Ted Shiress

Is it wrong to conform?

Posted on | May 23, 2015 | 3 Comments

I mounted my attack on Simon Stevens a while back now and as we’ve shook hands (spaz-stylee) and accepted our differences I have no desire to refuel the fire, but in the interest of free-journalism and debate I see no reason why I can’t counter his arguments. He recently took to the Huffington Post to discuss ‘normality’ or rather his understanding of it, and as normality is a somewhat artificial and fluid concept this is a problem in itself.

Many rightly argue that gender is not a binary concept and, to take this further, this applies for identity in general; people are a mix of many different things and it is which identity they decide to front that makes them who they are. Put me on stage and I’m a comedian, leave me with my record collection and I’m an obsessive music freak, put me in front of a woman I fancy and I’m a pathetic babbling nobody – these are three established identities that when put in the melting pot make Ted. As I’ve become older and [perhaps] wiser I have learnt to create a ‘live mix’ of my identities (though preferably less of the third) in accordance to who I’m with. This is the standard way of establishing one’s overall self and the most successful, if we didn’t conform in any way we’d have no means to interact with others – it is how we combine these parts that make us unique.

Perhaps several decades ago there was more of a clear trend in society but now there just isn’t, we have labels and in them we have subdivisions and if anyone is able to fully conform to one of them I’d argue they are pretty damn unique. This is why I’m uncomfortable with his attack on goths – I accept it is just an example but a bad one at that. People’s ‘gothness’ may manifest itself in many ways and many may like being part of a group and knowing you’re never too far from someone you share common ground with. I can’t see why a little feeling of belonging to a group is a bad thing and if that’s what normality is I’d argue it must be a good thing.

And should we really let our disability govern if we’re ‘normal’? The argument ‘I’m disabled and therefore an outcast so why should I bother?’ reeks of defeatism, and that’s coming from cynical me! I do somewhat admire the stubbornness not to change for anyone but this severely caps how much one gets out of relationships. Everyone aspires to others and seeks self-improvement and doing so is not compromising one’s identity but making it stronger.

Sorry Simon, but this is clearly the babblings of someone not very in touch with society and with little desire to engage. It’s fine that you are not very in touch because, as you’ve just argued, that makes you ‘You’, but considering this maybe lay off judging others?

Does Content Drive Traffic?

Posted on | May 4, 2015 | No Comments

One thing that bugs me about vloggers, Generation Youtube and that culture in general is it’s always a case of content over quality, many of them even admit what they make isn’t that good it’s just regular. Their shear perseverance in sharing whatever they do every day is what brings them their traffic. A healthy man’s stools seems an apt comparison for a number of reasons. This is irritating when it comes to making Cynic, which we can’t promise any regularity or consistency when it comes to uploading – so our hits suffer.

Having a huge ego I clearly have insecurities too and I felt jealous of these people, I wanted to see what it’s like to achieve mass-traffic just with a regular and reliable flow of content. Therefore I created a Youtube channel that promises to do just that and only that: the Ted’s Content channel.

contenttopUntitled

As you can see from the banner I made it quite clear that this is a one-stop-shop for content thinking that will be more than enough to drive the hits. I admit I had to drop the apostrophe in the channel title which brought me great pain, but this is what all the cool youngsters do so I thought if anything this would help. Also just with this tiny section of a screengrab you can see how many times the word ‘content’ is used, I was hopeful the shear frequency would be enough to convince viewers that this is what they are getting.

I have been running this channel for four weeks and every day I have uploaded content, like here…

And here…

And here…

And here…

Ok you get the picture, but I was hoping that this would be enough to drive the hits, as this is what everyone claims. Unfortunately a quick look in the Video Manager would confirm this is negative as all videos are on zero.
hits

So what am I doing wrong?

…I know, it’s giving a shit what people think! So come on people, through this labourious parody of vlogging culture you can see that it’s not regularity of content alone that drives traffic and no true fan gives a hoot about how often you upload as long as it’s good. So please, stop cluttering up the internet giving us a daily account of what you’ve eaten that no-one really cares about and I will stop saying the word ‘content’.

Though just one more time…

New Zealand – where bad food is good.

