Saturday, May 31, 2014

Look No Further

This afternoon, I attended a wonderful fund-raiser for a friend who is in politics. It was a nice crowd because there were no right-wing nut-jobs there. As I pointed out to my friend/local state candidate, Labor may disappoint at times but at least they make a bloody try to do good.

Admittedly, a few of my more snobby gags went awry (I love the public transport system in Melbourne, I just don't like the public who use it!) but on the whole, I think they liked me.

I always get terribly anxious prior to social gatherings - especially when I only know a handful of people attending. I don't just get nervous and a bit "diarrhoea-y" but I also become a bit grumpy because I just know I'm going to make a complete arse of myself.

I dressed up as nice as I could (just pleased I could fit into an old suit - a week of conference food and about eight gallons of Sauvignon Blanc has not been kind to my figure!) and I ventured out to the inner suburbs with a heavy heart and a jaunty step. The latter mainly because my two-tone shoes are a tad too tight.

I was the first to arrive (as ever) and I chit-chatted awkwardly with the host whom I had never met before. Eventually others drifted in and I have to say it must be a record that it took me at least 20 minutes before I uttered the "c" word. In fairness, I was quoting a New Zealand couple I used to babysit for, so I think I got away with it.

As ever the soiree was peppered with couples. Gay men, lesbians, straights... couples, couples, couples... so any chance of picking up was sorely scuppered. Admittedly, a political fund-raiser is not the sort of place to pick up, but I am getting desperate. I'll be loitering around skips in car parks with my underpants on my head soon, in an attempt to lure potential mates. It's becoming quite lonely in my apartment these days.

Anyway, I was more or less on my best behaviour and I spent a lovely few hours chatting to a couple of nurses about Victoria Wood.

On the way home, after a few drinks, I fell into that emotional trap in which I start berating myself, my heart, and my brain. I began wallowing in self-pity, hating those who constantly post pictures of themselves and their loved ones having "hilarious times" in Majorca or enjoying their joyous days with their family/offspring/hired beautician.

I think to myself "Why can't I have that?" and begin getting all bitter and weepy. I think of all those happy gay couples who have strong, beautiful relationships with TWO INCOMES and great holidays every year. I get jealous of the straight couples with babies who are applauded the first time they do a shit the same colour as the nursery wallpaper. I wail in deep regret that I fucked up at school (I honestly blame the whole gay thing wrecking my hormones and my ability to think straight - ho ho ho) and will never be able to forge a proper career for myself. I rant to the skies that my brother inherited all the talent from my parents and I only got the neuroses!

Then I stop.

I remember the things I do have.

I have a roof over my head.

I am in reasonable health (for a fatty-boom-bah)

I have a job (not a great one, but it pays the bills... just!)

I have a beautiful cat who adores me (at tea time and breakfast)

I have an abundance of friends, old and new, who don't judge me for my flaws.

I have a loving family.

I have a nice penis.

You see... things are relative. I have my crashing downers and sometimes things seem so dark. But I force myself to remember that for every shit thing, there's a variety of superb things which some people in this world DO NOT HAVE AT ALL!!

So, that's my post. Yes, I suffer from depression, but tonight I am grateful. For all the things I mentioned above... Sometimes I should look no further than the glorious things around me.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

In Those Days

Whilst having a bit of a clean up around my apartment, I came across my old report cards from school. I thought I'd share!

These are from the summer of 1987, the end of my first year at Highfields School. I was in form 1EJ. Slytherin Riber House

I was basically an enthusiastic child who was keen to get on despite my horrendous handwriting. Some subjects I seemed to have a certain aptitude for, but, sadly, things would go awry a few years down the track.

Subject: English Exam: 72% Coursework Grade: B 1

Ben undoubtedly has a flair for creative work and his ideas and perceptions are highly imaginative and original. But he must realise taht this in itself is not enough. Presentation is equally important. More time and care spent on this aspect of his work would, I am sure, help him to improve his marks. Oral mark for the year 33/40

Subject: Maths Exam: 81% Coursework Grade: B 1

Ben has performed splendidly throughout the year. His enthusiasm and cheerfulness are to be admired.

Subject: Science Exam: 55% Coursework Grade: C 1

Ben works hard but lacks confidence in his own ability. he contributes well to class discussion. More care needs to be taken with his presentation of his work.

Subject: French Exam: 79% Coursework Grade: A 1

A very hardworking and conscientious pupil. Well done.

Subject: R.E. Exam: 58% Coursework Grade: B 2

Ben has made pleasing progress through the year. He is a lively and constructive member of the group. Well done!

Subject: Geography Exam: 69% Coursework Grade: C 2

Generally a satisfactory year's work in all aspects of the subject. Ben is building up his knowledge of geographical skills and will, I am sure, do well in the future.

