Sunday, 10 December 2017

Spoilt Rotten.

Two phrases keep running through my mind: "Have a treat, mate" and "You're not allowed that".

I've had a lot of thinking time lately due to having a bit of a dicky tummy. I do all my best thinking on the toilet and I've been thinking about those two sentences on and off for about a week. "You're not allowed that" is something I hear a lot. It's a reaction to being vegan. People will tell me that something milky or lamby or murdery is delicious and then follow it up with "You're not allowed that but it is nice". 

"You're not allowed that". I don't want to be allowed that. I think it's weird that anyone is allowed that. That shouldn't be allowed. But it is allowed and I don't want it. "You're allowed that" just isn't the right phrase. It sounds like I've been banned rather than made a choice. And it happens so often. "My mum cooks the best Christmas turkey with penguin and sea horse stuffing. It's SO delicious. *awkward look* But you're not allowed that". 

People who kill people probably act the same way in front of their non-murderer friends. "I picked up some hitchhikers and attacked them with a hatchet and now I keep them in 6 suitcases in a Big Yellow Self Storage locker in Crewe. *awkward look* But you're not allowed that".

Thing is, I am allowed that. I just have to be prepared to go to jail forever, stomach killing people before cutting up their bodies and then talking to the fucking gormless arseholes who work at Big Yellow Self Storage in Crewe. Again, I have no interest in being allowed that.

A stupid thought, and one I wouldn't have had if I didn't have this upset stomach that kept me on the toilet so much. But "Have a treat, mate" is the one I've been thinking about most. 

Comedian Andrew Bird asked me how giving up booze was going. He saw me drinking an alcohol-free beer and his face fell sad. I told him that it really didn't taste that bad. I don't like lying to people but I thought it was the right thing to do at that moment. It tastes disgusting, of course. It was so nice of the club to get an alcohol-free rider in for me and I was genuinely touched by the thought but I can't kid myself. It tastes truly awful. Like your favourite drink has committed suicide and you're drinking the tears of its grieving children. It's the taste of a lost generation.

Andrew and I both agreed that booze was great and that's when he asked "What do you have for a treat, then?"

I was stumped. I don't think I have a treat anymore. 

"What do you have when you come home after a gig now?", he asked.

I don't know. Nothing. I have nothing.

I used to have a beer maybe. That's gone. Sometimes a bottle of wine. I'd come home and cuddle Jerk. I don't think I have a treat anymore. 

Andrew said goodbye and, just as he walked out of the dressing room, he said "Have a treat, mate". He was right. I should. I deserve a treat. But what have I got?

And as I took another swig of Carling Remembrance 0.0%, I realised: ugh, alcohol-free beer IS my treat. This bottle of stale empty is all I have to look forward to. That is my treat. Something I hate. Something that tastes disgusting. Something that looks weird. Something that makes everyone question every single thing about me. That is my treat. 

Despite my guts still being a bit... gymnastic, I decided to meet up with friends the other night for our annual Christmas drinks. I thought about what Andrew said. "What do you have when you come home? Have a treat, mate". So I prepared for coming home by going to Sainsbury's and buying a 4 pack of alcohol-free lager. That'll be nice when I get home. I mean, it won't be NICE but it'll be something. This isn't a sad or shameful thing. No. It's a treat. A lovely treat. I am treating myself to some alcohol-free lager when I get home. I beeped the joyless bottles over the self-checkout till and the only voice that had said anything to me that day said "Approval needed"

That's right. You need approval to buy alcohol-free beer. Honestly, how can anyone approve of you when you buy that?

For one of the very few times in my life, I had to show ID. It's clear just by looking at me that I'm over 18. That sentence also works if you take out the number 18. I am very not under 18. But they didn't want to see my date of birth, they just wanted to know the name of the cunt who's only treat is coming home to an alcohol-free beer. Well fuck you, Sainsbury's. I'm having a treat, mate. I'm allowed this.

The bar we went to had TWO different alcohol-free beers. What a choice! All my friends had booze. It was "Delicious. But *awkward look* you're not allowed that". Like the beer had shouted "Oi! You're barred" at me. I decided to not have booze, booze didn't decide to not have me. Have a treat, mate. Have an alcohol-free beer.

I had 10 of them. That's more alcohol-free beer than anyone has ever drunk ever in one night. Why? I'll tell you why: Have a treat, mate. I had a treat. The only treat that I'm "allowed". For the last few weeks I've had about 4 alcohol-free beers a day. I don't care how disgusting they are. 4 alcohol-free beers a day and tonight I'm going to break all records for drinking alcohol-free beer because they're a treat. They're a treat, mate. Have a treat, mate. This is the treat you're allowed, mate. Have a treat, mate. Good for you, mate. Well done, mate. Have a treat, mate. How is it, mate? Have a treat, mate. Is it nice, mate? Can I have a taste, mate? Fucking hell, mate.

That is ALL I HAVE. Being out with my friends and getting drunk was all a beautiful dream I had in the past and the past is over and now all I have is alcohol-free beer. And they can't take that away from me despite Sainsbury's best efforts. And tonight I'm going to break my own record by going all the way up to 11 because when I get home I'm going to have ANOTHER alcohol-free beer. I'm having a treat, mate.

My stomach was punchy the whole way back and I just made it home in time to get to the toilet before all brown hell broke loose. It was wretched and traumatic. But still, this will soon be over and I'll put the telly on, put my feet up and I'll have a treat, mate. My only treat. The only thing I've actually got left.

