Millennium twat

How did you see in the new millennium? I was asked this the other day and I didn’t know what to say……….

I was single, she was single. She was with a group of friends, I was with a group of friends. My plans to spend the end of the millennium somewhere “cool” lay in tatters so I was at a nightclub in Maidstone called Ikon. That’s not a typo by the way, that’s how they spelled it and should give you some idea of how unbelievably shit it was. It was the sort of nightclub that has lots of pictures of attractive people having fun on all the walls but if you took the time to look at the “actual” people around you they would bear no relation to these pictures (a bit like Facebook then?). In the real world it looked a lot like Mordor. Mordor with Robin S. The dancefloor was always packed because, away from it, the carpets seemed to be made of flypaper or jam or superglue. Maybe that’s why the queue at the bar moved so slowly?

Through some licensing quirk they had to serve “food” so there was a brightly lit corner selling dirty burgers to people who really should have avoided both fast food and bright lights. The music was loud and the booze was cheap and although I now cringe, back then I thought it was okay.

I was a bit drunk and we’d danced together and “done a get off” or a “frenchie” or whatever we called it back then. Kissing with tongues. It was a result – I’d “pulled” and that didn’t happen very often. Except that I was definitely on the rebound and she seemed very keen and at one point she mentioned “our future” and I suddenly realised that I didn’t want any commitment. For the first time since I was 6 years old, I didn’t want a girlfriend. This revelation came to me as I was at the bar getting her a drink and I had a only a few minutes to concoct an escape plan. Whatever I said would seem weird and unreasonable, I had seemed “keen” only moments before. How to go from canoodling in the corner to cooling things off without making her feel bad?

Then suddenly it hit me, a way to make us both feel good – it was a great plan.

I sat down and passed across her drink.

“Look I really like you but I’m not sure this is gonna work because one of my other friends has fancied you for ages and I just can’t do that to him. I’m really sorry, it’s not you. It’s him”

“Oh” she looked quite taken aback at my massive lie, “okay”,

I gently shook her knee in sympathy and tried to look “forlorn”.

She took a sip of her drink. It was cheap and white, like my shirt, like my lie.

“So…. who is it that likes me so much but has made no move on me?”

Shit. I hadn’t really thought about this bit.

“Well please don’t say I said this because he’ll kill me but it’s Matthew”, I gestured over to Matthew Manson who, blissfully unaware , was talking to a very pretty girl.

“Which Matthew?” she asked

“Y’know Matthew, Matthew Manson, he’s always fancied you. And we’re mates so it wouldn’t be right”

“Matthew Manson fancies me?”

“Yup, always has done, he just can’t tell you. You know how shy he is”

“My cousin Matthew?”

“What?”

“Matthew is my cousin, you knew that right?”

Shitshitshitshitshitshitshit why did I not know this? WHY HAS NO-ONE EVER MENTIONED THIS!!!

She looks confused and a bit sick.

My brain says “you are a fool Conmy, tell her the truth, admit to her right now that this is a cheap attempt to distance yourself from a scenario which you are probably reading too much into anyway. She’s not proposed! She’s a sweet girl who seems to like you, so tell her that, no, you didn’t know that Matthew was her cousin and it was a stupid stupid thing to say”

I take a deep breath.

“Yes. Yes I did know that Matthew was your cousin” I shrug “and that’s why he’s never told you”

 

So now you know how I saw in the millennium – accusing a good friend of mild incest.

 

 

 

 

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Immature

Being the parent and having to be “grown-up” all the time can be exhausting and can often lead to moments where we swing wildly the other way………

Through some quirk of fate I have been left alone in the house without a list of things to do. This is great news because it means I don’t have to be the sensible adult for a few hours. The possibilities swoon before me. Although I am the oldest person in the house I am now also the youngest. Left to my own devices I change. For example, I go up the stairs on all fours. I don’t know why I do this, it is not something that can be easily explained. In my defence I only do it when the house is empty and I have to go upstairs anyway. I don’t want you to think that I just climb the stairs on all fours for no reason – that would be mad. Perhaps going up the stairs like a dog is my way of saying “screw you maturity”? I honestly don’t know.

