One Man’s Treasure

I worked in a pawn shop for a couple of months. It was grim. My boss was an utter wanker, the days were long and tedious, and there was a constant stream of depressed looking “customers”.

The boss would buy stuff off people who were in desperate need of some cash, and if they didn’t buy it back within a month he would sell it on, making a profit.

We took a lot of stuff and most was generic stuff that nobody could form sentimental attachments with- TVs, kitchen appliances and so on. 

Others were a bit more personal and therefore more depressing. It’s hard not to be moved by the fact someone had to pawn their kid’s bike or their engagement ring just for some quick cash.

I found musical instruments fitted into this category. An untouched, unplayed guitar or keyboard has a forlorn air about them. They hint at potential unrealised or a dreams abandoned. Someone bought that guitar with aspirations and ambition, but those were abandoned because they were short on rent or needed to buy food. 

The guitars didn’t get plucked. Nobody shredded a mind blowing solo on them. They didn’t even gently weep. They just stood there, silent and untouched until the boss nagged at us to clean them.

Of course, they would get sold on. There was always some new dreamer who’d stroll in and rescue them, giving them another chance at musical glory.

But I saw one recently that I doubt will shift. I’d strolled into a shop in Barry for a new old game to replace FIFA as my obsession. About to leave I looked at a wall of guitars.

One stood out. It was unique to say the least.

Good sticker positioning.

It was so different and individual, and delightfully tacky.

MWF disagrees, seeing it as awful whereas I think that it’s one of those occasions where some thing’s badness is the charm. 

I quickly formed an image of the previous owner. I imagined that they were into ’80s and ’70s rock in a big way. This had probably played a Scorpions song or two, or some Van Halen riffs.

I was surprised that the store had bought it, unless they thought the guy (99% sure it would be a guy) would come back for it. They can’t have expected to sell it on.

I mean, it’s so different that the chance of finding someone else who will pick this one is slim. Tastes differ and I imagine this wouldn’t be to everyone’s.

A kid wanting to be the new Ed Sheeran won’t want something like that. A guy who plays in a wedding band will pass it over. No, this is an instrument which will only appeal to a select few. 

I went back in a short while later, and it’s still there. Part of me wants to keep going in to check on it. I imagine it will be there for a while until another hair metal fan wanders in and spots it.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO. 


I don’t shave for Sherlock Holmes. Or anyone else.

“Are you going to shave for the wedding?”

This is something I’ve been asked quite a lot recently. Sometimes repeatedly by the same person, which is a little annoying. One of my friends is not a fan of the face fuzz and clearly feels that I would look better clean shaven on the big day. This is fine, but as I’ve stated that my opinion opposes this the matter should be laid to rest now, right?

16142457_10158146693335077_1434744708657090945_n

Me in the classic “look at my ring” pose

This is the first time I’ve really grown a beard properly. Prior to this I just used to occasionally let it grow for a while because I was too lazy to shave regularly. I am terrible at shaving, and would emerge smooth faced and bleeding like a character in an ’80s slasher movie.

As a student nurse I had to keep myself tidy while on placement, mainly because of the constant whining of my mentor. However, since I decided nursing wasn’t for me, I’ve not shaved in about a year and a half.

I’m not sure I should share that as it highlights just how patchy and crap my facial hair growth is. Seriously, look at the above photo. There’s enough hair there for me to rock a decent moustache and chin beard, but it’s all spread out across my face, meaning that my beard isn’t the best. I wish it was like one of those old magnet and iron filings things where I could just move the hairs around my face until I had a decent full beard.

I’d love to boast a full on Grizzly Adams beard, but alas, my hair grows in a stupid pattern. At least it now looks like an intentional beard, for a while it just looked like laziness.

405x-1

Brian Blessed- Beard goals.

This is a downside of having a beard at the moment. I get the sense that people see it as me following the current trend for hirsute men. This isn’t true, it’s just a coincidence that beards are “in” while I’ve grown mine.

