Gravy Monster update

Gravy Monster update

It’s a bed he thought not the best bed but still a bed. First time he’d woke up in a bed in a long time. Granted the circumstances were far from ideal but it was a comfortable sleep. It definitely beats a cold cell and a thin blue jizz stained sleeping mat. Or, a kick from a drunken lout whilst lying on freezing cardboard, sleeping bag soaked in kebab and piss in a shop doorway.

He had a window, noticed no curtain rail for obvious reasons but the crisp autumn sun cracked the sullen darkness of the room and he returned his head to the pillow. His mouth and neck still raw from the piping hot gravy and beans he had lathered them in. A dressing and antiseptic cream treating the wound, again he thought it could be worse, it could always be worse. The room was neutral, hazard free and naked walls surrounded him. He was content. He couldn’t remember the last time he was content and well rested having eaten the previous day. Someone was definitely looking down on him, looking down on him favourably. Superman was a more realistic answer than god he thought.

There were voices down the hall outside his bedroom door, they sounded real. The door was about three metres from his bed, a wooden door, heavy duty with a circular strengthened window through which the nurses could see inside. As he listened to what sounded like the rattling of a trolley being driven down the narrow corridor he drifted off again.

When he woke the bed sheets were damp from his sweat, it had started. The cravings for the brown, the thoughts of how he ended up here started being clouded and swallowed by the thirst. He started fantasising about holding a cup of gravy granules, access to a kettle. Roast beef. Yorkshire puddings. Pie. Chips. All smothered in sweet sweet gravy. The transformation was underway, the calm figure snoozing solemnly under the white sheets. He was being replaced again. Nervous energy charged through his limbs like greyhounds released from their traps, a frenzy of activity in pursuit of the bunny. Could he put a muzzle on it? Could he bollocks. Swinging his feet out of the iron framed bed he made a line for the door in his pyjama bottoms and white t shirt, both two sizes too big for him.

He could smell burnt toast as he opened the door to the corridor and followed his nose. If there was going to be any gravy here it was going to be in the vicinity of the kitchen. As he approached the kitchen door he could see two shadows extinguishing themselves from the entrance. This was going to have to done the hard way and interact to some extent with others. Walking with the brisk staccato steps of someone carrying a piano he tried impossibly to peer through the walls as he approached the kitchen to count those that might stand between him and a tub of the brown stuff. He was threadbare physically but fearless and ready to fight to get his fix. His tracks suddenly stopped by a voice from behind him,

“Graham, slow down there’s plenty for everyone.”

He turned to see a psychiatric nurse smiling at him. He hadn’t heard his name in what felt like a decade.

“Who told you that?”

“What? Your name?”

“Yeah.”

“We got it from one of the police officers who brought you in last night.”

“Who knows me? Who warrit?”

“Try and stay calm you’re safe in here, the officer’s name was PC Fletcher he said he had met you before when you used to live in Doncaster town centre.”

“Never heard o’him sounds like a rate cock socket.”

“Would you like some breakfast? Some toast maybe?”

“Shove your toast up‘yer arse you daft slag, am after some gravy.”

With this reply he turned and continued on his mission to the cupboards of the kitchen. In the kitchen he wasn’t able to forage for the gravy. Instead the storage was through in a smaller room where the food and cups of tea were being prepared visible through a small open window. The cupboard hole in the wall separated the other patients all sat solemnly eating their toast and jam from the two ladies toasting and stirring. He approached the hole.

“Morning son, what can I get you? Nice cuppa?”

“I want gravy.”

“Can’t help you there love, you can have a cup of tea and some toast if you want though instead?”

He wasn’t o be deterred by the friendly nurses offer, instead of taking her up he climbed into an opening in the wall. The nurse a little alarmed but clearly not seeing this type of behaviour for the first time hit the mobile alarm all staff carried with them. Within thirty seconds two more nurses arrived at the locked door of the kitchen were let in. Graham meanwhile had picked up a blunt bread knife and began wielding it whilst screaming and demanding gravy from the two women in the kitchen. They were used to erratic behaviour but this was a new one for the two of them. As the first nurse opened the main door to the kitchen Graham had started ransacking the contents of two cupboards that were unlocked. As he was in full gravy mode two male nurses burst on to the scene to restore some order. The sun never sets on a psychiatric unit.

“Graham put the knife down; we don’t want to have to get the police involved do we?” Said Tom an avid Wednesday fan, the ink owl on his upper arm sneaking a peak at the latest trouble maker,

“Tell us where you keep it an’a will?” Implored Graham.

“Graham we don’t have any gravy, listen are you going to put the knife down?” With this second request Graham erupted.

“Me names Gravy you bastards!”

He had turned from the cupboard and was facing the two male nurses with the other two female nurses stood beside them – reinforcements. Graham crossed the line and lunged towards one of the female nurses and was quickly tackled and restrained face down on the kitchen floor. It hurts having your face pressed into the tiled floor.

What happened next was text book following a violent outburst. Graham was removed from the voluntary wing of the psychiatric hospital and rehoused in the newly built arm of the centre where those experiencing the more acute episodes resided temporarily. First he made a visit to the safe room with a complimentary injection into his leg to calm him down. What was in the syringe was anyone’s guess but considering he’d only been up an hour he dosed for a good 6 more laid on yet another blue plastic mat, sticky.

After stirring away from a rather pleasant dream he acclimatised to his surroundings. A nurse had to keep guard, monitoring movement and ensuring the patient didn’t swallow their tongue after receiving their latest cocktail of drugs. I guess the nursing equivalent of data entry. Graham stood up swaying a little, a 6 pint sway. He clocked the nurse straight away; she was young having only recently started at St Cath’s and Graham was the first person she had seen sedated, it made her feel a little uneasy but she was assured it was in their best interests.

“Nah then love, you gonna lerruz out am busting for a piss?”

“You’ll be out soon please try and be patient.”

“Patient, av bin in’ere all fucking day wi nowt to do am gonna piss me sen.”

“Graham there is a bottle in the corner if you need to go to the toilet, please use that.”

“Am not a fuckin animal, I wanna piss in a bog, lerruz out you stupid rug muncher!”

This wasn’t the first insult Emily had heard in her first three months, tame by comparison to most of them. The first time she received a tirade of abuse had her questioning her career choice but already her skin was thickening like a cooling pan of gravy. Her boyfriend was concerned when she mentioned she wanted to go into nursing specifically psychiatric nursing. To help others who had been through something similar to her sister. The nurses and doctors saved Frankie and she wanted to do something positive having nearly lost her to anorexia.

It didn’t mean he shouldn’t be concerned just because she had a good reason. He knew what an emotional and mental examination every shift was going to be working with the vulnerable, the catatonic, the schizophrenic, the manic and the psychotic. How does any person cope with that without being affected? Selfishly he didn’t want her to change; he fell in love with her when they met at university in Sheffield back in 2012. Version 1.0. He didn’t like the constant revisions.

He never voiced his concern at the pathetic remuneration package for all this personality re-aligning either. Instead he made her a cup of tea when she arrived back after her night shift on that Sunday morning, three hours late, no overtime. Yet another depressed patient had figured out how to get out without their consultants consent. The police statements, the questions the lack of sleep the heart wrenching image burned on to her conscience…another beautiful person hanging, lifeless. The thought of his mother finding out later that day just before she was due to come in and visit him made her feel sick. He listened. Tea wouldn’t do it. Nor would a 1% pay rise. Christ you could double her salary without making this worth it. He knew she was doing it for the right reasons but that didn’t change the fact that he was losing her one shift at a time.

“Graham please be patient, Dr Alikhan will be with you shortly.”

“Yeah I heard you, you daft cow. Please be patient waaa waaa waa. Am the gate keeper waaa waaa waa. Piss in me bottle waaa waaa waaa. Suck me tits Gravy waaa waaa waaa” He mimicked Emily making himself smile, she also struggled to keep a straight face as he continued his childish yet entertaining caged performance. The drugs had definitely worn off.

Graham calmed down and sat back on his mat on the floor. The door opened and in walked Dr Alikhan. His wait was over so was Dr Alikhan’s, a short stout Asian man with dark rings below his eyes. Emily thought either a keen drinking hobby or insomnia or both, she didn’t like him. He didn’t care, years of this had desensitised him. Made him unresponsive to the mental torture endured by many of his patients. He spoke briefly with Emily before cautiously opening the safe room and walking through the doorway before placing a NHS standard issue blue chair in front of Graham. Another nurse had joined Emily and they stood at the door.

“Hi Graham, I’m Dr Alikhan I need to ask you a few questions.”

“Fucksake av bin in ere all day can’t you just lerruz tek a piss?” Graham replied quickly.

“It will only take a couple of moments can you do that for me?”

“You’ve done well for your sen swimming over ere and that mekkin them believe youra quack but ur just a daft paki, now get out of me way am off for a piss.”

Graham stood up and started walking towards the door Emily and her colleague Ian stepped into the room. Graham stopped abruptly.

“Look you bunch of cunts a need a piss what dunt you get? Fine fuck yer!”

