You realise Parent is just a contraction of “Pay rent” right?

I’m angry at other parents. Not all other parents I should point out just the ones who seem to hate their kids. I should elaborate.

Ok so if you have kids this’ll be easy if not imagine you have some. Your 8 year kid comes over to you and in their hands they have Hostel, that classic horror where there’s more blood and guts flying around than at a butcher’s filleting contest and a blowtorch scene that’ll make you never able to eat creme brulee again, they say “Mum/Dad/Person I love may I watch this movie, it looks like something I’ll enjoy” and because you’re too busy on social media or watching people eat testicles in a jungle you say “yeah sure just stop bothering me” and that makes you a bad parent. Ok stop imagining now.

The same with video games, if you’re letting your kid play games where they beat hookers to death or get tortured and eaten by robotic teddy bears you’re a bad parent. Studies have shown that while these forms of media do not inspire people to act them out, they would do that anyway because they’re psychopaths, what it does do instead is change a child’s brain chemistry so they now have a predisposition to mental health problems and potentially psychopathic tendencies. The reason these things have age limits is because your brain can literally not handle that kind of stuff without changing irrevocably, you’re forcing it to experience things it shouldn’t need to experience so it grows around them instead of building up to them.

People are always saying “nah my kid is mature for his/her age, she can handle it” THAT’S NOT A GOOD THING! Your kid being mature for their age doesn’t mean they should be exposed to murder, what’s wrong with you?! That’s like saying Syrian refugees can handle having missiles fired at them because they’re used to it. THEY SHOULDN’T BE USED TO IT!

Imagine a child’s brain as a tree, I know there’s a lot of imagining here but it’s necessary, normally it grows up towards the sunlight and down into the ground. Imagine adult movies/games/books/music/podcasts/magazines or whatever are a metal fence across the top of it, sure the tree still grows up and around the fence in a cool and interesting way but it’ll always have that thing inside of it and won’t be the tree it could have been. Ok that metaphor wasn’t the strongest but you get my point.

It’s always the same parents who do it too. The ones that think a red bull and a rice krispie square are a suitable breakfast, that shit is proven to cause cancer, increase anxiety and you wonder why your kid has behavioural problems? They don’t have a behavioural problem they have a parenting problem.

Look I get it you’re busy, you have a job, you have a house to clean, a dog to walk, you’ve got friends to keep in touch with and a million other things that need your attention but perhaps if you can’t look after your kids properly just don’t have kids. Either do the job right or don’t do it at all. If you have kids already this could be a problem, again I’m addressing the shitty parents here, so try harder shitty parents or be prepared to wake up in a room covered in sheet plastic while your kid stands over you with a blowtorch screaming “WHERE DID YOU HIDE IT?! WHERE’S MY WINGS?!” over and over.

I’m not like you

Don’t look at my skin and think that I’m like you. Don’t say it’s ok to be racist and suggest I do racist jokes because “they’ll find it funny too”. Don’t say “you don’t need to be PC here” when talking about treating people with a different ethnicity as equals. 

Don’t look at my gender and assume I think it’s ok to treat women as second class citizens, don’t shush a woman in a conversation with “shhh love men talking” and expect me not to verbally dress you down for your obvious misogyny. 

Don’t look at my body shape and assume I’ll be ok with you calling me and everyone else fat or thin or any other derogatory term you can think of for someone who doesn’t look like you and if we’re being honest you could stand to lose a few pounds too.

Don’t look at anything about me and assume I want to be a part of your hate filled world. When challenged don’t make out like it’s “just a joke” because I can show you millions of people repressed by those so called jokes.

In fact the only thing you should do is educate yourself or shut the fuck up. 

International men’s day

And the Internet groans with the same “but when’s international men’s day?” joke, like an overweight cat trying to get to milk, social media is bloated and incapable of moving beyond the living room threshold.

But really why the hell is there an international men’s day? What’s the point of it? What exactly are we celebrating? The fact that one gender has successfully repressed all other genders throughout history? Partition of humanity? The objectification of women and the glorifying of misogyny? Penises ? What does it accomplish?

