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?

hhh-fears-divorce-1-1416127007

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?

Probably.

 

How To Create A Monster

I fear I have created a monster.

 

I was sat on the train approaching my stop when the train manager’s voice came through the speaker. His voice had a personality. He made a slight joke, changing Sandwell & Dudley to, “Dundwell and Sadley,” and following up with, “So good, they named it twice.” His light manner with a slight hint of sarcasm was actually a breath of fresh air. I looked around to see other commuters smiling at this.

 

Usually, the train manager sounds like he is slowly being killed by his job. Like he started the job with all good intentions, but the constant dealing with the general public has ground him down to a mere shadow of his former self and he now sits quietly questioning his life choices and he also thinks his wife is having an affair and his children hate him despite his staff discount on rail travel. This comes across in their usual announcements.

 

But the endearing message from our affable train manager today was good to hear. So much so, that I took to twitter about it.

 

Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 23.32.33.png

 

It’s important to get positive feedback. It’s encouraging, a nice thing to do and despite my normal grumpy exterior I am actually trying to be more positive this year, hence the positive outpouring of appreciation. Okay, maybe not an outpouring. It was just a tweet.

 

Anyway, I received a reply.

 

 

Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 23.33.10.png

A few days later, I was on the train heading back. Then the train manager’s voice came over the speaker, “We are now approaching Sandwell & Dudley, that’s Dundwell and Sadley, so good they named it twice!” It was the same guy but something was different. It just wasn’t the same. He’s obviously had the feedback I had given and that had given him a lift and that’s great but, he had become over enthusiastic and too contrived. He was trying too hard to be the comedian. He no longer had the endearing quality that made him so likeable before. He was now, if anything, a bit annoying. Annoying in a kind of Holiday park rep way.

 

I looked around the carriage. Not a single smile on the faces of my fellow commuters. This was a Friday too so this should have been an easy audience to please! No, his genuine, slightly sarcastic and likeable quality had gone. What had I done? I was Frankenstein and I had created a wannabe comedian train conductor who was now annoying. I’m to blame for this!

 

But it’s not the first time I’ve done this. A few years ago I was friendly with one of my neighbours.

 

He was into writing poetry and he also enjoyed playing guitar. “Well, effectively, you could be a song writer then,” I said like a bloody idiot. He then began to write songs and became a bit obsessive about it.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of exploring creativity and I would always encourage that, but then he started singing and, well, it wasn’t the best. Too nice to say anything negative, I continued to encourage it. He didn’t have a bad voice….. for a car alarm.

 

Then he played his first gig and of course, friends and family showed support for him. I was also there showing support and applauding after each song. With the sudden rush of fame, it fuelled his fire even more and while he continued to practice loudly songs about his ex-wife, his current wife patiently put up with it whilst cringing and secretly hating my guts for it.

 

They’re not together anymore and I am certain I’m not to blame for their amicable split. However I can’t help but think that his daily practicing, and the pain that inflicted on his wife, only fuelled her fire and sadly (and dundwell), that was down to me.

 

So, the moral of the story? Sometimes a positive intention creates monsters who become unlikeable to the public.

 

Or you’ll start a chain of events that can ruin a marriage.

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.

More “Interesting” Gym People

dd0672abb1bd79710735b1a790347b72Followers/ Stalkers will know that I recently joined a gym. Within a short timescale I became aware of a large number of odd characters at the gym. I wrote a post about them. You can read it here. I affectionately refer to them as bellends.

So tonight I discovered that there are even more bellends than I first anticipated.

The first one I shall mention is the first woman to have annoyed me at the gym.

The Woman Who Doesn’t Understand How The Gym Works!

I was working on a machine, feeling the burn, pumping ze iron and I noticed a woman sat on a machine that I wanted to use next. She was on her phone, sitting there as if she was waiting for a waiter to deliver her skinny mochachoca gluten-free, soya, sugar-free, chino.

It’s okay, I thought, she’s probably taking a breather. A breather that lasted over five minutes! She then left the machine and wandered over to another. As I sat down on the machine she had just vacated, I noticed firstly that she had left it very warm, and secondly that she was sat on another machine, still on her phone, in the start position but not actually doing anything.

Perhaps she didn’t understand the premise of this working out thing. You see, by all means sit on the machine, and yes, place your legs in the dedicated places for them, but you then have to move the machine. Sitting there and doing nothing, is not working out although technically, you can still update your Facebook status with, Britney is at – The Gym.

After five minutes there, she moved onto a leg press machine and guess what, yeah, she just sat there! I bet she talks a good training session though.

