Friday, 13 December 2013

Coming Clean

What's important to know is, as a man who emerged on the other side of a 3 year stint in some of Swansea's finest flats and student accommodation, where 'what's mine is mine and what's yours is mine, but you have to wash it up because it's yours', it's safe to say that I'm not the most possessive of people. I don't mind if you have a cup of my delicious Chamomile and Honey (what?) tea in my favourite Cath Kidston (seriously, what's wrong with it?) mug, just as long as you say your pleases, your thank yous, and hold doors open for women. 

But what is even more (okay, neither really is "important", but for the purpose of this blog, it is) important to know is that not everybody is as open minded and liberal with their germs as I. Some people, as bizarre as it sounds, don't actually want the germs of another on their possession. In fact, some people actively go out of their way to decontaminate themselves from the slightest hint of a molecule of bacteria being shared from somebody else who, in their mind, is undeniably carrying a super-strain of AIDS crossed with diphtheria. 

Gentle, most forgiving and patient men such as I understand this, and do not wish to impose our reckless lifestyles on those who have to have a shower when a speck of dust lands on their scarf. All I ask in return is that these, shall we say, inhibited fellows do not impose their, shall we say, inhibited lifestyles on us. 

It's a dreary Tuesday and I have somehow, but deservedly, been branded as a tea-making skiver in my department, and am verbally frog-marched to the kitchen to do my 'fair' share of catering, which, given my experience in one of Britain's most questionably ethical hotels, should be a doddle. 

Unfortunately, because it was such a doddle, I end up losing focus and am left speaking to somebody I don't know, who's looking for a teaspoon. No problem, I say, and simply lift one out of the draw. 

"I'm afraid I can't use that one. You see, I can only use one teaspoon. It's my teaspoon, which I use only on when I make a tea for myself. I don't even use it on other people's teas"

I refrain from congratulating this stranger on being such a fucking biological martyr, leave him to uncover the whereabouts of the sacred teaspoon. 

"Aha!" he exclaims pulling a totally non-descript teaspoon out of the annoying bit in the dishwasher where convention has dictated is the ONLY place to put cutlery. "Got it!" he says to anyone listening (I think he meant me?), and continues to wash it (bearing in mind where he just got it from) in the sink. 

"Well done" I mumble, handing him a tea towel, so he can give his precious spoon the love it so clearly has desired in the dishwasher. 

I am given a look which, without context, might have been the look of a man who had just been offered to eat the toenails of Katie Hopkins. 

"You use the tea towels here?"

"Yes" I reply, bemused. "Why wouldn't I?"

He advances towards me, "Tea towels, my friend [we're not friends], are nothing but vehicles for germs to spread around the office. I don't know anybody in here that does use them."

I was starting to get a bit annoyed. If he is right, and nobody uses them, firstly; why is it slightly damp? and secondly; surely there are no germs on it, because nobody has touched it? I, surely, am the first person today to have touched the towel? Do I have germs? I bloody hope so. 

This charlatan, clearly thinking he hasn't imparted enough wisdom for one day, continues. 

"I recently have just come back to work after being ill for the third time this year, which is a bit unusual for me, so I'm pretty keen to be a bit on the safe side to begin with."

To put that into perspective, I have been ill once since December 2012, and that was in December 2012. You could almost say (and I'm touching every piece of wood in sight as I say this) that I have not been ill once in 2013. I've had a runny nose this year, but the winter was pretty cold. But I have not been so incapacitated that I have been unable to carry out my mundane tasks of life. Unfortunately, like most men, because of my five-star immune system (probably built up from, if you believe this stranger, years of licking toilet seats and burying my face in the ground so I can ingest a juicy worm), it means that when we men do get ill, we are so stricken with agony that many people think that we are overreacting to our 'man-flu'. How dare they. If only they knew of the dangers we had encountered over a 12-18 month period. 

One of the most popular ways in the office of postponing certain death, at least until after half past five, is by using a personal mug which nobody else touches, which fascinates me completely, mostly because I was unaware of a 'personal mug' section until about three months into the job, which explains all the dirty looks I've been receiving from the gentleman whose mug I favoured. 

Blissfully ignorant to the perils I was putting my lips against on a daily basis, I have continued to use the helpfully titled "public" mugs, until this morning when my boss, ever the gentleman, offered to make me a drink, and I, ever the ungrateful bellend, said yes instantly. 

Back he comes, ever the gentleman (I value my job), and I was shocked at his chosen receptacle. 

Somebody's mug. 

But it wasn't just somebody's mug, it was somebody who sat close to me's mug! I could be exposed as a innocently guilty thief if this got out! What do I do? I can't just take the coffee straight back after my boss, ever the gentleman (it's not arse-kissing if he doesn't read these, and I don't think he does), has kindly made it for me. That would be employment-suicide! I need to distract him, and get the mug back to safety before the owner arrives at work. 

It's easier done than said. By boss, ever the hard-working gentleman, is whisked into a meeting to discuss matters of the utmost importance, I assume, and I triumphantly stride into the kitchen. How simple was that! Everybody is none-the-wiser for my boss's blunder and my heroism to save the situation. 

But that could be down to people probably not really focusing on the mug...

"Morning James, back for a second coffee already?"
"Ah, you know me (names changed to protect the identity of those affected) Mildred! Can't get enough of the stuff "
"Haha, yeah- nice white socks! Is one of your trouser legs deliberately tucked into it to show it off?"

Mildred laughs so hard she nearly goes into cardiac arrest. 

We really do live in a dangerous world. 

Thursday, 14 November 2013



Why did I sign up to this bloody race in the first place? Why had I not been bothered to train properly? Why is it raining so hard outside?!

The omens from the off were not good (they never are when you're a devout pessimist such as I). The Friday night before the race was spent quivering beside a pool table with a couple of other runners who, for some heathen reason, were despicably optimistic about the whole affair, and then sat on the sofa with some paté on toast (which according to a gym-going friend of mine, has the same nutritional value lard-flavoured Ben & Jerry's) and the concluding missions of Grand Theft Auto 5. The sense of achievement I gained from finishing the game was quickly diminished by the realisation that I was very much on my own, in my freezing cold house, and nothing could save me from my fate tomorrow. Nothing

Later, I lie in bed, holding Boris tightly. It's probably worth pointing out that Boris is a Moomin-branded hot water bottle, named after the Mayor of London who bought it for the missus when she was working at City Hall. It's impossible to sleep... What if I take ages to finish tomorrow? What if I round the final corner, only to see a load of roadies taking down the stage and the arch over the finish line? What if there is no finish line? What if they already took that bit away, and there's nowhere for me to stop, and I'm forever lost in a legless limbo? Or worse, what if everybody is there to watch me stumble to the line in last place and a decorated, and devastated, war hero hands me a wooden spoon with just the C-word etched into the handle, to forever remind me of my failure? 