Upstairs, a great idea comes into my head so I unspool vast quantities of toilet roll and get a continuous sheet going along the floor, out of the bathroom and all the way down the stairs to the front door. I draw a cartoon ghost on the bottom sheet then I run back up the stairs (on all fours) and settle one end just above the water. Later, when the kids arrive home and before my wife comes in, I will wait until they are through the front door, race upstairs, flush the toilet and watch it being gobbled up by the flush. The children, gobsmacked, will witness a long white 3 ply streamer race back up the stairs as if by magic before being flushed away and I will pretend not to have noticed this “miracle”. Later, when my wife asks what they are going on about, I will deny all knowledge of the toilet roll ghost and she will shrug her shoulders and say “kids eh?”

On a whim I rearrange the fruitbowl so that a banana and 2 satsumas are a little more erotic to look at and as I am doing this I notice the helium balloon. Once proud and thrusting , the balloon now hovers a mere inch from the floor. It’s diminishing powers of levitation are over a week old and it needs to be thrown away – a saggy balloon is depressing, we all know this. And not just because it supposedly looks like an old woman’s tits, which I think is unfair (and inaccurate in this case unless the old woman in question has green foil peppa pig tits), but because a balloon is a metaphor for our own inevitable physical decline, they are our gentle reminder at birthdays that life is finite and therefore precious.

But who can just throw away a balloon filled with fun gas? Certainly not me. That would be a waste, for who amongst us could resist the lure of Helium? The second most abundant element in the universe, an element forged in the stars through the thermonuclear fusion of hydrogen and used by the people of earth, principally, to make their voices sound funny.

I make a small hole and inhale deeply…….. just as the phone starts ringing.

Shit.

I stare at the phone with the balloon still at my lips. I probably should just leave it.

But I’m not that guy.

I pick up the phone.

“Joe Pasquale here” my voice is incredibly high and tight, it’s perfect so I let out a little giggle.

“May I speak with the owner of the house please?” says a man’s voice.

I think to myself – bloody coldcallers.

“Yes it’s me, Joe Pasquale, can I help you?” giggling, I take another deep breath of helium.

“I came round the other day to give you a quote on those fencing panels?”

Double shit – it’s the fencing man!! A big humourless lump of a man. A Northerner! A man I have already told my wife we are going to use!

I cough a bit but it’s no good the high voice remains.

“Oh Mr Tate yes. I was going to call you”

“Are you okay Mr Conmy, your voice sounds funny?”

“Yes I know. I’ve erm just…….. been…… doing a bit of helium?”

Later, when my voice and maturity levels have returned to normal, whilst my son keeps ranting about a ghost stealing toilet roll, my wife, pointing at the sexy fruitbowl, asks me what else I did today.

I think about that sandwich I invented whilst watching “Jumanji”, about putting that ant on a crumpet to make him think he was on the moon and all the other stuff that happened.

“Y’know, just a bit of paperwork” I say “just grown up stuff”.

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How to eat out (with kids)

It’s your birthday. Looking out on the sparkling city nightscape you bite your lip in indecision, will it be the delicate gluttony of foie gras?, the opulent smoulder of wasabi laden sashimi?, or perhaps the soft littoral tang of ceviche? Waiters appear: silent as smoke, attentive as a courtesan, they bustle softly, ready to translate your wishes into the toil of hidden scullions – your pleasure is paramount, is everything. The restaurant is full but it’s just the two of you, eyes darkly complicit, knowing. The lighting peach soft, yet exquisite moats of shadow make your pool of light intimate. Murmurs of pleasure trickle through the room like champagne bubbles, this isn’t a meal – this is foreplay.

And we know what that leads to.

