Breaking up for Xmas at my old school.

As we all start getting ourselves into the festive spirit, yes even miserable bastards like me, but mainly as there’s a lot of wine around, I can’t help but reminiscing about my school days. Particularly the last secondary school. I remember gearing up in a similar way but obviously much earlier as we got closer to breaking up for the Xmas holidays. The school was a pretty dire one where survival for the teachers as well as us was above education.
I commented on a friends wall yesterday about bunking off school and it prompted me to comment about my days attending the school, (or mainly not as it happens) there were many fights with teachers which could clearly be seen from the playground as we all looked on laughing as the desks went flying as if they were positioning themselves in some sort of threatening display before actual contact. It would usually end with another teacher rushing in to break it up.
Hardly any of us wore the school uniform, I had a gold satin jacket which was the same as the one Adam Faith wore in the tv series ‘Budgie’ whch I loved at the time.
The staff teachers were almost entirely made up from temporary ones which never stayed long. On one occasion a very old gentleman dressed in a tweed suit arrived, having come out of retirement for some reason. He had a beautiful English upper class accent and sounded to us like Royalty. He was so out of place in a school located smack bang in the middle of one of the roughest council estates in the UK. He must have been well over 75. Of course we all knew he would be lucky to last a week. As it happens I think it was one day when he walked out after calling the register and someone had neatly laid a turd inside the first page, which someone had retrieved from following the school caretaker’s dog. When he opened it, he stood up quite authoritively and shouted ‘WHO did this?) much laughter ensued, this school was totally out of control. In unison the class shouted “REX!” He immediately walked out and was never seen again. I remember this mainly because we were swiftly marched onto the next lesson which was history, a subject I actually enjoyed. The history teacher had been there the longest and had become THE target as we tried ever harder to oust him. (We were evil fuckers) As he tried desperately to control the class, he would get louder and louder until he turned around and shouted “Look, ALL you lot have to do, is directly copy exactly WORD for WORD what I am writing on the blackboard and next year you WILL have at least ONE exam pass, so do yourselves a favour and GET WRITING!” The class went silent, then a rubber hit the blackboard. He turned around sensing that he might still have an element of control, he again shouted, “The next person who throws another rubber will get this one back!” He then waved the blackboard rubber. Now anyone who went to school in the 70s will know blackboard rubbers were about 6″ long by about 3″ thick and made mostly of wood. He turned around and continued chalking up what he was himself, copying directly from a history book, he continued, seconds later I threw a rubber which hit him in his ear, he immediately turned around and true to his word, threw the backboard rubber at me, it hit me hard on my forehead. Bang, the class went quiet. The only sound was the tap, tap and scratching noise of his chalk on the blackboard. I must admit I was a little startled and shocked, as was the class, then I noticed the blood dripping down onto my desk. I shouted ‘Whooa!” the whole class gasped. More silence as the teacher continued chalking away, tap tap, scratch scratch, no doubt pleased he had at last gained control. Someone spoke up, “Sir, he’s bleeding!” The teacher turned around with a look of horror on his face, that actually scared me more! He came over and said “Oh god, come with me to the back room, I’ll fix you up” Going to the back room with a teacher was always a source of ridiculing from fellow pupils at this school but I was now bleeding quite profusely so went along. Once inside, he closed the door behind me, he ran the tap and soaked a peice of cloth I remember. He bathed it and after a litte silence he said “It’s OK, it looks worse than it is, you’ll be fine…And I’m sorry”. All sorts of stuff was racing around my mind, ‘I deserved it, it was fair play’, then he said “You’re not going to tell anyone are you?” Immediately I was thinking how I could capitalise on my unfortunate circumstances, but by this stage I began to feel sorry for him. I must have taken too long to answer him as he then reached for his pocket and pulled out a ten bob note, he handed it to me slowly not knowing my reaction and repeated “You’re not going to tell the headmaster are you, I would get into a lot of trouble” Now ten bob was a lot of money in 1973! I gingerly took it and replied “No, I’m fine”, “Good lad” He smiled. He put a large plaster over the cut. We left the backroom and got back to work where to my surprise everyone had actually copied all what the teacher wrote on the balckboard! I like to think I took one for the team that day, we all passed history the following year!
Anyway, back to that day. I kept my word and did not go to the headmaster. I got home and watched the normal kids TV stuff, I think I remember ‘Magpie’ it was the ‘alternative’ to the established ‘Blue Peter’. Ever the rebel eh? Then my mother came home from work. She was a single parent as my father had died a few years before so had to work. When she got home she pounced on me! “What is THAT on your head? What have you done?” “Nothing, it’s fine” “It’s not fine, what happened? “The teacher threw a blackboard rubber at me” “WHAT! Right I’m having tomorrow off and going in to your school!” “But mum!” “No buts, he’s not getting away with this!” There was no stopping her, she was fiercely protective. I wondered how this was going to unfold, was I going to have to give the ten shillings back? Not gonna happen I thought, anyway I’d already bought a few packs of cigarettes which I had planned to re-sell at school.
So off she went, she had a real pop at the headmaster as I stood there “Look at his head, I sent him here for an education!” Oh mum I thought, this was the last place for that! Anyway he profusely apologised and she seemed happy. I went to my class and everything went back to normal. Well that was until our next history lesson, the teacher looked at me angrily as we went in. After class he pulled me aside, “I thought you weren’t going to tell the headmaster?” I paused for effect, “I didn’t” He looked perplexed, “But, but” I interupted “You never mentioned not telling my mother”. I’m sure I detected a look of suprise with a tinge of respect on his face. Fair play. Then we broke up for the Xmas break…
What did we do when we bunked off? That’s another story altogether!

