Posted in Writing

I Quit Drinking for a Month and Here’s What Happened

After a particularly heavy weekend in Rome that saw me relegated to the toilet for longer than is polite, it occurred to me that I have been drinking pretty much every weekend since the age of 14. That’s almost a quarter of a century of jagermeister, beer, red wine, consequent hangovers, junk food, and existential crises.

It’s kind of gross. My last baby tooth was yanked out by my drunk-ass self in a Paceville toilet, and since then my liver has been under permanent attack. Once, at the ripe old age of 15, and all in one night, I drank 2 bottles of red wine to myself, proceeded to throw up in a bar in front of all the ‘cute seniors’, got dropped by my equally drunk best friend down a spiral staircase, threw up again all over the backseat of some random guy’s brand new car as he was driving me and my friends home, got forced into a cold shower by my friends who put me to bed where I stayed until I (surprisingly) surfaced the next day with zero memory of everything except the embarrassing parts of the night before.

I have had high expectations of my body’s ability to heal itself for quite some time now and I feel like I’ve had my fun. I’m so unbelievably bored of it, and I’m at that age where what I do now will have a much more significant impact on my lifespan than what I did when I was in my twenties. So, for this reason, I decided to stop drinking for 4 weeks, primarily just to find out if I could. For all I know, I could be a raging alcoholic, I’ve just never stopped drinking long enough to find out. But this experiment was also a way to find out if there is anything else to do for fun that doesn’t involve drinking (or joining a gym, fuck off with that). After I was finished, the plan was then to return to drinking, but at a much more modest pace. You know, like what French people do.

So, after 28 days of not drinking, here is what I discovered:

1. People Are Shit

Oh my god. People are so fucking shit, how did I not notice this? Oh yeah, that’s right, because I was smashed the whole time. Going into a social environment as the only non-drinker, I could not believe how self-obsessed everyone was. Drunk people LOVE to talk about themselves. And in the most nauseating way, too. Here are just some of things that were said to me without even a hint of irony:

  • “I’ve travelled here, and here, and here, and there, and as a result I am an authority on every single culture that exists on planet Earth at the present moment.”
  • “I teach yoga. I’m pretty amazing. Look at my bendy body, look at it bending more than is necessary. Wow, right?”
  • “I have quite a lot of money, not to sound like an asshole.”
  • “My husband has quite a lot of money. It means I have the luxury of being flexible with my career choices. I’m currently on my 9th career move because I have experienced no repercussions as a result of lack of commitment due to all the money that my husband gives me. He’s really cool like that. He respects my need to be free.”
  • “I train for 2 hours every day after work. Feel how heavy my bag is. It’s because I have to change outfits 3 times a day because of all the activities I do. I also have to carry my lunch in there because I’m vegan, so you know, I have to plan my meals.”
  • “I’m quite important, as much as I despise myself for saying it.”

No need to despise yourself, everyone else is already doing that for you.

2. I’m Not Sure Pizza Is As Amazing As I Thought

Think about it guys. It’s basically just bread and cheese with some fancy ketchup. I think the only reason I like it is because I can eat it with my hands when I’m an immobile, onesie-wearing, hungover mess on my sofa, and I don’t have to feel bad about it because you’re supposed to eat pizza with your hands. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but there are actually better things than pizza to eat if you are willing to commit to cutlery.

3. I Actually Like Sundays

When I drank every weekend, Sundays were like a horrible no man’s land for me. You can’t go out on the smash because you have work in the morning, you also can’t do anything productive like exercise or cleaning because you’re hungover from Saturday night, so you kind of just sit there in your pjs feeling this horrendous guilt mixed with dread that the working week is about to start all over again and you’ve achieved literally nothing.

When you don’t drink, however, your entire weekend is one giant Sunday. And where before it was my write-off waste of a day, now it’s like I’ve discovered a whole new day. An entire day has been added to my week. It’s amazing!

4. I’m Thinner

The fact that my drink of choice is pints of 200 calorie beer advertised by Peter Kay, of course I’m going to lose weight. I consumed up to 1500 less calories over the course of a weekend.

5. I Can Be Productive When I Want To Be

I wrote this article, for example. Since I fulfilled my life-long dream of writing for a living, you’ll be fucked if you think I’m touching a keyboard after 6pm on any day of the week or at all on the weekends. I like my free time to be as devoid of words as humanly possible. Or so I thought. Turns out that it’s not that I don’t want to write. It’s that I can’t be arsed writing because, you guessed it, I’m hungover and my brain can’t create anything other than the minimum words needed to order a pizza.

Although I don’t want to replace drinking with fitness activities (because I just don’t like people who do that), I do want to be more active in general. So, now that I’ve stopped drinking temporarily, I have joined a trapeze yoga class which is kind of awesome because you get to hang upside down and swing about under the guise of exercise, plus the other day I did some kind of martial arts drill on the roof of a seafront house in Xemxija. I mean, Jesus! My instagram has never been so horrifically smug.
#innerwarrior #namaste #livelaughlove #beautyinnature #downwarddogkindaday

[Side note: Can someone tell me how to properly hashtag? I’m not sure if you put a full stop after the end of your caption and then start your hashtags on a new line, or if you don’t use a full stop (the horror) and just go straight into the hashtags? I’m becoming my mum it’s fine.]

6. More Sex

Not surprisingly, you feel less disgusting when you’re not drinking, plus you are thinner. What does this mean? Naked! Naked all the time!

7. People Say Mean Things When They Are Drunk

Someone said to me:
“You look younger than what you are, apart from those wrinkles on your forehead. They kind of give the game away.”
Uh, thanks bitch.

And also this one:
“I mean, I don’t know your financial situation, but I’m assuming you can’t afford to buy property in Ta Giorni.”
Assuming from what exactly?? My wrinkly forehead? I’m an oil industry veteran you fucking asshole. A VETERAN. OLD MONEY. VINTAGE CURRENCY. BLACK GOLD. You don’t know me. You don’t know anything.

Turns out I can’t really afford to buy property in Ta Giorni, but whatever. At least I’m not on my 9th career move and entirely financially dependent on someone who is quite obviously fucking the company events manager, and has been for some time. SOME TIME.

8. I’m No Less Cynical

It may surprise you to hear that cutting out the drink has not made me any less suspicious of happy people. Most people still annoy me, I still hate inspirational quotes, and selfies, and narcissism, and stupidity, and charcuterie boards. If anything, it’s probably made me worse because I can’t soften my tolerance with John Smiths.

