Tag Archives: toast

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.


*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.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 post was sponsored by James Joyce.

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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.


*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.48: Clean Your Keyboard

Because it’s satisfying.

(Almost as satisfying as seeing the car – that just ran through a puddle on purpose to soak you  – promptly get it’s wing mirror snapped clean off by a passing bus.  That’s like God has just high-fived you, that is.)

Keyboards are like a food diary.  Not the sort of food diary that Gillian McKeith would encourage you submit to her so that, after consulting a real doctor, she could sniffily diagnose what’s up with your colon. Keyboards are a food diary in the sense that they are – nay – contain – a physical microcosm of everything  that you have absent-mindedly put in your mouth whilst staring   at Facebook/work*/in horror at your online bank statement over the last year.

There will be enough toast crumbs therein to facilitate the reassemblage of a complete six-pack of Tesco’s floury baps, should you be so inclined. And being a bored flancer if you weren’t inclined before, you will be now, this blog having  placed the idea of it in your A.D.D – soaked mind.

There will also emerge a piece of dessicated coconut, a currant, some uncooked rice and a rogue toenail. You will be oddly tempted to eat the currant. Maybe even the toenail.

 Dk.zjf.;KJ ?ghidbnk.jDBN kdBJK /haze5;p43ylonaobvlsdfsdfdf  **

 Once whatever lies beneath the keys has been ejected (traditionally executed by inverting the keyboard, shaking it, stopping, cussing, poking about under the sofa to retrieve the ‘SHIFT’ key for half an hour, stopping for a coffee)  it will be laying  in a strangely satisfying  pile on your desk.  At this point you will notice that (a) you appear to eat rather a lot of dessicated coconut and (b) your letter ‘o’ is working again, thanks to the dislodgement of a totally dehydrated peanut.  This means that you can use the word ‘count’ in official and business emails again.

 Now,  you can commence with the satisfying task of scratching off random blobs of hardened unspecified matter with a paperclip; or – for the purist – perhaps a cotton bud moistened with keyboard cleaning fluid.  Or, for the skank, a fingernail.

And to finish? A cheeky Googling session, just to see if any other losers Electronic Hygiene Enthusiasts out there have deliciously cunning ways to get fluff out of a mouse.

For any animal campaigners reading, I mean the ones you attach to your computer with a wire.

Oh christ, you know what I mean.


*yeah right.

**  Sorry – coffee spill.

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No.42: Cut your Own Hair

Cutting your own hair is an act of supreme risk, rivalling that of poking an angry tiger with a stick after being smeared in antelope meat or showering with a toaster. In this last instance, the coiffeurial result may often be the same.

For flancers of the male persuasion, the risk is somewhat less, as most ‘trendy’ gentleman these days like to wear their hair as if it has been cut with a knife and fork by a blind, thumbless imbecile anyway.

For the ladies however, very bad things can happen to their head, when, in the midst of Murder She Wrote (see post.40) they  decide that they can no longer stare at Jessica Fletcher’s nasty brooches and decide to distract themselves by investigating their split ends.  

The search for a cutting implement begins with a poke about for some very sharp scissors.  And often ends with the scissors being liberated from the sewing kit out of christmas cracker.

It starts with an innocent fringe trim. After an initially promising start the flancer will attempt to emulate the professional finger motions seen used by the likes of professional hair-changers and end up looking like Dave Hill from Slade:

Or Mr. Spock:

Alternatively, the flancer will start on the back. And after a few minutes trying to work out the angles, taking into the account that they are working backwards in a mirror with scissors from a christmas cracker sewing-kit, they will eventually resemble a young Paul Weller:

In real boredom-filled moments, the flancer will attempt something more ‘creative’ and end up with the exact same head furniture as that seen perched upon an Eighties teenager in their passport photo:

A colleague will enquire: ‘um…did you cut your own hair?’ and a hat will promptly be bought and worn for sixteen weeks.

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No.35: Try and See The Good Side of Everything for a Bit

When you’re jobless, bored and glum, attempting to see the deeper meaning in your money/sex/work/point-less  existence can provide the necessary buffer between you and suicide – or worse: going for a job as a telesales person.

Getting existential allows the flancer mind (exhausted from thinking up reasons why you – the flancer – are fundamentally a waste of good amino acid chains) to take a well-earned sabbatical  from the sort of self-pity that would have a Samaritan frantically  mouthing – ‘TELL. HER. I’M. OUT.’ across the desk to their colleague who picked up your call without thinking.   Now, it can direct its flagging energies into forming esoteric reasons as to why you haven’t been commissioned since the invention of the telephone.

‘I have no work,’ smiles the flancer from his/her place of spiritual connection (the armchair in front of CSI:NY) ‘because the universe is preparing me for something more significant.’

What this ‘significant’ thing  might be, tends to remain unspecified, as God hates to spoil one’s roll by appearing in a dream pointing his large finger at a dole queue.  He will generally refrain from getting too involved, preferring to graciously leave such things to the flancer’s happy imaginings, in order to retain his position as the all-loving, all-giving Holy Spirit. A sort of Barak Obama of the heavens, if you will.

