Hooray for Goths!

It's almost Halloween and up here in the North of England that's a very special time of the year.

Yes, it's the start of the Cold Snap Season and for Care-Home Workers across the county it can be a very lucrative period where rooms suddenly become 'available' again and the rates can go up...
Just one window at the top of the landing left open overnight can increase revenue by up to 25%.

(In fact, if you can get the caretaker to wear a cowl and carry a scythe, you could be looking at nearer 30%)

But there's another group of people for whom this weekend means a great deal, a group of people who try their damnedest to be more intimidating and terrifying than any Care Home Workers - but fail miserably.
They dress in black leather and chains, have more piercings than a randy Mrs Brosnan and tattoos on every available inch of skin.

I'm talking about Goths.

I love Goths, they're great. They have a terrific sense of theatrical style, brooding romanticism and stylish pessimism. I know quite a few Goths and they are absolutely lovely people. Goths rock. But they're not scary. Never have been and never will. Even Marilyn Manson comes across as a nice cuddly, warm and intelligent young man despite his attempts to terrify America.

In his recent Radio 4 programme 'Objective', the fantastic Richard Herring takes a look at why the simple 'hoodie' has become such a terrifying garment, a warm cotton sweatshirt with a hood has come to symbolise feral youth, a criminal underclass and yet if it's a bit nippy even my Dad wears one. On the other hand, the average Goth will be decorated in symbols of death and decay, such as skulls, have a pallid, vampiric demeanour, be covered in spikes, crosses, chains, nose rings, coloured contact lenses, actual dog-collars, and other S&M paraphernalia and it just looks nice!

I once met a couple of young Goths who had been thrown off a bus because the lad had his girlfriend on a dog-leash. The driver had objected to this apparent sexism and chucked them off his bus. The thing is, if he'd spent more than 4 seconds to speak to them he would have realised that not only was this girl far from subservient to her boyfriend, but she was definitely the one who wore the PVC trousers in that relationship! It was obvious that this girl would not be made to wear the dog-leash, in fact I seem to recall that it was her idea in the first place.

There have, over the past few years, been some truly horrible examples of Goths being bullied, attacked and in some cases, murdered simply because they belong to a subculture that others cannot, or are unwilling to, understand. This, as ANY RIGHT THINKING PERSON should agree, is absolutely despicable.
Absolutely no-one should be victimised, tortured or attacked because of the music they like or the clothes that they wear. Especially not Goths. Far from being intimidating, they are often intimidated.

No-one has ever walked home alone, late at night and suddenly got all worried and thought "Oh no, there's a Goth following me!" They can hang around shopping centres to their hearts content and will never be banned. I'd rather be in a club full of Goths than a Sports bar with Sky Soccer on.
Any. Day. Of. The. Fucking. Week.
Goths are great.

If you've spent anytime in the North of England since the 1980s then you will know a Goth. You see them hanging around The Corn Exchange, drinking cider in dingy pubs, listening to Sisters Of Mercy and generally enjoying themselves whilst simultaneously pretending to be miserable.

And this weekend they will descend upon fabulous Whitby for the legendary Gothic Weekender. The reason they've chosen Whitby is fairly obvious to anyone who has even the slightest interest in horror, but for those of you that are still perplexed by the idea of a horde of patchouli-smelling, self-proclaimed misfits descending upon a small Northern fishing port then it can be summed up in one word.
One name.

You see most Goths are very well-read, and in Bram Stoker's classic novel (which I suspect more than a few Goths have browsed-through) the Transylvanian Count is washed ashore in Whitby in a crate and then transmogrifies into a large black dog that roams the famous Abbey ruins.
Brilliant! Satanic hounds roaming about at Halloween. In Whitby!

I've never been to the Whitby Gothic Weekender but I dearly would love to go. I'm not sure I could pull off the look, but a place in Yorkshire where people dress in black and sit around getting drunk and mumbling sounds like my kind of holiday. Have a look, yourself - http://wgw.topmum.co.uk/

I hope everyone has a miserable/brilliant/happy/terrifying/fun time.

