Friday, 31 August 2012

Manchester Blog Meet

Pic Courtesy iamelliotsmith, Flickr

I’ve learned 25 letters of the alphabet,” admits Alistair Quinn from Edwards Hoyle Solicitors in Cheshire. “I don’t know Y.”

I meet him for the first time at Manchester Blog Meet in Common Bar in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, over the road from the Manchester Digital Laboratory. It’s Tues 28th August and I’m stood in a suit and Hawaiian shirt after having a “Tropical Tuesday” in work. I’m slowly getting steaming on Bullet bourbon whilst The Doors’ Light My Fire pumps out of the speakers, which are hidden amongst the pop culture paraphernalia including giant monochrome photographs of John Candy, Patrick Swayze and Steve Irwin. It isn’t clear if the chalk drawing of the lion is referencing thisweek’s alleged sightings of a big cat in Essex.

The Blog Meet attracts a crowd of the city’s bloggers, including:

Sarah Clare Conlon from Words and Fixtures covering literature events in the city. She also ghost blogs on numerous other sites. So if you want someone to help create content on your blog… WHO YA GONNA CALL?!

Pete, whose site Having a Party Without Me is a handy guide to Manchester’s gig scene, complete with interesting little doodles.

Fat Roland, who runs two blogs: Fat Roland on Electronica covers the world of Electronica music, and has been covering the niche since 2004; Italic Eyeball is an experimental fiction site which he set up much more recently.

Hayley Flynn, whose blog Skyliner, analysing city architecture, won at the Manchester Blog Awards last year. The site was also featured in The Guardian newspaper.

Matt, who blogs at The Fiction Stroker reviewing books, comics, TV, radio and live events.

Curator of the Manchizzle and Blog Meet organiser Kate Feld welcomes us all and, reminding us that the Blog North Awards, formerly the Manchester Blog Awards, are now open for nomination. The site will be taking suggestions until the 7th of September, so if you can think of any blogs you’d like to nominate…


Check out the awards on Twitter and Facebook.

The Blog North Awards is now in association with Open Stories, “a Manchester-based arts organisation that develops digital literature and writing projects.” 

The Blog Meet is sponsored by the very trendy Revolve Boutique Manchester, ran by Sophia. Sophia ran a Clitheroe art gallery until running into financial problems. Taking a detour, she set up an online dress agency for women who don’t have time for Ebay. For a small fee, she will buy and sell clothes for you (provided you’re a woman, presumably), providing a photoshoot of the clothes and attractive Revolve packaging for the merchandise.

Thanks for the bar tab, Sophia!

Sunday, 26 August 2012

2249

Mineral haulage
an empty, cold, dark journey
Neptune beckoning

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Busted


A few months ago I pulled a girl in Rififi nightclub in Stalybridge. She was substantially older than me. For that reason, I think, she wouldn’t give me her number and nothing happened. After that, my mate Sal gave me the nickname “Tomb Raider”.

Moving on.

A couple of my friends, Bini and Hema, present a radio show called The Asian Invasion, over on IdealClubWorldRadio. I’ve been tuning in for a few months to listen to quality house music and funny banter. The station has a chat room so that listeners can join the conversation with the presenters and other listeners. I joined the chat room under the name TombRaider, thinking that Sal would tune in at the same time as me and bust me within minutes. Sal works all kinds of shifts, though, so she couldn’t tune in at that time of Bini's show.

And so began a two-month guessing game for the presenters, where they named about 20 people (most of whom I had actually met).

Eventually, they asked me for a clue. I should have kept this as a game of 20 questions, answering yes / no to each one. But when they asked me for a clue, I thought of something that would be of no help to them at all.

I once made Jenna Jameson LOL over Twitter”, I wrote.

Who’s Jenna Jameson?” The presenters replied.

Phew, I thought. Off the hook. It didn’t occur to me, though, that other people in the chat room would bust me out.

Porn star”, some random guy interjected.

