Wednesday, 15 April 2015

P.O. Box.

I am great at meeting people. It's almost like I'm a magnet for people. I meet them all the time. Wherever I go. People, people, people. Some people have told me they find it impossible to meet people, especially in London where there's only 8.3 million of them, but it comes very naturally to me. I'm good at it. No, I'm GREAT at meeting people. It's just that once I've met a person, I ruin both of our lives. Immediately.

In the 1990's, when meeting my then girlfriend's mum for the very first time, I accidentally bit her. It's hard to come back from that. Especially as my then girlfriend and I had split up on the way to meeting her mum, it might have looked like I wasn't exactly taking it well. I'm sure it must have helped her with the decision not to see me again though. I was once introduced to a man who looked like Dave from Chas & Dave and I told him I hated Chas & Dave. I don't, by the way. They're great. I only said it for a joke because he looked like Dave from Chas & Dave and then he told me he WAS Dave from Chas & Dave. When I met my old flatmate, he constantly talked about how in love he was with a woman called Cheryl. They saw each other all the time and she thought of him as her best friend, exactly what he didn't want. So, to impress her, he decided to invite her round to meet me. (I know and you know. But he didn't know) As soon as I met Cheryl I said "Charmed, I'm sure". I may as well have said "Run for your life. I'm a cunt". I realised it was a stupid thing to say so, to put her at her ease, instead of shaking her hand I decided to kiss it. That didn't help at all. Especially as I loudly, disgustingly and completely unexpectedly farted at the same time. I don't know if they ever got together. I just know that I haven't seen him since 1995.

Even yesterday I met the new window cleaner in my street. He pointed out how nice the weather was and I replied with, and I quote: "Yes. Sun Lewisham time".

But at least I met him. It just didn't work out. It never does. That man has a skill and he has confidence. Why the hell is he talking to me? Pick on someone your own depth. Leave me alone. Even if I hadn't just said the most gormless thing anyone has ever said, what would we have in common? I don't know how ladders or suds work. I can't banter with people while whistling and winking and if I knew how to clean a window then I wouldn't be completely dependent on him doing it.

But at least I met him. And he was right about the weather. It was beautiful. Even Lewisham looks lovely in the sunshine. There's a sort of shimmering haze that beams off the graffiti and sick. I decided to go for a nice stroll around the town and passed a church with an adorable little bric-a-brac market right at the front. I say an adorable little bric-a-brac market, basically a load of angry people put everything they hated into plastic bags and then fucked the bags over the church wall but it was as close as Lewisham gets to a Moroccan bazaar. It was mainly just clothes and baby toys lying in a puddle but, as I passed, I couldn't help but notice a large box sitting away from all the other junk. I couldn't help noticing it because it had about 15 Doctor Who DVDs in it.

Right. What ones do I not have? Even as I got closer to the box, I knew this was going to be pointless. I have them all. It's not like they found Fury From the Deep and put it out and forgot to tell me. They always tell me. But I'll have a look anyway. The DVDs were in great condition so whoever buys them has got a great bargain. That's if you COULD buy them. There was nothing around to suggest you could. No till or charity money box. Not even a person. It was just a box of stuff sitting on the pavement all on its own. And it wasn't just Doctor Who DVDs in there. There were two Alan Partridge DVDs too. I have them already. And all The League of Gentlemen DVDs, which I also have. And Dark City, one of my favourite films. The same DVD sits pride of place on my shelf at home. So many CDs in there too. Most of which I had and a few that I think I wanted to buy at the time but glad I didn't because I'm sure I'd have regretted it. I have quite a few regrets in my CD collection myself. There must have been 30 Star Wars figures in there, just like the ones I have and even a Death Star T-Shirt almost the same as mine. And underneath the DVDs was a pile of collected Kerrang! magazines from the '80's.

I have found my soulmate. 

Somewhere in Lewisham is my best mate. My life-long buddy. My brother from another mother. My... Friend. He likes EVERYTHING that I like. I looked further into the box hoping to find psoriasis cream or some bottles of very, very vegan water or a really adorable dog. I mean, he's bound to have asthma like me because... Well, look at him. He IS me. And he's right here in Lewisham. My BEST FRIEND lives in Lewisham and for the first time in my life I'm excited to meet someone. I'm not afraid to meet someone. I actually WANT to meet someone. My best friend. We can watch Genesis Of The Daleks together and record our own commentary to put out as a podcast. We can go to Forbidden Planet together and buy those Doctor Who t-shirts designed to look like The Doctor's clothes. Him Tom Baker, I Peter Davison. We'll go to see Morrissey together and talk about how great he is all the way there and about how terrible he was all the way back. I'll introduce him to great vegan restaurants and he can show me where the best Heavy Metal bars in London are. And we'll laugh. We'll laugh all the time. Of course, we will because my best friend and I don't just like the same things. We also hate the same things too. And we'll spend all our long, sunny days taking the piss out of idiots and laughing and even laughing at each other. Yes! We're best friends so we won't mind having a matey pop at one another. I tell you what, I'll certainly be having a go at him for throwing Doctor Who DVDs out, that's for sure. "Mate!", I'll say. "Why you throwing these bloody brilliant DVDs out? Mum think they're too scary for you?" and we'll laugh. We'll go to the pub for a tankard of the barkeep's very finest - OR TEN - and I'll say "Mate! Why did you throw these DVDs out?" Ha! Yeah. Yeah, no, but really. Why... Why did he throw all this stuff out?

