Becky says things about … food

Food, Listener. Food.

You know what I’m talking about. That limitlessly versatile concept that can make you weep with joy, laugh with elation, and soil yourself with excitement.

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Having been through the dark and exhausting world of an eating disorder and emerged the other side, I’ve finally reached a point in life where I can consume food without fearing that my bum is suddenly going to balloon outwards to resemble a small elephant. This is not because I have discovered the secret to eternal slender-lithe-slim-lean-ness, or have taken to wearing incredibly tight steel support pants, but because I am finally comfortable with my body. And consequently, I’ve rediscovered my love of food.

I’ve always loved food. I loved food even during my eating disorder – I was just terrified of it at the same time. It was a bit like having a dragon as a pet. You really love it, you think it’s really cute and you love hanging out with it, but you’re always conscious that it might suddenly blow a jet of fire out of its nostrils and burn your face off.

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I am inherently greedy, Listener. If I ate everything I wanted to eat, in the quantity and with the frequency that my gluttonous stomach desires, it wouldn’t take me long to grow to the size of the Arctic Circle, and meet an untimely death that would cause problems for those that entered the afterlife at more reasonable proportions.

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Food is exciting. And not just crazy food done in crazy Heston Blumenthal ways, like a Scotch egg in the shape of an aardvark with a fairy wing-infused golden goose egg in the centre, or a pureed bumble bee thermidor that turns to diamonds in your mouth and then sets your teeth on fire – ordinary food is brilliant. There are trillions of blogs, like the fabulous Food for Fun, dedicated to the majesty of food, because food floats people’s boats. Come on, who hasn’t been so excited over a piping hot spoonful of succulent beef stew that they have recklessly forgone the essential blowing technique and instead shoved it in their mouth and consequently experienced the hellish pain of a burnt oesophagus, or swallowed a mouthful of double chocolate fudge ice cream the size of a badger and cried?

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Food makes people happy. I love that it makes people happy. Are you eating something delicious right now, Listener? Is it making you happy? Well, I love that your tasty treat is making you happy. I have just eaten a slice of soft toast excessively, almost histrionically, slathered in Marmite. It’s made me extremely happy. (‘What’s Marmite?’ you lovely US of A Listeners cry. It’s a little black jar of a thousand hallelujahs, my friends. That’s what it is.)

The fact that eating is a basic human function and that we need to do it several times a day is also marvellous. There are relatively few basic daily human needs that are quite so enjoyable.

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I love all  food. I am the least fussy eater this side of Mars. All those foods that people can be a bit weird about – olives, seafood, Brussels sprouts, cottage cheese, liver, stomach lining, cow colon residue – I just can’t get enough. Tuna and cottage cheese sandwich? Why, yes please. Olives stuffed with anchovies? Don’t mind if I do. I am unfathomably grateful that I’m not a fussy eater. One, I would never have been invited round to chums’ houses to play as a child because no one likes the kid that only eats breadstick shavings, and two, isn’t it boring????

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(A thought – I like every food in the world apart from banana-flavoured products. I love bananas – I really enjoy a lone, uncontaminated banana – but hand me a banana-flavoured yoghurt, or milkshake, or ice cream, which will all, without shadow of a doubt, be the same sickly-phlegmy yellowy colour, and I will simply make a dignified exit and send you a follow-up email politely asking you never to speak to me again.)

One of the many joys of food is that we all have our dark little food secrets. These are the food secrets that make us a slightly less dignified, slightly more greedy, and slightly sillier person that we make ourselves out to be. An example, if you will permit me, is that I have just this minute finished a jar of peanut butter. All gone. Empty. (Very sad, I cried a bit.) And did any of the peanut butter in that jar see a slice of bread? Not one bit! I consumed the entire contents by periodically visiting it with a teaspoon and standing quietly in the kitchen making the very peculiar facial movements that a mouthful of peanut butter necessitates.

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This is one of my food secrets: I will eat anything from a jar with a spoon. I mean anything. Marmite, lemon curd, pickled onions, chutney, jam, chocolate spread, piccalilli (don’t ask me to explain that one, my American pals – even we Brits don’t know what the hell piccalilli is), mustard, capers, baby food (one of the darker food secrets there), anything. Not mayonnaise. That would be vile.

Another food secret is that I am an avid consumer of raw cake mix. Yep, I have been known to eat so much raw cake mix (a heavenly cocktail of raw flour, raw egg, butter and sugar, anyone?) that I’ve been forced to make some more in order to manifest a cake. It can take me a very long time to bake a cake.