Eventually, after multiple reassurances from Boris that he would protect me from long-distance running monsters, I drifted to sleep, and in no time at all, my alarm went off again. Shit, that was fast. 

Once again, I polished off a delicious and nutritious meal (2 mountains of Nutella on barely-visible toast), got dressed (which I believe is quite conventional for leaving the house), and set off. 

Lydiard Park had been transformed from a quaint landscape of tranquility to a gauntlet of mud and military officials. Gone were the sights of balmy afternoon picnics and children running amok with a football. In its place, a dreary, grey sky shedding very little light on a quagmire marked out loosely to resemble a running track. In my eyes, the desolate view before me was more of a tribute to the First World War than any poem or painting could manage, made all the more fitting by the 'volunteers' who had signed up to run in these conditions. Up on the stage, the Military Wives Choir were in full voice, and a gentleman from the Navy (whose name and rank eluded me, I was too focused on planning my desertion to be interested) took everyone through a muddy, slippery warm up. Well, I say everyone, I spent most of the warm up chuckling at a woman standing a few feet away from me who was smoking like there was no tomorrow; as if the fire in her cigarette was the last hope of warmth she had before her tar-filled body eventually succumbed to the weather. 

Shattered from the warm up, I slip over to the start line. Just before we started, there was a moments silence to remember why we were running, and who we were running for. I could see men murmuring their best wishes to their fallen friends, and women hushing their children excited to start. People more religious than me put their hands together, others shaking legs and arms as they tried to keep warm. 

The race begins.

A thousand or so people lurch forward and, on the soggy field, begin their Run2Remember. Instantly, two of my colleagues shoot ahead of me. Supporting friends and families are cheering their heroes on, but it's just moving mouths to me, as I slot my earplugs in and listen to some loud, harassingly upbeat music. Nobody should be this upbeat in the rain on a cold Saturday in November. Nobody

Eventually, I begin to start passing people. This feels quite good. I had forgotten what it feels like to actually be better at people than. At school, our rugby team were horrendously below par- every season was a losing one, particularly on a personal level. Due to my going straight from the same junior to senior school, I had racked up around 125 games in a wide, adolescence-dependent positions, and scored just three tries. Three. There were props in the school who had scored more in just one season, and I had three in my entire career, the first of which came when I was 17. Each game began with bright, controlled-aggressive optimism, and finished with humiliating impotency. Before you start saying "Yes, but there are other sports boys play at school!", you are correct, but nobody cares. Rugby is where credibility is won and lost. If I had just tried to be a little bit better at rugby, maybe I wouldn't have had to put peroxide blonde highlights in my hair when I was 15...

Anyway, the run. How to convey how it felt accurately to you... Well, look down at the floor, put one of your feet in front of the other, and keep doing that. Now, look up and see who's in front of you. Can you pass them? Nope. Stay where you are. Now look behind you. Can you see your colleagues? Nope, because they're all in front of you. Better turn back around before you bump into someone. Keep looking at your feet. Don't look up, that will only break your morale as you see how far you have to go, and how many people are in front of you. And repeat step 1.

Keep doing that for 56 minutes and 50 seconds...



I don't believe you. 

Eventually, after a lot of panting and sweating, it was over. I crossed the line about as gloriously as a fish which has been taken out of the sea and dropped onto the boat deck. Flopping about, soaking, and wishing he was somewhere else completely. It wasn't exactly like Mo Farah finishing in London 2012. In fact, it seemed to go eerily quiet when I crossed the line, as if people made a distinct effort to not applaud me. All I could hear was my own sweat sloshing in my ear and gasps for a suspiciously little amount of air, like I had just ran underwater for an hour.

But I didn't care. It was over. 

The victor of our inter-office battle was standing at the finishing line, chatting to a few other race-goers.

"Wow, well done! How do you feel?!"
Whatever I said to him wasn't constructive or very family friendly. But can be summed up in one word beginning with the letter F. 
"How fast did you go?"
56;50 seems so cumbersome to say when air is a luxury you cannot afford.
"Oh, about 56 minutes"

He barely looked like he had broken a sweat. The bastard.

I was just glad I had finished, and now, I had one thing on my mind. 


I had had enough of my alcoholic abstention. It had been far too long without the sweet elixir of hops. I immediately went over to a good friend of mine's (Ieuan....Ieuan...No, with an I... Ieuan. I-E-U-A-N, Ieuan!) house, in need of some adulation for my efforts, and a pint bought by somebody else. Except, like the men we both are, adulation is pretty hard to come by. 

"So, how did it go?" he asked, amidst the background of pool balls clattering and England's attempt at playing some 'rugby'.
"Yeah, went alright"
"How fast did you go?"
56 minutes seems such a long-winded phrase when you're thinking in pub-speak.
"Oh, about 55 minutes" 
"How far did you run again?" I never said he was a supportive friend.
"How long's that?"
"About 6 miles"
"So, it's like a quarter of a marathon?"
"What?! That's nothing!"
"I guess! But I did it in about 54 minutes, so it wasn't so bad."
"No, I guess not. You did quite well. How much did you raise?"
"That's not so bad for a quarter marathon."

What had started as an inescapable, but still incredible journey by saying 'yes' to everyone had finished with my achievements being belittled by my best friend over a game of pool, completely neglecting the fact that I was beating him at it.

We're soon joined by a good mutual friend a few moments later after I seal a historic win, who buys his own drink (he doesn't do rounds with me since I ordered a glass of water when it was my turn, and made him get me a Guinness on his), and steps up to the pool table to play against me.

Our conversation meandered into the usual topics that three young men who haven't seen each other for a while talk about. We chat mindlessly about women, University and rugby as we play, then he thunders the black into the corner pocket after a four-pot streak, pauses, looks up and says, "By the way, how did that really fucking tiny run you were supposed to be doing go?"

I just shrugged and offered to get another round in. 

They don't know, man. They weren't there. 

Tuesday, 22 October 2013


The cool, calm autumnal tranquility of the Cotswolds is one which is shattered around 12 o'clock that afternoon. 

There's a crash against the front door of a small cottage. A rasping at the window and a grasping at the handle. Someone is desperate to get into the house. Fighting the weight pushing down on his chest, and the sensation that his legs are walking through treacle, a poorly dressed, socially awkward man fumbles his key into the door, and bursts in, gasping for what little air he could drag into his lungs, and collapses on the sofa. His eyes losing focus, and ears struggling to cope with the pounding in his head and his and heart, the man drags himself across the floor, props himself up against a nearby table, and hoists himself up to eye-level with the fridge. Scanning the contents, he spots a chilled beer, and all is well again. Slung over the sofa, the man swigs away and lists off into a Sky Sports-induced slumber.

