The addict

Obsession. It’s intense, yet the word doesn’t make sense.
I mean, c’mon, it sounds like a fragrance.
And it’s telling when, in your efforts to define, you end up with something that sounds like it’s from Calvin Klein.
It creeps up on you too. Like a warm embrace that beckons and entices we’re all fallible, we all have our vices.

Let’s start at the top.

From greed and a basic need to feed, food porn is born.
Sharing pictures of your dinner on social media does not make you a winner, but more of a sinner.
Ladies I’m looking at you, you’re mostly to blame. For God’s sake it’s just food.
Then lads you get your fair share, for ladies often look at you with despair when you obsess over sport, with no second thought for anything else.
Sacrificing your health to get on the beer and support your team the thin veneer of your obsession is really quite obscene.
And talking of beer, most of you don’t think when it comes to drink.
It’s like a chink in your armour, after a few jars your personality becomes larger, the attachment you have to your judgement becomes farther… and farther away, to the point where you hope and pray that you make it to the next day without your mates looking at you with dismay.

‘It was the drink!’ you cry.
My oh my, there’s that vice again, rising to the surface like an old friend.

And as far as old friends go there’s one you love to detest, probably because it’s simply the best, and that’s sex.
The ultimate need to feed and the strongest vice of all. Indulging this one too much will set you up for a nasty fall.
‘It’s so damn cruel’ you exclaim, for this vice often leaves you drained and deranged and in a lot of pain, it’s insane.

But without our vices what would we be?
Giving in to our dark side seems so easy and our time doesn’t come for free, as you’ll see.
In life though, as in nature, a balance must be struck. Before we give in to our desire to eat, drink and, er… make love, we must be strong and play the long game.
‘It’s hip to be square’, as the song says. You know, the one by Huey Lewis and the News.
Checking myself though you’ll have to excuse as I’ve strayed from the point and it’s clear my brain is all out of joint.
Probably those vices again.
About time I welcomed them back.
After all, they’re old friends.

The disgruntled demon

Dear well wishers and the general public,

I have something to say.
Heed my words without delay.
I’ve had enough of this.

I was born with a big red head and pointy horns which was tough growing up.
Regularly scorned, mocked and abused you could find me in the gutter thinking, ‘This is ludicrous I didn’t choose this. Why do I have to sit here and get a taste while others get bruised fists pounding my face?’
For I am a pacifist demon and mean no harm, there’s no need to run or raise the alarm.

From a young age I knew something was amiss.
For the life of me I couldn’t buy a kiss (God knows I tried).
And crossing my path cats would spit and hiss, it really was the pits.
On occasion I thought about slitting my wrists but I’m immortal.
As a young runaway I often wound up in borstal, a place for delinquents.
But how do you deal with a kid that can bring humanity to the brink of extinction?

Regularly I’d be laughed at with derision because I’d made it my mission to envision a world where demons were welcomed into society.
Why should angels get all the praise all the time, where’s the variety?
Yet my horns branded me an outcast, and if we’re talking reputation let’s just say the gap between angels and demons is vast.

But that’s all going to change.

I have dangerous plans to rearrange the fabric of reality, I’m going to make those angels so mad at me, you’ll see.
It’s the least they deserve.
For centuries they’ve had the nerve to pretend they serve God when really we’ve been downright robbed ‘cos they do a poor job.
You might think I’m being mean and that my plans are extreme, but I must make a stand. I can’t be the only demon in this fair land that needs a helping hand?

And so I’m rounding up the boys… I’ll start with Azazel and Cain who make the most noise, they specialise in pain and know how to maim with impunity, they’ll leave those angels slain and strewn about the place for all of eternity.
Chosen messengers?
Hah! I’d love to see the look on God’s face, what a schlub.
For good measure I’ll then sub on Beelzebub.
He’s getting on a bit but his black old heart is in the right place. He’ll show those angels, the disgrace that they are.
But in case you think I’m going to watch from afar I’m mucking in too.
I’m the midfield general, commanding the team to ensure we don’t lose.
For my name is Lucifer and if I wind up next to ya on the battlefield then you’re done for.