Which is why, yesterday, walking in to the same restaurant at mid-afternoon with a screaming baby, a harassed wife and a mischievous 3 year old was a rather different restaurant experience………….

“Hello, we’ve not eaten here for a while, do you cater for children?”

“Of course Sir, we have a Michelin starred organic vegetarian a la carte children’s menu or we can provide smaller portions of everything on the main menu, except, of course (strange laugh) the Chateaubriand”

“Do you have crayons?”

“Sir?”

“We cannot eat here if you don’t have crayons”

“I can check with the……chef?”

We leave and walk into the next restaurant, it doesn’t have a Michelin star but it does have free crayons and fishfingers – no contest. The restaurant is busy, we are shown to a corner table with a garden view; alongside, a canoodling couple are sharing a dessert, flaunting their young love by feeding each other and y’know – smiling ‘n’ shit. I am fairly sure my wife doesn’t spot their special moment as she moves cutlery aside and starts to change my daughter’s nappy. The waitress is surprised at seeing a pair of tiny al fresco buttocks next to the “specials” and I use her social paralysis to scan the children’s menu. As she gathers herself to leave I stop her with the children’s order, “IT IS VITALLY IMPORTANT YOU BRING THEIR FOOD AS SOON AS POSSIBLE” I add in a half jokey – half desperately serious way. She pulls my hand from hers and hurries away, either she understands the urgency of the situation or, more likely, she wants to put some distance between her nostrils and the contents of my daughter’s nappy. It must be bad: on the next table the lovers stop eating their dessert and ask for the bill; I look at their abandoned profiteroles and think how cruel fate can be. Without looking up my wife passes me the full nappy, I am so used to this kind of olfactory Hiroshima that I barely notice anything but the heat, it reminds me of walking back from the fish ‘n’ chip shop as a boy – although “open or wrapped” is not a choice a nappy changer ever has to make.

God I’m hungry.

I wander past scores of gagging diners and eventually find the toilets and a bin with that all important lid. Whilst washing my hands I notice a vending machine that that sells flavoured condoms – this is, after all, a gastro pub. The only flavours are sweet though, which is a shame because at £3 a pack they might’ve made a nice starter. I return to our table and find everyone is settled. My wife is cleaning the high chair and my daughter is eating off the menu. By that, I don’t mean “a la carte”, I mean she is happily licking the remains of a satsuma from the menu which has served as a sort of impromptu plate. We settle in. Our waitress arrives with the food and looks surprised again, the area is barely recognisable: we have already used all the napkins in a four table radius and the table decorations and cutlery have been stacked up out of reach of chubby fingers. Our pre-meal detritus litters the surrounding tables which are now all empty. There is satsuma peel on the window sill. My son has drawn a picture of a “pregnant skeleton robot” on the specials menu with the one crayon that hasn’t been broken and crumbled and is now loudly singing “Hakuna Matata” with his eyes closed.

Which, nowadays, is very much our philosophy when dining out.

 

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Snipes………

I have a good friend that I take great delight in winding up. It’s for his own good. That’s what friends do. I like to challenge him a bit because he has picked up some bad habits from his colleagues. He works as a foreman and occasionally spouts views which most of us would find a bit “old fashioned”; having heard many conversations with these guys I am sure that they are the source. I’m not sure he even realises he is being slightly racist or slightly homophobic and I have never seen him direct any genuine malice towards anyone except Everton supporters, but (and this is important) the osmosis of casual bigotry should never be underestimated………

“Urgh I HATE all this Twilight vampire shit!”

We are in a dark and friendly pub and there is a band playing. What they lack in musical finesse they attempt to make up for in volume, hair and eyeliner. In homage to the Gods of Rock’n’Roll they are all taking macho boozy swigs as they play. I can’t help but think this would be more Rock’n’Roll if they weren’t drinking Bacardi Breezers. Still, you can’t have everything.

