Thursday 31 December 2009

The Sinner

I am not looking forward to dying.

Apart from the obvious pain involved I think that I might just be in a bit of trouble when I finally meet my maker. Why? Because I have sinned.

Those of you who are atheists will almost certainly say:

“You are a stupid idiot. When you die, you cease to be. Remember that time before you were born? You can’t can you. Why? I’ll tell you why. You simply didn’t exist. And that is exactly what will happen when you shuffle off this mortal coil. You will cease to exist. Sinning is irrelevant.”

Those of you who are religious in any way will probably say:

“Why? What have you done? Surely it can’t be that bad. God will forgive you.”

I am a Roman Catholic. When I say “am” I really mean “was baptised”. I stopped going to Mass when I was sixteen and have only popped back for weddings and funerals.

I think the reason I did so was because I found it all terribly boring. When I used to go to church, the main High Mass on Sunday was at 11 o’clock and sometimes in Latin. I studied Latin at school but to sit there for an hour and a half listening to “Credo in unum Deum, patrem omnipotentem …” sung out of tune by an old priest who was out of touch with my youthful exuberance was just too much.

I almost fell out with my mother because of my rebelliousness.

Roman Catholics will probably tell me that I should renew my faith and go back to church to have my sins forgiven. I can imagine sitting there in confession:

“Bless me father for I have sinned. It is 32 years since my last confession. I hope you have a month or three to spare because boy have I got some stories to tell you.”

I can honestly say that I won’t do that. If Catholics are to be believed then I when I die I will face my maker who will sentence me to a stint in Purgatory where I will be cleansed of my sins with pain and fire.

In fact, as my soul is being cleansed in the punishment camps of Purgatory, somebody will probably read this blog post to me and tell me that I have sinned simply by writing it. The fact that I haven’t attended Mass for so long and have actually mocked my religion and made fun of priests will undoubtedly lead to a lengthier sentence.

But have I really sinned?

Let’s take a look at the seven deadly sins and see how I have fared.


What is pride?

Pride is extreme self believe or vanity or self obsession. From a religious perspective, pride is really focussing on yourself rather than God. Purists will suggest for example that if you pursue knowledge for the benefit of God or others then you are doing fine. However, if you learn for your own benefit only, to basically say that you are better than others then I’m afraid you are on the slippery slope to committing this deadly sin.

The sin of pride is a particular grey area for me and I personally believe that deep down every single person is guilty of it – myself included. I write this blog for example so that people can read it and be entertained or learn something. However, I also write it for myself because I want to practice my writing techniques so that, in an ideal world, I will write a book and obtain steaming great piles of cash and fame from being a successful writer. God doesn’t come into it. That’s why I am committing the sin of pride.

VERDICT: I’m stuffed on this one.


What is envy?

Envy is the dislike of somebody who has something you don’t have, for example a possession or a job. If a mate of mine were to win the lottery I would be happy for him but, for a moment at least, I would hate him for it. Why? Because he would be free and be able to cast aside the chains that bind him to the interminable rat race that I am so desperate to escape from myself.

And I cannot believe that there are people out there in the world who do not commit the sin of envy. I frequently hear people say “I envy you” but the fact that they come clean and say it to make the other person feel better doesn’t detract for a second from the fact that their opinion of that person plummets even if it is only for a second.

I envy people and I admit it. I don’t hate them permanently but I am jealous. I am jealous of successful authors. I am jealous of people who can afford the Ferrari that (once again) Father Christmas failed to bring me on his overloaded sleigh.

VERDICT: I’m screwed on this one.


What is gluttony?

Gluttony is the need to consume excessively. This post has come so close to Christmas that I am still smarting from the vast quantities of food that I have forced myself to eat. On Christmas Day I ate a dinner that was so huge there was snow on the peaks. I followed this up with mince pie and then chocolates. At the end of the day I was laid on the settee and couldn’t see my feet over my huge wobbling belly.

Next day I was relieved to see that my belly had shrunk somewhat but then it all started again when we travelled to Blackpool to visit Mrs PM’s dad.

Why did I eat so much? Because everybody else did. I am not the only one. Thankfully I am really quite slim which I could say is evidence that I have not committed the sin of gluttony. It is, however, poor evidence, because I know that I have been a greedy pig and will be again – and I’m not just talking about Christmas.

VERDICT: Dear oh dear! I think the jury will scream “Guilty, your honour” for that one.


What is lust?

Lust is the excessive desire for pleasures of the flesh.

This particular sin is just plain ridiculous. Since the age of around thirteen my body has been betraying me in this particular area and I simply couldn’t help it – I still can’t. I craved sex from that age. I am a man and testosterone floods through my body creating a chemical reaction that has visible side effects. It is only will power and self control that stops me and just about every male from wanting their wicked way with attractive women. Men are driven by lust. There is no use denying it. Women too can be driven by lust (or so I’ve been told).

Maybe the key word here is “excessive”.

One thing makes me laugh. When people get checked into clinics for “sex addiction” I think to myself “Crikey! I must be a sex addict too.” If the sex police had injected me with a truth serum when I was eighteen years old and asked me “What do you desire more than anything in the world?” I would have blurted out “SEX! SEX! SEX! SEX! SEX! SEX!”. They would have carted me off to the clinic to cure me of sex addiction alongside every single other eighteen year old man as well.

VERDICT: They are building the gallows for me now.


What is wrath?

Wrath or anger is a negative and potentially destructive emotion that inflicts every single human being on the planet – and most other creatures too.

There are quite a few things that make me angry. I am fairly laid back and on the rare occasions that anger overwhelms me, I try to control myself, mainly because I hate the consequences. That doesn’t mean that I will pick up the nearest blunt object and bludgeon the target of my wrath to within an inch of their lives. What I hate about anger are the arguments and the perpetuation of arguments.

When I am genuinely angry I tend to explode like a mini nuclear bomb and then get the hell out of there. Rather than letting anger take control of my body I allow a certain amount to erupt against the source of the anger (usually a tirade of abuse) and then I walk away and allow the rest to dissipate. In fact, I find that writing provides a great outlet. If I convert my wrath into vitriolic words, the anger flows out, enabling me to read about and process the source.