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The Wall of Death.

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Anybody remember these fucking things? The Wall of Death I think they called them. I know I do. In 1974 myself and a couple of buddies bunked off school and went to Dreamland in Margate. They had one of these fucking things there at the time so we thought it a great idea to have a go. I remember the feeling of excitement as the thing started to spin. The feeling just before the floor dropped away was, well, something else. The weird thing was though, was that as we spun the guy dead opposite me seemed dead still, I thought it an odd sensation, then as we spun even faster, still the chap opposite me seemed to not be moving at all, I guess relative to me, he wasn’t, then the floor dropped away and there we were, all glued to the side. I kept looking at the chap opposite me, he kept sliding down to almost at right angles to the guy next door to him. That guy had a look of such terror on his face, his eyes looked like they were going to pop right out of his head, his stare unnerved me, the other guy was by now completely sideways on the the guy next him, still, he kept looking at me, he seemed to be trying to tell me something and for a moment I thought I detected a sort of nodding motion, such that he could do while his head was stuck against the wall but somehow I understood him. He was definitely trying to tell me about the guy next to me, I tried really hard to move my head but couldn’t quite turn it far enough but by almost forcing my eyes at a weird angle I was able to see enough to see the vomit that was now streaking its way from the guy’s mouth next to me and getting ever closer to my face! So now I looked terrified too. The bastard opposite me was now laughing his fucking head off! I on the other hand was desperately trying to avoid the guy’s sick next to me! Whilst I’m sure it was a ride I would have enjoyed, it was rather spoilt somewhat by this guy’s vomit. But he wasn’t alone, about 70% of people were sick too! Then what seemed like a fucking eternity the thing started to slow down and the floor came up. Once it stopped, many were actually upside down and collapsed in a heap. Never again…Fucking things.

Yes, I was a Yuppie!