So my conclusion after a month off the booze is that I’m definitely not an alcoholic, which is nice (I got drunk to celebrate), but I’m afraid that enduring any social activity without drinking is not possible for me at this stage. It’s not the physiological need to drink, it’s that everyone else is a problem when you’re sober in a bar. If I stopped drinking completely, I would have to stop going out completely and that in itself is not healthy for a fluttering social butterfly like myself.

Saying that, I have discovered a whole new way to spend my free time, and I really like it. I like trapeze yoga, I like writing, I like organising my life, and cooking, and phoning my mum, and being good to myself. So I’ve made a deal with my inner 15 year old to only go out when I actually want to, which is only about 50% of the time that I actually do. All that’s left now is to learn how to say no…

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Posted in Writing

People Who Are Easily Offended Are Easily Offending Me

It’s been over five months since I moved to Malta and all has been quiet on the blogging front. I would regale you with tales of my recent adventures but the honest truth is, with the exception of smashing down seven Jagermeisters one night and falling into a bush, I have been relatively well-behaved.

When you first move to a new country you find yourself mostly surrounded by strangers and as a result your social life inevitably takes a bit of a temporary nose dive. Combined with my weak attempt to save money due to the oil industry well and truly fucking me in the asshole and the Mount Doom-esque temperatures outside making my hair look like I have a ball of tumble-weed stuck to my face every time I step out the house, this has resulted in me spending a lot of time indoors on the internet whilst being blissfully caressed by my air conditioning. As a consequence, this article will mostly be dealing with things on the World Wide Web that are currently pissing me off.

People need to catch a grip of themselves. Cyberspace seems to have become a land of over-sensitive, self-righteous morons with a sense of entitlement that makes Mariah Carey look like a Salvation Army volunteer. Everywhere I turn there is a barrage of conflicting information on news and social media sites that is then defended by an army of keyboard warriors who think that winning an argument over whether gluten intolerance is actually a thing is going to be their Martin Luther King Jr. moment. Like if it wasn’t for them, the Diet-Nazi minority will not be able to drink out of the same water fountain as me. Or eat the same muffins. But you can’t eat muffins because they have gluten in them so maybe you should just step the fuck away from my muffins, go eat some lemongrass and listen to Natasha Beddingfield or whatever it is you lot get up to.

I read an article recently which was written by a girl who had sex with a number of women and then proceeded to get pissy because her friends were referring to her sexuality as being that of a bi-sexual or a lesbian. She said the following: “Just because I have sex with women does not make me a lesbian” and then started banging on about how she was tired of being put in a box and labelled. I mean, what am I supposed to do with that?

It wasn’t so long ago that being gay was taboo, abhorrent to the point of criminal, and now a substantial portion of the population, myself included, are proud to come from a society where these views are no longer tolerated and most people believe that everyone is free to love whoever they choose. It’s beautiful. But then people like that go and ruin it with, well, I don’t even know. I literally don’t know what she wants from me. By all means don’t classify yourself if that’s how you feel but for the love of God don’t be offended if someone catches you chowing down on vagina and assumes you are a lesbian. We’ve only just started to make progress and yet I feel that a minority of people are encouraging regression out of fear of offence.

Sticking with the subject of homosexuality, I was having a conversation a while back with someone who suggested that the fact I had never slept with a woman is because I am in some sort of denial, suppressing my true gay feelings with the implication that I was somehow ashamed. I am not ashamed. The reason I have not slept with a woman is because I am straight. Mad for the cock, wading in scrotum, inherently attracted to all things male. I don’t understand why to some people this is now not an acceptable explanation. I shouldn’t be made to feel guilty for not being gay. I’m straight for the exact reasons that homosexuals are not straight and bi-sexuals like a bit of both. Why must we debate these things to death? It’s unnecessary, a bit antagonistic and distracting us from the real difficulties that the gay communities still face.

Another issue that is getting more than its fair share of coverage right now is that of feminist extremism. Or is it aggressive feminine equalitarianism? Or feminazism? It’s gotten so out of control that I’m not even sure what I’m supposed to call it any more.  You know what I’m referring to though, the women who are destroying my life by taking offence at literally anything that comes out the mouth of a man. It is embarrassing and it is causing me no end of problems at work.

For the majority of time that I am on a drilling rig I am the only female. Increasingly I have noticed that when I first arrive on a rig the new guys just have no idea how to deal with me. They don’t know whether to offer to help me with things in case I think they are assuming I am incapable of doing the job on my own. They don’t know how far they can go with their questionable jokes or general banter in case I report them for harassment and I sometimes struggle to be included in their social activities outside of work, presumably because they expect me to be a complete fun sponge.

The thing I loved most about my job is that we all help each other out when we can, it’s a form of bonding and I get to know my colleagues much quicker when they are not terrified to talk to me. Everyone knows how much I love a dick joke and yet I am denied this pleasure as a consequence of their unease. Feminism is supposed to help me and yet I worry that I could become alienated in my workplace as a direct result of it. I am not a “male sympathiser” I am just a person. I don’t give a fuck what sex you are, let’s just hang out and feel comfortable enough to be ourselves without the threat of repercussions.

In a lot of areas of course I support feminism, I’m not an idiot. I wouldn’t have the life I have now if it wasn’t for the movement and I am massively grateful for what women throughout history have done for us. The problem I have is that I feel it has gone from an issue of fundamental rights to an assumption on my personality. “You are a woman. Understand that we do not like drawing penises on people’s faces when they are passed out drunk, we do not like cooking and cleaning, we do not like sexualised or violent video games, we do not participate in games of cock-or-ball, we are not baby making machines – we are career-driven, independent, uptight, boring-ass bastards who are so weak that we have a meltdown every time a guy makes a distasteful quip about our periods.”

No.

I am a woman and I will decide what I feel comfortable with. Believe it or not there is a side of my personality that is completely detached from the genital lottery, a part therefore that is none of your concern, so please stop taking my fun away under the pretence of feminist progress.

Veganism. Another area of massive bullshit. It’s not the concept I have a problem with, it’s the people who ruin it for everyone else. I overheard a conversation between two vegans in a pub not so long ago. One of them ordered a vodka and Redbull to which the other, sucking air through her teeth, asked: “Oh, so you’re not a full-time vegan then?” The other girl seemed a bit confused and replied that she felt she was. “Well you can’t be if you’re drinking Redbull” was the response.

