Monthly Archives: August 2011

No. 72: Hang Out A Bit With Your Parents

Obviously, you live with them because – unlike that landlord you had in Bethnal Green, if you’re a day late with the rent they don’t wake you up accompanied by 12 Eastern European relatives persuasively toting an aluminium baseball bat. 

And hanging out with your parents can be fun. No, it can. Get slightly drunk on Stone’s Ginger Wine and go with the flow in order to immediately feel slightly more mellow about (a) defiling their retirement by leaving your newspapers, washing and lunch strewn about your mum’s conservatory so that it resembles a post-festival campsite and/or (b) the fact that you’re old-ish, homeless-y and have about as much chance of becoming financially and responsibly independent as Katie Price has of being hand-delivered a British Publishing industry gong for ‘Katie Magazine’ by Muammar Gaddafi in a sequinned fascinator.

You may be certain that spending social time with your parentals can result in some pretty cool, pretty mental experiences that a married, sensible person (or anyone that didn’t smoke blunts the size and weight of a ferret) would be sadly exempt from.

Indeed, where else in the universe would you get to watch a photographic musical montage showcasing the various stages of the driveway and garden being tarmaced? To Cracklin’ Rosie by Neil Diamond, no less?*

Take a few seconds, I beg you, to imagine this audio/visual bombshell. Do you feel strange? You should. I did.

As Diamond croons, my alarmed eyes are subjected to the images of piles of soil next to a pair of wheelbarrows.  A palette of turf stacks. Some sand. A plumb line next to an empty tea mug.  And with an almost Spielbergian flourish, the song’s key change has been timed to accompany pictures of the final brick-weave having been laid.

Diamond:soundtrack to the rough

 In virtually every way it was a more entertaining watch than Big Brother and perhaps worthy of being an evolutionary landmark. This epic piece of cinematic history was made on iMovie – by A DAD, which is quite literally gargantuan strides  Darwinianly speaking.  Comparable – surely –  to the discovery of a talking, lute-playing daschund.

Tomorrow: Scrubbing mould off the patio umbrella and cutting a tarpaulin in half. And in the evening, New Driveway II: cementing in the edging bricks (Soundtrack: Creedence Clearwater Revival.)


*You might strike lucky at a particularly ‘niche’ NYC arts college. Or the Turner Prize.


No. 71: Get Your Hopes up. About Anything.

Rejection and disappointment can’t even be referred to as ‘large, unavoidable parts’ of flancer life. It would give them a pointlessly disproportionate amount of column space.  A bit like saying ‘Crikey, breathing, eh? My week is literally riddled with it.’  It’s a given. IT. IS. Pointless.

Nope, for flancers R&D are par-for-the course. The day-to-day. The NORM. Once, in the early days, dismay at their omnipresence may have been given supplementary airtime, back when enough Reality hadn’t yet occurred to usurp  positivity and optimism. Which, once dispensed with, left holes that were swiftly and expertly plugged by cynicism and pint glasses of rose.


The work is out there. Somewhere. And thus, hope can never truly die for the flancer – it simply languishes in a hospice surrounded by undrunk Lucozade.  And as any scientist that has placed electrodes on a rodent knows, the eternal promise of possible reward keeps intelligent life forms endlessly anticipating them.  Although it is arguably much easier overall to eventually obtain Red Leicester from a maze than obtain a commission from The Guardian Life&Style section. I know. I’ve tried.

Let’s stick with the laboratory analogy. The bell is traditionally Pavlovian and ironically it is with this that flancers associate with potential reward.  Email, front door, telephone, mobile: excitement ensues because all of these bells could mean WORK or MONEY. Or that you are a Labrador.

Hazards include:  the microwave, someone on the telly ringing a bell, your budgie’s mirror toy, the local landlord calling time (if you have phenomenal batlike audio capabilities)  or a person going past on a bike wishing to alert pedestrians to their presence. None of which mean work but will set off hope fuelled adrenaline and possibly the need to cry afterwards.

