Thursday, 21 October 2010

Times I Should Have Died. Part 1

Looking back on my youth, it has often occurred to me that I was incredibly fortunate to reach adulthood.  I can list countless times where I have been close to death and only survived through sheer dumb luck and a very flexible skeletal structure.

Being a typical young lad growing up in the mountain and fields of South Wales, it provides you with an almost limitless playground on which to grow, learn and cut your head open in a million different ways. 

All of the situations that follow are merely a taste of my dance with death down the years.  This is the first part in a 27 part series that shall look at the reapers failed attempts to claim my soul.

We open up on a young me, just 5 years old.  I am standing with my father on the side of a busy road on a sunny Saturday afternoon as we wait for my mother to return from the store on the other side of the road with the shopping.

My mother appears from the store and waits for the traffic to clear so she can cross and join us.  At this point neither my mother or father have any idea what they are about to witness.

From across the road I see a familiar figure….

She sees me and waves hello.  Unknowingly unleashing the first in a long line of horrific attempts on my life by the universe. 

I mistake her waves of greating as waves of beckoning.  A mistake that i'm sure we have all made at some point. Freeing myself for the shackles of my father I run at full speed into the oncoming traffic.  My mother had called me and I didn't intend to let her down.

I then played the most serious and final game of Frogger ever undertaken by man and ran through the quickly moving traffic with nary a log in sight.  My epic froggering ability is still talked about during family gathering, which is ironic considering that I was only ever given a Space Invaders console as a child.

Being a helpful and respectful child, I was often happy to do the vacuuming for my parents.  Partly because I liked a clean house, but also because I could make racing car noises with the vacuum cleaner engine.

Back in the 80s we used an old Hoover that had been patched together and fixed up more times than I care to remember.  This particular Hoover was held together by lots sticky tape and no small amount of “hope”. 

Racing around the living room, pretending that my Hoover was taking a hair-pin bend at Le-Mans, I may have slightly over exerted the machines capabilities.  It is slightly difficult for a child of 8 to figure out that a racing car and vacuum cleaner do not really behave in the same manner, so when the engine cut out with just 3 laps to go, I trundled into the pits to try and figure out what went wrong.

Playing the part of “Bert” the old, but wise mechanic, I was able to ascertain that a tear in the Hoover’s power line had stopped me winning the race.  Or to put it in layman’s terms, the sticky tape holding the electric cable together had pulled apart.

Eager to get back into the race as soon as possible I picked up the live, sheared wire and peered down into the sparkling wattage of death!  How exactly could I reattach this back to the Hoover and continue my race?  Thankfully my amateur repairs were halted when my mother walked into the living room and saw that I was about to put a thousands volts through my body and turned it off at the mains.  

Two things died that day, my love of cleaning anything and ol' Bert (he had AIDS).  However I still maintain that I was cheated out of my epic race victory.  So close! 

During one of my many trips out with my childhood chums, we cycled to the charming town of Llanwonno via Blaenllechau.  This doesn’t really have any baring on the story, but I just like the idea of non Welsh people trying to pronounce those names. 

Upon arriving we set-up camp on top of a hill, next to the river.  Relaxing and taking in the mountain air, to our delight we found that someone had attached a rope swing to a tree on top of the hill. 

Yes, there was quite a big drop on the other side of the hill, but providing you were not some kind of crazy idiot, the dangers were quite minimal.  However a series of events conspired during my turn on the swing that I have yet to fully explain to this day.

I started my swing outwards.  It was a thing of beauty.  I had taken quite a run up in order to achieve maximum height and speed on my swing.  My technique and form were flawless.  I was an angel in flight, swinging outwards with all the skill and finese of a child abandoned in the jungle and raised by monkeys.   

This is where things get a little hazy.  So thrilled and amazed by my own swinging ability I did something that still refuses to make sense even today.  I let go of the rope….

I felt such freedom and exhilaration that my young mind was unable to properly process all of the emotions that I felt for that split seconds.  I honestly believe that at that point I had become convinced that I had either entered into a perfect state of Zen or had somehow gained access to some hidden mutant super power that had unlocked my ability for human flight.  I stood motionless in mid-air.  All around me the world stopped beating, my mind raced with questions.  What would my superhero name be? (It was “The Scarlet Dragon” by the way) Would scientists hunt me in order to gain the secrets of my superhuman ability for flight?  Do I have any other powers?

I looked down on the earth below and laughed.  Gravity would no longer have dominion over me.  For I was The Scarlet Dragon and I was a GOD!

Then something unexpected happened.  I started to fall…

And fall I did.  I crashed down some 20 feet onto jagged rocks and earth head first.  Perhaps I did gain access to a superpower that day.  The superpower of realising that people can't fly!

The Scarlet Dragon died that day, but sometimes when I’m walking down the stairs or jumping off something, I can still feel within me the power to defy gravity and soar with the birds!  But the thought of being in a wheel chair for the rest of my life sadly prevents me from testing this theory again…

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Twilight Saga, Eclipse -s my will to Live

When I first watched Twilight in 2008, I did so because my brother told me it was actually quite good but mainly because it had vampires in it.

Honestly, it's really good.  Its Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants good!
Never one to pass up the chance to crumble under the weight of society’s peer-pressure I sat down to watch it on DVD a few months after it had been in cinemas and had created a massive popular cultural movement amongst its fan base.

Yay Vampires!  Its impossible to make Vampires boring and uncool.

1 hour in:  Nothing much is happening...  But i'm sure things will pick up soon.

