Just My Inbetweeners

I’m done with books that are just OK, now that my longed-for novel has arrived

A book with flowers

I’M STOKED this morning – just because I’m getting a new book.

I’m having to ram my arse down deep into my seat to make myself work, instead of doing what I desperately want to do: leap on my bike and point the wheels towards Waterstones, so I can finally pick up my longed-for new reading matter. 

I’ve been stalking this particular historical detective story– Execution, by SJ Parris – for almost a year now. As its publication date shifted, agonisingly, from early spring to mid-summer, I tracked it like Shere Khan followed Mowgli through the tall grass.

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I’m Pretty Fucking Far From OK

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week, so I’ll be honest: I’ve had it up to here with this m************ lockdown

Ving Rhames and Bruce Willis in a scene from Pulp Fiction

“ARE YOU OK? Are you all well?”

Have you noticed that, since the start of lockdown, people are asking questions like that and sounding as if they actually mean them, for once?

It’s one of the nicer aspects of being in the middle of a global pandemic – a sense that the person asking actually cares how you are, and isn’t just doing it out of politeness.

I reckon this comes from a tacit acceptance that we’re all vulnerable at the moment – so it’s all right to admit to a certain weakness.

Which is not the worst way to be in Mental Health Awareness Week.

But even now, when someone asks if I’m OK, I’m not laying my entire soul on the line.

I might say something guardedly revealing of certain susceptibilities – and then slap back on the stiff upper lip and add: “Of course we’re coping better than expected.”

So it’s not exactly full disclosure – but this is: today I feel pretty fucking far from OK.

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Lockdown = Getting Weird Shit Done

Coronavirus is making us strangely productive – the allotment has never looked so good, we’re righting decades-old wrongs and… bleaching carrier bags

“Someone’s got too much time on their hands” Image: mrshit50s

Conventional wisdom says that it’s The Devil who makes work for idle hands to do.

But, if our family is anything to go by, the lockdown has actually unleashed the work ethic and creative juices that lurk – if you look hard enough – in the breast of every right-thinking Brit.

We’re still working from home but – as we don’t have to spend time on commuting, make-up or dressing properly – we have become wildly productive in some unexpected areas.

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How I Gave My Kids The Beer-o-Virus

It isn’t just Covid-19 that’s catching in lockdown London

Original Images: Vektor Kunst and Clker Free Images/Pixabay

BACK WHEN the Coronavirus was just getting warmed up, I woke for a few days in a row with some worrying symptoms.

My throat was tender, my body was hot and sore, and I had a blinding headache.

I started to tell my wife, already imagining being isolated in the top room.

I pictured myself sweating and moaning on the lumpy sofa bed, constant bloody Netflix, meals left outside on trays…

Which was when I remembered the five beers I’d had the night before and realised that I didn’t have Coronavirus: it was just a hangover.

“You’ve got the Beer-o-Virus,” my Better Half declared.

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It’s Oh So Quiet (But The Last Trump Is Coming)

I dare you to try and steal my asparagus when the End Times come

Bjork sings "It's All So Quiet" while Coranaviruses and bags of poo fly around her
Original Covid-19 image: Vektor Kunst/Pixabay (and with apologies to the wonderful Bjork)

WE’RE ALL STUCK at home because of the Coronavirus, even though none of us is remotely ill.

My son’s school closed due to – Covid-19 related – staff shortages yesterday, while my wife’s firm has told all non-essential staff to work from home.

My daughter’s lecturers – who’ve just come off a three-week strike anyway – are teaching online and me….well, I’m always here.

So far, being in semi-lockdown has been lovely, particularly because none of us has to get up early any more.

I’m normally roused at six by the wife’s alarm and then stagger up to make cups of tea, feed cats, clear up last night’s mess and make Ready Brek by 7.15.

But today, since Her Indoors didn’t have to spend 90 minutes commuting in – and because The Lad could get his own breakfast – we slept soundly until 7.30.

And my first thought was: It’s all so quiet.