It is safe to say that the training for the run isn't exactly a shot-for-shot remake of Rocky IV. Each burger purchased is justified with the phrase "But I'm going to do some exercise tonight, so it's okay", and each session of exercise is concluded with "Brilliant! Now I can have a burger and a pint!".

No, if I'm going to succeed in finishing this 11k run for the Royal British Legion, I'm going to have to use my cunning and wit over brawn and stamina. Mind games is what I need. Pure and simple 'Positive Mental Attitude', as my brother (who studied the great art of rugby at Hartpury, no less) would re-iterate if he were here motivating me. 

Though a noticeable problem is, I don't have anyone to motivate me. Hardly anybody seems to believe I can complete the course, and the minute percentage that do believe it'll be in such a slow time, the organisers will call off the search for me, pack up the event and start looking forward to next year.

In desperate need of a gee-up, I seek out our competitive friend, who, it transpires, is a bit of a half-marathon aficionado, and still believes that this whole event is some sort of race, despite my pleading with her that it is not a duel, it is simply a charitable event. 

"You'll be fine- what sort of times are you doing?"
"Yeah, like obviously the distance isn't the issue [excuse me?!], what sort of time do you think you'll do it in?"
"Oh, erm... (desperately trying to work out what a respectable time might look like), I was thinking of aiming for about an hour?"
"Hmm... Yeah a couple of the girls last year managed it in 55 minutes, but I'm sure an hour's a good target for you."

Deciding to ignore her Alex Ferguson-esque toying with my morale, I decide to take a work social as an opportunity to canvass a slightly more objective opinion of my chances. 

Them: "It's not so bad once you get into a rhythm, I was fine up until about 10k then it really started to burn."
"You'll be fine, but I don't think you'll beat our competitive colleague."
"No, he's right, she's really good, I wouldn't aim to beat her"
"No, just run at your own pace, I'm sure you'll do fine"
"Mind you, how far have you run already?"
Me: "I haven't"
Them: "Oh! Oh, okay, you may struggle"
"Yeah, definitely don't try and make it a race"
"Yeah, our competitive colleague (obviously when this conversation was happening, we were all addressing her by her name, else it would have made for very uncomfortable listening for her, as she was right there the whole time, silently eyeing me like a hawk would a little shrivelled, defenseless worm secreting itself with fear) will probably just thrash you"
"Yeah, you're not going to fare well"
"Haha! We should all come watch and cheer our competitive colleague on!" 
"Yeah, but this is a bit easy for her, she's used to doing twice that length!"
"You're right, but don't worry about cheering James on"
"Nah, he'll be alright"
"No he won't!"
"I don't think he'll manage"

I politely excuse myself from the conversation. 

This is utterly dreadful, I tell myself in the mirror. What the hell am I going to do?! I can't run 11km- I can barely run 1km! The last time I fully engaged in any physical activity was refereeing a tag-rugby tournament that definitely wasn't tag-rugby at the end (hence my conversion to whistle-blower). I'm so screwed. 

In order to bail some water from my capsizing vessel of self-esteem, I decide there's nothing else for it: it is time for me to rediscover my hatred for the gymnasium. 

I shuffle in through the door of a new gym which has opened in the same town I work in, Cheltenham. It's a hive of finely-honed specimens, a hub of heavy lifting and a centre of muscular excellence, and, of course, myself. I stand at the door, my "small" Stevenage F.C (you may have to Google them) football shirt hanging off me in the same way a tent canvas hangs of a quivering telegraph pole. But I can afford myself a moment of private smugness: my motivator is waiting for me. A personal trainer who, for 60 gloriously agonising minutes, puts me through my paces and pushes the very limit of what I am capable of. 

Five minutes into the warm up, the ace in my deck says, "Right, as this is your first session, we're just going to do a couple of regimes which will just let me gauge your stamina, and then we can work from there." I wheeze something back to him, but I can't remember what it was, and it was probably unrepeatable anyway. Sweat was dripping into my ears after about 25 minutes, and festering more self-doubt about my ability to put one foot in front of the other for eleven thousand metres, which sounds like a lot when it's written out like that. 

However, upon returning home, having a quick sob in the shower and a blub into my beer and bowl of Coco Pops (which is perfectly legitimate at night, don't stand for convention!), my body suddenly feels like a million dollars! This is what it feels like to be trying at something, to be making an effort, and it feels fantastic. Expectations raised slightly, I quickly search for the 10,000m world record. 26 minutes, 17 seconds, set by a man called Kenenisa Bekele. Wow. Mo Farah, Britain's go-to distance runner, has done it in 27:44. Usually, such numbers would demoralise me back into submission- it took me 40 minutes just to watch Mo Farah win at the Olympics last year. Okay, those two pretty fast, but if I get inside half of that- that's 54 minutes! Plus I'm doing an extra kilometre, so it wouldn't even be that bad! There we go- all I have to do is be twice as rubbish as the fastest man in Britain. I literally have to be half the athlete Mo Farah is!

How hard can that be?

and how hard can it be to donate to this magnificent cause? Not very, all you have to do is click on the link below and then part with some of your very undeserved money. We all know you don't deserve it. These people do. Fix this mess right now and donate as much as you can or a little as you want, it all goes to a great cause.

Sunday, 6 October 2013


I say the word 'no' far too many times. 

I'm not alone in thinking that, I'm sure. Which is strange, because that very toxic word is the reason I find myself alone now, in the office, with nobody to talk to. 

It's a dreary, autumnal Monday, and as I make my lonesome weekly (alright, daily) mid afternoon stroll to a local, multinational, tax-avoiding (probably) employee-thrashing (possibly?) bile-regurgitating (definitely) fast-food chain, I begin to wonder how I can turn the fortunes of my one-man wolfpack around... Are things really that bad? If there was a statue of me (there never will be), would my colleagues tear it down and throw their shoes at it? Is it only a matter of time before I am thrown into the stocks, made to give back in my Macbook, and continue writing out all my work by hand. How did it get so bad? When I first arrived, my sole ambition was to simply say 'yes' to everyone to come across as a bright, positive young man. It seems that they have found out who I really am underneath all too quickly. 


That's it!

Nobody thought I was a snivelling guttersnipe when I said 'yes' to everyone at the start of my employment. People loved asking me to do work for them! We shared the burdensome load over two sets of shoulders, and walked up the mountain of excellence together! Now, I have abandoned my travellers in pursuit of a separate, easier avenue up the hill, which, it turns out, is a very steep and lonely one. 

Surely if I started saying yes to everyone, things might look up for me?!

It just might work. 

For one week, I will be a 'Yes Man'. To any request, any query, any demand, if I could say 'yes', I would. No backing out, no shying away, and certainly no U-turns. I would say yes to everyone and everything, and go through with it!

I arrive back at the office, healthy wrap in hand ("Oh, and I have a student card as well, so, er, can I have a free cheeseburger?"), and begin my new quest for happiness.

