Catching Up/Shark Bait

The last few weeks have perhaps been the busiest in a long time. Which, to be honest, isn’t saying much considering that in the last month I’ve seemed to have lived more life than I have in a year. At long last, I got a job: bartending at a dive bar in York. While it is perhaps not the best place for someone with an already very limited faith in humanity and an addictive personality to boot, it’s been surprisingly one of the best things I’ve done. So far being the ‘Shark Bait’, I’ve been referenced to as the ‘otter’ and as of yet, I can’t seem to work out if it’s in reference to my love of smooth pebbles – if it is, I have no idea how my work mates would know about it – or, it’s just I’m too short and skinny to be a bear.

It’s going rather well, as a way to meet new people, learn how to make drinks and most importantly, get out of the fucking house. That last part is becoming a problem considering tonight and the last are the first two where I have been absent from the bar since I started working there, on or off shift. A part of me feels like it’s a rite of passage for everyone who works at a bar to become a little addicted to the atmosphere or at least any place where you enjoy working. As someone who has only ever been a prefect or a pot-washer for six weeks, its strangely refreshing, terrifying and brilliant. It seems that every shift is like a slide at a water park: lots of build up; an uneasy gut before the rush; bemused life guards who know what you’re in for and then, wham. A torrent of drunk customers needing ID checks, cocktails, jaeger-bombs and a quick exit to throw up.  One thing is for sure: there are a lot of absolute wanker customers.

I took a break from the action last week and took a day trip to Leeds which I was told was the heart of sophisticated Yorkshire and I know now, to never trust a single lying word that comes out of that person’s mouth again. Despite the grandeur of the metropolitan city; the bustle reinforced by the difficulty getting an Uber to the station; and the endless fucking Starbucks outlets, the Wagamamas there does a real shitty job of a teriyaki soba. I’ve spoken about greener grass before and how in fact there is no such thing as greener grass and it’s all a self-serving fallacy, something wholly reinforced by how disillusioned I was with the place. While my friends claim that ‘it’s the best for a night out’, I don’t think you can beat a familiar gin and tonic in the bar you work at with people you can actually talk to.

While I have been busy and am set to be busier with university work, I hope to get more involved in writing. Every day that has passed and I haven’t exposed my whiny bullshit to the world, I feel like a bad Catholic guiltily glancing at the confessional booth. Which ironically, as an agnostic in a spiritual if not Catholic family, hopping from one existential crisis to the next, is exactly me. On the positive, the time I no longer have is being filled by actual real life not just festering in my room getting angry at things I have no control over.  Still, I can’t pull a good pint to save my life – all froth no ale. Also, did I just coin a new idiom? I’ll be throwing that one about the bar that’s for sure.

‘Shark Bait’ for the win.

Catching Up/Shark Bait

Running

I missed a close friend’s birthday today. The excuse was being financially bankrupt yet perhaps the truth is that I’m more morally bankrupt as it wouldn’t have been a stretch to be there. It’s the second time in a month I’ve missed a birthday of a close friend for no reason at all other than perhaps selfishness or laziness or a fear of nostalgia. It’s also the second time the person has made efforts to make sure I was there. The party is ongoing right now and looking at Snapchat is like punching myself in a gut and I don’t know how I got here.

It makes me wonder do we lose touch with people by accident or accidentally on purpose? I mean I like these people and have a strange history with one of them but I find myself making less and less of an effort with them. It’s almost the same way people who promise to always remain friends after a relationship ends amicably (as rare or fictional as that may be) and they always drift apart despite good intentions. Still, I’m trying to work out how that applies to me considering it’s as almost as if I’m actively being apathetic. Which perhaps defeats the point of apathy entirely.

Perhaps I’m overthinking it and I’m just another cliché being protectionist and cagey with all that feelings bullshit and I’m too scared to look back. To look back and to go to these gatherings and make an effort would be to be confronted by the fact that I need these people as over the eight years I’ve known them they’ve become more family than friends. Obviously, it’s a dysfunctional and somewhat incestuous family like the cast of The Brady Bunch but family none the less. As I type these words I feel a reeling sense of nausea at this uncharacteristic exposé yet maybe my own very raw nerve is just damn typical.

Running from things that didn’t happen or did happen is incredibly tiring and I’m low on the number of excuses to throw around, maybe we all are. Yet for the first time in my life and perhaps, this is the same for everyone else, to stop is more difficult than keep moving. Hell, I moved one-hundred miles north to a place where I don’t know anyone just to prove a point to myself that I could. Now, I’m sat here alone in a shell of a house rather than actually enjoying myself with people I care about because I’m far too chicken shit to confront those goddamn roads not taken or those I did. Or perhaps it’s more than that and it’s a level of unwanted exposure being around people who know what I’m going to say before I say it.

Our entire society is driven towards moving on whether it be from a relationship or being turned down by an employer. It’s all about looking forward rather than back because constant self-analyses and mental exploration of what-ifs would drive anyone insane. I’m being driven insane right now and every time I sit down and think about the good old days that I failed to recognise and appreciate at the time. Yet maybe I and every other person with this uncomfortable feeling should grow some fucking balls and get that train to the birthday party.

