The Toner of Tikka

You won’t find his like on a Renaissance easel,

070c67f079e1dada4dcfe55a6239814497c56138It’s cro-magnon money-fountain Vin “The Knuckleface” Diesel

Meg was trying to help me with this rhyme. Her suggestion was “appeasal.” Pretty sure that’s not a thing.

This post is slightly late this week as I am ensconced in the nurturing bosom of a long weekend. I am increasingly on the road for work, travelling once a week over the next three, though to pretty functional spots. No palm trees and swimming pools. Moreso unfamiliar metro networks and withered pastries. Last week I was in Brussels where a storm resulted in me spending 5 life-hours (it’s more depressing to think of them this way) in Brussels airport where I was treated to a very grim scene indeed. A boy (about 13) was being escorted out of the airport by security with his disinterested mother, sashaying after with an air of a restaraunt critic who has been asked to pay extra for toiletpaper. It took a minute to realise that the boy had some kind of developmental issue (lots of vocalisations and no actual use of language over the 15 minutes this lasted for.)

The following scene repeated itself about 6-8 times (not a joke). The boy would wrench himself free of the security guards who, to be fair were desperately trying not to be heavy handed with the kid becuase they realised his vulnerability. He would then sprint into the cafe to grab a bottle of Coke, his mother would say his name, he’d ignore and the shopkeeper would try and get to him before he cracked it open. The security guys would then bring him back to the entrance and wrestle with him for another minute. The mother would then quietly watch them wrestle/chase her son like a really shitty, really depressing Benny Hill. Two more security would arrive.

And repeat.

Benny_HillBenny Hill is probably guilty of a lot of things (especially having been famous in the 70’s) but physically grappling with a special needs boy in a Belgian airport I hope is not among them. But other stuff? For sure. Look at him.

To give a little context, I am not by any means an expert on working with kids like this, though neither am I a novice. I worked with autistic kids of different levels for a year in Ireland and special classes also occasionally in Japan for another two. Being a parent to any kid is a tough gig I’m very sure. To a kid with special needs, whatever that might mean is boat-hull tough.And for sure I only saw her for a few minutes, but still.

In our 7 hours a day with the kids I worked with, there’d be poo, lessons, pee and for certain kids random acts of violence. I in particular was put front and centre for any impending hurty-pain as as a guy, I was a supposed to be better placed to walk it off than the 90% of female staff there. Though they were some extraordinarily tough cookies.

More so than the sometimes dizzying rain of blows that could come for the least perceived frustration (“I want Peppa Pig” – “Okay____, let’s go get it!” <throws TV at me>) the toughest part of the job was seeing those parents struggling to cope under the demands their situation exacted on them. Knowing that down to somewhat of a lottery their experience of parenting was turned into something bittersweet and that in their individual case, they just weren’t up to dealing with it. That’s not a moral judgement on my part, that would be like getting frustrated with someone for not being able to lift a heavy box. Whatever the result though, in my experiences there and elsewhere, all parents were working their parent-nuts off to try and do the best they could, even if it wasn’t the outright best or even sometimes good enough.

Then there was the Brussels airport Mom. Apparently checked in, but sadly checked out (gunning for the Pulitzer here lads). Eventually there were 12 or so G4S security (unless the S = security, in which case they were, I guess G4) rent-a-goons trying to contain a situation which was clearly beyond their abilities and she just stood there agawp. A shitty parent in a situation that requires maximum double good parentage to break even.

g4DM0604_468x399A little research showed what G4S looks like dropping the S. G4 AKA these turds. Check out Shovels down the back. He knows how to grip a shoulder. With spudpickers like those he could be in G4S proper. Which is good, becuase these turkeys were dropped from their contract after Sam Squirrel in front, tried to hide Simon Cowells nuts for the Winter.

This kind of thing is inevitable numerically when you have all kinds of parents paired with all kinds of kids, but to see the numbers coagulate into the actual real-life ramifications in a Brussels airport cafe (try the chicken tikka panini) it is a grim reminder how numbers are people too.

