An open letter to my wife

My dearest Vicki,

I have something very important to say to you.

Here are the fixtures for next year’s World Cup. Click the words “World Cup”. It’s a link. You know what a link is don’t you, it’s what you click to look at handbags and bunnies on the internet. The draw isn’t for two weeks but I thought I would let you know in good time. (The draw is where those little numbers and letters are replaced with the teams. It’s a little bit complicated if I’m honest, probably best you don’t worry yourself about that xx).

Now, even though this will be our fourth World Cup together, I thought it best to confirm once again (it would really help if I don’t have to go through this again sweetheart, do try and listen), it is quite crucial that I watch each and EVERY match. This is so I can weigh up which team I do not want England to face in the final. Should the highly unlikely eventuality arise that England do not reach the final, and they are knocked out before that, my interest in the tournament will drop to approximately 34%, and we can return to our normal life of joy and bliss.

Please, do not think this means I expect you to do more around the house during this period, not at all, I wouldn’t dream of being so vile. I simply mean I want you to stay out of my way, or ideally go out and take the children with you. Questions like “Who do you want to win daddy?”, “Can I watch Paw Patrol?” and shouts of “I’VE FINISHED” from the bathroom really would spoil my enjoyment of Senegal v Peru, as I’m sure you understand.

During this time, please be assured that I will still love you, but I do not love you as much as the World Cup while England are still in it. That’s not being mean, it’s all a question of ratios: I only get to see the World Cup every four years. If I watched football every day and only got to see you for a month every four years, I’m sure football would understand if I didn’t watch it and I listened to you, but as it is, I get to see you every, single, day.

Anyway, it’s still seven months away, so plenty of time for you to start planning little trips. You like planning don’t you, what a stroke of luck, go plan dear xxx


The real heroes of Westminster

I’ve seen a lot of reports saying Tobias Elwood was a hero yesterday at the Westminster attacks. He wasn’t though; he just knew first aid. I’m not having a go at him, or anybody, good grief no, his actions were indeed commendable, but he’s far from a hero.

I work in construction, and have been a first aider for around 15 years. I’ve used it once, luckily, and not at work, but in a park where a lady at the side of me had a seizure and landed face first on a step in front of us. I looked after her until the paramedics came. I often think about that lady and wonder if she was okay. Her family thanked me and that was that. I was proud of myself if I’m honest. I’d helped someone and their family in a time of need.

I wasn’t a hero though, I too, just knew first aid. What that day did make me think about was how it must feel to do that every day, several times a day, going to look after people in their times of need, with bleeding faces, broken bones, serious injury, heart attacks, severe illness, missing limbs, chemical exposure, you name it, people literally seconds from death. The paramedics turned up and took over, no fuss, no hesitation. It made me glad I don’t do it every day. I don’t know how they can. The things they must see. To choose a career where every single day they see the most horrendous sights you can imagine, things you watch from behind a cushion or through your fingers in horror movies for a thrill. They must be fools, but fools that have immeasurably more compassion than I.

They were almost anonymous yesterday on the news, they almost always are. Yes, the emergency services got a mention from MPs ticking their sound bite box, but they’re almost always anonymous. Tobias got the plaudits. Granted, a doff of the cap to him, but paramedics, nurses, doctors, and probably hundreds of people whose job titles I don’t even know, just got on with their jobs and helped people having possibly the worst day of their life. Then they all went home, and went to bed, only to do it all again today.

I don’t have any immediate friends or family that work in the profession; I know a nurse, I went to school with two people who are now paramedics, but I’m not thinking of anyone in particular that I want to praise or defend here. I’m not wanting thanks for helping that woman, I’m not after likes, I’m not making a political statement about the NHS or having a pop at MPs, and lord knows I love doing that, and I’m not having a go at anyone or talking about what actually happened, I just thought a little perspective was required. The people who are first on the scene of disaster, the people that arrive in an ambulance, who have to make instant decisions on the best way to potentially save a life, and take you to hospital then give you to someone else to look after you, who themselves years earlier, made a decision that they wanted to help others every single day, they genuinely amaze me. They are the heroes in my mind.

