Reader, I married her

As I sat in the hot tub on Sunday evening, the warm bubbles rippling around me I looked back over the previous weekend and felt a wave of relaxation wash over me. I would never need to make a seating plan or chase up RSVPs again. It was a state approaching inner peace, a world away from where I had been on Saturday morning.

Nerves hadn’t been a factor until then, as utter disillusionment with wedding planner meant I had reached a stage where I just wanted it done and over. I have no idea why Liz Taylor enjoyed doing this so much as one wedding is definitely enough.

However, having every single person asking you if you feel nervous will start fraying your nerves. Should I be nervous?

On top of a terrible night sleep (shout out to Travelodge for keeping their rooms about the same temperature as the surface of Mercury), the constant pestering ensured that the butterflies in my stomach meant I only had one helping from the all you can eat cooked breakfast. As a man who likes to get his money’s worth I usually abuse these things until I can barely move and need to be rolled out.

It being an afternoon wedding I had a few hours to kill, I managed to ease my stress levels by reading some George R. R. Martin in bed. 

This good work was undone by the fact I mixed up the time I had to leave, 13:00, with my checkout time at 12:00. This led to a rushed shower and me having to dress in my best man’s room.

I also had to sit down and write my speech, as I wasn’t sure what the groom says. It turns out to be mainly thanking people, but my groomsman Mike’s partner Samantha walked me through it.

Thankfully, we fitted it all in and got to the church at about 13:20, enough time for me to meet and greet, go for a nervous pee and get asked about my nerves another hundred times. 

As two o’clock neared the nerves were cranking up a little, but luckily Best Man Dan came through with a short, low key pep talk which calmed me.

I hate to sound sexist but I wasn’t upset or surprised as the start time passed, having been resigned to the fact that eight ladies (the artist formerly known as MWF, 6 bridesmaids and my mother-in-law) would struggle to get there on time despite having started their prep at 7ish.

I told Best Man Dan and my groomsen I was expecting them to be at least ten minutes late and I wasn’t far off.

I’d been surprised that the vicar had told me that I needed to keep eyes front as MWexF entered. I think in movies and cheesy reaction photos the groom looks and breaks down, which is what my soon to be wife wanted, having threatened to walk right back out if I didn’t cry. During the vows I would wobble, but managed to keep it together. 

I felt odd not knowing what was going on but managed to catch a few bridesmaids in the corner of my eye. And then there she was.

My bride looked beautiful, and I was glad I’d followed my Nan’s superstitious footsteps in not seeing her in the dress until the day. We exchanged nervous smiles and got going.

I was slightly distracted by a Ladybird who had hitched a ride on the bridal bouquet and then flew onto me. But after that I followed BMD’s advice and shut out everything but for the vicar and the lady at my side.

The service went smoothly, and quickly. It seemed like we were sitting to sign the register in moments. And then walking out triumphantly to The Darkness’ “I Believe in a Thing Called Love”.

We were married, and I was filled with relief, happiness and love. Photos were taken, confetti thrown and congratulations received.

And then to the reception. There were no dramas, no scandals, no fist fights. Sorry, reader but it was a lovely evening. Among the highlights:

  • Great speeches from the Maid of Honour and BMD. Funny, sweet and just the right level of mocking.
  • Not messing up my own speech.
  • A bouquet toss. Having agreed that it was outdated and undignified, we went and had one anyway. And I’m glad we did, as it was brilliant fun, especially as you got to see who was taking it a bit too seriously and the faces of some nervous boyfriends.
  • BMD launched a charm offensive which won him many fans and led me to let a couple of girls down gently and say that yes, I am sure he’s gay.
  • Far too much drunken dancing.
  • Seeing my Dad dance for the first time ever.
  • Man hugs and back slaps galore.
  • Being blamed for making people cry with my speech. 
  • Being called a prick by a bridesmaid who had believed us when we’d told them our first dance was going to be Rick Astley and was then caught off guard by the real one.

As for my misgivings about the suits? Well, I’m still not a fan and would rather have been more casual, but I did get a few compliments.

