It’s Not Me – It’s YOU

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Dear Whitstable,

This is a hard letter to write.  We’ve been together a while.  We’ve had our ups and our downs.  But now it has to end.

I’m moving on.

We’ve grown apart.  It’s going nowhere.  I don’t even think we’d be better as friends.  We are, quite literally, in different places. I’m sorry, I just can’t any more.  I have nothing to say to you now.

If you love something, you must set it free.  So Whitstable – reach for the sky! Imagine you are Jonathan Livingstone Seagull! (But without the horrible religious subtext!)

It was good while it lasted.

Conrad Blaine

x

If you want to know who I really am, click on DOWN FROM LONDON

It’s been interesting. 🙂

Happy Halloween!

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My Favourite (Whitstable) Things!

Hello you lot.  Feeling a bit meh.  So I read the back of one of the wife’s self help books and it said, ‘Make yourself a gratitude list!’

This is it.

(To the choon of ‘My Favourite Things’ from the Sound of Music.)

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Bright plastic buckets and oysters with lemon,
Bracing cold beaches and a pint of Hoegaarden,

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Summer beach picnics and a jug of cold Pimms,
These are a few of my favourite things.

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Real working trawlermen hauling in fishes,
Cobble streets, boutiques and hipsters in britches,

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Malty real ale in a cosy old Inn,
These are a few of my favourite things.

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Kitesurfing dudes boosting shed loads of air time,
Silky smooth beard hair combed fresh free of beard grime,

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Long-legged ladies and tiffin with twins,
These are a few of my favourite things.

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(The sad bit in the middle)
When the flue chugs,
When the whelks ming,
When I’m feeling sad,
I simply remember my favourite things,
And then I don’t feel so sad!

BqQirZbCcAAQGYzPommes Frites with Mayonnaise

Live music, galleries, delis and cafes,
Flat fish and pinot and chips dipped in mayonnaise,

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Seagulls that squawk with the wind on their wings,
These are a few of my favourite things.

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Jeans, stripy t-shirt and butterscotch ice-cream,
I’m DOWN FROM LONDON and I’m Living The Dream,

Copy of Down From London KINDLE
Whitstable sunsets that make the heart sing,
These are a few of my favourite things!!

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Ugh.  Phew.  Bit emotional now tbw…I have some sad news.  I’m not going to be around much longer.  Will reveal why in my next – and last – blog.  Gonna miss you guys.

Laters!

C.K.

Mid-Life Meltdowns and Mentors

Man on the Edge of – the Male Menopause

Slightly more, er, personal one this time.

The wife is away again, but on her brief visit home, she announced something very troubling – she is intending to grow her grey hair out and go natural.  Now I’ve got into trouble over this one before (see previous post), but the absolute FACT is that women just look older when they let themselves go grey (i.e. let themselves go), whereas some men look handsomer, wiser, hotter when they have some silver/grey/white.

I’m not keen on her doing it – I’m hoping she will see how bad it looks and get herself back to Toni and Guy asap.  In my mind, I’ll end up with this for a wife…

<> at 10 Downing Street on December 8, 2011 in London, England.
The Mayflower

Or worse, this!

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The Beard (more about beards in the next blog)

The trouble is, I’ve been finding an increasingly plentiful sprouting of greys in my beard.  I actually always thought I’d be alright with it, but I’m not.

So when she left, I did something a bit silly.  Something I now regret.

I dyed it.

Now before you berate me for being a twat, in my defence, I did use proper man-beard dye.

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Do NOT trust this stuff!

The problem is, it didn’t turn out to be quite the shade I needed.  In fact, I can’t imagine who this shade would have suited.  I mean, who has natural burgundy hair? No one, that’s who!  And now I have a burgundy beard! Burgundy!

Thank god it’s not permanent.

Feeling a bit stupid, I Googled ‘dyed beards’ and with much relief I now know it’s a thing.  There are men out there that do it deliberately – wtabf?!

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Mine looks a bit like this, but redder. Think 70s bathroom suite – no, not the olive green one. The burgundy one. That.

