Monday, 27 October 2014

Graffiti (an update)

So the most brilliant thing happened today!

I received an email from my ex-girlfriend. In itself not something that I would usually term brilliant.

On average I receive around 25 emails a day, 20 of which are spam (although spam I have for one reason or another signed up for) 2 or 3 that are of some importance and usually of some annoyance to myself and then another couple that are in some way helpful or useful to me. Very rarely are any of these emails brilliant in anyway.

It's also fairly rare that I get an email from my ex-girlfriend and although she is a lovely and rather hilarious young woman, as is the nature of breakups, the emails have not always been of the "Hi, how are you?" variety. However, the email that I received today was well and truly at the top of the class for brilliant emails and it completely made my day!

Almost a year ago now, on the morning of the 5th November, the day after my 30th birthday and a day that would have been our 4th anniversary - had we not gone through a horrendous (at least for me) breakup 6 months before - I travelled the length of London on two night buses to do this:

You can read the full and wonderful story behind the sheep image above by clicking here:
read me, read me, read me.

And then today my ex emailed me this photograph:

Now incase you can't tell what is happening in this photograph: the "work of art" that I have decided to name 'I love ewe' is stencilled onto a wall around the back of the Chelsea Old Town Hall (a famous wedding venue). & in this photograph - kindly sent to me by my ex - a bride and groom are having their photograph taken in front of it! A BRIDE and GROOM are having their picture taken with my terrible attempt at graffiti hahahahah how amazing is that!

Now when my ex first saw 'I love ewe' on the morning of the 5th of November 2013 when the special sheep friendly paint was still fresh she of course couldn't believe the coincidence - there was obviously a reason I chose the image of a sheep. If you're still in the dark then do read the full story here - and emailed me to tell me about it. Most likely more than half convinced I would tell her that she hadn't gone mad and it was of course me who had done it. However, also not totally sure if I was that romantic crazy!

In reply to her email I told her that it was in fact down to me and that I had done it in order to gain "closure" haha what an idiot! In truth it had nothing to do with closure - although I longed for some - and everything to do with still being madly in love with her, but I couldn't tell her that now could I? She had already moved on and was happy with another. So instead I told her that it was done in search of closure.

However, although it wasn't for closure, I now realise that it was a bit selfish! At the time I didn't realise how intrusive it was. I didn't think about my ex having to see it everyday. & so I just hope that when she does sees it, it makes her smile - laugh at what an idiot I am - and if she ever finds herself feeling down and alone, she can look at it and know that - whatever the future holds and wherever it takes us - somewhere in the world there is someone who will always think that she is a truly wonderful human being.

And so as late a gesture as it was - I should have done it when we were still together. When it would have been a nice romantic gesture - and as much sadness as is connected with it (it was done when I was still utterly heartbroken). This image was created in love and done for romantic reasons and so I think that it is wonderful and quite fitting that people are now using it as part of their 'big day'.

ps. Does this make me a famous street artist now? Some people are calling me the new Banksy - ok so no that was just me to all my friends - and I heard that The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea are thinking of putting up a piece of perspex to protect it! Ok so that's not true either, simply a rumour I'm starting myself haha but still, this image would appear to be getting more love than most of the things I write. Maybe I should be thinking about a change of career?

Friday, 24 October 2014

Appear on tv

Appearing on tv is something that would be pretty cool and is something I would love to do - I once did an auditioned for a pilot of a tv show I don't think ever got made called Hobby Swap - but not something that was necessarily on the list of things to do. It isn't something that I have pursued or would have known how to make a reality.

However, when I was up in Edinburgh I had a surprise phone call from a production assistant at a production company called Fulwell73 - a quick check of their website and they have done a fair bit of tv and some films too - about a tv programme they are producing for Channel 4.

The programme is in partnership with a movement called Check One Two - who are aiming to help prevent deaths from testicular cancer by getting people talking about their "love grenades" - and will form part of Channel 4's Stand up to Cancer season.