Luckily, before my head could swell to much a friend informed me that their dad reckons I look like Samwell Tarly from Game of Thrones. No disrespect, to John Bradley but I’m sure he knows he isn’t the show’s heartthrob.

When we got back to our lodge in the wee small hours we crashed out, happy but exhausted.

Sunday was hectic, running errands, tidying up and trying to see as many of the guests as we could before they hit the road for home. Our first real down time came sitting in the hot tub, relaxing in the warmth.

“How are you feeling?” 

“Pretty damn good, Mrs Page, pretty damn good.”

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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“Fear of the Fat Man”

Something I wrote a while ago but posted on Medium because I thought that would be more of a thing. As is, I barely check it and have only written like 4 articles on there. Anyway, here you go:

“Fear of the Fat Man” @nutupdate https://medium.com/@nutupdate/fear-of-the-fat-man-2b4ea247e1ed

Any thoughts? You know what to. BETEO.


Cats and Zombies

2AM. Saturday morning.

I have only a few hours until I have to get up for work, but I’m wide awake. And sleep isn’t going to come easily.

Why aren’t I asleep?

Because I’ve just had a nightmare.

Yes, like a little kid, a bad dream has jolted me awake and now I’m lying in the dark, every noise transformed into something ominous by fear.

The dream started off well enough, with me as a cowboy. There was a shoot out between James Stewart and Audie Murphy, which left both dead. And then undead Audie got to his feet. Yes, Walking Dead style, it didn’t take a bite, but I blame George A. Romero as I’d been thinking about his movies a lot in the last week and eager to watch Dawn of the Dead again. Perhaps this was my subconscious’ tribute to the director?

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I managed to cuff Jimmy before he revived, but Audie bit another person. Having dropped the most decorated zombie in Hollywood, I saw the other zombie pursuing my cat, Midnight. Out of bullets (isn’t that always the way?), I hastily ran and shoved the zombie into a side room and grabbed Midnight.

Unfortunately the living dead opened the door and seized me from behind. It went to bite my neck.

At this point I awoke, but still gripped by the fading terror of the nightmare, I actually awoke in the process of throwing my elbow in defence.

Luckily the biter had come from the right and I was elbowing thin air. On the left and I would have clocked MWF in the face and probably sporting a shiner. And I suspect that her coworkers would have heard “my boyfriend elbowed me in the face while asleep because of a nightmare” and assumed it was a flimsy excuse, a slightly more inventive version of “I walked into a door”.

Luckily, Pumpkin, who in the dream was sensible enough to avoid the walkers, jumped into the bed and huddled in by my arm. Stroking him calmed me down and eventually I fell back asleep. And this time, without any nightmares.

Thank the gods for cats.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Would You Rather? Part 5: Nightcrawler > Professor Xavier

Would you rather be famous when you’re alive and forgotten when you die or unknown when alive but famous after death?

I think I’d actually prefer to have a legacy that lived on after me than be famous. I don’t think I’d be well suited for fame.

Like most people I’ve daydreamed about being famous and rubbing shoulders with celebrities, but I think the reality would be far less fun. You’d probably find out people you admire are idiots, and get fed up with being bothered. I also don’t think I’d play the game well and wind up putting my foot in it a fair few times, which would be embarrassing.

…die if you don’t slap a new person on the butt every 12 hours or die if you didn’t kill somebody every year?

Crikey. That’s a tough one.

Obviously I don’t want to murder anyone, but the alternative is slapping a stranger every twelve hours. While you might be able to arrange some of them to be consensual, you’d probably struggle to find a new person for every time, and then you’re entering the realms of what could be seen as sexual harassment.

So, one murder every year could actually hurt less people.

And I mean, I could pick my victims? Mercy killings? Would that justify it? Is killing anyone ever justified?

…have an unlimited international first class ticket or never have to pay for food in a restaurant again? 

Right, the restaurant one sounds like the better deal. You eat out more often than you travel aboard, so in the long run you’d actually save more cash.

But the thing is, I can already go to restaurants, but my travel options are more limited.