It became clear that I'd be on the toilet for a bit longer than expected and I decided I'd had enough of my stomach and its constant problems. I decided to Google tummy troubles. I sat there on the loo and I Googled so much about diarrhoea. 20 minutes Googling info on diarrhoea. I now know so much about diarrhoea. Too much.

Alcohol-free beer gives you diarrhoea.

Have a treat, mate? I'm not allowed that.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Ill Communication.

What makes us happy?

People pretend it’s things like love or friendship or God. Those three things that no one has any proof exists. But really, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone happier as when their phone is 100% charged. Leaving the house when you know your phone is fully charged brings such peaceful contentment and joy. It’s the feeling of Christmas, or it would be if we didn’t know that the feeling of Christmas is claustrophobia and anthrax.

Days are ruined immediately by our phones. We wake up and the first thing we all do is look at our phones to see if we matter. We don’t. We never do. And yet it was the first thing we did today, and it’ll be the first thing we do tomorrow. Remember when masturbating came first? Those were great days, weren’t they? I love the past. Bros, Space Dust, Ceefax and wanking. How did wanking get knocked off its golden pedestal as being the first thing we did every day? We don’t really think that Twitter is better than wanking, do we? Because it definitely isn’t. We wake up, we look at Twitter, we get depressed. And then wanking is all but forgotten about. Imagine all that, but with the added loss of your phone (THAT WAS PLUGGED IN ALL NIGHT) somehow being only at 98%.

That’s the day completely ruined. You grump your way to the shower, you punch your clothes on and you shout the kids to school, worrying all the way to work if your 98% charged phone will make it to the end of your commute before you can get to the office and plug it in again and start to feel normal.

I went to work on Saturday night with a 100% charged phone. I felt happy and confident. My phone is fully charged. I’ve managed to hit the target of the most important thing in all of existence: a fully charged phone. I’m doing a show in Cardiff and the club have put me up in a flat just a one minute walking commute from the venue. This is the phone charging dream. It’s 100% and I’m one minute away so by the time I get there, as its an iPhone, I’ll still have around 45% left if I don’t actually use it, look at it or say its name out loud. I am living the dream.

I get to the venue and my phone stops working. The screen goes completely blank and then switches off. That’s OK. I know what happens when the phone goes a bit loopy. It needs a soft reset. That means holding the home button and the off button at the same time. No problem.


Ah. Yes. That means I’ve got to do a soft reset while the phone is charging. Easy. I’ve got my charger with me. Of course, I do. What fucking psychopath leaves their flat to go somewhere one minute away without bringing a charger? That’s insane. I plug it in and press the home button and the off button at the same time. Nothing, so I do it again. Maybe I’m not pressing hard enough? Nothing. Maybe I’m not pressing for long enough? Nothing. Actually, I think that time I pressed the home button slightly earlier than I did the off button, so I’ll do it again. Nothing.

The fear hits me.

My phone is broken. It’s actually died. My phone has completely died and I’m here without a phone. I AM EXISTING WITHOUT A PHONE. That’s impossible. It’s not allowed. What if someone likes one of my Facebook posts? I’ll never know! And I’ll never find my way back to the flat that I can easily see from the venue’s window and I won’t be able to put a photo of me and the other acts pretending to like each other on Instagram and I won’t know what to think because I haven’t seen what Graham Linehan has thought first and I don’t have a phone and I’m panicking and my phone has died and I. DO. NOT. HAVE. A. PHONE.

And then I realised… I’m off the grid. I’ve stepped off the ride. I’m out. I’ve actually found a way out. I am not a phone number, I am a free man.

I slept so peacefully that night. Of course, I did. I was a human being again. I wasn’t attached to this robot dickhead that keeps abusing me anymore. I woke up very briefly a couple of times, but I was soon off to sleep again because I didn’t immediately fumble for my phone to see what was trending.

The next day, I watched a film on Netflix. Well, I watched it for 15 minutes. For 15 whole minutes I gave that film my full attention. I didn’t just press play and let it run on to the end while I played games and posted hateful comments online because, well, I don’t have a phone. I watched the first 15 tedious minutes of Hacksaw Ridge without interruption from Twitter, Facebook or looking up IMDb to see which of the cast has died since the film came out (a game I play with pretty much every film I watch), which is a shame actually because at least then I’d have seen that the film was directed by an actual lunatic and switched it off earlier. Then I realised the film was shit and I switched it off. But I would never have known that if I’d pressed play and had a working phone anywhere near me.

I read a book. I went for a walk. I wanted to find out what some of my friends were up to, so I met up with them. It was lovely.

If only this had happened earlier. I wouldn’t know who to hate and I wouldn’t know what horrible person had done what horrible thing and I wouldn’t know that a massive bomb had killed every single person in Oxford Street and lots of other things that didn’t happen.

And now my phone is back and working. I’ve switched it on but not really looked at it. I’m not ready to go back. For 2 whole days, Trump wasn’t president, Brexit didn’t exist, and liberals weren’t arguing over the things they all agree with. It was blissful.

So, why don’t you just switch your off mobile phone and go out and do something less boring instead…?

(Ask the hivemind on Facebook or Twitter if you don’t get the reference)

Thursday, 23 November 2017

George Worst.

Today is Day 44.

My 44th day in a row of not drinking alcohol. My 83rd in total. 90th, if you count that week my mum couldn’t find the off licence when she was pregnant.

