If you’re not in the mood to read a seriously pissed off rant, dear blog reader, and are looking to read something sedate and pedestrian, then you’re shit out of luck because I’m here to rant about how we are given way too much choice in life.
Today I’ll be pitching the polite humble Brit overboard and adopting a brash tell-it-like-it-is, don’t get in my fucking way Yankie approach. Just for shits and gigs.
There’s no preamble here. We’re skipping the starter and going straight for the meat and potatoes.
That being said, read and enjoy or get the fuck off my blog.
See that picture up there?
All those little vaguely white squares? Except none of them are proper white. They’re all kinda white, but not quite white, but want to be white, but also want to be “different” in their approach to what they think white means to them.
During the creation of Paint Company Ltd’s new Colours 2016 Collection, a journo from a posh interior design magazine asked an insanely clever, artistic and not overpaid in the slightest Colour Imagineer a simple question:
“Please share with the ordinary and very naive consumer how you interpret the word ‘white’ and how you’re so adept at dreaming up such new and amazing twists on what is essentially the absence of colour. Not dissimilar to black in that respect. Be as creative as you like so no one will understand.”
Those squares, and more importantly the brilliant creative minds at Dulux, are an interpretation of white and how they might appeal to like-minded people looking for something “different” to give their home a “different” look.
And when I say different I mean the same as everyone else’s home because white is fucking white!
When viewed in context with furniture, wall & floor coverings and so on any normal person will take 0.5 seconds to refer to their mental model of the world, what colour the white on the walls closely matches, and then slot that colour in a single box: white.
Yep. The colour that took you hours/days/weeks/months (Jesus, I hope that’s not the case with anyone) to narrow down and select as “the” colour to represent who you are, what your room means to you, how it represents your life’s hopes/aspirations/history/mood, how it reflects your unique and interesting personality, and just as equally what you hope it means to guests and how it will surely enrich their lives because you’ve chosen it so well.
It’s just white, Dave, calm down.
That’s not the point. Here are some more vaguely white, but somewhat creamy colours.
Okay, there’s some variation here, but still, that’s just too much choice!
If I asked you to choose one for say, I don’t know, your living room, how long would it take you to narrow that lot down to 1? If it’s less than an hour I’d be impressed.
If you’re one of those people who agonizes over which particular shade of white is the correct one for any given room or wall then you have my heartfelt and sincerest pity.
There are vast ranges of paint. Take a look at some whites I found on the line. It’s mind-blowing.
There are Autumn Whites, Summer Whites, Winter Whites, Winter Cream White, Spring Whites, Violet Whites, Ocean White, Pastel White, Warm Whites, Cool Whites, Natural Whites, Hint of Whites, Crisp Whites, Muted Whites, Cloud White, All Wight (snigger), Mmillennium Falcon White, Stormtrooper White, Wedding Dress White, Angel White, Exotic White (seriously, WTF is that?) White With A Hint Of White Whites, Dusky Whites, Shades of White, Neutral White, Dazzling White, Urban White, Pure White, Pure Brilliant White, Shimmering White, Whiter Than White, Moody White, Serene White, Country White, Cotton White, Crushed Cotton White (yeah, cos that’s sooo different) White Mist, Vintage White (which in my book means stained old yellow kinda manky lookin) Chalky White, Chiffon White, Steel White, Jasmine White, Peal White, Dentist Bright White, Barry White.
That last one is okay.
Too. Much. Choice.
You think I’m exaggerating?
That little lot are what Dulux call Soft Warm Neutrals.
An entirely different set of colours than the previous set of Creams.
They’re all different colours!
Holy fucking shit! This is proof enough that the human race has got its priorities all fucked up and back to front.
Let me paint a picture for you.
The other day I happen to listen in on a conversation between two people in a DIY shop as they discuss which paint to use in their living room. This is the general gist of how it went down.
Man: We should go for bold colours. Make a statement. Go for the wow factor. Like a big blue.
Woman: [Giving the man a withering glance] Blue is cold.
Man: [Pointing to the paint chart] No it’s not. This one says Summer Medley 6. Summer isn’t cold.
Woman: We’re getting a warm colour. Something light and warm and inviting.
Man: Beige then.
Woman: Beige is so 1990’s. What do you think about Vintage Chandelier?
