Complaining Is Fun: Laboratoires Garnier

You know that thing where it’s three in the morning and you can’t sleep, so you email a large company and pretend to be a former employee with a ridiculous grievance just to see what they say about it? Sure you do.

I just sent this to L’oreal, regarding their Garnier brand. You know, formerly Laboratoires Garnier? Yeah, took a bit of set up but I feel it’s worth it.

To whom it may concern

I was once employed as a scientist in your laboratoire and I experienced something truly horrifying which haunts me to this day.

You see, I was working in the laboratoire, late one night
When my eyes beheld an eerie sight
For my monster from his slab, began to rise
And suddenly to my surprise

He did the mash, he did the monster mash
The monster mash, it was a graveyard smash
He did the mash, it caught on in a flash
He did the mash, he did the monster mash

From my laboratoire in the castle east
To the master bedroom where the vampires feast
The ghouls all came from their humble abodes
To get a jolt from my electrodes

They did the mash, they did the monster mash
The monster mash, it was a graveyard smash
They did the mash, it caught on in a flash
They did the mash, they did the monster mash

The zombies were having fun
The party had just begun
The guests included Wolfman,
Dracula, and his son

The scene was rockin’, all were digging the sounds
Igor on chains, backed by his baying hounds
The coffin-bangers were about to arrive
With their vocal group, ‘The Crypt-Kicker Five’

They played the mash, they played the monster mash
The monster mash, it was a graveyard smash
They played the mash, it caught on in a flash
They played the mash, they played the monster mash

Of course, this all sounds like a fun time but I was shaken and am sure you will want to offer me some form of compensation. You know, face cream and such.

Al Vimh.

I eagerly await their response.

DISCLAIMER: Obviously, that’s the lyrics to Monster Mash. I don’t own those. L’oreal did nothing wrong. Hope they see the funny side. Cheer up, people.

Horse-Flies – Satan’s Airforce

Horse-Flies. Irritation? Or winged demons hellbent on the elimination of all life on the planet? I’d always assumed the former, but it would seem that i’ve underestimated these flying fiends.

Until recently, i’ve relied solely on information gleaned during my 33 years on the planet, my own experience of having been bitten by a horse-fly and a smattering of common sense. With this, I figured out the following:

1) Horse-fly bites are a wee bit sore and you get a bump. The bump itches.

2) A cream from Boots sorts it out

3) If you’re allergic, it can be pretty nasty. Mind you, so can peanuts or seagulls or words ending in “ism”. Allergies are a dick.

What a fool i’ve been! Thank god for Somerset Live and every other local rag and tabloid up and down the country for pointing out the true horror of horse-flies.

“This image was recovered from the camera of one Michael Gambonberry who was almost wholly devoured shortly after taking the shot. Only his feet were left intact as horse-flies loathe the taste of leather.”

The problem is, they’ve not gone far enough. I read the article about these murderous, winged bastard-demons and decided that we need to dig deeper. So, I stayed up until 3am convincing myself that every buzz I heard was a sign of imminent death, pumped by system full of so much caffeine that I can now overtake The Flash at a jog and then I jotted down my horse-fly research. Here’s what I found:

1) The average horse-fly is around 22 pounds in weight and has a wingspan of around eleven feet.

2) Only the female horse-fly bites, as it requires blood in order to lay eggs. The male horse-fly will guard the perimeter and is generally armed with an automatic weapon and backup sidearm as well as a variety of knives.

3) Horse-flies can not be killed by conventional weapons. One was reportedly shot down over the Mojave desert in 1998 using an experimental gauss cannon but no remains were ever found.

4) Asides from the need to consume blood in order to lay eggs, a standard diet for the horse-fly consists of raw meat, the brain matter of infant swallows and those little packets of barbecue sauce from Rustlers burgers

5) The UN have been attempting to broker a peace treaty between mankind and the horse-fly nation since 1968 but as of the most recent summit in 2016, no diplomatic resolution has been made.

6) Horse-flies are equipped with a sophisticated anti-air “chaff” system, air to ground missiles and twin 30mm cannon.

