Friday, 31 December 2010

New Year isn't it.

Hello darling. You may or may not be aware that this evening is New Year's Eve. Until the last couple of years I've not really been a fan of New Year's. Here's my issue(s) with it;

It's the sort of night in which people who don't normally 'go out' do so. They are well within their rights to 'go out' and 'have a laugh' but being out of practice as they are, I find that they tend to act like pricks. Cramming a year's jollity into an evening they feel they have to wear stupid hats, sing Grease medleys and cackle at passing traffic. I suspect that most of them are nice folk but unaccustomed to heavy public drinking as they are they become irritants.

These buffoons make traveling anywhere on New Year's a fucking nightmare. One New Year I was on a bus. Someone asked a couple of teenage lads where they were headed and they replied 'Anywhere where there's pussy, man!'. Nice. It transpired that they were going to Trafalgar Square. I'm sure they would find possessors of female genitalia in Trafalgar Square but there is no telling as to the quality or availability of said 'pussy'. Also, what with it being cold at that time of night in winter I'd imagine there's likely to be quite a few layers between those gentlemen and the 'pussy'. I reckon they ended up wishing they'd stayed at home and watched Babestation.

Now there's a question - what happens at midnight on New Year's Eve on Babestation? That is surely a seriously depressing moment for both the viewers and the 'performers'. Not only are they the type of person who is on/watching Babestation but they are also the type of person who is on/watching Babestation as the rest of the country celebrates the arrival of a New Year. To be fair at least the performer is getting paid - double time I imagine. The viewer however is so lonely and horny that they can think of no better way to spend Hogmanay than with their penis in hand watching a glistening Nuts reject do a poor imitation of sexiness.

Does Babestation even acknowledge that it's New Year's? Surely at 11.57pm they should say 'Listen. It's nearly midnight. Turn to Jools Holland on BBC2 for 5 minutes and pretend you're a normal person. Then come back to us and we'll get back to the misery disguised as erotica'. I'm so curious as to what happens at midnight on Babestation that I have set my Sky+ to record it tonight. I'm genuinely excited to see what happens. It is however important that I delete it before my girlfriend gets back from Florida. She would no doubt suspect that whilst she was gone, not only had I spent my evenings watching Babestation - I had also recorded it so that I could re-enjoy it during the day. By the way, I do realise that by going on such a long rant about Babestation I am admitting that I have watched it. Be honest, be you man or woman - so have you. Maybe not. Shit.

The last couple of New Year's have been fun because I've spent the night at a lovely pub a short walk from my house. This has kept 'dickhead encountering' down to a minimum and eradicated the obligatory 2 hour taxi wait. Tonight however due to the movements of 'friends' I am going to a house party in another neighbourhood. I look forward to people stealing MY BEERS from the fridge and talking to crying women on the stairs as I wait for a taxi that was supposed to be there an hour and a half previous. Happy New Year bellends!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Why I Will Never Appear On Question Time

I would like to make a pledge right now to never appear on Question Time. Although I take a 'keen interest in current affairs' (that line is straight from an old CV) and undoubtedly have the gift of the motherfucking gab I am absolutely certain that I would make a tit of myself. I am the prime example of someone who passionately regurgitates things I've read about politics seconds after I've read them. Then when someone challenges me on my shiny new opinions I scrabble around for my book mumbling 'I'm sure they addressed that point... they must have done!'.

I realise it is unlikely that I will ever be asked on Question Time unless there is a sudden demand for perpetually peripheral cast members in 'under the radar' TV shows to talk about EU fishing quotas etc. They did, however once invite Carol Vorderman on and it is a Vorderman like performance I live in fear of giving. Much in the same way that she spewed The Daily Mail letters page I worry that I would do the same with The Guardian. In all seriousness I reckon that would be just as bad. Well, maybe not but... you know.

Similarly Nick Clegg made a pledge a while ago that he never thought he'd never have to worry about breaking. What irritates me about his tuition fee reversal is not the reversal itself but his defense. He says that they didn't win the election, they came third, and therefore they can't do whatever they want. But their pledge was to 'vote against any rise in tuition fees'. The Lib Dems knew that they wouldn't win the election. They also knew that there was a possibility that they could be involved in a coalition in the event of a hung parliament. Now Cleggo says that they have to compromise within that coalition. He's right, they do. I fully understand that they can't implement all (hardly any) of their policies. With their share of the vote that wouldn't be right. But they pledged to 'vote AGAINST any rise in tuition fees'. People voted for the Lib Dems knowing they might be in a coalition and expected them to stick to that pledge. It's pretty simple really although the length of this paragraph suggests that I have failed to make it so.

And that ladies and gentlemen is why I will never appear on Question Time. My belly rumbles with opinion, I overestimate my IQ and I waffle. For the record, I concocted that opinion without the aid of reading materials. In addition I'd like to let it be known that I'm not sure what the right thing to do about tuition fees is. I've genuinely heard some bloody good arguments on both sides. Why can't we all just... you know... get along?

Here's a short list of books that have caused me to annoy people with my new found opinions. For what it's worth, I recommend them all very highly;

Nick Cohen - What's Left?: How Liberals Lost Their Way
This book, I think, is amazing. It convinced me for a while that the Iraq War was the right thing to do (back to being anti now but with less vigour) and that Chomsky (a previous hero) was a cunt. For 6 months I tried to steer every conversation towards this book.

Al Franken - Lies And The Lying Liars Who Tell Them
This taught me to hate and laugh at Fox News before I had seen it. It's kind of meaningless political point-scoring but it's fun nonetheless. I read it in two days. It's that kind of book.

David Aaronovitch - Voodoo Histories
This reaffirmed a still held opinion that pretty much all conspiracy theories are bullshit.

Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski - Why England Lose: And Other Curious Football Phenomena Explained
Get's a little boring towards the end and has a shit title but is otherwise brilliant. Smashes lots of perceived football wisdom - eg. foreigners are bad for English footballers and managers make much difference.

Michael Lewis - The Big Short: Inside The Doomsday Machine
This man is my new favourite writer. He explains one side of the financial crisis through the eyes of some people who saw it coming. Very exciting, funny and makes you feel smart reading it. I would try and steer all conversations towards this but I seriously struggle to remember the detail. Still, I can't recommend it enough.

And that concludes today's lesson. If I have bothered you with 'read opinions' in the past I apologise. I look back on the three month period, after reading the God Delusion, in which I, like every other twat who read it became aggressively (almost evangelically) atheist with embarrassment. It was fun though.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Aerosmith, Bryan Adams, Wills and Kate.

This week I went to Seville (it's in Spain - numb nuts!) which was alright. I went on my own. I imagined myself strolling the streets, soaking up the Iberian breeze (is that a thing?) and looking cool as I read in cafes. I kind of did all those things but, of course, in actuality it's not all that romantic. At one stage I went into Seville Cathedral. That's the sort of thing your supposed to do isn't it? Walk around a cathedral. At one stage I sat down on what I believe is known as a pew. Not sure though - I'm not religious. As I tried to find meaning in the relative silence someone started to whistle... quite loudly. Instead of pondering the audacity and genius of the people who built what is the world's largest cathedral I found myself desperately, luckily internally, shouting 'what the fuck is that song?'. Thankfully the whistler, presumably another visitor, kept going for a full ten minutes. Perhaps this is a traditional Sevillian game. Or maybe the man was employed to entertain tourists. No matter how great a cathedral, let's face it, they can be a little dull. For me, the introduction of 'name that tune' added to my enjoyment.

Eventually I got it. The man was whistling 'Don't Want To Miss A Thing' by Aerosmith. I fucking hate that song. It reminds me of when I worked in the Co-Op in Essex and was literally forced to listen to Essex FM all day. What amazed me was the complete unawareness of the whistler. What made him think that it was appropriate to whistle that song at full volume in a place where everything suggested that it would be anything but? What put that song in his head? Maybe he, like me, was on a short trip and having looked at the plethora of things to do in his guide thought to himself 'I don't want to miss a thing'. I'm glad he did whistle it because I found it hilarious. It was genuinely one of the highlights of my trip. Similarly when a couple of years ago I spent less than 24 hours in the beautiful country of Jordan I heard the song 'Please Forgive Me' by Bryan Adams no less than FOUR TIMES. That became a hoot. It felt like every time we walked into a room or a taxi the locals said 'Quick! The westerners are coming! Put Bryan Adams on!!'.

So I was in Seville when I heard the GLORIOUS news that Wills and Kate are to be married. My heart was all a flutter and I took out my the Union Jack I always keep in my luggage wherever I go and waved it vigorously for a good two hours. I am, of course, being sarcastic. I watched the coverage for a full 90 minutes on Sky News and it depressed me to the core. I hate being told how happy the whole country is about it. It's like every now and again we Brits have to be reminded to be remedial, subservient, singing dickheads.

Just for clarity I have nothing against the royals as individuals. And for even further clarity I think that Kate Middleton is a boner-fied hottie. It's just that I despise the idea that we're supposed to be so joyous about the marriage of two undeservedly rich people that we don't even know. But Fergus, they're so NICE. Nice isn't good enough. As far as I can tell, Jamie Cullum is nice but that won't make me buy his music.

