Music And Writing by Aidan Thorn

Music and writing, for me have always gone hand in hand. I can’t write without something on in the background (right now? Rival Sons, if you have to know). I guess it could be because I’m a failed musician that’s turned his hand to writing for that creative outlet. I actually find I enjoy the writing more – and it seems so does the audience, which is nice. But, I still think it’s a shame that my funk metal rap outfit, Acid Fungi, never took off when I was 14 – I think we had something in that one awkward jam session where the only person that could play his instrument was a young Daniel Pugsley, who’s actually a bona fide rock star these days as the bass player in reggae-metal band, Skindred.
It’s little wonder that when I first started writing, naively diving straight in with a novel, one of my main characters was a failed rock musician from a ‘90’s band that had found grunge a couple of years too late. I filled it with references of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains and Soundgarden. I remember re-visiting all of those classic albums during the writing of that book and getting lost for hours in tunes I hadn’t heard in years.
And, the novella I’m working on, that is probably a couple of weeks off finished, focuses on the accidental kidnapping of a rock star by a group of clueless twenty-somethings. I guess a psychiatrist would have a field day with me for putting my rock star characters in challenging situations.
With my short stories I feel they’re even more linked to my relationship with music. Because, every short story I’ve ever written gets a soundtrack in my head, it’s based on what I was listening to at the time of writing. And, I can pretty much remember every one of them. During much of the writing of my latest collection, Urban Decay, I was listening to a lot of British music – Xfm’s become a bit of a fixture in my life.
And so, the soundtrack to which I wrote my collection of stories set in the dark corners of urban Britain has a distinctly British flavor to it. Bloc Party, Jamie T, Kasabian, Arctic Monkeys, Stone Roses, Pulp, Oasis, Blur, The Stones all feature heavily in my mind’s ear as I read back stories from this latest collection.
As a character walks a city street in my story, ‘Lucky’, in my head they do it with a swagger to the beat of Jamie T’s ‘Don’t You Find’. Morning breaks in my tale ‘Sign of the Times’ and for me Ben Howard provides the tunes. As the protagonists in ‘The Replacement’ drive through deserted urban streets at night, my ear hears Bloc Party’s ‘Banquet’ from their car stereo. And, as violence breaks out, as it inevitably does in many of the stories in a collection called Urban Decay, my head is filled with tracks by Royal Blood, Arctic Monkeys and The Prodigy.
There’s a distinctly British voice to Urban Decay. I’d suggest you grab a copy, dust off your Jam, Clash or Stone Roses LP’s and settle down for some tales from the underbelly of the city.

Aidan Thorn is a 33-year-old writer from Southampton, England, home of the Spitfire and Matthew Le Tissier but sadly more famous for Craig David and being the place the Titanic sailed from before sinking. Aidan would like to put Southampton on the map for something more than sinking ships and terrible R’N’B music. His latest short story collection ‘Urban Decay’ is available now and more about his writing can be found here http://aidanthornwriter.weebly.com/

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Andi Ware On: Why everyone should know about Jack Monroe.

Jack Monroe cooking

I want to begin by apologising to those that are aware of Jack Monroe and the difference that she has made. As January draws to a close it perhaps a little late to consider New Year’s resolutions but if like me you are a little heavier than you were before the festive period it may be worth taking the advice of this lady.

I first became aware of the Girl Called Jack in 2012 when I heard a feature on her on Radio 4’s The Woman’s Hour. I remember this vividly because everything she said seemed to strike a chord with me due some of my own recent experiences. For those that don’t know who Jack Monroe is she is a writer, journalist and poverty campaigner. She first gained a profile within the British press for her ultra-affordable recipes. After leaving her job at Essex County Fire and Rescue Service she felt the strain of being a single parent. The difficulty that she experienced in trying to feed her son coupled with remarks made by a local (Southend on Sea) Councillor that ‘druggies, drunks and single mums are ruining the High Street.’ caused Jack to respond with a blog called ‘A Girl Called Jack’ in which she wrote about issues facing those that were reliant on benefits and suggest ideas for good quality, low cost meals. The main stream press soon became interested Jack’s blog and Monroe soon featured in the Independent. She has since described Xanthe Clay’s article; ‘My 49p Lunch With A Girl Called Jack’, as the moment that changed her life.