Back in the Thatcher years, I will openly admit I was a ‘Yuppie’, we were all earning lots of money, you could earn a small fortune sweeping the streets in those days. My computer business was really working out. I was a member of a lot of business clubs, large mortgage, we ate out an awful lot, holidays etc. I was also a member of the local Conservative club. Life in those heady and busy days was good. Of course, we all knew it couldn’t last, it was an economic bubble that we all knew would ultimately burst. But, we milked it while we could. We all did. We were shamelessly and positively, encouraged to be greedy, so I didn’t think much about who it was hurting at the time, I was young, eager, and determined to carve out a ‘succesfull career’, I was also pretty thoughtless.
Now, I am a long way from what I used to be and I’m much more content.
So what changed? Well a lot, much more than I can even begin to say here, but one occurence I remember vividly that was the starting point, a new beginning if you like. It was 1990 and Margaret Thatcher was still prime minister, just. I was visiting a client in central London to discuss some potential new business and as they had ordered a new large 24″ VDU monitor from us, I said I’d take it with me to deliver. The monitor packaging was very large and the box it came in was enormous so I had to leave the car and take the van. In anycase, somewhat arrogantly, I thought it was worth showing up myself for such a large and prestigeous client.
When I arrived I parked up at the clients premises in a pre-arranged parking place then walked into reception and asked the receptionist if there was a wheel barrow to lug the monitor in with, no sooner had I said that when a guy in a boiler suit appeared from nowhere and handed me one. This guys job was literally just to wait at reception and help people who needed assistance, sometimes he would do nothing all day, such was the financial situation in those days, there was so much money flying around, the cost didn’t matter. As I took the barrow I passed a homeless guy huddled into a doorway which was no longer used. He was sitting on a piece of cardboard and I remembered thinking, how did a piece of cardboard help protect him from the freezing ground, it was bitterly cold. I was completely ignoring the fact that, that was all he had in the world. In my own ‘comfortable’ world I could not comprehend his situation. After all, anyone could earn enough to live surely? I mean, something, anything, but surely enough? After all, if I could, then anyone could. I remember feeling it was so cold I couldn’t feel my fingers in the short time it had taken me to get from my car to the reception area, I looked at this guy who looked straight back at me, his eyes drilled so deep into mine. I nodded, he nodded back. I continued on to retrieve the VDU from the van. When I got the VDU monitor loaded onto the barrow, I walked passed the homeless guy again, he piped up, “Please?” he said, I rushed by feeling uncomfortable but I stopped, I looked in my pocket for any cash I had, I had no change, only had a £5 note so selfishly, I hung on to it, I moved on not looking back. I delivered the monitor to the customer and had a fruitful meeting where much food was laid on and consumed. The meeting concluded with a nice bit of business that was promised to come our way. I departed the meeting feeling cock a hoop.
Then I realised, I’d have to walk past the homeless guy again. As I was in such a positive mood, I suddenly thought, £5 was nothing compared to the business I was just promised, I was even then thinking in relative terms of my own situation, I was by far better off than this poor homeless chap, but still, my first thought going into the meeting was to hang on to my hard earnt £5. (Which actually wasn’t hard earnt at all) As I got closer, I dug out the £5 from my pocket and handed it to him, he reluctantly held out his hand which suprised me, I thought he would be snatching it from me before I changed my mind. It was almost as if he knew I didn’t really want to give it to him, then he said “Thanks a lot mate” and again, somewhat reluctantly, he took the £5. I couldn’t help myself but continue to look at him as I walked away, but he kept looking at the box I had taken away to dump in the nearby bins. Suddenly, he said “The box” he looked at the £5 then directly looking into my eyes again, he offered the £5 back to me, he said again, “Please mate? The box”. Then it hit me, there I was, feeling cock a hoop and smug at the business I had just secured, but my world was a very long way from his, whatever caused him to be in the situation he was in, may not have been his fault and even if it was, getting out of it was very difficult to almost impossible, he couldn’t get a job, no one then at least would employ anyone who had no living address, much less a shave and decent clothing. But, ALL this guy wanted was the fucking box just to keep warm, and he was prepared to give the £5 back for it too, by then I actually wanted to give him more but I didn’t have any. I realised of course, this guy had me bang to rights. I got it. It hit me. And that, right there was the start of a change in me that has continued…

Martin’s fucking cooking ‘Tip ‘o’ the Day’

Right my cullinary klingons! We’ve all shed the tears while chopping onions right? Well here’s todays tip to wipe your eyes.
What you’ll need:
1 x tablesppon of oil
1 x Red pepper
1 x Green pepper
1/4 cup of rasberry juice
1/4 cup of Ribena
Chopping board. That’s ‘chopping’ board not ‘coping’ board, we could all do with one of those couldn’t we? I know I could! Haha.
Sharp knife
1 chunky Band Aid plaster. (It doesn’t have to be ‘Band Aid’ but I used that because I’m hoping this post might go viral and I might get some advertising revenue from it and also so as indicate clearly that I meant a plaster and not plastic)
A suitable book or mag.

