SCARED OF FLYING? HERE ARE SOME TIPS I’VE HALF REMEMBERED TO PUT YOU AT EASE

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This Friday I take the longest flight I’ve ever been on. A whole eight hours. Yeah, that’s right. Eight.

Now, this might not seem long to you air-hardened sheeple, but I’m here to tell you… It is. (Ooh)

Yes, I am the man who, from the age of eleven, didn’t fly for a decade. These are often referred to as your ‘peak’ flying years, because you weigh less and that means the plane can take off easier. But now I have fattened and own heavier clothes I dread to think what an ordeal this must be for the airline.

I suppose my dislike of flying is based around two things. Death and death by aeroplane. I’m assuming in a past life I died, which explains that fear. The aeroplanes? I have no idea. Sure, I’ve never much liked heights or men who drive in hats (or ‘pilots’).

…Also in late 2001 I worked myself up so much my whole family had to disembark a Ryanair flight before it took off because I was convinced I was going to die. But that’s probably not important.

I assumed I’d never fly again. But aged 22 I realised I would maybe like to see more than what lies at the extremes of Abellio Greater Anglia’s railway tracks. So, I took a fear of flying course at Leeds Bradford airport. And… it worked!

I have flown several times since. But these have been so short you barely even notice them being terrifying. I hope I can be as calm when I fly transatlantic. Especially as, since I went on the course, I’ve forgotten basically all of what they taught me.

So next time you’re scared, just stay calm and remember the words of advice I so clearly haven’t.

1. There is a formula which explains why we stay in the air. … I cannot remember it

The day began at 8am (ugh, I’ve spent eleven years not flying, I can wait another three hours…). The organisers began by sitting us 50 spooked so-and-so’s down to a presentation telling us in simple terms why air travel is safe. How do they think these things up?!

Anyway, basically, if you’re scared about falling out of the sky (which I was) planes take off, stay in the air and land because of maths. What maths, who knows. But chances are it has an x in it.

2. Planes are incredibly well regulated. Probably.

Soon after, we were spoken to by a charismatic pilot whose name I can’t remember (let’s call him Captain Dom). Captain Dom told us how all pilots and planes are tested rigorously and regularly. I’m assuming this extends beyond the immediate Leeds/Bradford area. But just in case, if you live outside of there, even as close as Harrogate, frankly I wouldn’t risk it.

3. Captain Dom commanded the respect of all who knew him

There was a real authority to Captain Dom. He wore a uniform, had a powerful moustache that made Tom Selleck look like a pussy war deserter and when he walked in the room, the air stewards present honestly stood up and kissed him. It was the kind of respect you couldn’t dream of if you’d crashed a plane or two.

So if you don’t trust me, trust a man I think was called Dom.

4. There are several breathing exercises to calm you

Some psychologists taught us these. But I’ll be honest I zoned out at this bit. Breathe in… Great. Oh I wonder what’s next? I can breathe in my own time.

5. Captain Dom’s moustache masked a wry smile

I cannot emphasise enough how impressive Captain Dom’s moustache was. It bred confidence. Flying’s one of those pursuits where it’s pretty much all about confidence. That, as well as formal training and being able to resist man’s innate urge to fly the plane into the sun. But mainly the confidence bit.

6. For lunch we had lasagne

… But I was too nervous to eat it. I don’t think I’m alone in being unable to eat lasagne when I’m nervous. Sure, Garfield can, but was Garfield lying awake at night worried about an 8am flight to Marseille? No. He was too busy being an orange dick.

Aside from eating, when nervous I also can’t focus, breathe or cartwheel (nor can I at any time). But anyway, I’m sure the spread was lovely.

7. The woman who sat next to me on the plane dealt with honey or something

So to the air! Yes, after lunch we were actually taken on a short flight. I was beyond nervous.

On the plane I sat next to an elderly lady. She was very nice and I think she owned bees or something. Either way we talked about honey a lot so let’s hope so. And despite being petrified I realised I had to be brave for honey lady. I held her hand as we took off. I comforted her as she almost cried. And as we landed we looked at each other as if to say ‘we did it’. Then we actually said ‘we did it’. This isn’t The Artist. But it really was an amazing moment and we shared a special connection that will never leave me.