I mean there’s not even a special card like with mother’s day. I’d love to get an international men’s day card with two dudes on the front cover and one’s saying to the other “smell my fingers”, that’s exactly the world I want my daughters to grow up in. I mean we’re already saying that sexism is fine, see Trump getting elected, misogeny is ok, again Trump, and sexual assault is something you can get away with as long as you’re a man, aka Trump, why not go the whole hog and just force women to wear Slave Leia outfits in every workplace? Anyone who disagrees is a crazy feminazi, it is all just locker room talk after all. Boys will be boys. 

Don’t get me wrong I don’t think there should be any “international … days” men, women, children should be treated equally and fantastically all year round. You shouldn’t need a special day where you’re saying to yourself “well I’ll make a special effort today, I won’t call anyone a slut, it’ll be tough but people will appreciate the effort”. I think mothers and fathers days are bullshit, a day when terrible children can assuage their guilt by buying shitty cards and crap flowers rather than just doing it off their own backs on random days occasionally. 

Can’t we all just be nice to each other every day? Is it so hard to walk through a crowd of people and smile at someone occasionally? Can’t we just remember all the great things all genders have done for this world all the time and not have to be reminded to not act like an asshole? 

I’ve got a suggestion, instead of these bullshit days celebrating one specific gender to remind us that we are all separate and the world is a lonely place how about we replace them with “don’t be a dick year” where we all don’t be dicks, how does that sound?

Except international talk like a Pirate day. That can stay.

I’m an adult (and the one in the pink shellsuit)

“What’s for dinner?” my kids ask and I think “Yeah what is for dinner, oh shit I’m the adult, I’m meant to decide that!” that and a hundred other moments are when you realise that you’re the one people are looking up to now.  I haven’t quite got the habit of buying a week’s worth of shopping all in one go, instead going to the shop every day on the school run to pick up stuff we need for dinner, that way we waste less but mostly it’s because I don’t have the same attitude to shopping that my mum did, which was similar to someone competing on extreme shoppers angry at retail staff edition. 

When I was growing up my mum would take me and my brother to the shop. We’d either be in the trolley (shopping cart to non UK readers) or I’d be pushing my brother along in the pushchair (take a guess non UK readers). One time I hid my then 18 month old brother behind a bunch of plants, still securely strapped into his chair, and assured my mother he was gone now and we shouldn’t worry about him. She’d fill the trolley with food and we’d pay for a week’s worth, normally around £100, then take it home and unpack. That seems crazy to me now. £100 a week?! There’s a whole person more in our family and we spend half that! I know families spend that much these days but with inflation that’s an equivalent spend of £259.33 today. My mum was spending an equivalent of £260 a week on 3 of us and a dog!

Lets get some background going here. My mum was a single mother, my brother and I were looked after a lot by childminders and babysitters just so she could go out and earn enough for us to have a good life as well as childminders and babysitters. We had a nice house, clothes, holidays etc but it never once occurred to me to ask my mum why she would always wear the same clothes or never buy herself anything not absolutely necessary. Only now as a parent myself do I understand and I want to go back in time, grab my tiny 11 year old shoulders and scream “MAKE HER A BETTER MOTHER’S DAY CARD YOU SPOILT PRICK! SHE DESERVES AT LEAST A PARAGRAPH OF YOUR RESPECT AND LOVE!” because no matter what you say kids are selfish little things that don’t understand what their parents go through and nor should they.

So the fact that she would make sure we had that food in the house and we never wanted for anything made me complacent, I’m not going to say lazy because I’ve always been a hard working guy it’s just that maybe I didn’t used to understand how things really worked in life. Like when I got to my uni I had to guess how a washing machine worked (with coins) and how much powder to put in (not half the box), plus I learned that people will steal any food they find in a communal kitchen no matter how many pubes you put on top of it. I thought I was self sufficient, I had a part time job with full time hours that I did as well as my degree so I thought I was doing ok. Then I ate nothing but bread and beans for 3 months and called my mum to come and do some shopping because I didn’t have £100 a week to spend on nice food, hell I didn’t have £100 all in one place until I was well into my 20s.

