Wednesday, 31 July 2013


The hole in Luke’s jeans had got so big that there was more hole than jeans, it was getting so bad that wearing them in public might result in him being arrested for indecent exposure. There was noting for it, he was going to have to buy a new pair. But buying a new pair of jeans was easier said than done for a 45-year-old man of growing ‘stature’.
Between the ages of 20 and 38 Luke had easily fitted into size 32 jeans; buying jeans was easy back then, buy the same one as last time unless the fashion changed
But at 38 Luke found he no longer had a 32-inch waist, and that he needed size 34. That shock had sent Luke to the gym, signing up for a membership card, using it once or twice before it played the guilt card; reminding him of his expanding girth every time he opened his wallet to pay for a bacon sandwich or a round of beers.  
By 40 Luke had grown out of his 34s moving into a 36, how did that happen? It had taken him nearly twenty years to go up one size and little more than 2 to go up another. But there was no rushing to the gym this time just a resigned shrug and acceptance of his new status.
As Luke went from one shop to another he realised just how uncomfortable jeans had become. The space between the top of the leg and the waist seemed to have got smaller meaning he had to crush his vitals into the cramped space. When did all jeans become low rise by default he wondrered. He tried Next, Springfield, Zara, all the usual suspects with no luck. Eventually he arrived at Marks and Spencer. He couldn’t could he? He could buy work shirts and socks and boxers in the home of middle age but surely buying jeans would signal the end of his youth. He tried them on, size 34, perfect fit. The freedom the higher rise fit gave him was pure bliss; it was comfort incarnate. But he couldn’t could he? Surely buying these middle class, middle aged jeans in this middle class, middle aged shop was a signed confession that he was over the hill and beginning to slip slide down the other side.
Luke took the first swig of his beer and adjusted himself as subtly as he could. These Springfield jeans were the most uncomfortable things he’d ever worn. He thought of the pair he’d left behind and promised himself that next time he’d not be so vain while knowing deep down his next pair would be as uncomfortable as these.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Steve Rants - Taps

As Steve came back from the toilet still shaking his hands dry Johnny could see his friend had something on his mind.
‘Do you know what really annoys me?’ Steve said as he sat down, it was a rhetorical question but Johnny began lining up answers, mangoes, electronic cigarettes, house parties, umbrellas to name but a few. But no doubt Steve had an equally mundane thing to rail at.
‘Taps!’ Steve said answering his own question and then sitting back and taking a gulp of Guinness as if letting the significance of his statement sink in.
‘Taps?’ said Johnny marvelling at his friend’s ability to find offence in the most commonplace thing.
‘Yes, taps, especially British taps,’ continued Steve. ‘Why do we insist on having two taps on sinks in this country? There’s really no need.’
‘Um, I think it is so we can have both hot and cold water Steve.’
‘Ah, but ah, they have hot and cold water in France too and in Poland and anywhere else in the world but they only have one tap. A mixer tap, you can get exactly the right temperature for your hands. But here it’s like this 
ow ooo ow ooo ow ooo.’ Steve mimed holding his hand under a tap and moving it back and forth to the other.’
Even Johnny smiled at his friend’s acting skills.
‘Just put a plug in, then you can get the temperature you want.’
‘Plug smug, who uses plugs these days? And here for example’ Steve waved his hands flamboyantly in the direction of the toilets, ‘their sinks haven’t seen plugs since the place was opened. But still two taps, ow ooo ow ooo ow ooo.’ Steve mimed again.'What am I meant to do carry a plug with me.
‘You’ve got a point but you’ve got two taps in your place, why don’t you change them?’
‘That’d be too easy wouldn't it.’ Steve smiled at Johnny but Johnny had heard enough, he picked up the empty pints in front of them and headed to the bar hoping the beer taps would be more to Steve’s liking. 

