Saturday, 25 March 2017

Inside My Head

I am weird.

What do you mean:“I know”?

No – really – I am. The persona you see on this blog is that of a confident arse who loves to be the centre of attention, happily dealing with all the shit that is hurled in his direction, beating it aside with a big stick while saying:

 “Is that all you’ve got? Come on – gimme some more.”

The reality is something slightly different. No – come on, Dave, let’s be honest  - the reality is totally different.

Deep inside me there is an extrovert buried alive within all of the neuroses that I keep hidden from public view. The extrovert does manage to free himself every now again surfacing on this blog far more than he does in real life.

The reality of the situation is that the introvert is more prevalent, as is the shy monster.

I therefore consider myself to be an introvert with extrovert tendencies and a streak of shyness.

In my head, the extrovert and the introvert are locked in an eternal battle for domination, with the introvert being the dominant species. The shy monster is a free radical that tips the balance in the favour of one or the other depending on many other factors such as stress, depression, euphoria, alcohol, grumpiness, tiredness etc. and with all of my fears and shortcomings also joining in the melee alongside my ego, you can imagine that it gets pretty messy in my head.

Hence the reason why I think I am weird.

My daily mood, and the way people see me on a day to day basis, is governed by one of the main two protagonists and how they have fared in their latest internal conflict.

The introvert may have hurled a paranoia bomb at the extrovert and rendered him useless, turning me into a neurotic mess.

The extrovert might have exploded a rapture grenade in the faces of the shy monster and the introvert and turned me into a rampant livewire.

I can do nothing about it.

Sometimes I wake up full of the joys of spring and attack my day with a huge grin on my face and a deep desire to run up to the nearest person and inflict myself upon them.

Can you imagine a gawking loon with mad hair grinning at you with a grotesque grin on his face?

Other days, my neuroses dominate and I find myself wanting to bask in my own weirdness – like now as I write this semi-serious character assassination of myself.

Deep down we’ve all got these beasts roaming around in our minds. I know a rampant extrovert and his neuroses surface when he finds himself on his own or when he’s not the centre of attention. There is not a hint of shyness in his body. However, he sometimes struggles at social events where everyone is focussing on somebody else – for example at a wedding, when he is upstaged by the bride and groom.

He wants to shout “Look at me! Look at me! ME! ME! ME! I’M OVER HERE!!!!!” but he can’t.

Bizarrely the introvert feels slightly more comfortable in those situations. I think everybody needs some “me” time where they are on their own and can bask in their own company. I also know at least one fellow introvert and people like that generally sometimes expose themselves to social gatherings where they are surrounded by people. The difference is that they effectively “show their face” for a short while, turning up late and leaving early so that they can spend time alone later.

I’m not that bad. I love social gatherings with friends and, sometimes I love being the centre of attention – albeit briefly – before returning home later to enjoy my own company.

Note – when I say “my own company” I really mean “with Mrs PM” because she is the only person I allow into my own little world. My introvert nature includes her and I am totally happy spending my “me” time with her by my side.

That said, I can also enjoy total isolation, like now, as I type this post with only Devin Townsend’s music and a sleeping fat cat for company.

The one thing I have confused in the past are introversion and shyness. I used to tell people that I was an introvert when really I meant that I was shy. It’s only when I was at university that I discovered the difference between the two thanks to somebody who explained that liking your own company isn’t shyness.

I don’t think introversion can be beaten. Shyness can – and I am in a position now where I have almost conquered this little beast. Sadly, when I need to be alone, shyness becomes prevalent again and I am less willing to engage with new people because I want to be alone.

If you are shy, the best thing you can do is just talk to people. As uncomfortable as that sounds, believe me it works. The way I see it is that people will judge you whether you like it or not. Not every stranger is a hostile person and most people will engage. Moreover, that person may be as shy as you.

In my opinion, if a person doesn’t like me, it’s their loss because ultimately I consider myself to be a nice guy. The truth is that the vast majority of strangers are also nice people and will love talking to you. If I am feeling confident and able to talk to a stranger, I find that they will almost always talk back.

