The year long book challenge

Book lovers! *Fanfare noise* I now announce the start of my 52 week book challenge

First some background

There’s a period of my life I hate, one I wish I could delete forever, when it was over I got rid of as much of the things from it as possible. I sold everything or just gave it away, I wanted nothing left of it that didn’t have to be left. That included most of my books. My life is now perfect, I’ve got everything anyone could ever dream of and so I’ve started to rebuild my library.

I love reading, always have, on a holiday with nothing but time I used to read 5 to 10 books happily now I can’t finish a book a month, my attention span shot from social media and streaming services. I’ve bought all of these books and I never seem to read them so I’m setting myself a challenge.

I’ve chosen 34 books to read in 52 weeks. Hopefully this should work out to almost a whole book a week. Some books will take two weeks, no way I’m finishing Sapiens in a single week, some will take a couple of days, Cat’s Cradle I’m looking at you, so in the end it’ll even out.

The 34 books I’ve chosen are:

The Red Queen by Matt Ridley
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams
This is a Call by Paul Brannigan
Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk
Born Standing Up by Steve Martin
Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner
The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins
How I escaped my certain fate by Stewart Lee
The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie
My Autobiography by Charles Chaplin
Hell’s Angels by Hunter S. Thompson
Chasing the scream by Johann Hari
Reasons to stay alive by Matt Haig
Non-Fiction by Chuck Palahniuk
David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell
Fear and loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
Lost in the funhouse by Bill Zehme
Fairyland by Paul J. McAuley
Silent Bob Speaks by Kevin Smith
The Undercover Economist by Tim Harford
The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan
Originals by Adam Grant
Globalization and it’s discontents by Joseph Stiglitz
Nudge by Thaler and Substring
The Tiger that Isn’t by Michael Blastland
Power by Naomi Alderman
Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel
A closed and common orbit by Becky Chambers
The Humans by Matt Haig
Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut
Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde

I’ve always believed that reading widely and frequently makes you a much better person more capable of dealing with the world we live in, I’m hoping that this challenge will make me feel as good about my mind as I now do about my body.

There’s a couple of rules I’m going to stick to with it

1. If a book is rubbish I’ll stop reading it and sub in another one, no point in wasting time with shit books

2. No starting new books until I’ve finished the current one

3. Post a review of every book

So this is the start of it, some of the books have been bought for me, some I started and forgot to finish, some I found in charity shops with hand written notes in the margin, one is the sequel to an audiobook a lovely comedian bought me and some are brand new, inspired by things other people are reading.

If you want to tell me some of these are rubbish before I get to them do so and I can get rid of them before I waste a week on them.

If you want to join in with me that’d be fantastic

First book is Power by Naomi Alderman, already done three chapters and hooked.

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Losing Mo Farah

Yesterday I hit the goal weight I set myself last year. I wasn’t expecting to. I came in from a show I’d done locally, it was a late one and I just wanted to get into my pyjamas, pour myself a large gin and wind down. I stripped off, stepped on the scales and there it was: 18st 6lbs. I’d made it, I’d lost 7 stone (or 100lbs or 45 kg if you’re on the fun side of the ocean) in just under 12 months. The Olympic gold medallist Mo Farrah, winner of both the 5000m and 10,000m not to mention champion of Quorn, is 7 stone.

This time last year I’d been 25st 6lbs (356lbs), preparing to get married to the woman of my dreams and hating how I looked in the mirror. I wasn’t in control of my body, the very idea of it was a crazy concept, up there with becoming a harmonica playing teen pop star or the economy not crumbling once we left the EU. Now here I am having lost 25% of myself, like a lizard escaping a predator only I was running from cake.

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(A year apart, photo on right by the incredibly talented Michelle Huggleston)

This is how I did it, why I did it and what happens next.

First off losing weight is hard. I do not wake up every day, weigh myself and find that I’m a stone lighter than I was the day before because I binge watched the new series of Orange is the New Black while pounding cream filled doughnuts into my mouth and washing them down with litres of cola mixed with melted Ben and Jerry’s, that doesn’t happen. Losing weight is hard. However if someone out there reads this and the whole Ben and Jerry’s thing has worked for them please get in touch because a) I want to go into business with you and b) I miss the taste of ice cream.

Secondly I have huge restrictions on my diet. There’s two whole categories of food I can’t eat, there’s an entire meal course that I now consider hostile territory, certain parts of supermarkets I have forbidden myself to enter.