Subject: History Exam: 80% Coursework Grade: C 2

Ben does not always find it easy to express himself on paper but is obviously not without ability. he must persevere if he is to make the progress he is capable of.

Subject: Design Exam: N/A Coursework Grade: B 2

Ben is making good progress and he is capable of some good work.

Subject: Home Economics Exam: N/A Coursework Grade: C 2

A competent worker. Ben has shown interest in his work.

Subject: Music Exam: 73% Coursework Grade: B 1

This is a pleasing examination result. Now Ben is living in Matlock, I shall look forward to him being a member of the Boys' Choir.

Subject: Art Exam: 85% Coursework Grade: B 1

Ben has a good background knowledge and wide interest. He contributes well in class showing interest and working in a most responsible way. He handles drawing and painting very competently and has produced a good year's work. Ben has a pleasant manner in class.

Subject: Textiles Exam: N/A Coursework Grade: B 2

A steady and reliable worker. Ben has made progress this year.

Subject: P.E. & Games Exam: N/A Coursework Grade: B 2

Quite good. generally keen. Satisfactory progress made.

Form Tutor's Report

I am very pleased with Ben. he gives freely of his time and is a most responsible and enthusiastic member of the form. he is always cheerful and has been a much valued Form Representative. the form have responded well to Ben and I feel he has settled in and become well-liked. He is a keen worker and has put much effort into his studies. he should feel proud of his reports. Well done.

Senior Tutor's Report

Ben has made a splendid impression in his first year. He is courteous and reliable in all he does. Ben has gained 44 credits for the house, and does a splendid job as Form Rep.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Everything But the Blues

Just a boring blog post about my weekend. The sort of thing that interests no one but myself. Here goes:

On Friday night, I journeyed out to Essendon to catch up with my friend Tim (the hugely talented artist - check out his website!). We get together on a regular basis and watch old movies together. On the way over, I was once again appalled by human behaviour when waiting at Southern Cross Station, the train arrived and, instead of letting people out of the carriage, the moronic plebs on the platform forced their way on first. Why are people so incredibly rude? Maybe I summed it up with "moronic plebs" before. I know I said something vicious under my breath, but as I was listening to some Mark Snow composition on my iPod, I imagine it may have come out louder than I intended. I don’t care. They need to know how rude they are.

Anyway… I arrived at Tim’s safely and we had fish and chips (hooray!) The film we watched this time was teh Bob Hope vehicle Caught in the Draft, a very entertaining film with lots of class act comedy moments. He really was a genius. I have also introduced Tim to the marvels of Murder Most Horrid which he has fallen in love with (obviously) so we watched a few episodes of that. We are trying to get through it all before he moves away (insert sad face). After a very busy day and an early start, by evening I was incredibly exhausted and upon returning home crashed out on my bed and fell asleep.

The Saturday was a quiet one. I had to go to the local supermarket (far more accessible than the one in Bulawayo) and came home despondent at the exorbitant prices of groceries these days. As I have stated before, I am struggling to pay off debts at the moment and these ridiculous price-hikes are beyond the pale.

I spent the rest of the day reading and doing laundry. N.B. use white vinegar instead of fabric softener. Vastly cheaper and SO much better at getting rid of stains.

I finished a book called Demons which annoyed the hell out of me due to lack of proper punctuation and speech marks, and then I began reading The Fault in Our Stars (finally) and I am pleased to say that the book lives up to the hype (which is rare in this day and age where hype rarely relates to talent). I actually finished the book during my lunch-break today at work. Great stuff. I will be seeing the film on Wednesday!

In the evening, I had some leftovers of the beef chilli I made earlier in the week and I would learn from that mistake 24 hours later! I also watched X-Men Origins: Wolverine for the first time, having borrowed it from my friends Louise and Adam. It was much more enjoyable than I expected it to be; mainly because Hugh Jackman is just such an entertaining actor to watch.

(And he's ridiculously attractive!)

I had a reasonably early night and felt to sleep quickly.

Sunday morning, I was awake around 4:30 (again). I just have trouble sleeping in, I don’t know why. It may be because my brain is just so over-active. Deeply annoying. Anyway, I read for a bit and then did some blogging. Around ten o’clock, I ventured out to meet my friends Sarah and Dan. We headed out to Reservoir and then walked for about 45 minutes to Heidelberg to attend the Austrian Club Melbourne. The atmosphere was lovely and the food delicious. I had a stuffed chicken breast wrapped in bacon and cheese alongside spƤtzle and some cauliflower cheese (an old favourite of mine).

We followed our mains with apple strudel. Dan and Sarah paid for my lunch because they know how much I am struggling with cash at the moment. I have very good friends!

(I might add that my friend Dan is also a very talented chap. Check out his Funeral Stories and just some of his art here.)