Right. I hate the institution of monarchy. I really do, but I worry I'm not going to do my hatred justice right now as my girlfriend is shouting at me to go and fetch us a take away Nando's. That's right, guys - we live next door to a Nando's. For nearly two years we boycotted it because our liberal middle class street opposed it's opening. Now, it turns out we'd be quite happy to be surrounded by Nando's. May I suggest that the whole nation pulls together behind the glory of Nando's rather than the marriage of two people it's quite possible you would have hated if they went to your university?

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Things to do before I die.

1. Find out what a horse is.
2. Tell Margaret I love her.
3. Read an old poem, 'get it' and decide that it's shit.
4. Make a number 22 record - 21 or 23 is not good enough.
5. See the world (a globe/map would do).
6. Tell Ruth I love her.
7. Perform bypass surgery on myself and those closest to me.
8. Meet one of the Blairs' kids.
9. Shoot a wasp.
10. Piss off a butcher.
11. Tell Gabrielle I love her.
12. Pronounce a word wrong.
13. Capitalise on a tragic event in order to gain extraordinary wealth.
14. Outlive my kids.
15. Prove/disprove the existence of Gary Mabbutt.
16. Successfully translate Don Quixote into English (assuming this hasn't been done already).
17. Put my willy in between my legs so that it looks like I'm a lady - sustain this for a year.
18. Patch things up with Wesley Snipes.
19. Teach a crab to walk forwards.
20. Go on a stake out/stag night.
21. Push the limits of what it is possible for a man to do within the confines of a granary bap.
22. Square up to a Samoan.
23. Divorce a Nolan sister.
24. Convert a simpleton from a poor country to Christianity and then tell him it's all bollocks shouting - "Gutted! In your face loser!"
25. See a film.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Bus Drivers

I must start with an apology. It’s been an awful long time since I’ve written a blog and that is for two reasons. One – I don’t have internet at home at the frigging moment. Two – I’m incredibly busy. I mean, gosh… my diary! Guys, I don’t think you appreciate just how busy I am. Think about you at your busiest then multiply that by ten… you’re not even close. I am SICK AND TIRED of people hiring me to STAR in their TELEVISION SHOWS!

I’d like to title the second half of that paragraph ‘faux arrogance’ in the hope that you ‘get it’. Tone can be very difficult to get across in print which is why a writer with my skill level and bravery should not have a blog. Sooner or later this blog is going to cause someone’s death and I will hold you, the readers – the people who supported this madness – responsible. It’s only a matter of time.

The subject that has dragged me to write this bitch is bus drivers. I worry for them. I think it is fair to say that they are the most miserable group of people I’ve come ever across.  The question is – do miserable people become bus drivers or does the profession itself make them miserable?

Yesterday morning I ran for a bus. With any luck this rare show of physical effort bought me enough calories to have at least 2 guilt free Pringles. As I was only 10 feet away when the bus was about the pull away, the driver was kind enough to leave his doors open and wait for me. It wasn’t an exceptional deed but it was the decent thing to do and I salute him for it. Having watched in agony and wrath as many bus drivers simply drove off in identical circumstances I decided to thank the driver for his humanity with the following statement;

“Thanks very much. Cheers for that.”

Not bad for 8 in the morning, I think. Direct. Polite. Appreciative. Mainstream.

The driver wasn’t so sure. For some reason, my attempt at a ‘thank you’ produced nothing but disgust in him. His face suggested that a little bit of vomit might have come up. He scowled, rolled his eyes and then turned away from the prick who dared to speak to him. I laughed out loud. You may know it as an ‘lol’.

What was it that I had done so wrong? It’s not like the bus was supposed to arrive at a certain time and I had dared to be late for it. I had simply ran for a bus and then thanked a driver for waiting three seconds for me. This is my theory;

Oyster cards and the like (in London at least) have made it completely unnecessary for bus drivers to have any contact with the hundreds of people they drive around each day. This lack of human contact has led them to resent us. Locked in cages, dealing with shitty traffic and cumbersome vehicles for hours, they have turned into (with the greatest respect) abused animals. So when one of us offers out the hand of friendship they are angry, suspicious and afraid – and they bark. Heaven forbid one of them bites.

As a solution may I suggest the following? Look upon all bus drivers as a (again, with the greatest respect) dog you have just adopted from Battersea Dogs Home. No matter what they do to you, show them nothing but love. ALWAYS thank them when getting onto and off a bus and try to offer them as many smiles as possible. Gradually they will realise that we are nothing to fear.


Wednesday, 29 September 2010

What I have learnt in India...

Here are the things I have learnt whilst in India...

1. On Indian billboards, all products are advertised by a chubby middle aged man with a moustache who gestures favourably at pictures of the product. It is tempting to think that it is the same man but I don't think it is.
2. Eating curry at least twice a day is actually better for my bowels than than my current diet in England.
3. When people ask me where I'm from I say 'London' rather than England or Britain. Deal with it.
4. When talking to 'locals', no matter how hard I try, I'm pretty sure I come across as a dick.
5. Compared to residents of other poor countries I've been to, Indians seem less keen to scam you out of money. Egypt was the worst for that. I remember a shopkeeper, as a passed his gaff, literally saying the sentence - 'How can I take your money?'.
6. Indians love football just as much as cricket. Unlike cricket though, they are shit at it.
7. The young man on the reception desk at my last hotel was gay but I don't think he knew it yet. He is genuinely about to study in San Francisco though. I believe he will 'find himself'.
8. When overtaking (or indeed, doing anything) in a car, an Indian will ALWAYS sound his horn.

I hope I learnt more than that. Probably not. Tomorrow I have to return a week early because I got some (bloody) work. A man has not been so in demand since Sean Maguire left Eastenders. This means I've left my girlfriend to fend for herself in Kerela and am spending the night in a business hotel in Mumbai. I am now going to sit at the bar like a businessman and wait for prostitutes to propasition me. Good bye!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Holidays and Gazza

Tomorrow I go to India on a two week holiday which means my blogs are inevitably going to get really wanky. Here is an example of the sort of tosh you are likely to read over the coming fortnight;

"I'm writing this from an internet cafe in the middle of paradise. The people here are so friendly. I feel that unburdened by the pressures of money they are able to truly become human. A moment ago I looked into a little Indian boy's eyes and saw a message of hope that could warm anyone's heart. When I get back I think I'm going to really re-evaluate my life. Stand up is futile. I'm going to work with disadvantaged children."

It could be said that what I just wrote confirms me as the ultimate cynic. I am already mocking my future self for taking anything other than a sun tan from my holiday. Truth be told I am looking forward to this trip rather a lot. Weirdly, I always really look forward to the flight. Flights are an opportunity to sit down and watch telly for a long time without feeling guilty. What?! You mean these movies are FREE?!! On planes I get so excited about watching movies I would never otherwise watch that I never ever sleep. "I could get a couple of hours kip before we land OR I could watch 'Music and Lyrics'".

The reality is that often, no matter how incredible the actual destination I spend much of my holidays kind of wishing I was somewhere else. This is the problem with old Fergapop. Not very good at enjoying the moment.

What I am enjoying (LINK!) is Gazza's autobiography. You should know that I just read a ridiculously intellectual and difficult to read book about finance* so I felt I had carte blanche to read whatever I liked this time. It won't surprise you to know that Paul Gascoigne is properly mental and, it seems, very dangerous to be around. Just imagine spending an extended period of time with the man in the picture. Gazza could possibly be the worst person to ever go on holiday with (LINK!). Here are some choice passages. These are all, honestly, straight from the book...

"Gary Linekar and his wife, Michelle, were there. She was standing sipping her champagne when I decided to leap on her as a friendly gesture. I landed on her back and we both went overboard."

"He'd left his motor home in the car park, and someone had put one of those traffic comes** we use in training on the roof. I asked my friend if he'd climb up on the roof and get it down. As soon as he was up there, I got in the motor home and started driving it down the A1, going faster and faster. He was screaming and shouting, 'Please, please, Gazza, stop! I'm a married man, I've got a family! You're going to kill me!' He was clearly terrified, so I stopped. I was only having a laugh."

"Another time I drove my car at Jimmy, going about 30 miles an hour, just to scare him. Which it did, especially when I hit him. I thought I'd killed him, but he recovered. Yeah, it was a bad thing to do, but I was bored. That was the reason."

And this is what happened after England went out of Euro '96 to Germany on penalties...

"Back at the hotel at Burnham Beeches, I drank down my sorrows, along with Robbie Fowler. We started squirting tomato ketchup at each other. We'd found a couple of tubes on a table and soon finished them off. I went into the kitchens and found a monster carton of ketchup, which I emptied all over Robbie. Then I ran to my room and had a good cry."

I hope you enjoyed that low brow entertainment while was able to give it to you. I appreciate that the bulk of this blog is me essentially me stealing stories from someone else's autobiography. Soon, after a few days in India, I will be an altogether more enlightened man. Thanks you and good byes.

* It's called 'The Big Short' and it's by Michael Lewis. If you have any interest in the insanity that brought about the recession that I recommend you read it. It is also very entertaining. I promise.

** It genuinely says 'comes' instead of 'cones'. Perhaps they allowed him to write the odd paragraph himself.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Mr. T hates trees!