The reasons for my beard? Simple really;

  1. My hatred of shaving
  2. Laziness. It’s one less thing to do during my early morning zombie state.
  3. MWF likes the hairy look, so making her happy is an additional perk.
  4. The last time I did shave, for a job interview, I looked really young. And stupid. So, I’ll stick with mature and stupid for the foreseeable future.

I’ll give the beard a trim before the wedding, so that I look a little smarter than normal, but I don’t think shaving it off would do much.

Besides, it doesn’t matter how tidy I look at the start of the day, sooner or later I’ll spill food or drink down myself and shatter the illusion of being a smartly dressed grown up.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Chrises on Infinite Earths 

“What if…?”

Those two words can drag you right down the rabbit hole. You think about how things might have played out differently, chances missed and roads not taken. 

Of course, it’s all pointless. Any science fiction fan knows that one slight change can create a whole parallel world. 

Given a time machine and the chance to do things over would I, knowing it risked what I have now?

My life isn’t perfect, and there are things I’d change but for the most part I’m happy. I’m marrying a fantastic woman later this year and am relatively healthy. Who knows what altering something I did might do?

Let’s say I went back and worked harder in uni the first time, actively pursued a writing career and became a writer for real. Read by thousands, not just whatever schmucks stumble across my blog. In some alternate world I might be their version of Hunter S. Thompson or Norman Mailer.

But without the winding, unplanned path I’ve taken the past decade I wouldn’t have wound up trying to be a nurse. I wouldn’t have met MWF and wouldn’t be sat in our house, our cat dozing on my lap, writing this. I might be sat lonely in some flash flat, or dating someone I don’t love. I could be divorced. I could be dead.

That’s the scary thing about the whole alternate reality thing. Sure, there are infinite possibilities of where your life has taken you but there are millions of universes where your story already finished. Or never even began. 

Worlds where your mum and dad never met because some minor event went a different way earlier on. And the whole thing just expands to mind bending proportions. The fact that it’s you reading this is a result of thousands of years of things going a certain way, and that one tiny bump might have meant it didn’t happen.

Hell, a chromosome either way and you’d be a different gender.

It’s the kind of thing that starts to mess you up when you think about it. When you realise just how close you’ve come to having a different life. The whole thing is an exercise in wishful thinking, you wonder about how you could have done stuff right and been better off, but the fact is at a certain point you’d have stopped being you. 

Our experiences are what shapes us, I am who I am because of the mistakes and failures along the way as much as my wins. I’ve learnt and grown because of things which have hurt me or been difficult, and if I had a smoother road I might have developed in a different way. And the fact is, while I know there are parts I could improve, for the most part, I like who I am today.

I may not have the job I want, but in the world where I played for Wales or became a superhero I might have lost out on the stuff I do have.

So why torture myself with what if questions? I should just appreciate the good that I have in my life, and work to change the parts I don’t like. 

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Scribbles

I need a new winter coat. I have been saying this for some time and yet every month I find better ways to spend my money. But every time I wait for a bus or shiver on a walk to the shop I remind myself that I need a new coat. Of course, once back in the warm this is forgotten.

While shivering at the bus and unable to work out how long the next bus would be (Cardiff Bus don’t have a board up and their website isn’t the best) I looked for a way to distract myself.

Twitter was all innuendo about the next US President and Facebook had already been exhausted before leaving the house. I needed something to distract from the fact that the cold 

Thank the gods for the slack work of Barry Council. The bus stop down the road is used by a lot of school kids and as a result the lamppost there is like a time capsule of teenage expression through Tippex and marker pens.

I love stuff like this. I love that Beth’s scrawl from 2000 is still there, over sixteen years later. 

But don’t condemn Barry too much, in the late ’00s a wall in Briton Ferry was still calling for Thatcher to be removed. Perhaps it’s deliberate? A way of preserving history, and not idleness. Either way, I like this glimpse into who lived there and what was going on with them.

 I love the nostalgia of seeing phrases I scrawled myself again- Y2K and the other years similarly abbreviated, the deliberately poorly spelled “woz ‘ere” and the acronyms under the declarations of love. 

