Monday, 27 August 2012

Hey Pedro

The Place: 


The Time: 


The Characters: 

An idiot who calls himself The Plastic Mancunian (PM)

A lovely lady whom this idiot calls Mrs PM

A Spaniard who is a horse drawn carriage driver who I shall call El Conductor

Several Spanish friends of El Conductor

The Scene:

PM and Mrs PM are walking back to their hotel. They are approaching El Conductor and his friends.

Act One:

PM: Look – it’s those horse drawn carriages.

Mrs PM: Nice aren’t they?

El Conductor points to the horse, says something in Spanish with the word caballo in it – Spanish for “horse”

PM: No gracias.

El Conductor points to the horse again.

PM: Just ignore him. We’ll walk past and he won’t ask us again.

El Conductor: Hey Pedro!

PM: The cheeky bugger! What does he mean? “Hey Pedro”? Just keep on walking. 

El Conductor: Hey! Hey! Hey! Pedro!!

PM: What the hell is he calling me Pedro for? Bloody cheek! Let’s just carry on. Ignore him.

El Conductor: HEY! PEDRO! HEY! HEY!!!!

PM (getting annoyed now): I tell you what, these guys just won’t take no for a bloody answer will they? And why the hell is he calling me Pedro? Does he think that I'll turn round? Is he taking the piss?


PM: I’m starting to get really annoyed now. I haven’t met a single Spanish person here that has been unfriendly or irritating and this guy is ruining it all. What's his beef with me? And why the HELL is he calling me Pedro? We just have to carry on walking – just don’t look around! It will encourage him.

El Conductor: HEY!!!!! PEDRO!!! PEDRO!!!! PEDRO!!!!!! 

El Conductor speaks some Spanish very quickly, Spanish that PM don’t understand.

PM: Right – that’s it. Enough's enough! Are you listening to me? Why aren’t you answering?

PM looks around for Mrs PM. She is not next to him. She is standing next to El Conductor with her hands on her hips and that face that says PM has just made a mistake.  

A penny drops.

The idiot who is PM has walked past El Conductor and his friends totally unaware that he should have turned right. Mrs PM knew this and waited for the buffoon to realise: 

(a) He is going completely the wrong way.
(b) He has left his beloved lady behind and didn’t realise it.
(c) He has walked at least 25 yards talking to himself like a mad fool.
(d) El Conductor was simply calling the buffoon Pedro because he didn’t know the fool’s name.
(e) Everyone is laughing at the idiot.

PM: Oh shit!!!

El Conductor (laughing – to Mrs PM): Señora – no te quiere! (He doesn’t love you).

All the Spaniards laugh.

Mrs PM: Yo se!!  (I know),

All the Spaniards laugh again.

PM walks back looking like a dejected pratt!

PM: I’m sorry.

Mrs PM: You will be – you idiot. And you have a go at me for not having a sense of direction.

PM: I know.

Mrs PM: And you walk off and leave me behind.

PM: I know.

El Conductor: Adios señora. Adios Pedro.

PM: Adios señor. Lo siento. (I'm sorry)

Mrs PM: You should be saying “Lo siento” to ME!

PM: What’s the phrase I’m looking for? Tengo mucho huevo en mi cara.

Mrs PM laughs. The idiot has a lot of egg on his face.

Thank God there was no Act Two.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

The Beautiful People

As a species, we humans are a funny bunch. We come in all shapes, sizes and colours and, when you add our personalities into the mix, the possibilities become infinite.

That’s why we are special and why I love watching people – especially those who consider themselves to be different in some way.

Last Thursday I spent a very enjoyable evening in Puerto Banús, near to Marbella on the south coast of Spain watching the world, and the people, go by.

We were based in Marbella itself and Mrs PM told me that Puerto Banús was a great place to visit – based on what her friends had told her anyway. And I was intrigued based on her description; it was a magnet for famous people and those who were enthralled by the cult of celebrity.

