30 Apr 2010

Beaten, never broken.

It was a hot day. The sun beat down on me as I walked across the hard, barely green, ground. My right hand was taped to support my weak fingers. I brought my forearm across my brow to sweep the sweat before it slipped into my eyes. My bare knees showed the cuts and scrapes of last time. My left ankle creaked as I walked. No matter; the pain would soon be replaced by adrenaline.

I looked over the field and took stock of what was about to happen. Fourteen men looked back - grim determination etched deep into their faces. I knew that this was going to be hell but my brothers in arms were there. They would sacrifice their bodies for me. I would do the same for every single one of them. As one we turned and looked at the enemy. Rage, aggression and fury took us. We would fail today - we all knew it - but by all that we were, all that we could be, we would fight until we could fight no more. We were determined to show that no matter the odds, no matter the outcome, we would be proud to call ourselves a team.

The ball went up. We chased. I pumped my legs to get there, to stop the play, to prevent an early shaming. I drew close and watched their receiver brought to the ground. I joined the pile of bodies that surrounded the break down, forcing my weight over the ball, feeling the rough embrace of my team bind on and drive. Every fibre of my being willing the opposition back. The smell of musk, dust and Deep-Heat filled my nostrils.

Later, there was a break by the terrible opposition. I ran, feeling the turf pound the soles of my feet, towards him barely considering his huge physical advantage. I flung my body towards the giant. My hope was that the contact would be good. I smashed my shoulder into his stomach and started to club my feet into the solid earth. He caved, dropping into touch as he went down. We won the ball.

A lineout. I leapt clear towards the hot sun, reaching for the most precious thing on the pitch. The lifters in front and behind held me suspended. I was in their trust. One wrong foot and they would let me crash back down, thudding my fragile body against the ground. I leaned, caught and passed, relieved that I had won the contest and that I wasn't lying mangled on the floor.

One of us tackled one of them. He dropped the ball forwards in the contact as he crumpled like a rag-doll. We scrummed down, sixteen men locked together in our own private battle. We didn't have the weight or power to compete. We lost the ball back to them. The ball was picked out and passed to their fly-half spinning gently through the air as it was caught. I detached myself from the scrum and ran as hard as I could. The ball carrier set his body into the curious half-sit, half-crouch position he adopted to kick. His kicking had been sound all day and we were growing weary of his ability to push us back deep into our own territory. I knew I was the only player chasing; knew that if I didn't get there fast enough we would be back the other side of our ten-metre line. His boot struck the ball as I leapt into the air, arms outstreatched, looking like a bedraggled Superman. The white flash of the ball struck my wrist and tumbled sideways into the awaiting arms of our full-back. Safety for now.

On our try line desperate not to concede any more points. Everyone knew that we were beaten. Hammered by try after try being scored against us, we had very little left to give and even less to play for, the result already decided. But yet, tackle after tackle went in. Bodies were given up to prevent another score. Nobody took a step back. Everybody fought.

This was my last match for the team. I was disapponted by the huge loss we took but proud to have represented the club. Proud to wear the black, gold and green.

Proud to be a man amongst men.

24 Apr 2010

Duke, Stop Fucking Around and Pay Attention!

I've never been diagnosed as having ADHD but working with a number of pupils who have I find myself coming to the conclusion that I show many of the symptoms.

It affects me in a variety of ways. I get bored quickly and often find myself being distracted by anything other than what I should actually be doing.

I have great plans for my blog. I think of running jokes or thematic posts that I feel would be hilarious. Look at the manifesto post. Sure, it's a bit overlong and somewhat wordy but I thought it was quite funny. I then thought I'd run a series of posts based on a fictional parliamentary candidate getting into all kinds of amusing scrapes. Once again, plenty of room for cringe-worthy humour. Then I got bored writing about it. After ONE post.

I've done it before. I wrote a political profile on Lord Mandelson which I thought would turn into a series of satirical pokes at major British politicians. Didn't do it. How about the teaching advice posts that you promised us, Duke? Meh, other stuff happened.

How about my grand scheme to report the news in the style of a 1920s old time imperialist ("Today in the colonies there was some shooting. No white people were hurt.")? Or my plan to use literary critical theories to deconstruct the lyrics of modern pop songs (a Marxist reading of 'Single Ladies [Put A Ring On It]' anyone?) None of it happened. None of it will happen. As such my blog drifts aimlessly between personal mewlings and social commentary without any form of overall structure.

