Friday, 27 December 2013

My lazy-bowel mystery

Courtesy of Melis82
Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

Since opting for early retirement from the day job three months ago, I have developed a fixation with my bowels. Rarely a moment goes by without me ruminating over the internal activities of the 1.5 metres of tubing that languishes in the pit of my abdomen. And there is plenty to think about; my bowel is a mystery of such intricacy it renders the Bermuda Triangle, Jack the Ripper and the Turin Shroud all obvious by comparison.

I’ve concluded my large intestine has a wicked sense of humor. Throughout most of my earlier life it pulsed with gusto, its manic and unpredictable contractions rendering me vulnerable to recurrent looseness. Twelve months ago I adopted a healthier lifestyle, jogging three times per week and eating a low-fat/high-fibre diet, a change that resulted in the welcome loss of 20 pounds. But my bowels, like militant union leaders, opted for a go-slow and thereby triggered extended periods of constipation.

After hours, nay days, of visualizing the festering faeces backing up in my labyrinth of turgid intestines, I entered the phrase ‘cures for constipation’ into my Google search engine. I skipped the recommended laxatives (I have an aversion to medications of any type) and the glass of daily prune juice achieved little more than nausea. So I probed for more creative remedies in an effort to prompt my lazy bowel into action.

Standing on the seat and squatting, thereby recreating the more 'natural’ pooing position of our pre-toilet ancestors, was a non-starter; my iffy knee ligaments couldn’t cope with such athleticism.  Elevating one’s feet while sitting on the toilet and rocking backwards and forwards was another recommendation, accompanied by confident claims that it would help lever the arid detritus out of the darkness. So I duly conveyed our plastic foot-stool from the kitchen to the toilet, sat down and, with my knees under my chin, performed repeated lunges, back and forth, inhaling on the backswing and exhaling on the forward lurch. My panting attracted unwanted attention.

‘Stop that,’ shouted Mrs Jones from the other side of the door, 'you’ll go blind!’

Undeterred, I persisted with my rocking and thrusting for several minutes but, alas, I only succeeded in pissing on the bathroom floor.

My bowel mystery does, however, have a happy ending. I’ve discovered the perfect solution: beer. A minimum of two pints per day of cask ale maintains regularity. Sorted!    

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

The turn-down girl

Last month, Mrs Jones and I escaped to the Scottish city of Edinburgh for a romantic weekend and were fortunate enough to stay in the alien surrounds of a plush, 5-star hotel. On our first full day, we trudged around the famous castle and the National Museum of Scotland before devouring a late lunch swilled down with copious quantities of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. By 4.00 pm, two enthusiastic sight-seers had transformed into chilled, mellow bohemians sitting in a city-centre pub, me nursing a pint of cask ale, Mrs Jones glugging Bulmer’s pear cider from the bottle-neck.

I thought I detected a mischievous sparkle in my wife’s eye so, emboldened by the alcohol, I leaned towards her and said, ‘Shall we go back to the hotel room and …eh … relax?’
‘What do you mean?’ she replied, the smirk on her face divulging that she knew exactly my intention.
I played along with the pretence. ‘I just wondered whether we might slink back to that luxurious room with its king-size bed and indulge in a bit of afternoon delight?’    
‘But I’ve already eaten dessert,’ she said, her laughter indicating that the charade was over.

Even for an intimate partnership spanning in excess of 30 years, there is something excitingly illicit about the prospect of rumpy-pumpy in an unfamiliar hotel room. We were tearing at each other’s clothes before we had crossed the threshold.

Minutes later – I’d like to say hours, but that would be fibbing - Mrs Jones was riding the crest of a wave, in the superior position, with us both accelerating to the point of no return, when there was an intrusive rat-a-tat-tat on the door. We both froze. After a few seconds Mrs Jones dismounted, covered her dignity with the complimentary hotel dressing gown and strode to answer the door, leaving me on my back, hands behind my head, with the smug look so characteristic of a bloke who knows that his manhood will stand to attention for the foreseeable future. Mrs Jones opened the door a few inches, and I listened to their conversation.
‘Would you like me to turn down your bed?’ asked the young hotel maid, in her east-European accent.
‘You’d have more than the bed to turn down if you went in there.’
‘Sorry? I’m here to turn the bed down.’
‘It will go down in its own good time.’
‘Nothing – we’ll be ok thanks; we’ll turn it down ourselves.’

I will never forget the huge grin on my beautiful wife’s face as she shut the door and turned back towards me.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Stop doing all the things you enjoy and you'll feel fine!

No more milk from you
I’d been meaning to do it for two years. And last week I braced my loins, clenched my gluteus maximus and immersed myself in the murky world of allergy testing.

A decade ago, for no apparent reason, I began to suffer with recurrent episodes of malaise, characterised by a runny nose, frog-spawn phlegm and eyes so red you’d think I’d binged on the blood of ten rosy-cheeked virgins. These reactions rarely lasted longer than 30 minutes and did not incapacitate me; they never stopped me completing the day’s schedule, but were an irritant.

I first assumed I had contracted some form of hay fever, but I could detect no seasonal pattern; I am just as likely to be sniffling and chewing gooey spittle in a snowy winter as in the sunny spring. They can also emerge at any time of day.

Recently, a work colleague suggested that I must be allergic to something and recommended that I get myself tested. He gave me the number of an ‘allergy practitioner’ who dispensed her wisdom from the health-food shop in my local town. Curiosity raised, I phoned and arranged a ‘consultation.’

Upon entering the shop it felt like I had stepped into Severus Snape’s apothecary, an elongated, narrow room with shelving to the roof, each crammed with lotions, potions and jars of desiccated seeds. I expected to be confronted by Harry Potter making a hasty retreat with the Veritaserum truth drug secreted under his robes. Instead, I was welcomed by a vivacious lady in her early 40s, with a permanent smile and a level of animation suggestive of amphetamine intoxication.