I haven’t seen it or thought about it in years but I instantly remembered that IDT meant “if destroyed true”, a sort of insurance policy should your vandalism be vandalised. Otherwise your love would die as soon as someone came along with a compass or their own Tippex.

I read the lamppost, the insults and slander, the marking of territories and the announcement of relationships. I always wonder what happened to these couples. Are any still together or have these all fallen by the wayside, living on only as faint memories and scruffy graffiti?

Michelle and Flowers saw fit to declare their love twice, were they more serious than the others? Or more insecure? Does either even pass the lampost and feel a tinge of regret, or the soft glow of nostalgia?

I know there’s graffiti carved on the walls of Pompeii and the Tower of London. This need to leave a mark on the places we go seems to run deep, and it makes you wonder if in a few centuries time whether “Buck Rogers woz ‘ere 24K19” will be scratched into some distant moon.

Personally I think keeping old graffiti up is quite interesting and a good thing, and not just because it distracted me from the fact my nipples were threatening to pierce my t-shirt.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Underground

Inspired by a Daily Post prompt.

And I should warn you right here, this is a bit of a grim blog. So consider yourself warned.

I’m not a very brave guy. I have a lot of fears. Off the top of my head- clowns, spiders, zombies, heights and that I’m actually allergic to nuts but have been brainwashed into forgetting this and am one Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup away from death.

But high on the list? 

Being buried alive.

A few years ago I went and saw Ryan Reynolds in Buried and left the cinema shaking, and I can’t think of a film that has left me so shaken. if you haven’t seen it, it’s a cracking thriller from what I remember.

Shout out to the “groundbreaking” pun

I can’t remember when I first heard about people being buried alive, I think it came from being told people used to get bricked into walls back in medieval times or something. But it chilled me then.

I’m claustrophobic and as a kid had problems with the dark, so it makes sense that this would mess with me, but unlike a lot of fears this one gets worse the older you get. 

And knowledge is not power here.

As a kid I thought it would suck. As an adult I realised that was a massive understatement.

Not just the enclosed space but the just knowing it was all over. That would be the worst part. If you have a terminal illness you can say goodbye to your loved ones, but just knowing you were trapped?

Forget Kill Bill in the real world you ain’t getting out. And that’s what terrifies me. You hear those “they thought they were dead” stories and they usually have a happy ending, I mean the person was alive after all, and probably headed for a big pay out from the doctor who dropped the ball.

But I can’t be alone in thinking what about the folks who woke up after the burial? How many coffins have scratch marks on the inside?

This has to be the most morbid entry I’ve ever written. Blame bingeing on The Walking Dead and being tired, I guess. Although I suppose it is kinda reassuring that if there ever are zombies a lot of them will be trapped six feet under.

I am painfully aware that should I ever become a masked crime fighter I have just told my enemies how to get rid of me in the worst way.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Stop Sticking Giant Bows on Babies

The bow is too big. If you changed the scale no adult would wear a bow that big. Not by choice. Look at this poor model, look how unhappy she looks because of that stupid bow that some designer thought was a good idea. She knows it looks ridiculous.

But despite this I see them all the time. Babies forced to wear gigantic bows because of their mother’s insecurity and fear someone will misgender their daughter.

You’ve probably seen them too. A baby with a giant bow. The only purpose to say “This is a baby GIRL! Don’t you even dare think about saying that she’s a ‘handsome little fella'”

Is it really that annoying? Most babies kinda look alike, bald and with big eyes. Cute but dress ten babies in white and I bet the successful gender guess rate would be quite low. 

If someone does make a mistake just correct them and go on with your day. It’s no big deal. Just be glad they didn’t say something like “why the hell have you got a dog in your pram? And what the hell happened to it?”

People want to say something nice about your baby and if they’re not sure they’ll guess if it’s a boy or a girl, and they might be wrong but they know that they can’t just call the little nipper “it” as that’s just plain rude.
Just accept the compliment, politely inform them that he is a she, or vice versa and everything is sorted. Don’t dress your girl like a damn birthday present!

The old fashioned “pink for girls, blue for boys” is silly enough, but the bow trend is frankly ridiculous.