OK we’ve all done it, we’re chopping away at an onion and the tears start to flow.
Note: The tears aren’t always because of the onion and the onion can mask the real reasons rather conveniently but that’s maybe for another post. Anyway, on with the show as they say haha!
Place pan on hob and heat oil.
So, as you’re chopping away and thinking what a fucking car crash your life is and how you fucked up pretty much everything you’ve ever done, as well as your career which isn’t even worthy of the word as you career through life from one self inflicted crisis to another, one crap job to another and a trail of failed relationships behind you accompanied by all sorts of mental issues you’ve created for yourself, yes, the tears will usually flow, oh wait, I’ve digressed a bit haven’t I…?
Where was I…Oh yes so, now mix the rasberry juice and Ribena together then set aside for later use.
Place book or mag under your jumper/shirt or blouse.
Proceed to chop the red pepper into slices and about half way through, pour the rasberry/Ribena mix over the pepper, chopping board and a splash over the knife for good effect.
Next, make an ear piercing scream ‘AAAARRGGGHHH!!’ At this point someone will come running into the kitchen to see what the fuss is about. Hold your finger with the other hand making sure it is covered with the rasberry/Ribena mix. This should give enough indication that you have badly cut yourself. Tell the person it’s just a nick and you’ll just go to the bathroom to clean it up but as with all cooking skills, timing is everything and that the onion needs chopping and put into the pan as soon as possible, so would they mind doing it for you? (Make this more of a command than a request if you can) This ruse never fails, unless you are unfortunate enough to have that spouse or friend who gloates over any injury you ever suffer from and will stick to you like glue until the bleeding stops so as to gain as much gloating as possible, but this is rare, meanwhile you rush off to the bathroom and sort out the fake wound. Rinse hand under the tap and apply ‘Band Aid’ plaster. Retrieve the book and read to pass the time. When you’re sure enough time has passed for the onion to be chopped, re-emerge from the bathroom proudly displaying a covered wound and that all is well again and you can now take over.
Job done. You’re welcome. 🙂

Grandparenting. (The wrong way)

So the grandchildren are over for a sleepover. Great. Having given up trying to watch a documentary, I thought I may as well give in and try and involve myself, which was probably better than giving them the knives and needles to play with that I had in mind. Anyway, granddson was getting really energetic, (to the point that made me jealous I’ll admit) but it was quite trying so I tried really hard to think of something that would divert his energy. As he appeared to be mimiking ‘Batman’ I seized my moment. I proudly announced, (And somewhat optimistically) ‘Did you know in my young days, I WAS Batman?’ I was right, he stopped dead in his tracks. His sister, who was up till then getting up to god knows what arty farty stuff in the kitchen with her grandmother with paint and shit and stuff splashed every fucking where and looked like something fucking Banksy could shred a fucking million for or who Damien Hurst would be proud of, suddenly stopped and started listening at the mere word of ‘Batman’! Honestly, you could see it clear as day all over their faces, ‘Granddad was BATMAN?’. She too came running into the lounge leaving poor old grandma wondering what the fuck it was that was so interesting that facillitated said grandaughter to leave post haste for the lounge. To their moany old GRANDFATHER! So, there they were, both staring up at me in sheer wonder, I had to admit, I thought I got this in the bag, I said with a cough and a blink, ‘Yes I was indeed Batman! But I am old now, I don’t care to meet with the ‘Joker’ or the ‘Penguin’ any longer, anyway, I don’t need to, they’re locked up. And good job too I say!’ A moment of silence, ‘But Granddad? he was only locked up last week, I know, I saw it on TV’. Fucking smart arse. I was rumbled, I had to think quick, I just said ‘Well, that may be so, maybe it’s the Joker’s son’. Of course, this was crap but it was all I could think of, cos the little bright buggers usually outwit me anyway and they’re oh, so fucking quick! I continued, ‘I can assure you, (desperately) I WAS Batman (now sweating profusely) AND…I have a photo of when I WAS Batman to prove it.’ It’s weird isn’t it? How young children can portray that same look, the same look as adults do when the smell bullshit, you know, when we rub our chin or squint the eyes? Children can do this with just the smallest movement of their eyes, no hand movements, just the eyes. I was fucked and the only thing that ran through my mind at that exact moment was how the fuck I’d managed to convince their mother that father fucking christmas ever existed I’ll never know. But then, maybe they weren’t convinced either and it was me who had been strung along all those years. ‘Dad’s filling the stockings now, just keep quiet’. Anyway I digress, they both left for the kitchen, obviously unconvinced, but my pride was at stake, I was now on a mission, I KNOW, I HAVE that fucking photo somewhere from the newspaper reporter who took a picture in 1969 in our street, when I was 8 years old and sporting a fabulous and time consuming made Batman costume mother made me, equalled only by my trusty friend and neighbour (also 8 years old and partner in anti crime) doning his ‘Robin’ costume made by his mother also and of the time when the front page headline was ‘Batman and Robin’ come to Medway to protect us’…So I’m now desperately searching for that fucking photo to show them, cos I can see the fucking doubt written all over their faces as they look back at their granddad, or rather Batman, cracking open yet another beer…Bam! Pow! Zoinks! Biff! Kaphut! Poof! Wham! Fuckit…I’m done.