The walk back to the train station at Reservoir was a little longer because we were all stuffed with yummy food, but it was a pleasant afternoon (a little overcast, but I like it that way) and with fantastic company. I did ponder if my dress-sense looked a little ostentatious out in the suburbs. I often think people might see my get-up and think "Ooh, Doctor Who's coat, John Steed's umbrella, Roseanne Barr's thighs!" but they probably don't.

I didn’t head straight home as I had another appointment with another friend. Chris is a work colleague who is also a major talent. He used to work at Warner Brothers and he is also a superb artist (he showed me some of his work). I was then deeply impressed by his culinary skills. He cooked salmon steaks with roast vegetables and a maple syrup sauce. It was magnificent. We watched some Suits (which I had never seen before, but enjoyed despite the plethora of implausibly beautiful people populating the cast) and we finished off the evening with Resident Evil starring the beautiful Milla Jovovich, the rugged James Purefoy and the pretty Eric Mabius, amongst others

However, remember the beef consumption earlier in the weekend? Well, it came back to haunt me and, just before the movie started, I had a bit of an episode in the toilet (you are so pleased that I have shared this, I am sure!) and I didn’t feel particularly grand for the rest of the night. Still, great company, food and entertainment to round off a pleasant weekend.

The only sad thing from the weekend is that more of my stuff has sold on eBay. I know this should be a good thing, but it’s hard letting my babies (DVDs) go… but… I have to eat!!

All in all, a good weekend. No major moments of depression (thankfully) and lots of fun with good friends. I had everything but the blues.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Everlasting Love

As it is Mothers' Day here in Australia (Note my positioning of the apostrophe - as it is a day for mothers!) I thought I'd pay tribute to mothers across the globe.

A boy's best friend is his mother.

A mother is often shocked by her kids, but she still loves them.

She will do anything to protect her offspring.


A mother can get angry...

... and may disprove of things you do...

...but she is also very supportive when things matter.

She may have very strong opinions...

...and may often embarrass you...

...but she loves you

So, love the matriarch...

...allow nap time...

...and she'll be with you forever.

(Even if she ends up forgetting you...)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

I Miss You

Many years ago, I used to suffer from a bizarre malady. I would get through each day reasonably well, but feeling slightly off-colour all the time. I once described it to a doctor as being in a dream and as if my soul was slightly displaced a few centimetres to the left of my body.
It kind of felt like I was on Valium, but with a touch of nausea and a troubled bowel. The headaches were not intense like my migraines (Vestibular or otherwise) can be, but more like the moment you first resurface after diving in a pool.
Through a number of tests, my doctor and I eventually came to the realisation that I had an odd allergy… to beef.

Yes. Beef.
So, for the past decade, I have avoided beef wherever I can. (It’s hard in Australia as they use beef instead of pork in their sausages, so sometimes I can’t avoid it!)
(Oh, delicious pork sausages! You are the finest of all foods!)
Last night, I had a friend over for dinner (not in the Hannibal Lecter sort of way) and I was planning on doing my old favourite, lamb chilli. However, the local supermarket had no lamb mince!!
So, I thought I’d be brave and have a crack at beef mince again. Well, it certainly tasted very nice.
Today? Hmmm. Well, I am feeling a tad spaced out and my daily trip to the room of requirement was a little more uncomfortable than usual. It’s not fun.
The worst thing is? I made shitloads of this chilli, and I have frozen it in batches to last a few meals.
*big sigh*
I miss you, beef...

This takes me onto another story.One which might disgust you (as it should!)
I used to work at a family-run steakhouse in Derbyshire. I was 19 years old and I did a damn good job as a waiter. The customers found me very entertaining and I was efficient and respected.
However, in my personal life, I was going through some rough stuff and I had "come out" of the legendary closet, but I kept this to my friends and family. However, after many months working bloody hard on those busy Friday and Saturday nights at, perhaps, one of the most popular family-run joints in the area, the bosses caught the breath of a rumour on the wind of gossip. Yes, someone let it slip that I was a DIRTY HOMOSEXUAL! (Despite the fact that I had actually not become a practising one at this point!)
Well, that evening, i turned up for work and one of the managers (a pretty female blonde young thing - perhaps a member of the Aryan Race) and she told me that the owners didn't want me to talk about my sexuality in front of anyone (I hadn't) and I wasn't to flaunt myself (never did) as, and I quote verbatim, "We don't want to attract that kind of clientele!"
Then, to "punish" me, they didn't allow me out on the restaurant floor that night, they made me clean out all the massive bins out the back. They were so big, I had to climb in them. I got filthy and smelly.
That was the last night I worked there. I didn't hand in my notice, I just never went back.
Which is a shame, as I really liked their steaks with peppered gravy.
People can really be vile, can't they?!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Is It Only Me?