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I came across this baffling article in Men’s Health link to article about different categories of men who have beards.  Christ knows which one the man that wrote it would think I was, but I am most certainly not ‘Overzealous Beard Guy’!  The reason my beard is burgundy isn’t because I want to draw attention to myself – believe me brother, I get more than enough attention already.  It’s burgundy because I made a terrible, terrible mistake.

So I’ve been washing my beard over and over and I have decided to let the grey grow through, albeit with great trepidation.  It occurred to me that I could look around for some silver-beardy role models.  The obvious being Cloony (although his is a fairly embryonic, stumpy effort).

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Even I can see he’s gorgeous. Not that I’m, you know. But my beard is significantly better.

Then, as I was speeding through the local rag to the property section, I spotted a famous local celebrity.  An icon of the literary world that had something more than the beard in common with me – the cunning use of his initials as his writer’s name.  Mr C.J. Stone no less!  Now, I hear he used to write a brilliant column for the Guardian back in the day.  I never read it, but the wife did.  Apparently, only to work out just how bad Whitstable was before we moved here.  It was her that suggested I used his tactic for my own nom de plume.  Not only does this venerable gent have an eerily similar name to me, he has a full and luxurious white beard!

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Sooooo, once the dye had almost left the beard – just a few light burgundy (NOT pink) streaks in the silver bits now, I decided to approach C.J. Stone for a formal interview about why he decided to let his grey grow though, glean any advice about the emotional impact of ‘letting go’ and how he maintains his magnificent silver shade.

You have to understand that C.J. Stone is a very, very busy man.  Not only does he still write lots and lots of stuff. He is also a postman and very active politically.  So when I say ‘approach for an interview’, what I mean is ‘approach him on the street, as he’s doing his postal round’.  I knew his route – spotted him as I was putting my kite together down at Swalecliffe.  Not that I’m stalking him.  So I parked up a couple of days ago and jogged over to him just as he was coming out of someone’s front gate.

I will give you the (abridged) version of the interview.  You’ll get the idea…

CK      Hi.  Er, hi?  Helloooo?

CJ       Hello.

CK      Um, I know who you are and I just wanted to say, er, great beard!

CJ       Pardon? Did you say “beard”?

CK      Yes, beard. Er, I was wondering – oh, yeah, I’ll wait here.  Yep, I see the dog sign.  Won’t follow you.  Hate dogs.  Ah, you’re back – I was wondering if I could ask you some questions….

CJ       About beards? I don’t think about mine all that much. I can’t help noticing yours. Is that pink? Whatever made you want to dye your beard pink?

CK      I wanted to ask you about going grey.  If that’s ok?  How was it for you? And it’s not pink.

CJ       I started going grey in my 20s, so I was resigned to it at an early age. I already had the distinguished grey-streaks-at-the-temple-look when I was in my early 30s so I just had to get used to it. I try not to think about it most of the time…. until someone points it out to me that is. Look, I’m a little busy right now, do you mind if we…

CK      So, what’s your advice to me about my beard going grey?  I promise I’ll leave you alone after this.  Right, yes, I’ll just stand here while you deliver the, you know, thing.

CJ       My advice is to leave it alone. Never dye it under any circumstances, and especially not pink. Mine’s not grey anyway, it’s white, which is why my nephews used to call me Uncle Christmas. Goes well with the Royal Mail red jacket doesn’t it? Uncle Christmas, Father Christmas’ cooler younger brother. I once considered putting a black stripe in my hair, as contrast. That was my girlfriend’s idea, but it seemed too much like hard work to me. No matter how often you dye your hair, it will always grow out again, and even if the world thinks you’ve got different coloured hair, you know you haven’t really. It’s like a guilty secret you have to keep to yourself. What a sad life that would be. My view is that you should work with what the Universe gave you and not spend too much time worrying over appearances. It just seems like vanity to me. Personally I’ve got better things to think about… like delivering the mail. Now if you don’t mind….

CK      It’s not pink!  Er, sorry.  I mean thank you, Mr. Stone.

CJ       Who are you again? Are you one of my customers? Have we ever spoken before? I don’t think I recognise you. You need to catch me on a quiet day if you want a conversation with me, unlike today….

CK      I won’t bother you again.  Sorry – Sir.