Meanwhile, in the free weight’s section…..

The Posing Body Dysmorphic!

In a rare event worthy of celebration, I manage to bag myself a bench. The bench faces a mirrored wall. I was doing my thing, when behind me I see the equivalent of a human pork pie staring into the mirror side on. Unlike many of his contemporaries who train in jumpers, he was sporting a sleeveless t-shirt. He was curling a barbell and then stopping and looking at himself in the mirror. He then got his iPhone 6 out to take some pictures. This really grinds my gears. I’m there to be working out, not as an extra in a backdrop of someones duck faced selfie to impress people in their friends list who couldn’t give a toss anyway.

 But then he stepped right next to me, messing about with his phone which for a few seconds was pointing in my direction. I stopped what I was doing and gave him The Look. Y’know, the one. Not quite the Freeze A Man To Death look that I’ve experienced in the past (Mrs G is a black belt) but my best attempt, (Yellow belt standard).

His attention is back on himself as he points the phone towards the mirror to take his photo. He squishes his bicep into the side of his body to create the illusion of muscle mass and takes a picture. The fact that he was resting his forearm on his pot belly and the irony of that seemed to completely bypass him.

Next time, maybe I should just photo Bomb with a bald grumpy flex?

Hello, who is joining us now?

A Gaggle Of Bellends

I don’t know what the collective noun is for a number of bellends. I’m going for gaggle. Well, here they are. Five of them, all pumped up, chest out, taking over all of the weights, claiming ownership of several benches and each of them acting as if they are the singular equivalent of ten men. They’re not. Their bravado, brash behaviour, arrogance and general bellendedness, (just made that word up) does nothing more than fuel my contempt. With every clatter of dramatically dropped weight, every grunt and every lustful glare at themselves in the mirror, as it interrupts my concentration, I just look at the twiglet legs that they don’t exercise and think….well, errr….. nothing clever, I just think twiglet. Could have thought of something more cleverly amusing there. Sorry.

Ah, here he is.

Mr I’m Going To Lift Ridiculous Weight And Probably Burst A Blood Vessel Or Pop Out A Little Poo.

There’s nothing wrong with lifting large weights. Nothing wrong with that at all. But not if you and your mate resemble Jack Skellington from A Nightmare Before Christmas! I see them coming over to the dumbbells and pick up 36Kg to do chest presses and then in the mirror, I watch them nearly pass out as they try to press 72kg. I just work with light weights in comparison and I’m happy. I’m working a rep range that allows me to work the muscle, build the muscle and I can control and know where I am. Eventually I’ll build the weight up. That seems like the logical thing to do. When you first start walking, you take it step by step until eventually you could walk. These guys must have been born with running trainers already on!

Last but not least.

The Grunting Bloke.

“Aaaaaagh!” “Uugh” “Hhnggg.” at a decibel level that even I can hear over the soothing sounds of Heavy Metal, my work out music of choice. Clearly, the guy on the bench to my right must be lifting colossal weights. I glance across just in time to witness the live action of a grunt. He wasn’t even lifting anything. This bellend was grunting just to lie down!

And so, with the gaggle, the grunters, the posers and the skinny strugglers, there was just too much testosterone in the room. I decided to leave before I grew a second adams apple.

I entered the changing room to be met with a naked Asian man sitting on a bench, picking his feet.  The flakes falling to the ground like parmesan. Mmmm Nice.

The WISDOM Within Us. 

wisdom- Einstein

It’s amazing, the wisdom that lies within you.  You may feel devoid of any most of the time and yet it can suddenly reveal itself on a rare occasion, like that of a solar eclipse but without the media coverage. But during times of sudden stress and fear, perhaps when we are in a place where we truly need some guidance, from nowhere, words of wisdom, like a 1 million candle strength torch, shining into a dark corner, obliterating the shadows den.

And as you lie there afterwards, staring at the sky, dumbfounded by the sudden oozing of a higher spiritual plane, you have to ask yourself, “Am I, The Grumpy Young Bloke, from Dudley, a holy man?”

I experienced such an event my Grumpyans. I shall share this event with you. Maybe you can relate or better still, perhaps it will inspire you. Not sure how. Maybe you’ll give up Kebabs or something.

This morning, the lovely Mrs Grump approached me and said something that left me feeling completely out of my comfort zone. A feeling of helplessness, of inescapable dread and horror.

a

You see, Mrs Grump stepped towards me, her beautiful green eyes looking at me ( I had only just gotten up so I resembled the Crypt Keeper ) and she said to me, “I’m wearing blusher but not foundation today. What do you think?”