And for the love of god, start teaching first aid in schools. There is no excuse not to. It doesn’t cost much, it saves lives, and it makes you want to help people as opposed to getting your phone out and filming. Love to all.

I, Daniel Blake #wearealldanielblake

Last night, I had the very real privilege of seeing a screening of I, Daniel Blake, with a Q&A with Ken Loach and Dave Johns.

I sat and watched the story with great apprehension, and as it progressed, I didn’t want to see what was coming next. This isn’t your average film, it won the Palm D’Or at Cannes, and is being tipped for success at the Academy Awards; it is far from an average film, but it is a story about average life. It is a story about the dehumanisation of people, and the depths that people can sink to, and it is a story that happened to me.

When I left school, I had an armful of qualifications. I carried on studying and got an ONC in Building Construction and a post graduate diploma in acoustics. I gained experience in construction design, estimating, health and safety, and project management, and worked in construction until I lost my job in 2008. Recession always hits construction first, and leaves it last. I lost three jobs in 2008, the last just before Christmas.

I was out of work for 9 months. For the first time I claimed Job Seekers Allowance, £62 a week if I recall, which I could do for 13 weeks. £806. Then it stopped. I applied for any job in construction at first, but there was nothing, so I broadened my search, only to be told I was either not suitably qualified, or was over qualified and “will only leave when the economy picks up”. They were probably right. Luckily, the bank gave us a 6 month mortgage holiday and with my wife working we managed.

With no job, I went self employed, and managed to find some consultancy work, which quickly grew into a good steady income. Unfortunately, the company that provided most of that also folded, and I was left again looking for work, no-one needed the skills I had, no-one was building anything. So in late 2010, having just had a baby, and my wife being on maternity pay, we had £500 per month coming in. I had an office, with bills, and technically went to work, but with nothing to do apart from try get work and finish off the work I’d been paid for. Debt mounted rapidly. Once again, reluctantly, I applied for help from social services. We couldn’t claim anything. We were both technically working. I was working, I was self employed, but not earning.

We sold things. We borrowed from family, but without ever really divulging how dire our situation was. Would you?

By the middle of 2011 the bank had begun to put pressure on us to start clearing the debt for the mounting mortgage arrears, but we couldn’t, and they suggested we sell to keep the equity, and buy somewhere else. However, it had been 2 years since David Cameron had said “we’re all in this together” and austerity was in full swing. No-one wanted to buy our house, apart from one man who offered two thirds of the asking price, which we declined. Its’ value continued to fall, and the debts continued to rise. I went to Citizen’s Advice to see if there was anything they could advise. They offered us a meeting with a council association called CHAS who provided housing aid. We attended a meeting, and they said they would consider us for an emergency loan to cover our mortgage and council tax payments. They went through all our income and expenditure, and our debts. We had been in contact with our debtors already, to explain, but we had to do it again, to meet CHAS’ criteria, but we told they could help, that people like us were who they were there for. It was the most demoralising experience of my life, but we had no choice. As we left, I knew this was our last hope, but they said they could help.

They refused the application.

In October 2011, driving through town, a young lad drove into my car, in front of two police officers. The police officers waved him into an adjacent car park, where he promptly pulled up in the middle of the cark park where you drive between the cars, and he promptly opened his door onto a passing Audi. Poor kid. He’d only just passed his test. Audi lady was raging, but they normally are. My car was written off, and his insurance paid out instantly, two coppers had seen him do it. That paid for Christmas, but it was too late for the house. The bank had given us a month to leave. I had no plan. No way out, I didn’t know what to do. I’d spent the last three years constantly fighting to get out of debt, at times seeing the that “end of tunnel” light. I’d borrowed off family, but I wasn’t asking again, it wasn’t me, and it wasn’t fair. Some of them made us big pots of food to freeze so we didn’t have to buy anything. We had a tiny baby who I couldn’t provide a home for, and I had a teenage daughter who came at weekends and sat as we had no money to go out, and watched me slide into a level of depression I really don’t want to think about again. I’d never suffered from depression before, but I felt like I had nothing more to offer. I couldn’t believe how I had come to be in this position. I couldn’t get my head around the fact that I left school full of hopes and dreams, and I was on the verge of losing absolutely everything, and why I wasn’t being helped by the system I had paid into for 20 years.