I’ve done it again!

So a friend posted as her status something about how some women like oral sex and some don’t. (Yeah, I know right?) A quick scan of comments told me immediately, it was very much a female thread, humourous in places but mostly quite serious, I noted however, no males had commented, so I thought best to stay away. At this point, I had opened another tab with Facebook open on that too, so I had two tabs open, on one tab was this status (Oral sex) and on the other tab was a status I was about to comment on. This friend’s status was about how he had found himself and his partner at a couple of new friend’s house, who had invited them to dinner. My friend is a vegetarian and upon arrival he was told ‘We have prepared a special meal for us all, you’re not vegetarians I hope?’ (Laughing) My friend had replied ‘Haha no…’ Then ran to the bathroom and posted this, ‘OMG! I am at a friend’s house and they’ve cooked a venison stew! What the fuck do I do?’ I jumped in with my usual humour knowing he would take my comment in the way it was intended, so I posted, ‘Just swallow the meat and shut the fuck up!’ Then I followed it up with a ‘smiley face’.

I don’t know who was the more shocked, the woman who posted the status about the oral sex where I had just posted my comment, or me!

Posting the comments on the wrong persons thread is happening at an ever increasing and alarming rate. Fuck social media and fuck growing old…!

Grumpy Granddad

So the grandchildren are over for a sleepover. Oh deep joy. Having given up trying to watch a documentary, I thought I may as well give in and try and involve myself, which was probably better than giving them the knives and needles to play with that I had in mind. Anyway, granddson was getting really energetic, (to the point that made me jealous I’ll admit) but it was quite trying so I tried really hard to think of something that would divert his energy. As he appeared to be mimiking ‘Batman’ I seized my moment. I proudly announced, (And somewhat optimistically) ‘Did you know in my young days, I WAS Batman?’ I was right, he stopped dead in his tracks. His sister, who was up till then getting up to god knows what arty farty stuff in the kitchen with her grandmother with paint and shit and stuff splashed every fucking where and looked like something fucking Banksy could shred a fucking million for or who Damien Hurst would be proud of, suddenly stopped and started listening at the mere word of ‘Batman’! Honestly, you could see it clear as day all over their faces, ‘Granddad was BATMAN?’. She too came running into the lounge leaving poor old grandma wondering what the fuck it was that was so interesting that facillitated said grandaughter to leave post haste for the lounge. To their GRANDFATHER! (Affectionately known as grumpy)

So, there they were, both staring up at me in sheer wonder, I had to admit, I thought I got this in the bag, I said with a cough and a blink, ‘Yes I was indeed Batman! But I am old now, I don’t care to meet with the ‘Joker’ or the ‘Penguin’ any longer, anyway, I don’t need to, they’re locked up. And good job too I say!’ A moment of silence, ‘But Granddad? he was only locked up last week, I know, I saw it on TV’. Fucking smart arse. I was rumbled, I had to think quick, I just said ‘Well, that may be so, maybe it’s the Joker’s son’. Of course, this was crap but it was all I could think of, cos the little bright buggers usually outwit me anyway and they’re oh, so fucking quick! I continued, ‘I can assure you, (desperately) I WAS Batman (now sweating profusely) AND…I have a photo of when I WAS Batman to prove it.’ It’s weird isn’t it? How young children can portray that same look, the same look as adults do when they smell bullshit, you know, when we rub our chin or squint the eyes? Children can do this with just the smallest movement of their eyes, no hand movements, just the eyes. I was fucked and the only thing that ran through my mind at that exact moment was how the fuck I’d managed to convince their mother that father fucking christmas ever existed I’ll never know. But then, maybe they weren’t convinced either and it was me who had been strung along all those years. ‘Dad’s filling the stockings now, just keep quiet’. Anyway I digress, they both left for the kitchen, obviously unconvinced, but my pride was at stake, I was now on a mission, I KNOW, I HAVE that fucking photo somewhere from the newspaper reporter who took a picture in 1969 in our street, when I was 8 years old and sporting a fabulous and time consumingly made Batman costume mother made me, equalled only by my trusty friend and neighbour (also 8 years old and partner in anti crime) doning his ‘Robin’ costume made by his mother also and of the time when the front page headline was ‘Batman and Robin’ come to Medway to protect us’…So I’m now desperately searching for that fucking photo to show them, cos I can see the fucking doubt written all over their faces as they look back at their granddad, or rather Batman, cracking open yet another beer…Bam! Pow! Zoinks! Biff! Kaphut! Poof! Wham! Fuckit…I’m done.