7) In days of old, the horse-flies were kept at bay through the ritualistic sacrifice of the elderly and infirm. Worshipped as gods, they ruled over the land with an iron wing. We were perhaps unwise to stop worship…

8) Horse-flies have no natural predators and sit comfortably at the top of the food chain. They have been known to take down prey up to ten times their size by working in packs and will often kill for sport.

9) Horse-flies have mastered the dark arts and command great shadow beasts to do their bidding. In league with Those Below, the horse-fly will eventually rise up to lead Hell’s army in a war against God and bring about the end of days

10) Horse-flies are all Trump supporters


Disclaimer: Aye, horse-fly bites can be a bit crap. If you get bitten and react, see a doctor. Generally speaking, you’ll be fine. 

All I Want For Christmas…

I was helping the Child Units with their letters to Santa today and an interesting question popped up.

“Can we ask for anything we want?”

Well, of course. It’s Santa. You might not get everything you ask for, but you’re allowed to put anything you like in a letter.

Child Unit 2 asked for everyone in the world to have a Merry Christmas and Child Unit 1 asked for her brother to not be poorly (last year he was a snot, sick and shite machine) and for Santa to get some rest on Boxing Day. This is one hundred percent, gospel truth. They’re sweethearts, bless them.

Of course, they also eached asked for a Nintendo 2DS XL and as they’re my offspring, there’s every possibility that these lofty sentiments were a bid to curry favour, but even so I was touched. Touched and inspired.

This year, i’m writing my own letter to Santa, the first for several years. I thought i’d let you all see a copy:

Dear Santa

Let’s not fuck about, Kris. You and I both know that i’m no saint but I always try to direct my boundless reserves of rage and loathing toward those who do the world ill and I think  I deserve a few bonus points, so perhaps you could nudge me over to the nice list? 

You may take umbrage, but I know there’s precedent for this. Last year the Child Units destroyed a wide range of toys and household items and i’m pretty sure one of them is leaking government secrets to a Chinese spy but you gave them a pass and dropped off a whole bunch of nonsense, so I reckon I ought to be able to pop in a request or three?

Of course, you’re welcome to bypass me entirely but you should be warned that an empty stocking for me means a full inbox for every tabloid reporter come December 26th. The whole world knows you were caught kissing Mummy underneath the mistletoe but they’ve not seen where the mistletoe was hanging, have they? Yes, I have pictures.

So, let’s put all that crap aside and just assume that i’m waking up to a whole bunch of pressies, yeah? Yeah. On to my list.

Come Christmas morning, this is what I want:

1) I want a huge vault of gold coins into which I can dive headfirst and swim about. Obviously, like toys and batteries, I need this to come with a free “suspension of physics” pack so said diving won’t result in a broken everything.

2) I would like Donald Trump to be cursed by whatever demons you can summon so that everytime he writes a Tweet, he shits himself. If we have to deal with regular torrents of his crap, so does he.

3) Talkboy. You know, from Home Alone 2? They’re awesome.

4) I only want to hear the word “lush” being used by someone who is either describing luxuriant vegetation, pointing out a gin soaked old rummy or asking where to find a shop that sells bath salts strong enough to melt steel beams.

5) Obscene amounts of cake

6) Halo 6. Make it happen.

7) I want the power to render people unconscious using just the power of my mind, should I hear them whining about Christmas coming too early. Also, if they moan about the Coca-Cola truck. OH! Also to be used on anyone who says Die Hard isn’t a Christmas film. Best just make it a broad spectrum psychic chloroform deal

8) Would be nice if you could do something about all the bastards? 

9) Get Eureka renewed. 

10) And Warehouse 13

11) And Numb3rs

12) Cancel Game of Thrones.

13) Mostly, you could leave of all the other stuff above if you could do one thing for me? Make people a bit nicer to each other? I feel like the world could use a lot more smiling and laughing and talking and a lot less sexual harassment and abuse and bullying, don’t you? 

I’d happily give up all the stuff above and anything else that anyone else wanted to get me, if you could do something about the sadness.

If you could encourage people with mental health issues to open up more and get the help they need and make sure that said help is there WHEN they need it.

