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I'm such a shit.

Also my favourite ever song is Murder She Wrote by Chaka Demus and Pliers.

Murder she wrote, muh, muh, muh, murder she wrote....

Classic.

If you'd like to tell me how much my stories make you hate me then feel free. And now you can just message me without all that email malarkey.

Cooooooo, the wonders of t'interweb.

Update: I have returned. Woooo!

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» Shame

Paying The Bill
My most shameful moment, without a shadow of a doubt, occurred roughly ten years ago. To cut a massive story slightly shorter, growing up I was never really interested in being fashionable and cool. Whenever I hung around with my mates as soon as they started listening to trendy underground music I'd get bored and wander off. This is how I first started hanging around with John, one of my friend's younger brothers. We had an odd relationship, he looked up to me because I was older and I was fiercely protective over him because he was younger. Between us something just clicked, we became inseparable. He was the closest friend I'll ever have. When I say fiercely protective I mean way past patronising and bordering on absurd. I'd tell him off if he picked up something sharp and several times, when he left my house, I'd follow him secretly to make sure nothing happened to him on his way home. At the time I had no idea why I acted so paranoid. Teenagers do weird things; blame it on hormones.

Looking back, it was almost as if I was prophetically setting myself up for a fall.

Just after I turned 16 and he 14 I was hanging around with him just outside his house one morning when two girls turned up he knew. I couldn't stand them but luckily another of my mates just happened to walk past. I quickly made my excuses and ditched John and the girls, walking home with my friend pretty relieved to have escaped. The shame that surrounds this one act will haunt me for the rest of my days. I couldn't have been more than a hundred yards down the road when John started swinging on the trees outside his house. Unluckily I'd already rounded a corner, otherwise I would have seen what he was doing and stopped him. Yes I was that protective and that patronising. But like I said I was around the corner. I was probably nearly home when John jumped out of the tree, landed on his feet and overbalanced. I was probably in my house when his mother was taking him to hospital after he'd fallen over backwards, smashed his head on the concrete and fractured his skull. I got a phone call shortly afterwards to tell me what happened. I cursed myself for ditching him, knowing my being selfish had put him in hospital. At least in a couple of days he'd by fine though, no major damage done and the opportunity to joke that he was now 'brain damaged mong boy'.

Ha.

It was later on that I was out doing some errands that I walked past John's house. One of the girls from earlier ran past me, away from the house, crying. I knew something serious had happened but such was the guilt and shame of it being my fault I couldn't bring myself to knock on the door. Instead I went home and sat alone, crying my eyes out and waiting for the phone call. I remember the weather had been getting worse all day and now there was a storm building. I watched the rain streaking down the window and waited. It only took an hour. His brother rang me to tell me that John was in a bad way. A blood clot had formed on his brain and he'd been rushed to theatre. He didn't know if his brother would live or die. If he lived he might be brain damaged.

It wasn't so funny now.

One of our mutual friends knew how close I was to him and turned up almost immediately to try and take my mind of it. Just to show my age; we spent an hour playing Street Fighter II (in between taking breaks to watch the pretty storm). For every fight, no matter which characters we picked, he would be brain damage and blood clots and I would be hospitals and doctors. I beat him fifty times in a row; he never came close to winning. I'd like to think he didn't let me win but I suppose I'll never know. Eventually he had to go and I was again left with my fear and worry. Waiting for the call I wandered downstairs to sit with my parents, hoping they would ease my terror. Stupid me. Time for someone else's shame. My mother asked me why I looked upset, despite knowing full well that John was fighting for his life that very moment. I reminded her in no uncertain terms. My father responded to this by yelling at me that I couldn't be that worried as I'd been 'upstairs carrying on with your mate for an hour'. 'I heard you laughing!' he finished accusingly. I can't remember the string of expletives that flowed from my mouth then but I do remember it being quite impressive for a sixteen year old. My mother stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind her. Seconds later I followed, tears welling, and stumbled blindly outside into the storm.

People who are lucky enough have one moment of their lives that they can look back on and say that was when I grew up, that was when I became a man, that was my rite of passage. That was mine. With that simple exchange my entire childhood fell apart before my eyes and I saw my family for the stupid, self-centered, emotion cripples they were and still are. I finally understood. The reason I'd been so close to John, so ridiculously protective was because he was my family. He was like my little brother, my son even. I was trying to be, to him, what my parents never were to me. John was the one that was there to put an arm round me when I needed it, to cheer me up when I was down, not them. He was the person I wanted to be around me. Not them.

