Tuesday, 31 July 2012

The Jokers Corner

One of the many different emotions you go through as an unpublished writer is that horrible sinking feeling that rumbles through your soul like a train thundering into a dark tunnel. This feeling is caused by a reaction to a certain word. That word is rejection.

More on rejection later, but unless you can find ways to get over it then you will find you may never get over the first of many, many hurdles. One way is through the bottle (a bad way) or another way is through cheering yourself up. It could be just watching your favourite comedies, listening to some good music (no love songs) or being with someone who makes you laugh, and can tell a good joke.

So for all of you, who maybe going through that dark tunnel, below, are some jokes which I hope will help you through it.


A man calls his boss one morning and tells him, ‘boss, I can’t make it to work today because I have a head ache and stomach ache.

The boss replies, ‘you know I really need you at work today! When I feel like that I go to my wife and ask her for sex and afterwards it makes me feel better, and I can then go to work. Why don’t you give a try?’

Later on that day the man phones his boss and says, ‘I did what you said, boss, and I feel ok now. I’m now on my way to work; and by the way, you have a lovely house!’

At confession the priest advised a sinner that if he wanted to get into heaven he would have to give up cigarettes, alcohol and sex. Two weeks later the priest pays him a visit and asks how is he doing?

The cigarettes and alcohol were easy to give up, but when the wife bent over to get some meat out of the freezer, I just couldn’t help myself; I had to give her one there and then. He said.

The priest replied, ‘They don’t like that sort of thing in heaven.

The man then said, ‘they don’t like it in the supermarket either!’

My old aunties used to come up to me at weddings, jabbing me in the chest and laughing, telling me in their loudest voice, ‘you're next.’

It stopped after I started doing the same thing to them at funerals.

Five truths you wish you could say at work.

(1) I can see your point of view, but I still think you’re full of shit.

(2) It sounds like English, but I can’t understand a bloody word you are saying.

(3) Ah, I see you had a visit from the cock-up fairy; again?

(4) The fact that no one can understand you doesn’t make you an artist.

(5) I have plenty of talent and vision. I just don’t give a damn.


What do you call an intelligent, smartly dressed, good looking, sensitive man with a sense of humour?


A Rumour.

A husband is out with his friends for a few drinks after promising his wife he would be home before midnight. Well the beer was flowing and the hours passed, and as drunk as a skunk he arrived home at 03.00am.

Just as he stumbled through the door the cuckoo clock at the bottom of the stairs started up and cuckooed three times.

As quick as flash the husband thought his wife might have heard it and was quite pleased with himself as he cuckooed another nine times. In a drunken haze he collapsed on the bed, smiling, and thinking how cleaver he was to have escaped another ear bashing from his wife.

The next morning, his wife asked him what time he got in, and he replied, ‘twelve o’ clock.

She looked a bit concerned and said to him, ‘I think we need a new cuckoo clock.’

‘Why is that?’ he asked

‘Well’ she replied. ‘Last night the clock cuckooed three times, then said ‘Oh, shit,’ cuckooed another four times, belched, cuckooed twice more, and then farted.

I hope this small selection of jokes cheered you up and if you have any others that you would like to pass on then please feel free to use the comments section at the bottom.

Friday, 27 July 2012

I just don't know

My next blog was going to be called; Jokers Corner, but as the words started to flow I was sitting in front of the television with my laptop resting on my knees as I, along with another billion people world-wide, waited eagerly for the opening ceremony of the London Olympics.

I started to wonder what type of show we would get for the twenty six million pounds it cost to produce. Would it have thousands of pulsating drummers with death defying acrobats like the last Olympics in China? Would it have the glitz and glamour with shooting rocket-men like the Los Angeles Olympics? Would it even have the coordinated symmetry of the Moscow Olympics?

Well as I watched it I thought to myself what image is this show giving to the rest of the world about life in Great Britain?

I just don’t know, as someone who comes from this fair-shore, it started off resembling some Orwellian nightmare before progressing to sick children. When I heard the song, I’m a Fire Starter; being played it reminded me of the London riots last summer when the city went up in flames.

I think for most people around the world they will have been left baffled, but then maybe that’s the best way to sum up the British; baffling!

