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.