It’s silly to get worked up over. So what if a stranger thinks Glenda is Glen? Does it effect them at all? Didn’t think so.

I find it weird there’s no male equivalent. Or are that what those knitted beard hats are for?

Not gonna lie. That is cuter than a whole box of buttons.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Building a time machine so I can go slap Past Me

A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.
               – Muhammad Ali

I both hate and love Facebook’s “On This Day” feature, mainly because how it makes me feel about my past self. At it’s best it can remind me of good times I’ve had, places I went and things I did. At it’s worst it can make me realise that Past Chris was kind of an idiot.

Luckily I haven’t found anything too bad, although there are a few statuses which have prompted some cringes of embarrassment. Either because they show how dull my life was (I doubt people cared that I was watching daytime TV) or because they are laddish or stupid.

We don’t really think about ourselves changing, because it happens gradually over time, but this is like being confronted with how you used to be. At the time I don’t remember thinking I was being a bellend, but reading them back that’s the word that springs to mind.

Worst are some of the answers I gave on quizzes I used to do. I think I had this idea that being blunt and honest about sex and stuff was mature but it just comes across as crass and there are a few which have me despairing for Past Chris.

image

Picard listening to his early Captain's logs.

Take my 2008 answer to the question of whether there was someone of the other gender on my mind:

Vaguely, I was just thinking about a friend of mine because she’d posted some new photos to a group which are cleavagetastic

Oh. My. God.

I sound like an utter arse. I mean firstly, why share that much? Especially as my friend, whoever she was,would probably guess it was about her and might not like the idea of a friend perving on her. Also “cleavagetastic”?!?! What the hell was I thinking. I just wish I could apologise to the girl for what is quite a sleazy response.

Urghh.

It gets worse. Also from 2008 I was asked “if you could cheat on a loved one and there was no chance of getting caught would you do it?”. My answer seems so alien to me now:

If the person was hot, and I couldn’t get caught, then sure.

What makes it worse is that when I wrote this I was in a relationship! I can only imagine how thrilled my the girlfriend was when she saw that.

I suspect that if 2016 Chris met 2008 Chris he wouldn’t like him that much, and be a bit disappointed in himself.

image

I've come back because I've been rereading our old updates. And we were being an arse. Sort it out, dude.

I’ve only been on FB since 2007, so none of the things I’ve seen are a decade old and even they seem an age ago. I think despite having joined as an adult I’ve definitely grown up a lot since then, and now I can’t recognise some things about the person I was. My views on things have changed, what I say and how I say them is different and I definitely think I’m more mature now.

I wonder what the 2008 version if me was thinking when he typed these answers, how he thought these answers were okay. Whether he considered how some of the stuff he wrote might effect others?

It doesn’t seem so. It seems like I was self involved and unthinking. I wonder how many people I upset with things I wrote, and am actually grateful my old blogs are gone now, because I dread to imagine what i wrote on them.

I’m far from perfect now. I make mistakes, but I try to think before I post and if I do upset someone I feel bad, but am I doing well enough? Or will 2024 Chris be sitting reading over old blogs and status updates and groaning, cursing the current me as a fool? Who knows, what I do know is that I feel glad I have changed, that I am more thoughtful and sensible, and hope that I keep moving in that direction.

I think this is why people in time travel movies are always warned not to interact with their former selves, not because of insanity or tearing away the fabric of time and space, it’s just because seeing your old safe will be an embarrassing and frustrating experience.

If anyone feels like sharing their own embarrassing social media past feel free to share in the comments, let me know I’m not alone.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Louis Tomlinson and the Baby Drama

I don’t like the term “guilty pleasure”, it often seems to be a cop out for people who don’t want to admit liking something which is considered to be naff (a cheesy movie or uncool band). The closest I have to one is reading the tweets of One Direction fans on Twitter.

image

Whenever there is a One Direction related news story I always check Twitter because it’s guaranteed to be trending as the Directioners are legion and tweet happy. Seriously, all the criticisms of social media of making it too easy and immediate to put your foot in your mouth are proven with Directioners who tweet with a visceral, purely emotional style.