I just don’t know. I think I could find a better way to spend twenty six million pounds. A good start is maybe the children’s ward at my local hospital which has to cut services because of austerity measures needed to help pay the bill for bailing out the finance industry.

Anyway I hope you enjoyed the show and I will cheer things up a bit with my next blog; Jokers Corner.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

The Three Wise Monkeys

Saturday the 7th of May 2011, 05.00 am.

Once again I woke up in pain; I didn’t know which hurt the most, my back or my skull. It had become a common occurrence that had crept up on me as slow as a sloth hanging from a tree in a dream.

I had enjoyed the night before, drinking with Dangerous John in my local, and I found as the beer flowed my spine slowly loosened its grip on my body. By late evening I could have danced like Michael Flatly. By 05.00 the next day I was crippled.

Today was the official day I left paid employment, but it made no difference, I had basically been on gardening leave all week. The previous Saturday I took some staff out for a meal with drinks afterwards (and lots of them.) On the Tuesday all the senior managers were at the head office so by three in the afternoon we were in the pub and the company credit cards were sliding across the bar quicker than a card dealer in a casino.

By eleven I had missed the last train home and ended up in a Chinese restaurant somewhere off Dorset Square. Hot spicy giants prawns were just what I needed.

I didn’t know what time I arrived back at the company H.Q that night but as the security code was punched into the key pad I was ready for sleep. When I awoke next day my clothes were strewn across the office floor with my hair pointing to the four corners of the compass, and my breath stinking of stale booze mixed with spicy prawns. I stood there naked looking for my blackberry to see what the time was when I heard the first staff arriving to start their work day. I decided it was time to leave so I dressed, sneaked out, got the train and let the new guy look after things while I worked from home that day!

So by Saturday morning I had had four late nights out with the other days covered by light drinking. I had lived the whole week without being sober. And this was more common than I would dare admit to myself. Well I tell a small white lie because I had known for the last few years that as I climbed the ladder of life I was stopping often at the fuel pumps to fill up my tank with alcohol.

I had seen the consequences with terrible effects and although I knew the warning signs I was more than happy to act like the three wise monkeys, in that I didn’t want to see, hear or talk about.

This happened to my neighbour who was also my friend and drinking partner. His life spiralled out of control as the pressure of modern life and the expectations it throws up became too much for him. He found sanctuary at the bottom of the wine bottle, and couldn’t see as his marriage fell apart. It came to the point where he lost his family and nearly lost his life, at the end of a rope.

I was awoken at two in the morning one mid-week night by the door bell ringing and I opened it to be surprised by the presence of a police man. ‘Hello do you know a Mr so and so.’

Yes I replied.

‘We have received a call from him to say he is going to hang himself, he won’t let us in and will only talk to you.’

So there I was in my dressing gown, on my knees, in the dark, looking through my neighbour’s letter box as he stood at the top of the stairs, a rope was coming from the loft hatch with the end looped around his neck. Eventually when he heard my voice he came down and opened the door.

He burst into tears and as I walked in we hugged each other as he sobbed. Eventually the police left when I agreed to look after him. We stayed up all night watching comedy repeats as I tried to lift his mood; interspersed with him repeating ‘I would do anything for my family. Why won't they come back?’

It’s easy for people to ask, ‘so why didn’t he give up the booze then? But I would say behind closed doors there are more people addicted to something, be it alcohol, illegal drugs, smoking, prescription drugs, food, computer games, and pornography plus many other things, than there are people who are not. Most of us just behave like the three wise monkeys when it comes to our own lives.

I wasn’t an alcoholic (although I don’t know what the definition of one is), I didn’t wake up craving for a drink and I could go a day or two without and it wouldn’t bother me, but, and there is always a but, I did find I enjoyed a drink in the evening with heavy bouts every weekend as I tried to unwind (and forget) about work. During moments of extreme pressure like the death of my father-in-law I lost it completely and would spend various nights with my head down the toilet as my body tried to expel the excess poison I had exposed it to.