She warned me that our evening’s entertainment might prove to be expensive but I decided to take the hit – as long as my wallet wasn’t utterly cleaned out by the experience. Besides, it was our only chance on the holiday to celebrate Mrs PM’s birthday – so I couldn’t really refuse.

We caught a cab from Marbella to Puerto Banús and Mrs PM was suitably attired in a very attractive black dress. I was told that I had to wear trousers and a shirt, despite the heat and after whinging about the high probability of having sweaty legs and sodden armpits, Mrs PM’s expression of frustration, with the threat of pain, made me cave in and dress as she wanted me too.

On arrival, we found a bar with a westward view and, with the aid of una cerveza grande and a cocktail called a Cosmopolitan, we watched the sunset.

The way Mrs PM had described the place, I expected to see lots of Ferraris and Porsches. There were certainly quite a few yachts in the marina but our location seemed to contradict Mrs PM’s vision of what it would be like. One of her friends had forked out a small fortune to spend a day in a club surrounded by Z list celebrities. When I asked who, she said “People from The Only Way Is Essex”.

“You mean reality TV stars, famous for nothing more than being arseholes on telly? I wouldn’t know any of these dickheads if I tripped over them,” I said.

She agreed and reassured me that I wouldn’t be spending 200 Euros a head to spend all day mingling with these weird attention seekers.

Later we strolled past the yachts and found ourselves outside a famous bar called Sinatra’s, celebrating its 35th year of existence. It was packed with people crowded around the bar area and I noticed that the dress code had changed subtly. The place was packed and many people obscured my path to the barman, not waiting to be served but just standing there with drinks in their hands and a steely determination not to allow anybody to take their place, least of all a person like me.

“Let’s go somewhere else,” I suggested.

“Let’s just have one drink here,” said Mrs PM, sensing my annoyance.

Before I could respond, she had rushed off somewhere and found a waiter who was very keen for us to sit at a table next the bar. Mrs PM dragged me to the table and the waiter brought a bottle of Corona and glass of white wine.

“Why is nobody sitting here? Why are all of those people standing at the bar?” I asked Mrs PM.

“Probably because it costs more to sit down here,” she said.

I felt the pressure on my wallet. I was probably going to pay three times the norm for the privilege of quaffing beer in this exclusive little location in an exclusive little bar. Since this was Mrs PM’s idea and she seemed content, I consigned my reservations and embryonic rant deep into the recess of my mind and decided to watch the people around me and those passing the bar.

And I actually enjoyed the experience and enjoyed categorising the people I saw in groups - and best of all the cost of the drinks was nowhere near as bad as I thought (it was quite reasonable actually).

I considered the people around me and those outside.The way I see it, there are two types of people; beautiful people and ordinary people. Within each of those groups, there are people who think that they belong to the other group.

I am an ordinary person who knows he is ordinary. I was surrounded by beautiful people who know they are beautiful and ordinary people who think they are beautiful.

Normally, a person like me would feel uncomfortable in such an environment so I embraced the role of observer as I watched Ferraris and Porsches drive slowly past the bar.

One guy was dressed in a designer T shirt, designer shorts and designer shoes, with his designer sunglasses hanging in the V of his T shirt, guffawing with his rich buddies as he sipped his designer cocktail and ran his fingers through his elegantly coiffured designer hair, dripping with designer products that I would never consider using. His eyes darted around, seeking a beautiful woman; and there were one or two

In particular my eyes were drawn to a truly gorgeous woman with long black hair and dressed to accentuate every single curve to perfection.

Even better than that were the people who think they are beautiful but are just like me; baboons.

Quite a few other baboons were wandering past the bar and, seeing the clientele, decided that they would fit in perfectly; women with bulges who insisted on wearing tight designer clothes to emphasise their cleavages but forgetting that their waists will give them away;  men with big muscular arms but podgy stomachs that stretch a tight shirt to bursting point. These people live under the impression that they can get away with wearing the latest fashions, intended for people who have perfect physiques.

They can’t because, like me, there physiques are fundamentally flawed.

