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.

eff3f24d6b52021813c819b79fcb2888

(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.

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.

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.