So urm…been busy tonight? 

We’ve all been there. Those awkward encounters with members of the public who offer a service to you in some way. Whether it’s a taxi home after drinking yourself to oblivion or forced smalltalk whilst having your hair cut, for a lot of us it is a struggle.

Some may struggle with confidence issues which makes it difficult from the get go, just dreading that forced social interaction with the hairdresser. There are several ways to approach this and for a socially awkward person like myself I start to think of different topics of discussion before the inevitable.

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‘So, do you watch football?’ ‘no, not really into it’
‘Ah, seen any films at the cinema recently?’ ‘Not really into any of them, it’s all superhero crap at the moment’
‘So, any holidays coming up?’ ‘Nope’
‘How ’bout Scarlett Johansson ay? She’s pretty fit’ ‘I’m gay’
‘Know any good places round here to visit?’ ‘fuck off’

Safe to say situations like the above do happen pretty often (okay, maybe not the last one). You slowly go through your checklist of ‘go to’ small talk with a barrier in the form of an antisocial bloke with scissors in his hand. Once I managed to find a 2 minute discussion on what nice weather we were having but safe to say that can only last so long. He knows it, I know it, we’re not going to be chums after this so maybe we should both shut up and let him get on with it.

Or should we…

Recently I’ve tried a new tactic and it works really well. I decide to make up a completely different persona each time (which will most definitely backfire). I’ve been called Gareth, had two kids, lived half of my life in Sweden – the usual. The amount of sheer bullshit that leaves my mouth keeps them interested enough to escape the awkward silence.
Yes, I know. I’m a compulsive liar, yet who cares? If I ever have to see this guy again it’s going to be about six weeks away and I’ll have a completely different set of hair, definitely won’t be recognisable. If you’re socially awkward and struggle at these encounters I definitely recommend waffling pure codswallop for forty minutes. Just don’t step too far and talk about all this imaginary money you have, they’ll think you’re a wanker and expect a decent tip.

Then we have the bane of social awkwardness – the lone taxi ride. I shudder just thinking about it. We all know how it goes…

‘So, been busy tonight?’
‘What time did you start/finish’
‘Thought of moving to Uber?’
‘Bet you get some right characters in here’

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We all know the clichés , as do the taxi drivers . I recently asked my taxi driver in Altrincham about 2am one Saturday morning all of the above. Then I did the unthinkable – I asked him how often he gets asked these questions. His response was expected; ‘every damn ride’.
Luckily this particular driver had a decent sense of humour and I was able to keep this topic going till journey’s end. We laughed about how self aware everyone in the above scenario is and how at the end of the day, there’s much more to discuss and find out about someone on a car journey. I learnt that he was a Muslim man who had moved to England with his wife and kids about six years ago, naturally I enquired about the religion and what he thinks of the media bias right now regarding Muslims. The gent was happy to oblige and I ended up drunkenly spewing all sorts of nonsense at the man who was so glad to speak to someone about something he cares about that around five minutes had passed after he’d parked up as I sat outside my house and carried on the conversation.

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These encounters are as awkward as we make them. Us Brits in particular are known as very reserved with strangers. Sometimes we forget that they’re in the same situation too and it’s possible to brighten up someone’s day whether it be through deep meaningful drunk chats with strangers or general rubbish with the local barber.

Let’s talk about sex… 

In this day and age many boundaries have been broken, taboos have become tadoos and yet there is one topic for discussion which is almost as infamous as Voldemort. Of course, I’m talking about sex.

Now I’m not talking about preferences and desires in the bedroom – that’s a private and intimate choice that the average person would not be comfortable conveying to the world. I’m talking about the general topic.

Continue reading “Let’s talk about sex… “

Nostalgia is a hell of a drug

That constant yearn for something in your past that you may never accomplish visiting again hits us all. I myself can get extremely nostalgic, forever wanting to live in the ‘good old days’. The truth, quite simply is there probably weren’t good old days, just shut up Frank (see what I did there? I’m self aware!). Sure, you may have been richer, slimmer, somewhere more exotic or all of the above but the day to day struggle of being an actual human comes with plenty of issues.

