A losers diary


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It is...

...exactly 12 months today since I was last of any benefit to the trade in intoxicating beverages.

And, on a secondary note, the purveyors of dried tobacco leaf products haven't had any of my cash for 45 days now either.


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Something finally inspired me to write something here...wow.

I've probably mentioned I work on The South Bank, right by the London Eye. I am not (just) boasting about how lucky I am to be here every day, but because you need to know that to appreciate how busy and touristy it gets down by that part of the river as soon as the sun pops out.
I had the rare chance to getout for a full lunch hour yesterday, so went for a walk. Past the hoards of tourists, the jugglers, the mimes and the countless human statues.

And saw the best thing I have seen in such a long long time.
I watched an 18, 19 year old boy sneak up behind one of the statues and let out this loud cross between a scream and a roar in an obvious effort to scare one of the statues.

It didn't work.

Instead I saw the glorious sight of a blacked up* Winston Churchil turn with lightnening speed and slap the guy straight up the side of the head, in front of all his now mocking mates.


So wonderful in fact, that I got back to the office and told people while completely forgetting the fact that I had also seen The Queen and Prince Phillip getting a police escort along Northumberland Avenue.

The Queen! I've never seen The Queen before.

Any other day that would have been the highlight, but she is definitely overshadowed by Kung Fu Churchill.

*Um...as in 'head to toe in black so he looked like the bronze statue in Parliament Square'. Not in the 'about to burst into a rendition of "Mammy"' way.


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I don't think I have told this story yet

A few months ago, Private Eye ran a cartoon showing Batman and Spiderman attending the same party.

In the next issue, the following letter appeared:

'I would like to draw your attention to the error in your cartoon. While I am glad to see comics getting some attention in your esteemed organ, I should point out the glaring error in as much as Spiderman is published by Marvel Comics and Batman is published by DC Comics. As such the characcters exist in entirely separate universes and would never appear in the same cartoon.

Yours sincerely
Oliver French'

Well, I thought, how wrong can you be? And two weeks later, my letter appeared thus:


While it was nice of Oliver French to show an interest in comic books, despite the accuracy of his statement that Batman and Spiderman appear in separate universes, he is entirely wrong to state that they would never appear together. In fact they have been able to do so in many of the DC/Marvel crossovers that have been published down the years, as any true fan of comic book lore would be able to tell you. It is a good job I buy Private Eye to hide the comics I read on the train every morning in or this sort of nonsense would go entirely unchallenged.



And I was proud. A letter. In Private Eye...Me!

Until, two weeks later:


While burns1, correcting Oliver French, was indeed accurate that while Batman (published by DC comics) has appeared with his arachnid-based fellow superhero (published by Marvel Comics) over the years, I feel obliged to point out that the characters name is Spider-Man, not Spiderman. To refer to him as the latter would be like referring to Robert Killroy-Silk as thatbloodyidiot.

Lee Barnett'.

I hate Lee Barnett.


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There is nothing to see here, move along.

This is little more than a reminder to myself.

When I am feeling run down. When I am regretting the things I have done in the past that have bought me to where I am today. When I am thinking about people I have done wrong by and wishing I could change it. When I want to run away from work. When I am bored.

When I am feeling that there is not a lot worth celebrating.

I am wrong. These days I always have something to celebrate.

Yesterday it was 506 days since I last had a drink. Today is 507 and tomorrow, everything being equal, will be 508.

And that, even after a shit day that would have sent me to the pub in the past, is worth celebrating.


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Nick, for Gordy

This story may seem a little random, sorry.

At University, I lived in a house with 8 other friends. One of then was Claire. Claire was a vicar's daughter, but not a 'rebel against my Dad' type, but a really demure, sweet, lovely virginal type. She never crossed my radar as anyone I wanted to sleep with. But I did adore her. I felt like I protected her. When we had conversations about how she felt about men and sex and life, I felt like I was taking care of her.

Three years after we left Uni, although I had seen her a few times, I had never seen her with a man. Until I went to a house party at her house in Fulham, and I met this guy called Nick. He was a bit annoying, but nothing too bad.

And then I found out he was Claire's new boyfriend.

Suddenly, I hated him. I was jealous and angry and everything you may expect that a guy who never knew he wanted to sleep with a girl until he found out she was sleeping with someone else may feel.

Nick and I got drunk and bickered all night, I told him he was a cunt for supporting Chelsea, he told me I was pathetic for supporting Southend. He said I was a liberal dreamer and I said he was a capitalist cock.