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I can also eat anything for breakfast. None of this ‘Ooo, no, my stomach can’t deal with eggs in the morning’ or ‘Chocolate??? For breakfast???’ nonsense with me. Nope, I’ll have my head in a bag of chocolate buttons and a plate of cold lasagne before you can say ‘Becky, you repulse me’.

We all have these food secrets, these little moments alone when we check that no one’s watching, then shove our face through the skin of some day-old custard, because food is ours, it’s part of and borne from our personalities; the joy of food is a universal and yet personal thing.

Food brings people together. People get very passionate about their food preferences. Some of the most animated conversations and vicious arguments I have witnessed have been over food. When I used to work in a pub, I would amuse myself on a quiet Monday evening by asking the locals important questions such as ‘What’s your favourite sandwich’ or ‘What’s your ideal three-course meal’. I would go to the other end of the bar and return half an hour later to find grown men embroiled in a heated debate along the lines of:

‘Prawn mayonnaise? Fucking prawn mayonnaiseYou want your head examined, mate. Egg and cress all the way.’

‘Egg and cress? You’re talking out your arse, mate. Salmon and cucumber or nothing.’

‘Wanker.’

‘Tosser.’

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We Brits can be very territorial about our food. We love food. It gives us something to do during those moments of devastating social awkwardness. And we get particularly territorial – riled, even – when we go to places like, oh, I don’t know, the United States of America, and find that the Americans are using food out of context. A prime example of this is the concept of biscuits. To us Brits, a biscuit is an everyday sugary treat, a necessity of life. We dunk them in our tea. We eat them at parties. We like them so much, websites have been dedicated to the concept of having a nice cup of tea and a sit down. 

So when we get to America and ask for some biscuits and are presented with a thick, glutinous flob of soggy dough that is then smothered with thick, glutinous gravy (gravy, Brits! Gravy!!!!) made from pork meat, flour and milk – we are, to put it mildly, absolutely ruddy furious.

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We will also be plunged into tremendous confusion and emotional upheaval when we see signs for ‘jelly on toast’. Jelly on toast??? we will mutter fervently to each other. What kind of perversion is this??? Because, you see, jelly in Britainland is your jello. We Brits do not eat jelly on toast. That would be foolish and distressing. No, we eat jam on toast. Because that is what it is. Jam. Get it RIGHT, America. Stop putting food out of context. 

However – and I say this at risk of being pelted with banana yoghurts by my fellow Brits – I have had one of my most magical food experiences in America. In Las Vegas. At the Wynn Hotel. The Breakfast Buffet. 15 food stations. Two hours. Heartburn to take down an entire city. The most heavenly morning of my life.

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So, dearest and most hungry of Listeners, enjoy your grub, stuff your face, tell me your darkest food secrets, and, if you are American, sort out the biscuit / jelly thing. You’ll be a better country for it.

Becky says things about … the little embarrassments of daily life

Faithful Listener, I embarrassed myself today.

Someone waved at me. I didn’t know them, but I waved back. It’s polite to return a cheery salutation. Then I realised they were waving at the person behind me, who did know them. I was embarrassed. I immediately pretended I was receiving an important phonecall, and proceeded to put my silent phone to my ear and talk into it. There was no one on the other end of the phone, Listener. No one. Just my own crippling indignity.

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And the whole sorry incident led me to contemplate the little embarrassments with which we must contend in daily life. No one escapes them. Least of all me. I am constantly embarrassed.

My above example is an excellent one.  Pretending to be on the phone. We’ve all done it. It gets us out of various disagreeable situations, in particular:

  • A boring conversation. Someone’s talking at you. They’re boring you. You need an ingenious escape. You reach for your bag or pocket. You say ‘I’m so sorry, I just have to get this’. You walk away and have a conversation to no one for three minutes, hoping that by the time you get back to the boring person they’ve forgotten what they were telling you and will talk about something more interesting.

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  • Avoiding someone you don’t want to talk to. You see someone approaching whom you just know is either going to demand that money you’ve owed them for three years, or will ask you again to go out with their acne-riddled and rather maladroit brother. So it’s phone out, head down, and there ensues an extremely intense conversation to NO ONE along the lines of ‘Yes, I know they said they’d get it done by Tuesday, but Tuesday  isn’t soon enough, I need it by Monday or the whole deal will fall through, and you know what that means’. Crisis averted.

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However, these sudden-important-phonecall strategies will not pass without embarrassment. Your phone will ring as you have it desperately pressed to your ear whilst absorbed in fervid conversation. Why is your phone ringing as if someone is calling you whilst you’re having a conversation into it? Is it because there’s no one there and you’re actually just pretending to have an important conversation to avoid talking to someone? Yes. Yes it is. You socially awkward buffoon.

