The Chase

I had left the office, stepping out into the dark, damp and drizzly evening and I had mere minutes to make it to the train station. I started to get a jog on. Not quite a run. I was in a thick coat, dressed for business, and it wasn’t really a sprint kind of situation. A jog would suffice. Plus, I was dressed for winter wearing a scarf and my winter hat of choice.

 

One of these:

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I know, it’s not exactly a fetching look but I’m almost 35 and I feel that “fashion” has had to make way for the preferred choice of the mature man, yes, “functionality.” As a follically challenged man, this type of hat provides warmth to both the exposed parts of my cranium as well as keeping my lugholes protected from any cold draft. I hate cold lugholes, don’t you?

 

I didn’t fasten the strap of my hat under my chin, I needed some ventilation, especially as I was jogging along. Besides, I’m not seven years old. Although, I admit I have fastened it in the past, yes, but only on exceptionally cold mornings!

 

As I jogged along to reach my train in good time, I became aware of the clip clop sound of footsteps at pace behind me. They were more regular than my own steps and getting louder, I was indeed being followed. Or was I being chased? I contemplated looking behind to see who it was but I thought I might look like I’m afraid or paranoid. I could have just suddenly turned in a pre-emptive strike scenario. But that might unnerve an innocent commuter who, like me, were merely in a hurry to make the train. I still didn’t feel very comfortable with this situation though. ‘Great, I look like I’m being chased. I look like an executive man-bag thief!’ I thought.

 

Now a part of me, namely, my competitive ego, thought that I should pick up the pace so that he wouldn’t overtake me. This could be a physical challenge and I could use this to spur me on to make the train in record time. But what if he picks up the pace and I end up in a sudden race? I wasn’t dressed for this and I’m wearing a stupid hat. I’ll be sweating buckets and needing my inhaler by the time I get to the platform! So I decided not to take the bait. No, today will not be a day of athletic competition between two office workers. I’m a grown man, comfortable in my own skin without the need to allow the ego to throw me into sudden competition. I’m better than that.

 

Eventually, I was overtaken by a taller man than I, in business attire, without a hat, running. He wasn’t jogging like me, he was definitely what I would consider running. ‘Great, now I look like I’m chasing him!’ I thought. Then I thought, ‘He’s getting away, you look like you’re losing this chase!’ So I think I may have sped up my jog a little to maintain a certain gap between us. He was now essentially my pace runner.

 

We blitzed past pedestrians heading in the same direction. I wondered if they thought we were part of a new executive running club. I thought of the strapline, Literally Running The Business. ‘I bet we look like a pair of bloody fit blokes,’ I thought. I don’t know what it is about running and my apparent belief that it impresses people. It’s something ingrained from school, when the only way I could impress the girl I fancied was to just run as fast as I could. It never worked. Mainly because, by the time I’d reached the far end of the playground, she had forgotten who I was and Neil Malone had stepped in with his Nike trainers. Damn you Neil Malone with your Nike trainers!

 

The fact is that a 34 year old bald man running doesn’t impress anyone.

 

We continued to keep the pace, running along the wet pavement; our shadows shifting and altering as we both pass each street lamp. As I looked down, I saw his shadow; the light from the street lamp ahead casting the shadow of a running man behind him. I also noticed my shadow cast in front of me from the street lamp behind me. It was then that I noticed the flapping of the sides of my hat. They resembled something. I almost stopped as I realised that our shadows looked like a man being chased by another man, in a dog costume. Yes our shadows resembled an artistic representation of the pursuit of a shoplifter at Euro-Disney. If it was a modern art film, it could be called Le chase a la Goofy. 

 

But I didn’t give up, even though I could see my opponent fellow runner start to slow down. ‘No stamina,’ I thought.

 

He stopped running and continued at a walking pace. I thundered past him, jogging / running, my dog ears flapping in the wind, my man-bag under my arm, my lungs gasping for air as I ran past the diesel guzzling black taxis outside the station.

 

But still, I reached the station first. I was the winner! Better luck next time loser!

 

You can call me…. The Greyhound.

 

 

Why Aren’t You A Success?

According to this picture, Success requires you to take an E. Grumpy Young Bloke does not endorse the taking of any drugs.

According to this picture, Success requires you to take an E. Grumpy Young Bloke does not endorse the taking of any drugs.

Why aren’t you successful?

It’s a straightforward question. But then again, I guess it depends what your interpretation of success is.

I admit that in recent years, I have berated myself, beat myself up and labelled myself as a failure. I am not successful. I am not in a fantastic job; I don’t have a degree; I don’t have a house (Sorry to shatter the illusion folks but Chateau Grump is a two bedroom semi-detached house in Dudley that’s rented); I can’t afford a wedding; can’t afford a nice holiday every year and to top it all off, I just couldn’t afford to be Dad. (Please, no comments saying, “You find the money blah blah blah.” It’s a cliche that I’m tired of hearing. It’s easy to say when you have a family support network around you. I don’t.)