The reply came within 2 seconds. “Tuckey!”

What the fuck? I thought. Why is my name synonymous with the adult entertainment industry?!

But then I thought, hmm, take a look through my top hit blog posts. And my shaky-at-best reputation with women. There’s probably a connection there.

So. I’m still going to tune into the show, although possibly under a more recognisable pseudonym. “Tuck McNuck”, perhaps. The banter has been hilarious, but once I was stripped of my anonymity (by banging on about things I really shouldn’t around women) I felt like I’d lost an identity of sorts. It was fun while it lasted!

But seriously, the show is still fun to listen to. There’s a preconceived image about the House music scene that it’s full of sombre, pretentious people who take their musical passions too seriously- tune into The Asian Invasion and see how Hema and Bini are blowing that dated ideology out of the water. It’s chilled out, interesting, has great music and is generally hilarious. And of course, I’ll be in the chatroom. Wednesday nights from 9pm. Get on it.

Friday, 24 August 2012

2248

He hasn't been told
of his past in south Hong Kong,
assembly-line birth

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Ten Years, Ten Predictions. 2


Pic courtesy Si1very, Flickr
 
For the first Ten Years, Ten Predictions post, see here.

So. Given the above predictions, what ELSE can I say I knew was going to happen?

1) CCTV will have more varied use

The UK is currently the most spied-upon country in the world, with more cameras per person than any other country in the world. This is supposed to be for our own safety, but I expect another use will emerge soon: vanity.

Video footage of ourselves is information: information about us. Where we were, what we were wearing and what we were doing is recorded all of the time. The Data Protection Act states that “individuals, who the data relates to, have various rights to receive on request details of the processing relating to themselves.” 

So, if we are caught on CCTV (and facial recognition technology is in use, which it will be soon) we will have a right to search for ourselves on this public footage. We’ll then be able to upload scenes of ourselves onto Facebook and show all our friends that cartwheel we did outside the bar at 2am.

2) I.T. will continue to alter the opportunities for employment

Most offices are adapting to changing technology. Employees, in at least one office I know, will record dictations and send the MP3 file via email to admin to be typed up. The next development will be the computer transferring the sound to text as the dictation is made. The administrator then will only need to check the grammar and formatting of the article, thus reducing the reliance upon admin teams.

3) Public transport will use satellite navigation.

You’re stood at a bus stop in the middle of nowhere. How long will you wait before giving up? No need to guess in the future. And no need for printed timetables either. Each bus stop will have a satellite transmitter/receiver, as will each bus. The LCD display will tell you exactly how far away your next bus is and how long you’ll be waiting. As most light rail systems like Docklands in London and Manchester’s Metrolink already use this, we can expect buses to implement this in the next 12 months.

4) Working from home will be more structured

This more relaxed method of working is currently rife with distractions- no working atmosphere, the kitchen stocked with nibbles, no presence of authority stopping you from slacking off and cruising Facebook endlessly. The British office-worker’s home will be split into two sections, with a study for work separate to the rest of the house. This study’s access is controlled not by the homeowner (or renter, as will be more likely) but by the employer. More people will be encouraged to take this option to ease traffic congestion and reduce emissions.

This will, of course, affect people’s behaviour. The social aspect of working with others will be under fire as their contact with others is reduced.

5) Libyan women will gain more rights

Currently Libya has the lowest divorce rate in the world, with 0.24 divorces per 1000 marriages.  Now that Gadaffi is dead, along with his regime, democracy is gradually being implemented throughout the country. As women’s rights steadily thrive, over time we will see the country’s divorce rate rise.

6) Dating will require spontaneity

Time is already a precious commodity. People have commitments- people work, people raise kids on their own, and people have aging family members to look after. If you meet someone and you like them, you can’t be playing for the long game. You might not see them again for weeks. Sex will happen faster, and it will mean less. As our lives will be busier, most of us will either act immediately or be using calendars on our phones during conversations to arrange dates weeks in advance.

