A to Z of Things that Depress Me

I’ll return to Nantwich in the coming days but I’m currently in beautiful North Wales, stealth-camping, full of wine (for it is Saturday) good food, and grinning like the Cheshire Cat.  A few posts ago I promised another A to Z, this time of things that depress, annoy, irritate or simply piss me off.  It sometimes does me good to think of things that are bad, and it’s good that this is making me laugh already.  Without further ado then, here’s my less than definitive A to Z:

A – Anti-social behaviour.  People who want to fight the world and ruin a good night for everyone because they can’t hold their ale and they have tiny penises.  I could’ve labelled this one simply “Arseholes”.

B – Bullies.  Lots of these bastards in the work environment, especially TV.  Their bullying is mostly borne out of jealousy, insecurity and knowledge that they’re not as good as you.

C – 1   Cruelty.  I’ve seen the worst of this, whereby some religion or cult or faith or whatever results in a vulnerable war-torn eight-year-old having to look after her siblings because her parents have been slain.  But cruelty comes in all sorts of guises and just ought to be stopped.

2   Coldsores.  They make you feel dirty and ugly.

3   Coathangers.  They never behave the way you fucking want them to.

D – 1   Dog-owners.  Not all of them, just the ones who think that everyone loves their dog.  The same can be said of parents and children.

2   Depression.  My dog is black.

E – Easter.  Not in the religious sense, in the journalistic sense.  At this time you always get copy saying things like “there’s an egg-stravaganza this Easter in Ipswich (or wherever)”.  It’s just tired reportage and typical not just of local press (see J – Journalism).

F – 1   Fat fuckers in football shirts (usually Manchester Utd).  They don’t look capable of even kicking a ball without suffering a heart-attack.

2   The Flex on the iron.  Like coathangers, they never behave and are actually dangerous.

G – Gastropubs.  Load of pretentious, over-priced bullshit.

H – 1   HS2.  Why on earth they want to rip up more of our beautiful countryside so we can be in London ten minutes quicker is beyond comprehension.

2   Hayfever.  Blighted my life and stopped me from enjoying the Summer (see O – Optrex).

I – Ignorance.  There are millions of ignorant fuckers who just seem to get on.

J – 1   Jumped-up people with no talent or intelligence except to know who to shag.

2   Journalism.  OK my name is Mark Bickerton and I was once Story Editor on Coronation Street.  I did an interview once for a broadsheet and they said I was Malc Bickerstaffe, Script-Editor of Emmerdale.  They get it so wrong.

K – Know-alls.  No they fucking don’t.  Especially if they’re journalists.

L – 1   Liverpool Football Club.

2   Litter-louts.

3   Lulu.  Someone somewhere someday told her she could fucking sing.  How a genius like David Bowie could let her murder The Man Who Sold the World is beyond me.

M – Mothers (and fathers) who’re more concerned about their Facebook profile than looking after their kids, hence letting them run amok in pubs and tread garden peas into the carpet.

N – Nightclubs.  Refuges for fuckwits.

O – Optrex.  They’re liars and cheats.  Their eye-drops simply don’t work.  Their slogan ought to be “Pay through the nose for what doesn’t work on your eyes.”

P – People.  Not all of them.  Some of them.  Certain people.  The cunts are probably too thick to know who they are.

Q – Queue-jumpers.  I had an altercation in Home & Bargain once.  A great shop but their queue-ing system is shite.

R – 1   Radio DJs get on my tits.

2   Road-rage.  Your car is someone else’s traffic.

3   Ruby Wax.

S – Snobs.

T – Trump.

U – Unclear and confusing traffic signals.

V – Vienna.  Not the city, that’s beautiful.  The song.  A fucking dirge.

W – Writers who have never done anything, been anywhere, known anything, yet earn hundred of thousands.  It’s a con and people fall for it.

X – 1   X-factor.  Load of bollocks.