Running

New House

I’ve never come to appreciate the library as much as I do now. Over the past few days of having no hot water or internet, I have come here to peruse Facebook, go to the toilet without worrying that something is going to break around me and most importantly, download pornography on my phone. Its dire straits, I tell you. Considering it’s a student house, I should be thankful that I’m not being violently fisted by my landlord but in another sense considering that the house is quite literally falling apart, I am. The wonderful thing about York is that all the houses are so old but unfortunately the horrible thing about York is that everything is fucking old.

I’m the only one to move in as of yet so obviously I’m the one fighting the teething problems and have spent my days getting out of there as much as possible in an attempt to find something meaningful with my time, other than binge watch The Office DVD box-set. In the three days I have utilized the free McDonald’s student burger deal more than perhaps anyone has in their lifetimes and walked quite literally four laps around the city centre. I tell myself those treks are to burn away the calories of the burgers only to pretend it’s not because I’m so dangerously bored. To make matters worse is that currently the washing machine is out of order in the house and I’m wearing my jumpers in this muggy twenty-degree Celsius heat.

What happened some two-hundred years ago when we were bored? It seems clear that’s the era my house was built for so it does beg the question. Naturally the walk around town would be shorter and there would be more shit on my shoes. Were we as human beings less demanding for entertainment in those times? Or have the old GCSE history books omitted all the bits about opium bars and mega-brothels that would make George R.R. Martin blush? It goes without saying that at my ripe old age of nineteen, I would be dead by now of either some disease or the Crimean War. My maths is probably a bit out with the dates of the Crimean War but my point still stands.

I had planned to read this week and enrich my mind with Orwell but modern technology struck back when I discovered that I could play Stellaris and Civilisation VI without having to connect to the internet. I could be playing those games right now in the comfort of my uncomfortable home but perhaps it was my grandmother’s voice telling me to ‘get some fresh air’ – words I hated as a kid, watching Cartoon Network until it started to hurt – that motivated me. That’s the line I’m going with, the reason behind my constant trips to the library and into York city centre; definitely not for the internet connection to download pornography on my phone.

New House

Eating Alone

I was sat alone in a restaurant the other day which is something I’ve never done before. I’ve been known for excessive take-away food through the modern marvel that is Deliveroo but to go in and sit there on my lonesome is something new. On the positive, the humble Carluccio’s was very good and the staff were extremely attentive – probably because I was the only one there at midday on a Wednesday. On the negative, it reminded me of my second biggest regret in life being that I never took the trip to mainland Europe before I went to university that my dad gave me money for. Instead, the five-hundred-pounds went towards a very busy fresher’s week where strangely I proved popular with the opposite sex – which soon stopped when the realisation was made that I’m more Michael Cera than John Hamm.

Weirdly, the taboo of sitting in a restaurant alone was a good experience. Naturally I had to do the obligatory fucking Snapchat update since it’s 2017 and I hate myself. On the larger though, it really made me wonder why people don’t do things on their own more often. At least in the circles I move in, it’s relatively unheard of to be solitary. My grandmother goes on holiday by herself all the time and every time, my mother frowns just a little bit. Yet isn’t there a level of safety in doing things with other people?

There’s a safety in not having to carry everything yourself or say if you forget the room key, it’s okay because someone else has it. Even on fundamental level you have that someone to talk to at the table when you’re chowing down on the continental breakfast instead of making sad, awkward eye contact with the guy refilling the orange juice. On the flip side of that argument, is there such a thing as being too safe? Like bathing in anti-bacterial hand wash.

You never hear about the great adventure that you go on when you’re on an all-inclusive holiday with the family. It normally extends to someone taking the sun lounger before you manage to get all the things from the room and a passive aggressive fight ensues. Where’s the oddly tranquil moments in a Parisian coffee shop overlooking the Seine? Maybe not exactly exciting but there’s a nugget in there like a beginning of a classy thriller with Pierce Brosnan.

Totally fucking pretentious to a point of insanity but who wouldn’t want that? The last family holiday I went on there was a piss-on-floor incident and an incredible amount of angst over the children’s entertainment. None of that would come from an espresso and perhaps a croissant on a terrace or even a MDMA fuelled spontaneous trip to Dublin, I don’t know. You don’t need the safety of a herd when you have the best wing-man that you can have. The voice in your head that says ‘yeah, fuck it, allons-y’ like slightly tipsy David Tennant’s Doctor.

Eating Alone

Patriotic Accents

The other day I was compared to the character J.P from the series Fresh Meat. The character is the upper-class arsehole in the misfit student gang and played by comedian Jack Whitehall. This comparison, coming from someone I consider my closest friend, landed a little bit below the belt. It’s ironic even considering that I grew up in a working-class neighbourhood made up of council flats, and people who used to sell pirate copy DVDs at the pub, before Kodi came along and put them all out of business.