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But Listener, these daily trifles can always be made more embarrassing. Observe.

Not long ago, I was walking. I saw my friend walking towards me. A friend whom I regularly call ‘Cockface’. As it was definitely my friend who was walking towards me, I waited until he was close enough to definitely hear me, and I called out, nice and loudly, ‘All right, Cockface’.

It wasn’t my friend. Not even a little bit.

What do you do, wise Listener, when you have yelled ‘All right Cockface’ in the face of an innocent bystander? Do you chuckle, apologise profusely, say ‘I’m so sorry, I was convinced you were my friend’, both have a bit of a laugh and continue on your journeys amused by this light-hearted yet harmless bungle? Or do you do what I did and whip your hand to your face, make that shape with you little finger and thumb that is the well-recognised international symbol for ‘phone’, and start talking into it?

No. No of course you don’t. Because then not only would you have called a stranger ‘Cockface’, but you would have made yourself appear mentally dangerous by having an intense conversation with your own hand.

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But what about the other little embarrassments that plague our daily life? Anyone run for a bus, missed the bus by a millisecond, and turned your desperate sprint for transport into a casual afternoon jog? Of course you have. You probably do it every day. And what about that little accidental trip up a kerb? Turned that into a playful jog as well, did you? Thought you’d style it out and run a few steps like you were suddenly filled with the joys of life and just had to expend some energy? Of course you did.

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And don’t forget the friendly toot from a car horn. You’re crossing the road. The car at the crossing toots at you. You cannot ignore that toot. It is the toot that says ‘The person who is driving this car recognises you as a chum and would like to register their greeting by utilising their automobile’s method of acknowledgement; furthermore, they demand a response’.

You give the windscreen a cursory glance. Your worst fears are immediately realised: all you can see in the windscreen is a reflection of the sky. 

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You have two choices:

1) You ignore the toot and walk on. When you are later faced with a chum who says ‘Hey, I beeped at you earlier and you completely ignored me’, you say ‘Oh, did I? God, I’m so sorry, I must have been in a world of my own’. Situation resolved. You win. Have a biscuit.

2) You throw caution to the wind and peer at the windscreen, squinting like there’s no tomorrow, knowing full well that the person in the car is thinking ‘Christ, she looks like a ruddy idiot squinting like that – she’s known me 20 years, can’t she see me? Why is she making that stupid face? Bloody hell, she looks like an absolute dick, I wish I’d never tooted in the first place. Jesus, this is embarrassing, maybe I should just run her over and make this whole situation less awkward for both of us. I could say I was overcome by a sneezing fit and accidentally put my foot down. Oh, this is horrible.’

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It is a terrible, terrible situation. The only real way to escape it is simply to run away. Just leg it. Then deny you were ever on the scene. They can never prove it was you.

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And I haven’t even mentioned bodies, Listener. Bodies. The very structures that comprise our existence are mortifying. 

You nip to the toilets at work. You smile at Sandra from Accounts plucking her chin hairs in the mirror. You enter a cubicle. You sit down. A fart like a foghorn bellows forth into the aural receptors of everyone within a 60 foot radius, not least Sandra from Accounts whose hairy chin suddenly doesn’t seem quite so embarrassing. You can do nothing but curl up into a toilety ball.

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The list goes on. The violent sneeze that releases a small but entirely audible parp from your lower regions, the unexpected burp that erupts in the middle of a supermarket aisle and offends a nearby elderly gentlemen, the thoroughly unannounced throat gurgle that growls like an angry tortoise in an otherwise silent office. Your body is your enemy on these occasions. It is a vile, shameless noise machine with the sole intention of causing you social angst and self-disgust.

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Listener, these are the moments that make us the people we are today. Let us laugh at ourselves and the social gaffes that bedevil our existence. And if you find yourself faced with a moment of particularly acute mortification from which you believe you cannot recover, just do as Basil Fawlty does in such moments, and freak out.

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Becky says things about … a plea for summer

Dear The Rest of the World

Hello. My name is Becky. I live in England.

Someone’s got to.

I am writing on behalf of my country. This is not a begging letter as such; it’s more of polite request from one nation to another at a time of crisis.

You see, we in England – you know, that poor sod of a country that looks like a toddler has been sick on the world – have just been informed by our Weather Lords (otherwise known as the Met Office) that we, to put it bluntly, can shove our summers up our flabby English arses.