It’s been a traumatic decision. I set the date to quit booze months ago and I feared its arrival constantly. Four weeks before the big day, I was drinking like a man who was quitting booze in four weeks. But then, I always did. I loved getting drunk. It was magical and charming and I was really good at it. A natural, they said (at a “meeting”). I could get drunk anytime I wanted. Sometimes twice a day. That’s how good I am. And that’s what scared me about quitting. But I had no idea of the darkness ahead of me. I knew it was going to be bad, but I didn’t see any of this coming: Quitting booze was so easy. Like really easy. The easiest thing I’ve ever done. Which means… I’m not an alcoholic.

I'm Michael and I'm not an alcoholic. 

So, what am I? I can’t sing, I’m not knowledgeable, I’m not good at sport and I can’t build anything. I was fucking relying on being a drunk. And I’m not even that. What am I? Tall? No. Short? No. Irish? Well, I’m not typical of being Irish in any way. In fact, apparently I’m not even one of the main stereotypes of being Irish now. I thought being drunk was who I was. That was my thing. It defined me. But I’m not an alcoholic. And knowing that has made me feel antisocial, bleak and lacking in self-belief. But with nice breath.

Of course, coming off booze will always bring some sort of problems and lack of identity isn’t the only one for me, whoever I am. There is always pressure from your peer group and being sober is one of the most pressured. Friends can be so unnaturally supportive, it's sickening. I would NEVER treat them like that. When I’m with friends, they’re all really cool and understanding and fucking supportive which stresses me out TOO MUCH. Great! Now I’ve got to prove that I’m totally OK with being sober even though I am, and they have in no way hinted that I might not be. Bastards. 

So, in company, I sit with a drink in my hand just like them. Just to let them know I’m relaxed. I’m fine. Look: I have a drink in my hand too. It’s all good. Them with their beer and me with my glass of Diet Coke. But still I feel their concern. “That’s the third Diet Coke Michael’s had”, they seem to say without showing it or saying it. “Is he really OK with all this?”

And I am. I don't have to drink Diet Coke! I can drink anything I want. Nearly anything I want. That’s why I’ve recently started showing my friends how cool I am about sobriety by relaxing with them with a refreshing, revolting bottle of alcohol free beer. See? I’m relaxed and I’m drinking a drink that’s a bit like theirs so it’s all good. It’s fine. It’s great. Cheers!

And my friends cheers me back but with suspicion. 

Disgust can’t be hidden when you take a mouthful of alcohol free beer. It’s impossible. It tastes like the ghost of fun. It’s like there’s a suicide pact in my mouth and only me and Mugabe’s favourite improv troupe are invited. It’s horrible and I don’t want to drink another drop but… but just look at my friends’ faces. I’ve told them I’m fine being sober, but they can tell I can’t hack this stuff. I can’t look like I want a proper drink in front of them. “Have another drink of your alcohol free beer”, my friends’ don’t in any way insinuate but I hear loudly. “No one likes the taste at first. You’ll get used to it”.

And I have.

Look, it wasn’t that bad at first. I thought I could handle it. Becks Blue has 0.5% alcohol in it so I’m sure I tasted something that wasn’t just the dust of ancient sick. Lots of alcohol free beer has 0.5% alcohol in it. Some have “Less than 0.5% alcohol” in it but that’s still a bit of booze, isn’t it?

But it wasn’t enough. Or it was too much, it’s hard to tell. My friends wanted me to be fine being sober, I assumed, so I had to go on the real stuff: The completely alcohol-free alcohol-free beer. It’s OK, my friend said. His cousin had a bottle of Cobra Zero at a Foo Fighters gig once. The whole band were doing them. That explained so much but I had a bottle anyway. Oh, god. What had I become? I drank an ENTIRE BOTTLE of Heineken 0.0 that weekend.

I’ve started drinking it at home. I’m up to two bottles a night every four or five nights now. And the shame of it. Oh, God in heaven, help me: the shame. I wake up so clear headed the next day and I walk into the kitchen and I see those two empty bottles lying in the recycling box, those two tiny 330ml alcohol free bastard bottles… and I think back to the night before and, oh God… I can remember every single second of it.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Godot is Prompt.

My day was very busy yesterday, so I set my alarm for 6:30am. Not to make sure I got everything done. No. I knew I’d get everything done in time. What worried me was not getting enough nothing done.

I’m pretty strict when it comes to doing nothing. I’m probably one of the very few people that has deadlines for doing nothing. And it is always a deadline that I cannot ignore. I must have that nothing done or it’s my ass on the nothing line. My day is full, so how am I supposed to cram 3 to 4 hours of nothing in? I’ll tell you how: by pulling your bloody finger out, getting up early and immediately start doing nothing.

I know people who have written books, which probably means they also had to read them (not always the case). Do you know how long it takes to write a book? Have you any idea how much time and effort goes into that? Because I’d like to know. A fact like that would look great in this blog post but, sadly, I couldn’t research it as I had fuck all to do. It’s a great phrase that, isn’t it? “I had fuck all to do”. It’s a much more positive and dynamic phrase than people give it credit for. Let me reword it for you: “Fuck all HAD to be done. It had to. There’s no getting round that. And who do you think stepped up to the challenge? That’s right: I”. But these authors I know don’t just write a bit of a book every day and then just sit there for hours playing Monkey Turnip on their iPhone or staring at the window (not OUT OF the window. That would almost be doing something, so please be careful). No. They raise children and train for marathons and rehearse plays and talk to their local council and fight crime and don’t argue on Twitter and raise awareness and… Jesus, they’re just so busy. When, just WHEN, do they get time to do nothing?

