Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Painful Shoes


Ladies – let me show you two clips! Men – please look away for a few seconds.

The first clip is of poor Jen when she sees the shoes of her dreams:



The second clip is when she takes the shoes off:



I’ve seen this madness first hand. Let me take you back in time a few years. I was in Funchal, Madeira with Mrs PM and we were debating where to go in the evening. I told her that I had seen a couple of bars and restaurants further along the promenade.

“How far?” said Mrs PM.

“Not far at all,” I replied.

I thought nothing of it and we set off. After about ten minutes, Mrs PM stopped and asked

“How much further?” 

“About another ten minutes,” I replied.

“You could have bloody told me,” she snapped. “These shoes are killing me”

I looked at her incredulously as her face darkened slightly.

“Why are you wearing them then? Why on earth did you buy them?” I asked.

I think I would have been in less trouble had I spilled a beer over her head.

She looked around with a face like thunder. For a second I thought she was looking for a large object to hit me with but then she just grabbed my hand.

“We’re going here,” she said dragging me into a dingy bar, where she explained to me, as if I were a five year old simpleton, about the basic relationship between women and their shoes.

I nodded thoughtfully as she stood on my soapbox and told me why women buy uncomfortable shoes. Apparently all women are guilty of this madness. Just like Jen in the videos above, women fall in love with shoes and wear them no matter how uncomfortable they are. The idea is that they don’t have to walk too far, just be able to stand up and look beautiful in them.
For men, shoes need to be functional and comfortable and I can honestly say, with my hand on my heart, that I have never bought uncomfortable footwear.

Since then I have noticed this mad trait in women myself, where, in a moment of madness, they buy shoes that are beautiful yet look as if they will rip the poor creature’s feet apart of cripple them for life.

Some of the heels on these shoes are huge!

I was once speaking to a woman at a bar as we were waiting to be served and she started grimacing.

“Are you okay” I asked.

“Just a second,” she said before removing both of her shoes.

“Oh GOD, that’s better,” she said picking them up.

She had shrunk about four inches. The heels were enormous. I wanted to ask her how she had managed to hobble the short distance from her table to the bar but was too scared in case she whacked me her footwear.

I’ve also known women take a huge bag with them on a night out.

“What’s in the bag?” I’ve asked.

“Just my shoes,” they would say.

These are sensible women who wear comfortable shoes to walk to the restaurant or bar and then, when they get there, swap them for a pair of horrific but compellingly beautiful high-heeled foot scrunchers. After hobbling around for the entire evening, the shoes would then be swapped back at the end of the night.

Worse, I’ve seen women do this but then rush up to the dance floor in a night club with the worst shoes possible and bop away as if they were wearing slippers before hobbling back to their table.

I once heard somebody say “All women, without exception, are mad!”

I think this is untrue but when it comes to shoes, a lot of women lose their minds.

Meanwhile, back in that bar in Funchal, Mrs PM told me that women like to dress to impress and there is nothing more impressive than the way high heeled shoes alter the posture of a woman and make her look taller.

But I have news for you, guys – they’re not doing it to impress men – on the contrary – it is to impress other women.

You see for women, fashion is all about competing with other women.

They don’t care about us.

Is this instinct or madness?

I know for a fact that I wouldn’t even consider buying a pair of shoes if I could only walk a hundred yards in them. And this is true of almost all men I know who have met.

It doesn’t make any sense to me and to be honest this is a backwards step in my quest to understand the fairer sex, despite Mrs PM’s explanation.

Here are a few other examples of crazy shoes.






And Mrs PM, if you are reading this and considering buying any of them and you want to wear them, you will just have to get a taxi (though I think you might struggle to even walk the short distance to that).

I know one thing for sure – I am not carrying you.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum


I start this post off with an apology. I’m going to rant again. I’m going to talk about politics again.

And my language may not be what you would expect from a polite mild-mannered Englishman.

I’m sorry.

On Thursday my country voted to leave the European Union. I voted to stay.

I lost.

I am a sore loser and I am still barely able to contain my frustration and anger about this.

The United Kingdom consists of Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England but as a country we are not united at all. My own country, England, together with Wales voted to leave. Scotland and Northern Ireland wanted to stay. Yet now they will be dragged out of the European Union, alongside those English and Welsh people, like me, who want to stay.