He's dead, isn't he? My best friend in the whole world. A man who knows me, who gets me, who is me... and instead of meeting me, he's dead. Typical. He's even just as selfish as me.

But my best friend left me with a message: stop looking at crap left out on the street and DO SOMETHING. They say that no matter what you do in this life, we all end up in a box. Not true. Only the good ones end up in a box. They leave their legacy behind them for everyone to enjoy long after they've gone. The rest of us end up in two boxes and one of them is full of crap and gets dumped in the street. I really can't be two boxes. And I thank my best friend for teaching me that.  

Friday, 10 April 2015

Do Not Read This.

Something changed the day I saw my beloved dog eating the contents of a discarded nappy. I saw her happily eating something on the ground and assumed she had found some bread or something. As I got closer, I saw it was a full nappy and... I dunno. Jerk became slightly less magical that day. You'd think looking at the most disgusting and sad thing you'd ever seen would be bad but you'd be wrong. It was amazing. Amazing because that was it. I've seen the most disgusting and sad thing that I will ever see. I've got it over with. All the bad and sad things I see from now on won't quite seem so tragic when I remind myself of that sunny summer morning when my dog ate a whole nappy full of human faeces. And the great thing about seeing the most disgusting and sad thing that I will ever see is that if I'm looking at it, then it isn't me. Yes, yes, yes. I could look in a mirror and think that I was the most disgusting and sad thing that I will ever see but I wasn't looking in a mirror. I was looking at my dog. Eating shit.

I always think of that day when the weather starts to get nicer again. The sun comes out, I go out without a coat, put on my sunglasses and just think about that awful, awful day. I also think about my psoriasis. The sun helps my psoriasis clear up. Also, because I like wearing t-shirts in the sunshine, I want my psoriasis to clear up quickly to stop people thinking I've clearly just risen from the dead. So, at the first sign of good weather I get all my anti-psoriasis ointments and creams out and vow to apply them to my skin every day. This normally last for about a week. My psoriasis is pretty horrible to look at but it's nowhere near as bad as seeing your dog eat poo so I just give up after a while and learn to live with my lumps and flakes. 

The thing is, after about 3 days of putting on lotions, the psoriasis gets incredibly dry and sort of flattens itself. You can then peel it off bit by bit. It's very, very addictive and disgusting. But that's not the fun part. The fun part comes on day 4. Because now my psoriasis isn't flakes anymore. It's dust. Even if I just lightly rub my psoriasis riddled elbow a little bit, it's like slamming two chalk dusters together. Just a massive white cloud of dust. Basically, it's the dust of my corpse.

And I love it. On day 4, I can't leave myself alone. Rubbing at my psoriasis and watching it float away like I was grating the very finest of fine Parmesan. Even if I'm in public, I'll give myself a quick rub and watch the floaty cloud of death appear.

Yesterday was day 4 and it was a beautiful day. I was meeting friends in Greenwich and, as it was so lovely, I decided to walk. Greenwich looked perfect in the sunshine and, while walking through the park there, it felt good to be alive. The sun in the sky, the birds singing merrily, the grass bright green and lush. All this ruined only by me walking around leaving a floating trail of my own dead skin behind me. 

But it is SO ADDICTIVE. You must have picked a scab before? There's a real sense of I HAVE TO DO THIS about it so imagine that feeling multiplied by a thousand. It feels so good. I don't even need to pick at it. Just a quick rub and I leave death floating behind me. And I can do it in public. I can do it in a public park on a sunny day in front of everyone because, as horrible as it is, it is nothing compared to seeing the thing you love the most in the world eating shit and licking her lips. I have seen the most disgusting and sad thing that I will ever see and therefore it doesn't bother me in the slightest that I am leaving tiny flakes of my own dead skin to fly off my body and float away behind me as I walk. 

