Sunday, 12 February 2017

Reasons to Celebrate a Valentine-less Day


You get to the office and there’s not so much as an aphid on your desk, let alone a bunch of roses from a smitten co-worker. By the time you’ve struggled home on the bus, the only intimate encounter you’ve had has been with a violin case, when the kid carrying it grudgingly gets up to offer you their seat as the bags you are carrying under your eyes look so heavy. As you open the front door, the last optimistic brain cell you have winks out of existence as the door slides over the top of the day’s post without getting wedged on the way. Despite the tone of longing in the correspondence, neither the phone bill nor the credit card statement are written in the sort of red ink you had hoped for.

Yep – it’s Valentine’s Day, and the like the majority of single people over the age of 32 your romantic prospects are looking rather poorer than Kim Jong Un’s chances of winning the Liberal Free Thinker of the Year contest.

You could turn around, head down to the pub and let four pints of Wibbly’s Old Peculiar simultaneously lower the romantic bar and your standards or just appreciate that you’re on the pointy end of societal chance.

In 2017, around one third of people in the UK are living on their own. In 2013 this amounted to 7.7 million people and was growing rapidly. This signposts a huge change in our social fabric towards the comfortable fleecy end. What’s more, they aren’t all dating site die-hards with a face only an adventurous plastic surgeon could love or people who are one tin of Whiskas away from being a cat-snack.

The fact is that living on your own – or at least without another grown-up biped – is actually pretty cool.  Here are some reasons why you, as a solo inhabitant of your space should take pity on those romantic fools that embrace the schmaltz of Valentines Day.

Self-indulgence
Living alone gives you complete freedom to be you – free-spirited and self-indulgent.  Your bad habits are not something that you have to try and curb – you can simply get better at them. Take an existential approach. If you give free rein to flatulence in your lounge and no-one is there to experience it, is it really bad? Only if it causes the paint to peel off the walls, in my book.

Housework
This becomes purely optional. Dust bunnies can make surprisingly good pets that thrive on a lack of attention and provide energy-efficient insulation. They make no demands of their owner in terms of exercise and will breed prolifically in the right environment as long as they are not startled by loud noises such as vacuum cleaners.

Food
Eat what you want, when you want. The concept of a balanced diet takes on a whole new meaning when the fridge light reveals a scene from a science fiction movie. An isolated wasteland punctuated by the occasional menacing alien life form blinking in the unaccustomed light. Or your fridge might be so full of superfoods that it has to be restrained from sprinting around your kitchen. The point is, it’s up to you.

Mornings
In the first flush of a new relationship, it may be quite charming to roll over in the morning and see the object of your affections lying there in peaceful slumber. (Unless the relationship is less than 12 hours old, in which case you might be a bit startled and hard-pushed to remember their name.)

But you know that as time goes on, this charming vision will lose its appeal, like a bag of prawns left on a sunny window ledge. The cute snuffling will turn into a snore that can be measured on the Richter Scale. The alluringly ruffled hair will, day by day, start to look more like an over-used toilet brush. And that’s just the girls.

No compromise
A partner can be a hand brake who stops you attempting things that are ambitious, ill-advised or just illegal, for their own selfish reasons. But for the solo traveller through life, the only limitations are self-imposed (if you don’t count imprisonment or possible death) so once you ram raid your way through those, you’re free to find out what you’re really capable of.

This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the upside of being alone. It’s a movement that’s growing in size and we need to give it a voice. Remember, you’re never alone when you’re alone! OK – the slogan may need a little work, but you know what I mean.




Monday, 30 January 2017

The Madness Reaches Australia


An open report to HM Queen Elizabeth on what’s gone down in her farthest flung colonial outpost in the last week.

Dear Ma’am

Australia may be a long way away, but clearly Boris, Nigel and Donald aren’t the only crazy-eyed politicians licking the world’s parliamentary windows.

Australia’s Prime Minister Turnbull and whatshisname, the opposition chap, breathed sighs of relief that their collective doormats never plopped with the sound of an invitation to the inauguration of troll-doll Trump. Somehow though, one got into the hands of this colony’s home-grown barmy political right and was passed around like a ticket to a Justin Bieber concert. They longed to be there to watch the horror unfold, but knew the cool kids in Parliament would beat them up if they did. 

The invitation was initially given to Australia’s own flame-haired harpy of the far right, Pauline Hanson, a woman who has all the charm and appeal of Nigel Farage, but without the eloquence. 

Pauline’s past judgement has been a bit dodgy, at one time leading her to spend some time ‘at your pleasure’ Ma’am, (whilst enjoying very little of her own) in The Big House, until matters got sorted out. But even she deemed this invitation too hot to handle.  It was finally passed on to one of her minions, a man who has made less impact in Australian politics than Peppa Pig. He duly packed his bags for Washington and probably got a whole row of seats to himself on the plane.

Another Australian of note who received an invitation was the Reverend Fred Nile. He’s this country’s version of Mary Whitehouse (Google her or ask Philip) except he’s still alive and ranting. Rev Fred believes homosexuality to be a mental illness, and annually prays for a downpour to douse the gay and lesbian Mardi Gras in Sydney. Nevertheless, every year the event basks in typical Aussie dryness, other than amongst those marchers who are especially excited to be participating. 