And it stinks.

I can’t believe that just over half of my fellow countrymen, the ones who could actually be bothered to turn up, chose to turn their back on Europe based on a weird form of patriotism and a disturbing undercurrent of xenophobia.

I am gutted and angry. And yes – I am bitter too.

The immediate effects are obvious – the value of our currency has plummeted and the stock markets have dropped like a stone, something that the economists warned would happen. The problem is that the leavers, who have been seduced by a false sense of optimism, are saying “We’re British! We’ll be fine! We have our country back!”

I’m not a man of violence but the primitive, primeval animal within me wants to lash out at these idiots.

Now I’m sure that some leavers genuinely had reasons to vote the way they did but the truth of the matter is that the rest didn’t.

I actually saw one man interviewed who said:

“I’m a bit shocked to be honest. I’m shocked that we actually have voted to Leave, I didn’t think that was going to happen.

My vote, I didn’t think was going to matter too much because I thought we were just going to Remain, and the David Cameron resignation has blown me away to be honest.

I think the period of uncertainty that we’re going to have for the next couple of months, that’s just been magnified now.

So yeah, quite worried.”

Are you insane? What a fucking moron.

There is also a story I heard involving a young black woman talking to a white woman about the result. As they were chatting, a man walked past, pointed at the black woman and said “Great result – now we’ll send you home!”

Send her home to where, you racist fuckwit? She’s ENGLISH!

My own son is furious because he feels totally let down by the older generation. Why? Because the older generation mainly voted to leave.

Here is how the voting went over the age groups according to YouGov:

18-24: 75% Remain

25-49: 56% Remain

50-64: 44% Remain

65+: 39% Remain

Read those figures again – the majority of people under 50 wanted to stay whereas the majority of people over 50 wanted to leave. 
There is a lot of bitter resentment in young people and I am ashamed at those people my age and older who have potentially made our country a worse place to be for the younger generation in future.

I fully understand why they are angry.
Furthermore, this result has shattered any plans I had of spending my later years in sunny southern Europe. 
On a lighter note, I turned up for work yesterday having watched David Cameron’s resignation speech, and faced my work colleagues who wanted to see my reaction. Regular readers know that my work colleagues regard me as a grumpy old man prone to comedy rants.
And they weren’t disappointed. I ranted several times during the day but, even as I poured comedic scorn over the clown prince of idiocy, Boris Johnson, and the fish faced freak, Nigel Farage, I could see in their faces that they too were disappointed. If there were any leavers in my audience, they didn’t make their views known.
And now the leave politicians are asking for calm and unity. 
How the fuck can I be calm when and suddenly be magnanimous in defeat when I am so bitter and angry that we have been shafted just so that David Cameron can heal rifts in the Conservative Party?
The blame for this debacle lies fully at the feet of David Cameron. The man has taken a political gamble using my country and has lost, just so that he can appease his party. 

"WHAT HAVE I DONE????????"
I also blame Boris Johnson who, despite his vehement denials, used this referendum to stake his claim on Number 10 Downing Street. 

"I'M GOING TO BE PRIME MINISTER! SHAME THE COUNTRY WILL BE A DISASTER AREA!"
I blame the odious Michael Gove who is also a pretender to David Cameron’s now vacant throne.

"DON'T CALL ME ODIOUS! I'M MUCH WORSE THAN THAT!!!"
And if I am ever unfortunate enough to meet Nigel Farage, my wrath will explode so much that I will mutate into The Plastic Hulk and forcefully take him out of the country and maroon him on an island surrounded by hungry cannibals with a penchant for fish.

Nothing more to be said!
There are lots more people to blame for this but I have to stop now otherwise I will be writing forever!
Anyway, normal service will hopefully be resumed when I eventually calm down but I can’t guarantee that it will be soon.
For now, I think the songs below perfectly sum up how I feel.






To be honest at the moment  I feel like emigrating to the Dark Side of the Moon.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Policy of Truth


Do you mind if I rant?

I am totally sick of politics and politicians. They dominate my life and ruin my days. The news is full to bursting with these arses insulting my intelligence on a daily basis.

At the moment, there are two major political stories saturating the news at the moment. I wrote a post about each of them earlier this year.