I made the mistake of giving my girlfriend control of the television remote for a brief period on Sunday. Within seconds it was on the 'Painting and Drying Channel' which is clearly beyond parody. Then we were watching an infomercial on a channel somewhere in the late 600s. They were advertising some kind of see-through oven and had hired the services of Mr.T to help explain it to us. Mr.T is on about 20% of adverts at the moment. He is either a fan of a great number of different products or simply happy to whore himself to the hundreds of advertising execs who earn their money by saying -

"Guys, guys, what if...? Now bare with me on this... what if...? Jesus, I'm good... What if... we got Mr. T to advertise it?"

"Woah, woah, woah! Mr. T from the A Team?"

"Yeah. We could, like, get him to say, like, 'You'd be a FOOL not to buy Gaviscon!"

"Danny, you're amaaaazing! Consider your salary justified!"

It is important that I let you know, as I have proven on a handful of occasions, I am perfectly willing to 'whore' myself in adverts. The fact is that adverts pay big chunks of money for very little work and therefore only a dickhead (or someone with integrity) would turn them down.

This blog was going to be about the fact that Mr. T is still known as Mr. T although that was just the name of a character he played in a TV show 25 years ago. I was going to make jokes around the premise that Ian McShane still called himself Lovejoy. Then I did some research and discovered/remembered that Mr. T is in fact the name of the actor and the character was called B.A Baracus. Now I am lumbered with a blog with no discernible direction. The parallels with my career are striking.

Someone told me on Sunday night that Mr. T owned a huge estate outside of Chicago with hundreds of oak trees on it's grounds. He then decided that he hated trees and got rid of them all, upsetting the local residents. I have since googled this and the story can safely be upgraded from pub anecdotal evidence to 'true' - he did do it. I now have an image of Mr. T roaming the grounds of his property ripping trees from the ground with his bare hands and shouting 'Mr. T hates trees!'. He would only stop from time to time to yell advertising slogans at passing camera crews.

One point worth making (is it?) is that I don't think I've seen Mr. T do anything but advertise things for over 20 years. That means that there is a whole generation that only know him as the 'black guy on telly who shouts about Snickers/World of Warcraft/that oven thingy'. To them he is just an American Barry Scott. To his credit, what Mr. T has done is created an instantly recognisable image. I will be working on my own over the coming months. How about policeman's hat, wet suit, Dr Martins?

The smarter amongst you will have noticed, to prove what a sick world this is, I have included an image of Nancy Reagan sat on Mr. T's lap. As I understand it, she sat on his lap to distract him from the tree behind him. Any sexual activities that may or may not have happened after this photo was taken are between them. And as for the video below - she's right, he could have used the door knob...

Friday, 10 September 2010

My time in the RSC.

My friend, Alex has asked me to write about my time in the RSC and as it seems I now take requests like a wedding DJ that is what I'm going to do. Yes, that's right! For seven months of my life in 2002 I was in the Royal Shakespeare Company. When my mother told my Grandma that I had got a job with the RSC she thought I was now working for the RAC and, bless her orthopedic socks, was very impressed.

I played a fairy in Midsummer Night's Dream (because I'm cool) and also had the role of Philostrate who gives a supposedly funny speech near the end. Every night I stood on stage in a ridiculously unflattering toga bashing out that unfunny speech and every night the audience laughed knowing full well that it wasn't funny but wanting to look smart. At first I took the job quite seriously. I was 21, fresh out of drama school and keen to impress. Then I fell into the clutches of the eldest member of the cast.

He was a Northern chap in his 50s who'd been consistently employed in the theatre for 25 years. Let's call him Barry. The problem was that Barry absolutely hated fucking acting. Truly hated it. He was properly hilarious but, weirdly, hated it when the audience laughed. Whenever it was time for him to go to the stage his shoulders would slump and he would mope towards the wings (theatrical term) in agony. Barry's way of countering this detestation was to piss about. Because I am what's known in the business as 'game for a laugh' he focused a lot of his attentions on me.

One night I was stood at the back of the stage in my stupid toga concentrating on the scene in front of me. Being the fresh faced wannabe that I was I reacted to the action with what's known in the trade as 'facial expressions'. This was despite the fact that none of the 1000 people in the audience would have been looking at me. Barry, the theatrical veteran, who was stood close by in an equally stupid toga, leaned over and said, under his breath... "Stop acting, you cunt.". The man was a hoot. Another night, in the same scene, he whispered (but not especially quietly)... "We're doing the wrong play! We're supposed to be doing "Importance of Being Earnest!".

Gradually, this tomfoolery spread to the younger cast members. 100 performances in and things just got silly. One night I was stood close to a stage exit waiting to give my tedious speech. Another actor, let's call him Jerry (why not?), was stood just offstage by the same exit armed with a dictaphone. Over the course of a minute he played the same fart noise into my ear 40 times. Farts are always amusing but in this instance it brought about uncontrollable laughter on my part. This wasn't stifled laughter that only eagle eyed viewers might spot. This was proper mouth wide open, tears rolling down face, laughter. Unable to concentrate on the action on stage I began to panic. Terrified of missing my cue, I started my dialogue, interrupting another actor's speech. In the pompous theatre world that is a crime tantamount to baby buggery. The serious actor whom I'd interrupted was livid and as soon as the show was over let me know about it. In retrospect he was right to do so. I probably made him feel quite vulnerable and ruined his evening. In my defence his speech was so ball achingly dull I don't think that anyone noticed.

I like a lot of Shakespeare and love theatre (OMG! I just LOVE it!) but when you don't have a particularly interesting part, doing the same play 130 something times is BORING. A fault of mine is that I'm not all that good at hiding boredom and it was most likely spotted by the decision makers in the R to the S to the C. That may be why they never asked me back and I spent 2 and a half years working in a call centre.

In my last blog I touched on the bellends who go to trendy bars in East London. This video says everything I tried to but is far funnier. I should mention that I posted this on twitter and failed to credit my friend and zeitgeist beacon Imran Ahmed for sending it to me. Twitter etiquette is a minefield.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010


My favourite pub is conveniently and dangerously close to my flat. It's an Irish boozer (I never use that word) called The Auld Shillelagh and can be found on Stoke Newington Church Street. My drink of choice is Guinness and as such I haven't had a normal shit since Kula Shaker last released a successful album. The Auld Shillelagh (pronounced 'old shill-lay-lee') serves superb Guinness and that initially was my primary reason for frequenting it. Now I go for the aura of the place.

Right. I'm going to have to stop for a moment. I just used the word 'aura' when describing my favourite Irish 'boozer'. It is clear that a few years mixing with the North London liberal media elite has led me to disappear so far up my own wanky arsehole that I sound like an advertising 'creative'. Apologies. Please bear with me as I try to explain why I love this pub without sounding like a social tourist tit.

It's a long narrow pub and all the alcoholics sit at the bar by the entrance. This meant that for years I rarely went in. I didn't have the balls to get past the gauntlet of middle aged masculine misery. Then one night a friend and I dared each other to sit at the bar all night and try to fit in. Within an hour and a half all our preconceptions were well and truly battered. It turned out that two of the previously most frightening men were in a civil partnership together. Now, I'm not saying that gay men can't be frightening (Christopher Biggins?) but it definitely altered our perspective.

Now, I see The Auld Shillelagh as a rare example of what in my opinion a good pub should be. It's a place where all different types of people come together to get pissed and talk. 'Isn't that a description of any pub?' I hear you say. Yes... but... it's the AURA!

I'll tell you what kind of pub I hate. One where the music is so loud that you can't talk but is also a) too shit to dance to, or b) there's nowhere to dance. Does ANYONE like these pubs? I'm sure it's not my age that makes me hate them, I remember moaning about them when I was 17. Now either I was a really boring 17 year old (impossible, just impossible) or hundreds of pub landlords are making very bad business decisions. Thinking about it though, these pubs are always full. Who are these people who enjoy standing with expensive drinks as someone yells incomprehensible noises into their ear? Perhaps they're aimed at groups of workmates who hate each other. The pubs provide a cocoon of noise so that they can wind down after work but not actually listen to the inane bullshit of their colleagues.

Another type of bar I hate is the uber trendy indie place. Shoreditch is riddled with them and if you live in a city I'm sure you've been to a couple. Peer into one of these places and all you will see is a gaggle of twats simply wearing clothes. They are not smiling or dancing. They are hardly talking. Their primary purpose seems to be simply to wear trendy clothes. It is also worth noting that despite the strive for individualism that their demeanors suggest they all look the same. A few years ago they were all wearing trucker hats. I'm most likely behind the times but last time I checked they were all wearing lumberjack shirts with the top button done up and horn rimmed glasses. I should admit that for a long time I kind of wanted to be part of this gang. I always failed in my outfits miserably though* and count myself lucky that I saw the light and gave up.

One last thing (remember Columbo?) I'd like to mention is the beers in these bars. To me, all lagers pretty much taste the same. The fashions however, change year on year. Once Carlsberg was considered cool. I think even Stella was for a while. Then we had the Czech beer years. Now some bars wouldn't dream of selling Carlsberg. Instead they'll give you a warm bottle of Zatec for four quid. Ladies and gentlemen of Britain - all these beers taste the same! Thank you and goodbye.

* I went through a phase of wearing vintage 80's jumpers with 'kooky' pictures on them until someone pointed out that I looked like a child with special needs. They said it looked like I was picking clothes that were 'easy to put on'.

Monday, 6 September 2010

My Ankle Rankles

My friend Imran (British Pakistani, 5' 9") has requested that I write a blog about my ankle. This is not a fetish of his. The fact is that Imran (jogger, cocky) seems to find it hilarious that I have a bad ankle and wants to read about it 'for a laugh'. Fine...