After this epiphany, the flancer will start (irritatingly) seeing every event as an indicator that popular recognition and financial abundance awaits them around every letter from the bank demanding they come in for a serious talking to.

In some ways this is good: the flancer will stop moping about and maybe even wash their tracksuit bottoms. And in some ways it is very bad: they will give the nice lady at Natwest bank the finger, safe in the assumption that – overdraft be hanged! – the Universe is on their side (and looks a bit  like Liam Neeson in Batman Begins) and it’s all going to turn out perfectly within 48-hours.

Fortunately, this breed of uncharacteristic rampant positivity generally only lasts about 48 hours anyway and so when Natwest send a really nasty letter threatening court action, the flancer doesn’t feel let down by anyone in any way whatsoever – be it the Universe or Liam Neeson.

However, if this is happening to a flancer you know and their positivity lasts longer than 48-hours, seek medical help. Because when  they suddenly start seeing the face of Mary Magdalene in their Marmite on toast, they are generally only a phone call away from becoming a Mormon.

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No.21: Take up Jogging

Here’s a flancer-based equation:  

30% of your day sitting down +  30% being paranoid + 15 % innate A.D.D + 15% over-active imagination +10% ability to self-delude  =  take up jogging for one day a month.

On this one, epic day, the flancer will have woken up having decided that their indolent life path can only end in morbid obesity. That they can delude themselves no longer that ‘Five- a -Day’ in fact refers to fruit and vegetables,  not cigarettes, cups of coffee or visits to YouTube.  They will look in the mirror, observe mournfully the toast and cake crumbs and on their (topshop.com)  jumper from the day before, smell the Marlboro aroma of their unwashed hair and an epiphany will occur (after a short breakdown).  Everything that is wrong with their lives can be solved by going out and JOGGING.  A sudden, desperate need descends to join the ranks of happy, healthy humans whose circulation actually works and who move about outdoors (and not just to get to the car).   They want a piece of this happiness! And without further ado they put their trainers on, walk to the  car and drive to the shops to buy something to jog in.

At first glance, a Flancer’s wardrobe could be mistaken for the wardrobe of somebody that keeps fit anyway. Do not be fooled:  countless tracksuit bottoms (you can’t sit and write in a suit, for god sake), heat-packs (sitting = lumbar problems), water bottles (came free with the bulk-buy tracksuit bottoms), maybe a yoga mat (a Christmas present), small dumbbells (a fad) and such like.  Flancers never use any of it for it’s intended purpose because generally flancers are crap at sport. Rather than admit this, they will ardently insist that this slothish lifestyle of drinking and smoking is par for the course of creativity; observe! those Rive Gauche, artsy hipster-types! They spend months indoors eating nothing but Gauloises on toast and they produce masterpieces!  But this is simply obfuscating bullshit and if you point it out to them, they will probably cry, nod regretfully and on their next trip to the supermarket buy loads of bottled water and Ryvita.

Anyway, once they have returned from buying kit, the flancer will often discover that all the energy they had for jogging has been used up by going out and queuing in JD Sports for a whole twenty minutes.  The real fighters, however put on the kit and go for a walk. To the shop.  For fags. But the obsessives will warm up (which will traditionally resemble something that Mad Lizzie off-of Good Morning Britain used to do. Because people who never exercise resort to 80s-style  warm-up techniques* for some reason) and set off, after first taking fifteen minutes deciding whether to take their key, hide it under the door mat, put it in their sock or just leave the front door open so the paramedics can get in when they come back with them on a stretcher.

Then comes the other dilemma:  do you take your mobile in case (a) you get lost or (b) you end up in the local ghetto with no strength left to run from the yoots? Or, the real reason. (c) to call someone to pick you up.  By this time it will be dark. 

The flancer will set off, soon reaching the 200m mark. At this point, initial smugness is replaced by chest pains and the onset of migraine. Anger and hatred arrives at the 400 m mark.   And at half a kilometer the flancer is praying a bus will come along to throw themselves under to make it stop.

At least then they will get a lift back. Who cares if it’s in an ambulance?


*namely star-jumps, side bends or anything from group-exercise sessions at Butlins holiday camps Circa. 1981. Kinda like this only less choreographed  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SeMJOPlK-0E

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No. 17: Suffer a Crisis of Confidence

Oh y’know.  When you’ve been blown off by every commissioning editor in the land and hate every, pointless, unfunny, crappy, lame, idiotic thing you’ve ever produced and have only not hacksawed your own hands off because clearly you can’t do anything RIGHT.


‘Artistes’ love a bit of emo-drama which you would know of course,  if you’ve ever watched a film about a composer/author/musician/thingy.   There’s always a crisis point which ends up with aforementioned artist-type destroying reams of their work, smashing up a piano or setting fire to something they have built because either no-one’s interested, they got a bad review or they ran out of bread for toast this morning and it was the last straw.  That last one has certainly had me repainting the kitchen in anger on more than one occasion. 