This is exciting. It isn't totally random. I have had some contact with Check One Two and I have previously circulated this #FeelingNuts crotch grab photograph:

But this phone call has come as something of a surprise. The production company have heard about my one man play one lump or two - which is partially about finding a lump downstairs and convincing myself that I was dying from testicular cancer (true story) - and they want me to come in and record a poem around this experience. This is amazing! Do I have anything - it must be under a minute - that I could do? I don't but I have time. I can write something new!

Now the phone call ends with the production assistant saying something to the effect of "we really want you to be involved but these things have a habit of changing". I know what this means. It means that I shouldn't get my hopes up because it probably won't happen. I try not to get too excited. I tell myself that I shouldn't tell anyone as these things have a habit of blowing up in your face. You tell everyone you're going to be on the telly and then you look like an idiot when it doesn't happen.

I keep it to myself. It's hard so I tell my mum and one of my best friends but no one else. And in the lobby of a hotel in Majorca I write this little poem about the time I went for an ultrasound examination a couple of years ago (true story):

Already Awkward

This is already a little awkward
because although I've been here many times before
this just doesn't get any easier.

I lie here
pants around my ankles
ice cold gel upon my testicles
and a tiny strip of blue tissue paper
to hide my rapidly shrinking pride.

As I lie here, surprised
that my testicles haven't ascended back up inside
she reads the discomfort written across my face
and tries to put me at ease, by telling me:
you have nothing to worry about.
Everything is fine.
You have lovely testies.

Did I hear her right?
Surely she meant normal? Or healthy?
This is already a little awkward
without the ultrasound technician
telling me: you have lovely testies!

While I'm up in Edinburgh for the festival and then while I'm away in Majorca on holiday I keep in touch with the production assistant via email. After a couple of false starts a date is set for me to go to a hotel in central London and film my thing. This might actually happen! But then things change slightly. It's not going to be a poem any longer. This is a little gutting because I had thought that not only was I going to appear on tv but I was going to be on tv doing something I love and that I think I'm quite good at - showcase my "talent". Instead it's now going to be an interview about my experience and that's fine. I'm still going to be on tv.

So on September 16th I put on a shirt - I want to look my best if I'm going to be on the telly- and I go to the Sanderson Hotel and I film my VT (video tape):

Walking into the room is really cool. It's set up in the same way that you see movie stars being interviewed on the tv. I feel like a movie star! Of course I don't but it's pretty cool all the same.

So that's it. My part is filmed. Except this is tv and although I know next to nothing about tv production I know enough to be aware that my part in the final programme is not safe. I must wait and see if I make the final cut. I think I've got a good chance because although they have a lot of great comedy - Jack Whitehall is hosting and they have plenty of big names like James Corden and Harry Enfield, there is even a Men Behaving Badly sketch - like Children in Need this programme needs a heart! I'm the Indian Street Children of Feeling Nuts - a slightly insensitive metaphor but you get the idea - they need me!

But then a whole month goes by and I still haven't heard anything. It's in the tv guide but I still have no idea if I'm going to be apart of the show. This must only meant one thing - my part hasn't made the final cut. I email the production assistant and unfortunately I'm right. My interview has been cut. The email reads: "I'm sorry to say that those interviews didn't make the final cut. After we finished the live show and completed all of out VT's there was over an hour's worth of footage that had to be taken out" Which I find really odd!

All of the interviews were cut? If mine was cut to make room for another then fair enough. But if they have all been cut then surely they're missing the point? What exactly is the purpose of all the stand up and sketches if the show has no heart? Surely the show needs to have an element of true story and education? After all, it's a programme aimed at raising awareness about testicular cancer!

Do I sound upset? Of course I am slightly upset that my bit hasn't made the cut. I was excited about being on tv. A little less excited about seeing myself on tv - that would have been difficult - but it would have been cool. But I also completely understand my part not making it. That's totally fine. They are tasked with making what they believe to be the best 90min show that they can.Except! I keep reading and rereading the email. Surely some interviews / real life stories have made the cut? Although the comedy and the celebrities will bring in the audience, that is also just fluff! You need some real content - about testicular cancer - or the whole thing is completely pointless!