Obvs we’ve become very close since then.   Didn’t he go on and on?  I think he’s lonely.  It’s not like being a cop is it? Delivering letters.  You don’t get a compardre.  Someone to watch your back.  Nope. It’s a lonely path posting stuff.

Might see if he wants to come and hang out, or start kite surfing.  He’s kind of become my beard mentor.  What a dude!

And lastly.  Very embarrassing.  I think I’m entering the male menopause.  I stumbled across an article in the Daily Mail (it was just lying about – I absolutely do not buy it) by Dr Erika Schwartz who says it’s an actual thing. Well helloooo!  You don’t need to tell me that love!  God.  These over-educated women!  Well I’m definitely getting some of the symptoms.  Not all of them.  Like the ones that involve, you know, sex drive.  Just the grumpiness, tiredness and irritability.  Definitely not the ones that involve anything to do with sex.  Nope.

Rather reluctantly, I visited the health food shop in town.  Now I know I have had a bit of criticism before about my opinion of the lady in there.  I think she seems very sweet and I did feel a bit guilty about what I said about her silver hair last time.  Still think grey hair looks worse on women, but hey, that’s just my opinion!  (Actually it isn’t – lots and lots of actual women think that too!)

So I asked her advice about my hormones and she said, ‘Mmm…clean diet, keep hydrated (non- caffeinated drinks), decent sleep and moderate exercise. I would recommend a good multi vit and mineral supplement if your diet’s a bit rubbish or if you are feeling stressed, you might benefit from some magnesium – it’s a great relaxation mineral.’  Then she looked at my beard and laughed.  I still spent fifty quid in there.

So I’ve had a very boring few days, not drinking booze, coffee or eating nice food and drinking boring, boring water.  Yes I do feel a bit less tired, but believe me, I’m twice as irritable!  Grrr!

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I might have a chat with some lads at the gym.  See if they can get me something to perk up the man hormones.  Lols!

Right, I’m off to shampoo my beard again.  Almost all gone now…

Hopefully the wife won’t come home looking like this –

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Remember him? Lols.

Laters, oyster pickers!!

Oh.  Some stuff about C J Stone.  He’s awesome.

https://christopherjamesstone.wordpress.com/

http://cjstone.hubpages.com/
“Stone writes with intelligence, wit and sensitivity.” Times Literary Supplement

Publications *The Guardian Weekend*The Observer*The Big Issue*The Independent*The Independent on Sunday*The New Statesman*The London Review of Books*Mixmag*The Sunday Herald*The Times Literary Supplement*Prediction*Kindred Spirit*The Whitstable Times*Saga Magazine*Kent Life*The Whitstable Gazette*

Books *The Empire of Things (Gonzo Muiltimedia 2013)*The Trials of Arthur (with Arthur Pendragon: Big Hand Books 2010)*Housing Benefit Hill (AK Press 2001)*Last of the Hippies (Faber & Faber 1999)*Fierce Dancing (Faber & Faber 1996)*

“Wry, acute, and sometimes hellishly entertaining essays in squalor and rebellion.” Herald

“The best guide to the Underground since Charon ferried dead souls across the Styx.” Independent on Sunday

“Passionately serious, irresistibly compelling, and hilariously good-humoured.” Professor Ronald Hutton, Bristol University

“Searching, funny, intelligent and illuminating.” Deborah Orr, The Independent.

She Sells Sea Shells

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Lots to cover this week.  Thanks for all the views last week.  Some strange allegations knocking about on social media, but I can assure you I AM REAL.  I’ve got a Twitter account and everything!  I’m feeling those computer keys under my fingers all plasticy and I can feel my (very firm) glutes on my office chair all cushiony right now!  Lol.  See?  Real.

Well well well.  So the Savoy Snooker Club is going to be improved!  I actually can’t pretend not to be very very excited about this.  What a beautiful design.  It’s the absolute epitome of style that Whitstable should be aiming for.  The litmus test is this – would Prince Charles hate it?  Yes?  Then build it.  Snooker is an utterly pointless hobby.  Notice I say ‘hobby’ and not ‘sport’. It should be eradicated.