I had expected to be interviewed in the privacy of a room above the shop, but the allergy practitioner pulled a small, wheeled table into the centre of the floor, adjacent to the shelving, and beckoned me to sit down opposite her, as if we were about to arm-wrestle. My consultation proceeded in the company of the elderly shopkeeper and a gaggle of customers purchasing their weekly fix of multi-vitamins and soya milk.   

‘How are your bowels?’ she asked.
‘OK for the most part; although at times a bit volatile,’ I replied, my voice fading to a whisper as a female customer leaned across me to pick up a jar of Omega 3 + 6.
‘So you fart a lot’ she said. ‘Of course you do – you’re a bloke.’
I considered sharing the empirical evidence that women fart as much as men, but censored myself as two young women entered the shop.

This highly qualified professional asked me to hold a chunky metal electrode in one hand while she pressed a probe onto the middle finger of my other hand. She then proceeded to place, one-by-one, a sequence of vials into my palm, her machine emitting a squeal (like a mouse being castrated) the pitch of which apparently indicated my level of intolerance to the substance therein.

The verdict? What stuff do I allegedly have intolerance to? She could have saved a lot of time, and avoided the electrode jiggery-pokery, by simply asking me to list the things that make life worthwhile: beer, white wine, red wine, bread, cheese, ale, lager, cow’s milk, onions and coffee.

For the love of all that’s holy, if I’d stayed 10 minutes longer I’m sure she would have diagnosed an intolerance of Mrs Jones’ boobies!

Thursday, 14 November 2013

The pinnacle of my writing career!

Two days ago I reached the pinnacle of my writing career. No, not a blockbusting first novel (my sophisticated wit puts me out of reach of the masses). No, not the Man Booker prize (after all, any randomer can win that particular honor). Not even a poet laureate (as I like my ditties rude and rhyming). The wonderful accolade I have achieved (and I’m filling up as I type) is to be nominated for the Liebster Award by my creative blogging friend, Michael Mele – check out his blog at:

Michael proposed 11 profound questions - he should be a philosopher. I share my answers below:

Q1 How do you feel about taking a poop in a public restroom?
I only poop in the Jones' residence, usually in the toilet.

Q2 Have you ever stolen someone's lunch at work?
I wouldn't even consider such a heinous crime; my colleagues were all dirty buggers so I might have contracted some horrendous disease.

Q3 Do you fart in public?
Never when there are ladies around. Not even within earshot of Mrs Jones. I'm a gentleman, you see, like those fine fellows on Downton Abbey.

Q4 Stupidest thing you've ever done while drunk?
Tough one this, as I've not always conducted myself with dignity and decorum when under the influence. I've pissed in my parents' wardrobe (twice) and fell down a cavernous hole in the road - not on the same occasion.

Q5 Have you ever been to jail/prison?
No, absolutely not. I always manage to frame my friends.

Q6 Have you ever turned a pair of underwear inside out just to get another day out of them?
Don't wear any - I go commando.

Q7 Have you ever given a homeless person money just because you felt guilty, then afterwards saw them using it for alcohol and felt like an ass?
No - I never give them any money. I occasionally offer to buy them coffee and a croissant - that usually gets rid of them sharpish.

Q8 Would you rather get caught picking your nose of picking a wedgie?
I engage in neither. As an upstanding, respected, nay revered, member of my community it would be unforgivable.

Q9 Have you ever been in a house full of people who love you, only to feel sad because you didn't get any love on Facebook, Twitter or any other form of social media?
No, you can't miss what you've never had.

Q10 Have you ever voted for a president really expecting things to change for the better?
Yes, over 40 years ago when I still believed in Father Christmas.

Q11 When is the last time you wanted to punch somebody?
Never, I'm a man of peace. And besides, I could never have retained my stunning good looks going around punching people - after all, they'd hit me back twice as hard as my lame swipe.

Now for my 11 questions - and remember, you must be 100% honest, just like me??

Q1 How often do you go overboard with positive comments on someone's blog while thinking, in truth, it was a load of crap?

Q2 White wine or red?

Q3 Do you ever think, 'I'm writing comments on this blog on a regular basis and she's giving nothing back?'

Q4 If you could, which bit of your body would you exchange for something better?

Q5 Whisky or brandy?

Q6 When you reflect on your past life, do you ever wish you had slept with a few more people? (or is that just me??)

Q7 Which nationality of men/women do you find the most attractive?

Q8 How similar to your father /mother have you already become?

Q9 Dark chocolate or milk chocolate?

Q10 What's the most unusual/surprising thing you've ever found languishing in a body crevice?

Q11 If you could change one thing about your partner what would it be?

I'm now required to nominate bloggers to respond to my questions. The talented bunch I've opted for is as follows:

Can I Another Bottle of Whine with my morning quiet time?

Chiz Chat

Jimmy's Opinion

laughing my abs off

Nest Expressed

Penwasser Place

Speaking up for the Underdog

Chubby Chatterbox.

Happy blogging.

Bryan Jones

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

A miserable bastard

I sit at a table in the corner of the room, striving to appear as if I’m having an enjoyable evening. It is a 50th birthday party in the function room of a local sports’ club. At 55, I’m one of the older ‘revellers’. Mrs Jones is standing on the dance-floor, engaged in animated conversation with the work colleague who is celebrating her half century. There is only a trickle of patrons at the bar; people of our age can no longer imbibe alcohol in the quantities of old.

I gaze into the flimsy froth of the pint of beer in front of me and ponder on the past parties I’ve attended. The house party at 15 years old, brimming with cheap cider and vomit; sexual experimentation and tears; fights and consequent police involvement; and culminating in the wrath of the host’s parents who return to find unconscious teenagers scattered amongst the debris and (on one memorable occasion) muddy foot-prints on the Artexed living-room ceiling.