Not because I didn’t have a decent job or anything like that but just because between the time my mother was buying that level of shopping and me having my own kids, prices went through the roof and wages went through the floor. My mum got into a pretty high up IT position because she had a qualification in French, nowadays you can’t even get into an entry level French interpreter’s job with a qualification in French, you can’t even get a job selling French bread with a qualification in French. We used to give people who couldn’t do anything else the trolley (shopping cart) pusher jobs and nowadays we have people with master’s degrees doing it, there are middle aged men and women with a masters in molecular biology pushing trolleys to supplement their zero hours university teaching job which means you now need a degree to get those jobs so we’re about two years away from there being degrees in trolley pushing and vomit cleaning. Bachelor of Grocery Container studies, BGC hons.

Even now, aged 34, I can’t spend over £1000 a month on food and groceries! Who can?! I mean who can that doesn’t own their own newspaper or tax haven based online shop? When does it get to the point where an adult can just drop that kind of money on weekly shopping? Does the fact that I can’t do that mean I’m not an adult yet? I feel like an adult. I pay taxes and bills that seem extraordinarily high for things that regularly fall from the sky. When there’s a noise outside that could potentially be a murderer, demon or Jehovah’s Witness I’m the one that goes to check. I feel like an adult but maybe not as much of an adult as my mum was. I say was because the other day she made a cake filled with smarties and another that had fudge pieces in the mix and really that kind of behaviour isn’t very adult at all.

 

How do you know you’re a good person

Because no one ever tells you. I used to think I was a good person. When I was younger I tried to do things for people, make life a bit easier for them etc but as I’ve got older I’ve thought “Fuck that! What did those dicks ever do for me?!” and that makes me think I’m a bad person. I mean I voted thinking I was against racism, I give to charity, love my family, try not to gossip about others, pay all my bills but I don’t think those things make me a good person. Fred West loved his family, Josef Fritzl really loved his family.

Here’s the problem. You could be a lovely person, help out at your church, bake for your kids’ schools, volunteer at the soup kitchen and read to old people but at the same time you could think gay people shouldn’t be allowed to get married because it’s an abomination. Does that make you a bad person? You don’t think so. I think you’re a piece of shit but the old people you read to would defend you and kids would pelt me with freshly baked muffins if I confronted you at their fete, repeatedly asking why your cupcakes had the word “fags” with a big red line through it on them. All of those people will repeatedly tell you that you’re a good person and you’ll believe them.

It’s bothering me a lot. I don’t have a lot of friends so when I do or say something a bit controversial I don’t have a bunch of people backing me up with baked goods or old war stories. I have my family who say “you’re fine, you’re doing a good job, none of us are dead and that’s a big part of being a good dad/husband” but then Hitler had a girlfriend and Trump has his weird family so that can’t be a good measure. I’m not saying I’m pulling on a white hood, burning a cross and getting confused when people aren’t on board I’m just saying that I don’t have a large echo chamber of people who have known me for a while telling me I’m a good person and silencing that little voice in my head, in a weird cockney accent strangely, telling me I’m wrong.

Strangers are worse as a reference point, they don’t know where you’re coming from, they don’t know you’re being ironically racist or you’re sharing a sexist in-joke with your wife. Strangers will take everything at face value and immediately call you on it, especially online. They’ll make you feel like you’re an awful person just for liking cat photos or Christmas so who do we use to measure ourselves against? When did it become a crime to want Christmas to come early? I just love bright knitwear.

If you look to historical examples you’ve got people like Ghandi who took a stand for his country’s freedom but then it turns out he might have been a paedophile, Mother Theresa turned out to be an atheist, Winston Churchill invented concentration camps, Roald Dahl hated Jews. All of these people are seen as being ideological leaders in their fields and yet are so fatally flawed that you couldn’t take them as an example. Did those flaws also make them the great people they were? Were they great because they were hypocrites?