Take yourself back to March 2000. Brit pop was on it's last legs. Noel Edmunds was still safely in hiding. Jack Whitehall was nine. Let me say that again. JACK WHITEHALL WAS NINE!* Contrary to what it says on my Wikipedia page I was at Manchester Metropolitan University 'studying' acting. I spent one Saturday evening drinking John Smith's (1.25 a pint) in the Student Union and then me and my mates left for a house party because we were cool. Pissed and brimming with post-pubescent energy I ran down the stairs of the Union. I think I may have been trying to recreate a scene in 'Heat' (which loads of people hate when it is in fact brilliant) in which Al Pacino runs down lots of steps very quickly and yet maintains his lovable intensity. I fell, like a twat, and in the process turned my right ankle, severely spraining it. It says something for the largely charmed life I have lead that that moment is easily the biggest regret of my life. One has to wonder, despite the fact I was already 20, studying acting and shit at football - if not for that fall could I have played for England?

So, for the last 10 years I have had a bad ankle. Some months I hardly notice it. Some months I hobble round like Paul Robinson**. I've been to a series of physios who have all told me that I will have a bad ankle for the rest of my life. It's hardly a disability but it is a genuine source of annoyance and the bane*** of my bloody life.

In the early noughties, as was my want, I spent a lot of time in nightclubs wondering how to make girls like me. My strength in the arena of courtship has always been my rakish wit and capacity for japes. Basically I'm a fucking hoot. It's difficult to let this ability shine through in a noisy nightclub. That didn't stop me trying - acting out the words to songs like the desperate tit I was. What made my evenings even worse (and they were, on reflection, caked in misery) was this pissy bad ankle of mine. Like many of my fellow revellers I could often be seen munching on pills except that mine were Nurofen. Dancing for hours at a time is tricky with a Grandma sized swollen ankle so I chomped on ibuprofen like they were jelly babies. Incidentally in googling the spelling of 'ibuprofen' just now I learnt that it is not in fact 'ibroprofen'. I have been saying the name of my drug of choice wrong for the last decade.

Since you ask, I'm having a good month ankle-wise. I even had a bit of a kick about yesterday and was reminded that I really can't do more than about 7 or 8 kick ups. Keeping a ball under control (wink) in the air is mighty difficult. Whatever your opinion of Tony Blair is he should always get credit for that head tennis session he had with Kevin Keegan in about 1996. Look up the footage if you've not seen it. It's really quite impressive and if he had just done that at the Iraq War inquiry I think his 'legacy' would still be very much in tact.

One final point on ankles in general. I fear for the current crop of young men who wear deck shoes and the like with no socks. Not only must their feet stink but their ankles have no support. Forever a slave to the whims of fashion, Imran (30, angry) is one of these poor souls headed for disaster. It must be boom time for the physiotherapy industry with thousands of Vampire Weekend fans limping in to their clinics with fresh sprains. I now, on the other hand almost exclusively wear high tops which not only give me the support I need but also help me to fit in when I visit the ghetto. Thank and and goodbye and if you like this blog then spread the word for I have an ego that needs feeding.

* Jack Whitehall was in fact eleven in March 2000 but I thought it would be funnier to say that he was nine. The soon to be equally as famous, Daniel Sloss was nine in March 2000. The fact is that there is a strong chance that when I sprained my ankle neither of those young men, who are both more successful at comedy than me, had pubes. Depressing. Oh and I realise that I have pondered on the likelihood of other other men having pubes two blogs in a row now. This is a dodgy habit I will keep an eye on.

** That was a reference especially for those of you who still watch Neighbours. Paul Robinson now has an artificial leg and in turn, a limp.

*** Following on from the footnotes of my last blog, 'bane' is another one of those words. I only ever hear it in the context - 'bane of my life'.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Sport and stuff.

Yesterday my brother turned 26 which is for me rather odd. I find it difficult to even believe that he has pubes. I have however been told by a number of reliable sources that he does. Question - is it appropriate to start a blog discussing my brother's pubes? It's too late now. I've done it because I am a RENEGADE. We celebrated by having a game of tennis in which he, of course, beat me. He has been doing this since he was about 5 and being four years older than him it's a source of genuine hurt and frustration that will no doubt bring about my eventual demise.

This brings me neatly onto my love of sport. It doesn't actually but I thought I could just slip that past you. I love sport a lot. Far more than someone of my astonishing IQ (over 100!) and qualifications should. I once said that for my retirement I'd like to get Sky Sports and just spend my days watching 'all the sport'. My brother recently pointed out that that is what I have ended up doing well before actually starting any kind of pension. Writing that down is, thinking about it, quite depressing. Not only did I fantasize for myself one of the dullest possible retirements but I chose to take that retirement 40 years early. Hang on tv producers, just to clarify I am still available for work and only have enough money in the bank to cover the next couple of months.

It is impossible to explain to someone who doesn't 'get it' just why I love watching and playing* sport so much. Both my parents hate it. I grew up in Newcastle and instead of taking me to watch my beloved Newcastle United every Saturday my dad would take me to craft fares and stately homes. Perhaps it was a kind of rebellion on my part. Most teenagers (I am told) blare* loud music their parents hate from their bedrooms in angst. My parents were both quite embracing of my music tastes. For the record my mother's favourite Wu Tang song is 'What The Blood Clot'. My dad showed his appreciation by saying that EVERY single thing me or my brothers played sounded like the 60s psychedelic group 'Gong'. Instead, I expressed my adolescence by demanding that we watched Match Of The Day and faking sick days so that I could watch Wimbledon and the World Snooker Championships. I did that every year by the way and always got away with it. In... your... face... system!

Now that I have the disposable income of a forty year old gay man I go to watch an awful lot of football. I know no one who loves it quite as much as me so I end up going to most of the games on my own which weirdly doesn't bother me. My adopted London team has become Leyton Orient and I go to see them most weekends. At Orient the stands are filled with pale, podgy freakish looking men who are no doubt divorcees and live on microwave shepherd's pie. In essence they are me in 10-15 years time. One constant at football games is the abuse of players, officials and surprisingly often stewards. I went to one game last year in which the chap behind me was moaning loudly about how shit we were playing within 20 seconds of the game kicking off. It was far too early to make an assessment of how well the team were playing but he had obviously had a bad week at work. The football match provided him with a setting in which it was socially acceptable to shout 'you fucking lazy cunts!' and he took it with open arms. He probably didn't even like football.

I on the other hand do. I really really do. My love for it is so abstract that I can't properly describe it. It's something to do with the fact that it is fairly unpredictable and means a lot to a lot of people. I think what happens is that a large group people decide to care about one effectively meaningless thing (a match) and therefore our collective investment makes it really important and therefore more enjoyable. R U wiv me?

Tomorrow I'm going to see Orient play away at the mighty Dagenham and Redbridge. I will be joined by the recently crippled Holly Walsh and her (stunning) boyfriend Jon. My hope is that they develop a love for the Orient that will result in us attending all Orient games together until the end of time. What will actually happen is that they will say they had an amazing time and would really like to come regularly but when I give them the opportunity they will be mysteriously unavailable. I've been stung before. Time and time again.

* I realise I do not have the body of a man who plays a lot of sport. Pool is a sport.

* Is the word 'blare' ever used in any other context? Similarly the word 'beck' is only used in the phrase 'beck and call' and the word 'incredible' is only used in the phrase 'Fergus Craig is an incredible man'.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

My (Firey) Relationship With Stewart Lee

I've started reading Stewart Lee's recent book and it's bloody good. I did a good two hour stint of pure reading this morning and I've rarely had that kind of session since I read Roald Dahl's Going Solo in 1989. Although I read a fair bit (because I'm smart) I find it difficult to do so for long periods of time - a problem I don't have with television which I can take for 20 hours at a stretch. Like much of what I do I imagine Stewart Lee would frown at that kind of low brow heavy dosage. This is the problem. Sometimes I feel like Stewart Lee is watching what I do and judging me.

Let me go back a bit to explain. In the early nineties I used to regularly go to my room to read Select magazine and listen to Lee and Herring on Radio One. Along with The Day Today and Reeves and Mortimer they were the first comedy programmes I properly loved. Later, on the 23rd of July 2001 (my 21st birthday) I went to see Stewart Lee, Simon Munnery and some others (I think Danny Bhoy was on) at the Camden Head in Islington. They were trying out new material but not having seen much live comedy I was blown away. Munnery was super pissed and spent his entire set shouting 'scum' at the audience. Lee, I remember talking about being adopted and (gently) berating my (then) girlfriend for laughing. Reading his book this morning has taught me that at that exact point (summer 2001) he was at the lowest ebb in his stand up career. I thought he was brilliant.

Now to the present day. For the last few years I have lived in the same neighbourhood as Stewart Lee and until recently we lived on the same road. This means that fairly regularly I see him on the street. We'd met a few times before we started bumping into each other but, really, we hardly know each other. We do however sometimes attempt a brief conversation. Having somewhat idolised him over the years and being awful at small talk I find these conversations tricky. This is not helped by the fact that he has a fairly distant air and in print and on stage seems to have strong negative opinions about a great deal of things. I must stress on the handful of occasions we've had these chats he's been perfectly pleasant. This does not change the fact though that throughout each of those mini events my paranoia leads me to think that he is (unfavourably) judging every single thing about me. Sometimes I read The Sun (something I'll have to defend in another blog) and I live in fear of Lee catching me with it on the street and vomiting in disgust.