Then I told him he looked like Barry Venison, and he said 'At least I don't look like Elvis Costello, the shit Elvis'

17 years later, he is married to Claire and we are very good friends. But that is a) why Diana DePasqule doesn't get the credit for calling me Elvis for the first time and b) why I needed a football fan today to tell Nick that just because Barry Venison is no longer famous and Elvis Costello is, he still looks like the motherfucker.
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What to say?

You know, I struggle to remember what I used to find to write about here. I think facebook and, more recently, Twitter, (@scarpe, for anyone who cares) have made me, if not lazy exactly, then certainly more keen to write short, snappy and (hopefully) funny one or two line things rather than reams of whatever inane garbage used to come streaming from these fingertips. But it’s not like I don’t still do things that I could maybe find to write about. They are different things in my currently still holding up sobriety, but they are still things. Admittedly they don’t seem to end in funny/strange/disastrous situations that I feel compelled to write about anymore, but then again half the things that seemed funny once don’t look so funny from this distance and changed perspective, so that’s no bad thing.

Maybe it’s a discipline thing and I need to just get back in the habit.

Although I suppose it could also be that I am not bored shitless in a job I hate trying to find a way to kill time as my soul slowly withers and dies at my desk. So that’s no bad thing either.


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Things I learned in Edinburgh

  • No matter how many flyers you give me over the course of three days, I am not going to see your One Woman Serbian War Survivor show. Not if your name is Clarissa and you were born in Shropshire. This also applies to your 'Jazz Funk New Orleans based Mikado', your 'Hamlet featuring Dracula and The Beatles' and 'Jason Mountford'
  • "Rock the Ballet" plays loose with the definition of both "Rock" and that of "Ballet" and really should just be called "The"
  • "Baby Wants Candy" are so much better than I imagined. And I expected great things anyway.
  • "Paul Merton And His Impro Chums" would actually be a far better show if it was just "His Impro Chums"
  • It is worth checking not only the time of a show, and the venue before you set out, but also the date. Otherwise you may spend an hour watching six Glaswegian women talk in incomprehensible accents in a 'dramatic' 'comedy' about the Scottish Working Class when you thought you were going to see the Cambridge University Improvisers who aren't on for another two days.
  • If you are going to pick me out of an audience and pretend that we had sex and I am the father of your child, be sure of how old you think I am - 'Can you prove you are not the father? Do you have an alibi for 18th October 1986?'. "yes, I was busy playing conkers with my other 12 year old friends"
  • Baby Wants Candy is, honestly, the best thing I have ever ever seen on stage. I believe the word is 'alchemy'.
  • Dave Gorman is not Jewish. Not that he minds being mistaken for being Jewish, but he is offended that The Jewish Chronicle put him in the top 25 literary Jews, but missed him off their list of Comedians.
  • It's a good job Olivia Lee is pretty, because someone who can't string a sentence together and appears to have no sense of humour shouldn't really be hosting a chat show interviewing comedians.
  • I never, ever, ever, want to see Puppetry of The Penis again in my life.
  • The Midnight Saturday Fireworks of The Edinburgh Tatoo are window shakingly loud.
  • A Camera Obscura is not as interesting in practice as it is in theory.
  • I am not the sort of person who you should show a pickled feotus to. Or a bullet wounded scrotum. Or a tumour the size of a bowling ball. or an eye operation. In fact, just never take me to a medical museum again please, I am even more squeamish than I had realised and I didn't enjoy lunch afterwards.
  • Did I say that "Baby Wants Candy" are without a shadow of a doubt the single most enjoyable theatrical or comedic experience of my entire adult life. Even better than that time I saw that video of the cat crossing a frozen pond.
  • There has got to be a better, faster and cheaper method of travelling across this country than Virgin Rail. Sledge? Rickshaw? Walking on tattered bloody stumps?
  • I could not possibly have done the Fringe if I was still drinking. Or at least, i could, but i wouldn't have enjoyed it. Well, I might have enjoyed it, but i wouldn't have survived it.
  • It's not easy to play a Kazoo.
  • Contortionists are far sexier in theory than in practice.
  • I love The Edinburgh Festival.
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Random Number

It's 576 days today.

I have no reason to mention that other than it's a) a lot and b) something that at one point I would have never believed to be possible.

Also, amazingly, I still haven't had a cigarette since I went to bed on 31 December 2010.