And it's not just on my blog. I can pretty much get any class I teach to be absolutely silent and working away like happy little things. That's great. Some teachers can't. The trouble is that I get bored so quickly that I start to wind the kids up. Stealing their pencil cases and hiding them. Pulling faces. Singing a nice song (currently my number one choice is 'Free Nelson Mandela' - I know not why). The other day I made a shadow puppet of a dog on the projector screen and pretended that it was throwing up the words on the PowerPoint I was using (yes, with sound effects). The kids generally ignore it or tell me to go away. One pupil once told me to 'grow up man-child'. Fair play.

This mucking around can occasionally turn a peaceful classroom into something approaching Brixton circa 1981. I then have to battle to get them quiet again.

Why do I do this? What possible use could it serve?

And when I have to complete work on my own I procrastinate like a mother fucker. If I have an 'absolute-must-finish' job I will spend twenty minutes working for every forty-five minutes of fucking about. This could be checking my blog, walking to the other side of the school to tell someone something (rather than send an email), try to improve my juggling, researching technical rugby moves that I will never pull off or even just staring at the light reflecting off the white board onto my ceiling. Sure, it looks pretty but I don't need it in my life.

It means that I'm 'okay' at a number of things (playing guitar, cooking, writing) but don't have the attention span to learn properly. Most of the computer games I buy are half finished. I listen to a CD non-stop for a week then put it away for the next twelve months.

There are however, some advantages. For instance, I have a knowledge about a lot of things. You could ask me a question on Roman civilisation, Russian literature or science and I'm usually pretty good at giving a half-decent response. I know, for example, that light can function as both a particle and a wave, that it is based on probability and can be in two places at once. That sounds impressive but that is the limit for me. I can't draw the equation that shows this for two reasons - I suck at maths and if I sat down, determined to get better, I would get distracted by a bee or something.

Anyway, I'm getting bored writing this. I'm off to play in my last match of the season. Have I told you about rugby?

Oh man rugby's great! So are 'Tool'! Dude, you've gotta listen to 'Tool'. They rock! Oh, have you ever eaten scallops? What about proper homemade jam? Do you watch 'Lost'? Yeah, I got bored too. How about 'The Wire'? It's great!

Ooh, look. A bee.

16 Apr 2010

Call the Election Off...Volcanic Death Cloud Wins By Default

At least that's what the news would have you believe.

I was working the other day (that's right bitches, I work in my holidays) and had BBC News 24 on as I marked some work. During this time the whole of UK airspace was closed due to the eruptions of an Icelandic volcano and the subsequent ash cloud it created.

I have just recounted the entire story for you in one sentence.

What the BBC decided to do was devote and entire day's worth of coverage to this very simple item.

To this end, they sent every available member of their reporting staff to what seemed like every single airport up and down the land in a desperate attempt to squeeze some kind of newsworthiness out of the dead, swollen corpse of an idea it actually was.

From the studio we were flung hyperactively to Stansted airport where surely there would be some kind of riot in place as disgruntled passengers demanded the blood of whomsoever was in charge.

Quite the opposite - "well, it's a nuisance but it can't be helped" quoted the generally genial British public.

Clearly this wasn't dramatic enough for the hard-nosed editors. So we instantly cut to Glasgow where another reporter was desperately trying to think of something to say. I can understand their thinking. Glasgow, full of angry Scottish people who will probably blame the lack of flights on 'poofy Englishmen who won't fly through a bit of cloud'. Surely the good people of Glasgow would be enragedly throwing concrete bollards through plate glass windows to show their displeasure?

Nope. It was very quiet. No one around.

And that was the story for the entire country. We went from city airport to city airport looking at banks of empty check-in desks and silent terminals to prove the no one was able to fly. In fact the only sound to break the cloister-like silence was the noise of waxy-faced failed actors trying to make the cleaning lady walking past sound like groundbreaking stuff.

There is of course a sure fire way of milking a story like the fucking cash cow it isn't and that is the rolling out of a collection of experts.

One even brought some volcanic ash with him to show what it was like. We had to sit through a full fifteen minutes of the reporter rubbing it between forefinger and thumb next to the microphone just to give us poor non-volcanic ash owning plebeians a sense of just how abrasive it was.