I had never had this problem with any other substance. In my youth I grew up as the rave scene exploded onto the streets, or should I say, warehouses and fields, and enjoyed all the new delights this brought, but as I matured (I don’t like the words “growing older”) the only thing that stayed a constant in life was the demon drink.

I knew one thing, now I wasn’t in paid employment and with having to live a pauper’s life until when, in the far off future, I could even think of making my living as an author I could no longer afford to spend so much money on this leisure activity.

I could no longer act like the three wise monkeys unless I wanted ended up homeless and bankrupt.

For anyone who is a struggling unpublished writer I would caution; life is stressful enough but a whole new host of stress factors will spring up like weeds in the garden. Always-hanging-around can be the most stressful of them all and just pouring oneself another drink to take away the boredom is something the three wise monkeys take no notice of. 
Three years after I spent that evening with my neighbour, watching hour after hour of comedy series on the television, he is still alive although his marriage is dead. As for me, well it’s been a glorious day today and I’m going to find a shaded spot in the garden, complete some research by reading a good book, and sip on a nice cold beer. Just the one!

Friday, 20 July 2012

Dangerous John

I awoke early on the morning of Friday the 6th of May 2011 with terrible pains pulsating from my lower back and a throbbing head from the excesses of the previous night. It took me a couple of attempts before I could stand up and with the stiffness which accompanies a night’s sleep, I crept down the stairs like a person who needed a stair-lift for such things. I made myself a strong coffee, and sat down looking at my box of notes which I had accumulated during the months my story had been building within my mind.

It was at this point I knew instinctively I would need some help, not with the physical writing of my manuscript, but help from somebody who could give me not only their critique on my story as it progressed, but who would help me keep to a routine of writing.

Dangerous John sprang into my thoughts.

I knew I would have to keep myself disciplined or not I would settle into the kind of holiday mood you can get into when; say you take a couple of weeks leave to complete some decorating. You have good intentions of painting at least three rooms, but only get one finished because you wake up in the morning, saying to yourself ‘I will make a start tomorrow, I am on holiday after all!’ No this was going to be my new career and like all jobs you need to put in a minimum of forty hours a week to make it pay.

I knew dangerous John always finished work early on a Friday and would head to my local for a couple of refreshing drinks, so after popping a hand full of pain killers for my back and then more for my head, I finished my coffee and went for a shower. I normally like to a have bath, but since my spine gave way It had been painfully impossible to get in or out, so as I hobbled up the stairs I contemplated how much it would cost to install a stair-lift.

Dangerous John got his nick-name because he is as placid as a Rastafarian on a reefer and as harmless as a puppy. He has a neat cropped silver beard that matches his silver hair which makes him look like a younger (and slimmer version of Father Christmas). He also had one very admirable trait, his ferocious love of books which he reads for hours every day, and he’s not happy unless he has at least three more in a row waiting to be read. He was also the one who rekindled my love of reading fiction.

I was first introduced to him down my local pub some years previous and one day we got talking about our favourite books. The next week he brought in one of his for me to read, and when I had finished it he replaced it with another, then another and the friendship arose from there. I also started to re-read some of my past favourites, especially George Orwell’s Animal Farm, Big Brother and other classics of his.

Dangerous John would be the perfect person for the job and I could get his knowledge of literature for the price of a warm pint. I would always recommend anyone who is starting to write, or has already been there, to have someone like John who can be honest in their views. It will save a lot of time in the future, and anyway the things we do in life are always much more fun when you have somebody to share them with.

It was half past four and a lovely sunny Friday afternoon. I had the rare luxury (up to that point) of being able to take a lunch time siesta and after popping another fist-full of painkillers I hobbled into my local, and there sitting on a high stool, next to the bar, was dangerous John. He gave me a welcoming smile and was already rising to his feet, offering to buy me a drink. I kindly accepted his offer and pulled up another stool to join him and divulge my plan for the manuscript.

‘Lovely idea,’ came dangerous Johns reply (it was the first time I hadn’t been called mad.) He gladly welcomed my request to him for his help and a plan was hatched. We would meet every Friday afternoon in the pub, I would hand over that week’s scribbling’s for him to review, and he would then hand back the previous week’s work which we would go through, and debate any changes over a pint or two. What a glorious way to spend a Friday afternoon much better than when I was employed and would work like a mad-man, from seven in the morning to ten a night, trying to clear my work load so I could at least try and relax on the Saturday.