I felt myself recoil inside in some natural internal reflex. What do I think? What do I think?

What a privelidged position to find myself. One where my opinion could count for something. Alas, the subject matter is something I do not have the neurological pathways to compute and therefore comment. May as well ask me about a boy band or the current generic depressing plot of one of the soaps. I am an alien in that territory. I don’t belong in that world.

My previous experience of the make up department of a large department store is being sprayed with a sample of new cologne and then enjoying the look of distress on the sales assistant as I pretend that it’s burning my skin. I know it’s cruel, but funny.

Words-Of-Wisdom-William-Gibson-Make-Sure-You-Are-Not-Surrounding-Yourself-With-Assholes

I’ve been in a similar situation before when Mrs Grump asked me to comment on the overall look of her make up. Again, I stood there wide eyed with a vacant look. She thought I was doing my Rain Man impression. My response was a typical blokey thing to say. As I pointed to a part of her face I said, “Ah, you’ve coloured that bit in?” My attempt at sounding interested was feeble.

words-of-wisdom-hd-wallpaper-6-660x330

Now I was in that same situation. I couldn’t make a fool of myself again. If I sound cool, casual and positive, despite the current Crypt Keeper look and morning breath, I’ll probably be considered as sexy. I could get some points here! The male to female relationship, as we all know guys, is a points based system! NEVER be in debit!

I saw her face and realised that I was looking at someone, who was looking at a person who had a blank, wide eyed and vacant look. Me again. This was going to end badly if I wasn’t careful.

“Say something,” I told myself.

It was then that the wisdom came out. From where, I don’t know. Perhaps I was channeling some omnipotent all knowing energy; a spiritual connection to something greater than ourselves. Because in that moment, in response to a question about make up and following an awkward silence for a bit too long, I said, “Trust your instinct.”

That was it. That was all I’d got. Mrs Grump who as usual, looked lovely (yes she reads this) looked at me as if I had spoken in some distant tongue. She’d only asked for my comments about her make up. I didn’t know what to say and so backed into a corner, asked to comment on this non-familiar territory, the best I could do, was to respond like Yoda.

Pathetic.

Mrs Grump found it funny anyway.

Words+of+wisdom_d7a0fe_3358624

Top 10 Annoying People At The Gym!

funny-picture-i-dont-always-go-to-the-gym

I’ve taken the plunge. I’ve done something status quo. I’m one of the masses. I’ve joined a gym in January.

 

Now a couple of years ago, you may recall, I wrote about my very first experience of an exercise programme called Insanity. You can read about it here. I never told you that I actually completed it. Straight up! Honest! I felt great apart from my knees and joints and general agony but then after that I decided I needed something a bit more challenging. So for a laugh I completed the SAS physical selection process. Okay, so they asked me to join up as I smashed all their records. They could see that I was a physical specimen with a natural killer/survival/tactical/strategist mind. But I told them straight. I said, “Look fellas, I appreciate the offer, but the insurance world needs me.

 

Then I didn’t do anything for a bit so I thought I’d take advantage of a Pure Gym down the road.

 

So as the Grumpy Young Bloke enters the arena of fitness, sweat and unflattering lycra, it’s no wonder that there are certain things that I have noticed. And as The Grumpy Young Bloke, many of these things annoy me. There’s a scientific and rather affectionate term for these annoyances. The term is a Bellend. So here’s a list of the many types of Bellends that piss me off, because I’ve heard that lists are good for blogs.

 

  1. Smelly Bellends.

I know a few people are sweating but there is a thing called deodorant. There have been instances when my gag reflex has kicked in as someone has walked past.

 

  1. Bellends Working Out With Their Women.

I think it’s great to have a hobby for couples to enjoy. Although this evening, I saw a short Bellend with a funky haircut, tattoo on his neck, earrings and a double chin, trying to bench press two 22kg dumbells in front of his missus. She hardly looked sexually aroused looking on at his bright red trembling turnip head. She probably knew she would have to wash his underpants. It was quite a strain for him.

 

  1. Competitive Bellends.

I’m not competing with anyone. I’m doing my own thing! I start with a ten minute run to warm up and I like to get to a decent pace to get that heart rate thumping. I looked across, the other day, to see the guy next to me, with his running machine set to really fast. But he’d lifted his feet off the ground, supporting himself on the side rails and was pretending to run at that speed with no actual contact between footwear and treadmill. Yes! What a Bellend!

