Tyler of Leek

When I asked him how things were going, you could say he was an over-confider

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It’s movie-toxin omni-twerp, Rob “The Nob” Schneider

I just say Nob because anybody called Rob (the only name more popular in my year of birth than Mark) was immediately called The Nob. Even if they were nice. Thank goodness my name didn’t rhyme with anything.

Though Mrs. Boyle was probably cruel enough as a nickname.

BerppahdeBERPPP! And like a particularly buoyant turd, I’m back baby.

After almost a month on hiatus the Toner of Leek has rid himself of all the filthy trappings of relaxation. The baubles of sloth. The frippery of his atrophied idle hands which embarassingly sinks below the pant line at your aunts birthday party for innappropriate but well-deserved scratch.

Just to be clear these are things I am no longer associated with, though Meg will still anyone that listens I have the shrivelled cabbage-eating hands of a carny.

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“Now I know you’re not looking at mah chicky. Buckwheat, peck his eyes out.” 

So what’s been the fly juice since last we spoke I hear you bashfully ask. You’re absolutely adorable you know that? But if you cross me…

The summer only really kicked off three weeks before it ended as I travelled to Finland for workboy times. I had decided to stay near the airport as Helsinki is in actual fact quite far away from my house so my time exploring the city would have been minimised to a quick perusal of the recycling bins at the train station before turning tail and heading back.

So I went along to a work barbecue. There were huge slabs of deep marinated skirt steak. Pig middles. And a barrel full of flame-roasted shrimp the size of Don Cheadle’s man-parsnip. He calls it Dong Cheadle.

The next day was workmode but once I was done I was all set to luxuriate in my crapulence in the airport lounge. Look it up, it’s kosher. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to fully enjoy my Finnish wine and bulk-bought minipretzels in the style to which I have become accustomed. Stressors included a last minute phone call, writing up a final draft of a report and a highly autistic kid who was happily smashing his head into a wooden panel as I tried to dampen the intensity of my concerned glances at his mother. She was getting into the soup. Can hardly blame her.

Soup like.

soupwshaqAs a young boy I often dreamed of being a cup of soup. This cup. 

I feel like they would have been well-served by acknowledging that soup can function as a snack. The tagline writes itself. Christ even have a meal deal with Shaquille O’Neal.  Cop a feel and make him squeal. That’s the soup competition in prison.

My talents are wasted.

So I flew back the three hours to London, arriving with just enough time to have a full and hearty evening of packing. For verily, the next morning Meg and I departed for the True North Strong and Free. With a national currency known as the TimBit and the Head of State recognisable by their Canadian Crown of hockeyplayer’s molars studded into a maple syrup-lacquered moose antler, Canada is a nation of contrasts.

This was my third time in Canada in about 18 months, so I’m a real dab hand at… that. I’ll admit I just wanted to say dab hand. Because it’s weird.

This is normally where I might include an image illustrating my point. But apparently Dab Hand is quite a common name for both fake penises and bongs. So just imagine that here.

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Or if you’ve got a crummy imagination, just enjoy a brief reprise for R-Money.

Meg and I got to the airport in jig time and we wandered straight through security like Drake or Bonnie Tyler or one of them other celebrity arseholes. As it happened I could sneak Meg into the airport lounge much like a grubby Leonardo DiCaprio street urchin, up from steerage with all the Guiness swigging wastrels to the Captains table with Billy Zane.

She kept reaching out to pick something up and then pausing hand hovering in the air while she looked for me, waiting for the inevitable nod. She had a light pre-flight lunch of M&Ms and Baileys, like a rockstar.

I sampled some Drambuie without ice and regretted it more than the time I asked a lady with a potbelly in a Japanese bar, “Baby… in stomach?”

We then walked out, filled with chocolate and sweetened boozes onto the plane when we got the best surprise you can get when getting onto a plane. “Please turn left.”

UPGRADE! Like finding a bucket of fried chicken under a pile of dirty pants, we happened upon a real tasty meat-treat. In the shape of premium economy. Not quite Business Class. But definitely not cattle class.

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Not that cattle aren’t the hero of their own story. They just don’t get the leg room we do.

That seems an obvious point at which to leave our boozed-up heros, hurtling through space with our heads on cushions on a chemical toilet wall on 10,000 ft of North Atlantic air.

Poetry ‘n’ ting.

In other news Meg and I have been battering it with the life admin. The washing machine has been whirling like a stanky wet dervish since we came back and bar a bit of jetlag (and associated conciliatory curry) we have been going to bed at good Christian hours of the evening and eating more thick green leaves than a Californian cult leader. Cult leaders eat healthy. Anything as fun as leading a cult, they want to stick around as long as possible to see how good it gets.

the-wicker-man-6DO THE HUSSLE! Also, no more bras, we’re done with them.

I have also started running again and as well as a blog, podcast, facebook page and twitter account, I am also now the food photo-taking owner of an honest to God Instagram account. And boyos, I’m bloody hooked. Not a scabby pigeon goes by with out me taking a photo, dawbing a filter over it and thinking I’m all deep and soulful.

I’m a real fancy boy now. You wouldn’t believe I’m the same guy that used to soak his runners in Dettol.

Well you would. You’ve always hated me.

Typical you.