2   Xenophobia.

Y – Youngsters with no respect for their fucking elders.

Z – Zoos.  Zzzzz.  Enough to make you go to sleep.

Talking of which, when I get insomnia I turn on the radio and listen to the garbage spoken by a DJ, or the shit that’s “sung” by Lulu.  Or Vienna.  Or think of listening to a Klopp interview.  Or a Trump diatribe.  Or reading this nonsense.





Selling and Selling Out

The last week has been more on than off-grid for this traveller.  The Great Yorkshire Show was some spectacle; three days in beautiful Harrogate and the Show itself with its extravaganza of agricultural machinery, horse trials, cattle sales, fairground rides and all sorts.  My role was to help Jayne sell her brilliant artwork and “crafted creatures”, which I was more than happy to do as repayment for her kindness and support with my Romany Project.  It’s great that we’re still friends after all this time.

People watching/listening has always been a passion for me, as a writer and student of humanity.  Here in Harrogate it was tweed everywhere and posh horsey accents mixed with the rag-tag-and-bobtail arriving late in the day when the entrance fee came down to seven quid.  But for all the expensive clothes and upper-class eccentricity (some of these people are absolutely bonkers) I noticed that in these times it’s still a chore to get people to part with their pound notes, however I’m pleased to say Jayne did rather well and I enjoyed engaging with the public and doing my best to peddle her wares with as much charm (or bullshit) as possible.

Yesterday I was in London once again engaging with an audience, hosting a Storytelling Event on behalf of ITV.


As you see, I’m not entirely at ease with a microphone and cameras shoved up my nose but again I did my best to look OK (which isn’t easy with my face) and sound knowledgeable.  I was reminded by the way of a similar event some time ago at ITV Leeds, when I told the receptionist (who I knew) that I was giving a talk on what I know about television.  “That won’t take long,” she said.

Anyway yesterday’s session went well and I was very proud to once again be an ambassador for ITV and its Soap brand.  I was billed as a Corrie writer, which is obviously out of date and inaccurate, but that didn’t matter and I didn’t feel minded to contradict.  It was also nice, I admit, to don a shirt and jacket, drink posh wine and yes, travel first class!  Having said that, I had to listen to a fair share of management-speak and people talking about their boring fucking jobs.  One young salesman sitting opposite me (who neglected to wake me up when we arrived at Leeds) said to a caller that he’d make “a tweak-intervention on the price.”  I assumed that meant he’d give discount, and I also mused that it’s tossers like him who made me want to go off-grid in the first place.

So I’m not selling out for good, I just can’t.  From now I’m back on the road and planning a return to Nantwich to see some family and dear old friends.  But I need an MoT (and so does the Ottermobile) so I won’t be going too far yet.  Slowly slowly, and that’s the joy of it.  I can go anywhere I want and when I want.  As long as the wheels turn round and as long as I get to spend time occasionally with people I love, I’m happy.  Regarding the MoT I just hope there’s not too much wrong, otherwise I’ll have to ask for a “tweak-intervention on the cost.”  Jesus, I’m a celibate get me out of here.

Appleby, Caffeine and Shagging

IMG-20170716-WA0013This is the first cup of coffee my wonderful son Charlie ever made for me, and it was much-needed.

Still buzzing from his graduation and reuniting with my beautiful daughter Gabby, I’m heading to London to host a storytelling event for ITV.  It’s a clash of the two worlds I’m living in but a necessary one to go back on-grid for a day or two, and in terms of staying sane, staying in touch, and being in a position where I can buy fuel and fund this off-grid project.  In other words I need the money.