It’s fascinating to read because it’s so gloriously raw and unfiltered. When you’re a teenager, as most 1D fans are, everything takes on more resonance and your emotions are far more intense and varying. I blame the hormones. And the result is manic tweets which can express hatred, love and seeming madness. A lot of fans are normal, even witty, but it’s the nutbars who are so fascinating.

image

A shrine where Harry threw up. What the hell?

It can get ugly and the Directioners issue death threats with the frequency of a comic book villain. But of late it’s taken a weird, surreal turn.

This is because there is a One Direction conspiracy theory. And it is utterly crazy.

The theory seems to be the work of the “Larry Shippers” a subgroup of Direction fans who “ship” (mentally pairing two people together romantically, can be fictional or real people) two of the band members together, Harry and Louis, hence “Larry”.

This is despite both men having had relationships with women and commented that it’s weird and not true, there is still a branch of the One Direction fandom which believes it is a thing and that the boys are being forced to hide their love.

Firstly, I just want to say, and I know I sound old here, but this shipping two boy band members together seems a new thing. I can’t remember girls at school discussing whether Ronan and Keith were secretly dating or fantasising over them together. Maybe they did, but the  fledgling internet didn’t give them an outlet yet.

It seems odd, but allow me to play amateur psychiatrist for a moment.

image

While they may be daydreaming of being with one of the band on some level the fan has realised this is unlikely. However, they want their idol to be happy. But the idea of them with another woman is hard to deal with.

By pairing them together they can have their idols be happy but there’s no woman to be jealous of. It’s a sort of coping mechanism.

Anyway, last year Louis got a girl pregnant and Twitter was awash with Directioners losing it. There was anger and disbelief, and the woman involved, Brianna Jungwirth, got a lot of flak, which wasn’t cool.

The conspiracy theory was that the pregnancy was bogus. Then the baby was born. Then they changed it to that the baby was a fake. And now it’s that Louis isn’t the father of the baby.

The idea is that the band’s management has orchestrated a fake pregnancy in order to cover up the fact that Larry is real. Brianna is, I guess, an actress? And the baby is someone else’s, and all of this is done to cover up the homosexual relationship.

Now, most conspiracy theories are a little nuts, but this one falls down early on because it just doesn’t make sense. Think of all the effort this would take to set up and all the people who might blab. And the reason for it doesn’t work either.

It’s 2016, and 1D are making serious bank. I doubt that if two came out as gay it would hurt their rep that much. Sure, they might take a hit as the anto-gay parents stop their kids listening, and maybe a few fans themselves would bail, but One Direction’s core audience is younger and you’d expect them to be more accepting. Hell, it might even win them a bigger gay audience.

The risk to gain ratio is all off. Faking a pregnancy is tough, and the potential gain from it doesn’t justify it.

The theory has apparently been bubbling away online for a while but it’s blown up recently with Brianna herself commenting on how upsetting reading all the analysis and accusations is (here’s a more detailed look at the theory). I can only imagine how awful it must be to know people are scrutinising your uploads and accusing you of lying.

It even made the front page of a national paper, admittedly The Star but still, it’s bizarre that it got this far.

image

Like all conspiracy theories it holds an odd fascination for me as I can’t quite get my head around why people feel like this and am unconvinced by their “evidence”. Like UFO nuts or flat earthers it’s a glimpse into a subsection of society who have some out there ideas.

But it’s important to remember the real people involved, and this might be hurtful for them. Also, I don’t envy Louis having to sit his son down at some point and explain all this.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


How about no? Valentine’s day and kids

Prompt: How to make Valentine’s Day fun/meaningful for kids.

Don’t.

Kids don’t care about Valentine’s day. And that’s the way it should be.

I always find it kinda creepy when kids are pushed to do “romantic” stuff, like those You’ve Been Framed clips where tots have clearly been told to kiss.

Romantic love is something that comes later. Kids’ idea of romance is based on movies and stories, and rather superficial. They don’t care that Snow White and the Prince barely know each other, or see that as a problem for them getting hitched.