Others use different ways to get rid of their anger, some acceptable others totally unacceptable.

Every human being is different but the key thing here is that every human being gets angry and those that say they do not are liars.

VERDICT: I would be in the Tower of London now if Henry VIII was my judge.


What is greed?

Whereas gluttony is the desire to stuff huge quantities of food down your gullet, greed is the desire for material possessions. From a religious perspective the added caveat is that it is material gain for yourself while ignoring God and the spiritual realm.

We all want bigger and better things for ourselves. A lot of the time we want a bigger house, a bigger car, more money, a yacht and many other things that make our lives just that little bit easier. I have said, many times, that I want to win the lottery so that I can escape the rat race and live my dreams. I want to travel the world and write books about my exploits. Is that greed?

This is another sin that I think is a little nebulous. We all want material possessions – even priests.

VERDICT: The axe man draweth near.


What is sloth?

Sloth is the evasion of physical work. Moreover, from a religious perspective, it is the avoidance of spiritual work.

I am lazy by nature but I have a job which demands a lot of my time. When asked to do extra work I am usually willing to do so (to a limit) and have been praised for it.

Yet when it comes to chores around the house I am truly lazy. The only reason I do stuff is because the alternative is less desirable – an argument with Mrs PM.

VERDICT: I think the jury might be struggling with this one unless they look at spiritual sloth, in which case I am as guilty as a cat whose mouth and whiskers are covered in cream.

Well, dear reader, it looks as if I am going to be sentenced to a little fire and brimstone when my time on this little blue planet is over. A stint in Purgatory seems inevitable. I won’t really be able to argue because there are too many examples from my life to let me off the hook.

The good news is that I think I will be in good company because I reckon that most if not all of the human race will be by my side as I am purged of my sins.

My only hope is that people like Jeremy Kyle or Piers Morgan are next to me so that I can see the smug grins wiped off their faces as we all suffer.

Monday 28 December 2009

Goodbye 2009

Another year is almost over – they seem to be flying away now – so I thought I would shamelessly steal yet another meme relating to my nefarious activities in the past 12 months. I stole it from a lady in Delaware who happens to be the girlfriend of a friend of mine (read her answers here) and I don’t feel guilty one little bit (because she stole it too).

Again, if you feel like stealing the meme – feel free. I don’t care.

1. What did you do in 2009 that you'd never done before?

I visited Boston and Cape Cod in the United States of America.

I opened a twitter account and started tweeting.

I saw AC/DC, Megadeth and Judas Priest for the first time and discovered the glorious progressive rock giants Dream Theater

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Sort of. I took up photography and created a new photo blog called The Plastic Mancunian’s Eye. The fact that the blog still exists and I have posted 78 photographs is evidence that I actually kept it up. However, I prefer to think of photography as a hobby rather than a resolution simply because a resolution is something that is meant to improve yourself in some weird way like:

I will wash my clothes more often because people are beginning to complain about the stench.

I will stop posting my toe nail clippings to random people.

I will stop stalking Megan Fox (because I don’t want to go to prison).

For 2010 and the new decade, I will continue waging war against procrastination and try to improve myself in some weird way – as a hobby (not a resolution).

3. How will you be spending New Year's Eve?

I am going to a New Year Ball at the Midland Hotel in Manchester with Mrs PM and four of her friends – all female. Two guys were supposed be coming but for some reason they have bottled out. I have complained in the past that I simply do not understand the female of the species so you can imagine what I will be like on the eve of 2010 sitting in a tuxedo on a table with five women. I will look like a baboon masquerading as a penguin in the presence of five visions of beauty - talk about beauties and the beast.

I will report on what I learned from the experience in January – if I survive.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

We lost our cuckoo cat, Spike. Here is a picture:

He was 18 years old and belonged to somebody else but somehow managed to infiltrate our household and adopt us, despite taking him back to his rightful owner – he simply came back. One night in July, he was sitting on our bed, purring away and the next day he had vanished. We checked with the real owner and she said that he had not come back. I hope that he got fed up of us and sought a new owner but, given his age and condition, we fear the worst.

5. What countries did you visit?

Switzerland, Spain (Majorca) and the United States.

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?

More money (obviously) and a house that was 100% complete. We had our bathroom replaced this year and, although it only took just over a week, it was a total pain in the arse. Sadly, Mrs PM has plans for 2010 – which is why I need more money.

7. What date from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

No dates particularly stand out as far as I can recall.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I guess that is probably not giving up photography after two months of trawling through hundreds of below par photographs.

9. What was your biggest failure?

I started a book and it has stalled a little bit. I have written around 6000 words but my war against procrastination had a bit of a setback. But fear not, dear reader. Although I took a bloody nose in that particular battle, I am massing the troops again for another assault. I have a fantastic idea for a novel and have actually written a prologue.

Talking of writing, in 2005 Mrs PM’s mum took us to Australia and as a thank you, I documented the whole 3 week trip in a travelogue written in my own inimitable style. She has shown it to her brother who was so impressed that he now wants me to write up a history of his family, based on his genealogy research – he has offered to pay me to do it.

Of course, I will do it but I won’t accept any payment. I wonder whether I will be able to fit this in with my novel and my life book. Hmm! Could be tricky. Watch out for the answer to this question at the end of 2010.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

My usual illnesses – a little man flu in January and a little man flu in December.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Mrs PM would say “a bathroom”. The bathroom in question cost so much money that I had very little to spend on gadgets and gizmos. Hence I have to say that the best things I bought were CD’s:

“Chutzpah!” by the Wildhearts

“Liebe Ist Für Alle Da” by Rammstein

“Images and Words” by Dream Theater

How sad is that?

12. Where did most of your money go?

The bathroom and the holiday to Boston.

13. What song will always remind you of 2009?

The Jackson Whites by the Wildhearts (from the album Chutzpah!).

14. What do you wish you'd done more of?

Planning and writing my book. As I said, I have stalled a little bit in the past month or three but I am determined to do battle with the evil procrastination again.