The reason why I was so taken with Monroe’s story in 2013 was because I had at the time recently been through a time of financial difficulty. In 2011 I was made redundant. I was luckier than some in that I managed to secure some part time work immediately. However, I still found that my income was now a third of what it had been. Working only 2 and a half days a week meant that I on Thursday mornings I could shop but shop in my own way. This involved arming myself with what I dubbed the Skintsack; this was an old canvas rucksack that I had bought for a camping holiday a few years previous. Climbing on my bike I would head out to the outskirts of Hull where I would visit several farm shops where I was able to fill the Skintsack with fresh eggs, a back-breaking amount of fresh vegetables and fruit all for a less than a tenner. I would then hit the budget supermarkets where I would stock up on meat and fish. I would find that for little more than the cost of a large Domino’s pizza I was able to prepare quality meals for a week or so. It was during this period that I feel that I truly learned to cook. What I learned about cooking during this period was that it can be a hugely socially emancipating experience. Preparing a meal for four and knowing that it cost less than a fiver gives you a great sense of satisfaction.

At this point I feel that I must clear something up. I am not preaching, in that I am not suggesting that everyone on a low income should trawl their local rural areas for farm shops and cycle 15 miles just to gather the ingredients for an affordable meal. You see this is the beauty of Jack Monroe, all of the ingredients for her recipes can be found in Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury’s. Monroe is an advocate of value range foods and all of her recipes consist of these. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of Monroe’s recipes is that they work, are very good and whilst following them you learn that good food can actually be very affordable whilst bad food tends to be incredibly expensive. I don’t wish to stereotype but I can only speak of my experience. In 2011 it just so happened that my wife and I had to move in to social rented housing on one of Hull’s most deprived estates. Both of us were struck by the number of take away deliveries we saw. Every night the estate was buzzing with hatch backs with Domino’s (other providers of pizza are available) signs on the roof or many of the local fast food establishments. I remember thinking about the amount of money that had been spent in the area on poor quality, high fat foods, in area that was not noted for material affluence. This probably sounds incredibly patronising and condescending. But I feel that it is food for thought. If these families had been aware of Jack Monroe would their eating habits have changed? Perhaps not, but the financial and health benefits may have been enormous had they had the same outlook as Jack.

Last year Jack Monroe excelled herself when she proposed that everyone that bought Starbuck’s coffee in the mornings on the way to work should for one day only have a filter coffee at home and spend the money that they would usually spend on their Starbuck’s on tins of value range food that they should then donate to a local food bank. A beautifully simplistic idea, perhaps if the British public did this for a week it may go some way to addressing the balance of Starbuck’s tax avoidance.

Whether you need austerity cuisine in your life or not Jack Monroe certainly deserves a degree of respect for what she has achieved in such a short period of time. He column including recipes are a weekly feature in The Guardian and her cook book is available in book shops now.

Xavier DwyerAndi Ware is 33 years-old, married and has a small dog called Oliver. He is a paid-up member of the Labour Party and used to play bass in semi-legendary Hull band Sal Paradise. In his spare time he makes his own wine and watches rugby league. He once claimed his favourite album was Electric Warrior by T.Rex, which was a complete lie. He holds a degree in Philosophy, but you’d already guessed that. Find him tweeting at @AWareA5

 

Breathless (2008), A Review….By Martyn Taylor

breathless-movie-poster

I don’t write too many articles these days, but the other night I watched a film and felt inspired to write a short review about it. The film in question is a Korean film (with subtitles) called Breathless. It was shown on Film 4 a few weekends ago as part of their foreign film season. It was shown at the ungodly time of about 2 o’clock in the morning so I recorded it.

I had managed to watch most of the foreign film season, most were good , but others were utter shite….but Breathless really caught my eye. initially because of the warning in the synopsis ‘…VERY STRONG LANGUAGE AND VIOLENCE …’ This sounded like my cup of tea.

The lead protagonist (played by Yang Ik Joon (who also wrote, directed and produced the film)) is called Sang-Hoon, a truly despicable, volatile, debt collector with a particular passion for violence and intimidation. he beats up his debtors with vigour, but his anger often over spilled onto his work colleagues without warning in random acts of violence.

