Archive | December, 2010

What lies at the bottom of the ocean and twitches? A NERVOUS WRECK!!!

27 Dec

Originally posted at Three Blog Night.

So how was it, then? You know. That thing. That thing where we all celebrated the birth of a fat beardy guy in a red suit. Christmas. Mine was nice. I probably ate too much. I definitely drank too much. What did you get? I got drunk and novelty socks. Also books. Lots and lots of books. I think that my family are starting to begrudgingly accept that I’m a massive nerd. I didn’t really own books before. Now I definitely own books. Many, many books. What do you call a group of books? A murder or something isn’t it? That’s usually the answer. A murder. I got a murder of books. Maybe even a massacre. So many goddamn books. Goddamn love books though, damn it. Damn. God damn.

Here are some jokes:

Who’s the most famous married woman in the USA?
Mrs. Sippii!

Why don’t ducks tell jokes while they’re flying?
Because they would quack up!

How do snails keep their shells shiny?
They use snail varnish!

HAHAHA.

I didn’t write those. They were in our Christmas crackers. They’re hilarious because of the exclamation marks that they put on the end of the punchlines. Look at how hilarious this sentence is! And this one! Not this one though. This one’s Australian AND hilarious?!

Here are a few of my old jokes that will tragically never make it into any Christmas crackers because they lack enthusiastic punctuation, and also do not in any way follow the format of Christmas cracker jokes:

I bought my infinite number of monkeys some typewriters for Christmas. They mostly just pulled the keys off and shat on them.

The tension on this bus is so thick I could cut it with the large, blood-soaked axe that I have in my hand.

Snow is like a newborn baby: wondrous and beautiful at first, but then the novelty wears off and you just want to maim it with a shovel and throw salt at it.

I imagine that you will have already read those on twitter because I imagine that you read everything that I post on twitter. I imagine that whilst I’m lying in the foetal position naked, crying and clutching my laptop to my chest.

I should probably go and interact with the family now. Or at least put some clothes on. If I don’t write again before 2011: Happy New Year!

If I do write again before 2011 then I hope you have a miserable New Year.

In my next blog post I will go back to just swearing about things.

23 Dec

Originally posted at Three Blog Night.

My friend Tom wrote about mortality and the fleeting, fragile nature of human life in his first blog post last week because he likes to make really positive first impressions. It’s something that we used to talk about quite a lot when we were at sixth form together because we are both miserable old bastards. I mean, seriously. At 17 years of age we were both all, “OH GOD IT’S ALL GOING SO FAST MOST OF MY LIFE IS ALREADY OVER I’M NOT READY TO BE OLD YET.” How sickening is that? Now that I’m 20 and so genuinely can say that I’m really really old, it’s pretty offensive to think that a young person can claim to be. I guess sometimes people just don’t realise how ridiculous they sound.

Unexpectedly, though, over the last few days I’ve spent a significant amount of time thinking about this. The thing that Tom wrote about. If you follow me on twitter, you might know that my brothers’ dad died last Friday. I shan’t write about the loss specifically, because it’s an intensely personal thing and I prefer not to make the stuff that I put up here too personal, except to say that I didn’t know him particularly well, and that this is something that I regret and that I imagine I will regret increasingly as the shock wears off, but that I did know him, and I’m deeply saddened by his passing and by the profound effect that this has clearly had upon those that I’m close to, and that what happened on Friday hasn’t really sunk in yet.

When I was really little, I sort of thought that parents were these wise, all-knowing, indestructible entities that would be around forever. Just look at Bruce Forsyth. He’s a parent, and he’s never not existed. But as I got a bit older I started to realise that actually parents were, like, human. And wouldn’t be around forever. It’s a weird thing for a kid to realise, but I managed to take quite a lot of consolation in the understanding that I’d probably be a grown-up by the time I did eventually lose my mum, so I’d be okay because grown-ups don’t get upset about stuff. Because they’re grown-ups. I was terrible at spotting logical fallacies when I was 9 years old.

And now… well, I don’t feel like a grown-up yet. I’ve never even had a proper job. But I’m 20 now and I can see that it probably isn’t going to get any easier. My brothers are both in their thirties, and whilst the fact that it’s not a position in my life that’s ever been occupied means that I don’t imagine I’ll ever truly be able to appreciate what it must be like to lose a father, I can see how painful, difficult and overwhelming it is for them. The death of a parent must be an unfathomably awful thing to go through, irrespective of your age. The death of anyone is, of course. But I think that with a parent it’s almost like you’re losing a part of your past, or of yourself, because that person has played such an enormous role in shaping who you are. They’ve always been there. You lose a carer and a friend and a guide. And it’s frightening. My brothers’ loss was tragic and unexpected and cruelly premature and I hate that there’s nothing that I can do. We can hope and wish that the loss of a parent isn’t going to happen, or that it won’t happen in the foreseeable future, but it is completely out of our power. That inevitability of and powerlessness over death is one of the most fundamental things that I should ever need to accept and understand, and yet I’ve found it one of the hardest because I still have this childlike, optimistic world view that’s entirely at odds with it.