The first is the American Election. The second is the EU Referendum.

I am absolutely sick of them both. What’s more I am sick of everybody involved, from the media themselves to the politicians involved, from the morons on each side who use anger and outrage as weapons to persuade us to the absolute downright lies and exaggeration that these people use to fool us into putting an X in a little box.

Let me start with the EU referendum, i.e. whether the UK leaves the European Union or not. This referendum affects us all in the United Kingdom and in my opinion this has been one of the dirtiest campaigns I have ever had the misfortune to witness.

Both sides have told blatant lies and issued dire warnings about what would happen if the other side wins. At first, it was funny seeing the depths that these odious people have plummeted to get us to support with their respective causes.

I have done some research myself and I know that they are lying – on BOTH sides.

Here are some examples of the lies and scaremongery we have had to endure (from both sides):

The EU is trying to achieve the same as Hitler – just using different methods.

Leaving the European Union could trigger World War 3.

If we stay in the European Union, migrates will come in and sexually assault our women.

Our economy will collapse if we leave the European Union.

I have avoided watching debates on the television because I hate the people involved and I know that there will be virtually no facts mentioned by either side and that fear-mongering will prevail as well as character assassinations on both sides.

And in America, the knives have been out for months in both camps as we have had to witness so-called political allies stabbing each other in the back. In the UK the Conservative Party is currently having a civil war of Europe but normally, during a general election, all differences are cast aside in favour of the party.

Yet in the United States, we have the Democrat candidates attacking each other and the Republican candidates doing the same thing. Worse, we have to endure it on British television.

I don’t give a shit about the American elections. I’m interested ultimately who wins but that’s about it. I do not want to see the war between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz or the political battles between Hilary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. It seems to take forever and then, just when you’ve had enough, the war escalates as the Democratic candidate takes on the Republican candidate.

My God – how do Americans manage to endure this long drawn out campaign?

I am sick of the European referendum.

I am sick of the American elections.

I am sick of David Cameron, Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and George Osborne.

I am sick of Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton.

I am sick of “Brexit”.

I am sick of “Bremain”.

I sick of “facts” that are not facts.

I am sick not hearing the truth.

I am sick of lies.

I am sick of constant television coverage.

I am sick of people falling out based on campaigns of fear.

I am sick of politicians.

I am sick of politics.

I want all of them off my television screens.

They may argue that this is the most important decision we will every make. If that’s the case, why the phark are they misleading everybody with constant lies and no real facts?

People cannot predict the future but politicians of all sides and all countries think they can. Not only do they preach lies to us, they use the future to sway us all by predicting what will happen if we don’t support them.

They make promises – they break them.

They predict the future – they fail.

They tell us facts – the facts are lies.

And I’m sick of it.

I think I need to become an anarchist.

Anyway the best way to finish off a rant is with a little heavy metal, which is quite apt!



I'm glad that's off my chest. Thanks for listening.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Mr Angry


Everybody has a moment when they become angry. I know I do and I’ve seen normally mild mannered individuals succumb to the red mist and explode in a flash of rage. Usually this is a rare occurrence.

However, the are some people who seem to spend their entire day in a perpetual state of fury, never resting from their wrath until they close their eyes to sleep, whereupon I’ll wager their dreams also involve stomping around shouting and screaming at every poor figment of their imagination.

I like to refer to people like this as Mr Angry or, in the case of ladies, Ms Angry. Let’s not forget that such illogical behaviour transcends gender.

I have worked with such people in the past. We all know a Mr Angry.

Mr Angry fails to control his temper and has a short fuse and the only reason he seems to be calm is because he is waiting for a random person to speak to him so that he can explode in rage.

Mr Angry is usually a bully who thinks that bellowing at people will somehow force them to behave in the way that Mr Angry wants.

Mr Angry also explodes when something trivial annoys him – like this man:



Personally, I hate being angry because ultimately that is undoubtedly a low point. It is a rare event, dear reader, and when I am possessed by rage, my mind isn’t clear and I am prone to say things that I will later regret. I am sure this is the same for everybody.

When this happens to me, I simply walk away from the target of my wrath as soon as I can. The symptoms can actually be physical – increased heart rate, anxiety, depression and high blood pressure are just some of them.