But the reason why I’m a failure is not because of me, it’s because of others.

Now, I’m not going to harp on with some self-sympathy, woe is me, I’m a victim, I’ve been held back BS.

The reason why I’m a failure because of others is simply because I am measuring my success by the terms of how others measure it. I have been looked down upon by graduates who earn much more than I do and who are judging me by my job title, my assumed earnings and my apparent status in society. Therein lies the problem. We are possibly measuring success in terms of what society and the media depicts when it is simply not the case.

Switch on the TV or pick up a newspaper or magazine and you will see the rich and the famous. The shallow vision that portrays success as fame, financial security, big houses, big cars and other material objects that are tokens to display to the world that you are a success. Don’t get me wrong, credit where credit’s due. I admire people who achieve through hard work and reap the rewards, but success is not so two dimensional. This portrayal can cause many to feel like they have failed or aren’t good enough because they don’t fit the mould. Where’s the positive reinforcement of self-development? Where’s the gratitude of what you have right now? Where’s the goal of contentment these days? Where are the emotional success stories?

I feel that fame is now a part of our culture that defines success. Being an on-line trend with a million followers, going on Big Brother or Britain’s Got Talent, X-Factor, The Voice or the Antiques Roadshow.

Success is not about queuing up for eight hours to stand for three minutes, hungry for fame, with the same old sob story about wanting to be a singer all your life and how your budgie just died; in the hope that they’ll play a bit of Coldplay over your interview and after you give it your all, singing Robbie William’s Angels, in front of four self righteous judges and a massive audience, you will be judged, not only on whether you are talented, but also whether you are a sellable commodity. If it’s a yes, they’ll play the really uplifting bit of a Keane song. If it’s a no, there is a possibility that you will be publicly berated, belittled and the production team will have a field day editing the audition for TV so that you will be laughed at and shared on many Facebook and twitter streams around the globe. You will be a recognised face, but for being a fool. It is cruel and very sad. You are not a commodity.

Let me tell you the obvious thing here at a risk of sounding cliché. We are all different. You cannot expect everyone to reach for the same goals when you are not all starting from the same point.

It’s like having an Olympic hurdle sprint. But all participants in the race are starting in different places in their lanes; some further ahead than others. Equally, the finish line for some is closer than for others. Then we have the hurdles between the start and finish. One competitor has three hurdles; another has ten. That is life.

So when we compare ourselves to others and see the “Success” that they have achieved, and then feel bad about it and equally, they might be looking down on us prejudging, both parties do not know where the other started from. Yes, there was hard work to reach that point of “Success” but who’s to say that there wasn’t hard work to get where you are now?

Perhaps the “successful” one had help and guidance from supportive parents, perhaps they went to a better school, perhaps financially they’ve never had to struggle or perhaps they’ve never really had any other shit to deal with.

I look back on my 34 years. Without going into detail I admit that my teenage years were difficult. I didn’t have the support or love that I probably should have had. I was eventually kicked out of home. I never went back. Since then, I have done some pretty cool things. Whether it be Martial Arts, music, photography, travelling or writing, I have tried many new ventures, and have achieved many of my goals. I may not have a house, but I have saved hard and we’re almost there with a deposit. To top it all, I have the love of my beautiful Fiancée, Mrs Grump.

But to the person looking down at me, I am just a lowly claims handler for an insurance company, taking phone calls all day, every day. Why is it that people make such judgements based on a job title? As if it’s a label of worth.

I think when we need to consider if we are successful; we need to look at where we have come from, where we are now and where we are going.

If you look at who you were some time ago, compare that to who you are now and if you consider yourself to be a better version of yourself, you are a success. It’s as simple as that.

If you’ve stepped away from negativity in your life, you are a success!

It might be that you just wanted to get a job and got one. You are a success!

If you have managed to escape an abusive relationship, you are a success!

If you have taken the leap of starting to work for yourself, you are a success!

If you’ve overcome addiction, you are a success!

If you’ve decided to take action and ask for help, you are a success!

If you’ve studied to achieve a qualification or dream job, you are a success!

If you’ve created a healthier lifestyle, you are a success!

If you’ve simply made the decision to become a better version of yourself somehow, regardless of the outcome, simply doing it rather than giving up or growing stagnant, you are a success!

If you overcame any battle, any difficulty, any barrier that you came across in your life then YOU ARE A SUCCESS!

I also think we need to look forward. Are we still developing? Are we still growing into better versions of ourselves? I believe that success is not necessarily a full stop. 

But that said, if your goal is to reach contentment and to just chill, then guess what? You’re a success too.