Enjoy yourselves, Goths!!

***stop press***

After writing this I discovered that today would have been the 98th birthday of the wonderful actress Elsa Lanchester.
Who is Elsa Lanchester?
Elsa Sullivan Lanchester (28 October 1902 – 26 December 1986)

Why, she's the Queen of The Goths!
What a great look.


Je voudrais un Revolution

I don't know about you, but I've not been asked, by a great number of people, what I think of the government's Spending Review.

Huge swathes of people have not approached me nor asked me what I think, which in itself seems peculiar. You see I read a lot of newspapers. I consider myself quite well-read, childishly naive, easily distracted, fiscally childlike, but not without an opinion. And yet it seems that I'm in the minority of people that hasn't yet been demonised by a right-wing columnist, caricatured by a left-wing columnist, invited to sit on a sofa by a TV crew in a shopping centre or stopped in the street by a mic-on-a-stick reporter to ascertain just how I'm going to cope.

Yet every time I pick up a paper there's a picture of a sad-faced Nana holding up a gas bill or a single mum and her glum-looking offspring gazing longingly at a plate of beans on toast. Where's my fucking photo shoot? I've NEVER had a proper job, I've  got no pension, I have no idea if I'll be employed this time next week let alone next year, but do the papers care about me? No. It's all pensioners, parents and fucking Harrier Jump Jet pilots.

And what do these whinging fuckers do? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. They start each sentence by stating their demographic "As a parent..", "As a pensioner..", blah blah, then bleat for about a paragraph about how they'll be working until they are 83, wearing pants made out of toilet carpet-mats and eating nothing but rainwater sandwiches until 2018. Then they all shrug and repeat the mantra that 'we're all in it together' and go back to their soggy lunch.
What?? We're NOT all in it together.
I bet David Cameron's butler is still ordering his yacht-polish.

Why is no-one protesting this shit properly???
Where are the rallies and marches???

Why has no-one even called Billy Bragg yet???


Sometimes I wish I was French.
Oh yes. You heard me. French.
They know how to react properly.
(I don't know why they burn a sheep every time, I think it's some kind of slow-cooking picket-line snack.. The pissing in cheese is  just something they already do anyway).

The French protest at EVERYTHING. Right now there's a French Prince protesting about the Japanese pop-artist Takashi Murakami being exhibited at his ancestral home of the Palace of Versailles. A Prince!! Protesting about someone bringing some lovely art into a Palace because it just isn't posh enough.

"Prince Sixte-Henri de Bourbon-Parme believes Murakami's brightly coloured work dishonours
the memory of his ancestors.  The prince and fellow protesters say Murakami 'denatures' French culture." - BBC News

"You Pompous French Twat." - Mister Williams

How could anyone object to massive smiling flowers, for Gawd's sake???
That whole Revolution business seems to be something that happened to other people as far as he's concerned.

Anyway, maybe (and it's a long shot, I know) I'm being selfish. Maybe I should show a little more compassion and solidarity with all the thousands upon thousands of people who are joining me in that wonderful bracket of society that earns too much to get benefits but too little to actually benefit.

Maybe my initial reaction has been a little heartless and unfeeling in the wake of a MILLION people losing their jobs, public services being decimated, the Arts & Film Councils being shafted, the housing market imploding, child and housing benefit being pissed against a tree and the poorest in society being forced to prop up the tax dodgers that bankroll the Government we never voted for.

Yeah, perhaps I have reacted badly and selfishly.

But then again I'm not the cunt responsible for making all the cuts, smugly getting a pat on the back from my chortling multi-millionaire mates whilst looking like a 5 year old who'd just sung "We're Walking In The Air" in a school play without pissing in my expensive Italian pants.