Thirdly I am obsessed. I weigh myself multiple times a day to see how exercise and food affects me, I think about it constantly and I need constant reassurance from my wife that she will not leave me for a larger man. I am obsessed. Weight loss has replaced an entire part of my brain that was previously filled with interesting hobbies, alright maybe not interesting but they occupied my brain long enough to stop me thinking of my inevitable death and the ever present entropy of the universe. In no way is this obsession healthy but the other option is me getting so big they’d have to cut the front of my house off to get the lifting helicopter in and I’d lose my security deposit.

Let’s start with the basics:

  1. No carbs
  2. No sugars
  3. No alcohol
  4. No sweeteners
  5. 3 hours of exercise every day

I already know what you’re thinking “you said you couldn’t wait to pour yourself a large gin, gin’s an alcohol, what are you holding back Purchase?! Is your real secret gin?!” and my reply is “No, I wish. Though gin can aid in weight loss if it’s all you’re consuming. In fact you’ll lose 100% of your weight when your liver bursts, you die, freed from the mortal coil and left to float around as 10 watts of electricity. That’s a different diet known as the ‘my life has fallen apart’ plan”. The real truth is I don’t follow all the rules all the time. Life is long and blocking some of the joy you might feel in it is stupid, if I want a slice of cake or a large whiskey I’ll have it, I just won’t eat two whole cakes and a litre of Jamesons. That’s what Christmas day is for.

Here’s the diet this is mostly based on – Link  – but really it’s bits of lots of different things that make sense and have been repeated in any weight loss literature.

Also forget the bullshit the government funded in the 60s, doctors recommended smoking and amphetamines back then so unless you want your diet to be clubbing in Ibiza during the 90s the information isn’t relevant.

1. No carbs

Carbohydrates, carbs, Los Carbodiablos, Carboroneys. The filler of the culinary world. Carbs are the things you use to pick up and hold real food, they are the profit margins at any restaurant and they are food you can make by pouring a boiled kettle into a plastic tub. You eat way too many of them. Victorians used to eat an entire loaf of bread each every day, Americans add sugar to them because diabetes is too slow on it’s own. Strictly speaking it’s not no carbs, it’s low carbs. You can’t really have zero carbs without hating everything about your life and starting to have dreams about bread, the toast nightmares still haunt me. What you’re looking for is not eating any food with over 6g per 100g of carbohydrates or 6%, that’s it. Don’t eat bread, rice, pasta, cake, waffles, pancakes or quinoa.

Replace the carb part of your meal with protein or vegetables. As long as you’re not eating carbs or refined sugar you can eat as much natural fat as possible. Meats and cheeses are your friends now, you can deep fry the shit out of most meals as long as you use natural fats like coconut oil or lard. Yes I said lard.

2. No sugars

Sugar, the devil’s marching powder, child cocaine. Followers of Kali in the cult of Thuggee would kill entire villages of innocent people for a spoonful of it just like the children at a soft play area. You can’t avoid it, your body needs it but you control where you get it from. “Where can I get it from Chris?!” I hear you cry “You’re so handsome and strong” oh stop it you. Vegetables and tiny amounts of fruit you get it from veg. Eat veg. Veg. Veg. Don’t eat biscuits, chocolate, sweets, jelly, cake pops, any sweet drinks or edible underwear. You don’t need it, it doesn’t do anything for your body, it makes you feel like crap, you’re worth more than crap. Eat fruit but really limited amounts. Eating fruit will slow any weight loss down. Vegetables are much more nutritious than fruit and you can get most of what you need from them, if you want fruit eat berries as they’re the best of the bunch (PUN INTENDED)

CRAVINGS – At this point we should talk about cravings. Giving up carbs and sugar will make you hate yourself for months. Advice books and dieting professionals say it’s weeks which is absolute bullshit. The cravings will last for months, you have to push through it. It’s awful. The first few weeks you’ll have headaches, tiredness and loss of memory, it’s super fun. Once you get through all that you’ll sleep better, fit into more clothes and discover that foods have flavour beyond sweet or not sweet.

3. No alcohol

Come on seriously? You want me to explain this? Just do what everyone does up until the point you discovered that you were tall and menacing enough to be able to pass for 18 and don’t drink alcohol. You can have clear spirits like vodka and gin but I found it slowed the process. I find sometimes this rule needs to be broken as life is a never ending procession of idiots testing your patience so sometimes you’ll get home from work and someone will have been a dick at the office or you’ve been stuck in traffic or you met your ex and they’re doing better than you or it’s a Tuesday so you just need a strong double followed by a stronger double and an exceedingly long sigh. That sigh weighs 3lbs, sometimes gin is the only way to get it out of you.