Don’t act like doing nothing isn’t important. It’s vital. I take time out of my inactive day every day to squeeze in hours of nothing. Sometimes hardcore nothing. Not just putting a film on or listening to music, I mean absolutely nothing. Barely moving. Barely thinking. Just sitting on the stairs (walking down the stairs is normally when the fear of real life hits me) and coming to terms with who I am and, most importantly, doing nothing.

I worry about my busy friends with their deadlines and schedules and success and careers. They’re showbizzing themselves into the grave. I, and the entertainment industry, have given myself all the time I need for self-loathing. I’m used to it. I’ve come to terms with it. But what happens to my busy friends who haven’t had the time to realise they’re awful? Will it hit them in later life? Will they start spontaneously screaming at their child’s wedding? Will they burst into tears on The One Show 2039? Will they collect their own sick every day for a month just to throw it at the celebrity audience at the BAFTAs? These are the reasons I’m still friends with them so I do hope so.

One of the busiest people I know is my neighbour Jonny. He is a fucking human rights activist and works for a company that goes around businesses persuading them to be ethical, he is a father to two children and he is constantly organising meetings with Lewisham council to find town planning improvements. I argued with this human rights activist recently when he said he also paints in his “spare time”. How is that spare time? You’re doing something. You’re actively creating, you’re filling that time by making something AND you’re not focussing on how awful you are. That is NOT spare time. Put it this way: Jonny isn’t on Twitter, he has never watched ANYTHING on Netflix and his Monkey Turnip score is H. This man is a ticking timebomb.

I thought about Jonny when I woke up yesterday morning. I’m sure he was getting up at 6:30 too. Probably to jog his children to school or crochet an Amnesty banner. He definitely wasn’t getting up at 6:30 so he could have a few hours doing absolutely nothing at all. He didn’t put Star Trek Discovery on at 7am and not watch it because he was looking at an Instagram story from Olly Murs and then Googled “Olly Murs” to remind himself who Olly Murs was. He didn’t sit there wondering if Donald Trump has ever heard Suede (he must have though, right? He might not know he’s heard Suede but he must have heard them at some point. Anyway, that thought lasted 45 minutes). And he certainly didn’t fart into all 12 microwaves in Monkey Turnip. He got up and he filled his day, making his and other people’s lives better and, therefore, mine worse. Well, don’t say I didn’t warn him.

Jonny and I planned to meet last night. That’s mainly why I was anxious. I’d put all that time aside to do nothing and then later I’d meet up with a lovely man who never had any time due to the constant good work he puts into life. What a bastard. He’s going to make me feel like shit. That’s not fair. I already make myself feel like shit. Oh, he’s got time for that, has he?

There I was, doing absolutely nothing yesterday morning. Important nothing. Nothing that HAD to be done. I had fuck all to do and, by God, I was doing it. And later he’d be telling me how sorry he was for being 5 minutes late because he was busy saving the world.

Yesterday afternoon, Jonny’s wife called to say he’d have to cancel. He’d got hit by a motorbike and broke his arm and cracked some ribs. He’d be in hospital at least until the next day.

All that running around…

Tuesday, 14 November 2017


MOVIE REVIEW: THE PARTY (Dir: Sally Potter, BBC Films, B&W 71 mins)

Sally Potter’s first full length film since 2012’s acclaimed Ginger & Rosa is a monochrome background to an in-colour story of a troubled man sighing his way through a bunch of genuinely awful middle-class people spilling wine while pretending they’ve never heard of Harold Pinter.

The main protagonist’s inner monologue is left to the viewer’s imagination and yet is communicated clearly with his constant head shaking and his backward glances at the cinema patrons to find out where the laughter is coming from and why.

This tale of isolation and confusion carries on until the closing credits but, due to us living in a populist, popcorn-selling, post-Marvel world, the narrative continues with an extra scene featuring the dishevelled and exhausted figure making his way from the cinema to the bus stop, joining other cinema goers in the queue. This is where the story takes a dark and horrific turn.

The bus queue is made of six or seven blank canvas characters put in place to show the value of the anonymous in social situations, a true juxtaposition to the wine-spilling, shrill, Mark Rothko print owning “cunts” observed by the unfortunate, grey-skinned figure throughout the previous 75 minutes. “Mercifully brief”, he texts to a far-away friend before coughing. The distance of the friend is highlighted tragically in the next few minutes as one of the anonymous lifts his compulsory mask and turns to face the queue to reveal himself as the story’s villain. “Were you all just in the cinema just now too?”, he beams at the silent non-faces.

Fear is now the theme of the piece. Has someone actually spoken to us, the masks seem to ask with their mute body language. Unable to understand totally normal practices at a fucking bus stop, the arrogant offender continues: “Good, wasn’t it?”, he says with all the confidence of a man who happily has no idea what the word good means. “It reminded me of Sartre’s Huis Clos”.

The masks remained silent and afraid while this embodiment of evil and ignorance awaits a response that would never come save for the grey-skinned protagonist’s rolling eyes and the truly moving feeling of “Did he actually just use the fucking French title of No Exit? What a fucking cunt. He’s fucking turning round and talking to us and he thinks he’s the only cunt who’s ever heard of fucking Sartre. The cunting cunt cunt”. That feeling is made even more poignant by the masks’ utter refusal to acknowledge the toxic weasel’s wank ejaculating from the villain’s pointless head hole. The agreed upon silence is broken yet again with the villain's agonisingly plummy noise genuinely offering “You know? Hell is other people?”