In other news, Meg and I celebrated 6 years together this week so we booked ourelves an old timey London weekend that could have been anywhen. “Let’s party like it’s 1899,” I declared to Meg, “Like we’re deeply concerned about the rise of the Kaiser and radium is being recommend as a health supplement to reinvigour the bones.” We took in a show (Book of Mormon, at least one oral sex act per Hitler or your money back) and dodging in and out of the August showers we went to  dine on monkfish and lamb. We soaked up the dank in a grotty West End pub where a Frenchman behind the bar shirked his responsibilities and was openly insulted by his English co-workers. We even took our Afternoon Tea at the Savoy where we learned too late there were several courses of dessert beyond the dainty finger sandwiches. Cake was a course. The course of cake. Lavendar eclairs. Some kind of strawberry pouffant. Not even a word, but that’s what it was. Amazing stuff, but we both shaved off 6 months of our life via cream alone.

In a nod to the suffragettes (I hardly, indeed at all, knew yee) I dressed in a petticoat and hoop at the Victoria and Albert museum and performed a ceremonial curtsey dance. There wasn’t a crowd when I started but there was damn sure one when I left.

11052465_10100525140103048_8543616114390163887_nIn the words of Gloria Q. Estefan, the rhythm IS gonna get ya.

Will be starting a mid-week blogpost every week this month reviewing things I’m keen on. Different category every month. This month, it shall be… Podcasts!

Let me know what you think, reshare, follow me on twiitter (@markboyle86) etc.

The Toner of Tikka

The Toner of Gaeleek

If you were a tiny tuft of hair, he would comb you,

jonah-lomu-rigby-star-interview_g

It’s Jonah “mobile violence unit” Lomu

Aha, hello there. You look terrible. I’m negging you. Never heard of it? It’s a bit unpleasant. Insulting someone to lower their self-esteem to the point where they might be suggestable enough to touch your (in all likelihood) penis. Anyway, I’m doing it to you now as a kind of experiment. Please rate your increased physical attraction to me in the comments. You big… bollockses.

bible-adam-and-eveI’ve looked into it and negging is as old as time itself. “Who else would have you Eve?! And you’re putting the beef on, try eating more fruit” – Genesis, 12, 5-6.

Myself and Meg went to Sandown racecourse this weekend as we had tired of the drudgery of simply burning our money. We went moneyball on the whole thing, reading form, checking their weights and then deciding whether we just liked their name a bit or REALLY liked their name. The main contenders were a few that had Mark in their name, but as it turns out this is a poor predictor of good horsiness and they turned out to be a shower of worthless nags, merely killing time before they are diverted en masse to the glue factory.

It was family day at the course so there was some obligatory face painting (I had requested a Chaplin but they clearly gave me a Hitler) someone in a Peppa Pig costume and a lounge singer butchering that poxy Frozen song once an hour. “Let her go, to practice mo” etc.

The races are a fantastic place for people watching as you have people dolled up to the nines, fascinators, cummerbunds and so on and then you have what Meg calls TPT. Trailer park trash. I am not the first to notice that the UK has serious issues with class hierarchy and being from outside such a system makes it extra bewildering, albeit mercifuly sidesteppable. Horse racing is a rare thing that all aspects of British society are keen on though for different reasons. For TPT it’s about the gambling and the boozing, for the Lord and Lady Fauntleroys it’s about exactly the same thing plus a bit of FOMO (fear of missing out) and desire to wear impractical and implausibly named items of clothing.

Back when we lived in the gritty Nawth in Manchester, we were “The Posh Couple,” I was always pushing Meg to explore where we lived and her occasional lack of enthusiasm was often shown to be justified. One day we wandered out from where we lived in the city centre out to Salford. The place looked like it had been bombed out to shit by a particularly vindictive airforce who had heard rumours that Salford had fondled it’s mothers bottom.

After being a bit unsettled by weird graffiti “We’re watching you” and “You’ll never get out alive” we decided to have a rest in the only pub (or anything) we’d come across. Standing up at the bar I noticed one guy muttering sweet insanities in my direction. He tried unsuccessfully to talk to me, I smiled politely and asked him to please repeat himself, his friend gave me the danger eyes and whispered to drunky, “naw leave it mate.” His friend slunk (slank?) away and he turned to me, “Are you the posh couple then?”