7) Advertising space will be available everywhere

Every public wall, footpaths, floors- even holograms projected in the sky will offer a place for businesses to promote themselves. This will seem radical for a few weeks, but the novelty will wear of quickly and the public will continue to ignore the majority of advertising.

8) PSE- Personal and social education in the UK will be emphasised

This subject will be developed into a solid qualification to match the GCSE subjects, complete with coursework and exams. As it stands, the subject has developed marginally since I studied it in 1998. 

Nothing could be more important than the health and safety of the next generation, and education needs to reflect this. This subject will include boxing training. A sport with its roots in the UK, it is an activity that is perfect for fitness and fat-burning- factors that will be more increasingly more necessary as the obesity rates in the UK's children spiral further out of control.

9) We will be able to watch any film, any time.

When I was a teen, we had a dodgy little “Take One” video shop for renting movies. It’s closed down now, partly because DVDs are so cheap to buy. Another factor forcing rental shops to close nationwide: an online business called Netflix now provides films online for a small rental fee. Just watch what you want, when you want, as much as you want with no late fees. Having talked to a few people who use it, it seems apparent that Netflicks’ range isn’t spectacular. Surely if the business is ran online, in this digital age, every film ever made should be available. Ideally, you search for a film title, it’s there. Search for an actor, and his filmography is there in full, and all of those films are available to download. Same goes for directors, producers etc.

10) Nostalgia will die

Youtube gives us every old song from our youth. Our Facebook friends are embarrasing us by uploading old photos. Any book you read in school, you can buy on Amazon. As the years go by, more and more information like this is being uploaded to the internet. In short, nothing new will ever disappear from public access, so nothing can ever come back to us reminding us of “the good old days”.

What are your predictions? Type them below- before they happen.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

2247

Barnacled statue
Libertas' wrist visible
on the sea's surface

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Hollywood Actor Involved in WikiLeaks Double Conspiracy

Is Shawshank Redemption star Tim Robbins really Wikileaks founder / suspected rapist Julian Assange? The jury's out on that, too.


Monday, 20 August 2012

Retarded Moment from my Student Days



Back in 02-03 I was living in the Student Village- practically the only smart building in the area being surrounded by Oxford Road’s aging metropolis, which consisted of the BBC building (now vacant and covered with a huge asbestos warning poster), The Spar and Monsoons chippy (the former now rebuilt, the latter now closed) and the Dancehouse (still in need of a lick of paint).

The Manchester Student Village is eight stories of student accommodation rebuilt on / converted from an old soap factory. I had a flat in the top floor, which had an incredible view of the Palace Theatre. People pay thousands for skylines like that. I was paying £60 a week. (Now, of course, the cityscape is probably obscured by another multi-story car park.)

At uni, there was too little work to do, the deadlines were months away and the distractions were impossible to ignore.

One night, me and my flatmate T were clowning about in the flat. Occasionally he’d set a fire extinguisher off, or we’d stand at each end of the corridor in our underwear throwing tennis balls at each other as hard as we could, trying to catch them. You got a bruise if your hands / body weren’t in the right place.

This particular night I was chasing him ‘round the flat for some reason. I saw him bend down quickly and in my peripheral vision I saw him pick up something large and brick-shaped and yellow and he turned and launched it at me full-pelt and I dodged-

There was a bang- loud and close to me, and my head hurt from something. I felt dizzy, and there was a cold wetness on my face. I touched my nose, feeling a dislodged nub of skin. My hand was covered in blood.

T started laughing- that kind of whooping, muffled laugh you make when you know you shouldn’t find something funny, but I couldn’t hear it for long as the ringing in my ears was getting worse and, fuck, my head hurt, and then came the grey…

*

I could see the ceiling of the lift, and part of the mirror. We were going down.

*

In reception, I could hear the accommodation manager on the phone to someone, saying “slipping in and out.”