*Cue music changing to major chords*

Luckily I had an amazing wife, a fine family, and some good friends. I’ve forgotten a lot of what my wife did for me, what she said during all that time, and while this may seem irresponsible, with just three days until eviction day, she gave me £20 from the family allowance and told me to go to the pub. It was pool night. I love playing pool, and I hadn’t been for ages. By incredible coincidence, I bumped into an old colleague, Jayne, a lovely girl I hadn’t seen in several years. She lived in Huddersfield last time I knew, so asked what she was doing in my local. She had just been to see her sister who had just moved in up the road, and was with her boyfriend, who wanted to watch the football; his team Everton were playing, and this was the nearest pub that had the football on. Her boyfriend had a company that needed an estimator. It gave me chance to contact the bank, and plead for another fortnight. They agreed. Jayne’s boyfriend gave me a job. I don’t know why the angels shone on me that day by making them to go my local, but shine on me they did. That said, the angels had shat on me for three years, so they can fuck off, and I’ll thank Everton and Jayne and her boyfriend instead. I don’t think they know just how much they helped me.

I forget how long it took to clear all our debts, but we did. It aged me, it was hard, and it made me value what is important, and what is dear.

And it changed me. It made me begin to question what the hell are these people in charge of our country doing? If we, at our most desperate, could be kicked out of our home, with absolutely no help whatsoever, other than that £800, who ARE they helping?

They are helping themselves.

I’d always had an interest in politics, but it was an ignorant interest of just how much it can affect people, until it happened to me, and for that, I feel truly ashamed and guilty.

It wasn’t until I was at my most destitute, that I began to listen to what the government was saying, and this government, are bastards. Being a Tory party member isn’t a job, they don’t do anything. Show me a tory that can fix a car, fit a kitchen, build a bookcase, estimate a house, write software, have three jobs to make ends meet, and I’ll show you a hundred that were born into money and who are going to fuck about with the system to make us all jump, to make themselves look busy so they have a reason to be, a reason to do fuck all and get paid for it, all the time claiming they are doing it for you.

I don’t know what they do. Do you?

They’ve sold everything. Where has that money gone? Have you got it? I fucking haven’t. They sold all the utilities companies in the 80s saying we’d all benefit from more competition between suppliers. How’s that worked out? I bet Stephen Hawking has been with the same gas supplier for 10 years because it’s nigh on impossible to work out which energy supplier is shafting us the least. I bet those shareholders don’t have to worry about putting the heating on this winter. I wonder who they’ll vote for. We’re getting a new power plant, owned by the French and Chinese. Why? Can’t a British company build it? No? Why? WHY?

Why did they sell off the Post Office for far less than it was worth? That share price shot up on the first day didn’t it. Why did they do that? Sorry, you’ll have to speak up, KERCHING, I can’t here you over the sound of KERCHING all those rich people selling their shares making 50% profit in a day for doing fuck all KERCHING KERCHING KERCHING. I wonder who they vote for.

This isn’t about me having a go at people being successful, good for them, honest, but it’s about how this government is playing us all off. They don’t care about us, they care about making sure they can make a handsome living for doing absolutely nothing.

They’ve turned us on each other. This was a key point in the Q&A last night. The fucking teachers are on strike, the fucking doctors. It doesn’t matter they work 65 hours a week, we pay their wages. The nerve of them. The people that save our lives and look after our kids with more patience than many of us do, are the enemy. What’s that? A multinational company doesn’t pay any tax? I don’t care, THE FUCKING TEACHERS ARE ON STRIKE.