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Apparently, due to the fact that the Atlantic is going through a ‘warm spell’, we are going to get rained on. For a decade. Possibly two. One of our wonderful newspapers – ironically called The Sun (oh, such vicious irony) – reports it here.

Now, clearly we are not thrilled by this news. We love summer. We haven’t had a proper one since 2006. There are 5, 6, 7 year-olds in this country who don’t know what summer is. In fact, if we were to suddenly have a summer, it may cause them psychological damage.

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To understand our plight, here are some useful statistics:

  • English families own an average of 49.6 umbrellas per household.
  • More English people die on the one sunny day of the year in the stampede for BBQ coals and sausages than in the rest of the 364 days of the year put together.
  • In England, yearly sales of an expensive perfume made from scrapings of goat’s bladder and guinea pig mucus are higher than sales of sun cream.
  • The average 6 year-old thinks a ‘bucket and spade’ is the name of a level on Mario Kart.
  • The average English person cannot watch an episode of Baywatch without crying. Not at David Hasselhoff’s beauty, but at the weather.

(Statistics provided by beckymakesupstatistics.com.)

But we are a nation of triers. We stoically stand around in mud at our music festivals (curative trench foot measures really have improved). We like to keep our gardens looking nice even though we can only spend three days a year sitting in them. We love a BBQ. Boy, we just love a BBQ.

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But you know what?

It’s rubbish.

We have lived in a damp, dark cave for too long. And it’s only going to get worse.

So please. This is a plea to the rest of the world to HELP US. For the love of God.

HELP US.

Australia: you have heaps of sun. I mean, do you really need it all? Don’t you get tired of it? Constantly feeling sweaty, always having to take cool-down showers? It must be really, really irritating. And you don’t even have enough people to appreciate it! 23 million people! In a country  31 times the size of England.

Come on. Does that sound fair? I’m sure all that dirt and rock is really making the best of your endlessly sunny days.

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And Greece. Your weather is lovely. I was on your sunny shores just recently, and I got more Vitamin D in 10 days than I’ve had in the last 10 years. Yeah, I know you’re a bit strapped for cash at the moment, and things aren’t great, so why not ship over some of your sun to us! Think what you’d save on the air conditioning!  The woolly jumper industry would go through the roof!

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Our chums in America. Or buddies, if you will. Hi there. You remember us. We’re like you’re cute little sister who keeps falling over and hurting her knee. You like us. Will you help us out? I know you’ve got loads of sun because I’ve been to lots of your states. It took me a mere 20 minutes to get sunstroke in Death Valley. Is that necessary? Can’t you turn the heat down a bit? Give us a few degrees? And what about Utah? I saw nothing but blue skies in Utah, and there is a lot of empty space in that state. Florida? Fed up with us pasty English folk descending on you every month of the year and eating all your doughnuts and talking loudly about how nice the weather is in the queues at Disneyworld? Well give us some sun to take home with us and we’ll stay in our country a bit more and won’t bother you. 

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I don’t know how you’re going to do it. I don’t know which airline offers the best rates on transporting sun. I don’t know whether you can take it as hand luggage or whether you’d have to check it in. I just don’t know. I’m just asking you to help us. Please. Send us some sun. Don’t keep it all to yourselves. Share and share alike.

And as I wrote that sentence, the sun came out. Whoever sent that over: THANK YOU.

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It’s gone back in again. STOP PLAYING MIND GAMES WITH US. WE ARE FRAGILE AND PRONE TO WEATHER-INDUCED HYSTERIA.

Thank you for listening

Kind regards

Becky (on behalf of England) xx

Becky says things about … St Patrick’s Day

I hadn’t intended to say things about St Patrick’s Day, not being Irish, a fan of Guinness, or small men with ginger beards, but when I saw the effort Stickman had gone to, I couldn’t really ignore it.

Just look at him.

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I am a little concerned that he’s started drinking Guinness so early, as it’s well-known that Stickman can’t really handle his liquor, but I’m hoping he’ll remain sensible and we won’t have to go through the ridiculous palaver that St Patrick’s Day always turns out to be.

Listener, last year I took him to see Riverdance. He got so drunk in the bar beforehand he stormed the stage, tried to join in, and passed out. I was literally mortified.

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Then the year before we went to a house party, and needless to say Stickman got stuck into the black stuff. After several pints – which is several more than he can handle – the following incident occurred. (Unfortunately, I was unable to intervene as I myself had got rather inebriated and was gorging on the host’s secret supply of crumpets, as I am wont to do.)

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Needless to say I was very embarrassed when a fellow party-goer rushed into the kitchen, where I had my face in a plate of hot buttered crumpets, and relayed the whole sorry episode to me. I took Stickman home and put him to bed with an Aspirin. I suppose it’s my fault for not having the ‘leprechaun talk’ with him at a younger age. 