The protagonist laughs and turns his back on the villain while the masks stay in their plant pots. “Hell is other people”, says the villain again but this time directly to the protagonist. “Hell is other people. Sartre?”

“Mate.”, the protagonist utters his first words of the piece. “No one wants to talk. People just want to go home”

The villain plays his vicious devil card once again: “I’m just trying to be frie…”

“No. You aren’t”, the protagonist is prepared to end the torment for good. “You’re not trying to be friendly. You wouldn’t have started up a conversation with people who clearly didn’t want to talk if you were being friendly. And you wouldn’t have brought up Sartre like that if you were just trying to be friendly. The French title? Jesus. And we just saw the film, so we know what it was like. Pointing out hell is other people after we’ve just seen that film is like us seeing Jaws and you pointing out that it was probably about a shark or something.”

“But…”, says the villain.

“And who the fuck quotes Sartre to a bus queue anyway? I just don’t believe you think that was ‘a bit Sartre’. I think you’ve seen that somewhere, liked it and tried to pass it off as your own just to be popular here. Because who in their right mind would ever come off with something so clearly obvious and try to pass it off as their own?”

The self-referential description of Potter’s black and white (mainly white) segment of the piece is simply the set-up for the protagonist’s killer blow: “And, seriously, who says hell is other people to a bunch of complete strangers waiting for a bus in the cold? Who references Sartre and hell is other people when they clearly don’t understand it?”

Silence is restored but the sound has been replaced with a feeling of utter discomfort from everyone but the deluded protagonist who believes he has made a stand against the smug. He did not buy into the wine-spilling lives of the awful plagiarists and he made it clear that he would not buy into the forced friendliness of the villain. The evil, lying villain who dared talk at a bus stop.

The Party experience then closes with the protagonist alone in bed smiling to himself. He thinks back to the evening past and his victory over unnecessary warmth at a bus stop. Hell is other people indeed, he thinks as he turns out the light.

The darkness is the only truth of the piece. And the protagonist knows this as his inability to sleep proves while the evening replays continuously inside his roomy skull. Hell is other people? Or is it being alone in the dark realising exactly who you are?

One star. 

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

As Soft and Gentle As A Sigh.

I enjoyed myself this summer.

I don’t enjoy myself very often these days. Enjoying yourself is a much younger man’s game. I’m 49 so, these days, on the very rare occasion that I do enjoy myself, I know it’ll take me weeks to recover before I can even think about enjoying myself again. Hard to believe that there was a time I’d enjoy myself every day. Get home from school, run up to my bedroom, close the door, lock it, lock it again, put a chair up against it, put another chair up against that, check the door was locked again and then enjoy myself. Every day. Sometimes more than once.

And that was fine. People don’t mind hearing about young people enjoying themselves. It’s just a bit cheeky when young people do it, isn’t it? A bit of fun. But not when a 49 year old man does it. Then it’s disgusting. A young comedian bounces on to the stage and talks about how he enjoyed himself and then got off the bus and we all laugh at the innocent, adorable little scamp. Then I come on and talk about how I enjoyed myself and I am branded a pervert. “Ugh”, the audience say. “Now we have to think about this lecherous creep stalking himself and grooming himself and… Ugh, I feel sick. He probably sends himself dick pics and hand pics. And the poor guy has to go along with it because he thinks it’ll help his career even though this creep is a nobody, which is probably why we’ve never heard of him. He’s worse than Harvey Weinstein and Stephen Fry, if Stephen Fry has been called out on sexual harassment claims by the time this blog is posted”.

Let me reassure you. That is one of the very main reasons I don’t enjoy myself very often: I’m just not that into me. I don’t want to do THAT to me just as much as you don’t. It’s gross. I mean, it’s not that gross. I don’t ejaculate or anything. I never ejaculate. For a couple of reasons. One: I’m vegan. That semen is an animal product. It isn’t for me. It’s for my babies. Two: like I say, I’m 49. Nothing comes out anymore. I mean, if I really try (and I mean really, really try), my future ghost might puff out, screaming “THE TIME IS NOT YET UPON US” before sucking itself back into my penis. Or if I really, really try (and I mean really, really, REALLY try), a couple of teeth might pop out. But that’s it. So, stop judging me.

Anyway, it was a lovely sunny day, so I went up to my bedroom to prepare enjoying myself. I walked over to the bedroom window and opened it. Not that that’s a part of my enjoying myself ritual. It isn’t. It’s not like I open the window and shout “You, boy! What day is it?”, hitting an urchin in the eye with my stuff just as he says, “Christmas again, by the looks of it”. No. I opened the window a bit because it was a hot summer’s day. I closed the curtains! I’m not weird. Well, I closed them almost all the way, leaving just a tiny gap to let some air in. I didn’t want the people I fantasise about to feel stuffy. And before you start feeling sick again, I was joking. I never fantasise. I just lie there completely still not thinking of a single thing until the whole sorry mess (tiny mess) is over.