In the darkest corner, two androgynous Goths are doing their own version of a French Kiss. It looks a bit like an illegal dog fight, only less romantic. In another corner an older couple drink their drinks without talking, he is looking at his phone and she is looking at him like she hates him. The way she looks at him tells me they are married, that she’s fed up of having his skidmarks stare back at her from the laundry basket every morning like the eye of Sauron, fed up of having to listen to his “morning wee” and that sad little clown’s fart he always does at the end. Fed up of the way he always has to “breathe”. Someone is speaking to me.

“What?”

“I said I HATE all this Twilight vampire shit!”

He’s using the same tone that most people reserve for cancer or Tony Blair (But not the one they’d use if Tony Blair ever got cancer).

“The Twilight Films? I’ve never seen them.”

“I watched the latest one the other day, it’s sooo gay”.

“Isn’t it just Vampires-who-do-karate against Werewolves-that-do-karate with a heterosexual love story woven in?”

“Basically, yeah” he raises his pint at my succinct and inaccurate description of a global phenomenon.

“Well,” I say “Minus the heterosexual love story it sounds a bit like your favourite film – Blade”

He looks shocked, like I have shoved a big pink stake through his heart. He is so easy to wind up.

“IT IS NOTHING LIKE BLADE!”

“Well isn’t that about a black vampire who knows karate?”

“Yes but it’s not gay in any way. It’s Wesley Snipes man!”

“A muscular black man dressed head to toe in black leather who beats up slightly effeminate caucasian vampires with a combination of his superior “karate” and his big shiny sword. Or he shoves his great big stake into them in slow motion? And don’t all those sexy caucasian vampires, the ones he hasn’t “impaled”, want to suck on him to gain some of his power? Don’t they want a bit of what he’s got inside them?”

“What? It’s not GAY!” He looks bewildered, like he’s just lost his virginity in a remand centre.

“No, of course not.” I pat his hand, “Of course not. But would it matter if it was?”

“No, of course not!” He downs his pint “Can I get you another?”

“Just a shandy please mate”

“What?”

“Joking”

“Always the funny fucker aren’t you?”

I blow him a kiss and phone my wife.

Too easy.

 

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Trouble on the platform…….

Holy Shitballs! my family are waiting for me on the platform!

I’d seen this sort of thing happen before and knew what I had to do.

The way it works is this. You get off the busy train after a hard day at work and spot your loving family on the platform. They have come to meet you, to surprise you. You notice them before they spot you and you can see the excitement in your children’s eyes as they scan the crowd looking for their beloved father. People walk past them quickly, they want to rush home to their families too but they recognise what is about to happen for one lucky person – a mini family reunion on the station platform. An exquisite snapshot of the perfect family. For them a brief glimpse of the domestic paragon. For you a chance to flaunt your good fortune to your fellow commuters.


The children should be wearing matching knitwear and your partner should look maternal (with noticeable undertones of filthy). I’ve seen this scenario a hundred times: the moment your child sees you and, barely able to contain his joy, he breaks into a run shouting “Daddy!” or “Beloved Father!” or somesuch. It’s even better if you have two children. Did I mention I have two children?

So you can imagine my joy when I spot them on the platform as the train pulls in. This is my turn! My chance to give these familiar faces, these people I get on the train with every day, a glimpse into the Conmy family, to create a moment that they remember every time they look at me.

I am so ready for this. What could possibly go wrong?

The train pulls in and I am first out of the doors, it is important that my fellow commuters are still behind me to witness this magical moment, to see the joy on my children’s faces, the adoring (with undertones of filthy) look on my wife’s face.

My son sees me first and, as expected, his face lights up and he breaks into a run, I am a little disappointed that he has yet to shout “Beloved Father” or somesuch but this is a minor gripe in what will inevitably be the ultimate hollywood train platform family reunion.

As you know, there is an accepted position to receive your children rushing to you on the platform which involves going down on one knee and spreading your arms wide, you then gather them up whilst they kiss you and carry them back to the wife for a lingering look and a peck on the cheek with “undertones of filth”. Fellow commuters should look on jealously at this point.