Now I think about it maybe she made jam.

8. The volunteer girl I liked had a boyfriend

We landed. Wow. What I had assumed impossible wasn’t. And there was one girl my age to share the moment with – a volunteer. I thought now that I’d shown myself to be brave and not shouted too many obscenities at the sky (I didn’t say none) that she’d probably marry me there and then. But she mentioned something about a boyfriend which is both rude and unprofessional in such an environment (that environment being one where I didn’t want that to be the case).

Yes, I had gotten over a life crippling disorder which took great courage to overcome. Yes I stole some of Captain Dom’s moustache and keep it under my pillow in the hope it’ll entice my own moustache out. But I didn’t get the girl. I tried to console myself by saying hey two out of three ain’t bad. But I wanted all three so tbh I was disappointed.

Unfortunately this undid a lot of the hard work and became yet another reason for me to hate airports and, to a lesser extent, women. But I guess that’s another blog.

Oh and if you haven’t breathed out yet, do that. My bad.

 

Sketchez

Hey gang!

I’ve uploaded some sketches I’ve written over the years to Soundcloud. Yes! Remember how much you loved those topical sketches when the stories were actually relevant? Well think how much you’ll love them two years later! Did someone say Kingsland Road??!

Here are the individual lulz broken down…

0.00 – Newsjack Series 9 Episode 4
2.02 – Ayres on the Air Series 5 Episode 1 (Home)
4.46 – Dead Ringers Series 13 Episode 2
6.41 – Newsjack Series 9 Episode 1
8.27 – Newsjack Series 11 Episode 5 (with Jack Bernhardt)
10.25 – Dead Ringers Series 14 Episode 1
11.33 – Newsjack Series 9 Episode 3
12.47 – Dead Ringers Series 15 Episode 2
13.41 – Newsjack Series 9 Episode 3

… Also I own none of this. So if you tell anyone I do that makes you a liar. No sir – this is the prized possession of her majesty’s BBC.

Mwah.

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I too was caught out by a Tinder bot… Then I married her!

We’ve all been there. Swipe right on the girl of your dreams, only to get the dreaded ‘come see my private website’ message. Block. Delete. Same drill every time. Until, one day, for whatever reason, I didn’t. And it turns out it was the best decision I ever made.

You see, I thought I had my life figured out. Play with Tinder in my early 20s, repent in my mid-20s, then meet the love of my life in my late 20s the old fashioned way – at a farmer’s market. Just like everyone’s parents. But the thing is life doesn’t care about your plan. Or your tomato plants (I learned a lot of important lessons that weekend).

Classic bot

A typical bot

One May evening, amidst a particularly frantic Tinder session which left my index finger looking like I caught a sausage in a mangle, I found her. The crispy duck pancake of the Tinder buffet. ‘Congratulations! You have a new match’, said Tinder in a celebratory mood.

And what a match!

‘Ella, 23’. Tall and elegant, she was more beautiful than anyone I’d matched with before. Porcelain beautiful. Like a limited-edition Kate Upton plate. So I bucked up the courage to say hello.

‘Hey, go easy on the beauty there, beautiful,’ I quipped clumsily, ‘otherwise everyone will want some’. Because I wanted to sound flirty and funny, but I think I just got confused with some waiter waiter joke I’d heard.

What an idiot! No way this beautiful, sophisticated, intelligent woman (there was a DVD copy of Troy behind her in one picture) would respond to that.

Well, luckily, I was wrong. ‘Ella messaged you’ flirted my phone. And another! It was her! ‘Hey handsome’, she acknowledged. ‘Want to see more pictures? Come to hottinderdates.gl for more ;)’.

An unconventional chat-up line I thought. But still, how do you misread that? She was totally into me. It had taken me three dates MINIMUM to get a girl’s personal site before.

Things started slow. At first she didn’t really respond in kind to my questions. I’d ask her how she was, she’d write something unintelligible ending with ‘naughty’. I’d ask if she liked the films of Colin Farrell, she said she was ‘soooooooo’ (eight o’s) horny. I told her she had the most beautiful eyes I’d ever seen. She just sent me a link which wrote off my entire computer. But I liked that about her. I didn’t care that it wasn’t conventional. Who wants ordinary? Not me. I’m used to luxury. I’ve been to three different Centre Parks.