When it is one of the former, however, there will be much whooping and running out to the shed to see if there is a rifle you can fire into the air like an Afghan rebel. Or failing that, a car you can drive to the local Tesco car park for the executing of tarmac-burning joy donuts. Or perhaps a hairy mammal you can sacrifice on a fire to the Goddess of Professional Interest who has been too busy washing her hair and watching X-Factor lately to stop by much. She should by all accounts be omniscient, but The Goddess of PI just prefers directing her infinate attentions  away from you and at her leave-in conditioner and Gary Barlow. Which is fair enough really as he was always in charge of the boring end of the Take That stick and deserves a bit of Divine interest. Yay!  

Unfortunately for him, this is all made up in my head. If you’re reading Gary, sorry.*

Barlow: Only interesting to made-up, preternatural Divinities. And his accountant.

But  within seconds your hopes are shattered. Rather like Gary’s were just then. The doorbell  will have been that mad woman in all the mascara who owes your dad money because her mother backed her mobility scooter over the dog. The ‘phone was your nanna who thought she was phoning the hospital for a repeat prescription on her diabetes tablets (hours wasted due to her deafness and that deeply ingrained suspicious nature of the elderly convincing her that you were not her grand-daughter at all but a deliberatley obstrictive receptionsist. ‘Because the NHS are like that’.)  The email was notification that ‘@hotpants99  is now following you on twitter!’

And the person going by on their bike didn’t have a commission for you either. You checked.


*These somewhat eccentric examples of epic celebration are not definitive and may vary from flancer to flancer

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No.70: Help a family member

When there’s nothing else to do except eat and cry your way through your perpetual lack of employment sabbatical, it’s sometimes a relief to do things for other people that would usually make you go ‘JESUS H. CRUMBS CAN’T YOU SEE I’M BUSY!?!’

Right about now however, even Stevie Wonder in a backwards balaclava can see that you haven’t been busy for about 18 months and so assisting in your father’s removal of rotting leaves from the conservatory guttering and backing his car into the garage offer a welcome escape from listening to politicians talking about how ‘disgusting and unacceptable’ the London rioting is. And other variants on the words ‘disgusting’ and ‘unacceptable’. This is why they are doing absolutely nothing. All their physical energy and time has been channelled into ferreting through Thesauruses 24/7.

‘How about ‘we cannot countenance?’

‘Nah.  Boris used that yesterday.’


‘Too coarse.’

‘Beyond the pale?’

‘I LOVE it.’


I digress. One of this bloggers favourite things to do when otherwise doing shit-all, is help out in her sister’s excellent hairdressing salon. As luck would have it, she owns an old-school-still-offers-perms type salon as opposed to those shiny chrome-and-house-music heavy ‘studios’ called ‘KUTZ’ or ‘STYULZZZ’  where all the aphonic staff are given pay rises based on a pout and weight loss sliding scale. And can only cut your hair so that you look like the drummer from an emoband.

Directional: but ridiculous on a 3-dimensional human

Sweeping up bits that have been shaved off other people is satisfying and slightly sickening at the same time. Like squeezing out ingrowns from your bikini line or sitting though a whole episode of ‘Police, Camera, Action.’  But better than that is What Old Ladies Talk About. One, a 68 year- old woman, feared getting fag ash on her i-pad and  her online Solitaire habit (“I only smoke menthols though dear, they’re not so bad for you, are they?”). Meantimes,  her 74- year old husband – renamed Mr Teak due to his year round Menorcaised hue – is bemoaning how long it regularly takes to load his Facebook page from behind the latest copy of Reveal.

The one-liners you catch whilst passing through en route to the kitchen for yet more tea are superb. Honestly, you couldn’t make them up (and believe me my dear readers* – I haven’t.)

‘Oh yes, the end of her nose is fake. A Jack Russell bit it off’

 ‘There were 4 lesbians in here last week. It wasn’t as glamorous as it sounds.’

Lady 1: ‘He’s my best mate you know.’  Lady 2: ‘Except that time he sent you a text , saying he wished you were dead.’

‘She fell in the gap between the bed and the wardrobe.  Paramedics needed a sling to get her out. She was there until 4am. Literally wedged.