He turned away from the nurses with Dr Alikhan’s back to him on the sterile chair and quickly started to relieve himself on the worn suit jacket of the psychiatric consultant. Before long he realised what was going on and shot up out of his chair like he had been given a jab with a cattle prod. Disgusted. He walked towards the door and ushered the nurses out of the entrance and closed the door behind him. Graham continued to piss on the chair and screamed,

“Bring me some fucking brown an all you twats!”

Emily looked forward to her tea break and updating the rest of the overworked and underpaid.

Licence and registration

Licence and registration

 

As I sit impassively staring out of the window of Café Nero on my lunch, I find my mind wandering following a comprehensive tour of the news articles on my phone. I admit I gorged on The Guardian’s plate of reasonably written dishes, picked at a couple of the misguided morsels thrown up by the red tops and then I endured a nauseating five minutes, force feeding myself drivel from The Daily Mail. Bloody Piers Morgan at it again the scamp, he normally reduces women to tears with his clothes off. I’m not trying to be impartial; I’m simply trying to understand the other side of the coin. New Year’s resolution and all that.  It won’t last long, far too fucking hard.

Meryl Streep is over rated. Yes Donald, she would be to you without the capacity to appreciate someone with a discernible talent. No, this isn’t going to be another rant about Captain Fuckstick as he embarks on his maiden voyage at the helm of USS Oblivion. I am resisting the urge to berate him, instead my thoughts come as I observe my comrades going about their day hunting sausage rolls and gathering delights from Poundland.

Here we see the lesser spotted Donny Soldier rolling a cigarette after grazing on a sausage and bean bake. As he tightens the paper around the lush amber leaf notice the distinctive markings on his forearm. These are here to remind him of the name of his offspring, his date of birth and the bright coloration serves to attract the female of the species, he is man. He is virile. Or is that vile?

How are there so many people about? I know move with the times, not everyone has a 9 to 5. They might work nights. They might work a varied shift pattern. They might only work weekends. They might work in front of a webcam. Woof. I can’t get away from overwhelming urge to categorise. Post work. At work. Can’t work. Won’t work.

Post work. Fair, if they’re retired they’re killing time perusing the aisles of Doncaster’s high street stores, gets them out of the house I suppose.

At work. They are having an amble through town to get them away from their desk maybe a late or early lunch, also completely fair.

Brings me onto can’t work. They are physically unable to work because of an illness or disability. Tricky one this just because you can get out the house and go shopping doesn’t mean you are able to work. I mean in most cases you think it would but maybe they’re struggling with depression, anxiety, debilitating arthritis, chronic back pain or could it simply be a case of ergophobia? Don’t generalise, not everyone on disability benefit has a fear of work. No. But it has to be a proportion doesn’t it? I mean look at them all, smoking, vaping, supping a can of Monster, eating a steak bake and buying sales shit they don’t need on a weekday afternoon.

Finally we have the won’t work bunch. Ah if only it was a bunch. A bunch of bananas is what, five? This is a bloody epidemic by those proportions. These people don’t want to work, I know this. Why don’t they want to work? Are they starving? No, clearly not. Are they cold and exposed? Far from it, they have a delightful two up two down council house and a free bus pass. Would they rather spend their day in front of a TV than in a warehouse for a few more quid? Damn straight wouldn’t you? Are they skint? Well they have a smart phone; no doubt a reasonably sized flat screen TV, they’re donning a rather resplendent tracksuit and completing the look with a decent pair of Nike Air Huarache. Not skint then by their own admission.

Looking at the scene in front of me a little more objectively I think about the phrase that all men are created equal. I side with Charles Darwin on this one. Are they bollocks. There is no way I can believe that some of these fine specimens on parade, walking through Doncaster town centre were born with the same capabilities, intelligence, empathy or inherent talent for activities as some others earning their corn. Genetics is not a level playing field; they drew the short straw in this regard and because of this it is only right that they suckle at the teat of the nanny state. I’m not saying that we are all at the mercy of our genes. I mean it could be those behavioural problems spawned from neglect, abuse, an addict for a mother, the usual stuff. It’s not their fault, not entirely. They do though also have a choice and you’re not telling me they can’t hold down a job order picking down at the Range Warehouse. Plenty of Eastern European lads seem to be able to stomach it. Nah, they choose a can of Strongbow at midday on a Tuesday instead.

How do these unfortunates exist in society on no wage though? Seventy bones a week, pay your lecky, gas, visit Iceland, get your backi in and you’re surely spent. Happily relinquishing the will to work. But, how on earth have they got enough to venture in to town on a blustery Tuesday and spunk cash on a walkers multipack, some half price selection boxes and chips and gravy for lunch. Maybe not academic, but this breed of shirker is far from stupid. A simple visit to their soon to be privatised GP sees them spin a yarn and box off some additional income. A mandate to waste their weekday afternoon in the local Wetherspoons. ‘I’m struggling to sleep.’ ‘I don’t enjoy owt.’ ‘I can’t get out of bed in a morning.’ ‘I keep thinking about hurting me sen.’ Ding ding ding we have a winner. Their GP may smell a rat but they have to act on this information, they don’t want blood on their hands do they Mr Hunt. Prescription written, complimentary medication collected (nice one 7 zopiclone), sick note produced and disability claim processed. Kerching. Mine’s a pint of smooth . ‘We’re having chicken dippers toneet… round the kids up, just mine not yours Chelsie’.

“If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.”

They aren’t miserable Charles. Then there are the kids. Those poor bloody kids. Brought in to this world on the back of a night on the Rose and a few blue WKDs. Romance isn’t dead. Ninety times out of a hundred I suspect a convenient accident.

The last time our Smiggy had a meeting for his JSA claim they had found a job that they wanted to put him forward for but unfortunately he wasn’t eligible as he didn’t have a driving licence. The shift patterns included nights, he was unable to get there, no night bus. Not that it mattered because he didn’t want the job anyway. Our smiggy doesn’t get along with them Polaks do you pal? ‘No do I fuck, busy bastards lot of’em I’d rather sit around the house wanking.’

“A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.”

Typical Smiggy, dirty bugger. Now he could get a licence for a car but it would cost a small bloody fortune. He’d have to have lessons, learn the rules of the road, apply his learning practically, theoretically and pass a few tests and these aren’t cheap. This is a prerequisite to ensure that all of the vehicles on the public highways are driven safely and responsibly. Makes sense. You can’t have Smiggy and his bird belting through DTC on a Friday night in his mates classic Vauxhall Nova, keyed up to the nines supping from a bottle of Glens can you? No, bloody dangerous that. He needs to have a licence, cars can be lethal weapons. Can’t watch TV without a licence either, bloody licence for everything these days. No fishing and you’ll need one for that chuffing massive Stafi you’re after Smiggy love.

Begs the obvious question then, as I survey the alarmingly long queue at Crawshaw’s (cooked chickens for £3 in the afternoon #winning). How are these people allowed to bring another person into the world without as much as an assessment in front of a medical professional? I mean if some of the kids I can see on the high street were any more inbred they’d be a fucking sandwich. Not their fault.

Whoah what the hell is this? Inbred? You off your nut you can’t go dictating to people what hoops to jump through to have kids. Why the fuck not?

We have got to where we are today in evolutionary terms because as Darwin put it we are the most adaptable to change and we have survived famine and disease as well as countless other potential ends. We as a collective are the result of a distilled gene pool. We can’t simply cut off those with a low IQs or behavioural problems can we? No, we can’t that would be rather cruel. We can ensure the current gene pool isn’t being diluted further though and society isn’t perpetually supporting those who do nothing but withdraw. Take, take, take. It’s free money!

“One general law, leading to the advancement of all organic beings, namely, multiply, vary, let the strongest live and the weakest die.”

No Charles we can’t let them die, I’ve covered this. We feed them , clothe them, provide them with health care, house them and give them a few quid for a pint and some ciggies . We have varied enough in my opinion and I think we have struck up a political class capable of protecting the vulnerable, systematically being unpicked at present here on the Albion. Here’s to hoping that c*** Hunt will contract MRSA when he finally decides to visit a hospital ward sometime before the next election. Yes, more could be done and I hope this continues but can we not be a little more forward thinking about what genes we bring to the table for future generations and what environment children in society are brought up in?

I advocate a licence if people want to have children. There it is, I said it. potential parents take lessons to learn the essentials, what folic acid is, why smoking and drinking whilst pregnant is harmful, why changing your childs nappy more than once a day is good practice etc. They ascertain a basic understanding of the cost of clothing, food, they detail their income, discuss their personal life, relationships with people, alcohol and substances. Finally they have a psychological assessment if they satisfy those assessing them they are granted a licence. It would be long winded but let’s remember they are committing to providing for another person for a minimum of eighteen years. They have to ensure their children have a strong moral compass and  that they are educated – I’m not talking school here. If they can’t look after themselves properly they don’t procreate. Simple. Yes it would be expensive but would we not as a society realise the benefits in the longer term? I think we would. Might even offset what we spend on benefits in time and reduce the unemployment rate.

Is this really that left or right field? I mean only today Jezzer has proposed a tax rate of 100% on the highest earners in our society, Christ. Yes Jeremy you are right the pay disparity is perverse but you are not the person to be running with this, not now. You need to bolster your credibility first you donut. I’ll be leader of the opposition by Christmas with this forward thinking.