Certainly if they are an extrovert, the chances are you won’t be able to shut them up.

In conclusion, I don’t know whether having a dominant introvert beast in my head is a good thing or not. I’m certainly very happy as an introvert but I also love it when the extrovert pops up and allows me to take on the world.

Finally, dear reader, over to you.

Are you an extrovert or an introvert? Or a bit of both?

Are you shy or can you talk to anybody? 

Friday, 24 March 2017

A Strange Family

Some people might consider me to be a bit strange but as far as I know my family history is a normal one. Of course, that might not be true and I may uncover some weirdness in my ancestors when I eventually get around to tracing my genealogy.

However, I doubt I will find anything as odd as the family that supposedly rule our country – the Royal Family.

People in Britain, either love them or loathe them. I’m indifferent to them if I’m honest.

Given our history, I find them fascinating in their eccentricity. Here are some odd things perhaps you never knew about the Queen and her clan.

Judge for yourself which one is the oddest.

(1) The Royal Family don’t have surnames. The Queen’s name is Elizabeth II and while she is supposed to belong to the House of Windsor, apparently nobody calls her Elizabeth Mary Alexandra Windsor.  When Kate Middleton married Prince William, she lost her surname (how careless) and became “Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge”.

(2) The Queen has won thousands of awards. Apparently Elizabeth has been awarded well over 380,000 honorary awards – for doing what I don’t know. I would imagine that smiling isn’t one of them because these days we rarely see her smile.

(3) It is illegal for anyone of her subjects to stand within 100 yards of the Queen when not wearing socks. I would love to see the powers that be enforce this law. Also, if you misuse a postage stamp containing the image of the Queen, it is considered an act of treason. I suspect this is why the Post Office has now made stamps sticky enough to apply to the envelope without licking it. Thank God for that! That sticky stuff on the back of stamps tastes disgusting.

(4) King Charles II decreed that there must be at least six ravens in the Tower of London because, he thought, that if they fly away then the monarchy will implode and fail and Britain will collapse in a heap of raven shit. I think politicians are doing a good job of trying to break Britain without these bloody ravens – but we won’t descend into politics at this stage.

(5) The Queen is the Duke of Lancaster, rather than Duchess. This is because Queen Victoria regarded a Duke as superior to a Duchess therefore gave herself (and all of those who would follow her on the throne) that masculine title.

(6) The Queen has two birthdays – her actual birthday in April and a made up (and more traditional one) in June. Lucky her!

(7) The Queen is not legally obliged to have a passport or driving license. She is the most travelled person in Britain, I guess and I have seen photos of her behind the wheel. I wonder who taught her to drive. I imagine that he was forced to pass her even if she was a terrible driver.

(8) It is illegal to die in any Royal building. That means the Tower of London isn’t a Royal building because Henry VIII had an absolutely amazing time butchering people there by proxy. It does make me wonder about what would happen were an MP to die in the Houses of Parliament. What can they do to him? Give him a jail sentence?

(9) The Queen no longer has any real power. These days that is up to the government or as she refers to it “my government”. When we go to war it is the Prime Minister who declares this – not the Queen. She has no say on the matter.

(10) The Queen owns all swans on the River Thames. These swans are actually marked with a ring. Moreover she owns all swans in open water in the UK – but perhaps it’s too difficult and dangerous to catch the nasty hissing buggers. Even more strangely she owns all sturgeons, dolphins and whales in British waters. So if a whale pops into our waters on its way to a holiday somewhere else, for that brief period of time, it is the Queen’s pet.

(11) Apparently the Queen can fire the entire Australian government. I doubt whether this is still true but she must have been sorely tempted to exercise this right when Tony Abbott was the man in charge down under. Sorry – shouldn’t do politics!

(12) The Queen is immune from prosecution. I suspect if she were to beat up Piers Morgan in a fit of rage (who wouldn’t want to do that?) she might be forced to abdicate. If she did that she would go up in my estimation.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, folks. I’m sure if we delve deeper we can uncover even more weirdness and eccentricity.

I need to be careful though – as one of her “loyal subjects” I might end up in the Tower of London for this post.