Posted on | April 10, 2015 | No Comments

My taste in food is close to an oxymoron, I like bad food that’s made well – treat me to a high quality burger, pie, curry or fry-up and I’ll do something very appreciative in your face. Perhaps with the exception of a curry it amazes me how hard you have to look to find a decent one of these over here. Breakfasts are the worst, you can either find a massive greasy job where the sausages contain less pork than a mosque or something caringly made with decent ingredients… but it’s tiny! What about those who like to cure their hangover with a pile of succulent crisp bacon, three flavoursome bangers, a couple of decent eggs and a load of butterfried fresh mushrooms? I’ve found very few places over here that satisfy this desire.

Having come back from a holiday in New Zealand I can say that like rugby, this is something the Kiwis do much better. I sampled some of the greatest breakfasts I had over there – making the daring combination of quality and quantity. Over there when you order bacon you get BACON! It’s fresh, crispy, often honey-cured, has less water content than the Sahara and there’s tonnes of it. Same with the other fry-up essentials, the sausages are big, fat and made of very little but pork; the eggs are fresh, usually local and massive and the tomatoes are plump, plentiful and sweet. Why can’t it be this way over here?

Me at the Par Homestead cafe, Auckland. OH YEAH!

Me at the Par Homestead cafe, Auckland. OH YEAH!

Pies too. Like the UK, NZ is pie mad – but Kiwis actually care about what goes in their pies. Even the ones you get from a standard cornershop (a ‘Dairy’ as their known) are seldom anything less than satisfying containing huge chunks of things that actually resemble meat. Although I have a soft spot for Cardiff’s ‘Clarkie’ there is no other cheap readily-available pie I’d go anywhere near over here. I have no doubt put on weight due to the amount of pies I ate over there, but I don’t care as it was worth it.

The slightly disappointing thing about this trip was the decline of the ‘NZ takeaway burger’ as the cult of American ‘Gourmet’ burgers is phasing them out, but I did find a few and they were definitely worth it! The pattie itself is homemade and often consists of little but beef and the other fillings are so generous that I don’t see how anyone could eat one tidily. And the proper NZ-style ones actually contain beetroot. Yes, beetroot! What more could you want along-side your parttie? It’s not just burgers, everything else on a standard chip-shop menu is just laughably better than here – and often cheaper!

So yeah, that’s why I’m larger than I was four weeks ago.

Masticating With Company

Posted on | March 16, 2015 | No Comments

Readers here know that if there’s two things I like it’s talking and food, but one thing I’m seeming to dislike with age is talking and food combined. As children we are taught not to speak with our mouthful but mothers woefully neglect to tell their young not to expect others to talk with their mouthful and it drives me mad. This may be a Cerebral Palsy thing or just a me-being-an-anti-social-pig thing but I adore masticating and I also adore doing it in public with others (it’s a perfectly good term, calm down); but I always find my enjoyment capped when I’m expected to answer illtimed questions.

Invariably I’ll be at a social gathering, I’ll locate what seems like an empty twenty-second window, take a nice big faceful and bang, I get asked a question! What is expected to happen in those twenty seconds? I’m not really expected to answer, am I? And, if so, do they know what this will entail? Perhaps, despite what mummy said, most able-bodied dudes have mastered juggling lexemes and foodstuffs simultaneously but expecting a dude with CP to do it is just a recipe for disaster. Instead I’ll be sitting there silent chomping and all the while I can see them wondering why the question has gone unanswered. I try to use a series of gestures including pointing to the mouth and a circling of the finger to denote a process being in place but these often fall on blind eyes. (Yes, it’s an idiom I just invented.)

I kicked off the year with a series of promising dates with someone but unfortunately both parties agreed the spark waned after repeated meetings. One of the most recordable signs of this was the amount of food she had projected in her face. On initial meets conversation flowed so easily that… well, so did other things from my mouth I could not find time to swallow. But after a while the conversation, while still good, wasn’t quite enough to retract any semi-digested food from my mouth. I’m just looking forward to finding the girl I’m still firing food at on Date 10.

Dining out alone this often happens with waiters, they’ll bring me a new pint just as I’m chewing thus leaving me the dilemma of how to thank them without sharing more than they’d wish. Most of the time I just settle for a series of appreciative grunts and a thumbs-up but even then I wonder if my appreciation has been registered.