Unless there was someone behind me. I wouldn't like that. I wouldn't like that at all. No, because if someone was behind me then they'd have a load of my dead skin landing on them. My dead skin on their clothes or hair or face. Why hadn't I thought of that before? I was too busy enjoying the freedom that the sight of a dog eating shit gave me to think about anyone else. I mean... If someone was behind me while I was basically flinging my dead skin over my shoulder... well, that would be revolting. So I looked round. And that's when I saw him.

A little boy. Looking disgusted and sad. Yet still licking his ice cream cone. 

Jerk, you're off the hook.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Gimme Shelter.

The great thing about living in London is that everyone thinks you're a dick and won't speak to you. I don't know how people can bear living in the barbaric "outside London" where people confuse respect and friendliness with talking. "I hate London", they say like you're in anyway interested. "No one talks to you on the tube". Take a look around, mate. These are commuters on a tube train. Angry, angry London commuters forced to be sardined together and read the Metro. Who here do you really want to talk to?

I traveled back home on the tube on Friday. The downside of travelling by tube is that you're unaware of the weather, so as my journey went on and I saw more and more soaking wet passengers get on, I started to regret not bringing an umbrella. Not that I ever bring an umbrella. That's one thing you can be sure of about me. I will never have an umbrella. Also, I will always regret not having an umbrella. 

A man sitting in front of me looked at me and raised his eyebrows twice quickly. That's fine. He's clearly not from London and doesn't understand that eyebrow cheekiness is just as illegal here as talking. It's still a form of communication. A few seconds later, I looked over and he did it again. Great. As always, the tube nutter is attracted to me. Why must I always be the most beautiful thing on the underground? A few more seconds pass and he raises his eyebrows twice quickly at me again, this time adding a nod. Well, I now have no choice. I'm going to have to punch him. He has broken all laws of the tube. He has taken an interest in something and that is not allowed. A good punch to the throat will let him know that he is in London now. His nod started to get a bit more... noddy. His eyebrows were frantically bouncing and his nod was insistent. He was actually using his nod to point. At my shoes. 

You know when two old Volkswagen Beetle drivers pass each other they toot their horn or flash their lights at one another as a sign of respect because they're in the same club? Well, he was doing that with shoes. We were both wearing the same Converse shoes. 

That's not the same thing at all, is it? Old Beetles are probably quite hard to come by these days, I imagine. Mass produced popular shoes, less so. It's not like we were going to get into a deep conversation about whether or not we still have the original laces or did we have to go on eBay and try to find the exact insoles from a spare parts shoe expert. I smiled at him though. If he leaves London thinking it was amazing because he saw a man wearing the same shoes as him, then let him have his fun. I hope that will be of some comfort to him on his deathbed. As he got up to leave, he curled out an almighty turd onto the London Tube Rule Book and spoke to me. "Goodbye", he said.

Yeah, idiot. Goodbye. Fucking stupid idiot.

As he got off the train I saw him taking an umbrella out of his bag.

Why didn't I bring an umbrella? I'm an idiot.

I never bring an umbrella. I don't know why I never bring an umbrella but I never, ever bring an umbrella. Maybe it's because I'm just not that uptight about a bit of rain. Maybe I just don't care about anything. Mavericks never care. Maybe it's because I don't actually have an umbrella. There are more and more soaking wet passengers on the tube now. I really wish I had an umbrella.

A man and woman get on and sit near me. The man sits right beside me, the woman sits facing him. They are a couple. I can tell because they are arguing, but at least they're arguing quietly. They both have umbrellas. That's also not a good sign. If they were happy, they'd have one umbrella. Yes, they'd both get a bit wet and look all sexy but at least they'd have each other and who cares about anything if you have that? Is it still raining, I hadn't noticed... etc. 

"I don't want to talk about it", he said in his London accent. See? Londoners get it. You're on the tube: no talking! "I'm not being unreasonable", she replied in her northern accent.

Ah, well. They NEVER understand the tube, do they? This is the London Underground where every carriage is the Quiet Carriage but still their argument whispered on. To be fair, I couldn't really hear what they were arguing about but their faces said everything. She looked tired, he looked furious. I heard lots of "I don't care" and "You don't listen" from him but I couldn't hear her at all and that's fine by me. Like I said, they were breaking the rules but at least they were doing it quietly. Until... he said "shut up". Not loudly. Just louder than before. Clearer. Nastier. "Shut up". 

She responded but every time she spoke he got louder. "Just shut up", he kept saying. People around us felt uncomfortable, she looked mortified. "Stupid bitch", he said loud and clear and everyone around looked at him. I was one of them. "Got a problem?", said the 40 year old teenager. And that's when I broke my own rule: I spoke to someone on the tube.

I thought about northerners. Talking in a friendly, cheery tone. Warm. I replied quietly and with a little laugh, thinking that would help (also, I was a bit scared). "I'm sitting next to a man who just said 'Stupid bitch' on the tube".