I stood outside under that raging storm for nearly an hour, heartbroken that my revelation had come too late. It seemed to be reaching a crescendo directly over my house. The lightning was blinding and the thunder deafening. The rain lashed down hard enough to sting my eyes; the water mixing with my constant tears. I never noticed any of it. It was the eerie silence that followed a particularly loud thunderclap that made me realise I'd been shouting as I looked up at that dark sky. I'm not sure I really believed in God but I knew that other people did and that seemed to be enough. I'd gotten angry with him; screamed that I would kill myself just so I could turn up at the pearly gates with a sledgehammer and exact revenge. Then I'd begged his forgiveness. I'd pleaded with him, told him I'd do anything he wanted, told him he could have me if he let John live. There was no price I wouldn't pay. After an hour or so I'd cried all my tears and exhausted myself so I just sat down there, in the rain, and waited.

John died three times during the operation. Every time they just managed to bring him back. He kept fighting and miraculously held on throughout. It took him over a year to fully recover and I spent nearly the whole time with tears of elation in my eyes as I watched him fighting back. Slowly regaining the ability to think, then speak and finally walk again. He's 24 now and still the closest friend I'll ever have. He's sitting near me as I write this occasionally calling me a soppy get and throwing things at me. There's rarely a day goes by when he doesn't make me laugh and there's rarely a day goes by when I can resist remembering that I nearly lost him and being a really soppy get and telling him how much he means to me. Sometimes, when the fear returns suddenly and overcomes me I'll be a really, REALLY soppy get and I'll tell him I love him and grab him in a giant bear hug (you should see his face when I do it in public!)

I still don't really believe in God but I know that I owe someone, somewhere, big time. The payback makes life kinda fun. I got really ill shortly afterwards and still haven't fully recovered but every time I think about it I just smile. It's just payback to whoever I owe for this massive favour. Every time something bad happens; when I lose something, when I get passed over for promotion in my shitty dead end job, when expensive things get broken, when I stub my damn toe the shrieks of pain and anguish are always quickly replaced by grinning and laughing.

I'm just paying the bill. And it's worth every single fucking penny.
(Sat 26th Nov 2005, 10:13, More)

» The passive-aggressive guilt trip

Don't trouble yourselves clicking 'I Like This!'
I've decided I don't want to win this week's question so don't bother voting for me. Sure it would be nice and all but my priorities have all changed since our Johnny was killed in that underwater explosion. And what with that coming on the heels of my entire family being killed in the yachting/floating zoo accident where Grandma was murdered by an enraged giraffe. Sure, winning this week would give me a reason to keep living, but that's fine, you just go on about your lives, don't worry about me.

P.S. On an unrelated matter, does anyone have a noose I can borrow?
(Thu 13th Oct 2005, 10:05, More)

» This book changed my life

The Book Of Job
When I was quite young we used to live next door to a family whose daughter volunteered at a local Sunday school, so it was only natural that me and my brother would go along to give my parents an hour of peace every weekend. We all happily joined in the brainwashing because we got free orange juice and got to draw pictures, mostly of Jesus obviously. In exchange all we had to do was listen to bible stories and be gently conditioned with the occasional "good boy!" when we said we agreed with it all. Everything proceeded happily until one day the leader made the mistake of reading us The Book Of Job.

For those of you not familiar with this particular book of the old testament I'll quickly and roughly paraphrase. Job is one of God's most loyal and pure believers. One day Satan wanders up to God and bets him that if he punishes Job unfairly he'll renounce God. God agrees to the bet but says the devil can't touch Job himself, just those around him. So God watches as the devil slaughters Job's cattle and takes away his wife and children and tells him they've all been killed. When Job doesn't renounce God Satan bets him that if he can punish Job directly he definitely will. God agrees and watches as the devil smites him with boils leaving him grief stricken and in constant agony. Three people visit Job and they explain to him that he must be being punished for his sins. Unable to think of anything he can repent for Job can only wait, mourning the loss of his family and living in constant suffering until Satan admits to losing the bet. Having never renounced God, Job's sanctimonious visitors are punished, his boils are cured, his wife, children and cattle are returned (in some interpretations he's given the cattle of his sanctimonious friends and, bizzarely, his children are doubled in number and made wealthy) and he get's to "live and die in happiness".