A chance meeting with a high-school girl called Yeon-Hue, that he met on his way home is the main plot of the film. Despite initially spitting at her and punching her, she shows no fear of him, this seems to draw her to him. We learn through flashbacks that both main characters suffered from domestic violence while growing up and throughout their lives. Yeon-Hue sees the best in Sang-Hoon and an awkward relationship ensues. This friendship seems to help Sang-Hoon develop greater relationships with his sister, nephew, work colleagues and father.

You can see a twist coming from a mile off, and you know it can only go in two directions. Although I kind of knew what was coming, I never expected it to happen in the desperately shocking and heart-breaking way that it does.

Anyone who is easily offended by bad language and gratuitous violence should give this film a wide birth, but I implore you to overlook the initial violence and profanity and give the relationship a chance. I decided to write this review because I happened upon this film by chance, and I didn’t want anybody else to miss out on this little-known gem. Please catch this film if you can and let me know what you think. Cheers.

mart questionsMartyn Taylor is a 32 year-old father of three and lives in Hull. His pastimes include watching 80s action films over and over again and and debating the all-time Premiership XI with Mr Miles. His knowledge of American sitcoms of the 90s stands second to none. He once walked into a men’s public lavatory absent-mindedly singing the theme tune from Two And A Half Men. You can find him on http://www.twitter.com/shirleysblower but he never tweets, so just follow him on here.

Andi Ware On: Why I won’t be wearing a Poppy this November

Once again we have reached that time of year where we are asked to remember our fallen service men and women, when the sepia tone of November is contrasted with the blood red of paper poppies. In the coming weeks we will see countless poppies fastened to the lapels of our politicians, newsreaders and business leaders, but not mine. Once again I will neglect to wear a poppy this year and as always my reasons for doing so will be largely misunderstood. I have in the past been accused by friends and colleagues as lacking respect or possessing a degree of impertinence. That truth is that neither is true. There are a number of reasons why I refuse to pin a small paper flower to my lapel each year but a lack of respect of acknowledgement of the sacrifice of others are not one of those.

This year marked the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of WW1, a fact that will no doubt make this year’s remembrance that little more emotionally charged. In acknowledgment of this the Government pledged to spend around £50 million marking the occasion. The sentiment of all ceremonies and monuments are to remind us that the 1914-1918 conflict was a fight for freedom and democracy. I find this hard to swallow. Many of those that died in that horrendous war did not know real freedom because they lived in abject poverty and were never truly represented by members of parliament. The working classes (who made up 80% of Britain’s population in 1913) were all too often forced into enlisting by propaganda or were press-ganged by employers. For those young men the notion of freedom and democracy was an incomprehensible concept.

Some years ago when I first read Robert Tressell’s The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists I was struck by an acute sense of sadness. Not only was it the desperation of the protagonists in Tressell’s turn of the century tale of the woes of working men in England, but it was also the understanding that many of these characters (the novel is based on Robert Noonan’s real life experience as a painter and decorator in Hastings) would face the horrific great war just a couple of years after the book’s conclusion. For me the poppy is a reminder of the misinterpretation of WW1, that it was somehow a noble war in the name of freedom and democracy. For those young men the notion of freedom and democracy was an incomprehensible concept.

It is a curious symbol, the poppy. In the last decade or so it appears to have been elevated into something transcendental. The phenomena of poppy burning which has led to arrests under the Malicious Communications Act seem to have elevated the simple poppy, sold by children and war veterans, to a higher status. The image of the burning poppy seems to be an insult on our very being. It is my argument that we have become so obsessed by the protection of this sacred symbol that we have neglected to recognise its true meaning. Could it be that our protestation over the burning or defacing of poppies is actually a manifestation of guilt? It is my argument that as a society we have become so removed from the real sacrifice made by those that have died in past conflicts that the poppy is worn with pride but worn in lieu of any empathy. The wearing of the poppy for many is the equivalent of hitting the Like icon on social networking sites. By Liking something we feel that we are displaying a certain kinship. Be it with a sentiment, emotion, cause or charity this simple act of tapping a keyboard has replaced solidarity in the internet age.