"Can you hear the rasping?" she spluttered like she'd just discovered the female orgasm.

She then, for reasons best know to herself, smeared it over the sleeve of her coat and held it to the camera as if she'd managed to do a poo in her training potty. "Look I'm so fucking clever, I can defaecate like a grown up".

After that almost sexually exciting period of reporting the whole hideous cycle started again. No airport was left unseen. There must have been a competition to see how many different ways the journalists could say 'usually this airport is really busy but now there is no one around'. Well, no shit. All the flights have been canceled.

My favourite quote had to be "it's no longer an airport, more like a shopping centre that you aren't allowed to leave". What a simile! What imagery! What bollocks!

In any case it made me realise that rolling news is at best an amusing way of spending an afternoon if you have nothing more productive to do with your life.

I say this because watching highly paid telly types attempt to make 30 seconds of news last for twenty minutes was like watching The Office.

Cringing, uncomfortable but ultimately one of the funniest things you'll see.

14 Apr 2010

Campaign Diary - Day 1

To start my campaign to become the youngest (and I believe best) Prime Minister that this fine nation has ever seen I have decided to embark on a series of meet and greet opportunities that will allow me to get to know the great British public on a face-to-face basis. Over the next three weeks I will be keeping a diary of my experiences - I will share them with you via this blog.

Dear Diary,

Day one of this campaign starts in the key constituency of Upper Crotchdon. I've decided to avoid the standard overblown photo-op much loved by other parties to get on with some old fashioned door knocking. Up early to catch the fruits of my (non-political) labour.

Started the day in glorious sunshine. Just me, the open road and my entourage of thirty. There is nothing like the feeling of being on your own that compares with the sense of anticipation of that crisp morning air.

Knocked on the first house I came to. Spoke to a delightful old lady. Real salt of the earth type. I asked if she was planning to vote in the up coming election. She said yes and nipped inside and brought out a small wooden box. I asked what she was planning to show me - she smiled and with a twinkle in her eye opened the box and produced an Iron Cross, a Tottenkopft cap badge and a Luger.

Great! My first house of the day and it's a Nazi sympathiser. Still, these things are sent to test our resolve. It can't get worse.

Door two looked more promising. It had swings in the front garden and a number of toys scattered on the grass. Bingo! I thought, families are a key voting group in this election. I knocked and introduced myself to the two chaps who answered the door. I asked if they were happy with the government's policies on families. They both looked a little confused. I kindly explained that surely their children were their number one priority. They looked more puzzled - and then told me that they didn't have children. I looked round at the toys on the lawn, at the swing and back to them. It was at this point that I noticed the dog lead around one of the feller's necks and the strong smell of baby oil.

It turns out that 'Terry' and 'Bitch' hold gay-friendly BDSM parties at their place and both have 'Daddy and Daddy' fetishes. After chatting for a bit I turned down their offer of tea - 'busy, busy' I explained wanting to get away before the local press arrived.

The next few houses had nobody in. At least all sounds of conversation suddenly stopped when I knocked on the door. This must be how Jehovah Witnesses must feel!

At this point the weather started to turn. A cold wind brought a few smatterings of rain but come rain or shine, I would bloody well campaign. Not like Cameron who insists on set weather conditions before he leaves his regeneration unit.

My next successful house was a young woman in her mid-twenties. 'Young votes' said my internal swingometre. She even invited me in for a cup of tea and a chat. I walked through the hall way and noticed a conspicuous lack of Nazi memorabilia or sex aides. At last - someone in Upper Crotchdon who isn't a nutter. I sat down and asked if she had any idea on who she was going to vote for on May 6th. She said she was standing herself as an independent. Now, I've always encouraged the incorporation of a myriad of viewpoints in the party, as my alcoholic grandfather used to say 'alloys are stronger - now fek off you slimy little bugger' - what a man.

I asked the young woman what issues she was hoping to stand on - if there was a way we could work together to prevent splitting the vote.

She looked me straight in the eye and said "I believe that if we don't stop destroying the planet we will be forced to pay". I explained that we also were a party with green issues at heart "yes" she continued "we will be attacked by the Halthraxian Galactic Empire by June if we don't stop the torture of Mother Earth" I looked at her blankly "In fact Gethina, our High-Priestess believes that it is too late and the only way we can prevent our impending doom is to do the dance of placation".