My PA/carer/helper/whatever-the-term-is is great here, she understands fully that eating-time for Ted is no-talking-time for Ted. She doesn’t mind that I will probably load her up with a number of things I need doing before the plate hits the table. I do worry this is rude but feel more comfortable after realising the alternative involves a load of spitting, coughing and burping.

So what’s the conclusion? I guess it’s people with CP eat alone for a reason!

Why I Rant

Posted on | February 18, 2015 | No Comments

I like to rant, noticed? I shan’t bore you with the reasons you’re already expecting from me (eg, cp sucks, people suck, the world sucks, I, when against your mother’s nipples, suck etc) but there’s another reason why I favour ranting on stage: it’s more creative. Many times something will happen that seems just perfect to retell ‘as it is’ on stage but the trouble here lies you’re relying on fate to come up with something just as honed as your other material. For example, at my last few gigs I have tried retelling a stand-up-orientated version of The Empire tale, and it’s working ok but I can sense bits where it lacks pace due to my desire to tell the full tale.

The trouble with funny stories is that they are already funny (or you can easily tell them in a way that makes them funny), they are like a fillet steak to a chef – too expensive to mess around with. Therefore you will inevitably end up with sections of narrative that go on too long without a punchline but are essential for the tale to work; and yes, you can insert your own bits between the narrative but this feels like you’re breaking the tale up and if it’s not that funny why tell it? Perhaps when and if I build hour shows I’ll have one or two narrative bits in the middle to slow it down and bulk up the show but in a shorter set they still feel a distraction.

My bit on navigating my mobility scooter through a Tesco’s Metro is my favourite routine to perform and the one I’m most proud of, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that there was originally little funny in the premise. When I started creating this routine it came from a place of genuine rage, as navigating my mobility scooter through a Tesco’s Metro does genuinely do my nut, and there was nothing immediately funny to say. However I had found a great place to be funny, being so emotionally fused by the topic all I had to do was convert the reasons this makes me angry into a series of reasonably honed gags and I had the perfect routine. This bit even contains a borderline-hack joke about self-service checkouts and a shamefully obvious joke about confusing petit pois and a little bag of peas, however when wrapped up in rage they work perfectly.

Or perhaps I’m just a bad story-teller – or one whose stories aren’t best suited for his style of stand-up. I have once done a story-telling night where I talked about growing up at a specialist boarding school and enjoyed it, though being used to stand-up the decreased consistency of laugh breaks did make me feel uncomfortable. Either way I’ll mainly stick to ranting for now. RAH.

The Picky and Pointless

Posted on | February 15, 2015 | No Comments

As everyone knows I detest having people run around for me. OK, that was a lie – I love it, but I love it when it’s done due to worship of my undeniable superiority to every living thing; I don’t love it when it’s down to me requesting things that appear picky and pointless. However, when living with a significant disability sometimes your independence can rely on the seemingly picky and pointless.

Four words I use very often and despise myself for saying are “Drink on the left”. Both my arms move around more than the average pair but as my left moves a lot more it gets banished under the table away from any food and drink; therefore the left of my plate is a safe place for a glass and a straw I can just duck down to reach. This can’t be said for the right, with a haphazard arm flailing around trying pathetically to insert every scrap of food into my desperate fat face, therein lies the importance of my frequent request for the “Drink on the left”. The issue is, I tire of saying this and I’m sure many waiters who can’t think exactly like someone with my variety of CP find this a pain too. There are times I’ll be in a restaurant and a pint will arrive when I’m mid-mouthful meaning it won’t be until the waiter is almost back to the kitchen before he’ll get called back to put it on the left. I’m also sure my father often puts my pint on the right of my food when we’re eating together just so I have to annoy myself by repeating this request.

(The amount of times I’ve used the words ‘drink on the left’ above has caused an acute batch of self-loathing, excuse me while I apply an icepack to where my head has been banged into the wall.)

Similarly there’ll be times when I’m trying to attack something like pizza, naan or a steak and I have to request the waiter recut it as the cuts aren’t clean and the bloody thing is still joined up! I’m aware this makes me sound like a right arse but the truth is clean cuts are what determines my ability to insert it into my fat face.