My son is running towards me and my daughter is close behind so I assume the position, on bended knee with arms spread wide.

Which is when it all goes wrong.

Two things happen.

The first thing that happens is I realise quite quickly that I am, in fact, kneeling in a puddle. A rather deep puddle. Much worse is the second thing that happens: as the train starts to pull away my son gets distracted from his purpose, slows down and stops to watch it go, my daughter is likewise mesmerised and stands with her brother to watch it pull out. Leaving me kneeling in a puddle for no apparent reason. I wave my hands frantically to try to refocus them on the task at hand but I can’t compete with a moving train. Still a full 30 yards away from my children, my surprise kneeling position looks a little odd. My fellow commuters are giving me concerned looks as they walk around me. Has he fallen? Why is he on his knees? Is he praying? Are those Jazz hands? Why is he kneeling in a puddle doing Jazz hands?

Confused faces file past me – this is not the unforgettable moment I was hoping for.

My wife has caught up with the kids, and I think  “Perhaps I can salvage something here?” but suddenly she is greeted by an attractive male friend and starts chatting away.

I get up off my sodden knees and walk towards them.

“This is a nice surprise!” I say smiling at her and her attractive male friend. He has perfect teeth and the knees of his trousers look very dry.

My children are still watching the train as it shrinks into the distance. This is quite annoying but I decide to be the bigger man so I say nothing and mentally remove a present from their respective Christmas lists.

“Yeah, I was just telling Paul, we managed to lock ourselves out of the house and the kids got bored of waiting”

“Oh,” I say, mentally removing one from her list and giving her a noticeably filthy look of my own.

 

 

 

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Foodies……

I’m at a party and have ended up talking to gastro-bores. Foodies. I can be a bit foody when the mood takes me, but this conversation, lubricated by alcohol, is spiralling out of control. Predictably they are trying to impress each other with wildly implausible meals – stuff they just “whip up” at home. Yeah right. I know that one of the guys is single – I know what single guys eat. Strangely though, he is not saying “I like ham ‘n’ pineapple supermarket pizza and sometimes, when I’m feeling adventurous, I might add some extra ham” – oh no, he is discussing the benefits of tearing fresh herbs as opposed to chopping them up. He is keeping a straight face and using words like “bruising”, which, incidentally, is what I would like to do to his straight face.

Everyone seems to have adopted menu language without realising it’s just a marketing trick. Saying “pan-fried breast meat” will not impress me, you are talking about chicken fried IN A PAN.

Probably a frying pan.

How sexy does “frying pan” sound?

Likewise, “sun-ripened” tomatoes – what else will ripen tomatoes? Satan? Baby unicorns?

Another one of them keeps saying “chorizo”, he cannot stop saying it. I think it’s because he is pronouncing it differently to everyone else “thoreeeeetho” he seems very pleased with himself. He has mastered the “chorizo lisp”.

“I love cooking with thoreeeetho. You can’t beat proper thoreeeeetho to lift a Catalan paella”

This sort of thing irritates me, he is basically trying to impress us by saying “sausage”. Although he would probably pronounce it “thothidge”. And he says “paella” like he was just saying “pie” and then got attacked by a wasp.

Pie – ay – YA!

Now one of the women is talking to me.

“What about you James? Have you ever created something magical with food?”

I ponder for a moment, there was that CurlyWurly I nibbled into a Harry Potter wand? That was pretty convincing – I remember pointing it at a dog and shouting “EXPELIARMUS” (which could’ve been awkward but luckily it’s owner was blind). Then there was that perfect fishfinger sandwich I had in the summer of 2005 – no, too pedestrian. Think James! Think! They are all looking at you to wow them with a culinary masterpiece, a signature dish so outlandish and delicious sounding that they’ll all get tongue erections and their ears will salivate.

“Well,” I say “I once drew a pair of tits on a jacket potato?”