You’ve got to hand it to them existing, taking the piss, doing fuck all, playing the system or whatever you want to call it they know what they are doing. I do take issue with them diluting the gene pool and getting the state to fund their survival but what can one man do. Fucking scallies.

“Intelligence is based on how efficient a species became at doing the things they need to survive.” – Charles Darwin.

Shit.

Stamp it out.

people-of-the-earth
Hope dies last
At least it should
Instead it's that twat
Sat in the pub

Up he gets
When you head to the bar
Back from London?
Not for me taa

Down there once
A few year back
Full of them Pakis
And niggers, no blacks

Losing your temper
You swallow your beer
Ask the ignorant twat 
How he got here?

Tonight pal? I drove
I'm leaving the car
I'll walk back I think 
Christ it's not far

You look at him blankly
Toning it down
The twat is now puzzled 
Here comes the frown

No, you your family
Where are you from?
I'm Irish and Welsh 
There aint no pure pom

He rolls up his sleeve
Revealing his ink
St George, his mum
A dragon...you think

Lovely you say
The colours the lot
Amazing the skill
When they're out of the cot

His heart rate racing 
He's been here before
The penny now sailing 
Towards the floor

I'm English you cunt
I served for our queen
She's yours you can have her
Outside if you're keen?

You stamp and you stamp
And nothing is said
Enjoy the silence.
The racist is dead.


You sexy little swine…

fishingWhilst I was in London in 2010 I worked with a fantastic group of people. Sadly we were mismanaged by a selfish, chauvinistic, egotistical gobbler. Here was a man of 50, perving and passing comments on my friends, wearing Lyle and Scott polos, humming Rhi Rhi (his reference not mine) with the nerve to placate others on their appearance! Oh won’t someone think of the children.

The irony defaming someone on a blog is not lost on me. Especially since I sincerely believe his behaviour was the dividend from a rich portfolio of insecurities. As I have joined the ranks of the “keyboard warriors” I will satisfy my appetite and indulge, don’t like it? As you were.

I enjoy razzing. Like most I enjoy the cut and thrust of getting a rise out of someone – simply for kicks…my mum used to say when I was a kid:

‘you give it you have to be able to take it.’ This was generally her retort when someone had trumped me in a tussle of the tongues or United had been beaten, thankfully when I was growing up this wasn’t very often.

Back in the office I remember saying to Clive;

“You taking that inflatable FA Cup down seen as though you were the FA Cup holders in 2010 Clive?” “No” “Only as good as your last game, good manager Moyes”

Chelski had just been beaten 1-0 at Goodison in 2011. This predates Moyes at the helm of the Titanic, Christ that would have been a bloodbath had I still worked with him.

I know, you couldn’t write it could you. A Chelsea fan, give him his dues he was far from plastic. Once reminiscing over lunch, he had my ears bleeding with a story of him as a runner back in the 70s with his Uncle.

For those of you unfamiliar with a ‘runner’. A runner is the bait at pre-arranged fights between ‘firms’. Present tense you will notice, this still happens sadly, thankfully less so these days. A firm consists of impressionable attention seeking dickheads that tarnish the beautiful game through promoting and engaging in violence. I nearly wrote the ‘H’ word . I refuse to award them their coveted badge of honour, mugs.

Clive was the lead of our team at Lloyds and we were made well aware we worked for him . We took our medicine a lot; nothing says bend over and touch your toes like the corporate world does it. Not being arsed I remember thinking. I’ll pay lip service that is all Christophe.

Chris my Manager was writing one of my performance objectives “create and expand relationship with Clive”. The fucking bastard. I would not tolerate him anywhere but the office, okay at a push on a work night out, for one pint nothing more. I would pretend as needs must but did not have the appetite or bottle at this point to do the right thing and call him out. Every day was like selling Lucifer another slither.

One hazy Tuesday I walked into the office late as per, having spent the weekend in Germany with some pals, we had been to the Hurricane Festival. The Arctic Monkeys were headlining so it was nailed on my mate was working in Hamburg at the time. As our friends in Trumpland say, no brainer.

As I approached my desk half wondering if it was the onset of tinnitus and jaundice, I overheard Clive peacocking – this time on the subject of music.  “Now, my favourite of all time…it’s tough but I would have to say U2” Makes sense I thought to myself. He supports a plastic football team listens to a plastic front man. What U2 did for Sarajevo I will always respect but favourite of all time, you pulling my plonker Clive? Come on at least try you prick.

I opened my laptop and started to line up my glasses of water for the day, I had more important things to think about here like lunch. He went on…

“You know what I never got, all the hype with the Arctic Monkeys, who the fuck were they anyway?” Touche Clive, touche old boy. I looked up at Chris, he widened his eyes instantly conveying ‘Oi you little shit, you hold your tongue he pays for us.’  Lucifer this thick slice is on the house.

Neck recoiled eyes down. Chris interjected sensing the golden opportunity to cast the line out, “I think David might have something to say about that Clive…”, smiling like a cat with all the cream. “Oh David are you are a fan? Well maybe you could educate me  one day, I doubt it though…”, he smiled deliberately, don’t bite… “I will send you some songs one time Clive no problem and a few explanations if you want, I grew up listening to them”, I smiled back, my hangover retreating as my adrenaline levels charged.

I sat at my laptop for the next few days on his time and wrote my explanation complete with a very extensive rather boring account of stories from my not so fluorescent adolescence, to give him some context. It was for no other reason when I look back than to make myself feel better. As we came to the end of our contract I asked Clive for his personal email to keep in touch for football purposes. If he was ever at Old Trafford for a game obviously. I would rather chop my cock off.  I wanted to send him what I had written and it was not really a great idea to send it to his work email as my beer money was at risk. I sent it to his personal email address on my last day. As I walked past him fantasising about smashing his head through the Chelsea team on his wall. I relaxed and wrapped myself in the warm fuzzy cloak of one up-man-ship.

Similar to the one you get when you see some dickhead undertake you on the motorway at 120. Only to pass him OR HER parked 2 miles down the road on the hard shoulder. Not in their car now but the back of an unmarked Volvo V70 as you sail past pipping your horn putting your foot down. Below is the email I sent to Clive.

About 13 years ago a group of young lads in Sheffield decided to get their hands on some musical instruments. Typical items for a group of young men with creative flare and interest in music. At the same time in a different part of South Yorkshire I was starting to take an interest in the dancing dots myself.

You may or may not have ever felt the desire for an instrument Clive. Chances are though at some point in your youth you wanted something to express your personality or to pass the time. You may have considered yourself a budding sportsman, maybe you still do? You may have asked your parents for a violin, a pair of footy boots, the latest edition of vogue or some dancing shoes you sexy little swine. My first request was a dishevelled box of wood that barely held a note, a gift that made my Christmas back in 1997.

I practiced my piano enough when football and the Holy Grail weren’t on the agenda. At points I used to consider myself half decent but in all honesty my heart was never really in it. What I didn’t like about the Piano was in order to learn  in my small town; I had to take direction from an out of hour’s music teacher. She was as inspirational as a cloudy day. In it for all the wrong reasons. One lesson with my piano teacher I did manage to take away some wisdom. I learned to be a good musician above all else you needed to discover and develop a unique style and sound. Once you have this you could then compliment it by an infinite range of scales, in my case simplified versions of Beethoven’s Concertos if you wanted or vice versa. Finally as I left my last lesson the penny dropped, don’t get taught teach yourself. People don’t do psychology for kicks do they?

Learn the instrument, yours and its capabilities, the nuts and bolts to the theory then progress. I never did. What I was never able to do was produce anything that I could call my own. I eventually tired of imitation and found a good substitute for my musical interest – heading out and listening to bands touring the North. Off I’d trot with my merry men to The Lead Mill in Sheffield, The Cock Pit in Leeds, occasionally frequenting the Apollo in Manchester and very rarely paying a visit to Nottingham’s Rock City. This overshadowed regurgitating the Moonlight Sonata seventeen times a week. I listened to anything and everything my Mini Disc would serve up to me on the school bus, slowly the piano became a graveyard for family photos and my ambition faded as the dust thickened.

The Vines, Hot Hot Heat, The Strokes, The White Stripes all favourites of ours. At a time when others my age were listening to the morsels being produced by the recording studios of the rich and famous. My mates and I were hot on the heels of anything our generation was producing that wasn’t mainstream echo. I was 17 and the bands I was interested in were that little bit older but I enjoyed their offerings and I knew at least in part, where they were coming from.

I fell in love with the Libertines. The Man Who Would Be King is a corker.  I can still jump myself into frenzy, sing my heart out and be 17 again for 4 minutes . This song was the song that connected the tall lad I’d seen on telly wearing a trilby and myself. The guy stood on stage bleeding charisma, singing lyrics that I thought possibly I understood?

 

Jack drinks and smokes his cares away

His heart is in a lonely way

Living in the ruins

Of a castle built on sand

 

I didn’t understand. For all I knew Pete Doherty if the tabloids were to be believed was a crack addict with a mere drinking problem, his logic and mine probably differed somewhat…what did I care? He could sing and play with his mate Carl and write songs for a generation.