Travel is a lot of cash in one go, whereas restaurants are smaller expenses but more often. So, I’d pick the first class ticket and go to places that otherwise I wouldn’t be able to.

…eat rice with every meal or eat bread with every meal?

Umm, bread I guess. It goes with more stuff, you can use it to mop up sauces and probably wouldn’t get boring as quickly as rice.

…be hired for a well paid job you lied to get and have no idea what to do or be about to give the most important presentation of your life and forget all the material you had prepared?

The presentation, I reckon I could blag that for a short time as opposed to spending ages at the job pretending to know what I’m doing. That just seems exhausting, so I’d opt for the brief humiliation over the long term faff.

…be an amazing artist but not be able to see the art you produce or a great musician who can never hear what they’ve played?

Man, this one is kinda complicated, as both would suck.

On balance I’d go for the artist option, because once the painting is done I wouldn’t need to look at it again, whereas as a musician I think there’s probably some satisfaction in hearing your own stuff and witnessing people enjoying it.

…every shirt you wear be itchy or only be able to use 1 ply toilet paper?

The itchy shirt would be more annoying and impractical, and you’d look like you had fleas or something.

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And with the toilet paper you could always fold it over. Simple.

…teleport anywhere or be able to read minds?

I’ve never seen the appeal of telepathy, which is always portrayed as this great power to have. But I imagine it would cause more problems, as you’d be bound to hear some stuff you didn’t want to know.

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But teleportation? That would be pretty sweet, mainly because I could sleep later and still make it to work on time, and also for generally getting about. And let’s face it, you’d rather be Nightcrawler than Professor X, wouldn’t you?

Agree with my choices or think I’m completely wrong? Let me know in the comments. BETEO.


Fat Boy on a Diet: Off the Scale

I went to the doctor’s on Friday. Fear not, reader, I’m not ill but I have been iffy recently and thought better to have a check up in case it turned out to be something I could fix.

After a quick exam I was asked to hop on the scales.

This is par for the course, at least for chubsters like me. I get it. Weight can be an exacerbating factor for many things and a doc should prompt you to get fitter in the same way they should tell people to quit smoking, health promotion is part of their job.

I don’t get when people complain about doctors advising them to lose weight, I mean, sure it should be approached tactfully, but what do you expect them to do? Ignore something that might be detrimental to your health?

So, logically I don’t mind. But I still feel embarrassed. Of course, it was about to get worse.

I stepped on and the shot round like Usain Bolt in a jetpack. 

In fact it shot right by the last number. 

Yes, my weight was beyond the measurements of the scale.

If only blushing burnt calories. I’d have dropped half a stone easy.

The Doc, without a word, fetched a second scale. This had a display screen. This could show my weight.

I know I’m big. I didn’t expect to step off at 10st or something. But seeing it in black and white hammers home.

Before uni, I was the lightest I had been for years. I was jogging, eating better and walking everywhere. I’m now back where I started in 2011, where I got on the scales for the first time in years.

The weight loss resolution is dead in the water. Penny pinching for the wedding meant I had to stop Chub Club. Laziness and apathy has seen my weight tick up slowly. Worse, I knackered my knee last year and that means jogging is out.

The doctor advised power walking. I have become Harold Bishop.

Dropping weight for the wedding seems a folorn hope. 5 months to go. Suit fitting in a month. I can shift a bit by October, hopefully, but it won’t be a lot.

Looking good and being comfortable in Florida looks unlikely.

The blame lies with me, and I need to buck up and sort this out. I can’t run, but there’s a local gym. It has a pool, but I don’t think I’m ready for that. 

I have to do better.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Would You Rather? Part 4: Caves, Clowns and Climbing Trees

Would you rather be the best in the world at climbing trees or the best in the world at jumping rope?

I think I would go for the trees, because that’s probably something I’d enjoy more. I could be a nature photographer or something, climbing up to get pictures of the critters and whatnot.

Being able to jump rope well wouldn’t help as I’m not a Victorian schoolgirl or a boxer.

Would you rather live in a cave or a tree house?

Tree house. Aside from people terrified of the slightest height, who would pick the cave? Especially as some tree houses are pretty awesome.