Ordinary folks who accept their ordinariness wear clothes that make them look smart but not something they are not. I would never wear a tight T shirt or expose my ever expanding midriff. I wear clothes that hide my lumps and bumps because I know that I am not a beautiful person.

I am ordinary and I accept that.

Mind you, some beautiful people are funny to watch. We were on the beach the day before and I saw a man with bulging biceps and flat sculpted stomach, wearing speedos, strutting across the sand and in the sea assuming that everyone had their eyes on him and him alone. He even stood in the sea at just the right depth to show off his (in his eyes) magnificent torso.

“Look at that meathead over there,” I said to Mrs PM laughing.

The sad thing was, as I normally observe, is that there were few, if any, people from the one remaining group; beautiful people who think they are ordinary.

Such people are lovely and humble and do not do themselves justice. I like those people. I also love ordinary people who know that they are ordinary and happy to be just that; just like me; just like the majority of people who are content to chuckle at the rest who are strutting about and posing on the beach and in famous bars “just to be seen”.

Mrs PM and I finished off our enjoyable evening with a lovely, but expensive, meal in a restaurant a little further down the street from the bar.

In my eyes, Mrs PM was lovely that night; I was just a baboon in a mirror, as you can see from this photo.

Monday, 6 August 2012

And Another Thing ...

I’m in the mood for a rant. Will you indulge me?

Too bad – I’m going to rant anyway. Let’s see where this goes. I’ll start with the Olympics.

You know how brilliantly Great Britain are doing at the Olympics? That’s something I am not going to target with my plastic wrath. Instead, I have BBC TV sports presenters in my sight.

Having endured about a week of listening to them on TV and radio, I am fed up of the constant gushing about the gold winning athletes. Please, please just offer congratulations instead of inventing superlatives and turning these athletes into deities.

I am happy that Bradley Wiggins won the road race; I am absolutely delighted that Jess Ennis beat the odds to triumph; I am over the moon that Andy Murray actually beat a legend; I couldn’t be happier for Ben Ainslie, Greg Rutherford, Victoria Pendleton or any of the other magnificent athletes.

But please stop going on about them as if they could fly to the moon and back.

And while we’re on, stop overusing the word journey.

X Factor started it.

"What a tough journey One Direction had to get here.”

These guys are BBC presenters and they prattle on about “journeys”. I know it’s difficult to talk about other things but please, for the sake of my sanity please try!

And why is X Factor still on TV? I am dreading the return of possibly the worst show ever to be conceived; a show that makes me want to destroy my television set. I could turn over but it is seriously difficult to find quality television sometimes.

I have Sky TV and I love watching sport and movies but, as Bruce Springsteen said, there are “57 Channels and nothin’ on.”

In fact it’s more like 357 channels. And that is particularly true in summer.

You may be wondering why I would want to watch TV in the summer when the weather is supposed to be  beautiful and we should all be outside basking in the heat and sunshine.

I can here you cry:

“Stop moaning at the TV, you plastic imbecile and get out there in the sunshine.”

Well, dear reader, I would – if it wasn’t pissing down outside.

July and August have been more like November and December this year.  We have had the wettest July on record and that is added to earlier months this year when it was also the wettest on record. The Jet Stream has been hovering south of the UK and bringing with it so much dreadful bloody weather that I want to put the whole thing into Room 101 together with Piers Morgan.

Constant, relentless rain has dampened my spirits to the point where I feel like running out to the middle of our street and kneeling down in the deluge with my arms skywards, pleading to whatever God is willing to listen to me:


We had plans to take a week off work and travel to Scotland next week – but we daren’t. So instead we are spending more money – to fly south to Spain and spend a lot more money than I would have done.

Don’t get me wrong; a holiday to Spain will be most welcome, particularly Marbella, a place I haven’t been to before. The problem is that we have picked a particularly expensive part of Spain and Mrs PM has already tried to put me on a No Carbs till Marbs diet.

Don’t laugh – this is a genuine diet, inspired by yet another dumb TV show called The Only Way is Essex, full of a bunch of weirdos from (you've guessed it) Essex.