*

Some guy crouched next to me. He was wearing green, and had a green bag. I sat up slowly and he held my head, thumbs under my eyesockets, and checked my vision. I felt tiredness and latex. He told me to follow his finger with my eyes.

I’ll be fine, he told me. I should get some rest.

Louise, one of the girls from over the corridor, had taken pity on me and dragged me to the lift, presumably. She’s one of the people stood around me like I’m being buried.

The security guard, a suspicious, stony-faced type, popped his head ‘round the side of the reception office. I first met him when I needed him to lockpick some handcuffs that the girls had used to attach me to a trolley.

This is the guy who pulls faces at the camera in the lift,” he said. Louise started to laugh.

*

When I got back to the flat, it occured to me that each door has a small sign displaying the room number- a strip of plastic nailed in. The corner of the plastic sign was what caught my nose, and the rest of the door what slammed into my forehead, knocking me clean out. 

T was still laughing. “That’s what I threw,” he said, and pointed. On the floor, there’s a kitchen sponge.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Beyonce Knowles-Inspired Writing Exercise

This week's writing prompt was a ring that looked a little like this: 
 

Pic courtesy pdsthal, Flickr

When you write a poem, try not to make it poncey
For some reason right now, I’m thinking of Beyonce
She sang about her finger, and how I should put a ring on it
And I probably would, but I’m busy writing limericks
If I did get the chance, I would keep her all for me
With a close eye on her, and keep her under lock and key
Please don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t do her any harm,
But I’ve thought she was great since she sang Ring the Alarm
The woman is a beauty, like a rare porclain vase,
A face to drop jaws an a frankly awesome arse
If I was to date her I’d have to dress dapper
But it’s a shame that she’s already with a gangster rapper
All the glitz and glam would never phase me
But if only I made a paycheck as good as Jay Z.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

A Man With A Plan

Look at this.



That’s my blog’s stats. Something has gone terribly wrong. Some time before I went to Tenerife in May my page views slumped and dropped off the face of the Earth. But…

I have a plan to get them back. It involves this blog, Twitter, and a third website. In a month, I plan to pass the 100K page view mark. I'm currently at 83, 784 hits. 

I also want this blog to be known worldwide by that time. I can make it happen, but I can’t wait any longer. Stay tuned.

While I hammer away at this, please enjoy a plethora of Science Fiction haikus.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Strada


The Spinningfields area of Manchester is so sparkly and new that it could easily be mistaken as the set of 1993 SF classic Demolition Man.



I didn’t want to utter how fucking brilliant the glassy, metropolitan utopia looked in case a little nearby machine fined me for verbal violation. This was despite July’s torrential downpour. It was out there, with the parentage, behind the new Armani store and surrounded by other establishments that I also can’t afford, that I stumbled upon Strada. It’s a charming little Italian, with a classically high ceiling and polished marble floors. It was quiet when I went there, aside from the rather jovial infant (and attractive mother) stomping around the walkways.

The food was good, although the shavings of parmesan on my pizza weren’t melted. Are they supposed to be, normally? Maybe not. I also thought the wooden chairs needed a bit of fabric padding. The free WiFi is always good, although in a restaurant isn't websurfing a bit rude?

Stride into Strada. The prices are more modest than the surrounding shops, shall we say.

Footnote- if you like the food and you fancy having a go at it in the kitchen yourself, the site has some interesting little embedded recipe demonstrations from possibly the most Italian man alive.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Surface Detail





Iain M. Banks, author of the SF “Culture” novels, is a very charismatic and zany bloke. I met him at a signing in Manchester, for the launch of Surface Detail, in 2010. Check it out here.


I wentto Tenerife in May this year and wanted a big book to see me through two plane journeys and a week of lazing by the pool. I read half of Surface Detail in that week and the other half in the subsequent two and a half months.