Some people may argue that it is sometimes beneficial to become angry in order to “let off steam” and while that may be true for the occasional hissy fit, I think that if you are constantly angry it can’t actually be that good for you.

Therefore I avoid it when I can – and if I can’t I simply run away from the source of my anger.

Okay, regular readers may say; “But hang on! You often rant and rave about things on this very blog!”

Yes, that is true, but it is a technique that I have honed, certainly over the past few years. Anger is pointless but the ability to “let off steam” on a blog allows me to vent my spleen in a controlled way without the adverse reactions associated with a full blown Incredible Hulk moment. And I enjoy it because I can inject a little humour into the mix.

This is also what I do at work; I strive to “let off steam” in a fun way, which allows people to laugh at me. It’s entertainment in a way.

People who know me really well consider me to be very laid back and this is the truth of the matter. I rarely genuinely lose control.

Yet I have seen people who thrive on this anger, maybe because they have had some success in the past as a result of it.

Here’s an example.

Many years ago, I was working in an edible oil production plant. We had supplied a process management computer system to the company and we were testing it in real time. I had heard of a man whom I shall refer to as Mr Banner (in a similar way to the Hulk) and that he was prone to moments of rage.

Yet whenever I had met him, he has been as nice as any person I had worked with. One day, we were running a test and something went slightly wrong.

We were all trying to find the problem and it was either a computer glitch or a problem with the equipment itself. We were in a control room above the equipment and we had to wear all the safety gear including hard hats and goggles to satisfy the Health and Safety police.

 I looked at the computer screen and after about five minutes of watching what was going wrong, I turned to the guys in the room and told them that I thought I knew what the problem was. We had a test system downstairs and I knew that I could confirm my hypothesis on that machine and actually fix the issue. I said, “Give me ten minutes.”

Now everybody in the room seemed to accept this – apart from Mr Banner. He glared at me and then he glared at each of the other guys in the room in turn.  Then, in a true Hulk moment, he pulled off his hard hat and screamed:

 “PPPPPPPPHHHHHHHAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRKKKKKKKKKK!!!!!”

He hurled his hard hat at the floor and it bounced up with a noise that sounded like a firecracker. His face turned bright red and everybody in the room backed away from him. I stood there open mouthed in shock.

He walked to his hat, picked it up and I could see his inner struggle. I expected him to calm down but he didn’t! Instead, he picked it up again and hurled it across the room at the wall. I was expecting him to turn green but instead his face darkened to a weird crimson colour.

That was my cue.

I turned to the guy next to me who was also goggling in shock and said “I’m off to the test system!”

I left the room and went downstairs shaking my head in disbelief and half expecting Mr Banner to follow me. There was no way I was going to tolerate that kind of behaviour.

Thankfully, I was not followed.

Twenty minutes later, I had found the problem and returned to the control room with the fix. The rest of the day was fine and by then Mr Banner had returned to his normal calm self. I received no words of thanks and he behaved as if the episode had not happened.

What scares me about such behaviour is that it is unwarranted and also the perpetrator thinks that his antics will force people to bend to his will.

However, what makes me laugh about Mr Angry is the irrationality of it all and, sometimes, I have to walk away when I see Mr Angry in full flow, in case I burst out laughing and enrage him further.

Like in this video:



My advice to Mr and Ms Angry is to take a deep breath and walk away. That’s what I do – it works for me – unless Piers Morgan is on the TV.

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Mr Mildly Obsessive


I’ve just returned from what seems to be becoming my annual business trip to China and this particular trip made me realise something about myself that I have suspected for a while.

I am a mild sufferer of OCD or Obsessive Compusive Disorder.

I looked up the definition of OCD to get a handle on what it actually means and I found this:

“An obsession is an unwanted and unpleasant thought, image or urge that repeatedly enters a person's mind, causing feelings of anxiety, disgust or unease.”

It’s something that I think is getting worse as I get older.

Here’s an example.

Yesterday, I left my hotel room in Shanghai for the final time and checked out at reception. I jumped into the shuttle bus to take me to the airport and then had a wild thought that I had left my flight boarding pass in my room and my passport in the room safe. These were the two things that would enable me to get home and, if my worst fears were true, would result in my having to return to the hotel making me potentially miss my flight. I actually panicked and opened my rucksack to double check that I had the required documents.

