Tag Archives: teenage

I had a dream… when I was eighteen

My iPad has become spiderwebbed cracked

My iPad has become spiderwebbed cracked

My blog is posted a tad late today because I managed to drop my iPad on the bathroom floor last night and the screen cracked the into tens of superficial spiders’ webs. It still works, but the screen is buggered.

Today I discover that Apple can’t replace the screen because the whole thing is a single unit. I have to buy a new iPad at a reduced price. It has all been terribly time-consuming.

So, instead of a blog today, here is a dream I had when I was eighteen:

Me... when I was aged eighteen

Me… when I was aged eighteen

I was on the River Thames where there was a large suspension bridge with large grey girders held together with big bolts. The water in the river was thrashing like a rough Atlantic storm. The individual waves were racing with each other – each wave unsuccessfully trying to play piggyback on the previous one, moving faster and faster from left to right.

There was a wind coming from somewhere; I couldn’t figure from where but, at the same time, I did know where it came from.

Look, it was a dream. What can I say?

We wondered where we were but I didn’t know who was with me.

Somewhere in among all this water, there was a country lane and wider roads. In colour. And I was in a car.

The car drove over and down a low hill and stopped between two fields of rich, golden corn. Then the car went through a very small wood further along. I seemed to know where the wood was but could not quite remember where.

My father was in the car. He said: “It’s because the corn is not quite good enough.”

I told him something about a school outing to a forest, but I knew that forest was not where we were now.

There was still a field of corn to the left of us.

When it ended, there was green, downy grass which, a little further along, met a slight slope.

Every geographical detail felt small, homely and warm: within hand’s reach.

About halfway between the rich, golden corn and the slight slope was a dark brown rabbit, sitting on its hind quarters with long, soft ears sticking gently up towards the sky. Just sitting there on the downy green.

When we got near to the rabbit, I had thought it would run away, but it did not. It just sat there looking at us, then scampered off up the hill.

We had a dog with us. It was large and black and white and rather dirty and squarish. Like a black-and-white St Bernard which was waist-high to my father.

“Oh no!” my father said.

He had slapped the dog on its rear and it had chased the rabbit up the slight green downy slope.

The dog chased and chased and chased the rabbit. Its jaws moved as it neared the rabbit’s rear haunches and I told someone to call him back.

My aunt said: “No-one can call him back now.”

And soon the rabbit and the pursuing dog were over the crest of the hill and had disappeared to the left of dark green trees and I was in a house.

Well, I was not in a house. It was a little wooden shack. A hut.

I was looking straight out through the open door onto the scene. I don’t know what the scene was, but I was looking at it. My mother was standing beside me, to my left.

A huntsman came over the top of the hill wearing his bright red huntsman jacket but with bright, clean, bright orange trousers. I thought fleetingly: “That’s odd.”

He rode down the hill on a horse and I shouted something at him. The sound reverberated in the small hut.

My mother, with a smile and mock courtesy asked the huntsman – who was now out-of-sight to my right – some question about which way to go or which way to get out.

Then we were out of the hut with a path leading away on our left and a path leading away on our right.

And then I woke up.

I have no idea what that dream from when I was eighteen means.

All suggestions from suitably qualified psychologists gratefully received.

Normal blog service will, I hope, be resumed tomorrow.

I lament the fact that I no longer remember my dreams.


Filed under Dreams, Surreal

Comedy – Secret Edinburgh – my view

My secret view revealed

A city guide with tips from over 160 comics

During this Year’s Edinburgh Fringe, Tim Clark and Andrew Mickel of the website Such Small Portions published a book called Secret Edinburgh which was sub-titled A Comedians’ Guide To The City. It had contributions from over 160 comedians.

Well, that is not really true. It had contributions from over 160 comedians and/or people listed in the Comedy section of this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Programme.

Which is why I was asked to contribute, although I am not a performer.

One section of Secret Edinburgh was titled Out of Town and contributors basically wrote about their favourite places which are not in the centre of the city.

Comedian Dan Nightingale wrote about a hill to the south/south west of Edinburgh.

My much-used photograph of me standing on Blackford Hill (photograph by ME-U-NF)

My much-used photograph of me standing on Blackford Hill (photograph by my eternally-un-named friend)

He ended his piece with the words: “I don’t actually know the name of the hill but I suppose I don’t need to. I know where it is.”