Tyler of Leek

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Babkoner of Leek

About her freshwater kin, I’ll cast no aspersions,

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Or she’d poison my IrnBru, it’s Nicola “our only hope” Sturgeon!

I decided to use my opening photo reference for good rather than… well not evil but mocking nonsense as is my norm. I kinda need to keep leaders of other countries sweet right now. You already know why.

So my monthly unblogged weekend has passed and thusly my blog gland drippeth (forsooth!) with what I can only assume is hilarious anecdotes, quippery and the very height of befuddlery that I have cobbled together to call my human life.

Life bit the first! Last Saturday I woke with a start to see that my car to the airport was waiting already outside my door. Due to an alarm-setting malfunction (lack of doing the thing) I slept through to the minute I was meant to leave for the airport to head to New York, but being the canny traveler I am I leave loads of time for such foolishness and made it to the airport after taking the retrospectively merciful move to take a quick shower. The overnight humidity these past weeks has my morning plums as ripe as a doonbuggy on a Lousiana corncob. Apologies, I’ve been talking to Americans for a few days. That’s how they all talk.

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“I been bucking like a hoohaa on the 4th of July eatin’ mah backtack ‘n’ scrapple and doin’ the Charleston on a cottonpick.” – 21st President of the United States Chester A. Arthur (pictured)

After arriving at the airport and getting my newly refreshed plums pawed at by mayor of the gropetown, I was into the building and after demolishing some stale pastries I got onto my plane only to realise that the fools had bumped me like a late dinner reservation to the waft zone by the toilets. But in this case, the Bidness Class toilet! Victoire! Yes as a governmentally-acknowledged fancy boy, they planted me into a full reclining seat with all the modcons including champlane, air d’oeurves before my meal (just one more, keep it going Marky-boy, that’s my new nickname for myself BUT NO TIME FOR THAT NOW) and a really, nice… jet towel? For my neck. Oh no. I’m sorry.

My first two days in NYC, were both hot and chafy but heightened by the presence of one Ian Prince, a former Japan inmate (no really it was great(no really it was a prison of the body AND the mind (beanpaste as a dessert made to look like chocolate!? (these are just some words to have a quadruple bracket closing off my bloggy bucketlist)))).

We sauntered around like cocks of the walk, perusing the finery and giving our heart valves over to a strict and strenuous regimen of alcohol, pork and salted salt. The Americans really know how to destroy an organ legally and with utmost, albeit short-lived enjoyment. In this vein (and still in my veins) was a fresh and sugar soaked chocolate babka.

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If that specifically New York confectionary sounds familiar. Congratulations/commiserations, we are kin.

It glistened in the afternoon sun, steamed with just-baked sweetness and bounced off the disgusting New York Union Square pavement as we dropped half of it and tasted even better when we picked it back up and continued eating. It was insane. Calories easily in the thousands. Shame in the millions. I want one! (tears off t-shirt Hulk-style to reveal a flabby wrinkled torso, babka flakes suspended in my man-breast-fluff).

I regret nothing.

We continued the food tour to include the birth of New York hipsterdom in Brooklyn. As they say in New York, you can’t spell Brooklyn without… all the letters. And some education. A pen. Or a mouth. It’s a nice spot. Brooklyn!

Inspired by this brush with trendiness I also engaged in several highly trendy behaviours.  One such move (I call things I do “moves” now, it’s trendier that way) I went to watch Ferris Bueller in a park in Manhattan, swigging Cava from a communal bottle and trendily mixing up Mia Sara with Mia Farrow. Easily done, but one of these didn’t stumble upon the creepy fact that her boyfiend (no typo, typno) Woody Allen was shtupping her young  (and I mean YOUNG!) adopted daughter.

Director Allen and his wife Previn pose at premiere of "To Rome with Love" in Los Angeles

How could he… resist? And of course his appeal is. Obvious. <leaves room>

Another trendy move (it’s already passé to call it that) was to go to a house party in Harlem. As we approached the house there was a lot of shouting and policey lights in the area we were heading to but we veered hard right before anybody did any crimes to this simple country lad. Instead we had a boozey cheese sandwich party, where we discussed theatre, publishing and the complexities of the nomad life. I’m also pretty sure I straight up weed on her floor. New York rules are that New York Rules! And pee goes eeeverywhere.

In other news… Brexit. I need to stop talking about it or I’m going to get both sad and angry for the umpteenth time since the turd-gobblers that constitute 52% of the voting UK public pulled back their dribble-soaked “Britain First” bedspreads and smeared their democratic contribution to the world across the walls of their padded voting booths. And I will stop talking about it after this one spindly point. 52% of people did a dumb thing, but this thing has been coming for a while. This place is way more f’d than people thought, me included (though perhaps I should have known better and assumed worse) and if there is any positive to come from this squirt-fight liquid dumbness it is as a warning to others. US, Ireland, anybody anywhere that cares about where they live (an admittedly long list) look at what’s happened and rid yourself of complacency. Real bad stuff can happen and on recent evidence, it bloody well will.

I can hear Meg sleeptalking upstairs. “I’m not an expert!!” Might be time to give her a break on discussing this blighted land.

Creme brul-hey-that guy’s on an airplane? Naw, you should go, this ain’t getting better.

Babkoner of Leek

The Toner of Refugeek

He never got round to learning piano,

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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.

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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…

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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