For me ‘The Man Would Be King’ is a song about the actions of a ‘Jack the Lad’. A drinker, a smoker, a charmer, a self-pleaser in life preferred to the alternative. Eventually unchallenged Jack will pay the consequences but the risky house on sand has always been more fun than the predictable one built on rock. He will live with his decision. Don’t toe the line snort it.

From my friend introducing me to the Libertines, they have always been a band I have listened to and followed. I met Pete Doherty in the street one time when I was studying at Newcastle and he was a friendly unassuming guy, willing to have a photo with me (which I subsequently lost). This was at a time when revelations on his private life were painting the front pages of the tabloids. Other bands who I called my own were Queens of The Stone Age, The Cribs and The Stills.

Music I grew up with, music that means a lot to me, music that provided a soundtrack to my youth. The Libertines were four top lads, pouring their heart and soul into every song, every performance and every line. They would sing about their shortcomings, their experiences, their opinions, their girls, their mates. Doing what they wanted following their heart – sometimes this was not always obvious however, it was the music.

At the time the Libertines started making bigger waves I had turned 18, I had just finished school and I had one aim in the summer to watch them play live for the first time. I remember jumping the train to London four beers in tow with one of my closest friends John. A friend of ours once overheard his dad rechristen John ‘The Prince of Fools’ at an early age, to this day he still lives up to his noble title somehow managing to have a respectable and so far successful career.

On the way to the Libertine’s gig in London back in 2003, John and I sat between the carriages in first class, I was without ticket and fortunately managed to get to London with the fare still in my pocket. ‘Forgive me you wouldn’t believe me if I told you I can’t find my ticket’ you’ve heard it all before; the usual persistent patter.

Our motivation for the journey was earlier in the week we had heard on the grape vine that there was a secret Libertines gig being played somewhere in the sprawling concrete jungle that is London. Wow. Our arrival into the capital only came about thanks to a frightening Glaswegian Train Guard who took pity on us; I think he knew we were in for a shock once we alighted. I hope he took pleasure in forgetting to explain to us that Doncaster was simply a small mining town in South Yorkshire. A rather amusing show was performed by John once we had negotiated the fare. Having only recently returned from Thailand he had a screwed up pair of Thai Boxing Shorts in his bag. He handed me his can “off for a piss”. A few moments later as I looked down the train from between two carriages, there he was in all his glory shadow boxing down the aisle in just the shorts.  

Later in the day we found the venue after sampling a few watering holes en route. With a few quid between us in loose change secure in our spray on jeans, it was time for operation doorman. Like the recurring monotony of Countryfile on a Sunday evening the thick set cockney threw 6 darts in our direction, collectively they made up a sentence we had been getting familiar with in recent months.

“Your names not down, fuck off.”

Shit. We very quickly used every weapon in our limited armoury convincing bouncers in Donny we were 18; sadly this was not enough of an education to talk our way in. We were out of our depth. If we were treading water back home surviving we were tied to a boulder the size of our over inflated egos in The Smoke – the Glaswegian’s pity was not misplaced. Stood surrounded by the impending nightfall we were slowly sinking to the sea bed. That’s it? That’s a night out in London? That’s what they all go on about? Bollocks.

Saner heads prevail. We decided to assess our options and climb aboard the safety raft, the battle was definitely lost but there was a war being fought. Luckily my brother had a mate who was down in London getting a Visa for the States – don’t buy a ticket you aint winning the raffle kid. We made a fist of it between the 3 of us, stayed in his B&B, met a couple of local girls and had a night we couldn’t remember before making our way back North the next day. It was a distant first loser to missing the Boys in the Band play a set to 200 fans but, you get can only play the hand you are dealt.

Shortly before starting university in 2004, I travelled to the states too coaching ‘Soccer’ for a few months. Meanwhile back in God’s own County there was a storm in a teacup brewing; four lads I in High Green had stuck to their task with and were realising their potential as I was touring California. The summer and remaining months of 2004 which saw me start university were over and I was left with the taste of diesel in my mouth, and the emptiness only a maxed out Over Draft could provide £1497.60 DR. Avail £0. Shame.

Whilst I was brushing up on my economics and drinking prowess Alex David Turner the lead singer and guitarist of the newly founded Arctic Monkeys was working at the Boardwalk in Sheffield.

A venue popular with local musicians, music lovers and scenesters since before my birth, under its former name ‘The Black Swan’ or ‘Mucky Duck’ had been visited by The Sex Pistols and The Clash in another lifetime – not to be sniffed at.

Taking every opportunity to promote the band back then Alex, Matt, Andy and Jamie were burning CDs, handing them out free after gigs, waxing lyrical wherever there was an unsuspecting ear. They encouraged file sharing! Heaven forbid. MySpace and Limewire became their vehicles and it was their unique music, initiative and an unwavering work ethic that would break the mould.

By now it was too late for me; I was already settling into my impression and getting comfy. Slowly but surely the quiet hum surrounding the Arctic Monkeys was becoming a noticeable buzz. The mark was beginning to be made by the band and the news of their impending success was spreading faster than the latest STI across the North East

On starting university still 19; The Libertines were sadly on their way down following their much anticipated second album, which I thought was sensational. Sample bias. This album though wasn’t enough to prevent their big red button being pressed, in my opinion their unprofessionalism was the pin that eventually unpicked their success. The Killers, Maximo Park and Razorlight were now filling the space on the air waves. Jo Wiley was being her usual predictable beige self. How this woman made a career without disliking anything is beyond me.

By early 2005 the monotony of the University DJs had set in like dry rot. Even after a pitcher of Voddie Red Bull ‘Mr Brightside’ was somehow getting worse, compounded by each overplay. This continued and First Year was over in an explosion of friendships, emotion and boredom. The best result looking back was my introduction to the musical giant sleeping 100 miles down the A1.

In the lonely summer that followed first year I worked off my overdraft back home as a post boy in a lighting factory; I would do 8:30 – 4:30 Monday to Friday, it was the epitome of Groundhog Day. The Brucie though was being able to earn enough money to purchase a ticket for Leeds Festival in August. 

Having enjoyed listening to the Arctic Monkeys that summer I was anticipating a strong debut. In the build-up I recall Noel Gallagher’s typically arrogant summary whilst being a guest on Wiley’s show ‘any band with a name like that won’t win any Brits or Grammys?’ I remember thinking that is fighting talk Mr Gallagher, considering your creativity reached its zenith in the mid-90s, his opinion was neither respected nor accurate.

Having visited the fields of Leeds since 2001 the line-up for 2005 was as impressive as the previous years. Despite the annual riots, tent torching and overpriced crap lager it was always worth the 130 quid to go. With a line up boasting headline acts Iron Maiden and the Foo Fighters, you had to try especially hard not to overlook the local act pencilled in on the Carling Stage after the Mystery Jets.

Don’t believe the hype…

Fortunately my brother and I didn’t miss their slot. Unfortunately half of Bramham Park were on it too. I thought as we arrived at the edge of the tent I might as well have been watching from the beer tent. I couldn’t see fuck all and although they sounded decent I was too far back to really get involved. Even pissed up, brimming with excitement we tried in vain to make an in road into the wall of leathered pogo sticks. Everyone in the crowd as determined as us and no ground would be surrendered.

I remember casualties being carried out of the tent every 2 minutes; one guy suffering from heat exhaustion, a few others had lost a shoe in the mayhem, shirts had been ripped and lives changed. Everyone close enough to witness the set were beaming having been there for the coming of age of the biggest band the Steel City had produced since Jarvis Cocker gave birth to Pulp. The torch paper had been well and truly lit.

If nothing else, you have to thank The Arctic Monkeys on successive occasions for stemming the tide of manufactured talentless shit relentlessly staining the bowl. As much as you flush you only find it to be replaced by JLS, Westlife, One Direction, Bieber or whoever the next faceless puppets are waiting in line to pick up the cheques from the parents of our impressionable kids. Music to Hoover to. 

With bare minimum marketing and advertising, here we had back in 2003 / 2004 / 2005 a quartet of musicians rewriting the rule book in the face of the money machine. Back then at Leeds they were lighting up a rock festival whilst the greats sat in their trailers sipping on mineral water and practising their lines. They have undoubtedly earnt a few quid themselves in their time and good luck to them. They deserve it.

I admire them Clive because they made it on their own terms and put their music as the catalyst to their success, not the reverse. I salute them because they sing and play how they see it and I can relate having emerged from a similar time and place.

Finally I adore the lyrics of Alex Turner, my age or thereabouts. Here was a lad at 17 who refused to go quietly into the night following discussions with his 6th form career counsellors and parents. A lad, who can write, who understands language, is in touch with the experience of his mates and clever enough to articulate it all in a way that is accessible to all and sundry. Combine that with someone who can write a good tune to match with his mates, a high level of technical ability, ambition and wait for it love of what he does and you are onto a winner.

