A skeleton staff of knights

A skeleton staff of knights

“What is a knight without a sword? This isn’t a riddle, by the way; this is a serious point. A knight without a sword is just a bloke clattering around a castle in cumbersome armour, sounding like a looped recording of a drunk trying to climb out of a builder’s skip full of aluminium venetian blinds. He may as well cart a plinth around the bailey all day, wowing children with a human statue routine, while occasionally retreating to the garderobe to daydream forlornly of battles he will never fight and quests he will never embark upon!”

At this point, a hand rests gently on my shoulder and I’m helped back into my seat. “We’re just doing a round of introductions first,” says the group leader, as everyone in the healing circle looks on sympathetically at my puce, irate face. I quietly apologise to the group and return a lady’s umbrella, which I’d rudely snatched and held aloft.

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The idiot machine

The idiot machine

Until he’d filmed a suicide victim hanging lifelessly from a tree in Japan’s Aokigahara Forest, I’d never heard of Logan Paul. If someone had mentioned his name to me, I would’ve assumed they were talking about a budget hair salon located on a traffic-choked high street between a 99p shop and a Dixy Chicken. I never would have guessed they were talking about a YouTube ‘mega-vlogger’ with more than 15 million subscribers and a hairstyle that sits somewhere between Farrah Fawcett and Flock of Seagulls’ Mike Score. But then, life’s a learning process.

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Finally, a portmanteau I can believe in

Finally, a portmanteau I can believe in

I recently became a father again. Unbelievably, given that I’m a bit of a dickhead who tends to stumble through each day, I am now a father to two boys, tasked with keeping them alive and raising them to be kind, loving, thoughtful, intelligent, confident and empathetic human beings. It’s a truly daunting prospect.

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Shut it all down

Shut it all down

I miss the olden days. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t miss black-lunged street urchins scurrying up hellish, carcinogenic chimneys. Nor do I miss the days of young cotton mill workers getting a vicious strapping for having the gall to complain about exhaustion and a degloved finger. No, I’m talking about a mere 25 years ago, which genuinely feels like the olden days.

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The Oreos incident

The Oreos incident

The other day, my wife and I were at the park with our three-year-old son. He was playing on the swings and I was doing that thing that dads do, where I positioned myself directly in the way of his ascent so that he could kick me up the bum in a slapstick comedy style. After every carefully choreographed impact, I would then express Widow Twankey-levels of shock and surprise that even a pantomime director would ask me to significantly tone down. Still, it was a routine that was delivering lots of giggles, which is better than any drug in the world. (I had a toke on someone’s spliff at the Reading ‘95 festival and then had to spend a good couple of hours pretending that I found fruit hilarious – so it’s definitely better than that.)

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Protected: A Lion Bar and some heavy petting

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Sacrificial offerings to the giant pig god

Sacrificial offerings to the giant pig god

My wife and I recently went on a train journey to take my two-year-old son to see Peppa Pig and George, courtesy of my very lovely and thoughtful mother-in-law. I’m a father now, you see. So this is how I occasionally spend my time.

Our journey began at Kidderminster Severn Valley Railway station, where we immediately joined the end of a long queue of families. “Hell is other people,” as Jean-Paul Sartre once said, which is why, in spite of the quaintness of the station, it’s how I imagine Brief Encounter would’ve looked if it had been produced by the Channel 5 documentary team behind the series Neighbours from Hell, High on Spice, Hacked Down My Conifers.

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