A belated Father’s Day piece about my dad

Painting of my dad.

My very first job, when I was just 11 years old, was a paper round at the local newsagents. I was given the Tudor Avenue round, a road lined with 1930s semis with mock Tudor frontages, which stretched out into the distance like a vast runaway. I got £10 a week for my efforts, which seemed like a small fortune at the time (and kept me in Spectrum computer games for a good 18 months or so).

Continue reading “A belated Father’s Day piece about my dad”

Daddyopolis

Minecraft character Steve looks out over the Minecraft landscape as the sun sets.

For my son’s 6th birthday, we bought him Minecraft for the PS4. As he’d been spending a lot of time watching gamers playing it on YouTube Kids, we thought he might like to experience the game for himself rather than just passively watching other people. I had always thought of it as “that stupid game with the blocks”, which now feels like a terribly unfair and disparaging comment, especially when it pops into my head in the wee small hours while I’m branch mining with an enchanted pickaxe, as my dry, unblinking eyes scan subterranean tunnels for rich seams of diamond, emerald, lapis lazuli and redstone.

Continue reading “Daddyopolis”

The paunch of shame

A male runner on his back, collapsed on the pavement.

I’m new to running. I’ve obviously run at times in my life – to catch a departing train, for instance, or escape a persistent wasp. Also, my tardiness has occasionally forced me into a frantic dash across campus to attend a meeting, where I’ve strived to achieve a fashionably late arrival, albeit as a sweaty, breathless, dishevelled, shambles of a man. But actual running, for fitness, on a regular basis, never.

Continue reading “The paunch of shame”

What about Larry?

The Elf on the Shelf smiling and looking cheeky, with the lights of a Christmas tree blurred in the background.

Recently, late at night, as my wife and I peel ourselves from the sofa to clear away our empty gin glasses and extinguish the Christmas tree fairy lights (by wildly jabbing at an inaccessible switch with a mop) one of us will grumpily exclaim: “Oh God. What the fuck are we going to do with Larry?”

Continue reading “What about Larry?”

My gaming life

I’ve had a creeping longing for a return to some kind of normality recently. And by ‘normality’, I don’t mean tombstoning at Durdle Door, where the few seconds of free-fall you experience as you plummet towards the shimmering waves below is, quite ironically, the safest way to socially distance yourself from thousands of lobster-skinned beachgoers shitting into burger cartons and iceboxes.

Continue reading “My gaming life”

This pandemic is killing my cynicism

I’ve cried a lot recently (more so than normal). While driving to work one morning in the week before lockdown, I welled up listening to The Leisure Society’s ‘The Last of the Melting Snow’. There’s nothing particularly unusual about that – plenty of songs get me in the throat – but it’s the fact that I was sobbing uncontrollably even when the song had finished. Inconsolable at the wheel and completely overwhelmed by the creeping, all-consuming nightmare of a deadly pandemic. Yesterday, I cried at the kitchen sink listening to the The Smiths’ ‘Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want’. If we’re in this for the long haul, I may cry myself to the point where my entire body becomes as withered, cracked, and desiccated as my excessively washed hands.

Continue reading…

Content

A friend once described me as a “Premier League raconteur”, which, to this day, is the best compliment anyone’s ever bestowed on me (even if not entirely true). Anyway here’s a self-deprecating little anecdote about a terrible moment in my life that I’m not proud of, and for which you should definitely judge me. I have nothing else to write about right now, so this is just meaningless ‘content’.

Continue reading “Content”

It’s the not knowing

I’ve never really had many hobbies. As a young boy in the early 80s, I tended to adopt pastimes that had the potential to permanently enshrine my virginity. For instance, I collected matchbox covers for a short while, which I arranged in a scrapbook according to their country of origin. I also collected beer mats, which my grandad used to pick up for me from the local Legion. It was oddly exciting to be presented with a pristine Babycham mat, or a slightly damp and dog-eared one featuring Hofmeister’s George the Bear, scooped off a pub table through a puddle of spilled bitter and Cinzano. By the time my interest in beer mats waned, I probably had enough for an exhibition at the V&A.

Continue reading…

From Bing to the Black Death

I have various recollections of being genuinely scared by things when I was a child. After seeing Jaws on TV in 1981, I remember leaping from the bedroom door to the safety of my bed – pronking like a springbok – because in my seven-year-old mind, the blue carpet was ‘the sea’. (And Quint’s gruesome death has always stayed with me.)

Continue reading…