Perhaps I'm revealing far too much about a dynamic he is completely unaware of. Should Stewart read this I suspect all our future street encounters will become horrible spectacles. Mr. Lee - let's talk this through. Or maybe not. That could be awful.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

The Republic of Nauru

Hi everyone. Fergus here. Much has happened since I last wrote my pithy prose. Not sure I can be arsed to bore you with it though. Instead, I will tell you a little bit about the Republic of Nauru. Everything written below is, as far as I know, true;

Nauru is the world's smallest island nation (8.1sq miles) and has a population of about 14,000 and is situated somewhere in Micronesia (abroad). So far, so wikipedia but that is not what is interesting about Nauru... Nauru's entire economy is based on bird shit*. I don't really know the science of it but essentially the Nauru-ians 'mine' phosphate from the significant amount of bird shit that lands on their island and then sell it. But then I imagine those of you with phosphate habits already knew that. Now, this is where in my opinion it gets proper funny...

Surprisingly enough the bird shit money was providing a pretty hefty revenue and considering the size of the island they were loaded. Just from the droppings they were pulling in AU$100-120 million a year and it was costing them only AU$30 million to run the island. The government of Nauru was left with a problem which I picture them wording like this - 'What are we going to do with all this bird shit money?' The answer came in the form of the 'Nauru Phosphate Royalties Trust' which was set up in the 1970s to make 'investments'.

At first the trust did well with sensible investments in properties in Australia and elsewhere. The island was nicknamed 'The Kuwait of The Pacific'. The Nauru government grew cocky. 1500 people out of a population that was at the time less than 10,000 worked for the state and flaunted their wealth with abandon. With their pockets stuffed with bird shit money they travelled the world, many of them developing a particular fondness for golf in the Bahamas.

But then the trust's investments became a little eccentric. Money was loaned to a Aussie Rules Football club that went bankrupt and a number of failed developments in Australia. Craziness peaked in 1993 when the Republic of Nauru decided to invest 2 million pounds in Leonardo the Musical. The rambling plot focused Da Vinci getting a young model named 'Lisa' pregnant. In what I assume was a nod to the pink pound it also hinted that he might have been a bit of a gay. As it turned out Leonardo the Musical was one of the biggest failures in West End history and closed after 5 weeks having lost (bird) shit loads.

With so many failed investments the trust's funds were rapidly dwindling. At least they still had the bird shit. But no! For some reason (my entirely Wikipedia based research can't find out why) there was hardly any phosphate left to mine. I like to think that the birds looked down on the arrogant folk below and aware of the wealth their bowels provided decided to go and shit somewhere else.

Nauru is now a relatively poor nation which relies on financial help from other countries. Unemployment is at 90%. It's a sad story really. A whole country made rich by bird shit and then brought down by a shit musical. I'm sure there are many lessons we can learn from it but I'll leave that up to you. Right now, I have to sort out my visa for my trip to India and as with all bureaucratic bullshit it's a pain in the arse. Can somebody do it for me please? Go on. Do it.

*I want you to know that I chose not to do a joke about ITV2's revenue also being based on shit because I thought that that would be cheap.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

TV I watch.

As someone who spends many of my days at home here is a list of SOME of the things that I often watch on telly. Don't judge me.

1. Sky Sports News. Sometimes for hours at a stretch. When you've seen the same Roy Hodgson interview 4 times it's usually time to stop.
2. Prime Minister's Questions - Absolutely nothing to do with politics. Men pretend to be earnest and angry while their mates jeer from behind. The worst thing is the loud fake laughter. If, as a comic, the audience laughed like these bellends I'd walk off.

3. The Wright Stuff - I really want to be on this programme. It's like Question Time except two thirds of every panel have been on Dancing On Ice.
4. Bargain Hunt - I only watch the end. I genuinely, whether they're on the red team or the blue team, want them to do well.
5. Neighbours - I believe I covered this in an Edinburgh show last year. Yes. I still do. Every day.
6. Fox News - Haven't watched it properly in a while. It's important to be in the right state of mind before doing so. You can either gently chuckle to yourself... 'dickheads' or you can end up shouting at the screen... 'dickheads!!'.
7. Cricket. Great for getting stuff done while it's on. If you don't 'get' cricket then it's worth watching just for David Lloyd's commentary. Once I turned it on to only catch the end of one of his Northern rants - '...New Order! Joy Division! Proper bands!'. You do not get that from Andy Townsend.
8. The World at War. I never really follow it properly though I'm pretty sure I know the basics.
9. Live From Studio Five - Channel Five's answer to Newsnight. It will never beat the chaos of it's first week when it was Ian Wright, Melinda Messenger and Kate Walsh shouting over each other for an hour. They could not have picked three less qualified people. They might as well have got snap, crackle and pop (or Alvin, Simon and Theodore depending on your frame of reference). Here's the opening to the first episode if you can bare it. You'll have to copy I paste it I'm afraid so you need to really want it.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

On the train.

After doing my only gig of the fringe (BBC night - there is a lot of buzz about my performance) I spent Saturday evening in Brookes bar. Brookes is officially a bar for Pleasance performers and the more naive of you might expect it to be just a little bit glamorous. In actuality it resembles a sixth form common room/youth club and is almost exclusively populated by unrecognisable journeyman comics like myself. Although it's not particularly hip to say so, in small doses I love it because it's also filled with my friends. There was one event though that slightly spoilt my binge...

I spilled half a pint of Guinness over a lady's trousers and a man's jacket and bag. I was immediately enormously embarrassed and went into apology overload. Now when you're on the receiving end of a spillage you get understandably annoyed and then you accept the spiller's apologies by saying 'it's alright, don't worry about it' whilst inwardly despising them. Those are the rules. That is what you do. But this lady was a maverick and I hated her for it. She proceeded to have a serious go at me.

'Sorry, sorry, sorry. I'm so sorry.'

'You've ruined everything!'.

'I'm sorry.'

'You're a prick'

'I know. Sorry'

This went on for a good five minutes. Happy ending - I poured the rest of the pint over her. Real ending - I waddled away mumbling sorry.

I am now on the train returning from Edinburgh. There have been a couple of events worthy of note on this journey but 3 days of booze and steak bakes have rendered me a shadow of my former self and I fear I won't be able to do them justice in the telling. In brief the first half of the journey was dominated by four ADHD suffering teenagers from Doncaster pestering two gay upper class American lawyers to let them have ' a shot' on their laptops. The biggest incident of the second half has been the poshest man in the world. He has a booming voice, a pair of binoculars and bellows things like 'Gentleman! Mumsy is over here!'. He is talking to a different pair of Americans who no doubt think he is completely representative of the average Englishman. I have genuinely never come across anyone who is closer to how the British are portrayed in bad American movies. Perhaps he is hired by the tourist board to roam train carriages giving visitors the cartoonish Englishness they came to see. Just now he bounded down the carriage shouting things like 'Good evening sir!' to strangers. It is 5 o'clock.

Every show I saw at this years fringe was good and I hesitate to single one out for fear of upsetting friends. Fuck it though, Nick Mohammed's show may well be the best I have ever seen in Edinburgh.

Posh twat update - He is ASTONISHING and pissed out of his mind...

'I'm looking for my wife!! We went to Paris - I went for the rugby, she went for the opera!'

Then he shouted at an Asian trolley pusher; 'Good evening good sir, are you going to the Oval tomorrow for the cricket? They are playing a team from the South Asian sub continent and it's not India or Bangladesh. Are you with me matey!?'

If this was a sketch it would be considered unoriginal but it is HAPPENING and it is INCREDIBLE.

'You, good sir, are a fine young man!'

I am lost for words which, I guess signals the end of today's blog.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010


Today I overheard a mother call her 3 year old boy 'Dennis'. Dennis. Really. Child naming fashions operate like all other fashions - in cycles. On each new cycle a couple of new names are added and a couple are discarded. I imagine the name's Keith and Bernard, for example won't come back. "I'll be with you in a minute, I just need to change Bernard's nappy". Recently, turn of the century before last (that's what we have to call it now) names have been very popular. Nowhere is this more noticeable than where I live - Stoke Newington, the liberal North London family's cultural epicentre.

Living on it's main street I wake up every Saturday morning to mother's shouting "Archie! Stay away from Olive's croissant!". Dennis was not a name I saw coming back. Actually, the more I write it the more I like it. "We bought Dennis a clarinet but he gave up after grade 2". Maybe not. That sounds a little more like you're speaking about an elderly relative with Alzheimer's rather than an 8 year old boy.

Unusual names are far more popular now than when I was growing up in the 1980s. Back then having the name Fergus was like having bellend written on your forehead. Unfortunately I had both. Now, I like having a fairly unique name. The only serious irritant is that people ALWAYS just assume that my name is in fact 'Craig Fergus'. Every time someone sees a form filled in by me I can picture them saying "Look at this Beryl. Another twat who doesn't know what 'surname' means!". There's another one - Beryl. Could that ever come back? Cast your votes now.

As a child it felt like there were 8 Johns in my class, 4 Christophers, 3 Roberts and me... Fergus. And of course the girls. I didn't go to prep school dickheads! If I did would I be able to do this? *attempts roundhouse kick, unintentionally breaks vase*. Quick question - did I use those *s correctly just then? I mean, I know it was hilarious (that goes without saying) but was it grammatically correct?