I'll be honest I'm quite liberal minded but when the young woman removed all of her clothes and started gyrating in front of me I didn't know where to put my face. Of course this was the moment when the local press decided to arrive and started taking photo after photo. I felt like Princess Diana in a strip club. I can only hope that the Upper Crotchdon Echo doesn't run those photos tomorrow!

After hastily extricating myself I decided I needed a bit of lunch and a break. Luckily there was a local pub just on the corner of the street. I walked in, proud to support the fine tradition of the local pub and the vital community service it provides.

"Pint of your local brew, barkeep" I said to, what looked like, Quasimodo's ugly twin. "Why?" he/she/it responded "it tastes like shit". I accepted the proffered pint and took a large swig; "hummm..." I said as my face puckered up "that's quite sour". The bartender just muttered under his breath. I'm sure it was complementing me on my desire to be one of the locals.

I felt the hunger pangs start to rumble in my stomach and decided to order some food. "Do you have a menu, my good man?" He thrust a stumpy finger towards a blackboard which looked like it had been decorated by a blind man with Parkinson's. "That looks like it's been decorated by a blind man with Parkinson's" I said aloud, pleased at my witty simile.

At this very moment a local rouge clapped a hand on my shoulder turned me round and said gruffly "are you takin' the piss outta Gerald?" as he did so he jerked a thumb towards the corner where an elderly chap with dark glasses and a white cane was sat shaking gently. Next to him was a pile of coloured chalk.

I came round outside in the gutter.

As I sat on the kerbside watching the traffic and trying to ignore the dull throb at the base of my skull I pondered if campaigning was always this hard. If perhaps, just perhaps, the main parties did it their way for a reason. "No point dwelling on the negativity" as my Laudanum addicted grandmother used to say before jacking up.

As my head cleared I espied a group of youths hanging in at a local park. Surely I should have little difficulty dealing with the X-Station playing, Hippty-Hop listening, crack-headed youngsters. I mean their brains should be so addled with virtual reality and illicit substances that I should have no difficulty in winning them over.

"Hey guys" I said as I walked to them.
"Oh, look who it is" one of them responded "you're Duke Fandango, leader of the The Neo-Post-Anti-Pro-Social Liberal Party." I immediately felt uneasy. This wasn't the brain washed youth the media promised.
"Yeah" said another spotty teen as he casually flicked his cigarette butt at my feet "your manifesto is nothing short of a joke - you try to set yourself up as a new way in British politics but you insist on twisting the socialist teachings of Marx into a conformist centrist point of view in a cynical attempt to acquire more votes".

I felt sick.

"Well" another started "I would actually place him closer to a Lloyd-Georgian classical interpretation of Liberalism when it came to economic issues with a direct ripping of the Social Democratic Party's social doctrine rather than having any direct influence from Marx".

I slowly backed away from the group until I could no longer hear the teenage gestalt equivalent of Jeremy Paxman.

"One more house" I said to myself "then I'm leaving this town full of Nazis, sexual deviants, cults and jumped up youngsters - I can see why the Conservatives are likely to win here".

I selected a house at random. Walked to the door, took a breath and knocked. The door immediately opened and I was face to face with a copper. He took one look at me then battoned me to the floor, flipped me over and handcuffed me. "We've got the bastard sarge" he yelled up the stairs.

It turns out that due to an unfortunate coincidence I knocked on the door of a police sting operation. It turns out that I may have interrupted the capture of 'El Gecko' the most infamous people trafficker in Western Europe. I hardly think it's my fault that he looks like me but apparently I'm due in court on the 24th for perverting the course of justice.

It's been a tough day. Still, as my zooiphilic great-aunt used to say 'keep your pecker up' before mounting Henry, my family's African Bull Elephant.

I can only hope that tomorrow is easier...

12 Apr 2010

Join the Party

After too many years of being under the thumb of INGSOC we have an opportunity to change the face of Britain. Leader Bot Brown has finally called a general election and change is called for. We can change. Change, change, change.

With change.

However there is a problem. Change is hard to achieve with parties that are, in essence, identi-fit airfix models of one another. As a fully paid up member of the British democratic system I find this truly untenable.