Also drink a fuckload of water, your body loses weight quicker the more water you drink. Don’t drink more than 4 litres a day though or you’ll drown yourself.

4. No sweeteners.

Aspartame is cancer, don’t put it in your body. I know it’s an obvious thing to say but people still smoke. This one isn’t in any of the diets I’ve read but it’s something I found helped. You’re going to crave sugar so badly that actual medical professionals compare it to heroin addiction, there will be times that if someone hands you a baby and that baby smells of icing sugar you’ll have to stop yourself from licking it. Your first thought is to replace the sugar with sweeteners, DON’T. All you’re doing when you sub in sweeteners is prolonging your sugar addiction, you’re making yourself want sugar for longer. Best thing to do is just tear off that plaster, arm hairs and all, by going cold turkey. Sweeteners have also been linked to causing diabetes as they do shit to your body that sugar does but then you don’t get the sugar so your body over produces insulin. Yay.

You don’t need them. Eat parsnips, they taste like gingerbread when deep fried.

5. 3 hours of exercise every day

This sounds extreme. In your head you’re seeing an exercise regime to rival any body builder, athlete or Marvel film star. You don’t even know what the machines you need to use are called or what they do but damn do they look scary. 3 hours a day! Some of us with children don’t even sleep that much! 3 hours! 180 minutes!? Impossible!

You know what I do? I walk everywhere. I walk 8 miles a day. That’s pretty much it. Other than some stomach exercises because I want that to shrink faster that’s it. Walking. Find the time now or die earlier.

Increase the fat

Right well this sounds wrong but it’s an important part of what I do to lose weight. I eat a lot of natural fat rich foods. If I want a snack I’ll have clotted cream, we have full fat milk, lots of butter, basically anything that Gillian McKeith hates I now eat. For this to work you need to increase your natural fat intake, this is harder for vegetarians but there are options available to you. Your meals should be vegetables, proteins and fats. Also nuts, eat nuts.

Right that’s it, you’ve got the info I’ve got. Go forth and subtract, or not, up to you really.

Why I did it

I’ve been big my whole life. Up until the age of 25 my weight matched my age. I come from a family where eating is seen as a replacement for feeling, every occasion is marked with a meal and over indulgence. It’s your birthday, you eat cake! It’s Christmas, we have 15 boxes of chocolates and a table full of food for 3 people! It’s Tuesday and you’re feeling a little sad so here’s an entire pizza, 30 mozzarella sticks and a tube of cookie dough. It was so ingrained into me that I replaced everything with eating. Sad, happy, disappointed, bored, everything. It defined me. Also it held me back. When you’re 25 stone you’re at the point where either you’re happy with who you are and that’s great or you’ve given up and you don’t care what happens to your body. Guess which one I was. My body wasn’t my own, it was a thing my mind lived in and I assumed it would kill me some day. When I got married last year I was the biggest I’d ever been, the wedding was perfect and I was the happiest I have ever been in my life but when I looked at the photos I was disappointed in myself. That wedding was my future all in one day but if I wasn’t careful I wasn’t going to be there to experience all of it. It’s terrifying to have the perfect family and think about them at your funeral, I was doing that while looking at the happiest day of my life.

It wasn’t just that though. 3 seperate agents had said how I looked was preventing them from signing me. They all said exceedingly similar things “Your material is excellent, your stage presence is great but we just can’t sign you looking like that” and of course when I got that rejection I would get sad and eat a packet of biscuits.

Also food is an addiction, the way I was using it was an addiction. Food was escapism as much as drugs or alcohol or sex is for other people. I wasn’t facing my problems, I was eating them and the more problems I ate the more they piled up. The only thing that can be solved by eating it is getting caught with marijuana when a policeman pulls you over.

Since I started this I’ve slept better, thought faster, been more active, been so much happier and focused. My relationships have got better, I’m more positive. I don’t think it’s because of the things I’m eating, I think it’s because I’ve taken control. Like a younger brother finally being accepted by his older sibling with a Nintendo, I’m in control.

Also I can now buy clothes in normal shops. Going from a 4XL and 44 waist to an XL and 34 waist means I can now order things online, I get why you thin people talk about shopping so much, when you’re not choosing from either a giant black tshirt or a giant dark blue tshirt your world opens up. I totally get sales now!