The name Fergus spawned the following nicknames; Fungus, Fungus the Bogeyman, Fungi, Fungal, Fergil and most creatively... Fungibell. Though that last one probably had a lot to do with the fact that I would often wear the girls' hairbands. I've thought about that a lot since and have concluded that I just did it for laughs and not because of any gender/sexuality curiosity. I'm as straight as they come mate. Now pass me another bevvy and stick the blaaaaady footy on.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Shit Jobs

It is now 5 years since I have had what I like to term as a 'shit job'. A 'shit job' is a job you cannot bare to go to but have to in order to pay for essentials - food, shelter, legal fees. It is my primary ambition to never have to do another 'shit job' again. My last 'shit job' was in a call centre.

I spent two and a half years at that call centre trying to persuade people to give more money to various charities. The way it worked was this - I worked for a company that was hired by different charities to either persuade people who had already donated to donate on a monthly basis or to persuade those that did give monthly to give more. One part of me felt that I was helping charities to get vital funding. The other felt like I was bullying old ladies into giving me their biscuit money.

Animal charity supporters were the most mental. A friend once asked one if he had any pets. "No" he replied. Then after a pause "...well, I've got a dog?". One elderly lady picked up the phone to one of my calls after less than half a ring frantically shrieking "DID YOU RING THIS MORNING?!!". I pictured her sat on the stairs in a talc smelling house, petrified. She'd missed an earlier call and had spent the last 4 hours waiting for the phone to ring again. In retrospect I have a lot of sympathy for many of the people I called. I don't like being badgered on the phone either but at the time each call was just another step towards reaching my targets. I think any job in sales (and this was essentially sales) ultimately makes you hate people. You find yourself thinking 'why won't these people just do what I ask of them?'. Any empathy for why they might not be able to just aids them in saying 'no'.

Most of the people who worked there didn't see it like this. My competitive nature led me to obsessively chase targets because it got me through the unbearable hours. What is kind of absurd is that as I often worked for third world or cancer charities, I spent a lot of my time talking about horrible things. And yet instead of this making me appreciate the healthy, western, relative splendor that I lived in I felt completely detached from the things I spoke about and felt very sorry for myself.

This is the nature of 'shit jobs'. They can, I believe, seriously damage your personality and turn you into a selfish, miserable, lazy arsehole. It's the hours that do it. They just go on for fucking ever. Clocks on the walls of 'shit jobs' go at least five times slower than clocks in houses do. If you are currently in a 'shit job' you have my sympathies. May something happen tomorrow that adds just a little colour to your day. Perhaps the computers will go down, leaving you unable to do your job. It's brilliant when that happens.

So that it is fully documented, here is a list of all the shit jobs I have had. Everything below is true. Read at your leisure;

1993 - Paperboy delivering Evening Chronicle in Newcastle (6 quid a week).
1993 - Paperboy in Braintree - sacked for being too slow after 2 weeks.
1994 - Paperboy in Braintree - hit by a car while delivering papers.
1997 - 98 Working on the till at the Co-Op.
1999 - Revolution Bar, Manchester - Sacked for being too slow after 4 shifts.
1999 - The factory months; Perfume factory, potato peeling factory, putting stickers on bananas factory, making screws factory, loading boxes factory, frozen chicken packing factory (here I dropped some chickens on my foot and went to hospital with a suspected broken toe. I was fine but I was never paid).
1999 - Bin man for one day.
2000 - 01 - Usher at Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester (this was the best 'shit job' I ever had)
2000 - 01 - Horse and Groom pub, Braintree (many stories here)
2001 - Night shift, shelf stacker at Tesco - left after one week when I got an advert for Boots and thought I was rich.
2002 - 05 - Charity call centre with Colin Hoult, Hayley Jayne Standing and Chris O'Dowd amongst others.

Apologies if today's blog (I hate that word) is a little indulgent. I dedicate it to everyone who truly knows the meaning of the phrase 'shit job'.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Hilarious Pun

Hey! Isn't it about time I told you about my weekend? I'll start with Saturday night because, other than some fish donburi nothing of any real consequence happened prior to that. But that night I did one of the more memorable gigs of my fairly short stand up career. Stag and hen nights are often a part of weekend stand up gigs but for some reason I've not really come across them much thus far. Not until Saturday night that was.

I was booked to do 20 minutes at a gig I've done quite a lot now and really enjoy. It does however have a legendary reputation as being quite feisty and although I've only encountered good natured banter in the past the reputation alone is enough to make me nervous. When I walked into the venue those nerves turned to outright terror. What I saw was a sea of bunnies' ears and hair gel. The night was sold out and of the 250-300 people in the room at least 70% appeared to be on stag or hen dos. I say this, well aware of my middle class liberal pomposity - they were members of what I think is now known as the 'underclass'. I looked for someone filming a documentary for Sky One but, no, this was real life.

I'm sure that there were plenty of nice, perhaps even smart people in that room. But operating in the packs that they were they were far closer to animals and not nice ones like pandas. The opening 10 minutes for the compere was pure crowd control. I genuinely think there was a significant proportion of the room who were not aware that they had come to see comedy. As far as they were concerned there just happened to be a man on stage with a microphone and if they got bored with their conversations they could listen to him for a while. He did an excellent job of getting through to the majority of them that they shouldn't talk while the acts were on.

I realised I was about to do a gig to a room full of the people who bullied me at school for being 'gay'. I had flashbacks of performing drama pieces to sniggers in assembly. Aware that each of them appeared to have already drunk more WKDs than they had GCSEs I filtered my set. My new joke that includes a reference to George Orwell's 'Down and out in Paris and London' was the first to go.

As it turned out the gig wasn't too bad. I had feared that once they saw my slightly camp gait and 'cool vicar' looks it was only a matter of time before I was lying on the stage in the fetal position while they took turns to kick lumps out of me. Instead they seemed to enjoy what I said until about 15 mins in when they're bladders were too full of blue liquid to concentrate. Towards the end I think there may have been a couple of disapproving shouts from the back but by that stage the room was such a complex organism it didn't seem to matter. Some people were in fits of laughter while others were vomiting into their handbags. I left almost immediately after finishing but not before taking advantage of a couple of the particularly worse for wear women in the disabled toilet.*

I headed straight to a house party in Crouch End where instead of learning lessons from what I had just witnessed I very quickly drank myself into a stupor. Because I arrived sober I felt that I had to drink more to catch up. Foolish in the extreme. There is something odd about a person who when arriving late to a party takes a look around at the people slurring utter bollocks and thinks - I want to be like that.

On Sunday I lost at tennis to my brother and got properly angry, nearly smashing my raquet like some crazy American. When I was 12 and he was 8 he used to beat me. That's when I should have been collecting victories because now that I am 30 (and I believe that number will continue to rise) he will always be better than me. My only hope is that he develops some kind of disability. Fingers crossed.**

The rest of my weekend can be summed up with struggling to digest food and performing to some tourists in Leicester Square. Leicester Square is the sort of place where only tourists seem to go and when I go to European cities I always worry that I've ended up in their equivalent of Leicester Square. That concludes today's blog. It would have been nice to finish with a bang but it wasn't to be. Or was it? BANG!

*As there is a definite chance that my stalker-ish mother*** reads this blog I feel I need to point out that that was a joke.
** Again. A joke. I wish him many years of able bodied health.
*** Mother, I think it's great that you show an interest in my work and would be upset if you didn't. Feel free to keep googling me.

Friday, 6 August 2010

David Suchet is a prick!

Oh... hello! How have you been? And the Mrs? Glad to hear it. Now, let me tell you about the Wu Tang gig I went to on Wednesday. Despite some great moments it was all in all, of course, a bit of a disappointment. Brixton Academy seems to be the place I go to see my music icons when they're well past their prime. I also saw Bob Dylan and Morrissey there (on separate occasions, they didn't sing White Christmas together or anything) and was largely disappointed. I think I go to see veteran acts just to tick them off the list though really. At least I can say I saw them.

It's like when I was about 22 I saw Damon Alburn at a Streets gig. 22 year old me didn't really care about meeting Damon but I knew that 15 year old me would have given my left ventricle to speak to him. So, knowing he was from Essex I touched him and shouted directly into his face 'Damon! I'm from Braintree!'. Despite always coming across like a bit of a tit in interviews he played his role superbly and graciously gave me the 30 seconds of conversation I was clearly just collecting like a Panini sticker. That's the thing with being famous I think. Every person you ever meet, however briefly, walks away with an anecdote. It must be terrifying to feel that you have to forever have your charm turned up to eleven.

'He wasn't very chatty'.

'But you served him at a road toll booth, there was a queue behind him'.

'Still, he could have stopped for a chat. Spread the word - David Suchet is a prick!'.

I do hope David Suchet isn't a self googler. Though if he can operate the technology, I have no doubt that he is. All performers are. In a really low moment he may google the phrase "David Suchet is a prick" and will be distraught to see that the term was found. David, it was a joke. You are a great actor, a good man and miles cooler than your creepy brother. Now, stop moping and get on with your day.

