Birthday, Downsizing & Goodbye

It’s my birthday today. I’ve taken a week off work to spend it with Mrs Grump. 

36. Late thirties. Strewth. 

Mrs Grump has been asking what I wanted to do to celebrate but I’m a strange creature in that I really don’t enjoy my birthday. My instinct is to just gloss over it, ignore it, pretend it never happened. I don’t really see the date that I popped out into the world as worth celebrating if I’m honest. 

“What are you going to do for your birthday?” people ask. Why do I have to do anything? Why can’t I just ignore it? 

Yet I feel bad when Mrs Grump makes an effort to ask me what I want to do to celebrate and I just can’t seem to think of anything. I can’t think of anywhere I’d like to eat, where I’d like to go and I know I come across as a proper miserable git. When others want to make a fuss of me, I say I’d rather they didn’t. 

In a strange contradiction, I also feel sad that I can’t celebrate my birthday. A part of me would like to enjoy it but it intrinsically doesn’t seem to be a part of me. I am incapable of feeling anything other than uncomfortable about the 16th May. 

But I have eventually decided on going for some Japanese food. 

It’s the same at Christmas; I just don’t feel comfortable receiving gifts. It’s as if I don’t deserve any of this treatment. 

For much of last year and the early part of this year I have been unwell. I won’t go into details but I ended up in a pretty dark place and no, there isn’t a punchline about not paying the electric bill coming (although it did cross my mind). 

Part of my recovery has been to see a counsellor regularly and I’ve recently stopped seeing them. Again, I could shoehorn in a joke, this time about dating, but I won’t. 

One of the themes that kept appearing was that I don’t feel good enough, that I don’t deserve certain things and I think this is one of the fundamental reasons for feeling so uncomfortable about my birthday. 

But one of the biggest lessons I learned was about tolerance and acceptance of myself. To listen to myself and not resist how I’m feeling. 

It is for that reason that I decided that life has been a bit overwhelming of late. Not only have I had various things to deal with in the many facets of my life, I’d also taken on multiple personal projects, writing, creating, trying to change career completely and even managing to get a spot volunteering for 2 weeks at one of the best advertising agencies in the UK. 

But it was all too much and I had no respite. Eventually, I broke. 

So I stopped. I stopped everything. I downsized the sheer amount of information I had to deal with. I downsized the external influences I was exposed to. We’re not designed to be bombarded by so much. I took all the pressure off from doing anything and decided that I would only deal with what I could manage. I’d discovered the hard way that I had limits. Who was I impressing anyway? No one. What was I trying to prove apart from trying to abate my own insecurities and worries? I just did myself harm by trying to do too much and berating myself when I was struggling. 

We have to show ourselves compassion and there are times when it is acceptable to say, “No,” to things; always listening to yourself and how you feel. It’s self preservation. Sometimes it means making tough decisions but for your own benefit because you are the most important person in your life. You have to protect yourself from harm. 

So I stopped writing comedy and stopped all the projects I had taken on. I found balance again and said no to a few things to alleviate the pressure. I don’t follow the news much because it’s negative. I have left Facebook which is so liberating. I don’t need to spend hours of my life scrolling through people’s online personas and cat videos. It’s too much info to take on. We are not designed to be bombarded by entertainment, advertising, news media from all over the world and Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube. We are fundamentally creatures who are meant to manage our own survival through sourcing food, protecting our loved ones and ensuring we are sheltered from harm. Yes we are advanced enough to enter into social constructs but even that is limited. Know your place in the social hierarchy without the need to know what everyone else in your group is doing, what’s going on with every other group in your area, county, country, continent and beyond. I don’t think it’s healthy to take on so much information.

When I was in a calmer place I was able to exert my energy in a better way, rather than trying to keep multiple plates spinning. 

I’ve since got great job and promotion as a Training & Development Controller. I’m still in the insurance industry but my role is a world away from my previous role. I’m working for Head Office now. Yeah! I’m hanging with the big boys. It’s still early days but I love it. I’ve recently started back at the gym and will soon be the Birmingham equivalent of Wolverine. Maybe more Baldverine. 

I recently ticked another off my bucket list by having a go at stand up comedy. It went better than I could have imagined and I’m being encouraged to keep with it. I will, but at my own steady pace and not what others might expect. Primarily my energy is focused on the new job. 

During this period of illness, I discovered how much easier it was to express myself through writing and how cathartic it can be. My comedy writing is still very important to me and I will still do it when I can, but again, I’m not going to put pressure on myself to produce volume. As for this blog, well, I’m not so much of a young bloke anymore. Still grumpy but not young. So it’s time to say goodbye and continue with the downsizing of external pressures and responsibilities. Time to put the energy elsewhere, taking fewer projects, spending more time looking after myself and more time with Mrs Grump.