I don’t think that the deaths of people that I care about will become any easier to deal with as I get older. They’ll just become more frequent. Perhaps I’ll become steadily more cynical as a result. I hope that doesn’t happen, but I suppose everyone becomes more cynical as they get older. All I can really do is make the most of the time that I have with people, and of the fact that I’m still hopelessly idealistic, because neither of those things are going to last indefinitely. I think that it’s quite easy, when you’re still basically just a kid like I am and like everyone else who writes on this blog is, to forget how finite and delicate life is. Tom has reminders of this almost every day. I had my reminder on Friday.

You see what happens? Matt lets Tom start writing here and then it’s like a massive, fuck-off rain cloud immediately materialises over the whole goddamn blog. You know how sometimes you go to a party and the vibe’s fantastic and everyone’s laughing and talking and having an amazing time and then this guy that everyone hates shows up and shits on the kitchen floor and everyone starts crying? No? That’s because you don’t know Tom.

Actually I would probably make a terrible builder.

17 Dec

Originally posted at Three Blog Night.

I’m going to write about the last few days because if I don’t write about the last few days then I probably won’t write about anything for months again. The last few days were significant because I, like, went outside. A long way away from my house. For ages. And didn’t even take my laptop with me. I felt naked.

Mostly because I also did not wear any clothes.

On Tuesday I went to London for another Talkfest – a festive edition of the science blogging thingy that I went to in July. It was a last minute decision. I mean, really last minute… I live in Derbyshire, the thing started at 6.30pm and I decided at 2pm that actually I’d quite like to go. If deciding at fairly short notice that you might like to attend an event where people talk about science blogging for 2 hours and then go to the pub isn’t living on the edge, I really don’t know what is. I got there over an hour later than planned because public transport systems are universally run by gigantacunts that hate me, and also because although I made sure that I knew that the event was definitely taking place in London, I forgot that actually London is quite big and there are a lot of buildings in which the event could conceivably have been hosted. But I did find it, all on my own. Well, all on my own with help from people on twitter and also Google but they are The Internet so do not count. Talkfest was brilliant and interesting and terrifying. I always find myself feeling simultaneously inspired, over-awed and inadequate at these sort of events because all of the people that attend are, like, scary-clever. I’d quite like to do what they do, but I’m an idiot so I don’t expect that I ever will. There’s a massive disparity between what I really want to do after I’ve left university and what I’m realistically capable of. I said in my last blog post that I was thinking about becoming a builder but bricks are quite heavy so I might have to reassess.

After Talkfest my friend Della, one of the scary-clever people, let me sleep on her sofa and fed me toast. I’ve made it sound like she was grooming me now. She wasn’t. She’s very nice. And now that I’m 20 I don’t think that it’s really called grooming anymore. I spent most of Wednesday pissing about with my friend Pria and complaining about things, and then we met up with a couple of others, Tom and Lee, to go and see Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People. I really, really love these gigs. I went last year and I hope that Robin Ince puts them on again next year. I won’t be able to do them justice if I try to write about them here, but they are an absolute joy and if you ever get chance then you should definitely go to one. It’s heartening that such an unusual, brilliant and unashamedly nerdy gig can attract such large audiences, and Robin Ince should be lauded for these shows. Or canonised. Or both.

On the way out of the theatre, whilst debating whether or not to go to the pub, we bumped into showbiz uber-nerd Matt Parker who was going to the pub. So we decided to go to the pub. I have met Matt on 4 occasions and each time I have either been in a pub, or on my way to a pub, or not initially on my way to a pub but subsequently persuaded to go to a pub. He thinks that I am an alcoholic. But he has been publicly, willingly and enthusiastically touching another man’s groin in 25% of the instances that I have been in his company. Everyone has their crutches.

I am not going to provide any context to the groin thing.

Oh, and before Godless I bought wine in a pub for the first time. I’ve had wine in pubs a couple of times before, but someone else always bought it for me because I’m a freeloading student and sometimes people buy drinks for me out of pity. The stuff that I bought was cheap wine in a cheap student pub. But still. I bought wine in a pub like what the posh do. So the next day I ate in McDonald’s twice to add credence my continued and increasingly desperate assertions that I’m not becoming middle-class.

I’m fucking not.

Speaking of which, I stayed at Pria’s house after Godless and when her mum offered me tea I almost had a panic attack because she asked what sort of tea I wanted. I mean, brown? I couldn’t just ask for brown tea, could I? I don’t know. I’ve heard of green tea, and then there’s the brown stuff what milk goes in. I like the brown tea. But she didn’t just say, “do you want the green tea or the brown stuff what the milk goes in?” I think she saw how terrified I was because then she just asked whether English breakfast was okay and I was a bit confused because it was 12pm which seemed a bit late for breakfast but I said yes anyway and it was okay because I think it was just a posh name for the normal brown tea what milk goes in.

Being middle-class must be so confusing. So many decisions about which beverages to spend all of your millions of pounds on.

Did I mention that I have absolutely no knowledge or understanding of the class system?