For some time my wife has been bothered, or rather incensed by the fact that in England young women are not offered a screening for Ovarian Cancer (a procedure that should take place for young women under the age of 21 or when they become sexually active) whereas screenings are offered in Scotland. Like many she has subscribed to pages on social media showing support for women who have died at a tragically young age due to the illness. Recently I suggested that she inquire on a social media site whether those who had Liked a page dedicated to raising awareness of cervical cancer would be willing to go on a march. She did not receive one response. It appears that political activism in our society has been reduced to Liking a page on a social media site or posting a one line comment. For me the wearing of the poppy occupies the same space. It is worn in lieu of something real such as genuine emotion.

So this year rather than wearing a poppy I shall take some time out to imagine what life in a trench might have been like, or what seeing off a relative (I have two brothers both of similar age to many service men and women) who would never return. I shall do this because this is a time for remembrance and not symbolism.

Xavier DwyerAndi Ware is 33 years-old, married and has a small dog called Oliver. He is a paid-up member of the Labour Party and used to play bass in semi-legendary Hull band Sal Paradise. In his spare time he makes his own wine and watches rugby league. He once claimed his favourite album was Electric Warrior by T.Rex, which was a complete lie. He holds a degree in Philosophy, but you’d already guessed that.

Putting The “Fun” In Funeral by Gill Hoffs

As a depressed teenager, I spent a considerable amount of time scrawling my funeral set-list in the back of my school folders (along with biro drawings of gravestones and dangling bodies, but I digress) instead of learning about tenses in Latin and French and how to do something hideously complicated with sin, tan, and log (still no idea). Cheery choons such as the Manics’ “From Despair to Where” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qFewXLjXTSU and their version of “Suicide is Painless” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y11f8Oc25AI were on there along with Radiohead’s “Creep” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyRh1EOyKOM . I’m now happy and healthy – phew! – but along with setting out actual practical preferences for disposing of my meatsack when I do finally pop my clogs (sky burial or body farm just FYI as I’m a bit worried I’ll be buried/burnt alive and this is safest in case I wake up) I figured it might be fun to get some possibilities on the internet where everything is forever, unlike me.

So in no particular order:

The Final Taxi – Wreckless Eric (thanks to The Workshy Fop for this recommendation!) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHBwBfqYhIM

Who Wants To Live Forever? – Queen http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Jtpf8N5IDE

Born To Die – Lana Del Rey http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bag1gUxuU0g

Lump – Presidents of the United States of America http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-aPyvRL9n4

Live Forever – Oasis http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_2mWhfOhGU

I Know You’re Out There Somewhere – Moody Blues http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjImFYf2Vzc

Don’t Fear The Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ClQcUyhoxTg

Do You Realize? – The Flaming Lips http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPXWt2ESxVY

Waltz #2 (XO) – Elliott Smith http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2sfwky4RqQ

Street Spirit (Fade Out) – Radiohead http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IrTB-iiecqk it’s also one of the coolest videos ever.

Goodbye Stranger – Supertramp http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ld6ombnGnA

Play Dead – Bjork http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHiHZ35TPfM

If I die of the plague or something similarly foul and catching and thus require cremation, the Bangles’ classic “Eternal Flame” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSoOFn3wQV4 is also a must, and if it’s windy then of course “Smoke gets in your eyes” by The Platters http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u3l001-zSA4 . But if I’m not left out on a mountain for carrion crows or fenced off somewhere for experiments with maggots (my body’s so full of chocolate and Nutella they’ll likely look like fat wriggly vermicelli), or burnt into a dusty grey sneeze-hazard, then clearly Faith No More’s “Digging the Grave” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Grx08ehxXMM should be blasting out followed by The Cranberries’ “Zombie” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Ejga4kJUts .

If my fleshbag is disposed of on a Sunday (I’m atheist so maybe this would be a good day since most people I know are free) then clearly The Associates’ version of “Gloomy Sunday” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBmjfFlq0cA would be fun, especially since it includes the cop-out but beautiful verse about it all being just a dream.