A smirk encroaches onto my face as my mind drifts to the late 1970s and those 21st -birthday celebrations. Key of the door? At the time it seemed like I had the key to everything: an exciting career; the meaning of life; and, most importantly, the one that unlocked the sexual vaults of the stunning young ladies who always seemed to be in the vicinity – although, on reflection, the last one might have been more aspiration than reality.    
I dredge my mind for a 30th party recollection, but fail to find one; my contemporaries and I were all too occupied raising toddlers and trying to earn sufficient cash to feed our families and pay the nursery fees.  

I remember my 40th birthday party though, on the dance-floor with a few of my old school mates, jumping around to the thump of the Rolling Stones, trying in vain to recapture that spark from 20 years before; a gaggle of sad, middle-aged men.

And now I’m an older participant at a 50th. I raise my head from the beer froth and scan my fellow party-goers: men with grey, receding hair and beer-bellies, one of the more inebriated jiving with his wife on the dance-floor; heavy-busted women, trussed into under-sized dresses, with a swathe of overhanging flesh pushing against the zip at the back, seeking liberation; and a sprinkling of the younger generation, who have appeased their parents by making an appearance at the birthday celebration before moving on for some serious partying in the night clubs.

But not to worry, it is 11.00 pm and the convoy of taxis will be arriving in 30 minutes to return us all home before we fall asleep and risk dribbling over the furnishings.
My head droops again, and I mutter Leonard Cohen lyrics for consolation.
 The rain falls down on last year's man,
an hour has gone by
and he has not moved his hand.
But the skylight is like skin for a drum I'll never mend
and all the rain falls down amen
on the works of last year's man.

At this point Mrs Jones returns, sits next to me, squeezes my hand and smiles. Instantly, I recognise that I’m being a miserable bastard, and lousy company. What justification do I have for being morose? I’ve recently taken early retirement, leaving with a generous pension that means I will never again have any financial worries. I’ll no more have to endure restless nights worrying about work, nor the frustrations of the morning rush-hour. Mrs Jones and I are both in good health and will, from now on, be going on vacation three times each year; when not on foreign turf we will frequently be found hiking in the stunning Lancashire countryside.

And do I really want to be young again? On the basis of a 32 year partnership with Mrs Jones, I’m confident I will never again suffer the humiliation of being abandoned and betrayed by girlfriends. No more acne agonies. Nor will I worry about my sexual performance, for if the dough fails to rise on the next occasion it is not disastrous – we are involved in a marathon not a sprint.

Life is good.

I kiss my beautiful wife and, hand-in-hand, we head to the dance floor for a smooch (before the taxi arrives).      

Thursday, 3 October 2013

A job well done

My eyes stray from the re-run of Friends on the television and fix upon my 22-year-old son sitting opposite me. Ryan is oblivious of my attention as he smiles at Joey Tribbiani’s inane ramblings. Over six-feet tall with a face chiselled like a sculpture of a Roman gladiator, I recognise why my eldest’s company is regularly sought by the young women in the locality. Quick-witted and bright, Ryan can find humor in most situations and, as his middle-aged dad, I often find myself the target of his quips. I reflect on how stubborn and argumentative he can be, and his low threshold for anger that, when activated, propels him into a volcanic eruption, molten lava singeing anyone within a 50-metre radius. But despite these foibles, he is an honest lad with a strong work ethic. Since leaving school at 17 he has not had a day off work, nor has he brought the police to our door. “He’s my son,” I think to myself, “and I’m so proud of him”.

My eyes shift to Becca, my 19-year-old daughter, sitting to my right on the sofa. She too is unaware of my gaze as she escapes into the world of Rachel Green, smiling and pouting in unison with the sitcom star. I recall hearing how, on her recent holiday in Gran Canaria, Becca and her friend stumbled upon a 17-year-old boy lying unconscious on the pavement, surrounded by pools of his own vomit. It was early evening and the resort was busy, but people were avoiding him, acting as if he wasn’t there. But my girl stopped to help. After 20 minutes of striving to extract sense out of the drunken youth, she was able to ring the lad’s granddad to come and collect him. Knowing the youth’s guardian was en route, Becca and her friend made to leave until the disorientated young man pleaded, “Please don’t leave me”. So Becca stayed with him until granddad arrived; the old man offered her money for her kindness (which she declined) and his parting comment was, “I hope he eventually marries a nice girl like you”. I inhale and my chest expands like a peacock’s plumage. I think to myself, “That’s my girl; beautiful inside and out”.

I become aware of being watched, and turn to my left to see Mrs Jones smiling at me. It is rare these days for me and Mrs Jones to have both of our progeny with us in the same room. After 32 years together, telepathy between us is commonplace. At this instant in time she knows precisely what I’m thinking. While our children remain oblivious to our attentions, Mrs Jones lip-syncs the words, “A job well done”.     

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

I'm a pervert!

Tomorrow I return to the outpatient department of my local hospital, a follow-up to my operation four months ago when I had my two most prominent hemorrhoids surgically removed. In anticipation of further fumbling around my rear exit, I ponder as to the gender of the examining doctor I would prefer. Don’t judge me, but I hope the physician pulling on the latex gloves at noon tomorrow is a female.

I got to thinking why this was so. Even a vain fellow like me is under no illusion that my bare arse is anything other than grotesque; my 54-year-old buttocks, each carpeted in a generous layer of fur, will not kindle the juices of the most desperate of spinsters. And unless the probing she-doctor gets off on humiliating males, the procedure is not going to enhance my sexual appeal.

All the women I’ve heard express views have emphatically preferred a female doctor when it comes to intimate medical examinations. As for me, I feel more exposed and vulnerable when a male is hovering around my gaping butt. Perhaps I’ve watched the movie Deliverance too many times and now harbour an irrational fear of being buggered. Or maybe it’s some primitive comfort from being close to a motherly female when I’m exposed and vulnerable. Either way, perchance all men might share my preference for female doctors when the area of interest is our private bits?