"James, can you do some work for me-oh, have you just got some lunch?"
"Yeah, but it's okay, I'll do it!"
"Yeah, when do you want it done by?"
"Erm, later today?"
"Yep! No Problem"
"Oh, brilliant! Thanks!"

This is incredible. The ticker turns round to 'One'. I have said yes to the one person who asked something of me, and I have delivered magnificently. What a sensation! What elation! This is what saying yes feels like! Positive! I should do this more often. 

"James, I've got a little task for you."
"Yep, I'll have it ready by tomorrow afternoon."
"Amazing, thanks"
(This is an abbreviated conversation I had; the job was mind-bendingly tedious, but irrelevant to the story)

Two 'yeses' in my first afternoon, this is incredible! I may buy a little bell so I can ping it whenever a yes comes along. I'd never stop!

My journey home is a little longer than usual, as I let everybody looking to pull out go ahead of me, and am faced at my front door with the missus looking rather like a puppy does next to a broken vase. As it transpires, she had accidentally place a bid on two armchairs on my eBay account, not hers, and really it was my fault for not logging out. 

"But can we still get them?" 
I give a wry smile. And press 'buy it now'. We now have two new armchairs. 

Before you think that was either 1. Crazy or 2. A lie, the armchairs in question were only 99p combined. All we had to do was pick them up, and it turns out they were only 20 miles away. So, off we went, and hey presto, we have comfort in our living room at an affordable price. What an excellent yes!

The next day in Waitrose, I was in the queue to check out behind a woman who had decided that Tuesday morning was an excellent time to do her weekly shopping, leading me to silently bemoan my decision to come in just for a pack of gum. As she turns around, she sees my sole potential purchase, and gestures to me, "do you want to go in front of me?". "Yes!" I beam, and thank her hugely for her kindness. Another brilliant opportunity!

The rest of my walk to work wasn't so much a trudge-like commute, more like Charlie Bucket skipping home gayly and fancy-free, holding a golden ticket to eternal happiness. I can kiss my miserable old life of solitude goodbye- this is what the new James Brittain is all about, and all it took was a simple yes! 

This 'yes' nonsense was easy, I thought to myself as I reached my desk and set myself up for a 8 hours of sheer positivity. Eventually, I may get to a point in my life where I simply cannot say no to anybody. I'll be perpetually positive, always affirmative and agreeable, constantly carried away to wherever my next 'yes' may take me! A carefree life of simply saying 'yes' to everyone, and never worrying about saying no to anyone. 

Then, it all changes. 

A fierce test of my resolve springs up in my inbox. 

From <>
To <><>

Hi all,

On Saturday 9 November at 11am the Legion are once again holding the Run2Remember at Lydiard Park near Royal Wootton Bassett.

This year there is the option of an 11k, 5k or 1.1k distance and you can run, walk or march.

It costs £10 each to register and then you can hassle all your friends and family for sponsorship!

Go on... you know you want to!

I tried to run once. It was 10km, and I was so lazy in my approach to the whole event, I took back my entrance one week after I had signed up. To say I am feckless and lazy is just the tip of the iceberg of what I have underachieved in life. If there is a gladiatorial battle to be had against the very boundaries of mankind's capabilities, you can be damn sure that I am on the side watching it, waiting until injury time and a 12-point margin to pick a winner. 

I can run. But I will not run. 

But I have to run. 

I have to say yes, don't I? Wait- is there even a question in that email? I can't see a question mark there, can you? The e-mail was definitely void of a question mark. Maybe it's an imperative? Maybe we have to do it? But that's a violation of our rights as lazy employees!

I really should say yes. Ignoring the email is just as bad as saying no. 

One reply. 

From: <>
To: <>

Stick me down for 11k.


That is definitely somebody replying in the affirmative. Someone has said yes, and I have not. Yet. Wait. No. I can't. I shouldn't. I'd only embarrass myself. Besides, it's for charity. Should I enter purely because I cannot say no? I'll surely be unveiled as a sickening fake, and it's for the Royal British Legion, one of the oldest and most noble charities in the entire country, surely I'll be kicked out?

I can't. It's too much.

From: <>

Oooo inter-office race! I'll do 11k too. 

WHAT?! Nobody mentioned anything about a race! What has this escalated into?! 11km is a lot! It's nearly 7 miles, which, if you were describing as a distance to a different place, you would say "about 10 miles". It's a race of "about 10 miles". I can't run that!

But I have to! These were the rules I created to better myself. I must abide by them. 
I take a sharp breath... and turn to the person next to me. 

"You did this last year, right?"
"Was it good?"
"Yeah, was brilliant. Great day out, great cause. Yeah, it was good"
"Are you doing it this year?"
"Oh no! Couldn't do it again!- But it's really good."

It is a great cause. It's a fantastic cause. I'm a big fan of the Royal British Legion. It's institutional. The Poppy Appeal is one of the few comforting annual certainties we have in this country to remind ourselves of our glorious moment in the sun.  

It is a great cause.

Alright, fine. Fine. I'll do it! I'll run the 11k

Exasperatedly, I sign up. Another yes on the ticker. Whoopee for me.  

But I am certainly not in it to race. It's not about kudos at work, or the false feeling of victory I'd get if I were to finish first out of my colleagues (and, after judging the 'competition', I can tell you I definitely won't). It is for a great, British charity. The best of the British charities.

I'll do it! Willingly, and enthusiastically! 

Message: (It's our competitive friend) Hey, How fast can you run?
Me: (being unable to refute my prowess) Like the wind, my competitive friend. Like the wind.
Message: Argh! Looks like I'll have to train then!

As must I.

I arrive home later that day, chuck the 2 copies of the Big Issue and 4 leaflets about rubbish local events I couldn't say no to on the sofa, dash upstairs, and delve into the deepest, darkest part of my wardrobe. (I say my wardrobe- it actually contains everything the missus has ever bought since about 2006, and a suit I wore to a family wedding last year). There they are! My trainers from a lost time. Another age, where a more athletic, handsome me used to grace dusty trail. 

Outside my front door, a few minutes later, I'm staring out at the road my house looks onto. Head to toe in ill-fitting, high-visibility running gear (a white England football shirt is highly visible, right?), ignoring the rain that's beginning to descend as fast as the sun is behind the houses, and I look up at the ribbon of grey in front of me. 

Let's go!

To be continued...

You can donate to the Royal British Legion by visiting my JustGiving page, and don't forget to buy and wear your poppy with pride!

Friday, 20 September 2013

Space: The Only Frontier

"Never, in the field of human travelling, has so much cheering been done over such a small victory, by somebody so insignificant."
Churchill (the Dog), (probably), 15th September 2013

I had been invited for coffee in Cirencester with a friend that I hadn't seen for a jolly long time. Too long in fact; he now lives in Hong Kong, and visits since his departure have been brief and rare. Too rare, in fact.