Well the only way to find out is to watch it. I'm looking forward to seeing the programme and to finding out if they managed to achieve a good balance of comedy and "education".

Feeling Nuts is on Channel 4 at 11.05pm tonight (Friday 24th October 2014).

ps. I have been reassured that there are interviews that have been kept in (just not mine *cries haha).


Monday, 20 October 2014

Shave my head

Don't worry people. Yes I do appear to be going through something of an early midlife crisis but no I haven't gone all Britney on you. No, shaving my head was on my original list of things I'd never done before. I'll tell you for why and it isn't because it's something that I've always wanted to do.

When I was around 14 I had a very brave mouth that would regularly go on about how I was going to shave my head. I would tell all my friends and anybody else who would listen that I was going to shave my head on the weekend but then come Monday morning I would have to go back into school with my tail between my legs and the same curtains, gelled up quiff or other equally bad hair style - that was somehow fashionable at the upper end of the 90's - that I had had on the Friday afternoon. This happened a lot! Too many times for someone who was meant to be intelligent. But here's the thing: each time I said it I meant it! I genuinely thought that I would go through with it and shave off my locks but in the end I was just too scared to get it done. I was even too scared to get it done during the school holidays. & so never ended up getting it done. Lots of my friends did it at one time or another. But although I've had a number of different hairstyles over the years.

Including this lovely bowl cut:

these highly fashionable curtains:

that time when I got highlights:

& it being really quite long at some point:

One of the things that I've never done with my hair is to shave it all off.

But why have I been so scared? Well there were two main reasons. I have always been a bit concerned about how it would look. When I was in school in particular, I was worried about what the girls would think. Even before my hair started to recede - a good reason to have done this a lot sooner - I've always had a fairly decent sized forehead. An Ant McPartlin sized forehead maybe? Secondly, I was also always quite worried about what my mum would say. When I recently told her I was going to shave my head she told me how I was going to look like an uneducated thug. So yeah as a 14 year old I was definitely more than a little concerned about what she might say or do. But now that I'm 30, I can shave my head if I want to without having to worry - too much - about her reaction.

But that's the thing: "if I want to" because of course I haven't wanted to since I was in school and even then I'm not sure how much I wanted to and how much it would have been for "appearances" - to appear cool, edgy or "hard"? And I don't want to do it now! Why else would I keep bottling out? You see I've been saying that I was going to do it for a whole year now. I managed to put it off for a fair few months by saying that I was going to do it when I was up in Edinburgh in August, but again just like when I was still in school, I bottled it. The plan was to do it live on stage as part of my Year31Projsct show. Which sounded like a a great idea at the time. However, once I was up there I realised two things: 1. it didn't fit into the show.  2. I was too scared.

However, as I have never shaved my head before and as it is something that scares me, it is something that is absolutely perfect for the Year31Project and so it just had to be done! I bottled it all those years ago when I was a scared little 14 year old and so it was probably about time that I put that right and shaved my hair off. Even if I wished I had done it before my hair started to recede at the temples, I owed it to my 14 year old self to finally get around to it.

So here it is. For the first time ever the hair on my chin is longer than the hair on my head.




Well I said I was going to shave my head. I never said that I was going to have a skin head. This is a grade 3 which I think is more than short enough! So what do you reckon? Maybe I should keep it like this? No, I'm not so sure about that either haha but it is 1000 times better than I thought it would be. And heaven forbid that if I do go bald one day, I'm no longer too concerned about how it is going to look.

Although upon seeing a photo my sister said that with the beard I remind her of:

Which I'm not sure is much of a compliment haha

Then - after my little haircut - as a thank you to my friends Sophia, Cristina and Constanze I cooked - what somehow turned out to be - a rather nice curry. Another first. I've never cooked a curry before. It wasn't all that long ago that I wouldn't eat curry and now I'm cooking it! I'm a changed man :)

Here is a little pic of my master piece:

So all in all it was a pretty fun day and my hair doesn't look half as bad as I thought it might. What was I so scared about all those years?