I tried to retire, honestly I did.
I told no lies, no fibs, I turned the other cheek and look where it got me.
Back to square one.
Honestly though, I’m kind of enjoying this bad streak, it’s fun.
Maybe I should keep it low key but to hell with it, I’m summoning Loki.
He’s the bee’s knees when it comes to mischief and mayhem… and striking fear into the hearts of flawed men.

But before I get carried away I must remember why I started this.
It was because something was amiss and being a pacifist was the pits.
Very soon I’ll write to you again, once I’ve had a chance to level the playing field for angels, demons and men.
Until then, keep your head down.
Things are going to get a little crazy round here.
This, I do solemnly vow.

Yours sincerely,

Lucifer.

Worker bee

You’re a worker bee, when it comes to hard graft you’re far better than me.
Pushing to achieve you leave yourself with barely a second to breathe, you tend to get in too deep, so fast you can’t leave.
Pur-lease you tell others you’re just getting started, while others are smarting you’re sticking your arm out, chancing, taking risks, getting licked and making moves.
Yet whatever you do you tend to stay true… to yourself in your journey to ultimate wealth and riches.
Moving up with your fellows bees you learn to get along, you’re not bitches you’re strong, you learn to please and grease the wheels lest they look at you with unease.
And as you appease and squeeze them for all they are worth you get ahead of the pack and establish your turf.
Yet it hurts, this work, you’re relentless and ruthless, you were always taught it pays not be toothless.
Maybe it’s time you chilled out and listened to some smooth hits? Mellow you out, yeah that’ll work.
But before long you start to go beserk, goddammit you hate to shirk work. Let’s face it though you’re no Captain Kirk, you ain’t no hero.
For the most part you’re nothing but a zero, a flunkey, a worker bee, if someone has to suffer you’re the one that bleeds, you’re the one that takes a hit for the team.
Yet push on you must, it’s a disease that breeds in you like a virus. Maybe it’s something that we all have inside of us?
Most kick up a fuss when asked to go the extra mile but you dial it up, there’s something about work that gets you in the gut.
It’s tough but you’re a worker bee and the thought of that pollen is just too sweet.
To your fellow bees you probably look mean but at the end of the day who doesn’t want to be the one to protect the queen?

The cinephile

Stepping into the foyer yours is a world of forlorn popcorn, fizzy drinks and ice cream swirls.
Sticky carpet underfoot with staff straight out of Shaun of the Dead you’re probably asking yourself, ‘Should I examine my head, where’s the magic?’ As far as movie experiences go this one is tragic.
Ticket stub in hand you advance, agitated and nervous, and when the lights go down you’re in a trance, but what do you get served first?
Nothing but a steady stream of adverts and insipid trailers, ‘Jesus, I came for this?’, you think. ‘Will it get better? Am I on the brink of something special?’
Time will tell. You have to stick it out.
For what starts hellish soon becomes bright and clean as you submit to the lure of silver screen. Less Charlie and more Martin Sheen in Apocalyse Now, your heroes come to life when the chips are down. They’ll face impossible odds but overcome them somehow. In short, they’ll do you proud.
Even in a drama where our protagonist is filled with inner torment you gradually relent and give your consent, as far as time in a dark room goes this is money well spent.
Yet here’s the rub, it’s like a snub, you resent the fact that you’re made to suffer first, cinemas are making it harder on you they should be cursed.
And as others leave the screen and disperse you’re left conflicted. If only you could put time in reverse and immerse yourself in the magic again, that would be a sick trick.
But before your thoughts go all cinematic and ecstatic know this, they’re just stories to help us make sense of the world. Armed with that knowledge your happiness will unfurl.
If all else fails there are always rom-coms. Before you know it you’re lost in the magic once again weeping into a tissue, you’re long gone.