I’m no “lefty loony” as they are affectionately known. I voted for Charles Kennedy. He spoke sense. I voted for Nick Clegg, he did too. It wasn’t him that put tuition fees up, it was the Tories. He couldn’t have stopped it, he’d have been outvoted. That debt students are accruing? Never get paid, just a way to keep us all owing.

I just believe in humility. I don’t like politics, to be honest, most of them get right on my tits, but we need to wake up, like I did, when it happened to me. Not everyone has someone, I was lucky, some people are facing hardship alone, suffering at the hands of these self serving parasites.

I urge you to watch I, Daniel Blake, not only because it is quite superb, but it will make you think, and because it can happen to any of us. It happened to me.



I haven’t said anything really about what happened to Jo Cox, but it’s prayed on my mind a lot.

I went to school with her, and I work in Birstall.

Just half an hour before she was attacked, I had driven up that very street three times looking for a parking space. It crossed my mind many times that I should pop in, see if she remembers me, and tell how impressive it was to see all she had achieved. I hadn’t seen her since school, until recently when she had become an MP. I berated myself a little thinking what I could have possibly achieved with a bit more effort, okay, a lot more effort having been at school together.

We used to chat sometimes at lunchtime. A beautiful young girl she was, always wore long flowing skirts as I recall. I can’t remember what we ever chatted about, it was a long time ago, but I just wish I’d taken that chance to pop into her office and say “Hi”. I wish I’d done it that day, and I wish I’d been able to do something about what happened. I imagine a lot of people do.

As today is her funeral, it’s tragic to think what happened. It appears she had so much compassion, she was always posting photos on Twitter of where she had been locally. She went to my daughter’s school one day, and she came home so excited, saying how nice she was, how she told her she went to a school nearby. I understand she did school visits often. That is really quite lovely.

I wish I had something profound to say, there seems to be sadness in every other thing we see or read about these days, but the one thing that has struck me, is just how far reaching her life was. There were messages of sympathy from around the world, from royalty, presidents and prime ministers; it’s not often you see such an outpouring of emotion for anyone, let alone for a politician, certainly not something I’ve witnessed before. I’d like to think it was because she was so very different to many politicians we see these days. She came from a small town, a normal school, and did so much more before she took up a life in politics. That young girl I remember truly soared, and done more than I imagine she ever thought possible.

I’m just desperately sorry that this happened, and filled with sorrow that her children will grow up without their mother. I hope that she is at peace, and that her legacy stays fresh in the memory for many years to come. I’m sure it will. I sincerely hope it doesn’t sound in any way pretentious or condescending, but I’m proud of you. Take care lass.

Oil companies: Arse oils.

Last week, the Guardian ran an article stating that the petrochemical industry knew of the potential of oil to affect climate change.

It didn’t take the piss out of anyone. It didn’t target a Prime Minister with a mouth full of half truths and an arse crack full of sweat.

It didn’t give anything a face. It didn’t give us a face to deride.

BUT this is far bigger than any of this Panama Papers bollocks. Far bigger. Why? Because rich people telling lies to avoid tax and make money makes them selfish, greedy bastards. Rich people telling lies while knowingly ruining the environment that over 7 billion of us share makes them filth.
The thing is, most people won’t read this. The media struggles to hold your attention these days, we want news fast, we want laughs, we want fun, we want “Proper Tasty” bullshit meals with bacon and cheese, we want pathetic “how many squares, only a genius can solve it”, we want 60 second news updates that tell us which celebrity has worn a dress that makes their arse look fat.

We’ve been conditioned into thinking that anyone mentions the environment is a drugged up tree shagger, that the climate has always had rises and falls in temperature and it’s perfectly natural, that climate change is a myth to make money off green taxes, that climate change is scaremongering so some nasty man can put up a wind turbine that ruins my view and ruins my life. But the main reason no one dares contemplate just how bad things have got, is that we’re just too ignorant, and far too lazy.
I’ll give anyone a pound who can write me down the balanced chemical equation for converting sugar and oxygen into carbon dioxide and water without looking it up, it’s something your body is doing right now, and is a remarkably simple equation. Go on, try it, but it’s incredible how many people are experts on the billions of equations that it takes to estimate the effect of spunking millions of tonnes of carbon bi-products into the air and water. Can you really work that out and tell me you know everything will be fine? No, you fucking can’t, so don’t sit there and tell me climate change is bollocks, because you don’t fucking know. You’re not a scientist are you, you work in an office, or a shop, or a factory, and you haven’t studied science for twenty fucking years, so how, tell me HOW can you dismiss climate change like you do?