Man: Kinda white isn’t it?
Woman: Not pacifically white. More creamy.
Man: It’s in the white section.
Woman: It’s not supposed to be white white. Just more than white.
Man: More than white? What’s that supposed to mean?
Woman: [Sighs] How about White Mist? That would go in the hall.
Man: [Hands on hips] We’re painting the hall now?
Woman: You could if I went with White Mist. [She points to another white] And maybe Moon Shimmer on the back wall, to emphasise the big mirror your gran gave you.
Man: [Scratching his head] Moon Shimmer?
Woman: Or maybe Frosted Dawn.
Man: Both white. We should just get the one with Brilliant White on it.
Woman: Don’t be thick. We spent ages waiting for the work to get done and we’re not just slapping white everywhere.
Man: We’re not?
Woman: No. That room needs character. We got to choose something that really reflects the mood we’re creating. Colours are important. You didn’t do art at school. I did. I remember everything Mr Penner teached us. We got to create a ambience.
Man: [Losing interest. Tone of voice now flat] We do? Fine.
Women: Maybe if we took some tester pots. Moon Shimmer. Frosted Dawn. Mineral Haze. White Cotton and that Boutique Cream would go good in the downstairs loo.
Man: I did the loo a few months back.
Woman: Don’t you want our home to look proper nice?
Man: Yes but-
Woman: Then we got to do this right. People are going to see it. I’m not having them talking about us. We can’t just chuck any old colour on the walls.
Man: White isn’t a colour.
Woman: [Staring hard at him] What did I say about my teacher?
Man: [Huge sigh] I’m going to look at the drills.
I don’t recall the exact name she used for her teacher, but it stuck in my mind that she said “teached” and “pacifically” which tells you a lot about how she fits in with the world.
The point is that they, like all of us, have too much choice in life.
And we don’t need it.
Paint is just an easy example.
The reason for the mind-boggling number of paint choices isn’t because Dulux, Crown or Valspar want to enrich our lives. Ha. They don’t care about your life and whether your feature wall colour makes you happy.
They create these colours to make money.
Nothing wrong with that.
Take Heinz Baked Beans
For years there was one type. Beans. Nice. Tasty. Classic.
If I wanted a twist I’d drop some grated cheese on, or a splash of Worcestershire Sauce.
In recent times there has been an explosion in different types of beans.
Now we have this collection:
Did anyone ask for them?
Because it seems the public were desperate for 10 different types of baked bean.
And that’s not getting into the beans with sausages/meatballs/piri piri/Mexican/big breakfast combinations.
50% Less Sugar Beans I do approve of. Anything to stave off the diabetes plague a little longer gets a tick in my book.
Why We Don’t Need Choice.
If the human race spent less time dreaming up ways to screw each other out of a few extra pennies by giving us an ever-expanding horizon of shit we didn’t ask for, want or need, then maybe, just maybe we’d make progress in solving some of the bigger issues facing our planet.
Imagine a world where the creative energies currently spent naming and producing a million variations of white were aimed at the really big problems.
Sure, there’s freedom of choice to create choices for others, but as a race can’t we harness that energy for something better?
What concerns me is a possible future where mankind has been so consumed by profit that we’ve squandered the opportunity to achieve so much more. All that brain power could be used to cure for all manner of biological problems, or tackle food/water/energy shortages, or bring an end to poverty.
It sickens me to hear anyone argue over what type of white to use on their walls when people on the same planet are dying through lack of basic necessities like food and clean water.
I’m angered at the thought of how much natural resources are consumed by Heinz (as an example) to bring a new product to the market, but people are dying because they don’t have clean water. How can we as a race ever hope to have a healthy future where we live in balance with our planet when we’re obsessed with pathetic trivialities like Chiffon White versus Cotton White?
I’m amazed we’ve got this far at all.
The amount of waste we produce as a species is simply staggering. Have you ever stopped to question where your food really comes from? Where the packaging comes from? It hurts my head to calculate the sheer effort that goes into harvesting raw materials, packaging, transport, oil, water and so on, all so we can have a snack.
I was in a KFC a week ago. Had a tasty chicken Rio burger, fries & drink. Midway through my meal I paused to wonder how many chickens are slaughtered daily, even hourly, just to support the sales in that one KFC outlet. How much oil and chemicals are used to produce the feed rammed down the gullets of the chickens, or even used to produce potatoes for the fries?
