Suddenly the idea of writing a blog as regularly as I once did seems a distant dream. The sometimes mentally intense nature of my new job means that most nights I come home and slump in front of the telly, exhausted.
My usual modus operandi is to write stuff when I think about it and remember it; but occasionally I employ an age old method - I take notes. Jot them down on a piece of paper and they're safe for the future. My pad this week has very little on it, to reinforce the above paragraph, but one line has the word 'Vicks' written down. Now I've been using a menthol vapour rub on my chest for the last couple of weeks in an attempt to sleep better and to clear the airways, but obviously the other night I must have had some inspired idea about it because I wrote just the one word down. It must have been so good I probably thought I wouldn't forget it...
I also have another note on the pad that has nothing to do with the blog. It's an idea I had for another short story. I wish I could remember what it was about because 'Giant Crazy Things' sounds like it might have been fun.
Who am I, again?
While at t'pub on Thursday night, Roger mentioned that he thought a comment made by my good dear friend Kelvin Green was really good and later on further reflection it seemed to be the logical ascension of one of my more colourful nicknames of the past.
Kelvin referred to me as 'You Magnificent Bastard' in response to an adventure I had that will not make its way onto these pages and in my mind's eye the journey from Phil the Bastard (created probably around 1984) to Magnificent Bastard has concluded.
Chuckling to myself after t'pub, it triggered a memory of what were probably my very first nicknames - Hall-E and Horlicks (which I still find an incredibly funny word, even if I wasn't that enamoured by the nickname at the time). Obviously Hall-E was not the inspiration for Wall-E, it's just the best way of visually explaining how my name was said - Hall-eeeeeeee essentially and I think even my peers got bored of that really quickly. Then the famous bedtime malted chocolate drink started advertising a lot and some wag saw the connection between Hall and Horlicks.
Most kids are supposed to love their nicknames, but I hated mine. Even at an early age, I liked being called Phil and it irritated me when people would add the Lip bit. There are Phils and there are Phillip/Philips and I'm definitely in the first group. It took a lot of careful persuasion by my mum to get me to accept the name and embrace it. Eventually very few people called me it and they did so to try and rile me.
Some other popular nicknames I have had for periods of time include: Big Nose (which is still popular with the wife and among specific groups of friends, the same group that popularised Phil the Bastard and its more offensive Phil the C**t), Fil Fil Fil which eventually became Fi Fi and sometimes Foo. Fuck knows why. Unusually, I've never been a Pip unless it's outside of a 50 mile radius of Northampton. A number of my estranged Internet friends refer to me as Pip, but as I have a friend called Pip (who I saw last night, coincidentally), it's never been a name that my friends would associate with me (even if our Pip's real name is actually Karl...)
My dad had a number of ways of addressing me - Oy or Shitbag, but usually just Oy Shitbag; Ugly (which the lovely Mammary Lass uses with much joy still); Boy; and once or twice Demon Child. He rarely called me Phillip, but did when he remembered my real name. Towards the end of his life he'd lost the slightly mad aspect of his personality (because he'd lost my mum), but he still managed an Ugly from time to time - that was cool.
No one really calls me Phillip now, if they do I usually correct them quickly (or in the event One El calls me it on Tuesday I might have to resort to violence). I'd change my name by Deed Poll if I could be arsed. Of all the things I've been called Phillip is the one that grates on me the most.
The chest is still giving me a lot of grief. I sound like a rattling cage most of the time and I'm not getting much sleep because of it. It's also stopped being productive and I feel like shit, but just not shit enough to suggest that I'm ill.
I've had a weird week because at least two things happened that would potentially be headline stories, yet I have no desire to talk about them publicly. It's not like I use this as a diary of my every waking minute (even if sometimes I do), but some things just have to stay out of this (much as I'd like to).
I went to a training course next to Liberty's on Regent Street in The Smoke. I was looking forward to it like my own death and yet it turned into one of the most interesting courses I've ever been on. It was presented by a guy called Jason Bangbala (Google him) and... well... after ten minutes I'd thought I'd walked into something totally surreal which I couldn't understand (he has a really broad Manc accent, like). But by the end of the day my brain was absolutely whirling with ideas. And that's all I'm saying on the matter.
You learn something every day (I think). I always thought that the little hat Jews wear was called a homolka (or maybe with a U or two), but it's called a Kippah. Why is this important? Well it isn't, except to say that I still managed to get a laugh out of it even if I was wrong and a Homolka is a Czech surname and doesn't appear to be anywhere else in modern language.
My mate CJT, for reasons we won't go into) drew a circle round a number 8 and embellished it a little at the top to make it look like a masked kid with a skull cap on. I added a couple of dots and a line for nose and mouth and Homolka Boy was born. The joke was: Homolka Boy, the Boy with No Foreskin For Crime and much laughter was generated (you had to be there). However, on research it's a load of bollocks... Funny bollocks at the time, but ultimately just bollocks.
Me and facial hair, I talk about it now and then. At work last week someone asked me why I had a goatee, which had been cultivated on Christmas because I felt so shitty I didn't want to shave. It's one of those odd questions, a bit like, why do you breath?
I have a history of unimpressive facial hair which started as quickly as I was able to grow bum fluff on my top lip. My immediate family, with the exception of my mum, have all had impressive moustaches in terms of thickness and depth, but my dad and eldest brother were blessed with dark hair, so when they grew them they looked proper gay. My middle brother was fair haired and his often blended into his fake tan, while Blondie here grew the things but no one ever noticed.
My reasons for wanting a tash were simple. I got a really bad split top lip playing rugby which left a scar midway between my septum and my lips and being a self-conscious teenager I hid it as often as I could. Even if my blond moustache couldn't be seen it camouflaged the scar.
I've never really successfully grown a full beard and it's only been the last few years that I get minutely close to it and now all the hair on my face down the flanks is as white as a Dulux paint factory.
However, one bit of facial hair that crept onto my face around 1989 and has been there ever since has been that bit of fuzz under my bottom lip and now, despite the grey in it, it at least is visible and adds to my small desire to be independent and non-conformist. Oddly enough the reason for its existence is because of a shaving rash. Eventually my face got used to being wet shaved, but that little triangle under my bottom lip never toughened up and whenever I shave it I get a square inch of a teenager's face stuck on it until the stubble starts to grow back. Doesn't matter how much I do it or be careful, it's like that part of my face still thinks I'm 16.
The beard came off last night. I couldn't make up my mind if I liked it or not.