The curse of the monkey-arms

Meet Brian: the kind of neanderthal man who would, a long time later, eventually evolve into the blueprint for the modern secondary school Science teacher through just a couple of steps

My granddad does it, my dad definitely does it — sorry, Dad — and, based on what small amount of information I have been able to covertly mine from assorted family and photo albums, I’d hazard a guess that every single male in the Pink family ever has walked with monkey-arms.

That’s right: the arms hanging limp…the palms facing not inwards towards the body — as is the norm with modern humans other people are lucky enough to be related to — but the direction walked away from…

Evolution is amazing, though, isn’t it? Forget the science and the religion — it just blows my mind. However it happened, whatever force created it, is irrelevant to where we are now (or at least to this blog post; don’t bother emailing me to start an angry evolutionary debate unless it’s a good one, please people!). The fact that we are here at all, right now, going about our business and pretending to rule the world, is stupendous.

Now, you’d think that after hundreds, if not thousands of years, the monkey-arms would have slowly become obselete. Faded away. But no, people. In my family and maybe yours too, this is one stubborn evolutionary character trait that simply refuses to die.

For years I’ve been fighting the monkey-arms-thing on a deeply personal level, trying to integrate with the rest of society so that if I ever have off-spring they will not be cursed with the same fate as me, and tragically it would seem that the whole 30 years of war have been a feutile battle…

Becaue today, while walking past a particularly reflective enormous shop window and making the mistake of glancing in it, I saw that despite countless conditioning sessions — whenever I walk around I try and fight the monkey-arms and train my skeleton into accepting a new way of being — I am still, essentially, cursed more than ever.

That’s right: all that conditioning did nothing. In fact, I may have even gone backwards.

And the worst thing is that I have a beard, which only adds to the neanderthal image…

It’s a good job I’m self employed and hate looking at mirrors.

And, if you were wondering, I would shave it off, but I also have a larger-than-average nose.

One thing’s for sure: I think I’d rather have a beak and a beard than look like a twelve-year-old going to a fancy-dress party.

New in ‘short stories’…Today I did it: I actually PUT UP A TENT

I think I like this tent because it doesn't look like my nightmare vision of a tent. But then again, it may be using its unique image to lull me into a false sense of security before punishing me severely for crimes against tents. People, keep your eyes OPEN!


Tents baffle me. This is a story about my bafflement!


Vin Diesel says “You can live without tea! And you WILL, or I’ll beat your ass!”

The third paragraph in this article — no, don’t read it right now, just hold on, we’ll be there in less than a minute — might sound exactly like something pseudo-meaningful Vin Diesel would say in one of his films – and yes, I’m being vague because I have no idea what those films might be…that’s my macho credibility, if I had any, right out the window, then – and in fact you’d be right in thinking it’s meaningful. Meaningful meaningful and nothing pseudo about it, as it goes. Because while it’s of no significance to Vin Diesel or anyone else, really, it is of great significance to me. And if you can’t write about that kind of thing in your blog, where indeed can you write about it? (Feel free to comment or email me with useless suggestions. It seems when I don’t say that I get a barrage of them, so who knows, maybe it might work better this way around?)

And yes, I’m sick of the name Vin Diesel too. And the word meaningful. Don’t worry, there’s a slim chance that I’ll ever subject you to either word any time soon. Unless he makes a film which I am likely to watch, and I lose my thesaurus. So yeah…after a quick scan on Rotten Tomatoes it seems we’re pretty safe, then…(and don’t worry, I guard my Thesaurus with my life. So would you if you’d paid £35 for it).

The Vin-Diesel-style paragraph in question, deep manly voice optional, of course: (Massive points deducted if you’re reading this and wondering what happened in paragraphs1 and 2. In fact, go and slap yourself round the face, please.)

Some things you do in your life you do because you feel you have no choice. Other things are done because you have too much choice, your brain gets scrambled, and you end up picking one at random – playing Russian Roulette. Then there are the things in between which just inexplicably happen. The result of a reaction built on a vague series of events. With me, eight months ago, an event happened which was partly my decision, and partly down to necessity.

And that event, dear reader, was giving up tea. Completely. No more caffeine. No decaf either.

Breaking it right down 100%.

For at least one year.

For health reasons.

To make me feel better. To give me more energy.

Oh, the horror of it.

But before I go any further, allow me to demonstrate how crucial tea was to my every-day life.

Being a freelance writer, nobody tells me when to take a break. Cool, right? I can make tea when I wish, and, if I want to, even indulge myself in ITVs Loose Women while drinking several cups (where I always learn a great many things which always seem useful at the time, but are rarely suitable to be included in my clients articles).

And the thing was, I was a late-tea-developer, which in many ways made it even worse. Having found my beloved tea far later than most – at around the age of 18, when I should have been more concerned about getting girls and looking in the mirror and realising my short hair, combined with large nose, made me look horrendous – I had at least a decade’s worth of time to make up for. And make up for it I did!

I drank tea in the morning: 4 cups at least. I drank 2 at lunch-time, and in the afternoon…well, maths was quite literally never my strong-point, but I really did lose count. The eagle-eyed of you will notice how I didn’t state how many cups of tea I used to drink in the evening…

But anyway, the point is that when it came time to quit tea for good – replacing it with the awful-sounding “Peppermint Tea” – I was what you can only describe as highly dependant. Imagine whichever character Ewan McGregor played in Trainspotting crossed with one of the most irritating contestants in The Apprentice and you’ll come somewhere near seeing how my decision-making process was.

And to begin with, I won’t lie, it was…

Actually much easier than I thought! I was going to invent some unsettling story there, but in the end honesty seemed favourable. I mean, seriously it was easy, much too easy…and considering my history it made no sense.

OK, so the first day was tricky, but in the main it was the routine I missed more than the actual tea itself. That was what I had come to realise.

8 months on? I’m still on the Peppermint Tea and sometimes, I’m not sure, but I think I come close to enjoying it (even if after 5 cups your breath does actually smell alarmingly like stale wee…). And you know what? I don’t see me going back to my old ways any time soon. That’s right, my days as an addict are over. I’m nobody’s gimp, not anymore.

I’ll definitely drink regular tea again, there’s no way I’m staying off it forever completely, but the point is I’ve broken that habit.

And that? That makes me very happy indeed, because for once — to end it as Vin might — I realised that we own our habits. It’s our job to beat them and show them who’s the boss, you know.