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‘If this is hell, it looks a lot like Margate’

I wrote this before I gave up the booze but I still like it.

Every hardened drinker has had that morning when they’re lying in bed waiting for the call. Deep down you know that you’ve fucked up, but the details elude you. There are fragments of regret that kind of make sense, but the phone call will always bring greater clarity and that paralyzing regret. You don’t really want that clarity but there’s not a lot you can do about it. So, you lie there in your bed working out what you’ll do when you get out of prison.

I’ve often thought that life doesn’t have to be this way. But it is. And although I’ve tried to be a better person, I don’t like the hours. Trying to be a good and moral person looks exhausting. I’ve got this mate who’s following the moral path and he looks fucked; puffy around the eyes, sexless, skint, and eating a kilo of chocolate a day just to avoid being sectioned.

There’s this other mate of mine, who’s just had a kid and he looks all doughy-eyed with family love. Tired, yet gloriously happy with his lot. I give him five years and he’ll be smashing down the front door of a brothel with a cock that resembles a forearm that’s been seared on each side of a griddle.

So, what do you do? Take the bacchanalian path to incarceration and an early death, or the righteous path to a four-bedroom maisonette and dribbling, incoherent Christmas dinners with the in-laws? Fuck, I haven’t got a clue. Nobody does. Devout people claim they have all the answers but taking a vow of silence and living in a cave sounds boring as fuck. That can’t signify the meaning of life.

I remember the first time I had sex on a pill, I proclaimed that that was the meaning of life. Especially when we had a huge bifta in the middle of it all and I came so hard that a vein in my neck twisted around on itself and I thought I was having a stroke, while shitting myself at the same time. Shitting and cumming at the same time is magnificent but the clean-up is embarrassing and inconvenient. Cue Atmosphere, by Joy Division.

But I’m descending into scatology and that’s so unfashionable these days. In this age of moral enlightenment, being a prick is a right prick of a job. If the Marquis de Sade were publishing his books today, he’d have legions of arty left wing types demanding that his books be burned and that his very soul be cancelled by the editor in chief of The Guardian (the keeper of cancelled souls). These are the same people who read de Sade’s books today and think they’re cutting edge because they’re old and ahead of their time, plus de Sade’s French, so he can be excused. The modern alternative is 50 Shades of Gray. Very different to The 120 Days of Sodom, which I’m sure Johnny Depp aspires to but doesn’t quite have the internal fortitude to navigate, post defamation proceedings.

Anyway, these are my Notes from Underground (yes, I know it’s a book by Dostoevsky) and I’m going to stop ranting now and tell you how I got here and why I’m destined to rot in hell.

To be continued …

(The title of this piece is a quote taken from Peaky Blinders, spoken by Alfie Solomons)

Boga: the art of violent Yoga

There’s a scene from Parks and Recreation, where Ron Swanson is camping and says this: “Fishing relaxes me, it’s like yoga, except I still get to kill something”. He makes a good point. That’s why I spend around 20 minutes every morning doing an exercise technique I call Boga. It’s basically Yoga for bogans (Aussie rednecks), hence Boga. I call it Boga because it involves violent films, instant coffee, and a singlet (not shown in photo below).

Now, I’m about to tell you how you can invite Boga into your life and bathe in its enriching tranquillity.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to gritty transcendence.

Step 1: Select a violent film.

Step 2: Put three heaped teaspoons of instant coffee in a mug, add boiling water, a splash of milk and drink.

Step 3: Sit crossed legged on the floor and picture somebody you dislike, and think about how you plan to remove them from your life.

Step 4: Rise up and press play on the movie.

Step 5: Tell yourself that you’re fucking invincible, and nobody can fuck with you on this side or the other.

Step 6: Begin stretching. These can be any stretches you like doing but just make sure you stretch your whole body. After six minutes stop.

Step 7: Assume the push up position, drop down halfway and hold for one minute. Rise and repeat five times.

Step 8: Plank for one minute on your front and one minute in a reverse plank/cowboy.

Step 9: Get up, shake yourself down and do three minutes of shadow boxing.

