UntitledI’m 42 today.

I might not be 42 today when this blog actually makes it to the blogspot page but as I write this it is still my birthday. So it’s my birthday blog.

So 42, and as I sit here thinking about it I am wondering what words of wisdom, what key golden nuggets of advice I could offer, in essence what the hell have I learned in 2,184 weeks? You would think in 15,288 days one would have learned a lot of lessons, good and bad?
366,912 hours is a lot of time to learn something useful other than how to divide numbers on a calculator.

Actually I have learned a lot.

I have a lot of strong opinions on most things, I know a lot of useless facts, can name some pretty obscure capital cities and could if I tried hard bullshit my way through a few specific disciplines without embarrassing myself horribly. I am also old enough to have no issues with stealing other people’s ideas or opinions if they are better than mine (and there are quite a few) and repackaging them as my own.

Most of the things I have learned though if I think about it I could have figured out a long time ago. Its not like I have learned how to split an atom or find the lost Arc of the Covenant or anything. Mostly its common sense.

If I had thought about it, for example, when I was 20 what’s the correct response when a guy in a bar asks me what I am looking at it probably wouldn’t have been ‘your missus’s tits you monkey-arse-faced twat’. If I had actually given it some thought at the time that is.

Problem is at the age of 20 phrases like monkey-arse-faced twat just run off the tongue faster than the thought process which should normally precede them.

So a quick list of things I have learned, purely off the top of my head would run something like:

  • Do what you say you will.
  • Only take the bus if you really have to.
  • Don’t spill red wine on the bride.
  • Do travel, a lot.
  • Don’t care what other people think.
  • Be nosy.
  • Double check after using Google translate.
  • If you are a man, don’t have long hair.
  • Don’t be a gay.
  • Don’t wear pink, Lycra or shave your legs; male specific again.
  • Don’t write things in sms speak, ever.
  • Avoid wankers, they are.
  • Don’t stray from the path if you are starring in An American Werewolf in London.
  • Give it a go.
  • Don’t cycle drunk on the motorway then tell someone about it.
  • Befriend spiders; the enemy of my enemy is my friend.
  • If you are unhappy with it, don’t whine about it, change it.
  • Don’t bullet point lists.

If I was to write this list tomorrow, it would probably be different so I guess this isn’t really a list of the wisdom learned over 40 years its more like a whimsical list of things which I can think of just now.

I have little regrets, plenty of mistakes but regrets no. I do have a tattoo, not that I regret it, its just there, not a lot I can do about it now anyhow and it was this which got me thinking about this blog in the first place.

To be clear my tattoo isn’t an embarrassing one, it’s not a cool one either, its one which I am neither proud of nor embarrassed about it, it just is. It was needled into my upper arm 25 years ago when I was 17, alcohol was involved and also the strange rule which used to exist in England which had pubs closing for a couple of hours in the afternoon. Something to do with WW1 I am lead to believe so I won’t complain too loudly about it, its so low on collateral impact from that conflict it would be obscene to even consider drawing a cause and effect line.

Youth, alcohol, time to kill and a plethora of tattoo parlours were, and probably still are, a bad combination. I ended up with a small colourful smudge on my upper arm and found myself in the shower the following morning trying to rub it off.

That was 1987 and since then tattoos seem to have increased in popularity exponentially. In 1987 tattoos were the sole preserve of rock stars, African tribe members or drunken 17-year-old sailors. Now everyone has a tattoo and I was thinking about that, I have an excuse of sorts, what’s yours?

I don’t know what you think, but I can tell you what I think.

I think if you are Latino, muscular (male) or deliciously curvacious (female) then an appropriate tattoo looks good, you should have one. If you are an African tribe member with a plate in your lip and a neck stretched like a giraffe then a tattoo is the least of your aesthetic worries so you might as well. If you are a German skinhead it’s expected and equally so if you are a porn star.

Tramp Stamp according to the Urban Dictionary (yes I do research my topic thoroughly before posting) is the name for the horizontal tattoo normally found just above a woman’s backside and of all the tattoos I have come across I dislike these the most.

I am, of course, discounting here the really stupid facial tattoos or the badly drawn lines of the homemade variety.

As a brief aside I knew a man once who had a penis, with wings on his forearm and Scotland written above the flying member. I had and still have no idea why, nor the significance of the penis. I don’t know if it was a demonstration of patriotism (he was Scottish) or the exact opposite. In any event I remember him being a dense man of few syllables so it probably was a misguided attempt at the former.

Yes, tramp stamp, when I see one, and strangely the women who have them seem to want to show them off a lot, I am not sure if I should mention it and compliment her on her arse art or simply ignore it.

It not like a nice dress or something where you can get away with ‘you look fantastic’, it’s a specific thing and I think a sexual specific thing so I tend to opt for the ignoring it reaction.

Art works well on a nice canvas. When its painted onto a bulging, bloated, pasty skinned canvas with a fag sticking out of a hairy lip its not going to look good regardless of the talent or the design employed.

I see them everywhere and shudder, if you look this bad now what on earth are you going to look like in 40 years from now?

Anyway, who am I to criticise, I already have at tattoo and it’s their body to do with as they wish.

So after 42 years of living I have a number of things to be proud of, a head full of mostly useless knowledge, a few lines on my face, the odd mark and a piece of body art which wont wash off.

That’s ok isn’t it?

I think so – Happy Birthday to me.

Bah Humbug

happy hourTo urinate on a war memorial is wrong – I think we can all agree with his statement.

To be photographed doing so the same week yet another group of young men were killed in Afghanistan is both wrong and particularly bad timing. Philip Laing the young man in the middle of this week’s outrage must now expected some form of custodial sentence.

It is so wrong on so many fronts it’s hard to see how he can avoid spending some time in jail.

His defense: he was drunk.
“No excuse” we all shout back at him in unison.
His lawyer has publically stated that “it’s difficult to articulate just how embarrassed and ashamed this young man is”.
“I bet he is” we all agree shaking our heads, safe in the knowledge it’s someone else.

I can understand the public outrage. I too feel outraged when I see a picture of a man, the same age as the men dying halfway around the world, pissing over the poppy wreath.

But I also feel sympathy, a sort of cringing sympathy, but sympathy nonetheless. The sort of sympathy where I can easily imagine myself in such a shameful position. Like watching someone being bullied and knowing it could very easily be me.

Who amongst us can honestly say they have not done something outrageous drunk? We don’t need to discuss the details but do we really believe that Philip is any different to the vast majority of people? I would like to add at this juncture, I have never pissed over a war memorial. A phonebox or two perhaps, a few hundred bushes definitely, the sea now and again and once ingeniously into a coke bottle on the late night bus, but no, never a war memorial.

No, Mr Laing had the serious misfortune to be photographed and he became well and truly fucked when the photograph found its way into a national newspaper.

I do not for one second believe that he feels such disregard for the fallen men and women that he is moved to piss on their memorial. He was drunk, did something very stupid and is now paying a heavy price for his stupidity.

Personally I would like to see the legal time & expense being directed at the organisations which are promoting such hedonistic binge drinking.

Student life is about drinking, partying, having fun, growing up and also, I have been lead to believe, education. This is a fact, but also all the students I know are very adept at drinking and partying, very cheaply. Allowing organisations like “Carnage” to promote their cheap, binges across our campuses is akin like giving rabbits IVF, welcome by the recipients, but clearly not necessary.

Surely allowing such organisations unfettered access to the student population is unnecessary and something which can be easily rectified, I cannot believe that banning them would take a serious amount of legislation.

Instead we simply hear well meaning people complaining and doing absolutely nothing about it.

How hard can it be, really?