Admittedly people are far too pc to ‘fess up to feeling annoyed at a disabled person’s requests but I bet they are sometimes especially if their importance isn’t obvious – I’m sure I’d be – and that’s especially after I ranted about people making their own mind up how to help you. However it is often the little things that make a big difference. There’s no real solution to this other than to feel comfortable in your requests and to hope people are more understanding than me!

Empire bridge-building

Posted on | February 5, 2015 | No Comments

As a cripple I find it hard to build literal bridges and as a bloke I find it hard to build metaphorical bridges, but last night a return to The Empire saw a huge amount of metaphorical bridge-building. Ever since my overtly-abrasive blog picked up a thousand times the media attention I thought it would (I mistakenly thought cranking up the language would keep off too much interest) a lot has been done at The Empire to make sure similar events never occur. I can safely say I had a lovely meal where I was treated incredibly well by the staff – if there was a bit of awkwardness it was purely down to us being men and how men struggle saying things like ‘it’s all fine now’ and ‘no, it’s totally forgiven’. But I do feel it is both ‘all fine now’ and ‘totally forgiven’.

Following the media spat, Chris, the PR manager, put out a statement saying all staff were being sent on a compulsory disability-awareness course and at the time I did not know if this was fact or just a statement put out for damage-limitation. However, it became evident that this was fact and last night I could feel (even compared to the time I went in ages ago – way before the spat) that they were far more comfortable around me, even factoring in all parties being on best behaviour as this was my ‘make-up visit’.

It was very nice to have a chat with the, errr errrm awkward, the man it was all about and I may have errr errrrm said some less than savoury things about originally. He greeted me with a lot of warmth, shaking my hand, telling me I was always welcome and he was sorry for the events. Even if this was a result of a stern talking to he clearly listened and seemed a highly hospitable welcoming man. So, cheers mate, I appreciate it!

The meal itself was just how I remembered it – the gourmet end of Anglo-Indian cuisine, and it very much hit the spot for my taste-buds. I started with a tandoori mixed grill, which again wasn’t unfamiliar to most takeaway menus but clearly was prepared with much more care and higher quality ingredients. For my main I had a ‘Captain Pathia’ – a unique and far more subtle take on a pathia, accompanied with rice, naan and a saag paneer. All I found highly enjoyable and easy to demolish despite a hefty fry-up only several hours prior.

So a very nice evening, I’ll definitely return when I want a high-end ‘Indian’.

Unhelpful Help

Posted on | January 28, 2015 | No Comments

One thing I ranted about when I gave more of a shit to keep this blog alive was crips who have a knack of getting everyone nearby to drop everything to help them – I don’t think it’s an acceptable way to behave and puts pressure on people who have no obligation to help. However I was recently reminded of the flip-side of this argument – the times when you unwillingly acquire the ‘help’ of everyone in the vicinity and it is frankly quite embarrassing.

I was driving past an inaccessible but favourable Polish bakery and being the sour sod I am I fancied a doughnut to sweeten me up. I went with my usual tactic of driving up to the door, poking my head around it, deciding what I want and asking to purchase said item. Previously this game-plan has proven fruitful: it’s not that much effort for them, makes it easier for me and they get a sale out of it (plus I may even tip!). However this time there was an added complication: a bloke standing in the doorway obstructing my view of the counter. So I did what I thought was best: asked the dude to move.

“Excuse me mate…”

Nothing.

“Excuse me mate, I’m trying to see the counter, could you move please?”

Still nothing. Then after ten seconds he bursts into life, “Oh you want help coming in?”

“No mate, I just want…”, but it was too late, before I could convince him that I just needed him to shift his arse both him and another customer were lifting me out of my scooter and marching me to the counter. It must have looked like we were a trio of best mates after a heavy night in the pub. It felt awkward and unnecessary, I did appreciate the gesture but I could tell they didn’t really want to be doing it but felt they had to – despite my attempts to convince them otherwise.

Admittedly there’s little to do in such a situation – I tried hard to state such ball-busting wasn’t necessary but still through a misunderstanding and a sense of awkwardness they decided it was. I guess this shows that people are still uncomfortable around disability and can find their awkward desire to help overcomes any sense of rationality and ability to assess what actually is best for all parties. The message here is just to more comfortable as it’s not like I’m going to do anything violently inappropriate…

No wait, it’s me.