If you could force people to debate instead of argue and maybe stick a muzzle on the idiots who don’t want to debate because it’s a waste of good shouting time.

If you could perhaps lay off the visions of sugar plums for a night and inject a little dream serum into the world leaders, filling their heads with visions of peace and co-operation and the realisation that whatever one’s race, sexual orientation, gender, fucking shoe size or whatever, we’re all just people. Just people, whirling about on a ball of dirt and water which will eventually blow up or freeze or whatever and all of this crap will have been futile, so why not get along in the meantime?

If you could do something about all that then maybe we could all have a merry Christmas or a happy Hanukkah or a joyous Kwanzaa or whatever else you celebrate or don’t celebrate or what-have-you. The important part really is the merry, the happy and the joyous, isn’t it?

That’d be nice.

14) Or cancel the lot and get me an Xbox One X and a massive telly.

Looking forward to Christmas morning. I’ll leave out a bottle of malt and a couple rounds of toast.

Kisses or amen or whatever,

Fingers crossed, folks!

Smashed Pumpkins (A Treatise On Inebriation And The Measurement Thereof)

I’ve spent more than my fair share of nights in assorted bars and clubs up and down the land, indulging in the devil’s brew. That’s a fancy-shmancy way of saying that i’ve been standing-up-falling-down-pissed a whole bunch of times.

Now sure, it’s not big and it’s not clever. There’s nothing sensible about drinking enough alchohol to leave you near blind, clutching a kebab like some sort of baffling, spiced life preserver. That being said, I enjoy certain alchoholic beverages, I enjoy spending time with friends and I enjoy socialising, so long as it’s on my own terms and I get to tell people to piss off if they come within six feet of me on an off day.

With all that in mind, i’ll not apologise for occasionally failing to drink responsibly. I won’t advise others to do it and i’ll happily spread the words of moderation and taking care of one’s self, so long as it’s understood that my vomit scented days of old are something i’m one hundred percent A-OK with.

These days, I rarely take a drink but as I write this at a little shy of 1am on a Saturday morning, i’m faced with the very real prospect of spending an evening in the company of John Barleycorn and his lesser known cousin, Mike Largebottleofbloodygoodsinglemalt.

As I ponder possibilities for the day and night ahead of me, I decide to listen to some music and my random Youtube playlist lands on 1979 by the Smashing Pumpkins. Thoughts of ice cold mojitos, combined with the pleasantly melancholy wailing of Billy-Why-Can-I-Not-Leave-TNA-To-Fucking-Die-Corgan cause a sudden spark of inspiration within me. Could Smashing Pumpkins be the answer to an issue which has plagued mankind since time began(ish)?

Picture the scene. An 18 year old me, firm of thigh and thick of ginger mane, steps out into the world. After a glass or two of sweet sherry, one of my friends turns to me…

DAVE*: “Hey Jim, is Dave** coming out tonight?”

ME: “He said he was. Hang on, i’ll ring him.”

After three attempts, I manage to find Dave’s number and start a call. He picks up after a couple of rings.

DAVE: “Hello mate, i’m headed out the door now”


DAVE: *laughter* “Bloody hell, how drunk are you?”

This happened. More than once. Usually, i’d say something like “Hahahahahaha” or, if I was feeling particularly eloquent, “Yeahhhh yeah hahahahaha alright”. I am and always have been a man of words.

The thing is, what was I supposed to say? How do you explain to someone what level of drunkenness you’ve reached? What’s the scale?

This morning, with Corgan assaulting my ears and half formed plans for debauchery in my future, I realised something. This will change your lives.

You are ALWAYS “Smashing Pumpkins” drunk.

The real question is, just how Smashing Pumpkins drunk are you? Let me break it down for you.

“It’s just playing in the background while I get ready”

You haven’t touched a drop.

“It’s fine, i’m 1979 drunk”

This is the start of the night. You’ve maybe had a couple of beers, relaxed a wee bit. You’re enjoying 1979, with it’s soft spoken verses and easy singalong chorus. Things are going great.

“Haha, i’m Today drunk!”

You’ve had a couple more drinks and you’re fine, you’re totally fine.