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Would you rather have everything on your phone (browser history, pictures etc.) accessible to anyone who Googles you or never use a cell phone again?

The inconvenience of not having a phone would be pretty annoying, especially as I like using my phone as a distraction. But at the same time, would I rather lose that and have my personal stuff shared?

I guess I’d have to sacrifice my phone. Because while it’s highly unlikely people would be Googling me, I’d rather not run the risk of some random getting my emails and text messages.

Would you rather be accidentally responsible for the death of a child or accidentally responsible for the deaths of three adults?

If I’m picking one or the other surely the “accidental” part is out the window? Because you’re choosing one of the options to happen?

This is a really tough one, because like most normal people killing a child is utterly beyond the pale, but it’s rather hard to condemn three over one. Logically you should pick the kid, but there’s that emotional aspect that just messes with you.

This is a rough one. I guess I’d pick the kid, because I think the loss of three adults would have a much wider impact on the world, and the guilt over three lives is bound to be more intense, surely?

Would you rather all plants scream when they are cut/picked or animals beg for their lives when killed?

I imagine that animals make a lot of noise anyway, but as I’m not responsible for killing my own food I don’t have to face that. On the other hand, with plants I do cut the grass occasionally and pick blackberries so the screams would impact my life more.

So, I’d rather animals beg for their lives, simply because I don’t have to hear them.

I wonder if we did have to kill our own food more of us would be veggies?

Would you rather lose your best friend or all of your friends except your best friend?

I don’t really have a best friend, more like a circle of friends who are at the same level. So, I’d probably pick to keep that little group at the cost of everyone else than the other way round as I’ve been mates with them for years, and can probably do without the more distant friends and acquaintances better.

Would you rather have the police hunting you for a murder you didn’t commit or a psychopathic clown hunting you?

I hate clowns.

At least the cops would have to abide by certain rules and hopefully could be convinced of my innocence. But a psycho clown? Probably not open to reason.

And I’d be freaked out the whole time. So, I’d take the police option. Unless I thought there was a chance I could take the clown.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Would You Rather? Part 3: Singing, Solitude and Snooping

Would you rather find your true love or a suitcase with £5m inside?

Well, as I’ve already met my true love I’m set for that, so the £5m would be a lot more useful.

Would you rather be completely invisible for one day or be able to fly for one day?

If this was a long term thing I would pick flight because I just think that would be cooler, and I think being invisible would be more annoying than people think.

But for one day it might be quite fun to sneak around and see what goes on behind closed doors, and I don’t mean that in a creepy “go into the girls’ showers” way. I think it would be interesting to go snooping in the corridors of power or just see what celebrities do in their own homes.

Basically I’m a nosy bugger.

Would you rather have to read aloud every word you read or sing everything you say out loud?

It has to be the singing, doesn’t it?

As embarrassing as that would be, imagine having to read out every text message you received, or every private letter or email? Not only would you look a bit of a numpty but you’d also potentially embarrass others and create all kinds of dramas.

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So, on this one I’d rather walk around singing everything like a tone deaf Phantom.

Would you rather live a comfortable and peaceful life in a small cabin in the woods or life full of conflict in a mansion in the city? 

Small cabin in the woods. Who wants conflict all the time? Easy one, that.

Would you rather your shirts always be two sizes too big or one size too small?

As an insecure fat man, I would obviously go for the two sizes too big. I hate clothes that cling to me, as they seem to accentuate my belly and other wobbly bits.

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That being said, I was once told by a girl in a club that I’d look better in less baggy clothes. It was a while back after I’d lost some weight and the shirt was hanging off me, but it was an odd backhanded compliment to receive from a stranger.

Would you rather have edible spaghetti hair that regrows every night or sweat maple syrup?

Sweating syrup sounds utterly revolting. You’d be sticky all the time when it got hot, have to change your sheets every day and get chased by bees all the damn time.

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Edible spaghetti hair for me, I think.

Would you rather be lost in a bad part of town or lost in the woods?

Neither seems ideal, but at least a bad part of town has streets and signposts so that I could work my way out. I’d rather that than blindly stumbling through the woods, running into who knows what.