 

  1. Letching Bellends.

Women attend the gym too. I take no notice. I only have eyes for one woman. But it does turn my stomach when I see some blokes blatantly having a letch at the women. It’s pretty cringe. It’s that look on their face, like a vegan staring at a carrot and blatantly thinking, ‘yeah, I’d chew on that nutritious orange stick, raw! Mmmmm.’ It’s so wrong.

 

  1. Testosterone Bellends

Some guys are very muscular. Others think they are muscular but are really just fat. Both types are prone to walking around with chest out, trying to look aggressive. The free weights area is always a great place to witness this cocktail of alpha males. I take no notice. I’m not there for anyone else and besides I’m an SAS natural killer/survival/tactical/strategist expert and insurance claims handler. I can handle myself!

It is pathetic though because they look around to see who’s looking at how much they can lift incorrectly with bad form. Yes make good use of that natural hinge in the spine! Straighten the knees and bend the back! Wow look how strong you are! You’re my hero! Yes of course I’ll call you an ambulance.

 

  1. Bellends Wanting People To Look At Them.

Hey music is powerful. But the music you can hear through your headphones only generally can be heard by you alone. No one else can appreciate it. You are not in some kind of Rocky training montage! Tonight I witnessed the sudden clatter of metal as the skinny chap next to me dramatically dropped the weight on the tricep curler machine and suddenly jumped up, lightly jumping on the spot like a boxer whilst grimacing. He was clearly worked up. I wasn’t sure if it was his music, if he needed the loo or if he was suddenly overcome by the Lord! Then I noticed that after he slyly looked around to see if anyone was watching, he stormed over to the mirrors to complete some aggressive tricep curls with small free weights, whilst aggressively staring at himself. If he could lip read, he may have seen my reflection mouthing the word, “Bellend”.

 

  1. Bellends Hogging The Machine.

God I hate them. Sitting there for ages either letching, trying to look intimidating, or on their phone. Few of them are sweating and messing up their sculpted fashionable haircuts.

I want to work out. I don’t want to walk around searching for a machine that’s free. Perhaps if I jogged around whilst searching, I’d be killing two birds with one stone!

So if I find a machine, I have to stick to it and work four sets of the same exercise. But during my rest break for one minute between sets, I probably look like one of them! I’m not one of them. I am NOT one of them!

 

  1. Bellends On Their Phone.

Sorry, are you there to work out, get fit, challenge yourself, sculpt your body into that of an adonis? No you’re there because you want to tag yourself on your Facebook page as, “At the gym” in a vain attempt to impress your mates. What a Bellend. Unplug from Facebook for an hour of your life for God’s sake! What is wrong with you?

 

  1. Lazy Bellends.

This ties in to the phone use. I’ve seen someone on an exercise bike, leaning back with a towel draped over their face, looking like they are taking a nap. There’s no work ethic in some people. But I bet those same people love to tell others about their killer session at the gym. But they get caught out. For one, the complete lack of weight loss is a sure fire way of knowing when someone only talks a good session.

 

  1. Naked Bellends.

This is literal. The men’s changing room can be an uncomfortable place. Where else could you wander out of the toilets to witness a man blow-drying his happy sack? Maybe he’d shampooed and conditioned it a few minutes earlier.

 

But I have learnt a valuable lesson my friends. A lesson that I will share with you. A lesson, in relation to the lockers and which one to pick.

 

I entered the changing room in search of a decent size locker. There were many to chose from. I just so happened to pick one, which was next to another locker with a padlock on it.

 

I unpacked my bag, my water bottle, towel and IPod so I could work out to the sounds of metal! I placed these items on the bench directly in front of and below my chosen locker. I had almost packed away everything when a man approached me. He was the temporary owner of the locker next to mine. He was naked, swinging about. He was middle aged, loose, saggy and out there unashamedly, letting the air circulate.

 

Now I’m not prudish and I’m well aware that changing rooms do contain naked bodies, but it doesn’t mean I’m going to be comfortable with it, does it?

 

And as he dangled there in my periphery, I realised he was dangling just above my IPod. Mere inches away. I couldn’t exactly reach down and grab it could I? The IPod that is!! So I had to wait and pretend to mess about in my bag until old droopy bollocks had put his underpants on and moved away.

 

I’m sure you will agree. Harrowing.

 

So there you have it. My top ten annoying Bellends in the gym and at the time of writing this, I’ve only been a member for a week!

 

Here’s a motivational poster I made!

Gym Motivation

Gym Motivation

Do You Stick To Your Principles?

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/f6e/41922548/files/2014/12/img_0022-1.gif

Yes I usually do. But there’s a fine line between principles and stubbornness.

“Screw you capitalist swine!” I shouted, with my middle finger raised at the woman behind the till in Starbucks.