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT

I’m going to try and get down to 16 stone. It’s an arbitray number but as I haven’t been 16 stone since I got my provisional driving license it’d be lovely. Also my wife has told me that I’m not allowed to be any smaller than 16 stone, it’s already a little jarring for her to be able to get her arms around me it would be traumatic if she could lift me up and carry me up the stairs when I fell asleep on the sofa.

 

I am not the man I was when I started this, mathematically I’m 25% less than the man I was but mentally I’m 150% of who I was. I still doubt myself, I still fail, I still berate myself even when I’m succeeding but I don’t hold it over myself like the sword of Damocles but made of cake. I am more confident, I feel like I’m worth something and finally I feel like I look good. Last week my wife asked me if I thought I was ugly and I said yes I did, she was surprised because she didn’t think that anyone thought they were ugly. I thought I was ugly and it was something that came between me and the world, it was a grudge I held. Now I get it, now I feel like the guy I am in my head. I worked hard at this and it shows on my face.

Which makes a change from it being custard.

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Why it’s fashionable to blame the victim

Do you know how I personally know that society defaults to victim blaming rather than attitude adjustment? Because there’s a million adverts on TV for weight loss products but not a single advert for a self help book on tolerance.

Out of all the topics involved with victim blaming right now that is the least newsworthy but, as a fat white dude, it is the only one I’ve experienced personally. People shout things from cars, they make snide backhanded comments and they call me an “Unfunny fat fuck” which is both alliterative and accurate as I am more passionate and less hilarious in my lovemaking.

I realise that being overweight doesn’t necessarily make me a victim, doughnuts don’t hurl themselves into my mouth when I stroll down bakery aisles. I’m not assaulted in darkened alley ways by two men who hold me down and pour buttercream into my mouth. But people don’t know why I’m big, do I have a thyroid problem? Am I diabetic? Is this an allergic reaction to unexpected aggression? They don’t know.

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(and they don’t want to come out from under their bridge long enough to find out)

Yesterday I asked what people thought was the cause in the rise of food bank use, I was looking for a reason beyond “The government”. What I was hoping for was a way we could look at it and say “it wasn’t this specific government, it would have happened under any government” what I got was justification for this article. Here’s my favourite answer:

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That’s right you heard it here first, the reason people use foodbanks more now is because more people donate food! ALTRUISM IS THE CAUSE OF SUFFERING! Last year I saw people commenting that the rise in social housing was causing the housing crisis, UKIP supporters were claiming that immigrants cause racism because without immigrants there wouldn’t be anyone to be racist to.

And who could forget the age old classic “Well what did you expect to happen going out dressed like that?!”

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(Well if you’re going to walk around with your back to people, you’ve got to expect someone to put a few bullets in it haven’t you?)

It’s a strange way of thinking but the more I dwell on it the more I get it. People’s first reaction whenever anything bad happens is to find someone to blame for it. It’s a base evolutionary instinct adapted, inadequately, to modern day situations. As cave people we would see a problem and find a solution, the problem wouldn’t be with ourselves as that was something we could fix immediately. We die because we leave our cave, ok so it’s that tiger killing us as we leave, right we need to kill the tiger. Our ability to see problems and solve them accordingly is why we evolved into the virus like mammals we are.

So cut to today and people see problems in the world around them, problems they’re not directly responsible for causing. Take the rise in food banks, your average person hasn’t cut anyone’s wages or sanctioned anyone’s benefits, they haven’t shut down a hospital or personally forced a person into a life of addiction. What they see is a problem that they haven’t manufactured. They look at the people they do relate to and think “If I didn’t cause that problem they couldn’t have either because I didn’t” it’s a very straightforward way of thinking, almost computer like in it’s logical progression

I am like this

Those people are suffering

Those other people are like me

They aren’t causing the suffering because I am not causing the suffering

I don’t identify with the people who are suffering

The people who are suffering must be causing their own suffering or they wouldn’t be suffering

victim-3

And that’s how easy it is to blame a victim. All that needs to happen is for the person to not identify with the victim, that’s all it takes.

We all do it too. The examples I’ve used are extreme prejudices and situations but how many of us have seen someone get a parking ticket and thought “well you deserved that” not knowing the situation, how many of us have seen a mother screaming at her children in the street and thought “she’s a terrible mother” rather than “Maybe she just needs someone to help” we’ve all done it because as soon as we can’t identify with that person’s suffering we’re numb to it. We have to be, our inner caveperson screams at the tiger outside the cave.