My contribution followed his. The hill is the one on which I am pictured in the header of this blog.

This is my contribution to Secret Edinburgh:


I can tell Dan Nightingale that his hill is the Blackford Hill, just south of Morningside.

When I was newly 18, I tried to commit suicide with pills. This was a bad idea, because I had always been shit at Chemistry in school.

I was persuaded to go into a mental home in Essex, because I had tried to kill myself. I did. But I only stayed two days and one night because they kept asking me questions when I just wanted to be left alone.

I went back to my distraught parents’ home, but it was no better there. Not their fault. So I ran away from home.

I hitched to Edinburgh which was and still is my favourite city. Ever since I was an embryo, I had gone there once a year with my parents to spend a few days with my father’s aunt, who lived in Morningside.

When I ran away to Edinburgh, I slept one night in a multi-storey car park at the foot of the castle rock. I spent another sleeping in the stairwell of a block of council flats. It was very cold.

In Morningside, I saw my great aunt on the other side of the street. I did not talk to her.

Later, I walked up the Blackford Hill at twilight to see the view: the city spread out before me, the castle rising up in the distance on the left; Arthur’s Seat rising in the distance on the right. The waters of the Forth were twinkling in the background with Fife beyond them; the lights of the twilight city were starting to twinkle in the foreground.

It was totally peaceful and now, every time I go to Edinburgh for the Fringe, at least once I walk up the Blackford Hill to feel that tranquility amidst the Fringe adrenaline.


Filed under Comedy, Edinburgh, Mental health, Mental illness, Suicide

Who do the rising generation of British teenagers look up to as role models? Two unlikely alternative comedians?

So who do the rising generation of British teenagers look up to as role models?

Mother Theresa? David Beckham? Justin Bieber?

Last week, I got an e-mail from 16-year-old Lyle Russell in Glasgow:

Lyle Russell with his blown-up poster

Lyle Russell with his blown-up poster

“I am a big fan of the late great Malcolm Hardee,” it said. Malcolm’s book I Stole Freddie Mercury’s Birthday Cake is my favourite book of all time. It’s wonderful and a work of art.”

Lyle had got a photograph of one of the Malcolm Hardee Award Show posters, then got it developed and enlarged at his local Tesco photo department. He normally has it displayed on the wall by his piano.

The idea that a 16-year-old Glaswegian would be a big fan of Malcolm Hardee intrigued me, as I was not aware Malcolm was known by anyone under about 35 in Glasgow. So I asked Lyle how he had heard of the late great man.

“I first heard of Malcolm when Jo Brand mentioned him on television,” he told me.

“The story Jo told was very funny, so I researched Malcolm.

“I read a few articles on him. He seemed a fantastic character and was very interesting. I watched a few YouTube videos of him performing and thought he was brilliant! I then bought his book I Stole Freddie Mercury’s Birthday Cake – Best book I’ve ever read. Full of great stories.

“I’ve chosen Malcolm as one of my favourite comics as he has the power to capture an audience’s attention. He controls the show. His stories do not drag on. There is no-one just like him. He’s a one-off genius.

“I’ve never been to one of his shows (as I was fairly young when he passed away). My dad’s a big comedy fan as well. He remembers Malcolm’s famous balloon dance, but never really got into his work.

“None of my friends or the rest of my family had heard of Malcolm.”

Some people, I suggested, might think Malcolm was a bit risqué for a 16 year-old.

“Yeah!” Lyle told me. “Some of Malcolm’s stuff can be a bit sordid. However Malcolm is different from lots of other comedians. He uses his material appropriately, at the right times, in the right places.”

I must admit this came as a bit of a surprise for me.

I Stole Freddie Mercy’sBirthday Cake

“A wonderful work of art,” says Lyle

“For instance,” Lyle told me, “a comedian such as Frankie Boyle would come on stage or come on TV and swear, be racist, mock the disabled etc. But Malcolm’s performing skills and material is something much more than that.”

I certainly wanted to hear more.

“He would charm his audience,” Lyle told me, “be rude, but in a humorous manner.

“Other greats such as Dick Emery, Rik Mayall and Bob Monkhouse could be rude but warm on stage. So Malcolm’s not so different in that sense.