What the fuck does one say to that? I was recently out running and as I was walking back I ended up chatting to my dear Mater over the phone who was surprised that I was out running at 10pm and only moreso when I explained my normal time is midnight. She questioned the safety of this and I responded with the perhaps erroneous claim that “I am the toughest guy in Weybridge.” Maybe not but we’re for sure the closest to TPT these little pansies will ever live beside.

IMG_1145Above – the Toughest Guy In Weybridge

In other news I was explaining Gaelic Football to Meg, the semi finals are playing as I write a lot of this. Up the Kingdom and so on. I explained how unlike soccer, you have to get used to being scored on frequently, which is pretty draining emotionally. Meg’s response was “is it like going to a bar with your Mom?” I think this was meant to be a “yo momma” style bit of smack talk, but it just reminded me of the last time she went to a bar with Ingrid, my dear mother drank her under the table to the point of me drifting off to sleep that night to the soundtrack of Megs vomitous sobs. She also thought the coverage of the Gaelic Football was as Gaeilge (the Irish language). It was not, it was just being delivered through the heavy accent of this guy.

darragh-oseDarragh O’Se is what passes for photogenic in Kerry. He’s like #2 in the county after Fassbender.

He’d be hunted by the townsfolk with pitchforks and torches if he lived anywhere else.

Kerry football also has something called The Gooch. Do not directly look at The Gooch. I might be trying some small review-type articles soon of things I’m keen on. Podcasts, Music etc. I’ll be trying to do them midweek. Let me know what you think by coming to write things behind my back to my face! Metaphorically. Meta-face-lickly.

The Toner of Gaeleek

The Toner of Refugeek

He never got round to learning piano,

John-Galliano-2

It’s semi-redeemed anti-semite John Galliano!

So this was coming but things have been a bit quiet. My total weekend itinerary consisted of wandering to the riverbank and reading a book. You are as the Mancs say, “well jell,” I’m sure. Yes indeed, underneath it all I am a dreadful bore. I like a Swedish doorstop novel where a Girl does something. A girl has a dragon tattoo. A girl bakes a casserole. Stubs her toe on a couch. All that good stuff.

jaqen“A girl… will share her conditioner?”

In lieu of any diary-type sharing this week I’ll have a bit of a natter about a topic that has aroused (hoho) my interest. This is not necessarily my normal niche, so bear with me.

The EU refugee situation. A nice easy start. Something that needs to be borne in mind is “refugee” implies these people are refudging from something. Sorry, I’ve already become confused. People are refuging from a patchwork of failed states and civil wars that stretches from North Africa onto Afghanistan in the East. The thing being refudged is the borders.

choc-pb-fudge-8-600

You’d bloody well need some fudge after changing all those suspiciously straight lines on the map.

Also, look how untidily this was packed.

Firstly, never been to any of these countries. I’m sure they do stuff with lamb that would make your taste buds explode and there are some nice bits of hot earth to visit. But all the same, you are probably not likely to be Ryanairing over in the next 5-10 years. The casualty numbers are preposterous and the individual acts of violence are so cartoonishly dreadful they could easily be dismissed as urban legends except that they have been recorded and put on the internet for all to see. It’s bad. Acknowledged.

So the locals need to get the f out from under these wars. Wars largely prompted either totally (Iraq and Afghanistan) or partially (Libya) by the West that have now turned into one big murdery stew. The sauce is mainly guilt and chicken stock.

Now the EU is based on the principal of free movement of capital and in a rather depressing and dehumanising way, “capital” includes people. Human capital. You feeling the love? The UK is currently trying to negotiate new terms for its continued EU membership and this is the thing they get most pushback on because the EU is all about unfettered human movement. Any limitation on that (quotas or similar) and it’s no longer the EU.

Hilarious joke interlude. “With all the smelly French people there, they should call it the Pee-yew.” Calm down. I don’t bathe.

Anyway, in a similar way to Europe, most of the other big-time charlie countries are also based on immigration (US, Canada, Australia), but only up to some undefined point about 60 years ago where they collectively said “we’re all stocked up on white religious/criminal weirdos thank you very much” and the shutters pretty much came down.

