Day 257: The one thing you’re most ashamed of.

I had potential and I squandered it. All through secondary school, I was one of the cleverest kids in the classroom and so I could coast and still get good grades. After that it was on to sixth form where I also chose to coast. What did I have to lose, after all? Nothing. The grades came easily, good enough to get where I wanted to go to university so what was the point in pushing for anything more?

Then I went to uni and it all seemed the same. I went to lectures where they taught the same thing as A-Levels and I thought to myself ‘This is easy.” I was right. So once more, I decided that I could coast.

Then second year rolled around. I assumed it would be much the same as first year, with everything falling neatly into place and minimal studying time to interrupt my fun. I was wrong.

I managed not to fail that year, but it did cause me trouble. All of a sudden I wasn’t the cleverest person in the room, I was the one begging for scraps at everybody else’s academic table. I was lost, confused and as such my work went downhill again in third year. The same third year that I had to repeat.

I managed to claw my way through my second attempt at third year. Somehow, I came out with a degree. But it wasn’t without realising that I wasn’t the best in the room and that I wasn’t alone.

I dug myself a deep hole over my time at university. I’m not saying that I regret going, as a lot of good things came from it, but I have certainly put myself onto the back foot for my life to come.

On the positive side, I’m getting out of the hole. I’m on my way out of it and the sky has never looked so expansive. The future is wide open and mine for the taking.

All of this is true. It has taken me quite some time to accept these things, but now I’m getting there. Only with the tireless help of my family and friends, but I’m getting there.

So if you’re struggling with anything, drop me an email. I’ll listen and I’ll respond as best I can. I make no promises and I don’t pretend to be a counsellor, but if you just want to get things off your chest I’ll listen. 

The Idiot in Tin Foil

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Day 248: Where will you be exactly one year from this moment?

 

One o’clock on Boxing Day morning? Hopefully, I’ll be right where I am now. In bed, writing Day 613 of this blog. (Unless, of course, I’ve gotten my act together by then and have started writing my blogs earlier in the day. I’m dubious, but who knows?) I’ll probably be in the same place, the sofa bed of my girlfriend’s mum’s living room, as she slowly begins to snore beside me. She says she’s going to read, but I can hear her breathing as it becomes more laboured, the pages turning slower and slower until I can practically see the zzzz flowing from her.

I’ll think back across this day, this year. I’ll consider all the things that have happened to get me to where I am, much like I am doing now. I’ll be in the home stretch of the blog, heading towards a hopefully satisfactory end. I’ll have moved away from my mother’s house, the woman who has cared for me and looked out for me, even when I had convinced myself that I was right (it often turns out that she is), choosing instead to venture to pastures new. It is both terrifying and exciting, but by then it should be routine. That’s the hardest idea for me to fathom.

All of these changed won’t be changes in exactly a year’s time. It will all be as it has always been. But I’m not afraid. I’m genuinely looking forward to this challenge to come.

So, I will not skulk in the shadow of Fate. I choose instead to stride boldly into my future. Towards everything the same and everything that’s changed. I’d like you to do the same.

What’s going to change for you? What’s going to be the same? Perhaps your kids will go to university, or college? You’ll marry, you’ll move, you’ll break up. Who knows, perhaps you’ll revolutionise the planet! Either way, there is nothing to be afraid of. Better instead to greet the future like a friend. Sure, it’s your weird friend who turns up out of the blue and insists that you go to that bar and drink ALL of those tequilas, but when’s the last time you didn’t have a good night with that friend? Except Lisbon. We don’t talk about Lisbon.

Now, have I gone off track? Probably. But I don’t care. I’ve had a great Christmas. Time to raise a glass,

To the future,

The Idiot in Tin Foil

P.S. Let me know what’s going to change for you guys! I’m curious what futures lie ahead for you.

Merry Christmas all. I hope it was as fun as mine!

Day 238: Share that embarrassing story your relatives always tell about you.

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I had, as a child, a tendency to fall asleep in my dinner. Nobody was entirely sure why, the main theories involved the act of chewing being rhythmic enough to send me right away to cloud cuckoo land.

Now, there isn’t one specific incident of this. Oh no, this was a regular event. I’m talking, nearly every mealtime. My favourite time, according to the family, was when the dish involved was nice and saucy, something like chilli or a nice spaghetti bolognese.

Forkful goes in, then chew, chew, chewwww… Face first into the bowl.

I was a goddamn cool kid.

Thankfully, I’ve gotten over this and can pay attention for an entire meal now. A whole drink however… That’s a little more tricky.

Just a short one to finish today, but we’re back on track. I’m not kidding either, my family love telling people this story. Along with showing photos of me as a kid, with adorable curly blonde hair. 