You’re a little giggly and you’re singing along to Today with a wee bit more volume than is absolutely necessary, but you’re fine.

Everything is fine.

Kebab and a taxi soon.


“Mate, oh mate. I’m Stand Inside Your Love drunk.”

You’re six pints and four shots into the evening. An evening which is edging ever closer to being a morning. You’ve spent the last half an hour discussing lost love and lamentation, although not in those exact terms. In fact, mostly you’ve half sobbed the words to Stand Inside Your Love, mumbled “s’was our song mate. Our song. We saw it inna-inna-inna film”. This would be a good time to head home, drink some water and get some sleep.

“I’m so sorry about last night. I was Ava Adore drunk.”

This stage sneaks up on you when you’re alone.

If you’re lucky, you managed to get a ride home or a taxi, or you live close enough to walk. If you’re exceptionally fortunate, your transport has dropped you safely to the door of your actual house. What’s more likely is that you’ve been dropped off at what you insisted was the entrance to your driveway, only to find yourself being menaced by a cat that you didn’t know you had, before realising that you’ve gotten out of the car half a mile early.

Eventually, you stagger through the door of your house. It took you five attempts to unlock the door, after first shoving the key into the letter box three times, gouging the door frame on the fourth attempt and for reasons you’ll never understand to your dying day, rounding out by putting it in the hanging basket and hoping somehow that the door would pop open due to proximity of key to lock.

You get as far as the living room and collapse on the sofa because the stairs look, to you, like something that Escher drew during that one night when he took enough ‘shrooms to kill Kong.

Despite having drank every drop of alchohol within a 20 mile radius of your house, you’ve managed to dig out the bottle of Midori that’s been gathering dust in the hall cupboard since your housewarming party, six years ago.

You jab your phone into life and send a barrage of texts, messages and DMs which will slowly reduce every friendship and working relationship you have ever built to ash while you sleep. Some of them would involve blurry close-up pictures of your genitalia but in a single, blissful moment of good fortune, you switched to selfie cam and so several people, one of whom is bound to be your aunt, receive images of your I-hope-my-willy-looks-amazing-in-this face.

You finally pass out and are found the next day by your loved ones, a sticky puddle of Midori gluing your face to the couch cushions, a half eaten burger turned to pulp in your pocket and Ava Adore on loop, blaring through one earbud which you have stuck up your nose.

You have gone full Pumpkin.

* There’s always a Dave

** We have two.

This was written for comedy purposes, folks. Always drink responsibly and never, EVER go full Pumpkin.

New Years Eve: Then And Now

2016 wasn’t so bad. For me, anyway.

Oh, on a worldwide scale it’s been a bloody horror. For a start, many of my cultural icons have died. People who have a genuine place in my heart, people who created films, music and other works which are tied to cherished memories which will forever now feel tinged with sadness.

Then there’s the current political climate. I personally think Brexit was a bloody stupid idea and Donald Trump is a bloody stupid…man? Lizard? Gone-over-orange-in-a-wig? Whatever. The point is, whatever you think of Farage or Trump or May or any of them, everything is kind of up in the air right now and that’s scary as hell, but that’s not what I want to talk about.

No, 2016 had a lot of good moments for me and my loved ones, was riddled with absolute arse for the world as a whole and while i’ve no reason personally to detest it, i’ll not be sorry to see this year breathe its last as 2017 comes screaming out of the metaphorical birth canal and takes responsibility for the next three hundred and sixty five days of nonsense.

What I want to talk about right now, folks, is New Year’s Eve itself. The evening of the 31st of December, leading into the wee small hours of January 1st, often spent in the company of a shitload of alchohol and a whole lot of poor decisions.

I remember some years ago, me and my friend Big Dave (honestly) set off on a pub crawl around Crewkerne, our old stomping ground. We would have been around eighteen or nineteen years old and had plans to hook up with the rest of our merry crew later that night to ring in the new year but we first decided we would head out to a wee village pub not far from us.

The plan was simple. Enjoy an early evening ale at The Globe, walk the mile or so back into town and hit every one of the I-can’t-remember-but-I-want-to-say-12 pubs that were open at the time and round out the night with much carousing in the Crown, our local.