Also, call me soft but even in “bad parts” of town most people are basically alright and if you asked for directions they’d help you out.

In the woods I’d have to try and remember things like what side of the tree moss grows on, or pray to find someone out in the woods.

Disagree? You know what to do. BETEO.


Bampa 

Farmer Giles looked up in the sky, just as a bird pooed in his eye, said Farmer Giles “Thank goodness cows can’t fly”

My grandad died the other week, after a short spell in hospital. He was 86, and when he was admitted it was clear that his time was coming to an end.

The poem at the start is something my Bampa told us when we were kids and in the days after his passing popped into my sister’s head.

Memories are what we are left with when a loved one passes on. Memories which define how we carry on the person inside us.

My grandad and I didn’t always get on. As I grew into a lazy, geeky teen he must have felt that we had little in common. Bampa had worked since he was 14, and was a traditional man in many ways, he could make things, he could fix things, and I suspect he saw me as soft. My long hair annoyed him and he’s often tell me that “two years in the army” would sort me out.

But I know he loved me. And all of his family. He didn’t say it, I don’t think he knew how. He came from a time when men didn’t talk about their feelings, or even admit they had them.

But we knew. It was there in the fact he always asked how we were doing, in the small kind moments and the way he was with us. The pride he had in the achievements of his kids and grandkids. He was never soft, but there was warmth and gentleness there.

He and my Nan were married for over 50 years, and they seem to have spent most of that time bickering. If there is an afterlife they’ve probably started back up again.

I choose to remember Bampa in his house with my Nan. Winking at us as he deliberately wound her up or teased her. Of telling us the same jokes over and over, but his delight in them and the delivery always raising a smile even if you groaned first. 

I remember him telling stories, either of his childhood mischief, no doubt exaggerated, or made up yarns which kept us hooked and begging for a few more minutes before bed. Stories of magic and ghosts, which we lapped up.

I’ll remember him whenever I watch football. 

Remember the wooden goal he built in the garden so we could play, of his coaching in how to pass and head. Of his criticism of divers and talk of how it had been “in his day”, when the ball was heavy and the rules more relaxed. 

His patience when I bounced around on the sofa jabbering away, trying to copy the players I loved. I’ll remember sitting next to him and my Dad at the Vetch when they took me to my first Swansea game. It rained, but I didn’t care. We won and I loved the noise and feeling grown up.

I’ll remember him and it won’t matter that he’d believe and jump on every health far the paper told him. Or that he gave me grief about my long hair.

I’ll remember him for the hero he was to me as a kid, and the man I understood better as an adult. I’ll love him for being my Bampa, and a central figure in countless happy memories.

RIP Bampa.


Would You Rather? Part 2: Ghosts, Ego and Killing Animals

Another batch of would you rather questions

Would you rather live as a regular person in a utopia or live in dystopia but you are the supreme ruler?

In a utopia I imagine that living as a regular person is probably alright, maybe a bit dull, but no major worries. I would have to pick that.

While I can imagine that being supreme ruler would be pretty cool, if it’s a dystopia that means that there are unhappy people out there and you’d have to deal with them trying to kill you. That would suck, and also could you really enjoy knowing that you’d made the majority of people suffer for your power and comfort?

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I don’t want Katniss gunning for me

I don’t think I’d do it, so yeah, I’d be a regular guy in a perfect world.

Would you rather be forced to kill a kitten or a puppy?

Damn, this is a dark one. Do I have to answer?

Are we talking forced as in one of those “unless you kill this animal the world ends” kinda deals? Because in that case I guess it would have to be, and don’t hate me for this, a puppy. What can I say, I’m a cat person,

Would you rather live in a haunted house where the ghosts ignored you and did their own thing or be a ghost in a house living out a pleasant and uneventful week of your life again and again?

Have the ghosts ignore me. I find it hard to imagine anyone picking the other option. Can you imagine having to go over the same week again and again. Having a house with some ghosts would definitely be the better option.

You would have proved that ghosts exist and could charge people to come see them. It has that going for it, while being a ghost yourself means that (a) you’d be stuck in a loop and (b) you would have to die!