The plans for our latest rendez-vous were a little sketchy, even at 45 minutes to launch, so he does the decent thing and ring me to finalise the more vital details, like when and where shall we meet. To protect his identity, the voice in your head will be playing the role of the second speaker:

"Hi James, It's your friend"
"Ah, hello there! How are you doing?"
"Yeah, good thanks, are we still good for a coffee this afternoon?"
"Yeah, definitely, are we still on for in about half an hour?"
"That's fine, I'm already in Cirencester doing a couple of things"
This is bad. I live 8 miles from Cirencester, and I'm currently 8 miles from Cirencester. My friend lives in Hong Kong, and he's beaten me there. 
"Okay cool, well I'm just walking out the door now" I blurt, quickly frisking my sock drawer and dumping my towel on the floor.
"Brilliant, where shall we meet?"
"Oh, erm, I'm not quite sure, where would you like to go?"
"I don't know, you're the local here! Where's a good place to get a coffee in Cirencester? I'll let you decide."
"Okay, erm, shall we meet at Starbucks?"
"... Okay, Starbucks it is."
"Okay, cool! See you there"
"Yep, bye"

I put down my phone, and stand still for a second. Naked, except for one sock hooked onto my big toe. 


This man is a dear friend, not just to me, but to my entire family! He has travelled 6,039 miles to see me, and not only have I not travelled the 8 miles required of me, I have directed him to a faceless, soulless coffee chain, which, unless there have been some extraordinary circumstances in his life, he has probably been to before! I did not ask him to do this, he is taking time out of his whistle-stop tour of England to see me because he's a good man and a wonderful friend! He has probably travelled more this week than I have in my entire adult life for this coffee! What's worse, he is already there, which means I won't even be able to make him amends and buy him a coffee!

I scramble to the door, barely dressed, leap into the car and sprint off to town. This morning, which looked so promising roughly 6 minutes ago, is turning into a disaster. How could I have been so stupid to suggest a Starbucks?! My friend almost certainly woke up this morning, fresh faced, and said to his wife, "Darling, don't worry about making me one of your delicious coffees this morning, for I am off to Cirencester! A fine friend of mine will be showing me the delights of this fair town, and treating me to one of their sumptuous local cafés! I simply cannot wait!"

I have let him down in a very big way. 

Racing (legally) into Cirencester, I face a big dilemma: where am I going to park? It's Saturday afternoon, which isn't exactly notorious for being an 'off-peak' time when it comes to town centres. Do I park in a large one close to town, or a small one which would require a bit of a walk and make me even more late than I already am? I hedge my bet on one of the larger, but more popular, car parks. It should be alright to find a spot here, as, although it is more popular, as I have said, it is also quite large, as I have also said.

Good God. It is packed. 

One car leaving is replaced by two cars arriving. The queue is ridiculously long. Too long, in fact. It's hideously busy! It's quite possibly the busiest I have ever seen a car park in Cirencester. Why is it so busy today of all days? I need a space NOW! 

Faced with the absolute certainty that I will now be 4 hours late for this coffee, my eyes narrow as I hunt an elusive space.

Then, I see it, straight away.

Haha! Incredible! How has nobody else seen this?! I dash up to it before anyone can take it and- FUCK it's a Smart Car hiding behind one of those stupid 4x4s. The mirage of the parking desert. My oh my, that was embarrassing. Cursing my luck, and more so the owner of the other car who, despite my never meeting him, I'm pretty certain is an inconsiderate bastard, I plough on. 

Three whole laps of the car park later, nobody has budged. I contemplate moving on, trying a new car park, further letting down my friend even further to the point of effectively destroying our friendship, when suddenly a man and a woman emerge laden with shopping bags. They must be on their way to a car! Who else would walk to a car park with a load of shopping bags in tow? A space is about to open up and then it's a mad dash to fill it. Or is it?

I position myself right behind them, and follow them along the car park, like a camp, shy lion stalking quite a portly gazelle and his wife through the savanah. The man stops momentarily to find his keys. I lightly come to a stop just behind them. Come on. Find your keys... There they are, now let's go! He pulls them out of his pocket, and gestures to his wife to move in front of him so that I can drive past as they walk single file. No chance, my good sir. You're about to give me your spot. 

They are definitely walking towards a car. Along they shuffle between two cars, one of which must be theirs. 

I move in for the kill.


For whatever heathen reason unbeknownst to man, the couple go between two parked cars, and into a completely different section of the car park. Oh Jesus, I am completely screwed! What the hell did they do that for?! What kind of sick sociopath does that?! It's not as if they're going through the car park- or are they?! This is bad, this is really bad. Not only have I sent a good friend (though he may be quickly reconsidering his relationship with me) to a gutless tax-evading chain store for a cup of shit coffee, I haven't got the capacity to arrive even remotely on time. 

I implore you, who changes lanes in a car park? This is not a game of Frogger, where you can just change lanes willy nilly to reach your destination. This is society! 

I panic and suddenly burst into life. "YOU SON OF A BITCH!" I bellow, thrusting my fist at them. Not giving up on them, I spur the car onwards at a ferocious speed, smashing through the 5mph barrier with no concern for my safety or that of those around me- I have to have their space! My whole friendship depends on it!

They are just about to get into their car when I see another driver at the end of the other lane. Still a good 30 yards away, I flick on my indicator, which is like sticking a flag on the moon, or urinating on a lampost. It's mine, you cretin. I've earned this spot legitimately- now go and stalk your own shopper. 

I drift in uneventfully, take a deep breathe, and then (and I don't think there is another word for it), I bloody explode. 

"GET THE FUCK IN! THAT WAS INCREDIBLE! WOOHOO! Oh my god, that's the greatest achievement of my LIFE! Unbelievable... UNBELIEVABLE! How did I manage to get this spot? SHEER GENIUS, that's what! I am the parking king! Lord James Brittain of the Car Parks of Great Britain and Northern Ireland! What a FUCKING GREAT SPOT! "

"Can we go and see your friend now?" wails a very shocked and terrified missus.

I had completely failed to register her existence for the last half an hour. Normally, that would mean a severe telling off, but she remains silent, stunned by my screaming. Never mind, she hasn't comprehended the full scale of what I have achieved. Bless her. I smile, give her a peck on the cheek to let her know that I'm glad that she is here to witness this moment of pure parking majesty, and we both venture into town. As we walk along I bask in the glory of my achievement. I imagine fireworks, a marching band, a Red Arrows fly over, and a booming voice declaring I'm so, I don't even know it. But I do. By George, I know it. 

We see my friend, already in Starbucks and halfway through a coffee. My bumbling an apology is quickly waved away with an "I've only just got here myself", though both empty cups next to the one he is drinking says otherwise, "Have a seat! It's been too long!". I sit myself down with a cup of [note to self: insert a manly coffee, not a vanilla latte with extra cream and sprinkles] and we simply pick up where we left off, as all great friends do, all discrepancies aside.