The story, set in the distant future, revolves around a woman who returns from the dead to wreak revenge on the the galactic president-type that raped and murdered her. It’s a frankly bizarre book, marrying heavy, nerdy SF plot with Brit-sitcom-style hit-and-miss humour. It’s not a comedy by any means, but the book does feel as if a myriad of Scottish stereotypes were abducted and transported 200 years into the future, and scattered around a cluster of planets and nearby spaceships.

The investigation into the more scientific areas of the plot (too complicated for my feeble mind to follow) felt like it was putting the handbrake on the story, which was complicated enough. In Banks’ future, we all live in a digital realm, which includes the existence of Heaven and Hell. Heaven is rarely spoken of, but Hell- where two surprisingly well-intentioned aliens find themselves- is described in a detail bordering on snuff. Not only are these scenes unnecessarily violent, but they are also pretty pointless- one character is transformed into some kind of overgrown demonic bat, and her job is to kill people who are in Hell. Yes, this is as dumb as it sounds.

In the end, some story threads are tied up. Others are not. Sometimes an open-ended story works. In Surface Detail, they did not.

If you don’t normally read contemporary SF and you want to see whether it’s your thing, a giant (and expensive) novel like this might not be ideal. Instead, check out Waterstones’ Best SF range. I read Best SF 14 some years ago, and the anthology of Science Fiction shorts was superb.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Youtube’s Next Step.

Pic courtesy Mauritsonline, Flickr

Youtube is the world's most popular video-based social media website, with over 800 million unique users visiting and over 3 billion hours of video being watched each month

It's become a choice destination for those seeking music videos, comedy clips and how-to guides, among a plethora of other uses.

The site has changed radically since it's early days. Get some web-based nostalgia over at The Telegraph

Youtube is now is a haven for pretty much anything you could want to watch in video form. Want to know how to boil an egg? 


Want to see some mariachis from Connecticut serenading a Beluga Whale? 

Or maybe some trampolining foxes could float your boat. 


I'll spare you the “Hippo gets explosive diarrhoea” video, but just believe me that it's on there.

Technology changes rapidly, as you've probably noticed being online reading this. What predictions can we make about Youtube's developments?

Most videos on Youtube have a comment section underneath allowing you to add your thoughts. The comments listed just below the videos will be the uploader's comments- if they have left any. Below this (or below the video if not), two comments will be listed as “top comments”. Each comment can be rated by other viewers by clicking a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” icon. Top comments are those which have been rated the highest out of all the comments on that video.

What I would like to know is: which of my comments were top comments? Which were my most-liked comments? Which were my least-liked? Which comments received the most responses? I'd also like a breakdown of these statistics, and similar info for the viewing figures for my own videos. I'd like this to be similar to Blogger's dashboard stats.

This kind of info would allow us to operate on Youtube with a much greater effect, meaning we are hinted as to what people want us to put up on the site.

Search terms results- what people put in the search bar on Youtube or Google- Might be interesting. Blogger's search term results definitely are, on my site at least. Here's what people have been searching for when they found my blog. Let's just say that, on the whole, they didn't find what they were looking for.

"ahh puddit in the pizza meme"
"biting finger copulate woman"
"giant african land snail laying eggs"
"cakes made into a dictionary"
"david beckham hitler haircut"
"diaries of a dead african"
"arnold schwarzenegger and the old womens"
"i melt with you nude"
"jacobin m. robespierre"
"a shit load of orangutans"
"armpits propaganda poster"
"i gave her chicken wing funny"
"animal love widescreen"
"David Prowse naked"

I'm guessing that the people who searched for these did not put their search terms in inverted commas, meaning that those phrases in the search results would appear as written is the search bar. I've written about parts of the above, but never exactly as is written.

Can you think of any improvements you'd like Youtube to install? Comment below...

Friday, 3 August 2012

Thirties




Let's have a look a the four tasks from the “A Month to 30” post. 

1) Get known through the blog 

2) Eliminate my fear of women
 
3) Get to grips with my memory disability. I still don’t know how best to present it to people, how best to work with it and how to stop it from preventing me from being the man I want to be. But I’m learning all the time.