So it’s goodbye from me. Thank you for taking the time to read this and follow my blog. I hope it’s made you smile from time to time. 

This week is Mental Health Week in the U.K.  It seems poignant to write honestly and candidly about my own challenges. 

I wish you all the very best and thanks again. 



Scary Women Of The 90’s

I was listening to BBC radio 6music the other day, which has a feature where they ask listeners to send in the name of their ear-worm. What is an ear-worm? It’s a song that gets into your head and plays over and over, and you just can’t get rid of it. They then pick one and play it for all the other listener’s benefit so they too can have the same ear-worm.


The song on that particular day was a blast from the past; from a time of my teenage youth, with bad hair, social awkwardness and fluff on my top lip. The song was En Vogue’s track, Don’t Let Go from 1996.


I decided to reminisce and find the video on Youtube that evening. Here it is for your enjoyment:



Now as an adult watching this, I realised a few things which I didn’t really take any notice of when I was fifteen. I would like to share with you the things I realised as an adult watching this music video and listening to the lyrics, which basically ruined my memory of what I thought was a 90’s R&B classic.


So, the premise of the video, four, strong, powerful, dominant and slightly scary women are singing at a house party to one chap who has had a fling with all of them. They’re intimidating in a sexy kind of way but still kind of scary and rather than try to brutally murder the “player” and rip his testicles off, fashioning his scrotum into some kind of shower cap “Player” trophy (I bet the tall one with big hair would find that quite useful to be honest) which, they could share by way of a rota system on a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet (It was around back then; I’ve checked); they decided to all get up and sing to him in a powerful, emotional and slightly aggressive way.

These intimidating ladies are all singing about how they want to get beyond the friend zone and then the arrogant guy at the end looks in a contemplative yet slightly guilty mood. This video is a contradiction. It flies in the face of Girl Power because they all still want him despite what he’s been doing. Was that an acceptable thing to do in the 90’s? See four women until they collaborate and sing at a house party so you then have to decide which one you want? Surely based on this video and the sass that these girls are giving it should be a song saying, “Stop being a “Player” you shit!” That would be more befitting of this video.


Putting the premise of the video and the sexy yet scary women to one side; let’s have a look at the lyrics. As an adult man, I’ve listened to these lyrics and feel that they too are a little bit scary and very full on. I tried to explain this to my friend and comedy collaborator, Paul, who said that he thought I was really taking things too literally. I’m not so sure. Let’s have a look at some of the lyrics. I’ll put my comments underneath some of the lines, sometimes responding to what they’re singing.


What’s it gonna be ‘cuz I can’t pretend
(Note to self, don’t play charades with these ladies!)
Don’t you want to be more than friends
(Based on what I’ve seen in the video, that’s more than friendly behaviour. I mean, I’ve never said to my mate Malcolm, “Hey, Malc, why don’t you writhe on a bed while I film you? Come on, it’ll be a laugh! Where are you going?”)
Hold me tight and don’t let go
(Should I let go slightly if you start to struggle breathing?)
Don’t let go
(Okay, I won’t)
You have the right to lose control
(I won’t lose control, but you might if you become uncomfortable and then it’ll turn into a kind of control and restraint situation, then it’ll get awkward, I’ll probably get hurt and the evening will be ruined.)
Don’t let go
(Alright, don’t say I didn’t warn you.)
I often tell myself that we could be more than just friends 
(The video says to me that it’s already way past the friend zone!)
I know you think that if we move too soon it would all end
(To be honest, have you seen the clips of what he was doing? Have I lived that much of a sheltered life? Is that taking things slow? I thought a nice stroll around an art gallery with a bite to eat and a drink or two is a standard evening for the first three years. Not undies, camcorders, stripping and making the windows steam up in the back of a car!)
I live in misery when you’re not around
(Ah, that’s nice isn’t it? It’s nice to be wanted.)
And I won’t be satisfied till we’re taking those vows
(WOAH!!!!! Hold on a minute. I mean there’s getting some loving and then there’s THAT!)
Seriously though, was that acceptable in the 90’s? Can you imagine if a man said that? Even in the context of this music video! “Listen love, I know you’ve slept with me and my three mates here, some might call you a Slut, but let me be honest with you, I want to take it further and when I say further, I mean full on marriage! Will you marry me? What do you say? Oh, and if you’re pregnant, we’re going on Jeremy Kyle.”
There’ll be some love makin’, (Great!), heart breakin’, (Not Great!), soul shakin’ love 
(Is that like exorcism?)