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It’ll be interesting to see if they pull off the wine bar.  Whitstable has always struggled with late night places to drink.  It just can’t cope. Things get messy. Ears get bitten off. Let’s hope they manage to open an actual wine bar – not a pretend wine bar (you all know where I mean). An actual wine bar that is exactly like any of the millions of places you can drink after 11pm in London.  I’ll tell you what will happen though.  It’ll start out sort of ok, then drift into a Whitstable nightclub, finally morphing into a dodgy, dark, scary cavern like the one that used to be at the Continental years ago (never went in but saw it get raided once).  Or the one that used to be at the back of the big pub in the middle of town.  I had the misfortune to end up there one night a couple of decades ago.  I don’t want to talk about it though. *Shudder*.

On to other stuff.  My youngest daughter was laughing about the tongue twister She Sells Sea Shell on the Sea Shore.  ‘Dad,’ she said, ‘How does “she” get away with selling the sea shells on the sea shore, when her customers could just pick them up for free all by themselves?’

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Free pebbles if you can be arsed

An excellent question.  And the answer is that they are very stupid.  And “she” is very clever.

I remember coming to Whitstable in the early naugties when the DFL thing had turbo charged it’s way beyond the  critical tipping point of no return.  I was amused to see a shop (run by a DFL with a beard) selling pebbles that had been given a flattering coat of see-though nail varnish.  They were going for a stonking £1 each.  He was doing a roaring trade selling them to other DFLs who, if they weren’t quite so stupid, could have just picked them up off the beach all by themselves. This in turn brings me to the news today about attack by anti-gentrification protesters on the Cereal Killer Cafe for selling cereal at extortionate prices.

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Genius at work. Keep Stoopid off the streets boys!

The attack was utterly barbaric and I’ll tell you why – the cereal peddlers were doing humanity a favour.  All the customers they had managed to corral into their shop were really really thick.  Those beardy meusli pushers had single handedly rounded up the top 2% of stupid in the whole borough and were holding them there, keeping the rest of us safe, preventing any number of idiotic actions they might have carried out had they had the sense to go to Tesco Metro up the road and buy a packet of Alpen and a pint of milk for a fraction of the price.  I actually think the protesters should have been praising the beardy brothers for keeping Stoopid (collective term for an entire strata of fuckwits) off the streets, preventing them from mingling with the rest of us.

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Stoopid desperately lining up to pay £4.50 for a bowl of cornflakes.

On the face of it, It’s quite astonishing that this kind of protest hasn’t happened in Whitstable when you consider how the town has shape shifted since 1990, but there are two reasons it hasn’t happened.  First, it is because no one can be bothered.  The crusties that came here in the mid 1990s to stop the road being built either moved on to more exciting protests, are dead, or stayed and are too wasted to protest about anything.  Second, reluctant as they are to admit it, locals actually prefer the town now.  It’s better.  It’s less shite.  Fact.

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Right, I’m off to the health food shop for some help with my hormones.  Not feeling myself a the moment.  I’ll dedicate another post to it but I honestly think I am entering the male menopause.  It’s very troubling.  And I’ve found grey hairs in my beard.  I don’t know what to do.  The bruvs at the Cereal Killer Cafe have silver hair, but their beards are mysteriously dark.  I wonder what their secret is?  Any advice would be most welcome.

Laters!

Back With a Vengeance

Have you missed me?  Well, I’m back in the Bubble.  I’ve been out of the country for a year and that’s why I haven’t blogged.  And before I hear any of you saying ‘Der, you can do it from anywhere in the world!’  The real reason is that I really just couldn’t be bothered.  Soz!

We’ve been in the States, mostly in New York.  The wife was given an amazing opportunity we couldn’t refuse, so we put the girls in boarding school (not entirely my preference) and off we went.  It’s been epic!  Obvs, not just a crucial supporting role for me. I had lots of very important film opportunities, let’s just say documentary type opportunities, to explore out there too.  Lots.

Anyway, I’ll be giving you the odd anecdote about my adventures state-side in good time, but this post is mainly dedicated to what’s the same and what’s different in Whitstable since I’ve been gone.

So, I’d like to invite you to take a little virtual walk along the High Street and around the famous sights of the town and help me re-familiarise myself with my adopted home and the people in it

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  • Bretts – Oh yeah. There it is.  I can feel my alveoli swelling with dusty gunk already.