I used to fantasise. I used to do it all the time but now, at the age of 49, I’m so me that I can’t stop being me. Even in fantasies. Like I could start fantasising about being in a jacuzzi with Lulu and it would start OK. She’d say, “You like this, don’t you, Michael?” and I’d say “Yeah, Lulu. I do”. And she’d say “Yeah. You like it when I touch you there, don’t you?” and I’d say “Yeah, Lulu. I bloody do. And then she’d say “Yeah, Michael. I bet you wish Stephen Moffat was staying on another year, don’t you?” and I’d say “No, Lulu. I don’t actually”. A massive argument would erupt and I’d storm out of the jacuzzi mumbling something about how she hasn’t even seen Pyramids of Mars. So, there’s no point in me ever fantasising.

So, I lay on the bed and began… you know… polishing the rod. Practicing my stroke. Cleaning out the pipe. Whatever euphemism you use. I genuinely tried to come up with a proper euphemism for how it actually is for me and the best I could come up with is “Ceefax and chill”. Really depressing. 

But I was enjoying myself. And I was enjoying myself for maybe three minutes when a butterfly landed on the pillow next to me.

Right next to me. It lay there looking at me. A butterfly saw me masturbate. I hope you’re feeling the importance of this in the same way I did. If not, allow me to repeat: a BUTTERFLY saw me MASTURBATE. A BUTTERFLY! Nature’s Princess Diana. It flew in, lay down and it watched me masturbate.

Do you know how long a butterfly lives for? 48 hours. And for 5 seconds during it’s brief, brief life, it saw me masturbate. To put that into perspective, that’s like you (yeah, you) watching me masturbate for 33 hours. Really slowly.

I am embarrassed and sickened by my first thought when I was, you know, “killing myself softly” while a butterfly watched. I just saw it lying there next to me and I thought “Jesus Christ. I bet this happens to Snow White all the time”. She’s finally seen the guys off to work. Decides to have a little me party and as soon as she gets started, a deer and a pig walk in saying “Do you need the dishes done?”. “Fucking hell”, she screams. “Five fucking minutes to myself!”

I stopped. I had to. Every time I flap my right arm, a hurricane hits South America. HA HA HA! Brilliant! Seriously, I stopped. Of course, I did. I’m not a monster. I cupped my hands around the butterfly and gently carried it to the window and set it free. I did that immediately because, no matter what, that traumatised insect will be dead within 48 hours. Probably now due to suicide. It probably flew out the window directly into a pin.

This was not how I normally enjoyed myself. That poor little animal. Such a short life and yet the horror it had seen. And then my next thought made me feel even worse: How many eyes does a butterfly have?

Oh, god. I bet it has like 20 eyes. 20 eyes just flew in and saw my dick. That’s horrible and depressing. For an insane reason, I tried to calculate how many eyes had seen my dick before the butterfly. I reckoned 33. Mainly medical professionals. And a villain.

Do you know how many eyes a butterfly has? I looked it up: 12,000. A butterfly has twelve thousand eyes. TWELVE THOUSAND EYES WATCHED ME WANK. I mean, I’m sure I burned a few out but it still stands. Twelve thousand eyes watched me wank. Sigh…

When you feel low, you have to make yourself feel better. That’s important advice. If you’ve traumatised a butterfly and you’re feeling worse and worse about it, then you have to do something about it. And nothing makes you feel better than education. Knowledge makes us stronger. So, I did more research.

I looked up the seating capacity of some of the finest, most prestigious concert venues in the UK and I discovered this: The Royal Albert Hall has a seating capacity of 6000. How’s THAT for making yourself feel better about yourself? Don’t you get it? 6000 people. That’s 12,000 eyes. I felt terrible just a few minutes ago but look at me now, people, just look at me now!

For I am Michael Legge. And I have basically masturbated at a SOLD OUT GIG at the ROYAL. ALBERT. HALL. (APPLAUSE FROM EVERYONE WHO READS THIS…)

And yet still the comedy industry ignores me

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

The Idiot

Yesterday morning I woke up, got out of bed and fell immediately onto the floor. That was not my first mistake of the day. That came later when I picked myself up. Why did I do that? My bedroom carpet is soft and comforting and the floor itself stops me from falling any further. Only getting up again guarantees more falls. Why do we fall, Bruce? Because it’s great. Getting up makes us bitter, angry and pretty likely to seek bloody justice while dressed as a caped gimp.

I lay on the floor for the greatest second of my life and then made the rash decision to get up. As I lifted my equivalent of a body, I realised I was in pain. That’s another stupid thing about getting up: after falling, you don’t really realise you’re hurt until you start moving. I held on to the wardrobe for support and as I raised what was left of me from the floor, my knees held their head in their hands in agony.

I sat on the bed and looked at the floor. Why would anyone want to be anywhere else other than the floor? The floor is our only friend. We can lie on it and nothing worse will ever happen. Next time you fall, think: where is pain and fear and sadness and wankers? Is it down here on the comfy, fluffy, mothering floor carpet? Or is it all up there with the delayed trains and the unpaid bills and the racism and the random American shootings and the Weinsteins and the hashtags and the Brexit and the fucking constant constant. Christ, when you fall, that is the floor giving you a way out. That is the floor reminding you that you are loved and cared for. The floor is freedom. The floor is the only person who gives a shit about anyone.

And I rejected it. My one chance at happiness and I said no. I mean, I’ve fallen loads of times and I’m planning on falling loads more but I bet, eventually, I’ll still get up again. Because I’m a fucking idiot.

My day was awful yesterday. Literally every part of it. A disaster. In fact, it was several disasters. One after the other. And after every disaster, all I could think about was that warm, beautiful floor. I thought about how lovely it was when I fell on it. How safe I felt as I lay on top of it. I thought about a story I once read about a man who was found dead on his living room floor after lying there alone and forgotten for two years and I envied the jammy cunt.