It’s a terrible problem right now. I could go on and on about what’s happened in a Tory Britain, about injustices and horror stories but really I’d either be preaching to the choir or fuelling the fires of animosity. Either way you know the story. Working class people vote Tory because they WANT to identify with them, they want to be rich and successful and have everything. Rich people vote Tory because it’s in their best interest to. Both aspects of those two society cross sections don’t identify with the suffering they see on TV. Why would they? They haven’t experienced it and they’ve worked hard their whole life, everyone else must have had the same opportunity to have that same life right?

Victim blaming has become the sociological norm. No matter what we think we still, as a planet, vote in the people who have the potential to cause the most damage. Labour are suggesting free school meals for every child and the only thing the right can respond to it with is “where’s the money coming from for that?!” but the Conservatives have given tax cuts to corporations, in practise rather than just policy, and funded full on wars without the right so much as suggesting maybe spending £80,000 on one missile is a crazy expenditure and don’t you think we should clear down some of our credit cards before we go shopping again darling? I know you love those shoes but we really should think about making housing affordable again, oh you know what I could never say no to you, you can have second houses for every minister rather than just getting them to Skype into any important debates they should have a presence at, we don’t need free healthcare anyway.

The fact that this viewpoint is becoming more prolific shows a shift backwards, a survival instinct kicking in as we feel the world shifting. Maybe if we stopped worrying about the tiger outside the cave so much we’d notice the one inside here with us.

Dieting (and why it’s like politics)

First off I’d like to say I am overwhelmed by how supportive everyone is. I am losing weight and whenever someone says that to me I immediately roll my eyes, it’s the same as when someone asks if I want to see pictures of their new baby or that they’re undergoing chemo, I get it you’re trying to better yourself stop rubbing it in my face. But truly I am astounded at how many people are genuinely cheering me on to become, essentially, less of me. My friends, family and just people I meet are absolutely and completely, genuinely, excited and pleased that I am losing weight, which is lovely.

But now I totally get why governments fail horrendously even when they have the best advisors money can buy.

Boris-thumbs-up

 

The first thing that happens when you lose a bunch of weight (I’ve currently lost 36lbs or 16.3kg depending on whether you use the pre or post Brexit values) is people ask you how you did it. In my case I cut out sugar, carbs and processed rubbish. I also cut out sweeteners because sweeteners have been linked to raised risks of diabetes, cancer, dementia and strokes, my opinion being if someone hands you a gun and says “I’m pretty sure I loaded it with blanks, fire it into your mouth a couple of times to check” my reply will always be “I’ll just have a water thanks”.

So people asked and I said “I’ve cut out sugar, carbs, processed stuff and sweeteners and it seems to be helping me lose weight, I also let myself have a slice cake once a week or something similar and I’m not beating myself up about sticking to it. If I’m doing it the majority of the time that’s fine but I’m not going to ruin someone’s dinner party because they made pasta” and 100% of the time people have said “Ok I’m going to do most of that but I’m not going to do all of it, I couldn’t live without this thing you’ve given up”

Which is why I think government policies don’t work.

 

The government pays a bunch of advisors to tell them what to do. These advisors are, usually and hopefully, experts in their field having either decades of experience or an extensive education in the subject they are advising on (ideally both but I’ll take one over none). These advisors write reports that they then submit to the MPs that need to make all the decisions, obviously it’s not just one MP it’s usually a committee of MPs all sat around taking in reports from various different advisors. The policies they make are based on these reports.

But…

What actually happens is a bunch of unqualified people look at the findings from a bunch of qualified people and make changes based on their opinions. They’re not taking the advice directly, it’s filtered through a level of bureaucracy and bias first before making it’s way into the government’s remit. In fact the advisors might as well not be there in the first place,

If you just Google “Government advisor” the 2nd result under News is this – Government privacy advisor quits and slams Cabinet Office for lack of support that’s a story about Jerry Fishenden who was an advisor to the government on matters of online privacy and related issues, he quit as an advisor because of how they were treated when presenting advice (bearing in mind this is what they’re there to do), he said:

“Without such backing, those officials who find the group ‘challenging’ have found it easier to ignore it, attempting instead to smuggle their inadequate proposals past ministers without the benefit of the group’s independent expert assistance”

The thing is that, as an advisor, that falls right back on him. He’s part of an advisory board on privacy, a policy is made around online privacy around the findings of the board he is on, that policy fails to achieve anything or is detrimental to the thing it’s trying to stop, he gets blamed because everything was based on his findings but really NOTHING WAS BASED ON HIS FINDINGS.