4) Meet more people who like house music


1) Get known through the blog 
 
Blogging has been slow. I'm not uploading as often as I used to, and I've not had the stats I had before I went on holiday in May- a time whern they slumped badly. I have, however, had some awesome publicity through Twitter retweets. Here's a big thanks to this plethora of adult stars. Follower stats correct to the nearest thousand at the time of retweeting.

Karina White (13K)
Kiera King (26K)
Aiden Aspen (14K)
Maggie Green (24K)
Princess Donna (14K) (First verified account to retweet)
Kim Berlin (16K)
Kiki Daire (11K)
Presley Hart (17K)
Kelly Staxx (10K)
Tom Byron (532)
Just Charlie (869)
Lily LaBeau (25K) 
Tia Cyrus (6K)

All of this helped to push my stats up to 82K page views.
 
Cherie Deville (11K) gave an unusually unique response to my retweet request. Claiming she “wasn't a fan” of the blog title, she also told me that retweets should “come naturally”. “why is it so important to u? this is getting strange”, she asked. “also the name of your blog sounds like u do self help lectures or are a mentalist ;) The name should reflect the content.”

Hmm. Yes. Well. If she read much of the blog, she'd realised that the name DOES, in that respect, reflect the content.

Away from the world of naughtiness, thanks also goes to Norman D Golden II (2K), AKA Devon Butler from A Cop and a Half, for his retweet.

Yet despite all this, I'm STILL not famous. Well, there's still time to cartwheel naked through the women's beach volleyball at the London Olympics, with my blog's URL daubed on each of my limbs. If I get a train NOW.

2) Eliminate my fear of women.

It seems that Cherie DeVille is right: surely only a mentalist admits this in front of the whole world on his blog, right? What good is it to bang on about this? It'll do more harm than anything. I'll say this much- it's almost over.

3) Get to grips with my memory disability. I still don’t know how best to present it to people, how best to work with it and how to stop it from preventing me from being the man I want to be. But I’m learning all the time.

I think a penny-drop moment occurred to me having written the original “A Month To 30” post. People don't really mind that I have these difficulties. It's a much bigger deal to me than it is to anyone else. I shouldn't have to brush over it and pretend it's not there, but I also don't need to bang on about it. Just the moment somebody notices- normally when I check my phone for a reminder- briefly mention it. It's just a ridiculous school hangup that I've been carrying- a sense of guilt that comes with any mistake I made and a feeling that people will judge me. When I think of the women I've dated who did know, none of them were bothered. It might not have worked out, but it was never my memory that was the problem. Just my own self image was stopping me, due to what I thought women thought about me and my difficulties. I'd been wrong for DECADES.

Away from dating, I know how best to handle the problem in work.
  1. Make loads of notes
  2. Make sure line managers know that I'll be asking for help- and sometimes asking the same questions a few times
  3. colleagues will pick up what I'm dealing with. Tell them what it is if they ask. If they don't, I don't have to.
  4. Any time I make a diary entry for an event in the future, I record it in my paper diary and my phone calendar straight away. I don't let anything slip through the net.
I'll be uploading a post soon about how android phones can help people with memory difficulties. I'm hoping it will be one of my most helpful updates.

So the bottom line with point 3) is: don't worry. Nobody's really bothered.

It took me three decades to work that one out.

4) Meet more people who like house music

The majority of people I know who do like house music are settling down now, so a new plan is in order. I've spent a few months learning street dance at the Dance House, which has been great, but this has mostly been dance choreographed to RnB. I'm planning on looking at a few different places. I might start with Studio 25, which has House, Popping and Judo, randomly enough- three forms of movement I think are awesome.

I've had a rummage around in Manchester for house music social groups- there are seemingly none. This House class at Studio 25 could be a shining disco light in the smoke.

So. The plan is: Smash the same four goals throughout my thirties. I'm not letting any fucker stop me.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Well, That was my Twenties.


