our eyes locked. On each other’s manhood. His lady friend brought her eye line up from his pecker and slowly locked on to mine. I waved! Then ran.
Through the door I came panting. Bram lay on a lounger reading a magazine, his bald shroom instantly calming me.

Later on I was so tired from my Spa experience and the insane bout of insomnia last night, that I managed to sleep though most of the concert that I had come to Switzerland to see. The first part was hours of a Punjabi chanting, I drifted off into genital-free dreams. Phew. I headed off to the Jean Tinguely museum with some friends I had met, finding that his Dance of Death installation was no longer on display. I felt it was part of the reason why I had come to Switzerland. A fire had broken out on the farm next door to Jean’s house many years ago, and all of the family – his neighbours – had died. Many months later Jean had collected the debris and left over farm machinery and made an animatronic sculpture of deathly figures, that danced. I was OK with it thought, too tired to worry. I looked at the final piece in the museum, in large writing ‘DO NOT TOUCH’, and below it a huge thick bent penis hung from the wall. Arrrrgh!
I dreamily snoozed through part two of the concert, which also entailed an hour lecture, in fucking German.
On climbing into my bed that night I collapsed into a deep empty sleep. Nothing. No worry, no thinking, just blackness. Tomorrow was another day of live music from Scelsi. I was looking forward to it. But for now I was happy to escape the peni.

 

if you like what you read, grab a copy of my 1st book for a fiver, here.

 

 

 

 

 

Standard
camino, life

Switzerland Day 1: A Bitter Distance

I had been ill since Boxing Day. I thought I had recovered three separate times, only for it to hit me again, like a rabbit punch from Muhammed Ali, and get me hanging off the ropes reaching for my dressing gown. I was depressed and needed a break.
Every flight to Europe seemed to be twenty quid on Easyjet so I decided to head out to a Festival celebrating the work of my favourite composer, Scelsi. The alarm had failed to wake me. It was 8.59am, the train to Bristol airport was 9.30 and I hadn’t packed and had hardly slept a blink.
Luckily, I had scored a bed for the weekend from the popular traveler’s website, Couchsurfers. I was going to stay with a chap who, he had said in his message, was lonely. A Malaysian geezer called Bram. As is customary in the Couchsurfing community, it would be considered good manners to cook a typical Welsh dish for Bram tonight. Crumpets? Cheese on toast? Lava-bread and Cockles? I’ll decide later, I thought.

I scraped half the bum-fluff off my face with an old blunt razor; forced the least smelly clothes off my bedroom floor into my little rucksack along with books, pads and pencils; drank a bowl of cold watery porridge and off to Switzerland I went. I had a fartful of money and a loose plan. I knew Sunday night I was not going to want to board that flight home, back to my boring life in Cardiff, in the dead of winter, and I might well not. My life had become like a sink of cold dirty dish water, blocked up with soggy lumps of old toast. I cleaned my teeth in the train bathroom, sat back and got stuck into some reading.

After all the rushing, I arrived at Bristol airport with lots of time to spare. I bought the Telegraph which included a free bottle of water.. The Telegraph is SHIT, and the comedy size pages make it impossible for my arms to hold it out far enough to read. Like a frustrated T-Rex I gave up, gathered up all the scattered and crumpled pages and binned the fucking lot in a big ball of paparazzi bollocks.

I threw all my money to a grumpy woman behind a counter. He hair was so tightly scraped back that the her fringe was on the back of her neck and her nose directly on the top of her head. She refused to crack a smile on her grumpy forehead, as she counted my measly amount of Swiss Francs back to me. Ripped off.
I was stripped to my pants by a five foot smiley security guard, good job I put some on this morning. I looked at the shelves of WH Smith. ‘Chav Punk Hobbit‘, my first and only book, needs to be here, I thought. People could read it on their flight, it’s the perfect book for that! Instead, I was confronted with every word Jon Ronson has ever written. Shelf upon shelf of his shit. Last night I had read a Guardian article he had written about his all-expenses-paid trip to Lapland for his son to meet Father Christmas. It made me want to rip my eyes out and it was launched against the far corner of my bedroom wall, joining the ever growing shit pile, along with Harry Potter and Dalai Lama. Jon’s ‘Psychopath Test’ was a little better but I was yet to read his big hit, ‘The Men Who Stare At Goats’, and after that overly cute, pompous Santa shit I was unlikely to bother. I feel a lot of his real life stories are so lamely hyped up to try and make his middle-class audience titter while sipping their champers reclined in their roomy first class seats. He seemed to have one strategy: fly around the world, on expenses, and interview people who are more interesting than he, and then make himself out to be the hilarious outside observer. It don’t cut it for me. What does he actually do? FUCK ALL. Shit, am I a little bitter? Yeah, probably. I don’t know how to get my book – that attempts to illicit the same effect but upon the chavs and benefit cheats in Ryanair cattle class – onto the shelves of WH Smith at Bristol Airport. That wild jealous beast was momentarily awoken, but in my progressing years, I had the skills in my armoury to tame the bastard. I simply walked off frothing at the mouth whispering expletives into mid air, looking like a slightly lost rabies victim.

