Monthly Archives: April 2010

No.55: Go For A Bicycle Ride

Ahh yes! One of  (according to Hollywood, along with shooting someone holding a gun sideways in each hand and driving a car off a pier onto a boat) the most exhilarating things a human can do.

Yes, all you have to do is find a bike that works and, three hours and a thousand cuts by discarded Tetanus-riddled garden tools and bits of wood barring your way into the shed later, you stand triumphant in front of a two-wheeled monster from the planet DeathTrap.

But never mind that – it has a basket on the front and – joy upon joy –  a bell! There is nothing as childishly delightful as a bell on a bicycle. Ok, the bell is so rusty it doesn’t so much ring as make a noise like Stephen Hawking clearing his throat, but excitement ensues nonetheless.

Now, in an ideal world (which you, as a flancer, obviously sacrificed long ago) bicycle rides are taken on sunny days in the countryside wearing a skirt, floral blouse and straw wide-brimmed hat. With working brakes.*

In reality, one must make-do. If you are a British reader, it is 98.7% likely it will be pissing down when you finally disentangle your bike from an ancient Flymo and two hundred meters of fairy lights, but – being British – you will still go for a bicycle ride anyway because as we know, two World Wars weren’t won by staying in when it rained to sack things off and eat toast.

Contrary to the Sepia-flavoured indulgences of cinematic idealists, riding a bike in a skirt is actually strewn with pitfalls – one of which is getting the hem caught in the cogs and being dragged under the wheels like a near-sighted Victorian urchin into the jaws of a thrashing textile loom. A short skirt is arguably more practical, but you do tend to end up with a queue of cars crawling along behind you and pedestrians coming towards you horrifiedly covering the innocent eyes of their children/dog/elderly relative in a wheelchair  from the unholy view of your gusset.**

Victorian Urchin: Pre-Loom

Riding down a hill with your legs out at angles is also a bit of a risk, despite this being the universal image of carefree joy in modern Britain***. I tried it, but was unaware in my cloud of carefree joy how close I was to the pavement, and consequently punted the shopping bag of a middle-aged woman so hard it took leave of her grasp and smashed a car windscreen. For this reason readers, always check your high gears work so that you may increase your speed if suddenly necessary.

One final point – have you ever tried to cycle through countryside? It’s shit and you’ll end up having to weave around cowpats, burnt-out cars and ditches checking to see if your fillings haven’t been shaken loose every twenty meters

Thus, the flancer alternative? A waterproof cape down to the shops riding on the pavement, feet in – ignoring that old person you ran into a bush – to buy a bottle of wine.

Which you then realise you have to drink standing outside the corner shop because some kind of rodent chewed a hole in your front basket.

Ah well.

[TODAY’S FOOTNOTES]

*Unless you are male. In which case please substitute any relevant soft-focus fantasy you require. Maybe it still involves the blouse, that’s your call.
**In this case, ESPECIALLY if you are male.
*** Along with teenagers puking WKD into their own lap outside nightclubs and clinically obese families eating burgers outside Primark, of course.
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No. 54: Laundry

Doing it is shit. And that’s a fact, kids. But getting it sorted out  brings momentary order to the chaotic world of the flancer and therefore necessitates its inclusion herewithin.

[Note: Handwashing in particular is an epically effective way to waste momentous hours of one’s life.  Once, of course,  it’s been sat at the bottom of that wash basket being avoided for months. And you will have to do it all over again when you’re finished as you can never, ever get all the soap out. And jumpers take up to six weeks to dry. Oh bugger it, throw it in the bin.]

If you are lucky enough to have a washing machine, well, up yours posho.  Real flancers live in a virtual squat from which a washing machine and a quality oven is traditionally absent. You do all your cooking on two electric rings. And if you’re really hardcore this is also where aforementioned hand washing will end up drying to a crisp. But its washing, not cooking we’re banging on about like a rabid member of the  Kilroy studio audience –  and it generally has to happen at the local Launderette.