15. What do you wish you'd done less of?


16. What was your favourite TV program?

Difficult to choose but any of the following:

Dr Who
Top Gear
Curb Your Enthusiasm
The Apprentice

17. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

I don’t really hate anybody so the answer is no.

18. What was the best book you read?

“The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid” by Bill Bryson

19. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Dream Theater without a shadow of a doubt. This band has been around since 1989 and sadly I only discovered them in the summer of this year.

20. What was your favorite film of this year?

Star Trek.

21. What did you do on your birthday?

Mrs PM took me out for a lovely meal and a couple of beers.

22. What kept you sane?

Beer, music and writing.

23. Who did you miss?

Spike, our departed cat.

24. Who was the best new person you met?

I’ve met a few new people this year but to single anyone out would be unfair (and very difficult). However, an honourable mention has to go to the proprietors of “The Old Manse Inn” in Brewster, Cape Cod who referred to myself and Mrs PM as “the kids”. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that I was a middle-aged grumpy old git. See – I told you that I looked young for my age.

25. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009:

When your bathroom is out of order, never have a wash in your kitchen sink in full view of the next door neighbour while wearing just your underpants.

Wednesday 23 December 2009

Jingle Bells

This is my last post before Christmas so I thought I would write alternative lyrics to a well known Christmas song. Last year it was The Twelve Days Of Christmas. This year I have selected "Jingle Bells" as the victim of my psychotic need to destroy songs.

Have a great Christmas one and all.

Dashing to the shops every single bloody day
Join another queue, pushing people out the way
I need to buy so many presents and a lot of trash
I need to win the lottery cos I’ve just run out of cash

Oh Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells
Jingle all the way
Oh what fun it is to throw your hard earned cash away
Oh Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells
Jingle all the way
Oh what fun it is to throw your hard earned cash away

Eating lots of food and drinking lots of beer
I am getting fat, much fatter than last year
The weather’s looking nice; I think it might have snowed
And if I eat another thing I know I will explode

Oh Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells
Jingle all the way
Oh what fun it is to double the amount you weigh
Oh Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells
Jingle all the way
Oh what fun it is to double the amount you weigh

Listening to the Queen and watching crap TV
Playing silly games with my entire family
Everybody’s tired and one or two begin to snore
But later we will have to eat and drink again some more

Oh Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells
Jingle all the way
Oh what fun it is to fall asleep on Christmas Day
Oh Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells
Jingle all the way
Oh what fun it is to fall asleep on Christmas Day

So a Merry Christmas to the readers of this post
I like to raise my glass and to propose a toast
To everyone in Blogland; every woman, every man
Here’s to a fun-filled holiday from The Plastic Mancunian

Oh Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells
Jingle all the way
Oh what fun it is to stuff your face on Christmas Day
Oh Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells
Jingle all the way
Oh what fun it is to stuff your face on Christmas Day

Friday 18 December 2009

A Christmas Meme

I have finished work for Christmas and have survived all Christmas parties with only a slight hangover (this morning actually – after the annual pub crawl).

I am now ready for a couple of days rest before the mayhem commences next week.

And right on cue, it snowed yesterday for the first time this winter, leaving a small white layer everywhere.

Since I am in the Christmas spirit, I thought I would steal again. I have, for amusement, stolen a Christmas meme I stumbled across (I know – it’s a terrible thing to do – but I don’t care).

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?

Given the choice I would just hand over the presents unwrapped but tradition dictates (or should I say Mrs PM dictates) that I wrap presents up. I use the term “wrap up” in the loosest possible term because my attempts end up looking like several piles of crumpled wrapping paper.

Thankfully, Mrs PM is the expert and usually does the wrapping, leaving me on selotape duty.

That’s right; I am so incompetent in the art of wrapping presents that I am reduced to cutting strips of tape for Mrs PM. What a sad basket case I am.

When it comes to Mrs PM’s present(s) I tend to use a gift bag – it’s so much easier.

2. Real tree or artificial?

Up until two years ago, we had a real tree – and it was a pain in the arse. I would take my medium sized hatchback to the Christmas tree shop and select a tree that was around six and a half feet tall and had the description “none drop”. The problem is that “none drop” is a complete and utter lie.

Having bought the tree and watched the guys wrap it up in some form of weird webbing I would somehow crowbar the bloody thing into my car and then drive back, flouting all known traffic safety laws, and then drag the thing into my lounge. At that point, the instant I cut off the webbing, the tree would drop the first of many huge piles of needles onto the floor. My car would be full of pine needles and my house full of them too.

It was incredible; surely there is a finite amount of needles on a Christmas tree, yet every single tree I have ever bought deposits an entire forest’s worth on my carpet yet still seems to have an endless supply left to drop the following day.

Even when the bloody thing had gone, I would find pine needles for months afterwards. In fact, I think some of the needles we found the last time we had a real tree were from the year before.

I therefore persuaded Mrs PM to allow me to buy an artificial tree. It is the same height (around six feet six) and it looks magnificent – and it doesn’t drop needles all over the cats!

The one thing I do miss though is the smell of a nice real tree.

3. When do you put up the tree?

Usually when Mrs PM orders me to put up the tree.

4. When do you take the tree down?

As soon as possible after New Year.

5. Do you like eggnog?

Eggnog is made of milk, cream, sugar and eggs and looks like vomit. Even when you add cinnamon or brandy to it, you can’t help thinking as it passes your lips, floods over your tongue and slides down your throat that you are drinking puke.

So no – I don’t drink it.

6. Favourite gift received as a child?

An Action Man with realistic hair and gripping hands. The poor thing was sent on all sorts of dangerous missions and its hair didn’t help it one little bit as I hurled it out of my bedroom window repeatedly.

7. Hardest person to buy for?

My eldest sister and my Mum. In fact, any females, when I come to think about it, apart from Mrs PM (who drops huge hints). Regular readers may know that females make about as much sense to me as aliens so imagine how difficult it is for me to buy for them.

8. Easiest person to buy for?

The kids. If I like it, I assume they will – usually I’m right, because I am a big kid myself.