The Tories really did cheer at the news that 500,000 people were going to be made immediately jobless. They actually did do that.

So, if I do get asked what I think about the Spending Review, I think I'll at least pretend to be French...


Anyone know how to make a guillotine?



I haven't written a blog for over a fortnight now and, despite what some of you think, it's not due to laziness it is in fact due to me realising that rather than helping expel my demons by ranting about them in print I'm actually becoming even less tolerant and even more angry than before.

Before the blog I would gently seethe and let my hatred and anxiety fizzle away in my brain like spit on a griddle, but now I am used to writing angry and inventive insults I find that I just cannot stop myself thinking them.  It seems that I am seeking out things to be angry about, which is a worry at my advanced age.

Thankfully I live in Leeds and there are no shortage of twunts to help me out with this.

In fact, I was going to tell you about me angrily standing up to a pair of heartless con-women claiming to be collecting for the Pakistani floods and targeting vulnerable old people in the bus-station (which made me feel good) and then, in the space of 10 minutes, telling an old drunk in Greggs who was indignantly baffled by the queueing system to 'piss off' and to 'go fuck your knuckles' (which made me feel good, then bad, then good again).

I don't want to be angry all the time, I don't want to be impotently furious, raging against the storms like a skinhead King Lear as channelled through the Viz Profanisaurus. I want to be an optimist, but people seem determined to make me pessimistic. The idiots. Have you ever met the general public? Christ they are scum. From the woman screaming at her 6 year old in the street to "Get out of the fucking way, Brandine" to the person who rang me at work to drunkenly burp in my ear then hang up at 9.15am, they are tossbags who test me every single day.

But I should try to rise above this knee-jerk reaction, I should try to be the better man. I mean, how much worse will society get if we lose sight of our good manners. Those of us that have been brought up to say Please, Thank You, You're Welcome, and so on, have a duty to the wider society.We should lead by example, use good manners whenever we can Was it not the German playwright, poet and novelist Goethe that said “A man's manners are a mirror in which he shows his portrait.”?
Was that Goethe?
Yes it was.
I just Googled it, and that's what it said he 'd said.

So with this in mind I decided to show stronger moral fibre, limit my profanity, watch my rising temper and avoid situations where I may be tempted to vent my spleen. It was all going so well, I was listening to the audio book of David Niven's autobiography 'The Moon's A Balloon', texting my beautiful tiny girlfriend, and then.....

"Yo! Hi! Hi! Hey, have you got a second for animal abuse..?"
Yo? Fucking 'Yo!'?? What? WHAT?? I'm listening to something. Something elegant. SomeONE elegant. Who doesn't say fucking 'Yo!'. Also, I have headphones in. That means I do not want to hear anything outside of my control. I'm texting as well. Get the fucking hint. This had better be good, you ignorant git.
Have I got a second for animal abuse? Are you recruiting? Do you want me to dead-leg a kitten or give a hamster a Chinese Burn?
Who are you?
WHAT do you.. oh.
Charity Muggers.

A whole pratoon of arm-waving, attention-seeking drama-school twats, utilising their street-theatre 'skills', charmless bonhomie and fake-concern over whichever inter-changeable charity's t-shirt they are wearing that day, trying to wrangle bank details from the gullible yet genuinely compassionate.

I genuinely hate these people. The guilt-tripping, the over-earnest delivery, the head-nodding-in-agreement, while all the while these grasping bastards try to get you to sign up to a direct debit.

It's not that I dislike charity. I have had a direct debit to one for 10 years, I've visited their shops for over 30 years, I've chucked change in boxes and buckets, I've sponsored parachute jumps and abseiling attempts, I've done fun-runs and other silly things to raise money - but I will NEVER give to Chuggers.

If there is one thing that is guaranteed to make me avoid giving my money to the NSPCC/RSPCA/Shelter/Amnesty International/Scope/Cancer Research/Oxfam/British Heart Foundation, etc., it's being approached by one of these home-made-beanie-and-fingerless-glove-wearing twunts wearing their logo.