He ignored me and the couple went back to arguing. Her quietly, him getting louder all the time. Everyone around us feeling very uncomfortable. He must have said "Stupid bitch" another 6 times before getting his phone and earphones out. That was it. The man had spoken: You're a stupid bitch, the argument is over and now I'm going to listen to Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds. I don't quite know what happened next but clearly, after speaking to that horrible man on the tube, I'd got a taste for it. I started talking to the woman. "Bloody Londoners", I said to her. "Always so unfriendly".

Turns out she was from Halifax, which is nice because I've got friends there and I've been a few times so we chatted about that and her work and why she moved to London. It was a nice chat. It was a very nice chat because she was friendly and I could feel him getting angrier. It was a very brief chat though as the tube arrived at her stop and she got up to leave. He stayed seated. "You coming?", she said to him. "I'm going home", he replied". She said goodbye to me and left. 

The horrible man and I sat there for two more stops. Sitting silently and uncomfortably, like all good Londoners. Then, once again, he broke the rules. "You don't know what she's like", he said. Again, I was northern friendly and northern cheery in my tone (because I was still a bit scared). "I know I don't know her", I said. "But I know a bit about you. You're a bloke that calls his girlfriend a stupid bitch in public". He leaned into my face and invited me to go fuck myself. And then he got up and left.

I understand the barbarians of "outside London" a bit more now. We don't like talking to each other in public places in London but maybe the "outside London" weirdos don't like it either. Maybe they've just figured out that if we're all a bit friendlier then it's much harder for people to be horrible. Being horrible in London is easy. It's normal. But being horrible in front of people who are friendly, warm and welcoming? That's tough. And look where our commuter isolation gets us: being told to go fuck yourself by a man who considers his girlfriend a stupid bitch.

Oh, look. He's forgotten his umbrella.

Monday, 16 March 2015

I Think It's All Over - The Red Nose Diaries.

I'm football crazy, I'm football mad. And the football it has robbed me of the wee bit of sense I had.

It's not the actual watching of a football match every day for six weeks that has driven me insane, although it should have. I started on the 31st January with Chelsea vsManchester City and I have been bored out of my tiny mind every single daysince with Tottenham vs Arsenal, Newcastle vs Stoke... Everton vs Leicester,for fuck's sake! I even watched the 1982 World Cup final in the hope that Icould enjoy footsie nostalgically. But no. I have tried. Really hard. I havefailed. Even harder. The only time that I can say that I honestly enjoyedfootball was when I went to a match with Phat Paul and Dylan and they actuallytalked to me about football. They explained it to me. I started to pick a fewthings up, understand it a bit more. What has driven me mad more than anything is that football fans just don't want to talk about football. Paul and Dylan to one side, nearly every footsie fan I've spoken to just doesn't want to talk about the very thing that they seem to live for. 

I've got footsie loving friends who find my new interest creepy. I've spoken to complete strangers in pubs, barmen and cab drivers, who were all wearing football memorabilia, and none would engage in the simplest of footsie banter. I even talked to some men watching footsie in a hotel bar but they blanked me. In fact, they even asked me to keep the noise down when I started shouting support at the TV. I thought you were supposed to do that. It was like I was too late to talk sport. I had my chance when I was a boy to like football and I turned my back on it. I can't just decide at the age of 46 to want to be a part of it. Thank you for your interest but football just isn't taking on any new fans at the moment.

All my life, I thought that I didn't want football. How wrong I was. It was always football that didn't want me.

Six weeks. Six whole weeks and football just hasn't taken me under it's wing. Has this been worth it? Yes, I've raised nearly £1,700 for charity but two years ago I raised over £2,500 by getting drunk and falling asleep. More people accepted me doing that than spending a huge amount of time devoted to football. Plus I wrote to so many teams to see if they could help. Chelsea, Man Utd, Arsenal, Spurs, QPR... Did I get a reply? Not one. Then, just a few days ago, Brentford FC got in contact.

Brentford Football Club, currently riding high in the Championship League, invited me to their club. This was amazing. I would be going to a proper professional football ground on my LAST DAY of my Comic Relief challenge. A pretty good way to round it all off. But... Then it got better. I would be given a tour of the ground itself, I would be part of a training session on the pitch, I would meet the team players AND I would be offered ice cream and jelly at half time because on the 14th March 2015... I became a child mascot.

You must have seen it before. Right at the start of the match, the team players walk out. Each of these manly athletes hand in hand with a small boy who is beaming with pride because he was chosen by that player to be the team's child mascot. And now it was my turn. I guess it's just every middle aged man's dream, really. You grow up watching child mascots on TV and you think to yourself "One day...". But you never really imagine it happening. Putting on that kit, feeling the legendary turf under your boots and grabbing the hand of a man who definitely doesn't want to hold your hand. 