Love makin’, heart breakin’, soul shakin’…

What’s it gonna be ‘cuz I can’t pretend
Don’t you want to be more than friends
Hold me tight and don’t let go
Don’t let go
You have the right to lose control
Don’t let go

I often fantasize the stars above are watching you,

(What, like Prince and Michael Jackson?)
They know my heart, it speaks to yours like only lovers do
(Ah, that’s nice isn’t it?)
If I could wear your clothes I’d pretend I was you and lose control
So here’s something else that was apparently okay in the 90’s. Ladies, dressing up in their men’s clothes and pretending to be them. I’ll be honest, if I came home to Mrs Grump, dressed in my clothes, with a swimming cap on to represent my baldness and writing a strongly worded complaint letter to someone, then I’d be pretty freaked out. But what also strikes me is how blatant it is, how disparate the equality of the sexes back in the 90’s. You see, back then, if a man was discovered wearing his wife’s boob tube and miniskirt, doing the ironing, he would be ridiculed and would probably lose all respect from his significant other. That’s why it was always done in private when the wife went to the shops. It was always, “His little secret,” and little did you now what Bob at work, really got up to in his spare time. But clearly, it was perfectly acceptable in pop culture for women to do that very same thing and openly sing about it at house parties! I hope that we’ve come a long way in the past twenty years, to the point where either gender would freak out equally on discovering their partner had been rummaging through the wrong underwear drawer and trying things on.
There’ll be some love makin’, heart breakin’, soul shakin’ love
Love makin’, heart breakin’, soul shakin’… What’s it gonna be ‘cuz I can’t pretend 
Don’t you want to be more than friends
Hold me tight and don’t let go
Don’t let go
You have the right to lose control
Don’t let go

Runnin in and outta my life
Has got me so confused
You gotta make the sacrifice
Somebody’s gotta choose
We can make it if we try
For the sake of you and I
Together we can make it right

(Can’t keep a running)
(In and outta my life outta my outta my life)
(You’ve got the right, you’ve got the right, I said ayou’ve got the
right to loooose controol yeah)

(The clearly blatant overuse of vowels here, to be frank, is off putting. I could never be with someone for such a blatant disregard of correct English language and grammaaaaaaar!)
What’s it gonna be ‘cuz I can’t pretend
Don’t you want to be more than friends
Hold me tight and don’t let go
Don’t let go
You have the right to lose control
Don’t let go Don’t let go
Don’t let go

What’s it gonna be ‘cuz I can’t pretend
Don’t you want to be more than friends
Hold me tight and don’t let go
Don’t let go
You have the right to lose control
Don’t let go

What’s it gonna be (don’t let go)
Don’t you want to be (don’t let go)
Hold me tight and don’t let go (don’t let go)

The rest of the song is much the same, but it does leave you wondering how the man dealt with that quandary because if he does pick one of those scary lasses, he’s got another three pissed off ones to contend with. I’d probably just leave town.
So there you have it, the ear worm that led me to a completely new, modern understanding of a classic 90’s R&B song.
I’ve taken it too literally haven’t I?
P.S, Feel free to play the video and then sing along. I know I have a few times.
Oh and please like, share and follow.

The Arse Parrot

The joys of commuting. The wonderful experience of being crammed into a small metal box with a bunch of strangers with varying degrees of personal hygiene is without doubt, one of the hilights of my day.

Take today, for example, I had positioned myself with an optimum chance of getting on the train within the first wave of commuters. This skill comes through daily practice of studying where the train doors will be when the train stops. Over time I have harnessed a skill like that of clairvoyance, knowing roughly, exactly, where abouts, approximately the train will accurately stop and therefore where to stand relative to the doors for optimum boarding efficiency. I pride myself in my accuracy these days, although it’s probably not the most interesting thing to brag about, especially at a training session at work during the introductions where you share an interesting fact about yourself during an “Ice-breaker.” Yes, you might have someone in the group who travelled to Africa to help build a well for an impoverished community; someone who trialled for a Premier League football team; or someone who met Paula Abdul whilst shopping for athlete’s foot cream in Boots the chemist; but throwing your hat in the ring, regaling the room with how you know exactly where the doors of the train are going to stop, unfortunately, doesn’t impress anyone.

Today was no exception with my train boarding abilities my friends, and I was one of the first wave to board the train. The choice of seats available to me was a joyous sight indeed; the spoils of my hard work being the choice of a rapidly decreasing number of available seats. Granted, not all of the seats would be an option. It depends how filthy they are and if there is any question of whether a stain is wet or dry, it’s just not worth the risk. Today, however, I opted to not delve quite so deep into the carriage, because I knew that the train was going to get very busy and the deeper into the carriage I am, the greater the slog to wade my way through a sea of commuters to get back to a door. Crowd surfing hasn’t been trialled yet but I think it’s a good idea. My stop was the third one along and so I decided to take a stain-free, aisle seat, next to a young lady and near the door.

This was my mistake. 