What the fuck guys? For real? Out-veganing each other?? Shouldn’t you be supportive? You are such lovers of all living creatures after all. Shouldn’t you be nurturing a tolerant, welcoming environment within your strange chlorophyll-infused club instead of smugly ostracising the very people who are trying their best to join your cause? Jesus Christ. I felt like taking that poor girl for a steak. Only drunk “lads” from Newcastle try to out-carnivore each other, the rest of us are pretty non-competitive about what we put into our bodies.

Finally, I would just like to say that I categorically do not give a shit if you read a story from a book or from a Kindle. Apparently e-books to a “real” book-reader have become the iTunes to the hipsters of vinyl martyrdom who ride around Shoreditch on their Penny Farthings eating kale-infused quinoa and wearing ridiculous shoes. Sometimes I read physical books, sometimes I read e-books. It depends how near a book shop I am and how desperate I am to read a particular story. It’s what technology is for, it gives us that choice. The fact that people genuinely sneer at this would be almost comedic if it wasn’t so infuriating.

Sometimes I think humans have become far too self-aware. That there is too much berating advice, too much chastising, too many eggshells and too much pressure to be this enlightened being of egotism and pomposity who will always know better than everyone else. I often wish things were simpler, like that I was a dog or something, just playing with inanimate objects for hours then going to sleep blissful in the ignorance of anything other than basic survival and procreation.

Maybe I will join a cult like that one in New Zealand where they just feed and impregnate me. That removal of choice right now seems like such luxury! Of course this could never happen, I don’t think they have Wi-Fi so I’d have a terrible time but I’m sure you get my point. I’m fed up of wondering if I should feed my baby organic food (I’m not even remotely pregnant for fuck’s sake), or how I’m going to support myself financially when I’m too old to work or if I’ve eaten enough fish this week to combat the myriad of cancer risks I expose myself to on a daily basis.

I shall conclude with the case of the professor Sir Tim Hunt who jokingly suggested that women shouldn’t work in labs because they keep falling in love with everyone and crying. A 71 year old Nobel Prize winner who has made significant discoveries in the areas of physiology and medicine reduced to being defined by a joke. Admittedly a shit, ‘ill-advised’ joke, but not one that I feel warranted his being torn to shreds, humiliated by the media and public to the point that he felt he had to resign.

It’s like the whole of society is expected to live by the standards of the most easily offended person, the one least capable of taking a joke. How is that fair? If we keep unquestionably relenting to these fucktards we are going to end up in a world without laughter and that, sir, is a world that I do not want to live in. Please, I implore you to stop trying to recruit me into your righteousness. I’m a lost cause, an utter disgrace of a human being, and no overbearing man, woman, lesbian, bi-sexual, gluten-intolerant, vegan, white, black, misogynistic, book-reading hipster is ever going to change that.

Posted in Writing

Moving to Malta, Mind-fucks and Megabus Gold

This site has become a poor excuse for a gaming blog. For reasons out with my control I have been console-less for a criminally long time and so instead of writing about games, I appear to have turned my life into my very own, really shit RPG that doesn’t even have any dragons. I have the storyline quests (my ongoing articles in which I talk about becoming single, moving to London or going to Thailand to “find myself” only to find myself mostly drunk) and then I break them up with unrelated side quests, articles where I go on rambling tangents about inspirational quotes and why I dislike vacuous, happy people so much. This article falls into the storyline category and is about my newest quest that is so fraught with danger and intrigue that one might even class it as a franchise title of its own. The Oblivion of Elder Scrolls for example.

After coming back from Thailand refreshed and with a new outlook on life (and also discovering that it was impossible for me to afford to live in London on my own without returning to the days of living like a hobo student), I decided that it was about time I constructed a plan to find myself somewhere reasonable to live.  This development happened to coincide with a trip to Malta to attend my school reunion. I flew over in June last year and had a week out there that was so unbelievably, mind-blowingly, fantastically fucking awesome that I couldn’t even begin to do it justice in this paragraph. It deserves an entire article to itself which I will save for another day perhaps.

Anyway, the sun was shining, I was surrounded by old friends, intoxicated by dizzying nostalgia and thrown back to a time when everything was just right, where no one questioned my weird accent or love for the Eurovision Song Contest because everyone had a weird accent and a love of the Eurovision Song Contest. One night after a few drinks, Petra (a friend of mine from school who now lives in Croatia) told me that she missed the place and would move back if she had the balls to do it alone. It didn’t take long for me to realise that with no ties back home and a job that allowed me to live outside the UK, she might not need the balls. I could be one ball, she could be the other! We could do it together scrotum style!

I woke up the next morning bleary eyed, still very keen on the idea but expecting it to have become just another drunken plan that seemed excellent at the time but so difficult to execute that it would just disappear off into the horizon like all my other wild ideas do. I had forgotten, however, that we used to live there, we know people there, it’s familiar, they speak English, they drive on the same side of the road, they have Pastizzi, it’s warm. This wouldn’t really be too much of an irresponsible upheaval. This was, in actual fact, an entirely plausible idea and after deciding in Thailand to be a bit more daring with my life decisions, I felt like it was meant to be, that this might finally be my chance. To my delight, Petra felt the same and so we spent the rest of the year planning our big move.

That big move is in four days.  I am moving to Malta in four days. Holy Fuck.

Now this is by no means a forever thing, initially more like a 6 month tester of the Mediterranean island. It’s completely likely that work or life will get in the way and that sooner or later we will have to move on but if after the 6 month trial period I still like it, then I’ll stay for as long as I want to be there.

Before I could leave though, I had some things to take care of back home in Aberdeen. I had to sell my beloved car and say goodbye to all my friends up there. I decided for reasons beyond even my comprehension that I would take the Megabus Gold, a cheap and terrifying coach company that had recently put beds on their buses. Going to sleep on a bus in London and waking up in Aberdeen was too exciting a prospect for me to turn down. The flight is only an hour and a quarter but this 12 hour adventure sounded like much more fun to me.

I had grand expectations for this trip. Because I am a dickhead I actually packed a little sleepover bag like I was going to a slumber party circa 1992. In it I had pyjamas, a bottle of water, a small packet of Oreos, a book about colonial Holland (?), make-up remover wipes, deodorant, a toothbrush, toothpaste and about 18 different chargers because I am a filthy technology whore. All that was missing was Dream Phone and a book of madlibs.