Anyway, old Rev Fred had struck up an email friendship with troll-doll Trump over some months.  Rev Fred dispensed his seasoned political advice, born of running the Australian Christian Democratic Party, regardless of the fact that, electorally speaking, if it were a racehorse, his party would long ago have been inside a tube of Uhu. Naturally, he received a golden ticket to Trumpapolooza. Imagine Rev Fred’s surprise then, when US Immigration informed him his visa application had been denied, on the grounds that a spittle-flecked octogenarian Christian minister presented a threat to national security! It can only be that the troll-doll didn’t appreciate the advice quite so much after all; and certainly not from someone whose political party name contains the word ‘democrat.’

Ma’am may already be aware that this week also marked Australia Day, a celebration of Captain Cook’s landing at Botany Bay and claiming this big brown country for your forebears’ empire. It’s a day for wild celebration here, which traditionally starts with marinating your internal organs in beer whilst having a beach breakfast in 95-degree heat, and finishes with fireworks and fisticuffs, a good time having been enjoyed by all in the interim. Increasingly though, there is some discomfort at celebrating the day of national pride on the anniversary of the kick-off of genocide against the people who might have been under the impression that they owned the place, having got here first by some thousands of years. 

Just by way of example, I invite your Majesty to consider how miffed her subjects get when the Germans nab all the sunbeds around the hotel pool in Majorca. Imagine then how cross they’d be if Gunter and Helga took to them with bazookas, and ultimately expected them to join in an annual celebration of the fatherland’s victory at Hotel Sol. 

Luckily, we have Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce here, to bring reason to the debate with a few well-chosen words. You remember Barnaby – he was the one who didn’t realise you can never win a PR battle against two cute puppy dogs, especially when you need the squillions of dollars their owner’s movies bring into the country. Whoops Barnaby!

When talking about protesters who want Australia Day marked on a different day, Barnaby said he was tired of people "weeping" about the issue and suggested they should “crawl under a rock.” If only the Indigenous chappies had been given such sage advice in 1788 they might at least have found a decent hiding place and avoided getting shot.

Your obedient servant,
The Stunned Mullet

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Forget 'fairy tale' - aim to make your wedding imperfect

Why do brides say “I just want everything to be perfect”?  Perfection should be the last thing they want. Possibly apart from a yeast infection on their honeymoon.

To achieve perfection, you would invite no-one to your wedding, because people will stuff up ‘perfect’ every time. This doesn’t apply just to the weird cousin you’ve got to invite who thinks that wearing odd socks makes him look interesting and diverts attention from his poor personal hygiene. Every one of your guests, your bridal party, your family and even your partner are human with a whole range of flaws that are absolutely incompatible with perfect. You’ve got kids coming too? Kids – especially your own - are professional perfection-wreckers. It’s in their kiddie DNA.

Wedding speeches, family politics, bad hats. Need I say more? All utterly imperfect.


Let’s take a reality check. Disney princesses have fairy-tale weddings. You, I suspect are not the product of multi-billion-dollar animation empire, but a real live person who has some good things going for them and a few traits that both your parents are convinced came from the other side of the family. Try this quick quiz:
  •  Do woodland animals flock to hear you sing and lend a helping hoof/paw with the hoovering?
  • Is your father a mythical Greek sea God and your best friend a lobster with a Jamaican accent? Even when you’re sober?
  • Do you have to wear gloves to prevent you from icing everyone you shake hands with?
  • Do either your mother or father appear on the postage stamps where you live?
If you were unable to answer yes to any of the above, then take it from me, you are not a princess of the Disney or any other variety. Tilting at a perfect fairy-tale wedding will therefore lead only to crushing disappointment, and that’s before twenty years of marriage to someone whose ‘handsome prince’ status is already questionable, even with youth on his side. Once the evil elves of middle age have bequeathed him a beer gut and ear hair he’ll be less Hercules and more Shrek anyway.

Neither am I suggesting you have a cheap wedding. If you want all the trimmings and you’ve been careless enough to amass a lot of friends you want to show off to, then buckle up honey, it’s going to cost more money than a fairy-tale dragon can get his scaly little T-Rex arms around. Sure, you can hire a few hay bales and rent a paddock somewhere for a big picnic with home brewed Brussels sprout beer, wear a dress you’ve knitted out of tofu and arrive in a Kombi van that still smells of backpacker farts, but do you really want to be remembered for your hipster wedding?

Embrace imperfection, which will happen anyway, regardless of how much you stress about it, and your day will be so much more memorable and fun. I’m not advocating that it should be encouraged to fall into complete chaos or that anyone gets injured, but make wriggle room for the day to be warm and human. Some of the most fun and memorable weddings I’ve attended have seen the Best Man leap over flowerbeds to retrieve the rings from his bag mid-ceremony, a groom dip his bride for the kiss, trip and both fall into a well-cushioned heap and a toddler flower girl stuff rose petals into the bride’s cleavage. All simply little quirks which made the day enjoyable.

Once your guests see or hear something to make them smile, they’ll relax, talk to one another and stop trying to chew their own legs off to escape another dull and dreary wedding. They may even drink less of the booze you’re paying for too. Or not, but that’s people for you – human and imperfect.