Launderettes are like funeral homes: a perpetual sadness hangs in the air, the coffee’s shite and a young Nick Kamen will often be in the corner casually disrobing to Marvin Gaye.

Launderettes house the dregs of humanity. People who look as if washing their clothes is an utter waste of time as they are so filthy themselves they should perhaps have considered the possibility  of spending the money alloted to cleaning their clothes on a trip to the local garage to give themselves a good jet wash. People who, even if they clubbed together would not have a full set of adult teeth (much like people at carboot sales).  Health note: never suggest the jetwash thing  to a person in a Launderette.

There is a coffee machine that disdainfully dispenses a liquid similar in colour and taste to embalming fluid and someone asleep and someone clutching a massive checkered red and white bag to their chest with a significantly sized mole on their face staring hatred at everyone innocently waiting for their smalls to dry.  And a copy of Take a Break from 1992.

There is no-one in the ‘young professional’ age/peer group, except you. There is no-one who owns a hairbrush. There is no-one who smells of normal things. There is no-one alive behind the eyes.

At some point you will drop your most horrible knickers on the floor at someone’s feet.

Towards the end of your cycle (which, according to the StoneAge dial system reads: ’30, fabric’ . Choosing anything more specific than this will turn your clothes into DwarfWear (tm) or turn everything faded magenta. Everything will be sopping wet when it emerges from the Portal of Death (aka the drum) as the spin hasn’t worked since the Boer War and will have a hairball the size of a football attached to it,  consisting mainly of strangers pubes.)  Anyway, towards the end of the cycle, you will guess  – as the digital age has not reached launderette world* and it finishes when it damnwell likes –  that you have at least ten minutes left  and decide to run out and get a nice coffee before your load finishes so you don’t feel so angry, insignificant and brimming with self-pity.

But however well you think you’ve timed it, some blowhard always manages to get in and dump all your sodden washing onto the top of the machine (into the fag butts and coffee rings) and get their load in before you get back. And also not be there so you can shout obscenties at them. Well, mumble obscenties under your breath to yourself at them because they will probably be loaded to the eyeballs and toting a can of mace.

And that’s even before you’ve heaved a hundredweight of wet clothing home and worked out where the frik to hang it.

The final insult? Your washing will never smells of washing powder, but always of fags.

 

[TODAYS FOOTNOTES]

*Not a themepark.

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No.53: Go Slightly Mental

You know, like that time where you’re sobbing so hard, spittle is dripping out of the sides of your mouth simply because you opened the cupboard above the sink a little too quickly and it bumped you on the head…. and that act of gross clumsiness reminded you that your life is worthless and that you have no talent or else why would you be sat here drooling onto your dressing gown rather than sat at your keyboard tapping out something for the Times, eh?  This prompts you to email all the people you’ve never really liked and tell them exactly why. And all the feature editors that never bothered (the BASTARDS) to even email you back a ‘thanks but eff off’ after you’d repeatedly sent them your best pitches.  Then you change your mind and don’t send them which makes you bitter AND spineless.  Then you go on Facebook and delete all the smug employed/married/”still-good-looking-despite-now-being thirty-and-ooh-don’t-they-know-it-from-their-posed-FB-picture”  people you know and maybe even go through your mobile phone and bin everyone who you haven’t spoken to in a month. And then you have another cry as your mobile phone book is now empty.  And perhaps you’ll even tackle the bank, who decided to shave a chunk off your overdraft without telling you and now you have to pay £69 in charges. I’ll teach them, etc…until they tell you that, no, they sent you a letter to inform you that they were going to shaft you for nigh-on seventy quid’s worth of spurious fees and promptly charge you another tenner for the administration cost of dealing with your phone call. Then, you eat everything you can find, whilst playing The Prodigy really, really loudly. And you wonder what would happen if you  just, you know, sacked it all off and buggered off to America – no, wait – INDIA, where you could find yourself and NatWest couldn’t. Then you might even contract Malaria *take a small moment to imagine your funeral and spend at least quarter of an hour choosing the playlist* and everyone that never called me or hired me will be sorry….then go and get in your car to drive somewhere ANYWHERE away from here and then give up on that plan and sit crying again with your head on the wheel because at the moment you are virtually a character from a Mike Leigh play and because your needle has been on red for the last week and a half and besides you’ll probably only drive to Tesco and bulk-purchase cream horns…perhaps then you go and stare at yourself in the mirror and decide that you’re getting old as well and who would ever want you…then wash-up and tidy-up and vacuum-up like a maniac, at which point you will catch yourself on the ankle with the vacuum cleaner and collapse into a pile of honking self-pity…then eat some more toast, try on everything in your wardrobe and decide you’re also getting a bit chubby (as well as old) before wanting a nap but feeling guilty about it (see post no. 49)