 I’ll have to learn how to cook raven pie!

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Rise of the Alternative Fact

In the good old days, a fact was a fact. A fact could walk down the street with its head held high and tell everyone around that it was the truth.

In recent times, however, facts are being challenged by something that is getting stronger every single day.

We are led to believe that facts are no longer facts. We are told that the facts we know and love are now lies.

Never before has a simple fact been persecuted so much. Never before have so many people declared war on the fact, promoting lies and half-truths as the new fact and even giving these evil pretenders to the throne a new moniker – the “alternative fact”.

So what is an “alternative fact”?

Put simply, it is a lie - nothing more; nothing less. Just because it has the word "fact" in its name, doesn't make it the truth.

These “alternative facts” are sadly now becoming the norm and people are ignoring real facts in favour of these imposters because it helps them get ahead.

Such people believe that by repeating the “alternative fact” over and over again, people will actually start to believe them. The real facts do not support their arguments or views – therefore they have to invent “alternative facts” and try to convince people that their weird view of the world is true.

Here are some “alternative facts” that have crossed my radar in recent times.

No planes hit the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001.

We all saw what happened. We all saw at least one aircraft fly directly into the building on that fateful day. Yet some people actually believe that the government or some shady evil organisation used digital composting to fool us all into believing that the aircraft hit the building – even on the amateur footage from the streets below.

The world is flat. 

I’ve actually written about this preposterous notion before. You can read about it here.

Scientology is a religion.

One day I will write a post about Scientology – or maybe a book.

Donald Trump’s inauguration as President was the most attended ever.

Sorry – it’s oompa loompa time again. This is one of many "alternative facts" we will see in the next four years. The photos prove it for goodness sake.

They are all nonsense.

Mind you, this got me thinking. I have recently come across a few so-called facts that are not really facts at all but are universally held as truth by most of us. People, including myself, have taken them as gospel for years and years - but they are all lies.

I apologise, dear reader, because I am about to shatter some illusions. The following “facts” are false:

When you flush a toilet in Australia, the water rotates in the opposite direction to that of a toilet flushed in the UK.

Incorrect! The water rotates in the same direction on both sides of our planet.

A Black Hole is a hole in space. 

Wrong! It is a hugely dense object with a massive gravitational pull.

We only use 10% of our brains.

Nonsense! We actually use all of our brain at various points in a typical day.

Electrons orbit around the nucleus of an atom.

Garbage! When I took A-Level chemistry, my teacher told me that most of the stuff we had learned for the past five years was simplified or untrue. Electrons are actually clouds of negative charge that ripple and flow around the nucleus.

Caffeine dehydrates you.

Rubbish! The dehydrating effects of caffeine are more than balanced by the water that accompanies it.

Bulls hate the colour red.

Bullshit! In fact bulls are probably infuriated by the cape because it is the thing that is moving the most.

There is no gravity in space.

Horsecrap! Gravity is everywhere, even in the void of our solar system. What do you think keeps our planet in orbit around the sun?

Adam and Eve ate an apple from God’s forbidden tree.

Blithering baloney! The bible, if that is to be believed, doesn’t mention apples at all; it simply states that they ate the “fruit” of the tree. Probably a pear, actually – because they are foul and disgusting.

Goldfish have a three second memory.

Poppycock! Apparently the memory of a goldfish lasts for a couple of months (mind you – I do wonder how they know this!).

Bagpipes are Scottish!

McBullshit! I particularly like this one – these wailing dirge machines originated in the Middle East.

Ninjas wore black.

Drivel! A true ninja has to blend in. If he or she wears a black ninja costume in the centre of Manchester, he is likely to attract too much attention. Ninjas really wear everyday clothes to blend in so they can attack you when you least expect it.

So you see, dear reader, “alternative facts” are on the rise especially given recent political events.

And I have one last “alternative fact” that will blow your mind.

I am not plastic, nor am I really a Mancunian (though I have lived in Manchester for over 30 years),

My name is Dave, though.

And that's a fact.

Saturday, 11 March 2017


At the start of this year, my company tried to inflict a New Year’s resolution on all of us. Some people reacted badly - others embraced it.