I decide to conduct a bit of intra-family research.
“I wouldn’t want some bint gawping at my arse-hole,” says my 22-year-old son when asked to express his opinion. So my “all men will agree with me” hypothesis is crushed in an instant.

Unperturbed, I wonder if it might be an age thing and that older males might concur. I ask my 82-year-old father, a veteran recipient of rectal examinations having suffered with bowel cancer six years ago.
“I’d want a male doctor every time” he says.
“I wouldn’t,” I reply, “I’d prefer a female.”
“Because men have a finger like the trunk of a redwood tree” I lie.
“But women have long, scratchy finger-nails” he says.
I have no answer to that succinct piece of logic.

So there is only one conclusion I can draw about my predilection
 for feminine rectal explorers: I’m a pervert.            

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

A sweaty Englishman

Ten years ago on a Spanish holiday, after several hours lying on a lounger under the fierce Mediterranean sun, it seemed timely to replenish my bottled water supplies. Clad only in boxer shorts and well worn flip-flops, and deploying my metronomic, energy efficient, stride pattern (head down, elbows out, short steps, shuffling gait), I soon arrived at the entrance to the small, local supermarket.

Aware of the lack of air-conditioning in this establishment, I darted towards the drinks section and soon located the hefty multi-pack of eight 1-litre bottles of water. As I headed for the check out, the stifling heat impacted upon my senses, distorting my vision and producing a soft whistling sound in my ears. Mercifully, the queue at check out was short.

The supermarket owner’s decision to bake their own baguettes in-house no doubt seemed like a winner at the time. The smell of freshly made bread at the check out was clearly meant to entice customers into an additional purchase. Presumably not considered was the impact of having a large, working stainless-steel oven positioned next to the cash till and within touching distance of shoppers waiting to pay for their goods in a non air-conditioned premise in southern Spain.

While standing in the queue, with my 8-pack clasped under my arm, the polythene wrapping accelerated my rate of perspiration. Sweat flowed in rivulets through clumps of grey chest hair and, upon reaching the imposing gut region, combined with viscous slithers of Ambre Solaire to form an alluring milk-like substance. Further south more watery, faster moving trickles could be detected as they intermittently darted into my darker recesses. Meanwhile, my already sun-charred skin was being braised by the heat from the oven.

Worse still, the queue at the check out did not seem to be moving. The obstruction was another Englishman, his two children by his side, unloading the numerous contents of his trolley. Clearly one of the few holiday-makers for whom the renting of an apartment really did mean self-catering, he was completing his weekly shop. Pale skinned and all three clad in white t-shirts and matching peaked caps, it was evident that they had sensibly evaded the sun for the duration of their stay. As his last item (a box of bran-flakes) was registered by the senorita at the cash till, there was an audible ripple of relief from the fleshy, and increasingly sweaty, masses queuing behind him.

Relief reverted to dismay when dad turned to his children and asked, “Don’t those baguettes smell lovely; shall we get some for our tea Benjamin?” Recognising that it is good parenting to actively involve one’s offspring in the decision making process, he followed up with, "Should we get four large ones or half a dozen of the small?”

Expectantly, the senorita had by this time opened the hefty oven door and, with metal tongs at the ready, was awaiting further instruction. Consequently, a wall of hot air assaulted my senses. My fluid loss was such that, despite having eight litres clasped in my hand, I was in danger of experiencing a net loss since stepping over the threshold. Feeling on the point of collapse, my poached brain tried to fathom whether it would be less embarrassing to collapse there on the floor at the feet of Mr. Sensible or to stagger to the exit and fall at the roadside. Vivid kaleidoscopic images intruded of my falling somewhere between the two options, pulling over the rack of inflatable pool accessories on the way down, and lying helplessly on my back in an oily puddle surrounded by stray flip-flops and a blow-up Dalmatian.

Movement of the queue returned my attention to the present. Baguettes finally dispensed, I quickly paid for my water and escaped onto the street outside and into the relative cool of the direct Spanish sunlight. Numbness radiated along my right arm, under which was firmly embedded my plastic coated 8-pack which by now felt as if it had fused into my skin and muscle. I squatted for a few moments in an effort to restore my usual poise, pedestrians having to swerve to avoid me.

Balance soon restored, I stood up and (with head down, elbows out, short steps, shuffling gait) set off on the return journey to my apartment complex. Having stored the bottled water in my fridge, and with paperback in hand, I returned to my poolside sun lounger.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Stripping with dignity

Standing on the stage in front of 200 spectators, clad only in off-white Jockeys, I emitted a random combination of gasps and screeches in an effort to mimic a prolonged orgasm.

It was 2003 and we were holidaying in Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands. Mrs Jones and I had met Jim and June, a fun-loving couple from London, who were staying at the same hotel. In the evenings we socialized together and, on this particular night, we had opted for a social club hosting live entertainment. The star turn had been advertised on the billboard outside as a “whacky comedienne.” Our London friends had insisted we occupy a table next to the stage so as to ensure an unimpeded view.

The support act, a country-and-western singer, had delivered some Kenny Rogers’ classics and the evening was going well. A niggling doubt that a down-turn in the proceedings was imminent first arose when the comedienne appeared on the stage; in her late forties, with multiple tattoos on her arms and rings the size of a juggernaut’s wheels swinging from her nostrils, her opening line was, “I fucking hate men, so tonight I’m going to humiliate the bastards.”        

After assaulting her audience with a torrent of crude anecdotes about the sexual inadequacies of males, she asked for six men to get up on the stage to participate in an “exciting competition.” This was my cue to slip off to buy a round of drinks. I was in no rush to be served and monitored developments on stage from the sanctuary of the bar. A couple of bold young men had strode forward and were now standing on the stage alongside my friend Jim, who had acquiesced to his wife’s encouragement. I loitered at the bar as three more victims were cajoled and harassed into submission. With six men now on stage, I deemed it safe to return to my table with the drinks.