The Sunday school leader handed out the orange juice and the crayons as he talked about how God will sometimes test people but if we keep our faith in Him we'll be rewarded. Everyone nodded and agreed and got on with drawing pictures of Job's suffering and I just sat there dumbfounded. This God, this 'man of love' sat back and watched one of his most faithful tortured, mocked, humiliated and nearly destroyed to prove a fucking point? He listened to Job being told his family had all been killed to win a bet? Forget dumbfounded, I was furious. It didn't take long for the leader to notice that one six year old boy wasn't happily colouring like the rest but was, instead, fighting back the tears. He sat down with me and tried to reason with me or, as actually happens a lot with the religous, repeated his views in exactly the same way hoping that this time I'd agree with them. When he realised that this wasn't going to work he told me to go home and think about it and see how I felt next week.

I did. I went home and thought about it. Thought about it in ways that six year olds probably very rarely do; I started questioning it. All of it. He got his answer the next week when I didn't turn up. Tantrums, tears, begging and pleading with my parents let them know there was no way I'd go back there. I remember crying with relief when my parents said I didn't have to go, didn't have to listen to any more of that horror and pain somehow dressed up in a fake message of love and hope. Skip forward ten years and I became friends with a kid called Peter. He was a friend of a friend in a different year at school so I knew little about him until we started hanging out together. It was then that I learnt two things; Peter was very religious and his Dad was a local vicar.

Inevitably the question of religious beliefs eventually came up and sparked an amazing two years of conversation and debate. His father turned out to be one of the most outstandingly opened minded religious people in existence. He never tried to preach to those that didn't want to hear it and actually openly admitted to not believing in everything The Bible had to say. His raison d'etre seemed to be that the message of love and hope that Christianity in it's entirety desperately tried but failed to encapsulate was such a beautiful ideal that it was worth compromising to preach it. It wasn't something to live by it was something to always aspire to. And he was right.

So right I really wish I'd met him.

See, our views were so diametrically opposed, or so I believed to begin with, I never trusted myself to talk to him directly for fear of violent arguements. Instead, with Peter telling his father what I was saying and then telling me what his father had said in return we, unbelievably, conducted a two year theology debate through his son. It was a testament to his open-mindedness that not once did he try and stop me despite knowing that I was slowly eroding his son's faith. He was happy to know that someone was challenging his beliefs knowing that more than one opinion would help his son find his own way. By the end of the two years I held this man I'd never met in such high estimation it was unbelievable. My opinion on the inherent evil nature of God never wavered but I think given more time and more debate it may have done. Severely. I couldn't stop thinking that maybe if he had been my Sunday school leader things could have turned out very differently. Not in a blind belief way but in a well thought out, rational longing for an ideal rather than a fairy tale hero way. His willingness to not believe oddly made his belief all the stronger.

After a while, maybe for a bet, maybe to prove a point and stroke his ego some more, God decided to intervene. Peter's father developed terminal stomach and bowel cancer. That was his reward for being loving, caring, understanding and downright inspirational to family, friends and strangers alike. In one of those weird coincidences it was around the time BBC Three was promo'ing that Vic and Bob Catterick series which they did using a song that got stuck in my head so much I downloaded it. It was called The Sire of Sorrow by Joni Mitchell and, despite being pretty overblown, it really moved me. It wasn't until I heard the full version that I realised it was a musical interpretation of The Book Of Job. For the next few months I saw Peter pretty regularly. We talked about religion (or Peter's lack of it these days), his father, listened to the song a few times and had debates like we used to. Sometimes it became too much for him and I just held him while he cried, knowing that his father was enduring untold suffering, dying in pain and, due to the type of cancer, being robbed of his dignity as he did so. I kept thinking 'God is love' and the fury of that six year old me would return, intensified.

When Peter's father finally succumbed to the cancer his family sorted through his stuff and Peter brought me a book they'd found. It's from the early 1800's and is sitting in the drawer next to me. I've never touched it and never will except maybe one day to hand it back if I think he needs it. All I have to do is look at that book and I'm filled with such righteous anger that there's nothing I can't or won't do to step into the lives of the people I love to help them in any way I can. The way that, up until the age of six, I believed God would always do.

It's The Book Of Job.
(Fri 16th May 2008, 9:55, More)

» How nerdy are you?