The conversation flowed and so did the beer and John told me about some of the stories he had started but never quite got around to finishing.  He explained about how he looked forward to retiring so he could take up writing more seriously and it was this sentence which hit me like a glass bottle over the head.

Cancer is a nasty word; it’s the one thing that comedians never make a joke about. Cancer is the one universal word which brings dread to every person on this planet, no matter their colour, religion, sex, politics, class or caste it brings fear into our hearts like the Black Death brought terror to the people of the medieval age.

John’s words about finally having the time to complete his dreams when he retired brought back to me that fatal day when the doorbell rang. I answered it and there stood my father and mother-in-law. It was a surprise, ‘sorry to disturb you but we have something to tell you,’ they stated in a calm voice, but as they entered my mother-in-law broke down and started to weep. My father-in-law sat down and looked at us, still calm, he said, ‘I have cancer, it was confirmed today, I have six months to live.’ We buried him three months later.

I’m remember my mother-in-laws words which she kept tearfully repeating, ‘it’s so unfair, we have worked hard all our lives, hurt no one, and now we’ve just retired, and it’s all being taken away.’

For anybody that has experienced that moment I don’t think even Shakespeare could describe the numbness (if you know otherwise then please leave a comment). I’m surprised that after a hundred years and the billions spent on research along with the tens of thousands of people employed in one way or another that humanity hasn’t achieved more. Every decade there is a promise of some new break through just around the corner (it always seems to be when some research body needs more funding) and ten years later nothing has changed. At this present moment I have a friend who is in his thirties with cancer and is looking death in the eye as he sees out his last few weeks on this planet. The cancer industry is the great untouchable; no one is allowed to question if maybe after this great endeavour by humanity why we aren’t seeing more of a return? It reminds in a way of the finance industry, all that money invested by ordinary people, and governments alike, and what has it achieved?

The cancer industry likes to boast that because of it people are living longer when diagnosed with the disease, ‘they now live for three years instead of two,’ but I think it’s because of better education. People are more aware and thus seek help earlier but generally the outcome is no different to what it was thirty years ago, fifty years ago, or even seventy. 

John’s remark about retiring just reminded me of the one big positive I learned from the death of my father-in-law. Life is precious, follow your dream today for tomorrow may never come, and be thankful for everything you have.

His death was one of the factors which had been building up inside of me, and which would eventually burst out like seeds in a pod, in my determination to give up what I had and risk all to publish a book.   

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Comments welcome

I just wanted to say how amazed I have been on the reach of my blog. According to Google I have followers in the U.S, U.K, Russia, France, Australia, Canada, Germany, Spain and Malaysia, and that’s after only two weeks.

I want you to know that the following story is true and based on my own events in life over the last two years as I took one of the biggest gambles in my life, if I make it or not, only you will find out as the story unfolds.

I hope along the way to keep you amused with some witty banter and I do ask that you feel free to leave any comments which you think relate to each page. You can share your thoughts with me and the other viewers (especially if you experienced similar situations) and for the great mass of people out there who have a story inside of them, which they hope to one day tell the world; my blog as it unfolds will hopefully pass on some tips, and give some encouragement through the dark days that lay ahead for anybody who follows their dream.

If you think you know anyone who may find www.always-hanging-around.blogspot.com of interest to them then please pass on this address. Tell then to start at the beginning (as titled) and follow it through to the present.

I wish you all the best for the future.

Daniel Jones.

Monday, 16 July 2012

The final day

It had finally arrived; the final day. My back was slowly getting more painful by the hour and I was seeing the Chiropractor three times a week plus knocking back so many painkillers I rattled like a bottle. It had got to the stage where I was using three different pharmacies in case the staff thought I was trying to hoard these pills to top myself. I knew I should have gone to the doctors as concerned family, friends and work colleagues kept advising me, but to be truthful I had met various people over the years that had had the same thing bulging out their spine (and pressing painfully against the nerves),and they all ended going under the surgeon’s knife. It wasn’t a case that because I came from a macho environment I was scared at the thought of it, (just a small white lie) it was more a case that I didn’t have much faith in that type of medical procedure. All the people that did go down this route ended up within the year back to square one, and suffering from the same complaint, or they ended in a continuous circle of going under the knife, and each time coming out worst then when they started. No; I was going to try a different route and it didn’t involve hobbling down to the doctor’s surgery.