At the next station, a further mass of miserable office workers pile onto the train, making the population of commuters much denser. It was then that I felt a pressure on my left shoulder. I was not prepared for what I was about to find; for as I turned my head to the left, I found staring right at me, perched comfortably on my shoulder, a man’s arse. This bloke was taking liberties here. I mean, who did he think he was, perched on my shoulder, casually, like a boy band member, dressed in white, on a stool about to sing a tender love song to a bunch of screaming thirteen year olds in 1994! 

I din’t think this was a conscious decision by the man. I think it just happened but still, it was just there, as bold a brass, perched neatly on my shoulder. I’d had a long day at work, (well, it felt long); I didn’t want my face to be in such close proximity to another man’s exit hole, with only a couple of layers of material keeping us apart. That is assuming of course, that he wasn’t going commando.

I was hemmed in, I had nowhere to go and the owner of this anus was also squashed in, hence the shoulder stool he had found. My range of movement was minimal. I did what I could, I leaned away to my right. 

This, I could tell, made the lady to my right a bit uncomfortable because now she had a strange, yet ruggedly good looking and bald man, leaning towards her. She responded by also leaning to her right as far as she could go, which wasn’t far at all. 

This wouldn’t have been as bad, if that had been the end of it. But now sensing the space behind him, the owner of the balloon knot filled the space once again resting it on my shoulder like a Shitting Arse Parrot, like I was some sort of posterior pirate called Captain Brown-Eye. It was disgusting.

My only other option, because I couldn’t lean further to the right, I’d have been resting my head on the lady’s shoulder which to be honest, would have felt a bit like cheating, and on a packed train full of people, the female scream draws a lot of attention. So I leaned forward, and the cheeks kind of flopped behind me. I wondered whether to flip reverse the awkwardness by now leaning back to rest my head again his buttock like a fleshy gluteus cushion. Of course, I didn’t. That would be ridiculous and very wrong. So instead, I was now practically doubled up like I had a stomach cramp. Oh well, just two more stops to go.

At my stop, I stood up and followed my “close friend” off the train. He was taller than I and so I did think that this could have been avoided if he was a couple of inches shorter. But equally, I was also grateful that he hadn’t opted to turn around. It could have been like a scarf over the back of a chair! That would have been worse, surely. 

I have to count my blessings also in that he didn’t have jacket potato and beans for lunch. Every cloud I guess.

So let this be a warning to you, out there, in the urban jungle, these are unwritten rules of commuting. Never opt for an aisle seat, near the door on a packed train. 

Or, if you’re standing and it’s very cramped, consider a shoulder stool. 

Maybe that’s why large shoulder pads died out after the eighties?

P.S: If you’re wondering the relevance of the above image, I searched for Arse Parrot and that’s what came up. 

Not The Look I Was Going For

I used to have a retro leather jacket. It was great. I loved that jacket but it was when Mrs Grump said that I was starting to look like I had a kind of Hobo Chique going on that it was time to get rid of it and find a replacement. 

I’ve had a couple of non-leather jackets since which were nowhere near as cool and retro as the one I had. They just weren’t the same. I just haven’t felt right since. So for the past couple of years I’ve needed to find another cool leather jacket that fits me well. 

Today I saw a strong contender. I tried it on, it fit perfectly and it was the only one of it’s kind left in store and on top of that, it was almost half price! Surely this was meant to be!?! Surely, this was kismet?!?

I needed a second opinion. I dashed to find Mrs Grump lurking amongst the make up counters of the nearest department store, trying her best to get some oxygen amongst the heavy cocktail of perfumes that had been sprayed on unsuspecting passers by. 

After a dash back to the other store, I uncovered the hidden jacket, (oh I know how to play the game my friends) and wearing the jacket, I asked for Mrs Grumps honest and sometimes cutting opinion. 

“It’s a nice Jacket,” she says. 

So far, so good, I thought. 

“Yeah, it fits you well,” she says. 

Positive, this is going well, I thought. 

And that was it. She added no more. I was going to have to push this. 

“Does it suit me?” I ask, “Or do I look like a dick?”

“You don’t look like a dick,” She replied.  

What did that mean? It seemed like there was an imminent “but” due which never materialised. 

“It’s different to your normal look,” she follows up with. Which is a fair comment but that’s because generally speaking, I don’t think I have a “look” apart from a bespectacled Birmingham based bald bloke. No doubt I have a small collection of head wear for all occasions and some of that head wear would be redundant with this jacket, but I also have other options and I don’t actually think that a bald head looks bad with this jacket. 

Because it’s very difficult finding a decent style as a bald man, let me tell you. Sometimes I have to google famous bald men to see what their style is and what potentially looks good. Obviously avoiding any photos of Richard O’Brien during his Crystal Maze days. I haven’t got the legs for leggings, cowboy boots and leopard print coats. 

But seriously, it’s amazing the sheer amount of style choices you have as a follically gifted person. Only bald brothers would know the struggle. 