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(mistyped Scapegoat)

And this is exactly what I’ve discovered through dieting. You do something and it works, you tell someone else to do exactly the same thing, they do similar but change a bits because they think they know better, IT DOESN’T WORK and they blame you because you gave them the advice in the first place.

This is why our government doesn’t work right now. More focus is put on opinion than it is on facts. Last year’s referendum was the most important decision the UK’s population has ever made and what facts were presented? Zero. Zero facts were presented. A lot of opinions were presented, oh yes big red buses covered in opinions were presented, billboards covered in the opinions of a single racist were posed in front of for publicity, social media was awash with opinions and not one of them agreed on anything other than the people who didn’t share their opinions were idiots.

Former London Mayor Boris Johnson speaks at the launch of the Vote Leave bus campaign, in favour of Britain leaving the European Union, in Truro

(GIANT RED OPINIONS)

We have, as a country, started the Brexit process and yet we still don’t have any actual facts. We don’t know how trade is going to be affected, whether freedom of movement across the EU will still happen, what it’ll do to our economy etc etc. It’s all guesses and opinions.

The fact is we need a government based on facts, we need less opinions and bias, less selfish policy making to help ourselves and more to help the country. Less infighting, more experts and definitely a couple of scientists up making decisions rather than people who think you can ignore a portion of the facts if they don’t fit into your world view.

It’s strange how we’re quick to dismiss things that don’t fit into our opinions, like the fact that aspartame has been linked to melting your brain and growing tumours in your stomach because we like the taste and drinking it feels like we’re doing something to make things better without actually doing anything to make things better.

Basically what I’m saying is if you’re going to make a decision, look at the facts and only the facts. Alter your opinion based on those facts and don’t disregard things that have been proven just because you don’t feel like they fit in with how you think. Opinions are like nipples, everyone has at least two and no one needs to see them in a Starbucks.

 

Bad Comedian

Two years ago I was a bad comedian.

Actually that’s not entirely true. I wasn’t a bad comedian but in my own opinion I wasn’t good. I’d watch back sets of my own performances and cringe at myself. Thing is the audiences liked it, I was getting a lot of work and basically my career was on the rise but that only made it worse.

My problem was the material didn’t matter, I was doing jokes about stuff that wasn’t important to me. Sure here and there were a couple of bits about my family but overall it was a bunch of jokes about penises and poo. Again it’s fine for some comedians, it’s just that I’d wanted to be a different type of comic. I’d grown up with Billy Connolly talking about his childhood, Robin Williams discussing his addiction and mental health issues, Eddie Izzard opening the UK’s eyes to transgenderism and Victoria Wood championing feminism. Later on I would find Louis CK, Bill Hicks, George Carlin, Tim Minchin, Brendon Burns, Richard Pryor, John Oliver, David Cross, Maria Bamford, Mike Birbiglia and more but right there at the beginning of my love affair with comedy it was story tellers with issues.

I’d grown up with these people, I wanted to be like them, and right there in the middle of the career I’d worked so hard for I felt like I was failing. I started to hate my work, it wasn’t fun to write anymore and that meant the performance was all very stale. I felt like I was letting myself down but worse I was letting those iconoclasts of comedy down.

It couldn’t go on like that, I couldn’t hate doing the thing I’d loved my whole life. I’d worked so hard and it felt like the thing that defined me slipping away. I mean if I wasn’t a comedian what was I?

So I changed. I forced myself to write about subjects I felt like were important. You know what happened after that, you’ve followed me because of the change I made. Before that I was another comedian making jokes about the same subjects. It’s alright for some but for me personally it wasn’t enough and that showed in the work.

In no way am I saying that I’m even close to those heroes of mine that inspired me to do standup but I feel like I’m getting closer, that I’m on the right path. I went to see Louis CK last year and 3 of his jokes were similar to jokes I’d been developing for my show, that was incredibly encouraging. I mean I had to ditch 3 bits that I knew definitely worked but still it’s great to know you’re thinking in the same way as your idols.

This week I did a solo show at Leicester and it was full. People came who had seen me the year before or who followed me online. It was exceedingly flattering to be in a room full of people all agreeing that the comedian I was now was so much better than the comedian I was then. Those comedians I looked up when I was growing up changed my mind about a lot of things and I’m hoping that now I’m starting to make as much of a difference as they did.

Thanks to everyone that came on Tuesday, it was incredibly humbling. Next year I’ll be doing 3 dates because of how well it went. Until then here’s some very short snippets from the show.