For my journey I wore a sensible mint coloured jumper with a faux-jewelled collar and my nice ‘travelling’ jeans. I sometimes get a bit of hassle for my choice of attire when travelling but I’m pretty sure that I’m not the problem here, everyone else is. When I go to the airport I like to look nice. I wear my favourite, smartest clothes, I put my make-up on immaculately and put root-booster and coconut oil in my hair. “Why?” you may ask.  Well, because I’m away to go fly in the fucking sky that’s why. I’m going to walk into a lump of metal and I’m going to soar through the clouds and when I get off it I’ll be in another country entirely. I have taken about a million flights in my life and I still can’t get my head around how amazing that concept is and yet all you assholes turn up in your jogging trousers, shit jumpers and withered ponytails like you’re getting the number 2 bus into town to pick up your dry cleaning. It’s barbaric.

I love the travelling parts almost as much as I love the destinations. I like to turn up at airports around an hour before I need to just so I can walk around and look at stuff. I sit in bars and cafes and people-watch, wondering where they are all going or where they have come from. The families with young kids who are going on “holiday” and yet look like they want to kill themselves before they’ve even made it through security, the business men and women who eat alone, pissed off they can’t smash some ales down because they’ve got some bullshit meeting to go to when they get off the plane. I then take myself off to the Duty Free and allow myself one luxury. It’s usually something shit by a designer that in any other circumstances I wouldn’t give a fuck about and try to find something that is within my embarrassingly low budget (“Excuse me, Chanel don’t do fridge magnets or keyrings by any chance?”), and of course I have to buy something made by Kinder and a Viz magazine. Then I get on the plane and have a grand old time. Maybe I was born in the wrong era, maybe I should have been Victorian. Remember the nick of them when they used to get on a train? Ball-gowns and all sorts. That’s how travelling should be, a magical event, and I will not relent even if it is for the god damn Megabus. I make the effort in homage to the wonder of travel.

Well I turned up at Victoria station and didn’t I look like a fucking retard. The place looks like visiting hours in a Turkish prison. There were people getting dragged out by police for not paying, others sleeping on the dirty floors and, my god, so much sausage roll consumption. I felt I’d misjudged the situation when choosing my outfit. I wished I’d dressed in my greasy work overalls, it would have been more reflective of my character after all.

I proceeded to get on the bus where the error of my ways became much more apparent. Everyone was wearing pyjamas already, they had gotten on the bus like that, and with no curtains on the bunk I had been assigned I had no way of getting undressed. I had to sleep in my travelling clothes and under-wire bra which was akin to sleeping on a roll of fibre glass filled with horseshoes.

As the bus pulled out of the station and made its way through the streets of London, I soon realised that falling asleep was going to be a challenge. The only thing between me and death was a 20 stone Glaswegian bus driver and there I was, lying disorientated in the pitch dark, flailing around like a new-born goat. Every time he hit the breaks my heart would race because I had no way of seeing if he was breaking for a traffic light or a fireball pile-up of dead bodies and shrapnel on the M25.

I did eventually manage to drift off and I arrived in Aberdeen unscathed the next morning. Despite my complaints, I would genuinely recommend using the Megabus Gold, it’s cheap and pretty hassle-free considering the length of the journey. Just don’t dress like a prick.

I had a few nights out organised so I could say my goodbyes and they were really great. Really. Great. As the time passed I found myself getting more and more upset that I was leaving. I have memories there and good friends and I know it inside out. Aberdeen really is a cunt. To make matters worse, I have been covertly seeing someone in Aberdeen for a little while. Remember that exotic holiday romance that I was fantasising about in my article about Thailand? Well, I got it. Except I ended up meeting someone out there from the fucking Bridge of Don. Who just happens to be awesome. A male version of me with more tattoos, an impressive book collection and an enthusiasm for the gameshow Pointless matched only by myself. He may actually be funnier than me too. Asshole.

To use an excellent analogy told to me by one of my friends: “Being from Aberdeen is like being in an abusive relationship; no matter how hard you try to leave, you just keep coming back for more.” So what started life as what I thought would be a poignant but mostly joyful departure soon became a complete and utter disaster area. There were tears at the airport and long, wistful, contemplative stares out of the aeroplane window as my home town shrank away into the distance. I did not have a grand old time on that flight and the clothes I chose to wear were decidedly more comfortable than usual.

“Stay here Jillian!” The city was singing persuasively to me from below the clouds. “Look what I’ve got for you! Friends, nights out with people who care about you, a potential husband and father of your children, dancing, going to the theatre, drinking red wine in your pjs and watching good movies, so much sex it will make your eyes water. This can all be yours, just say the word.”

But it’s a trick, and it’s not the first time Aberdeen has tried this one on me. You see, after a while the novelty of you moving back wears off for everyone and you don’t see people as often as you first did. It’s no one’s fault, it’s just the way life goes. Consecutive weekends spent dancing to Toca’s Miracle in Vogue will slowly become a 3 month thing, then a 6 month thing, an annual thing, before eventually ceasing altogether and as the weather gets worse you find yourself locked away indoors watching Escape to the Country and playing video games, desperately trying to transport yourself somewhere else, somewhere better. I’m not falling for it again. I can’t fall for it again no matter how tempting it is. I’m 34 years old, I have to get my shit together and this is my last chance to at least try the life I felt I’ve always wanted.

I don’t want to spend my copious amounts of time off from work just existing, waiting for the wind to die down so I can go to Tesco, I want to go for runs along the promenade, I want outdoor yoga that I know I’ll secretly hate, I want beers at Exiles listening to Pink Floyd and writing articles on my terrace whilst looking out at all the jet-skis and boat parties. I want to eat better, sleep better and occasionally party harder. I’m leaving you Aberdeen and I can’t believe how much it hurts. I’m also leaving you London, my little rebound fling with your fun activities, endless gigs and delicious beer and that hurts too, but *insert generic quote about risk taking and facing your fears here*. I’ll see you on the other side my beautiful friends 🙂

Begin Quest!
Begin Quest!

On a side note, there’s a good chance I’ll have a spare room so you are all free to come and visit. Bring rowies.