2 hours in:  I'm so bored!  He climbed a tree and thats it.  KILL ME!  TAKE AWAY THE PAIN.
It’s hard to say just how stupid and sucky Twilight actually was.  As far as I could tell, these creatures (The Cullen family) were vampire in name only.  Every single vampire law had been changed or written out completely in order to fit in with the author’s vision.  It does of course beg the question, why call them vampires to start with, why not create your own, new supernatural beings that you can attribute any powers to without going against the long established rules of a vampirism?

As bad as I thought Twilight was, I was pretty sure it couldn’t get any worse.  2 hours of looking at each other and running around in the forest.  It couldn't get any worse than that could it?  I honestly believe that Twilight is the worst thing in the history of the world ever. 

That was what I thought until I saw New Moon.

After 2 years, the pain begins to fade and you begin to think that maybe all these “Twi-hards” might like this crap for a reason.  So on a dark, rainy, dull Monday evening, I saw New Moon looking out from your monitor as I scaned movie titles for something to watch.  Can’t be that bad right?  Can’t be any worse than the first movie??

How wrong I was.

I've forgotten what suffering and pain feel like.  I think it felt like orange peel.
I settled in and immediately started to regret my decision to watch this junk.  A 30 year old man plays a 17 year old boy who is actually a 100 year old vampire.  The creepy old git gets it on with a real 17 year old girl in what can only be described as the world’s first Paedophile/Necrophilia relationship.

Ewww!  Not so sexy and cool now is it.
All this would be bad enough but ol’ man Edward soon leaves the movie after throwing his girlfriend through a glass table in order to protect her from the unwelcome advances of his blonder, stupider brother.  Maybe next time just take her out the room eh?

Thereafter Edward only really appears in the movie as a ghostly Obi-Wan style apparition for the most part.

"Bella, you must go the the Dagobah System..."
The attention of Bella’s affections turns to a pug-nosed dog boy steroid monster called Jacob.  Not only is Jacob a werewolf, but it also appears that he is also a “never-nude”.  The heartbreaking affliction made famous by Tobias Funke.  For the entire movie dog boy wonders around in his blue jean cut offs, flexing his man boobs as Bella strings him along while she gets over her glitter afflicted ex-beau.

The rarest of all mythical creatures, the "never nude" werewolf.
Bella displays classic bitch female behaviour as she uses Jacob and his affection for her as a hobby until Edward comes back on the scene. 

All the while she is surrounded by actual teenagers who actually act and behave like teenagers, but again she just uses these people as some form of entertainment while she waits for Eddie.  In an even more dickish move, Bella agrees to go out on a date with normal, dorky school chum Mike Newton, probably the closest thing to an actual teenager in the entire crappy movie.  Since it isn’t enough to mess with every man’s head within a 30 mile radius she decides to also invite Jacob along on their date, maybe hoping that he and Mike will battle for her affection.  But since she doesn’t really “like like” either of them, it’s all rather pointless anyway.

The rest of the movie consists of Bella and Edward running through a forest looking like they have been in an explosion at a glitter factory.  I forget how it ends, but I think dog boy and Edward agree that Bella is a bitch and that she is only good as a light snack before dinner.

There of course remains just one question..

Team Edward?

Team Jacob?

Monday, 11 October 2010

Mountain Biking My Way To A Torn Muscle

You get to a certain age and all of a suddenly things start to go wrong with your body.  No matter how much junk food and sweet, sweet sugar you may have denied yourself due to some media created lie about how if you look after your body, it will in turn last longer than everyone else’s, allowing you to bury and outlive (and in effect “win” at life) every smug son of a bitch you know.  But no matter how much you exercise, or how carefully you eat, sooner or later your body will stab you in the heart like some soulless bitch.

It may be a small, almost unnoticeable changes at first, such as a grey hair or two or maybe an extra wrinkle.  But no big whop right?  That’s why they invented hair dye and double standards regarding men and skin care.  Men who are rugged and have a few extra lines (think Clint Eastwood) look badass and cool, whereas women who are wrinkled and worn are shunned and generally looked upon by society something like that bad guy who drove into a vat of chemicals at the end of Robocop.
However being fairly fit and active has always been a big deal for me.  Physically I feel no different now than to how I felt at 18.  That was up until a few weeks ago.  I recently decided to take up mountain biking again after a 15 year absence, and while it is true that you never forget how to ride a bike, what they don’t tell you is that you do forget how bloody hard it is.  But none the less I soldered on and after a few weeks I was up to cycling 15 miles in one day!
Cycling is FUN and I get to eat bugs!!

Somethings wrong...  I feel something
tearing in two!  My body, my beautiful supple body. It has been torn in twain!!
That something being a muscle in my abdomen tearing in two.  The funny thing being when a muscle tears in this area, it allows the stuff packed in behind it to make a break for freedom!  So while I’m freaking out about the torn muscle and generally distracted by the situation, my lower colon sees this golden opportunity and begins operation “Gust Bust”.  

Thankfully it didn’t get very far.  About 1cm out before they came up against my skin perimeter fence, but in my book any attempt by you colon to exit your body isn’t a good thing.  I found out that this is called a hernia and requires surgery to fix.  Or as I like to refer to it, a “procedure”.   

In my head, this “procedure” is just a step up from simple everyday procedures that we all take for granted. 

I will now show a sliding scale of how serious I believe this surgery to be. 

1. A Haircut. The most common and safest "Procedure"

2. A Tooth Filling. A fairly straight forward and safe "Procedure".
3.  Your a hairdresser!  Please stop cutting me!!!!
I refuse to accept that my body is slowly falling apart and have decided instead to list it as one of those body things that don’t really matter and happens to everyone now and again, such a pimple or mouth ulcer.  I am master of my domain and it shall obey me or suffer my wrath!