The petrochemical industry is huge, and all it cares about is making money, I suppose we all do to an extent, but at what cost? In the seven years I spent studying the environment, one story stayed with me more that most, and it’s the story of Ken Saro Wiwa. He was a farmer in Nigeria, and near to his farmland, oil was discovered. A large company, one we have all heard of, started drilling, after paying lots of money to some people, and oil poured out all over Ken’s land. He wasn’t happy, would you be? So Ken, and some other farmers who had nice puddles of oil on their crops, complained. So the people who had been paid the money tried them for treason and hung them.

“Did I read that right?” you might think. Yes, they hung them, no more complaining, plenty of oil; lovely. Lovely, lovely, lovely. This was 1995, not that long ago is it? The large company settled out of court not that long ago, still saying they did nothing wrong, but you make up your own mind. Go have a read.

We have been conditioned into thinking our way of life is normal, and it is, but at what cost. Ken Saro Wiwa paid the ultimate cost, and in time, we all will, we all die, but (and here comes the tree shagger bit), what about your kids, and your grand kids?

The thing is, the youngsters today are far more clued up, I’ve read about it, and a lot of them think “us lot” in our 40s and older, are a set of twats. I’m telling you, if you’re lucky to make it to your dotage, and your great grand-daughter sits on your knee in your 100th year, don’t be surprised if they say “Did you really drive around in cars that did 10 miles per gallon and not give a fuck?”. And you’ll say “We didn’t know any different. They said it was safe, like cigarettes”. And they’ll say “But you could have stopped using oil for domestic power, you could have used tidal energy, solar energy, you could have put up more wind turbines”, “Oooo not turbines love, ugly aren’t they”, and they’ll say, “But the Arctic has thawed and Holland is under water”, and you’ll sit and nod, because you didn’t read up on how much carbon is now in the atmosphere, and how it leads to methane deposits being exposed in the polar regions, and how even slight increases in global temperature lead to more water vapour in the atmosphere, which carries far more heat energy than carbon dioxide….

Just have a think eh? Read this, and have a think.

A poem

I recently had to write a poem for a course I was on. I’m no poet, but one should always try one’s hardest, shouldn’t one?

Apologies in advance.

I’ve a lump in my throat, as I sit here and write

Sharing these memories, well it seems so contrite

But share them I must, and you must understand

If this hurts you at all, my dear it’s not planned

I’ve relied on your strength, since I was only a child

You’ve always been there for me, your touch soft and mild

You’re there when I’m crying, at my lowest ebb

You’re the one I first reach for, with a nose full of greb

My heart gently breaking, my eyes full of tears

You’re the first there to wipe them, to tend to my fears

You’ve caught more than tears of that I am certain

You’ve spared hundreds of socks, and many a curtain

Do you remember the time, in my memory it lingers

I was juggling with scissors and cut one of my fingers

You were first there as always, to tend to my wound

“It’s nothing” you said “you’ve not been harpooned”

“Here let me see, I’ll make it all better”

As you helped me to dab all the blood from my sweater

But it’s not just the sad times, you’re there every day

You’re always on hand for me on my right, come what may

I love you my darling, you’ve helped me so much

You’ve cleaned so much mess I’d rather not touch

Do I take you for granted? I admit there’s a chance

And I know when you’re missing ‘cos there’s shit in my pants

If I turn to the right, and I see you’re not there

And there’s no one to shout to, no one to care

I’m home all alone, and I’ve run out of arse wipe

I’m gonna end up with a chocolaty pinstripe

Right up the middle of my boxers from Tesco

As I waddle to the kitchen, it’s almost al fresco

I hope that you’re waiting there under the sink

All packed in polythene in a light dusky pink

Or perhaps you’ll be yellow, with scent aloe vera

Good god how much further I wish you were nearer

Look behind the stuff to rid plugholes of gunge

If all else fails here’s a washing up sponge

Look behind the bleach and the bottle of Domestos

And what the hell’s this? A misplaced Fray Bentos?