Step 10: Next, it’s 40 chin ups (you’ll need a self-standing chin up station, which you can purchase for around $200 online).

Step 11: Walk into your bathroom, look at yourself in a mirror, summon the spirit of Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver and talk to the person you dislike. Tell them everything. Really go to fucken town on them.

Step 12: Return to your place of exercise and do a three minute stretching warm down.

Step 13: Turn off the violent film, sit at the kitchen table, wearing a singlet and think deeply about your life, while you enjoy another instant coffee. For those of you who are not a recovering alcoholic, a splash of whisky in your coffee never goes astray.

Even if you just do a Boga Sesh four times a week, you’ll notice a difference in your self-esteem and performance at work. All the poison in your soul will soon seep out of your life and you’ll finally rid yourself of all the toxic wankers you’ve let invade and tarnish your life for years.

In this new world we all occupy now, it’s time to evolve.

Welcome to Boga Nation …

Dealing with annoying co-workers Vic Mackey style

There’s a scene in The Shield where Vic Mackey, played by Michael Chiklis, is chasing down a gang member, who’s quicker and more agile than the stocky Vic. The gang member jumps a wooden fence and thinks he’s home free, however, Vic just runs through the fence and apprehends his man.

“Good cop and bad cop have left for the day. I’m a different kind of cop.” Vic Mackey – The Shield

For those of you who haven’t seen The Shield, Vic Mackey is a ruthless cop who will do anything to get the job done, no matter how many rules or fences he has to break. He’s only happy when his opponent has been taken out for good and he can get on with his corrupt approach to law enforcement and upsetting his superiors.

Now, this got me thinking about how I could apply a Vic Mackey problem solving matrix to an office environment, without using his usual tactics of shooting people in the face and planting massive quantities of smack on them.

Here are my thoughts on six office problems that could be solved by asking yourself this one simple question: What would Vic Mackey do?

  1. A co-worker sighs a lot when their having a bad day. People have asked them to stop because it’s distracting. But they’ve ignored their colleagues polite requests. Vic decides it’s got to stop immediately, so he plants a copy of Mien Kampf in the co-worker’s bag and calls HR.
  2. A co-worker spends too much time discussing their personal problems with their colleagues. Vic’s had enough, so he takes the co-worker aside and tells them that people think they’re a bit creepy and feel uncomfortable around them.
  3. A co-worker interrupts people during meetings when they’re making a point. Vic doesn’t like being shut down, so the next time the co-worker interrupts him, he spreads a rumour about them being the subject of a sensitive HR investigation.
  4. A co-worker has obnoxious email habits, like marking every email as urgent and sending everyone ‘Friday Funnies.’ Vic finds nothing funny, so he sends everyone a photoshopped image of the co-worker strangling a kitten from an anonymous email account, with the caption ‘Konichiwa bitches’.
  5. A co-worker plays music so loud through their headphones that you can clearly hear what they’re listening to. Vic only listens to The Eagles. So, when the co-worker’s out for lunch, Vic smears fresh chili into their headphones and mouse.
  6. A co-worker spends too much time on social media communicating with friends during work hours, especially when deadlines are looming. Vic employs somebody to hack into the co-worker’s Facebook account, steal their identity and uses it to post QAnon conspiracy theories to all their family and friends.

Now, I would never subscribe to the actions of Vic because I stopped drinking and taking drugs a while back, but he always gets the job done, no matter what it takes. There are many things wrong with the man, but Vic does demonstrate an unerring dedication to eliminating the people who get in his way. And let’s face it, that’s a rare characteristic these days.

So, the next time a co-worker is breaking the rules, ask yourself, “What would Vic Mackey do?” and try not to act upon it.

The Walking Unvaxxed

They walk among us. Not shuffling or rotting or moaning in a woeful pitch but just walking among us, with bags and stuff. The usual shit we all carry. However, these walkers are the unvaxxed and one of them could be sitting next to you right now, on a bus.

