Hello! I’m abandoning football commentary to put some new writing up. I’ve been writing a show to record and then put out as a free podcast. So here’s the first 5 pages… See what you think! Incidently I should mention I’ve not looked at spelling and grammar and it’s written as it is to be performed not read! Cheers – Comments at the bottom!
When I was 15 I read ‘1984’.
We were in English, English Literature, the start of our final year of secondary school, after that out into the real world, a world of excitement and fun, free from rules about corridor walking, blazer wearing and workbook covering. No more pedantic rules and pointless regulations breaking us down from savages into responsible members of society.
We would soon escape, carefree and happy.
It was October, an unseasonally cold October, and, four weeks into the new term, the 1950s classrooms with their tall single glazed windows were cold, freezing cold. Ice gathered on the inside of the glass, shoes squelched from autumn rain and the sniffs and coughs of teenage flu flowed invisibly throught the air. In the morning you’d pretend to smoke the vapour on your breath, while in the afternoon, radiators stoked to burning, the scent of teenage body odours, Lynx Africa and damp shoes would waft down the corridors.
The teacher came in from the stock cupboard, a cardboard box filled with yellowing well-leafed books, inscribed with messages from past readers, ‘Miss G sucked off Mr F’, ‘Amy L for John D’ or ‘Simon P is a bumder,’all spelt wrong, accompanied by illustrations of mis-shapen ejaculating dicks with hairy balls and smiley one-eyed faces.
The teacher, ‘Miss Richardson’, married for over 25 years and still regretting becoming a teacher handed out the battered, grease-stained books as the class murmured its disapproval.
New doodles were started, new incriptions made, old inscriptions modified and updated, spellings incorrectly corrected.
Cries of dismay in broad accents echoed around the room.
“Looks shit miss”
“How many pages!?!”
“Mine’s missin’ pages”
I looked down at the sorry-looking booking on my desk, it was the book that was to change my life, ‘1984’ by George Orwell.
I’d never been a book person up until that point, I was a comic man. I devoured comics. Heroes beating up villains, good overcoming evil, tight costumes showing every ripple of muscle and breast. Batman, Spiderman, X-Men, and when noone was looking Wonderwoman.
I also loved TV, even though it was rubbish, five channels, with the fifth, never spoken about in our household, filled with pornography, football and Nazi stories, often in disturbing combination and rationed like a precious commodity by my parents.
I loved watching them, Jimmy Saville encouraging teenage smoking and shellsuits, Terry Wogan humouring dancing drunks and middle aged women, Anneka Rice encouraging guilty masturbation, Jason & Kylie – who’d have thought it’d never last – the stars of television.
I imagined what their lives must be like, travelling in first class, singing duets on the plane, scores of adulating fans blowing kisses, a camera following me at bottom height whenever I have to run anywhere.
I wanted it, I wanted to be a hero, I wanted to be on TV, to have the glamour, to chat to Terry, laugh at his jokes.
I’m not proud of this – I imagined being a guest on Noel’s House Party.
I was not a book person.
But at that point I found a book that connected with me, excited me, thrilled me and exploded in my imagination.
I imagined Winston’s life, a double life, covertly fighting against the party, a force for good, a force for creativity, peace and love in a grey concrete world under grey concrete skies, undermining the system while shagging Julia in the woods.
I imagined I could be the one to break it down, to overcome adversity, break Big Brother, free my common man, like Winston Smith. A hero.
Of course I never finished the book.
I left it after the sex scene.
I flicked through the final chapters, skirting over the plot for more tittilation.
It was before the internet,
TV was five channels and one was strictly off limits.
The frozen classrooms of October got colder and colder as winter passed into spring. My sixteenth birthday was accompanied by food poisoning, vomitting late into the night, prawns and part-digested salmon littering my pillow.
I had always imagined sixteen would be the age where, upon becoming a man my life would fall into place; I’d suddenly feel comfortable around women, beer would develop a flavour that wouldn’t make me cringe and curse, facial hair would develop from random indescriminate wisps into a moustache of Tom Selleck proportions and, ideally, I’d have been bitten by a radioactive spider.
However teenage body odour and greasy skin complimented by wet look hair gel trailed me like a stalker and, while I discovered jeans for the first time, I combined this with a belief that vivid orange clothing made me quirky and desireable.
Disappointment at school turned to sexual disappointment at college. Sexual disappointment at college led to an unforfilling admin job in a paper warehouse on an industrial estate with nine bitter overweight middle age men and the office totty, a receptionist in her late 50s wearing deep layers of makeup to hide her emerging seams.
The admin department had three of us, myself, the Junior Admin Assistant; the lowest of the low, on a par with unemployed, prisoner and English Lit graduate.