I remember spending at least half an hour at the bar in Ip’s Palace, a local Chinese restaurant, because they had excellent prawn crackers and reasonably priced Budweiser.

I seem to recall drinking about one quarter of a pint in the Nags Head before leaving, after realising that it wasn’t beer we were drinking, really. It was more like beer flavoured dog piss. Bloody awful pub, the Nags, but it’s now a very nice Indian takeaway, so there’s a thing.

I have a slightly fuzzy recollection of making it back to the Crown a little before 12 and fighting my way to the bar to order a drink, before linking arms with my companions, belting out a slurred rendition of Auld Lang Syne and tongue kissing someone, no idea of their identity or gender, before moving on to the serious business of building a Sidekicks pyramid the height of the bar.

That was then. This is now.

I am a 32 year old, much married father of two and New Year’s Eve, 2016, finds me draped across the sofa in my cosiest pyjamas. They are fleecy and tartan and feel like being hugged by some sort of Scottish angel made of warm clouds. I am drinking Lucozade, because I am ill, but it’s Lucozade Zero, because i’m diabetic and actual Lucozade would probably kill me.

Some of my family are getting together tonight to ring in the bells but i’ve had to say no. I can’t stand up without wanting to fall down, both of the kids have been rough as hell over Christmas and asides from the fact that I fear the winter may take me, i’m buggered if i’m going to be patient zero in the plague that kills off the McLellan clan. They all understand and sad as I am to not be with them tonight, it’s the best thing, really. I’ll give them a bell around midnight and they know I love them and all that other soppy, human stuff, so that’s fine. So what AM I up to?

I’m watching Pokemon trading card pack openings on Youtube with Child Unit 2. In fairness, he’s playing Geometry Dash on the tablet and i’m watching the Pokemon videos, wondering if some lucky bastard is going to pull the Hoopa full art that I want for my collection. I want us to spend some time together and every now and then he does actually put the tablet down and start chatting away, at which point I realise just how lousy I feel and kind of wish he’d go back to his game so I could half-doze. Obviously, I feel guilty no matter what i’m doing, because parenting.

Child Unit 1 is upstairs on her very first smartphone. She’s 9 years old, 10 in January and she’s lying on her bed, video chatting to a school friend on Whatsapp. In the frazzled, plague-ridden, distressed parenting centre of my brain, this innocent video chat will almost certainly lead to a career of lewd webcam gyration*.

Normally, when people say “Oh they grow up so fast” my first thought is usually “One day at a time, because that’s how time works, dickhead”, but it’s true. Time seems to be passing faster than it did in the old days and my babies aren’t babies anymore. It’s wonderful and terrifying in equal measure and most days I just hope I don’t fuck it up SO badly that they resent me for it.

My wife, wondrous creature that she his, has just finished a 12 hour shift. She’s a nurse, she does an important, incredible job that I simply could not do. She might make it past midnight or she might have to head upstairs to get some sleep before long because she has another 12 hour shift to do tomorrow. Whatever. It would be lovely to have her here around at midnight, but i’d sooner she got some rest if that’s what she needs. It’s just a tick on the clock and as I plan to spend all the rest of the ticks I have with this woman, I can hardly complain if she spends a few of those ticks asleep from time to time, can I?

So that’s my New Year’s Eve, 2016. The Child Units are doing their own thing, for the most part. Marital Unit muttered something about incense and fired up Pokemon Go, having handed me a slab of Panettone that would choke a walrus. My head hurts, my joints throb and my throat feels like it’s been vigorously assaulted with a spiky rogering stick.

When I was younger, i’d be just about hitting my stride about now. Four pubs down, eight to go and a kebab stop at ten to keep me going.
This year, I decided against having a midnight dram because it might not sit well with my meds.

I wouldn’t change a bloody thing.

Happy New Year, folks.

* I fully support anyone who chooses a career in webcam gyration. I’ve got a couple of friends who make a bloody good living wobbling their bits online and I wish them well. It’s just…she’s nine, guys. I panic easily.