My friends all told me it was a scam. That she was just using me for money. But hey, I told them, what’s the difference between that and any girlfriend, AM I RIGHT GUYS? …I do think she’s cloned my credit card though, so they’re not entirely wrong.

Nice try Vicky…

Soon I had fallen in love. I felt like I was getting to know the real her. My friends tracked her IP address and said the ‘real’ her was most likely a 46 year-old, ex-con in Guatemala. But it didn’t bother me. She could be a 48 year-old ex-con in Guatemala for all I care. I was in love regardless. 49 at a push.

I finally popped the question. ‘Will you marry me, Ella?’ She responded in that typically ‘Ella’ way, ‘I’m waiting on webcam, come join me!’ Oh Ella! You’ve made me the happiest man within a 38km radius!

That night we made love seven to eight times. People have asked me how we do this and, yes, it’s complicated, but as Jurassic Park taught us ‘nature finds a way’. People tell me I use Jurassic Park quotes to explain complicated issues too much, but to them I say ‘Rawwwwrrr, Velociraptor!’

We married in the most beautiful wedding ceremony you could imagine. Because I can’t be bothered to describe it.

That’s the thing when you meet the love of your life. All of a sudden you don’t have time for trivial things like blog entries or inoculations. You just want to spend all of your time with your beloved. And that’s what she is.

I don’t care if my friends call her ‘robobride’, ‘botface’ or ‘the old ball and robot’. She’s my bot, forever. And I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with her and our baby bots (Ro-becca and Small Alan).

And if you think it’s wrong then, hey, you know which way to swipe!

Thanks to Matthew Brazier Illustration, @matthew_brazier, for the illustration

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Writers Room

Me

Hey! Who’s this kid making the BBC Writers Room homepage all handsome? JK, it’s me. Please read the blog here, here or here if you fancy. (Not here).

I basically wrote it just to grieve my cat. But if that’s in any way useful or interesting or whatever to you then super!

lulz

‘Mums are’ – A beautiful Mother’s Day poem

Mums are special, Mums are kind.

Mums are loving, Mums are nice.

Mums are left, Mums are right.

Mums are 4x+6=12, solve for x.

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Mums are :S, Mums are #

Mums are Jefferson Airplane but not Jefferson Starship.

Mums are both the oar and the oarsman.

Mums can live in groups of over 40, usually found in the forests of Costa Rica.

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Mums are that feeling when you think your phone’s gone off, but it hasn’t, but you get your phone out anyway and check it and just end up disappointed.

Mums are two games away from the big final. Go mums!

Mums are a British actor born in 1920, best known for his portrayal of the bumbling Corporal Jones.

Mums are don’t use your horn past six and never more than thirty in a built up area.

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Mums are both three AND minus three, but you’ll probably get the marks for either answer as long as you show your workings.

Mums are a bold and assertive flavour that has the potential to overwhelm light and delicate dishes.

Mums are

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CLASSIC CAR Review No. 1

Hello. And sorry. I haven’t been on here in a while.

But for good reason! Since I last blogged I’ve been taking Colin Summerbee’s twenty-two month intensive CLASSIC CARS journalism course. Classic Cars have always been a great passion of mine. And after a truly memorable graduation ceremony in the former Reg Vardy showrooms, Sunderland, I am delighted to announce I am now a fully qualified Classic Car journalist!

I know this career change may surprise some, but I’m really excited to finally be following my dreams, and sincerely hope to be able add to the genre’s rich literary traditions with my own reviews. Starting with this – my personal favourite CLASSIC CAR. Thank you.

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WHITE CAR

White car

THE STATS

Colour? White.

Gears? Yes.

The first thing that struck me when I saw this CLASSIC CAR was White. And it is white. But it’s not just white that really makes this bad boy a real bang for your dollar. This car’s got the everything to really make your engines rev to fifty! Forecourt. Premium unleaded.