And that's where I found myself that day. Wearing a slightly too big for me Brentford FC costume and having people who actually work in football talk to me and welcome me into their world. As a child. Of course, when it came to actually kicking a ball around, none of the other child mascots would play with me. Children can be horrible and mean to 46 year old men in shorts, which is, of course, a good thing. So, Amber, a player from Brentford Women's team kicked the ball around with me. She was really nice. I kept expecting her to laugh at me being a child mascot but she never did. In fact, no one did. Not Amber, not the other child mascots and not the thousands of footsie fans there. And while kicking that ball around with Amber, it finally dawned on me: they all assume I'm dying.

As I stood outside the dressing room waiting for the players to come out in full costume, I got excited. The match was about to start and I would walk out onto the pitch as the child mascot of Stuart Dallas, Brentford's winger/mid-fielding ace, and I'd be in front of thousands. As we walked together towards Cardiff City's players, Stuart said I had to shake the opposing team players' hands. "They'll probably think you're in the team", he joked.

"God", I said. "That's what you say to all the kids, isn't it?"


I shook Cardiff City's hand, posed for photos on the pitch and heard the roar of the crowd. Amazing. A brilliant, brilliant way to end it all. I took my seat for the match and felt proud that a nice amount of money had been raised but prouder still that I was now a Junior Bee. It only took 46 years but I was now a child mascot. 

Brentford lost 2-1. I didn't say I was a very good child mascot.

Six weeks of watching football matches and, on the last day, I was part of it. I was. WAS. But I think it's all over. It is now. Saturday night was a come down. Travelling from a gig late at night. Alone. I think I just imagined the end of six weeks to be more celebratory. I feel like I really reached out to footsie and, as good as the day with Brentford had been, I still felt that it could have reached out me more. All those teams I wrote to... They didn't want me. The real football fans I spoke to didn't want me either. Even my fellow child mascots wouldn't kick a ball around with me. I gave football six weeks and, in the end, nothing really changed. Then, about 11:30 at night, my phone beeped. I had an update on Twitter. It was this...

I am accepted. Sniff...

If you haven't donated to my Comic Relief campaign then please give what you can here: And please, can we have a massive round of applause for Neal Peters, Christian Talbot and everyone at Brentford FC who were so kind in giving up their time and allowing this daft thing to happen. Especially Neal. Now, please enjoy these photos. 

Thursday, 12 February 2015

I'm Out - The Red Nose Diaries.

When former comedian Mark Watson suggested I get into football for Comic Relief, I knew there and then that at some point I would have to actually go to a football match. I'd have to get on a train full of large drunk men wearing the same t-shirts all shouting and, for some insane reason, actually singing together in public and then some other large drunk men, who are also in matching casualwear, start singing a different song that isn't to the first large drunk men's taste and so they have to rest their voices and have a fight. Then the train doors open and we get spewed out of the train and swarmed into a hugely sponsored stadium (or cunt holder, as they are known) and I find myself in the middle of an ocean of screaming bastards who spend 90 minutes threatening, punching and setting fire to anyone and anything that isn't exactly the same as them. I'd have to go to watch Chelsea and stand in Chelsea's cunt holder with all their held cunts knowing that if they don't kill me then I will just die of fear. When I took the challenge, I knew that this is what I must do. I am many things but a coward is not one of them. That's why I went to my first ever football match last night. Yeah, that's right. I went to an anti-homophobia friendly match with a child.


Dylan and I didn't have the best start when we first met. My very good friend Phat Paul met Dylan in a maternity theatre about 8 years ago and, as soon as they met, Phat Paul seemed to just want to hang out with Dylan more than me. Phattie and I met in the queue for The Comedy Store Players in 1989 and the next day we were living together. That's pretty special, you must admit? But pretty much the same thing happened when he met Dylan so clearly Phat Paul is a very fickle and heartless man. I remember going round to their flat once and Dylan was just lying there on the sofa all asleep and Phat Paul just stared at him. After a while, he picked Dylan up and carried him to bed. I was so hurt. He hadn't picked me up and put me to bed in years. As time went by, nearly all my paintings were taken off Phat Paul's fridge and replaced by Dylan's that, fuck it I can say this now, weren't all that. They just weren't. They went on holiday together, he introduced Dylan to his Mum and pretty soon Phat Paul was sorting out this guy's education. Something he never did for me. So it's his fault I'm an idiot. Anyway, I was about to meet Dylan and, as there was quite a bit of bad blood between us, he had better be ready to win me over.