Heaven only knows what happened to me. 

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 231-ish: The last time you changed your mind about something important

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I could feel my eyelids drooping, a combination of the time and the heat in the car. I looked across to see the sign letting me know that Oxford services was coming up.

“I could push on…”

I shook my head and flicked the indicator down to come off. I hate driving tired, especially in winter. Dark nights and long hours do not make for a functional me. A good, responsible decision.

I parked up, went inside. Stood in the queue for Subway for a while, looking at my fellow late night travellers. Man speaking angrily into his phone, still in his business suit ranting about the roadworks.He was declaring his hatred for everything to do with them, clearly continuing a conversation that had been going on for a while. I could imagine the harried wife on the other end of the phone, in her dressing gown. Probably enjoying a large glass of wine to deal with this angry man.

I paused, then decided I couldn’t take his ranting any more. I looked down the frontages to see that there was no queue at Burger King, so decided to move over there. The young lady behind the counter looked at me with a sad smile as she took my order. At this point I was too tired to ask her what was wrong. I just headed back to my car with my burger and my coffee, both piping hot.

I got in and started my engine, feeling the rumble pass up through my body. I pushed my foot down onto the clutch, rested my hand against the gearstick… Then stopped the engine again. I thought I’d just give it twenty minutes or so before I moved on. I could still feel my eyelids relenting under the weight of the day, so I forced the food into my face before closing my eyes for ten minutes.

I woke up disoriented, but relaxed. Now, now I could continue on. I started up the car, waiting for a little while while the condensation disappeared from the windows. I was on my way again.

The car ate up the miles easily and I quickly reached the roadworks the shouty man had been going on about, all the traffic being forced into one lane down from three. I pulled in and sighed, accepting my fate to be stuck in traffic. I saw the van pull in behind me, coming to a stop.

Everything stayed like that for a moment.

Then, time slowed. I heard the bang and my eyes flashed to the rear view mirror. I saw the van jump into the air and realised there was nothing I could do. I braced up, then the van hit.

Time rushed back in quickly after that, leaving me with my head spinning and traffic streaming past. If only I hadn’t stopped…

So, here we are. The reason there have been no posts for the last two days are because events occurred as I describe them here. However, everyone involved is okay, just shaken like a cocktail in a James Bond film. 

Once again, I return to a favourite theme of mine. That small things we choose to do affect other things in our lives. In this case, even swapping from the Subway queue to go and eat at Burger King affected the events that occurred later on. I wanted to show that, and hope that I have. Changing my mind about continuing on, about where to eat… It all led to that moment.

Just to reassure, I am okay and intend to be back on track by tomorrow night. Wish me luck!

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 220: Tell the story of a time you lost an argument

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Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like you to meet Chester. He’s a Golden Labrador, weighs in at about 75 pounds if he’s stayed out of the food bag and I swore blind before I got him that I didn’t want him.

I told Sarah, my wife, that we were not getting a dog. We actually had a blazing row about it, I’m talking the whole nine yards. I told her that it was a stupid idea, we could barely afford to keep ourselves and the flat at the time, let alone a living breathing creature that would eat its bodyweight in food. What would we do while we were at work, I asked.

She told me she was planning on quitting her job and focusing on her art. I hit the roof. This was the first I’d heard about this plan and I thought it was ridiculous. Art? Art? Art was for those losers who smoked pot throughout college while we were doing proper work. Don’t get me wrong, I support her and I thought it was a great hobby. But to do it as a career?

I actually stormed out. I remember, it was absolutely pissing it down with rain that night. Dark and stormy to say the least, but definitely not as enjoyable as the cocktail. I must have walked for a mile before I realised how stupid I was being. I planned out my arguments, reasonably and sensibly. I thought about how I’d have to look for a better paid job in order to pay for us both until she made it.

I got back and she’d already poured me a glass of wine. She told me that all we had to do was go and look at the dogs. Then we talked, for hours. I knew she’d been unhappy at work for a while, but I didn’t realise quite how bad it was. She told me she hoped it would push me as well, seeing as I was wasted on an entry level position.

It was the most we’d talked in months and it felt so much better to get it off our chests.

We made an appointment to go to the dogs home on Saturday. I swore to myself that we’d not get a dog. We had a small spat about it on the way there.

We came to a compromise in the end.

We got Chester.

So, this is similar to a conversation I had earlier today, but I’m the one who desperately wants the dog. Unfortunately, with my job and my life how they are at the moment, there will be no adorable animals in my near future. But soon enough, mwahahahahaha. 