Don’t pretend like you didn’t miss me.

13 Dec

Originally posted at Three Blog Night.

It’s been over 2 months since I last wrote something here. I feel negligent (I don’t) and I’m sorry (I’m not), but I’ve been really busy (I haven’t. Well, I have. I don’t know why I told you that I hadn’t, really. I’m just feeling particularly contrary today. [I’m not.]). Lots has happened. I’m not going to write about most of it. Briefly: I started my second year of university, and was perpetually tired. I am home for Christmas now because Oxford terms are 72 hours long. I am still tired.

When I’m in Oxford, I live in college accommodation. This is because my college is one of the few big enough to accommodate everyone for the entirety of their degree, and also because if I avoid stuff like organising my own electricity bills and dealing with landlords then I can pretend that I’m not perilously close to becoming an adult. Which I’m not, so that’s good. College accommodation is of variable quality – universally more than adequate, but some of the finalists and people that are more actively involved in college politics (those infuriating young people that, y’know, actually care about stuff) have shiny new rooms with en-suites and wi-fi. I have a bed, a carpet, a window, a sink, a door… it’s nice. Incidentally, I was talking to someone a few weeks ago who said that he’d lived in an apartment that was really nice, apart from the fact that it didn’t have a door. It might just be that the Oxbridge has gone to my head and I’ve become really spoilt and middle-class, but I think that a door’s pretty essential. It’s like saying, “I have this beautiful new place. Fantastic neighbours, lovely area… I mean, obviously it’s got no roof. And they forgot to put one of the walls in. But apart from that, it’s great.” He writes for the guardian though, so maybe doorless housing is some weird New Age shit that I’m not clued up on yet. Like houmous.

Where I live, I have my own room, and then I share a bathroom and kitchen with 6 others. I think this is pretty much standard as far as student accommodation goes, and it’s nice. I get to live with lots of other young people. Nice. Always people to talk to. Nice. Social. Nice. And I suppose that really all of this is just a round-about way of saying that young people are absolute cunts to live with. When I first arrived at the beginning of term, I noticed 2 signs that someone had written; one in the kitchen saying, “DO NOT UNPLUG THE FRIDGE!!!!” and another in the bathroom that said, “PLEASE PLACE USED PAPER DOWN THE TOILET AND FLUSH AFTER USE”. I laughed when I read these. What a funny joke! It’s funny because this is the University of Oxford but they’re pretending that the people here need shouty prompts to leave electrical equipment plugged in if they want them to work, or to put their shit-rags down the toilet and then flush to make them disappear. Funny! Ha ha ha!

I lament my naivety.

£3,260 per year, I am beginning to realise, is not enough to cover the cost of common sense. Maybe this will be sorted out now that our Tory government has properly fucked us over. Maybe that’s the big plan. Maybe the hike in tuition fees is so that our universities can afford to teach young people that YOU SHOULD MAKE SURE THAT YOU HAVE FLUSHED THE TOILET PROPERLY AFTERWARDS IF YOU ARE GOING TO DO A MASSIVE POO.

I’m not difficult to live with. At least, I don’t think that I am. And I’m a remarkably patient person. But communal student living has triggered the development of my severe and debilitating phobia of plugholes. Everyone that uses our shower has dark hair, which means that the bathroom plughole is like a black hole of matted dread, absorbing all light, hope and small organisms that hit it. And I think that my neighbours are (successfully) trying to use the kitchen sink plughole to develop biological weapons. Christ, the kitchen. There’s an impressive level of skill in the ability of some of my neighbours to not only stack 3 weeks’ worth of dirty crockery without causing the pile to topple, but to remove and wash only the item that they need from that pile and then put it back on top afterwards. It’s like they’re playing a game of lonely Jenga, but with enhanced risks of breakage and dysentery. AND THE FRIDGE! Things happen in there that I didn’t even know were possible, but that must definitely never be talked about. Someone kept an opened tin of tuna somewhere in the back of there for most of the last term, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to be the person to reach in and try to remove it because people have lost limbs that way. So it sat there for weeks, festering. I don’t know why I’m using the past tense. It was still there when I left just over a week ago; maybe it still is. I have seen milk solidify. I have seen yellow cheese become blue cheese. Nobody should ever have to see the things that I have seen. This must be exactly what ‘nam was like.

So, I’ve told you about how I lived in a building for a couple of months. What else? I’ve spent most of the past 9 weeks failing to find myself a project or supervisor for next year. I went to London a few times. I saw some comedy. People in Oxford keep telling me that I should try doing stand-up comedy. I think that the last few weeks have ensured that my mind is broken enough for me to be a comedian, but I also think that the fact that I’m remarkably unfunny would hold me back a little if I were to take that career path. In fact, I might go as far as to say that an ability to say funny things would be vital. But I don’t think that I’ll be able to be a scientist either, because I can’t do science. Nor a writer, evidently. I’m thinking about becoming a builder. I think I’d make a good builder because I really like tea. And bricks. Fucking love bricks.

It’s 5am. I should sleep more.

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