I’m overthinking it all but really at no point in school and through your development is there a moment where someone takes you aside, hands you a list of qualities and says “Just do these things and don’t do these other things and you’ll be a good person, ignore what anyone else says these are the definitive qualities that a good person needs to adhere to”. Hell they don’t even teach you how to raise a child, fix a leaky sink or how to hold a meaningful conversation and those things are the key skills to life. I would have given anything to have had a lesson in school called “How not to fuck up” I can tell you now that would have been so much more useful than how to play the recorder or any amount of trigonometry.

If we had that, just that assurance, maybe we wouldn’t have people gathering to march against people of a different race or sexuality. Maybe we’d have enough space for refugees and enough money for the homeless. Maybe we could have a standard two week holiday for Christmas for everyone? That’s the dream right there.

 I think I’m a good person. Maybe.

The World’s paper bag

Well hasn’t 2016 been one massive panic attack. Everytime I get a “Breaking News” notification on my phone I panic that David Attenborough has died and we’re now living in a post Attenborough world. That’s a bit fucked up isn’t it? That I’m more worried that David Attenborough has died than nuclear war has been declared, I think I’m more prepared for Nuclear War like it’s been coming for so long now that I’ve watched so many doomsday prepper videos and bought so much bottled water that it could happen tomorrow and I’d just be glad I was using real skills for a change and making cupboard space.

But it has been. Ever since 2016 started the collective reaction has been one long horror movie jump scare waiting to happen, the most recent one being everyone waking up and Donald Trump’s face being an inch away from our own. Life is terrifying enough without knowing that at any moment you could be assaulted from your TV screen by Trump’s tiny mouth and hands.

However that’s not what this blog is about. I was pretty sick last week, you know that already, and I didn’t have much access to technology while I was being a human cream eclair. Looking at my phone meant stabbing pains behind my eyes and you know what I discovered? Happiness. I spend my life being one mean internet comment away from tearing all my clothes off and screaming at vegetables in a supermarket so imagine my surprise when, after turning myself inside out, I felt relaxed. I spent the rest of last week smiling and laughing, making jokes, writing loads and generally being a much more pleasant person to be around. This on the week Trump won.

Then gradually it’s crept back in. Every time my phone goes I get chest pains, reading the news makes me sweat, shortness of breath when I log into Facebook and I’m not the only one that gets this. People all over the world are on the knife’s edge of panic. This is the reason we voted for Trump and Brexit, this all pervading fear that gets into the corners of our lives like the smell when a cat shits in it’s litter tray while you’re eating breakfast and you know that’s all you’ll be tasting the whole day. That fear is what’s made people do crazy things most people didn’t think would happen because they want something to change and would do anything just to feel anything other than terrified. It’s hard not to reference Hitler when mentioning what’s going on in the world and you guys get it so Hitler, it’s all Hitler.

The important thing to remember that the one thing Hitler did do was kill Hitler and we’ve got a president elect who might be the first world leader to accidentally assassinate himself. The upside to Trump is that this will be an end to all state secrets, anything important happening will immediately be announced on Twitter then denied on live TV and confirmed again in secret filming during him judging a porn film award ceremony. Also he might be the first president to take back 100% of their campaign promises which at least makes him consistent.

I want you to understand that in order to feel better I bought myself a knitted jumper. That’s where I’m at right now.

My first (proper) review 

Well Dark Times was a success. It was a big thing to do, booking out the Comedy Store and hoping we’d get enough people coming in to warrant something that grandiose. Thanks to everyone that came, it really meant a lot.

What we weren’t expecting was a reviewer. Normally with these things part of the process is inviting the press in to watch then using that press to get more people to future shows but this was an experimental one off and we didn’t want to have that added pressure. However a reviewer did come (secretly) and they totally got what we were aiming for with the show. I’ve been reviewed before but that was in my previous incarnation as a club comic who does normal comedy stuff, this was the first review of material I strongly believe in. Go check out the review here as they deserve the traffic for schlepping down to the Comedy Store on a Wednesday night for two comics they hadn’t heard of. Long story short the review is excellent and everyone had a good time and I’m bloody ecstatic that this wasn’t just me having a mid life crisis.

If you want to see what all the fuss is about Simon and I are at the New Mills Art theatre tomorrow (Saturday) here’s the link and I’m doing my solo show in Stoke next Friday  (18th) and tickets are here