When Rick Grimes woke up from a coma in episode one of The Walking Dead, the damage had already been done. The world had already descended into chaos. This kind of happened to me at the beginning of the pandemic but it was the result of a serious bender with Jason the Manc and Greek Steve. Anyway, unlike Grimes, we’ve been eased into this new world, like an unhealthy stool wavering above the meniscus of life before it lands with a plop and a whimper into the mouth of a sadomasochist.

We’ve been living in this new world for over 18 months now, and it’s revealed some shitty things about who we are. In particular, the division between the haves and the have nots, which were always there but are now abundantly clear, even in so-called wealthy nations with egalitarian beliefs built on glass foundations.

But now the dust is beginning to settle a wee bit, we’re faced with a new social group set to be segregated by vaccine passports. They are The Walking Unvaxxed, potentially infected, but definitely armed, and dangerous. A minority created by a virus and proudly sponsored by a far right group near you! Or so I’m told. The jury’s still out on that one.

By all accounts, The Walking Unvaxxed are a noisy bunch, moving in herds across the Covid wasteland, looking to feed on the disciples of Pfizer, as they ward off these flesh eating corpses with screenshots of the Guardian and common sense. But what will this vaxxed majority say when they’re out on the town and see the unvaxxed being denied entry to a venue based on a choice they made not to roll up their sleeve and take one for the team?

Will the unvaxxed counter this snub by opening up old school speak easy’s, with secret locations protected by an arcane code? Venues you can only frequent if you’re in the know? What you might call cool places that hipsters championed all those years ago; the same anti-establishment people who are now happy to tow the party line. Fuck, they even had these secret spaces in the bowels of the Titanic, and everyone was having a lot more fun than the posh people – the establishment.

Over the coming years, we’re in for a rough ride when it comes to The Walking Unvaxxed. What the fuck do you do with them? Nobody will want to employ them, their friends and family might abandon them, and they’ll be banned from the majority of public spaces. They might not be allowed to leave the country.

So, I’m really interested to see how the authorities will deal with the Unvaxxed, without using the ‘S’ word that has been used to oppress many minority groups in the past. And ask yourself this question: Will you let your kids play with the great unvaxxed or will you baton down the hatches and say: “We don’t want your kind round here”?

Fun times ahead …

A lockdown fairy tale

It’s been a long time since I’ve written about Melbourne bogans and I’ve been extremely interested in how my bogan mates from the old days spent lockdown. There are numerous assumptions I could make involving bongs, smoking inside, Studio 10, KFC, and four-litre casks of wine from the local BWS but that’s all hearsay and outdated stereotyping. So, what I did was contact a friend of mine who is a self-professed, card-carrying bogan from way back. Let’s call him Ed.

Ed owns a Jim’s Mowing franchise because he likes being on the road and working for himself. He has an offsider called Spoons, who’s his mate’s eldest son. Come lockdown and the end of all non-essential services, Ed and Spoons were temporarily out of a job. And so, began Ed’s long, dark descent into Netflix and kidney failure.   

Ed lives alone. He’s divorced and sees the kids every second weekend. He and his ex are on good terms but not mates. She moved on, while Ed stood still in his one bedroom flat in Melbourne’s outer north and smoked a dart while looking out of the window at a dog sniffing around a dead bird on the pavement.  

On the first day of lockdown, Ed got up, showered, brushed his teeth, got dressed and grabbed the keys for his ute, only to remember that he was in lockdown and had no lawns to mow. So, he sat down on the couch, flicked the cap off a stubbie, and turned on the telly. He’d never watched free to air morning TV before and promptly signed up for Netflix.

Within a week, the world of Netflix became Ed’s entire world. When mates called him, he talked about stuff he’d watched on Netflix, when he talked to the kids he talked about Netflix and when his mum called him to tell him her sister died, he talked to her about Dead to me on Netflix. Ed was transfixed by the haze of the Big Red N and he spent his days and nights bathing in its warm glow.

After a week, Ed stopped going to his local supermarket and started getting his supplies delivered via the endless array of online delivery services. At first, it was groceries from Safeway and alcohol from Jimmy Brings. And then one day he gave up on cooking altogether and started to rely on Netflix’s partner in crime, Uber Eats.

