Friday, 29 May 2015

I'm not going to lie to you - A Steve Rant

For audio click here

‘I have a work colleague,’ Johnny hated it when Steve started a conversation like that, Steve seldom sang the praises of his colleagues. ‘Who starts every other sentence with the phrase, “I’m not gonna lie to you,” You know, I’m not gonna lie to you but that pie was lush. I’m not gonna lie to you but I was minging last night etc, etc.’
‘Like Nessa,’ Johnny said.
‘What?’ Steve replied.
‘Like Nessa in Gavin and Stacey, she said that all the time.’
‘Oh yes, like Nessa.’ Steve nodded and took a mouthful of beer. ‘Anyway, why does she need to say it, why does everything of any importance have to be prefixed with those 6 pointless words. Does she think that we think she is going to lie to us?  Who expects people to lie to them, unless you are talking to politicians of course? Maybe she does normally lie to us. Maybe everything she says is a big fat porky so when she does tell the truth, she has to make it clear she’s not lying. Maybe I won’t believe a word she says in future, so when she tells me she’s finished a report I will ignore her. Maybe it is an elaborate game of Simon Says.' Steve took a swig of beer. 'Anyway why is she wasting my time with stupid phatic language? I should bloody invoice her for my time she is wasting. But worse it is spreading so now other people are saying it, now we have a whole office of people telling us they are telling the truth.
‘It’s for emphasis isn’t it?’ Johnny said.
‘I know what it’s for but it doesn’t mean I have to like it. For me it makes sense if it goes before bad news, you know I’m not gonna lie to you but it’s going to be a tough few months ahead, is fine, but saying I’m not gonna lie to you the new security guard is ripped, makes no sense whatsoever.’ Steve still said whatsoever in the style of a long forgotten teacher.
‘You know what I hate?’ Johnny said. ‘At the end of the day.’
‘Ach.’ Steve threw his head back in agreement.
‘What does it even mean?’ Johnny said. ‘I can’t even see that it adds emphasis. If you found 10 examples when it was used and deleted it, the sentences wouldn’t be any poorer, I’m not gonna lie to you but at the end of the day it is literally pointless.’ Johnny smiled,
‘Nice,’ Steve laughed.
‘But…’ Johnny said, ‘I have to pick you up on something you said.’
Steve looked aghast.
‘You said I have a work colleague, well what other type of colleague would you have?’
‘Piss off!’ Steve said smiling and getting up to go to the bar.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Behind the Sofa

For audio click here
That woman needs a volume switch, Morgan thought as he tried to enjoy his coffee. But if Morgan thought that the loud Spanish lesson going on at the table behind him was bad enough, his day was about to get a whole lot worse. He closed his eyes and warmed his hands on his coffee cup; the weather had taken a turn for the grumpy and Morgan had not come out dressed for the chill wind that was getting under his skin. He tried his hardest to drown out the Spanish voices and concentrate on the soft jazz, gently emanating from the speakers. The coffee smelt good, he smiled. He liked this place, despite the local teaching community using it as an auxiliary classroom, it was usually peaceful, and what was better, none of his women knew about it.
God he’d got himself in a bit of a mess with women in the last few months, he was just meant to be having a bit of fun but it was getting messy. First of all there was Suzy from reception, but then when Leila turned up in his office he just could help but ask her for a drink, a drink that turned into a fumble and a trip back to her place. Then of course there was Isabelle who’d been on and off for months, gosh nearly a year actually. All of them were meant to be friends with benefits but all of them w\ere getting more serious. He knew if he looked at his phone now he’d have messages from all three of them. So he’d leave his phone in his pocket and bury his head in the sand. He was going to have to make a decision soon but that was easier said than done. Could you be in love with three women at the same time? At least one thing was in his favour - the three girls didn’t know each other.
‘Hi Morgan,’ Morgan opened his eyes and saw Isabelle standing there.
‘Hi Isabelle,’ Morgan said, wondering how the hell she’d found him there. ‘What are you doing here?’
‘I’ve got my Spanish lesson.’ Isabelle nodded to the table with the Spanish teacher sitting on it..
‘Oh right!’ Morgan said with a sense of relief. Isabelle sat at the table behind him engaging with the loud Spaniard. Morgan closed his eyes again and returned his attention to his coffee. He had at least 20 minutes to enjoy it, then he could escape.
‘Hi Morgan,’ Not again. Morgan opened his eyes, there was Leila.
‘Hi Leila,’ Morgan said. ‘What are you doing here?’ He could feel Isabelle’s eyes burning into him from behind.
‘I’m meeting a friend,’ Leila said. Again Morgan breathed a sigh of relief. ‘And you?’
‘Oh just enjoying some peace and quiet before going to meet Paul.’  Morgan had no intention of meeting Paul, but it was his go to lie.
‘Okay, I’ll leave you to it,’ Leila said.
This time Morgan decided it was time to drink up and get out, two of his women in one place! No, scratch that, make it three. This was like watching Doctor Who as an eight year old, Morgan wanted to climb behind the sofa.
Leila and Suzy were air kissing and then Suzy blew Morgan a little kiss.
Morgan smiled uneasily and grabbed his coat and left.
‘You know I told you I was seeing someone,’ Morgan overheard one of his lovers say to the other as he was close to the door. ‘It’s Morgan.’