As we depart and go our separate ways, I must admit the ridiculously manly coffee I ordered had done nothing to diminish my euphoria. I wondered if I was ever going to come down from this magnificent crest I was riding on. Maybe this is it. Could it be that such a small thing like a parking space has changed my entire outlook on life? I feel strange. I feel... happy. Happy! Happy... What is this strange, evocative word?!

'Maybe the twat who parked his Audi A3 within about an inch of my door can tell me what happiness is', I think to myself as I wriggle into my car to drive home. If they knew how I'd managed to get my spot, maybe they'd show me a little more respect. Now I can't even see out of the spot- look, man in a Volvo, I'm sorry I nearly cut you off, but I can't see a bloody thing! Jesus, this space is so tight, it's taking ages to get out! How close did that wanker park?! And look at that traffic! Where has that just come from?

I think next time a friend suggests we meet up for coffee may recommend Skype. If he ever wants to see me again. I mean, it's a lot of effort for someone who lives 8 miles away, let along in Hong Kong.

Too much, in fact. 

Friday, 30 August 2013

It Was Only a Kiss, It Was Only a Kiss

How could I have been so stupid? How?!

The internship was going so well! The work I was doing was getting some great feedback, people were smiling at me around the office and asking those typical questions one gets in the offices. Questions like "So, did you have a good weekend?" and "... So, what are you up to this weekend?". I even was invited to a couple of meetings in the boardroom. The boardroom! That's no place for an intern to be sitting! That's for, well, the board! Clearly I was moving in the right direction. 

But then it all came crashing down. 

It was a balmy, Thursday afternoon. I had prepared for the day so well. Ironed trousers, ironed shirt, polished shoes, combed hair, clean shaven. I was ready to rock the very foundations of the world of business. The morning was just a blur of quick-fire jobs, people's recommendations, and the promise of more work beyond my original time at the company. I was here to stay and make the most of it! I'd even upgraded to a new chair- one with arms and wheels, and a back which doesn't itch my delicate skin. 

Pleased with a morning of sheer excellence, I took lunch a little later than usual, so keen was I to not break the momentum I had built up. At two o clock, I afforded myself a little, well deserved pause. 

That's when things started to go wrong. 

I was on my way to the shops to pick up some chicken, because, for some reason, I left the house this morning with a chicken caesar salad, minus the key ingredient, a lollypop, because I am five years old, and a milkybar, for the same reason. I received an email, with another little bit of work for me to do on it, from a woman in another department. A young woman, who I'd had a little contact with before, but this was something that we would be working on quite extensively. I see the email arrive on phone (because they can do that, these days), and I reply promptly.

'Yeah, that's fine, I'll have it all ready by tomorrow for you.
JB xx'



I have made a big bloody mistake. 

Kisses on an email?!

This is not a friend, this is not a chat, this is a bloody colleague with some bloody work for bloody me, and I've gone and sent kisses at the end of my email! What the HELL did I do that for? I have sent an email to a work colleague with kisses on the end, and there is nothing I can do to rectify it! I'm stuck in the middle of a supermarket, holding some chicken, staring at my phone like an idiot, completely dumbstruck at what I have just done. 

I quickly calculate the scale of my disaster: by the time I have paid for the chicken and pork pie (by the way I also bought a pork pie, pot-bellied demon that I am), she will have told the woman next to her. By the time I have left the store, the woman next to her will have told the people around her. By the time I'm out of the car park, her whole department will know. By the time I get back to work, the whole damn office will know that James Brittain is an absolute sleaze who will send kisses on emails to whoever he goddamn pleases. By the time my boss returns from London, I will be out of a job, I just know it. I imagine myself returning home to see all my clothes slung out of the window, and a note from the missus saying "Saw what you did on the news, we're fucking finished" attached to my pulverised xbox, and my guitar hanging by it's strings from the tree in my garden. 

This would never have happened if I hadn't answered that stupid email with my phone. I text with my phone, and I send kisses on the end of texts! I must have automatically thought I was sending a message to somebody close to me. What an idiot! Because of one silly little error, I will now forever be branded as the office bike. That's it- I can't go back to work. I can't show my face in there, the shame would be unbearable. The heated glares would burn the hairs on the back of my neck, and melt my cold shame, reducing it to a puddle right by where I was standing. 

I slide in through the back door at work, head bowed away from eye contact, and quickly sit down. I open up my salad, add the chicken, and set about wolfing it down as fast as I can, so I can just get back to work- at least that was going well for me. A part of me hoped that I would be judged for my work, but that quickly vanished, because I'd picked the worst food to eat in a sexual harassment crisis. 

My chicken caesar salad was in a tupperware box in the office fridge, I'd also brought a yoghurt from home, and there was that pork pie. None of this food was particularly helpful to my cause. The chicken pieces I had purchased were far too big, and I'd only brought a fork with me. Not wanting to risk another walk to the kitchen, I soldiered on, cutting all my food with the fork, until I exerted to much, and a sauce-stained leaf of spinach flew out of my box and onto the laptop that work had given me. I quickly wiped it off with a napkin I'd saved from Burger King (times are hard...) and got back to eating.

It wasn't until three mouthfuls later when I spotted a rogue bit of salad on the desk next to me, right in front of another colleague. Before it had even registered in my mind, I broke into a sweat. Had she heard about the sexting-scandal? Did she think this was my way of finding a reason to move my hand over to her desk? If she did, she hid it well as she carried on with her work. I, faced with the biggest dilemma of my professional career, decided to use the same Burger King napkin (times are really hard...) to wipe it away as subtly as I can, whilst I mumbled something which sounded absolutely nothing like the word "sorry". 

Wondering quite how the past 45 minutes had ruined four weeks of hard work so effectively, I moved on to the yoghurt. There's nothing remotely incriminating about a yoghurt is there? The missus had bought a pack which was rather delicious and healthy- guilt free in every way. I peel the lid off and stir the pot to get in all those bits at the side that don't stick to the lid, but aren't the same texture as the rest of the yoghurt. Saying that, quite a lot HAD stuck to the lid... I couldn't help myself.

I lick the lid, while at the same time look around to make sure nobody was watching. 

Somebody was watching, another female, and I catch her eye. 

Now I'm somebody who's looking at another woman, licking the lid of a yoghurt pot, with an odd look in my eye. I know what the look is- it's one of sheer panic and complete and utter fear for not just my job, but also my life, but how is she meant to know that? I try to blink and break the contact, but it's such a half-hearted effort, it involves just one of my eyes. Was that a wink? There is no recovery from such a situation. I have just single handedly written my own death sentence with one flick of my tongue. 