It’s not all about pound signs, dollar signs or any other denomination. It’s not about looking the part, spending lots of money and having lots of inanimate objects that do nothing to enrich your soul. There is nothing wrong with aiming for fame, a good car or financial security (it would certainly make life a little easier at times). But it’s not the be all and end all and by not achieving this, you are not a failure. Success is subjective, personal and internal because everybody and every path followed are different. (That’s pretty cliché, I admit.) Let’s not be bound by what society expects success to look like. They are not you.

So for me, I look back and forget about the expectations and interpretations of success that appear to be the status quo. It’s not about anybody else. I didn’t start in the same place as them. I look at where I am now, where I came from and the many difficulties I overcame and what I have achieved to date and also what I continue to do to develop myself and then it dawns on me that yeah, maybe I am a success.

I’m sure you are too. Don’t be hard on yourself and don’t give up either. To be a success, just succeed.

Not the usual humorous post this time. I’ll be back to my usual self next time.

Making Money Out Of Racism

So yesterday in Dudley, where I reside, there was yet another demonstration. This time it was the turn of a new group, the All Football Fans/Firms against Islamisation or AFFFAI for short. A short sharp and punchy acronym I’m sure you will agree.

But the AFFFFFFFFFAIAIA aren’t the first protest to grace Dudley with their presence. The English Defence League or EDL for short (Better at acronyms) were here before and a far right group called Britain First have also marched through the streets chanting shouting and dribbling.

To be honest, Dudley already has a permanent march already. We don’t need anymore.

Dudley Bon Marche

The reason why Dudley seems to attract this bigotry, racism and xenophobia? Because a new mosque is going to be built.

I suppose it wouldn’t be so bad if they visited Dudley zoo. Not only would they be putting some money back into the local economy, the zoo keepers might actually mistake them for escapees and seize capture, sticking them back in the gorilla pen. I’m sure throwing sh*t isn’t a first for them!

Anyway, imagine my joy when during this march, the southern based in-laws were coming to visit. I was imagining the scene. Opening the front door to my mother and father in law, “Mum, Dad, welcome to Dudley! What? Oh ignore that. It’s just some fascists having an aggressive, xenophobic march through the streets of Dudley. Yeah, they’ll be back on the coach soon. They’re called the AFFFFAFFAFFAFFAFAAFFFFFFFAFAFAFAAIIIAIIAFAFAIIAIIIA for short. Have you heard of them? No? Me neither. I’ll put the kettle on.”

Luckily, they didn’t witness any of the march and the visit went well.

So here are a few images from yesterday.

1. Anonymity

Dudley Protest

Nothing says, “I’m an upstanding citizen of this country exercising my democratic right to freedom of speech in a completely reasonable manner,” more than being dressed as a kidnapper. Surely nothing is more ironic than an attempt at anonymity but standing out as being the only one with a full-face balaclava!

Also note the expression of the guy on the very far right (no pun intended). You can just see enough of his face to question what the hell is going on.

2. Population Control.

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This group are probably all for closing our borders to foreigners and preventing entry to anyone wanting to enter this country for a better life. It’s ironic that in this picture, the police officer is trying to control the current chav population of Dudley! We’ve got plenty as it is! We don’t want anymore! They come here and don’t bother working! Taking all the benefits! Going on the Jeremy Kyle show!

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3. One For The Ladies.

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It was raining which was a good thing. Not that this guy was bothered. I’m not someone who judges people who have tattoos. There are some amazing examples of body art out there. And then there’s a tattoo of a devil flexing his bicep on your back. Hey, I’m not judging!

5. Seriously, it was this big!

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Even keen fishermen were in attendance.

6. Neeeever Forget Where You’ve Come Here From!

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This guy was clearly sitting on his girlfriend’s shoulders. Must think he’s at a bloody Take That concert! Mind you, it does look like he’s demonstrating his last experience in prison.

I’m not known for my entrepreneurial spirit, but I’ve been thinking hard about whether I could actually financially benefit from these demonstrations and I think I can. Let me share with you my ideas now that I know my target market.

I shall set up a gazebo by the side of the road. I shall take my clippers and hook it up to a car battery offering shaved heads for a fiver. They’ll be queuing up around the block!

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But wait, that’s not the only service I’ll be offering. With a few rags and a bottle of Brasso, I’ll also offer to polish their array of sovereigns, chains, bracelets and any other golden cheap sh*t they’ll be wearing.

brasso

But wait! That’s not the only service I’ll be offering. Staffordshire Bull Terrier hire!

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I can imagine it now, going onto Dragons Den with my idea to get funding to set myself up. Although in fairness, I reckon £50 investment would be good to get me started.

Before you know it, I’ll be rich and the FFFAAAIAIAIFIFIFIFIFIAAAAAAFFFIFIFIFIEDLBFFSAAAAAFFFFIIIA’s choice!