Posted in Picture, Video, Writing

Eurovision Extremism – A Radical Party Guide

eurovision logo

As those of you who are friends with me on Facebook will know from the onslaught of photos I have subjected you to recently, I had a Eurovision party last weekend.  Eurovision really is one of the highlights of my year. I have loved it’s overly made-up, shiny, happy, disturbing little face ever since I moved to Malta in the early 1990’s.  Over there it is kind of a big deal.  I remember being in a nightclub around 1996 when they turned the music off so everyone could hear the results – that’s right Usher, pipe the fuck down, it’s is Gina G’s time to shine.  On top of all this a good family friend of ours, Mike Spiteri, was Malta’s Eurovision entry for 1995.  Yeah you heard me, I actually know someone who has actually sang in the actual Eurovision Song Contest. You might say I am weaved into the very fabric of the establishment, buried so deep I think my balls may have just slipped in.

Mike Spiteri’s Eurovision Performance, 1995 (I have no idea who the man at the very beginning of this clip is, but I want him on me).

Unfortunately, when I am even the slightest bit vocal about my favourite event, I am usually met with one of the following reactions:

  • “But it’s shit.”
  • “But, no one can sing and the songs are shit.”
  • “But it’s so tacky and shit.”
  • “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything so shit.”
  • “It shitter than the actual shit I just took, and that was really shit.”

Or the classic:

  • “I stopped watching it when we stopped winning.  It’s so political now, it’s not about the music anymore……and it’s also pretty shit.”

“It’s not about the music anymore”??  What has music got to do with any of this?  See, the problem here is that people are thinking about the Eurovision like it is some sort of song contest or something.  It’s not a song contest.  With the obvious exception of Mike Spiteri of course, the songs are generally terrible, often tacky, commonly cheesy and almost always ten years behind regular music.  The key to enjoying the experience is letting go of the musical concept.  Let it go.  Just accept the fact that you will be hearing nothing but shite for three hours straight and I promise you you’ll start to enjoy it for what it is: Essentially The European Championship for girls.

It is about the excitement of watching all of our continental neighbours coming together to compete in a light-hearted and slightly bewildering atmosphere.  It is having the opportunity to wave fuck-loads of flags around and pretend to be patriotic.  It is the provision of an entertaining environment in which to rip the shit out of any country whose border isn’t in direct contact with ours (i.e. all of them).  Do you know how many Nazi jokes were thrown around my living-room the other weekend when Germany came on?  Fucking hundreds.

Look at his massive face.  The man does not want to be here.
Look at his massive face. The man does not want to be here. I think he even said in a backstage interview that he was having a shit time.

If that’s not entertaining enough for you, then the occasional inappropriate performance should keep you interested. This year, for example, the Ukranian entry consisted of a visibly uncomfortable man suffering from severe gigantism standing awkwardly on stage dressed as the giant from Jack & the Beanstalk. Little bit racist. There was also a lesbian kiss at the end of Finland’s performance, but they weren’t even real lesbians! What’s wrong with hiring lesbians? If you’ve got a lesbiany job to do then it’s only fair to hire some lesbians. They’ve got bills to pay too, you know. In fact, half of the shit that goes on on that stage should not even be allowed. This year alone they violated about fifteen separate human rights laws, how anyone cannot enjoy watching that is beyond me.

And in answer to those who say it is all “political”, I say this:

Denmark won this year.  Famously a real heavyweight in the political arena.  The problem you have is not with the political nature of the voting, you’re just annoyed that Britain isn’t winning anymore.  There’s nothing we can do about that.  Like powdered mashed potato and soda-streams, the UK was incredibly popular in the 70’s and 80’s but after a couple of illegal wars we are no longer the top dog.  What was once the most powerful and desirable cheerleader in the High School of Europe is now a fat, abusive, self-harming single mum with a drinking problem. It’s time for other countries to have their turn in the spotlight – and if they all want to vote for each other instead of us, that is totally fine by me. I don’t really blame them – and anyway, although the scoreboard may look slightly suspicious in places, the best song does generally always win in the end.

So, as a radical Eurovision extremist, I feel it is my duty to convert the Wogan-denying infidels of the UK.  In order to do this, I have been hosting Eurovision Parties most years since 2004.  I want to rid the world of its Euro-cynicism one social gathering at a time and it’s working.  It’s slow, I mean I think in the last nine years I’ve converted about three people, two of them children, but any progress is good progress.  If you’re sitting there thinking that you would like to help the cause by hosting your own Eurovision Party then you, my friend, are in luck because I’m about to get all Pippa Middleton on your ass…

I think you will find the similarities in our party etiquette uncanny, yah?
I think you will find the similarities in our party etiquette uncanny, yah?

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A Handy Eurovision Party Guide

By Jillian Dingwall

You will need:

  • Friends
  • Eurovision Scorecards, Sweepstake and Poster (pictured below, download them here)
  • Pictures of Terry Wogan
  • A Word document containing the flags of all the participating countries
  • Party Bags
  • Half the contents of your nearest Pound Shop
  • A Crown from Burger King
  • A packet of Wagon Wheels
  • Sausage Rolls
  • A shit-ton of alcohol

(Preparation time = 3 days)

DAY 1

T minus 2 days until the party

Today you will have two jobs to do: Sort out the prizes and buy all the drink.

Head to your nearest pound shop where you will find not only your prize bags, but everything you will ever need to put in them.  You can award any amount of prizes you want but I usually award them for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place.  Buy literally the most shit things you can find, making sure to include a few items with Union Jacks on them – it looks more professional if you stick to a vague Eurovision theme.  This year my prize bags included a Fray Bentos Steak & Kidney Pie for one, a Buck’s Fizz CD, a Justin Bieber watch, a British flag tea-towel and a Union Jack themed cake-decorating kit.  Once you have sorted out the main prizes, buy some small party bags, a packet of Wagon Wheels and a couple of large bags of sweets.  These will be divided up equally and handed out to each guest to take home at the end of the night.  If you’re waiting for an explanation for the necessity of Wagon Wheels then, please.  Kill yourself.

Next, head to the supermarket to get booze, stopping at Burger King on the way to steal one of their cardboard crowns.  Buy as much beer as you can fit in your car, remembering to make use of the glove-compartment space and gaps underneath the seats.  In terms of things that aren’t beer, it’s nice to have a focal point at a party and ours is usually some sort of sangria-punch concoction created by Billy, however this year my friend Alison made Eurovision cocktails which were way better.  Finally, do not forget the Jegermeister.  When you get home, sit at the dining-room table and prepare all of your party bags whilst listening to your other half tell you how much of a fucking weirdo you are.  Make sure to hide the bags in a cupboard so the guests do not find them before the official “reveal”.