Time has come my brothers and sisters (and hermaphrodites) to look to a new leader. One with drive, determination and stunning facial hair. One who can take this once great nation and turn it great again. Someone with an understanding of words and stuff. A humble person who desires nothing more than the betterment of the lot of the average family/cohabiting partners/individuals who live on their own (or possibly even in a flat share arrangement with a couple of friends - they may have a girlfriend/boyfriend but haven't taken the decision to move in with each other. That's cool too.)

'But Duke' I hear you cry 'who is this inspirational, sexy and hirsute leader that we have only just heard of'.

Well, it is I. I, Duke Fandango hereby announce the formation of a radical new force in the gambit of British Politics. The Neo-Post-Anti-Pro-Social Liberal Party

Unlike some political parties I could mention I have actually thought of some policies that I feel will help the average person in the street. And at home. And in their car. Even at work.

As such, here I will submit the party's manifesto for the upcoming election.


We believe that being healthy is important. As a consequence of this breakthrough in thinking we propose that there should be a cut off point for an individual's BMI. If that person goes over a set limit they will be forced to provide community service by becoming rickshaw drivers in our inner cities. This will have the double benefit of making fatties lose weight and will help reduce congestion as well as our carbon footprint. Win, win, win.

Doctors and Nurses do a great job however, there are times when they accidentally let people die for no good reason. To stop this from happening too often we will instigate a policy of having those in the medical profession followed by a camera crew 24 hours a day. Any fuck-up will be broadcast in high-definition on Five. The public will be able to vote out 'Killer Carers' once a week using the premium rate phone number. The money generated from this will be plowed back into the NHS.


We believe that being educated is important. However, recent Government policy has led to a nation of barely literate cretins. I mean, the 'Three Rs' only includes one 'R'. It's this kind of woolly thinking that has destroyed pupil attainment in schools.

Radical changes that we would bring in include (but are not limited to):

Making sure kids can actually read and write by the age of 11. We would do this by...well...teaching them how to read and write. It's not fucking rocket science, is it now.

Parents also have to attend detentions with their kids. Yeah, Jimmy's constant fucking around in class isn't so funny now you have to take the afternoon off work.

OFSTED inspectors have to actually live the life of a pupil in the school they are inspecting. This will include staying up to 3am playing Call of Duty, listening to parental rows through thin chip-board walls and avoiding being 'shanked' by a rival gang. If the HMI can then perform to their best the day after then fair play. It may make them realise that social issues play a bigger part on a child's education than the current thinking allows.

We promise to stop fucking about with education like it's out electoral prison bitch. Rather than overload already harassed teaching staff with fifteen separate initiative a day we will give them a bit of respect. And a pay rise. And a person to give them a hug (two for NQTs - let's be fair, they need it more).

Foreign Policy

We believe that having a foreign policy is important. Other countries tend to laugh at you if you don't have one. A bit like wearing school uniform on a non-uniform day. You'd never live it down.

All conflicts will be fought using a new breed of fighting force. The over 65s. They constantly harp on about how great national service was - well, time to put your money where your mouth is gramps. I also believe that giving an elderly person a gun and telling them to kill foreigners is the best possible use for a generation of ingrained racists. Other benefits include taking the burden of looking after the elderly off of the shoulders of their families, they're almost dead anyway so will accept suicidal missions and the Army will ensure they have not only hot food but regular showers. This can only be a good thing.

However, we feel that force should only be used only as a last resort. So, before we commit our Elderly Elite Killer Battalions we would attempt to reach a peaceful conclusion to any international issues. To this end we would have a slumber party with the prospective belligerents where we would read magazines, do each other's hair and make-up and talk about boys. Hopefully by day break we would have bonded over a late night game of 'I have Never' and be BFFs forever.

This is not to say that Britain will become a soft-touch. We will advise our diplomats to use the phrase 'yer mum' in any difficult negotiations. If this fails to have the desired effect then screaming 'come and have a go, if you think you're hard enough' into the opponent's face, followed by the diplomat breaking a glass bottle on the edge of a table will be the recommended course of action.

Sports and Culture

We believe that sports and culture are really important. We've had enough of the international community looking on us as the fat kid that is always chosen last to take part in sports. No longer will the UK have to sit on the bench. Or be the referee because the PE teacher can't be arsed to take part.