Unfortunately for many artistes, nobody ever really gives their tantrums credence, because they know this person has skills and therefore  toy-out-of-pram episodes are regularly dismissed as brazen attempts at attention and ego-patting.  Indeed, I for one would tell JK Rowling to ‘sod off and count her millions’ if she ever tried to pull a snotty lip wobbler anywhere near me.  Alas, many flancers do not have buckets of cash with which to soothe their artistically frustrated soul and so may I beg a tad more patience on their behalf?  Especially if you are the partner/house mate of one of these sorry beings and are constantly awoken at 4am to receive a cold shower of unbridled self-pity.  Simply give your flancer a hug, make them a cup of coffee and remind them that:

1. JK Rowling got turned down by ten publishers before she got her break.

2.That commissing editor A was an idiot. Editor B and C loved your work.

If this doesn’t work, try:

3.It’s 4am.

And if they still haven’t calmed down, it is likely they are playing the attention-seekers card. So go with:

4. If you do this again I am going to move out.

One of those should do the trick.

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No.11: Seek Food

Despite having hours and hours of free time in which to go to the supermarket, flancers never, ever have any food in the house.  After their email inbox, the fridge is the second most depressing thing a flancer can open due to lack of exciting content. It is difficult to describe the depression that descends when, after deciding to console yourself over another work-free morning with a coffee and a nice piece of cheese on toast you discover that you don’t have any bread, cheese, milk or coffee. Find the flancer that can console themselves with a steaming mug of boiled water and you will be in the presence of the happiest, richest flancer in the world.  But for the majority, all your cupboard has to offer is; Ryvita*, powdered milk, a jar of sweetner (which you momentarily consider adding to boiling water but then write this off as the most depressing thing in the world), assorted dried goods, a tin of flageolet beans and a Christmas Pudding** that has been there since 1990. 

If you are fortunate enough to flatshare, general practice is to then storm your flatty’s food-stores is search of  edible booty that’ll see you through this fuel crisis. However, one is rarely blessed with a house buddy that spends every other day at Tescos  (because she has a full-time job – unlike you) and so this sly comestible looting generally yields only half a tube of tomato puree, a rotting leek and an egg of dubious age. After cursing her name for being so disorganised, you then start getting desperate and tearfully poke right at the back of the cupboards to see if a packet of biscuits or some chocolates from last christmas got pushed down the back. Which there never is. And you should know this because you were in exactly this situation three days ago.

At this point, your blood sugar has hit rock bottom, all you have to eat is toothpaste and so you call a parent/guardian/older sibling***, sobbing about  how depressed you are that you have no career, no prospects and that you just ate a bowl of pasta with an oxo cube dissolved in it. Hopefully they will make reassuring noises, put some money in your bank account and mid-way through the conversation you will remember that there is *definitely* a packet of Malteasers in your handbag which you had forgotten about.

There is a God.



*Nobody eats Ryvita. But everybody has a packet.

**You want it to be cake: and it so almost is, that it makes you even more depressed.

***Who, their secretary tells you, will have to call you back because they are in a meeting. At their full-time, salary paying job of work. Which makes you cry a little bit more.

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No.10: Feng Shui your work Space

Here’s a fact: Ideas are not like buses and when you haven’t had one for ages, three will not turn up at once.  And as many jaded, unwashed  flancers, wreaking of Java will vehemently point out (whether asked or no, at any opportunity) great ideas become increasingly harder  to pluck out of the air (if The Marlboro fug that constantly surrounds a flancer’s head like some sort of cancerous perm can be termed as such) the longer you are in the business.   Consequently, having exhausted every prosaic route of idea generation it isn’t uncommon for the flancer to have a sneaky dabble in the <esoteric>.

These days almost everyone has heard of  Feng Shui.   However, if you have been cruelly denied a life of daytime television, it is the Japanese practice of placing one’s domestic shiz in a certain mystical formation in order to allow Chi* to flow round the coffee table and into the ‘love quadrant’ or ‘money quadrant’ depending on what you feel needs some serious Chi-ing up. And of course, Feng Shui-ing your workspace in a certain way (ie. further away from the  toaster and coffee maker. Probably.) can increase your creative capacity so much that before long you’re be vomiting out novels like the love-child of Jilly Cooper and PD James. Publishing whispers have it that some ‘eccentric’ magazine editors are so dedicated to this idea of genius mystically springing up once a certain pot plant has been re-housed, that when starting in a new, un Feng Shuied** office, they create merry hell by having walls ripped out, doors boarded up and small mechanised fountains added to every stationary cupboard. One editor apparently gets her hair Feng Shuied in order to maximise Chi flow to the brain.***  

However, as most normal media types are desperately cynical when it comes to the creative process, they will never admit to having FS-ed anything. A good test is to,  when visiting their workspace, casually comment on the unusual placement of a small plastic aquarium by their laptop.  You could bet a whole pound that they will casually exclaim: ‘oh! Some friend of mine is into Feng Shui and put it there saying it would improve my income.’  Now deviously move said aquarium. You can bet a jade tortoise that they will surreptitiously  shift it back when you’re off trying to find where they’ve had the toilet moved to so that it’s now in the ‘career quadrant’.


*This is ‘Life Force’. The plural of Chi, might be Cheese. But probably isn’t.

 **Not the most comfortable of verbs, granted.

***But perhaps I made this up.

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