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 219: Describe a person you see every day

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Dark circles surround his sunken eyes as he stares at the screen. He raises a hand with prominent veins marshalled by the tendons and places it against his marginally stubbly chin. The stubble is the result of three days of saying “I can shave in the morning” but then getting up a full hour after his alarm goes off. He pushes his chin slowly to one side, easing it across until he hears the loud crack that means his neck will feel less stiff for ninety seconds.

His shoulders drop in relief. He moves the hand that was on his chin through his untidy brown hair, pulling it out on the top before leaving it in its untidy state. His eyes shift to the corner of the screen where 01:39 stares accusingly at him. He yawns as it does, apologising to himself that he once again hasn’t got that early night.

He reaches forward with a hand, meaning to close the laptop, when inspiration strikes. All aches and pains are forgotten and his eyes burn with intensity that he hasn’t seen in days. His fingers, long and slender as if meant for a wholly different kind of keyboard, begin to fly across the keys, words forming on the blank page before him. He writes and he writes and he writes, pausing only to accuse his muse of sleeping on the job but thanking her for reappearing when he needed her most.

He lifts a hand to his mouth, running dirty fingernails across his chapped lips. A deep sniff, then he leans back to observe his handiwork.

He speaks, with a low tenor voice. “That’s shit.”

I should know this person well. I see him in the mirror every day. 

I didn’t skip a day! Please, check out Day 218 because it is there, it just got posted late. Oops. 

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 217: Imagine yourself at age eighty. What would you tell yourself?

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I opened my eyes and blinked. I could feel last night’s whiskey screaming in my brain, pushing against my skull like a particularly irritated swarm of bees. It felt like I’d been sleeping under a rock for a few days, a particularly heavy one. You know, the type that are in the weird formations and look like they should fall over any second. I curled my toes, hearing them click one by one, before moving up to my fingers, flexing then curling them, trying to ease the aches. My head rolled to the left, drooping over my chin before rolling over to the right with a violent crack.

The harsh light of day, during its violent attack, revealed my surroundings. Wasn’t anywhere I recognised. A lot of oak panelling. Much more than I’d expect to see kicking around student digs. Last thing I remember was shots of Bell’s with a chaser of Jack in… Spoons? Tiger? One of those places with the cheap drinks and the low syllable names that are easiest to say when you’re hammered.

I’m getting too old for this.

There are pictures on the wall, the classic graduation shots of kids at uni. One or two family photos. Where the hell have I woken up? Please tell me I didn’t pull another mum…

My arms feel like they’re made of lead and string simultaneously as I try to heave myself up off the floor. Whoever I did go home with clearly didn’t think very highly of me, seeing as I’m lying on the laminate without a blanket or a pillow in sight. No wonder my neck feels like it’s about to snap.

“Hey! Who the fuck are you?” I looked up to see an elderly man holding a shotgun. It’s far more terrifying than it seems. You’d think an old guy would be endearing, maybe even cuddly. This guy wasn’t.

He was six foot tall, maybe, with a shock of white hair. His arms were clearly visible through the fabric of the military t-shirt he was wearing, still strong even at the age he was. Somewhere between sixty-five and practically dead was my guess. Still, that shotgun wasn’t moving an inch.

“I said, who the fuck are you?” He moved toward me with strong steps. Shouldn’t old people be shuffling around hospital wards with sticks?

“Look, man. Please put the gun away. I’ve got a full bladder and no idea how I got here. My head’s pounding and I’m liable to make a mess of your nice wooden floor if you keep pointing a deadly thing at me.” I said with perfect eloquence. In my head.

In real life, things played out a little differently. I got as far as the word please, then proceeded to vomit all over this guys floor. I heard him say some expletives followed by calloused hands on my shoulders, then I passed out.

As it turns out, it’s a pretty standard meeting between you and your eighty year old self. The easiest way to travel is when you don’t know where you’re going.

Fun times today. I think it would be fun for your first words between you and yourself at eighty to be “Who the fuck are you?”

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 175: Write from this quote from Claude Levi-Strauss, “I am the place in which something has occurred.”

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I am the place in which something has occurred.

The tiniest seed of an idea has taken to the fertile soil of my mind. It is one of many cast, though most land amongst the rocks and stones and sand. This one, however, lands in the patch of healthy soil. It is not too acidic or alkaline, no poison coursing through it. Everything is just right.

It sends roots out through the crevasses and pathways of my brain, exploring the mysteries and seeking out the waters of nourishment that lie within. The idea is fed, then it twists and turns to gain a more solid grounding. It will take more than a couple of whiskies, or the following hangover, to dislodge this idea.