Monday, 29 July 2013

Border Crossing

Dan watched the stars fade as the sky brightened; day was breaking and that meant that one by one the stars disappeared like candles being blown out by an asthmatic pensioner. The train had been standing still for about 20 minutes, allowing Dan to study the stars from the narrow couchette bed that he was lying in. He could feel his phone and wallet through the thin pillow and hear the gentle snoring of his travelling companion, a young woman of incredible beauty. She’d ignored him of course, as all beautiful women did, until she’d ordered him out of the compartment so she could change for bed using stern foreign words and unsympathetic body language.
As the last of the stars disappeared there was a clear single knock on the door waking the woman up with a start. Dan looked at her unsure if he should open the door but she ignored him sat up and slid the door open. Her beautiful but thus far stern face softened to reveal a huge smile to welcome the guests - two ferocious looking border guards who had more in common with bulldogs than humans.
The guards smiled back at her and checked her passport exchanging words in the local lingo that meant nothing to Dan. Both sides laughed and looked at him briefly before going back to their flirtatious exchanges.
The guards then turned their attention to Daniel, holding out their hands for his passport and waiting impatiently for his offering before devouring it with suspicious eyes.
‘Come’ one of the guards barked and motioned that Dan should follow them.
Dan was almost shaking with fear as he followed the guards out of the couchette and down the train corridor, what the hell was wrong? His visa was good and his passport valid.
They walked to the end of the carriage and went into the attendant’s compartment and motioned that he entered.
‘You have drugs?’ The other guard spoke.
‘No’ Dan managed to reply.
‘Any contraband?’
Dan would have been amused by this old fashioned word being used by a burly guard had it not been for his current predicament. He shook his head. They looked at him again and reopened his passport.
‘What is this?’ The guard pointed to the badge on Dan’s football shirt.
‘Wales.’ Said Dan not sure if the officers would have heard of his tiny country.
‘Wales? Wales? Ah, Gareth Bale.’ The guards exchanged words in their tongue before turning back to Dan giving him his passport and with a slap on the back sending him back to his couchette with the word Tottenham ringing in his ears.
To his relief his phone and wallet were still under his pillow where he had left them but the girl was gone. He sat done on his bunk letting his heart get back to normal and nearly jumped out of his skin when the girl slid the door open convinced it was the guards coming back because one of them was an Arsenal fan.
‘Sorry’ she said as she smiled at him briefly. ‘I could have stopped them. They said they like to scare foreigners.’
And with that she was silent again for the rest of the journey.

Friday, 26 July 2013

I was just going to say

She looked at me with so much suspicion that I nearly wrote and signed a confession on the spot. Not that I was guilty, far from it. I was only leaving my sister's flat nothing wroing in that. But my face wasn't recognised and the rumour mill hadn't spread the word that I was staying for a few days so the neighbour obviously thought that I had just completed a break in or maybe there was something even more juicy to report. She had me banged to rights for just being a stranger.

My  sister lived on the kind of estate that you wouldn't want to run over a child on. I mean, I know you'd never actively want to hit a child anywhere but there are some places where the stakes are higher, where punishment would be swift, local and violent. Being a stranger raised more eyebrows on this urban estate than in the rural pub my mum and dad frequented.

Her suspicious looks convinced me I needed to say something, otherwise the police would have been picking me up before I'd reached the train station.
‘I'm Sarah's brother’ I said, ‘just stopping over for a few days.’
‘Well, I was going to say,’ she replied.
Were you? Were you really? I thought to myself, cos it didn’t look like it. It didn’t look like you were going to say anything; it looked liked you were just going to stare at me, your eyes filled with suspicion, your mind racing with gossip. Hiding your nosey parker mind behind your neighbourhood watch exterior. Desperate to get down the shops to share the latest titbits of scandal with the other busy bodies.
She was obviously disappointed, my revelation had derailed her, turned rumour into mundane, taken away the tabloid headlines she was planning to deliver. Her face changed, enthusiasm drained, frustrated to find that I was a brother not a lover, a relative not a fugitive.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

None the wiser

‘Look at you sitting there like an some kind of arrogant sex god.’
The words hung in the awkward silence. Everyone around the table tried to process them and decipher what they meant. Even those involved in other conversations stopped mid word and looked at me wondering what my response would be.
My accuser was a bit of a loose cannon, a friend of a friend who’d joined us for the first time tonight and had spent the evening trying  just that little bit too hard to ingratiate herself with us. 
We’d already worked out that she engaged her mouth long before she engaged her brain... but this was probably the weirdest comment of the night.
It was such a strange insult, if indeed it was an insult.
Because to me it seemed a bit like a compliment, I mean who wouldn’t want to be called a sex god? And surely a sex god by definition is arrogant. So what's the harm in that?
So what did she mean? She barely knew me but apparently I was giving off the vibe of a sex god, which would be the last thing anyone who did know me would call me.
‘What does that mean?’ It wasn’t me that spoke, it was Kirsty, my best friend.
‘Well look at him?’
Everyone around the table did as they were told and turned their eyes towards me.
‘Sitting there like that.’
Like what? was the question on anyone’s lips. A question that would never be answered because no one dared to ask. 
A second, then another ticked by then she just laughed, took a sip of beer and with a breezy 'anyway' changed the subject, leaving us all none the wiser.