He turned up (LATE, may I add) with four packs of Match Attax trading cards and gave two to me. OK, I admit it. That was a classy move on his part. While Phat Paul went to get drinks, Dylan and I looked through our new cards to see if we had any doubles to swap (He had brought his large pile of swapsies with him) and indeed our friendship was cemented over him swapping me his Ryan Giggs (I've heard of him!) for my Man Utd emblem (which he immediately booed once he got it). The best part of this new union was that Dylan had now agreed to explain the rules of footsie to me.

It was Dulwich Hamlet versus Stonewall FC at the Superstore Stadium, and that is really what it's called, in an anti-homophobia friendy match. Dylan is a Dulwich supporter so, as we were all getting on, I had to also support Dulwich. This is my first match and it instantly made me anti-gay. The system works. We stood behind Stonewall's net with the rest of the Dulwich fans, The Rabble. I expected a fair bit of chanting, it's footsie after all, but I didn't expect this. It all seemed like an indie disco. Men and women singing chants to the tunes of not particularly popular John Peel tracks from the 80's. My favourite was the one sung to the tune of Gangsters by The Specials: " Why do you support Dulwich Hamlet? 'Cos we’re proud to follow you away. Said you’ve been threatened by Tooting. But we blew, blew them away. Da-da-da-da. Dada-dada-da-da-da". To be honest, I always assumed that footsie chants were supposed to be aggressive and, at the very least, belittling. The Rabble's chants were just surreal: "We are the famous Dulwich Hamlet and we look like Tuscany. TUSCANY! TUSCANY!!".

I think that was the best part. It was just idiots happily being idiots while a match went on. And the match was pretty good (I think. I'm still not sure). Dylan explained what a defender, a striker and a centre forward was and I think I understood. He even explained the offside rule to me and I'm pretty sure I got that too. The game ended in a result that football itself would be proud of with the (completely presumably) straight team beating the gay team 4-0. 

We went back to the club bar and played Match Attax. And it made me think, why isn't football like this? Smaller, friendly and surely better. Everyone in the bar talked about the match and just hung out and everything was relaxed and nice. I don't know if you've seen the news today but there isn't a single report of the violence at that match anywhere. And the bar does a series of guest ales. Look, that's not my thing but I just didn't expect a football club bar to have guest ales and friendly staff and no fighting. AND THEY ALLOW DOGS IN! It's lovely. There's no way Chelsea's stadium is this nice. And an anti-homophobia friendly match too! Would that happen at Chelsea? Or any of the major clubs? Has it happened? If not, why not? If the answer is the one I fear, then surely that's a better reason to do it. Imagine that? A stadium with people more interested in actual football than hate. It's a thought. Maybe the big clubs just aren't as brave as Dulwich and Stonewall. Maybe it's just big football that's utter crap because little football is great.

Of course, that doesn't help Dylan and me. Yes, he was very friendly when he first arrived (LATE, may I add) and he was very kind in being the first person to actually explain some things about football to me but Phat Paul used to be MY friend not someone else's. Never anyone else's. And it's hard to just forgive someone for stealing something that belongs to you. But I am more mature than Dylan so I accepted his offer of playing Match Attax. 

It's basically Top Trumps. All cards have high scoring categories and low scoring categories and as a result the game lasts for hours and no one ever wins. But I wasn't going to just give up. I had to show Dylan that by accepting his Match Attax challenge I was every bit the man he was. Phat Paul refused to play and he looked bored but really it was Dylan I was trying to impress. Surely if I beat Dylan then he will see that I'm best and therefore Phat Paul will too. Of course, Dylan is about 38 years younger than me and it did cross my mind to lose on purpose so that he would win and he could feel good about himself but how patronising is that? Phat Paul would see through my ploy in a second and I would lose what respect he had for me. No. I had to beat him. I had to beat Dylan.


The game was going on so long that we decided to just use just 5 cards each and see if that sped things up. It didn't. He would win one of my cards, then I would win one of his. Time and time again. Until suddenly, I hit a streak. I couldn't believe it. In 5 straight goes I won each of his cards and was declared the winner. It was my first go at playing Match Attax and even Dylan had to admit that I was the greatest footballer of all time, mainly because I wouldn't shut up until he did. 

We said goodbye and I walked off to get my bus. I had a huge grin on my face because, mainly, I had beaten Dylan at Match Attax but also because my first experience of football was genuinely great. The match was great, everyone was friendly and Dylan taught me some football rules. Then I thought about our game of Match Attax. How come his last 5 cards all had low scores? Surely there had to be higher scoring categories to choose from? Why did he choose the low ones? Hmmm...

I have to be nicer to that guy.

Dylan explaining the offside rule to me using Match Attax cards.


Also, please donate anything you can to Comic Relief here:

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Men United - The Red Nose Diaries.

Kick. Kick. Kick. Pass. Kick. Run a bit. Pass. Kick. Miss the net.