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  • The Gorrell Tank – Still not repaired it then? What a surprise… Trade must have been good this year.  Not!

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  • The old Post Office sorting office – I understand there’s been all sorts of drama about this shutting and various doomed attempts to take it over as a community space. Simple solution that would really serve a lot of people like me in the town is to invite Waitrose to open a new store here.  I’m going to start a campaign!

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  • The Handsome Sam – Good good, another micro pub – shame it’s at the boring end of town. Probably give it a swerve.
  • Another café in Harbour Street – exactly what the town needs. As my office can be anywhere, the more alternatives, the better.
  • Another gallery – exactly what the town needs. Looks like they are actually attempting to exhibit good art too.  I’m in shock quite frankly.

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  • The Post Office has vanished!   And turned into a mobile thingy. Didn’t really use it to be honest – flattening that eyesore has made way for more much needed housing for people to relocate to the town.  There’s no going back to the way Whitstable was before (see previous post).  Embrace DFLs and enjoy the London cultural influences they bring!  The town needs their money.
  • 10842722-largeNew accommodation for unaccompanied young men at the old Ladesfield care home – been watching reaction to this on Facebook, particularly the volatile and mostly aggressive opinions on the group ‘Overheard in Whistable’. I think it’s quite right the empty building was used but it seems there is a lot of angry townspeople who disagree.  Negative opinions are mostly ‘not in my back yard’ right wing knee jerk hot air from what I’ve read. These children need to live somewhere! It’s only when you’ve lived in a truly multicultural city like London or New York – then come back – that you realise how bland the town is.  Come on Whitstable!  Let’s face it – you’re whiter than a vanilla Minimilk!  A diverse community is a rich community.  One of the happiest outcomes of the growing Eastern European community in this and neighbouring towns is the Polish food aisle in Tescos! Who can honestly say they don’t love that? No one, that’s who.  Looking forward to the Syrian, Iranian and Libyan aisles in the future.

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  • Another observation – distinctly less beards! Now this isn’t a bad thing for me.  I read an article in the Guardian which suggested we had gone beyond ‘peak beard’ and we’re now, as a society about to enjoy a new bald chin era.  It also suggested a phenomenon called ‘Negative Frequency-Dependent Sexual Selection’ – where women favour men with a different face-barnet to every other male in the room.  Well I’m alright then!  I’m one of a few with a great big beard in the town now.  Move over baldies – restrain your women – I’m back and I’m bearded! Lol!

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  • One thing I’m glad to see is no different at all: Georges Mini Market. A mecca. I’m not sure what we humble townsfolk would do without it.  I buy all my beard products in there for half the price.  You have no idea how expensive serum is in America!

Now this brings me on to a little anecdote about my time in the US.  There weren’t many beards around in the circle of friends we’d become part of, so while Pip was away one weekend, feeling homesick, I decided to go out in the city and see if I could grab an early evening beer in a place that reminded me somewhat of Shoreditch.  Sure enough, I came across a bar that seemed to have a higher than average proportion of similar looking beardies like me.  I had a couple of (to be honest, piss poor, weak) American beer and chatted with a couple of fellas at the bar.  I popped to the Gents and just as I was relieving myself, the young man next to me introduced himself as ‘Wolf’, then asked ‘Are you a Fozzie Bear lookin’ for love?’  I zipped myself up so quick I nearly became a eunuch!  I mean wtaf?  No!  So yeah.  Did a bit of googling on that one.  Looks like it’s a thing.  Not my thing, but it seems it’s not just the girls that love my face-locks.

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So, there’s two reasons why I thought I’d start writing my blog again.  First, the wife is away – we’re back in the country but she’s now working all over Europe, so I’ll have plenty of me-time to write.  Second, I’ve been roped into some project with a local woman who has suggested it would be a good idea to ‘drive up my stats’ before it starts.  Not really sure what she means or why, she’s keeping it all very mysterious.  But apparently my role as ‘fully assimilated DFL’ is core to the project.  Whatever.

Ah, it’s lovely to be home.  I’ve missed those sunsets!

Beardy-byebye!