No way. The people of Marbella are going to have to put up with me waddling around with any excess body fat on show.

Not that I am fat. I might be a little bit overweight but my BMI is not bad for a guy of nearly 50. Nevertheless, if you happen to be in Marbella next week – don’t worry. I won’t be waddling around in clothes that make me look fat or ridiculous – unlike some holidaymakers I have seen.

There ought to be a law against wearing clothes that you shouldn’t.

I’m nearly 50 and I know where I’m flabby. I would never wear clothing that made me look like a total arse, under the illusion that I was the reincarnation of a muscular Greek Adonis. I would look like an absolute buffoon and probably make the Spanish throw up over their paella.

If you ever see me wandering around wearing clothes that make people ill, you have my permission to slap me.

I just wish I could do the same to some of the people who consider themselves to be athletic and absolutely attractive to the opposite sex, wearing clothes that accentuate everything that is disgusting about them.

I don’t do it (and believe me I look disgusting); why should THEY be allowed to get away with it?

If only I had the courage of my convictions. If only I had the courage to say to the 60 year old business man with a beer gut that is so huge that people scream when he turns around:

“Put a T shirt on – or should I say a tent! I don’t want to see your flabby, hairy beer belly and neither do all of these good people. And for God’s sake do NOT wear speedos.

You see, dear reader, I am a silent ranter – one who rants to the cats, work colleagues who are entertained and my poor beleaguered and beloved Mrs PM – and nobody else.

Oh – apart from you, dear reader.

You see, I am a coward and I have to hide behind an alias here on the internet. Don’t get me wrong; I am not a troll. I would never openly insult a person, alias or no alias. I would never post a nasty comment on a blog post – even if I violently disagreed with the contents of that post.

I like to debate and allow discussions to germinate into an enjoyable experience for both parties – even if I think the other party is a clueless imbecile.

Debate is good; discussion is good. It opens up a whole new world of possibilities and, if done properly, can be an enjoyable learning experience.

So why, Mr Troll (and you know you’re out there reading this), do you insist on hurling abuse at poor innocent bloggers? Keyboard warriors wind me up so much that I have been tempted to track the buggers down.

Still, there’s no point getting upset with people who don’t know how to have a discussion about disagreements, people who just want to post vindictive nastiness under a pseudonym, in the hope that nobody will be able to track them down.

I think I’d better stop now before I get carried away.

Thanks for listening, dear reader – or should I say, thanks for reading.

Getting rid of stress by having a good rant is very therapeutic and, although I don’t genuinely get that upset over things, it eases any pressure that life has to throw at me. It is a necessary part of my existence.

I’ll finish off on a positive note.

Well done Team GB. I hate the name but 18 gold medals and counting is a majestic achievement.

Well done to each and every one of you. And well done to all athletes who have won medals for every other nation too.

I will not gush!



Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Black Clouds; Silver Linings

About twelve years ago, I had a conversation with somebody who is very dear to me. It went something like this.

“Are you OK?” I asked.

“No,” she said, tears running down her cheek.

“What’s the matter?” I asked, concerned.

“I don’t know,” she replied, struggling to keep control. “I j..j..just don’t know.”

I sat down beside her and held her in my arms as she completely lost control and sobbed her heart out. I said nothing; I just listened as she tried to pour her heart out to me and tried to explain how she felt.

It was all I could do. I was there for her but I felt helpless. I had no words to help her. I just had to be there, hold her and listen to her as she soaked my shirt with her tears.

That person was Mrs PM.

She was suffering from depression.

Over the years I have known her I have learned to read the signs of this affliction. I can tell when the trigger has been fired and the journey into the chasm has begun. From somewhere, a black cloud appears and completely envelops her. Even when she has every reason to be deliriously happy, the black cloud drags her towards a pit of despair.

She is helpless and cannot stop it. And I have to accompany her on this ride until the black cloud dissipates.

Normally, there are no external reasons for it to happen. Mrs PM may be really content in her job, happy with her friends and family and then suddenly the black cloud starts to materialise.