For the rest of the afternoon, I do not utter a single word. Typing frantically, and looking incredibly busy. I don't think it fooled anybody- interns aren't meant to be busy. Their sole responsibility is remembering who has what in their tea (which, since the fiasco mentioned in a previous post, I hadn't even bothered to do). High-flyer that I am, and my 'U' in Maths can vouch for that, I had set myself one goal when I arrived at this job: don't fuck it up. It looked like I was going to fail quite spectacularly. 

I check my inbox for any more work/lawsuits. 


I'm starting to get quite hungry again as the day draws to a close. But I can't eat that lollypop- the Sultan of suggestive foods- and the milkybar was devoured in a quick toilet/uncontrollable sob break 45 minutes ago. The pork pie would have just spoiled my appetite for dinner. Oh God, I'm bloody starving! 

I head over to the kitchen to grab some water- oh god, she's walking towards me. The victim of my lurid advances is walking straight towards me. I brace myself for a barrage of abuse.

"Hi James!"


I knew it. She so fancies me.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Internal Affairs

It's August, but you probably already knew that.

I've finished my first week of an internship at a company in Cheltenham, and it's gone fantastically. Finally there's a structure to my day, rather than waking up late in the morning, hungover, looking at a barely functioning clock and moving the hands so it said half past five and pouring myself a drink. 

No. I am up at 7am sharp, ironed a shirt (thank god for Wiki-How eh?!), hop in my modest car, commute (it takes about an hour) and arrive proudly into my new place of work at 9am sharp. I look around, and take it all in. Finally I am around people who do not want to spend their time slung over a urinal spluttering a concoction of WKD, pizza and blood while singing "Afternoon Delight". These people are a professional group of individuals, whose brains I can pick for valuable life and career advice, people who enjoy a light-hearted joke around the coffee machine without getting out of hand and all "Jimmy Savile" this and "make me a sandwich" that. People who prefer to ask "Did you hear that piece on Radio 4 this morning? More positive news like that from the Bank of England and we'll have a fantastic final quarter", rather than somebody who bounds into my personal space like a dog with a tennis ball and screams "ROOOOONEY!! WHAT A FUCKING GOAL, did you see it last night?!" It is vital that I make an excellent impression with these people. Relationships I forge here out of the fires of marketing excellence could last a lifetime. It is imperative that I do not insult, be rude to, or even ignore any one of these employees who have graciously made room for me to fit in. 

I'm shown around and I meet and greet a few people. I say hello politely, shake a few hands, and am shown to my desk, and say hello to the people who are working in close proximity to me. I've nearly met everyone I need to, except for a man working at the end of the row, who was intently typing away with purpose. He pauses for a moment, looks up. I nod at him. Realising that he's not going to get a jovial "hello, nice to meet you" out of me, he decides I'm a prick (I can tell), and goes back to work. I realise that, eventually, I'll have to join him in doing some work. I've been applying for jobs and talking about doing work for nearly two months. My time as come. Zero hour is closing in. Eventually, I will be sitting at a desk producing work which will make somebody very rich. I say somebody because, let's face it, it's not going to be me. 

I start the computer, am given my task, and look up at the screen. 

"How about a cup of tea, James?"

It's my boss, standing by my desk, offering me, an intern, a cup of tea. A boss, offering an intern a cup of tea. What kind of sick, topsy-turvy world had I stepped into?

I graciously say yes, and by doing so instantly put myself in tea-debt. The intern simply HAS to make more teas than everyone, otherwise, what's the point in employing one? I'm not a huge tea drinker anyway, I have a coffee in the morning from my cafetiere, and possibly a herbal tea in bed when I'm reading a book, but that's only because I wish I was 65. Why did I accept this ridiculous offer? It's unheard of, it's unethical- it's blood tea. Tea which somebody has needlessly suffered to obtain for my pleasure. The guilt is surging through my body, is this a sackable offence? Have I brought, not just the company, but the whole concept of internships into disrepute? It probably wasn't even an offer, it was a test. A cruel test they make all interns suffer, like an initiation, but without forced diet of an onion, cinnamon powder and bovril.

His phone rings and he's delayed. It must have been an important call, because he sits back down and starts writing and looking at an accompanying email. Sensing the opportunity to claw back some kudos, I leap up out of my chair, expose the white socks I'm wearing with black shoes and black trousers which are becoming a little too short in the leg (shamone!) and head over to the kitchen. 

Then I remember a chilling fact from my youth. 

cannot make a good cup of tea. 

For about 17 years, wool was pulled over my eyes to hide me from this, frankly, hurtful truth. For my whole youth my family have accepted tea from me, smiled, taken a sip, said 'nice one, James!' and died a little inside. Finally, my parents broke the truth to me by calling me into the dining room to discuss it, which is never a good sign. Suddenly the dining room table, where I've enjoyed many a hearty meal turns into a conference table, like we're in The Apprentice, and I'm the project manager who was in charge of the Shit Tea Task. It was too tearful to repeat to you here. No British man should have to suffer like I did. I may use whatever money I have in my will to open up a foundation to rehabilitate those who have been told they do not make good cups of tea. But how can you learn how to make a good cup of tea? It's like having the courage to run down the high street naked; you either have it or you don't. Right now, I know which one I'd take.

The memory of my 'firing' was all too clear in my mind as I handed my boss the tea I had tried to make him. Embarrassed, I leave it on his desk behind his phone, laptop, several stacks of paper and a booklet, hoping he won't see it, and scuttle off to my desk, avoiding eye contact with everyone. 

Sadly, he notices it, and thanks me. I nod, knowing that in about four seconds he'll be wishing he had just worked from home today. 

He takes a sip, looks at it for a second, takes in what he has just taken in, and leaves his desk. If he returned within 20 minutes, I either didn't notice, or simply couldn't see him with my head in my hands. Still, at least he'll never ask me to make another one. Ever. 

But enough tea drinking- to work! 

The my screen is still relatively empty. I look around and see everybody busy at work. I look back at my screen and am completely lost in the white light coming from it-what-the-hell-do-I-write-Jesus-H-Christ-I-know-NOTHING-about-marketing-why-did-I-study-politics-for-three-years- 


The man at the end of the row, just two seats away from me, sneezes, and nearly everybody says "bless you". I, however, was so entranced by my screen it took me a couple of seconds for the sneeze to even register, and by then, the moment to say "bless you" has gone. A late "bless you" is worse than no "bless you", because if you don't say it, people just think you're a die-hard atheist who has completely ejected religion from your life. Receiving a late bless you is like receiving a gift card for Ann Summers- it's no bloody use to me at all.

But he clearly hasn't seen it like this. For him, it's better late than never, and I just curled out a solid "never" on his front lawn. He glares at me again, and gets back to work. 