And then you look at the clock and see that it’s only 09.12 am.*

This might all just be me.

TODAY’S FOOTNOTES

*Today’s post was sponsored by James Joyce.

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No. 52: The Washing-Up

Like the mathematical phenomenon of Pi, washing-up has a beginning, but seemingly no end and only eccentric losers  really enjoy getting involved with it. 

And bored flancers of course, but then if that wasn’t the case, this blog would be a very short one  [‘Thank the lord Jesus Christ!’ shouts 17 readers.] 

But it is the case so bear with me, my loyal 17. 

When you are a working flancer, it is the way of things to let your dwelling area become an utter tip, as if to say haughtily to any visitors that might think you are a scrounging loafer, that – observe! – you are WAY TOO BUSY WORKING to do things like vacuum, wash yourself, stop stubbing fags out on the TV remote and do the dishes. But when employment is less likely than an intelligent conversation at a Hollyoaks cast party, a flancer may very well find themselves regularly wearing rubber gloves and bending over getting soapy. 

And not just the ones who have turned to prostitution so that they can afford to cover the direct debit on their Sky Digibox*. 

When you’re busy, washing-up is basically running the hot tap over something, maybe tickling it with a washing-up brush whose business-end contains more dangerous cultures than the yearly  ‘International Indigenous Cannibalistic Jungle Dweller’s Summer Barbeque’, and leaving the utensils on the draining board ‘to air dry’. (The last roughly translating as “being too bloody bone-idle to dry it yourself and put it away”) ** 

You leave it on the draining board to ‘drain’. And then dry it up. It’s not called the ‘leave it so that someone else puts it away for you, board’, is it? Because we’d all know where we stood then, wouldn’t we? 

Anyway, washing up becomes an art when you’re bored to death. The sink is filled, the washing-up liquid is added until a satisfactory consistency is achieved, the water is almost too hot and the crockery is handled with all the care of an archeologist at work on the burial site of Queen Nefertiti III – although the wearing of a Pith Helmet is pretty much down to the idiosyncracies of the flancer in question.  

The crockery et cetera is then dried with a clean tea towel. Not a working flancer teatowel which is usually on quadruple duty as oven glove, surface wiper, fly swat and hand-towel, smells like death and is probably about as poisonous as Cicuta Maculata, the licking of which brings about violent and painful convulsions, vomiting, cramps, amnesia and muscle tremors. 

 

Cicuta Maculata: As dangerous as any teatowel. Fact.

 

Then  everything gets put away. And you pick the bits of food out of the plughole so that any thirsty visitor doesn’t gag when they go to get a glass of water.  And you feel satisfied for a short time in your virtually satisfaction -free life. Hey –  if you’re really cunning desperate, you can even add it to your CV – spinning it, of course –  like only a flancer can…

April – May 2010: Eight weeks working from home as an “Underwater Ceramic Technician”

 

TODAY’S FOOTNOTES

*Sorry. I’m not usually so Blackpool Pier Stand-Up.

**An old, bone-idle housemate of mine used to protest with all the vehemence of the inherantly indolent that ‘tea towels were utterly unhygenic’ and that ‘it was better to let them air dry’. Oh indeed? How would you know anything about the practicalities of housework, seeing as  THE LAST TIME YOU EVEN FUCKING WASHED UP WAS CHRISTMAS 1989?

Sorry. It was university, and she continually stole my milk and left clothes everywhere. It still rankles. 