And this, incredibly, neatly brings me back to the Wu Tang. For all the bravado that comes with being a professional rapper some of them must suffer from huge insecurity. Other than RZA, who also produces much of the music, they all essentially have the same job - write some verses and spit (street term, kids) them out. But some members are far more popular than others because, quite frankly, some are far better at it than others. On the one hand Masta Killa (birth name?) can go to sleep knowing that he is a member of the greatest hip hop group of all time. On the other hand it must wrangle to know that out of nine members you are the least popular. Emile Heskey can at least tell himself that he always 'did a job' for England. Masta Killa knows that he did exactly the same job as the eight other Wu Tangers for 18 years and finished bottom of the league table. Once again, I do hope Masta Killa is not a self-googler. Masta... you are a good man and valuable member of the Wu. Incidentally, I have just learnt from Wikipedia that Masta Killa is a vegetarian. No joke needed there really.

That's all for today I think. You should know that my girlfriend (you shall never know her name) and I booked flights to Mumbai last night. Very excited. That trip can't be a disappointment can it? If it is and I slate it then I do hope Mumbai isn't a self-googler.

One last thing. Thanks for all your advice on the football podcast. Oh hang on... THERE WASN'T ANY! Unbelievable.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Wu Tang Clan Man

Tonight I'm going to see the Wu Tang Clan. Yeah, that's right bellends - you read me correctly. I'm going to see the Wu bloody Tang Clan and I can't wait. I've loved the Clan since I was 14. Growing up in a small village outside of Braintree in Essex I felt that they really spoke to me. Bad textiles lesson? Stick on some Old Dirty Bastard. He understands. Bike chain playing up so you can't get to the village newsagent for a Lion bar? Stick on some Ghostface Killah. He gets it.

This is the problem you see. There is still a stigma attached to being white, (lower) middle class and a fan of hip hopping. I always feel a little embarrassed when my love of rap music comes up, like I have to defend it. Why though? When it's good it's incredible and more fool you to anyone who dismisses it... That's why I'll never quite fit into the hip hop community. Not because I'm white, wear cords and have an A-Level in Theatre Studies but because I use phrases like 'more fool you'.

It is fair to say that hip hop is often shit live. When I do go I always think that I start to hear what someone who hates rap music hears - a series of indistinguishable basslines and people shouting lyrics I can't understand. That's not because the music's shit though. That's because the venues are usually used to hosting rock bands and don't get the sound right. At least that's what someone who sounded like they knew what they were talking about told me. I went to see Jay-Z at Wembley Arena a few years ago. What was not a great gig was made worse by the fact that when leaving I slipped over on some ice (not diamond jewelry, real ice) and fell on my arse. I was surrounded by 'urban youths' shouting "Oooo! You fell man! You fell!".

That said, I'm still massively looking forward to this evening. The Wu Tang in my (sought after) opinion represent hip hop at it's finest. They may still be ruffians but they're super smart ones. I imagine this evening to be a little like all the roughest kids who bullied me at school getting together and putting on a little show. That reminds me of Blazin' Squad. Remember them? I always thought they looked a lot like an ID parade breaking into song.

In conclusion - rap music is ace and the Wu Tang Clan are the pinnacle of that genre. If you don't know the Wu Tang and feel like opening your mind here's a good introduction. It's positively ludicrous but a lot of fun. Oh and if you don't like it then I will assume that you're racist.

One more thing. If you haven't seen me do stand up in a while, this is what my set is like now;

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Fringe Binge

Right now many of my friends (and enemies) are up in Edinburgh shitting themselves about their fringe shows. For most of them, their first show will be tomorrow. I do not envy them. As someone who has done 4 Edinburgh shows (3 with Colin Hoult) I feel I have a fairly good understanding of how they are feeling. Or maybe it was just me who felt like this.

Tonight, the night before your first show, is very weird. Aware that you will be drinking excessively for the next 4 weeks you stay sober. Big mistake. This just leads to a sleepless night pondering your show. One half of you is terrified that you are embarking on a huge failure. Any career that you may or may not have will be over within a week when people realise what dogshit your show is.

The other half of you wonders whether this really might be 'your year'. You remember a producer who told you that it would be and a preview that went incredibly well. That was one of the best gigs you ever did and that was 2 weeks ago and the show is so much more 'slick' now. You wonder if you should wear a suit to the awards ceremony when you're inevitably nominated for the Perrier (I'm still calling it that) or whether that would seem a little fake given that you never wear one normally. Excited, you treat yourself to an expensive meal out, spending the prize money in advance.

Then you remember how much the show is costing you and it spoils your meal. Why do Edinburgh shows cost that much by the way? Last year I sold something like 13,000 pounds worth of tickets and yet I lost 4 and a half grand. That, I think is a fairly average story for someone of similar standing to myself. That's indefensible and the people responsible should be ashamed. Oh, hang on. That's the performers. If we didn't all have our heads up our own arses (and mine sometimes gets all the way up to my pancreas) then we'd all get together and do the free fringe or something. Then the big venues would be forced not to charge such exorbitant rates. That said, if I go next year I imagine I will use the same methods I always have. What a fool I am.

For anyone reading this who is up in Edinburgh I'm sorry if I've sunk you into a depression that you did not yet have. If it's any consolation, deep down, I kind of wish I was up there. Edinburgh is fucking brilliant it's just important not to get to stressed about the whole thing - something I never really succeeded in doing. Two weeks into any Edinburgh August half of the comedians think that they are now famous and half of the comedians think that their careers are over. Both groups are always wrong.

Rant over. Now may I share something with you? This is a band called The Shaggs and they are so awful that they are amazing.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Flat-pack Fergus

Just to solidify the fact that I am now thirty, yesterday I put together a flat-pack chest of drawers. I say 'I put it together', a more realistic representation would be that my girlfriend put it together and I tried to look helpful. Here is an example of our dialogue, mid construction;

HER: Lift it up.

ME: What does 'IT' mean?

HER: The thing!

ME: What is 'THE THING'?!

She picks it up

HER: This fucking 'THING'!

ME: Oh. Sorry.

I lift it up

HER: It's too late now.

The fact is I am so bad at anything practical (and I include sex in that) it is beyond a joke. Once she asked me exactly what it was that I brought to the relationship. I meekly replied - 'entertainment?'. Yes, that it what I bring to the table... entertainment. I may struggle to put food on that table and if it comes in a flat-pack I will almost certainly fail at putting that table together but I can bring entertainment to that table. That is if the 'entertainment' you are looking for comes from a Championship standard comedian/writer/actor/voice over artist/presenter who's probably spread himself a little too thinly in his career thus far.

Speaking of spreading myself thinly, I'm hoping to start a podcast about football (as if there weren't enough already) by next Monday. Any tips on and advice on how to practically make that happen would be most welcome.

Before I finish today's posting, it has come to my attention (thanks to pedants) that I make the odd spelling or gramatical error in this blog. As someone who has often been chided for being an irritating stickler for spelling and grammar this came as quite a shock. I can only offer my sincerest apologies and the following explanation - you can take the boy out of the ghetto but you can't take the ghetto out of the boy. I'm keeping it real, bitches.

I went to school with this guy

There's a strong bleeding chance that you've seen this already but I thought I'd post it anyway. Watch until the end.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Careers Advice Is Bullshit

Last night I went for a drink with an old friend and we got talking about our careers advise at school. We both were told to fill in a series of questions on a computer programme called Kudos and Kudos would tell us what we should do every day for the next 50 years or so. My (male) friend's came up 'midwife' and mine came up 'road safety officer'. At the time I had already been hit by a car once and over the next 5 years I would be hit two more times. I'm not lying. Careers advice is bullshit. Kudos asked people if they were afraid of heights and if they liked being outside. Almost everyone who gave the appropriate answers was told to be a TV ariel installer. Clearly Kudos didn't see digital TV coming. My home town's job centre is populated by 30 year old former TV ariel installers cursing Kudos. 

A shitty computer programme is easy to dismiss but face to face careers advice is far more dangerous. As a child my brother was obsessed with insects. He had a subscription to a magazine called Bugs and knew as much as an eleven year old could possibly know about them. He was also a very good student. When he had his careers session he told his adviser of his interest and stated that he hoped to go to university and become an entomologist (insect boffin). My smart, determined brother was told that he should work in pest control for the council. That is genuinely appalling. My brother's dreams were shattered and he lost confidence in his entomology ambitions. Perhaps he shouldn't have been so easily deterred but when your interested in such a specific field and you live in a town where very few people go to university it's not difficult to get thrown off track.

The town I speak of is Braintree in Essex. Just to give you an idea of the kind of place I'm talking about the local band was called 'Hot Ice' and the nightclub was called 'H20'. I lived there from the ages of 13 to 18 and for the most part I hated it. Towns like Braintree are incredible ambition sappers. Ten maybe fifteen people from my year of about 150 went onto mediocre university. About five years ago I met some of the people I used to hang out with at my previous school in Newcastle and they'd nearly all gone to Oxbridge. I'm not saying that everyone should go on and study PHDs but it's nice to know that if you're bright and hard working enough you can do anything. Living in a town like Newcastle bright kids can see a future. Living in a town like Braintree means you need a lot more drive and belief to get where you want to be unless it's pest control.

So why do careers advisors give such shit advice? Because they hate their own shit jobs that's why. What they are essentially saying to every child is 'Listen. We've all got fucking dreams but that's what scratch cards are for. Do you think I wanted to be doing this shit? Course not. That's life. Get over it and do you work experience at the fucking council.' 

