Things That Surprised Me


14 Tuesday 14th May 2013

English folk music
If you’d told me when I was 19 and only listened to Hatebreed and Necro all day long that I was going to spend most of my late 20s trawling blogs for 70s English folk music I would have been pretty bummed. The whole vibe of it either Nick Griffin or Midlands Geography master, neither of which are a good look or likely to get you laid (although that doesn’t often happen with Hatebreed and Necro either, I’ll tell you that for free). Although I got over dumb hardcore and death rap a few years ago (not really, I listen to Gravediggaz every day), I was still not sure anything involving a lute or songs about ale belonged in my record collection until I heard this Richard and Linda Thompson album completely by accident at my friend’s house. Now I jam this stuff all the time.

The deal with English folk is there’s no vagueness - everything’s a story or a description of a character, no ooh’s and ahhs for no reason, just straight up information about what the fair maiden did to get murdered. Also, the music is pretty great, and all the finger picking is mad. I’m trying to throw you a cultural bone here, give it a go.

Not taking drugs
I was so sure that life without drink and drugs would be like eating chips without ketchup or going to the cinema without popcorn - not actually wrong or uncomfortable but incomplete for anyone with any joie de vivre and humour. I think the best way to describe how I felt about drugs was as a sort of condiment for consciousness (that’s the kind of turn of phrase I was satisfied with putting my name to when I was doing drugs).

Without powders and potions to keep things interesting, I just thought life would be one vast expanse of grey interspersed with visits to the toilet, but it turns out it’s pretty ok and now I can do things that real people do like turn up for work on time, be nice to my family, not lose my keys every four hours and not feel sick every morning. I heartily recommend a month off just to see if you like it, I thought I was only going to take a three month break to clear my head and it’s been nearly two years.

Metallica’s 2003 comeback
Do you remember all the arguments back in 2003 when St Anger came out? People were so angry that they’d dared to make another record. Like most folks, I thought it was going to be fucking shit. They had the guy from the shit Suicidal Tendencies funk albums on bass all of a sudden, he had pigtails and it looked like they were going to sound like Audioslave. I’m old enough to remember ‘Load’ and ‘Reload’ coming out and I knew they were capable of being shit, so I was understandably worried that they’d further sully their good name by dropping ‘Upload’ or something. But instead they had that amazing single with the lo-fi drums in San Quentin! I reckon that’s in my top 5 favourite videos ever.

I loved how it sounded like a demo, it was raw and exciting, nothing like Audioslave or all that other gross fat guy rock that older rock musicians end up making after they haven't made a relevant record for ten years. The record after that was great too, and I’m glad they got the old logo back, now the tour t-shirts aren’t going to be gross.

The Sherlock Holmes movies
I had a good time watching both of these, even though I was ready and primed for a shitty evening. All the stars were aligned for it to be a pile of crap: the fake cockney who married the worst woman on the planet and helped her steal children was directing, Jude Law was in it (he’s a fucking creep) and Robert Downey Jr was doing an English accent. I pretty much thought they were going to be Too Fast Too Furious films set in the 1900s, or the British Wild Wild West, but you know what? It they weren't. They're a blast, do them both in one sitting, you won't regret it, they're fun without being too dumb. The best bit about it is that they’re doing loads of them and I’m going to get into it like people got into The Lord Of The Rings or Harry Potter: I’ll be a superfan asking creepy questions at comic conventions and I won't care. If they re-release the Conan Doyle books with Downey Jr’s face on the cover I’m going to buy them all.

Riding a bike around town
How annoying does riding a bike look like it’s going to be? You have to use your body’s energy to get you around instead of having a nice relaxing sit on the nice relaxing bus or riding with other go-getting young execs on the tube, which sounds horrible. AND surely doing all that exercise before work is going to make you sweaty? Besides, exercise is the lamest thing ever and for squares with sensible trainers that they tie up really tight. AND have you seen all those white bikes on the side of the road!? That’s where people have died after coming off them and getting smooshed by buses. For me, the odds were always really stacked against me getting a bike, OR SO I THOUGHT.

My housemate’s girlfriend gave me her old three speed last year and I tried it out, and you know what? It made me feel amazing! The exercise woke me up and gave me energy in the morning, I slept better, weaving between cars made me feel like a kid again, the endorphins made me happier, I stopped having to ever look at the Evening Standard, I started to not wheeze when I went up two flights of stairs and I started getting muscles in my legs like an actual person. It was the best - get a bike.




A finger up the butt during sex
Ok, I am one hundred percent sure that if I tried it I would love it. Everyone I ever met who tried it loves it, apparently it feels like a whole new kind of orgasm and makes everything way more intense. Loads of perfectly masculine, straight males I know swear by a swift digit to the butt at the moment of (or leading up to the moment of) climax, and don’t bat an eyelid (although I bet they at least blinked the first time it went in there. But I will never know this dirty pleasure as I have no butt KIDDING I mean I am too insecure about my masculinity to let any girl do that to me.

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