200 chickens per day for that one outlet? 500?
A quick internet search suggests around 1 billion chickens are killed every year for KFC.
And think of how many trees are chopped for the paper to make burger wrappers. It doesn’t all come from recycling. Most packaging will have something on it like “Made From 42% Recycled Materials”.
And then think about where the waste goes after. Recycling isn’t a solution, not even for the minute amount of garbage we genuinely do reuse. It takes energy to recycle. It’s a stop-gap measure at best.
I’m a hypocrit, just so you know. Right now I’m tucking into a bag of Cheese & Onion crisps. Can’t recycle that packaging.
Fuck the human race. I’m disgusted to be a part of it.
We don’t deserve this planet.
Isn’t summer fun!!
Blue skies adorned by carefree cotton candy clouds that drift across a golden hot sun who beams his humid smile across the land.
The breeze, though warm, is gentle and lush, carrying with it all the glorious summer scents – wild flowers, freshly cut grass, sweet lemonade, ice cubes and Pimms.
And let’s not forget the mouth-watering aroma of meat sizzling on a barbeque.
Often the smell is better than the taste, but holy roasted Jesus I do love a juicy burger straight from the coals, topped with crispy halloumi and a splodge of ketchup.
(…kinda hungry now…)
This summer has been so…so…Englishy – beaches packed sardine tin style with fleshy bods everywhere, those annoying chairs only a handful of people know how to work, ice cream vans being ransacked by all manner of creatures, and people flocking to green areas to catch a burst of lunch break sun/skin cancer.
We can’t ignore the scent of water in our lovely hot, humid, aromatic summer. An English summer afternoon is always blessed by the petrichor ushered in on a lonesome breeze where it lingers for the briefest of moments before Mister Sunshine bakes the ground once more.
Even the sunflowers are lovin a good splash of water.
Our lush and wonderful lands have been blessed with scorching heat, stinky odours everywhere you look, and the wild and often elusive Pokémon.
I enslaved me a Pikachu.
However, whilst all the fun was happening I was busy watching my fingers turn against me in quite the vilest and most grotesque display of zombism I’ve seen for a long time.
Check this out.
Oh, by the way, this isn’t exactly nice.
Only keep going if you’re not eating.
And you like gross shit.
You have been warned.
Stop scrolling if you don’t to see some nasty shizzle.
Doesn’t that make you feel like ripping all that flaky shit right off those fingers?
Makes me want to puke.
It starts off innocently enough. Little itch here and there, no big deal, I’ve been there before. Then the bubbles appear. And more. Then bubbles under bubbles.
And then they pop and split.
Stuff oozes out.
Some ooze is clear. Other ooze is yellow.
I know, gross right?
Then it goes dry and flaky. And bits crack.
It’s kinda sore. Well, somewhat sore. Actually, it’s fucking painful as hell.
If you don’t believe me, try replicating it for yourself:
DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME KIDS!
- Give your fingers a really good going over with a cheese grater until the skin is cut, open, shredded and possibly bloody.
- Ask a friend to pour vinegar over your hands.
- Rub it into all the cracks and oozing bits.
- You can cry a bit now.
- Then dry them off with a hair dryer, max setting so all the flaky bits go hard and brittle and the cracks around the joints are agonising when you flex your fingers.
- Now do some chores – pick up a pencil, write a list. Drink from a glass. Fold clothes. Fold a sheet of paper. Go to the toilet and wash your hands, that’s a good one. Be inventive. Have fun with that for a bit.
- Repeat steps 2 to 6 every few hours until you find it hard to concentrate on anything else other than the burning hatred radiating from your fingers.
- Let me know in the comments below how much fun you had.
It has driven me insane.
I’m generally quite a happy guy, but this shit has given me a horrible case of the frownies over the last couple of weeks.
I had more photos but they were blurry.
Previous explosions have been limited to my index fingers. This year it spread to all fingers and thumbs and has started creping up the backs of my hands.
Since my post Help! I’ve Got Zombie Fingers! 4 years ago, a lot of people have left comments and suggestions on how to ease this disgusting condition. I have barely had much of an issue since then, until a few weeks ago when the weather went very humid and hot.