This was in my mind of course. It was probably a bit harsh to take it out on her. She just wants a job like the rest of us. Probably a nice person, with bills to pay, dreams and aspirations of escapism towards a fulfilling and meaningful existence. She might even be more of a tea drinker.

I had purchased my last Starbucks coffee. I had made the decision and that was that. My line in the sand was drawn damn it. The reason? Simply, I refuse to part with my money to a company that doesn’t pay tax back into the UK economy. Using this legal loophole is crafty, but fundamentally and morally wrong. We’re undergoing severe austerity cuts here in this country and our National Health Service, which we should be proud of, is struggling and falling into disrepute because of financial difficulties, even resorting to putting parts of the service out to tender to large corporations, which will run put profit ahead of quality care.

Anyway, I made the decision that Starbucks would no longer get my hard earned spondoolies.

I tweeted, ‘That’s it. My last @StarbucksUK coffee. Not fair to spend my money when they don’t pay tax. @TaxAvoidance_UK Power to the small independents.’ Yes, I copied in Tax Avoidance UK. I don’t mess about. My tweets automatically link to my Facebook too, so all my family, friends and 48 followers on Twitter were going to hear about this. I knew that this ripple would escalate through social media and send a shockwaves around the world.

I was right. Within a matter of days, I had gained 7 likes on the Facebook post. No response on Twitter. I always preferred Facebook anyway.

Must be a slow burner.

A few days later, I walked past a Starbucks and raised my fist saying, “Ooh pay your taxes you bloody tax evading bastards!” My friend looked at me and asked whether I was turning into Alan Partridge intentionally. It’s not a conscious decision.

I decided to Google companies which do not pay tax in the UK.

1. Starbucks – I will miss the Caramel Machiatto and shortbread cookie that I see as an odd treat. I shall also miss sitting in a certain Starbucks in Birmingham City centre. Oh well, I am a man of principle. I will not falter and change my mind now. Especially as I’ve told the world and the world has listened!

2. Amazon – I do a lot of online shopping and Amazon is my usual first port of call. My regular purchase consists of nasal strips to minimise my snoring and the resultant bruises from the good lady. Blue is usually my colour, but not when it’s skin tone. Oh well, at least there’s always eBay.

3. eBay – Bollocks!

4. Facebook – So much for social media campaigns then. My seven supporters will have to get on Twitter. I err, always preferred Twitter anyway…. honest.

5. Google – There’s an irony that I found out that Google don’t pay UK tax through a Google search. Oh well, I’ll have to find a new search engine. Is Ask Jeeves any good?

6. Apple – Well that’s me completely f****d! My Mac, my iPhone and iPad need to be binned. I can also forget about all my music on iTunes and on my iPod. I’ll have no means of surfing the web, using a different search engine, for other online retailers or alternative independent coffee shops!

I am a man of principle, stubborn, easily agitated and distracted by balloons. Much of that sentence is irrelevant. But if I stick to that principle and apply the whole boycotting of non-tax paying companies, it is going to prove very awkward and expensive for me.

So I’m sitting here, enjoying a shortbread cookie and a grande caramel macchiato, but not tweeting about it. I don’t need seven friends on Facebook, including my aunty Doris to boo and hiss at me with placards calling me a Judas!

Happy New Year to you all!

How To Inspire The Youth Of Today

Inspiring-greatness-in-others

I put the bins out. It’s my job as the MAN of the house. Not one for gender stereotypes but there are certain things that the man must do. Put the bins out, climb into the loft, cut the grass and grow the beard. In my opinion, if Mrs Grump did any of those things it would affect the entire equilibrium of the planet. Besides, I’m not sharing my razors!

As I turn to face the house, I see that my friend and neighbour, Audrey has opened her kitchen window, (It’s at the front of the house by the way. I don’t go wandering around the back of people’s houses! Well, not while they are in!)

I say hello as although I am grumpy, I consider myself a good neighbour who is always there for his neighbours. Take the other side, for example. If the time comes to put their evil bastard of a cat down; the one that looks at me like I’m a piece of shit; the only cat that I’ve ever flicked the bird at, I will be more than happy to oblige. Why pay expensive veterinary bills?

Anyway, I popped my head through the window and Audrey was serving up dinner for her two boys. The oldest who’s eight came into the kitchen. He wasn’t impressed because he had gotten homework to do.

“It’s important to do your homework, isn’t it Uncle Grump?” said Audrey. His younger five year old brother came bowling into the kitchen as bold as brass, giving it large, “Hello Uncle Grump!!”