There are only a few things that make me completely happy. One of them is writing blog posts. I can write what I like and I never have to edit it or change it in any way. Not that I blog any more. I don’t. I gave that up years ago. I also like Iggy Pop, being vegan and performing my latest show called Jerk. I love it. And the only thing that yesterday had going for it was that I could perform part of that show at The Comedy Store at a vegan benefit gig. I mean, that’s the best. That’s what I live for. That will make the morning fall and everything that happened after it seem worthwhile. THIS is why I got up from the floor.

I went on stage and I was terrible.

I haven’t felt that amateur in a long time. I remembered feedlines and punchlines. Just not ones that matched up. I tripped over words, forgot where I was, my throat and mouth got drier and drier to the point that I thought I was going to be sick. Being sick on stage in front of vegans is a nightmare. They won’t clean it up as it’s technically an animal product. Instead I just wobbled about on stage, sweating and nearly being sick while the audience remained polite and respectful. Oh, yeah. No booing or heckling. They wouldn’t let me die. Bloody vegans.

I was bollocks. My beloved show was bollocks in front of a room full of vegans and animal rights supporters. Floor! Why did I forsake thee?!

Everyone else on the bill was vegan too but they were funny. I sat in the dressing room feeling like shit with a bunch of really talented vegan comedians that were loved and adored by a few hundred like minded people at a GIG I REALLY WANTED TO BE GOOD AT.

Ever have one of those moments in life when you think “what am I?” That’s how I felt on the way home. All I needed was to be good at that gig. That would have made getting up off the perfect floor worthwhile. Or at least I needed any part of my shit, shit day yesterday to be good. Anything to justify getting up. But I had nothing. So when it’s late at night and you’re alone and you’ve rejected a floor that tried to save you and you didn’t perform well at the only thing you should be good at… what are you? What am I?

I started reading the Iggy Pop biography Open Up and Bleed. I couldn’t really concentrate as I was busy remembering everything that I SHOULD have done at the gig but was too crap to do. Iggy always cheers me up. His energy, his intellect, his stupidity. But this was a tough job for him this time. I held the book in my hand. I even looked at the words. Yet all I could think about was the horror of my act and the comfort of the floor. That’s not a life. Not being prepared for a gig you’re looking forward to is bullshit and lying on the floor isn’t going to improve that. That’s when something in the book caught my eye.

On the 11th August 1968, The Stooges played a midnight show in a town called Romeo in Michigan. It was a 15 minute long set and at the end, for the very first time in his career (but nowhere near the last) Iggy Pop got his dick out on stage.

That was about 12:15am on the morning of 12th August 1968. Michigan is 5 hours behind the UK. I was born at 5:15am on the 12th August 1968.


It really doesn’t take much to make me happy. Just dates, times and Iggy Pop’s wang. I HAVE NEVER FELT MORE ALIVE!

The day started with me on the floor but now I’m standing proud. Because I am Iggy Pop’s dick. And I hope, in your darkest hours, you will be too.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Upgrade Downfall.

Only an idiot would ever go into the Apple Store.

And in I went. Awful. I can confidently say that it is the worst place I've ever been to and I've been to "Troubles era" Northern Ireland and the theatre. It is a massive, massive, expensive warehouse of nothing. It sells nothing. For thousands of pounds. And in I went.

Within seconds, I wanted to burn the place to the ground. If only I could have afforded their pointless and overpriced iMatches and virtual petrol, that place would no longer exist and I would be hailed as a hero. Within 3 minutes I witnessed two iFriends (that's what Apple Store staff are really called. Honestly. Look it up on your android phone) celebrate making a sale by giving two thumbs up to their customers and saying "Fantastic". The customers had bought nothing but it was nothing that came in really good packaging. I came in for a reason but now that I'd seen the iFriends fantastic thumbs, I was too scared to ask anyone if I could buy the thing I came in for. So, like an idiot, I browsed.

All I saw was nothing. Nothing that connects to your phone so you can play music (which you already can anyway) and nothing that can connect to your phone so that you can dim the lights in your living room when you're in Helsinki. Boxes and boxes of nothing. Nothing that costs £150 or £345. I saw one box of nothing that cost £359! And it was quite a small box. Then I started to look at very small boxes of nothing that wrap around your phone to protect it from the moment that you finally snap back into reality and smash it with a hammer. And, as if by magic, an iFriend appeared.

"Hey, there", he said. "Can I help you at all?" I put my hand on his shoulder, looked him in the eye and said "I was about to ask you the same thing".

He now looked terrified but carried on trying to sell me an iPhone protective cover or, as it is known in the real world, nothing. He pointed out that there are leather covers and there are silicone covers. He said the silicone covers were a lot cheaper. They're also a lot smaller and all they do is basically give your iPhone an extra layer of the plastic shell it already has. It was £35. Thirty Five Pounds. "But it isn't a thing", I said. He smiled and asked me to "get his eye" when I'd made my mind up. I had made my mind up. I wanted to "get his eye" and stand on it.

I had to get out. It was time to just buy the nothing I came in for and leave. I walked through the store passing nothing that chooses films for you because why should you have to pick a film as well as watch it? And nothing that can ask your children if they have homework and nothing that can turn your heating on or off via the Bluetooth in your phone if you're in the same room as your thermostat. And... and... a cunt playing jazz piano live in the fucking store for no fucking smug cunt balls reason.