As I sat down, the she-wolf screeched, “I’ve changed my mind, as is a lady’s prerogative. Let’s have seven of the tossers up here on stage.”

I crouched behind Mrs Jones in an effort to avoid detection, and believed I had succeeded, until June stood up, pointed at me (almost on the floor on hands and knees by this point) and yelled, “Bryan, Bryan, Bryan, Bryan.” The comedienne marched towards me, grabbed my wrist and yanked me onto the stage. Pathetically, I did not resist; she had the appearance of someone with an extensive forensic history.

With seven men now captured on the stage, the games commenced. Who could do the best penguin impression – I thought my waddle was rather impressive. Our comedienne (and master), now armed with a cane, ordered us all to strip to our underpants as quickly as possible, and threatened that the slowest to do so would receive 10 lashes across the buttocks. Hence, there I was, on stage in just my Jockeys. The silliness continued with a competition to make the most authentic orgasmic sound. After six, prolonged exclamations of panting and gasping, a Swedish man at the end of the line won the contest with a monosyllabic, “Oo!”

And then the finale. We were directed to replicate the iconic scene from the film, The Full Monty, depicting the tale of how a group of British, unemployed steel-workers form a male striptease act. By this point I was getting into role. As the seven of us turned our backs to the baying audience, and the song "You can leave your hat on" blasted from the speakers, my 45-year-old hips were thrusting and gyrating as if the lower half of my body was in the throws of an epileptic seizure, sending the female onlookers into a frenzy of desire. (I still refuse to believe that their reactions were more to do with the two 20-something beefcakes dancing alongside me). Off came our undies, revealing seven bare arses. As we swung our briefs above our heads, we turned to face the baying mob; I shielded my genitals with my hand, while my more brazen compatriots revealed everything.

leotasjane1 CC-BY, via flicr

Later that evening, when we returned to our hotel, Mrs Jones told me how dignified I had been while on stage. In particular, she was so proud of me for showing modesty in not fully exposing myself in the final scene. My humility had impressed her. What she didn’t know was that, if I had been blessed with nob the size of a baboon’s, I would have been swinging it above my head like a cowboy’s lasso.              

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Greece, without the kids

We realized we’d landed in Greece when we were denied egress from the plane for 15 minutes; the captain informed us that the ground-staff at Preveza Airport had fetched steps that were too short to reach the exit door. Five minutes after our release, the comatosed Greek passport-control man beckoned us through with a waft of his hand.

I love Greece. The standard of amenities might be inferior to the rest of Europe, it has the efficiency of an unlagged water boiler, the local wines taste like cat’s piss, and its sewage system is so feeble that you can’t flush paper down the toilet but have to plop it into a pedal-bin (not great when you’ve had the Mythos and Mousakka combination the night before). But none of this matters. The pace of life is soothingly slow and the Greek people ooze a warmth that is only surpassed by the unrelenting rays of the Mediterranean sun.

Mrs Jones and I had holidayed in Greece five times before, but this was the first time without our two children, who are both now young adults. As we journeyed on the coach to our hotel, we relished the prospect of the freedom to do whatever we wanted, liberated from the constraints of supervising our offspring.

“At last we can truly relax on our sun-beds without constantly checking whether the kids are drowning in the pool,” Mrs Jones said, as she rested her head on my shoulder.”

“Yeah,” I said, “no more worries about their play upsetting our fellow holiday-makers.”

“No more having to drag the kids away from their new friends each evening to come and dine with us in a restaurant,” said Mrs Jones.

“And then having to endure their faces, resembling smacked arses, across the table as they sulked and moaned all night,” I said. Yes this was going to be a fantastic, adults only, flop-and –drop holiday.

But then I started to see things. In the restaurant on the second night of the holiday, my gaze was drawn to a family at the neighbouring table with a baseball-capped son who looked disturbingly similar to a 9-year-old version of Ryan, my first-born. While on the beach the next day, I spotted a 5-year-old blonde girl, in her first bikini, scuttling out of the sea and excitedly asking her father if she could have an ice-cream – how many times had my own daughter, Becca, extracted Euros from her doting dad for the same purpose?  

Reminders of what I had lost recurred throughout the holiday: kids asking for chicken-nuggets in the local tavernas; kids looking miserable at the meal table at being denied time from their play to engage in something as tedious as eating with their parents; over-tired kids howling in the sunset, sleep-deprived and cranky; and kids perched on their fathers’ shoulders meandering through the resort.

Although we enjoyed our Greek, adults-only, fortnight, Mrs Jones and I repeatedly engaged in watery-eyed reminiscence about previous holidays with our son and daughter. I realize now that we were mourning the ending of this most vibrant phase of family life, the chapter entitled, “taking our children on vacation.”     

On a lighter note, throughput our stay in Greece I was told that my physical appearance strongly resembled a senior Greek politician named Romilos Kedikoglou. Given the current economic crisis ravaging the country, I feared for my well-being, but I was reassured that I would be at no risk of a sniper’s bullet as long as I stayed away from Athens. When I spotted Romilus on Greek television it was like looking in a mirror. I have since discovered that that he is 73 years old, almost 20 years my senior. Either he is wearing very well, or I am decrepit; I fear it is the latter.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

A rude awakening

Andreas Bacchus, CC-BY, via flicr

“I know this is kind of awkward, but I’ve yearned for you since the moment we first met” she said.

Melissa had followed me into my office and shut the door. We had been working late and there was no one else in the department. She stroked her lower lip with her forefinger, as if checking it was still there. I expected her to laugh and tell me it was all a prank. But she didn’t. Motionless, I gaped at her.   