‘My grandad drank all the Sambucca and started harping on about his sex life’

Lady1: ‘My mate did this tattoo for me at home.’  My sister: ‘Ooh lovely. It’s a flower!’  Lady 1: ‘No, it’s a red indian’s head.’ My sister: ‘…would have been my second guess.’

And so on. I was especially fond of the fierce middle-aged woman that worked the Debenhams perfume counter and saw off a serial flasher by squirting his nob with CKOne.  ‘I hope it stung’ she snapped from underneath a magnificent crown of highlight foils.

Add to this the chap with 5 strands of hair and a crush on the junior stylist who pops in to book in a trim once a week and then runs away when anyone speaks to him. Oh, and the man who regularly pops by wearing nothing but a tee-shirt. Even in winter. Much to the concern of the ladies who – despite the fact there’s a bloke there with his John Travolta swinging free – care only about the pneumonia risk.

Once he’s back off-of his holidays (and so on), David ‘extra from a televised Jilly Cooper adaptation’ Cameron could do with visiting the nation’s hairdressing salons for a bit of policy inspiration. Therein lies the sort of  blue-sky thinking you’d pay middle-aged men who would like to pro-create with a whiteboard, tens of thousands of pounds a year for. The London riots, the NHS, care homes, the death penalty (most wouldn’t hesitate to erect makeshift gallows for the teenagers continually kicking their footballs against the side of the garage during Emmerdale), how to manufacture dog poo bags your finger won’t go through. All of it is covered amongst the roar of dryers and Radio 1.   

Actually, they should scrap the whole Tory party and just move my sister’s clients into parliament. Food for thought Mr Rupert Campbell-Black,  food for thought indeed.  And at least they’ll all have Newsnight-ready ‘dos.


*I am aware this plural is a little optimistic.

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No.69: Gut Your Purse

Might as well. The only other thing left to do is try to find an innovative way of hiding the hole in your opaque tights (an old colleague of mine used to colour in the exposed skin with a black felt-tip) or clean the hairs out of your brush (not a euphemism).

Unfortunately, most of what comes out of your purse will be pretty damning material evidence for the prosecution in the ongoing;  ‘you’re actually spaffing it on elevenses!’ vs ‘no, really, I am poorer than a church mouse’ trial.  It may also conclusively demonstrate that in the last month you actually had enough money to put a deposit down on a flat. But now Starbucks and the bank where Heat and Reveal put all their money are in joint possesion your  deposit. You can forgive the mags (you have to, they might commission you), but you always knew Starbucks were bastards.

There’ll also be a 2nd class stamp. Everyone has one somewhere. One that cheekily escaped the franking machine, gleefully ripped off the envelope in that  state of gleeful-ness that skint people express whenever they think the Goddess of Luck has popped by for a bit (she also leaves half a packet of cigarettes on top of a slot machine sometimes. Or places a miserable student on a till who is so lethargic they can’t even effectively scan the barcode on a packet of turkey drummers. Result!)…sorry, back to the stamp thing – yeah, you’d have spent about  37 seconds wondering how to get it off the bit of envelope it’s stuck to. Then abandoned the whole caper and gone for coffee. With those thieving, flat-stealing, life ruining, bean-roasting fuckers at Star-bastard-Bucks.

Other detritus may include a bus ticket from 1990, a Computers For Schools Voucher (see post 61 and now the second most useless piece of paper after the Euro note.)  And probably a flancer shopping list written in a pen you stole from a betting shop:  





Which has about as much point as Kerry Katona’s  daily to-do list:

Get up

Poke tongue out at a pap

Go to bed

 But making lists is a necessary part of flancer time wasting life and therefore must be done.

There may also be a mysterious receipt for over 90£ and you cannot for the life of you remember what it was for. ‘Smith & Co.? Who are Smith & Co?’ This dilemma will completely immobilise you for 5 days. ‘What on earth did I spend £94.50 on?’ You will wonder aloud until everyone in your household wants to slap your stupid, bemused face. ‘£94.50?’ It’s a lot of money. What was I thinking? What was that for? £94.50?’ and so on, like your nan when she gets on one about where she put her glasses down in March last year.

Oh, there will be no money in your purse whatsoever.