If you've got time, why not go and get your nails did?  I got mine done here: GelUs
If you’ve got time, why not go and get your nails did? I got mine did here: GelUs Nails

Day 2

T minus one day until the party

I’m not going to sugar-coat this, today will be the most stressful day of your life.  Today, not only must you buy all the food, you will also have to do all the printing and decorating.

When you are buying food it is best to adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Make sure there are sausage rolls.   If I turn up at a party and there are no sausage rolls, that party is dead to me.   Don’t be a dick, give the people what they want.
  • Any food you buy has to be penetratable and strong enough to hold a toothpick. i.e. no weird pasta or salads.
  • Buy toothpicks

It is now time to get down to the business of printing all of our Eurovision paraphernalia.  The reason we must leave this job until the last minute is because of the stupid semi-finals (which I would not recommend you watch by the way, it can ruin the surprise).  You won’t know which country is participating in the finals until today and the BBC do not update their scorecards until the late afternoon because, you know it’s not like we want a professional, instantaneous service for our fucking license fees or anything.

Word document layout
Word document layout

When the BBC have finally got their act together, print off the following documents IN COLOUR:

  • A scorecard for each guest.
  • One sweepstake.
  • A few posters.
  • 3 – 4 copies of your Word document with all of the finalists flags on them (the flags must all be the same size in a 2 x 5 format like in the picture on the left).
  • Some nice pictures of Terry Wogan – I prefer to use pictures of him smiling and generally enjoying life, however the one of him on Points of View with the tight trousers and detailed penis outline is equally acceptable.

Take one set of flags and cut them all out, google the shit out of each one to make sure that you know 100% which flag corresponds to which country and then write the country’s name neatly on the back.  Set these to one side for now.  Cut out another set of flags and, along with your British Entry posters, use them to decorate your living room.  Cut out the remaining flags and cellotape them to toothpicks, these will be used to stick into your sausage rolls and mini Cornish pasties, etc.  Finally, take all of the photo-frames you have in your living room, remove the boring pictures of your children and replace them with pictures of Terry Wogan.  He may not be our commentator anymore but in British Eurovision culture it is seen as a mark of respect to acknowledge him in some small way.

Day 3

Party Day

Get up and clean the absolute asshole out of your house.  Leave a few things casually lying around, a towel over a radiator or an off-centre cushion on the sofa to present the illusion that you have given your house a quick, casual tidy-up as opposed to spending five hours cleaning the bastard thing.  Now get yourself in a shower because you stink and your guests will be arriving at any minute.

Once everyone has turned up and they have been given a drink (or in my case, have poured themselves their own drink because I am a pretty basic hostess), place all of the flags with the country’s names written on them into a hat and pass it around.  Depending on how many guests you have, get them to pull out two or three flags each.  Write the names of each person and the countries they have drawn into the sweepstake.  Put this somewhere where you can’t spill drink on it.

As well as cocktails, a Eurovision Encyclopedia was provided for research purposes.
As well as cocktails, a Eurovision Encyclopedia is provided for research purposes.

By this time the contest should be just about to start.  Make up your Eurovision cocktails and hand them out before explaining how the scoring system works.  It’s pretty straight forward really, they must score each country out of 12 depending on how good they think they are.  They can go back and change their scores right up until the first results are read out.  There is literally no purpose to this, it’s just a way of encouraging debate and people seem to enjoy it.

A promotional B&W shot of me giving out the party bags. I'm going to put it on our propaganda leaflets.
A promotional B&W shot of me giving out the party bags. I’m going to put it on our propaganda leaflets.

Top tip: It is helpful to write little notes next to your scores to serve as a reminder, because by about half way through the competition you will be so drunk you will have forgotten what the first acts were like.  For example, this year I thought the girl who sang for Russia looked a little bit like those lucky trolls from the 90’s, so I wrote “90’s Troll” next to her score.  This really helped me later on when, after my seventh Jegermeister, I was lying face-down in the back garden covered in someone else’s vomit.

After the last performance is over, put the food out while you are waiting for the final scores to be revealed (for the love of God, don’t forget to put the toothpick flags in).  The results part of the show is a bit on the lengthy side so if you want to mute the TV and stick some tunes on, go ahead.  I prefer to leave it on because the utter nonsense that comes out of each country’s presenter is almost as funny as the performances themselves.  Finally, when the winning order is announced, hand out the prizes to the guests who pulled out the corresponding flags (bestowing the Burger King Crown of Victory upon the head of the person in 1st place).  When the evening is coming to a close, give a Wagon Wheel Party Bag to everyone else as a thank you for not moaning about how shit the Eurovision is.

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So there you have it, a handy guide which if followed correctly, should result in you hosting the greatest Eurovision party ever known to man.  It’s a ‘go hard or go home’ kind of affair and there will be times when you may doubt your abilities as a host or even lose faith in the contest altogether, but if you believe in yourself like you believed in Bonnie then you will reap the rewards. Just remember this simple motto: “If you think you have gone too far, go further” and I guarantee you they will be absolutely fizzing at the slit to do it all again next year.

The best Eurovision Party guests EVER!!
The best Eurovision Party guests EVER!!
Posted in Picture, Writing

30 is the New Awesome

I have noticed that my posts have been a bit negative recently (I had a particularly bad period this month.  You’re welcome).  I have decided to balance this out by focussing on things that I actually find enjoyable and I’m going to start with my thoughts on being 30.  Despite my occasional moans, I love being 30 and hope that this article will instil a little less dread in those who are nearing my age and a new, more positive perspective for those who are already there.  For the 21 year olds who may be reading this, you can take your snug-fitting vaginas and pert tits and fuck off.  No one is interested in anything you have to say.
 
The decision to accept my age as a positive thing occurred the other month after buying my first ever anti-wrinkle cream.  I currently have three wrinkles and since it took me 30 years to gain three wrinkles I thought that by the time I am 60 I will have six wrinkles.  That is how it works right?  Well, I don’t want six wrinkles so I went to Boots and bought some wrinkle-prevention cream.  As I was smearing it onto my face, the Bryan Adams classic ‘Summer of ’69’ came on PlanetRock Radio (Sky channel 0110 – get involved) and it made me come over all reflective.
 
There are many down sides to being in your thirties and my teenage years were without a doubt the best days of my life – almost too much fun – but then I think, ‘would I go back there if I could?’ –  No fucking chance.  Being young involves far too much giving-a-shit for very little reward.  High School for me was the Care capital of the Universe.  Literally everything had to be a drama and it usually involved copious amounts of tears, alcohol, cigarettes or boys.
 