So immigration, is something all of these countries should understand really well. But time and again the predominant representation of immigration in these countries is some variation on…

They-took-our-gggfx8

Immigration is feared for eating into local job opportunities, diluting characteristics of local culture and probably all kinds of weirdly spicy foods upsetting the local septic tanks. Or at least these are the reasonable reasons. His Donaldness has well verbalised some of the less reasonable ones:

There is another issue concerning the legality of immigration. In the EU, it’s legal to move and work and this means if Portugal is short on jobs someone can go to Germany where there is an excess of roles. It allows the jobs markets to balance themselves out across the region.

Hilarious call-back joke interlude: “That sounds like a human capital idea.”

In the case of asylum seekers or illegal immigrants… they’re not allowed to work. Even like, shitty jobs. Think of the worst job you’ve ever done. In my case that was picking up Coke bottles of piss from a building site. They’re not even allowed to do THAT terrible job. They are prevented from working and forced to subsist on handouts, by the local government. Why? Why indeed. Because otherwise, “They took our jerbs.”

Now, I should acknowledge something. I am an immigrant (and an emigrant.) I’ve lived in the UK and Japan and in doing so I’ve learned there are serious differences in how you can be perceived as a foreigner. White, English-speaking and educated to the hilt, in many ways I am a border-guards dream. In Japan, I was heralded left, right and centre as some kind of sunburned, sweaty celebrity. I lived beside a tin shack with a bunch of Chinese/Filipino labourers as neighbours, who supplied a perfect comparison to my forgiving public-persona. There were very few foreigners about at all, but the Chinese were by far the largest minority and they are treated… weirdly. In the words of one Japanese person I spoke with:

“The Chinese, they are so… dangerous… for us.”

Whatever the hell that means, it don’t sound good. In the UK I got a taste of the other side of the coin. And coins rarely taste amazing. In Manchester there have been so many waves of Irish coming over the centuries, we apparently established ourselves as being of equivalent “dangerousness” for them (that and all the bombings to be fair) but I caught a range of reactions from people. On the less offensive side are people smiling at you and saying the word “potato” in some kind of accent that isn’t Irish. The flippity is people referring to things that are poorly made as “Irish.” Another was kids that Meg encountered as a teacher in Manchester listing “The Irish” amongst their dislikes when she asked them to tell her about themselves. Neither in Japan nor the UK has my treatment as an Irish person had anything to do with… anything reasonable.

The frustrating thing is that people moving around, is good. The EU knows people moving around is good good stuff, hence it being a founding principle to a movement that has kept war from Western Europe for 70 years. And Western Europe loved war so much! It was like, totes our jam! In the UK, immigration has been shown to be a net benefit to the economy (https://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/news-articles/1114/051114-economic-impact-EU-immigration). Sure people coming in are going to be a mixed bag but crossing the Mediterranean clinging to the side of bottlecap with 300 others is better evidence of a can-do attitude than I have ever managed. Whatever my CV might say.

Human migration is good for humanity. These people coming over are haunted and desperate and we should be falling over ourselves to welcome them to work our crummy jobs and steal their recipes.

In other news, Meg drank half a bottle of wine on Friday and went mental. She ate all the dinner before I got home, then played loads of Def Leppard and when I woke the next morning I found little chunks of her dinner in the sink. Sweet potato as it turns out it is pretty recognisable even if it’s been digested a bit.

Ick.

Let me know if you’re keen on this new thing I’m trying!

The Toner of Refugeek

Jamie Leek Curtis

On Mexicans* he will dump,

TrumpForPresident62415

It’s Donald “The McRonald” Trump!

*and women and homosexuals and butchers and bakers and candlestickma… Actually the list is shorter if you do it the other way around. The wigweavers guild is probably in good shape. And whatever indentured labour he has on  waxing duty. Everyone else, we’re up slack alley.

So in the past year, myself and the missus have moved down to the sarf of the UK to jelly our eels, tell porkies and all other kinds of cockney nonsense (cocknonsense). My partner Meg works in the top medical diagnostic company that is also a name for manly-juice (Siemens) and I work for the Fur Trade. Yep. That one.