I was somewhere in between and I don’t blame them. After all, a healthy and happy work force is a good work force.

The Managing Director tasked HR with encouraging us all to be healthier in 2017 in four ways – diet, physical health, mind and finance (although finance was a little bit weird in my opinion).

For diet, we were encouraged to eat healthily and they even provided fruit every Monday and brought in nutritionists to chat to anybody that was interested about the benefits of eating good stuff. I wasn’t interested in this because I actually eat very healthily, in my opinion (apart from the odd burger, full English and beer or two).

For finance, we were encouraged to look after our cash and assets with a newsletter pointing out the long term benefits of savings, spending wisely and generally not blowing all of your cash on stupid things. Again, I wasn’t interested because I think that myself and Mrs PM are okay at the moment. Besides, if they want to improve my financial well-being they can bloody well give me a massive pay increase for having to endure some of the shit I have to endure.

For health, various people who exercise were asked to give seminars about their chosen discipline, including kayaking, rock climbing, marathon running and even pole-dancing. Groups of people clubbed together and took on a challenge of trying to walk in excess of 10.000 steps a day, competing against each other for fun. I walk two and a quarter miles every lunchtime of every working day and I am proud to say that I think I walk the most during a working day. HR were very interested in this and asked me to take a group of people on my walk at lunchtime.

I politely refused. Why?

Because the whole point of my going for a walk is to escape work. I pound the streets around my office with tiny little jukebox blasting out pop, rock and heavy metal, to allow me to enter the zone of contemplation and drift into my own little world, expunging, temporarily at least, any work related issues that may induce stress. It works for me and the last thing I want is a group of people bitching about work to further ruin my day.

However, the final topic – the mind – intrigued me.

HR arranged a seminar, inviting a woman to tell us all about mindfulness. This was the only seminar I attended. I am fascinated with the power of the mind and the ability and capability of certain people to use their mind to escape and control other physical attributes. Having been a victim of stress many years ago, and having delved recently into things like hypnosis (for fun initially) I was keen to open my mind to new techniques to support my positive outlook this year.

When I started looking at hypnosis, my purpose was to write a mocking blog post about how stupid people were if they thought that listening to somebody appeal to their subconscious mind would in any way help them to escape their vices, or change their behaviour. When I actually tried it, I was amazed that the effect of being hypnotised can actually vaguely work. Not that I do this now, of course, but I no longer mock those who believe in at as an alternative therapy.

The same principle applies to mindfulness, which is a similar concept. Basically, mindfulness is a form of meditation. The woman who presented the seminar gave us an overview of mindfulness and told us that she had actually used it to help her get through a major health scare a few years ago. She had been diagnosed with cancer and thankfully she is now fully fit again. To help support her mind during those trying times, she used meditation techniques and this helped her cope.

Again, I had a healthy scepticism about it but opened my mind to the possibilities. It wasn’t until we actually tried meditating that I was surprised. She asked us to sit up straight, focus on our breathing and allow our minds to wander, quelling any other thoughts and allowing our minds to settle and drift. There were about twelve of us in the room and I suddenly found myself just listening to her as she guided us through thinking about our own bodies. What struck me was the clock in the room. That may sound weird but I have been in that room many times and never sensed the clock. All I could hear was the gentle ticking. After a few minutes, she spoke again and asked us how we felt. It was almost like being hypnotised and I actually felt really good.

Mindfulness had taken me to the same zone that I enter when walking at lunchtime. It was the same as listening to a favourite song and allowing the gentle melody to take you on a journey through your own imagination.

I actually loved it.

And you are reading the words of a man who, in the past, has taken such things with a pinch of salt and only feigned interest when using it as ammunition to mock people on a medium such as this.

Actually, the key thing is that you don’t have to go away and hide to give this a go – and you can achieve a calmer demeanour in as little as two minutes.

There was a little bit of Buddhist nonsense attached to it, which I have dismissed, but the principle is sound and I would recommend giving it a go, particularly when news about Brexit or Donald Trump appears on your telly box.