She should be happy – she has absolutely no reason not to be happy. She is comfortable, generally stress free and life is there to be grabbed and enjoyed.

Yet she is crying and can do nothing to escape. I have tried to help just by being a voice in the wilderness that tells her everything is alright, arms that hold her and listen to her words as she tries to make me understand how she feels.

I can’t understand how she feels and that is deeply frustrating for both of us.

When she first told me about her depression, I was puzzled. She had always seemed so happy, so confident and so in control. And when I first saw the black cloud I was shocked. I didn’t really understand. I didn’t know how to deal with it. I did not know what to say.

Most people don’t know what to say or do. And a surprisingly large number of people think that depression is a random bad mood that can be cured by the phrase:

“Just pull yourself together.”

This is the WORST thing you can say – absolutely the worst thing. This is not just a passing phase.

Having seen Mrs PM at her lowest ebb, I want to grab such people and scream “DON’T EVER SAY THAT TO A DEPRESSED PERSON AGAIN!”

There’s not a lot you can do, full stop, but such thoughtlessness can make things far worse.

Depressed people cannot help it. It is not a state of mind; it is an illness.

My experience of Mrs PM’s depression has helped me recognise symptoms in other people. Mrs PM, of course recognises those symptoms too, more so in fact.

When she first felt something was wrong, before she met me, Mrs PM went to the doctor to seek the answer to the questions:

 “Why do I feel like shit? Why am I so sad? Why can’t I stop crying?”

She has often said to me that two men have changed her life; the first is me (the charming baboon whose blog you are reading); the second is the doctor who answered those questions.

The doctor put her on a course of anti-depressants and she changed dramatically. If it wasn’t for those little pills, she would never have asked me out. Depression had confined her confidence into a cage deep within her psyche, and the key to that cage was lost. Those little tablets forged a new key and released that inner confidence, making Mrs PM the woman she is today – the woman who stole my heart (and won’t give it me back).

I don’t mind – my heart now belongs to her.

There were ups and downs as she got to grips with this new liberating medication; sometimes it introduced mood swings that made her totally and utterly euphoric one moment and absolutely devastatingly depressed the next.

Sadly, in order to find the right medication, she has had to endure a lot of pain. And during the first year or two of our relationship, I had to be there for her to help her through it. And I simply could not help her in any way other than to sit with her, look after her and make sure that she could cope. What's worse, I was a bit of a mess myself at that time, so I had to try to forget that and focus on Mrs PM.

Whether or not I helped, I don’t know. What I do know is that having somebody there was better than having nobody.

The silver lining to this black cloud is that Mrs PM has been perfectly fine for quite a few years now.  Her depression was a menacing abomination for the first four or five years of our relationship. Now, thankfully, the medication she takes these days has stabilised her mood, allowing her confidence to shine in abundance. The black cloud has almost been annihilated so much so, that I have almost forgotten what it looks like.

I know that if she were to stop taking the pills, she would fall back into the black cloud’s clutches once again.

If you met Mrs PM, you would have no clue that she had ever suffered; she is warm, confident, funny and wonderful. And best of all she is happy.

Of course, not everybody needs medication. There are techniques that involve no medication at all such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), something that works for some people.

So why am I telling the world about this?

I have seen the woman I love reduced to a sobbing mess due to depression. We were talking about a friend of hers, the other day, who is recovering from post-natal depression and I thought it might be a good idea for a post.

Mrs PM gave me her blessing to write about her experience, because she knows how debilitating the condition can be. I have heard her chatting to friends about it and in some cases, some of her friends have actually recognised the symptoms and done something about it as a result.

There is no shame in admitting that you are depressed, in Mrs PM’s eyes. She has turned her life around and wants to talk about it. She wants people to know that the black cloud can be beaten into submission.

Mrs PM is now a happy person and has been for years. The black cloud occasionally threatens to make an appearance but more often than not it is a fleeting threat and she copes admirably.

That’s the silver lining.