This morning, I was perusing Facebook and I saw a comment on somebody else's post that made me shudder. The lack of punctuation, decent spelling or grasp of grammar just made me angry. I was mostly angry because he was sarcastically calling somebody else a "genius".

As it was early in the morning, my hackles rose quickly (so, that's what that is... oh... no. That's something else!) and I was stood in the shower getting all antsy and frustrated, and I began planning the blog you are about to read. Throughout the day I thought of additions to this post and I scribbled them down. However, now that I am home and the day has passed (and I am snacking on Red Rock Deli's 'Jalapeno and Mature Cheddar Corn Chips'), I have calmed down and realise that a rant is not going to solve anything and, truth be told, I will just come across a tad self-righteous and annoying (more so than usual!)

I am also cognizant of the nature of learning disabilities or dyslexia etc. I am not evil or stupid. My problem lies elsewhere.

Here is the post in all its angry glory, for what it's worth.

I hate the phrase Grammar Nazi. It implies that those of us who do not want the English language to be abused and eroded are simply fascists who despise the notion of change. I disagree wholeheartedly. I welcome change (I can hear some of you laughing with derision) but I think some things should be taught and expressed correctly. Seeing misplaced apostrophes or bad spelling is like someone writing 2 + 2 = 79. It's just WRONG!

People say "Oh, but at least you know what they mean..." but I say "NO!" - If I have to spend longer than necessary (even if it's a split-second longer) deciphering some text, then they are writing it incorrectly!
In texts and friendly emails I understand that there is a lackadaisical approach to sentence structure and spelling. The familiarity between the participants allows for a great deal of leeway. I have often sent off a quick email during work hours to a pal but failed to proof-read it but the recipient rarely admonishes me for it. (Admittedly, I do want to beat myself around the head with a stocking full of Lego bricks when I spot my error!)

My main concern is for those whose job it is to create official documents or permanent signage and they don’t even think to check the work before signing off on it.

I have regaled stories frequently about the Direct Factory Outlet with massive banners erected during their exterior refurbishments announcing ‘WERE STILL OPEN’ (so they aren't any more?) and the all-time classic signs in the old chip shop in Matlock Bath:

Nice! To see you again




One of the things that annoys me the most is misuse of apostrophes in plurals.

Some seem to think if a noun ends in a vowel, the plural must feature an apostrophe. I have no idea where this logic comes from.







They don't need bloody apostrophes!

It’s not always words that end in vowels. The music store JB Hi-Fi in Elizabeth Street, Melbourne had a very large sign out the front for many years advertising its vast collection of ‘Compact Disc’s’.
Yesterday, I received a letter that mentioned taking ‘Survey’s’. Part of me wants to dismiss the rest of the contents and throw it in the bin! (This would be, of course, a very silly thing to do.)

I'm not saying I'm perfect! Heaven knows I am deeply flawed and make all kinds of mistakes. I am not a genius, I am socially awkward, have a terrible sense of fashion, and sometimes lick my dinner plate when no one is looking. This is just an area I can "attempt" to excel in or at least improve my understanding of it all.

There are lots of lessons in grammar that I need to learn too! I am still a little bemused about a lot of it.
I am not asking people to learn to play the oboe with their toes or splice atoms with a pair of curling-tongs; it's just really not that difficult!

One of the mistakes I used to make is in regards to the words Stationery and Stationary.

I always remember this one by a little imagery. Picture the capital letters A and E. The A is stood firmly on the ground, feet apart, so obviously not going anywhere. The E looks like some shelves like the sort one might find in WHSmiths with assorted stationery awaiting their purchase or theft.

I won't go into the whole Your versus You're and all those similar errors, for we see plenty of rants about those on a regular basis (not that people seem to pay any attention!), but I will post this screencap from IMDb as it just makes me chuckle:

There is a cafe near to my place of work that (coincidentally) until today advertised "Egg's Benedict". OK, so maybe the head chef whose 'Benedict' is an outstanding culinary treat has been nicknamed 'Egg' because he bears a resemblance to a young Andrew Lincoln... but until I am given proof of this, I shall assume the person who wrote on the chalk board is a moron.

I trust that a number of my vastly more educated friends will be able to sweep through my posts and find numerous grammatical errors and I will actually enjoy learning where I have gone wrong and how not to make those sorts of mistakes again. Life is one long learning curve.

Oh, as an aside, any evangelical Christian who calls it ‘The Book of Revelations’ is obviously more ignorant than a lobotomised goldfish. If they loved the old book so much, they’d know it was ‘Revelation’.

As I wrote this post, I was extra cautious about avoiding errors. When it came to "bears a resemblance", I had to stop and check if it was 'bears' or 'bares'... But that’s the thing, you see... If I am unsure, I look it up!

So, that's my rant. I hope I didn't come across too aggressive. If so, I apologise. I just need to vent sometimes.