It’s definitely been one of my more interesting career choices and this is amongst positions that have placed my cornhole at severe risk of punishment by tiny Asian digits (it’s called a Kancho) and a job that literally had “randomness” in the title.

NamisatoKancho

Behold, yon kancho.A situation my taint did not want, in a cartoon it did not draw.

It’s lead to me doing a lot more travel (as has being in gainful employment) especially over the past few weeks. For instance…

Meaghan (or “The Mooer” as is her wrestling name) and I shkootered over to NYC for a few days and set about undoing two months of dieting in a haze of brown paper bag cocktails and cheesecake in bed. A noteworthy highlight was sharing a subway (the conveyance, not the thing where murder-eyed “sandwich artists” work) with a guy who in a packed car would shout-sing:

“DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE!?”

subway-door

Back sweat? A t-shirt with a bald eagle dry-humping a US flag? Cataracts? We need to know!

I think he was like, keen on Jesus. But that’t no excuse for a ruckus. A small kid started asking her mom why “the man” was shouting. She got good and shushed. Another top moment was wandering the streets of NYC trying to find a willing belly for the last slice of the best pizza I may have ever eaten. Meg came up to a homeless guy who was shambling around whimpering at passers by:

“I am so hangry, pleezze help me.”

“Would you like some food?”

“No. I want mahney.”

Honesty, my man will only get you so far, especially when you’re turning down Jehovah’s own slice.

We picked up a few bottles of water for the night and continued on. Deciding this pizza was too good to dump I went up to a chap nearer now to our hotel:

“Would you like a slice of really good pizza?” (apparently you need a bit of razmatazz to shift free pizza these days)

“Naw man… but I’ll take that water.”

 Yeah I gave it to him, though I felt a bit of a goon. It was partially becuase he went on a aggressive rant about people judging him for “changing my socks in the street.” Of course he said all of this from a madmans throne of garbage and he smelled like he’d died a few weeks before but it was working its way out from the middle.

In other news I was also in Israel recently and made to feel like a little nancy-nugget by one of the typical macho national-service hardened types out there. I try to use whatever local language I have wherever I am even if its learning the word for thanks and I can generally copy pronunciation well.

One of these guys pushed over a half-melon sized bowl of hummus.

“Mark do you like <guttural throat clearance that I realise halfway in is voluntary and 3/4s in is language>ummus?”

“Oh yes. I like <pause to judge my willingness to go it like a local> whomass”

Hummus_from_The_Nile

900 bitch points, right here. Toughy alert.

I am hoping to get a rhythm going where I do two of these a week (both a little shorter than this), one as a mini-diary and the other talking about some kind of thing I like. Movies, podcasts… a saucy pair of chinos. Give your homeboy a holla if you have any suggestions or questions. And let me know how you’re getting on. Jerks that I care about!

I’m quite gruff you see. But with a heart of gold. Like Jamie Lee Curtis as the hooker in Changing Places. Also like her, if you watch very carefully you might see me with my top off for a split second in the second act. I was working for Akroyd at the time and I needed the green.

See you lateray and with regularitay!

Jamie Leek Curtis

The Toner of Peek

So… hello. Are you well? I do hope so. Not that I could hear you if you replied. Assume I’m rooting for you.

This is the first of what will be (at first) a weekly blog, a bit about me but also anything else I deem inflictable on you, the body (and what a body) politic. Ideally this will be massively lucrative and I will be sent barrels full of vintage port on skiffs from my swarthy admirers. Greater likelihood is I will find myself writing into the echo-y ether like the slowest click-clacker among those million monkeys attempting to write Shakespeare. Incidentally, can we get a hand for monkeys? Saw one at the zoo once breast feeding. Nipples longer than a can of coke. Amazing.

My mothers “strap-on”, why for a brief moment I believed I was the spiritual leader of the Welsh people and dodging suspected gerontophiles in Hiroshima. I’ve gotten up to some stuff.  It’s all ahead of you.

Talk mightily soon,

The Toner of Peek

My mom was in a car. She meant seatbelt. Or so she says.