The Comedy Drug

Posted on | January 19, 2015 | No Comments

So my love/hate relationship with stand-up comedy continues. I say that, but mainly it is love – having a room full of strangers wait on your every word and laugh when (and normally only when) you want them to is my ego’s idea of bliss, however the endless traveling can get on your tits. That coupled with the endless promoters that see you do well but deem you ‘too risky’ (whatever the fuck that means) to offer paid work; the more open-minded promoters who only show when you suck and the endless drunks that tell you you’re great without seeming to have understood a single joke. It was for those reasons plus using the excuse I was working on Cynic (hardly valid as the episodes really don’t take long to write at all) that I took a break. By that I just mean I lost the motivation to hunt down any gigs.

Stand-up comedy is a lot like a drug – it has its extreme highs and lows yet when you are off it almost completely getting back on it seems nothing short of moronic. However it is a legal drug and therefore one that is backed by a scarily successful marketing campaign that knows just how to strike. Last week I gave the stand-up version of the Empire saga (now with a happy ending as the young waiter Sammi has been made manager) a trial run at a friend’s open mic gig and perhaps unfortunately it went down pretty well. Being a brand-new bit I came on script-in-hand and still managed to forget the exact version (and therefore a good few gags), yet somehow it still came out as paced and as punctuated as I wanted it, with laughs in all the places I had hoped.

Call this a relapse in my rehabilitation if you like or report it to my Comedians’ Anonymous group if you deem necessary but it felt good, damn good and enough of a high to give the drug another try. I guess now it’s just a case of searching down some gigs in remote places, convincing myself that £40 on a train journey really isn’t that much and believing a drunk telling me that I should be on telly is all the feedback I need to make it worthwhile.

Wish me luck.

The Empire Strikes Back!

Posted on | December 19, 2014 | 9 Comments

I like Indian food – by that I mean I like genuine Indian nosh plus I have a soft spot for the Anglicised version of the cuisine we too often call ‘Indian’; if I can find somewhere that does me a good quality dansak and saag paneer I’m happy. Given that I was pleased to discover Empire on Albany Road (a stone’s throw from me) which serves the food we mistakenly call ‘Indian’ at a standard considerably higher than your average takeaway.

Before last Saturday I had been there three times with few issues – once with my parents and the other times on my own but when the manager (who’s about to come the villain of this tale) wasn’t working. It was this Saturday things started to go horrendously dick-shaped, it was about 9pm and I decided to chance it to see if I could get a table so I walked in to be greeted by the youngish waiter I get on with and the manager who was standing at the bar. Despite visible empty tables the manager just glared at me before I even entered insisting “We’re full, go please!” while shaking his head, and the waiter echoed this in slightly nicer terms. Although I did not like this I thought I’d give them the benefit of the doubt – the tables may have been booked and he may have been stressed so I just went on my relatively-merry spacky way.

Fast-forward to Tuesday, after a conversation with my mother about where we’ll eat when she comes down for a few days on Thursday I decided to book a table, so I popped along thankfully to be greeted by the reasonably cool young waiter. He let me book the table but then told me the manager (who conveniently was off duty) wants me to come in with a ‘caretaker’. At this I became fairly angry and informed the waiter (in just slightly more pc terms) that I go out by myself all the time and his manager is being an absolute waterhead; to which he kind of agreed and told me I just need to talk to the manager. So I went on my slightly less merry spacky way but hoped things would sort themselves out on Thursday.

Alas they did not, on arriving on Thursday mum and I decided I walk into the restaurant first – not an overly-provocative move but one enough to make a point we thought. On doing this the twattish glaring and head-shaking started again as he started to inform me they were, yet again, ‘full’. At this point I could sense my mother losing her rag as she popped out to remind the waiter I had booked. The sight of my mother then pleased the waiter as he said “Oh good, you have a responsible adult this time”. Reasonably my mother then inquired what this meant explaining that she may be my mother but she’s also my guest who lives in London and does not look after me. He clearly failed to process this information as he went on to insist “He” (yes, ‘he’!!) “needs a caretaker, what if he had an accident?”. Although she then tried suggesting anyone could have an accident I had had enough at this point and insisted we go, trying to say a fairly genuine goodbye to the friendly young waiter before leaving.

Just not acceptable.

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