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Why I’m The Only One, Running In The Snow

I hate always having to run, but it’s the only thing that turns my mood round

snowflakes swirling around an eye

AS YOU MAY have gathered by now, I love running. But, sometimes, I hate having to do it quite as much as I do.

I’d like to be Less Is More and only run when conditions are truly agreeable. I’m thinking: azure skies, green fields, little pink candyfloss clouds and white bunny wabbits cheering as, serenely, I float past.

But lemons, lemonade: some days you have to settle for running through grey South London in the snow…

I really didn’t want to go out yesterday morning. It was just a notch or two above zero, with the winds whipping big wet snowflakes down at a rakish angle and pregnant puddles everywhere I might want to plant a foot.

I had an upset stomach, limbs still stiff from 13 miles at the weekend, and I’d necked an inevitable beer or three the night before – all of which made me feel far from the acme of mature athleticism I like to pretend I am.

I knew it would be unpleasant, going out, but I needed to change the old brain chemistry after a setback in my job search. I kept telling myself it was only a small setback, but they tend to look much bigger when you’re 50-something and haven’t worked for year.

So off I went…

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A Life More Ordinary

Why did it take me until I’m 50-something to admit I’m nothing special?

Original images: Pexels/Pixabay and Mabel Amber/Pixabay

I HAD A very dull – and slightly unpleasant – epiphany on the road to Lidl yesterday.

I finally conceded that I was just an ordinary guy. A nobody, in fact.

I’d just bought stuff to top up the Ocado delivery – sausages, detergent wipes, a small pack of rocket.

I self-check-out-ed and walked home the way I always walk: past the library, up the slope and the alley behind the secondary school.

There was a lake-like puddle near the end of our road and I scurried past, so as not to get marinated by the passing cars.

And thought: “I’m so ordinary.”

I wonder: has this flash of insight ever happened to you (assuming you, too, are ordinary), or did you always know?

Please tell me that it’s not just me that’s been walking around for 50-something years, doing painfully ordinary things – but still believing, deep down, that they were somehow special? 

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I’m Trying To Keep Making Healthy Choices… But One Of My Balls Has To Drop Soon

These days, you have to be a bit of a freak to be healthy all the time

A cavewoman dreams of snacking
Original image: sgrunden/Pixabay

I’M A BAD person.

I’ve just gone and made myself a morning coffee, with caffeine in it. Plus three sugars, and some Cadbury’s drinking chocolate on the top so it mimicked a café cappuccino.

I even got out my sad little electric whisk and frothed up the milk. What a loser!

I’m disappointed with myself, you see, because I’m not supposed to be drinking caffeine. The doctor told me.

And, until this morning I’d largely given up coffee, and excised Diet Cokes ruthlessly from my life.

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Brexit – Fucking With Your Five A Day

The EU may take our booze and our veg – but they’ll never take our freedom! 

A plate of fresh vegetables

THE MISSUS texted me today:

Darling, can u pick up wine tonight?
12 cases shd do it.
I will get same so Brexit doesn’t b***er up Xmas xxx


Keeping a cool head in a crisis is often all about remembering what’s truly important.

So, with this country’s biggest cataclysm since Dunkirk gathering, Her Outdoors has moved decisively to ensure that we can still get properly pissed – no matter what happens on October 31.

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Afternoons And Coffee Spoons – They’re Here Already!

A mix-up with my medicines has convinced me I’m in imminent danger of carking it….  

Pouring a spoonful of medicine
Image: Steffen Frank/pixabay

I WENT TO the Doctor recently because I’d been having tummy trouble.
 
At first, she thought it was down to my boozing and gave me the old 50 Ways To Lose Your Liver chat.
 
From now on, she said, I had to drink in line with the Recommended Government Guidelines. Just six scoops a week instead of my current 376,000,000,000,000,000…
 
But then a blood test came back saying that the doughty organ was in decent shape, despite everything, and that the problem was bacterial. She put me on three different sorts of antibiotic for a week.
 
Sorted. Except for a vague feeling of unease as I rocked up at the pharmacy. 

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