9. Do you have a nativity scene?


10. Mail or e-mail Christmas cards?

I’ve decided this year to stop sending Christmas cards. I simply don’t see the point of them because I see most of the people I send them to anyway and, to be honest, they are a waste of paper. It is better, I think, to wish people a Happy Christmas in person, or by phone or simply buy them a drink.

Actually, sending emails seems a reasonable substitute, particularly for those who live far away.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?

An absolutely horrific shirt. I know that I am a fashion barbarian but even I have standards.

12. Favourite Christmas movie?

I like “Scrooged” starring Bill Murray for a great laugh:

[Props man tries to attach antlers to a mouse]
Props man: I can't get the antlers glued to this little guy. We tried Crazy Glue, but it don't work.
Frank Cross: Did you try staples?

and I also like “It’s A Wonderful Life”.

13. When do you start shopping?

I aim to get all Christmas shopping out of the way by the end of November. I’ve messed up this year though because I still have one present to get – which means I have to go to the Trafford Centre on the busiest weekend of the year. Oh joy!!

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?


15. Favourite thing to eat at Christmas?

I love mince pies.

16. Lights on the tree?

Yes. We have multicoloured lights with various eight different flicker patterns. Once I have spent three hours getting them to work, they look fabulous.

17. Favourite Christmas song?

“Fairy Tale Of New York” by the Pogues and Kirsty MacColl

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?

We take it in turns and it’s our turn to entertain this year, which means a week of mayhem leading up to the big day. We always end up travelling to Walsall and Balckpool to visit relatives anyway.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer?

Only Rudolph (the drunk one) and Donner and Blitzen.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star?

A star.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?

Christmas morning.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year?

Shopping, overeating and drinking too much.

23. Favourite ornament theme or colour?

I leave that to Mrs PM. I’m not fussy.

24. Favourite for Christmas dinner?


25. What do you want for Christmas this year?

A Ferrari. Failing that, a brand new 40 inch HD TV. I hope you have room in your sack Father Christmas – and I hope you’ve forgiven me for my last post.

Feel free to use this meme. All I ask is that you let me know so I can have a read.

Wednesday 16 December 2009

Dear Father Christmas

Dear Father Christmas,

My name is Dave and I am not a child any more (despite what you may have heard). Nevertheless, I hope that you listen to adults as well as children because I have something to say.

I thought it better to write to you rather than finding you in a shopping centre and having to queue up with the kids just to have a little chat. I wouldn’t want to appear to be any weirder than I already am.

Last time I encountered you in a shopping centre, I was a child and you had been on the ale; frankly your behaviour was disgraceful. You stank of alcohol and your speech was slurred. And this was a few days BEFORE Christmas Eve as well. All the children were disappointed. I remember asking myself; if he is this bad before Christmas Eve, what on earth is he going to be like on the big day itself?

I know for a fact that every household in the world leaves you a glass of sherry and a mince pie to help you on your way, which presumably explains why you are so overweight and drive a huge sleigh. Or perhaps you pass the alcohol to your head reindeer, you know the one with the big red beer-drinker’s nose.

I’m sure that you are risking the wrath of the local constabulary, being in charge of a sleigh under the influence of intoxicating substances. And surely, forcing a reindeer to consume liquor is contravening a major RSPCA regulation.

How do you get away with it?

Maybe the police just turn a blind eye to your antics because it’s Christmas Eve. After all, how popular would they be if they arrested Father Christmas for drunk driving and animal cruelty? What bad press would they get if they confiscated all of the Christmas presents for the entire world? Furthermore, what would all of the other nations think of the UK for holding Father Christmas in a cell?

It would appear that you are above the law. Whenever I visit another country, I have to present a passport and then explain to the sadistic and ill-tempered immigration officer why I am visiting his country. You can just fly in can’t you?

I’ll bet you’ve never been searched when entering Australia to see if you have any foodstuffs. I’ll bet you’ve never had a beagle sniffing your rucksack for biscuits. I’ll bet you don’t get the third degree when crossing the US border. No US immigration official demands YOUR fingerprints.

My fingerprints are probably in an FBI database now. Are yours? I seriously doubt it.

I can imagine that you probably pop in and out of Europe like a ghost. I’ll bet the Russians and Chinese are unaware that you are flying into their airspace.

Are you James Bond or Jason Bourne by any chance?

In fact, talking of names, I am wondering whether I am addressing this letter to the right person. Is your name really “Father Christmas” or is “Santa Claus”? I’ve often wondered why some people call you “Santa Claus” – is that you rock star name?

I know that Bonehead – er sorry – Bono of U2 has a huge enough ego to get away with calling himself a ridiculous name, but your so-called philanthropy is legendary. All Bono does is sing and then shout at his audience for not being as great as he is, and all this despite the fact they have paid huge sums of money to see his concerts. You simply turn up at every house in the world and give away presents to everybody.

Except you don’t do you?

As a child I used to think you were the best man on the planet. You turned up, once a year, and gave me lots of gifts for absolutely nothing. All that you asked in return was that I was a good boy.

I still recall that dark December day as a five year old when my nan told me off for being cheeky to my mum. You see, Santa (or whatever you real name is), I have always been mischievous, rude and defiant. As a child I always wondered why grown-ups shouted at me. I’m not deaf you know.

But then that fateful day came when my nan said:

“If you don’t button your lip, Father Christmas won’t bring you any presents”.

I laughed and said “Yes he will. He’s a kind old man and he comes to visit me every year with lots of presents.”

“He doesn’t give presents to NAUGHTY children,” she countered with a stern look on her face.

I was five years old and I crumbled.

“I didn’t mean to be naughty,” I cried. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t apologise to me,” she said.

“I’m sorry mummy,” I cried.

“Don’t apologise to me,” said my mum. “Apologise to Father Christmas.”

“He’s not here,” I said.

“He’s up the chimney,” said my nan.

Like a complete lemon, I sat in front of the gasfire and cried “I’m sorry Father Christmas,” as tears ran down my little cherubic cheeks. “Please bring me some presents.”