Then of course there was the year that Stickman went totally over the top with the whole wearing green clothes thing, and unfortunately several dimwitted Sunday drivers mistook him for a giant green light.

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Not forgetting the year I took him to the largest collection of four-leaved clovers in the world, and, due to the fact that Stickman was feeling a little down on his luck – he had squandered a considerable amount of money on gambling, drink, drugs and stickwomen – he thought it would be a good idea to eat the entire collection of priceless four-leaved clovers.

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Now, listener, I don’t know whether you’ve ever consumed fifty kilograms of clover. That’s a lot of clover. Even a dainty nibble on just a couple of leaves can leave a bitter taste in the mouth, so can you imagine what fifty kilograms of clover does to a man? And, moreover, a man made of stick?

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I was scooping him off the walls for eight hours, listener. And I had to pay the owner of the collection £3,000,000,000,000 in compensation, which is a fair old amount, and I don’t have that sort of money lying round, listener; so I was forced to sell my body and within two weeks I had made £50, and then I robbed a bank, so was able to pay up.

Fortunately, stickmen heal quickly, and even though he was a rather sickly shade of green for several months, he made a full recovery.

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So, hopefully, this year will be different. I’ve planned a nice day out at the St Patrick’s Day parade, followed by a hearty bowl of Irish stew at a local pub, and lots of jolly folk dancing and singing, and we’ll all be in bed by 11pm, happy, a little tipsy, and thoroughly delighted with how well the day went.

Come on then, Stickman, let’s get you out and…

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Oh for feck’s sake.

Becky says things about … a conversation with Stick Man

Hello, dear readers.

As I’ve been incredibly busy recently, and shamefully remiss about saying things about things, I thought I’d get Stick Man to chat to you while I’m finding time to say more things.

I’ve asked Stick Man to say a bit about himself and how he got into the blogging world, so hopefully it’ll be quite interesting for those of you who know other stick men who might like to get  into the industry, because it’s not easy – some of the working conditions really are appalling; I mean, they have to hang around inside Microsoft Paint waiting for their next job, and it’s cramped in there, and apparently the Cropping Tool is a right arrogant bastard, and the Edit Colours Box bangs on about when it coloured in a Banksy, which I don’t believe because I can’t see Banksy fiddling around with his laptop mousepad when he’s halfway up a ladder outside a prominent building in the dead of night.

But anyway, here’s Stick Man. Enjoy.

So Stick Man, thanks for taking time to talk to us. Can you tell us how you first got into the blogging world? Why did Becky choose you over literally millions of other stick men?

And what exactly do you do? What does being a stick man in a blog actually entail?

Can you give us an example of when you’ve done your own thing?

And how do you feel about sex scenes? Do you get nervous at all? And is there anything you can’t show, or can you just go for it?

Of course.

Ahem.

Er….

Stick Man, is there any advice you could give to other stick men who want to make it in the cutthroat world of stick men-related blogging?

Er… okay. Bit rude.

But maybe we can talk about your anger issues. I have heard you struggle with anger. Do you think it’s anything to do with a difficult childhood? A violent father, perhaps, or a distant mother?

So you’re estranged from her? Did she walk out on you as a child? Did she abandon you? Were you abandoned, Stick Man? Were you abandoned as a child?

Stick Man, there’s so much pain in you. I just see so much pain. Have you ever tried talking to someone? Instead of hiding behind your anger and your promiscuity, just talk to someone. What’s hurting you, Stick Man? What’s happened in your life that has been so terribly painful?

There are people who can help you, Stick Man. Go and see a stickotherapist. They will talk through your issues. Your drinking’s a problem as well, isn’t it?

Stick Man, you show a lot more of yourself in these blogs than you think you do. You allowed yourself to portray a woman who’d just lost her virginity in Becky’s post about Fifty Shades of Grey. I mean, that either takes a very gutsy actor, or a stick man who secretly yearns for the innocence his mother took away from him when she abandoned him as a child.

Stick Man…

Oh, bloody hell.

Look, for God’s sake Stick Man…

Oh well that’s charming.

Right.

Okay, sorry about that everyone. Didn’t go quite how I’d planned. He’s obviously got a lot of issues and I’m sure we all wish him the very best and hope that he gets the help he so clearly needs. Next time perhaps we’ll have a more civilised conversation with Stick Man, but until then, it’s probably best just to leave him be.

I’m just sorry this was such a disaster.

Never work with children, animals, or stick men.

Jeez.