So, like any rational human being placed in this dilemma, I told him to fuck off and watched as his unblinking, smiley, bearded face wandered over to a hen-party without a second thought.

As a general rule of life I think it's safe not to pay ANY attention to people who shout at you in the street - with the exception of Big Issue sellers - they are usually con men or mentalists. Take the religious converts that scream to you about love and forgiveness - until you walk past them and then it's all 'repent' and 'burn in hell'. Do they honestly think that anyone has heard them braying on about Jesus and done a double-take. "What? Who? Tell me more about this Jesus-chap..."
"Hmm, Well, I used to hate the Nativity and Easter assemblies at school but now you've bellowed his message of love and respect to me through a phlegm-specked megaphone maybe it's time to rethink my spiritual standpoint.."

There's also the free sheet idiots. I was looking at my old, neglected MySpace page today and found this bit that I wrote in February 2007 - and it is still relevant:

Walking through a very rainy Leeds city centre today I've been approached by about 4 or 5 people trying to pass on a free publication called "Jobs & Careers Weekly".

Might I suggest to the vendors that they READ the fucking thing.

And if they HAVE read it, and the best job they can get is handing out "Jobs & Careers Weekly" in the rain, then quite frankly I don't want a copy...

That was nearly FOUR YEARS AGO - and they are still doing it...!!Idiots.

But mostly, I find that the people who shout at you in the streets are drunk and mental. My favourite was the old Irish fella who was sat around a corner from me and as I passed that corner, having not seen him AT ALL, he shouted "Hey!"
I turned a full 180 degrees around to get this logic-busting insult "What are you looking at, you egg-faced cunt?"

So, in summary:
Be nice to people. Be kind to people. Give your time. Help others less fortunate. Display good manners. Don't talk to anyone in the street who shouts at you - unless they are selling the Big Issue.

And if you do get approached by a Chugger - ignore everything I just said about patience, manners and tolerance and kick them in the crotch of their rainbow-coloured hemp-pants.

Is it any wonder I find it hard to be a good person?
As the poet, philosopher and tap-dancer Fred Astaire once said -
The hardest job kids face today is learning good manners without seeing any.

The future is doomed.
And I'm not helping.



Today I saw possibly the most pointless advertisement ever.
A competition to find the next 'Superstar' bus employee.
Yes. You read that correctly.
Superstar. Bus. Employee.

The thing is, this advertisement was actually on a bus.
If it had been in a cab or on a commuter train then it may have seemed worthwhile texting, because by comparison to a racist, borderline mental-case cabbie or a ticket-punching, rule-spouting, regulation-fetishist railworker, a bus driver has all the wit, charm and sophistication of a chirpy David Niven.

But the futility of asking bus customers to nominate "exceptional" bus drivers, while those very bus customers have only just had to come face to face with a less-than-exceptional bus employee and are also now taking in the full bus passenger experience (sitting in someone else's chewing gum, facing obscene graffiti with last night's fast-food wrappers fluttering around their ankles, near to a heavy-lidded teenager sucking his lip while kicking the seats and listening to a loud, tinny, ringtone of a whining, fey, Jamaican robot bogling on about a "boodifull gull") is a more futile course of action than trying to convince the Captain of the Titanic to put on a rice-paper lifebelt.

A superstar bus employee?
Have you ever even met a competent one?
A personable one?
A polite one?
That would be a better use of posters and online forms.

Superstar Bus Employee... For fuck's sake!
It's got to be the least-visited website since Amish Facebook.

And what do you WIN for nominating that 'person that goes the extra mile'? FREE BUS TRAVEL. So you'll spend even more time on a stinking, overcrowded, hostile, travelling bar-fight, captained by an anti-social patchily-shaved baboon with personal grooming issues, unless you are lucky enough to forever be chauffeured around by the very same celebrity bus driver that you nominated in the first place. Which is unlikely as he won't be able to get into the cab because of his ermine gown...