Curse to the wicked snakes who try to snatch the truth away 
Cursed be the ones who try to take our youth away
  • Jah World, Wu Tang Clan
There were good times, there were bad times, and there were plain weird times. But time, being such a treasured commodity, has ran out for my twenties. I gave it my best shot.

A year ago I wrote the bucket list. It was a little unrealistic.

A month ago I reviewed it.

There has been a feeling hanging over me for most of my life that time is running out and that I should have done so much more with my time and my life. Where was my successful job? Where's the money I don't have? Why can't I get my six pack back?Why won't my mates come out any more? Oh, and why don't I have a girlfriend?

Well, they say wisdom comes with age, so let's address these one at a time.

Where's my successful job?

I don't mention my job much on here as a principle, but I will tell you that I work in the public sector and I have done- for the same organisation- for nearly five years. I've avoided countless rounds of redundancies, I've moved departments six times, there have been very testing times but also a few rewarding ones too. Although I've never received a pay rise and my part-time hours have never increased, I have managed to stay with the same employer by keeping my head down, giving everything my best shot, volunteering for whatever comes up, being flexible and not making a fuss. Although the hours aren't great, I consider it a success to still be there.

Where's the money I don't have?

As I have a memory disability, I don't understand the first thing about tax and the Inland Revenue etc. However, I have met some people who DO know about this sort of thing, at long last. I won't name them either, just in case, but they have been a huge help and due to that, let's just say I can afford not to eat Tesco Value shit any more. Which leads us onto...

Why can't I get my six pack back?


Check that out. That was only a few years ago in a Hunks in Trunks competition in Walkabout. Your metabolism slows right down once you hit 25, and this picture was taken just before I hit that downward slump. I never got that fit again, despite continually working out since then. But I won't dispair. Take a look at the discussion over at Iron Magazine. It seems apparent that it's easier to build muscle in your thirties than in your twenties. So getting that physique back could be easier than it has been over the last few years.

Not only that, but I seemed to have knocked this ridiculous chocolate habit on the head. I used to eat criminal amounts of it at uni, and throughout my twenties. As mentioned, in your late twenties your metabolism doesn't let you burn it off as quick and that- combined with the chocolate I was still eating and the copious amounts of junk food I started wolfing down- contributed to the loss of my six pack when I moved into my flat in Oldham. I've now cut all of that out of my diet.

Furthermore, I believe Fluffy Oakes has yet another workout plan for me. So stay tuned for that.

Why won't my mates come out any more?

This isn't rocket science. I'm 30. My mates aren't far behind. People have kids. People get mortgages, get married and don't feel the need any more. House music, the genre I and most of my mates are into, isn't big like it used to be. We're all growing up. And I am too. So maybe now my socialising should be done during the week, and my weekends spent in the gym...?

Oh, and why don't I have a girlfriend?

I'm going to make a slight confession here. I think writers have a tendency to bear their souls from time to time, and I certainly have done. So I might as well right now. I think of myself as a relationship man. I'm not the shagging about type. I'm not exactly involved in either of those right now, and here's why: I've spent most of my twenties hanging around in bars at the weekends, occasionally pulling random girls on dancefloors without saying a great deal to them, and trying to get relationships out of them- IF I like them enough. Anything less serious than that I couldn't get my head around, until recently. Yet the only decent relationship I've had I got through the internet. After all, who gets relationships with people they meet in bars? It can happen, but it generally doesn't. So, maybe I should tone down the nights out and do more stuff I enjoy- more dance classes, perhaps get back into MMA, and not really think about women so much. It's also dawned on me that this feeling that I should be in a relationship comes froma feeling that something isn't right- something is missing from me as a person. Cue the violins. I've always thought I'd find a woman to fill that gap and complete me.

This is wrong.

You complete yourself. Then you don't think about it. Then women will come. That's the theory, and that's the principle that has taken three twatting decades to figure out.