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Would you rather be famous for inventing a deadly new weapon or invent something that helps the world but which someone else gets credit for?

You’d have to be a serious egomaniac to go for the weapon option, wouldn’t you? I’d hope that the satisfaction of helping millions of people would be enough without the glory and I’d be happy to.watch the good without getting the credit.

 I’d rather do that than have a name cursed for inventing something that kills people.

Would you rather move to a new city/town every week or never leave the city/town you were born in?

Moving house is one of the most stressful things you can do, so sod that. Especially as I’d be moving where I didn’t know anyone. Nope, as flawed as Swansea is, I would much rather live there than have to pack my stuff up every week. And it has perks- a lot of my friends are local, I could go see the Swans and Ospreys and I know the city quite well.

Would you rather get £5 for every song you sing in public or £50 for every stranger you kiss?

As terrible as my voice is and as much as I hate performing, I would have to become a busker or karaoke regular to make that cash. I’m a happily engaged man so have no desire to kiss strangers anymore, so I’d take the singing as I’d earn more money that way.

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Would you rather live under a sky with no stars at night or under a sky with no clouds during the day?

This is probably the easiest one this time around. I would pick to have no stars. While they’re pretty to look at I just think that clouds are more useful, because of rain and also the British public aren’t ready to live in constant sunshine. We’d live in a constant state of barbecues and lobster coloured workmen.

Would you rather wake up as a new random person every year and be in control of them for a year, or one day a week go into a stranger’s body but have no control?

As appealing as living as someone else might seem, I think constantly shifting every year would be a drag. So, I guess I’d rather just go into someone else for one day a week as an observer. It might be frustrating if they were making bad choices or doing things you disagree with, but it might be interesting to see the world from a fresh angle.

Disagree with my choices? You know what to do. BETEO.


Why I Don’t Care if I Have a Poor Work Ethic

I read an article recently about why people shouldn’t feel guilty about leaving work on time. My reaction was surprise that someone would feel bad about that.

For me I always want to finish on time, if not early, and if possible I like to walk out on the dot without a backward glance.

Me at the end of a shift

Leaving late provokes nothing but rage. I give 37.5 hours a week to my employers as agreed, every single second over that is mine and therefore precious.

The only time I would happily leave late is if I worked flexitime, and so knew that half an hour every day Monday-Thursday would mean I could start my weekend two hours earlier on Friday. Or if I worked where you had a decent clocking in system which would add all the extra minutes over a month and pay you for them.
But most jobs don’t work that way. I’ve always for an hourly wage, and in some cases unless you go way over you don’t get paid extra. Five, ten minutes over and you’re working for free. 

So, why should I feel guilty? I’ve done what I’m paid to do, and I don’t owe my employer anything beyond that. 

And if I did work a salaried job 9-5 I’d expect and hope to be out by 5:01. I have a friend who was in at 7pm one evening, still at the office. Bugger that. If I stayed that late I’d have a lie in the next day, rock up at 11. Or expect a bonus.

I know some may be tutting over this, criticising my work ethic. Well to them I have one thing to say;

“Strong work ethic” sounds like a good thing. 

But who is it good for? Your boss is who. 

Seriously, most times someone is praised for their work ethic you may as well be praising them for making it easier for their boss to walk over them.

Staying late? Taking on extra responsibilities and duties? 

Who wins? Your boss. They get more of your time for the same price, or more work out of you. If you work somewhere that wants you to routinely finish late or have to do more than what you’ve signed up for your boss probably needs to hire more staff.

Your strong work ethic helps them to save money by not hiring and paying somebody else. And you’re stopping someone else from having a job. Bravo.

The employee-boss relationship is a deal. You exchange your time and toil for their cash. As long as you meet your half of the bargain (agreed hours and duties) then you deserve the payment. If they want you to exceed that they should match that increase, if they’re not going to, then screw ’em. 

You kept your part of the deal, now get your arse home.

Because nobody is going to be on their deathbed lamenting the fact they didn’t spend more time at work. Go home. Have fun. See your loved ones.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.