Some dream!

So, I had a dream last night. I entered the kitchen to greet our adorable beagle ‘Woody’ as I do every morning after his night of slumber, (dreaming of catching those pesky pheasants no doubt) I expected him to do what he usually does and jump up excitedly, running round my legs in a lovely show of affection, being so pleased so see me again. Only this time I was confronted by a little black dalek! Yes, a fucking little black dalek!! The dalek (aka Woody) was still jumping up affectionately as ever but instead of wagging his tail, one of his arm things (The exterminator arm not the sink plunger one) was wagging profusely up and down. Obviously, I was a little taken aback but soon calmed down when it became clear this was, in fact, still Woody in everything but………..Well, a dog.
As he would wag his tail (the real Woody that is) he would clumsily knock things about like cups and things that his tail came into contact with along with a banging noise whenever it hit the kitchen furniture or doors. These actions had now translated into the dalek firing off bursts of fire from his exterminator arm! Suddenly, I felt a sense of urgency as I tried to calm him down.
Next it was walk time. I strapped his brace on whilst looking at the round burnt spots on the wall the size of footballs thinking how the fuck do I explain this away. After a few adjustments I was surprised to find the brace still fitted, then clipped the 30ft running lead on so he could still walk, even run a bit (Or whatever daleks do) while I still had him under some sort of restraint. (I couldn’t let him loose could I, he’s a fucking dalek)
As soon as we got outside the house there were the usual bunch of pheasants and again, as usual, he would run amongst them with no other thought in his head other than ‘Kill’ Kill’ Kill’. Only this time all I could hear was ‘Exterminate! Exterminate! Exterminate!’ Of course, he never killed any, he never does, the pheasants are too clever for even him. The neighbour came running out threatening to call the military shouting something about an invasion which he said he knew was coming from his ham radio station. I explained it was Woody and not a dalek but clearly, he wasn’t convinced. He ran back inside and came out with a shot gun and bands of bullets strapped over both shoulders. By this point, I was beginning to wonder what fucking planet I was on! I stood there transfixed as I watched him hurriedly load gun like Arnie did in the film the ‘Terminator’, with the throwing of the shotgun forward while holding the grip type action. He shouted ‘Stand clear! I’ll nail that bastard!’ I remember thinking this normally placid, elderly neighbour who loved nothing but gardening was suddenly an arms expert? Obviously, Woody saw what he was up to and promptly exterminated him on the spot before he got a chance to pull the trigger. There was a flash, a buzzing sound and a puff of smoke as poor old ‘Bob’ (Name changed) was nothing more than a pile of dust on the ground which the wind blew away almost as instantaneously as Woody had blown him away only a second before.
For all this, the little black dalek was still as cute as the real thing. That’s Woody I mean not a dalek!
Then I woke up, wondered what the fuck had just happened and you know, when you have a dream but not quite awake enough to actually know for sure it WAS a dream? I went downstairs. Still half asleep, I somewhat reluctantly opened the kitchen door, I saw his nose and heard the familiar sound of his tail knocking the cupboard door, to my relief there was our adorable beagle Woody and yes, he was still a beagle.
I really think I may be going quite mad, but it is, arguably, an improvement to when I dreamt my wife, Anne (Name changed) had turned into a polythene storage box with legs, what the fuck was that all about……………………???

Woody.

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Definitely NOT Woody.