I have tried all sorts of remedies, though nothing really works the way I hoped. And prescription cream from the doc doesn’t help. Sure it makes the burning go away for a while, we’re talking minutes here, but it doesn’t stop it.
And it’s not just the burning, itching, want-to-rip-off-my-skin-and-rinse-my-skeletal-fingers-in-ice-water kind of pain that gets me down. It’s the utter embarrassment of people staring or trying to sneak a peek at Mr Zombie Fingers. I’ve tried to keep my hands hidden as much as possible but it’s not as easy as you think.
But still, compared to the crazy shit going on the world my fingers being a bit “hurty” is pretty insignificant when placed next to the suffering of other living things, human or animal.
However, I think there may be a decent solution at last.
If you’re a sufferer of this filthy shit pile of skin lurgy, then get over to Lush and search for Dream Cream.
No bullshit, this stuff is so good. It soothed my fingers, gave them much-needed moisture and eased the pain. Sure they still hurt a bit when I make a fist because the skin is cracked around the joints, but the flaming, burning issue has improved so much.
This is what the product blurb says:
I’ve been sticking this cream on my hands for a couple of days and they feel way better. I admit the temperature is cooler now the humidity has subsided, but in the past it has taken upwards of a couple of weeks for my hands to start healing up.
Here’s a couple of photo’s taken a few minutes ago:
And just so you know, I took the photos in the same place each time, same light conditions, though I think one above I used a flash, but still you can see they’re better.
Lush aren’t paying me by the way!
It’s like having my skin kissed better by angels.
So, to finish this sandwich post with a decent slice of light-hearted flavour bread, here’s a picture of me as a dog.
And here’s a picture of a Stormtrooper bobble head in my car.
One last thing…
All sales from my novel, The Range, are going to the ZSEA – Zoological Society of East Anglia, to help with conservation projects in Africa.
Spread the word – buy The Range, enjoy a good story and help prevent Rhinos from bleeding to death after having their tusks ripped out of their skulls. That shit has got to stop.
Or buy a copy as a nice gift, or pop it in your local library, leave on a bus/cafe/park bench for other horror fans to enjoy.
How about this for a weird and slightly dumb mini story…
I was thumbing through my own copy the other day whilst sat on the arm of the sofa. After a minute I slipped over the edge and slouched back to get comfy. I finished the chapter then had to stop myself reading further because it’s my book and I should know what’s coming!
Just like that, I was fully engrossed in one page.
I admit I felt a tad silly.
Anyway – The Range – buy, read enjoy, save an animal or two.
I suck at sales and marketing.
Writing I can do.
That other stuff…I…oh man….
[shuffles off mumbling and shaking head]
I quit smoking in April. It turns out that also meant quitting writing for a time.
I bet you’ve heard someone talk about how they can get addicted to pretty much anything instantly? “I shouldn’t have a single drag on your cigarette or I’ll be on a hundred a day in 20 seconds. Fnah, fnah, fnah!”
I had a full on cigarette romance with the addiction demon. Twenty years ago that dirty little bastard climbed inside my chest and refused to leave.
For the most part I totally enjoyed it.
Smoking was my cool thing. That stream of sickly sweet smoke made me whole.
I’d smoke everywhere.
- Waking up – pop a smoke in my mouth, sometimes even before I got out of bed.
- Pre-breakfast – after brushing teeth but before eating.
- Post-brekkie – nothing wraps up a bowl of Cornflakes like a tasty smoke.
- On the toilet – sure, shit and dump at the same time.
- Weddings & Funerals – why did those things last so long with no call for a fag break?
- Before an interview – settles the nerves, but makes you stink like a tramp.
- On a walk/bike ride – for some reason smoking helped get my breath back.
- In the rain – right up to the point where the tobacco is sodden.
- Pre-bonk – get that sexy smoke on before (or whilst) the clothes come off.
- Mid-bonk – yep, I’ve been there, pausing halfway through to take a drag.
- Post-bonk – it’s almost the law to scoff a slice of pizza and choke on a smoke after happy bouncy fun time.
That’s not an exhaustive list, but you get the idea.
Oh I gave up a few times. Once for a whole year. But I craved them every single day.