Trundling along, the airport was dead, I got to my gate, no one there, no wonder those flights are so cheap this weekend, I thought, no one is flying! The lady at the desk hurried me along as, in fact, the plane was full and they were waiting for one more passenger. Me. The flight attendant asked me if I minded moving to a a full three seats to myself, I agree and stretch out. She then informs me that I am in control of the emergency exit. When this plane erupts into a ball of flames and we are sent screaming through the air in a vertical nose dive into the ocean, it’s my job to open the door, inflate the slide and save everybody. I politely agreed.

A few moments later a kid, in the arms of it’s mother, decided to kick the living shit out of the back of my seat, sending me into an epileptic sit down river dance. It then sang up and down it’s octaves until it tuned its shrieking scream of all screams into the exact frequency that my brain is programmed to launch my system into a state of frenzy. I clenched my teeth. I could taste blood.

I frantically tried to skim a copy of The Independent from my bag and ignore the fat toddler screaming beast thing that was now grabbing at the back of my head. I managed to get through an article that made the point that the ultimate key to happiness lies in the act of selfless, altruistic giving. It was a guarantee for instant happiness, everyone a winner.
The sun beat upon my face through the tiny dusty oblong window. The big wing poked out into the cloud-tiled heaven, written on the back it in large print, DO NOT WALK HERE. I sat back and opened my Alan McGee book. He told me how his dad beat the shit out of him at a young age and how he had nowhere to run. He told of this feeling of no escape had led to him being argumentative, hedonistic, self-destructive, provocative and occasionally down right nasty. I could relate with these feelings. I had been all of these, but surely it couldn’t have derived from the occasional wallop my dad would dish out when I was a kid? Or the slipper across the arse / head from Mam?

The kid screams now pierced my cranium and fingered my brain, and I somehow managed to quash my desire to drop kick it up the plane. The kid, that is, not my brain, although right now, either would do. Altruism, I thought, agreeing with the Independent article: selflessly relieving this poor Mum from her agony, would indeed make me instantly happier. Everyone’s a winner!

Sheet rain welcomed me to Basel. Colder than Wales. Great. I boarded a bus behind a bunch of giggly fat old Brits in panamas who looked like they were on their first ever holiday. I located a supermarket near central and panic bought a pile of ingredients.

Bram tapped me on the shoulder at the train station. He was short. had soft sad eyes and spoke very gently. We boarded a busy fast train and within minutes were entering his apartment. The place was huge. This was a far cry from the cat piss puddle on a pull out smelly sofa I had woken up on in France, with a stinking hangover, during my last Couchsurfing experience. This was pure luxury. He showed me around. Open plan, huge 3 bed apartment. HUGE. The floor was black slate and completely heated throughout. The central heating came through the floor, woah. The sofa was about the size of my bedroom back home. He showed me to my room. My own room! Spotless. Nothing was out of place. Except me.
We hung out in the living room and got to know each other. He had split with his wife just a few months previously and she had moved back to Malaysia, now he was alone in this massive place. He was a scientist, a researcher of the kidney. This seemed significant to our meeting somehow, but I couldn’t place my finger on why.
Then it was time. I am a little mental in the kitchen. And need to be left alone. And then the crazy mess I leave behind I expect to be cleaned by the person I have so expertly fed. I chopped and diced and tossed and stirred. Heat was sizzling and there was shit everywhere. 20 minutes later Bram took his seat, as I presented our meal. One omelette each, but this omelette was different. It was fucking huge, with rings of leak, and covered in grated goat’s cheese and then fluffed up like a souffle under the grill. In between us, a bowl of stir fried peppers, mushroom and green beans with soy sauce and some bread. I hadn’t brought the wine, not only was I currently tee total but also the food alone had smashed in half of my weekend budget! This city was more expensive than London.

Bram loved the food and we retired to the comedy size sofa. I could see him in the distance. He offered to take me to his spa in the morning, after I mentioned my love of swimming. I was falling asleep. I got off to bed after a lovely hot shower and crisp clean towels. I slotted my clean body between the beautiful blankets and then drifted off into a paranoic state of worry and  stayed awake all night.

Standard