The truth is I did have them – of course I bloody well had them!

Also, because I am obsessed with the fear of being so late that I would miss the flight, I had checked out so early that I could have easily made the return trip to the hotel (possibly twice) and still had plenty of time to catch the flight.

And the stupid thing is that in the shuttle bus, I checked my passport and boarding passes three times! THREE BLOODY TIMES!

I actually scolded myself the final time, saying rather loudly "You bloody idiot!” which brought a stare of disapproval from another passenger who thought I was referring to him.

Worse, when I got to the airport, I was so early that I had to wait for the check in desks to open. When I finally got through security, I checked my documents a further few times even though I knew that they were there.

I’m the same when I leave the house, generally. I am convinced that there is a window left open, a door left unlocked or a burglar alarm still turned off and on one or two occasions, I have actually returned to the house to double check.

I blame two things for the evolution of this embarrassing peculiarity.

The first thing is my terrible memory. As I get older, I forget things. Everybody my age says the same thing. I look at a person I haven’t seen for a while and say to myself:

 “What the bloody hell is that guy’s name???”

I suffer from all of the typical age-related memory-loss features, such as:

Walking into a room and having no idea why I went there.

Forgetting where I put things. This is particularly frustrating and I have developed a regime to counteract this infuriating problem. I always put things in the same place. However, Mrs PM sometimes decides to have a “tidy up” and moves them, which leads to me turning the house upside down looking for things, convinced that I have lost them.

Such things are affectionately called “senior moments” and many people I know around my age and older complain about this.

The second thing I have to blame is my beloved Mrs PM.  She is the love of my life but she is one of the most scatter-brained people I have ever met. For example, she has driven all the way to work and left her laptop at home. That wouldn’t be so bad if the journey wasn’t about twenty miles, usually through heavy rush hour traffic. She has also left her laptop at work when she has to do some work at home and had to make the journey back. You may think that this is okay if it’s just a one-off but it isn’t; she has done it several times.

Also, I have come home and found windows open and doors unlocked. I find myself being OCD for her too.

“Have you got your laptop?”

“Where are your keys?” 

She also drifts away into her own little world and on occasion has set off for a journey for the shops only to drift into what she and I both call “Mrs PM World” and find herself on her way to work.

This is something that she has had to put up with most of her life but, unlike me, she doesn’t beat herself up about it.

“I know,” she’ll say with a laugh. “It was another Mrs PM moment.”

When such things happen to me, I am furious with myself, which is why my evolving OCD has manifested itself to protect me against my own memory.

I also make lists of things to take with me on holiday and trips generally to make sure that I don’t infuriate myself with my poor memory. And Mrs PM does the same, so it helps her although she has still managed to become a victim of her herself. For example, no list could have stopped her from leaving a coat in Manchester airport or travelling all the way to Alaska, one of the coldest places in America, having left her winter coat hanging up in the bedroom next to her suitcase!

She has improved, mainly due to my own OCD. As she says, I have saved her on numerous occasions with just a couple of simple questions.

I’d rather make sure that everything is fine and make sure that I don’t have to enrage myself with my own shortcomings.

Perhaps mild OCD is a good thing.

I just hope that I remember to post this all on my blog.

At least my daily readership will go up as a result, even if it is only me making sure, four or five times today, that I submitted the post.

Oh crap – maybe that’s why most of my hits come from Manchester!

Sunday, 15 May 2016

The Alternative Eurovision Song Contest


Last night I watched a truly European phenomenon on my telly box; The Eurovision Song Contest. This year, the competition was broadcast throughout the world for the first time, including China and the United States.

So now the whole world knows that the whole of Europe is absolutely crazy!

I am guilty because this competition, now in its 61st year, is an annual spectacle which is a mixture of pomp and utter madness. Some of the songs are absolutely crazy and, to be honest, absolutely dreadful.

Last night was no exception. I watched the show laughing my head off at the over the top theatrics and marvelled at how poor the continent’s taste in music actually is. Even the United Kingdom’s effort was dreadful and, quite rightly, finished a poor 24th out of 26 songs.

One or two, vaguely interested me but that is about it.

Even Australia had an entry. Why? I don’t know; they were guests last year for the 60th anniversary but why they were in it this year is beyond me. Not that I have anything against Australia – the country is not in Europe so therefore should not take part.