Seats. Check. AM/FM radio. Uhhuh. Gear stick with numbers? You better believe it. This car is truly a one hundred miles per hour. Vroom.

And if you like your cars white, then strap in ‘coz it’s about to get bumpy. She’s a real, bona fide, CLASSIC white–white. With a white finish.

Just wait til you get this little number on the open range! Because this white cars got plenty in her pocket. Beyond looking like a BITCH TO MAKE YOUR MOMMA PROUD on the driveway.

White car: Side

The car drives whatever the speed (although I only reached thirty two of them) and comes fully loaded with all the windows you could ever want to open. Get your motor running. Heavy plants crossing. And it’s white.

This baby purrs like an otter* and that is what people want from cars. That and crash safety, and I am assured this bad boy has both. You’ll feel like a minor royal in the hotseat. And I didn’t fall out once.

Believe me, this drive and go machine ain’t for the faint of hearted!

Overall: This is probably the best car I have ever had the pleasure of stepping foot on. Elegant, well-mannered and white. Very white. You won’t regret being seen on the track in this one jot.

VERDICT – CLASSIC CAR

WHAT THE DEALERSHIP WON’T TELL YOU: Be careful! You must have driving certification, or ‘a licence’, to drive this particular car. As I found out to significant distress.

*Check otters purr and the one at Whipsnade wasn’t dying.

Cars

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Dog Gone

I thought I had Pitbull sussed, as this hilarious, vintage tweet suggests…


Classic jbugg89

However, I’m not afraid to admit sometimes I’m wrong. And that maybe there is more than meets the eye about the little scamp, other than the inevitable blinding gleam off of his forehead. Recently I’ve heard the below track a lot – A Pitbull-free mix of the Pitbull feat. Ne-Yo anthem ‘Give Me Everything’, which cuts the rapper out entirely. I’ve heard it in the gym. I’ve heard it in my car. One time I’m pretty sure I heard it in the background of The Shipping Forecast.

Pretty innocuous to most. Not me, however. First of all I’m troubled by the idea that you can rid of the person whose track it is the other musician is guesting in. That’s not allowed. That’s like getting the disciples to follow around Peter for a week. Or, in a musical sense, imagine if you got rid of Will.I.Am from this track ‘feat’ Cheryl Cole. That’s barely a couplet, let alone a song.

But more worryingly is the idea that the song has to be reduced to something so empty just because, presumably, a mainstream audience is too intimidated by the raw sexuality of Pitbull. So, I tried to imagine a world without Pitbull. I tried to imagine a world without Emeli Sande, but that turned out to actually be impossible. I might as well try and imagine a world without depth or chairs or something.

… Here goes…

The year is 2020. Pitbull has been struck from the records. The reason isn’t important, but let’s just say he finally did what he’s been edging closer and closer to in his misogynstic videos and ate a female extra.

Feeding time

The world is a very different place to the fancy-free Earth we knew in 2011, when ‘Give Me Everything’ aired for all to hear in it’s beautiful entirety. Things are much more bleak. All the crops have died out, because world leaders are no longer able to queue up and kiss Pitbull’s golden forehead for luck and a bountiful harvest (a sacred and superstitious ceremony, hence the lack of photographic evidence). The world is hungry. Places where people were already hungry are even hungrier. Really hungry, guys.

But what’s worse is brutal honesty in music, and pop culture in general, is gone. No more are lyrics such as ‘If you slip, I’m gonna fall on top of your girl’ or even the tear-jerking ‘But tonight, I can make you my queen, And make love to you endless’. These disappeared with Pitbull. The world’s too afraid of anything which could be construed as ‘suggestive’. It’s been with us through Shakespeare to Are You Being Served. But it’s all gone now. All we get are Last of the Summer Wine repeats and raps which sound like they’ve been written by former Archbishop Rowan Williams.

Method Man’s had to come out on Blue Peter to apologise for the lyric ‘my junk’s circling round and round your hotpoint’. His career is killed. Even though it turns out he was just rapping about a washing machine.