Before I talk more about London I’ll take us back in time a few days and tell the story of my journey south from Scotland via Dumfries, Annan and Gretna to Harrogate…

Since there’s gypsy in my soul and blood I felt drawn to Appleby.  In the brilliant sunshine I trekked down the Eden and strolled through the town, possibly wondering if there was some cathartic connection for me.  There was a carnival happening – steam-punk, Romany themes and historical costume, which was great fun and quite a spectacle.  I watched with a beer in hand then decided to get fish and chips and eat them in a riverside pavilion.  When I say fish and chips I should say batter and chips such was the minnow-sized portion and so deeply disappointing was the dish.  I didn’t enjoy them but the black-headed gulls did, though of course they didn’t have to pay a whopping £7.50 for the privilege.  Why is this no longer a poor man’s meal?

As I sat for a spliff and to write, I was joined by a loquacious Irishman called Rick, who was more interesting and informative about the Appleby history than was the Tourist Information cottage on the main street.  Turned out he was abandoned by his family at a horse fair some years ago and remained here – to do what, he was rather vague about, but judging his nose (or lack of one) I suspected his living was made from challenging all-comers to a bare-knuckle fight.

He was also knowledgeable about Appleby Cricket Club having watched many a match from a bench with a bottle of Jameson’s.  I declined his offer of sharing a few glasses in the pub that afternoon, in part because I presumed I’d be the one buying.  But also because I suspected I’d end up being challenged to a bare-knuckle duel, and a smack on the nose wasn’t the kind of cathartic connection I was after.  Thirdly, the mushy peas had made me feel crapulous – bad wind being something rather unwelcome for someone kipping in a sleeping-bag.

So I left Rick with his bottle and headed for Leeming Bar, where I’d heard I could grab an overnight stay – my final stealth-camp before Harrogate and the Great Yorkshire Show.  It was a long journey, I was tired, I made a very bad mistake and diced with death.  I have two theories as to why I lost it, a) I was excited about seeing Jayne and my family and b) which is more likely, I was thinking about shagging.  Yes I was wondering how long since I’ve had a shag?  How long it’ll be before I get a shag?  Will I still remember how to do it should I be lucky enough to get a shag?  And will I ever get another shag before I die?

It was at this point that I realised I’d taken an early turn and was heading the wrong way up a by-pass.  In truth it was fucking scary, and very lucky it was quiet – just one oncoming car about 300yards away, angrily flashing its headlights.  Repeating the word “fuck” several times, I did a rapid three-point-turn which is no mean feat in a cranky old banger with no power-steering, and headed back the right way.

I’m laughing now but at the time I was crapping myself, was angry with myself, feeling stupid and irresponsible, angry with the poor road-signs (which in my flimsy defence is true) and above all shit-scared in case the whole thing was caught on CCTV.  I mention the bad signage but it was really my fault, the worst motoring error I’d ever made, and never was I more in need of caffeine.  It was a very nasty experience and one I’ll learn from, nevertheless I feel like lobbying the Traffic Control people and asking for a new sign:


The Story of the Graduate and the Reunion

I’d been helping Jayne at the Great Yorkshire Show in Harrogate (more on this anon when my chronicles get back on track) and drove down to Derby.  Parked at the railway station and got changed before two very important people came to meet me… Charlie, the man of the moment looking handsome and dapper in his new suit, and Gabriel looking just amazing.  The hugs were momentous, in Gabby’s case eleven years overdue but tremendous, moving, profound.  We’d such a lot to talk about, so many pages unfilled, but first things first: I had to empty my bucket of piss.  The mixed look of horror and amusement on their faces (as they stepped a few paces away for fear of back-splash) was unforgettable.  But it had to be done as we were shifting the van to another space in the Liversage Street carpark (overnight-friendly dear camper-vanners).  This was another big moment: hadn’t seen Gabby in all those years and here she was taking a ride aboard the Ottermobile!