Worse, what amazes me is that all of the nations taking part have artists that can produce genuinely fine music in most genres – ourselves included. Yet we have to endure pop songs, weird songs and absolutely dreadful songs from all nations.

Yet, perversely, I am drawn to it because, in my opinion it is so bad that it is brilliant. Mrs PM and I watched the show picking our favourites (which was a massive struggle for me because they were all awful) only to be disappointed at the end when the rest of Europe (and Australia) voted a dreadful Ukrainian song as the winner.

I may sound like a dreadful bore and a man who criticizes music just for a rant but I can’t help it – and I am certain that most people think the same way (they just won’t admit it).

Anyway, I read a blog post recently that proposed a new slant on Eurovision by selecting Heavy Metal songs from each of the countries. The author is Big D at Assorted Thoughts From An Unsorted Mind and I have decided to plagiarise his idea, except for one subtle difference. I am going to pick songs from my own collection which may or may not be rock songs.

Without further ado, here is my alternative Eurovision Song Contest – limited to 10 songs, rather than the 26 of the original competition (my God – we’d be here all night!).

If you fancy it, take your pick and let me know your favourite. One thing I can guarantee you – there are no singing grannies from Russia, no bearded women from Austria and no bad songs!

Poland

I have a beautiful progressive rock song for you to start with from Poland. The band is called Riverside and the song is called Found (The Unexpected Flaw of Searching).



France

I really like Air, an electronic duo from France who produce very melodic relaxing pop songs. This beautiful song called Redhead Girl is typical of the band.



The Netherlands

Within Temptation are one of two symphonic metal bands I like from Holland. Don’t be put off by the label “metal” because this song, Edge of the World, is a beautiful orchestral piece that would win Eurovision – of that I have no doubt.



Ireland

If it’s Ireland it can only be Enya. Here is a beautiful relaxing song called Afer Ventus– which bizarrely is sung in Latin.



Sweden

Livening things up a bit with the Swedish entry, we have The Hives. If at first you don’t succeed Try It Again.



Norway

You have almost certainly heard of A-ha. I was a big fan of the band because they wrote great pop songs. Minor Earth Major Sky is a later song after their early to mid-1980’s peak.



Finland

Nightwish are another symphonic metal band but veer into the realms of progressive rock by flirting with different styles. The Islander is a almost a folk song.



Belgium/Australia

Gotye was born in Belgium but now lives in Australia so I am killing two birds with one stone with this song. You will have heard it before – a great pop song called Somebody That I Used To Know.



Germany 

Mein Land is a fun song from German industrial band Rammstein, which believe it or not is not as heavy as their usual numbers. The video is a little naughty and turns into mayhem at the end. It would do well at Eurovision I think.



United Kingdom

For the UK it has to be a song from my current favourite British artist, Steven Wilson. There are so many good songs but here is an upbeat song from his current album called Happiness III.



And Finally…

Over to you, dear reader.

If you feel like telling me which one you would vote for, feel free.

Alternatively, if you watched Eurovision this weekend - did you actually like any of the songs?

Personally I would vote for all of them because in my opinion, they are all better than anything Eurovision has offered (well since Abba and Lordi won it anyway).