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In defence of Bill Hicks.

It seems commonplace to be anti-Bill Hicks these days. He seems to have become the point of focus for the adulation of too many people that don't really know why they idolise him.

In turn, this means there are too many people to willing to say how they think he was shit and that people that like him only do so because 'everyone else does'.

Well, this was my counterpoint to the person that said 'he hardly had any material, I watched a documentary and they kept repeating the same bits'.

It includes my final line, that was trying to deflate the fact I come across as an overly serious arse who analyses comedy far too much BECAUSE OF YOU IRC! YOU TURNED ME INTO THIS:

"The thing is, this was a touring Comedian not a TV comedian.
And touring comedians will keep the same set for years, because people don't get familiar with it. Comedy wasn't about 'superstars' releasing a DVD every Christmas and having to write a whole new set every 12 months at that time.

Obviously we have no idea how prolific or otherwise Hicks may have been in a different era or different situation, but he certainly was no different in the quantity of his output than any obscure but working stand up comedian would be.

Add to that his relatively short career and the even more limited timespan in which he was actually well known enough to have any of his stuff recorded for posterity.

The difference between him and most is that he went stratospheric after he died, so there is only a limited pool to choose from. I think it's a combination of over-adulation and a life cut short that leaves documentarians repeating the same bits over and over.

I think about things like this too much, don't I?"
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"If it's not one thing, its the smother"

I got a massive Mother's Day hug from the woman that birthed me today. A hug given while she had tears in her eyes and love in her heart. A hug of the sort that she hasn't given me very often in my life.

I got it because the card I gave her was 'beautiful' and 'wonderful' and 'really special' apparently.

It has made me feel quite guilty. It was a card I picked up in 30 seconds in a train station. It didn't have any thought put into it and it didn't come with a present. After last year when I tried and got no level of appreciation at all,this year I just picked up a card on my way to see her.

The card says (all punctuation is 'sic') 'Especially For You...Mum. ON MOTHER'S DAY. OFTEN forget to remind you MUM and sometimes, forget to say The Kind of things that YOU should hear every single day...So let's Hope these special wishes will somehow show a part Of all the love, For you MUM, that's always in my HEART'

Last year, I was actually aware it was Mother's Day and I put some thought into it. I thought I'd try to make her laugh. I bought her a card that said "You're like a Mum to me". I didn't get a hug.

The moral of this story is that sometimes Hallmark knows best. And grammar doesn't matter.

Oh, and Mother's Day isn't a day to try to be funny.


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The End. (An author(')s note)

Something had been nagging at me about this place. I realised what it was.

I left this thing hanging, as if it was something I would come back to one day. Actually, I've realised that is not going to happen.

At the end of a book, particularly an autobiography, you get an author's note that covers off any loose ends. It would take some sort of pretentious twat to to do the same for a silly internet blog.

Fortunately, I am that twat.

It's been fun, people. Thank you for making it so. Thank you Michelle, for turning into the best possible friend I have ever had who lives so far away. Thank you to every single one of you in NY who made me feel so welcome. Thank you to those of you that visited me. I am sorry that I wasn't always sober when you did so. (If you ever come back to England, I will be next time).

Thank you to the people I can't name because we share things that it is not my place to tell other people about. Thank you for your time and my mug.

Thank you to Ali, for bringing me to this place and making me find Improv and thank you to Kevin, for having this place and making me learn about Improv.

Thank you to all you fuckers that make me call it Improv when everyone else in my country doesn't use the 'V'.

Clean Up NY Day people: I swear, I am still proud that I took part in that. Thank you for being there and not making me feel weird for being the Brit who had no reason to.

My last, and most important Thank You is to the people that let me stay in their houses when I visited New York. I was a stranger to you and yet you opened your door to me. It is something that I will never, ever, forget.

And now, those loose ends: I don't really even talk to CCFF these days. She's actually not really that nice a person. She got married. In Greece. I was invited. My girlfriend wasn't.

And, really, finally, after 7 years, that girlfriend left me in April. There could be a whole new journal to come out of that, but I can't be bothered to write it.

I'll still be here, watching and reading.

Thank you.

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One last thing.

I think I was too coy. The people that opened their doors to me were Jed & Teresa. It was the kindest act that I have ever been the recipient of.

Thank you.

PS: Michelle did the same for me, but as she's one of the best friends I have ever had, she doesn't really need an extra name check.

PPS: Yet she got one anyway.