From here to the Hallmark Hotel to meet their mum Karen and her husband Gary, and lunch.  After a couple of glasses to whet our whistles we took a laid-on taxi to Derby Arena.  It was so wonderful to see Charlie in his cap and gown, rightly proud of himself, posing for snaps with his peers and his family.  The auditorium looked splendid, like it was kitted out for a pop concert – large screens, lights, the expectant buzz of excited spectators, and I recalled how it was in my day, and even just a few years back when my other son Dom got his degree (another memorable day for me) – not just pomp and ceremony, radio DJs, live online streams, Mexican waves, cameras picking out happy faces and in the can forever.  You forgave the corporate element of all this; this is how it is now and why not?  It’s one of the best days of these students’ young lives – this is their limelight where dreams are lit, their cathedral where career prayers hopefully go answered.

After 90 minutes of whooping and stinging applause, there was my Adonis son Charlie taking the stage, grabbing his moment and his certificate.  I knew I’d cry, and I did.  Lucky Gabby had tissues.  Charlie won three prizes for his academic contribution and joined a special line for the formal photos, then after informal boomerangs with his fellow graduates, back in a taxi to his place of work for a celebratory meal.  Balloons bobbed and gifts and cards bedecked our table – from his colleagues and employers who clearly think the world of a fine and affable young man.  His colleagues, Kirsty, Paolo and Cody among them, gave us full attention and we ate, laughed and drank heartily.


By ten we were ready for town and the Revolution de Cuba where we drank some more and started throwing shapes (yes I really did say that and I really did do it… or at least dad-dancing).  This author has no inhibitions, or should that be shame?



Anyway we partied till very late, when Kirsty kindly ran Charlie and I to McDonalds (after throwing shapes we needed the fat and salt) which we ate back at the Ottermobile.  His workmates really are fine young people and he’s very lucky to have friends like these.


I think I got to bed down at about 4am, and got woken by a tap on the window at 8.  At first I thought it was the police, but it was Charlie, amazingly fresh-faced and ready for work!  How the young have such energy!  He was obviously still pissed, but able to turn in for a 12hour shift!  I was obviously still pissed and fit only for the knacker’s yard.

After a hangover-induced lie-in I was woken again, this time by Gabby, Karen and Gary, come to deliver the degree ceremony programme as a souvenir and some shampoo and stuff they’d pilfered from their hotel.  Hats off to them!  Stealing from hotels is and always has been one of my not-so-guilty (or actually not-guilty-at-all) pleasures.  So it was great to see Gabby again and be able to say my goodbyes with a kiss and to tell her I love her and ask her please to stay in touch.

This perfect day and night could only have been made more so if Dom and Connie had been there too; if this is about coping with depression and ticking off all those things on my bucket-list, to have all four of my beautiful kids, my grand-kids and me in one room together before I die (but not on my deathbed) it would be job done.  But anyway this day was special, and entirely worthy of my two-post essay, and one I will never forget as long as I do remain in this mortal coil.  It did me the power of good.

Pride Park (Derby 14th July 2017)


Pride being the operative word.  I’m recording out of sequence because I’m drunk partly on good food and wine but mainly on euphoria.  And I want to indulge it because today I was a father BRIMMING with pride.  I will indulge in some detail tomorrow and will make no apology for it.

Today my son Charlie graduated with honours, and there was my daughter Gabriel, who I hadn’t seen for eleven years.  He looked so dapper and handsome and she looked so fucking beautiful.  How is it possible, I asked myself, for a pug like me to produce in partnership such beauty?  Probably down to the other half of the production team.  I don’t know and I don’t care because I just want to congratulate my brilliant son on his degree and wish him all the very best of luck and success in his career.  And I want to thank my daughter, my first wife and her husband for being there and helping in such a massive way to make the day perfect for this author.

The point of this project was to test my resolve against the black dog.  Perfect days like this make the test easily passable.  As I say I’m drunk with euphoria, so more tomorrow…

Parking’s Fine (and life is sweet)

I have to move South again for some important family events, but first I want to say how good Scotland is for me, and how good it is for parking.  My first stop en route to Gretna was Annan, where I parked in the centre for free.