Friday, 13 May 2016

Stress Relief


Over the years I have been a victim of stress sometimes and while I still occasionally confront the demon stress-monster, these days I can usually vanquish him with casual and relaxing punch in the face.
Most of my stress comes from my job, something I think is true the world over. It amazes me that we as a society can allow ourselves to wind ourselves up at work to the point where it actually causes physical symptoms. You often feel like you really have been in a fight with a monster.
Something like this happened to me about seventeen years ago and I vowed that I would declare war on the beast that threatens to destabilize my life. These days we spar intermittently with me almost always coming out on top.
I have a few techniques that work for me to deal with stress. Some are obvious, others may seem rather unorthodox. They work for me and usually manage to keep me in control of the demonic beast at both a professional and a personal level. Here they are:
Hypnosis
Before you slap a label on me as a crackpot, let me explain. In a previous post, I started out attacking hypnotism as a mystical load of old bollocks for gullible people. That is until I tried it, in the name of research. 
What I discovered was that if you lie back in a darkened room and listen to a hypnosis tape for a while, you actually do start to de-stress. I would never pay money to go for hypnotherapy and on a couple of occasions I have tried it to relax with a lot of success. Try it - YouTube is full of them.
I am still sceptical about it – particularly when people start talking about past life regression and nonsense like that. I can’t imagine for a second that I have lived before, let alone suddenly find that under a hypnotic trance that I weirdly have access to these past lives. That is plain ridiculous.
Beer With Friends
Some foreigners may think that the British tradition of sitting in a pub with friends and/or family at the end of a hard work is a bit strange. The truth is that there is no better way of unwinding with good company, good ale and a bellyful of laughs. The stress monster is never invited to such shindigs.
Listen To Chill Out Music
Music is very therapeutic and it is a very important part of my life. There are numerous songs in my collection that are gentle, peaceful and soothing and usually invoke a special memory like lying on a beach in the sun with the waves kissing the beach and Mrs PM next to me as we sip a cold drink. 
Here is an example of a stress melter:



Playing With Cats

I have three cats, all of which have different personalities. They are getting on a bit at the moment yet I can entertain myself with each one of them, either gently stroking them, or baiting them with string, toy mice or my own hand (which is risky, particularly with the hellcat who has the capability and the will to induce more stress; having to go to hospital can be quite stressful itself).

Ask Yourself “What’s the worst that can happen?”

I am afraid of public speaking and the first time I had to really face my fear was when I was asked to travel to America to give a course. Beforehand, I spent about a month beating myself up about it to the point where I actually decided that I was going to just refuse to go. However, I am professional and I decided to take the bull by the horns and go for it. I asked myself “What is the worst that can happen?” and I answered my own question. Nothing, even the sack, would matter – I would bounce back even from that. In the end, I was nervous but I completed the course. And since then I have given courses in Russia, Switzerland, China and South Africa. I still hate it it but I don’t allow myself to get stressed about it.

Go for a Long Walk

My days are generally split into two when working. I endure the morning period and then at around 12:30, I pick up my iPod, leave the building and embark upon a walk of just over two miles with my music as a soundtrack. Not only does this get me away from my desk, it also allows me free thinking time where I can drift into my own imagination and even reignite my creativity. And of course, my mind wonders away from the pressure of work for half an hour or so.

Go on Holiday

Whenever work starts to grind me down, I look at my calendar and remind myself of my travel plans. Sadly, I don’t get enough holiday to travel anywhere near as much as I want to, which is frustrating but at the same time makes the trips I take very special. At the moment, I have two holidays to Europe booked and a weekend break next week in Barcelona. The stress is fading just thinking about it.

Play a Video Game

You may think that I am a little too old to indulge in childish pursuits such as playing games on a console. And the truth is that I am. Yet when I decide to pick up the joystick and play a football game or become a nightmarish villain in a surreal city or even fight zombies and monsters in a scary labyrinth, my imagination runs amok and once again I have a victory over worries and tension.

Read and Write

I may not be a good writer, but putting down my thoughts on paper is a fantastic way of winding down. Whenever I put myself at the mercy of my imagination, I usually have fun, even if it’s writing a simple blog post, a plan for one of the many books in my head or just my thoughts. Whether anybody reads my words is totally irrelevant – it’s great to just get them down.

Alternatively, there are few things more enjoyable than immersing yourself in a decent book. Stories are wonderful things and I always imagine myself as the constant companion of the heroes of the story, watching them as they struggle, lose and ultimately triumph (though not always). It’s a great way to forget about your own woes.

Listen to Hard and Heavy Rock Music

This may sound a bit weird, but when I allow myself to totally succumb to stress, which does happen, albeit infrequently these days, I simply blast away the negativity with a good dose of noise. It may seem wrong to unleash loud and heavy music when in a mood like that but for me at least it totally works. At the end of a heavy tune I feel a lot better – something like this:



R.I.P Lemmy

Spend Time With Family

Letting off steam to Mrs PM and family generally can be therapeutic because ultimately they will listen to you and offer words of encouragement. Of course, simply chilling out with family is equally good. There are few things I like better than spending time with Mrs PM and/or my two lads.

And Finally …

Over to you, dear reader.

How do you cope with stress?

What techniques have you for winding down and beating back the stress demon?