This is my life now. Watching footballers run and pass and kick and do almost nothing. This is what footsie fans never tell you. They never let you know how boring the game is, how little happens. It's like waiting for a bus. A bus with no doors so you can't get in. A bus that takes forever to come and once it does it stops beside you for 30 seconds and then drives away. Leaving you to wait. Again. Forever. 

But it must mean something, right? All my life, people have been outraged and sickened by my total lack of interest in footsie and become almost threatening in their keen encouragement to get me involved in it. Now that I'm finally interested, it's become a total closed shop. No one will tell me the rules. No one will tell me why they love footsie. No one will talk about it. Am I too late? Is there a cut-off age for being into footsie? Should I have supported Engerland in the 90's? Should I have played for my school team? Should I have twirled a football rattle in the womb? Look, I'm here now. Please let me into your rubbish, boring club.

Then I had an idea...

If I'm going to learn about football then I need to go to a pub on match day. There'll be some guys there. I can say "Hi!", they'll welcome me to their table and we can just chillax and rap about the game. These chaps will know. They'll see a fellow gent and they'll point out the whys and whats of footsie over a delicious flagon of the barkeep's finest ale. OR TEN! HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! Seriously, though. It's going to be great.

On Saturday, I walked into the Traveller's Rest pub in the outskirts of Stoke and I immediately shat every pair of pants I've ever owned. It was full... The bar was full. Not full of chaps or guys. There wasn't a gent to be seen. This place was full to the rafters with men. Real men. Huge men. Men with big fisty hands that practically hid their pint of Olde You're Fucking Dead brown ale. Men that wore t-shirts in winter because the huge amount of tattoos they had was coat enough for them, lad. Men that screamed at the TV and whoever was on screen heard and sorted themselves the fuck out. Men who have never once taken their boots off. Men who have only eaten food in pie form. 

Men. Real men.

I have genuinely never been more scared in my life. There was only one seat left in the pub, near a huge group of huger men so I put my satchel down, took out my journal and sat down. It was then that I immediately noticed they weren't killing me. 

So far, so good. Liverpool were passing and kicking and doing fuck all else with Everton, and me and The League of Giants sat and watched. Ten minutes later, a deep ominous voice said "It's bollocks, isn't it?".

The voice came from behind me and, although I couldn't see the man, I knew he was talking to me. And he was right. It is bollocks. I shouldn't be here. I'm a third of the size of any other man in this pub. I'm watching a game that I can't understand. Football. THEIR football. What the hell was I thinking, coming into their headquarters and watching their football? It's bollocks, isn't it?

I turned round and pretended not to hear him. "Sorry, mate?", I said.

"It's a derby match", he said. "Well, it's supposed to be. They're not even trying".

Right. This very large man has spoken to me and the thing he's said makes no sense but I can't let him know that I don't understand and I am frightened otherwise he will punch my heart out and kick seven shades of grey out of my ghost. I gulped and said that Liverpool didn't seem into it on Wednesday either. They played Bolton and it wasn't much of a match but at least they won.

"Yeah", he said.

FUCKING HELL. Reader, you must completely understand one thing: I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I MEANT. How the hell would I know if Liverpool were playing well or not? I know they won but to me that was just a coincidence. Who cares though? I've got away with it. A real man talked to me about football and I talked back. I finally have pubes. 

He asked if I was a Liverpool fan and, GET READY FOR THIS, I said "No. Don't get upset, just pity me, I support Charlton". He laughed and said someone had to. BRILLIANT! I did the footsie joke of being embarrassed about my team and he did the other footsie joke about someone having to support them. I've only met him and already we've done every football joke ever. This is going great. He even introduced me to the rest of his friends. Well, he pointed at them and grunted and they grunted at me. I asked them who they supported and they all said City, which could mean anything, quite frankly. They may as well have said Club. But, that's not important. What's important is that I'm in a terrifying bar with terrifying men and we're getting on. Drinking beer. Watching footsie. Being men. It was great. I even told them that I knew nothing about football and was only watching because of Comic Relief.

Luckily, someone helped the atmosphere by scratching a record player needle across an L.P. just as all the large men turned to stare at me. A huge and well-funded exhibition of swearing opened in front of me as I tried to explain to my new buddies that I was really trying to like football and, you know, if they could maybe hold the "FUUUUUUUUUCK OFF"'s for just a minny-mo then maybe they could help me out. No one else wanted to. Maybe they would be the ones to tell me all I need to know? More shouting happened and I said "Like, for instance, I don't know what a derby match is..."

"Derby Matches?", said one chap. "Derby fucking matches are the fucking best. The fucking best, mate. More fights than at any other match".

Yep. I was back to being scared. They mocked loudly and violently for a while longer until one of my new gang saw my copy of the footsie fanzine When Saturday Comes. "Is this where you're learning the rules from?", he said before taking it away from me. I was now too uncomfortable to say anything else. 