There are no flowers in his love songs, no utopias in his relationships. Raw emotion dominates. I cannot help but be moved by his song writing and melodies. The whole band took a chance to follow their hearts, with the talent of a thousand writers and musicians my world is a better place for this gamble.

That’s what I’m not  was the fastest selling debut album in UK chart history before Miss Boyle emerged. Outselling 2nd to 20th combined in the first week it was released. So that was September 2006. What have they done since? Well between breaking America, filling their dustbin with a whole host of recognised awards they have managed to stay true to their ideals, their fans and their selves. Opinion or not that deserves respect does it not Clive?

They have produced single after single, EP after EP and Album after Album in an effortless display of character and poise. Songs that make me stand up and shout, smile, frown, laugh and contemplate to. Songs that have made countless people question my sanity and the sanity of my mates on a night out.

One of my favourites is Suck it and See. The album not the porno.

Have a listen. You will live longer. You will lose weight. None of this is of this is of course true. You might however appreciate the feelings he has for the protagonist. You may even be tricked into believing the hype of 2005 if you listen carefully enough because what was exceptional then still applies Clive.

Yes you can be forgiven for disregarding The Arctic Monkeys because your mate told you they’re crap. The simple truth might be you haven’t earned an opinion because instead of listening and making your own judgement. You like so many others have sat back and had the opinion of others shoved down your throat like a Foie Gras Goose at Christmas.

If you don’t like them I tip my hat bid you good day and thank my lucky stars I am not you. Obviously my opinion is worth less than zero at best like yours is and sadly even sheep are entitled to one. If I’m making a statement though here it is – Oscar Wilde bless his soul has nothing on this boys tongue and combined with their music they are simply untouchable.

The way every poignant gut wrenching point of break up in Do Me a Favour is described is frighteningly accurate. If you have ever been there and let’s be honest we all have. How do you resist being transported back for a split second, having to relive the moment, the moment when you crossed the thin line between love and hate and you couldn’t bear the thought of her doing the unthinkable. ‘Perhaps F*** off might be too kind’.

Overplayed but underrated I BetYou Look Good On The Danceflooris the perfect reference point for anyone that has played Russian Roulette with the pretty girl in a club clinging to sobriety and pride with one hand whilst reaching for her on the dance floor with the other.

BiggerBoys with Stolen Sweethearts – maybe this was just me growing up with my mates but this is a snapshot in time and I for one can remember quite clearly the older lads rolling up in their new minis and turning the heads of our girls.

The cows will quite simply will be home if I go down the route of analysing all songs line by line however forgive me for indulging in one more before you nod off. 

2006 became 2011 very quickly and now we are in 2016. Good music has remained not a fad or a fashion but a valuable commodity always at risk of being forgotten or going unheard in the face of the latest targeted campaign being served up to us all on the advertising space we pass every day. In a 5 year period, 4 albums were produced, there has been a change in personnel amongst other developments but I have to go back to a song included on the EP released shortly after the first album to demonstrate the pure brilliance of the Monkeys. 

In recent weeks I have had to defend my honour and that of the Arctic Monkeys in the face of some others and of course you Clive;

Whatever happened to them?

I couldn’t name you one song.

I didn’t get it what were they all about?

Not forgetting my own personal favourite challenge from yourself…

‘Who the F**k Are Arctic Monkeys?’ The irony bleeds me dry. Have a listen.

Ignorance should be distinguished from stupidity, although both can lead to unwise actions such as voicing an uninformed opinion on something not explored. I think the lyrics in Who the F**k Are Arctic Monkeys say something my 3000 words could never explain, but to be on the safe side air on the side of caution, even if means not having an opinion especially when it’s not the right one Clive.

You caught a whopper!

 

 

 

 

 

 

We will remember them

It’s cold now, much colder than before,
He can’t feel his hands, there’s blood on the floor,
George has gone, gone somewhere warm,
He told him about Ruth and her school uniform.

Told him about Mary, the love of his life,
How he missed one last day with his beautiful wife.
All for what? Not for hate, not for more,
Not for generations who think the answer is war.

He’s alone, he’s scared and now he can’t fight,
It’s getting warmer and he knows this is his night.
He looks to the sky knowing his fate,
Prays for the day when love conquers hate.

We will remember them.

Q 858

fuck TRUMPet

the-fuck-trumpet

I normally spend my Sunday evenings regrouping from the weekend’s excesses but this week I am occupying myself with this. I was listening to Europe is Lost on Kate Tempest’s new album walking home ankle deep in the decaying red leaves of early November. I couldn’t stop listening to the track thinking fuck she is on the money with this one again. Impeccable observations. Instead of thinking about the week ahead, the meeting with Carol who keeps flirting with me and she’s fotty nine I’m thinking about the impending election across the pond in the home of the brave.

You know the game is bent when you are waving goodbye to one of the best commander and chiefs young American’s have ever seen. A leader. A winner. A man who is absent of ego and in his place come Wednesday you may be ushering in one of the biggest handpumps I have had the displeasure of hearing on my daily news feed.

I didn’t vote in Brexit. You chuffing what? You’re posting that shit on my Facebook and you didn’t bloody vote. It’s bad I know. I didn’t abstain, I intended to vote for Remain but I was delayed on a flight back from Nice and the polling stations had closed come 11pm when we landed. Striking air traffic controllers, the irony. A French Thatcher would sort that right out.

Walking at a leisurely pace listening to a song on social deprivation and my nation and continent losing its identity, losing the planet to what feels like an insatiable thirst for trivial pursuits I thought I could do a bit maybe help my pals in America. I like America. I like the people. Shoot me? One of them very nearly did one night in Houston. If even one person reads this and rethinks a vote for the Republican nomination on Tuesday then it will have been worth my while. I think we should get it out of the way early here the Republican presidential candidate is a disgusting egotistical, sexist, racist cunt.

The word cunt gets overused and my Gran reads this, but in this instance, it is the perfect description for a man, I wouldn’t piss on if he was going up in flames. Now, we all make mistakes from time to time that’s why pencils have rubbers on them. No not jonnies although that might be a good way of stemming the alarming tide of teenage pregnancies in my hometown. This mistake could be catastrophic not just for America but for us as a planet, as a team. When America gets angry people in other countries tend to die. That is a fact. This has happened for generations, what happens if a man who insights hatred in his own country when campaigning for president is successful? What if he is the person responsible for pushing the button? I for one have been researching a potential trip to Mars, I’d rather take my chances there. Unfortunately, Virgin don’t fly there yet. Pull your socks up Richard.

How in the modern world when we learn from mistakes of the past can we not see that this gobbler is in it for one reason only. For himself. A protest vote is a dangerous animal. I’m not clever enough to foresee the fall out from Brexit but personally from the information available to me I think the UK as a whole has scored an own goal. How can leaving the third biggest trading block in the world be a good thing? This came about partly because a lot of people were angry with the political class I understand that what I can’t understand is manipulating people for votes. Lying to them and pinching, stealing their vote. He is doing this everyday. How can electing an unstable bigot, sexual predator and compulsive liar be positive?

When I watch Trump at his rallies and in debates I don’t see a leader. A man who wants to improve the lives of everyone in America. A man with strong ethical values. A man who wants to address the poverty gap fund. No instead I see an absolute shower of shit. This is a man who does not pay his way, avoids tax and fucks up investments despite being given a war chest from his Daddy. He says he will be a good president because he’s good at business. Go suck a bag of dicks. He isn’t a self-starter. He didn’t work his way to the top. He didn’t invest and innovate. He inherited millions that his father made on the whole from governmental financing programs on the back of The Great Depression. You would think knowing this and being helped by his government, by the American Tax payers he would happily return the favour and pay his way. Only fair, right? No, instead he dodges tax and will not release his accounts to the public? You will be working for the hard-working people of America you soft cock. Fraud.

People of America. Who looks after people when they can’t look after themselves? The state has to be that person. I’m not a staunch lefty and I’m definitely not sat writing this in my Lenin pyjamas drinking my tea out of my Stalin Mug. I do though recognise from my own life experiences that people need help at times and sometimes they can’t help themselves. I do predict that a vote for the fuck trumpet will marginalise the most vulnerable people in American society further. He will not support increases in public funding his ‘excellent business skills’ suggest he will promote privatisation where he can and this is not a perfect model, it might make the rich richer but at what cost? I’m not advocating expanding Obama Care (although I think this would be a good idea), baby steps forward though not backwards. I’m not too au fait with all the issues America is facing at the moment as I do have to fit in 8 hours of football a week but I do know that this clown couldn’t give two fucks about helping rehabilitate people, improve the employment rate or addressing America’s piss poor record on the environment.

The only option in this amateur’s opinion is Clinton. She isn’t perfect and to be honest I feel sorry for the poor fuckers having to sift through her emails. Bet the agents doing that thought working for a government law enforcement agency would be more fun. Can’t imagine Bill will be in there saying he’s forgot his dry cleaning again. She is a sock puppet but not a criminal. Its either her though or the morally baron muppet.

Well that’s all I’ve got time for it’s hardly highbrow but it’s a plea from a lad on The Albion. It may feel like hate but it really is pity and frustration. Don’t let this pathetic excuse for a human win. Don’t let hate win. God willing he won’t.