Headed down to the harbour for a hike down the river where I loved the murals on the dilapidated buildings there

IMG_2261but otherwise it was a pretty sombre and run-down place.  Got talking to a local lady called Ruth who agreed, saying they keep lobbying the council to get the harbour dredged so the big ships can come in and the town can flourish again.  But the council don’t listen, she said, citing the post office as a prime example of regression – it used to be a grand and listed building but now it’s a wee window in a branch of McColl’s.  And the people are up in arms about it, she added.

To see if that was the consensus of folk in Annan I finished my walk and headed for a pub – the Blue Bell on the bridge over the river.  The landlady, pleasant and bird-like, painted a brighter picture, insisting the town is thriving and her pub has plenty of happy regulars and many a tourist flocking to its beer festivals, so things are pretty good and they’re happy to make sure they’re moving with the times.  Encouraged, I asked if she did food and she said “aye we’ve got crisps, would you like plain or salt n vinegar?”

After a hearty meal of a pint and a bag of plain I drove down to Gretna, where again the parking was free.  After buying a postcard and chatting to a bloke who seemed extremely proud of Andy Murray, I walked a couple of miles to Gretna Green.


Many love matches have been forged here of course and I liked seeing couples finding each other in the maze and strolling hand in hand around the shops.  I was alone, so I bought a bottle of whisky from the famous shop and was happy to walk along with that for company.  But I had other reasons to be cheerful…  Despite my love for Scotland and my sureness that I’d be coming back in the not-too-distant future, I was headed south to help Jayne at the Great Yorkshire Show and then afterwards see my son Chaz awarded his degree.

I embarked on this travel project to see if I could stand the test, of time, of hardship, of loneliness and discomfort.  And I’m happy to say I came through the first fifty nights, and there I was driving down the A1 with a smile on my face and a song to sing, thinking how proud I was of me, of my life and of this latest lonely project.  But more unselfishly I was thinking of my brothers, my loved-ones and my kids.  For a person with depression, no matter how many beautiful places he sees, how many interesting people he encounters, how many wonderful experiences he has, they’re nothing compared to the joy he feels when seeing his loved-ones, seeing they’re happy, and seeing them achieve.


Fawlty Towers

Just wanted to add a quick post with a pic; I now have the technology (ie a camera) and my son Dom is helping as usual, because I’m such a Luddite.

After the paedo incident I drove up the Solway coast again and spent another day and night in Glencaple.  Woke up the following morning to this view

IMG_2264and decided to camp up and stay another day and night.  It’s unlike me to make decisions before drinking a coffee, smoking a fag and scratching my arse for half an hour, so it goes to show how good it is to wake up to this kind of garden, and how good I felt that day, and how positive, and joyful.

Did my ablutions, packed up some food, locked up the Ottermobile and walked miles along the coast, visiting Caerlaverock Castle and the Wetlands Reserve.

After a good day’s exercise I felt I deserved a treat so called at the Nith Hotel to get a 20oz rump steak.  A nice enough meal and a nice enough place although it struck me as a bit like Fawlty Towers the way it was organised, or rather disorganised.  Kept expecting a little Spanish waiter to run past, chased by a rather tall man brandishing a frying pan.  Got chatting to a group of Glaswegians on a mini-break and a guy called Alan who was doing a similar thing to me only on his motorbike.  Turned out he was from Macclesfield so there was a Cheshire connection.  Nice bloke who promised to read my diary and look into getting a campervan himself; rather that than stay in places like Fawlty Towers.

Had quite a few comments about the A to Z a few posts ago and as I retired for the night with the radio on I got to thinking about all the things that annoy or depress me – not about TV but about life in general.  So I started a new A to Z, which I’ll no doubt post in the near future.  Just to give an example – R: radio DJs, they get on my tits.

So it was another beautiful day in Scotland and I knew I’d sleep peacefully on the banks of the river… as long as I didn’t go too near the edge ofcourse! IMG_2266