This is exactly what he looked like. He did have an axe.

Take my first attempt at losing my virginity, for instance.  I was living in Malta at the time and it happened at my then boyfriend’s house when his parents were out for the afternoon.  We were in the bedroom clumsily trying to figure out what the hell we were supposed to do to get rid of the terrible burden that is a teenager’s virginity when, about an hour in (and nowhere near actually having sex), his Grandad decided to come round for a visit.  ‘Sweet of him’, I hear you say – yes well his Grandad was in the circus; he could inflate hot water bottles with his lungs, rip the Yellow Pages in half with his bare hands and there were pictures hanging above the fireplace of him pulling an Air Malta plane using only his 3 foot high, hairy body and a chest-harness.  He also didn’t speak any English, which for some reason made him seem more scary to me.

 
Needless to say I was pretty naked and very unprepared for this impromptu visit.  We instantly panicked and, as I heard his Grandad coming towards the bedroom, my boyfriend tried to shove me into the 3cm-wide space under his bed.  This was clearly not working so he picked me up, threw my clothes at me (a pair of denim dungarees, a la TLC, no less – I miss dungarees, when are they gonna come back in fashion?) and, literally the second before his grandad came in the room, jammed me into his wardrobe.  The wardrobe door was slatted so I could see his muscly little circus feet wandering around the bedroom and for a few minutes it was touch and go as to whether or not I would successfully prevent myself from involuntarily shitting the pants I was not wearing.  Malta is a Roman Catholic country so you don’t often find naked teenagers in wardrobes and when you do, it is not considered the high-five moment it is in this country.
 
He eventually left the room and, after quickly getting dressed, I spent the next 15 minutes trying to get out of the house without him seeing me.  It was very James Bond and involved climbing extremely high walls in my socks, hiding behind plants and a lot of SAS hand signals.  I eventually emerged out into the street victorious, only for his grandad to drive past in his van beeping his novelty horn and waving at me.  He knew I was in there the whole time, the little bearded bastard. 
 
That is just one scenario out of a similar hundred that happened to me in my youth.  I spent these years permanently exhausted from either school work, numerous attempts at losing my virginity (I would like to stress that they were all with the same guy – I was generous with my time but I was by no means a slut), boarding school drama, acne/frizzy hair worries, clubbing or generally trying to fight the system.  Most of it seemed enjoyable at the time, but looking back now – absolute arsed!
 
Being in my thirties could not be further from all that hassle. These days it is very rare that I will care about anything and when I do, I don’t really care that much.  I suppose I’ve learned that no amount of stressing changes the fact that sometimes in life you just have to do things that you don’t want to do.  I used to be a bit of a free-loving, tree-hugging, animal-bumming hippy until I got a mortgage.  I now work on an oil rig raping mother earth to within an inch of her life every day so I don’t starve to death.  It’s not ideal but it’s also not as simple to save the world as you think it is when you’re young, so I just close my eyes and get on with it.  Anyway, when you hurry up and get the shit stuff out of the way, it means that there is more time for the fun stuff, see?
I can't seem to find this on their website. It must be limited edition.

 

I say ‘fun stuff’ but I’m not entirely sure that as you get older the things you consider fun are technically ‘fun’.  Take spending money for example.  Being young meant being skint and yet there were so many awesome things I could have bought if my pockets had contained more than the bus fare home and a broken cigarette.  Now that I do have the disposable income, what do I do with it?  I spend it all on scented fucking candles and bottles of Febreeze.  I have become obsessed.  A Yankee Candle shop opened in town recently and I instantly touched myself inappropriately.

Another change I have noticed is the conversations I have with taxi drivers.  I used to only ever talk to them about two things: Why I was hungover or how much he would charge if I was to hypothetically throw up all over the back seat.  Since turning 30, I still only ever talk to them about two things but now it is either about the bypass and how ridiculous it is that we still don’t have one, or it is to discuss my feelings about the plans for Donald Trump’s golf course and the effect it will have on the local community – I was against it until I found out Tiger Woods was a dirty slut, now I say “build the fucking golf course and get his hot little black ass as close to my house as possible”.  There are plenty of places for badgers to live, but how often will I get the chance to exploit the personality flaws of Tiger Woods in Aberdeen?  Exactly.

The concept of mail has also started to morph into an entirely new creature in our household.  I received a letter the other day asking if I wanted to be on the Aberdeen Citizens Panel, and I THOUGHT ABOUT IT.  I actually, seriously considered it.  They said I could voice my concerns.  I have concerns!!  I also contemplated joining the postcode lottery and almost filled up those plastic bags for donating your old clothes to charity.  This morning I received one of those letters from Cancer Research with a pen enclosed asking me for some money.  Normally I would throw the letter in the bin and think “Boost! Free pen!” but not today.  Today I thought “That reminds me, I must start thinking about donating to some sort of charity”.  I then threw the pen away because when I tried to use it I couldn’t get the image of bald children out of my head.  Get a grip!

It’s not just the receiving of mail that is becoming an issue, I have also started sending more.  In the past three months I have written four complaint letters, one to a magazine, one to iTunes, one to my neighbour and one to my postman asking him to stop being such a cunt and actually put my mail through my letter box as opposed to leaving it outside on the fucking pavement.

Hmm, maybe I do care about things after all.  I take it all back – I think when you reach 30 it’s not that you stop caring, it’s just that you stop caring about yourself.  I would go so far as to say that when it comes to me, this is pretty much it, so as time goes on I worry less about what I say, what I look like or what people might think of me.  Instead it is other people I worry about: my friends and family, Steve Jobs (he has pancreatic cancer and cannot, I repeat, cannot die before my upgrade is due in August.  I don’t like the iphone 4 so he needs to get designing), the postman, the Middle East, my neighbour and the shambles that is today’s society.  I’ve found that it is much easier (and way more fun) to judge other people rather than yourself so, as much as I loved them, you can poke your twenties.  Anyway, I’m only at the very beginning of my thirties so if you squint really hard whilst dangerously drunk you could argue that, on the scale of things, I am still just a baby.

I will leave you now with a few things I have said recently which have placed me firmly in the bony, arthritic grip of old age.