I had the stage. This was my chance to share wisdom from my thirty-three years on this spinning ball. Audrey was looking to me to reaffirm her message to her two young children about the importance of study and education and the positive impact it could have on their lives. This was my opportunity to expand their mind.

Now if I had had time to prepare, I would have explained that through education, they can intellectually stimulate their minds and develop their understanding of the world around them. That the brain is a muscle to be worked and exercised like any other muscle in the body. That they should embrace this opportunity to learn as much as they can, to allow the world around us to inspire them because inspiration and education are powerful allies, and that combined, they can create wondrous opportunity. To say that their education forms a large part of whom they will become as people and where they will fit amongst society. How they will live the rest of their lives, and how others will judge them. Alas it can be said that in the modern world, a great education is a springboard towards prosperity. Indeed, would it not be a shame for the pure potential of these two young minds to not be utilised and explored? Who knows what greatness their generation could create. Maybe an affordable and revolutionary cure for male pattern baldness?

But I didn’t have time to prepare. I was on the spot, now, in this moment. Audrey continued to look at me whilst these two young faces also stared at their balding, miserable neighbour.

“Well, err, if you don’t get a good education, it will be harder to get a good job,” I said. “Yes,” agreed Audrey. She knew I had wisdom. I was oozing wisdom. It must be the effect of the beard I’m attempting to grow again.

I could have left it there really. I’m just a neighbour. But I didn’t.

“If you haven’t got a job, you’ll have a minimal amount of income and it’ll be an extra stretch to buy deodorant!”

“Or soap,” said Audrey. She was on board with me here. For a split second I wondered whether to add that no job didn’t necessarily mean no money because crime was another option but I opted against it.

I could have left it there really. I’m just a neighbour. But I didn’t.

“Thank you Uncle Grump,” said Audrey.

“And then you’ll smell!” I continued. I needed to connect with these two boys. “You’ll smell like dirty pants out of a laundry basket! Then you’ll be known as the two brothers from Dudley who smell like pooey skid marks!”

Audrey was now looking at me with a little bit of fear for she knew that I was now on a roll.

I had already gotten an “Uuurgh” out of the boys. I could have left it there really. I’m just a neighbour. But I didn’t.

“And because you don’t have a job, because you’re uneducated, you shall have to spend your days visiting the dole cue on a regular basis…..”

I was doing my best to try to instil fear into their young minds. Fear of the consequence of not doing their homework!

“….where you will be queuing next to a man who coughs on you….”

“Uuuuurgh,” This was working.

“…and smells of wee!”

“Uuuurgh,” I don’t want to stop there. Audrey was looking a little uncomfortable now. But I was on a roll.

“…and next to you, you will have a man with large boils with green slime oozing out, puss going everywhere and you fear that it might be infectious, whilst he’s there saying (I now put on an accent. A northern accent. Could have been Lancashire or Yorkshire. This is not a representation of the people from those areas by any means.) ‘Can you help me, I didn’t do my homework and now I stink of wee and poo and I’ve got these nasty growths all over me that ooze slime.'”

The boys were starting to look a little traumatized by this imagery. Perhaps even a little tearful because quite frankly, my acting out of this scene was nothing short of Oscar worthy genius. But now it was time to reinforce the message.

“So is that how you want to be when you grow up?” I said to them overly aggressive.

“No,” they replied huddled together for support. Audrey, had a look of bewilderment on her face.

“Well do your homework then!”

I’m not sure what Audrey made of it. Whether she thought it was valuable or actually harmful to paint such a clear picture in the minds of these boys.

But my work was done. Again I have reinforced my position as an upstanding pillar of the local community.

—————

 

How would You fill the void?

It’s funny isn’t it, the interactions we can have with people? The many different possibilities, variables and outcomes that can come of two individuals with free will, free thought, free expression, freedom to react and the sometimes unavoidable misunderstandings. But the fact that people are able to converse with one another is a wonderful thing. The joy of meeting someone and finding out that they have similar interests to you. Then you build rapport, exchange phone numbers, become friends on facebook, find out where they live, sit outside their house sometimes, get asked to move on by the police, see them in court, get issued a restraining order. Then the circle is complete and you are back where you started. Strangers once more.

 

What I’m saying is, interaction and the sharing of ideas, the coming together of minds is a beautiful thing.

 

One day, in the very near past, I was sitting eating a sandwich in the canteen at work when a colleague came over to talk to me. “Alright son?” he says to me. He is not old enough to be my father. It’s a common Brummie expression. I respond with the courteous, “Hello.”