If I started to believe in reincarnation, I’d hope to be present at the big send-off somehow (preferably not as the oft imagined fly-on-the-wall) while Grizzly Bear’s “Yet Again” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AuG9i5cwGW0 was playing. And while I’m wishing for specifics, let nobody who comes bring cut flowers or snottery tears but petfood for shelters and Nutella for foodbanks instead. And let them recollect the most cringe-making things I’ve ever done loud and proud (but only once I’m dead).

The Telegraph published a list last year which had Sinatra’s “My Way” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePs6bHsQx6A as the top funeral tune, followed by Brightman and Bocelli’s “Time to say goodbye” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWQbuJ24Wzg . It’s probably fair to
say that if anything in good taste or that might be accused of being spiritually uplifting is played I’ll be rolling like the cartoon cherries in a fruit machine, and the only reason I’d want something like “Jar of hearts” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVFgfuiyBHw (the Glee version, naturally) played is if my body’s healthy enough to be used for organ donation. Fingers crossed it will.

I should probably note at this point that when my husband read this through his exact words were, “Hen, if you go first, I’m playing “Tramp The Dirt Down” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9t4-zDem1Sk . That’s an appalling list of songs. I hope I die first.” Any more of that and he won’t need a magic lamp and a genie to grant his wish. Anyway…

While “She’s Not Dead” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6s9rbLeBlE is a very tempting final choice (ahem), I think really the closing number should be “The Next Life” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ur5qz2X1vAE by the utterly shaggable Suede, though it might be more fun to opt for “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pIgZ7gMze7A by Wham!. My list seems awfully short compared to the dozens of indie tracks I used to detail behind my schoolwork, so do feel free to add suggestions below.

 

hoffsGill Hoffs lives with her family and Coraline Cat in a horribly messy house in Warrington. Find her on facebook or as @gillhoffs on twitter, email her a dirty joke at gillhoffs@hotmail.co.uk, or leave a clean comment at http://gillhoffs.wordpress.com/ ‘Wild: a collection’, her word-mixture of sea creatures, regret, and murder, is out now from Pure Slush. Get it here.
Gill’s often-sad sometimes-grisly nonfiction book ‘The Sinking of RMS Tayleur: The Lost Story of the ‘Victorian Titanic” is out now from Pen & Sword. Get it in bookshops or http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/The-Sinking-of-RMS-Tayleur-Hardback/p/6053. Feel free to send her chocolate.

Sleep Paralysis by Danny Gouldson

Have you ever experienced the loss of movement and inability to talk or scream out? Well I’m not talking about being wasted after a skinful down the local boozer, I am in fact describing two of the many symptoms of sleep paralysis.

The first time it happened to me, I absolutely shit myself! I didn’t know what the hell was going on, and I didn’t know if I would live through the night to find out. I remember it feeling like I had only just closed my eyes for a second, but then in an instant I was hit by this extremely loud buzz noise which echoed as it sounded, attacking my nervous system and jump starting me awake. My instant reaction was to jump up and out of bed, but as I tried to sit upright I couldn’t, I was physically rooted to the spot and no matter how hard I focused my mind on wriggling free, I was just left with a feeling of desperation and vulnerability.

I wanted to scream for help at the top of my voice, but I couldn’t, all I could manage was a feeble moan from the back of my throat while the build up of saliva spilled from the edges of my mouth. Little did I know this was only the start of things to come, because the moment I realised I still at least had control over the movement of my eyes, I looked down along my body to my feet, to try and identify what the heavy object was pinning my legs to the bed, and I saw a dark figure sat on top of me. The figure appeared motionless and transparent, and made no noises or indications to what his or her intention was, but my heart sank and began to drown in fear and dread. I could only assume I was going to be killed, for whatever reason this ghost had to want to reveal itself to me could only be for something horrible, otherwise why would it be sat on me? And why had it paralysed me, leaving me with only the function of my eyes in order to make me have to watch what it had in mind.