Ed’s flat had become a one-stop delivery destination and the thought of going outside didn’t even cross his mind. At this stage, the phone stopped ringing and Ed’s home looked and smelled like a compost heap but at least he was up-to-date with Vikings and Peaky Blinders, and he’d been smart enough to panic buy toilet paper at the beginning of the pandemic.

What Ed didn’t realise, was that for everyone else, life was slowly getting back to normal. With Netflix and Uber Eats in his life he didn’t need things like outdoor activities, a job, or the news. He had new friends in his life because Netflix had every episode of Friends available to watch whenever he felt like watching his new friends having madcap adventures in Manhattan’s West Village.

And it was during an episode of Friends that Ed first noted a dull ache in his lower back that he attributed to hours of sitting on the couch.  

The ache got worse and worse and one morning he looked at himself in the mirror and his eyes were bloodshot and his skin looked mottled and his lower back now felt like somebody had battered him with a sledgehammer.

When Ed woke up in hospital, he had no idea how he’d gotten there. Apparently, Spoons had come round, knocked on the door got no reply, so had a look through the kitchen window and saw Ed in a heap on the lounge floor next to a pile of Uber Eats bags and a bottle of Penfolds Port. He called an ambulance and the rest is history.

Ed tells me he’s getting better but has lost a lot of his kidney function and has type 2 diabetes, so Spoons and his mate are running the business until Ed gets back on his feet. Since his hospitalisation, he’s canceled his Netflix account and deleted the Uber Eats app from his phone, and now gets all his food delivered by Light n’ Easy every Monday morning. He’s completely given up on TV and now listens to a lot of true crime podcasts and sometimes Russell Brand.

I talked to Ed on the phone yesterday and I asked him if he had any regrets about how he spent lockdown and if he had his time back would he do things differently. He paused for a moment, drinking in the question, and then said: “Well, obviously there are the health concerns and all that but I did get to watch some awesome stuff on TV and Spoons has said that he’ll give me one of his kidneys if I get desperate. So, things could be a lot worse. At least I’m not starving to death.”

And that’s Ed’s lockdown story. I was looking for a funny bogan story but instead, I found a story about a man who fell foul of laziness and all the online products and services we have that prop this pandemic of laziness up.

So, the next time you find yourself in a pandemic/lockdown situation, think about Ed before you get comfy, switch on Netflix, and brush your index finger over the Uber Eats app. Kidney failure is only a 30-minute wait away, and you can track its progress on your phone, while you watch Friends!

Searching for joy in the pandemic

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The supermarket is now a dangerous place to be. People who might be sick move up and down the aisles searching for hand sanitizer, pasta and a way to wipe their arse. It’s a depressing sight, watching people navigate their way through a human obstacle course. However, today I’m not going to dwell on the doom and gloom of a pandemic, instead, I’m going to write about something that brings me joy.

There’s a coffee shop, well a window, down the road from me that sells coffee, cakes, and muffins. And yes, it’s an open window right on the pavement that’s part of a residential property. Apparently, it used to be a DVD nook at the east end of their lounge that’s been converted into a takeaway coffee shop. You’d never know. It’s now called Capulus and Co.

It’s run by a family who make the best coffee I’ve ever had (I write this with conviction). They’ve secured the beans, the good stuff, the primo brown gold, and I’m one of their caffeine disciples. Most mornings, I walk 100 metres to pray at the altar of their divine brew. I order a regular latte, and after a wee chat with the barista, I respectfully maintain my distance from the other disciples on the pavement and attend to my emails.

After a couple of minutes, the barista gives me one of the highlights of my day, a regular latte in a brown and tan cup. Then I walk home slowly enjoying each sip until I reach the stairs that lead me to my place of isolation, where The King of Queens seems to be playing on repeat.

But those 100 metres to the window and back keep me sane and I’ll always remember that walk and the life-affirming coffee, as something that got me through this thing.