Not only is there no sex in the media, there’s no sex in life. No one is having sex. Because no one is telling them to. Everyone’s afraid, especially the media. Afraid of the painful memories, eager never to repeat them. Afraid of the occasionally-Spanish-for-no-apparent-reason, filthy undertones that music used to contain. We’ve moved beyond that. And we’ve moved beyond sex. Sure, there’s no food, no artistic freedom and little to no chance of further generations, but at least we don’t have sexy raps. They’re gone. We just have Ne-Yo and his jaunty hats and forty to fifty seconds of backing track masquerading as music. And we’ve evolved.

… Is this a world you want to live in? Then be careful before you censor Pitbull. Because it’s either Pitbull sleeps with everyone, or no one sleeps with anyone. That’s the world we’ve created. There is no middle ground.

Method Man's dream
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Critical Response Response

With my blog posts proving to be about as relevant as The Charleston, Charlton Heston or Charlton Athletic (my brain refuses to stray from the very specific ‘Charl’ examples category today), I thought now, three months since my last post, would be a pretty good time to release a new one.

Hipsters

‘There are too many words in this blog lately’ said one critic (me). ‘We need more photos!’ (also me).

… Unlike most ‘credible’ artists, I actually care about what these critics say. And so, after a particularly lonely focus group session, below are some pictures.

Brief context (if you will)

Having recently inherited a pen, I decided to try and record something fun in a blue book (not a diary) every day for all of 2013 to keep my brain active. That lasted precisely 21 days – which was surprisingly long for someone with the attention span of Charlie Dimmock (does she have a short attention span? I think we’re going to need to branch out, brain). It’s also long enough to realise it’s nigh-on impossible to do such things without encroaching upon Demetri Martin territory. But here are a few of the fun entries which didn’t make me want to rip up and psychologically undermine my blue non-diary (RIP) anyway.

NB. Unfortunately I didn’t inherit a scanner, so I had to go all old-school like Charlie Chaplin (seriously?) and take photos.

Charlie Dimmock

War Letters

June 3rd, 1942

Dearest Gloria,

Every day I am at war I am in pain. And usually this is because I am missing you.

Each minute I cannot hold you in my arms is another gunshot to the heart (don’t worry, metaphor). And all I have to remind me of why I’m fighting this damned war is a tiny, yet treasured, photograph of your angelic face.

… Which brings me to the photograph. Do you think you could send me another one? I was playing rummy with some of the boys in camp yesterday. To cut a long story short, we (read, I) got a bit carried away with the gambling element and I ended up losing my photograph of you to Corporal McCartney.

I don’t think he’ll do anything sordid with it (I hope not anyway, we bunk together). But the photographs here mean a bit more than just a picture. I doubt he will go so far as to claim you, but ‘technically’ you are his property now.

I wouldn’t worry though. He’s frontline and pretty cross-eyed. Also, we’ve got another game soon, and I’ve been feeling lucky since I found a Reichsmark in my shoe this morning. So I’ll win you back.

Look forward to the new snap!

All my love,

Jimmy

June 24th 1942

Dear Ms. Crickett.

Sorry the last letter came through to you. Got a lot on my mind here, what with the war and that, and I forgot you, not Gloria, lived at number thirty-two. Thanks for passing on the letter to her.

Also, thanks for the photograph you sent. I appreciate your concern. You’re… erm… very flexible for someone of your age. I’m sure you can still make a man… closer to your age very happy. Either way, I shall treasure the photo. I just maybe won’t display it as prominently.

Gotta go now. Big rummy match to get to.

Warm wishes,

Corporal Jimmy Tucker

P.S. Thanks for the Shepherd’s Pie. Think it lost a bit of something in the ten days it takes for mail to send. But nonetheless, much appreciated.

June 25 1942

Darling Gloria,

Hopefully my letter has found you now. I still miss you like I would a kidney (Coventry said that’d be romantic – I’m not so sure it is).

Bad news. Turns out I’m not good at rummy. Apparently McCartney has every intention of claiming ‘his booty’ (who says that?) and he’s got some people to pick you up in the morning. Dick. Might be best to hide and wait til I find my rummy form. I’m getting the hang of it!

With romantic alarm,

Jimmy

June 26 1942

Ms. Crickett,

Any chance of another photo?

Jim

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