So there I was, on the train trundling back home. I had managed to introduce the new bloke taking over my job to most of my clients and staff, and sat uncomfortably on my seat pondering the new path my life was ready to take. I felt joyful and free. The pressure of work had slowly crept upon me to the point where I lived in a constant grey cloud and now I felt light, as if a massive weight had been removed from me. I noticed for the first time what a lovely sunny day it was, and just looked out the window at the passing country side, and thought, “isn’t life wonderful.”

I had many unknowns in front of me but I knew I one thing, I wasn’t mad. I hadn’t just had a nervous breakdown and was running away although for a brief moment I thought what a crazy idea it was to try, and become a published author. You see, I don’t come from a creative culture, far from it. I left school with very little meaningful qualifications and had never been through university. In fact no one from my family had been through university; I came from the school of hard knocks and passed through the University of Life with a full honours degree. I had worked hard all my life and taken risks, some paid off and some didn’t, but I had always been in work with all it’ up and downs. I had travelled the world, some of it upper class, to New York, Hong Kong and the Caribbean. I had visited most of Western Europe and parts of Africa and the Middle East. I had what people would call a good life style and I’d given it all up to follow my dream.

I was going to have to start at the bottom like I did when I first left school and try to crawl my way back.

I now had no job, no car and more importantly no laptop. As the train came to a stop at my station, I knew my first task would be before I could even begin the first chapter was to visit the computer store, and purchase myself a note book computer. Actually the first job I did was to limp over to the nearest bar and have a celebration drink, and as one drink lead to another the thought of craziness went the same way as the bear, down the toilet.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

One in the pocket

Always carry one with you. That was my new mantra. In my youth it was always a condom in the back pocket when I went out clubbing at the weekend, but now I’ve replaced that symbol ( a long,long time ago) of hopeful expectation with a pen. Yes a pen because even though I hadn’t even started my first chapter, I had spent my time while working out my resignation scribbling down notes.

There I would be driving down the road, slagging off the other driver who had just swerved in front of me while he chatted on his mobile phone, and then suddenly out of thin air a puff of inspiration randomly shot into my brain like an arrow. Within seconds I would be using my knees to steer while trying to get the pen out my pocket, find any scrap of paper, and then trying to keep one eye on the road and other looking down as I wrote.

By the time I started on my manuscript I had a box full of random notes on all sorts of things, till receipts, parking tickets, sandwich packets, pieces of newspapers, and there is a whole host of bank notes in circulation that have been defaced with my scribbles. The main problem now was how to make sense of all these reminders that for a few brief seconds, at the time, seemed to be pure genius, but now resembled a pile of rubbish.

For any hopeful author I would recommend keeping a pen and pad near to hand, and if you are still lucky enough to enjoy clubbing, a condom in the back pocket.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Are you mad?

With just two weeks to go until the big day comes and I have to hand back the company vehicle, laptop, credit card, blackberry and other bits and pieces; I think this is now a good time to tell family and friends my plan for the future.

‘Are you mad?’ That’s all I hear from everyone I tell, ‘you’re quitting a secure job in the middle of the worst economic melt-down the world has seen since the great depression?’

‘No’ I reply. ‘I’m in chronic pain since my back gave up on me and ninety years old with zimmer frames stop to ask if I need a helping hand across the road.’ No I’m not mad, well I hope I’m not, but then I haven’t even written a single line of a single chapter let.

I’ve had the basic story in my head for the preceeding five months but as normal have always been too busy to do anything about it. When moving house the previous year I found a draw stuffed with lined paper with a mix of stories I had started (normally while in a bored drunken stupor), but had never got past finishing the first chapter. I knew I had it in me to write a manuscript and this time I was determined to see it through, and the first casualty would have to be my job as I started on a new career path.

