Monthly Archives: May 2010

No.58: ‘Garden’

Old people garden. They garden to fill the time between retiring and dying. It also gets them away from the sickening sight of their grown-up children – who have come home to sponge due to the Recession – shedding biscuit crumbs over the three-piece.

Flancers should in theory garden because they virtually live the same life as old people – stuck in front of the telly, forgetting to go to the toilet,  a burden on their immediate relatives, etc.   But they generally do it because if they spend one more minute indoors, they will start to slam their head in a cupboard door or eat the bread board.

Gardening is excellent for flancers because it can take up the best part of a morning and brings with it  a deep, physical feeling of satisfaction and new beginnings.  Much like having a good poo.  But hopefully, without the shovel and bin bags.

Gardening arguably put one’s life in perspective. The eternal cycle of life and death inherent in the bushes, insects and flowering shrubs strikes a poignant chord: there is more to life than keening like a Grecian widow at rejection emails or letting out a little barking sound and locking yourself in the airing cupboard when adverts for NatWest Bank come on the telly.

‘It’s only an advert’

‘They know I’m here.’

‘It’s an advert!’

‘They have overdraft radars that can see into your living room. And your  soul. I saw it on Tomorrow’s World.  I’m TELLING you.’

This is of course, based on the premise that you actually own some greenness out the back of your rented boxroom. [TEST: (1) step away from your laptop (2) look out of the window. (3) Can you see a green square covered in dandelions and cat poo? That’s it.]  Even if you do not, a window box or – at a push – carton of cress, can be snipped and shaped to  powerfully calming effect. You could perhaps plant seeds in your cress tub. Or erect a bird table if you were really insane.  

If you do have a garden proper, it’s likely that if the gardening time-wasting bug hits, you will at some juncture desire to grow vegetables. Because that’s what cool,  young, cool people do. It may only be a mint plant that you sit on the windowsill and the direct sunlight burns it to a sorry  handful of miserable straw, but to you (ie. to anyone that asks) it is a “Small Holding”.

‘Really? How small?’

‘A small handful of straw-like, sun-blasted mint.’


You will buy the  River Cottage boxsets, nodding sagely as Hugh F-W creates something astounding from one egg and something he found in a puddle by the pig sty, making notes and hoarding used teabags in order to ‘mulch’* them. You will consider buying a chicken.

And then it will start raining and the garden will go back to what it was forever destined to be under the green fingers of the flancer: a place where fag butts and empty bottles go to die.


* Nobody except Alan Titchmarsh actually knows what this is. If a male friend says he’s sure he saw it happen in an ‘Adult Film’ once, he hasn’t heard you correctly.

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No.57: Start a Novel

And the key word here, ladies and gentleman, is ‘start’.

Writing a novel comes in two parts.  ‘Part One’ is the nice part. This consists of bandying about the concept that you, the pointless flancer, are ‘well, as a matter of fact working on my novel right now.’   And by some semantic miracle, this actually means you can claim the title of ‘novelist’ because people who don’t write do not fully understand the inherently laughable premise at work here, merrily accrediting you with this monika with no material evidence of your efforts whatsoever.  [Apart from the fact you always look like shit.]  And this is because most people who do Normal Life  like to put it about that they know people who do exciting things.

People who actually do exciting things, are usually miserable, single and broke all the time.

Interestingly, for no other profession is it possible to claim that you are something, simply by merit of announcing that you intend to commence with it.

 ‘I’m actually starting dentistry.’

‘Oh, really?’

‘May I do some root canal on you now?’

‘Are you fucking joking?’

Admittedly,  writers/novelists never end up in prison for saying they can do something that they can’t actually do. Unless of course you are Jeffrey Archer. 

Archer:Definitely NOT a dentist.

For the first time in ages, you can answer the feared question ‘what are you doing at the moment, then?’ with head erect, confidence in tact and a proud proclamation that:

 ‘Well, writing my book actually.’ *Attempts to look coy*

 As opposed to:

 ‘Trying to find purpose in my day by tidying magazines and obsessing about my weight.’  *Attempts to look sane*

The flancer then buggers off home, pulls out their laptop and works on said tome. IE spends three hours composing a grotesquely florid and self-indulgently generous dedication for the front page of the book. (If you know a flancer well and have ever taken them cake at midnight, rest assured you have had the two words  ‘Chapter One’ dedicated to you at some point. Feel honoured.)

The insane dream of every flancer is to earn whopping great bags of cash and perhaps one day be asked to bandy wits with Mr S. Fry  on Q.I. by writing something like  Harry Potter or  The Bible. Probably sitting at a keyboard, holed up in a Garret-with-a-view, sipping their own prefered version of creativity oil.

Then comes Part Two. Which is the point at which nothing ever happens to this novel ever again.

No.56: Fake Tan Yourself

If you ask a person who fake tans themselves, ‘why do you do that?’ they will reply: ‘because it makes me look more healthy’ or ‘because I am a flancer and have nothing better to do that make myself look more healthy’ or ‘because I like smelling of dry roasted peanuts.’

It’s quite an ordeal fake-tanning yourself, an ordeal that doesn’t end anywhere near making you look more healthy, but only more poor* and more as if you have ankle-and-wrist-specific vitiligo.

‘What’s up with your feet?’


‘Why are they all – ?’

‘ – shut UP.’

Fake tanning is a great boredom-ouster, replacing endless hours that would normally be spent staring at an email inbox with no job offers in it with OCD-esque pre-buffing and moisturising and laying-down of plastic sheeting followed by nail-biting flusteration and marginal panic that you will have an orange upper lip and sink taps (and now mobile phone.  Bloody features editors.  Can’t they call when I’ve NOT got my foot up on the windowsill tanning my thigh crease?) for the next five days. You will consequently seek various orange-patch removal products and, after trying and dispensing with an emery board, bicarbonate of soda, real ale and Cillit Bang, simply  decide to stay indoors for a week, eating.

No change there then.

You can waste effectively utilise up to two hours Googling product reviews online so that you definitely do not get exactly the same sort of tan as Kerry Katona and end up sporting (hopefully) the sort of all-over warm chestnut coverage that would make a walnut sideboard fall in love with you at fifty paces. If inanimate objects could feel hormonally-based love for organic beings, of course.**

In the main, the instructions take only minutes to read but do not seem to correlate to the item you have in your hands. ‘Remove ring’ [which ring? This ring – oh SHIT that’ll never come out of the carpet.] ‘whilst holding can upright [Ah.] ‘Hold an arm’s length from the body [does this mean I get a deeper tan if I am short-armed?] ‘and apply in short bursts. If the product feels wet you have not applied it evenly.’   [Do I move the can whilst ‘bursting?’ Ok, I am very wet. What do I do? Hello? Help! Shit again! I touched the curtains!]

You will then have to stand in a peanut-aroma-ed star-shape for three hours on a sheet of newspaper before still ruining your bed sheets and the next four towels you use.

When caught in a downpour, it will appear to bystanders that you are rusting.

Once you have fake-tanned you will feel better. As if you have had a holiday in Minorca or Cornwall for three days.

Or maybe not.

[NOTE] Apologies to male readers. But perhaps this insight into the mentally unstable personal grooming habits of female flancers has at least been entertaining. If nothing else,  you’ll now know what that weird peanut smell is when the office heating comes on.


*Fake Tan costs a chuffing fortune. Unless it’s cheap of course. Unfortunately, the amount you pay for your fake tanning product is directly proportional to colour of footballer’s wife you will be. IE Lancome = Chelsea WAG bronze. Netto’s Own = Notts County one-night-stand mandarin.

**Too much

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