In five to ten years I might become an Admin Assistant, with an extra five hundred pounds in my pocket and a dependency on low grade pornography and kebabs. In a mere twenty I could be a department head, earning nearly two grand more for longer hours spent staring suicidally at my desk stapler every day wondering how many staples it would take to put me out of my misery.
Sadly both these job prospects relied not on skill, ability or training, but instead the premature death of one of my colleagues.
John and Marty, or Big John and McFly as they were known around the firm, had been with the company for twelve and ten years respectively.
John, carrying five stone too much on his stumpy frame, wore large steel framed glasses, yellowing white shirts and comedy ties to prove he wasn’t as dull as he was. He spoke with an undefined north-west accent, the type that cut through silence like a rampaging bull, impaling, goring and destroying any sense of tranquility. He wanted ‘Britain for Brits’ and insisted the ‘the EU, EU right, destroys out good this county ever had’ while hating political correctness and the ‘liberal poofter left.’ He was The Daily Mail personified, and, having been recently divorced, insisted on imparting advice about women, or as he described ‘them snakes and vipers’.
‘Women’ he’d say. ‘Women’, he’d repeat slightly louder, he had problems starting sentences with conviction. ‘Women will suck you dry, not like a blow job or out, suck your soul out, bleed you. I mean they look good on the outside with their tits and arses and legs and tits, but stick with ’em long enough, they’ll break your heart, break it. Like cream cakes.’
John had a habit of relating everything to food since the divorce, ‘they look tasty, they look nice on shelf, granted they taste sweet and when y’have one y’want more, but they’ll fuck you in the end, mark my words, further down the line, they’ll fuck you with cholesterol and that there blood pressure.’
At this point, McFly would interrupt. Until this point he’d have been preoccupied with shredding photos of family members or stapling his hand, then he’d click, ‘Fuck ’em all’.
McFly, named after Back To The Future was the spitting image of the stranger your parents worried about when you were a kid. He looked like Santa’s dirty unfriendly brother who’d made it his life’s work to appear as creepy as possible. From the old leather jacket, to the incessant scratching that released plooms of body odour and sprinklings of body dandruff across his desk, from where it was whisked by a desk fan into my face, causing contortions as I tried to avoid vomiting, he was the nightmare scenario co-worker.
He was a regular to the nightclubs, standing in the corner, staring at eighteen year old girls in short skirts and low-cut tops, fingering the Rhohepnol in his pocket.
Once when he returned from holiday, he discovered his stapler had gone missing, prowling the building he ended up at my desk where he pronounced, ‘whatever cunt has taken my stapler, I will find you, I will find you and I will fucking kill you.’
I later hid the stapler in his desk drawer and prayed he’d meet a sticky end at his own hand.
Sadly I suspect he did.
I’d been there nearly a year when it happened. I woke up one morning like normal, shower, shit, shave, into the wardrobe, clean shirt. It was at that point I paused, and as I paused there, I stared at my ties wondering which would make me more interesting.
I’d love to say that was the moment I knew things had to change. I’d love to say that I walked into work that fateful day, put my tie through the shredder, stamped on the stapler and proclaimed like a hero that I was departing in search of action, in search of adventure, in search of adversity. I’d love to say I left that very day, stormed out, people looking at me saying, he’s a maverick, a firebrand, the office totty looking at me with lust from her withened dried lips.
However it was not to be
Fast-forward three years and I am sat in the same office willing the laser printer to injure me when, in the newspaper, an advert.
‘Need a change of scene?
Need to escape the 9-5?
Want to change your life forever?’
I read it and I thought yes, I need a change of scene, I need to escape the 9-5, my life needs a change.
The advert was for Big Brother.
It was perfect.
Everyone’s seen it, Big Brother, people locked together, people you would never want to meet in real life mostly, observed from every angle with an omnipotent voice to guide them, a sarcastic geordie to judge them and a fitness DVD star to put them out of their misery.
Maybe you’ve watched a series obsessively, dipped in and out, cast judgement on them, read the tabloid articles, placed bets on them, described which you’d most and least like to shag, rung the hotline to save your favourite, followed the kiss and tells, the cheating ex’s, talked about rumours of blowies under the duvets, stayed up late in the hope of a sighting of an uncensored nipple or kinky sex.
You might even remember a few of the people on it. Everyone remembers a few, the cheats, the whores, the creeps, all with their labels, going to the diary room, confessing their inner most feelings to a blank wall and millions of viewers.
The nasty one, the stupid one, the stutterer, tirets, the one who looked a bit like Paris Hilton.
You might even remember me.