As such there will a special test for all 4 year olds to see if they have any aptitude in throwing, catching and running. For those who do we propose setting up sports schools where pupils are only taught about sports. Once this new social class of Uber-Athletes (above the upper class, below aristocracy) have nobbed the rest of the world at every sporting event they will then become the trainers for the next generation. Once the retirement age of 65 arrives they will go on to provide the back-bone of the military. It's this kind of joined up thinking that separates us from the other political parties.

Culture seems to be doing okay. Although we propose to fire Tracey Emin into the heart of the sun. Nobody cares who you slept with you horse-faced abuser of tents. Fuck off.

Community Cohesion

We believe that the community and how cohesive it is is very important. This is because we all live in a community. Sometimes this community is dispersed. Whereas it should be cohesive. Like jam on toast. In recent years Britain has had issues with having a sticky group of people. We have two main policy areas that we believe will help us to become a bit more cohesive as a community.

Tickle a Total Stranger. This policy is designed to create goodwill amongst all people. At the hours of 11am and 5pm every member of the public will be forced to go outside, introduce themselves to a complete stranger then give them a tickle. This would help to break down barriers between different social groups as it's very difficult to hold a grudge against someone who who've had rolling on the floor crying 'stop it..hehehe...no...hehehe...arrrggghh...hehehe...'.

Together We Are Tremendously Strong.
Or TWATS for short will be a programme where we encourage people to return to the blitz spirit. To this end we will be running bombing raids on major towns and cities throughout the night. People will bond in their hastily constructed Anderson shelters drinking ration tea and singing Lady Gaga a cappella in four-part harmony (T-Telephone...*BOOM*...T-T-T-Telephone...*CRASH*)

The Economy

We believe that the economy is really fucking important. Currently it is right up the shitter. We suggest the adoption of the Monopoly Trading system. When people drive their cars over a certain square they will be taxed £200, other squares will give people £200 in tax credits. There will also be system of chance cards delivered at random throughout the life of the government. These will cover things such as dental bills, beauty competitions and maintenance of houses and hotels.

All bankers will be forced to dress like Victorian business men. This will allow the general public to spot the money-grubbing bastards a mile off.

Law and Order

We believe that law and order is super-duper important. We want a return to bobbies on the beat and not even in a sexual way. Police will therefore be trained in how to be human statues, those women who give you a ticket outside of changing rooms in shops and charity collectors on the high street. With these three strategic areas covered crime will fall exponentially. This will also reduce the need for blanket CCTV coverage which will save loads of money that can be spent of other policies/my salary.

Parliamentary Reform

We believe that the reformation of parliament is so important that if we did nothing about it our eye balls would implode out of sheer incredulity. We believe in straight talking, no nonsense politicians. After years of dicked around by wax-work, PR trained, facsimiles of real people the country has had enough. We would pursue the adoption of the 'three strikes and you're out' method of asking a politician a question. If they haven't given a straight 'yes' or 'no' response to a simple question they have their patellas removed and turned into canastas before being forced to listen to a Flamenco version of 'Flight of the Bumblebee' played using their knee caps for 12 hours solid. Take that you slimy bastards.

With these crucial policies in place it can only be a matter of time before we knock this beleaguered country into shape. I reckon we can show Obama a thing or two about change.

All hail the revolution!

The Neo-Post-Anti-Pro-Social Liberal Party.


If you think that you can help the NPAPSL Party win in your area, even if you aren't British, don't live in Britain or haven't even visited this fine nation, please get in contact - a comment is a sign of support.

10 Apr 2010

I'd be a Terrible Parent...Thanks for Asking.

Teenagers smell.

This may not come as a surprise to any of you but I have just had experience of sitting on a coach for 23 hours with 42 of the little treasures.

Currently, I've had two baths, shaved my entire body and double washed my clothes just to get the heady mix of body odor and Lynx Africa out of my system. My nostrils are saturated with the honk of feet and I doubt I'll be able to smell properly for the next three weeks. The coach was close to having a special committee formed at The Hague to see if it was in fact a basic yet effective form of biological weaponry. I'm surprised customs let us through (although I'm glad, from an animal welfare point of view, that a sniffer dog wasn't used - the poor bastard would have spontaneously combusted).

