‘Family, In Italics’

Once again, the family – notice italics, obviously courtesy of mafia movies and for the gratuitous nod to Dan Harmon’s Community -, seems to be fractal. By family, I’m referring to my old group of friends from back home and being the natural alarmist that I am, the slightest shift in status quo has sent me into a bit of an unwarranted panic. It’s not like they haven’t or we haven’t argued or fought in the past but now, as we all drift into our own lives, I worry that perhaps that each fight is the last. Growing up in an Italian family (definitely not a family), where grudges are held onto for dear life like footholds in free-climbing, it seems to be my curse to notice the changing winds. In all fairness, it’s probable my recent avoidance of their birthdays isn’t helping.

It was always going to be a natural part of life to lose touch with friends from school and sixth form and happens all the time. Just today I was talking to someone who is only in contact with one person who went to their college back home which is something that seems somewhat alien to me. Obviously, there were people I didn’t like and haven’t bothered speaking to since leaving home and there are people I’m still unsure about nine years on within the family. We all bonded over things like Community – which by the way, is a comedy institution –  but the cracks in the foundations could and can never be fixed up. Yet, even though these people sometimes infuriate and irritate me, the troubled waters make me very fucking uneasy indeed.

Maybe it’s time I realise the unfortunate fact of life that so many have come to understand that most friends don’t stay friends forever. Hell, even Justice League Unlimited was cancelled which I’m still bitter about some eleven years on. While that insert may seem random, the point is that example, like the eventual death of what I have come to know as, The Group, is totally out of my control and will finally kill my childhood; much like Warner Bros. Animation did all those years ago. Yet, we’ve all got to grow up at some point, I get that, and I’ll just have to be happy with Ben Affleck rather than Kevin Conroy as Batman.

The fact of the matter is, all it will take is a rough night out to kick start an avalanche. We’ve already had three or so this year out of the five times we’ve all got together and to quote Ensign Kim of Star Trek: Voyager: ‘hull integrity is failing!’. This problem is definitely universal and a quite the gut punch. The nests we once knew are suddenly becoming too small for our lives and our dreams which is a reality no one takes into account until our bundle of twigs is an empty husk. Is it futile to try to keep everyone together, or is it just cruel to clip our wings for the sake of ourselves?

No matter what happens, based on all the slices of pizza I bought the family at break-times over the years, I better at least get an invite to a wedding or two. I sincerely believe that the world would be crushed under the sheer weight of all the passive aggression if not.

‘Family, In Italics’

A Vengeful Jack Russell

When stuck with a problem in our surroundings there have and always will be three options. They are: defiance, ignorance or apathy and finally, find pastures new. Unfortunately, all require some level of effort; even being ambivalent to it all since the problem will stick around like herpes and it’ll still kill the mood  – again, like herpes. I’m facing a problem right now and my fair adopted city of York seems like cross between a fish bowl and a prison cell. The company I used to keep has definitely come back to bite me in the arse like a vengeful Jack Russell.

The feeling of being totally trapped and spooked by shadows is something that’s universal through history and the uncomfortable air of it all marks the difference between existing and being allowed to live. That’s what it comes down to for me and perhaps others considering the unnecessary crushing cruelty of reality that seems to shit on you at every turn. It’s like reading an expensive academic textbook that has no good information in it, but you have to read it to make the most of your investment. Thinking about it, that analogy is a bit wishy-washy but the point stands. To make matters worse, in some cases, people who find themselves at the shit end of the stick will inadvertently create more problems for themselves trying to find that cure for their particular herpes, accidentally spreading it like peanut-butter in the shit sandwich of life.

A prime example of this is perhaps my own fuck up. In an attempt to ignore and be apathetic towards my situation, I’m realising that I have inadvertently alienated a good portion of the support network that I had which could have had helped me out of this grave that I’ve seemed to dug for myself. It’s probably too late to do anything about it and I’m going to have to take responsibility for that level of destruction. I can even trace back this whole situation to a poor decision back in October when I got myself into a relationship more toxic than the atmosphere on Venus. Self-realisation and responsibility for that is, in my opinion, a good first step and maybe that’s something for everyone to take away. Looking back and retracing your steps to the root of whatever problem is perhaps, the only true meaningful way of moving forward.

Admittedly, moving forward is always going to be an uphill battle where you’ll have shit raining from the heavens upon you but at least the first effort would have been made. Finding the motivation for the climb up the hill, or out of the grave, or whatever analogy you like is unfortunately, perhaps, the hardest part. Being miserable becomes habit and almost ritual, which is something you don’t learn about in those PSHE lessons in school. Thinking about it, maybe they did teach us but I couldn’t tell you the name of a single person who paid attention.

A Vengeful Jack Russell


Isn’t it just abysmal to be normal? On my first day of secondary school I remember my mother telling me just to fit in and it’ll be fine. It was totally opposite to what I should have heard or perhaps want to now being the advice that Hank Moody gave to his daughter in Californication, as the eponymous song lyric goes, ‘don’t be another brick in the wall’. I can gladly say, I’ve never been that with or without someone telling me so. Conforming down to its most fundamental of wearing a uniform at school made me want to hang myself with the damn thing.

Maybe that’s why I like many people find themselves bored more often than not with the state of everything because it’s so damn samey and cliché like a Britain’s Got Talent tear-jerking back story. It’s unfortunate too that those who actively try to stand out blend in the same like the emo and punk sub-cultures. I find myself becoming another angsty turd at times which indicts an incredible amount of self-loathing that perhaps affects nearly everyone who holds a little bit of contempt for the hordes of high street zombies you see.

The constant infinite cycle of monotony makes me want to tear my eyes out but on occasion I find people who share my view. Unfortunately, nine-out-of-ten of these people are just the worst people imaginable or batshit crazy or both. Yet in those strange and rarer moments, that one is the one worth hanging around on this tiny rock of ours.

That’s an unusually hopeful statement but there you go. It’s like being a prospector in the gold rush, just sifting through the dregs in the river.  Many do give up and assign themselves to live a lie under the banner of whatever or whoever makes us compromise the least. I wish I could do that but a reason for a falling number of friends is because I’ve always struggled to compromise on anything at all. Call it a blend of Napoleon-syndrome and being an only child filled with individualism going through a school system that endorses bipartisanship and anti-libertarianism at every turn. Maybe I am alone in that and I’m just another special snowflake. Yet isn’t that the point of being individualistic?

It’s another mental minefield that I find myself in because simply the nature of asking the question makes me hate myself for having to. When someone says snowflake in reference to a person, I imagine – perhaps like many others – the androgynous vegan, chain smoker who enjoys Jake Bugg’s music and anything with quinoa. It’s not quite what I see in a mirror, primarily because I don’t have the funds for those Lucky Strikes and being a vegan seems almost as bad as having to live with one in university halls.