 

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Cryin’ Air

I was “miffed”.

I had got to the Airport and realised that I’d forgotten my boarding pass. The “penalty” to print it out at the check-in desk was £60. Which was £15 more than the original ticket cost to fly me to Germany. Sixty quid to print out a page of A4.

So I was, y’know, miffed.

Someone had dropped a whole lot of “miff” on me from a very great height. It felt as if “miff” had jumped from the edge of Earth’s atmosphere and landed square on my cock and balls wearing ice skates made of shit.

While singing “I miff you like crazy”.

Miffed.

As you can imagine, learning the “replacement” cost to print your own boarding pass at the check-in desk was an exercise in anger containment, so I diverted my frustrations into facts and figures in my head. £60 – this meant that the cost to print out a barcode was valued at nearly 10 hours of UK minimum wage. Valued, that is, by a certain “Irish” airline. I don’t need to tell you which one. It’s the one that soon will ask you if you want to “buy a sickbag?” Yes, that one. The one that asks you to pre-print your boarding pass before you come to the airport – that one.

But what could I do? I had to pay it and stop holding everyone up. You can’t threaten or intimidate RyanAir staff – these people can stare down a photograph. Of Chuck Norris.

In the words of Rudyard Kipling “Shouting at RyanAir staff is about as much use as a monkey flinging shit at an elephant’s arsehole”.

So I didn’t make a scene. I rolled my shoulders. I frowned. I said “that seems erm excessive?”. But I paid up. To make things worse it took about 15 seconds to re-print my document; or if you want think of it as I do – 4 quid a second.

I wanted to shout “Look, I know that ink is expensive but unless you are hand-milking the world’s most dangerous octopus and employing David Beckham to draw my boarding pass with a pen made of gold onto a fucking Dodo egg, then I think that’s a bit “much””.

But I didn’t. I said “Thankyou”

I tried not to I really did. I willed myself not, NOT, to say thankyou when she passed me the replacement. But I failed. It was like that bit at the end of Ghostbusters when Ray thinks of the StayPuff Marshmallow man. “I couldn’t help it”

I looked at the document, checked to make sure it didn’t have any rubies on it – but it didn’t so I stuffed it in my pocket.

I started to talk to myself a bit; castigating my politeness for rearing it’s head at such inappropriate times.

“James!,” said my brain “what are you doing? You don’t thank your mugger? You are not Jesus. You are a customer that they care nothing for. They have no respect for you because you are the kind of mug that will pay £60 for a bit of paper when they are willing to fly you over 400 miles for two thirds of that amount. What’s wrong with you? They can defy gravity for 10 miles, thousands of feet in the air, for a single pound and yet they would have you believe that they cannot press a print button for nothing.”

“Brain you are negging me again. STOP YOUR NEGGING!” I said. Out loud. Which is not the sort of thing that works in your favour at passport control.

And my brain had a point. But that’s not how it works with this airline. With this airline they also give you the option to beat the queues and pay just a few more pounds to board first. Which is great, unless you are LAST in the priority queue, meaning you walk through the boarding gate with your head held high and then the mob of everyone else piles in behind you, and then manages to overtake you in the bendy connecting tunnel and leaves you wondering why you bothered. This is the airline that asks you if you want to buy scratchcards? And the prizes on the scratchcards include “Dime Bars”. How desperate would you have to be to spend a pound on a scratchcard in the hope of winning A DIME BAR? A dime bar which, in the real world, would cost considerably less than a pound? This is the airline which plays “rapturous applause” over the cabin speaker system every time it lands. As if they cannot quite believe that they have got away with it again. That’s not the sort of thing that inspires confidence in an airline. Especially on the journey out. You may as well have the stewards audibly praying on take-off. Or have the Captain say “We are on final approach – MAY GOD HAVE MERCY ON OUR SOULS!!!”.

Fake applause is, frankly, inappropriate unless you have somehow managed to finish one of their in-flight meals.

 

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