I needed to make a decision and then came the classic mantra from Mrs Grump; the mantra that empowers the indecisive shopping wife or girlfriend, you know the one, “You can always bring it back.”

Yes, yes I can always bring it back for I will have the all empowering receipt!! 

I took a decision and bought the leather jacket and damn it, I felt like I was almost my old self again. 

Later, whilst Mrs Grump continues to wander the aisles of the ladies wear section of a second department store, to purchase something to bring back next week no doubt, I stopped in a carbon copy costa coffee shop, and as the soya milk curdled in my coffee, decided to google “bald man leather jacket.”

I expected to see pictures of Jason Statham, Bruce Willis and perhaps even Billy Zane who have all embraced their baldness with pride. I needed a boost of confidence. 

But instead, the very first image I see is:



This is definitely not the look I’m going for. 

At least I’ve got the receipt. 

The Estranged Dilemma 

I’ve been seriously considering quitting this blog. Before the thousands upon thousands of you start a very intense leaflet campaign, an online petition, maybe even write something on the side of a campaign bus, hear me out.

I’m estranged from my parents. We parted company sixteen years ago and through my concerted effort I have kept my distance. Call it self preservation. I won’t go into details because to be honest, it’s nobody else’s bloody business.

Earlier this week, I discovered that my Father has been reading this very blog. Clearly the popularity of this has spread Westward, around the globe and back from the East to Birmingham and that’s how he’s heard of it because I definitely haven’t told him.

Anyway, he’s read an old blog post of mine where I offered some advice about noticing your child’s talents and nurturing that, so they grow towards a vocation they will hopefully enjoy and find fulfilling. In that blog I also explained how I didn’t really get any guidance from my parents. My aspirations of being an artist were shot down. But I also explained that my parents were from a different generation. They had to leave school and get jobs to bring money in for the family. So as much as I felt I didn’t get much guidance, I kind of understood why. The point of the article was not to criticise my parents and I made a point of saying that I hold no resentment towards them and I still don’t; the point was to encourage and hi light to other parents the importance of nurturing talent in their children so that they don’t end up in an unfulfilling job like me. When I say nurturing talent, not in a Joe Jackson kind of way!

I’ve discovered that my Father has posted extracts from that blog post on Facebook and hasn’t exactly painted me in a good light. His friends who I’ve never met, have therefore made judgements about me without knowing both sides of the story but even so, according to their comments, I am clearly a terrible person. I must kick dogs, push old ladies over in the street, shout at babies and sell meth to children in nursery schools.

The sad thing is that they don’t know me, don’t know the journey I’ve taken, my struggles, my achievements and yet, based on the comments of someone who doesn’t know me either anymore, have made totally inaccurate judgements. I guess this must be like how Brad Pitt is feeling currently with the media. Have I really just drawn a parallel between myself and Brad Pitt?

I left Facebook because I was tired of the narcissism. I was tired of the negativity and the bullshit of it all. I was tired of people who you don’t talk to and don’t really know wanting to connect and have an insight into your life. And, I hate it when people air their dirty laundry on there to invoke a flood of sympathy from “friends.” It’s a surprise to discover some dirty laundry being aired on there is about you.

It’s difficult being estranged from your parents. There have been many times that I wished I had parents around to share my life with. When you go through certain times in your life and see the help, love and support that friends and cousins have had from their folks during similar times, it can amplify your own sense of separation. I really do wish it were different, but it is what it is. I was pushed and so I stayed away, which I believe, is for the best.

I think to go into the nitty gritty, to give my side of the story would be airing my dirty laundry but it’s nobody else’s bloody business is it? My intention here is to write about the effect of being estranged and discovering that I am currently some dirty laundry like a white shirt with unjustified yellow armpits, being aired on Facebook and how to react to that. This is certainly not retaliation with personal attacks. No, this is simple honesty and as a keen writer, it’s actually given me something interesting to write about and share.

So I’ve had a quandary. Should I close this down? Should the Grumpy Young Bloke be no more? Should he just lose his powers and become a Dave, a John or Kevin? I get enjoyment from plodding through my days, seeking inspiration to write something amusing for any strangers who might want to read it. Then to have someone you want to stay away from, and equally, want them to stay away from you, encroach into such a space creates a dilemma. It’s as though it becomes tainted. The bubble I had around myself, suddenly burst and in a reflexive response, my instinct says to close this down and try to keep that distance again. They might be trying to cling on to any remnants of their son, but I don’t want them to.