We all need something like that walk in the morning because it’s those slivers of joy that give us something to look forward to. And when this is over, I’m going to give the barista a big hug, hail a taxi, and get the fuck out of dodge.

Capulus and Co can be found at 9 Sydney Rd, Brunswick, Victoria and is open from 7am – 2pm, Monday to Friday, and 8am – 2pm on Saturday and Sunday.  

Do you have a coronavirus story you’d like to share?

I’ve changed the name of my blog to The coronavirus diaries until this thing blows over. So, if anyone wants to send me a story they have to tell about self-isolation, coping with self-isolation and basically, anything to do with their experience of this time in our lives, send it through and I’ll post it for you.

A few top tips for writing a blog:

  • Keep it short, no more than 800 words (less is more when writing a blog, many of the greatest blogs I’ve read are only 500 words long, or shorter)
  • Use simple language
  • Try to work out what the intention of the story is
  • Give it an edit once it’s done for spelling and grammar etc, and
  • And remember that everyone’s story is an important part of this historical event

If you do send me your story, please include a very short bio of 50 words and a photo of some description to: callumscot@gmail.com

During times like these, it’s important that we document and share our stories, especially if you’re in isolation and feel like you need your voice to be heard.

Happy writing.

Cheers

Callum Scott

Love in a time of coronavirus

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And just as the zombie apocalypse kicked in, I quit my job. I’ll tell you why later in the piece. So, now I find myself unemployed at 50, in the middle of a pandemic. This is a concept that should scare the shit out of me but I’m strangely calm about my state of affairs because hysteria only leads to anxiety and anxiety ends up leading to expensive counseling sessions, with somebody who speaks softly and does a lot of nodding.

For the first four weeks of unemployment, I was holed up in my flat because I went over on my right foot and stretched a few ligaments, meaning I spent a lot of time sitting in my IKEA chair with my foot up on the coffee table, watching depressing stuff on the telly. Just what you need when you’re unemployed and injured. I also drank a lot of wine even though I have the word ‘Sober’ tattooed on my right wrist. Meanwhile, the coronavirus was seeping into our collective unconscious around the world, and I was already self-isolating.

Self-isolating, when you’re not sick, is fucking awesome. You don’t have to deal with the ocean of idiots who exist beyond the front door, endlessly bumping into each other while they stare at their phones like cretins caught in the headlights. Why the fuck should I be responsible for their spatial relations? Every day I suppress the urge to knock their phones out of their hands and explain the laws of physics to them. The other upside of self-isolation is that you have time to reflect upon your life.

However, in the wrong hands, self-reflection can be a dangerous venture. It can lead to suicide, a mental breakdown, and the agonising realisation that life is meaningless. Not so for me. I had a great time picking through my ‘reason to be’. It was an existential holiday in my wee flat. I worked out that my life was meaningless because I’d made it that way. In short, I’d spent the last two years hating my job, which was akin to having somebody take to your soul with a potato peeler. Hence, the decision to quit.

I live in a state of chaos and my workplace could no longer accommodate this. A sense of order had been installed by top brass – project management software called Slack, the worst kind of corporate mind control. There was even a stream called #wheremyhomiesat, where you had to let ‘the team’ know where you are at all times; cue Orwell and that cage with the rat in it. So, in short, dishes were done. Plus, I have recently diagnosed PTSD (PCL-5 – 63), so something like #wheremyhomiesat is about as helpful as dropping me in a K-hole and telling me the paranoid hallucinations are all part of my new reality.

But let’s get back to being unemployed at 50, amidst the zombie apocalypse AKA the Coronavirus AKA Covid 19. What’s next? Will our hero ever ride again? Every once in a while you have to make a stand in this life and tell the people who don’t add value to get fucked. That’s what I did. I quit my job in the middle of a pandemic and strode, sorry limped, into the unknown. Now, I’m going to concentrate on the things that matter to me, the things that don’t make me feel like I’m an injured hamster on a wheel, spinning recklessly into a void of chocolate-coated diarrhea. In essence,

To love oneself is to truly understand the secrets of the soul.

#wheremyhomiesnot