I took every opportunity to apologise to Father Christmas right up until Christmas Eve. My dad saw me shouting up the chimney and thought I’d gone mad.

“Father Christmas, I’ve been a good boy today. I’ve tidied up for mummy and I’ve behaved myself for daddy.”

“What’s going on?” whispered my dad to my mum.

“Shush,” she replied. “He’s been as good as gold since we threatened him with no presents from Father Christmas”.

I had been had. I was a victim of a cruel joke. I fell for it hook, line and sinker. I was a complete idiot. I didn’t know any better.

And it was all your fault, Santa Claus (or whatever your name is).

Because of you, my mother lied to me.

Because of you my father lied to me. Here’s another lie he told me:

“How can Father Christmas get all around the world in one night?” I asked once.

“He has a very fast car,” my dad lied.

“And how does he get to America then?”

“He also has a very fast aircraft.”

“And how does he get down the chimney when there’s a gas fire?”


Now I’m older I realise that you don’t make all the presents yourself, or even buy them; you are just a delivery boy. I have to buy the bloody presents for my kids and somehow you get the bloody credit.

All you are is a glorified postman.

And what’s worse – you are a burglar as well. You come round to my house every single Christmas Eve and break in; I don’t leave you a key or leave any windows open. I haven’t exactly double checked whether anything gets stolen but I do know this: you leave presents and my bank balance collapses like a house of cards.

When you visit, I get robbed. Last year we could have blamed it on those bankers but I bet you were in cahoots with them.

And you are lazy too. After your one night’s work, you bugger off back to the North Pole or wherever it is you drag your drunken bulk and then you go to bed and sleep until December next year. That must be some bloody hangover!

How on earth do you get away with that? Haven’t the inland revenue caught up with you yet?

How in blue blazes do you manage it?

As you can see from the tone of my letter, I have issues. Let me summarise:

You are a lying, drunken bandit, masquerading as a philanthropist when in reality you are just a glorified thieving delivery boy. You are a lazy fat bugger who works just one night a year, apart from the odd day when, drunk on beer and wine, you allow little kids to sit on your lap and intoxicate them with your fetid breath.

You cause parents to lie to children, you humiliate those children and then you rob the parents. You eat and drink so much in your one night of drunken debauchery that it is a miracle you can crowbar your blubbery body through any door in world, let alone squeeze your fat flabby beer-filled belly down a chimney.

You use aliases to keep one step ahead of the police; you drive while intoxicated and you break the immigration laws of every single country on the planet.

And you are cruel to animals.

I’ve found you out. I really should report you.

However, I still recall my dear old nan. She never ever lied to me. This year I have been a good Plastic Mancunian and I have not been naughty at all.

Can I have a Ferrari for Christmas?


The Plastic Mancunian.

Sunday 13 December 2009

Top Ten Comedy Films

There is nothing like a decent comedy film to brighten your mood. Here is a list of ten really funny films that have made me howl with laughter in the past. Please feel free to let me know your favourites.

10 – There’s Something About Mary

I had absolutely no idea what this film was about when Mrs PM dragged me to the cinema to see it. It was payback time; I had forced her to see one of my testosterone-fuelled action flicks and this was my penance. I sat down munching on popcorn and within ten minutes I was choking with laughter. There are simply so many pure moments of comedy genius; Cameron Diaz and the hair; the interview with the crazy policeman; the cringeworthy moment involving the zipper that frankly still makes my eyes water just thinking about it.

9 - The Blues Brothers

“We’re on a mission from God”. This is another film I saw without knowing a thing about it. some fantastic performances from legendary artists like James Brown, Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin. It has everything – a surreal story line, great music, great car chases and top comedy performances from John Belushi and Dan Akroyd.

8 - Borat

We’ve known about Sacha Baron Cohen in the UK for some time. Bizarrely, Borat and Bruno were minor characters compared to the more famous “Ali G”, a completely useless pillock who thinks he is a gangster rapper from a crappy little town in the south of England called Staines. Here in the UK we saw Borat on “Da Ali G Show” before anybody else and we knew what to expect from the movie. I have to say that Sacha Baron Cohen has absolutely no fear; I realise that a lot of the movie is staged but some of the scenes in the movie were unbelievable. Arguably the funniest moment was the naked wrestling in the hotel that ends up gate-crashing a corporate event.

7 – This is Spinal Tap

I love this film because it is an absolute piss-take of a classic British heavy metal band, made even better by the fact that all the actors are American. And the album “Break LikeThe Wind” that appeared some years after the movie, is actually very good and very funny with lyrics like:

When we die, do we haunt the sky?
Do we lurk in the murk of the seas?
What then? Are we born again?
Just to sit asking questions like these?

Back to the movie, scenes like the cock up with “Stonehenge” and the band getting lost on the way to the stage are comedy classics. And remember “These go to 11”:

6 – Some Like It Hot

This is one of my mother’s favourite films. It may be dated now but the ideas and comedy in the film are years ahead of their time. It was also the first film I saw starring Marilyn Monroe – what a lovely woman she was. Jack Lemmon is the star of the film for me, though it has to be said that both he and Tony Curtis were very convincing as women. And of course, the ending of the film is legendary:

5 – Blazing Saddles

I love Mel Brookes and Blazing Saddles is my favourite of his. OK, the ending was a bit crap but the rest of the movie is inspired. Highlights for me include the baked beans around the camp fire, Gene Wilder’s gunslinger and, of course, the inimitable Mongo. Very silly and very funny.

4 - National Lampoon’s Animal House

I saw this film as a sixteen year old and it was the first film that was certificate 15 or above. I cried with laughter. John Belushi’s character Bluto is one of the best comedy characters ever and the film is full of fabulously hilarious scenes. The scene with Niedermeyer’s horse is classic. Here’s John Belushi at his best:

3 – Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Steve Martin will never make a funnier film. He came close with “The Jerk” but “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” is in a league of its own. Maybe the reason I love it so much is because it represents one of my worst nightmares – struggling to get home by any means possible and saddled with the most obnoxious man on the planet, played by the brilliant John Candy. I feel Steve Martin’s pain all the way through the film and the poignant ending brings a tear to my eye. But the journey is one of the most hilarious romps I have seen, particularly the socks in the basin and the anguished cry of “THOSE AREN’T PILLOWS!!!!”