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DiY

My DiY efforts when not acting.
Just putting a bathroom cabinet up. It’s only a small cabinet and just two screws and it’s on the wall. I am though, still nervous. The last time I did any DiY was when renovating the derelict property we bought on the coast. I had seriously got my work cut out, or rather the work cut out me as it happens. it was uninhabitable, with only one cold pipe coming out the wall in the room that was once a kitchen of sorts, a 1930s bolier thing that looked like something out of the Wizard of Oz with big yellow signs all over it saying ‘Condemned’. The back door had half rotted away and the electric consumer box was under a foot of water for the last 30 years. The square 6ft window in the hall midway up the stairs was non existent and the weather had come in for decades resulting in most of the plaster off the walls everywhere. There was all sorts of botanical growths in the walls, so much so I half expected David Bellamy to poke his head out saying ‘Let’s have a little wummage around here!’. There was a room but no bath and half the wall was missing exposing the outside. There were four other bedrooms to sort equally as bad as the kitchen and a balcony that had seemingly turned to balsa wood.

Injuries.

The injuries ranged from Helen stepping on a 3″ screw where the head had become trapped in between the floorboards leaving the screw pointing upwards, Helen had stepped on it on her way to the bathroom in the middle of the night (I had installed one by then) and that’s when I heard the screams. The bedroom door burst open which kinda woke me up a little, she came hopping into the bedroom shouting something about being half crucified, still half asleep, I thought that was some fucking weird dream! When I came to I examined the foot. I couldn’t see any screw, I could see a spot or something but no screw. ‘Are you sure’ I said. ‘Course I’m fucking sure!’ I looked closer. It had gone right up to its head. ‘Ermmmmm…Yeah I think I found it, it can’t be much I’ve only used those 1″ screws yesterday, shouldn’t be too hard to get it out’ I was trying to reassure her knowing full well I had used 3″ screws. I said ‘This might hurt a bit’, ‘Well it can’t stay there!’ I tried to pull it out but it wouldn’t budge. I said ‘look, it’s not gonna pull out I’m gonna have to get it out the same way it went in’. ‘Do whatever’ she said. So, with screwdriver in hand I proceeded to ‘unscrew’ it from her foot. Helen yelped at every turn. ‘It’s no use, the quickest way is gonna be with the electric screwdriver, it’ll be quicker!’ ‘Ooookkkkaaaayyyy’ came a nervous reply, a quick flick of the switch, a little yelp and it was out. Hardly any blood either. Anyway, happily, that all healed up with no after effects, except perhaps Helen putting on her boots when going to the bathroom.
On another occasion, it was a gloriously hot day and on these occasions we would be on the beach just in front of the garden and have a barbecue. As everyone was carting stuff to the beach I was in the front garden just finishing up some DiY. As they walked past my daughter said ‘Aren’t you coming?’ ‘Yes, I’m just gonna finish sawing this last plank up and I’ll be there’. As it was hot, I had shorts and wore sandals! With my right foot firmly on the wood to hold it still, I sawed away. (I know right, holding the wood with your fucking foot!) On the last downward thrust of the saw it slipped. I don’t remember much pain but I remembered looking down at what was once my big toe and was now a hoof! I had sawn right down the center of the toe down to the knuckle. I jumped (Hopped) and called for help. By that time there was blood everywhere. First our neighbour came on the scene, she took one look and said ‘Christ! I’ll get help’and left, I never saw her again for days! Pippin, our dog arrived on the scene next, I looked on in astonishment as he promptly started to lick the bits of flesh still present on the saw. Mans best friend my arse! I was sitting down and kicked him with my other foot, he just looked back at me enough to say ‘What’. At that point Emily (Daughter) turned up, took one look and said ‘I’ll get mum’. Helen turned up and helped me inside. ‘You’re gonna have to get that sorted right away.’ I should point out here that I am not given to going to hospitals as up to then, everyone I had ever visited seemed to have died so I am extremely reluctant to go there myself but anyway, I said ‘it’ll be fine’ ‘No it won’t you’re going!’ She called the hospital then passed me the phone, I was now speaking to a nurse in E&R, and after I explained what had happened, she asked me if there were any ‘bobbly bits’, I said ‘there was but the dog had since eaten them, why do I still need them?’ ‘No but you better get yourself here pronto!’ So when we arrived at the local hospital the nurse took one look and said, ‘Ah there’s nothing I can do with that I’m afraid, you’re going to have to go to the main hospital, you need the nerves all stitched back’ (Or something like that) I said ‘Is there anything you can do? Anything at all? ‘Well, I can strap it together with tape till you get there but that’s about it’. ‘Well, do that then’ I replied. She did that, then I went home.
The nurse had made a stirling job of bandaging it up and it looked like something straight out of a Tom & Gerry cartoon, a big white ball wrapped wround my toe with a touch of red. It was fine though, I never felt much pain at all. I slept like a log that night. Then in the morning, still no pain. I went downstairs to the kitchen, (which by then was an actual kitchen with real taps and everything!) the bin was full so I thought I’d empty it and put a new bag in it. So as I tried to get the bag out, it was stuck, the usual thing where the vaccum keeps it in the bin. So I gently tugged at the top of the bag and the whole bin lifted up but the bag was becoming free so I jolted it a bit more and the bag came completely free. Unfortunately as the metal bin dropped it dropped right smack bang on my toe! THAT FUCKING HURT! I screamed, the dog came running in no doubt after another free meal, ‘You can fuck the right off!’ I said, he walked away for a bit then turned and with his tail between his legs, I swore I heard ‘Spoilsport!’
So now, today, with Woody safely locked in the kitchen, I am now staring at two 1″ screws, drill in hand and sweating profusely…I’ll let you know.