I tried patches. Gum. Gum and patches. Spray which was gross. Gum, patches and spray. None of them worked because I didn’t want to stop. I was just doing it because I was supposed to, because other people said I should. And yes, I knew they were right and I was wrong but it didn’t help.
I loved smoking and that was all that mattered.
Nicotine is a drug, a very addictive one, and whilst I won’t ever compare it to something like heroin for example, I was often very aware of how nicotine had a strong grip on my life. I’d worry if I didn’t have enough smokes to last the night, or if I should go and get some before the shop shut.
I couldn’t be cut off from a smoke and have to wait hours to suck on that sweet stick of death. Having them and not needing was comforting. I could face anything the world had to throw at me so long as I had some smokes.
Zombies, sure bring em on! I’ll kill em all one-handed with a smoke in the corner of my mouth and a chainsaw in each hand!
Writing and smoking.
It used to be all I needed was a keyboard, screen and pack of smokes and I’d be set to write my brains out.
If I was writing then I had a smoke in my hand. Or resting in the ashtray. The weird thing is that a large percentage of smokes I lit would burn away unsmoked on the edge of the ashtray.
Right now I’m going to mimic the exact moment when I’d reach for a smoke.
(pause writing for about 5-10 seconds to stretch arms above head and arch back)
And I’m back.
Ah, but no smoke this time!
Every so often, whilst writing, I’d pause to ponder, question a line, a bit of dialogue, to read over a thrilling or difficult scene. I’d stretch, exhale and reach for the tobacco, rolling machine and papers. I could roll in pitch black I was that good.
I’d jam that tube of shit in my mouth, spark a flame to it, inhale long and deep, take another puff, read more, identify where to add/remove words, then rest smoke on ashtray and carry on writing.
Some time later I’d look down.
Damn thing’s gone out.
Oh well, it’s about time to have another anyway.
Writing = smoking. I wouldn’t smoke in the living room or kitchen or anywhere else, but in my room, at my computer, it was writing and smoking. End of story.
God I loved it.
And before you say anything, dear blog reader, no, I don’t miss it. Not one bit. And here’s why.
It was killing me.
Well dur! Am I right? You’re an asshat, Dave, didn’t anyone ever tell you smoking was a bad life style choice?
Yeah, but smokers don’t hear that. Take these two lines and see which one the smoker hears:
And yes I’ve seen the pictures of the lungs with the black stuff inside, but when you’re 19 you know that’ll never happen to you because you’re going to live forever. You’re invincible and death ain’t interested in you. Stephen King knows what I’m talking about.
But old man time is a patient bastard.
He always comes knocking.
And when he does, shit gets real.
A year ago I was diagnosed with diabetes.
For a while I suspected that shit was in the post. I’d been a fat turd for a long time and there had to be a negative side to scoffing crap and smoking shit. And prior to joining Team Sugar I’d lost a ton of weight, which the internet told me was bad.
For once da internets was right.
I didn’t take it very seriously.
That foolish 19-year-old echo had hung around long enough to fuel my bravado a while longer. I made a half-hearted attempt to cut down on the sugar, take the meds, be a good wholesome person and a happy productive member of society.
A Normalite. A normie.
Me. The bad boy. The rage against the system type. Anti everything. Rebel without a clue. And suddenly there I am, being all normal and conforming. Doesn’t that just make you sick?
At least I can still write characters who do all that crazy shit for me.
Problem was my feet.
My toes hurt. Sometimes they’d feel kinda numb.
I’d read up on this. It’s all about the sugar and the nervous system. Basically it means the nerve endings start to die.
Yuk. Fucking yuk yuk yuk.
The doctor told me to stop smoking. Quit, Davey Boi, or I’m gonna chop you up piece by piece. We’ll start with your little piggy-wigs…
Nope. Not gonna happen. These are my piggies.
In March I announced I’d be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in January 2017.
In April this year I quit smoking. It had been a long time coming, but I was done. I’d had enough and that was the final push I needed to vomit up the demon from my lungs and crush his stinky little skull under my boot.
I made that little fucker pop.
I’d begun to wonder what my lungs looked like.
There were chest pains, sharp wincing pains, and at times trouble breathing at night, and getting to sleep too. Maybe if I was cut in half I’d look like this:
But maybe blacker.
The doc had said quitting smoking could help my toes.