2 – Way Out West

I love Laurel and Hardy. My dad introduced me to them as a young child and I have seen just about everything they have ever done. I’m a bit of a sad basket case, owning a DVD box set of most of their feature films and shorts, including quite a few silent films. For me, they are the founders of modern comedy and way ahead of their time. As a child, “Way Out West” had me crying with laughter. These guys are the original “Dumb and Dumber”; so breathtakingly stupid that they defy belief, yet so funny that people still howl with laughter after all these decades. “Way Out West” is my favourite film by the dynamic duo and this is the funniest scene in the film. It is an absolute classic:

1 – Monty Python’s The Life of Brian

This is the funniest film I have seen and also the most misunderstood. It was condemned as blasphemous when it first appeared and was banned in a few areas of the UK, mostly by people who hadn’t seen it. People assumed that just because it was set during the life of Jesus, that it was actually about him. It isn’t – not at all. Jesus appears in the film twice; once at the beginning just after his birth (where the three wise men mistake the baby Brian for Jesus) and once at the Sermon on the Mount. That’s it. The remainder of the film is an hilarious tale that happens to take place at the same time. I laughed so much when I saw it the first time that I had to go and see it again. To this day it is the only film I have ever seen twice at the cinema. There are too many hilarious scenes to mention, so hear are a couple of my favourites:

All ten films have made me laugh – I hope you agree. If you don’t please feel free to let me know your favourites.

Monday 7 December 2009

Never Trust ...

Never trust people who have a single eyebrow

Never trust people whose eyebrows are a different colour from their hair

Never trust politicians (particularly when speaking)

Never trust anybody who gives you a “vote of confidence”

Never trust anybody who doesn’t like garlic – they may be a vampire

Never trust a skinny chef

Never trust a man who says your wife is beautiful to everybody but you

Never trust a cat with a wagging tail

Never trust anybody who wants to climb the corporate ladder in record time

Never trust those who blame everything on global warming

Never trust Alsatian dogs

Never trust a banker

Never trust an art critic

Never trust Simon Cowell

Never trust anybody who has anything to do with the legal profession

Never trust anybody who tries to give you something for nothing

Never trust a spider, particularly if it is in your bedroom as you are about to sleep

Never trust a car salesman

Never trust a hairdresser with mad hair

Never trust Captain Kirk when he suggests visiting a new planet, particularly if you are wearing a red top (unless your name is Montgomery Scott)

Never trust a your boss when he says “can I have a quick word?” at 4pm on a Friday afternoon

Never trust a celebrity who has to go on a reality TV show

Never trust a fat dietician

Never trust a man who wants to buy you a beer on your stag party

Never trust a smiling traffic warden

Never trust anybody who says “trust me – I know what I’m doing”

Never trust an offer that is too good to be true

Never trust a vegetarian who chastises you for being a carnivore

Never trust weathermen

Never trust anybody who insists on giving themselves a pretentious job title (e.g. a painter who calls himself a “Colour Distribution Technician”)

Never trust a wasp – it WILL sting you. Kill it!

Never trust an email that offers anything free

Never trust a fart

Never trust a snake

Never trust a gambler

Never trust the Joker

Never trust a TV chef

Never trust anybody who has a double-barrelled surname like “St John-Smythe”

Never trust a man whose name is pronounced differently from the spelling (for example Menzies Campbell insists his name is “Ming” - and never trust Ming the Merciless either)

Never trust a person whose TV is bigger than their lounge

Never trust anybody who is over ten years older than you

Never trust those who moan all the time

Never trust someone who smiles when giving you bad news

Never trust an estate agent

Never trust Wile E Coyote

Never trust a smiling viper

Never trust a person who uses phrases like “step up to the plate”

Never trust a dentist with bad teeth

Never trust a man who wears pink to “stay in touch with his feminine side”

Never trust a person who refuses to look you in the eye

Never trust anything you read in a tabloid newspaper

Never trust a woman who begins a sentence with “I’m not being funny but …”

Never trust a person who has a new boyfriend/girlfriend every couple of months

Never trust your eyes when it is dark

Never trust a Klingon, unless he is called Worf

Never trust a lion

Never trust anybody who doesn’t like a good curry

Never trust Darth Vader

Never trust a tall man with a squeaky voice

Never trust a bear

Never trust a person who takes life too seriously

Never trust a Plastic Mancunian

Always trust yourself

Saturday 5 December 2009

Top Ten Rock Bands

As you can see, I survived the first Christmas party – and jolly good it was too. Before the next one, tonight, I thought I would deviate from my usual inane drivel.

Every now and then I stumble across a blog post that lists the author’s favourite things and I find myself drawn in out of curiosity. I’ve read about favourite books, movies, bands, songs, cars – all sorts of things. In some cases I have actually investigated further by taking the time to see a movie because somebody recommended it in a Top Ten List.

I thought I would have a go myself and being a curious person (by that I mean a person who is curious not somebody who is weird – although I am weird – so maybe really am curious in more than one sense of the word – I’m rambling now so I’ll shut up), I thought I might give people an insight into the things that appeal to me and, hopefully, open doors for your curiosity to wander in and explore.

I’ll start off with a subject that is close to my heart – rock music.

Listed below are my ten favourite rock bands with a simple explanation about why I love them

Please feel free to comment on your favourites – my curiosity has a sense of adventure and I’m always willing to move into previously unexplored areas of rock music; I am the Starship Enterprise travelling through a universe of unexplored rock bands – willing to go where no plastic person has gone before.