No.51: Repeatedly Re-Record your Telephone Voice-Mail Message

Until you sound like the in-demand, intelligent, mysteriously desirable flancer you never will be.

We live in a society in which people continually connive and exhaustingly censor themselves in order to manipulate others  into believing that they are a bracing mixture of sexy, clever hilariousness.  And have amazingly manageable hair like that Cole woman.

Cole: Nice Hair

And so, to be fair,  rigorously rehashing one’s voicemail message until the caller thinks: 

“Flip! If I met the owner of this voicemail I would want to have intercourse with them – let alone give them a job. Maybe even award them the Nobel Peace Prize they sound so amazingly congenial. Even though I know them and they are definitely lazy and as ugly as arseholes!”  

– isn’t a solely flancer occupation.

But in the sense that re-recording your voicemail message can be defined as ‘wasting time with benefits’  it is arguably as fine a flancer activity as any aforementioned in this Blog.

One’s voicemail message is the first port of call for those who may want to employ you. So, firstly comes convincing these  fools interfering with your quality loafing time  potential employers  that you’re desirable, by hinting that you’re probably far too busy to work for them but nevertheless will work for them, even if they pay the same as an evil Indonesian sweatshop baron.  This demands  a cunning, elliptical double-messag-y tone of voice  that says simultaneously: ‘I’m probably not available’ and ‘I am always definitely available.’ 

You will sound like a children’s TV presenter that has just swallowed fourteen Vicodin until perfection is reached.

Approachable-sounding chirpiness is a must – unless you are Charlie Brooker, who can be a mardy bastard if he likes because (a) his highly-lucrative brand is Mardy Ironical Bastard TM  and (b) he doesn’t need to worry about not working  any time soonish as his work appears to be as desirable as firm, pert buttocks at this particular point in publishing history. 

True, if you’re cheery, the jaded, media-flogged potential employer on your blower might just hate you immediately. But be assured,  they’ll hate you tons more if you sound as if you’re going to make their under-paid, bitter old lives even more of a potential exercise in filthy misery.

An interesting vocal ‘quirk’ is worth a risk to make you sound like a ‘character’. By vocal quirk we mean intensifying a nice regional lilt or cultivating a husky-come hither voice* rather than faking a stammer, Cockney accent or Tourettes.

Clichés should be removed and replaced. ‘Sorry I can’t come to the phone right now’ (dull), should be substituted with something more original – perhaps something you have read by a how-to-be-original-sounding expert on i-village.  Although, make it too kerayzee (“Sorry, I can’t take your call right now; I’m up to my eyeballs in jailbait naked male prostitutes and condensed milk! I’ll call you back!!!’) and you will be dismissed as an one-hundred-percent unequivocal RentaPerv, total twat or – depending on how convincing you sound – have the plod on your doorstep brandishing electrified batons within a matter of hours.

The first eighteen message drafts will also be too long.  Inducing a coma in potential job-giver callers won’t pay the bills. And no one likes to walk in on someone swinging by the neck from their own shoelaces, your epic voicemail message STILL droning on out of the mouthpiece dangling from their lifeless fingers.

Just when you think you’ve nailed it (nineteen hours and some MP3 voice coaching lessons from Estonia bought on eBay later) you’re uttering the closing words…and whoever you live with will walk though the front door and ruin your hard day’s time-wasting by loudly announcing their recent arrival.

Ring ring.

Ring ring.

Ring ring…[Cue: sexy, croaky, perky, you know you need me, don’t you? voice] ‘Hi this is Flancer X. Thanks for getting in touch. I’d appreciate you leaving  your details with a short message and I will (polite and reassuring emphasis) contact you at the first opportunity…

 [from the hallway] FACKING HELL, WHAT A DAY I’VE HAD.

Christ! Shut up – I’m…

WHY IS MY BOSS SUCH A JIZZ-BAG? I’M STARVING’

Shut up you idiot! I’m recording my voicemail messa-”

BEEP.