Thinking about it, my southern accent became more pronounced when I moved to the north made even more obvious by when people first met me in Fresher’s Week, I was asked to simply speak. To my surprise my drunk flatmates around the table would shout: ‘Oh my God, it’s like Harry Potter!’. The novelty wore off quickly like anything like that when I couldn’t return to my normal ways of dropping T’s and G’s on the ends of my words. Just listening to my northern friend when she came to visit my house in the south was amusing as she became very northern – Coronation Street northern.

It begs the question on whether actors over-do the British accent in the US. Perhaps people like James Corden, who perhaps would never had drunk a cup of tea before became an ‘avid’ tea drinker as soon as he got his own state-side chat sow. I’m not sure how he could have in all honesty – even if it does defeat my point -, I was only in New York for four days and ‘path’ became ‘side-walk’ for much longer than I care to admit.

While microscopic in scale, perhaps it’s a simplistic view of inbred nationalistic zeal in all of us. That strange pride in our place of origin that we become far more self-aware of when we’re not there. Personally, I hate the city I grew up in but strangely, while I’m away from it, I’ve never spoken as highly about it. It’s when I think about this, I actually understand the mentality of the football hooligan who pisses up a wall in France in the name of England and St. George. I don’t condone it unfortunately; my fair city was full of people like that. Yet if I can feel some pride about a place I hate and weirdly personify that in my bloody accent, maybe in a larger sense patriotism and nationalism is a subconscious function. Obviously, this is based on no evidence at all other than my own accidental growing snobbery saying ‘b-ah-th’ instead of ‘b-a-th’.

Patriotic Accents

‘Fear Thy Neighbour’

I’m sat here watching Fear Thy Neighbour which is a stark contrast from the UK’s Neighbour from Hell, and it strikes me that every situation seemed to have been escalated by guns. Now I’m not damning anyone’s right to bear arms but I can’t imagine a scenario in Channel 5’s typical demonization of the working class show reel, that wouldn’t go completely tits up with a Glock.

Hell, in the US show, most of the contributors are taking part some ten years or so after the events with one at least dead or in prison. Dom Littlewood’s show often takes place not even a year later and while wholly less interesting, Mr and Mrs X are still alive and well, still disgruntled with Mr and Mrs Y across the street. It’s hard to comprehend the actual physical danger in these peoples’ lives compared to ‘you built your fence to close’.

I have no doubt there’s any less danger in the UK than the US which perhaps has as many unhinged strangers next door. Our problem in the neighbourhood where I lived in was the ‘hoody’ gang who had planted themselves in the playground just in front of the house which was regularly set on fire. As a kid, I was terrified but when I return to the family home now, I see the same gang and its new members: kids I used to yell at as a prefect, and now they look as scary as horror movie’s bonus features disk. Would that scenario be different if those little fuckers where packing more than socks down the front of their tracksuit bottoms?

On the flip side of the argument if we all had those guns there’d be less of a threat. It’s almost as if for everyone, our homes are our own nation with foreign policies and different cultures even. Down to whether or not we choose to eat meat or even smoke in the garden rather than the house. This is where I understand the Second Amendment because the phrase that our homes are our castles is totally an understatement because they are at the most primal level, our nests where we choose to keep our families, our legacies, and precious belongings. If we had guns in the UK that arsehole kid outside probably wouldn’t have thrown crap at the windows and perhaps my parents wouldn’t have banged on their door. Say what you will for the second amendment, if it does anything, it sure does promote some level of politeness.

‘Fear Thy Neighbour’

Two Pints of Guinness

I’m fascinated with time and space and the endlessness of both.  It surprises me that more people aren’t or aren’t constantly aware that no matter how human history may fluctuate, Jupiter won’t pause on its constant journey around the sun. I’m trying to uncover in my own head whether or not this fascination with the expanse is scientific or nihilistic. Is the nihilism just an extension of materialism, being an absence of spiritualism, or is it just the logical extension of logical existentialism? If that makes any sense at all.

Full disclosure, I’m on the crest of tipsy and these thoughts only seem to come to me after that second pint of Guinness. It’s a shame I don’t think about these things at any other time other than under these particular circumstances, similarly with the rest of the human population. The good thoughts, the thoughts that truly matter, only seem to come to us when we are elevated from our usual closed off selves. The classic British stiff upper lip doesn’t help with that but it makes any form of cerebral separation that more  sensual. Which in turn, makes our ability to talk out of our arses all that easier.

Say for example, the Cuban Missile Crisis went in another direction where the boats kept on moving and the hands of the Doomsday Clock kept on turning. Would the universe stop to weep? The answer is no it wouldn’t; not even our own Sagittarius A, at the centre of the Milky Way, would stop eating like black holes do, for even a moment to mourn our little species.

I remember the first time I thought about things like this, I was fifteen which perhaps is when most people look to those twinkling things in the night sky and think only one thing: ‘Holy fucking shit.’ I felt like perhaps I was alone in how I responded being trying to connect those dots in the sky with the texts to hand being that good old King James Bible. Much to the dismay of my partner in science class, which was when I thought would be a good time to explore these ideas, I came to strange conclusion. The name Israel, as random as it seems, is not a name at all but a question through time in plain English. The only time I remember it is of course, after these delightful pints of bitter.

Is Ra, El?

Two Pints of Guinness