None of them could understand at all how someone could get to 46 and not know how to play football. They didn't know how you couldn't love football. How was football not the most important thing in my life, you twat? I needed to leave. This was uncomfortable... way too uncomfortable... And I needed to go. Then the man with my magazine, flicked through the pages, pointed to a photo and said "Oh. I like him."

It was a photo of Josh Widdecombe. He had written an article in the magazine. 

"He's in The Last Leg. Funny bastard", the man said and his co-henchmen agreed.

"I know him", I said.

It took 5 minutes of me convincing them and 5 minutes of them repeatedly saying "FUUUUUUUUCK OFF" but I was back in the gang. Good old Josh. 

We had beer and watched the rest of the first half and that's when the scariest thing happened. It was one thing to be sitting with these men watching football but what are they going to be like when football isn't on? Are they going to shout until the footsie come back on? Will the fight? Start throwing chairs around? Set fire to the pub? Force me to get a tattoo? Force me to support City? Force me to be dead?

A beauty product advert featuring Reece Witherspoon came on TV and we spent the next 15 minutes talking about Legally Blonde. I never saw that coming.

As the second half began, I decided to sneak off. I think I'd done well. I'd watched 45 whole minutes of footsie with a pack of bears who didn't eat me so why take any more chances. Just as I got up, one man grabbed me and I got my first bit of advice on the game of football. His scary eyes looked into mine and he said, "Be careful, mate. If you get into this game... It will ruin your life".

And with that, I was gone. They didn't kill me but they didn't really explain anything about football to me either, apart from how weekly disappointment will depress you (like I don't know that), so I left them to shout at the TV without me. Also, I wouldn't belong to any massive group of scary bastards that would have me as a member.

The thing is, I really need to learn a bit more about footsie before tonight because I'm going to my very first ever live match. Luckily, I'm going with my friend's son who has promised to fully explain football to me. That's right, I'm being taught by a child. Oh, and I don't know what your first match was. City vs United? Rovers vs Wanderers? Well, this is my first one...


Also, please donate anything you can to Comic Relief here:

Friday, 6 February 2015

Let's Put I In Team - The Red Nose Diaries.

On Wednesday when my Dad and I sat together in a hairdresser's, drinking white wine and watching Liverpool vs Bolton Wanderers, I couldn't help thinking that I was going about this all the wrong way. This was my 4th football match in 5 days and I still wasn't into it. But at least I knew why. I don't know anything about football. I mean I literally have no idea what they're doing at all at any stage. I don't know why they change sides in the second half, I don't know why they're all called different things (midfielder. Striker. Bowler) when they all clearly do exactly the same thing and I will never know why they walk on to the pitch holding the hand of a small boy. Is anyone ever going to say anything about that? 

Not only do I know nothing about the game but neither does the company I keep: My Dad. We just sat there in that hairdresser's, drinking our wine and coming up with ways to make football nicer. We think that tackling would be a lot friendlier if the players had their first name on the front of their shirt. It would certainly be nicer if the players smiled more. And they should all bring a dip each. But Dad and I being great at making footsie nicer doesn't get us closer to knowing anything more about it. Luckily, help is at hand.

This week I'll be discussing footsie with footsie fans, I'll be going to a match with footsie fans and, most terrifying of all, I'll be getting a lesson in actually playing footsie. I should know a bit more about it after all that. To get me started though, former comedian Ian Stone has suggested I pick a team to support. That way, I'll get more out of the experience. If I invest an interest in a team that I actually want to win, then there's more of a reason to keep watching. Great. That's good advice and I can do that easily. I live in Lewisham so it seems only right to support them.

Well, Lewisham have let me down already, just like your team should do. They let me down by not existing so I've decided to go for one of the nearest two clubs: Crystal Palace or Charlton Athletic. But I've also decided that the choice should be completely up to them. Whichever team donates the most money to my Comic Relief campaign, then I will become their loyal supporter. I mean I will be a brilliant supporter. They will not regret having me on board. So, am I a Palace fan or a Charlton supporter? The choice is theirs.

And this is where I need your help. So far, neither team has tried wooing me by donating a single penny to the appeal. Why not write to their Facebook pages or their Twitter accounts letting them know they have a lifelong fan waiting for their interest. I'm not just going to support some team at random. They have to WANT me. So let's let them know. Let's let them know a lot that I am here and I am ready to support them. For a fee. 

Go on, everyone. Let's see which team are Legge men. Drop them a line. Now.

Crystal Palace on Facebook: and on Twitter:
Charlton Athletic on Facebook: and on Twitter:

And here's my donation page:

Thanks, guys. You are my favourite team.