All I knew is that I had to escape from the dark magic that had me invisibly gagged and bound. I pressed and probed with my mind mentally wrestling to free my body from its trap, harder and harder I focused all of my energy to move, and then like the flick of a switch I sprang into life, so quick that I cranked my neck as I flung myself bolt upright off the bed and onto the floor. But before I got up to race out of the door I took a second as I noticed a feeling of calm softly sweeping through me and leaving me feeling almost invigorated, as if I had just been reborn. And so, as I sat there, in the dark, confused as to what had just happened to me, I took a breath, picked myself up and switched on the light.

danny gDanny Gouldson is a 31 year old man-child, who resides on the dukeries in the City of Culture 2017. He enjoys discovering new hobbies but loses interest very quickly. He isn’t making any predictions for his future or any solid plans until he has experienced his full mid life crisis.

18 Stone Weightloss by Mike Waudby

33 stone…..how the hell did that happen? Well, with severe depression, slow metabolism and your best friend is 3000 calories a day worth of alcohol, pretty easy.

I was a ‘geek’ at school, got bullied both at home and in the classroom which really does have a long lasting negative effect in anything you wish to achieve. But this is not an x-factor audition so I won’t start whinging how bad things was and certainly will not call my weight loss a fucking journey!

My alcoholic sister was regularly beating my mum up, blaring music in her room till 4am (she still does, she is 42 by the way) and generally being an all-round horrible cow. I reached 18 and I could and should have moved out of my parent’s home by now but all I had was a shitty car valetting job and my best grade at school was a D, this plus massive confidence issues I decided to turn to booze. Booze at the time made everything better, my heart didn’t beat as fast when my sister kicked off, I found shit T.V slightly more interesting and being sat on your own wasn’t that bad.

I always wanted to become a wrestler, and despite drinking I was hitting the gym, by the age of 20 I was benching 300 pounds for 10 reps…. and had 20 inch guns (ok, of a lot of that was fat) unfortunately though I took some pretty bad nutrition advice so despite the huge strength gains, I also got huge weight gains. By the age of 21, I was 22 stone, I still went out and socialised and got stupidly drunk, drinking a bottle of whisky before I even went out. I was with Andy “Beast” Hawkins in Sharkey’s when a girl came up to me and said “Excuse me, do you mind leaving?” “Why?” I asked. “Because you’re making me and my friends feel sick.” Wow…….fucking wow, you just destroyed me while the whole pub heard, stared and laughed. That was the last time I went out in public, apart from going to doctor’s for 7 years.

My life now started with alcohol, I needed it, locked in my bedroom away from the chaos. It made……well, made me just less bored. Andy would visit now and then and we would drink and talk shit but other than that, it was just me for 7 years (oh, and whisky, beer and whatever was cheap) I would order my drink online and have it delivered. My God my maths was good, I could calculate in my head quantity, amount of units and compare all the prices within seconds. I got the most for the money!

Apart from watching TV for 7 years, there was the internet….in particular my female friends. I would talk to girls for hours on MSN or MySpace; one is even a page 3 girl now. In all there were 7, I kept them interested with my personality, unfortunately they had no idea I was 33 stone. I know this wasn’t fair on them but I was drunk and lonely. And it’s not like we were in love, we just had a giggle and talked for hours. Obviously they eventually wanted pictures and when I didn’t deliver, I don’t blame them for disappearing.

The eyes of a man who'd given up.

The eyes of a man who’d given up.

One night while listening to GNR with my headphones I thought what life is this? I had terrible pains where I put my body as so much weight was on it, even resting my arm on the armrest would result in shooting pains in my fingers, I was too scared to go to a gym as people pointed and laughed at me in the street so I thought fuck it, drunk 2 bottles of whisky (Jackobite….blah) 8 cans of Stella and as many paracetamol and valium tablets I could find. I lost consciousness listening to my fav band GNR. I remember waking up, no headache, no pains just a sickening feeling that I was still here and not dead.

I spent most nights after this continuing to get drunk and crying myself to sleep. I could go a lot deeper into my thoughts at the time but I’ll stop here and tell you what I did to save my life. One night, God knows what you call it but reality set in, I’ve wasted everything and lost everything, the only person that can do something is me. I ordered a cross-trainer off the internet, set it up in my room and gave it a test. Wasn’t bad, seemed to handle my weight. That night I didn’t drink. First time in about 9 years and fuck me it was hard! I woke up about 7 times that night like something was stabbing me in the chest and I couldn’t breathe. Weird shit but morning came and I got through day 1. Cross trainer time! Jumped on and worked a sweat up fast, wow I thought I’m doing ace, getting really out of breath though, and thought “best stop.” Reckoned I was on there for a good 10 mins…… looked down it was 2 min 22 secs. Oh.