“My top comic list would probably contain: Malcolm Hardee, Rik Mayall, Jerry Sadowitz, Dermot Morgan, Dawn French, Brian Limond (Limmy), David Croft, Harry Enfield, Kathy Burke, Larry David, Steve Coogan, Sam Bain, Mitchell & Webb, Eric Chappell, David Nobbs, and Derren Litten. A mixed bunch!

Jerry Sadowitz’s album Gobshite

Gobshite was recorded when Malcolm Hardee managed Jerry

“I’ve got Jerry Sadowitz’s LP Gobshite,” Lyle told me. “I love his shows as well, The Pall Bearer’s Revue and The People vs Jerry Sadowitz. Seen every episode of them.

“I’ve got another live show on CD that he did at the Edinburgh Fringe. He’s also an incredibly talented magician. I can do a few of his card tricks.”

So there we have it. The role models for at least one of the rising generation of British teenagers… Mother Theresa? David Beckham? Justin Bieber?


Malcolm Hardee and Jerry Sadowitz.

“Are you interested doing comic things yourself?” I asked Lyle.

“I’d like to write a sitcom or sketch show,” he told me. “I have many ideas I’d like to try out. Comedy’s something I’ve always been attached too; it’s something I’d love to do… I am thinking of setting up my own blog. I thought it would be a good idea, since I am a huge comedy fan, nosey and love talking to people.”

Oh good grief! I thought. Competition!

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Filed under Comedy

In defence of blind and dishonest policemen

Up The Creek comedy club in Creek Road, Greenwich, London

Sometimes you need scum to hold society together. Take the police and politicians.

Yesterday I was in Greenwich.

Around lunchtime, I was walking on the other side of the street from Up The Creek comedy club.

Five men were standing outside the club. One man was being repeatedly punched in the face by two of the men. The other two were standing watching.

At around ten o’clock last night, I went out to buy some chocolate for my eternally-un-named friend from a late-night shop. I was walking along the pavement a little way from Up The Creek, near a road junction – If you know Greenwich, it was at the start of Creek Road, where traffic from central Greenwich’s square one-way system comes round into two-way Creek Road.

There was heavy traffic driving along the other side of the road. A man wearing a grey suit was standing in the middle of my side of the road near the junction, facing the on-coming traffic, doing slow-motion tai-chi moves. His back was to the blind corner of the junction. No traffic was coming round the corner behind him (it is controlled by traffic lights). But any vehicles coming round that corner would not see him until the last moment and would, fairly inevitably, hit him.

As I approached him, the man slowly staggered off the road and onto the pavement behind me. A few minutes later, as I was leaving the chocolate shop, the man staggered in asking where he could buy drink.

Yesterday, an MP used Parliamentary privilege to reveal that Sir Norman Berttison (South Yorkshire police chief at the time of the 1989 Hillsborough football disaster in which 96 people died – currently Chief Constable of West Yorkshire) “boasted” about a plot to “fit up the Liverpool fans”. It is claimed he said at the time: “We are trying to concoct a story that all the Liverpool fans were drunk and we were afraid that they were going to break down the gates so we decided to open them.”

The (allegedly) Independent Police Complaints Commission has been given the names of 1,444 officers, including 304 serving police, to investigate over the disaster. According to the Daily Mail, around 164 police statements were altered to make them look more favourable to the agreed police version of events.

And, according to a piece in the Daily Mail on 12th September this year, “Richard Wells, who took over at South Yorkshire Police a year after the 1989 tragedy that killed 96, admitted the scale of the conspiracy to pin the blame on the innocent dead and injured had left him ‘disappointed and angry’.”

Other people might have said that a conspiracy made them disappointed and angry. He appears to have said it was “the scale” of the conspiracy which disappointed him. An interesting distinction.

Samurai swords, as used by armoured Japanese warriors

I was also interested to read a couple of days ago in the Guardian a follow-up to a previous news story in which a policeman used a 50,000 volt taser on a 62 year-old blind man because he thought the blind man’s white stick was a samurai sword.

White cane of a type used by blind or partially-sighted people

I had not realised that this registered blind man, who previously had two strokes and reportedly is only able to walk at a “snail’s pace” was tasered in the back.

The policeman involved has not been suspended pending any investigation and is still allowed to carry and use a taser.

As far as I understand it, police rules on tasers say they should only be used when there is an imminent and high threat to the police officer involved. Quite how this could happen when the “threat” is a man walking away at a snail’s pace with his back to the policemen, is an interesting logistical point.