But now’s not the time to ponder badly packed shopping

Back to the task there’s a bottom needs mopping

I lean in still further to the back of the cupboard

OH THANK GOD I FOUND YOU I emotionally blubbered

Make haste back to bathroom, we waddle with meaning

Trousers back down and commence with the cleaning

You said you had reasons, when you let me down

Said you wished you had stopped my finger being brown

Was I in pain? I’d rather not linger

The only thing that hurt was the depth of my finger

But I forgive you my dear, for your moments of weakness

We all suffer at times from a lack of completeness

Our partnership’s true we need no explanations 

Perhaps my fat finger was on your perforations

It’s best we put behind us this minor mishap and

Despite 7 washes my finger still smells of crap

All the bad times my love are long since forgotten

I promise I’ll always use you on my bottom

For without you I’d probably be using a stick

And clumsily spread some poo on my dick

So our relationship love will blossom like a tree

I’ll use you forever, ’til someone does it for me

Toilet paper holder


Dear Members of Parliament

Dear Members of Parliament,

A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog, urging your leaders, to ask you, our politicians to stop the bleating and braying at each other in the houses of parliament. I recall my grandad when I was young saying “listen to the bloody idiots” when they played excerpts of the day’s proceedings on the radio, and I’ve never understood why you do it. It is childish, disrespectful, unnecessary, ridiculous, shameful, and is nothing short of a national embarrassment. I wrote the blog because the discussion at the time was regarding the result on whether we should go to war in Syria. Going to war is not a decision to be taken lightly, I’m sure you will agree, however, this did not stop an all out free for all “who can act like the biggest idiot competition” taking place that day. It was a disgrace, and I was ashamed that you people “represented” the country I call my own.

I’ve done all I can to avoid coming into contact with seeing or hearing activities in the Houses of Parliament since that day, and it has served me well. However, as you are possibly aware, there is a referendum coming up, one that requires equal, if not more important discussion, where we decide as a nation whether to stay in a political and financial union with the rest of the European Union. I have therefore felt compelled to listen in to what you, our duly elected MPs have to say on the matter.

I’m frankly, if I may be so bold, appalled.

I would like you to consider that at present, Earth is the only planet we know for a fact is inhabited by any living species. I would like you to consider that it is an unbelievable miracle of chance that we are living on this planet right now, as it hurtles through space at incredible speed. I would like you to consider that you, the 650 people in that building, represent over 50 million others, and that you, and the words you say in the coming weeks, will influence and impact on the thoughts of most of the adults and many of the children in that 50 million, on a decision we will make, and how it shall affect the lives of the 450 million other people in the EU. I want you to consider that on this tiny rock in the middle of the massive Milky Way, over 7 billion people live, and that we are about to decide on whether our 50 million walk away from an association of countries borne out of wanting to help each other, trade with each other, and protect each other.

And when you do consider this, when you walk into the Houses of Parliament to talk to each other, perhaps disagree with each other, and to try decide what is best for people on this tiny island on this tiny, tiny planet, I want you to do one, tiny thing; SHUT THE FUCK UP AND LISTEN.

I don’t care who’s wearing what. I don’t care whose mother thinks what. I don’t care if you hate each other. I don’t care if you shag each other. I don’t care if you have two houses, and I don’t care you just got a receipt for that coffee you’re drinking. I want facts, I want quiet, I want discussion, and I want to know that you think enough of the 500 million people that are going to be affected by the words that come out of your fucking mouth.

Take pride in what you are, and what is expected of you, and if you are not up to it, please leave.

This shit is important, I beg you, DO NOT fuck it up.