Most of these were written for The Worthing Herald, from the present day dating back to about 2009. Before 2009, my parents clipped them out of the paper and kept them in a box file.
After 11 years I've finally decided to bring this column to an end, and so am VERY INTERESTED in a new weekly gig. If you'd like me to write for your paper, magazine, website or pamphlet, please let me know.
I am reclaiming control of my own nervous system! Instead of denying tiredness and suppressing it with pretend, caffeinated energy, I intend to learn to accept it as nature’s way of telling me to lie on a sofa with a blanket over my knees. I will enjoy lethargy, revel in relaxation, and maybe take up cross-stitch as an alternative to clubbing.
I am giving up coffee. Because I have realised that, contrary to popular myth, it doesn’t make me feel alive with the glow of a thousand fairies. It makes me feel ill. It makes my heart palpitate, my fingers tingle, and my head turn into the fuzzy reception of an analogue TV screen. I don’t want to feel pre-digital anymore. I want to be HD-ready.
I am giving up coffee. It has been a long and erratic relationship. We rode together through the highs of Costa’s glamorous debut in Worthing, when caffeine was merely a by-product of drinking from a massive mug like they did on Friends, through the lows of sixth-form canteen char, like chewy engine oil, swilled six times a day under the pretense of ‘A-level stress’ (actual reason: coffee is cool. It’s a bit like drugs, but not illegal), and up to the present day, where a coffee machine run is my favourite diversion from a computer full of public sector ICT strategy and pain.
I am giving up coffee. I renounce my days as a Starbucks bore, with my page-long, soya-ameretto-frappa-crappa order. From now on I will be simple and serene. I will merely say ‘peppermint tea’.
I am giving up coffee. Now if anybody wants me, I’ve gone back to bed.
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A short play.
October 18th, 16.12pm. The location: The 99p Store, CamdenTown, London. The scene: Halloween-themed plastic tat; general plastic tat; shouting mothers; screaming toddlers (one sitting in a vat of alpine fresh shower gel); cockney pensioners wrestling over bags of already-broken digestives. The soundtrack: East 17’s seminal 1994 hit Stay Another Day.
Lauren, from behind a jar of pickled beetroot the size of own head: “Why, it’s East 17’s seminal 1994 hit Stay Another Day. What larks. Though, hmm. This song was a Christmas number one. It is usually associated with Christmas. It is usually played at Christmas. In fact, just hearing it now, I am thinking of Christmas. I suddenly want to drink Advocaat and wear a daft hat.
“Rather odd, then, for them to be playing it today, a day quite patently not during the yuletide season but actually in the middle of October. Even in these times of perpetual commercial opportunity, that would be ridiculous. I thought the unspoken rule was nothing pre-bonfire night. But hey - a noble institution like The 99p Store would never inflict premature Christmas music on unprepared customers in the middle of October. It must be a mistake! Maybe they just really love East 17.”
(Soundtrack changes to Shakin’ Stevens’ Merry Christmas Everyone. Fade to black)
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Bad people to be this week: Whitney Houston, who, in her comeback appearance on Sunday’s X-Factor, aimed to win over a whole audience muttering ‘didn’t she used to do loads of drugs?’ by pretty much looking and sounding like she… was doing loads of drugs. Good work, Whitters.
And Jan Moir. Who is probably a pretty bad person to be any week, but it’s only this week anyone’s noticed. Moir committed a double crime, of course, by being not only bigoted, offensive and moronic, but also a really bad journalist. My only hope is that her disgrace will cause some sort of Newton’s Cradle effect within the media, whereby she gets booted out and leaves enough space for me to quietly slip in the other end.
As you read this I am adding another bullet point to my CV, just under IT skills. It reads, “Is not a massive homophobe.”