Inshallah.

The Gravy Monster

gravy-monster

I was on one of my longer runs down the lanes on the outskirts of my hometown. Run faster you fat bastard my inner voice screamed. I was approaching yet another spot where some selfish twat had decided it was a perfect place to tip their kitchen waste. Now it would be perverse of me to jump to the conclusion that this was the work of the travelling community (as is so often the case when you see a pile of litter beside a farmer’s field). I didn’t. I let the pikey’s get off with this one, there was reasonable doubt. LIES.

As I closed in on the dumping site, I thought I could see the outline of Quasimodo. I dismissed this. I got back to my running. Could I beat Monday’s time? I averted my gaze back to the potholed tarmac underfoot. I was about 10 yards away, when again I found myself glancing up to see the outline of something human. This time I was convinced there was someone trawling through the sea of kitchen debris. I slowed down a little apprehensive and turned my music off. Walking closer.

Now only a few feet away from the litter I could see there was a young lad maybe only twenty years old. Rifling through the piles of unwanted waste like he was trying to complete a room in the Aztec Zone, sand timer close to empty. He was so engrossed in his task he hadn’t noticed me approaching. I have to note this was the first time in two weeks I had come across another soul on one of my runs. Here was this silly bugger out in the wilderness on his jays looking for a new pair of trainers for all I knew, sifting through someone else’s filth. I dismissed the temptation to ignore him and continue down the road instead deciding on engaging him in some form of convo.

“Ay up pal, you lost something?”

I was a little surprised when he didn’t stir this was hardly Electric Avenue on a Saturday morning. I raised my voice a little and moved closer.

“I said pal, you alright, what you lost?”

No response. If anything my presence had increased the speed at which his hands were filtering through the punctured plastic bags, pilfering what he could. I started to wonder if the good intentions I had were misplaced, the road to hell and all that.

I stepped on to the grass verge lent over and nudged him, he shrugged my hand away and I could now hear mumbling. At first it sounded like he was saying ‘save me’ ‘save me’ my mind started to unravel with the thought of what I had to save him from then abruptly he stopped. My eyes widened. I leant in a little closer without as much as a warning he exploded in to a frenzy of screams and squeals. What I thought was ‘save me’ was actually ‘Gravy’. I was only a yard away from him when he turned to me and grabbed my sweat soaked shoulders laughing hysterically.

“Gravy!!! GRAAAAAAAAVEEEEEEY!!! I’ve got some. Fuckin idiots loads in here!!!”

Now I had a chance to see this delicate beast away from the decaying detritus. I tried to step back a little but he held my shoulders and for a lad so thin was alarmingly strong. It allowed me to get a whiff of him. If I was 9 kilometres in to a run then this lad had been running since last April, without as much as a passing shower to relieve him of the rancid stench emanating from his pores. His breath and teeth bear no resemblance to anything I have either seen or in fact smelt on a living organism. Almost inhuman.

I was convinced that the local police must know of this unique specimen, I mean how often is it in 2016 that you see a lad with a battered Adidas Gazelle on one foot and an oversized welly on the other? His jeans were covered in dark brown stains, rips and other marks. A T Shirt donned his torso, barely. It was at least three sizes big for him and had the bold text “My other ride is a…” with a picture of a ewe emblazoned across his chest. He didn’t look healthy. I dismissed the shirt, his reaction to the half empty pot of Bisto had me engaging with him again as he pulled his hands away, he turned back to the pot.

“What have you got there? Some Bisto?”

Approaching him like you would a small child lost in a supermarket. It was painfully obvious from this lad’s reaction he did in fact have a container of gravy granules in his hand, I could see that. His reaction was akin to it being filled with priceless diamonds. I didn’t understand his ninety-fourth-minute cup final winning goal celebration?

“Fuck is it to you? Piss off silly cunt!” He snarled, holding the pot of granules close to his ridiculous t-shirt. Golem fingering his ring.

I paused, somewhat surprised. When I had left the house for my run following a much needed banana I hadn’t given any thought to meeting someone whilst I was out running never mind a rude, pungent young lad with the restraint of a cocker spaniel on speed! As is always the case when caught off guard in a social confrontation I resorted to a playground retort.

“You piss off you scruffy little cunt, I was just seeing if you were alright?”

He looked up from the gravy pot and his eyes softened. His frown eased. Christ he was thin he looked like an extra from Schindler’s List. My initial anger dissipated a little and I started again.

“Are you? Alright, that is?”

“Sorry mate, I dint mean that. Am sound. Better now I’ve got some brown.”

The absurdity of the situation didn’t escape me, hell for a second I considered the notion that one of the lads had broke into the house in the night and slipped a tab of acid into my banana. Was it just starting to kick in? I had promised myself I wouldn’t put myself through that again. I looked to my left and right and took a deep breath. No this was very real, this was happening.

A conundrum. Do I accept the reaction of this young lad as a bit peculiar and go about my day, continue my run and return home? Have some carrot and coriander soup as planned and spend the afternoon listening to Radcliffe and Maconie drinking tea? Is this what Laura would do? I knew straight away what she would do. Try again.

“Have you got somewhere to go mate?”

His eyes wouldn’t leave the surface of the gravy granules container. He replied,

“Like a house or summet?”

“Yeah something like that, do you live near here?”

“Used to. From Moorends me.”

Ah Moorends, the end of the Moors as it were, still is I guess. Bandit country. If ‘bandits’ are benefit cheats with a penchant for quads and scramblers. ‘Country’ being a wasteland of council houses and burned out cars. Not the nicest place on the face of our beautiful planet but there’s worse out there. Now you have to try really hard at this point to imagine a town with fewer economic or social prospects. Let’s give it a go. Start with a pile of dog shit. Steamy, revolting and sat right under your nose. Now imagine it blended until it has a lovely sticky consistency, like chocolate ice cream left in the summer sunshine for a few minutes. Finally imagine it carefully pasted evenly over the surface of every walkway in a small mining village. Holding that image think of the same town and imagine it is night, you are walking through the centre. The smell of dog shit is everywhere, palpable and all over your shoes.

You like shoes almost as much as you like the fresh air.

You want to think about running as fast as you can out of this town to safety. For unlike Moorends: scally wags, pikeys, degenerates, delinquents or scrubbers don’t walk around, oh no on the contrary. People don’t roam the streets. In their place a pack of rabid hyenas with an appetite only for human flesh. And there you have it. Something worse. A whole town paved in dog shit overrun by insatiable flesh eating rabid animals. Forgive me I may have indulged a little.

“Moorends, do you still live there?” I asked.

“Nah haven’t lived there for a few few year naa, stepdad kicked me art when I got kicked art’ school.”

“So do you have somewhere to go?”

“You mean like somewhere to kip, get me head darn an’that?”

“Yeah, you got anywhere?”

“Not since me sister fucked off, said I wa a waste a space she went darn to that London. Fucking idiot everyone knows there’s nah proper brown in’t smoke.”

I stood there bewildered, quickly returning to my earlier thought. What would Laura do? I briefly thought of the modern world where my monthly phone bill steadily increases. Hidden charges, itemised billing, the mysterious premium rate numbers. I make 3 fucking calls a month you robbing cunts. No one uses the bastard phone anymore and you’re charging me 2 quid to tell me I phoned my mum twice and Dominoes when the app went down. Twats. I wanted to live in a better place.

I thought of the inclement weather forecast for the next couple of days and looked back at my pal stood as though he had one foot in the 80s and the other on worthy farm. Christmas was approaching and this mad bastard was dressed like Worzel Gummidge at Glasto. I was still panting, in between breaths I mustered a suggestion.

“I only live down the road from here pal, if you’ve nowhere to go come with me I’ll make you a nice cup of Yorkshire tea, fix you something to eat? Good meal will see you right. You can grab a shower if you want?”

“Ah that would be proper that.”

And that was it. The hardest part was not walking past as is often the case. The next person along will probably give him 50p, poor bugger. Wrong. Chances are the lad or lass hanging out of their arse smelling of piss will spend your hard earned cash on their next fix. But wouldn’t it be nice if as well as scoring they were able to get a burger and a bed for the night. Fucking hell in a perfect world your generosity might stimulate them to take control of the situation, kick the habit, go back to school, get those GCSE’s in Maths and English, in time one of those job thingy-ma-jigs, save up, see some more of our unique planet meet a girl or a guy or both. Marriage, kids, a house, a subscription to garderners monthly, a blender, a bread maker, a cuddly toy. Choose life.

It was a twenty-minute walk back to my temporary accommodation, not much was said.

“Instead of a cup of tea can I mek some graavee?”

“Yeah of course mate” I replied, whilst clearing my throat, “Get you a bag of chips if you want there’s a chippy round the corner”

“Ah chips and gravy, fuck its like all me Christmases at once.”

Now we are in the kitchen, me drinking a cup of tea whilst he was enjoying the fruit of his labour on a bag of chips, ‘best pals these’ mumbled in between mouth fulls.

The lad in his own brash way asked if he could have a gravy boat to drink out of, I wasn’t sure I had one? He said it was how the posh lads do it. I rummaged through the kitchen cupboards. I told him I’d never seen anyone drinking out of a gravy boat and I had known a few Schweffes in my time. He shrugged nonchalantly, cheeky shit.