Spring chicken

Reach down, tie that trainer, no time to sleep now this exercise lark is a no-brainer.
Ear buds in, one, two, when it’s workout time there’s no room for curfew.
Feeling the burn like Schwarzenegger, but with no one egging me on it’s just me and my thoughts. Like an unstoppable object against an immovable force, one foot follows the other in a vendetta against sports.
Starting slow, step by step, blow by blow, I pick up the pace. But this ain’t no race against anyone except myself. And my health faces a neverending battle against office work and fatty foods. But I’m on a quest, and so I must choose. If this is a rat race am I destined to lose?
Thinking about it, sugar and bread are the blight of our lives, lurking on the shelves they fill me with dread, to fight back I must smite them or die. On my quest I’m constantly asking myself why, do I go healthy or do I fold and choose pie?
But I digress.
Why should I be forced to eat less and less?
And it’s not just me, we’re an obese nation according to the media. Have you ever asked yourself, what lies are they feeding ya?
Eight glasses of water a day, till we’re so full of liquid that we sway and sway from side to side, like the Titanic with an iceberg in her sights. Or maybe we’re an apex predator, keeping a flex on as we get cleverer and cleverer.
Destroying, consuming and hoovering up resources, we’re on a calorific mission to reach critical mass, destined to become a bloated fortress.
Yet there’s hope, there always is. In our quest to become lean and lithe and reach fitness bliss we must get a regular sweat on and bear witness to this.
Spinning, boot camp, lifting weights, on this fit-fat loop are we doomed to make the same mistakes? God I hope not or this is all for nothing.
As those gym bunnies say, no pain no gain.
Time to put the pen down. Time to train.

The dating game

Swipe left, swipe right with no end in sight.
A meeting, a chance encounter, we flounder and fight, adrift in a sea of brief connections, ‘yeah, but what do you expect son?’ your mates cry. Looking slick, smug and sly, safe and content in their marriages, while we erect barrages.
For in this game you gotta protect yourself and look after your health, to be fighting fit, physically ripped and mentally nimble, prepared for a hottie to gatecrash your world.
The kind of person that makes your toes curl and mind swirl.
That girl.
But maybe that’s a pipe dream?
For in the sea of single faces out there we remain unseen, like a leper girls look at us unclean, the lines we feed them they see as obscene.
There’s always that divide. They shout we scream, or maybe it’s the other way round?
Whatever, I’m twisted now.
I want to be realistic and authentic, but how?
Like Batman I want to be fending off honeys with a stick, KAPOW!
But with a furrowed brow I sit back and take stock. My time is now. Or has it come and gone? Do I need to stop the rot?
Killing time it won’t be long until I write my own song, one where I’m the hero that does no wrong.
But who wants to hear a story where the conclusion is foregone?
The dating game is a game because we don’t know the outcome. But back to what my mates say again, ‘what do you expect son?’

Death

Death. What is death anyway?
If life is a journey from the cradle to the grave, where does it all end? How are we supposed to behave?
Religion has us all believing that we’re part of the plan, that if we stand up and help our fellow man we’ll be welcomed in, absolved of sin and born again.
There’s comfort in that I suppose. And for those of us that chose a different path, what then? Are we out on our arse? Straight to hell in a handcart?
Death frightens me I’ll admit it.
Whether heaven or hell await me I can’t say. For all I know my path is pre-ordained, like a stain on the carpet of life no matter the strife I endure I am constant until the end.
Do I have an arc? Am I supposed to learn something along the way?
Am I supposed to love, hate, work and pray?
Let’s say religion is for suckers but praying has a place, like meditation it takes us to a space where our minds can be free. Free to sing and dance and soar beyond ourselves, to transcend.
But this is only momentary, fleeting, short-lived. Like a damp squib our lives can be extinguished in the blink of an eye.
There’s nothing sadder than the moment after a party popper is released.
The climax has come and gone, all too sudden.
We cease.

Ps. Some of you may notice the feature image for this piece is Death, one of the endless, taken from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series. Neil worked with Terry Pratchett from time to time and they were friends. Terry died last month and this is my tribute to him. ‘Why not use Death from the Discworld series then?’, some of you may ask. Whilst he’s a great character he felt too masculine. I felt this piece needed a female Death, hence one of the endless.