And by the way, who the hell wants a bus driver to go the extra mile??
I want them to go to their designated destination. I want them to take me where I've paid to go to.
I don't want to go an extra mile out of my way.
These bus companies haven't thought this through.

But this got me thinking about the nature of superstar, celebrity and so on. My girlfriend gets Heat magazine and I've slowly become quite addicted to it. For me it's an entertaining and guilty pleasure, a nice distraction from my busy and stressful life. Rather like reading the horoscope, having a sit-down-lady-wee, laughing at an upturned police car or skinning the homeless. And thinking about it, like those other things that make me smile, it's something I should probably try and do a bit less regular.
Perhaps just once-a-fortnight.

Anyhoy, it's ridiculous how much time I spend reading Heat magazine, how much time I spend reading about people I have absolutely no interest in, doing things I couldn't give two shits about. In fact, most of these people I have never even heard of before. People from TV shows I've not heard of either. Shows such as Gossip Girl, Kate Plus 8, Destination Golden-Penis, Living With The Kardassians, Terry's Magic Trousers, The Hills, Robo-Bastard, Pineapple Dance Studios, and so on.

Who are these fucking people?? Where do they come from? And why are there so many of them?
Then I look at the channels these people appear on, Bravo, Living, FX, Fiver, ITV4, Blighty, More Four, E4, E!... Some of these channels have less of an audience than the average supermarket CCTV camera.

It reminded me of channel hopping the daytime TV in Spain this summer. These strange, alien programmes were apparently hosted by very famous Spanish presenters, with very famous Spanish guests, all household names and all loved, applauded, whooped and appreciated by the audience... A Spanish audience.
They meant fuck all to me.

I wouldn't know Spain's Dappy or Ant n Dec or Katie Price or Bruce Forsythe if I walked by them en la calle. Which would suggest that the Spanish wouldn't know our Dappy or Ant n Dec or Katie Price or Bruce Forsythe either - the lucky bastards. Nor the German, French, Italian, Portuguese, Norwegian... in fact, there's a whole planet of utterly redundant celebrity out there, untapped celebrity that we simply cannot be arsed to engage with, and often for the sole reason that they talk funny.
Or funnier.
Nonetheless, the WHOLE concept of celebrity is completeley and utterly redundant.

Being a celebrity is like being the speccy, nasal, anorak-wearing, trainspotting Chairman of The Neighbourhood Watch. You might think you're important but everyone else thinks you're an annoying prick. And no-one knows who you are beyond your own street.

That's when it hit me. Of course you can be a celebrity bus driver. You can be a celebrity ANYTHING! It really doesn't matter, so long as you speak the English language - or, in the case of Dappy or Ant n Dec or Katie Price or Bruce Forsythe, an approximation of the English language.

I have, in the past, booked guests for radio and TV programmes who have been celebrity driving instructors, celebrity poker players, celebrity florists, celebrity vets... all completley pointless people, adding nothing to the sum of human knowledge, so it's only a matter of time before I will have to book a celebrity bus driver, the star of Leeds Bus Station TV's "Have You Got The Right Change?"

And it won't stop there. No way, Pedro. Soon everyone will be the star of their own show, we will all, as the poet and philosopher Moby once said, be made of Stars. And as everyone will soon become as famous as one another, the very nature of fame and celebrity will be obsolete. Blogs and facebook will become redundant and soon people will go back to their previous vocations rather than desperately clammering to be in the spotlight. Driving instructors will go back to being driving instructors, florists will become florists, vets will go back to being vets.

And who knows, EVENTUALLY we might get even decent bus drivers out of this?
Perhaps that was the idea behind those seemingly futile posters, after all?

NB: a quick glance at the website tells me there have been no nominations for Superstar Bus Employees since May 2009.
Fame is so fickle.