Auditions and acting (tidied up version!)

Not entirely sure if this is for this group but I figured if it helps just one other actor it can’t be wrong? Bit long, but here is how I dealt with nerves at auditions. Auditions: I’ve often read about the nerves problem when attending auditions. I think nerves can sometimes (not always) come from comparing oneself to the other auditionees. Plus that, iritating insecurity sometimes bourne out of inconfidence that seems so overbearing. ‘Am I good enough?’ We’ve all been there, sitting in the waiting area filling our forms out and looking around, ‘she/he looks more fit for the role than I do, are they better actors than me?’ etc. These are obvious mistakes in my view, expell them from your mind! (Note I did not use the word ‘reject)
Firstly, YOU, have been called in so THEY, want to see YOU, (That’s a confidence boost on it’s own right?)
Secondly, you have NO IDEA what the CD’s have in their mind for the role, sometimes neither do they, so you simply can’t compare yourself to others, so I don’t even go there.
Thirdly, Can you act? It’s a given, or why did they call YOU in? Of course you can act! They’ve seen your CV/reel that’s why you’re there.
These three things alone should be enough to relax you a little. Have faith in your ability, try not to overly question your interpretation of the role, question it before of course, but after I’ve left my house for the audition, I don’t re-think it, so have faith in your own decision and stick to it!

Also lets not forget there are more positives than negatives even if you didn’t get that role too. It’s easy to feel ‘rejected’ but if you even consider the very word ‘rejected’ then all you’ll do is feel ‘rejected’ everytime you don’t get the role, and, over time that feeling of rejection is bad news!! So, absolutlely remove the word from your vocabluary, It doesn’t, and shouldn’t fit in our world, Instead, someone else was more suitable for the role, it’s that simple, it was NOT your performance. But rejected? No! So these days, when I attend auditions, I go in, do my bit, go home and think nothing more of it. That way I can simply disregard the audition completely and concentrate on getting the next, and the next, and just keep pushing myself forward as best I can, however I can. I only ever think about the audition if, and when, I get the news that I got the role! Most of the time my agent tells me I got the role I assume it’s a straight offer, simply because I can’t remember the audition!

Another positive is that I got to present myself to another CD, and the more I can do that the better, so in my view it’s all a positive experience. This thinking, for me at least, lent me a little more confidence when I got to the next audition, and over time, it’s certainly helped my nerves problem reduce to an almost non existent state.

Then when you’re fortunate enough to get the role, it’s a paid job for an indie film say, all unknowns, or nearly anyway, and it’s one of the few that actually gets pushed through all the immense mountain of difficulties and actually comes to fruition. Then, that scene you did, with ‘that actor’ turns out better than you expected as ‘that actor’ is suddenly thrust into the a global limelight for another project they did, of course, then would be a good time to re-organise your show reel! (That’s not happened to me yet btw but has to fellow actor buddies) What I’m trying to say is that sometimes it’s hard to remain positive but there are generally more positives than not I think, and sometimes good things coming from areas we hadn’t thought of. It just depends how we deal with our approach to ‘being a professional actor’ I think.

If my post helps at least one actor, then that’s gotta be good? But everyone has their own way of dealing with nerves, taking deep breaths etc. (That never worked for me btw!) but this is what helped me the most so thought I’d pass it on. As for me? I’m still a struggling actor trying to carve out an income like most, but I absolutely love this career I now find myself in so late in life, my best choice yet! And I’m staying!! Good luck everyone!