Whatever he expelled from his nostrils must have been contagious, because moments later, the man directly next to me sneezes. I am prepared for this, and I don't want it to sound like boasting, but I was first in with the 'bless you'. So enthusiastic was I with my blessings, I ended up being louder than the initial sneeze was. People from other desks were looking at us now, as if they'd just walked into the stationary cupboard and caught us in a moment of intense passion.  Worst of all was the glare from the man who, not 2 minutes ago, I had completely sneeze-snubbed. Maybe I was reading too much into it, but it appeared to be a look which said "Okay, you little intern punk. You've just made your first enemy here, good luck fitting in."

But I have to make a stand with the "bless you"s. How far away does the sneezer have to be for it to be acceptable to send a "bless you"? Is there an acceptable distance, like holding the door open for somebody who's a fair distance behind you? If one person sees me dishing out "bless you"s like sweets at a sale, the whole situation will just get out of hand. I'll be harassed by people from different departments for my silence. If I even hear a whisper of a sneeze from the four corners of the office, I'd have to send an e-mail to everyone in the office.

I consider writing a draft and saving it. I could probably send an e-mail quicker than most could react to the sneeze. It's something that nobody expects... Nobody, until now. I am no longer a rude intern- I am a genius of manners and courtes-


I sneeze.

Nobody says bless you.

I deserved that. 

Monday, 22 July 2013

You May Say I'm A Dreamer...

It's Tuesday night. Or Wednesday, I don't really know. I don't really care. It's just another drab, boiling hot evening in boiling bloody hot July. The nights are so hot they are simply an extension of the infernally endless days of haze and heat. The bloody weather, it's always the bloody weather...

Having returned from working a flight as an air hostess, the missus is sitting across from me at the dinner table, tucking into the dinner we (well, she) made in quite regular clothes, while I sit, panting like a dog stuck in a car, insulated by a layer of my own sweat to further worsen my mood. I stare down at my food. It's way too hot to eat, but, as a man, I have to at least look like I've made an effort. Ray Winstone isn't the man he is now because he only had a few mouthfuls of risotto each meal and then gave up- that guy knows his way around a dinner plate. I bet his favourite garnish for steak is another steak-

'Oh, I forgot to tell you' she bursts, causing me to jump and drop the prawn and 3 grains of rice I was mustering the energy to eat from my fork. 'David Beckham was on my flight, he's really nice'.

I blink at her. 

David Beckham? The David Beckham? As in, national-treasure-England-captain-charitable-hero-and-idol-for-millions David Beckham? Meeting 'Goldenballs' (I am aware nobody calls him that any more) used to be a lifetime dream of mine, since THAT goal against Wimbledon. He's the answer to every boy with a silly haircut practising free-kicks against walls nationwide. The man is one of the most recognisable faces in the world, probably just behind The Queen. 

I used to dream about David Beckham an awful lot as a child. Whether it was meeting him, seeing him, playing football with him, or even being him. But then as a child, my dreams used to be as heroic and glorious as they were completely far-fetched. I could be an F1 racer one night, lift the Champions League the next, and then score a last-minute try to cap off a rather excellent week. There was, quite literally (in a fantasy kind of way), nothing I couldn't do, because, as a child, I had know idea what my limits were. I was confident I could have grown up to be anybody.

So when I did eventually wake up, I would act out my dreams as if they were really happening. My garden was my Wembley, my Silverstone, my 1999 season. But slowly, as I grew up, I realised that my garden was just a garden, and not the turf of Twickenham, or the wicket of Lords. Eventually, I grew up to be a slightly weedy, camp young man who's too scared to "like" female's facebook pictures for fear someone will write "PERVERT" on his wall, as if they only put a picture of themselves in hotpants on the internet as part of Operation Yewtree  and I took the bait. Thus, I have learned most of my limitations by now (I'm sure there are more things I can't do lurking around somewhere), and as a result, my dreams have become more and more limited. 

'Fucking sort yourself out, right now!'
'Look, I'm trying!'
'Not fucking trying hard enough! What the fuck are you doing? You're fucking useless! Fuck off'

Rio Ferdinand said that to me. I was centre-back alongside him at Old Trafford. But I wasn't an internationally-renowned player. I was me. With my footballing ability (there is no footballing ability). Which means that, when a player from Manchester City rushed to me with the ball, he flew straight past and scored. Rio seemed to think it was all my fault. I woke up soon after, thoroughly embarrassed, though not quite as embarrassed as I was at Silverstone and Jenson Button drove past me (but then again, he was in a state of the art McLaren, and I was in a Peugeot 106, so it was inevitable), and nowhere NEAR as embarrassed as I was when I was at work, carrying some drinks over to a childhood sweetheart who had married someone else, and suddenly tripped over, which sounds dangerously realistic, but was, in fact, another dream. 

As for Miss Forgets-to-mention-David-Beckham, I guess the sky's the limit for her, which is why sleeping is quite easy for her to do. She can lie in bed and drift off, safe in the knowledge that in ten minutes, she'll be trying on a pair of diamond shoes, or swimming in an ocean of handbags (as you have probably guessed, the research department of JBHQ is at an all-time low), whereas I stare straight at the ceiling, wondering who is going to hit me with their Honda Civic next. 

Last year, Scottish-grimble-turned-British-hero Andy Murray told us about how he dreamt he had won Wimbledon after in fact losing, and how it was really cruel, and he woke up feeling awful, making us all feel awful too. But when I dream about being booed off Have I Got News For You, I'm consoled with 'Well, I can see that happening, because not many people find you funny. But then again, I guess you'd never be asked to go on the show'. 

The world would be so different if Martin Luther King had possessed a similar subconscious deficiency to myself- I mean, if he hadn't dared to dream about achieving such landmarks of racial equality, people like George Zimmerman would be able to shoot black people and get away with it, or someone like John Terry would be able to call somebody else a 'fucking black cunt' and still be paid £200,000 a week to play football! Now that's far-fetched! 

It soon dawned upon me, after the missus said she had met David Beckham, that I will almost certainly never meet him, but that's not to say I'm worse off for it. But a part of me wishes I could still dream about meeting him. Right now, I'd settle for dreaming about meeting a neighbour on my street who isn't either the missus or the landlord. But I can't. My fantasies are grounded in the reality of my every shortcoming. Soon I'll be dreaming about being able to brush my teeth without accidentally falling into the toilet, if I'm lucky. 

Or maybe I should be more positive; get out in the garden, alone, and, just one last time, step up to take the penalty that wins England the World Cup. Then perhaps I could jump into my Ford Focus. Not to go anywhere in it, but just drive it around Silverstone for a bit, and win there once more. Maybe perhaps in the afternoon, I could ride my bike along the Champs Elysee. Then come in from having the best day of my life, fall asleep, and relive it all over again in my mind.

Failing that, I could actually get off my arse and actually achieve something.

But isn't that what dreaming is for?