No I was not mad, but, and there is always a but, I did get a glass bottle bludgeoned across my head which split my skull open a few years ago, but that is a story for another day.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012


I don’t like hanging around and now it seemed an eternity since I had handed in my resignation. I’m the type of person who doesn’t like queuing (I suppose there aren’t many people who do). I should rephrase that sentence in that I don’t like waiting, just hanging around, but as I was to learn trying to get a story published involves always-hanging-around for other people, and this is how my blog got its name.

First you wait for friends who you have given your first cherished manuscript to read, after a month of waiting you finally ask what they think of it and they tell you, ‘alright, I’ve read the first five chapters. Your heart sinks. Your manuscript, the greatest story ever written, should have had them hooked with them begging for the next story, that’s what you have convinced yourself is the truth.

You rewrite the story then enter it into various competitions and then wait. You wait for months because you entered it in September, and the closing date is the end of November, but the first round of judging is not until January the next year. You wait eagerly for the big day in January, and check on the web-site to see if your name is on the list and your heart sinks when it is not.

So next you try getting an agent. You send off the first three chapters with a synopsis and a covering letter over the next few months to various agencies. You wait and you wait and if you are lucky you will get a rejection letter, if not you wait around hoping and never hearing. Your wait for the postman with eager excitement and check your email account five times a day but all you are doing is, always-hanging-around.

Finally after getting nowhere you go direct to the publishers (do we budding authors never learn?)   

Thursday, 5 July 2012

The Pain

For the next eight months I have never suffered so much pain. The thought did pass through my mind that as I was still employed; I could take back my resignation then go on statutory sick pay for the next six months, that way I would at least have some extra money coming in while I was writing. You see I had decided that to be an author, you had to live as an author, in so much as I would spend all my time and energy, purely, and simply writing. I had some savings which would last one year and I could make major cut-backs in my life style (No more holidays abroad in the sun for two weeks), but somehow I knew the company I worked for would have me working from home just as franticly as normal. No, I decided to see out my time in agony as the last few weeks slowly and very painfully passed.

For anyone who has suffered terrible back pain you will know what hell it is. I have had problems with my back before and had the luxury in the past of being able to pay for Chiropractic care (why? O why? Can’t you get this branch of medical care on the N.H.S?) But this time every penny was now counted for as I planned to live a pauper’s life. After two weeks necking back a packet of Paracetamol and Ibrubafen a day plus using up three whole tube of pain relief gel, I finally admitted defeat and hobbled down to the Chiropractor. His prognoses was not good, he did tell me the technical term for what had happened to my back, but in basic English, something was bulging out of my spine which should not be bulging out and was pressing against my nerves. I was fucked.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

It's offical

There it was in front of me, my official letter from the H.R department from the company I worked for stating my last day in their employment would be Saturday the 7th of May 2011. I had resigned back in February giving them six weeks’ notice (I had miss-read the damn contract and could have got away with just four) but it didn’t matter. Repeatedly I was asked if I could stay on for just another couple of weeks, “until we have found your replacement and you have trained them up.” Doubt could have risen within my mind, “was I doing the right thing in giving up a secure job,” but no, I knew if I ever wanted to succeed at writing a book and getting it published it would have to be a case of shit or bust. Either way I was going to give it all I had.

Just the word H.R should be enough to get any self-respecting person off their back-side and go follow some dream. Human Resource, what is that? A resource is a commodity which is exploited, like oil, gas, gold or grain; those two words summed it all up for me. I am a person, an individual, and I was no longer going to be exploited. Looking back how naive was I?

These extra weeks at work passed slowly, and I tried to bluff myself that it wouldn’t have any effect on the positive mood I had built up during the preceding months, before I handed in my resignation. But and there is always a but, my body told me something different, because when I worry my muscles slowly tighten, and in mid-April I awoke one Wednesday with a stiff back, and by Lunch time I was in so much agony I could not move.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

The beginning

Where do I start? Well it will have to be at the beginning. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form.  No, no, no, to far back. No the beginning for me was in May 2011 when I left a secure and well paid job to become an author. The following is the story of my travels on the rocky road to getting published.