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Take for example being a child. Everyone has those moments where they wish they could revisit their youth; playing on the climbing frame, getting up at seven to watch some cartoons on a Saturday. Your worries were quite simply how long would it take for your parents to notice that it’s an hour past your bedtime or how many lollypops you need to take into class on your birthday.
“But we didn’t have to worry about bills or finding a job.” – True, but can you honestly say that the levels of stress you feel at times in your life weren’t exactly the same as something so trivial back then? In hindsight running around the house stark bollock naked shouting ‘NO CLOTHES ON!’ was indeed an easier time when you were a kid – not that I do that now or anything, but back then you were still worrying about aspects of your life that may even seem laughable now.

Continue reading “Nostalgia is a hell of a drug”

First half of 2016? (Spoilers: It’s messy)

Well we’re halfway through and it’s safe to say it’s been an eventful year! It seems only yesterday I was looking up at the fireworks in Queenstown foolishly excited for what would turn out to be the strangest six pages of a calendar so far (in my lifetime anyway!).

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‘After all this time? Always’
For any hardcore Potter junkie that line would’ve choked them up since first reading it. 2016 has decided that it had lost it’s novelty and began furiously killing off many popular figures including one of my favourite actors, Alan Rickman. The distinguishable, dry voice of Mr Hans Gruber himself will sadly never be spoken again.
Speaking of voices we lost several legends of music in 2016’s early killing spree with David Bowie biting the dust and Prince also leaving this earth.
Other notable figures include the unforgettable Muhammad Ali, Ronnie Corbett, Harper Lee and Terry Wogan. It doesn’t seem to be ending any time soon either with Caroline Aherne recently losing her battle with cancer. It’s got to the point where if someone is trending on twitter I automatically assume they’ve been beaten by this year too.

Continue reading “First half of 2016? (Spoilers: It’s messy)”

MUSIC or: How I learned to stop worrying and enjoy Cherry Bomb. 

Music can tell you a lot about yourself and others. It could even be argued that music has become one of the most vital elements of the world.

Asking what music you listen to is a question often asked when first getting to know someone and attempt smalltalk – amongst other impossible questions such as ‘what’s your favourite film?’ or the awkward to answer ‘tell me about yourself?’. A regular response is ‘bit of everything actually’. Everything actually?  Everything counts as DMX to Three Days Grace all the way down to Paris Hilton’s failed music career. Its simply not true… Then I find myself considering my favourite type and I think to myself ‘mmm, bit of everything really’.

Continue reading “MUSIC or: How I learned to stop worrying and enjoy Cherry Bomb. “

Divided Kingdom (Brexit)

So it’s done, the people have been to the ballots, got their permanent marker pens out and shoved a big fat cross over the ‘Leave the European Union’ box. So now we’re drifting out of the EU like possible future PM Boris on a zip-wire (does that not leave a sour taste in anyone else’s mouth?). Whatever you voted, at least you did and that’s democracy in action.

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There will be many articles and posts regarding the uncertainty of the United Kingdom so there’s no need for another one. This isn’t about what you voted for, what’s done is done and as a ‘remainer’ I know we have to get over it.
I’d much rather talk about one issue I’ve noticed over the past day.

For me personally, I’ve noticed a huge divide to the point of hatred from both sides of the fence. We are quite possibly seeing the end of the United Kingdom with a second Scottish Independence Referendum on the cards and a possible unification between Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland. Do we really need to be hating ‘leavers’ and ‘remainers’ due to having an opinion as well?

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The tension everywhere I went yesterday was silently deadly, as if everyone was trying to work out who secretly farted and getting them to own up by eyeballing them. Nobody wanted to talk about it, yet everybody wanted to talk about it simultaneously. Never in my life have I felt so awkward in public places, it was basically an episode of The Office in terms of unsettling cringe.

I’ve seen people argue furiously and it’s fantastic that people are so engaged in something as important as this as opposed to being completely disenfranchised like the minority. One thing I don’t agree with however, is people turning that passion into hate or spite. Everyone and their Nan is suddenly an economics expert who moonlights as a politician by night and you know what? That’s great, sure a lot will be wrong in what they say but they’re showing an interest which is what matters. Then there are people who are making Facebook statuses and tweets about if any of their friends oppose their view then their friendship is now over or threatening people on the streets.