I didn't put myself into this situation for no reason. We were returning from Switzerland (home of Heidi, Chocolate and Nazi Gold) where we had taken the kids on the school ski trip. As one of the two trip leaders I was directly responsible for the well being of the kids.

For the first time in my life I felt what it was to be a parent. The kids even started calling me 'Papa Fandango'. I'll be honest with you - I hated it.

I have never been so emotionally, mentally and physically shattered in all my life. I've bandaged feet (urrghh), looked after sick kids, raced to accidents on skis (actually, that was quite fun), doled out encouragement and bollockings as required, made sure that kids were asleep on time, made sure they had all their things (what do you mean I need a hat on to go skiing on a glacier?), checked their rooms were tidy, sorted out squabbles and falling outs, cheered up grumpy kiddy-winks, dealt with homesickness, travel sickness, nut allergies and Hindu children being given veal for dinner (the hotelier said 'It's not beef, it's veal' and it took some time to convince them - in my piss poor French - that veal happens to be baby cows).

I realised that I'm okay doing this for a week. Maybe two. Possibly three, tops. Anymore and I think I'd either physically lash out when asked 'Do you know what's for dinner' for the eighteenth time or just start drinking at 11 in the morning letting the whole horrific experience wash over me in an alcoholic haze.

It has made me reach a conclusion. I'd be a rubbish parent. I like kids, a lot. Hell, I work with them on a daily basis. The crucial point however, is that I usually get to give the children back at the end of the day. I don't have to worry about where they are going or what time they will be back, who they are going with, are they being safe, are they taking drugs? God no, not drugs! It'll be a short hop from here to prostitution and then they'll be dead in a skip by the age of 23 riddled with bullet holes all because of an altercation with a dealer.

You see, I'm too emotionally immature to look after another human being. It's hard enough to look after myself. I can barely get ready in the mornings without asking the Duchess where at least three items are. My routine is like this:

It's six o'clock and you're listening to the Today Sh...

*Hit snooze*

It's ten past six...

*Hit snooze*

Time now is six twenty and the markets were fairly steady overnight with...

*Hit snooze*

...ix thirty and the headlines again. Politicians do dirty deeds done cheap...


Arise slumber like from my duvet sarcophagus. Stumble sleepily to bathroom. Scratch balls. Run bath. Reach for shampoo.

'Hun, where is the shampoo?'
'On the side.'
'No it isn't.'
(under breath) 'Fucking retard' (aloud) 'yes it is, next to the shower gel'.
'Got it'.

twenty minutes later

'Have you seen my brown tie?'
'Is it on the tie rack?'
'Do you really think I'm that stupid that I didn't check the tie rack first?'
'Fine, I'll check. Oh look at that - it's on the tie rack.'
'I swear it wasn't there a minute ago.'
'Must be that tie delivering eagle that I recently invested in.'
'Woah! We have a tie delivering eagle now? Sweet!'
'Were you starved of oxygen at birth?'

ten minutes later

'For fuck's sake...'
'What is it now, Duke?'
'Where the fuck are my car keys?'
'In your hand.'

Now add in having to look after a baby as well? No thanks. I'm sure I'd be the sort of parent that keeps social services on their toes. Not through malicious intent, just because of my lackadaisical approach to life. If I did have a kid the conversation would probably run like this.

'Where's Ryu?'
'For the last time Duke, the baby's name is James - I allowed you to put three names into the running and you chose 'Ryu', 'Sub-Zero' and 'Zool' none of which are real names for real people so were laughingly discounted out of hand.
'James is a gay name.'
'So is 'Ryu'.'
'Fine. Have it your way. Where is James?'
'You had him literally thirty seconds ago.'
'Yeah, I was teaching him how to do a Haiduken.'
'And where was this?'
'In the bathroom - I was using the toaster to create the special effects...'HAIDUKEN!'
'You wha...oh fuck!'

Maybe one day I'll grow up. Maybe one day I'll say 'I want to increase the population by a few'. Maybe one day I'll stop making aeroplane noises and reenacting the space battle scene from Return of the Jedi in the bath (I use the sponge as the Star Destroyer bridge and a bar of soap for the A-Wing 'Shields Up!' BOOM!)

Will I actually change? Probably not.

I don't care really. Being immature is far too much fun.