“I’m f-f-flattered, but I’m a married …” My voice trailed off. I was stunned. Melissa was in her early thirties, at least twenty years my junior, and the most appealing girl in the department, oozing sexuality from every pore.

Her hazel-brown eyes locked onto mine. “I need you” she whispered. Her breathing quickened. “I need you now.”

Her hand moved from her mouth to her neck. I could see her swollen nipples through the flimsy fabric of her white top; she was not wearing a bra. Without taking her eyes from mine, she slowly undid the buttons of her blouse, slipped it from her shoulders and dropped it on the floor, releasing her firm, pendulous breasts. She approached me and slipped her hands around my waist, backing me against the office desk. She nuzzled her head into my neck and I felt the moistness of her lips. Her ebony hair caressed my cheek and her fragrance stirred me. Her hands slipped into the back of my pants and she held my buttocks, pulling me against her hips. Her grip tightened and her finger-nails burrowed into my butt-cheeks. I moaned with pleasure. Her grip tightened further; I gasped in astonishment at the urgency of her need. Her talons sliced through my skin causing me excruciating pain. I could feel rivulets of blood trickling down the back of my thighs. I screamed.         

“Bryan, Bryan; can you here me?”

I opened my eyes. An Asian fellow in a blue tunic, with a moustache and hairy arms, was gently tapping my face. As I regained consciousness, I registered a stinging pain from the cavernous depths of my arse.

“One hemorrhoid removed” continued the junior surgeon “and two successfully banded.”

“Right,” I mumbled, “Thanks.”

Prostrated on a bed clad only in a surgical gown, I recalled the events of the day. My arrival at the hospital after six-hours of prescribed starvation. Suffering the indignity of an enema delivered by a student nurse young enough to be my daughter (“hold it in for 10 minutes” she’d said – yeah, dream on!). And removing my chic pink underpants and Velcro-slippers and placing them under the surgical trolley prior to being transported to the operating theatre. 

phallin, CC-BY, via flickr
Later, while recuperating in the recovery ward, nibbling my corn-beef sandwich and sipping tea, I reflected on events in the operating theatre. What contortions did they put my body through so as to get me in a position to assault my hemorrhoids? I was lying on my back on a trolley when they injected the general anaesthetic so they must have moved me while I was in a coma. Did they turn and splay me over a bench, in a position not dissimilar to one, I imagine, commonly encountered by inmates in a Turkish prison? Or did they leave me on my back and place my legs in straps (as per gynaecological examination) before hoisting my butt into the air; if so, they would have required a mechanical winch to get my sagging bollocks out of the way of the operation site. 

And what about Melissa? Throughout the surgical procedure I would have been surrounded by a clutch of theatre staff. Were there any clues as to my fantastical muses while under the anesthetic? Did I get up close and personal with the dude with hairy arms? Were there any obvious signs of arousal? Come to think of it, the theatre nurse did smirk as she pushed my trolley all the way back to the recovery ward … …    

Monday, 6 May 2013

The peril of smooth muscle

I’m tormented. An orchestrated campaign is underway to cause me misery and embarrassment. As I descend into middle-age (and beyond) a group of living entities, all with a similar form, is waging systematic assaults upon my body.

And who is responsible for this crusade of terror? An inner-city gang of hoodlums? A plague of norovirus? A pack of rabid dogs? No, none of these, it’s something much more terrifying that’s collectively known as smooth muscle.

Smooth muscle is found in various parts of the body including the gut, windpipe, bladder and blood vessels. Unlike most of our muscles which are under voluntary control (those in our arms and legs for example) smooth muscle does its work automatically. While we can choose when to move our limbs, smooth muscle operates outside of our conscious control.

It’s as if smooth muscle has a mind of its own. It can also be sensitive to our focus of attention; concentrate on a bodily function that is mediated by smooth muscle and that function can change, often in ways we wouldn’t have wished for. This combination, involuntary activation and sensitivity to attention, can be an incendiary mix. Let me illustrate:

  1. As I get older I worry more about my health. My hypochondriacal mind occasionally senses that my gullet might be narrowing and that a blockage is imminent, thereby putting me at risk of an agonizing death. Striving to reassure myself that the tube is open, I focus on my throat and repeatedly attempt to swallow saliva. By third or fourth gulp paralysis sets in – try it if you doubt me – thus confirming my initial fear.

  1. A formal meeting at work and a lag in the discussion. The silence is shattered when my stomach and intestine spring into action sounding like the brass section of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the elongated growl of a tuba along with the staccato of the trumpet section. Colleagues eye me suspiciously; I pat my stomach to reassure them about the source of the interruption.

  1. Sometimes the culprit resides further along the alimentary canal. Last week, while in the frozen food section of the local supermarket, I bent over to pick up some battered fish when my anal sphincter released a blast that sounded like a container-ship’s fog-horn; I give the old lady next to me an accusing stare, and ambled away.

  1. Smooth muscle is involved in the expansion (and constriction) of blood vessels, a process that is responsible for the most vital of all male functions: the development and maintenance of an erection. And this is where smooth muscle’s behaviour is at its most fiendish. Home alone watching old episodes of Baywatch, titanium-plated steel; throes of passion with Mrs Jones, molten putty.     

  1. In a public toilet, standing at the urinal and about to pee. Another bloke enters and immediately starts to pound the porcelain with a powerful stream of urine. My hose has yet to start squirting. I begin to mind-read; standing here in a public place with my todger exposed, but not peeing, what will he be thinking? Will he conclude I’m a homosexual, seeking sexual favours? Or will he label me as a pathetic flasher, exposing my genitals for thrills? I urge myself to pee, but nothing happens. The more self-conscious I become, the longer it takes to pee.           

Smooth muscle is a menace, an ever-present threat to the well-being of an aging man. You have been warned.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Cream or scream?