 

He then sits down in front of me and looks at me with that familiar expression of his. You see, he has a constant expression like he is waiting for me to say something. As if I’m going to tell him something. He can’t help looking that way, it’s just his face, but I then feel compelled to fill the space of silence between us. I have to because he’s waiting for me to tell him something.

 

“How’s it going?” I ask.

 

“Alright son,” he says.

 

Then once again, there is a gaping void of nothing between us. The silence is deafening. I have nothing to say to this man but he is still looking at me like he is waiting for me to tell him a story. I have no story. I have nothing I want to say. I just want to eat my f*cking sandwich in peace.

 

Well I can’t be rude. So, under pressure I decide to be the one who fills that void with some small talk.

 

“How’s your day going?”

“Alright,” he replies.

 

Very small talk. Again, we have a long pause. I start chewing on my crust.

 

A conversation is usually a two-way thing. Why would this man sit there, staring at me expectantly but not engage me in any conversation?

 

Now I’m really under pressure. I need to draw upon my skills of small talk genius. I shall engage with this man on an intellectual plane of stimulating dialogue. I shall expand his mind. I shall open up this very closed book, probably okay for light reading, but nonetheless, I will learn about this man. We shall together take each other’s minds on a journey to ponder the greatest questions of civilisation, human natures moral boundaries, the possibilities and incomprehensible echelons of the universe, religion, spirituality, life and the meaning of it all. Damn it, I’ve only got 13 minutes of my lunch left and half a cucumber sandwich but f*ck it! I’m going for it!

 

“So you’ve had a good morning then yeah?”

That was it. I was all out.

 

He shrugs. I take another bite of my cucumber sandwich taking particular attention to the crunchy yet succulent texture of the slice of cucumber, just to take my mind off the silence between my colleague and I as he still sits there waiting for something from me.

 

He soon learns that I have nothing for him. After a minute, a very long minute, he tells me he’ll see me later and off he goes.

 

That cucumber was delicious! I wish I’d told him.

Proof That Karma Is Real!

Fear not my legions of Grumpy followers (33) for although I have been silent for a couple of weeks or so, I have not deserted you. I know you may have been losing sleep at night worrying about it. Rest easy now for I have returned.

 

The subject of this post is somewhat of an esoteric one. You see, I have witnessed Karma. Karma is indeed real. I can vouch for that.

 

Karma is the energy of equilibrium. The idea that you get what you give. Give good Karma and receive good Karma in return. Give bad Karma… you get the point.

 

So I grabbed my morning coffee, the caffeine kick I have come to rely on in the mornings and headed for the train. Having boarded the train I strolled down the aisle looking for a seat. Now I usually like to be the social assassin at times because some people deserve it. I’m talking specifically about people who feel they have a right to occupy two seats at once using one seat for their bag, rucksack, handbag, whatever. I usually aim for them and take the seat forcing them to move the bag.

 

I wasn’t in the mood for this kind of thing so instead I opted for a vacant aisle seat next to a small man reading a newspaper. On Virgin Train carriages there are tables every now and then. One of these tables was just across from me and I could see a woman sat near the window with paperwork strewn over the table in front of her. Her handbag sat on the seat next to her. Perhaps she was doing some work. Perhaps she was studying and doing some homework last minute like I used to on the school bus.

 

Down the carriage came a young chap. He had bedraggled hair and a bit of a beard. He was carrying a small brown paper bag. He was either an alcoholic or had been to the shop on the train. It was too early to tell which.

 

He approached the seat next to the lady doing her homework and asked if he could have the seat where her bag was. I had my earphones in listening to a TED talk, but even so, I could hear her dramatic sigh and looked to see her rolling her eyes and shitty attitude whilst grabbing the handbag and placing it under her legs. Her face looked like a bulldog licking piss off a stinging nettle.

 

Did she buy two tickets that morning? One for her and one for her bag? Probably not and yet people seem to catch the train and think they have every right to take two seats. They then pull faces and get the arse ache when they’re asked to move their bag.

 

It’s like when people sit in seats that are reserved and despite clearly saying reserved, the dickhead will still chance it and sit there rather than look for a seat that is available. Because we’re British, we do have a tendency to be too nice and I regularly witness the awkwardness of the person who has found their seat with some miserable, inbred, inconsiderate, Troglodyte and their fat arse warming the seat, only to have to say, “Excuse me, I believe that’s my seat?” with the tonality of their speech going upward as if to be asking a question and whilst showing the ticket to the Troglodyte to prove it. This is then followed by a big sigh and attitude from the Troglodyte whilst they have to stand up, all eyes glaring at them as everyone knows they’ve been caught out. They then have the walk of shame. The person with the reserved seat is way too nice if you ask me. But that’s the British way I guess.