“Perhaps the police are employing blind people themselves,” I suggested to my eternally-un-named friend last night. “Perhaps it’s an equal opportunities initiative.”

“You’re very unfair,” she said.

“Tell me about the waving knives story,” I suggested and pressed the record button of my iPhone.

“I had just finished shopping at Marks & Spencer’s in Greenwich,” she said. “It was about six o’clock at night and I was stepping out of the door. The pavement was empty except for this child of maybe ten or eleven who was maybe two shops away, stomping along, with his arms moving as he marched. He wasn’t slow. He looked like he knew where he was going. He had a plan. And, in each hand, he had a foot-long bread knife. He wasn’t waving them about over his head; they were swinging backwards and forwards as part of his marching.

“He was a little guy, which made the knives look even longer. He was maybe up to my chin and I’m 5’4”. He was stomping along. There was no-one on the pavement near him. I think maybe they had gone into shop doorways. But I was coming out of Marks & Spencer’s and my brain went: Do I just walk past him and assume he’s not going to stab me? Or do I not risk that because he’s obviously off on some odd mindset. It might be a case of Oh, I’ve got a knife… Ooh, there’s a woman. Let’s stab her!

I wasn’t stupid enough to think I wasn’t at risk. So I stepped back in, found the security guard and said, There’s a boy just about to pass… and, as I’m talking to him, the kid passes with the bread knives and the security guy rushed off to have a look at the video they have of what’s passing in the street.”

“And you never heard any more about the kid or anything happening?” I asked.

“No,” my eternally un-named friend said.

“And it was a few years ago,” I asked.

“Yes,” she said, “I think it was before the shooting in my square… We used to have gangs running through from one side to the other.”

“How many?” I asked. “I thought it was just one person on one night.”

“No,” she corrected me. “There was one person who was shot. That was one gun on one night, though who knows how many guns the others had? No, there were gangs of ten or twenty passing through. I didn’t count and it was a bit hard to tell. It was like rats going down holes. And, if you’re coming back from shopping and they’re running towards you – Whooaaa! – You suddenly pass someone who’s charged towards you holding some metal bar in his hand, looking back over his shoulder.

“They were having a whale of a time having fights. It happened for about two or three years. It stopped after the actual shooting. Sometimes the police came, but there was a time when I phoned up and said: There’s a bunch of youths outside. What do I do? 

“What are they doing now? I was asked.

Well, at the moment, I said, they’re just sitting on a bench talking, but one’s just thrown a glass panel from a shower unit into the children’s play area

Well, said the policeman, that’s a past event now, isn’t it?That was a minute ago, so it’s not happening now, is it?

But, I said, there’s obviously something wrong with them. It was a six-foot high pane of glass…

“It was like you’ve heard in Victoria Station. They would have running fights. Wasn’t someone stabbed there? That was what was happening in Greenwich for a couple of years. You would be sitting here and there would be a commotion outside for five minutes or half an hour, then it would stop a bit and you’d look out and see little groups because they were waiting for someone or whatever.

“When the shooting happened, the first I knew was this BANG! and everything went deathly quiet. The next time I looked out, I saw a little policewoman standing with tape at one entrance to the square, cordoning it off. All the entrances were taped off.

“Someone told me They’ve shot someone, but he hasn’t died and I said Well, that’s a pity. One down, nineteen to go – because you got so blasé with it.

“You no longer cared if people killed each other, you just wished they would and would they mind hurrying up about it, please? That’s the truth. That’s how you felt. It’s where you live. The noise was annoying, it was a bit frightening to step out. You’d think Oh, I could do with some milk. Will I go out now? Better not. Maybe that would be a bit daft.

“You just had to live with it, because no-one really did anything about it.”

Last night, I moved my car at about one o’clock in the morning, ready to drive away from Greenwich. I have had it broken-into twice in central Greenwich, so I now park it in a different area. As I turned a corner, there was the man in the grey suit I had seen a few hours earlier. Now he was staggering along in the middle of a side road, heading towards Creek Road, a main road from central Greenwich into London.

As I turned my car right into Creek Road, he staggered onto the pavement at the other side of the street. As I drove away, in my rear view mirror, I saw him turn around, half cross the main road then turn into the road, walking, swaying along the middle of the left side of Creek Road, his back to any oncoming traffic, heading towards London.

I hoped he would meet some police.

That is not a hope I often have.

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Filed under Crime, Police