For those willing to explore my strange world, here are my top ten rock bands:

(1) Rush – In my opinion, this band are the undisputed kings of progressive rock. I’ve praised this Canadian trio before so I won’t bore you too much with my sycophantic gushing. I have grown up with this band and their music never ceases to amaze me. Here is a song from the very first album I bought:

Subdivisions - from the album Signals

(2) Dream Theater – I’ve only recently discovered this band. They have been around for almost two decades and I am kicking myself that I only started listening to them this year. I bought “Images And Words” and haven’t looked back. Thanks to Spotify, I have heard their entire catalogue and I will have it in my possession by mid-2010. Here’s probably their most popular song:

Pull Me Under from the album Images and Words

(3) Nine Inch Nails – I am a huge fan of 80’s electronic pop music, particularly bands like Depeche Mode. Nine Inch Nails take that style of music and integrate rock and metal into it thus providing me with a style of music that fills the gap between pop and rock. I think Trent Reznor is a genius and the man can do no wrong in my eyes. Here’s a recent chart single:

The Hand That Feeds from the album With Teeth

(4) Rammstein – This bunch of German nutters are a joy to behold. I was converted when I saw them in the opening scenes of the film “XXX” performing “Feuer Frei” complete with flame throwers and other pyrotechnic mayhem. They are very controversial in their native Germany and a couple of Germans I have spoken to regard them with nothing but contempt. Having translated the lyrics I can see why. That said, however, they are incredible live and I am off to see them for the second time in February next year. Here is the song that started it all for me:

Feuer Frei from the album Mutter

(5) Deep Purple – Deep Purple are one of the key bands that made me fall in love with rock music. The legendary Mark II line up is still my favourite and songs like “Highway Star” still send shivers down my spine. The bad are still going strong after forty years – they must be doing something right.

Perfect Strangers from the album Perfect Strangers

(6) Foo Fighters – David Grohl is another musical hero of mine. I loved Nirvana but The Foo Fighters are superior and I’m still amazed at the sheer talent and charisma of the guy. If you haven’t already seen them live, I highly recommend it.

All My Life from the album One By One

(7) Judas Priest – There aren’t many famous people from my home town of Walsall but Rob Halford, the lead singer of Judas Priest, is one of them. They are the godfathers of heavy metal and, although they have courted controversy, I still love them. Again they are still going strong and their latest concept album, Nostradamus, is one of the best heavy metal albums of this decade.

Nostradamus from the album Nostradamus

(8) The Wildhearts – Ginger, the singer and main songwriter of the Wildhearts, is another unsung hero of mine. Believe it or not this band has been around since the early nineties and, despite self-destructing on a number of occasions, they are (incredibly) still around and producing some of their best music at the moment. If you like punky rock music with incredibly catchy tunes you will love this band.

The New Flesh from the album The Wildhearts

(9) Metallica – It wasn’t until “Enter Sandman” that I realised just how good Metallica are. For me that was the song that changed my perception of this incredible band. For those of you that are sceptical, just listen to the album “Master of Puppets”. If you are still not convinced, listen to their most reason masterpiece, “Death Magnetic”. These are two of the best heavy metal albums of all time.

The Day That Never Comes from the album Death Magnetic

(10) Ten – Yes, I’ve mentioned this melodic rock band before and I know that you will have never heard of them. It is an absolute crime that this band never reached the heights of inferior bands like Bon Jovi. Gary Hughes, the man behind the band, is a superb songwriter. If you like melodic rock, you will love this band.

Fear The Force from the album Spellbound

Do have a listen and let me know what you think. Even better, please let me know your favourite rock bands and I will investigate. Have fun.

Tuesday 1 December 2009

The Christmas Party Hangover

Mrs PM and I have made what could be a big mistake.

Every year our respective companies organise a Christmas party. Last year, they were a week apart. Unfortunately, this year they are within a day of each other. When the dates for each event were specified, my immediate thought was:

“Oh no! Two parties in on consecutive days – we have to miss one of them.”

Mrs PM’s reaction was:

“Don’t be such a wuss! We’ll go to BOTH!”

This coming Friday, my company is heading off to Old Trafford, the stadium were Manchester United play, to partake in an event called “One Night In Bangkok”, which takes place in a huge marquee in the car park next to the ground.

Mrs PM’s mob are heading off to Liverpool to the “Hard Days Night Hotel”, which, as you can probably guess, pays homage to the Beatles. The date? Saturday night; and because it is in Liverpool, we have to drive over there and stay the night.

So the question is, am I wuss or not?

Well, the truth is that in my 20s and 30s I probably would have relished the opportunity. Sadly, my ageing body now refuses to acknowledge the capacity for ale I enjoyed in my youth. I now suffer from “the two day hangover”.

I would guess that a few readers who stumble across the drivel I write aren’t familiar with the sensation of consuming alcohol and the after effects of the debauchery that ensues when one imbibes too much. For those readers, allow me to illustrate how a night out at a typical works Christmas party may pan out.

At approximately 5:30 (two hours before the party starts), I vow not to overdo it. I recall last years embarrassment – actually, that’s not actually true. The photographs jog my memory and the merciless mocking from my workmates etches the unfortunate events in into my brain.

I tell Mrs PM that I will not drink too much. She laughs and says “You said that last year. We’ll see.”

The taxi arrives at 7pm and off we go. The conversation goes something like this:

Mrs PM: I LOVE Christmas. I LOVE Christmas parties.

Me: I am definitely not drinking too much tonight.

Mrs PM: Must we go through this again? Remember last year? Remember the free red wine? Remember Neil making sure that we were on a table with at least four non-drinkers so that we could have MORE free wine?

Me: Yes – but I will definitely NOT overdo it.

We arrive at the party and within seconds one of my mates has thrust a pint of finest bitter into my hands with a “Get THAT down you!”

The pint is quite refreshing and it’s not long before hints are being dropped: “Get the beer in then, Dave!”

Off I go to the bar and, as I order the beer, I repeat the mantra in my brain: “Must not overdo it! MUST NOT OVERDO IT!”

A few moments later we arrive at our table; waiting for us are ten bottles of wine. I look around and see that there are six drinkers and four non-drinkers. Oh no – not again!