© Niderlander  Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

© Prometeus  Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

When my alarm clock screeched at 6.30 am the first sensation I noticed was the stinging of my piles (or hemorrhoids as they are more technically known). My second  realization was the awareness of my appointment today at the Colorectal Department of the local hospital to have my bulbous buddies investigated.

Hemorrhoids have stung the backsides of many generations of Jones. Like a clutch of cherries growing towards the light, they sting or leak, always one or the other, never both together. My arse alternates between sore and menstruating.

I spent 30 minutes in the shower this morning, 25 of which was devoted to spring-cleaning the area in question; if guests were going to spend time in the back-room it needed to be spic-and-span, as one must create the right impression, mustn’t one?

Upon arriving at the hospital’s General Outpatients’ Department, and showing the receptionist my official appointment letter, I was directed to waiting area 3 (not 1 or 2) and I wondered whether this symbolic niche, deep in the hospital labyrinth, was reserved for colorectal cases. While sitting in the waiting room I observed my fellow patients and tried to spot those with a similar affliction. A lady opposite had a continuous half-grimace and seemed a good bet, particularly as she shuffled from buttock to buttock in her seat. I was distracted from my game of “spot the hemorrhoid” by squawks of female laughter emanating from a nearby nurses’ station; I wondered if they were ridiculing the sight of the last patient’s butt.

Forty minutes after my appointment time my name was called and I was escorted to the clinic room by a nurse and asked to sit on the bed to await the doctor. Mr Evans, the consultant surgeon, entered accompanied by a young female medical student. Following a brief interrogation about my bowel habits and pain history, I was lying on the bed with my trousers and boxer-shorts around my ankles. As I laid there staring at the wall, the consultant probed and prodded my gaping arse - why do they always have chunky fingers? While doing so he conducted a tutorial with his student.

“Come and look at this; a big hemorrhoid on the outside and two more inside.”

I heard the female student approach for a closer look into my back passage. “Oh yes, I can see them” she said. I thought I could feel their breath on my buttocks. And I’m sure I heard an echo.

“So what’s the appropriate treatment?” he asked.

“I guess he could try applying a steroid cream …”

“You could if you wanted to caress the hemorrhoid and watch it grow,” he said. They both giggled; he was flirting with her with his finger up my arse.

“We could band them?” she said.

“If we tried to band this one on the outside” – wiggling it like a nipple to demonstrate – “he’d empty the ward with his screaming. No, this one we will have to lop off.”

So surgery it is, a day-case under general anaesthetic. I will be sent for within the next four to six weeks.

I dressed and left the clinic room. Walking back through the other patients in waiting area 3, I suspected that my gait might have resembled that of a bloke who had soiled himself. I was conscious of their eyes on me. Were they wondering what indignity I had undergone? I resisted the temptation to scream, “You’re buggered if you go in there!” and instead hurried for the exit.    


Saturday, 23 March 2013

A Dalmatian assault

Tito, my Dalmatian dog, had been agitating for his walk. It was a frozen February afternoon and the roads and pavements were encrusted with ice, the previous week’s snow compressed by foot-fall into an undulating glacier.

A sane option would have been to limit the walk to the end of the road, a five minute jaunt on a flat, non-hazardous track. But no, my dog had abundant energy and my boots had rugged soles so I opted for the usual two-mile circuit. The inevitable happened on a downward slope by the nearby woods. The fall was spectacular; my front foot sped out from under me, my other foot (in trying to compensate) followed suit, propelling me into the air where I seemed to hover parallel to the ground before crash-landing on my back with a sickening thud.

Despite the acute pain radiating from my arse, my foremost anxiety was whether my plummet had been witnessed. As I gingerly lifted myself into a sitting position my humiliation was confirmed, a party of four adults and twice as many children were walking up the slope towards me, concern etched on their faces. I raised my hand to signal I was unharmed. At this moment 70 pounds of excitable Dalmatian leaped over my shoulders, his dangly bits coming to rest against the nape of my neck. Temporally marooned in this straddle position, Tito panicked and instinctively humped the back of my head as if I was a bitch on heat.

I still wonder how those parents explained Tito’s behavior to their offspring.

Tito wearing his football team's colors.
Rest in peace, my beautiful hound

I am participating in the Dude Write Starting Lineup this week where you can find some excellent posts by bloggers who happen to be dudes:



Saturday, 9 March 2013

The revenge of Mrs Jones

My wife is not a vindictive woman. Well, not usually. But a recent purchase of a toilet-seat allowed Mrs Jones to take retribution for 30 years of frustration.

Throughout our time together she has asked me to put the toilet seat down after I've had a pee. Although I suspect that millions of women across the planet urge their men to perform this simple act, I’ve never been able to understand why. After all, I’m thoughtful enough to always lift the seat before peeing so as to avoid splashes that would condemn Mrs Jones to a wet butt when she uses the loo. So why am I expected to put it down again when I’ve finished? Is it something to do with aesthetics, the bathroom being more pleasing on the eye for future visitors? Or is it because they feel contaminated if they have to touch the toilet seat prior to squatting? The underlying motivation behind her insistence on this piece of lavatory etiquette remains a mystery to me, like multiple other aspects of the female psyche.

After my three decades of non-compliance Mrs Jones has hit back. Last month she bought a new, black-and-white cowhide patterned toilet-seat for our downstairs loo. As I am to D.I.Y. what North Korea is to nuclear disarmament, my wife does all the practical jobs around the house. So, true to form, Mrs Jones fitted the toilet-seat. But an additional tweak of the screwdriver or a calculating twist of the pliers rendered the seat incapable of remaining upright; lift the seat into the vertical position and it totters, like a neurotic on the edge of a high-diving board, before crashing down with a dull thud.   

A toilet seat that refuses to stay up presents a conundrum to the peeing male. What approach can be used to channel the stream of urine into the bowl? When faced with this frustration my initial intention was to just piss all over the seat to punish Mrs Jones for her sloppy joinery. But then my self-preservation instinct kicked-in and I quashed that idea.