TODAY’S FOOTNOTES

*IE the fag-drenched croak of the Frostrup, not the ability to make Tundra-based dogs drop their bone and rush to your side immediately.

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No.50: Fear your future as a Homeless Old Person

So, one day you’re in the bath eating toast or (if you’re on a real low, eating a chicken leg), and it hits you. No, not the stuffed faux-moose head* above the bath you put up whilst drunk four days ago (see posts no.26 and no.43) but the fact that you haven’t ever, ever, ever put away some money for that proverbial ‘rainy day’.

Or, to put it in a rather less clichéd and rather more urgently relevant way: you’re going to be a skint old person, alone, homeless and a  known regular round the wheelie bins at the back of Greggs in a moth-eaten sheepskin car coat waiting for the moment they bin the leftover white rolls at six o’clock.

“Christ alive”, you think, as you sit amongst the floating toast debris/chicken skin – “I haven’t got any work now let alone in a few years when I should be placidly wandering in a smug, middle-class daze around Notcutts the Garden Centre staring at potted shrubs, safe in the knowledge that my pension** will sustain me through the twilight years of my life”.

A chicken bone floats by. You consider a little cry.

 Bath-based contingency plans are then rapidly considered and discarded:

1. Find, (dupe) and marry a rich partner.

Downside: Really? You eat toast in the bath for frig’s sake.

2. Sell everything you have on eBay to start an ISA fund

Downside: £12.34  will not alleviate the immediate panic of a future spiralling downwards towards being wrapped in newspaper and wool, pushing empty coke cans around in a Seventies pram yowling about daffodils.

 3. Get your adult children to look after you. 

Downside: (a) as previously established – who going to pro-create with you, bath-eater?!  (b) admit it: you have already secretly decided to abscond to the Isle of Man when your parents need full-time care, heartlessly leaving that shit to your richer, more successful sibling. So the old Karma isn’t looking too good for you, is it?

My plan?  Join a commune in Calcutta and become a mellow, dreadlocked granny honking to Shiva and inhaling lentil buns until I breathe my very last flancer breath.

TODAY’S FOOTNOTES

*Grand Designs was on and you’d just finished a whole pot of really gnarly coffee.

**Unless, of course,  your local bank or building society has already spent your pension on bailing out another floundering bank or building society.

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No.49: Nap

But you, the Flancer, will call it a “PowerNap” because then you can make yourself believe, through that delusional rhetoric  so beloved of those emancipated from the restraints of the working hoards, that it is medicinal; that it is an essential regeneration tool in your writing effectiveness repertoire.

As opposed to what it really is, which is regularly coming-to on the sofa in a state of mild confusion, a smear of escapee saliva gently crystallising on your lower jaw.

Ok, if we’ve to have to get all defensive about it, sure – sleep probably makes the foetid, weed-throttled pool of your sluggish imagination generate ideas 0.00235% more effectively.  But dozing off during Murder, She Wrote covered in biscuit crumbs and waking yourself up with a snorty snore can’t – in all honesty – be classed as an Olympic Standard, Mental Regeneration Technique (MRT*) .

And here’s a depressing fact as well, if you weren’t already feeling suitably riddled with self-loathing**: Napping is a spectacularly effective way to make the day pass faster when it isn’t filled with work/your first novel book signing/visits from nice interesting people (not including the bailiff).  Plus, dealing with the resultant guilt from engaging in the sort of horizontal behavior usually reserved for the inmates of sheltered housing, can be exhausting in itself.

Thus the Flancer ends up in this Twilight-zone-esque game of cat-and-mouse as they continually attempt to evade feeling bad about falling asleep by falling asleep and waking up exhausted as a result.  With the added ‘bonuses’ of  panic, fat-tongue, completely losing track of what month it is and a living room that is beginning to smell like the inside of your mouth.

To innocent bystanders you will also appear to be the eye-twin of actor, Benicio del Toro.

TODAY’S FOOTNOTES:

*Don’t you love how acronyming something renders it instantly authoritative? I love that.

**The second most prevalent Flancer emotion after Urgent Caffeine Terror

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