I'm getting wound up now. More on this tomorrow. The chip on my shoulder is turning into a jacket potato. 

Thursday, 22 July 2010


I've been saving up a blog because I knew I was seeing my Granddad last night and I felt sure that he'd provide me with some gems of conversation I could relay to you. In the past he has told me that;

1. He once drove the wrong way down the Dartford Tunnel and got away with it because he told the police he was MI5. 
2. He once got so angry at a nigger (his word, don't shoot the messenger - EVERYONE'S grandparents are racist) that he broke his own teeth purely from gritting them in rage.
3. He personally invented laundry detergent, the three bar gas fire and a piece of apparatus used in major medical procedures. 

I suspect none of those are true but I do know that he invented a machine that puts oysters into weight categories. Just stop for a moment and imagine where you'd be without that device.   

Unfortunately Granddad didn't provide me with anything. Usually there's at least some ultra right wing ideas. But no, even when the rapes at Latitude were brought up he was relatively balanced and said nothing of castrating the villains. Perhaps he's mellowing in his old age. Tomorrow is my Granddad's 80th birthday which in turn means that tomorrow is my 30th birthday. I was born on his 50th and thus far we've managed to pretty much maintain that 50 year gap. There was a short period in the mid-90s when I caught him up by 6 months but it didn't last for long.  

What's that you say? You wish me and my grandfather many happy returns? Oh, thank you. We look far younger than our years? Nice of you to mention it. We could be brothers? Fuck off. That in no way flatters either of us.

So you might me able to tell I'm struggling for a neat finish (or start) to today's prose. I'll manufacture one for you... In summary - my Granddad's a bit of a character but didn't give me much to work with last night and tomorrow I'm 30 and to be frank I'd rather not be. Thank you and good night. 

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Swan Lake is disgusting

Last night in contrast to my macho image I went to see a ballet for the first time ever. I went for Swan Lake because I think it's best to start with the classics and go from there. That's why the first book I ever read was Don Quixote (not true). I turned up genuinely not knowing the story. Having now seen it in my opinion Swan Lake is fucking sick. Let me tell you the story as I understood it;

There's this prince and he's hanging out with some dignitaries and a jester (bellend) and they have a bit of a dance. Then the prince decides to go and shoot some geese. Fine. It's of it's time. Then prince comes across a lake full of swans. Let's call it 'swan lake'.  Then either the swans get out of the water or the prince gets into the water and they have a bit of a dance - together. 

Then (and this is where it gets a little weird for me) the prince falls in love with the swan. The prince is, I can't stress this enough, HUMAN and he falls in love with a SWAN. He wants to fuck a SWAN... one of the QUEEN'S swans. The asylum seekers that The Sun got so wound up about a few years ago only ate a swan - they didn't fuck it.

Then the prince goes back to a palace or something, probably because it was all doing his head in, and him and his mates have a bit of a dance. Then that swan bird turns up in disguise. That's some disguise! At a stretch I would say that a swan could pass itself off as a duck but a human?! The swan had to get dressed (!), find the party (with very little land experience) and then get past the bouncers. The prince then sees the swan, fancies her even more and they have a bit of a dance. She keeps showing off with little dances on her own, pissing off and then coming back again. He's lapping it up.

Once she's finally actually left he's obviously got blue balls so he turns up at the lake again. Then either he gets into the water or she gets out and they have a bit of a dance. But there's a problem. There's what I assume is a male swan and he's got this crazy idea about keeping sensual relations within the species. The prince is having none of that and they have a fight. Eventually in what was always going to be an unfair fight the prince kills the male swan by pulling off his wing and proves once and for all that a swan cannot break a man's arm. 

Then the lady swan and the prince share a warm embrace. They sort of kiss but their lips don't touch probably because the dancers are allowing for where her BEAK would be. This is considered by the entire audience a happy ending. There are children and old ladies alike cheering on what is essentially a story about beastiality. Like I said... sick.

Monday, 12 July 2010

I am cooler than you. Deal with it.

Hi. I'm Fergus Craig and I'm the coolest person you could ever hope to possibly meet. Let me tell you why...

1. I have snogged over 20 girls.
2. This morning I completed my World Cup wall chart having had to tippex over only one mistake.
3. I know the 'known' family tree of most Neighbours characters.
4. Derren Brown has seen me in a play and from what I hear thought I was good.
5. I have played Pro Evolution Soccer most days in the last 7 years.
6. My girlfriend is American.
7. At the age of eleven I wrote a rap that included a reference to John Major.
8. Sometimes I go into Ladbrokes on weekday afternoons and bet on dog races.
9. I was in an unscreened advert for Thomas Cook
10. My eczema hasn't flared up in ages.
11. I am the Northumberland under 13s badminton champion 1992.
12. I have a couple of non-white friends.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Trainers in 1992

Ghana's captain at this year's World Cup was called Stephen Appiah. That got me to thinking about a chap of the same name whom I went to school with in the early 90s. I'm pretty sure it's not the same bloke. At the time I was in Newcastle and my Stephen Appiah had had a heart transplant. He was black though. And he bullied me.

That's what's been bothering me. You see, he had the gait of someone with serious disabilities AND he was black (probably the only black person in our year) and yet he was the chief bully in our class. Retrospectively I think he might be my hero. On paper, given the nature of where I grew up (Britain) you'd have thought he'd have been the first port of call for anyone wishing to dish out some abuse. Instead he was a phenomenal ringleader, with all his minions dancing to his tune - invariably 'rave' based. 

So how did he achieve this status and more importantly how did I end up close to the bottom of the social pile? The answer is trainers. I'm sure some of you remember that in the early 90s trainers were a key part of social structuring at school. I wonder if they still hold the same power? It seems to me that it's now quite fashionable to wear what are essentially plimsoles (easy for any parent to fork out for) so perhaps not. Then again I'm probably being naive.  In 1992 the big brands were of course Nike, Reebok and Adidas but there were some that seem to have fallen by the wayside - LA Gear, BK Knights. Dunlops and Hi-Techs were not acceptable but what if your parents couldn't afford (or at least weren't prepared to sacrifice nice French cheese for) even them? Then you were stuck with either Clarks or white plimsoles. Then you were me. Appiah, of course had the peak of footwear technology - Nike Air Max. I always wondered, is Nike Air different to normal air? If you were to breathe it in would it give you powers?   

Every day I suffered laughter and taunts aimed at my shoes all emanating from Appiah. I guess his disabilities had given him a resolve to never be someone's inferior. To dish it out before the taunts came his way. Either that or he was a cunt. People often forget that I think - those with disabilities can be pricks too. But then one day I arrived at school confident that there would be no laughter headed my way for a while because I had a new weapon... some gleaming new BK Knights. Praise be to shopping centres there was a sale on in town the night before and I'd managed to persuade my mother to get me them. 

That morning I arrived early and sat at my desk (just in front of the form teacher, I was a real boffin) and struck a pose. It was a pose I'd seen Appiah perform on a number of occasions. Lent back on my chair, BK enclosed feet on the desk I felt as cool as I had ever done in my previous 12 years. To give Appiah credit he burst my bubble with real aplomb. The second he saw me he burst into a villainous cackle - one that really put me in my place. I immediately became aware of how ridiculous I looked. I had thought that simply sticking some C-List trainers on my feet would earn me instant respect. I'd be welcomed into the cool gang with open arms - 'We thought you were a right bender but now you've got them BKs we'll show you where we keep our popularity juice'. The fact was though I was still the same dweeb with a shit haircut. You can put a monkey in a suit but unless he's got some seriously high powered mates he won't get into The Ivy. Lesson learnt. I focussed on my studies for a while.

Did trainers play a massive part in social hierarchy at your school or was it just in my hood?

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Getting Started

For years I have not done things because I've made an assumption that they are somehow not meant for me. Blogging is one them. I've never learnt to drive because I've made the decision that operating a large chunk of metal at high speed is not for me. Considering I've been hit by a car on three occasions that's probably a good call. I'm not dripping with road sense. Though while I'm on the subject anyone who does drive is fucking mental. Seriously. The sheer arrogance of it.  

But there are other things I've avoided for no good reason. Making internet videos, starting a website, boat shoes. I figured they would be way too much hassle and I'd crumble under the pressure. But then, just now, about 15 minutes ago I googled (yeah, I'm down with that google shit) the word 'blog' and it turns out it was a doddle. I mean I haven't posted this yet so I may be way off the mark. Have I chosen the right place to blog? Is Google a well sad blogging spot?

So I'm not exactly sure how this will go but anything less than a book deal within 3 months would be a disappointment. You'll notice I've simply named it 'Fergus Craig'. Not a brave choice but I was worried that any name a chose in the heat of the moment I'd be stuck with. I started a business with a friend when I was 15 basically illegally copying music tapes and we called it 'Sorted Tunes'. I always regretted that name but once you've ordered the letter headed paper your fucked. Still, I could live to regret rather pompously calling this blog 'Fergus Craig'. It's going to be hard to disassociate myself from it when when it goes tits up. If in a couple of weeks time I drunkenly write a post in support of national service for under twelves then paint my hands red, it's a fair cop.

Anyway, I intend to update (correct term?) this bitch as often as possible. I might even jazz up the design a little. Whether anyone will read it is another question. I might recklessly start up a few beefs to get me noticed. Probably not though.