 

This would be a perfect time to be completely rude to the person sat in your seat. They deserve it for the bare faced cheek of it in my opinion. “Oi! Troglodyte, you’re in my seat, F*ck off! Can’t you read it says reserved?! Move you’re shallow gene pooled arse somewhere else you inconsiderate, rancid scum bucket!” Despite the politeness of the one who belongs in the seat, that’s probably what they are thinking. But you have to be careful not to arouse the Troglodyte into a physical confrontation, that thick, dense skull is designed to be take hits to the head to protect the minute brain inside.

 

You may be getting the vibe from me that I detest these people. I do. I don’t even have a reserved seat!

 

So back to the woman at the table. She has her little, completely unnecessary strop aiming her negativity towards this young chap who just wanted to sit down. She starts to get on with her homework and the chap sits down next to her.

 

This is when I witnessed Karma and as it went on and on I felt more and more warm inside.

 

The woman suddenly stopped writing, sat up and turned her head towards the window. Her hand raised and she placed her first finger under her nose. Why on earth was she pretending to have a moustache because she probably already had one, I thought. But of course, as I looked at the chap sat next to her, at his blank, vacant expression on his hairy face and I noticed that he appeared to be trying to create dreadlocks, I realised that although he didn’t really look that dirty, he must have been giving off a little bit of a whiff.

 

The act of placing a finger lightly under the nose is supposed to be a way of trying to deal with the smell with some decorum but it’s actually really obvious. You may as well shove a sock up each notstril.

 

It’s a credit to her amazing resilience and grit that she managed to focus her mind at the task at hand. Perhaps she was able to use some of her brain power to shut out the smell or perhaps she opted to breath through her mouth but she carried on with her homework.

 

It’s not easy to concentrate on a train. There are a number of sources of sounds and potential irritations around you along with the swaying of the carriage from time to time. I watched with glee as the woman suddenly stopped again, unable to concentrate as our Greenpeace, tree climbing, swampy activist friend reached into his crisp paper bag, the cracking sound of the paper creasing louder than you’d expect, and pulls out a Bounty chocolate bar.

 

If ever there was the need for a taste of paradise, this was it. Bounty’s come in two individual halves. Swampy threw one half in whole and proceeded to chomp away with his mouth open. The chocolate and coconut taste of paradise slopping around in his mouth resembling underpants in a tumble dryer. The slapping and squelching sound as his mouth opened and closed was like something you’d expect from a Bull Mastiff. Shortly afterwards the second half went in and again the chomping, slopping and spectacle began again.

 

The woman looked uncomfortable. I was enjoying this.

 

With some small flakes of coconut caught in his beard, he reached into his paper bag again. Again the sound of crinkling, crisp paper bag cutting through the background sounds of the train and even the TED talk I was listening to. Slowly his hand emerges from the bag with …… a Snickers. This really was the breakfast of champions. Chomping away with half asleep eyes, mouth open, nuts, chocolate and caramel sloshing around in his mouth completely oblivious to the woman sat next to him, looking on with a slight panic on her face about how long she would have to endure this.

 

It was obvious that she now felt dirty and wanted a good scrub down with bleach and a wire brush. She caught me grinning but I tried to pretend it was something I was listening to that was making me laugh.

 

The feast continued as he threw his second wrapper onto the table next to her homework and reached into the crinkling paper bag for a third time. This time, he pulled out some sort of nut bar and again the carnage commenced. This time, some nuts did manage to escape his mouth and they took shelter in his beard alongside the coconut flakes from earlier.

 

Casting the wrapper away he reached in for a fourth time and pulled out….. a packet of biscuits. The woman looked on in dismay. She was trapped. It was brilliant. A finger under her nose like a moustache, her eyes glancing from his hair to his open mouth, to the wrappers on the table, back to the open mouth as he forced a whole biscuit most of the way in and proceeded to chew with crumbs tumbling and cascading, down his hairy chin and into his lap.

 

This my Grumpyans, was Karma at it’s best.

 

I had to get off the train whilst his onslaught of the biscuits continued but I fell prey to Karma too. Probably for getting so much pleasure from that woman’s anguish. Later that morning, I discovered that some Starbucks coffee had dripped down the front of my shirt leaving several small stains. Later that day, whilst eating my sandwich, some beetroot escaped and landed on the left side of my shirt. I looked like I was wearing the shirt used as a “Before” example in a washing powder advert. I felt like a tramp.

 

Karma people, Karma!