It was just after two, I got the laptop out looking for a solution. He was homeless, malnourished, struggling mentally and in need of some shelter. A bag of chips wasn’t going to work this time. Not your everyday predicament but there are always options. I remembered an old friend, his dad used to work for a group called M25 which dealt with addicts and homeless people in and around Doncaster. I got the number from the website and gave them a call.

It was a quick call. As soon as I told them it was an addiction to gravy they asked me politely to stop wasting their time. I persisted with phone calls to other charities in the area but no dice. This was no good. If they met this lad they would soon change their tune. I got the address for the M25 group and walked in to the living room. He had clearly figured out how to get the TV on and navigated to what looked like one of the food channels. After noting this, I noticed his right shoulder shaking furiously as I neared the armchair. The dirty little bastard was wanking. To Jamie Oliver making gravy no less. He was making his signature roast beef gravy. I snatched the remote from the arm of the chair and turned the TV off.

“What in the name of cunting fuck do you think you are doing you perverted little bastard, wanking in my living room to…” I could hardly bring myself to say it, it was so wrong “…to Gravy!”

And with the last two syllables of Gra-vy, he released a moan. The twisted fuck finished right there in front of me into his pants. I lost it. Grabbing him from the chair I dragged him by the collar of one of my ill-fitting shirts through the living room into the kitchen.

“Don’t you dare try and touch me with those filthy fucking mitts you disgusting toad!” Words escaped me. His hands still smothered in jizz from the gravy inspired monologue of Oliver. I pushed him through the back door, he stumbled I continued, picking him up from the floor. I pinned him against the fence. I locked my eyes on him, he was avoiding my stare. Like a sex addict released from his daily pursuit, gimp mask sweaty, nipple clamps sunk deep into his chest, blood fresh and plentiful the lad was filled with instant remorse. He started before I could launch my verbal assault.

“I can’t help it pal, I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Am a fuckin freak. I hate it but I can’t do’owt.”

I understood addiction or at least I thought I did. Christ I remember the 0-0 draw in the World Cup Finals a few years back, Portugal v The Ivory Coast. I also remember where I was when Ronnie hit the post in the 20th minute and I was convinced the game had goals in it. I remember the sinking feeling at the final whistle too when me and Jambo had dropped over 3 grand between us sat on his sofa drinking tea with HobNobs. This was his pet French Lop, not the biscuit. There we were on the 27th floor of the Beetham Tower in Manchester without a pot to piss in. I won’t forget that feeling, Fuck, that buzz, what’s next? Chasing it.

I understand the thought process behind addiction the impulsiveness, one more spin of the roulette wheel and I’m done. Black thirteen, twat. One more. And repeat. It is of an impulse. I understand being addicted to sex, drugs, alcohol, gambling fuck even curries but gravy? Could someone really be this addicted to gravy? The evidence in front of me was compelling. In the space of two hours I had witnessed two of the most peculiar things in my life. A few seconds passed and my approach, like his cock, softened.

“Mate, I get it. You need help. This is killing you.”

“Soz for wanking in your living room, tried to stop me sen. Tried me best to finish before you walked in, a wa waiting for him to add meat juice.”

“It’s alright, meat juice what the fuck! Right we’re going to get you some help. Let’s go back inside for a minute whilst we decide what to do.”

Christ if any of my neighbours were in the garden hanging the washing out I’m pretty sure they would be on the phone to a 101 phone operator right about now. Fortunately, it was midweek in the middle of the day and most if not all were winning their bread. I wasn’t on that team at the moment following one of those sabbaticals from the working world, I believe my old economics teacher termed it frictional unemployment. Christ getting away with doing the square root of fuck all for a good two years in the offices of various investment banks across the capital, one of my finest achievement to date really. I had a good run.

He looked pensive, god knows what he was thinking about? Probably gravy. How often does one man need gravy? Ah the age old question for the northern monkey. He had just drank at least 3 mugs of the stuff not to mention his hand shake with the one eyed milkman whilst watching UK Food. Jules wouldn’t have been happy.

“Right I’m going to dig you out a hoody or a jacket then we’re off to town, alright?” God knew why I was asking, what else did he have on besides maybe a trip to the wastelands of Stainforth to dig for more granular treasure. Stainy for your reference was on par with Moorends, another decaying pit village on the outskirts of Doncaster. A large number of the residents relied on their JobSeekers to help them buy that precious pint of smooth down Working Mens. Sithee.

“Ta mate.” I handed him the hoody which was two sizes too big for him.
“What’s your name?” I asked.

“They call us Gravy Monster or Beast-O, I dunt care much for names anyway mucka rose smelling like shit an’that.”

I nodded. The lad didn’t care for much. Suppose that’s what happens when you trade in your aspirations, relationships and material belongings for your next fix. It was sad but I was committed, it needn’t be this bleak. I was going to see it through, the lad needed professional help. The absurdity of the situation was not lost on me.

We walked the short walk to Thorne South for the train. Gravy petted the shire horse living in the field beside the tracks just beyond the decrepit Victoria Inn. These days the Vic doubled as a curry house and somehow served continental lager at £2.40 a pint, reassuringly cheap? Reassuringly expensive maybe but £2.40? Probably stolen, out of date, watered down or all of the above. I had very little desire to sample the menu. A drawback of previously living in Shipley was that all curry houses for me were measured against the world famous Aagrah. The service possibly as good as the food but this was reserved for only the best customers. Tipping the waiter £100 when I myself was in need of a padded room back in 2012 meant it was always on offer to me.

The train ride was uneventful, industrial warehouses on the left, skip for hire business on the right, steel railings, car parks and of course the river Don complete with a rustic rust covered shopping trolley bobbing tirelessly. I noticed Monster becoming a little restless. Withdrawal setting in? His leg moving up and down was starting to make me anxious. A stutter when he spoke. Sweat forming on his brow.

“A, a ant bin on’t train in ages, where we off?”

“I’m trying to get you a bed for the night, can’t have you sleeping out in a farmers field can we?”

“I’ve tried before pal, well well me sister has and a couple of me old mates have, before they gev up on us. Dunt, dunt blame em” He managed.

“Tried what?” I replied.

“To help me.” Looking down, he was lucky he was a size 9 and he was able to squeeze in to some god awful military style boots my younger brother had left in the garage. I imagined Gravy’s view looking down to see the Toon Shoe out of Who Framed Roger Rabbit talking to him ‘get his wallet, think of the brown Gravy lad, think of the bucket of brown! Be fucking rate kid!’ Would he hallucinate from his gravy abuse? Nah. Heart burn from the salt and no doubt raised cholesterol as a result of the animal fats maybe. He continued.

“I dint used to be like this, nicking stuff to buy gravy, brekkin’ in to warehouses for me brown. Once I wa normal well mebbi a bit messed up,  me mam left when a warra young lad never met me dad he died when a wa a babbi.”

“Sorry to hear that Gravy.”

The woman sat across the carriage from us glanced over her shoulder when she heard me call him Gravy. As you were you nosey bitch.

“When’s last time you were in town pal?” I asked keeping the raft afloat, trying my best to keep him from turning to thought.
“Not for ages a dunno, think it wa’when Rovers’still played at Belle View”

Doncaster Rovers had played their football at the Keep Moat stadium for nearly 10 years. This meant a few things in the town centre had changed since his last visit.

The calm I had been holding hostage escaped. What say you fuzzy britches? A thought? A sound? Gravy erupted. His slight frame was electrified like the powerlines buzzing above the East Coast Mainline. Shouting at the top of his voice.

“TUCKY!!! TUCK-EEEEE!!!”

I snapped back. “Gravy keep it down, Christ!”

Doncaster train station on a Tuesday afternoon was a world away from Waterloo on a Monday morning but there were still a few people about and I wasn’t too easy with them all looking at me with a nutter bellowing Tucky.

“What’s wrong with you!?”

“Pal can we go Tucky, please? Be your pal forever if we can go?”

I was embarrassed; a few school kids were pointing and laughing. I suppose you would if you saw a grown man losing his shit at the thought of a visit to KFC.

“Look calm the fuck down” I hissed. He cowered a little, but then right back in my face.

“Tucky gravy is’t bollocks!”

I caught sight of the catalyst, a large advertisement for KFC donning the wall facing the commuters stood on Platform 3b.

“But you’ve just had chips, you can’t be hungry?”

“Just need a wet of Tucky graveee!”

He obviously wasn’t aware there was a new KFC in the Frenchgate shopping centre. Shopping centre don’t make me laugh, more like a day shelter for the elderly. I decided it wasn’t worth walking the short distance across town to the M25 Group’s office on The Market Place with him like this. We would definitely get asked to leave, him going bananas at the thought of scoring a tucky tub of gravy whilst I’m trying to find him some temporary accommodation. I needed him there in a half decent state, this would at least give us half a chance.

Gravy transformed into Beasto overcome with rage and desperation as we stepped off the escalator. The ‘Tucky’ sign clearly in view. Bursting out of the stall he sprinted very deliberately towards the counter, bypassing the queue which as per usual was at least 10 people deep. The vast majority of whom looked like they were one Hot Wing away from a coronary.