So what options remained in my attempt to pee through the contracted hole of a seat-down toilet? Well, I could have sat down to urinate like a girlie, the equivalent of Mrs Jones having castrated me, but that would have been conceding defeat. So I tried holding the seat up with my right hand while directing the hose-pipe with my left only to discover that the complex maneuvres of finding, releasing and aiming were too much to execute single-handed, particular when wearing tight underpants devoid of a fly-hole and requiring one to hold down the elasticated waist-band – males will understand the considerable dexterity required to achieve this mission without pissing down your trouser leg.

Creativity was required to overcome this challenge. Next I straddled the toilet bowl, one foot at either side, bent my knees and pushed my willy downwards into a perpendicular position as if operating a pneumatic drill on roadside concrete. Although not the most edifying sight for casual onlookers, this macho straddle-pose seemed to have solved the problem; that is until my knee-ligaments began to give way.

But then success! Seven days of practice at leaning forward without putting my hands on the toilet-cistern, thereby freeing them up for todger-management, enabled me to consistently hit the target while maintaining my masculinity. Picture the Winter Olympics 2010 in Vancouver, and the poise of the ski-jumper in mid-flight, tilting at an angle of 45 degrees, and you will replicate the image of me doing what comes naturally in our downstairs toilet in Lancashire, England.

I am participating in the Dude Write Starting Lineup this week where you can find some excellent posts by bloggers who happen to be dudes:


Tuesday, 5 February 2013

My baby leaves home

“Are you ready love; have you got all your stuff?” I asked from the foot of the stairs.

A beautiful young woman, my 18-year-old daughter Becca, bounded down the steps, a small suitcase in one hand and a black plastic bag full of soft toys and books in the other. “Yes dad, but let me say goodbye to mum.”

I took her luggage and placed it in the boot of my car. When I returned to the hallway Mrs Jones had Becca in a bear-hug, both tearful, grasping at each other.

“Look after yourself sweetie,” blubbered my wife, surfacing from the embrace and holding Becca at arm’s length, as if to glimpse her for one last time.

“I will mum” said my tearful daughter.

“What are you two like?” I said, “Anyone would think she’s emigrating to Australia, rather than nipping down the M62 to Liverpool University! Get a grip; she’ll be home in a couple of weeks.”

During the one-hour drive few words were spoken. Despite my efforts not to, every few minutes I glanced to my left at Becca, in the passenger seat, listening to her iPod. I smiled, smug in the knowledge that the cute, compassionate lady at my side was mine. As I pondered how a flawed, hairy fellow like me could have reared such perfection, a warm tingle caressed my neck and shoulders, causing me to sit taller in the driving seat.

When we arrived at the university accommodation, I carried her bags to her room. Once inside, I tried to make myself useful; straightening the duvet, wiping the sink and picking imaginary specs off the carpet. I sensed eyes on me and I turned to see Becca grinning at my delaying tactics.

“Just go dad; mum will be wondering where you are.”

I opened my arms wide and Becca walked into them. I held on to her like a drowning man clinging to flotsam. I put my hands on either side of her head, tilted it forward and snorted her crown. Ah a musty scent to kindle so many memories: lifting a new-born bundle from the midwife’s arms; the infant in a pink baby-grow lying asleep, warm and clammy, across my chest; and the distressed toddler who, forgetting she had taken off her inflatable wings, had plunged into the deep end of a Spanish swimming pool and was telling me, while water dripped off her nose, “I wen tunder daddy, I wen tunder.”

And now I had to abandon her to fend for herself in a big city. I noticed my pollen allergy was flaring so I kissed her cheek, turned and carried on walking to my car without looking back. 

I am participating in the Dude Write Starting Lineup this week where you can find some excellent posts by bloggers who happen to be dudes:



Saturday, 12 January 2013

Bye-bye beer-belly

On Christmas morning I discovered an extraordinary slimming aid. It will inspire all rotund, middle-aged men to pursue an ambitious weight loss program and, as it will achieve a 100% success rate, it will earn me millions of dollars. 

For at least a decade I have known I’m a tad on the portly side. My trouser size is 36-inch waist. Forty years of guzzling fine ale has inflated my mid-riff. Last year, when I attended my doctor’s surgery for my over-50s health check, the practice-nurse announced that my 15-stone bulk put me on the cusp of the official obese range; to achieve a healthy weight required the loss of 50 pounds. My 22-year-old son has constantly sniped about my lack of fitness and how I hold my belly in at social events, especially when I’m trying to impress the ladies – “breathe out dad,” he taunts as he passes me at family parties.

Prior to the 25th December 2012, none of these reminders of being over-weight had instilled any motivation to embark on a reducing regime. I have continued to eat what I want and avoid all exercise. But all this changed within 15 minutes of opening the Christmas present from my 18-year old daughter.

Becca had bought me a “onesie.” For anyone not familiar with a onesie, it is a one-piece hooded garment that zips up the front, usually worn as cozy night-attire. Becca has one and looks really good in hers. She insisted I try mine on and then proceeded to take pictures.         


Since 11.00 am on Christmas Day morning I have resisted spooning sugar into my tea and coffee, eliminated French-fries from my diet and endure a daily dose of press-ups and leg-lifts. I have reduced my beer intake (apart from the 10 pints on New Year’s Eve, but hey, that’s tradition). Even more worthy of note is that, since the turn of the year, three times per week at 6.00 am (when few people can see me), I jog the streets of my neighborhood.

I’ve already patented the “onesie and photo” combination as a phenomenal motivational aid for over-weight, middle-aged men and await the surge in my personal fortune.     

I am participating in the Dude Write Starting Lineup this week where you can find some excellent posts by bloggers who happen to be dudes:


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