Last week, a friend of mine made himself quite clear: "Twitter ruined your blog."
He's right of course; cutting up a whole blog post into individual sentences and randomly splattering them every couple of hours or days is a sure fire way to make one's online presence both less interesting AND less amusing...but I'll make it up to you. Or at least I'll try.
How about three blogs in one week?
Let's start in the early hours of Monday 11th May 2009, with a short vignette that I have chosen to entitle:
'My Lowest Ebb'
Foreword: I am not, nor have I ever been, a thief. I never shoplifted. I never gave into teenage peer pressure. I never ran out of Pizza Hut without paying. Nothing. Ever. Never.
End of foreword.
I don't know what time it was exactly, but I remember the sun had started to rise, and we were sat in a service station about two hours out of London, waiting for the RAC pick up truck to turn up, say wassup, pick us up. Fuck.
Why do service stations make Harrods look like poundland? They price themselves in the most arrogant way possible, knowing that the customers have no choice but to pay whatever they ask, because there's literally no alternative.
For anyone who's never felt the road side party vibe before, let me give you a little taste of the menu that seems to remain the same regardless of chain...
Vegetarian Breakfast - £6.99
Traditional Breakfast - £7.99
Full English Breakfast - £9.99
And we are NOT talking quality merchandise here...we are talking, straight out of a can, through a warm tube onto a cold moist plate. Gruel and tripe painted the colour of breakfast. Hunger's favourite colour.
I hadn't eaten in a while. I had five pound coins on me, purloined from an Elvis themed slot machine about seven hours earlier.
Now I knew £5 wasn't going to stretch very far. But I suddenly had this overwhelming sense of rebellion wash over me...like if I didn't beat the system, no one would.
Probably reminiscent of how Keanu Reeves feels in the Matrix...or more likely how Robin Williams feels in Bi-Centennial man. When he finally gains the capacity to feel about a hundred minutes in.
By default, I ordered what I could afford:
Hot Chocolate £2.49
Cinnamon Danish £1.99
"Take a bag for the danish, it's self service", the till assistant informed me.
And on that bombshell she turned around to cobble together the hot chocolate, leaving me in a bright white deserted cafeteria, facing a wall of pastries...
As I looked down at the stale low grade snacks, I realised that I had to think fast.
Here I was, with a pair of metal tongs in one hand, and a paper bag in the other.
Whilst the only member of staff on duty had their back towards me.
Now I know how gravediggers feel when they're left alone with corpses smothered in jewellery.
I reached for the first danish, bagged it up, and after a pause that felt like a lifetime, I reached for a second.
The job was done. Two for the price of one. And I was ready to run. But had I won?
She turned around and I suddenly felt like I'd shot a child with a rifle at point blank range.
I was sweating dishonour, and I could swear she smelt it on me.
Now I don't know if she'd caught my reflection in the shiny surface of the coffee machine, or had heard one too many rustlings, but as she stared into my swindling eyes, I knew I'd been rumbled.
"How many cinnamon danishes was it you said you wanted?", she asked.
"Just the one", I lied, keeping the paper bag well below the counter.
"Just the one?" - I could feel my moral totem beginning to collapse...
"Just the one." I verified. All around me, I could hear lie detectors screaming with laughter.
My pathetic life began to flash before my eyes.
"Do you mind if I have a look in the bag?" she asked.
Game, set, and match. I was sure Martin Kemp and the SAS would be arriving any minute.
This was the real money shot. Nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide. I lifted the bag that now seemed to hold the weight of a million stolen pastries, peeling it open to reveal the miserable loot.
"Sorry" I lied, "I must have picked up two by mistake."
"By mistake...I see...So how many is it you're buying?", she replied...showing that she was clearly a lot more used to this shit than I was. I looked around and realised that she hadn't called the manager or the police, or even sprayed Mace in my eyes.
"Erm, yeah it was just the one. Yup, one"
As I tonged out the illegal second danish (I put back the larger of the two in some sort of insignificant act of penitence), she asked for my £4.48 and that was it. I handed over my fiver and walked shamefully out towards the car. The fact that she hadn't even got angry made it all the worse. I just had to live with myself, my attempted robbery, and my lowest ebb.