Something clicked though, I think the thought of me being locked away and couldn’t escape to do something about my weight…..well, that’s not an issue now, I can do something and I fucking damn well did. I built up to three 1-hour sessions a day and didn’t touch a drop of booze! It took about 6 weeks for the stabbing pains/seeing black things move in the corner of my eye to stop but I was away, I was doing something about it. Saying that, it was mentally the hardest thing I’ve endured; why did I let other people affect me to the point that I ended up this bad? Why didn’t I punch that bully in the face? Many more things…. Every session on the cross strainer ended up with me taking my 4XL dripping wet t-shirt off and just looking down at my belly crying. But each time I picked myself up and carried on. My father who I fell out with years ago so admired and was proud of what I was doing he started talking with me again, and thank god he did because without his support I could have cracked up……even more! I smashed that cross-trainer’s bearings about 8 times with my weight and power, luckily my dad was an engineer and fixed it instantly as he knew how important it was.

It took 18 months for me to lose 18 stone, the demons in my head along the way were still there and now I had a major problem. Loose skin. I looked disgusting, everything I did I felt was a waste, doctor wouldn’t help me, I felt just as disgusting as I did when I was 33 stone. I started to leave the home again, fucking terrified but got back to my old gym and even found a local pub (Diet Coke.) I needed to do something, and I ended up paying for skin on my stomach and upper arms to be removed. Recovery was tough living with a mentalist; I couldn’t straighten up for 4 weeks so when I hobbled anywhere my sister used to try and scare me by charging at me. If I did jump up, I would have literally ripped my stomach back open. Anyway, I still wasn’t happy and my father agreed to help me (as I worked for him doing odd jobs) to pay for the 6 hour long op, where I was awake while Dr Fucktard rammed rods inside me and burnt my skin from the inside in an attempt to tighten it. What made it worse was I had no body fat left, which made it harder for him to ram his bloody rods through me. Longest op he ever performed, that. He got concerned saying he should stop but I looked him cold in the eye and told him I don’t give a fuck about the pain (believe me, it was torture) get on with it. Worst of all, during the op was his assistant, a pretty little blonde girl pinning me down while I was wearing nothing but see-through paper fucking pants. What had an effect on me though was this was the first girl to see me naked in 10 years, and I overheard her say to the receptionist after the operation “He’s real hot.” Me??? ME???????? Maybe I’m not that disgusting after all then.

Eight weeks later, the operation had been a fail, did naff all and coward here wanted the easy way out again, and did the same thing again only this time I woke up in hospital. Without speaking to anyone I grabbed my jacket and headed to my local (I had a crush on the barmaid) I sat in there and realised I couldn’t keep giving up, I’m stronger than this, so I went home I started researching how to train properly. I hit the gym hard! In fact I crawled out of that place and if I didn’t then I needed to train harder. My diet was terrible, still clean and nothing unhealthy just consuming 450grams of protein a day which I suppose is why I put the muscle on as I now know half of that protein was used as fuel (I don’t recommend this) as well as repairing my muscle as I didn’t eat carbs.
So, I’m a guy with a shitty job, obsessed with training and scared to take his top off. Not that appealing to women but my god I wanted one, 10 years alone took its toll! People would tell me oh, I bet you wanna go out and shag a load of birds eh?

In fact they couldn’t have been more wrong. I spent 10 years alone; I wasn’t after a shag, I was after a friend, someone to share good times with, and someone that would love me for me. I had hot girls paying attention but it just didn’t turn me on, I needed to know them, connect, and feel something and most of all trust them….certainly not these girls. Yeah I put pics on facebook posing but I was covering up all my bad bits, I needed to know if that girl would either think “That’s nowt, no one’s perfect” or “Ewww that’s disgusting.” If it was ewww then I would be back to square one again. So seeing as I had no confidence and I’d lost most of my friends, I didn’t go out round town, I thought why not try a dating site. GOT A DATE!!! She was a very attractive, tattooed girl with same taste in music as me. Told her all about me, she didn’t seem to care and was eager to meet. So off I went to meet her in Dram shop. I was actually shitting myself, I was sweating like a pig but she saw me and she liked it, in fact she was a bit full-on! I didn’t know how to respond. Anyways, we went on a few more dates, ended up at hers to sleep over. Yes I kept my boxers on and my t-shirt!! Ha ha, no hanky-panky but when I woke she had a feel! You just know! So, next night she actually begged me for sex, now remember this is the guy who got told to go home because I was so fat and ugly….. now being begged for sex…… awesome!!! I turned her down, didn’t feel right. Pissed her off, dumped me the next day!