I raged up to an iFriend and asked for some nothing, please. They gave that smile/cry for help that they give everyone and asked what sort of nothing I'd like and I said I wanted the new nothing, the newest nothing, You know the nothing that you put on your wrist and and everyone asks why you bought it and it monitors exactly how lazy you are and it has to tell you to stand up because you've been lying on the floor in your own shit for too long and it sends cheery cartoon reminders for you to breathe and it checks on your heart so that it can email a sad face to everyone on your contacts list the second you finally die. I want that fucking nothing. Also, it tells the time.

The iFriend got me my nothing and took my credit card and I waited. She's going to hand me my nothing and give me the celebration thumbs and the we-have-your-money-now "Fantastic" any second now. Why have I bought this useless fucking thing? It is literally nothing. £399 worth of nothing. Nothing that can survive up to 300 ft below water. Great. I can't even drown it. And what do I get for nothing? Thumbs up and a "fantastic". And here it comes.

The iFriend gave my card back and gave me my nothing in a lovely nothing bag. She looked me right in the eye and said...

"Well done".

No fantastic. No thumbs up. Just "well done". You came in here. You hated every single thing you saw and you saw it for what it was and then you paid nearly £400 to have a bit of it. Just like every other idiot. Yeah. Well done.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

One For Fuck All.

Liverpool can be a lonely place on a Thursday morning, and this was only Saturday night.

Being a stand-up comedian is a lonely job. Being a 48 year old stand up comedian is even lonelier. Even you don't want to hang out with you. But the loneliest I've ever felt doing this job was one Saturday night in Liverpool last year. I remember it well because it was the weekend that The Stone Roses released their long-awaited comeback single.

I love The Stone Roses, and by that I mean that I love The Stone Roses by The Stone Roses. It's a truly great album made by ambitious, fiery, artistic, free young men. Their follow up album was nothing compared to that wonderful, trippy, angry first album and over 27 years since its release. It's all of The Stone Roses that matters. The second album could afford to be terrible because that debut was so superb. It has carried them all this time and anything else they do wouldn't matter unless it was as good or better. To say the least, I was excited about the first Stone Roses music in 22 years.

It was fucking appalling.

Of course it was. How could it not be? Their second album proved that they'd run out of inspiration, what made me think they'd get it back over two decades later? I'm an idiot. It's called All For One and if you haven't heard it then you've got the luckiest pair of ears in town. "All for one, one for all", whines Ian Brown. "Let's join hands and build a wall", forgetting how difficult it is to build a wall while you're holding hands. What did you use to put the bricks on top of one another? Your knob? It's fucking, fucking, fucking, fucking awful. I just didn't "get" it. What happens to all that fire in a young band's belly? How can four men be so full of artistic vision and then release that drivel? I just didn't "get" it. I just didn't "get" the new Stone Roses single. I don't know where that vision went and I don't "get" the new Stone Roses single and then I started thinking about my own life.

I was listening to All For One for about the eighth time and hoping I'd "get" it while walking alone from the gig in Liverpool to the train station. I still didn't "get" it. And I also didn't "get" what had happened to me.

When I was 18, I was in a band. We were a cover band. Yes, that's right. A cover band. Not a covers band. Cover. One song. That's all we knew. It was a cover of Walk This Way by Aerosmith. Walk This Way by Run DMC was incredibly popular at the time but we decided to go for the less popular Aerosmith original. We did four gigs, sometimes performing Walk This Way up to three times in a row. Of course, we were much more ambitious than that. Of course we were. We were young. We didn’t just want to do an Aerosmith cover for the rest of our careers. The band started to write their own music and I wrote the lyrics. Then I was asked to leave because every one of my songs was about masturbation. It was literally all I knew.

That band could have gone somewhere. But then I moved to London and suddenly discovered art. I gave up on the band too easily but art was something that I could really devote my life too. I would be a painter. I genuinely had my heart set on it. But then I just went to the pub instead. It’s the same with that play I didn’t write. And that film I didn’t direct. And that book I didn’t… No. I just haven’t written that yet. But I will. I will. I should do.

And I thought all this while walking alone late at night in Liverpool. At 48, still doing the clubs alone and travelling alone and thinking about that ambitious young man I once was and listening to the new Stone Roses single. I just didn’t “get” it. Then I broke one of my own rules. I pissed in the street.

I left the venue after drinking the regulation comedian’s amount of lager and now desperately needed to wee. I absolutely hate the idea of weeing outside. Don’t know how people do it. But, I was desperate. I knew it was wrong but I went under a very dark viaduct and pissed.

Junkie needles lay all over the ground as I pissed. This did not make me feel any better. How did that young leader singer… that artist… that playwright… end up alone, under a viaduct at midnight, pissing near junkie needles? What would he think of what I’d turned him into? I made him middle-aged. I made him alone. I made him piss on junkie needles.

As I thought all this, I used my piss to move two of the needles together so that they formed a V shape. Then, just above the needles, I pissed two half circles side by side so that the V shape and the piss half circles made a heart. I really did this. In real life. I stood there under that viaduct and thought about getting fired from the band and not painting and not writing my play and I was old and alone and I was shit and really, really… what have I done with my life? I made a love-heart out of piss and junkie needles.

And that’s when I finally “got” the new Stone Roses single.

For more record reviews, listen to the Vitriola podcast with Robin Ince and Michael Legge on Soundcloud and iTunes.