Time passes and the people on our table fully immerse themselves in the atmosphere. I am forced (by Mrs PM) to wear a silly hat that looks even more ridiculous with my incredibly bad hair. People blow up party balloons and fire them off at targets (usually managers) with a huge loud “WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!”. A plastic frog lands in my glass of red wine (how many have I had now?). I pull a cracker with Mrs PM and she wins the prize (again)! As a forfeit I have to read out the terrible joke:

What's big, grey and wears glass slippers? Cinderelephant.

I try to recall how much wine I have had but my brain feels like it is mutating into a giant marshmallow. I look at my glass of wine and it is full. Did I fill it or was it somebody else? Have I had any at all? Maybe one glass, possibly two?

The main course appears and we all dig into our first turkey of the Christmas period (at the end of Christmas we will all transform into turkeys I’m sure of it. Apart from vegetarians who will probably become stuffed peppers).

I take a sip of red wine. And another. And another.

At some point, the beer takes its toll and I have to go to the toilet. As I am walking, I start to work out how much I have had. One glass of wine and two pints. Or is it two glasses of wine and three pints? Alarm bells start to ring. Have I had too much already? In the toilet, I stare at myself in the mirror and then start a conversation with my reflection:

Me: How much have you had? And why don’t you take off that stupid hat?

Reflection: Well you can focus on me and you have definitely made it to the toilet without falling over or wobbling. You’re OK!

Me: OK

A man walks out of a trap and stares at me as if I am a complete idiot.

Back at the table, dessert has arrived. Christmas bloody pudding covered in brandy sauce – a dessert concocted in the bowels of Hades.

“Not Christmas Pudding again. I’m sure I ordered mince pie!”

“I LOVE Christmas pudding,” says Mrs PM. “And this is the first of many portions for you this year!”

Reluctantly and stupidly I eat my Christmas Pudding. It is like eating tar!

My mouth is glued shut and my jaws ache trying to chew this disgusting stodge. I need some liquid – lots of liquid. What’s that? A FULL glass of red wine? I could have sworn that it was almost empty. Oh well!

The wine does the job and dissolves the tar.

The DJ, a man who has eaten two days worth of happy pills, announces that the entertainment is about to begin.

“Ladies and gentlemen! It’s time for the PARTY TO BEGIN! Let’s start with that old party classic – YMCA!”

Oh no! I frantically look around as the cold hand of fear clutches my soul. And there she is, making her way across the huge room towards me. I hear the words:


Cazzy is coming to drag me onto the dance floor for our annual YMCA dance (maybe I will tell you the story of why this is traditional one day). I try to hide under the table but before I know it, I am being pulled by a determined woman towards the flashing lights of the dance floor. I am clutching a glass of wine and drink it to ease my forthcoming humiliation. And there’s nobody on the dance floor – it will just be me and Cazzy – AGAIN!

Behind me, my workmates leap up armed with cameras, to record the event and once more I find myself singing and dancing and posing for photos.

Young man, there's no need to feel down.

I said, young man, pick yourself off the ground.

I said, young man, 'cause you're in a new town

There's no need to be unhappy.

Young man, there's a place you can go.

I said, young man, when you're short on your dough.

You can stay there, and I'm sure you will find

Many ways to have a good time.

It's fun to stay at the y-m-c-a.

It's fun to stay at the y-m-c-a.

Suddenly I realise that I’m enjoying myself. I don’t know why I hide from Cazzy every year! With YMCA still ringing in my ears, and now with a few colleagues dancing away with us, we listen to all the Christmas songs from Wizzard, Slade, Band Aid etc. that are dusted off every year.

I am hot now and need to cool down. I return to my table and find a pint of beer there. Good! I’ve had enough of red wine. Oh – there’s a glass of red wine next to it and it’s full – and it’s mine.


The remainder of the evening becomes a blur. Many photos are taken of me eating mince pie while doing the Macarena; I am videoed singing “Man I Feel Like A Woman” by Shania Twain, my jacket and tie are off and I am bounding up to the dance floor for every cheesy pop song that I despise.

At the end of the night I am in a taxi, convinced that I am as sober as a judge. At home I rest my weary head on my pillow and catch the train to Dreamland. The slight buzzing sensation in my head is nothing to worry about.


The next morning I open my eyes and realise that I am being beaten up. My head is pounding. I can’t see the assailant at all and I wonder why the invisible man is trying to hammer nails into my skull.

And then it starts to come back. The mantra “mustn’t overdo it” is a distant memory. I close my eyes again but the beating doesn’t go away. My tongue is glued to the roof of my mouth by the remains of Christmas Pudding (something that could be used to surface motorways).
I am desperately thirsty and pluck up the courage to go downstairs for much needed water. I see my suit cast to the four winds – didn’t I hang it up last night?

I struggle downstairs, my head pounding like a pneumatic drill.

Mrs PM is in the kitchen as fresh as a daisy.

“You look like shit,” she laughs. “You overdid it, didn’t you?”

“Why are you so fresh?” I ask.

“I took it easy,” she replies.

I look at my reflection in the mirror. My hair is sticking up in every conceivable direction; my eyes are bloodshot; my tongue looks and feels like a carpet in a demolished house; the bags under my eyes are so big you could pack a turkey in each.

As I sip from a glass of ice cold water, Mrs PM reminds me of what occurred the night before. I start to cringe as I recall dancing like a demented gorilla to songs like “The Birdy Song”. Once more there is video evidence of me pretending to be a Kevin Rowland and belting out an awful version of “Come On Eileen”.

Mrs PM reminds me that I fell over during “New York, New York”. Apparently there’s a photo of me sitting on the floor like a complete arse and grinning inanely.

But thankfully, Mrs PM reminds me of other people; the man who was sent to bed in the hotel for being too drunk; another who did a break dance with his tie wrapped around his head like Rambo; others who spilled red wine down their pristine white shirts;

I’m thankful that I only fell over once. I’m grateful that I didn’t insult anybody.

So, this year, I really DO have to take it easy. Last year, my hangover was bearable but lasted two whole days – the first day recovering from the after effects of over-indulgence (headaches, indigestion etc.), the second day due to lack of sleep from the first night.

I will report on this busy weekend sometime next week.

And I must remember the mantra – I MUST NOT OVERDO IT!