I had a couple more dates, really nice girls but didn’t lead to anything then this one came along, arranged our first date at her home, no makeup and in her PJ’s (fanks for making the effort) but as I got to know her better this was just her attitude, take me as I am or fuck off. Fair enough! Morgan, her name was (now my girlfriend of 15 months.) She nicknamed me to her friends as Mr Muscles, which I liked but thought dude, you haven’t seen my loose skin. One evening she mentioned she wasn’t keen on hard muscular blokes…….honey, you’re touching the wrong places!! Anyway, six weeks in and a horse she was riding slipped with her on it and it smashed her ankle to pieces. I practically moved in to look after her. This was a massive sudden jump for me but you know what, to this day she does not even notice my loose skin and tells me my body is perfect as it is. This means more than anything to me, which is why I put up with the bossy cow (haha only playing.) We have our ups and downs but who doesn’t?

Right, I have a woman in my life, next step a proper career. Seeing as I’m gym-mad and had lost 18 stone it made sense to become a personal trainer. So that’s what I did. It’s more than that though, I want to help people with the mental and emotional sides of losing weight, I have the experience why not use it to help others instead of them having gastric bands? (Don’t even get me started on that.)

Mr Muscles... hiding the worst bits.

Mr Muscles… hiding the worst bits.

I’m still body conscious, I’m 6’1 232 pounds and around 15% bodyfat….I should look like a front cover model of men’s fitness magazine but I don’t due to my skin. Yeah, It really pisses me off because I train my ass off for it but then I remember there’s more to life! But one thing I will never stop doing: trying to correct what I put wrong. Yeah I was weak and did cowardly things but now I’m strong, seriously strong and nothing can stop me. I will fight for what I want to achieve in life till the end. And my confidence has increased too, I can walk into any rough pub and say that better be diet coke you put in that drink despite yobbish looking chavs looking at me like I’m some wuss. In fact one guy once said “You puff, can’t you drink?” Actually yes, I still enjoy a drink and I can still seriously drink, a lot more than you, you Jeremy Kyle watching….. I won’t mention what else I said but I am now barred from that pub.

Reality is, I do have to watch what I eat/drink but I don’t mind, I have awesome people around me, the guys at workout gym have supported me throughout; my girlfriend; I get loads of support and advice at Beverly Leisure Centre where Morgan had her physio. I have a lot to learn in life still, also in my job. But one thing I do have that other PT’s don’t, and that’s experience in weight loss, something you can’t learn out of a text book!

Sorry I haven’t been as witty and funny as the others that post on here (I do enjoy reading them) but this has been more of a mini life story about something pretty shit. I would like to finish by saying, try not to judge every overweight person as someone who is just weak and greedy. Yeah, you see a couple of big chavvy women gobbing it loudly, they clearly don’t have confidence issues and probably are just plain greedy and lazy but there are those who are shy, nervous and you probably have no idea how scared and uncomfortable they are with their appearance but there is something making them do what they do, and if that something went away, they probably wouldn’t look like that. That’s where I would like to think I can come in and make a change using my own experience. Getting a diet and simple training plan is straightforward, having someone to guide you through the emotional stress and to genuinely feel your struggle, that’s where I can hold their hand through the worst and eventually, kick some fucking arse in the gym!

mike profileMike Waudby is 31 years old and lives in Hull. He is a huge rock fan and his favourite band are Guns N Roses. When he was a wee whipper-snapper he had a Vauxhall Nova with a number plate that ended CNT. His pet hatred is people who don’t put the weights away at the gym and he’s one of the nicest guys you could ever meet. You can find him on facebook here.