Some kids have boyfriends and girlfriends but these aren’t like proper relationships, they’re just a name they give to a male or female friend. I remember a mate of mine in primary being the boyfriend of a girl in our class. He seemed confused by this development and all it involved was them holding hands briefly at break.

My little sister had a couple of these, although her allegiances were fickle. A Valentine’s card from one boy earned him the boyfriend tag, but he was dropped when another boy, who’d been ill on V-day, presented her with chocolates. You can pull that at 7, but in a real relationship? No dice.

Valentine’s Day in primary is weird. I get that for teachers its an easy way to pass the time, getting the kids to make cards or whatever, and there are probably morons parents who think it’s cute for Junior to give a card to a girl in his class.

The problem is that kids might be upset when they don’t get a card and others do, which may happen when they’re older in secondary, but you’re slightly better prepared then. As a kid that rejection would sting.

image

The alternative is that everyone gives everyone else a card, but this is bollocks too. For one, it devalues the whole exercise, and it also could make some kids think more is going on than there is, like when Ralph got a card from Lisa.

image

The main reason this “cards for all” idea fails is because Valentine’s Day teaches us about rejection and that’s important, if painful. It ain’t always gonna be sunshine and rainbows, and you need to know that.

Cue the violins.

I didn’t get a Valentine’s until I was 22. Twenty two!!!

Did I enjoy going through my teens without getting any? No. Did it destroy me? No, it just taught me that you’re not going to be everybody’s cup of tea. Sometimes you won’t be anyone’s, but when you finally are it feels all the better.

image

How I felt during my teens

Don’t try to make Valentine’s fun or meaningful to kids because it’s not meaningful and it won’t always be fun. You hear parents whinging about kids growing up too fast, but then they push Valentine’s Day on them.

Maybe it’s the parents who need to have it made meaningful for them? So that they understand it’s about longing and romantic love. About exchanging tokens of affection or confessing your love.

That has nothing to with kids. Well, I guess it leads to making kids, but that’s it.

Let kids enjoy the time before crushes, rejection, awkward first dates and all that jazz. That time will come, there’s no need to bring it forward.

Oh, and parents who get their own kids cards? I find that weird as all hell too.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Why I might have to get a misspelt tattoo

Not long after I started my current job I was on break and one of my coworkers had a new tattoo poking out from her sleeve. Conversation turned to tattoos and people compared theirs. I showed off my own ink, and the girl showed a couple of hers.

On her upper arm was a text piece which looked a bit off. It turned out to be a drunken tattoo done on holiday and meant to be “Hakuna Matata” from The Lion King.

image

Words to live by

The only problem was that it actually says “Hahuna Matata”. She explained that she knew this and, to be fair, she was pretty cool with it, so lived up to the motto she’d wanted.

I’d half forgotten about this when I caught sight of another coworker’s ink, and it was more writing. This time I couldn’t see the whole thing just the last word, and I tried to guess what language it was.

Luckily, they moved just as I was about to ask about it, and I saw the rest, which was in a language I recognised.

It was Welsh.

I hadn’t recognised it because it was misspelt, with two of the letters the wrong way around. I wondered if he knew this. Should I tell him?

I decided not to. I don’t know the guy that well and I didn’t want to embarrass the dude.

But really, this is Wales, wouldn’t someone have seen the error? If you don’t speak Welsh why go for the language, when the same idea is expressed in other languages? A Spanish or French misspelling would be bad on holidays but lots of Welsh folks could pick up on the error now.

Or couldn’t he or the artist have Googled the spelling? When I decided to get a tattoo that included a foreign language (Latin) I made sure to properly research it so that (a) it was spelt right and (b) meant what I wanted it to mean.

But as spelling errors in tats are such a trend at work maybe I shouldn’t have bothered? I’d fit in better, or should I just go get someone to mess up a new one?

Hmm, maybe not, my inner pedant means I would drive myself nuts glaring at the offending artwork.

People will want foreign phrases tattooed but you have to make sure you get it right, although it’s more embarrassing to cock up some ink in your native tongue.

image

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.