He gave me some Champix and with a twinkle in his eye said: “These magical pills will take you to a brave new land. With great medication comes great responsibility.”
That’s bollocks. No twinkle. Just a “best of luck” mutter or something as easily forgettable.
There are lots of scary stories online about how they make people depressed and lead to suicide attempts and a whole load of other BS I didn’t buy.
I gobbled these down like TicTacs.
The sort of TicTac you have one in the morning and another in the evening.
Smoking for two weeks before I quit was horrendous. Seven days in every cigarette tasted like shit. Actual shit. Like I’d dried out my own faeces, rolled some into a cigarette paper, lit it and inhaled.
Mmmmm burnt dry human turd that made me wretch.
You know, the watery mouth feeling just before you honk? That lovely instant throat/vom lube. Yep. I got that.
And the heaving of the stomach where you’re certain the Vom Express is coming in too fast and hot? Yep. That too.
And the sweats. Jesus I’d sweat like a Elvis at a breakfast buffet.
I hated it. But loved it more because it meant the little blue pill was screwing with my brain. In a good way.
I stubbed most of them out after a drag or two. And I stopped smoking at about day 16.
I continued on without a smoke.
You can go for a full 12 week course. I stopped at week 10.
I haven’t had a pill for about 2 weeks now. I don’t need them. I don’t need a smoke, or want one either.
Why did it work this time?
Because I wanted it to.
It was the right time to stop. I wasn’t pressured into it by anyone. I wanted to do it for me.
That little dirty addiction demon had out-stayed his welcome. I wanted to be free of the stink of smoke. I didn’t want to be hunting around for a paper or filter. I didn’t want to be ducking outside at work every so often for a crafty smoke. I wanted a good night’s sleep.
I wanted my piggies to get better.
And I wanted to climb that mountain.
Just look at it!!
I’m going to be on the very top of it!
If you fancy donating to the charity – ZSEA Zoological Society of East Anglia – click here to visit my Virgin Money Giving Page, you’ll be helping animals.
And you know what?
My piggies are better!
They feel happy. I sleep better. Jesus, so much better! Food tastes nice. I can exercise for longer and walk longer. It’s like I can feel my stamina increasing every week.
My diet is improved now I’m eating better, protein and carbs in the right amounts, though a chunk of choccy now and then, but fuck it, what’s life without a few luxuries!
For the longest time I had feared what life might be like without cigarettes.
Turns out it’s actually better.
Who the fuck knew!
Weird and unexpected side effects from not smoking:
- More money – okay, not unexpected as such, but surprising how much I was spending – around £160 per month.
- More energetic – we’re talking oodles of energy here!
- Mentally switched on – never expected nicotine to inhibit my mental stamina.
- Patience balance – when smoking I had heaps of patience (or laziness you could call it) but now I’ve regained an appreciation of what’s urgent and what can wait.
- Sense of humour – no idea how I could be a happier person, but I laugh more, smile more and enjoy every second of the day!
The only negative is the writing, and it’s not much of a negative, more a period of acclimatization. This is the longest thing I’ve written since April. Up to this point I’ve had to get up and walk away from the screen when I’ve felt a little…itchy.
I haven’t been able to sit still for a long enough period to get stuck into the writing. But that’s okay. I’m learning to appreciate the art of writing without a stick of smoke at hand. And that takes time and patience. After all I smoked and wrote for 20 years, so I’m happy to settle into a writing life without the smoking.
Today I opened the word doc for The Holt. I read a few bits here and there, checked through my chapter synopsis, made a few notes and closed the file. That was enough. For now. Sitting here writing this blog post has proved I can write and be happy without a smoke in my hand.
The big expedition.
It’s like a big crazy exciting thing on the horizon. You can’t stare at it for long because it’s too big and crazy and amazing and crazy to take in all at once.
So you have to chip away at it. Bit of fund-raising here and there. Watch some videos on kit and packing. Order stuff online for the expedition. Do some walking in the big chunky boots.
It’s all good.
I’ll be writing more about it soon enough.
I’m just glad I now know I can sit and write this shit for a couple of hours without going nuts.
As a quick reminder, when I question why I quit, I wriggle my lovely piggies and take a deep deep breath. Wriggling toes and lungs filled with air.
Gotta love the little things.