-“You know, I don’t know enough about birds.”
-“I’m not keen on those new-builds.  I’d rather have a house with a bit more character.”
-“Well Billy, I’m gonna need new hiking boots if we are going to start climbing Munros.”
-“Oh, but if we go to Sainsbury’s now it’ll mean that I’ll miss Escape to the Country! It’s my all-time favourite programme you fascist!”
-“Okay then, sign me up for the Baker Hughes 10k run.”
-“Granted those shoes are nice, but would you class them as comfortable? Because I’m not really sure I would.”
-“I really want to see The King’s Speech.”

Sshhh, it’s all gonna be okay……..

At least I can look forward to fisting Billy in our retirement.
Posted in Writing

Scotland – Stop Growing on Me Like a Fungus

Ten years ago, if you had asked me to describe Scotland in three words I probably would have said something along the lines of “worst place ever” or “fucking shit fuck” or, if I was particularly pre-menstrual, “worse than rape”.  This is because for most of my adult life I have not been Scotland’s biggest fan.  I was removed from here at an early age and as a result don’t really have that strong sense of patriotism you get when you have lived in the same country all of your life.  Recently, however, there have been some interesting developments which I suspect could signify a thaw in our frosty relationship.

When I lived overseas, I was the most die-hard Scottish person you could find, probably because I was the only Scottish person you could find.  I’m not going to lie, the release of Braveheart in Malta when I was 15 did nothing to hurt me and I milked that fictional motherfucker for all it was worth.  For weeks I had American kids coming up to me at school saying “Wow, I did not realise you guys went through so much”, to which I replied “Yeah (*sigh*), if I’m honest you know, yes, it has been a long and arduous journey fraught with repression and violence but I like to think we’ve come out of it a better, stronger nation” whilst shakily pointing to a scar on my forehead I got from a rollerblading accident – or as I liked to call it “the English”.

In Tunis, at around the same time, I distinctly remember welling up during a St Andrews day party when a bagpiper came into the room (I was totally shit-wrecked on wine and could hardly see, but let’s just say for the sake of discussion that they were the tears of national pride) proving that I did have it in me back then, Scottish was something I wanted to be.  Little did I realise that this was because I had unwittingly adopted some sort of foreign, romantic image of our country:  “We have hills n’ shit, people carry fish around in baskets, awesome!”, etc.

It was with these fantastical notions that I returned permanently to Scotland at the age of 19.  I was excited about it, I could go into town and buy decent clothes, things would generally work as opposed to be broken, life was going to be good.  I think it took about 3 days before I realised that I had just made the biggest mistake of my life.  I got a job at a local pub and in the space of a couple of days someone had called me a “yankee cunt”, a junkie had stolen my wallet and I had seen my first ever ecstasy pill.  Bearing in mind that at the time I had the street-wisdom of a Fritzl sister, this was a highly confusing environment for me.  Up until that point, I thought heroin was a fictional substance made up by Irvine Welsh to make Trainspotting an interesting read.

Looking back now, I can see that I must have been pretty annoying.  I sounded like a Californian cheerleader (really did not look like one) but was telling people I was born in Torry.  Bar a few of the locals at the pub, people were generally not very convinced by me and I don’t blame them, I was a fucking weirdo.  To make matters worse I was struggling to adjust to a life where suddenly I didn’t have any of my friends around me.  I tried to do things like go to college and speak to people in the bar I worked in but at the end of the day I had nothing in common with anyone, turns out no one is interested in talking about Maltese bus drivers or this one time at the British Club.  I think people may have mistakenly thought I was posh too, which is hilarious/offensive – I would be lying if I said that I haven’t pissed in a bottle at T in the Park and put it inside my jacket as a kind of make-shift heating device.  I don’t think Kate Middleton has ever done that.  Anyway, the fact of the matter was I had to get some friends, and if they all happened to be cats then that was just the way it was going to have to be.

It was right around this time that I met Billy (thank God, I fucking hate cats) and Christ knows what made him able to withstand what must have been the excruciating embarrassment of introducing me to his friends and family (I want to say it was my shimmering personality but I did have sex with him, so it was probably that).  For the first year or so, I don’t think much of his friends were clambering over each other to start a fan club; I didn’t take any drugs, I talked a lot, nothing I said was very useful, I dressed weird, I loved the Eurovision Song Contest, I swore constantly and was generally not very feminine but unfortunately for them I wasn’t going away.  Through perseverance I discovered that people can change their minds if you literally give them no other option and now I look upon a lot of them as my good friends.

Over time, my accent slowly began to return to a semblance of Scottish which made everything a bit easier and after about five years I had the foundations of a social life.  Despite this, I still absolutely hated the place and used to dream about leaving every day.  The weather was terrible, there was nothing to do, there were drugs everywhere, they were expensive, people moaned constantly (a bit like what I’m doing now) and no one really spoke to each other.  All of these things made me want to get the hell out of here and to top it all off, I absolutely hated my job at the time.

When I turned 25 I decided to do something about the situation.  I applied to study Geology at Aberdeen University in the hope of getting a job in the oil industry so I could get the fuck out of this hell-hole and back into the comforting arms of an obscure foreign country.  I got accepted and began what was to be four years of good times.  In our class there were people from all over the UK and abroad, none of whom knew each other so we were all in the same awkward boat.  For the first time since returning to Aberdeen, I was considered a local.  It was a very weird feeling because I still felt like a dirty immigrant but it was a good weird feeling.

During the course of my degree I made quite a few friends and was relieved to discover that I didn’t have to force myself upon them like I did with Billy’s poor friends.  We went on numerous field trips together and these were tremendous.  Not only was the banter so good that it was, at times, physically painful but I was starting to see all the hills and people carrying fish around in baskets that I had imagined all those years ago.  I had been so preoccupied with not killing myself I had forgotten that there were parts of Scotland better than literally anywhere else in the world.  I spent eight weeks on the Isle of Skye for one of my uni projects, for example, and it is now possibly my favourite place in the universe.  If you had told me a decade ago that out of everywhere I had been I would like a cold, remote Scottish island the best, I would have taken an angry shit in your front garden.

I now work offshore and get to spend two weeks of every month at home in Aberdeen with Billy and my dog, an arrangement I am pretty happy with.  Over the past few years I have found myself fantasising about leaving this country less and less and looking forward to the Wizard Festival and my annual trips to Skye more and more.  Billy and I want to buy a house this summer and because we are old, crusty and beginning to smell of death, we have been thinking about getting somewhere in the countryside.  The other day he said to me “The way you’re talking you would think that you were happy to hang around here for the next ten years” and, after swallowing some sick, I told him that I think I am.