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Truth be told, a large majority of people will be talking about something else in a couple of days (I for one can’t wait for Game of Thrones as well!) and then the inevitable jokes will come about how people have ‘gotten over it pretty quickly’ or ‘clearly don’t care enough’. So don’t let them. If you agree with the decision or not to leave the EU do some research and humanely talk about possible alternatives that could hypothetically work well or don’t work at all. Debating is healthy, arguing is not.

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We’ve made our bed now, it’s time to grab your PJ’s and lie in it. For example, I think a good solution here would be a similar situation to Norway with a trade deal like the European Free Trade Association, or perhaps focus more on building relationships with the Commonwealth which could even lead to Freedom of Movement within these countries.

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Right now we’re not so much a United Kingdom as a bouncy castle ready to burst. We all need to focus on what we’ve got and how to approach it on a personal level. Whether that involves jumping ship and leaving or powering through and helping out where you can, it’s your decision. Just don’t keep arguing with Fred from down the road about the economy because you might as well be smacking your head against a wall.

It’s time to stop scratching your bum and become a lion tamer

Arguably strengths and skills are what can define a person when it comes to your work, your social life, your relationships and quite honestly most of your life. Without having our own skills we are essentially a blank canvas. Sure we can eat, reproduce, poop, phase out to the TV but that makes us no different to one another. Without skills in the eyes of the world we are useless, draining and quite frankly a waste of oxygen. Reading this might seem quite demeaning, you may be asking yourself what you have to offer the world. Maybe you can make people laugh? Perhaps you’re an absolute genius when talking about the Powerpuff Girls? Don’t worry if you haven’t figured it out yet, we all have something to give.

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I often find myself thinking about tragic stories of people who passed away far too soon and were unable to impact the world as we know it (not including loved ones as I’m sure everyone that’s ever and will ever exist, be loved and admired by at least one other). I consider what it is that I bring to the world other than cynicism, sarcasm, fantastic looks and a moderate intelligence (one of these is not like the others). Will I have a legacy? Will people other than those closest to me even know of my existence a decade after I’ve died? I mean, Robin Williams even had Koko the gorilla mourning when he died.
The answer is probably not – not everyone goes down the route of Martin Luther King, Florence Nightingale or Alan Turing to be remembered indefinitely. All I can do is use the skills I’ve acquired to try and make a difference both in my own life and others wherever possible. Then I remember that I’ve given up on a lot of potential skills in my short life – acting, directing, playing the guitar, becoming a magician (my deepest regret). This is due to two things; one being a completely lethargic sloth-like mess at critical points in my life and mostly to a sense of entitlement that a lot of us suffer from – I’ve expected these things to happen overnight and for great things to fall into my lap.

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So now I’m building different skills up that I’ve always wanted to accomplish.
One example is trying to learn to speak Spanish. I have been for several months now on and off and I’m at the point where I’m able to understand basic conversations but if thrown into a situation where I need to converse myself, I’d probably draw a blank and rudely raise my voice, attempting to act out what I was trying to convey in overt gestures like some sort of rogue mime artist who’s given up the mute act. I can have very brief chats (often by myself, rambling like a madman convincing myself that I’m fluent) which involve basics such as ‘I love drinking beer’ and ‘That boy is an elephant’ and such.
I’m also learning to cook, have been for a few years now and I’ve got to admit I’m not terrible. Sure I often opt to eat my beloved pizza so a lot of my friends wouldn’t consider cooking a strength of mine yet in the confines of my own home I love to cook all sorts of weirdness!
My third skill that I’m pushing for is to be able to write in a coherent, educated and entertaining manner (I’ll get there folks) – this is the big one. The skill that once acquired could eventually attract an audience and possibly make money out of, because isn’t the dream in life to be able to work for what you love doing? Y’know, along with a nice house, a family, lots of money, a monkey sanctuary in your garden, a fast pass to all amusement parks in the world, a plane, world domi-you get the gist.

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My dreams aside, the point I’m trying to articulate (albeit badly) is that even if you find yourself scratching your groin wondering what you can offer to the world the answer is quite simply who knows? Sitting there, as comfortable as it is with your hand down your pants staring at a wall isn’t going to impact anyone’s life for the better. Find out what skill could be beneficial to an aspect of your life, what you see potential and most importantly what you enjoy doing. Finding your strengths and using your skills are possibly the most important part of your life, work on it!