The Police Have No Sense Of Humour
Not me but a nice young policeman who came to my house to take a statement after me and a couple of mates had been jumped. On the way back from the pub we'd been discussing when we were going to go see The Phantom Menace, which had just come out, when we were attacked by these drunken guys. One of my mates got a key stabbed in the back of his head so the police became involved. Anyway, I gave him my statement and he was about to leave, we were standing at my front door, me smoking, him waiting for his partner to turn up in the squad car. As with all dealings with the police it was mildly terrifying in case they suddenly start asking about the hidden folder called 'Barely Legal' on your hard drive. Or why a lot of your CD's and DVD's have shoddy covers and the title drawn on in felt tip.
"So did you get to see the new Star Wars film then?" He asked amiably enough.
"Yeah, bit rubbish really." I answered.
"Yeah." He agreed sadly then quickly looked around to see if anyone was in hearing distance before saying: "I play Star Wars role play."
"Oh?" I said, having no clue what the proper response to such a statement is.
"Yeah, I don't tell the lads at the station though obviously."
I laughed and then a few awkward seconds of silence passed.
"I'm a jedi!" He suddenly said proudly.
"Cool." I lied. "Everyone likes lightsabers." I added, desperately wanting his partner to turn up.
"Oooh." He said, sucking in his breath, suddenly very serious. "Bit of a touchy subject at the moment."
"Why?"
"Well you have to play for ages before you get your first lightsaber. I'd just got mine and then it got destroyed when the Death Star blew up." He said before turning and staring towards the (single) sun wistfully.
Having no clue how to respond to his anguish and hepped up on nerves at the situation I tutted loudly, shook my fist and said "Oooh those bloody rebels!"

Honest to god, from the look on his face I thought he was going to arrest me.
(Thu 6th Mar 2008, 11:27, More)

» Going Too Far

Scarring The Children
A close friend of mine is a forty odd mother of three boys (aged 7-13) and I've always enjoyed listening to her rather dubious parenting methods (this may be based on a feeling of nostalgia and camaraderie being that at the age of four I was a biter, which my mother corrected by waiting until I bit her and then turning round and biting me so hard she drew blood. It worked incidentally, but thats another story). Anyway, the eldest had started tormenting the youngest by scaring him repeatedly. He'd hid behind the curtains in his room and jumped out screaming at him as soon as he'd got settled in bed, resulting in a rather damp mattress. He'd curled himself up inside a cupboard and waited nearly an hour for his brother to open it so he could jump out screaming at him, resulting in his brother runnning away so madly in panic that he fell down the stairs and narrowly avoided braining himself on a radiator. Finally, and maybe this was going too far, after their mother had allowed them to watch Psycho, later in the day the poor little youngster had gone to the toilet and almost as soon as he'd sat down the shower curtain flew open revealing his brother wearing one of his mother's dresses, a shower cap and brandishing a kitchen knife. Apparently a seven year old spazzing out and running away mid-toilet usage produces many new and interesting bodily function related stains that you wouldn't believe.

When the mother told the eldest to apologise the only response she got was huge disappointment that the youngest wasn't getting in the shower when it happened just so it could be like the film. With the youngest now wandering around in permanent shellshock, too afraid to open cupboards, go to the toilet on his own and now sleeping with his parents every night, their mother decided some serious parenting was required. So, what did she do? Grounding? No pocket money? Naughty step? Good old fashioned kicking? Of course not. Being parent of the year, she let the eldest go to bed whenever he wanted. So she waited until he was engrossed in a late night computer game marathon. She turned all the lights off in the house and sat for half an hour in the dark in the living room waiting until she heard him go to the bathroom, knowing he'd see the darkness and presume the rest of the family had turned in for the night. Once this was achieved she began her mission.

This forty odd year old PARENT commenced commando crawling on her stomach from the front room, up the stairs and towards his bedroom. She told me it took her two hours to complete her mission as she wanted to remain totally quiet as she inched her way up the stairs. Including having to stop for ten minutes and bury her face in the carpet to avoid detection as he went for a shit. She gradually made it to his bedroom and opened the door a centimetre or so every thirty seconds in case he looked round. Door opened, she could just say see him sitting on his bed, back to her, completely engrossed in his games, so she continued edging towards him until finally she was under his bed, staring at the back of his legs. With a scream of 'GOTCHA' in a suitably low, growly voice she grabbed the back of his ankles as hard as she could. Apparently this resulted in several things all happening at once. The 13 year old screamed like a girl, jumped up, wet himself, then tried to run away without realising someone was holding his ankles, falling forwards and knocking himself out as his head hit the floor.

Going too far? Personally I think him coming to, still wailing, five minutes later to find his mother standing over him, the lights now on howling with laughter at him might have just been pushing it. I think she realised this when, for the next week, she and her husband shared their bed with both the youngest and the eldest. "He never did it again though!" She told me triumphantly at the end of her story. "Funny that." Was all I could think of to say....
(Sat 11th Nov 2006, 9:18, More)
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