Morgan ran, ran like the wind dropping his mobile phone in the bin as he did so.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

I Should Have Taken Billy's Advice

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I was such a naive little boy back then, it's hilarious when you think about. I genuinely believed in no sex before marriage. It wasn’t a religious thing, it was just the way we’d been brought up.  I loved you then in a way I've loved no other since, I worshipped you really, I put you on a pedestal when really I should have taken Billy Bragg’s advice and put you on the pill. How long were we together, 4 / 5 months. Those stressful months in Upper Sixth when having someone to cuddle and smile at helped us through the tedious facts of 19th century European History and Chaucer and Shakespeare. We used to hold hands in class under the table and steal kisses in the common room when we thought no one was looking.
Do you remember us making plans, talking about the house we would have and the garden and the 2 kids called Emily and Daniel. We were only 17 but so grown up; our idea of a fun Saturday was looking at beds in MFI. 17 going on middle-aged.  We talked about our wedding night, that beautiful night when we would take each other’s virginity, consummate our love; indulge in the pleasures of the flesh from the sanctity of marriage. We knew we were different from the rest. We knew that they had discovered sex and revelled in it but we made our vows of chastity and were determined to keep them. How foolish we were with our supercilious conversation about how our immoral schoolmates were living shallow, meaningless lives.
So imagine my surprise on the morning of our English A-Level when you told me you were pregnant. At first I genuinely thought it was a miracle; that an angel had visited you in the night, but the reality began to dawn on me. I shouldn’t have slapped you, I’m sorry for that, I was young, impetuous, upset, I hope you can understand, I promise I’ve never raised a hand to anyone since. I shouldn’t have called you a whore either but when you told me you weren’t sure who the father was I just snapped. I’ve no idea how I passed that damn exam, my eyes were full of tears as I wrote about Macbeth. I almost scratched holes in my answer paper I was leaning so hard with my pen.

And so there you are in my sights once again. The first time I’ve set eyes on you in 20 years. Funny I’ve never been married, never had kids, but I learnt that sex was perfectly acceptable before marriage, even quite enjoyable. So I should be grateful to you really, grateful that you knocked me off the straight and narrow, saved me from a life of middle-aged boredom, but I can never forgive you; unless you’ve felt humiliation like that, you don’t know what it’s like. So after 20 years I have you in my sights, in my crosshairs and with a steady hand, I pull the trigger.

Disclaimer: I am in no way saying that Billy Bragg advises men to shoot women. :-) 
Credit: Corina Craciun deserves a writing credit on this story. 

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

The Marrakesh Express

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The roads were gridlocked, we hadn’t moved for about 15 minutes and looked like we might not move for another 15 at the very least. The air was full of car horns and car exhaust. But no amount of honking was going to get us moving, the streets were constipated and ironically it was an overturned lorry load of plums causing the problem. My train to Marrakech was due to leave in 20 minutes, we were only 5 minutes from the station by car but that would be at least a 15 walk and with a suitcase and 40 degree heat I wasn’t sure I wanted to try it. My driver honked the horn again, why? It would do no good, maybe honking the horn was cathartic, maybe it helped him feel less powerless. I wasn’t powerless. I opened the car door, grabbed my suitcase and made a dash for it.
It was hot, damned hot, the sun was baking down from clear Moroccan skies, I could feel sweat dripping down my back, my armpits were drenched and it felt like I was wearing someone else’s jeans. I walked as fast as I could in the heat, dodging the pedestrians on the pavements like Shane Williams jinking down the wing. Well it would have been, if the great welsh winger had had to drag a suitcase instead of a rugby ball.
I was so glad I had a ticket and a seat reservation so that I could just leap on the train, I’d even got a bottle of water in my bag so I didn’t need to stop for anything. Still I daren’t look at my watch, I just had my head down and kept my feet moving. I could see the station up ahead, it was in reach. I crossed the gridlocked road, pleased the traffic wasn’t moving or else it would have been hell with the suitcase in tow. But I’d forgotten about the motorbikes, a scooter shot passed me, almost taking my toe off, while the cacophony of horns drowned my thoughts, which was good because my thoughts were all panics.
I’d reached the station, the air in the building was cool on my wet skin but I didn’t have time to savour it. I moved through the building looking at the screens, It seemed to say platform 5 for the Marrakech Express. I ran up the stairs hulking my suitcase by the wheelie handle. To my great relief, the train was still there. I heard the whistle blow, so without thinking I hoped aboard the train at the nearest available door.
The train was full to bursting point. The compartments made for 8 people had at least 10 people in each. Woman with colourful headscarves had tired children on their laps while men hunched over their mobile phones, sending texts to god knows who. The luggage racks were precariously jammed full of suitcases and carrier bags; one jerk of the train and they would come tumbling down. The corridors were jammed with people too, standing, looking annoyed that they would in effect be walking to Marrakech. I had to try to manoeuvre my way down the carriage to find my seat, but with my suitcase and the overflow of people, that was going to be easier said then done. If looks could kill, I ran the gaunlet of a hail of bullets as I tried to smile and apologise my way down the train. I noticed that despite the whistle, the train hadn’t moved, that we were still in the station. I thought about getting off and walking down the platform to the first class compartment but that was surely too risky. So I continued my battle through the ruck, through the scrum like the great Alun Wyn Jones tustling for the ball. Three carriages I battled through, and it felt like I’d taken on the whole of Morocco to hit the first class compartment. But once I did, it was worth it. Quiet, calm, cool, clean, the first class carriage felt like the Hilton in comparison to the carnage I had left behind. I found my compartment, six seats, not 8. I smiled. There was the reason I’d taken the train, there was the thing that made the sweat, the sprit and the battle worthwhile. She smiled at me, her big Moroccan eyes sparkled as I smiled back.
‘So you made it,’ Latifa said.
The train jerked and slowly began its journey south.

‘Just about’ I said and flopped into a seat, relieved that my adventure could begin.