It was the one thing I had never understood about Doncaster, the town’s unhealthy obsession with Tucky. If this were North Corbin in the state of Kentucky itself fair, but, we were a fucking ocean away. Friends from school, friends that I have met through others over the years, my close family they all love a Tucky. And you can guarantee they will mention the gravy every time. Only last week I was in hospital visiting my Gran and my Aunty was telling me quietly (out of earshot of the nurse) how she had snuck in a Original Recipe Meal (my gran’s favourite) and you guessed it, the meal came complete with a tub of the brown stuff for dipping.

I started to think about my addictive personality. How good that first experience was, well apart from that unfortunate time with the ketamine. When does like become love become need become give me your fucking money you cunt.

It is fair to say I felt a tad of embarrassment on behalf of the Gravy Monster when people in the queue people sat enjoying their meal and the staff all stopped to stare at the maniac barging his way to the counter. He looked like a River Island manikin brought to life in his make shift get up.

Had he reached the front of the queue simply shouting “TUCKY” that would have been bad for both of us. No. Once Gravy fought his way to the front of the queue, with the deftness of a moggy scaling a wall he cleared the counter. Fuck. The little bastard then dived to the floor, forcing a member of the staff to jump out of the way arms everywhere. I was a good few yards behind him. People gasping and shouting. Gravy couldn’t give less of a fuck.

The steel drawer below the fries dispenser was pulled open aggressively, he rifled through the pots, opening them and pouring the scorching contents onto his face. It didn’t matter at this point what was in each of them, he didn’t discriminate. Gravy, beans, he was having it all. The staff were not prepared for this. A chip fat frier fire? Yes. Disgruntled Donny Soldier at the counter with no hash brown in his Zinger Tower? Yes. Delirious gravy addict completely devoid of social skills running amok and destroying the whole day’s supply of sides? No.

I got to the counter and the eating area was hushed, no one knew what the hell was going on. Was this a joke? A YouTube video? A ridiculous SnapChat? Dirty Sanchez?

Grumbled expletives and ‘Tucky’ emanated from behind the counter between gulps and gasps of air. Like a lion neck deep into the belly of a fallen wildebeest he looked back to me at the otherside of the counter, covered in brown residue and the odd baked bean. He nodded to me the Come on Ched get involved look. Unlike Ched I was raised to know when to dip my chip. I could see the steam rising from his skin. What the hell was happening? This was turning from a gesture of good will in to a fucking nightmare. Right on queue I clocked several youngsters recording the whole incident. Pricks.

A security guard was now making his way down the queue. I asked the manager to let me in so I could get him out from behind the counter. This didn’t happen. Instead the security guard collared me. Fear gripped the KFC women, why are there no men at KFC? Positive discrimination if I have ever seen it.

“You with him? The police are on the way. Get him out of there!”

The police. Fuck, this rolling stone was gathering no moss.  I became defensive, replying bluntly,

“Why the fuck have you called the police? He needs an ambulance and a psychiatrist not a bloody jumped up Boy Scout in a Vauxhall Astra!”

This is what always surprised me. Innocent cyclist gets creamed by a bus, emergency services swing by a café on their way to the scene of the accident. Mentally disturbed gravy addict ransacks the local Tucky, half the fucking station turns up in less time than it takes to complete the Metro crossword. Circus is in town.

He had drank his fill after a few minutes and slumped to the floor. Leaning against the counter facing the rest of the restaurant, no one could get a view of his face. Not that it mattered, it wouldn’t bother him if #GravyMonster was trending. I was a little more concerned of the social media coverage. Kids with guns.

“Gravy?” I called, clearly shaken by the whole ordeal. “Can you hear me?”

“Ye pal, Am sorry” He said softly from behind the counter.

“It’s gonna be alright kid, are you okay?”

“Av burnt me face, its killin.”

“Don’t worry about that we’ll get you seen to.”

I turned to the rotund security guard, who I guessed hated weekends.

“Can I go behind there and help him out mate?”

Displaying the social skills of a pineapple, the hired gun mumbled his response. I couldn’t even tell you what it was, but I guessed from his stance it wasn’t positive and he didn’t encourage me to jump over and a help him.

“Gravy you listening, we have got to wait.”

The police arrived right on cue, little and large, two blokes. I made a mental note of the numbers on their shoulders. Force of habit. Good name for a police spoof that. Overworked underpaid results in piss poor performance and generally not giving a fuck. I got it, but when the situation involved someone at risk of a night in the cells, a criminal record and little else, I wanted more.

“You with him?” The first copper asked. No time for introductions priceless gravy was being plundered. Not in Gods own county!

“Yeah.”

The second larger copper leant over the counter talking at Gravy. Gravy had rapidly returned to his post wank state. He was inconsolable realising what he looked like and also what damage he had done to his face and neck, he had 1st degree burns at least.

“Look he’s not very well, he needs to go to hospital, he’s burnt himself.”

“We’ll decide where he’s going. What’s his name and what’s your name?”

“Why do you need my name?”
Out came the standard issue notebook, the weapon of choice.

The copper clenched the paper a little tighter with my reluctance he considered his approach, tilting his head and his glare intensifying, “Don’t be difficult just answer the question, what’s his name and yours?”

“He’s the Gravy Monster and I’m Mickey Mouse.”

Smart arse.

This played out for at least ten more minutes. The crowd behind were growing restless. It was kick out time for the secondary schools in the area and we were standing the way of their Flaming Wrap. The paramedics now joined the party and started attending to Gravy. I was a little happier with their arrival, a more honourable profession.

Gravy eventually stood up and walked slowly out of the back of the kitchen and into the main food hall.  A couple of jeers from the crowd that had gathered, but on the whole the kids understood the gravitas of the situation. If there is one generation that knows more than most about mental health it is this one, we live in a world of increasing exposure of the human condition. Everything analysed. Pressure at every turn. SATS, GCSEs, AS, A-LEVELS and soon the 11 PLUS making a come back at the will of the top 5%.

The two coppers finally listened to me once I had told them about my eventful afternoon. They conceded that this lad was no self-styled Robin Hood stealing gravy from the rich and giving to the poor. He was in fact a neglected, lonely young man with nowhere to go no one to talk to. As well as that he had mental health issues that needed assessing and treating, how he had fallen through the net?

I’ll tell you how. People fall through the net when resources allocated to support and help those in society who need them are so thinly spread the vulnerable are turned away. There are no beds. There are no appointments to see the doctor, the psychiatrist, the social access team. Please call back tomorrow. Next week. Too late.

You’ll be pleased to learn that our right honourable friend is earmarking much needed funds for our beloved NHS. Following the money we will save now we are no longer going to be a net contributor to the EU. No I tease. This is made up. The Tories in fairness have done their bit to help, the Mental Health Act 1983 being their biggest contribution to providing better care for those in our society who rely on the state to keep them off the streets. Out of the hospitals. Out of the prisons. Or out of an early bath in the game of life. But that was over thirty years ago, mental health care funding has been cut for the third year in a row and is set to be cut even further in 2017.

More needs to be done. Now I’m glad the pig-head fucking twat has returned to the private sector where he belongs and we can start to repair some of the damage he and his comrades have ravished on both health care and social care in our country. That isn’t to suggest previous and subsequent governments haven’t and won’t do the same but we have to make it harder as a society, as a collective. Poor mental health is the largest cause of disability claims in the UK and it doesn’t take a genius to predict that the number of Gravy Monsters out there will increase as funding decreases.

No this won’t be an epidemic of knife wielding lunatics as the Daily Wank Rag might have you believe, I’m not trying to sell papers here or influence political rhetoric. I’m appealing to your moral fibre. The current approach will result in one thing and one thing only, a steady increase in the number of vulnerable people on our streets. Will crime increase? Most definitely. The Tories will defiantly argue the stats don’t show this, suck a long one you bag of dicks. These people are out there. People who have had a raw deal and people who haven’t. People who gambled it all away or simply lost one hand. Tried it once. These are all people. The most desperate of people. But people all the same.

To exacerbate this disabled people are now receiving £55 a month less that they were a couple of years ago, this was a stroke of genius by the right honourable gentleman George Osborne wasn’t it. What a gobbler. Then we have the bedroom tax. The cuts to local authority funding. Why are we marginalising the most vulnerable people in our society? I get the Monster’s gravy addiction but I can’t understand why we are empowering the Eton mess every four years. I hope members of the front bench in years to come will be able to attend my funeral and lower me in to the ground. Just so they can let me down one last time.

If you enjoyed these ramblings, you will be pleased to learn this short story has been adapted into a play being performed nationwide. You don’t need to buy a ticket as it is free to all. You will find endless performances in your train stations, outside your cheapest boozer or in the doorway’s of the high street after dark. Smile, say hello, buy the caste a cuppa.

My superhero doesn’t wear a cape, she wears Doc Martins. She she doesn’t work as a journalist for the Daily Planet but instead as a social worker for the local authority.

Happy birthday Sillay, good luck in the Jungle and thanks for never walking by.