14 January 2010

2010. New year, same disappointment.

I have no idea where this blog post is going, so I'm going to randomly start typing words in a bid to kick some life into my head. Daffodils and sausages and limericks and fellatio and Joseph Stalin and ignorance and javelins and moonbeams and lentils and soda pops.

That, right there, was a genuine train of thought. A technique used by many psychiatrists (at least in the films I've seen) is to say a word and get the patient to respond with the first thing that comes into their head. Those were the first words that I thought of. Sausages (nom) and fellatio (er, nom?) are pretty obvious choices for a man, but I'm buggered if I know where Joseph Stalin came from. If anyone reading this has a background in psychology, I'd love to know what it all means.

Right, back to the blog. My fingers are sufficiently limbered up and my brain pan has been lubricated by the judicious application of a couple of glasses of booze.


There has been little action on the blog lately, mostly because I've been too angered by Christmas to even think straight. Additionally, nothing of interest has happened.

I did have one idea that briefly excited me - to write a review of 2009 in which I would visit a single event from each of the last twelve months and moan about it at length. I even decided that it would be a two-part post, each part covering six months.

Sadly, I soon realised it was turning into nothing more than a rather disturbing record of me gleefully cackling and rubbing my hands together over a selection of celebrity deaths. So, pretty quickly, that idea bit the dust. I'm not a monster.

So, I'm left with little choice but to recount to you something that happened to me earlier today. Make yourself comfortable, pour a drink, light a soothing pipe of dark Moroccan tobacco and read...

After a hard day at work, I decided that rather than walk home in the grimy Essex slush, I'd treat myself to a cab. As a single man, my pleasures are few and far between - a cigarette; a glass of something alcoholic, cheap and nasty; striking a recalcitrant child; frenzied self-abuse; or a taxi journey. These are the things that temporarily bring joy into my dull life.

Trudging over to the taxi rank, I found myself walking at the same pace as a young man in a suit. Being a generous chap, I slowed down, extended my hand in the universal gesture of 'no, after you' and he stepped into the first taxi on the rank and was driven away into the night.

I walked over to the second cab on the rank where a portly, silver-haired gentleman was sitting in the driver's seat reading a book. As I approached, I was startled to see something vaguely resembling panic in his eyes but, after a moment of initial concern, dismissed it as a trick of the light. Clambering into his sweltering cab, I quickly realised the reason for his wide-eyed horror at my approach...

Some thirty seconds prior to me bumbling down the street, the cab driver, possibly suffering from some particularly painful form of gastrointestinal dysfunction, had decided to loosen his sphincter and emit a lavish fart of such extraordinary pungency that before I could even say "Good evening" my face was frozen, mouth partially open in a silent retch, nostrils flaring at the absolutely astonishing reek.

By now, I was sitting in the back with the door closed, so it was too late to climb out again muttering some feeble excuse about forgetting to buy something in the shop.

There was a moment of silence. We were, briefly, at an impasse. He knew he'd done it. I knew he'd done it. But, of course, neither of us could say anything. He knew he couldn't apologise. I knew I couldn't make a comment. Thus were we locked together in a grotesque pantomime of societal politeness and mutual embarrassment.

Eventually, the silence was broken.

"Where you going to?" he stammered.

I replied with the name of my road and off we went.

Now, it's barely 5-minutes drive to my house, but I'm sure you can understand that it felt like several hours. For the entire duration of the journey, every breath I took caused a fresh wave of nausea to ripple through my body, starting at the stomach and ending in my mouth, locked away behind gritted teeth and a grimace so fierce that any witnesses might be led to believe I'd just eaten a dog turd dipped in lemon juice.

The cab was hot, stuffy and so extraordinarily odorous that I can only compare it to sitting in a fan-assisted oven on Gas Mark 8 with a 4-inch stack of used nappies on your lap.

Now, an hour later, I still don't know how I managed to stop myself spraying vomit over the back of the driver's head.

I considered opening the window, but things are rarely that simple. You see, if I'd opened it immediately, he would have known the game was up and his subsequent embarrassment would have made me feel guilty. Therefore, I had to leave it for a few moments. But how long? If I'd waited for a minute, he'd have thought "Phew, got away with that one. Maybe it hasn't travelled into the back yet" and visibly relaxed, grateful that he hadn't been caught out, whereupon I would open the window and he would immediately stiffen, silently mouthing the words, "Shit Shit Shit".

Therefore, I decided to wait a bit longer. Unfortunately, this was a very foolish and naive move. If you sit there for 2 minutes without opening the window and then you suddenly cave in and wind it down, the taxi driver might think, "Hold on. He opened the window but sat there smelling it for a couple of minutes first? What is he, some kind of olfactory pervert?" before kicking me out of the cab.

I was trapped. I'd missed my opportunity and the window HAD to remain closed.

At one point, he tried engaging me in conversation, presumably in a desperate bid to show that everything was fine and the taxi didn't smell at all like a latrine at Glastonbury, but I simply wasn't in the mood to exchange pleasantries as I breathed in his flatulence.

Now, on a side note, I should tell you about my aversion to beans.

Nothing on Earth is as mouth-watering as the smell of a cooked breakfast. Bacon sizzling under the grill; hot, plump sausages baking in the oven; the warm, nutty aroma of bread frying. The English Breakfast is an absolute treat for the senses and if there's one thing that can ruin it in a bloody heartbeat, it's the addition of a big wet puddle of baked beans. The cheap, sweet juice gets over everything and instantly taints the flavour of every other item on the plate. Baked beans are, quite frankly, an abomination and I despise them. The way they look, the way they taste, the way they smell - nothing about them is good and they make me very angry indeed.

Thus, it was with mounting horror, that I slowly realised the smell pervading every corner of the taxi, the stench that I was drawing into my lungs, smelled of beans.

I almost sobbed.

"Don't worry," I thought to myself, "you're nearly home. Just a bit further and you can get out into the fresh air. Keep your shit together, man."

I blinked away the tears and looked out of the window, eager to get a glimpse of the street sign that would announce I was only moments away from liberating myself from this dutch-oven of feculence. There it is! There it is!

I watched, mouth agape, head slowly turning 180 degrees as the taxi sailed straight past my road. The taxi driver had missed the turning. I was so distraught, I couldn't even speak. I genuinely sat there in complete silence, a tear springing to the corner of my eye as another wave of nausea surged through my body.

After a moment, the taxi driver said, "Oh, you wanted that one didn't you? Sorry."

I nodded dumbly, bottom lip quivering.

Of course, he didn't turn around straight away, oh no. Instead, we trundled down the road for another 45 seconds, as I continued to inhale his beany stench, passing several turnings that could have very easily taken me home. I was too upset to think, let alone say anything. After a moment, he turned and soon we were outside my flat.

The taxi ground to a halt and the driver looked at me in the mirror.

"Four quid please."

I paid him, wordlessly, scrambling at the door handle like an excitable puppy. I flung the door wide and leaped out, sucking in a huge lungful of fresh, untainted air. I was giddy with the rush of cold, clean oxygen. I'd made it. I was home. And I hadn't been sick over myself. This was indeed a victory.

And then, in a truly staggering moment of idiotic courtesy, I turned around, put my shaking hand on the door and said, "Thank you" before slamming it shut.

There's something quintessentially English about that which makes me simultaneously proud and so ashamed of myself that I could sob like a baby...