It seems like a straight forward decision to bring this to a close but then something occurs to me. Just who am I? Am I the same person I was sixteen years ago? Hardly; I used to have a centre parting for a start. How many experiences I’ve had, how many things I’ve done and achieved without help or support from anyone, by my own volition, and I’m not talking about vocation here obviously, although the insurance industry would crumble if I were to leave. Who am I? I’m a man who has been shaped by his journey of many different experiences. This Grumpy blog is only one small comedy outlet of this matured personality; just one facet of my life, a life in my bubble, with my beautiful soulmate Mrs Grump, in our Penthouse with a tree outside containing a wood pigeon and furthermore, happy, relatively content and still very much a work in progress. It’s not the full picture of who I am by any means. I’m still a stranger to you; unless you’re Mrs Grump or Malcolm who both sometimes read this. (I’m waving at you now Malcolm)

That negativity on Facebook was directed at a different person to the one that writes this. I actually take comfort knowing that. Similarly, reading this blog is hardly an insight into the inner depths of me. You can’t read this and know the person writing it. I don’t open up to you. I merely aim to amuse with observations of my day to day. So it’s fair to say that I am the Grumpy Young Bloke, but he isn’t me.

This blog, a creative outlet with literally…. ooh several followers, I enjoy. So why should I give up something so important because of who might read it, misinterpret it, twist it, and fuel their fire against a different person from all those years ago? If I stop this, they’ve won. They will have indirectly caused a chain of events that will once again make me miserable. They will have hurt me.

But I won’t be hurt this time. I don’t care who reads it. I don’t care what people think. This isn’t me, this is The Grumpy Young Bloke. Although at some point I can’t be considered a “Young Bloke” anymore. I feel like I’m pushing it as it is at 35.

So, lucky for you, the Grumpy Young Bloke will continue. “Hoorah,” I hear you cry. Read what you will, share what you like, interpret however you so wish but know this, this is not me, this is The Grumpy Young Bloke and if/when this comes to an end, it will be on my terms.

An honest and very candid post today. Forgive me but I write about stuff and sometimes it’s not always about commuting, coffee shops or arsehole cats. Service shall resume shortly.


Malcolm, why didn’t you wave back?

I’m Innocent Damn It!

This may or may not surprise you. But despite my air of cool and calm sophistication I am a bit of a nerd at times. Particularly, when it comes to things about local history and especially old train tracks. I don’t know why but I love looking for old train tracks and finding things out about local train lines. Perhaps in a previous incarnation I was, y’know, a steam train.


I don’t know about the old engines or anything like that, I just like knowing where the tracks and stations were and I let my imagination send me back in time to a bygone era. There is an old line not far from where we live now. The line was known as the Harborne Express but it eventually got closed down because it was just too slow. Oh, the irony!


The track has been converted into a pleasant walk through an area called Chad Valley and so I ventured to find this walk and partake in the splendour of a pleasant Sunday afternoon stroll.


The weather was a real mixture and therefore I opted to take the standard bald man item of protection. No, not a Taser, the baseball cap to shield my sensitive naked scalp from the harmful rays of the sun. Because it was also a bit breezy at times, I took a hoodie. Yes, if there’s one lesson I can impart on you, dear reader, it is to always be ready for the elements.


I found the pathway that followed the single train track from a hundred years ago. The banks either side rose high with fauna and trees causing a natural haphazard shelter from the elements.


As I started strolling along, I did wonder whether there was any risk of being mugged because I won’t lie to you, I was heading towards an area that wasn’t exactly Kensington and having grown up where I did, it is natural to always consider whether there is a risk of being mugged, beaten up or both. Some call it being streetwise, I call it avoiding getting beaten up.


As I passed through a tunnel under a main road, I kept my wits about me and although I had my earphones in, I was listening to some stand up comedy on Radio 4, so I would still be able to hear anyone shouting, “Give us ya money bitch,” which I believe is the standard call of the would be assailant.


I passed a junkie on the way and she looked at me rather suspiciously. I thought that was ironic as I was a bald man in his mid thirties who was listening to radio 4. But as I continued to stroll along, I started to see more people enjoying the route. An elderly woman jogging, then an elderly man jogging, then a couple cycling and this started to assure me of my relative safety on this route. Because, let’s face it, the old people are easier targets than I am, right?


But I started to notice that I was in fact getting looks along the route and I wondered if it was because of my glasses and cap combination, which look like a standard spy disguise. But then it dawned on me; the reason for the funny looks. There I was, a man walking alone, along a pathway, which could be a bit dicey should any unsavoury characters frequent it and I was wearing trainers, jeans, a hoodie and a cap. Forgetting the glasses and classic spy disguise for one minute, I realised in that moment that I was in fact dressed like a classic bad guy in a Crimewatch reconstruction.


I was not the enemy here and at first I thought that it is better to be considered a threat than a victim like jogging Doris from earlier. But of course that depends on your point of perspective because what if something criminally untoward should happen along that stretch of pathway? Then I’m straight in the frame for it aren’t I?


