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

Home

I’ve returned to York which, while something not wholly interesting, is a personal standout for me considering the strange conclusion that I’ve come to revolving around one word: home. I was walking just last night through the mish-mash of medieval architecture, and overtly pretentious restaurants and realised that it’s for me. Despite the fucking hipsters and old people fighting for dominance on the high street, I’ve come to see it as my patch. It’s also a self-declaration that that last thing I want to do, is go back to my old world that Nigel Farage lovingly donned a slum. He was making a comment in particular about the EU migrant influx but if you ignore that context and look at the large city and the entirety of its population, he’s not far off right.

On the down side, my new housemates just accosted me in the living room, demanding I pay money towards a sound bar that I didn’t want or need. The bastards woke me up this morning as they played ‘Misty Mountains’ from The Hobbit on full blast. While I may be living with a bunch of fucking nerds making me continue to consider my connection to reality as whole, the realisation of stability is weirdly comforting.

Recently, I’ve been writing less considering I tend to only write when something has really irritated me or somewhat given me pause to think about how while things are good, something is irritating me. Maybe they’ll come a time where my passion for ranting and aversion to healthy clinical therapy will fade away like tacky shot transition in the Star Wars prequels.

And just like that, the dream is shattered.

There’s an abundance of noise from downstairs. My housemate is doing impressions with a bike helmet. I miss the days of loneliness when no one was here for six weeks and the house was silent and I wasn’t bitched at about paying a tenner for an unwanted sound bar. While it may have been a fucking deal down from two-hundred pounds to sixty, Irritating Flatmate No. 4, it was still sixty fucking pounds! When we all signed the contract, it was decided the house would function on consensus and now I feel more left out than a quadriplegic at Go Ape.

I, like many, am hopeful that things won’t get any worse yet remain realistic about lack of improvement. The dream of a tranquil home is shattered and as I type someone I banging on my door and shouting: ‘you’re quiet, are you dead?’. Fuck me.

Home

Taxi

For the past few days I’ve been entertaining family who stayed here in York. Out of that time, the stand out moment was when a taxi driver expressed his dismay at another driver not moving when the traffic light turned green. His words were ‘you couldn’t make it up’, ‘you couldn’t write this’, ‘this is something absolutely unbelievable’ and my personal favourite, ‘from being a taxi driver for twenty years, I’m still stunned at how incredible drivers can be’. My take-away from his apparent level of shock was: Christ, you must have a really boring fucking life.

It was depressing it really was and that became so ‘incredible’ that I forgot about the initial annoyance I felt from having to wait for the driver in front to move. Moments like that remind me of why I came to university in the first place. It wasn’t to get a meaningful degree or to make some kind of impassioned difference in the world, it was to make sure that I had somewhere to go that wasn’t working a similar nine-to-five where some prick driver becomes something ‘you couldn’t write’. I’m up to my neck in debt and I think it’s a fair trade off because otherwise I’d be stuck in a dead-end town that Nigel Farage called a slum, working with my mother and step-father in a regional based vending machine company – quite possibly coming home every day complaining about how much of a bitch Carol is like they have for fifteen years.

I haven’t been writing as much as I would have liked recently perhaps waiting for some sort of inspiration without realising that I always have something to write about. That being every time I walk down the street, sit down in lecture, hell, buy an overpriced hot chocolate from Costa, I’m reminded that I’m not back home. It’s not being stuck in a purgatory made normality. Understandably, it makes me sound like a prick with a superiority complex the size of the US national deficit, but is that not the whole point of ambition whether it be to win The Apprentice or just to be able to live a life of one’s own choosing?

My mother keeps telling me to remember where I come from like every other clichéd escapist story who has left home to find pastures new. Yet I like every other cliché will be eating my words the day the debt accumulated by that ambition will land me in a nine-to-five. To be fair, from what I hear, Carol is a massive pain in the arse.

Taxi

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

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