The plant is bursting from the shell of the little seed now, pushing the initial kernel our until the pressure is too much and the green begins to show. Slowly, it works its way to the surface, no longer hidden inside but showing its face to the world through word and deed. Phrases amongst friends, such as ‘I’ve had this idea…’ and ‘What do you think of this?’, become common in their usage as the plant decides on its ability to survive. It checks all incoming attacks and remains resilient.

The plant has broken through the surface now and is crying out to the sun. The rays of the sun, unconscious of the little plant thirsting below, feed it nonetheless. All that information, flowing from sources like the internet, the media, conversations on the bus all hammering down and nurturing that seed into the flower, the bush, the tree that it can be.

My idea stands in all its splendour, stretching high into the sky, out into the world. This is the thing that has occurred.

I am the place in with something has occurred.

You are also the place in which something has occurred. What is your thing that has occurred?

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 173: You are going to appear on a talk show. The producer comes backstage to elicit a funny story that the host should focus on. Write the story like a monologue you’re giving on national TV.

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I fell off a building once.

No, I’m serious. I fell off a building.

I should probably go back to the beginning. It started, as most of the best stories do, with a drink. I’d gone to a friend’s Pokemon themed birthday party in all my fancy dress, where we had proceeded to play drinking games like Never Have I Ever and all that.

 

The evening progressed out into town, we went to a few clubs and ended up in the traditional night closer, the grotty club where you stick to the floor, the lights don’t come on until five in the morning. The drinks are cheap, probably because half of them are all over the aforementioned floor and the only songs they can play are the big cheesy numbers from the nineties. The drink kept flowing and I danced, loved it and lost all of my friends.

So, I decided to go looking for them. I checked upstairs and downstairs, no sign of them. Eventually, I decided they must have gone outside.

I did later find out that they hadn’t gone anywhere and were right behind me, but that’s beside the point.

So, I’m outside the club. I look to my left and there’s a line of people still trying to get in. To my right is a line of people who have already been in and want to get back in. This is when my vaguely drink-addled brain decides to inform me that I am in dire need of a restroom. There’s no way I’m getting back into the club, not with a line that long outside. McDonalds is too far away so I figure that I’ll head down an alley.

The joys of external plumbing, eh?

Unfortunately, down this alley there is a couple engaging in… Adventurous outdoor activities, we’ll call it. Being drunk, I decide that the best thing to do is to head on past them further down the alley to a gate at the end. This gate is usually shut, mind you.

Not this night, for some reason. I think this is a win and wander through, finding a wall that’s about four foot high that I proceed to jump over.

As it turns out, it’s only four foot tall on one side. So that was my first fall of the evening. A practice run, of sorts.

So, I’ve landed in this yard. The wall I came over to get in is twelve feet, perhaps. It’s part of a set of three, then there’s a building. With a ladder.

My genius brain decides that this is the only way out. So I climb up this ladder and I get to a rooftop, flat and nondescript.

All I’ve done is trade one bad situation for another. I’m looking around for a way down and I see a cat. I remember this bit so clearly. It’s a fat, ginger cat and it starts running around this roof. Me, being drunk, decide to chase the cat. So there’s me, the cat and whatever the cat’s following, all of us running in circles around this roof. I got lost. Lost the ladder, lost all my bearings. Though I am fairly sure I’d actually travelled maybe two metres.

This is when my genius brain pulls its best idea yet from some kind of dark crevasse. Quite possibly, it found it in a box that said “Stupid Ideas. Do not open.” I spot, along the edge of the rooftop I’m on, some ivy or some other creeping plant. I’ve seen this in films, I know what I can do.

I get down, one elbow clinging to the edge, a handful of plant in the other, my feet dangling. I take a deep breath and take the elbow off.

Next thing I know, I’m on the ground two stories below in some patch of overgrowth. Somehow, all I come away with is two bruises. That’s it.

How I got out of the patch of overgrowth, that’s a whole other story…

Yes, this one’s a true story. One of many from my misspent youth (He says, as if he was older than 23 years old…)

The Idiot in Tin Foil

 

Day 157: Your favourite moment in film

There’s only one moment that can even consider itself my favourite moment in film.

‘Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.’ The fight on the cliffs of insanity. The various times throughout the film where that phrase is used to cutting effect. And without a doubt, we fin ourselves rooting for Inigo. There is no quarter for the six fingered man to run to, only the depths of his villainy await.

That, my friends is my favourite moment in film.

This line has always worked for me, invoking feelings that I wasn’t even sure that I had. It pushed and pulled against the classic father figure role, leaving an emotionally scarred but truly whole character waiting in its midst. 

This is always tricky, but I hope today’s short introduction to my mind can help explain some things. 

Sweet dreams all. Enjoy. 

The Idiot in Tin Foil