So for much of the pavement I felt like I was being judged by every lone female who passed me, every elderly person who jogged past and I’m sure even a couple of dogs and a squirrel gave me dirty looks.


I needed to appear less criminal, so I removed my hat and revealed my smooth, freshly shaved dome. Now I resembled someone who had alopecia or who was on their way back from chemo. I felt chuffed that now I wasn’t getting any dodgy looks because to the outside observer, I was quite simply, a bald man enjoying a leisurely stroll and yes, probably listening to radio 4.


Of course, my relief was short lived because what if someone in a hoodie and baseball cap did commit a crime along this walk at some point. Fingers will still be pointing in my direction. But at least for some of this walk I was an assumed innocent bald man.


But then, a moment of terror. As I strolled under another main road, through a small tunnel, suddenly from nowhere, there was shouting from immediately behind me. This made me jump out of my skin to the point where I actually fell off the pavement. The pavement was raised by about an inch but I still somehow fell off it, going over on my ankle and into the wall of the tunnel. Yes, it was pathetic.

As I turned to see the source of this terror, I discovered two, elderly, foreign gentlemen, jogging slowly in bad lycra and wearing headphones. One of which, clearly didn’t realise how loud he had decided to talk to his friend and so suddenly bellowed something as they entered the tunnel, unaware that at the other end, thanks to his lack of volume control, the acoustics, the darkness and the concentration on radio 4, there was an entirely innocent looking and slightly ill looking bald man about to be startled to the point where he almost emptied his full bladder.


Of course, I saw the funny side of this incident. They were totally oblivious to it though. So for a couple of minutes, to the outside observer, I was a bald crazy person laughing to themselves on a dicey pavement near a tunnel.


Later, as I came towards the end of my 4.5-mile walk I saw another bald man coming the other way. We gave each other the knowing look as bald men do. We both know the struggle damn it! But then I hoped that it was a friendly “Hello baldy” type of thing and not a “I’m cruising, do you fancy finding a bush?” kind of thing.


After convincing myself that it was indeed a “Hello baldy” type thing, it then dawned on me that if he had committed a crime whilst on this walk, his discernible feature was his acute baldness. Shit! Now I could be potentially framed for two criminals; the baseball cap and hoodie wearing assailant and baldy bad man.


For the final stretch of the walk I opted for a baseball cap worn backwards because it is highly unlikely that a crime would be committed by an eighties throw-back.


I still got looks from various walkers. Not because of looking like a criminal. Probably because I looked like a dick.


Maybe next time, I should dress in bad lycra and start screaming as I enter tunnels?

When The Dead contact you.

I was visiting my Aunt and she explained how she believes that her house is haunted. I’ve stayed there and I haven’t experienced anything. Likewise, my Uncle who happens to share the same living space (they’re married after all), hasn’t experienced anything either.

The evidence? Well, my Aunt swears that lights have been switched on and she has awoken in the middle of the night to discover that a TV might be switched on in one of my cousin’s rooms. But my cousins’s aren’t even home.

I can appreciate that this could be an unnerving predicament and I didn’t exactly feel the urge to get out a Ouija Board.

But later, whilst driving home and letting my little Grumpy mind wonder into the unknown reaches of randomness, I pondered further on the logic of this paranormal activity.

Because let’s be honest, if it is a sign from the “other side” then it’s a pretty crap thing to do isn’t it?

To switch on a TV or a light would, I assume, require some form of conscious thought, a definitive choice to take action and to me that shows a distinct lack of imagination. If you were a ghost and wanted to contact someone in the land of the living, what do you really expect to achieve by switching a light on? If anything, it shows a complete disregard for saving energy and fuel bills. Plus, it’s the fact that, well, it doesn’t really tell anyone anything does it? If you can interact with the physical realm albeit switching lights on and off and turning a tv on, why not do something more direct as a form of contact? Why not make a sign like those you see in the crowd at a WWE event?


Instead of “WWE Granny 86 years old,” it would read, “Hey! Aunty Edith says hello. Should have spent the inheritance on something more productive. Love from Uncle Joe. XXX” or “We saw what you did to the neighbours cat and are both disgusted and appalled. We have literally turned in our graves. From Nan and Grandad.”

But then it occurred to me that if it is possible to interact with the physical realm when you are in spirit and if you can actually move around a living space, touch and move things, then why are you mooching around people’s homes when they’re not around? Why not get on a plane and piss off somewhere nice? Why isn’t the Caribbean or Barbados known as the most haunted places on the planet? I’d be getting as much free travel as possible. It’s like the next logical step from a free pensioners bus pass.

Am I thinking too much about this?




I’ve discovered that I have a “look.” A “look” that’s more common than I realised. Since I bought some new glasses with a thicker frame, it’s become very apparent that I am indeed one of the many who have adopted “The Look.”

It’s like when you purchase a new car. You feel great as you drive around in your red Ford KA and then you see another, then another and another. Your bubble bursts when you realise that every other bloody driver on the road has a red Ford KA.

I’m the same now with my newly discovered “look.” I’m just another bald man with spectacles. Just another bog standard photo fit; another face in the classic 80’s game Guess Who; another creative possibility for a child at Christmas with a new Mr Potato Head.

Get a hard boiled egg. Draw a pair of glasses on it with a marker pen. Congratulations, you’ve just created “The Look.”

The other day I stepped into the reception area of work as I was heading home. I found a colleague who happens to be a bald man (completely shaved like me) with spectacles, signing out. Next to him, the coffee machine repair guy who just so happened to also be bald (completely shaven like us) with spectacles. He also had a striking ginger beard but he still sported “The Look.” He was part of the club.

“Bloody hell,” I said, “Three in a row!” I was genuinely enthused by this moment. I contemplated getting a selfie with them to share on social media to bring joy to all who gazed upon the three bespectacled baldies like we had just been uncovered on some kind of baldy scratch card where three baldies with glasses can win you a hair transplant and laser eye surgery.

Or we could have a selfie with our heads side by side, looking downwards. If we drew nipples on our heads and if the lady on reception stood behind us, we could be recreating that three breasted woman in Total Recall.


Unfortunately, I wasn’t met with the same level of enthusiasm in return. There’d be no time for banter here; no Total Recall re-enactment today. Personally I think they just need to open their minds.

Anyway, needless to say, I didn’t ask for a selfie.

Then today I left work a little late and had to get a dash on for the train. There’s a fine window of opportunity but who should I see running across my path as I burst through the exit door? Yes, a bald and bespectacled man, heading for the station.

As he ran past other commuters heading in that direction, I realised that my sprint for the train was now redundant. I will not be part of some humorous spectacle like a bald man charity dash or a glitch in the Matrix! I will not be a source of amusement! I was laughed at enough in the playground but not at thirty five damn it!

The fact that he was running in a kind of overly zealous, bouncy, children’s TV presenter way didn’t help and I didn’t want the other commuters to think I was chasing him.

Plus I’d probably try to beat him. It’s completely incongruent with the unwritten urban law of bald brotherhood. A baldy should never go head to head with a baldy.

So to prevent ridicule, I missed the train.

People with hair will never know the struggle.

Illness, T.V & Sex

This week I’ve been off work, ill.

Unfortunately, if you’re not in bed trying to sleep it off, day dribbling into your pillow, then you’re in front of the T.V with a hot drink and as many over the counter drugs you can get your hands on without the need to call an ambulance and get your stomach pumped.

I was flicking through the channels when I reached This Morning, with Phil and Holly and they were just about to start their sex phone in. I admit, I thought this should be interesting so I put the remote down and grabbed my hot drink, settling into the perfect viewing position.

The first caller was a lady who had split up from her husband, they had both had other relationships and now they are back together again. She was struggling to deal with the fact that her husband had been intimate with someone else. Holly was straight in there saying that her husband might be feeling the same thing. She’s wise beyond her years is Holly.Phil just nodded in agreement. Out of his depth, clearly.

Next caller was a young lady who’s just had her second child and feels that the intimacy has fizzled out. Again, Holly was straight in there saying that it’s normal when you’ve just had a child. You’re too knackered for any hanky panky. The sex therapist recommended setting aside five minutes on a regular basis specifically for hopping on the good foot and doing the bad thing. I’m paraphrasing there. The one thing that stood out to me, (no pun intended) was that five minutes isn’t much time at all is it? If he’s wearing overalls and work boots for instance, it could take a good three minutes to get undressed! Even if he was primed and ready to rock, it’s assuming that he hasn’t got much stamina.

After that call, Phil said, “We’re almost out of time but we’ve got time for one more quick one,” I admit I was wondering where he was going with this. He meant a call. A call from another Phil. I’m paraphrasing again but this is what he basically said:

“I’m 65, my wife’s 35. We’ve been together 19 years and we’ve got 5 kids, the youngest is two. We’re at it hammer and tongs on a daily basis! We love a bit of it. Drop the kids off at nursery or school, Boom! Straight back to bed. Boom! Love it! Boom!”

Presenter Phil then ended the call by saying, “We’ve ended on a happy one there,” in other words, a happy ending. Yes Phil; a happy ending. I saw what you did there you sly fox.

It wasn’t such a happy ending for the viewers who wanted to get through because they had genuine problems though. All thanks to a geriatric Russell Brand who thought he’d just ring through to a national television programme and gloat about how he and his considerably younger wife are banging more often than the Kodo school of taiko drumming!



Then an ad break but not before a message from Loose Women about today’s show.

I wondered if that was some sort of tedious link.


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:

Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 19.57.46.png


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.